I feel like this book is the real beginning of the world known as Shannara. The Legends of Shannara series starts after "our" world has ended and a small enclave of various races and creatures have taken shelter within a magical foggy shield. The world has been kept at bay as it crumbles under countless disasters, but this small group has lived in peace behind their magical walls, forming the beginnings of the kingdoms and regions I've grown to love over the vast Shannara series.
But the walls begin to crumble, and the outside world comes calling in a rather vicious and bloodthirsty way. Having been protected for so long, the people of Shannara are not prepared and don't even really believe the scouts who spotted the intruders - and the invaders. The outside world has been struggling to survive, and the formerly sheltered valley looks like a place they want to call home as well.
I found a lot of those traditional fantasy elements that I love so much. A handful of people slowly becoming a small part of 5 or 6. Different races and regions coming together, trying to save a world that doesn't even know (or want to admit) that it needs saving. Enemies and dangers hiding in plain sight and betrayal always a possibility with each new turn. By the end of the book, the lines have been drawn and many of the sides have been determined, but I haven't even gotten to the big fight yet. Things are still being prepared, and you never know what could happen next.
First of all, a warning. There is a rape scene in the book - mostly off page and handled as tastefully as one can handle that kind of trauma, but it's there, and some people won't be able to read it.
On to the review! Sam and Nick - DC's favorite couple. As they prepare to get married, Sam finds herself investigating yet another high profile murder case. When it comes to light that a Senator has been sleeping with a member of the cleaning crew - and she winds up dead - Sam knows there's more to the story than what first appears. Her gut rarely steers her wrong, and it's absolutely correct in this one. She finds herself investigating several political figures - some in very high places.
But the murderer is convinced he's untouchable and begins to make threats against Sam. Meanwhile, Nick is trying to plan their wedding and keep Sam safe. To top it all off, Sam's ex-husband is back in the story causing problems again. Sam and Nick's relationship really seems kind of settled in this one, so Marie has introduced a new romance that is so incredibly sweet.
Detective Gonzalez (Gonzo) has just found some incredibly exciting and scary news. He's afraid that it will tear his new relationship with Christine apart. But they are both amazing people and you just know they are meant to be together. It was a lot of fun to have this couple finding true love - even though their story wasn't the main event - it was prominent enough that it really stands out.
I really enjoyed the way the bear clan drama played out in Alpha's Queen. With both sides of an arranged marriage not that interested in getting married, a clan on the brink of civil war, and a power struggle within the Alpha's family, there is a lot going on. Lila Felix does a great job of tying it all together and using the political tension to show the hidden and overlooked strengths in Harrison and Atlas.
Harrison isn't all that interested in becoming the Alpha of the Black Bears. He was a fun character once I got past his disinterest in all things clan related and his desire to forgo his responsibilities. I kind of get why he felt that way once I saw more of his family.
Atlas was a bit of a sacrificial lamb. A member of the lower castes that were threatening revolution because of poor treatment by the royals, she was supposed to mend fences with a marriage. But we all know that doesn't usually work out. At first, she is torn between duty and following her heart. But meeting Harrison quickly changes her mind, and she finds herself neck-deep in the twisted politics and family drama that comes along with him.
There weren't any really surprising twists or turns in this one. It was just a well-told story of two fated mates saving their clan while finding love.
Two sisters fighting for the throne and kingdom go from family to enemies. Lu, the fighter and fiercely independent one, and be readying herself to become the first female leader of the kingdom. But her hopes are shattered when her father makes the unexpected decision to give the throne to her younger sister's, Min, fiance. A fiance that has ulterior motives and plans to rule with an iron fist.
Lu is a very strong, but unfortunately stubborn, character. She has a picture in her mind of how things should be and struggles to accept it when that picture is shattered by events unfolding around her. Forced to make allies in unusual places, we are introduced to Nokhai, a man from a culture and magical background thought to have vanished. But they will both find out that he is far more than what he seems, and his race is far from disappeared.
While Lu is a strong and likable character, I felt drawn to the story of Min. The younger daughter that grew up in the shadow of her sister. When she discovers she could be so much more, the power calls to her and she finds herself in the hands of a skilled manipulator that would do anything to keep her under his heel and under his control. He sees her ancient magic as a tool to recreate the world under his rule and wipe everyone who opposes him off the face of existence. She struggles to find out who she is and what her place in the world will be.
This is the first book in the Girl King series, and while it sets the stage for an epic fantasy battle, it is an amazing story on its own as well. There is much more to come in the world, and I feel several surprise revelations on the horizon as the sisters battle each other for the title of King.
**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book**
Elissa of Tyr is the first heart-bearer to have her own book, and I really really liked being able to just follow one of them for a little bit and see the adventure through their eyes.
Traveling with her dragon and her djinn - the conversations between these three were so great - they infiltrate the Emperor's magical shields on the land. This was a very quick read, but it still had a good dose of adventure, and I was able to meet some characters that I'm pretty sure will have some major actions to play in series as we move forward.
The magic of the land and the emperor's control over it were also detailed a little more, and his plans and schemes are starting to be revealed to the reader. There are some very interesting ideas here, but I can't say much more without giving some big things away.
This is definitely a series of books that need to be read in order! I hope it continues to show as the adventures of each heart-bearer as they make their way back into the world to fight the emperor and his evil plan. I am thoroughly enjoying this unique land and the creatures within it.
The first book in this new serial-style series from Lia Davis quickly introduces us to the worlds of the werewolves and the vampires. Distrustful of each other for what seems to have been forever, an unknown force is now trying to bring hostilities into an all*out war. I don't see too much of the person stirring up trouble and killing tons of werewolves and vampires, and Davis does a good job of showing just enough that of them that I really want to know who it is
Kane is the vampire prince, but in order to take his place on the throne, his mother expects him to have a mate first, Problem is, he's pretty sure his mother won't approve of his true mate - his heart and soul cry out for the werewolf princess.
The book sets us up for a bit of adventure, an interesting mix of a menage, and several conflicts to stand in their way. And let's not forget about the potential war brewing in the background, present enough that I never forgot about it, but never fully overshadowing the romance aspects.
**I voluntarily read a complimentary copy of this book**
I loved the story of The Lighthouse Keeper. It was fun, and just the right amount of light-hearted to suspenseful for a summer read. Dawn's character was an interesting one. An odd mix of old-fashioned and modern-day. Her search for a place to call home was always present, but not so much that I felt like I was getting hit over the head with it.
Her treasure-hunter parents were quite hilarious. I loved their conversations, and you could tell they were two people that were completely comfortable with themselves and around each other. But I wondered throughout the book why they hadn't put more effort into finding the missing silver pieces. Dawn's father feeds her information every now and then throughout her search, and I had to ask myself, why didn't he follow up on that? Why wait until now?
The mystery of the missing silver was a really good one. And it did keep me guessing up until near the end, but the author was also very careful not to give away any clues ahead of time.
However, I highly recommend you read this instead of listen to it. The narrator sounded a little too much like the computerized voice you hear on automated systems for me. There wasn't a whole lot of emotion or inflection (until she had to do a man's voice, and that was just overdone). I might continue on in the series. I have no idea what the next book might be about, but I'll definitely read it instead of listen this time.
Let's go back to Regency (I think, I'm not the best at the English eras) England only pretend that magic is real and an organized part of society. This is my dream book description. I love the English historicals, and I think they only thing they're missing is a good dose of supernatural mischief.
Zen Cho really brings the supernatural mischief, and I loved it so much. We have witches, sorcerers, Faery creatures, familiars, and a whole host of other potentially magical beings just thrown about in everyday life. (Can someone please build a machine to take me there.) Downfall, they don't really like when women work magic. And so our story begins!
Enter Zacharias, the Sorcerer Royal, and his new protege Prunella, an incredibly magical woman that Zacharias plans to reform the rules of society for so they will accept her as a member and not banish her (or worse) for being a sorceress. I adored Zacharias. He was smart, dedicated to his craft, and always the gentleman. Even as his opponents throw magical hexes and assassination attempts his way time and time again, he takes it all in a stride.
Prunella, on the other hand, I had mixed feelings about. At first, I loved her spunk and get-it-done attitude. Risking it all to follow her dreams and unlock the secrets in the relics her family left her. But as the story went on, I found her to be a bit grating. She rarely listened to the advice of anyone, and it often caused some major problems and ordeals. And in the end, she does something (that I dare not say or I will spoil so much) that made me positively dislike her. I know she did it for all the right reasons, but she was too cold about it. She needed to have an emotional reaction after the fact, and I didn't see it.
I have the paperback for book two on pre-order though. The entire English world built here has completely captivated me, and I wonder how it all plays out.
**I voluntarily read a complimentary copy of this book**
Zoey was a great teenage character. The new kid in school and feeling a bit like an outcast is something I could completely relate to. Being uprooted and moving is rough for anyone, but moving AND finding out that you're not exactly human? That would be super stressful.
To add to Zoey's difficulties, the older generations of her Ice Dragon family are a bit snobbish and don't think humans are good enough for their grand-daughter (even if she is only half-dragon).
I really admired the fight that Zoey found within her self and the courage it took to stand up to her family and their traditions. I don't think her battle is over yet, but she may have won some allies to her side of the field by the end.
I have totally fallen in love with Teeny Weeny Tahini. The little faerie has been a part of a few previous Havenwood Falls stories, and she's always been so much fun. I was really excited to see her featured more in one of the stories.
However, the book didn't grab me right away. While I loved to see Tahini flit about, it seemed like it wasn't really going anywhere. It was super light and not the usual feel I've come to expect from a Havenwood Falls book. But then....
Well, then it all got a bit dark when we start to figure out who Shayin Pisik is and what she's up to. Shayin and Matt (the owl-shifter) have clashed in the past, and it's coming back to haunt him and his family. Shayin will do anything to get who she considers the love of her life back, even the darkest of dark magic. <shiver>
I don't know that I would have recognized this as a fairy tale retelling if I hadn't been told it was. I hope we get to see more of Tahini in future books, she really steals the show!