Review: Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep

Reviewed by Jen

Kill the Queen is the first in Jennifer Estep’s new high fantasy series Crown of Shards. It feels remarkably like this author’s Elemental Assassin series. The particulars, of course, are different. The setting in particular. However, the heroine reminds me a lot of Gin Blanco and even the feel of the magic has something in common.

Evie is part of the royal family, but just barely. She is 17th in line for the throne, and orphan who is essentially a ward of her cousin, the queen. She is at the bottom of the family food chain. She has to do the ceremonial jobs no one else wants to do: Learn other languages, cultures, dances; she even has to bake special pies. But she does what she must keep a roof over her head and to stay in her cousin’s good graces. Even forces herself to get along with the crown princess Vasilla, who has been cruel to her since childhood. [Read more…]

Review: Tower of Dawn by Sarah J Maas

Reviewed by Elise

When I heard about the release of this book, I was bitterly disappointed. What started as a novella for the author had turned into a full length novel. The release would delay the the final book in the Throne of Glass series. This is one of my favorite book series and I have enjoyed every book so far.

Tower of Dawn follows the journey of Chaol Westfall as he seeks to recover from a devastating injury sustained during the final confrontation with the King of Adarlan and collapse of the Glass Castle. In addition to healing, Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, rightful Queen of Terrasen, has given him the task of making allies with those that rule the Southern Continent.

If I am being honest, I never really liked Chaol. His choices throughout the previous books have been dubious. Ultimately, his prejudices and equivocation cost him the things he held most dear. He has tried to make amends but it just never seemed like enough. The idea of reading an ENTIRE novel based on a character I wasn’t particularly fond of did not fill me with joy. I found myself picking up the book only out of loyalty to the series I adore. I had a preconceived idea of how the story would progress and I am delighted at how completely incorrect I was. [Read more…]

Review: Prisoner of the Crown by Jeffe Kennedy

Reviewed by Jen

Let me start by saying what a huge fan I have been of the 12 Kingdoms series. When I heard the next book would feature a Dasnarian princess, I figured this was Jenna’s story and I was pretty excited. What I didn’t expect was a set-up for a trilogy on her story. (For fans of the series, remember, Jenna was the older sister who Harlan helped escape from an abusive husband. It was quite the mystery and now we are finally learning what happened.)

Here’s the thing, though. This is not a romance. This is the story of Jenna’s life leading up to the point in which her infamous escape took place. We have seen Dasnarian culture before. It is highly unfavorable to women and that is in full force here. Jenna, just like every other woman, is a commodity. She has no rights. She is not allowed any knowledge or opinions of her own. And when faced with unimaginable cruelty, there is nothing she can do but take it. [Read more…]

Review: A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

Reviewed by Debz

This novella is set after the third book in Sarah J Maas’ A Court of Throne and Roses series and if you’ve read A Court of Wings and Ruin, you can jump right in. After the final battle against Hybren his armies and the three human queens, this books begins in the aftermath with Feyre, Rhysand and the crew picking up the pieces and rebuilding.

Especially after the attack on Vellaris, Rhysand and Feyre as the High Lord and Lady of the Night Court have their hands full, helping the people rebuild and restart their lives. They also have to make treaties with the other courts; and make sure none of the other Lords encroach on the human lands. All this to do, and it is almost time for the biggest celebration in the Night Court, Winter solstice.

The book is not just told from the POV of Feyre and Rhysand; there are chapters centered around the Morrigan, Cassian, Azriel, Elain and Nesta . All the painful memories and emotions about the horrors suffered during the battle are laid bare on the pages. Most prominent amongst them is guilt; guilt for the battle in Vellaris, a city which had previously been sheltered from the outside world for so long. Guilt for the number of Illyrian men who had to die to stop Hybren and mainly guilt that the lives of most children will never be the same. [Read more…]

Review: Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope

Reviewed by Sara

A multifaceted fantasy, Song of Blood and Stone’s main character, Jasminda, is an orphaned goat farmer attempting to survive in a land where her race and magical ability mean she is a pariah. When she saves the life of soldier Jack she is thrust into an epic journey to save the nations of Lagrimari and Elsira and set right a century’s old wrong.

Jack is more than a spy or soldier, he’s the prince regent of Elsira and in the kindness and resolve of Jasminda, he’s found love, but can he and Jasminda be together when the nation, history and his own mistakes work against them?

More than once I’ve reviewed a book and complained about too much going on within the plot. While Song of Blood and Stone has a lot (A LOT!) going on, including the romance of Jack and Jasminda, Jasminda finding belonging, the story of Oola and Eero, the war with the True Father, etc, all are woven together to create what really is a complicated, but cohesive and truly epic story. I never once felt overwhelmed with the amount of plot points, but was eager to read more. [Read more…]

DNF Review: Torn by Rowenna Miller

Reviewed by Sara

Torn, the debut fantasy novel of author Rowenna Miller, tells the story of Sophie, a seamstress who has used her skills with needle and thread and her ability to imbue her creations with charms to work her way out of poverty. Her brother Kristoff, a laborer, is not so lucky and is disillusioned with the way their country’s monarchy is running things. As Sophie becomes a darling of the nobility, Kristoff becomes involved with the enigmatic professor Pryord Venko and a movement to provide more rights to the working class. Soon the movement that started out as a cry for more rights becomes a full out rebellion with goals of overthrowing of the nobility. Sophie will have to decide what side she belongs on or find herself torn between the nobles and her livelihood or her love for her brother. [Read more…]

Review: Web of Frost by Lindsay Smith

Reviewed by Ronelle

The vast and frozen empire of Russalka has been ruled for centuries by a royal family who works miracles from the saints. But neglect of the people stirs rebellion in the streets and a neighboring country is on the verge of invasion. On the eve of her beloved brother’s funeral banquet, the young princess Katza is presented as the next heir to the throne. But it is a terrifying prospect for her as, since she was a child, she’s been tormented by visions of her bloodied hands destroying Russalka—a clear message from the saints that she must never rule.

Then she meets Ravin, a mysterious prophet with visions of his own: visions of Katza as a regal empress with unimaginable power. All she has to do is seize upon the holy magic of her bloodline. But the more Ravin whispers in her ear, the more Katza begins to wonder whether he has her best interests at heart. With revolution boiling over and war looming at the border, the greatest threat to Russalka may be Katza herself. [Read more…]

Review: For Crown and Kingdom by Grace Draven and Jeffe Kennedy

Reviewed by Jen

I’ve really enjoyed Jeffe Kennedy’s Twelve Kingdom books, and it was an anthology that led me to it. Imagine how excited I was to see this story nestled in another anthology with one of the same authors who took part in Amid the Winter Snow! I was already a Grace Draven fan, thanks to Wraith King series, so I’m always down to read something else from her.

Let’s start with the Kennedy short. The Crown of the Queen is a novella told from Dafne’s point of view, but be forewarned, this is not a romance. (I think that comes in the next book.) Instead, this is like an extended epilogue to The Talon of the Hawk. It takes place immediately after Ursula took the life of her father, the king. Dafne has been hanging out in Annfwn for the past few weeks, but when she gets to Ordnung, Ursula still has not been crowned High Queen. The entire story follows Dafne’s efforts to guide Ursula through the process of taking the throne. [Read more…]

Review: Immortal Fire by Annette Marie

Reviewed by Ronelle

Once upon a time, Emi’s world was simple. Gods were righteous and wise, yokai were bloodthirsty and evil, and her duty as the kamigakari was straightforward. But when one of the kami sets out to destroy the mortal world as it’s known and the yokai are the only ones standing in her way, she’s faced with a far more terrifying reality.

Looming threat or no, Emi can’t escape her greatest distraction: Shiro, the fox yokai who has so deftly claimed her heart for his own. She’s promised to break the curse that binds his magic and memories, and once his true self awakens, she’s afraid she’ll lose him forever. But his power and knowledge are needed for the impending war, and so they’ll gamble everything to turn the tide against their immortal, all-powerful foes.

Together, they will find a way to save her world—but can they save each other? [Read more…]

Review: Dark Tempest by Annette Marie

Reviewed by Ronelle

Emi has dedicated her life to becoming the perfect vessel for the goddess Amaterasu, but the betrayal of another deity has changed everything. Now Amaterasu has charged her with finding and freeing the earthly gods before mankind is brought to its knees beneath divine tyranny.

Shiro, mysterious as ever, is at her side and he is still lost, his power bound by a devastating curse and his memories obscured. His shadowed history is somehow tied to the missing gods, but he can’t remember how or why. But as their search leads them into the deepest reaches of the spirit realm, Shiro’s past begins to emerge and with each brief awakening of his true self, Emi loses a little more of him.

The fate of gods, humans, and even Shiro himself now rest in Emi’s hands. Does she have enough time to save them all? [Read more…]