Genre: Epic

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Kill the Queen, Jennifer Estep 5 stars

October 2, 2018 Boookluvr Reads, Edelweiss 0

Kill the Queen, Jennifer Estep 5 starsKill the Queen by Jennifer Estep
Published by HarperCollins on October 2, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Epic, Romantic, Action & Adventure
Pages: 480
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads
five-stars

Gladiator meets Game of Thrones: a royal woman becomes a skilled warrior to destroy her murderous cousin, avenge her family, and save her kingdom in this first entry in a dazzling fantasy epic from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Elemental Assassin series—an enthralling tale that combines magic, murder, intrigue, adventure, and a hint of romance.

In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten.

But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre.

Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of war, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move.

But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.

I’ve been a fan of Estep’s Elemental Assassin series for years, so when I saw that she had a new fantasy series coming out, I was intrigued.   While I read a lot of PNR/UF series, I hadn’t read much in the Fantasy genre so I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting into with the Crown of Shards series but I am happy to report that I was very pleasantly surprised.

Crown of Shards envelops the reader into a vivid world where politics and power are center stage.  Being a member of a royal family isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be for Everleigh Blair.  Her parents were assassinated, and after being shuffled in and out of various family member’s homes, she has found herself living at court where she’s discovered that anything and everything will be used against her.  As a result she’s hidden not only her emotions but also her true powers from everyone.

I tremendously enjoyed watching Evie discover her own potential after so many years spent living in a shadow.  It was easy to empathize with her desire to maintain the life she had built for herself when events around her were pushing her back into the world she desperately wanted out of.  I will say that Evie came across as more of a teenager vs an adult well into their 20s.  I’m not sure whether that was intentional and a way to reflect the impact of the life that she had lived or whether that was just my interpretation but it took some mental gymnastics for me to reset.  As a romance reader, I would have loved to have loved it if there would have been more romance in this book.  At one point I thought the relationship with Sullivan and Evie was finally going to turn the corner and give me something to swoon over, but alas I have to wait with my fingers crossed for future books.

Kill the Queen is a wonderful read full of characters and powers that will leave readers counting down the days until another installment in the Crown of Shards series is available.

five-stars

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Bone Driven – Hailey Edwards 5 stars

May 31, 2018 Boookluvr Reads, Uncategorized 1

Bone Driven – Hailey Edwards 5 starsBone Driven by Hailey Edwards
Series: Foundling #2
on May 31, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Urban, Epic, Romantic, Action & Adventure
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars
two-half-flames

'Edwards creates amazing fantasy worlds that the reader becomes completely engrossed in' (Goodreads)

The bayou is burning, the battle is just beginning - and Luce Boudreau is smack in the middle of no-man's land . . .

Life as a cop in Canton Town, Mississippi, is never dull - particularly when hiding deep within you is a demon bent on the apocalypse. Luce is doing her best to pretend her two worlds aren't crashing into each other, but what should be a routine arson investigation takes a shocking turn when Luce discovers a link between the suspects and her own dark secrets. There's no turning back, even though her search for the truth threatens to burn her old life down around her.

Lines are being drawn in a war Luce barely understands, and she just might be on the wrong side of them. Now she must embrace her powerful destiny, or the ones she loves most will pay the ultimate price.

Book Two in the powerfully addictive fantasy series The Foundling, perfect for fans of Ilona Andrews, Jenn Stark and Helen Harper

What readers are saying about Hailey Edwards:

'A fantasy of a five-star read!' Amazon reviewer

'This is a well written and entertaining story, full of humour and suspense, that I found to be a terrific read.''A fast-moving journey filled with the unexpected.' (RT Book Reviews)

'Hailey Edwards has exceeded all expectations.' (Goodreads)

'Well-plotted fantasy with intriguing characters, heart-pounding action, suspenseful intrigue and subtle romance. (RT Book Reviews)

'Edwards has this way of writing that makes you feel like the narrator is talking to you and that you're old friends.' (Goodreads)

'The world building is fresh . . . The characters are well-drawn and easy to root for. And the romance really hits the spot. '(Red Hot Books)

'One of the most interesting books i have read in a long time, it starts off pretty normal but when the shocks start coming they don't stop and Luce ends up feeling from one revelation after another.' Amazon reviewer

'One aspect of her writing I enjoy is her ability to take the mundane and with a few changes, turn it into something unique and unexpected. She builds dynamic character bases, using common mythology but takes it one step further using previously unseen species or imbibing currently known species with skills and know how that offers readers something new in the paranormal world.' (Smexybooks.com)

As you can see from my rating, I absolutely loved Bone Driven.  It picks up about a week after Bayou Born and we find Luce trying to put pieces of her life back together after beating off War.   Unfortunately Luce finds it’s impossible to go back to the simple small town life she craves.  Not only is War still out there, but there are new Charun  everywhere she turned and even people she loves aren’t immune to the evil that seems intent on awakening Conquest.

My heart broke for Luce in this book.  Not only do the losses continue to pile up around her, but it also seems that everyone wants a piece of her.  While Cole, Tom, Miller and Santiago want to protect and help her, they also need certain things from her that Luce doesn’t entirely understand or isn’t ready to give them.  Wu and Kapoor are both playing a long game that we don’t yet understand but it can’t be good for her or the coterie.  Maggie still loves her but also can’t yet forgive her entirely for the choice that Luce made.  Her attempts to straddle both her existing and new worlds strains her friendship with Rixton to the breaking point and there is nothing she can say to fix it when deceiving him means keeping his family safe.

Luce’s family is targeted again in the battle to bring forth Conquest.  How much more pressure will she be able to take before the guilt and pressure push her permanently into the cold space that will bury her humanity once and for all?

While I didn’t have this issue,  a number of reviewers for Bayou Born had indicated that they struggled with the pacing.  Let me assure you, you will not have any pacing issues with Bone Driven.  The non-stop action and emotion had me glued to my kindle, I even snuck it out during a graduation ceremony.

five-stars

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Bayou Born – Hailey Edwards 4 stars

May 30, 2018 Boookluvr Reads, NetGalley, Read in 2017, Uncategorized 1

Bayou Born – Hailey Edwards 4 starsBayou Born by Hailey Edwards
Series: Foundling #1
on October 17th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Urban, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars
two-flames

"Edwards [creates] amazing fantasy worlds that the reader becomes completely engrossed in." GoodreadsHer beginning may be our end . . .

Deep in the humid Mississippi bayou, a half-wild child is dragged from the murky waters. She has no memories, no family and is covered in mysterious markings. Adopted by the policeman who rescued her, Luce Boudreau follows him onto the force, determined to prove herself in the eyes of those who are still suspicious.However, there's more of a battle ahead than Luce could possibly imagine. She may be an orphan without a past, but no one - including Luce herself - could ever be prepared for the truth of her dark, powerful destiny . .

"Well-plotted fantasy continues to engage the reader with its intriguing characters, heart-pounding action, suspenseful intrigue and subtle romance." RT Book Reviews

"The world building is fresh ... The characters are well-drawn and easy to root for. And the romance really hits the spot." Red Hot Books

I love all things PNR and UF, and I often have trouble identifying the line between the two genres when a series contains romantic elements, especially when the UF story results in a HEA.  While it’s too early in the Foundling series to know whether I will get that HEA, I’m certainly keeping my fingers crossed.

Bayou Born is an exciting new entry into the UF genre.  I haven’t been as excited about a UF series since I was first introduced to the Mercy Thompson series.  Bayou Born presents reader with a world and magical characters unlike anything else I have ever read.  There are no shifters or vampires here, not that there is anything wrong with either of those.   You would pry my shifter books out of my cold dead hands, but it was nice to read something so unique.  I won’t give any spoilers here, as the discovery of exactly what Luce and the men from White House Security are is an integral part of the story.  My only complaint is that we find out so late in book 1 that I felt like I just had a grasp on the world we were being presented with when the book ended which resulted in months of pining for book 2.

 

Stay tuned for my review of Bone Driven.

four-stars

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A Promise of Fire – Amanda Bouchet – 4.5 stars

August 1, 2016 Read in 2016, Snagged at Con, Sourcebooks 1

I received this book for free from the publisher . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A Promise of Fire – Amanda Bouchet – 4.5 starsA Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
on August 1st 2016
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Epic, Romance, Paranormal
Pages: 448
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Catalia "Cat" Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice…

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he's ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.

There is only 1 problem when you get an ARC in May for a title that doesn’t release until August…

YOU WANT THE NEXT STORY NOW NOW NOW!!!!

Many of you know that I started reading romance only a few short years ago (*cough* 5ish *cough*) but until then my reading was almost always Sci-Fi/Fantasy or mysteries….  This story made me happy because it weaves some romance in to an interesting High Fantasy world which made my internal younger self so happy.

We have a world ruled by people who wield magic except for in the forgotten kingdom that just experienced something noone thought could ever happen….  They have a warlord without magic who managed to overthrow the tyrants and put his sister in charge of the realm.  This is something that is amazing to the people but as we get in to the story we just really don’t understand how unusual this is and how much of a change this could mean for the people in this entire world.  This is a world of the Gods where dragons exist and power is corrupting.

I found the idea of someone who was more than what she appeared to be fascinating but mainly I was intrigued by trying to figure out exactly who she really is.  Cat is part of a huge puzzle that I just want to solve but enjoy finding out the bits and pieces that the author teases us with as the story unfolds.  She’s powerful, extremely sarcastic and very slow to trust people around her but the thing that drew me to her was the fact that you know she’s so severely hurt that all she really wants is to be loved, cared for and have something she never got growing up…. unconditional acceptance.  She made me laugh at times with her speak/act first then stumble as she realizes she’s not completely in her element around these people.  I also appreciated the sheer honesty (other than her feelings for Griffin) with everyone around her.

Griffin was absolutely mesmerizing to me as you could see that he wanted her from the get-go and not just for her unique power.  He’s an ass at times but as you get to know him it makes sense why he is acting that way but at the same time you want to strangle him as he tries to keep her safe by stifling her.  I enjoyed seeing him struggle with his alternating need to hurt her for her stubbornness and kiss the fight out of her because of his attraction.  He’s also hard to read in some respects as you aren’t certain if he really sees her or her power and what she can give him.  I liked that when he was wrong he admitted it but I also appreciated how he honestly was trying to do what was best.  He’s going to be fun to watch in the future stories and I cannot wait to see what happens as he finds out more about his Cat.

The other people in the story also fascinated me as well as the weaving in of the Gods such as Poseidon and Zeus but seeing things in a different way in this new world.  I enjoyed learning about the kingdoms but mainly am going to enjoy seeing how the world resets itself in this time of change.  I also look forward to seeing more of the Betas and seeing them find their partners or even just getting to know more about them and Griffin’s family.

Now…

When do I get to read book 2?????  Huh…  huh… huh…

four-half-stars

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The Talon of the Hawk – Jeffe Kennedy – 5 stars

May 4, 2015 Kensington, NetGalley, Read in 2015 1

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Talon of the Hawk – Jeffe Kennedy – 5 starsThe Twelve Kingdoms: The Talon of the Hawk by Jeffe Kennedy
Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation on 2015-05-26
Genres: Epic, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars

A HEAVY CROWN

Three daughters were born to High King Uorsin, in place of the son he wanted. The youngest, lovely and sweet. The middle, pretty and subtle, with an air of magic. And the eldest, the Heir. A girl grudgingly honed to leadership, not beauty, to bear the sword and honor of the king.

Ursula’s loyalty is as ingrained as her straight warrior’s spine. She protects the peace of the Twelve Kingdoms with sweat and blood, her sisters from threats far and near. And she protects her father to prove her worth. But she never imagined her loyalty would become an open question on palace grounds. That her father would receive her with a foreign witch at one side and a hireling captain at the other—that soldiers would look on her as a woman, not as a warrior. She also never expected to decide the destiny of her sisters, of her people, of the Twelve Kingdoms and the Thirteenth. Not with her father still on the throne and war in the air. But the choice is before her. And the Heir must lead…

Pssstttt…  go here before noon on 5/10 to try to win a paper copy of this….  now…  yeah…  you want it…

This was my favorite of the series…  I adored the hero in this and also loved seeing the full picture finally be visible.  We have a chance to see the other sisters but this is definitely a story about a woman who NEVER really got to be herself.  Watching this strong woman be broken apart and then finally allowed to come in to her own was worth every minute it took to read the book.

This story opens with Ursula finally heading back home to report to her father and the news she has isn’t going to be something he wants to hear.  What she doesn’t realize is there is more going on at home and it isn’t good.  She’s unsettled when she arrives and notes that the surrounding area is quiet plus strangers are at the gates.  She’s confronted by these soldiers and realizing they are hired mercenaries does not put her at ease.  She also sees the area bursting at the seams with a populace that seems to be not only frightened but seemingly lacking hope that anything good is coming.  She’s even more unsettled as she sees a strange man standing by her father as he gives her a very public dressing down.  The man unsettles her but she’s still hopeful there is something good still in her father even as he cavorts with a new woman.  As she starts to try to get back in her father’s good graces we get to see her struggle with his increasing madness and obvious corruption.  It takes others pushing her to run for her life to get her to open her eyes about the real peril she is in.  I enjoyed her but truly loved what she becomes as our hero pushes her to lance the deep wounds she has carried since childhood.  This poison was killing her and by finally finding someone that was there for her…  only her… she finally gets to have a partner to carry her burdens.

Harlan… *fans self* dear stubborn yet sweet Harlan….  only you could reach her even as she tried her damnedest to push you away.  I hated the final fight but knew you would stick by her side until the end unless she definitively said leave but my bet is you would still find a way to help her from afar.  I enjoyed the way you worked past her defenses while still pushing her to be all that she could be.  You don’t want her to completely change but you wanted her to finally be honest with herself and see things without being clouded by blind loyalty.  I adored your ways of showing her your strength but mainly enjoyed how you acknowledged her strength and just held her without judgement when she finally allowed you to know her worst secret.  I loved how you let her get it out and then worked hard to show her nothing of it was her fault.  You didn’t coddle her like a victim (which she was) but you made sure to clearly state who was at fault.  She is a lucky lucky woman to have your devotion.

I will be nice and warn Jeffe now….  I WILL BE GIVING YOU A BIG OLD HUG AT RT.  While I am still not a huge fan of Ami I adored Ursula and Harlan.  This was a perfect end to the tale and while I will always want more…  I am happy with the way this trilogy played out.

five-stars

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