Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

An untested young princess must claim her throne, learn to become a queen, and combat a malevolent sorceress in an epic battle between light and darkness in this spectacular debut—the first novel in a trilogy.

Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom's haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.

Long ago, Kelsea's forefathers sailed away from a decaying world to establish a new land free of modern technology. Three hundred years later, this feudal society has divided into three fearful nations who pay duties to a fourth: the powerful Mortmesne, ruled by the cunning Red Queen. Now, on Kelsea's nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of the Queen's Guard—loyal soldiers who protect the throne—have appeared to escort the princess on a perilous journey to the capital to ascend to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling.

Though born of royal blood and in possession of the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic, Kelsea has never felt more uncertain of her ability to rule. But the shocking evil she discovers in the heart of her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the entire kingdom into turmoil—and unleashing the Red Queen's vengeance. A cabal of enemies with an array of deadly weapons, from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic, plots to destroy her. But Kelsea is growing in strength and stealth, her steely resolve earning her loyal allies, including the Queen's Guard, led by the enigmatic Lazarus, and the intriguing outlaw known simply as "the Fetch."

Kelsea's quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun. Riddled with mysteries, betrayals, and treacherous battles, Kelsea's journey is a trial by fire that will either forge a legend . . . or destroy her.
4.5/5 Stars
There are some books that just capture you from page one and pull you deep within the pages. This one did just that. I was consumed by the regal world and caught up in the intense storyline.
It's about a new Queen that walks into a true mess. She learns that a treaty was made that honors a lottery where her people are sold and auctioned off for labor, sex, and more... Kelsea is destined to stop this process and in doing so she gains many enemies, but also earns the trust and loyalty of her people. It's a dangerous journey, but an honorable one at that. The suspense is edgy and the subtle romance will have you swooning. I was desperate for more of the Fetch and I hope in book 2 we get just that!
The overall concept was great and the writing was top of the line. I usually crave a more prominent romance, but with this book, less is more... rang true. I really enjoyed the characters and their connection to the throne. It was an intricate tale that was weaved with raw emotion, dark secrets, and passion. I loved it and definitely recommend it to all readers over 16. It didn't have too many graphic scenes, but there were some curse words and hints at non-consensual sex.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir Review

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
5/5 Stars
"Her eyes are a dark jolt. I should look away. I should leave. She'll figure out who I am if she stares long enough. But I can't bring myself to move. For a heavy, heated moment, we are immobile, content to watch each other. Skies, she's beautiful. I smile at her, and the blush that rises on her face makes me feel oddly triumphant."
I think every book I've rated 5 stars has been able to pull deep emotion from my soul... This one did just that. I felt hopeless and at the mercy of the words. One page my heart was filled with heartwarming joy and others it was wracked with deep rooted sorrow. The character's stories were able to touch my heart like no other. As I fell deeper into the magical, dark world, I became more detached from reality.
An Ember in the Ashes was similar to other books, but in a league of it's own. It brought fantasy, magic, and romance. There was suspense that kept me on the edge of my seat and twists that I never saw coming. The vividness of each word captured my attention and made me more invested in the outcome of the trials. Speaking of which... If you think the Hunger Games was brutal, you have seen nothing yet. These trials were gut wrenching and quite difficult to read. The little cliffhangers at the end of each chapter were genius. They kept the story fresh in my mind and had me begging for more.
Elias is a mask... He should be thrilled with his status, but instead is tormented by his past and his present. Laia is a slave, but she was just a scholar that escaped a raid that captured her loved ones. She sets her sights on rescuing her brother and ends up in the pits of her own hell. She is beat by the Commander and gets caught up in a web of secrets. Elias and her have things in common and hesitantly become fond of one another. They are the reason for each other's undoing and in the end, the reason for each other's new beginning.
Overall, I couldn't be more impressed by this read. It was able to pull raw emotion from me and for that I am thankful. I can't wait to get my hands on the next book...