The Invasion Of The Tearling (The Queen Of The Tearling #2)

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The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

“With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.

But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling —and that of Kelsea’s own soul—may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.”

– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22698568-the-invasion-of-the-tearling)

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Random House UK, Transworld Publishers for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2015. The Queen of the Tearling just blew my mind when I read it. I loved the world building, the characters, the political plotting… It was just amazing. Because of this, I had to get my hands on THe Invasion of th Tearling as soon as possible. You can imagine how hard it was for me not to squeal like a kid learning she is going to Disney when I logged into NetGalley and saw this on my dashboard (I was at work, which is why I had to restrain myself).

But I digress. While I tentatively classified The Queen of the Tearling, this book is, in my opinion, firmly in the sci-fi/dystopia genre. At this point, I’m not entirely sure if I’m comfortable with that, but I need another book (not so sublte hint) to come to terms with it.

The beginning was a bit confusing, as it is often the case when I go back to a world I haven’t visited in a year. Here, the plot thickens and turns dark and hopeless, as it’s often the case in middle books. I found myself trying to find a way out for Kelsea, and came to the conclusion that, if I was in her place, I’d have thrown myself off a cliff.

This was, for reasons that will become clear when you read the book, not as engaging as the first book. At first, the Lily chapters were not that enjoyable as the Tearling chapters, as there was no apparent connection. I even got to the point of thinking that somehow two books had been mixed together in my ARC. But then it all made sense.

Furthermore, this is NOT a YA book. There is plenty of gore here, as well as other adult themes. This one definitely crosses into the adult genre, in my opinion. Which is not a bad thing, but do keep it in mind when you read this.

There are several questions left unanswered. I’m not going to spoil them, but gosh, it was frustrating!! I hope we get to know for good, as some hints have been dropped here and there (unless they’re red herrings). The ending raises a lot of questions about the Red Queen, about the sapphires, about the Crossing…

And now, I wait for the next book…

City Of Stairs

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City of Stairs

A densely atmospheric and intrigue-filled fantasy novel of living spies, dead gods, buried histories, and a mysterious, ever-changing city-from one of America’s most acclaimed young SF writers.

Years ago, the city of Bulikov wielded the powers of the Gods to conquer the world. But after its divine protectors were mysteriously killed, the conqueror has become the conquered; the city’s proud history has been erased and censored, progress has left it behind, and it is just another colonial outpost of the world’s new geopolitical power. Into this musty, backward city steps Shara Divani. Officially, the quiet mousy woman is just another lowly diplomat sent by Bulikov’s oppressors. Unofficially, Shara is one of her country’s most accomplished spymasters-dispatched to investigate the brutal murder of a seemingly harmless historian. As Shara pursues the mystery through the ever-shifting physical and political geography of the city, she begins to suspect that the beings who once protected Bulikov may not be as dead as they seem-and that her own abilities might be touched by the divine as well.”

-Taken from Goodreads

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Quercus Books for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

This is a dense book, not to be read in one sitting. It’s a fascinating read, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not cute and cuddly. Nope, it’s a gritty fantasy, with a really well thought world building and political schemes galore. Furthermore, the characters are also really interesting and multi-faceted, full of secrets.

As for the plot, it is a complex one, as what begins as a murder investigation turns into a religious affair. For me, an atheist, reading a book that involves Divinities was an amazing experience. Especially when towards the end of the book it plunges deeper and deeper into theological discussions. They are not boring, but they are dense. And it was mainly because of them that I couldn’t finish them in one sitting. Furthermore, as someone graduated in International Relations, some quotes really spoke to me. One example: ‘Nations have no morals. Only interests.’ And another one: ‘States are not, in my opinion, composed of structures supporting privilege. Rather, they are composed of structures denying it – in other words, deciding who is not invited to the table.’ (NOTE: those were taken from the ARC). After reading those quotes, I’d venture a guess that the author has read Hobbes’ works, but I digress.

Why not give it five stars then? Well, it might just have been my sleep deprivation, but I was a little confused at points about the divide between Saypur and the Continent. They have a long and bitter history between them, and sometimes I lost tracks of who hated who and why.

Down London Road (On Dublin Street #2)

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Down London Road (On Dublin Street, #2)

Johanna Walker is used to taking charge. But she’s about to meet someone who will make her lose control…

It has always been up to Johanna to care for her family, particularly her younger brother, Cole. With an absent father and a useless mother, she’s been making decisions based on what’s best for Cole for as long as she can remember. She even determines what men to date by how much they can provide for her brother and her, not on whatever sparks may—or may not—fly.

But with Cameron MacCabe, the attraction is undeniable. The sexy new bartender at work gives her butterflies every time she looks at him. And for once, Jo is tempted to put her needs first. Cam is just as obsessed with getting to know Jo, but her walls are too solid to let him get close enough to even try.

Then Cam moves into the flat below Jo’s, and their blistering connection becomes impossible to ignore. Especially since Cam is determined to uncover all of Jo’s secrets… even if it means taking apart her defenses piece by piece.”

-Taken from Goodreads

This had a strong heroine, as Jo sacrifices so much to take care of her younger brother and raise him properly. It was actually a nice change to have a main couple that is not filthy rich and actually goes through some financial duress.

What did bother me was that Jo was still attracted to a guy that treated her like dirt when they first met. I wouldn’t forgive so easily, though I am known to hold grudges for years. Still, I felt like I could be friends with Jo, as she felt real in her fears and her struggles. I also loved how she was too proud to take her friends’ help.

Cameron was a nice character, but he had to work for me to like him. The way he treated Jo at the beginning was totally uncalled for, though he did redeem himself later on. What bothered me was the, as it’s usually the case, he was drop dead gorgeous, without a single blemish. I do wish someone would write a main couple that is not magazine cover-worthy. A beer belly and a broken nose would suffice (okay, whom am I kidding here)?

The Kingdom (Graveyard Queen #2)

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The Kingdom (Graveyard Queen, #2)

Deep in the shadowy foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies a dying town;

My name is Amelia Gray. They call me The Graveyard Queen. I’ve been commissioned to restore an old cemetery in Asher Falls, South Carolina, but I’m coming to think I have another purpose here.

Why is there a cemetery at the bottom of Bell Lake? Why am I drawn time and again to a hidden grave I’ve discovered in the woods? Something is eating away at the soul of this town, this withering kingdom, and it will only be restored if I can uncover the truth.”

– Taken from Goodreads

This book was most definitely not what I was expecting. In this case, in a bad way.

The first book had only a nice touch of the supernatural, with the main character, Amelia, being able to see ghosts. Here, the whole thing became supernatural. There were witches, demons, and, of course, ghosts. It felt like there were too many supernatural elements in a plot that didn’t really have any space for them. The end result was quite confusing, for me.

I also had a hard time keeping track of all the characters. Maybe it was because I just wanted to finish this book. The one character that stuck with me was, unsurprisingly, the dog, Angus. He was the one character I kept wanting to see. Furthermore, I felt that the graveyard restoration aspect, which was so fascinating in the first book, was left aside so that all the witches and demons could make an appearance.

After this one, I’m not sure I’ll be reading the rest of the series.

Rating: 2 out of 5

One Foot In The Grave (Night Huntress #2)

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One Foot in the Grave (Night Huntress, #2)

You can run from the grave, but you can’t hide…

Half-vampire Cat Crawfield is now Special Agent Cat Crawfield, working for the government to rid the world of the rogue undead. She’s still using everything Bones, her sexy and dangerous ex, taught her, but when Cat is targeted for assassination, the only man who can help her is the vampire she left behind.

Being around Bones awakens all her emotions, from the adrenaline rush of slaying vamps side by side to the reckless passion that consumed them. But a price on her head—wanted: dead or half-alive—means her survival depends on teaming up with Bones. And no matter how hard Cat tries to keep things professional between them, she’ll find that desire lasts forever…and Bones won’t let her get away again. Original.”

– Taken from Goodreads

This was, most definitely, a fast-paced book. There is plenty of action, as well as many twists that I didn’t see coming. What I was hoping for, however, did happen, although I wanted it to have happened sooner.

Cat’s mother deserves to be mentioned. She is still her old, abusive self, and it shocks me to see Cat accepting that, and how all that abuse shaped her, for good and for bad. Whenever her mother, Justina, appeared, I got mad, as I knew she was going to spout some nasty stuff. Seriously, that is one character that needs to be taken care of.

I was confused by one thing: the description of how to turn someone into a ghoul. I just couldn’t understand the process, no matter how many times I re-read the description. And the whole Dave thing felt too surreal, in my opinion. Tate was annoying as well.

I’d say that, what I really like here is that the heroine is no damsel in distress, and refuses to be treated as such. The end, however, was a tiny bit heartbreaking, as Cat makes an extremely hard choice.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Stormbird (Wars Of The Roses #1)

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Stormbird (Wars of the Roses, #1)

“King Henry V – the great Lion of England – is long dead.

In 1437, after years of regency, the pious and gentle Henry VI, the Lamb, comes of age and accedes to the English throne. His poor health and frailty of mind render him a weakling king -Henry depends on his closest men, Spymaster Derry Brewer and William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, to run his kingdom.

Yet there are those, such as the Plantagenet Richard, Duke of York, who believe England must be led by a strong king if she is to survive. With England’s territories in France under threat, and rumours of revolt at home, fears grow that Henry and his advisers will see the country slide into ruin. With a secret deal struck for Henry to marry a young French noblewoman, Margaret of Anjou, those fears become all too real.

As storm clouds gather over England, King Henry and his supporters find themselves besieged abroad and at home. Who, or what can save the kingdom before it is too late?”

-Taken from Goodreads

No matter how long or how far I stray into other genres, I always go back to historical fiction at some point. This time, I chose the Wars of the Roses, an event that interests me quite a bit, as I lived in York for a while.

I do not claim to be an expert in British history, so I can’t say anything about the accuracy of this book. What I can say is that this book is not a portrayal of the Wars of the Roses, but it does set the stage for what is to come.

There were some subplots that did not draw my interest that much. Jack Cade’s ill-fated revolution (so far) was one of them. On the other hand, I loved it whenever Margaret of Anjou or Derry Brewer made an appearance.

As I’m not that familiar with British history and its characters, I missed a list of characters, with a brief who’s who.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Deer In Headlights (Good Gods #1)

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Deer in Headlights (Good Gods, #1)

“**18+**

Aphrodite never loses, not when it comes to love.

Immortality has its perks and its downsides. Boredom, for one, is unavoidable, but instead of playing Backgammon, the Greek gods devised a game using humans as pawns. Remember Shakespeare? That was Apollo. Bonnie and Clyde? Aphrodite versus Ares.

Aphrodite is on deck, and she’ll defend her domain of love by using her magic to get the two human players together. Time is not on her side, and she’ll have her work cut out for her as her opponent does everything in his power to keep the players apart.

Game one is against Apollo, who chooses the loner Dean, a rock star who takes dark and brooding to the next level. His band has finally gotten a break, and he can’t screw it up, not for another one night stand, and especially not with his new drummer’s girlfriend. He swore to the band that he’d keep it together, but from the minute he first sees Lex, it takes every bit of willpower he has to stay away. But Dean’s will is nothing for the Goddess of Love, who’s certain she has a fighting chance to win with Lex as her player. The artist and poet is perfect for Dean, if only she can open her heart and find a way to love for the first time.

There’s always more at stake than winning the game when you’ve lived for thousands of years. The Olympians are the original dysfunctional family, surviving eons of love and lust, betrayal and lies, as friends and enemies, through feuds and wars. From the douchebag Ares, who’s forever trying get Aphrodite into bed, to her best friend Persephone, who she can always count on for a hearty helping of bacon on a bad day, the gods will take you on a lighthearted trip as they toy with humans, laugh and fight, lose love and gain power.”

-Taken from Goodreads

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Indie Inked for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

This was, overall, and okay read. The best aspect of it was not the developing relationship that is portrayed, but the dynamics between the gods. While they still play with humans, they also play one against the other. And it was interesting how the author chose the myths of Daphne and Adonis to make it clear.

As far as characters go, Adonis was the most annoying of this book. His story is tragic, but there is nothing to be done about it. Except, of course, to hold a grudge, which is exactly what he does for I don’t know how many centuries.

The human world plot was quite predictable, and I could have seen the end coming for miles. The gods’ plot was far more interesting, thanks to the twists worked into it.

Rating: 3 out of 5