Author Archives: Kat Mandu

The Broken Ones by Danielle L Jensen

Marc and Penelope get their own story – but their doomed fate spells disaster for them and everyone around them.

Title: The Broken Ones
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Malediction Trilogy
Genre: YA High Fantasy 
Publisher’s Description:
Prequel to the USA Today bestselling and Goodreads Choice finalist Stolen Songbird.

Below Forsaken Mountain, a plot is being hatched to overthrow the tyrant king of Trollus, and Marc is the right-hand man of its leader.  His involvement is information more than one troll would kill to possess, which is why he must keep it a secret from everyone, even the girl he loves.

After accidentally ruining her sister’s chance to become queen, Pénélope is given one last opportunity by her father, the Duke d’Angoulême, to make herself useful: she must find proof that the boy she’s in love with is conspiring against the crown. If she fails, her life will be forfeit. Now Marc and Pénélope must navigate the complex politics of Trollus, where powers on all sides are intent on using them as pawns, forcing them to risk everything for a chance at a life together.

Except being together may turn out to be the greatest risk of all.


Kat Mandu says…

The Broken Ones is a prequel to the Malediction trilogy, a series that features a hidden and cursed city called Troullus, which is full of trolls and ancient magic. Marc, who is the best friend to the lead character in the trilogy, is one of the narrators in this book. Penelope, who is mentioned in the trilogy but never really plays a big role for obvious reasons, also lends her voice to the story.

It’s exciting in the way that you get to hear more about the backstory of Marc and Penelope, but if you’ve read the whole trilogy like I have, you already know what’s going to happen. Their history has a lot of impact on Marc’s character in the trilogy, especially when it comes to romance. He’s always the one trying to spur Tristan into loving with all his heart and going for it. It’s very fun when you hear them bicker because the boys are like an old married couple.

Penelope is new, so I’m going to talk about how much I enjoyed that her character was so different than everyone else in Trollus. With her affliction, she wasn’t as strong or intimidating as all the other trolls, especially like those in her family or Tristan’s. She doesn’t come close to having a lot of power, so it’s up to her to use other skills that can get her what she needs. She’s sneaky and strategic, even if her father is always one step ahead. Plus, she genuinely loves Marc, even though she knows it’ll end badly for her. And what can I say, I love dedicated characters. I don’t know what it would be like to grow up in her position, pitied and expendable to those she feels should love her.

The one downside for this book for me was that I already knew what was going to happen. There were no surprises, no suspense, and no cliffhangers. It was almost too predictable, despite the political mind games being played and the beautiful romance. Regardless, this world is still wonderfully built and the magical system is always intriguing. The author always delivers a very vivid tale of power, politics, and romance. It’s a sad ending – but leads into a new beginning.  

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

I’d recommend authors like Holly Black, Sherry Thomas, and Morgan Rhodes.

 

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If Souls Can Sleep by David Michael Williams

If Souls Can Sleep introduces readers to a world of dreams, nightmares, and plenty of things in between. In David Michael William’s new fantasy series, lucid dreaming entangles with the real world as two rival factions bring their war into his life and change it forever.

Title: If Souls Can Sleep
Author: David Michael Williams
Series: TBA But I Know There’s A Sequel 😉 

Summary: 

First he lost his daughter. His mind may be next.

After years of being haunted by the day his little girl drowned, Vincent faces a new nightmare — one that reaches into the real world and beyond the grave.

If Souls Can Sleep introduces a hidden world where gifted individuals possess the power to invade the dreams of others. Two rival factions have transformed the dreamscape into a war zone where all reality is relative and even the dead can t rest in peace.


Kat Mandu says….

In this fantasy novel, we meet Vincent, a man who’s trying to forget his past. His past, however, has different plans for him. As he’s trying to move on with his life, he finds himself ravaged by dreams and nightmares that suck him in even when he’s awake. In his dreams, he’s “Valenthor” and a chosen one to fulfill an ancient prophecy to save a foreign and fantastical land.

The author’s characters are always so filled with life and personality that readers like me can’t help but feel for them in every way. Vincent’s past life is filled with tragedy and heartbreak. His family is also interesting (for most of the story, his mother and him are practically estranged and his half-brother Danny is in a coma. Plus there’s Leah and Jerry, friends of his that play pretty big roles in his life, especially when he begins lucid dreaming and searching for answers.

The plot is great, not giving too many things away. It blends contemporary genres with fantasy elements (like Elven rebels and magic), plus there’s always touches of romance, action, and mystery. It jumps around a lot, varying from narrator to narrator, though Vincent is the main character it follows. I wasn’t quite sure what the first chapter/prologue had to do with anything at first, but the more I read, the more I understood. I should add that it jumps frequently from real world to dream world and it took a bit for me to accept that mentally.

Also, excellent writing and editing. It has a pleasant and ongoing theme related to how one overcomes grief. In which case Vincent lost his daughter, Clementine, in the real world. It goes to show that everyone grieves differently and some can’t completely get over such a loss without some help. So friendship and family, complicated as they are, are common themes in this as well.

Very intriguing, so I’m looking forward to the next installment. This gets a four from me!

I received an ARC from the author. This does not affect my opinion, as they are my own. 

 

If you like stories involving lucid dreams, you’d also love…

Arkwell Academy – Mindee Arnett
Lucid Dreaming – Cassandra Page

Contest For Mindee Arnett’s Onyx & Ivory

Hi Friends! Kat Mandu here, ready to introduce you to a new series I’m completely stoked about. And that’s a new YA Fantasy book coming out in May called Onyx & Ivory. Check it out below!

They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king years ago. Now Kate lives as an outcast, clinging to the fringes of society as a member of the Relay, the imperial courier service. Only those most skilled in riding and bow hunting ride for the Relay; and only the fastest survive, for when dark falls, the nightdrakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: she is a wilder, born with magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals. But it’s this magic that she needs to keep hidden, as being a wilder is forbidden, punishable by death or exile. And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan massacred by nightdrakes in broad daylight—the only survivor her childhood friend, her first love, the boy she swore to forget, the boy who broke her heart.

The high king’s second son, Corwin Tormane, never asked to lead. Even as he waits for the uror—the once-in-a-generation ritual to decide which of the king’s children will succeed him—he knows it’s always been his brother who will assume the throne. And that’s fine by him. He’d rather spend his days away from the palace, away from the sight of his father, broken with sickness from the attempt on his life. But the peacekeeping tour Corwin is on has given him too much time to reflect upon the night he saved his father’s life—the night he condemned the would-be killer to death and lost the girl he loved. Which is why he takes it on himself to investigate rumors of unrest in one of the remote city-states, only for his caravan to be attacked—and for him to be saved by Kate.

With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin have to put the past behind them. The threat of drakes who attack in the daylight is only the beginning of a darker menace stirring in the kingdom—one whose origins have dire implications for Kate’s father’s attack upon the king and will thrust them into the middle of a brewing civil war in the kingdom of Rime.

I can’t tell you how eager I am to get my hands on this one, guys. Mindee Arnett is such a wonderful author, and I’m so excited to be a part of her street team, The Relay Riders, to help spread the word about this epic new book.

I snagged this from her site so that readers like you can try your hand at winning this contest and get it for yourselves!  Follow the links to enter:

Blogger and Reviewer Appreciation Giveaway

From Mindee: This week I’m celebrating all the book bloggers and reviewers out there, and if you’re reading this, I’m betting that you’re one of them! Did you know that according to Forbes, an estimated 600 thousand to a million new books are published each year? That’s like between 1,604 to 2,740 a day. I don’t know about you, but my yearly reading goals never come close to that.

With so many books vying for readers’ attention, the importance of book bloggers and reviewers is immeasurable for helping get the word out to readers about which books to spend their time on and which to pass over. And most of these people do this purely out of the sheer joy and love of books. How great is that? How are great are they? I mean you!

That’s why I’ve decided to give my very last advanced copy of Onyx & Ivory to a book reviewer or blogger. But first, I want to take a moment to say thank you to two specific bloggers, Pila @ inlovewithhandmade.blogspot.com and Erin @ booklovingnut.com. Both of these lovely women were willing to read an early copy of Onyx & Ivory and to give me lovely blurbs for it. And when I say, early, what I mean is an unedited, no-cover, no-makeup, bed-head version of the book. As a matter of fact, it didn’t even have a title yet. To have their approval, even so early, meant the world to me. Here’s what they had to say:

Aren’t they lovely? Be sure to thank them for me if you see them online. And if you see them in person, they deserve a hug or a fist bump.

The contest to win a signed arc of Onyx & Ivory is open until midnight EST on Thursday, March 29. It’s open Internationally. Any person who regularly reviews books is permitted to enter. Good luck!

Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer will dig this sassy, smart heroine who faces all the creatures that go bump in the night.

Title: Strange Angels
Author: Lili St. Crow
Series: Strange Angels, Book 01
Publish Date: May 14, 2009 by Razorbill
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionDad? Zombie.
Mom? Long gone.
Me? Well, that’s the scary part.

The Real World is a frightening place. Just ask sixteen-year-old orphan Dru Anderson, a tough girl who has taken down her fair share of bad guys. She’s armed, dangerous, and ready to kill first and ask questions later. So it’s gonna take her a while to figure out who she can trust . . .

Dru Anderson has been ‘strange’ for as long as she can remember, traveling from town to town with her father to hunt the things that go bump in the night. It’s a weird life, but a good one – until it all explodes in an icy, broken-down Dakota town when a hungry zombie busts through her kitchen door. Alone, terrified, and trapped, Dru’s going to need every inch of her wit and training to stay alive. The monsters have decided to hunt back – and this time, Dru’s on their menu. Chances of survival? Slim to none.

If she can’t last until sunup, it’s game over . . .

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat Mandu says…

Dru and her creature-hunting dad are staying in a small town, trying to live a somewhat normal life despite their knowledge of the Real World. When her dad goes to investigate a lead and returns a zombie, Dru is left with no choice but to defend herself as her world flips upside down.

Now, she’s being hunted by some supernatural baddies, and her only allies are the enigmatic Christophe and the chatty, awkward Graves, who’s recently been turned into a half-werewolf. If she can escape the city before an old enemy gets to her, she’ll have to find out who’s really targeting her and if she can survive the encounter.

I really enjoy the characters in this one. Dru is tough and very reminiscent of Buffy Summers for me. She’s very protective, sarcastic, and not afraid to stand up for herself. Sometimes she does things that scare her and poor Graves, her new best friend, who gets bitten by a wulfen. The story mostly focuses on the two of them and their situation, and it’s a nice setup for a best-friend-forever or possibly more.

I only rated this a four because there were certain scenes I struggled with, mostly action scenes that threw me off. I didn’t really get the water fountain scene in the mall or how Dru managed to kill off the hellhound. And the chase scene in the van also confused me with its sporadic, unclear details. Besides those two parts, everything else was kosher.

It’s filled with sincere, tender moments that clash wonderfully with the intense action and supernatural tension.I really enjoyed it and I imagine many others would too.

Other recommendations…

Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead; Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine; Madison Avery trilogy by Kim Harrison.

Almost Invincible by Kristen Brand

When the theme-park ride based on the legendary, super-strong hero, White Knight, is reopened to the public, Dave, aka White Knight, gives his teenage daughter, Elisa, his complimentary tickets. Only one of his old enemies decides to take the theme park hostage…

Title: Almost Invincible
Author: Kristen Brand
Series: The White Knight & Black Valentine, Book 03
Publish Date: September 30, 2017
Genre: Superhero
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: A theme park turns into a death-trap of sadistic supervillains…

White Knight is the most popular superhero in the country—which is bad news for David Del Toro, formerly White Knight, who retired from heroics years ago and just wants some peace and quiet. When the White Knight ride at a superhero-inspired theme park has a grand reopening, Dave is more than happy to give his complimentary tickets to his daughter and her friends and spend the day at home. But then the park gets taken hostage by supervillains.

The man known as Bloodbath spent the last decade in a maximum-security prison and blames White Knight for putting him there. He’s given an ultimatum: the hero comes to face him, or he’ll kill every tourist in the park. Dave barely managed to beat Bloodbath while in his prime and doesn’t like his chances now that he’s old and busted. But unless he does something, every innocent person in the park is going to die…including his daughter.

Almost Invincible is the third book of The White Knight & Black Valentine Series but can be read as a standalone. If you like tense thrillers with big, superpowered action, don’t wait—download Almost Invincible now!

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat Mandu says…

Retired superhero White Knight has found some peaceful time to spend at home with his former supervillain wife, Valentina, and his daughter, Elisa. So when Elisa and her friends decide to hit up the local theme park to see the new ride based on her father’s old alter ego, Dave sends her on her way without too much worry.

Except later that day, there’s a prison breakout – and Bloodbath, Mother Earth, Doctor Sweet, and several other notoriously bad villains have escaped. Now several are working together to exact sweet revenge on White Knight and his sidekick, Freezefire, by calling them out on live TV and promising deadly payback.

Together, Dave and Julio face off against Bloodbath in hopes of saving hostages and others trapped in the park, finding Elisa and her friends, and putting Bloodbath down once and for all.

Many of you know that I’m a huge fan of the White Knight and Black Valentine series. Not only is it action-packed, but it also contains older heroes with backstories I appreciate and can relate to. It’s not often that superhero movies or books feature the family life of our heroes and villains. But Dave and Valentina truly love each other and their daughter, Elisa, who they work hard to protect. Almost Invincible is not an exception and I really loved it.

There’s not a lot of humor in this one, as Bloodbath is a character you probably wouldn’t want to joke about. This book tends to be a little more violent than its previous sequels, as Dave finds himself at the mercy and pain of his old nemesis, who seems to have an invincibility of his own. However, despite all the really cool battles in this one, Dave getting his butt handed to him about eight times throughout the book became slightly repetitive for me. I was also hoping that Elisa would have more scenes where she kicked butt. However, none of this ruined the story for me. It just means that Dave’s not invincible and that he has weaknesses beyond the physical.

I really enjoyed this new installment to the series. If you’re looking for some superhero and villain fun, I’d really recommend this book!

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

The Astounding Antagonists by Rafael Chandler; Superheroes Anonymous by Lexi Dunne; Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines.

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