Author Archives: Kat Mandu

Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes

Limeros is victorious – but Auranos and Paelsia now have to deal with the consequences of their actions in book one. Now Jonas and Cleo must take a stand against some very powerful enemies. And Magnus will have to decide what is more important to him – love or duty – as he’s forced to marry a woman whose life he destroyed.

Title: Rebel Spring
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Series: Falling Kingdoms, Book 2
Publish Date: November 27th, 2013 by Razorbill
Genre: YA High Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: After a bloody siege, Auranos has been defeated, its young queen orphaned and dethroned. The three kingdoms—Auranos, Limeros, and Paelsia—are now unwillingly united as one country called Mytica. But the allure of ancient, dangerous magic beckons still, and with it the chance to rule not just Mytica, but the whole world over…

At the heart of the fray are four brave young people grappling for that magic and the power it promises. For Cleo, the magic would enable her to reclaim her royal seat. In Jonas’s hands, it frees his nation, and in Lucia’s, it fulfills the ancient prophecy of her destiny. And if the magic were Magnus’s, he would finally prove his worth in the eyes of his cruel and scheming father, King Gaius, who rules Mytica with a punishing hand.

When Gaius begins to build a road into the Forbidden Mountains to physically link all of Mytica, he sparks a long-smoking fire in the hearts of the people that will forever change the face of this land. For Gaius’s road is paved with blood, and its construction will have cosmic consequences.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat Mandu says…

Jonas becomes the leader of the rebels and a very, very wanted man. Cleo has just lost her family and throne and is now a prisoner in her own home, forced to marry Magnus. Lucia slumbers deeply for mysterious reasons. And Magnus is trying to figure out where his loyalties really lie.

The plot is still thickening in this one as people really start to see new sides to new characters. Lo and behold, the Limerian king actually had a magical guide, telling him to slaughter everyone that stood in his way, a guide that has ties to Alexius, who visits Lucia in her dreams, and Lucia has the ability to do practically anything with her powers. Hmm… the mysteries surrounding this one deepen.

Plus, here’s a kicker. Jonas and Cleo are trying to set aside their differences (Jonas kidnapped Cleo in the first one and he does it again in this one) and team up. But of course, things don’t always go according to plan. Jonas isn’t the best strategist, and so he often leads his comrades into very dangerous, unlucky situations. Cleo may be getting better at lying and faking her way through most of the things she’s facing, but even she can’t silver-tongue the King of Blood.

And there’s a lot of blood. That’s for sure. Lots of action in this, plus I’m finally starting to lean towards certain characters more, which is what the author was probably trying to do. Get readers to root for certain characters, root for a certain side. I find that I’m actually the least fond of Lucia. Because she hasn’t witnessed a lot of hard times in her life (she was the favored child, spoiled by her father but hated by her mother), she seems like a naive brat who throws tantrums whenever she doesn’t get her way. And now she’s giving whatever darkness she has within her time to play.

Four stars for this one – I’m really starting to get hooked at this point.

Series list and reviews…

Some links will become active as future reviews are published.

Other recommendations…

The Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard; Snow Like Ashes series by Sara Raasch; and Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas.

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Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

When a young man is murdered in Paelsia by an Auranian rich boy, revenge becomes the name of the name and ignites a war that’s been a long time coming. Three kingdoms battle it out for ultimate power over the land in this high-stakes fantasy book.

Title: Falling Kingdoms
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Series: Falling Kingdoms Book 1
Publish Date: December 11th 2012 by Razorbill
Genre: YA High Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed… and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

It’s the eve of war… Choose your side.

Princess: Raised in pampered luxury, Cleo must now embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of magic long thought extinct.

Rebel: Jonas, enraged at injustice, lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished. To his shock, he finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Sorceress: Lucia, adopted at birth into the royal family, discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Heir: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, firstborn son Magnus begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword…

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat Mandu says…

Now that I’ve read the first three books in the series, I can appreciate more how much all of the characters have grown. Mostly, I’m glad that Cleo has gotten over herself because I basically can’t stand her in this one. She’s petty and kind of dumb, plus she has the tendency to put herself in a lot of positions where she’s vulnerable enough to do something bad or have something bad done to her.

Magnus and Jonas also seem young in their desires. Magnus is constantly trying to please anyone in his life, including his sister, whom he’s in love with, and Jonas is emotional over his brother’s death and therefore willing to stab anyone or anything that gets in his way, so he goes to war for the sake of revenge and glory and ends up seeing the worst of what he’ll have to face.

A lot of people say this series is a young adult version of Game of Thrones. I haven’t actually read the books or watched the television adaptation; however, I know that it bounces around between character perspectives, which enables readers/viewers to gain glimpses of different sides of the story. Falling Kingdoms does the same thing – mostly following Magnus/Lucia (who represent Limeros), Cleo (Auranos), and Jonas (Paelsia) as they eventually collide with each other in fierce and sometimes devastating ways. I really love this type of writing because I like to keep up with all the sides of the story, not just one.

That being said, this wasn’t a book that really held my attention just yet. Looking back now, I can definitely see it was targeted to be the real deal introduction to everyone and the plot and that we get the juicier details and bigger plot twists as the story progresses. So sometimes it wasn’t enough to make me want to keep reading through the night. Regardless, I rated it a four, so it was great enough for that!

Series list and reviews…

Some links will become active as future reviews are published.

Other recommendations…

Danielle Jensen’s Malediction trilogy, Sherry Thomas’s Elemental trilogy, and Death Sworn duology by Leah Cypress.

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!

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