Author Archives: Kat Mandu

Kill Them All by Kristen Brand

Valentine Belmonte is back with a die-hard vengeance when her family is attacked on their vacation, leaving her former-superhero husband, Dave, in a coma. But without the morals of the White Knight to back her, will she fall back into her old and villainous habits?

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Title: Kill Them All
Author: Kristen Brand
Series: White Knight, Black Valentine, Book 4
Publish Date: September 15th, 2018
Genre: Superheroes
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionValentina Belmonte walked away from her supervillain career years ago. Having peaked at the top of the national Most-Wanted List, she now lives a quiet life with her husband and daughter, enjoying the Florida sun. Sure, she has to curb her violent and illegal instincts to stay under the radar, but her family is worth it.

Until they’re attacked. With her husband—a retired superhero and the closest thing she has to a conscience—hospitalized and on the brink of death, she’s done playing nice. She doesn’t know who attacked them or why, but she’ll wreak bloody destruction until she finds out. Nobody does revenge like a supervillain, but as her single-minded pursuit grows more violent, it threatens the only family she has left…

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat Mandu says…

The White Knight and Black Valentine books continue to be one of my favorite superhero series. There’s action, intrigue, lots of sexy innuendos, and plenty of superpowers to play around with. And in this particular book, it’s all about Valentina, a powerful telepath from a family with a penchant for psychic abilities. She’s sassy, sneaky, and damned near unstoppable – especially if she gets her mind-controlling hooks into you.

In Kill Them All, Valentina deals with the ultimate betrayal and the “loss” (Dave’s not dead, but he’s not exactly functioning and able to help) of her husband. With danger lurking around every corner and her past coming back to haunt her, Valentina is slowly being pushed back into her old life – back to committing crimes, back to dirty deeds, and back to killing people. The whole idea is that she’s gotta figure out what lines can be crossed on the path to getting her husband back… and which ones she can never come back from.

This has a lot of intensity as Valentina is faced with multiple foes and backstabs from her so-called friends. But she’s smart and sassy and she begins to figure out the game she’s apart of….which may end up being the death of her, but I won’t spoil too much.

There are plenty of other heroes and baddies that join the fray – like Freezefire, who is Dave’s best friend and former trainee, plus a goody-two-shoes who plays an important role in reminding Valentina who she is. Lady Nightmare, Valentina’s sister who can mentally trap people in their worst nightmares. Oh, and you get to meet Ember, who is technically a bad guy with obsidian armor and some pyrotechnic skills. A few others are mentioned but don’t play as big of a role (until the end, that is, for one of them).

Overall, I really enjoyed this! Can’t wait to read the finale!

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

…you might try some other superhero favorites like Lexi Dunne’s Superheroes Anonymous, Jennifer Estep’s Bigtime series, and the Heroine Complex series by Sarah Kuhn.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

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Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes

Blood keeps spilling as the third book takes it up a notch and ushers in a whole new line of secrets, romances, and deadly twists.

Title: Gathering Darkness
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Series: Falling Darkness, Book 3
Publish Date: December 9th, 2014 by Razorbill
Genre: YA High Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionWar brought them together. Love will tear them apart.

Alliances form across Mytica and beyond as royals and rebels alike race to hunt down the Kindred—the four elemental crystals that give their owners god-like power. The stakes have never been higher for Magnus and Cleo, who are brought together by a life or death decision that will lock their fates and change the course of the kingdom forever.

THE REBELS forge ahead. Princess Cleo slays with sweetness—and a secret that might control Lucia’s magic—as she and vengeful Jonas lead the hunt for the all-powerful Kindred.

THE KRAESHIANS join the fray. Ashur and Amara, the royal siblings from the vast kingdom across the Silver Sea, prove to be just as ruthless as they are charming as they manipulate their way to victory.

THE WATCHERS follow Melenia out of the Sanctuary. They ally, in the flesh, with King Gaius, who vows to use Lucia’s powers to unveil the Kindred.

And which side will Prince Magnus choose, now that everyone he’s been betrayed by everyone he’s ever loved?

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat Mandu says…

Magnus has been betrayed by his father, who harbors secrets about his true lineage and also had his mother killed, and by his sister, who knows the truth about his feelings and now feels nothing but repulsion from him despite their old bonds.

Cleo has a goal in mind—befriend Lucia, gain power over her and her magical abilities, and win back Auranos. And for the most part, it works until Lucia discovers the truth and goes berserk.

Jonas, with Cleo’s help and a shady new friend, is trying to find the kindred before anyone else and save his friends in the meantime. But trusting the wrong people is only going to get him in big trouble.

Lucia is awake, alive, and ready to get control over her elementia. But when the boy she loves is killed by all the machinations of the people she loves, she’s ready to go dark side.

So all these characters have their own agendas right now, and it makes for a very interesting mix. This is the first book in the series that really gripped me to my core so that when I was working away from the book, I found I really wanted to get back to it, wanted to read more to find out what would happen. I almost thought it was a five-star book.

But the romance just didn’t do it for me. At this point, Magnus seems to be throwing his love around anywhere the wind blows. He still cares for Lucia, though in honesty, he’s almost over her. He decides to sleep with Amara, who turns out to be his enemy. And then at the end, he and Cleo kiss at random. Like, what the hell? Plus, Lucia gets her own romance in Alexius, sleeping with a guy she barely knows and will probably be the end of her (which he is, who could have guessed?). And Nic, who wants Cleo and Ashur? Ashur, who kisses him, confuses him, and suddenly he’s in love with him?

Man, half of it just seemed… forced or there just to be a simple plot. I know for certain that the other half of it was there for plot twists. Like Magnus sleeping with Amara. That much I knew was a mind game. But the rest? Predictable and sometimes unnecessary. It distracted me from the main plots of the book.

But it still gets a four from me anyway!

Series list and reviews…

Some links will become active as future reviews are published.

Other recommendations…

Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse; Renee Adieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn; Jodi Meadows’s The Orphan Queen series.

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.

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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