Category Archives: 5-Great

Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

In this stunning companion to The Star-Touched Queen, we reunite with Guari as she finds herself faced with a choice: stay prisoner to the city of Ujain and let her older brother Skanda rule over her country with cruelty, or join a stranger in a competition through a magical world full of dangerous creatures and even darker desires.

Title: Crown of Wishes
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Series: Star-Touched Queen
Publish Date: March 28, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: Provided by Good Reads courtesy of a giveaway

Publisher’s Description: Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

Dual review from Kat Mandu and Luna Lovebooks!


Kat Mandu says…

Kat_Mandu_100I absolutely loved this. For me it was all about that gorgeous imagery, hilarious dialogue, and the dual-narration of both Guari and Vikram. Though I didn’t dislike A Star-Touched Queen, A Crown of Wishes just really tickled my fancy more than its prequel. I almost couldn’t put it down and even then when I was forced to, I had serious withdrawals. It’s just so fascinating from beginning to end.

The continual banter between Guari and Vikram is the best. They’re bickering from start to finish, even as they grow fonder of one another. They really made this book for me because they each learn that they both have secrets and pasts, and learn to understand each other. I had a feeling they might fall in love but I was glad it wasn’t the focus of the story. It was more about them discovering who they really had to be in life, getting past their fears and showing their true identities.

There were a few scenes that kind of threw me for a loop, ones I either just don’t get or have been corrected in the final version. I didn’t really understand all that was happening in the courtesan tent – with the mirrors – and I wish I would have understood all that was happeningbadge5v5 when Vikram and Guari both “died.” Like I said, not sure at this point if those have been cleared up with editing or if I am just confused in general.

However, that writing is still there, succulent and mesmerizing with every page. It makes you really want to read more Indian fairy tales. It’s really gorgeous and I adore Roshani’s writing style.

All of this made it a five for me!

 Luna Lovebooks says…

Likes: As much as I loved the beautiful writing of The Star-Touched Queen, I think I love Luna_Lovebooks_100Crown of Wishes even more! The writing is still beautiful and lyrical. The characters Guari and Vikram are beautifully written and I enjoyed their playful banter. This novel is a bit more fantastical features even more of the beings from Indian mythology.

badge5v5Dislikes: Once again there isn’t much I didn’t like about this novel. There were a few instances where I was confused during a scene or by what a character did but it didn’t distract from the story.
Other recommendations…

…you might try Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer, Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis, Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

 

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Dealing With Dragons by Patricia Wrede

Cimorene longs to be more than just the ordinary princess – so when she runs away from her kingdom and volunteers to be a dragon’s “captive” princess, all new adventures unfold.

 

Title: Dealing With Dragons
Author: Patricia Wrede
Series: Enchanted Forrest Chronicles Book 1
Publish Date:  November 1st 2002
Genre: Middle Grade
Cover:  Peter de Sève
Source: Purchased

 

Publisher’s Description: Cimorene is everything a princess is not supposed to be: headstrong, tomboyish, smart – and bored. So bored that she runs away to live with a dragon – and finds the family and excitement she’s been looking for.


Kat Mandu says…

I used to read this series a lot when I was growing up and like Harry Potter, it still calls to me no matter what age I am. This isn’t your typical middle-grade story, though sometimes it reads like one. Cimorene is technically a teenage princess, she even has that streak of defiance in her that often leads her into trouble – but she embraces it. However, this reads so different from books today that I find its simplicity and innocence the best part about it.

Cimorene sneaks off from her family’s kingdom and discovers a group of dragons. She offers her services – cooking and cleaning mostly – to one of them and finds a companion in Kazul, a female dragon with a feisty spirit. As the two become friends and Cimorene becomes accustomed to her new home, she meets a couple new friends, including another princess named Alianora, a witch named Morwen, and a stone prince who had an unlucky adventure himself and is now looking to redeem himself.

But she also uncovers a plot between the wizards and a shifty dragon that includes killing off the king of the dragons and putting a specific dragon in his place. When she teams up with her friends and Kazul, Cimorene manages to defeat the wizards and save the day.

This is really an enjoyable, funny read that people of all ages should enjoy. I’m eager to read the next in the series.

Other recommendations…

You’ll also love authors like Rick Riordan, Marissa Meyer, and Katherine Roberts.

 

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Bound by Benedict Jacka

For the last two books, readers have been on the edge of their seats, knowing that eventually, Alex would be back under Richard’s thumb. That time has finally arrived, and it’s a bit … anti-climactic. In a “good writing” kind of way.

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

boundTitleBound
AuthorBenedict Jacka
SeriesAlex Verus, Book 08
Publish Date: April 4, 2017 by Ace
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: NetGalley

Publisher’s Description: Mage Alex Verus is caught between a rock and a hard place in the eighth urban fantasy novel from the national bestselling author of Burned.

Alex Verus is still haunted by his time apprenticed to Richard Drakh. He’s been free of him for many years, but now the only way to keep his friends from being harmed is to again work for Richard and his deadly ally. Even worse, he’s forced to bring the Light mage Anne into this servitude as well.

After weeks of being hunted and finally cornered into what he thought was his last stand, Alex never thought his life would be spared—and never anticipated at what price. This time, the diviner can see no way out…

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

In Book 6, Veiled, Alex gets to know the Light Council from the inside — and while it is still somewhat corrupt and apathetic, he has to give some of its members credit for trying to do the right thing. Alex has to learn to see shades of gray, even when he doesn’t want to.

But if there is anyone Alex hates more than the Council, it’s the dark mage, Morden, and his former master, Richard Drahk. But now he’s forced to work with both of them, and they’re acting … like normal people. No torture, no hostility, no mustache twirling or obvious evil plots. In fact, they are acting very business-like. Meanwhile, members of the Council are behaving with open hostility toward Alex and his apprentices, believing he truly is a Dark Mage, despite his many protests.

Though it would be easy to start viewing Morden and Richard as “not so bad,” Alex isn’t fooled. He’s on his guard, and along with Anne, Vari, Luna, and Arachne, Alex uncovers THE BIG PLOT REVEAL, but not in time to keep himself and Anne from being tools used to complete it.

Alex’s world is harsh; truly good people are few and far between, and they certainly aren’t the ones in power. Dark side or light, everyone is out to further their own agendas, and competition makes the underlings more dangerous than the masters at times. The more Alex learns about both sides of the Council, the less difference there is between them.

badge5v5I enjoyed this story a lot. I love the series in general, but this one was so interesting, blurring the line between bad guy and good guy. I see things being set in motion for a revolution, and I’m excited to see how our heroes get there.

Our reviews in this series…

 

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

Blood Deal by Brad Magnarella

How can one man find so much trouble? It’s not even when he’s looking for it?  Professor Croft gets pounded, spelled, glamoured, beat on and even has the blood sucked from his own body – with his permission! Talk about a glutton for punishment.

Title: Blood Deal
Author: Brad Magnarella
Series: Professor Croft #2
Publish Date: October 17, 2016
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Narrator: James Patrick Cronin
Source: Purchased through Audible.com

Publisher’s Description: Everson Croft here, professor of mythology and … nervous as sin.

Tonight’s the night I tell Caroline the truth: about my feelings, my magic, everything.

So why am I surprised when Detective Vega calls me to a new case? An elusive creature is chewing up residents in a housing project run by rival gangs. One more mangled body and the place will explode into warfare.

Problem is, someone’s protecting the killer. All signs point to the vampire Arnaud—who’s just upped the stakes. If I don’t send Detective Vega down a trail of bad leads, he’ll snatch her child. But is Arnaud trying to derail the investigation or twist it to his own ends, ones that could reshape the city?

Worse, Caroline has disappeared, and I’m under suspicion. No one believes I last saw her with Angelus, a mysterious hunk and full-blooded faerie. Dangerous no matter how you slice it.

Two cases: one personal, one professional, and both going to hell in a hurry.

Time to wizard up.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words…spoilers.  *BEWARE*


Nervous Nellie says…

This is an urban fantasy, no sex, lots of violence that comes in various forms and though the ending is good, I believe it will be a very dangerous step for our beloved professor to take.  ALSO, I want to warn those nervous readers like me, Everson’s relationship with Vega is very rocky.  I have all the faith in the world that Author Magnarella will make everything right again.  If he doesn’t then….well…us readers will just have to set him straight. 😉

I will admit that I was drawn to the fact that Everson Croft reminds me of Indiana Jones and Harry Dresden wrapped all up in one.  I mean, really? Who could refuse that face? Check out the cover – it’s fantastic.  Anyway, Everson thinks his life is quiet for the moment and wham! he is pulled into not one, but two separate investigations.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**  I want to say that Everson was trying to be a good guy and Vega took his actions way to the extreme end of the reactionary spectrum.  I learned that Vega’s nickname or maybe even real first name is “Ricky”.  I learned she grew up in a neighborhood that was not known for it’s white picket fences and block parties.  I also learned that she is one tough broad.  She takes a gut shot and she powers her way through it enough to tell Everson how to stitch her up.  Incredible.  I also learned that if she trashes this relationship with Everson, she is making a huge mistake.  It feels like he’s the only one that will back her up and help solve the murders that no one else can touch.  Also, I think Caroline is very selfish to put Everson in the difficult spots that she is putting him in.  She could have at least checked in with him to tell him – “Hey, I know I left the party before you got back, but I wanted to touch base with you.”  That would be the considerate thing to do.  Anyway, it is what it is and that’s why it makes for a good story.  Oh, and one last thing.  Everson should have took the ring option instead of the information about his mother.  He just should have.***END OF SPOILERS***

This series is great to read but even better to listen to.  The narrator does a very good job and he fits my image of the voice for Everson Croft.  Grab the book or the audio – you won’t be sorry.  Oh, and for those of you up to book #3, like me, Mr. Magnarella assures me that the audio will be out by the first week in April and book #4 will release in print and audio closely to the same time together.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

…you might try  Yancy Lazarus series by James A. Hunter, Cisco Suarez/Black Magic Outlaw series by Domino Finn or Immortal Vegas series by Jenn Stark.

The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen

In this thrilling sequel to The False Prince, we reunite with Sage, aka “Jaron,” who has finally taken his place as king of Carthya. But war is brewing and his enemies are closer than ever to taking everything he loves away. To save his kingdom, Jaron will have to make tough decisions that will lead him straight to a group of his worst enemies – the pirates.

runaway-kingTitleThe Runaway King
AuthorJennifer A. Nielsen
SeriesThe Ascendance Trilogy, Book 02
Publish Date: March 1, 2013
Genre: YA High Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionJust weeks after Jaron has taken the throne, an assassination attempt forces him into a deadly situation. Rumors of a coming war are winding their way between the castle walls, and Jaron feels the pressure quietly mounting within Carthya. Soon, it becomes clear that deserting the kingdom may be his only hope of saving it. But the further Jaron is forced to run from his identity, the more he wonders if it is possible to go too far. Will he ever be able to return home again? Or will he have to sacrifice his own life in order to save his kingdom?

The stunning second installment of The Ascendance Trilogy takes readers on a roller-coaster ride of treason and murder, thrills and peril, as they journey with the Runaway King!

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat_Mandu_100Kat Mandu says…

I really enjoyed this action-packed story. I think the stakes are higher than ever and Jaron is still learning to trust his allies, meaning he often launches himself into dangerous missions without any backup. He’s still the same cocky little shit with a lot of tricks up his sleeve, but now he’s got more than himself to look after. He’s got to protect his kingdom, Carthya.

The characters are more well-rounded in this selection and you learn a lot more about them; Mott, for instance, as well as Imogen and Amarinda. Though Roden’s past is never really detailed, he also returns to the scene and provides a much larger problem for Jaron. Also, there’s a new character called Fink, who’s young and just as mischievous as Jaron, though he proves to be a little more innocent.

This time around, I find the romantic interest, Imogen, to be more critical to the plot and not just a girl thrown into the story for something akin to love. Though they’re never really considered “romantic,” I find her presence and position to the story a lot more functional. That and I think her feisty behavior really throws a kink in Jaron’s plans, because now he’s got to trust her or else lose her.

The author really likes to beat Jaron up, which the author half of me really loves. *rubs fingers together and cackles maniacally* Yes, yes, torture them all. Near the end of the book, Jaron receives an injury that will no doubt impact the last book to come.

All in all, this is my favorite book in the trilogy and I hope you enjoy it!

Our reviews in this series…

Links will become active as reviews are posted.

Other recommendations…

I’d recommend this to fans of high fantasy everywhere, especially fans of Sara B. Larson, Erika Johansen, and Melina Marchetta.