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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.

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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.

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

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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