Posts tagged romance

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Cinderella is an Assasin

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Eighteen-year-old Celaena Sardothien is a prisoner in the salt mines of Endovier, living out a life sentence for her life as a notorious assassin. After surviving a year as a slave in the harsh mines, she is suddenly given a way to freedom: the king is hosting a competition for a position as his personal assassin, and Prince Dorian, crown prince of Endovier, wants to champion Celaena. Despite her loathing for the war-faring king, Celaena agrees, and her new journey–emotional and physical–begins. Once she arrives at the palace, she finds her competition to be fierce, full of other criminals and soldiers. Over the weeks of elimination challenges, Celaena finds herself involved with many of the big names at court. She also finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery as other potential assassins are found dead, one by one. Is she next? How can she stop what seems to be a malevolent, magical force? A destiny awaits her beyond any she could have imagined. Oh, and don’t forget love interests! (I’ll just say “love triangle with swoon-worthy guys” and leave it at that.)

Maas started her story on the premise that Cinderella was actually a deadly assassin. (more…)

Soulbound: Legacy of Tril by Heather Brewer

A Healer Wants To Be A Fighter In This Fantasy-Adventure World

Soulbound by Heather Brewer (Legacy of Tril book one)

Review based on Advanced Reading Copy (ARC).

What’s worse than being blackmailed to attend a hidden school where you’re treated like a second-class citizen? How about nearly getting eaten by a monster when you arrive? Or learning that your soulmate was killed in a centuries-old secret war? And then there’s the evil king who’s determined to rule the world unless you can stop him…

”  – Goodreads

In the land of Tril, war against the Graplar King has ravaged the land for ages, but only a handful of the population really knows it: the Barrons and Healers. Barrons are warriors, and each Barron is soulbound to a Healer who, you guessed it, heal them when they’re injured. Once bound, they are bound for life, and Shadow Academy protocol dictates that they will stay together, the Barron protecting and the Healer lingering in the background out of danger.

Kaya is seventeen, a Healer, and seriously doesn’t like protocol. In fact, she wouldn’t even be at the Academy if they hadn’t threatened her parents (two married Barrons, a serious protocol no-no). When she gets to Shadow Academy, she learns that her soulbound Barron died in battle, and she becomes bound to a new Barron, a gorgeous guy who makes her melt any time he’s around. When Kaya starts meeting others at the school, though, things are not so smooth–Healers are expected to be complacent and serve, something Kaya cannot stop challenging. When her Barron refuses to teach her how to fight, she learns illegally from a young, brooding teacher who, for some reason, seems to have it in for her. As Kaya learns more about the centuries-old war and the people in her new life, she digs herself closer to the truth and further into danger. Nothing is truly as it seems, and Kaya is thrown about in the waves of conflict, both from within academy walls and in the outside war against the Graplar King.

And can you say super-crazy-cliffhangers ten times fast? Fans will be clamoring for the next book before the first is even published! (more…)

Starters

What If Your Mind & Body Were No Longer Your Own?

Starters by Lissa Price (book one in Starters series)

Review based on an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC)

In a dystopian world in which only the very old and very young have survived, sixteen-year-old Callie is trying to make it on the streets while taking care of her sick younger brother. After the Spore Wars tore the country apart–only the weakest members of society, old and young, received the limited vaccine and survived–there was a strong division between rich and poor. Starters (the young) have virtually no rights, while Enders (adults age sixty through their hundreds) control all. Callie is an unclaimed Starter, legally unable to take a job and with no surviving parents or grandparents as guardian, giving her and her brother little choice but to squat in abandoned buildings to avoid being rounded up and sent to a terrible institutions.

When Callie hears of a company willing to pay Starters under the table, she ends up at Prime Destinations where, with the technology of a neurochip, Elders can “rent” the bodies of Starters for recreation and be young again. Creepy? Yes. Easy money? So it seems. But when Callie’s neurochip malfunctions and she wakes up in the middle of a rental–in her own body but with the belongings and credentials of a wealthy Ender–she discovers that she has been rented for a malicious, illegal purpose, and the high-suspense race to the truth begins. (more…)

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (book three in Graceling companion series)

Fantasy Adventure with Beauty, Intelligence, and Depth

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (Book three in the Graceling series)

Review based on an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC).

Let me start off by saying if you’re not familiar with Kristin Cashore’s Graceling series, go here first to read our review of the first book, Graceling, in this companion book trilogy. It’s a great fantasy adventure with an active, feisty female protagonist, and both Ruby and I loved it (and all consequent books!). If you have read Graceling and it’s companion Fire, carry on.

Bitterblue is, obviously, the long-awaited third book in Cashore’s fantasy world of the Seven Kingdoms. While Graceling focuses on Katsa (a young woman with a killing grace) and Fire goes over the mountains and into the past to show us the Dells and a human monster named Fire, Bitterblue focuses on the young queen of the same name. (Never fear, Katsa and Po fans: they, along with other familiar faces, are woven throughout the pages and in Bitterblue’s life.)

It has been eight years since Bitterblue’s father, the mind-controlling graceling King Leck, was killed, and she has been growing up under the title of Queen of Monsea. Surrounded by old advisors who would like to pardon all crimes under Leck’s horrific reign and pretend those decades never happened, she finds herself under a mountain of paperwork, governing a land she does not feel she knows. At first Bitterblue trusts her advisers’ judgment, but her growing frustration and a sense of ignorance about the reality of her father, his reign, and the people and society of Monsea makes her realize that she has much to learn. In a moment of exasperation, Bitterblue sneaks out of the castle one night in servant’s clothes and finds herself in a crumbling city full of thieves–some friendly, some dangerous–and finally realizes that the “truths” she is being told in her castle are not real. Through her budding relationship with two thieves and printers, Bitterblue slowly learns about her kingdom through her disguise and starts to uncover the fog that Leck left on his subjects, as well as the deceit and misinformation making its way to her palace. As her own mind wakes up to the realities of her kingdom–both beautiful and tragic–and she starts a secret project to uncover who Leck really was and how she can bring her people back to the light. Bitterblue is more of a mental adventure than its predecessors, but it still holds the key ingredients that have made all of Cashore’s books a success, including romance, adventure, suspense and intrigue, and difficult, sometimes philosophical questions about self and others. I loved Bitterblue, and my only (minor) regret is that I didn’t re-read the companion novels before diving in. (more…)

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assasin Book I)

French History, the Lord Death, and a Convent of Assassins

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (His Fair Assassin, book one)

Review based on an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC).

Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae has had a harsh life: born the daughter of death, her “mortal” father fears and hates her, and after years of beatings and abuse, she is sold into an arranged marriage. When strangers help her to escape, she finds herself taken to the convent of St. Mortain, where she learns that she is not only Death’s daughter but also a tool of Death’s revenge. At the convent Ismae becomes strong, learning everything from poisons and hand-to-hand combat to societal etiquette and effective spying techniques. Over the years, she develops friendships, new skills, and a place she calls home. (All of this takes place in 15th-Century Brittany.)

Several years later and in the midst of her first assassination assignment–her job is to find a man “marked” with Death’s fingerprint and perform His will–she encounters a handsome but frustrating nobleman, Duval, and he becomes a complication that follows her into her next trip and provides riddles as to the protection of the Duchess of Brittany, Death’s true intent, and the way the world truly functions. As the political intrigue grows, Duval and Ismae grow closer, supposedly working together while struggling to trust one another. When the convent determines it is Death’s will that Duval be assassinated, Ismae finds herself in an emotionally tumultuous position, unsure of her loyalties and her developing feelings. All the while Brittany is threatened by attack from France and the young Duchess is in ever-growing danger and in need of Ismae’s protection. Without giving away too much of the plot or romance, let’s just say it’s a really good page-turner! (more…)

Crossed

Guest Review: Marin

Crossed by Ally Condie (Book 2 Matched Trilogy)

(Review based on Advanced Reader Copy)

In the sequel to Matched, star-crossed lovers, Cassia and Ky, escape the stringent rules of the Society intending to live happily ever after, but life in the outside world isn’t what they expected and perilous adventures await.

In Matched, Ky and Cassia risk life and limb escaping the vigilant and watchful eyes of the Society to find each other. They weren’t supposed to fall in love, but now that they have Cassia is forced to come to the realization that the Society’s true aims are not as benign as they appear. Two perilous escapes and long treks across dangerous wilderness with strangers find these young lovers back together and searching for the rebels.

The alternating points of view allow the reader to learn more about the motivations of Cassia and Ky. However, this narrative choice also occasionally interrupts the flow, leaving the reader with a choppy story. Crossed is not a strong stand-alone story because there isn’t much information about what exactly the Society is and why Cassia wants to join the rebellion. However, this action-packed adventure introduces new characters and enticing possibilities for the conclusion in the final book of the trilogy.

Crossed will be released on November 1st, 2011.

-Marin

Ages 12+

ISBN: 9780525423652

Also available as an eBook.

Abandon

A Modern-day Persephone

Abandon by Meg Cabot (Abandon Trilogy)

“He was a death deity. I was a senior in high school. This was never going to work.”

Life in a new high school can be hard, especially after you’ve died. Luckily for Pierce, she was resuscitated, but not before she makes it to the Underworld and unwittingly catches the eye of John Hayden, a dark and broodingly handsome guy who just happens to be the death lord in charge of the traveling souls of the deceased.

In a modern-day twist on the Greek myth of Persephone and Hades, Cabot has created a dark and interesting drama between a girl who is not quite the same since she drowned and a death deity who is unwilling to let her go, even in life. As Pierce finds herself in unwittingly dangerous situations, John follows her and protects her (often rather destructively), much to Pierce’s chagrin. Unsettled by his presence every time he’s near, she’s both afraid and captivated, unsure how to escape him for good and somewhat unwilling to do so. Avoiding John becomes especially difficult when Pierce and her divorced mom move to the equivalent of the Florida Keys to make a fresh start, which just happens to be a direct portal to the underworld. Oops. (more…)

Wither

So Little Time in a Dystopian World

Wither by Lauren DeStefano (Book One in the Chemical Garden Trilogy)

Several generations ago, the human race was genetically perfected: genes were cleared of tendencies to cancer, viruses, disease. But something went horribly wrong, and all subsequent generations have stunted lifelines, girls living until age twenty and boys living until age twenty-five. The short lifelines of all those who aren’t “first generation” means a stagnation of humanity, and the divide between rich and poor grows ever deeper as the remaining dystopian world is filled with orphans, crime, and fear. Some search for a cure to this terrible genetic curse. Others despair that one cannot be found.

Sixteen-year-old Rhine and her twin brother, Rowan, are children of first generation parents who died in a terrorist attack at the genetics lab where they worked to find a cure. Left alone, Rhine and her brother maintain their home and find what work they can. And then, one day, Rhine is stolen away by Gatherers, men who make a living kidnapping and selling young women as wives to wealthy men, a means of forced procreation.

Scared and bitter, Rhine is sold to Linden, her twenty-one-year-old husband, along with two new sister wives, Cecily–age thirteen–and Jenna–age eighteen. (They are the lucky ones: the rejected girls were shot and left on the side of the road.) While Cecily, who grew up in an orphanage, is giddy to love her new husband and plush, comfortable lifestyle, Jenna and Rhine are miserable and seething, though only Rhine is determined to escape. Her only solace, besides the library, is a servant of the house, Gabriel, and a friendship between them blossoms into something unnamed and forbidden. (more…)

The Goose Girl - original cover art

High Fantasy with a Fallen Princess

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

I expected to like The Goose Girl. Instead, I loved it.

In this beautiful retelling of the Grimm brothers’ fairy tale, Hale takes a classic and makes it her own, weaving in countless details of two unknown kingdoms and the characters–both good and bad–who fill them.

Growing up, Ani has always known that she is not the Crown Princess her mother wishes her to be: she is not good at speaking with others and is not diplomatic or charming like her mother, who has the ability of “people-speaking”. Instead she feels more at home by the pond where her nursemary once taught her the language of the swans and the bluejays overhead; even her horse, Falada, shares her thoughts and feelings. Still, Ani does her best to grow into the queen she is destined to be, and with the help of her graceful maid-in-waiting, Selia, she struggles forth.

At the burial of her suddenly deceased father, though, her mother announces that another sibling will be crowned; feeling betrayed and bitter, Ani learns she has been betrothed to a prince in the kingdom across the mountains, Bayern, as a peace-offering to prevent war. On the months’ long journey through the forests and mountains, half of her riders revolt and Selia abandons her, claiming that she–who, like the queen, has the skill of charming speech, “people speaking”–deserves to be princess instead and will be a maid-in-waiting no more. Ani runs for her life, chased by the murderers who know she could ruin their plot, and finds herself alone and with (more…)

A Spy in the House

Mystery and Murder in Victorian London

A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee

It is Victorian England, and Mary Quinn, a savvy twelve-year-old orphan with a secret, has been caught stealing food and is sentenced to hang. Through good graces and a series of sneaky maneuvers, she is rescued by a stranger and taken to the Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls for a proper upbringing where she will learn a lady’s traits.

Fast forward a few years, and Mary–now a well-respected and well-cultured young woman–is grateful but frustrated, unsure what she’s fit for and bored of needlework and polite conversation. When she finds out the academy is also a cover for the Agency, a women’s secret spy corporation, she’s swept up in the journey and learning, determined to further prove herself to those women who saved her that day on the street years ago. Sent on her first mission to listen in on conversations and observe while a more accomplished insider takes control, Mary quickly finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery and throws herself into the case, deeper than her peers would like. To add to the trouble she’s already in, a dark, mysterious man–a little broody, but rather like other romantic interests in the historical genre–keeps getting in her way and observing her attempts at infiltration. Mary quickly realizes that she must agree to partner up for the information they both so desperately seek. Romance, though forbidden, is in the air… And all the while, a murderer and master thief is on the loose. (more…)

Go to Top