A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet is an intoxicating fantasy adventure. I haven’t felt so enchanted by magic since Harry Potter.

27015399.jpgCatalia “Cat” Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice…

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he’s ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.

A Promise of Fire wildly surpassed my expectations. Long after I turned the last page, I couldn’t get over how amazing it was. It left me in a fog, my mouth hung open in shock as I repeated “wow” over and over again. It was that good people. Here’s why.

Cat was an amazing heroine. She checked all the boxes of a badass fighter with her wicked knife skills, witty comebacks and impressive magic abilities. However, she was so amazing because she had this vulnerability to her. She was afraid. Her story was so heartbreaking and the juxtaposition between her arrogant confidence and fearful vulnerability was a delicate balance that made Cat such a relatable character.

Beta Sinta is one of the best male heroes I’ve come across in a while. He, too, was a badass fighter who’s deadly with a sword and always has a trick up his sleeve. However, who he is inside was so endearing and swoon worthy. He was sweet, honorable, loyal. I wanted more and more of him. He was the kind of alpha male that’s realistic because he fought for those he loved not for himself.

I fell in love with the world Bouchet built. The kingdoms, the caste systems, the battle for power, the magical ties to the gods. It was all so perfectly lovely and entertaining. I particularly liked all the run-in’s Cat had with a certain Sea God. The magic was mesmerizing. With every turn of the page, there was something new, glorious and dangerous to discover, devour and kill. Both Cat and Beta Sinta fight with no remorse once their loved ones are threatened.

I fell in love with this story. I drank it in with impatient gulps, like a man dying of thirst in the desert. It was so good. The romance had me swooning. The action had my blood pumping and the secrets (most of which have yet to be revealed) kept me flipping the pages.

If you like Fantasy and Romance, this is the book for you. Excuse me while I go devour book two.

STARS: 5 out of 5

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The Fallen World Trilogy by Laura Thalassa

It’s been awhile since I’ve been sucked so wholly into a story, and The Fallen World Trilogy by Laura Thalassa was an addicting read.

21422225In the future, the world is at war.

For the last decade, King Lazuli of the Eastern Empire has systematically taken over the world. No one knows much about him other than a series of impossible facts: he cannot die, he has not aged since the conflict began, and he wants to rule the world.

All Serenity Freeman has known is bloodshed. War has taken away her mother, her home, her safety. As the future emissary of the Western United Nations, the last autonomous region of the globe, she is responsible for forging alliances where she can.

Surrender is on the horizon. The king can taste it; Serenity feels it deep within her bones. There is no other option. Now the two must come face to face. For Serenity, that means confronting the man who’s taken everything from her. For the king, it means meeting the one woman he can’t conquer. But when they meet, something happens. Cruelty finds redemption.

Only in war, everything comes with a price. Especially love.

Recommended by @Twinbookmarks, I decided to give it a try based on their gushing, and they were absolutely right. This book is a fast-paced, action-packed, hurts-so-good romance story. Half-way into the first book, I immediately purchased the rest of the series. Don’t let the covers fool you. This is a great read by an indie author.

Let’s start with Serenity and Montes’ relationship. Never have I read a more excruciatingly delicious, slow-burn, enemies-to-lovers trope. Their relationship was so toxic yet engulfing that I can only describe it as dying a slow death of arsenic poisoning, where it’s included in your favorite nightly tea. It’s both indulgent and destructive. The love and hate pull between them was dynamic, magnetic and most of all entrancing. I Could. Not. Stop. Reading.

This story isn’t all romance. In fact, there’s less sexy times with even less details than I usually expect from a romance novel. HOWEVER, the action in this story was relentless. Serenity is one badass chick. In every book, she’s taking down bad guys like it’s just another day in the life. Her targeted deadliness is balanced by her innate yearning for justice and peace. She’ll do anything to save her people. ANYTHING. That includes a bullet hole through the eyes with absolutely no remorse.

The author created a world with very high stakes. The post-apocalyptic world was both realistic and devastating. Every day is life or death. Every day one must sacrifice to help those in need. I’ve steered clear of post-apocalyptic novels as of late because I was tired of the same old, same old, but this world really stands apart – mainly that we get to see it from the dictator’s point of view. The cruelty of the King and the determination of Serenity drive this story forward like a high-speed car chase.

My favorite book of the three had to be the second book Queen of Traitors. The first book The Queen of All that Dies was a great introduction, but the depravity of both the King and Serenity is unleashed in book two. And the finale, The Queen of all the Lives, was a satisfying end to this whirlwind of a story.

If you like action-packed adventure in a post-apocalyptic world with badass heroines and a dark and twisted love interest, this book is for you.

STARS: 5 out of 5

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

I just finished A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas, the final installment of Feyre’s story. I want to sing and dance and laugh and cry. But mostly, I am content. I want for nothing.

23766634Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

I abhor spoilers so I will try my best to review this magnificent story without telling you anything. I know this review will not do it justice because it is SJM’s very words and spellbinding storytelling that make this series my favorite series of all time. Just know that it is a fitting end, a story that is satisfying without being bittersweet even knowing it will be the last.

The manipulation and deception in the first part of ACOWAR was so well done. My favorite scene at the wall is when Feyre reveals her badass fighting skills to Lucien. So. Epic. In fact, all the battle scenes had my blood thundering in my veins, that primal bloodlust simmering to the surface. With the very lives of everyone Feyre loves — that we, the reader, love — on the line, I almost couldn’t bear it, putting the book down just to catch my breath. It was an absolute honor to witness Cassian and Azriel fight. From the moment Cassian bellowed “SHIELDS!” as he led his army into certain death, it made my heart race. I’m getting goosebumps again just thinking about it.

And the BONE CARVER! Guys, that twist was spectacular. It’s like a gift from SJM to her readers. And I, for one, am grateful.

The scenes between Rhysand and Feyre I will always hold close to my heart, from their eventual reunion to standing together at the last. Rhysand’s heart-breaking words to his mate echo still, ringing in the deepest depths of my heart.

“Remember you are a wolf. And you cannot be caged.”

I don’t know if I can say anything else. I cried, oh I cried, and I hoped, a painful kind of hope that fills you up too much, until desperation is pouring through your very skin. There is pain and terror and devastation, but there is also redemption, reconciliation, and for some characters, faint flickers of a fated future, one that may just come to pass.

My one request is I want MORE. There are so many unresolved relationships and new ones I didn’t even know about til now that I SHIP SO HARD! I hope to God that SJM will write more on these individuals.

ACOWAR is everything I wanted it to be and more. I’m in awe of SJM’s masterful writing and epic twists. However, it was the quieter twists in this book that stole my heart. How SJM finds quiet moments to capitalize on, where it isn’t the battle scenes and fights to the death that steal the spotlight, but the battles within ourselves, that are the hardest to fight but must be won before a blade can even be drawn.

I am sad that Feyre’s story is over, but I am content. It was well told, my heart bursting with a comfortable kind of satisfaction. However, knowing there will be a spin-off in 2018 makes the end easier to swallow.

READ this book. It may very well change your life. It did mine.

STARS: 5 out of 5

 

Torn by Carian Cole

Thank you baby Jesus.

That’s what I’m thinking as I one-clicked Carian Cole’s latest novel, Torn. I devoured her Ashes & Embers series so I was oh-so-ready for her new Devil’s Wolves series.

28481104He’s loved me since the day I was born.
He’s taken care of me.
He’s awakened me.

Tor. My father’s best friend.
Fifteen years older than me, he’s always been my protector.
The one I should never, ever want.
But I was born to be his.

She’s always loved me.
She’s shattered me.
She’s healed me.

Kenzi. My best friend’s daughter.
I held her the day she was born, and I never let go.
She’s forbidden to me. But she’s the only one that really gets me.
We’re slowly being torn apart by everything we love.
Everything we want.
Everything we desire.

And now I want the one thing I can’t have… I want her.

I know what you’re thinking. A romance between a 32-year-old and an 18-year-old? That’s gross! But you couldn’t be more wrong. This book, at the heart of it, is two people falling in love despite external forces, age, societal expectations, timing, etc. It was so tastefully done. There was never a time I felt uncomfortable or my eyebrows raised in disbelief. The combination of Cole’s storytelling and these two wonderfully complex characters made for a whirlwind romance. I was hanging on every last word, the pages burning in my hands as the writing etched itself in my heart. I really frickin’ loved this book.

Tor and Kenzi’s love story was all about discovery and awakening and first love — for both of them. They had such a cute friendship that bloomed into a scorching romance. The obstacles they faced just to be together had my heart twisting. I was surprised at how sweet Tor was with the animal rescue he was involved in, and I loved the scene with their first kiss. It was beyond epic.

Cole does bad boys like no one else. They have the long hair, the tats, the bad ass attitude but they have hearts of gold and are gentlemen at their core. I loved seeing glimpses of my favorite characters of the Ashes & Ember series and I’m so looking forward to reading Tor’s brothers’ stories. The secondary characters in this novel are so real to me, and I want to hear their stories.

If you like bad boy romance, then you need to read Carian Cole.

STARS: 5 out of 5

 

Hearts in Darkness by Laura Kaye

There’s this wagon with a band on it and I’m huffing and puffing behind it. In short, I’m late to the party for Hearts in Darkness by Laura Kaye but I’m so glad I found it. Better late than never.

17948528Two strangers…

Makenna James thinks her day can’t get any worse, until she finds herself stranded in a pitch-black elevator with a complete stranger. Distracted by a phone call, the pin-striped accountant catches only a glimpse of a dragon tattoo on his hand before the lights go out.

Four hours…

Caden Grayson is amused when a harried redhead dashes into his elevator fumbling her bags and cell phone. His amusement turns to panic when the power fails. Despite his piercings, tats, and vicious scar, he’s terrified of the dark and confined spaces. Now, he’s trapped in his own worst nightmare.

One pitch-black elevator…

To fight fear, they must reach out and open up. With no preconceived notions based on looks to hold them back, they discover just how much they have in common. In the warming darkness, attraction grows and sparks fly, but will they feel the same when the lights come back on?

This novella is the most complex, moving short story I have ever read. Want a lesson in integrating detailed background into a forward-moving story? This is it. I could not believe how much background I picked up on each of the characters that was just filtered throughout the story. It’s like I could see their whole world from one vantage point. Magnificent writing. If I could write like Laura Kaye, I would quit my job today and bang out bestsellers for the foreseeable future. Now, this is the first book I’ve read by Kaye, but you best believe I have the rest of her books on my TBR list. As her first published novel, it came out a while ago (hence the bandwagon comment), and I found out about it through the blogosphere and I wish I could remember which blog it was because I want to send them flowers and chocolates in gratitude.

Hearts in Darkness is the story of two hearts stuck in a pitch black elevator. I loved the way they learned about each other through listening and touch. I loved that they both had image issues that were easily overcome in the dark and I loved that Caden was claustrophobic and Makenna was clumsy.

Their story progressed beautifully in such a short amount of time but it wasn’t rushed. Told in alternating point of views, I loved getting inside both of these character’s heads. Caden has a dark past and wears his tattoos and piercings like armor against the world. Makenna was such an open, relatable heroine. Their chemistry in that elevator was explosive. It was hot without using the overpowering male trope, where it’s just two people expressing themselves, laying bare vulnerabilities and desires. I can never ride another elevator without thinking about this story.

I highly recommend this to anyone who’s looking for a romantic, sexy story filled with humor and facing fears. It’s a short read, but well worth the time.

STARS: 5 out of 5

Jordyn by Tiffany King

For the third book on my #utopYA2014 reading list, I selected Jordyn by Tiffany King and I was pleasantly surprised.

17225270Hand to hand combat training: Check

Cardio and strength training: Check

Daemon hunting: Check Anomaly: Check

Check, check, check, check…That’s all my life is. There’s nothing ordinary about me. I’m “special.” I know this because I’m reminded of it every stinking day. I can kick a Daemon’s ass with both hands tied behind my back. I can run up a mountain without breaking a sweat. Know what I can’t do? Get guys to notice me, or hang out with friends like normal people do. I can’t just be ordinary because I have an Arch Angel for a mentor who is always breathing down my neck, and a family of angelic Guides and Protectors who scrutinize every little thing I do. Just for a day I want a life where I’m no longer some anomaly, where I don’t have to feel like a lab rat.

And then I met Emrys. Okay, so my mentor and family hate him, but probably for good reason. After-all, he is a Soul Trader, and they aren’t the most trust worthy beings. But, he is sooo hot with his green eyes, leather jacket and the sexiest tattoo you’ve ever seen running down his back. And-he doesn’t treat me like a project. I’ve got myself in quite a little quandary here. Choosing between my responsibilities and the Trader that holds my heart is something I didn’t sign up for. Torn between two different worlds, I must now decide who to trust and who to walk away from. What’s a girl to do? See what I mean? I am an anomaly. I am Jordyn.

If I could describe this book it would be simplistic with nothing but the good stuff. The plot was simple with a twist at the end but Jordyn’s lack of memory still kept the reader interested in who Jordyn really is. This is the first novel I’ve read by Tiffany King, but I could tell right away that the secondary characters were more than they appeared; I later figured out that they were the main characters in her previous series, The Saving Angels (which I am putting on my TBR list).

The main character, Jordyn, is a badass. It’s no secret that I love heroines that kick ass, and Jordyn even had a witty, sarcastic tone. I also enjoyed that she wasn’t portrayed as a “dumb” teenager, because it could have easily gone there. I think if she hadn’t willingly gone with Emrys the first few times he popped into the situation, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. However, she seemed smart and capable, which is something I look for in a good Young Adult heroine.

My favorite part of this whole book was Emrys, the male love-interest. He was smoking and I’m not even talking about his tattooed, leather jacket-wearing exterior, I’m talking about the sizzling dialogue that took the scene from lukewarm to scorching in a split second. It was the kind of dialogue that required a glass of cold water poured over your head to cool you down. (Let me remind you that this is Young Adult so you will be left wanting!) The interchange between Emrys and Jordyn was so well done. Emrys hit all the elements of a sexy male lead without being cheesy or predictable.

I felt like the book ended right when it was taking off so I’m really looking forward to reading the second book in the Daemon Hunter series, Jordyn and the Caverns of Gloom. Based on this one book, Tiffany King has made it to my authors to watch (and read) list. She delivered a smart heroine and a sizzling love interest with an intriguing plot and an enjoyable writing style — this book deserves all five stars.

STARS: 5 out of 5