Kiss of the Royal
by Lindsey Duga
on July 3, 2018
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Romance, Fantasy
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Princess Ivy has one goal—end the war against the Forces of Darkness.
Ivy’s magic is more powerful than any other Royal’s, but she needs a battle partner who can help her harness it. Prince Zach’s unparalleled skill with a sword should make them an unstoppable pair—if only they could agree on...well, just about anything.
But Ivy’s magic can only fully unlock with Zach’s help, and he’s not exactly cooperating.
Zach believes Ivy’s magic is dangerous. Ivy believes they’ll never win the war without it. Two warriors, one goal, and the fate of their world on the line. But the more they argue, the more they fall for each other. And only one of them can be right...
Review of Kiss of the Royal
Kiss of the Royal is a YA fiction novel by author Lindsey Duga. The story follows Ivy- a seventeen-year-old girl with unparalleled magic that can be bestowed upon others in the form of a kiss. In this richly imaginative world filled with dark forces such as goblins, dwarves, dragons, witches, and wraiths, a society of noble princes and princesses known as the Royals are sworn to protect the three kingdoms from evil. Their sole purpose is to fight the forces of darkness and squander any rebellions from a group of people known as the Romantica- a group of heretics who believe in “true love”- a notion the Royals find fanciful and fictitious, as they believe in suppressing emotions and operating only with cool logic and clear reasoning.
These long-held believes are challenged when Ivy pairs up with an infamous Royal swordsman named Zach, her page and best friend Bromley, and a sassy and talented mage named Millenia, on a quest to defeat the latest threat to the kingdoms- a lethal dragon that is in the process of being hatched by the Evil Queen- the very one who introduced the Kingdoms to the dark forces and sparked the beginning of the magic kissed utilized as weapons by the Royals. This journey to save the world was fraught with nail-biting encounters with a number of imaginative and mystical creatures, enough plot twists to leave you dizzy with shock, and heart-melting romance.
Zach’s character was flippant, charming, and swoon-worthy. From the second he was introduced to Ivy I just knew he was going to be an instant favorite of mine. Zach had me laughing routinely throughout the story and I could never predict his actions- something that rarely occurs with me. His confidence, unwavering faith in love, and his desire to help those around him snagged my heart and shot him straight to the top of my mental book boyfriends list (I seriously need to get a second list going). Ivy’s character was also complex- she was noble, righteous, brave, and selfless. Having been raised by a mother devoid of warmth and love proved to be a challenge for Ivy during her interactions with others- which is probably the main reason she struggled to believe in the concept of love once it was revealed to her. It made it that much more interesting to watch the charged emotions and evident chemistry between Zach and Ivy.
The breathtaking romance, grand and harrowing adventure, imaginative world, and intricate plot made Kiss of the Royal an instant favorite of mine! Honestly, it truly is the must-read novel for those who love YA romance, dark fairy-tales, and fantasy novels!
FIVE stars for Kiss of the Royal!
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One Small Thing
by Erin Watt
Published by Harlequin on July 1, 2018
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Dating & Sex
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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author duo of The Royals and When It’s Real comes a sensational new novel about a girl falling for the one boy she should never have met…
Beth’s life hasn’t been the same since her sister died. Her parents try to lock her down, believing they can keep her safe by monitoring her every move. When Beth sneaks out to a party one night and meets the new guy in town, Chase, she’s thrilled to make a secret friend. It seems like a small thing, just for her.
Only Beth doesn’t know how big her secret really is…
Fresh out of juvie and determined to start his life over, Chase has demons to face and much to atone for, including his part in the night Beth’s sister died. Beth, who has more reason than anyone to despise him, is willing to give him a second chance. A forbidden romance is the last thing either of them planned for senior year, but the more time they spend together, the deeper their feelings get.
Now Beth has a choice to make—follow the rules, or risk tearing everything apart…again.
Review of One Small Thing
One Small Thing is a standalone novel by New York Times bestselling author-duo Erin Watt. The story follows Beth, a high school student who-for the past three years-has been sheltered and monitored closely by her parents after the sudden, tragic death of her older sister. However, her desire to finally break free from their over-protectiveness leads her to a party where she runs into another high school student- Chase. Chase has just been released from a three year stay in juvie due to his involvement in Beth’s sister’s death. His desire is to start fresh and to make sure he is never put into a position where something unfortunate may happen. When he and Beth meet, the metaphorical sparks fly and they push all the darkness aside that has been clinging to them for years and lose themselves in each other.
One Small Thing is definitely one of the darker, heavier novels written by Erin Watt. Despite the controversial foundation that was created at the beginning of Chase and Beth’s relationship, the story held the subtle humorous notes that are present in previous novels. Beth’s ability to look beyond Chase’s actions the night her sister died, and recognize that he made a tragic mistake made her an instant favorite of mine. She struggled deeply with her conflicting emotions throughout the story- her love for her sister, her forgiveness of Chase, her frustration with her parents, her fear of being judged by others for feeling something for Chase, etc. Chase had his own metaphorical demons to contend with- his guilt over Beth’s sister’s death, his experience in juvie, his feelings for Beth, his own guilt for putting Beth in a position to lie to friends and family about their closeness and involvement with each other, and his belief that he should continue to atone for what occurred in the past.
Despite all the turmoil and controversy surrounding their burgeoning relationship, Chase and Beth are able to connect on a level that far exceeds the tender, sweet juvenile love that is often seen in novels in this genre. The melancholy tones weave perfectly with their relationship, making their feelings stark, real, and meaningful. Beth was exactly what Chase needed to realize that he was more than the sum of his past mistakes, and Chase was exactly what Beth needed in order for her to understand her parents, and herself, when it comes to their way to heal and grieve.
One Small Thing was a beautifully written masterpiece about star-crossed lovers who find the strength to grow from their grief and forgiveness while seeking solace and understanding in each other’s company. It is a deep and meaningful love story that was crafted and built from a subtle, melancholic place and flourished into something enduring and lasting and real.
Five stars for One Small Thing! To Kill a Kingdom
by Alexandra Christo
Published by Feiwel & Friends on March 6, 2018
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Mermaids
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Lira, a famous siren, must prove herself by stealing the heart of the man, a prince, threatening their race in this dark and action-packed debut.
Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most--a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen and or remain a human forever.
The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby--it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good--But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?
Alexandra Christo's debut is a dark and richly imagined take on The Little Mermaid that will leave readers breathless.
To Kill A Kingdom Review
To Kill a Kingdom is a YA fantasy novel by author Alexandra Christo. The story follows Lira- a seventeen-year old siren who is infamously known as the Prince’s bane due to her morbid task of ripping the hearts out of prince’s every time she ages a year- and Prince Elian, a young man who have notoriously earned a reputation as a siren killer. Lira makes a grievous mistake in the beginning of the story which forces her malevolent mother, the sea queen, to issue an ultimatum- either retrieve the heart of Prince Elian while in the form of a human, or risk being a human forever. Prince Elian, learning about the death of a dear friend to the nefarious Prince’s Bane, sets out on a quest to not only find her, but find a jewel that is thought capable of ending the lives of ALL sirens.
A twist of fate throws both Prince Elian and Lira into each other’s paths. What results is an epic adventure filled with devious pirates, daring sword fights, treacherous travels through snowy mountains, and a generous dose of love and friendship.
*Review below may contain some spoilers*
The story starts out with Lira ripping the heart from the chest cavity of a young prince while his mother screams in terror. After reading this, I thought, “Well. Not sure how I feel about this siren.” A part of me was reluctant to move on, not sure how comfortable I was with the actions of Lira. However, I decided to push through it, hoping that I would have a better understanding of her actions. Thankfully, this happened early on. Lira’s childhood was a tragic tale of a twisted, evil mother who was basically emotionally abusive. Lira had been forced to do an unspeakable thing as a young girl that resulted in the hardening of her own heart and the staunching of any emotions that can be construed as “good”. While this understanding does nothing to negate the horror of her actions towards princes, it does provide a nice scandalous premise for the story.
Prince Elian escapes his duty as a prince destined to rule by recruiting a loyal crew of pirates and sailing the seas in search of sirens to kill. In Elian’s mind, all sirens are evil and must be vanquished. He does not understand their actions, their culture, or their language, yet seeks to end them all anyway…even chasing the idea of mass genocide of their entire species. It is while on this quest that Elian fishes Lira out of the sea, believing her to be a human in need of rescuing. Lira unsuccessfully tries to attack Elian upon meeting him, which makes her untrustworthy in the eyes of his crew. Lira eventually learns of Elian’s plan to end all sirens and decides to join him on his quest so that she can steal the jewel for herself and usurp her mother as the sea queen.
The chemistry between Lira and Elian is constantly charged. Their dialogue was amusing, and I constantly found myself grinning by their witty repertoire. Both characters were strong, with Elian not the only one playing “savior”, but Lira finding herself in that position as well. I enjoy stories with strong female protagonists and To Kill a Kingdom delivered in that respect. I can hardly say any woman in this story was “weak”. In addition, I LOVED that two women ended up marrying one another and equally ruling a nation- as same-sex marriage is often underrepresented in stories- especially those in the YA genre.
To Kill a Kingdom left me with a major book hangover. And for that, I give the story FIVE stars!! Red Queen
by Victoria Aveyard
Published by Harper Collins on February 10th 2015
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
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The #1 New York Times bestselling series!
Red Queen, by #1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Aveyard, is a sweeping tale of power, intrigue, and betrayal, perfect for fans of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series.
Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver-blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.
To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction.
One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.
And don’t miss War Storm, the thrilling final book in the bestselling Red Queen series!
Red Queen Review
Red Queen is the first novel in the Red Queen series by New York Times bestselling author Victoria Aveyard. The story follows seventeen-year-old Mare Barrows, a red blood and thief who is on the brink of being forced to join a war she doesn’t believe in. Mare lives with her impoverished family in a desolate, poor town known as The Stilts (appropriately named due to homes being suspended above the ground on stilts- thus only being accessed by ladders). The Stilts is located on the edge of a river, where Mare and her family can watch the many silver bloods float by on their grandiose boats. In this futuristic world, people are divided by the color of their blood- red and silver. Red bloods, like Mare, are normal humans that are forced into servitude and are considered inferior to silver bloods. Silver bloods have rare abilities such as controlling fire (like the royal family), manipulating water and minds, superior strength and speed, etc. Due to the color of their blood and their abilities, silvers consider themselves superior to reds and treat them poorly.
Mare attempts to pick the pocket of someone who thrusts her into the nefarious and elite world of the silvers- an action that places Mare into a position of discovering the true nature of her being- a red blood with a rare ability. Something that is unheard of. While this is shocking to Mare, it places the royal silvers into a precarious position- forcing them to take drastic measures. Mare is sworn to secrecy about the color of her blood, is introduced to the silvers as a silver orphan raised among reds, and is promised to one of the silver princes- Maven. This new position forces Mare to learn more about herself, her abilities, and the silver world. She tries to navigate this new existence while caught in the middle of developing feelings for her intended-Maven, and his elder brother, heir to the throne- Cal. With the threat of a rebel faction of reds hanging over the silver reign, Mare finds herself ambivalent about her feelings for both blood types.
The world described in this novel is unique and breathtaking. From The Stilts to the silver Summer residence, and the royal palace, Red Queen paints a marvelous, imaginative picturesque world. The plot was filled with intrigue, danger, stolen moments of passion, and suspense. I did find Mare to be slightly naïve and was frustrated with her on occasion. Some of her choices in the novel left little to be desired, and I constantly found myself agitated about her inability to listen to her instincts, and her occasional lack of common sense. Her misplaced trust (when it’s so obvious to the reader she should be balking at the idea of teaming up with certain individuals) was almost cringe-worthy. Not so surprisingly- she ends up betrayed!
The mother of Maven (and stepmother to Cal) reminds me a lot of Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. She has a deep abiding love for her son, but secretly harbors resentment and hatred towards her husband and everything not bred from her womb. She is nefarious, calculated, and controlling- a total Cersei. I also wished there had been a little more passion and chemistry between Cal and Mare. I am all for compelling male protagonists- but Cal left a little to be desired. I hope that the author builds a bit more into his character in the next novel.
Overall, Red Queen was an exciting and shocking read that takes place in an imaginative and compelling world! I can’t wait to see the fall-out of the shocking ending of Red Queen in the next novel!
Four stars for Red Queen! Lifeblood
by Gena Showalter
Published by Harlequin on March 1st 2017
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
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"My Firstlife is over, but my Everlife is only now beginning."
With her last living breath, Tenley "Ten" Lockwood made her choice and picked her realm in the Everlife. Now, as the war between Troika and Myriad rages, she must face the consequences.
Because Ten possesses a rare supernatural ability to absorb and share light, the Powers That Be have the highest expectations for her future—and the enemy wants her neutralized. Fighting to save her Secondlife, she must learn about her realm from the ground up while launching her first mission: convincing a select group of humans to join her side before they die. No pressure, right?
But Ten's competition is Killian, the boy she can't forget—the one who gave up everything for her happiness. He has only one shot at redemption: beating Ten at a game she's never even played. As their throw-downs heat up, so do their undeniable feelings, and soon, Ten will have to make another choice. Love…or victory.
Lifeblood is the second book in the Everlife series by New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter. Tenly “Ten” Lockwood, a seventeen-year-old who has just pledged her allegiance to one of the realms must now learn how to navigate this new world. As Ten struggles with the separation from her love interest, Killian- an infamous Myriadian- and the loss of a dear friend and the betrayal of another, she tries to find ways to end the war between the two realms in the after-life, all while growing stronger with her powers. Unfortunately, Ten is given a short window of time to adjust to her new existence and is sent back to the land of the harvest to investigate contaminated humans that are being pressured to join the opposing realm. This insidious infliction upon those in their firstlife has the potential to cause serious harm in Troika- which some of the characters suspect may be the reasoning behind its existence.
Killian and Ten’s chemistry in Lifeblood is intense! Their scenes are fraught with burning chemistry, frustration, and desperation. While their attraction and depth of feelings for one another are prominent and mind-blowing, the politics between the realms makes it exceedingly difficult for both characters to progress in their relationship (which is SO frustrating!). Ten’s relationship with other characters also provided a lot of different opportunities. I enjoyed some of her heated skirmishes with new characters in her realm and loved watching her connection with General Nanne deepen- he was the father-like figure that Ten desperately needed.
Normally in a trilogy, I find the middle novel to be my least favorite (not exactly sure why this happens, but it does). However, Lifeblood was NOT a disappointment! I mentally devoured Lifeblood in a matter of days. My dreams alternated between the dreamy scenes between Ten and Killian, the anxiety-inducing action and intense scenes, and the heart-wrenching, soul-crushing scenes of despair. Yes. Lifeblood brought me to tears a few times…Ten’s devastation practically seeped from the pages and tormented my soul. It was that awful. But don’t let that deter you! If an author can incur those types of feelings within me, then you know the writing is good. Oh! And let’s not forget that delicious plot twist and betrayal! Ah! I literally chucked the book across the room in shock- and then promptly rushed over to finish the scene.
Lifeblood was a delicious surprise that made me ride the whole spectrum of feelings! Ten may be impulsive and sometimes reckless, but there is no doubting the depth of her loyalty and love. So, I’m definitely invested in her little (okay, major) adventure. I can’t wait to check out the latest in the series- Everlife!