Book review: Nemesis by Anna Banks

Book review: Nemesis by Anna Banks

nemesis

**I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review**

4 ½ stars

Being an undercover princess on the run from your family can be difficult – but being all those things PLUS being beautiful and having a major secret practically makes you a target for bad things happening.  Sepora is the last known Forger – her body creates and expels spectorium, a priceless liquid that can be made into materials for building, used in creating power, as well as a number of other things that make life run more smoothly.  But she’s tired of Forging for her father, the King of Serubel, who keeps her locked away from everyone so they don’t know she is the source of the precious substance.  And when she threatens to stop Forging for him, he locks her away in the dungeon – but her mother takes pity on her and assists her in escaping, while faking her death.  She doesn’t care where she’s able to run to, as long as it away from her power hungry father.  So she runs…

Being a prince not ready for his time to rule, but forced to be prepared upon his father’s untimely death from a mystery disease that kills with utter swiftness and is making its way through the kingdom of Theoria – hitting both old and young, male and female alike.  For Tarik, the now King of Theoria, his main concern is finding a cure for what is now called the Quiet Plague, and when Sepora ends up captured, sold into his harem, and demands to speak with him – from the moment he meets her realizes she is special in some way.  While he doesn’t realize her to be the presumed dead Princess of Serbel, he also knows that there is something about her – from the way she speaks to him, to the way she treats others.  That is partly due to the fact that Tarik is a Lingot, meaning her can distinguish a truth from a lie, and while Sepora learns how to speak with the intent of truth-telling, Tarik knows that while she is very special, she’s had a hard yet pampered path.  Throughout their trials together, the two begin to feel things for each other – but the fact that Tarik must marry a royal, but will love her is not something Sepora is willing to live with.  And while it’s found out that spectorium is at least a temporary fix for those with the Quiet Plague, never fully trusting Tarik and his intent leads Sepora on an emotional journey – one that could end up leading her right back into danger.  But it’s not a clear matter of right or wrong for Sepora, but rather of what is right for HER – meaning she makes a promise that no one will use her for her Forging powers, unless she deems them worth of such a gift (as she’s been used for it by her father for so long who does not use it for good most of the time).

While I’m not usually into more “historical” pieces (the whole story had a pharaoh mixed with the Middle Ages type feel), I loved everything about who Sepora was and the courage she had to find and make a new life for herself.  She was tough, intelligent, but still full of grace and clever words – enough so to make her way from runaway young lady, to captive, to the King’s harem, to the King’s Advisor’s attendant.  And Tarik, while smart, strong, and handsome, he still knows nothing when it comes to matters of the heart – but he wants to do right by his kingdom and its people, even if that means marrying a women he does not love – when the one he eventually does is in front of his face.  I thought the story was brilliantly written in a split POV between Sepora and Tarik, and their perspectives were important to the entire book.  I know Ms. Banks must have some amazing words up her sleeve to try to outdo the first part of Sepora and Tarik’s story, but I will try to keep my hopes low so she can blow me away once again!

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Gifted Thief by Helen Harper

gifted thief

Gifted Thief by Helen Harper

**I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review**

5 stars

Born in Faerie as the girl with no name, she is an enigma and an orphan; made to feel like she was little more than servant, when in reality she’s the illegitimate child of a powerful fae leader who died when she was a child.  Left to be raised by fae who despise her very being, when she decides that she’s finally had enough and she runs away, the first person she runs into is Andy “Taylor” – a professional thief by trade.  When asked her name, she thinks of the one thing she wants to have – despite being a fae – and names herself Integrity.  Fast forward 16 years, and Integrity is part of Taylor’s crew – stealing from those more fortunate, quite often the Fae, for their own survival.  Along with three others in Taylor’s crew – all Clan-less Fae – they have run a successful theft ring, until one day when the item they are in search of isn’t where it’s supposed to be.  Of course that doesn’t stop Integrity from taking a “pretty looking” letter opener from one of the desks within the building they break into.  She thinks nothing of it – it’s just a pretty memento from her final job with her beloved team.  But when they arrive back at Taylor’s and inform him the item they were there to steel – a gem called the Lia Saifir – was missing, Taylor confesses that he needed the money from his share of the sale of the gem to pay off a bookie.  But not just any bookie – his debt was sold to a mysterious financier.  With Taylor’s existence hanging in the balance, it’s a bad time to tell him about the letter opener that turns out to be an enchanted “dagger” with a genie named Bob residing inside – one that Integrity can’t get rid of, even though she tries, until she makes her three wishes (which she vows to never do as she knows the repercussions of genie wishes).

While Integrity wants out of the business, her love and devotion to Taylor and the team drives her to settle his debt – once again – as her constant repayment for the life he helped her have since leaving Faerie.  But it proves a bit more difficult than she’d dealt with in the past – seeing as the creditor turns out to be a Fae from Integrity’s past – the son of one of the power families in Faerie, Byron Moncrieff.  All he wants is for Integrity to come back to Faerie with him to complete a ritual to repair the magic in Faerie.  Along with her trusty “letter opener” genie Bob at her side, she reluctantly agrees and heads back to the place she tried so hard to escape and forget.   But Byron isn’t the indignant prick of a Fae that she remembers from her youth…he’s an attractive, successful, and surprisingly kind gentleman that wants to help her along her path back during her brief time in Faerie.  So when someone wants her dead – and will use any means necessary to complete the task, Integrity turns once again to her team, and reluctantly Byron and his clan to figure out who it is that wants her out of the way and why.  But sometimes, as Integrity finds out, it might be better to not know – lives will be lost and futures forever changed by the Gifted Thief name Integrity.

I simply loved this story!  I thought Integrity was funny, witty, and had amazing self preservation skills – that are a must when dealing with the snooty Fae.  Her relationships are a source of strength for her – she knows that even though her bio-Fae family may have discarded her, but they never would – and she is better for it.  With the arrival of Byron and is betrayal and eventual protection of her, I loved the interaction between the two.  Kissing one minute, bickering the next – all the makings of a great relationship, if only they could see past each other and their pasts to make their futures worth it.  I was a bit let down with the seemingly sudden ending, but I cannot WAIT to see what else is in store for Integrity – Faerie is definitely not done with her yet, and her past is still so up in the air.  So in Integrity style “What’d the beaver say to the tree?”… “It’s been nice gnawing you!”So corny and endearing, how could you not fall completely for this series???

Angels of Moirai (Book One) Nicole Salmond

Angels of Moirai (Book One) by Nicole Salmond

angels of moirai

**I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review**

3 ½ stars

 Life for 18 year old Lila Kingston has been far from happy…while her family may have a lot of money, it certainly hasn’t bought happiness for her or her little sister Hayley.  Raised by maids and nannies, the sisters have always know they may not have their parents around very often, they would always have each other.  At the prestigious top school of Eden College, Lila is constantly harassed by the “popular kids”, but she is satisfied with just getting through high school and go to a local college to stay near her sister while she finishes school.  However, when Lila’s success-driven parents insist that she fit into the mold they want her in, she rebels and pushes her parents even further away.  And when Lila begins having weird yet wonderfully haunting dreams of a beautiful angel whom she is vaguely able to communicate with, she begins thinking she is crazy – that is until he walks into her class, as real as the nose on her face.

With the strange and sudden appearance of James – the angel/ boy from Lila’s dreams – she is unexpectedly drawn to him.  And bizarre things start happening to Lila now that James has mysteriously emerged from her dreams to her real life – like seeing beautiful lights that no one else can see, sudden bouts of lightening out of the blue, and finding out that not only are angels real, but so are demons.  And when James reveals himself to Lila and they begin developing feelings for each other, the two must keep their love a secret – or face the consequences that knowing the future can hold.  While James and Lila’s world continues to be flipped upside down, the demons are clandestinely showing up to destroy them and everything they care for…their forbidden love included.

Let me start by saying that sci-fi and ya are two of my favorite combinations.  Add in a good forbidden love for good measure, and it’s should add up to the right number.  Unfortunately, this story – while enjoyable – fell flat in some areas for me.  The dialog and conversations were a little stale and at times difficult to follow.  I adored the story of James and Lila, but never felt like there was a “why” with regards to their connection or even why James came into Lila’s life.  I loved the cliffhanger ending – while they infuriate me, they also tend to peak my interest into the next book in the series.

Darken The Stars The Kricket Series (Book 3) by Amy A. Bartol

darken the stars

Darken The Stars The Kricket Series (Book 3) by Amy A. Bartol

**I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review**

4 ½ stars!

Now that Kyon Ensin of the Alameeda Brotherhood has finally gotten his ultimate prize and desire – the Priestesses Kricket Hollowell – he’ll stop at nothing to protect her and make her his in every sense of the word. But Kricket’s heart is still with Trey Allairis, the Rafe soldier that saved her from Earth and from the other Alameedans that would use her for her gift of prophecy. Kyon has taken Kricket to his own private island to get to know her better so when they are “joined” or married, she will be willing to submit to his will completely. At first, Kricket is bound and determined that Kyon is the jerk she first met on Earth – and that all he wants to do is control her every move. But as they get to know each other better, they form an alliance of sorts with the common enemy being none other than Kyon’s own father, Excelsior Ensin – the Chancellor of the Alameeda Brotherhood.

As their bond grows, Kricket begins to realize that Kyon may be the only one that is able to truly able to keep her safe from the Chancellor’s evil grasp. Also, through her out of body prophecy experiences, Kricket learns that her father, Pan Hollowell whom she thought had been dead since she was a little girl, is actually alive and well and leading a rebellion against the Alameedans – and he let anything or anyone, not even his own daughter, get in his way. And as Kricket slowly drifts her affections toward Kyon and away from Trey, she cements her decision to fight in the war alongside Kyon, for the good of herself and her stone heart. But when the war shows up on Kyon’s doorstep, Kricket must make a choice – Trey or Kyon, Ethar or Earth…when it comes to the war inside Kricket, there is never any easy choice, except to always protect herself.

Oh how I had mixed feelings about this book…I wanted to hate Kricket for betraying Trey like she does, but then Kyon starts really showing Kricket how he feels – not just for her ability but genuinely about HER. But when all is said and done throughout each book, the underlying fact is that Kricket is a fighter and a survivor – she overcomes every obstacle and roadblock that stands in her way, whether it’s an entire fleet of warriors or an overzealous dictator. These stories are about a strong young lady that overcomes in the face of diversity and hardship – and while I truly hope this is not the end of the series (I think I would still be really sad with this ending for Kricket!), I can say that Ms. Bartol has given us readers a strong and resilient character and story that will at times warm your heart or have you on the verge of tears at others. Here’s to hoping Kricket still has some stories left to tell!

Sea of Stars (The Kricket Series Book 2) by Amy A. Bartol

Sea of Stars (The Kricket Series Book 2) by Amy A. Bartol

sea of stars

**I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review**

5 HUGE stars!

OMG – Ms. Bartol did it again!  Kricket is back again, coming into her own in Ethar as a priestess of Alameeda.  But she is trying to stay as far away from the Alameeda House as possible.  She has chosen a life in Rafe with her beloved Cavar Trey Allairis, safe in his arms and in the Skye of Rafe floating fortress.  Unfortunately, the Alameeda Brotherhood and Kyon aren’t going to give up so easily…they want Kricket and the Alameeda blood that runs through her veins to be theirs – never mind the fact that she also is half Rafeian and in love with Trey.  For the Ethar, love is earned AFTER they are wed, not before – but seeing as Kricket was raised on earth (not to mention already being in love with Trey), it’s not as easy as simply submitting to authority.

With Kyon hot on their heels, Trey and the Cavar will do anything they need to do to keep Kricket safe and out of the Alameeda’s hands.  But with another foe on the horizon in the form of Giffen, a half Almeeda, half Wurthem who has his own agenda for Kricket’s future.  Around every turn Kricket is met with obstacles, but being alone for so long with her stone heart, she knows what she wants – and Trey is it, in life or death, they want to be together.

I just loved the progression of Trey and Kricket’s relationship throughout the book.  He is such a tough guy, but how he is so tender and caring for her is such a refreshing change to some of the “heros” in books these days.  Their love is epic and gentle – even though they haven’t know each other for very long, his understanding of the scars that Kricket harbors is astounding.  I was excited to read this book, but I will say that I am seriously chomping at the bit to read the final chapter in Kricket’s story – and the cliffhanger ending will leave you completely breathless and begging for more.  Bravo Ms. Bartol…Bravo!

The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M.J. Rose

witch of painted sorrows

The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M.J. Rose

**I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review**

4 ½ stars!

In this haunting and beautiful story about an oppressed house wife, Sandrine (Asch) Verlaine, begins with Sandrine running to her Grandmother in Paris, France in the year 1894.  Her father has recently died, and left her with a ruthless, uncaring husband who sees her more as his property than his wife.  When she leaves, she does so without her husband really knowing who or where she ran to, as she wants to flee as far from him and his secrets as possible.  But she unknowingly runs straight into some family secrets of her own.

Her Grand-mere, Eva Verlaine, is a courtesan who has served the gentleman of Paris of some time.  Upon her arrival, her Grandmother insists it unsafe for her to be there, but Sandrine seeks the safety that family brings and cannot be dissuaded to return home.  During her time in Paris, Sandrine is heartbroken to know that her Grandmother has moved from her home – Maison de la Lune – to do some renovations.  She has hired a gifted architect named Julien Duplessi to complete the repairs, and without her knowledge, Sandrine and Julien strike up a friendship that consists of discussing art and going to museums together.  But when Sandrine finds a mysterious ruby necklace, their relationship takes a turns and becomes something much more – an experience so seductive and sensual, Sandrine wants more…but so does La Lune, the sixteen century witch that has possessed Sandrine through the ruby necklace.  Sandrine even goes as far as to disguise herself as a man to get into a famous art school so she can perfect the gifts that her and La Lune share.  But what happens could be catastrophic for the unknowing Sandrine – once she surpasses a certain point with La Lune, will there be any chance for her to go back?

This story was so descriptive and rich that I almost felt like I could see some of the paintings, or the way Julien looks at Sandrine.  It was so sensual – the artwork, the relationship, and the story.  The way Sandrine’s experiences were described made me feel like all I had to do was close my eyes and I could be transported into her world – where the lines between right and wrong as easily skewed, and between love and lust were blended into a beautiful and dangerous master piece that became the life that Sandrine never knew possible.

A Darker Past (The Darker Agency Book 2) by Jus Accardo

  A Darker Past (The Darker Agency Book 2) by Jus Accardo **I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review** 3 stars! Teenage Jessie Darker doesn’t have the typical high school … Continue reading

Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

princess of thorns

Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

**I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review**

4 stars!

Happily-ever-after…that’s how all fairytales end, but what happens after?  What happens  Prince Charming isn’t as wonderful as he appears in to the audience…how he puts his wife and children up in the forest away from the castle to hid them away from his first wife, who just so happens to be of the Ogre race that wants to take over the human race?

For Rose (Sleeping Beauty), this is her life – her and her two children Aurora and Jor.  They have been imprisoned in the dungeon by the crowned ogre queen, Ekeeta, who is determined to see the ogre prophecy come to pass – which requires a briar-born child such as Aurora or Jor to fulfill.    To keep her children safe, Rose kills herself and transfers the fairy-gifts that were granted to her upon her birth by the fae to the then 7 year old Aurora.  Then Aurora and her little brother Jor escape the dungeon through a trash chute and live with separate fairy families.

10 years later, Aurora is 17 and ready to end the ogre rule once and for all – to put an end to the horrible prophecy that has been looming over her the last 10 years.  She has left the fairy family and second mother, healer Janin and her son Thyne and gone in search of her brother who was taken prisoner by Ekeeta.  She disguises herself as a boy and is taken by the Boughtwards – only to be rescued by the 11th son of the immortal King Eldorio of Kanvasola, Niklaas.  He is seeking Aurora out to break his own curse of becoming a swan on his 18th birthday.  Together,  they go in search of an army to take on Ekeeta and her ogre brethren.  But with her spies and animals that have eyes everywhere and are always looking out for them, will Aurora in her boy disguise as Ror, and Niklaas make it back in time to save her brother’s life, her thrown, Niklaas’s life, and the lives of her entire kingdom?

I really wasn’t super impressed with this book during the first few chapters…it was slow and confusing, as I didn’t understand why it was telling us about a king who wanted to stay king forever, and therefore cursed his sons.  But once the action started, it didn’t stop – that and the beginning two stories finally feel into place and made perfect sense.  I was a chapter away from saying DNF, but I’m soooooo glad I didn’t stop!  Aurora and Niklaas’s relationship (while more of a brotherly one on Niklass’s side for most of the story) was a great progression of friendship to eventually more romantic.  I LOVED the spin on the fairy-tale of Sleeping Beauty and where things went after the Happily-Ever-After – and the fact that it dipped more into the real world where we sometimes have to actually WORK for it.  Good read – just remember DON’T stop reading after just the first few chapters as it really gets going well into the book.  You won’t regret it!!

Under Different Stars (The Kricket Series Book 1) by Amy A. Bartol

under different stars

Under Different Stars (The Kricket Series Book 1) by Amy A. Bartol

**I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review**

5 HUGE stars!

17 year old Kricket Hallowell is hiding…see, she is supposed to be in the foster system in Chicago, but she’s been wronged one too many times and is determined to make it on her own for the next couple months, flying under the radar of DSS until her 18th birthday.  Working odd jobs and getting paid under the table and living with a friend that was also in the foster system at one time, she can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Until the fateful day that Trey Allairis and his comrades seek her out on her way back home one day on the El train.  The encounter leaves the trio with pepper sprayed eyes and Kricket with a fear that she’s never felt before – even though her “instincts” as she thinks of it tells her they were telling her the truth that they wanted to “take her home”.  Since her parents died and she went from one foster family to another, she’s never truly felt like she’s had a place to call home.

But her fear only grows when she is approached by another group of men that also insist they want to take her home…but these three also try to tell her she’ll be safe with them, which she knows is not true.  When a fight ensues for her safety, the first trio reappears and takes her against her will – she doesn’t know where, but she at least has a sense that they mean her no physical harm.  They go on a journey through a dark cavern, through a deep pool in the cavern, and they pop out in a literally different world – Ethar, under different stars that their kind can thrive under.  Kricket isn’t a normal human; she is Etharian – and a one of kind at that.  She is the daughter of two combating clans – Alameeda and Rafe – and not just any Alameedaian, a priestess.  Trey, along with his soldiers Jax and Wayra, continue on their journey of bring Kricket back to their clan of Rafe – but they are trying to stay ahead of Kyon who is of the Alameeda clan who would like nothing more than to see Kricket back with his clan.

On their journey through the Forest of Omnicron, Kricket becomes more and more attached to the trio of Cavar (the Ethar version of the military), as well as her acceptance of her new life as an Etharian.  Her relationship with Jax and Wayra is that of a brotherly one, but it’s clear that her and Trey could see each other in another light all together…except it wouldn’t be an acceptable match for either family.  But the heat between them is VERY evident – even if Trey tries to deny it!  But can Kricket save not only her growing feeling for Trey, but her life and those of the of the people in world who she never knew existed, but finally feel like home?  Not if the Alameeda clan has anything to say about it…

I LOVED this story!  It was witty, inventive, and tremendously written.  Kricket is resourceful, feisty, and tough as nails – she can take care of herself, and she has proven that living through the foster system.  And Trey is strong, smart, and HOLY HOTNESS…just in his confidence along makes me weak in the knees!  Kricket doesn’t stand a chance against falling for him, or against her powers of her people, those of her mother’s people.  I can’t wait to see what else is in store for her, Trey, and the rest of the Rafe clan – there is no doubt that she will decimate those in her way, and be able to stand strong for what she believes.

Catch Me When I Fall by Vicki Leigh

catch me when i fall

Catch Me When I Fall (Dreamcatcher book 1) by Vicki Leigh

**I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review**

4 stars!

What if the things that go bump in the night were real…with fangs and claws, just waiting to bring out your insecurities and fears night after night, with just a simple touch?  For Dreamcatcher Daniel, these nasties – Nightmares – are real, and his job for over two-hundred years has been to kill them and keep his charges safe from their  they try to inflict on their slumbering victims.  He’s one of the best in his field – imbecile record at keeping people’s dreams peaceful and happy, with the help of the Dreamweavers who literally watch over and weave out all the happy dreams.  But when he is assigned a difficult case – a young lady in a mental ward, 16 year old Kayla Bartlett, who claims she light her mother’s boyfriend on fire upon him attacking her, just by thinking about it, he just knows he may have met his match.

While Watching her, she has an abnormally high number of Nightmares that try to attack her, which then go after the Dreamweaver, Tabbi, stabbing her with Daniel’s knife by one of the Nightmares.  He gets Tabbi to safety, and gets back to Kayla (as a Dreamcatcher, he has the ability to evaporate anywhere he wants to instantly, just by imagining the place) where he manages to kill the remaining Nightmare who is attacking her.  From that night on, Daniel and Kayla inch toward a slippery slope, as a Dreamcatcher’s number one rule is to not tell humans about their kind.  But Daniel feels a strange pull toward her, and one night upon an attack, Daniel goes from invisible to corporeal to comfort her, it cements their involvement.  And as the attacks on Kayla intensify, as does her attachment to Daniel – so when they notice a wrath coming for them one evening out in Paris (on yes, who doesn’t go on their first date to Paris??), they come to the conclusion that a dark warlock has once again come back to attack using the Nightmares as his catalysts.  All hell is about to break loss…but will the budding romance that Daniel and Kayla have last through the impending war?

I really enjoyed Kayla’s character – she is strong, even in the face of the horrors that she faced and put her in the situation she is in when she meets Daniel.  She is true to herself and her “friends”.  I loved to see the way her and Daniel’s relationship progressed, it was sweet and true (when they weren’t in the throes of danger), even if there is a slight age difference J  Overall a good story – but a word to the wise, don’t read this to lull yourself to sleep…sleep will definitely elude you, but the good news is you can finish the book sooner!