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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Riding the Odds by Lynda K. Scott

riding the odds

Riding the Odds by Lynda K. Scott

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

4 ½ stars!

When Spaceship Captain Tara Rowan first meets writer Trace Monroe, she immediately feels a spark of attraction.  But she can tell he is hiding something, especially seeing as trust is not something Tara Rowan gives easily.  In a competitive business of hauling cargo through space, Tara has an advantage that few others have – she has a “rider” named Zie, an organic symbiote—like a living tattoo—that enhances Tara’s physical abilities and gives her flight benefits.  Not only that, but Zie is an illegal wild born rider, not a legal bred one.  Zie has protected Tara for years and helped her to get herself straight in the face of diversity after her parents were killed from the Risien Plague that killed many other as well.

In efforts to protect herself and Zie, she never has gotten into relationships or close to anyone, finding that simply having Zie is enough as her companion.  But Trace stirs something frightening and wonderful inside of both Zie and Tara – something she is willing to run the other way from…far, far away from him.  Only Trace isn’t willing to give up so easily – he’s looking for his missing sister, the Princess of Empyrea, Katerina (Trace was adopted by the King and Queen upon his father’s untimely death, also from the Plague) – and through his research, he’s learned that Tara is linked to Jackson Brown, a known pirate.  He will stop at nothing to join Tara on her ship and investigate what she knows and how he can get close to Jackson – even if it means lying to Tara.  Unfortunately for them both, the pilot has been lit, and going through several live or death situations together ignites a powerful flame.  But can they get past each other’s indiscretions and be together, or are their other forces that will tear them apart?

First off, I just loved Zie – her child-like look on situations is refreshing and seems to help guide Tara’s moral compass.  They are dependent on each other for everything – from food to protection, but you can feel the love they have for each other as well.  And Zie is a great judge of character – when she first meets Trace, he tells Tara he’s pretty…not that Tara disagrees.  Then there is Tara herself, whom is strong, smart, and very resourceful.  While she doesn’t easily trust, once she does she is so with wild ferocity – as she does with Jackson.  Trace is not only a beautiful specimen of a male, but he loves his adopted family – not because of their position in life, but because they always treated him as their own.  So when you add two strong personalities together, add some heat, and sparks are going to be flying – lighting everything in their path on fire!  I really enjoyed the story – it was a relatively quick read and did throw out some surprises and twists along the way.  Strong characters, strong relationships, and mostly-strong story = good sci-fi YA read with a little steam to wind down (or UP) any evening!

Blood Crown by Ali Cross

blood crown

Blood Crown by Ali Cross

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

4 stars!

Being the last remaining survivor of the royal family after a coup when she was 10 years old, lead by the androids that were meant to protect and serve them but instead set out to destroy them, the now 19 year old Serantha or Sera as she goes by since she went into hiding, has a hard life.  Now in an effort to protect her identity, she is a servant in the kitchen on the very ship that her parents used to reign as King and Queen of the West.  She was meant to be part of the hope of the human race, along with the son of the King and Queen of the East, Nicolai by her side – creating the perfect DNA and fulfilling the prophecy.  Instead, she is yelled at, forced to work in the hot kitchen, with hardly any food (not that an android army needs food!), and made to sleep in sub-par conditions – treated with no human decency.

Nicolai is dedicated to abdicating the thrown.  If he can’t reign with Serantha by his side as intended, he doesn’t want to do it at all.  He still remembers the little 10 year old version of her upon his last visit when they were committed to each other, shortly before her family was attached.  He, as well as the rest of the world, was left believing that Serantha also perished the day her parents did.  Therefore, he decides to join the rebellion to fight against the android army that has such a hold over the world – with plans to destroy the human race all together.  This is much to his father’s chagrin, who believes he should stay and take over the Kingdom of the East as he had always intended.

But when Nicolai happens upon the mostly dormant West Capital ship to attack the Minds (the androids) that have gathered there, he finds something much more shocking than just a Mind get together…he sees HER, she’s older, has shorter hair, and is dressed in rags, but he knows it’s her – she didn’t perish after all.  Instead of being honest with her, he simply acts like one of her subjects that have come to free her and the staff from their metal prison.   She has another secret though…she remembers Nicolai from when they were children, but he seems hell-bent on keeping the information from her.  He introduces himself as “Nic” and convinces himself she must remember him for him to make himself known.  With the help of  the people of the West, some “good” androids, and Nic, Serantha is in for a wild journey – but can she save the human race before it’s too late, before the android Minds take what they feel they deserve and kill everyone?

Starting out, the book was a little slow and confusing as it was told in multiple POV’s.  But as the story picked up and the readers were told more about the interactions that Nicolai and Serantha had has children and the prophecy they were to fulfill,  the story took on more shape and was a terrific love story, as well as a human interest story of sorts.  Serantha has everything taken from her, but she is still willing to fight for her people – for the people, even those that persecuted her along the way.  Nicolai just wants something worth fighting for, which is why he joins the rebellion against the Mind – he wants to make a difference as he feels his chance was taken away with Serantha’s supposed death.  What comes of their purposes coming together is great and shows that even in the face of adversity, we can still make a difference as long as our hearts are in the right place.

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!!

Hush (A Lakeview Novel, # 1) by Stacey R. Campbell

hush

Hush (A Lakeview Novel, # 1) by Stacey R. Campbell

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

4 stars!

This light and breezy read about 17 year old Blakely Henry who just may or may not be a long lost princess to the Tamuran throne was charming and witty.  It touched on all the right notes and gave the reader a little bit of everything – romance, betrayal, mystery, and laughter – all in all a great combination for the intended audience!   The characters are fairly well developed, but seeing as they are teenagers – they of course have some naivety about them that comes off as enduring.

Our heroine Blakely is extremely likeable and funny, just like any typical teen – and Max Ryder, the adorable Scottish gent that is investigating if Blakely is the missing heir to the Tamuran throne, is dependable, smart, and quick witted – even  if he’s completely predictable in his immediate attraction to Blakely.   A great CLEAN book that would be enjoyable for middle school aged kids to adults alike – who knows, maybe you’re really a long lost princess too!