Review: Seared by Suleikha Snyder

Seared by Suleikha Snyder. A Master Chefs romance

So, this is a romance I finished in January…. I know. I am the worst blogger ever and Beth keeps this place afloat. Feel free to roast me in the comments and on twitter. Now, we review!

Naya and Lachlan and step-siblings who have been kept apart by his domineering father. Lachlan is a famous chef. He’s won the awards, had a hot and trendy restaurant in New York, has the TV show and is known for his take-no-shit style of kitchen management. Naya and Lachlan want to be together, but can they be together now that his father is dead? The intrigue! The questions! The insanely steamy romantic interludes!

So, I picked this up because I had just read Tikka Chance on Me, which was so good and hot and cute and exactly what you’d want in a romance. I also really like Suleikha Snyder’s twitter and ig accounts, so I wanted to support an author and content creator I like. I was a little worried about this book because step-siblings in love/lust kind of creeps me out, but that’s just me, no judgement. And, this is heavy D/S, which…meh. But, this book was great. I wanted to know what happened next and I wasn’t mad about all the sexy bits. Not mad at all. They were great. (Which is a huge part of why you read romance on the more erotic end of the spectrum, right? I’m not alone in that, right?) Anyway, this was great and I will definitely read more things by this author.

Quick Review: The Tyrant's Tomb by Rick Riordan

I think what I like about this series is how Rick Riordan really explores how messed up some of these myths are. The things that the Gods do are just really unjustifiable and forces Apollo to face them as a human. For the last four books, Apollo has been living as Lester and all of his fragile human failings. For the first time, he has really mourned the death of a human for the first time. Jason’s death still shocks me because in these type of books, the heroes never die. They always find some way to live, particularly in Rick’s world where he has found some pretty creative loop holes to keep his demigods alive. Kudos for him for bucking his own trend. It’s still sad nonetheless. Jason’s death hangs over all of them, particularly those at Camp Jupiter. Frank, Hazel and Reina are already reeling from the previous battle and now they have to move on without Jason and his leadership. Apollo is grieving and has to face his own mortality. Two of the three Emperor’s are planning on attacking Camp Jupiter, with the last king of Rome. To survive he must come to grips of with some of the worst things he did as a God and the people he hurt along the way. It’s truly touching to see Apollo face his humanity and learn from his mistakes. He knows he can’t change what happened but he’s learning he can be a better person and be better God. There is one book left and I can’t wait to see what is in store for him and Meg. Not to mention, with them going back to New York, means that I’m sure we are going to get another Percy cameo. Yes!

Review: The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

What a way to end a series. Jude is not the same girl she was at the beginning and neither is Cardan. They both have grown up so much over the three books. I’m so proud of them. Jude is an exile after Cardan secretly marries her and then exiles her for killing his brother. She’s more then a little depressed because well she got out maneuvered by Cardan. She’s more then a little bit of a whiplash. One minute she’s getting married and the next she’s back in the human world, living with her sister and brother. How did this happen? How did she lose control so quickly. Things take a turn when Jude takes on a dangerous job for a fairy and learns Cardan’s reign is in trouble and then her twin sister, Taryn comes to pay a visit and drop some serious news. Jude must go back to Faerie and help her sister and in no time she’s back in the Game of Thrones. She’s kidnapped by her father, who’s making a play for the throne. She discovers his plan and does what she can to get back to Cardan. Cardan for his part is the same sarcastic king he was but he’s also matured into his role. We have known that he was in love with Jude and didn’t know how to deal with his feelings because 1. She’s human and 2. he never got much love as a kid himself. He knows that he was born under bad stars and people never expected much from him. He didn’t give them much in the last book by drinking for most of it but he’s been better. He plays a part in Jude’s rescue and really takes down his walls for her. This totally throws Jude off her game because its not the Cardan she knows and it’s almost too good to be true. When Madoc finally makes his pitch for why he should be king, Cardan does something so surprising for him that he little transforms the kingdom. Jude is tested like she’s never has been before. She has the power but it’s tenuous at best. To hold on to it will she follow the bloody past of her father? Will she make one more bad bargain? or she will use her one advantage over all of fairies and be human? I want say too much more because I don’t want to spoil it but it’s good. I will admit, I knew what Jude was going to do before Jude did but it wasn’t any less satisfying. I really love when Holly Black when she writes fairies because she no one understands them better. I also love how she seamlessly integrates her other fairy characters into the story without it being too obvious or forced. It’s clear that they all live in the same universe and opens up the story in so many ways. There is so many ways she can take it. This trilogy may be over but she definitely left it open for certain story lines to continue on in other stories and I’m here for it. I am so here for it.

Quick Review: Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater

At the end of the Raven Cycle, Blue and her Raven boys found what they were looking for. Gansey found he didn’t need a wish from a dead Welsh King. Blue is was not just an ordinary girl living among unordinary girls. Adam that he was more then just poor abused kid and Ronan that he could move on from his grief. Well, apparently there is more for Ronan and his brothers Declan and Matthew have more to work through. Call Down the Hawk starts the fall after the end of the Raven King. Gansey and Blue are off driving around the country during their gap year. Adam is off at Harvard and Ronan is home dreaming at the Barns. Ronan and Adam are still together but the distance is hard. Ronan thought he wanted nothing but to live at home but finds that he wants more than just dreaming. His older Brother Declan, wants to live a boring life where he goes on unnoticed. Matthew is just his happy self except for when he wonders for no reason. It turns out being a dreamer is more dangerous then one might think. It’s not just collectors like Colin Greenmantle that wants Ronan but a secret society of hunters that believe that dreamers like Ronan will bring the end of the world. The Brother’s Lynch soon meet Jordan Hennessy and her many dream selves and things start to unravel quickly. For fans of the Maggie Stiefvater and the Raven Cycle this is a must read. It has the same feel of mystical storytelling of it’s predecessor but moves at a much faster pace. The stakes are much higher as the body count is also higher. Ronan is still everyone’s favorite bastard. I love him. Adam is still wonderful and the best boyfriend. Declan is the real surprise. We really didn’t get to know him in the last series and what little we did was through the lense of Ronan, Gansey, Blue and Adam and well they are a little bias. Declan maybe the least magical person in the lynch family but he also the glue that keeps them together. He comes off cold and uncaring but really he cares almost too much about his brothers. I won’t say it’s better than the original series but it’s definitely close.

Quick Review: SuperNova by Marissa Meyer

So I mentioned in my Review for Rebel that what makes a good villain is one that you don’t necessarily disagree with. Nova has been playing the villain role. She’s been a double agent. Working along her enemies, the Renegades while undermining them working for the Anarchist. All because she believed that the system needed to change. The rules the Renegades have put into place were too ridged and anyone who didn’t want to conform to what they thought was right was thought of as a criminal. She and her fellow anarchist felt that all prodigies should have the freedom to live they want to live without fear of persecution. You can’t really fault her or them for that. Things get murkier, when the Renegades introduce Agent N. A biological weapon that take away prodigies powers. If any villain steps out of line, they would be neutralized. The problem with this is who decides who is truly a villain? What process will the go through to decide? When word comes down that patrols will be outfitted with Agent N and given permission to use as deemed necessary to protect themselves. Now we come to a situation where prodigies would be neutralized on site without any due process. The whole shot first and ask questions later routine. I’m sure many people can draw comparisons of this in our society. There is a lot of back and forth that goes on this book. Nova is discovered but Adrian and his team look for any reason to not to believe she is Nightmare, that they are so easily duped into releasing her. I mean, yes a lot of the evidence was circumstantial but also pretty obvious. Nova for her part, sees another way to get what she wants,thanks to her time with the Renegades but also time in prison. She soon discovers that past prejudices are hard to overcome and what you thought was true is not always the case. The epic battle comes down to Nova, Adrian, Oscar, Danna and others to put aside their differences and learn to trust each other so they can work with each other. I enjoyed the series as a whole but I do think they council needs to be disbanded and another form a government needs to put in place because as good as they are superheros, they are bad policy makers and considering that the door has been left open for more books, I hope that this will be explored more.

Review: Rebel by Marie Lu

**POSSIBLE SPOILERS** Fans of Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy knows that it ended on a bittersweet note. Our heroes June and Day save the Republic and live to tell the tale but don’t end up together. The illness that Day suffers gave him amnesia and he doesn’t he remember who June is. June for her part, promises that if Day pulls through she will let him live in peace. So Day takes his brother, Eden, to the technological advanced country of Antarctica to get away from the Republic and give his brother best education. June stays to help the new Elector reshape and rebuild the Republic. The Epilogue of Champion left readers with hope that one day June and Day will one day end up together and Rebel answers that questions. As well as to what happened with the Republic and Eden. Rebel picks up about a month after the Epilogue, which took place 10 years after the events of the Legend trilogy. Eden is a top student at Antarctica’s top university and is about to graduate with his Masters and will soon return to the Republic for a prestigious internship. Thanks to Day’s heroics, Eden and Day are afforded to live in the luxury and all the benefits that go with it. Day, who now goes by his real name of Daniel works for the AIS, Antarctic Intelligence Service. Daniel has been investigating the mob boss Dominic Hann in the Undercity. Ross City the capital city of Antarctica is split in to two parts, the Undercity and the Sky floors. Citizens are live in a kind of gamified society, in which every action they do are given points. The more points citizens earn the higher level they are the higher level they are the more opportunities they have. The levels determined where they can live, where they can work and even what food and medicine they access too. The system is supposed to inspire people to make the right decisions and work hard. The better and harder they work they more points they earn and the more opportunities they earn but in reality it hard for those with low levels to move up. If you are limited in what food you can buy and because of that left hungry. How are you going to have the energy to work harder? If you are sick but your level doesn’t allow you to see certain doctors or get the right medicine, how can you expect to get better? Eden and Day see the Undercity and it’s unfairness as reminders of how they lived in the Republic but react to it different. Eden is drawn to it, while Day tries to avoid it even though his job requires him to work down there. It’s no surprise that Eden gets caught up with Dominic Hann, the same man that Daniel has been investigating and that’s really where the story picks up. This also coincidentally is when June, the Elector and the Republic delegation visit Ross City. Daniel has slowly been recovering his memories of June since their chance meeting with her in the Epilogue. He remembers how much he was in love with her and even though the last decade he didn’t remember her he never took off the paper clip ring she gave him. So really deep down he never stop loving her but does she still love him? It’s been 10 years and they have both grown up and changed and had other relationships. Can they just pick up where they left off? Well, not really because chaos once again strikes and they are retreating back to the Republic.

While we still don’t know what happened that split the US into pieces and how or when people settled in Antarctica, we do know that change is slow and really there isn’t a perfect form of government. We learn from June that while the Republic has improved and is rebuilding but that costs money and you will always have those who will want to go back to what they are familiar with. Meanwhile, the gamified society of Ross City seems like a fair solution, that we are all rewarded and penalized for our actions because we don’t all start at the same point it makes it hard for people to move up. More importantly when you treat half of your population with contempt and just assume that they are lazy and that is why they stay at such low levels, well you’re going to have trouble. What makes a good villain is that you might agree with them. There is a reason after all why Eric Killmonger is the best Marvel Villain because he wasn’t wrong. He was absolutely right that Wakanda was wrong for their continuous isolationist policy. It’s how he went about it that was wrong. Nakia argued the same thing but proposed a different method of going about it and that is what T’Challa ultimately went with. Hann is also not wrong that the system that Antarctica wasn’t the fair system it was presented as but he’s solution wasn’t the way to go about it either. Eden, Daniel and June once again come to the rescue and save another nation from ruin. For us readers, it gives us the ending that we truly wanted for our characters and gave closure to a fantastic series. I’m glad that Marie Lu decided to write it because it was a fun read. For me it hit all the right notes of the original trilogy and gave a satisfied ending. There are still many questions left open as to how Antarctica and the Republic will move forward but you do have to hope that they both took lessons in what each nation has gone through and learn from it.

Quick Review: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Alex Stern is the only survivor of a brutal attack but that’s the beginning of our story. Out of the blue she gets an offer to join a secret society that monitors other secret society and a full ride to Yale. It’s an opportunity to start over and put her past as a teenage runaway, drug attic and victim behind her. Of course it won’t be easy. Alex has a unique ability that makes her valuable to Lethe, the society that monitors the most powerful Secret societies in the world, She can see ghosts or the dead. Lethe is charged to make sure that the rituals of the societies don’t go to far. When you play with magic anything can happen. Alex is mentored by Darlington. While Alex may not be suited for Yale Darlington was born to it. He grew up in Yale and is in love with New Haven. He’s one of those guys that is just too good for his own good. There are a couple of mysteries that are weaved together to make this such an interesting story. Darlington goes missing and no one knows where he went. Why did Alex survive when everyone else in the house died? How does the murder on Campus have to do with societies. All of these mysteries work together to complete a compelling story of magic, wealth, privilege and class social structure. Sexual abuse and assault also plays a part in the narrative and at times is described in graphic detail so be aware. Alex, herself a victim or sexual assault as well as other abuse. It’s heartbreaking but also unfortunately all too realistic in today’s society. So, yes read at your own risk but for mystery lovers, for ghost story lovers or those fascinating by magic this book is worth the read. .

Review: Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake

***POSSIBLE SPOILERS***

This was a satisfying series. Mirabella, Arsinoe, Katherine, Jules and Emilia have gone through a lot in the last four books and for the most part, I’m okay with how it ends The ruthlessness of how Kendare Blake wrote her story really brought up the tension. I think I always knew that some of the girls would not make it to the end. After all from the beginning two of the three sisters were supposed to do die to allow one sister to ascend to the crown. So it wasn’t a surprised that two of our queens did not make it to the end. At least one of them, I was really said about, almost as sad as the characters themselves and a little annoyed that another succeeded but that’s life I guess. Katherine and Arsinoe both had the biggest character growths of all the characters. Katherine went for a weak Queen who was nothing more then a puppet to the Arron’s who raised her. Thanks to the Dead Queens that saved her life and possessed her helped her grow into a fearsome Queen who was to be feared but also confident in her own decisions. There was some kind of peace in her as she understood her role in how it was all going to end. In a way, as the book progressed she was only one who knew it. Arisone, started out also weak and wanting nothing to do with being a Queen. Her original plan was just run away but she eventual learned you can’t escape your issues and excepted her role. She may never want to take a role of leadership but she is also no longer shying away from who she is and what she had to do to get there. Mirabella pretty much stayed the same and it was kind of her downfall. She always believed that her love for her sisters and their love for her would be enough to get them through. If they were going to defeat the mist and the Dead Queens, they needed to do it together. In a way she was right, just not as she imagined. Jules is still not my favorite character but she was better in this one. Maybe because the story focused more on Katherine, Arisone and Mirabella then her and because of the events of past books, she was a little more subdued. All in all, it was a very interesting and engrossing story. A feminist fantasy about a Matriarchy society filled with all the social and political intrigue of Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. The book is populated with strong women, who are complicated and nuanced. None of them are perfect and all do questionable things but most importantly that were allowed too be. They were the damsels in distress and the villainess. They were the heroes and the bad guys. Yes, there were romances but they were subplots and not central to the narratives. In the end the sisters prevailed because of their own skills and strengths and the skills of strengths on their friends. They controlled the story and their destiny. They saved themselves. We need more books and series like this.

Quick Review: Steel Tide by Natalie C. Parker

I really love this series. It just gets better. Caeldonia and her crew have been separated because Cala couldn’t help herself and tried to take on Lir at the end of Seafire. Fortunately for her she was saved by the Blades, a group of former bullets. They heal her and she convinces them to help her get her crew back, even though it would mean for them to go back to some old bullet homesteads and put them in danger. The great thing about this book is that we truly get to see why Cala is the captain and why people are so willing to follow her. She had strength in the Seafire but we had met her after she had assembled her crew. In Steel Tide, we get a glimpse of her she was able to assemble her crew in the first place and earn such loyalty from them. Cala is a little rough behind the edges but she is so smart and brave that it’s hard to believe she can do everything. She has the ability to see every aspect of the situation and come up with the plan and execute no matter how impossible it may seem. Her belief that she is right and able to make the impossible possible make people follow her. Cala confidence also grows, she is still unsure why she is the leader and doubts her own skills but she knows something has to be done and is willing to do it. She has given people hope so the next book is going to be epic. I can’t wait to read it.

Reviews of The Crown of Embers and Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

I really enjoyed this series. Elisa has to be considered among the best YA heroines. She is smart, caring and strong. She never stops fighting for her people and love ones and is able to make the impossible possible. The Crown of Embers begins with Elisa as Queen but because she is a teenage girl and an outsider, the first thing that she is asked to do is find a husband. The people will be more willing to except her rule if she has a husband by her side to guide her. Never mind that she just single handily saved the whole country on her own. All women need a husband. If that wasn’t enough, the Inveirno threat isn’t over. Elisa has threats coming at her from the outside and the inside so what does she do. She looks for the source of her Godstone to make her more powerful and will go through many perils to do so. Bitter Kingdom finds her facing a civil war as well having to rescue her Guard and love Hector from the Invierno. It may at first seem a little selfish to go off the grid to go rescue Hector but Elisa knows that having him at her side is a strength not to mention it gives her a opportunity to learn more about her enemy. She is nothing but practical.

What I like about Elisa is that she is not loyal to her friends but she is incredibly smart. She is able to size up a situation and come up with a solution in moments. This is truly her special power and she becomes to learn this. The Godstone gave her an advantage but it’s her ability to understand her enemies and how she can take advantage. She is able to talk her way out of a fight with her Inviernos and takes back her Palace without having to start a war. Her ability to inspire loyalty and friendship from those around her is also a power. She is a good person and people see that and want to follow her and help her. She couldn’t accomplish everything with out Hector, Mara, Belen, Ximena and the many others. I think this is way she is such a strong heroine. Yes, she has a special power that helped her out but all the power in the world wouldn’t help if she didn’t have the intelligence and friendships to plan and execute. So read those books ladies and be kind to your friends. I’m selling this trilogy short. It was a thrilling ride and I’m happy that we are getting another book in the world next year. There is so much more to explore and Elisa and her kingdom have more work to do .