To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

To Kill a Kingdom

Author: Alexandra Christo
Reviewer: Marlou

Summary

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 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?

Find this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

“Every princess needs her prince.”

I FINISHED THIS BOOK IN A DAY! OOPS!

It was really cute and very easy to read. Not totally my kind of story because there wasn’t much happening, but still a good book. I thought the book was slow paced and then the ending was rushed. There wasn’t that much happening and then suddenly everything happened at once. Not my kind of story. I did like Christo’s writing style, I went through the book pretty fast so that was great!

Lira and Elian’s banter was super cute and the banter between Elian and his crew members are total friendship goals.

This book was a total cliche though. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it did make the book predictable. I know it’s based on The Little Mermaid so you already knew that Elian and Lira were going to end up together but Christo added a lot of typical tropes in there and that just wasn’t it for me.

Did this book blow my mind? No. Was it incredibly enjoyable? Absolutely.

Spark by Sarah Beth Durst

Spark

Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Reviewer: Renee

Summary

When a shy girl and her dragon-like companion discover their country’s idyllic weather comes at a steep—and secret—cost, they recruit fellow students to defy authority and attempt to spread the truth.

Storm beasts and their guardians create perfect weather every day, and Mina longs for a storm beast of her own. But when the gentle girl bonds with a lightning beast—a creature of fire and chaos—everyone’s certain it’s a mistake. Everyone but Mina and the beast himself, Pixit. Quickly enrolled in lightning school, Mina struggles to master a guardian’s skills, and she discovers that her country’s weather comes at a devastating cost—a cost powerful people wish to hide. Mina’s never been the type to speak out, but someone has to tell the truth, and, with Pixit’s help, she resolves to find a way to be heard.

View this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This book is a great example of how you don’t have to be the loudest person to be heard or acknowledged. It also has dragons that control the weather.

When Mina hatches a lightning dragon, her family immediately thinks something is wrong. Those who bond with lightning dragons are loud and unruly, the complete opposite of Mina. Mina tries to tell them she loves her dragon, Pixit. They don’t listen and try to get her another dragon despite Mina trying to make them listen. They feel they know what’s best for her. Mina ends up going to lightning dragon school with Pixit, where she sees how loud the other lightning dragon guardians can be. Maybe her parents were right after all.

Mina has trouble using lightning and she thinks it’s because she’s not like the other guardians. Pixit keeps telling her she can do it, but she has to do it her way because she’s not like the other guardians. Mina has her doubts. When she starts playing lightning ball with the other students, she gets creative in guarding the goal since she can’t use lightning. Some of the students realize Mina doesn’t do things the way everybody else (which is the way things have always been done) and they see the advantage her creative solutions.

During her first thunderstorm, Mina is thrown across the mountains and meets the people who live on the other side. This is forbidden. The world beyond the mountains is cruel. They are supposed to stay within the mountains, where it’s safe and the weather is always perfect.

She learns that the perfect weather created and maintained by the storm beasts and guardians comes at a great cost to those who live outside. She figures out the 10 year celebration is the cause of so much destruction to the outside world. When she gets back, Mina feels like she needs to inform everybody, but nobody listens to her. Her friends listen to her and they come up with a plan to spread the word that the 10 year celebration needs to be canceled or innocent people will die past the mountains. They don’t do it by shouting and demanding to be heard. They follow Mina’s lead. As more students believe and question the need for the 10 year celebration, it’s decided the lightning school will be shut down. Nobody and nothing in or out until the celebration is over. And they moved up the celebration. However, the people outside don’t know the celebration is moved up and are in danger. Mina needs to lead the others if she’s to stop the celebration and save the outside world.

Some scenes are repetitive and keep reminding Mina (and the reader) that Mina is quiet and nobody listens, but overall it’s a great story that demonstrates how you don’t need to be the loudest person to make a difference. There are different ways to be heard.

Loved By P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Loved by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Author: P.C. Cast, Kristin Cast
Series: House of Night Other World #1
Reviewer: Marlou

Content warnings

Swearing

Summary

It’s Zoey’s eighteenth birthmas and the Nerd Herd has been scattered across the country busily adulting for almost a year when Stark calls them back to Tulsa to surprise Z. But all is not well in T-town. Strange, dark signs are appearing—could it be possible Neferet is stirring? Not willing to chance disaster striking again, Zoey calls on her newly reunited friends to circle with her and add a layer of protection over Neferet’s grotto jail. Easy-peasy, right?

Wrong. Nothing at the House of Night is ever as it seems.

With rabid red vampyres closing in, Zoey and the Nerd Herd must come together again and battle evil. But a year is a long time. Have these old friends grown too far apart?

When the world fractures and allies become enemies, will darkness devour friendships or will light save those she’s loved?

Find this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I wanted to love this book so badly, but I just can’t. House of Night was (with Twilight) the first fantasy series I’d ever read and these books got me into reading fantasy and I still (8 years later) barely read anything else. Loved was definitely nostalgic because of that, but it really wasn’t good. Cast tries too hard to make them sound like teenagers but it’s very obvious it’s written by an adult who views teenagers as little children that can’t form proper sentences, or something like that. 

Yes, I do love the characters, I love the HoN world. BUT everything is so poorly written that I can’t stand it. 

The storyline is interesting enough. There’s some kind of parallel world that comes into ours and shit goes wrong. And guess what, it takes half a book to get to the ‘and now shit goes wrong’ without building any tension. Then shit goes wrong and everyone freaks out. The goddess Nyx swoops in gives someone a new ability to save humanity and everything is resolved. At least the saved people have major PTSD, so not everything was solved so quickly.

Gosh, I’m so annoyed by this book. I won’t be reading the other books, that’s for sure… Loved gets a two star review from me and that’s already pretty damn high.

Books in this series

Lover (#1), Lost (#2), Forgotten (#3)

Keeping His Siren by Kiersten Fay

Keeping His Siren

Author: Kiersten Fay
Series: Creatures of Darkness, #4
Reviewer: Marlou

Summary

Naia DeVoe never mixes business with pleasure, but when she winds up in bed with the vampire she’s been hired to spy on, that rule gets tossed out his luxury suite window. But Cortez is not a man to be trifled with; he’s rich, powerful and the hottest club owner in town. From their first combustible night together, it’s obvious Naia is in way over her head…

As the leader of his clan, Cortez must be careful who to trust. No one gets too close to him…no one, that is, until Naia. He can’t help but be drawn to the beautiful seductress who all but demands his attention. Is she the one he’s been searching for, or just another woman destined to betray him?

Find this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This book was provided to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Oh my what a lovely book! I’ve been getting into paranormal romance over the last year and I’m not regretting my decision to pick up that first book.

Keeping His Siren has a good, strong storyline which leaves you wanting more. I tried to savor this book, but I just flew through it (time flies when you’re having fun).

All the characters have a proper and well thought-out personality. Only the MC was given a tight backstory, but that is fine considering we, the reader, read from her perspective and she doesn’t know every single detail about people either.

This book is full of smut (duh) but where other mature fanfiction-things are a little over the top Kiersten did a wonderful job at showing just how magical (and primal) sex can be. She wrote every mature scene in a very tasteful way. What I also love is the fact that the author didn’t overdo it. Yes, there was a lot of sex, but there weren’t too many scenes overall. Again, the amount of descriptive scenes was tasteful.

This book is great for fans of J.R. Ward and Larissa Ione. I will definitely check out some of Kiersten Fay’s other books.

Books in this series

A Wicked Hunger (#1), A Wicked Night (#2), A Wicked Desire (#3), Keeping His Siren (#4), Vampire Masquerade (#5)

Romanov by Nadine Brandes

Romanov

Author: Nadine Brandes
Reviewer: Marlou

Summary

The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them… and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of survival are to either release the spell, and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya’s never dabbled in magic before, but it doesn’t frighten her as much as her growing attraction for Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her. . .

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.

View this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

This book was provided to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

“No amount of age, pride, or maturity could stop me from loving my papa with the heart of a little girl.”

I hate to say this, but I did not like this book… This book sounded so interesting and I have heard great things about the author, but this was not the book for me. It could be that I’m just not one for historical fiction as I see that others absolutely love this book. I promised an honest review so here it is.

So we already know the Romanov family is going to die, it wouldn’t be historically correct if they all lived through this story, but their deaths didn’t impact me at all. By the time they died, I was already bored out of my mind and was only finishing this book because people had been raving about it.

This book is way too slow for my taste. The buildup to their deaths takes so freaking long. And when we get to the fiction part of this historical fiction book, I can’t say I was impressed with any of it. The magic wasn’t magnificent, it was rather dull, and then at the end suddenly the impossible is possible and ugh no just no.

I guess I can see the appeal of this book. The book is focused on the Romanov family (duh), but mostly on the family dynamics. All the characters are rather flat and uninteresting, but the family as a whole makes things interesting.

I gave this book 2 stars because it’s still well-written and I can see that the author did her research, but I really did not enjoy this book and I say that with a heavy heart.

Aladdin: Far from Agrabah by Aisha Saeed

Aladdin: Far from Agrabah

Author: Aisha Saeed
Reviewer: Renee

Summary

One magic carpet ride to a mysterious land, one unforgettable adventure….

Princess Jasmine has always wanted more out of her life – to travel beyond the palace walls, to get to know her people better…to one day become sultana and lead Agrabah. Unfortunately, her overprotective father does not agree. And he keeps introducing her to foreign princes, including a strange – if admittedly charming – one named Ali.

Prince Ali has a secret. He’s not actually royalty from the far-off kingdom of “Ababwa”, as he’s claimed to be. He’s really Aladdin from the streets of Agrabah, who’s stumbled upon an all-powerful genie and a magic carpet and used the first of three wishes to become a prince. Because he, too, longs for a different life.

And when “Prince Ali” presents the magic carpet to Princess Jasmine, she agrees to embark on a journey with him…and asks that he take her to his homeland, Ababwa.

On an adventure in a fantastical kingdom, Aladdin and Jasmine get caught up in the magic therein. But soon sinister outside forces come into play, threatening to strand them there forever.

Will they learn from legends past? Or will the alluring promise of a path to a new life get the best of them?

View this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I enjoyed getting to spend more time with Aladdin and Jasmine but Aladdin’s lie got to me a bit. I really hate when people lie and throughout this story he has to keep up the appearance that he is a real prince and they are actually in Ababwa. It got a little annoying at times (there are only so many times I needed to be reminded he was lying to be with Jasmine) but it was great seeing Jasmine observing and trying to decide what type of leader she could be, if given the chance. She has a better arc than Aladdin because she’s not pretending and was able to change in the end.

 This story takes place during “A Whole New World.” While traveling everywhere on the magic carpet, where time and space work differently, Jasmine says they should visit Ababwa, Prince Ali’s home. He gets creative and Genie creates his perfect kingdom from ruins. Unbeknownst to them, somebody is actually living nearby and witnesses the kingdom spring up out of nowhere.

 While there Aladdin, ahem, Prince Ali, asks Jasmine to help with making decisions and helping the citizens. Jasmine is delighted. She’s always wanted to be more involved but the Sultan and Jafar would never let her. She listens to each citizen and feels like she’s actually making a difference as she helps them solve their problems. Everything is going perfectly, until that one real person decides to cause trouble that could ruin the illusion and expose Aladdin and keep them trapped in Ababwa.

 Stories that take place in the middle of a movie are usually difficult for me to get invested in since I know how it ends (I’ve watched the movie so I know they make it back to the palace). However, this story excelled at having Jasmine and Aladdin explore their feelings, ideas, and identities. I knew they would get back safely to the palace, but I was still worried about some choices they were being forced to make and how they would handle it.

Poseidon’s Academy by Sarah A. Vogler

Poseidon’s Academy

Author: Sarah A. Vogler
Reviewer: Marlou

Summary

Getting sucked into a whirlpool, sleeping in monster-infested woods, and battling psycho sea-nymphs was not how Hailey planned to spend her first year of high school. But when you’re the only Zeus in the world, life tends to get a bit complicated… 

The Great Battle saw the world changed forever when humans killed the gods and absorbed their powers. One power was coveted above all others: Zeus’s. Thirteen-year-old Hailey Woods is the first Zeus in over a century. Unlike everyone else, she hates her powers because of an ancient prophecy that claims a Zeus will have to save the world someday. 

Hailey doesn’t want to save the world. She wants to be a normal teenager, whose biggest dilemma in life is deciding what to eat for lunch, rather than training to become the ultimate weapon. Poseidon’s Academy, an underwater palace where her powers don’t work, was meant to give her that opportunity. But when she arrives, she discovers the sea-nymphs living there are plotting to resurrect the gods, and Hailey must find a way to stop them before they can enact the prophecy. 

So much for normal!

View this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 2,5 out of 5 stars

This book was provided to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I want to start this review saying that despite giving this book 2.5 stars, I still enjoyed myself. This book has a lot of potential, but it just didn’t wow me. I’ve read almost all of Rick Riordan’s books and I find myself comparing this book to his, and when I do, I find that this book lacks so much. 

Worldbuilding: Gods have been defeated by humans. Humans got their powers. And that’s it. I couldn’t find anything more than that and I would have liked to see more.

Mythology: Yes, she uses the gods and their powers, but there is nothing that hints to myths and no actual stories about the gods are mentioned. 

Characters: Oh boy, they were so flat. There just wasn’t much to them and I really wouldn’t have cared if any of them died… 

Overall, this book is okay. I give it 2.5 stars and I’ll never look back. I do not recommend reading this book. Maybe a young child of age 8 might like it, because of its simplicity.

Books in this series:

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

We Hunt the Flame

Author: Hafsah Faizal
Series: Sands of Arawiya #1
Reviewer: Renee

Summary

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

View this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I had high expectations for this book and it delivered. I immediately fell in love with Zafira. She is independent, strong willed, and does her best to provide for her family and village. She hunts in the forbidden Arz to feed the poor village. She has to pretend to be a man since the leader of her caliph hates women and blames them for everything bad, including the disappearance of magic. Her hunting skills have caught everybody’s attention and she’s known as the Hunter throughout the kingdom. She would do anything for her sister and village.

It took awhile for me to warm up to Nasir and I may still not really like him. He still has a bit of growth to do. He’s his father’s, aka the king’s, puppet. He does whatever the king orders, even if he disagrees with it. If he shows any hesitation or weakness, his father has ways of punishing him. His father uses Nasir to assassinate anybody who threatens his position. Nasir knows what he’s doing is wrong and sees the darkness in his father, but continues doing the king’s bidding, hoping the person he used to be is still inside.

Zafira and Nasir are on a collision course as they both need to acquire an artifact to bring back magic. Zafira does it because she wants to protect her village from being consumed by the Arz. With magic returned, the Arz will disappear. Nasir does it because his father ordered him to. He doesn’t know why and he doesn’t ask. Nasir also needs Zafira since she’s the only one who can find it. A few new characters join them as they journey closer to the artifact.

I enjoyed the distinct character personalities and how they interacted. Zafira has been providing for her family and village alone for so long she has trouble adjusting to working with a group. Nasir knows his mission and is wary of getting close to anyone, but he was sent with the Captain, who is his opposite in so many ways. He also knows Nasir’s secrets.

You see the characters get to know each other in one on one settings as well as within the group dynamics. They are all withholding information so they choose at different times to trust and at times to refuse to move without more answers.

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy

Authors: Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, Robin Wasserman
Series: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy #1-10
Reviewer: Marlou

Summary

Simon Lewis has been a human and a vampire, and now he is becoming a Shadowhunter. But the events of City of Heavenly Fireleft him stripped of his memories, and Simon isn’t sure who he is anymore. He knows he was friends with Clary, and that he convinced the total goddess Isabelle Lightwood to go out with him…but he doesn’t know how. And when Clary and Isabelle look at him, expecting him to be a man he doesn’t remember…Simon can’t take it.

So when the Shadowhunter Academy reopens, Simon throws himself into this new world of demon-hunting, determined to find himself again. His new self. Whomever this new Simon might be.

But the Academy is a Shadowhunter institution, which means it has some problems. Like the fact that non-Shadowhunter students have to live in the basement. And that differences—like being a former vampire—are greatly looked down upon. At least Simon is trained in weaponry—even if it’s only from hours of playing D&D.

Join Simon on his journey to become a Shadowhunter, and learn about the Academy’s illustrious history along the way, through guest lecturers such as Jace Herondale, Tessa Gray, and Magnus Bane. These ten short stories give an epilogue to the Mortal Instruments series and provide glimpses of what’s in store in the Dark Artifices.

Find this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

“Simon had to save the world, and the rest of us get in because we have the right surname?” George asked lightly. He winked at Simon. “Hard luck on you, mate.”

Did I love this book? No. Did I enjoy this book? Absolutely.

This book was just a fluff piece for me. There isn’t a powerful storyline, there’s no evil that need to be defeated, it’s just a bunch of hormonal teenagers learning how to kill demons. Oh, and of course, there’s a little something about racism and that it’s bad, like duh. It’s not a bad book, it’s just not great either. *shrugs*

Now let’s talk about the things I did really like:

Izzy and Simon falling in love all over again? Sign me up! Gosh they were so cute together in this book. Just look at this wonderful little snippet:

“I love you. I love you without the memories. I love you right now.”

Isabelle said in a calm voice, “I know.”

Simon stared at her. “Was that…,” he said slowly. “Was that a Star Wars reference? Because if it was, I would like to declare my love all over again.”

Tessa Gray talking about her family? YASSSSS

“Little James Herondale, age two, was in fact holding a dagger quite well. He stabbed it into a sofa cushion, sending out a burst of feathers. “Ducks,” he said, pointing at the feathers.”

Also, GEORGE!

“Well, I’m a Lovelace. My family quit Shadowhunting due to laziness in the 1700s.”

All in all it was a good book, I enjoyed reading it. Some short stories were way more interesting than others. Simon was nice to read about. 3.5 stars for this one.

Books in this series

The Ice Princess by Thea Stilton

The Ice Princess

Dutch title: De IJs Prinses

Author: Thea Stilton
Series: Princesses of Fantasia #1
Reviewer: Marlou

Summary

There is an Empire …

… a cold, inhospitable area, where a young princess watches over a great secret. But there is someone who wants to revive the time of the old sorcery, and only Gunnar, the big white wolf, can defend the princess.

And so he shows her his true nature.

Find this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Thea Stilton is a childhood favorite author of mine and I had never read this series of hers. I saw the first five at the library and decided to take them with me, they’d be great summer reads.

Ice Princess was totally adorable and had a pretty decent plot line. Usually, I can guess what will happen with Middle Grade books, but this one was not as predictable as I thought it would be.

This cute Middle Grade book gets three stars from me and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to read a fun Middle Grade fantasy.

I’ve read this book in my native tongue (Dutch) which was a little weird at first, because I usually only read in English. Everything just sounds way better in English. I wasn’t as annoyed with the language as I expected to be and I’m quite relieved about that.

I’m most certainly going to finish at least these five, but maybe just the entire series. I’m pretty sure the library has all of them. They’re just so terribly cute and the story is interesting enough that it makes me want to keep reading, which is a very good sign. The second book was my sister’s favorite one so I’ll see if I like that one best too.

Books in this series