Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Unleashed by Sophie Jordan (Uninvited book 2)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the first book in the series, Uninvited, Stop! I don’t want to ruin the series for you.

Please visit the Recaptains blog if you need a refresher on the first book in the series.

"Fate made her a monster, but that won't be her destiny."

Davy’s life has drastically changed since she found out that she carries the kill gene or HTS, Homicidal Tendency Syndrome. Her worst nightmare came true when she was forced to kill someone in order to save Sean’s life. With the help of an outside group, Davy and several others escaped to a trailer on the Texas/Mexico border. With a new policy in place to shoot escaped HTS carriers on sight, they must figure out a way to cross. Now haunted by nightmares of the man she killed, Davy is having a hard time being around Sean without remembering what she did to save him. They are staying in a trailer supplied by the rebel group along with Gil and Sabine.

On the late night/early morning of their crossing, Sean uncovers the boat they will be using. He and Davy oar everyone to the other side of the river. About half way across, border patrol catches them. Knowing that they cannot outrun the boat, the four make the decision to jump and swim. Sean can easily outpace the other three but he hangs back to make sure everyone gets across. Davy is having the most trouble swimming with her pack. The boat gets near her and she begins to swim underwater. Coming up for air at one point, she is shot in the shoulder. Unable to move her arm, Davy’s efforts are further slowed. She sees her friends up ahead of her before she seemingly blacks out.

Davy wakes up during the daytime alone. It is all she can do to stand. She doesn’t know where she is and cannot find her friends. Davy beings walking but the blood loss has dehydrated her quickly. Talking to herself, she sees whats she imagines is a person coming closer to her. With the sun in her eyes, all she can really see is the worn work boots that obviously belong to a man. Once again, Davy passes out. Later, she wakes up in a cave. Trying to figure out where she is, Davy’s attempts to feign sleep are not bought by the man who found her. She is horrified to see his neck tattoo and knows that he is also a carrier. She tries to find a way to escape but is unsuccessful. He tells her that she won't get very far. The border patrol is looking for some carriers that crossed over into Mexico last night. If they don't find her, the coyotes will have a field day with her body. She is disheartened to hear that she is still in the U.S. and wonders where Sean and the others might be. The boy speculates that whoever they are looking for must be pretty important. Davy confesses in her delirious state that she was suppose to go to Julliard before finding out she was a carrier and that the agency was training her to be a killer. He is calm and comforting to her before she passes back out and promises that he won't let her die.

Who rescued Davy? What is his story? Will she ever see Sean, Gil or Sabine again? Does she find freedom in Mexico? Can she find peace for what she was made to do? Will she reunite with her family? How does Davy's life turn out?

Visit Sophie Jordan's website.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows (Orphan Queen book 1)

“Wilhelmina has a hundred identities. She is a princess. She is a spy. She is a threat.”

In the kingdoms, magic was freely used for everything, from building and farming to war. Radiants were the wielders of magic and some families comprised of several radiants became powerful. Wraith is a toxic byproduct of magic use but there was never enough to be a problem. When it did become a problem one hundred year earlier, the Indigo King, Terrell Pierce the Second, forced most of the surrounding kingdoms to sign the Wraith Alliance, which banned the use of magic. Radiants became the hunted and wealthy families were left in ruins while new powerful ones rose without the use of magic. Wraith was used by some to make themselves bigger, happier and stronger. But if they use too much, the changes become permanent and Glowmen were created. Aecor didn’t sign the Alliance and soon became a place for radiants to hide until the One-Night War.

Ten years ago, the Indigo Army invaded Aecor. They slaughtered every noble adult living in Sandcliff Castle. Wilhelmina Korte and a young Prince Tobiah from the Indigo Kingdom, watch as her parents, the king and queen of Aecor, are beheaded along with the adult members of their court. Their surviving children were taken to the capital of the Indigo Kingdom, Skyvale. After a year of living in the orphanage, they escaped and named themselves after their national animal, the osprey. For Wil, she now has nothing without the Ospreys and with them, she hopes to take back her conquered kingdom. Oppressed by King Terrell the Fourth, she only has the kingdom's orphans and a few rebel groups left to fight with her. She keeps her magical abilities a secret from everyone. Looking at her to resurrect their lost kingdom, she hopes to retake her rightful place and become Queen Wilhelmina.

Even though she is the heir to the kingdom, Patrick Lien is older and the natural leader of the Ospreys. He feels that they are on a tight deadline with the tenth anniversary of the One- Night War approaching. He has made an elaborate plan that he hopes will get Wil and her best friend Melanie into the Skyvale palace. Posing as refugee Liadian nobility, King Terrill cannot refuse them entrance since Liadia signed the Wealth Alliance. Inside the palace, it will up to the girls to find intelligence about the Indigo Army and what they know about resistance groups throughout Aecor in order to plant false information.  They also hope to discover if the Aecorian refugees are being drafted in the Indigo Army to fight in the wraithlands. The rest of the Ospreys will reach out to the resistance groups and any remaining refugees to let them know that Princess Wilhelmina is still alive.

With their forged documents, Wil and Mel gain an audience with King Terrill. Her papers state that she is Lady Juliana Whitman, the heir to Liadia. Wil is surprised to see that Prince Tobiah is with his father. She is worried that he might recognize her but he doesn't. Furthermore, she is stunned to see that the man who destroyed her life is frail and looks as if he has been ill for some time. They are given sanctuary in the palace for as long as they need. The first step in their plan is set. On their way to their rooms, they run into Lady Meredith Corcoran and Lady Chuy Chuter. Lady Meredith invites them to that night's ball being held in honor of her engagement. Lady Chuy asks if they brought their gowns and Lady Meredith chastise her. The two of them make arrangements to have gowns delivered to them.

At the Chuter mansion, Wil and Mel are seated in the back with several military men, including a young Lieutenant James Rayner, Crown Prince Tobiah’s principal bodyguard. Wil recalls that the queen’s maiden name was Rayner and that her sister’s child was born amid scandal. James must be that child. A bit of a flirt, he escorts Wil to the ballroom for a dance. At one point in the evening, Prince Tobiah comes to dance with her. They talk about the Wraith Alliance and Wil/Juliana is interested in helping with the cause. When the dance is finished, Tobiah notices that Wil has gone pale. She is thinking over how difficult her life has been. He walks her to a chair where they sit and talk. Wil asks him about the different houses that families belong to and the topic of magic comes up. Not meaning to bring up a difficult subject, Tobiah lets her know that anything relating to magic is prohibited in the Indigo Kingdom since the Alliance. Wil asks if everyone complies and he tells her that those who don’t , the Indigo Order will find. Wil brings up Black Knife and Tobiah wants to know if he is known in Liadia. She tells him that she has heard the stories from the refugee children on her way to the city. In fact, Wil and the Ospreys had a run in with Black Knife before coming to the palace. She asks what happens to the magical users after they are caught. Tobiah will only tells her that they no longer use magic.

The Black Knife doesn't care if magic is used for good or evil, it was all the same to him. He is worshiped by the citizens of Skyvale as he rounds up the glowmen and wraith beasts who make their way to the area. He also spots burglars and leaves them tied up for the police. Wil keeps running into him in Skyvale. Following Mel when she sneaks out of the palace to see where she is going, Wil finds Black Knife following her on the rooftops. He is always masked so she is unable to tell what he looks like. Black Knife is trying to figure out who she is and what she is doing.

Will anyone figure out who Wilhelmina really is? Can the Ospreys help Wil reclaim their kingdom? Who is Black Knife? What is he really doing? Does Wil keep her magical abilities hidden? What secrets do Wil and Mel uncover while at the palace? Does Tobiah recognize Wil? What is wrong with King Terrill? Will the wraith come to the Indigo Kingdom?

Book two, The Mirror King, will be published in March 2016.
There will also be four Black Knife novellas. The first, The Hidden Prince, is out June 6 while the second,  The Glowing Knight, is out Sept. 1.

Visit Jodi Meadows’ website.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Invaded by Melissa Landers (Alienated book 2)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the first book in the series, Alienated, Stop! I don’t want to ruin the series for you.

Even after Aelyx's transgressions on Earth, the Way decided to continue alliance negotiations. That was the good news. The bad news is that for their attempts to derail the negotiations, Aelyx and Syrine will return to Earth to repair what they destroyed. The two will have to admit to the humans what they did and find a way to earn their forgiveness. Unfortunately, Cara and the two other exchange students will return to L'eihr as a show of good faith. Aelyx can rejoin Cara on L’eihr when the mission is complete. Jaxen has promised to take care of Cara, to Aelyx’s chagrin, and her brother Troy will still be around. Aelyx has promised to mend the alliance in record time so that they can be together.

Life on L'eihr doesn't turn out like Cara thought. The two other exchange students have refused to leave Earth. Since the exchange program has faltered, the Marines have called Troy back to duty. He will be leaving for Earth in two weeks. None of the students in her Aegis speak, in fact they are downright cruel. Elle, Aelyx’s sister, is her one true confidant. Teachers are mean and Cara has nicknamed her physical education instructor, Satan. When a meteorite lands where she had just been standing during her citizenship ceremony, Jaxen keeps the truth of what exactly it is from her.

Life on Earth isn't a piece of cake for either Aelyx or Syrine. Assassination attempts have been made and the public's opinion of L'eihr isn't very high. Even though the governments of Earth have agreed to the alliance on L'eihr's terms, the Way wants the general population to support the alliance between the two planets. Earth needs L'eihr's technology to correct the contamination of the water supply. The humans don't know that their survival is dependent on the alliance. A goodwill publicity tour is suggested to win over people. Even Syrine isn’t immune to human suffering.

Can Aelyx win over the human population for the alliance to take place? Will Cara be able to win over the L’eihrs? Does the colony on L’eihr go forward? Is the water situation on Earth fixed? Will Syrine have a change of heart over humans? What secrets is Jaxen hiding?Do Aleyx and Cara reunite and if so on which planet?

As of this posting, whether or not there is a third book in the series hasn’t been determined.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski (The Winner's Curse book 2)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the first book in the series, The Winner’s Curse, Stop! I don’t want to ruin one of my favorite series for you.

Please visit the Recaptains blog if you need a refresher on the first book in the series.

Kestrel and Arin’s lives have drastically changed since she bought him at the slave auction. Now, Arin is in charge of the Herran peninsula and Kestrel is engaged to the emperor’s son, all to keep Arin safe. If Arin knew the real reason behind her engagement, he would fight it and ruin himself. If the emperor knew why Kestrel had agreed, he would ruin her. She must now chart a slippery slope. Neither Kestrel or Prince Verex want to marry each other. The emperor gets Kestrel alone at dinner one night, he pins her for a wedding date since his son isn't interested. He gently pushes for a date at the end of the month but Kestrel offers her reasons for a summer wedding, many political. He sees through her ploy and remarks that she will make a fine empress. When the crown Prince arrives late, he claims that his father gave him the wrong time. Not one for his father's games or Kestrel's pity, Verex leaves. The emperor agrees to Kestrel's wedding date but wants her to meet the captain of the imperial guard tomorrow. He has a surprise to show her.

The surprise turns out to be a who. Immediately upon meeting the captain, Kestrel doesn't like the cruel man. He takes her to the depths of the dungeons where an older Herrani is chained to the wall. She is relieved then ashamed that it is no one she knows. The captain makes her watch as he tortures the man for answers. Remarkably, he tells Kestrel his name and that she needs to tell him, he needs to know. The captain is enraged that the prisoner is talking to her. He swears that he wasn't eavesdropping, only cleaning outside the door. He tells Kestrel that it is the year of money. The captain continues his torture and Kestrel loses her breakfast. The prisoner stops screaming but only because he has passed out. She leaves. Back in her rooms, Kestrel cleans up and lays down. The prisoner's words bring back memories of her nanny who once told her it was the year of the stars. Thinking further, she recalls that the prisoner told her that he needs to know. Suddenly, she realizes that the "he" is Arin but what does Arin need to know.

As the governor of Herran, Arin isn't happy to receive an invitation to a ball celebrating the engagement of Crown Prince Verex to Lady Kestrel. Just as Kestrel is unable to keep her thoughts from straying to Arin, he is in the same boat. Knowing that his attendance is required, Arin tries to send Tensen, the minister of agriculture. Tensen argues that the emperor will be insulted or guess that the older man is more important than he previously thought. Since they haven't heard from the spy they have planted in the imperial palace, this will be an excellent opportunity to see what is going on.

Kestrel goes to the emperor in an attempt to rectify her behavior in the dungeon. She wishes to go back and find out more information from the prisoner. The emperor lets her know that he is dead by his own hand. Kestrel knows that yesterday was a reminder of what will happen to her if her true intentions are found out. Running into Verex later, she is shocked to learn about the ball. Verex cannot believe that his father's chosen heir didn't know of his plans. Kestrel gets a good look at Verex and sees that he doesn't measure up to his father's standards. She promises herself that she will attempt to help him out. Nevertheless, Kestrel cannot help but look for Arin with each new arrival for the ball. When the Herrani minister of agriculture arrives on horseback just as the mountain pass closes for the winter, she is devastated to see him alone. Arin isn't coming.

At the ball that night, the engaged couple is introduced. Verex kisses her and even though she was prepared for it, Kestrel is numb. He apologizes and they dance together. He notices that she is miserable and asks if it is because he has been so unforgivable. He then asks if there is another reason that she is so determined to marry him. What is his father that holding over her? Kestrel wants to know if she is that bad of a choice for a wife. He smiles saying not that bad and Kestrel suggests that they make the best of their situation. She is then passed off to a senator to start the next dance. After a while, she feins being tired and goes to sit at a gaming table.  She looks across the room and sees Verex about to get creamed by a General at their game. He looks at her across the room and silently asks for help. Attempting for peace between the two of them, she helps him win through the use of hand signals to make the winning moves. The emperor's expression is amused but not disapproving when Verex is victorious. Looking around, she knows that her peaceful moment will soon come to an end. Declining offers to dance until later, Kestrel makes her way to an empty hallway. She looks to see if anyone is watching and slips behind a curtained off balcony closed off for the winter. Looking out the glass to the garden below, she imagines her wedding day and the life before her. She realizes that she will always be haunted by her choices. She snaps out of her despair when she realizes that someone is coming through the curtains. Kestrel is stunned to see Arin. He came after all.

He comes close but Kestrel says that they cannot be seen together. He doesn't move, only remarks on her behavior with the Prince earlier that evening. Arin wants to know how Kestrel could settle for someone like him. She will end up making him look like a fool. He speaks her name and her emotions run wild. She wars with herself to confess her motives but doesn't. Arin is looking for information about a Herrari servant. Knowing who he is asking about, Kestrel wants to know who he is to him. She realizes that Arin is being reckless with his safety. Kestrel knows that if Arin ever found out what she has done for him, he would stop at nothing to save her and she would let him. She offers to find out the information he is looking for. It will repay the debt she owes him. He tells her that she owes him nothing. What he has done, he did it for her. He gives the friend's name and Kestrel lies, saying that she knows nothing. She goes to leave but Arin stops her. His friend wasn't all he came for. He can't stop thinking of her and he knows her well. He knows that she is true to herself and has never been false with him. What is she keeping from him about his friend but more importantly, why is she marrying the Prince. Does she want him? Kestrel says yes and Arin asks her to prove it. Close to her, he begins to kiss her neck and moves up her face. He says that she is lying and Kestrel gets angry. She pushes him back and walks away. He apologizes. Walking towards the ballroom, Tensen grabs her before she can enter. She needs to have a look in the mirror before she goes back in. Tensen keeps watch while she attempts to put herself back together. Kestrel knows that he is the spymaster for Herran. She will only give him information as long as Arin doesn't find out that it has come from her. Tensen wants to know why not and she says that Arin will always put her first above everyone else, including Herran. He reluctantly agrees.
What game is Kestrel playing? Will she be found out? Does she marry Verex? Why doesn't he want to marry Kestrel? Does the emperor truly trust her? What information does she pass through Tensen? What happens when Arin realizes what exactly she has done for him? Will he put Kestrel above everyone else?

The trilogy will end with book three, The Winner’s Kiss, due out in 2016.

Visit Marie Rutkoski’s website.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

“I am the perfect weapon. I kill with a single touch.”

Daunen is the daughter of the two Gods who have always ruled the world. Daeg, Lord of the Sun who rules during the day and his wife, Naeht, Empress of Darkness conceived their daughter when Naeht seduced her husband to make him too tired to rise. In doing so, she was able to rule and plunged the world into darkness where nothing lived or thrived. It wasn't until Daunen was born did Daeg awaken. Light and life was restored to Lormere. Daeg was so grateful that he promised to return the spirit of Daunen to Lormere when she was needed most. Everyone would know who she was by her red hair and beautiful voice. She would be known as Daunen Embodied. Not to be outdone, Naeht insisted that she be represented too. As a balance between them, she is death on her mother's behalf and life on her father's. Daunen Embodied must prove herself to be God's’ choice by taking the poison Morningsbane and surviving. The poison is kept in her skin and her touch would be the death of traitors.

Twylla is Daunen Embodied. She has proven it every moon cycle. The result is that her skin is poisonous since the Morningsbane remains in her body. The queen initially kept Twylla's true role a secret to make sure that she was God's choice. Now on the cusp of womanhood, the Queen can no longer protect her after two harvests. She must now act as Daunen Embodied. She thought by living at the castle the price she would pay would be to never touch anyone, except for those also blessed by divine right; the king, the queen, and the prince. Twylla left behind her sister, Maryl, the only person to show her any love or affection. Unfortunately, the price for living in the castle is now she must touch and willingly. There is no antidote for Morningsbane and just by touching her skin, a grown man is dead within seconds. Twylla is to become the Queen’s executioner.

Tyrek was Tywlla's only friend. One of her guards, they only see one another in the Telling Room. On the day Tyrek died, he didn’t keep up his usual banter with Twylla. Instead, he was all business. When the Queensguard rushes in to arrest him for treason, she goes to find the Queen. The Queen tells her that after an extensive investigation, she discovered that Tyrek used his friendship with Twylla to uncover information about her life and duties at court and passed them to their enemies. Since being Daunen Embodied is more than singing, praying and ingesting Morningsbane, she will dole out his punishment. She refused at first but the Queen cannot promise her safety if she doesn't fulfill her duties. Twylla knows that she will have to touch Tyrek. They were were both fifteen. He was terrified and Twylla was ashamed for him. The Queen watched as she placed her hands around his neck. When nothing happened at first, Twylla thought that the Gods had intervened but her relief was short lived. Pulling her hands away when he began convulsing, Tyrek was dead with a minute. The Queen tells Twylla that it had to be her. This was her destiny.

It has been two harvests Twylla killed her best friend. Thirteen more traitors have followed in the two harvests since then. After her latest visit to the Telling Room, one of her guards was finally given the transfer he requested from the Queen. Dorian, the one guard who has always been with her, says that the new one the Queen has chosen will join her after the hunt. When the men arrive at the tents when their prey has been caught, Twylla is shocked to see Prince Merek with the king. Betrothed in a ceremony four harvests ago, Merek has had nothing to do with her since. In fact, for the past two harvests, Merek has been away on progress, learning the ways and history of the kingdom. Not once has he inquired of her. Twylla cannot help but notice how handsome Merek is. Merek, it turns out is the only person who can talk back to his mother and not readily agree with everything she says. When the Queen asks Twylla to sing, an already tense situation at the tent goes downhill quickly when a drunken Lord will not stop talking during her performance. The Queen stops Twylla and sends the Lord on his way back to the castle on foot. After he leaves, the Queen calls over the huntmaster with two of the dogs. The dogs take his scent from the chair where he sat and are released. It is all the people at the table, including Twylla, can do not to react to the sounds of his death. Twylla is grateful that the ride back to the castle is quick and she doesn't have to be in the Queen's company. Dismounting her horse, she sees Merek staring at her. Desiring his attention in the past, his gaze now makes her uncomfortable.

Dorin is there to meet Twylla with her new guard, Lief. He speaks and she takes notice of his voice. The riderless horse is led in and Twylla and Dorin exchange a glance. He asks if she is ready to go to the temple but Twylla would like a private moment with him first. Lief stands away and Twylla asks Dorin where he is from. Dorian says that he is Tregellian. Twylla is shocked, knowing how much the Queen dislikes the people from the kingdom they won a war with. Dorian admits that he bested all of the Queen's guards as well as himself. The Queen is confident in Lief's abilities. At the temple, Twylla is distraught over the day's events but also the path her life has taken. Even though she is living the life of her dreams, she is the Queen's tool and sequestered from everyone. Outside, she finds Dorin and Lief going through some drills. She is shocked to find Merek waiting on her. He asks if she stitched the flowers on the screens and she answers yes. He wants to know if she ever tires on doing the same images. Before she can answer, he tells her how much he enjoyed her earlier performance and her theatrics. He is glad that she is one of the few. who try He inquires about her next performance and realizes the control the Queen has over her. He departs by saying that she should stitch some new flowers and that he likes dandelions. Once again, she is shocked that he remembers an incident from years earlier between the two of them. Back in her rooms later, Twylla's floored again when she sees that someone has left flower sketches for her. Knowing it was Merek, she plans for a new screen.

Twylla's life is not her own. Becoming Daunen Embodied is not at all what she thought. Twylla gave up her old life as the Sin Eater's daughter completely. She didn't realize that her relationship with her sister would be gone. She has grown to hate the Queen and her domineering ways. Singing has become the only part of her life she loves. When Dorin falls ill, the Queen sequesters Twylla to her room since Lief is her only guard. Without Dorin to guide him, Twylla sees how much Lief doesn’t know about being around her or the royals. She begins to see a side of her new guard that interests her but she vows not to make the same mistakes that she did with Tyrek. And Merek begins to come see her more and more.

Why did the Queen name Lief as Twylla’s new guard? What was Lief’s life like before coming to Lormere? Will Dorin recover? Why does the Queen keep such tight control over Twylla? Is Merek really interested in Twylla or is he attempting to make the best of the situation? Will Twylla ever see her sister again? What happens when Twylla and Lief grow closer than they should?

No word yet as to what the second book will be called or when it will be published.

Visit Melinda Salisbury’s website.