Thursday, May 28, 2015

Lion Heart by A.C. Gaughen (Scarlet book 3)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the first two books in the series, Scarlet and  Lady Thief, Stop! I don’t want to ruin the series for you.

“We all need something - someone - to fight for …”

Prince John has hidden Scarlet from his mother and her grandmother, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Her hopes of escape or rescue are dashed when he takes the necklace Eleanor gave her and informs her that King Richard, her father, is being held for ransom by the Holy Roman Emperor. If John has her necklace, Eleanor would know that she is dead. When two guards come to her cell, David says that they are just moving her. The other guard, Thomas, informs them both that there has been a change of plans. They are to kill her per John’s orders. When David refuses, a scuffle breaks out and David, who is loyal to Eleanor, overpowers Thomas with Scarlet’s help. The two are able to leave when Scarlet poses as dead.

On their way to London, they run into Allan who has been looking for Scarlet. Prince John had a letter sent to Robin informing him of Scarlet’s execution. Robin never believed it and had sent Allan to look for her. Scarlet is hopeful but Allan tells her that  he hasn’t had time yet to send Robin a letter. Feeling downtrodden, her spirits soar when Allan hands her a bundle of letters that Robin has written to her. Dirty, she doesn’t want to touch them. The innkeeper’s daughter, Kate, takes her to get cleaned up. Afterwards, Kate tells her that everywhere, not just Nottingham, is bad under John’s rule.

Scarlet knows that she needs to get to Eleanor if she has any hope of stopping Prince John. To make matters worse, the Holy Roman Emperor is demanding an exorbitant amount of silver for King Richard’s return. In order to raise the money, Eleanor has levied a stiff tax that the downtrodden people of England cannot afford. Going to Robin’s friend, Lord Winchester, he provides Scarlet with a safe haven.He offers to get word of her safety to Robin, but she must think about it. Scarlet tells him of her thoughts that Prince John plans to kill Richard to claim the throne. Scarlet knows that in order to keep everyone safe, she must remain hidden and await word from Eleanor.

Can Scarlet stopp Prince John? Will King Richard return to England and reclaim his throne and his daughter? Does Scarlet join forces with Eleanor or can she trust her? What did Robin write in his letters to Scarlet? Will Scarlet and Robin be able to live happily ever after?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

“One life to one dawn.”

Shahrzad al-Khayzuran volunteered to become the latest bride of Khalid Ibn al-Rashid, the caliph of Khorasan. Only eighteen-years-old, the boy king is known as a monster throughout the land. At sixteen, Shahrzad’s life is now forfeit. By sunrise, she is expected  to suffer the same fate as all of the caliph’s previous wives, death by a silken cord. Shahrzad has other plans. She hopes to murder the caliph out of revenge not only for the death of her best friend, Shiva, but for every girl and her family that has suffered at his hands. Khalid wants to know why she chose to volunteer.

Irsa, Shahrzab’s younger sister and their father pack up in the dead of night to begin three days of hard travel to Taleqan. Taleqan is the stronghold of Nasir al-Zizad, emir of the fourth-richest stronghold of Khorasan. Nasir’s son, Tariq, is Shahrzad’s childhood sweetheart as well as Shiva’s brother. Tariq is determined to rescue Shahrzad from the caliph. Before they depart, her father grabs one book before he locks the door. Formerly a vizar to Khalid’s father, he is now a custodian of ancient texts. He refuses to answer Irsa when she asks what book he took.

Shahrzad will answer the caliph’s question after she tells him a story. He agrees, but becomes difficult as she begins her tale. As Shahrzad tells the story, she notices the first light of dawn behind the caliph. Continuing on, she finally stops as she gazes across the terrace to see that the new day has arrived. The caliph follows her gaze and then asks her to finish the story. She refuses, saying that she has only just begun. The caliph guesses correctly that her storytelling is a tactic she has employed to stay her execution. Shahrzad fully plans to finish the tale tomorrow night, but only if he wishes her to. Even though she knows her life is forfeit, Shahrzad would like just one more day. He agrees to one more day and leaves.

Awoken at noon that first day, Shahrzad’s handmaiden, Despina introduces herself. She lets her know that she is the caliph’s spy but that she hopes that Shahrzad is able to survive. After helping her dress for the day, Shahrzad asks Despina if she is allowed to leave her room. As long as she is with the Rajput, she may. Despina informs her that the caliph has given her a gift of one of his personal bodyguards. Shahrzad is angry that she necessitates a spy and a ready executioner. Rajput is the best swordsman in Rey, perhaps all of Khorasan, with Khalid al-Rashid, the King of Kings a close second. Despina thought she should know that. Shahrzad realizes that there is one more obstacle to her plan to kill Khalid.

Walking through the palace with Despina and Rajput, Shahrzad asks to go outside. Searching the grounds, Despina asks Shahrzad what she is trying to do. She replies that she is looking for someone and makes her way to the training grounds. Rajput grunts his disapproval. Despins asks if she is looking for the caliph. Surprised to find that he isn’t there, Shahrzad feigns ignorance and asks Rajput to teach her how to shoot. He refuses and she asks if he must always be so difficult. Rajput stiffens when a voice says that he always is but could he offer his assistance. Shahrzad accepts and goes to introduce herself but is stopped. He already knows who she is. He says that his name is Jalal but Despina finishes by letting Shahrzad know that he is the captain of the guard and son of General Aref al-Khoury, the Shahrban of Rey. Jalal says that he is nobody of consequence, even if he is the son of the highest-ranking general. Shahrzad says that she is no one as well but Jalal disagrees. She asks him to teach her how to shoot and he agrees, but on two conditions. One is to call him Jalal and to never tell Khalid that he taught her how to shoot. Shahrzad is taken back that he referred to the caliph by his given name. Despina and Rajput are unhappy, but Jalal takes Shahrzad to a rack of bows. She begins to inspect the arrows and Jalal surmises that he has been duped. They look at bows but he is unconvinced of her ignorance. She knows that she will have to do better in the future. Shahrzad asks if he knows the caliph well and Jalal tells her that he has known Khalid since he was a little boy, but they aren’t good friends. He and Khalid’s older brother Hassam were the best of friends before his death. Khalid’s father died the following year and he took the throne at the age of fourteen. He was traumatized by an incident involving his mother years earlier. She isn’t thrilled by Jalal’s sympathy toward the caliph. She turns away and shoots another arrow. Jalal laughs at her when he realizes she has played him. His silence has a price he tells her. Jalal isn’t sure what she is up to but Shahrzad is “the first person to rattle (the caliph) in years. And he needs to be rattled.” Shahrzad wants to know what the favor is. Jalal says that Khalid is his king, not his friend nor enemy. He remembers the boy he use to be and just wants to fix the broken creature that Khalid has become. Jalal hopes that Shahrzad can help him in this endeavour. Despina races forward, horror stricken. Shahrzad notices that the caliph has arrived. He states that Jalal can continue to teach her since he is the better marksman but he will see her that night.

That evening, the caliph remarks that Shahrzad seems to have developed a lack of decorum around him. She quips that someone needs to and the more she is at the palace, she finds that her fear is waning. He seems surprised but remarks that she knows nothing. The moment passes before she can gain any new insights from him. The caliph asks her to continue the story. The power of love comes up in the story and the caliph makes a snide remark. Shahrzad comments about the importance of love and how his opinion about it is predictable. He says that she seems to know a lot for only being his queen for two nights. Dawn breaks once again as Shahrzad attempts to start a new story while finishing another. The caliph isn’t pleased by her antics as a persistent knock is heard at the door. The caliph instructs the person to enter and it is General al-Khoury. He says that it is morning as his soldiers go to Shahrzad’s side. One goes to grab her arm and she yells for him not to touch her. Panicking, she looks at the caliph. He introduces Shahrzad to the General as his queen. al-Khoury doesn’t understand and the caliph remarks that he may never.

Why has Shahrzad survived the first two nights? What are the caliph’s intentions towards Shahrzad when he refers to her as his queen? Why did her father and sister flee and what is so important about the book he took? Will Tariq be able to get Shahrzad out of the palace? What tragedy happened concerning the caliph’s mother? Why has Khalid killed every wife after one night? How is Shahrzad different from Khalid’s previous wives? Will she work with Jalal? Will she be able to see the caliph as Khalid and no longer hate him? What happens when hate turns to love?

The Wrath and the Dawn was inspired by One Thousand and One NIghts. The story will conclude with The Rose and The Dagger.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Bradley, Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend of the past two months, breaks up with her in the parking lot just before her senior prom. She was desperate to show up with him on her arm to prove to her friends, including a vengeful Jules, that she hadn’t been lying. Bradley knows that Gia is probably just using him. He drives off, leaving Gia behind. Leaning against the tailgate of a truck, Gia catches the eye of a boy sitting in a car across from her. He quickly looks down and begins reading a book. She realizes that he was dropping off the couple who saw her attempts to keep Bradley from leaving. Gia assesses the guy as she walks over to the car door and decides that he will have to do, even though he doesn’t seem her type. He tells her that his family just moved to the area. He dropped off his sister but he is finishing out the school year at his old school. Gia announces that he will be her date but he wil need to go home first to make himself presentable. He tries to decline but Gia tells him her sob story and begs. He agrees and drives off, leaving Gia once again standing in the parking lot. Initially, she wonders if he promised to be back as a way to get away from her. After about fifteen minutes, Gia realizes that she may have to confess the truth to her friends, fearing that they won’t believe her. As she gets ready to walk in by herself, Gia’s fill-in boyfriend comes back and she is pleasantly surprised by how well he has cleaned up.

Gia fills him in on her and Bradley’s back story so as to convince her friends that he is the real deal. Once inside, the two head towards Gia’s circle of friends and Jules drops her jaw. She introduces him as Bradley. As they head towards the dance floor, Gia feels a bit guilty. Placing her head against his chest, she apologizes for not knowing his real name. While dancing, he asks Gia about her friends. She tells him about how Jules wants to turn their friends against her but she isn’t evil enough to treat Jules as badly as she does Gia. The slow song ends without Gia discovering his name. The reason he gives is so that she doesn’t accidentally slip and call him by the wrong name. She compliments him on his acting and dancing skills but they are interrupting before he can tell Gia why he agreed to be her date for the evening.

Sitting at a table with her friends, Gia notices the fake Bradley’s sister coming towards them. He goes to smooth things over with her while Jules asks Gia what is going on. Walking off, Gia heads towards the quickly escalating situation. His sister Bec is furious over a self-serving Gia using him. Gia tries to explain but Bec isn’t having it. Even though she is new to the school, Bec knows Gia but Gia doesn’t recognize her. Gia turns to go tell her friends the truth. Before she can get the words out, fill-in Bradley turns the conversation into an apology for the way his ex-girlfriend was acting. Soon, his voice is rising as he pleads with Gia. Trying to keep a straight face, Gia quietly asks him to stop but he launches into breaking up with her. Fill-in Bradley leaves with his sister scurrying behind him. Gia’s friends comfort her but she doesn’t bad mouth the fake Bradley. Gia cannot help but notice Jules watching Bradley leave. She knows that her frenemy is up to no good.

Once Gia goes home, she finds herself thinking of the boy who just spent his evening with her. She doesn’t know his name and the only way she can get in touch with him is through a girl who hates her guts. After thinking about him all weekend, Monday morning and school rolls around. Jules wants to send Bradley a few messages on some social networks but she cannot remember his name. She won’t let up and Gia snaps. She threatens to take all of their mutual friends away from her. Jules tells her “game on.” Sitting down in government class, the teacher announces a pop quiz. Groaning, Gia’s day goes from bad to worse when Bec turns around from the seat directly in front of her, looking nothing like she did at prom.

Who is fill-in Bradley? Why did he decide to pose as Gia’s boyfriend? What has Gia done to Bec to make her hate her? What happens when Gia’s deceit is discovered? Why does Jules act the way she does towards Gia? Can Gia find fill-in Bradley and admit her feeling for him? Will Bec help Gia where her brother is concerned?

Visit Kasie West’s website.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Eternity Key by Bree Despain (Into the Dark book 2)

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

Haden Lord, Prince of the Underrealm, is a Prince no more. Since he was chosen by the Oracle of Elysium to become a Champion, he obliterated any chance he might have had to become his father's heir. He chose Daphne Raines and love instead. It turns out that she was the Cypher, the only one who can find and retrieve the Key of Hades. It is Haden's responsibility to use the Key to keep the Court of the Underrealm from getting the Keres. Literally, all hell would break loose on Earth if the Keres were set free. Haden, Daphne and their friends have left the safe haven of Ellis Fields to return to Olympus Hills to search for the Key. Two weeks have passed and they haven't found the Key yet nor have the Skylords come after them. Haden will do whatever is necessary to keep Daphne safe because he has realized that he loves her.

Daphne still isn't willing to forgive her father Joe for seeking her soul to the Underrealm in order to become a rock star. Sarah, the Oracle, told Haden and Daphne that their destinies were irrevocably intertwined. She had kept the Compass meant for Daphne for centuries. It was stolen from her only minutes later and now she feels that without it, they will never find the Key. She is still willing to bet that the Key is hidden in the grove. Tobin agrees with her. Haden relents and goes along but Daphne wants to just find the key so that her life can go back to normal. But Haden wonders if her life will ever be normal again.

Tobin's mother is the mayor of Olympus Hills. His sister Abbie went into hiding in Ellis Fields as CeCe Caelum and was Daphne best friend before Joe came into Daphne's life. The mayor has been aiding in the kidnapping of Olympus Hills daughters and Abbie disappeared a second time after Joe's assistant Marta came to help Daphne move. The mayor traded her daughter so that she could start her wind energy company. He is helping Haden and Daphne uncover the secrets of Olympus Hills. Grounded by his mother for two weeks when they went to Ellis Fields, he had been secretly searching his mother's rules for any clues. Tobin finds an early map of the area that he thinks might provide some answers. Daphne ends up giving Tobin Abbie’s dairy that was sent to her with some of CeCe’s things from Ellis Fields. They hope that it will provided them with some clues.

Haden spends every night outside of Daphne's house in an attempt to protect her from anything that may harm her. One night, Dax finds him and tried to persuade him to get some rest. He isn't going to be able to help anyone if he is sleep deprived. A flash of lightning streaks the sky and Haden thinks he sees a person standing on the shore of the lake. Dax doesn't see anyone. Haden runs through the rain to look. He sees footprints in the sand but the waves wash them away before Dax can see them. Haden is determined to keep Daphne safe at all costs.

On the first day back to class after break, Haden and Daphne are to see that their regular Humanities teacher has been replaced. Haden immediately knows that Ethan Bowman and his “niece” Terresa and “nephew” Calix are Skylords. Daphne is warned of the danger by a text message from Dax immediately followed by several from Haden telling her to act as if she doesn’t know him. After class, Daphne leaves the room with Lexie and heads towards Dax’s office. Calix follows the girls. Haden is asked by Ethan to stay after class and he dismisses Terresa, who clearly isn’t happy to be included. Alone with Ethan, Haden tells him that he knows who he is and that he no longer has an allegiance to the Underrealm. Haden refuses to give up the Cypher but Ethan tells him that he already knows who she is. Ethan wants to make a deal, a favor for the future. Haden says that he didn’t give the Cypher or the Key to his father, so don’t expect that. Ethan sounds imposed upon but wants Haden to agree to a favor later on or he can die now and lose the Cypher. Haden reluctantly agrees to Ethan’s request. The right time will depend on Haden and his friends. Until then, Haden is to tell no one of their dea; and to stay as far away as possible from Calix and Terresa. Terresa can be quite ambitious.

Will Daphne realize her true feelings for Haden before it is too late? What secrets is Tobin’s mother keeping about Olympus Hills? How will Daphne get the Compass back? Where will the Key be found? Who did Haden see on the shores of the lake that night? Why have they come to Olympus Hills? Can anything important be found in Abbie’s dairy? Why did she disappear? Will Haden and Daphne to able to keep an all out war from breaking out?

Book three will be published in the fall of 2016.

Visit Bree Despain’s website.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Rogue by Julie Kagawa (Talon Saga book 2)

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

“We fled into the desert, the roar of St. George behind us. The head of a dying dragon resting in my lap.”

Garret Xavier Sebastian is accused of high treason against the Order of St. George. He believed in everything the Order stood for until he met her, Ember Hill. Ember was a sleeper dragon that Talon had planted in Crescent Beach and Garret was sent to destroy. Ember was nothing like he had been led to believe. Instead of following through with the mission, Garret fell in love and helped her and two other dragons escape. Now on trial, no one is shocked when Garret is sentenced to be executed before the firing squad at dawn the following morning.

Talon wants Dante Hill to bring his traitorous sister back into the fold rather than have her terminated. They are providing him with the best possible resources to locate her. He cannot help but wonder why they are so interested in one little hatching going rogue. Mr. Roth, a Vice President of Talon, introduces him to the first member of his team, a hatching only a couple of years older than himself named Mist. Once alone, Mist wants to know what is so special about Ember to bring her back. Dante plays off her questioning by telling her that he cannot give her the reason. Mist takes him into their command center and the two question a couple of humans charged with the task of locating Ember and Cobalt. Not finding any new information about Cobalt's extensive network, Dante asks if they are tracking St. George. They all the look at him like he has gone off the deep end. Dante wants to know where their chapterhouse is. He orders them to quit looking for Cobalt's safe houses and find St. George. Dante believes that his sister's human friend might have been part of the Order. He believes that it is worth a shot. Mist changes the search and asks if Dante knows the human’s name. He does, Garret Xavier Sebastian.

Three days have past since the bottom of Ember's world fell out and she went rogue. She discovered that Garret was as member of the Order and Talon wasn't what she was led to believe. Three days since she last saw Garret or Dante. She and Riley/Cobalt have met up with Wes at a hotel with a crazy, suicidal plan in mind. Ember is determined to rescue Garret and Riley knows that if he doesn't help her, she won't make it out alive. He knows that he might not make it out alive. Fighting his survival instincts and hatred of St. George, Riley knows that he cannot send Ember into a nest of dragon hunters alone.

Against nearly impossible odds and wavering doubt, Ember and Riley manage to free Garret from his cell. The trio makes it outside and are within 400 feet of the perimeter fence when the sirens blare. With no choice, Ember and Riley shift into dragon form. Garret climbs onto Ember’s back and the three take flight with a volley of gunshots behind them. The three are chased across the desert by the Order but come to a crash landing when Wes sees them and stops the van. Riley shifts back and Garret recovers but Ember lies motionless on the ground. Riley realizes that she has been shot and asks Wes to help get her into the back of the van. Garret offers his assistance and the three of them place Ember’s prone dragon body into the cargo area.With Ember’s head cradled in Garret’s lap, much to Riley’s dismay, the van speeds across the desert, leaving the Oder behind.

What is so special about Ember that Talon wants her back? How seriously has she been injured in their escape? Why did Riley/Cobalt go rogue? What was his job with Talon? Can Dante find his sister and convince her to return to Talon or will she be able to persuade her brother to go rogue? How did Riley and Wes hook up? Can Riley and Garret put aside their differences for Ember? Will the four of them be able to hide from both Talon and the Order? What happens when they are betrayed?

Book three in the Talon Saga is Soldier.

Visit Julie Kagawa's website.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Five hundred years ago, the Martials conquered the Scholar lands. Once the home to the world’s finest libraries and universities, the Scholar Empire is now enslaved and oppressed by the Martials. Now most of the people don’t know the difference between an armory and a school.

Laia’s parents and sister were killed by the Empire. She and her brother Darin live with their grandparents. When Darin sneaks back home in the hours before dawn one night, Laia confronts him about his sketchbook that she found. He wants to know if she said anything to Nan and Pop. She didn’t. He warns her not to tell a soul what she saw. It is too dangerous. Everyone’s life would be at risk. Laia asks if he is working for the Empire after all that they have done to their family. He is silent and Laia assumes the worse. Starting to berate him, Darin tells her that it isn’t what she thinks. Suddenly, he gets very quiet and whispers, “raid”. Daytime raids are held for the Empire to assert their dominance but nighttime raids are for covering up things that the Martials don’t want anyone to find out about. Laia questions why they are being raided if he is working for the Empire. He’s not and asks her to hide the sketchbook. It contains details about how the forges of Serra create the most precious asset of the Empire: “the unbreakable, curved scims that can cut through three men at once.” The Martials hoard their secrets of metalcraft and execute anyone who ventures too close to the forges. Laia wonders who Dariin is working for if not the Empire and how to get close enough to the forges to uncover their secrets. She drops the sketch book out of the window, into a bush.

Nan and Pop are now awake and tell their grandchildren to run for it. They will hold back the soldiers as best they can. They are to run through the backyard and hide in the east end of the Quarter. They all gasp when they catch sight of a liquid silver face outside of the window. A Mask awaits and that makes the situation even worse. There is more pounding on the front door along with an irritated voice. Darin comments that the voice can’t belong to the Mask and he and Laia exchange a look. If the Mask isn’t at the front door, where is he? Darin promises to keep her safe. They reach the back gate and Darin releases the latch. Darin pulls Laia behind him. Sensing nothing, Laia steps out and comes face to face with the Mask. The Mask subdues Darin and eyes Laia leerily. He takes them back into the house where Nan and Pop are bound and kneeling on the floor. Darin joins them but the Mask keeps Laia by his side. The Mask questions Darin about the sketchbook and threatens Nan. Laia tells him where to find it. A soldier retrieves it and the Mask flips through the pages. He wants to know about his association with the Resistance. Darin feigns ignorance. Some time in prison should loosen up his tongue, states the Mask. Pop speaks up, demanding that they leave the boy alone. In the blink of an eye, the Mask strikes down Pop. Nan screams and Laia knows that her grandfather is dead. Nan stumbles towards the Mask but he quickly slits her throat. Now, an hour before dawn, the Mask orders Darin taken away and the house burned to the ground. The Mask holds Laia’s gaze as the soldiers flanking her grin. Suddenly, Darin springs up, his bindings free, and tackles the Mask to the ground. The soldiers are stunned and Darin is able to grab’s the Mask’s knife before they can act. He yells at Laia to run and she knows if she stays, the Mask will rape and kill her. Backing away, the Mask notices Laia as Darin screams. He orders her brother to be taken to an interrogation cell and tells her to run. Laia flees into the night.

Running through the Quarter, Laia loses her pursuers. With no family left, she realizes that she has nowhere to go. Wandering the alleys of the Quarter, Laia notices a grate that leads to the catacombs of Serra. They are rumored to house the Scholars’ Resistance. If Laia can find them, maybe they can rescue Darin. Down in the catacombs, Laia feels like a hunted animal. Even though the Emperor states that the Scholars are free under his rule, they aren’t allowed to own property or attend school and live in fear of being enslaved. Only her thoughts of Darin keep her from going mad. After hours of literally feeling her way around, Laia hears a sound. Dropping to find a weapon, light floods the tunnel and she finds herself surrounded. A man’s voice asks a woman to check Laia for weapons. He calls her Sana and Laia realizes that it’s a Scholar name but she is too afraid to ask if they are part of the Resistance. She discovers Laia’s armband. Laia begs to keep it saying it is the only thing she has left of her mother’s. Suddenly, the leader, Keenan, realizes that they are about to be discovered by an aux patrol and the group goes to disperse. Sana doesn’t want to leave Laia behind but Keenan is steadfast in his refusal. He wants Sana to take Laia’s silver armband. Sana will not steal from her own people. She pushes Keenan and her hood falls back. Laia notices her tattoo and realizes that she is a part of the Resistance. Keenan says that now they must take Laia back with them.

The rebels take Laia back to their hideout. Taking off her blindfold, Keenan wants Sana to drug Laia and send her on her way. Sana thinks Laia looks familiar and Laia tells her that she sold jams at the market. Sana is about to ask why she was in the catacombs when Keenan voices his displeasure over Laia still being there. Someone lets it slip that Sana is the leader of the faction. Laia asks for help rescuing Darin but Keenan says that they are stretched too thin. Laia bravely says that it isn’t his decision. He looks her over and notices the armband. Keenan leaves to get someone named Mazen.

In the Quarter, no one knew who Laia’s parents were but someone in the Resistance is bound to notice her appearance. She stares at Sana’s tattoo because her father gave her mother the same one. Sana tells her the Resistance has changed. Mazen believes that they need to attack but Sana disagrees. Keenan comes back with Mazen. Laia interrupts by saying that he is the leader of the Resistance. She asks for his help since his men turned in Darin. Mazen looks to Keenan who confirms that two recruits were just found dead. He didn’t know what big thing they were working on. Laia keeps quiet over the sketchbook but pleads again. Mazen begins to walk off. Laia realizes that it is now or never. She tells Mazen who she truly is. Someone with the Resistance betrayed her parents and she has kept her identity a secret until now. Shocking everyone, the leaders of the divided factions of the Resistance meet privately to decide what to do. Mazen will attempt to free Darin if Laia agrees to spy on the commandant of Blackcliff.

Elias Veturia has been training with Helene Aquilla nearly every day for the past fourteen years at the Blackcliff Military Academy to become Masks. Helene is fiercely loyal to the Empire while Elias’ hatred of it grows by the day. He is making plans for desertion. They are both Senior Skulls and have just completed their last year of training. Elias’ Mask hasn’t melded to his skin yet, the only student not permanently marked. The reason is that he takes it off every chance he gets. The Commandant of the Academy is the only living female Mask until graduation the next day when Helene graduates. She is also Elias’ mother and they have a mutual hatred of one another..

Heir to Gens Veturia, Elias is a member of one of the oldest and most respected houses in the Empire. The first six years of his life were spent with the Tribesmen who taught him compassion and mercy instead of brutality and hatred. If he is successful, he would become the first student to desert after graduation. Elias has spent the past seven months planning his escape through the catacombs. At dinner that night, talk amongst the Senior Skulls turns to whether or not this will be the year the Augurs choose a new emperor. The current emperor is seventy with no heirs. Just like his grandfather, Elias doesn’t believe in their powers. Helene silently warns him to keep his doubts to himself. Soon, talk turns towards the morning’s execution of a ten year old student who ran. Marcus taunts Elias over his sympathy towards the traitor. Helene pleads with him to agree with Marcus and he finally relents. Marcus continues with his insults by calling Elias a bastard and talking about him deserting. (Elias has no idea who his father is.) Helene tells Elias to leave and cool off. Elias wonders how Marcus knows about his secret plans.

Outside, Elias wishes he could have seen Serra when it was still the capital of the Scholar Empire. Suddenly, a voice speaks at his side. “All things change Elias Veturius. You are no boy now, but a man, with a man’s burden upon your shoulders and a man’s choice ahead of you.” Elias places a dagger against his throat. Steady as a rock, his mind races as to where the man has come from Elias says, “Who the hell are you?” The man pulls off his hood and Elias finds himself in front of an Augur. The Augur knows of his beliefs about the them and his desertion plans. The Augur mentions that the price will be high. He is not there to punish Elias, his future will be punishment enough. The Augur tells Elias that they built Blackcliff 500 years earlier as a place to train the future emperor when the current line dies out. The Augurs know of Elias’ plans because of their ability to read minds. Knowing those plans, they knew that they would need to speak to him soon. This particular Augur, Cain, brought Elias to Blackcliff from his foster family. Cain tells Elias that he cannot escape his destiny. Tomorrow, Elias must make a choice; desertion or duty If he deserts, he will leave the Empire behind but his enemies will always hunt him. If he chooses duty, Elias will have a chance of unimaginable greatness and freedom. Elias will know his destiny when the time comes.

Who in the Resistance betrayed Laia’s parents? Will the Resistance be able to rescue Darin? Was Darin secretly working for them? Does Laia follow her parents’ lead and join the Resistance? Why does Mazen want a spy working for the Commandant? What are his plans? Who can Laia trust? What is Elias’ destiny? Why did the Augurs choose him? Will he choose to stay and face an uncertain future or will he run? Why does Helene help him? What is the story behind his mother? Why does she seem to hate him? Why was he chosen to be at Blackcliff? Who can Elias trust? What happens when Elias and Laia cross paths?

As of now, book two hasn’t been sold.

Visit Sabaa Tahir’s website.

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Heir by Kiera Cass (The Selection book 4)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the first three books in The Selection series, Stop! I don’t want to ruin the story for you.

“35 Suitors. 1 Princess. A new Selection has begun.”

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!!! It has been twenty years since Prince Maxon Schreave chose America Singer to be his wife during his Selection. Now it is their daughter’s turn. Born seven minutes before her twin brother Ahren, her parents’ changed the succession rules to allow Princess Eadlyn, their firstborn, to become queen. When King Maxon first decreed that the caste system be abolished, the citizens rejoiced. Now, the citizens of Illea are rioting and Maxon nor Eadlyn know how to bring back harmony. When her mother suggests that Eadlyn hold her own Selection as a way to rally the country, she is horrified. Scared, she confides in Ahren on how she feels. He suggests that she work out some reassurances with her father. In discussing her own Selection with her father, Eadlyn wants a guarantee that she can have an out if she doesn't find anyone. She also asks if any boy can leave of his own free will and her father assures her that they can. He gently reminds her that as heir to the throne, marriage and a heir are a part of her ruling responsibilities. She promises that she will continue the Selection for three months. Her father believes that she will find her mate during the process. Eadlyn is not ready for thirty-five guys to invade her space. She is ready to find a way to make sure none of them want to stay.

It turns out, Eadlyn is a bit self absorbed. A young princess with the future weight of Illea on her shoulders, she likes to goes off alone to regroup. Preoccupied by only herself, she misses what is really going on with the people around her. Eadlyn cannot stand the Woodwick children who just happen to live on the same floor as the royal family. Josie, a few years younger, annoys her and her older brother Kile, is a bookworm that Eadlyn finds boring. King Maxon allows Eadlyn a luxury he didn’t have, she gets to choose the names of the Selected. She draws one envelope from each district and saves them to be opened during the Report. Opening the envelope from her home district of Angeles last, everyone in the palace is stunned when she opens the envelope and reads Kile Woodwick’s name. Once they are off the air, tensions soon rise. Kile claims that he didn’t enter his name. Eadlyn is furious and Kile tells her to choose another name. General Leger says that she can’t since the name was read on live television. Kile tells Eadlyn to eliminate him on the first day. She asks where does he plan on going since he will already be home. Kile offers to be sent away but his mother is adamant that he stay. Eadlyn is floored that he wants to leave, asking if the palace isn’t good enough for him. He retorts that it isn’t his and he is tired of her bratty attitude. King Maxon states that Kile is just one of several options and they should just go ahead to dinner. Eadlyn retreats to her room.

When the Selected arrive, Eadlyn meets each one individually. Several make either a really good or really bad impression. It is decided to hold a parade to unveil the boys to the public. Everything is going well until just before the end of the parade route. Eadlyn is hit with rotten food. The protesters on the route are demanding better jobs and saying the caste system still exists. She and the Selected are rushed back to the palace.Embarrassed,  Eadlyn runs to her room and cries on her maid’s shoulder. She doesn’t understand why everyone hates her. The Selection isn’t turning out as they expected it to. Ahren comforts her but lets Eadlyn know that she is seen as very aloof in the press. In an attempt to get some good press, Eadlyn decides to eliminate some of the boys. She keeps Kile because his mother wants him to stay around. The way she goes about it only further cements her distant demeanor with the public. Eadlyn is now in damage control mode but finds that some of the Selected might actually be worth knowing.

Can Eadlyn change her self-centered ways? Will Kile stay for the Selection or will he leave of his own free will? If he didn’t enter his own name, who did? Can the people of Illea move past the caste system? Does Eadlyn run off most of the boys chosen to participate? How will Eadlyn change the public’s perceived notion of her? Can she change her own perception of herself? Will any of the Selected capture Eadlyn’s cold heart? What happens when Eadlyn realizes the Selection is such a bad idea after all?

Eadlyn’s story will be wrapped up with book five of The Selection series in 2016.  Fans of the series will love seeing how their favorite characters from America’s Selection have grown over the past twenty years.

Visit Kiera Cass’ website.