Summary: A siege is laid against the last resistance to the Senate’s rule. As the battle rages, a commander, a soldier, and a rebel will decide how far they are willing to go for victory. THE COMMANDER Marcus is forced to choose between destroying the rebel forces and liberating his legion. He must face the true cost of being a leader. And an oppressor. THE SOLDIER Agrippa sets his sights on glory to fill the deepening void within him. He discovers that the price of fame might not just be paid in blood, it might be paid by his heart. THE REBEL Silvara joins the rebel forces to fight against the legions who would see her family dead. While she dreams of being a warrior, she finds her sharpest weapon is seduction. But to defeat the Empire, she’ll have to betray the young man who now has her heart. DEFIANCE IS TREASON. TREASON IS DEATH. Inspired by the harsh world of ancient Rome, readers are obsessed with this martial tale of fiery romance, friendship, and enmity. Told from three points of view, Tarnished Empire is filled with twists you’ll never see coming but will keep you turning the pages all night. Tarnished Empire is set in the world of Danielle L. Jensen’s Dark Shores. But readers new to the world can begin here.
Review: Tarnished Empire is a prequel to my beloved Dark Shores series. This follows Marcus, who we meet in the first book and Agrippa who I won’t get into specifics about. I enjoyed this book. It’s written in the Danielle Jensen fashion where the story is full of action and excitement, but there’s an emotional upheaval and resolution to the story as well. We get all of those things in this book. I was happy to read this and get new content set in one of my favorite worlds. I don’t know that it added all that much extra to the overall story, but I had fun while reading it and I definitely enjoyed my time spend reading.
Summary: A queen now in exile as a traitor, Lara has watched Ithicana be conquered by her own father, helpless to do anything to stop the destruction. But when she learns her husband, Aren, has been captured in battle, Lara knows there is only one reason her father is keeping him alive: as bait for his traitorous daughter. And it is bait she fully intends to take. Risking her life to the Tempest Seas, Lara returns to Ithicana with a plan not only to free its king, but for liberating the Bridge Kingdom from her father’s clutches using his own weapons: the sisters whose lives she spared. But not only is the palace inescapable, there are more players in the game than Lara ever realized, enemies and allies switching sides in the fight for crowns, kingdoms, and bridges. But her greatest adversary of all might be the very man she’s trying to free – the husband she betrayed. With everything she loves in jeopardy, Lara must decide who – and what – she is fighting for: her kingdom, her husband, or herself.
Review: I really enjoyed The Bridge Kingdom, but holy shit I absolutely loved The Traitor Queen. This book starts off right where The Bridge Kingdom ended, which I was happy about. I don’t love when books skip a bunch of time and start six months after the end of the first book. We’re immediately thrown back into the world, and this is a world at war. Lara’s father had invaded and taken over the Bridge. He’s holding Aren captive and even though Aren has sworn to kill Lara if he ever sees her again, she’s determined to find a way to rescue him. From there, the story unfolds and chaos ensues. Lara is still pretty similar to the cunning and ruthless main character that I loved from the first book. But with the growth that she had from learning of her father’s lies and deception, she’s feeling guilt and a need for penance. I thought this was really interesting for her character because it wasn’t how we knew her to act in the first book. Also, we really get to see her fight and use the skills that she’d been trained in for most of her life and I absolutely loved seeing that. Aren is dealing with an internal struggle that’s ironically similar to Lara’s from the first book. He loves Lara, but she’s now known as the Traitor Queen, so they cannot be together. Despite knowing all this, he can’t stop loving her and he can’t seem to let her go. I still liked Aren in this book. He was a bit colder, but understandably so since he’d been betrayed after opening the secrets of his kingdom to his wife. I really enjoyed his personal struggle of not being able to let Lara go, even though his people would likely never accept her. I didn’t have the same issue of predictability with The Traitor Queen that I did for the first book. As I predicted, there were lots of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. The storyline wasn’t nearly as easy to guess and while there were a few things that I saw coming, there were way more that I didn’t. We also got to see more of the world, which was something I was hoping for. We see Lara’s country while they’re trying to rescue Aren and then afterward, they travel to another kingdom to seek an alliance before returning to Aden’s kingdom (I’m not naming any of these places only because I couldn’t spell them to save my life and I’m typing this review on my phone while the story is still fresh in my mind.) Overall, I absolutely loved and devoured this story. There were some scenes of a romantic nature that had me absolutely screaming. I also enjoyed the way the story wrapped up. It seemed as if this was a nice ending for Aren and Lara. And even though things were rather smoothly wrapped up, Jensen made the characters work for that satisfying ending. I’m wondering if the future books in the series are going to be following other characters because this felt like a conclusion to Aren and Lara’s story. But I could be wrong about that. Either way, I will be anxiously awaiting the next installment of the series.
Summary: A warrior princess trained in isolation, Lara is driven by two certainties. The first is that King Aren of the Bridge Kingdom is her enemy. And the second is that she’ll be the one to bring him to his knees. The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom enriches itself and deprives its rivals, including Lara’s homeland. So when she’s sent as a bride under the guise of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture its impenetrable defenses. And the defenses of its king. Yet as she infiltrates her new home and gains a deeper understanding of the war to possess the bridge, Lara begins to question whether she’s the hero or the villain. And as her feelings for Aren transform from frosty hostility to fierce passion, Lara must choose which kingdom she’ll save… and which kingdom she’ll destroy.
Review: After absolutely loving Jensen’s Dark Shores series, I knew I wanted to try some of her other books as well. Antonia bought me The Bridge Kingdom and its sequel for my birthday. Now that it’s cold and I’m in the mood for fantasy again, I thought it would be the perfect time for some new fantasy to love. The Bridge Kingdom follows Lara and Aren in alternating perspectives. Lara is a princess that’s been sent to marry Aren, a King, as a part of an alliance treaty that was agreed upon fifteen years ago. What Aren doesn’t know, is that for the last 10 years, Lara has been trained in every area possible so that she can spy and infiltrate his kingdom and spill its secrets to her father. But Lara is learning that she wasn’t raised in isolation in the desert just to keep others from learning things about her and her sisters, but also so that she wouldn’t know the truth of her own kingdom. She finds herself torn between the truth of Aren’s kingdom and its people and destroying them for the sake of her own people. Lara was a great main character. She’s fierce and cunning, clever and ruthless. It was really compelling to follow her indecision once she starts to really spend time with Aren and his people. When she sees their struggles and imagines what would happen if she were to fulfill her father’s plan, she’s torn between her mission and her heart. I thought that this was a really interesting inner conflict for her. Aren was also a great main character. I liked that we got his point of view alongside Lara’s. He’s a really good king and he just genuinely wants the best for his people. He worries that his choices aren’t the right ones, but he also tries new things to see how he can improve the lives of his subjects. I loved seeing him take charge and flex his authority when he needed to. But I also loved seeing his softer side, giving in when Lara is panicking on the water for example. He was a really well-developed character. The plot of the story was a little predictable, but I honestly didn’t mind that. I definitely guessed most of the things that were hinted at right from the get go. I still had a good time following the story as the chaos unfolded. I think the next book will have a lot more opportunities to surprise me with the plot. The world was interesting, but I’d like to have seen more of it. There was a lot of emphasis on the histories that these countries have, but I don’t really remember it being explained why all of these kingdoms were always at war with each other. It very well might have all just been because of the bridge. I wanted to know more about the bridge too. Was it always there? Did someone build it? I would have loved to have even heard some folklore or myths about the bridge. Overall, this was an interesting and well-told story. I really liked the main character as well as their supporting characters. I think the world was interesting enough and easy to learn about. I will definitely be continuing this series and reading Jensen’s other backlist books.
Hey, lovelies! I’ve had this post idea on my list of ideas for what feels like forever. I’m here today to finally attempt it. I’m not sure how this post will do, but I’m excited to share some of the reasons that I adore the Dark Shores series. Just as a disclaimer, I will not be sharing anything that is a spoiler. I will be talking about all three published books in the series, but nothing with spoilers.
First off, a bit about this book and series. There are currently three published books in this series. Dark Shores, Dark Skies, and Gilded Serpent. I’ve read the first two books more than once. I also was lucky enough to read all three books when they were advanced copies. These books easily became favorites by the time I finished them. I gave all three books 5 stars and I don’t foresee that changing with the fourth and final book, Scorched Earth, which is coming December 2022.
“In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West. A SAILOR WITH A WILL OF IRON. Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences. A SOLDIER WITH A SECRET. Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world. A DANGEROUS QUEST. When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.”
A fun fact about this series: the first two books in this series can be read in two ways. The first book follows Teriana and Marcus. The second book follows Lydia and Killian. But both of these books are happening at the same time. So, you could start reading this series with either Dark Shores or Dark Skies before moving onto whichever you didn’t start with. I’ve never seen this done with any other books, so, I think that’s such an interesting thing about the series.
“A RUNAWAY WITH A HIDDEN PAST. Lydia is a scholar, but books are her downfall when she meddles in the plots of the most powerful man in the Celendor Empire. Her life in danger, she flees west to the far side of the Endless Seas and finds herself entangled in a foreign war where her burgeoning powers are sought by both sides. A COMMANDER IN DISGRACE. Killian is Marked by the God of War, but his gifts fail him when the realm under the dominion of the Corrupter invades Mudamora. Disgraced, he swears his sword to the kingdom’s only hope: the crown princess. But the choice sees him caught up in a web of political intrigue that will put his oath – and his heart – to the test. A KINGDOM UNDER SIEGE. With Mudamora falling beneath the armies of the Corrupter, Lydia and Killian strike a bargain to save those they love most—but it is a bargain with unintended and disastrous consequences. Truths are revealed, birthrights claimed, and loyalties questioned—all while a menace deadlier and more far-reaching than they realize sweeps across the world.”
I think you should read this series because if you don’t love Teriana and Marcus (which you absolutely will), then you will definitely love Lydia and Killian. Or the other way around. I think Teriana is my favorite character in the series with Killian as a close second. Teriana is essentially a princess. She’s the Maarin heir. I very easily fell in love with the Maarin culture and people. These people are the only ones that know about both the Celendor Empire and Mudamora. Seeing her internal battle of keeping the secrets of her people and saving the lives of her crew and mother was such an emotional journey.
“THEIR BATTLES ENDED IN VICTORY. Lydia returns to Mudaire to enter training at the healing temple. But instead of fighting to save lives, she’s convinced she is doing more harm than good. She delves into the history of the gods only to discover a truth that will change her life forever. His birthright as commander of the Royal Army is finally in his grasp, but Killian feels anything but victorious. Burdened by his past, he embraces the darker side of his mark—and in doing so, risks starting a war. BUT THE WAR HAS ONLY JUST BEGUN. Having defeated the tyrant Urcon, Marcus struggles to form a lasting alliance with the Arinoquians. But he is plagued by the knowledge that there is a traitor among his friends, and it could cost him everything that he’s fought for. Torn between her growing allegiance to the Thirty-Seventh legion and her need to liberate her people, Teriana finds herself mired in a web of secrets. She embarks upon a path that will either save everyone she loves—or put them all in their graves.”
Killian is from Mudamora, so we learn most of what we know about their culture and people from him. We learn about the mythology of their gods (which is another one of my favorite things about this series.) Killian is Marked by the God of War. But things aren’t going so well for him. He’s disappointing his family. He’s letting the Corrupter win, or that’s what it feels like to him anyway. Killian is a character that feels as if every responsibility is on his shoulders. Everything is his burden to bare and no one else’s. I really liked that even though Killian was Marked by the God of War, he showed us that he was more than that. After losing an important battle, he’s assigned to guard the princess and it’s there that he shows his cleverness for politics. But once he’s living in the city, we also see how incredibly kind he is.
The covers for this series are absolutely incredible. I remember seeing Dark Shores and thinking ‘wow, what a beautiful cover’ and now we have one for book four (pictured to the right) which I didn’t know had been revealed. It literally took my breath away for a second when I first saw it. All four covers for this series are stunning. They just keep getting better and better. My library has the whole series, but I love the books and the covers so much that I had to buy physical copies for my bookshelves so that I could display them. I know I should talk more about the content of the series, but I just really had to mention my infatuation with these covers. Let me know what you think of them!
This is a fantasy series, but there is some excellent romance included. It’s a little obvious that the romantic interests are Teriana with Marcus and Lydia with Killian (though there are plot twists with Lydia and Killian that make it even better.) It took a bit longer for me to get invested in the romance between Teriana and Marcus because Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh legion. So, this was sort of a romance between a soldier and a prisoner of his government, which I didn’t always love. But once the 37th legion is out of the Celendor Empire, we really get to know them as people. They are more than unwilling soldiers trying to do their job. It was definitely easier to like Lydia and Killian together (I think they are my favorite couple from the series), but I did really love Teriana and Marcus by the end of the first book and again when we see them in book three.
If you’ve read this far, thank you for sticking with me and my love for these books. I want to mention that there isn’t yet a synopsis for the fourth book. But that cover, oh boy. I also want to mention the prequel book, Tarnished Empire. This is a full length novel that’s marked as Dark Shores 0.5, but on Jensen’s website, she’s said to read it before Gilded Serpent, but if you’re new to this series, you could start with this book as it’s set a few years before Dark Shores and follows Marcus. But you should read it before Gilded Serpent because it follows a character we meet in the third book.
“A siege is laid against the last resistance to the Senate’s rule. As the battle rages, a commander, a soldier, and a rebel will decide how far they are willing to go for victory. THE COMMANDER. Marcus is forced to choose between destroying the rebel forces and liberating his legion. He must face the true cost of being a leader. And an oppressor. THE SOLDIER. Agrippa sets his sights on glory to fill the deepening void within him. He discovers that the price of fame might not just be paid in blood, it might be paid by his heart. THE REBEL. Silvara joins the rebel forces to fight against the legions who would see her family dead. While she dreams of being a warrior, she finds her sharpest weapon is seduction. But to defeat the Empire, she’ll have to betray the young man who now has her heart. DEFIANCE IS TREASON. TREASON IS DEATH. Inspired by the harsh world of ancient Rome, readers are obsessed with this martial tale of fiery romance, friendship, and enmity. Told from three points of view, Tarnished Empire is filled with twists you’ll never see coming but will keep you turning the pages all night. Tarnished Empire is set in the world of Danielle L. Jensen’s Dark Shores. But readers new to the world can begin here.”
I actually haven’t read Tarnished Empire yet because I found it after I’d already reread the first two books and read Gilded Serpent. I was in a bit of a reading slump at the time, so I saved it. I’m glad I did because now I can read it this fall. It says in the synopsis that it has three points of view, which is one of the other things I loved and wanted to talk about with the other books. Dark Shores and Dark Skies both follow two points of view. Teriana and Marcus for the first book. Lydia and Killian for the second book. But when we get to Gilded Serpent, we are following all four perspectives. I was excited about this but mildly worried that it would be too many. I’m happy to report that it absolutely wasn’t. The four perspectives worked really well for the third book, especially since the four characters hadn’t all come together yet. So, we get to see all the things that have to happen for them to finally come together toward the end of Gilded Serpent. I think there was enough build up and anticipation to keep me from getting bored with any one point of view. I’m very excited to read the final book with the four points of view, as well as, Tarnished Empire, which has three points of view.
Alright, that’s what I have for you all. Some of the reasons that I love this series. The world is fascinating. The romance is to die for. The characters are well developed and (mostly) easy to love. And I still can’t get over those covers. Please let me know your thoughts on this post. I’ve never done a ‘review’ like this before, so I’m interested to see what you all think of it! Have you read this series or any books by this author?
Hey, lovelies! I know we all get excited talking about the newest releases or books that are soon to be published, but I honestly really love sharing backlist recommendations. There are so many books that are already out in the world that I love with my whole heart. I have so much fun sharing those titles with people looking for new books that are already in the world, books that they can go get from most bookstores or their library right now. So, today I have some backlist books that have less than 5,000 ratings on GoodReads. I want to highlight these specifically because, in my opinion, they deserve way more attention.
The Final Six by Alexandra Monir 4,471 ratings “When Leo, an Italian championship swimmer, and Naomi, a science genius from California, are two of the twenty-four teens drafted into the International Space Training Camp, their lives are forever altered. After erratic climate change has made Earth a dangerous place to live, the fate of the population rests on the shoulders of the final six who will be scouting a new planet. Intense training, global scrutiny, and cutthroat opponents are only a few of the hurdles the contestants must endure in this competition. For Leo, the prospect of traveling to Europa—Jupiter’s moon—to help resettle humankind is just the sense of purpose he’s been yearning for since losing his entire family in the flooding of Rome. Naomi, after learning of a similar space mission that mysteriously failed, suspects the ISTC isn’t being up front with them about what’s at risk. As the race to the final six advances, the tests get more challenging—even deadly. With pressure mounting, Naomi finds an unexpected friend in Leo, and the two grow closer with each mind-boggling experience they encounter. But it’s only when the finalists become fewer and their destinies grow nearer that the two can fathom the full weight of everything at stake: the world, the stars, and their lives.”
Dark Shoresby Danielle L. Jensen 3,781 ratings “High seas adventure, blackmail, and meddling gods meet in Dark Shores, a thrilling first novel in a fast-paced new YA fantasy series by USA Today bestselling author Danielle L. Jensen. In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West. A SAILOR WITH A WILL OF IRON Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences. A SOLDIER WITH A SECRET Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world. A DANGEROUS QUEST When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.”
The Epic Crush of Genie Loby F.C. Yee 3,222 ratings “Genie Lo is one among droves of Ivy-hopeful overachievers in her sleepy Bay Area suburb. You know, the type who wins. When she’s not crushing it at volleyball or hitting the books, Genie is typically working on how to crack the elusive Harvard entry code. But when her hometown comes under siege from hellspawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are dramatically rearranged. Enter Quentin Sun, a mysterious new kid in class who becomes Genie’s self-appointed guide to battling demons. While Genie knows Quentin only as an attractive transfer student with an oddly formal command of the English language, in another reality he is Sun Wukong, the mythological Monkey King incarnate—right down to the furry tail and penchant for peaches. Suddenly, acing the SATs is the least of Genie’s worries. The fates of her friends, family, and the entire Bay Area all depend on her summoning an inner power that Quentin assures her is strong enough to level the very gates of Heaven. But every second Genie spends tapping into the secret of her true nature is a second in which the lives of her loved ones hang in the balance.”
Do You Dream of Terra-Two?by Temi Oh 2,857 ratings “When an Earth-like planet is discovered, a team of six teens, along with three veteran astronauts, embark on a twenty-year trip to set up a planet for human colonization—but find that space is more deadly than they ever could have imagined. Have you ever hoped you could leave everything behind? Have you ever dreamt of a better world? Can a dream sustain a lifetime? A century ago, an astronomer discovered an Earth-like planet orbiting a nearby star. She predicted that one day humans would travel there to build a utopia. Today, ten astronauts are leaving everything behind to find it. Four are veterans of the twentieth century’s space-race. And six are teenagers who’ve trained for this mission most of their lives. It will take the team twenty-three years to reach Terra-Two. Twenty-three years locked in close quarters. Twenty-three years with no one to rely on but each other. Twenty-three years with no rescue possible, should something go wrong. And something always goes wrong.”
All the Bad Applesby Moira Fowley-Doyle 2,788 ratings “The day after the funeral all our mourning clothes hung out on the line like sleeping bats. ‘This will be really embarrassing,’ I kept saying to my family, ‘when she shows up at the door in a week or two.’ When Deena’s wild and mysterious sister Mandy disappears – presumed dead – her family are heartbroken. But Mandy has always been troubled. It’s just another bad thing to happen to Deena’s family. Only Deena refuses to believe it’s true. And then the letters start arriving. Letters from Mandy, claiming that their family’s blighted history is not just bad luck or bad decisions – but a curse, handed down through the generations. Mandy has gone in search of the curse’s roots, and now Deena must find her. What they find will heal their family’s rotten past – or rip it apart forever.
The How and the Why by Cynthia Hand 2,515 ratings “A poignant exploration of family and the ties that bind, perfect for fans of Far From the Tree, from New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand. Today Melly had us writing letters to our babies… Cassandra McMurtrey has the best parents a girl could ask for. They’ve given Cass a life she wouldn’t trade for the world. She has everything she needs—except maybe the one thing she wants. Like, to know who she is. Where she came from. Questions her adoptive parents can’t answer, no matter how much they love her. But eighteen years ago, someone wrote Cass a series of letters. And they may just hold the answers Cass has been searching for. Alternating between Cass’s search for answers and letters from the pregnant teen who gave her up for adoption, this voice-driven narrative is the perfect read for fans of Nina LaCour and Jandy Nelson.”
The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin 1,807 ratings “Mean Girls meets The Tudors in Hannah Capin’s The Dead Queens Club, a clever contemporary YA retelling of Henry VIII and his wives (or, in this case, his high school girlfriends). Told from the perspective of Annie Marck (“Cleves”), a 17-year-old aspiring journalist from Cleveland who meets Henry at summer camp, The Dead Queens Club is a fun, snarky read that provides great historical detail in an accessible way for teens while giving the infamous tale of Henry VIII its own unique spin. What do a future ambassador, an overly ambitious Francophile, a hospital-volunteering Girl Scout, the new girl from Cleveland, the junior cheer captain, and the vice president of the debate club have in common? It sounds like the ridiculously long lead-up to an astoundingly absurd punchline, right? Except it’s not. Well, unless my life is the joke, which is kind of starting to look like a possibility given how beyond soap opera it’s been since I moved to Lancaster. But anyway, here’s your answer: we’ve all had the questionable privilege of going out with Lancaster High School’s de facto king. Otherwise known as my best friend. Otherwise known as the reason I’ve already helped steal a car, a jet ski, and one hundred spray-painted water bottles when it’s not even Christmas break yet. Otherwise known as Henry. Jersey number 8. Meet Cleves. Girlfriend number four and the narrator of The Dead Queens Club, a young adult retelling of Henry VIII and his six wives. Cleves is the only girlfriend to come out of her relationship with Henry unscathed—but most breakups are messy, right? And sometimes tragic accidents happen…twice…”
The Scapegracersby Hannah Abigail Clarke 1,142 ratings “An outcast teenage lesbian witch finds her coven and the friends she’s always hoped for hidden amongst the popular girls in her school, and performs some seriously badass magic in the process. Hannah Abigail Clarke is here and queer, etc. They have been published in the Portland Review and PRISM International. They graduate college at Miami University of Ohio in May.”
The Fell of the Darkby Caleb Roehrig 999 ratings “The only thing August Pfeiffer hates more than algebra is living in a vampire town. Located at a nexus of mystical energy fields, Fulton Heights is practically an electromagnet for supernatural drama. And when a mysterious (and annoyingly hot) vampire boy arrives with a cryptic warning, Auggie suddenly finds himself at the center of it. An ancient and terrible power is returning to the earthly realm, and somehow Auggie seems to be the only one who can stop it.”
The Black Veinsby Aisha Monet 505 ratings “In a world where magic thrives in secret city corners, a group of magicians embark on a road trip—and it’s the “no-love-interest”, found family adventure you’ve been searching for. Sixteen-year-old Blythe is one of seven Guardians: magicians powerful enough to cause worldwide panic with a snap of their fingers. But Blythe spends her days pouring latte art at her family’s coffee shop, so why should she care about having apocalyptic abilities? She’s given a reason when magician anarchists crash into said coffee shop and kidnap her family. Heartbroken but determined, Blythe knows she can’t save them alone. A war is brewing between two magician governments and tensions are too high. So, she packs up her family’s bright yellow Volkswagen, puts on a playlist, and embarks on a road trip across the United States to enlist the help of six strangers whose abilities are unparalleled—the other Guardians.”
These are ten books that I really love with less than 5,000 ratings on GoodReads. I really enjoyed all of these and I highly recommend them. So, I thought I would make this post to hopefully send more readers their way. Let me know if you’ve read any of these!
Hey, lovelies! One of my favorite types of bookish posts and/or videos is the ‘if you liked this book, then try that book.’ So, last year I tried some of my own and I really had fun picking books to compare to one another. Which is why I’m back today with another one. Let’s get right into it!
If you liked The Cruel Prince by Holly Black, you should try The Iron King by Julie Kagawa. The Cruel Prince follows Jude. Jude is a human living in the Fairie courts. She is determined to prove herself. So, naturally, she becomes involved in the courts politics and the games that the fey play. She must prove that she belongs there by defying the prince, Cardan. While this wasn’t my favorite series with fey in it, it’s definitely a fun enemies to lovers story. The Iron King follows Meghan Chase as she’s thrust into the world of the Fey. She learns that she is the daughter of Oberon and that the courts are in danger. War is coming and Meghan might just be the person to stop it. These books both follow humans (or half-human for Meghan) that are taken into the world of the Fey. They Fey are a cruel people and that’s shown in both series. But I think it’s done better in The Iron Fey series. Meghan is a little annoying, but she has great growth. Personally, I found The Cruel Prince lacking, especially the final book. But with The Iron King, each book just got better and better.
If you liked The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, you might like Red Rising by Pierce Brown. The Hunger Games follows Katniss as she volunteers for the Hunger Games to save her sisters life. Each year 12 people are selected to compete in the Hunger Games, a vicious battle to the death. Two people from each district, and when Prim’s name is called, Katniss takes her place. It’s a story of survival in a brutal world. Red Rising follows Darrow. Darrow is a Red, the lowest caste. After the death of his wife, he joins the rebellion and infiltrates the Golds, the highest caste. He’s learned that everything he knew about the world has been a lie and he’s ready to burn it down. Both of these stories are ones of survival. But as the series continue, they both become stories about overthrowing a government that is mistreating its people, that’s keeping them separate, lower. They’re both filled with characters that just want things to change for their people. They see a chance to make that change happen, so they take it.
If you liked Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson, you will probably like A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro. Truly Devious follows Stevie as she starts attending the well known Ellingham Academy. Shortly after the school was opened the founder’s wife and daughter were kidnapped and never seen again. Stevie has decided that at Ellingham, she is going to solve this unsolved crime, one of the greatest in history. While she’s researching this, mysterious things start happening in the present. Now Stevie may have more than one mystery to solve. A Study in Charlotte is a Sherlock Holmes retelling following Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes who are the descendents of the original Holmes and Watson. They meet at boarding school and quickly have their own mystery to solve. Both of these series follow characters at a boarding school. Both follow characters that are trying to solve a murder. Both also have really great mental health representations. They both have characters that don’t always make the best choice, but you can’t help but root for them anyway.
If you liked The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco, you should try For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig. The Bone Witch follows Tea who has resurrected her brother. She has the gift of necromancy, which means she is a bone witch, a title that isn’t looked upon very nicely. Tea goes to learn to hone her asha abilities, but there is a darkness coming and Tea if forced to make some hard decisions. For a Muse of Fire is the story of Jetta. She and her family are shadow players. They put on a show with puppets behind a scrim. Their show is said to be as if their puppets aren’t being controlled by strings. That is because they’re not. Jetta is a necromancer. This means that with her blood she can bind souls to things. So, she binds them to her puppets. But the rebellion is growing and Jetta doesn’t want to hide her abilities anymore. I compare these two for the obvious reason, their main characters are both necromancers. And necromancers are forbidden or looked down upon. Aside from this, both of these series are set in diverse worlds, with diverse characters, and they talk about heavy, but important, topics. I highly recommend both of these trilogies.
If you liked All the Stars and Teethby Adalyn Grace, you might like Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen. All the Stars and Teeth is the story of Amora Montara. She’s the princess of Visidia, but to claim the title of heir to the throne she must master soul magic and gain the title of High Animancer. When things don’t go how she’s practiced, she flees the capital. This is when we meet Bastian. This is Amora’s first time seeing the rest of her kingdom and she learns that her father has been hiding things from her. There is unrest and Amora must find a way to fix things before she can claim her place on the throne. Dark Shores tells Teriana’s story. Teriana is the heir to the Maarin Triumvirate, essentially a princess. The Maarin are the only people in the world that know the entirety of the world. The East doesn’t know about the Dark Shores and the Dark Shores doesn’t know about the East, only the Maarin know. But when Maarin ships are being captured and held by the East, Teriana agrees to share what she knows and show Legatus Marcus of the 37th legion how to get to the Dark Shores. These stories are both part pirate stories and part princess stories. Both female leads are trying to figure out what it means to lead when everything around them is falling apart. They also both spend a significant amount of time sailing on ships. They both have really interesting worlds and magic systems. I do have to say that while I did really enjoy All the Stars and Teeth, I am majorly obsessed with the Dark Shores series.
These are the recommendations that I have for you all today. As always, these recommendations go both ways. Let me know if you’re read any of these or what you think of my comparisons?
Summary: THEIR BATTLES ENDED IN VICTORY Lydia returns to Mudaire to enter training at the healing temple. But instead of fighting to save lives, she’s convinced she is doing more harm than good. She delves into the history of the gods only to discover a truth that will change her life forever. His birthright as commander of the Royal Army is finally in his grasp, but Killian feels anything but victorious. Burdened by his past, he embraces the darker side of his mark—and in doing so, risks starting a war. BUT THE WAR HAS ONLY JUST BEGUN Having defeated the tyrant Urcon, Marcus struggles to form a lasting alliance with the Arinoquians. But he is plagued by the knowledge that there is a traitor among his friends, and it could cost him everything that he’s fought for. Torn between her growing allegiance to the Thirty-Seventh legion and her need to liberate her people, Teriana finds herself mired in a web of secrets. She embarks upon a path that will either save everyone she loves—or put them all in their graves.
Review: Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with an eARC of Gilded Serpents in exchange for complete honesty about how much this book destroyed me. I reread both book one and book two via the audiobooks (which were really great and I recommend them!!) so the world and characters were fresh in my mind when I started this book. Jensen somehow managed to give me all of the things to make my heart happier than it’s ever been for these characters and yet still rip it still beating right out of my chest. In Gilded Serpents, the four characters that we’ve come to love so very much in the first two books, Teriana, Marcus, Lydia, and Killian, all have their own points of view. And much like how book one and book two paralleled one another with their timelines, book three does that as well. But one of the most interesting things that I noticed was how the events of Marcus and Teriana’s journey paralleled events of Killian and Lydia’s journey. There were times during the story that both pairs were doing the same or similar things, like staying at an inn for example, and I thought that was such a fun aspect of the story. I just want these four to finally all meet up so badly I could scream. I also want to say, there’s a secret that’s finally revealed in this book that I’ve been suspecting since reading Lydia’s book (Dark Skies) and I’m not surprised that I was right but I was happy to have it confirmed. I also really loved that the characters are finally learning things. While Lydia learned where Teriana was in Dark Skies, Teriana has no idea that everyone thinks Lydia dead. So, secrets are revealed in this one and they are juicy. Now, all four of these characters have grown immensely throughout their journeys so far. Lydia, while no expert swordswoman, has learned to defend herself. She’s also learned an incredible amount about her magic. She’s smart and determined, clever and stubborn, fierce and passionate. I love her so much. She’s grown so much from the timid patrician girl we knew in Dark Shores. Teriana’s story is filled with inner conflict. She’s in love with her enemy and that has some obvious challenges. She’s done nothing but make hard choices since this series started and that doesn’t change in this book. She’s faced with more hard choices, but I was delighted to see her find some moments of happiness. I think what I love most about Teriana is that she always stays positive. Even when she’s carrying another human being to what could likely be her death. She suffers and struggles, but doesn’t let those challenges win. Marcus is a tough character for me. I go back and forth between loving him and really disliking him (much like Teriana). He is the Legatus of the 37th legion. But these men are more than just his subordinates, they’re his family. Marcus also faces many challenges in this book. He must make hard choices regarding his men. He’s put in situations where he has to face his fears and others where his internal battle of what’s right versus what’s being ordered. I think I ultimately will love him. But I’ll still probably flip flop back and forth again during the next book. Killian is my favorite. He’s a Marked warrior, so he’s strong, fast, skilled, and very smart when it comes to battle. But he faces a struggle of heart versus duty. (There is another parallel!) With Killian it’s different though because, as the reader, I know a secret that will change everything. Though once that secret is out, we didn’t get to see much after that. Killian’s dark path isn’t over yet, but he will forever fight to keep his loved ones and his kingdom safe. He’s loyal and full of love, compassionate and intelligent. He’s absolutely someone you’d want on your side. Overall, I loved this book just as much as the first two. It was nice not to have to wonder as much about what was happening to the other couple because we were getting all of their points of view. I really liked that the chapters are short and still left me wanting more from each character. I also have to mention the world. We see three places, four if you include the ocean, in the first two books. But in this one, we find out more about other kingdoms and we get to see the mysterious Darin. We also get to see more Marked Ones that are marked by different Gods. I love the magic in this series and it was really interesting getting to see more of the abilities bestowed from other Gods. The only thing I didn’t like was the cliff hanger and that’s only because there isn’t even a cover for book four yet. I face the eternal bookworm struggle of suffering to wait for the next book in the series. I cannot recommend this series enough. It’s full of diverse character that you just can’t help falling in love with.
A RUNAWAY WITH A HIDDEN PAST
Lydia is a scholar, but books are her downfall when she meddles in the plots of the most powerful man in the Celendor Empire. Her life in danger, she flees west to the far side of the Endless Seas and finds herself entangled in a foreign war where her burgeoning powers are sought by both sides.
A COMMANDER IN DISGRACE
Killian is Marked by the God of War, but his gifts fail him when the realm under the dominion of the Corrupter invades Mudamora. Disgraced, he swears his sword to the kingdom’s only hope: the crown princess. But the choice sees him caught up in a web of political intrigue that will put his oath – and his heart – to the test.
A KINGDOM UNDER SIEGE
With Mudamora falling beneath the armies of the Corrupter, Lydia and Killian strike a bargain to save those they love most—but it is a bargain with unintended and disastrous consequences. Truths are revealed, birthrights claimed, and loyalties questioned—all while a menace deadlier and more far-reaching than they realize sweeps across the world. Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. I was a little worried when I got approved for this one. I don’t remember all that much from the first book, (Dark Shores) aside from the fact that I totally loved it. So, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to jump right into this one, but I saw on GoodReads that the author made a statement that Dark Shores and Dark Skies can be read interchangeably. I thought that was super interesting, so I just jumped right into this one.
We follow Lydia and Killian. They each have their own perspectives, which I loved. Lydia is a bookish girl who loves to learn. But when her future husband attempts to murder her, she finds herself on the other side of the world, a world that she thought was a myth. I loved Lydia because she was determined and strong, even when she didn’t feel like those things. She made a plan and did her best to see it through or make the best of any situation. She was clever and loyal to her loved ones. She did her best to learn as much as she could, about the world she was in and about herself.
Killian is a Marked One. This means he was chosen by a specific god, the God of War, and given abilities. He’s disgraced after losing an important battle, so he becomes the personal guard of the princess. Which means he’s dragged into her plot to overthrow her father. Killian is a good man, though his reputation may not say so. I really liked him.
Overall, I loved this book. It made me want to immediately reread Dark Shores. I loved the world and the characters. There was action and romance and drama. I loved it all. The stakes were high and only got higher. I loved the way the story was concluded. The ending was satisfying enough that I was eager for more of the story, but not annoyed that everything wasn’t solved. I am beyond excited about the characters from this book and the first book to meet. This is a must-read.