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Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

Wednesday, September 28, 2022
#1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole introduces The Arcana Chronicles, post-apocalyptic tales filled with riveting action, the dark mysticism of Tarot cards, and breathtaking romance.

She could save the world--or destroy it.
Sixteen year old Evangeline"Evie" Greene leads a charmed life--until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, killing everyone she loves, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future--and they're still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

But she can't do either alone.
With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can't totally trust Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?

Who can Evie trust?
As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it's not always clear who is on which side...

In Poison PrincessNew York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole introduces a dark and intriguing world, full of unspeakable danger and irresistible romance.

Goodreads Summary

I don't think I've read a more creative author than Kresley Cole in the young adult genre. I love the idea of characters represented by tarot cards interacting in a barren world recently devastated by an apocalyptic event. The author did not shy away from gruesome scenes and the more bitter aspects of humanity during an apocalypse. Some of it was hard to read, but it gave the book a level of realism when you're reading about human tarot cards. She introduced Evie in the best possible way and slowly developed her character to the point where I was able to look past some of her more annoying traits. I grew invested in her and rooted for her to have a nice outcome in this nasty world. 

Evie's "friends" and fellow players varied in levels of development. Some perished immediately in the fight while others befriended Evie. Jack left me unsure of his motives though for Evie's sake I hoped they were pure. The slight love triangle between Jack, Selena, and Evie felt manufactured and fake. I wish this has been left out of the book. The plot was fast-paced and intricately developed. I felt as if Evie was a character the reader could really slip into and feel the scenes of the book with. I plan on reading this series until the end. 

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Crown of Crimson by Karina Halle

All Hanna Heikkinen wants is to be reunited with her father again. After all, that's why she ventured into the dark and dangerous fantasy world of Tuonela, the Land of the Dead, in order to save his life. But this time her devotion to her father comes at a cost---her growing relationship with Tuoni, the God of Death himself, who held Hanna captive in exchange for her father's life. The last thing she expects is to feel remorse at how she left things with Death, yet the dark and sexy God is all she can think about.

Death has always prided himself on never trusting the living, but Hanna's apparent betrayal has left a scar fathom's deep. Vowing revenge on his future bride, and making sure she upholds her end of the bargain, Death sets out across his realm to steal Hanna back, which only fans the flames between them. But Death and Hanna aren't just fighting each other---malevolent Old Gods are rising to power within the realm, magic is being poisoned, and buried secrets are brought to light, secrets that may cause Hanna to lose everyone she loves dear once again.

Goodreads Summary

I am dying to read more from this author. The second book in the Underworld Gods series made me regret reading this book before the third in the series was released. The book picked up right after the first. Hanna and Death remain a swoon worthy couple with an incredible chemistry between them. The author's style of writing is easy to slip into; I enjoy her descriptions and can actually imagine the scene unfolding in front of me. The author's timing in the introduction of Death's ex-wife was perfect. She didn't introduce her too early in the first book, which would have hurt the reader's investment in Death and Hanna's relationship, but she didn't wait too long to introduce little Ms. Drama. Fortunately for the reader, Death's ex-wife was not written to be part of a love triangle. She's just another antagonistic character in Tuonela who is part of a larger scheme to rid Death of his throne. 

The characters are developed beyond even that of the first book in the series. Hanna and Death become closer as a couple while still maintaining both humorous and agitating banter. The intimate scenes are out-of-this-world and will make the reader wish they had a personal Death as a partner. The side characters also received more action and development. I loved the author's approach to prophecy and little hints to the reader about what is likely to occur in the next novel. Unfortunately, it's nothing but teasing until we can get our hands on the next in the series!

5 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

River of Shadows by Karina Halle

Sunday, September 18, 2022

River of Shadows is an adult dark fantasy romance based on Finnish mythology and the underworld of Tuonela.

When 24-year old Hanna Heikkinen's estranged father dies, she reluctantly makes the trip to Northern Finland for his funeral. Being in the enchanting land of ice and snow feels miles away from Hanna's busy life back in Los Angeles, especially under the complicated circumstances.

But when Hanna discovers that her father's body is missing, that's when things really get weird. A mysterious man, Rasmus, tells Hanna the truth: her father was a powerful shaman who went into Tuonela, the Realm of the Dead, in order to barter for more life, and has been held captive by Tuoni, the God of Death. The only way her father can be freed is if she travels with Rasmus into the mythical underworld to rescue him.

Willing to do anything to have a second-chance with her father, Hanna accompanies Rasmus into the dark and bloody realm, traveling via the River of Shadows, stalked by dangerous creatures, monsters, and the living dead, until they finally come into the haunted kingdom ruled by Death and his family.

Only for her to be captured and held prisoner by the God of Death himself.

Turns out Death is intrigued by Hanna's beauty and fierceness and makes a bargain with her. If she marries him, and spends an eternity in the Realm of the Dead as his wife, he'll set her father free.

But even the most noble sacrifices come with hidden costs, and Hanna's might involve the most unexpected of all things: her heart.

Goodreads Summary

This must be one of my favorite finds of the year. I was so surprised with the delicate intertwining of romance, fantasy, intrigue, and comedy. The book starts out with a bang; Hanna, our main character, discovers that her father has passed away and comes for the funeral. After what can only be referred to as "not really a funeral," she ends up in Tuonela (more or less The Underworld). In Tuonela she meets interesting creatures and secondary characters that really help move the story along and add to the already magical plot and storyline. This book has mermaids, monsters, and mushrooms. 

The romance was shockingly steamy. I don't think I expected such elaborate depictions of what reminds me of 50 Shades of Gray. Tuoni, death, wants to take a second wife and fulfill a peculiar prophecy and Hanna may fit the bill. The scenes went on for several pages and built on each other. They had a bit of a modern feel; I could picture Hanna in "her typical life" worrying about the same issues with online dating guys. I liked how the author meshed old world themes with modern day worries and topics. The ending absolutely killed me and I immediately ran to the library to get a copy of the second in the series. 

5 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber

Thursday, September 15, 2022

The fiercely-anticipated sequel to the #1 New York Times bestseller Once Upon a Broken Heart, starring Evangeline Fox and the Prince of Hearts on a new journey of magic, mystery, and heartbreak.

Not every love is meant to be.

After Jacks, the Prince of Hearts, betrays her, Evangeline Fox swears she'll never trust him again. Now that she’s discovered her own magic, Evangeline believes she can use it to restore the chance at happily ever after that Jacks stole away.

But when a new terrifying curse is revealed, Evangeline finds herself entering into a tenuous partnership with the Prince of Hearts again. Only this time, the rules have changed. Jacks isn’t the only force Evangeline needs to be wary of. In fact, he might be the only one she can trust, despite her desire to despise him.

Instead of a love spell wreaking havoc on Evangeline’s life, a murderous spell has been cast. To break it, Evangeline and Jacks will have to do battle with old friends, new foes, and a magic that plays with heads and hearts. Evangeline has always trusted her heart, but this time she’s not sure she can. . . .

Goodreads Summary

This book was absolutely swoon-worthy. My only complaint is that it ended too soon and with too many unanswered questions. Evangeline, "Eva," and Jacks picked up their little flirtatious banter and continued it through most of the book leaving my hanging on each page hoping to see more of a romance blossom. However, Apollo is not "out of the scene" and Eva still tries to maintain a semblance of loyalty to him. Without giving too much away, this book contains a bit of a love triangle without over-emphasizing it. 

The scenery and storyline are rich and easy to imagine as the reader is quickly running through the book. I consistently found myself meaning to only read a few chapters, but when I was finished I would have gone through at least fifty pages. If possible, I would recommend that you try to enjoy the book over at least a few days. Enjoying the book will make the heart ache over Eva a little more palatable, too. 

The author continues to illustrate fun and memorable supporting characters while giving the reader hints of Jacks' past life and how his past may have shaped him. I loved picking up on some of the backstory and guessing at how the characters will react based on their experiences. The ending, without giving too much away, felt a bit cliché and I am hoping for another in the series so both the reader, Eva, and Jacks aren't left with what occurred the last few chapters. 

5 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ