The Jewel (Jewel Series #1) by Amy Ewing

I never quite understood those girls, the ones who bought into all the caretakers’ lines about how important we are, how we are fulfilling a long and noble tradition. I once asked Patience why we couldn’t come home after we’ve given birth, and she said, “You are too precious to the royalty. They wish to take care of you for the rest of your life. Isn’t that wonderful? They have such generous hearts.” I said I’d rather have my family than the royalty’s generosity. Patience didn’t like that very much.

Violet isn’t swayed by the promises of prestige that come with being bought at auction and birthing royal babies. All she can see is the last nail in the coffin that contains her freedom.

Once to see it as it is. Twice to see it in your mind. Thrice to bend it to your will. I picture what I want in my mind—a heat builds in the center of my palm at the same time the ache begins at the base of my skull. I can feel the life of the tree, a moving, shimmering thing, and I pull at it, tugging on it like strings on a marionette, drawing it out. A tiny lump forms under my palm, a green leaf peeking out between my fingers. The tree resists a little and I gasp as fire rips down my spine, and it feels like needles are being shoved into my brain—my back arches and my head spins, but I’ve experienced worse pain in my four years at Southgate, and I’m determined to succeed in this. I force myself to focus, biting my lip hard to keep from crying out, coaxing the threads of life one by one, like strands of gossamer, pulling them out, shaping them, and the lump grows bigger, until it fits comfortably inside my hand. A lemon.

I give this book a 3.7 out of 5 stars. I really liked the way that the author described the world in which they lived, as well as the different people’s role within said world. My favorite character was Violet, I like that she wasn’t fooled by the things they taught in the ‘school’ where she was pretty much raised. She took care of her friends and people in general, but she also stood up for herself and even pushed the boundaries of her captivity. I also really appreciate the Duchess as a villain. I really like that she isn’t one dimensional, while what she does has something in it for her she also thinks that by doing what she is doing it will ultimately help others as well. I’m actually looking forward to what she does and what happens to her in the future. This book is the first of a series, luckily it’s looking like it’s just going to be a trilogy (ending in sight!) and the second book The White Rose is already out!


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The Winner’s Crime (Winner’s Trilogy #2) by Marie Rutkoski

 

The Herrani believed that a god ruled not just one thing, but a whole domain of associated ideas, actions, objects. The god of stars was the god of stars, yes, but also of accidents, beauty, and disasters. The god of souls … Kestrel’s throat closed as she remembered Arin invoking that god, who ruled love. My soul is yours, he had said. You know that it is. His expression had been so open, so true. Frightened, even, of what he was saying. And she had been frightened, too, by how he had spoken what she felt. It frightened her still. The coin. Kestrel forced her attention again to the coin.

Kestrel is forced to keep her love a secret in order to protect the one she loves… but the more she lies to keep him safe, the closer she is to losing him

Kestrel didn’t miss his message. She wasn’t blind to the way he had indicated that their conversation could be overheard, nor was she deaf to his coded invitation that they could speak more freely in his guest suite. But she struggled against the pain in her throat, and said only, “Your ride here was hard?” “Yes.” “And the snow. It’s falling already?” “Yes, my lady.” “The mountain pass will close.” “Yes,” Tensen said gently, and he saw too much. Kestrel could tell that he heard that horrible note in her voice, and that he recognized it as the sound of someone fighting tears. “As expected,” he added. But she hadn’t expected this: this stupid hope, this punishing one, for who would long to see someone who was already lost? What good would it have done? None. Apparently Arin knew this, too. He knew it better than she, or his hope would have been equal to hers, and would have driven him here. Kestrel drew herself up straight. “You can find your rooms by yourself, Minister Tensen. I have more important matters to attend to.” She strode from the hall. The veined marble floor was icy beneath her feet: a frozen lake with fractures she did not care to see. She walked, she did not care. She did not.

The chances she takes to insure Arin’s safety are becoming more and more dangerous.

The chances he takes to understand Kestrel’s choices are pushing them farther and farther apart.

Chances are taken, lives are lost, and choices are made… and they don’t always turn out for the best.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I really love the way the author is able to draw me into this series, she created this new world and I love that I’m able to picture it so clearly. I have to say that the first book in this series was great and this installation kept me guessing as to what would happen next. I was definitely in a lot of inner turmoil throughout this book as well. Basically Kestrel’s lies and Arin insecurities were KILLING me! I mean I understood where they were coming from but, because I knew everything that had happened I was tortured by their actions (because they didn’t know what I did). Don’t think you will get any closure at all by the end of this book, because if you read the first book you know that this author likes to end on a CLIFFHANGER and this book is no different.

The Winner’s Curse (Winner’s Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski

 

Kestrel drew in a shaky breath. Her bones felt watery. What had she done? Jess slipped a supporting hand under her elbow. “You are sick.” “And rather light of purse, I’d say.” The pointy-chinned woman snickered. “Looks like someone’s suffering the Winner’s Curse.” Kestrel turned to her. “What do you mean?” “You don’t come to auctions often, do you? The Winner’s Curse is when you come out on top of the bid, but only by paying a steep price.”

Kestrel has just won at auction, what she doesn’t know is that her prize may cause her more trouble than it’s worth…

There was a rustle and the auctioneer returned. The slave walked behind. He lifted his gaze to meet Kestrel’s. His eyes were a clear, cool gray. They startled her. Yet she should have expected to see this color in a Herrani, and Kestrel thought it must be the livid bruise on his cheek that made the expression in his eyes so uncanny. Still, she grew uncomfortable under his gaze. Then his lashes fell. He looked at the ground, letting long hair obscure his face. One side was still swollen from the fight, or beating.

 

I give this book 4.2 out of 5 stars. I really liked this book because not only was it really interesting, but it was also pretty unpredictable. My favorite character was definitely Kestrel because she fought for what she believed in, wasn’t afraid to make sacrifices and she is wicked smart.  The setting that the author created was very vivid and she was really able to make me connect with the characters. When someone would insult Kestrel or Arin I would get angry or when something crazy happened I would freak out(read: start screaming at characters). I love the relationship between the characters and found myself depressed at times when they would do something that would end up pulling them apart. I really enjoyed this book and even though it is YA, it was still relate able to me (probably because she wasn’t just an angst-y high schooler).  I must worn you that this is the first book in a trilogy, so read at your own risk!

Dead of Winter (The Arcana Chronicles #3) by Kresley Cole

Two armed sentries passed us. Each wore a hooded camo poncho and carried a rifle. They nodded politely. Under my breath, I said, “Arcana don’t freak them out? Gabriel’s wings alone should throw them.” “At first, yeah. But they look to J.D. to see how to act. They hero-worship ‘the hunter.’ ” Charismatic Jack could be so compelling when he wanted to. “He uses our help to maintain order,” Selena said. “The Azey might have the twins, but J.D.’ s got three Arcana himself—a psychic, an exquisite bow-goddess, and an illusionist.”

Evie has return to Jack and the others from Death’s castle and she’s changed, they don’t know if for the better.

“Don’t let any humans know what we’re planning.” “Understood.” I furtively kicked Selena’s boot; she straightened and said, “Oh. Thanks, Gabe. I won’t forget this.” “It will be my pleasure, Selena. I look forward to it.” His eyes widened. “I mean, not that I am pleased about the occasion.” Selena let him off the hook. “I look forward to kicking serial killer ass.” He grinned. “Precisely.”

The action doesn’t stop just because Evie was gone… Jack and the rest of her alliance has tracked down the Lovers and hope to end the sadistic twins reign of terror.

When things get out of control and someone ends up in enemy clutches the two main men in Evie’s life must set aside their differences in order to save them.

I gave this book a 4.6 out of 5 stars. Ms. Cole doesn’t fail to provide the action in this latest addition to the Poison Princess series. As always she sucks you into the world after the Flash and you are forced (you have no choice, you have been sucked in after all) to follow Evie’s adventures in this post-apocalyptic tale. So, I still like Evie but Aric is my favorite. I have to say that I pretty much liked Aric from the beginning (not always sure why) but after learning more about him and his past, I love him all the more. I love his struggles and his attitude for the most part, though he is a bit too bossy for my taste (but he’s also from another time period and place so I forgive him, mostly). I have to warn you there is a MAJOR CLIFFHANGER at the end of this book, and the next book has yet to be released… so READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Endless Knight (The Arcana Chronicles #2) by Kresley Cole

 

“He had four girls chained in there, experimenting on them. One hadn’t survived it. I freed the others.” I turned to Matthew. “Will they be safe tonight?” “The girls are fleeing Requiem. Two will live. Third wouldn’t in any scenario.” My heart sank. Selena said, “So you made the Alchemist pay.” Seriously? “I didn’t want to hurt him, never wanted to kill anyone. Part of me refused to believe that only one of us was getting out of here alive. Not until he told me to dig my new collar out of those remains and put it around my neck!” “Duuude,” Finn murmured, the word imbued with sympathy. “Looks like the Alchemist dicked with the wrong chick.” I didn’t deny that, because, well, he had.

Evie has now come to terms with her new powers and she’s determined to not only use them, but to use them for good

The others aren’t so sure that’s possible, especially as all the alliances in the past have failed.

“Should’ve said good-bye. Arcana and non-Arcana mix poorly.” Matthew sighed. “Dee-vee-oh stares at you when you don’t see. Hunter. Watching. You’re the angel atop the Christmas tree that he can never reach. Gift beneath that he can’t unwrap.”

Evie and Jackson never seem to be able to be truly together, something’s always working to separate them.

And things get even crazier when Death comes into the picture.

I gave this book a 3.8 out of 5 stars. I have to say that I am liking Evie more and more as she discovers who she is and makes decisions on who she wants to be. She is no longer the helpless girl she was in The Poison Princess, she’s now more of an empress (heh heh). She does still have her inner struggles with who she used to be and not letting that overtake who she is now, but she’s working to handle that. She does get kidnapped by Death in this book, which I think is exciting because I really like him (Yes, he’s threatened her and whatnot, but I still like him). After you read this book you might as well 😉 , he’s still a controlling guy so he does make some mistakes which don’t endear him to Evie but what controlling guy doesn’t do stupid things? I did feel that this book was more of a connector in the series in that it furthers Evie and Jack’s relationship but it also introduces another major character who brings all new conflicts into Evie’s life. You do learn a lot more about Death and why he is the way he is, and of course the evil past empress had a hand in what he became (and how he treats Evie). Remember that this is the second installation of a series in which only the first three books are out and Ms. Cole does love to end on a cliffhanger :/ . This could end up being a long series (her website says minimum five books) and her other series Immortals After Dark has over 11 books in the series (but that series has different couples in each story, so it doesn’t suck as much to have to wait…).

The Kricket Series (As a Whole) by Amy A Bartol

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“I think finding Prince Charming is your wish.  Mine is still Northwestern University,” I reply, picking up my backpack and throwing it over my shoulder.  “Just think how happy my mom would be if I told her I was marrying you. She’d flip out, seriously,” he says half-jokingly. “Enrique, that’s a really tempting offer, but since I’m only seventeen, I’m gonna keep my options open,” I reply, putting my hat on and trying to sweep my mass of blond hair beneath it.

Kricket doesn’t live in a fairytale and she is well aware of it. She just wants to make to eighteen so that she can be legally responsible for herself.

 

“The priestess, born of two worlds and of two houses, has returned to Ethar as prophesied.  Kricket Valke, the stolen daughter of our order, is a hostage in the House of Rafe”

Kricket is forced into a world that she knows nothing about, with prophesies that she is a part of but that she has never known.

 

His lips should be cold, I think, a mirror of his ice-blue stare. I try to turn my head and escape the curves of his mouth.  My lips skim lightly over the stone rigidness of his jaw, tasting the saltiness of the sea air that settles there. His lips hunt mine, finding them again – claiming ownership by covering them once more.

Kricket has to learn what she has to do to survive, (as she always has), but this time the rules are different.  On a different world she not only has to survive, she has to learn the customs and the politics so that she can make it through another day.

 

I must admit when I finished the last book, I felt duped. I was not expecting it to end the way that it did and I felt that it was all wrong (of course it was after midnight, so we’ll put some of that on tiredness).  When I woke up the next morning and thought about the ending and the other possible outcomes, I calmed down a bit. I’ll be the first to admit that I want a HEA and after all the things that Kricket goes through in this book I thought that she deserved one as well. In retrospect I realized that she got one.

I give this series 4.3 of 5 stars. I did enjoy this book and once I got over how I envisioned it ending and the actual ending, I appreciated it more. Kricket is a strong young woman who comes into her own and realizes that the only person she can really depend on 100% of the time, is herself.  She is crafty and strong and has to use those qualities often to survive. She discovers a lot about herself and people in general, what can be endured and where loyalties lie. The people that she should be able to count on all let her down, and even the people that she adopts as her own have a tendency to either have ulterior motives or decide that there are other things that are more important to them then she is…

Amy Bartol is a talented writer with a vivid imagination. She has the great ability to bring you into her stories, with the imagery that allows you to picture her alternate worlds. She gives enough detail that you can merge into the world of the characters, without being too wordy.

I was reluctant to start this series because I have been burn by Ms Bartol before. I started her Premonition Series and I don’t know that it was ever finished. I am notorious for not starting a series unless I know that it is finished, partially because of this series. I am however glad that I took a chance and read this series.

-Suih Patton

 

Yay! Another Review from my sometimes reviewer!

Also look at my review for just the first book: Under Different Stars

-Fe

Under Different Stars (The Kricket Series #1) by Amy A Bartol

“I can understand your position. If I were you, I might not want to return home either, but the time for cowardice is over. You need to face your family and pay for your crimes.” My mouth drops open as I search his face. “My crimes?” I ask after my mouth snaps shut again. He’s insane. Trey nods as both his eyebrows come together. “Desertion, among others,” he replies, tightening his hand on my arm, like he severely disapproves of me. “You’re mental . . .” I trail off, seeing the serious expressions on all of their faces. “We’re quite sane,” he replies easily. Slipping my gloved hands into my pockets, I notice the train slowing. The automated voice begins announcing our arrival at the Fullerton station. Trey’s eyes focus in on my hands. Slowly, I pull one hand from my pocket. Opening it, I ask, “Mint?” and extend my hand, filled with cellophane-wrapped red-and-white-striped candies. He lets go of my arm. “No,” he frowns, looking at the mints in my hand like they’re poison. Pulling my other hand quickly from my pocket and pressing the button, I ask, “Pepper spray?” Jumping up on my seat, I continue to spray Trey, Jax, and the other thug with my can of pepper spray. Seeing them clutch their hands to their eyes as they moan in pain, I fit myself between the handrails on my right and run out the door of the train, dropping the can as I go.

Kricket has had a hard life, after her parents died she went into the foster system and subsequently ran away

Now she faces new danger, men are after her…

And the things they say don’t quite make sense

Opening the pouch, he extracts a spiky plant limb that looks like aloe. “Hold out your hands for me palms up,” he orders. Doing as I’m told, I flinch when Jax squeezes the plant leaf over my palms, extracting its salve and rubbing it onto my cuts. “Ahh, that burns!” I hiss, pulling my hands back from him. “Does it burn more or less than pepper spray?” he asks with an ironic twist of his lips. “You so deserved that pepper spray, and if I had any more of it, we wouldn’t be having this conversation now, Jax,” I reply, entirely unrepentant.

When  Kricket is eventually kidnapped and taken to another planet everything she thought she knew is turned on it’s axis

Now she has to use her street smarts to survive, because leaving Earth?

That’s the least of her problems

I give this book 4.7 out of 5 stars. I have to say that my favorite thing about this book is the way that the author writes. I have read another series by Amy Bartol (Premonition Series) and it’s just how she writes. What I’m talking about is her way of seamlessly inserting the extraordinary and paranormal into our world. She writes these stories and it leaves you (or maybe just me) thinking that yeah, this is definitely possible. There could totally be another world with all these things, and I LOVE that. Kricket is my favorite character in this book, I like her because not only is she smart and strong she’s also hard and soft at the same time. She’s hard in that she has had to harden herself against the realities of a girl in the world trying to survive alone, but she’s soft in that she’s still retained a certain amount of her innocence. She’s intuitive and powerful but she still gives off a vibe of needing to be protected, if someone had to be taken to another world and face the challenges there, I’m glad it was Kricket. Trey is almost her opposite in that he has this almost hard shell that he uses to keep people at bay. I like that as you read you uncover more of him and you get to learn to love him (which I do). It’s like slowly unwrapping a present, you have no idea what it is until it’s completely open if it’s wrapped well. Anyway this is not a standalone and there are at least 3 books in the series so if you only like to read finished series beware. But I would definitely suggest you read it if you want some light but interesting reading.