The Eyes of Tamburah by Maria V. Snyder

Scheduled release date: June 2019

Shyla is a researcher who resides in Zirdai, an underground desert city ruled by the wealthy Water Prince and brutal Heliacal Priestess. Everyone lives below ground as the sun is too fierce above. Although Shyla is sun-kissed (an outcast and considered cursed by the Sun Goddess) she is still renowned for uncovering innumerable archaic facts, lost artifacts, ancient maps, and obscure historical documents. Her quiet life is about to change when Banqui, an archaeologist, enlists her services to find The Eyes of Tamburah: legendary gemstones that bestows great magic to its wielder. These ancient objects can tip the balance of power and give whoever possesses them complete control of the city. Chaos erupts when The Eyes are stolen soon after they’re found and Shyla is blamed for the theft. Forced to flee, with the Prince’s soldiers and the Priestess’ deacons on her trail, Shyla must recover the jewels and clear her name. A quest that will unearth secrets even more valuable than The Eyes of Tamburah themselves.

I have been a fan of Maria’s work for some time. All of her books are great but I have to admit, The Eyes of Tamburah is now a personal favourite. I guess this is due to personal taste in the books I love to read. The setting of this book reminded me of an amazing TV documentary called “Cities of the Underworld”, a show that takes us on a journey back in time to the ancient cities in the Middle East and the Cradle of Civilisation that have since been built up over time. I loved how the characters lived below ground as the sun was too incredibly hot and they have to travel up and down levels to simply move around. What made it interesting is different levels proved to be treacherous for various reasons. I enjoyed Shyla as a character, her job was mesmerising being able to read maps and ancient scrolls as a job but I loved her undying loyalty to her friend that was her motivation to set out on a dangerous journey to retrieve the stolen eyes of Tamburah. Her endurance and her strength made her a likeable character in my view. Her connections between Rendor and Banqui were also very interesting.

The flow of the story was fantastic as the world building and new terminology was easy to learn through the constant dialogue between the characters. Personally I like books that have a lot of dialogue more than descriptions. Makes the story and characters really come to life in my mind. Some of the scenes in this book reminded me of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom which made it even more exciting to read. This book really stands out from the other series I have read. As I adore books that have an easy flow to read with an have an Arabian desert feel to it, this book has earned a special place with my book loves of 2019.

With special thanks to Harlequin Teen Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy of this book.
-Annie

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Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

“Absolute power can corrupt even the purest of hearts. Such is the folly of men…”

One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.

Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.

With an army of demons and the unlikeliest of allies,  secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself….

“The tiniest pebble, when dropped into a pond, will leave ripples that will grow and spread in ways we cannot comprehend” 

I really enjoyed the read along I experienced with 2 dear friends. This book got me hooked from the first page, so much happened virtually straight away. I loved how the story line explored the Japanese culture and legend and I would recommend this to readers who loved Kylie Chan’s “Dark Heavens” series. It was captivating, action packed and really intriguing.

The only flaw was the confusing switching of perspectives throughout the book. Normally it’s quite clear whose voice we are reading but this one took me a moment or 2 in the next chapter before I realised who we were following. But other than that, it was a great book! A great story with strong Asian cultural representation, so much action particularly from the first chapter that really caught my attention and maintained the pace throughout the book. I particularly loved the ending and I will be investing in the next book.

With special thanks to Book Depository for sending me this book as a thank you for when I engaged in their mini Blogstars project. It’s really worth the read!
-Annie

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home. When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth – that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil, no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

I was hooked into this story by the end of the second chapter.

I got attached to some of the characters. Okay, I might’ve teared up a bit when Puck got injured and Meghan had to leave him behind to heal and wake up (beside the point that he was left with other fey).

Meghan goes through a psychological journey, as well as an inner journey where she learns who and what she is…

All I have to do now is find the second book in the series!!
-Meredith

The Girl King by Mimi Yu

Sisters Lu and Min have always understood their places as princesses of the Empire. Lu knows she is destined to become the dynasty’s first female ruler, while Min is resigned to a life in her shadow. Then their father declares their male cousin Set the heir instead – a betrayal that sends the sisters down two very different paths. Determined to reclaim her birthright, Lu goes on the run but she needs an ally – and an army – if she is to succeed. Her quest leads her to Nokhai, the last surviving wolf shape-shifter. Nok wants to keep his identity secret, but finds himself forced into an uneasy alliance with the girl whose family killed everyone he ever loved.

There can only be one Emperor, and the sisters’ greatest enemy could turn out to be each other.

To be honest, it did take me awhile to really be engaged in this book as the world building was quite slow in the beginning with not a lot happening in the beginning however it did pick up steadily as I read on which helped me stay with the book to the end. It is worth continuing on with the read. What I enjoyed about this book was the mystery between 2 sisters Lu and Min and the one crown. How they had different paths for reasons beyond their own control. There was also a spooky element to Min’s storyline which I found interesting too. It was difficult to choose a favourite sister in this story, both had merits and you couldn’t help but feel for each sister – one was a pawn and made to marry her cousin who was intending to take the throne the other was accused of her own father’s murder hence the empty throne..  The mystery and developing plot throughout the book really paid off in the end.

Special thanks to Date a Book YA: Hachette Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.
-Annie

Impostors by Scott Westerfeld

And we return to the world of the Uglies series…

Frey and Rafi are inseparable but very few people have ever seen them together. This is because Frey is Rafi’s body double, raised in the shadows of their rich father’s fortress. While Rafi has been taught to charm, Frey has been taught to kill. Frey only exists to protect her sister. There is no other part of her life until her father sends her in Rafi’s place to act as collateral for a dangerous deal… as the stakes grow higher, trust is brought into question..

As I was told we could read this book without having to read The Uglies series, this was my first time reading a book by Scott Westerfeld and I really enjoyed it!! I loved the premise and the non stop action from page one right to the end – incredibly easy read and a real page turner.. Howevever, I would recommended reading the Uglies series before this one as some of the referencing or jargon that’s in this book can be a little confusing if you’re not familiar with the Uglies world.. But overall it was a great read!! Quite unique and very fast paced..

Special thanks to Allen and Unwin for sending me a review copy of this book.
-Annie

Thief’s Cunning by Sarah Ahiers

Family before family

I finally read the highly anticipated sequel to the epic Assassin’s Heart and oh my what a read!!!

We are back with our protagonist Allegra who has always had to look over her shoulder. As the niece of the infamous assassin Lea Saldana, Allegra is used to hiding from people who want her dead. Once the strongest clipper family in the Kingdom of Lovero, the Saldanas are now the most hunted. Their number one enemy is the Da Vias, whose thirst for retaliation is almost two decades in the making. But lately Allegra’s getting fed up with everything being kept from her—including her parents’ identity. When she finally learns the truth about her family, her world is turned upside down. Feeling betrayed by the people she trusted the most, Allegra turns to Nev, a Traveler boy whose presence makes her feel alive but getting caught up in his world has consequences Allegra never saw coming.

he mythology and the different gods we learn about in this book are so interesting. These gods are frightening, powerful, and amazing. I honestly would love more books just to meet more gods and learn more about them

Although it’s been about a year since I read the first book, I found I was able to really get into this book and follow on with the story without any difficulty. The previous story and characters really came to life. I love the mythology that flows through this book, it so interesting. I would have loved to read more about the gods and myth in these books so I hope there is a spin off or a prequel to this series.

This story however is quite different to the first one but I liked both books for different reasons. The first I loved for the action, mystery, intrigue, mythology and magic. This one, yes I loved for those reasons however the journey to learn the truth of Allegra’s true identity was really captivating. It was a very easy and fast paced read and action in every chapter – always something happening!! I have to say, there were times I got frustrated with Allegra as she had a tendency to jump to conclusions too quickly and half the time she was wrong but I guess that’s what furthered the plot and held my attention to then very end.. and yes.. that was an epic ending.

This is highly recommended to those who enjoy YA fantasy fiction.

Special thanks to Harlequin Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.
-Annie

Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye

Work hard… Mischief harder…

From the writer of The Crown’s Game and The Crown’s Fate comes an exciting new fantasy series full of magic, intrigue, betrayal and action!!!

Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied around his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.  As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging in the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark. So when the pair encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group. Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.

This was interesting book, definitely not what I expect or got used to with this amazing author from her previous books. If like me, you’ve read “The Crown’s Game” and “The Crown’s Fate” cast your mind away from that duology if you wish to tap into this new series. This is very different. It’s a whole new world, whole new playing field.. I enjoyed the cultural fusion in this book that reminded me of Asian and European legends and tales. Although the book did take some time to engage me in the beginning due to slow plot development and world building, the twists that popped up throughout the story and the interesting characters held my attention to the end. The friendship between our two main characters was something I adored so much and there were moments throughout the book that touched my heart. I found this book is something you need to read without any distraction. The world building is detailed and the multiple perspectives can confuse you if you’re not 100% focused on the story. I have faith in this series so I am definitely invested and looking forward to the sequel now.

Special thanks to Harper Collins publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.
-Annie