Friday, April 24, 2015

The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

The Orphan Queen (The Orphan Queen #1)
Author: Jodi Meadows
Genre: High Fantasy
Rating: 5 Stars
Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.
She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.  --Summary from Goodreads

            I have so much love for this book I barely know where to begin. It was fun and entertaining as well as being suspenseful and shocking. The last quarter of the book kept me breathless as I waited on the edge of my seat to see what was going to happen next. I didn't finish until 2am and it was one of the most intense cliffhangers I’ve read in a while. I would have screamed but everyone in the house was already long asleep and wouldn’t think a book cliffhanger a sufficient reason for being woken up in the middle of the night.

            I just loved Wilhelmina (princesses are so awesome). Her loyalty and protectiveness of her friends and her amazing skills as a thief and spy are things I love seeing in a main character. It makes things very interesting. Watching her struggle with what she grew up believing and everything she learned on her latest mission was just as confusing and heart clenching for me as I believe it was for her. Meadow’s writes a character who’s strong yet at the same time very vulnerable. Wil is supposed to lead her people someday but she is still learning what she believes, what she is willing to do to reach her goals, what lines she is unwilling to cross. Taking a stance for those beliefs are a lot harder when you have people in your own small rebel group who disagree. Especially when Wil isn't exactly their official leader.

            Can I just say how much I adored the vigilante, Black Knife? I know I’m not the only one. He was beyond dreamy and I basically swooned every time he was on the page. In other words, I was a complete fangirl. I love the relationship between him and Wil. They start out as enemies but then a tentative friendship grows between them as they start to fight together instead of against one another. This is my favorite type of character relationships in genre fiction: the characters are on equal ground, possess fairly equal skills, and they begin to work together, eventually becoming an amazing team. They force each other to look at things in different ways and they become the better for it. Thankfully we do find out who Black Knife is by the end because I would have screamed if I had to wait.

            There was also a creepy element to this book in the form of the wraith. It is a toxin quickly taking over the land kingdom by kingdom and there is a belief that any magic use will bring it down on the people quicker. We get a glimpse of what the wraith is like in full power and it sent a chill up my spine (which doesn’t happen a lot). Because of the danger to the kingdom, Black Knife had been catching magic users and turning them over to the law and these people, called flashers, disappear forever. Wil is terrified of becoming one of these people and tries hard to keep her own magic a secret, even from her own friends. By the end, something new develops with the wraith that throws everything out of whack and I can’t wait to see how Meadows deals with it in the next book.

             This book turned out to be a lot different than I thought it would be when I started it and I love it for that. I am crazy anticipating the conclusion to this awesome duology and will probably reread it once or twice until then. If you love princesses and vigilantes and magic you can’t miss The Orphan Queen. It has got it all and you’ll be fangirling for days and bugging your friends to read it too so you can have someone to fangirl with. Like I’m going to do with Christina (Mwahahahaha).


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Texas Gothic (Goodnight Family #1) 
Author: Rosemary Clement-Moore
Genre: Paranormal > Ghosts
Pages: 416
Rating: 5 Stars
Amy Goodnight knows that the world isn't as simple as it seems—she grew up surrounded by household spells and benevolent ghosts. But she also understands that "normal" doesn't mix with magic, and she's worked hard to build a wall between the two worlds. Not only to protect any hope of ever having a normal life.

Ranch-sitting for her aunt in Texas should be exactly that. Good old ordinary, uneventful hard work. Only, Amy and her sister, Phin, aren't alone. There's someone in the house with them—and it's not the living, breathing, amazingly hot cowboy from the ranch next door.

It's a ghost, and it's more powerful than the Goodnights and all their protective spells combined. It wants something from Amy, and none of her carefully built defenses can hold it back.

This is the summer when the wall between Amy's worlds is going to come crashing down.

--Summary from Goodreads

                        After putting off this book for years I finally picked it up and, upon finishing it, was a bit shocked to find how many of my lists I had already mentally added it to: It made my top 5 favorite books in the last 3 years, favorite heroine, most crushable guy, favorite “couple”, wishlist (though this one has been fixed already), etc. It was one of the easiest 5 stars I’ve given and I can’t wait to read it again!

The first thing that I loved about this book was the second chapter. Oh my, chapter two, how many ways can I love thee? This is the chapter that must be read by everyone because it is so hilarious and perfect and one of the best hooks for a book that I’ve ever seen! I won’t spoil it for you but I will say that our heroine meets her cowboy in this chapter in a very… awkward way.

                    Speaking of our leading lady…

"I was the designated grown up in a family that operated in different reality than the rest of the world.”

            I just LOVED Amy! She is the snarky, reluctant heroine who has been trying to protect her unusual family from the world’s disdain yet separate herself from their crazyness as well. She has an interesting relationship with her older sister Phin that was fun to watch. Amy would back her up on her “science” but also continually inform her on correct social etiquette and what not to say in public. We also get to meet her younger cousin who is a medium (a talent which Phin has no respect for oddly enough). Amy is decidedly not impressed with the hot cowboy neighbor Ben (though I certainly was), especially when he stuck his foot firmly in his mouth by insulting her aunt to her face (okay, maybe he was a bit of an idiot there, but still totally dreamy).

                                     “Focus, Amy. Just because he looked great in the saddle did not mean he wasn't an axe murderer.”

            To say that I adored watching the interaction between Amy and Ben would be an understatement. This was my favorite type of character relationship to a T. It wasn’t uncommon for me to have a smile plastered on my face while reading a scene where they were both insulting each other, working together, looking at the other like they were crazy, randomly making out…. In short, all of their scenes. What was refreshing though was that, despite all that I might have implied above, there was hardly any romance between them and what there was was slow going and believable to their characters.

                                     “How about this?" I said, because now it was the principle of the thing. "I'm sorry, jackass.”

            I don’t really read books with ghosts in them but Christina had been pushing this book for years and the author was going to be at the North Texas Teen Book Festival so I knew that I had to read it before then. I don’t know why I was worried. Yes, there were creepy ghosts but everything was looked at in a very scientific way (at least from her sister’s perspective) that everything felt natural and believable, like it was a realistic contemporary/mystery instead of a paranormal book. Or maybe I’m the only one who thinks of it like that…

            Whether you’re into ghosts or not I highly suggest giving this book a try. It’s a complete story in itself (though it has a companion novel), it has an amazing cast of characters, it’s fun and a bit spooky with a great plot, but most of all it’s just an awesome read!