Three Dark Crowns

I don’t know quite where to begin. I finished reading Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake a few hours ago, and I’m still processing what happened in this book, particularly the batcrap crazy ending. (I mean that in the best way.) This book is convoluted and vicious–perfect for fans of Kiersten White’s And I Darken and Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes–and I can hardly wait for more.

On the mysterious island of Fennbirn, three sisters–triplets–vie to be the last queen standing. Separated at an early age, the girls grow up knowing that they may one day have to kill their sisters in order to claim the crown. Each queen is supposed to be endowed with her own special brand of magic, and the strength of that magic could lead one of the young women to rule.

Katharine is a poisoner. She should be able to ingest even the most dangerous poison with no consequences. She can craft poisons with the best of them, but she cannot yet consume toxins without being violently ill. If her gift does not arrive soon–before Beltane–she fears that her quest for the throne will be short-lived.

Arsinoe is in a similar situation. She is a naturalist, but she cannot yet control even the smallest portion of the natural world around her, and there is no sign of her animal familiar on the horizon. Her companion, Jules, a powerful naturalist in her own right, has been trying to coax Arsinoe’s gift out of hiding, but the only magic Arsinoe experiences–dangerous spells performed with her own blood–may come with a cost more dire than she realizes.

Mirabella is widely considered to be the front-runner for the crown. She is a powerful elemental, and she has been controlling wind, fire, water, and earth for years. But Mirabella wonders if she’s truly capable of killing her sisters when the time comes. She remembers with fondness their lives before they were separated, and her unwillingness to do her sisters harm is viewed as weakness by those in power. Her path to the throne may seem clear, but her own feelings may cloud the way.

Each of these three sisters are attempting to figure out where they stand in Fennbirn, but they are running out of time to come to terms with their destinies. Their quests for the crown truly begin at the upcoming Beltane celebration. After that, two of them must die so that one can be queen. Add in questions about their gifts, power struggles from without and within, suitors vying for their hands, betrayal, and their own often conflicted feelings, and something has to give.

Will Katharine and Arsinoe receive their gifts before Beltane? If not, can they make others believe they are fit to be queen? Is Mirabella truly the most powerful of the three and destined to be the sole queen? Or does fate have something else in store for these sisters and those who would see them killed or crowned?


I’ve left out A LOT here, but I didn’t want to give too much away. I will say, however, that it’s difficult to determine which of the sisters–if any–should truly be queen. I felt sympathy with each of them at different points, but I can’t say that I was really rooting for any of them. As a matter of fact, I didn’t really like the sisters throughout much of the book. Jules, Arsinoe’s companion, was probably the only character in the book that I 100% liked. That’s okay, though. I think my conflicted feelings on these characters are exactly what the author intended. Nothing is clear cut in this book, and that makes things very intriguing.

For those wondering if Three Dark Crowns is a good fit for middle grade readers, I have to say…I’m not sure. It is brutal, and there are some sexy times (which are kind of understated). Some middle grade readers may be able to handle it; others won’t. I would probably recommend this book to grades 8 and up, but I urge you to read the book for yourself if you work with tweens and young teens. You know your readers better than I do.

The next book in this series, One Dark Throne, comes out on September 19th. There will also be a prequel novella, The Young Queens, released on December 26th. Lots to look forward to in this exciting series!

For more information on Three Dark Crowns, visit author Kendare Blake’s website or connect with her on Twitter. You may also want to check out the awesome book trailer from Epic Reads below. Enjoy!

Sweet Legacy

Caution! It is absolutely essential that you read the first two books in Tera Lynn Childs’ Medusa Girls trilogy (Sweet Venom and Sweet Shadows) before proceeding to the third and final book, Sweet Legacy. As a matter of fact, go ahead and read them over again (or at least skim) before starting the finale. I wish I had. I spent way too much time trying to re-familiarize myself with the events of the previous two books, and that had a big impact on my reading.

Well, it’s not often that it takes me seventeen days to finish a book, but that’s just what happened with Sweet Legacy. (If you read the warning above, you can probably figure out why.) It’s not the book’s fault. If I had read the books in this series back-to-back, my reading would have gone much more smoothly. As it was, I had a hard time remembering what happened in the previous two books, so, when I found myself totally confused, I had to revisit the previous books to refresh my memory. (Ah, the perils of loving books in a series!) This was rather time-consuming. Add this to my job responsibilities, spending time with family, keeping a semi-clean house, and other stuff, and my reading of Sweet Legacy didn’t go nearly as fast as is normal for me.

Once I finally got into Sweet Legacy (and remembered everything I needed to), the story was rather engrossing. It picks up the story of triplets Gretchen, Greer, and Grace, modern-day descendants of Medusa, and their quest to either close or open the door between the monster and human realms. (This may seem like a simple decision, but it’s really not…as you’ll see.)

Grace, Greer, and Gretchen, sisters who didn’t even know each other just days ago, are doing everything within their considerable power to set things right in the world. But what is right? That’s not always clear, and when both monsters and gods are set on killing you to prevent you from fulfilling your destiny, it muddies the waters even more.

The sisters travel through the abyss, through the halls and dungeons of Mount Olympus, and even through their fair city of San Francisco looking for help in finding the lost door between the realms. They will find help among monsters, gods, gorgons, and humans alike (including a trio of guys that do their part to muddle the girls’ thoughts), and all of them will be tasked with fighting in the battle ahead. Ultimately, though, destiny resides in the hands of Greer, Grace, and Gretchen, three young girls being asked to determine the fate of the world as they know it.

Will the sisters seal the door to the abyss forever (and trap all monsters, good and bad alike)? Will they open the door and let whatever happens happen? Or will they truly fulfill their purpose as descendants of Medusa and claim the legacy that has been foretold for centuries? What do the Fates have in store for Grace, Gretchen, and Greer? Discover the answers for yourself when you read Sweet Legacy, the thrilling conclusion to Tera Lynn Childs’ Medusa Girls trilogy!

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Even though it did take me longer than I would have liked to get into this book, I will say that, once I did, I was impressed with how action-packed it was. Truly, there was never a dull moment, and the strength of the sisters was awesome to behold, especially since their strengths manifested in very different ways. Each of the girls presented a role model that embraced not only her strengths but her flaws as well. The sisters experienced growth throughout the series, and they also grew closer to each other and young men who didn’t try to make them fit into a mold of the perfect teen girl. The sisters are loved as they are, fangs and all.

I would definitely recommend this series to middle grade and young adult readers. Those who’ve enjoyed any of Rick Riordan’s books will likely find something to enjoy in this series, and it’s also kind of interesting to compare the mythologies in both authors’ works.

If you’d like more information on the Medusa Girls trilogy or other books by Tera Lynn Childs, I encourage you to visit the author’s website at http://teralynnchilds.com/. I’ve read almost everything she’s written at this point, and there’s not a stinker in the bunch!

Sweet Shadows

Warning:  Read Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs before proceeding. If it’s been over a year since you read Sweet Venom, it’s probably a good idea to reread it (or at least the last couple of chapters) before proceeding!

As you’ve no doubt gathered, I first read Sweet Venom, the first book in Tera Lynn Childs’ Medusa Girls series, quite some time ago. (October of 2011, to be precise.) For whatever reason, I waited until Sunday to begin reading the second book, Sweet Shadows. That was not smart. Maybe if I’d read it sooner, I wouldn’t have spent so much time trying to remember what happened in the first book. Luckily, I did have my blog post for Sweet Venom, but that didn’t exactly provide me with tons of details or how the book actually ended. It did give me a starting point, though, and I flipped through the first book when I needed to fill in any blanks. (That happened a lot when I first started reading Sweet Shadows. My memory sucks lately.)

Sweet Shadows picks up immediately where Sweet Venom ended. Gretchen, Grace, and Greer have barely had time to come to terms with the fact that they’re triplets, descendants of the Gorgon Medusa, and their destiny is tied to a divine prophecy that puts their very lives in danger. Despite their rather obvious differences, these reunited sisters will have to work together to determine just what it going on and what it means for them. They may have some help along the way, but can anything really combat the war that is brewing?

As Gretchen, Grace, and Greer continue to face horrible monsters and unanswered question, new dangers also await them. Exploding apartments. Disappearing mentors. Training to fight. Diving into the abyss. Boys. (Some of these are, obviously, more dangerous than others!) In the midst of it all, the sisters are learning more about themselves, each other, and what their destiny really means.

Destiny, though, may not be as straightforward as they once thought. Keep the monsters in the abyss. Should be a no-brainer, right? Yeah…not so much. It’s a little more complicated than that and may involve actually allowing monsters out of the abyss to walk and live among humans…as they once did. It’s all about restoring balance and is clear as mud to Gretchen, Grace, and Greer. They’re not really sure what they are supposed to do, but they do know only one place–the abyss itself–holds the answers (and the people) they need. Are any of the sisters courageous enough to brave this dark chasm? If so, what will await them?

While it is clear that lots of people (and monsters, gods, etc.) want the sisters dead, there may be others who would seek to aid them in fulfilling their destiny. The question is…who is ally, and who is enemy? Who can these sisters ultimately trust? And what will happen if that trust is misplaced?

Fate, destiny, life–whatever you want to call it–is about to come crashing down on Gretchen, Grace, and Greer. Keeping this dangerous, barely believable existence separate from “real life” is quickly becoming impossible. Is there any way for these girls to hold onto some semblance of normalcy while staying true to each other and the destiny they are attempting to fulfill? Is success even possible? Can these sisters control their own fates and bring light to the shadows in their lives? We’ll just have to wait and see…

While it took me a little while to get invested in this story (which was my own fault), once I got going, I was totally enthralled. Sweet Shadows, like Sweet Venom, is action-packed, and readers will be eager to discover just who these girls can trust and who might be hiding a secret identity. (I still have some ideas about that.)

I also enjoyed seeing how the sisters grew closer together in this second book. Yes, they’re all still very different, but I think they’re learning now that those differences can make them stronger, both individually and as a group. They begin to learn from their diverse experiences and backgrounds, and that’s always a good thing.

The final installment in the Medusa Girls series, Sweet Legacy, is scheduled to be released on September 3rd of this year. Hopefully, I can make time to read it as soon as it comes out! I’m eager to see how the story resolves for Gretchen, Grace, and Greer. Here’s hoping these three sisters get the happy ending they deserve!

For those book cover nuts (like me), here’s the gorgeous cover for book three, Sweet Legacy.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  Tera Lynn Childs’ books, particularly her mythology-based works (Oh. My. Gods., Goddess Boot Camp, Sweet Venom, and Sweet Shadows), are a perfect fit for Rick Riordan fans looking for some strong female characters (kind of like Annabeth from the Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series). Ms. Childs’ books might be a little shorter, but they still pack quite a punch.

If you’d like more information about Sweet Shadows and any other books by Tera Lynn Childs, check out her website. This page also has links to the author’s Goodreads, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

Sweet Venom

As some of you may know, I’m a big fan of Tera Lynn Childs.  I adored Oh. My. Gods., Goddess Boot Camp, Forgive My Fins, and Fins Are Forever.  When I learned that she would be writing a new book dealing with the descendants of Medusa, I knew that I would read it.  Well, I have just finished reading Sweet Venom, the first book in the Medusa Girls series, and I am hooked (which is really not surprising considering my fondness for Greek mythology).  Like Oh. My. Gods., Sweet Venom is a little like Percy Jackson for the teen girl set.  There are monsters, fighting, awkward encounters with cute guys, secrets, prophecies, and long-lost relatives.  What more could a girl want?

Gretchen has been fighting monsters for the past four years.  As a descendant of the Gorgon Medusa (who was not the monster everyone claims), it is Gretchen’s job to fight the evil beings that escape from the abyss.  Only she can send them back to where they came from.  Usually, she only has to deal with one monster at a time–a sphinx here, a minotaur there–and she can go on about her business.  Lately, however, there seem to be more monsters around, and with her mentor Ursula doing a mysterious disappearing act, Gretchen has no one to talk to about what’s going on.  But all that is about to change…

Grace has just moved to San Francisco to attend a new school.  Opportunities abound, and Grace is excited to leave her reputation as a doormat behind.  Things don’t get off to a good start, however, when she somehow makes an enemy of the school’s resident mean girl.  It seems Grace is destined to be a coward.  She wants to be brave, but she doesn’t really know how.  And when she starts seeing strange creatures around her, her battle for bravery is sorely tested.  What are these things, and why can’t anyone else see them?  As it turns out, someone else can…a sister Grace never knew she had.

When Grace and Gretchen meet, it’s not exactly a lovey-dovey family reunion.  Neither of them knew the other even existed, but they soon realize they must work together to fight the monsters crawling out of the woodwork.  These two huntresses must find out why so many monsters are out and why they are so determined to kill the descendants of Medusa.  Their research leads them to some uncomfortable truths–including the fact that Gretchen and Grace are not twins.  They’re triplets.

When sister Greer enters the picture, another curve ball is thrown at the lives each sister once led.  How can three totally different people unite to fulfull an ancient prophecy?  Can they fight monsters while still holding on to some semblance of a normal life?  And will they ever be able to understand something even more mysterious–the minds of boys?  Join the madness when you read Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs.

Sweet Venom is a great introduction to what I’m sure will be a fascinating series.  I’m very intrigued by the idea that Medusa was not the evil being we’ve all heard of.  (Apparently, Athena played fast and loose with the truth because she was jealous of Medusa’s relationship with Poseidon.)  I’ve always liked misunderstood “bad guys” (i.e. Darth Vader).  I also like how the differences between Grace, Gretchen, and Greer are emphasized.  Even though they’re triplets, life handed all of them very different cards.  It will be interesting to see how those differences play out in the future even as destiny forces the sisters to work as one.

I really enjoyed Sweet Venom, and I highly recommend it to readers from middle school on up.  I would definitely push it to female fans of Percy Jackson.  Guys will find something to enjoy in this series as well–especially all the monster-fighting–but this series will find a home in the hands of female readers.

The second book in the Medusa Girls series, Sweet Shadows, will be released sometime in 2012.  For now, if you’d like more information on Sweet Venom and other books by Tera Lynn Childs, visit http://teralynnchilds.com/.