Now I Rise

Notice: You MUST read And I Darken, the first book in Kiersten White’s Conqueror’s Saga, before proceeding with this post. You’ve been warned.

If it’s not readily apparent, I recently finished reading Now I Rise, the sequel to And I Darken. This series focuses on Lada and Radu Dracul, the children of Vlad Dracul, the inspiration for Dracula. Like I mentioned in the post on book one, this series presents an alternate history of this family. Vlad is not the brutal leader of legend here…but his daughter is.

In And I Darken, Lada and Radu were dealing with their complicated feelings for each other, their circumstances, and the new sultan, Mehmed. In Now I Rise, the complications continue. Lada has left Mehmed’s side to reclaim the throne of Wallachia. Radu, on the other hand, has stayed with Mehmed, and that presents its own set of difficulties.

Lada Dracul is determined to be Prince of Wallachia. It does not matter that she is a woman. She’s the rightful ruler, and she will take what’s hers, by force if necessary. And it looks like force–and lots of it–are necessary. In her quest to rule, she strikes down anyone who gets in her way. She forges alliances that make her sick. She betrays those close to her. All of this to get her closer to the Wallachian throne. Yet even as she is on the cusp of achieving her goal, she misses her brother, Radu, and even Mehmed.

Lada knows that Radu’s silver tongue and gift of diplomacy would get her closer to the throne. As for Mehmed, her feelings for him are a bit more complex. She misses how he makes her feel, but, at the same time, she refuses to place her future in a man’s hands. Also, she doesn’t fully trust Mehmed. He has seemingly thwarted her grab for power, and Lada knows he will do anything–including betray her–to further his own ends. She both loathes and respects that about him. After all, has she not done the same?

As for Radu, he remains completely loyal to Mehmed and the sultan’s desire to conquer Constantinople. Radu does whatever he can to further the Ottoman cause, and, when Mehmed asks Radu to become a spy within Constantinople’s walls, he reluctantly agrees. While Radu does not wish to be parted from Mehmed, he will do as Mehmed asks even as he ignores his sister’s plea for help in her endeavors. Radu knows his feelings for Mehmed will likely never be returned, but he will continue to prove his love and loyalty to Mehmed…no matter what it costs.

While in Constantinople, Radu becomes more and more conflicted. Even as he’s relaying information to the Ottomans, he’s growing closer to those fighting for Emperor Constantine. How can he betray these people who have taken him in, shown him kindness, and trusted him? But how can he turn his back on Mehmed, who he loves more than all others? He’s given up nearly everything for Mehmed, but is he willing to give up his very soul so that Mehmed can conquer a city that seems to be dying anyway?

Both Radu and Lada Dracul are wrestling with questions of loyalty, love, faith, and sacrifice. What are each of them willing to do to achieve their goals? What will they find themselves capable of? Betrayal? Murder? And what will be lost along the way?


Everything I said about And I Darken also applies to Now I Rise. I don’t feel like writing all that again, so read the end of my post on And I Darken to get my full take on both of these books. In short, though, these books raise all sorts of questions on what a person is willing to do to serve their own ends, how love makes a person both strong and weak, what it means to be feminine, and how women who do not subscribe to societal expectations are viewed. And that barely even touches on the religious and historical aspects of the book. It’s a lot to take in, and all of this stuff makes both And I Darken and Now I Rise as sumptuous as two decadent pieces of dark chocolate.

So…how does Now I Rise differ from And I Darken? Well, we get to know both Lada and Radu a bit more. These two characters get more complex with each page, and I’m sure that will continue in the next book. The biggest difference, though, is the elevated brutality. Radu is in the middle of a war zone, and he both witnesses and commits atrocities true to what is happening around him. Lada, in her quest for power, cuts down anyone in her path and leaves a trail of bodies behind her. There’s nothing pretty, delicate, or civilized about her path to the Wallachian throne. She’s vicious, brutal, and without mercy. She has to demonstrate to all that she is no pushover, and she’s not shy about shedding blood to prove her point.

In case you’re wondering, I would recommend both And I Darken and Now I Rise to a mature teen or adult audience. I doubt most middle grade readers are developmentally ready for books like these. They deal with political maneuvering, sexuality, betrayal, and the horrors of war, and I think reading and discussing these issues require a certain level of maturity. You may have a different take, but I urge you to read the books yourself before you make that determination.

Now I Rise will be released on June 27th. The third book in The Conqueror’s Saga should be out next summer. To learn more about And I Darken and Now I Rise, visit the series’ official website.

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Ink and Bone

It didn’t take much convincing for me to pick up Ink and Bone, the first book in Rachel Caine’s The Great Library series. I was already a fan of Caine’s work. (I was slightly obsessed with her Morganville Vampires series for a while.) Also, Ink and Bone was recently named to the 2017-18 South Carolina Young Adult Book Award nominee list. So, it wasn’t so much if I would read this book but when. I’m pleased to report that I finished Ink and Bone earlier today, and it was both awesome and disturbing. I’m sure many of my fellow librarians would agree with that assessment.

Ink and Bone is, in a nutshell, an alternate universe where the great Library of Alexandria was never destroyed. In this world, the Library controls nearly everything. With the help of alchemy, the Library can transmit books instantly, but it’s illegal for anyone to own personal copies of books. The punishment for anyone who does–or for those who deal in smuggled books–is severe.

For Jess Brightwell, smuggling books is the family business. It’s all he’s ever known, and he doesn’t much like it. Now, his father has a new task for him. He’s to become a postulate in the Library, being trained for eventual service to the Library. His dad wants Jess to use his new role for information. Jess agrees, but he finds himself in the midst of more danger than he could have ever imagined.

Even though Jess has spent his life thumbing his nose at the Library, he believes it does important work. That belief, however, will soon be tested. Jess and his fellow students are asked to basically enter a war zone to retrieve some rare books. In the process, they see death, destruction, and the absolute worst of humanity. It doesn’t take long for Jess to grasp that the Library truly does place more value on knowledge–and its exclusive hold on that knowledge–than it does on human life.

The more Jess learns about the Library, the more he questions what’s really going on around him. Those questions only multiply when he realizes how far the Library is willing to go to preserve its power and keep its secrets.

Is there any way for Jess to stand against such a powerful entity? What will happen to him and his friends if they get in the Library’s way?


A world in which a library runs everything. The librarian in me is thinking, “That sounds absolutely wonderful.” Yeah…not so much. As the saying goes, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I guess that’s true for librarians, too. In Ink and Bone, the Library will do whatever it takes to hold onto its power, even spying on, sabotaging, or killing its own people.

Jess and company witness the Library commit horrible atrocities in this book, and it often feels like they are helpless against such brutality. Even at the end of the book, there’s barely a glimmer of hope. But there is some hope, especially given that there are two more books in this series.

Book two, Paper and Fire, is already out, and book three, Ash and Quill, will be released on July 11th. Something tells me that things are going to get worse for Jess and company before they get better, but I have every intention of reading the rest of this enthralling series, no matter how painful it may be.

In case you were wondering, I would recommend this book for teens, adults, and perhaps some mature middle school students. Ink and Bone is full of savage violence and intrigue, and, while it could generate some very interesting discussions (especially in our current political climate), I don’t think this book is geared toward most middle grade readers.

If you’d like to learn more about Ink and Bone and other books by Rachel Caine, check out the author’s website. You can also connect with the author on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.

Dark Side of the Rainbow

Read all of these Dorothy Must Die books and novellas before continuing with this post. (Yes, I’m serious.)

So…you’ve no doubt gathered that I recently finished reading yet another Dorothy Must Die story. Yes, I’d say that’s pretty obvious. The latest story, Dark Side of the Rainbow, is the eighth prequel novella, and it focuses on Polychrome, the fairy in charge of the Rainbow Falls region of Oz. If you’re familiar with this series, you’ll recall that Polychrome plays an important role in The Wicked Will Rise, and this novella gives a bit of backstory to Polly’s involvement (or lack thereof) in the war brewing in Oz.

Polychrome really can’t complain about her life. She’s the Head Fairy in Charge of Rainbow Falls, the hottest vacation spot in Oz. She spends her days partying, surfing, chilling with her pet unicorn (which is not actually a unicorn), and having a grand old time. She doesn’t get why her cousin, Ozma, is always so serious. Ozma needs to loosen up and enjoy life a little, like Polly does on a regular basis. Oz will take care of itself.

Oh, if only Polly were right…

One day, a familiar face arrives in Oz and throws everything into chaos. It’s Dorothy, the Witchslayer. Polly, who doesn’t pay a ton of attention to the goings-on in Emerald City, doesn’t know how things have changed since the reappearance of Dorothy. She doesn’t know that Cousin Ozma is no longer on the throne. She doesn’t know that Dorothy is a power-hungry psycho. She doesn’t know that fear permeates everything now. All she knows is that Dorothy is visiting Rainbow Falls, and she wants to be friends. Why, though? Why is Dorothy so determined to get close to Polly?

A new friend of Polly’s, a handsome fella named Bright, tries to warn Polly about Dorothy and what she’s doing to Oz, but Polly doesn’t believe him…at first. Soon enough, however, she sees what’s happening, and she tries her best to stop it from reaching her own domain. It may be too late, though…

When Dorothy’s true nature is revealed, Polly must do whatever she can to stop this madwoman from destroying Rainbow Falls completely. Will her efforts be enough? Will this laid-back fairy give in to Dorothy, or will she become the leader Rainbow Falls needs in its darkest hour?


Maybe it’s just me, but I’m seeing parallels to American politics in a Dorothy Must Die story here. Anyone else? Something to think about.

While this wasn’t my favorite of the Dorothy Must Die novellas, I did like it, especially considering how things end up for Polly and company in The Wicked Will Rise. (No, I will not spoil it if you haven’t caught up.) I wish her relationship with Bright had been explored a bit more, but we still got a pretty decent look at how their relationship began.

Now that Dark Side of the Rainbow is out, we have just one more novella, The Queen of Oz, and the fourth and final novel, The End of Oz. Both have a publication date of March 14th. I’ll probably read the novella first and then move on to the novel. We’ll see how it goes, but I will definitely be reading both stories as soon as I possibly can.

For more information on the entire Dorothy Must Die series and Danielle Paige, connect with the author on her website, Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook.

Zero Hour

If you haven’t read the following books in the Lorien Legacies (I Am Number Four) series, go no further. You will be all kinds of lost if you haven’t read the entire series up to this point.

So…I guess it’s fairly obvious that I’ve been catching up on the Lorien Legacies series. The series as a whole is now complete, but I had to read the last collection of novellas before moving on to the seventh and final full-length novel, United As One. I’m hoping to conclude this series sometime in January, but let’s turn our attention to Zero Hour for now.

Zero Hour, like the collections before it, is comprised of three novellas that provide a little more insight into the Loric Garde, their allies, and the Mogadorians that seek to take over Earth. In this particular collection, we see things from the perspectives of several characters we’ve met before–some friendly, others not so much.

The first story in Zero Hour is Legacies Reborn, and readers are reintroduced to a character we met in The Fate of Ten. Dani Morales is a girl living in New York City. Her biggest concern is dealing with her horrible stepdad…until she realizes that aliens have invaded her city and seem determined to wipe out all traces of resistance. Separated from her mom, Dani tries to get across the city and reunite with the only person that really matters to her. She soon learns that this task won’t be easy, but she may get some help from some allies…and from some newfound powers of her own.

Next up, we have Last Defense. In this story, we learn a bit more about Malcolm Goode, otherwise known as Sam’s dad. Malcolm is still dealing with being held captive by the Mogadorians for years, reuniting with his son, and doing whatever he can to help in fighting this alien invasion. Malcolm has information that very few people on Earth are privy to, and that inside look at how the Mogadorians operate makes him valuable to those looking to combat this threat, particularly the President and his closest advisers. But how does Malcolm reconcile assisting the President with his need to keep his son safe?

Finally, there’s Hunt for the Garde. This novella is actually three stories in one, all from the perspectives of Mogadorians (or bad guys).

  • First, we hear from Phiri Dun-Ra, a loyal Mog officer who has messed up in the past and is looking to make up for it in the eyes of the Beloved Leader, Setrákus Ra. She now has her chance.
  • Second, we see Vintaro Üshaba, another loyal Mog who delights in war, inflicting pain, and furthering Mog Progress. Vintaro is merciless, and he will do whatever is necessary to bring in anyone believed to be a threat to Setrákus Ra’s plans. He thinks little of his targets, and that may be his ultimate undoing.
  • Third, we are reintroduced to Rexicus Saturnus. This young Mog, who grew up on Earth and once helped Adam escape from a Mog stronghold, is having doubts about everything happening around him. (Note: Read the other books if you don’t know who Adam is. He’s pretty important.) Maybe Adam was right about everything, including fighting against the Mogadorians. Maybe Setrákus Ra isn’t as all-powerful as he claims. Rex isn’t sure which way to turn, but he’ll have to decide which side he’s on very soon.

So, that’s Zero Hour. It definitely whets my appetite for United As One, and it hints that things are going to get much worse before they get better. I guess we’ll just have to see. At the very least, it should be interesting to see how the characters and storylines from Zero Hour play into the final chapter of this exciting series.

For much more information on the Lorien Legacies series, go to the I Am Number Four Fans website. Enjoy, and I’ll be back for my 2016 wrap-up in a couple of days.

Happy New Year!

Order of the Wicked

By this point, if you haven’t been reading all of the Dorothy Must Die books and prequel novellas, I don’t know what to tell you. Read all of the stories below before proceeding with this post.

Moving on…

A while back, Order of the Wicked, the seventh prequel novella in Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die series, was released. I finally made time to read it yesterday. This novella focuses on–you guessed it–the Order of the Wicked, particularly one girl’s experiences within the Order. The story introduces characters that we may not have seen before, but I feel sure they’ll reappear in The End of Oz, the fourth and final (?) full-length book in the series.

When Lanadel’s family is killed by Dorothy’s horrific forces, she sets her mind on revenge, and there’s only one group in Oz that may help her on her quest–the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. Risking her own life in the process, Lanadel seeks out this mysterious order, and they eventually take her in and begin to train her for the coming war.

Lanadel soon realizes that she’s got a long way to go before she’s ready to get vengeance. She’s not much of a fighter, and she has almost no magical abilities. That will soon change. With the help of Nox, her drill sergeant of a trainer, and Mombi, a witch who teaches Lanadel to tap into the magic within, this girl may start to believe that she can face off against the forces who killed her family.

But is the Order being completely honest with Lanadel…or the other people preparing for war? What secrets are they hiding? What do they really want from Lanadel and her new friend, Melindra? And what’s the deal with Melindra and Nox? Lanadel knows there’s a rocky relationship there, but it’s as complicated as her own growing feelings for Melindra.

So…what’s a girl to do? No matter what happens, Lanadel is determined to keep her focus where it belongs. She’ll get her revenge on Dorothy…and anyone else who hurts her friends or gets in her way.


This may be kind of spoilery, but I’ll go ahead and tell you that Lanadel’s story ties directly into some of the events that unfolded in Yellow Brick War. Her mission with the order deals with the land of Ev, so I am sure we’ll see more of her in the future. I’m not so sure which side she’ll be on. As for Melindra, I’m hoping she’ll return as well. I think introducing her into the Amy/Nox relationship would be extremely interesting. (If you haven’t read at least the novels in this series, none of that makes any sense.)

While Order of the Wicked is not my favorite of the prequel novellas in this series, I’m hoping it will move up the ranks once the series as a whole is complete. We’ll just have to see how it ties into future events.

As far as I know, there are still two more prequels to look forward to. I don’t know titles yet, but #0.8 is scheduled to be out on January 3rd, and #0.9 has an expected March 14th release date. I’m not too sure about that last one, though, since the fourth book, The End of Oz, also has a Marth 14th release date. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

If you’d like more information on the entire Dorothy Must Die series and the fabulous Danielle Paige, connect with the author on her website, Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook.

Yellow Brick War

Notice: Before reading the post below or Yellow Brick War, the third book in Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die series, you must read the books and prequel novellas below. If you’re all caught up, proceed at will. If not, you’ve got some work to do.

With that out of the way, let’s move on to Yellow Brick War. I’m not going to do a big recap of the series up to this point. You can read my posts on the books above for that. Let’s just jump right in, shall we?

Once again, Amy Gumm has failed in her quest to kill Dorothy. Now, she and the Order of the Wicked are stranded in Kansas, the last place Amy ever wanted to see again…but there might be something hidden here–the silver slippers that Dorothy wore during her first visit to Oz–that could help them defeat Dorothy, Glinda, and their armies before both Oz and Kansas (known to Ozians as the Other Place) are destroyed once and for all. But how is Amy supposed to find a pair of shoes that have been hidden for years and that most people don’t think exist? Well, the answer is simple.

She has to go back to high school.

Amy is reluctant to return to the life she left behind, but it is her only option. She reunites with her mother–who has undergone a drastic change for the better–and she encounters Madison, the girl who tormented her all through school. Madison, too, has changed. She’s a teen mother dealing with her own struggles and facing ostracism by those who once kowtowed to her. She and Amy form an unlikely alliance, and Amy begins to wonder if coming back to her old life–for good–might really be possible after all.

But nothing is ever that simple when it comes to the battle for Oz…

While Amy is searching her high school for the slippers that will help her and the Wicked return to Oz–because of course these magic shoes are hidden in a Kansas high school–she encounters a terrifying figure that could be even more dangerous than Dorothy or Glinda. It’s the ancient Nome King, a powerful, dark creature who has plans of his own for Amy. Could he be the one manipulating everything happening in Oz? Is he somehow connected to Glinda’s grab for power or Dorothy’s return to Oz and her addiction to magic? Amy’s not sure what’s going on, but she does know that she must do whatever it takes to save both Oz and her home (a place that’s maybe not so bad after all).

With the silver slippers–or combat boots–in her possession, Amy and the Wicked make their return to Oz to discover that things are even bleaker than ever. War with both Glinda and Dorothy is imminent. Amy and friends must gather whatever forces they can if they have any hope of defeating their foes. Amy will have to tap into the dark magic that she finds both terrifying and exhilarating. But will it be enough?

Can Amy and the Wicked win against two enormously powerful fronts? What will be lost in the process? Who will provide help when they need it the most? Will Amy finally be able to kill Dorothy and return balance to Oz? Is a much larger threat just waiting in the wings?

Discover what awaits Amy and her Wicked friends when you read Yellow Brick War, the thrilling third book in Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die series!


I’ve left soooo much out of what happens in this book. Just trust me when I say that it’s action-packed from start to finish–much like the rest of the series–and I am eager to see how things progress for Amy and company in the final book in the series, The End of Oz. This book is set to be released on February 22nd, 2017.

If February is just too darn far away for you, there are three more prequel novellas to look forward to. One of them, Order of the Wicked (novella 0.7), is already out, and I plan to read it as soon as finish a few other books-in-progress. The other two are not yet titled, and I’m not sure when they’ll be out. If the series stays true to form, they’ll be available before February.

For more information on this wonderful series and author extraordinaire Danielle Paige, connect with the author on her website, Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook. You may also want to check out Epic Reads’ Yellow Brick War book trailer below. It’s pretty great.

Finally, Danielle Paige is scheduled to be at YALLFest again this year, so, if you’d like to attend this outstanding YA book festival in lovely Charleston, SC, this November, click here for more info. I hope to see you there!

Tell the Wind and Fire

On April 5th, Sarah Rees Brennan’s new book, Tell the Wind and Fire, will be released. Thanks to NetGalley, I was able to read the book a little early, and I bring you my thoughts on this gripping fantasy today.

I began reading Tell the Wind and Fire in early March, and I have to admit that it took me quite some time to really get invested in the story. It wasn’t clear in the beginning what kind of world I was reading about. It took a while for me to figure out just what was going on in this futuristic, magic-infused version of New York. Truth be told, I’m still trying to work things out. The story did pick up, though, and the more I read, the more intrigued I was…and the more I saw our world reflected in the pages of this book.

The world is divided. Those who live in the Light enjoy wealth, luxury, and freedom. Those in the Dark are poor, hungry, and oppressed. Lucie Manette, born in the Dark, is part of both worlds, and she skirts a fine line between wanting to stay safe and knowing that things should be changed.

Lucie is a Light Magician. As such, she practices what is considered the most pure form of magic. She’s used her magic to save her father and earn a place in Light New York. She has a seemingly perfect boyfriend, Ethan, son of the most powerful family in the city, and, though some things weigh on her, life is going relatively well for Lucie.

Until it’s not.

A disturbing encounter on a train brings both Lucie and Ethan face-to-face with a secret that could tear both of their worlds apart. It is here that they meet Carwyn, a young man created with the Darkest of magic. He saves Ethan from a horrible fate…by revealing that he is Ethan’s doppelganger, a Dark Magician who could destroy Ethan and his entire family.

Carwyn’s sudden appearance begins a series of events that force both Lucie and Ethan to confront what’s really going on in the city…and what they must do to change things. But their action–or lack thereof–may not be enough to control the storm that is coming. Those in the Dark are determined to wage war, and they see Lucie as the face of their revolution. They’re determined to beat back the Light…at any cost.

What is Lucie to do? How can she possibly take on one more burden when she already feels overloaded by everything she’s done and the many secrets she’s keeping? Can she trust Carwyn to help her save Ethan–and many others–from a terrible fate? What is her connection to this Dark revolution, and can she use that connection to her advantage?

The Light and the Dark are at war in New York City, and Lucie must decide what she’s willing to do–and who she’s willing to sacrifice–to save those she loves. What will she ultimately decide? And how will that shape Lucie in the fight to come? Discover the truth for yourself when you read Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan.


According to the author’s note at the end of the book, Tell the Wind and Fire is a loose retelling of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I wish I had known that going in. I’m not a huge Dickens fan, but I may have read A Tale of Two Cities before starting this book if I had known of that connection. (I loathed Dickens in high school. I haven’t revisited his books as an adult. It may be time to change that. Maybe I’ll enjoy his work more now.) As it is, reading both books could lead to some interesting discussions and comparisons.

Tell the Wind and Fire definitely illuminates the differences between the haves and have-nots in any society. Unless you’re living under a rock, you know that this is something our society deals with daily. The “haves” keep getting more, can buy their way out of nearly anything, and enjoy a life of privilege. The “have-nots” are persecuted, blamed for their circumstances, feared, and oftentimes barely surviving. What’s more, those in power frequently do whatever they can to keep the have-nots at the bottom of the food chain, enacting laws and erecting walls that divide the world more than ever.

Am I talking about the book or the world today? Exactly.

This book is sure to start some lively discussions amongst its readers. It is violent, timely, and thought-provoking. I look forward to reading more and seeing how Lucie handles everything that happens and where it leads her. (I have no idea when we can expect a second book, but, given how Tell the Wind and Fire ended, I’m pretty confident that a sequel is coming.)

I would recommend Tell the Wind and Fire to YA and adult readers. It is extremely violent at times and deals with a politically turbulent society. Older readers, in my opinion, will appreciate the horrors and complexities in this book more than middle grade readers will.

If you’d like to learn more about Tell the Wind and Fire or other books by Sarah Rees Brennan, you can connect with the author on her website, Tumblr, and Twitter. You may also want to take a look at the book trailer below. It gives a bit more information about Tell the Wind and Fire and may explain things a bit better than I did.