Review: Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

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CROWN PRINCESS RHIANNON TA’AN WANTS VENGEANCE.

The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, RHEE has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne – and her revenge.

ALYOSHA is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding – even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee’s name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.

In this exhilarating debut for fans of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy, RHODA BELLEZA crafts a powerful saga of vengeance, warfare, and the true meaning of legacy.

review

3/5 Stars

  • Suspense. Though the pacing was sometimes iffy, the uncertainty, danger, and desperation of both Aly and Rhee’s situations keep the intensity up and I never wanted to stop reading, I needed to know what happened and whether Rhee and Aly would ever cross paths. There’s an abundance of intrigue, evil, and sabotage throughout that happens almost at random.
  • Aly’s POV. I adored Aly. He was unexpected and engaging. A reality TV star of an obliterated planet who goes around hunting down illegal ships? I mean what’s not to love? He’s a little serious, a tad brooding, but curious and courageous. He sometimes lets his prejudice get in the way and those flaws only made him more endearing. Aly spends his time on the run, getting into precarious situations just as dangerous and exciting as Rhee’s. Aly’s POV was more introspective and thoughtful, he judged himself, his actions, and embraced the wild goose chase because he had no choice. His lighter-hearted sections were a nice balance to Rhee’s. Pavel, Aly’s sidekick robot ❤ He’s witty and intelligent and compliments Aly’s BA mechanical skills. 
  • I loved the politics when they were there. The distinctions between races, the disgust, the hatred, how people from certain planets are degraded and looked down on. It’s terrible and complex and made me hurt for those poor slaughtered people and the anguish they went through as their families were killed, their planets destroyed, and everything they knew replaced by revulsion and rejection. The technology is intriguing. I loved the cubes. It’s like this piece that attached to them that tracks everything. Their movements, their memories, and syncs. But holy invasion of privacy and huge risk. It felt like paranoia on the horizon, like someone had to be listening in or something. Totally creepy. 
  • Dahlen. Oh man did I absolutely love this character. He doesn’t have a POV, but I wish he did. He’s complex, has a convoluted and slightly insane, almost cult-like back story and I wanted so much more. He’s the kind of character that you know in actions seems evil or at the very least misguided, but something makes you question his motives and whether he’s hiding his true self. Plus he’s fierce, crafty, clever, and always coming up with ways to escape seemingly impossible situations. 

CONS:

  • Foreshadowing is difficult to get right, go too far and everything becomes predictable. In the first few pages I knew pretty much every twist and every reveal. It was all there in leading sentences that made you pause for a minute and think. Everything was too obvious, too handed to the reader and it took a lot away from the suspense that should have been building as Rhee and Aly fled for their lives. 
  • Worldbuilding. Don’t get me wrong, the world was there, it was solid but it felt like it was only a layer above the foundation. There are several planets, different races(?) of people, and a storm of politics that pit planets against each other and enforce hatred and prejudice. That was epic, though lacking somewhat in description. It was hard to follow the politics and keep track of the planets as the story progressed. I would have loved a little more why. Why the animosity? Why was it so easy to turn people against each other? Why and where does the planetary hierarchy begin and end? I had several questions and too few answers. 
  • As much as it pains me to say this, I did not like Rhee. Not even remotely and despite her slight growth, she did not grow on me. Rhee is naive and will not listen to reason. She’s been holding onto a grudge for years with zero proof, only her poorly constructed conjecture. Everyone can tell who the bad guys are, there’s no speculation except from the main character. Weird. Rhee thinks the wrong things through. It’s like at every turn she’s focused on random stuff instead of the bigger picture. It drove me mad. She thinks she knows absolutely everything and doesn’t leave room for anyone else’s opinions or facts, she goes head first into whatever situation and then afterwards is like, oh wow, I was wrong how did that happen? Maybe I should have listened? And then shrug. I wrote status updates and notes throughout reading, which took far longer than it should have I might add, and I don’t think I’ve ever used the words “duh” and “obviously” so much in my life. And she’s supposed to be the savior, the key that will stop an inevitable war, and an empress? Rhee needs decades worth of growth and maturity and a whole lot of councillors before that could ever seem remotely possible.
  • Side note: I would not compare this to Red Rising. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Intriguing reading, 

Jordan

Release Day Blitz: The Lilac Sky by Diana Gardin

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“Do you hear me, Isla? Survive.”

Those are the last words seventeen-year-old Isla hears from her parents. She’s placed into a cylinder craft and catapulted through space, saying goodbye to them and her precious, dying Earth.

Crash-landing on a foreign planet, Isla stumbles into a striking Troman warrior, Rygen. He is shocked to discover a human deep in the jungles of his planet but with his home in political turmoil, he has no desire to assist the weak creature.

Knowing that she’ll never survive without them, Isla convinces Rygen and his comrades to escort her, but she has no time to catch her breath. The dangerous journey navigating the rugged, lush terrain of Troma with the strong and brooding Rygen is only the beginning of Isla’s battle.

Isla never dreamed her very existence would threaten to throw the foreign planet into a gruesome revolution. Hunted by radicals as she discovers her dormant powerful Gift, Isla fights not only for survival but also for the her heart’s true desire. But only time will tell if she can truly endure on a hostile planet where her kind just doesn’t fit.

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Excerpt“Where are we?” Curiosity coats my tone as I glance at Ebin.

He’s staring at the doors. “This is my family’s apartment.”

Surprise causes me to reel back a step. “And why are we here?”

His eyes narrow as he scans my face. “I am not sure.”

Placing my hands on the doors, I trace the ornate markings with my fingers. The doors capture me, pulling me toward them with the force of their very being. I move closer as I feel vibrations beneath my fingertips, a song that only the bronze metal knows.

I lean my cheek against the cool metallic covering, feeling the rhythms under my skin.
Inside my soul.

My lips part and I whisper a song I never even knew I had inside me.

The words flow seamlessly from my lips to the doors, as if I’d known the lyrics all my life. And when I’m done, the door disappears, giving me entrance into Ebin’s apartment.

I step back, astonishment filling me up until I’m in danger of bursting.
“What the heck did I just do?” My whisper drifts around in the fog of my unexpected accomplishment.

Ebin steps up beside me. When I look at him, the expression on his face is one of wonder. Of shock. Of awe.

“You just gained un-permitted entry into my home. With your voice.”

authorDiana GardinFACEBOOK/TWITTER/GOODREADS/WEBSITE

Diana Gardin is the author of Romance in a multitude of age ranges and genres. Her works include the Ashes Series, the Nelson Island Series, and the Battle Scars series. Upcoming works include the Rescue Ops Series (Battle Scars spinoff coming in June 2017) and The Lilac Sky (The Troma Chronicles Book 1).

Diana loved writing at a young age, but decided to try and make a career out of it in 2012 while staying home with her first child. When she’s not writing, you can usually find Diana watching one of her Netflix Obsessions, spending time with her family, or drinking wine with friends.

Magical reading, 

Jordan

Cover Reveal: 27 Hours by Tristina Wright

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Release Date: October 3, 2017

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Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.

But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.

Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother’s shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon’s darkest secret.

They’ll both have to commit treason to find the truth.

During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left.

author

Tristina Wright is a blue-haired bisexual with anxiety and opinions. She’s also possibly a mermaid, but no one can get confirmation. She fell in love with science fiction and fantasy at a young age and frequently got caught writing in class instead of paying attention. She enjoys worlds with monsters and kissing and monsters kissing. She married a nerd who can build computers and make the sun shine with his smile. Most days, she can be found drinking coffee from her favorite chipped mug and making up more stories for her wombfruit, who keep life exciting and unpredictable.

Still trying to figure out the mermaid thing.

Epic reading, 
Jordan

Lost Review: Riding the Odds-Lynda K. Scott

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“Fire. Kissing Tara Rowan was like touching living fire, magical fire that heated his body but didn’t burn. Magical fire that warned him, filled him, made him want more. More…He tilted his head, deepening the kiss. Her response was all he could have wished for. She parted her lips and he took immediate advantage to taste her.”

cooltext1790897456 copyAn act of desperation and the beginning of seduction…

Spaceship captain Tara Rowan has her secrets. One is her Rider, Zie. Zie is an organic symbiote—like a living tattoo—that enhances Tara’s physical abilities, including superhuman strength and reflexes. The other is the past she’s tried so hard to leave behind her. But it’s not until oh-so-sexy Trace Munroe decides to blackmail Tara that she realizes her secrets aren’t so secret after all…

Trace is a Holy Knight who does everything by the book. Desperate to find a missing princess, he’ll do whatever it takes to rescue her and bring her kidnappers to justice. Including blackmail. Yet something about the feisty ship captain draws Trace in and stirs his desire—even if she is a wanted criminal. Because the last thing he needs is any complications…especially when he has his own secrets to hide.

cooltext1790896132 copy4/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via Entangled. 

Two words. Space Pirates. Riding the Odds is an intergalactic enterprise filled with startling twists, action, romance and comedy. A stunning mix of science fiction and paranormal, Riding the Odds is Firefly meets Star Wars.

I read this over a year ago and still feel a rush when I think about this story.

The chemistry is explosive, out of this solar system, fiery heat that is as magnetic as it is sexy. It’s slow to start and takes some building, but worth it. 

Tara is a strong, independent woman who does what she wants, when she wants, and takes risks that most would think are crazy but for her, it works. Tara is on a mission. She’s going to do everything in her power to make it on her own, to escape her past, and live a general badass existence. She radiates sex appeal and charisma. Her snark, her prowess, she’s like a mesmerizing lioness on the prowl. ❤ Tara has a past, a back story that is as intriguing, if not more so, than the central plot. The secrets, the drama, the butt-kicking. Yes, yes, yes. 

Zie. Oh my Zie is adorable and sweet and innocent and the interactions between Zie and Tara are lovable, full of laughs, and oh so endearing. You won’t be able to help yourself from falling hard for this cute character. 

The plot is action-packed, complex, and will keep you entertained, that’s a promise. 

Trace HOLY KNIGHT Monroe. Just wow. Loyal, determined, full of erotic thoughts and he too has some insane secrets. Some of his lines. Get ready to laugh at the banter.

Some of the world building was super slow to get into and it may take a bit for the story to hook you, but when it does, you won’t be able to stop. Be patient, give it a chance to catch you.

Epic reading, 

Jordan

Review: The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

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Nemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic Senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The girl who has grown up by her side and who is as much as sister as a master. There’s no one Nemesis wouldn’t kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia.

She must become her.

Now one of the galaxy’s most dangerous weapons is masquerading in a world of corruption and Nemesis has to hide her true abilities or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns that there is something stronger than her deadly force: the one thing she’s been told she doesn’t have – humanity. And, amidst all the danger, action and intrigue, her humanity might be the only thing that can save her, Sidonia and the entire Empire…

review

4/5 Stars 

READ THIS BOOK IF:

  • You like Red Queen, The Young Elites, An Ember in the Ashes or The Winner’s Curse
  • You like dark and twisted rulers
  • You’re patient and like space sagas

The Diabolic is an engaging, twisted, and complex read. Packed with threats that will chill you to the bone, heartless rulers, and unexpected heroes, The Diabolic is a pleasant surprise. 

PROS:

  • I loved Nemesis. She’s complex, conflicted, and courageous. Torn between what she’s been told her entire life about inability to feel and the emotions that rise up in her, Nemesis resists with all her might and yet, asks herself some seriously profound questions about the nature of feeling, whether created creatures can have souls, and if they get an afterlife. It’s fascinating and heartbreaking. When Nemesis thinks of all that’s been taken from her simply by being made Diabolic-chills. Nemesis is relatable, which is crazy because she’s far from the average girl/teen, but her struggle to figure out all the feels raging through her and where she belongs in society, that is something everyone goes through. Nemesis is loyal, so loyal that she’s willing to sacrifice everything for Sidonia. That kind of love can spark a revolution. 
  • The ending. OMG the last half of the book. Packed with action, twists, turns, and general insanity.
  • Secondary characters are all shades of awesome and despicable. The married couple are complete sadists and generally disgusting human beings. The evil is strong in this story, so strong it will make you sick. Just when you think people can’t possibly get worse-WRONG. 
  • The chemistry. It’s wave your hand in front of your face because you’re on fire-hot. Though sudden and spaced out, there’s something about these two. No spoilers. 
  • That intro scene. It’s brutal and informative and sucks you right it. It might just be one of my favorite book openings ever. 

CONS:

  • The world building was slow to start, lacked clarity, and took a while to establish itself. In a world where politics reign supreme, a more thorough insight into the rivalries, the importance of each region, and the differences between those who live on stations and those who live on planets would have helped magnify the dire situation and made a stronger emotional impact.
  • Occasionally, the story felt formulaic, like it could have easily fit into another book, so much so that a few plot points were expected and therefore, predictable. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Read on, 

Jordan

Lost Review & New Review: Illuminae and Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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synThis morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

review4/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Illuminae is a reading experience. The documents, interviews, emails, and recordings get the reader involved in every clue, panic attack, and bit of romance in this epic space thriller.

The pacing is inconsistent. At first, it’s an action-packed thrill ride that will keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat. The setting is insane. The danger, the terror of the invasion-it’s beyond intense. The middle part, despite the varied documents lags behind that initial hysteria only to pick up at the end with an unexpected and terrifying twist. 

Some scenes are gory and full of sickening detail. It’s awesome. The attacks are straight out of your favorite horror film and darkest nightmares. 

The world building is fierce and complex and full of politics that put profit over humanity. It’s cruel, despicable, and packed with drama. 

Kady is stellar as a protagonist. She’s conflicted in love, nostalgic, occasionally scared and so relatable, despite being a mad hacker on a space ship. Kady has skills. She uses her brain to dip into the computer systems and uncover secrets, take control, and steer everyone aboard away from utter destruction. The adrenaline is high. Her task has slim odds for survival and yet, Kady NEVER gives up. No matter how much is thrown at her, she fights and fights and keeps fighting for her people. 

The AI, wow. Unexpected and so cool. He’s got personality and such a presence. He’s dangerous, deadly, and struggles to understand emotion, but he’s sort of lovable in a weird way and the only thing saving our heroes from total devastation.

gemina

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Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

review

4/5 Stars 

My core issue with Gemina was the lack of rehash early on. There’s no explanation of previous events in Illuminae so I spent most of the book wondering what was going on and when it would link up with the previous story. I was super confused for much of the book. 

Hanna has a big personality, maybe even more epic than Kady’s in book 1. She’s a total, unabashed B.A. character. She’s fierce, intelligent, sexy, and full of sass. She flirts and plays and is one heck of a vixen, but underneath her perky, blonde exterior is a deadly force. Her fighting skills, her Sun Tzu references, her tactical skills, she’s wicked awesome and completely refreshing. She owns her body, her life, and will mess up anyone that threatens her. I’m impressed with how she transforms from a party girl to a warrior. The transition is smooth, floating to the surface because it was always a part of her. 

The added dynamic of Russian gang life was a marvelous addition to this story. The danger, the intrigue, the stories that went along with the Knives, the drama, it totally swept me away. 

Cat and mouse game to the extreme. Man the hunt is deadly, bloody, full of gross description, and the code names alone-each and every character is different, has a strong personality, and has their own reason for trying to capture Hanna. 

There’s a twist. It’s made of science and theory, and is a little confusing but the illustration helps. Oh the illustrations. They’re beautiful and hilarious, part comic book style and part precise diagrams. 

Elena. Oh my gosh, I love her. She’s a sarcasm queen, witty, and full of life. She doesn’t take put downs from anyone and is a genius on the computer. She’s a heroine that may even trump Hanna. Her interactions with Nik are adorable and lively. They fight like siblings, but the love floats off the pages.

Nik is complex. He’s a pervert, a flirt, and his comebacks are hilarious. He’s got the House of Knives gang cred and the tattoos to prove it. He’s so much more than meets the eye. He’s a big softy underneath that tough exterior and loves so hard it will make you swoon. His story is made of drama and lies and twists that will keep you guessing about who he truly is. 

I loved the set up at the end. The parallel between Hanna and Nik, the use of color, the poetic way it works together as one narrative despite the circumstances *no spoilers*. You have to see it. Trust me, it’s genius. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Intense reading,

Jordan

Release Blitz & Giveaway: Solstice by Braxton A. Cosby

synWhat You Believe, Can Destroy You!
             William and Sydney have sacrificed everything to fortify their love, so much so that William dares to brave the depths of space to find a cure for their deadly Supernova bond, leaving both her and Earth vulnerable to Torrian Alliance attack. But with a full scale rebellion in play on Fabricius, the reality of Sydney’s execution from Torrian hands is diminished, only eclipsed by the certainty of a more threats – The Third Faction and The Dagmas Clan – lead by Dominic and his insurgent recruits.
             With overwhelming odds mounting against them, William makes a desperate attempt to find the last of the endangered Star-children only to be captured by a new menace, where he is forced to compete in the dreaded Gauntlet of sport. Allies surge to free Fabricius, seeking alliances across the galaxy while Sydney tries to keep her identity hidden and trains to master the third phase of her Star-child evolution: Solstice.
             With Sarah’s mysterious return home with clues to unlock the future, Noella’s training and Bill’s symbiotic development hope is restored, but will it be enough to unite the galaxy and destroy evil for once and for all?
author
Multi-Award Winning and #1 Amazon Bestselling author Braxton A. Cosby is a dreamer who transitioned his ideas on pen and paper to pixels and keyboards. He tells stories that evoke emotions and stimulate thought. PROTOSTAR: BOOK 1 OF THE STARCROSSED SAGA and THE SECT: THE WINDGATE are currently Young Adult/New Adult series he created. He has written over 10 novels, including his new Superhero adventure book, THE CAPE is book three of the Dark Spores Series. He lives in Georgia with his amazing wife and a highly energetic Morkie named StarKozy.
giveawayEnter for your chance to win audio copies of books 1 &2 and an ebook copy 
Exciting reading, 
Jordan