Tag Archive | suspense

Review: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

Series: The Valiant #1

the valiant -lesley livingstonPrincess. Captive. Gladiator.

Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king, the sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha, and the sworn enemy of Julius Caesar.

When Fallon was a child, Caesar’s armies invaded her homeland, and her beloved sister was killed in battle.

Now, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is eager to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in the fearsome Cantii war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival.

Now Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries and deadly fights—in and out of the arena. And perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her forbidden yet irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier.


4 Drink Me Potions


I’ve loved this author since day 1 with her first published YA work on fairies and Shakespearean works. Likewise, Lesley Livingston’s latest series starting with The Valiant is a sight to behold with kickass female characters and an intriguing plot set in historical times.

Gladiators. What’s more to love about that? Well. Other than the fact that this book features FEMALE gladiators. Strong. Cunning. And lethal.

I liked Fallon. She kinda fell into this after the chaos that happened in her home land. But she gave it her all and trained herself as no princess would’ve been expected to know. For that, I admire Livingston’s ability to always write female protagonists that are funny, relatable and easy to like.

But the other thing to absolutely rave about is the wonderful research (with a pinch of imagination) that went into creating the beautiful setting of Julius Caesar’s Roman Empire. I liked how it featured as much Roman accuracy as the author’s imagination for the time period. It felt real enough while still being in the realm of fantasy and mysticism for how much of this really could’ve happened this way. For history buffs, I think you’d be pleased.

HOWEVER. The romance with a Roman soldier working under Caesar really helped tie it together. It wasn’t so much a forbidden love trope (although it still is) but it featured lovely conversations throughout the story that were both fun and added to the level of suspense and intrigue.

The Valiant continues strongly with what Lesley Livingston does best with her stories. Any fan of hers won’t be disappointed with this latest addition to her YA works, and new fans would be in the making as well. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next in this series, and from her.

Overall Recommendation:

The Valiant features a cast of strong females who may fight in the ring, but redefines the bonds of loyalty. Mysterious and full of intrigue, Lesley Livingston brings another fantasy reimagining set in the historical Roman Empire of action, love and war. Fallon’s discovery of who she can be and the family she can make for herself was a wondrous journey to behold. I hope many others would come to realize just how phenomenal Livingston’s writing can be. This book does not disappoint.

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Review: Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski

Series: Dare Mighty Things #1

dare mighty things -heather kaczynskiTHE RULES ARE SIMPLE: You must be gifted. You must be younger than twenty-five. You must be willing to accept the dangers that you will face if you win.

Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Gupta’s entire life has been leading up to this—the opportunity to travel to space. But to secure a spot on this classified mission, she must first compete against the best and brightest people on the planet. People who are as determined as she to win a place on a journey to the farthest reaches of the universe.

Cassie is ready for the toll that the competition will take; the rigorous mental and physical tests designed to push her to the brink of her endurance. But nothing could have prepared her for the bonds she would form with the very people she hopes to beat. Or that with each passing day it would be more and more difficult to ignore the feeling that the true objective of the mission is being kept from her.

As the days until the launch tick down and the stakes rise higher than ever before, only one thing is clear to Cassie: she’ll never back down . . . even if it costs her everything.


3 Drink Me Potions


**Dare Mighty Things comes out October 10, 2017**

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

Dare Mighty Things holds tightly to a suspenseful twist that underlies the simplicity of the main plotline, and is surprisingly thrilling upon its reveal. It definitely shocked me out of the predictable rut I had placed it in.

There’s a lot of interesting things that were a first for me in this book. Although it was marketed as a selection process similar to The Selection, it’s a lot more grueling academically and physically. Brilliant young minds from across all of the world competing for a spot in NASA’s joint program in sending someone into space with a crew of seasoned astronauts? Believe me when I say the words here sometimes get so big that even my science-loving brain is trying to figure out the physics.

This bunch of young adults ranging in age from 18 to 25 or so were written in such a realistic way that it felt you could’ve met someone them in person. Their personalities weren’t so cliched as the socially awkward yet ridiculously smart nerds. Instead, they were completely multi-faceted and wholly tangible.

That included the protagonist, Cassie Gupta, an Indian-American girl who identified as asexual. This little tidbit wasn’t made clear straight off the bat, but it was kind of implied under the surface for a while even before it was explicitly identified. Personally, I liked her, all of her. Her mind was brilliant, but seeing how she interacted with others and how she developed from the most anti-social person I’ve read about yet to someone who truly valued the friendships she’s made throughout selection was above all intriguing. Her good friends, Emilio and Mitsuko, were both fun yet understandable characters to keep the story engaging but also relatable. I thought the whole cast was well-written.

There was always a hint of potential romance with foreign diplomat, Luka. Considering she’s asexual, there is still a considerable amount of underlying tension going on that was fun. Whether a true romance in any sense would develop, I’m satisfied with the way things are relationship-wise. Heather did a great job in making it so that we, the readers, aren’t terribly dissatisfied with an element of any YA story that a ton of people look forward to (myself included).

While I’ve been raving about firsts and things that were great, the setback still remains the pacing of the plot. I honestly think the selection process took too long to get through. Nothing much happens until you hit the 70% mark. Sure, people slowly dwindle away as the competition are kicked out of the program, but it kept bothering me that the SECRET about the program wouldn’t reveal itself until almost the end. That’s when the true suspense and action really started ratcheting up. I had to satisfy myself with rampant theories about what it could be until then (I secretly was wondering if the competition wasn’t really getting sent home but might’ve led to a more sinister outcome upon rejection from the program).

I can’t say if I loved the way the story twisted at the end or not. It was a bit surprising, although the more I think about it, the more I should’ve seen it coming. I suppose I was pretty far down the rabbit hole I had dug out for this story in my wild theories to have considered another alternative. But anyhow, Dare Mighty Things brings with it a mighty strong debut filled with a cast of intelligent yet different individuals who have to ask themselves one huge question: just how far are they willing to go to make history for mankind in the vast unknowns?

Overall Recommendation:
Dare Mighty Things has many things that should intrigue a fan of sci-fi, including a mysterious program with an unknown objective into space exploration and a cast of diverse characters. Regardless of the lack of romance that occurs in this book, the friendships Cassie develops (which says a lot for a competitive anti-social girl like her) are just a thrilling as she navigates the challenges in attaining the prized spot among the space crew. I loved the science – albeit the sci-fi type that pushes the plausible – and the simmering suspense of what lay ahead for these brilliant minds to discover. If it wasn’t for the ridiculously slow plot, I’d say this would make it one solid debut. As it is, this book should still satisfy lovers of space and sci-fi.

Review: Absolute Fear by Lisa Jackson

Series: New Orleans #4

absolute fear -lisa jacksonEvery Serial Killer…

A serial killer is stalking the streets of New Orleans. The victims are killed in a ritual fashion, a series of numbers tattooed into their bodies. There are no clues, no connections except one: a crumbling old asylum that was once the scene of unspeakable madness–and is now the calling card of a new kind of fear.

Is Searching For…

Eve Renner knows Our Lady of Virtues Hospital well. As the daughter of one of its doctors, she spent her childhood exploring its secrets chambers, hidden rooms, and forbidden passageways. Now, somewhere in the decaying asylum lies the key to a betrayal from the past whose echoes are being felt with a vengeance–a crime beyond imagining that seems to lead to Eve herself.

The Perfect Victim…

As each new body is found and forgotten, memories surface, and Eve must race to put together a deadly puzzle, one terrifying piece at a time. A killer is watching, planning, luring her back to the ruins of Our Lady and the shocking truths hidden there. For the sins of the past must be revealed, and the price paid–in blood…


4 Drink Me Potions


This was my first Lisa Jackson mystery (I know, why pop into the 4th book of a series? I don’t have an answer for you), and I was fascinated with the killer. Not in some creepy obsessive way. The killer was obviously deranged in more ways than one with a God complex. For some reasons, those kinds of killers always seemed so much scarier, maybe ’cause it’s not implausible that someone in real life could think like that.

Anyway, the premise of the killings and the romance itself were intriguing. Tattooed numbers on the victims with seemingly random numbers. A very scary setting at an abandoned insane asylum complete with all those old inhumane machines they used to use, like electroshock therapy. The protagonist Eve had even initially thought she saw her ex-fiance Cole point a gun at her and shoot her. So the romance already is at odds. But somehow, everything wound itself together in all the right ways.

Amidst what I thought were the two main characters, there’s also Detectives Montoya and Bentz, who are apparently very central to this series (like I said, I came in late). Laughingly, I even suspected one of these detectives planting evidence on Cole before I figured out they were protagonists too.

This was a good mystery that kept me on my toes as every time I thought I had a culprit in mind, some other weird clue or discovery made me second guess myself. As it turns out, it wasn’t as simple or predictable as I thought the answer would be. The whole mystery made sense, which is no small feat when writing a plausible motive behind such atrocious acts, and the weird clues and tattoos were resolved in a way that made me go “ohhhh, why didn’t I think of that?”. I believe Lisa Jackson has just made a fan of me.

There were a few things that I didn’t love as much, such as the explicit nature of the killer. Whenever we see their POV, it’s like they’re always lusting after Eve. Ridiculously lusting after her. Is there ever a time when he wasn’t? I’m not sure if all of that was necessary, but oh well. Additionally, the romance just felt lacking in some ways. The way Eve started trusting Cole again, even though I always knew he was being wrongly accused, just didn’t feel quite enough. It’s a huge toll on a relationship to accuse the other capable of murder. Other than these few tidbits that just bothered me, Absolute Fear was a good introduction to Jackson’s mysteries. I look forward to reading some more by her in the future.