What I read this week:
“Traitors always pay for their sins,” I hissed.
Kill the Queen is the first book in Jennifer Estep’s brand new fantasy series, Crown of Shards. I picked this book up to read at the end of the day, thinking I would get in a few chapters before bed and then finish it the next day. HAHAHAHA. It wasn’t until I was huddled with my Kindle under my comforter at 2 am, 75% in, trying not to wake up my husband, but unable to stop myself from reading that I knew I had made a mistake. Yes, I finished. Yes, I was blurry eyed and tired the next day. Yes, it was totally worth it.
I wasn’t the least bit surprised that this author opened this book in the castle kitchens, or that the heroine was preparing food. I also wasn’t surprised by how much I loved the heroine of Kill the Queen. After all, Jennifer Estep writes awesome female protagonists. Everleigh Saffira Winter Blair is the orphaned cousin of the Queen of Bellona. She has very little magic and very little worth within the kingdom. Her hopes of finding a true home within the palace and a friend in her cousin, Princess Vasilia, are dashed when Vasilia shows her true colors and just how cruel she can be. So Evie decides that staying quiet, out of the way, and under the radar is the only way she will survive the treacherousness that is life at court. And no one can find out about her secondary magical talent, her immunity to magic.
This book starts out by setting the stage, introducing the main characters and giving glimpses into the history of the Bellona Kingdom and the Blair royal line. Then BAM, it hits you with blood and violence, death and treachery. All of the Blairs wiped out except for Vasilia, and an angry, scared Evie who must find a place to hide for her safety. She follows the late Queen’s directions, given right before her death, and heads towards the gladiator troupe known as Black Swan. Keeping her true identity under wraps, she finds a place in the kitchens and training with the other performers and fighters. But when Vasilia threatens the entire kingdom with war under false pretentions will she keep her silence about who she really is and what really happened during the royal massacre?
Without giving away any plot or spoilers, let me just say that this book rocked my socks off. I loved it. I loved the set up, I loved the heroine, and I loved the world building. I quite literally, could not put it down. I was at the edge of my seat trying to figure out what was going to happen next. Even at 2 am when my husband woke up and complained about the light from my Kindle screen being too bright, all I could say was “I’m 77% in and I think I know what’s about to happen, pull the blanket up over your head.” LOL.
I loved the growth of the main protagonist… from the meek Everleigh trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, to the Evie who is scared, yet determined to fit in with her new gladiator troupe, to the Black Swan who has found her strength and who doesn’t take shit from anyone anymore. There were times I wanted to shout at her for keeping certain truths to herself, but in the end I could understand why she did. It’s obvious that the author intends to pair her with Lucas Sullivan, magier to the Black Swan, and bastard prince of another kingdom. Their chemistry steadily built throughout the book and I am looking forward to the continued angsty buildup that this author is sure to put her reader’s through before she finally gives in and brings them together.
The next book in the series, Protect the Prince, has a release date of May 15, 2019 and I’m hoping to learn more details regarding the deaths of Evie’s parents. I have a feeling that the events of the past will play a large part in the current struggle for power going on within this world and how Evie reacts going forward. I’m so excited that Ms. Estep has a new series to look forward to and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Final Grade- A
What I read in KU:
I wanted a job where no one could fire me. I wanted a paycheck that couldn’t be docked. I wanted to buy my own place where no one could kick me out. I wanted to work hard and earn a living and support myself, and I didn’t want anyone to have the power to take that away from me.
I picked this book up on a whim because both the blurb and the cover worked for me. The heroine of this book is a regular woman taking college classes and working her ass off waiting tables in restaurants to earn a living. She is currently without her own residence and sleeping on her brother’s couch because she can’t keep her mouth shut, her opinion to herself and a regular job. All of this works to her benefit when she happens upon an opening for a bartender at a shady looking bar on the border of the wrong side of town. Turns out it’s not an ordinary bar at all, but a guild and the gathering spot for mages, psychics, and spell casters of all kinds.
I liked this book. I really liked the fact that Tori was a regular human with no magical powers, but manages to hold her own and even ends up saving the day. The three mages in the title of the book refer to the three mages that Tori verbally spars with and ultimately dumps a drink on the first night of her bartending gig. They are also the three people she befriends and who become her constant companions. It states right in the blurb that this isn’t a reverse harem (thank you for that), but there are hints of a romance blossoming (I won’t mention with who) so I’ll be interested to see what develops as the series progresses. I’m hoping this doesn’t turn into one of those love triangle things.
The world-building is very intriguing, I can see so many possibilities and room for expansion. For a first book in a series I thought the author did a nice job with set up and pacing. This was a good KU find and I’m really looking forward to the second book in the series, Dark Arts and a Daiquiri, which releases on November 16th.
Final Grade- B-
An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris– I didn’t get to this last week, but it’s happening this week. Review will post next week.
Sidecar Crush by Claire Kingsley and Lucy Score– Book two in the Bootleg Springs series, this time its Jameson Bodine’s turn to find his HEA.
The Wolf at the Door by Charlie Adhara– I’ve heard such good things about this book. A M/M PNR by a debut author featuring an FBI agent paired up with a sexy werewolf.
Willa’s Beast by Ruby Dixon– I’ll read anything by Ruby Dixon. I don’t care if it’s dragons or aliens or blue space pirates. This is book three in her Icehome series.