Happy Tuesday! It occurred to me the other day as I was grumbling to a friend about the wait time on a library book that I use every source available to me to further my book habit. I read and review ARCs, I check out ebooks from the library, I utilize Kindle Unlimited frequently and I am the worst about purchasing books on sale. It doesn’t matter how big my TBR, I will hit the one-click button on a good deal in a hot minute. So I figured I would start adding that information when I review.
The second book in Jennifer Estep’s Crown of Shards fantasy series picks up a few months after Evie takes over the throne after killing her cousin. Now is when the hard part really begins and she must navigate a hostile court while trying to salvage relations with the Kingdom of Andvari all while evading assassins and staying alive. At least she has friends and allies willing to watch her back.
I won’t go into all the minute details regarding the plot, because frankly I’m not giving away a ton of spoilers. But I will say that even though it had been quite some time since I read the first book in the series, Kill the Queen, as soon as I picked this book up I was immediately drawn right back into this world and didn’t want to leave. I practically finished reading in one sitting.
There is a lot going on both with the world-building and plot. Evie travels to Andvari in order to try and salvage diplomatic relations and hopefully to gain an ally in the fight against Morta. Andvari happens to be the home of Lucas Sullivan, magier enforcer to the Black Swan Gladiator troupe and Evie’s love interest. He is the bastard son of the King, but still well loved and missed by his family. He can’t smooth her way with his father, but he can give her advice. There is A LOT of romantic tension between these two and it took everything I had not to skip to the end to see if they would finally give in and just have each other, because holy smokes.
Assassination attempts, political intrigue, some fun and playful snarkiness between Evie and her friends, mystery, suspense, a gargoyle who I simply must see again and some nice romantic, sigh worthy moments all made for a happy reader. I can’t wait for the last book in the series, Crush the King, which comes out next year.
I bought this a while ago when it was on sale for $2.99 or something and then let it sit on my Kindle unopened. But the blurb for this book kept calling me and I finally gave in and made time to read it last week.
Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.
Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?
I feel like I should mention that it took me a bit to get into this book because time jumps back and forth repeatedly and it is really hard to figure out what is going on. I had to stop a few times and page back and forth chapter by chapter to get the timeline straight in my head.
The other thing I should mention its that there really isn’t any “good” guys in Vicious, in fact they are all broken and glued back together and not quite right. But that’s kind of the point. What happens to not so good people when they gain extraordinary powers? What happens when there is no longer the fear of pain or death to hold them back and keep them on the straight and narrow. This book is about jealousy and power, friendship and betrayal, god complexes and revenge, and I enjoyed it immensely.
Victor is probably one of the best anti-heroes I’ve ever read. Clearly a dark, dangerous man with sociopathic tendencies BUT, I wanted him to win and make it out alive in the end. He and Mitch and Sydney and the zombie dog… I wanted them to make it to the end and find a way to stop Eli.
I was not disappointed.
This is one of those books that when you’re done you just kind of sit back and digest what you just read. It’s different. There is no straightforward good guys, every character is kind of murky and gray and questionable. There are plot twists and an ending I honestly did not see coming.
Now I’m on to book 2, Vengeful. I’ll report back.
Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.
Someone on Twitter recommended this author’s Prison Planet series last year (I think it was Has from the Bookpushers) and I ate that series up with a spoon and kept coming back for more. This is the second book in her spin-off series which features a group of soldiers who have been experimented on, spliced with alien DNA and turned into super soldiers.
Vaughn and his crew have escaped the prison planet and are now trying to find a ship big enough to fit everyone comfortably. Their search leads them to a backwards planet, filled with backwards, chauvinistic assholes who have a ship but are only willing to trade it for a crate that disappeared some months back. After agreeing to the exchange our crew heads out into space to begin their mission. Which is when they find Grace hiding in the cargo hold and Vaughn decides that she is his.
As much as I enjoyed the Prison Planet series (I really, really did), I think I enjoy Project Vetus even more. I loved getting off planet and finding out what else this universe has to offer. I loved seeing how this crew interacts with each other and how they handle their ‘beasts’. I enjoyed this couple immensely and HOO BOY were they smoking hot together. Vaughn might have been all growly “mineminemine” but, he was also just the right amount of hands off and respectful of Grace’s boundaries. AND THAT ENDING. Why? Throwing that out there and then making us wait for book three? Mean.
This is a great author for fans of sci-fi romance.
What’s up next week: (Hopefully, I have family in town so who knows)
One library book and two ARCs. Y’all have a great week!