Thursday, July 31, 2014

Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne

Title: Midnight Thief
Author: Livia Blackburne
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: Midnight Thief #1 

Hardcover, 368 pages

Publication: July 8, 2014 by Disney-Hyperion

Source: I received a review copy from the publicist in exchange for a honest review.

Growing up on Forge’s streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that’s not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs.

But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she’s not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he’s persistent—and darkly attractive—and Kyra can’t quite resist his pull.

Tristam of Brancel is a young Palace knight on a mission. After his best friend is brutally murdered by Demon Riders, a clan of vicious warriors who ride bloodthirsty wildcats, Tristam vows to take them down. But as his investigation deepens, he finds his efforts thwarted by a talented thief, one who sneaks past Palace defenses with uncanny ease.

When a fateful raid throws Kyra and Tristam together, the two enemies realize that their best chance at survival—and vengeance—might be to join forces. And as their loyalties are tested to the breaking point, they learn a startling secret about Kyra’s past that threatens to reshape both their lives.

First off, look at that cover.  How gorgeous is that cover right?! I immediately fell in love with it when I first saw it…its simple yet eye-catching. And the synopsis was just as intriguing and promised a heck of an adventure. 

Midnight Thief is the first book in a planned series about a 16-year-old street smart girl who robs the rich to support her adopted family and herself. The book is centered on three characters; Kyra the stealthy thief, Tristam a promising knight of Forge and James the calculating and ruthless leader of a band of assassin. Kyra is a pro at what she does. She’s able to climb and navigate at heights no regular person would dare to attempt and it makes her a worthy ally in James’s eyes, leader of the Assassin Guild.  James makes Kyra an offer she can’t refuse, where she wouldn’t have to take dead-end jobs for a couple of coins as she not only supports herself but two other street kids. Then we have Tristam, a knight on a mission of his own to find the woman who killed his partner. The three lives’ gets intertwine when a group of demon cats raid Forge, and the line between foes and friends blur…people aren’t who they appear to be and Kyra is in for a rude awakening. 

The book is narrated in third person point-of-view alternating between Kyra and Tristam. I really like Kyra, she’s intelligent, strong but isn’t afraid to show a vulnerable side, and overall a survivor (lived on the streets since she was 8/9 years-old). Kyra is down to earth/real, never pretending to be anything but herself…and I love that about her. For example, James gave Kyra an assassination mission that will make or break her position in the Guild. Kyra wasn’t happy with the assignment and in the end refused to go through with it because she felt like the Guild was turning her into someone who she doesn’t want to be and she didn’t want to lose sight of who she is…even if it means endangering people she loves. 

Tristam and James are also great supporting male characters who both play an important role in the story and the reason behind some of the actions and choices Kyra makes. As you can already figure out from the synopsis/ and my second paragraph; Tristam helps Kyra make the right choices while James pushes Kyra into making bad choices. 

I was captivated from the first sentence. Midnight Thief was exactly what was promised in the synopsis and so much more. I love the characters and the overall plot as it kept me on the edge of my seat and flipping the pages till the very end. The pacing was pretty constant throughout, there was never a dull moment or any scenes that I felt were unnecessary or filler. The book was beautifully well written and loaded with twist and turns that I never saw coming. The big reveal midway through was just that…a shocker, I definitely didn’t see that coming a mile away! But it was a good shocker which added another layer to the world-building. 

Midnight Thief was a great introduction to Mrs. Blackburne’s work and what I’m sure will be the next big fantasy series. I truly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to more of Blackburne's work. I can’t wait for the sequel! I highly recommend this to all Young Adult, Fantasy fans…and maybe even the paranormal lovers…this book had a little bit of everything; mystery, action, a little romance, suspense, magic and political intrigue.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Thousand Names by Django Wexler

Title: The Thousand Names
Author: Django Wexler
Genre: Military Fantasy
Series: The Shadow Campaigns #1

Hardcover, 528 pages
Publication: July 2, 2013 by Roc

Source: I received a review copy from the publicist in exchange for a honest review.  

Buy|Amazon|Book Depo|

Captain Marcus d’Ivoire, commander of one of the Vordanai empire’s colonial garrisons, was resigned to serving out his days in a sleepy, remote outpost. But that was before a rebellion upended his life. And once the powder smoke settled, he was left in charge of a demoralized force clinging tenuously to a small fortress at the edge of the desert.

To flee from her past, Winter Ihernglass masqueraded as a man and enlisted as a ranker in the Vordanai Colonials, hoping only to avoid notice. But when chance sees her promoted to command, she must win the hearts of her men and lead them into battle against impossible odds.

The fates of both these soldiers and all the men they lead depend on the newly arrived Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich, who has been sent by the ailing king to restore order. His military genius seems to know no bounds, and under his command, Marcus and Winter can feel the tide turning. But their allegiance will be tested as they begin to suspect that the enigmatic Janus’s ambitions extend beyond the battlefield and into the realm of the supernatural—a realm with the power to ignite a meteoric rise, reshape the known world, and change the lives of everyone in its path.

The Thousand Names by Django Wexler is the first in a military-fantasy series. This was my first introduction to military fantasy as well as to Wexler’s work (as I know he also has a middle grade fantasy series, which I plan on checking out). To be honest, I’m more of a fantasy gal and The Thousand Names was more military than fantasy. The fantasy aspect didn’t truly take root till the last third of the book. However, I found myself enamored by the amazing world and characters Wexler has created and was surprised at how much I enjoyed the novel regardless of the subtle fantasy elements.
The Thousand Names takes place during the Napoleonic period, full of military protocols and lingos and spectacular detailed battle scenes. Wexler did an amazing job of creating a believable setting in which the Vordanai Colonials make a trek across the Khandarai desert to fight religious zealous rebels. I love the battles scenes, especially when we see the Vordanais out-smart the rebels since the odds weren’t  in their favor with the rebels outnumbering the Colonials 10 to 1. The military aspects of the novel was pretty straight forward but there is still a lot to see of the magic system as it makes a steady appearance here and there and a big part in the final battle of the book. The book makes up mostly of regular soldiers, but there are a few gifted with naath, a special ability. Readers’ gets a preview in the prologue of a sorcerer working his magic but it isn’t till the final battle that we see what some people with naath are really cable of…and believe me it is awesome. 

Beside all the military goodness, the best part of the book is definitely the characters. The book is told in dual POV between Captain Marcus d’Ivoire and Ranker Winter Ihernglass with the occasional POV of (a few times) Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich. Marcus is one who always follows the rules and sees things plainly as black or white. I really like his character, an all around good/decent man who just wants to do right by his battalion. Although his beliefs gets upturn with the arrival of his new Colonel Janus, who is a peculiar man, who does things as he sees fit…but is still fair. I enjoyed both of the main narritative but I found myself looking forward to reading more of Winter’s. Winter is also another good soldier­­ who is a quick thinker, light on her (She, yes a SHE disguised as a man to be enlisted) feet and is always the first person to save the day when a crisis ensues. Winter is full of surprises and I love watching her character grow (not only in terms of job title) over the course of the book. There are many other great male and female characters that were all equally intriguing. This is by far the best group of complex, realistic characters I’ve read in a long time, and I loved reading about each and every one of them. Wexler spent a great deal creating every individual character and it shows. Every character is unique and fully realize, down to the secondary and tertiary characters. 

The Thousand Names was an excellent start to what I’m sure will be a great series. I highly recommend this book to those who love characters driven novel, fully realized world and stunning battles/actions. I can’t wait to read the next book. Give this book a chance, it might surprise you and open a door to another subgenre you’d never thought of trying…I know it did that for me. I definitely will be checking out more of the Flintlock fantasy genre.