Book Review

Book Review: The Traitor Queen (The Bridge Kingdom #2) by Danielle L. Jensen

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy romance
Length: 470 pages
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Publisher: Self-published
Expected Release Date: February 27th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A queen now in exile as a traitor, Lara has watched Ithicana be conquered by her own father, helpless to do anything to stop the destruction. But when she learns her husband, Aren, has been captured in battle, Lara knows there is only one reason her father is keeping him alive: as bait for his traitorous daughter.

And it is bait she fully intends to take.

Risking her life to the Tempest Seas, Lara returns to Ithicana with a plan not only to free its king, but for liberating the Bridge Kingdom from her father’s clutches using his own weapons: the sisters whose lives she spared. But not only is the palace inescapable, there are more players in the game than Lara ever realized, enemies and allies switching sides in the fight for crowns, kingdoms, and bridges. But her greatest adversary of all might be the very man she’s trying to free – the husband she betrayed.

With everything she loves in jeopardy, Lara must decide who – and what – she is fighting for: her kingdom, her husband, or herself.

WHAT A CONCLUSION.

Ooooooooh my goodness. I’ve never listened to an audio book faster y’all. I downed this book so fast. I have been waiting for this and IT DID NOT DISAPPOINT. I can continue to be Danielle Jensen’s unofficial spokeswoman for this series. BECAUSE I LOVE IT THAT MUCH.

You could literally hear my thoughts as Lara rounded up her sisters to go save Aren. AND IT WAS A THRILL RIDE. Oh those women danced their way into the harem and took what they came for. There was me on the sidelines cheering them on because I live for action like that. I’m getting all amped up just writing this review.

I had a lot of questions going into this book. All were answered in the best ways. My heart is soaring that I got a conclusion that actually wraps up the lines it needs too. BUT, it definitely leaves open some lines for spin-off books. The side characters in TTQ are a song on their own. I found myself smitten with so many of them. Siblings, family members, generals of armies; they all played distinct and proficient rolls.

This romance was still sizzling. I loved the build-up. I knew things had to work out, yet time and again I was led to believe otherwise. That’s how invested I was. Jensen’s writing is captivating and the audio version is one of the best books I’ve listened too. Aren and Lara kept me waiting, and waiting, and then BAM. Room set aflame, y’all. Room set aflame.

The stress levels I felt listening to Lara and Aren try to work things out between them, deciding if they wanted/could be with each other, trying to save a kingdom and kill a king, was on another level. I could keep rambling about how much I love this duology. The Bridge Kingdom is still my favorite, but this was a conclusion that delivered.

AND DON’T EVEN TALK TO ME ABOUT THAT ENDING. I truly gasped and almost started sobbing right then and there. Jensen knows how to tug on those heart strings and beg for a happy ending.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses; one detailed love scene
  • Violence: sharks, swords, poison, physical, torture, captivity

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Dark Skies (Dark Shores #2) by Danielle L. Jensen

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 464 pages
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: May 5th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A RUNAWAY WITH A HIDDEN PAST
Lydia is a scholar, but books are her downfall when she meddles in the plots of the most powerful man in the Celendor Empire. Her life in danger, she flees west to the far side of the Endless Seas and finds herself entangled in a foreign war where her burgeoning powers are sought by both sides.

A COMMANDER IN DISGRACE
Killian is Marked by the God of War, but his gifts fail him when the realm under the dominion of the Corrupter invades Mudamora. Disgraced, he swears his sword to the kingdom’s only hope: the crown princess. But the choice sees him caught up in a web of political intrigue that will put his oath – and his heart – to the test.

A KINGDOM UNDER SIEGE
With Mudamora falling beneath the armies of the Corrupter, Lydia and Killian strike a bargain to save those they love most—but it is a bargain with unintended and disastrous consequences. Truths are revealed, birthrights claimed, and loyalties questioned—all while a menace deadlier and more far-reaching than they realize sweeps across the world.

Thank you to the author, Danielle L. Jensen, for an ARC. All opinions are my own.

LEFT ME GASPING.

No, but really. The last 200 pages of this book are an insane ride that took me on more spins and action than I thought was going to happen. Dark Skies went in a vastly different direction from what I had planned and while my heart is hurting, IT WAS SO DANG GOOD.

With how this series is set-up; where you can read EITHER Dark Shores or Dark Skies as the first book causes some small overlap in the beginning. This overlap caused things to drag a touch in the beginning, but as soon as the new stuff hit, I couldn’t put the book down.

I love Killian and Lydia. Stellar characters. Lydia felt like an actual human trying to figure things out and I would also love to be her best friend. She’s kind, firm, and willing to try and learn new things. Killian was brave, funny, secretly sweet and intensely loyal. Put them together and they had amazing chemistry. Though I should warn you, there’s less romance here than Dark Shores. Not a problem to the story at all, just mentioning it. There’s so much going on here that you’re begging for them to kiss, but also trying to make sure nobody is about to be stabbed in the back [which frankly, happened too many times to be comfortable].

The world-building and politics of the varying nations are fantastic. I love the way things are set-up and how the interactions between the gods and mortals. The magic system is inventive and I can’t wait to see what role the Marked will further play. I am anxiously waiting for these two worlds to collide and see what survives the destruction. It was a fun tidbit to know that Killian also had some connections with Teriana. Seriously going to love when all four are together!

This story is a new favorite. I have been smitten with Jensen’s writing over the last year (helloooo obsession with The Bridge Kingdom). I found Dark Skies to be no different. The writing is lyrical and engaging. You get comfortable in one setting, then the script is flipped and you can’t look away from what’s happening. The last 50 pages of this broke my heart. You’ll be like me, desperately wishing you had book three.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: magic, physical, sickness, poison, swords, arrows, creature attacks

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Book Review

Book Review: The Bridge Kingdom (The Bridge Kingdom #1) by Danielle L. Jensen

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Adult fantasy romance
Length: Audiobook (to come out as a print book, expected to be 354 pages)
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Publisher: Audible Originals, LLC
Release Date: October 16th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

What if you fell in love with the one person you’d sworn to destroy? 

Lara has only one thought for her husband on their wedding day: I will bring your kingdom to its knees. A princess trained from childhood to be a lethal spy, Lara knows that the Bridge Kingdom represents both legendary evil – and legendary promise. The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom controls all trade and travel between lands, allowing its ruler to enrich himself and deprive his enemies, including Lara’s homeland. So when she is sent as a bride under the guise of fulfilling a treaty of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture the defenses of the impenetrable Bridge Kingdom. 

But as she infiltrates her new home – a lush paradise surrounded by tempest seas – and comes to know her new husband, Aren, Lara begins to question where the true evil resides. Around her, she sees a kingdom fighting for survival, and in Aren, a man fiercely protective of his people. As her mission drives her to deeper understanding of the fight to possess the bridge, Lara finds the simmering attraction between her and Aren impossible to ignore. 

Her goal nearly within reach, Lara will have to decide her own fate: Will she be the destroyer of a king or the savior of her people?

MY NEW FAVORITE BOOK.

No really, I’m serious.

Without a doubt this is my new favorite new adult fantasy romance (ACOMAF holds the TRUE #1 spot, but this is what I’m going to obsessing over for awhile).

First, the ANGST between these two had me melting. I LIVE FOR ANGSTY ROMANCE. It’s an enemies to lovers trope with the crux being a marriage because of a treaty. These two have never seen each other and know very little (and incorrect) information about each other. And it creates this amazing vibe between these two. Lara and Aren that I am here for. ALL DAY LONG. This romance is slow building, tender, and intense.

This world-building was so cool too. We only got highlights of the two main kingdoms (Lara’s home, Maridrina & Arn’s home, Ithicana). But Ithicana is one of the neater fantasy locations I’ve read about. It has this huge bridge running through it, it’s made of islands. We have killer sharks and snakes roaming the sea and lands. SO COOL.

I knew the ending was out to destroy me. You could feel it in the air. And it did. Ugh, heart ripped out, knowing it had to happen to create book two. Am I happy about it? NOPE. Do I understand? Sure sure. I am even more excited for book two because reunion scene? Oh heeeeck yes.

Trust me. If you have any inkling about this book, read it. It is currently only on Audible but is releases as a physical book in August. I thought the Audible version was great though! I was enraptured by it and had no problems keeping up.

Overall audience notes:

  • New adult fantasy romance
  • Language: some strong language + occasional crude language
  • Romance: an almost love scene (somewhat detailed), kisses, explicit love scenes
  • Violence: arrows, war, ship battles, shark attacks, snake bites, murder, poison , knives

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Book Review

Book Review: Dark Shores (Dark Shores #1) by Danielle L. Jensen

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Young Adult Fantasy
Length: 368 pages
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: May 7th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West.

A PIRATE WITH A WILL OF IRON

Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences. 

A SOLDIER WITH A SECRET

Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world. 

A DANGEROUS QUEST

When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.

THIS SERIES WILL ONLY GET BETTER.

The author hosted an Instagram read-a-long on her page and I took advantage of reading it during the last month. She posted questions each week and responded to so many of us. It made me really have a lot of appreciation for her as a fan.

Dark Shores is filled with allllll things Roman. A lot of the way the governments are set-up, the world-building and more were drawn from this ancient civilization. It was AWESOME. I am fascinated by all things Roman and loved how this played out. There were wicked senators, ship sailing, gods fighting each other, conquering and a dash of romance.

I am obsessed with Marcus. He was my favorite POV and I wish the book was focused more on him. I love him + his soldiers. They were some of my favorite side characters. I found them funny, endearing and thought they all needed a hug. And I wouldn’t mind giving them said hug.

Teriana was fine, she’s one of my reasons for lowering to four stars. I found her a bit annoying/whiny at times and wasn’t as interested in her chapters. There was lots of talk but she never pulled out any tricks, so I’m curious where that goes during book two. I did enjoy Marcus and Teriana together though. I like the relationship and am waiting for all heck to break loose when things start to spiral.

This had great world-building and I found that it was a lot more creative of a book plot overall than I have read in a hot minute. I couldn’t easily guess what was happening next and that’s always a good sign of a great fantasy. My only other issue with it was that it was a little slow at times. I found myself wanting to scan ahead to dive into the next scene.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: shoot used quite a bit
  • Romance: kiss, a fade to black love scene
  • Violence: ship wreck, torture, hangings, murder involving dismemberment

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