Book Review

ARC Book Review: Tarnished Empire (Dark Shores #0.5) by Danielle L. Jensen

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy + Romance
Length: TBD
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Publisher: CLA
Release Date: January 26th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

DEFIANCE IS TREASON. TREASON IS DEATH.

A siege is laid against the last resistance to the Senate’s rule. As the battle rages, a commander, a soldier, and a rebel will decide how far they are willing to go for victory.

THE COMMANDER

Marcus is forced to choose between destroying the rebel forces and liberating his legion. He must face the true cost of being a leader. And an oppressor.

THE SOLDIER

Agrippa sets his sights on glory to fill the deepening void within him. He discovers that the price of fame might not just be paid in blood, it might be paid by his heart.

THE REBEL

Silvara joins the rebel forces to fight against the legions who would see her family dead. While she dreams of being a warrior, she finds her sharpest weapon is seduction. But to defeat the Empire, she’ll have to betray the young man who now has her heart.

Inspired by the harsh world of ancient Rome, readers are obsessed with this martial tale of fiery romance, friendship, and enmity. Told from three points of view, TARNISHED EMPIRE is filled with twists you’ll never see coming but will keep you turning the pages all night.

TARNISHED EMPIRE is set in the world of Danielle L. Jensen’s DARK SHORES. But readers new to the world can begin here.

Thank you to the author for an eARC. All opinions are my own!

A MUST READ.

Set in the Dark Shores world, this book about Marcus (and some new characters) is definitely worth the read. It’s especially recommended before Gilded Serpent (book three), but can be read at any time!

I loved this. So much. I love Marcus, and getting more of his background was exactly what I wanted. I didn’t realize how much I would fall in love with the other characters too. AGRIPPA? Yes, please. He is a new addition I didn’t know I needed. He’s snarky and funny (actually laughed out loud a few times). Agrippa keeps you on your toes and has a strong heart full of loyalty and bravery. Oh goodness, y’all need to get to know him too.

This book burns hot and fast, yet doesn’t feel over done. I loved the romance and how it developed. The push and pull, leaving me with many questions. All beautifully written.

I don’t want to spoil much of the story or what happens and more. It’s filled with a lot of fitting information and characters I wouldn’t mind getting even more stories from. I’m even more excited for Gilded Serpent now and can’t wait to dive in.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy + romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs; one little detailed fade-out love scene
  • Violence: battles, swords/arrows, loss of friends/loved ones, starvation

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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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Monthly Wrap-Up

Monthly Reading Wrap-Up: June 2019

It was another month with 16 books! I couldn’t believe it when I counted at the end. I don’t count during the month at all. That’s not the point. It’s nice to get through so many of the summer books I’ve been interested in though.

Would anyone be interested in a post about how I read so fast? I know some of it is purely some people are faster readers than others (which isn’t a bad thing at all — some people read 20+ books a month and that blows my mind). But, I do have some tips for choosing reading and how it helps you get further during the day.

Anywho, here is what I read this month:

  • The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson –
  • The Black Witch (The Black Witch Chronicles #1) by Laurie Forest
  • Normal People by Sally Rooney
  • Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren
  • Dark Shores (Dark Shores #1) by Danielle L. Jensen (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreryrou (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1) by Kerri Maniscalco (RTC – ☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • The Vanishing Throne (The Falconer #2) by Elizabeth May (RTC – ☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • The Bridge Kingdom (The Bridge Kingdom #1) by Danielle L. Jensen (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson & The Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • Age of Swords (The Legends of the First Empire #2) by Michael J. Sullivan (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • Beartown (Beartown #1) by Fredrik Backman (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) by William Ritter (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Air Awakens (Air Awakens #1) by Elise Kova (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson & The Olympians #2) by Rick Riordan (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)

Number of 5 stars: Five

Number of 4 stars: Seven

I would call that a good reading month having that many highly rated books! My favorite this month was WITHOUT A DOUBT AND EVERYONE SHOULD READ IT: THE BRIDGE KINGDOM.

My not so favorite this month would be Normal People.

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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

Instagram || Goodreads