Plain and Simple: Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

PorchWell hi there!

The weather is beautiful today in South Carolina! So, I’m writing this review from my front porch basking in the late afternoon light. Le sigh…Fridays are great!

Okay, so today’s review is all about Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) by Robin LaFevers, which is anything but “plain and simple”.

When Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convent were only too happy to offer her refuge – but at a price. The sisters of this convent serve Death, and with Sybella naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, she could become one of their most dangerous weapons.

But her assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to the life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. But when Sybella discovers an unexpected ally she discovers that a daughter of Death may find something other than vengeance to live for.

This whole historical fantasy thing that LaFevers has going on is right up my alley. Sybella lives in Dark Triumph by Robin LaFeversmedieval Brittany in the middle of a resistance to French rule and is loyal to the twelve year old Duchess Anne who has recently been forced into rule due to the death of her father. Mixed in with this historical narrative, LaFevers mixes in a bit of the supernatural focused mostly on the convent on St.  Mortain, the god of death, and his method of communicating with his assassins. I have always been a bit of a history buff and adore the fantasy genre, so swirling the two together makes me happy!

Sybella isn’t as likable or sympathetic a character as Ismae is in book one, Grave Mercy and I wavered over whether I liked her story or not because of this part of her character. As you spend more and more time with her however, you begin to see the pieces of humanity within Sybella that she herself has shut away and is blind to. She has this strength to her that one can only get from tangling with harsh realities. I grew to like her more and more.

As you might expect in a story about “assassin nuns” Dark Triumph is full of action, suspense, and intrigue. Life inside Sybella’s father’s court is full of your usual gossip and social climbing but amidst those things there are much darker forces at play and Sybella is an incredibly experienced spy, assassin, and courtier who knows how to play the game to survive. Because Sybella will do whatever it takes to survive you know that she has little trouble using poisons, garrotes, or knives to complete a necessary task and you never know who will show up next on Sybella’s “hit list”.  Basically, Sybella is a bad@$$! Plain and simple.

And let’s not forget the romance. If I had the ability to add emojis into my blog posts (is this possible?!) I totally would be giving the little “thumbs up” one right now. Yes. The romance is good.

If you’re searching for your next read and you want to be completely riveted to the story you need to check out the His Fair Assassin series by Robin LaFevers. Don’t read Dark Triumph (because it’s book 2, silly!) until after you’ve read Grave Mercy, but you should totally read them both! I actually listened to them on audio, so if you’re into audiobooks or want to get started these books are quality introductions!

Author: Robin LaFevers

Publisher: Recorded Books (April 19, 2013)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 13 hours and 36 minutes

Narrator(s): Angela Goethals

Series: Second in the “His Fair Assassin” series


Buy the Book:


Waiting on Wednesday: Camelot Burning

Happy Wednesday!

For today’s Waiting on Wednesday (hosted by Breaking the Spine) I’m highlighting a fantasy (as usual haha) debut that sounds like it has potential to be fun, Camelot Burning by Kathryn Rose.

By day, Vivienne is Guinevere’s lady-in-waiting. By night, she’s Merlin’s secret apprentice, indulging in Camelot Burning by Kathryn Rosethe new mechanical arts and science of alchemy. It’s a preferred distraction from Camelot’s gossipy nobility, roguish knights, and Lancelot’s athletic new squire, Marcus, who will follow in all knights’ footsteps by taking a rather inconvenient vow of chastity.

More than anything, Vivienne longs to escape Camelot for a future that wouldn’t include needlework or marriage to a boorish lord or dandy. But when King Arthur’s sorceress sister, Morgan le Fay, threatens Camelot, Vivienne must stay to help Merlin build a steam-powered weapon to defeat the dark magic machine Morgan will set upon the castle. Because if Camelot falls, Morgan would be that much closer to finding the elusive Holy Grail. Time is running out and Morgan draws near, and if Vivienne doesn’t have Merlin’s weapon ready soon, lives would pay the price, including that of Marcus, the only one fast enough to activate it on the battlefield.

I’m not a huge fan of the cover, although I do like the girl’s (Vivienne?!) gown and cape. I’m intrigued by the idea of a secret apprentice learning spells and potions! Also, I like that this seems to be a kind of retelling of the King Arthur/Camelot story since I’m into fairy tale retellings.

Camelot Burning is a 2014 debut and is scheduled for release on May 8, so I’ll have to brush up on my King Arthur knowledge before then! What titles are you waiting on this week?


Waiting on Wednesday: The Chaos of Stars

Hiya everybody!

I hope you’re having a wonderful week so far! There’s only a few more days until the weekend! Yay!

As usual, today I’m bringing you my Waiting on Wednesday post. Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine and it’s one of my favorite memes to participate in!

This week I’m excited to bring you Kiersten’s White’s newest standalone novel, The Chaos of Stars. The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White

Isadora’s family is seriously screwed up. Of course, as the human daughter of Egyptian gods, that pretty much comes with the territory. She’s also stuck with parents who barely notice her, and a house full of relatives who can’t be bothered to remember her name. After all, they are going to be around forever—and she’s a mere mortal.

Isadora’s sick of living a life where she’s only worthy of a passing glance, and when she has the chance to move to San Diego with her brother, she jumps on it. But Isadora’s quickly finding that a “normal” life comes with plenty of its own epic complications—and that there’s no such thing as a clean break when it comes to family. Much as she wants to leave her past behind, she can’t shake the ominous dreams that foretell destruction for her entire family. When it turns out there may be truth in her nightmares, Isadora has to decide whether she can abandon her divine heritage after all.

I’m having a major not-so-secret love affair with this cover. It is just gorgeous! I can’t get enough of that gold over the deep midnight blue! Also, yay for no people on the cover. I’m not opposed to people on book covers (my favorites actually tend to be the ones with girls in lovely flowy gowns…) but it’s just refreshing to have those without people on them.

I’m also really intrigued by the summary as mythology (of any civilization) was always something I’ve been interested in. I don’t know a lot about Egyptian mythology either, so it’ll be cool to learn a little bit more while reading The Chaos of Stars. We have until September 10 before this one is released, so we need to be really patient!

What tasty looking upcoming books are you excited about?


Seductive Sirens: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Southern Book Bloggers ARC ToursHello!

I was lucky enough to read Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama as part of the Southern Book Bloggers ARC Tour. (THANK YOU!)

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth FamaFierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.

Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.

I have to start by clarifying that Monstrous Beauty was my second venture into mermaid fiction and I found it absolutely mesmerizing!  It was so incredibly different from the first mermaid book I’ve read (Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs).  Where as Forgive My Fins was a light-hearted teen romance, Monstrous Beauty was a dark and foreboding mystery.

Fama weaves together a story rich in historical fiction and fantasy.  The story is set in both historical and modern-day Plymouth, Massachusetts.  The town is almost a character in and of itself and acts as a means of connecting Hester and Syrenka’s narratives to one another. Siren mythology isn’t one you hear much about, so I think the historical setting of Monstrous Beauty works well with the story of mythical sea creatures.

Let’s talk about these mermaids for a second.  They’re not fun frolicking Ariel type mermaids. No.  They’re actually dangerous beauties with fins sharp as knives and razor teeth. I like this more traditional approach to the siren mythology which details seductive sirens luring unsuspecting men to their watery deaths. It’s just so intriguing and yet Fama makes you question the truth behind the myths.

Each chapter switches from Hester to Ezra and Syrenka’s perspective which I loved because both stories were so intriguing. I really felt connected to Hester (despite her unfortunate name) because of her love for history. I was a history major in college and I’ve always wanted to work as a historical interpreter at a historical site like she does! My husband knows he’s taking a gamble if we ever visit Colonial Williamsburg…I might end up in costume and he’ll never get me home!

Now, I will say that I did guess the truth to the mystery surrounding Hester’s family way before I think I was supposed to, but this didn’t hinder my interest in the story in any way. There is one pretty graphic scene, that would make me hesitate to recommend Monstrous Beauty to middle grades readers. All in all, I think readers who are high school aged and older will really enjoy this magical mix of fantasy and history.

Author: Elizabeth Fama

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (September 4, 2012)

Format: ARC, paperback

Length: 295 pages

Series: Standalone


Buy the Book: Monstrous Beauty


Finally! The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

So, I’m finally a member of the “cool kids club”.

I have read and finished Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief.  Its been out for a while and I never got around to reading it.

But I have and I’m glad I did.

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school…again. And that’s just the least of his worries. When Percy manages to vaporize his math teacher on a school field trip he realizes that things are not what he thought they were. After being chased by a mythical creature who makes Percy’s mother disappear, Percy is taken to Camp Half Blood where he discovers he is a half-blooded child of a real Greek god.

Now, Percy and his new friends have less than two weeks to locate and retrieve Zeus’s stolen thunderbolt in order to bring peace to a Mount Olympus that is on the verge of war.  Percy’s life quickly changes from mundane to exciting and full of adventure as he realizes things he thought were myth are in actuality real as life.  From my experience working with middle schoolers, teens are intrigued by mythology and that’s part of the reason my kids enjoy this series (and why I still can’t keep them on the shelf!).  Rick Riordan writes action so well and the book is a page turner.  I couldn’t wait to get back to the book to know what would happen to Percy and his friends.

Now, I will say that I like the idea of a main character who struggles with ADHD, which is apparently what inspired the character.  Supposedly Riordan was thinking about the idea of viewing a child with a learning disability as a child with unique abilities rather than a student with a problem.  All his life Percy has been told he had “issues” caused by his ADHD, but throughout the story Percy learns that these so-called disabilities may actually make him better at some things.  This is a pretty cool idea.  Maybe why so many reluctant readers like Percy; they see themselves in him?

Now, as much as I loved the story, I honestly wasn’t connected to Percy. I just cared more about Annabeth and Grover, Percy’s friends, more than I cared about him.  I don’t know why this was; maybe because he’s a boy?  Sometimes I have trouble reading books which boys as the main character.

All in all, a quality story that’s already a middle grade fiction classic.  A must read for anyone who likes adventure!