Incubation by Laura DiSilverio


Incubation by Laura DiSilverio
The Incubation Trilogy Book 1

Publisher: diAgio Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full (348 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: Best Books
Review by: Orchid

Bio-chemistry whiz Everly Jax wants one thing: to know who her parents are. Raised with other repo kids in InKubator 9, she has pinned her hopes on Reunion Day, the annual event where sixteen-year-olds can meet or reunite with their parents. When her Reunion Day goes horribly awry, she and her pregnant friend Halla escape the Kube, accompanied by their friend Wyck who has his own reasons for leaving. In a world where rebuilding the population is critical to national survival, the Pragmatist government licenses all human reproduction, and decides who can–and must–have babies. The trio face feral dog packs, swamp threats, locust swarms, bounty hunters looking for “breeders,” and more dangers as they race to Amerada’s capital to find Halla’s soldier boyfriend before the Prags can repo her baby and force the girls into surrogacy service. An unexpected encounter with Bulrush, an Underground Railroad for women fleeing to Outposts with their unlicensed babies, puts them in greater peril than ever. Everly must decide what she is willing to sacrifice to learn her biological identity–and deal with the unanticipated consequences of her decisions.

Bird flu has decimated the world’s population and there are no longer any birds. Everly Jax is a repo kid raised in InKubator 9 where she becomes a bio-chemistry whiz. Ev, her friend Halla and other friend Wyck escape the Kube dome to run from the Pragmatists Government. They intend to travel to an outpost out of the reach of the government, but as none of them have any experience of life outside the dome, they find obstacles in their way that they had never dreamed of.

I started to read this book because I liked the cover but it soon had me under its spell. It’s an extremely well written book with one main plot, which leads to other problems and dilemmas. The three friends have to travel through swamps and ghost towns. At the same time they have to evade the guards who are chasing them and outlaws who want to sell the two women to the breeding labs.

The story is complex but at the same time easy to follow. It was one of those books I started to read and couldn’t put down. By the end of the book I was wondering if the world could actually end up in this situation if a pandemic took place. Highly recommended!

Wyshea Shadows by Geoffrey Saign


Wyshea Shadows by Geoffrey Saign
– Divided Draghons Book One

Publisher: KiraKu Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Young Adult
Length: Full (307 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Age:  16+
Rating: Best Book
Review by: Orchid

A hundred-year-war that won’t end…

Three young women sworn to kill each other…

Famere, the wyshea butcher, seeks vengeance with loyal mythic beasts called shadows, Jennelle, commander of the Northerners, fights for her people’s survival using brilliant strategies, Camette, a wild divided draghon, searches for her kidnapped lover…Famere, Jennelle, and Camette must discover who is friend or enemy, who is responsible for the hundred-year dark sky and death mists, and if the men they adore will still love them.

From the award-winning author of WhipEye Chronicles comes the new epic fantasy series, Divided Draghons—an action-packed thriller with mystery, romance, and battles set in a world as beautiful, dangerous, and mysterious as the three heroic women—Famere, Jennelle, and Camette—who must fight for their people’s survival and the men they love.

The debut fantasy book from Geoffrey Saign, Wyshea Shadows, is a new addition to the great epic fantasy tradition of Dean Murray, Marc Secchia, and Ava Richardson.

When Famere unexpectedly becomes the Wyshea Guide instead of her proposed bond mate, she also bonds with the shadows who have returned after many decades away. With their help she leads her people to war, earning herself the nickname of Wyshea Butcher.

Jenelle becomes the leader of the Northerners after her father is killed by Famere. These two very intelligent women are the main pivot of the story, each a leader of her people, neither willing to allow the other races of the world to overrun their domains.

There are good books and there are great books, Wyshea Shadows is a great book. It’s too long to read all in one go, but I would have done this if it had been possible. There are male characters in this story, and they play strong roles, but the females are not overshadowed by them. The weaving together of males and females, the different races, magicians and wyshea is skilfully done. This is well crafted with a good flow between the different races and a strong story which is a pleasure to read. Excellent.

The Possibility of You and Me by Lillie Todd

The Possibility of You and Me by Lillie Todd
The Possibility of You and Me by Lillie Todd
Publisher: Finch Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Length: Full Length (258 pages)
Heat Level:  Sensual
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: Best Book
Review by: Quince

Her whole world has been flipped upside down. She’s lost…and only he can find her.

Lori Black had everything she could ever want—security in social standing by being one of the most popular girls in school, a hot boyfriend, and a set path toward her future. But her brother’s overdose flipped her world upside down and now nothing makes sense.

After spending a year away from home, Lori is ready to try to reclaim her old life. But a lot can happen in a year, and when Lori returns, she realizes she isn’t the superficial girl she left behind and maybe she doesn’t fit the space she used to.

Rejected by her old friends and struggling to deal at home, Lori is lost. And the only person capable of understanding her is the quiet boy, Archer, whom no one knows anything about.

It is Archer who brings Lori the possibility of being found.

Reader Advisory: This book contains some brief scenes of violence and attempted sexual assault.

The Possibility of You and Me is an absolutely amazing story. It is a hidden gem that I read it in one sitting. It started as a typical YA novel; former popular girl Lori Black returns, after a year of absence in school and tries to live a life she left behind, but she changed so much that going back is impossible. She meets silent and unapproachable Archer. Because they are both alone they start to keep each other company, and that turns from friendship into a romantic relationship. But soon Archer’s past starts to hunt him down and they have to decide the fate of, not just of their relationship, but also of their future paths in life.

During the reading of The Possibility of You and Me my heart broke so many times. This is such an emotional book. There are heartbreaks, but neither Lori nor Archer are big on drama. On the contrary, some situations they resolve with such a wisdom and calmness. I like both of them, as individual characters and also as a couple.

Lori is a lost girl who, after a death of her twin brother, has to find herself again. She is torn between being a part of group of her former friends and being away from them. Then when she starts a relationship with Archer she becomes so wound up in it that she almost lost herself. If Archer had been a typical teen boy that might happened. Archer is also a bit lost.  He did something in his past and he cannot forget it. Just like Lori, he also needs someone to love him. They are both such complex three dimensional characters and they make this story interesting and dynamic.  The relationship between them develops gradually while the bond between them is strong and in the end it resists and conquers.

Lillie Todd wrote a beautiful story about loss, love, and becoming vulnerable in order to find your true self. There are a lot of twists and turns here and it is absolutely impossible to predict what will happen next. I more than highly recommend The Possibility of You and Me. It is a story that exceeded all my expectation. One of the best reads in the Young Adult category this year.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (320 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 10+
Rating: Best Book
Review by: Myrtle

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

Precept: Knowing is not enough; we must act. Willing is not enough; we must do. ~ Goethe.

That’s my precept, not Auggie’s, because if it were Auggie’s precept, it would probably be much better.

August (Auggie) Pullman is a ten-year-old boy slated for fifth grade. He is smart. He is loving. He is compassionate. He has true, honest-to-goodness love inside of him. He is brave. And he has a facial deformity that would make most grown-ups cry. Frankly, August Pullman is my hero.

August has been home-schooled until now. His mother, father, and sister have done an incredible job. Not only have they taught him about every school subject you can imagine for a kid his age, but they have also taught him humor, compassion, and the reality of true love, loyalty, and friendship.

August has a craniofacial disorder that resembles the famed “Elephant Man” John Merrick. In fact, August’s disfigurement might be worse. As a youngster, he wears a helmet – everywhere. He loves his helmet because people can’t see his face. He can be himself inside the security confines of the mask. In fact, he loves Halloween because he can hide his appearance. Cool, until he has to go to a real school, with real people, and real kids his own age. A fluke incidence has August dressing up as a character other than the one he promised he was coming as that day. Only a few kids have befriended him, so when no one knows his identity, the words he overhears from those who claim to be his friend are heartbreaking.

This story is written in first person and could not be more real. I’ll admit, I should have read this story in 2012 when it first came out, and I have no excuse as to why I didn’t, but all the accolades it has received since its debut are true. This is one of the best middle-grade stories ever told! There are so many good/mediocre/okay books on the market today, that we as readers tend to pick out the best of what we are offered. But this one – WONDER by R.J. Palacio – is totally different. It soars somewhere above the clouds.

As a book reviewer, my question to you is simple today, and your age does not matter: Do you want to be a better person? Do you want to know how? Truly, just answer the question. If you answered “Yes” then your first step is to read this book. Once in a blue moon, a book comes along that can change someone’s feelings and outlook on life, and this is one of those rare books. So, do you truly want to be a better person? Only read this book if you mean it, because it will settle deep inside of you and it will change you.

And if not, it’s okay. Author R.J Palacio has written such an impactive and moving story that I venture to say even I will never be the same after reading it. And I am so grateful.

Mercy’s Prince by Katy Huth Jones

Mercy’s Prince by Katy Huth Jones
Mercy’s Prince by Katy Huth Jones
Publisher: Quinlan Creek Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Romance
Length: Full Length (422 Pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: Best Book
Review by: Myrtle

As second son of the King of Levathia, seventeen-year-old Valerian desires the quiet life of a scholarly monk. But when he fails to save his older brother in battle, Valerian must instead become crown prince.

While a traitorous knight schemes against him, Valerian meets Mercy, a pacifist Healer with whom he can speak mind-to-mind like the great dragons. Their bond emboldens Valerian to seek out the legendary dragons and ask for their help against the monsters who killed his brother.

Can Valerian survive the traitor’s assassins long enough to find the dragons? And if he does, can he convince them to lay aside their hatred of humans and help him save the land from destruction?

Prince Valerian has it in his heart to become a scholarly monk, living in the shadows of his older brother, Waryn, Levathia’s beloved prince. But when his brother is killed by the mysterious Mohorovia Horde, Valerian finds himself heir to the crown. How can a peaceful man rule a kingdom in the midst of history’s greatest war?

Upon the death of his brother, seventeen-year-old Valerian acquires the ability to See a person’s thoughts. It is sometimes heartbreaking to experience the unspoken words meant for him, including those of his father and his brother’s best friend/best knight, Sir Caelis. Just as the reader begins to settle into life at “the Keep” with Valerian, we are introduced to fourteen-year-old Mercy and her village of peaceful people. The Brethren, as they are known, feels a higher obligation to the God of Peace, which forbids them taking up arms against any living creature. Mercy’s gift of healing, and of being a seer herself, is inspirational! But with each believing their way is right, a clash between “the Keep” and the Brethren changes life, as they know it, for everyone. “Peace is a noble goal, but when war comes upon Levathia, pacifists are the first to suffer.”

But the true battle is not between “the Keep” and the Brethren … Bring in the Horde, Mohorovia’s lizard-like creatures who swarm in masses, add swords and battle-axes, and dragons both big and small, and this fantasy world swells to epic levels!

At the true heart of the story is an irresistible romance that buds, blooms, and bursts forth like a rose in springtime. And it is just as sweet.

The vivid descriptions and immense character development in this wonderful YA Fantasy is beautifully breath taking. Everything from the depictions of villages and festivals, to Valerian’s princely bedchambers, to the clothing, food, and medicinals came from a highly skilled writer’s hand. The details of this wonderful story keep me enthralled page after page. This is one of the best stories I have had the pleasure of reading in a long time.

If you like epic tales from the days of old, and you enjoy love stories unlike any other you might have read, and think you might want a burrowing dragon (or a giant one) thrown in here and there, this is most assuredly the story for you!

Prisoner of the Crown by Cassie Clover

CROWN
Prisoner of the Crown by Cassie Clover
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (270 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Sixteen year old, Lady Kimess, is expected to one day inherit the role of Royal Seer. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, Kimess steps up now. Untrained, and ill prepared, she doesn’t have a choice. Her remaining family’s safety, as well as her life, rest in the hands of the Queen of Lazrel. Kimess isn’t without allies—even royal ones. Both of the queen’s sons have shown support. If she’s not careful, a friendship with either prince could prove deadly.

Kimess’ telepathic and prophetic abilities are called into action when a delegation from the bordering empire arrives to renegotiate a treaty. Mistrust and rumors from every corner of the kingdom swirl around her. Under constant guard in the castle, the only way Kimess can keep her life and one day earn her freedom is by giving the queen everything she requires—no matter the risks.

One word… Fantastic.

I’m not a big reader of YA books. I guess I never considered myself interested in them. Until now. I had to admit, I wasn’t sure what I was going to get when I opened this book. This is a new to me author and I’m rather leery of new authors.

I was blown away. Cassie Clover has created a world that’s unique and familiar at the same time. I was immediately immersed in Kimess and her world. I had to know what would happen next and the writing was tight. I read this book in one sitting!

Kimess is a complex character. She’s still a young adult, but due to circumstances beyond her control, she’s been thrown into a world that seems way above her head. I loved watching her grow and stretch her abilities through this book. She’s not just that girl who shrinks away from problems. She may not want to deal with the issues around her, but she hits them head-on. I loved her gumption and hope she gets a happy ending (since I see this is the first book in the series! Yay!). Oh and the romance with Nemal? The one Kimess doesn’t really want, but kind of does? Yeah, I’d love to see it come to fruition, too!

I have to add two of the side characters I loved. Remmy and Faldar. These two have some white hot chemistry. I loved that the author wasn’t afraid to put LGBT characters in the book and that these guys are so great together. I rooted for them to get a happy ending as much as I rooted for Kimess.

If you want a book with telepaths, dragon shifters and all sorts of twists and turns, then this is the book for you. It captivated me throughout and kept me guessing what would happen next. Recommended highly.

Halfway Perfect by Julie Cross & Mark Perini

Halfway Perfect by Julie Cross

Halfway Perfect by Julie Cross & Mark Perini
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (381 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: Best Book
Review by: Quince

Bestselling author Julie Cross teams up with Ford model Mark Perini to pen a poignant and gritty YA novel about love and the dark side of modeling and the fashion industry

Eve had it all-emphasis on had. She was a rising star with a modeling contract destined to catapult her to celebrity…until the devastating night when she walked away from everything, everyone in her life. Eve’s worked hard to put her troubled past behind her, and photography’s given her a fresh start. She just never thought her dream internship would force her back into the industry that broke her trust and her heart.

Alex is a regular, good guy from Nebraska, but as an up-and-coming model, he’s learning that appearances are everything. The fake relationship Alex’s agent concocted for Alex and his underage costar? That’ll land them both the hot jobs. But Alex hadn’t counted on falling for Eve, the girl behind the camera.

Halfway Perfect is not a halfway, but all the way perfect story. This is one of the best stories I’ve read this year. So perfect that everything that I start to read after it pales in comparison.

One may argue that the author of Halfway Perfect did not bring anything new. Yes, that’s true. It’s known that fashion world is a cruel one. It’s known that people will do anything to get media attention and to succeed (even go into a fake relationship), it’s also known that in abusive relationships the victim is taking all the blame. Here, it’s not that the authors revealed something new to readers. It’s the way these already known issues are raised, processed, written, and delivered. How Julie Cross and Mark Perini did that is pure perfection.

The story is told in dual POV, and each voice is easily distinguished. Their writing is flawless. Due to that I was hooked from the first page. Another great thing in this story are the characters, both main and secondary, both heroes and villains. They are all so alive and written with so many details it was pure enjoyment to read. I like how both main characters (Eve and Alex) changed through the story, but I also like how the villain’s true face was revealed at the end. The authors did a great job in exploring Alex’s family dynamic. The bond between three brothers and little sister is done amazingly .

Halfway Perfect is not an easy read. It contains violence and it realistically portrayed the fashion world. But that’s only part of what drew me in. Its realistic descriptions of the fashion world, and a bad relationship is what I liked the most in this story.

Multi-layered, complex, realistic, that is Halfway Perfect. I highly recommend it.

Earth Bound by Aprilynne Pike

EARTH
Earth Bound by Aprilynne Pike
Publisher: Penguin Group
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, YA, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (338 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Peppermint

Tavia Michaels is the sole survivor of the plane crash that killed her parents. When she starts to see strange visions of a boy she’s never spoken with in real life, she begins to suspect that there’s much about her past that she isn’t being told.

Tavia immediately searches for answers, desperate to determine why she feels so drawn to a boy she hardly knows. But when Tavia discovers that the aunt and uncle who took her in after her parents’ death may have actually been responsible for the plane crash that killed them–and that she may have been the true intended victim–she flees for the safety of Camden, Maine, where the boy she sees in her visions instructs her to go.

Now, Tavia is on the run with no one to trust. No one, that is, except for her best friend and longtime crush, Benson.

Tavia feels torn between the boy who mysteriously comes to her at night and the boy who has been by her side every step of the way. But what Tavia doesn’t know is that the world is literally falling apart and that to save it she will have to unite with the boy in her visions. Only problem? To do so would mean rejecting Benson’s love. And that’s the one thing Tavia Michaels swore she’d never do.

This is one of the best Young Adult stories I have read in a while, so much so that I wasn’t ready for it to end.

Tavia is anything but your average eighteen year old. She had to suffer the tragedy of her parents dying and getting complete uprooted from her life, as well as fight for her life. This is just in the first chapter. Tavia is someone that I sympathized with immediately because she has had to deal with more in her life than most people ever do. These experiences have made her a recluse both physically, emotionally, and psychologically.

While Tavia keeps people at a distance it does not mean she goes unaffected and Benson certainly has an effect on her. I immediately recognized the connection they had. Benson and Elizabeth, her psychologist seem to provide a semblance of a normal life for Tavia. That is until her world is turned upside down and she doesn’t know who to trust, the mysterious yet hot guy that keeps showing up or the people who have helped bring her back from the brink of death.

Once I started to read this story I was immediately addicted. The author just had a way of making me feel like I was part of the story. The words seem to come off the pages and act out scenes right in my home. I was so intrigued and encased in the story I found myself up at the wee hours of the night telling myself just one more page. On top of that the end was such a cliff hanger that I cannot wait to read the next installment, because there is no question in my mind that Tavia’s story has only just begun.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

FIFTH
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Publisher:G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, YA
Length: Full Length (457 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Thistledown

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

What would happen if aliens did come to earth?

Some books stick with you and keep you up nights. The 5th Wave did both. In this multi-POV teen novel you experience what it is like when Cassie, the main character suffers as aliens make their presence known on earth. Other characters pop in as the black chapter breaks appear. There are several waves of disasters that plague mankind, designed to wipe us off the face of the earth.  It was relentless and in The 5th Wave, it sure doesn’t go well for the human race.

When the book begins, we meet Cassie, a teenager, who is on her own in a post-apocalyptic world. Almost everyone has been killed in the first four waves (silence, disease, flooding and more) and Cassie begins to wonder if she is the last human being left on earth. She wanders, learns how to survive and becomes a force to be reckoned with. It would be just too easy if that was all to the story. We journey with her as she retells the beginning of the end in flashbacks. What happened when the lights went out, what happened to her family as an Ebola type virus swept through the population, the military gathering of children and the murder of her father. It is a visceral journey told as only Rick Yancy can. Beautiful. Tragic. Poignant. In the present someone is hunting Cassie. It is one of the aliens that she calls a silencer. After he corners her and shoots her in the leg, she has to decide if she is going to live or die. One choice and it would all be over. She promised her brother she would come for him and one wrong move could very well end everything.

As the book develops, you also meet Ben. He is a young man that went to Cassie’s school but has now been captured with the other kids and brought to a military base for what they believe is training against the alien forces that have infiltrated humanity. That is the catch. They look just like we do and have been here forever. Sneaking inside of our mothers as they slept, implanting themselves in the growing babies held within, their consciousness awakened as the invasion hit. Well, most of them. For some, they have been plotting against humanity from the start, waiting for the time to strike. At the compound, Ben has to decide to give in to his despair and become a force to end the suffering of humanity or succumb to his own inner demons. Who is real? Who is not? Military regiment becomes the new religion and survival is for the fittest. The fact that they are children hardly matters at all. There are some interesting questions posed by this part of the book. Who are these people in charge of the base? How did they get power back up when everything else is gone? What are the chips they are inserting into each child and what is this Wonderland mind mapping system? Red or green, who is alien and who is human? It is a question that kept me turning the pages.

Cassie’s brother Sam is also a character that appears once or twice in narratives. Renamed Nugget after being brought to the military camp where Ben is stationed, he learns quickly what his new reality has become and it is terrifying. He begins to grow up. These journeys come together as Cassie is rescued by Evan, begins to fall for him and continues her search for her brother. Ben, now renamed Zombie, grows in his strength as he helps himself and others and Nugget tries to keep up with it all.

Having a book with multiple POV’s makes the story more inclusive. In this case, you get multiple sides of the alien invasion, all of which are riveting. The descriptive elements of the book are so there I literally felt like I was falling into the story. The gut clenching moments when you try to figure you who is friend or foe, the fluttering sweetness of first love, the bitterness of betrayal and the sheer determination of the human race against insurmountable odds are all themes here. I have read the first book in Yancey’s Monstrumologist series and knew firsthand the level of writing this author has to offer and even still, this book blew me away. It is gripping, suspenseful, heart wrenching and beautiful all at the same time and I fell in love on the first page.

The next time I am looking for an alien novel, this will be the one I pick up again. To be honest, l didn’t read it at first because it was about aliens, but noticing it was Rick Yancey’s work made me rethink my decision. This is not a hokey body snatcher novel. Yes, it has some elements of that, but the way it is handled, to me, was much better than any other alien invasion scenario I have ever read. That is the scary part. He makes it seem so real. Every layer, every character quirk that makes the person pop off the page, every plot twist all points to a story that had me creeping off into corners at every opportunity to read this remarkable book. I just hope there is going to be another one.

One other thing that struck me about this book was the end note by Yancey. While he was writing the book, he lost his writing dog and companion Casey. As a reader, that struck me, because all the through the book there is loss after loss and the grim reality of what life has become in the after. Yancey was going through it himself as he was writing and that got to me.

The 5th Wave was unforgettable. It is a journey. It is the unrelenting force of love and the unstoppable essence of humanity.

The Iron Queen by Kaitlin Bevis

QWUEEN
The Iron Queen by Kaitlin Bevis
Daughters of Zeus Book 3
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, YA
Length: Full Length (180 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Death is a luxury she can’t afford.

Life is hell for Persephone. Zeus will stop at nothing to gain access to the living realm and the Underworld, and as the only living god with a right to both, Persephone’s in trouble. Captured and tortured beyond the limits of her resolve, Persephone must find the power to stand against Zeus. But will she be strong enough?

Meanwhile, Hades contemplates desperate measures to rescue his queen. Persephone never thought of herself as dangerous, but there’s a reason gods never marry for love. A being with the power to destroy all of creation shouldn’t place more value in one individual than the rest of the planet. But Hades…Hades would break the world for her.

To save the world and stop both Hades and Zeus, Persephone must make a difficult choice. One that may cost her everything.

Not everyone will make it out of the battle against Zeus unscathed.

The Iron Queen picks up exactly where the intense cliffhanger in Daughter of the Earth and Sky ended. Readers wanting to enjoy this book must read the previous two books in the series in order to fully understand the events in this tale.

Persephone continues to amaze me with her strength and resilience. She suffers unthinkable and sometimes graphic acts of torture at the hands of Zeus, her own father. Zeus believes he can break her, but I think he seriously underestimates Persephone. As I read, I was on pins and needles wondering how in the world she would escape.

Throughout this series, Persephone has undergone a lot of changes. She continues to grow and mature in this book as well. I really like Persephone and have come to think of her as a friend. I truly wish I could have spared her some of the physical and emotional pain. However, everything that Persephone has been through has helped shape her into a very strong woman. I know that she will be a wonderful and very powerful goddess who genuinely cares about the Earth and humanity.

Hades continues to fascinate and scare me. His love and passion for Persephone is so powerful that I have no doubt that he would “break the world” for her. The situation with Zeus seems so dire at times that I was beginning to wonder if it would really come to that.

I didn’t get to see Hades and Persephone interact as much as I would have liked in this book, but Zeus couldn’t keep them apart for long. I’ve enjoyed watching them grow as a couple throughout the series, and I was very satisfied with their happy ending.

Ms. Bevis introduces a host of gods and goddesses in this story along with a brief description of each character’s powers. Since I’m familiar with Greek mythology, I didn’t have a problem following all the new additions. However, readers unfamiliar to mythology might be a bit overwhelmed. I assume the new gods and goddesses will make appearances in future installments of the series.

Aphrodite has several chapters devoted to her in this book. In Daughter of the Earth and Sky, Aphrodite came off as very superficial and flighty. Consequently, she wasn’t exactly my favorite character. However, the chapters devoted to her in The Iron Queen provide some much needed insight into Aphrodite’s character that helped me begin warm to her. The fourth book in the series will focus on Aphrodite, and I’m curious to see what Ms. Bevis has planned.

I thought the previous book was emotional, but this one is even more so. The final solution for dealing with Zeus literally had me sobbing. I understand why a certain character chose to make a huge sacrifice, but that didn’t make it any easier to bear. This character’s selfless action definitely illustrated the fact that Ms. Bevis is not afraid to have her characters make tough choices and some of them don’t get a completely happy ending. Even though the storyline involving Persephone, Hades, and their conflict with Zeus has a very satisfying conclusion, Ms. Bevis has once again left the door open for another adventure. There are a few unanswered questions that have left me craving the fourth book.

The Iron Queen is an intense and touching tale. Ms. Bevis has created a captivating world filled with great characters that I’ve come to know and love. I can’t wait to see what happens to them next. I highly recommend The Iron Queen as well as the rest of the series to readers looking for a gripping young adult fantasy.