Prince Ethelrex has been sent to find the lost princess Emmaline, the last of the lost princess of Mercia at all costs. He has been sent to use her to find the legendary treasure of King Solomon at all costs. In doing so, he finally hopes to appease his father and prove his worthiness to ascend the throne. A stolen throne, but a throne none the less.
Only one little hiccup. He has also been instructed to marry Princess Emmaline at all costs.
And he might have, maybe, accidentally, kind of sort of fallen in love with her.
Hereafter has a creative premise. The prince is a villain, for heavens' sake! I can't remember the last book I read that had that as a plot point. Rex's internal struggle and surprising choices as he has to choose between his father and Emmaline was tense and gave so much to the plot.
We also get to see all the threads from the previous Lost Princesses novellas come to a climax. And this is one treasure hunt that has quite the unexpected ending.
As many of Jody Hedlund's young adult books do, Emmaline explores what it means to be truly strong and truly courageous . . . and how she can do that as she faces her nation's enemy frightened and alone.
All in all, Hereafter delivered all the series had me hoping for by the end without taking pat answers or endings.
Maribel is completely content at the convent.
Well, mostly. But only her best friend, Edmund, realizes she's not. And he's willing to take her hunting in the woods whenever she needs to satisfy her thirst for adventure.
In fact, that's how the biggest adventure she's ever had begins--an intruder in the woods who claims Maribel is actually a princess. Who claims she holds a key to a long-lost treasure. And who claims she must meet up with her recently-discovered sister to save her nation.
Oh, and Edmund can come along too, of course.
While we're already on the topic of Edmund--I was very pleasantly surprised with his character. In most medieval fiction (especially for young adults), the male character is able to do any physical activity presented to him, likely a general or somebody in the army, and good-looking besides.
Edmund is admittedly weak. He couldn't keep up with the training his mentor gave him. He fails sometimes. He gets hurt. Sometimes he loses. And that's what kept him interesting.
His dynamic with Maribel was also very well-written--the story of two best friends realizing they're changing. And changing together.
The element of the Fera Agmen was very interesting--how Edmund can talk to animals in their language. It added a new, intriguing element to the story. (And really, what's not to love about a wolf named Barnabas?)
Only negative I can think of off the top of my head was that a scene in the climax felt a bit rushed, but it might have had to be to convey the character's feelings.
That being said, that's why I've chosen Hereafter as my book of the month. Unique characters, unique relationships, and a wolf named Barnabas.
Adelaide has just been one of the cousins her entire life. She played with Christopher and Mitchell and learned the same skills they did.
No one ever guessed she was a princess. And no one ever guessed she would be called upon to save her nation from the evil Ethelwulf. And no one ever guessed that she would be the one to fulfill an ancient prophecy of a young ruler who would rise up in wisdom.
I loved Adelaide's character from Chapter 1. She was strong and determined, yet every inch the lady. The way she and Christopher both learn when to hold on and when to let go was beautiful.
But the character that intrigued me most was Mitchell. *A few spoilers ahead* I loved him in the first couple chapters, grew gradually annoyed with him in the majority of the book, hated him for a couple chapters, and then felt sorry for him in the end. His character was written well, with strong motivation for his actions that forced this reader at least to sympathize.
Evermore is a bit heavier on the romance side than some of the author's other young adult books. While that was a negative for me, that will be a positive for a lot of readers.
All that being said, Evermore would make a wise choice for the bookshelf.
Ah, book shopping. We all love to do it. Even better, it's a fantastic way to support other authors!
Without further ado, here are some releases I've got my eye on:
I've been waiting for the conclusion to the Codebreakers trilogy since the beginning of the year. I'm excited to meet the characters she hinted at in the last book.
This debut novel intrigued me with its premise--a female censor in World War II. I'm eager to explore the themes of the book and to find another book to add to my favorites.
Melanie Dickerson ended her much loved Hagenheim series this summer, and I'm excited to see where she goes next!
And, yes. I'm already looking for Dust's sequel, Shadow by Kara Swanson. I'm looking forward for more of the vibrant characters, sparkling plot, and beautiful allegory of the first one!
*What's on your to be read list? What new releases excite you? Share your adventures in the comments!*
On the same night, the king and queen died together.
The king entrusted his elite guard, Lance, to save the three princesses from the evil Ethelwulf.
The queen entrusted her lady-in-waiting, Felicia, to save the three princesses from the same.
So begins the adventure of two fiercely loyal subjects who couldn't be more different--but have to save the kingdom together.
First off--DO NOT READ THE BACK COVER BLURB! It spoils the end of the story. You have been duly warned.
The author brought good blows to her characters--placed things in their path that would chip away at the things they held most dear and the beliefs they trusted the most. The book winds things up quickly and tightly at the end--while still leaving room for the series to follow.
By all appearances, the book is about depending on God above all else. And as mentioned above, the plot teaches the characters that in powerful ways. However, even after chapters where characters come to the end of themselves and change their minds, they still make statements such as "you are all I need" to their romantic interests. Which seems to sabotage the theme made evident a few chapters earlier.
Is Always always on the point? No. But it is most of the time. And that makes it a read I'm willing to give some time to as well.
Isabelle is simply not a rebel.
Her sister, Olivia, is. But Olivia left the castle to begin a life of her own. Now it's just Izzy. Just Izzy to make an advantageous match and save her people. Just Izzy to discover the truth about her intended, Sir Thomas.
And just Izzy to save her people from him.
As Olivia battled her strength in the preceding book, Izzy battles her weakness. She wants to be like her brave older sister, but she's not. That being said, Izzy's weaknesses are never portrayed as obnoxious and annoying, so bravo. I love how she wrote the journey of Izzy learning to be comfortable in her own skin and use her weaknesses as strength.
This book continued the trend of some odd recap paragraphs (as in, "here, let's summarize what's happened the past week--oops, I forgot we were in a battle"). Maybe this is because it's more of a novella length and didn't have the word count of a full book?
Subtle threads of mystery were woven in so very well--when I found the answer, I could look back and go, "How did I not see that? It makes perfect sense." (Unlike some mysteries I've read where the answer has nothing to do with the rest of the book, or there were no clues leading up to it.)
And Thomas. I have not been that angry with a Noble Knights villain since the first book in the series, An Uncertain Choice.
A Worthy Rebel is a worthy read. Maybe even a worthy re-read.
Loyalty is everything to Olivia.
It's what kept her from escaping while she could and returning to rescue her sister. It's what kept her from escaping even after Lord Pitt captured them. It's what led her to search her captor's castle for the Holy Chalice.
And it might just be what gets her killed.
Olivia is a tough girl. But the author showed her to have real feelings, too. Still, her and Aldric's banter actually got just a bit annoying after chapters upon chapters of it. And a few paragraphs recapping events were inserted at strange points (um, we were in the middle of a battle here?). Speaking of battles, the author did a fantastic job of not treating death and battle lightly. Characters mourn and face consequences--even the "good guys."
A Loyal Heart is full of deep themes about--you guessed it--loyalty. What is true loyalty? When does loyalty cross into overprotectiveness? What if you're loyal to the wrong person? This book dives deep and makes you wonder about your own loyalties.
Archer Keaton is a dreamtreader.
He protects the dream world and the waking world from merging together. He keeps the things you dream from coming true and wreaking havoc. He mends tears in the dream fabric--tears Lucid Walkers keep making by breaking in to the dream--from becoming rifts that would take out the entire world.
And he's only fourteen years old.
I was surprised by how drawn in I was to this story. I am not a huge fantasy reader, and I expected to make it a couple chapters in and lose interest.
Dreamtreaders is an incredible allegory of spiritual warfare--with so many wacky and shocking twists along the way. It brings the reality of the importance of our choices to life in a fantastical way.
Archer and his friends aren't perfect. They're human (most of them). And the characters do experience real consequences for their choices--when they make a bad choice, they don't get off scot-free. They face up to what they've done and make it right--which is rare in young adult fiction.
*Light spoilers ahead*
I have mixed feelings about the ending. On one hand, it's a dramatic conclusion that didn't disappoint. But on the other hand . . . WHAT ABOUT ALL THOSE OTHER CHARACTERS? It's an imperfect ending (again, due to choices the characters made). But maybe that was the best ending for it.
Hi there! Rachel again. Check out this section for book reviews and cover reveals of some of my favorites!