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From the Dance of Thieves series , Vol. 1

Questions of trust, trauma, loyalty, and territory, for readers who enjoy lie-infused romance.

An elite soldier and the head of an unacknowledged dynasty fall in love while telling each other lie after lie.

Six years after the war described in The Beauty of Darkness (2016), the queen of Venda sends three top soldiers to hunt down a war criminal. One soldier is 17-year-old Kazi, formerly “an invisible street rat” of Venda, who honed her consummate thieving skills after her mother was kidnapped into (probable) sex slavery. The war criminal may be hiding at Tor’s Watch, where the ancient Ballenger Dynasty is newly led by 19-year-old Jase Ballenger. Tor’s Watch is politically unrecognized by the other kingdoms, and although the Ballengers refuse to demarcate their borders, they’re fiercely territorial. There are ongoing, possibly rogue, threats to their home, city, and trade arena. Kazi and Jase’s meet-cute is a meet-slam (her knife at his throat), and, of course, while chained together by kidnappers and deceiving each other incessantly, they fall in love. The action and reveals have strong content but little punch, and the romance is overwritten (“I was dancing with fire and hoping not to get burned”). However, Pearson’s plotting is solid, and the last section picks up steam, ending on a cryptic cliffhanger that begs the sequel to hurry. Kazi and Jase seem white by default; a few characters are noted as brown-skinned.

Questions of trust, trauma, loyalty, and territory, for readers who enjoy lie-infused romance. (Fantasy/romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-15901-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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From the Aurelian Cycle series , Vol. 1

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes.

What happens to the world after the dust from a revolution has settled?

Friends Annie and Lee were children from very different circles when Atreus killed Lee’s father, dragonlord Leon Stormscourge, ending the uprising on the bloodiest day in Callipolis’ history. For too long the dragonriders held all the power while their people starved and lived in fear. Nine years later, a new generation of dragonriders is emerging, children selected and trained on merit, not bloodlines. Their dragons are finally mature enough for them to compete for Firstrider, a position of power that can give Lee back a small part of what his family lost. However, not only is Lee competing against Annie, but rumors are circulating that some of the royal family have survived and have dragons of their own. Everyone will have to make a choice: Restore the old regime, support the First Protector and the new caste system he created, or look for a new way, no matter what the cost. From the beginning, this book pulls readers in with political intrigue and action. What keeps them invested, however, are the complex relationships between many cast members. Choices are complex, and the consequences for all could be deadly. The world is well fleshed out and believable. Annie and Lee are light skinned; secondary characters are diverse, and race is a nonissue in this world.

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes. (author’s note) (Fantasy.14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51821-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A fresh and compelling voice.

A second chance prompts a deadly game of wits.

Lu Mingshin is about to be executed. Her fiance, Prince Ren, has ordered her death after using her family’s wealth to vie for the position of crown prince from his half brothers, each of them born to one of the widower king’s Royal Ladies. If that wasn’t enough, Mingshin learns that her Uncle Yi arranged her mother’s murder, and Aylin, her two-faced noblewoman cousin, will be marrying Ren instead. On the verge of death, Mingshin desperately wishes for another chance—only to see flashes of light and wake up two years in the past. With her memories of the future intact, Mingshin intends to not become a victim again, training in combat and vowing to endear herself to King Reifeng to secure her family’s safety. Strange dreams reveal the source of the magic that allowed her to jump back in time. A powerful mage is also on Mingshin’s tail, along with the ruthless enemies she’s already aware of. As Mingshin starts to rewrite her life’s story, new individuals come into play: a visiting Elder with questionable motives; Princess Yunle, who becomes a new best friend; and Prince Jieh, one of Ren’s rivals for the throne. Set in a fantasy world reminiscent of imperial China, this debut novel’s structure has a few oddities, but the clever premise and intriguing and suspenseful plot will keep readers engaged.

A fresh and compelling voice. (Fantasy. 14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2023

ISBN: 9781454949923

Page Count: 344

Publisher: Union Square & Co.

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023

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