Book Review: Dragon Connection (The Stone Crown #1) by Ava Richardson

I received a free copy of the book from NetGalley! Read on to know my honest opinion of the book!

About the Book:

Dragon Connection (The Stone Crown, #1)

One crown can unite them—or destroy them all.

The three kingdoms lie splintered, their aging dragon riders content with stories of glorious battle victories. But a new evil creeps across the land. Inyene, a powerful noblewoman of the Northern Kingdom, plunders valuable resources to power mechanical dragons in her quest to gain a foothold in the Middle Kingdom. From there she will ascend the High Throne, once again uniting the realms under a single crown.

For the wearer of the Stone Crown can wield unlimited power—if it can be found.

Narissea has spent a quarter of her sixteen years slaving away in the mines, accused of a crime she didn’t commit. When word reaches her of the horrors assailing her village, Narissea knows she must act despite the risk. Already her arm is scarred with four brands signifying previous escape attempts. If she’s unsuccessful in her fifth, it will mean death.

But her life forever changes when she stumbles upon an injured dragon, discovers an ancient shrine, and learns the true purpose behind Lady Inyene’s mechanical abominations.

Now, Narissea has only one choice: gain Inyene’s trust and find a way to thwart her plans, even if it means sacrificing that which she desires most of all.

Her freedom.

This book contains violence.

My Thoughts:

Dragon Connection is the first book in the Stone Crown series by author Ava Richardson. It is a well-written, fast paced, YA fantasy fiction novel that follows the life of Narissea as she navigates the mines as a slave and later embarks on a journey to find the Stone Crown. Nari is a strong willed girl, set to work in the mines as a slave along with many of her people, trapped into this situation based on falsified debts that are owed to Lady Inyene.

I particularly enjoyed how the author does not waste time building up the story, but throws the reader right into the middle of it. The author later on takes her time to explain some of the setting and give us a sense of the background of the people and the reason for their current predicament. Most of the things that happen in this book come as a pleasant surprise though some parts are a little predictable.

With a strong desire to thwart Lady Inyene’s plans, Nari embarks on a journey that involves an injured dragon, the Lady’s brother and a mage. Add to this mix some magic and we have the perfect recipe for an enjoyable read! I truly cannot wait to pick up the next book and find out what happens!

Book Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

About the Book:

A Curse So Dark and Lonely

 New York Times bestseller!

Has everything you’d want in a retelling of a classic fairy tale.” – Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of A Spark of Light and Small Great Things

“Absolutely spellbinding.” – Stephanie Garber, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Caraval and Legendary

In a lush, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer gives readers another compulsively readable romance perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer.

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

My thoughts:

It is very easy to tell someone that the only way to break a curse is to fall in love. However, what people do not tell and this is the main catch, is that it is not so easy to fall in love.

This is the problem that Prince Rhen of Emberfall is facing. Having made one mistake in his youth, he is cursed to relive the eighteenth year of his life again and again and again. What was his mistake you may wonder? He courted an enchantress and cast her away. Spurned due to this and seeking revenge, she curses him. The curse can only be lifted when he finds true love.

Doesn’t this sound like a typical fairy tale but with the roles reversed? The prince has to find his princess. However, nothing is as easy as this explanation and this is not just any fairytale. In this new age re-telling of the Beauty and the Beast, the author brings to us a new age spin on things. Once the curse begins, the prince has the duration of the autumn season to find his true love. If that doesn’t happen, he turns into a monster and becomes quite dangerous.

The author brings to us a tale of sorrow and grief that is hidden behind the walls of the castle and unknown to the people of the kingdom. The only story that the people know is that their king seems to have abandoned them. The Prince’s guard is the only other person around and the only one granted with the ability to move from this time/place to the present day Earth and bring back girls for the Prince to court.

During one such situation, we are introduced to Harper. Harper witnesses a kind of kidnapping and tried to stop it. It is in this situation that she is brought back to Rhen’s world. The author then brings to us a wonderful tale of friendship, loyalty and eventually love. The characters are well developed and you cannot help but fall in love with them and their story. If I continue to write more, I will only gush about the story and reveal all the plot twists. To avoid that I will stop here and conclude.

A very well thought out book, this is a must read for all! I cannot wait for Book 2 and I am sure most of you will feel the same.

Review: The Rise of Sivagami by Anand Neelakantan

About the Book:

The Rise of Sivagami (Baahubali: Before the Beginning, Book 1)

Blessed by the sacred Gauriparvat, Mahishmathi is an empire of abundance. The powerful kingdom is flourishing under its king, who enjoys the support and loyalty of his subjects, down to his lowly slaves. But is everything really as it appears, or is the empire hiding its own dirty secret?

Orphaned at a young age and wrenched away from her foster family, Sivagami is waiting for the day she can avenge the death of her beloved father, cruelly branded a traitor. Her enemy? None other than the king of Mahishmathi. With unflinching belief in her father’s innocence, the fiery young orphan is driven to clear his name and destroy the empire of Mahishmathi against all odds. How far can she go in her audacious journey?

From the pen of masterful storyteller and bestselling author Anand Neelakantan, comes The Rise of Sivagami, the first book in the series Baahubali: Before the Beginning. A tale of intrigue and power, revenge and betrayal, the revelations in The Rise of Sivagami will grip the reader and not let go.

My Thoughts:

I am sure all of you out there have watched Baahubali 1 and 2. Most of us have come to love the characters but as with most movies, we do not get to know some of the characters well. In this case, with the focus of the movie plot on Baahubali (first the father and then the son – who share the same second name), we are introduced to some very strong and compelling characters about whom we don’t know much.

This book, the first in a trilogy, seeks to close the gaps and give us an insight into those characters who definitely need to be explained. The major questions of – Who are they? Where are they from? How did they get to where they are today? – are brought up and the author seeks to give us the answers.

Sivagami, the strong-willed lady, who is ruthless with her decisions, is a woman who brings out the curiosity in people. Since the movies do not give us anything about her or how she came to be the Queen, this book tells us her story. A girl from humble beginnings, with a thirst for revenge, Sivagami is portrayed as head strong and determined. She takes her time to plot and plan, showing us the strength and cunning in her nature while at the same time, we are shown how much she cares for her friends and can go to any length to protect them.

The book also talks about Kattappa in his youth, at a time when he is just starting out, along with intricate details about his life, his father and brother. It is a completely different person that we are shown, which might take you by surprise, but remember, he is still an unsure youth, trying to understand and find his place in the world. His part of the story, running parallel, talks about his struggle to accept the way the world is.

This prequel has a lot of subplots and twists, bringing out the darkness of the times and the conspiracies and corruption behind the doors of the kingdom. Everyone has an agenda and something to hide. The characters are all portrayed in shades of grey, making us believe that they aren’t as bad as they actually are. Though the story is well written, there are many times when many of the characters introduced do not inspire empathy, in-spite of the dire circumstances. There is so much that seems to be cluttered together into this first part. It feels more like a rant on the system than a portrayal of emotions that arise due to the circumstances, with the nobles and the slaves, and then those who take advantage of and abuse their power!

Pushing these flaws to the side, the story has immense potential and brings out a feeling of nostalgia and a slight sense of satisfaction of knowing who these characters are. Of course, this is just the beginning, there is more to come!