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The Warrior Maiden by Melanie Dickerson

Title: The Warrior Maiden (Hagenheim #9)
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: February 5th 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, Retellings, Christian Fiction

From New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson comes a fresh reimagining of the classic Mulan tale.

Mulan isn’t afraid to pretend to be a son and assume her father’s soldier duties in war. But what happens when the handsome son of a duke discovers her secret?

Mulan is trying to resign herself to marrying the village butcher for the good of her family, but her adventurous spirit just can’t stand the thought. At the last minute, she pretends to be the son her father never had, assumes his duties as a soldier, and rides off to join the fight to protect the castle of her liege lord’s ally from the besieging Teutonic Knights.

Wolfgang and his brother Steffan leave Hagenheim with several other soldiers to help their father’s ally in Poland. When they arrive, Wolfgang is exasperated by the young soldier Mikolai who seems to either always be one step away from disaster . . . or showing Wolfgang up in embarrassing ways.

When Wolfgang discovers his former rival and reluctant friend Mikolai is actually a girl, he is determined to protect her. But battle is a dangerous place where anything can happen—and usually does.

When Mulan receives word that her mother has been accused of practicing witchcraft through her healing herbs and skills, Mulan’s only thought is of defending her. Will she be able to trust Wolfgang to help? Or will sacrificing her own life be the only way to save her mother?

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I know The Warrior Maiden is a retelling of Mulan but it also had a very Joan of Arc feel to it as well. It has a very strong Christianity influence but also very well done historical elements. I loved the story.

Historical fiction that feels real! I always love when you can tell a book is well researched even before you read the author’s note. I love stories that span the areas of Lithuania and Poland. My grandparents were Lithuanian immigrants (although my grandma was born in Russia). It made me laugh because my grandmother’s mother’s maiden name actually starts with Mikolai (Mikolaiunis) It was cool to have Mulan take place in a different piece of history. They are battling the Teutonic Knights who are trying to conquer lands in the name of Christ. With no male in her family to go and fight (otherwise they would lose their house) she disguises herself as Mikolai’s illegitimate son.

I loved the characters in the story. I was impressed with their faith in God but also in their own abilities. The bond of Mulan and her mother is so sweet. Her mother never has treated Mulan like she is not her own and would defend her with her life. I love how much pride her mother has for her and how supportive she is.

I love Wolfgang. He is such a sweet guy, that kind of guy that could easily get his heart broken. He’s a fierce in battle but so kind that you could see someone taking advantage of it. He just has this giant heart and so much respect for his family. He doesn’t give up on his brother, no matter how much he fights him on it.

Mulan is fierce but I also like how she is a warrior with a warrior’s heart but she also likes to dress nice. She doesn't have to be one way or the other. She can want to fight battles and also want to have a husband who loves her and wear a nice dress in a while. She has such a strong personality and isn’t going to let anyone push her around.

I thought it was a really cool way to do a retelling. I’m interested to look back at what the other stories are about. Wolfgang mentions Aladdin as a brother-in-law, sooo. If you enjoy historical fiction and retellings, this is that perfect combo of both.
Melanie Dickerson is a New York Times bestselling author, a two-time Christy Award finalist, two-time Maggie Award winner, Carol Award winner, two-time winner of the Christian Retailing's Best award, and her book, The Healer's Apprentice, won the National Readers Choice Award for Best First Book. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). Melanie earned a bachelors degree in special education of the hearing impaired from The University of Alabama and has worked as a teacher in Georgia, Tennessee, and Ukraine. She lives with her husband and two children in Huntsville, Alabama.

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Prize: Win (1) physical copy of THE WARRIOR MAIDEN by Melanie Dickerson (US ONLY) or e-copy for (INT)

Giveaway Starts: 30th January, 2019
Giveaway Ends: 13th February, 2019

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The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Title: The Darkest Star
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published: October 30th 2018 by Tor Teen

When seventeen-year-old Evie Dasher is caught up in a raid at a notorious club known as one of the few places where humans and the surviving Luxen can mingle freely, she meets Luc, an unnaturally beautiful guy she initially assumes is a Luxen...but he is in fact something much more powerful. Her growing attraction for Luc will lead her deeper and deeper into a world she'd only heard about, a world where everything she thought she knew will be turned on its head...

#1 New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout returns to the universe of the Lux in this brand new series, featuring beloved characters both new and old.

The Darkest Star reminded me of why I had loved the Lux series so much. It’s been a long time since I was in the world but once I was back in., I was remembering all the reasons I loved it.

Even though the story is set in the same world and former characters make appearances you don’t have to read the original Lux series to understand what is going. As the story goes along, it’s explained what previously happened on the planet. It’s not info dumped either, it comes up as things happen in the current story that relate to the past.

What I loved is that this reminded me so much of why I had originally loved the Lux series. The witty banter between the love interest. The slow burn but definitely strong chemistry between them. A protagonist who is not completely helpless. She might not have any special powers but she is going to let herself just be killed and fights back.

I really liked the plot and the pacing. It’s a quick read but entertaining the entire way. Things are happening but also keep moving. I also like how it connects to the previous series but isn’t just rebooting the same plot. It’s moved on and focused on some different types of characters from the original. The Origin kids all grown up for instance and dealing with the kind of hate that can come with people knowing about the Luxen.

I loved the characters. They are witty and smart and really fun to read. It made the story enjoyable.

I loved The Darkest Star, it’s one of those books you read when you need a break and want some sweet slow burn chemistry.


The Wicked King by Holly Black

Title: The Wicked King
Author: Holly Black
Published:January 8th 2019 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

The Wicked King is a book that is everything I want a sequel to be. I loved it as much as the first and being it falls in the middle, sometimes that is hard to do.

Oh my Jude. What I love most about her character is how flawed she is. There is so many times where I hardly like her and I think she brings so much down on herself. I also often feel sympathetic to her because she stuck playing in a world that humanity is a weakness. I think she wants to pretend that she doesn’t have it but she does.

As far as Cardan, I don’t think we see him as much as I would like to see him. He’s interesting in this book and again I think Jude brings so much on herself. If she really looked at Cardan and saw him as he is and not what she’s decided he will be, she could make things easier on herself. I don’t think it’s a matter of trusting as even confiding. Some of the things, I don’t think he could really use in a nefarious way but if she only gave him the information..

I still love Cardan and Jude together. I can’t decide if that’s wrong or right but Cardan can’t lie. I feel like that is so so important to remember.

The plot is cut throat and political as the first. A chess board with many moving pieces. Always interesting.

That ending!!! That ending!!! Okay so for me I loved it because there are two possibilities that I see as to why it happened. That is what I love so much about it. Maybe there are more I’m not seeing but I’m holding on to what I think because because one could be bad and one could be good. I can’t believe I have to wait so long for the next book.