My two favourite 5-star fantasy books this year

My last two reads have been so great that I can’t help but share them with you.


FireborneFireborne by Rosaria Munda
Series: The Aurelian Cycle #1
Published by: Putnam Juvenile on October 15, 2019
Genre: Dragons, Fantasy
Pages: 448
Source: Purchased
Book Details
Rating: ★★★★★

Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution changed their world, giving everyone—even the lowborn—a chance to test into the governing class of dragonriders.

Now they are both rising stars in the new regime, despite backgrounds that couldn’t be more different. Annie’s lowborn family was executed by dragonfire, while Lee’s aristocratic family was murdered by revolutionaries. Growing up in the same orphanage forged their friendship, and seven years of training have made them rivals for the top position in the dragonriding fleet.

But everything changes when survivors from the old regime surface, bent on reclaiming the city.

With war on the horizon and his relationship with Annie changing fast, Lee must choose to kill the only family he has left or to betray everything he’s come to believe in. And Annie must decide whether to protect the boy she loves . . . or step up to be the champion her city needs.

From debut author Rosaria Munda comes a gripping adventure that calls into question which matters most: the family you were born into, or the one you’ve chosen.

The author wrote a little note that I feel really sums up the vibe and atmosphere of the book. I’d encourage you to read it! In short: Fireborne isn’t about starting a revolution, but about the aftermath of one. The old regime was all about “birthright” and how leadership comes from certain families that are basically born “special”. That regime was overthrown with a new one that believes ability trumps all and people are essentially tested into leadership and other special positions.

The book focuses on two characters:

Annie: she was a serf in the old regime and her parents were murdered (death by dragon fire) by one of the old higher-ups. Something we’re introduced to early on is Annie’s anxiety. That was a cool element and I enjoyed watching it develop over the book.

Lee: his father was that higher-up who murdered Annie’s parents. So he was born to great privilege, but then his whole family was murdered, no one in the new regime knows who he is, and he’s trying to figure out life under this new regime.

What I loved about the book was Lee’s struggle. You read some of his earlier chapters where he’s such an entitled asshole who clearly believes he’s special because of who he is, and other people are just born lesser. As he grows up, he struggles with the realization that actually his family had done some horrible things, but he’s torn between his love for his family and acknowledging that actually they were kind of monsters. But then there’s also the wonder if the new regime is actually better than the old one after all.

Then of course there’s dragon riding! This part of the book wasn’t really what I expected, though I ended up liking it. I didn’t feel like the dragons and their riders had a very deep bond. In fact, the dragons weren’t even referenced that much. I expected a deep personal bond/connection (think like Eragon), but that didn’t really happen. Instead, the dragons are depicted more like weapons. They’re almost like nuclear weapons in that when you have dragons, your country suddenly becomes a big threat. If your country doesn’t have dragons then you’re overlooked and not considered a big threat.

Overall I thought this was a super interesting book! It gives you a lot to think about.

The Bridge Kingdom

The Bridge KingdomThe Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Bridge Kingdom #1
Published by: Context Literary Agency on August 13, 2019
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 354
Source: Purchased
Book Details
Rating: ★★★★★

What if you fell in love with the one person you'd sworn to destroy?

Lara has only one thought for her husband on their wedding day: I will bring your kingdom to its knees. A princess trained from childhood to be a lethal spy, Lara knows that the Bridge Kingdom represents both legendary evil - and legendary promise. The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom controls all trade and travel between lands, allowing its ruler to enrich himself and deprive his enemies, including Lara's homeland. So when she is sent as a bride under the guise of fulfilling a treaty of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture the defenses of the impenetrable Bridge Kingdom.

But as she infiltrates her new home - a lush paradise surrounded by tempest seas - and comes to know her new husband, Aren, Lara begins to question where the true evil resides. Around her, she sees a kingdom fighting for survival, and in Aren, a man fiercely protective of his people. As her mission drives her to deeper understanding of the fight to possess the bridge, Lara finds the simmering attraction between her and Aren impossible to ignore.

Her goal nearly within reach, Lara will have to decide her own fate: Will she be the destroyer of a king or the savior of her people?

Girl is trained to be a deadly assassin, starts her mission, but then ends up falling for the guy she’s supposed to betray??? Yes please!

The Bridge Kingdom was phenomenal! I loved the interesting concept of The Bridge, what it took to defend it, the secrecy, etc.

I really wish this book had a map. It talked a lot about the different countries and travel between them, but it was a little hard for me to visualize. I think a map would have gone a long way to helping me better track the comings and goings and overall have a better understanding of the world.

My one gripe with this book was with the big conflict/turning point near the end was the result of the main character just being really, really stupid. That just annoyed me because it was so avoidable.

However, other than that, The Bridge Kingdom really had me hooked. It was a super quick read because every page was interesting. I also do love how things were left at the end (after the annoying bit) and I’m really eager for book two!

I’m actually really pleased I gave The Bridge Kingdom a chance because I actually didn’t finish one of her other books, Stolen Songbird. But I loved this one so much that now I’m considering reading Dark Shores — have you read that? Let me know!

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I'm a 30-something California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

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