We are SO excited to be part of one of the first tours from TBR and Beyond Tours. This company was founded by some of our besties over at the TBR and Beyond Facebook group, which is over 5,500 people strong and one of my favorite spots on the Internet. Both Haley and I have been moderators there in the past and we are just so excited to be a part of this new venture! We are one of the first stops on the tour, so definitely check out all the fun posts coming up this week over on their blog. Stick with us through the end, because there’s a fun giveaway for a copy of the book (US Only)!Shielded (Shielded, #1) by KayLynn Flanders
Published by Delacorte Press on July 21, 2020
For fans of Sorcery of Thorns and Furyborn comes a thrilling new fantasy about a kingdom ravaged by war, and the princess who might be the key to saving not only those closest to her, but the kingdom itself, if she reveals the very secret that could destroy her.
The kingdom of Hálendi is in trouble. It's losing the war at its borders, and rumors of a new, deadlier threat on the horizon have surfaced. Princess Jennesara knows her skills on the battlefield would make her an asset and wants to help, but her father has other plans.
As the second-born heir to the throne, Jenna lacks the firstborn's--her brother's--magical abilities, so the king promises her hand in marriage to the prince of neighboring Turia in exchange for resources Hálendi needs. Jenna must leave behind everything she has ever known if she is to give her people a chance at peace.
Only, on the journey to reach her betrothed and new home, the royal caravan is ambushed, and Jenna realizes the rumors were wrong--the new threat is worse than anyone imagined. Now Jenna must decide if revealing a dangerous secret is worth the cost before it's too late--for her and for her entire kingdom.
I was excited about this book the moment I saw the cover, and luckily I was not disappointed! Honestly, I thought it was hard to believe that this was Flanders’ debut — it was overall very well crafted and a pleasure to read.
The best part of this book, hands down, is the lead character, Princess Jennesara. She’s strong, physically and emotionally, smart, and loves her family and her country deeply. And she sometimes makes the wrong choices, because she’s a young girl leaving her home country for the first time. But all of it felt completely true to her character and I was right there with her the whole way. She was multi-dimensional in a fun way and I just loved reading about her.
This book was overall fast paced, particularly around the beginning and end of the novel. There was good world-building and a lot of great battle scenes that were written just perfectly to keep me hooked. I was left wanting more in some areas — so hopefully there is more to come!
I also really enjoyed the romance in this novel. I’ve seen some reviews say it felt a bit too insta-love for them, but for me it felt more like an instant attraction that eventually deepened into more — you know, just the way it often happens in real life! I wasn’t turned off at all by that instant attraction, and I really loved Enzo as a love interest. He’s smart and kind and a great match for the strong-willed Jennesara.
If I had to have a single complaint, it’s that the book dragged for me just a bit in the middle. I think it’s a personal problem, to be honest, on a couple of counts. First, since all this insanity started happening in the world, I’ve been in a major book slump, so it’s hard for anything to hold my attention for long. Second, I don’t usually love book plots that are centered around one person lying to the other person, and particularly around the middle of this novel, that became a big deal. That all being said, I actually understood the reason that Jennesara was lying to Enzo, so I didn’t begrudge it too much. It felt believable to me, so I was more ok with it than I might otherwise have been.
That said, I give this a whole-hearted four-star rating. If you love YA Fantasy, you absolutely should check this one out!
KayLynn Flanders has a degree in English Language and editing, and has been a freelance editor and book designer for over twelve years. Her debut novel, a YA fantasy, will be published by Delacorte Press (Penguin Random House) July 21, 2020. KayLynn and her family live in Utah between some mountains and a lake, and she is directionally challenged without them. She loves reading, writing, traveling, and volleyball, and thinks there’s nothing better than a spur-of-the-moment road trip.