The children of dragons and humans, the dracons, control eighty percent of the world's governments. Humans worldwide are either subservient or prey. On the small vacation island of Mabi, humans call for war.
Sixteen year old Dakota Kekoa lives a double life. By day, she pretends to be a human to infiltrate Mabi Academy, a 'humans only' high-school. At night, she works as a henchman for her draconic mafia family, utilizing her ability to steal and manipulate emotions.
When Dakota's human friend is kidnapped, she takes on the mission to find her. This is not just any mission though; she is diving head first into the escalating conflict between humans and dracons. As more girls disappear and some are discovered dead, Dakota realizes her first honorable mission may also be her last.
©2015 Rita Stradling (P)2016 Rita Stradling and Sorrel Brigman
A fast paced, captivating story set in a very unique world. Dragons have broken through from their fire realm and bred with humans to create Dracons, who have various magical aspects and now rule most of the world, but conflict with the humans is about to erupt. The strong female lead, Dekota, is easy to connect with and the authors writing and great narration allows you to feel her struggles, sorrows, fears and heart. She is willing to fight to protect those she cares for and her unique ability with souls adds a interesting aspect to the story. In some ways she is somewhat of an anti-hero as she works as an enforcer for her "crime lord" Grandfather, spying and manipulating souls but you still cannot help but like and empathize with her. Wyvern, the half-dragon male protagonists, is somewhat of a controlling jerk, but them again he is not human. His character grows on you as the book progresses and I found myself routing for him at the end of the book. While his attitudes and actions are ultra domineering, he still accepts and listens when Dekota takes a stance (even though this is in opposition to Dragon ways.) While a love triangle does exist in this book it does not overwhelm the plot but rather it adds to the intrigue. I enjoyed all the characters in this story, many of which had novel and unexpected aspects and the narration fit well with their personalities and enhanced the overall story. This well written and narrated book has many twists in the plot that keeps you turning the pages. I will look forward to the continuation of the story in the next book. I received this audiobook from the author in exchange for an honest review
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Henchgirl by Rita Stradling is the first young adult fantasy novel in the series called Dakota Kekoa. It features 16-year-old Dakota Kekoa as she navigates the politics of the dragon, dragon-blooded human or Dracon, and human communities. While only 16, Dakota, a Dracon, has been working undercover for her grandfather, a powerful Dracon and businessman, to infiltrate the human community by pretending to be a human student at a high school. The rest of the time, she uses her Dracon-given powers to manipulate the emotions of her grandfather’s enemies to bend them to his will. In addition to these responsibilities, Dakota assumes the responsibility of both providing for her wayward, human mother and sisters as well as keeping their need for support a secret from her Dracon grandfather. The relationship between the Dracon and Human communities is a tense alliance that Dakota must further test when her Human friend goes missing.
I really enjoyed this novel. The world building surrounding the interface of the Dracon society with the Human society and the interweaving relationships of all the characters are quite complex. Living at the interface of the two communities, Dakota’s position is especially unique. As a Dracon female with a certain amount of dragon blood, she could be trained to become a good Dracon wife. However, as soldier for her grandfather’s and family’s interests, she is able to avoid this. But the fact that Dakota could be facing that fate, especially if she falls in love with a Dracon, makes the romance in the novel particularly complex. There were aspect of the romance that I didn’t like, and I hope Dakota is more convincingly able to take a stand for herself as the story continues into the sequel. The concept and explanation of the dragon culture were interesting as was the existence of the Dracon with their unique powers. Dakota’s power of soul manipulation was especially fascinating. I wasn’t completely convinced by the mechanics of Dakota’s power and how it related to the soul. I think there could have been more nuance to the power, but I liked how it used. I liked all of the characters and their interactions with each other. The plot building was also pretty good. I was surprised by the end and the storyline was dynamic and exciting. I would definitely recommend this novel.
The narration by Sorrel Brigman was good as well. The voicing of each of the characters was distinct so it was really easy to tell the characters apart. This was especially important because there are so many characters to keep track of. But the narration made it easy. The production quality was good as well. I would recommend this novel to anyone who likes young adult fantasy novels, especially those with dragons.
Audiobook was provided for review by the author.
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Books give a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything. - Plato
I was not too sure about the plot when I read the description but I'm so glad I gave it a shot! It is so much better than I expected it. I had a really hard time putting it down.
The book was amazing. The world Rita Stradling created was different than anything I have read. A world dominated by Dragons where humans were the minority is very unique.
Dakota is a dragon descendent called a dracon. She works for her Grandfather and is on a mission to get information for her grandfather. She has been working undercover for several years pretending to be a human.
Wyvern, powerful half dragon, annoyed me for part of the book but I was weak like Dakota and fell for his charm. Although his culture is different than human culture and man are more domineering, he listens to Dakota and pays attention to her wishes and interests. He grew on me big time!
The story has some twists and turns. It is really engaging all the way to the end. I can hardly wait to read the next book!!!
Sorrel Brigman did a great job narrating this book. A 5 star rating all the way around.
This audible book was provided by the author at no cost for an unbiased review.
I didn't expect to enjoy this as much as I ended up enjoying it. I had a few niggles but overall i really liked it. I'm going to break this review down into likes and dislikes, so let's get the negative out of the way first, bear in mind, these were only minor annoyances!
Love Triangle..... Need I say more! I hate them, and unfortunately this has a one at the start. I'm gad that it wasn't played out through the whole book, but even so!!
Wyveryn and his possessiveness. My god, he was outrageous, and even though the author explained why he was like that, I really thought it sent a negative message.
Lastly, I was a little surprised that this had so much romance in it! I thought it would focus on the action and plot a little more, but it is heavy on the romance.
I really liked Dakota! She was fun, sassy and able to handle herself.
I liked her extended family. Some of them were awesome and I hope we see more of them in the future.
I loved the world and the word building! The lore of the Dracons was fascinating and engaging. It's explained really well and I loved learning about them.
The writing style was another positive. The whole book is well written and developed. (despite my little niggles ;) ) The author gives enough information and doesn't dump a lot on us at any one time.
The characters, some of them were fascinating, Like Dakotas' Grandad and Wyveryns dad, even Wyveryn himself.
The different species of fantastical beings! Vamps, Werewolves etc!!!
The pace of the plot. The pacing was steady and kept my interest throughout.
In all, this was a thoroughly entertaining read. I was hooked right from the start and despite my annoyances, I still enjoyed this and look forward to more. It's one I can really recommend and encourage people to listen to/read.
Now onto the narrator. Sorrel Brigman did an OK job with it. She had trouble pronouncing certain words and her cadence was a little up and down at times. She also needed to ramp up the tension a bit, I think anyway. I found myself wandering during what were exciting times in the book, and having to go back and listen again. I didn't find her exceptional and because this is such a long book, you need someone who captures your attention, and holds it!
I am a fun loving mom that enjoys a great Book!! I'm happy to have Audible with a busy life it makes it so easy to still get lost in a book!
ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!! this book is a very different but DIFFERENT IN AN AMAZING WAY!! I LOVE IT!! I'M HOOKED! IT'S DEFINITELY ONE I'LL READ MORE THEN ONCE!!
Henchgirl offers a nice surprise. It's a mix of standard YA tropes re-packaged into a fun, readable, engaging volume that isn't afraid to allow its characters to struggle, grow, and change. Perfect for young readers
This book came to me at exactly the right moment. This is a fast paced, imaginative world full of so many great characters. There are times in your life when you just need something to sweep you off your feet and this did that for me. I truly got pulled into Dakota's world and have felt a little book drunk ever since. This book didn't take the turns that I thought it would. And I would also say it's not the same throw up of some paranormal darkness that we're all used to. This one is uniquely different. Thank. You. God. I'm so tired of the same paranormal plot done over and over again with the same characters. Okay, I'll get off this soggy soap box now. Anyway, I really felt captivated by this read. It pulled me and gave me a new take on dragon-blooded humans. I could tell the author had done her homework and researched this greatly. A wonderful start to a great series. I recommend.
And the narrator also did a fantastic job. She told the story instead of getting in its way. She did a fantastic job with the characters. You'll enjoy.
A YA Contemporary Fantasy Mystery with an interesting take on the source of supernatural creatures
Source: I received this book free in return for an honest review.
Henchgirl by Rita Stradling, read by Sorrel Brigman, published independently (2016) / Length: 13:08
This is Book #1 in the Dakota Kekoa series. According to the author Book #2, Rex “will be coming out January 3rd 2017. And, yes there is an audio version planned.”
Again, characters that I like lift this a bit above it’s YA PNR fellows. It should be noted that the majority of the characters in this are among the group that should be considered “the bad guys.” I was willing to overlook it in this one, since I would like to see where this going. I think many of the characters could be “good guys” if things were to change.
It has a love triangle, which I never like. I also had issues with both of the “relationships” that form this love triangle, since neither were open & honest.
There are also secrets kept (unnecessarily in my opinion) that make Dakota’s life much more difficult that should be, which is current one of my biggest pet peeves.
All this doesn't mean I didn't like it. I enjoyed reading it and I am waiting for the sequel to see if romance works out satisfactorily.
Dakota: A fairly typical YA heroine - has to take care of her family, since her parents are rubbish (a Briticism that I love); wants to be more than her gender would normally allow, and thus ignores “girl things” that she probably shouldn’t; has a crush on the popular boy; and is a bit of a speshual snowflake (thankfully not too much). As to her relationships, she is going to need to decide what she wants and make it happen. I don’t like coyness and game playing.
Keanu: He is “off screen” for large portions of the book, but from the beginning seems to be a non-jerk popular boy, as well as brave and protective. As things go along, his actions become more suspect though.
Wyvern: I had some issues with him that had nothing to do with the jerkish way he acted at first. Most specifically, his using her ignorance against her (and thinking he would get a positive response) and the fact that he never listened to her or respected her boundaries unless it suited him. Even if he is just acting according to his nature and station, that doesn’t mean Dakota should have to put up with it. I think there are the seeds of something good there though.
Dakota & Keanu: There are some not so cool things in this relationship (on both sides), but I don’t want to spoil them.
Dakota & Wyvern: Their relationship is currently mostly attraction based on her part. I'm not sure why he likes her (not that she's unlikable, it just isn't made clear), but I do think it is something more than she fears. However, if they can work this out in the future, it might turn into something I could root for.
Others: Mele should win BFF of the year. From their first meeting, to the attack, to the very end, I loved her. / Dakota’s uncle Bobby is great, as are her sisters
The book takes place on a Polynesian style tropical isle (if it correlates to specific real world island, I missed that part). In addition to the the conflict between the dracons, infected, and humans, there is also some prejudice between native and non-native humans.
The "infected" are the supernatural creatures of the world: vampires, werewolves, witches, etc. And they got that way through exposure to dragon blood. I am hoping that in the next book we get more information on how dragon blood infections work.
It begins with a prologue that sets up how the world got to be this way, which I always appreciate; I hate feeling lost. / It unexpectedly turns into a mystery part way through, and I think I would like to see a mystery series with Dakota. / There is a complete ending to the main story line, but no resolution to the romance or the overall societal problems.
HIGHLIGHTS / CAUTIONS:
Mele: Most of what I would like to share about her would be a spoiler. Their friendship began though when Dakota was invited to a party where the host intended to humiliate her and Mele turned it around.
My favorite scene is probably when Dakota and Wyvern first really connect, from the time they arrive at Keanu's house until they separate. For some reason, that is the scene that makes me have hope for them as a possible couple.
I also liked when Wyvern was talking with her sister after he screwed up big time (although I don't like the "accidentally overhear something about yourself" trope).
I COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT: Mele’s smoking habit (which Dakota critiques) / Some swearing / Too much drinking (and not just the alcoholic mother)
OTHER CAUTIONS : There are indications that Mele had at least one previous intimate encounter. / The full dragons go around impregnating women, even though they know it will probably kill them. / The dracons (part-blood dragons) aren’t much into committed relationships either.
Overall, I didn’t love it. It was bit over enunciated and the voices weren’t great. It was also slightly slow, even on my usual 1.25 speed. However, it was acceptable and wouldn’t keep me from listening again.
Sorrel Brigman is by far NOT the worst narrator I've ever heard, however if you are peevish about narration i would suggest listening to the sample. If not that then I recommend reading what other listeners have said about it. The cadence was a bit off but not the worst ever...some words weren't pronounced correctly...again not worst but at least you know.
I actually liked the story.
This book just didn't do it for me. I couldn't get past the terrible narrator voice. I think there could have been a better fit than the voice they used. I couldn't get in to the story, which also could have been a bit of the way the story was written. I just didn't care for this book at all!
I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator in exchange for an unbiased review via Audiobook Blast.
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