Tag Archive | Fantasy

REVIEW: Richelle Mead’s The Dark Swan: Storm Born

Richelle Mead's The Dark Swan: Storm Born Book Cover Richelle Mead's The Dark Swan: Storm Born
Dark Swan Comic
Richelle Mead
Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Sea Lion Books
October 2011
Hardcover
120
Blog Giveaway Win
Grant Alter
Dave Haman, Adam Markiewicz
Beat The Backlist, Flights of Fantasy
April 9-12, 2017

Eugenie Markham never asked for any of this. Until now, she's been content with her job as a freelance shaman, battling and banishing Otherworldly creatures. When a prophecy suddenly makes her the Otherworld's most popular bachelorette, Eugenie finds herself fighting off unwanted supernatural suitors, as well as the evils that begin emerging from her past...

My Review

It’s no secret that I don’t care much for comic books or graphic novels. Some people love them, I don’t. For me, they’re graphically over stimulating and lack the details of a novel. They’re just too quick. You don’t get to really experience the depth of the characters emotions like you do in a full novel.

That said, while all of the above is true, Dark Swan was a good “cliff notes” introduction to the Dark Swan series by my favorite author, Richelle Mead. I’ve read 99% of her teen books, but I’m slowly working my way through her backlist.

The dialogue in this graphic novel was funny, and while the illustrations are mostly overstimulating for me, they were nicely done. The sex scene was tasteful and not pornographic, which was good, since I was reading it at work!

I think people who LIKE paranormal romance novels AND graphic novels might enjoy this graphic novel. I mean, the main character is a shaman. She has to travel to the Otherworld to rescue a girl who was kidnapped by faeries. It has a lot going for it. I actually bought the full series “box set” on my Kindle a month or so ago when it went on sale, so I’ll hopefully be reading and reviewing that soon. You know, if I can get through my NetGalley backlist. (Seriously, someone needs to take the mouse away from me when I get to that site! Do NOT let me request any more books!)

So, yeah. Graphic novel and PNR fans, check this out. If you prefer more depth to your stories like I do, check out the full novel series.

 

REVIEW: The Waking Land by Callie Bates

The Waking Land by Callie Bates

Read: June 25-27, 2017

Format: ARC Ebook

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Random House, Del Rey Books

Release Date: June 27, 2017

Genre: YA / NA Fantasy

Pages: 400

Reading Challenge(s): Flights of Fantasy

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

In the lush and magical tradition of Naomi Novik’s award-winning Uprooted comes this riveting debut from brilliant young writer Callie Bates—whose boundless imagination places her among the finest authors of fantasy fiction, including Sarah J. Maas and Sabaa Tahir.

Lady Elanna is fiercely devoted to the king who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder—and must flee for her life.

Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition—powers that suddenly stir within her.

But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

First of all, can we look at this cover? How cool is this cover! And it’s entirely appropriate for this book. Like, I can’t think of any cooler cover for this book. It perfectly sums up the story and the character Elanna.

So, as far as I can tell this is a stand alone fantasy novel. It’s billed as YA, but it’s really more upper YA into NA due to one steamy scene. I hope this becomes a series though, because I was blown away. I’m just not sure what is left of the story to tell… but I’d still read it!

This world and magic system is so cool. Basically, El lives in a country where magic is outlawed. If someone is suspected of magic, the Witch Hunters are called, and it’s a death sentence. So El doesn’t tell anyone that plants come alive around her – one touch of her finger and she can make them grow. She has big plans of going off for further training to be a botanist. Of course, the king might have other plans, like an arranged marriage.

No worries about that whole arranged marriage by the king thing though, because the king is murdered. Oh, and El is one of the prime suspects. And aside from taking her away from her parents and homeland at five years old to become a political prisoner—due to her father leading a rebellion, she actually kind of liked the guy. So begins her tale. She goes through a lot of changes of heart in this book, starting with not wanting anything to do with her parents. Not wanting to accept her magic. Wanting things to stay the same for her in King Antoine’s court.

El’s journey is a long one. Like, this book could have been broken into like, at least a trilogy, but it wasn’t, and I’m glad the author chose to keep it as one book. It meant no wait time to finish this journey!

The magic in this book is so cool. The land is literally alive and that power lives inside Elanna. There’s a lot of talk of the ancestors and ancient magics and so on. I loved it.

The romance? I don’t know if I was just in the mood for this kind of romance or what, but I immediately fell under Jahan’s charms. His personality was just so… charming! And he’s got secrets of his own. He was very easy going and had a nice sense of humor.

This review does this book no justice. Seriously, none. I can’t even describe all the feels. I can say this though, I did not want to put this book down. Most times I have my specific reading times and I stick to them. With this book? That went out the window. I read and read, and then I read some more. Until I’d devoured this entire thing in 3 days time—which is pretty quick for me for a book this long.

So, long story short: fans of YA fantasy tales with really cool and unique magic systems and a swoon worthy love interest will enjoy this story.


Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

 

It’s been fourteen years, last night. Fourteen year since King Antoine took me hostage; fourteen years since I’ve seen or heard from my parents.

 

I’m supposed to be safe here, safe to taunt myself with a magic I am not supposed to possess. A magic I still don’t understand.

 

I have no power but the king’s mercurial affection, which would vanish as soon as anyone named me a witch.

 

For a moment, I forget to be afraid. I just want to listen. I want to understand what the plants are saying.

 

“Jahan what?” I demand. “And I’ll thank you to state your intentions as well!”

A snort escapes him: He’s definitely trying not to laugh. “Jahan Korakides, at your service, demoiselle. I swear to you, my intentions are nothing but honorable.”

“Indeed?” I say. “A man takes a woman—by magic—and knocks her senseless, and she comes to on a horse in the middle of the night, and she’s supposed to assume his intentions are honorable?”

 

But I won’t use my magic to help them. It’s too dangerous, and it gives others ideas. It makes them think I might be what they want me to be.

 

“But you never came for me,” I say. “You left me there. You left me—”

“No,” she says fiercely. “I was always with you. Every day. Every moment. I am your mother, and I was with you.”

 

There’s a story in which Wildegarde makes an entire forest grow overnight; the next morning, the trees rip their roots from the ground and walk.

 

“…The Ereni had to fight their way through shifting forests and hills; they drowned in streams that appeared out of nowhere and valleys that seemed never to end. So by the time they reached Barrony, they wanted more than conquest. They were half mad. They wanted blood.”

 

The earth knew what I wanted. It did as I asked.

 

“So you trust me now?” His breath touches my face; his fingertips linger on my neck.

“Maybe,” I say with a laugh that catches in my throat.

 

REVIEW: Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

Series: Book #1

Read: May 9-11, 2017

Format: E-ARC (NetGalley)

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Release Date: May 30, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 352

Reading Challenge(s): Flights of Fantasy, 2017 YA

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.

At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.

Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.

Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.

The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey . . .


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

 I honestly wasn’t sure if I even wanted to read this book when I requested it from NetGalley. I’ve read quite a few YA fantasies in the past year or so and they sort of start to blur in my head. This book though? I’m so glad I read it!

Royal Bastards was a unique fantasy read for me. The dialogue is often very contemporary and comical – which I love. The overall feel is like a watered down Game of Thrones—but without the dragons, and significantly less pages.

I love that this book really emphasizes the gray areas — as in, the world isn’t just black and white, good and evil. Tilla and Jax have a conversation about whether they’re doing the “right thing” by betraying their land and their people, and what it boils down to is, there is no right thing.

I loved the characters in this book.

Tilla is the bastard daughter of the Lord of Kent, his firstborn. She spends most of her time with her stablehand half brother, Jax (same mother, different father). She’s often crass and unladylike—especially in her internal dialogue—but secretly wishes to be legitimized and fully accepted by her father.

Jax is a stablehand, built like an ox, and quite the ladies man. He’s full of inappropriate things to say. He’s loyal and funny and charming. It’s hard not to love him.

Lyriana is the princess and though at first she comes across as very boring, prim, and proper, as she begins this adventure with her newfound friends, we realize very quickly that there is much more to her than meets the eye.

Zell is a “barbaric” warrior from a land not ruled by Lyriana’s kingdom. He’s incredibly sexy, tough, and though he’s everything she shouldn’t want, Tilla finds herself trying to prove herself to him. I have a little book crush on Zell.

Miles is a wussy pain in the ass. He’s a book nerd, but not in a cool way. He’s kind of annoying, but begins to get better. He’s also completely hung up on Tilla, even though she wants nothing to do with him.

There’s danger everywhere.

Some authors are afraid to put their characters in any real mortal peril. That’s so not the case here. There were a few times where I seriously worried that someone would die. There are creepy gross monster bug things, too.

Another cool thing this book does is represent diversity. Lyriana is described as having dark skin and hair, while I believe Tilla and Jax are described as more fair. I remember, as I read her description, being pleasantly surprised that the author decided to make the ruling people dark skinned. Such a nice change from the traditional choice of making dark skinned people either slaves or evil! I imagine the Zitochi (Zell’s people) as ancient Asian warriors, like Ghengis Khan. I could be completely off base with that though. I don’t always remember exactly how characters are described and instead come up with my own visualizations in my head.

The pacing of this book was excellent. There were no dull points in the plot and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.

There’s also a really cool magic system that has its own twists in the story as well.

And finally, THE FEELS.

That’s right, this book had me full of feels. I was rooting for some things to happen, almost in tears over other things that happened. A book that makes me feel and/or really think like this one did, is a book that’s going to STAY with me.


So, should you read this?
YES. A loud and resounding yes. At this point in time, this is my top read of 2017 so far. I may even go out and actually purchase a hard copy to have on my shelf to re-read in the future and to have my daughters read (when they’re old enough – this is definitely an upper YA book with the language, violence, and insinuated—not graphic in the least—sexual content.)


Royal Bastards is on sale May 30, 2017, but you can preorder at the following sites:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 


QUOTES

(NOTE: Quotes are from an advanced release copy of the book and MAY be changed in the final printing.)

(NOTE 2: There are a lot of quotes here. This book is SO quotable, I couldn’t trim my favorites down anymore!)

 

“I was…um…” I scrambled for a plausible excuse. Bathing? I was too dry. Riding? I was too clean. Studying? No one would ever believe that.


You know that awkward silence where someone has committed a horrible social blunder, but no one knows how to react, so everyone is just staring at their feet? Imagine that, but in a hall with two hundred people.


The message was clear. Bow to the King or die by the Ring.


Lyriana Volaris, Princess of Noveris, was genuinely excited to sit with a bunch of bastards. That was just about the craziest thing I could thing of, on a day that was already feeling pretty crazy.


Jay shrugged. “I mean, Whitesand Beach is the perfect place to bring a girl if you’re looking to get laid.” Lyriana gasped. “Or…so I’ve heard some guys say. I, uh, wouldn’t know anything about that.”

I let out an amused snort. Zell just shook his head.


“Jax,” I said softly, “I’m so sorry…”

He glanced at me, one eyebrow cocked, the same sweet, goofy brother I’d loved my whole life. “Shut your face, sis,” he said, and walked off toward the outcropping.


I hadn’t paid much attention to my etiquette lessons, but I was pretty sure there wasn’t a standard expression for Sorry my dad killed your uncle.


I blinked. “You don’t know how to put on pants.”

“I’ve never had to. No woman in Lightspire would!”

Jax snorted.


Training with Zell that day consisted of him honing my reflexes by having me attempt to catch rocks. Mostly I just got hit with rocks.


With a particularly mushy smack, the orifice in the center of the starling’s head puckered open, drooling a yellowish gunk that sizzled against the stone. Four spindly tendrils shot out.


Holy shit. We’d been so focused on our disguises and backstories, we’d completely forgotten about money. We had to be the dumbest fugitives who’d ever lived.


My mind had been resisting what my body had wanted, but I’d been through way too much hell to give it that power anymore. He held me close and I pressed in closer, and damn if this didn’t just feel so, so right.


“Holy frozen hell,” Jax said. What happened to you guys?”


I was starting to think that Miles’s mom was a huge bitch, but that wasn’t really the point.


Mile’s face had never looked more punchable.


Was he hitting on me? That would be weird, right?

 

 

REVIEW: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

Wow. Time got away from me. I’ve had this book read and reviewed for months, waiting to be posted. And then life happened and before I knew it, this release day had come and gone!

Well, better late than never, right?


The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

Series: The Bone Witch #1

Read: January 8-15, 2017

Format: E-ARC (NetGalley)

My Book Rating: 3.5 Stars

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: March 7, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 400

Challenges: 2017 YA, Flights of Fantasy 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Oh Bone Witch, where do I start? Where do I start….

I expected this book to be about a young woman who discovers her powers as a necromancer after accidentally raising her newly dead brother from his grave. I expected her to go on and learn to use her powers and have adventures along the way.

What I got was a book about geisha training.

Seriously. At least half of this book described all the lessons our heroine, Tea, had to endure on her road to becoming an Asha. (Asha = Geisha. They even sound similar.) During this large portion of the book very little happens. I wish I was kidding.

If I wanted to read a book about geisha’s, I would have read a book about geishas.

Now, all that said, there were a lot of good things about this book. You just have to wade through the boring geisha—sorry, Asha—lessons to get there.

For starters, this book is dual POV in a very unconventional way. We start with a nameless bard finding Tea on a seashore full of bones. He convinces her to tell the story of how she came to be there. The other POV is Tea, the Bone Witch on the beach, telling the bard the story of how she came to be there. So, that was cool.

I also really liked the lore in the book. I liked the idea of the False Prince and his Daeva (monsters that never truly die). I liked the magic and powers. I thought all that was developed nicely… it was just overshadowed by too much geisha-Asha mumbo-jumbo.

On the other hand, the “big twist” near the ending sort of came out of nowhere. There really wasn’t any direct build up for it and it took me a moment to figure out what the heck was really going on. There were clues throughout the story, but they read more like backstory than anything that was actually relevant. It was…. strange.

I also had a hard time connecting to any of the characters. The servant girls at the Asha house were pretty interchangeable in my head. I couldn’t tell you the name of most of the other characters either.

The very end of the book leads me to believe there may be a promising sequel. If the author can cut down on the training and get to the action, I think it could be a good book.

So, should you read it? If you are looking for a good dose of magic and action and adventure you will be sorely disappointed. If you are looking for an interesting and unique world and can look past long periods of nothing happening while our heroine goes through training, then you might just like this one. Oh, and if you’re really into geisha you’ll probably love it!



Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

Had I known the color of my heartsglass sooner, I might have been better prepared.

They said bone witches gave sleeping sicknesses to innocent princesses with the prick of a finger, and they said bone witches ate the hearts of children who strayed too far into forests.

Asha means two things in old Runic. The first is ‘truth’; the second, ‘spellbinder.’ That is what we must do—we bind the magic and force it to do as we command.

“You knew; still you were affected by the charms I wear. Now imagine the subtlety it can wreak on an unsuspecting world.”

I was trapped between two minds, and at that moment, I was a part of the creature just as it was a part of me.

“If there is one thing I have learned from both our trades, it is that we must always be in the business of forgiveness, lest we become consumed by our anger.”

REVIEW: Pan by K. R. Thompson

Pan by K. R. Thompson

Series: The Untold Stories of Neverland #1

Read: February 2017

Format: Kindle

My Book Rating: 3 Stars

Publisher: Magic Quill Press

Release Date: August 10, 2015

Genre: Fantasy, Retelling

Pages: 103

Reading Challenge(s): 2017 YA, Retellings 2017, Beat The Backlist 2017, TBR 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Neverland has always been their sanctuary—until now.

Magic is dying in Neverland—and so are the pixies. Only one is brave enough to search the human world for someone to believe. Tink finds a desolate boy flying in the night, peering in windows, searching for the life he once knew. But can she convince him to abandon his quest and save Neverland?

Discover the untold story of the boy destined to become Peter Pan.


REVIEW

A while back I had an idea for a story I wanted to tell and as this story tossed and turned in my brain I realized it might make a good Peter Pan retelling. But then I remembered I’ve never read Peter Pan, and I’ve only read one story based on it. So I went on a downloading binge, snagging every free fairy tale and Peter Pan related book I could find on Amazon. I promptly forgot about them, and there they sat on my Kindle, until I was motivated to read them by the retelling and backlist challenges I recently signed up for. (Two birds with one stone!)

This particular book, while well written, didn’t really capture my full attention. I actually mostly had my Kindle read it to my 5 year old daughter and me over the course of a few days while we ate lunch. The whole of the book was broken into smaller stories. The first is the tale of how Peter Pan came to meet Tinkerbell and find his way to Neverland. Another is Peter finding the Lost Boys and bringing them to Neverland as well. There’s interesting bits about the fairy’s and why Tink brought Peter. The Nyad’s were interesting as well and I think I’d like to read more about them. As a whole though, I didn’t connect to the characters. I never really cared what happened to them. I’m blaming that on the length of each of these small stories and would assume that the full length novels would have better character development. As of right now I would not pay to read the first full length book, but should it become free I would give it a chance and if I liked it, perhaps go on to purchase the others in the series.

As for my initial quest which led to me downloading this book? I’ve got some fresh inspiration tossing around in my head now, so mission somewhat accomplished.


Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

 

The pixies in Neverland were dying, and without someone to believe in them, Neverland would soon cease to exist.

 

The crocodile was the only one who hadn’t tired of his games, the only one who returned the attention given to him, and was the only one who seemed worthy of the adventure Peter sought.

 

She would listen because they were a part of him, such an important part, he would sit for long periods of time and replay the memories in an effort to never forget them.

 

“Then the snow came, just as Mother said it would. I kept thinking I had to be close. If I could go just a bit farther, then I would find them and I could duck inside and be safe. But the snow fell faster, and it got cold… so, so cold…”

 

“It wasn’t life I was offered. It was an existence of death. I couldn’t go home and I couldn’t be a boy anymore.”

REVIEW: Island of Exiles by Erica Cameron

Island of Exiles by Erica Cameron

Series: The Ryogan Chronicles #1

Read: January 17 – 28, 2017

Format: E-ARC (NetGalley)

My Book Rating: 4 Stars

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Release Date: February 14, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 400

Reading Challenge(s): 2017 YA Reading Challenge, Flights of Fantasy 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

In this diverse, gritty survival fantasy, a girl warrior turns against her island clan to find the brother they claim died, uncovering secrets. Perfect for fans of Graceling and Snow Like Ashes.

In Khya’s world, every breath is a battle.

On the isolated desert island of Shiara, dying young is inevitable. The clan comes before self, and protecting her home means Khya is a warrior above all else.

But when following the clan and obeying their leaders could cost her brother his life, Khya’s home becomes a deadly trap. The only person who can help is Tessen, her lifelong rival and the boy who challenges her at every turn. The council she hoped to join has betrayed her, and their secrets, hundreds of years deep, reach around a world she’s never seen.

To save her brother’s life and her island home, her only choice is to trust Tessen, turn against her clan, and go on the run—a betrayal and a death sentence.


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Island of Exiles fits in well with the popular YA titles of current times, but at the same time, it is unique enough to set it apart.

If you look at my reading progress comments on Goodreads you can see that up until halfway through the book I was confused and struggling, but by around 50% I was completely sucked in. This book is worth the struggle in the beginning.

What I had the most trouble with was all of the new vocabulary words in this world that Khya lives in. They have an entire caste system (mostly based on magic) that is easily confusing, plus a few other words that are substitutes for what we would say and honestly, I don’t see the point in the author changing them.

For the longest time while I liked Khya, I didn’t really care about her. I blame this on the above vocabulary issue. It took me a while to really engage. Once I really committed, I discovered I did like her. She is a strong female character and her personal growth throughout the story was wonderful. I loved where her character ended up by the end and I look forward to seeing how she continues to grow and change throughout the series.

I give the author credit for this unique desert world she’s created, as well as the Miriseh people. All very cool, especially once I let go of trying to keep track of the ranks and titles and what it all meant.

A cool thing bout this particular community is that they’re part militia-part hippie commune. Parents don’t raise their kids, they’re all put together and raised together. Blood siblings are rare, and Khya is fortunate enough to have one. Sexuality is also very open and free, everyone is allowed to love whomever they want. Khya has has multiple relationships with her peers, both male and female. In this world, that’s the norm. There are no boundaries on love.

Tessen is my favorite in this book. His undying loyalty to Khya, even when she doesn’t entirely deserve it, is wonderful. I don’t even remember how he was described in the book, but in my head he’s pretty dreamy. Definitely book boyfriend material!

 

SHOULD YOU READ IT? Readers who enjoy unique fantasy worlds that are somewhat similar to our own will probably enjoy this book. The new vocab can be a bit intense, so my advice is to let it all go and just enjoy the story being told, don’t even worry about trying to keep track of the ranks.



Island of Exiles releases February 14, 2017
Get it here!

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 


QUOTES

Animals can be outsmarted. Enemies can be fought. Storms can only be survived.

…on Shiara, death is the one think that’s inevitable.

Heat, dirt, blood, death. Life is made of these things.

“I don’t want to talk,” I warn him. “About anything.”
“That’s fine.” His grin spreads across his face like the first glint of sunrise. “You know I can talk enough for the both of us.”

“You know me.” Tessen’s smile grows, like he knows he’s won this argument. “I’ve always been too curious for my own good.”

There’s at least an inch of space between us, but I can feel him in a way that makes my skin seem sunburned—warm and prickly to the point of painful.

I’ve never allowed myself to have this. I’ve never let myself trust anyone enough to dare let my guard down enough to have this. No one else has pushed past my walls persistently enough to earn this.

 

 

REVIEW: Ever The Hunted by Erin Summerill

Ever The Hunted by Erin Summerill

Series: Clash of Kingdoms #1

Read: Decenver 17-20, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook

My Book Rating: 3 Stars

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Release Date: December 27, 2016

Genre: YA Fantasy

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 Ever The Hunted is the story of Britta, a teenage girl who is shunned by her people due to the fact that her mother was from a country that her kingdom is at war with. A mother killed for being a traitor. When Britta’s father dies, she’s left with absolutely nothing. When desperate times come to desperate measures, she ends up poaching and is caught by the kings guards. And now our story begins…

In exchange for being allowed to live, Britta must help the king’s guards track down her fathers accused killer. Her former friend, Cohen. The boy she was in love with before he left and never came back.

I think the problem with this story for me was too much time spent tracking Cohen. I was just bored. I felt like I was reading military fiction, I just wanted things to get moving. Once she separates from the guards the pacing picked up and so did my interest. The magic introduced in the second half of the book helped too.

In the end I did enjoy this story, I just didn’t love it. I know this is the first in the series and I think the next book will probably pick up as far as pacing so I’m not counting this series out just yet. I will most likely read book two and I look forward to seeing what’s in store next for Britta.



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QUOTES


Each time I lean forward, Leif pulls me back against his chest. If the captain doesn’t hang me, this ride may be torture enough to kill me.

 

I hate the way Cohen makes a mess of my thoughts. Hate that I’m here in these woods, hunting him for murder. Hate the doubts tangling in my mind because they’re meaningless next to the truth in Lord Jamis’s words.

 

My gaze briefly drops to the sweat mark on his shirt and then to his full lips framed by rugged facial hair. The sight does something strange and liquid to my insides.

 

I kept my secret for years, so perhaps this time he can keep his.

 

“Admit I smell just fine, Britt.”

“Get off me.”

“Admit it, or you’ll be smelling me all over you the entire night.”

Honestly, he smells wonderful.

 

“He’s no more a murderer than you are a gentleman.”

 

His ragged exhale hits my bare back, enticing a shiver to dance through me a moment before his fingers connect with my skin and make mincemeat of my thoughts.

 

Suddenly, I feel like I’ve been pretending my entire life. Acting as though I don’t care when people say unkind things to me. Acting like it doesn’t matter that no one wants to be my friend. Acting as if I’m not lonely.

 

Seeds and stars, it should be illegal for him to go shirtless.

 

 

REVIEW: The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine

This review is seriously overdue for my blog. Wow.
Well, consider this promo for the series before the sequel comes out in early 2017!

If you like badass heroines and fairy tales and retellings this one is for you.


 

The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine

Series: A Ravenspire Novel

Read: August 30 – September 6, 2016

Format: Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Scholastic / Balzer + Bray

Release Date: February 16, 2016

Genre: YA Fairy Tale Retelling

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.


REVIEW

I haven’t read many of fairy tale retellings, but those that I have read I’ve loved, and The Shadow Queen is no exception!

In this retelling of Snow White and The Huntsman we follow Princess Lorelai in the role of Snow White. She’s no damsel in distress though, when she fled her wicked stepmother, she took to learning to fight and defend herself.

The huntsman in this story is Prince Kol. He’s from a neighboring kingdom of dragon shifters and desperate to save his kingdom from the invading ogre army. So desperate he’d do anything, including making a deal with the evil queen. A deal that goes very wrong.

I loved the chemistry between Lorelai and Kol. On their own they’re great, both strong and willing to do anything for their people. But together? *Swoon* Their relationship had a few plot twists that kept things from getting boring.

I loved the magic in this book. The incantations were really interesting and the powers Lorelai and Queen Irina possessed were really cool. Especially Irina’s apples! And everything, including the rivers, trees, and earth, having a ‘heart’ for their magic to call upon for assistance. The authors choice to make Kol from a dragon shifter people was also especially awesome and as soon as I read that I knew I’d be hooked on the story.

There was never a dull moment in this book and I was eager to keep reading (or listening to my Kindle read the book aloud to me at work!)

I think those who love fairy tale retellings will appreciate this rendition. It had all of the staples of Snow White—evil witch, runaway princess, magic, apples, handsome prince, huntsman, hearts—but with the authors own unique magic twists. Plus there are dragon people. How cool is that?

Go buy this book now and read it. Seriously.

 Psst! This is also a stand along series – check out the cover below for the next book ‘The Wish Granter’ which releases Feb 2017!



Get The Shadow Queen here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 

 

Preorder the sequel, The Wish Granter, here:

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QUOTES

 

“Mirror, mirror in my hand, show me the state of Eldr’s land.”

“Why does it have to rhyme?” Trudge muttered.

 

Only a miracle would save him now, but miracles didn’t happen in Ravenspire.

Miracle’s didn’t happen, but magic did.

 

He shook his head, trying to think, to remember, but his dragon heart blazed within him, begging for blood and fire.

 

He was fire. His chest burned with every breath, and only the girl’s heart would make it better.

 

“No! I mean…we’ll be fine. We’re just going to talk.”

Gabriel snorted. “That’s what we called it in my day too.”

 

You make me want to break one of your ground rules every time you look at me like this.

 

Did she love him? What would it cost her if she did.

 

“…The strength of my heart is the only thing standing between you and total destruction.”

 

“You don’t go into battle because you’re sure of victory. You go into battle because it’s the right thing to do.”

REVIEW: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Read: December 1 – 6, 2016

Format: ARC ebook

My Book Rating: 3.5 Stars

Publisher: Thomas Dunne / St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: February 7, 2017

Genre: YA/NA Fantasy

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

First – look at this cover. Is this not a stunningly beautiful cover? Wow. I want to frame it and hang it on the wall. I love this cover so much. This cover is the reason I wanted to read this book, well, that and the fact that it’s also about the Goblin King.

Now let’s talk for a moment about the 1986 movie Labyrinth staring the fabulous David Bowie and a young Jennifer Connelly. This book is not at all like the movie, aside from the connection with the Goblin King, the taken sibling, the midnight balls, the oubliette, and those weird hand things. You remember that scene, right? “Up or down?” Anyway, that sounds like a lot in common, but it’s really not. It’s the ideas, but the way they’re weaved in the book is very different from the film.

So, back to the book. First, I believe this is billed as a YA. There is a LOT of sex in a book for teens! I would actually classify this more as a new adult novel, or a YA/NA crossover at best. I would not let my kids read this book until they were 17 at the earliest, and even then if they were mature enough to handle it. As an avid adult YA reader, it was fine for me.

This story takes place in 18th century Bavaria and follows Elisabeth aka Liesl, the 19 year old daughter of an inn keeper. She is the oldest, but unlike her younger sister Kath, she is not beautiful, but plain. She is as talented as her little brother Joseph, if not more, but she is a girl, and therefor her talents have largely gone ignored.

S. Jae-Jones has proven that she has a voice to be heard with this book. The prose is hauntingly beautiful. I felt like I was taking this journey with Liesl/Elisabeth. I felt what she felt, I saw/heard what she did. I fell into this world of music and folklore and got lost. This book made me feel like I knew something about playing the violin, when in actuality I have nothing more than a couple of months piano lessons under my belt.

Despite the beautiful prose, this book dragged for me. At times there were pages and pages of nothing happening. Repetition of Liesl/Elisabeth’s feelings and thoughts. This book is actually broken into sections and within Part I I wondered if anything would actually happen. And then it did. And it was fabulous. Part II was strange. Part III is where things got really weird and Liesl/Elisabeth began to act very out of character. I get that she’s changing on this journey, but it was odd. I didn’t like her much here. By the end, I mostly liked her again. Ultimately, this is the story of Elisabeth finding herself, and I think she succeeds.

I did love how vivid the characters were, even the Goblin King who is so shrouded in mystery, became real. I loved how protective Liesl/Elisabeth was of her siblings, especially her close relationship with Joseph.

I didn’t care much for how Liesl/Elisabeth and the Goblin King treated each other. It was obvious they each had strong feelings for the other, but neither expressed those feelings in a healthy way. It was very uncomfortable.

The end of this book is bittersweet. This is a very dark romance. There is no chance of a truly happy ending, no matter the outcome. I won’t tell you what happens, but I feel like the author ended this with the best possible outcome. And with a sequel due out in 2018, I wonder where that will lead us. And I wonder if it will be as many pages!

So, would I recommend this book? Eh…. It depends. This book is very long-winded, but the prose is utterly beautiful. If you like quick paced books, skip this one. If you don’t mind a book to take its sweet time getting from point A to point B, then you may enjoy this one.

Walking away from this book I really am conflicted. I’m still thinking about it two weeks later, which is something all authors want for their book! And if not for

the extremely slow pacing at times, I think I would have rated this book much higher. I’m curious to see what my friends think of this book, if any of them read it.
 


 
Wintersong releases February 7, 2017
Preorder Wintersong here

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QUOTES

 

Will you mary me, Elisabeth? The little boy asked, and the little girl did not yet understand his question was not part of a game.

 

Time—like memory—was just another one of the Goblin King’s playthings, a toy he could bend and stretch at will.

 

Dangerous? Little Liesl had asked. Dangerous how?

Dangerous as a winter wind, which freezes the marrow from within, and not like a blade, which slashes the throat from without.

 

This was the Goblin King. The abductor of maidens, the punisher of misdeeds, the Lord of Mischief and the Underground. But was he also not the friend of my childhood, the confidante of my youth?

 

“Your sister,” he said, nodding toward Kathe in the crowd, “would prefer pretty enchantments to the stark ugliness of reality, I think.”

 

There was a grace to every line of his body; elegance was not only in his air, but in the way he moved. Even when he was unsure.

“I—I—“ He was flustered. I relished this bit of power over him, this ability to unsettle him as much as he unsettled me.

 

The surrounding forest was unfamiliar, lit with the otherworldly glow of starlight. The trees grew into twisted shapes, sculpted by centuries of wind—or a goblin-led hand. They grew as though striving to dance and roam free, only to be rooted fast and trapped by the earth beneath them.

 

“That sort of passion she inspires in me is all flash and no heat. I need an ember, Elisabeth, not a firecracker.”

 

He tastes like a winter wind, but the heat of our mouths warms him up, and then everything is languid, humid, hot, like still summer night.

 

I want to lie with the Devil and would do so again and again, just to feel like this.

 

“Go to bed, Elisabeth,” he said. “You’re drunk.”

 

I knew who I was not: my sister. Without my sister to define me, I was unsteady, unstable. I had lost the crutch that propped me up.

 

REVIEW: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

truthwitchTruthwitch by Susan Dennard

Series: Witchlands #1

Read: September 14 – November 6, 2016

Format: Hardback

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Publisher: Tor Teen

Genre: YA Fantasy

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.


REVIEW

TRUTHWITCH is a book I was fortunate enough to win a hardback autographed copy of.

The book follows two young woman in the Witchlands, Safi and Iseult, who are both gifted with magical powers. Iseult is a Threadwitch and Safi is a Truthwitch.

Even after finishing the book, I’m still a little confused as to what exactly being a Threadwitch entails. The author basically throws the reader into the story with no explanations – which I love! – but, and I rarely if ever say this, I think the story could have benefited from a little info dumping.

If you read this book, be prepared to not really understand how this world works in the beginning. Like I said, we’re thrown in, and at first I though I was actually going to dislike the book. And then the plot moved forward, things became more clear, I became more connected to these characters, and I stopped caring that I didn’t understand some of the witchy things.

I love the characters in this book. LOVE them! Safi and Iseult are Threadsisters and would do absolutely ANYTHING for one another. That’s a beautiful thing. Their friendship actually reminded me a bit of Rose and Lissa from Richelle Mead’s VAMPIRE ACADEMY series. They too had a magical bond where they would do anything for the other. One girl more serious; the other impulsive. Now, though there are similarities in my eyes of these two sets of characters, they are not carbon copies. I think they’d all be good friends though. There is definite character growth from start to finish as well, especially with Safi.

And of course, what do I love most in my teen novels? A little bit of romance. And let me tell you, the sparks were FLYING in this book. You could cut the sexual tension with a knife! I need more of this couple in my life, I totally ship them.

As for the ending, this is a cliffhanger done right. The main task – story arc if you will – comes to a conclusive end, and there’s a helluva cliffhanger to keep you aching for more. Is it January yet so I can get my hands on the sequel, WINDWITCH???

So, should you read this book? YES! If you enjoy strong characters that drive the story forward and grow and change throughout the book. If you like a unique magic system. If you like sizzling sexual tension. Read. This. Book. Go. Now. Book two comes out around my birthday in early January 2017, and I’ll probably be gifting it to myself.


Get the Truthwitch here:

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Preorder Windwitch here:

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QUOTES

“Why always me? There are a thousand shoulders for a gull to crap on, but they always pick me!”

“Stay back, I’ll handle this!”
Safi ignored him—he was clearly an idiot.

Unambitious? Lacking initiative? Perhaps that was true when it came to living in a frozen castle amidst a world of power-hungry nobility and ever-watchful Hell-Bards, but not when it came to a life with Iseult.

“Allow me to serve you, Safiya. We have spent too many years apart.”
“And I have spent too many hours between meals.” A glare. “Give it to me now, Polly, or I shall castrate you with a fork.”
Now
his eyes bugged. “By the Twelve, have you heard the things you say?”

Safi estimated at least fifty men. Probably twice that, since she was gull crap when it came to math.

She refused to be what Eron—or anyone else—expected her to be. She was stuck in this body, with this mind, but it didn’t mean she couldn’t reach outside. It didn’t mean she couldn’t change.

“You don’t like me,” Iseult said. “And you don’t have to. Just remember that if you ever hurt Safiya fon Hasstrel, then I will cut you to pieces and I will feed you to the rats.”

“I’ll strip with you,” Safi offered, grabbing for her shirttails. “If anyone shows up”—the shirt slid over her face, muffled her words—”I’ll dance around and distract them.”

“I’ll always follow you, Safi, and you’ll always follow me. Threadsisters until the end.”