Tag: fantasy

Book Review: Blunt Force Magic, by Lawrence Davis

Image belongs to WildBlue Press.

Janzen’s life as a package courier in Cleveland, Ohio isn’t glamorous. He works, hangs out at a hole-in-the-wall bar, and goes home drunk to his dog. It’s a life, just a dull one. Five years ago, Janzen was an apprentice Artificer, living on the edge in a group of practitioners intent on fighting evil, but now he’s alone.

So, Janzen works, drinks, and sleeps. And repeats. Until the day he’s delivering a package and finds himself fighting for his life against a Stalker—a creature from the Abyss—defending a young witch against the dark predator.

Now Janzen must figure out who sent the Stalker, delving into his past for any scrap of help he can find, before the monster succeeds in killing him—and the witch. All in a day’s work, right?

This book. From the first page, I was drawn in by Janzen’s dry, self-deprecating humor and his unflinching honesty. He left the magical life behind years ago, but he doesn’t hesitate to step back into his role when danger threatens a young stranger. This character made the book—but the whole gritty urban fantasy/detective noir feeling didn’t hurt, either. A great read!

Lawrence Davis is the author of Blunt Force Magic, the first book in The Monsters and Men trilogy.

(Galley provided by WildBlue Press in exchange for an honest review.)


More reviews at <a href=” https://tamaramorning.com/”>Tomorrow is Another Day</a>


Book Review: Tess of the Road, by Rachel Hartman

Image belongs to Random House.

In Goredd, reputation is everything and there are certain expectations about women and their place. Expectations that Tess just can’t seem to live up to. Trapped in her duty to her family, Tess is bitter, angry, and hopeless. Also, a little bit of a drunkard. Which leads to the incident at her sister’s wedding…

Before she’s forced into a nunnery, Tess chops off her hair, dresses as a boy, and sets out on the Road, ins search of one of the World Serpents, creatures of legend she’s been fascinated with for years.

The Road is more challenging than Tess ever imagined, and every day, she must make the decision to live one more day. She meets friends in unexpected places as she searches for who she really is, learning to heal from the pain of her past so she can seek the future she dreams of.

There’s some darkness in Tess of the Road. Tess begins as a hateful, unlikeable character—although with her past, who wouldn’t be hateful? This is a book about growth more than anything, and Tess’s journey is magnificent as it unfolds, and she learns there is so much more to the world than what society expects.

Rachel Hartman has a B.A. in Comparative Literature. Tess of the Road is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Random House in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Belles, by Dhonielle Clayton

the belles
Image belongs to Disney Books.

In the world of Orléans, people are born damned. Gray. Above all, they want Beauty. It is only with the help of Belles, who control Beauty, can they be made beautiful.

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. All her life, Camellia has wanted to be the favorite, the Belle chosen by the Queen to live in the palace and work with the royal family. The most talented Belle.

But at court, Camellia and her sisters learn there’s far more to this world of beauty than they ever imagined, and there’s more to their powers than they know. When the Queen asks Camellia to help the sick princess, Camellia must decide whether to help the Queen—and risk her whole world—or to continue to be the favorite Belle, the one who does everything that’s expected of her.

So, this book is more than a fairytale/fantasy epic. Orléans absolutely reminds me of the Capitol (from The Hunger Games), with over-the-top costumes and obsession with appearances and popularity. So much. But this book is really a commentary on issues we face in society today—and not just vanity—with layers and layers of reality and mystery twined together. On the surface, a book obsessed with beauty isn’t my cup of tea. But the world is richly-detailed, and the characters are complex and driven, and I can’t wait to see where the author takes them next.

Dhonielle Clayton is an author and the COO of We Need Diverse Books. Her newest novel is The Belles.

(Galley provided by Disney Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Book of Pearl, by Timothee de Fombelle

the book of pearl
Image belongs to Candlewick Press.

Joshua Pearl doesn’t belong in this world. He comes from the world of story, of fairy tales, where he no one knows he exists—and they certainly don’t know he’s the younger brother of their cruel and brutal king. His love keeps him alive, but he’s cursed to live in a world that doesn’t believe in magic. This world.

In Paris just before World War II, Joshua lives and works in a marshmallow shop beloved by many. He’s found a family. He has a home and a job he adores, but something is missing. As his memories of his life before start to fade, Joshua searches for objects of mystery—starting with a mermaid’s scale—that might help him prove his own story, before his memories are lost forever.

Sometimes, I’m not terribly observant when I’m picking out books. Like picking up the third book in a series, having no idea it’s part of a series. In this case, I didn’t realize The Book of Pearl was a translation. Not that that matters in the least. I found this book magical and ethereal in places, but realistic and gritty in others. The fairy tale world is not the Disney version—all sunshine and light—but much more Grimm’s brothers. The settings came alive on the page, and if the characters were a little more distant than I would have wished, this could be just a difference in style between French and English. Regardless, this was a wonderful, enchanting read.

Timothee de Fombelle is a French author who taught literature before heading to the theatre. The Book of Pearl is his newly-translated book.

(Galley provided by Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert

Image belongs to Flatiron Books.

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have been haunted by bad luck as long as Alice can remember. Not run-of-the-mill bad luck, either, but strange things happening in even stranger circumstances. And Alice’s mom won’t allow her to speak of her grandmother, a reclusive author who lives on a mysterious estate called the Hazel Wood. It’s the two of them against the world.

When Alice’s grandmother dies, Alice’s mom is stolen away by mysterious creatures from the Hinterland—where Alice’s grandmother’s creepy tales are set. The only lead Alice has is her mom’s message, “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

But Alice will stop at nothing to save her mom. The only person she can turn to is Finch, a Hinterland superfan…and Alice is sure he’s hiding something. To save her mom, first they must find the Hazel Wood. Then Alice must venture deep into the woods, where she just might find out what’s wrong with her own story.

The Hazel Wood is absolutely magic! Dark magic, to be sure, but magic all the same. Alice is such a fascinating character, filled with rage but yearning for the light. The Hinterland and the Hazel Wood are places of magic…terrifying magic. I was enthralled with the story from the very first page, and that continued through to the very last page. Loved this book!

Melissa Albert is the editor of the B&N Teen Blog. The Hazel Wood is her first novel.

(Galley provided by Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review.)



Book Review: The Forgotten Book, by Mechthild Gläser

the forgotten book
Image belongs to Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan.

Emma’s life is pretty good. She attends a prestigious boarding school. Her friends all trust her enough to ask her for advice. She’s pretty sure the guy she’s had a crush on for ages is about to ask her out. Things are going well. Except for arrogant Darcy de Winter, the heir to the family who owns the school, who’s there searching for clues about his missing sister.

Then someone trashes the abandoned library Emma and her friends have taken as “theirs,” and Emma finds an old book hidden there. The book is filled with pages written by many different people over the years. A diary of sorts, Emma thinks, and she starts writing in it as well.

When the things Emma writes in the book come true—sort of—Emma realizes there’s more to the book than she thought. But someone else knows of the book’s power, and will stop at nothing to take it from Emma. Emma must unravel the mysteries hidden in the book—and the school—if she’s to figure out what the book is—and who’s after it.

The Forgotten Book is labeled as YA, but that seems a tiny bit too old for this book, to me. Or maybe Emma’s led such a sheltered life that she seems younger. And, considering this is a boarding school, there is surprising little conflict or animosity between a group of students who all live together. Everyone gets along. That was the most far-fetched part of this book for me. Not the magic book.

I enjoyed the mystery, as Emma tries to figure out the secrets of the book, as well as the mysterious creature mentioned in the book. The school sounds like a fantastical place to live, or at least to visit. Emma is an interesting character:  she’s very innocent and oblivious to some things, but she’s inquisitive enough to make up for her naivety.

Mechthild Gläser is an award-winning German author. The Forgotten Book is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)


Book Review: The Girl in the Tower, by Katherine Arden

the girl in the tower
Image belongs to Del Rey.

Vasya has long seen creatures from legend, and her ability to see has brought trouble down upon her and her family. Only the aid of Morozko (Frost, the winter demon from the stories) has kept her alive so far, and the love of Solovey, her magnificent stallion. With her parents dead and her village casting her out as a witch, Vasya knows her options are limited:  life in a convent or marriage to a Moscovite prince. She wants neither, and disguises herself as a boy as she sets out to explore the world.

She finds burned villages, missing girls, and bandits that vanish leaving no traces behind. After she rescues three girls from the bandits, the Grand Prince of Moscow calls her a hero, and she is reunited with her brother and sister. But Vasya cannot reveal that she is female, or her entire family risks disgrace and death. Soon she realizes that a danger stalks Moscow and the Grand Prince, and even Morozko, who she no longer knows if she can trust, may not be able to help her.

Have you ever identified with a character so completely that it almost broke your heart? That’s how I felt about Vasya as I was reading The Girl in the Tower. Everyone wants her to be content to marry, raise a family, and be conventional, but she wants anything but that. She wants to travel, live her life, and be happy, but the people around her don’t want that for her:  they want her to conform. And she doesn’t want to hurt those she loves, so she’s torn.

Vasya is a powerful character, so relatable that you want to cry for her struggles. This is a magical, vibrant book, and wonder permeates every page. The setting is so vividly depicted that I found myself shivering—and I hate cold weather!

Katherine Arden is from Texas, but lived in Vermont, Russia, Hawaii, France, and Hawaii (again). She has picked Macadamia nuts, made smoothies, and sold real estate, but now she writes. The Girl in the Tower is her newest novel, the second book in The Winternight trilogy.

Go. Read this! And if you haven’t read The Bear and the Nightingale, read it first!

the girl in the tower2
Gorgeous covers!

(Galley provided by Del Rey in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Seventh Decimate, by Stephen R. Donaldson

Image belongs to Berkely.

Belleger and Amika have been at war for centuries, with their sorcerers hurling destruction and pestilence at each other and tearing the nations apart. Then Belleger’s sorcerers are stripped of their magic, and Belleger is on the verge of falling. But Prince Bifalt refuses to let that happen.

He sets out in search of the library that is the repository of the sorcerers’ knowledge, to find a decimate greater than the one used against his land, but what he really wants is to destroy all sorcerers. Through battles, desert, and near-starvation, Prince Bifalt searches for the repository, unaware that there are greater things in motion than he can even imagine.

I’ve read the Thomas Covenant books several times, and enjoyed them, but Covenant is not a likeable character. And neither is Prince Bifalt. Frequently, I felt the urge to shake him, for his blindness and refusal to consider anything but his own beliefs. Donaldson creates a vivid world, but I had a really hard time connecting with the Prince, and that made the book drag a bit for me.

Stephen R. Donaldson was born in Ohio, but grew up in India. His is the author of the Thomas Covenant books. His newest novel, Seventh Decimate, is the first in The Great God’s War trilogy.

(Galley provided by Berkely via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Rosemarked, by Livia Blackburne

Image belongs to Disney-Hyperion.

Zivah has barely become a healer when she is tasked with caring for the ill soldiers of the nation oppressing her own. Eager to save as many soldiers as she can—to keep her people safe—she cares for the commander, who survives, but Zivah falls victim to the plague. She knows she’ll die from the plague, she just doesn’t know when.

Given the chance to continue helping her people. Zivah agrees to a spying mission with Dineas, a warrior broken by torture who lives only to overthrow the empire intent on crushing both their people. The two will have only each other to rely on as they journey into the heart of enemy territory, desperate to find any chance of saving their people.

Rosemarked is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. From the first page, I was enthralled by the world, the plot, and especially the characters. The concept of the rose plague is fascinating—a deadly virus that kills most of its victim, leaving only some alive as carriers destined to die, and a few lucky immune, both forever marked by the virus. Zivah struggles with pitting her beliefs against her loyalty to both her people and Dineas, and her conflict weaves throughout the story. Dineas is so emotionally scarred all he can see is revenge, yet he is conflicted after getting to know some of the enemy. The dynamic between the two is absolutely riveting. You MUST read this! I cannot wait for the next book.

Livia Blackburne is the New York Times-bestselling author of the Midnight Thief series. Rosemarked is her newest novel, the first in a new series.

(Galley provided by Disney-Hyperion via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

beasts of extraordinary circumstance
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Weylyn Grey was orphaned and raised by wolves. He met Mary when she was 11 years old, when he saved her from an angry wolf. Weylyn knows strange things happen around him—like stopping that tornado on Christmas Day—but he prefers to give the credit to his horned pig, Merlin.

Freak storms, trees that grow overnight, hurricanes that mysteriously dissipate; Weylyn has been around them all. Though it all, his love for Mary stays strong, until he realizes that she might come to harm. Then he knows he must move on. Instead of stopping hurricanes, the magic in his life now consists of fireflies who make phosphorescent honey. But, through it all, his love for Mary remains strong. All he needs is the courage to knock on her door.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is classified as fantasy/sci-fi, but to me, it’s more magical realism. It’s different from anything else I’ve ever read, and different is a very good thing. This is told not only from Weylyn’s point-of-view, but from that of those who know him. There is magic on every page, and wonder hides here as well.

Ruth Emmie Lang was born in Scotland, but moved to Ohio when she was four. Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is her first novel.

(Galley provided by St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)