Tag: fantasy

Book Review:  City of Time and Magic, by Paula Brackston

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  City of Time and Magic
Author:   Paula Brackston
Genre:   Historical fiction
Rating:  5 out of 5

City of Time and Magic sees Xanthe face her greatest challenges yet. She must choose from three treasures that sing to her; a beautiful writing slope, a mourning brooch of heartbreaking detail, and a gorgeous gem-set hat pin. All call her, but the wrong one could take her on a mission other than that which she must address first, and the stakes could not be higher. While her earlier mission to Regency England had been a success, the journey home resulted in Liam being taken from her, spirited away to another time and place. Xanthe must follow the treasure that will take her to him if he is not to be lost forever.

 Xanthe is certain that Mistress Flyte has Liam and determined to find them both. But when she discovers Lydia Flyte has been tracking the actions of the Visionary Society, a group of ruthless and unscrupulous Spinners who have been selling their talents to a club of wealthy clients, Xanthe realizes her work as a Spinner must come before her personal wishes. The Visionary Society is highly dangerous and directly opposed to the creed of the Spinners. Their actions could have disastrous consequences as they alter the authentic order of things and change the future. Xanthe knows she must take on the Society. It will require the skills of all her friends, old and new, to attempt such a thing, and not all of them will survive the confrontation that follows.

I love this series! This is a time travel novel that doesn’t gloss over the likely challenges of everyday life in the past (At least, they’d definitely be challenges for someone from the present.). I wouldn’t even be able to dress myself!

I thoroughly enjoy the writing and worldbuilding, but the characters are my favorite part of this series. Xanthe herself is flawed yet determined, and the supporting characters are just as likable. The conflicts, challenges, and choices she faces had me completely enthralled.

Paula Brackston lives in Wales. City of Time and Magic is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  A Light in the Sky, by Shina Reynolds

Image belongs to Wink Road Press.

Title:   A Light in the Sky
Author Shina Reynolds
Genre:   Fantasy, YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

Seventeen-year-old Aluma Banks has always dreamed of soaring freely through the skies astride a powerful winged steed of her own. But flying is a privilege granted only to the Riders of the king’s Empyrean Cavalry, the aerial warriors who defend the borders of their land from the fallen Kingdom of Laithlann.

 Each year, Rider hopefuls across Eirelannia compete in the Autumn Tournament for the honor of joining the Cavalry. Aluma, trained to ride and fight by her retired Empyrean Rider father, knows she has what it takes to prove herself worthy—if only her father hadn’t forbidden her from joining their ranks, in the hope of protecting his only daughter from the perils of war. To make matters worse, Thayer, Aluma’s best friend who could be becoming something more, is competing—and if he wins, he’ll leave her behind.

 When Aluma’s father is tragically injured just before the Tournament, she finds herself unexpectedly thrust into this year’s competition. But as Aluma begins to pursue her dreams, she learns devastating secrets about the king and his never-ending war with Laithlann. In her quest for the truth, Aluma discovers a power deep within herself that may be the only way to save Eirelannia and the people she loves from the darkness that threatens to consume them all.

 I enjoyed this creative fantasy read. Flying horses—created, not born, like Pegasus—and the soldiers who ride them, a publicized contest, an evil and overbearing king (of course), and a secret rebellion. Granted, the last two are, but when put together with the others and with characters I liked, this made for a fun read. I could have done without the love triangle, but it didn’t really surprise me. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

Shina Reynolds lives in Texas. A Light in the Sky is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of Wink Road Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  All of Us Villains, by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman

Image belongs to Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Tor Teen.

Title:   All of Us Villains
Author:   Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman
Genre:   Fantasy, YA
Rating:  4.0 out of 5

The Blood Moon rises. The Blood Veil falls. The Tournament begins. 

Every generation, at the coming of the Blood Moon, seven families in the remote city of Ilvernath each name a champion to compete in a tournament to the death. 

The prize? Exclusive control over a secret wellspring of high magick, the most powerful resource in the world–one thought long depleted. 

This year, thanks to a salacious tell-all book, the seven champions are thrust into worldwide spotlight, granting each of them new information, new means to win, and most importantly: a choice – accept their fate or rewrite their story.

 But this is a story that must be penned in blood. 

This was a pretty dark read. Every time I though I liked a character, they did something awful, stabbed someone in the back, killed someone…Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about this read. It’s well-written, with strong characters and lots of action, but it’s just so dark.

Amanda Foody lives in Boston. Christine Lynn Herman lives in Brooklyn. All of Us Villians is their new novel.

(Galley courtesy of Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Tor Teen in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  The Alchemy Thief, by R.A Denny

Image belongs to the author.

Title The Alchemy Thief
Author R.A Denny
Genre:   fantasy, history
Rating:  4 out of 5

When the secrets of the past threaten to destroy the future… 

A tale of hope, resilience, and the indomitable spirit of a woman, this sweeping epic spans the Atlantic from New England to Morocco during the Age of Exploration. 

2019: A young woman finds a relic engraved with a mysterious symbol off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. Terrorists in Morocco steal a 17th-century book engraved with the same symbol. As the woman struggles to unravel the secrets behind the symbol, her life changes in ways she could never have imagined. 

1657: Transported back in time, she meets the alchemist, John Winthrop, Jr. who is plotting to lure the greatest scientific minds to the New World. But the more she learns, the more she fears for the lives of the loved ones she left behind. 

In a stunning twist of fate, a modern terrorist has traveled into the past, where he has become a Barbary Corsair. He has plans of his own. And he will stop at nothing to succeed.

This was quite an interesting read. I haven’t read any time travel novels set in Puritan New England (Well, before it was actually New England.), so that kept me interested. Peri was just an innocent in 2019, so she fit right in in the past—in a manner of speaking.

The writing here is solid, and the characters, even the Corsair from the future, were intriguing enough to keep me engrossed in the novel. There’s a lot going on, but it blends together to make for an entertaining read.

R.A Denny has a law degree from Duke University but chooses to do just what she loves:  write. The Alchemy Thief is her newest novel, the first in the Pirates and Puritans series.

(Galley courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  Little Thieves, by Margaret Owen

Image belongs to Macmillan.

Title:   Little Thieves
Author:   Margaret Owen
Genre:   Fantasy
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Vanja Schmidt knows that no gift is freely given, not even a mother’s love–and she’s on the hook for one hell of a debt. Vanja, the adopted goddaughter of Death and Fortune, was Princess Gisele’s dutiful servant up until a year ago. That was when Vanja’s otherworldly mothers demanded a terrible price for their care, and Vanja decided to steal her future back… by stealing Gisele’s life for herself. 

The real Gisele is left a penniless nobody while Vanja uses an enchanted string of pearls to take her place. Now, Vanja leads a lonely but lucrative double life as princess and jewel thief, charming nobility while emptying their coffers to fund her great escape. Then, one heist away from freedom, Vanja crosses the wrong god and is cursed to an untimely end: turning into jewels, stone by stone, for her greed. 

Vanja has just two weeks to figure out how to break her curse and make her getaway. And with a feral guardian half-god, Gisele’s sinister fiancé, and an overeager junior detective on Vanja’s tail, she’ll have to pull the biggest grift yet to save her own life.

Confession: I almost stopped reading this about 15 times in the first 20%. It just started out so slow, and Vanja just wasn’t a very likable person at all. Fortunately, she started learning and changing after that, so she became more tolerable. After that, I enjoyed this story immensely.

The setting was vividly wrought, and the culture was fascinating to me, with the mythology woven seamlessly in, adding depth and nuance to the story. In the end, this ended up being a fantastic read filled with magic, danger, and romance.

Margaret Owen grew up in Portland, Oregon. Little Thieves is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Macmillan in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour:  The Keeper of Night, by Kylie Lee Baker

Image belongs to Inkyard Press.

Title:   The Keeper of Night
Author:   Kylie Lee Baker
Genre:   Fantasy, YA
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Death is her destiny.

Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, Ren Scarborough has been collecting souls in the London streets for centuries. Expected to obey the harsh hierarchy of the Reapers who despise her, Ren conceals her emotions and avoids her tormentors as best she can.

 When her failure to control her Shinigami abilities drives Ren out of London, she flees to Japan to seek the acceptance she’s never gotten from her fellow Reapers. Accompanied by her younger brother, the only being on earth to care for her, Ren enters the Japanese underworld to serve the Goddess of Death… only to learn that here, too, she must prove herself worthy. Determined to earn respect, Ren accepts an impossible task—find and eliminate three dangerous Yokai demons—and learns how far she’ll go to claim her place at Death’s side.

The premise of this was excellent, and the writing was solid, too. The characters, however, didn’t really work for me. Ren herself was distant and cold—not human, I get it, but almost impossible to relate to—and I didn’t really care for her. Her brother just came across as weak 99.5% of the time. And Hiro, well, obviously he had secrets. Why on earth was Ren so surprised to find that out? The culture and mythology were rich and detailed, and I enjoyed that very much, but the characters just detracted so much for me.

Kylie Lee Baker grew up in Boston. The Keeper of Night is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of Inkyard Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour:  Luminous, by Mara Rutherford

Image belongs to Inkyard Press.

Title:   Luminous
Author:   Mara Rutherford
Genre:   Fantasy, YA
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

A witch who must learn to harness her power–or risk losing her loved ones forever. 

Liora has spent her life in hiding, knowing discovery could mean falling prey to the king’s warlock, Darius, who uses mages’ magic to grow his own power. But when her worst nightmare comes to pass, Darius doesn’t take her. Instead, he demands that her younger sister return to the capital with him. To make matters worse, Evran, Liora’s childhood friend and the only one who knows her secret, goes missing following Darius’s visit, leaving her without anyone to turn to.

 To find Evran and to save her sister, Liora must embrace the power she has always feared. But the greatest danger she’ll face is yet to come, for Darius has plans in motion that will cause the world to fall into chaos–and Liora and Evran may be the only ones who can stop him.

I really loved Rutherford’s previous duology, but this just didn’t quite measure up for me. So many layers of lies and misinformation that I was never quite sure of the truth about core concepts from the world itself. I liked Liora herself, but the other main characters were inconsistent at best. Some bits felt clunky and uneven, and there was a bit of deus ex machina thrown in for good measure.

Mara Rutherford is from California. Luminous is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Inkyard Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Forestborn, by Elayne Audrey Becker

Image belongs to Macmillan-Tor/Forge.

TitleForestborn
AuthorElayne Audrey Becker
Genre:  Fantasy, YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

TO BE BORN OF THE FOREST IS A GIFT AND A CURSE. 

Rora is a shifter, as magical as all those born in the wilderness–and as feared. She uses her abilities to spy for the king, traveling under different guises and listening for signs of trouble. 

When a magical illness surfaces across the kingdom, Rora uncovers a devastating truth: Finley, the young prince and her best friend, has caught it, too. His only hope is stardust, the rarest of magical elements, found deep in the wilderness where Rora grew up–and to which she swore never to return. 

But for her only friend, Rora will face her past and brave the dark, magical wood, journeying with her brother and the obstinate, older prince who insists on coming. Together, they must survive sentient forests and creatures unknown, battling an ever-changing landscape while escaping human pursuers who want them dead. With illness gripping the kingdom and war on the horizon, Finley’s is not the only life that hangs in the balance.

It took me a little bit to ground myself in this world, but I enjoyed the read a lot. I enjoyed how Rora grew from being shy and unsure of herself to confident and strong. The setting was fascinating to me, and while I don’t usually enjoy politics, in this case they were and integral—and well-done—part of the story. This is a solid fantasy read.

Elayne Audrey Becker was born and raised in Georgia. Forestborn is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of Macmillan-Tor/Forge in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  The Rot, by Siri Pettersen

Image belongs to Arctis Books.
  • Genre:   Fantasy
  • Rating:  5 out of 5

To protect her homeland of Ym, Hirka left it behind. She traveled through the raven rings, a stone circle that can be used as a portal, to an unfamiliar world. A world without the Might, a world where none of the people have tails, a world that seems rotten at its very core. That world is modern-day Europe.

Hirka was supposed to fit in with humans here. And her departure was supposed to be save Ym from the invasion of the blind. Yet none of that has happened. Instead, Hirka finds herself just as much of an outsider among the humans as she was among ymlings—even more so when she discovers that she has blood of the blind running through her veins. Meanwhile back in Ym, Rime—now the Ravenbearer—is fighting an ongoing battle against the blind, not to mention against his fellow Councilors, as well as with his own despair over losing Hirka.

Separated by worlds, unsure who to trust, and hunted for reasons they cannot understand, both Hirka and Rime must find a way to stop a thousand-year-old evil from destroying not only Ym, but every world in existence.

I love this series! Phenomenally well-written, engrossing, and just plain fascinating, I wanted to binge-read the entire thing (except for you know, responsibilities). I liked how Hirka and Rime are forced to grow while being separated by worlds, yet their bond remains strong and sure. I cannot recommend this highly enough!

Siri Pettersen is from Norway and is an award-winning author. The Rot is her newest novel, the second book in The Raven Rings series.

(Galley courtesy of Arctis Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Requiem of Silence, by L. Penelope

Image belongs to St.Martin’s Press.

TitleRequiem of Silence

Author L. Penelope

Genre:  Fantasy

Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Civil unrest plagues the nation of Elsira as refugees from their old enemy Lagrimar seek new lives in their land. Queen Jasminda is determined to push the unification forward, against growing opposition and economic strife. But the True Father is not finished with Elsira and he may not be acting alone. He has built a powerful army. An army that cannot be killed. An army that can only be stopped by Nethersong and the help of friends and foes of Elsira alike.

Former assassin Kyara will discover that she is not the only Nethersinger. She will need to join the others to harness a power that can save or end Elsira. But time is of the essence and they may not be ready by the time the True Father strikes.

Sisterhood novitiate Zeli will go to the reaches of the Living World to unlock a secret that could save the kingdoms. When armies meet in the battlefield, a new world will be forged. Whether by the hands of gods or men, remains to be seen

I’ve really enjoyed the Earthsea Chronicles series, and I’m sad to see it end. I love how all the cultures are blended together and explore their differences as well as their commonalities. The characters and settings are vibrant and detailed, and the storyline has been wonderfully explored in-depth, making this a series I highly recommend.

Leslye Penelope lives in Maryland. Requiem of Silence is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)