Tag: fantasy

Book Review: A Soldier and a Liar, by Caitlin Lochner

a soldier and a liar
Image belongs to Swoon Reads.

Title:  A Soldier and a Liar
Author:  Caitlin Lochner
Genre:  YA, fantasy
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Lai is a Nyte, a supernaturally gifted teenager with abilities that frighten the Etioles without abilities—but with numbers and power on their side. Lai is in prison:  by her own choice and for her own reasons. Going back to the military is not what she had in mind, but when a chance to join a special team of Nytes comes her way, she decides that it might suit her own agenda perfectly, if she keeps the truth of her power to herself.

She joins Jay, an uptight perfectionist haunted by his father’s expectations, Al, whose short temper keeps her own secret hidden, and Erik, a surly amnesiac desperate to find out who he really is. Their team has a chance to stop the rising rebellion between Nytes and Etioles, but will the secrets they’re hiding destroy their team before they can?

This is a dystopian story, but without the dystopian feel. The focus is on the two groups, Nytes and Etioles, and the conflict and rebellion between them. Each of these characters has secrets, big ones, and keeps everyone at a distance to keep their secret safe. This novel is about finding trust—for yourself and those closest to you—even in the face of danger. An enjoyable read not bogged down with romance and flirting (although there is a teensy bit).

Caitlin Lochner lives and teaches in Tokyo. A Soldier and a Liar is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of Swoon Reads via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

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Book Review: Mist, Metal, and Ash, by Gwendolyn Clare

mist, metal, & ash
Image belongs to Imprint/Macmillan.

Title:  Mist, Metal, and Ash
Author:  Gwendolyn Clare
Genre:  YA, fantasy
Rating:  4.0 out of 5

In an alternate Italy, Elsa can create new worlds by writing in books. Special writing. Special books. Special talent…and one that puts her in danger when political extremists steal a book that can change the very nature of the world itself.

In the wake of a horrific betrayal, Elsa has one goal:  track down the book before the extremists can use it to wreak havoc. Getting revenge on her betrayer will be just a bonus. But Elsa doesn’t realize the secrets she’ll encounter along the way, some of which she’s even kept from herself.

I love steampunk, but I don’t actively seek it out—I don’t know why. I have not read the first book in this duology, Ink, Iron, and Glass, but I highly recommend doing that, as I spent the first third of the book being highly confused. I ended up loving the world and its nuances:  differences from our own, but some similarities, too. There’s a lot of action here, and a bit of romance, but it’s all woven together seamlessly. I like the intrigue with Casa as well.

Gwendolyn Clare is a scientist and a writer. Mist, Metal, and Ash is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Imprint/Macmillan via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Cover Reveal for “Whispers of Shadow and Flame” by L. Penelope

Look at this beautiful cover! I loved the first book in this series, and the follow-up novella that just came out. I can’t wait to read this!

Today we have the cover reveal tour for book 2 in L. Penelope’s Earthsinger Chronicles, Whispers of Shadow & Flame. 

The first book in the series, Song of Blood & Stone was named one of TIME Magazine’s top 10 fantasy books of 2018. Check out the cover reveal and giveaway below!

Title: Whispers of Shadow & Flame (Earthsinger Chronicles, Book 2)
Author: L. Penelope
Published by: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Genre: Fantasy

WhispersofShadowandFlame-PB

Book Description:
The cursed will face the gods. They have nothing to lose.

“A master class in fantasy world-building.” – TIME Magazine on Song of Blood & Stone

The Mantle that separates the kingdoms of Elsira and Lagrimar is about to fall. And life will drastically change for both kingdoms.

Born with a deadly magic she cannot control, Kyara is forced to become an assassin. Known as the Poison Flame in the kingdom of Lagrimar, she is notorious and lethal, but secretly seeks freedom from both her untamed power and the blood spell that commands her. She is tasked with capturing the legendary rebel called the Shadowfox, but everything changes when she learns her target’s true identity.

Darvyn ol-Tahlyro may be the most powerful Earthsinger in generations, but guilt over those he couldn’t save tortures him daily. He isn’t sure he can trust the mysterious young woman who claims to need his help, but when he discovers Kyara can unlock the secrets of his past, he can’t stay away.

Kyara and Darvyn grapple with betrayal, old promises, and older prophecies—all while trying to stop a war. And when a new threat emerges, they must beat the odds to save both kingdoms.

Pre-order the paperback today!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Whispers-Shadow-Flame-Earthsinger-Penelope/dp/125014809X

BN: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/whispers-of-shadow-flame-l-penelope/1130016254?ean=9781250148094

BAM: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Whispers-Shadow-Flame/L-Penelope/9781250148094?id=7469620796685

 

Book Review: Warrior of the Wild, by Tricia Levenseller

wow
Image belongs to Feiwel & Friends.

Title:  Warrior of the Wild
Author:  Tricia Levenseller
Genre:  Fantasy, YA
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Rasmira is her father’s heir and has trained her whole life to be a warrior. She’s nothing like all her sisters, and her mother hates her, so she spends her days honing her skills. To become a warrior, she must pass a trial in front of the entire village. When an unthinkable betrayal results in her failing the trial, the only way to redeem herself is to go into the wild and kill the god that has plagued her village for generations.

In the wild she meets Iric and Soren, banished from their own village for failing their trials; Iric because he was never meant to be a warrior and Soren so he could protect Iric. Rasmira has never trusted anyone in her life—except her betrayer and look how that turned out—so she tries to avoid the two, but soon finds herself working with them as all three seek to accomplish their impossible tasks.

But killing a god is no laughing matter, and Rasmira will need every trick at her disposal if she’s to win.

This was an excellent read! Rasmira was a character I connected with immediately, and I took her betrayal so personally. She’s tough and doesn’t want to trust anyone, but Iric and Soren slowly worm their way past her defenses. I loved the character growth of all three and enjoyed watching their different relationships mature and shift.

Tricia Levenseller is from Oregon. Warrior of the Wild is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Feiwel & Friends via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Breath of Dust & Dawn by L. Penelope

breath of dust & dawn

Title:   Breath of Dust & Dawn
Author:   L. Penelope
Genre:   Fantasy
Rating:   5 out of 5

“For Jasminda ul-Sarifor, the war may be over, but her conflict is not. New, overwhelming duties leave her caught between two worlds but belonging to neither. She turns once more to Jack, hoping the bond that got them through the first battle is strong enough to weather a new storm.

For Jack, Jasminda’s struggles hit close to home. To help her find her way, he entrusts her with a tale from his past when, after another war, a young Jack Alliaseen must also adjust to new responsibilities. But his take a lethal turn when prisoners of war start showing up dead on his watch. With the aid of a mysterious young man destined to change his life forever, Jack must save the lives of those under his protection before it’s too late.

As his story unfolds, will Jack’s memories help Jasminda conquer her present trials?”

I loved Song of Blood & Stone, and I was excited to read this sequel/prequel (it makes sense, honestly). I was not disappointed! I enjoyed getting a deeper glimpse into Jack’s past. It showed part of how he grew to be the man he was in the first book, and the obstacles he overcame. Jasminda is struggling to plan a wedding and learn to be a queen—no pressure there—and Jack’s past teaches her a lesson she needs to know—while drawing them closer.

(Galley provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: White Stag, by Kara Barbieri

white stag
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   White Stag
Author:   Kara Barbieri
Genre:   Fantasy
Rating:   4 out of 5

Seventeen-year-old Janneke was the last child in a family of daughters, so she was raised as a son and heir. Instead of being trained as a wife and mother like her sisters, she learned to track, hunt, and fight.

A hundred years ago, goblins attacked and destroyed her village and her entire family, leaving her bound to the cruel goblin prince Lydian, who tortured her for years, before she became bound to his nephew, Soren.

Janneke is slowly losing her humanity amidst the violence of the goblin court, but when the king dies and the ancient hunt for the white stag to choose the next king begins, she must choose between her lingering memories of being human and her loyalty to Soren, who has only helped her grow stronger.

White Stag was dark, atmospheric, and broody—in a good way. The Permafrost setting is stark and made me shiver. Janneke grows a lot, especially as she learns truths she never knew. However, I didn’t get a good feel for the goblin culture, apart from violence and cruelty, and I really wanted to know more. There must be a reason for the violence, so more information would have given the culture more nuances. And I found all the characters besides Soren and Janneke to be mostly one-dimensional.

Kara Barbieri lives in Wisconsin. White Stag is her debut novel.

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

Book Review: The Iron Flower, by Laurie Forest

the iron flower

Title:   The Iron Flower
Author:   Laurie Forest
Genre:   Fantasy, YA
Rating:   5 out of 5

High Priest Marcus Vogel and his influence—not to mention his army—is spreading quickly, along with his hate-filled, racist beliefs. The Gardnerian soldiers are tightening their hold everywhere, and the strict laws make life difficult, not to mention the fear their cruelty instills. Every non-Gardnerian is a target, and death is the sentence for many.

Elloren Gardner may be the granddaughter of a murderess, but she is a mage with almost no power. She’s determined to fight to save her friends and family. For Elloren, “family” is her brothers, her uncle, and her friends—of all races and species. Most of all, she wishes she weren’t Gardnerian and seen as the enemy by many she wants to help. As if that isn’t enough, she is the very image of her evil grandmother—and even the forest whispers dark things against her.

As the darkness around her grows worse, Elloren struggles to find a way out for her friends and family—any way out—and is willing to risk her life to save whoever she can. Then there’s Lukas Grey, commander of the military base and determined to win Elloren over, no matter what. The pull between them is strong, but Elloren has no way of knowing which side he’s truly on—or what he wants.

Let me say that I have not read The Black Witch, the first book in this series, but that did not detract from my enjoyment of The Iron Flower. (And, I’ll be buying and reading it immediately!) This was a fantastic read, and I was drawn in from the very first page. Elloren is fighting her heritage and what she’s always known as she realizes just how horrible those beliefs are. Diversity is something the Gardnerians hate, but Elloren sees its beauty—and will fight to protect it. This is a dark book, but completely compelling, and I read it in about 24 hours, staying up far too late to find out what happens!

Laurie Forest lives and writes in the woods of Vermont. The Iron Flower is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Harlequin Teen in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Once a King, by Erin Summerill

once a king
HMH Books for Young Readers

 

Title:   Once a King
Author:   Erin Summerill
Genre:   Fantasy, YA
Rating:   5 out of 5

The kingdom of Malam has a dark history of persecuting Channelers, women with magical ability, but now the young king, Aodren is seeking to end the persecution and unite his kingdom. But decades of hatred cannot be undone with words, and rumors of a Channeler-made drug are causing fears to burst into flame, and violence to erupt.

Lirra was born in Malam, but her father fled when she was an infant, after her mother was murdered. She distrusts Malam and its new young king, and wants only to perform in the magic showcase, her chance to let her talents shine. But the deadly drug makes a kingdoms-wide summit even more dangerous, and soon Lirra is forced to work with Aodren as they try to find the source of the mysterious drug—and who’s behind it—before Malam’s future is destroyed forever.

This is a standalone, but it’s linked to the other books in the Clash of Kingdoms series, and I had no trouble picking this up without reading the first two (which sometimes does NOT work out). The worldbuilding was fantastic, and the sense of history gave so many compelling layers to this story! The characters are struggling to work together despite the many things that should make that impossible, as they do everything they can to overcome years and a culture of hatred. Highly recommended!

Erin Summerill is an award-winning author. Once a King is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by HMH Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Fire and Heist, by Sarah Beth Durst

fire & heist
Image belongs to Random House Children’s/Crown Books for Young Readers.

Title:  Fire and Heist
Author:   Sarah Beth Durst
Genre:   YA, fantasy
Rating:   4 out of 5

Sky Hawkins’s family fell from grace and lost some of their wealth and most of their good name when her mother disappeared after a heist gone bad. Sky lost her mom, her friends, and her boyfriend all at the same time, as well as becoming a social media and paparazzi pariah. Sky is a wyvern (a were dragon), after all, and the media is fascinated by her family and culture.

No one will talk about her mother’s disappearance, and Sky wants to know what really went down, so she starts to plan her first heist to find out. The first heist is a coming-of-age for wyverns, and Sky is determined to succeed at hers, and save her family’s good name, her mother, and her relationship at one time. Until she learns more about the mysterious jewel her mother was after—and realizes someone has been hiding dark secrets about wyvern history for years.

This is a clean read, and suitable for even younger YA readers. The wyvern society is intriguing and well-thought-out. It makes sense for were-dragons, and I loved how it tied in historical figures to the wyvern worldbuilding. Sky is kind of an innocent about life, so I’d say this is skewed a bit towards younger readers, and a few things seemed a little too easy, but it was a an entertaining and fun read.

Sarah Beth Durst writes fantasy books for all ages. Fire and Heist is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Random House Children’s/Crown Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Shadow of the Fox, by Julie Kagawa

shadow of the fox
Image belongs to Harlequin Teen.

Title:   Shadow of the Fox
Author:   Julie Kagawa
Genre:   Fantasy, YA
Rating:   4 out of 5

Yumeko has been raised by monks in the Silent Winds temple. The isolation helps hide her half-kitsune nature—along with the training of the monks who want to suppress her mischievous personality. The temple exists to protect part of an ancient scroll fated to summon the great Kami Dragon. The last time the dragon was summoned, a thousand years of darkness followed.  When the temple is destroyed, and the monks slain, Yumeko is left with the scroll fragment—and instructions to find a hidden temple.

But Yumeko isn’t the only one interested in the scroll. Kage Tatsumi, a samurai of the mysterious shadow clan, has been charged to find the scroll—and let no one stand in his way. Yumeko has no idea how to survive outside the temple and promises to take Kage to the scroll if he helps her find the temple. Kage has no idea she’s holding a piece of the scroll, and her deception could tear them apart—if his dark secret doesn’t destroy them both first.

I am fascinated by Japanese culture and mythology, and I really loved the Iron Fey series, so I was excited to read this. However, I found it pretty slow going until the last third of the book. The setting is fantastic and fascinating, but the plot seemed a bit predictable. Yumeko was very naïve—to be expected from her upbringing—and I actually liked that about her, although I think she needed some more common sense at times to counteract her lack of experience. A solid read.

Julie Kagawa is a New York Times-bestselling author. Shadow of the Fox is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Harlequin Teen in exchange for an honest review.)