Tag: fantasy

Book Review: Romanov, by Nadine Brandes

Romanov
Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

Title:  Romanov
Author:  Nadine Brandes
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.

With Russia in revolution, the Romanov family are held as hostages by the Bolsheviks. For Nastya—Princess Anastasia—this new world is bewildering and frustrating. Her loving family is intact and together, but they are constantly guarded by soldiers. They are barely allowed to go outside. They are constantly under watch. She doesn’t understand why the world is so bloody and dangerous, she just knows it is.

There is an element of truth in what the people say about the Romanovs, but Nastya is not a spellcaster. If she was, she could heal her brother’s hemophilia and her mother’s illness. She could stop herself from falling in love and mend her sister’s broken heart. And she could keep her family from being executed.

But this isn’t the lies spoken about her family by the Bolsheviks. This is her life. And the truth is far stranger than the history books say.

I’ve probably seen the Disney movie Anastasia at some point, but I don’t remember it, and I’ve certainly read bits and pieces about the Romanovs, none of which I remembered before picking this book up. I had no problems understanding what was going on or starting the story after the Romanovs are taken hostage. The love in this family is remarkable and portrayed so well. All the characters are well-done, but Nastya herself is both struggling and strong, and her determination to help her family is something to behold. I enjoyed this read immensely.

Nadine Brandes is the author of the Out of Time series. Romanov is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Thomas Nelson via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

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Book Review: A Pack of Blood and Lies, by Olivia Wildenstein

 

a pack of blood and lies
Image belongs to Twig Publishing.

Title:  A Pack of Blood and Lies
Author:  Olivia Wildenstein
Genre:  YA/New Adult, paranormal
Rating:  4 out of 5

Ness is almost 18 when she’s forced to return to Boulder. She intended to forget about what happened there, forget about what happened to her mom, and forget all the domineering men in the werewolf pack that had no room for a female. She was happy to think she’d escaped with only her memories.

But now she’s back in boulder and those memories are standing before her. One of them is a friend, but one of them is Liam Kolane, son of Heath, the cruelest man she’d ever imagined. Now Heath is dead, and no one dares challenge Liam for the right to rule the pack.

Except Ness, who isn’t going to let him win without a fight. A fight to the death—if she can convince her heart that’s an acceptable cost.

I found this pretty predictable in most ways, but I enjoyed the read. Lots of chauvinistic alpha males swaggering around, but there are some glimmers of redeeming qualities among them. Coming from a patriarchal society, it’s understandable, even if mildly infuriating.

Bestselling author Olivia Wildenstein lives in Switzerland. A Pack of Blood and Lies is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Twig Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Devouring Gray, by Christine Lynn Herman

the devouring gray
Image belongs to Disney-Hyperion.

Title:  The Devouring Gray
Author:  Christine Lynn Herman
Genre:  YA, fantasy
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

When seventeen-year-old Violet Saunders’ twin sister died, her world ended. Her mom moving to the tiny town of Four Corner, New York was just the icing on the cake. Things are…odd in Four Corners. The town is mostly forest. People practically worship Justin Hawthorn and his sister, May. And everywhere you look are secrets.

Like the weird grey landscape Violet sometimes catches glimpses of from the corner of her eye. Or the flashes of her sister’s blue hair. Or the dead bodies found in the past few months. Not to mention the Beast.

Everything in Four Corners is about power:  who has it, who doesn’t, and doing anything necessary to keep what you’ve got. But there are even more secrets here than Violet suspects, as power in town is balanced on the tip of a knife, and where it falls will change everything.

This story is told from multiple points-of-view, which made it intriguing. The setting is dark and gloomy. The characters are dark and broody. The history of the town is—you guessed it—dark and troubled. And that absolutely works for this story. I loved this atmospheric read—but I have no desire to visit Four Corners.

Christine Lynn Herman was born in NYC but raised in Honk Kong and Japan. The Devouring Gray is her new novel.

(Galley courtesy of Disney-Hyperion via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Lovestruck, by Kate Watson

lovestruck
Image belongs to Flux Books.

Title:  Lovestruck
Author:  Kate Watson
Genre:  YA, fantasy
Rating:  4 out of 5

Kali is sixteen and convinced the Fates control everything, so what’s the point of even trying? That’s not a good attitude for a cupid-in-training, but Kali wants to be a Muse, so she’s phoning it in anyway. Until she breaks the cardinal rule for cupids—don’t poke yourself with the arrow—and falls in love with Ben, her hot, mortal target.

The God of Love is going to kill her—even if he is her dad.

Desperate to escape her fate, Kali will do anything to reverse the unbreakable spell: sneak out to see the Oracle, defy the gods (and the big-G-Gods), help her mentor…all while dating the (mortal) love of her life and trying not to break her best friend Hector’s heart.

The Fates have nothing on her.

Lovestruck is a quick read, and I really enjoyed it. I love the idea of the gods of mythology having jobs and lives and interacting with humans, and the cupid set-up is great—and makes just as much sense as falling in love possibly can. Despite being the daughter of a big-G-God, Kali’s feelings and thoughts are entirely human—and entirely teenage. Why am I here? What’s the point of life? Is that a cute boy? I thoroughly enjoyed all the characters and would love to read more set in this world.

Kate Watson was born in Canada and now lives in Arizona. Lovestruck is her newest novel.

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

Blog Tour for Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan and Author Interview

WickedSaints_BlogTourBanner_AFTER 4.2

Today I am happy to be a part of the blog tour for Wicked Saints, by Emily A. Duncan, which hits stores today! I have a quick interview with the author, then a review of Wicked Saints, which you should definitely go read if you enjoy dark, atmospheric books with complex mythology and magic systems.

Emily A. Duncan
Emily A. Duncan

Author Interview

Q: Tell me a little bit about Wicked Saints.

A:  Tired monastery girl who can talk to the gods! Anxious morally dubious blood mage boy! Exhausted traumatized prince! An assassination plan! A holy war! Eldritch gods! Lots and lots of blood!

Q: Where did your inspiration come for writing Wicked Saints?

A:  Video games and metal music! Specifically, Skyrim in regards to the video games, but it was also fueled by my deep love for metal.

Q:  What is your absolute favorite, read over-and-over again, book?

A:  I mean, I’m very vocal about how much I love the Grisha trilogy, but to answer this slightly differently, the book I’ve reread the most is Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis.

Wicked Saints_Cover FINAL
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Wicked Saints
Author:   Emily A. Duncan
Genre:  Fantasy
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Nadya is a cleric who can commune with all the gods—unheard of—living in a remote monastery. Kalyazin has been at war with Tranavia for a long time, but the war has never touched the monastery. Until it does, in the form of Tranavian soldiers led by Serefin, High Prince and blood mage. As her friends die around her, Nadya escapes into the wilderness.

She meets Malachiasz, a defector with dark secrets that Nadya isn’t sure she can trust. But Nadya’s powers may be the only thing standing in the way of destruction, so she heads to the seat of Tranavian power, desperate to find a way to stop it. Serefin, used to drinking and fighting, has been called home by his father, but Serefin finds the king in the midst of a horrifying scheme to gain immortality and ultimate power.

Nadya, Serefin, and Malachiasz will have to trust each other if they have any hope of stopping the coming darkness.

Wicked Saints is dark and atmospheric, with a creepy and cold setting reminiscent of Russia. The magic systems are dark and bloody, and there aren’t a lot of happy feelings in this book. I was fascinated from the first page, although I wouldn’t recommend reading it if you’re depressed at the time. Treachery, hatred, lies, deceit…all run through the pages of this novel like blood, until you can’t see what’s coming next.

Emily A. Duncan is a youth services librarian. Wicked Saints is her new novel, the first in the Something Dark and Holy series.

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

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.)

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.)