Tag: fantasy

Book Review: Ruthless Gods, by Emily A. Duncan

ruthless gods
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Ruthless Gods
AuthorEmily A. Duncan
Genre:  Fantasy
Rating:  5 out of 5

Nadya doesn’t trust her magic anymore. Serefin is fighting off a voice in his head that doesn’t belong to him. Malachiasz is at war with who–and what–he’s become.

As their group is continually torn apart, the girl, the prince, and the monster find their fates irrevocably intertwined. They’re pieces on a board, being orchestrated by someone… or something. The voices that Serefin hears in the darkness, the ones that Nadya believes are her gods, the ones that Malachiasz is desperate to meet―those voices want a stake in the world, and they refuse to stay quiet any longer.

A lot of second novels are less impressive than the books they follow, but Emily A. Duncan’s Ruthless Gods is not one of them! This novel continues the story of Nadya, Malachiasz, Serefin, and the rest of their friends. It’s dark, cold, and compelling.

There’s a lot of blood, violence, and despair here, but there is also hope, albeit a tiny, trembling flame. The characters finally start to realize—truly realize—that what they’ve always thought to be truth may not necessarily be so, Compelling, mesmerizing, riveting…whatever your synonym of choice for “I couldn’t put this down!” is, Ruthless Gods is it.

Emily A. Duncan is a New York Times bestselling author. Ruthless Gods, her newest novel, is the second book in the Something Dark and Holy series.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour: Night of the Dragon, by Julie Kagawa

night of the dragon blog tour

night of the dragon
Image belongs to Inkyard Press.

Title:  Night of the Dragon
AuthorJulie Kagawa
Genre:  Fantasy
Rating:  5 out of 5

All is lost.

To save everyone she loves from imminent death, kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko gave up the final piece of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. Now she and her ragtag band of companions must make one desperate final effort to stop the Master of Demons from using the scroll to call the Great Kami Dragon and make the wish that will plunge the empire into chaos.

Shadow clan assassin Kage Tatsumi has regained control of his body and agreed to a true deal with the devil—the demon inside him, Hakaimono. They will share his body and work with Yumeko to stop a madman, and to separate Hakaimono from Tatsumi and the cursed sword that trapped the demon for nearly a millennium.

But even with their combined skills and powers, this unlikely team of heroes knows the forces of evil may be impossible to overcome. And there is another player in the battle for the scroll, a player who has been watching, waiting for the right moment to pull strings that no one even realized existed…until now.

Julie Kagawa is one of those authors that I just know when I pick up a book she wrote, I’m going to be enthralled. The Shadow of the Fox series is no exception, and Night of the Dragon was a fantastic conclusion to this story.

The stakes kept getting higher and higher with every new scene and the challenges seemed ever more impossible. Yumeko is a lovely character who truly discovers her strength in this novel—and embraces it. Tatsumi is one of the best conflicted characters I’ve ever read—I mean, he shares his body with a demon—and his struggles are vividly rendered. The culture truly makes this story sing, and I loved every page of this novel!

Julie Kagawa is the New York Times bestselling author of the Iron Fey, Blood of Eden, Talon, and Shadow of the Fox series. She was born in Sacramento, California.

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

Book Review: The Immortal Conquistador, by Carrie Vaughn

the immortal conquistador
Image belongs to Tachyon Publications.

Title:  The Immortal Conquistador
AuthorCarrie Vaughn
Genre:  Urban fantasy
Rating:  4 out of 5

Set in the world of Kitty Norville…

Ricardo de Avila—now called Rick—would have followed Coronado anywhere. Yes, that Coronado, the conquistador. But Coronado never found what he sought—and Rick found immortality as a turned-against-his-will vampire.

Five hundred years later, Rick has spent his life going against the immortal grain. While he at first thought he was the only self-named-demon in existence—so ignorant of the truth he didn’t even know he was called vampire—now he keeps to himself and protects his mortal family. He’s spent his days as a bartender, helped a legendary gunslinger, appointed himself Master of Santa Fe, and now discovered a church hidden under the Vatican.

Immortal life is no piece of cake.

It’s been years since I read any of the Kitty books (Looking back, it seems I stopped reading after book six). I enjoyed them, and I have no idea why I stopped reading, so this was run return to that world. I love how different Rick is from traditional or more-popular vampire tropes. He’s a loner, and he’s fine with that. He didn’t even know what he was, thinking himself a demon, but drama and trouble seem to dog his steps. A quick, fun read.

Carrie Vaughn is a bestselling author. The Immortal Conquistador is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Master of Sorrows, by Justin Call

master of sorrows
Image belongs to Blackstone Publishing.

Title:  Master of Sorrows
AuthorJustin Call
Genre:  Fantasy
Rating:  4 out of 5

Annev de Breth isn’t like the other students in his class. Seventeen years ago, in the village of Chaenbalu, he was believed to executed for the taint he was born with—proven by his partially-missing arm—and raised by those who killed his parents. Now he’s struggling to become one of the Academy’s warrior-thieves, along with all the other boys who were stolen from their families years ago.

And Annev doesn’t know his own history.

Raised by his priestly mentor, who doesn’t believe magic is bad—unlike those surrounding him, who believe it evil—and with his missing arm disguised, Annev struggles with remaining true to himself and his friends—or stepping into his future as a master at the Academy. Will he do as the masters ask, betraying his friends and murdering a man to prove his abilities, or will he finally learn the truth of who he is?

While Master of Sorrows had some cliched elements—a young orphan raised by a wise mentor who has secret magical abilities—it’s actually a unique take on this trope. Annev is a conflicted character, and he struggles with this conflict between his childhood dreams of becoming one of the Academy’s masters and what his mentor teaches him throughout the book. The friendships are real and believable, and the action just worked for me, making this a book I finished in one sitting.

Justin Call has been making up stories since he was five. Master of Sorrows is his debut novel.

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

Book Review: Highfire, by Eoin Colfer

highfire
Image belongs to HarperCollins.

Title:  Highfire
AuthorEoin Colfer
Genre:  Fantasy
Rating:  4 out of 5

Vern was once Wyvern, Lord Highfire of the Highfire Eyrie, but now he hides out in a fishing cabin in the Louisiana swamp, subsisting on vodka and entertaining himself by watching Flashdance and Netflix. He’s the last of his kind, and no amount of vodka can drown the loneliness of his life and the sadness of the end of his glory days. Until he meets Squib Moreau, a local swamp rat doing the best he can to make his momma proud, even if that means working for a smuggler and witnessing a murder.

Squib wants to stay out of trouble and make enough money to pay off the debts his momma’s ex left them with—and move the two of them far, far away from Regence Hook, a local constable with an eye for his momma. But Hooke isn’t just a dirty cop. He’s also eyeball-deep with the local crime syndicate—and determined to destroy the witness to his crime—even if he must take down everyone in his path. Even a dragon.

This is not your typical dragon-disguised-as-a-human story. For one, Vern isn’t disguised. And who would imagine a dragon who loves Flashdance? Vern’s tough exterior is a mask for centuries of loss and strife, so it’s easy to see just why he has trust issues. Squib loves his mom enough to do anything for her, even when he lands in trouble over his head. This was a fun adventure story with a unique premise and a voice that fits the Louisiana swamp it’s set in.

Eoin Colfer lives in Ireland. He’s the author of the Artemis Fowl series. Highfire is his newest novel.

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

Blog Tour and Book Review: Cast in Wisdom, by Michelle Sagara

cast in wisdom
Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:  Cast in Wisdom
AuthorMichelle Sagara
Genre:  Fantasy
Rating:  5 out of 5

In the aftermath of the events in the High Halls, there are loose ends. One of those loose ends is the fieflord, Candallar. In an attempt to understand his involvement—with the Barrani, with the High Court, and with the much hated Arcanum—Kaylin has been sent to the fiefs.

 She has mixed feelings about this. There’s nothing mixed about her feelings when she discovers a very unusual building in the border zone between two fiefs, and far more questions are raised than are answered. Her attempt to get answers leads her back to the Imperial Palace and its resident Dragon librarian, the Arkon.

 Things that were lost in the dim past were not, perhaps, destroyed or obliterated—and what remains appears to be in the hands of a fieflord and his allies—allies who would like to destroy Kaylin’s friends, the Emperor, and possibly the Barrani High Court itself. This is bad.

 What’s worse: The librarian who hates to leave his library has a very strong interest in the things that might, just might, have been preserved, and—he is leaving his library to do in person research, no matter what Kaylin, the Hawks, or the Emperor think.

 He is not the only one. Other people are gathering in the border zone; people who believe knowledge is power. But power is also power, and it might be too late for the Empire’s most dedicated Historian—and Kaylin and her friends, who’ve been tasked with his safety.

As always, I love the books in this series! I feel like Kaylin, with her fierce desire to help others, tendency to speak—and act—without thinking, and ability to find trouble even when not looking for it, could be me. The relationships in this series grow deeper and more complex with every novel, and the world and cultures more vibrant. I was eager to see where this adventure led—and of course it did not disappoint! Highly recommended!

Michelle Sagara is the author of The Chronicles of Elantra. Cast in Wisdom is the newest—and fifteenth—book in the series.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/MIRA in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Night Country, by Melissa Albert

the night country
Image belongs to Flatiron Books.

Title:  The Night Country
Author:  Melissa Albert
Genre:  YA, fantasy
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Alice Proserpine escaped the Hinterland with her friend Finch’s help and returned to the “real world” and her life there, without Finch. But being back among the normal isn’t everything Alice remembers. Her mother misses the magic, too, but her longing for a closeness with her daughter is more than Alice can give right now.

Especially when others from the Hinterland keep ending up dead—and missing body parts. And everyone thinks Alice is to blame—except her friend Sophia and her mom. But Alice is determined to find out who is killing Stories, no matter where she must go and who she is up against.

I think I liked The Night Country even more than The Hazel Wood. These are dark stories about dark fairy tales and the prose is mesmerizing—and dark—enchanting the reader with every turn. Alice is an awkward character at best, but you love her all the same, and the mystery and magic from the Hinterland is dark, terrifying, and fascinating.

Melissa Albert is an editor and an author. The Night Country is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Starborn, by Katie MacAlister

starborn
Image belongs to Kensington Books.

Title:  Starborn
AuthorKatie MacAlister
Genre:  Fantasy
Rating:  4 out of 5

After all the danger, fighting, and wars, peace now reigns in the seven lands of Alba. But Allegria and Hallow want to rescue their friend Deo, trapped in the shadowlands of Eris. And to do that , they need the three moonstones hidden years before.

As they search for the moonstones, they realize things aren’t quite as peaceful as they seem. Their captain—lifebound for many long years—warns them against heading to Eris by ship, but they are determined to rescue their friend. Even if it means their own deaths.

The banter and snarky humor make this a fun read, but I did feel some of the action was a bit rushed. I enjoyed the read, but it wasn’t as engrossing as the first one was, although if you need a dose of snarky humor and sarcasm, this is a sure bet.

Katie MacAlister is a best-selling author. Starborn is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: A Spell of Murder, by Kennedy Kerr

a spell of murder
Image belongsto Bookouture.

Title:  A Spell of Murder
Author:   Kennedy Kerr
Genre:  Mystery, fantasy
Rating:  4.0

Love’s Curiosities Inc. is a small shop full of odds and ends and curiosities that most people overlook. Temerity Love and her sister Tilda grew up there and now own it. Things have changed a bit since their parents owned the shop but magic still happens there. Tilda is a witch and Temerity is renowned for her ability to touch objects and see where they came from.

When a local schoolteacher is murdered by a poisoned cup of tea, an antique hand mirror is found nearby, and the local investigator asks for Temerity’s help finding the murder. Too bad his new protegee, grumpy out-of-towner Angus isn’t so open-minded. As Temerity starts asking questions, she’s determined to find out who killed the schoolteacher—with or without the help of the townspeople.

I really enjoyed this cozy mystery mixed with magic! The characters are unique and quirky, and the town was vibrantly alive, filled with a sense of history and stories lurking around every corner. The writing is solid, and I just sort of settled into this novel and enjoyed it.

Kennedy Kerr is an author with a love of all things Scottish. A Spell of Murder, the first book in the Lost Maidens Loch Mysteries, is her new novel.

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

Book Review: Whispers of Shadow & Flame, by L. Penelope

whispers of shadow & flame
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Whispers of Shadow & Flame
Author:   L. Penelope
Genre:  Fantasy
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

The mantle separates the kingdoms of Elsira and Lagrimar, fostering the divide between their peoples and strengthening the inequalities. But now the Mantle is on the verge of falling—meaning sweeping changes for both lands.

Kyara has deadly magic that she can’t control. She was forced to become an assassin but searches desperately for a way to escape her bondage. Her task is capturing the legendary Shadowfox, but when she learns his true identity, she knows she can’t bring him to her master.

Darvyn is the most powerful Earthsinger in generations, but he’s not infallible. He hasn’t saved everyone, and he lives with that guilt every day. When he meets Kyara, he knows he shouldn’t trust her, but he’s drawn to her anyway—and the answers she holds to his past. Soon they learn that there is much more at stake than their own futures—and they must work together if they are to save both kingdoms.

Whispers of Shadows & Flame was compelling from the first page—although it doesn’t continue right where the first book left off, instead turning to different characters. The cultures are so rich and detailed, that I had no trouble picturing everything going on. I love this story and this world!

Penelope is an award-winning author. Whispers of Shadow & Flame is her newest novel.

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