In the near post-apocalyptic future, the skies are always gray and people are constantly searching for the sun. Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads. Ride On Author: Gwen Cole Publication Date: May 22, 2018 Publisher: Sky Pony Press Page Count: 280 Format: eARC Genre: Young Adult, […]
Tag: Young Adult
In the ancient moors of Scotland, the king of Calidon lies on his deathbed, cursed by a ring that cannot be removed from his finger. When a mysterious fey stranger appears to save the king, he also carries a secret that could tear the royal […]
Sixteen-year-old Rags is the most feared Rustler in the world, and for good reason. When she’s not raiding the post-Yellowstone Kingdom’s established settlements for supplies to keep her frontier, Rondo, alive another day, she’s fending off witch hunt-happy villagers who want her rare blue eyes in an unmarked grave.
Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.
Series: Snow Spark Saga #1
Author: Kathryn Lee Martin
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Publisher: Parliament House Press
Page Count: ---
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Westerns
Cover Artist: ---
My Rating: ★★★★
16-year-old Rags is a wanted rustler. In the city of Hydra, she works her magic to steal supplies for her settlement of Rondo. Rondo has suffered greatly after being cut off from the kingdom’s supplies after publicly denouncing the tyrant King Hyperion. When Rags witnesses other rustlers being tortured in the city for doing the same job, Rags experiences real fear for the first time. Luckily, her mentor Tracker finds her before she is recognized by anyone in Hydra, and the two flee back to Rondo. Little do they realize that they are being tailed by the king’s second-in-command.
Upon returning, Rags is met by another threat: Hunter, the town’s self-proclaimed sheriff. Always having hated Rags since she came to Rondo, he discloses to the townsfolk that Rags has a substantial reward out for her if she is brought in dead or alive to King Hyperion. Matthew, Jericho, and Tracker come to Rags’ aide and back her against Hunter’s accusations. Matthew, Rags’ dearest friend pleas for her to run away with him, so that she may escape whatever fate that lies before her if she continues to be a rustler.
Before they are able to leave, Rondo is invaded by the king’s guard, and Matthew is killed before Rags’ eyes. The king’s own second-in-command Henny leads the charge and is determined to destroy Rondo in just four days. Rags is forced into difficult situations, as she must try to help her loved ones escape the town before a spectacle is made of them to the entire kingdom.
Stakes are high and the clock ticks rapidly as Rags must not only fight an incredible resourceful opponent, but also steer clear of those who want to reap the bounty on her head. When she crosses paths with one of the Kingdom’s informant, Rags is challenged in even more ways, as her feelings try to take the reins above common sense.
When everything comes to a head, and the town is set to be “cleansed” via live broadcast, an unexpected turn of events throws King Hyperion’s plans back in his face. While some find sanctuary, Rags finds herself on a train with the wiry luresman, bound for the Threshing Floor and an uncertain fate before her.
All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.
“A petite trio of gray stone roses and a tiny pewter charm shaped like a rearing stag tethered together with elegant, braided leather cords rest in it. One rose in full bloom, one still a bud, and the third caught in-between. ‘ I’ve held onto these mythical bone roses for a long time. Sort of like a good-luck charm in a way. They hold the key to rare and powerful secrets, and well, I can’t think of anyone better I’d trust with them than you.’”
In all honesty, I barely skimmed the synopsis for this book before starting it. I knew that it was a Young Adult Fantasy with a Western flare, so I immediately wanted to give it a try. Boy, am I happy that I did! While I had some issues with certain elements in the plot, I found myself loving the characters and the world they were set in.
While The Bone Roses is in the YA genre, it’s definitely geared towards more mature readers, as some of its contents are harsh and in-your-face. Considering that the world is set in a post-apocalyptic West in the United States, it comes with the territory. This book felt reminiscent of The Wolves of Winter, which I read earlier this year, and the arid isolation that the setting brought. Shockingly, even though The Bone Roses is set in the West, the climate doesn’t reflect the traditional desert hotness the West is known for. This is particularly reflected in the settlement of Rondo, where the main character Rags resides.
“People used to drive everywhere, so I’m told, but when Yellowstone erupted thirty years ago and the snow started to fall, that came to a halt.”
I’m not sure why, but portraying the West blanketed with snow instead of dust, tumbleweeds, and cacti were incredibly submersive to me.
Set in an era thirty years after Yellowstone erupts, the United States as it was once known as has been completely reformed. A cruel king known as Hyperion takes over and establishes his reign over the entire region. Small settlements situated in the surrounding area know hardship—especially those that choose to not bow down to the king. Rondo has long been cut-off from the supplies that Adonis, the capital city, has to offer. In order to survive, Rustlers (outlaws) risk their lives in order to steal supplies for the town’s survival. If caught, the punishment for rustling leads to a brutal death.
“‘Solstice.’ That settlement sits at the heart of ‘forbidden’ things in our household. Unlike Rondo’s miserable past, Tracker spared no words when warning me about the lewd settlement just outside the Kingdom’s capital city, Adonis.
Liquor flows freely. Cheap whores are plentiful. It’s supposedly so far in bed with Adonis that it’s impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins.”
The old-time western towns that we are accustomed to aren’t completely lost beneath a layer of snow, however. Many of these settlements reflect those of the past and “safe” isn’t a term that’s thrown around.
Another aspect which murmurs the Old West is the presence of Christianity. While it’s something that Hyperion tries to outlaw, Rondo is basically governed by the town preacher, Jericho. While Christianity doesn’t play as massive of a role as perhaps was intended, it is worth mentioning especially when looking further into the dynamics between Rags and the troublesome Hunter. Hunter, the town sheriff, constantly accuses Rags of being a witch (off of what basis, it’s never really revealed other than her having rare blue eyes and the fact that she’s an outsider.) While is accusations felt quite random for the plot focus, it definitely created an atmosphere that felt like the people of Rondo were ticking time bombs.
Pacing & Readability
Because of the way the story is set up, the plot felt more character-driven than plot-driven. While there are events that take place, the characters stories and relationships always remain in the spotlight. Because of this, I felt that at times the plot would lose its focus in minor details for longer than necessary, and halted plot progression. While the writing style made it very enjoyable to read, these variations in pacing gave it a start-go quality.
Point-Of-View & Characters
“I am Rags, Rondo’s rustler and we will never bow to his Kingdom.”
Rags, a sixteen-year-old girl is a protagonist in The Bone Roses. The point-of-view is told from her perspective and helps the reader become acquainted with her unique character. With a somewhat quirky but strong presence, Rags’ story immediately grabs the reader’s attention. Often accompanied by her mule Nigel, she serves as one of Rondo’s main and feared Rustlers. While I really wanted to get to know more about her backstory, I appreciated how real Rags’ character came across. While she’s strong, she’s also realistic and sensitive. What she feels and experiences is very relatable for many readers.
Tracker is the mentor and the “adoptive” father of Rags. A mysterious man with a complicated past, he takes Rags under his wing when she first arrives in Rondo.
Matthew, preacher’s son is Rags’ dearest friend. While I first presumed their relationship to be romantic, it proves to be oddly platonic, as their interactions are flirty.
Jericho serves as Rondo’s preacher and is also Matthew’s father. As the town’s preacher, he often oversees how the town goes about settling issues and confronting problems. Along with Tracker, he is one of the few supporters of Rags against the rest of the superstitious townsfolk.
Sadie’s character doesn’t have a large role. However, she’s mentionable as she serves as a mother-figure to Rags.
There are more than one antagonists in The Bone Roses.
1. Hyperion, the evil king who has long since abandoned Rondo to fend for itself.
2. Hennrick Oreson aka “Henny”
“A dangerous young man, Rags. The Kingdom’s own second-in-command, Henrick Oreson, or “Henny” as some call him. You are never to cross paths with him. Understood?”
Known as the second-in-command to Hyperion himself, Henny’s job is to seek out rustlers and anyone trying to defy the king and his ways.
“I’ve been hunted before. It comes with the job. But I’ve never been hunted by someone like him. No one’s ever stupid enough to give a rustler the advantage. He’s far from stupid, though. The way he toys with me confirms that. He’s doing this intentionally, letting me turn all the tricks I know for his amusement. He doesn’t just think he can win. He knows it.”
Henny’s character as the antagonist is fantastic. While you want so badly to dislike him, there’s just something about him that makes the reader believe there is more to him than meets the eye. Is he really as bad as he seems? The dynamics between him and Rags are electric as the two are constantly trying to out-do one another.
And can I just mention…Xanthos!?
I was swooning over this horse more than anything else.
3. Lawrence aka “Hunter” serves as Rondo’s sheriff. This guy has a severe case of bad-cop to his swagger. He blatantly hates Rags because she has blue eyes and isn’t originally from Rondo. Discriminatory, much? Because she arrived in Rondo around the time that Hyperion stopped the supply trains to Rondo, he blames Rags for practicing witchcraft and being the reason why Rondo suffers so. His hatred is completely blind and is a good example of a person who fails to look deeper than the surface.
4. Colton, a character who shows up later on the scene, is another antagonist-type character that the reader can’t really peg down and who his allegiance lies with. Is he good? Is he bad? He works as a luresman–a person highly skilled in the art of negotiation. The mystery of his true intentions make his character frustrating, yet incredibly engaging throughout the entire plot.
A strong sense of family and belonging is evident at every turn. Rags constantly worries about her hypothetical mother, father, and brother figures, and feels a strong need to protect them. While no information is given about her biological family, Rags’ relationship with her Rondonian family is strong and unbreakable, even when secrets are revealed about their pasts.
⇒ Cleansing or Purification
Hyperion doesn’t take kindly to those who disobey his commands. It’s rather ironic how he terms his punishment for rebels, especially in the sense of religion. His form of “cleansing” is allowing rebel settlements like Rondo starve, and then be brutally treated once captured by his army. His cleansing results in death, instead of bringing forth a purified life, as Christianity does. Seeing how the religion is outlawed, he transforms this term into something sinister instead of revitalizing.
Hardship is an obvious theme in a post-apocalyptic world such as this. Each day is a struggle. Everything is fighting against Rags, the Rustlers, and the Rondonians in their survival. The king, the terrain, the climate, the lifestyle all reflect the realness of their plight.
Things that I liked:
⇒ The atmosphere and the way the “Old West” is portrayed.
⇒ Despite a few flaws, I loved the characters and the voices and personalities that developed for each one. It made character-driven plot all-the-more dynamic and enjoyable.
⇒ The author’s writing style and descriptiveness.
⇒ This is a personal preference because I’m a horse person, but Martin knows how to write scenes involving horses! In a Western book, knowing how to portray horse characters is key because they majorly influence the plot mobilization. She writes them correctly down to the swiveling of the ears.
Things that I didn’t like:
⇒ The amount of vulgarity.
⇒ The plot’s tendency to dwell on insignificant points at times.
⇒ Christianity didn’t have the best portrayal and felt more of a “fall-back-on” asset than a focal attribute for how the characters act and react.
⇒ Very little backstory for Rags is given.
⇒ Hyperion, the main antagonist is nonexistent other than the presence of Henny and the K.C.
⇒ While I loved the mythical white stag which kept appearing, I want to know why and what its purpose is!
⇒ I’d love more information on the bone roses themselves and what secrets they hold!
I really enjoyed this book and the style in which it was written. While there were a few issues that I had with it, but I cannot be too critical. A sequel has yet to be published in the Snow Spark Saga, Garden of Ashes. I am very much looking forward to seeing what happens next, and to learn more about the characters’ journeys and also some history (especially Rags!)
Vulgarity: A lot. I counted 227 words total.
Sexual content: Kissing.
Violence: Quite a bit. It is a Western…
Release Day, May 1, 2018! In the beginning, there was silence. Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads. Song of Blood & Stone Series: Earthsinger Chronicles #1Author: L. PenelopePublication Date: May 1, 2018Publisher: St. Martin’s PressPage Count: 384Format: eARCGenre: Young Adult, Fantasy, RomanceCover Artist: —My Rating: Since […]
Being a Prince, J'ahalid is no stranger to the fact that his kingdom requires protecting. When he Sees the Dragon Riders of Torvald, he knows that dragons are the answer to his problems.
Prince Of The South
Author: Ava Richardson
Publication Date: July 2017
Publisher: Relay Publishing
Page Count: ---
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Short-Story
Cover Artist: Shardel
My Rating: ★★½
“I wanted such a dragon. Why should only the kings of Torvald have such power? Why should our kingdom be lacking?”
Prince J’ahalid Mudin Dar Awil of the South Kingdom immediately desires dragons for his kingdom when he sees the dragon riders of Torvald midflight. Knowing that his kingdom is constantly threatended by others, he takes it into his own hands to protect his family and people.
Traveling towards the mountains along the old spice route, J’ahalid catches a glimpse of the mountain dragons. Desperate to capture some for himself, he risks his life to travel up the mountain during a sandstorm. Nearly losing his life due to his arrogance, he’s saved by non other than that which he seeks: a dragon and her rider.
“Dragons are friends–you do not use your friends.”
Samir of the Binshee Tribe, and her fellow dragon Toolon save J’ahalid from the trechery of the sandstorm. In doing so, they learn who he is and what he’s looking for. J’ahalid quickly learns that dragons are not animals to be conquered and tamed. They deserve respect and choose their riders themselves. These lessons do well for J’ahalid, as his immature and rather unlikeable character is humbled.
Deciding to stay in the mountains with Samir and the dragons, J’ahalid learns the ways of the dragons and how to form proper relationships with them.
“I have learned a dragon’s heart, and some things are more important than land and kingdoms. Tesh has taught me that. I see now why the dragons saved your people but let the city burn. That was the wise choice. For cities can be rebuilt. Buildings are jusst empty shells without people. And that is what drives me back–I must see my parents again.”
Overall, this was an alright read. The dialogue is written in what feels like a vernacular, so it’s hard to settle into the characters and their interactions as they feel clunky and unnatural. Granted, this is a short story, so the writing is definitely more to the point. However, I thought this was an area that could have used much improvement.
Sexual content: None.
THE PLOT THICKENS as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with […]
Wheels Gone Cats
PUBLISHER: PARLIAMENT HOUSE PRESS
In a future where violence is encouraged and duels are required by law, Dathin Long has the answer: devolution. He proposes a medical procedure that will restore humanity to the state of primal bliss—to pure reptilian instinct, before guilty consciences intruded. When a boy’s grandmother is admitted to the hospital for pneumonia, he learns the procedure will be forced upon her. To save her, the boy enlists the help of Lee Bellows, a member of the hospital staff, to search the records and find his grandmother. But the deeper Lee looks, the more horrible things he finds, until the controllers start looking back at him. His conscience needs adjusting, and soon the procedure may be forced upon him. In a flooded New Orleans in the end days, the only hope is a hero who’s lost his memory and is just trying to get by…
Beaird Glover grew up on a farm in rural Tennessee. He graduated from The Evergreen State College of Olympia, Washington, with a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing. He then moved to Southern California and wrote Secret Ciphers of the 1876 Presidential Election (Aegean Park Press). He has traveled extensively and lived in eleven of the United Sates, and Taipei and Buenos Aires. His poems have been published in the New York Quarterly and his chapbook of poetry was selected by the Austin Chronicle as one of the Top 10 Best of 1994. More recently, he acquired a Bachelor of Science degree from Long Island University in Brooklyn and has worked as a physician assistant. Beaird lives in New Orleans with his wife Kim and their cats.
Of Stars and Monsters (Of Light and Darkness #3)
PUBLISHER: PARLIAMENT HOUSE PRESS
After narrowly surviving a near-death experience from yet another showdown with Aiden Price and the Light, Charlotte awakens inside the forsaken, crumbling walls of the Regime Palace. Though she finds herself surrounded by her closest friends, she is conflicted by her feelings for the sudden absence of her Vampire guardian. Where has Francis taken Valek? With new friend Nikolai there to console her, Charlotte cannot shake the undeniable chemistry she feels for this familiar stranger. But they are running out of time. Charlotte’s peculiar ailment will return, and she will die unless they are successful in finding a cure. Charlotte, Nikolai, Sarah, and the rest of their tribe of misfits travel to the underbelly of Prague to search for Valek, but what they discover are secrets darker than they could have ever imagined. Charlotte must overcome her mortal limitations to save the life of the one she truly loves and escape the gates of Abelim with her throat intact in this enthralling, highly-anticipated third installment of the Of Light and Darkness Series.
With over a decade of experience in the entertainment and publishing industries, Shayne Leighton is a creative professional with edge and quirkiness. Her debut novel, Of Light and Darkness hit Amazon's coveted Top 100 overall bestsellers list once during the fall of 2015, and again in the summer of 2016, reaching the #4 spot. Having a background in film science, Shayne has produced book trailers and marketing materials for New York Times bestselling authors and major publishers such as Cynthia Leitich Smith (Tantalize, Candlewick Press), Alex Flinn (Towering, Harper Teen), and Kimberley Griffiths Little (When The Butterflies Came, Scholastic Press). She strives to be the Guillermo del Toro of the publishing industry, knowing what works visually and creatively to make stories a stunning experience that is visual, just as it is intellectual. She spends most of her time working on things that excite her, drinking coffee, traveling to the Czech Republic where she always finds new inspiration, and discovering hole-in- the-wall bookstores and coffee shops on her random adventures. Shayne is a Libra and a Ravenclaw. Her favorite book is The Night Circus (though soon it may be Six of Crows). Her wand is made out of Hazel wood with a Unicorn hair core 12 1/4" long and reasonably supple flexibility. Her patronus is a robin.
Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets… and secrets hide in every shadow. Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads. Ace Of Shades Series: The Shadow Game #1Author: Amanda FoodyPublication Date: April 10, 2018Publisher: Harlequin TeenPage Count: 416Format: eARCGenre: Young […]
Garden of Ashes (Snow SPark Saga #2) PUBLISHER: PARLIAMENT HOUSE PRESS Synopsis It’s the one place no rustler ever wants to end up. Having survived Rondo’s destruction, sixteen-year- old Rags has been taken captive by the Kingdom and sentenced to ‘rehabilitation’ at the Kingdom’s Threshing […]
My name is Christy Snow. I’m seventeen and I’m about to die. Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads. Identity Series: Eyes Wide Open #1Author: Ted DekkerPublication Date: December 26, 2012Publisher: Outlaw StudiosPage Count: 66Format: ebookGenre: Young Adult, Christian Fiction, Mystery, ThrillerMy Rating: ★★★½ “Christy was familiar […]
Six months alone in the labyrinth has made her strong. But the search for the exit means gambling on an old ‘friend’ and going against everything she’s been taught to survive. Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads. Children of Daedala Series: Children of Icarus #2 Author: […]
Release Day April 3, 2018!
Triplet queens born on the island of Fennbirn can be many things: Elementals. Poisoners. Naturalists. If an oracle queen is born, however, one with the gift of sight, she’s immediately drowned, extinguishing her chance at ever taking the throne. But that’s not how it always was. This cautionary practice started long ago, with Queen Elsabet—the legendary, and last, oracle queen—whose reign was tinged with blood and horror.
Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.
Series: Three Dark Crowns #0.1
Author: Kendare Blake
Publication Date: April 3, 2018
Page Count: 120
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Novella
Cover Artist: ---
My Rating: ★★★
The three queens of Fennbirn, Mirabella, Arsinoe, and Katharine, had grown up on the tales of the previous queens. One tale in particular always stood out–the last Oracle Queen Elsabet. Known for her madness and ultimately bloody reign, the truth behind her tale is more devious and tragic that one can imagine.
“Was it not also me who warned you that a queen is only as good as her advisers?” “Yes.” She crooked her mouth at him. “But you were wrong. That may be true of other queens, but an oracle queen is only as good as her gift.”
I’ve been anticipating this novella for quite. The Oracle Queen, mentioned several times throughout the Three Dark Crowns series, has remained an aloof point of intrigue. So, I dove into this story, devouring each page, and looking for…something more than I found.
Politics have always played a big role in this series–and the politics are often muddied with deceit and corruption. 500 years earlier…nothing has changed. While there are five abilities represented instead of the three prominent abilities between Mirabella, Arsinoe, and Katherine, there is all-the-more treachery at work between the groups. While I expected this aspect to play a role in this story as well, I was also hoping for more of a fantasy element to be at work as well. Honestly, I felt a bit let down with the way everything panned out, and the truth is revealed behind Queen Elsabet’s story.
Despite that fact, the interworkings between the different groups were interesting to see. There was a lot more openness between the groups in terms of friendships and working together. Elsabet, a Sight-gifted queen was close friends with the War-gifted Rosemund. Whereas, 500 years later, friendships between people of different gifts was taboo.
Handsome, they called her. She was a queen of presence, they said. She hoped it was true. With such a homely face, it was all she could aspire to.
Queen Elsabet wasn’t what I was expecting. Although, I’m not really sure what I was expecting. While she was a queen, and a young one at that, she was constantly worried about her vanity–to the point of paranoia. This was her weakest quality that guided her to not always make the best decisions.
While this was a decent short story, I was just hoping for it to have more to it. The way everything happened was much more predictable than I had expected.
Sexual content: There are references, but nothing in detail.