Tag: Fantasy

eARC Review: The Bone Roses by Kathryn Lee Martin

eARC Review: The Bone Roses by Kathryn Lee Martin

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 […]

eARC Mini Review: Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

eARC Mini Review: Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

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 […]

Blog Tour and Author Interview: Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope

Blog Tour and Author Interview: Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope

Song of Blood & Stone

Earthsinger Chronicles: Book One

By L. Penelope

Synopsis

From the very first pages of her debut, L. Penelope delivers as a new force in the fantasy genre. The first book in the historical fantasy Earthsinger series was originally self-published, earning a quick fan base, the Black Caucus of the American Library Association Self-Publishing Award and a starred Publishers Weekly review calling it a “fantastic opening to a promising series”. Now traditionally published to kick off the new series, SONG OF BLOOD & STONE (St. Martin’s Press; May 1, 2018) is a treacherous, thrilling, epic fantasy about an outcast drawn into a war between two powerful rulers. With the world building of Brandon Sanderson, the romance of Ilona Andrews, the epic quest of Lord of the Rings, and the doomed star-crossed love of Romeo & Juliet, the start of the Earthsinger series has something to keep any reader entranced for books to come.
Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive--an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.

Jack's mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it's people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda's Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps.

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation. The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.

As a reader, it’s not common to come across a truly original world, but Penelope manages to do just that in SONG OF BLOOD & STONE. In the vein of Brandon Sanderson’s Way of Kings, Penelope “shines a bright light into epic fantasy” (Booklist) and bridges the gap between the world of romance and fantasy. Inspired by religion and folklore, Penelope develops the start to what will be a series that will take readers by a storm.

SONG OF BLOOD & STONE
Earthsinger Chronicles, Book One
By L. Penelope
Published by St. Martin’s Press
**On Sale May 1, 2018**
Hardcover | $26.99

ISBN: 9781250148070| Ebook ISBN: 9781250148087
For more information or to set up an interview with the author, contact:
Brittani Hilles at brittani.hilles@stmartins.com or 646-307-5558

“This debut, which won the Black Caucus of the American Library Association Self-Publishing Award, shines a bright light
into epic fantasy. Battle-scarred lands and peoples, ancient powers at war, star-crossed loves and hints of racial and

refugee themes gives this a solid place on library shelves.”
—Library Journal, STARRED review

“Penelope parallels our own world, exploring a refugee crisis and race relations with emotion and nuance…Fresh,
suspenseful, and perceptive, Penelope’s first in a new series will appeal to historical-fantasy readers, especially fans of

N. K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.”

—Booklist

“”Penelope delivers an engrossing story with delightful characters in this fantastic opening to a promising series.”

—Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

“L. Penelope’s page-turning apocalyptic epic SONG OF BLOOD & STONE does what fantasy does best: provide epic plots,

epic world-building and epic myth. A rewarding, carefully crafted read.”

—The Root

1. What inspired you to write this series? What came first: The characters or the world? What was your inspiration for the magic of Earthsong? Were you inspired by other books? Movies?

 

When I first wrote this book, up until the time I gave it to my first editor, I thought it was going to be a
novella. It was always meant to be a fairytale-esque story of a girl’s journey from the margins of society
straight to its upper echelons. The characters Jack and Jasminda were there before the world was ever
clear in my mind. The first scene I wrote was the one where they meet in front of her cabin. I knew they
were from different, warring countries and they came from very different sorts of lives, but that was all.
Through the magic of revision (lots and lots of revision) I discovered the journey that the characters
would go on and all the conflicts they would face.

I love fantasy and there were so many inspiring series that I soaked in prior to writing the book, from
Graceling by Kristin Cashore to Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. But I think this book owes its biggest
inspiration to the Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta. Her fantasy world felt well realized and
complex, filled with incredibly detailed characters, groups, nations, and settings. But I also wanted to
write a kinder, gentler fantasy novel that wouldn’t double as a doorstopper. And mix in a really strong
romance like some of my favorites Nalini Singh or Kresley Cole.

 

2. What were your favorite scenes to write for SONG OF BLOOD AND STONE? What was the
hardest scene to write? Is there a scene or moment that really sticks with you?

 

Though Usher, Jack’s valet, spends relatively little time on the page, I loved writing the scenes with him
and Jack. When two characters have known each other for a long time, it can be really fun to play with
how to show their relationship. Usher has known Jack his entire life and so the way they interact is
unique. I also loved writing the visions that Jasminda gets from the stone. They were in a different voice,
from a totally different perspective and the peeked in on a vibrant, fully formed world that’s different to
the one of the main story. Hardest to write were the ones where Jasminda is confronted with the racism
and bias of Elsirans.

The scene that sticks with me is when Jack and Jasminda are in the army base and he sleeps on the
ground beside her, holding her hand. I find it really sweet and romantic.

 

3. What advice would you give aspiring authors, especially authors or color, striving to have their
stories and truths shared?

 

I would tell aspiring authors to really investigate your goals and be frank with yourself about why you
want to do this. It’s a difficult path emotionally, creatively, and professionally and what will get you
through the low points is being very clear about your “why”. It can also be incredibly rewarding, but
knowing what you’re getting yourself into is key.

Writing and publishing are two different disciplines. Your “why” will inform whether you pursue
traditional publishing or seek to self-publish. It will keep you going through rejections, delays, bad
reviews, disappointment, and the imposter syndrome that we all go through.

The other very important thing is to have a community to fall back on. Whether that’s a chapter of a
professional organization like RWA, SFWA, SCWBI, and others, or a Facebook group, critique group, or
writer’s circle, having others to commiserate and celebrate with you makes the journey much easier.

 

4. Is there a character in SONG OF BLOOD & STONE that you most relate to? How do you select
names of your characters?

 

I think Jasminda represents various aspects of myself both as I am and as I’d like to be. She’s definitely
bolder than I am, but her struggle to feel a part of things is one that I understand.

As for naming my characters, for each nation, I asked questions about how the names should generally
work. Things like: which prefixes and suffixes are common? Which letters and sounds are prevalent?
Which letters or sounds either don’t exist or are more rare? So the Elsirans have a lot of double vowels
in their names. Qs, Vs, and Zs are prominent, but there are no hard Cs.

Lagrimari names generally don’t use Js. I set up which suffixes were for men and women and the types
of sounds the names would have. There are only 9 last names in Lagrimar, corresponding with the
Houses. Jasminda as a name is an exception. Her parents didn’t follow the naming conventions of either
country for her or her brothers. Because their interracial relationship was unique, they wanted their
children’s names to be distinctive as well.

5. What do you most hope that readers take away from SONG OF BLOOD AND STONE?

I really just hope readers enjoy the story and the characters. Jasminda is a heroine that I had been
longing to see, so I hope people get as much joy and heartache from her story as I did when I wrote it.

6. Can you tell us more about the next books in the series? What are you working on now?

Book 2, WHISPERS OF SHADOW & FLAME, follows a parallel timeline to SONG. It’s about Darvyn, a character we hear about in SONG who was the Earthsinger responsible for disguising Jack. The disguise’s failure gets Jack captured and he wonders what happened to Darvyn. So in WHISPERS, we find out. But it also pushes the story forward, showing what’s going on in Lagrimar in the days before the Mantle comes down and setting up the next challenge that Jack, Jasminda, and Darvyn will face. Book 3, CRY OF METAL & BONE picks up the story of how Elsira and Lagrimar deal with the fall of the
Mantle and the new threat facing the nations.

I’m also working on a brand-new series with dragons.

7. What are your favorite books you would recommend to readers?

Among my favorites of all time are Wild Seed by Octavia Butler, The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay,
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover, Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor and Sheltered by Charlotte Stein. I could go on and on, but I’ll leave it there.

L. Penelope

Leslye Penelope has been writing since she could hold a pen and loves getting lost in the worlds in her head. She is an award-winning author of new adult, fantasy, and paranormal romance. She lives in Maryland with her husband and their furry dependents: an eighty-pound lap dog and an aspiring feral cat.

Fairy Tale Friday #6: The Glass Dog by L. Frank Baum

Fairy Tale Friday #6: The Glass Dog by L. Frank Baum

The Glass Dog By L. Frank Baum Lyman Frank Baum is not an unfamiliar name to many Americans. Best known for his very famous children’s book, The Wizard of Oz, Baum also wrote several other fairy tales, short stories, poems, and scripts throughout his lifetime. […]

Mini Book Review: Prince of the South by Ava Richardson

Mini Book Review: Prince of the South by Ava Richardson

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: […]

eARC Review: Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young

eARC Review: Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young

Release Day April 24, 2018!

OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.

Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.

Sky In The Deep

Author: Adrienne Young
Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Page Count: 352
Format: eARC
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Cover Artist: ---
My Rating: ★★★½

Eeyln is no stranger to battle. She’s been trained her entire life to defend herself, her family, and her clan against their rivals; the Riki. The Riki and Aska clans meet in battle every five years–a bloody tradition which began with the gods Thora and Sigr themselves. Each time, the battle claims many lives–including Eelyn’s brother, Iri. 

Or so she thought.

In the midst of yet another skirmish with the RIki, Eelyn happens upon her deceased brother. Thinking the Aska god, Sigr, sent her his spirit to defend her, everyone concludes that Eelyn was in Sigr’s favor. Eelyn, however, thinks otherwise. Unable to let the thought go that her long-lost brother may actually still be alive, Eelyn stalks the Riki, only to discover a painful truth. Not only that, but she is captured and taken as a slave by the Riki.

Unable to cope with the newfound knowledge that Iri still lives, but lives and fights with the enemy, Eelyn must discover empathy within herself in order to understand how her brother could end up across enemy lines. Through her own trials, Eelyn realizes that life isn’t always as it seems, and life can change within the blink of an eye.

Sky in the DeepSky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.

For a story with such a simple plot, Sky In The Deep still had a way of grabbing my attention. When I say simple, I mean that there aren’t numerous elements to remember, info dumps of world-building, or a multitude of characters to get to know. I also mean “simple” in a sense that there really is only one or two main focuses for the characters throughout the entire story. Because Sky In The Deep wasn’t overwhelmingly complex, it was easy to follow, direct, and made for a quick, yet engaging read.

I will say that I had hoped for more of the fantasy aspect to kick in (because this is considered to be a fantasy and not historical fiction) but it still had an interesting plot. The characters are the key and central focus and are what drives the story forward.

World Building

Not a large amount of detail is given on the actual location that this story takes place. The landscape shifts from a common battlefield between the fjords and the hills/mountains where the two warring tribes of the Aska and Riki reside. The climate resembles that of Northern European territory. A heavy winter season is present for the majority, if not all, of the story, and works against the main character at times. Basic political systems rule the tribes present in Sky In The Deep. Resembling an “eye for an eye” mentality, if someone wrongs another, it’s up to the people involved to settle the matter–as shone with Fiske and Thorpe.

This is supposed to be a Viking-influenced story. Considering that fact and historical evidence, the Viking age was between 800 – 1066 AD, so this is probably around the time frame that this plot is set. The lifestyles of the people are primitive and resemble that of earlier societal establishments. Comparing this book to actual Viking history is a bit of a stretch. While yes, there are definite parallels, its not like a historical fiction, where the lifestyles are described in depth and widely developed.

Three tribes or people groups are identified: the Aska, Riki, and Herja. Little information is given about the Herja, where they live, their motivations, etc., except for their cruel practices and human sacrifices they perform to their god (which remains unnamed.)

“What had started as a quarrel between the gods turned into the hunger for revenge–a blood feud. Every five years, we lost those we loved. And we spent the next five years counting the days to the moment we could make the Riki pay for our pain.”

The Aska and Riki both worship a different god. Sigr, the god of the Aska, is known as the god of the fjord. In Old Norse translations, Sigr means “victory” but shares no resemblance to any actual Norse gods.

“She’d tell the story of the Riki god Thora, who erupted from the mountain in fire and the flames that had come down to the fjord. Sigr had risen up from the sea to protect his people and every five years, we went back to battle to defend his honor, bound by the blood feud between us.”

Likewise, Thora, the god of the Riki, isn’t well defined. While it’s said that she “erupted from a mountain in fire,” it is unclear whether she is god of volcanoes, mountains, or even thunder? Thora is the female counterpart to Thor, the god of thunder in Norse mythology. However, it’s unclear what she is supposed to represent here. More information on these details would have really helped with boosting the fantasy aspect of the story, as it remained rather lacking in the department.

Both the Aska and the Riki have the same structural beliefs. When they die, they believe they travel to a heaven-like realm, referred to as Hylli (meaning “favor” in Old Norse), or Solbjørg (meaning “house of salvation” in Old Norse) depending on which tribe one was a part of. Once there, the dead are reunited with loved ones that had passed on before them. I’m mentioning this because it too, plays a large role in the plot. Eelyn, believing her brother Iri to be dead along with their mother, looks towards the day when they will be reunited. She and her father pray to idols of the two so that their souls may find their way in the afterlife. Death, in general, is a common occurrence within these tribes, as they are pit against one another every five years.

Pacing & Readability

I found Sky in the Deep easy to read. Moderately paced, the characters guide the reader through a shorter text, making the passage of time seem fluid and effortless.

Point-Of-View & Characters

The story is told from the perspective of Eelyn, the main character. This strong seventeen-year-old has grown up training for, and knowing battle. Understanding at a young age that life is tough, she’s adapted to understand and accept tragedy when it befalls her. Though, it doesn’t make it any less easy. After losing both her mother and older brother in clan wars and raids, she holds dear to her father and best friend Myra. However, when confronted by the ghost of her dead brother, she begins to second guess herself and everything that she believes she knows.

“I tried to remember who I was. Strong. Brave. Fierce. Sure. I tried to summon her to me–that Eelyn who would choose her people over anything else. I searched for her within myself, but she was different now. I was different. And it was something that was already done. Something I couldn’t change.”

Myra, Eelyn’s best friend and “sister” lost majority of her family at a young age. Because of that, her and Eelyn understand each other well. The two share a strong bond, and exemplify a beautiful image of friendship with how they support one another.

Both Iri and Fiske felt like similar characters. While they obviously played different roles, they didn’t feel as significant as they should have. I felt that their characters were underwhelming and underdeveloped. Similar to Eelyn and Myra’s friendship, I did appreciate how they too, represented a deep friendship and “brotherhood” together.

The main antagonists are the Riki (towards the beginning) and Herja clans to the Askas. To Eelyn, her own perspective and discriminations are also antagonists.

Major Themes

⇒ Betrayal

“Feeling that lighting strike in my soul. That Iri was alive. And not just alive. He’d betrayed us. All of us. The boy I’d shared my childhood with. The boy I’d fought side by side with. He was worse than any enemy. And the blood we shared was now poison in my veins.”

Betrayal is by far the biggest theme throughout Sky in the Deep. Believing her brother dead, Eelyn is dumbfounded when she comes across what she thought was her deceased brother on the battlefield. When she realizes that he’s fighting for the enemy tribe, the Riki, she follows him, but is captured and taken to be a slave with the Riki.

Not knowing how to handle his betrayal, Eelyn works through a series of emotions, trying to understand how he could do such a thing. Which leads into the next theme.

⇒ Survival/Death

Survival is the primary focus of everyone in this story. Life is harsh, battles are frequent, and the threat of the ruthless Herja constantly plague the minds of the characters.

Five years prior, Iri was thought to have been killed on the battlefield by the Riki. His body was found, but left. When the Riki returned to bring one of their own home for burial, they found both he and Iri were still alive. The Riki insisted that he be brought back and cared for, and he eventually was adopted into the clan. There, he found love, which became his reason for not returning to the Aska. Love, and the fact that his family probably wouldn’t take him back if he has returned after converting to following the foreign God, Thora, kept him with the Riki. Learning how accept where Iri now is, as well as her shameful status as a slave to the Riki, leads directly into the next theme.

⇒ Redemption

”We find things, just as we lose things, Eelyn. If you’ve lost your honor, you’ll find it again.”

For the Aska, it’s literally damning to become a slave. Once one assumed the title, they were no longer able to traverse the afterlife to be with their family after they pass away. When the Riki made Eelyn into one, she became immensely ashamed of her position. Also fearful to return to the Aska to expose the shame onto her father, Eelyn contemplated on returned at all.

It was during this time that she realized why Iri never returned to the Aska. His position, too, would bring shame to his family. It took Eelyn to experience a similar situation herself before she could understand her brother’s “betrayal” and the truth behind it. Not only that, she had to confront her own prejudices against the Riki in order to convince them and the Aska to fight together against the Herja.

⇒ Equality

While there is some credit to give in this area, I also want to point out a few things. Sky in the Deep has been highly esteemed among Young Adult readers for its strong female lead and the “equality” shown between men and women. However, slavery is very much a part of daily life in these tribes, and the fact that Eelyn is nearly raped, I fail to see this equality. If everyone wants to get caught up only in the fact that women fight alongside men in battle instead of being sheltered from it, I think they are missing the bigger picture.

While Viking women were known for their grit, life for a women during that period was also very difficult. Just because they were active warriors for their people didn’t eliminate all threats from others. Again, Eelyn is nearly raped…what does that say about “equality?” It shows that not everyone had the same definition of the word. I also think that because of Eelyn’s position–being the sister to Iri, and a love interest to Fiske–saved her from subjugation to treatment that otherwise would have been dealt to her when she was enslaved. Personally, I don’t think the theme of equality between men and women is actually portrayed as strongly in this story as people may think.

Overall Feelings

Things that I liked:

⇒ The themes and messages.
⇒ The origins for the tale.
⇒ There’s no swearing!
⇒ Even though it wasn’t well defined, I liked the setting and atmosphere that this story took place in.
⇒ Again, although it wasn’t focused deeply upon, I liked the culture this was set in. It stood out as its rather unique in this aspect.

Things that I didn’t like:

⇒ The overall lack of the appearance of fantasy. It read as a historical fiction with a few twists. But personally, I didn’t think it fit well into the fantasy genre.
⇒ The gore and torture scenes.
⇒ Incompleteness in some aspects of the world-building.

Overall, I thought this was a good read. While I had some issues with the world-building feeling incomplete, I appreciated Eelyn’s character and watching the transformation she went through. Sky In The Dark has strong messages about redemption, and setting aside differences in order to work together.

Vulgarity: None!
Sexual content: Mainly kissing. There is a scene where a Riki character nearly tries to rape Eelyn. There is also reference towards Eelyn and another character having sexual relations.
Violence: Quite a bit, including some gore and torture scenes.

View all my reviews

1. What inspired SKY IN THE DEEP? How did the idea and Eelyn come to you? Do you have any
favorite Viking stories?

The sibling betrayal was definitely the first inspiration for this story. I was driving in the pouring rain on
this country road and that first scene just hit me – Eelyn, seeing her brother on the battlefield after
thinking that he was dead for five years. I pulled over on the side of the road and scribbled a million
notes on an old envelope. I was immediately hooked to the idea and I wanted to know what had
happened. I started writing that first chapter and I just never stopped.

2. What type of research did you do for your characters and world-building? What languages did
you study to implement the languages that the Aska and the Riki speak? What was the strangest
thing you had to research for this book?

I did a ton of research for this story. I actually really love to research things so it was a lot of fun. A lot of
it was stuff like clothing, landscape, weapons, food, etc. But I did a lot of research into Norse mythology
as well to build a foundation for this world. The language used is Old Norse, but it’s a dead language so
studying it was really difficult. There is a lot of controversy about it among scholars and there’s no real
way to fully understand it, so I just did my best based on my own investigation. I’m definitely not an
expert! The weirdest thing I had to research was how to tear out someone’s eyeball. Yuck.

3. What was your writing process like for SKY IN THE DEEP?

Complete and utter obsession. When I draft, I get really buried in the world and I don’t really come up
for air until I get to the end. I write as much as I can and limit my intake of other influencers that could
mess with my mindset. I don’t watch TV or movies or listen to music that’s not on my playlist, and I kind
of don’t have a social life until it’s done.

4. What was your hardest scene to write? What was the easiest?

I really didn’t struggle to get this story on the page the way I have with other books so I really don’t
know what the hardest scene to write was. But the easiest was the first chapter. I wrote it so fast and it
just clicked in so perfectly.

5. Which of your characters are you the most like? Who was your favorite to write?

Eelyn! We have so much in common and she really inspires me. But I think Halvard was the most fun to
write. I really, really love him.

6. Do you have a soundtrack for SKY IN THE DEEP? Can you share a couple songs? What would
Eelyn’s favorite song be?

Yes! Music plays a HUGE role in my writing process and I have a playlist for every project. The ones I
probably listened to the most while drafting SKY are To the Hills by Laurel, Bare by Wildes, and Rise Up –
Reprise by Foxes. But a link to the whole playlist is on my site!

7. What books have inspired you to write? What books are you looking forward to reading this
year?

The ones that inspired me to write are nothing like my books. One of the most influential ones for me was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, because the human element is so beautiful and the author explores so many things in that book that really took my breath away. I wanted to write stories that went deep like that, but I love fantasy so I try to it within that realm.

8. Any advice on querying? Or writing advice for aspiring writers?

Querying – do not just sign with any agent who will take you. Make a dream agent list of qualified agents
who have good reputations and make consistent sales. Query them. If they don’t bite, then write
another book that they might want. Believe me when I say it is worth waiting for the right agent!


9. Any details about the companion novel?


I can’t say anything about the companion novel yet! But I’m hoping that we can start talking about it
soon because I am really excited about it!

Adrienne Young

Adrienne Young is a born and bred Texan turned California girl. She is a foodie with a deep love of history and travel and a shameless addiction to coffee. When she’s not writing, you can find her on her yoga mat, scouring antique fairs for old books, sipping wine over long dinners, or disappearing into her favorite art museums. She lives with her documentary filmmaker husband and their four little wildlings beneath the West Coast sun.

Cover Reveals for Wheel Gone Cats & Of Stars and Monsters!

Cover Reveals for Wheel Gone Cats & Of Stars and Monsters!

Wheels Gone Cats PUBLISHER: PARLIAMENT HOUSE PRESS Synopsis 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 […]

eARC Review: Ace Of Shades by Amanda Foody

eARC Review: Ace Of Shades by Amanda Foody

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 […]

Cover Reveals for The Garden of Ash & Cursed: The Hunter Inside!

Cover Reveals for The Garden of Ash & Cursed: The Hunter Inside!

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 Floor, a notorious prison camp for hardened criminals.Those who refuse to serve the Kingdom go in…no one comes out.   Faced with this nightmarish reality, Rags is forced to use everything she knows as a rustler to survive against starvation, a cruel ward master, and torture at the hands of the Kingdom’s ruler, Hyperion. Given only two options—death, or conformation to the Kingdom’s ways—she’s forced to play the Kingdom’s twisted game. With the help of the Kingdom’s second-in- command, Henrick Oreson, and its charismatic luresman, Colton Caelan Fieldson, Rags must find a way to play a convincingly false role she was never meant to play and show the Kingdom she can be ‘rehabilitated’ to its standards. But with the deciding evaluation rigged in the Kingdom’s favor, failure is imminent…unless she can find a way to turn lies into truth and achieve the impossible: actually, escape the Threshing Floor.

Find Out About Other Books by Kathryn Lee Martin at https://www.rynleewrites.com/

Kathryn Lee Martin, known as 'Ryn' by friends and colleagues, spends her days saddling up the literary horse and hitting the “what if” trails on a quest to tell the outlaws’ and underdogs’ stories. Not one to shy away from the darker side of stories for the older young adult audience, her works often explore impossible odds and dire futures, falling into a fusion of post-apocalyptic science fiction meets the gritty lawlessness of the old west with a dash of fantasy and steampunk. Putting her unfortunate characters in situations where faith and fighting often go hand in hand, she’s not afraid to make things difficult for them and when she’s not corrupting society on paper, she’s usually leading the rebellion to save it.
An avid outdoors woman at heart, Kathryn spends her days living a quiet, faith-filled life on her family’s small farmstead where she can usually be found working in her vegetable garden, spending time with her family, and playing the role of ‘critter mom’ to a border collie, several cats, three goats, and a donkey. Prior to choosing to follow her dream of becoming an author, she spent almost a decade joyfully working at a small town, local gourd farm as a parts maker, part of the finishing department, and a proud member of its seasonal field crew.

Website: https://www.rynleewrites.com/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rynsagequill/ Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/RynSageQuill/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/RynSageQuill Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RynSageQuill/

Cursed: The Hunger Inside

PUBLISHER: PARLIAMENT HOUSE PRESS​

Synopsis

A war rages between kings and clans for centuries, nations split and kingdoms fallen. Caught in the midst of poverty and bedlam, twenty-year- old Aldor faces a choice: leave home and start anew, or stay and protect what little he has?   Aldor has only made one friend in his life and has never seen a legendary creature before. As soon as he steps beyond his door, he finds himself an outlaw, hunted by ghosts, dragons, and bandits. Forced into joining a team of misfits in a race to recover a sacred, lost artifact—Haran’s Stone—Aldor finds unexpected friendships and adventure with a huntsman, a smuggler, a scientist, and a princess. Just when their quest begins to appear promising, disaster strikes, wielding the unexpected—and the terrifying!   Aldor’s life will never be the same as he struggles with fear, loss, love for the very first time. As the roots of his world crumble to dust, Aldor and company mustn`t lose themselves in a fury of cannibals, monsters, and illusions; their greatest challenge yet.

Find Out About Other Books by Casey Millette at http://www.caseymillette.com

Casey M. Millette, sixteen, has been into writing since she was five. Her love of The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia has inspired her to write the Cursed series. Casey lives just outside Atlanta, Georgia with her family and cat, Hudson. You can follow her on the Casey M. Millette Facebook page, Instagram, and her website: www.caseymmillette.com.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/warriorcasey5/

Auto-Buy Sci-Fi & Fantasy Authors

Auto-Buy Sci-Fi & Fantasy Authors

This week’s TOp 5 Wednesday prompt was a difficult one to narrow down. –which I think is a good thing! That means that there’s no shortage of great authors out there! Seeing how Fantasy is the genre I most commonly read, it’s easy to want to […]

eARC Review: Children of Daedala by Caighlan Smith

eARC Review: Children of Daedala by Caighlan Smith

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: […]

Mini Book Review: The Oracle Queen by Kendare Blake

Mini Book Review: The Oracle Queen by Kendare Blake

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.

The Oracle Queen

Series: Three Dark Crowns #0.1
Author: Kendare Blake
Publication Date: April 3, 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Page Count: 120
Format: ebook
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. 

The Oracle Queen (Three Dark Crowns Novella)The Oracle Queen by Kendare Blake
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“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.

Vulgarity: None.
Sexual content: There are references, but nothing in detail.
Violence: Minimal.

View all my reviews

Book Review: Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith

Book Review: Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith

It is Clara who is desperate to enter the labyrinth and it is Clara who is bright, strong, and fearless enough to take on any challenge. It is no surprise when she is chosen. But so is the girl who has always lived in her […]

Fairy Tale Friday #4: The Enchanted Pig (Porcul cel fermecat) by Petre Ispirescu

Fairy Tale Friday #4: The Enchanted Pig (Porcul cel fermecat) by Petre Ispirescu

The Enchanted Pig (Porcul cel fermecat) Written by Petre Ispirescu The Enchanted Pig, originally published as Porcul cel fermecat in Legende sau basmele românilor in Bucharest, Romania in 1882. It was written by Petre Ispirescu, a Romanian folklorist, who wrote several tales that were published throughout his lifetime […]

My Favorite Teachers/Mentors Found In Books

My Favorite Teachers/Mentors Found In Books

I think we all have someone that we looked up to, or still look up to, throughout our lives.

I know for myself, there were several people at different times of my life that have had a large impact on forming the person that I am today. Without these teachers and/or mentors, I wouldn’t have some of the passions that I possess, wisdom that I’ve gleaned, and a general sense of who I am.

I’ve also received a lot of direction from mentors and teachers in different books. Whether they are non-fiction, or fiction-based, some characters have been very influential and inspirational in my life. I think anyone can find new mentors that they can look up to and learn from in books.

Here’s some of my favorite five mentors/teachers in books that I’ve read.

Jesus Christ from the Holy Bible

By far the most influential person I’ve ever encountered, this man literally changed my life. A good portion of the New Testament is filled with teachings and sermons given by Jesus.

It’s amazing how simple many of his lessons are, yet how profound as well. I could quite literally talk about him, and his teachings all day, everyday, but will sum them up for the sake of this post. Not only has he taught me how to go through life on a day-to-day basis, he taught me why. Why is it important to love God, and love others as I love myself? Well, isn’t that the wonderful mystery of self-sacrifice? There’s nothing more beautiful than putting others above yourself. Without this, I’d be the most self-centered person on the planet. Jesus not only helps to bring balance in my life, but meaning, encouragement, and literally so much more. Really, I can’t say enough about him. 

Apostle Paul from the Holy Bible

Another mentor figure in the New Testament of the Bible is the Apostle Paul. What makes his story so powerful is his conversion. He was the opposite of what Jesus stood for, yet, took a figurative U-turn when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. To me, his life shows that anyone has the ability to change the path they are on. Not only that, but once the truth is revealed, it cannot be denied. For myself, his story and teachings have been incredibly impactful, especially in the sense of leaving “myself” in pursuit of something much greater than me.

Gandalf from The Lord Of The Rings

Gandalf has always been one of my favorite fictional characters. I watched the movie series before reading the books, but loved him even more once I had finally picked them up.

His calm, comical nature is admirable.  Tolkien put a lot of time and effort into creating his character, and developing such a strong presence throughout his books. What I love about Gandalf the most is that he never passes up an opportunity to learn. The part where he talks about the “small things” giving him hope always made me reflect on my own life, and focusing on if I appreciated every aspect of it, big or small, or not. 

Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, & Mrs. Whatsit from A Wrinkle In Time

This interesting trio brings “bizarre” to an entirely different level. Bizarre, yet memorable. Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whatsit, with all their quirks, were incredibly significant characters. They focused on bringing out the best in Meg, Charles, and Calvin by pointing out their faults. Instead of sugar-coating the situation, they challenged the kids to accept parts of themselves that weren’t necessarily “likable.” Even so, these aspects of our characters can grow, change, and morph into something beautiful and powerful. 

Brom from Eragon

Lastly, I wanted to mention Brom from Eragon. Although he doesn’t get much page time, his impact on Eragon as a mentor is evident through the entire series. While he’s rather crass, he’s real, honest, and isn’t afraid of a challenge.

A good mentor must be willing to put himself at risk for the benefit of his mentee, and that’s exactly what Brom does. While it honestly took me some time to like Brom’s character, I really appreciated him at the end of the series, and all that he did for the greater good. 

So, Who are some of your favorite mentors or teachers in books?
What lesson(s) did you learn from them that made them such valuable characters to you?
Let me know in the comments below!


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