Tag: Young Adult

eARC/Book Review: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

eARC/Book Review: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town. Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted […]

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Mini eARC Review: Ride On by Gwen Cole

Mini eARC Review: Ride On by Gwen Cole

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, […]

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eARC Review: The Oddling Prince by Nancy Springer

eARC Review: The Oddling Prince by Nancy Springer

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 family apart. The kingdom’s only hope will lie with two young men raised worlds apart. Aric is the beloved heir to the throne of Calidon; Albaric is clearly of noble origin yet strangely out of place.

Synopsis provided by Goodreads.

The Oddling Prince

Author: Nancy Springer
Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Tachyon Publications
Page Count: 288
Format: eARC
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Cover Artist:
My Rating: ★★★★½

Out hunting one day with his son, a mysterious ring appears on the finger of the King of Calidon. Over the next month, his health fails and he nearly dies. A mysterious stranger in white appears and removes the ring from the king’s finger, saving his life. The youth asks the king if he recognizes him, but he does not.

Perplexed by the youth’s insistence on knowing his father, Aric discovers that the stranger’s name is Albaric, and he too, is the son of King Baldric. Confused by this revelation, a fantastic tale about the queen of the fey, the king of Calidon, and an enchanted ring is uncovered. 

Learning that he has another son, the king spirals downward into a fog of shame and suspicion. It’s up to Aric and his oddling half-brother Albaric to bring the king back to his senses. 

The Oddling PrinceThe Oddling Prince by Nancy Springer My rating: 5 of 5 stars All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication. description
“What is a friend? Troth without end. A light in the eyes, A touch of the hand– I would follow you even To death’s cold strand.”
I want to jump right in and say that I think this book has been (and will be) widely misunderstood. I’ve seen a lot of reviews already that are very misleading and don’t represent this book well at all. While it has been placed into the Young Adult fantasy genre, it doesn’t really fit in well with other current titles and trends. The Oddling Prince reads exactly like an old-time fairy tale, i.e. The Lily of Life: A Fairy Tale, and reflects little upon the mantras of the genre it has been categorized under. For these reasons, I would highly suggest going into this read with an open mind. There are some very valuable topics being explored, which could completely become overshadowed by preconceived notions. With that being said, I’m so glad that I picked up this book! If you are a fan of original fairy tales, this will be a read that you will want to give a shot at.

World Building

“My father says ‘White King’ is only a mistake for ‘Viking,’ making a fairy tale of how our ancestors in longboats came to Calidon.”
Set in ancient Scotland, Calidon is the realm in which the plot is set. Only hints of the world are discussed, creating an atmosphere not as astounding as I’d hoped for. It doesn’t matter much, however, as the plot is driven by the interactions and relationships between the characters. Majority of the setting is at or surrounding Dun Caltor, the place where the royal family resides. Politics exist mainly between the station of King Baldaric and his competitors (almost exclusively Lord Brock Domberk.) Any form of religion is not discussed, as the fantastical overtake this area via the existence and presence of faeries and a faerie realm.

Pacing & Readability

The first half of this story is the main area that really pulls the reader in. While the second half is consistent, most of the content that makes this book so great is revealed earlier on. The pacing remains rather consistent, with a few lulls in plot movement and intrigue. Because it reads like a fairy tale, sometimes its length feels forced. It could have been shorter.

Point-Of-View & Characters

Before I say anything, there are three characters in this book with names that are very similar and can be the cause of some confusion. I’m not sure why these characters’ names are so similar, other than assuming it has something to do with passing down a family name. I personally didn’t have any issues with keeping these characters straight, but some might find it tricky.

“A prince I was, yes, but in looks no more than passable–no comelier or taller than most men–and in prowess, no better with sword or lance or horses or–or anything. I had quested nowhere, had wooed no true love, I was–I felt myself nothing compared to my father. I loved him.”
Aric serves as the main character and protagonist in the story. The point-of-view is directed from his perspective. A 17-year-old prince and heir to the throne of Calidon, Aric doesn’t yearn for power. A rather unusual boy, Aric’s innocence and genuineness immediately make him likable to the reader. His likeability only grows when confronted with the revelation that he has a half and immortal brother. Instead of allowing jealousy to overtake him, he eagerly embraces Albaric after (and even before) hearing his tale of woe. Not only that, he holds nothing against his father no matter how he treats him. Aric’s character possesses qualities which are truly a breath of fresh air. Selflessness, humbleness, faithfulness, honesty, innocence, loyalty are the attributes that make him so appealing. With that, Aric goes through some very real, and difficult experiences as well.
“Once I regained my strength and got up out of the bed, it would be Father and Albaric again, Albaric and Father, and the heartache and constant fear. I did not want to die, but neither did I want to live.”
The most refreshing part was how he maintained his character through tough trials. He doesn’t allow bitterness and resentment to take place in his heart, even when everyone around him was telling him otherwise. His character reminded me slightly of Job from the Bible and how he refused to listen to the bad suggestions from his friends and family.
“‘My father,’ I burst out, ‘when he set foot on the ground, his horse turned to air. When he took the ring off you, his fire went out. His light is gone. He cannot return whence he came. He has thrown in his lot with mortals now, and he will someday die, and he has made this sacrifice to save you.’”
Albaric’s character was also very intriguing to me. When he first arrived on the scene, it was hard to tell his intentions. However, it is quickly revealed that this immortal has a soft heart. Actually, Albaric experiences some very difficult feelings such as abandonment, unacceptance, and even prejudice from others to the point of where he contemplates taking his own life. While King Baldaric completely denies that he is Albaric’s father, Aric comes alongside him and develops a beautiful kinship with his half-brother. Albaric is described as “otherworldy” in a sense that his beauty is too much for the world of men. While it is the truth, he doesn’t allow his appearance to dictate his character and brings a refreshing view on beauty in general. Albaric certainly faces difficult trials. Realizing that his father doesn’t even recognize him, and becomes suspicious of him breaks him apart. Later on, the stress of his situation and being stuck in the mortal world leads Albaric to give in to his hurting. He gives spiteful advice to Aric on how to react towards their father and their failing relationship. King Baldaric, the father of both Aric and Albaric, starts out as a loving and doting father and king. He clearly loves his son Aric, but his character is deeply challenged (understandably so) when he discovers that he has another son, Albaric, with the fairy queen and has no recollection of it ever happening. This discovery is the start of a chain of events which sends the once good king into a downward spiral.
“But a king must think like a king. An oddling comes and claims to be my son. What can I think but that he schemes to take the throne?”
He becomes so bad that he even believes his once beloved son Aric wants to overthrow him and take his throne. Despite his beliefs, Aric works tirelessly to contradict his father’s beliefs. The metaphor of darkness and light are often used to depict this waging battle of Baldaric’s feelings and again, reinstill the “fairy tale” feel of the book. Queen Evalin, King Baldaric’s wife, and Aric’s mother serves as a realistic mediator. When chaos ensues, she often is the voice of reason. The main antagonist comes in the form of the ring but also shares the title with Lord Brock Domberk, (a vassal of King Baldaric’s), as well as King Baldaric himself. While the ring takes the center stage, it causes others to do things and become people they aren’t. The ring itself is an ancient thing and has the ability to enchant those who wear it. The ring, however, obeys no one and often has alternative repercussions when used for personal gain.

Major Themes

⇒ Light vs. Darkness
“I saw the invisible drawing of swords between him and Albaric; I felt the tension in the close air of the bedchamber. Dark, it was too dark in there because of the shadow of death. Father wore black.”
The theme of light vs. darkness is equivalent to good vs. evil. It is utilized regularly in context as well as metaphor. When Albaric first arrives, he’s riding a horse and they are both stark-white. As he turns out to be King Baldaric’s redeemer, it makes sense that he’s depicted in white. Darkness is equally referred to, indicating illness, death, and malice. ⇒ Kinship Kinship plays a massive role in this story. Mostly depicted by Aric and his half-brother Albaric, their relationship is one of pure love for kin. Despite the odd situation with their father, and how Albaric even came into being, Aric and Albaric immediately put the fact they are brothers at the forefront of the matter. While Aric accepts Albaric, Baldaric denies that Albaric is his son, which causes an obvious issue within the family’s dynamics. ⇒ Trust Mainly exhibited in Baldaric’s character, his lack of trust almost costs him his relationship with his son Aric. Knowing the truth of what happened to him in Elfland, Aric tries effortlessly to reassure his father of his intentions. Baldaric’s judgement becomes too clouded in his humiliation that he begins to lose trust in everyone dear to him, leading him to make some bad decisions later on. ⇒ Shame/Self-Doubt
“Yet his face reddened, and now I recognized what I saw there: shame, with which he struggled clumsily, unaccustomed to guilt, to error. Never in my memory had such self-doubt afflicted him before.”
Another theme exemplified by Baldaric, and combated by Aric, shame and self-doubt are forces that heavily impact the events of this story. Baldaric, a king, was tricked by the elf queen into staying with her and having a child with her. Granted, he didn’t know what he was doing because he was enchanted, but deep down he never loved the elf queen, and loved only his wife. When he learned of these events when Albaric appeared, he becomes so distraught by the fact that he had been bested by the elf queen that it changes him drastically. It shows how impactful one’s perspective of themselves can be on so many lives outside of their own.

Overall Feelings

Things that I liked: ⇒ The different style in which this book was written (aka writing style). It is not the typical modern YA fantasy! ⇒ The themes discussed. ⇒ The way the fantastical was woven into the story. ⇒ The lessons to be learned. Things that I didn’t like: ⇒ The world building was lacking for me, as I’d hoped to see more historical influence of ancient Scotland and the people there. ⇒ The story overall felt somewhat drawn out and could have been shorter and have been just as effective. Overall, I loved this story. I think there is something here for everyone to take away. That’s what I love most about the fairy-tale style in which it is written–it allows the story to be told in a way that is perhaps, more tangible for the reader to grasp, yet allows for a few elements to not be entirely explained. It allows for the magical element that fairy-tales possess to remain aloof. This doesn’t affect my view of the book at all, but this quote from the author was included in the acknowledgments, and I thought it was worth sharing because it is so beautiful.
“Writing fiction has always, for me, been an alchemy of turning pain into poetry, ugliness into beauty. It has been a kind of redemption.”

Vulgarity: Only 5 words were counted.
Sexual content: Minimal. There was some discussion between Aric and Albaric about the human desire for sexual relations.
Violence: Minimal to moderate.

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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 […]

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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.

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: […]

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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 […]

Audiobook Review: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

Audiobook Review: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

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 their heads?

Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.

My Lady Jane

Series: The Lady Janies #1
Authors: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Narrator: Katherine Kellgren
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Listening Length: 13 hours and 48 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, Humor
Cover Artist: ---
My Rating: ★★★★★

My Lady JaneMy Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is by far the most enjoyable and entertaining Audiobook that I’ve listened to, to date! Going into it, I didn’t realize My Lady Jane was a historical fiction retelling with a huge side of humor and fantastical twists. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book and would recommend it to anyone!

Not only is the story very well written, the narration by Katherine Kellgren absolutely makes this audiobook come to life. Being the only narrator, Katherine does an amazing job at differentiating between several different characters. Her voice is dynamic and mimics the situation naturally and effortlessly.

Because Katherine’s vocal style is so natural, it makes connecting to the characters incredibly easy. Her ability to change accents is effortless and gave me the impression that I was listening to several different narrators depict the characters instead of one!

If you desire a good laugh, a little bit of (distorted) history, and some very likable characters, My Lady Jane is the next pick for you!

Vulgarity: None!
Sexual content: There are some discussions about the topic, but its executed in a way that isn’t awkward for the reader–just funny.
Violence: Minimal.

View all my reviews

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 […]

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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/

eARC Review: Bacon Pie by Candace Robinson & Gerardo Delgadillo and Author Interview with Candace Robinson!

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Release day April 13, 2018! When a showdown between Lia and Kiev lands them in the principal’s office, they’re forced into volunteer work at the cringe-worthy Piggy Palooza Festival, or risk being suspended. Lia and Kiev aren’t thrilled about the situation, especially when it interferes […]

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Mini Book Review: Identity by Ted Dekker

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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 […]

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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: Caighlan Smith
Publication Date: April 1, 2018
Publisher: Capstone
Page Count: 336
Format: eARC
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Horror, Dystopia
Cover Artist: ---
My Rating: ★★

Finding one’s way through a maze can feel like an eternity. For the Icarii, eternity is a probability with their trek through the labyrinth surrounding Daedala. 

“Fey Bell” as the nameless main character has been nicknamed, has existed on her own in the labyrinth for six months now. Now that she has the journal explaining how to get out of the dismal place, she needs only one thing: to translate it into her language. In order to do so, she must seek out help from her former group, the Fates. 

However, she left Fates on bad terms. Collin, the group’s leader, has had it out for her since he discovered that she was faking to be his little sister, Clara. With her best friend gone, the Executioner no longer around to teacher her, and no one to help her, she much depend on herself for everything–and for getting the answers she needs to unravel the journal’s secrets. Little does she know that Fates are the least of her worries. 

Children of DaedalaChildren of Daedala by Caighlan Smith
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

1) Children of Icarus: ★★

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

”Six months is a long time in the labyrinth.”

There’s always a lot riding on sequels in a series. If certain aspects aren’t delivered in the first installment of a series, I hope that the sequel will shed some light on those areas that I think are important to touch on as the reader. Unfortunately, Children of Daedala simply didn’t deliver as much as I had hoped for. While some aspects were much more tolerable, the plot did not develop as much as it needed to the really engage the reader.

World Building

The entire plot of Children of Daedala takes place in the labyrinth. Little information of the labyrinth itself is given and it is difficult to get a good sense of where the characters are. I constantly felt lost, which is ideally the point (since everyone is lost), but it’s also difficult to tell a story not really understanding the surroundings.

The society within the labyrinth itself takes on a different form. The Icarii literally enter a new world when they entered the labyrinth and they must learn how to survive. The best way to survive is by strength in numbers. Several pods of Icarii are developed, where the groups’ members look after and protect one another.

But where there are people, there is treachery. Supplies are limited in the labyrinth, including hunting grounds, freshwater, medical supplies, and weapons. It isn’t uncommon for fighting to happen between the groups for these resources. These fights, however, aren’t always provision-related. Bad blood exists between Kleos and Harmonia, two groups with a long and dark history. When the main character finds herself being shoved between the two groups after Fates is ransacked, she must dig to the bottom of the mystery in order to discover who is at fault.

Within these groups exists hierarchy. Being out on her own for six months had made “nameless” a sought out legend among the other Icarii. Nicknamed “Fey Bell” (after the silent bell she wears around her neck) she tries to remain elusive as she searches for the labyrinth’s exit. However, she can only make it so far without help. She must take measures into her own hands to have the mysterious journal the Executioner left her translated. The leaders of the groups have their own agendas and are constantly taunting her when they cross paths. Wanting to remain out of the drama, she tries to limit her interactions with them, but can only succeed for so long.

Pacing & Readability

The pacing mimics Children of Icarus. It is slow, slow, slow. In three hundred plus pages, not a lot happens. Even during the climax in the final pages, nothing grabbed me. Without having many variations in the pacing, it made this a difficult read to get through because it was slow and unengaging.

Point-Of-View & Characters

The point of view is again from the perspective of the main character, who again remains nameless throughout the entire story. “Nameless'”–I’ll refer to by her nickname of Fey Bell–character grows tremendously from Children of Icarus–but only in her capabilities. In many ways, she still acts quite immature for her age, which becomes tiresome to read. Honestly, I think I stuck it out through this book just because I want to find out what her name is! Otherwise, I don’t think I would have made it this far.

There are several characters in this series, and it is difficult to keep them all straight. With little distinction between them physically, many of these minor characters blended together.

For me, Ryan was one of the more interesting characters in this series. Sadly, his character became rather flat in this sequel. I felt he could have been utilized in more effective ways to keep that initial intrigue going, but that simply didn’t happen.

Theo becomes a more prominent character in this sequel. Becoming a “sort of” love interest, he’s constantly riding the fence of being trustworthy. Because his character also suffers from flatness, I found him and his motivations to be transparent and without surprise.

Elle’s character blossomed before my very eyes. I think I didn’t recognize her in Children of Icarus because I was so distracted with all of the gore and overall treachery. While she doesn’t have a massive role in the plot, what she represents makes her all-the-more important to bring up.

The main antagonist against is the labyrinth itself, but later on shifts to other characters as well.

Major Themes

⇒ Survival

It’s easy not to take chances when the price is someone else’s secrets.

Survival is the entire point of this series. Survival in the labyrinth, survival from one another, and survival from oneself in specific instances is constantly on the characters’ and readers minds.

⇒ Mental illness

”Elle is the beautiful one. I always knew it, but at first I thought it was just her exterior. I thought what was inside Elle was cruel. And it is. Elle has a cruel side, an inhumane side, a manipulative side, but that like her physical beauty, is just something else in the way of the beauty inside. A part of Elle, deep down, is still the child she was when she entered the labyrinth. That child is inside all Icarii, but most Icarii kill that child to survive. Instead, Elle killed her sanity, and used its corpse to shelter the child. Because of that, a part of Elle will always have her innocence. A part of her will always have Prosper.”

Represented by Elle’s character, mental illness becomes a large theme throughout this installment. This theme also exists in the first book, but I think I was too distracted by everything else to really notice it. While I believe this adds an interesting addition to the plot, I’m not sure if I actually like the way Elle’s character is represented. Perhaps it is because I feel that her (and everyone else’s) character is left incomplete. In a positive way, however, I feel that Elle’s able to bring opponents together.

“But thank you. For looking out for Elle.”
“It’s easy to look out for Elle,” Risa says, then gestures to the gauze in my hand. Maybe not always easy, but it’s easy to want to, you know?”

Overall Feelings

Things that I liked:
⇒ The main character’s growth from the first book.
⇒ We finally get a little more explanation behind the Icarii.

Things that I didn’t like:
⇒ Still not having a good sense of the world or where the characters are at. Scenes blend into one another.
⇒ The slow pacing and anticlimactic end which was supposed to be a massive “cliffhanger” for the next book.
⇒ While we get a better idea as to how the Icarii started, the entire backstory needed a lot more explanation.

Overall, I wasn’t thrilled with this sequel, and found it to be without much purpose. I really was hoping for more progression, but this entire book felt like a “time filler” until the next book in the series is published.

Vulgarity: Minimal. Only five words were counted.
Sexual content: Minimal – kissing scenes only. However, there are some references to more going on between some characters.
Violence: Quite a lot. While this installment isn’t as gory as it’s predecessor, there’s still a decent amount.

View all my reviews


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