Categories
Fantasy Young Adult

Heartbreaker by V. Romas Burton (Book Review)

Two things prompted me to re-read Heartbreaker this month! The first is that I realized I never really adequately featured the book on bookish social media, the second is because I am SO SUPER LUCKY to have been chosen for an ARC box for book three, which will be out on September 7th!!

First off you should check out my review for book one, Heartmender, here, then proceed with this review if you’re interested!  I loved Heartmender for it’s lyrical mix of fantasy, adventure, clean content, and religious allegories that were not overpowering.  Heartbreaker sees the characters begin their journey in earnest, with all the growing pains of becoming a young hero.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Heartbreaker
  • Series: Heartmender, #2
  • Author: V Romas Burton
  • Publisher & Release: Monster Ivy Publishing, September 2020
  • Length: 338 pgs
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟⚡ yes for YA, fans of Christian fantasy/fiction, clean content seekers!

Here is the description from Amazon:

After finding out she is the Bellata–the prophesized warrior meant to save Decim–Addie, along with James, returns to Barracks to unite the Twelve Magisters. But as she discovers her old home in ruin, Addie stumbles upon Silas and Nana, the only people left in Barracks.

As Silas explains what happened, Addie remembers the special gift Eman entrusted to her. She gives the gift to Silas, only to learn that he’s the young blacksmith who fought through the Seven Choices, making Addie unsure of how to react to her old friend.

Dodging an attack from Schism, and another deadly ally to Ophidian, the group finally makes their way to Ramni, where a familiar face joins them–one Addie never wanted to see again.

If Addie can’t learn to balance her new power, successfully unite the Twelve Magisters, and figure out what’s going on with a new voice in her head, Ophidian will destroy all the twelve lands …

And she’ll never know who is capable of betrayal amongst her friends.

The Plot/Story: this second novel sees Addie and company out on a quest to unite the Magisters of Decim, gain their allegiance in the fight against Ophidian.  The plot is once again fast moving, with obstacles being overcome fairly quickly in order to advance the storyline.  Now that Addie has newfound confidence, responsibility, and a crew of friends & family to fight alongside her, what will happen? There is plenty of action, lessons learned, good along with the bad, but man – this one ends on a cliffhanger!

Themes: While Heartmender was about choices and the seven sins, Heartbreaker is about sacrifice and trusting in Eman’s plan.  He isn’t with Addie but his voice is still heard, his plan is known, and there is a super cool magical book that I am pretty sure is an allegory for biblical guidance, although I am not positive.  Other wholesome themes include friendship, trust, finding family, self worth, and trusting that one is never alone.

Continuing worldbuilding: One of my favorite parts was learning the back story of the antagonist, and how all of this evil came to be! A lot of questions from book one were answered in this, including questions about Addie’s family.  The author did a great job expanding on the world of Decim to include the other realms, inhabitants, issues, and even geography to make the world richer.

The Characters: Addie has some serious “coming of age” challenges to overcome.  She is the Bellata, so she should be independent, in charge, and unruffleable – right?  It was nice watching her learn to work with a team, test out her feelings for Silas, and start to come into her responsibility.  She also drove me nuts sometimes jumping to conclusions and blaming others, but it’s part of learning to socialize 

Silas is a good character in this one too but I can’t really say why.  He is a great protector to Addie and tests the group.  James and Nana and Claire ❤ also Damien … It is a good group.  

I think the reason I scored this one a little lower is because of how easily the answers to the puzzles come to Addie.  She races through the first few magisters and while it works to further the allegories and storyline, I think I would have liked her to be tripped up a little more.  The book makes up for that at the end though, how in the world are they ever going to get out of that situation??

At heart this is a complex story and I think it would make a great buddy read for readers of any age.  That targeted 13-18 range is totally 100% appropriate too.  In the coming weeks I will be posting about book 3 so stay tuned for that!!


Meet the author:

V. Romas Burton grew up bouncing up and down the East Coast where she wrote her first story about magical ponies at age seven. Years later, after studying government and earning an M.A. in Theological Studies, V. Romas Burton realized something even bigger was calling out to her–stories that contained great adventures and encouraging messages. Her debut novel, Heartmender, has won several awards including: First Place in Young Adult for the 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Second Place in Juvenile/ Young Adult for the 2021 Illumination Book Awards and tied for Third Place for Young Adult Fiction- Fantasy/ Sci- Fi in the 2020 Moonbeam Children’s Awards. You can find future updates and news on her website: http://www.vromasburton.com

from Amazon
Categories
Contemporary Fiction General Fiction

Pulse by Judy G. Walters (Book Tour & Review)

Thank you so much to Kate Rock Book Tours and Judy Gaman for having me on the book tour for Pulse! I received a wonderful signed paperback in exchange for an honest review and feature, all opinions are my own!

This is a fast paced medical drama that reminds me of Scrubs mixed with Life in the ER.  I couldn’t put it down and ended up reading it in two sittings!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Pulse
  • Series: Vital Signs, #1
  • Author: Judy G. Walters
  • Publisher & Release: 64 Squares Publishing, 06/4/21
  • Length: 291pgs
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟⚡for fans of medical and family dramas!

Here is the synopsis from Amazon:

The world has no shortage of moral ambiguity, especially in the emergency room. Dr. Jackson is the emergency room physician who seems to have the big house, beautiful wife, and an impeccable reputation as one of the most respected emergency physicians in Dallas. As the author peels back the layers, Dr. Jackson’s life isn’t so perfect after all. Filled with unique twists, complex medical cases and personal issues, Pulse proves that there is always more to the story! Pulse is the first book in the Vital Signs Series

Coming to you in between shifts to say that I totally flew through this book. I loved the bond that the ER staff have, whether they are joking about Dr Elohssa (😂😂😂) or kicking butt saving lives. Most of the patients and case studies are pretty realistic, the characters feel real, and there is more than a little moral ambiguity to go around.  

I could totally plug myself into that team and go to work with them any day!  The drama and teamwork, friendship and friendly rivalries, joking and tears, people just needing ten damn minutes to ourselves after a code … it’s real!

Dr Jackson is a leading emergency medicine physician but his home life is a mess. His wife is absolutely crazy and I loved his daughter.  The main characters are pretty complex, as in Dr Jackson and his daughter, while the rest are pretty shallow.  They’re nice, smart, a great team, and I’m rooting for them, but we don’t get too much into the rest of the team.  In future books maybe! I definitely want to see more of the other characters based off the glimpses in Pulse.

The home life vs work balance is the other thread in the book. No one is perfect but no one deserves a life of torture either, and there is little room for error and distraction in medicine.  I was really hoping Dr Jackson and BJ ( daughter) would be able to get away from the abusive wife. BJ is a strong young lady and I loved the father daughter parts.

I just love medical dramas. I was at 1000 stars until the big event – and in the vein of honestly I’m going to bluntly say that the big event didn’t work. It just did. Not. Work. Seriously ***** the terrorist, at a mall in Texas? Why? I found it hilarious but I guarantee someone is going to call it offensive.  I want a different catastrophe (Jacqueline could have caused a car accident trying to run Elizabeth off the road? Yeah? Literally anything else)!! so badly, but the results were the same, and I loved the ending anyway. I still totally recommend the book though! Thank you again for having me on the tour, all opinions are my own ❤

Categories
audiobooks Fantasy

The Great Hunt (Book/Audiobook Review) by Robert Jordan

If you guys read my chat about The Wheel of Time, book 1, The Eye of the World you know that I found it slow to get going and both under/over whelming in general, but ultimately worth the reading experience.  

I stuck with the #WoTAlong2021 and absolutely flew through book two, The Great Hunt.  The pacing was better, it was more interesting in general, and Robert Jordan spent more time giving the main characters personalities and making them into people I care about! I’m so glad I stuck with the read-along!

I have so many theories that I want to talk about, but the problem is spoilers.  Because THIS IS SPOILER FREE, I will mostly write this review to tell anyone that if you read The Eye of the World and are not sure about the series, GIVE IT ONE MORE BOOK!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Great Hunt
  • Series: The Wheel of Time, #2
  • Author: Robert Jordan
  • Publisher & Release: Tor Books, November 1990
  • Pages: 705 (MMPB edition)
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 I think fantasy fans should at least try the series

Here is the synopsis, with spoilers blocked out:

Robert Jordan’s #1 New York Times bestselling epic fantasy series, The Wheel of Time®, continues as Rand al’Thor and his companions set out to retrieve a powerful magical artifact from The Dark One’s Shadowspawn in The Great Hunt.

For centuries, gleemen have told the tales of The Great Hunt of the Horn. So many tales about each of the Hunters, and so many Hunters to tell of…

Now the Horn itself is found: the Horn of Valere long thought only legend, the Horn which will raise the dead heroes of the ages.

And it is stolen.

In pursuit of the thieves, Rand al’Thor is determined to keep the Horn out of the grasp of The Dark One. [[*Someone –  cough spoiler hidden*]] has also learned that he is The Dragon Reborn—the Champion of Light destined to stand against the Shadow time and again. It is a duty and a destiny that requires [[this person]] to uncover and master magical capabilities he never imagined he possessed.

The world magic is explained in more detail, the male vs female halves of the magic and we also learn a lot more about the Aes Sedai, the magic wielders.  I really liked meeting the Amyrlin Seat and learning that she is a real person, as well as how deep some of the treachery runs within the White Tower.

Another high point was watching Rand, Egwene, and Nynaeve all learn about their inherent magics.  The girl power in book two was real, and Nynaeve won me over.  Min and Elayne become real people as well and there are huge spoilers as far as who Rand will marry later on, which I kind of appreciated.

There is a lot more world building too – both macro and micro.  It doesn’t come in huge info dumps this time though, but much more spread out, so I think generally it was a much more readable novel.  The pacing was just SO much more even and I cared about all of the chapters.

RJ showed a bit of a darker side to his writing as well here, as evidenced by Egwene’s time with the damane, the seanchan, and everything about “the strangers”.  An interesting subplot and I’m sure it’ll come up again before the series is done.

Other cool things were meeting other ogiers, and EVERYTHING ABOUT THE END!! Everything!  I felt like I was riding right along with Hawkwing, cheering for Perrin carrying the battle standard, and watching the battle in the sky along with the townspeople.  Perrin probably had the quietest role in the book, but came through in a HUGE way when a brave face was needed.  Somehow I think he’s going to end up staying a quiet hero in the series.

A note on the audiobook: I had an exceptionally difficult time understanding Michael Kramer in book one, but this time it was much clearer.  Either he got feedback and enunciated a little more or they managed to increase the quality of the recording, but it was 100% much better. Kate Reading is phenomenal with the women’s chapters too.  Total running time is approx 25 hours, and I listened to the edition released in 2011 by Books On Tape.

Next month we will read Book Three, The Dragon Reborn, and I can’t wait!

Categories
Fantasy

Dragon Mage by M.L. Spencer! Book Tour with Giveaway!!

Thank you so much to Storytellers On Tour and M.L. Spencer for having me on the tour for Dragon Mage!

This is a truly exceptional work of fantasy and I 100% believe that anyone with even a casual interest in fantasy *needs* to grab this book!

Gorgeous wraparound cover 😍

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Dragon Mage
  • Series: Rivenworld, #1
  • Author: M.L. Spencer
  • Publisher & Release: Stoneguard Publications – 01/08/21
  • Length: 982 pgs
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 oh yes, to any fantasy fans

Here is the synopsis provided:

Aram Raythe has the power to challenge the gods. He just doesn’t know it yet. Aram thinks he’s nothing but a misfit from a small fishing village in a dark corner of the world. As far as Aram knows, he has nothing, with hardly a possession to his name other than a desire to make friends and be accepted by those around him, which is something he’s never known.

But Aram is more. Much, much more

Unknown to him, Aram bears within him a gift so old and rare that many people would kill him for it, and there are others who would twist him to use for their own sinister purposes. These magics are so potent that Aram earns a place at an academy for warrior mages training to earn for themselves the greatest place of honor among the armies of men: dragon riders.

Aram will have to fight for respect by becoming not just a dragon rider, but a Champion, the caliber of mage that hasn’t existed in the world for hundreds of years. And the land needs a Champion. Because when a dark god out of ancient myth arises to threaten the world of magic, it is Aram the world will turn to in its hour of need

Awesome character art: check! Meet Aram!

It’s hard to encompass such a massive book, with so much going on, into a review like this

The plot & story: I find a few things unique about the plot, which for the book’s size, NEVER slowed down.  982 pages went by like nothing and I still wanted more of everything.  It is told from rotating points of view over the span of about 10 years, where Aram and Marcus start as village boys and eventually become great warriors, fighting a war against old evils

Add in a morally gray and complicated villain, some truly evil archons, dragons, void creatures, sentient horses, bound mounts, trials and training, so much lore, a split world that makes sense, and I am just barely scratching the surface of things you’ll find within the story.

It starts with a prologue where a dragon falls in battle, an unnamed man standing solo against a much greater mage: it hooked me.  This is an accurate description of my face once the prologue was explained in the book: 😭😭😭😭😭

The Characters: are actually some of the most interesting I have seen in fantasy. 

Aram is somewhere on the autism spectrum, seeing the world in colors and knots.  It was a joy, and sometimes a horror, watching him grow into his potential.  Warning: ML Spencer is not nice to these characters, she breaks your heart about 20 times.  I just loved Aram. He is a magic Savant, which hasn’t happened in 400 years and he has amazing innate magic

Marcus is the opposite of Aram… Someone impervious to magic.  Every mage needs a shield, right?  It was interesting to see this dynamic work together and how Marcus and Aram handled their individual and joint tragedies.  It’s quite hard not to love Marcus when he takes a beaten, bullied Aram under his wing as a boy

Sergan: just see this motherf*cker in action.  Will he redeem himself or just be an evil c*nt the whole time? You’ll have to read about how the sorcerers withOUT innate magic, obtain magical essence.

The dragons: to avoid spoilers just let me say that the dragons are amazing, with their own personalities, and their own battle scenes.  There are a lot of side characters but they all add something special to the story, even if you have to wait for it

The Magic: there are so many layers of magic in the book.  I don’t know that I’ve ever seen knot-based magical essence, and I was on board because it was a world-plausible explanation for Aram’s fixation with knots.  The magic validated him, and he validated the magic, and it was amazing.  There are also, then, obviously many dark ways to use magic… 

…and the world below’s innate magic.  The variations in the sorcerers abilities was interesting too. The good vs evil balances and Savant vs Impervious were both pretty cool ideas.

Ah cripe, what else … Plotting that you’d never guess.  Family ties.  Found family.  The cutest tiny hint of romance (100% clean) ever.  Did I say sentient quasi magic  horses? More evil plots? 1200 year old snarky old men?  Oh, warrior and mage training! Battles that never get boring?  Heart breaking tortures and no feelings spared on the paths to redemption, alternated with *just* enough warm fuzzies to make everything beautiful? Balance is everything in this novel.

Another character, named Calise, and her dragon… 😍

Just… You just have to read it. You really just have to read it

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e832e98886/?

Enter the giveaway here!

Also do make sure to check out the other hosts so you can see their thoughts and interviews and other great content!

Categories
General Posts, Non Reviews

Something Different: The Never Have I Ever Book Tag!

First, the rules:
Link back to the original creator! (Madame Writer)
Link back to the person who tagged you! (Thank you Carol @ Reading Ladies)
Answer all prompts.
Add one more prompt of your own.
Tag at least five people.
Don’t lie.
Have fun!

Never have I ever… read a later book in the series before reading the first book.
I do this, but only if they can be read as standalones!  I do it with detective series like the Prey or Cross books all the time, but books in true series… Very rarely.

Never have I ever… burned a book.
I have really wanted to, but never burned a book 😂

Never have I ever… read a book I knew I would hate.
I have for review purposes, although I have learned how to say no and pick and choose more carefully now!

Never have I ever… written a fanfiction about my favorite books.
Never! I don’t like reading fanfic and have never written any

Never have I ever… loved a book when I was young, yet hated it when I got older.
I used to read weird books like The Celestine Prophecies and beat generation writers, now I don’t love those or speculative fiction so much.  My taste in fantasy is pretty much the same though!

Never have I ever… dressed up like one of my favorite literary characters.

I have been Harry Potter and Karigan Gladheon for Halloween before😂

Never have I ever… hated a book by an author I loved.
I have HATED the past two Green Rider books, which kills me because the first four books are my entire life

Never have I ever… gone into a bookstore to buy one book and came out with many more.
Not so much new books but I have been known to stack up at discount and used places

Never have I ever… read the end of a book before reading the beginning.
Only skip to the end when I start getting bored with thrillers or suspense 😂 not before I start though

Never have I ever… read the book without the dust jacket.
All the time, gotta keep it safe! Put it back on afterwards!!

Never have I ever… skim read half the book.
At that point I’ll just DNF, life is too short

Never have I ever… seen the movie before reading the book.
I have, many times. Sometimes I don’t even realize a movie has a book, most recently Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Never have I ever… had a book boyfriend.
I latched onto Yates from Green Rider,and will NEVER forgive Britain for that.  Also Sevro from the Red Rising books. Also who didn’t want to just hug, then fight besides HP?

Never have I ever… read a history book or a biography for fun.
Oh boy, yeah I read a lot of U S. history for fun

Never have I ever… picked up a book based on the cover alone.
Yes but I DO confirm the synopsis as readable first 😂

Never have I ever… bought multiple books in a series without having started it.
Yes but only because I like to have the first few ready before I start a new series

Never have I ever… kept reading a series even if I didn’t love the first book.
This is happening to me right now, but holy cow is The Great Hunt about a thousand times a better book than The Eye of the World. I’ll keep going until hopefully Sanderson doesn’t destroy it

Never have I ever… kept buying books even though my bookshelves are full of unread books.
Guilty, although right now I’m only buying new books to complete series that I’m waiting on.  99% of new titles are like… Blah right now.

Never have I ever… bought/read a book because of a booktuber/book blogger.
Not booktube but I have a few trusted bookstagrammers that I’ll take recs from!

 Never have I ever… ruined a book for a book blog post, bookstagram picture, or booktube video.
I’ve accidentally dropped a few that resulted in grass smears and once, water damage 😭

Alright seeing as I don’t blog with many people, if you see this you’re tagged 😂

Categories
audiobooks Fiction Suspense Thrillers

Bring Me Back (Book Review) by B.A. Paris

I was lucky enough to receive a box of summer paperback releases from St. Martin’s press, and one of the books inside was Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris! I actually read this one back in May and feel like I owe the book a little more love than I originally gave it!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Bring Me Back
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: B.A. Paris
  • Publisher & Release: St. Martin’s Press, June 2018 (Rereleased by St Martin’s Paperbacks March, 2021)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟 yes for fans of quick paced thrillers… But not those who are professional thriller readers

Here is the synopsis off Amazon:

She went missing. He moved on. A whole world of secrets remained―until now.

Finn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car, locks the doors behind him, and goes inside. When he returns Layla is gone―never to be seen again. That is the story Finn told to the police. But it is not the whole story.

Ten years later Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them close and now they intend to remain together. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him…even though a sixth sense tells him not to trust her.

Then, not long before he and Ellen are to be married, Finn gets a phone call. Someone from his past has seen Layla―hiding in plain sight. There are other odd occurrences: Long-lost items from Layla’s past that keep turning up around Finn and Ellen’s house. Emails from strangers who seem to know too much. Secret messages, clues, warnings. If Layla is alive―and on Finn’s trail―what does she want? And how much does she know?

A tour de force of psychological suspense, Bring Me Back will have you questioning everything and everyone until its stunning climax.

I’m going to start with the bad, then move to the good with this review! So the reason that I don’t recommend for “professional” thriller readers is that a TON of reviewers are saying that they guessed the ending, it was ridiculous, not suspenseful at all, etc… and I can kind of see that.

It is a slow burn at first, with a lot of romantic backstory and not much happening. I am someone who can never guess the twist, and even though it was more of a slower suspense novel with the thriller part coming towards the end, I did 100% not see the twist coming.  Am I stupid? I don’t know. I had a bit of trouble staying engaged with the book at first, before it got interesting.  It has the short chapters that are easy to flip through quickly though, then first alternates between “now” and “before”, then between Finn and Layla

IMG_20210512_170934_942

I liked the part about the Russian Dolls, although it seemed overused.  I also did like how totally, absolutely ludicrous the ending was… I didn’t think it was believable, but it was definitely crazy.  I didn’t say I liked the ending/twist itself, just again how out in left field it was 😂

I didn’t love the characters either, but that’s pretty normal in a suspense/thriller.  It’s always the husband, right? Hmmm.  The characters were better on audio, the narrators did a LOT for their personalities.

I listened to some of the book on audio and fully enjoyed listening to Kevin Hely and Cathleen McCarron.  They both made their characters sound like total psychopaths. The audiobook is about 8 hours long and was released through Macmillan Audio at time of the book’s original release.

Stable people don’t go around leaving little Russian dolls for others to find

B.A. Paris, Bring Me Back

Overall, yeah I would recommend for anyone looking for a quick, easy to read summer suspense novel.  I hear a lot about B.A. Paris’ novel Behind Closed Doors as well, so I am interested in that which is widely called a stronger read


Meet the Author (from Amazon)

Photo of BA Paris from Amazon

B A Paris is the internationally bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors, The Breakdown, Bring Me Back and The Dilemma. Having sold over one million copies in the UK alone, she is a New York Times bestseller as well as Sunday Times bestseller and a number one bestseller on Amazon and iBooks. Her books have been translated into 40 languages. Having lived in France for many years, she and her husband recently moved back to the UK.

Her fifth novel, The Therapist is out in **July, 2021**

-Amazon description. Release date edited
Categories
Fantasy

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

For YEARS now I have been so intimidated to start this huge, epic series of long books.  Especially with Bookstagram and the pressure to turn out many reviews of new books, it is a huge commitment to take on a series of books with 700-800+ pages each of tiny print.  It is interesting to note that when the book was first re released, it was split into two smaller books with larger print, and apparently marketed towards young adults.  (I ended up with a later edition MMPB with small print LOL). I don’t really think it’s a YA read, but the main characters ARE teens, and its fairly appropriate.

That said, I found a buddy read that is taking on one book per month and discussing it on discord as we go, so I said… WHY NOT! and jumped in.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Eye of the World
  • Series: The Wheel of Time, #1
  • Author: Robert Jordan
  • Publisher & Release: Tor Books, January 1990
  • Length: 814 pgs *mmpb versions with prologue and glossary included*
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 I think fantasy fans should give it a try, but there are many quest series with swords and sorcery out there

Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and pass. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

When The Two Rivers is attacked by Trollocs-a savage tribe of half-men, half-beasts- five villagers flee that night into a world they barely imagined, with new dangers waiting in the shadows and in the light.

I…I can’t even begin to do a more coherent summary.  Five villagers, a sorceress, a warden, and a bard, end up on this insane quest to provide protection to the young man the dark, formerly defeated entity is seeking.  That said, “the Wheel spins as the Wheel wills”, and they end up on an epic adventure with plenty of danger, close calls, coming of ages, magic, mysteries, lore to be discovered, and countless other things.

I think, looking back, that without writing a five page essay, it’s impossible to talk about EotW … And I am appreciating the book a lot more.

The Worldbuilding: is amazing.  It goes beyond scenery and weather, beyond local customs and food, descriptions of architecture and magic, to the legends that shaped the world. So much of the lore is based on the repetition of ages and cycles and stories, and Jordan just gives us so many ancient legends that are both interesting AND relevant to the present day characters.  His descriptions, although long winded at times, fully paint the scenes and characters.

That said, it is a very plot driven book, which I love.  

The Characters: are MANY. It took me forever to get them all straight in my head, and it took a while to kind of determine who was going to be important or not.  I think the cast is way too large but the important characters do have very unique points of view in their chapters, told in third person present tense.  All I will say in summary is that the more time I spent with the characters, the more I liked them, but it took 3/4 of the book before I started to care.  Some are funny, some serious, some annoying, all very brave, and carrying the blood of legendary old lines

The Magic: makes sense.  It is explained in detail as the book goes on, with females bearing the load of magic.  It used to be equal, until the male sorcerers went crazy and broke the world.  Now the women have different affinities, but men who can channel the One Power are seen as dangerous, since their magic is still corrupted.  The book offers plenty of exciting magic, offensive and defensive, cool tricks, and plenty more.

EotW vs LotR: the comparisons made by many people  between The Eye of the World and Lord of the Rings are many, and totally obvious .., I mean RJ literally ripped off certain scenes. Ex: a dark rider almost spotting the protagonist hiding in a shrubbery, looking around slowly – and he barely changes certain names, ideas, possessive objects driving their holders crazy… It’s so obvious that I think it’s totally intentional in book one, although RJ also inserts his own world building and endgame into the story

Overall: it wasn’t until I sat down and tried to write a review, that I realized how insanely complex and incredible the book is.  I do think it’s one of many LotR-esque epic high fantasy novels out there, and the slow burn, lore based fantasy won’t be for everyone, but I do highly recommend giving it a try.  

 

Cover art by Darrel K. Sweet, who illustrated all but the final cover of the series
lovely inner artwork
The cover of the first installment when the books were split! Look at Rand and Egwene!
Categories
Contemporary Fiction Young Adult

The Sea Is Salt and So am I (Book Review) – by Cassandra Hartt

Thank you so much to Roaring Book Press via Bookish First for the finished copy of The Sea Is Salt and So am I! Book received in exchange for an honest review – all opinions are mine!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Sea Is Salt and So am I
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: Cassandra Hartt
  • Publisher & Release: Roaring Book Press, June 8th 2021
  • Length: 374pgs
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟✨ for fans of YA contemporary

Here is the Synopsis from Amazon:

I’ll Give You the Sun meets Normal People in Cassandra Hartt’s The Sea Is Salt and So Am I, a stunning YA contemporary debut that asks if the secrets we keep and the people we love can change who we are.

West Finch is one hurricane away from falling into the sea.

Yet sixteen-year-old Harlow Prout is determined to save her small Maine hometown. If only she could stop getting in her own way and find someone, anyone, willing to help. But her best friend Ellis MacQueen “fixes” problems by running away from them—including his broken relationship with his twin brother, Tommy. And Tommy’s depression has hit a new low, so he’s not up for fixing anything.

In the wake of the town’s latest devastating storm, Tommy goes out for a swim that he doesn’t intend to survive. It’s his unexpected return that sets into motion a sea change between these three teens. One that tests old loyalties, sparks new romance, and uncovers painful secrets. And nothing stays secret in West Finch for long.

Exquisitely honest and shimmering with emotion, The Sea is Salt and So Am I is a captivating multi-POV story that probes the depths of what it means to love and trust—both ourselves and others.

I’m going to open this with one of my infamous OneReadingNurse medical rants: Don’t stop taking your psych meds or antidepressants (or any other medication) just because you feel better!! I wish Tommy had gotten lectured a LOT harder on page for this.  Also parents: for f*cks sake don’t trust that your teenager is taking their meds, the lack of parental oversight in this book had me so frustrated as a medical person!

Anyway! It’s really a decent book though and takes a good look at mental health and why teens shouldn’t think everything is their fault. It explores how our actions affect those around us. There is great description and scenery, a small town atmosphere, and a silly dog named Goose sho is only 6 but everyone seems to write off as ancient. Why do they keep saying a 6 year old dog is ready to drop dead of old age!?  They are all environmentally conscious too and have to consider both sides of an issue surrounding a protected bird species.

This book focuses on three teens in a Maine town that is one storm short of being lost to sea, and the lifelong attention-seeking competition between them. There are twin brothers and a then a girl that entered the picture about 5-6 years prior to the start of the book, and they just constantly swing attention seeking behaviors back and forth through poor life decisions, making each other’s lives miserable, and refusing to be happy for each other. Like typical teenagers, they have no concept of “the big picture” and believe that the entire world, and all of the others’ life decisions just revolve around them, are caused by them, etc.

This is what the competition looks like: One brother lost a leg, and the parents spent a fortune on a running blade…so the other brother probably started feeling bad, and said well I’ll eventually bottom out and kill myself. Fast forward to now and I swear it’s a competition. “Oh yeah? Well I’m going to crash a car”. “I’ll top you by going off my meds again.” “Well I’m going to ruin your relationship and engage in risky sexual behaviors like picking up a random person at Friendly’s” … (These are not actual quotes from the book). The two brothers just. never. quit. Then Harlow is trying to fix everyone and everything but is so self absorbed, and each one thinks it’s their fault that the others are behaving as such. The other part is that their parents all seem too wrapped up in other things to be paying half enough attention and its one big confusing  summer in West Finch.  That said though, I think Harlow is probably the most likeable of the three.

The real issue though? None of these kids should be, or feel, responsible for each other.

There is a lot of vague writing concerning the teens’ back story, which is why i dropped so many stars – I don’t like when authors vaguely hint at things and expect us to make significant connections.  The connection I made was that all three teens are terrible people, secretly in love, and in competition for both parental and friendly attention. I never figured out the animosity between Harlow and Tommy that led up to the Ruby thing, but it seems like they’ve been picking at each other for years until it ended in outright sabotage.

One other huge issue was that God should be capitalized in text, even when *cringe* used in the slang. I think it appeared 2-3 times and I’ve never seen it lowercased like that. I don’t know if the author meant is as a slight but it comes across as such.

Ultimately: this is a good and probably important YA read, I know a lot of people are focusing on mental health these days so it’s a well timed book.  I can recommend it as an honest look at mental health, keeping secrets, and trying to come of age.

Categories
Adventure Dystopian Fantasy

Flame Riders (ARC) by Sean Grigsby

Thank you so much to Angry Robot for the early digital copy of Flame Riders by Sean Grigsby! This is a fast paced military fantasy, that is book 3 in a series but can be read as a standalone.  All opinions are my own!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Flame Riders
  • Series: Smoke Eaters, #3 
  • Author: Sean Grigsby
  • Publisher & Release: Angry Robot, 06/22/21
  • Length: 320 pgs
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟 for fans of military fantasy and action stories

Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:

The third and final instalment in Sean’s rip-roaring ‘firefighters meet dragons’ fantasy series

In the final instalment of the Smoke Eaters series, the New United States Army has taken over and America has devolved into a full-on dragon apocalypse. Smoke eaters are banned and have gone into hiding to avoid being held prisoner by the soldiers.

Guiellermo Contreras is a private in the NUSA, and when he’s accused of potentially being a smoke eater upon pain of death, he escapes and sets out to find the heroes who disappeared years before. But what he discovers is that the NUSA has been working on something unthinkable, and it’s going to take more than a few smoke eaters to stop them.

First off I just want to say that I may increase my initial rating once I’ve read the first two books!

Additionally the cover art is absolutely stunning for all three books.

This is a fast paced novel that occurs after some kind of apocalypse brought on by dragons, and apparently a Phoenix had something to do with it as well.

There is a ton of action and many fun fighting scenes where sci-fi and fantasy cross paths for hi tech battles of smoke eaters vs dragons.  I would have liked more info on the experiments being done and technology used by the two forces.

I liked the team of characters and banter quite a bit. Brannigan and Happy were my two favorites, although I couldn’t really get behind Guillermo (the main character). He had a good start and end but lost me in the middle after he kept freezing up and putting his teammates in danger. Brannigan was absolutely hilarious and I kind of definitely want to go back and read his book.

One thing that Grigsby did well was create a lingo and sense of team for the smoke eaters, using terms like “scaly” to refer to a dragon and there is a definite sense of cohesion within the crew.

There was some pretty coarse language as well but not too much more than I’d expect in a military based book.

My main thing was that while the book definitely could work as a standalone, there is no background to know why there are dragons everywhere, how they got there, or who the heck all the returning characters are.  I would definitely recommend for anyone looking for a hi tech fantastical military adventure, but would probably recommend reading the trilogy to meet the full cast of  heroes first.

tforces.thank you again to Angry Robot for the early read!!

Categories
Fantasy

Warrior’s Ransom (ARC) by Jeff Wheeler

Thank you so much to 47North via NetGalley for the early read of Warrior’s Ransom! I am a huge fan of the Kingfountain books, and this sequel to Knight’s Ransom (click here for that review) is another big winner for me. All opinions are my own!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Warrior’s Ransom
  • Series: The First Argentines, #2
  • Author: Jeff Wheeler
  • Publisher & Release: 47North, 5/18/21
  • Length: 363 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡 yes for fans of the genre, or those interested in fantasy/medieval/clean fiction!

Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:

A loyal knight is on a quest to save a dynasty from itself in the thrilling sequel to Knight’s Ransom by Wall Street Journal bestselling author Jeff Wheeler.

After a pilgrimage to the East Kingdoms seeking a blessing from the Fountain, source of the land’s magic, Sir Ransom Barton returns home in search of two dreams: Claire de Murrow, the heiress he loves, and a patron for his warrior skills. Unexpectedly, Ransom finds himself in the favor of Devon, the notorious Elder King. Brought into the ruler’s mesnie and given two wards of his own, Ransom is devoted to his privileged new position. He’s also privy to the running of the realm and to all its courtly intrigues—notably, the machinations of the king’s three remaining sons, all engaged in a manipulative battle to become heir to the throne.

As Ransom is thrust into the middle of poisonous family conspiracies and betrayals, allegiances are shattered, and Ransom fears he may end up serving his worst enemy—or worse, face exile for demonstrating loyalty.

Drawing on his developing powers, Ransom takes up arms against the dark forces coming in a war that will test the limits of his courage and determine the fate of the dangerous and fractious Argentine dynasty.

I read this book back before it was released, and honestly think it put me into a weeklong book and writing hangover.

You can read my linked above review for book one in the series, and know that I already love the characters and world so much.

The action in this one was pretty breakneck. I thought we were going to spend half the book on Ransom’s pilgrimage, and was pleasantly surprised to find him right back in Kingfountain trying to play peacemaker between the king and his sons again.

Intrigue, honor, knights and warhorses, and of course war…

What I especially liked about this sequel was how it examined everyone as a morally gray character. Ransom and the poisoner are two sides of the same coin, both with the potential for great evil. Ransom recognizes this and does his best to serve his king with honor, vs succumbing to the black morass of his war deeds and experiences.

Devon Argentine (the elder king) is absolutely an amazing character as well, he might be sadistic and dangling the kingdom in front of his sons, but I really think that he just wanted to ease one of them into a peaceful secession. Watching his arc in this book was more than a little bit heartbreaking. Message noted: thank your king / father /provider once in a while

I also love love love how honorable Ransom is towards women: in the age of publish all the promiscuity, Ransom was totally ready to marry that lady that kissed him in front of his men! But Clare, oh Clare… It’s time for some Clare in the spotlight.

Estian is back… Benedict is back… we gain a few new characters that are all really nice additions too, and the poisoner is absolutely terrifying in this one.

If you’ve read this far, you will learn what this book taught me… So Wheeler makes things really, really convenient for Ransom, almost to the point that it deducts from the story. He really doesn’t though: no one can deny that Ransom is a hero, brave as anything, and deserving of all his rewards. I think things happen conveniently because Wheeler wanted to set up a certain storyline going forward, and that’s where he put his intrigue and energy. I know a lot of authors do this, and I tend to deduct for it, but here I can pretty plainly tell what the real objectives of the story are.

If I think the author is just being lazy and having things fall into place, I can’t deal with it. I think this is the first book that is carried enough by it’s intrigues and action, that I can forgive the things handed Ransom in order to further the story along.

Lastly: I really liked how Wheeler is starting to explore some of the ancient legends of Kingfountain. I think after so many books he can afford to give us a little deep lore at this point, and I hope this continues in book two!

Dialogue, self reflection, great characters, and a plot of war between King and sons that will have your head spinning… Don’t forget Ransom’s terrifically ugly horse… I fully recommend the series to pretty much anyone!