Categories
Fantasy Historical Fiction

ARC Review: The Tower of Fools by Andrzej Sapkowski

     Thank you so much to Orbit Books for the eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own.

Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Tower of Fools
  • Series: The Hussite Trilogy, #1
  • Author: Andrzej Sapkowski, translated by David French
  • Publisher & Release: Orbit Books, 10/27/20 (original 2002)
  • Length: 576 Pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Yes but apparently not for easily offended people

The synopsis from GoodReads:

Reinmar of Bielawa, sometimes known as Reynevan, is a doctor, a magician, and according to some, a charlatan.  When a thoughtless indiscretion finds him caught in the crosshairs of powerful noble family, he is forced to flee his home.

Once he passes beyond the city borders, he finds that there are dangers ahead as well as behind. Strange mystical forces are gathering in the shadows.  Pursued not only by the affronted Stercza brothers, bent on vengeance, but also by the Holy Inquisition, Reynevan finds himself in the Narrenturm, the Tower of Fools.

The Tower is an asylum for the mad, or for those who dare to think differently and challenge the prevailing order.  Escaping the Tower, avoiding the conflict around him, and keeping his own sanity might prove a greater challenge than Reynevan ever imagined.

Oh Reynevan, part of me thinks that him and his entire lot needed a turn in the asylum.  After bedding a knight’s wife and apparently falling madly in love (which she clearly didn’t return), Reynevan sets off on a series of misadventures when he should honestly be fleeing the country.

This is a very historically dense book, with many names and details that bogged the pace down quite a bit.  That said, I don’t know a darn thing about the Hussite wars so I felt like I learned SO much, and it was interesting too to see why the wars started and how the church kind of just devolved into heretical “witch hunts” and went to the crusades.  There is more history than fantasy but it felt so real that I had more than enough to keep my imagination going.

The atmosphere felt appropriate too, these religious groups hated each other.  There is suspicion and people were encouraged to rat out their neighbors for clemency.  Someone is killing merchants, the Knights are on their way out, and wallcreepers are turning into humans and making dark deals.  I know a lot of people aren’t liking all the Latin left in the book but like the prayers weren’t spoken in English and do y’all really care what they say?  Even the bits left in sentences make more or less sense if you know anything about word roots, and if not, I doubt much is being missed.

I did just love the characters too.  Scharley had me literally CRYING I was laughing so hard during one totally fake exorcism scene.  I didn’t realize that Sapkowski had a sense of humor but the banter and conversations and occasional one liners from side characters are amazing, and I think David French did a great job bringing the characters through the translation.  Reynevan himself is a moron though, he got so much great advice and ended up ignoring all of it, captured, and imprisoned instead.  Riding through the towns and hearing the different townspeople’s interpretations of happenings and politics was interesting too.

I think this series is really going to heat up in book two, with the wars starting and a lot of the setting and exposition out of the way.  I will definitely be reading on when the next book comes out!

Thank you so much again to Orbit Books for the early copy!

Categories
Fantasy Middle Grade Young Adult

Book Review: Protagonist Bound by Geanna Culbertson

     Thank you so much to the author for a review copy in exchange for an honest review! A while back I won a hard copy of the second book in the series in a giveaway, and she was nice enough to provide the prior novel too!

Quick Facts:

  • Title: Protagonist Bound
  • Series: Crisanta Knight, #1
  • Author: Geanna Culbertson
  • Publisher & Release: BQB Publishing – 2016
  • Length: 462 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Yes for middle grade/YA and fans of good clean fantasy fiction and fairytales

Here is the synopis:

The next generation – the children of Snow White, Cinderella, and others – have lives and stories of their own. And not just long ago and far away but (sort of) here and now! Enjoy!

I was going to be a great protagonist. At least that’s what my mom, Cinderella, kept telling me. I, however, had my doubts. Unlike most main characters at Lady Agnue’s School for Princesses & Other Female Protagonists, I was opinionated, bold, and headstrong. Moreover, for a princess, I had a lot of issues. I’m talking vicious nightmares about people I’ve never met, a total stalker prince, and a Fairy Godmother for an enemy.

But I digress. Because here’s the thing about living in an enchanted realm of fairytale characters, crazy junk you never planned on happens all the time. One minute you could be practicing fainting exercises in Damsels in Distress class, sword fighting in a field, or flying on a Pegasus, and the next, BAM! Your book has begun and you’re saddled with a prophecy that changes everything.

I still don’t know if I will be a great protagonist one day. But I know one thing about my fate, for certain. Despite what The Author and the antagonists have in store for me, whatever it costs. . .I’ll be the one taking charge of my own story

     I think the synopsis says it all.  The children of our favorite fairy tale characters are learning how to be protagonists.  The females don’t have great prospects as far as Crisa is concerned, and she is determined to write her own fate and be something more than a legacy character.

     It’s a good concept and there is plenty of world building to set the stage for the series.  Descriptions of the land, food, societal expectations, and animals are awesome.  We even get a peek into some of the other kingdoms and I like the world of Book so far.  If flying horses and a fairy godmother agency aren’t enough to interest you, maybe the mysteries and antagonists are?  I’m quite curious about them since we only got a glimpse in this first installment.

     The characters are a tight group of friends who each have their elements of surprise too.  SJ is brilliant at potions, Blue is a daring young lady, and Crisa just wants to be her own person.  I liked the teamwork and banter between the friends.  There are some boys in the group who seem to act like pretty typical teenage boys, and I’m curious to learn more about the new boy in the group, Daniel.  Crisa got to learn all about how frustrating teenage boys can be🤣  Thankfully without the romance elements.  Crisa’s romantic prophesy sounds terrible to her so far, so we’ll see how that turns out.  

     For a good, fairly wholesome, clean read that I would happily recommend to any age group at all, definitely check out this series.  The series and its various books have been recognized by a number of independent book awards for everything from girl-power to excellence in young adult literature, and I think it’s all well deserved.  I am told that each book holds more action than the prior so I’m excited to read the next one soon!

Thank you again to the author for my review copy, all opinions are my own

Categories
Fantasy Horror

Book Tour and Giveaway! A Ritual of Bone by Lee C. Conley

     Thank you so much to Storytellers On Tour and Lee C. Conley for having me on this tour for A Ritual of Bone! I can not for the life of me picture a more perfect dark fantasy/horror novel for this time of year and I’m so glad to have read it.  Book two in the series, A Ritual of Flesh, was actually published earlier this month and I’ll tell you right now that I already bought it and can’t wait to start reading.

Anyway, here we go!

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Quick Facts:

  • Title: A Ritual of Bone
  • Series: The Dead Sagas, #1
  • Author: Lee C. Conley 
  • Publisher & Release: Wolves of Valour Publications – June, 2019
  • Length: 384 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ YES for all my dark fantasy, horror, warrior and Elder Scrolls loving friends

Here is the synopsis:

Only valour and steel can stand against the rising dead

Arnar is a land of warriors, its people as stalwart as the stones themselves. In a land of dark forests and ancient hill forts, a forgotten evil is awoken by curious minds.

The Great Histories and the Sagas say nothing of this evil, long passed from the memory of even the studious scholars of the College. For centuries, the scholars of Arnar have kept these records and preserved the knowledge and great deeds of a proud people. The story of these peoples forever chronicled in the Sagas of the Great Histories.

Now the evil spreads and the dead walk in its wake, terrible creatures roam the night and even the spirits are restless. The Dead Sagas could perhaps be the final chapters of these great records

Many threads entwine to tell this Saga, interweaving the tales of those who played their part in the search for answers and ultimately their fight for survival. Amid plague, invasion and terror, the inexorable rise of the dead sends a kingdom scrabbling to its knees.

     This book is just everything my Spooktober reading list needed to be complete, and so much more.  The country of Arnar is finally at a tentative peace with it’s neighbor, while all hell breaks loose within the kingdom itself.  

     A master scholar from the College brought back and modified a long forgotten ritual that seems to have awoken some old and ancient evil, unleashing plague and sickness and zombies.  YES, picture Skyrim-esque warriors with great axes, swords and shields and bows, discovering and battling the walking dead.  Cold mountain passes, savage cannibalistic tribes in the wilds, ancient stone ruins left over from long extinct peoples.

     The combined setting, atmosphere, and writing style in this book is incredible.  There are four or five distinct storylines being told that start with the evil being unleashed, and then tell of various characters in different parts of the country discovering and dealing with the early consequences.  Each of these storylines is going to converge in the second book and I am so excited.  Back to the atmosphere though – the permeation of evil, unsettled emotions, fear, dread, loss, and chills just are equally potent through each storyline so that each was interesting and my attention never drifted.  Whether the warrior Arnuld, the girl Nym, the Hunter Bjorn, or the apprentice, each story had me rapt between the character’s plight, flight, and loss.  I think the atmosphere is what really tied this book together.

     Of course there is plenty of gore and blood and grief as well… I mean there ARE zombies.  Partially self aware zombies at times.  It really was more than a little horrifying at times but also amazing.

     Even with a few slight editing mishaps, I happily give this book every star imaginable.  As a debut novel I honestly expected a lot worse and had an amazing surprise when I ended up hooked from page one, and rapt until the end. I recommend it fully to all adult fans of the genres!


Equally important are the links to the other blog tour stops and giveaway!! Please find the tour schedule here

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Here is the link to the Tour Wide Giveaway!

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Prize: A Ritual of Bone – Grand Prize: One (1) signed hardcover (international), Runners-Up: Five (5) winners, choice of audiobook codes (US/UK) or ebooks (international)


Lastly I hope that you will check out the author’s links!

Website: http://www.leeconleyauthor.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LongswordLee
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LeeConleyAuthor/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/leeconleyauthor/
Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/user/LeeConleyAuthor
Newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/ec0e4d5c30e7/leeconleyauthlaningpage
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/sho

Categories
Crime Fantasy Paranormal Science Fiction

Book Review: Night Terrors by Tim Waggoner

Thank you so much to Angry Robot Books for the finished copy of Night Terrors in exchange for an honest review!  This is a perfect Halloween time book.

Quick Facts:

  • Title: Night Terrors
  • Series: Shadow Watch, #1
  • Author: Tim Waggoner
  • Publisher & Release: Angry Robot Books – 2014, reissued October, 2020
  • Length: 352 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ yes for Urban Fantasy fans!

Here is the synopsis from Amazon:

When you dream, you visit the Maelstrom. Dream long enough and hard enough, and your dreams can break through into the living world.

So can your nightmares.

And who’s there to catch the dreams and nightmares as they fall into reality?

Meet the Shadow Watch. Pray you never need them…

I am usually not an urban fantasy reader at all, but Night Terrors was an absolutely perfect #Spooktober read.  Certain humans are able to dream their nightmares into creation, and then become ideators.  No longer needing sleep, the humans and their dreams – called incubus/incubi) – tend to stay together in the real world.  With violent tastes at night time and a desire to live freely on Earth, an agency called the Shadow Watch has developed to keep the order in both Earth and Nod, the alternate realm.

This book kept me flying through the pages.  There isn’t much info dumping so you get to learn the world while experiencing the action.  Audra is a Shadow Watch agent and her partner is her incubus, a delightfully homicidal clown named Mr Jinx.  During the day these creations take on normal aspects, and Jinx turns into an art loving papa bear.  At night though he wreaks havoc on rogue Incubi with Audra and an arsenal of funny weapons.

Or they try anyway. They completely botch a case and end up going rogue to foil a plot against the two realms.  Jinx and Audra are both funny and interesting characters, so are the other host of humans and Incubi in the book.  A giant dog and pirate man, some terror being called The Darkness, and a living hearse are some of the other awesome characters.  The banter is about as amazing as you’d expect from this group.

Add in some psycho villains, sci fi level weapons, and a Circus Psychosis complete with a group of insane clowns, and you have Night Terrors.  It’s probably the most fun I’ve had reading a detective type novel since Men In Black, and oddly enough I was getting some Daughter of Smoke and Bone vibes, in the creation and alternate world aspects as well as ridiculous looking chimaera/Incubi.

I wish the end was a little less easily resolved, but I am 100% on board for book 2 to find out more.

Thank you again so much to Angry Robot Books for the review copy! As always, all opinions are my own 🖤

Categories
Uncategorized

Book Review: When Enemies Offend Thee by Sally Whitney

Thank you so much to Kate Rock Book Tours for providing an e-copy of the novel for review and tour purposes! All opinions are my own!

Quick Facts:

  • Title: When Enemies Offend Thee
  • Series: Standalone
  • Author: Sally M. Whitney
  • Publisher & Release: Pen L Publishing, 3/1/2020
  • Length: 329 Pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟✨ for fans of contemporaries

Here is the synopsis from Amazon:

Viciousness can lurk beneath even the most serene of surfaces.

Recently widowed, Clementine Loftis returns to her hometown in North Carolina looking for comfort and peace. Instead, she finds an angry former high-school classmate who sexually assaults her in a bizarre attempt to settle an old score.

When her lack of evidence prevents police from charging him, Clementine vows to get even on her own. After her first attempt doesn’t pan out, she escalates her effort. When that fails, she escalates again . . . and again.

Clementine’s determination to make her attacker pay for what he’s done drives her to walk a fine, dangerous line between vengeance and justice, making her question who she really is and whether she can ever again be the woman she wants to be.

Clementine returns to her hometown to start anew after her spouse dies. She is looking to restart her life and open an antique store. After she is raped at knife point, Clementine has to come to terms with an inconceivable lack of justice in the system and find her own power again. How can she do it?

This book handles some tough topics but also is a great read about reconnecting with family, good friends, racial divides, revenge, justice, staying true to your morals, and second chances. There is also a bit of a discourse on power and sanity and going over the edge.

I really enjoyed the characters, especially Ehrlene and Alfred. I think Ehrlene was my favorite. She was the strong and sensible one and it was interesting to read about the women’s friendship through the lens of someone who’s mother used to work for Clementine’s. I had a hard time reconciling part 1 Clementine with the one in part 2 but I mean really, what would I do in her shoes? I think I would lose my mind in her shoes and just stab the guy, but Root Magic was interesting too. The IRS thing just seemed a little ridiculous and I also couldn’t reconcile Clementine hurting innocent people, which was where the star deduction came in.

If you like contemporary novels with female friendships, found family and bit of a thriller element, check this one out!

Thank you again to Kate Rock Book Tours for having me on the Instagram Tour!


I found some author links to share:

Author’s Website: https://sallywhitney.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/smwhitney65/

The Book on Amazon:

Categories
Fantasy

Book Tour Stop!! Hidden Realm by T.R. Slauf

     Thank you so much to Literary Bound Tours for having me on the tour for Hidden Realm by T.R. Slauf!  Pay attention my fairytale and dark fantasy loving friends because you don’t want to miss this one!

Quick Facts:

  • Title: Hidden Realm
  • Series: Legends of Lightning, #1
  • Author: T.R. Slauf
  • Publisher & Release: self published, October 6th 2020
  • Length: 267 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 yes for not fainthearted fans of the genre who can take a few bawdy/lewd/crude exchanges and a house pet sacrificed

Here is the synopsis:

     “The next Realm Walker will bring with them a storm. Lightning must fight the Crimson Shadow, or the lands will be cast into eternal darkness.”

     When she was a child, Esther was plagued with vivid nightmares. Now they have returned to haunt her. Bloodthirsty monsters chase her through a forest of dead trees while a mysterious hooded figure stalks her. After waking with fresh wounds from her dreams, Esther searches for the truth about who she is and the Hidden Realm she is destined to save.

     Join Esther on her journey of self-discovery as she travels into a world long forgotten. Unsure if she can trust her hooded guide, she is hunted by unknown enemies and smothered by expectations of grandeur. Deciphering friend from foe she travels the lands, trying to unite kingdoms torn by pride. 

Esther is a resident of modern day Earth who finds herself literally torn between two realms. After performing a ritual to enter the Hidden Realm, which is a mashup of dark fairy tales based off of the brothers Grimm, she must unite the kingdom against the elusive (but actually pretty tragic and complicated) enemy called the Crimson Shadow.

I really enjoyed the story itself, and reading all the gritty details found in a proper dark fantasy. Evil wolves, humans talking to animals, the stereotypical man of all men character, bandits, magic, dragons that hoard books, and the fairy tale queens like you’ve never seen them before, Hidden Realm has something for every lover of stories. The second half and especially last quarter also moved significantly faster than the first half, which was a nice treat that made the book hard to put down.

I was not such a fan of the main character, Esther, mainly due to a lack of back story that enabled her to step into her role of heroine. She was a timid librarian that managed to step into a world of danger and then hardly ever looked back. She never even mentioned her father after he passed away, and let Oison off the hook way too easily for being evasive. I really love the side characters and banter though. Davon was the perfect innocent boy chatting with birds who grew right into hiself, I also loved Winston, and so much of the dialogue in the book was just perfect.

Not sure they would have had the word fuck in fairytale land though. On that note I think Slauf did a great job with atmosphere and mood setting between characters. I would have liked a little more description of the physical settings in some places.

All in all this book had me rapt, and I fully recommend it but not for the easily offended or faint of heart. Content includes everything from bandits laughing about female and male rape to a house pet being sacrificed, to swearing, gore, parental death, pairings of many gender combinations in both hook ups and marriage, talk of sibling loss, STDs, and others. As I said – a dark fantasy gem.

Thank you again so much to Literary Bound Tours for having me on the tour for Hidden Realm!


Here is the link so you can check out what the other hosts think!

Here is the author info and book links!

About T.R. Slauf

I have always been torn between two halves of myself; one half revels in all things scientific and longs to explore the secrets of the universe, while the other half finds solace and excitement within the arts. When it came time to choose a college degree, I put aside my creative hobbies and perused a career path in biochemistry. For me, college was an expensive privilege, thus I decided a degree within STEM was the most logical route for my costly investments. Through my years in college I still tried to enjoy the arts, reading novels and drawing in my sketchbooks when time permitted.

​Five long years later, I graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and molecular biology. I immediately began working full time in an academic research lab, it was miserable. I quickly grew weary and depressed in the toxic and hostile work environment created by our supervisor. I begun interviewing for other jobs and exploring my creative hobbies again when my congenital heart condition required me to have another open-heart surgery.

​In the months before my operation, I became determined to finish my first novel; I had started and abandoned several over the years. Once I was well enough, I continued writing during my recovery. Nine months after my operation, I left my job at the research lab and invested more of myself in my novel. It wasn’t an easy transition and it did not happen over-night, but I decided to start a new career as a novelist.  

​Now, almost three years later I am proud to share with you my debut novel Legends of Lightning, Hidden Realm. I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I enjoyed bringing it to life. I am eager to hear your thoughts, please leave reviews or contact me directly. I look forward to sharing many more stories with you in the future.

Links:

Website: https://www.trslauf.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/t.r.slauf

Blog: http://trslauf.com/sneak-peeks

Buy the Book;

Categories
Dystopian Fantasy Science Fiction

Book Review: Skyhunter by Marie Lu

Thank you to Bookish First and the publisher for providing a finished copy of Skyhunter in exchange for an honest review!

Quick Facts:

  • Title: Skyhunter
  • Series: Skyhunter, #1
  • Author: Marie Lu
  • Publisher & Release: Roaring Brook Press 9/29/20 
  • Length: 384 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 for the target age range, sure

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

A broken world.
An overwhelming evil.
A team of warriors ready to strike back.

Talin is a Striker, a member of an elite fighting force that stands as the last defense for the only free nation in the world: Mara.

A refugee, Talin knows firsthand the horrors of the Federation, a world-dominating war machine responsible for destroying nation after nation with its terrifying army of mutant beasts known only as Ghosts.

But when a mysterious prisoner is brought from the front to Mara’s capital, Talin senses there’s more to him than meets the eye. Is he a spy from the Federation? What secrets is he hiding?

Only one thing is clear: Talin is ready to fight to the death alongside her fellow Strikers for the only homeland she has left… with or without the boy who might just be the weapon to save—or destroy—them all.

To put my rating into perspective, I look at the target age range of the book and how appropriate it is for that group too, not necessarily for my own adult enjoyment. In this case 12-17 is advertised and I am not necessarily rating these in comparison to adult novels.

Skyhunter is a pretty exciting YA scifi/dystopia where a conquering nation is taking over it’s continent and one free nation, Mara, is left to fight back. Mara presents an elite force of fighters, mainly teens because death forces a high turnover rate, that fights against the war-machine monsters created by the Federation. All bets are off when one of the Federation experiments breaks loose and joins forces with Mara’s soldiers, especially with Talin, the main character.

I really liked the plot and scheming and felt like the action remained steady enough to keep me reading. The chapter lengths were perfect too to keep pages turning. Teens should have no problem staying engaged here, even if some of the action and plot revelations happen rather conveniently, i would expect this in books geared for 12 year olds. There is some monster face mashing gore and war scenes that might be a bit much for the low age range but it wasn’t too graphic.

I just loved the characters too. Talin can’t speak and is a bit of a pariah among the Strikers due to her ethnicity, but she remains strong in the face of it and continues to be a strong fighter. Red the Skyhunter is interesting too, I liked him ever since his little mouse friend popped out.  The book puts a huge emphasis on enemies and “enemies” also having human faces, and he is a great example of this.  There were a whole host of funny, strong, soft, ancillary characters too and I liked their little war band family of proximity.

The book remained more action than character driven, which I prefer. More world and action than character/relationship building and I am thankful that any romance remained contained mostly to shy glances and observations. One of my favorite aspects was how each enemy, even the monsters, had a human face presented as well and it kept the characters truer to their own humanity I think.

The ending too, omg the ending. I will need to refresh myself on this book before the next comes out because honestly I’ll probably forget it in two weeks but I definitely want to know what happens next!!

Categories
Fantasy

Book Tour Stop and Giveaway! A Wizard’s Forge by A.M. Justice

     Thank you so much to Storytellers On Tour for having me on the tour for A Wizard’s Forge!  Please check out the links at the bottom for the giveaway and other tour hosts!  While this was published in 2016, we are featuring the book to generate buzz for the upcoming sequel, A Wizard’s Sacrifice, coming on October 6th

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Quick Facts: 

  • Title: A Wizard’s Forge
  • Series: The Woern Saga, #1
  • Author: A.M. Justice
  • Published: Wise Ink Creative Publishing – September 2016
  • Length: 326 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟 with caution

Here is the synopsis:

Wizards are forged, not born.

Victoria of Ourtown lived through a nightmare to become the ruthless soldier known as Vic the Blade. Once she wished to explore the world settled by her spacefaring ancestors; now she thinks only of revenge.

Prince Ashel’s carefree days are filled with music, revels, and dreams of a life with Vic. Those hopes die when the thrust of an assassin’s knife drives him to war.

The target of Vic’s and Ashel’s wrath is Lornk Korng, a tyrant whose schemes stretch across a continent and a lifetime.

A mysterious alien race holds the key to a legendary—and lethal—power. Whoever possesses this power will hold the world in their hands. Will they save it, or doom it?

A gripping tale of empowerment and revenge plays out against a breathtaking backdrop of dark fantasy and science fiction.

     I have strong mixed feelings about the book but ended up at a 3 star rating.  Let me talk about the good things and then come back to the bad things, and end on a good note again.

     I liked the plot in general quite a bit.  A girl is captured as a young teen and sent to be essentially a sex slave to a realm lord.  She ends up escaped and in the hands of the Royal family of his enemy country, then in the military, and eventually obviously discovers magical prowess.  Whatever other misgivings I had, the book stayed interesting. 

     The only power that seems to exist in the land is mind speech and Listening, which is frustrating for those who don’t have it and interesting if not complicated for those who do.  Other than this telekinesis, only the wizard(s) have any magical prowess involving air/matter manipulation and the ability is guarded by a strange race of desert people. 

     The characters are a true mixed bag but there were a few highlights, including the manipulative Queen Elekia, Prince Ashel, and quite a few of the soldiers within Vic’s military circle.  

     The world building is pretty well done including religious descriptions that differ but are all based off of the Legend (or reality depending on who you ask) of the space ship Elesendar that originally brought humans to the world.

     And now I branch into my many digressions.  I feel like the space ship had to be real because you can’t just create warp drives and captains logs, but it’s totally irrelevant to the entire story, world, book, etc.  One other sci-fi element exists but the world denizens don’t even have electricity or firearms or anything, it’s very much a world of horses and swords WHERE a random network teleportation device exists.  Ummm…?

     As far as content, Vic’s entire world rotates around her lasting feelings for her captor, who tortured and stripped and humiliated her while constantly assaulting her. Now Vic was only 14 at first so it’s like grooming a child but with torture. But then in the weirdest situations, even while intent on killing him years and years later she kept remembering his fingers doing things to her and getting aroused and there were some pretty graphic descriptions.  Even with that she was just going to hop in bed with his son too.  And she never gets past it, or seems very hard to try to.  I thought this was written by a guy that has never interacted with a female and was a little surprised when I went back and reminded myself who was writing it.

     Additionally, there were so many times where random names and places were thrown in and never mentioned before.  Development between characters was hardly there – one minute they just met, then the book fast forwards and everyone is close friends without anything in between.  This occurred with skills too, Vic became a pretty pro wizard in about ten minutes and then a day or two later was capable of huge feats.  Plot forwarding is a plus but development in general is a hard no in this book.  This is why I didn’t list any of the main characters as favorites, it was impossible to connect to them. There are also a huge number of times where characters jump out of character and their actions make little sense.  

     There is one stylistic thing that kept popping up where chapters or breaks would begin in the middle of action, then we had to backtrack to learn what was going on.  To me this was just confusing and jarring every time because I thought I missed something, then learned to roll with it.  The other thing related to this is that especially with major revelations or with action happening, I think the author was trying to connect dots in the readers head by being vague and cryptic but I frankly just didn’t get it at times and wish the information had been spelled out.  

     Also Woern, as far as I remember, was never mentioned so I’m curious about the name of the series.

     Ok deep breath, let’s pull this back to the positives.

     I read the entire thing without skimming, no matter how frustrating it got.  I saw a LOT of really hard but sensible criticism for this book and I think the author probably took some of it into consideration for the next book, which I at least do want to read at some point.

     Do I recommend this book?  Honestly I have mixed feelings but the plot itself isn’t terrible and I think there are plenty of people who will enjoy it.


     Thank you again to Storytellers On Tour for having me! Here is the schedule so that you guys can see what the others thought of the book:

Tour Schedule: A Wizard’s Forge by A.M. Justice


The giveaway:

**GIVEAWAY**
We’re hosting a tour-wide giveaway!
 
Prize: The Woern Saga Book Bundle – Grand Prize: Signed Paperbacks, Runners-Up: Ebooks
Starts: September 30th, 2020 at 12:00am EDT
Ends: October 7th, 2020 at 11:59pm EDT
Restrictions: Paperbacks are US Only. Ebooks are international
Direct link:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e832e98847/?

Book info and Author links:

• Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30813842-a-wizard-s-forge
• Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1945769076

Author Links
Website: https://www.amjusticeauthor.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AMJusticeWrites
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AMJusticeauthor/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amjusticeauthor/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6903962.A_M_Justice

Categories
Science Fiction Thrillers

Novella Review: Dust & Lightning by Rebecca Crunden

Thank you so much to Rebecca Crunden for sending an epub copy of her sci-fi novella in exchange for an honest review!

Quick Facts:

  • Title: Dust & Lightning
  • Series: standalone
  • Author: Rebecca Crunden
  • Length: 124 pages
  • Publisher & Release: Self – February 2020
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 yes for fans of scifi and action!

Here is the description from Amazon:

In the near future, humans have gone beyond simple space travel. By the year 4054, multiple solar systems are inhabited, and taking a spaceship is as commonplace as taking an aeroplane.

Unfortunately, not everything about the future is so advanced. The central planets, led by Earth, have risen high at the expense of cheap labour on distant worlds. Dissent is widespread and arrests are common. Sometimes prisoners are released; sometimes they disappear without a trace, sent to labour camps in other solar systems.

When Ames Emerys receives a letter telling him that his brother Callum has died en route to the remote planet of Kilnin, he takes the first ship he can off Earth, desperate for answers. But the secrets Ames uncovers prove far more dangerous than he could have imagined.

And trouble isn’t far behind.

I read this in one session because the action just never stopped and it was impossible to put down. It was believable action too, involving a lot of narrow escapes and cool powers, and I felt like it was well paced.

It’s only 117 pages but there is enough description to get a visual image of the important places and objects, as well as a good sense of setting.

In the brief span of knowing these characters I definitely felt like I knew Ames pretty well, and could at least appreciate Violet for her sense of daring and Callum for his strength. Ames is out to rescue his brother and discovers a whole can of worms (ha ha) involving the corruption of the Democratic Planetary Alliance.

I hope there is a part 2 to this because I really want to know the outcome of the rebellion!


Author and purchase links:

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51004978-dust-lightning
Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Dust-Lightning-Rebecca-Crunden-ebook/dp/B084HKS69M/
Website: https://rebeccacrunden.com
Categories
Science Fiction

ARC Review: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

Thank you so much to Tor Books via NetGalley for the e ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!

Quick Facts:

  • Title: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars
  • Series: currently a standalone in his new ‘Fractalverse’
  • Author: Christopher Paolini
  • Publisher & Release: Tor Books – 9/15/20
  • Length: 880 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟✨ For fans, yes

Here is the description from GoodReads:

Kira Navárez dreamed of life on new worlds. Now she’s awakened a nightmare.

During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.

As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human.

While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope . . .

My first thoughts upon putting the book down were “can I come up now? Is it over?” Not necessarily in a bad way but this is an extremely long book to read on a Kindle. It’s a reviewers biggest nightmare to end up with a super long book that eats into the reading productivity of the month. Literally I wanted to finish this weeks ago before pub date but it wasn’t a quick read, it was impossible to skim for fear of missing anything, and then I had to collect my thoughts.

I think if people have time to get lost in this massive world that spans everything from xenobiology to history of lost alien races, from intergalactic war to peace, multiple settings and two full crews, and immense amounts of world building along the way… It’s a pretty solid space epic.

I might have enjoyed the book more spread out and developed as a trilogy, bringing the different crews and adventures and timelines into more separate stories. As it was, I felt yanked from one setting to another just as I was getting comfortable with the place and people involved in the prior one. It takes place over…. Somewhere between 2-4 years I think.

The world building and science involved is something amazing though, the years put into writing this are quite clear. I think I read 8 years he spent drafting and writing and re-writing. Sometimes the details and world building dragged the plot to a standstill, which explains the length in both time count and reading time for me.

The Wallfish crew were my favorite characters. Falconi and Trig and Sparrow and the ship’s pets were up my alley of dark humour at times. That is a crew that I would happily spend endless hours with. I never really connected with Kira herself, she never felt real and although I liked her well enough, I felt kind of blah about what happened to her.

I think Gregorovich, the ship mind, is widely a fan favorite and I 100% agree.

The crew is gathering in the mess hall, if you wish to partake, O Spiky Meatbag. – Gregorovich

Or when he calls the alien Be-tentacled friend, Queen of Thorns, or Sparrow Birdname! But then also Gregorovich:

I screamed, though I have no mouth to scream. I wept, though I have no eyes for tears. I crawled through space and time, a worm inching through a labyrinth built by the dreams of a mad god. This I learned, meatbag, this and nothing more: when air, food, and shelter are assured, only two things matter. Work and companionship. To be alone and without purpose is to be the living dead.”

Definitely some pretty well multifaceted characters, I think that crew together is one of the more shippable ones in adult literature that I’ve read.

I was totally ok with that ending too, bittersweet and I get along really well.

All in all: not bad but I think the book got lost in itself at times for being a standalone. At this point it is the starting point of a new universe, but apparently to be a standalone within that world so all that worldbuilding may make more sense later on.

Also: I think PigFinger should have been included in the dictionary at the end 🤣

Have you read it? Want to discuss it? Leave a comment!