Categories
Contemporary Fiction Middle Grade Mysteries

Book Tour And Giveaway! The Wild Path by Sarah R. Baughman

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours for having me on the tour for The Wild path!! I will share the synopsis, a quick review, and my favorite quotes from the book mixed in!. I will start by saying that this book has a huge 5 star 🐴🐴🐴🐴🐴❤❤❤❤❤🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating from me as a horse person with questionable mental health at times, just so timely and perfect.

Categories
Fantasy

Blog Tour! Review: Tuyo by Rachel Neumeier

0830201150_HDR~2Thank you so much to Storytellers on Tour for letting me join the tour for this wonderful book!  A gorgeous finished copy was provided in exchange for a feature and honest review.

Quick Facts:

  • Title: Tuyo
  • Series: Standalone?
  • Author: Rachel Neumeier
  • Publisher & Release: Indie – May, 2020
  • Length: 410 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 yes!

Here is the synopsis:

Raised a warrior in the harsh winter country, Ryo inGara has always been willing to die for his family and his tribe. When war erupts against the summer country, the prospect of death in battle seems imminent. But when his warleader leaves Ryo as a sacrifice — a tuyo — to die at the hands of their enemies, he faces a fate he never imagined.

Ryo’s captor, a lord of the summer country, may be an enemy . . . but far worse enemies are moving, with the current war nothing but the opening moves in a hidden game Ryo barely glimpses, a game in which all his people may be merely pawns. Suddenly Ryo finds his convictions overturned and his loyalties uncertain. Should he support the man who holds him prisoner, the only man who may be able to defeat their greater enemy? And even if he does, can he persuade his people to do the same?

This book literally ticked every box I can think of in an epic fantasy.  Strong character arcs, detailed setting and world building, culture, enemies to friends, family bonds, political motivations, military strategy, and even one super snarky stallion.

Ryo is left as a sacrifice and ends up a captive, guest, translator, of the warlord for which he was left.  Ryo experiences a massive amount of culture shock when he is thrown into life with the Lau.  So much of the narrative is Ryo comparing the Lau to his Ugaro people, and it’s just an unbelievable character arc as he learns to judge men by their actions, not their birth.  I loved the grand theme of overcoming cultural differences to fight larger enemies.

Aras, the Lau Warlord, is a great character too.  He, in turn, isn’t familiar with many Ugaro customs, and it’s just a very character driven read as the two men, then two nations, learn about their common enemy and forge a working bond.  The friendship bonds are even better!

The setting and world are closely detailed as well.  From the frozen mountains and forests of the tribes to the summer lands of the Lau, I thought the author did a phenomenal job tying each group’s culture and legends into the climates that so define them.  To quickly touch on the magic: think psychological warfare on steroids, with some light elemental skills as well.

One of my favorite aspects was how she went deep into cultural customs on both sides.  The over politeness and certain rituals of the Ugaro tribes struck me as extremely well thought out, and the Lau had their own norms.  Some of my favorite scenes were the great meetings towards the end, but part of that was how much I just loved Ryo’s family.  Especially his father.  I let out a few “HA”‘s courtesy of the family dialogue 

Family and honor among friends played a huge role too.  Without going into too much more detail, I will just say again in general that the relationships in the book are so intricately started and built upon, until the end result was something really special.

In short: I feel like I’m rambling and not doing the book justice at all.  If you like strong families, culture, overcoming cultural biases, enemies to friends, setting and relationships, and magic throughout…. You need this book.  I definitely plan on checking out the author’s works too.

I hope you’ll check out the other stops on the tour by visiting https://storytellersontour.online/2020/07/30/tour-schedule-tuyo-by-rachel-neumeier/ !  The author information and book links are available there as well!

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Categories
Fantasy Young Adult

Book Tour! Wings of Fate by Skye Horn

Thank you so much to Bookfox Tours and Skye Horn for having me on the Bookstagram tour for Wings of Fate! An E-Book was provided in exchange for an honest review and all opinions are my own.

Quick Facts:

  • Title: Wings of Fate
  • Series: Kingdoms of Faerie #1
  • Author: Skye Horn
  • Publisher & Release: Self – May 17, 2020
  • Length: 284 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⚡ yes for fantasy romance fans

Here is the description from GoodReads:

In a world without magic, Thea is ordinary, but everything changes when she discovers she is a lost princess from a kingdom in Faerie. 

Now, a land Thea never knew existed expects her to become queen—but only if she can stop her villainous father who sits on her throne from releasing the Goddess of Death first. As darkness spreads across the Kingdoms of Faerie, Thea must prepare for the battle ahead by mastering the magic that runs through her veins with the help of the Fae who brought her home—a guardian sworn to protect her with his life.

With proper training, Thea might able to stop her father, but saving her kingdom may cost her heart.

Purely for entertainment value, I enjoyed reading through this book.  There are themes of soul mates, sisterly love and forgiveness, found family, and blood ties, among many others.  There is constant action or light romance, so the book reads pretty quickly and doesn’t give a chance to get boring.

Thea is a young woman who seems drawn to her destiny, which is to become the queen of a Faerie Kingdom.  I was a little confused because her father, even though he is an evil tyrant who wants to wipe out humans, seems to be the rightful king and has been for quite a while.  The book made it sound like he was an imposter and the throne was Thea’s,  but I think the majority of humans and fae just wanted the heir to take over.

The legends were my favorite part of the book for sure.  It is based loosely on the celtic legend around Aine and Morrigan.   I went a bit down the rabbit hole trying to link them in mythology as more than a potential aspect, but – as I said, at face value, the book is quite entertaining.

I think soulmates and fate are interesting concepts.  Sometimes they translate as insta-love.  Not my most favorite trope but there was a good bit of soul searching involving Kieran and Thea around old traditions that might prohibit a relationship.  I think I would have had an easier time believing their love if it wasn’t quite so instant, but I have read enough fated bond books to put it aside and say “ok so they fell in love in two weeks.”

Overall though the storyline was pretty well thought out, entertaining, and fast-paced.  Some of the cruelties inflicted by the king, Thea’s father, really made my blood boil.  The sisterly forgiveness and redemption themes are strong and good.  The relationships between the various orphans and their protectors carried the book a long ways for me as well.  Like best side characters ever. Plus did I mention a unicorn?

If I was rating purely for entertainment I would give it 5⭐, and will definitely check out book 2 to see what that sneaky Morrigan is up to.

Thank you guys again for having me on the tour!!

Skye Horn can be found online at https://skyehorn.com/

Categories
Fantasy

Book Tour Stop!! I, Exile by David Samuels

Thank you so much to Storytellers On Tour for having me on the book tour for I, Exile by David Samuels! This is a fast-paced fantasy adventure about old magic and a heist gone wrong, that turns into so much more!

Quick Facts:

  • Title: I, Exile
  • Series: A Thief’s Tale #1
  • Author: David Samuels
  • Publisher & Release: self – 02/29/2020
  • Length: 229 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⚡ for fantasy and adventure fans!

Here is the description from Amazon:

Exiled into a wasteland because of a heist gone wrong, Emelith vows to hunt down the one responsible. Except not all is what it seems in the haunted realm of the Cauldron.

Classic Swords & Sorcery meets cinematic 90’s action (Tomb Raider, The Mummy, Indiana Jones) in this rollicking thief’s tale.

I, Exile was a perfect read for me right now.  It is a shorter book with nearly non stop action, and not all the wordy fluff that comes with a lot of fantasy books.  Don’t get me wrong, I love fluff, but sometimes a fast-paced adventure is a great change of pace.

Emelith is the main character, a thief who is captured during a heist and then exiled out into the wastes.  She is bent on tracking down and having the head of her partner for the heist having backfired.  I would have liked to know more about her abilities and why she is such a great thief, but Emelith’s diplomatic skills and personal growth in the story are two things I really like about her character.  The strongest women can admit when they’re wrong and learn from their misconceptions and I love seeing that in books.  As a 30 something I definitely appreciate a slightly older main character as well.

After meeting a tribe of exiles led by an old sorceress, Emelith starts to realize that there is so much more to everything than meets the eye.  I liked the banter between the tribe, most of the characters, and especially Ruso the dog, who takes an instant liking to Emelith. 

An ancient necromancer trying to gain his soul back, giant worms and spiders, heat and sun and cold, plus some nasty blue monsters are just a few of the things the tribe must face as they journey in pursuit of Emelith’s possessed partner.  It was interesting to read about the magic possessed by the sorceress as well as the necromancer/lich, we get a history and back story but not too much small detail.

Samuels does a great job with setting and geological descriptions as far as giving us a context for the story.    He really packed quite a lot of world building and setting into a short book. 

My biggest and really only issue with the book was the language.  Some times there was tribal language and slang appropriate to the setting and culture, and sometimes there was modern slang which to me just doesn’t fit in a fantasy.  Also a cannon was mentioned where for the rest of the book, only magic and swords and bows were used with no mention of firepower.

Overall I totally recommend to fans of fantasy adventures and mixed casts of characters. I was never bored at all while reading and I can’t wait to see where Samuels takes this series.

Here is the link to the tour webpage, I hope you will consider checking out the other hosts and finding more information about the book here! https://www.storytellersontour.online/2020/07/24/tour-schedule-i-exile-by-david-m-samuels/

Categories
Fantasy Mysteries Young Adult

Blog Tour Post! Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

Where Dreams Descend_Cover

  • Title: Where Dreams Descend
  • Series: Kingdom of Cards #1
  • Author: Janella Angeles
  • Publisher & Release: Wednesday Books, 8/25/2020
  • Length: 451 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⚡ Maybe

Here is the description from GoodReads:

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Thank you so much to Wednesday Books for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles.  They provided a free e-ARC for review purposes.

First off, the description of this book sounded entirely amazing and I knew I had to read it.  A murdery magic mystery set against an icy world and a circus? Ok sign me up.

Lets start with the world building and atmosphere: I didn’t understand the world. There were a handful of repetitive questions being asked, over and over, about the history of the town, with absolutely no answers given. The air of mystery surrounding the world was extremely shallow because only the surface of the Town’s history was ever scratched.  The physical description of the buildings, districts, and weather were good, with literally no other world building outside of the immediate setting.  The town is described as a cold and icy place, but is it supposed to mirror the rest of the island or continent?  For all we know the island is an isolated incident of magic. 

I can’t deal when authors expect the reader to be psychic – if the characters *KNOW* something, maybe we should be told that information? Jack kept saying “they” and we never know who “they” are and no one ever says what’s going on. It happened between the women at the circus a few times too. I really wanted to DNF the book at times because I think it’s just bad writing that all this mustery became boring.

The characters were not much more interesting.  Kailla wants to get out of her life as a club performer, and is determined to ruin herself in order to impress a small group of magicians in the Town in order to have an opportunity to perform.  Yes, fine, prove yourself to the boy’s club.  Her motivation seemed lackluster and overdone in such a tiny setting. Also it didn’t make sense that if women weren’t really allowed to do show magic, only work magic, why was a women in charge of the magic police? Next up, what the heck is even going on with Demarco? We read over 400 pages and literally learned nothing of substance about him until the end, and then it’s just more mystery.  Another brooding dark character who repeats his own inner monologue 500 times. I don’t love the recent YA trend of using repetition to make books longer.  Jack was another evasive twit and supposedly the villain of the piece.  The only characters I even remotely liked were the circus women, and Kailla’s assistant there who was nice and straightforward and a good friend.  

I understand that the author’s goal was to create a huge mystery but if all we get is repetition and angst with no substance, it is just boring.  I also didn’t get the little bit of romance very much, it’s hard to ship two characters who are both so evasive and I didn’t really understand why brave and fearless Kailla was suddenly so afraid of Jack during the middle chapters.

The plot had a few action points but the author dropped them pretty quickly in favor of the characters just angst-ing at each other some more. I won’t lie that I ended up skimming, a lot.

If you liked the Night Circus – lots of words amid a tiny bit of action action and a little playing hard to get – you’ll probably love this.

I believe the duology is redeemable in book 2 which is why even though this is a harsh review, I believe it is appropriate for the tour.  

Thank you again for allowing me to participate in the tour and bring you this book which releases on 8/25!

Mei Lin Barral Photography_Janella Angeles

About the author:

JANELLA ANGELES is a Filipino-American author who got her start in writing through consuming glorious amounts of fanfiction at a young age—which eventually led to penning a few of her own, and later on, creating original stories from her imagination. A lifelong lover of books, she’s lucky enough to be working in the business of publishing them on top of writing them. She currently resides in Massachusetts, where she’s most likely to be found listening to musicals on repeat and daydreaming too much for her own good. Where Dreams Descend is her first book.

Buy Link:https://read.macmillan.com/lp/where-dreams-descend/

Social LinksTwitter: @Janella_Angeles // Instagram: @Janella_Angeles

Categories
Fantasy Young Adult

Book Tour! Review: Trial by Obsidian by Naomi Kelly

  • Title: Trial by Obsidian
  • Author: Naomi Kelley
  • Length: 242 pages
  • Pub date: August 2019
  • Publisher: Independent
  • Rate & Rec ⭐⭐ – hear me out though

Today is my stop on the Instagram book tour for Trial by Obsidian, and here as well is my full review! Despite my rating just hear me out on this one and make your own decision.

Here is the description from Amazon:

The poverty-stricken southern lands of Deshure have kept Juniper Obsidian hidden all her life. Her concealed identity kept her safe. Until now. The northern lands of Sinlara are home to the Chambers. Here rules are enforced and wars are waged, but since the end of the War fifteen years ago things have been quiet. That is until they get their hands on Juniper.

When an enemy who has an uncertain a past as she does a future offers her help, Juniper must question what really makes us who we are? Can she trust the man before her? Is there more to loyalty than a boarder? More to family than a blood-line? The time has come where she must learn to stand and fight.

Hiding is no longer an option.

In brief, the summary of the story is that the Sinlaran faction systematically eradicated the mage clans, of which a few individuals remain. One of them, the main character Juniper, is captured. A handsome defector from the “bad guys” helps her escape and then the plotting begins.

It really isn’t a bad story. I will bluntly say that my rating is because I have a hard time with books that have poor editing; even a friend proofreading would have made this much more readable. It had missing words, wrong words, punctuation, mixed tenses, a few spelling errors, it was not one small thing but a vastly unedited book. As a disclaimer: I read the Kindle Unlimited version, and there may be editions out with further editing as I haven’t seen this mentioned in many other reviews.

Putting the editing aside, the world building had a good start but was underdeveloped. I now think this is a standalone?  Still, aspects of the political structure, history of the clans, mood of the citizenry, even architecture, a little more fleshing of certain events at the beginning would have helped. While reading, I could kind of figure out the political structure as I went, but if this is geared towards young readers will they know the basic Greek alphabet? What about Sinlaran geography? Are we in the mountains or forest or plains? I just like a little more general world immersion in a novel where this was mostly character and action based.  Also on the immersion note, in a high fantasy world it’s not quite appropriate to bring in popular mythology, in this case Greek – lots of Greek themes but still, this is a made up fantasy world and they won’t believe in our myths.

About the pacing, this is a short book and the action did keep coming. It kept a decent pace once I pieced the world together from the choppy beginning, and never felt bored reading. The magic system is fairly basic, each clan had a specific gem or rock (Obsidian, garnet, etc) that they drew their powers from. The abilities varied as some could be healers, garnets had fire affinity, one clan seemed to be metal workers/crafters, and together they could feed off each other and be stronger which was a concept that I liked – bloodline vs element being present

As a romance heavy novel, the two main characters did a rather quick enemies to lovers. They bonded over proximity and shared experiences, which is great but why did Reuben practically worship Juniper? I did appreciate the aspect of feeling SEEN, and liked Reuben because his matter-of-fact-isms almost felt like a nod to Star Trek’s android Data, but it could be total coincidence. He was the only character who spoke like that so I wondered.

Reuben had a heck of a betrayal pulled over on him though, which was a curious and rude choice on the Alpha’s part. (The political structure looked like Brave New World, with alpha through delta in descending rank). The characters were definitely individually the best and most developed part of the book. Their motivations made sense if nothing else and I liked Juniper well enough too as the main character.

Long story short: if you are able to just read and let your mind wander over the editing mishaps and fill in a few plot points, this is a quick romp into a light fantasy world. I would compare the reading experience to early Morgan Rice (she got an editor at some point, I think) or Melissa de la Cruz (romance heavy with questionable development.) There is lots of kissing and off page sex but nothing too intense. There is again a chance that I managed to read an early version, as other reviews are stating that the book has great development so I might have missed something.

I would probably recommend for fantasy romance readers that are not hardcore fantasy buffs.

The author can be found on Instagram @NaomiKellyWriting

Here is the link to the book on Amazon: