Categories
Fiction Mysteries

Book Tour & Review ~ Who Me? Fog Bows, Fraud and Aphrodite by Charlotte Stuart

From grimdark to cozy mystery, what the heck will I post next 🤣

Thanks so much to Kate Rock Book Tours for having me on the tour for this surprisingly fun cozy mystery! I chose to read it because I love CATS! and Macavity sounded like quite a character. How can I not read something with a snarky orange cat in it?

Note: it is #2 in a series but reads as a standalone

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Who, Me? Fog Bows, Fraud and Aphrodite
  • Series: Macavity and Me #2
  • Author: Charlotte Stuart
  • Publisher & Release: Seale Publishing, June 2021
  • Length: 236 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐✨ Yes for fans of cozy mysteries and cats

Here’s the synopsis:

From the open porthole on her sailboat, Bryn Baczek overhears a heated argument on a nearby boat followed by a loud splash . . .then silence. 

Bryn lives on a sailboat in a small marina with her cantankerous cat, Macavity, and a series of short-lived goldfish. While seeking evidence to prove a neighbor innocent of murder, she ends up being threatened by the victim’s abusive boyfriend, betrayed by a close friend, and almost bored to death by an uncooperative accountant.

Although Bryn shares what she learns with a charming detective whose manicured mustache she finds off-putting, she is one step ahead of the police in identifying the murderer . . . a step that puts her in a dangerous face-to-face confrontation.

Who, Me? Fog Bows, Fraud and Aphrodite is currently a finalist in the Chanticleer Mystery and Mayhem contest. It also won a Firebird Book Award for humor and is an Author Shout Recommended Read and a 5 Star Readers Favorite.

I laugh every time I read the synopsis. Short lived goldfish and a cantankerous cat just about sums it up, plus a disappearing woman and all of Bryn’s shenanigans.

I don’t usually enjoy cozy mysteries but Bryn was not a complete idiot like most main characters in these books.  She worked along with the police without obstructing the detective, used her resources well, and actually managed to solve the case without bringing too much harm to herself or anyone else!

The mystery itself got a bit convoluted for me at the end although it was fun watching the characters follow the paper trail.  I missed how the perpetrator knew … Uhhmmm…. Things.  I think a seasoned mystery reader may have guessed the murderer but I had Nooooo idea who it was.

Despite the fact that I can’t follow the details of a murder plot, the characters totally carried the book.  It took some time to learn about Bryn and her friends/family and it was a good crew.  I loved Logan and Judd who were hilarious and may or may not love cats.  My favorite part besides Macavity and the string of goldfish is how Bryn is portrayed as a single, happy, self sufficient 30 something who is alone but not lonely.  Parents don’t get it! I can relate!

Overall: I would read Stuart’s other books for sure, I can’t wait to see more of Bryn’s adventures when I need a break from heavier reading. Definitely recommend this for cozy mystery fans who like strong main characters and need a few good laughs!

Categories
Fantasy

The Skald’s Black Verse ~ Book Tour & Giveaway

Endless thanks to Escapist Book Tours and Jordan Loyal Short for having me on the book tour for The Skald’s Black Verse! This is the first in the Dreadbound Ode trilogy.  The final book just released back in March so check it out and binge the whole thing if it sounds good to you!

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Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Skald’s Black Verse
  • Series: Dreadbound Ode #1
  • Author: Jordan Loyal Short
  • Publisher & Release: Self Published – 2018
  • Length: 339 pages
  • Rating & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ If you’re looking for a solid grimdark SFF trilogy

Here’s the synopsis:

Brohr needs out of his village before they put a noose around his neck.

The unwanted son of a conquering soldier, Brohr will soon discover that he is cursed, haunted, a berserker. When a strange murder sparks unrest amongst his people, Brohr becomes the prime suspect.

Hunted by invaders from another world, only the forbidden blood magic of the Skalds can save him. To survive, Brohr must unravel dire omens, uncover the truth of his brother’s death, and lead a desperate revolt against an empire that spans the heavens.

But an ancient horror lurks in the shadows, intent upon a rebellion of its own.

The Skald’s Black Verse takes a personal look at what it means to live under your oppressor’s thumb as a conquered people.  It takes place in a small village on a planet that was overtaken by a superior branch of humanity. We watch as both the conquered and the conquerors deal with planetary level destruction and certain doom, and I have to say that I loved it.

There are quite a few characters but I didn’t struggle with remembering them. Brohr is dealing with a curse after his grandfather made a dark pact. Lyssa is a sneaky and resourceful bar maid, and Brasca is taking charge of the town for the Federals. Henrik stepped in later and was used to show how little control the nominal provincial leaders really had. 

It’s a tough and interesting bunch of characters. I like them and will leave it at that since the biggest surprises and plot twists come in character form.

He’d been a fool to think he could manage the end of the world

Plot and action wise, the story itself was fast paced and I flew through this book.  As the conflict deepened and the plot became apparent it turned into an easy two day read.

I am a lover of all things world building and this is where the book excelled.  We see so much of the local food, herbs, medicine, religion, and way of life of the local Norn people.  A lot of culture is revealed as the Federals tried to snuff it out in favor of cultural assimilation.

The folklore element is also strong as it ties into both the local and imposed religions.  The runic binding that can fly spaceships is considered proper magic while the Skald songs are the black, illegal, blood and witchcraft type.  What I wanted was more conflict between the two magics since it was one of the first things out of Brasca’s mouth.  The two magics have vastly different uses although both require blood and sacrifice. The Skald Songs were well fleshed out while there’s a lot of potential for the Binders going forward in the series.

I thought that just due to the scope of the novel towards the end, I felt a disconnect between the sci-fi and dark fantasy element. More from the binding and rune lore was needed to close that gap but I think I see it coming in book two. I also don’t think Brohr was prepared to step into the role that he did at the end, considering that he was never taught the rituals. 

To a man who fears death, even suffering is precious

Overall: I can definitely appreciate apocalypse and LOVED the setting and scenery, mood and atmosphere, lore and fighting spirit that kept the book feeling more congruous than not. It‘s interesting, it’s fast paced, it’s grimdark, it’s brutal, and some scenes aren’t for the fainthearted.  Would recommend for fans of dark SFF!


For bonus content…

Here is the giveaway for you all!

Prize: An eBook, Audiobook, or Paperback Copy of The Skald’s Black Verse!
Starts: August 15, 2022 at 12:00am EST
Ends: August 21, 2022 at 11:59pm EST

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/79e197ac45/


There’s also a tour webpage now where you can see everyone else’s content and find more info about the book!

The Hero’s Journey: The Skald’s Black Verse by Jordan Loyal Short


Last but not least, meet the author and go find him online!

Jordan Loyal Short is an author of epic fantasy. His first novel, The Skald’s Black Verse, is a dark and beautiful story about families, cultures, and beliefs at war with themselves. The protagonist, Brohr, must navigate the tangled loyalties and unforgiving biases of a planet conquered by invaders from another world. Using black magic, and the bizarre bond he shares with his stillborn brother’s spirit, Brohr unravels the truth about himself and an eon spanning war that has reached its end game.

You can see Jordan’s latest book reviews at Booknesteu.com.

Jordan has worked in a variety of industries, as a web developer, bartender, copywriter and more. He lives in Washington state with his wife where he is currently daydreaming about the end of the world.

Author Site: https://jordanloyalshort.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jordanloyalshort
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jordanloyalshor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jordanloyalshort/

The Skald's Black Verse tour stops (ig)


I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review feature, all opinions are my own!

Categories
Fantasy

The Last Blade Priest by W.P. Wiles (ARC Review)

Today is my stop on the online book tour for The Last Blade Priest! This is an epic fantasy that I enjoyed quite a bit for it’s overall mood and atmosphere, care for language, and different takes on certain tropes that had me surprised by the end.

TLBP checked a lot of my best boxes for fantasy. It is dense in world building and slow at the start, but once the action and twists start picking up it was hard to put down and the pages started flying.   Keep an eye out too for the W.P. Wiles Sunday Brunch feature on July 24th!

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Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Last Blade Priest
  • Series: …. ? Hopefully
  • Author: W.P. Wiles
  • Publisher & Release: Angry Robot Books, 7/12/22
  • Length: 554 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐   Yes for epic fantasy fans who like dense,  atmospheric worlds and twisted tropes!

Here’s the synopsis:

An absorbing and original epic fantasy with rich world-building and a wry take on genre conventions from a Betty Trask Award-winning author

Inar is Master Builder for the Kingdom of Mishig-Tenh. Life is hard after the Kingdom lost the war against the League of Free Cities. Doubly so since his father betrayed the King and paid the ultimate price. And now the King’s terrifying chancellor and torturer in chief has arrived and instructed Inar to go and work for the League. And to spy for him. And any builder knows you don’t put yourself between a rock and a hard place.

Far away Anton, Blade Priest for Craithe, the God Mountain, is about to be caught up in a vicious internal war that will tear his religion apart. Chosen from infancy to conduct human sacrifice, he is secretly relieved that the practice has been abruptly stopped. But an ancient enemy has returned, an occult conspiracy is unfolding, and he will struggle to keep his hands clean in a world engulfed by bloodshed.

In a series of constantly surprising twists and turns that take the reader through a vividly imagined and original world full of familiar tensions and surprising perspectives on old tropes, Inar and Anton find that others in their story may have more influence on their lives, on the future of the League and on their whole world than they, or the reader imagined.

I think the “file under” area is what hooked me on reading this one – “nightmare crows, scarred altars…” etc.  I love anything rich in world building and this book 100% did not disappoint.  The first 100 pages ish WAS confusing to me because Wiles threw out all the native terms without taking time to explain, but, I’ve learned to just let these things roll until they make sense.  As long as they make sense by the end of the book – and trust me, they do in this case – I don’t consider this a big deal anymore.

The main points of view are Inar and Anton, one a builder and one a priest trained to sacrifice human lives to the Mountain and it’s Custodian/s. One cool aspect is that as the storylines and characters progress, we learn who else is important, who will be dictating furture events. I didn’t see the twists coming but as the storylines converge (and the book wraps up) I found myself really liking these other people who wormed their way in. The less you know the better but I do like being surprised by side characters.

The world is rich in history, lore, religious lore, magic, and atmosphere.  The settings are well fleshed out too. A lot is added setting wise as the author’s career is somewhere in architecture. To me at least it’s cool when the setting becomes such a big part of the story and lore. It sounds dull as hell to read about but he stated that he created a “Fantasy architecture” for the world and it’s awesome, it makes sense, it fits, and it’s cool.  I just like cold, mountainy settings anyway and these take a huge toll on the characters here.

The other thing that adds a lot to the atmosphere is how the language sets a specific tone – I honestly had to look up quite a few words used but it did add to the world’s feeling of… consistency?  The book overall has a dark feel and while I have read much darker fantasy, this one had it’s moments and a consistent heavier feeling throughout.

So you get through the first hundred pages and the book starts rolling, the quest begins, the priesthood starts making sense, the characters develop, and the magic starts unfurling.  Did I say unfurling? Yes! I liked how the magic wasn’t dumped on us to begin with but revealed as we went along.  The elves are evil too and there’s a lot of backstory that rolls into the plot as the characters journey along.

Overall – I really liked this one. I liked how the story unrolled and that I didn’t mind being along for the ride in the meantime.  I liked a clearly dark fantasy that wasn’t truly horrific.  A lot of my favorite books set a tone and keep it, and this one fell into that category.   For the slow and slightly rough start I docked a star but fully would recommend this one to epic and dark fantasy fans!

Categories
Science Fiction

Book Tour & Giveaway: At the Threshold of the Universe by T.A. Bruno

Thank you endlessly to T.A. Bruno for the beautiful hardcover of At the Threshold of the Universe! Do ya all see the 4th quote down🤪

I’m so glad that Escapist Tours picked up the tour for the end of the trilogy.  I’m a huge fan of the series and it came to a whopping conclusion. Bruno not only wrapped up the storylines but created this amazingly intense backstory for the events leading up to the start of the first novel and eventual fall of the solar system.  There is a proper balance of nostalgia and forward motion to tie everything together and bring The Song of Kamaria to an epic conclusion!

You can find the giveaway and other info below.  I also linked to the Sunday Brunch Series feature that we did before if anyone wants to further “meet the author”!

Cover

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: At the Threshold of the Universe
  • Series: The Son of Kamaria, #3
  • Author: T.A. Bruno
  • Publisher & Release: Self Published, May 2022
  • Length: 496 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨yes 100% recommend to SFF readers or anyone looking for an adventure

Here’s the Synopsis:

ALL SONGS END.

War ravages Kamaria as an old enemy resurfaces from the depths of the ocean. Offering no support in the coming battles, the Auk’nai isolate themselves in their tightly guarded Nest. Outgunned and outmatched, humanity once again trembles on the edge of obliteration.

The Castus family is torn apart. Denton fights on the front lines, hoping to free Cade from a nightmarish foe. Meanwhile, Eliana and Nella set out on a path that will change everything they understand about the Sirens. The Song will end, but who will remain to hear its final verse?

I didn’t think he would take it easy on the characters but was not ready for how perfectly devastating this book would be.  The depth of suffering in the final battle for humanity … Was actually probably appropriate, I wouldn’t have loved the book if he had done anything less.

I liked how I pretty much spent the entire book chewing my nails for the characters. Extinction was a very plausible conclusion as things got bleaker and bleaker for the remaining humans – and I didn’t let my figurative breath out until it was over.

That said – you guys already know that these scenes play out like a movie.  Everything is laid out for the imagination and the authors experience in cinema and visual storytelling is apparent as war rages between moments of quiet in Kamaria’s magical settings.  It reads like scifi on a fantasy planet and it works here.

The backstory was my favorite part.  Cade is able to learn the history of the Undriel through the eyes of the leader and generals and now we finally know how the machines began and why they pushed humanity out of the solar system. There are some curve balls to keep it interesting and at no point does he drop the general feeling and tone of the rest of the book.

Nella separately learns the history of the Sirens and I’ll admit that this part went a bit over my head with the timelines and tasks. It had its moments though and hey, now we know. 

We also get many memorable quotes as things go to hell for Denton and the Marines.  Combs said this in one of the last quiet moments of the story and it merits repeating:

I had that pegged as one of the flagship passages of the book and it was an accurate guess!

Many characters in the series are memorable in both life and death.  In war some deaths are heroic and others are utterly pointless. I did like how that was reflected, as well as how the memories are carried forward.

In all honestly I did dock half a star for … This is painful but the editing wasn’t quite there in this one.  The first two books were nearly flawlessly edited and this one is just not up to par. It’s a personal preference and typos throw me out of immersion like nothing else, although the rest of the books presentation is stellar

The section and chapter artwork is another extra touch that makes this feel like a classic scifi read.

Overall …. I mean this is one of my favorite independently published series out there and I think he did the conclusion full justice.  It’s action packed, cinematic, in the feels, epic in scope, and you just want to shield the entire human race from any further harm.  I think giving Talulo the last word of the Song and Cade the epilogue was a good touch too, we can’t forget how much the Auk’nai also lost. 

100% no hesitation to recommend this series to anyone! Thank you again to Escapist Book Tours and the author for having me on the tour!


Alright now that I’ve hopefully gotten everyone interested in the series (p.s. In The Orbit of Sirens is an SPSFC finalist)!  Here is the giveaway:

At the Threshold of the Universe giveaway

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/79e197ac30/ enter here, open now and ends 6/22!

Book Links:

Amazon Series Page: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09B4YVKGT
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60484283-at-the-threshold-of-the-universe

Meet the author!

T. A. Bruno grew up in a suburb south of Chicago and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the film industry. Since then, he has brought stories to life for over a decade as a previsualization artist. At home, he is the proud father of two boys and a husband to a wonderful wife.

Author Website: TABruno.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/TABrunoAuthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TABrunoAuthor
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TABrunoAuthor

There’s also the Sunday Brunch Series interview to check out for more info! https://onereadingnurse.com/2021/08/22/sunday-brunch-author-interview-series-featuring-t-a-bruno/

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts Science Fiction

The Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series – Featuring R.W.W. Greene

Hello friends and Robots! First off Happy Mother’s Day if this applies to you in any way shape or form!

For episode 22 of the Sunday Brunch Series I am honored to be kicking off the Angry Robot Books Mercury Rising tour with author R.W.W. Greene! Mercury Rising releases this coming Tuesday the 10th!

Let’s jump right into the interview, then I’ll share book and author info at the end!

Also do 100% be sure to check out this stunning lineup of content through the rest of the tour!

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🥞 Welcome to the Sunday Brunch Series! As an introduction, can you tell everyone an interesting fact about yourself that isn’t in your author bio?
 
🎤First, thanks so much for inviting me to brunch. Interesting fact … Yeah, I don’t know. I can’t swim. Is that interesting or pathetic?
 
 
🥞I think it’s awesome that you listed breakfast as a possible interview question! This was meant to be 😂 what’s your favorite brunch food?
🎤Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day — whatever time of the day I choose to have it — and this big plate of eggs and homefries sets the mood just right. I will be accompanying it with nigh-infinite cups of black coffee and maybe a sliver of that quiche.
🥞 One of my favorite topics is morally gray characters and you nailed it with Brooklyn in Mercury Rising.  What do you think makes a good morally gray character?

🎤When the Color Wheel of Our Lives spins, it blurs into grayness. We might be blue or orange at certain points, but the average is that cloudy gray. You’re a good person. Okay, would you steal if you were starving? If your kids were starving? Do you ever drive faster than the speed limit? Ethics come from the outside. Morals are interior, and like everything else inside us, they’re slippery. We tend to resolve the cognitive dissonance of our own immoral actions pretty quickly. It’s just one puppy. Everybody does it. I’m a good person, and I pee in the shower, so obviously, to be a good person, you must pee in the shower, too.

I think the trick is to make the character as real as possible, and realize that real is really messy.

🥞Each of your books takes a big issue (as in pollution or climate change or war or etc) and gives the readers a big *hey this is happening* message – is this the thought that starts your book ideas? Is there an issue that’s particularly near and dear to you?

🎤My stories usually start with character and situation. For “The Light Years,” I had some version of Adem and his arranged marriage. For ‘Twenty-Five,’ I had Julie being left behind on Earth. For ‘Mercury,’ I had Brooklyn and his need to just make it through the day and get back to his apartment.

The ‘hey this is happening’ stuff comes in because everything is happening all the time, and it keeps happening over and over. We’re drowning in the rhymes and resonances of all the things we’ve (the Big We) ever seen or done. I suppose I’m most attuned to things that will affect the future. Which, I guess, is everything.

I don’t sleep all that well, and I take pills for anxiety. I wonder why

🥞You were a part of a “swearing in SFF” panel at Quarancon! Can you share your general thoughts on foul language & slang in SFF?

🎤Swearing is interesting because we lose vocabulary as the arc of history bends toward justice. I don’t hear origins as expletives nearly as much as I used to. Being a bastard isn’t the curse it once was. As the meaning of ‘bitch’ changes and evolves, being a ‘son of a bitch’ ain’t so bad. Slut-shaming is slowly giving way to sex-positivity. As we become more secular, there are fewer gods to blaspheme.

Most of what we’re left with is body parts and bodily functions. And fuck, which is  the Swiss-Army knife of swear words.

What would a wood elf find profane? ‘You slayer of trees! Culler of conifers! Maple mauler! Fucking asshole!”

A William Gibson cyberpunk-cowboy: “Cube! (from ‘cubicle’) Drug-cutting corpie! You dirty little dataport! Virus licker! Fucking asshole!

🥞Is there more to come in the Mercury Rising universe? {I loved the open ending but also want more Brooklyn}

🎤 There is. Angry Robot and I have contracted for a second book in what is meant to be a trilogy. You’ll see book two in early summer of 2023. If all goes well, the third book should come out summerish 2024, either from Angry Robot (fingers crossed) or self-published.

{{I’m on board, ESPECIALLY IF AR FINALLY EXPLAINS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF 400. I should start asking the authors}}

🥞After three books now and multiple short stories, what is the most valuable (or entertaining) feedback you’ve gotten so far?

🎤One short-story reviewer pronounced me a ‘middle-aged writer,” which while true, hurt. A dude on Goodreads recently gave ‘Twenty-Five to Life’ one star because he didn’t like who I dedicated the book to. One gent out on the West Coast of the U.S. wrote and said ‘The Light Years’ helped him come to terms with his father, which is cool but completely unplanned.

Probably the most useful feedback I’ve received is ‘Don’t read the reviews!” I don’t always listen.

🥞Random Sci-fi question: With the conference coming in May, any thoughts on the Nebula nominees this year?

🎤My secret shame — not so secret now — is that I often don’t get to the Nebula nominees until they are on the final ballot. I read a lot, easily three or four books a week, but much of it is not in-genre and the stuff that is doesn’t always show up on awards lists. After the ballot is released, I usually go on an all-Nebula reading spree so I can cast an informed vote.

There are so many books being published, I have no idea how anyone keeps up, and that’s not including all the novellas, novelettes, and short stories. It’s an embarrassment of riches.

{{True fact, I’ve succumbed to mood reading and pretty much anything from AR}}

🥞Here is the rapid-fire round of bookish questions:  favorite author? A book or series that you always recommend? Favorite literary character?

🎤My favorite SFF author is currently a three-way tie among William Gibson (always), Becky Chambers, and Seanan McGuire. Gary Shteyngart is orbiting this triumvirate waiting for one of them to die or retire.

I’ve recommended Mary Doria Russell’s ‘The Sparrow’ more times than I can remember. Series … maybe the ‘Emberverse’ stuff by S.M. Stirling.

Character … Henry Palace in Ben Winter’s ‘Last Policeman’ series. Or Trixe Belden. If you push me, Trixie beats Henry all the way.

🥞Thank you for joining Sunday Brunch! If there’s anything else you want to add or say about anything at all, please do so here!

🎤Thanks so much for having me. The company was excellent and the quiche divine. Have a lovely day!


There you have it!

If you want to see my early Mercury Rising review, click here!

Author Bio:

R.W.W. Greene is a New Hampshire USA writer with an MA in Fine Arts, which he exorcises in dive bars and coffee shops. He is a frequent panelist at the Boskone Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention in Boston, and his work has been in Stupefying Stories, Daily Science Fiction, New Myths, and Jersey Devil Press, among others. Greene is a past board member of the New Hampshire Writers’ Project. He keeps bees, collects typewriters, and lives with writer/artist spouse Brenda and two cats

Book Blurb:
Even in a technologically-advanced, Kennedy-Didn’t-Die alternate-history, Brooklyn Lamontagne is going nowhere fast. The year is 1975, thirty years after Robert Oppenheimer invented the Oppenheimer Atomic Engine, twenty-five years after the first human walked on the moon, and eighteen years after Jet Carson and the Eagle Seven sacrificed their lives to stop the alien invaders. Brooklyn just wants to keep his mother’s rent paid, earn a little scratch of his own, steer clear of the cops, and maybe get laid sometime in the near future. Simple pleasures, right? But a killer with a baseball bat and a mysterious box of 8-track tapes is about to make his life real complicated.
So, rot away in prison or sign up to defend the planet from the assholes who dropped a meteorite on Cleveland?  Brooklyn crosses his fingers and picks  the Earth Orbital Forces. A few years in the trenches and then — assuming he survives — he’ll get his life back, right? Unfortunately, the universe has other plans, and Brooklyn is launched into a story about saving humanity, finding family, and growing as a person — while coping with high-stakes space battles, mystery science experiments and finding out the real enemies aren’t the tentacled monsters on the recruitment poster.

Unless they are.

Categories
Science Fiction

Prison of Sleep by Tim Pratt (ARC Review, Book Tour)

Once again thank you so much to Angry Robot for introducing me to another great author and allowing me to participate in their online book tours!!

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Prison of Sleep is Tim Pratt’s followup to Doors of Sleep, review can be seen here.  While I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first book, I think it’s a solid duology and would definitely recommend reading them for fans of the genre!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Prison of Sleep
  • Series: The Journals of Zaxony Delatree #2
  • Author: Tim Pratt
  • Publisher & Release: Angry Robot, 4/26/22
  • Length: 400 pages (p.s. what is it with Angry Robot and 400 pages?? Stay tuned while I continue to nag them on twitter for answers regarding this utmost mystery LOL)
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟⚡for fans of sci-fi adventures, the multiverse

Here’s the synopsis via GoodReads:

After escaping the ruthless Lector, Zax Delatree has a new enemy to fight in the sequel to Doors of Sleep.

Every time Zaxony Delatree falls asleep he wakes up on a new world. His life has turned into an endless series of brief encounters. But at least he and Minna, the one companion who has found a way of travelling with him, are no longer pursued by the psychotic and vengeful Lector.

But now Zax has been joined once again by Ana, a companion he thought left behind long ago. Ana is one of the Sleepers, a group of fellow travellers between worlds. Ana tells Zax that he is unknowingly host to a parasitic alien that exists partly in his blood and partly between dimensions. The chemical that the alien secretes is what allows Zax to travel. Every time he does, however, the parasite grows, damaging the fabric of the Universes. Anas is desperate to recruit Zax to her cause and stop the alien.

But there are others who are using the parasite, such as the cult who serve the Prisoner – an entity trapped in the dimension between universes. Every world is like a bar in its prison. The cult want to collapse all the bars of the worlds and free their god. Can Zax, Minna, Ana and the other Sleepers band together and stop them?

I believe it is hard to talk about sequels without hinting at spoilers, so I will keep this review very broad and not spoil anything!

The Plot & Story: I definitely think that idea wise, Prison of Sleep was the more interesting of the two books.  We get the history of both the Cult of the Worm and of The Sleepers. While Zax’s storyline was equally interesting and engaging, Ana’s ended up being more of an info dump that unfortunately slowed the story down and also confused me relentlessly regarding the timelines. (I mentally confused Zax’s battle with the attack on Sleeperhold at first and contextually it was hard to s

I won’t spend a ton of time on world building, but as far as history goes and my understanding of the book’s multiverse – A+ by the end. This is one of the more interesting creation stories I have read – I just can’t discuss it for spoilers.

The Characters: Ana is the most prominent new character.  Her point of view is introduced and used to fill in our knowledge gaps as she tells of her travels, training, and experiences with the Sleepers.  That said, I just wasn’t as interested in her and her voice sounded a lot like Zax’s at times.

Zaveta was Zax’s new travelling partner and I liked her! She was funny without meaning to be, and occasionally when she meant to be.  Her warrior attributes were a good counterbalance to Zax’s unaggressive approach.

One thing was that Zax didn’t really get to be the hero in this one – I think I expected him to be the hero.  Don’t we always expect the MC’s to be the hero? ((Food for thought)). It didn’t affect my rating but struck me that he was more of the passive observer this time while dear, dear Minna and Vicki came back in a big way this time.

I also continued to like the chapter headlines as a summary of coming events!

Overall: This duology is good for fans of the multiverse, sci-fi adventures, and unconventional heroes.  There is plenty of recap incase anyone forgot important parts of book one, but this is not going to read as a standalone.  My main issue came with Ana’s POV and how she inadvertently confused my timelines – 100% on me. The book is out now for everyone interested!

Categories
Fantasy

A Touch Of Light – Book Tour & Giveaway!

Thank you so much to Escapist Tours for having me on the book tour for A Touch of Light by Thiago Abdalla! I will give the synopsis, a few brief thoughts, author blurb, links, and of course the giveaway link! Do check out the other hosts for more content!

Tour Schedule & Hosts

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: A Touch of Light
  • Series: The Ashes of Sharon, #1
  • Author: Thiago Abdalla
  • Publisher & Release: Self, 03/01/22
  • Length: 452 pgs
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⚡ for fantasy readers who are ok with not knowing as you go

Here is the synopsis!

The dead shall not be mourned or remembered, for death is the enemy, and will only drive the Seraph away.

The Domain is the bastion of life. The Seraph blesses her faithful with endless years, and death is kept away in hope for Her return, but The Domain nations are not the only ones in Avarin. They have managed only a tenuous peace with the clans to the south, who believe life must be returned to the Earth to keep it whole.

Yet the world of Avarin is changing.

In the clanlands, parts of the Earth seem to be withering away, while in the Domain, a deadly frenzy spreads among the people. It brings darkness to the minds of men and bloodlust to their hearts.

This sickness threatens more than just the peace in the realm, it imperils its very heart.

Now the people of Avarin must fight to save it, before death comes for them all.

Dive into this sweeping epic fantasy saga where religion and politics are one, magic brings terror into the hearts of men, and a looming blight threatens to tear everything down.

A Touch of Light Cover

I give the author a ton of credit for attempting a story as wide reaching as this.  AToL reminds me of Malice, if anyone has read John Gwynne, where there are multiple seemingly unrelated storylines that mostly eventually come together.  I think with a little more alpha/beta reading and work on execution, A Touch of Light would have been a really great read.

What he did well: 

Besides the cover and map, which I always appreciate, Abdalla took an interesting look at death across various cultures.  I also always love a good zombies vs fantasy story (hello Lee Conley) but needed a little more from that “madness” storyline.

I liked the trees! I was curious as to if the whole religion of the Seraph was confirmed true, as it’s exploration was one of the best parts (Sans delineation of the king vs pontiff).  The struggles that the characters faced with religious faith vs faith in oneself is a relatable struggle.

The right fantasy elements were definitely there: a blight, a madness, gryphon soldiers, scattered magic,  airships – heck sakes did this storyline come from World of Warcraft – remember the horde and alliance coming together against the alchemists who created the blight?? 

I … Digress.

To be fair, let me outline what I didn’t love too:

Nothing was explained.  Lots of events, places, names, even clans and regions were thrown out with no background.  Some things got explained later on – most didn’t.   I thought I missed something but according to a few other readers I chatted with – hopefully those answers will be coming in book two.

Nasha’s storyline – for all that her friend was going to pick a war with the Domain, none of the Domain members of the other chapters ever mentioned the clans.  This is a very one sided conflict right now

Take the gryphons for example – is that the only magic animal in the land? Or the blood magic thrown in towards the end – does anyone else have magic?  Lots of past events for all three main characters were frequently hinted at too without telling what actually happened.

Additionally I love the map – let me say that again because the plot is heavily influenced by the book’s geography. So the map shows the land of Avarin, but the continent is named Immeria, comprised of the Domain, clanlands, borderlands, yet once in the same paragraph Adrian refers to them as Immerians, in the lands of Avarin … So what is Avarin? I felt like Avarin was the whole world until Adrian called his region Avarin, and then I shrugged it off for further debate at a later time.

I feel like I need to end this on a huge compliment, so I saved the biggest one for last – I wasn’t really seeing the Grimdark until towards the end, but when Abdalla brought it, he really brought the dark! (Hello Hannibal Lecter, whew!)

Overall: I think book two has promise, which is why I’m not simply reverting to a feature on this review.  The elements are there and I believe that this author has a huge amazing story in his brain that needed more beta reading for execution.  The book is receiving a lot of praise as well so do definitely check out the rest of the tour content (see hosts above) and check out the book if it sounds interesting to you!


As promised, here is the link to the giveaway! Enter to win a copy of A Touch of Light in your choice of format!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/79e197ac8/


Meet the Author:

Thiago was born in Brazil but grew up in the fantasy worlds from the stories he kept in his mind. He has inhabited everywhere from Middle-Earth and Azeroth to the planes of Dominaria, Ravnica and Tarkir. No matter the medium, what kept him coming back was always his love for story.

He could never wait for the next world to dive into, so, after being (indirectly) urged on by the (printed) words of Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence, Patrick Rothfuss, N. K. Jemisin and many, many others, decided to create his own.

Thiago Abdalla (@TAbdalla) / Twitter
Thiago Abdalla (@tabdalla_author) • Instagram
Thiago Abdalla | Facebook

Lastly, here are the book’s  links!

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09GHJNMPD

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B09GHJNMPD

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59010312-the-world-breaker-requiem

Categories
Fantasy Horror

Book Tour & Giveaway: A Ritual of Flesh by Lee C. Conley!

As always, a huge thank you to Storytellers On Tour and Lee Conley for having me this time around!  Last year I featured the debut novel in The Dead Sagas, A Ritual of Bone, you can find that review here! Now comes the sequel, a even more grim dark-er read called A Ritual of Flesh. Definitely check out the tour schedule and giveaway below because I am 100% fully recommending these books to any dark fantasy and horror fans!

It is also of note that the author is going to be coming onto my GrimDarkTober interview lineup so definitely keep an eye open for that!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: A Ritual of Flesh
  • Series: The Dead Sagas #2
  • Author: Lee C. Conley 
  • Publisher & Release: Self, 10/10/20
  • Length: 476
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ fully!

Here is the synopsis:

As evil ravages the north and the dead walk, all eyes fall to Arn… The apprentice journeys south, home to the College, unaware of the dark events that transpired in the High Passes after his departure. His leg in ruins, and haunted by watching shadows, the College council in Arn awaits him, but he does not travel south alone.

Arnulf and his warriors must travel to Arn also, with tidings for the king of the risen dead and the terrible curse which has destroyed all that he knew. Arnulf seeks vengeance upon the College, but must choose wisely if he is to save his son.

Meanwhile in the west, Bjorn and his strange Wildman companion report back to High Lord Archeon at Oldstones with grim news of cannibal Stonemen encroaching from the Barrens, but is embroiled in news of war and invasion as Archeon requests his service once more.

In the capital sickness awaits them all, Nym has fled to the city and must now continue her struggle for survival on the plague ridden streets of Arn, keeping all who she cares for safe from the halls of Old Night.

The many threads of this Saga converge on the city of Arn, but amid plague, invasion and terror, a greater darkness is looming. Dark forces are seeking to unleash evil upon Arnar, honour and renown is all, and sword, axe and shield is all that stands between the living and the grasping hands of the dead

Holy crap, so I thought that book one was immersive, desperate, dark, and a true grabber from page one .. and then I read this installment. Conley blew it out of the water in terms of maturity, atmosphere, and bringing the storylines together in a cohesive, interesting, and seamless way.

Imagine if you will, the stinking bloody dead victims of a plague piling up in the gutters, no food to be had, and the gates of the towns all sealed. A man is crawling through the corpses, risking the plague himself, trying to find some coin – but even if he found something to steal, he couldn’t buy food. The surviving townsfolk just look on, too numb to bother.

That, friends, is an actual scene (but not a quote) from the novel. I can’t tell you the immersive, seeping atmosphere of dread throughout this book without just describing the scene where I feel they *almost* hit rock bottom.

Each surviving character experiences significant loss and witnesses family as well as other loved ones die, so I know Conley is setting the end up for something even more desperate and epic.

I loved how the characters still managed to find something to fight for, even if all they have left is their family legacy and claim to their homeland.

One thing I have to mention too is the utter chaos of some scenes … Certain parts are just absolutely crazy but still remain within world possibility.

My favorite thing is that this is such a welcome break from the newer fantasy I have been reading: I honestly don’t care about romance and character development and all that crap, just entertain me with something amazing and immersive and intelligent and well written, and this is IT.

Long story short: if you like chaos, dark fantasy, fantasy horror, fighting and honor set in a world reminiscent of Skyrim (I hold by that comparison in terms of my visualization of the world): you need these books!

Has this captured your attention yet?? Enter here to win a copy!

You can also check out the links below to learn more!!

Amazon: http://getbook.at/ARitualofFlesh 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43245727-a-ritual-of-flesh  

Website:http://www.leeconleyauthor.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LeeConleyAuthor/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LongswordLee

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

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14649012.Lee_Conley

Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/user/LeeConleyAuthor 

Categories
Science Fiction

On the Winds of Quasars – Book Tour and Giveaway!!

Happiest of pub dates to T.A. Bruno and his new book On the Winds of Quasars! Book 2 of The Song of Kamaria has released today and I am once again totally honored to be part of the Storytellers On Tour book tour for this awesome sci-fi series!

Make sure to check out the other tour posts as well, here is the schedule with links! click here for that!! 

on-the-winds-of-quasars_bruno_banner-hosts

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: On the Winds of Quasars
  • Series: The Song of Kamaria, #2
  • Author: T.A. Bruno
  • Publisher & Release: Self, 09/20/21
  • Length: 353 pgs
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⚡ for sci-fi and fantasy fans! This one would *probably* read as a standalone, plenty of background is provided in a not info-dumpy way but I would recommend reading both

Here is the Book Blurb: 

The thrilling sequel to In the Orbit of Sirens

THE WORLD OF KAMARIA WILL NEVER BE THE SAME.

In the aftermath of the brutal slaying of a sacred auk’nai deity, Cade and Nella Castus are taken from their home and brought deep into the wilderness. They must make their way back to civilization, traversing dangerous landscapes as they are pursued relentlessly by their captor—a winged abomination.

As Denton and Eliana search for their missing children, they uncover something that will change all life on Kamaria forever.

T.A. drops us right back into the world of Kamaria, where 26 years have passed since the warship Telemachus was crashed into the Siren bent on destroying the human settlers.  With the same alternating point of view style and breakneck pace, these books are quick reads and hard to put down!

Eliana and Denton have two accomplished children of their own now, Cade and Nella, and they are both interesting new characters.  I liked the sign language and deaf character rep, a clear ton of research went into that portrayal and it showed! If the next book has a blind character >.>

on-the-winds-of-quasars_bruno_mockup

 

Set 26 years after the forming of a mixed Auk’Nai and human colony, Bruno takes an honest look at what the new city developed into. There is poverty and clear class separation, auk’nai youth losing some of their cultural traditions, new memorials, even down to slowed emergency response times in some areas. What evils might have seeped up from that huge crack in the planet into the Telemachus too? My favorite parts were seeing how the two races learned to co-exist, and what socio-economic divides were present in the city. Another interesting differentiation was between the Auk’nai from the cities and the “wild” ones, the Auk’gnell. He finally brought meaning to the literal term “The Song of Kamaria” and I was on board for it.

If anyone read the interview I did with the author – if not omg read it HERE – he stated that he wanted to bring us through Kamaria with a cinematic eye, and he definitely continues to succeed in this book two.  With vivid imagery, a new connection to nature, even unheard songs, and new wildlife, this is truly a world to get lost in.  The artwork is stunning too, I love the section headings and drawings!

Part1_SongoftheDead

With many darker undertones like possession, murder, poverty, the return of an old enemy, and a cliffhanger that is just so unfair …. I really have a ton of respect for this story and can’t wait for the ending.


Guys there is also a giveaway associated with the book tour!!

Prize: A paperback copy of On the Winds of Quasars by T. A. Bruno – US OnlyStarts: September 19th, 2021 at 12:00am ESTEnds: September 26th, 2021 at 11:59pm EST

Do find that here!


Author and book links!

Website:https://tabruno.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TABrunoAuthor

Instagram: http://instagram.com/TABrunoAuthor 

Facebook: http://facebook.com/TABrunoAuthor

Goodreads: http://goodreads.com/TABrunoAuthor

Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58697255-on-the-winds-of-quasars

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Winds-Quasars-Song-Kamaria-Book-ebook/dp/B09BS8FGX5 

Categories
General Posts, Non Reviews

A New England Literary Tour, Plus Some Cool Books

Title says it all, right? I spent the past week with mom driving from WNY to Boston, seeing the sights, cheering on the Patriots in peace, and of course hitting some literary landmarks.

Here are a few things that I hope book nerds can appreciate!


Our first stop was in Middlebury, VT, at Monroe Street Books! The largest used bookstore in Vermont! The shelves were towering almost to ceiling height and there were ladders to reach the high shelves! Great prices and dollar bins outside with plenty of great titles. Verdict: a must visit, bring a friend in case you need your ladder held! 

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