Categories
Fantasy Young Adult

Book Review: Rise Above the Storm by Alpha Four

Hopefully everyone who celebrates had a great (socially distanced) Thanksgiving! I am thankful for all the authors who allow me to give their fantasy books a read and feature, and for their endless patience with my schedule and (now finally caught up, thankfully,) turnover time! Alpha Four is one of those authors and I hope you guys are adding his books to your TBR! Today I am featuring the Far Forest Scrolls book #3, Rise Above the Storm, and thank the author endlessly for my finished copy in exchange for a feature and honest review! All opinions are my own!

Quick Facts:

  • Title: Rise Above the Storm
  • Series: Far Forest Scrolls #3
  • Author: Alpha Four
  • Publisher & Release: Far Forest Scrolls, August 2020
  • Length: 402 Pages
  • Rate & Recommend:  🌟🌟🌟🌟⚡    yes for fantasy fans 14+!

Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:

The world tips into a barbarous conflict that threatens to drown the world in agony and bloodshed. The Chosen One is designated, but before the first quest is revealed the fragile League is already on shaky ground.

For a quick refresher on book one and book two, the reviews can be found in those clicky links!

The Plot: The Far Forest Scrolls books have been an overall slow burn for sure, but this book finally takes off running. All the major plot points and story lines from the prior books are connected and coming together in this installment. The elves have buried their dead in a most magical way (and I would have been bawling if I wasn’t already emotionally numb), and Bellae’s quest is finally underway. Now that the seeds of mistrust were sown in book 2, the initial skirmishes have begun in Verngaurd’s unavoidable civil war. I was impressed at how the White Wizard and dark warriors managed to completely break apart the alliances formed, giving the Proliates time to firm up their army and declare war. The political alliances and scheming were huge leading up to this, and despite Friar’s best efforts there seems to be no way to avoid war. The pacing in this book is excellent too, there wasn’t much downtime at all.

“If we keep our heart and stand together despite our fear, that is a victory”

-Friar

The Characters: The dwarves and eaglians are in the spotlight too now. I really liked Kainen and Arend and the other members of the League of Truth, which is now revealed to escort the chosen one on their quest. Or at least to the beginning of it. Despite gryphons in the sky and magicians trying to beat them off the path, I thought it was awesome that the dwarves and dragons and Eaglians were risking everything to protect Bellae and clear her way. Seeing her come into her maturity a bit (for a 7 year old) but also be appropriately vulnerable for her age made her seem very real. I think Lontas has a great character arc too finally. It was also nice to give Scelto some chapters and his own personality, which I enjoyed a lot. Jumeaux too. The other main part of Rise Above the Storm was allowing the side characters and other squires to experience the opposition and choose their heart’s alliance. Ritari and Luchar and the knights finally turned into real humans too and I feel a lot more invested in everyone’s outcome now.

“The future has the impressive ability of coming whether you want it to or not”

-Friar

The World: There isn’t much more I can say about the world, it is just absolutely amazing. Fully immersive. Terrain, temperature, weather, food, drawings and artwork of magical creatures and people, architecture, religion, politics, history, it’s all there. All of it. The forest of Creber was probably my favorite part as we got to see some of the traditions of the elves, including the burial rites. I mean even the smell of the dead. What does a blood spiral look like as a dragon rider falls? What about a flesh eating log or an eagle that just ripped apart a gryphon? A4 has you covered.

“There are many definitions of courage, but the greatest one I have heard? Marching forward, even full of fear, headlong into the darkness of the future”

-Vlug, the blue dragon

Continuing with much humor and wit, plus the trademark philosophical elements and more stunning artwork… and, darn it, another cliffhanger – I will be excited for news of the next book, I imagine next year. This is easily and by far my favorite of the series so far and I fully recommend the series to fantasy fans over the age of 14, due to some overly descriptive gore and death. Otherwise the books are fully appropriate with no foul language or romantic elements.

Have you read them? Want to read them? Have a favorite fantasy series? Drop a comment below!

Categories
Fantasy Young Adult

Book Review: Hourglass of Destruction by Alpha Four

Happy pre-thanksgiving craziness to everyone!  I have been spamming the Far Forest Scrolls books on Instagram since I first read Na Cearcaill, see that review here.  I read book two, Hourglass of Destruction, a few months ago and just realized upon finishing the new release, Rise Above the Storm, that I never wrote about book 2 here!  I am so thankful to the author for providing finished copies for review purposes!

Quick Facts:

  • Title: Hourglass of Destruction
  • Series: Far Forest Scrolls, book 2
  • Author: Alpha Four (A4)
  • Publisher & Release: Far Forest Scrolls, December 2019
  • Length: 294 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 yes for fantasy fans!

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads;

Hope and jubilation are transient riding companions as the Knights and squires depart Castle Liberum for a tournament of nations. Those spurious emotions quickly evaporate, as a journey meant to unite the fracturing realms of Verngaurd promptly turns into a battle for survival.

Dark creatures spread roots of death and deceit, infecting ancient alliances, intent on turning the soil red with civil war. Can the Knights fight through the gathering enemy forces and turn back the coming storm before the sands of time run out?

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Hourglass Of Destruction picks up right where Na Cearcaill left off, in the middle of a plains battle. The dragons, dwarves, and allies survive despite heavy losses, and proceed to the Tournament of Flags, which is supposed to unite the allied kingdoms in games of strength and skill.

This book took on a much darker tone than book one. The allies are being driven apart by the Dark Warriors and evil White Wizard, certain sects framed for attacks in an effort to break alliances and ignite civil war. Seemingly successfully too.

The knights see just how deep the Proliates have nested into the cities, destroying libraries and reverting buildings into temples to their god Tallcon. How will the Knights and allies prevent war when it is so clearly brewing?

The treachery and betrayal and sadness ramp up as the knights suffer a huge loss among their own at the tournament. It was fun to see how the games took place, competitions and challenges are some of my favorite book events. Most of the action took place at the tournament so there is plenty of that, but also occurring is a deep exploration of the political meltdown that occurred and is occurring to shape the future of Verngaurd. The book also contains plenty of life wisdom, continuing that large philosophical contribution from book one

We finally meet Bellae’s protector as well, and learn more about the dragons. I love how the knights and squires lean on each other throughout the tournament, but there is still a level of detachment between the characters and the reader. I still love Bellae and Lontas and Finn, also Ritari is growing on me. I gotta say I saw it coming but the end of this one had me bawling.

Filled with plenty of amazing artwork and action for a book that only chronologically covers a few days, this is a great fantasy series for middle grade / YA / or anyone that likes their fantasy with a deep world build, plenty of battle and magic, and a philosophical twist.

Categories
Fantasy Middle Grade Paranormal Young Adult

ARC Review: The Door to Inferna by Rishab Borah

Thank you so much to the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own!

Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Door to Inferna
  • Series: Elkloria #1
  • Author: Rishab Borah
  • Publisher & Release: Three Rooms Press, October 2020
  • Length: 236 pg
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 sure for the middle graders!

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Fourteen-year-old Khioneus Nevula is beginning to realize something strange is going on. Adopted from unknown parentage, he has always been marked as different by his purple eyes.

Now a winter break that should have been nothing but goofing around with his best friends is haunted by some other presence—ghostly apparitions appear to him in the dark of night, the surface of his mirror ripples like a pool of water, and he dreams of a girl with a long blue braid who invents fantastical devices.

Drawn into a mystical land, he meets his twin sister, a proficient mage, a slightly mad scientist, and a princess. In this land where he is a prince, he finds himself and his friends caught in a war between the inhabitants of Elkloria and an ancient and powerful evil.

I am extremely impressed that a tween/teenager wrote this book.  He started when he was 11 and is now 16 so thats a huge accomplishment. That said – I can tell it was written by a youth, and, I think he did an absolutely phenomenal job. The story is nothing new, a teen gets whisked away to an alternate universe and finds out that he is more or less a “chosen one”.

That said, I like how he took an interplanetary and inter-dimensional route with the story line. I think the universes and dimensions and layers folded on top of each other (hints of a Wrinkle In Time almost) are super interesting. The transporters make things a bit convenient but hey – it’s for middle grade.

I think Borah does a pretty good job with world building too, the gadgets and architecture and spells and those talking doors are all pretty cool. I liked that we hear about the food, natives, some lore, and some of the religion / myths of the world too, it gives it depth.

The characters are pretty standard.  There are strong friendships, trust shown, also mistrust, overcoming that – and one awkward moment where one character had to put down a romantic awkwardness. I liked the found family element and how close the group of friends are though. Honestly the last page was the only part that threw me off, since at no other point was Khi worried about being or sounding truthful and that last paragraph just came out of nowhere.

Anyway – I 100% recommend for middle grade readers. Totally age appropriate, good descriptive language, easy to picture scenery, and a moderately diverse group of friends make this a great fantasy read for the age group. I think if he keeps writing, and I hope he does, that he’ll put out some great fantasy some day!

Categories
Fantasy Young Adult

Blog Tour Stop! Born At Dawn by Christina Davis

     Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours for having me on the tour for Born at Dawn!  First I’ll share the quick facts and synopsis, then a quick review and my favorite quotes (memorable moments) from the book!  Also make sure to scroll down and check out the other hosts, author info and book links!

Born Dawn

Quick Facts:

  • Title: Born At Dawn
  • Series: Da’Valia Trilogy – #1
  • Author: Christina Davis
  • Publisher & Release: Indie, November 15th 2020
  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Length: 301 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 yes!

Here is the synopsis:

When a heist goes terribly wrong and the binding spell holding 17-year-old Neva’s powers at bay is shattered, the half-human thief knows she’s in trouble.

Neva has always hidden her Da’Valian heritage while working risky jobs to make a name for herself and serving at her family’s tavern, but she won’t be able to hide much longer. She can either risk the safety of those she cares about or seek out her mother’s people to gain control over her emerging powers.

The Da’Valia are beautiful, brutal creatures created by the god of war, and the austere Da’Valian soldier Astiand reluctantly agrees to take Neva to his clan under his protection. She makes unexpected friends, including the handsome fighter Emiliand, and a new enemy in the clan’s ruthless leader.

Spying on her guardian, the sly heroine quickly discovers just how deep she has stumbled into a dangerous, developing clan feud.

Will she be able to embrace who she is in time to keep her loved ones safe?

Overall I felt like I couldn’t read this book fast enough, and I know I can’t wait for the next book.  In a young adult fantasy era where authors tend to focus on terrible and repetitive inner monologues, Born At Dawn is a fast paced, plot driven book that manages to include a decent amount of world building and characterization as well.  

The species and clan relationships were well defined and the magic is definitely interesting as well.  I liked the flames and magic shields and ESPECIALLY the teamwork aspect of sharing both offensive and defensive magic.  The history of the Da’Valia was cool to learn about too, with the females born at dawn and a lighter color, and the males born at midnight of a darker coloring.  I wanted a little more history there but loved the concept.

My only two issues were that a lot of people and places and things had similar sounding names, so it was hard to keep apart – but there was a glossary in the back!  My other issue is why in the world, Neva, the main character who really is brave and resourceful and motivated and independent – would practically jump into bed with a jackass that lied and tried to keep her prisoner.  She seemed so much better than that!  (Note: only some kissing and horns stroking actually occured).  Oh…maybe the cover too- loved it, loved a glimpse of the city, but since Neva’s hair is long, where are her horns!! It was shorn when she was human to hide her ears!

I know I am supposed to focus on sharing my favorite quotes – but honestly I didn’t find many quotable passages.  A HUGE strength of the book was the consistently solid writing and it did not need purple prose to make it interesting or readable!  Nothing broke the flow of story for me and I loved the book for that reason!

So here are my favorite *spoiler free* memorable moments:

  • A time when Neva unleashed her inner power at a mountain in a very Alina Starkov-ish way, with the sun setting and the snow glowing orange – I cheered when she brought down an avalanche
  • A moment when Neva saw her mother’s ghost – a gift from the god of death – and while a little creepy, the ghost told Neva that she was “strong, powerful, and dangerous”
  • All the times that a hard-@$$ weapons master helped Neva, and the reasons she gave for doing so
  • The scene with my shippable couple – Neva and Emiliand – where they are practice fighting and having a conversation about being different breeds
  • And my favorite: the scene where Neva’s family and inner circle of thieves totally accepts her and Neva just feels so loved.  I had all the warm fuzzles for those people❤❤❤

I definitely can not wait for book two.  The clan battle is going to heat up and I hope Emiliand comes back, I just shipped that so hard.  I actually liked Neva’ s character which is rare for me in YA books and I want her to have an alliance – and romance? With someone who loves and fights for her, not imprisons her.

I also really hope for a Monazhi related prequel story at some point, the chapter intros weren’t enough!

Now that I have saved about the book forever – here is the link to the rest of the tour! I hope you will check out the other hosts!

TOUR SCHEDULE: Born at Dawn (Da’Valia Trilogy) by Christina Davis

About the author:

Christina_Davis

Christina Davis was raised in the Santa Cruz Mountains and is a California girl at heart. She spent much of her childhood in and out of hospitals and embraced reading as an escape. After being home-schooled through high school, she graduated summa cum laude from San Jose State University and attended NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute before embarking on a decade-long career in journalism. She enjoys chocolate, cosplay, coffee, and board games, but not necessarily in that order. She now lives in beautiful Monterey County with her husband and daughter.

Author Links:
Website: https://christinadaviswrites.wordpress.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ChristinaDavisWrites/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChristinaDWri
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChristinaDavisWrites

Book Links:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Born-Dawn-Fantasy-Adventure-DaValia-ebook/dp/B08CXRH4XL/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54981861-born-at-dawn

Categories
Fantasy Young Adult

Book Review: Aspiring by Astrid V.J.

Thank you so much to the author for the Instagram giveaway e-copies of the two books in the Siblings’ Tale duology! I read the whole set in one weekend and have no regrets. The book is a super loose fairy tale retelling of Brother and Sister and reads like it’s own tale.

Quick Facts:

  • Title: Aspiring
  • Series: Elisabeth & Edvard – The Siblings’ Tale – Part 1
  • Author: Astrid V.J.
  • Publisher & Release:  New Wings Press, May 2019
  • Length: 240 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 yes for YA/fantasy/clean fiction/fairytale readers!

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

A coven of witches plots to overthrow a kingdom. One brave woman stands in their way.

At her mother’s death bed, Elisabeth learns her mother’s illness is no accident and that her own life is in danger. Evil witches are plotting to take over the kingdom of Vendale. All alone, naive, and untrained, Elisabeth’s determination is all she has to confront her mother’s murderers as she discovers love at the same time. While Richard’s behaviour sends distracting mixed messages, Elisabeth finds herself stuck in limbo: she is treated like a child but is forced to make adult decisions. Meanwhile, the witches’ plot spins a fateful web around her.

Can Elisabeth succeed in the face of insurmountable odds?

I did read the prequel novel before this too, and feel like Gisela’s Passion (review available on this blog) can definitely be read at any point.

I like that the book is framed as a modern story told by an archivist, so we know the end result of the tale but then become immersed. It is about the siblings, Elisabeth and Edvard, and also about the future king, Richard. The siblings are great characters and so close. I love how Edvard stands up to their father, since the men in this world tend to behave atrociously and sometimes need a good punch. Elisabeth is a strong young woman and at least tries to make her own choices. She has a lot of big expectations on her but doesn’t necessarily have the means to accomplish them. Elisabeth has to navigate a budding but confusing romance with the crown prince, and also discover how to use her innate magic.

The writing in general is so smooth. Cozy. I like the narrative style. I want to read it wrapped up by the fire in the winter. It doesn’t require a ton of brain power but still feels like an engaging read. I definitely recommend for clean fiction readers and it is totally appropriate for the young adult crowd/target audience. Definitely for YA romance/fantasy/fairy tale fans.

Thank you again to the author for the giveaway win!!

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!

a-ritual-of-bone_conley_mockup

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

a-ritual-of-bone_conley_banner-hosts


Here is the link to the Tour Wide Giveaway!

a-ritual-of-bone_conley_giveaway

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
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
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

a-wizards-forge_justice_banner-hosts

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