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Sunday, October 1, 2017

October 2017 Book Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset

The Girl in the Steel Corset

By Kate Locke

~Book Review~




Warning! Minor spoilers! 

FINLEY JAYNE, our late 19th century English heroine, can knock full-grown men out cold in a corset made out of steel, no less. No wonder she is ill-tempered. Paying homage to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as well as reminiscent of Oliver Twist, Kate Locke’s steampunk The Girl in the Steel Corset introduces us to a group of peculiar outsiders, whose newest addition thrashes back and forth between her good and evil natures.

The first couple chapters are exhilarating, as there is nothing more satisfying than seeing a leering brute get taken out by someone he underestimates. Once serving girl Finley comes back to the reality that she has defended herself against someone of upper class, she goes on the run to escape the consequences. She meets Griffin King, who takes her under his wing like the Artful Dodger, and meets fellow uncanny miscreants such as a part-robot and a genius inventor.

Unfortunately, it is here that the book begins to lose its suspense and the plot slows to a meandering crawl around a very surface level exploration of the characters’ lives. There is a shadowy villain, the Machinist, who, predictably, lurks from the shadows and doesn’t effectively establish himself as a menacing threat. Sam, who is part-robot, is super-charged aggressively hostile toward Emily, an inventor, and by the end of it, I still wasn’t convinced as to his reasons for being so. It just made him immensely dislikeable. And Griffin was a bland leader with none of the Artful Dodger’s charm.

All of the potential of Finley’s dual character is lost as she is relegated to share the stage with Griffin’s point of view. It would be an interesting exercise if Griffin didn’t exist and Finley served as the sole main character, gathering the other misfits to her side, and having a more personal, intense relationship with the Machinist in order to build up the tension. Griffin didn’t really serve as anything, certainly not as the fascinating subtle bad influence like the Dodger demonstrated, like the type of mentor who seemingly has good intentions, but whom the more naive “Oliver” character (Finley) needs to learn to establish her independence against. Rather, he just served as a disinteresting romantic prospect and not essential to the plot. Without Griffin, I would venture to say that Finley’s other romantic interest, the swaggering Cockney crime lord Jack Dandy, would still have given the story enough spice.

As such, I am hesitant to continue the series, as the stage is just too over-crowded to provide a more intense, deeper characterization of not just the protagonists, but even of the steampunk world itself. The Girl in the Steel Corset feels like it is trying to be too many things (a romance, a steampunk noir mystery, a philosophical struggle between good and evil natures), and in the end, leaves none of them memorable. I would recommend the series to readers looking for a more light-hearted, slow-paced romance with bits of steampunk magic here and there.

Recommended for fans of: Cassandra Clare, Colleen Houck, and Shelley Adina

Upcoming Book Review: Nightshade by Andrea Cremer 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Update on Writing Projects

When I realized it was September, my jaw literally dropped. Seriously, where has this year gone? It has been quite the whirlwind. Writing will always be my passion, and I have big plans for the Changeling Sisters Series and the Afterlife Chronicles in the years ahead. However, this year has been gobbled up largely by personal life events, one of which involves wedding bells - enough said! I could start an entire separate blog on the intricacies of wedding planning in today's age. Those of you who elope are pretty smart :) However, I have faith that the big day will all come together and I am truly looking forward to it. 

As such, please know that I have continued writing on the newest Changeling Sisters novel, Year of the Rat, in all of my spare time. Soon of which, I will have much more of! So thank you for hanging on, faithful readers, and I hope that all of you as well on the day-to-day will be blessed with that elusive gift of time. 

-Heather 

September 2017 Book Review: The Grimm Legacy

The Grimm Legacy
By Polly Shulman
~Book Review~ 



*Warning! Spoilers!

THIS IS A HEART-WARMING middle school read in the vein of modern-day fairy tales. Elizabeth is lonely and has trouble fitting into a new school but her luck perks up when she accepts a job at a mysterious repository where patrons check out ancient artifacts instead of books. However, Elizabeth soon catches on that some of the artifacts are far from normal. When objects belonging to these “special” collections start going missing, suspicion falls on her group of newfound repository friends.

The Grimm Legacy is a nice change of pace. Light-hearted, fun, and full of curious rooms to explore like the Garden of Seasons or the sci-fi chamber with its own shrink ray, I was endlessly entertained by where Elizabeth would end up next. Of course, the star of the repository is the Grimm Collection, full of cauldrons that can make delicious meals, seven league boots, and magic carpets. I was mentally urging Elizabeth to hurry up and discover its secret, but eventually, she realizes how much of a unique job she has undertaken. Elizabeth has a well-depicted diverse group of friends with the lovely, intelligent Anjali, handsome jock type Marc who struggles to juggle family obligations, and the sarcastically humorous Aaron. Elizabeth learns to speak up for herself and not to be bossed around by others, especially once it becomes clear that not everyone’s interest in the Grimm Collection is benign. However, it is Anjali’s younger sister Jaya who most often steals the scene, declaring herself the defender of the group by handcrafting special “protection” knots as they go after the artifact thieves.

The charm and creativity of this book is something lacking in many fantasy tales these days that feel like a flat rehash of other authors’ ideas. I felt like I was reading something more along the lines of Harry Potter with the spark and right touch of magic to make the pages fly by. Much recommended when you’re in the mood for a slower read that takes its time to reveal a wondrous secret world.

Recommended for fans of: Lloyd Alexander, JK Rowling, Terry Brooks

Upcoming Book Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kate Locke

Monday, July 31, 2017

August 2017 Book Review: Antigoddess


Antigoddess

By Kendare Blake

~Book Review~

 Antigoddess (Goddess War, #1)

IN YA FANTASY WE HAVE SEEN GREEK GODS go through a modern day make-over like in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series or star as tortured love interests (mainly Hades) such as in Aimee Carter’s The Goddess Test. However, what if they started to die off?

Arguably much of their relevance already has, but it is a fantastic perspective to base a series around. I really enjoyed the dynamic between the two main character deities, Athena and Hermes, who discover they have begun to deteriorate in horrifically painful ways. Athena has wings sprouting in her lungs, for (gods’) sakes! What happened to Demeter really made me cringe. So I was excited for the quest as Athena and Hermes set out to find the source of their unraveling immortality. Along the way, a rift ruptures between Athena and those deities trying to solve the mystery, and those gods who have sided with the enemy.

Then there is Cassandra. *Sigh*. The story would have been better off without her, in my opinion. She is a typical judgy, charmless human protagonist who knows better than anyone else (definitely knows more than these gods who’ve been around a millennium) but, as Fate would unluckily have it, she is a Seer tied to the gods’ fate. That means we get chapters of her judging other people at parties, judging other people in her house, and judging anyone who tries to make her do anything. Very endearing sort, but just skim through her chapters. Luckily she’s not the sole POV.

The story is told with a stark, bloody boldness that is refreshing. You can feel the unpleasant prickle of feathers prickling along the roof of your mouth as Athena suffers. Aphrodite is a nut case, and Demeter is a freakin’ rolled out carpet. There are deaths, and they are in-your-face and rattling. The gods are by far the best characters, feeling just human enough that you root for them more so than the real humans. However, Odysseus was pretty bad-ass.

I would recommend the Goddess War trilogy, if anything, just to hear what gruesome fate has befallen the other gods. There were some major players missing in this installment (Hades and oh yes, Ares) who definitely get their due in subsequent installments. Zeus, however, does remain oddly absent for the overtly self-absorbed shapeshifter who runs rampant around the earth cornering maidens. However, perhaps that is to give more of a spotlight to gods like Athena and Hermes, whom we get to know very well by the end of the series. This is a unique re-imagining of what Greek Gods are doing in today’s world and well worth the read.

Recommended for fans of: Rick Riordan, Ellen Oh, and Sarah Fine

Upcoming Book Review: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson  

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

July 2017 Book Review: White Cat

WHITE CAT

By Holly Black

~Book Review~



THE CURSE WORKERS SERIES is truly a breath of fresh air in the genre. My only wish is that I wish Holly Black had delved more into the most interesting thing about it – the curses!

Granted, I feel like the first book, White Cat, is wonderful. The other installations don’t quite capture the magic of a kid named Cassel who discovers he is a rare Transformation worker (voiced on the audio book by Jesse Eisenburg who is a perfect Cassel, I may add). I would recommend the first book in the series and read the others if you’re really head over heels for the characters. Me, not so much, since the focus on all the really cool things that could be achieved with curse working was traded in for a focus on the more everyday lives of our elite high school students.

Anyway, this review is on the first book. And it’s awesome. Sleight of hand, charming, death curses, power over memory – these are but a handful of gifts that a Curse Worker may manifest in an alternate America, where Black has set up a great world full of crime lords employing these curse workers, the law who forbids such practice, and your everyday, normal millennial. Cassel is the type of hero who is smooth talking and doesn’t know when to stop, which often gets himself into trouble, but he also picks up on things and knows when he’s being played, which is cool. He is the one non-gifted son in a gifted Curse Worker family: his mother can charm, his brother Philip is a brawler, and his other brother Barron, is a memory worker, which means he can manipulate memories (scary!) His grandfather is a death worker, which means he can kill people with a touch. What is neat about these curses is that they have “blowback” on the person doing them, which means that however big the curse, so much more will be the price toll upon the curser. His grandfather can lose teeth, fingers, ect for taking a life, that sort of thing.

Cassel does have his faults. He is hopelessly in love with Lila, the daughter of a Curse Worker family mob boss, which is always annoying when you as the reader don’t see what’s so great about her. However, it is revealed early on that Lila is *dead* due to Cassel…or is she? Cassel has memories of doing the deed, but as his brother is a memory worker, it goes to show that in this world, you don’t know who you can trust, and the truth can be far more twisted. Cassel gets entangled in unraveling the mystery behind Lila’s death with the help of a mysterious white cat who appears in his dreams, and the result is a smart alec adventure where Cassel discovers just where he fits in this Curse worker world.

I would definitely recommend – the plot is slow in places, but I highly savored returning to this audio book on my to-and-from work commutes. The ending keeps you on the edge of your seat, and I definitely enjoyed the twists and turns. Cassel is an endearing, flawed protagonist who stands out as real in the very Gary Stu YA fiction spectrum. I’m not as satisfied with the other installments, but this one stands well on its own!

Recommended for fans of: Rick Riordan, Laini Taylor, Jonathan Stroud
Upcoming Book Review: Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

June 2017 Book Review: Red Queen


Red Queen

By Victoria Aveyard

~Book Review~

 Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)



Warning! Spoilers!

MARE BARROWS IS A RED, which means she is a commoner, destined to serve the royal Silvers who have superpowers like mind control or fire. Mare is on the side to a budding resistance to this society until a turn of fate reveals that she, too, has magical powers. The Silver royal family responds by betrothing her to one of their sons and claiming that she is a lost Silver princess. However, Mare knows that the reality is nothing of a kind, and thus begins exploring her mysterious powers as the flames of revolution grow higher.

The training scenes of Red Queen were the best part, where Mare gets to test her lightning powers against other royals who can manipulate metal, have super speed, ect. She forms a bond with the down-to-earth Silver prince Cal, a formidable fighter with fire powers who gets all the attention. She also meets Maven, the younger prince and the son of the new queen who is more bookish, quieter, and jealous of his older brother’s feats.

Beyond the training scenes, it was hard to stay invested in this book. Mare is a generic passive heroine who reacts rather than acts; Cal has a non-existent personality; and I was about to give up all hope on the sniveling Maven as well until Aveyard’s twist at the end. That was a breath of relief, but I felt that it should have happened sooner. For me, the biggest problem was the lack of tension. There are seemingly no villains or anyone who is much of a challenge to Mare for three quarters of the book, which contributed to my rapid skim reading. There should have been; the queen reads minds, for heaven’s sake, but the complacency upon her and Maven’s side was pretty suspicious from the get-go. I was really hoping Aveyard would get there sooner, but instead it’s used as a catalyst to set up the rest of the books in the series.

While mildly entertaining, not much stands out to engross the reader in this world over the myriad of other YA fantasy offerings. The most intriguing dynamic is between Mare and Maven once his secret is revealed, but the other characters were all fairly forgettable.  

Recommended for fans of: Marie Rutkoski; Mary Pearson; Morgan Rhodes

Upcoming Book Review: White Cat by Holly Black 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Ireland Travel Series: Sligo, Ireland

This is Part VIII of the Ireland Travel Series. Read Part I here.

ABOUT TWO HOURS NORTH of Galway lies Sligo, near the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland. This town has a mix of the historical mixed with the industrial, as well as many neighboring country homes. We were fortunate to stay with a family friend who whipped us up some prime Irish coffees every night and introduced us to friends going out for the night.




We visited The Beach Bar (http://www.thebeachbarsligo.com/surfing.html), which had the foresight to offer both surfing lessons as well as beer! Sligo is situated on a gray bay with loads dark, craggy sand and shells, but the waves make for good surfing. The Beach Bar offers lessons for all levels of surfer. I was extremely impressed with the trio of wet suited folks who trooped in from the pitch-black evening outside and ordered up a round. The autumn was so cold that the hot spiced whiskey I had really hit the spot.



We also toured the local scene to see the colorful array of houses and even attended a rugby match. Sligo is home to the Sligo RFC Team at Hamilton Park. Other sights include the beautiful St. John the Baptist Cathedral, Glasshouse Hotel, and the pretty Garavogue River that runs through the town. This can be a spot to launch your trip up to Northern Ireland, but at this time, we were focused on visiting family friends.






We ended the trip with a final round at The Beach Bar. Surrounded by good cheer (and good beer), there is no place the captures the wild, rugged human spirit like the rolling green hills of Ireland.

Sights of the countryside.


Here ends the Ireland Travel Series. Until our next adventure!

Disclaimer: the above is presented as fiction, not fact.



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Year of the Rat (Changeling Sisters #4) Book Description

**Cover Reveal and Publication Date Coming Soon**



Year of the Rat
Changeling Sisters #4
By Heather Heffner
~Book Description~


Welcome to the Long Night. Scurry, scurry, little mice. Wait too long and the Lords of Walking Death shall find you…

THE DRAGON’S PEARL has shattered in the heart of Seoul, unleashing a storm of curses great enough to drive people into a mindless zombie rage. Sensing an opportunity to crush the Were Nation’s stronghold once and for all, the Frost King Aleksandr lays siege from the north with an army out of Slavic legend. Meanwhile within the city, something more terrible still haunts the frightened civilians.

Still reeling over the shock of betrayal, Citlalli Alvarez has been separated from her half-sister Raina and her family. Now trapped within a nightmarish Seoul and unable to make contact with the outside world, Citlalli’s werewolf pack teams up with the dragon-shifter Yong twins in a desperate last stand. As Were agencies from across the globe intervene to stop the spirit world’s secret from leaking out, Citlalli, Ankor, Sun Bin, and the mysterious Vampyre Prince Khyber attempt to find the lost Dragon King, who may be the only one powerful enough to save Seoul.

Meanwhile, Raina gets drawn into Rafael’s crusade for revenge that takes them deep into the mountains of Japan, to the Vampyre Court’s notorious Death Palace. However, a familiar face from Rafael’s past reemerges, and Raina is faced with a choice of how far she will go for vengeance.

As the war against the Vampyre Court engulfs the streets of Seoul, no one is safe and nothing is certain. Before the Long Night can end, the price of power must be paid.

Monday, May 1, 2017

May 2017 Book Review: Alpha Goddess


ALPHA GODDESS
By Amalie Howard
~Book Review~



*Minor spoilers*

A QUICK SKIM READ. I was very excited about Alpha Goddess, a book featuring Hindu mythology, but despite name-dropping a deity here and there, I’m not seeing the connections. I’m not feeling the world come to life like I do in Rick Riodan’s Percy Jackson series. The only character who was remotely interesting was Kyle, and even his plot line felt surface level and juvenile. Still, he encountered some difficult ethical situations here and there, and you kinda felt sorry for the guy.

Sera is the main character, our typical vanilla heroine who starts having weird dreams and comes to find out she is the reincarnation of the goddess Lakshmi, who has a unique heritage that allows her to travel to all planes of existence, including heaven/hell. As such, the demons of hell are out to use her for their plan to invade heaven. Sera can shoot fire from her hands which is pretty cool.

However, that is about all I was able to follow in the scattered, vague writing style before I lost interest. I’ve read Karsten Knight’s Wildefire series which features Ashline Wilde, a similar “normal” girl who discovers she is a reincarnation of Pele, the volcano goddess, and unlike in this book, you actually believe it. There is the volatility of Ashline’s temper, her extreme reactions, and her daring to test the line between good and bad that makes things interesting and absorbs you in the story. However, Sera was just kind of cookie-cutter and never fleshed out. I never got a sense of the goddess she was supposed to be, except that she was “good at everything.” Same goes for Dev, another god reincarnated. The demons were your standard cackling evil baddies. I did like Kyle, a prince of Hell, who suffered the most and had the most at stake.

When I walked away from the story, I didn’t feel like I’d learned anything new about Hindu mythology – there were a lot of different mythologies wrapped up in this story, so if anything, I was a bit more confused. Sadly, I’ll have to continue my search for the next young deities series to devour!

Recommend for fans of: Karsten Knight, Kiersten White, Rachel Hawkins
Upcoming Book Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Ireland Travel Series: Cork, Ireland: Blarney Castle


This is the sixth installment in the Ireland Series about studying abroad in Galway, Ireland. Read Part I here.




ONE OF THE LAST ADVENTURES we took in Ireland was a weekend trip to the city of Cork in the far southwest. Visiting Limerick and Cork is nice to pair together. We had no problems catching a bus cross country. Two popular bus services are CityLink (http://www.citylink.ie/) or Bus Eireann (http://www.buseireann.ie/) and takes a couple hours. Traversing the green pastures and villages dotting the moors makes the journey pass quickly.



In Cork, we set up shop in a dorm room hostel. It’s definitely recommended to take advantage of the cost-saving hostels throughout Ireland, and choose a room arrangement that is right for your group. We were feeling particularly thrifty and tried out a 12 person mixed dorm. The room consisted of only bunks, but there were locker options to keep valuables safe. There was also a communal room to cook your own breakfast.

However, we didn’t plan on spending much time inside. Our main attraction was Blarney Castle, a towering fortress of rock and limestone surrounded by a garden of hedges. The Castle is open year round, and you can view a list of admissions pricing here: http://www.blarneycastle.ie/pages/plan-your-visit.




The castle originates from around the tenth century and holds the famous Blarney Stone, whereby kissing it, you will be blessed with “The Gift of Gab,” i.e., eloquence. The castle is a series of levels that spiral ever upwards until your reach the battlements. The Blarney Stone is conveniently located in the wall on the outer hub of the battlements. There’s no standing upright to reach it—you have to lay down and grip two iron bars while lowering your upper body into midair to kiss the stone, that has received the attentions of thousands of visitors before you, including statesmen, council members, and celebrities. It’s still great fun, although there are no guarantees that you’ll leave the castle being able to rap Shakespeare. There are many legends surrounding the Stone; some claim it to be a war prize, others that it is of Biblical origin, and others still that a witch revealed the Stone’s power to the castle’s owners upon being saved from drowning.


Looking up at the Blarney Stone. Visitors lay down and suspend themselves in mid-air to give it a kiss. 




This is a classic castle and you can easily spend hours exploring here. We branched off into the gardens and found several amusing stops, such as a sacrificial alter and a dungeon (we were way too fascinated by the dungeon). After roaming the grounds in the brisk air, we stopped off at the Stable Yard café and indulged in ham-and-cheese pizza rolls, Guinness Irish stew, homemade cakes with cream, scones with jam, and washed it all down with a Bailey’s coffee. There is nothing like warm, hearty fare to stave off the chill.










Then it was back to Cork where we found the nearest pub to our hostel to pass the night away. Often the pubs are welcome to newcomers coming on stage to join a circle of musicians, whether you’ve brought your Irish bagpipes or fiddle along, and tonight was no exception. After returning back to Galway, I looked forward to backing my bags again, this time to visit family in Sligo. 


Read Part V of the Ireland Travel Series here.

Disclaimer: the above is presented as fiction, not fact.



Sunday, April 2, 2017

April 2017 Book Review: The Wrath and the Dawn

THE WRATH AND THE DAWN
By Renee Ahdieh
~Book Review~




*Minor spoilers*

PAYING HOMAGE to 1001 Nights and Beauty and the Beast, The Wrath and the Dawn is a stunning portrait of imagery. If you like purple prose (which I do!) then there are plenty of descriptions to savor as the characters’ every thought, dialogue, and action is described in painstaking, colorful detail. Sometimes it was to the point where I thought get on with it. Then Ahdieh would shake things up with an assassination attempt, and I would be dialed into the story again.

There was one major area the story missed the mark for me: the magic. It just didn’t quite have that “spark” of originality, given that it is, on certain levels, drawing very obvious parallels with the aforementioned tales and the stakes never felt as gripping as in those original tales.

On the surface, The Wrath and the Dawn has it all. There is a grim and secretive “boy-king” Khalid who has murdered his way through forty wives for reasons no one knows why (ugh, I hated that he kept being referred to as “boy-king” – I feel the story would have worked better and been more seductive if he was called how he acted – a man. I never got the impression of him as a young boy). There is a feisty and proud heroine, Shazi, who volunteers to be his wife with a secret mission of her own: revenge. There is an aspiring magician who cackles and waves his hands at the skies as he grows his dark powers in a way that made it impossible for me to not think of Jafar from Disney’s version of Aladdin. There is Shazi’s childhood sweetheart, Tariq, who is hellbent on saving her from marrying the monster boy-king. There is the wholesome and supportive handmaiden, Despina. And there is an evil Sultan.

And the story works, for what it is – a slow-moving, lush romance. The secrets behind why Khalid is killing off his brides are unfolded one by one, and we see multiple viewpoints of a nation building toward revolution. It almost reminded me of watching a musical. Each scene is neat, packaged, and executed like a scene on stage, although the writing lingers a bit too much on excessive detail to explain to the reader why the character is feeling that way. We are told innumerous times that Khalid is a monster but I never got that impression because none of his actions really made me that scared for Shazi. It seemed like he fell for her charms too easily.

However, I didn’t feel a connection to the main characters. The story just never really caught fire or had me brimming with curiosity over what came next. The reason behind why Khalid killed off his brides made me sigh. Really, where the story shone for me were the smaller moments: I loved the Rajput and Omar, who perhaps because their roles were much smaller, conveyed so much more of their character in what they didn’t say. I loved the two tales that Shazi tells Khalid to spare herself from death, and I was kind of interested more so in how those stories wrapped up. And I was really excited for one particular fight scene, but then Khalid didn’t even get a chance to show why he was the “second best swordsman” grrrr. I loved the world-building descriptions as well, but after a while, I began to dread each new scene with Shazi, because I knew I was about to receive a speech about what she was wearing down to the last amethyst earring.

There is a second book, The Rose and the Dagger, that wraps up this duology. Fans of slow-moving romances will want to check it out. Overall, a heartwarming and luscious story that exults in the power of love.

Recommend for fans of: Rosamund Hodge, Kristin Cashore, Marie Rutkoski, Amber Lough

Upcoming Book Review: Alpha Goddess by Amalie Howard 

April 2017 Book Review: Fate Fallen



FATE FALLEN
By Sharon Stevenson
~Book Review~


THE TWINS ARE BACK and their demon tracking world grows darker still. Shaun learns it is a bad idea to bring a date to a haunted house when a murder mystery quickly spirals into a cat-and-mouse game with a deadly Fae. Sarah and Ray’s relationship is put to the test with Ben and an even greater threat: Sarah’s mother. The ass-kicking in this installment is in prime form, and Stevenson knows how to write at a rapid pace to keep you turning the pages. My favorite Dev cracks me up as usual, and the end is a tantalizing peek into what further challenges away the twins. The wry humor, twists and turns, and secondary characters who constantly keep the twins on their toes make this a great urban fantasy series to return to again and again. 

Recommend for fans of: Kim Harrison and Supernatural 
Upcoming Book Review: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Monday, March 27, 2017

Year of the Boar: Tica: Free on Amazon.com

Hi Everyone,
Year of the Boar: Tica (Changeling Sisters Novellas) is offered in free ebook format on Amazon.com and Smashwords.com! Pick up your copy today and check out other great April deals below: 

  • Check out The Tribe of Ishmael (Afterlife Chronicles #1) on Amazon.com on April 8 - 10th for discount deals. 
  • Sneak a copy of Year of the Dragon (Changeling Sisters #3) on Amazon.com April 26 - April 27th at a discounted price.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

March 2017 Review: The Falconer

THE FALCONER

By Elizabeth May

~Book Review~



Warning! Spoilers!

LADY AILEANA “Kam” Kameron lives in 19th century Scotland where the fey are not nice pretty things but deadly. A particularly nasty one kills her mother, who is a Falconer, one of the gifted humans who can sense and kill fey. Now Kam is the last of her kind, and with the help of the mysterious fey royal Kiaran, sets out to find her mother’s killer.

The pacing in this book was very awkward. The author seemed to take for granted that her audience is well-read in the lady-by-day, fey-hunter-by-night trope and hits you over the head with everything all at once, which left me feeling like there was a distinct lack of world-building. Instead of seeing Kam meet her mentor Kiaran for the first time and build a grudging trust, we’re instead plopped right into one of their encounters and expected to buy that she would be fine with an extremely powerful faery teaching her after just telling us that her mother was murdered by one of these creatures. Also, we’re told that Kiaran is a hottie, rather than shown their connection.

Buuut the author is right. We have seen The Falconer story and its characters before. The pixie is Jenks from The Hollows series by Kim Harrison, Kiaran is Ash from Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series, and Kam is Mac from Karen Marie Moning’s Faefever series. The plot is eerily similar to Faefever, but more of a toned down YA version. In the end, the plot was too derivative and the creative world-building came too late. Plus, it never seemed like Kam really had to strain too hard to keep her two lives, one as a lady of the court, and the other as a fey hunter, truly separate and balanced.

That being said, I did read Book Two in the series, The Vanishing Throne, and it was like the author was suddenly given free reign to tell the story she wanted. It gets much darker, much more creative with the types of fey introduced and their mythology, and the stakes are raised. As such, move through Book One as quickly as you can and then enjoy Book Two.


Recommend for fans of: Karen Marie Moning, Julie Kagawa (haha, I love to recommend her), and Rae Carson

Upcoming Book Review: Alpha Goddess by Amalie Howard 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

February 2017 Book Review: Firewalker

FIREWALKER

By Josephine Angelini

~Book Review~



Warning! Spoilers!

SOMETIMES I READ A SERIES OUT OF ORDER. In this case, I couldn’t help it. The library only had Firewalker, Book II of the WorldWalker Series, and the cover was so pretty that I couldn’t resist.

So, at first I was a bit confused digesting that a witch burning on a pyre could world-jump into alternate realities, but then I thought, cool. Now, Lily and Rowan aren’t my favorites. Rowan is pretty awesome but too perfect. He never messes up and he always knows best. Lily is a breed of witch known as a Mary Sue. She is so perfect that I was rooting for her evil alternate dimension twin, Lillian, just because she was much more of a flawed badass. But the world-building and creativity in this book made me so excited. I felt like I was reading The Golden Compass for the first time, except without the soulful characters.

Lily is a witch and the only one who can stand against her twin Lillian, a powerful other version of her that rules alternate Salem, in a world where warfare and terrifying Woven beasts have destroyed much of the known world. Interestingly enough, this means that First Nations peoples never experienced reservations and still have their versions of tribes, one of which Rowan is from. Rowan used to be in love with Lillian before she turned into a power-hungry dictator who hung scientists. In this book, we see what drove Lillian’s decisions by experiencing Lillian’s visits to Cinder Worlds, which again, is a very neat idea.

Much of this book is slow. Lily recovers, talks to Rowan, sleeps, talks to her mother, eats, talks to her sister about a vague threat from a government agent, and then recovers some more. Finally, her Earth friends Tristan, Breakfast, and Una say, “Enough already, tell us what the hell is going on.” Interestingly enough, they all show signs of being Mechanics, warriors who all specialize in certain abilities like healing or fighting which are heightened once they are claimed and fueled by a witch. Or that’s my Book II understanding of it, anyway. Still majorly cool. They world-jump with Lily back to the Salem that’s in trouble and start making their battle plan to stop Lillian before nuclear warfare breaks out and the visions of a dead Cinder World comes to pass.

The hands-down most awesome part of this book was The Hive. These are Woven who are yep, you guessed it: killer bees! But not just any killer bees. Their main fighters are the “Warrior Sisters,” who are as tall as humans, have poisoned whips, and are supernaturally fast given their insectoid eyesight and wings. Freakin’ awesome. I was riveted the entire scene when they encounter The Hive. Usually fantasy novels speak with fear to hype up certain mythical beasts and I think, yeah, yeah, so scary. But in this case, the characters’ fear truly felt real.

There is a key cliffhanger involving The Hive at the end of the book, and so I’ll have to get my hands on Book III: Witch’s Pyre just to see what happens. This is truly an imaginative book. The characters don’t get much depth beyond what we typically see in YA Fiction, but Rowan, Breakfast, and Una specifically are an endearing bunch, and the world-building is top-notch.

Recommend for fans of: Philip Pullman, Julie Kagawa, Susan Ee

Upcoming Book Review: Fate Fallen by Sharon Stevenson 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

January 2017 Book Review: The City Darkens



THE CITY DARKENS

By Sophia Martin

~Book Review~



 




Warning! Minor Spoilers!



THIS IS A DELICIOUSLY DARK NOIR where class politics mix with cries for revolution in an alternate Scandinavian decopunk world. Myadar is an endearing highborn protagonist who knows little of the games the court plays but will stop at nothing to get her son back.

It is rare to find a book that distinguishes itself, but The City Darkens has a voice all of its own and no shortage of creativity when interweaving gods with robots and fleshing out the religious and political issues that have reached a turning point amongst the people.

Myadar is content to raise her adorable son Bersi in the countryside. However, then her devious mother-in-law shows up and demand their appearance at court. This means reuniting with her cruel husband. As all loyal supporters of Game of Thrones’ Ned Stark know, going to court is always a very bad idea. However, Myadar has no choice and later watches in horror as her son is taken from her and used as a pawn against her to force her to toe the line with her husband’s political agenda. Luckily, Myadar begins to explore the world around her to create a space for her choices, choices that will change the fate of the court and their people in ways none of them, even Myadar, could expect.

This is an atmospheric novel that combines intrigue with passion. Myadar quickly grows on the reader as a capable heroine open to exploring her sexuality with multiple partners, several of whom she must tread carefully, as they have scheming motives of their own. All in all, this book succeeds at capturing an air of danger as Myadar must work fast to turn the tables on her enemies and navigate a just as swiftly changing world.



Recommend for fans of: The Kushiel Dart series by Jacqueline Carey
Upcoming Book Review: Fate Fallen by Sharon Stevenson