Tuesday, January 16, 2018

‘Book of Souls’ (Gods of Egypt, #1) by Nadine Nightingale

4 stars

Do you remember the 1999 movie ‘The Mummy’ starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz?  The **good** movie version of the ‘The Mummy’?  Well, I do and I loved it!

‘Book of Souls’ reminds me a lot of that movie.  Narrating main character, Nisha, is the daughter of an Egyptian who thinks she hallucinates visions of Anubis, the Egyptian God of Death, each time she is nearby someone who is about to die.  Her physical proximity to tragic accidents and the dying have granted her a rather nasty reputation around town, which in turn takes a toll on her self-esteem.  Nisha tries to remain under the radar, as everyone from the most popular cheerleader in school to the town’s police chief express their dislike for her. 

Then Blaze moves to town, set on getting to know Nisha and reminding her subconscious of past lives.  It doesn’t help that his good looks are turning all the girl’s heads and that his MMA skill has half the guys wanting to learn from him.  Though Nisha is attracted to the charming London-native, she tries to keep her distance; both to detract attention from herself and to keep him safe.  After all, she believes proximity to her leads to death.  Luckily for readers, Blaze wears her down and gets close (in a clean-YA way).

Unlike most high school-based YA novels where the main character is somehow ‘different’ or ‘other,’ it was nice to see that Nisha is not a loner.  Her cousin is supportive of her, rather than her main bully, and the girls have several friends who all hang out together.  That she takes part in typical teenage banter is a nice change.

Can’t wait to read the next entry in the Gods of Egypt series!  ‘Book of Souls’ will be available on February 9th.

Perfect for fans of YA and mythology, including Lindsey Fairleigh’s ‘Echo’ series.

I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book.  All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s.  

Friday, January 12, 2018

‘An Urchin of Means’ (The Baker Street Series #1) by April White

5 stars!

Historical Fiction and Fantasy author April White has done it again!  She has created a charming and elegant fictional narrative with origins in factual history.  This time we follow Ringo Devereux, an important secondary character first introduced in the time travel series 'The Immortal Descendants,' as he associates with literary figures Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle in Victorian London.  Crimes are afoot and the authors become fascinated by Ringo’s deductive skills and ability to solve mysteries.

It was wonderful to read of Ringo and his wife Charlie in their native time period, as I have immensely enjoyed 'The Immortal Descendants’ series, but readers do not need a working knowledge of that series in order to enjoy this book.

I look forward to reading about Ringo’s next adventure in ‘The Baker Street Series’.  ‘An Urchin of Means’ is currently available for pre-order and releases on January 30, 2018.

I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book.  All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s.  

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

‘The Firethorn Crown’ (Firethorn Chronicles #1) by Lea Doué

4.5 stars

‘The Firethorn Crown’ is a re-imagining of the fairy tale ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’ and the start of a charming series of re-told fairy tales set within the same world.  It helps that there are twelve different princesses, rather than just a few; more storylines to follow and characters to meet.

This first book introduces readers to all twelve of the sisters, their parents, and several would-be suitors, and lays the foundation of the way magic and curses work in this fictional world.  The storyline here focuses mostly on the eldest sister, Lily, and the curse she stumbles into by accepting an item at the hand of a sorcerer.  As in the original tale, she and her sisters are made to dance each night until their slippers are worn through, and unable to speak about their situation.  Luckily there were several smart and observant friends nearby to help the princesses break the curse.

Not only was the writing superb, but author Lea Doué gifts us with beautiful descriptions of the castle and its grounds, the underground kingdom, and of all the princesses’ dresses.  She also added a variety of dragon species, which helped the fairy tale take on more of a fantasy feel.  Perfect YA fun!

The Firethorn Chronicles are currently available on Kindle Unlimited and frequently go on sale.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

‘Ash Princess’ by Laura Sebastian

4 stars

‘Ash Princess’ is YA high fantasy with traces of elemental magic and no love triangle.  Sure, there are two age-appropriate characters who occasionally steal a kiss with the Ash Princess, but there’s no direct competition and she is not conflicted between them.

Our protagonist and narrator, Princess Theodosia, has suffered through much.  As a child, she was helpless when a brutal regime conquered her kingdom and forced her people into slavery; those who weren’t out-right slaughtered, like her mother, the former queen.  Theo, renamed by the evil king as Thora, copes fairly well for all she has suffered through, even if her thoughts grew repetitive as the story progressed.  Readers are privy to her thoughts and we see much of, “’Keep the Kaiser happy and he will keep you safe.’”

When this brutal leader forces her hand and keeping him happy no longer ensures her safety, Theo joins the rebels in a plot to disrupt the Kaiser’s reign.  There’s a prince, a forbidden romance, and court intrigue.  All in all, an enjoyable read.  Looking forward to the next entry in this series!

‘Ash Princess’ will be available from booksellers on April 24, 2018.

I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book.  All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s.

#AshPrincess #NetGalley

Saturday, November 18, 2017

‘By a Charm and a Curse’ by Jaime Questell

5 enchanting stars:

Come one, come all, and prepare to be amazed!

In Jamie Questell’s stunning debut, a traveling carnival is affected ‘By a Charm and a Curse.’  There is something unearthly about Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic; how its performers never fall or injure themselves no matter how daring the stunts.  How its members don’t seem to age like people outside the carnival.  How it has existed, and thrived, for decades without financial difficulties.

The heart of this mystery lies in the heart of the carnival itself.

Teenage carnival guest Emmaline King’s life change drastically with just one kiss.  She joins the Carnival Fantastic and slowly falls for its carpenter apprentice.  Together they seek to uncover the origin of the supernatural curse and work to unravel it.

Author Jaime Questell’s writing is flawless.  This is a nail-biting page turner worthy of the sleep you’ll miss while seeing it through to the end.  The main characters are well-developed and easy to root for as they mature on their quest to break the curse.

‘By a Charm and a Curse’ is a self-contained stand-alone supernatural novel with a complete ending.  It will be available from booksellers on February 6, 2018.

I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book.  All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s.

#ByAcharmAndAcurse #NetGalley

Thursday, November 2, 2017

‘Enchant’ (The Enchanted Series #1) by Micalea Smeltzer

5 stars!

‘Enchant’ is a beautifully written YA paranormal romance.  Though author Micalea Smeltzer makes use of some familiar YA tropes (teenage girl unknowingly about to come into her powers on her nearing birthday and is thrown into the hidden supernatural world she never knew she was born into) this book holds its own within the genre. 

I love the witty banter and teasing between main character Mara and her protector, Theodore.  His younger sister, Adelaide, adds to the realistic and sarcasm-laced dialog.

Theo is part charming and suave, part brooding silent type, and at all times sarcastic.  His protectiveness of his sister and his charge is heartwarming, even when it leads him to be ridiculous.  His serious side is intriguing, but his playful side is book-boyfriend worthy.

Mara, for her part, holds her own with witty comebacks and dedication to learning all she can about magic, supernatural beings, and preparing for the impending battle with the group that killed her parents.  I found both her moral compass and willingness to do what must be done without whining to be refreshing.  She was a fun character to root for!

This book ends on a cliffhanger, cannot wait to find out what happens next!  ‘Enchant’ will be available on Kindle Unlimited on November 17, 2017.

I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book.  All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s.

#Enchant,Ya,MicaleaSmeltzer,EnchantedSeries #NetGalley

Monday, October 9, 2017

‘Unblinking’ (The Shuttered Lands Trilogy, #1) by Kira Carter

4 stars

‘Unblinking’ is an interesting take on a futuristic dystopia and, a believable one at that.  In Minka and Zedd's world, environmental disasters have rendered most of the planet uninhabitable.  Our two main characters grow up in The Tower Lands, a cluster of ten connected skyscrapers within which every aspect of their lives occur.  Education, employment, and entertainment are all provided within these Towers, by the mysterious elite Trustees. 

Privacy is forfeited in exchange for security and transparency, the ever-watchful unblinking Eye can see and record everyone, at every moment (with the exception of small rooms in which to change clothing and use the bathroom.)  Children are even tracked through their educational years, there is no opt-out of this monitoring.  

Employment is found only through helping to maintain the Towers or to provide entertainment; entertainment involves watching individual's Streams or channels, much like the cable TV selection we have today.  Except that the most successful and watched Streams are 'edited' and include nudity or profanity or otherwise embarrassing moments that an individual would rather not share with the entire world.

At first, Zedd enjoys his new job as an Editor, taking an individual's Stream and splicing it together in such a way that it becomes more fun to watch; always at the cost of the individual.  Minka is one such victim.  She is unwillingly thrust into Stream popularity when a simple trip-and-fall in her high school cafeteria appears on a 'Too Hot' Stream, edited for maximum embarrassment when her head accidentally lands in an athlete's clothed lap.

Zedd starts to fall for the subject of his work projects and wants to help Minka escape to one of the other small settlements that still exist in the wake the environmental disasters.  As a Tower Worker, he has access to information about how life used to be, and how to leave the Towers.  Minka, on the other hand, repeatedly gets in trouble with her parents and the Tower Trustees as she tries to research these things on her own.

Zedd wants to help Minka, despite Minka’s understandable hatred for the as-yet-unnamed Editor who has made her life miserable.  Will he be able to help her escape?  Will she let him?  Find out!

'Unblinking' is currently part of Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

‘The Uncrossing’ by Melissa Eastlake

4 solid stars:

'The Uncrossing' is as much about magic as it is a slow-burn YA romance.  Author Melissa Eastlake drops readers in the middle of a set of families who have been working together for generations, each person specializing in a different type of magic.  Eastlake has skillfully brought to life a unique and complex system of magic and an enchanting re-imagined New York City.  She employs an enjoyable blend of fantasy with real-world subway transit and social media.

Luke and Jeremy are young men caught a web of magic spun generations prior.  Though their families are allies, there are many secrets between them.  As they slowly fall for each other, these secrets are unraveled lead to an old curse involving them all.

I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book. All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s.

'The Uncrossing' will be available at booksellers on October 2nd, 2017.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

‘Coiled’ by H.L. Burke

4 enchanting stars!

'Coiled’ is a well-written retelling of the story of Eros and Psyche.  In this case, there are a set of twin Princesses and a set of twin Princes with a mirror curse cast upon each set.  Their fathers, the two Kings, are friends, and like all fairytale Kings, they set out to unite their kingdoms via marriage of their children.

The mirror curses are such that Princess Laidra becomes more and more ugly on the outside as she uses her gift to heal people and show them kindness.  Her sister has the inverse, the other half of the curse.  Princess Ellea’s outward beauty grows each time she is mean or nasty.  While the girls’ curse is tied to their personalities and choices they actively make, the boys’ curse allows them less control.  Each Prince has a human form and a serpent form.  One Prince remains human unless someone lays eyes on him, and the other remains a serpent until someone lays eyes on him. 

As a result of their curses (and some rather nasty parenting), Prince Volen and Princess Ellea are paraded in front of their kingdoms as the beautiful and human heirs to the throne.  They easily maintain these positions by having guards constantly watch Prince Volen and for Princess Ellea to continue to be nasty in order to keep up her beauty.

Princess Laidra could actively choose not to help people, and her warts and scars would disappear over time, but that’s not who she is.  Prince Calen has no such choice; even his own mother must wear a blindfold while in his presence, or else he turns into a mindless serpent.

As the Kings plan for Volen and Ellea’s marriage to unite their kingdoms and plot to resolve the curses set upon their children, chaos, romance, and intervention from mythological Greek Gods ensue.  Enjoy!

I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book. All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

‘Hinder’ by Kristin Ping

3.5 stars - Creative spin on elemental magic in a YA Fantasy book.

Many supernatural beings exist in the fantasy world created by author Kristin Ping; vampires, shifters, sentinels, and so on.  This story focuses on witches, or magic Wielders, and their Benders.  In a refreshing twist on the classic understanding of witches and witchcraft, Ping designed a ying-and-yang type relationship whereby Wielders have power over an element (earth, wind, fire, water, metal, etc), but not enough control to use it safely.  Benders cannot generate their element from nothing (as Wielders can) but once their Wielder calls on their element, Benders control the flow and result of the magic.

Pair this new system of magic with your average high school drama, and you’ve got ‘Hinder.’  All around well-liked handsome jock, Ethan the Bender, has felt incomplete without his element, as his Wielder has been in hiding their whole lives.  Shy and timid Alex the Wielder has been hunted since birth for her ability to wield Earth, and gets picked on relentlessly upon joining Ethan’s public-school due to her magically altered appearance.

Earth Wielder and Earth Bender meet, attempt to fight their attraction to one another, train together, discover secrets from their parents’ youth, and try to make it to the end of the book alive.  With some colorful language and sexual innuendo thrown in for fun.

I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book.  All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s. 

Recommended for YA fantasy readers.  'Hinder' will be available in May 2018.