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Currently Browsing: sci-fi/fantasy
Sep
16

Review: The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter

Review: The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter The Midnight Queen Author: Sylvia Izzo Hunter Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: The Midnight Queen is like a roller coaster ride, the first climb seems long, but then once the world is established and the characters are in place, the rest is gripping and wonderful.  I think anyone who enjoys fantasy blended with a slowly burning romance in a historical setting will enjoy this new series, Noctis Magicae. I think what gave this novel a slow start was my adjustment to the language.  The language fits the historical setting of the novel, and since I have been reading a more modern novel, I needed time to make the adjustment.  Once I had, I found myself lost in this world.  It is a nice blend of magic and an alternate history.  The addition of the slowly burning romance between Gray and Sophie enriches the world.  I will say that it is a chaste novel and would feel comfortable for anyone high school age or older, even mature junior high students could read this.  It is similar in maturity level to the Harry Potter novels. Though the novel progresses slowly, considering the time period and the mysteries it unveils, it is not sluggishly paced.  The action is slow, but the unfolding mysteries and the building relationships help to keep the pace moving.  I feel that this novel was like a chess game in poetry: gripping but elegant, and ruthless but poised.  Ms. Hunter did an excellent job of balancing the descriptions, keeping us grounded in the world, and yet moving everything along.  The slowly burning romance is coupled with the teasingly paced unraveling of the schemes surrounding Gray and Sophie.  This pace allowed me to mull over things and try to puzzle them out.  Although some resolutions I was able to figure out, others were a surprise and I enjoyed it immensely. I love Gray and Sophie for their personalities and how they interact.  They are both clueless and intelligent and I enjoyed watching them as they bumbled with each other.  Their romance is very sweet and yet their connection is as strong as steel.  Their courtship was simple and natural and even with the mysteries and truths they reveal about themselves, their secret hope for each other was refreshing.  I hope we are able to revisit them in the next novel in this new series. The Midnight Queen is a wonderful start to what appears to be...
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Sep
11

Quickie Review: Our Broken Sky by Sarah Harian

Quickie Review: Our Broken Sky by Sarah Harian Our Broken Sky Author: Sarah Harian Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: A- What We’re Talking About: Our Broken Sky is a novella in the Chaos Theory series that retells the story of The Wicked We Have Done from Valerie’s point of view. Valerie is another contestant in the Compass Room. We recommend this to anyone that has read the first book. Considering the nature and span of Our Broken Sky, do not read this unless you have read the first book or it will spoil it for you. It was interesting to see another perspective of the events from The Wicked We Have Done. Valerie is a complex character who has always marched to her own drummer and through this novella we were able to understand and appreciate her. Although seeming standoffish and violent, there is a core of goodness and protectiveness in her – though it manifests itself differently than most. Seeing through her eyes was at times as fascinating as it was heartbreaking. Gikany and Una recommend Our Broken Sky to anyone reading the Chaos Theory series. Although it is not necessary before reading the next novel in the series, it does give a stronger connection to a major supporting character, Valerie. We look forward to the next novel in the series, A Vault of Sins. Our Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot   About the Book: Valerie has always been different from her identical twin Veda. Tattooed, fiery, and foul-mouthed, Valerie acts on instinct, getting even with anyone who wrongs her passive and sensitive sister. At twenty-two, Veda doesn’t want to seek revenge against the three young men who raped her. As for Val… Val never could manage her anger well. As far as Val sees it, the Compass Room is simply a quicker way for her to die—payment for the crime she feels no guilt over. There isn’t a reason to fight, not until a girl as broken as she is reminds Val of what it’s like to hope… Release Date: August 19, 2014 Publisher: Penguin/Intermix Series: Chaos Theory #1.5 ASIN: #B00JV12A2K Genre: New Adult (Urban Fantasy/Futuristic), novella Format(s): E-book Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley Purchase Info: Our Broken Sky (Chaos Theory #1.5) Reviews in the Series: The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian (Chaos Theory #1)...
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Sep
10

Review: Honor’s Price by Alexis Morgan

Review: Honor’s Price by Alexis Morgan Honor’s Price Author: Alexis Morgan Reviewer: Jen Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Honor’s Price is the third and culminating book in the story of the Warriors of the Mist. In the previous two books, readers learned about the five damned warriors for the Lady and Lord of the River, destined to an immortal existence of being called from the river to help those in need. Most recently, the honorable Lady Merewen requested aid from the Warriors to combat a growing evil spreading across the kingdom of Agathia at the hand of the evil Duke Keirthan. After winning small battles against the Duke and his men and with time growing short, the Warriors prepare for the final showdown. The plot of Honor’s Price focuses on the warrior Kane, who carries the visible mark of a dark mage upon his face. In order to discover how to best defeat the Duke, Kane, along with comrade Averel, enters the capital undercover as a mercenary looking for work. Because of his proclivity for magic, the Duke recruits Kane for his personal guard, hoping to use the dark magic within Kane to fuel is own evil creations. However, Kane finds an unlikely ally in the Duke’s sister-in-law, Lady Theda, who lives at the mercy of the Duke’s machinations. With time running short, the Warriors of the Mist must find a way to save Lady Merewen’s land from permanent darkness. Overall, I enjoyed the Warriors of the Mist trilogy, and recommend the series for fans of fantasy and romance; however due to the overarching nature of the story, I would not recommend starting with Honor’s Price. One thing that I enjoyed most is that the book neatly wraps up the entire three-book saga and continues sharing the stories of previously featured hero/heroine pairings. Although the book is the final chapter of the trilogy and shares multiple points-of-view, the focus of the romantic interest rests with Kane and Lady Theda. The pair is an unlikely match that I adore. Kane is dark and although he has done much good in the name of the Lady of the River, the dark mark he wears creates a heavy burden on his soul. In addition, knowing he only has a handful of days until he and his fellow warriors are judged and must return to the river, his focus is aimed solely on defeating the Duke. It is wonderful when the Lady Theda captures his heart from the...
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Sep
9

Review: Rogue’s Paradise by Jeffe Kennedy

Review: Rogue’s Paradise by Jeffe Kennedy Rogue’s Paradise Author: Jeffe Kennedy Reviewer: Una Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Reading The Mark of Tala by Jeffe Kennedy, piqued my interest in her writing, so I looked up her other books and found the Covenant of Thorns trilogy.  It sounded intriguing so I bought the first two books and inhaled them and requested for review this, the third title.  I am happy to state, I also inhaled Rogue’s Paradise.  It was an exciting, passionate and thrilling ending to this mysterious and enchanting journey. The story is told from Gwynn’s perspective and it is a bit like Alice down the rabbit hole.  Over the course of the previous novels, Rogue’s Pawn and Rogue’s Possession, Gwynn finds herself growing more powerful, more attracted and attuned to Rogue, and more self-aware as well as more wary of everyone around her.  But with that, she also finds herself under the watchful eye of Titania, who seeks to destroy her.  Without giving anything away, Rogue’s Paradise is the final for many battles: Will Gwynn tie herself to Rogue (can she trust him)? Will Gwynn be able to thwart the evil plans of Titania? Will Gwynn ever find her home?  All these questions, battles if you will, are answered.  Although there are some lingering questions I have, the ending was entirely satisfying. Ms. Kennedy left herself room to revisit this world and tell other stories.  I certainly hope she does.  There are so many characters that I adored: Starling, Athena, Darling and Walt.  I would love to know what happens to them.  Not to mention, what happens to the dragons and the eggs that were returned?  There are also questions on what happened with Fergus and Blackbird.  Plus, I cannot help but wonder over the future of Rogue and Gwynn. I think what I love most about this series is the voice.  The writing of the Covenant of Thorns truly mesmerizes.  The way the descriptions of the world, the action and dialogue are seamlessly woven together makes it easy to find yourself lost in the world.  It is why I inhaled all three books.  They are difficult to put down simply because it is easy to be so completely immersed in the world of Faerie with the different rules, the way the magic works, not to mention the scientific mind of Gwynn puzzling over the magic.  Watching and experiencing along with Gwynn, some of the final mysteries of Faerie is mesmerizing.  I...
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Aug
13

Review: In the Devil’s Nebula by Anna Hackett

Review: In the Devil’s Nebula by Anna Hackett In the Devil’s Nebula Author: Anna Hackett Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: The treasure-hunting Phoenix brothers find themselves on an impossible hunt for an old earth (Terrain) artifact once again. Following the events from the first book, At Star’s End, the story begins with the trio of Phoenix brothers trying to figure out who keeps stealing their discoveries from under them. This leads them to Ria, an assassin with the Assassin Guild, who wants to do the impossible: leave the Guild. She implores the brothers and Dathan’s wife, Eos, to help her steal an artifact from the Guild so that she can use it to bargain for her freedom. However, Zayn, the youngest brother, only sees his former Wing Commander, Viktoria, in Ria’s face, convinced Ria is his lost comrade and the focus of his unrequited feelings left behind years ago. Now Zayn must put his past behind him if he hopes to heal his unseen wounds and move forward. In the Devil’s Nebula is an enjoyable sci-fi romance, full of exciting adventure and a few twists and turns that give the story added depth. Zayn and Ria share an immediate attraction, but it is clouded because of Zayn’s memories of the woman he lost two years prior to their meeting. I appreciate that Zayn confronts Ria near the beginning of the book, rather than keeps his thoughts that Ria is really Vik to himself. Zayn’s struggles to see Ria as her own person, rather than the ghost of Vik, gives this story an emotional punch. I found myself sympathizing with both Ria and Zayn in what, at times, felt like an impossible situation. Although the story is full of action and adventure, there are several more poignant moments. As the details of Zayn’s past come to light, I found myself moved by some of the powerful scenes. In addition, Ria’s history isn’t so peachy, either. As Ria gets closer to the freedom she so desperately craves, her options become reduced. Together with Zayn, she discovers a horrific coverup, creating internal turmoil that threatens more than her own life. These more difficult scenes give In the Devil’s Nebula added depth, creating a fuller, richer story. The action and adventure make In the Devil’s Nebula a fun read. However, I was confused at first (which required a reread) on what exactly Ria planned to do to gain her freedom. I also felt it was not the...
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Jul
23

Review: The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

Review: The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness The Book of Life Author: Deborah Harkness Reviewer: Vampbard Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: The Book of Life, third and final title in the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness was… Wow! Wrapping up this series in a manner that wouldn’t disappoint readers was no small feat, but Harkness managed with skill. The first thing I want to mention is that I adored seeing ALL the characters again. I enjoyed watching further character development, and the way the characters interacted with every single one having a purpose. I also adore Ms. Harkness’ s voice. Diana is such a genuine character. Even when things are overwhelming, and not perfect, she has feelings bit manages to work things out. Matthew adopts a huge responsibility. Several, actually. In the end, I’m proud of him for doing what needs to be done. I smile when I think about Matthew and Diana. They seem balanced, even though Matthew is super over-protective. Diana knows her husband well enough to anticipate needs, as well as accept his role within the family and stand by his side. Readers should be sure to read the first two titles in this series before embarking on The Book of Life. I can’t say any more because knowing how this story ends, I am simply giddy and want to run on about all the different events. But, no spoilers in this review. I hope you enjoy the All Souls trilogy as much as I did! My Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago. Release Date: July 15, 2014 Publisher: Viking...
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Jul
14

Review: Ashlynn’s Dreams by Julie C. Gilbert

Review: Ashlynn’s Dreams by Julie C. Gilbert Ashlynn’s Dreams Author: Julie C. Gilbert Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: DNF What We’re Talking About: Ashlynn’s Dreams is a young adult novel about a young girl who discovers she is special after being kidnapped.  This first book in what appears to be the Devya’s Children series held promise to Gikany and Una but ultimately was not our cup of tea. We found the premise interesting, the characters fascinating, and the plot intriguing.  However, it fell flat in the storytelling.  The story is told through letters from and journal entries by various characters.  Although this may appeal to some, it felt choppy and disjointed to us.  After reading through 25% of the novel, we found we were just not connecting to the story because of this method of narration.  It was impossible for us to immerse ourselves in the world.  Due to the shifting perspectives, we could not find a foundation for ourselves in the story. Although it was promising, ultimately Ashlynn’s Dreams did not appeal to us. However, it may appeal to many others, and we hope if it sounds interesting to you, you give it a shot. Our Rating:  DNF: Did Not Finish About the Book: Before she was kidnapped, Jillian Marie Antel Blairington was just an average bright, brave, headstrong child. She was excited for life in a new house with her Momma and new Daddy. Afterward, she’s all that … and so much more. Held in a scientific facility, Jillian discovers her past-a family she never knew and a power she doesn’t understand. With her ability now activated, she can enter and even shape a person’s dreams. Jillian’s been kidnapped, and her Gift has been triggered, so she can locate and save Benjamin Connelly, a brother she never even knew she had. She’d better master this strange ability quickly, though, because her life isn’t the only one at stake. Her babysitter, Danielle Matheson, is being held as a hostage to ensure Jillian’s full cooperation. Slowly, Jillian begins to learn more about her captor and the other genetically altered children held at the facility. Join Jillian as she tries to survive the training being forced upon her, find her unknown brother, escape with Danielle, and work her way back to a normal life once more. Release Date: February 28, 2013 Publisher: self-published Series: Devya’s Children #1 ISBN: #978-1450232845 Genre: Young Adult (Science Fiction) Format(s): Paperback (216 pages), e-book Book Source: Author Purchase Info: Ashlynn’s Dreams (Devya’s...
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Jun
24

Review: White Heart of Justice by Jill Archer

Review: White Heart of Justice by Jill Archer White Heart of Justice Author: Jill Archer Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: A- What We’re Talking About: The Noon Onyx series just gets better and better.  The third book in the series, White Heart of Justice, takes Noon on a journey with a new set of trials as we learn more about this fascinating world and the people in it. Although we did receive this book for the purpose of an honest review as well as the first book in the series, Dark Light of Day, we purchased the second book, Fiery Edge of Steel to read.  This is a series in which each book builds upon the previous book.  To be able to really understand the intricacies of this alternate reality and connect fully with the characters, you must read it from the beginning.  Trust us, it is truly worth it as the world-building is engaging and fascinating, the characters are intriguing and seem to continually evolve, and the adventures are nail-biting.  We will attempt to not spoil the HUGE twist at the conclusion of Fiery Edge of Steel, but it may be unavoidable in this review.  Please take care if you choose to read this review without having read Fiery Edge of Steel. White Heart of Justice picks up about six months after the conclusion of Fiery Edge of Steel.  Noon is still trying to move on from the heart-breaking revelation we experienced.  Throwing herself into her training and schooling, Noon is now the Primoris for St. Luck’s.  The novel starts off in the final battle between Noon and her opponent in the New Babylon MIT (Maegester-in-Training) rank matches.  The top ranked MITs from each school at the conclusion of the matches are eligible to compete in the Laurel Crown Race.  Of course, Noon makes it and is given her assignment.  This assignment, if she completes it, would be recompense for her destruction of the statue of Justica in the Joshua School.  However, attempting to recover the White Heart of Justice – a sword of immense power, may just be a suicidal mission.  Teamed with her guardian from the previous book, Rafe, Noon will race to find the sword and return it.  However, nothing is as it seems.  Typically each assignment is given to only one Lauren Crown participant.  However, Noon and Rafe are competing against two bloodthirsty opponents, who not only seek to gain the sword, but destroy Noon in the process. Gikany and Una thoroughly...
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May
27

Review: The Mark of the Tala by Jeffe Kennedy

Review: The Mark of the Tala by Jeffe Kennedy The Mark of the Tala Author: Jeffe Kennedy Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: The Mark of the Tala is the premier novel in the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms.  Gikany and Una enjoy fantasy and this trilogy looked like it would be right up our alley.  We liked The Mark of the Tala and are intrigued by the world and the very diverse sisters.  Although it was a bit abrupt at the end, we eagerly look forward to the next novel. Our introduction to this world is through the middle of three sisters, Andromeda, nicknamed, Andi.  She is neither the most beautiful nor a great warrior.  She is, in fact, the overlooked middle sister, but Andi is happy with her role in the family.  Ursula is the eldest and the most like their father, the High King, Uorsine.  The youngest sister, Amelia, is the most beautiful and said to be the personification of the goddess Glorianna.  Andi is content to be the invisible supporting sister.  However, the price she pays is feeling as if she is a disappointment to her family …most notably to her father.  The one true pleasure for Andi is riding on her beloved horse, Fiona, in the countryside – her only true freedom.  She is content until one day she rides farther than she should and she typically dares only to end up confronting a man who knows more about her than she does. Rayfe is tall, dark and compelling.  He tries to abduct Andi but she narrowly escapes.  However, this one interaction sets off a chain reaction that leads to full on war.  Part of the problem is that by meeting Rayfe, he awakens something that was long dormant in Andi.  She feels herself changes and is afraid.  Her fear of the unknown is understandable.  The way she waffles a bit regarding Rayfe is also understandable.  We enjoyed watching Andi grow and attempt to unearth truths long kept secret from her.  It was suspenseful as we learned more about her mother, the people of Annfwn and her own abilities.  Her connection to Rayfe is compelling as well.  However, what is most enthralling about Rayfe is his trust in Andi – or more aptly, his faith in her.  As the walls of Annfwn’s defense slowly crumble, watching Andi and Rayfe together was enchanting.  It is not love at first sight, but a hit by the arrow of love that is...
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May
21

Review: Dragon Princess by S. Andrew Swann

Review: Dragon Princess by S. Andrew Swann Dragon Princess Author: S. Andrew Swann Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: B- What We’re Talking About: NOTE: This review contains some discussion about the ending of the book that may be considered spoilerish. Dragon Princess appears to be a standalone novel by S. Andrew Swan.  It drew us in with its humor and irreverent situations; but left us confused by the final confrontation and the abrupt, and somewhat sad, ending.  Overall we liked it, but we hope there is more to come as we were left wanting. The premise of Dragon Princess is what drew us in.  We were fascinated by the humor implied by the strange situation that is depicted in the book description.  Frank, our very much reluctant hero, is a thief turned dragon slayer – or so he thought.  Frank is actually a pawn in a much larger game, and his only option was to agree and hope for the best.  The best being that he didn’t die.  Unfortunately for Frank, this left him trapped in the body of the princess he was supposed to save, lost in the countryside, captured by mercenaries and still trying to avoid the evil cultists that are after him. In many ways, Dragon Princess is the fantasy version of A Comedy of Errors.  Frank is a fish out of water as he adjusts to being in the petite and very feminine body of the Princess Lucille. Cleaning up and relieving myself.  These were things that needed to happen if I was going to be a conscientious tenant of someone else’s body, right?  I sighed and disrobed. And I don’t think it is possible for me to properly convey exactly how disturbing that whole process was. There are numerous funny and embarrassing moments, although one great opportunity we thought was missed: Frank was in the body of the Princess for over a month without experiencing the shock of a monthly feminine cycle.  Frank, despite being a thief and a liar, tries to do the right thing – no matter the price he has to pay.  As much as he bumbles around, he is pretty cunning and very crafty and always funny. Gikany and Una enjoyed the cavalry of supporting characters.  The irony of some of them was not lost on us (Sir Forsythe the Good most notably) and we enjoyed the picture they painted.  We enjoyed watching the Princess mature while in the body of the dragon, proving that it is...
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