Books I've Read

Book Review: The Raven’s Tale

The Raven's TaleTitle: The Raven’s Tale

Author: Cat Winters

Genre: YA Historical Fantasy

Series: none, standalone

Edition: eBook ARC from NetGalley

Blurb: Seventeen-year-old Edgar Poe counts down the days until he can escape his foster family—the wealthy Allans of Richmond, Virginia. He hungers for his upcoming life as a student at the prestigious new university, almost as much as he longs to marry his beloved Elmira Royster. However, on the brink of his departure, all his plans go awry when a macabre Muse named Lenore appears to him. Muses are frightful creatures that lead Artists down a path of ruin and disgrace, and no respectable person could possibly understand or accept them. But Lenore steps out of the shadows with one request: “Let them see me!”

Review: Oh, this was right up my alley! I could tell after only reading two chapters in.

This concept, taking a real historical figure, known for their connections to bizarre and haunting things, and turning their story into a true paranormal tale is really amazing, and Cat Winters does it wonderfully. This makes me want to read a more realistic biography of Poe and see where the similarities are. I know he lost his parents and that they were theater performers (or at least I knew about his mother, didn’t know his father was as well). I don’t know much about his foster family (the Allans), his time at university, or any of his other relationships. It would be very interesting to see just how much Winters did her homework, but guessing from her notes and resources, she did it pretty well.

I love that Edgar’s muse is personified into an actual creature that haunts and torments him. The chapters flip back and forth between Edgar (or “Eddy”) and his muse, a terrifying creature of a woman who he names Lenore (because of course he did). Lenore is absolutely fascinating. There is a constant struggle between them as Eddy fights to rise above where he came from, but also to honor the part of him that revels and loves the macabre. This struggle grows as another muse, one that tempts his love of satire, also fights for Eddy’s intellect and talents.

This book just came out this past Tuesday, April 16th, and everyone needs to go get it, right now. Especially if you are a Poe fan, but even if you aren’t familiar with his work, you will enjoy this.

GoodReads rating: 5 stars

 

 

Books I've Read

Book Review: The Wrythe and the Reckoning by Yvonthia Leland

The Wrythe and the ReckoningTitle: The Wrythe and the Reckoning

Author: Yvonthia Leland

Genre: YA, I guess?

Series: none

Edition: ARC from NetGalley

Blurb: The Wrythe and the Reckoning is an avant-garde nostalgic story that will have you not only falling in love with the characters, but you’ll also gain an understanding of their individual perspectives on life. This fantasy tale is sure to be enjoyed by readers of all ages, from teens to older adults.

In the mid-1800s, Lina and her family move from their small New Hampshire village to an industrial city in Massachusetts. During this time, it is said that a bizarre, malevolent human-like monster is lurking about in the forests of the New England territory. In addition, Lina is an independent thinker. She’s determined to make something of herself and to live her life the way that she wants to. Lina must face and overcome the difficult challenges surrounding her society in order to live her ideal life, all while avoiding being murdered by the so-called human-monster. ‘The Wrythe and the Reckoning’ is an epic urban fantasy tale of love, courage, bravery, freedom, and friendship.

If you’re looking for a story that’s simply about romance or a horrific event, this isn’t the story for you. The Wrythe and the Reckoning is an intricately woven tale of a teenage girl’s life experience as she grows into a woman and continuing afterwards. Not only is this story about her life, it’s also about the lives of those close to her and the society in which she lives.

Intriguingly complex and yet relatable, The Wrythe and the Reckoning is a thought-provoking and intellectual story of fantasy, mystery, adventure, and romance.

Review: Y’all, this is the first time in a while that a book has made me so confused. It’s also been a while since I was close to straight up not finishing a book. If I didn’t feel obligated by NetGalley to do it, I probably would have given up on this book.

The first thing you notice with this book is it’s voice. The tone is very old fashioned, reminding me of some of the late 19th/early 20th prose I studied for my English degree in college, except . . . way too simple. It is overly plodding, giving every detail. This book badly needed some edition. There were too many pages where nothing really happened. At all. It could have easily been a short story instead of a novel.

The pacing is also just strange. The first few chapters were reeeeaally long, and then they got really short. And there didn’t seem like a point to it. Also, I should point out, that the ARC is 20 chapters long (with chapter 2 broken into two parts for some reason) and it is incomplete. There is a note from the author basically saying to check out the rest of the book once it’s published.

So let’s talk a bit about the story. The main character is Lina, a young girl who is determined to be independent. Which basically means she doesn’t want to get married, which is unusual for her time period. This doesn’t stop several men from being smitten with her, despite everyone else describing her as not particularly attractive and very difficult because of her modern views. She attends abolitionist meetings and volunteers for the suffrage movement, but in a very bland way. All of the characters were very bland and they all had very average lives that were very dull at times to read about.

Now let’s talk about the “monster,” the thing that is really supposed to get this story hopping. There are a handful of hints about it in the book, none of which make it sound too serious. Maybe there is a murderer loose, but that’s it. Any hints of it being a “monster” are brushed off by EVERYONE as just superstition. But we the reading, through our point-of-view character Lina, don’t actually experience the monster until chapter 18. Of a 20 chapter ARC. That should have happened much, much sooner, but instead we got a lot of day-to-day details that don’t really go anywhere and, are frankly, quite boring.

Another weird thing: this book and this author have no information on GoodReads at all. The blurb above was taken from the NetGalley page.

I really hate to give bad reviews, only because I know how much blood, sweat, and tears go into writing a novel. But I also have to be honest, and honestly, I did not enjoy this much at all.

GoodReads Rating: 2 stars

Books I've Read

Release Day Blitz: The Rage of Saints by S.A. Klopfenstein

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I am so excited that THE RAGE OF SAINTS by S.A. Klopfenstein is available now and that I get to share the news! This is one of my new favorite fantasy stories and I can’t wait for everyone to read it!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by author S.A. Klopfenstein, be sure to check out the details below.

This blitz also includes a giveaway for a finished copy of THE SHADOW WATCH and THE RAGE OF SAINTS, U.S. only, courtesy of S.A. and Rockstar Boo Tours. If you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

About the Book:

Book 2 (1)Title: THE RAGE OF SAINTS (The Shadow Watch #2)

Author: S.A. Klopfenstein

Pub Date: March 26, 2019 (today!!)

Publisher: Guardian Grey Publishing

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 507

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon

The thrilling second installment in the Shadow Watch series!

The Shadow Watch has been undone. Their captain lies in the dungeons of the White Citadel, and the Gallows Girl has disappeared. Most of the surviving Watchers have joined the chancellor’s new magical army, the Sky Guard, led by Darien Redvar, but the Gallows Boy is shaken from the return of the monsters of the Old World, and he must soon choose, once and for all, where his loyalties lie.

Tori and Mischa trek to the Great White North with an Alyut shaman, who believes Tori is the one who will bring Restoration to his people. A resistance is growing in the North, but Tori may not be the god the people are looking for, and the price of revolution may cost Tori her heart as well as her life.

Meanwhile, another threat grows in strength. Old World monsters are rising up across the New World, and no one knows how they’ve returned. As nations ready themselves for a magical war, their return threatens to change everything.

New alliances are set in place, new friendships are forged, new loves kindled. But no one is safe, for there can be no war without betrayal.

Don’t miss this the latest installment in the epic fantasy series readers are comparing to Mistborn and Throne of Glass! 

About Book 1:

Book 1Title: THE SHADOW WATCH (The Shadow Watch #1)

Author: S.A. Klopfenstein

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

Publisher: Guardian Grey Publishing

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 420

Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&N

For centuries, the Oshan Empire has ruled the New World with terror and blood. The Watchers have been eradicated, and their sorcery is but a whispered myth. But the heart of magic beats on, and as it surges back to life, three young people will determine the fate of the world…

Tori Burodai, a strong-willed slave girl. Her magic could ignite a revolution, but only if she resists the ruler who wants to use her powers to restore the empire to its former glory.

Darien Redvar, the idealistic soldier she loves. His rage leads him down a dark path to power that could turn him against the one person he cares for.

Kale Andovier, a lordling rebel with a torturous past. His quest for a weapon of dark sorcery will thrust him into a twisted game of power that could change the world forever.

Will the return of magic transform the New World, or bring it to ruin?

Excerpt from THE RAGE OF SAINTS (Prologue)

Cyrus Maro—the sixteenth Chancellor of Osha—should have been pleased. Exuberant, even. The leaders of the Shadow Watch lay in the dungeons beneath the White Citadel, their magic-rich blood filling him with power each day. Many of the Watchers had chosen to serve him rather than suffer this horrid fate, which made Cyrus Maro even more powerful. Monsters ravaged the New World for the first time in centuries, and the people of Osha looked to their chancellor as though he were their god.

And he was their god. When the chancellor revealed his magic to the people of Osha, the day he paraded the Watchers through the streets of Maro’El, their mouths had gaped with awe; they’d knelt in reverence as he’d ridden past. Magic had returned to the world at his hand.

Nothing had gone according to plan, but everything had turned out better than he ever could have dreamed.

The monsters that had come through the portal between the worlds had been unanticipated, but they had turned into a precious opportunity. Rulaqs and Nosferati had returned from the realm of nightmares and myths to ravage the world. The people of Osha were afraid, and fear made them loyal. Their chancellor wielded power unknown in all the New World, and his new magical army, the Sky Guard, would keep the empire safe from hellish beasts.

While other nations plunged into chaos, Osha would remain strong, and the people of the North would be grateful, worshipful.

Cyrus Maro was more powerful than his father, and his father before him. He was far more powerful than Loras, his precious, perfect brother, had ever been.

But it was not enough.

It was as though Loras had returned from the dead to taunt him with this fact, as he had taunted Cyrus with his magical prowess when they were children. Of course, like their parents, Loras had not practiced his magic… much. It was this self-denial that held the empire together, their father had liked to say. Cyrus had showed no prowess to deny himself of, but he had always thought it a ludicrous notion. Self-denial had made his father—and all his forefathers, and especially Loras—weak, far weaker than Cyrus had ever been.

Cyrus had fashioned his own power. No longer would an Oshan chancellor be mocked by foreign dignitaries as a vestige of another time. No longer would the nobles rule the empire like puppeteers.

Now, more than ever, the chancellor was revered and feared. But for one thing:

The Gallows Girl.

Cyrus Maro had hoped that in the turmoil of Old World monsters ravaging the New World, the Gallows Girl might be forgotten. It had been weeks since she’d been lost in the catacombs beneath the Crooked Teeth. And many months since any common person had seen her. Yet here he was, on the balcony where he first drank the Gallows Girl’s blood, and it was time to inflict pain on her account once more.

There came a knock on the balcony doors. A Morph announced the arrival of his visitor, and Cyrus motioned for them to enter.

“The noble traitor, Ren, of House Andovier,” the attendant announced.

“That’s Captain Andovier,” murmured Ren weakly but defiantly as he entered.

The Watcher was escorted to the balcony by a traitor to his own cause. Dajha Bhati was one of the first Watchers to join the chancellor’s Sky Guard, and he was all too eager to demonstrate his new loyalties. He led Ren with a shove that sent him to his knees.

“Careful,” said the chancellor. “Your captain might break.”

Despite his quick tongue, the captain of the Watchers looked like he’d been inflicted with a plague—his skin hung loose and was tinted a greyish hue, as though he were beginning to rot. Even his eyes had lost their lustre. Brilliant blue now appeared dull and faded.

“Yeh’re my captain now, milord,” said Dajha, bowing his head. “Reckon the best thing for Ren might be breaking.”

The chancellor chuckled, pleased with the young Parjhan’s unabashed loyalty. Nevertheless, he motioned for Dajha to help Ren up. Ren moaned.

“Had enough of my dungeons?” said the chancellor. “Dajha’s doing quite well.”

Dajha stood behind his former captain with arms crossed, his expression hard. The chancellor loved the anger that flared up at the mention of Ren’s own soldier’s betrayal. Suddenly, the Watcher captain didn’t look so pitiful. There’s fire in him, yet. Good.

“Am I ready to betray my own kind?” said Ren bitterly. “Like my… brother?” He spat the words, and the chancellor grinned. “Like you?”

Cyrus Maro’s lips curled. “Betray? Your Gallows Girl sets monsters upon the entire world, and you accuse me of betrayal? You sought to return the glory of the Watchers to the New World, and I have done that. I am sorry to have stolen your glory, but it is time you accepted the world as it is and moved forward. The Sky Guard awaits you, my friend. It will welcome you with open arms, as it did Dajha.”

At this, Dajha nodded coolly.

A table had been set out on the balcony, and the chancellor gestured to Ren. “Sit. Eat. You must be tired of the stale rations of the dungeons. Replenish yourself. I insist.”

Ren sat and replenished, tearing into a leg of roasted venison. The juices splattered from his lips, staining the white tunic he’d been given for this meeting.

As he ate, the color returned to Ren’s cheeks, only a little, but nothing was missed by Cyrus Maro. “See, I’m not all blood and horror,” the chancellor said.

Ren did not answer, but he did not stop eating.

“You know, you might have been a part of all this,” said the chancellor. “The return of our kind.”

Ren choked back a sip of wine. “Our kind? You’re no Watcher.”

The chancellor tensed, though he tried not to let it show. Instead, he smiled, reached out with his sense, and summoned a second goblet. It floated through the air to his hand, and he drank a glorious red liquid. It was not wine.

As its coppery taste left his tongue, he could already feel his power increasing like a stoked fire.

“Yes,” said Cyrus Maro. “Our kind. Or are you naïve enough to think that magic is restricted to your Old World orders? It was that sort of thinking that led to the fall of the Watchers, my friend. I thought you more sophisticated.”

“I know what happened in the Old World. My family was there,” said Ren.

“Yes, they were. As you were there when I discovered what can be done with Watcher blood. So was Scelero. And yet both of you have the audacity to paint yourselves righteous.”

Ren’s expression grew hard, and the chancellor was pleased. He knew Ren regretted serving him those many years ago—those events had led to the death of the royal family, all but Cyrus. Much as Ren might hate to believe it, he had helped make the chancellor what he was.

“We are more alike than you think, Ren. We both created a problem.”

“Astoria may be the one who let those beasts through your portal, but you made it possible. Don’t you paint yourself righteous.”

The chancellor laughed. “Still bantering, even after weeks of bloodletting. Your strength is returning. Good.”

“Why are you treating me well?” said Ren bitterly.

“I’m reminding you of the finer things. The things you have longed for ever since you fled the city. You may have spent the last few years out in that gods-forsaken tower in the woods, but you are still a true noble of Osha. I’m trying to seduce you, of course.”

For a moment, Ren looked taken aback. The chancellor enjoyed surprising people with the naked truth. Ren recovered and took a loaf of bread. It steamed as he broke it open. “And why else are you treating me well?” Ren said.

The chancellor was pleased. Nothing got past Ren Andovier. “There’s something I need you to do for me. And for that, you will need to be strong.”

The chancellor procured a parchment from his robes. It was such a little thing, found in the pockets of a mere servant boy. But if Tori had taught him anything, it was that servants could pose a considerable threat, even to him. Especially to him.

Ren unrolled the parchment. Inscribed on the crumpled paper were no letters or words. Servants were rarely literate. No, there was only one symbol. Small, in the bottom corner of the page, so small it might have easily gone unnoticed—mistaken for a scribble by one of the scribes.

The symbol was that of a gallows, the overhanging beam cleft in two.

Though it was not his writing, Ren’s face betrayed horror at the sight of it. “What do you want me to do?”

“Commander Redvar! You may enter.”

The servant boy, who had been brought up from the dungeons, did not tremble when the commander of the chancellor’s Sky Guard forced him into the chancellor’s presence. The boy was expressionless, and this infuriated the chancellor, though again, he tried not to let it show.

“Here is your insurrectionist, milord,” Darien said, shoving the servant boy to his knees.

Sparing the Gallows Boy had turned out to be one of Cyrus Maro’s greatest decisions. When the chancellor appointed Darien Redvar as commander of his magical army, the people of Osha had been in awe. The chancellor had proven cunning even in his own apparent grace. The Gallows Boy—who once had defied him before all of Osha, who had triggered the Gallows Girl’s very demonstration of forbidden magic last year—had turned into his most feared servant.

Darien’s expression was cold as he stood over the defiant little rebel.

This will be interesting. The chancellor smiled at the boy, offering his hand, and the boy looked dumbly at it. “I am helping you stand,” Cyrus Maro said.

Like Ren, the boy was dressed in a fine-spun tunic, better than anything the boy had likely worn before. He took the chancellor’s hand and stood.

“What’s your name?” the chancellor said.

“Me name’s Liam,” the boy said, his lowborn accent thick.

“A Morgathian,” said the chancellor, noting the boy’s speckled skin. “But it would seem, one not so blessed by your god.” Red hair was seen as a blessing from Nafta. Hollsted had been thus blessed, and yet Nafta had not spared the Rebel King at the hands of the Gallows Boy.

Cyrus Maro mussed the boy’s plain, tawny hair. He gestured to Ren. “Show Liam what we’ve found.”

Ren’s expression was visibly pained as he regarded the boy, but still, he obeyed and handed over the treacherous parchment. Liam clenched his fist around it, crumpling the poorly drawn gallows into a ball.

“You do not deny it is yours?” said the chancellor, amused.

Liam’s knees weakened a little, but he stood tall for one no older than thirteen summers. He shook his head without hesitation. “I don’t deny it. Don’t regret it, neither.”

The chancellor chuckled darkly. “You realize that the Gallows Girl is a traitor, a dark sorceress who brought back the terrors of the Old World?”

“She’s a saint,” Liam said obstinately. “And she’s coming to save us.”

“Save you? A horde of Rulaqs march toward the city as we speak. At her behest.” The chancellor grew cold, gripping the boy by the collar of his tunic. Despite his bravery, little Liam was shaking, and this pleased the chancellor. “I saved you. My armies keep the beasts at bay.”

“No,” said Liam. “Y-you en’t no savior. Y-you’re a tyrant.”

His grip tightened on the boy. A part of him admired his brashness. It was such a spark that had prompted him to spare the Gallows Boy not so long ago. But this boy would receive no such grace.

“Yes, well, we become what we must, my boy. And you are about to become exactly what you must. That symbol is a sign of treason. Do you know what happens to traitors, boy?”

The boy swallowed, but nodded. “Y-you’re going to k-kill me.”

The chancellor released his grip on the boy. “Actually, Ren, here, is going to kill you. He’s a traitor too. And it’s time you both understood what that entails.”

Ren backed away from the boy. “I won’t,” he said.

“Ah, now that is just charming,” said the chancellor. “After all that’s happened, Ren, you still believe you have a choice.”

Medea appeared behind Ren, stepping from a sudden rise of mist—the path of the godstones. Before Ren could react, her pale, tendril-like fingers extended from billowy silks and latched onto his skull.

“You don’t want to serve me again?” said the chancellor. “Ren, I am afraid, you have no choice.” The chancellor took hold of Liam by both arms and held him still. “This is the fate of those who hope in the Gallows Girl.”

At Medea’s command, Ren began channeling his Conjuri power in a way he had never done before. First, the boy’s tunic was wrenched from his chest, exposing his torso. And then, the incision began, starting at the center of his scrawny chest. The cut ran slow and deep, compelled not by a blade, but by pure, unadulterated magic. It was the cleanest cut the chancellor had ever seen. The skin split open so smoothly, it was as though the image were being painted on a canvas rather than carved from flesh. It was beautiful.

Throughout the process, the servant boy screamed in agony, crimson life gushing from the growing wound.

By the time Ren had finished, the boy was dead, his life poured onto the balcony floor.

The chancellor turned the boy over so he could examine the finished product. The image carved from the little rebel’s chest had come out perfect. An exact likeness. A piece of art. Etched into the dead boy’s chest was a broken gallows.

The symbol of the Gallows Saint.

About the Author:

stephen-low-q

S.A. Klopfenstein grew up on a steady dose of Tolkien and Star Wars. As a child, he wrote his first story about a sleepwalking killer who was executed by lethal injection.

He lives in the American West with his wife and their dog, Iorek Byrnison. He can be found exploring the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, or daring the halls of the middle school where he teaches Language Arts.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway Details: 1 lucky winner will win a finished copy of THE SHADOW WATCH and THE RAGE OF SAINTS, U.S. Only. Click the link below to enter!

 Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tours · Books I've Read

BLOG TOUR: The Shadow Watch Series by S.A. Klopfenstein

THE SHADOW WATCH SERIES (1)

Welcome to my very first book tour! I’m so excited! Thank you so much to Rockstar Book Tours for letting me help showcase this amazing series!

Book 1Title: THE SHADOW WATCH (The Shadow Watch #1)

Author: S.A. Klopfenstein

Pub. Date: May 15, 2018

Publisher: Guardian Grey Publishing

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 420

Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&N

Blurb: For centuries, the Oshan Empire has ruled the New World with terror and blood. The Watchers have been eradicated, and their sorcery is but a whispered myth. But the heart of magic beats on, and as it surges back to life, three young people will determine the fate of the world…

Tori Burodai, a strong-willed slave girl. Her magic could ignite a revolution, but only if she resists the ruler who wants to use her powers to restore the empire to its former glory.

Darien Redvar, the idealistic soldier she loves. His rage leads him down a dark path to power that could turn him against the one person he cares for.

Kale Andovier, a lordling rebel with a torturous past. His quest for a weapon of dark sorcery will thrust him into a twisted game of power that could change the world forever.

Will the return of magic transform the New World, or bring it to ruin?

Review: This is my kind of fantasy! From the very first chapter, I knew I was going to love this story and these characters. It reminded me so much of the first classic fantasy authors I read, way back in the day. Far-reaching and epic in scope, this story keeps the adventure coming from beginning to end.

Let’s start with some specifics, beginning with Tori. She’s the unlikely, and sometimes unwilling, hero. Her life is hard, from coming up from a slave to finally coming into her power. I love when characters in fantasy stories have a wonderful sense of realness to them. This author is not afraid to make his characters tragically flawed (which you see especially in Darien and Kale), but that just draws you more into their stories and how they flow together.

I really loved the magic system, with the Watchers and the Morphs. None of it was completely original, but it all flowed so well together. And the villain, Chancellor Cyrus Maro is chilling. A complete sociopath and incredibly power hungry. This story had great pacing overall. It never lulled and always kept me turning the pages to find out what would happen next. I read it in literally a day and a half, and was very glad to get to jump to the next book immediately. Speaking of which . . .

Book 2 (1)Title: THE RAGE OF SAINTS (The Shadow Watch #2)

Author: S.A. Klopfenstein

Pub. Date: March 26, 2019

Publisher: Guardian Grey Publishing

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 507

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon

Blurb: The Shadow Watch has been undone. Their captain lies in the dungeons of the White Citadel, and the Gallows Girl has disappeared. Most of the surviving Watchers have joined the chancellor’s new magical army, the Sky Guard, led by Darien Redvar, but the Gallows Boy is shaken from the return of the monsters of the Old World, and he must soon choose, once and for all, where his loyalties lie.

Tori and Mischa trek to the Great White North with an Alyut shaman, who believes Tori is the one who will bring Restoration to his people. A resistance is growing in the North, but Tori may not be the god the people are looking for, and the price of revolution may cost Tori her heart as well as her life.

Meanwhile, another threat grows in strength. Old World monsters are rising up across the New World, and no one knows how they’ve returned. As nations ready themselves for a magical war, their return threatens to change everything.

New alliances are set in place, new friendships are forged, new loves kindled. But no one is safe, for there can be no war without betrayal.

Review: This book picks up right where book one left off, and thank goodness! I needed to know what was going to happen! I love when second books in a series are just as good, if not better, than the first, and that was the case with this one. I love how the world was expanded even more. We get to see the Great White North, the Southern Isles, and more of Osha. The cultures are all beautiful and rich; it’s wonderful to see how the characters we got to know in the first book navigate these new terrains.

I also loved how this book spent some time with Mischa as a main character, since she was one of my favorites from book #1.

Things with Tori and Darien are also wonderfully complicated. Starting off as friends, becoming enemies, and now . . . who knows? So many questions still to be answered. Is there a third book coming out? I sure hope so!

I’m not going to give specifics, because I don’t want to spoil it, but this story twists and turns and surprised me several times. The entire final act is one big roller coaster ride and you never know who exactly to trust or who is double crossing who. It kept me guessing the entire time, which I love.

Overall, these are two wonderful books to kick off this series. S.A. Klopfenstein is a great new author keeping with the traditions of fantasy, while at the same time adding his own unique spin to the genre. His writing is sharp, expressive, and very exciting. I would highly recommend both of these books for any fantasy fan!

Meet the Author!

stephen-low-qS.A. Klopfenstein grew up on a steady dose of Tolkien and Star Wars. As a child, he wrote his first story about a sleepwalking killer who was executed by lethal injection.

He lives in the American West with his wife and their dog, Iorek Byrnison. He can be found exploring the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, or daring the halls of the middle school where he teaches Language Arts.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway Time!

Be sure to enter the giveaway, where one lucky winner will win copies of both THE SHADOW WATCH and THE RAGE OF SAINTS! You can enter through a Rafflecopter giveaway, just click on the link! Available to the U.S. only.

 

Check out the other stops on the tour!

Week One:

3/18/2019- Lone Tree Reviews– Excerpt

3/18/2019- Literary Gold– Spotlight

3/19/2019- Kelly P’s Blog– Excerpt

3/19/2019- TMBA Corbett Tries to Write– Interview

3/20/2019- Life With No Plot– Review

3/20/2019- The Hermit Librarian– Guest Post

3/21/2019- Adventures Thru Wonderland– Review

3/21/2019- Graced with Books– Interview

3/22/2019- Lauren is Reading– Review

3/22/2019- Defining Ways– Guest Post

Week Two:

3/25/2019- Sincerely Karen Jo– Excerpt

3/25/2019- BookHounds YA– Guest Post

3/26/2019- Colorimetry – Guest Post

3/26/2019- Two Chicks on Books– Interview

3/27/2019- Owl Always Be Reading– Excerpt

3/27/2019- Jaime’s World– Excerpt

3/28/2019- D. Books and Reviews– Review

3/28/2019- 4covert2overt ☼ A Place In The Spotlight ☼– Excerpt

3/29/2019- Abooktropolis– Review

3/29/2019- Lisa Loves Literature– Excerpt

Books I've Read

Book Review: Never-Contented Things by Sarah Porter

Never-Contented ThingsTitleNever-Contented Things

Author: Sarah Porter

Genre: Fantasy/YA

Series: none – standalone

Edition: ARC from NetGalley

Release Date: March 19, 2019

Blurb: Prince and his fairy courtiers are staggeringly beautiful, unrelentingly cruel, and exhausted by the tedium of the centuries ― until they meet foster-siblings Josh and Ksenia. Drawn in by their vivid emotions, undying love for each other, and passion for life, Prince will stop at nothing to possess them.

First seduced and then entrapped by the fairies, Josh and Ksenia learn that the fairies’ otherworldly gifts come at a terrible price ― and they must risk everything in order to reclaim their freedom.

Review: First off, I have to say – I love a good faerie story. Not like a fairy tale or children’s story (although I do like those too), but a real, dark, gritty story about the realm of the faerie and how twisted they can be. I was already expecting to like this book. Part of it reminded me of Tithe by Holly Black, and I think fans of that book would enjoy this one as well.

Plus look at how gruesomely beautiful that cover is!

The best part of Porter’s storytelling is how well she juggles the different voices of these characters. There are three point-of-view characters: Ksenia, Josh, and their friend Lexi, who is trying to help save them. Each time the point-of-view changes, the writing is decidedly different. Lexi is more practical, Josh is more irrational under the faerie’s spell, Ksenia is more conflicted. It was very well done and very well written.

I also like that this is a bit different. Ksenia and Josh get taken to the faerie realm, but in a different way than what I had seen before. Instead of crossing over a barrier and going to a different place, the fae world looks exactly the same, just . . . off. Different. Odd. It is a really creepy way to distort reality in this way, which is perfect for dealing with fae creatures. Porter has a very good way of describing things that is very poetic and beautiful, but also very unnerving. It all just works so well!

Speaking of, let’s talk about the fae. We don’t actually see them much, only a few brief times in the whole first half of the book, but their absence actually makes them a bit scarier. We know they are in charge of this strange new world, but we can’t see them. They are just there, watching. The other creatures that we see are fae creatures that are also . . . sort of part of Ksenia and Josh? Pieces of them that break away? Not to give anything away too much, but Ksenia especially has to face her own inner demons almost as much as she has to deal with the fae holding her captive, and the combining of those two things made the story even more compelling.

This isn’t for everyone, but if you like a creepy story about the fae and how they like to play with their chosen “pets,” you would probably really enjoy this.

GoodReads rating: 4 stars

 

Books I've Read

Book Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Heir of FireTitle: Heir of Fire

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Throne of Glass #3

Edition: e-book

Blurb: She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to no one.

Celaena Sardothien has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Now she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth…a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever.

Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. To defeat them, Celaena must find the strength to not only fight her inner demons but to battle the evil that is about to be unleashed.

The king’s assassin takes on an even greater destiny and burns brighter than ever before in this follow-up to the New York Timesbestselling Crown of Midnight.

Review: Obviously, there will be some spoilers here for prior books in the series. Read at your own risk.

This book is the one that made the whole world explode. Wow.

In the first two books, we just had the group in Rifthold, dealing with Celeana and her survival. Now, Celeana is in another kingdom, Wendlyn, learning how to use her true powers in her true form, Chaol is back in Rifthold maybe helping start a rebellion, and a new group of players joins the game – clans of Ironteeth witches who are learning to ride wyverns to aid the evil King of Adarlan in his conquests.

I love how this story world is growing and becoming richer. There is also a lot of great character development here. Celeana is being challenged by one of the Fae, Rowan, who has been tasked to help train her. She is her usual stubborn self, but is finally able to break through that and embrace who she is. She has a lot to work through, mostly the overwhelming guilt from the deaths of her family and friends, but knows that the only way to avenge them and make things right is to face the truth and stop hiding.

Where there was a bit of a love triangle, there is now a . . . pentagon? The triangle was between Celeana, Dorian and Chaol, but now there is Rowan (who may not be a love interest yet, but is definitely devoted to her) and Aedion (her cousin she grew up with who seems to maybe love her more than that?? I might be reading more into that). Dorian might be out of the loop for this one, but still, all the relationships are complex and varied and I love that. There are no practically perfect people in these books. They are all deeply flawed and that makes them feel even more real to me.

I am really enjoying the set up of the Wyrdkeys and how the King of Adarlan has supressed magic for so long. It should be really interesting to see how this is going to come to a head, especially since Celeana isn’t interested in hiding anymore. Go get him, girl! Make him pay for the atrocities he’s committed!

This series keeps getting better, and I am loving it!

GoodReads rating: 4 stars

Books I've Read

Re-Review: Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Kushiel's DartTitle: Kushiel’s Dart

Author: Jacqueline Carey

Genre: Fantasy/Romance

Series: Phedré’s Trilogy #1

Edition: Paperback

Original Review: February 20, 2012

Blurb: The land of Terre d’Ange is a place of unsurpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good…and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

Phèdre nó Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. Sold into indentured servitude as a child, her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with very a special mission…and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel’s Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one.

Phèdre is trained equally in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber, but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Almost as talented a spy as she is courtesan, Phèdre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very foundations of her homeland. Treachery sets her on her path; love and honor goad her further. And in the doing, it will take her to the edge of despair…and beyond. Hateful friend, loving enemy, beloved assassin; they can all wear the same glittering mask in this world, and Phèdre will get but one chance to save all that she holds dear.

Set in a world of cunning poets, deadly courtiers, heroic traitors, and a truly Machiavellian villainess, this is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies. Not since Dune has there been an epic on the scale of Kushiel’s Dart – a massive tale about the violent death of an old age, and the birth of a new.

Review: I’m going to start doing this more when I re-read a book, especially if it has been a while. I usually try to read new-to-me books so I have a good amount of review fodder, but that stops me from re-reading some favorites. Plus, it’s interesting to see how my thoughts about the book have changed.

I will say that I enjoyed the book a lot more this time around, probably because I knew what I was getting into from the beginning. Jacqueline Carey has a beautiful, flowing, poetic writing style that fits epic fantasy perfectly, but it can feel a bit dragging in places. This book is 900 pages long. That’s a lot. It’s a commitment for sure. This time around, I knew that and prepared myself to the long haul. When you do that, the writing is very enjoyable. Plus, now that I know where the story is going, I can appreciate the way the beginning (which I had originally said was hard for me to get into) really sets up these characters and the intrigue that binds them all together. This book is beautiful, though. It makes you want to visit the City of Eula, to roam the Court of Night Flowers.

I still stand by my statement that this book is not for everyone. It crosses the line into erotica many times, so if you are at all uncomfortable reading sex scenes, you may want to sit this one out. Some of them are graphic and a bit brutal too, given Phedré’s . . . abilities? Gifts? However you want to put it. They do not make up the bulk of the book, so you can skim them if you need to, but Phedré also uses these . . . visits to learn things about her clients. She is very much a spy for her master. So if you skim the sex scenes there is a chance you might miss something important that will come up later in the story.

When I read this the first time, I bought book 2, Kushiel’s Chosen, but never got around to reading it. It’s a bit shorter than book 1, but still a pretty good sized book. As I’ve said in my WWW posts, I am reading it right now. It’s on my list of series to try and finish this year, and since these are big books, I figured it was best to get started on them early!

GoodReads rating: 4 Stars