Book Review: Blood and Ember

review-blood and emberTitle: Blood and Ember [Stormbringer 3]

Author: Isabel Cooper

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

A century ago, the Traitor God’s fury left the world broken by violent storms and twisted monsters born of darkness and death. Now those storms are sweeping across the continent again and it will take everything the armies of man can muster to survive. As a sworn knight, Olvir is prepared to do his part–even if that means journeying deep into the magic-tainted Battlefield to face the enemy alone.

Sentinel Vivian Bathari has lost too much to allow her closest friend to make such a sacrifice alone. Besides, there are whispers that Olvir’s strange new powers are somehow connected to the Traitor God, and she’d rather be by his side should the worst occur. But as they travel deep into the heart of danger, their growing attraction burns into mutual desire, and the true depth of Olvir’s connection to the evil haunting their world is made clear. In the end, Vivian will have to decide what she’s willing to sacrifice to save their world…and the man she loves.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I gave Blood and Ember 1 Star, not because it’s an awful book, but because I couldn’t finish it. I hadn’t read the previous books in the series, so I can’t attest to whether that would have made this book easier to read or not, but I suspect it might have in some sense.

So, let’s talk about what I liked. The writing was clean and well-edited. The lore and worldbuilding were rich and complex, and I think the author did a spectacular job of creating a vivid atmosphere with which to submerge the plot. If you’re a fan of high fantasy in any sense, you’ll probably love this aspect of the story, and though high-fantasy isn’t my favorite, I could at least appreciate the craft that went into this story because of these things.

So where did it fail? The narrative and its characters lacked soul. The characters didn’t engage me or even seem different from one another. I had no sense of who they were as people, and it made it very hard to get sucked into the story – because I love character-driven stories… and that isn’t what this was. I only got to about chapter 8 before I set the book aside, and I can’t imagine how the romance in this book will even develop given how the characters were written.

I think this is one of those stories that would excel if put to screen – where the visual aspects push the story forward…. But I didn’t enjoy how it was written. It didn’t help that the author kept head-hopping between what I can only assume were the two main characters (they didn’t stick out, so I can’t be sure). It felt as if the characters were there only as a vehicle to the plot, rather than a part of it.

Although this book wasn’t for me, I don’t think it was a bad book – simply not what I was looking for. If you like high fantasy with complicated world-building, I think you’d enjoy this book, regardless of how I felt about it.

Free Fiction Friday #245

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday! For those of you who are new to this blog, or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays—every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre, and on sale for less than $5.

I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum—so you can have a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: Science Fiction & Fantasy!

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Free Fiction Friday #241

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday! For those of you who are new to this blog, or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays—every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre, and on sale for less than $5.

I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum—so you can have a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: Young Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy!

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THE BARGAINS

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Book Review: The Forgotten Book

reviewcover-the forgotten bookTitle: The Forgotten Book

Author: Mecthild Glaser

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

Emma is used to things going her way. Her father is headmaster of her prestigious boarding school, her friends take her advice as gospel, and she’s convinced that a relationship with her long-time crush is on the horizon.

As it turns out, Emma hasn’t seen anything yet. When she finds an old book in an abandoned library, things really start going Emma’s way: anything she writes in the book comes true.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’ll be honest, I was incredibly disappointed with this book. I read a lot of YA books even as an adult, so I can say with some confidence that most YA books, despite being written for a younger audience, are still great reads, even for those of us that are outside of the YA demographic. Heck, I often even read Juvenile fiction that are still great reads – but this one?

Insert exasperated sigh here.

The writing style of this book was incredibly juvenile – not in the way that it was written for a juvenile audience (though by definition, it was), but the writing itself was juvenile. There was a decided lack of atmosphere to it and a lot of telling and redundancy. The narrative lacked flow and didn’t pull me into the story. The dialogue in particular was cringe-worthy, especially for the adults in the book. It felt like I was reading something written by a pre-teen. I’ve had this book sitting on my bookshelf for 2 years, and I’ve tried to get past the first chapter on three separate occasions, and I just can’t – it’s that bad. I’ve never made it past page 17.

Look, I’m not going to say the book is categorically terrible, because it wasn’t intended for an older audience, and for a younger reader, it could be a good read – I am sure there are those out there that would enjoy this book immensely…but if you are an adult that likes to dabble in YA books, maybe pass this one up. There are other authors out there that do a fantastic job of writing solid books that any age can enjoy… this just isn’t one of them.

Book Review: Daughter of Lies & Ruin

reviewcover-daughter of lies and ruinTitle: Daughter of Lies & Ruin [Tales of the Blackbone Witches 2]

Author: Jo Spurrier

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Rating: 5 Stars

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Synopsis/Description:

There’s something strange brewing in this tinder-dry forest – a girl with a sword and a secret, a troupe of vicious bandits vanished without a trace, beasts that don’t belong and a witch with a macabre plan.

Elodie hasn’t been learning witchcraft for long, but she knows enough to be worried, and the fact that her mentor Aleida wants to pack up and leave in short order isn’t helping to settle her nerves.

Elodie just hopes to get everyone out of this mess unharmed, but it’s looking more unlikely with every passing hour. And when the strange witch’s ire falls on her, Aleida’s wrath sparks a fire that threatens to scorch the earth itself …

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I love this series, and this book so much. I can’t tell you how excited I was to pick up the second book in the Tales of the Blackbone Witches series, especially so close to reading the first one, and it certainly did not disappoint. Like the first book in the series, Daughter of Lies & Ruin was extremely well-written, filled with colorful characters, magical hijinks, and amazing world-building.

Elodie and Aleida create such an interesting dynamic between them – the somewhat cold, more experienced witch, and the meek scullery maid with more heart than common sense. They make a strange contrast to one another that works well, and balance each other out.

If you liked the first book in the series, or are a fan of YA Fantasy in general, you’re going to like this book – it’s a really solid series that is beautifully written. Personally, I can’t wait to read more and see where Elodie’s powers lead her. I feel there are some magnificent magical battles on the horizon for her and Aleida, and I’m excited to see this series continue.

Free Fiction Friday #237

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday! For those of you who are new to this blog, or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays—every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre, and on sale for less than $5.

I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum—so you can have a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: Science Fiction & Fantasy!

THE FREE

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Free Fiction Friday #233

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday! For those of you who are new to this blog, or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays—every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre, and on sale for less than $5.

I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum—so you can have a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: Young Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy!

THE FREE

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THE BARGAINS

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Book Review: The Infinity Courts

reviewcover-theinfinitycourtsTitle: The Infinity Courts [The Infinity Courts 1]

Author: Akemi Dawn Bowman

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her—including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years.

The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there.

When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all.

As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I adored The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman. The worldbuilding and characters had depth, and the writing itself was clear and flowed effortlessly. The romance and tension between Nami, Gil, and Caelan was magnificent – my soul hurts at having the story end.

Speaking of the end… I loved every minute of this book until the last page. The last page? Lame and sort of cheesy. I honestly wish the book would have ended in the palace – and if you haven’t finished the book yet, trust me… put it down there.

I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. I still have a small tortured hope in my heart that Nami and a certain Prince will find a happily ever after. If you like YA Fantasy, I would highly recommend this book. It’s one of the best ones I’ve read so far this year.

Free Fiction Friday #229

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday! For those of you who are new to this blog, or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays—every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre, and on sale for less than $5.

I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum—so you can have a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: Science Fiction & Fantasy!

THE FREE

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THE BARGAINS

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Book Review: A Dragonbird in the Fern

review-cover-a dragonbird in the fernTitle: A Dragonbird in the Fern

Author: Laura Rueckert

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

When an assassin kills Princess Jiara’s older sister Scilla, her vengeful ghost is doomed to walk their city of glittering canals, tormenting loved ones until the murderer is brought to justice. While the entire kingdom mourns, Scilla’s betrothed arrives and requests that seventeen-year-old Jiara take her sister’s place as his bride to confirm the alliance between their countries.

Marrying the young king intended for her sister and traveling to his distant home is distressing enough, but with dyslexia and years of scholarly struggles, Jiara abandoned any hope of learning other languages long ago. She’s terrified of life in a foreign land where she’ll be unable to communicate.

Then Jiara discovers evidence that her sister’s assassin comes from the king’s own country. If she marries the king, Jiara can hunt the murderer and release her family from Scilla’s ghost, whose thirst for blood mounts every day. To save her family, Jiara must find her sister’s killer . . . before he murders her too.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I adored A Dragonbird in the Fern by Laura Rueckert, though I’ll admit, I had some misgivings from the cover. The cryptic title and the cover of the book did little to persuade me to read the book – it didn’t look like any of the books I normally read, but the synopsis was intriguing, so when I picked up this book, I wasn’t quite sure what I was about to be getting myself into. I couldn’t have been more surprised or thrilled to discover this little gem of YA Fantasy.

Not only was the book exceedingly well written, but I fell in love with the characters and the rich worldbuilding. The contrast between the countries and the lore of their people was fascinating and just familiar enough in some ways to make it easy to digest. I liked that the main character was a fallible younger princess with dyslexia that gets thrust into a new role in life she neither expected nor wanted, but she still tried her best, despite how difficult things often were for her.

The story contains a lot of intrigues, ghosts, mystery, awkward political hazards, magic, mythology, romance, and personal struggle, and I think it’d be a great read for anyone who enjoys fantasy or the YA genres. I know I’ll certainly be looking forward to more from this author.