Book Review: Smoke Bitten by Patricia Briggs

Smoke Bitten (Mercy Thompson, #12)

Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: March 17th 2020 by Ace

 

I LOVE this series! To the point that I requested an ARC from the publisher and was granted an eARC.  I read this back at the end of January because I couldn’t wait but can only now share my review with you.  Big thanks to Ace for sending me an early copy! Which didn’t affect my honest review because, like I said, I already love this series.

This book starts off with a heavy dose of tension between Adam and Mercy.  A bit of leftover from the harrowing events of the last book.  Patricia has always been fabulous at conveying emotion through her writing, which really helps the reader feel fully immersed and committed to the characters.

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ARC Review: The Dragon Egg Princess by Ellen Oh

The Dragon Egg Princess

Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by HarperCollins

I’m very happy with the number of March releases that I’ve managed to read and review so far!  Especially since so many released on March 3rd.  This one is a middle grade fantasy (possibly standalone) that I requested from HarperCollins.

This was a quick read that held my interest all the way to the end.  It’s a wonderful middle grade read that I think the target audience will love.  Adults reading this one might find that it does more telling than showing, especially where complex emotions are involved.

I found it fun that this book also had a firebird take part in the narrative-although briefly.  Seems like a theme.  And I love it!  I also enjoyed the emphasis on friend and family relationships.  And the idea that someone might make bad decisions followed by good ones doesn’t make them good or evil.  Just human.

I think this might be a planned standalone, and it works like one.  But, if the author did write another book in this world or with these characters, I would certainly read it.

Summary:

In a kingdom filled with magic, Jiho Park and his family are an anomaly—magic doesn’t affect them.

Jiho comes from a long line of forest rangers who protect the Kidahara—an ancient and mysterious wood that is home to powerful supernatural creatures. But Jiho wants nothing to do with the dangerous forest.

Five years ago, his father walked into the Kidahara and disappeared. Just like the young Princess Koko, the only daughter of the kingdom’s royal family. Jiho knows better than anyone else the horrors that live deep in the magical forest and how those who go in never come back.

Now the forest is in danger from foreign forces that want to destroy it, and a long-forgotten evil that’s been lurking deep in the Kidahara for centuries finally begins to awaken. Can a magic-less boy, a fierce bandit leader, and a lost princess join forces and save their worlds before it’s too late?

Book Review: Raven’s Flight by Marie Robinson

Raven's Flight: The Raven and Crown

Kindle Edition, 410 pages
Published March 1st 2020 by The Lion and Raven Press, LLC

After seeing the cover reveal for this books, I jumped at the chance to read an e-arc from the author’s newsletter sign-up.  And although I’m a bit behind in my reading, I want to share my initial thoughts on this one now since I did agree to review it by March 8, and it is already March 9!!

Our main character is an assassin, and although there are a LOT of assassin books out there right now, I am loving how the author made her MC stand out from the crowd.  Plus, one of our other POV focuses on a queen who seized power for herself after the king (her husband) was found dead.  Probably murdered.  And she didn’t want to just be regent to her very young son.

So we get the internal monologue of a female assassin who kills people to stay alive and take care of her grandmother and the political intrigue of a court unwilling to allow a queen rule the kingdom on her own without a lot of interference from the council, which is made of both men and women.

The magic system is also fascinating as it seems to focus on leylines and the magical energy inherit in all life.  And it plays an interesting role in the life of our MC assassin.

The pacing seems well done, and I find myself compelled to read it!  I’m anticipating giving this one five stars when I do finish, which should be in the next couple of days!

Summary:

The price of freedom is paid with blood, trust, and the heart. When a queen’s hope rests on the edge of a blade, can a woman with deadly aim and a man with devastating magic unite a kingdom on the brink of civil war?

Conscripted from prison into the Crows, Asgarath’s most elite assassins, Kiera Pendry lives in the shadow of the palace. She’s as much a weapon as the wicked blades she carries, but feels the heavy weight of every life she takes. Trusting the wrong person had turned her into a killer—and she would never make that mistake again.

Now the man who abandoned her is back with a job that could buy her freedom at last. Dorian is a Seider, someone who commands magic, and his service is sworn to Queen Margaret. Dorian needs Kiera’s skills to keep him alive while he retrieves the legendary obsidian blade. To succeed, they must trust each other. And, when long buried feelings return, the cost of Kiera’s freedom may prove higher than she could ever imagine.

Kiera must reconcile with her enemy if they want to find the ancient blade to unite the kingdom. But as powerful forces close in and dangerous alliances are made, the two discover why some secrets should stay in the past.

Raven’s Flight introduces a new fantasy world perfect for those who enjoy intrigue, dangerous relic quests, enemies to lovers, and magic. Readers who enjoy the Grishaverse series by Leigh Bardugo, Provost’s Dog series by Tamora Pierce, and the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas will want to dive into this new world filled with fantasy, adventure, and romance. Raven’s Flight is a new adult fantasy.

Book Review: Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco

Wicked As You Wish (A Hundred Names for Magic, #1)

Hardcover, 432 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by Sourcebooks Fire

This was fun!  Had a few things that personally didn’t work for me, but that won’t stop me from recommending this to all of you and my friends 🙂  And hoping for book two to release soon!

First, let me say that I contacted the publisher about reading and reviewing this book, and they kindly sent me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.  Thanks, Sourcebooks Fire!!

Here are the things I liked a lot:

  • There’s a phoenix, one of my favorite mythological creatures!
  • Snow Queen as a villain that is maybe misunderstood
  • Interesting magic systems, yes there are more than one
  • Learning about a new-to-me culture that doesn’t seem to be used in YA fantasy very often
  • The off-hand comments about fairy tale characters and their roles in this alternate world
  • An alternate timeline/history/world that looks like ours but incorporates fairy tale characters and realms
  • Tackles some of the issues and concerns facing the world right now in real life
  • Chapter titles are amazing!

Here are the things that didn’t really work for me:

  • So many characters to follow and remember
  • The off-hand comments about fairy tale characters and their roles in this alternate world (yep, this one is on here twice as sometimes it worked and sometimes it was too much)
  • I did not like Alex – but now I’m not sure we’re meant to?
  • I’m still not sure how agimat works

So I have some conflicting feelings on this one, but it’s definitely more good points than bad.  [And I keep adding good points, so those outweigh the others.]  Plus, the cliffhanger epilogue was bonkers, and I can’t wait to read the next book!  I guess what I’m saying is: GO READ IT!  And see for yourself 🙂

Summary:

Many years ago, the magical Kingdom of Avalon was left desolate and encased in ice when the evil Snow Queen waged war on the powerful country. Its former citizens are now refugees in a world mostly devoid of magic. Which is why the crown prince and his protectors are stuck in…Arizona.
Prince Alexei, the sole survivor of the Avalon royal family, is in hiding in a town so boring, magic doesn’t even work there. Few know his secret identity, but his friend Tala is one of them. Tala doesn’t mind—she has secrets of her own. Namely, that she’s a spellbreaker, someone who negates magic.
Then hope for their abandoned homeland reignites when a famous creature of legend, and Avalon’s most powerful weapon, the Firebird, appears for the first time in decades. Alex and Tala unite with a ragtag group of new friends to journey back to Avalon for a showdown that will change the world as they know it.

Waiting on Wednesday: Fae World by Eve A. Hunt

Fae World (Yew Queen, #2)

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: March 2nd 2020

I received an earc as part of the ARC team and hunted typos for the author in exchange for an honest review.

As you may remember, I reviewed book one late last year and enjoyed it very much. I think that anyone looking for more of this story will be incredibly happy with this second installment. Fae World picks up right where we left off, which allows us to learn more about the fae and mages. Be ready for some steamy scenes that are NSFW if you’re trying to read it on your work computer (during breaks, of course!).

I liked the way in which the author was able to convey character growth while adding new characters to the narrative. It didn’t feel cluttered at all. We also get a fun competition aspect in the form of a medieval tournament. And a dark unicorn!! I hope he comes back in the third book because he’s probably my favorite side character right now.

It’s a good thing that book three is slated for a May release (I believe) because even though we answer many of my questions, a whole new area has caught my curiosity and I’m ready for more!

Summary:

I always thought if I had magical powers, life would be cake.
Wrong.

My fated mate is the enemy of my kind, I have days to figure out how to keep him from literally going up in smoke, and at any moment one of my magic’s surges will shock my heart and strike me down.

If I don’t learn how to control my mage abilities pronto, I’m dead. I thought that portalling to hang with other mages would solve things, and I’d find some rad crone-like chick to help me train all epic style. But it seems I’ve landed myself, my best friend, and my doomed fated mate in a hidden kingdom where my kind are enslaved for eternity. Not awesome.

This is not the training I was hoping for. And with every day we’re away from the cursed castle, Lucus and his brothers weaken further. If I don’t get us the heck out of this super creepy Scottish fae kingdom, all of us—the 16th century guys and us modern gals—are history.

Grab the second book in the Yew Queen series today for a steamy read that’s perfect for fans of CN Crawford, Linsey Hall, and Laura Thalassa! 

If you like vampires, fae, fated mates, enemies to lovers, shifters, werewolves, and more, you’ll love this series.

Audiobook Review: Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

Upright Women Wanted

Hardcover, 176 pages
Published February 4th 2020 by Tor.com

I wanted to like this one so much more than I did.  I loved the concept of queer librarians.  The story was well told and the characters were fun.  But I was reminded of a very important fact.  I don’t like Westerns.  Like at all.  I can count on one hand the number of Westerns (mostly movies with other genres mixed in) that I have enjoyed.

My bad.

This is no fault of the author, who did make this particular Western enjoyable.  And I will be highly recommending this book to friends who either like Westerns or don’t have a genre preference.  So you should definitely pick up this book!  Most especially if you like plucky girls trying to embrace themselves when outside voices try to drown their inner self in their narrow-minded views.

Another quick note.  I received an audio version of this book through Libro.fm’s ALC program.  (Thank you very much!)  The narrator did a great job with various voices and making sure to add gravitas to essential parts of the story.  So if you’d prefer to go the audio route, it’s a good choice and a quick read 🙂

Summary:

In Upright Women Wanted, award-winning author Sarah Gailey reinvents the pulp Western with an explicitly antifascist, near-future story of queer identity.

“That girl’s got more wrong notions than a barn owl’s got mean looks.”

Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her–a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda.

The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.

Book Review: Belle Revolte by Linsey Miller

Belle Révolte

Hardcover, 384 pages
Published February 4th 2020 by Sourcebooks Fire

When a publicist from Sourcebooks Fire approached me to read and review Linsey Miller’s newest book (on account of my working with them for her debut blog tour), I was hesitant at first to accept.  I am wary of books that focus on or feature heavily wars and revolutions as that is not the type of reading I enjoy.  However, I was intrigued by the Prince and the Pauper twist and the magic system described in the synopsis, so I agreed.

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Partial Book Review: Nils: The Tree of Life by Jerome Hamon

Nils: The Tree of Life

Hardcover, 184 pages
Expected publication: February 11th 2020 by Magnetic Press

I enjoyed this graphic novel but think I need to read it again with a physical copy. I gave up about half way through this digital download due to being unable to read the small text while also enjoying the two-page spreads that are included and occasionally very important to the visual storytelling. I am looking forward to reading this one in its entirety as I liked the art and color choices. It seems to be based on Norse mythology, and I have just enough knowledge to follow those references.

I like the introduction of technology and how that affects the land. The author put a lot of thought into carefully crafting characters who care and who make me care about them. This should already be on your list to read! What are you waiting for?  I’m also interested in seeing what other titles this publisher has.

Summary:

A dystopic Nordic fantasy world, where spirits of light are the key to life, but seemingly have abandoned the world. Young Nils and his father set out to discover why the ground has grown infertile, heading north where the drought seems worse to find the cause. Far along the way, they find signs of fresh and vibrant life, caretaken by these little light spirits. But before they know it, a large metal creature arrives and attacks the creatures, apparently hunting and gathering them. From out of the woods, a woman attacks the creature, bringing it to its knees… apparently the plant was bait for the spirits, which in turn were bait for the metal creature, which serves the high-tech Cyan Nation.

This huntress, named Alba, takes Nils and his father into their tribe, where the battle between the shamanistic people and the Cyan Nation is paramount, a battle over the protection vs exploitation of the light spirits power… Meanwhile, three goddesses watch these events, lamenting the fact that man had abandoned all belief in their power long ago. They watch but do not intervene, despite the fact that the spirits are being harvested en masse by the Cyan Nation, wreaking ruin on the world outside their city. Realizing that this conflict will in one way or another change the very fabric of this world, they slowly begin to intervene…

As they continue their travels, Nils has a dream (seeded by one of the goddesses) about the World Tree, Yggdrasil, which is being consumed by a metal plague. He knows he must now find and save the tree, and in the process, save the world. But the high council of the Cyan Nation would have otherwise… Having been separated in their quest, Nils’s father finds himself a guest of the Cyan Prince, where he learns that they do indeed understand the power of the spirits, which they call Ethernum, serving as the power source for their technological advancement.

High fantasy adventure combining science-fiction with pseudo-spiritual magic, posing dramatic examinations of man vs nature, life vs death, fact vs faith, and man’s desire to play god.