Review + Giveaway: Feast of Fates

Welcome to my tour stop for Feast of Fates by Christian A. Brown. This is a new adult epic dark fantasy. The tour runs January 11-22 with reviews only. Books are available in ebook formats worldwide for reviewers.

Title: Feast of Fates
Author: Christian A. Brown
Publisher: Forsythia Press
Release Date: December 2014
Length: 523 pages
Series?: Four Feasts Till Darkness #1
Genre: Epic Dark Fantasy

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Morigan lives a quiet life as the handmaiden to a fatherly old sorcerer named Thackery. But when she crosses paths with Caenith, a not wholly mortal man, her world changes forever. Their meeting sparks long buried magical powers deep within Morigan. As she attempts to understand her newfound abilities, unbidden visions begin to plague her–visions that show a devastating madness descending on one of the Immortal Kings who rules the land.
With Morigan growing more powerful each day, the leaders of the realm soon realize that this young woman could hold the key to their destruction. Suddenly, Morigan finds herself beset by enemies, and she must master her mysterious gifts if she is to survive.

***** Review *****

The Skinny

There are a tremendous number of characters in this book, perhaps the most characters of all the books I have read. This is an epic fantasy that follows Morigan, a handmaiden. One day while searching for a particular shop owner, she meets her soulmate. Caenith is not quiet the man most would think. He is only half man, and his other half allows him magical powers that have allowed him to live for centuries.

While two immortal kings – brothers, no less – are at odds due to an unknown evil force that has taken hold. The two worlds they inhabit and lead, Eod and Zioch, are on the precipice of a brutal war.

In Menos, the character Mouse is drawn into the fates and prophecies when she is deemed to have very clear destiny. She is saved by the one man who could ruin her.

The Quote

As she went, she basked in the beauty of Alabion; her eyes drawn to dewy leaves glittering as if scattered with diamonds, her ears to the music that echoed through the pines, her nose to the earthy pungency of the mulch beneath her toes.

The Highs and Lows

This is most definitely an adult book. It contains very mature content. This book might contain triggers for some people. 

  • List of Characters. There were PAGES upon PAGES of characters with short and lengthy descriptions. It was daunting. I felt I was already losing ground with the plot before I ever got to page one.
  • Prologue. The prologue was confusing to read. I didn’t see right away how it connected to the first chapter. I had to read several chapters before it started sinking in and I could see some of the connections.
  • The writing. From the very beginning there is a beautiful style of prose that is so sensory and profound. It is elegant and smooth, free-flowing. I found myself highlighting so many quotations to potentially use in my review to illustrate the artistry of the craft.
  • Morigan. She is an ethereal being with marked looks. It is what craws Caenith to her. However, she soon finds herself suffering from “the bees” as she calls them, that are relentless in inundating her mind with everything happening in the city.
  • Caenith. He has a heartbreaking story, and he is more than a man. He has lived far longer than humans. I found him so interesting.
  • Plot. The plot is very intricate and complex. Combined with the beauty of Brown’s writing style

The Take-Away

The writing. It is long and eloquent and poised. Although it slows down the plot at times because you just want to get on with it and see what will happen, I couldn’t help but admire the writing style.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

If you’re a die-hard epic fantasy fan, definitely buy this one. If you are interested, I’d recommend borrowing.

 

***** About the Author *****

Bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Feast of Fates, Christian A. Brown received a Kirkus star in 2014 for the first novel in his genre-changing Four Feasts Till Darkness series. He has appeared on Newstalk 1010, AM640, Daytime Rogers, and Get Bold Today with LeGrande Green. He actively writes a blog about his mother’s journey with cancer and on gender issues in the media. A lover of the weird and wonderful, Brown considers himself an eccentric with a talent for cat-whispering.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

***** Giveaway *****

$50 Amazon gift card
Three (3) additional winners get a digital copy of Feast of Fates
Open Worldwide
Ends Jan. 27, 2016
Prizing is provided by the author, hosts are not responsible. Must be 13 or older to enter and have parental permission if under 17. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary to win.

Click here to enter the giveaway!

This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

Review + Giveaway: The Sound of the Stones

Stones Banner Large 2

Title: The Sound of the Stones
Author: Beth Hammond
Publisher: eLectio Publishing
Release Date: September 2015
Length: 286 pages
Series?: no
Genre: YA, Fantasy

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

The ancient book about the past holds the future. Frankie is the key.

She doesn’t remember stopping at the used bookstore, but there she stands as if drawn by an unseen force. Anticipation wraps around her like a cocoon. When she opens the door, the wind nudges her through, and expectancy turns to purpose. The man inside, and the book he offers, changes everything. Unusual things happen when she begins to read:

In a time long forgotten, people are held captive by half human creatures. Ashra holds a secret close to her heart, and must discover the purpose of her gift before the oppressed human race is destroyed. An unlikely ally comes to her aid. Strangers bring her a message from a far off land. Ashra and her band of misfits set off in search of answers. Together, they find love, uncover mysteries from the past, face ever present danger, and hone powers they never knew they had.

Frankie and Ashra are separated by millennia, by fiction and reality, but in the end the barrier shatters.

***Honorable Mention at The Great Midwest Book Festival***

 

***** Review *****

Stones 3DThe Skinny

Frankie is a little lost in her living situation, and when the opportunity to help in her favorite book store pops up, she is all hands to help. Little does she know that one very old book will capture her attention like no other…

 

In a world long ago, a group of half-humans rule. It is a poor life for most. Ashra knows she has a special gift, but must keep it secret…while trying to uncover how to use it before the human race is extinct. The most unlikely of allies attaches to Ashra; strange people bring an important message; and Ashra soon finds herself surrounded by a band of misfits searching for the answer to the well-known story they all know so well.

 

The Players

There are a lot of characters. A lot. These are the most important ones to the plot, and I have a feeling some of the lesser characters will appear in a sequel if there is to be one.

  • Frankie Sheba – a quiet, shy girl who enjoys books
  • Ashra – a human girl with a special gift of listening to the land; she also knows how to erase memories from humans’ modicums
  • Haker – the oldest member of Ashra’s team
  • Krank – a Giant with a bad reputation who has a liking for Ashra; part of the Krad race
  • Bazine – a Nonsomni plagued by dreams of a girl in danger
  • Ratha – Bazine’s human mother who was taken in by the Nonsomni
  • Abrack – the Nonsomni who fills in as Bazine’s father
  • Shemma – the Krad ruler, worried about his future
  • Perditus – a Krad who is Fleuric’s chosen son; he is different than most Krad and seems conflicted
  • Fleuric – creator and father of Krad who has an interest in Perditus
  • Smirah – a servant woman selected by Perditus to be his personal assistant; she also is responsible for Ashra under Perditus’s care
  • Blithe – once had a secret forbidden love for a human that is linked to Perditus
  • Rucain – in charge of a mission to Krad City, has white-blond hair
  • Akira – recently turned 13, also has white-blond hair; wants the approval of her older brother and must go with him on the mission to Krad City

The Quote

The smell of old books and stale coffee brought images to mind of another time in her life, a simpler time when books could carry her away to worlds where she felt a sense of belonging. Life seemed more complicated now.

No, you’re weird and you make me flap my arms too much didn’t sound like something he could say and still remain cordial.

The Highs and Lows

  • + Frankie. She is one cool kid, living in the system. Her family is okay…at least her dad is. Her mother can stick it. I’d want to spend all my time at the bookstore too, with a mother like that.
  • + Dystopian theme. This reminded me quite a bit of the dystopian set-up in the Uglies series. At birth, each human has a modicum placed in their brains. There are also Death Bowls, like the the Roman tradition of gladiators. However, the Death Bowls are very Hunger Games-ish because they are mandatory to attend.

More humans were born every day, and every day those modicums were placed into the hippocampus of fresh, tiny human minds. Brain waves were recorded, and Krad Sensitives intercepted the waves embedded in the crystal. The Krad monitored thoughts, fears and desires. This was how the human race was suppressed, controlled and held captive.

  • + Variety of creatures. There are the Glasne, the Krad Sensitives, the Krad Gravity Benders, Giants, the Nonsomni and humans.
    • The Nonsomni haven’t seen humans in centuries (except for one). They are a peaceful people who live in the height of the mountains and are protected from danger. They also do not dream, and cannot be invaded by the Glasne.
    • Krad live on the oppression of the humans. They share both the blood of humans and Glasne. All Krad are male.
    • Glasne live in the second universe and can reach the first universe through dreams and other mind manipulation. Krad are large by human standards, but Glasne are close to eight feet. They are superior to humans and Krad.
  • – Dream manipulation. This is how the Glasne reproduce. They invade the minds of human women in the first universe and “force them to bear children.” The women die after childbirth. NOT COOL. 
  • + The Prophecy. It turns out that across all the races that exist in these world, there are various stories of creationism that exist. They all have common cores, and the most important element is that they all indicate a prophecy to come. The fulfillment of this prophecy will set the humans free and cast the Glasne into a worser fate.
  • + Ashra. She is a phenomenal character who is kind even when she could easily not be. She attracts others to her like a beacon of light. This of course is a good and a bad thing for her, and it is the driving force behind the plot…along with a couple other things. 🙂
  • + Akira. She has her own special story among her people, that began the day of her birth. The crystals tell all in their worlds.
  • + The plot. The plot is extremely convoluted, between worlds and multiple stories of creation and various types of creatures, and the sheer number of characters.
  • – Character growth. This is something I always like to see in a character, and due to the number of characters and the highly plot-driven aspect of the book, there was not time for breathers or glimmers of growth and dynamics of the characters.

The Take-Away

I liked how all of these seemingly separate pieces end up coming together in the end of the book. As the plot and pacing progressed, I could see these pieces fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle. I felt I had a better understanding of the book since I could envision this, and it lead up to a fantastic ending that I should have seen coming because the little clues here and there were all there for me to see, I just overlooked them.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

I’m not sure if this is the beginning of a new series or not. If it is, I suggest buying. If it’s not, I suggest borrowing. Either way, it is an interesting story!

***** About the Author *****

Beth Hammond, is an author/illustrator who writes anything from YA fantasy to children’s picture books. She is a wife, mother, and lover of life. Her early years were spent serving in the military. Her middle years spent raising babies and figuring out her place in the world. She created stories for her book loving children and recently released “Do Your Toes Stink Good?”, “The Blond Korean and the Blue-Eyed frog”, and “Puppy Waits”. Her YA fantasy novel “The Sound Of The Stones” is newly released and available now. Her later years are yet to come, and filled with hopes and endless dreams. She spends her days creating worlds through words and illustration.

 

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

***** Giveaway *****

Ten (10) $5 Amazon Giftcards. Ends 1/22.

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Review + Giveaway: The Soul Summoner

Welcome to my tour stop for The Soul Summoner by Elicia Hyder. This is an adult contemporary fantasy (rated PG13). The tour runs November 9-20 with reviews, interviews, guest posts and excerpts. Check out the rest of the tour schedule here.

Title: The Soul Summoner
Author: Elicia Hyder
Publisher: Forge Creek Press
Release Date: November 2015
Length: 290 pages
Series?: The Soul Summoner Series Book #1
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Blessed–or cursed–with a connection to the souls of others, Sloan Jordan can see the best in people… and the worst. For twenty-seven years, she’s kept her ability to judge the innocent from the wicked a secret, but eleven young women have been murdered in the mountains of North Carolina, and Sloan may be the only hope of finding their killer.

She has just agreed to help Detective Nathan McNamara with the case, when a stranger–who is as alluring as he is terrifying–shows up at her doorstep with a dark past and another puzzling mystery: she can’t see his soul at all.

Now, Sloan is on the hunt for a deadly psychopath with two irresistible men. One of them would die for her, and the other would kill to keep her safe.

***** Guest Post *****

I asked Elicia a few questions for this guest post, based on Sloan’s abilities. If she had the, would she keep them completely secret? If not, who would she share them with? How would she decide to use them? Would she ever use them for personal advantage or gain?

These were the things she said.

Sloan has the ability to summon people to her just by talking about them, so I can imagine that this would be a very problematic gift to have if a lot of people knew about it. When I released chapter one of this novel to my readers, a comment storm happened that went something like this…

“Can you have Sloan summon Chris Hemsworth for me?”

“Tell Sloan I need her to summon Richard Armitage.”

Someone even posted a photo of a shirtless male model with the caption, ‘Dear Sloan, all I want for Christmas is…”

Those were funny, but some of the comments were tragic. One was, “Can she summon back my dad?” Ouch! Another was, “I’d like to tell my mom I love her one more time.” That went right in the feels!

It was then I decided if I had her gift, I’d keep it a secret for as long as humanly possible. Unfortunately, I’m a bleeding heart that can’t say no to someone in need, so I doubt I’d be very successful at keeping my mouth shut.

On the other hand though, her gift could be very useful to me. I have five children who are all going to be teenagers very soon and I’m already having trouble keeping up with them as it is! Being able to summon them to me–no matter where they are or what they are doing–at any given moment would be awesome! They would probably hate me for it though.

Aside from my kids (and possibly Johnny Depp or Thor), I like to think I wouldn’t use the gift for my own personal gain… unless I also had the ability to summon more hours in the day, lost socks from the dryer, or millions of dollars into my bank account. Sadly, I’m pretty sure that’s not how the gift works!

 

***** Review *****

The Skinny

Sloan is freaky-weird, called a witch by her best friend. The problem is she doesn’t know what she is. She’s lived her whole life thinking she’s the only one like her, and she can’t even tell her parents. They just know that there are odd coincidences about their daughter. The new detective in town has caught her attention, and he knows there’s something different about Sloan. When Sloan meets a total stranger at a festival her world completely changes.

The Players

Sloan – a not-so-average hometown girl; she has a few abilities that make her very different

Nathan – the hunky detective who derails Sloan’s life

Warren – a dark and brooding figure; he has a soul that Sloan can’t read

Adrianne – Sloan’s best friend for most her life

I thought Sloan’s relationship with Nathan was the most natural of all. I felt they were in sync in more ways than just for the investigation.

First Impressions

It’s like Cold Case meets Theresa Caputo. I knew there would be intrigue about Sloan’s abilities and the case of the missing girls. The cover did throw me off a little, but after reading the book it makes more sense.

Second Thoughts

Sloan’s parents have always thought everything that happens around Sloan is an odd coincidence, never wanting to confront it. Sloan has learned never to talk about it with her parents.

I could tell my father didn’t believe me, but he didn’t push the subject. My parents enjoyed their voluntary ignorance concerning the oddities that always seemed to follow me. If they didn’t bring it up, they knew I wouldn’t. And our mutual silence on the matter would allow them to keep on believing there wasn’t anything medically or psychologically unsound about their child.

The plot was very well-developed, and each character served a specific purpose in the story. There were other things sprinkled in throughout, but Sloan, Nathan and Warren are integral to solving the missing cases/murders.

Nathan is hot on the trail of these missing persons reports. He has broken it down into a theory, and is based in Asheville where he predicts will be the site of the next person. After Sloan makes a slip-up and helps Nathan with one individual case, she is pressured and agrees to help Nathan with his investigation. The more she learns of the circumstances surrounding the cases Nathan has pieced together, the more she is convinced there is a serial killer in their midst.

Sloan’s abilities allow her to discern good or evil in others. Essentially, she can read their souls, which is an incredible power she has used to steer others (ahem, Adrianne) away from others. She has never known a stranger in her life. However, it has it’s own drawbacks, like when she has to visit the jail with Nathan. Too much evil takes its toll on her.

I hugged my arms to my chest as we passed down the fluorescent lit hallway that reeked of antiseptic and sickness. “What are they saying?” I asked. 

He looked over at me with an expression that made it clear he was worried I might either cry or punch him in the face. 

As the title suggests, she can also summon people. It obviously doesn’t work to summon Johnny Depp, but it has proven useful and dreadful in equal measures.

Sloan and Nathan have this incredible relationship they just easily slide into. It’s like they know each other so well, the kind of way you would know someone after years. There is a brewing issue beneath the surface between them that is compounded when Sloan meets Warren, who has a soul she cannot read. Enter the love triangle.

Sloan has her hands full when she meets Warren. Their stories intertwine in a way that leads to a sense of security but also more questions. The abilities that Sloan and Warren posses made me think good and evil, light and dark. Their abilities parallel and mirror one another, like two pieces that compliment and complete the other. Sloan is referred to as an angel, and Warren’s dark disposition seems to repel others.  She is like an angel of light, and he is like an angel of darkness.

I typically hate love triangles, but this was a hard one to dislike because both of the guys were so great. Nathan is that wholesome, all-around good guy you can’t help but root for and Warren is that dark, brooding bad-boy type who isn’t so bad at all. I found the friendships that formed to be one of the best outcomes of Nathan’s investigation.

The Soul Summoner is humorous and suspenseful in equal amounts. Each piece of the mysterious puzzle all fall into place in the end, and it was such a glaring truth that I never even suspected it. It was there all along. This is another wonderful read for the fall months that I highly recommend.

***** About the Author *****

Elicia Hyder is the author of several contemporary fantasy novels such as The Soul Summoner, The Siren, The Angel of Death, and The Daughter of Zion as well as a few contemporary romances, The Bed She Made and To Be Her first. Elicia studied American Literature and Creative Writing at the American Military University. She lives with her husband and five children in central Florida.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

***** Giveaway *****

$50 Amazon Gift Card (INT)

Ends November 25th

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway! 

This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

Review: Magelica’s Voyage –The Rescue

Title: The Rescue
Author: Louise Courey Nadeau
Publisher: Magelica Inc.
Release Date: May 2015
Length: 48 pages
Series?: Magelica’s Voyage #2
Genre: Children’s

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

When Magelica dreams of the prince lost on a deserted island, she realizes that it could lead to his rescue. She returns to the Isle of Dreams to tell Queen Raya what she knows. Can they save Prince Will before it’s too late? Will the power of laughter and love be enough?

* Available in English / French / Spanish *

***** Book Preview *****

***** Review *****

The Players

Magelica – a green-haired, winged girl; on a journey to save Prince William

Gri – Magelica’s loving caretaker

Tris – Magelica’s pet dragon

Odin – messenger of the Isle of Dreams

Wally – the wizard of the Isle of Dreams

Queen Raya – ruler of Isle of Dreams; kind to Magelica; searching for her lost son

Prince William – Queen Raya’s son; missing for 9 days

Thoughts

This second installment in the Magelica series continues to build upon the first book. The chapters have gotten a little longer, but are still manageable for young independent readers beginning the transition into chapter books. The illustrations are just as beautiful as in the first book.

The story also builds upon itself. At the end of Magelica’s Voyage, Magelica returns home knowing one day she’ll go back to the Isle of Dreams. Who knew it would happen so soon?

Through a dream, Magelica realizes Prince William is lost and stranded. She and Tris quickly return to the Isle of Dreams to convene with Queen Raya. It is the beginning of a rescue plan, but all of the people of the island will need to be reminded what it is to laugh and love again.

Magelica’s bravery leads her closer to her own personal quest to find out who she is.

***** About the Author *****

Louise Courey Nadeau

Passionate about empowering and inspiring children around the world, Louise Courey Nadeau, born and raised in Montreal, Canada, and mother of two girls and two boys created her first fairy tale Magelica’s Voyage, with the second book in the series, The Rescue, launched June 2015.

“Through life’s trials and tribulations, I always believed I could. With theMagelica book series my goal is to take young girls and their parents and teachers on empowering adventures and to inspire and encourage them to believe that they are amazing just the way they are, and to discover the power of love, positivity, and believing in themselves.

Magelica’s Voyage is inspired by my life, my family, and the special people and places I love”, says Courey Nadeau. “All of the characters in the story, including Magelica are reflections of the person I am- the wacky part, the funny part, the philosopher, the teacher, the caretaker, the chosen mom, the giver, and of course the dreamer. What would Magelica do, I often ask, and I get the answer. When you fly with Magelica, the possibilities are endless and there is magic all around.”

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Review: Magelica’s Voyage

Title: Magelica’s Voyage
Author: Louise Courey Nadeau
Publisher: Magelica Inc.
Release Date: May 2015
Length: 48 pages
Series?: Magelica’s Voyage #1
Genre: Children’s

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Who ever heard of a girl being hatched from an egg the colour of sapphires? Magelica doesn’t know where she came from or who she really is. But when she’s transported to the Isle of Dreams in a flying bathtub, she launches into an adventure of discovery, and learns that wonderful things can happen when she uses her imagination, believes, opens her heart and trusts in love. Come fly with her and discover for yourself the power of imagination, gratitude, believing in yourself, and love! In this special first voyage, fantasy, adventure, magical illustrations, empowering messages, and a wonderful cast of enchanting characters come together as Magelica takes young girls and the special people in their lives on a fun, inspiring voyage about making your life magical.

* Available in English / French / Spanish *

***** Book Preview *****

***** Review *****

The Players

Magelica – a green-haired, winged girl hatched from a sapphire egg; wears a feather necklace; wonders where she came from

Gri – Magelica’s loving caretaker

Tris – Magelica’s pet dragon

Odin – a purple fuzz ball with crazy eyes from the Isle of Dreams

Wally – the wizard of the Isle of Dreams

Queen Raya – ruler of Isle of Dreams; kind to Magelica; searching for her lost son

Thoughts

The chapters are extraordinarily short – a couple pages (with full illustrations) at most. This is structured perfectly for a beginning independent reader getting ready for chapter books.

Magelica is a beautiful character, in illustration and heart. She wonders about her origins, and as always, Gri is open to telling the tale of how she was found in her sapphire egg by the Gatherers twelve years before. She wears a feather necklace, made out of a feather that she was found with.

One night while taking her bath, Magelica and Tris are whisked away in the flying tub. The magical feather is the key to Odin finding Magelica. He whisks her off on an adventure to save the Isle of Dreams, and Magelica learns it is the magic of fairies and that she must get Turtle moving to find the prince.

Magelica is kind and sensitive to Turtle’s feelings, and learns a wonderful lesson of what she needs to do to make of herself. She knows she will once again return to the Isle of Dreams.

I loved Magelica’s character. She is open and kind and sweet. Even when upended, she makes the best of the situation.

The illustrations are superb and flow with the story well.I particularly like the character forms of Magelica, Tris and Odin. Magelica’s illustration reminds me of a younger Odette from The Swan Princess. –>

This is the beginning of a beautiful coming-of-age story. Magelica discovers that wonderful things can happen when she uses her imagination, believes, opens her heart and trusts in love.

***** About the Author *****

Louise Courey Nadeau

Passionate about empowering and inspiring children around the world, Louise Courey Nadeau, born and raised in Montreal, Canada, and mother of two girls and two boys created her first fairy tale Magelica’s Voyage, with the second book in the series, The Rescue, launched June 2015.

“Through life’s trials and tribulations, I always believed I could. With theMagelica book series my goal is to take young girls and their parents and teachers on empowering adventures and to inspire and encourage them to believe that they are amazing just the way they are, and to discover the power of love, positivity, and believing in themselves.

Magelica’s Voyage is inspired by my life, my family, and the special people and places I love”, says Courey Nadeau. “All of the characters in the story, including Magelica are reflections of the person I am- the wacky part, the funny part, the philosopher, the teacher, the caretaker, the chosen mom, the giver, and of course the dreamer. What would Magelica do, I often ask, and I get the answer. When you fly with Magelica, the possibilities are endless and there is magic all around.”

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Review: Sucking in San Francisco


Title:
 Sucking in San Francisco
Author: Jessica McBrayer
Publisher: Mess of Geckos
Release Date: September 2012
Length: 294 pages
Series?: Vampires of San Francisco #1
Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Working at a Suicide Prevention Center in San Francisco, Lily Goodwill thinks she’s heard it all—then she gets a call from a man about to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. Something about the caller, maybe his yummy British accent or Lily’s ability to understand his crushing ennui, makes her break all the rules and rush to meet him. After all, she is a vampire and if she can’t talk him down she can glamour him.

But things don’t go according to plan. Her caller glows with blue fire and turns out to be a vampire-hating Djinn. Suddenly, for the first time in centuries he’s found something intriguing. Is Lily really a vampire with a conscience and an obsessive-compulsive disorder, involving Handi-wipes and Lysol, or is she just another bloodsucker?

Add in another vampire, with a history of female lovers stretching over three centuries, who swears he’s reformed and declares his undying love for Lily. Stir in a mean pair of witches and a vicious warlock, who are staking vampires around the city, and you have a recipe for riotous adventure of supernatural proportions.

***** Review *****

The Skinny

Lily is not your ordinary vampire. She works diligently at a suicide prevention call center. She takes care for everything to be sanitized, even when she feeds. She chooses to live on her own and pay her way, but she is a member of a vampire family who have some impressive skills collectively. They attract the attention of two different people: a jinni bent on destroying vampires and a witch jealously in love. Lily becomes embroiled as the center of attention in more than one heated love triangle as a pair of witches stir up some serious trouble in San Francisco.

The Players

Lily – a young vampire; works at a suicide prevention call center

Helena – an older vampire who has magical capabilities; married to Julian

Julian – a bookworm and scientist; Helena’s husband; the leader

Sebastian – a brooding, womanizing vampire; lives in the manse with Helena and Julian

Hannah – Lily’s vampire friend; lives at Berkeley

Aidan – a vampire-hating jinni

Andrew – the young (human) butler at the manse

Iris and Indio – sister witches; intent on no good

Alexander – cousin to Iris and Indio; ring-leader of their schemes

First Impressions

I am not one for vampires at all, so I had some preconceived notions of my own when I decided to give this book a chance. I am trying to give new books new a chance.

Second Thoughts

Lily belongs to a small family of vampires. Julian, Helena and Sebastian all live in a beautiful mansion, but Lily prefers to be independent and live on her own. It is a distinguishing character trait that runs parallel to the circumstances she finds herself in. Despite her singular spirit, Lily must depend on her friends to prevail.

Odd things have been occurring in San Francisco when Aidan shows up in town. Lily, being the kind-hearted soul that she is, thinks she can save him from himself one night on the Golden Gate Bridge. And that’s where the adventure begins.

Aidan was an interesting character. He is a djinn (jinni) and has lived in solitude for centuries. The breadth of the things he has seen haunts him in a way, and he sets out to hunt down the blood-sucking vampires.

I must be insane. Me, a djinn, destined to walk the world alone or serve in slavery has just let a sworn enemy go. I’ve spent my life destroying vampires. Ever since the Djinn-Vampire war of 917.

But Lily gives him pause. She is different than those he’s known before. Vampires, though, have an incredible power over djinns if given the chance. Aidan

Lilith asked if I had anyone to share my life with. If only I did. I think it would be almost bearable if I did. To have someone to talk to. To hold and touch a physical, willing companion would be like having the sun in my hands. There is no such thing as a female djinn. 

There is more than one love triangle in the midst, and it adds quite a bit of spice – and anxiety for Lily – to the mix. Lily is the center of one love triangle, and part of another. This is what puts her in danger: a man loving the wrong woman. Talk about jealousy!

The friendship that Lily and Sebastian have is like that of siblings, and I enjoyed seeing this softer, calmer side of Sebastian. Sebastian and Aidan are competing for Lily, who’s kind of stuck in the middle of it all. She finds herself confused more than once. Aidan’s internal dialogue about Lily is very romantic, whereas Sebastian’s affections seemed…sudden.

Andrew was a breath of hilarity and fresh air. He is human and privy to the vampires’ real lives as their butler, and he is dying to become a vampire. He insists he is at his prime and is relentless in his persuasive attempts.

Things heat up for the vampires in San Fran as they come in contact with Indio, Iris and Alexander start cooking up a wicked plan. The vampire family heavily depends on Aidan’s djinn abilities to protect them all.

My favorite scene in the book is Lily’s birthday at the club. It is 40’s themed, which was around the time period when she was still human. It’s just a really fun scene and it really showcases the witches in a bad light.

In the end, Lily does make a choice. It was predictable but frustrated me extremely. I would not have chosen the same man she did. The only other thing that bothered me was the cliché lamp on the cover. Nowhere in the story does it mention Aidan being associated with a lamp.

The book is the first in the Vampires of San Francisco series. I enjoyed the story and the characters and I’m interested to see what they get into next.

***** About the Author *****

Jessica McBrayer lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She lives in a house that looks like the prow of a cruise ship and is surrounded by hills too steep for mountain goats, although every other animal seems to make it their go-to place. Jessica shares her home with her husband, her two children, assorted animals and her mother who is a writer too. She is a member of Romance Writers of America.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

 

Review + Giveaway: Clockwork Menagerie

ClockworkMenagerieBanner-1

cover1000-678x1024Title: Clockwork Menagerie
Author: Karen Kincy
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Release Date: September 2015
Length: 65 pages
Series?: Shadows of Asphodel #2.5
Genre: Historical, Romance, Fantasy

A companion novella to the Shadows of Asphodel series, from Konstantin’s point of view.

1914. Konstantin would love to hide in his laboratory and dissect the clockwork dragon captured from Russia, but the Archmages of Vienna have other plans. He finds himself shipped off to St. Petersburg as the scientific attaché to an ambassador. His orders? Look, but don’t touch. Of course, he considers this an impossible request with so much enemy technomancy to explore.

To make matters worse, Konstantin has to work with the dashing zeppelin commander Himmel, a man who should also be untouchable. They can’t act on the smoldering attraction between them without risking it all. Faced with an illegal relationship and a devious rival technomancer, Konstantin might not return from this mission in Russia without conquering the forbidden.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Review

The Skinny

All of Europe was a mess of alliances, each country eager to defend its honor.

It is 1914 and Konstantin is busy trying to dissect the clockwork dragon. However, he has orders to act as a scientific attaché in St. Petersburg. The mission must uphold diplomacy fully, but once Konstantin discovers a sinister and unethical technomancy practice in his Russian rival he begins to cross the diplomatic lines. Add into the mix Captain Himmel, who makes Konstantin’s cogs whir even though such a relationship is illegal, and it makes for a strained and secretive mission in more ways than one.

The Players

Konstantin – an archmage who specializes in technomancy

Himmel – naval airship captian; selected frequently to command zeppelins for travel missions

von Bach – Austria-Hungary ambassador to Russia; in charge of the diplomatic mission

Alexsandr – the Russian guide to von Bach and Konstantin

Zinoviya – dowager countess of Russia; owns the clockwork menagerie

First Impressions

I’ve already read the first two books in the series, so I wasn’t sure what was going to pop up in this short novella or where it would lead.

Second Thoughts

The book continues where the second installment in the series left off. It is still 1914 and the brink of WWI is about to come crashing down, despite the Hex that the Archmages created for protection.

Konstantin, an archmage of Vienna, is set off on a mission to Russia with a diplomatic ambassador. It becomes very clear to Konstantin that he is only allowed to look at the various technomancy workings in Russia. He is not to discuss them or touch them. For a man who lives for his research, this is a hard thing to keep from doing, especially when he finds himself a mere pawn in the game. He must come to terms that his own works have caused destruction and death just as his enemies’ creations have.

“Oh, dear, didn’t you know?”

Heat scorched his face. He had been trotted out like a pawn on the chessboard, ignorant of the bigger players. “Why you?”

“Tsar Nicholas finds my talents useful.”

“Your clockwork dragon killed dozens of men.” He hated how his voice shook.

“And your hands haven’t been stained by a drop of blood.”

In the Russian clockwork dragon Konstantin has discovered a new and unethical practice in technomancy: Siberian chrysoberyl. The highly unethical and restricted practice is a magnified version of pyschothaumaturgy – “a soul trapped in a diabolical mechanism.” This requires capturing a soul during its moment of death and imprisoning it, creating a beast that possesses an immense power. A highly illegal practice. As Konstantin struggles to prove to the world what he knows to be true, he must make sacrifices, perhaps at his very own cost.

He had never seen Siberian chrysoberyl outside of the latest scientific articles, since the Russian government kept a chokehold on its distribution. Whoever built the clockwork dragon needed approval from the Tsar himself. It would be marvelous to talk with the technomancer who engineered the dragon, but of course that would be consorting with the enemy.

I found Konstatin’s character to be very charming, even when distressed. He tries to always be proper and polite, but he is also very much a nerd and it shows in his own inner conversations with himself. The most comical moment was either when he pretended to be an American to avoid suspicion or wanted to set up a makeshift labratory in Himmel’s hotel room.

Konstantin stroked his beard. “I need to tinker with the temporal magic. Might I use your hotel room as a makeshift labratory?”

Himmel arched an eyebrow. “Try not to burn down the building.”

“I won’t.”

“Or electrocute yourself.”

I loved the initial description of the dowager countess. She is portrayed as something so delicate.

A slim young brunette tilted her head, listening to a gentleman, diamonds sparkling in her ears. Red and gold butterflies perched in her hair, as if she were the most delectable flower, wings quivering in the slightest breeze.  

I also loved the relationship that Himmel and Konstantin have with one another, despite their actual feelings for one another. They work together well and their romance must be heavily suppressed in order for them both to survive in their worlds.

I definitely recommend Clockwork Menagerie. It is a captivating story with intrigue, enemies and forbidden romance.

About the Author

Kincy-author-photo1-225x300Karen Kincy (Kirkland, Washington) can be found lurking in her writing cave, though sunshine will lure her outside. When not writing, she stays busy gardening, tinkering with aquariums, or running just one more mile. Karen has a BA in Linguistics and Literature from The Evergreen State College.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Giveaway

GiveawayImage

Glow-in-the-Dark Gold Lotus Flower Bookmark from etsy seller Papillon9

Open to US/CA

Ends Sept. 16th

Prizing is provided by the publisher. Hosts are not responsible.

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

Review + Giveaway: The Banished Craft

TheBanishedCraft_Banner-300x202

Welcome my stop for The Banished Craft by E.D.E. Bell!  The tour runs August 18 – September 1 with reviews, interviews, guest posts, excerpts and giveaways.  The Banished Craft is a fantasy novel and is written for adults but is appropriate for mature young adult readers.   This is the first book of the Shkode series and is released on September 1, 2015. Check out the tour schedule for all the other goings on.

front_cover_forweb-203x300Title: The Banished Craft
Author: E.D.E. Bell
Publisher: Atthis Arts, LLC
Release Date: September 2015
Length: 346 pages
Series?: Shkode#1
Genre: YA, Fantasy

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

The Banished Craft is a genre-bending fantasy saga that follows the adventures of Cor, a woman caught in a dying world that does not accept her, and Atesh, a dragon scientist who’s been asked to violate his own ethics or put the lives of his family at risk. Follow their trials as they deal with a shattered world, mired in political upheaval, while they try to rediscover a lost magic. The Banished Craft begins the Shkode trilogy: a quirky and modern take on dragons and wizards, exploring themes of identity, prejudice, violence, compassion, and the ways we are all connected.

***** Review *****

The Skinny

Teirrah is a singular country under much distress with mounting tensions. The laws and taxes prohibit life and growth and oppress women. There is much political unrest. A large series of characters from each region of the land make up the cast of characters and all play pivotal roles in the story.

The Players

Zee – the Imperial Emperor (dragon); has maintained an unusually long reign

Dronna – an infamous Imperial General (dragon); will do anything to help Zee

Atesh – a genius biologist (dragon); works in the Imperial Lab; mate to Jwala

Jwala – in the Imperial Guard (dragon); mate to Atesh

Frospa – an engineer of her own inventions (dragon); slopemates with Jwala and Atesh; mate to Londew

Londew – a storyteller (dragon);  slopemates with Jwala and Atesh; mate to Frospa

Jelt – befriends Ssarh (dragon); has a unique history with the Emperor

Ssarh – an unsuccessful art student (dragon); friends with Jelt; believes he will be a famous artist

Greg – Francie’s husband (human); current President of U.G.; obsessed with the upcoming election

Francie – Greg’s wife (human); unhappy with her political life

Cor – a Cavestate woman (human); traveled to Farmstate; friends with Iohn

Iohn – a Farmstate man (human); attends University in Farmstate; friends with Cor

Mica – a Seastate woman (human); granddaughter of a famous shipbuilder; enjoys her alcohol

Borso – a Seastate man (human); blames the U.G. for the death of his family; outspoken in his political beliefs

Piero – a Seastate boy (human); friends with Borso; also outspoken in his political beliefs

First Impressions

I wanted to read this book because of the cover. A girl, running, in a library. It intrigued me. The girl turns out to be Cor.

Second Thoughts

The land of Teirrah is broken up into various regions: Seastate, a group of islands whose inhabitants depend on the seafaring way of life; Marshstate, a relatively small section of marshy, swampy land whose inhabitants produce cloth; Cavestate, a series of caves along the mountainside where water is scarce; Farmstate, the largest and most developed of the regions who depend upon agriculture; and finally Gardenia, the small section that shares borders with its neighboring Farmstate and home to the government. I could not figure out where the dragons were on the map, but that is explained at the end.

This book is complex. It begins with a prologue by an unknown character, who seems to have caused issue with some scientific work, causing a rift of sorts in the worlds and between creatures. This character is trying to right this mistake, and pops up every so often throughout the book. She believes that only the most intelligent creatures will recognize her messages, and as such Cor and Atesh seem to be the only characters who are receptive to them.

There are so many characters in this book. There are multiple areas of the land Terrieh, and there are multiple characters represented in each region. At the beginning this was very overwhelming and too much for me. The book is very convoluted, with alternating chapters or sections of chapters that jump to different sets of characters. I got confused on who was who, but the images at the beginnings of each chapter let readers know if the chapter is about people or dragons, so that helped me start keeping things straight.

The Unified Government (U.G.) has officers posted in all regions of Teirrah, but is quite similar to the physical set up seen in The Hunger Games wherein the government is concentrated in one section with luxury, and the most prosperous region nearby shares in the wealth. The other regions are oppressed and taxed to create and promote tensions in the land. The inhabitants have become prisoners in their own homes without even realizing it.

The plot is at times hard to follow because of the immense number of characters, and it does drag in a few places, but overall it is written linearly to come to the end with no major unforeseen twists or predictions. There is little character development due to the sheer number of characters. It’s almost impossible when working with those numbers, but I believe the main characters listed above will remain key players in the second book in the series.

I was very disappointed in Iohn’s character. Iohn is different than the others, he believes Cor to be an intelligent, educated person – even though she is a woman. He likes that about her, but he rides both sides of the fence, and only seems accepting of her when no one else is around. It is the epitome of emotional manipulation and I wanted to slap Iohn.

This book speaks to a few contemporary issues, and in this context these issues seem so utterly archaic and deplorable. In all of Teirrah, women are seen only for their reproductive qualities. They are seen as sinister, trying to use their evil powers to overtake men, but still deserving of love. It was such an oxymoron of ideas. There are so many laws and nearly all of them oppress women: they cannot be educated, they cannot own land, they cannot do anything. Cor struggles with the standings of her gender’s stature in society.

There are also a number of other social issues brought up throughout the book. Each region has its own traditions, which are changing due to trade and other political notions. Abuse of power and illegal drugs also play a large part in Cor and Atesh’s journeys.

This book has a dystopian aspect to it, in a world that seems to be falling apart, but it is a lot to riddle out as a reader. If you enjoy epic journeys, this is a book for you.

***** About the Author *****

View More: http://ffpohio.pass.us/emily-bell

Author E.D.E. Bell is a graduate of the University of Michigan with an MSE in Electrical Engineering, and works as an advisor in technical intelligence. A vegan and enthusiastic ignorer of gender rules, she feels strongly about issues related to human equality and animal compassion. Married with three children, she decided to pursue her dream of writing and is excited to share that vision with fans of epic fantasy.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

***** Giveaway *****

$25 Amazon Gift Card (INT)
Ends Sept. 9th
Prizing is provided by the publisher. Hosts are not responsible for prizes in any way.

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

THIS EVENT WAS ORGANIZED BY CBB BOOK PROMOTIONS.

Review + Giveaway: Citadel of the Sky

CitadelOfTheSky

Welcome to my tour stop for Citadel of the Sky by Chrysoula Tzavelas! This is an adult epic fantasy (clean and appropriate for YA readers) and the tour runs June 1-12 with reviews only. As you can see, I am one of the first stops on the tour, so I hope you enjoy and check out the rest of what’s to follow on the tour schedule.

CitadelOfTheSkyBookImageTitle: Citadel of the Sky
Author: Chrysoula Tzavelas
Publisher: dreamfarmer press
Release Date: May 2015
Length: 162 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Fantasy

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon 

Her (not very) Serene Highness Princess Tiana tries her best not to think about the dark lords ravaging her country or how the magic in her bloodline makes her family go mad. The descendant of a legendary hero, she prefers bringing the myths of old to life on the theater stage, not on the battlefield.

Then a rash of suspicious deaths strikes the Regents—trusted advisors, friends, and guides to her troubled royal family—and the Noble’s Council tries to cover it all up. Tiana is determined to get to the bottom of the murders and the conspiracy, even if that means making a dangerous pact with a telepathic demon trapped in a magical sword. But he may just be the edge she needs to save the people she loves.Cursed sword in hand, Tiana and her friends prepare to face the encroaching darkness­—and the ultimate truth about her and her family.

***** Review *****

Great-Uncle Jant’s Regent died of old age, and Cousin Cathay’s Regent was thrown from his horse, and Uncle Yithiere’s Regent had a heart attack, but it was all just bad luck until the King’s Regent died. It took more than bad luck to tear somebody’s arm off. It took a fiend, or a team of horses, or somebody really spiteful.

Those are some pretty powerful words, and the opening paragraph of the book. Citadel of the Sky is an intriguing mix of royalty, politics, history, conspiracy and suspicion. It also has an immense fantasy aspect.

Despite having these wonderful elements, I struggled getting started. The author could have done a better job front-loading readers with the basics of Tiana’s world, the phantasmagory and the creatures. All of the characters were quickly thrown at readers, and for a while it was hard to make the connections between them. I discovered that there was a characters list and a family tree in the back of the book. It would have helped me tremendously if I’d seen it before I started reading.

However, don’t be fooled. The plot is strong and filled with imagination. Tzavelas definitely put creativity to the test, and the action builds and then hits a crescendo and becomes very fast-paced.

The characters are what make the story worthwhile. They are interesting, complex, and for a royal family in the midst of troubled times, resilient. The royal family (the Blood) are blessed with magic, but a magic that leads to madness. It is all very psychological and readers get to see this first-hand. The characters work together to protect the Blood and to discover the inconsistencies in which they all grew up knowing as truth.

There is a fairly wide cast of characters, and the POV shifts between Tiana and Kiar. Like the rest of the royal family members and attendants, they each have a role throughout the book. I feel that those who were prominently featured will have bigger roles in the following installments. I enjoyed the deviation from the female character trope of strength and perfection in order for them to be interesting. Each female character has her own set of flaws, and these anomalies are what makes each one her own person and not a hazy, glossed over character in the background.

Tiana is the main character of the novel, but she is by far not the main focus. She is a young woman who resents being seen and treated as fragile, and she tries to act normal. Her counterpart, Kiar, is a very introverted character. On the exterior she is poised and in control, of course by doing those introverted things such as avoiding others and emotions, but on the inside she is consumed with self-doubt.

Tiana’s father, King Shonathan, just kind of drifts along throughout life trying to avoid any painful memories. Another royal cousin, Shanasee, has the greatest magical power of any of the royals. Despite having the most intense and powerful magic, Shanasee refuses to use it due to the horrific results of her actions while trying to end the previous magical threat to their kingdom.

We have Regents, who are our keepers, and we need them, because we can’t control ourselves, because we are mad, lost, cursed. 

The Regents are another complexity within the book and royal clan. They are in a strange area of gray, where they are not royal, they are not court attendants or followers, and they are not commoners. Instead, the Regents substantiate the royals as friend and relative. They also fall along the lines of a caregiver in many ways. Those selected as Regents grew up alongside the royals and they serve to help the royals control their magic.

After a time she heard, **Do not banish me from your hand. It would not help you. You will hear my voice, no matter how far you go.**

Now the sword sounded desperate, and she felt the barest twinge of pity. But she said, “Cathay is drawn to swords, and when I’m lost in the phantasmagory, I’m unpredictable.” She considered, and added, “Besides, you just stole my body. I don’t want you near me.” 

The middle of the book is where I was hooked – particularly Tiana’s budding relationship with the magical sword, Jinriki, sent to protect and teach Tiana. It can read Tiana’s mind, her thoughts, and also respond in kind. They get off to a rocky start, but their banter is crafted well and quite a draw.

**…In any case, you are my bearer now, and pretty princesses are far more likely to encounter unwanted suitors, in many forms than thieves.**

“What about wanted suitors?” 

**Do you desire suitors?**

“Well, yes!”

**Ah. That could be awkward.**

The ending fell slightly flat for me. Personally, I don’t typically like cliffhangers, and the book closed on a major cliffhanger that just wasn’t satisfying. I wanted things to be a little bit more clearly defined, but this makes me confident that the second installment will start off with a bang.

***** About the Author *****

As an Air Force kid, Chrysoula went to twelve schools in twelve years and spent a lot of time wondering what made people tick. Books, it turned out, helped with that question. These days she lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family, which includes many small and demanding creatures who fight over her attention. Her first book, urban fantasy MATCHBOX GIRLS, was published in 2012 by the small press Candlemark & Gleam, followed annually by two more books in the same SENYAZA Series, all of which explore the impact of the supernatural on those who are— or who want to be— ordinary. Her next book, CITADEL OF THE SKY, is the first of a new series about the descendants of a Chosen One and the legacy of power and mental illness they’ve inherited. It’s also about Dark Lords and kicking butt in nice dresses.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

***** Giveaway *****

The author will be giving away $10 Gift Card to online bookseller of choice (INT) to three winners of the below Rafflecopter.  The giveaway ends June 16th.

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

Review: The First Fight

Title: The First Fight
Author: Kara Loo
Publisher: Good From the First Byte Press
Release Date: November 2013
Length: 277 pages
Series?: School for Adventurers #1
Genre: YA, Fantasy

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon 

High school drama meets fantasy adventure in this fun, whimsical series, School for Adventurers!

At Eastridge Academy, the realm’s best and brightest learn fighting, magic, and even thieving–in short, all of the skills needed to become a great hero.

And even the best heroes start somewhere… Or at least that’s what the Eastridge first-years like to tell themselves…

Princess Averi, the fourth daughter of the Emperor, can’t stand to stay on the sidelines; as a new first-year, she’s determined to become the best in the class, even if that means braving dangerous combat classes and scandalizing the nobility.

Fierce, stubborn, and usually hostile when approached, Wisteria Ling is the best Combat Caster in her year. But while magic comes easy to her, socializing never has.

Rai Ravin is desperate to escape his family, even if it means breaking all the rules. But one of these days he’s going to get himself into trouble that he can’t charm his way out of…

And orphan Fell Farmington never thought he’d have the chance to leave his work on the farm to become a Warrior and soldier of legend, but getting accepted to Eastridge is about to change his life.

Together, these four will learn how to work together, how to fight, and how to survive… Especially when the closeness of war threatens their kingdom.

***** Review *****

This is the first book in the School for Adventurers series. It contains all the elements that would engage a reader: an interesting world, witty humor, real characters, and unexpected twists.

This book has broad appeal for readers from the YA age to adulthood. The school is structured and run in much the same was as Hogwarts from Harry Potter, and some of the professors seem to share qualities with those from the wizarding school. The similarities in these aspects I appreciated, but the one complaint I have is that the school is so large with multiple buildings, warrior arenas and wooded areas that a map of the school grounds would have been perfect.

Along with the conflicts between the characters, this book contains magic, learning to fight, sneak and steal, class struggles, and political agendas. There are students from every range of socioeconomic background from the peasant level (bonded) to nobility, including a princess, as well as a foreigner.

The writing style has wonderful flow and depth. It brings to life this school and the characters. There was diversity within the main set of characters in the book, and even though there were multiple characters with their own story arcs, these were woven together in the story in such a way that everything tied together perfectly. I am sure this is not an easy task for a writer with so many characters to portray and pursue.

In addition, the plot itself is fast paced and surprising, in more ways that one. It is a tale I consumed well into the night until I’d read the final page. The characters have real depth to them, but it is not belabored in the writing. The magic and thievery is another thing entirely. As the students are learning in their courses, they learn the methodology of working them and then are tasked with practicing them, in and out of the classroom. This is where much of the fun comes into play.

Out of the four crafts (warrior, cleric, mage, thief), the warrior and thief show their sides the most. Ironically, as most would assume, the warriors are a far cry from heroic and upstanding. I did not appreciate the way the warrior training was conducted, and it leaves me silently questioning how the professors could allow it. I enjoyed the training classes for thieves the most. It is an interesting course, and despite being stigmatized as the lesser of the four crafts, there is a lot of integrity and ethics built into the the thief courses.

In the end, I was sad to see this first installment in the series come to an end. The characters are endearing and inventive, and I think they are what in large part makes the book such a good read. Plus, the magic. And thievery. I mean, there’s a Killing Game…and a Winter Ball.

I am not waiting to get my hands on the second book.

***** About the Authors *****

Kara Loo and Jennifer Young are two girls who love writing and do it every day. They’ve been writing together for the last thirteen years–since they were both freshmen in high school. They stayed in touch through their love of writing even though they were separated by rival colleges: Kara went off to Stanford for Creative Writing and Film Studies and Jennifer went to UC Berkeley and the University of San Francisco to get a teaching degree. They have worked together professionally as writers and editors for the past few years on several narrative video games. Titles they’ve worked on include ‘Surviving High School’, ‘Claire Hart: Soul Searcher’, ‘Cause of Death’, and ‘Clue: Secrets and Spies’.