Tag Archives: fantasy books

Gaslight Paradise by Walrus Review

Three people discover how far they would go to live forever as they discover the sinister motivations behind an innocent seeming party in author Walrus’s “Gaslight Paradise”.

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The Synopsis

What would you do to live forever? Three very different people contemplate this question after it is posed to them at a lavish party where everything is more sinister than it seems.

The Review

This was the perfect fusion of otherworldly fantasy, historically-driven sci-fi, and old-time mystery thriller horror stories all in one delicious literary bite. The authors known as Walrus have perfectly captured both a humorous tone amongst the cast of characters and their interactions with one another and a haunting note of terror in the spine-chilling behavior of the “party hosts”. 

The mystery of the doors that take the trio of protagonists to this “party” is inviting and entertaining, to say the least. The author’s ability to translate fantasy, horror, and sci-fi in a mature and adult way was great to see, as so many stories delve into the YA world for these genres that getting a more adult turn in this genre was a breath of fresh air. 

The Verdict

A heart-pounding, chilling, and engaging sci-fi and fantasy read, authors Walrus and their book, “Gaslight Paradise” is a must-read novel. The story is invigorating and does a great job of adding a new twist on the class thriller-mystery genre. The shocking revelation of this party’s origin will stay with readers long after the book’s end, and the cliffhanger of an ending is open-ended enough for fans to want more but mysterious enough to be a brilliant conclusion as well. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Walrus was once believed to be an urban legend. Very little is known other than Walrus is said to sleep very little, eat very much, and write far more than is healthy for the normal mind.

To bestow a great story on the world is Walrus’ only wish.

https://mindofwalrus.weebly.com/

The Unwilling (The Barrier Lands #1) by Kelly Braffet Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman with no name and no history soon discovers she’s anything but ordinary, as she finds herself caught between two powerful figures hoping to use her special gifts for their own purposes in author Kelly Braffet’s “The Unwilling”, the first in the Barrier Lands series.

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The Synopsis

A penetrating tale of magic, faith and pride…

The Unwilling is the story of Judah, a foundling born with a special gift and raised inside Highfall castle along with Gavin, the son and heir to Lord Elban’s vast empire. Judah and Gavin share an unnatural bond that is both the key to her survival… and possibly her undoing.

As Gavin is groomed for his future role, Judah comes to realize that she has no real position within the kingdom, in fact, no hope at all of ever traveling beyond its castle walls. Elban – a lord as mighty as he is cruel – has his own plans for her, for all of them. She is a mere pawn to him, and he will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

But outside the walls, in the starving, desperate city, a magus, a healer with his own secret power unlike anything Highfall has seen in years, is newly arrived from the provinces. He, too, has plans for the empire, and at the heart of those plans lies Judah… The girl who started life with no name and no history will soon uncover more to her story than she ever imagined.

An epic tale of greed and ambition, cruelty and love, this deeply immersive novel is about bowing to traditions and burning them down.

The Review

What a rich and dark fantasy the author has crafted! The narrative is greatly layered between the YA Fantasy from the two main protagonist’s POV, and the darker, more spine-chilling fantasy and horror that the journey takes readers on. The atmosphere and tone the author set for the novel really elevated the reader’s experience, drawing them further and further into the mystery and history of this world.

The mythos and the character growth was the most prominent aspect of these narratives. The shocking cruelty of the antagonists and heartfelt bond the protagonists and the supporting characters made with one another elevated the emotional undercurrents of this book, while the rich history and mythology the author developed opened up some pretty mind-blowing and thought-provoking fantasy elements that left readers eager to read more.

The Verdict

A masterful, creative, and emotional dark fantasy read, author Kelly Braffet’s “The Unwilling” is the perfect start to a brand new mythos and series. The rich historical and mythological development the author wrote and the engaging way the characters not only drew readers in, but the engaging interactions between these characters really made this novel shine brightly. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Kelly Braffet writes stories about unhappy people making bad decisions, occasionally with magic. She is the author of The Unwilling (available 2/20 from Mira Books), Save Yourself, and Last Seen Leaving; her first novel, Josie and Jack, has been made into a feature film starring Olivia DeJonge, Alex Neustaedter, and William Fitchner, and directed by Sarah Lancaster. Her writing has been published in the Fairy Tale Review, Post Road, and in several anthologies, as well as on Salon.com. She is a graduate of Columbia University and Sarah Lawrence College.

She is married to the tall and immensely talented writer Owen King. He’s dreamy. For more, see www.kellybraffet.com.

Tales from The Foxes of Foxham by Matteo Sedazzari Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

In a magical fantasy world in which animals, witches and mankind live together, a group of evil witches seek to use a young fox in a ritual, and in order to break a curse placed on the young fox, he and his allies must return to Foxham to find a good witch to lift the curse in author Matteo Sedazzari’s “Tales from the Foxes of Foxham”. 

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The Synopsis

It is the late fifties and the Witches of Benevento are determined to plunge the world into darkness by kidnapping and sacrificing the jolly and young Neapolitan fox, Alberto Bandito, in a sinister ritual.

Yet, fortunately for Alberto, he is rescued, then guarded, by his loving mother Silvia and mob boss father Mario with his troops, a good witch Carlotta with an uncanny resemblance to Marilyn Monroe, the Bears of Campania, the boxing wolves’ brothers Francesco and Leonardo, and other good folks of Naples and beyond.

However, their protection is not enough, for Alberto has been cursed. So, the young fox, along with his family, has to travel to the village of Foxham in Norfolk, the spiritual home of foxes across the world, to rid himself of this spell. The ritual has to be performed by a good fox witch, Trudi Milanese, but there is a problem, Trudi doesn’t know she is a witch….

Tales from The Foxes of Foxham is a magical adventure story, packed with colorful characters and exciting situations, in a battle of good versus evil.

The Review

This fantasy-driven, action, and adventure novel was truly remarkable. What immediately drew me into the narrative was the balance the author found between history and the various cultural points established for the characters and their settings, and the more fantastic, magical storytelling devices that allowed foxes, bears, badgers, and other animals to be interacting on a social level with humanity. The book also does a great job of incorporating themes of tolerance and acceptance, including showing off the cruelty and heartbreaking nature of hunting for sport and adorning animal skins as fashion pieces. 

Yet it was the wide assortment of characters and their character arcs that really drew me into the narrative. From the novel’s beginning, introducing us to Charles, a prominent leader, and figurehead for foxes in Europe, and his partnership with historical figures like Winston Churchill, or even the heroic friendship and trio of protagonists Alberto, Trudi, and Carotta, who must band together and bring all of their allies to face the threat of the evil witches of Benevento, the author really did a great job of making this world feel both fantastic and yet grounded at the same time.

The Verdict

A creative, original, and entertaining fantasy novel, author Matteo Sedazzari’s “Tales from the Foxes of Foxham” is a must-read novel, and a major contender for original fantasy action and adventure read of 2021. Bringing to mind the imagery and storytelling of iconic author Roald Dahl, the author manages to capture that classic battle of good vs evil in a unique setting and time period, all while balancing history, culture, and mythology all at once. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Matteo Sedazzari developed the zest for writing when he produced a fanzine entitled Positive Energy of Madness during the height of Acid House, in 1989.

Positive Energy of Madness dissolved as a fanzine in 1994 and resurfaced as an ezine in 2003, which became ZANI, the ezine for counter and pop culture in 2009, promoting online optimism, along with articles, reviews, and interviews with the likes of crime author Martina Cole, former pop star and actor Luke Goss, soul legend Bobby Womack, Clem Burke of Blondie, Chas Smash of Madness, Shaun Ryder of Black Grape/ Happy Mondays and many more.

After producing and writing for his own publication, Matteo’s next step was to pen a novel, A Crafty Cigarette – Tales of a Teenage Mod. Matteo is influenced by Hunter S Thompson, Harlan Ellison, Kenneth Grahame, Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain, Irvine Welsh, DH Lawrence, Alan Sillitoe, Frank Norman, Joyce Carol Oates, Mario Puzo, Iceberg Slim, Patricia Highsmith, Joe R. Lansdale, Daphne du Maurier, Robert Bloch, George Orwell, Harry Grey and many more. American comics like Batman, Superman, and Spiderman, along with Herge’s Tintin, also provide Matteo with inspiration.

Matteo also finds stimulus from many films like Twelve Angry Men, A Kind of Loving, Blackboard Jungle, Z, Babylon, This Sporting Life, Kes, Midnight Cowboy, Scum, Wild Tales, The Boys, Midnight Express, La Commare Secca, Dr Terror’s House of Horrors, so on and so forth. As for music, anything that is passionate, vibrant, and with heart is always on Matteo’s playlist.

Matteo Sedazzari resides in Surrey, which he explores fanatically on his mountain bike. Matteo supports Juventus, travels to Italy and Spain, eats and dress well, as he enjoys life in the process.

https://www.zani.co.uk/

Thread of Souls Book III: Path of the Spiders by Scott and Ashley Roepel Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Torn apart between two worlds, the Phantom Five find themselves facing new dangers, as one group moves through a war-torn land, while the others find themselves trapped in a foreign world, where all of the spiders have disappeared in authors Scott and Ashley Roepel’s “Path of the Spiders”, the third book in the Thread of Souls series. 

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The Synopsis

The adventuring group known as the Phantom Five is torn apart. While one group ventures through Artemis’ war-torn homeland, Unolé is flung across the planes with healer Taliesin, warrior Ruuda, and soldier Wash. All the four of them want is to go home. But this new world has its own dangers, and its own mysteries. They are forced to make dubious alliances to survive, and every escape attempt is blocked with a new threat. The shadow of the eerie ziggurat looms over the land, as do rumors of its growing army inside.

But within ancient temples, slave auctions, and blood rituals lie answers. Answers about Unolé’s stolen sister, Wash’s fugitive past, and the question that Taliesin ran away from home for. Where have all the spiders gone? Now they must ask themselves one final question. How much are they willing to risk for these answers?

The Review

I absolutely loved this novel. Having read the first two books in the series, I keep finding myself enthralled with this vast world and universe the authors have crafted here with descriptive imagery and unique history to this world, the writing takes on an almost cinematic quality, as if these scenes should be playing out in a brand new game series. The balance of the world’s history and the mythology that the authors have crafted for each race that this book brings to life is just incredible. 

Yet the characters really stole the show, so to speak. The way the heroes face their own personal demons and grand threats are greatly balanced and controlled here. From Unole having to look for traces of her sister in a different world to the other members of the Phantom Five dealing with the loss of their unique gifts after defeating their doppelgängers, this novel raises the stakes and delves deeper into the universe as a whole, including the development of those with Celestial blood and ancient gods and their guardians. 

The Verdict

Exhilarating, entertaining, and thrilling, authors Scott and Ashley Roepel’s “Thread of Souls Book III: Path of the Spiders” is a must-read fantasy novel of 2021, and a fantastic new addition to the Thread of Souls universe. The endless world-building and character growth are superb, and the twists and turns that leave the group split apart once more and facing new and old threats alike make this a fantastic cliffhanger of a book. With an ever-expanding landscape that will have readers engaged on every level, this narrative is not to be missed. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Scott and Ashley Roepel are a husband and wife team of writers, creators, and travelers. They are co-founders of Tal & Ru Travels LLC which is focused on entertaining and engaging content. Deep lovers of fantasy, the two of them are avid D&D players and content creators.

https://talandrudungeonloot.com/

Windfall (Legends of Vioria #1) by Shawna Barnett Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A ferocious pirate leader must face her haunted past as a one-time Princess and discover the true plot that took her parent’s lives and forced her into hiding in author Shawna Barnett’s “Windfall”, the first of the Legends of Vioria series. 

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The Synopsis

Captain Liana Foley knows a thing or two about fights. She fights the King’s Navy. She fights to balance power in oppressive Vioria. She fights for respect as a female, bisexual, pirate captain. But she’s losing her biggest fight: to escape her secret past as a lost Princess.

With a mysterious letter and a stranger threatening to expose her, Liana is blackmailed into attending a royal ball and protecting her counterpart, sheltered Princess Rhian. The pretenses are suspicious enough, but Liana takes the risk in hopes to finally unveil the magic plot that killed her parents and forced her into hiding.

When Liana encounters Rhian’s own lightning-wielding powers, the ball erupts in violence. The sheltered princess falls into the care of Liana—and her band of pirates. On the run, the only safe haven for the Windfall crew to hide is the most-dangerous place of all: under the thumb of Liana’s narcissistic, abusive brother-in-law.

In order to protect her crew, her family, and naïve Rhian, Liana must demand sacrifices from herself and the people she loves. Her choices will make powerful enemies; good thing Liana Foley knows a thing or two about fighting those.

Content warnings:

Attempted rape

Domestic violence

Torture

Murder

Representation:

Own voices

Bisexual main character

Asexual

The Review

A truly gripping and fantastic blend of fantasy, gritty pirate life, and LGBTQ-forward character growth, author Shawna Barnett has crafted a marvelous new saga for fans to delve into headfirst. The amount of world-building that went into this narrative was incredible, crafting something wholly original and new by exploring a world where pirates and magick exist together. Generally, books featuring pirates will have ancient curses or some sort of sea monsters, but not pure fantasy-driven magick, which makes this narrative so exciting that fans of the fantasy realm will have a whole new appreciation for the pirate life. 

Yet it was the characters that really drew me in. Having a strong, female protagonist who was both the hero of the tale and proudly representing Bisexual Pride throughout her adventure was amazing to see unfold. The strong LGBTQ representation in this book really elevated the unique world the author had created here and gave so many people representation in this novel. It allows the reader to feel connected and engaged with not only the narrative but the characters themselves.

The Verdict

A masterful, entertaining, and driven narrative, author Shawna Barnett’s “Windfall” is a must-read novel and a great start to the fantasy-driven Legends of Vioria series. Taking the readers into realms of fantasy and lore and balancing the narrative with strong characters and twists and turns that will keep the reader on the edge of the seat, this novel promises a fun new direction in the highly acclaimed Fantasy genre. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Shawna Barnett is a mother, life-long advocate and author of swashbuckling tales. After receiving a BA in Politics from UC Santa Cruz, Shawna worked in victim advocacy and behavioral health. Born in San Diego, California, her experiences have taken her all over the United States. After settling in Tennessee with her daughter, Shawna seeks to speak out through writing and contribute to a world where everyone is safe and respectfully represented.

https://www.shawnabarnett.com/

Windfall - Shawna Barnett

Shawna Barnett has a new LGBTQ+ pirate fantasy book out (ff bi/ace): Windfall. And there’s a giveaway!

Captain Liana Foley knows a thing or two about fights. She fights the King’s Navy. She fights to balance power in oppressive Vioria. She fights for respect as a female, bisexual, pirate captain. But she’s losing her biggest fight: to escape her secret past as a lost Princess.

With a mysterious letter and a stranger threatening to expose her, Liana is blackmailed into attending a royal ball and protecting her counterpart, sheltered Princess Rhian. The pretenses are suspicious enough, but Liana takes the risk in hopes to finally unveil the magic plot that killed her parents and forced her into hiding.

When Liana encounters Rhian’s own lightning-wielding powers, the ball erupts in violence. The sheltered princess falls into the care of Liana—and her band of pirates. On the run, the only safe haven for the Windfall crew to hide is the most-dangerous place of all: under the thumb of Liana’s narcissistic, abusive brother-in-law.

In order to protect her crew, her family, and naïve Rhian, Liana must demand sacrifices from herself and the people she loves. Her choices will make powerful enemies; good thing Liana Foley knows a thing or two about fighting those.

Publisher – Paperback | Publisher – Hardcover | Amazon | Goodreads


Giveaway

Shawna is giving away a $20 Barnes & Noble gift card with this tour:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47194/?


Excerpt

Windfall - meme

Chapter 1

To Go on the Account

6th of Lengnath, 1715

The Capital of Caerwyn

A shadow crept around a stone archway, unseen by a passing pair of guards on patrol. The woman who cast it pulled down her hood and peered about. Her thick, unkempt black hair fell over her shoulders. A long cloak covered her curves, but she had flung it back to rest a hand on her hip, revealing a sword in its sheath. Her fingers, ruddy and coarse with use, pinched her bottom lip. She strained her ears to hear over the soft slaps of water in the harbor, the creaking of the ships’ hulls as they swayed, and the occasional caw of laughter from the nearby row of pubs.

Just as she began to wring her hands under the cloak, another duo approached. They weren’t dressed in soldiers’ uniforms, but sailors’ garb. She took a step forward and allowed her silhouette to be revealed. “There you are. What took you so long?”

“I’m sorry, Captain,” her quartermaster, Ameen Almasi, said, stopping at her side and turning on his heel to face his companion. “Our young friend was… distracted.”

The youth in question tucked his chin and smiled guiltily at his captain.

“Damn it, Squiddy,” she scolded. “Learn to keep up.”

Her expression softened to amusement as he scowled. His real name was Sava, but she’d settled on calling him “Squiddy.” Not much would be able to change her mind.

Ameen chuckled, deep and quiet. Sava looked much like a young Ameen—slight, lanky, and youthfully energetic. Ameen towered over him. He held his posture, straight and sure, lean with muscle gained by nautical labor. The boy still had some way to go before he would be able to carry himself so confidently. Tonight, he would have a chance to prove himself. She beckoned them to follow her.

The Capital of Caerwyn rose before them in layers, on a crest overlooking the sea. The docks formed its base, spanning out south, east, and west like the fingers of an outstretched hand. The rest of the city stacked upon the palm; rows upon rows of buildings, each one smaller than the width of the one below it. The Royal Palace stood at the zenith of this view, like a crooked mountain range, sporting banners of blue and silver. The ocean-side of the palace stretched out like the hand’s thumb, wide and thick.

“Liana,” Ameen breathed her name rather than her title. His voice plucked her from the high towers of the palace and steadily anchored her back to the alley behind the harbormaster’s office.

She looked about the alley to make sure they hadn’t been noticed creeping about. “This is it?” Sava’s voice cracked.

“Yes. Do you remember what you have to do?”

He nodded. Even in the dark, she could see him shake. Placing a firm hold on his arm, she looked into his face. His eyebrow twitched.

Liana breathed in deeply, nodding to invite him to mimic her. “You can do this.”

“I’m ready,” he said as he twisted a lockpick between his fingers.

The building had suffered some damage since the last storm season and was under renovation, therefore it had an outer shell of scaffolding that looked sturdy enough to climb. Ameen knelt to give Sava a lift, and he was off, scaling the walls as easily as strolling the streets. They watched as he reached the third story, settled himself on a beam, and picked open the window. He scrambled through it and disappeared.

Liana saw Ameen lift his hand to his chest, where a Circle of the Divine hung on a chain under his linen shirt.

“He’ll be alright,” she assured him.

His eyes grazed over her face, then downward. “You weren’t supposed to bring that.”

She followed his line of sight to the cutlass at her side. “It’s for protection, if we’re caught.”

“If we are caught, we agreed you would distract them while Sava and I get away. Soldiers won’t harm an unarmed Caerwyn woman.” He looked straight back at her expectantly with an extended hand, wagging his fingers. After a meaningful silence, she begrudgingly loosened her belt. He was right, after all. It was the reason she was wearing her Mass dress.

“Insubordination is what I call that, Almasi,” she spat. Her tone could cut as deeply as the blade she handed over. But Ameen knew her well enough not to be offended. He grinned, obviously pleased with himself. His amber eyes lit up as he caught her looking for a moment too long. Liana began to pace, her shoulder purposefully knocking against his side as a final jab. She didn’t need to look back to know he was still smiling.

The lighthearted energy between them evaporated as they heard a whistling call in the distance—a warning. Sava’s head emerged from the window. Liana waved for him to come down. In return, he made an exaggerated shrugging gesture and went back in.

“That stupid little—” She rushed to the base of the scaffold and gathered her skirts. “Lift me up, I’m going to get him.”

“You’re in a dress.”

“And whose brilliant idea was that?!”

Deep voices and the light of a lantern cut through the darkness. Despite the cool breeze, she began to sweat. She could hear the patrolmen at the front of the building now. They must have taken a shorter route than usual.

An object landed at Liana’s feet with a flutter and thud. She snatched up the book and flipped it open. The ledger was unreadable in the pale moonlight, but she knew it was exactly what they had come for. “Blimey, Squiddy! You’ve done it.”

“Who’s back there?” came a gruff voice from the front, cutting their victory short. The sound of the ledger’s landing had alerted the patrol.

Liana whirled around and shoved the ledger into Ameen’s hands. She unfastened her cloak and threw that at him as well. “Wait for him but go as quickly as you can.”

He tucked it under his arm with her sword. “Be careful, Captain.”

As she lifted her skirts and sprinted off, Sava was already halfway to the ground.

But, by the Divine, this dress!

She hadn’t gone to Mass in years and had outgrown the gown. Ameen had insisted on this particular one—the rest she owned were plain, albeit comfortable. She’d been a fool to think she could have climbed after Sava. Between the binding bodice around her torso and carrying the weight of the layers of the skirt, she was out of breath within seconds. Still, it made her distress all the more convincing as she collided into the chest of the soldier before her.

The man grunted in surprise and took a step back to steady himself. She clung to his dark blue long-skirted coat. His jaw unhinged.

“It’s a woman!” his friend declared.

“Thank the Divine you’re here!” she gasped out. “Th-these men had me cornered and robbed me!”

She gave a doe-eyed shrug, feigning helplessness. The soldier settled his hands on her shoulders. It made her feel uncomfortably small. The other one, a fair young man, threw himself in the direction she had come.

“It’s alright, ye’re safe now,” the soldier who stayed with her said, beginning to stroke her upper back. He had a slight Northern accent, and his features were darker than the other soldier. She arched away.

The fair soldier returned at a slower pace this time. “Whoever attacked you, miss, they’ve gone now. Likely pirates who’ve come to port for the season.”

“Thank you.” She spoke as demurely as her pride would allow. “I’ll be on my way, now.”

“Shall we escort you home—?”

“No!” She realized too late she had interrupted him. “No… Thank you.”


Author Bio

Shawna Barnett

Shawna Barnett is a mother, life-long advocate and author of swashbuckling tales. After receiving a BA in Politics from UC Santa Cruz, Shawna worked in victim advocacy and behavioral health. Born in San Diego, California, her experiences have taken her all over the United States. After settling in Tennessee with her daughter, Shawna seeks to speak out through writing and contribute to a world where everyone is safe and respectfully represented.

Author Website: https://www.shawnabarnett.com/

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/sbarnettauthor

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/SBarnettAuthor

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sbarnettauthor/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20653893.Shawna_Barnett

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Shawna-Barnett/e/B09235XR1H

Other Worlds Ink logo

Foxfire in the Snow (The Alchemical Duology #1) by J.S. Fields Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

The heir to a master woodcutter named Sorin must find their place in the nation of Sorpsi as the Queen and several guild masters, including their mother, disappears and forces Sorin to go on a journey with the royal daughter in author J.S. Fields’s novel, “Foxfire in the Snow”, the first in the Alchemical Duology series.

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The Synopsis 

Woodcutter or witch? Alchemist or scientist? Can Sorin’s duality save their nation?

Born the heir of a master woodcutter in a queendom defined by guilds and matrilineal inheritance, nonbinary Sorin can’t quite seem to find their place. At seventeen, an opportunity to attend an alchemical guild fair and secure an apprenticeship with the queen’s alchemist is just within reach. But on the day of the fair, Sorin’s mother goes missing, along with the Queen and hundreds of guild masters, forcing Sorin into a woodcutting inheritance they never wanted.

With guild legacy at stake, Sorin puts apprentice dreams on hold to embark on a journey with the royal daughter to find their mothers and stop the hemorrhaging of guild masters. Princess Magda, an estranged childhood friend, tests Sorin’s patience—and boundaries. But it’s not just a princess that stands between Sorin and their goals. To save the country of Sorpsi, Sorin must define their place between magic and alchemy or risk losing Sorpsi to rising industrialization and a dark magic that will destroy Sorin’s chance to choose their own future.

The Review

This was such a refreshing and engaging fantasy narrative. The way the author incorporated the theme of being true to oneself and finding balance in our lives was felt in so many facets of this story. What stood out immediately was the balance of the various guilds and work that this world brought out, which brought both alchemy and magic into the narrative. The concept of exploring both of these concepts, and seeing the protagonist facing both destiny and their own passion was something both intriguing to this world in particular and relatable to so many readers out there. 

The thing that really resonated with me was the amazing character development here, in particular the protagonist. Sorin is a fantastic new fantasy hero to read. Their journey really shows the progress and evolution of the character overall, from having the legacy of their mother hanging over their head and the expectations that are thrust upon them upon her disappearance, to the rejection of fate and the steely determination that sees them take on their own choices. This, combined with the really deep and engaging way the relationship between Sorin and Magda evolves and grows keeps the reader invested in this amazing narrative.

The Verdict

A remarkable, thoughtful, and entertaining new fantasy read, author J.S. Fields’s “Foxfire in the Snow” is a must-read novel and a great start to a new fantasy duology. The introduction of a relatable and well-rounded nonbinary protagonist is a great direction that the author took this narrative in, and the twists and turns the story takes will keep the reader engaged throughout this story. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Foxfire in the Snow

J.S. Fields has a new lesfic fantasy (lesbian/non-binary) out: Foxfire in the Snow. And there’s a giveaway!

Born the heir of a master woodcutter in a queendom defined by guilds and matrilineal inheritance, nonbinary Sorin can’t quite seem to find their place. At seventeen, an opportunity to attend an alchemical guild fair and secure an apprenticeship with the queen’s alchemist is just within reach. But on the day of the fair, Sorin’s mother goes missing, along with the Queen and hundreds of guild masters, forcing Sorin into a woodcutting inheritance they never wanted.

With guild legacy at stake, Sorin puts apprentice dreams on hold to embark on a journey with the royal daughter to find their mothers and stop the hemorrhaging of guild masters. Princess Magda, an estranged childhood friend, tests Sorin’s patience—and boundaries. But it’s not just a princess that stands between Sorin and their goals. To save the country of Sorpsi, Sorin must define their place between magic and alchemy or risk losing Sorpsi to rising industrialization and a dark magic that will destroy Sorin’s chance to choose their own future.

Warnings: gore, body dysphoria

Publisher | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audiobook


Giveaway

J.S. is giving away a signed paperback copy of “Ardulum First Don” OR “Ardulum Second Don (winner’s choice), open to anyone, anywhere in the world:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47193/?


Excerpt

Foxfire in the Snow

The short guard stepped to the doorframe, bit back a grimace, and tried to restart the conversation. “Apologies for the hour. We’re looking for—”

“She’s not here.” I cut him off, hoping to forestall awkward questions I couldn’t answer. “She left under the last full moon, for professional obligations. It is unknown when she will return. I apologize.”

“Are you her daughter then?” the short one asked.

My stomach twisted. I was no one’s daughter, and that word would stick in my chest for days. It would squirm there, under bindings and layers of clothes, and make me second-guess myself at the fair with every introduction and every awkward stare at my body. In that moment, I hated them, these two men, so sure of their position despite the mud and the hour. Daughter. No. I had never been one and had no intention of starting now.

“Sorin the…”

“The alchemist,” I finished for him.

“I am her heir,” I said through gritted teeth when neither responded. “I have the queen’s last commission. Will you be taking it tonight?”

The men exchanged a glance, but neither answered. The second man sneezed, sending a spray of water across the threshold. I rubbed my palm on my forehead. If they were going to get the house dirty just by being outside, it made no sense for them to stay there. Bones were one thing; mud was just unprofessional. I stepped back and gestured to the small brown oak dining table—the one with the white streak down it where I’d first discovered what the refined, clear parts of bone oil could do to fungal pigments—and grabbed my cloak from the wall.

“Sit,” I said as I fastened the oblong buttons at the neck of the cloak. The men moved in with heavy steps, which grew increasingly hesitant as the fish smell concentrated. They sat and stared at me with disgusted, pained expressions as mud dripped from their boots onto that stupid handmade floor. I’d have to refinish it now.

I didn’t bother speaking again.

Daughter.

Let them sit in the bone oil stink, pooled in their own mud. I turned and left the house, heading to Mother’s woodshop. My feet crunched along the woodchip path, the ground cover damp but still springy. I tried to let the smells of the forest—especially the earthen smell of fungal decay—take my mind away from the word I so hated.

The men had parked their cart, and their ox, near the door to the longhouse Mother used for her shop, but I could still maneuver around it. The sun had already set, but moonlight streaked through the needled canopy of conifers and across my path. Ten short steps brought me to the double doors made from cedar plank. I stripped the padlock from the right door, the one that had been fastened since Mother’s departure, and entered.

I’d not been inside the shop for a month, and the smell of cedar and wood rot reminded me why. Here were my mother’s heart and legacy, as her father’s before her, and her grandmother’s before that. The whole place felt tattered and used and smelled worse than the bone oil.

In the back, near an old leather chair, was where her mother had been born some eighty years ago. To my right, just in front of a treadle lathe, was where my grandfather had died.

Mother had birthed her children here too—myself and the son she gave to another guild for an apprenticeship, and taken none of their children in return.

The whole building was familiar, like an old wool blanket, but scratchy just the same. This was a legacy of guild woodcutting, and the queen’s mandate of matrilineal inheritance, and I didn’t belong here. A woodcutter was not who I was, a daughter was not who I was, and while the former hurt less than the latter, both made me want to pull at my skin and scream.


Author Bio

J.S. Fields is a scientist who has perhaps spent too much time around organic solvents. They enjoy roller derby, woodturning, making chainmail by hand, and cultivating fungi in the backs of minivans.

Author Website: http://www.jsfieldsbooks.com

Author Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/galactoglucoman

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The Eternity Knot (Celtic Magic Book 4) by H.R. Conklin Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A teen girl continues her exploration of humanity’s connection to nature and the world of the Fae as she is tasked with proving humanity’s worth to the Queen of the Unseelie Fae before the Earth is plunged into chaos in author H.R. Conklin’s “The Eternity Knot”, the fourth book in the CELTIC MAGIC YA series. 

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The Synopsis

Mairi has been shown the future and knows humans must change their ways. Continuing on their path of disconnect with Nature will cause the destruction of human life. Tasked by the Seelie Fae to save the human world, Mairi and friends seek out ancient wisdom in the stories of old. The Queen of the Unseelie Fae decides humans have to prove themselves worthy of the Earthly Realm, or die trying. Dark magic makes Mairi push harder to find the answers she needs, but the Undersea Faerie Queen is weighing in and Mairi is uncertain whose side she is on. When young people representing cultures from all of the continents share their knowledge, Mairi finally feels the seeds of hope. Deadly faerie magic is working against humanity, but humans and faeries are working together like never before. As humans begin seeing the earth through ancient views, they are waking up to their dormant powers. Now Mairi must put all the pieces together before time runs out for human life on Earth, and for once she’s starting to feel worthy of the task. Join Mairi and friends in this exciting conclusion to the Celtic Magic series. 

The Celtic Magic series is a unique tale connecting modern day California to the Scotland of centuries ago. Join Mairi during a life-changing year in this eco-heroine’s journey, following the Celtic wheel of pagan holidays through the seasons and time as she meets druids, witches, and faeries of both Light and Dark. Discover what role mythic stories play in saving the Earth from imminent destruction, and what happens when the world is inclusive of all people. This series includes The Trinity Knot, The Witch’s Knot, The Faerie Knot, and just finished is book 4, The Eternity Knot! 

This book is perfect for teens and adults of all ages who enjoy a 

modern take on myths and fairytales! 

The Review

What a truly incredible read. As a newcomer to the series, I really appreciated the way the author wrote that both keyed in longtime readers of the series and presented this narrative and the series as a whole in a way that newcomers like me could jump on immediately. The protagonist, Mairi, is so endearing and does an incredible job of bridging the gap between the past and her ancestry with the present and who she is as a person, and her determination to fight for both the environment and humanity was incredible to see.

This novel does an incredible job of balancing history and mythology with the environmental-driven narrative of humanity’s impact on the world as a whole. As a fan of history and mythology, I was blown away by the incredible YA approach to detailed Scottish and world cultures and the impact mythology has had on the various cultures around the world, while the action and suspense of the narrative really pulled attention to the horrors humanity has unleashed on the environment, and the need to reconnect to our planet and take care of it was felt in every chapter.

The Verdict

A brilliant, entertaining, and thoughtful new chapter in a wonderful YA series, author H.R. Conklin’s “The Eternity Knot” is a must-read novel. The perfect blend of mythos and environmental supernatural thrillers, the narrative draws readers in with an explosive opening chapter and keeps the readers hooked with strong mythology and a powerful cast of characters. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

H. R. Conklin grew up in the rural mountains of Northern California where her mother gardened and her father played the bagpipes, as well as spending long hours in the theater where her parents were a dancer and an actor. This undoubtedly led to her overactive imagination and love for nature. She currently lives in San Diego with her husband, two adult children, and three dogs. She used to teach kindergarten at a public Waldorf charter school in which she told many fairy tales to the children, and made up stories in her spare time. Now she is a Story Circle Leader and guides parents in homeschooling at a private Waldorf school.

 Keep in Touch – Sign up for Conklin’s Newsletter! 

Find out more at: 

Website:  https://wildrosestories.com/welcome

Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/wildrosestories/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/wildrosestories

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wildrosestoriesandcircles/

Purchase The Eternity Knot on AmazonWaldorf Books, and/or H.R. Conklin’s website: Wild Rose Stories. Be sure to also add this to your GoodReads reading list.

Buy Links: 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Eternity-Knot-Celtic-Magic/dp/B096TTR9PK/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=celtic+magic+h.+r.+conklin&qid=1625601403&s=books&sr=1-2

Waldorf Books Online: https://earthschooling.info/thebearthinstitute/product/celtic-magic-book-4-the-eternity-knot/

Wild Rose Stories: https://wildrosestories.com/shop

Blog Tour Calendar 

July 19th @ The Muffin

July 21st @ The Faerie Review 

Join Lily at the Faerie Review as she shares her review of H.R. Conklin’s latest book The Eternity Knot; part of the Celtic Magic Series. This is a great book for anyone who enjoys a modern take on myths and fairytales! 

https://www.thefaeriereview.com/

July 29th @ The Knotty Needle 

Judy at the Knotty Needle shares her review with readers after reading H.R. Conklin’s The Eternity Knot – part of the Celtic Magic Series. Don’t miss Judy’s insightful review! https://knottyneedle.blogspot.com/ 

July 31st @ Author C.K. Sorens 

Fellow Author C.K. Sorens shares her review of The Eternity Knot – the latest release by H.R. Conklin and part of the Celtic Magic series. Don’t miss today’s peer review! 

https://www.cksorens.com/blog

August 1st @ Bring on Lemons with Cathy Hansen 

Wisconsin entrepreneur and educator, Cathy Hansen reviews the latest novel in the Celtic Magic Series – find out what Cathy has to say about The Eternity Knot as she shares her thoughts with readers at Bring on Lemons. 

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/ 

August 2nd @ Author Anthony Avina 

Fellow author Anthony Avina shares his review of H.R. Conklin’s The Eternity Knot. This book is part of the Celtic Magic Series – readers of all ages will delight in this special story! https://authoranthonyavinablog.com

August 3rd @ A Storybook World 

Readers at A Storybook World will hear from guest blogger H.R. Conklin on the topic of Symbolism in Fairytales. Conklin just release The Eternity Knot – another 5 star book in the Celtic Magic series, but she’s taking time to share her author expertise with readers today! Don’t miss this fabulous opportunity to learn from Conklin! 

http://www.astorybookworld.com/ 

August 4th @ Author Anthony Avina 

 Earlier this week, readers at Author Anthony Avina’s blog read Anthony’s review of H.R. Conklin’s The Eternity Knot. Today readers will hear from Conklin herself as she shares a guest blog post titled:  “Symbolism Reflected in Stories from Around the World” . Don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to learn more about The Celtic Magic series! https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

August 5th @ The Knotty Needle 

 Judy at the Knotty Needle shares her review of The Eternity Knot by H.R. Conklin. This is book 3 in the Celtic Magic series and it is guaranteed to delight readers of all ages! Don’t miss Judy’s review! https://knottyneedle.blogspot.com/

August 6th @ Beverley A. Baird 

 Today’s guest post for readers at Beverley A. Baird is written by H.R. Conklin. Conklin is the award winning author of the Celtic Magic Series and she recently released her latest title: The Eternity Knot. Don’t miss a chance to read today’s guest post titled: “Parenting Wisdom Shared Through Storytelling”.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

August 7th @ World of My Imagination with Nicole Pyles 

Nicole just finished reading The Eternity Knot by H.R. Conklin and can’t wait to tell readers at World of My Imagination all about it. Don’t miss today’s review by Nicole to find out more about this title as well as the others in the Celtic Magic Series! 

https://worldofmyimagination.com/

August 8th @ Word Magic; All About Books with Author Fiona Ingram 

 H.R Conklin pens today’s guest post about fairies and mythology as she visits fellow author Fiona Ingram at Word Magic. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from Conklin and find out more about her latest release: The Eternity Knot; part of the Celtic Magic series! http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

August 9th @ Bring on Lemons with Crystal Otto 

 WOW! Blog Tour Manager, Crystal Otto reviews the latest novel in the Celtic Magic Series – find out what Crystal has to say about The Eternity Knot as she shares her 5 star review with readers at Bring on Lemons. 

 http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

August 10th @ Bring on Lemons with Libby 

 Libby is a young artist who enjoys many genres of books – she shares her thoughts with readers at Bring on Lemons today – her deep thoughts about The Eternity Knot by H.R. Conklin. This book is part of the Celtic Magic series and Libby is excited to read all the books. Readers will delight in her youthful perspective and her energy! 

 http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

August 11th @ Lisa Haselton 

 Lisa Haselton interviews H.R. Conklin about the Celtic Magic series and her latest release The Eternity Knot. Don’t miss a chance to become better acquainted with this talented author! 

https://lisahaselton.com/blog

August 18th @ Jill Sheet’s Blog 

 Today, readers at Jill Sheet’s Blog will hear from H.R. Conklin on the topic of “How Symbolism in Fairy Tales of Old Help Us Today”. Stop by to learn more about The Eternity Knot (part of the Celtic Magic Series) and learn from this talented author. 

http://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

August 19th @ Wildwood Reads with Megan 

 Readers at Wildwood Reads will hear from Megan as she reviews The Eternity Knot by H.R. Conklin. Don’t miss an opportunity to learn more about The Celtic Magic Series and this latest release!

https://wildwoodreads.com/

Shadows of Rebellion (Four Territories Book One) by L.M. French Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A half-human sentinel and a bearer of one of the seals of the Four Territories must go on the run after rumors of an unstable half-breed cause The Order to begin hunting her down, as well as her homicidal half-brother, in author L.M. French’s “Shadows of Rebellion”, the first in the Four Territories Urban Fantasy series. 

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The Synopsis

This is not a happily ever after. This is where it all went wrong. Our king is missing and the last link to him is broken. Terrifying breeds that disappeared centuries ago have returned and are waging war on the Territories. And I am becoming… something.

An unknown power grows inside me and rumors of an unstable half-breed threaten my very existence. It seems outrunning my homicidal foster brother isn’t enough. I’m now on the run from the Order that would see my kind extinct.

Our allies need me to find our king, but is it enough to keep me alive?

My name is Veda Grey and I am the half-human sentinel and seal-bearer of the Four Territories. And if my current predicament is any indication, I’m about to be executed for treason.

Shadows of Rebellion is an Urban Fantasy novel with adult language, situations, and violence.

The Review

This was a fantastic and exhilarating new urban fantasy read. The maturity and intensity of the narrative when blended with the witty and sometimes humorous dialogue between the characters felt like a blend of True Blood meets The Elder Scrolls. The protagonist, Veda, is such a complex and engaging character to follow, and the alternating chapters between characters made the world feel more alive and larger than life. 

What stood out in this narrative was the well-rounded mythos that the author crafted for this series. The Four Territories are a unique world of supernatural creatures, ancient magic, and twists and turns that see friends become foes and monsters into heroes. The world itself felt so alive that it becomes almost like its own character.

The Verdict

A memorable, entertaining, and thrilling new Urban Fantasy read, author L.M. French’s “Shadows of Rebellion” is the perfect first chapter of this brand new series. An enticing new world and shocking twists and turns will keep readers hooked, as will the cliffhanger ending that will leave the fate of several characters up in the air. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

L.M. French is a baby indie author of urban fantasy residing in the Lone Star State with the love of her life, eight-year-old Jack. While she dreams up misadventures with uncooperative participants, he keeps her inspired with his own stories villains and anti-heroes. Where they live, imagination is a superpower. Connect with them via Facebook, email, or carrier pidgeon.

Just kidding.

Birds are mean.

www.lmfrench.com

The Cursed Fae (Accessory to Magic #2) by Kathrin Hutson Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Jessica Northwood must deal with a magical storm of sorts as magical beings seek her out, her past threatens to catch up to her, memories she thought she’d had removed begin to come back to her, and a fugitive Fae seeks her aid, risking her returning to the witch she used to be, in author Kathrin Hutson’s “The Cursed Fae”, the second book in the ACCESSORIES TO MAGIC series. 

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The Synopsis

The bank is a dud. The past is a joke. And the customer is always right. Until they’re not…

Jessica Northwood thought she could handle running Winthrop & Dirledge Security Banking. Turns out she doesn’t even have a handle on herself.

The bank has lost its mind, magicals hunt Jessica down to ask when she’ll open the Gateway, and both her criminal and personal pasts are catching up to her. In the worst way possible. Now she has to fix the bank and its serious attitude problem as the memories she paid someone to remove slowly seep back into her mind. Which was supposed to be impossible.

While her present unravels and the magical world prepares for the task Jessica has no idea how to complete, the fae Leandras returns to add to the chaos. In return for her help, he promises answers. But aiding and abetting another magical fugitive means Jessica must be the witch she swore she’d never be again. And this time, there’s no turning back.

Ilona Andrews’ Innkeeper Chronicles meets The Magicians in this snarky, fast-paced Urban Fantasy Adventure from International Bestselling Author Kathrin Hutson. 

The Review

This was an engaging and brilliant next chapter in this LGBTQ-driven fantasy. The novel does an excellent job of peeling back the layers of protagonist Jessica’s backstory more and more in this sequel, highlighting not only her haunted past and her relationships outside of the Bank before her job there, but mirroring her relationships being built inside of the Bank as well, including newcomer Leandras. The Fae is not only a welcome addition to the cast but his mystery and level of suspicion about his loyalties makes him an intriguing part of the narrative moving forward in the series.

The maturity and humor found in this novel were a major hook and the balance that the author found was quite appealing. As a fan of series like The Magicians, it was great to dive into the mythology and magick of these stories while also balancing out the character interactions and wit that the writing had with more mature storytelling. 

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The Verdict

A wondrous, masterful, and entertaining next chapter in this LGBTQ Fantasy series, author Kathrin Hutson’s “The Cursed Fae” is an excellent next chapter in the ACCESSORIES TO MAGIC series. The balance of suspense that the protagonist’s past and her interactions with former friends and foes alike really set the tone for the narrative, while the growing mystery surrounding this Gateway and her role in the mysterious upcoming events really keeps readers hooked on this narrative. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

International Bestselling Author Kathrin Hutson has been writing Dark Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and LGBTQ Speculative Fiction since 2000. With her wildly messed-up heroes, excruciating circumstances, impossible decisions, and Happily Never Afters, she’s a firm believer in piling on the intense action, showing a little character skin, and never skimping on violent means to bloody ends. Kathrin is an active member of SFWA and HWA and lives in Vermont with her husband, daughter, and two dogs.

For updates on new releases, exclusive deals, and dark surprises you won’t find anywhere else, sign up to Kathrin’s newsletter at kathrinhutsonfiction.com/subscribe.

https://www.bookbub.com/books/the-cursed-fae-accessory-to-magic-book-2-by-kathrin-hutson