The Lady Raven: A Dark Cinderella Tale by Rebecca Henry Review

The classic tale of Cinderella takes a very dark turn in author Rebecca Henry’s The Lady Raven: A Dark Cinderella Tale.

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

The classic tale of Cinderella takes a very dark turn in author Rebecca Henry’s The Lady Raven: A Dark Cinderella Tale. Here is the synopsis.

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The Synopsis 

In The Lady Raven, Rebecca Henry tells the tale of Zezolla, a little princess abandoned by her father into the hands of her evil stepmother and wicked stepsisters. A familiar fairy tale you may think but all is not as it appears. The reader is soon drawn into a web of witchcraft, lies and deceit, and gradually realises that this is no typical fairy tale but a dark and macabre take on one. Zezolla is treated with the utmost cruelty, neglected and vilified, and left to live in the damp cellars of the castle. The only friends Zezolla has are her beloved raven and her pet wolf. Her only comfort lies in the loyalty of the creatures of the forest and her mother’s hazel tree. Will Zezolla have the power to escape her torment and ultimately save herself from the unscrupulous clutches of the king? The Lady Raven is a compelling tale and one that is not for the faint-hearted.

The Review

If George R. Martin and The Brothers Grimm were to retell the story of Cinderella, they would have come up with this tale. It’s a truly dark retelling of the original story, filled with the same elements of the classic fairy tale with added elements of horror, dark fantasy and drama that rarely make their way into modern day retellings. The author does a marvelous job of adopting the same writing style of the classic fairy tale while infusing darker elements that not only play to the story, but bring imagery that reflects the attitudes and views of modern day life.

To read this story is to mirror the way in which women are viewed and treated in our world. While the fantasy elements are more prevalent than anything else, it’s hard to ignore the ways in which the protagonist Cinderella is shown the cruelty of men. From her father’s betrayal to future king’s desire to own and conquer her, she is also shown how women are too often pitted against one another by society, one made so desperate to find their perfect life that they are willing to burn down anyone in their way, much like the evil stepmother and her daughters. 

The Verdict

This was a unique and interesting take on the Cinderella tale. Bringing the subtle horrors the protagonist had to face in her original story to the forefront in a much darker and in your face way, the author beautifully blends the magical fantasy elements of the genre with a look into the cruelty of mankind and the hope that in that darkness, light can find it’s way out into the open once more. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of The Lady Raven: A Dark Cinderella Tale by Rebecca Henry today! 

Rating: 8/10

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About the Author

I am a newly published author with one novel released and another book coming out for publication, in February 2019. I am also a world traveller, living abroad. I have many interests and hobbies in life, besides my greatest passion of all, my family. I am also a vegan, gardener, crafter, and I practice yoga regularly.

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Heritage (Imagine #3) by Jenna Greene Review

The dangerous new world created by the Coalition puts the Elementals to the test in author Jenna Greene’s latest novel, Heritage, book three in the Imagine series.

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

The dangerous new world created by the Coalition puts the Elementals to the test in author Jenna Greene’s latest novel, Heritage, book three in the Imagine series. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

As Becky tries to adjust to life back on Earth, in Oren, Prince Eston suffers under the deadly effects of broxide poisoning. 

While Cristox Savu joins with an unlikely friend as he attempts to save his people from extinction, Leda and Jamee, two of the three Naturals, those born with magic, struggle to defend the sanctuary of the Painter’s Valley. 

And, even as they finally face the feelings they have for each other, Kat and Ino must evade the Coalition’s clutches as they journey to discover what is affecting magic across Oren–before it is too late and magic, and an even deadlier enemy, destroys Oren and everyone Kat cares about.

The Review

All I can say is…wow. As a reader and fan of this growing series, I am more than blown away by the world building, character driven and emotionally charged story told by author Jenna Greene. This third novel in the Imagine series takes readers to new heights as we not only explore the Elementals fighting to survive in a world where their natural born gift for magic is outlawed as criminal behavior. Hunted and hated, the heroes must find a way to combat not only this powerful new organization, but the hatred and fear being stoked within the citizens of the kingdom of Areth. 

The author finds new and exciting ways to build upon the Oren mythology, including seeing how the magical realm has affected our own world. Seeing Becky’s journey struggling with the loss of her time on Oren and trying to find out what happened to her during all those weeks she was missing, it was great to see this young and powerful character continue to add to the overall narrative. Seeing the beginning of Kat and Ino’s relationship growing into something more than friends was a nice added development throughout this dramatic storyline, and readers will not believe their eyes when the book’s climax reveals the shadowy villain working behind the scenes of the Coalition.

The Verdict

This is a fantastic addition to this massively growing fantasy series by author Jenna Greene. A twist ending that leaves the possibility for more and more books in the franchise, the Imagine series continues to share the powerful world building techniques of the fantasy genre in new and unique ways. If you love YA fantasy as much as I do, then be sure to grab Heritage (Imagine #3) by Jenna Greene today.

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

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Jenna Greene is the author of the acclaimed Young Adult   Fantasy series, Imagine!  She is a middle school teacher, dragonboat coach, enthusiastic dancer, and semi-professional napper. She lives in Lethbridge, Alberta with her husband (Scott), daughter (Olivia), and dog (Thor, dog of thunder). 

http://www.jennagreene.ca/

Reality (Imagine #2) by Jenna Greene Review

The world of Oren faces a new danger as anti-magic rhetoric and a mission to return a friend home make Kat Bowers and the other Elementals lives more in peril than ever before in author Jenna Greene’s Reality, book number 2 in the Imagine series.

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

The world of Oren faces a new danger as anti-magic rhetoric and a mission to return a friend home make Kat Bowers and the other Elementals lives more in peril than ever before in author Jenna Greene’s Reality, book number 2 in the Imagine series. Here is a synopsis.

The Synopsis

The three young Elementals discover they no longer have full control over their magic, a fact that is both unsettling and could put lives in peril. As a new group, known as the Coalition, rises in power, anti- magic sentiment spreads rom the small village of Sorc all the way to the kingdom of Areth. Amidst all this turmoil, Kat decides to undertake a new quest, one that will affect Becky’s future. Venturing into territory more hazardous than any they’ve seen before, both girls strive toward a goal they know has little hope of success.

The Review

The overlaying threat of this anti-magic group really helped elevate the dangers the heroes face in Oren. With their newfound powers essentially malfunctioning and separated by two very different missions, the Elementals must navigate the dangerous new world being created by the Coalition. 

It was fascinating and engaging as a reader to see the underlying theme of persecution and hatred based on fear arising within the novel. During these tumultuous times, it was a great way to integrate serious discussions into a fantasy driven narrative. Seeing the characters deal with that new reality, all the while going about their separate missions was a fantastic way to develop the characters even more. 

The Verdict

This was a great sequel to an already great developing series. Taking the magic of the first novel and increasing the drama and dangers of this new world, the author gave not only protagonists Kat and Becky new challenges, but gave special insight from supporting characters like Easton and the other elementals. If you enjoyed the first novel or are looking for a fun new fantasy series to dive into, then pick up your copy of Reality (Imagine #2) by Jenna Greene today.

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Jenna Greene is the author of the acclaimed Young Adult   Fantasy series, Imagine!  She is a middle school teacher, dragonboat coach, enthusiastic dancer, and semi-professional napper. She lives in Lethbridge, Alberta with her husband (Scott), daughter (Olivia), and dog (Thor, dog of thunder). 

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Imagine by Jenna Greene Review

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

Author Jenna Greene brings a dangerous, exhilarating and emotional fantasy to life in the novel Imagine, the first of the Imagine series. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

A fierce wind and a blast of green light during a strange storm causes everything to change for Katharine Bowers and Becky Thatcher. The girls wake up in Oren, an entirely different realm than their earthly city. They meet Enalie, a fading magical presence who sets an incredible destiny before them… then simply disappears. Left alone to fend off creatures that hunt them in the night, they must relay a magical heritage that doesn’t make sense, and – if possible – save a world that they know nothing about.

The Review

This book took the fantasy genre to a whole new level. A brilliant YA style fantasy novel that wasn’t afraid to delve into the brutal nature of magic and fantasy style storytelling. With an entire cast of memorable characters, the author did a fantastic job of bringing two strong, young and driven female protagonists to life. 

The world building was phenomenal in this first book of the series. Exploring the fictional world of Oren and all of the provinces within it was great to see, as was the political nature of various kingdoms and different species living throughout the world. The story of young women discovering the power within themselves and overcoming oppressive and tyrannical forces was the inspirational fantasy story everyone has been waiting for, making Jenna Greene the next great name in the fantasy genre.

The Verdict

This is a must read novel. Full of action, suspense and cinematic level storytelling, Imagine is a wonderful introduction to the world of Oren and heroes like Kat and Becky. If you enjoy a good fantasy novel with strong female lead characters and a large dose of magic, then Imagine by author Jenna Greene is the book for you. Grab your copy today!

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Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Jenna Greene is the author of the acclaimed Young Adult   Fantasy series, Imagine!  She is a middle school teacher, dragonboat coach, enthusiastic dancer, and semi-professional napper. She lives in Lethbridge, Alberta with her husband (Scott), daughter (Olivia), and dog (Thor, dog of thunder). 

http://www.jennagreene.ca/

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Beyond the Serpent Hills (Legends of the Lost Tribes Book 2) by Kitty Lewis Review

It’s time to return to the epic fantasy world filled with magic, gods and goddesses, and one young woman seeking revenge for her brother’s demise in author Kitty Lewis’s novel “Beyond the Serpent Hills (Legends of the Lost Tribes Book 2).

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

It’s time to return to the epic fantasy world filled with magic, gods and goddesses, and one young woman seeking revenge for her brother’s demise in author Kitty Lewis’s novel “Beyond the Serpent Hills (Legends of the Lost Tribes Book 2). Here is the synopsis:

The Synopsis

The old priests have fallen, the Demons are no more, but Kandrina has yet to find out what really killed her brother. Her need for revenge takes her and her former teacher on a perilous journey into uncharted territory. They must travel north, into the lands of the fearsome lizard men known as the Li Buqu. Meanwhile, the tribal lands are under attack from predators, and rising internal conflicts between the Vice-Chiefs threaten to disrupt the People’s way of life. 

The Review

After conquering the corrupt high priests and setting the record straight about the Colourless, the hero Kandrina returns to find the monster responsible for her brother’s death. In her journey she discovers a fearsome and powerful race of beings known as the Li Buqu. There she learns just how large her world is, and must prevent an all out war that threatens to tear the world apart.

The author does a marvelous job of building upon the foundation laid in the first book. Moving on from the corruption of a twisted man’s take on religion, the story instead focuses to mirror mankind’s tendency to invade lands they feel belong to them, even when someone else or something else is already living there. The mythology expands greatly as we meet this new civilization, and the character growth of Kandrina especially in this story is so engaging that it keeps readers invested in the story, something not every author can accomplish with a book’s sequel.

The Verdict

Overall I loved this story. It’s the perfect sequel to the original book and continues to expand upon a world that is ripe for a full blown series. It captures the fantasy element in a very creative way and explores mythology in a comprehensive way that allows readers to get into it themselves. Be sure to grab your copy of Kitty Lewis’s novel “Beyond the Serpent Hills” today!

Rating: 10/10

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Interview with Author Colm Dowd

1)Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Most of my writing has been in the form of song lyrics. I am the founder of the indie folk/rock group, The Last Hope Road Show. This is why I am dying to get the audio book narration done so I can finish what I hope to be an OC type soundtrack for the finished version. Some of the music I produce is theatrical in nature and I have been working the story and soundtrack for a couple of musicals. So  writing a novel was not really a big stretch.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

While I had always wanted to write, the catalyst for this book came from my son, who was nine at the time. He expressed interest in writing a book so I joined in, and the friendly competition helped us both to continue on. He has gone on to become a very good writer. So in that sense, this book has already become a success for me.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

While  I think that story telling can be a powerful medium to get important messages out there that need to be told, sometimes it’s just about entertainment. Fantasy books can get a little bit deep and involved, this is not one of those, not at this point in the series. That said, a couple of serious issues are brushed over in the book and they will have to be addressed later in the series.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

My books are of the middle grade/young adult fantasy genre. I suppose you can blame Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings for this, but that would probably be simplistic. Way back in the day I used to stay up to watch the old 50’s science fiction movies being played late Saturday nights with my mom. I came up with some bizarre fantasy land short stories in my early teenage years, but nothing I ever pursued. In the end though, do we really need more real life?

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

By far the most interesting character in the book is the villain Salazon. While he seems to pretty much hate everybody. H especially seems to hold a grudge against his own people, the Northfighters. What really went down with him to get to where he is right now? While being very intelligent and cavalier in his attitude, he still seems to be holding on to a very deep grudge that will have to be explained somewhere down the line.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Facebook and Goodreads are probably the most useful sites when it comes to starting out with your book. As I have quite a few illustrations within the book I will be pushing a big Instagram campaign, which will include T-shirts.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Getting into anything is tough these days. It’s pretty easy to self-publish your book. This is great when you get it done, not so great when it gets drowned in the other thousands of books in your genre. But if you have joined in some author groups and build up your network before your release, I’m sure you’ll get there.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I am currently working on the second book in the series, which is a lot of fun to write. It’s a big advantage with a series, most of the setup is already in place and you can get to all the fun storylines a lot quicker. The fantasy world holds a dozen different ways the story can go. Unfortunately for me, the storyline in the real world was going to be including a lot of political humor. The idea is Salazon, a raving lunatic, takes over as mayor of New York and thinks of himself as a king. Uh…yeah I know. Saying it out loud, it does sound a bit too far-fetched, even for fantasy.

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Firstborn (Descendants of the House of Bathory #2) by Tosca Lee Review

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

The truth of Audra Ellison’s past is revealed, and now the fight for not only her life but all of her people can truly begin in author Tosca Lee’s second and final book in the Descendants of the House of Bathory series, Firstborn. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

Face-to-face with her past, Audra Ellison now knows the secret she gave up everything—including her memory—to protect. A secret made vulnerable by her rediscovery, and so powerful neither the Historian nor the traitor Prince Nikola will ever let her live to keep it.

With Luka in the Historian’s custody and the clock ticking down on his life, Audra only has one impossible chance: find and kill the Historian and end the centuries old war between the Progeny and Scions at last—all while running from the law and struggling to control her growing powers.

With the help of a heretic monk and her Progeny friends Claudia, Piotrek, and Jester, Audra will risk all she holds dear in a final bid to save them all and put her powers to the ultimate test.

The Review

This book does what all sequels should do. It builds upon the foundation laid by the first book and ups the ante in big and unexpected ways. Firstborn does an amazing job of seeing Audra fully embrace herself after her long journey to discover who she is. In the series conclusion, we see a more confident and determined Audra emerge, a hero risen from the ashes and set on ending a centuries long war that has claimed too many lives.

The book moves at a fast pace from the first page, keeping readers on the edge of their seat as they race right alongside Audra on her journey. What really drew me into the story was the way the author challenges readers to think about history itself. After reading the book I dug into the history behind Elizabeth Bathory, and some of the details of her case really have me challenging what I thought I knew.

Time and pop culture have made her into a terrifying monster, embellishing the number of her victims and the crimes she was accused of. Did she really kill all those people? Or was she the target of a King’s ambition? After reading this fiction book, I am definitely intrigued enough to look into this case further, and encourage others to do the same. That’s the power this author has over readers. She challenges readers to look at life critically and examine all sides of any situation.

The Verdict

Overall I loved this story. It has a heart pounding journey that leads to a shocking and satisfying conclusion. Readers who love the first book will not be disappointed, and it not only makes you want to delve into the true history of this story but has you feeling connected to Audra and her friends as if you have lived this journey with them, marking a truly captivating story and author. If you haven’t yet, pick up your copy of Firstborn by Tosca Lee today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

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Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of Iscariot, The Legend of Sheba, Demon: A Memoir, Havah: The Story of Eve, and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker (Forbidden, Mortal, Sovereign).

A notorious night-owl, she loves watching TV, eating bacon, playing video games with her kids, and sending cheesy texts to her husband. You can find Tosca hanging around the snack table or wherever bacon is served.

Tosca’s highly-anticipated new thriller, The Progeny (May, Simon & Schuster) is available now!

Social Media Links

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Check out the review for book one, The Progeny, here!