Tag Archives: Historical Fantasy

Rise: Birth of a Revolution (The Ricchan Chronicles Book 1) by Mark Moore Review

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

A young man finds himself at the center of a complex revolution in author Mark Moore’s historical fantasy novel, “Rise: Birth of a Revolution”, the first in The Ricchan Chronicles series. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

Finalist for the 2019 OZMA Fantasy Fiction awards, Chanticleer International Book Awards

Damien Flynn finds himself in the midst of growing turmoil that he foresaw but was not equipped to handle. Denied the quill for speaking his mind, he finds himself shackled to a path spiraling downward. A brush with death can do wonders to help one re-evaluate their priorities and their morals but it remains to be seen just how Damien will proceed with his newfound perspective on mortality.

Political espionage, assassinations, scandalous affairs, underhanded deals, and dirty politics threaten to plunge the known world into chaos with Damien Flynn in the middle.

A powerful general, buoyed by a second with fractured morals, provides early and tangible victories but success brings attention they may not be ready for. Erudite and ruthless cunning stalks the would-be revolutionaries with pragmatism and patience. A threat of extinction that looms over every step forward.

Damien Flynn must draw lots, he must choose a side; the wrong choice could end his life, so could the right one.

The Review

This was such an engaging and rich story. The way the author wrote this book readers were able to get the fantasy feel with this fictional world and countries that many readers will see mirror our own world, but the narrative also gives a healthy dose of history, drama, and action. As a fan of history and the American Revolution as a whole, the attention to detail the author brought out into this narrative shows the parallels between the real-life revolution that birthed the United States and the rebellion of Ricchan. 

The novel’s heart however comes from its rich tapestry of characters. Not only are the interactions and bonds formed between these characters so inviting, but the complexity of this cast of characters is so profound to read as this first novel in the series comes to life. What was also amazing to see was how these characters on all sides of this conflict really highlight the concept of war and the horrors it always wrought in our own world are perfectly mirrored in this narrative, showing how these horrors can happen on either side of a conflict, and the “heroes” of war are not always as apparent as say WWII, where villains like Hitler and the Nazi Regime were so clearly outlined. More often than not, the true “villains” are those few in power who rule a people and force them into these conflicts. 

The Verdict

A mesmerizing, action-fueled, and brilliant historical fantasy novel, author Mark Moore’s “Rise: Birth of a Revolution” is a must-read first novel of the author’s THE RICCHAN CHRONICLES series. The adrenaline-fueled narrative will keep readers not only entertained but engaged in the character’s overall arcs and a shocking twist ending will change the dynamics of the world the author has created leading into the highly anticipated sequel. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Mark Moore began writing his first book in November of 2015. What started as a hobby quickly morphed into a passion that consumed long nights and lunch hours during his day jobs. With the help of his editor, JMR Literary Services, he published his first book, Rise, in November of 2018 and followed it with its sequel, Stand, in December 2020. His current work in progress is a departure from the low-fantasy genre, focusing on more traditional fantasy.

In 2021 Mark also began collecting his thoughts and putting together a writing advice youtube channel which can be found below with the goal of sparing other authors from the mistakes he’s made over the years and sharing what he’s learned.

https://www.marksmoorebooks.com/

https://www.instagram.com/redbeardflynn/

Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/redbeardflynn

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPUuN1cUwQDgJYOdC8Uvccg

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07KJW8RRF/ref=x_gr_w_glide_sin?caller=Goodreads&callerLink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodreads.com%2Fbook%2Fshow%2F43084591-rise%3Fac%3D1%26from_search%3Dtrue%26qid%3Dcudu9hE1yc%26rank%3D2&tag=x_gr_w_glide_sin-20

The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker Review

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

A half Reaper, Half-Shinigami warrior must find her place in the underworld and life as a whole while trying to earn the trust of the Goddess of Death in 1890’s Japan in author Kylie Lee Baker’s “The Keeper of Night”, the first in the series of the same name.

The Synopsis

Julie Kagawa meets Scythe in this captivating and evocative journey into Death’s domain as one soul collector seeks her place in the underworld of 1890s Japan. Book 1 of a planned duology.

Death is her destiny.

Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, Ren Scarborough yearns for the acceptance she has never found among the Reapers who raised her. When the Shinigami powers she can no longer hide force her to flee for her life, Ren and her younger brother—the only being on earth to care for her—travel to Japan and the dark underworld of Yomi, where Ren hopes to claim her place among the Shinigami and finally belong.

But the Goddess of Death is no more welcoming than the Reapers who raised her, and Ren finds herself set on an impossible task—find and kill three yokai demons, and maybe, just maybe, she can earn a place in Death’s service. With only her brother and an untrustworthy new ally by her side, Ren will learn how far she’ll go to win the acceptance she craves, and whether the cost of belonging is worth any sacrifice.

The Review

Wow, that was truly a captivating and visceral reading experience. The author has expertly crafted an original YA Fantasy/Historical Fiction horror tale that will not only entertain audiences but introduce many readers to the rich mythos that exists within Japanese folklore and the culture as a whole. The balance of Asian and European mythology that the author explores is great, but what really is amazing to see is how the European lore is very much a secondary component to the narrative, serving more as a stepping board for the character’s beginning arc rather than taking up the majority of the novel’s mythos. 

The characters were so unique and rich to watch unfold. The protagonist herself was interesting, as she really toed the line between morality and her dark origins the further and further she went on her journey. Seeing how her brother and this new ally of Ren’s served as devil and angel on her shoulders throughout this journey, highlighting the hardship of having others tell you who you are while you are in the middle of trying to decide that for yourself. 

The Verdict

A mesmerizing, haunting, and emotionally driven YA Fantasy and action novel, author Kylie Lee Baker’s “The Keeper of Night” is a must-read novel for YA Fantasy and horror fans this fall! Incorporating truly chilling mythology and brilliant character growth, the shocking final chapter and cliffhanger of an ending will have readers on the edge of their seats, eager for the next entry into this amazing duology. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Kylie Lee Baker grew up in Boston and has since lived in Atlanta, Salamanca, and Seoul. Her writing is informed by her heritage (Japanese, Chinese, and Irish), as well as her experiences living abroad as both a student and teacher. She has a B.A. in Creative Writing and Spanish from Emory University and is currently pursuing a Master of Library and Information Science degree at Simmons University. In her free time, she watches horror movies, plays the cello, and bakes too many cookies. The Keeper of Night is her debut novel.

SOCIAL LINKS:

Author website: https://www.kylieleebaker.com/

Twitter: @KylieYamashiro

Instagram: @kylieleebaker

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56030267-the-keeper-of-night

BUY LINKS:

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/the-keeper-of-night/9781335405661 

Porter Square Books: https://www.portersquarebooks.com/signed/signed-keeper-night-hardcover

Indie Bound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335405661

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-keeper-of-night-kylie-lee-baker/1138317760?ean=9781335405661 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Keeper-Night-duology/dp/1335405666/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=the+keeper+of+night&qid=1613326691&sr=8-2

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kylie_Lee_Baker_The_Keeper_of_Night?id=6asJEAAAQBAJ

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ph/en/ebook/the-keeper-of-night

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/dk/book/the-keeper-of-night/id1540957269

Advertisements

Q&A with Kylie Lee Baker

Q: What was the hardest scene to write in The Keeper of Night? What was the easiest?

A: The opening scene was probably the hardest to write because I had to introduce a complex magic system. The Reapers control time, and that kind of power makes the story vulnerable to a lot of plot holes if you don’t word it carefully. It’s such a powerful tool that it raises the question of why there’s ever any conflict at all, or why any battle is ever hard for Reapers. I needed to address that very early on so the whole world wouldn’t fall apart, while still making the story move forward. 

The easiest scene to write was an argument between Ren and Neven, when Neven tries to dictate Ren’s identity, and Ren responds: “Why am I the only one with no say in who I am?” That was one of the first scenes I wrote, and it contains a lot of my raw feelings about how biracial people are treated. Very little of the dialogue changed from the first draft of that scene. The challenge, then, was to build up the rest of the book to bring the reader to the point where that question, and that very emotionally charged scene, made sense. 

Q: Did you hide any secrets in your book? (names of friends, little jokes, references to things only some people will get)?

A: I wouldn’t really call these hidden secrets, but a lot of details about the British Reapers are a huge nod to the Black Butler anime, which fans of that show might notice. For instance, the Reapers in The Keeper of Night are known for their poor vision, much like the Reapers in Black Butler who all have to wear glasses, which are important details in both stories. Neven’s love of cats came from Sebastian Michaelis, the titular character from Black Butler who is inexplicably obsessed with cats. Another reference (unrelated to Black Butler) is to Alfred Lord Tennyson–Ren often refers vaguely to themes in his poetry, but she’s talking specifically about a poem called “Love and Death” in which love defeats death, which is something she probably should have internalized a bit sooner. 

Q: What do you hope people remember about The Keeper of Night?

A: I hope people remember how complex, traumatic, and powerful Ren’s existence as a biracial character is. I hope that this gives people more respect for the uniqueness of biracial identity, and that biracial readers feel solidarity in their struggles. 

Q: Did The Keeper of Night have a certain soundtrack you listened to while writing?

A: I listened to an acoustic cover of Sia’s “Elastic Heart” and Billie Eilish’s “You Should See Me in a Crown” a lot when writing, because those songs reminded me both of Ren’s vulnerability and thirst for power. I also distinctly remember sitting in a coffee shop in Seoul listening to RM’s “Tokyo” while writing some of the first scenes in Japan. It has a very cold, lonely, wistful atmosphere that I tried to emulate. 

Q: What is your dream cast for The Keeper of Night?

A: This question is hard to answer, partially because I don’t often imagine real people when writing, and partially because the pool of mixed race white/Asian actors who you can discover through a quick Google search is much smaller than for actors of other races, not even taking into account things like age or face shape. The closest I can come for Ren is Pom Klementieff (who plays Mantis) with black hair. I know she’s Korean, not Japanese, but she also grew up estranged from that culture, much like Ren. Timothee Chalamet with blonde hair is probably the closest match for Neven, since I’ve heard a lot of people say he looks like he should have been a wealthy Victorian child, and Terada Takuya for Hiro–he’s very silly at times, and very sharp at other times, much like Hiro. 

Enjoy this Exclusive Excerpt from “The Keeper of Night”

chapter two

At the far edge of London, somewhere between nightmares and formless dreams, the Reapers slept by daylight.

The only way to enter our home was through the catacombs of the Highgate Cemetery, through a door that no longer existed. It had been built there long ago, when the Britons first came to our land and Ankou carved a hole in their world so that Death could enter. But humans had sealed it shut with layers of wood, then stone, then brick and mortar, all in the hopes of keeping Death out.

By the nineteenth century, humans had mostly forgotten about the Door and what it meant. Then, when the London churchyards began to overflow with bones, the humans had searched for a place just outside of London to bury their dead. By chance or fate, they’d built their new cemetery right on top of the Door. It turned out that Death drew all of us close, even if we weren’t aware of it.

No streetlights lit the path through Highgate at night, but I didn’t need them to find my way home. Before I’d even passed through the main gate, Death pulled me closer. All Reapers were drawn to him, our bones magnetized to the place of our forefather. As soon as I entered the cemetery, a humming began just under my skin, like a train’s engine beginning to whir. My blood flushed faster through my veins as I brushed aside the branches of winter-barren lime trees and low-hanging elms. My boots crunched shattering steps into the frosted pathways as I ran.

I stumbled through jagged rows of ice-cracked tombstones on uneven ground and through a village of mausoleums, finally reaching the gothic arched doorway of the catacomb entrance. The pull had grown unbearable, dragging me along in a dizzy trance as I descended the stairs into the cool quietness of damp bricks and darkness. The labyrinth would have been unnavigable if not for the fervent pull.

At last, my hands came out to touch the wall where the Door used to be, but now there were only damp bricks and an inscription on the arch overhead that read When Ankou comes, he will not go away empty in rigid script. I dug one hand into my pocket and clutched my clock, pressed my other hand to the bricks, then closed my eyes and turned time all the way back to the beginning.

Time flowed through the silver-and-gold gears, up into my bloodstream and through my fingertips, dispersing into the brick wall. Centuries crumbled away, the mortar growing wet and bricks falling loose. One by one, they leaped out of their positions in the wall and aligned themselves in dry stacks on the ground, waiting once again for construction. Objects were easy to manipulate with time, for I could draw from their own intrinsic energy rather than siphoning off my own. Rather than paying in years of my own life, I could borrow years before the bricks crumbled and quickly repay the debt when I put them back.

I stepped through the doorway and the pull released me all at once. I breathed in a deep gasp of the wet night air, then turned around and sealed the door behind me. The bricks jumped back to their positions in the wall, caked together by layers of mortar that dried instantly, the time debt repaid.

The catacombs beyond the threshold spanned infinitely forward, appropriated as resting places for Reapers rather than corpses. Mounted lanterns cast a faint light onto the dirt floors and gray bricks. It was almost Last Toll, so only the last Reapers returning from the night shift still milled around, their silver capes catching the dim light of the tunnels, but most had retreated to their private quarters for the morning.

I turned right and hurried down the block. The low ceilings gave way to high-arched doorways and finally opened up to a hall of echoing marble floors and rows of dark wood desks. Luckily, there was no line for Collections this close to Last Toll.

I hurried to the first Collector and all but slammed my vials into the tray, jolting him awake in his seat. He was a younger Reaper and seemed perplexed at having been awoken so unceremoniously. When his gaze landed on me, he frowned and sat up straight.

“Ren Scarborough,” I said, pushing the tray closer to him.

“I know who you are,” he said, picking up my first vial and uncapping it with deliberate slowness. Of course, everyone knew who I was.

He took a wholly unnecessary sniff of the vial before holding it up to the light to examine the color, checking its authenticity. The Collectors recorded every night’s soul intake before sending the vials off to Processing, where they finally released the souls into Beyond. He picked up a pen from his glass jar of roughly thirty identical pens, tapped it against the desk a few times, then withdrew a leather-bound ledger from a drawer. He dropped it in front of him, opened the creaky cover, and began flipping through the pages, one by one, until he reached a fresh one.

I resisted the urge to slam my face against the desk in impatience.

I really didn’t have time to waste, but Collections was a necessary step. I didn’t consider myself benevolent in times of crisis, but even I was above leaving souls to expire in glass tubes instead of releasing them to their final resting place, wherever that was. And besides, a blank space next to my name in the Collections ledger meant a Collector would pay a visit to my private quarters to reprimand me. The last thing I needed was someone realizing that I’d left before Ivy could even report me.

But when the Collector uncorked my fourth vial and held it up to the lamp, swirling it in the light for ten excruciating seconds, I began to wonder if I’d made the right decision.

The bells of Last Toll reverberated through the bricks all around us, humming through the marble floors. In this hazy hour between night and day, the church grims came out in search of Reaper bones to gnaw on. Night collections had to be turned in by then, while day collections had to be processed by the First Toll at dusk.

The Collector sighed as he picked up my fifth vial. “I’m afraid I’ll have to mark your collections as late.”

My jaw clenched. “Why.”

“It’s past Last Toll, of course,” he said.

My fingers twitched. The lamp on the Collector’s desk flickered with my impatience, but I took a steadying breath.

“I was here before Last Toll,” I said, trying to keep my voice even.

“According to my ledger, your collections still have not been processed,” he said, spinning my fifth vial in his left hand.

I sighed and closed my eyes. Of course, I knew what he was doing. Chastising a “latecomer” would earn praise from higher management. It was the easiest way for him to climb the ranks—to exert his power over the half-breed. He would be praised for his steadfastness and gain a reputation as a strict and immovable Collector, while I could do nothing to complain. I could explode his lamp and send glass shards into his eyes, but that wouldn’t make him process my vials any faster. The fastest way to get out of there was subservience.

“Forgive me, Reaper,” I said, bowing my head and dropping my shoulders. I let my voice sound timid and afraid. “I apologize for being late.”

The Collector blinked at me for a moment, as if surprised that I’d given in so quickly. But he looked young and power-hungry and not particularly perceptive, so I wasn’t too afraid that he’d see through my tactic. As expected, he sneered as if I truly had offended him, finally beginning to process the fifth vial.

“It’s a great inconvenience to both Collections and Processing,” he said, “though I wouldn’t expect a half-breed to understand the workings of the educated Reapers.”

The only believable response to his goading was humiliated silence, so I hung my head even further and tried to make myself as small and pathetic as possible. It wasn’t hard, because the memory of the night’s events was still wringing my heart out like a wet rag and my skin prickled with nerves so fiercely that I wanted to claw it all off and escape before Ivy could find me, yet here I was, brought to my knees before a glorified teller. I imagined being a High Reaper, being able to reach over and smash his face into his blotter and shatter his owlish glasses into his eyes for delaying and insulting me.

His lamp flickered more violently and he paused to smack it before finally finishing with my last vial. He placed all seven in a tray and pressed a button that started the conveyor belt, sending the souls down to Processing. The moment he put a black check next to my name in the ledger, I stood up straight and turned to leave.

His hand twisted into my sleeve, yanking me back.

I shot him a look that could have melted glass, but he only pulled me closer.

“There’s the matter of your sanction,” he said.

“My sanction,” I said, glancing around the office to see how many people would notice if I simply twisted the Collector’s neck. Too many.

“For your tardiness, of course,” he said, smirking sourly. From his position stretched across the desk, the lamplight caught in his glasses and turned them into two beaming white moons.

The standard punishment for failing to make curfew was a night on the pillory, hands and feet nailed to the wood and head locked in a hole that was just slightly too tight, letting you breathe but not speak. The other Reapers could pull your hair or pour mead over your head or call you a thousand names when you couldn’t talk back. But the worst part wasn’t the nails or the insults. It was the Reapers who did nothing but look at you and sneer like you were nothing but an ugly piece of wall art, like they were so perfect that they couldn’t fathom being in your place. And far worse than that was my own father and stepmother walking past me and pretending not to see.

“Come back at First Toll,” the Collector said. “We’ll find a nice place to hang you up by the Door.”

It took every ounce of restraint I had left to keep my expression calm. This was the part where I was supposed to say, Yes, Reaper, and bow, but he was lucky that I hadn’t smashed his glasses into his face with my fist.

As if he could smell my defiance, he pulled me closer. His glasses fell out of the lamplight, revealing a deep frown.

“Scrub that look from your face,” he said. “Remember that I’ll handle your collections in the future.”

The future, I thought.

Luckily, I didn’t have a future.

The light bulb flashed with a sudden surge of power, then burst. Glass shards rained down over the desk, forcing the man to release me as hot glass scored his hands. Some of his paperwork caught fire, and he frantically patted out the flames with hands full of shards.

“Yes, Reaper,” I said, bowing deeply so he wouldn’t see my smirk as he sputtered about “bloody light bulbs, I knew we should have kept the gas lamps.”

Then I turned and rushed off to the West Catacombs.

Excerpted from The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker, Copyright © 2021 by Kylie Lee Baker. Published by Inkyard Press. 

Before We Disappear by Shaun David Hutchinson Audiobook Review

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

A young man must decide between the woman who has given him a home and the young man who has stolen his heart in turn of the 19th century America in author Shaun David Hutchinson’s “Before We Disappear”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

It’s a new star-crossed romance about the magic of first love from the acclaimed author of We Are the Ants and Brave Face, Shaun David Hutchinson.

Jack Nevin’s clever trickery and moral flexibility make him the perfect assistant to the Enchantress, one of the most well-known stage magicians in turn-of-the-nineteenth-century Europe. Without Jack’s steady supply of stolen tricks, the Enchantress’s fame would have burned out long ago.

But when Jack’s thievery catches up to them, they’re forced to flee to America to find their fortune. Luckily, the Enchantress is able to arrange a set of sold-out shows at Seattle’s Alaska–Yukon–Pacific World’s Fair Exposition. She’s convinced they’re going to rich and famous until a new magician arrives on the scene. Performing tricks that defy the imagination, Laszlo’s show overshadows the Enchantress, leaving Jack no choice but to hunt for the secrets to his otherworldly illusions. But what Jack uncovers isn’t at all what he expected.

Behind Laszlo’s tricks is Wilhelm—a boy that can seemingly perform real magic. Jack and Wilhelm have an instant connection, and as the rivalry between the Enchantress and Laszlo grows, so too does Jack and Wilhelm’s affection. But can Jack choose between the woman who gave him a life and the boy who is offering him everything?

It’s a stirring tale about the magic of love from award-winning author Shaun David Hutchinson.

The Review

This was such a magical read (pun intended)! The author does an incredible job of crafting an alternate history setting with a magical realism story element while still incorporating the hardships and struggles of not only that era but the struggles of the youth in the LGBTQ community. The theme of family and finding one’s place in the world was felt in every chapter of this book, and really captured the heart of the narrative.

The characters were so engaging to read. The alternating perspective of protagonists Jack and Willhelm were so interesting to see unfold, as they came from very different paths in life by the time they found one another, and yet found a sense of belonging and home within one another’s lives. The background of magic, both real and more illusion-based, was fascinating to see unfold, especially considering the era of the narrative.

The Verdict

A brilliant, heartfelt, and engaging YA Magical and LGBTQ Historical Fiction, author Shaun David Hutchinson’s “Before We Disappear” is a must-read (and listen) book of 2021.  The perfect book to grab as we head into the fall season, the balance of history, magic, and LGBTQ-forward romance was amazing to see in this novel, and I look forward to reading more of this amazing author’s work. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Born in West Palm Beach, Florida, Shaun grew up twenty minutes north in the town of Jupiter. He has three brothers (two older, one younger) and a half-sister.

Shaun attended Jupiter High School before going on to Florida Atlantic University, where he studied medieval and renaissance literature. Shaun has also studied emergency medicine, gaining his EMT certification, and firefighting. Ultimately, he ended up working with computers designing databases, building apps, and coding websites before publishing his first book, The Deathday Letter.

Shaun currently lives in Seattle, WA and works full time as an author. In his free time, he enjoys baking, running, designing 3D environments for virtual reality, and reading.

http://shaundavidhutchinson.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Before-We-Disappear/dp/B08TSPMKS2/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1632448823&sr=8-1

Water Sight (Last of the Gifted Book 2) by Marie Powell Review

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

As the Kingdom of England threatens to take over Wales, two siblings must use their magic gifts to save their home. Yet one must choose to save their sibling, or the love of their life, in author Marie Powell’s “Water Sight”, the second book in the Last of the Gifted series. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

Wales, 1283: A world at war

Catrin can see the future in a drop of water.

Her brother Hyw can take the shape of any bird or animal.

Only their magic can thwart the invading English forces determined to bring down the country.

The Prince of Wales needs three magical relics to rally the straggling Welsh forces. Catrin’s gift of Second Sight may be the only hope for success—if she can outwit the English lord who wants to use her gift to capture the prince.

Her brother Hyw is on the run with the prince and the dwindling Welsh army. To escape the betrayal dogging their heels, Hyw takes refuge in his evolving gift—until shifting shapes puts his humanity in jeopardy.

With Hyw trapped in his magic and her betrothed in an English jail, Catrin faces an impossible choice: save her brother, or save the man she loves.

The Review

An incredible read, author Marie Powell showcases a strong mastery of the fantasy/historical fiction style storytelling that has become so popular over the years. The protagonists, brother and sister Hyw and Cat, are well rounded, and the author does an amazing job of highlighting the well-rounded nature of each hero, flaws and all. 

The emotional core of the story is Cat’s struggle to not only save her people but protect her brother and the man she loves all at the same time while helping to fight off the English invaders led by King Edward. The amount of history the author was able to incorporate into the narrative was amazing. As a history buff, it was incredible to learn more about the era before Wales officially became part of England, when revolts were fought to maintain their independence and kingdom. The fantasy elements feel natural as the story progresses, as each hero’s power leads to difficult choices that many readers will be able to identify with. 

The Verdict

An amazingly written, emotionally driven, and fantasy-fueled read, author Marie Powell’s second entry into the Last of the Gifted series, “Water Sight”, is a must-read for fans of the historical fiction/fantasy genres. Action-packed and evenly paced, this is the perfect end of 2020 fantasy book for all readers, but especially fans of the YA genre. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Marie Powell’s castle-hopping across North Wales to explore her family roots resulted in her YA historical fantasy Spirit Sight (Last of the Gifted Book 1). Book 2, Water sight, will be released in fall 2020. Among other degrees, she holds a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing from the University of BC. Marie lives on Treaty 4 land in Regina, Saskatchewan, and her writing workshops are popular across the region.

What the Wind Brings by Matthew Hughes Review

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

Three individuals in the sixteenth century find themselves brought together after a shipwreck brings escaped African slaves together with local indigenous people on coastal Ecuador to face the Spanish and become an independent state in author Matthew Hughes historical fiction novel, “What the Wind Brings”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

In the mid 1500s shipwrecked African slaves melded with the indigenous peoples of coastal Ecuador and together they fought the Spanish colonial power to a standstill, to remain independent for centuries. The story of the people of Esmeraldas is told through the eyes of three characters: Alonso, an escaped slave; Expectation, an a-gender shaman; and Alejandro, a priest on the run from the Inquisition. With its slipstream elements this novel carries a flavor of South American magical realism tradition into a grand historical epic. Both sweeping and intimate, it is a delight to read from beginning to end.

The Review

The author does a fantastic job of crafting a narrative that draws its strength from intricate and memorable characters. The use of historical figures as the protagonists was an inspired choice and made it easier for readers to connect with the characters overall. 

What really makes this story stand out is the time period for which the narrative is based around. The setting of 16th century South America and the tumultuous time that came from the Spanish colonization efforts that resulted in conquered peoples, enslavement, and eventually rebellion and bloodshed gave readers a rarely seen point in time to learn about and connect with. The strength it took for the African escaped slaves and the indigenous people to come together and face the many obstacles they did to become an independent state are fascinating to read about.

The Verdict

A lengthy yet powerful read, author Matthew Hughes’s novel “What the Wind Brings” is a must-read historical fiction read. The way the author took in the various belief systems and cultures of those involved in the narrative and how they both clashed and came together made this a one-of-a-kind story. This is a fascinating read that will engage with readers who love history, so be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Born in Liverpool, his family moved to Canada when he was five years old. Married since late 1960s, he has three grown sons. He is currently relocated to Britain. He is a former director of the Federation of British Columbia Writers.

A university drop-out from a working poor background, he worked in a factory that made school desks, drove a grocery delivery truck, was night janitor in a GM dealership, and did a short stint as an orderly in a private mental hospital. As a teenager, he served a year as a volunteer with the Company of Young Canadians.

He has made his living as a writer all of his adult life, first as a journalist in newspapers, then as a staff speechwriter to the Canadian Ministers of Justice and Environment, and, since 1979, as a freelance corporate and political speechwriter in British Columbia.

His short fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’sAsimov’sThe Magazine of Fantasy & Science FictionPostscriptsInterzone, and a number of “Year’s Best” anthologies. Night Shade Books published his short story collection, The Gist Hunter and Other Stories, in 2005.

He has won the Arthur Ellis Award from the Crime Writers of Canada. His novels and stories regularly make the Locus Magazine annual recommended reading list.

http://www.matthewhughes.org

Pestilence (Second Son Chronicles Volume 3) by Pamela Taylor

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

Alfred, also known as the Second Son, must challenge all he has ever known to fulfill his father’s dream of keeping his kingdom safe from his power-mad brother in author Pamela Taylor’s novel “Pestilence”, the third volume of the Second Son Chronicles. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

At the dawn of the Renaissance, Alfred – the eponymous second son – must discover the special destiny foreseen for him by his grandfather. Now, the unthinkable has happened: Alfred’s brother is king. And it isn’t long before everyone’s worst fears are realized. Traditional allegiances are shattered under a style of rule unknown since the grand bargain that formed the kingdom was struck over two hundred years ago. These will be the most dangerous years of Alfred’s life, forcing him to re-examine his duty to personal honor and to the kingdom, while the threats posed by his brother constantly remind him of his father’s final words of advice. What choices will he have to make to try to protect the things he holds most dear?

The Review

As a fan of ancient history, especially the age of the Vikings and the Angelo-Saxon days of early Europe, it was a treat to see a setting in a similar fashion take center stage in this amazing read. Although I have not read the previous two entries in the series, the book does an excellent job of creating a story and atmosphere that holds strong on its own, although for character reference it is probably a good idea to read the first two books. 

The author beautifully captured the tone and feel of a classic tale of ancient kingdoms and knights, warring kings, and politically driven family dramas. Although a fictional setting, the influence of history is evident in every page of this book and creates a unique flow of the story as the characters grow and evolve throughout this story.

The Verdict

A must-read novel, author Pamela Taylor has a smith hit with Pestilence, the third book in her Second Son Chronicles. Evenly paced and entertaining, the novel does a great job of leaving readers on the edge of their seats and sets up a cliffhanger ending that should take readers deep into the future of the series. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Pestilence is available to purchase as a print copy and as an e-book at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. Be sure to add this to your GoodReads reading list too!

Advertisements

About the Author

Pamela Taylor brings her love of history to the art of storytelling in the Second Son Chronicles. An avid reader of historical fact and fiction, she finds the past offers rich sources for character, ambiance, and plot that allow readers to escape into a world totally unlike their daily lives. She shares her home with two Corgis who frequently reminder her that a dog walk is the best way to find inspiration for that next chapter.

You can follow her online at:

Author Website: https://pamela-taylor.com

Series Website: https://www.SecondSonChronicles.com

Twitter: @PJTAuthor

Instagram: PJTAuthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheSecondSonChronicles

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/51487326

Advertisements

Blog Tour Dates

June 22nd @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Join us as we celebrate the launch of Pamela Taylor’s blog tour for her book Pestilence. You can read an interview with the author and enter to win the first three books in her series “The Second Son Chronicles.”

http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

June 23rd @ Lisa Haselton’s Review and Interviews

Stop by Lisa’s blog today where she interviews author Pamela Taylor about her book Pestilence.

http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/

June 24th @ Rebecca Whitman’s Blog

Visit Rebecca’s blog today and you can read Pamela Taylor’s guest post discussing the allegory (themes) embedded in the narrative of Pestilence specifically and the Chronicles generally.

https://rebeccawhitman.wordpress.com/

June 25th @ A.J. Sefton’s Blog

Visit A.J. Sefton’s blog and read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://www.ajsefton.com/book-reviews

June 26th @ Jill Sheet’s Blog

Visit Jill’s blog today and read Pamela Taylor’s guest post about getting historical details accurate.

http://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

June 27th @ Storeybook Reviews

Join Leslie today as she shares Pamela Taylor’s guest post about her life with corgis.

https://storeybookreviews.com/

June 28th @ Reading is My Remedy

Visit Chelsie’s blog today and you can read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://readingismyremedy.wordpress.com/

June 29th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit Anthony’s blog today and you can read Pamela Taylor’s guest post about the authors and books that inspired the creation of the Chronicles.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

June 30th @ The Burgeoning Bookshelf

Visit Veronica’s blog today and you can read a guest post by Pamela Taylor about the trap of linguistic anachronism – getting the language and word usage right for historical narratives.

https://theburgeoningbookshelf.blogspot.com/

July 1st @ Rebecca Whitman’s Blog

Visit Rebecca’s blog again and you can read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://rebeccawhitman.wordpress.com/

July 2nd @ 12 Books

Visit Louise’s blog today and read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://12books.co.uk/

July 3rd @ What is that Book About?

Visit Michelle’s blog today and you can check out a spotlight of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://www.whatisthatbookabout.com/

July 5th @ The New England Book Critic

Visit Vickie’s blog today and read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://thenewenglandbookcritic.com/

July 6th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit Anthony’s blog today and read his review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

July 7th @ Fiona Ingram’s Blog

Join Fiona Ingram today when she shares Pamela Taylor’s guest post about data encryption in ancient times.

https://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

July 8th @ Bev A. Baird

Visit Bev’s blog today and read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

July 9th @ To Write or Not to Write

Visit Sreevarsha’s blog and read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://sreevarshasreejith.blogspot.com/

July 10th @ Thoughts in Progress

Visit Mason Canyon’s blog today and you can read a guest post by Pamela Taylor about deriving details for your setting from historical maps.

https://masoncanyon.blogspot.com/

July 11th @ Books & Plants

Visit Ashley’s blog and read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://booksbeansandbotany.com/

July 11th @ A Darn Good Read

Join Yvonne as she reviews Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://adarngoodread.blogspot.com/

July 14th @ Knotty Needle

Visit Judy’s blog and read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

http://knottyneedle.blogspot.com/

July 15th @ World of My Imagination

Visit Nicole’s blog and read Pamela Taylor’s guest post about period-appropriate names for characters.

http://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com

July 17th @ Books & Plants

Visit Ashley’s blog and read Pamela Taylor’s guest post about ways to do historical research.

https://booksbeansandbotany.com/

July 18th @ Bookworm Blog

Stop by Anjanette’s blog today where you can read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence. Plus you can read an interview with the author!

https://bookworm66.wordpress.com/

July 20th @ Coffee with Lacey

Visit Lacey’s blog where you can read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://coffeewithlacey.com/

July 24th @ Medievalists

Stop by Medievalists where you can check out a spotlight of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://www.medievalists.net/

July 25th @ Boots, Shoes, and Fashion

Stop by Linda’s blog today and read her extensive interview with author Pamela Taylor about her book Pestilence.

http://bootsshoesandfashion.com/

July 25th @ Reading in the Wildwood

Join Megan today and read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://readinginthewildwood.com/

Nefer Blue Phoenix by Micah Patton Review

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

A young warrior haunted by the events of her past must fight to reclaim what is rightfully hers and protect her family along the way in author Micah Patton’s “Nefer Blue Phoenix”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

We all fear the unknown. Scared of never achieving the ultimate dream. On an island of ancient super beings lives a warrior haunted by attaining one goal. Kill every rebel responsible for stripping an innocent child’s family of their throne. They left the empire decorated in death and gave birth to a warrior hellbent on restoring the rightful order of the nation. But will the warrior go as far as to risk forsaking friends? Family? The gods themselves? Absolutely…

In a land of magic, pharaohs, and thrones, one warrior will discover just how treacherous they will have to become to achieve the ultimate goal. Power. Welcome to the island nation of Serenium. Where the quest for power is a must. The ability to lose it is just a scandal away. When the rich and powerful cry. They kill.

The Review

This is a fantastic historical fiction/fantasy novel that delves deep into a world of gods and royalty in the days of Ancient Egypt. In the Kingdom of Serenium, a young woman born to avenge her fallen parents and retake the throne that was meant to be hers must play a dangerous game of deceit, power and even battle amongst the new Pharaohs and the royalty surrounding them. 

The mythology really takes center stage here, mixing with the political drama of the narrative that showcases the dangerous rise to power one must take and the powerful individuals the protagonist must overcome in order to achieve it. The introduction and use of the gods and the Divinity was a nice inclusion in this fantasy narrative, bringing a sense of otherworldly wonder into the bloody, sexual and tense drama of the royal court and all it’s backstabbing that comes with it. 

The Verdict

A well written, lengthy yet well executed narrative, the story of Nefer Blue Phoenix by Micah Patton is a must watch for anyone who enjoys ancient mythology, fantasy, history and political drama. Action packed, character driven and a fun read overall, be sure to grab your copy of this amazing novel on April 10th, 2020! 

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

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

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1476798672/ref=x_gr_w_glide_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_glide_bb-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1476798672&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

About the Author

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

https://toscalee.com/

https://twitter.com/ToscaLee

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorToscaLee

https://www.instagram.com/toscalee/

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

The Progeny (Descendants of the House of Bathory #1) 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 legend of one of history’s most notorious female serial killers turns into a full blown conspiracy in author Tosca Lee’s highly acclaimed novel The Progeny (Descendants of the House of Bathory #1). A thrilling historical fiction/fantasy takes readers into the life of one young woman with a mysterious past she has to piece together and learn who she can trust before those who hunt her finally catch up. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

New York Times bestselling author Tosca Lee brings a modern twist to an ancient mystery surrounding the most notorious female serial killer of all time. A fast-paced thriller for fans of Ted Dekker’s The Books of Mortals, Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, and BBC America’s hit series Orphan Black.

Emily Jacobs is the descendant of a serial killer. Now, she’s become the hunted.

She’s on a quest that will take her to the secret underground of Europe and the inner circles of three ancient orders—one determined to kill her, one devoted to keeping her alive, and one she must ultimately save.

Filled with adrenaline, romance, and reversals, The Progeny is the present-day saga of a 400-year-old war between the uncanny descendants of “Blood Countess” Elizabeth Bathory, the most prolific female serial killer of all time, and a secret society dedicated to erasing every one of her descendants. A story about the search for self filled with centuries-old intrigues against the backdrop of atrocity and hope.

The Review

As a fan of history and in particular the story of Elizabeth Bathory, this book immediately fascinated me. The idea that the families of her victims could have vowed to hunt down her entire lineage is interesting, as it explores what happens when the descendants of the famed Blood Countess become the victims and the families of her victims become monsters just like her. The supernatural elements brought the fantasy elements to life in a natural way for this historical fiction, and made the story flow at an even pace.

The characters are what really made this story shine however. From protagonist Emily Jacobs and her struggle to learn who she really is, to the back and forth struggle to learn who to trust, and who to fear, these characters really drew the reader in with heartfelt storylines and action-fueled chases around the world.

The Verdict

This is a must read first book in what promises to be a phenomenal two book series. Fans of history, true crime serial killer legends and fantasy will fall in love with Tosca Lee’s story of survival, love and the journey to learn the truth. Who is Emily Jacobs? Who was Elizabeth Bathory really? Pick up your copy of The Progeny by Tosca Lee to find out!

Rating: 10/10

https://www.amazon.com/Progeny-Novel-Descendants-House-Bathory-ebook/dp/B010MH9YUW?keywords=tosca+lee&qid=1540774411&sr=8-2&ref=sr_1_2

About the Author

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

https://toscalee.com/

https://twitter.com/ToscaLee

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorToscaLee

https://www.instagram.com/toscalee/

Check out my review of the second book in the series, Firstborn, here!