Book Review: A Court of Honey and Ash (The Honey and Ice Series Book 1) by Kelly St. Clare and Shannon Mayer

A Court of Honey and Ash (The Honey and Ice Series Book 1) by Kelly St. Clare and Shannon Mayer

A Fantasy Novel published by Hijinks Ink Publishing (07/06/21)

 

Summary:

“Pride and iron. Both destructive to the fae in ways I knew all too well.” (51% Kindle edition).

Alli is half-human and half-fae. She is an outcast in the fae society and grew up in the orphanage after her human mother died. She won’t let the prejudices of the fae keep her from training to be one of the best fighters so she can place highly in the fae society. She is on an upward trajectory in life, overcoming the circumstances of her birth, when the ancestral home of the fae disappears and she’s the one being blamed. She has no choice but to flee. The only way to clear her name is to find out what really happened to Underhill.

Keywords:

Fantasy, Metaphysical, New Adult, Folklore, Fairy, Fae, Alaska, Friendship, Romance, Fighting, Power, King and Queen, Realm, Magic

My Review:

I almost put this book down in the first few chapters. It was written like the middle of a book, a movie’s musical montage of a hero’s final test. I really, really wanted more intriguing sensory details and character building in these first few chapters. Because the narrative moved so fast, I didn’t feel like I really connected with Allie, nor did I understand or empathize with her. The author tells me that Allie is somewhat of a loner, an outcast in society, but she has some very loyal friends – a best friend even. Allie is supposed to be an underdog, someone to root for, someone with a lot to overcome and prove to her society but she didn’t feel like much of an underdog. She has amazing fighting skills, great friends, and the fae/humans who aren’t prejudiced immediately like and help her. I didn’t feel much of a connection to Allie.

I didn’t like how Cinth was described every time she appeared. The sexualization/overly physical descriptions were disconcerting. Most of the physical descriptions were concentrated on her chest. Cinth seemed like a simplified character and I wanted more personality and background on her. I wanted more character building in general from this novel.

The way the plot is revealed slowly as Allie tries to figure out what happened to Underhill and the mystery behind all the secrets of the fae kept me reading until the end. The hint of romance was the most intriguing part of the book. I think my favorite character was Drake. He seemed like he had the most interesting backstory and I really, really enjoyed every scene with him and Allie.

I really liked the plot twist that connects Alli to Underhill and thought this twist was very creative and gave the plot a deeper level of fascination.

This novel was published by Hijinks Ink Publishing on 7/6/2021 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.75

 

Links for more information:

Kelly St. Clare’s Website

Shannon Mayer’s Website

Facebook

Goodreads

Book Review: These Violent Nights by Rebecca Crunden

These Violent Nights by Rebecca Crunden

A Dark Romantic Fantasy Novel Independently published (03/31/21)

Summary:

“The eyes gave away most. Even humans.” (Location 754).

Thistle and Thorn are some of the last remaining free humans on Earth. The arrival of aliens from a tear in the fabric of the universe was the end of humans’ topping the food chain. The aliens, Suriias, have several different species but most are of the same mindset – that humans are lesser beings, pets, and sometimes food.

Thistle and Thorn have survived their whole lives in hiding, but they are determined to find their parents’ killer in the capital city of Courtenz. In order to navigate more freely, they decide to attach themselves to a pair of Suriias, Thistle as fiancée and Thorn as a tagalong. Thistle embraces this new life, this chance at normalcy, but Thorn is convinced that Suriias can only ever be the enemy.

Keywords:

Magic, Aliens, Technology, Flying Cars, Multiple Worlds, Multiple POV, Sisters, Brothers, Friends, Love, Romance, Sacrifice, Revenge, Fighting, Death

My Review:

I’m reticent to read fantasy and longer novels because they often drag, but this book didn’t feel like it was 600+ pages long. This book read like a satisfying trilogy all-in-one and I’m glad the author took time to give it proper pacing and an exciting and gratifying ending.

Another reason I’m reticent to read fantasy is that it takes me longer than with other genres to get into the story. I fell in love with the characters of this world before I fell in love with the world, but I was soon hooked on the world with its technology and magic. After getting through the first chapter, I couldn’t put this story down.

This novel is like two stories in one, but I was caught off guard when halfway through the book we leave Thorn’s story behind to focus on Lucian (I may have made an indignant sound at this point). I was so very, very engrossed in Thorn’s story that I didn’t want to leave her behind, though I quickly decided that I wanted more of Lucian’s story.

Crunden took no shortcuts and didn’t fall into quick stereotypes with her characters and her romances. I love the way she writes her characters and builds a romance.

This was an exceptional story with enticing characters and a seamlessly flowing writing style.

I can’t wait to read the next novel by this author!

This novel was Independently published on 03/31/2021 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.00

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Rebecca Crunden’s Website

Book Review: At the Cabin (Supernatural Detective Agency Book 1) by Claudia Blood

At the Cabin (Supernatural Detective Agency Book 1) by Claudia Blood

A Paranormal Suspense Novel published by Dragon Bane Publishing (04/15/21)

Summary:

“Money was great, but what she really wanted was a heist so big that it could never be talked about. A heist so big, it was a whisper and the person who’d pulled it off was elevated to the best of the best. A heist so big it didn’t matter if she wasn’t human.” (Kindle edition).

Supernatural beings live amongst humans and not everyone knows. Ex-FBI Todd is a simple carpenter now, but he can recognize a real threat when he sees one. Laura owns the local dog rescue. Everything has been going so well with Peter, her boyfriend, and Kate’s help at the shelter that when it all goes up in flames, she’ll be blindsided. Todd and Laura, two strangers, will have to team up to survive.

Keywords:

Mob, Suspense, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Contemporary, Heist, Money, Attack, Mystery, Arson, Dog Rescue, Threat, Target

My Review:

This book is different from other supernatural books. It’s different from other mystery books. It’s different from other heist books. It’s different from other urban fantasy books. It’s a little bit of all these subgenres and then some. I don’t typically read books from any of these subgenres but the first paragraph in the story pulled me in and I left all my preconceptions behind.

It was the idea that intrigued me so much. It was the word, ‘doppelganger’ that pulled me in. It was more than just the mystery of trying to figure out who is who and what is what that fascinated me. The first chapter is so well crafted, I didn’t care what kind of book I was reading. I had to know more.

I wanted to know who really was the antagonist – because at first I couldn’t tell.

The hot hint of romance also had me at the edge of my seat. I was very much on board with a romance happening during the heist of the century.

This novel was published by Dragon Bane Publishing on 04/15/2021 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.50

Links for more information:

Claudia Blood’s Website

Goodreads

Book Review: Flicker of the Flame: A YA Epic Fantasy (The Outlawed Myth Book 2) by Evelyn Puerto

Flicker of the Flame: A YA Epic Fantasy (The Outlawed Myth Book 2) by Evelyn Puerto

A YA Fantasy novel published by Open Water Books (2/17/2021)

Summary:

Tereka just wants her mother’s approval, to fit in, and to be loved. There are things her Da hasn’t told her about who she really is and why there are secrets about her and a mysterious prophecy. Secrets that keep her safe and keep her from being Taken. After being kicked out of her mother’s house, Tereka will live with her Da and work as a trader. Keep her head down. Follow the rules. But will she be able to keep her tongue against the mounting unfairness and struggles against her Aunt Juquila’s ironclad rule over their village? As the threats against Tereka mount, will she choose to embrace her destiny or keep her head down?

Keywords:

Fantasy, Travel, Journey, Risk, Attack, Flee, Hide, Town, Secrets, Dystopian, Power, Prophecies, Rulers, Guardians, Guards, Peace, Safety, Love, Friendship

My Review:

What happened to Iskra from book one? This second book starts off with a new protagonist – Tereka. The author cleverly brings us back into this fantasy/dystopic world with a new character who I fall in love with almost at once. Tereka is an underdog – full of life and spirit and questions. She is stubborn about being fair and honest. As Tereka slowly uncovers the dishonesty and immoral behavior of those in power around her, she will begin to question her upbringing and the society she lives in – much like Iskra did in book one. But Tereka just wants to succeed. To be a trader with her Da and show everyone that she can follow the rules and be a good trader. Except they won’t give her a chance.

I absolutely loved how this book two reintroduces us to this well-built fantasy world and their semi-dystopic environment where everyone is supposed to be equal (but of course they’re not). Book two also does not seem to acknowledge book one until Tereka learns of her own secret and goes to meet the Riskers. I realized that one of the characters was actually from book one!

Tereka is a worthy underdog and Chosen One. She is headstrong and powerful. She believes in her convictions but is willing to step into someone else’s shoes and empathize with them. She gives those around her a chance to be good people and make good choices.

The book was well-paced and picked up momentum more and more as the plot unraveled. I love how Tereka grew into her role over the course of the book, along with the help of her family and the friends she made along the way, as well as the power of the amulets. Tereka reminds me of Katniss from the Hunger Games. Tereka has a rebellious streak, especially when it comes to being a good person. She is also a great archer, courageous, and has the ability to rally those around her to her cause.

This novel was published by Open Water Books 2/17/2021 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 5.0

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Twitter

Evelyn Puerto’s Website

Book Review: The Alien in the Backseat by Phillip Scott

The Alien in the Backseat by Phillip Scott

A Science Fiction/Satire Fiction novel published by Independently published (10/16/2020)

First reviewed through Reedsy Discovery

Summary:

Jake doesn’t necessarily lead a boring life, but he has his routine. Hang out with his girlfriend, have a beer at the local bar with his best friend, and go to work. Then the inevitable happens and his girlfriend breaks up with him. Jake still has routine nights with his friend and a locally crafted beer as well as the usual at work. Jake accepts his life for what it is, until he discovers the alien in the backseat of his car. Upsetting his typical day, Jake decides to seize this opportunity and take a road trip with the alien. It should be simple to drive from North Carolina to Florida, except this trip is anything but routine. Jake already took a leap of faith when he agreed to bring the alien to Florida, but he’ll start to doubt his decision and the alien when he finds out more than just the feds are in pursuit.

Keywords:

Satire, Science Fiction, Aliens, Road Trip, North Carolina, Florida, Federal Agents, Destruction, Fireworks, Friendship

My Review:

The Alien in the Backseat is a delightful space comedy/road trip that takes place almost entirely between North Carolina and Florida. The writing is concise and the plot is straightforward and fun. This story is told by several characters, but the main character is Jake Whitman. He continuously tells the reader that he likes his routine and isn’t one to take chances or put himself out there, yet his actions speak differently. Jake wants to break out of his routine life. He wants to have an adventure, but he’s never really pushed himself before. The alien that randomly chooses his car to take a nap in is just the push Jake needs to let go of his daily habits. He already lost his girlfriend, so what else does he have to lose? Jake keeps telling us that he’s uncomfortable in the situations this road trip keeps thrusting him into, but he does seem to handle disaster and aliens quite well. I enjoyed the contrast between how Jake viewed himself and how he acted. Some chapters featured other characters’ points of view, like the reporter who is also stuck in a dead-end job, a federal agent, and an alien. These chapters helped to create more tension and elevated the humor present in the back and forth between characters.

The writing style immediately caught my attention. From the first page, I was hooked by the witty use of words and phrases. The prose was delightfully entertaining. The first chapter was the perfect starting point to the narrative. The narrative style and the presence of aliens reminded me of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Science is not at the forefront of this science fiction novel, but instead, the novel focuses on a fun story and the humor in the situations and between the characters. Sometimes the deadpan delivery was so surprising that I had to laugh. If you enjoyed the humor and the outrageous aliens in the Men in Black series, you will surely appreciate this book’s humor.

Jake (and by extension the author) express themselves in a blend of sarcasm and wit that comes across naturally and not at all in a pretentious manner. When we meet the alien and he does come across as pretentious, it is all the more hilarious. The alien is so aggressively outgoing and is written perfectly. The author is able to write the perfect blend of detailed descriptions with dialogue and action. The subtle continuity between chapters was simple yet ingenious. The ending was well set up, made sense to include Jake and his friends, and was wholly satisfying to read.

This novel was published by Independently published 10/16/2020 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Phillip Knight Scott’s Website

 

Book Review: Flintelf (Exili’s Excellent Elucidation Services, #1) by Victoria Bastedo

Flintelf (Exili’s Excellent Elucidation Services, #1) by Victoria Bastedo

A Fantasy/Cozy Mystery novel published by Amazon Digital Services (10/13/2020)

Summary:

“What made the pure elves in the past great, or their bloodline desirable, if it wasn’t the quality of their souls, and their actions?”

Exili has started his own business of elucidation. His clients are also victims. Potential victims, if he can convince them to pay him to prevent their murder, that is. Exili’s next potential client happens to also be a previous school mate. Exili and Goodall hadn’t spoken since school when they had a falling out. Exili doesn’t want his client to die, but he’s also annoyed that he’s got to convince Goodall to hire him. Why couldn’t it be someone else stalked by a murderer?

Keywords:

Caste, Elves, Mystery, Murder, Murder Prevention, Entrepreneur, Friendship, Bad Blood, Pure, High Born, Feet

My Review:

Quirky Fantasy. Fantasy with a foot focus…

I don’t often read fantasy so I was delighted that this book was part fantasy, part cozy mystery, part supernatural. I also really liked that I couldn’t guess the ending until the end and that the mystery the main character Exili has to solve is part of a larger plot that is revealed slowly over time.

I loved the quirky fantasy element that the author creates with her idea of ‘elucidation.’ I especially enjoyed the fact that Exili elucidates… with his feet! He must actually touch items with his feet to elucidate as accurately as possible and the scene where he must touch a bunch of things with his feet was particularly hilarious.

I’m not sure how I feel about the caste system and the various people groups’ placement in society based on ‘true blood’ that Bastedo describes in this world. This would be a great discussion for a book club, especially the fact that features and skin color were ascribed to certain people groups. I liked the term ‘people groups’ as well. There are humans (as I call myself) as a people group. There are the Flintelfs and the Farris people groups.

Like other Bastedo books, this one features a feel-good message and a happy ending.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services 10/13/2020 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 4.00

Links for more information:

Goodreads

FreeValleyPublishing

Victoria Bastedo WordPress

Book Review: Destination Azurah by Victoria Bastedo

Destination Azurah by Victoria Bastedo

A Fantasy/Romance novel published by Amazon Digital Services (09/17/2020)

Summary:

Romiya is determined to uncover the secret to her uncle’s mysterious and amazing sandcastle builder. After his sudden disappearance years ago, Romiya has been determined to uncover its secret and perhaps learn what actually happened to her uncle. Suddenly Romiya gets a breakthrough when she sees a sinister face stamped into the sand, but the other scientists don’t believe her. It will take much more physical evidence to convince them of what she saw overtaking every single grain of sand. Her bodyguard couldn’t protect her from the face’s attack, but he’ll help to whisk her away from the beach and the desert while she figures out her next move. When he resigns, Romiya will also see him in a different light.

Keywords:

Romance, Fantasy, Sand, Portal, Scientist, Female Scientist, Attack, War, Evil, Power, Sandcastles, Friendship

My Review:

I loved, loved, loved that every time someone refers to Romiya as a, “girl” she corrected him! This is such a pet peeve of mine in books and real life. Romiya even explains that if Ruedolf is no longer referred to as a “boy” then she should not be referred to as a “girl.” Thank you, Romiya!

The fantasy element – sand and time and alternate worlds was well described and very interesting to read. Every time that Bastedo dips into fantasy/science fiction, I’m captivated. Much like her novel The Kiss of the Blue Howler, this book is full of imagination and a new perspective. I was mesmerized by her descriptions of sand and memory and loved how she integrated that into a thoughtful and well developed romance/action story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this mashup of romance and fantasy. It was a fun, easy read with an adorable romance, a hint of mystery, and a strong female STEM leading the way!

(READ ON FOR VAGUE SPOILERS)

The plot was well paced and there was the perfect amount of action. However, I did find fault with the characters in the alt-world for letting the newcomers walk into evil hands! This was most likely on purpose to push through more drama, but it felt at times unrealistic (just like many blockbuster action movies). I also felt like the nighttime romance scene was out of place.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services 09/17/2020 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Goodreads

FreeValleyPublishing

Victoria Bastedo WordPress

Book Review: Exile (Forbidden Things Book 2) and Apostate (Forbidden Things Book 3) by Nikki McCormack

Exile (Forbidden Things Book 2) and Apostate(Forbidden Things Book 3) by Nikki McCormack

Fantasy Novels published by Elysium Books (12/15/15 and 04/16/16)

Summary:

Back in Caithin, Indigo continues training with Serivar and the Order. She is starting to find her place again when Yiloch is accused of the murder of the King. She knows he didn’t do it, right? In a desperate attempt to protect him from those who wish him dead, she strands Yiloch in a desert South of Lyra. Not only does Caithin want Yiloch to answer for his crimes, but a new enemy marches on Lyra.

Travel back to Lyra takes its toll on Yiloch. He is also burdened with rage for what Indigo did. Meanwhile, Indigo rushes to meet Yiloch in the desert, meeting a potential army on the way. It will take more than an army to face Lyra’s new threat because they wield magic in force. Indigo must decide who she is and where she belongs with all her Ascard power. Only one other person rival’s her strength in wielding magic, and he’s sworn vengeance on both Yiloch and Indigo.

Keywords:

Power, Control, Magic, Inner Strength, Inner Aspect, Travel, War, Fighting, Struggle, Talent, Healing, Abuse, Love, Lies, Hidden, Horses, Torment, Destruction, Crime, Murder, Revenge

My Review:

It has been quite some time since I read such a strong middle book in a trilogy. It was just as exciting as reading the first book in the series. It held up the action and continued to endear me to the characters I’d grown to know and love in the first book.

This series continues to build a great and compelling balance between romance, fantasy and plot. I was pulled in by Indigo’s struggles to find herself and her place in this world. The plot made sense in book two and in the larger sense of the trilogy. The romance felt so strong and real – the emotions and reactions of the characters for their relationships was so riveting.

Indigo is a role model for female characters. She’s strong, not in relation to man, but in relation to her enemies and her friends. Even those around her acknowledge her strength and her power. She is respected and feared and loathed. I really felt like I had a better grasp on Myac and his motivations but also couldn’t understand the evil inside him at all. He was a phenomenally crafted villain and I really, really wanted him to have a moment of redemption. Would it even be possible? Could he even live in a world where he had committed his previous actions?

I really appreciated the different perspectives of the characters as different chapters are told by these different narrators, even from the perspective of the invading enemies.

I absolutely loved the climax in the third novel and wished for the mini extra climax to have been a fourth book. The setup was there for an additional novel…

These Fantasy Novels were published by Elysium Books (12/15/15 and 04/16/16) and are available on Amazon here and Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Goodreads Book 2

Goodreads Book 3

Twitter

Nikki McCormack’s Website

Book Review: Lies & Legacy (Project Gene Assist Book 3) by Allie Potts

Lies & Legacy (Project Gene Assist Book 3) by Allie Potts

A Science Fiction/Cyberpunk/Dystopian Novel published by Axil Hammer Publishing (03/26/20)

Summary:

Juliane wakes out of her cryogenic sleep to a devastated world where her legacy, her tech, is not being used the way she intended. What’s left of humanity is on the brink of war as those with the opportunity have stepped up to seize control. Can Juliane stop them? Stephen is convinced that Juliane can stop the drain, the key to halting the power-hungry new world leaders. All he has to do is find her before it’s too late.

Keywords:

Genetic Engineering, Science and Technology, Rivals, Technology,  Future, Dystopian, Survival, Dark Ages, War, New Government, Towers, Grit, Magic, Evolution, Economic Collapse, New Order, Salvation, Friendship, Romance

My Review:

It was difficult to pick up this third book after so much time between finishing book two. I couldn’t remember who the characters were, their relationships to each other, or what they wanted and how they got there. The third book starts off where book two ends without a lot of re-explanation of what happened before and it took a few chapters to get back into the swing of the plot and hooked into the current dilemmas. If I hadn’t immediately skipped to chapter one, I would have seen the handy recap of characters at the end of the book listed in the table of contents that would have helped me sort out who is who. If you’re also not reading each book right after the other I would highly recommend browsing the contents at the end of the book as a great refresher into the many characters.

I couldn’t wait to see how the isolated characters finally met up in the end. I did enjoy reading their separate journeys as they traveled through the post-apocalyptic landscape. I also enjoyed the growing romances between several of the characters and felt it added more depth to this novel.

Every time Juliane used her abilities for something small, like lighting up a dark space with her own body and technology, I was fascinated. The small details in the world building were well done and very intriguing. Juliane, as a strong female main character from the previous novels, continues to be a leader in this third novel of the series.

This novel was published by Axil Hammer Publishing on 03/26/2020 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.25

Links for more information:

Allie Potts’ Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Book Review: Flight of the Spark: Book 1 of the Outlawed Myth Fantasy Series by Evelyn Puerto

Flight of the Spark: Book 1 of the Outlawed Myth Fantasy Series by Evelyn Puerto

A YA Fantasy novel published by Open Water Books (12/03/2019)

Summary:

“Taking a risk stretches you, so you can find out what you can do, instead of being sure you cannot.” (Location 2602).

Iskra has lived in her small town her entire life. She is safe. She follows the rules. But she longs to visit the next town over and when her mother allows it, she giddily accompanies her friend on the trip. The road between towns is dangerous, full of Riskers and other barbarians. Iskra wasn’t worried before stepping outside the town’s gate, but with only the protection of the guards Iskra is plagued with worry. Even her carefree friend can’t keep her from anxious thoughts and when she misses the caravan back to town, to safety, what will Iskra risk to get back home in time? What else is Iskra willing to risk when her friend is taken because Iskra was a cowardly mushroom? The more Iskra learns how the town keeps peace and safety for all its citizens, the more Iskra is willing to risk.

Keywords:

Fantasy, Travel, Journey, Risk, Attack, Flee, Hide, Town, Secrets, Dystopian, Power, Prophecies, Rulers, Guardians, Guards, Peace, Safety, Love, Friendship

My Review:

From the moment I picked up this book, I couldn’t put it down. Before I had even started reading, this book contained certain elements I love in YA books: dystopian features and a female main character.

The mood is set so well, especially in the beginning. “The wind picked up, raising goose bumps on Iskra’s arms.It rocked the branches of the trees that stood behind the pines back and forth, rustling the leaves, sounding to Iskra like a thousand whispered threats.” (Location 316). The writing style was very easy to read and flowed from word to word and page to page. It was the dystopic plot, though, that really drew me in.

The story was very well set and the world building was very well done. Tension and mystery hinted at a deeper plot that both Iskra and I couldn’t help but run toward. The suspense and tension builds until the end.

I loved how much Iskra grew throughout the book. She is such a dynamic main character. As the reader, we really get to know and understand where she is coming from and how brave she is to question her surroundings and change. Those around her were fully fledged characters with backstories. The love story is well crafted and very believable and so sweet.

I can’t wait to read book two.

This novel was published by Open Water Books 12/03/2019 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 5.0

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Twitter

Evelyn Puerto’s Website