Book Review: Wildseed Witch by Marti Dumas

Wildseed Witch by Marti Dumas

A Middle-Grade Fantasy Novel published by Amulet Books (05/10/22)

Summary:

Hasani is all about growing her makeup YouTube channel this summer and getting to 100 followers. When an emotional outburst sets a bridge covered in vines, she’ll have to change her summer plans. She’s offered a scholarship to a charm school for witches. And Hasani is a wildseed witch. It’s a whirlwind for her as they get her ready to go to this school and her arrival at Les Belles Demoiselles is just as chaotic. Hasani just learned she was a witch and doesn’t know how to control her powers, while most of the other girls have known they were witches their whole lives.

Keywords:

Magic, Witches, School, Charm School, Old-Money, Control, YouTube, Influencer, Makeup, Power, Influence, Family, Friendship, Bullying

My Review:

After arriving at the charm school, this book continually challenged my assumptions of what magic can be. Just like Hasani, I had to learn what magic looks like and how it can be controlled at Les Belles Demoiselles. And just like Hasani and her mother, I did not know how to pronounce this charm school. We both had a lot to learn! The author keeps the reader in the dark as much as Hasani is in the dark about what to do, where to go, how to behave, what’s right, what’s wrong, and most everything else! I felt her frustration and confusion. And she didn’t even know where the bathroom was. Hasani is clueless. The other girls think her ignorant and wild. The teachers are reserving judgment, mostly. I would be crying myself to sleep every night in this situation.

There are some big lessons to learn from reading this book about controlling emotions and learning restraint, making friends, etc. The lessons feel very intertwined with the story and the main character’s growth.

I loved the details about the setting. The book takes place in New Orleans and carries with it the historical weight of the area.

This novel was published by Amulet Books on 05/10/2022 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.5

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Marti Dumas’ Website

Book Review: Daughter of Magic (The Daughter of Magic Trilogy Book 1) by Karen Eisenbrey

Daughter of Magic (The Daughter of Magic Trilogy Book 1) by Karen Eisenbrey

A YA Fantasy Novel published by Immortal Works (05/22/18)

Summary:

Luskell doesn’t think she has magic, even though her parents are both powerful wizards. They leave her behind in Deep River as they go to the city for their annual work trip as interpreters. Luskell has had strange dreams at night and during the day she starts to get into the small town feel of the place. She participates in gossip, makes new friends, and even names a new horse. Meanwhile, there’s something strange and concerning going on in the capital, but neither of Luskell’s parents can pin down what’s really going on. And then the strangest thing happens to Luskell and she decides to take action.

Keywords:

Coming of age, action, magic, wizards, transfiguration, spells, power, leader, small town, gossip, friendship, chores, sneaking out

My Review:

This fantasy is full of the YA feels. Luskell is your typical teenager. She rolls her eyes at her parents, argues with her mom, sneaks out, and speaks her mind. She is such a rebellious teenager who is headstrong, stubborn, acts before thinking, is competitive with others, and is impatient with herself. As soon as she thinks of an idea, she acts on it. On the other hand, she is brave and loyal and doesn’t pause to consider the potential danger and harm to herself if someone she loves is in danger. She is a YA main character to the max and I really enjoyed how well she is written and how much of a filled-out personality she has. Because Luskell (and other characters) are fully sketched out, I would enjoy reading more of this series.

I would also continue reading the next book in this trilogy because this first book has a hook beyond the in-depth characters. It has a plot that has action and intrigue. It has an arc that has a satisfying ending but also the potential to continue expanding the storyline and world through more books.

Though this book was a bit more difficult to get into at the beginning due to rapid character POV changes with almost every chapter, the writing style is easy to read and the world-building is slowly fleshed out. I had a hard time keeping the characters straight for a number of chapters but as the story slowly developed I became more and more engrossed and the characters and their relationships started to make more sense. Some of the characters shared names or name structures and most of them are introduced in the beginning.

Luskell is a main character who discovers her magic midway through the book and with a short training montage is able to quickly master several spells without issue. She is a main character who seems like she might be the most powerful wizard and it’s not that difficult (one afternoon of intense training) for her to learn to use her magic (to learn to use less power at one time). Since I was already invested in Luskell and the story and the dire situation, I looked past this trope but still noticed that it was happening. At this point in the book, I already loved the three teens and wanted them to succeed.

There is a hint of a romance and a potential love triangle, but this element is not given nearly as much attention as Luskell coming into her magic and her desire to use it immediately to help the ones she loves. Perhaps in further books, this romance will be more developed. Since the characters were my favorite part of the book, I would love to see where this romantic development goes.

This novel was published by Not a Pipe Publishing on 05/22/2018 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.25

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Karen Eisenbrey’s Website

Book Review: Strange Gods by Alison Kimble

Strange Gods by Alison Kimble

A YA Fantasy Novel published by Immortal Works (07/20/21)

Summary:

Spooky is at a summer camp for troubled teens. She’s waiting for The Change – a big moment that starts the rest of her life. Maybe sneaking out for her first kiss will be The Change. Instead, she gets pulled into another dimension and confronted with a trickster God. Either she tells him stories for the rest of her life or she finds a way to appease him and supply him with endless stories. After a few hours, she’s already hoarse. Can she talk her way out of her predicament?

Keywords:

Weird Mythology, Portal, Lessons Learned, Summer Camp, Troubled Teens, Bargain, Travel, Journey, Strange Gods

My Review:

What an extraordinary out-of-the-ordinary book that I didn’t even know I needed in my life! I absolutely adore well-written strange and creative books and this one is no exception. The characters – especially Spooky – were given depth, personality, and realism. I wanted to know what made Spooky tick. The fact that she’s at a camp that exploits the campers’ biggest fears added another dimension. What motivates Spooky to conform to her parent’s expectations? Why is everyone else in this camp? This camp is both a terrible place and a terribly fascinating place (to those not currently stuck there that is). The world-building drew me in immediately and the way the author slowly unraveled the mystery of this camp and some of the other campers’ backstories was expertly done.

 

It’s hard to believe this is a debut novel because it’s so well written and well edited. It’s fast-paced and has a definitive story arc. There are setbacks and obstacles. The main character has to learn her lesson along the journey. There are high stakes. Though the main plot is highly fantastical, the logic and the journey are very realistically written. The characters eat and never forget their bruises or their snark.

 

If you enjoy a book that isn’t totally mainstream but a little creepy and strange, you’ll love this YA novel.

 

This novel was published by Immortal Works on 07/20/2021 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Allison Kimble’s Website

Book Review: Sting of the Scorpion: A YA Epic Fantasy (The Outlawed Myth Book 3) by Evelyn Puerto

Sting of the Scorpion: A YA Epic Fantasy (The Outlawed Myth Book 3) by Evelyn Puerto

A YA fantasy novel published by Open Water Books (1/7/2022)

Summary:

“No sense imagining trouble. We’ve got enough already.” (Kindle Edition, 37%).

Damira and her clan members struggle every day to survive. One day almost everyone is slaughtered. Damira, her brother, and best friend only have two choices – cross the desert and hope there is peace on the other side, or join the local warlord and forever be his pawns. But a new power is rising and nothing can stand in this new warlord’s way. She uses a magical amulet and the only way to stop her is to wield one of these magical amulets. Are they evil? Damira doesn’t care, as long as she will never again have to worry about her safety and that of her loved ones.

Keywords:

Fantasy, Travel, Journey, Risk, Attack, Flee, Hide, Town, Secrets, Power, Rulers, Magic, Amulets, Love, Friendship, Romance, Training

My Review:

Much like the second book of this series, Sting of the Scorpion starts out with a new protagonist, and this time the setting and the world also appear to be different. The author once again builds the fantasy world setting, showing us a new previously uncharted portion of the map. The books, since they feature different characters and almost different settings, could be read as standalone fantasy books in the same world, with similar themes and character arcs. I’m immediately invested in this world and I’m immediately on the side of and rooting for the new main character, Damira.

There is so much at stake for Damira. She has everything and nothing to lose. Mush like Tereka in the previous novel, Damira grows into her role over the course of the book. The author knows how to write strong female main characters who don’t stick to the status quo.

This book, like the others, was well-paced and picked up momentum more and more as the plot unfurled. Throughout the novel, as things change, there are always high stakes and you won’t be able to put the book down.

I loved the changing POV from the three main characters and I love the distinct cultures of this fantasy setting. I thought there was a nice balance between politics and war as well as personal stories, struggles, and present actions.

If you like grounded fantasy with high stakes and strong, interesting characters, you will enjoy this series.

This novel was published by Open Water Books 1/7/2022 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Twitter

Evelyn Puerto’s Website

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