Review: Under the Lesser Moon by Shelley Campbell

Title: Under the Lesser Moon

Author: Shelley Campbell

Series: The Marked Son

Genre: Fantasy

Trigger Warning: Child abuse, violence against women

Summary:

“Dragons once led our people across the wastelands, away from storms, and toward hunting grounds.”

That’s what the elders say, but Akrist has squinted at empty skies his whole life. The dragons have abandoned them, and it’s Akrist’s fault. He’s cursed. Like every other firstborn son, he has inherited the sins of his ancestors. In his camp, he’s the only eldest boy left. Something happened to the others. Something terrible.

When Akrist befriends Tanar, an eldest boy from another tribe, he discovers the awful truth: they’re being raised as sacrifices to appease the Goddess and win back her dragons. The ritual happens when the dual moons eclipse. Escape is the only option, but Akrist was never taught to hunt or survive the wastelands alone. Time is running out, and he has to do something before the moons touch. 

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Review: The Hanged Man by K.D. Edwards

Title: The Hanged Man

Author: K.D. Edwards

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Magical Realism

Series: The Tarot Sequence

Purchase: Indigo (Affiliate Link)

Summary:

The last member of a murdered House tries to protect his ward from forced marriage to a monster while uncovering clues to his own past.

The Tarot Sequence imagines a modern-day Atlantis off the coast of Massachusetts, governed by powerful Courts based on the traditional Tarot deck.

Rune Saint John, last child of the fallen Sun Throne, is backed into a fight of high court magic and political appetites in a desperate bid to protect his ward, Max, from a forced marital alliance with the Hanged Man.

Rune’s resistance will take him to the island’s dankest corners, including a red light district made of moored ghost ships; a surreal skyscraper farm; and the floor of the ruling Convocation, where a gathering of Arcana will change Rune’s life forever.

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Review: The Last Sun by K.D. Edwards

Title: The Last Sun

Author: K.D. Edwards

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Tarot Sequence

Summary:

Rune Saint John, last child of the fallen Sun Court, is hired to search for Lady Judgment’s missing son, Addam, on New Atlantis, the island city where the Atlanteans moved after ordinary humans destroyed their original home.

With his companion and bodyguard, Brand, he questions Addam’s relatives and business contacts through the highest ranks of the nobles of New Atlantis. But as they investigate, they uncover more than a missing man: a legendary creature connected to the secret of the massacre of Rune’s Court.

In looking for Addam, can Rune find the truth behind his family’s death and the torments of his past?

Purchase: Indigo. (Affiliate link)

My Thoughts

Review: Legendborn

LEGENDBORNTitle: Legendborn

Author: Tracy Deonn

Genre: Fantasy, Arthurian

Release Date: 15 September 2020

To preorder: Indigo

Summary: Filled with mystery and an intriguingly rich magic system, Tracy Deonn’s YA contemporary fantasy Legendborn offers the dark allure of City of Bones with a modern-day twist on a classic legend and a lot of Southern Black Girl Magic.

After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her previous life, family memories, or her childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at a local university seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.

A flying demon feeding on human energies.

A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.

And a teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.

The mage’s failure reveals Bree’s own, unique magic and unlocks a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that she knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, Bree will do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn by becoming one of their initiates. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur and his knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight.

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Review: The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

25740412._SY475_Title: The Black Witch

Author: Laurie Forest

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Summary: 

Elloren Gardner is the granddaughter of the last prophesied Black Witch, Carnissa Gardner, who drove back the enemy forces and saved the Gardnerian people during the Realm War. But while she is the absolute spitting image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above all else.

When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren joins her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University to embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother’s legacy. But she soon realizes that the university, which admits all manner of people—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is a treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.

As evil looms on the horizon and the pressure to live up to her heritage builds, everything Elloren thought she knew will be challenged and torn away. Her best hope of survival may be among the most unlikely band of misfits…if only she can find the courage to trust those she’s been taught to hate and fear.

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Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

norse mythologyTitle: Norse Mythology

Author: Neil Gaiman

Genre: History, mythology, super awesome audiobook

Summary:

Neil Gaiman, long inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction, presents a bravura rendition of the Norse gods and their world from their origin though their upheaval in Ragnarok. 

In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki—son of a giant—blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.

Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose, these gods emerge with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.

My Thoughts:

Oh my gods. This is one of the best books I’ve read and the best audiobook I have ever listened to.

I now own a full Neil Gaiman audiobook collection because this man is so nice to listen to. His care for his writing and subject matter really does shine through in his reading of this work.

I have long loved reading about the different myths, and legends from other countries, and did read rather extensively about the Norse Gods when I was in college, but this was one of the most wonderful re-tellings I’ve ever had the pleasure to read.

There is no dryness to this writing, but rather life is breathed into every tale, injected with humour and tragedy where needed. The Gods come to life in a way they have not in many years, and with it a different point of view of Norse life.

I would recommend this to anyone who loves Gaiman, mythology, or just plain good literature.

Review: My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows and Brodi Ashton

my plain janesTitle: My Plain Jane

Author(s): Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows and Brodi Ashton

Series: The Lady Janies

Genre: Alternate History, Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Summary: 

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights

My Thoughts:

I wish I could express to you how much I was excited about this book, and I mean truly, mind-numbingly excited. I absolutely loved the first book, I read it four times in the last year because it was  so humorous, and the story was woven so tightly I could hardly find fault with it.

This book was good. Please do not think that I didn’t enjoy it because I did. But…I didn’t enjoy it anywhere near as much as I had enjoyed the first one.

The parts I wanted more of (the ghost hunting adventures), I got very little of, and wished it had been expanded upon. The parts I could’ve done with a little bit less of (the actual plot of Jane Eyre) I got too much of.

I did like the twist on the story, but it wasn’t as twisty as some of my other favourite Jane Eyre works (The Eyre Affair for example), and the character I actually enjoyed the most was Charlotte Bronte, I was left with very little interest in Jane herself.

The characters alongside Jane are enough to keep the book going, and the end truly does build to a rather satisfying climax, but it’s just not quite enough.

Now a novel with more of Charlie and Blackwood? I would be behind that in a second.

And as for the next book, My Calamity Jane? I can’t freaking wait to read that one.

 

Review: A Touch of Magic by Isabelle Adler

a touch of magicTitle: A Touch of Magic

Author: Isabelle Adler

Genre: Fantasy, LGBTQ Romance

Summary: After returning to the straight and narrow, Cary Westfield hopes to rebuild his life as a stage magician. Only thing is, the success of his new show is entirely dependent on a strange medallion inherited from his late grandfather—an amulet that holds a rare and inexplicable power to captivate the wearer’s audience.

Ty prides himself on his ability to obtain any item of magical significance—for the right price. When a mysterious client hires him to steal a magical amulet from a neophyte illusionist, he’s sure it will be a quick and easy job, earning him a nice chunk of cash.

As it turns out, nothing is sure when greed and powerful magic are at play. When a mob boss with far-reaching aspirations beats Ty to the snatch, Cary and Ty form an unlikely partnership to get the amulet back. The unexpected spark of attraction between them is a welcome perk, but each man has his own plan for the prize.

All bets are off, however, when it is revealed the magical amulet holds a darker secret than either of them had bargained for.

Review:

This is a book I wish there was more of. It was good as is, but it left me a little bit hungry for more, in particular for learning more about the characters within.

Ty is an enigma, wrapped in a….no I’m just kidding. He’s a bad boy with a heart of gold and I do truly love him. He’s lovely, and he might possibly have an inkling of it.

Cary is a sweetheart, but definitely not as sweet as he seems. He’s a total secret badass.

My favourite character though was definitely Bas, who is flamboyant and interesting in equal measures.

This book is a fun heist-like romp. I thoroughly enjoyed those parts of it, but this book is not the greatest if you are looking for slow-burn romance. But if you’re looking for instant attraction, and gratification then this is definitely the book for you.

I’m excited to see this universe expand, and the magic within it to do so as well.

Received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

 

Review: Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

fawkes
Gorgeous cover art is always a plus!

Title: Fawkes

Author: Nadine Brandes

Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Release Date: 10 July, 2018

Summary: 

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did it. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

Review: 

This book has so much in it that I love, so I’m just going to start with that. I’ve been a fan of YA fantasy since…well since I was the age that YA is usually geared towards. However it was very rare that something as good as this came along, especially something that included real life historical events.

The plot of this book comes together really well, winding the historical facts in with the fiction, and the fantasy weaving it all together in one beautifully written package.

The magic within the book is encompassing and wonderful. It was interesting to read how the masks help the users control, or invigorate their magic.

The writing in this book, and the descriptive nature carried me through the streets of London at a time very different from now. It had me clutching my eReader in fear for Thomas, a character I grew to care about extremely quickly.

This is definitely one of my favourite books I’ve read this year. I wished for more the minute I turned the last page, and then proceeded to order a copy to be delivered to myself on release day. After all I am definitely going to lend it to everyone I know as soon as I can.

And I will be reading more of Nadine Brandes’ books for as long as she keeps writing.

Received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

 

Review: Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

wild beauty.jpgTitle: Wild Beauty

Author: Anna-Marie McLemore

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

Favourite Quotes: 

“Even in its first faint traces, love could alter a landscape. It wrote unimagined stories and made the most beautiful, forbidding places.”

“As though their daughters loving men and women meant they wanted all of them in the world. There was no way to tell their mothers the truth and make them believe it, that hearts that loved boys and girls were no more reckless or easily won than any other heart. They loved who they loved. They broke how they broke.”

Review:

This book is just as beautiful as it’s cover, and filled with so much emotion that it was palpable. McLemore has a style that is all her own, mixing a contemporary writing style with that of all the classic fairy tales.

It runs the gamut of emotions, from happiness, to grief, and everything in between, but within it all is a thread of hope. It will make you feel for the characters within, and make you want to wrap your arms around them and hold them to make it a little better, if you can.

This is also a really good introduction to magical realism for those who might not have been interested in the genre before, as it is written in a way that gently guides you into the journey that these characters are going to, without seeming too overtly strange or otherworldly.

The characters are individual, and their struggles are painful, agonizing, really, and they are written so realistically. This book is just awesome.