Blog Tour Review: Krait’s Redemption (The Cat’s Eye Chronicles, #5) by T.L. Shreffler @CatsEyeAuthor

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I’m honored to be an early reviewer for this BRILLIANT author’s newest AMAZING book in this OH SO AWESOME series.

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With winter solstice fast approaching, Sora and her companions are running out of time. She must stop The Shade from awakening the Dark God, yet a powerful force has overtaken her Cat’s-Eye necklace, rendering the stone almost useless. To use the stone, Sora must learn to trust her instincts and embrace her own inner strength. She joins forces with unexpected allies, Lord Gracen Seabourne among them, to protect the City of Crowns. As the city dissolves into chaos, she finds herself barreling toward an epic battle that will decide the fate of mankind.

At risk to his own life, Crash returns to the Hive seeking aid against Cerastes. However, the events that led him into exile have not been forgotten. Will the Hive offer him redemption, or will they demand he pay the ultimate price for his transgressions?

Join Sora and Crash in their epic battle to save the City of Crowns!

Releases 09/12/2017

My rating:  5/5

I love these characters, I love this book, I love this series, and I love this author! I have so many feelings. SO MANY feelings. *deep breath* I will try to give you my thoughts in an intelligent manner. It may be difficult.

The plot and pacing:

This story is lean, which is my favorite kind of story. There’s not a single wasted word, the action moves quickly while still giving you the chance to breathe. The suspense and mystery are layered perfectly and I binge-read this in a day. For me, it was exactly the kind of story I love to read.

The characters:

Sora is reaching the zenith of her coming-of-age story. Faced with gigantic life choices on top of the looming threat of world destruction. She comes face-to-face with life as a noblewoman versus life as an adventurer and that’s a scary decision. She continues to be a badass with a beautiful soul and I just love her to bits.

Crash is the other character I also love to bits. He is a badass, needless to say, but also full of so much emotional angst he’ll never admit to. I just read this and I can’t really explain beyond I LOVE HIM SO MUCH OH MY GOSH OH MY GOSH.

Krait and Caprion’s story has some major developments that I have been awaiting almost as much as Crora (as they are affectionately called by the fanbase). This story did not disappoint. There was heartbreak, there was redemption, as promised…it was beautiful.

Burn, our Wulven friend, continues to be one of my favorite characters. At this point, he’s more of a father figure to Sora than anyone else and I just want to hug him. He plays pivotal roles at multiple points and doesn’t get lost in the background, which can happen to characters when the cast broadens. But no.

Lori and Ferran continued to develop along their own arcs and I am so proud of them.

There is a lot of death in this book I wasn’t expecting. Minor spoiler: I was furious that Grandmaster Natrix got to live when so many others didn’t (even if she had surprised me as we got to know her). I was angry…and then I wasn’t. Not at all. I am the opposite of angry, but that’s a spoiler.

I am still madly in love with this series and I’m so glad the author’s back! It was totally worth the wait.

Find Krait’s Redemption on Goodreads

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Check out my reviews of the previous books in the series:

Caprion’s Wings (A Cat’s Eye Chronicles Novella)

Sora’s Quest (The Cat’s Eye Chronicles, #1)

Viper’s Creed (The Cat’s Eye Chronicles, #2)

Volcrian’s Hunt (The Cat’s Eye Chronicles, #3)

Ferran’s Map (The Cat’s Eye Chronicles, #4)

 About the Author

tlshreffler

T. L. Shreffler is a noblewoman living in the sunny acres of San Fernando Valley, California. She enjoys frolicking through meadows, sipping iced tea, exploring the unknown reaches of her homeland and unearthing rare artifacts in thrift stores. She holds a Bachelors in Eloquence (English) and writes YA Fantasy, Paranormal Romance and poetry. She has previously been published in Eclipse: A Literary Anthology and The Northridge Review.

Website| Twitter | Facebook| Google+ | Pinterest | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon Author

Review: Dark Soul (Legends of Regia, #4) by Tenaya Jayne @TenayaJayne

22455215.jpgThief. Murderess. Sacrificial messenger. Netriet has faced death many times but she never consented to the transformation she endured the last time her life was pulled back from the edge of death. She’s compelled to live a solitary life for fear the shadow inside her will terrify others. Lonely, Netriet longs for acceptance and friendship. Joining up with the Fair, a haven for misfits, she believes she’s found home and love with Merick.

The ghosts of Merick’s past haunt him. Helplessly attracted to Netriet, he’s sworn to help her destroy the shadow within, but losing his heart to her cripples him with fear. Mistakes and misunderstanding push her away and Merick’s forced to watch her flee into the arms of another man.

Torn between two men, Netriet’s true nature is drawn to one, while the shadow yearns for the other. At war with the darkness, Netriet must choose, or let the shadow swallow her completely.

The fate of Regia’s new republic hangs in the balance as a new enemy arises, backed by a group of violent insurgents bent on destroying everything Forest has worked for. Desperate for intelligence about the terrorist group, Forest learns the leader wants not only to claim the throne, but also her life.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

My rating:  5/5

I binge read the last four books in this series over a weekend and I’m not sure any mortal was meant for that amount of feels in that short a period of time. The other drawback is that much of the stories have run together in my head, especially since characters recur throughout the books. This has created some recall problems, but I will do the best I can.

The plot:

This book follows Netriet who we last saw running away from the safety of Forest’s house in Forest Fire. After the tragedy of Verdant, I was terrified. I’d seen Tenaya is willing to kill of characters nastily and it was horrible. I spent this book in emotional knots and on the edge of my seat. I suffered, but it was awesome.

The characters:

It’s been so long since I read books 1-2, that I’d forgotten much of Netriet’s character. That worked out fine because she’s essentially undergone reconstructive surgery on her soul as a result of Shi’s “help.” The duality between Netriet and the shadow that lived inside her was a mesmerizing power struggle.

Merick is a sweet, darling teddy bear whom I absolutely adore. With as many scars as Netriet, the two of them fit each other’s broken places to beautifully. His compassion, his loyalty, and his selflessness were amazing and I simply loved watching his relationship with Netriet blossom.

In the background, we have Forest and Syrus, still at the whole saving the world thing, still going hot and heavy in their romance. <3 <3 <3 Honestly, I would have read the book just for that part.

This was an intense read that was nonetheless rewarding. I’m so glad these books came into my life and I’m psyched for the spinoff series!

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Is The Lord of the Rings Racist?

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While I love The Lord of the Rings, it’s not a great example of racial relationships. The elves, Men, hobbits and Dwarves are all a mix of good and bad, but mostly good. On the other hand, orcs embody every negative stereotype of any outcast group.

Orcs are conniving, untrustworthy, greedy, ferocious savages that kill, plunder, and rape their way across Middle Earth. (While I don’t recall rape ever described in The Lord of the Rings, I feel there are passages that heavily imply it.) They are rabid animals that must be put down. Reasoning with them is not only impossible, but counter-productive.

Applying racial literary criticism to orcs is depressing

By contrast, the other races embody positive traits. There are the Elves (all good), the Rohirriam (mostly good and honorable), the Gondorians (mostly good and honorable), and the Dwarves (all good, but proud). Every one of those races adheres to a stereotype that’s mostly positive. There are occasional outliers, traitors to the Elves, Hobbits, Dwarves, and Men, but they are rare overall. Even those outliers are occasionally redeemed.

It has long bothered me that the orcs were all evil. One can’t deny they show remarkable intelligence and problem-solving capacity, yet they only ever work for nefarious purposes.

Orcs are savages with no culture but war

While Elves, Men, Hobbits, and Dwarves all have their own lore, their own art, traditions, rituals, and customs, orcs have none of that. There’s evidence they pass stories from generation to generation, but nothing else.

There are signs of them being extremely smart, but they never do more than pillage and cause trouble unless a stronger mind commands them into unity.

The Southrons are a whole other can of racist worms

Though they feature less prominently than orcs, it’s clear the Southrons embody the eastern threat perceived by the English in Tolkien’s time. The Ottoman Empire was still in existence and the Southrons do exactly as the British feared the easterners would.

In The Children of Hurin, a Southron murders a Gondorian lord and forces his widow into marriage. Though the story isn’t nearly as graphic as George R.R. Martin would have it, we learn Southrons are gluttons, conquerors, and rapists who must also be driven out or killed like wild dogs.

This is identical to how the British viewed the eastern empires. It’s another example of racial prejudices leaking into literature.

It doesn’t stop with The Lord of the Rings

Across the fantasy genre, orcs, Southrons, or some incarnation of them keeps popping up again and again. This idea of a scapegoat for evil seems impossibly attractive, especially to fantasy writers.

Early on, I caught myself rewriting the Southrons and revised my series to fix it. I didn’t mean the story to sound prejudiced, but it happened because I’d seen it so often in fantasy literature and didn’t notice when I was writing it.

I still love The Lord of the Rings (doubt that will ever change!). At the same time, I won’t deny parts of it are problematic.

What do you think of race issues in The Lord of the Rings? Have I ruined the franchise for you (sorry)?

Review: Verdant (Legends of Regia, #3) by Tenaya Jayne @TenayaJayne

22455212.jpgIt all began with one stolen kiss…

10,000 years ago, deep in Regia’s forests, the Dryads lived hidden and aloof. Determined to serve the Heart of the World, and keep it secret. Shi was chosen at birth to become a Verdant, one of the twenty princesses to sacrifice to the flame. Plagued by curiosity, one night Shi breaks the rules. A Verdant must always remain pure and innocent and never venture out beyond the boundary.

A month after taking the throne, King Leramiun grows restless confined to the castle by his new responsibilities. After receiving reports about a mass grave in the forests, Leramiun makes a rash decision to investigate by himself. Instead of finding death, he finds Shi, a goddess of life.

One stolen kiss set in motion the destruction of an entire race.

*26k word novella

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

5 out of 5 stars

This prequel novella takes us through the origin story for Shi, Forest’s adoptive mother, including the first great love of King Leramiun and the story of how the Dryads went extinct. I came in knowing that (Shi is a ghost and the Dryads are extinct, after all), but forgot all the dryads died and that was a good kick in the feels.

The plot:

This story is what I like to call “pack a punch.” There’s not a lot of space, but there are plenty of layers and feelings. Yes, feelings. Oh so many feelings. This book made me laugh, had me on the edge of my seat, then crushed me as expected. It was awesome.

The characters:

Shi is an interesting paradox. Despite being deeply innocent, she knows everything about a person the instant she touches them. She reminds me of that phrase “half ancient, half child.”

Leramiun grows remarkably through his relationship with Shi. They were so adorable together and then everything got ruined and now they’re both dead and it’s horrible. Geez, there were a lot of feelings here.

The subplot with Helena had me furious for the first three quarters of the book, I won’t lie. The whole “she’s a concubine, so what does she matter” mentality got old a long time ago. And then is took a turn and YEEEEESSSSSS! Honestly, Helena’s story was probably my favorite part. I mean…the redemption and recognition of her value as a person…respecting her despite her former profession…it was so freaking beautiful.

It’s good to be back in the land of Regia and I’m looking forward to the spinoff series coming this fall! This series is absolutely fantastic and I highly recommend.

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Interview: Rabia Gale, author of The Mourning Cloak @RabiaGale

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Today I’m joined by the lovely Rabia Gale! She’s the author of The Mourning Cloak (Taurin’s Chosen, #1)  and other book full of imaginative, original storytelling. Check out her answers and don’t forget to check out her website!

Hi Rabia! If you had to describe yourself in three fictional characters, who would it be and why?

My closest fictional match is Emily, the titular character of L.M. Montgomery Emily of New Moon series. She’s a writer, a lover of language, inhabitant of worlds spun from her own imagination, and not the easiest person to understand or get close to. Discovering her as a pre-teen was like finding another “kindred spirit”, in Anne-speak.

I’m introverted, bookish, and thoughtful like Anne de Vernase in Carol Berg’s The Soul Mirror and like novelist Phoebe Marlow in Georgette Heyer’s Sylvester, I will never be the belle of the ball or have a large crowd of admirers, but am happy having a small circle of people to feel comfortable with.

Introverts for the win! (Especially those created by Montgomery!) Taurin’s Chosen teeters between Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Steampunk. Your other stories are also fairly untraditional. What draws you genre-bending?

I honestly think it’s due to early influences. I grew up on anime and 80s cartoons, in which science fictional and fantastical elements happily jostle about in the same show. Space travel, intergalactic cops, and awesome tanks can coexist with magical swords, ghostly mentors, and a magical mummy of ancient evil!

After that education, it’s no wonder I treat all of speculative fiction as a grab bag from which to draw inspiration.

A childhood diet of anime explains a lot, haha. How did you go from watching mourning cloak butterflies to creating semi-vampiric specters?

It wasn’t hard once I identified the butterflies as mourning cloaks. The name sounded like it was right out of a fantasy novel—and that it wasn’t attached to some creature of sweetness and light!

So I started pondering what an otherworldy being called a mourning cloak would be like. The first iteration involved an origin story, something like “How the Mourning Cloaks Came About”. I started with the idea of widows morphing due to intense grief or being forced into it by uncaring relatives. That concept didn’t go anywhere, because it took place in some mythic past, whereas I was more interested in an advanced science fantasy world. I decided that mourning cloaks would be only one of a cast of paranormal creatures living in and around a big city—and the story just flowed from there.

Huh. That’s a fascinating idea evolution. Has story inspiration ever come as a result of homeschooling your children?

Yes! I’ve discovered so many colorful characters and interesting events from reading history with my children. There’s this one short story inspired by the ancient library of Ninevah that’s been bouncing about in my head for the past several years. I really should write it down some time.

Homeschooling’s biggest impact on my writing, though, is through refreshing and enhancing my grammar skills. The more I teach it, the better I learn it.

Teaching is definitely the best way to learn! Fondest memory of books/reading as a child?

As a child growing up in Pakistan, I didn’t have the wide access to books I do now. The fantasy and science fiction books I liked were hard to find. There were no public libraries and few dedicated book shops. I treated the books I owned like a dragon would her hoard, zealously guarding and gloating over them.

When I learned of an interesting title (usually through back-of-book blurbs), I’d sometimes spend years looking for it. I still remember the exact moment I first held Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsinger in my hands. I’d been digging through dusty stacks of romances and thrillers at a used book stall in one of my city’s many bazaars—and there it was. I may have muttered, “Pinch me, I’m dreaming!” but I know I did take a firm grip on the book lest someone wrested it away from me. A few months later, I found its prequel Dragonsong in a used bookshop and that same feeling of unreality washed over me. It was like finding buried treasure.

Now that I can get a book delivered to my door at the click of a mouse, I don’t get the same payoff anymore. I miss that feeling sometimes.

That is amazing! *adds Dragonsong to TBR* What do you hope people get from reading your books?

I frequently write about worlds in peril or lives that have been shaken to the core. But as a writer, I’m always reaching for the light, even if it often looks like a mere glimmer in the dark. My characters might be heartbroken, damaged, or simply overwhelmed and in way over their heads, but they’re seeking a path out. I love immersing readers in a weird world and taking them on adventures. More than that, though, I want my characters’ journey to remind people that the night will end and the sun will rise again.

Inspiring hope is one of the best things an author can do. If you could recommend fans three books to read after Taurin’s Chosen, what would they be?

Oh, I LOVE recommending books. *rubs hands in glee*

The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher: This Bluebeard retelling is weird and magical, with a touch of horror. A relatable protagonist gives you something to hold on to as you navigate the world. It’s gorgeously written, and full of catchy turns of phrases and delicious descriptions. The original elements are imaginative and remind me of all the fun I have coming up with new concepts for my worlds.

Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay: Why read a massive historical fantasy tome after a pair of science fantasy novellas? Because language, mood, and setting are all important to me, and Kay demonstrates his mastery of these in this story set in an alternate Tang-dynasty China. Tucked into this huge novel are slivers that echo what I was trying to do in Taurin’s Chosen: the sounds of the once-human out in the darkness; a man who has been alone forced to interact with the world again; the sense of the small and personal unfolding into larger events with far-reaching consequences.

The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff: This historical novel chronicles the passing of Roman power from Britain and the invasion of the Saxons through the eyes of a Roman deserter. Sutcliff’s protagonist, Aquila is scarred by great loss, deeply changed, unable to return to the open-hearted youth he’d once been. My heart aches for him every time I read the book, just as it aches for my damaged protagonists in Taurin’s Chosen.

WOW. These are some hardcore awesome premises! Definitely going to look them up. Thanks so much for stopping by, Rabia!

About the Author

I break fairy tales and fuse fantasy and science fiction. I love to write about flawed heroes who never give up, transformation and redemption, and things from outer space. In my spare time, I read, doodle, eat chocolate, avoid housework, and homeschool my three children.

A native of Pakistan, I grew up in hot, humid Karachi. I then spent almost a decade in Northern New England where I learned to love fall, tolerate snow, and be snobbish about maple syrup and sweet corn. I now live in Northern Virginia.

Website 

Read my review of The Mourning Cloak (Taurin’s Chosen, #1)

Death of a Prologue

book-2435583_960_720The prologue was once a hallmark of fantasy books, but it’s going out of style.

For a long time, I expected them as a matter of course. Years ago, I would have been hard pressed to think of a fantasy author who didn’t have prologues in their books. Then things changed.

I started seeing writing instructors and lecturers berate prologues. Prologues were called lazy and sloppy. Having grown up with prologues, I really didn’t get it. After all, if it’s good enough for George R.R. Martin, Christopher Paolini, and Morgan Rhodes, it’s good enough for me. Yet these instructors remained unswayed.

I never understood why until I began reading bad prologues.

Read through a bad prologue.

Bad prologues are all about exposition. They either A) give away far too much with over-dramatic descriptions and dialogue; and/or B) make no sense and end in a cliff hanger. After reading enough crappy books, I realized lots of writers use them in place of story development.

NOTHING should take the place of story development.

People fall into the trap of wanting their book to have the same “look” they’ve seen and loved elsewhere. They don’t stop to think maybe they should worry about story first instead of section headings.

Prologues are great when they’re needed.

If the prologue explains something that otherwise wouldn’t be explained, great. If it moves the story forward, great.

The prologue to A Game of Thrones sets up the dynamics of the Night’s Watch and the Whitewalkers. The prologue to Falling Kingdoms explains the magic system and Lucia’s origins. Eragon uses a prologue to explain how Saphira’s egg ended up in the Spine and who Arya is. All those prologues serve a purpose that would otherwise leave a hole in the story. All of them were needed.

Most prologues, I’ve realized, are not.

In general, I’ve stopped using prologues in my own writing just because I prefer to stay as close to a single perspective and time period as possible. I enjoy the challenge of explaining complex worlds and past events through a single lens (harder than it sounds).

But some stories demand prologues.

Every so often, there comes a story that just needs one. It can save exposition and reader questions later. As with the three examples I named, sometimes it’s necessary. Story comes first and if the story wants a prologue, the story should get it!

Do you think prologues are a thing of the past? Should they be?

Review: Playing Hearts by W.R. Gingell @WRGingell

It begins the way it has always begun: with a card on Mabel’s pillow. But Mabel has been in Underland—or Wonderland—before, and she’s not so anxious to go back. No matter what name it takes, Underland is always bizarre, always mad, always dangerous.

There’s the Queen of Hearts, terrifying, powerful, and possibly insane.

There’s Hatter, purple-eyed and undoubtedly mad.

March Hare has always been one sandwich short of a picnic, and Sir Blanc is missing his wits.

And then there’s Jack. Jack the aristocratic son of the Queen. Not quite mad, but not far off. Disinclined to help anyone but himself. A liar.

And, thanks to an ancient ceremony performed by the Queen, Mabel’s fiance.

Fall into the rabbit hole with Mabel as she climbs through tea-pots, battles the Jabberwock, and attempts to overthrow the Queen of Hearts herself.

Don’t lose your head.

And whatever you do, don’t be late…

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

5 out of 5 stars

My favorite Wonderland retelling of all time. That includes Tim Burton’s version. I’m sorry, but you just can’t beat a sweet romance paired with intrigue, mystery, a political power struggle, and riddles that mess with your head. This book was amazing and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write the review.

The plot:

This was an interesting twist on the “destined hero” premise. Wonderland’s logic is not necessarily our logic (duh), but having a reluctant hero who’s not running away from her destiny was a little different. This novella takes us through Mabel’s visits to Wonderland starting at age four up to what is presumably her last visit at seventeen.

That story structure means that there was a bit more drag than I generally like, but it made sense. Ms. Gingell’s stories seem to build momentum gradually, then bowl you over with it. That’s what I encountered here, but it was so worth it!

The characters:

Mabel is a foster care kid who’s has the constant companionship of the Hatter and Wonderland since the age of four. While I thought the psychological repercussions of foster care were downplayed, the fact Wonderland has been her only consistent relationship makes her decisions more rational. Nonetheless, she’s independent, very well-adjusted, and ready to kick ass when ass must needs be kicked. Mabel has all the YA heroine traits I love, while still being her own person. In other words, perfect.

Jack, the Hatter, the Queen, and a handful of characters we’d expect appear. Come to think of it, I don’t think there are any non-Wonderland characters who appear at all. The nature of Wonderland and the risks that anyone could be watching make it rare anyone can say what they truly mean. That made for complicated interactions with most the information to be read between the lines. Relationships, loyalties, and motives remain a mystery until the very end and I LOVED IT.

I’m sorry this isn’t part of a series, but glad at the same time. Mabel, Jack, and the Hatter deserve some happiness. It’s a lovely, exciting read with low commitment (being a standalone novella and all). It’s a fantastic read and I hope you’ll give it a shot!

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Do Heroes Ever Truly Fail in Fantasy Books?

 

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Did you ever doubt Harry Potter? How about Frodo or Katniss? Did you ever honestly think the writers would let them fail?

If you’re like me, you had a voice in the back of your head saying “s/he can’t fail, s/he’s the main character.” No matter how emotionally involved I got, I never really worried. After all, it would be a crappy story if it ended with Sauron becoming immortal or President Snow taking over District 13.

There were times I thought the writers might let them die. I never for a second thought they would suffer true defeat.

Books have boundaries.

In the world of stories and storytelling, I have always felt there was this net. In western storytelling especially, we’ve gotten used to this sense of safety. There are things writers just cannot or will not do. It’s considered crappy writing.

Even George R.R. Martin doesn’t do away with this net entirely. I have never feared for the life of Daernerys, just because her death would solve too many problems for the Westerosi. (He also has to consider the angry mobs of fans who would come after him, but still.) The King of Killing Characters himself has restrictions.

But what if the hero does fail? I don’t mean failure in the “all is lost” sense that usually happens three quarters through a book. I don’t mean failure to protect a loved one or complete a specific task.

I mean true, irredeemable failure.

What if, in the original stories, Dracula had set up shop in London, Morgan Le Fay became queen of Camelot, or Conan hadn’t defeated the undead?

There are some writers who have addressed the aftermath of these sorts of scenarios. Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where the hero failed. Rabia Gale’s The Mourning Cloak is an example and I know there are others.

If you think about it, The Lord of the Rings is also takes place in the aftermath of a hero’s failure. Isildur was seduced by promises of power and because of him the Ring now needs to be destroyed. Yet looking at these examples, they seem to disprove the very point they prove. You see, even though the heroes failed, there was a second chance.

The story went on.

Then again, is true failure possible?

These fantasy stories actually reflect reality. Even if you die for your cause, that doesn’t mean someone else won’t take it up.

There are countless revolutions throughout history that ended with the revolutionaries slaughtered and the oppressed nation impoverished. That’s the vast majority of revolutions, actually. Thus far, it doesn’t appear those countries are getting anywhere, but those stories aren’t over.

William Wallace was drawn and quartered, but Scotland eventually won freedom. Seeing as how the Scottish king became king of England, I think they even technically conquered their former oppressor.

 

I don’t believe irredeemable failure exists.

People can fail. Armies can fail. We can fail specific tasks and fall short. But that is never the end. As someone who believes human beings have eternal souls, I think that so long as we accept the redemption offered us, the story goes on.

The potential for soul eating monsters aside, I don’t think true failure exists in Fantasy books any more than it does in real life. There is always hope. Like I said, it’s a crappy story otherwise.

Release Day Review: Cage of Destiny (Reign of Secrets, #3) by Jennifer Anne Davis @AuthorJennifer

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Destined from birth to be the next empress of Emperion, Allyssa grew up at court weighed down by the expectations of the crown. Kingdom and duty always came first.

Until now.

Having survived the brutal kingdom of Russek, she is given the choice to walk away and live a peaceful, quiet life. But it also means giving up everything she knows and everyone she loves. Before she decides, word reaches her about an assassination attempt. Donning her secret persona—that of a vigilante—she sets out to eliminate her enemy once and for all.

As Allyssa fights the demons of her past to save her future, she realizes she never had a choice. She can either embrace her destiny or be caged by it.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

5 out of 5 stars

Though there were things about the previous book in the series that bothered me and awkward dialogue/description combos at the beginning of this one, I’m declaring this the author’s BEST BOOK EVER. I read this in a single day and that hasn’t happened in months. I WAS SO STOKED AND I LOVE IT SO MUCH OH MY GOSH.

The themes of balancing duty and love from the first series have carried over into Reign of Secrets. That’s probably my favorite thing about this series (tied with Kerdan’s existence, of course).

The plot:

Okay, so I admit I was resistant to what I thought this would be about, given the ending of book #2. But then the author brought back one of my favorite characters in the series and another favorite character and I AM IN LOVE.

The characters:

Allyssa has grown up so much. SO MUCH. Comparing her character from book #1 to the end of this is incredible. Her development was gradual by degree and painful (as growth is in real life). I feel the author’s portrayal was complex and layered, exactly as I would have asked.

I’m madly in love with Kerdan and still want to marry him. I am going to leave it at that because everything else I want to say IN ALL CAPS is a spoiler.

Darmik is hilarious as a dad, I’m just going to say. So is my Favorite Character of the original trilogy. <3

In short, I love this book. Geez, I’m grinning like an idiot just writing this review.

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Review: Midnight Thief (Midnight Thief, #1) by Livia Blackburne @lkblackburne

17566814.jpgGrowing up on Forge’s streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that’s not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs.

But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she’s not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he’s persistent—and darkly attractive—and Kyra can’t quite resist his pull.

Tristam of Brancel is a young Palace knight on a mission. After his best friend is brutally murdered by Demon Riders, a clan of vicious warriors who ride bloodthirsty wildcats, Tristam vows to take them down. But as his investigation deepens, he finds his efforts thwarted by a talented thief, one who sneaks past Palace defenses with uncanny ease.

When a fateful raid throws Kyra and Tristam together, the two enemies realize that their best chance at survival—and vengeance—might be to join forces. And as their loyalties are tested to the breaking point, they learn a startling secret about Kyra’s past that threatens to reshape both their lives.

In her arresting debut novel, Livia Blackburne creates a captivating world where intrigue prowls around every corner—and danger is a way of life.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

5 out of 5 stars

I’ve been following this author since I read Poison Dance, the prequel novella for this story. While I admit I pretty much picked this up because I love the villain, I did quickly fall in love with Kyra and Tristam.

The plot:

This has a truly YA feel to the book. The storytelling is straightforward, but layered. There are twists and turns, betrayals and backstabbing, but there is still a sense of hopefulness and optimism at the end. I’m not sure how else to explain it, but I did enjoy the style.

The characters:

I found it difficult to imagine Kyra’s accent and that’s my only complaint. She was intensely moral (one of my favorite character traits), highly skilled, and hardcore. I feel there’s quite a bit more to be revealed in her character and I’m excited to see where the series takes her!

Tristam, poor child. The other POV in the story, he is almost Kyra’s polar opposite. With more rigid and traditional ideals, he’s so set in his ways and determined to do the right thing…one of those characters you admire whilst getting SO FRUSTRATED.

My strong emotions regarding James turned out to be problematic. He’s the chief villain and did some horrible things and I didn’t care. I’m pretty sure he could pull a Loki and destroy half New York and I’d still love him.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to obtain Daughter of Dusk!

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