The Songweaver’s Vow by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

 

songweaverAbout the book:

Euthalia is rejected as a bride, traded to Viking raiders, and sacrificed to a strange god.

After that, things get interesting.

When Euthalia’s father trades her to Viking raiders, her best hope is to be made a wife instead of a slave. She gets her wish — sort of — when she is sacrificed as a bride to a god.

Her inhuman husband seems kind, but he visits only in the dark of night and will not allow her to look upon him. By day Euthalia becomes known as a storyteller, spinning ancient Greek tales to entertain Asgard’s gods and monsters.

When one of her stories precipitates a god’s murder and horrific retribution, Euthalia discovers there is a monster in her bed as well. Alone in a hostile Asgard, Euthalia must ally with a spiteful goddess to sway Odin himself before bloody tragedy opens Ragnarok, the prophesied end of the world.


My review:

Okay, honestly, I first judged this book by its gorgeous cover — I was absolutely drawn to it. I didn’t even bother to read the back matter; I just bought the book for the front cover! Then I realized it was about Norse mythology: a subject I’ve always been curious about, but never taken the time to study. Bonus! So I was totally excited to finally get a chance to read The Songweaver’s Vow.

So now, how can I describe this book? Awesome comes to mind. Also beautiful, tragic, amazing, intense, fascinating…I am still kind of staggered by how much I enjoyed a book that I bought just for its cover. 😉 Laura VAB has vivified Norse mythology in a way that my college mythology class could only ever dream of. I was quickly captured by the writing and swept up in the rich emotion and deft weaving of the plot. It was one of those books that I wanted to finish, but didn’t want to end.

If you enjoy Norse mythology, you’ll love The Songweaver’s Vow. If you’ve never read any or know little to nothing about Norse mythology, you’ll love The Songweaver’s Vow. Just trust me on this: get your own copy and get caught up in the magic! 🙂

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Halayda by Sarah Delena White

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About the book:

A mortal alchemist. A faerie king. A bond that transcends death.

Betrayed by a trusted mentor, Sylvie Imanthiya hides on the fringes of society, caring for half-fae orphans and trading her alchemical creations on the black market. She lives for the one night each season when she can see her dearest friend—a man whose destiny is far above hers.

King Taylan Ashkalabek knows better than to exchange halayda vows with a mortal. Even their friendship is a risk; love is an impossible dream. Then a brutal alchemical attack poisons his realm, unearthing a dark power within him—and leaving Sylvie with the ancient mark of Faerie’s savior.

Manifesting unpredictable abilities and aided by allies with their own secrets, Sylvie and Taylan journey into the wilds of Faerie to heal the damage and confront Casimir, an invincible star-fae determined to claim the realm as his own. But only their enemy knows Sylvie’s true capabilities—and Taylan’s weaknesses—and how to use them in his vicious schemes.

Her fate is life. His fate is death. With Faerie in the balance, Sylvie and Taylan must stand together before reality as they know it is destroyed.


My review:

I was not expecting this. I don’t really know what I expected, but I can honestly say that this book provided much more than I ever imagined it would. And all of it was good 🙂

Sarah Delena White brought her well-crafted world to life, filling it with beautifully flawed and quirky characters. I found myself cheering on Sylvie and Taylan all the way to the dramatic climax, which (**minor spoiler alert**) brought tears to my eyes as my heart wrenched. Her magic/alchemical system is fascinating–and great for creating unexpected plot twists.

Halayda is a marvelous take on the world of the fae, and I’m very much looking forward to heading back into that world in the next book. I highly recommend you read Halayda.

Happy reading! 🙂

What Blooms from Dust by James Markert

 

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About the book:

Just as Jeremiah Goodbye is set to meet his fate in the electric chair, a tornado tears down the prison walls, and he is given a second chance at life. With the flip of a coin, he decides to return to his home town of Nowhere, Oklahoma, to settle the score with his twin brother Josiah. But upon his escape, he enters a world he doesn’t recognize—one that has been overtaken by the Dust Bowl. And the gift he once relied on to guide him is as unrecognizable as the path back to Nowhere.

After one jolt in Old Sparky, Jeremiah sees things more clearly and begins to question the mysterious circumstances surrounding the murders he was accused of. On his journey home, he accidentally rescues a young boy who follows him the rest of the way, and the pair arrive at their destination where they are greeted by fearful townspeople. When the Black Sunday storm hits the very next day, the residents of Nowhere finally begin to let the past few years of hardship bury them under the weight of all that dust.

Unlikely heroes, Jeremiah and his new companion, Peter Cotton, try to protect the townspeople from themselves, but Jeremiah must face his nightmares and free himself from the guilt of flipping the coin on those men who died.

Filled with mystery and magic, What Blooms from Dust is the story of finding hope in the midst of darkness and discovering the beauty of unexpected kindness.


My review:

Though I’ve wanted to for a while, I’ve never read James Markert before. I knew that he wrote historical fiction, which I thoroughly enjoy reading, so I thought I’d give one of his books a go. Wow! I was overwhelmingly impressed by this book and can’t wait to grab another of his.

What Blooms from Dust is so much more than just a historical fiction set in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl. It’s a story of looking beyond the surface to the heart, of the freedom found only in truth, of the beauty of redemption. Markert’s writing reminds me a bit of Billy Coffey—that relaxed, Southern rhythm, mixed with a dose of the supernatural, and shaken with a twist of the unknown. In other words, beautiful!

One of the most impressive characters (in a loose sense) in the story for me was the dust itself—the power it wielded over the people and how it could so change someone was both mind-blowing and heart-breaking. Although this was definitely a fictional account of the Dust Bowl, it still granted me a deeper respect for those who persevered through that time in America’s history.

This is a powerful story that will leave you almost as breathless as the characters battling the Dust Bowl. I highly recommend you pick up your own copy of What Blooms from Dust and a box of Kleenex.

Many thanks to Thomas Nelson and the BookLook Blogger Review Program for the copy of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

Salt by Pauline Creeden

Salt

About the book:

Her kind treats her as less-than-human, but she’s always been so much more.

Mermaid life has never been easy for Verona. Her scars give evidence of her abuse. When her day of reckoning arrives, she is determined to endure exile. According to her father’s experience, exile is better than becoming a land-walker and risking her life among the humans.

However, when she saves the life of a drowning human boy, she inadvertently sets off a chain of events which force her to choose a path: stay with the humans she has become attached to or return home to a life of scorn. A savage hunter draws closer, threatening even the humans. Her only hope is to keep everyone safe until the next full moon, but those around her devise their own plans.


My review:

This was an okay read, but I honestly can’t say that I loved it. It was your typical mermaid story, a modern version of The Little Mermaid. I like mermaid stories, but this one just wasn’t able to keep me wanting to find out what was going to happen next or how the characters would react to the obstacles the author threw at them.

In fact, I found that most of the obstacles were to be expected, fairly typical mermaid tropes. And the villains…oh, the villains. The villains felt to me as if she needed bad guys, so she picked some random evil characters (werewolves & witches) and threw them in. There was no real substance to them, so I couldn’t even summon the energy to really dislike them or fear for the characters’ safety.

I never like to give a less than happy review, but unless you can’t get enough stories about mermaids, I just can’t recommend you take time out of your already busy day to read this one. Bummer!

 

The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie Reeder

 

39719906About the book:

For fans of Caraval and The Greatest Showman: a quest for fame and fortune in a stardust-powered empire brings debt, scandal, and danger in spades.

The Electrical Menagerie, one-of-a-kind robotic roadshow, is bankrupt.

Sylvester Carthage, illusionist and engineer, has the eccentric imagination the Menagerie needs to succeed creatively — but none of the people skills. Fast-talking Arbrook Huxley, meanwhile, has all the savvy the Menagerie needs to succeed commercially — but none of the scruples.

To save their show, Carthage & Huxley stake everything in a royal talent competition, vying for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to perform for the Future Celestial Queen. In this stardust-and-spark-powered empire of floating islands and flying trains, the Menagerie’s bid at fame and fortune means weathering the glamorous and cutthroat world of critics, high society, and rival magicians — but with real conspiracy lurking beneath tabloid controversy, there’s more at stake in this contest than the prize.

Behind the glittery haze of flash paper and mirrors, every competitor has something to hide… and it’s the lies Carthage & Huxley tell each other that may cost them everything.


My review:

I had no idea what to expect from this book, but I seriously devoured it!

Mollie Reeder has crafted a cast of characters you can’t keep yourself from becoming emotionally involved with. Each character is both damaged and redeemed, lovable and frustrating. Carthage and Huxley are a fabulous pair, a kind of steampunk Oscar and Felix. And I now have a special place in my heart for Dominic (I honestly never thought I’d find a robot loveable, but…) Okay, not every character is loveable—her villains and red herrings are properly villainous, but still done well enough that you’re left guessing who really is behind everything till nearly the end of the story.

And the idea of a traveling circus made up of illusions and robots? Genius! I so enjoyed reading about Carthage’s fantastical demonstrations and all of the work that went into each one. While it was completely fictional, it still gave me a new respect for both the art and the intelligence of illusion.

Overall, The Electrical Menagerie was a very entertaining read, and I look forward to the next adventure in the Celestial Isles. I’d highly recommend you grab your own copy 🙂

Blind Betrayal by Nancy Mehl

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About the book:

Deputy U.S. Marshal Casey Sloane has worked at the St. Louis marshals office for two years and is given a routine assignment to help transport a reporter to D.C. to testify before a grand jury. Valerie, the reporter, was writing a story about an up-and-coming environmentalist who suddenly disappeared and, she later discovered, whose backers purportedly have ties to a terrorist.

When the seemingly ordinary assignment suddenly takes a shocking turn, Casey is forced to put aside her own feelings about the unexpected reappearance of a man from her past as she and two other marshals take Valerie on the run. And as it becomes dangerously clear Valerie’s testimony has even bigger implications than they knew, they’ll do whatever it takes to make it out alive.


My review:

Nancy Mehl always manages to keep me turning pages, and Blind Betrayal is no exception. Her writing is light and easy-to-read, while still crammed with tension and drama. I read this one while waiting for my mom to graduate from physical therapy (yay!), and it made the time fly by.

Her characterization is top-notch, and her delivery of that background information, that deep-down motivation, creates a wonderful blend of sympathy, empathy, and “Seriously?” that keeps the reader wanting more.

Now, to be honest, there were some parts of the plot that seemed way too convenient, and reminded me that this was fiction and all had to be wrapped up. But overall, I was entertained by this read.

I have not read the first two books in the series, and I wonder if that may have given me deeper insight into some of the tertiary characters. Yet, I don’t feel it’s is absolutely necessary to read them first, since I did enjoy reading Blind Betrayal, and I think you would enjoy it, too.

Many thanks to Bethany house for the copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

 

King’s War by Jill Williamson

king-s-war-the-kinsman-chronicles-book-3About the book:

One battle is over, but the war has just begun. They escaped the Five Realms and have found a home, but peace is much harder to find. The aftermath of the Battle of Sarikar should have been a time to mourn those lost in the slaughter. The enemies of Armania are many, however, and when one steps back to regroup, another surges forward in attack.

While the remnant must take responsibility for the evil they brought to Er’Rets, it would seem that something just as dark already existed in this new world. The growing struggle between Armania and Barthel Rogedoth is but a pale reflection of a far more dangerous battle for the souls of humanity.

And so begins this awe-inspiring conclusion to Jill Williamson’s Kinsman Chronicles. The Hadar family and their allies prepare to make one final stand in the name of Arman. There shall be war–in Er’Rets and in the Veil–to vanquish evil or be ruled by darkness.


My review:

What a fantastic end to an utterly epic series! I wondered if she could top the drama and intensity of the first two books in the series (King’s Folly and King’s Blood), but I should never have doubted Jill Williamson. King’s War was everything special about the first two parts of the trilogy and even more.

As with all three books in the trilogy, King’s War is comprised of three parts (which you can purchase individually or as one entire novel): “The Reluctant King;” “A Deliverer Comes;” and “Warriors of the Veil.”

Each part brings new obstacles for the characters to learn from and grow through. I continue to be fascinated by Williamson’s deft and beautiful world building, her intricate magic systems, and her ability to keep all of the many characters constantly developing throughout the books. Oli became one of my favorite characters as I read his perspective in this book, and there were moments I even kind of liked Charlon, which says a lot to me about how skilled Williamson is a creating multi-faceted characters.

I’m so sad that this is the final book! I have been thoroughly entranced by Jill Williamson’s Kinsman Chronicles for the past few years and feel a bit like my friends have all left me now that the series is over. Guess I will have to re-read them! 🙂

Or maybe I should finally dive into her Blood of Kings trilogy (which, though it was written years before the Kinsman Chronicles, actually takes place in Er’Rets 500 years after the events in the Kinsman series.) Sounds like a plan!

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Many thanks to Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for the digital copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂