Mark of the Raven by Morgan Busse

About the book:

Lady Selene is the heir to the Great House of Ravenwood and the secret family gift of dreamwalking. As a dreamwalker, she can enter a person’s dreams and manipulate their greatest fears or desires. For the last hundred years, the Ravenwood women have used their gift of dreaming for hire to gather information or to assassinate.

As she discovers her family’s dark secret, Selene is torn between upholding her family’s legacy–a legacy that supports her people–or seeking the true reason behind her family’s gift.

Her dilemma comes to a head when she is tasked with assassinating the one man who can bring peace to the nations, but who will also bring about the downfall of her own house.

One path holds glory and power, and will solidify her position as Lady of Ravenwood. The other path holds shame and execution. Which will she choose? And is she willing to pay the price for the path chosen?

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My review:

If the cover doesn’t tempt you, if the description doesn’t interest you enough, then I hope this review makes you want to buy this book, because it’s an awesome read!

Selene is a wonderfully drawn character: a young woman who so dearly wants to do what is best for her family and for her nation, but who even more desperately wants to do what is right. Every time her “mask” dropped into place, my heart broke for her, since we’ve all been there–needing to set aside what we feel/want/need for the sake of keeping the peace or doing what we’re supposed to do. And I love that she sought truth above all, even knowing the consequences of that search.

All the other characters in the novel, whether they play major roles or bit parts, are all well-crafted and brought beautifully to life. It’s this great variety of characters that helps to keep this story moving swiftly.

And Morgan Busse has built a fantastic world, filled with beauty, intrigue, passion, political rivalry, swordplay, and wyverns! Can’t ask for much more than that!

Seriously, Mark of the Raven is excellent, and I highly recommend you pick up a copy today!

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

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Rothana Blog Tour!

Today I’m so excited to be a part of the blog tour for Sarah Delena White’s second installment in her Star-Fae Trilogy, Rothana!

About the book:

A new queen falls. A death lord rises. An ancient foe loomsin the shadows.

Sylvie Imanthiya is desperate to lead Faeriewell and deepen the bond with her husband, former king Taylan Ashkalabek. Butall hope of that vanishes when the winter solstice ceremony ends in disaster,stranding her and Taylan in the Deathrealm, and stripping the kingdom from her.

With Faerie in chaos, Zad and Diza are separatedonce again: Zad to reconcile with an old mentor to stabilize the kingdom, andDiza to confront the nefarious Casimir in the mortal realm. But Casimir claimsthat a greater evil seeks to destroy both realms, an evil that Diza’s uniquedeath magic can hold at bay—if she could only remember how.

In the Deathrealm, Taylan is succumbing to thelure of specters from his past, and pushing away Sylvie’s love. Overwhelmed bydecay and darkness, Sylvie must summon unexpected magic from the soul of Kyureto fight for her convictions and her husband’s heart.

Shadows divide them. Their friends are in peril.If Sylvie fails, her marriage and her world will fall.

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My review:

My heart barely made it through this book! It was packed so full of emotion, so fraught with action, that it kept me reading well past my bedtime. 

The characters we met in Halayda gained so much more depth and fullness in Rothana, and I grew to love them and cheer for them even more. I love how Sarah Delena White displayed their weaknesses right alongside their strengths and how she showed the power contained within love and forgiveness.

And the action? Non-stop! I thought Sylvie and the crew had gone through a lot in Halayda, but that was just the warm-up! If the author keeps up this pace, I don’t know how anyone will be able to make it to the end of the trilogy! 🙂 So exciting, yet filled with heart-rending moments of beauty at the same time.

Rothana is a beautiful book, and I’d highly recommend it be the next book you pick up. 🙂

Many, many thanks to Uncommon Universes Press and Laura A. Grace of Unicorn Quester for the advanced copy of this book for review purposes and for allowing me to be a part of this book tour. Congratulations to Sarah Delena White – I hope the third book comes quickly! 😀

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And if, for some reason, you need more convincing to want to read Rothana, here’s an excerpt to tempt you:

The world was all wrong.

Maybe it was the pungent incense that burned Sylvie’s nose or the off-kilter beat of the drums. Maybe it was the way every face in the crowd turned toward her, wearing shadowy snarls, as she emerged from the mountain pass onto the banks of the hidden lake.

She gripped Taylan’s arm and drew herself up to her full height as they moved forward with deliberate steps. He was tense beneath her grasp, and his free hand twitched as if eager for his sword. He looked down at her with a brief, reassuring glance before returning his gaze to the crowd.

“You’re leaving a trail of flowers again,” he whispered.

“Drat!” Sylvie looked behind them. Sure enough, thin leaves were springing up in her footsteps, unfurling into blue and yellow blossoms that were bright against the bare ground. She waved her hand toward them, willing them to sink back into the earth. They grew a few inches taller, and she sighed in defeat. “I’m a faerie queen who can’t control my own power. No wonder everyone here is glaring daggers at me.”

“You could always strangle them with vines.” Taylan gave a dark smile.

Sylvie smacked his arm. “Not funny. I’m trying to break the cycle of violence, remember?”

She resisted the urge to chide him further. Taylan had ruled this Court for twelve hundred years before passing his power to her, living every day with the threat of assassination. He’d inherited the kingdom by killing the previous monarch, and even though he’d done so to end a tyrant’s reign, that legacy had followed him through the ages. Faerie took on the qualities of its ruler, as all the magic was ultimately connected to that person.

One more reason why she couldn’t let nerves get the better of her, especially on a festival night. Already the glamour pulsed around her, charged with emotion from the gathered crowd. Every stone in the glade, every overhanging tree limb, every faerie who watched her movements would be a mirror of herself.

A breath of wind sent icy prickles across her skin. She clutched the velvet folds of her cloak and pulled it over her low-cut dress. Taylan looked slightly more comfortable, shrouded in layered black robes. Always black these days.

His gaze was fixed on something beyond the waiting crowd. His posture went rigid.

“Is something wrong?” Sylvie whispered.

He was silent for a moment. “No. It’s nothing.”

Sylvie followed his gaze, but there was nothing but a line of somber evergreen trees.

A group of Maithe nobles twined in a circular dance on the edge of the lake, their steps heavy with the solemnity of the night. It was a dance, not of merrymaking, but of ceremony, to bid farewell to the autumn. Each wore garments like layered leaves in the icy hues of winter, and their long golden hair was bound in intricate braids. They swayed to the beat of the drums, lost in the rhythm of their dance… except for their eyes, which fixed on Sylvie in challenge.

A flash of red caught her attention. Zad and Diza spun along the outskirts of the dance, Diza’s fiery hair flying loose behind her. Zad’s eyes were filled with deep admiration and affection as he watched his wife. Diza let out a laugh as they whirled, though there was a hollowness to the sound. Zad leaned down and whispered something in her ear, and the couple slipped away from the dance and strolled around the edge of the crowd, hands poised above the weapons hidden in their fine clothing.

On the other side of the dance, General Sidika stood on the bank of the lake, her arms folded and her watchful gaze on the festival-goers. Sidika never danced.

Sylvie shivered as she turned back to Taylan.

“What’s wrong?” Taylan asked, leaning down and brushing his cheek against hers.

“Everything.Except us.” She lifted her chin, meeting his lips. His kiss sent fire throughher, and she clutched his arms, fingers digging into his silk robes as if hemight slip from her grasp. “Come on, let’s get this over with.”

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I know, right?!?!

If you want to know more, check out the other stops on the blog tour for fabulous interviews, behind-the-scenes features, and more:

Monday, November 26th

Tuesday, November 27th  

Wednesday, November 28th

Thursday, November 29th  

Friday, November 30th

Saturday, December 1st

Monday, December 3rd

Tuesday, December 4th

Wednesday, December 5th

Thursday, December 6th

Friday, December 7th

Saturday, December 8th

Facebook Party

Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/697422377305289/

Join Uncommon Universes Press and Laura A. Grace of Unicorn Quester to celebrate the launch of Rothana by Sarah Delena White! Includes games, giveaways, exclusive behind-the-scenes, and more. Also features guest authors Bethany A. Jennings and Morgan L. Busse. Save the date to hang out with these fabulous authors!

PurchaseLinks

Amazon Barnes & NobleSigned Paperback

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42637351-rothana

Masque by W.R. Gingell

masque

About the book:

Beauty met the Beast and there was . . . Bloody murder?

It’s the Annual Ambassadorial Ball in Glause, and Lady Isabella Farrah, the daughter of New Civet’s Ambassador, is feeling pleasantly scintillated.
In the library is Lord Pecus, a charming gentleman whose double mask hides a beastly face, and who has decided that Isabella is the very person to break the Pecus curse.
In the ball-room is young Lord Topher, who is rapidly falling in love with an older woman.
And in the card-room, lying in a pool of his own blood, is the body of one of Isabella’s oldest friends: Raoul, Civet’s Head Guardsman. The papers sewn into his sash seem to suggest espionage gone wrong, but Isabella is not so certain.
Lord Pecus, as Commander of the Watch, is of the opinion that Isabella should keep out of the investigation and out of danger. Isabella is of the opinion that it is her murder to investigate, and that what a certain Beast-Lord doesn’t know won’t hurt him. . . .
Will Isabella find the murderer before Lord Pecus does, or will she end her investigation as a bloody spatter on the parlour floor?


My review:

This was such a fun read! It was a fabulous combination of some of my favorite genres: I’d describe it as an Austen-esque, fantasy, murder mystery with a fairytale twist. What’s not to like about that? 🙂

There was so much imagination in this story, from the very unusual way in which people were murdered to the actions of and interactions between the different nations of Glause and Civet to the banter of Bella and Lord Pecus to the Austen-esque propriety that hovered over nearly all of Bella’s actions (unless, of course, she was investigating!). I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book!

And I truly feel it would appeal to a wide range of readers, since it has so many interesting facets. From murder mystery to romance to fantasy and just about everything in between, Masque has it all. I’d highly recommend you check it out!

 

Many thanks to the Fellowship of Fantasy Book Club for introducing me to this book. 🙂

 

A Hideous Beauty by Jack Cavanaugh

 

hideous beauty

About the book:

This isn’t the world you think it is…

Every day they slip across our borders to infiltrate our government, our schools, our neighborhoods.

Homeland security can’t stop them.

The armed forces are no threat to them.

Powerful and unseen, they cannot be stopped.

They have been doing this for millennia.

On what should have been the best day of his life, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Grant Austin learns of a plan to assassinate the president of the United States. Every attempt to sound the alarm is thwarted, and Grant soon finds himself at the center of an even greater battle that predates time as he stands alone against ancient powers and unspeakable evil — evil that can only be described as a hideous beauty.


My review:

I guess the best way I can explain  this book is that it is kind of a combination of Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness, in its bringing spiritual warfare to life; Tosca Lee’s Demon, in its telling the history of angels/fallen angels; and maybe even a bit of Joel C. Rosenberg’s works in its adventures in D.C. politics.

It was an relatively engaging read, with plenty of action (more towards the end), interesting enough characters, and an intriguing take on spiritual warfare. However, I unfortunately didn’t feel like it lived up to its blurb. For most of the book, the focus was so much more on the main character, Grant Austin, than on the spiritual battle, that I found my mind wandering while I read, having to go back and re-read to figure out what was going on. And, while I know it’s a work of fiction, I didn’t always agree with the theology presented, so I got frustrated with some of the characters. I also set the book down several times, debating about whether or not I should finish it.

I’m glad I did finish it, because the climactic scene was more compelling than I expected it to be. If the rest of the series keeps up with the level the first book was at near the end, I would definitely read the remaining books when Enclave publishes them.

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

Spice Bringer by H.L. Burke

 

spice bringer

About the book:

A deadly disease. A vanishing remedy. A breathless journey.

All her life, Niya’s known she will die young from the fatal rasp. She survives only with the aid of vitrisar spice and a magical, curmudgeonly fire salamander named Alk. Then an ambitious princess burns down the vitrisar grove in an effort to steal Alk so she can claim her rightful throne. Joined by Jayesh, a disgraced monk, Niya and Alk must flee to the faraway Hidden Temple with the last vitrisar plant, or all who suffer from the rasp will perish.

But even as Niya’s frustration and banter with Jayesh deepen to affection, the rasp is stealing away her breath and life.

For a girl with limited time and a crippling quest, love may be more painful than death.


My review:

What a wonderful read! Burke has created a beautiful world, filled it with fascinating and touching characters, and wrapped them all up in a plot that keeps you reading well past your bed time.

But, oh the feels! I had to work very hard not to ugly cry during one part (especially because I was in public, waiting in the doctor’s office lobby). But to me, that means that I fell in love with the characters enough that I truly cared what happened to them – a hallmark of great storytelling! And H.L. Burke definitely knows how to tell a great story.

I’d highly recommend you grab your own copy of Spice Bringer (and a box of Kleenex). It’s a lovely read that will stay with you long after the last page!

Aerisia: Land Beyond the Sunset by Sarah Ashwood

 

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About the book:

The mystery of other worlds is not one Hannah Winters ever thought she’d solve. However, the day she spots a brown-robed stranger with a magical staff in a neighbor’s field is the day she also discovers Aerisia, a magical land beyond Earth’s sunset. Here in Aerisia, Hannah is believed to be the Artan, a legendary heroine prophesied to deliver Aerisia from the Dark Powers. Plenty of people, including the Simathe, a race of immortal warriors, and the Moonkind, people of the Moon, are willing to help her discover her true identity, but Hannah’s just an ordinary girl from Earth. She doesn’t have any latent magical abilities and she’s not the Artan. However, her allies aren’t seeing it that way. Neither are her enemies. In fact, Hannah’s life is in jeopardy nearly from the moment she arrives in Aerisia. And becoming the Artan may be the only way to survive…


My review:

I grabbed this book a while back, because I was intrigued by the idea and thought the cover was kind of cool. Due to my crazy schedule, it took me a while to get to it, but once I did I flew through it! It was a very enjoyable read.

At times, I’ll admit, Hannah frustrated me. But that’s because she was real – she behaved pretty much as I would expect a normal young woman to behave when she’s been basically kidnapped. Yet, even more importantly, she does try to grow and change, even though she tends to forget the progress and opt for trouble once in a while.

The world-building is wonderful, and the magic system is very interesting and well-crafted. I enjoyed hearing the backgrounds of the different peoples in Aerisia and how Ashwood developed each with a purpose. Wonderfully done!

If you like fantasy, you’ll enjoy Aerisia: Land Beyond the Sunset. But make sure you also get at least the second book in the series, because (*minor spoiler alert*) there is so much more to this story that we don’t know yet! I would certainly recommend this book to my friends.

Happy reading 🙂

The Tomb of the Sea Witch by Kyle Robert Shultz

 

tomb of the sea witch

About the Book:

Private detective Nick Beasley used to be a debunker of magic–and a human being. Then he found out magic is real. The hard way. Now he’s on the run from a powerful council of enchanters who want him dead, along with his little brother Crispin and the renegade enchantress Lady Cordelia Beaumont.

So when Cordelia suggests going undercover at a stronghold of the Council’s power–the Warrengate Academy of Advanced Magic–Nick isn’t exactly thrilled with the idea. Cordelia insists that the school may hold the key to Nick regaining his humanity: an ancient spell created by the Sea Witch from the tale of the Little Mermaid.

But the mission proves to be more complicated than Beaumont and Beasley had expected. An ancient threat is rising from the deep, bringing an army of the dead along with it. Shocking revelations send Nick, Cordelia, and Crispin on a harrowing journey under the sea.

The Sea Witch is not quite as dead as everyone believes…and her secrets will change everything.


My review:

Kyle Robert Shultz has a knack for creating wonderful stories. He takes classic tales and turns them upside-down, spins them around, and mashes them together – and all in a great way! 🙂 I so enjoy all of the allusions he tucks into his stories and how he can tie multiple genres together so seamlessly.

The Tomb of the Sea Witch is the second book in the Beaumont and Beasley series, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it (just as with the first book, The Beast of Talesend). The story flows smoothly, the writing  is both relaxed and intelligent, and the characters make me laugh. I love the witty banter that is tossed back and forth constantly. It makes the characters feel real, even though they are all fantastical beasts and enchanters and dragons and such. 🙂

I most definitely recommend you pick up your own copy of The Tomb of the Sea Witch and enjoy. Just remember, reading in public might cause people to give you funny looks when you giggle out loud! Happy reading!