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 🙂

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The Tomb of the Sea Witch by Kyle Robert Shultz

 

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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!

Slumbering by C.S. Johnson

 

24263233About the book:

Sixteen-year-old Hamilton Dinger leads a charmed life. He’s got the grades for the top of the class, the abilities of a star athlete and Tetris player, and the charisma to get away with anything. Everything seems to be going along perfectly, including his plans to ask out Gwen Kessler, as he enters into tenth grade at Apollo Central High School. Everything, that is, until a meteor crashes into the city, releasing the Seven Deadly Sinisters and their leader, Orpheus, from their celestial prison, and awakening Hamilton’s longtime dormant supernatural abilities.

Suddenly Hamilton finds himself reluctantly allied with his self-declared mentor, Elysian, a changeling dragon, and Starry Knight, a beautiful but dangerous warrior, as they seek to protect the souls of Apollo City from the Sinisters and their evil intentions. Can Hamilton overcome his ignorance and narrow-mindedness to see what is truly real? Can he give up his self-proclaimed entitlement to happiness in order to follow the call of a duty he doesn’t want? More importantly, will he willingly sacrifice all he has to find out the truth?


My review:

It was a struggle for me to finish this book. I love the idea of a type of spiritual warfare brought into the open and people stepping into the roles God has defined for them. Unfortunately, the vast majority of this book was simply the teenage protagonist’s awfully gigantic ego and fairly whiny petulance on display. I expected him to throw himself to the ground and beat his fists on the floor every time he didn’t get his way (which was often). I’m not sure if the author wanted her readers to dislike her main character so much, but I could not get behind him and cheer him on. I honestly was half-hoping that, once the Sinisters finally showed up in the story (which seemed to take forever to happen) they would do him in. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to smack a character more than I did with Hamilton Dinger.

The series is something like seven books long, so there’s plenty of opportunity for the story to get better. It was an okay story, but I truly feel that the author could’ve condensed half of the non-action in the first book and made it read more quickly and enjoyably. So, here’s hoping that Dinger actually does grow in maturity and faith in the next book. Otherwise, I might not be able to stomach reading more. Such a bummer!

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! 🙂

To Raise a King by Justin Orton

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About the book:

When Matt escapes a Scottish boys’ home to search for his parents, he instead finds himself fleeing for his life. Cast back in time to the brutality of 6th-century Scotland, he is sent on a dangerous quest – a race to recover the missing fragments of King Arthur’s broken crown in an epic bid to save two worlds from certain destruction.

Love, betrayal and murder follow Matt as he battles against a backdrop of powerful magic and political intrigue that soon erupts into open war. Matt’s faith in himself, and his trust in his friends will be put to the ultimate test as he fights to Raise a King.

“To Raise a King” is the first novel in the “Broken Crown” series, and builds on the original Arthurian legend that says Arthur did not die, but was placed in eternal sleep by Merlin.

Follow Matt’s struggle for survival, and his harrowing journey across Scotland. Experience a young man’s struggle as he deals with the loss of innocence, an unexpected romance, and the shocking discovery of his own heritage.

“The Broken Crown” provides a remarkable glimpse into dark-age Scotland, and weaves together history and legend to produce an action packed tale rich in characters and adventure.


My review:

This was an interesting read, but I’m still not sure how I really feel about it. I’ve been fascinated by the legend of King Arthur for most of my life and enjoy seeing all of the different interpretations of the stories. To Raise a King, while it is definitely a reworking of the legend of King Arthur, focuses a lot on Merlin: his backstory and his role in Arthur’s life and “death.”

And that’s where it gets really weird. Orton has chosen to depict Merlin as a “Marsonian” — a former inhabitant of Mars. Yep, you heard me right, Merlin’s a martian. Everything else in the story related to the legends of Arthur is very well-researched and lines up with recent historical finds, so the whole martian thing just seemed so out of left field for me. I was glad to get past that section of the book and get lost in the quest.

My other big issue was head-hopping. We jump perspectives a lot (though it does get better toward the end of the book), skipping from one character’s ideas/thoughts/views to another’s with no indication that there is a change until you have to stop for a moment and figure out whose eyes you are looking through. It makes it a bit hard sometimes to stay in the flow of the story.

Yet, Orton’s descriptions of the scenery in Scotland are absolutely lovely. I was mesmerized by the beauty he describes and so want to be walking through those glens and alongside those lochs. And the overall plot following Matt’s quest was definitely enjoyable.

So, while it was not a perfect read for me, there was enough to make me kind of like this book and even want to read the next book in the series. If you like your Arthurian legends with a healthy dash of science fiction, you’d enjoy reading this one, too.

Many thanks to Justin Orton 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! 🙂

 

**Note for parents of readers: while this is a YA novel (the main character is only 17), I would rate it a PG-13++ for language, violence, and some sexual content. And it is definitely not a Christian novel, so don’t be expecting anything along those lines. 🙂

Mythical Doorways by Fellowship of Fantasy

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About the book:

Eleven Tales of Magical, Mysterious, Mythical Doorways!

Step through portals and into adventure as the authors of the Fellowship of Fantasy take you on another journey into fantastic worlds. Travel through time, space, and realities to encounter monsters, mechanical foxes, and the Fates themselves. You’ll fly with dragons, save implausible beasts, and perhaps find your true home. Choose your path wisely, for dangers lurk in the lands beyond.

In the third anthology from the Fellowship of Fantasy, eleven authors promise you journeys into fairy lands hidden within the modern world, futuristic universities, and lands of ancient myth. So what are you waiting for? Cross through our Doorways for the adventure of a lifetime!


My review:

This was a fabulous anthology filled with a magical blend of stories all swirling around the common theme of doorways and how they can change a life. Each author brought a new angle on the power, the promise, the pressure, or the predicament of passing through a doorway to find all that could be on the other side.

I did have a few favorites, including Savannah Jezowski’s “Well of Fate,” based on Norse Mythology and with a squirrel for a main character; Bokerah Brumley’s “Door Number Four,” whose main character I could totally empathize with in his fear of failure; Laurie Lucking’s “Threshold,” a sweet tale of having to choose; and Arthur Daigle’s “Idiot’s Graveyard,” about the Sorcerer Lord Jayden and his assistant Dana and how they save the kingdom. I also really enjoyed H.L. Burke’s “Jericho and the Magician’s Daughter.” Having read the first of her Spellsmith & Carver Gaslamp Fantasy series, it was really cool to read the backstory of some of the characters in those books. I will admit that there was one story I didn’t finish—it just wasn’t my cup of tea. But that’s the beauty of an anthology: there’s something for everyone!

If you’re looking for a great read, grab your own copy today (they are free on Amazon!!). Not only will you enjoy the anthology, you might even find your next favorite author from the talented bunch at Fellowship of Fantasy! Happy reading 🙂

The Story Peddler by Lindsay A. Franklin

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About the book:

SELLING STORIES IS A DEADLY BUSINESS

Tanwen doesn’t just tell stories—she weaves them into crystallized sculptures that sell for more than a few bits. But the only way to escape the control of her cruel mentor and claw her way from poverty is to set her sights on something grander: becoming Royal Storyteller to the king.

During her final story peddling tour, a tale of treason spills from her hands, threatening the king himself. Tanwen goes from peddler to prey as the king’s guard hunts her down…and they’re not known for their mercy. As Tanwen flees for her life, she unearths long-buried secrets and discovers she’s not the only outlaw in the empire. There’s a rebel group of weavers…and they’re after her too.


My review:

The first time I heard about this book last year, I knew I had to read it. What a captivating idea: a storyteller who weaves tales into crystallized sculptures! And once I got my little hands on this book, it outpaced my expectations so greatly. 🙂

I was drawn into Tanwen’s world immediately and didn’t want to ever come out! Tir is well-built and easy to imagine and filled with a charming cast of characters you can’t help but fall in love with.

But the story itself is the best part of all. It is a tale of finding strength in weakness, of love conquering even death, and of the power of art to bring beauty and truth and hope. The Story Peddler is a delightful tale with a compelling message and you don’t want to miss it!

How do I put into words how wonderful this book is?? It’s pretty impossible, but I will say that Lindsay A. Franklin has brought a fascinating premise to extraordinary life, weaving her own story strands into a lovely piece of art for all to enjoy. And I can’t recommend it highly enough 🙂 Buy it! Buy it now! Preorder it and then wait by the mailbox for it to arrive, make a cup of tea to relax after all the anxiety of waiting, then snuggle in for a fabulous read!!

Many, many thanks to Lindsay and Gilead Publishing/Enclave for the advanced copy of this wonderful book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂