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

halayda

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! 🙂

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 🙂

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! 🙂

Reclaiming Shilo Snow by Mary Weber

Reclaiming-Shilo-Snow-book-cover-Mary-Weber

About the book:

She was far more capable than Earth’s leaders had accounted for—and they had no idea what she’d do next.
Known as a brilliant mind that could hack humanity’s darkest secrets, seventeen-year-old Sofi Snow is the most wanted teenager alive. She found her way to the icy, technologically brilliant planet of Delon to find Shilo, the brother everyone but Sofi believes is dead.
But as she and Ambassador Miguel partner to find her brother and warn those on Earth of Delon’s dark designs on humanity, Sofi’s memories threaten to overtake her, distorting everything she holds true. She knows the Delonese kept her in a dark, deceptive place . . . and destroyed a portion of her life. Now, the more they discover of Sofi’s past, the more Sofi feels herself unraveling—as each new revelation has her questioning the very existence of reality.
In this harrowing sequel to The Evaporation of Sofi Snow, Sofi and Miguel must trust each other and discover the secrets locked inside Sofi’s mind as the line between what’s real and what they imagine begins to slip away . . . threatening to take humanity with it.


My review:

For those of you who took my advice and read book one in this series, The Evaporation of Sofi Snow (you can read the review here, if you haven’t yet), you know it ended in one of those awful cliffhangers that made me want to scream, “WWWHHHHHYYYYYY????” Well, thankfully the wait is finally over, since Reclaiming Shilo Snow is set to be released in just a few days. And trust me, it was worth the wait.

While it took me a while to change gears from Weber’s Storm Siren world to her Sofi Snow world in the first book, I did not have that issue at all in Shilo Snow. The action picks up right where she left us hanging, and it does not quit until the end.

And she continues to peel back even more layers on Sofi and Miguel to reveal deeply scarred, yet dramatically beautiful characters that you can’t help but cheer for.

Weber did leave the ending a bit open, so I’m not sure if this is the last of the series or if she plans to continue the Snows’ adventures in this dystopian world or not. Either way, thank you Mary Weber for giving your readers some resolution and helping to ease the heartache you left us with last year. (Although, **minor spoiler alert** she did leave me with different heartache at the climax of the story!)

Thrilling, poignant, creative, fascinating…I definitely recommend you read Mary Weber’s Reclaiming Shilo Snow (and The Evaporation of Sofi Snow, if you haven’t experienced it yet.)

Many thanks to Thomas Nelson 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! 🙂

A Reluctant Assassin by J C Morrows

A Reluctant Assassin

About the book:

HER MISSION WAS SIMPLE

GET CLOSE TO THE PRINCE AND KILL HIM…

Kayden entered the palace under a lie — one designed to get her close to the prince. She may look like a princess but beneath the mask, a killer lays in wait for the perfect moment.

Dvarius was not ready to take the crown, nor was he ready for a wife…but due to his father’s unexpected death and an archaic law, he must find a bride before he is allowed to take his rightful place on the throne.

And the one woman he wants — just might be the one…who’s there to kill him.


My review:

This was an interesting story with a slightly different take on the fairy tale ideal of the prince falling in love with the pauper. I want to say that I loved it, but, honestly, there were a few things that just won’t allow me to give it a really good recommendation.

First, I felt like the story skimmed over some of the more important details and focused on some things that were maybe not as vital to the plot. For example, we really don’t have much of Kayden’s history with the Order, why she reacts in certain ways, or what the Order of the Moonstone is actually all about (besides sending young, beautiful women to kill people), but we do know that she has a closet full of clothes. Because the characters were not quite as fleshed out as they could have been, it did seem as if I knew more about what they were wearing than about what motivated them to speak or act.

Next, the flow of the story was often interrupted by random dashes and ellipses. Sometimes characters’ thoughts or speech would pause in strange places and I’d find myself having to read the same sentence a few times to make sure I understood just what was happening.

It was, however, an enjoyable read, and I would really like to know what happens to Kayden and Dvarius in the next book of the series.

But I would recommend you buy this in ebook format, in the hopes that you can adjust the font (which in the paperback version was an all-caps copperplate that was strange for me to read) to your liking.

**I did start by reading the VERY short Order of the Moonstone short story, “A Perilous Assignment.” It is a brief glimpse into how Kayden was chosen for the assignment. You certainly don’t have to read it, since the content of the prequel doesn’t really add any important information to the overall story. But it is interesting…

A Perilous Assignment

Sun and Moon by Desiree Williams

30047544From the publisher:

There is nothing in life that eighteen year old Zara craves more than her freedom. Stolen from her home in Cadrebia at the age of eight, Zara has spent more years than she cared to admit as a slave to the Tankadesh courts. Her days are filled with protecting the princess, while she spends nights entertaining the king and his officials with her mastery of weapons. Any spare moment in between, she plots escape.

Yet her hopes for freedom come to a crashing halt when a stranger arrives bearing the mark of her assigned lifemate, and he threatens war if she isn’t turned over into his care. But a lifemate is not part of the plan. Her dreams, of choosing her own path and being the master of her own will, weaken as her Moon seeks to claim his Sun.

Is it possible that this stranger, with gentle blue eyes and a ready smile, didn’t come to be her new master? That there could be more to his tale?

Zara soon finds that neither her captivity nor her parents’ deaths were mere random attacks. And by returning to Cadrebia, she may have put the future of the royal line—and her Moon—in jeopardy. While Zara breathes in her first taste of freedom, her enemies move in, seeking to rob Cadrebia of its blessed prophecy.

To keep what she holds dear, Zara must rise above the pain and uncertainty to claim the lifemate assigned to her, or more than her freedom will be stolen this time.


My (brief) Review:

I really enjoyed Sun and Moon. I must have, since I devoured it in just a day 🙂 I found it to be a unique and wonderful concept, and thought Desiree’s smooth writing definitely did the idea justice. She created an interesting world, peopled with multi-faceted, relatable characters, and tied it all together with heartstrings.

It made my heart flutter, made me laugh, made me tear up, all of it! Can’t wait to read another book by Desiree Williams 🙂