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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Masque by W.R. Gingell

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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. 🙂

 

Spice Bringer by H.L. Burke

 

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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!

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! 🙂

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! 🙂