Book Reviews

In the stunning conclusion to the epic, New York Times bestselling Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks, kingdoms clash as Kip must finally escape his family’s shadow in order to protect the land and people he loves.

Gavin Guile, once the most powerful man the world had ever seen, has been laid low. He’s lost his magic, and now he is on a suicide mission. Failure will condemn the woman he loves. Success will condemn his entire empire.


As the White King springs his great traps and the Chromeria itself is threatened by treason and siege, Kip Guile must gather his forces, rally his allies, and scramble to return for one impossible final stand.

At last, the nine year wait is over!

This book is everything I was hoping for in a conclusion. I laughed, I cried, I was on the edge of my seat. I pretty much took just a catnap during the past 24 hours to finish this book because I didn’t want to put it down.

You’ll see the encounters you are probably expecting, but the character arcs have nice unexpected twists and really delve into some great emotional stuff as each one comes to terms with who they are and what they want. They also have some pretty epic highs and lows throughout the story. I was really happy with how it all ended.

The best part was that each main character was given what I felt was pretty equal time in the overall story. I didn’t feel like anyone got shorted and when the point of view changed, I was eager to read it instead of feeling sullen like I was a bit in the last book. I feel like this is a much stronger book than the previous one and it’s my new favorite.


A familiar is a life-long companion. Choose wisely.

It’s hard being the youngest in a family of witches known for their power. It’s even harder when that magical power has all but passed you by. Still, I was doing okay for myself. I like to think I was proving to the rest of my family that magic wasn’t a requirement to living.

Then Aunt Opal became the prime suspect in a murder investigation. Wouldn’t you know it would happen right when everyone else in the family but me was out of town. Now it’s up to me to prove her innocence, and a little magic could go a long way in helping me do that. My aunt’s been after me to get a familiar for quite a while now. They are known for helping a witch channel her power and even strengthen it. So, want to or not, allergies or not, I did it. I went to an animal shelter and found my familiar. A cute little black kitty. The allergy medicine companies were going to love me. But for some reason, this little guy didn’t make me sneeze. Kind of weird, actually. Not that I was complaining.

I just really wish I’d known more about him before I did the binding spell…

The cover immediately captured my attention and sparked my NEED to buy this book. I’m a sucker for cute witchy covers and have a tendency to buy or borrow these without batting an eyelash. It also helped that I know the author, so I knew I’d be in good hands.

I wasn’t disappointed. The heroine has a lovely, snarky voice and spunky attitude as she struggles to earn her keep with non-magical jobs since her actual magic could fill a thimble and still have room left to spare, to paraphrase her inner thoughts at one point. The murder mystery is something she can handle since she’s been studying up on PI work to supplement her occasional bounty hunting and photography. That almost becomes a side story as a really funny problem develops when she decides to finally break down and get a familiar. HAHA! Nope, not gonna spoil that surprise for you. She also has a tendril of romantic awareness that may or may not continue, we’ll have to see in the next book.

The story goes at a decent pace and you get a lot of background about the character’s daily life but it’s never boring. The ending wrapped up the current big issue nicely while leaving off with the setup for her next task, which will be in book 2. I can’t wait to read it! But I will, because I have my own story to write.


Only monsters summon fire by magic. It’s a sin against the sun god and a crime against the king. The punishment is death.

But when sixteen-year-old Mina discovers fire magic runs in her family’s blood, it’s just the beginning of the secrets her father has been keeping from her. When her father is murdered, this half-starved peasant girl finds herself on the run—pursued across the desert by the soldiers and guards of the noble Houses. To survive, she knows she’ll have to abandon her past and learn the way of the sword. But only boys are allowed to carry a blade. There’s only one solution…

Disguised as a young nobleman, Mina must make a new life for herself in the heart of her enemies. But she knows she can’t keep up the masquerade forever. With time running out, which will she choose to find—the truth or revenge?


I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review.

I was really excited to read this book, especially since I’m a sucker for strong heroines and I also love the idea of pretending to be a man in order to do things forbidden to women.

Mina, the heroine, starts off with the crazy idea of unmasking a man she thinks is hiding fire magic. She wants to prove herself and is sometimes young and dumb and impulsive (traits she keeps throughout the story). Naturally, things go from bad to worse when her plan backfires and she winds up on the run as her own fire magic rears its ugly head. This intro was exciting, with a bit of trauma, and I am thinking oh yeah, this is awesome.

And then she finds sanctuary and the story comes to a screeching halt. Everything is fine, she’s being solo trained, and there’s absolutely no drama except for this weird, contrived encounter with the enraged guy from earlier. He’s conveniently alone with nobody around besides the fire girl he’s going to kill even though everyone had been roused to deal with the visitors. Once that oddity is over, the story goes back to training and no drama. This boring stretch starts around 20% in and lasts until around 30%. The good news is, once you slog through this, it’s all excitement afterwards as the plot kicks back into gear. There’s more training, but this time she’s in an academy with other students to make life difficult for her.

Mina as a character can be annoying. She’s brash, impulsive, a smart mouth, and basically seems too immature for a sixteen year old who had to scrounge on the streets. Predictably, this gets her into trouble throughout the story. Part of me didn’t like this about her, but the other part felt she fit right in with the boys at the academy as she held her own with overconfident swagger — something lacking in girls all too often, so in that respect it was kind of fun to witness. She’s probably a bit too talented with the sword, but I kind of like that about her, especially when she’s tackling all these large, bulky men.

The villain is one dimensional, which is too bad, but has enough going on to cause plenty of interesting trouble. There’s some good plot – counter plot going on between him and Mina to keep things lively as to who is going to one up the other.

The side characters are decently fleshed out and I love the concept that the blood bond lets each member of a house see key emotional events in their dreams. Mina’s friends were also interesting and diverse and I wouldn’t mind reading more about them. The only real letdown is the younger prince – I expected him to be or do more.

The world building is exceptional. The description of the environment and the cultures are nicely detailed to where I can almost taste the sand in my mouth and feel the sweat running in rivulets down my back. The author writes description very well and has a very vivid imagination. Lovers of descriptive fantasy will definitely enjoy this aspect.

Overall, aside from the slump at the beginning, the plot moved at a good pace and kept me turning the pages to the end. If you don’t mind a teen protagonist and are looking for a detailed fantasy world to invest in, then you should check out this book.


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Once a paradise, the primitive forest planet of Corvos has been conquered and enslaved by an interstellar empire. But not quite all of its native peoples have given up hope of freedom.

In the depths of Mine Three, a fierce young woman named Cerrin prays every day to the god of battle for a chance—any chance—to strike her enemies. But how? The soldiers in their armored combat shells are untouchable. Their weapons and machines are beyond the comprehension of Cerrin and her people.

But Cerrin knows nothing of events in motion far above her head, in orbit above her planet. An aging military captain is greeting his new civilian commander—a vicious nobleman blinded by a hidden agenda. And with this new evil comes Cerrin’s moment to strike.

At last, the uprising begins.


I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review.

I didn’t want to put this book down. From the premise that had me clicking the link to get a free copy to the short description, I was already anticipating a good tale. I wasn’t disappointed.

This story follows three different people as they each struggle to deal with enslavement – two from the slave side and one from the conqueror side.

Cerrin is a fighter at heart and sees the acceptance of slavery by her people as weakness. Even though the invaders have advanced technology while her people are bow and arrow types, Cerrin is determined to win her freedom.

Sonus is from a different tribe than Cerrin. His people were more advanced, just getting to steam engines when the invaders came. So he’s smart and technically inclined. Besides mining ore, he gets to do tech grunt work the invading engineers don’t want to do. Although others try to engage him in rebellious plots, he sees the futility of fighting against superior technology.

Vellerick only has a short time before he can retire. He wanted to spend the rest of his time someplace quiet, but he has to deal with past demons and boredom. That is, until the cruel commander arrives to stir things up.

All three characters have interesting story arcs and felt fairly well fleshed out. I appreciated that not all the conquerors were evil, some dealt more kindly towards the natives than others. The main villain was unfortunately one dimensional, but I really liked his guard. I did think there were a few too many side characters to keep track of at times, especially if you are like me and are pushing into 1am to finish. Oh my bleary eyes! But each felt unique enough and contributed to the overall feeling of a vibrant, real world.

The world building was well done. I got the sense of what the invaders’ universe was like as well as the slaves’ lives in the mines. The native culture as it still existed after years of slavery was believable. There was also a hint that maybe the natives have a connection with nature. Hopefully the next book will go into that more.

I thought the pacing was fairly good. It’s kind of a slow burn as each person has to deal with situations and overcome obstacles before everything culminates in a spectacular ending where all three threads converge. This story is what Avatar should have been, where the natives set out to do their own saving.

The ending wrapped things up but left me crying for more. I want to know what happens next! Always a good sign that the book was a good one. I really enjoyed this book and heartily recommend it.


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A kingdom of death. A war for power and profit. Young heroes caught in the crossfire.

Kodyn expected hardships along his journey to return a kidnapped girl to her father.  Yet harsh deserts and cutthroat bandits prove far less lethal than the foes that await him in Shalandra, the City of the Dead.

In the shadows of golden spires carved from mountain stone, currents of corruption and vice run deep. Priests of the god of death rule with an iron fist, imposing a rigid caste system that elevates some to a life of privilege and condemns others to miserable squalor.

Together with Aisha, a fierce warrior from the north with the mystical ability to speak to the dead, Kodyn must survive the cesspool of high society deceit and betrayal.

Polite smiles hide sharp knives. Killers, criminals, and bloodthirsty cultists lurk around every corner. Can these youths overcome impossible odds to save the realm?


This has quite an interesting cast of characters in addition to Kodyn and Aisha. There’s Issa, a lower caste member who gets elevated to a member of the Blades against her grandparents’ wishes. I liked her a lot because she took matters into her own hands in order to achieve her goal while still retaining her common decency and honor. You’ve also got Briana, a Speaker’s daughter who shouldn’t even exist, Evren, a thief on a near-impossible mission, and his stowaway ‘little brother’. All create a well rounded cast of interesting characters with their own agendas that you can well imagine are going to get all tangled up once they arrive at the City of the Dead.

I really like the solid world building with many different cultures, systems of government, religious beliefs, and pretty much everything you’d want in epic fantasy. The Glossary link even has a map. (I used to joke with my friends that a good epic fantasy had to have a map and a glossary!)

The only downfall is there are a lot of names and foreign terms thrown at you that can get overwhelming in spots.

I definitely recommend trying this story out if you enjoy epic fantasy


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In Emily R. King’s thrilling fantasy debut, an orphan girl blossoms into a warrior, summoning courage and confidence in her fearless quest to upend tradition, overthrow an empire, and reclaim her life as her own.

As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood in the ancient Tarachand Empire, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.

But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.

Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda has only one hope for escape, and it lies in an arcane, forbidden power buried within her.


This started off feeling like a combination of The Selection meets Hunger Games, especially at the beginning when she’s chosen for the highest spot in the land as the ruler’s wife. But she’ll have to fight his courtesans to keep it, even though she doesn’t want it, in order to save the friend she left behind.

But that’s where the similarities end. Kalinda has a dangerous power that has been kept hidden from her and for good reason – she’d be executed if she’s discovered with it. At this point, the story shifts into more of a coming of age tale where she has to come to terms with this secret and make a choice to learn about it and use it or die. She’s also not a great fighter and has to use her wits in order to survive the challenges. I really liked the unexpected turns this took.

The enemies are pretty intelligent as well. Nothing stands out as being dumb simply to advance the plot. Both sides scheme fairly well. Though I would say it was fairly predictable when the good side was going to lose, but you didn’t know exactly how they were going to get out of the scrape. I do feel like the ‘bad guys’ could have used a bit more three dimensional fleshing out. There were a couple of moments, but the rest of the time they lacked any redeeming qualities. Fortunately, the story was good enough that this was only a minor nit.

The only other nit I had was the lack of any negative feelings by the lead male character when he finds out about Kal’s power. He basically shrugged it off when I was hoping he’d have to undergo some development. It seems like the main character was the only one who got any quality development and that was mainly her learning about her powers and coming up with clever ways to succeed.

So overall, I enjoyed the story. The book sample did a good job of getting me to read it and once I started, I didn’t really stop until it was done. There’s no sex or bad language. The ‘romance’ was insta-love but fairly minimal. If you are seeking fantasy-romance, this isn’t one. It’s a simple, uncomplicated read which is good when I’m taking a break from editing! 😉

The book is in Kindle Unlimited (yay!) and there are four books in the series. This one ends at a decent stopping point so you won’t be tossing rocks my way for suggesting it! (double yay!!)



Punished for his toxic online behavior, Chad faces a thirty-day sentence of full-immersion therapy designed to improve his anger issues. For his endless trolling in real life, he’s forced to play the most hated race in Isle of Mythos so that he can finally experience what it’s like to be on the other side.

To make matters worse, the heroes sent to rid the world of evil aren’t heroes at all—they’re violent felons on their own twisted paths to redemption.

Now, Chad must survive his one-month sentence in a world where anything goes.


The whole idea of being punished by having to play a troll for being a troll immediately grabbed my interest and the story definitely didn’t disappoint. The world building was fairly traditional with a forest and trolls who live in there in buildings shaped by trees. But the extra attention to character development is where the story really shines. Not only do we get to watch the main character struggle with his own issues which led to his bad behavior in the first place, we get side characters with their own dreams, goals, and personalities.

The basic plot was guided by the character’s choices. At first he stumbles around like a true newbie. Then he shakes it off and starts learning the game. His first choices are made from lack of any in game knowledge and are pretty much what he’d do normally. Except he’s a troll now. That takes a bit to sink in as you might expect. But eventually he embraces his troll nature. He also begins the game taking quests for the possible reward like a typical gamer. But at the end of the story, he takes on tasks because he wants to save the troll village and his new NPC friends.

I think my only complaint was the dungeons were too short! Or maybe that’s just me lamenting the amount of trash in WoW dungeons and raids. Seriously, though, I was surprised at how few battles there were in each dungeon, especially for the amount of loot at the end.

The other thing to be aware of is that this is not as numbers in your face as other LitRPG, which I don’t mind at all. You do get the rundown of percentage health during battles and get to see the character debating over which skills to take and stats to raise after he levels up. And while some skills are pretty standard berserker class skills, the other stuff had some fun twists. I also loved the way the main character came up with interesting solutions to tough battles by using his existing skills in unusual ways.

Overall, I was quite happy with the story and didn’t feel bored at any point. I was invested in the characters and rooted for them to succeed. This was a fun romp in a new world and had a decent conclusion while still leaving plenty of open opportunities to explore in future books. I can’t wait for book 2.



Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.


I have to say this is probably the best Cinderella retelling I’ve read yet. The story takes place in a fully realized futuristic alternative Earth. It’s clear the author spent a lot of time building this world and making everything consistent and detailed. It’s a dystopian-like setting with the plague creating this grim, fearful vibe. Loved ones get carted off to a quarantine area and are never seen again. Cyborgs have few rights and are feared, hated and shunned.

While there are definite elements of Cinderella, they have been integrated so well into this world that you almost don’t notice. There’s no feeling like things were forced to make it a retelling, and yet, all the elements are there that you’d expect. Also, you could take out the fairy tale elements and this story would stand on its own. This is by far the most unique retelling I’ve read. (I’m rather addicted to these, so I’ve read a few!) It’s also grimmer than the others. People can die here! So take care.

Cinder herself is a very interesting character. She’s a mechanic who is smart, clever, and brave as she deals with poor treatment because she’s also a cyborg. She has an AI friend who is also an interesting character in her own right. The prince is also interesting and not just some cardboard cutout knight in shining armor. He has his own troubles which will become the main point of the series.

Yes, this is a series of retellings. Other characters will star in their own book in a different fairy tale while the series arc brings them together with Cinder. Throughout the series, they must find a means to save Earth from the plague and other evil forces. Keeping it vague there because I don’t want to spoil the surprises!

I was so blown away by the first book, that I bought the others right after reading it! I definitely recommend reading it. And the good news is, the series is complete! So no agonized waiting for the next installment.



Phoenix Unbound

I got lucky and received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I had already pre-ordered it, but couldn’t pass up a chance to read it before it got published.

The story is about a gladiator slave, Azarion, who hatches an escape plan which relies on the cooperation of a mysterious woman, Gilene, who uses illusion and fire mastery to survive the yearly sacrifices forced upon women of all the surrounding villages. Her sense of obligation to save the women in her village by taking their place each year is her own form of slavery. But she sees it as her duty to protect her family. So he has to use blackmail to get her to help him. As you can imagine, she’s not happy about the arrangement which results in a slow building enemies to lovers romance arc — my favorite! It’s very well done and believable as they grow to respect and care for each other.

I really enjoyed the cultural world building done with Azarion’s clan. Once they reach his people, you are immersed in his world in such detail you feel like you are right there with them as they are dyeing clothes or trying to milk wild mares (lol on that scene!). Even the roaming free traders add that special spice of realism to the world. If you ever wanted to be immersed in more of Silhara’s people from Master of Crows, then you should really enjoy this story.

The side characters are also alive and distinct and have some good moments of their own. I enjoyed the interactions between Azarion and his sister and mother. I felt like each character had their own life and wasn’t just a name pasted in.

Sadly, the enemies are one dimensional without much intelligence or presence. I guess that’s probably the one weakness in the story. I was expecting more slimy backstabbing from one of them which never came to pass. On the other hand, you don’t know how the couple’s dilemma will be resolved since she’s still bound and determined to save her village which means separation. Gilene does see personal growth and makes a fateful decision based on that later on so I felt like there was enough other stuff going on to compensate for the lack of solid enemies.

When the ending came, it didn’t have an epilogue which made me sad. It seemed a bit abrupt without one. Don’t worry, the important things get resolved and there are no real cliffhangers. However, there are some lingering questions and I could see a book 2 or some short stories published later to address those.

Overall, this is a solid fantasy romance story and I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Master of Crows or who likes the genre.

book cover

Secrets & Spells

This is a collection of six full length stories by some pretty popular authors. Check out the book’s contents:

•THE GALLANT (Wars of Light & Shadow prequel) – by Janny Wurts
•MAGIC OF THIEVES (Legends of Dimmingwood #1) – by C. Greenwood
•UNGUILDED (The Mage Guild #1) – by Jane Glatt
•AERISIA : LAND BEYOND SUNSET (The Sunset Lands Beyond Series #1) – by Sarah Ashwood
•BLACK ROSE (The Black Rose #1) – by K. L. Bone
•THE DEMONS WE SEE (The Dark Abyss of Our Sins #1) – by Krista D. Ball

I’ve followed Janny Wurts for many years, so I bought this book specifically for her new story about  Verrain*. You don’t have to read her Wars of Light and Shadow series to enjoy it as this precedes it.

*Funny story about the name Verrain. It’s very similar to Varian, which is one of the main characters in Before the Storm (its book review is right after this one). I was having so much trouble typing his name out, I had to look it up from the book. Normally, I know these character names. But not today!

Verrain was the son of a powerful trade factor. Also, the handsome darling of the well-connected circle at court. Even the most vicious rivals would shrink from poking a stick in that hornet’s nest. — excerpt from The Gallant

A faction wishing to stir massive unrest in the city discredits Verrain in a manner that would expose any secrets he’s ever heard and make him stark raving mad. There is only one person who sees what’s going on in time to get him away from trouble. But trouble soon follows them. Little do they realize massive trouble is also ahead.

This was a pretty intense story. I really enjoyed the woman who has always had a thing for him but never bothered because he’s a one lady I’m done kind of a guy. When he is in danger of revealing stuff, she expertly whisks him off and deals with outdoors-y camping stuff which she’s never had to do before. No whining, no saving this damsel; she’s the one doing the saving. And despite how messed up he is, you can tell Verrain grows to care for the woman who drops everything to save him. The end gets really emotional (at least for me, anyway). So you may want tissues handy.


C. Greenwood’s Magic of Thieves is book one in a series about a child who survives a kingdom-wide magic purge. Unfortunately, her parents didn’t. This place isn’t safe for magic people like her, so she’s sent off with a trader to get across the border. Only, she doesn’t make it. Instead, she spends her childhood with the thieves of the forest. At first, she’s accepting of her situation, but a series of events will force her to grow up and think for herself. It’s an excellent first book and if you enjoy it, you’ll probably enjoy the series.


Unguilded by Jane Glatt is another book I’ve already read. This is one of those cool stories where the main character doesn’t have magic and has to run away or else be used in a breeding program. (Yeah, screw that!) All she needs to do is get across the border. Only problem is, she has never been outside the city. Like Janny’s story, trouble follows this girl as she is forced to learn more about herself. Definitely a fun read.


I haven’t yet had the chance to read the last three. However, the first three alone are well worth the price.

Before the Storm

Christie Golden is my favorite author in the World of Warcraft book writing franchise. The way she writes the characters will have you weeping when bad things happen to them, or cheering for joy when good things happen. (Wait, do good things ever happen? I kid… maybe!)

First of all, if you haven’t read Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War, you should do so before starting Before the Storm, since it spills the beans about what happened to a few book-created characters from Tides.

If you are currently playing World of Warcraft, this story takes place right after Silithus gets stabbed by a giant titan sword. It covers both Horde and Alliance factions as they scramble to gather the powerful substance oozing from the wounds in Azeroth. Others are scrambling to discover what needs to be done to save the planet titan before the entire world is destroyed. It diverges from the in-game story arc, adding a nice extra bit of content for gamers.

And with her usual flair, Christie Golden has added two new side characters who are on opposite sides of just about everything. To top it off, they hate each other from a bad, past relationship. This couple adds a sorely needed lightheartedness to the story as things go from bad to worse to I think I need more tissues.

You don’t have to have played Warcraft or World of Warcraft to enjoy the story, though for gamers it’s a nice addition to the Warcraft lore.

 Madfall: A Duo of Dragon Shifter Novellas

I already read Grace Draven’s short story and loved it, but the one by Dana Marton was new, though I’ve enjoyed her Reluctant Concubine and Accidental Sorceress books, so I was expecting a good tale and wasn’t disappointed. While the story is short, it’s humorous and satisfying.

Draknart, a dragon, is seen as the scourge of the countryside. So when bad things happen, the village naturally thinks virgin sacrifice is the answer.

Einin volunteers, but she’s not going to go without a fight. Donning her brother’s clothes, she goes into the dragon cave. The end result is not what she expected! It seems the dragon is under a curse. By day he’s a dragon but at night he’s a man. And he’s lonely. Draknart offers the spunky maiden a bargain: he’ll help her, but she has to return. So begins an interesting story of a dragon wanting to get rid of his curse, and a woman seeking to find her place in a world where she doesn’t belong.

Both stories have strong female heroines who hold their own against the arrogant male dragons they fall for. Both dragons obviously love their women, but need that extra special nudge to admit it which leads to fun antics. I liked the balance of fantasy and romance in both stories. Well done ladies!

I recommend this for anyone who enjoys short stories about steamy dragon fantasy romance.

In the Darkest Midnight

Once again, Grace Draven doesn’t disappoint. While on the short side, this story didn’t feel rushed or incomplete. It starts with the heroine at 15. Persecuted for a birthmark, she’s shy and hides in shadows until the sword master hired to train her brother befriends her. He helps her come into her inner strength and boy does she shine when that happens!

The story has gaps in time to show the heroine growing up into a woman. As she does, her feelings for the sword master grow stronger and naturally over time. Her relationship with her brother also felt believable. While her brother was a side character, he had his own mini-growth arc, helped along by the sword master.

As a hero, the sword master was probably too perfect, but he was so awesome, I forgive his lack!

There wasn’t really much of an enemy in this one. Mostly the heroine’s low self esteem due to being rejected because of her looks. That’s probably the only real weakness in the story.

The story is set mostly inside, so no Grace Draven epic scenery descriptions, sadly. However, I enjoyed learning about the festivals and feats of battle that were sprinkled throughout. That did much to make up for the lack of travel.

Overall, this was a fun read and a boon to those of us who are Grace Draven junkies to help tide us over until her next book releases!

The Deadly Daiquiri (Enchanted Coast Magical Mystery Series Book 1)

When a water witch’s terror of a boss drops dead, all clues point to her: she had the motive, she had the means, and she had just threatened him with death minutes before he keeled over. She’s going to have to solve the case within the week if she wants to avoid execution.

This was a fun, light-hearted story about a heroine racing against time to clear her name. She also tries everything to avoid her ex boyfriend who runs the paranormal resort, when he becomes involved in the investigation. She also has to determine if the sexy werewolf is really a dangerous foe, responsible for the murder, or totally trustworthy.

This has a hint of romance with a load of mystery that is only partially solved at the end, leaving more for book 2. I definitely enjoyed the different paranormals presented: gorgons, gargoyles, stone statues, mermaids, vampires, and more. Each had different, interesting personalities and left me wanting to read more about this place and its inhabitants. I definitely recommend it if you enjoy light urban fantasy and paranormal stories.

It’s currently available in Kindle Unlimited.
Book 2 is out in August.

Runeforged (Ascension Book 1)

This intriguing world was sundered into different pieces (or maybe was made that way?). The only way to visit different shards is via magical portal structures which the emperor keeps under his thumb along with the populace. There’s no famine or war, but no lands of plenty either. Due to clever economics, each shard and town are kept toiling away which doesn’t give them any time to plot uprisings.Also, any magic people are taken away and kept under control or eliminated. Despite all that, there’s resistance. And a young girl with special abilities is the key to the resistance leader’s plans. Too bad he didn’t ask her what she wanted.

I really enjoyed this story. The characters are very distinct from one another and well rounded with strengths and weaknesses. Even better, the antagonists have realistic motives behind what they do and have some pretty clever plans in place. Allies may not always seem like allies because they have their own plans, and enemies might not really be. It’s awesome to be unsure which way people will go. No stereotypical villains in this story!

The world building is only moderately sketched out with the sharded worlds that have different climates and terrain. However, there are two races that were very well done and unique. One is a ghost like race that is powerful in some ways but barely able to influence the physical world. Another is a crystal headed people that are the emperor’s fearsome slaves. Both play important roles in the story and aren’t just background filler.

There are multiple POVs, so you get see different glimpses of what’s going on with people on various sides. However, it didn’t lessen the mystery of what was going to happen next and I didn’t feel like it was too jarring swapping between the different people.

This story kept me up way past my bed time and I’m looking forward to book 2. The ending wrapped up the first book’s events nicely and left enough of an ‘uh-oh’ ending to tantalize, but no terrible cliff hanger.

I definitely recommend this book for people who enjoy fantasy with multiple POVs.

Vengeance

I’m a huge fan of characters who are emotionally damaged and both main characters in this book have that in spades! Imagine losing someone who was vital to you and hurting so bad you have to remove those memories to go on living? That’s what happened to this ancient battleship AI when he saw a ship crash into a planet, killing the little girl that was going to be his future link. Years later, he meets a lowly engineer and is drawn to her and begins falling for her despite his armor against loving anyone since they all leave him. She has secrets and fears discovery so she pushes him away. She also has terrible childhood scars that block her ability to let anyone in even though she loves the battleship AI. So there’s a nice amount of push and pull in the romance aspect of the story. This leads to some heartbreaking moments and angst. But, also a lot of humor as the AI can sometimes be awkward because while he’s surprisingly human, at times his AI-ness comes out.

There’s also a decent amount of world building for this universe with AI’s, telepaths, and humans forming an interesting governmental hierarchy vs pirates and rogue AI’s who want to change all that. However, most of the story concentrates on space and telepathic battles between the rogue AI pirate force and our protagonists. It doesn’t go too heavy on the battle stuff, so it’s more like space opera with the romantic flavor.

I really, really, really, (repeat a lot more times) enjoyed this story and can’t wait to read more about these telepaths and their ship AI’s. This story reminds me a lot of a cross between Anne McCaffrey’s Ship Who Sang and Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice.

Third Power

I really enjoyed this story. As others have already mentioned there are a few grammar mistakes but overall the writing was vibrant, descriptive, and varied enough to keep my attention despite the occasional flaws.

I don’t normally read books about ‘human gets snatched from Earth to a magical kingdom to become a great world saving wizard’, but something about the description of this book lured me in and I gave it a chance despite some of the warning reviews about grammar. I read the preview and even though some of the grammar might not be perfect, those first pages lured me in. In fact, I skipped buying a better written book because its intro didn’t capture me like this one did. So my best advice is to read the free preview and judge for yourself.

I’m happy I gave this story a chance. It started off with a traditional boy gets fingered as ‘special’ and gets teleported to another world. However, he’s not so happy about that and wants to go back. Woot! Differing already. He also has a darkness inside which can rear its ugly head when he gets really angry. Yay! Not a Mary Sue! When things start looking dire for those he cares about, he makes the sacrifice to leave his home to be this savior the prophecy says he is even if he doesn’t believe in himself. He’s one of those guys who does whatever it takes to protect others and make others happy which winds up leaving him very unhappy. Some reviewers called him whiny but I thought he felt pretty real, especially since he’s still young. He’s also not all powerful and has to work at learning control and he’s still afraid to face the big bad guy which is good – I like heroes to work at it.

So things go sort of like you’d expect until the wrench is thrown in and maybe he’s not really what he thought he was after all. I loved this aspect. Then other things happen and even though the revolutionaries make the best of plans, the evil dude has better plans that they have to struggle to overcome. So the enemy isn’t totally stupid, though he could have perhaps been a bit more proactive. I felt he should have probably slaughtered the entire world by now. He’s also pure evil so a little bummer about his cartoony nature and why I dinged one star from this story. The ending didn’t happen the way I or our heroes thought it wound happen which was a nice change. Oh, some bits are predictable but others are a surprise.

The world building isn’t too bad with nice scenic descriptions of several places as well as different races – humans, avians and werewolves. There are other races mentioned in the world but they didn’t get involved in this battle. I guess the only flaw here is that the Earth people should have probably felt more out of their element with the different clothes and cultures, though the hero instinctively trying to glance at his watch for the time was a nice touch.

The princess as a love interest made me grind my teeth. I think our hero put up with her way too long and she wasn’t a likeable character having no use in their society other than having people wait on her. I was hoping to see some character development for her, especially after their first confrontation, but no, she remained stuck. Fortunately, the other two female leads were strong and fun to read about. Though I wish we had more from the POV of the female from Earth, especially when she went into the magic forest to find herself.

Overall, the book could use a bit more polish but it stands well enough as is to be entertaining. When it came time for me to put it down, I didn’t want to, so that’s a good sign. I recommend it to anyone looking for a fun fantasy read.

Nocturnal Magic (book 2)

I really love the mystery of just what the heroine could possibly be – she’s not a normal hellhound. I think we all are dying to know exactly what she forgot and what she is. This story gives us a little more hinting along that mystery, but not a whole lot. So there’s loads left to reveal in the next book.

The heroine is strong and has flaws to overcome which I always like. She picks up things very quickly which adds to the mystery of what she was before she forgot. She also is able to use her surroundings and intelligence to get out of tight spots. A very satisfying heroine to read about.

The hero also has a mysterious past and reasons why he’d like to forget. We get an inkling of one bit of that, but hints also reveal that he’s got a lot more stuff that makes him broken than just his cut off wings. So yep, more for next book (wahoo!). He doesn’t want to be responsible for the heroine and wants to hate her, but you can see the smoldering attraction on both sides as the story progresses and they learn to respect/like each other. That ramps up the tension quite nicely when they are both tossed into the same fight where only one will live.

To add to all that you have some pretty nasty villains, lots of action, some cool side characters, and great world building (an entire civilization on the moon!) Plenty of exciting stuff to keep you up late at night to finish the story.

Fair warning – the ending leaves you craving the next book. It’s not a brutal cliff hanger but dang, I want book 3 now.

Ella Dethroned

I discovered this book from an Instafreebie group giveaway and liked the cover and blurb well enough to get it. I’m so glad I did. I really enjoyed this story. It’s a 90 page prequel to a series that looks to be a blend of fantasy and light science fiction.

In Ella Dethroned, Ella has to flee with her most devoted guard or be killed by the usurper to her throne. Based on a prophecy given to her by an old seer, she must evade capture and give a relic, not of their world, to an old hermit in the next city over. The woods are crawling with the usurper’s searchers, and word gets to the city ahead of their arrival which requires a lot of evading, fighting, and crafty plans to fulfill her task.

It’s pretty much non-stop adventure with some really vivid prose that does a great job of portraying the world with hints of worlds beyond a gate that are also involved in this whole prophecy thing. Very intriguing, and I recommend checking it out.

The Alchemists of Loom

I’m always a sucker for stories that involve two people with mortal hatred having to work together. It makes for some fun interactions as they slowly learn to respect and even (gasp!) like each other. I enjoyed watching the development of the main characters as they progress through the story.

The world was well developed with plenty of imagination to satisfy the fantasy lover in me. The author does a great job of describing different places (at least above ground ones). The underground wasn’t as well defined but fortunately we didn’t spend much time there. The magic and even the technology was given unique twists that made it interesting to read about and there were enough limits that it felt believable. There are imbalances in the fights but not because of overpowered magic.

The grammar and writing style is decent though there were a couple of places where the author was probably trying to get too fancy and I didn’t understand what meaning was trying to be conveyed by the sentence. I did a huh, what double take before shrugging and moving on. It was only in a couple of spots and didn’t impact the enjoyment of the story.

Though the villains tend to be one dimensional, I like that the woman dragon tried to be smart about where to find her enemies, though she fell on the dumb side when confronting them and probably didn’t live up to being bad enough to give you that YAH! rush when she’s overcome.

That leads me to the one major flaw in this otherwise delightful story, which is the ending. The final battle was way too short and anti-climactic to be considered the epic final confrontation. In fact, one of the enemies dies off screen. The battle was too easy and didn’t require the other protagonists to get involved even though the main villain knew what she was up against from a past fight. I found earlier fights to be more fulfilling than this one. Also, after the battle, the story lingers long past when it should have ended and winds up becoming the slow ramp up (with some thumb twiddling) that you expect to see only at the beginning of a book. Then it gets hacked off to form a rather weak cliffhanger.

Despite the flaws, I enjoyed the story and will read the next book. If you enjoy steampunk type worlds then you’ll probably enjoy this one.