Icon Tag: fantasy

Blog Tour and Review: Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren

Posted April 14, 2017 by Lily B in Blog Tour, Reviews / 11 Comments

Blog Tour and Review:  Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth LaurenPrisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren
Series: standalone
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on April 4th 2017
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

In a thrilling fantasy that’s equal parts Prison Break and Frozen, Valor attempts the impossible—breaking her sister out of prison.
When Valor is arrested, she couldn’t be happier. Demidova’s prison for criminal children is exactly where she wants to be. Valor’s sister Sasha is already serving a life sentence for stealing from the royal family and Valor is going to help her escape . . . from the inside.
Never mind that no one has escaped in three hundred years. Valor has a plan and resources most could only dream about. But she didn't count on having to outsmart both the guards and her fellow prisoners. If Valor’s plan is to succeed, she’ll need to make unlikely allies. And if the plan fails, she and Sasha could end up with fates worse than prison.
This fresh and exciting middle-grade debut effortlessly melds an unforgettable protagonist, a breathless plot, and stunning world-building—and is impossible to put down.

When Valor’s sister gets thrown into prison for stealing a music box that was suppose to bring a peace treaty to the land, Valor must do the impossible and try to break her sister out. Only problem is? No one has made it out of the prison in 300 years, but Valor is more than determined.

This was such a great novel. I love the world that Ruth Lauren has created. I could almost feel the cold from setting blanketed in a sheet of snow. The book itself is very character driven, which was awesome because I adored the characters.

Valor was brave and loyal. It was easy for me to like her, especially due to the strong bond she has with her sister Sasha and her determination to put her first and save her.

The book was fun and exciting to follow. Sometimes I forget the age of these kids as they try to find a way to escape the Prison and hopefully reveal the real thief. So as a reader, you have to keep in mind that this is a middle grade fantasy and suspend your disbelief by just jumping in and embracing the story for what it is.

I thought the writing itself was really wonderful and one of the best in Middle Grade books that I have come across. It was just so easy for me to lose myself in the story and it was just so well done. Like I have mentioned, sometimes I would even forget that this is a middle grade book largely due to the authors writing.

The pacing was really fast so I never had a moment where I was bored. I wanted it to last and was a little sad when it was over. It’s a great page turner and it kept me interested.

Overall, this book was a ton of fun and I think it be a great addition to Middle Grade reader’s bookshelf. Not only due to it’s interesting, different setting, but also due to the wonderful cast of characters and writing.

 

 

Guest Post

I am also excited to share Ruth Lauren’s stop on this blog and sharing with us how she built the fantasy world in her book.

How I built the book’s fantasy world

The idea for PRISONER OF ICE AND SNOW began when I was watching the TV show Prison Break with my son. The book was later pitched as FROZEN meets PRISON BREAK and although I wasn’t consciously thinking of Frozen when I wrote it, I’d seen Prison Break and I wondered what that sort of story would be like if it was about two young sisters instead.

The Russian inspired fantasy land part of the idea came soon after as I thought about where I could place the sisters to make their escape from prison even more challenging. I imagined a very cold and unforgiving climate and terrain and looked at images on Pinterest. I make boards for every idea that I have and I find it really helps me to visualize the world and individual scenes if can link them to a picture. I wanted a very cold, snowy, frozen world where the elements themselves could cause problems for the characters and bleed through into every part of the planning Valor has to do to try to break her sister out of prison.

Once the setting was fixed in my mind, the details had to reflect the landscape—the animals that inhabit it, the clothes the people need to wear, the food they might be able to access. My editor was brilliant at helping me think about other aspects that add to making the world feel real—like special celebration days in the city, the history of the prison and the geography involved with surrounding lands and how they might impact on the story.

I drew on elements of the Russian landscape and traditional clothing but I also wanted to create a matriarchal world where only women can rule and where they often have positions of power. This book is about girls and for girls (boys and everyone else welcome too!) and I wanted the sisters to

inhabit a world where it would never occur to them that positions of power weren’t open or available to them. They don’t have to struggle or overcome to gain those positions and they see women in every role in the book—from ruler to doctor to prison guard to hunter. Why did I plan that? Because it’s something every child should see reflected in books and in the real world.

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Review: The Dragon’s Price by Bethany Wiggins

Posted March 20, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Review:  The Dragon’s Price by Bethany WigginsThe Dragon's Price by Bethany Wiggins
Series: Transference #1
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on February 21st 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2 Stars
Heat:one-flame

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Fans of Julie Kagawa’s Talon and Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn will devour this action-packed fantasy adventure about a girl who chooses to surrender herself to a deadly dragon rather than marry an enemy prince.
When two warring kingdoms unified against a deadly menace laying waste to both their lands, they had to make a choice: vow to marry their heirs to one another, or forfeit their lives to the dragon.
Centuries later, everyone expects the sheltered princess Sorrowlynn to choose the barbarian prince over the fire-breathing beast—everyone, that is, except Sorrow, who is determined to control her own destiny or die trying.
As she is lowered into the dragon’s chamber, she assumes her life is over until Golmarr, the young prince she just spurned, follows her with the hopes of being her hero and slaying the dragon. But the dragon has a different plan. . . .
If the dragon wins, it will be freed from the spell that has bound it to the cave for centuries. If Sorrow or Golmarr vanquish the dragon, the victor will gain its treasure and escape the cave beneath the mountain. But what exactly is the dragon hiding?
There are no safe havens for Sorrow or Golmarr—not even with each other—and the stakes couldn’t be higher as they risk everything to protect their kingdom.

I really don’t know where to start or how to feel about this book, so I am going to go ahead and break it down into parts and generalize I guess? I was on a fantasy kick and had got this one for review and despite it not rating high on goodreads, I was like, well it’s here, it’s about dragons? WHY NOT?

Hoo boy, this book and I were just off to a rocky start from the beginning

Lack of World building – Like this book just barely had any of it okay? It’s a fantasy book, set in a world and we don’t know much about it and it just felt like we were told this is how it is and we are supposed to accept it. There is a ton of other races mentioned in this book, but we don’t know much about them or why they are at war and the things we learn feel like bits and pieces of a bigger picture.

So we got these two kingdoms that are bound by a promise a vow to marry their heirs to one another, or forfeit their lives to the dragon. Apparently it’s because many years ago a war waged and a dragon was released and now to keep the dragon bound by magic, this needs to happen every time there is an heir. There is a clause apparently because the horse lord heir does not have to take one of the Faodaran, they can reject them, feed an animal in place as a sacrifice and move on with their life until the next heir comes along. Or, the princess can reject the proposed marriage – should it come – and be fed to the dragon.

So Sorrowlynn (named because she was predicted to die by her own hand) does not want to marry the savage/barbaric horse tanned skinned horse lord and chooses the dragon instead – because she did not get the memo that ANY of the heirs can propose marriage.

Two things wrong here

One, as you might have figured Sorrowlynn is a white proper princess and the horse lords are tan skinned and are called savage/barbaric people… – sigh- am I the only one who sees racism here? I’m starting to wonder if this is the reason this book got the reviews that it did. I wanted to give it a benefit of the doubt, but every time she spoke of the horse lords, Sorrowlynn had a racism pouring out of her. Barbaric and savage were words used one too many times. Also, I think the author is a fan of game of thrones because this sounds a lot like Daenerys inspired storyline here?

So apparently Sorrowlynn binds herself to being dragons yummy yummy food before the young horse lord Golmarr steps forward and proposes marriage. Oh but when she learns that he can do that – even thought he hinted it prior – she is like oh okay I can live with that? Too late, you are bound and dragon food. Maybe Golmarr shouldn’t have spoken in riddles, since intelligence is not her strongest asset. Oh, but you know what is? Her virginity. If she wasn’t a virgin no one would want her and the royal family would go to war over it…Okay? Even thought the king absolutely does not like her very much, for reasons. So she is lowered into the mountain and Golmarr decides to throw his life on the line and help save the princess who was nothing but vicious towards him.

After a lot of walking and a lot of thoughts of suddenly wanting to kiss Golmarr we get to the special part of the book

Sorrowlynn who has no experience what so ever with combat, get’s lucky and slays the dragon. Not only giving herself the special kind of snowflake status, but inadvertently stealing his thunder and destiny.. Like thanks, you know? I get it, girl power and all that, but it was still kind of blah.

I felt like Sorrowlynn had zero personality. The only thing she was good at for most of the book is looking down at people. This is why I did not understand half the time why people were so willing to sacrifice their lives for her.

Overall, I felt like the writing was lacking a bit. It reads like a younger than Young Adult but there were a lot of subjects that read more adult. Lot’s of mentions of her special her virginity is and how Golmarr could not wait to marry her so he can take her to bed, ugh… Also, I found some inconsistency in the story but I cannot go into it without complete spoilers. Okay moving on.

The only reason I gave it two stars because the ending made me sort of happy, heh.

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Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Posted March 14, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 21 Comments

Review:  A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. SchwabA Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic #1
Published by Tor Books on February 24th 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:one-flame

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Kell is one of the last travelers--magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.
There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King--George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered--and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London--a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.

Well guys, I finally did it. I finally read, A Darker Shade of Magic. It’s kind of embarrassing really. I had this book sitting on my shelf since 2015 and I have not picked it up due to the cover. It’s a terrible thing to judge a book by its cover, but this was one of those instances that I did. But, I was watching a ton of book wrap ups on youtube and this book kept appearing and it just had so many glowing reviews from booktubers, that I decided that I was going to go and give it a chance.

So this story follows Kell, who lives in Red London and is one of a very rare and dying breed of magic user (as far as he could tell). Kell can travel through doors into other Londons, or as he calls them, Gray, White and Red Londons. There is a mention of Black London, but due to its complicated history – no one travels there.

Kell likes to smuggle and collect objects from other Londons, so when he accidentally accepts a job and smuggles something he shouldn’t into Red London, he brings danger right into his back yard.

The story also follows Laila, a cross dressing girl who wants something more out of her life. She wants a ship and she wants an adventure. So when she stumbled into Kell and steals a black stone from him, she ends up attaching herself to him and the danger in hopes of finding something more to her purpose in life.

This book was actually pretty good. It was an interesting read. As far as fantasy books go this was was easy, cozy, page turning and not at all intimidating. If you are the type of person who wants to try fantasy, but find it a bit intimidating I feel like this book is for you. It really was just an easy read.

I liked Kell. I liked him even if he had that special factor to him, but he was just a really good character. He wasn’t perfect, which made me happy and his love for his brother – Rhys just go so deep, it’s fantastic.

I didn’t find myself as attached to it as I wanted to. I didn’t love it. I liked it well enough, but I didn’t love it. It was a good book for me to read, while reading some of the other things that I wasn’t necessarily into. I didn’t read it in one sitting, it did take me a couple of days to get through. I liked the fact that it mostly follows just two people, so your head isn’t swimming with too much information and the author gave us just enough for it to have great world building and great character building. The book was very creative, I really enjoyed the world a lot. There is obviously a lot more that we are still waiting to discover, but book one is solid, the writing was really good and I am looking forward to reading book two – hopefully soon.

I do totally recommend this book because I believe there are people that will love it and I do find it a must read if you like great writing, interesting characters and worlds.

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Review: Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

Posted January 12, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 9 Comments

Review:  Ever the Hunted by Erin SummerillEver the Hunted by Erin Summerill
Series: Clash of Kingdoms, #1
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on December 27th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 392
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.
However, it’s not so simple.
The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.

When I first picked up Ever the Hunted, I was extra excited for the book. I was very much in the mood for a fantasy, and lately there have been some very interesting YA fantasy books that I thoroughly enjoyed. My expectations coming into this book were high, but not much of them have been met.

We meet Britta, a girl whose father has died and now she is in mourning. She is forced by the rules? Religion? Of the land to be secluded only in her house until an appropriate amount of time has passed. Well, apparently during the mourning period, Britta ran out of food and was forced to hunt for it. Hunting is also illegal on kings land and Britta is found and thrown in jail where she must await her sentence. I was a little confused why hunting is illegal and punishable by death if caught, which is what happens. I did not feel like this was ever explained. But very little was explained about the world, and world building in general is very limited in this book. Given that this is a fantasy novel, world building is especially important.

Britta is then given a choice, be executed or help them track the man who killed her father – which happens to be the boy she has been fawning over for what feels like most of her life. Britta has this ability, she can tell when people are lying – so she believes what the man is telling her is the truth because apparently he believes it as well. Shocked, she takes the bargain and decided she will risk Cohen (the boy killer) life over herself and track him down for the king’s man. She is sent on this journey with three very questionable guardsmen who make her life hell on the road. If she is someone who they must protect, they did sort of a poor job of it and their treatment of her was unsettling at times especially with Tomas.

The entire book had my head spinning. Britta was suppose to be this awesome tracker, but she either missed some clues or had stuff fall onto her lap. For someone that is suppose to be able to tell when people are lying, she is also a bit thick, whiny, and overall a useless character. I wanted to like her, I wanted Britta to be strong, independent, and maybe not dense? I didn’t get that out of her. She relied on other people to do the job for her, and she had a horrible time of following simple rules that kept putting her and Cohen in danger. Like don’t touch the fire cause it burns, okay Britta?

She also has magic – which she apparently did not realize even thought her mother is a Channeller and people hate her, and she can tell who is lying or not? And she also is pretty special and defies all the rules of magic because she is just so damn special – cue eye roll here – Like the moment I found out she has magic I had a moment of oh no, here we go again here!

The biggest problem I had, despite the weak and dense female lead was the world building. I didn’t understand what was going on and it felt like it was important? There are two kingdoms, and they are at war with each other. One kingdom has these women who are Channeller’s and the other doesn’t. Somewhere along the way they decided that all of these people are evil because they have magic, but the bases on WHY they think these people are evil is vague and not well explained. So the king decides he is going to go to war with this kingdom. Right… Got it.

Also, because of Britta’s looks and where her mother was from everyone automatically hated her except her best friend Cohan who is from the same time and everything.

I did like Cohen, despite him being painted the way he was.

I also had a problem with some of the gruesome violence in this. I felt like it was a bit off in a YA fantasy, or maybe I just didn’t care for it, but there has been a scene or two a bit too detailed and cringe worthy for my taste. I wasn’t actually expecting it, nor did I really have a care for such detail. It probably could have gone away with it, as much as other details in this book that didn’t exist.

The ending was too predictable and left potential for a very cringe worthy trope in the next book.

Can I just say that all the lies that were in place by her father for her ‘safety’ where just downright cruel? I mean…. if you read the book, the thing with Britta’s mother? Like, why would you do that to a kid? You know? I can’t talk much about it because of spoilers, but I knew something was wrong and when the truth was revealed I was a bit angry on that part.

Also, at the end there? If Britta was able to tell the truth, how the hell did the one major lie get by her? Readers of this book, you know what I mean? Especially if he didn’t know that she has this ability to begin with.

I actually did not come on here to write almost a fully negative review. I felt like the world had a lot of potential here, but it lacked in building. The romance was sub-par as best, but I liked Cohan anyway. I wanted Britta to grow as the story went on, but I didn’t feel there was any progression there. But seriously, can we tone down the level of special here? and maybe avoid the ugly love triangle?

 

 

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A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Posted October 20, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 20 Comments

A Promise of Fire by Amanda BouchetA Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Series: Kingmaker Chronicles #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on August 2nd 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology, Romance
Pages: 448
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:three-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

KINGDOMS WILL RISE AND FALL FOR HER…
“Cat” Catalia Fisa lives disguised as a soothsayer in a traveling circus. She is perfectly content avoiding the danger and destiny the Gods—and her homicidal mother—have saddled her with. That is, until Griffin, an ambitious warlord from the magic-deprived south, fixes her with his steely gaze and upsets her illusion of safety forever.
BUT NOT IF SHE CAN HELP IT
Griffin knows Cat is the Kingmaker, the woman who divines the truth through lies. He wants her as a powerful weapon for his newly conquered realm—until he realizes he wants her for much more than her magic. Cat fights him at every turn, but Griffin’s fairness, loyalty, and smoldering advances make him increasingly hard to resist and leave her wondering if life really does have to be short, and lived alone.

A great start to what is promising to be quite an original and new series!

Catalia “Cat” Fisa is a Magoi, a magic carrier. Not only is she a magic carrier, she is also the legendary Kingmaker who has escaped the clutches of her violent mother from Fisa and is pretending to be a soothsayer in a traveling circus.

Cat thought she was doing fine in hiding her identity until the non-magical Hoi Polloi warlord finds her and practically kidnaps her. Griffin is Beta Sinta and part of the non-magical family who somehow overthrown the last magical Magoi royals who ruled Sinta and now he needs Cat in order to bring peace to the land. Griffin knows Cat is the Kingmaker and knows that she is able to use her powers to divine the truth through lies and that she would make a powerful weapon for the new ruling family.

This was an interesting read. I picked this up because everyone and their mother’s were raving about this new series and I happen to be an old lover of fantasy, so I knew I had to read this and see what the fuss is all about.

A Promise of Fire is a great introduction into a new world that Amanda Bouchet has pasted together. I love that she uses Greek Mythology, I am a huge fan of Greek Mythology, so naturally I was excited to see what she can do with it.

I think it’s a bit hard to review the first in the series of the new fantasy books. There are a lot of holes to fill and it makes me as a reader a bit more frustrated. I also have to take into the account that even though this is a fantasy, it is not a traditional fantasy, but more of a romantic fantasy, so my expectations have to alter themselves.

We spend a lot of time following Cat and Griffin as they make their way towards Sinta and there is a lot of the same antagonistic play through the journey. As much as I enjoyed the bickering it was starting to feel a bit too repetitive and I felt like much of the book was spent traveling to Sinta and not enough of details of the world was given. I am a sucker for world building and although Bouchet did a great job with her first book, the details were murky at best.

What I did enjoy is the romance between Cat and Griffin and all the bickering between them. I do have to ask, is it just me or does Cat seem a lot younger than Griffin? A LOT. I get that she has a prickly exterior and for good reasons, but the level of maturity between the two was stark.

The humor alone was worth the read and Bouchet’s writing is just simply stunning. It really pulls you into this world and it’s hard to let go. It does make you want more, so much more and might be part of the reason I felt so frustrated. I wanted more details, I wanted to know more about the world and how Sinta, Fisa and Tarva function. the world and how Sinta, Fisa and Tarva function. I I think if readers who have no basic understanding of the Greek Mythology would find some stuff with the god’s mentioned a bit confusing to say the least.

I cannot wait to see how the secondary characters develop, the Alpha Sinta and her sister’s look like an interesting bunch. But, I was confused when Griffin promised Cat that once she meets his sister, she would understand why she was Alpha. I didn’t feel like Cat understood and neither did I to be honest. But, there is some potential for more romance between the princesses and the soldiers. I especially like the forbidden type aspect it’s got going here.

Also, Cat’s history is a huge background to this story and although no big reveal comes of it in this book (which I guess is really important moving forward) it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out what is going on, and who she really is. It is a bit baffling that Griffin is slow on the uptake.

Although all of it aside, I LOVED Griffin the best. I think there is a sense of mystery with him that I hope gets resolved in later books. He is a Hoi Polloi warlord but there is something different and special about it and I wonder HOW it came to that.

Overall, I am happy I gave this a shot. The writing was great, talented, and the humor was just what I needed. So I am definitely looking forward to more. I am officially sucked in and need more books and details to fill that hunger.

 

Memorable Quotes

“She talks big, but she’s made of custard.”
“Fluffy and full of cream?” Kato wiggles blond eyebrows at me. Carver grins. “Think she’s sweet, too?”
My eyes spit fire. “Bite me. You’ll find out.”

“You are not tying me up in a cave!”

Flinty eyes swing my way. “I can’t have you attached to me while I fight.”

“Untie me, then!”

He snorts, and I roll my eyes.

“Two hours, then the cave,” Beta Sinta says. “Enjoy the sunlight.”

My jaw goes slack. “Unless you’re planning on knocking me unconscious, dragging me to the temple, and practicing ventriloquy, I still have to say yes!”

Griffin’s face shuts down entirely.

“We’ll discuss this later.”

 

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