Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston

 
Title: The Lying Woods
Author: Ashley Elston
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 336 Pages
Publication: November 13th 2018 by Disney-Hyperion

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher
 in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|

Owen Foster has never wanted for anything. Then his mother shows up at his elite New Orleans boarding school cradling a bombshell: his privileged life has been funded by stolen money. After using the family business, the single largest employer in his small Louisiana town, to embezzle millions and drain the employees' retirement accounts, Owen's father vanished without a trace, leaving Owen and his mother to deal with the fallout.

Owen returns to Lake Cane to finish his senior year, where people he can barely remember despise him for his father's crimes. It's bad enough dealing with muttered insults and glares, but when Owen and his mother receive increasingly frightening threats from someone out for revenge, he knows he must get to the bottom of what really happened at Louisiana Frac--and the cryptic note his father sent him at his boarding school days before disappearing.

Owen's only refuge is the sprawling, isolated pecan orchard he works at after school, owned by a man named Gus who has his own secrets--and in some ways seems to know Owen better than he knows himself. As Owen uncovers a terrible injustice that looms over the same Preacher Woods he's claimed as his own, he must face a shocking truth about his own past--and write a better future.

It is only just beginning.
Elston is a new-to-me author. Elston has a pretty big and dedicated following, so I’m surprised this is my first time hearing about her. Although, it should be noted that I read mostly Science Fiction and Fantasy than Contemporary. But I am a fan of mysteries, which is how I came to read The Lying Woods. I am a sucker for mysteries, especially ones centered around family, small towns and anything taking place in the south. And it so happens that The Lying Woods consisted of all three.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I started The Lying Woods. Perhaps a decent Young Adult at best. Instead I was captivated from beginning to end as Elston expertly weaves a story between the present and the past. The Lying Woods is narrated by two teens; Owen, in present day Louisiana and Noah, Louisiana 1999. The story goes back and forth, building up the history and mystery of all the characters and small town of Lake Cane. At first, I honestly didn’t see the correlation between the two narrators. Not until I got 1/3 into the novel and realized it’s the story of how Owen’s parents met and the significance of The Pecan Farm, its owner Gus and how the summer of 1999 changed the course of everyone’ lives.

I’ve read many Young Adult novels all unitizing the same concepts that make-up The Lying Woods, but none have done it as well as Elston. I also loved that the story took place in the south, it was the perfect backdrop giving readers an intimate and eerie mysterious vibe. Although there is absolutely nothing supernatural going on, in case you’re wondering. I really felt connected to each and every character. They all contributed to the story in one way or another, with no role too big or small.

I thought I had the story figured out but when the two dual narration started to converge and revelations came to light; I was shocked at the twist and turn of events. The ending was unexpected. And I loved it! Many times authors would build up the mystery and suspense, only to have an anticlimactic ending where the story fizzled out. The ending in The Lying Woods was a great surprise and a satisfying conclusion to an overall captivating story/mystery. I highly recommend The Lying Woods to everyone, adults and teens alike. I very much enjoyed it; It was a refreshing break from my fair share of Sci-fi Fantasy novels.



Friday, November 02, 2018

Priest of Bones by Peter McLean

Title: Priest of Bones
Author: Peter McLean
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Series: War for The Rose Throne #1

Paperback, 352 Pages
Publication: October 2, 2018 by Ace

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher
 in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|

It's a dangerous thing, to choose the lesser of two evils.

The war is over, and army priest Tomas Piety finally heads home with Lieutenant Bloody Anne at his side. When he arrives in the Stink, Tomas finds that his empire of crime has been stolen from him while at war. With his gang of Pious Men, Tomas will do whatever it takes to reclaim his businesses. But when he finds himself dragged into a web of political intrigue once again, and is forced to work in secret for the sinister Queen's Men, everything gets more complicated.

When loyalties stretch to the breaking point and violence only leads to violence, when people have run out of food, and hope, and places to hide, do not be surprised if they have also run out of mercy. As the Pious Men fight shadowy foreign infiltrators in the backstreet taverns and gambling dens of Tomas's old life it becomes clear; the war is not over.

It is only just beginning.

Priest of Bones is the first book in the grimdark, War for the Rose Throne series. The series is pitched as The Godfather meets Peaky Blinders, a movie and show I’ve yet to see. I know, the horror! However, I have seen Gangs of New York and Priest of Bones is very similar to that but with a sprinkle of magic. The story is centered around Crime Lord, Solider and Priest Tomas Piety as he returns home to Ellinburg from a 3-year war only to find all his owned establishments commandeered. Which of course is unacceptable. With his weeping women and merry band of miscreants, Piety cuts his way to the reclamation of his businesses. Except all is not well in Ellinburg, a foreigner is looking to shake things up and it’s up to Piety and the Pious Men to stop the infamous Bloodhands.

I didn’t know what to really expect when I began Priest of Bone but the synopsis sounded good enough that I picked it up. I was hooked within the first page. Chapter one opens up with Piety and his crew back in Ellinburg in a tavern commemorating their win over pints of liquor. The scene is set up nicely and right off the bat introduces Piety, so we could see exactly what type of man he was and give us a feel of the tone of the novel. Which I can say is dark, bloody and violent.

The writing and dialogue took awhile to get used to; I initially thought it was very choppy and inconsistent. But it eventually grew on me and I took it as a plus that it didn’t make me withdraw from the story. Priest of Bones was said to be a Historic Fantasy but there was very little fantasy. There were mentions of Magicians and Cunnings (similar to Magicians who can wield special abilities but not as skilled or refined) but the details and background regarding them was vague and not fully developed. The world building itself was decent but a bit too simplistic for my liking. There are many gangs in Ellinburg but the Pious Men and the Gutcutters were the two most prominent ones. And there was the Skanians, outsiders who want to take over Ellinburg and the Queen’s Men mercenaries and spies working for the crown. That pretty much sums up the major players in the novel. I also thought the plot was standard but the characters more than made up for it.

Overall Priest of Bones is a solid series opener that promises a lot more action and violence to come. While I enjoyed the book, I should warn that this book isn’t for the faint of heart. Priest of Bones is extremely violent and graphic dealing with a lot of sensitive and triggering subjects such as PTSD (Battle Shock), Sexual abuse/rape, and Gender/Sexual Orientation. With that said, I’d recommend Priest of Bones to those who enjoys a period piece with undertones of magic.



Thursday, October 11, 2018

[COVER REVEAL] Stuck by Samantha Durante

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

COVER REVEAL FOR
STUCK
BY SAMANTHA DURANTE 

COMING DECEMBER 2018...


(Stitch Trilogy #3)
YA Dystopian, SciFi
ebook

3, 2, 1… BOOM.

Things are finally looking up for the Resistance. Sure, Alessa is still processing the revelation that the best friend she’d presumed dead is miraculously alive, though far from well… And her boyfriend is being manipulated under threat of blackmail. But her quest for justice against those behind the systematic extermination of the world population is so close to victory she can taste it.

And then in a matter of seconds, everything Alessa believes in is shaken to the core. Months of preparation are obliterated. The people she cares for most are lost.

But Alessa is still standing. And Paragon must pay.

The odds are grim, but unexpected allies surface in the most unlikely of places: A new pair of citizens still under the colony’s rule who notice something amiss in the latest drama. An old adversary who realizes the error of her ways. And a veritable army of inhuman power and terrible strength, with an insatiable thirst for vengeance. The trustworthiness of each of these factions is yet to be proven, but without many other options, Alessa may have to take what she can get. Especially since the Engineers, never to be outdone, also have a few more tricks up their sleeves…

The long-awaited final installment in the riveting Stitch Trilogy, Stuck will have readers gripping their seats as Alessa and a handful of intrepid survivors usher their harrowing journey to a close, risking everything as they endeavor – once and for all – to set things right.


CHECK OUT THE OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES!


UPCOMING TOUR

Sign up for the tour HERE.



About the Author


Samantha lives in Westchester County, New York with four of the five loves of her life – her husband, son, younger daughter, and cat – and carries her fifth love, her stillborn daughter, in her heart. An avid reader herself, Samantha’s dream is to bring the same delight to readers that other authors have brought to her life. In addition to penning novels and writing candidly about grief, she is also a sometimes freelance writer/consultant – though more often than not these days she’s on full-time mom duty! A former software engineer, Samantha said goodbye to the corporate world in 2010 to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams and lifelong love of writing. Learn more at www.samanthadurante.com.


COVER REVEAL GIVEAWAY


1 winner will receive ebooks of STITCH and SHUDDER, and a $10 Amazon eGift Card
Ends October 12th

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven

Title: Phoenix Unbound
Author: Grace Draven
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Fallen Empire # 1

Paperback, 384 Pages
Publication: September 25, 2018 by Ace

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher
 in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|

Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire's capital--her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village's tithe has been the same woman. Gilene's sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses.

But this year is different.

Azarion, the Empire's most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion--and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. And unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.

To protect her family and village, she will risk everything to return to the Empire--and burn once more.

Grace Draven is synonymous with Fantasy Romance as Ilona Andrews is with Urban Fantasy. I’ve heard nothing but great things about Draven’s work over the years but for some reason have never picked up her books. But when Ace offered Phoenix Unbound up for review I jumped at the chance to start her new series. And I’m so glad I did. Phoenix Unbound has all the hallmark of a great Fantasy Romance with a rich and vivid world and multifaceted and well-rounded characters that you can’t help but fall in love with.

Full disclose, Phoenix Unbound has the usual tropes that we’ve seen time and time again in the Fantasy Romance genre. The first is, girl gets kidnapped and falls for her captor and peoples’ favorite enemies turned lovers. I’m not particularly a fan of the later because let’s be honest we all know of Stockholm Syndrome. It’s just icky in my opinion. But Draven somehow made it work and made it readable. Even throughout the novel and toward the end of the novel, Gilene knew exactly what Azarion did was wrong and she reminded him repeatedly of it and did everything to ensure she was returned to Beroe in time for the next Spring Rites. It also helped that Azarion never took advantage of Gilene and promised to take her home safely after she helped him win his clan back.

But the book is much more than those trope. It’s was also about justice and vengeance. Fighting against wrong-doers and the oppressors. And Gilene and Azarion would do anything to free themselves and their people from the Empire’s control. I liked that they were flawed character, it made them seemed more real. Phoenix Unbound had one of the best endings I’ve read and I can truly say it was in epic Fantasy fashion. Surprisingly or unsurprisingly I don’t read too many Fantasy Romance, but this was pretty exceptional. I can’t wait to read more of Draven’s work and see what she has in store for the next Fallen Empire novel. I highly recommend Phoenix Unbound. If you’re looking for a fresh take on witches/elementals then definitely checkout this new series starter! 





Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Afterimage by Naomi Hughes

Title: Afterimage
Author: Naomi Hughes 
Genre: Sci-Fi Fantasy
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 320 Pages
Publication: September 18, 2018 by Page Street Kids

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher/
Saichek Publicity in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|

A horrific explosion levels part of the city and Camryn Kingfisher is the sole survivor.

Amidst controversy, conspiracy theories, and threats from government officials, Camryn longs for the truth. But the only person who she can turn to is a transparent boy in a lab coat named Quint. Unsure whether he’s a hallucination or a ghost, Camryn has no choice but to trust him as they become embroiled in a plot that is bigger than either of them realize.

In a race where the fabric of time and space is at stake, they must figure out who caused the explosion before the culprit comes back to finish Camryn―and her city―off for good

I had high expectations for Afterimage but it fell short when the story took a turn towards Sci-Fi. I’m all for Sci-Fi but the synopsis promised a Dystopian novel, and that was what I was expecting…I felt mislead. The book started with a bang, literally, when an explosion rocks a research/government facility wiping out the entire area within a 10-15 mile radius. The only survivor is our heroine Camryn and another boy, Quint, who may or may not be a figment of her imagination.

Everyone blames Camryn’s mother for the accident and she sets out to prove her mother’s innocence and investigate the shady organization that her mother worked for. The surprise twist, when things turned into a Sci-Fi was about halfway through the book and where we also find out why she was the only person able to see Quint. I thought it was a cool twist but the plot development seemed clunky and ill-defined. It could have been a great idea if it was executed better.

I also wasn’t feeling the characters. Camryn and Quint were pretty one-dimensional. I’m sure Camryn is supposed to be this beyond​ brave girl, breaking and entering buildings, fending off multiple attacks/attempts, and outsmarting the shady agency but it wasn’t the least bit believable…less believable than the Sci-Fi twist. I never felt invested in the characters and found myself caring less and less as the story progressed.

Afterimage had a cool concept but it never went further than that. It had potential though. I just wished I enjoyed it more than I did. However, there are way more positive and glowing reviews for Afterimage, and although I didn’t enjoy it doesn’t mean you wouldn’t. I’d recommend checking out a sample excerpt before reading and/or purchasing.





Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Uncharted by Erin Cashman

Title: Uncharted
Author: Erin Cashman
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 416 Pages
Publication: September 4, 2018 by Page Street Kids

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher/
Saichek Publicity in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|

Seventeen-year-old Annabeth prefers the fantasy of her books and paintings to reality—because in reality, her mom is dead, and it was all her fault. When she accompanies her father to the funeral of some family friends who drowned, she’s surprised to find her grief reflected in the face of Griffin Bradford, the son of the couple who died. Griffin is nothing like the carefree boy she once knew. Now he’s irritable, removed, and he’s under police investigation for his parents’ deaths.

One night following the memorial service, Annabeth’s dad goes missing in the woods, and she suspects Griffin knows more about the disappearance than he’s letting on. He refuses to answer her questions, particularly those related to the mysterious “expedition” his parents took to Ireland, where they went missing for seven months.

Annabeth fears her father isn’t lost, but rather a victim of something sinister. She launches her own investigation, tracing clues that whisper of myth and legend and death, until she stumbles upon a secret. One that some would die to protect, others would kill to expose—and which twists Annabeth’s fantasy and reality together in deadly new ways.
At it’s heart Uncharted is mystery with a touch of myths and fantasy. More mystery than fantasy in my opinion with a secret society and a mysterious mythical island of Hy-Brasil that holds the key to the Fountain of Youth that people are dying to protect or kill to find. I was immediately sold on the idea. I always found the legend of Hy-Brasil fascinating, the island west of Ireland that can only be once every seven years…tales of magic, mythical beast, advanced technology and even faerie inhabitants.

I liked the concept of the novel but I thought it could have been executed better. While Annabeth’s dad, Griffin and the others’ lives were in danger, I still didn’t feel like the stakes were high enough. Everyone lives’ was hinged on keeping the location of Hy-Brasil a secret…but Annabeth was able to figure a lot out in a short period of time. Readers are also told of how technologically advance the Brasilites are and how The Council rules everything with an iron thumb but that is all we know of it. I wanted to learn more. I was more interested in the island than the experiment the Magellans were working on or the mystery surrounding their deaths and how it related to Annabeth’s dad disappearance. The story also focused on Annabeth and Griffin’s relationship. They were childhood friends and are once again reunited 4-5 years later and all of the sudden they’re in-love? I get that they’re kids but it didn’t feel realistic. I also wasn’t a fan of Annabeth and Griffin’ s hot and cold behavior. It was a bit too angsty for me.

Uncharted was a decent read but not without flaws. I was hoping for so much more; more action and Irish legends. I thought the story needed a lot more work, the writing was slightly clunky at times suffering from moments of lulls between scenes and not fully fleshed out characters. I wasn’t particularly a fan of Annabeth or Griffin, I found them frustrating and vexing most of time. I was really hoping to love it but it fell short of being a great read. I’d recommend checking out an excerpt/sample before reading or purchasing to see if this is something you’d like. 




Sunday, September 09, 2018

Night and Silence by Seanan McGuire

Title: Night and Silence
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: October Daye # 12

Hardcover, 368 Pages
Publication: September 4, 2018 by DAW

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.


Buy|Amazon|B&N|

Things are not okay.

In the aftermath of Amandine's latest betrayal, October "Toby" Daye's fragile self-made family is on the verge of coming apart at the seams. Jazz can't sleep, Sylvester doesn't want to see her, and worst of all, Tybalt has withdrawn from her entirely, retreating into the Court of Cats as he tries to recover from his abduction. Toby is floundering, unable to help the people she loves most heal. She needs a distraction. She needs a quest.

What she doesn't need is the abduction of her estranged human daughter, Gillian. What she doesn't need is to be accused of kidnapping her own child by her ex-boyfriend and his new wife, who seems to be harboring secrets of her own. There's no question of whether she'll take the case. The only question is whether she's emotionally prepared to survive it.

Signs of Faerie's involvement are everywhere, and it's going to take all Toby's nerve and all her allies to get her through this web of old secrets, older hatreds, and new deceits. If she can't find Gillian before time runs out, her own child will pay the price. One question remains:

Who in Faerie remembered Gillian existed? And what do they stand to gain? No matter how this ends, Toby's life will never be the same.

I went into Night and Silence with a lot of trepidation. The last few books in the series fell short of what was expected when it came to McGuire’s writing and world-building. And as I said in my last review of The Brightest Fell, I tired of the missing children story line; lo and behold the latest plot in the 12th novel of the October Daye series centered around October’s daughter Gillian being kidnapped, again.

With that said, I found Night and Silence enjoyable for the most part, although it is still riddled with copious recaps. McGuire reveals another member of October’s family that I am sure no one will see coming, especially as said person was hidden in plain sight. Readers will also learn more about the history of Faerie and how everything became fractured and divided. I was also glad to see Tybalt back with the group, even though he’s far from recovery.

Overall, Night and Silence is a solid addition to the series. I have a feeling the next book will either take us to the wedding in the Westlands, a wedding I’m sure everyone is waiting for or to The Court of Dreaming Cats. Be sure to check out the novella at the end after you finish Night and Silence, it’s from Gillian’s point-of-view and explains what happened during and after her kidnapping.