Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Lifeblood of Ill-Fated Women by Kevin James Breaux

Title: The Lifeblood of Ill-Fated Women
Author: Kevin James Breaux
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Series: The Blood, Sun and Moon #1

Kindle Edition, 409 Pages
Publication: January 9, 2017 

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


Astrid the White isn't an average princess. She has always stayed by the side of her father, King Kol, and learned warfare and weaponry from the best Vikings in the land. When she awakens in the city of Birka and hears the sounds of war, she rushes proudly into the fray. She is more than capable of taking down any enemy wishing to disturb the peace.

This enemy, however, isn't what she expected. Before Astrid even gets outside the walls, a golden light knocks her out.

She comes to in the snow, in full battle armor. Astrid first suspects that this is a challenge from her father--or even the gods themselves. By acting correctly, she can gain the favor of Odin, the Allfather.

Astrid wants to complete the test, but it becomes more and more difficult as she explores this new part of the world and encounters both monsters and monstrous men. As creatures from the darkest legends reveal themselves, Astrid will discover that her journey isn't about acting correctly or passing Odin's test. It's about pure survival. Before she can even think about finding Birka, she will have to defend herself against the demons of this new world.

I’m not an expert on Norse Mythology or Vikings but I definitely like reading about it and anything related to the two. Breaux has written various types of fantasy from High Fantasy, Urban Fantasy and now Historical Fantasy. And I must say I am digging Breaux’s jump into Historical Fantasy. In The Lifeblood of Ill-Fated Women Breaux introduces readers to Astrid, a warrior princess who is brave as she is impulsive, always running head first into battle and danger. Within the opening chapter Astrid’s home is invaded and somewhere amongst the chaos Astrid ends up far, far away from Birka, her home. With her family missing, her memories wiped and lost, Astrid reluctantly accepts help from Warren, a farmer and ex-soldier. With Warren by her side, Astrid starts to uncover what happened that fateful night, who she really was and that there may be more to life besides pillaging and war.

The book started with a bang. I immediately felt the urgency as Astrid and her sister Yrsa tried to gather the family as intruders encroach on their land. But Astrid is never one to run away from a fight and it is there that things took a turn for the worst. Astrid woke up alone and far from home in a strange land called Gromstad. But then the story dramatically slowed down as Breaux sets up the world and the characters through Astrid’s interaction with the people of Gromstad and multiple flashback scenes. I was a little bit confused in the middle of the book, since there was a lot going on but things weren’t being explained right away. It wasn’t till I got towards the end of the book that everything started to make sense…we find out the truth about Astrid and her family and her true purpose for waking up in the location that she did.

I like how brave and strong Astrid was, no doubt a fierce heroine. But at times It was hard to relate to her. She was raised a certain way and even she herself said her brothers saw her more as a guy than a girl. She’s not used to asking for help or for things she needs…she usually just took whatever she needed. But one thing I could relate to is the strong bond and love she had for her family and how she would do anything for them. I liked that about her. And though the book is mainly focus on Astrid, I still felt that there was something that kept me from truly connecting with her. What? I’m not sure. I can’t exactly pinpoint it. I also didn’t think the secondary characters were as developed as Astrid. I thought the characters could’ve had more background/history to make them more realistic and memorable but I honestly forgot them as soon as they came and went. The only other character that came close to being as interesting as Astrid was probably her sister, Yrsa…but even then she didn’t have much page time.

Overall, The Lifeblood of Ill-Fated Women is a good start to a brand new series. I enjoyed Breaux’s spin on Norse Mythology and the general concept of the novel. I haven’t read many Norse or Viking novels, so I highly recommend this book for those looking for a fresh and unique read! It was a nice change of scenery in my usual paranormal reads. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Confessions of a High School Disaster: Chloe Snow's Diary by Emma Chastain

Title: Confessions of a High School Disaster: Chloe Snow's 
Author: Emma Chastain
Genre:Contemporary, Young Adult
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 352 pages
Publication:March 7, 2017 by Simon Pulse

Source: I received a review copy from Saichek Publicity/Simon and Schuster in exchange for a honest review. 

In the tradition of Bridget Jones’s Diary, a lovably flawed high school student chronicles her life as she navigates the highs and lows of family, friendship, school, and love in a diary that sparkles with humor and warmth.

I’m Chloe Snow, and my life is kiiiiind of a disaster.

1. I’m a kissing virgin (so so so embarrassing).
2. My best friend, Hannah, is driving me insane.3 .I think I’m in love with Mac Brody, senior football star, whose girlfriend is so beautiful she doesn’t even need eyeliner.
4. My dad won’t stop asking me if I’m okay.
5. Oh, and my mom moved to Mexico to work on her novel. But it’s fine—she’ll be back soon. She said so.

Mom says the only thing sadder than remembering is forgetting, so I’m going to write down everything that happens to me in this diary. That way, even when I’m ninety, I’ll remember how awkward and horrible and exciting it is to be in high school.

I'm normally not a fan of Diary Style novels but Confessions of a High School Disaster was billed as a teen Bridget Jones’s Diary, so of course I had to read it! I adored the films (haven’t read the books) so I knew I was going to enjoy Confessions of a High School Disaster and I did! Readers follow Chloe as she chronicles her first year in high school, family life, friends, and boy crushes. Dealing with her Mom's absent and the ups and downs of high school. This book was so much fun and had me laughing-out-loud and grinning like a fool!

If I had to describe this book in one word it would be: Authentic. Chloe’s voice rang true, a real 14 year-old. Many Young Adult novels are obviously written by adults, rarely is a book written by a teen…but we do have writers in their early 20’s. There are many great Young Adult novels don’t get me wrong but never has any author truly captured the voice/life of a teen so well and so accurately. I felt like I was actually reading a real-life fourteen year old Chloe’s diary. Chloe was absolutely hilarious. The things she says are so honest and are exactly what a typical teenager would say. And the things she did were exactly what a teen would do.

I mean, yeah there were some questionable and not nice things that Chloe did. She went to parties that of course involved drinking and she talked about sex a lot but again, that was exactly what high school was like for most teens. We may want to pretend that it was all unicorns and rainbows, but who are we kidding….high school had it spectacular moments and it’s crash and burn moments. She made a lot of mistakes throughout her first year in high school, and there were ugly consequences that followed. And I definitely know of a few Chloes back in my day. The important things is that Chloe made mistakes (which is human) and she learned from them. She’s realistic and I am positive many readers can relate to her at one time or another.

Confessions of a High School Disaster was an enjoyable and charming read. If you’re looking for a fun, happy and light read or need to get out of a reading stump…then this book will get the job done! Confessions of a High School Disaster will have you giggling till your funny bone hurt!

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Game of Shadows by Erika Lewis

Title: Game of Shadows
Author: Erika Lewis
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: N/A (Potential start to a series)

Hardcover, 400 Pages
Publication: February 28, 2017 by Tor Books

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


Ethan Makkai thought that seeing ghosts was the worst of his problems. Between his ethereal gift and life with a single mother hell-bent on watching his every move, he feels imprisoned. When Ethan sees a chance to escape, to leave the house by himself for the first time in his life, he seizes it, unaware that this first taste of freedom will cost him everything.

Ethan is thrown into a strange and eerie world, like nothing he's ever seen. He's assaulted by dive-bombing birds and rescued by a stranger who claims to be his bodyguard. His apartment is trashed, and his mother is kidnapped to a place Ethan never knew existed—a hidden continent called Tara.

Travelling to Tara in search of his mother, Ethan discovers that everything he knows about his life is a lie. His mother is royalty. His father is not dead. His destiny is likely to get him killed.

Confronted by a vicious sorcerer determined to destroy the Makkai family, Ethan must garner strength from his gift and embrace his destiny if he’s going to save his mother and all the people of Tara, including the beautiful girl he’s fallen for.

Game of Shadows was published last week and may have flew under everyone’s radar. It probably would’ve flew under mine as well if it wasn’t brought to my attention for review by the wonderful publicist at Tor. After reading the synopsis, intrigued, I happily agreed to review it. Plus it had an awesome cool cover! I couldn't say no. And boy am I so, so glad I read it. I loved Game of Shadows! It was the perfect adventure novel, with the right balance of action, mystery and humor. I don’t think it’s too early to say this, but Game of Shadows is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year!

I thought Lewis did an incredible job with the characters and world building. Two important aspects needed in all novels. The world of Tara felt so real and most importantly believable. Tara is divided into six territories. Each territory has their own King, Sorcerer and Book of Spells. I enjoyed seeing the different parts of Tara, learning of each territories; their king, the history, and rules. Each kingdom is very distinctive in their habits and appearance which sets them apart from the others. For example in Gransmore, the Fomorian were like giants well over 7 feet tall and in Kilkerry, there were werewolf men. I’m not too familiar with Irish and Celtic mythology but the background/history of the kingdoms and characters were meticulous, well written and thought out. It clearly shows that Lewis did her homework/research. I loved all of the characters, even the villain Swaney Bean. I found the characters realistic, relatable, likable and most of them charming. I was a little surprised and worried that our main protagonist Ethan, was fourteen years old. I thought Is this story going to be aimed on the lighter and younger side of fantasy or will Ethan be an immature little boy?. Thankfully, the fantasy was just complex enough and Ethan was mature for his age. Ethan was funny, smart, courageous, loyal, and caring. He knew when to go with his head and his heart, which were pretty good indicators of the future king of Landover.

Game of Shadows was an action packed adventure that I didn’t want to end! Seriously, upon finishing the book I rushed onto Goodreads, scouring for any details whether or not this was going to be the beginning of a series…and I was ecstatic to find out it was! The book ended on a crazy cliffhanger where I am dying to find out what happens next. I can’t wait to see what Lewis has in store for Ethan and the gang. I highly, highly recommend Game of Shadows to everyone. It has something for everyone of all ages. Action, check. Adventure, check. Humor, check. A dash of Romance, check. Strong hero and heroine, check. Everything you love about Fantasy…check, check, check. Game of Shadows is a truly hidden gem in a sea of books. Read it now, you won’t regret it! If you like Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, or The Wizard of Oz then you'd like this book too.