Tag: Fantasy

Review: Ariana by Ash Dylan

Posted March 1, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Ariana by Ash DylanReviewer: Holly
Ariana by Ash Dylan
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 26, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 132
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2019 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-stars

Princess Ariana, stuck in a tower for fifteen years, can only inherit her kingdom if she cuts her hair and marries. She spends her days killing every suitor she meets and refusing to cut her hair for anyone.

Devin, a warrior king from a neighboring country, thinks he has what it takes to woo the princess. Though he has enjoyed a no-strings-attached relationship with his bodyguard, Devin wants to move on, worried that his deeper affection is not reciprocated.

But Tan, the king’s loyal bodyguard, has kept his true feelings a secret and will do anything to protect his love from a deadly princess. He lost another loved one fifteen years earlier, and he refuses to let the same fate befall his king.

When Devin and Tan spend a night in Ariana’s tower, they realize an unlikely arrangement could lead to them living happily ever after. But first, Ariana needs to learn to trust them. And Devin and Tan need to make it through the night alive.

This polyamorous MMF novella, set in a post-apocalyptic America, has 30,000 words, an unapologetic heroine, two bisexual heroes, three HEA’s, and several happy endings.

I saw a friend talking about this on Twitter and knew it was the book for me when I read “She spends her days killing every suitor she meets and refusing to cut her hair for anyone.” in the blurb. Yassss.

I loved the concept of a tough, kickass Princess heroine who refused to humiliate herself for anyone. For 15 years she’s lived in a tower for the good of her people, and though that chafed, she didn’t resent them for it. I don’t know that I bought into Devin as a warrior, but that’s probably because we were told he was more than shown.

The MMF relationship worked for me and I enjoyed the main characters. There were some flaws with the world-building (namely that there wasn’t enough of it to truly give this a post-apocalyptic feel), but I really liked the way the story developed and the romance between the three. The BIG CONFLICT was predictable and didn’t do a lot for me, nor did the final resolution, but overall I rather enjoyed the way the story came together.

I’m looking forward to the next novella, which looks to be a FFM.

Rating: 3.25 out of 5

I believe this is the start of a series, but I can’t find any additional information about it on the author’s website, Amazon or Goodreads.

three-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Review: Lake Silence by Anne Bishop

Posted February 12, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 6 Comments

Review: Lake Silence by Anne BishopReviewer: Holly
Lake Silence (The Others, #6) by Anne Bishop
Series: The Others #6
Also in this series: Written in Red (The Others, #1), Murder of Crows (The Others, #2), Vision in Silver (The Others, #3), Marked in Flesh (The Others, #4), Etched in Bone (The Others, #5)
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First Person
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 402
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

In this thrilling and suspenseful fantasy, set in the world of the New York Times bestselling Others series, Vicki DeVine and her lodger, the shapeshifter Aggie Crowe, stumble onto a dead body . . . and find themselves enmeshed in danger and dark secrets.

Human laws do not apply in the territory controlled by the Others–vampires, shapeshifters, and paranormal beings even more deadly. And this is a fact that humans should never, ever forget . . .

After her divorce, Vicki DeVine took over a rustic resort near Lake Silence, in a human town that is not human controlled. Towns like Vicki’s have no distance from the Others, the dominant predators that rule most of the land and all of the water throughout the world. And when a place has no boundaries, you never really know what’s out there watching you.

Vicki was hoping to find a new career and a new life. But when her lodger, Aggie Crowe–one of the shapeshifting Others–discovers a dead body, Vicki finds trouble instead. The detectives want to pin the man’s death on her, despite the evidence that nothing human could have killed the victim. As Vicki and her friends search for answers, things get dangerous–and it’ll take everything they have to stay alive.

Like many others, I was disappointed when I realized Lake Silence was going to be set in the world of The Others, but wouldn’t feature any of my favorite characters from the Lakeside Courtyard. While there is a passing mention of some of the characters, this novel features a new cast. Soon enough I was wrapped up in the story, however, and I ended up loving it. This read like one of the “Crowgard Cozies” the Lakeside Female Pack was so enamored with.

Vicki DeVine got a rustic resort near Lake Silence in her divorce. For the past few months she’s been working hard to restore it. Per the terms of the original sale, Vicki has to be very careful in how she renovates. The Others – shape-shifting beings who rule the Earth – were very specific in the deal with her husband’s ancestors and she doesn’t want to do anything to anger them. When her boarder, Aggie (a crow shape-shifter), turns up with a human eye, Vicki discovers a murder took place near her resort. While a human detective wants to pin it on her, The Others protect her. They’ve come to see Vicki as someone who can help teach them about the humans.

Vicki’s marriage was not a good one, and she’s still dealing the trauma of living with an abusive man for too many years. For her, the resort is a refuge. A place to rebuild her life as well as the crumbling cabins and overgrown grounds. I enjoyed Vicki’s personal growth over the course of the novel, as well as getting to know The Others who reside nearby. There are hints of a romance between Vicki and the owner of the bookshop in town, but merely hints. I wonder if Bishop will return to Lake Silence at some point in the future?

I was fully engrossed in the novel, and very much look forward to the next installment.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Others

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Sunday Spotlight: The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross

Posted February 10, 2019 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 3 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

I’m a total sucker for fairytale retellings, and Beauty and the Beast is a particular favorite. I have to say, Leife Shallcross’s The Beast’s Heart ticks all my boxes. I’m ridiculously excited for this.

Sunday Spotlight: The Beast’s Heart by Leife ShallcrossThe Beast's Heart by Leife Shallcross
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 416
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

A sumptuously magical, brand new take on a tale as old as time—read the Beast's side of the story at long last.

I am neither monster nor man—yet I am both.

I am the Beast.

The day I was cursed to this wretched existence was the day I was saved—although it did not feel so at the time.

My redemption sprung from contemptible roots; I am not proud of what I did the day her father happened upon my crumbling, isolated chateau. But if loneliness breeds desperation then I was desperate indeed, and I did what I felt I must. My shameful behaviour was unjustly rewarded.

My Isabeau. She opened my eyes, my mind and my heart; she taught me how to be human again.

And now I might lose her forever.

Lose yourself in this gorgeously rich and magical retelling of The Beauty and the Beast that finally lays bare the beast's heart.

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO

Excerpt

From The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross, published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2018 by Leife Shallcross

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: February 2019

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Leife Shallcross

leife shallcross headshot

I write mostly fairy tales and dark fantasy, with the occasional bit of soft sci fi thrown in for good measure. Even when I’m not working on something specifically fairy-taleish, a lot of my work draws on my love of traditional tales and folklore.

My first novel, The Beast’s Heart, was published by Hodder & Stoughton in May 2018.


Tagged: , , , ,

Joint Review: Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven

Posted November 14, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 5 Comments

Joint Review: Phoenix Unbound by Grace DravenReviewer: Casee, Holly, & Rowena
Phoenix Unbound (Fallen Empire, #1) by Grace Draven
Narrator: Katharine McEwan
Series: Fallen Empire #1
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A woman with power over fire and illusion and an enslaved son of a chieftain battle a corrupt empire in this powerful and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

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.

Phoenix Unbound is the first book in Grace Draven’s Fallen Empire series and it follows a young woman named Gilene who was born with fire magic. Each year, the Empire demands a sacrifice from each village in the form of a young woman who will be burned to death for the entertainment of the masses and each year, Gilene has been the sacrifice for her small town. With her fire magic and illusion, Gilene has been able to trick the Empire into believing that her town sends a new sacrifice each year and each year, her small town makes her pay the price.

When Gilene comes across the Empire’s winningest gladiator, her life is forever changed because Azarion knows Gilene’s secret. He can see through her illusion and knows she’s been coming every year. He needs her help in escaping his enslavement because he needs to go back home and re-claim his title and his family. He also needs to make sure that those who sold him into slavery pay for their crimes.

Rowena: Alright, so what did you guys think? Did you guys enjoy this book as much as you did Shadow and Ice? =P

Holly: I listened to the audiobook, and the first few chapters were pretty slow for me. I don’t know if it was because I was listening instead of reading, or just the book itself, but I struggled. By the halfway point (perhaps a bit sooner, I didn’t really pay attention to where I was at in the book) it picked up. Regardless, I ended up really loving it. Shadow and Ice, not so much.

Casee: Okay, I finally read this book and I really ended up enjoying it. I don’t think I liked it as much as you two did, but I did really like it. It started out really, really slow for me. I listened to it on audio. I liked the narrator, which always helps. It really wasn’t until they got back to Azarion’s homeland that the book started getting interesting.

Ha. This book was loads better than Shadow and Ice. The two don’t even compare.

Rowena: I read the eBook and was fine. I didn’t think it was slow at all, but that could have been because I was so bored through Shadow & Ice that the mystery behind what Gilene did for her village, every single year had me sitting up and taking notice right from the jump.

Holly: I really loved Gilene in this book. She was such a strong woman. I really identified with her determination to save her family, even if they didn’t necessarily deserve her sacrifice.

Rowena: Like Holly, I loved Gilene so much in this book but I also really loved Azarion. They were both going through so much that it was hard not to sympathize with them. I completely understood why Azarion did what he did to Gilene at the same time that I understood why Gilene had to get back to her village, and why she felt she had to continue to do what she does year in and year out even though her village probably didn’t deserve her sacrifice.

Holly: I understood why Azarion did what he did, too, though I didn’t fault Gilene for being angry at him over it. I also got why she needed to go back to her village. They definitely didn’t deserve her, but she couldn’t turn her back on them and I respected that.

Casee: I did find Gilene and her history interesting. I also found her a little insufferable. She was constantly fighting Azarion. I understood that, but at the same time I was like give it a rest, girl. Bide your time.

Holly: I didn’t find Gilene insufferable, though I did find myself thinking she needed to relax a little. She spent her whole life being told she had to do this one thing, so I understood where her head was at.

Rowena: That was the same for me. It’s hard not to sympathize with her considering the big sacrifice she had to go through every single year and then how else was she to respond to Azarion kidnapping her? I would have been fighting his ass at every turn too.

My favorite parts of the story were when Azarion and Gilene were back in his home…and when she fooled those guys that tried to attack her and the people of Azarion’s village. The way that she made the fire all big was great and I loved seeing her come into her own powers, especially in the end when she’s back in the empire. What were some of your favorite parts of the book?

Holly: I loved Azarion’s culture. It reminded me of the Dothraki from Game of Thrones. I really liked the time they spent with Azarion’s clan. His mom and sister were great, and I liked how Gilene proved herself. The scene you mentioned, definitely, plus her actions at the end. I loved how brave she was, and how willing she was to sacrifice it all for others.

Rowena: Yeah, same.

Casee: My favorite part of the book was when Azarion thought Gilene was lost to Agna forever. I think that scene truly showed the depths of his feelings for her. And when they found each other again? Sigh. That was just about perfection.

Rowena: How about Azarion’s cousin? I’m not going to lie, it brought me much joy when Azarion killed that little bitch with his Legolas horse shenanigans. That was great.

Holly: I loved it when Azarion finally took care of his cousin.

Rowena: Overall, I thought the story was interesting and I’m interested in keeping the party going. I’m thinking that homegirl from the caravan people is going to get a book and the other girl from the Empire, the one that was supposed to be burned up with Gilene the day that she went nuts on the empire. Which, by the way, was fantastic.

Holly: I think the caravan healer will have a book, and the other girl you mentioned. I hope we have more info about what’s next soon.

Casee: I did think it was interesting when Holly asked me if I thought Azarion was going to be Gilene’s hero. I never he thought he might not be. I did wonder how it was all going to work out though.

Rowena: This is was my first book by Grace Draven and it was a good one so I’m definitely keen on reading more from her. I give this one a 4 out of 5. What about you guys?

Holly: The story was definitely interesting. The beginning was slow, but the second half more than made up for it. I loved Gilene’s strength of will, and her determination to do the right thing no matter what. I loved Azarion, and how protective he was of her and how determined to do the right thing with his clan. I’m really looking forward to the next book. 4 out of 5

Casee: I’m giving this a 4 out of 5.

Casee: 4 out of 5
Holly: 4 out of 5
Rowena: 4 out of 5

The Fallen Empire

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

Audiobook Review: Feral Magic by Robin D. Owens

Posted October 17, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Audiobook Review: Feral Magic by Robin D. OwensReviewer: Holly
Feral Magic by Robin D. Owens
Narrator: Natasha Soudek
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: December 18, 2012
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 96
Length: 3 hours and 47 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-stars

A blue moon rises, bringing with it magic and danger to a sleeping Denver.

Brandy Svensson mourns her lost soldier fiancee and struggles to move on. Her own near-death experience has brought her an odd "gift" – she has a telepathic connection with cats. She's coping with life’s changes until the night she finds a lost jaguar cub, just the start of the greatest changes of all...

Dak, a warrior Pantherman, is alarmed when his baby nephew, the Chief of the klatch, vanishes. Dak must find the infant before his enemies do...or be branded a murderer and risk igniting warfare among the clans.

When the cub turns into a human baby, shock and confusion flood Brandy. And when a full-grown jaguar arrives to claim him, then transforms into a man, fascination sweeps through her. Dak's protective instincts are triggered by this lovely woman, and the certainty that he's followed by a killer.

Drawn together in their fight to protect the baby, Brandy and Dak confront the enemy and the final choice threatens. Will the feral magic they've discovered together save or doom them?

I was looking for a short listen for my morning commute when I came across this one. I love Owens’ HeartMates series and figured I’d give this one a listen.

Brandi wakes up one morning after a near death experience and can telepathically speak to cats. Some months later when one of her ferals tells her another cat needs her help, she isn’t as shocked as she should be to find a panther shifter cub. When his uncle shows up to get him, Brandi learns they’re from an alternate universe and enemies are after them. Together she and Dak must work together to get his nephew home in one piece.

The narrator was so.freaking.slow. I ended up listening to it at 3x speed and even then I felt like it drug on a bit. That aside, the story itself was good. It was just a short story that ended too soon, but I liked the world and the way the story developed. It ended on a cliffhanger of sorts. I’d continue reading if this turns into a series.

3.0 out of 5

three-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , , ,