Tag: L. Penelope

Sunday Spotlight: Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope

Posted May 6, 2018 by Holly in Features | 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. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

I’ve been hearing a lot about Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope lately. It sounds amazing. I’m excited to share an excerpt with you today.

Sunday Spotlight: Song of Blood and Stone by L. PenelopeSong of Blood & Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles, #1) by L. Penelope
Series: Earthsinger Chronicles #1
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 384
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A treacherous, thrilling, epic fantasy about an outcast drawn into a war between two powerful rulers.

Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive--an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.

Jack's mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it's people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda's Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps.

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.

The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.

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AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO

Excerpt

 

CHAPTER TWO

Jackal and Monkey stood at the edge of a wide canyon. Monkey asked, If I leap and make it to the other side, was that my destiny or merely my good luck?

Jackal replied, Our destiny can be taken in hand, molded, and shaped, while chance makes foolishness out of whatever attempts to control it. Does this make destiny the master of luck?

—collected folktales

Jack had found himself in a great many hopeless situations in his life, but this one was the grand champion—a twenty­two­year rec­ ord for dire occurrences. He only hoped this wouldn’t be the last occurrence and sent up yet another prayer that he might live to see his twenty­third year.

The temperature had dropped precipitously. His spine was as­ saulted by the rocky ground on which he lay, but really that was the least of his discomforts.

His vision had begun to swim about an hour ago, and so at first he thought the girl looming above him was a mirage. She peered down at his hiding spot behind a cluster of coarse shrubbery, her head cocked at an angle. Jack went to stand, years of breeding kick­ ing in, his muscle memory ofended at the idea of not standing in the presence of a lady, but apparently his muscles had forgotten the bullet currently lodged within them. And the girl was Lagrimari— not strictly a lady, but a woman nonetheless—and a beautiful one, he noticed as he squinted into the dying light. Wild, midnight curls floated carelessly around her head, and piercing dark eyes regarded him. Her dress was drab and tattered, but her smooth skin was a confectioner’s delight. His stomach growled. When was the last time he’d eaten?

Her presence meant he was still on the Lagrimari side of the mountain range bordering the two lands and had yet to cross the other, more powerful barrier keeping him from his home of Elsira: the Mantle.

The girl frowned down at him, taking in his bedraggled appear­ ance. From his position lying on the ground, he tried his best to smooth his ripped uniform, the green fatigues of the Lagrimari army. Her confusion was apparent. Jack was obviously Elsiran; aside from his skin tone, the ginger hair and golden honey­colored eyes were a dead giveaway. And yet he wore the uniform of his enemy.

“Please don’t be scared,” he said in Lagrimari. Her brows rose toward her hairline as she scanned his supine and bloodied body. Well, that was rather a ridiculous thing to say. “I only meant that I mean you no harm. I . . .” He struggled with how to explain him­ self.

There were two possibilities. She could be a nationalist who would turn him in to the squad of soldiers currently combing the mountain for him, perhaps to gain favor with the government, or

she could be like so many Lagrimari citizens, beaten down by the war with no real loyalty to their dictator or his thugs. If she was the former, he was already dead, so he took a chance with the truth.

“You see, I was undercover, spying from within the Lagrimari army. But now there are men looking for me, they’re not far, but . . .” He paused to take a breath; the efort of speaking was draining. He suspected he had several cracked or broken ribs in addition to the gunshot wound. His vision swirled again, and the girl turned into two. Two beautiful girls. If these were his last moments before traveling to the World After, then at least he had something pleas­ ant to look at.

He blinked rapidly and took another strained breath. His mis­ sion was not complete; he could not die yet. “Can you help me? Please. I’ve got to get back to Elsira.”

She stole an anxious glance skyward before kneeling next to him. Her cool hand moved to his forehead. The simple touch was soothing, and a wave of tension rolled of him.

“You must be delirious.” Her voice was rich, deeper than he’d expected. It eased the harsh consonants of the Lagrimari language, for the first time making it sound like something he could imagine being pleasant to listen to. She worked at the remaining buttons of his shirt, pulling the fabric apart to reveal his ruined chest. Her expression was appraising as she viewed the damage, then sat back on her haunches, pensive.

“It probably looks worse than it is,” he said. “I doubt that.”

Jack’s chuckle sounded deranged to his own ears, so it was no surprise that the girl looked at him askance. He winced—laughing was a bad idea at this point—and struggled for breath again. “The soldiers . . . they’re after me. I have to get back through the Mantle.”

“Shh,” she said, peering closely at him. “Hush all that foolish­ ness; you’re not in your right mind. Though I’ll admit, you speak Lagrimari surprisingly well. I’m not sure what happened to you, but you should save your strength.”

She closed her eyes, and suddenly his whole body grew warmer, lighter. The odd sensation of Earthsong pulsated through him. He had only experienced it once before, and it hadn’t been quite like this. The touch of her magic stroked him intimately, like a brush of fingers across his skin. The soft vibration cascaded over his entire body, leaving him feeling weightless.

He gasped, pulling in a breath, and it was very nearly an easy thing to accomplish. Tears pricked his eyes. “Sovereign bless you.”

Her expression was grave as she dug around in her bag. “It’s just a patch. You must have ticked someone of real good. It’d take quite a while to fix you up properly, and the storm’s coming. You need to find shelter.”

She retrieved a jar filled with a sweet­smelling substance and began spreading it over his wounds. The Earthsong had turned down the volume of his pain, and the cream soothed him even more.

“What is that?”

“Just a balm. Helps with burns, cuts.” Her hand paused for a moment. “Never gunshot wounds, but it’s worth a try.”

He laid his head back on the ground, closing his eyes to savor the ability to breathe deeply again. “A quick rest and I’ll be back on my way. Need to keep moving, though. Need to get back.”

“Back through the Mantle?” Her tone vibrated with skepticism. “And away from the Lagrimari soldiers chasing you?”

“Yes.” Her palm met his forehead again. She thought he was delusional. He wished he was. Wished the last few weeks had been nothing but the imaginings of an impaired mind.

EarthSinger Chronicles

Giveaway Alert

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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 the Author

L. Penelope

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK |

Leslye Penelope has been writing since she could hold a pen and loves getting lost in the worlds in her head. She is an award-winning author of new adult, fantasy, and paranormal romance. She lives in Maryland with her husband and their furry dependents: an eighty-pound lap dog and an aspiring feral cat.


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Guest Review: Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope

Posted February 18, 2015 by Whitley B in Reviews | 1 Comment

2Whitley’s review of Song of Blood and Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles #1) by L. Penelope.

Between love and duty lies destiny

Orphaned and alone, Jasminda is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where she is feared for both the shade of her skin and her magical abilities. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive – an injured spy who steals her heart.

Jack’s mission behind enemy lines nearly cost him his life but he is saved by the healing power of a mysterious young woman. Together they embark on a perilous journey straight into the heart of a centuries-old conflict.

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.

The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.

Whoa, boy. Where do I even with this book? For every thing I like in it, there’s another thing I don’t like and two more things that are just plain strange.

The idea behind this book was solid. The setting is a 1920’s esque fantasy world, with magic users and non-magic users strictly separated into two countries and kept apart by a magical border. The non-magic users had advanced technically to a post-WWI era level, and the magic users were being systematically abused by their tyrannical leader who refused to die. Every random number of years, the barrier between the two countries breaks a little, allowing the magic users to try and an invade the non-magic users, because their country is more not-a-desert-wasteland, but then the barrier rights itself and any combatants stuck on the wrong side are out of luck. That is a set up rife with potential, and the book makes use of plenty of it. There’s action and politics and machinations and intrigue. It’s fine.

The main character is the daughter of a magic user that got stuck on the non-magic side and a non-magic user woman. As a half-and-half, she faces a lot of racial prejudice and anger from her countrymen. When she meets up with people from the magic-user side, they don’t trust her either, and she’s left out of both worlds because of her mixed parentage. All she wants throughout the novel is to go back to her little valley farm and live by herself, where it was peaceful. That’s pretty awesome, in the sense that it’s supposed to be a horrible situation and is well-displayed as such.

However, the book invoked racial issues when it started with that, and it made the magic users black and the non magic users white. And then I’m not happy. Because while Jessminda’s personal situation is really heartbreaking, everything around it when looked at through a lense of racial commentary makes me…really uncomfortable. The “black” country is the bad guys. The “white” country is the…well, morally-grey-but-still-ultimately-protagonist guys. They’re complex, and they have most of the active roles in the book. The black characters are all either evil or sad victims, which strikes me as being very similar to the white-savior propaganda about Africa that paints the whole continent as full of starving poor backwater waifs. The treatment of black refugees in the white country is painted in very stark terms, and we learn very little about said refugees except that they apparently just sit around a lot and take handouts. (Did none of them try and set up self-sufficient communities? Jessminda’s father did; what stopped the rest? And, no, I’m really asking, because governments can make policies that literally stop that, so is that what happened here? What’s going on?) Jessminda is depicted as being unique for her mixed heritage, but I would like to counter with literally all of history saying that would not be the case. So much of the racial tensions were painted over and simplified and the role of the black characters was diminished in favor of the white (and half-white) characters as if the refugees could not take part in their own story. There were a lot of little things like that which just made me sad given the main character is a POC with such a delicate situation. There were some attempts to shake up the status quo at the end which I appreciated, but it was too little too late.

While the first 30% or so of the novel was a rollickin’ adventure with good pacing and action, once the travel portion was over, things started to drag interminably. Suddenly romance and politics were at the forefront, and the politics had much the same problems as the race subplot. Things were glanced over and simplified, and heavy topics were bandied about without enough context to make sense. Everyone is unhappy that the refugees are sucking up resources? There’s a couple hundred of them (so far as we know…I think) and then halfway through this we find out that the white country is actually bankrupt…when did that happen? We didn’t get to see much of the ‘normal’ parts of the country so it’s hard to tell the true extent of their problems (especially when this ‘national crisis’ is only brought up as an excuse to not feed the black people, and yeah, you can really trust politicians when they say that). So, it’s a lot of talking about a pet issue and not enough talking about the big picture, since there’s supposed to be a gearing-up for a war going on. (Either that or too much talking in general and not enough focus on Jessminda mucking about in the magical side of the plot. I would be fine with all the politics being a footnote and bringing the whole “we have a magical artifact to study and history to uncover” more to the forefront.)

And the romance became…very loquacious. It was always on the insta-love side, but once they had a chance to settle into comfortable surroundings, our two leads just went on and on about their feelings in pages of narration. I can handle insta-love around a bunch of action, because at least it’s a fleeting thing. But when I have to read through long passages about passion for a guy you met last week? Also, there were some pretty graphic sex scenes. Full-on porn quality. I (obviously) have nothing against sex in a YA novel and nothing against explicit smut in general, but it was shocking and uncomfortable to find that in something billed to me as YA and without any warning. In certain genres explicit sex is expected and accepted, but when it pops up so unexpectedly in genres that aren’t known to include it…it’s a little off-putting. Nothing would have been lost with a well-timed fade to black.

Still, for all the issues I had with this novel, I’d actually still recommend it. It’s got a solid plot when it remembers to focus on it, it brings up some challenging topics to think about, and it’s got a fresh enough setting to keep up my interest. I’d like to see more books that continue in this vein.

Rating: 3 out of 5

This title is available from Heartspell Media.  You can purchase it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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