Spotlight + GIVEAWAY: Wake of the Bloody Angel (Eddie LaCrosse #4) by Alex Bledsoe

wotbaabWith Alex Bledsoe’s fifth novel in the Eddie LaCrosse series, He Drank, and Saw the Spider, coming out in January, I figured now would be a great time to give away the fourth installment of this series.  Thanks to Tor/Forge, we have a copy available for the winner of this giveaway (see details below!)  Here’s a quick synopsis from Goodreads:

Twenty years ago, a barmaid in a harbor town fell for a young sailor who turned pirate to make his fortune. But what truly became of Black Edward Tew remains a mystery—one that has just fallen into the lap of freelance sword jockey Eddie LaCrosse.

For years, Eddie has kept his office above Angelina’s tavern, so when Angelina herself asks him to find out what happened to the dashing pirate who stole her heart, he can hardly say no—even though the trail is two decades old. Some say Black Edward and his ship, The Bloody Angel,went to bottom of the sea, taking with it a king’s fortune in treasure. Others say he rules a wealthy, secret pirate kingdom. And a few believe he still sails under a ghostly flag with a crew of the damned.

To find the truth, and earn his gold, Eddie must take to sea in the company of a former pirate queen in search of the infamous Black Edward Tew and solve the mystery of the ghost ships.

About the Author:

Alex Bledsoe is the author of three previous Eddie LaCrosse novels, The Sword-Edged Blonde, Burn Me Deadly, and Dark Jenny.  Bledsoe is also a contributor to Tor.com.  Connect with him on his website, Twitter, or Facebook.

Giveaway – Special thanks to Tor/Forge for our giveaway copy!

One lucky winner will have the opportunity to win a paperback copy of The Wake of the Bloody Angel by Alex Bledsoe!  For your chance to win simply leave a comment below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight on Friday, January 3, 2014.  Winner will be picked at random and announced on Saturday, January 4, 2014.  Open to US residents only.  Good luck!

Spotlight + GIVEAWAY: Watcher of the Dark (Jeremiah Hunt #3) by Joseph Nassise

wotdjnAs the resident fantasy, horror, and sci-fi lover here at Reflections, I have a special post for you today.  Thanks to Tor/Forge I have a copy of Joseph Nassise’s latest Jeremiah Hunt novel, Watcher of the Dark, to give away! Check out the book description below, as well as instructions on how you can win a copy!

New Orleans was nearly the death of Jeremiah Hunt, between a too-close brush with the FBI and a chilling, soul-searing journey through the realm of the dead that culminated with a do-or-die confrontation with Death himself.

Hunt survived, but found no peace. When he performs an arcane ritual to reclaim the soul of the magically gifted, beautiful woman who once saved him, he must flee the law once again, to the temporary sanctuary of Los Angeles, city of angels.

In L.A., Hunt must contend with Carlos Fuentes, who sees in the blind exorcist a means to obtain the mystical key that opens the gates of Hell. Fuentes knows Hunt’s weakness is his loyalty – to the woman he loves and to another supernaturally gifted friend—and threatens to torture them in order to get Hunt to help complete his dreadful quest.

Hunt has learned a lot since his life was irrevocably hijacked by faith months ago. But when enigmatic Preacher calls in his marker for helping Hunt in New Orleans, Hunt knows that all his newfound experience and ability will go for naught unless he can keep both the Preacher and Fuentes at bay long enough for him to somehow find a way to free his friends from mortal peril.

In Watcher of the Dark, take a trip to the dark underbelly of the City of Angels to experience an engrossing mix of fantasy, thriller, and horror.  This book is sure to leave you sleeping with the lights on.

About the Author:

Joseph Nassise is the author of the internationally bestselling Templar Chronicles and of Eyes to See and King of the Dead, two previous novels about Jeremiah Hunt.  Nassise has been a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award from the Horror Writers Association and the International Horror Guild Award.  He lives in Arizona with his wife and family.  For more information, please visit his website or follow him on Twitter.

Giveaway – Special thanks to Tor/Forge for our giveaway copy!

One lucky winner will have the opportunity to win a hardcover copy of Watcher of the Dark by Joseph Nassise!  For your chance to win simply leave a comment below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight on Wednesday, November 20, 2013.  Winner will be picked at random and announced on Thursday, November 21, 2013.  Open to US residents only.  Good luck!

Charlie’s Review of Carniepunk, an Anthology

cpAs I have stated time and time again, I am a HUGE fan of the fantasy genre, so when I was asked to read Carniepunk, I welcomed it with open arms. It seemed like a pretty awesome anthology that numerous authors in the genre had put together.

From Goodreads: 

A star-studded urban fantasy anthology featuring bestselling authors Rachel Caine, Rob Thurman, Seanan McGuire, Jennifer Estep, and Kevin Hearne, whose stories explore the creepy, mysterious, and, yes, sometimes magical world of traveling carnivals.

The traveling carnival is a leftover of a bygone era, a curiosity lurking on the outskirts of town. It is a place of contradictions—the bright lights mask the peeling paint; a carnie in greasy overalls slinks away from the direction of the Barker’s seductive call. It is a place of illusion—is that woman’s beard real? How can she live locked in that watery box?

And while many are tricked by sleight of hand, there are hints of something truly magical going on. One must remain alert and learn quickly the unwritten rules of this dark show. To beat the carnival, one had better have either a whole lot of luck or a whole lot of guns—or maybe some magic of one’s own.

Featuring stories grotesque and comical, outrageous and action-packed,Carniepunk is the first anthology to channel the energy and attitude of urban fantasy into the bizarre world of creaking machinery, twisted myths, and vivid new magic.

The fact that this is an anthology will either be a big turn on or a big turn off for readers. I found it to be a great opportunity to get a good mix of not only the genre, but to be exposed to many different authors. Some of the authors I’m sure you have read/heard of, while others are completely new. I felt like many of the stories were geared towards attracting readers to check out the author’s existing books, as most of them are tied in to their signature series. The positive thing about this is that if you like a story, you can go pick up their other works. However, the negative thing is that some of the short stories depended too much on the reader being familiar with the series it drew upon and failed to stand on its own. While this can be a downside to readers who have never been exposed to that author’s work before, the flip side is the opportunity to appeal in acquiring new readers. While I definitely enjoyed the book I don’t believe it’s for everyone. The problem I have here is that while you get to enjoy numerous short stories instead of one novel, I’m not sure the flow of it necessarily works. It makes me think was this written solely as a tool of marketing, perhaps.

While I don’t want to give away all the stories by going in-depth I’ll just let you know which was my favorite. For some reason Freak House by Kelly Meding really stuck with me. She isn’t even one of the featured authors, so I found that refreshing to really discover someone new and not just play into the fact that the names on the cover must have written the best stories. Freak House really was a fun little story, and if I’m not mistaken it is one of the few to stand on its own. The basics revolved around supernaturals being captured and displayed in a carnival freak show. It has a great lead character, excellent pacing, and I really felt that it could grow into something more! This story was right up my alley, and I really hope I get to revisit that world again in a standalone novel!

All in all, Carniepunk has its ups and downs. I definitely didn’t love all the stories, but I thoroughly enjoyed enough of them to make the experience enjoyable. I honestly haven’t read many anthologies like this, but I feel like this one was pretty good in the grand scheme of things. I particularly liked the carnival theme, as I think it was very creative! I could totally see this being developed into a miniseries for the screen, with the potential to grow. I would totally recommend this to anyone who either likes the genre, wants a quick fix, or feels like the authors seems interesting. However, as I stated earlier, just keep in mind that this isn’t a true novel.

3 out of 5 Stars

Carniepunk by Various
Gallery Books (2013)
Paperback: 433 pages
ISBN: 9781476714158

Special thanks to Gallery Books for my review copy!

Sam’s Review of The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison

trtmihWhen I first started reading The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison, I have to admit that I was pretty excited. The cover art was lovely and the summary on the back was enough to get me started.  The story sounded right up my ally.

The plot from Goodreads:

Ailsbet loves nothing more than music; tall and red-haired, she’s impatient with the artifice and ceremony of her father’s court. Marissa adores the world of her island home and feels she has much to offer when she finally inherits the throne from her wise, good-tempered father. The trouble is that neither princess has the power–or the magic–to rule alone, and if the kingdoms can be united, which princess will end up ruling the joint land? For both, the only goal would seem to be a strategic marriage to a man who can bring his own brand of power to the throne. But will either girl be able to marry for love? And can either of these two princesses, rivals though they have never met, afford to let the other live?

The fantasy genre has long been a favorite for readers – magic, romance, princesses, ancient prophecies, etc.  It might start to feel like it’s all be done before, but thankfully this story is different. Harrison has gone to great detail and effort to create a world that is new and never seen before.  There are two types of magic here. One is Anger and Death, given to men: taweyr. The other is Nature and Beauty reserved for women: neweyr.   In order for there to be a happy kingdom there must be a balance of both magics.

The two main characters Ailsbet and Issa are just delightful in this carefully crafted story. It is clear from the onset that Ailsbet, the musically gifted princess of Rurik, would be a great leader. She is passionate and kind, clever and careful. Yet, because she is a woman with no magic she is unable to rule. As the story goes on a secret is revealed about Ailsbet’s magic, one that even she wasn’t expecting. This secret has the power to threaten not only her chances at the throne but also her life. I found myself really drawn to her as she struggled with her new identity. In many ways she was already trapped by her title as princess, one without magic. But once she truly comes into herself she has to make some choices that have implications beyond herself.

Issa is a princess from the other island. The journey from Ailbet’s castle to Issa’s takes a long and dangerous month. In her kingdom, Issa has been in charge of the feminine magic in her lands since the passing of her mother. She would like the opportunity to lead in her own kingdom, but it doesn’t seem possible for her. Ailsbet’s father has more power and thus more control. When Kellin, a handsome messenger, arrives with a proposal of marriage from Ailsbet’s kid brother, Issa knows what she must do, for everyone’s sake.

Much of the plot is driven by what the ladies have to do for political advancement. As a reader I liked seeing the girls struggle with the decisions they had to make because it really grounded them. Ailsbet’s father, the terrible King Haikor of Rurik, is obsessed with his power and magic and often taxes men a portion of their magic, which he sucks from them in quite a grotesque way. Ailsbet’s mother, Queen Aske, has been asked for years to suppress her own magic so that the magic of men would be stronger still. This leaves Anger and Death to run rampant in Rurik. With these two as parents, Ailsbet takes on quite a bit of responsibility for her brother, Edik, often putting his needs and political strategy ahead of her own. She knows that a marriage with Issa will unite the two kingdoms but she struggles with whether this would be good or simply an invitation for her father to increase his power and realm at the expense of Issa’s people. Issa has to grapple with just the same problem with an added layer, she has fallen in love with a Duke of Rurik. Should she choose love? Can she? It’s this question that both women really have to consider. Who’s happiness is more important and at what cost?

What I really loved is the balance between the seriousness of the prophecy and decisions both ladies have to make and the sweetness of the romance mixed in. Issa’s love story unfolds slowly at first, then all at once. This was one of my favorite parts of the story, and I’m not really a romance girl! I never felt overwhelmed by it or that that piece of the puzzle overshadowed any other part. I admit that it initially worried me based on the cover! That girl looks like a damsel in distress if I’ve ever seen one!

Really, my only complaint was that the language was a bit much at first. Harrison invents many words to describe her magical world and if you’re not paying close attention you might miss a meaning and become totally lost. As I kept reading I got more and more used to the strangeness of the language and found that eventually (after two or three chapters) I slipped easily into the zone.

I realized just a few pages from the end that I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to these characters yet. It’s always a good sign when that happens! All in all it’s a solid, girly, summer read!

4 out of 5 Stars

The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison
EgmontUSA (2013)
Hardcover: 400 pages
ISBN: 9781606843659

Special thanks to EgmontUSA for my review copy!

Charlie’s Review of London Falling by Paul Cornell

sb10063436a-002As I have stated over and over again I am a HUGE fan of the fantasy genre, so when I was asked to read London Falling I welcomed it with open arms. To top it off, it’s written by Paul Cornell, who I was fortunate enough to interview not only about London Falling, but just chat with in general. It was a huge honor. I’m a big fan of his work, so I jumped at the chance to read his new novel.

From the publisher: Police officers Quill, Costain, Sefton, and Ross know the worst of London—or they think they do. While investigating a mobster’s mysterious death, they come into contact with a strange artifact and accidentally develop the Sight. Suddenly they can see the true evil haunting London’s streets.

Armed with police instincts and procedures, the four officers take on the otherworldly creatures secretly prowling London. Football lore and the tragic history of a Tudor queen become entwined in their pursuit of an age-old witch with a penchant for child sacrifice. But when London’s monsters become aware of their meddling, the officers must decide what they are willing to sacrifice to clean up their city.

The centralized plot of the story revolves around the main characters, who are police officers investigating the death of a local mob boss. This leads to the formation of a secret squad to further explore the mysteries surrounding the criminal enterprise they begin to uncover. As the boss died under mysterious circumstances, the team starts tracking a lead that might also connect the crime to a series of child abductions and a long-standing curse on the local football team. Something supernatural has invaded their world and it will forever bond this group of police officers together. They can now see the true horrors that no one else can see, which leads them to discover new ways to tackle the unexplained besides just relying on their police instincts and procedures. With all that being said, you can find out the rest for yourself, as there is a plethora of storytelling for you to look forward to.

I’m a big fan of the BBC’s Doctor Who franchise, and one of the main factors that piqued my interest in London Falling was Paul Cornell, who is a writing contributor to that series. His new novel, the first in a proposed series, is a great mix of not only the fantasy genre, but the horror and crime genres as well. This gives it the opportunity to appeal to a wide variety of people. While I definitely enjoyed the book, its mix of these genres presented a dilemma for me at first. Personally I grow tired of the crime genre, which is duplicated over and over again in different ways. However, the fantasy elements here gave London Falling (and the crime genre) a fresh new take, which I loved. Having a historical backstory really was a great add-on for me as well, since I am fascinated by the English culture. London is the one place in the world I would want to live outside of the US. Additionally, I’m a sucker for mythology, so the inclusion of mythical elements in the work were an added bonus as well.

All and all, Cornell has constructed an excellent new series in the world of fantasy. It’s well written, detailed, original, complex, and has great character development.  He has definitely executed a plan for the series in my eyes. He makes readers want to know what is going to happen next. His knack for the unusual really makes the book shine. Hopefully this can generate a nice fan base because I think there is a lot of potential for a wonderful adult fantasy series, especially considering that this would adapt very well to the screen. We get a whole new look at the city of London, which even though it may be supernatural, is intriguingly believable. With good word of mouth, as well as the fact that it’s written by Paul Cornell, I feel that not only does London Falling have a fan base off the bat, it has great promise to become something even greater. While some may not agree, I really believe this novel has something for everyone. Like I said earlier, it’s part horror, crime, and fantasy all wrapped into one. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for something new, and I am eagerly awaiting the sequel, The Severed Streets.

4 out of 5 Stars

London Falling by Paul Cornell
Tor (2013)
Hardcover: 416 pages
ISBN: 9780765330277

Special thanks to Tor Books for my review copy!

Christine’s Review of A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan

aNHoD Cover 300dpiA few months ago I opened up an email from Kim with the subject “Coming Soon: A Natural History Of Dragons by Marie Brennan”, asking if I wanted a copy to review. I replied “HEEEELLLLLLLSSSSS YEEEEEAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!”, because I am a professional. I love fantasy. I love dragons. So yes, the second I read the synopsis of A Natural History of Dragons, I absolutely wanted to read it.

In a world much like ours during the Victorian era, there is a girl, Isabella, who is fascinated by dragons. Because she is a girl, she is discouraged from pursuing scientific studies, but because she is awesome she doesn’t care and she eventually becomes Lady Trent, a preeminent dragon naturalist. The premise of the novel is you are reading Lady Trent’s memoir of how she progressed from a bookish girl who went against the conventions of her time to become the renowned expert on dragons.

Based on the title of the book and the synopsis I read, I assumed this was going to be a memoir of Lady Trent’s entire life and work with dragons, so I was a bit disappointed at the length of the book (about 330 pages) when it arrived in my mailbox. I was a third of the way through the book before I realized my assumption was wrong, and this was the first book in a series. This isn’t a bad thing at all, but it wasn’t what I was expecting, and sometimes that can alter one’s view of a book. That said, I enjoyed this book. It was a fun read and an interesting take on the fantasy/dragon genre. Lady Trent’s voice as she narrates her early years is engaging and I loved the moment’s when she would basically say, “Look, I was young. I was an idiot. I’ve learned a lot since then, but I’m being honest and this is how I was back then.”

The book recounts Isabella’s childhood and her first adventure as a young woman to the foreign land of Vystrana in search of dragons, which is where most of the story happens. There are foreign customs to learn, mysteries to solve, bandits to escape from, possible curses to break, and above all, dragons to search for and study. Isabella’s time in Vystrana very much reminded me of an adventure story along the lines of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (don’t tell me I’m the only one who loved that TV series), only told through the perspective of an older and wiser Lady Trent.

I would have rather read a longer “memoir” of Isabella’s entire life, but I enjoyed the first tale of her discoveries and adventures, though I did think the ending was a bit rushed. Though it is fantasy novel, I think readers of historical fiction will thoroughly enjoy the story, as the fictional world and era Isabella lives in are very close to the Victorian and Edwardian era. I can see how some readers of fantasy might wish for more fantasy aspects aside from the dragons, but I thought it was a great blend of historical fiction and fantasy. Also sprinkled throughout the book were some lovely illustrations of dragons and scenes from Isabella’s world, which definitely enhanced the story.

3 out of 5 Stars

A Natural History of Dragon: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan
Tor Books (2013)
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN: 9780765331960

Special thanks to Tor Books for my review copy!

Kim’s Review of Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon

outlanderPride and Prejudice has been my favorite novel since I read it for the first time over a decade ago.  In that time period the ONLY book to produce a hero that could come close to Fitzwilliam Darcy was Persuasion.  Captain Frederick Wentworth and Darcy were, in my opinion, the epitome of what you wanted in a man.  They both were strong, confident men who were able to admit they were wrong and change for their lady loves.  Come on ladies, who wouldn’t want a man like them?  Fast forward to last month when I was on Twitter and saw an infographic that allowed readers to select their favorite male literary hero.  Maybe it’s just me being arrogant, but I thought Darcy had it in the bag.  I clicked on the link, and to my great surprise the name that popped as the winner was James Fraser.  I immediately did a Google search to figure out what book he was from.  Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon, was the response I got, and thus began my journey to figure out how this Scottish Highlander could possibly beat out the love of my life, Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Claire Randall is a combat nurse back from World War II in 1945.  Married before the war began, Claire is separated from her husband during the war and is finally reunited with him after hostilities are over.  Out on their second honeymoon in Scotland, Claire falls through a portal that transports her to the year 1743.  Once there she must find a way to become part of the past until she can return to the future.  Her journey is filled with a forced marriage, an attempted burning at the stake, claims of witchcraft and prostitution, and countless other atrocities.  The silver lining in this, however, is her forced marriage to a Scottish Highlander named Jamie Fraser.  He pledges to protect her, body and soul, and in many instances, does.  Will she ever be able to tell him where she really comes from?  Will they ever be able to figure out a way to get her back to the present?  With her growing feelings for Jamie, will she even want to go?

Let me start out by saying: JAMIE FRASER. OH MY GOD.  I totally “get” how women ranked him higher than Darcy!  He’s mysterious, funny, kind-hearted, at times arrogantly confident, strong, and devastating.  There are times you want to smack him for his cockiness, and other times you want to hug him for the brutality that he’s had to face.  In short, he is one of the most complex characters I’ve ever read.

At times Jamie and the other men of the period are barbaric, but when you look at the time period (the 1700’s) it’s historically accurate.  There is one scene in the book where Jamie whips Claire for disobeying him and putting his clansmen in extreme danger.  While I don’t agree with the beating, his explanation of why he did it (it’s expected by his clansman for retribution due to the danger they’ve been placed in) makes sense.  Even Claire understands and accepts it (and she’s a modern woman!)  Jamie is extremely remorseful over the entire incident and agrees to make a pact to Claire that he’d never do it again, regardless of the traditions he lives by.  This brought a question to my mind: are we able to accept abuses of women when placed into the context of the past?  If I read a book that took place in contemporary times there would be NO WAY IN HELL that I’d accept abuse as a viable plot point.  But when placed into a story where it’s truly indicative of the way people acted, I can accept it as “historically relevant.”  Do you agree?

Now, on to Gabaldon’s writing style.  At times the book got a little wordy, but by and large it created a world that you can’t help but  become mesmerized by.  Jamie’s revelations near the end of the book about what happened to him in prison are probably some of the darkest and most heart wrenching scenes I’ve ever read.  His vulnerability as he is telling Claire of his pain and shame is both awe-inspiring and deeply depressing.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt as deeply for a character as I did for Jamie in that scene.

A word of caution: there is a rape scene in the novel, and as I’ve stated in other book reviews in the past, I feel that this should be noted somewhere.  You never know what a reader has gone through in his/her own life and what a scene like that (explicit or not), could trigger for them.

In all, I think this work is incredibly multidimensional.  It fits in so many genre “boxes” that you can’t help but identify with it.  It is heartwarming, touching, and a beautiful piece.  I urge all of you to see for yourself how great of a work Gabaldon has created.  Maybe Jamie will rate as high on your list of male heroes as he now does on mine?

5 out of 5 Stars

This is my second completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

This is my first completed review for the Book to Movie Challenge

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Random House Publishing (2004)
eBook: 818 pages
ISBN: 9780440335160

Adam’s Review of Albino by E.J. Dabel

Have you ever wanted to visit another world and live a different life than the one you had been living? What if in this new land, you were crowned Emperor and were meant to lead the people against an evil emperor who only wanted to destruct the world and cause harm to the people who live in it. All of these questions are explored in the novel Albino written by E.J Dabel.

In the beginning of Dabel’s story, we meet Albino.  Albino is a peculiar mouse. He is all white with red eyes. He lives with Farmer Springer, whom he is able to communicate with. One night during a particularly bad storm, Farmer Springer begins to reminisce with Albino about the night he found him almost 50 years ago. Also living with Albino and Farmer Springer is a boy from the street named Darl. Albino believes that only Farmer Springer can communicate with him, until Darl makes it known that he can understand Albino as well. The morning after the violent storm Darl takes Albino and throws him in the river, hoping to get rid of him forever. Albino awakens in a far-off land called Nothengarrd where he is introduced to Morgenbrisa, another mouse who happens to be a princess. Later, he is introduced to more friends including Lita (another princess), a raccoon, a wise crow, and a flying squirrel. Initially when Albino gets to Nothengarrd he is referred to as an abomination because he is half mouse, half rat. Later through some discovery it is revealed that Hoge Koning (the Emperor of Nothengarrd) has to defeat the Loucura (Emperor of the East) and his creations of Ma’ladees. Will Albino step up and become the emperor he is destined to be?

For a book that is supposed to be for younger readers, this book had a lot of heart. From the first few chapters, I thought the story was going to be about Albino and his life on a farm and then trying to get back to the farm, á la The Wizard of Oz. But as I read more, I realized it was more like The Chronicles of Narnia than Wizard of Oz. From the first page of the book, the character of Albino intrigued me because he seemed like a truly unique form of the lead character role. He was really well written and really was the heart of this story (hence naming the title after him). Albino went had major growths and transformations in the novel that you can chronicle through Dabel’s excellent writing in each chapter.  Many times we see main characters portrayed as weak at first, but then they’re suddenly leading armies in no time. Dabel made Albino progress at a realistic pace, adding extra struggles to the story which were really powerful.

Dabel wrote this story in a very interesting way, one which made it much more powerful and realistic. Whether it was having the animals use items that they found in the forest as clothing, or in the way in which he described the conflict in the work, Dabel was able to emphasize the important parts and create a story that I wanted to continue reading. The inclusion of pictures of the characters really helped me put faces to the characters and give them more personality. Maybe it’s because I somehow make movies out of everything I read, but I think Albino and the books that will follow it would make an excellent movie.

All and all, I enjoyed Albino more than anticipated. At first glance the story seemed a little far out there and I don’t really like mice or rats in real life, so I had to get the thought of subway rats out of my head.  However once I did that, I enjoyed the book thoroughly. I think anyone from 9 to 109 will enjoy this book because of its classic story plot mixed with new school ideas. I am very interested to see how the rest of the series plays out!

4 out of 5 Stars

Albino by E.J. Dabel
Sea Lion Books (2012)
eBook: 217 pages
ASIN: B007ZFRGG4

Special thanks to Sea Lion Books for my review copy!

Charlie’s Review of Meridienne Drake: Secrets of the Truth (Meridienne Drake #1) by Jessica Dragon Cheramie

For those of you who have been following my reviews, you know that I am a HUGE fan of the fantasy genre.  When I was offered the chance to read Meridienne Drake by Jessica Dragon Cheramie, I welcomed it with open arms.  I’m going to tell you right off the bat that this is a good book with an interesting storyline that is only going to get better as the series goes on.  However, I feel as it is written more for fans of  Twilight rather than fantasy fans as a whole.  I am someone who can easily get immersed in anything so it didn’t deter me from reading, but I think that people of the female persuasion will enjoy this more than the male.  Summary from Goodreads:

When trying to find out who you are, you may just get more than you bargained.

Meridienne Drake thought she had it all figured out, but her parents had other plans for her. Thrown on a plane to Portland, Oregon to spend the summer with family she never knew existed, Meridienne realizes she didn’t know the people who raised her at all. More than that, strange things are beginning to happen to her.

Meridienne wants to be anything other than strange especially when her summer begins to take a turn for the better because of Will, the mysterious new boy. But the strange and unusual just keep occurring until she discovers an even bigger secret. Magic. Her fourteenth birthday reveals secrets and realities that Meridienne had only dreamed about, literally. Will Meridienne accept this secret life and face what comes with that? Or, is all this heat too much for her?

The story at its core is all about a teenage girl in search of herself and her mysterious family. Even though I am a 25-year-old male, I have plenty of experience with the female persuasion.  (I have a younger sister)  Cheramie gets it exactly right when it comes to her depiction of teenage girls. Our main protagonist, Meridienne (Meri for short), has everything you would expect for a girl in this particular time of her life.

Meri’s journey takes us to her grandfather and uncle’s during the summer, both of whom she never knew existed since her parents kept that part of their lives a secret from her. Little does she know that this is only the beginning of all the secrets, lies, and hidden truths that her family has kept from her over the past 13 years. How Meri handles all of these twists and turns in her life is going to hopefully shape her into the person she is meant to be.

With all that being said, Cheramie has constructed an exciting new series in the world of fantasy. It is well written, detailed, and has great character development.  It’s obvious that she has a great plan in place for the rest of the series. She makes readers want to know what is going to happen next. While I do think this is intended for an audience  younger than myself, I still found if enjoyable.  When have adults ever been deterred from reading a young adult novel I ask?  If you recall Harry Potter was found in the children’s section, while The Hunger Games was in the teen section. While Meridienne Drake is by no means the next Harry Potter (which we are still desperately in search of)  it’s my hope that this series can generate a nice little fan base.  I think there is potentially one out there, and with good word of mouth you never know (look at the Fifty Shades of Grey series).  All in all, I think we have something good here. The verdict is still out on whether or not I’ll  read the next part in the series, but that is only because I don’t feel I am the intended audience.  But if you fall into that category (I am talking to you girls) please check this out and spread the word.

3 out of 5 Stars

Meridienne Drake by Jessica Dragon Cheramie
Dragon’s Dream Publishing (2011)
Paperback: 366 pages
ISBN: 9780983634706

Special thanks to Jessica Dragon Cheramie for sending me my review copy!

Blood Sword (Lost Princess Series: Book 1) by L. J. Maisen

From the publisher:
His Oath…
My loyalty and sword to Rhaetia are true.
I lend my wit and might in fealty to you.
Neither through words, nor actions and deeds, will I dishonor thee.

His Quest…
One by one, the heirs to the Rhaetian throne have fallen, and now the future of the kingdom rests on the champion of the realm—the Blood Sword—finding the missing daughter of the king—the Lost Princess.

Blood Sword (Lost Princess Series Book 1)…
On the island nation of Xa’aia, the Blood Sword is enslaved as a gladiator and forced to fight to entertain the masses. However, to continue the search for the Lost Princess, he will do anything to gain his freedom.

Seeing a chance for escape, Zelayra, whore to Prince Calyl of Xa’aia, purchases the barbarian gladiator—so unlike the usual J’Haran prisoners and her Xa’aian captors in looks. But there is no time to ponder her similarity to the stranger and no time to explore the distant memories and unusual feelings his presence inspires, for she’s not the only one who’s been scheming in the island kingdom.

For those of you who don’t know, I am a huge fantasy/sci-fi fan. So, reading Blood Sword by L.J. Maisen was a no brainer for me, and I must say, it has promise. As you have already read above, it tells the story of a fierce princess heroine and a sword fighting hero. One thing that I loved about this short story was that it gives you two very strong characters to help immerse you in the story.  The fact that one is a female and the other male is something that is not very common in fantasy stories, which will make this appealing to a wide range of readers.

Blood Sword was a quick read, and I am still trying to figure out how I feel about that. It’s good because it allows you to read it rather quickly and enjoy the story  At the same time when I started reading, the length had me worried that there wouldn’t be much substance to it, which in my mind is the most important part of a fantasy story. The world that an author creates is one of the biggest aspects and key ingredients in making it successful. Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, just to name a few, are perfect examples of this. They bring you to a place that you never imagined and do so in such distinct detail. While this isn’t in the same league as either of those, I must say I was still satisfied. There was just enough detail for everything to come together and leave you wanting more.

With all that being said, my opinion on the book as a whole was easily swayed from when I first began reading. As a matter of fact, I think L.J. Maisen may be on to something. Rather than bombarding readers with too much detail, which is sometimes a lot to handle, she has introduced us to a world that unfolds slowly and yet still leaves us satisfied. I love the fact that this is a new short story series. I know fantasy isn’t the easiest of genres to create, and it often lacks new material, so this new work is definitely welcome. While I am not ready to call the Lost Princess series the next big thing in the fantasy world, I am intrigued at the small form factor of this series, as it provides us with something unique and different in a world that can at times lack originality. Ultimately, the verdict is still out, as to how well I’ll like the series.  I’ll definitely be reading the second story before I give it my final judgment.

3 out of 5 Stars

Blood Sword by L.J. Maisen
Twenty or Less Press (2012)
eBook: 70 pages
ISBN: 2940033136636

Special thanks to Twenty or Less Press for my review copy!