Monsters Born and Made by Tanvi Berwah #bookreview #YA #fantasy

Sixteen-year-old Koral and her older brother Emrik risk their lives each day to capture the monstrous maristags that live in the black seas around their island. They have to, or else their family will starve.

In an oceanic world swarming with vicious beasts, the Landers―the ruling elite, have indentured Koral’s family to provide the maristags for the Glory Race, a deadly chariot tournament reserved for the upper class. The winning contender receives gold and glory. The others―if they’re lucky―survive.

When the last maristag of the year escapes and Koral has no new maristag to sell, her family’s financial situation takes a turn for the worse and they can’t afford medicine for her chronically ill little sister. Koral’s only choice is to do what no one in the world has ever dared: cheat her way into the Glory Race.

But every step of the way is unpredictable as Koral races against contenders―including her ex-boyfriend―who have trained for this their whole lives and who have no intention of letting a low-caste girl steal their glory. When a rebellion rises and rogues attack Koral to try and force her to drop out, she must choose―her life or her sister’s―before the whole island burns.

She grew up battling the monsters that live in the black seas, but it couldn’t prepare her to face the cunning cruelty of the ruling elite.

Perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and These Violent Delights, this South Asian-inspired fantasy is a gripping debut about the power of the elite, the price of glory, and one girl’s chance to change it all. 

Gotta admit, it was the title and cover that drew me to this book. Comp titles of The Hunger Games and These Violent Delights told me I was in for an exciting read.

Koral and her family live in a dangerous world filled with deadly creatures both in the sea and air. As hunters, Koral and her brother must capture maristags, arguably the most deadly of these creatures, for the Glory Race. Trust me, this is not a job you want. Hunters risk their lives with every capture. This society is a caste system of Landers, the ruling class, and Renters, those on the bottom rung. Falling in the latter group, Koral and her family are lucky to have a roof over their heads and food on the table, but struggle to provide medicine her younger sister desperately needs. When their financial situation drastically changes, Koral has no choice but to enter the Glory Race. The problem? Only Landers may compete.

The race is very similar to The Hunger Games in that some of the contestants don’t survive, and the challenges aren’t for the faint of heart. Action moves at a breathtaking pace during these challenges, and I even gasped at certain points. The contestants ride maristags (the picture on the cover), and although they’re not horses, I was still reminded of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races. Clearly the stakes are high and the odds of survival slim, but Koral has no choice if she wants to save her sister and secure her family’s financial future.

This world is full of unrest and power struggles. I was a little confused, but it seemed as if several rebel groups operated under the same umbrella. With no clear leader, they fought not only against the Landers, but also against each other and lacked communication. It’s not the primary focus, but romance is included in the story, and I was intrigued by the unusual dynamic between Koral and Dorian.

With numerous power struggles, deadly creatures bent on killing humans, and a race with few survivors, this novel engaged me from beginning to end. After that cliffhanger, I’m anxious to see where the next book goes.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

#BlogTour The Necromancer’s Daughter by D. Wallace Peach #fantasy #dragons #magic

I’m so excited to participate in the blog tour for Diana’s new release, and it’s always a pleasure to host her. Make sure to read my review of The Necromancer’s Daughter at the bottom of the post.

A healer and dabbler in the dark arts of life and death, Barus is as gnarled as an ancient tree. Forgotten in the chaos of the dying queen’s chamber, he spirits away her stillborn infant, and in a hovel at the meadow’s edge, he breathes life into the wisp of a child. He names her Aster for the lea’s white flowers. Raised as his daughter, she learns to heal death.

Then the day arrives when the widowed king, his own life nearing its end, defies the Red Order’s warning. He summons the necromancer’s daughter, his only heir, and for his boldness, he falls to an assassin’s blade.

While Barus hides from the Order’s soldiers, Aster leads their masters beyond the wall into the Forest of Silvern Cats, a land of dragons and barbarian tribes. She seeks her mother’s people, the powerful rulers of Blackrock, uncertain whether she will find sanctuary or face a gallows’ noose.

Unprepared for a world rife with danger, a world divided by those who practice magic and those who hunt them, she must choose whether to trust the one man offering her aid, the one man most likely to betray her—her enemy’s son.

A healer with the talent to unravel death, a child reborn, a father lusting for vengeance, and a son torn between justice, faith, and love. Caught in a chase spanning kingdoms, each must decide the nature of good and evil, the lengths they will go to survive, and what they are willing to lose.

Diana’s Bio:

A long-time reader, best-selling author D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life when years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books. She was instantly hooked.

In addition to fantasy books, Peach’s publishing career includes participation in various anthologies featuring short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She’s an avid supporter of the arts in her local community, organizing and publishing annual anthologies of Oregon prose, poetry, and photography.

Peach lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two owls, a horde of bats, and the occasional family of coyotes.

Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/D.-Wallace-Peach/e/B00CLKLXP8

Website/Blog: http://mythsofthemirror.com

Website/Books: http://dwallacepeachbooks.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Dwallacepeach

Purchase Links:

US: https://www.amazon.com/Necromancers-Daughter-D-Wallace-Peach-ebook/dp/B0B92G7QZX

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Necromancers-Daughter-D-Wallace-Peach-ebook/dp/B0B92G7QZX

CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Necromancers-Daughter-D-Wallace-Peach-ebook/dp/B0B92G7QZX

AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Necromancers-Daughter-D-Wallace-Peach/dp/B0B9FY6YZJ

IN: https://www.amazon.in/Necromancers-Daughter-D-Wallace-Peach-ebook/dp/B0B92G7QZX

My Review:

This isn’t my first rodeo with this author’s books. I know to expect writing that reads like prose, beautiful imagery, and top-notch world-building. My expectations were exceeded.

Diana’s done it again. She’s created wonderfully flawed characters who wormed their way into my heart. I cheered for them, nearly cried (seriously, I was close to needing a tissue), and sincerely hoped Teko found a good woman to make strange or magical babies with (you need to read the book to understand, but I promise you’d wish the same for him). It began with Barus, a disfigured orphan taken in by a healer, and then he held the door open for the rest of them (Aster, Joreh, and Teko especially) as they entered my heart. The father/daughter relationship and incredibly strong bond between Barus and Aster is one of my favorite things about this novel. The author certainly knows how to place her characters between a rock and a hard place, and she forces them to make gut-wrenching decisions. Each had their share of difficulties, but I felt Joreh in particular grappled with his beliefs.

There’s no shortage of deadly battle scenes between warring countries and tribes and a bloody struggle for power after the king is assassinated. And dragons! Somehow I missed in the description that they’d be a part of the story, but as a dragon lover I was thrilled and intrigued by Aster’s unique connection with them and how that factored into her identity.

The Necromancer’s Daughter is an exciting adventure filled with magic, epic battles, strong friendships, warring kingdoms, and a bit of romance. Find yourself a comfy chair to curl up in, make sure you’re not interrupted, and then fully immerse yourself in this world.

#BadMoonRising Trapped by Armand Rosamilia #horror #action #indieauthor

Today’s author has participated in Bad Moon Rising every year since its inception, and I’m hoping he never breaks that streak. He’s got a mighty appetizing way to celebrate when he finishes writing a book – and he has exceptional (and expensive!) taste in bourbon. Welcome Armand Rosamilia!

Which urban legend scares you most?

I grew up in Belford, New Jersey, which is a small fishing village with a ton of legends surrounding it and the area. The most notable one I remember? The Spy House. There are allegedly 22 active ghosts that people have seen in there, including a ghost boy in the window, the ghost of a woman in white carrying a baby, and the ghost of Captain Morgan, too. The place dates back to Revolutionary War times. It’s called the Spy House because the former owner used to spy on the Red Coats who used to frequent the place. It’s a scary place at night.

Candy apple or candy corn?

Like, if I was forced to eat one or the other? They’re both incredibly overhyped. Let’s be honest. A candy apple has a sloppy shell that gets on everything, like stripper glitter. Then… there’s an apple inside. Big deal. You can eat those sour things all year round. No thanks. Candy corn is also awful. They taste like someone screwed up making delicious candy, and then they shaped it into a stupid shape, slapped some orange and brown and white onto them, and sold them to unsuspecting people. I’d rather eat the candy corn, though. No chance of accidentally eating something good for you, then.

Do you ever see figures in your peripheral vision?

Who doesn’t? Am I right?! As a kid I used to see a black shadow that disconnected from the shadows around it and moved, but when I looked directly at it… not there. True story. I saw it all the time, and when I told my mother she just said it was Charlie, the ghost that lived in our house. No idea why his name was Charlie, or if it was a ghost or even a male ghost. It freaked me out. Around the time I was thirteen, I stopped seeing it. Feels like I lost a friend.

How do you celebrate when you finish writing a book?

I pour myself two fingers of Pappy Van Winkle 15-year bourbon. Order a large Philly cheesesteak pizza and eat it all by myself. Take a breather for the rest of the day, but keep writing the next project in my head, so the next morning I am right back at it. A bit hungover, a bit overstuffed, but ready to write.

If you could spend the day with another popular author, who would you choose?

The dream for me would be Dean Koontz. He’s the reason (one of them, anyway) that I wanted to become a writer. I’ve been blessed to have hung out and gotten to be friends with a lot of amazing authors over the years, too.

What are you working on now?

I always have several projects I work on at once. It keeps it fresh for me. A six-book thriller series that will debut in 2022. Another couple of Dirty Deeds crime thriller books. I have six more monster books for Severed Press to write. Lots of short stories. Chapters for my Patreon page. I’ll be doing live short story writing on Twitch as well. I cannot and will not stop. Until I run out of bourbon and pizza, of course.

Forget the conspiracy theories about Denver International Airport… this just got real.

When a massive snowstorm shuts down the airport and forces a plane carrying exotic and deadly cargo, those trapped inside the terminal have no idea what’s in store for them.

Can a group of passengers and airport workers band together to face the onslaught, or will they be ripped apart?

Purchase Link

Amazon

Author Bio

Armand Rosamilia is a New Jersey boy currently living in sunny Florida, where he writes when he’s not sleeping. He’s happily married to a woman who helps his career and is supportive, which is all he ever wanted in life…

He’s written over 200 stories that are currently available, including crime thrillers, supernatural thrillers, horror, zombies, contemporary fiction, nonfiction and more. His goal is to write a good story and not worry about genre labels.

He not only runs two successful podcasts…

Arm Cast Podcast – interviewing fellow authors as well as filmmakers, musicians, etc.

The Mando Method Podcast with co-host Chuck Buda – talking about writing and publishing.

But he owns the network they’re on, too! Project Entertainment Network.

He also loves to talk in third person… because he’s really that cool.

You can find him at https://armandrosamilia.com for not only his latest releases but interviews and guest posts with other authors he likes!

Social Media

https://armandrosamilia.com

Amazon

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ArmandAuthor

Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/armandrosamilia

Fable (Fable #1) by Adrienne Young #bookreview #YA #fantasy #pirates

As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.

Honestly, I was on the fence about requesting this book from NetGalley, but after reading so many fantastic reviews, I decided to give it a try.  Now, I’m raring to get my hands on the second in the duology.

From the first page, your heart goes out to Fable.  She’s literally abandoned on an island full of criminals by her father – it’s a true sink or swim situation.  Over the course of two years, she struggles to survive and learns some hard lessons along the way.  Considering all she experiences, her trust issues are valid.  Without such a strong, independent, charismatic MC, I’m not sure this book would have gotten such stellar reviews, but for me, Fable and her quest make the story.  With much of the setting on the open sea, it receives bonus points.

Stakes are high, and Fable is in near constant danger.  When the crew of the Marigold reluctantly take her in, she discovers they harbor many secrets of their own.  After a rough getting-to-know-you period, trust and relationships form – I’m a sucker for found family stories.  And if anyone ever needed the support of a family, it’s this group.  With the crew, West’s and Willa’s characters are well-developed, but the remaining three aren’t as clear-cut and seem interchangeable.  The author could have more planned for them in the next book – I’m anxious to learn their stories.

If you’re a fan of pirates, high seas adventure, closely-guarded secrets, and feisty main characters, I highly recommend Fable.  Now I need the second book!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Hunting November (Killing November #2) by Adriana Mather #bookreview #YA #thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

Surviving a few weeks at the world’s most lethal boarding school was one thing. But now comes the real test: Can November Adley find her missing father before her enemies find her? Subterfuge is the name of the game in this thrilling sequel to Killing November, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Hang a Witch.

After surviving a crash course in espionage at the mysterious Academy Absconditi, November has only one purpose: finding her missing father. Along with fellow student (and heartthrob) Ash, November follows the clues that her father left, embarking on the deadliest treasure hunt of her life. The first clue is in her hometown, where old friends beckon and unexpected enemies lurk around every corner. The second clue is in Europe, where revelations about her family’s history will plunge her into an international web of deception, lies, and intrigue. The third clue is deep in enemy territory, surrounded by the most skilled assassins and master strategists, and where everyone wants her and her father dead. Can one girl with limited training infiltrate a centuries-old organization that is powerful enough to topple empires? November only knows that she’ll do whatever it takes to save her father . . . or die trying. 

Killing November was one of my best reads last year – high stakes, untrustworthy characters, a school for assassins.  The year waiting for this sequel was a long one.

This book picks up right where the other left off.  November and Ash leave the school in search of her father, who’s left complex clues for her in different locations across the country.  Talk about tense situations – death could literally be waiting for them around every corner, and some of the people they come across would just as soon slit their throats rather than speak to them.

Pacing may leave you breathless, and the action is almost nonstop.  But not everything is serious – some lighter, humorous moments are sprinkled throughout the story along with romantic elements.  Twists and surprises abound, and the big reveal near the end left me gaping.  I absolutely didn’t see it coming.

This series is incredibly addictive with ultra-high stakes, a complex plot, and untrustworthy characters that worm their way into your heart.  I get the feeling this is a duology, but I’d sure love another book.  Highly recommended!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

The Disasters by M.K. England #bookreview #scifi #YA

Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours.

But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.

On the run and framed for atrocities they didn’t commit, Nax and his fellow failures execute a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy.

They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.

I’m a sucker for a diverse group of unlikely heroes, and when they’re thrown into space it’s a nearly irresistible read.

I listened to this audiobook during a long drive, and for the most part, it held my interest.  Nax’s voice is a highlight of the book, and his internal monologues had me laughing several times.  Being in the middle of a bi-love triangle makes for some pretty awkward moments for him.  The rest of the crew is also engaging.  Tossing them into a nearly immediate life or death situation inspires pretty quick bonding, and trust soon follows.

From the tagline, I expected more humorous moments.  For me, Nax joining up with other “washouts” indicates they’re misfits or also have a history of making poor life decisions, but all these characters are highly skilled and close to prodigies.  The focus of the story slants more toward political conspiracies and the group trying to save the day – nothing wrong wrong with that, but the description is a little misleading.

The Disasters has some great characterization and lots of action, but the pace moves a little slow for my taste.  Still, a solid read.

 

Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff #bookreview #YA #scifi

From the internationally bestselling authors of THE ILLUMINAE FILES comes an epic new science fiction adventure.

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.

Occasionally, I’ll pick up a book and know within the first several pages that I’m in for a five star read.  Aurora Rising is one of those books.

These characters.  I fell for them hard, and the banter between them is hilarious.  All are so fully-developed and relatable, and with seven different POVs, that’s a tremendous feat to accomplish.  So many POVs may throw off some readers, but each voice is distinctive, and I knew exactly who was speaking.  And such fantastic character diversity (and I don’t mean humans and aliens).

Talk about no-win situations – these authors throw their characters into several, and you’re just sure there’s no way they’ll survive – and then things happen that I won’t give away, but trust me, you’ll be surprised at the originality and creativity.  The last 15% of this book really put me through the wringer – hidden secrets, big emotions, high-stakes danger.  Make sure to carve out a good hour or so when you won’t be disturbed.

Even with all the action, death-defying moments, and a tension-filled heist, Aurora Rising leans heavily on themes of family, friendship, faith, and finding your crew.  It’s an unusual, but charismatic mix of Guardians of the Galaxy, The Breakfast Club, and Six of Crows, and a novel you won’t want to miss.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Voyage of the Lanternfish by C.S. Boyack #bookreview #pirates #TuesdayBookblog

An honorable man is mistaken for his disreputable father. Now he’s pushed into a political scheme to start a war that will spread across multiple kingdoms. James Cuttler’s fiancé is being held captive to ensure he goes through with the plan.

He soon decides his skills are at sea and procures a ship to wage war upon those who disrupted his simple life. He can’t do it alone, so he recruits a band of cutthroats to help him. But first, they need guns and munitions to outfit the ship properly. Deception and trickery will only get them so far. Eventually, they’re going to have to engage the enemy.

James’ goals aren’t necessarily the same as his crew. It’s a delicate balancing act to collect enough loot to keep his crew happy, while guiding them back to rescue the girl.

Voyage of the Lanternfish is filled with adventure, magic, and monsters. Lots of monsters. Hoist the colors and come along for the ride. 

I’ve read several books by C.S. Boyack, and by now, I’ve come to expect wildly inventive world-building, charming characters, and a thrilling adventure.  This book definitely didn’t alter those expectations.

Where can I find me some root monsters?  I’d love to have a bushel of my own.  These guys made me laugh out loud so many times, I lost count.  They’re quite the little scoundrels, and a valuable addition to the crew.  Speaking of the crew, they’re a diverse, boisterous crowd with varied backgrounds, and kind of a family of their own making.  Everyone brings a special skill to the table.  And they’re pirates!  Who doesn’t love a good pirate tale?

If you’re looking for adventure on the high seas, quirky characters, a hint of magic, and a touch of romance, Voyage of the Lanternfish fits the bill quite nicely.

 

Surface Tension by Mike Mullin #bookreview #YA #thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

After witnessing an act of domestic terrorism while training on his bike, Jake is found near death, with a serious head injury and unable to remember the plane crash or the aftermath that landed him in the hospital.

A terrorist leader’s teenage daughter, Betsy, is sent to kill Jake and eliminate him as a possible witness. When Jake’s mother blames his head injury for his tales of attempted murder, he has to rely on his girlfriend, Laurissa, to help him escape the killers and the law enforcement agents convinced that Jake himself had a role in the crash. – Goodreads.com

Trust me when I say this – don’t blink or you’ll miss some things while reading this book.  It moves that fast.  Surface Tension is a thrilling ride with a chilling premise – it could potentially happen.

Because Jake happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and witnesses something he shouldn’t, his whole life, and the lives of his loved ones, change in an instant.  He finds himself in dire, nearly impossible situations, many of them life-threatening, but trust me, this kid is smart and resilient.  And his girlfriend, Laurissa, is brave, tenacious, and someone you want on your side.  She’s definitely a keeper.

Told from a dual POV (Jake and Betsy), this book deals with real world issues of terrorism and hate groups and, along with Jake, the reader will question who’s trustworthy.  An action-packed, twisty thriller, this is easily a crossover novel I’d recommend to both YA and adult readers.  This book is scheduled for publication May 8th, 2018.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.

 

Time Bomb by Joelle Charbonneau #bookreviews #TuesdayBookBlog #YA

A congressman’s daughter who has to be perfect. A star quarterback with a secret. A guy who’s tired of being ignored. A clarinet player who’s done trying to fit in. An orphaned rebel who wants to teach someone a lesson. A guy who wants people to see him, not his religion.

They couldn’t be more different, but before the morning’s over, they’ll all be trapped in a school that’s been rocked by a bombing. When they hear that someone inside is the bomber, they’ll also be looking to one another for answers. – Goodreads.com

More than anything, this book challenges the reader to avoid stereotypes and assumptions about the situations of others.  It’s timely, thought-provoking, and will stay with you long after finishing.

At first glance, this group of high school teens appear to be a Breakfast Club assortment.  Or are they?  As the story progresses, it’s revealed each is dealing with their own issues to include racism, homosexuality, religious discrimination, bullying, and suicide.  The interactions between Rashid and Tad are especially compelling.  With the exception of Frankie and Kaitlyn, the character development is incredible – the teens are real, relatable, and flawed.  For me, Frankie comes across as a little too stereotypical, and very little information about Kaitlyn is given.

All have motivations for planting the bombs, and determining the identity of the bomber may force the reader to face their own stereotypes and prejudices.  You may surprise yourself.  These teens experience a horrific situation, and I appreciated that the author didn’t create a tidy ending solving all their problems.

A quick, action-packed, and stimulating read, Time Bomb is so much more than teenagers fighting for their lives.  This is easily a cross-over and something I’d highly recommend for book clubs.  Time Bomb is scheduled for publication March 13th, 2018.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.