Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove by Rati Mehrotra #bookreview #YA #fantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

To learn what she can become, she must first discover who she is.

Katyani’s role in the kingdom of Chandela has always been clear: becoming an advisor and protector of the crown prince, Ayan, when he ascends to the throne. Bound to the Queen of Chandela through a forbidden soul bond that saved her when she was a child, Katyani has grown up in the royal family and become the best guardswoman the Garuda has ever seen. But when a series of assassination attempts threatens the royals, Katyani is shipped off to the gurukul of the famous Acharya Mahavir as an escort to Ayan and his cousin, Bhairav, to protect them as they hone the skills needed to be the next leaders of the kingdom. Nothing could annoy Katyani more than being stuck in a monastic school in the middle of a forest, except her run-ins with Daksh, the Acharya’s son, who can’t stop going on about the rules and whose gaze makes her feel like he can see into her soul.

But when Katyani and the princes are hurriedly summoned back to Chandela before their training is complete, tragedy strikes and Katyani is torn from the only life she has ever known. Alone and betrayed in a land infested by monsters, Katyani must find answers from her past to save all she loves and forge her own destiny. Bonds can be broken, but debts must be repaid.

It didn’t take me long to fall into this book and its incredible world-building. After the first few pages, I couldn’t read fast enough.

Orphaned Katyani nearly dies as a child, but is saved by the queen’s magic. Consequently, a forbidden soul bond develops between them, and Katya, now a strong guardsman, acts as the queen’s bodyguard. But she’s also a part of royal family and grows up considering the crown prince and his two cousins her siblings. As a fan of the found family trope, I loved this aspect. When a horrible tragedy strikes, everything Katya holds dear is ripped from her, and she’s betrayed in the worst way. I wanted to scream with her at the unjustness of her situation.

With forests filled with monsters and spirits, strong magic, and a medieval India setting, the world-building is immersive and complex. Seriously, the author should get a gold star for creating this world. The action scenes are well-choreographed and easy to picture as they play out. And did I mention the tension during these scenes? I gasped out loud more than once. The way Katya teases a serious-minded and stoic Daksh made me laugh – I enjoyed seeing his emotionless mask drop occasionally. They share a romantic relationship, but more importantly the two of them support each other when it’s needed most.

Shocking deaths, political schemes, and a quest for vindication make this a captivating read. I also like that it’s a standalone, but I certainly wouldn’t mind spending more time with these characters in this world. Highly recommend to fantasy fans.

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

The Witch Hunt (The Witch Haven #2) by Sasha Peyton Smith #bookreview #YA #fantasy

The lush and pulse-pounding sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Witch Haven follows Frances and her fellow witches to the streets of Paris where family secrets, lost loves, and dangerous magic await.

Months after the devastating battle between the Sons of St. Druon and the witches of Haxahaven, Frances has built a quiet, safe life for herself, teaching young witches and tending the garden within the walls of Haxahaven Academy. But one thing nags; her magic has begun to act strangely. When an opportunity to visit Paris arises, Frances jumps at the chance to go, longing for adventure and seeking answers about her own power.

Once she and her classmates Maxine and Lena reach the vibrant streets of France, Frances learns that the spell she used to speak to her dead brother has had terrible consequences—the veil between the living and the dead has been torn by her recklessness, and a group of magicians are using the rift for their own gain at a horrifying cost.

To right this wrong, and save lives and her own magical powers, Frances must hunt down answers in the parlors of Parisian secret societies, the halls of the Louvre, and the tunnels of the catacombs. Her only choice is to team up with the person she swore she’d never trust again, risking further betrayal and her own life in the process. 

It’s not often that I like a sequel better than the first book, but it happened with The Witch Hunt.

I wasn’t crazy about main character Frances in The Witch Haven. She seemed to have no problem asking others to take risks without considering the consequences for them. In this followup, months have passed, Frances has matured, and now she’s worried more about her friends than herself. When her magic begins acting strangely, Frances is naturally very concerned – especially since she teaches at a school for witches. When an opportunity to visit Paris presents itself, she jumps at the chance. Besides finding a solution to the problems with her powers, she has a more personal reason for the journey.

The strong friendship between Frances, Lena, and Maxine was one of my favorite things about the first novel, and it continues to top the list with this sequel. Maxine stole my heart with her snarky comments. Oliver, Frances’s boyfriend, has been attending school in Paris, so she’s also excited to be reunited with him. And he’s such a sweetie – totally supportive of Frances in every way.

It’s no secret that Finn is reintroduced. He betrayed Frances in a horrible way, but still believes they’ll be together and he can persuade her to forgive him. Honestly, he had some pretty good moments, and it wouldn’t be the first time a “villain” redeems himself. Turns out the spell Finn and Frances cast to talk to her dead brother in the prior book had some serious repercussions. The veil between the living and the dead is open, strange things are afoot, and power-hungry people are taking advantage of it. Someone has to close the veil, and it’s not going to be easy – or accomplished without a few dead bodies along the way.

I really enjoyed the 1913 Paris setting – I love this time period, and the high stakes kept me flipping the pages. Although some reviewers aren’t happy with the ending, it felt right to me. But I admit to thinking about it a couple days before I decided.

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

Our Violent Ends (These Violent Delights #2) by Chloe Gong #bookreview #YA #historicalfantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

The year is 1927, and Shanghai teeters on the edge of revolution.

After sacrificing her relationship with Roma to protect him from the blood feud, Juliette has been a girl on the warpath. One wrong move, and her cousin will step in to usurp her place as the Scarlet Gang’s heir. The only way to save the boy she loves from the wrath of the Scarlets is to have him want her dead for murdering his best friend in cold blood. If Juliette were actually guilty of the crime Roma believes she committed, his rejection might sting less.

Roma is still reeling from Marshall’s death, and his cousin Benedikt will barely speak to him. Roma knows it’s his fault for letting the ruthless Juliette back into his life, and he’s determined to set things right—even if that means killing the girl he hates and loves with equal measure.

Then a new monstrous danger emerges in the city, and though secrets keep them apart, Juliette must secure Roma’s cooperation if they are to end this threat once and for all. Shanghai is already at a boiling point: The Nationalists are marching in, whispers of civil war brew louder every day, and gangster rule faces complete annihilation. Roma and Juliette must put aside their differences to combat monsters and politics, but they aren’t prepared for the biggest threat of all: protecting their hearts from each other.

It’s not often I can say this, but the second book in this series easily tops the first. I could barely pry my fingers away the Kindle.

In this Romeo and Juliet retelling, the struggle for power is alive and well and continues in Shanghai. With Roma’s White Flowers, Juliette’s Scarlets, the Communists, and Nationalists all battling for control, bloodshed, backstabbing (sometimes literally), and manipulation abound in the streets of the city. The terrorizing monster plot line in the first novel didn’t sit well with me and, although it’s still a part of the story, it’s not as prevalent.

Hot-headed and impulsive, Juliette didn’t win me over in book one, but she’s made progress toward becoming a more strategic player. I also didn’t feel the connection between her and Roma the first time around. Actually, I was more invested in the budding romance between Benedikt and Marshall (who have a beautiful story of their own), but Roma and Juliette’s relationship came across much stronger to me in this sequel. Taking into consideration what’s occuring around them, it’s messy, angry (with the occasional murder attempt), tense, and sometimes volatile, but more believable, and I was anxious to learn their outcome. As with many retellings, don’t assume it aligns with the original version.

With a bigger focus on politics and the men who pull the strings instead of a supernatural monster, more even pacing (it sure didn’t feel like five hundred pages), and phenomenal character development in both MCs and supporting characters, readers will be thrilled with this sequel. Although some may not agree, I thought the ending was perfect and closed the book with a smile on my face.

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

#BadMoonRising Hullaba Lulu: A Dieselpunk Adventure by Teagan Riordain Geneviene #steampunk #historicalfantasy

Happy Monday!  Today’s guest is sure to pull you out of your Monday morning slump.  Her creativity knows no limits, and she’s brought along Lulu, her main character, to join in for the interview.  I’m willing to bet a lifetime supply of chocolate you’d never guess which movie scared her so much she couldn’t sleep.  Welcome Teagan Riordain Geneviene!

Hi, Teri. Thanks so much for letting Lulu and me be part of Bad Moon Rising 2020! (Lulu, there’s a bit of horseradish on your mouth. Ugh, did you just burp?)

As I was about to say, I don’t write real horror, but Hullaba Lulu — a Dieselpunk Adventure has some pos-i-lutely creepy moments. In honor of Bad Moon Rising, my new novella is priced at 99¢ (Kindle version only), throughout October. (What Lulu? Yes, I know that cold hand on your shoulder in the abandoned train station really scared you. Now, stop that, Lulu. I know you’re excited, but if you dance the Lindy Hop in Teri’s office, you’ll knock something over. Hey, do I smell giggle water on your breath?)

Anyhow, it’s been fun seeing not just everyone’s answers, but the questions they chose. Here are my answers. They tell a little bit about me. (Shush, Lulu! Nobody needs to know that much about me.)

Fun Questions

Andy Warhol and Tennessee Williams, Wikipedia. Tomfoolery by Teagan
Andy Warhol and Tennessee Williams, Wikipedia. Tomfoolery by Teagan

Has a movie or book scared you so much you couldn’t sleep? Which one?

The Doors (1991) with Val Kilmer. No, that’s not a horror movie, but I woke up screaming — more than once afterward. There was a short bit about Andy Warhol in the movie. Heaven knows how my subconscious works, but I had a couple of nightmares from which I woke up screaming. LOL, Andy Warhol was about to get me, who knows for what nefarious intent. Haha. For at least a month the backbeat of Break on Through to the Other Side pulsed in my head. I love that song, but ever since, I’ve felt a creepy otherworldly association with it. Like I say ― I’m not wired right! (What Lulu? You’re right, the Ouija board navigation system in Valentino’s train isn’t wired right either.)

If you were in a horror movie, would you rather have a loaded gun or a car that wouldn’t break down?

Lulu and Friends by Teagan R Geneviene
Lulu and Friends by Teagan R Geneviene

Give me the car. I have terrible aim. I did “target practice” a couple of times with some friends. We were using their old barn. I literally could not hit the broad side of that barn. However, there have been a times when I’ve had to perform some rather impressing driving maneuvers ― but that is not a story for today. Yeah… definitely the car, not the gun. (Oh, and don’t bring Lulu — she doesn’t know how to drive, as you’ll see in the novella.)

Would you rather put your hand in a box and feel something slimy or furry?

I’m really not sure, that depends on the context. However, in a real life case, it was something furry. Decades ago, my beloved cat went down the tubes of an open dryer vent. (I was lied to about the surrounding circumstances. I had to live somewhere that was not my home, during my divorce. I was told the dryer was hooked up properly, even though the person I was staying with knew that was a lie.) After singlehandedly moving both the washer and dryer (at least twice ― I had an adrenalin surge) trying to find my cat, I heard a raspy hissing sound down inside that hole/tube/vent. I wasn’t sure if it might be a snake or a rat, but I prayed it was the cat. I thrust my hand into the tube (equal to the box in your scenario). My fingers reached something furry, and I grabbed on. Thank goodness it was the cat. (Yes, Lulu. Teri is the cat’s pajamas.)

Writing Questions

Pearl, Lulu, Rose, & Bot in "Sideways" Atlantic City, by Teagan R Geneviene
Pearl, Lulu, Rose, & Angel-Bot in “Sideways” Atlantic City, by Teagan R Geneviene

What was the hardest scene to write in your featured book?

The ending, with all the wild concepts I had to pull together, was by far the hardest. Plus, where there’s Lulu, there’s trouble. That’s why she’s called Hullaba Lulu. So, on top of all that, I had to end with something at which I could hint that Lulu is about to do, off screen, that would result in chaos. (I know, Lulu. I want to write that sequel too. Just drink that jorum of skee and don’t give any spoilers.)

Which comes first for you – plot or characters?

Actually… neither, at least most of the time. Usually, the thing that comes first for me is the world I build. Lulu is an exception to that rule. The title character and her two friends, Pearl and Rose, were inspired by the song “Don’t Bring Lulu.” It was recorded by Billy Murray in 1925. My Lulu stays “wild and wooly” true to the flapper described in the lyrics of the song. (Yes, I know you hate that song, Lulu. Now stop touching things in Teri’s office.)

Describe your writing space.

Oh… I admit this is a bad thing, and I certainly don’t recommend it. Lately my writing space is me plopped in the middle of my bed with my laptop. It’s the quietest room in the house. I can stare out the window to the back yard when my brain needs to dance away for a moment. My back hates me for it though. One of these days I’ll finish my office. (Lulu, you know I don’t have any angel-bots to do the work. Heaven knows I wish I did!)

What are you working on now?

White Gogo Boots Teagan R Geneviene
Image by Teagan R. Geneviene

I’m afraid that I have to remain fairly secretive about my novel in progress. That’s hard because it’s such slow going… Or maybe that’s why it’s going so slowly — because I thrive on sharing. However, I’ll tell this much… It started with my mental image of go-go boots like the ones I had as a little girl, and them stepping onto sandy pavement. It’s a genre mash-up set in the 1960s, and there are cats. I’m grateful to Dan Antion and Olga Núñez Miret for doing alpha reads of part-1. (No Lulu. It isn’t your sequel. I told you not to touch things. Put that down.)

Cover and Blurb

Hullaba Lulu cover by Teagan R. Geneviene
Hullaba Lulu cover by Teagan R. Geneviene

Hullaba Lulu, a Dieselpunk Adventure is a wild and wooly 1920s fantasy story. Lulu, the heroine is inspired by the song, “Don’t Bring Lulu,” from 1925 ― so are her pals, Pearl and Rose. My Lulu loves to dance, and freely indulges in giggle water. She snores and burps and says whatever she wants. Lulu is a snarky but good-hearted flapper. The song’s inspiration stops there, but the story is just beginning.

Travel with Lulu and her friends on a magical, dieselpunk train that belongs to the smolderingly handsome and enigmatic man known only as Valentino. They get into all sorts of trouble, usually due to Lulu’s clumsiness. It’s an intense ride through a number of pos-i-lutely creepy settings, including “sideways” versions of Atlantic City and the Cotton Club. At every stop and in between, Lulu ends up creating chaos. There’s no telling where they’ll end up. No, Lulu! Don’t touch that!

Lulu’s the kind of smarty, breaks up every party,

Hullabaloo loo, don’t bring Lulu,

I’ll bring her myself!

Purchase Links

In honor of Bad Moon Rising, throughout October, the eBooks of Hullaba Lulu are at an introductory price of 99¢. For those who boycott Amazon I made a Kobo eBook too.

Kindle: Click this universal link

Paperback: Click this universal link

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/hullaba-lulu

Hullaba Lulu promo image by Teagan R. Geneviene

Hullaba Lulu promo image by Teagan R. Geneviene

Also…

While it is not exactly a companion volume to any of my Roaring Twenties stories, I’ve written a 1920s slang dictionary. I’m careful to use slang in a context that makes it understandable, but you might enjoy having Speak Flapper. It debuted at #1 in its category at Amazon. Here’s a review from Annika Perry at Goodreads.

Speak Flapper, Slang of the 1920s by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
Speak Flapper, Slang of the 1920s by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

(Lulu. If you can’t stop touching things, you’ll have to wait in the car. Just go on outside.)

Author Bio

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene’s work is colored by her experiences from living in the southern states and the desert southwest (of the USA). Teagan most often writes one kind of fantasy or another, including the “Punk” genres, like steampunk, dieselpunk, and atompunk. Whether it’s a 1920s mystery, a steampunk adventure, or an urban fantasy, her stories have a strong element of whimsy. There are no extremes in violence, sex, or profanity.

Her talents also include book covers and promotional images. She makes all of her own. Teagan is currently exploring the idea of offering that service to others.

All of the books by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene are available at her Amazon Author Page.

Amazon Author Page Universal Link

Her latest release is from the punk genres, Hullaba Lulu, a Dieselpunk Adventure.

Social Media Links

You can also visit me at:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/e/B00HHDXHVM
Twitter: https://twitter.com/teagangeneviene
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TeagansBooks
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/teagangeneviene/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoM-z7_iH5t2_7aNpy3vG-Q
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/teagangeneviene/

Lulu! What are you doing? Don’t touch that, Lulu! Akkk! Luluuuu! By-byeeeee Teriiiii!