Ballad and Dagger ( Outlaw Saints #1) by Daniel José Older #bookreview #YA #urbanfantasy

Rick Riordan presents Daniel José Older’s music-and-magic-filled YA urban fantasy about two teens who discover each other and their powers during a political battle within a diaspora community.

Almost sixteen years ago, Mateo Matisse’s island homeland disappeared into the sea. Weary and hopeless, the survivors of San Madrigal’s sinking escaped to New York.

While the rest of his tight-knit Brooklyn diaspora community dreams of someday finding a way back home, Mateo–now a high school junior and piano prodigy living with his two aunts (one who’s alive, the other not so much)–is focused on one thing: getting the attention of locally-grown musical legend Gerval. Mateo finally gets his chance on the night of the Grand Fete, an annual party celebrating the blended culture of pirates, Cuban Santeros, and Sephardic Jews that created San Madrigal all those centuries ago.

But the evil that sank their island has finally caught up with them, and on the night of the celebration, Mateo’s life is forever changed when he witnesses a brutal murder by a person he thought he knew.

Suddenly Mateo is thrust into an ancient battle that spans years and oceans. Deadly secrets are unraveled and Mateo awakens a power within himself–a power that not only links him to the killer but could also hold the key to unlocking the dark mystery behind his lost homeland. 

I don’t usually post reviews on Wednesdays, but I prefer to post them close to the book release date. May has several new releases of books I’ve gotten from NetGalley, so this will be the norm for the month.

I was first introduced to this author watching a YA book festival zoom panel. After hearing him speak, I immediately wanted to read his books and was thrilled to receive an ARC of his newest release.

Mateo is a piano prodigy and knows exactly what he wants to do with his life – play music. But then he discovers (in a very public way) his destiny is wildly different, and it’s something he can’t escape. Maybe he doesn’t want to when he learns it’s something that could help his people find their original home of San Madrigal. His life is further changed after he witnesses a brutal killing the night of Grand Fete – and he knows the murderer.

In the first pages of the story when Mateo walks the streets of Little Madrigal in Brooklyn, NY, I could easily picture his vibrant community – the sights, sounds, smells, and people. It’s a place I’d love to visit and meet their wonderful blend of citizens – pirates, Cuban Santeros, and Sephardic Jews (and enjoy all that food). But the community isn’t living in harmony at the moment. Power struggles and politics ensue, and battle lines are drawn.

The supporting cast is everything. From Mateo’s aunts (one alive and the other a spirit), to his teasing best friend Tam, and the loyal twins, they add so much to the story. With urban fantasies, world-building can make or break a story, and this is done to perfection. The history, culture, politics, and magic are all well-explained and easy to follow. Pacing is a little uneven in the beginning, but soon moves at a breakneck speed to the end.

Ballad and Dagger has a little bit of everything – ancient secrets, battles, characters easy to root for, romance, rich culture. It’s a bit of a coming of age story that I enjoyed from the first page and look forward to reading more books by this author.

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

The City of Dusk (The Dark Gods #1) by Tara Sim #bookreview #darkfantasy #LGBTQIA #TuesdayBookBlog

Set in a gorgeous world of bone and shadow magic, of vengeful gods and defiant chosen ones, The City of Dusk is the first in a dark epic fantasy trilogy that follows the four heirs of four noble houses—each gifted with a divine power—as they form a tenuous alliance to keep their kingdom from descending into a realm-shattering war.

The Four Realms—Life, Death, Light, and Darkness—all converge on the city of dusk. For each realm there is a god, and for each god there is an heir.

But the gods have withdrawn their favor from the once vibrant and thriving city. And without it, all the realms are dying.

Unwilling to stand by and watch the destruction, the four heirs—Risha, a necromancer struggling to keep the peace; Angelica, an elementalist with her eyes set on the throne; Taesia, a shadow-wielding rogue with rebellion in her heart; and Nik, a soldier who struggles to see the light— will sacrifice everything to save the city.

But their defiance will cost them dearly.

After reading another novel by this author that hooked me from page one, I was thrilled to see this first book in her dark epic fantasy trilogy on NetGalley.

Four realms, each with a god, each with an heir possessing a divine power – and one king without an heir. The world-building is immersive, complex, and well-explained. The cultures, magic system, politics, dynamics between realms – I was never confused. What I missed was a map, which would have been very helpful, but I had an ARC, although it looks like a map will be included in the final copy.

The story is told from several different POVs, but primarily the four heirs who are all well-crafted and distinctive. Taesha is morally gray (my favorite kind of character) and rebellious, but cares deeply for people. Risha is analytical, family-oriented, and agrees to meet a potential husband for an arranged marriage. Nikolas is kind, still grieving the death of his brother, and constantly trying to prove his worth to his father. Angelica is ambitious and powerful, but lacks control. The relationships between these characters is complicated. Sometimes they’re friends or occasionally more, but they’ve been raised to compete against each other, their parents believing one of them will be chosen as a successor to the crown since the king is without an heir.

At over five hundred pages, this is a hefty read, but that’s something to be expected in the fantasy genre, especially the first in a series. There’s plenty of action with vivid fight scenes, but also lots of downtime, and I felt the pacing was a little inconsistent.

Make no mistake – this is a very dark fantasy, and scenes can be graphic and gory. Some characters want what’s best for their people. Others desire power. But that’s part of the reason it’s such a compelling read, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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

Bright Ruined Things by Samantha Cohoe #bookreview #YA #historicalfiction #fantasy

The only life Mae has ever known is on the island, living on the charity of the wealthy Prosper family who control the magic on the island and the spirits who inhabit it. Mae longs for magic of her own and to have a place among the Prosper family, where her best friend, Coco, will see her as an equal, and her crush, Miles, will finally see her. Now that she’s eighteen, Mae knows her time with the Prospers may soon come to an end.

But tonight is First Night, when the Prospers and their high-society friends return to the island to celebrate the night Lord Prosper first harnessed the island’s magic and started producing aether – a magical fuel source that has revolutionized the world. With everyone returning to the island, Mae finally has the chance to go after what she’s always wanted.

When the spirits start inexplicably dying, Mae starts to realize that things aren’t what they seem. And Ivo, the reclusive, mysterious heir to the Prosper magic, may hold all the answers – including a secret about Mae’s past that she doesn’t remember. As Mae and her friends begin to unravel the mysteries of the island, and the Prospers’ magic, Mae starts to question the truth of what her world was built on.

Forbidden magic, a family secret, and a night to reveal it all… 

Although this is about magic on an island, the cover gave me Great Gatsby vibes (one of my favs), and I enjoy reading about that time period.

I immediately was captivated by the lush imagery in this book and intrigued by the magic. The beauty of the island and its ocean views filled my mind, and I felt as if I was running along the cliffs with Mae. The spirits who reside there add to the atmosphere – until they begin to die. There’s also a huge buildup of anticipation to the family secret reveal – I imagined all sorts of things and came up with several theories.

After Mae’s father, a servant to the family, passes away when she’s a young girl, Lord Prosper promises to let her remain on the island until she’s grown. Her best friend is Coco, Lord Prosper’s granddaughter, and she dreams of marrying Miles, his grandson. She longs to learn magic, although it’s only taught to the heir – never any outsiders. Why Mae would want to join this family or be anywhere near them is beyond my understanding. There’s not one likeable person among the clan. They’re a manipulative, spoiled bunch, and all I can conclude is since she’s never been off the island and gotten to know other people, she just doesn’t know any better. Ivo has potential, but he doesn’t get a ton of page time, and he repeatedly warns Mae away from magic. Even Mae didn’t impress me very much. She comes across as materialistic, nosy (she’s big on eavesdropping), and dim-witted. Once she figures out the lay of the land and exactly what’s going on, she becomes more tolerable, and by the epilogue I liked her much better.

This is loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, but it’s been years since I read it so I can’t make any comparisons. Although I had mixed feelings about most of the story, the ending is perfect and exactly what I’d hoped. Overall, Bright Ruined Things is an enjoyable story, but you may struggle to find a worthy character to root for.

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

WWW Wednesday: What Am I Reading? #amreading

WWW Wednesday is a meme from Sam at Taking On A World Of Words

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m literally starting Bright Ruined Things today, so I really can’t comment on it. It’s been on my NetGalley shelf for months, but I’m excited to finally get to it. The cover gives me a Great Gatsby feel.

The only life Mae has ever known is on the island, living on the charity of the wealthy Prosper family who control the magic on the island and the spirits who inhabit it. Mae longs for magic of her own and to have a place among the Prosper family, where her best friend, Coco, will see her as an equal, and her crush, Miles, will finally see her. Now that she’s eighteen, Mae knows her time with the Prospers may soon come to an end.

But tonight is First Night, when the Prospers and their high-society friends return to the island to celebrate the night Lord Prosper first harnessed the island’s magic and started producing aether – a magical fuel source that has revolutionized the world. With everyone returning to the island, Mae finally has the chance to go after what she’s always wanted.

When the spirits start inexplicably dying, Mae starts to realize that things aren’t what they seem. And Ivo, the reclusive, mysterious heir to the Prosper magic, may hold all the answers – including a secret about Mae’s past that she doesn’t remember. As Mae and her friends begin to unravel the mysteries of the island, and the Prospers’ magic, Mae starts to question the truth of what her world was built on.

Forbidden magic, a family secret, and a night to reveal it all…

I just finished These Deadly Games last night. If you’re looking for a twisty thriller with a potentially unreliable narrator, this one’s for you. Lots of red herrrings that will keep you guessing.

Let’s play a game.

You have 24 hours to win. If you break my rules, she dies. If you call the police, she dies. If you tell your parents or anyone else, she dies.

Are you ready?


When Crystal Donavan gets a message on a mysterious app with a video of her little sister gagged and bound, she agrees to play the kidnapper’s game. At first, they make her complete bizarre tasks: steal a test and stuff it in a locker, bake brownies, make a prank call.

But then Crystal realizes each task is meant to hurt—and kill—her friends, one by one. But if she refuses to play, the kidnapper will kill her sister. Is someone trying to take her team out of the running for a gaming tournament? Or have they uncovered a secret from their past, and wants them to pay for what they did…

As Crystal makes the impossible choices between her friends and her sister, she must uncover the truth and find a way to outplay the kidnapper… before it’s too late.

Author of All Your Twisted Secrets, Diana Urban’s explosive sophomore novel, These Deadly Games, will keep you riveted until the final twist is revealed. 

When I was offered the Light Years From Home NetGalley widget for a blog tour, I jumped at the chance. I’ve read two other books by Mike Chen, and he’s never disappointed. And what a hook with that first paragraph!

Every family has issues. Most can’t blame them on extraterrestrials.

Evie Shao and her sister, Kass, aren’t on speaking terms. Fifteen years ago on a family camping trip, their father and brother vanished. Their dad turned up days later, dehydrated and confused—and convinced he’d been abducted by aliens. Their brother, Jakob, remained missing. The women dealt with it very differently. Kass, suspecting her college-dropout twin simply ran off, became the rock of the family. Evie traded academics to pursue alien conspiracy theories, always looking for Jakob.

When Evie’s UFO network uncovers a new event, she goes to investigate. And discovers Jakob is back. He’s different—older, stranger, and talking of an intergalactic war—but the tensions between the siblings haven’t changed at all. If the family is going to come together to help Jakob, then Kass and Evie are going to have to fix their issues, and fast. Because the FBI is after Jakob, and if their brother is telling the truth, possibly an entire space armada, too.

The perfect combination of action, imagination and heart, Light Years From Home is a touching drama about a challenge as difficult as saving the galaxy: making peace with your family…and yourself. 

The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman #bookreview #YA #fantasy #magic #TuesdayBookBlog

Magic, a prized resource, is the only thing between peace and war. When magic runs out, four estranged royal siblings must find a new source before their country is swallowed by invading forces. The first in an Indian-inspired duology.

Vira is desperate to get out of her mother’s shadow and establish her legacy as a revered queen of Ashoka. But with the country’s only quarry running out of magic–a precious resource that has kept Ashoka safe from conflict–she can barely protect her citizens from the looming threat of war. And if her enemies discover this, they’ll stop at nothing to seize the last of the magic.

Vira’s only hope is to find a mysterious object of legend: the Ivory Key, rumored to unlock a new source of magic. But in order to infiltrate enemy territory and retrieve it, she must reunite with her siblings, torn apart by the different paths their lives have taken. Each of them has something to gain from finding the Ivory Key–and even more to lose if they fail. Ronak plans to sell it to the highest bidder in exchange for escape from his impending political marriage. Kaleb, falsely accused of assassinating the former maharani needs it to clear his name. And Riya, a runaway who cut all family ties, wants the Key to prove her loyalty to the rebels who want to strip the nobility of its power.

They must work together to survive the treacherous journey. But with each sibling harboring secrets and their own agendas, the very thing that brought them together could tear apart their family–and their world–for good.

Besides this stunning cover, I liked the idea of four estranged siblings having to work together to save their country. That it’s Indian-inspired was just a bonus.

For several reasons, these siblings grew apart, and one was even imprisoned for killing their mother, the former maharani. A couple years later when this story begins, each has formed an opinion of the others and made assumptions about them based on their actions. And each of them is wrong. Vira, Ronak, Riya, and Kaleb are all hiding secrets and have their own reasons, honorable or not, for needing to find the Ivory Key. I always enjoy sibling dynamics in novels and movies. In spite of their differences and suspicions, these four are still protective of each other. Like most siblings, they have their squabbles and hurl cutting remarks, many of which made me laugh. Strained as it may be at times, their family bond remains intact.

Their father was obsessed with finding the Ivory Key, but died before he could locate it. He passed on his knowledge to his children in a journal, but also trained them from an early age to solve riddles and puzzles. The siblings had no idea how valuable that training would become until their journey to find the Ivory Key has an Indiana Jones-esque feel with its booby traps and brain-teasers. All four have to rely on each other’s knowledge and memories to get them closer to their ultimate goal.

Four POVs may put off some readers, but I found the characters to be very distinct and was never confused about who was narrating. Each viewpoint is necessary to get a more accurate picture of the family dynamics and challenges each character faces. I didn’t see the shocking twist at the end coming – I actually had to back up a couple paragraphs – but when it happened it made perfect sense. Now I’m even more anxious for the second book.

If you’re a fan of character-driven fantasy, magical settings, puzzle-filled quests, and combative, humorous family dynamics, this is a book for you.

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

All of Us Villains (All of Us Villains #1) by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman #bookreview #fantasy #YA

The Blood Moon rises. The Blood Veil falls. The Tournament begins.

Every generation, at the coming of the Blood Moon, seven families in the remote city of Ilvernath each name a champion to compete in a tournament to the death.

The prize? Exclusive control over a secret wellspring of high magick, the most powerful resource in the world–one thought long depleted.

This year, thanks to a salacious tell-all book, the seven champions are thrust into worldwide spotlight, granting each of them new information, new means to win, and most importantly: a choice – accept their fate or rewrite their story.

But this is a story that must be penned in blood. 

Having read books by both of these authors, I was ecstatic when I heard they were teaming up to write a series together. That the main characters are villains? I could barely contain my excitement – morally gray characters are my favorites.

Monsters couldn’t harm you if you were a monster, too.

This quote represents the philosophy of some of these families when it comes to bestowing beliefs upon their children. Talk about your twisted parenting styles. From a young age, a few of these seven characters knew they were the chosen champions of their family. If that title was up for grabs, some of them even campaigned for it. They were extensively trained in spells and magic, knowing that they may eventually face their friends, boyfriends, or girlfriends from the other families in the tournament and have to kill them.

Control of high magick is what they’re fighting for, and I liked that no one completely understands how it works or the consequences of every spell. Throughout the story the characters learn maybe everything isn’t as they were taught, and there’s a complex puzzle to be solved. A way they don’t all have to die.

Seven participants in the tournament and four POVs are a lot to keep up with, but each of these characters is distinct and well-crafted. I have to say Alistair, the predicted champion, and Gavin, the underdog, are my favorites. Alistair’s story is especially tragic, and I just wanted to hug him. Gavin wants to show his family and the rest of the town he’s not a loser and makes some bold choices to prove it. Just when I thought I knew these characters, game-changing twists had my head spinning. Considering they’re all villains, I should have known better than to make assumptions.

Wicked, dark, and full of surprises, this is an addictive series, and I won’t rest easily until I get my hands on the next book. Highly recommend!

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

When Night Breaks (Kingdom of Cards #2) by Janella Angeles #bookreview #fantasy #magicians #YA

The competition has come to a disastrous end, and Daron Demarco’s fall from grace is now front page news. But little matters to him beyond Kallia, the contestant he fell for who is now lost to this world and in the hands of a dangerous magician. Daron is willing to do whatever it takes to find her. Even if it means embarking on a dark and treacherous journey, risking more than just his life, with no promise of return.

After awaking in darkness, Kallia has never felt more lost. Especially with Jack by her side, the magician with who has the answers but cannot be trusted. Together, they must navigate a dazzling world where mirrors show memories and illusions shadow every corner, one ruled by a powerful game master who could all too easily destroy the world she left behind — and the boy she can’t seem to forget. With time running out, Kallia must embrace her role in a darker destiny, or lose everyone she loves, forever.

Stunning, gorgeous, enchanting – all descriptions of this cover. The first in the series is no different, and both set the tone for the story of magic and magicians inside.

This book immediately picks up where the first left off. Jack and Kallia find themselves in a darker, somewhat familiar world filled with danger, memories, and illusions. What’s real? What/who can they trust? Demarco and friends, left behind and struggling to understand what happened, desperately search for a way to reach Kallia.

While the first book contained tension-filled scenes between Kallia and Demarcos, elaborate competitions between the magicians, and mysterious secrets surrounding the town, this sequel has a different feel. Not bad, just – different. Kallia and Demarcos are separated for the majority of the story, the competitions are reduced to a couple brief duels, and most of the secrets are revealed early. I especially missed one of my favorite supporting characters and scene stealer, Aaros. He’s nearly MIA this time around.

The elusive Jack was a big draw for me in Where Dreams Descend, and I was anxious to see what would be revealed about him, if anything. I’ll just say his origin and power are explained, and he remains a mesmerizing character. His character arc may be my favorite part of this sequel. If you didn’t care for him before, you may change your mind.

While I enjoyed the addition of some new characters, a couple of unexpected plot twists, and the way the story wraps up, pacing was slow for me. For a nearly five hundred page novel, it contains several long stretches where not much happens. I read an ARC, so it’s something that may be tightened up in the final copy.

If fantasies set in a lavish, magical world filled with atmosphere and secrets pique your interest, this is a duology you should check out.

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

Lakesedge (World at Lake’s Edge #1) by Lyndall Clipstone #bookreview #YA #fantasy #LGBT #TuesdayBookBlog

A lush gothic fantasy about monsters and magic, set on the banks of a cursed lake. Perfect for fans of Naomi Novik and Brigid Kemmerer.

There are monsters in the world.

When Violeta Graceling arrives at haunted Lakesedge estate, she expects to find a monster. She knows the terrifying rumors about Rowan Sylvanan, who drowned his entire family when he was a boy. But neither the estate nor the monster are what they seem.

There are monsters in the woods.

As Leta falls for Rowan, she discovers he is bound to the Lord Under, the sinister death god lurking in the black waters of the lake. A creature to whom Leta is inexplicably drawn…

There’s a monster in the shadows, and now it knows my name.

Now, to save Rowan—and herself—Leta must confront the darkness in her past, including unraveling the mystery of her connection to the Lord Under. 

I enjoyed the gothic atmosphere of the visually stunning movie Crimson Peak. It’s used as a comp title for this novel, and the cover really sets the tone for the story.

If you’re looking for an atmospheric read for this time of year, this is it. With a bleak manor, sinister woods, cursed black lake, and young, mysterious lord said to have drowned his family, it’s easy to immerse yourself in this world. You’ll want to learn its hidden secrets.

After losing their parents at a young age, Leta and her brother, Arien are taken in by a woman who was initially kind to them, but became cruel and abusive when Arien began showing signs of dark magic. Rowan Sylvanan, lord of Lakesedge estate, sees something in him and takes them in, but Leta isn’t sure if their situation is improved. Soon after settling in, it becomes clear Rowan isn’t the monster he’s rumored to be, but instead is cursed by a deal he made with the Lord Under as a child. The estate and lands surrounding it are slowly dying from a magical corruption, and Rowan needs Leta’s and Arien’s help in defeating it.

Leta is extremely overprotective of Arien and, although annoying at first, the reason becomes clear. I thought he was around eight-years-old, but was surprised he’s actually thirteen. For me, he reads much younger, although he seems more like a teen as the story progresses. With this gothic tale comes a budding romance between Rowan and Leta, but it doesn’t take center stage. The driving force of the story is about adapting and combining the characters’ magic to conquer the corruption. Leta also has a history with the Lord Under, and they share an unusual connection. It’s something I want to know more about.

I went into this book thinking it was a standalone (there was no mention of a series on NetGalley), but toward the end it quickly became clear things weren’t wrapping up. The sequel releases next fall, so now I’ll have an impatient wait to see what happens after that whopping cliffhanger. If you enjoy dark fantasy with a hint of horror and undercurrents of romance, this is an atmospheric novel I’d recommend.

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

#BadMoonRising Things Old and Forgotten by Mae Clair #paranormal #supernatural #magic

Mention cryptids and I immediately think of this author’s intense and thrilling Point Pleasant series featuring the Mothman (if you haven’t read it, you’re depriving yourself – trust me on this). She’s here today with her new release, and the excerpts I’ve read during her blog tour have me wanting to drop everything, curl up on the couch with it, and dive in. Welcome Mae Clair!

Hi, Teri! I’m delighted to be a guest on Bad Moon Rising yet again. I look forward to this event every year—not only as an author, but also as a reader looking for new and riveting reads. I’ve discovered several, thanks to your yearly Halloween Festival, and have even made a good friend as a result. Thank you for putting this together. I wish you and your readers a happy October and a Happy Halloween. You had some intriguing questions this year, a few that really made me think.

Which urban legend scares you most?

The first one that stuck with/terrified me, I heard when I was six years old. There was an upscale park not far from where I lived, tucked next to a neighborhood of elite homes. In the version of “the hook” I was told, two high school kids were cuddling in a car when they heard a scratching noise on the roof. Of course it was late at night—pitch black, moonless. The guy got out to investigate. Minutes passed, stretching longer and longer. The scratching noise stopped, then after a span, grew louder. Worried, when her boyfriend didn’t return, the girl got out of the car. She found his lifeless body hanging upside down from a tree, his fingernails scratching against the roof as he swayed back and forth. It still gives me shivers when I think of it!

Candy apple or candy corn?

Change “candy” to “caramel” and this is a tough one, because I love both. Candy corn is the ultimate Halloween treat. That said, I don’t have to buy it every year, but I almost always buy caramel apples coated with nuts. I love them! Even more, there is one Halloween treat I absolutely/positively must buy each October – Sweetzels Spiced Wafers. They are the ultimate ginger snap cookie! I’ve been eating them each year since I was a kid.

Do you ever see figures in your peripheral vision?

I have memories from when I was a kid. I was six and terrified of “someone” behind a blind in my bedroom. The room had a row of four windows covered with venetian blinds. I swear I saw “something/someone” behind the last blind. My older sister tried to calm my fears by raising the blind on each window to show me no one was there. She did that to all four windows. But I distinctly remember thinking “why didn’t she raise the blind on the fifth?” There was no fifth window, but I can still see it clearly in my head. Weird, I know. That was just one of my “peripheral encounters.”

How do you celebrate when you finish writing a book?

I treat myself to something fun. That’s usually a shopping spree for clothes, jewelry, shoes, or books, but definitely something that makes me happy. In the past, when sales were good, I’ve also treated myself to a new iPhone, MacBook, and Bulova watch at different times. I miss those fabulous days of sales!

Which book have you read more than once?

There have been so many! When I really love a book, it’s nothing for me to go back and read it again and again. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring is probably the one I’ve read the most. I’ve also reread Black Sun Rising (a fantasy novel) by C.S. Friedman, Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, and Still Life with Crows and Fever Dream, both by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. These are just a few, but there are many I cherish and have read multiple times.

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

Oh, my! I have so many wonderful writing friends online who I would love to meet. I would choose so many of them. I would so love to sit down in a coffee house to chat writing, books, and reading. We talk online but meeting face-to-face would be phenomenal! One can only hope.

BOOK BLURB:
A man keeping King Arthur’s dream of Camelot alive.
A Robin Hood battling a drastically different Sherwood.
A young man facing eternity in the desert.
A genteel southern lady besting a powerful order of genies.
A woman meeting her father decades after his death.


These are but a few of the intriguing tales waiting to be discovered in Things Old and Forgotten. Prepare to be transported to realms of folklore and legend, where magic and wonder linger around every corner, and fantastic possibilities are limited only by imagination.

Purchase Link

US
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09HP4Q6QC/r 

UK
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09HP4Q6QC/ 

Author Bio and Social Media

Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts:        

Amazon| BookBub| Newsletter Sign-Up
Website | Blog| Twitter| Goodreads| All Social Media

She Who Rides the Storm by Caitlin Sangster #bookreview #YA #fantasy

In this atmospheric YA fantasy that is Wicked Saints meets There Will Come a Darkness, four teens are drawn into a high-stakes heist in the perilous tomb of an ancient shapeshifter king.

Long ago, shapeshifting monsters ruled the Commonwealth using blasphemous magic that fed on the souls of their subjects. Now, hundreds of years later, a new tomb has been uncovered, and despite the legends that disturbing a shapeshifter’s final resting place will wake them once again, the Warlord is determined to dig it up.

But it isn’t just the Warlord who means to brave the traps and pitfalls guarding the crypt.

A healer obsessed with tracking down the man who murdered her twin brother.

A runaway member of the Warlord’s Devoted order, haunted by his sister’s ghost.

A snotty archaeologist bent on finding the cure to his magical wasting disease.

A girl desperate to escape the cloistered life she didn’t choose.

All four are out to steal the same cursed sword rumored to be at the very bottom of the tomb. But of course, some treasures should never see the light of day, and some secrets are best left buried…

I read a title from this author’s backlist a few years ago and was excited to see she’s releasing a new series. The fact that it’s a heist story made it even more appealing.

Talk about lack of trust. Each of these characters has valid reasons for not placing theirs in just anyone after being betrayed in various ways. They’ve also suffered incredible losses – Anwei her parents and twin brother, Knox his sister and best friend, Lia her family when she was ripped away from them, and Mateo his parents and possibly his life if he doesn’t find a cure for the wasting disease. I liked each of these characters and quickly grew to care about them. Mateo also injected some humor into his scenes that I especially enjoyed. Anwei and Knox have been partners in crime – literally – for a year, and before long all four of their lives become entwined. Stories that bring together a group of misfits are among my favorites, and this one also offered a couple of sly, crafty supporting characters who add to the plot.

Romance wise I was skeptical when it became evident these four would be paired off into relationships, but both are vastly different. Two of them have harbored slow burn feelings for quite a while, but the other two are in a quasi-kind of fake courtship that results in some light-hearted, comedic moments. They each work well within the scope of the story.

World-building is a big thing for me and this being a fantasy, it’s incredibly important to the plot. It’s clear the author developed a complex world with some original elements, but I never felt like I had a good grasp on it. Looking at other reviews, this wasn’t mentioned so it could have just been me being distracted at the wrong times. The pacing is a bit slow for my taste, but like a carrot on a stick, hints were dangled throughout to keep me going. I admit to being thunderstruck over the twists at the end – a perfect setup for the sequel.

With hints of Indiana Jones, a dangerous heist, and easy to love characters, this novel is sure to appeal to fantasy fans. I’ll be watching for the sequel.

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