Soul Swallowers (The Shattered Sea #1) by D. Wallace Peach #TuesdayBookBlog #bookreview #fantasy #NewAdult

When swallowed, some souls gift insights, wisdom, a path to understanding. Others unleash power, proficiency with a sword, and indifference to death. One soul assimilates with ease. But swallow a host of the dead and risk a descent into madness. 

Estranged from his family over the murder of his wife, young Raze Anvrell wields his fists to vent his rage. Then a chance at a new life beckons, and he retreats to the foothills of the Ravenwood, the haunt of unbound ghosts. He and his mentor build a freehold, a life of physical labor and the satisfaction of realizing a dream. They raise horses and whittle by the fire until the old man dies, and Raze swallows his first soul. 

When his brother reaches out, open wounds begin to scar. But the tenuous peace won’t last. While those who rule the Vales yield to the lure of their ambitions, slavers of Ezar roam the countryside, hunting for human chattel. While one man manipulates the law, another heeds the souls of violence howling in his head. 

Raze too listens to his soul’s whispers, and as danger intrudes on his quiet life, he has no choice but to return to his father’s world and join the fight.

This is my first D. Wallace Peach book, but it certainly won’t be my last.

As a regular visitor to her blog, I’m familiar with Peach’s lyrical poetry that carries readers away to unexpected places – and this novel is no different.  The world-building is magnificent, and the premise of people swallowing souls to absorb their characteristics is mesmerizing.  With political maneuvering, power plays and alliances, arranged marriages, slavers – this is a complicated, dangerous world, and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.  Which was hard sometimes, because I wanted to linger over some of the beautiful writing.

This author has a gift with characterization.  From the main characters to those who only survive a short while, all are so well-developed.  I especially enjoyed the children.  As with most tiny humans, their actions and comments are humorous and unfiltered, and I chuckled several times.

Soul Swallowers is an easy 5 stars for me – I finished the second half of the book in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down.  Now to download the sequel!

Sanctuary (Immortal Soulless #2) by Tanith Frost #bookreview #urbanfantasy @TanithFrost

Pushing papers at a werewolf sanctuary is the last assignment Aviva would have wished for. It’s the bottom rung of the career ladder for a vampire, a job that will leave her isolated from most of her kind as she watches over members of a species whose very existence threatens the secrecy of the supernatural world. Her only consolation is the promise of peace and quiet. After all, the werewolves may be troublesome, but they’ve kept their own secrets for a century.

But the situation at the sanctuary is not all it appeared to be when Aviva received her assignment. Age-old tensions between vampires and werewolves come to a head when a human in a nearby village is found brutally murdered and suspicion lands squarely on the sanctuary’s supernatural inhabitants.

When the pack leaders refuse to turn the killer in to face justice, Aviva knows her elders will do anything to keep their world safe from humans, even if it means wiping out the werewolves for good. With the help of a mistrustful female and a relentlessly tempting alpha male, it will be up to Aviva to overcome the instinctive hatred between their species and catch a murderer before the human world takes notice—and before the sanctuary turns into a battleground. – Goodreads.com

As with the first book in this series, the author continues to portray vampires, and now werewolves in an original way.

Aviva knows what’s expected of her from her vampire clan, Maelstrom, but still struggles with unacceptable human traits in her new ‘life’.  The clash between clan expectations and her own values creates ongoing, dangerous conflict and several times I wondered how, or even if, she’d find her way out of predicaments she’d gotten into.  Daniel again maintains a frustrating distance, and has secrets yet to be revealed.  Several new characters are introduced in this book, and one in particular didn’t turn out as I’d expected.

The vampire books I’ve read far outnumber those with werewolves, but I’ve never come across anything like Frost’s interpretation.  Female readers in particular will enjoy this version.

Sanctuary kept me riveted, and I finished the book in two days.  For vamp/werewolf fans who’ve grown weary of repetitive storylines, give the Immortal Soulless Series a try – you won’t be disappointed.

I received a digital copy of this book from the author.

Return to Royalty (A Gexalatian Tale Series #1) by E. Paige Burks #TuesdayBookBlog #Fantasy

Winner of Draft to Dream 2016 in the YA category.

Nyx Estrella is a princess from Gexalatia, a world on the other side of a portal. Unfortunately, she has no idea. Sent to Lucky, Texas, when she was a baby to protect her from the evil King Paraximus, her biggest concerns are grades and seeing her friends. She has no idea that she possesses magical abilities and that her reality is about to become really strange.

Jet Lamia is a war prisoner, sent from Gexalatia by the queen, Liana Estrella, to bring Nyx back home to the kingdom of Ymber. The portal only opens on the winter solstice, so Jet finds himself trapped on Earth, trying to blend in. Fortunately, he has help in the form of the queen’s chosen assistant, Seth Alvar. But playing well with others has never been one of Jet’s talents.

It is a race against the clock to tell Nyx her true identity and try to train her, while also keeping her alive. Nyx and Jet struggle to defeat the assassins sent to kill them both, while trying not to kill each other. Can this duo put their differences aside and return to Gexalatia? – Goodreads.com

I read this book as part of the Indie Eden Book Club run by author Jessica Scott.  If you’re an Indie Author, check out the Facebook page – indie books are all they review and it’s such fun to have online discussions about what we’ve read.

Return to Royalty is an exciting blend of high fantasy, urban fantasy, action, thrills, and a touch of romance and humor – something for everyone!  Intriguing and skilled world-building is gradually revealed without giving the reader an info dump, although the second book looks to include more details about Gexalatia.

The author has created three-dimensional characters who I sometimes wanted to strangle – but that just adds to their complexity.  The relationship between Jet and Nyx ranges from mutual dislike bordering on hatred at times, to the beginnings of, if not exactly friendship, at least a truce.  So refreshing not to have an ‘insta-love’ relationship.

Return to Royalty is well-paced and compelling – I read it in two days – and would appeal to fantasy fans who enjoy magical worlds and a hint of romance.

Into Elurien (Skeleton Key) by Kate Sparkes #TuesdayBookBlog #bookreview @kate_sparkes

Skeleton Key Book Series
One Skeleton Key. Endless Adventures.
https://skeletonkeybookseries.com

When Hazel Walsh discovers a strange key in the attic of the Old Brook Inn, she doesn’t imagine the door it unlocks 29147857will lead anywhere special. Though superstitious, she’s never bought into the local stories of fairies, ghosts, and demons. But when she opens the door, she discovers just how wrong she was.

Hazel is dropped into a world in the midst of a revolution, where monsters have overthrown the humans who once enslaved them. All of the humans, that is, except for Verelle, the cruel sorceress who vanished at the moment of Hazel’s arrival. If Hazel wants any chance of surviving and making it back to her own world, she’ll have to join forces with the amalgus Zinian—horned, winged, and monstrously attractive—to unravel the mystery of Verelle’s disappearance. If they can’t, the fates of two worlds will be at stake. – Goodreads.com

I had such fun reading this book.  Hazel is having a bit of a struggle in her personal life, having to tuck her tail and head back home – a place she couldn’t wait to leave – then finds a skeleton key, opening a door that takes her to another world.  And this author is crazy talented at creating other worlds (The Bound Trilogy).

Hazel’s situation makes it easy to identify with her and I enjoyed how her thoughts occasionally fall out of her mouth before she realizes it, and one moment she’s all awkwardness, the other oozing confidence.  But Auphel had my heart from the beginning – such an endearing and amiable supporting character.  The twist on the monsters being the good guys and humans the evil oppressors made Elurien an intriguing place and I’d love to read more about this world and these characters.

This is an absorbing fairy-tale-ish novella containing action, adventure and, yes, romance – and about finding your place in this world or another.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.