Review of J. Lawrence’s Inborn

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Book Blub: The Code Sings. The Caller has Returned. The Blood of Ontar Will Rise Again.

Every action has consequences. Some change everything for the good. Others can get you killed. The worst kind can get people you love killed instead.

Thaniel never meant to hurt anyone. But he wasn’t the type to do nothing while the innocent got hurt. So when he saw the terror in his girl’s eyes and a soldier chasing her, he couldn’t just stand there.

Thaniel wasn’t looking for enemies. As a slave, he wasn’t trying to attract the attention of the Ontar either. He definitely never meant to awaken any kind of lurking Inborn magic. Especially not the kind that can be used to Call monsters down out of the sky.

But he did…

As the whirlwind of consequence gains intensity and the people he loves the most are swept into the tumult, it’s up to Thaniel to find a way to save his loved ones. Join Thaniel and friends as he discovers that monsters are not just born…

Sometimes, they are Inborn.

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: Five Stars – Highly Recommended

Similar Authors: Brent Weeks, Trudi Canavan

Review: The book blurb sold me on this book immediately, and I am so happy that I picked up a copy for my kindle. The characters are endearing and brave. The plot line is fantastic, and I’ve already picked up the sequel. I have to know what happens!

There are several points of view in this book and each one has a unique voice. There are characters that I adored, characters that I abhorred, and characters that I hope to get to know better in the next book. The central character, Thaniel, is your textbook good guy. You root for him pretty much from the moment you start into his point of view. His friends show you so much more about the character than just his thoughts and actions, which is always something I love in books. Thaniel’s love interest, Elycia, is a complicated character, but one that won me over in the end. There are several delightfully written strong female characters in this book, and Elycia is definitely one of them. The interplay between an older mage character and his guard is just incredible. J. Lawrence writes friendship very well, so well, in fact, that there of moments of heartbreak in this story that will catch you by surprise.

The plot is a bit of a curve ball, which is nice. The inborn ability in the main character appears in a moment of crisis as it often does in these coming of age sort of fantasy tales, but the way that it appears is unique. There are multiple factions of power involved in the action, and while I’m pretty sure which one is “good” there is still room for me to be wrong. I love it when I’m really not sure what will happen next. The magic system is well explained and fascinating, as well.

This is definitely a book that I will be recommending to fellow fantasy readers! And now, I’ve got to start reading the next one!

Check it out on amazon at: http://amzn.com/B007YK1YYU

Happy Reading!

Review of Pauline M. Ross’s The Fire Mages

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Book Blub: Kyra has always been drawn to the magic of spellpages. She is determined to leave her small village far behind and become a scribe, wielding the power of magic through her pen. Halfway through her training, she has a mage as patron and her ambitions are within her grasp. But a simple favour for her sister goes disastrously awry, destroying Kyra’s dreams in an instant.

Devastated, she accepts an offer from a stranger to help her find out what went wrong. The young man sees growing power within Kyra, potentially stronger than spellpages or any living mage. The answers to unlocking that power may lie within the glowing walls of the Imperial City, but its magic is strong and the unwary vanish without trace on its streets. Thirsty for knowledge and desperate to avoid another accident, she feels compelled to risk it.

While she focuses on controlling her abilities, a storm of greed and ambition boils up around her. Kyra is a pawn in the struggle for dominance between unscrupulous factions vying for rule of her country. Trusting the wrong side could get her killed–or worse, the potent magic she barely understands could be put to unthinkable evil.

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: Five Stars – Highly Recommended

Similar Authors: Kristen Cashore, Rae Carson, Robin Hobb

Review: I could not put this book down. The pacing was perfect and kept me engaged from beginning to end. The writing style was just as phenomenal as I’ve come to expect from Pauline M. Ross. The main characters were more authentic than I think you usually get in fantasy stories, but just like Robin Hobb, Ross is a master at crafting authentic characters. This story had everything I look for in a fantasy novel with action that kept the pages turning and a main character that I was rooting for from page one.

The main character in this story is strong and independent while also being horribly naïve by expecting others to think in the same pragmatic way that she does. As a lawyer, I whole-heartedly approved of Kyra’s dream of becoming a law scribe. Her natural inclination toward study as well as her continued kindness toward those she left behind in her village (if only on her practice pages) showed a depth of character that kept me wanting to know what would happen next. And her relationships were just fascinating. Her youth and the way in which her relationship with the mage Cal develops were also very well written. I kept waiting for her to figure out what her own reactions meant in terms her feelings, but this is a character bent on her career not her love life. And frankly, I loved that about Kyra.

The descriptions in this book are lovely. I cannot express my love of the writing style strongly enough. The way that the magic system is described is unusual which was a pleasant surprise. I wanted to spend days exploring the library that Ross describes. It sounds like an incredible place to get lost for a while. It also made me want a whole separate book on the Imperial City. There is a wonderful story lurking within those magical walls, and I am almost desperate to read it.

I think anyone looking for a fantasy story with a character driven plot and strong female lead character will love this story. Just writing the review makes me want to read it again.

*I received an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, but I bought it today so that I can share it with friends!

Check it out on amazon at: http://amzn.com/B00QXSSEHE

Happy Reading!

Review of Pauline M. Ross’s The Plains of Kallanash

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Book Blub: Thousands of years after a magical catastrophe reshaped the world and pulled the moons out of alignment, the secret of magic has seemingly been lost. At the centre of the vast, forbidding Plains of Kallanash lies a land ruled by a secretive religion, whose people fight a never-ending war against the barbarians in the wilderness beyond the border.

Amongst the nobility, double marriages are the norm. Junior wife Mia always dreamed of attracting the attention of the dashing lead husband, but never dared to compete against her lively older sister. Hurst has spent ten frustrating years as junior husband, longing to test his skill with a sword in battle, longing for his beloved Mia to turn to him.

The mysterious death of Mia’s sister thrusts the marriage into turmoil. As Mia and Hurst struggle to adjust and find out what happened, they uncover sinister truths about the ruling religion. But the gods are unforgiving; even Mia’s innocent questions carry a terrible punishment. Hurst is prepared to risk everything to save her, even if it means taking up his sword against the barbarians, his own people, and the gods themselves.

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: Three and a half Stars – Recommended

Similar Authors: Kristen Cashore, Rae Carson

Review: I’ve never had such a hard time deciding on a rating for a book. On the one hand, this was unusual and unexpected and the writing style is phenomenal. But on the other hand, I just couldn’t get past my dislike for the main character. I’m giving this novel three and half stars (I’ll round up on amazon and goodreads) mostly for the main plot line and the writing style. I think anyone looking for an unusual fantasy novel with fantastic twists and turns will be pleased with this book.

I loved the writing style. The depth of the description was balanced so well with the action and dialogue that it was a wonderful read for this English Major. The word choice was at times poetic leaving me heartbroken with the beauty of the description. For the writing style alone, I am so glad that I read this book.

The main character starts out mousy and painfully naïve. There is a turning point for Mia that comes after she has lost everything, and I just couldn’t believe how far from the docile introductory character she comes. At the end of the book, I just couldn’t get myself to like her. Her romantic choices seemed completely unrealistic and were frankly just not something that I was interested in reading. This is, of course, a very personal reaction to the character. But that’s the wonderful thing about books, right? Opening the same pages reveals such a different journey for each reader.

The main plot line is surprising. This isn’t your typical Tolkien style fantasy. Yes, there are journeys and governments to overthrow, but there is also an intense sort of personal journey for Mia and Hurst. The author uses character development more than action to drive the story forward.

So while I may not have cared for Mia personally, I would still recommend this book to anyone looking for something different with a stunning writing style.

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

Happy Reading!

 

Review of Jeff Wheeler’s The Wretched of Muirwood

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Book Blub: In the ancient and mystical land of Muirwood, Lia has known only a life of servitude. Labeled a “wretched,” an outcast unwanted and unworthy of respect, Lia is forbidden to realize her dream to read or write. All but doomed, her days are spent toiling away as a kitchen slave under the charge of the Aldermaston, the Abbey’s watchful overseer. But when an injured squire named Colvin is abandoned at the kitchen’s doorstep, an opportunity arises. The nefarious Sheriff Almaguer soon starts a manhunt for Colvin, and Lia conspires to hide Colvin and change her fate. In the midst of a land torn by a treacherous war between a ruthless king and a rebel army, Lia finds herself on an ominous journey that will push her to wonder if her own hidden magic is enough to set things right. At once captivating, mysterious, and magic-infused, The Wretched of Muirwood takes the classic fantasy adventure and paints it with a story instantly epic, and yet, all its own.

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: Three Stars – Recommended

Similar Authors: Terry Goodkind, Brandon Sanderson, Kristen Britain

Review: This story centers on what I would consider your more typical orphan character in the fantasy genre. There are hints that she might be more than she seems which is also pretty standard, but what I enjoyed about this character is that she’s up front about her dreams and her selfish desires. This wasn’t a story about a young orphan looking to sacrifice herself for God and country, but rather about a thirteen-year-old girl driven to improve her lot in life. Her dream of learning to read is one that is near and dear to my heart, so I whole-heartedly approved of her priorities from page one.

The side characters were not great, and for the most part there was very little character development outside of the main character. That said, I enjoyed the interplay between the main character, Lia, and her friends. Her general attitude toward the others seemed authentic for a thirteen year old.

The magic system was interesting. The idea of a living magic source that guides its users is not exactly ground breaking, but it was curious the way that it unfolded for Lia as it paralleled the role of faith in other fantasy novels. Rather than call it faith, though, it is dealt with as the absence of doubt, which was a telling choice for the author. I’m hoping we will see more of the actual system as opposed to the dogma in the next books.

The action in this story kept me reading, and once it really got going I found myself needing to know what would happen next. Quick page turning is the main thing I’m looking for when I read this kind of fantasy. Yes, I figured out the plot pretty early on, but it didn’t detract from the action to the point that I didn’t want to finish the book. With a quick pace and an interesting main character, I was pretty happy with this book. I will definitely be adding the sequels to my TBR pile.

http://amzn.com/B008EYUJDW

Happy Reading!

Review of Joseph Lallo’s The Book of Deacon

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Book Blurb: Myranda is a young woman more interested in staying alive than being a hero. Orphaned by a continent-spanning war that has gone on for decades too long and shunned for failing to support it, she has been on the move since she was only a child. One can hardly blame her when she thinks that the chance discovery of a fallen soldier’s priceless cargo is the moment that will change her life. No one could predict just how great that change would be. It will lead her through an adventure of rebels and generals, of wizards and warriors, and of beasts both noble and monstrous. Each step of the way will take her closer to the truth of her potential, of the war, and of the fate of her world.

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Rating: Five Stars – Highly Recommended

Similar Authors: Terry Brooks, David Eddings

Review: When I picked up this book for free on the kindle, I was mainly just hoping for a quick epic fantasy read. I was looking for a strong female lead with compelling side characters. I was also hoping for a magic system that kept me interested and a world built to spark the imagination. This book easily delivered on all of that. On a second read (after what looks like a good edit on the author’s part), I have to say that I still liked it enough to give it five stars.

I’m not trying to say that this book is perfect. There are times where the dialogue didn’t work so well and others where the main character was a little too good at magic considering her background. But overall, I was tapping the next page button until I ran out of pages and had to immediately get the sequel.

Myranda was an interesting character. She is an orphan as so many epic fantasy protagonists tend to be, but that wasn’t her defining characteristic. Her personal beliefs and her willingness to suffer for them sets her apart from other protagonists, and you watch as that strength of conviction helps her navigate the journey she finds herself on. Her interaction with others pulls you in to her story, and I did end up feeling her struggle and wanting her to succeed.

The side characters were great. I enjoyed the gray nature of the malthrope (half man/half fox) character whose loyalties are a perpetual mystery. You can see the effect of his time with Myranda as the character develops throughout the book. Myranda’s dragon, Myn, really saved this book in some places. The relationship between Myranda and her dragon is fantastically written. Deacon is also a wonderful character. You really feel for him quickly, and it helps the slower paced period of Myranda’s training.

This book was a grand adventure, and I’m glad I gave it a chance.

http://amzn.com/B0036FTF4S

Review of Robin Hobb’s Fool’s Assassin

 

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Book Blurb: FitzChivalry—royal bastard and former king’s assassin—has left his life of intrigue behind. As far as the rest of the world knows, FitzChivalry Farseer is dead and buried. Masquerading as Tom Badgerlock, Fitz is now married to his childhood sweetheart, Molly, and leading the quiet life of a country squire.

Though Fitz is haunted by the disappearance of the Fool, who did so much to shape Fitz into the man he has become, such private hurts are put aside in the business of daily life, at least until the appearance of menacing, pale-skinned strangers casts a sinister shadow over Fitz’s past . . . and his future.

Now, to protect his new life, the former assassin must once again take up his old one. . . .

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Rating: Four Stars – would recommend

Similar Authors: Patrick Rothfuss, Brent Weeks

Review: Let me start by saying that I loved the Farseer Trilogy. The way that Robin Hobb developed Fitz in those books was so authentic, so heartbreaking. And her character development is no less stunning in Fool’s Assassin, but I think that’s what most of this book is centered on. Hobb introduces a new character, but I won’t divulge who it is since she’s a plot twist. This new character is given her own POV and Hobb puts a painstaking amount of this novel toward making readers care for this character. Since at least half of the novel leaves Fitz’s voice and gives us this new character instead, you know from the beginning that she’s going to be central to this new trilogy. But, I’ll leave that thought there. (As River Song would say, “Spoilers!”)

I had a hard time deciding how to rate this book. On the one hand, I love character-driven stories, particularly where there is a strong female character coming into her own. And I got that here. The voice of the new character is fascinating and I was pulled into her narrative on the first page. Middle-aged Fitz was also engaging and his troubles were so very real as Hobb lured you into his daily life. But on the other hand, I need action and adventure. The action in this book didn’t really pick up until the last fourth of it, and while I enjoyed the beautiful writing style and character development, I think I needed more of the Catalyst in this book. Not much, but a little more than family squabbles to move the pace along.

My need for a little more action aside, I am enthralled with this new trilogy and I am so happy to have reckless Fitz back on my shelf. If the cliffhanger ending is any indication, the sequel to this book should be action packed. I can’t wait!

 

Amazon link: http://amzn.com/B00HBQUF8S

Review of S. Nathan Falcon’s Eye

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Book Blurb: The queen of Aundour is assassinated. The Falcon’s Eye, a talisman of great power, is sealed within the infant heir to the throne, who is exiled for her own safety.

Sixteen years later, land pirate Ava is rescued from execution by a stranger who reveals that she’s being hunted for more than her crimes. Aundour’s sworn enemy seeks the amulet hidden beneath her birthmark, and the only place where she will be safe is with her real father, the king who sent her away.

A dormant power now awakens within her, a destructive force too strong for an untrained mind to handle. But Ava never asked for magic, wealth, or even a father. All she wants is to escape the lords and liars trying to control her. When the web of evil closes in, and Aundour’s fate hangs by a thread, Ava must make a choice: her need for freedom, or the kingdom doomed to fall without her?

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Rating: Five Stars – highly recommended

Similar Authors: Brandon Sanderson, Mercedes Lackey, Robin Hobb

Review: I had a hard time putting this story down once I started reading it. I generally love an epic fantasy plot with a strong female lead character, and I found that here with Ava. She was loyal to a fault and determined to decide her own future never mind the various men around her who might be planning otherwise. She wasn’t a perfect character, but she felt authentic to me for someone who had survived everything we learn about her early years. And I definitely felt for her as she navigated the various plot twists in this book.

The setting was beautifully written. There were moments where I had to set the book aside and just imagine what was happening because S. Nathan did such a fantastic job of creating a 3D image of Ava’s world.

The prologue pulled me in and kept me thinking throughout the novel that things might not be as they seem. I wasn’t sure how it would end either which is always a great feeling as you journey with a character.

The novel is set up for a sequel, so I am anxiously awaiting the next installment of Ava’s story. I think if this first novel is any indication, S. Nathan is just going to keep getting better. I was in need of a new female epic fantasy author, and I found one!

 

Amazon Link: http://amzn.com/B00NACF3ZW

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23277659-the-falcon-s-eye

 

Happy Reading!