The First of Shadows (Riven Realm #1)- The Write Reads on Tour

How do you kill a shadow?

As a raging storm descends on the Blasted Coast, the crippled young rigger, Caleb Rusk, meets a wounded stranger on the open road. Little does he know that the encounter will pull him into a conflict that threatens everything he holds dear—and change the course of his life forever. With help from a hammer-wielding mercenary, a drifter girl with a heritage of magic, and an eccentric sky pirate, Caleb must find a way to escape the clutches of a shape-stealing demon that refuses to die.

Meanwhile, in the capital of Taralius, a string of inexplicable deaths have captured the attention of the Ember Throne. Second Corporal Avendor Tarcoth is tasked with uncovering the truth behind a danger that could threaten the very fabric of the Realm. To assist him, the Queen enlists the aid of the sage, Tiberius Alaran. But the blind old man has secrets of his own—and allegiances that extend beyond the Ember Throne. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to The Write Reads on Tour for allowing me to be a part of this book blog tour. The First of Shadows is available now.

I love that the timing of this book tour just happens to coincide with a month-long celebration of self-published fantasy. The First of Shadows is sitting happily on my list of the best fantasy I’ve read in quite a while and I’ve been on a fantasy kick for the last…always.

Deck Matthews created an excellent fantasy adventure. His characters were all fantastic, each unique and interesting. Caleb was a perfect main character: he wasn’t incredibly fast or strong. He was just in the wrong place at the right time (or the right place at the wrong time).

I loved the magic in this world! There were multiple sorts, but I was particularly impressed by the totems, which are kind of like brands or tattoos that can form into an animal companion. I am probably explaining that horribly, so I’ll just say: it’s very, very cool.

There were so many things that were well done in this novella! There is an air of tension that runs throughout, making each scene a little more heightened. The characters are fully developed and each one contributes something to the story-line. Matthews does everything with purpose and confidence. I was immediately sucked in and happily engrossed.

Since this is a novella, it takes very little time to read. That means everyone should ignore life for a little bit and go read this book. Do it now! I guarantee you’ll enjoy it.

The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar-The Write Reads Blog Tour

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Aleja whiles away her days in her family’s dusty tavern in Seville, dreaming of distant lands and believing in the kind of magic that she’s only ever read about in books. After all, she’s always been told that girls can’t be explorers.

But her life is changed forever when adventure comes for her in the form of a fabled vessel called the Ship of Shadows. Crewed by a band of ruthless women, with cabin walls dripping with secrets, the ship has sailed right out of a legend. And it wants Aleja.

Once on board its shadowy deck, she begins to realize that the sea holds more secrets than she ever could have imagined. The crew are desperately seeking something, and their path will take them through treacherous waters and force them to confront nightmare creatures and pitch-dark magic. It will take all of Aleja’s strength and courage to gain the trust of her fellow pirates-and discover what they are risking everything to find.

                             Thank you to the publisher for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. Thank you also to The Write Reads for including me in this blog tour. This book is available now.

Well, buckle my swash! Wow, this book is fun! Adventure, piracy, and a fair bit of mystery made this an enjoyable romp full of nonstop excitement. I can tell you with absolute surety that all of the excitement surrounding The Ship of Shadows is well deserved.

Aleja is a wonderful main character. She loves books and adventure, and is incredibly smart. While she wishes she fit in more with the other children her age, she never pretends to be someone else. I loved that. When she finds a pirate crew of all females going on the sorts of adventures Aleja thought were reserved only for males, I felt like cheering.

The ship itself is full of mysteries to answer and wonders to discover. The pirates themselves are each a puzzle waiting to be solved. I especially liked Frances, an incorrigible partner-in-crime. Oh-and the ghost. Yes, there’s a resident ghost and it’s fantastic.

The book is full of small details that elevate it above “just” an adventure book (although there’s nothing wrong with that sort of book): there are bits of history thrown in, and travel to exciting (and real) places.  Aleja learns from each crew member, as they all have their own individual strengths.

The main story-line itself is fantastic and there was never a dull moment. This is the sort of book that will capture the imagination of anyone who longs for adventure. While it is meant for the middle grade audience, this would make an excellent read-aloud for slightly younger kids, and it was a blast for me to read as well. I highly suggest picking this one up!

Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall- The Write Reads Ultimate Blog Tour

EYibC4aWoAIlHxyMagic. Sailing. A murderer among heroes.

Gravedigger Volke Savan wants nothing more than to be like his hero, the legendary magical swashbuckler, Gregory Ruma. First he needs to become an arcanist, someone capable of wielding magic, which requires bonding with a mythical creature. And he’ll take anything—a pegasus, a griffin, a ravenous hydra—maybe even a leviathan, like Ruma.So when Volke stumbles across a knightmare, a creature made of shadow and terror, he has no reservations. But the knightmare knows a terrible secret: Ruma is a murderer out to spread corrupted magic throughout their island nation. He’s already killed a population of phoenixes and he intends to kill even more.In order to protect his home, his adopted sister, and the girl he admires from afar, Volke will need to confront his hero, the Master Arcanist Gregory Ruma. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to the author for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. Also, thank you to The Write Reads for allowing me to join the book tour. This book is available now.

Every once in a while a book comes along that reminds me why I love the fantasy genre so much. I’m happy to say, this is one such book. So, brace yourself: I’m about to wax enthusiastic. Let me just roll up my sleeves, crack my knuckles, and…here we go!

As many great stories do, this starts with a youth who wants more. Volke is a gravedigger, but he wants to become an arcanist, leave his small island home, and travel the world. He wants to be a hero. An arcanist is someone who has a magical bind with a fantastical creature which allows the arcanist magical powers that correspond to the creature’s magic.When Volke gets his dream, it doesn’t quite go as planned. It turns out that the person he’s looked up to his entire life might just be a murderer. And Volke needs to stop him.

I found Volke to be an interesting character. On the one hand, I loved his determination and desire to be a hero. On the other, he could throw a rocking pity party. It made him extremely believable and, surprisingly, still likable. I have to say, though, my favorite character was a certain drunk mentor who stole every scene he was in.

One thing I enjoy about the fantasy genre is the opportunity to be creative. There’s no limits to what is allowed when creating a fantasy world, and author Stovall took advantage of that. The world is remarkable. The sheer amount of thought put into the history and customs are astonishing.And the creatures! White harts, phoenixes, harpies, and more! You’d think having such a huge variety of creatures would feel like too much, but it’s quite the opposite. Each has its place and function in the story. I was a huge fan of the scenes involving the white hart in particular because it was such an original way of using that fantastical creature.

The book never lagged, and no character was superfluous. I was able to sit back and enjoy the confidence with which Stovall wrote. I love being able to disappear into a fantasy world for a while!So? Who should read this book? Everyone. Enjoy!

Shami Stovall is a multi-award-winning author of fantasy and science fiction, with several best-selling novels under her belt. Before that, she taught history and criminal law at the college level, and loved every second. When she’s not reading fascinating articles and books about ancient China or the Byzantine Empire, Stovall can be found playing way too many video games, especially RPGs and tactics simulators.

If you want to contact her, you can do so at the following:Website: https//sastovallauthor.com
Twitter: https//twitter.com/GameOverStation/
Facebook: https//www.facebook.com/SAStovall/
Email: s.adelle.s@gmail.com

Catalyst by Tracy Richardson- The Write Reads Blog Tour

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Marcie Horton has a sixth sense. Not in the “I see dead people” way, but . . . well, maybe a little. She feels a sort of knowing about certain things that can’t be explained—an intuition that goes beyond the normal. Then there was that one summer four years ago, when she connected with a long-departed spirit . . . But nothing that incredible has happened to Marcie since. This summer, Marcie is spending time working at Angel Mounds, the archeological dig her mother heads, along with her brother, Eric, and his girlfriend, Renee. The dig is the site of an ancient indigenous civilization, and things immediately shift into the paranormal when Marcie and her teammates meet Lorraine and Zeke. The two mysterious dig assistants reveal their abilities to access the Universal Energy Field with their minds—something Marcie knows only vaguely that her brother has also had experience with. Marcie learns how our planet will disintegrate if action is not taken, and she and her team must decide if they are brave enough to help Lorraine and Zeke in their plan to save Mother Earth, her resources, and her history. It looks like the summer just got a lot more interesting. (taken from Amazon)

As always, a huge thank you to The Write Reads on Tour for allowing me to join in the reading fun. I was provided with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

This book was different. Really, really different. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but this wasn’t it. This is a book written from a place of concern, and full of big ideas. It sent a strong message, never watering it down. It’s not what I expected in a fantasy book, but I respect the author for using this medium to tackle real life issues (well, with an added fantasy bent, of course).

There were some issues with the pacing for me. It felt like things moved too fast in some parts, but really slowly in others. I couldn’t ever feel a rhythm to the story, if that makes sense. Life happens in fits and bursts, but it made to awkward reading at times.

The characters were creative, and I can say with complete honesty that I have never read a book like this.

About the Author
TRACY RICHARDSON wasn’t always a writer, but she was always a reader. Her favorite book
growing up was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. In a weird way that book has even shaped
her life through odd synchronicities. She has a 20200529_213834
degree in biology like Mrs. Murry, and, without
realizing it, she named her children Alex and Katie
after Meg’s parents.
Tracy uses her science background in her writing
through her emphasis on environmental issues,
metaphysics, and science fiction. When she’s not
writing, you’ll find her doing any number of creative
activities — painting furniture, knitting sweaters, or
cooking something. She lives in Indianapolis, and,
in case you’re wondering, yes, she’s been to the
Indianapolis 500.

 

Devil’s Porridge Gang by Colin Garrow- Damp Pebbles Blog Tour

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The Devil's Porridge Gang banner

1969. In a town where nothing happens, a gang of kids uncover a kidnapping plot.

In the days following the excitement of the moon landings, a group of criminals plan to kidnap the son of a Government rocket engineer – but they don’t expect a gang of kids to get in the way…

Sam Todd dreams of adventure and longs for something exciting to happen for him and his friends. When he and the gang try to add a touch of excitement to their lives by stealing empty bottles from a pop factory, they are easily caught. But the consequences lead them back to the factory where they begin to uncover a villainous scheme.

Thank you to Damp Pebbles and the author for providing me with a book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is available for purchase now.

This book was an interesting one to me. It took me a little bit to get into because the dialogue was very different than what I’m used to reading. Once I got the hang of it, however, I really enjoyed this book.

I loved the strong nostalgic feel of this book. I kept thinking of the Hardy Boys throughout. These kids are fun to read, and have more than a hint of danger-seeking. My favorite character was Sam. He was so loyal! He was just a great kid. The book switches points of view, though, so that each character is explored.

This is an entertaining romp, one that would be great for older kids, or adults who like good, nostalgic fun!

A Noble’s Path by I.L Cruz- Book Blog Tour

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Divided loyalties test Inez Garza. The infamous incident at the Academy of Natural Studies has forced her to work for the King’s Men while continuing to serve the hidden market.Supporting Birthright furthers the cause of Magical Return, but the cost may be the fall of the royal house and losing Zavier forever.And the strongest pull of all is her growing and erratic magic, which demands everything and offers only destruction in return.Inez must decide where her loyalties lie—saving Canto or saving herself. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Bosky Flame Press for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book will be available for purchase on March 25th.

I enjoyed the first book in the series, A Smuggler’s Path, and I think this book was even better. It was a natural progression from the first, and felt as if there had been no pause at all. It’s always nice for a series to feel consistent.

Inez is the main character of this book, as she was in the first. She was tenacious and did her best to overcome her fears. At times she felt very naive to me, but that was well- balanced with some of the other characters, who were a bit more wise to the ways of the world. I’m still a big fan of Rowley.

I must say, I loved that Inez had to do what was basically a fantasy book’s equivalent to community service! It was such a fun way to continue the series. I feel that this series’ strength lies in its world building.

As with the first book, I feel that this will appeal to a large age range. I know my sixth grader would love this, and I enjoyed it as well. This book is a delightful foray into the kind of fantasy I loved when I was younger. It’s a fun book, and I’m looking forward to continuing the series.

About the Author

I.L. Cruz decided to make writing her full-time career during the economic downturn in 2008. Since then she’s used her BA in International Relations to sow political intrigue in her fantasy worlds and her MA in history to strive for the perfect prologue. When she’s not engaged in this mad profession she indulges her wanderlust as often as possible, watches too much sci-fi and reads until her eyes cross. She lives in Maryland with her husband, daughter and a sun-seeking supermutt named Dipper.

Find her on Twitter @ILCruzWrites
or her blog, Fairytale Feminista at https://fairytalefeminista.wordpress.com
And her website http://www.booksbyilcruz.com

Dawn of Dreams by Brownwyn Leroux- Blog Tour

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Lost family heirlooms. Sinister mutants. An ancient book hiding legendary secrets. Such mythical things should not exist in the futuristic world of 2073.

Yet, this reality is forced on two strangers. Jaden and Kayla are blissfully unaware their world is about to be invaded. When a relentless, age-old force casts them together, the shocking truth is revealed. They are hunted by the hideous, malevolent monster prowling their community. Worse, it’s invisible to everyone but them.

Forced down a dark and dangerous path, the pair discover their stalker isn’t the only thing they have in common. As they quest for solutions while trying to survive, their unique abilities surface. They team up with other-worldy allies. After deciphering an enchanted tool, they get their first answer. But knowledge comes at a price.

In a world on the verge of destruction, can Jaden and Kayla solve the puzzles and find a way to save it, all while trying to make sense of this inexplicable connection they feel for each other? (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to the author for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. Also, thank you to Emma at http://www.damppebbles.com for including me in this blog tour.

I can honestly say I haven’t read a book like this one before. It has several disparate parts that shouldn’t work together, but somehow they do. Both Jaden and Kayla are able to see a monstrous beast that others can’t. Both of them have to try to figure out what it means, and if they can use it to save their world.

I have to say, I didn’t have a favorite character. I didn’t dislike either main character, but I also didn’t love them. There was a lot of setup, which made parts of the book move more slowly than I expected, but the concept of the book is really interesting. I think that the characters will become more individualized as the series continues.

I’m a big fan of fantasy in general, and I loved that the angst was kept at a minimum, which let the world Bronwyn Leroux created shine through. Her world was a unique blend of both the fantastical and the futuristic. I think the beast itself was my favorite aspect of this book.

Altogether, I recommend this book, but keep in mind that it’s the first in a series and parts of it move rather slowly.


About Bronwyn Leroux:
Born near the famed gold mines of South Africa (where dwarves are sure to prowl), it was the perfect place for Bronwyn to begin her adventures. They took her to another province, her Prince Charming and finally, half a world away to the dark palace of San Francisco. While the majestic Golden Gate Bridge and its Bay views were spectacular, the magical pull of the Colorado Rockies was irresistible. Bronwyn’s family set off to explore yet again. Finding a sanctuary at last, this is Bronwyn’s perfect place to create alternative universes. Here, her mind can roam and explore and she can conjure up fantastical books for young adults.

Follow her at https://bronwynleroux.com or https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBronwynLeroux/
Social Media:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bronwyn_leroux
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorBronwynLeroux/
Website: https://bronwynleroux.com/
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/bronwyn.leroux/
Purchase Links:
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0749CF9R9/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0749CF9R9/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i1
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/dawn-of-dreams
Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dawn-of-dreams-bronwyn-leroux/1126280949?ean=2940154907122

Leroux_Web

 

Secrets of the Great Fire Tree by Justine Laismith- Blog Tour

Today is my spot on the blog tour for Secrets of the Great Fire Tree by Justine Laismith. I’m so excited to talk about this magical little tale, one that is both charming and touching. My thanks go to Olivia at

This book is about a boy named Kai, who is told that his mom will be leaving to work for a family in the city, in order to provide for their family. He will stay in their village with a neighbor, and won’t see his mom for a year. The story follows his choices, and what he’ll do to bring his family together again.

In many ways, this book was very sad. Kai is dealing with many changes, and misses his mother terribly. It’s balanced well, though, and never becomes too much. The caring people in Kai’s village help with that.

Being an American, there were some cultural things that I wouldn’t have understood without the glossary of words, and short explanations that were scattered throughout the book. I found it very interesting, and it’s always cool to learn about the way things are in other places.

The magic is more of the everyday kind than fire-breathing dragons, but it was magical nonetheless. This is a great book for upper elementary aged kids.


 Q and A with author Justine Laismith

– Who are you?

I grew up in Singapore and studied Chemistry in London. After my PhD, I worked in the pharmaceuticals industry. Since then I have also worked in the chemicals and education sectors. I’ve always enjoyed writing. When I was in industry, I wrote scientific papers. While I did write fiction occasionally, it really only took off around the time I returned to Singapore in 2010. Then I entered a local writing competition. As a winner, my children’s book The Magic Mixer was published. It’s a chapter book about two women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.) At that time, I was already in the midst of writing Secrets of the Great Fire Tree. This was the encouragement I needed to keep going.

– When did you want to become an author?

I first wanted to be a writer when I was seven. However at school I never did well in languages or literature. When it came to choosing subjects, I would have had to make the difficult decision of choosing what I liked, or what I was good at. My teacher saved me from this. She had expected me to take the Art/humanity subjects because ‘girls are better at them, and boys are better at Math and Science.’ Right there and then I chose the science options to prove a point. Over the years, even though I pursued a science career, the enjoyment of turning blank pages to words never left me. I continued to write poems and stories as and when they came to me, but they were for my eyes only. I also channeled this into my work and wrote scientific papers on my research. After some years, I took a career break. With a break from science, the logical part of my brain took a back seat and let the creative side of my brain dominate. I started writing in earnest.

-What inspires your work?

My inspiration comes from all around me. I now pay a lot of attention to my surroundings and how it makes me feel. Then I challenge myself to describe it in words. When I watch a movie or show, I don’t just take a seat and enjoy the ride. I think about what makes me root for the characters, or hate them. I also analyse how and why two personalities who started off with nothing in common come together as the story develops. When I’m out and about, I take pictures of nature and buildings. You can check them out on my instagram account (www.instagram.com/justinelaismith). The collection might seem like random lots of pictures, but they help me crystallize my thoughts on the setting in my stories.

-Can you tell us how Secrets of the Great Fire Tree Came About?

I grew up in Singapore, a country proud of its multicultural identity. This exposed me to a plethora of languages and Chinese dialects. I’m also part- Paranakan, which is a unique blend of two cultures: ethnic Chinese who speak and practice Malay customs. To give my heritage its representation, I subtly incorporated these diversities in a story that’s supposed to be set in China. A native Singaporean might spot these ‘anomalies’. Nonetheless, because I wanted to make this story authentically Chinese, I carried out a lot of research. I enjoyed going right back to my roots. Ultimately, the Chinese diaspora’s experience of their culture will be different from the indigenous Chinese. Part of this research included a trip to China, where I made several notes about their lifestyles. I’ve documented them in a series of blog articles (www.justinelaismith.wordpress.com/great-fire-tree/setting).

What are you most excited to share when it comes to Secrets of the Great Fire Tree?

I am most excited about sharing the rural life in China. As I mentioned earlier, I see myself as a third-culture kid, who never really knew her roots. China holds a quarter of the world’s population and consists of over fifty ethnic minorities. Naturally, I cannot tell everything in one story, but I hope I managed to give a flavor of this fascinating culture. 

Devil’s Deal by Tessa Hastjarjanto- The Write Reads Blog Tour


Today is my stop on this blog tour, put together by the awesome Dave at The Write Reads. I’m excited to join other wonderful bookbloggers in discussing Devil’s Deal!

When two angels break their deal with the devil, he comes for the one thing they’re trying to protect.

All 16-year-old Nora wants is to graduate high school and visit her family in Italy. But when two boys transfer to her class, everything changes.

Danny steals her friends, Ben her first kiss.

When Nora finds out the boys are not who they claim to be, she faces a difficult choice.

Will she give her love or her life? (taken from Amazon)

I’ll be honest: I register a zero on the romance scale. It’s just not my thing. I was a bit hesitant to read this book because of it. However, this book seemed like it might have a bit of a Mortal Instruments vibe, and I have a weakness for that series.

I liked the supernatural aspects of this book. The opening, in particular, was very well written and drew me in. It was a very visual scene, which is always an intriguing start. It didn’t go where I expected, based on the opening, but that’s not a bad thing.

I really loved that the book is set in the Netherlands. The last few supernatural fantasy books I’ve read have taken place in the U.S. and it’s always cool to see a change. Nora did confuse me a bit: sometimes she was calm, reasonable, and mature ahead of her years. At other times, I struggled to understand why she was reacting in a certain way. However, both Dan and Ben were interesting characters, and Tessa Hastjarjanto has a very unique writer’s voice.

If you enjoyed TV’s Vampire Diaries, especially the relationship between the three main characters, you definitely need to pick this book up. It’ll be right up your alley.

Rotherweird by Andrew Caldecott- Blog Tour

 

The town of Rotherweird stands alone – there are no guidebooks, despite the fascinating and diverse architectural styles cramming the narrow streets, the avant garde science and offbeat customs. Cast adrift from the rest of England by Elizabeth I, Rotherweird’s independence is subject to one disturbing condition: nobody, but nobody, studies the town or its history.

For beneath the enchanting surface lurks a secret so dark that it must never be rediscovered, still less reused.

But secrets have a way of leaking out.

Two inquisitive outsiders have arrived: Jonah Oblong, to teach modern history at Rotherweird School (nothing local and nothing before 1800), and the sinister billionaire Sir Veronal Slickstone, who has somehow got permission to renovate the town’s long-derelict Manor House.

Slickstone and Oblong, though driven by conflicting motives, both strive to connect past and present, until they and their allies are drawn into a race against time – and each other. The consequences will be lethal and apocalyptic. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Jo Fletcher Books for providing me with a copy of this book, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Rotherweird is a book unlike any other I’ve read. It’s ambitious, vast in its scope, and often left me both puzzled and intrigued. The writing in this book is confident and self-assured. Even when I wasn’t sure exactly where the book was going, it was quite obvious that the author knew precisely what he was doing.

I think both my favorite and least favorite parts of the book are the same thing: the characters. They were wonderfully quirky, from their odd mannerisms to their even odder names. But, there were many that seemed superfluous. I’m a huge fan of large casts of characters, however too many can be a bit confusing at times.

I loved the mix between the historical aspect and the fantastical. It was a wonderful juxtaposition, and it brought out the creative aspects in both. The feel of the book was sometimes reminiscent of Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

This book almost shouldn’t have worked, but it did. I’m planning to continue the series. I’m curious and intrigued.