The End of Dreams (The Gifted and the Cursed book #3) by Marcus Lee- Storytellers on Tour

As Daleth the Witch-King and his horde ready themselves for the final battle, a small alliance prepares for a desperate last stand.
However, the alliance is weak and fractured, led by a king interested only in retaining his wealth and a lord commander consumed by his thirst for revenge. With a seemingly unbeatable army before them, invisible foes amongst them, and broken hearts between them, the alliance appears destined to fall.
Yet in these dark times, her light almost extinguished, a peasant huntress is soon to be queen. But if she can find what was lost, she might prove to be more powerful than two kings combined.
This war will bring about the end of dreams, but for whom, the gods have yet to decide.

Thank you to Storytellers on Tour for giving me the opportunity to read and review The End of Dreams. This book is available now. Not only that, the first book, Kings and Daemons, is currently free on Amazon Kindle (starting March third and ending on the seventh).

I am excited to be finishing what has been an awesome series. I’m also a little sad because, well, it’s ending. The Gifted and the Cursed series has been excellent from the start. And let me say, it ends brilliantly.

The End of Dreams starts pretty much right where Tristan’s Folly ended, and the reader is dropped smack into the middle of it. Our main players have been scattered to the wind, which can be a risky move, but worked perfectly here. It allowed the plot to grow and encompass everyone in ways that were both unexpected and fascinating. It also created a balance between physical battles and those of the mind.

One of the (many) things that I have appreciated about this series has been its tone. It is grim and dark, but this has always been offset by a layer of hope. This continued in The End of Dreams. Despite the challenges the characters faced, some which felt pretty insurmountable, they keep on going. That being said, the effects that things have had on the characters is made evident, with each of them handling it differently. Some of them found strength they didn’t know they had. Some found ways to cope that weren’t necessarily very smart. Each choice was fascinating and made perfect sense to the character’s personality. And that’s the thing. These characters were worth hoping for and being invested in. They were three-dimensional and unique.

Sometimes the final book in a series can seem small because everything is shrinking to a final confrontation. Not so with The End of Dreams. The world continued to grow and develop, as new characters and cultures were introduced. It made the stakes seem even more important. The book continued to highlight how things would effect everyone, not just the main characters.

The pacing was fantastic, with moments of character interactions liberally interspersed with fight scenes. And the fight scenes! They were raw and gritty, exactly what I love to see in a fantasy book. The tension built up to a crescendo, exploding at exactly the right moment. The ending came rushing up and I was left astounded and incredibly impressed. It finished perfectly. I am left feeling a little sad that it has ended, but that’s the mark of a great book: that it can leave a reader a little bereft when the adventure ends. I hope to see much more from author Marcus Lee in the future.

In the meantime, I highly suggest picking this series up. Be sure to click on Storytellers on Tour to read other reviews for The End of Dreams.

About the author:

Writing hasn’t always been a serious hobby for me … but it has always been there, lurking in the shadows, serving me well when called upon.

As I look back over the years, I realise I was guilty of writing many short stories, as well as poetry, and I’d like to think, that even if they were never intended to be published, they were nonetheless warmly received by the intended recipients.

Then in 2019, I was inspired to write not just a short story, or poetry, but a book. Then, suddenly, one book turned into a trilogy and a labour of love, and it was a love I wanted to share with the world.

So, here we are. The pandemic that put my career in sport on hold also gave me the opportunity to lavish time on my alternative hobby, or if demand dictates my new career.

However, only you, the reader, will decide whether this trilogy, which is still a work in progress, will be the first of many. I genuinely hope so.

Who knows, now these creatives juices are flowing, I might just keep on writing anyway.

—–

Epic fantasy has been my favourite genre since I first read The Odyssey and The Illiad as a seven-year-old. Now it’s my turn to see if I can bring another world to life in the imagination of others.

Website: https://www.marcusleebooks.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarcusLeebooks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Marcusleebooks

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1361488.Marcus_Lee

Newsletter: https://www.marcusleebooks.com/contact

The Ventifact Colossus by Dorian Hart- Storytellers on Tour

Book Blurb:
Banished to an otherworldly prison for centuries, the monstrous Emperor Naradawk is about to break free and wreak havoc upon the world of Spira. The archmage Abernathy can no longer keep the monster at bay, and has summoned a collection of would-be heroes to help set things right.

Surely he made a mistake. These *can’t* be the right people.

Dranko is priest-turned-pickpocket, expelled from his church for his antics. Kibilhathur is a painfully shy craftsman who speaks to stones. Aravia is a wizard’s apprentice whose intellect is eclipsed only by her arrogance. Ernest is a terrified baker’s son. Morningstar is a priestess forbidden from daylight. Tor is a young nobleman with attention issues. Ysabel is an elderly farm woman. Grey Wolf is a hard-bitten mercenary.

None of them are qualified to save the world, but they’ll have to do. Even Abernathy himself seems uncertain as to why he chose them.

What starts with a simple scouting mission soon spirals into something more far-reaching and sinister. The heroes will contest with dream warriors, evil cultists, sentient gemstones, and a devious yet infuriatingly polite gentleman with a perfect mustache, on their way to a desperate encounter with the unstoppable: The Ventifact Colossus.

The Ventifact Colossus is Book One of the Heroes of Spira.

My Review:

Thank you to the author for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. Also, thank you to Storytellers on Tour for allowing me to join this tour. Books one through three of the Heroes of Spira series are available now, with book four, The Infinite Tower, coming out on April 30th.

One of the things I love about fantasy is that you can take a commonality – like a group of unlikely heroes – and make it something new and different. In The Ventifact Colossus, author Dorian Hart created a world that is full of adventure and heart. Brace yourselves, folks: this is going to be a rave.

Where should I start? First of all, the characters were fabulous. The book opens with Dranko, a priest-turned-thief who just happens to also be part human, part goblin. He’s bristly, but a good guy underneath a tough exterior. You can tell he’s been kicked around by life a bit. He finds himself with an unexpected new employer: a wizard who has gathered a ragtag group of possible-heroes. Dranko ends up traveling with several others, each with their own personality and struggles, in an attempt to prevent a very bad thing (no spoilers from me). However, as much as I loved the storyline, it was the well-written characters that won me over.

There is a three-way tie for my favorite characters. Yes, I know that’s a bit ridiculous, but I can’t narrow it down more than that. I thought Dranko was fascinating and had hidden depth. Every time I thought I figured him out, a new facet of his personality would be revealed. I also loved the kindly older woman, Mrs. Horn. She was so sweet, but had a steel backbone. She wasn’t a fighter, like some of the others, nor was she a healer, but her role was vital to the group nonetheless. And Ernie! Oh, how I loved that character! He was a jumble of low self-esteem and a huge heart. Watching his character grow and evolve was so much fun!

I love how interconnected everything was. One thing would have ramifications for others that I never saw coming. It was never done just for convenience though, and the world never felt small. On the contrary, the world was vast and felt Tolkien-esqe (ish?) in that I knew there were things left undiscovered and yet to be experienced. I’ve continued on in the series, and let me just say: the world continues to be large and intriguing.

Perhaps my favorite thing about The Ventifact Colossus is its underlying theme of hope and the goodness of people. Don’t get me wrong: the stakes are high, and the author definitely loves making the reader emotional (I’m still salty about a particular scene), but the pages didn’t scream, “Doooommmm!” at me every time I opened the book.

This is the sort of book that reminds me why fantasy is my favorite genre. Come for the adventure, stay for the amazing characters. I highly recommend this book, and the series continues to be fantastic.

Find more great reviews for The Ventifact Colossus on Storytellers on Tour!

About the author:

Dorian Hart is the author of the Heroes of Spira epic fantasy series, which currently includes The Ventifact Colossus, The Crosser’s Maze, and The Greatwood Portal. The fourth book, The Infinite Tower, should be out in February or March of 2021.

In a bygone century, Dorian graduated from Wesleyan University with a degree in creative writing. This led circuitously to a 20-year career as a video game designer, where he contributed to many award-winning titles including Thief, System Shock, System Shock 2, and BioShock.

Now he writes books in his Boston-area study, serves as the stay-at-home dad for his two teenage daughters, and happily allows his wife to drag him off on various wilderness adventures. He also spends time torturing his piano, playing the sport of pickleball, losing at board games, making terrible dad jokes, and trembling beneath the shadow of his towering TBR.

Website: https://dorianhart.com/the-heroes-of-spira/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DorianHart

BBNYA Book Tour: Specter by Katie Jane Gallagher

Horror aficionado Lanie Adams should be thrilled when two eighties-era ghosts materialize in her bedroom. Yet after a fainting incident unbecoming of a horror nerd, she would rather her haunting just go away—the ghosts’ waterlogged voices and ice-cold auras are more terrifying than any movie. Enlisting the help of Ryan, an entirely-too-cute stoner, she makes it her mission to put the spirits stalking her to rest.

Some sleuthing reveals that their sleepy Connecticut town is host to a shadowy, decades-old conspiracy. If Lanie wants to say a final goodbye to her ghosts, she’ll need to keep digging. But it’s important to tread carefully. The culprit is still in town—and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried. (taken from Amazon)

I was fortunate to be a panelist for the 2020 BBNYA competition organized by @The WriteReads tour team. As always, all opinions are honest, and my own.

BBYNA is a yearly competition that highlights the many talented indie authors. Books are read and scored by book bloggers from all over the world.

If you are an author and wish to learn more about the 2021 BBNYA Competition, you can visit the official website at (bbnya.com) or the Twitter account, @BBNYA_ Official. If you would like to enter the competition, you can find the BBNYA 2021 Author sign-up form here. Please make sure to read the terms and conditions first.

If you are a book blogger or reviewer, you can apply to be a part of BBNYA 2021 by filling out this form (also, remember to read the terms and conditions).

BBNYA is brought to you in association with the Folio Society , (which has the most beautiful books I’ve ever drooled over), and the book blogger group The Write Reads.

Equal parts mystery and ghost story, Specter kept me engaged from start to finish. It follows teen horror-lover Lanie as she tries to unravel the secret behind her new…guests. Lanie was a lot of fun. I can even forgive her for thinking of 80s clothing as “old” (my poor, ancient, arthritic heart was a little broken at that part). She’s smart, but obviously in way over her head. I love it when a character realizes just how far out of their depth they actually are. She never gives up, though.

Her sort-of boyfriend, Ryan, annoyed me. That’s a good thing, though. It meant he was well-developed enough to elicit a gut reaction from me, even though my gut reaction was dislike. He added a lot to the storyline and served to keep the book on track toward what was a very surprising climax.

There is a little detail that I have to point out because it was just so great: our teen sleuths didn’t get lucky and stumble upon the answer right away. They had to work for it. Some of what they discovered ending up being useful in and unexpected way, or even not all that important. They had to sift through what they learned to find what was pertinent. I loved that. It made the answer a big payoff.

There were all kinds of surprises! The ending made perfect sense, but it was definitely not where I thought the book was going, which was pretty darn cool. The climax ratcheted things up to a breakneck pace. This was a fun read, one that I recommend to readers of YA ghost stories who like great characters along with their spooks.

The Part About the Dragon was (Mostly) True by Sean Gibson- Storytellers on Tour

Sure, you think you know the story of the fearsome dragon, Dragonia. How it terrorized the village of Skendrick until a brave band of heroes answered the noble villagers’ call for aid. How nothing could stop those courageous souls from facing down the dragon. How they emerged victorious and laden with treasure.
But, even in a world filled with epic adventures and tales of derring-do, where dragons, goblins, and unlicensed prestidigitators run amok, legendary heroes don’t always know what they’re doing. Sometimes they’re clueless. Sometimes beleaguered townsfolk are more halpess than helpless. And orcs? They’re not always assholes, and sometimes they don’t actually want to eat your children.

Heloise the Bard, Erithea’s most renowned storyteller (at least, to hear her tell it), is here to set the record straight. See, it turns out adventuring isn’t easy, and true heroism is as rare as an articulate villager.

Having spent decades propagating this particular myth (which, incidentally, she wrote), she’s finally able to tell the real story- for which she just so happened to have a front row seat.
Welcome to Erithea. I hope you brought a change of undergarments-things are going to get messy.


I’m so grateful to Storytellers on Tour for the opportunity to be able to read and review this book! This is available for purchase now.

Witty and snarktastic, The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True is a highly entertaining journey through the lighter side of fantasy. Before I get into the nitty or the gritty, I have to just point out how cool it is to have a bard in a main role. Now (rolls up sleeves): let’s move on to the main event, shall we?

The story gets a kick in the pants when the people (I’ll leave the argument of villagers vs. citizens firmly between the pages) of Skendrick hire a group of heroes to divest them of their dragon problem. Heloise the Bard (…”if not the most well-known bard in Erithea (yet), arguably the most talented, and unarguably the cleverest”) gets a front row seat to what will surely be the stuff of legend. Let’s just say, it’s the stuff of…something.

Instead of glorious heroes, we get a motley collection of “what the crud is this?” characters, the sort that are lovable but just so bad at life. If I had to pick a favorite, it would have to be the oversized, cranky ,talking rat. I was also a huge fan of Heloise herself, of course. I loved the random blathering tangents that she would go on.

While the humor felt a little forced from time to time, there were enough laugh-out-loud moments to place this book in the “hilarious” category. The not-so-subtle knocking of common fantasy tropes were a lot of fun to read, and the characters cracked me up. The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True will be perfect for anyone who needs a good laugh, and isn’t that pretty much everyone?

Check out all the wonderful reviews over at Storytellers on Tour.

Venators: Legends Rise by Devri Walls- Write Reads Blog Tour

The path will be forged in sweat and blood.
Rune, Grey, the shape-shifter Beltran, and willful vampire, Verida, set out to rescue their friend and mentor, Tate, from the gladiator games. But first they must navigate the perils of Eon and its warring factions. Each of this band of four carries with them a secret that threatens to tear their group apart from within. Rune now bears the mark of the promise she made to save Grey’s life – a nixie bubble lodged in her arm that could call her away to do their bidding or spell her death.
Even as their loyalty to their cause and to one another faces its greatest test, Rune’s twin brother Ryker is forging an alliance with their mortal enemy, the powerful sorceress Zio, who has plans of her own for the Venators and Eon.
Hearts will be bared, secrets unveiled, and relationships made and destroyed in this stunning new installment of the Venators series.

Thank you to The Write Reads for providing me with this book and the opportunity to join in on this book tour!

For those who have been taking notes, I’ve found this series to be a lot of fun thus far. These books have been full of action and intrigue, and packed with more fantastical creatures than I usually find in one fantasy world. Venators: Legends Rise carries on in this enjoyable vein and is a perfect continuation of the story.

Wow, no one knows how to get themselves into a mess quite like the characters in this story. They can’t seem to catch a break and I love it. I really enjoyed Grey in particular, although I think most of the characters are fun to read (Rune kind of annoys me, I will admit). This book focuses quite a bit more on getting to really understand what makes each of them tick, although there is no shortage of action. There isn’t always a ton of character growth in a series such as this, so I am incredibly impressed by the amount of development each character has.

The direction this particular book went in was a blast. As with the previous books, I quite liked the political maneuvering and the machinations that were half-hidden out of sight. I think there is a lot that is yet to be revealed and I’m curious where certain characters will go in future books (no spoilers here).

This is a fast read, and an incredibly entertaining one. Pick this series up if you enjoy creative worlds filled with fantastical creatures, strong character development, and plenty of action.

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

The SHIP of SHADOWS_final

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!

Venators: Promises Forged- The Write Reads Blog Tour

Venators Promises Forged

It has been mere days in the world of Eon, where Rune Jenkins, her twin brother Ryker, and their friend Grey have been trapped, fighting for their lives. After discovering the truth of their ancestry, the three are far from home, and far from anything resembling their mundane lives of the past.

While Ryker is still held captive by the eerily beautiful Zio and her goblins, Grey falls into the clutches of Feena, the Fae queen. She begins to drain his soul bit by bit to feed her dark underground garden, and Grey has no hope of escaping on his own.

It is now up to Rune to save Grey, as his precious time slips away inexorably. But the Council has denied her permission to embark on a rescue mission, until she can harness her Venator gifts and prove herself capable of venturing into the Fae queen’s territory. As Rune discovers that promises in Eon are forged with life-or-death consequences, she realizes that she must act quickly, or else be swallowed and Grey along with her by the dangers of Eon. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to the author and Dave at the Write Reads for a copy of this book and for including me in the blog tour. This book is available now.

This book is the sequel to Venators: Magic Unleashed. I’ve done my absolute best to keep this review spoiler-free.

This book is full of action, a sweeping fantasy world, and a surprising amount of character development. The author continues to make her world bigger, and more detailed as the series continues on. I’m used to seeing vampires and werewolves or dragons and warriors or fey creatures in a fantasy book: this series has all of them, and more. Author Devri Walls manages to make this enormous world unfold naturally. She has different cultures, mythologies, and histories all fully formed. It’s pretty cool.

The characters were a little confusing at times. Rune was often fun (and I can relate to getting hangry), but her relationship with Grey was just…odd. I couldn’t get a handle on Grey, but he was going through a lot emotionally, so maybe that’s why. The side characters were all interesting, especially Beltran.

I found this book to be enjoyable. If you like fast-moving fantasy with a slight hint of romance (slight enough that this romance-hating reader wasn’t annoyed), then this series is for you.

Have you read this? What did you think?

 

Venators: Magic Unleashed by Devri Walls- Write Reads Blog Tour

The dark unknown beckons.
Rune Jenkins has a long-standing infatuation with anything from the supernatural world, and she’s trying to hide it. If she doesn’t, she angers her reckless twin brother Ryker, and starts feeling like her own sanity is slipping. But the closer she gets to Grey Malteer – an old friend who waves his fascination with fantasy like a flag – the harder it becomes to stifle her own interest. The supernatural suddenly invades their reality when other-worldly creatures come hunting for the three college students. With help from a mysterious savior Rune and Grey escape, but must follow Ryker’s abductors into an alternate dimension, Eon, and discover their true identities. They are Venators, descendants of genetically enhanced protectors and sentries between Eon and Earth. In this world of fae, vampires, werewolves, and wizards, power is abundant and always in flux. Ryker is missing, and Rune and Grey are being set up as pawns in a very dangerous game. The three must find their way through and out of Eon, before it consumes them. (taken from Amazon)

I must say, I was so jazzed to be a part of this book blog tour. I’d heard some great buzz about this book, and was eager to jump in. Venators: Magic Unleashed is a fast-paced book full of action and excitement.

This book follows Grey and Rune, two college students who learn they are in fact venators, enhanced humans with the power to fight all manner of unpleasant creatures- you know, the sort that aren’t supposed to exist. Except they do, which Rune discovers as both she and Grey find themselves in an alternate dimension. They need to somehow rescue Rune’s abducted brother (who, by the way, is a major jerk) and get back to their own world.

One of the interesting things about this book is the sheer variety of fantastical creatures included. There are the more common vampires and werewolves. Then, you get elves, fae, succubi, incubi, wizards, goblins and more. Verida, the sassiest vampire I’ve read in quite a while, was my favorite character. She added spunk and a sense of adventure.

I didn’t really connect all that much with Grey or Rune. Although, there were some things set up that I think will come into play quite well in book two, making them grow and develop into very complex characters.

The book jumps pretty much right into action, with development along the way, as opposed to the dreaded info dump. The action is scattered liberally throughout the story, upping the ante and adding to the excitement.

This was a highly entertaining read. I’m curious to see what happens in book two. Pick this book up and tell me what you think!