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?

 

My Life in Books Tag

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I saw this fantastic tag on Irresponsible Reader’s blog, which everyone should follow. Conveniently, I have it linked here. I don’t know who the original creator of this tag is: if you do, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due.

Find a book for each of your initials:

W- We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson
We Ride the Storm (The Reborn Empire, #1) by Devin Madson

S- Soulforge by Margaret Weis
The Soulforge (Dragonlance: The Raistlin Chronicles, Book 1 ...

B– To Best the Boys by Mary Weber
Amazon.com: To Best the Boys (9780718080969): Weber, Mary: Books

Count your age along your bookshelf: What book do you land on?

It depends on which of my shelves I start on. It’s either The Seven and Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton, Oddmire: Changeling by William Ritter, The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman, or Story of the World Volume 4 (homeschool curriculum).

A book set in your city/country-

A Gathering of Saints by Robert Lindsey
A Gathering of Saints: Lindsey, Robert: 9781501153112: Amazon.com ...

I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah. I love this fascinating nonfiction about the LDS church, forged religious documents, and other things that are too wild to be made up.

A book that represents a destination that you’d love to travel to-

Dubliners by James Joyce
Dubliners by James Joyce - Kindle edition by Joyce, James ...


A book that’s your favorite Color- 
My favorite colors are dark green and burgundy. I’m having a hard time thinking of a book with both colors on the cover.
The Annotated Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie, Maria Tatar, 9780393066005

Which book do you have the fondest memories of? I don’t have just one. I do remember racing to check out Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges, when I was young. Actually, this cover has close to  my favorite colors in it.
Saint George and the Dragon: Margaret Hodges, Trina Schart Hyman ...

Which book did you have the most difficulty reading? A Child Called It by David Pelzer is the most upsetting and brutal book I’ve ever read.
A Child Called It: One Child's Courage to Survive: Pelzer, Dave ...
Which book on your tbr will give you the most satisfaction to finish? I haven’t made it through E=MC2 by David Bodanis yet. I was struggling to understand it the last time I tried…one of these days I’ll make it through.
E=mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation.: David ...

I’m not tagging anyone in particular, but I’d love to see what other people come up with.

The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso- ARC Review

The Obsidian Tower (Rooks and Ruin, #1) by Melissa Caruso

One woman will either save an entire continent or completely destroy it in a captivating epic fantasy bursting with intrigue and ambition, questioned loyalties, and broken magic.
“Guard the tower, ward the stone. Find your answers writ in bone. Keep your trust through wits or war–nothing must unseal the door.”
Deep within Gloamingard Castle lies a black tower. Sealed by magic, it guards a dangerous secret that has been contained for thousands of years.
As Warden, Ryxander knows the warning passed down through generations: nothing must unreal the Door. But one impetuous decision will leave her with blood on her hands–and unleash a threat that could doom the world to fall to darkness. (taken from Amazon)

                               Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book will be available on June second.

This book was a mixed bag for me. There were things I liked, and other things that just didn’t work. You can’t please everyone all the time, you know? I’ll talk about the good, the not-so-good, and the annoying.

First of all, I liked most of the characters. The main character, Ryxander, confused me with her odd choices (if there’s something actively dangerous going on, maybe save the half-hearted attempts at diplomacy for later?), but the supporting characters were great. I really enjoyed Foxglove and Ardith. They were both so unique in their own ways. Ardith, in particular, was a blast to read. They had a devil-may-care attitude that just might have covered something far deeper. It was an intriguing thought.
The magic system in the book was fascinating. I liked that Ryxander had an incredibly strong power, but it was considered “broken” because it was so dangerous and impossible to control. Seeing how that power affected her negatively, as well as anyone else unfortunate enough to be caught in its path, was really cool.
The idea of a dangerous secret lurking deep within a castle was an interesting one, and the actuality of the secret was really cool. It was not at all what I expected. Where things went from there, though…
I felt like I spent the majority of this book waiting for something to happen, with no payoff. There were so many times where I thought, “Ah! This is it! It was all setup and now I get to see why!,” only to find more exposition, and more reiteration of the same political situation. There’s a possibility that it will all pay off in the second book, but I don’t know if I want to take that chance.
I also could not get a handle on Ryxander. She seemed to be very smart, but only in one aspect. Most of her choices left me scratching my head (metaphorically, of course). I didn’t understand why she prioritized things that were less of an immediate problem, as opposed to serious dangers.

One last thing that rankled at me: the use of the word “chimera” for creatures that were truly anything but. Now, this is a problem with me, not with the book. A chimera as I’ve always read it is a two-headed monster (one is a goat head, the other a lion head) with a snake’s head as the tail. While the chimeras in this book were incredibly creative, I wish they’d been called by any other name. Again, this is just an issue with my weird fantasy hang-ups and in no way affects the quality of the writing.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad book, it just wasn’t for me.

How to Start a Book Club in the Workplace

                                           As “stay-at-home orders” expire, and people slowly start working outside the home again, I figure this would be an excellent time to talk about book clubs. Quill has some fantastic advice on how to start a successful book club at work. So, without further ado:

All of us turn to different hobbies at different times in our lives. But there’s one hobby that many of us share, no matter if you’re into Zumba or if you’re digging into ultramarathons, and that’s reading. Reading starts with us being read to — sometimes even before we can talk — and continues for a lot of us throughout our lives. We often turn to all sorts of different types of reading, be it fiction or non fiction or history or memoir. And one of the great ways to share love of reading and to expose oneself to new types of reading is to start a book club at work.
    Before you begin, send out a survey or ask around to make sure that enough people are interested, and think about how you can create a schedule that’s respectful of work life and the need to balance while also being regular enough that you can carry conversations about the book without people forgetting. Here are more steps to get started.How to start a book club at work
How to start a book club at workInfographic by Quill

 

Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You by Scotto Moore

Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You - Kindle edition by Moore ...

I was home alone on a Saturday night when I experienced the most beautiful piece of music I had ever heard in my life.

Beautiful Remorse is the hot new band on the scene, releasing one track a day for ten days straight. Each track has a mysterious name and a strangely powerful effect on the band’s fans.

A curious music blogger decides to investigate the phenomenon up close by following Beautiful Remorse on tour across Texas and Kansas, realizing along the way that the band’s lead singer, is hiding an incredible, impossible secret. (taken from Amazon)

Holy whoa! This book is weird, disturbing, and so so good! Scotto Moore created a chilling tale that took a commentary on the transformative power of music and dialed it up to eleven (Spinal Tap reference intended).

This book opens on a music blogger, who has just listened to a song by a previously unheard-of band. His reaction to it is above and beyond what is considered normal, and the blogger becomes obsessed in finding out who this band is- and how they’re able to do the things they do. See, the songs are causing things to happen that shouldn’t be possible. Is it a cult? Magic? Mass hysteria?

One of the (many) things I loved about this book was the no-nonsense language. It wasn’t flowery and the focus was on the bizarre happenings and their cause, the language serving as a conduit to the story. I adore beautiful prose in a book, but in this case the “everyday” language was perfect for the story. It allowed the book to move quickly, and added to the feeling of everything spiraling quickly out of control.

The ending was perfect. I won’t say anything about it, for fear of ruining it, but I smirked. I’m sure it wasn’t a pretty sight. It’s the sort of wrap-up that leaves plenty of room for conjecture. I’ll be revisiting this one in my mind often. It’s a memorable book, and one I’m glad I picked up.

Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You has major Chuck Palahniuk vibes. If you’re into that particular brand of weirdness, definitely read this book. You’ll be weirded out, but you won’t be sorry.

*Note: There is suicide, done horror-movie style.

The Garden of Lost Memories by Ruby Hummingbird


The Garden of Lost Memories: A heartbreaking page turner about ...

Just because you feel ordinary doesn’t mean you aren’t extraordinary to someone else.

Sixty-two-year-old Elsie knows what she likes. Custard creams at four o’clock, jigsaw puzzles with a thousand pieces, her ivy-covered, lavender-scented garden.

Ten-year-old Billy would rather spend his Saturdays kicking a ball, or watching TV, or anything really, other than being babysat by his grumpy neighbour Elsie and being force fed custard creams.

If it was up to them, they’d have nothing to do with each other. Unfortunately, you can’t choose who you live next door to.

But there is always more to people than meets the eye…

Elsie doesn’t know that Billy’s afraid to go to school now, or why his mother woke him up in the middle of the night with an urgent shake, bags already packed, ready to flee their home.

Billy doesn’t know that the rusting red tin he finds buried in Elsie’s treasured garden is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode her carefully organised life. And that when he digs it up, he is unearthing a secret that has lain dormant for twenty-eight years…(taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is available now.

This is such a sweet story! It’s one of those books where the characters jump off the page and wander around in your heart. Elsie and Billy both need each other. What starts as a begrudging babysitting blossoms into a beautiful friendship throughout the course of the book. I don’t like the term “all the feels,”   but in this case it’s appropriate: this book made me feel both happy and sad, melancholy and hopeful. I really can’t put my finger on why, but The Garden of Lost Memories reminded me a bit of A Man Called Ove. 

The writing is simple but pretty, which suits the story. The way the characters are developed is nothing short of brilliant. That Elsie’s character is explained perfectly just by sharing her daily routine is pretty amazing.

Billy is a sweetheart. He had a lot of difficulties that he was dealing with, and seeing him warm up to Elsie was heartwarming. I love that they bonded over gardening. It made me wish I could grow…well, anything (I actually managed to kill a cactus once: I’ve got special skills).

This book moves slowly, the way relationships grow. I recommend this to anyone who needs a literary hug.

The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner

The Sisters of the Winter Wood: Rossner, Rena: 9780316483254 ...

In a remote village surrounded by vast forests on the border of Moldova and Ukraine, sisters Liba and Laya have been raised on the honeyed scent of their Mami’s babka and the low rumble of their Tati’s prayers. But when a troupe of mysterious men arrives, Laya falls under their spell – despite their mother’s warning to be wary of strangers. And this is not the only danger lurking in the woods.

As dark forces close in on their village, Liba and Laya discover a family secret passed down through generations. Faced with a magical heritage they never knew existed, the sisters realize the old fairy tales are true…and could save them all. (taken from Amazon)

                                          Admission: I judged a book by its cover. I grabbed this one simply because the cover’s so stinking beautiful. For me, however, the cover was the high point.

Let me hasten to add: I didn’t hate it. It just wasn’t for me. I expected a fairy-tale type of story, pretty with a hint of the mysterious and dark. This book was not it. It’s good for what it is, but since it was nowhere near what I thought I’d be reading, I was underwhelmed.

This story follows two points of view: sisters Liba and Laya. They live near the edge of their Jewish village. Their father is a respected man, but their mother- who is not from the village- is disliked and looked down upon. Liba is a lot like her father, while Laya is her mother in miniature. They’re very different, but obviously love each other. When their parents have to leave on a long journey, it’s up to the two sisters to take care of each other. Things quickly go south, however.

I liked Liba okay, although there wasn’t a ton to her character. Laya annoyed the snot out of me. She was the stereotypical selfish “pretty sister.” I was not a big fan.

The pacing in the book was awkward. Not much happened at all for quite a while. Then there was the dreaded info dump. I’m not sure why none of the information was given throughout the beginning of the book, which would have made it feel much more natural and organic, but having a ton of information just kind of plunked there was a little disconcerting.  After the info dump, the book picked up and…became a romance. Oh, bother.

For those who haven’t been following my blog for long: I don’t read romance. I can handle romances in books, but not as the main plot point. It’s just not my thing. Needless to say, this new development in The Sisters of the Wild Wood was not for me. That’s not to fault the book, it’s just not my bag. However, for those who like romance, this might be a really enjoyable switch-up.

I’m bummed that I can’t write a glowing review for this one. Ultimately, this book wasn’t my thing. However, if you like romance with a small hint of fantasy, this might be for you.

We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson

We Ride the Storm (The Reborn Empire, #1)

In the midst of a burgeoning war, a warrior, an assassin, and a princess chase their own ambitions — no matter the cost — in Devin Madson’s visceral, emotionally charged debut fantasy novel.
War built the Kisian Empire. War will tear it down.
Seventeen years after rebels stormed the streets, factions divide Kisia. Only the firm hand of the god-emperor holds the empire together. But when a shocking betrayal destroys a tense alliance with neighboring Chiltae, all that has been won comes crashing down.
In Kisia, Princess Miko Ts’ai is a prisoner in her own castle. She dreams of claiming her empire, but the path to power could rip it, and her family, asunder.
In Chiltae, assassin Cassandra Marius is plagued by the voices of the dead. Desperate, she accepts a contract that promises to reward her with a cure if she helps an empire fall.
And on the border between nations, Captain Rah e’Torin and his warriors are exiles forced to fight in a foreign war or die.
As an empire dies, three warriors will rise. They will have to ride the storm or drown in its blood.
The Reborn EmpireWe Ride the Storm (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Orbit Books and Angela Man for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book will be available for purchase on June 23rd.

The plot twists in this book has plot twists! Full of cut-throat characters, intrigues aplenty, and many a gory scene, We Ride the Storm is an excellent fantasy, one that deserves to be mentioned among the ‘greats’ of the genre.

The world-building was excellent. Each character was so different and the multiple perspectives allowed for a rich tapestry of setting development. While told from the points of view of the three main characters, each character is told in the first person. That would normally have the potential to be confusing. However, each character was so unique that it was easy to follow.

I loved how each character and every sub-plot managed to coalesce into one story. My favorite character was Rah. He was the leader of a nomadic tribe with a cause. His feelings of injustice and his refusal to just lay down and take the easy road endeared me to him. All of the characters are amazing, though.

This book will not be for everyone. It is a bit on the brutal side. But the story-telling is incredible and the story Devin Madson has woven is engrossing. I highly recommend this to fantasy lovers who don’t mind a little gore.

The Haunted Lady by Mary Roberts Rinehart

The Haunted Lady (Hilda Adams): Mary Roberts Rinehart, Otto ...

Someone’s trying to kill the head of the Fairbanks estate, and only her nurse can protect her.

The arsenic in her sugar bowl was wealthy widow Eliza Fairbanks’ first clue that somebody wanted her dead. The nightly plagues of bats, birds, and rats unleashed in her bedroom were the second indication, an obvious attempt to scare the life out of the delicate dowager. So instead of calling the exterminator, Eliza calls the cops, who send Hilda Adams ― “Miss Pinkerton” to the folks at the bureau ― to go undercover and investigate.

Hilda Adams is a nurse, not a detective ― at least, not technically speaking. But then, nurses do have the opportunity to see things that the police can’t, and to witness the inner workings of a household when the authorities aren’t around. From the moment Adams arrives at the Fairbanks mansion, confronted by a swarm of shady and oddball relatives, many of whom seem desperate for their inheritance, it’s clear that something unseemly is at work in the estate. But not even she is prepared for the web of intrigue that awaits her therein. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

To my chagrin, I have to admit that I hadn’t read any of Mary Roberts Rinehart’s writing before this year. The author’s name sounded vaguely familiar, but it was only recently that I heard her being called the “American Agatha Christie.” Of course, that little phrase made me curious.

Hilda Adams is a nurse with a sharp eye and good problem-solving skills. In this particular book, she’s asked by the police- who she’s worked well with previously- to stay nights with the wealthy, older Mrs. Fairbanks, who is convinced that someone is trying to kill her. Hilda reluctantly agrees, expecting nothing more than the paranoia of a lonely woman. Instead, she finds herself in the middle of a who dunnit, one that takes place within a locked room. I truly love locked room mysteries!

I thought the mystery itself was clever, and the author planted the clues along the way, so that- were I smart enough- I might have solved it on my own. Alas, I am not. Thankfully, Hilda was also on the case! The cast of suspects felt a little flat to me, however. I was hoping for more from them, as far as personality goes. I struggled to feel the sense of excitement or tension that I often find in Agatha Christie’s books. Hilda herself was fun to read, though. She was a no-nonsense sort, but she was also far from impervious to nerves.

I enjoyed the book, but I didn’t love it. It was a fun read, and a good way to pass some time, but I wasn’t blown away.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles- ARC Review

Where Dreams Descend (Kingdom of Cards, #1) by Janella AngelesIn a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book will be available for purchase on June second.

I was interested in this book because a review said that fans of The Night Circus would love it. I must say, I have no idea why the review said that, since the two books are so incredibly different. However, I still found this book to be incredibly enjoyable.

Kallia is a very powerful magician. When the book opens, she works for the enigmatic Jack (also known as The Master) in a club known as Hell House. She lives on his estate, a pampered but lonely existence. Kallia dreams of leaving and travelling to the city of Glorian. When she sees a flyer advertising a competition for magicians she seizes her chance, despite Jack’s warnings against leaving.

Kallia is the only female in the competition, and it is clear from the beginning that she is not wanted. Strange doings start and what began as a competition turns into something far deadlier.

What makes this book stand out are the fantastic characters. On top of Kallia, there’s Canary, a fire eater; Aaros, a thief-turned-magician’s assistant; and Demarco, a judge from the competition who’s hiding something. And, of course, there’s Jack. I didn’t love Kallia because she’s so convinced that everyone is against her. She’s very prickly. However, it made her incredibly interesting. The other characters were all very well-developed. Jack is my favorite. He’s such a mystery. There’s obviously more to him than is revealed in this book, and I can’t wait to see where his story-line goes.

This book ends on a cliff hanger, so if that’s a pet peeve of yours, you might want to wait for the sequel to be released before reading it. I loved it, though. The stakes were raised and there are loose ends waiting to be tied up. If the sequel continues in the vein of this book, it’s going to be a doozy.

This book was a blast. I highly recommend it.