A Monk’s Tail by Kyle Spencer

Summary

For Bow, a gun-toting, hard-drinking, foul-mouthed firefox monk, life as a monster-hunter is pretty straightforward. Until, that is, he runs afoul of a power-hungry warlord and gets himself imprisoned. There he helps a young maus named Susi escape, but in doing so unleashed nightmarish forces hellbent on capturing his new ward. Now, with the help of a giant bear alchemist and a violent nun, Bow must stay one step ahead of his perusers and certain death. But Susi is harboring a dark secret, one that could spell doom for them all.

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Characters

Quirky—that is the word that comes to mind when I think of the characters in this book.  At its lead is Bow, a charming dumba**. He is a jerk but in a mostly adorable way…mostly. Susi the second front runner and a sweetie with a secret. After Susi and Bow become fast friends there are a few others that show up. My favorite of the bunch is Talia—she is also a firefox like Bow and a good balance for him. It has a similar feel of Guardians of the Galaxy but in the fantasy genre. My biggest complaint is there are multiple points of view…all in first person. *groan*

Plot

The plot has a tendency to run all over the place. Where the main group is mostly being chased but also hunting monsters. It zigzags like a Dungeon and Dragon (D&D) campaign. Not necessarily a bad thing but it does cause lulls in a few areas that thankfully don’t detract from the story. That being said there are lots of impressive action scenes. Ones that make the pages and minutes melt away. There are a few past flash backs that didn’t really feel necessary and detracted from the story. That being said the ending is shocking and unexpected and yet realistic. People don’t always make the best choices and sometimes they make really terrible ones.

Overall

There is this kiddish charm with adult themes. Sometimes it is difficult to match the flippant attitude/feel of the book with the violence. I laughed out loud more than once. It had very vivid characters and scenes. The book is littered with fandom references. It make the world seem a little all over the place but had solid enjoyable characters to make up for it.

The author is clearly a D&D lover. It is apparent from the start. Furthermore, there is D&D overload when one of the characters plays D&D. Like D&D inception. I half expect the ending to be a critical fail on a roll because of how unexpected it was but that just added to the feel of the story. An absolute bonus! I have a feeling Bow’s adventures are far from over.

Rating

3.5 Stars (rounded up)

It was entertaining. If you love D&D and would like an amusing fantasy adventure—pick this up!

Where did I get it?

Author provided a copy. This is a voluntary review.

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Land of Peace (Book 2) by Cyana Scriptora

Summary

Prince Audax Leonis has been struggling to make sense of the last few days.
One moment his sweet Anna was dying in his arms and the next he was being consumed by a giant vortex.
He woke up in a strange world, a world of noise and chaos.
The goddess had saved Anna.
But she had also made a grave mistake.
What had Iustitia been thinking?
“They will think that I have abandoned them. They will call me a coward.”
Sleep is impossible. The guilt and fear sickens his stomach.
He hears them in his dreams. The people that have died, and those that will, those that are alive and suffering at the hands of that monster and his despicable men.
“Send me back! Please, I have to return!”
He cries in the middle of the night, but there is only silence.
There are no answers, never answers. Just more questions.
Tomorrow he will walk to her room and see her.
Perhaps, tomorrow will be the day.
But until then, he is trapped. Trapped in time.

Characters

Anna and Audax return. I wish there was more growth in both characters but they grow closer together in this book. Developing their relationship and realizing their mistakes which was rewarding to read. Liz and Alex are also back. Liz irritates me to no end, she is kinda of an idiot. Alex was much more charming and I honestly can’t see what he sees in Liz. I did like many of the new character arcs—especially Venia’s although I fear hers is going to end in tragedy. The author did a good job keeping all of the

Plot

This second book is more of a YA romance with all of the ‘romance’ stories rather than a YA fantasy. I am not often a fan of time travel but so far this author is playing it safe and kept it believable. That meddling with the past affect the future…or even the events of the past. Love that aspect of it. What was really fun was Audax experiencing the ‘magic’ of technology of the modern age. I was laughing out loud at a few parts. There were a few scenes and pieces that felt way too convenient: like Liz just paying Audax’s bills at the hospital and Avam just knowing how Errata felt about Videns.

Overall

Something I realized with this second book was the gods are from Greek mythology. Which was such a disappointment because that meant all of the world building is borrowed. Even the fairy lore thrown in. Like last time the story and writing progressed enjoyably. Actually I felt like this book served more to introduce new story lines with new romances, rather than progress the plot. There were aspects I really enjoyed and others that felt unnecessary. Overall still an enjoyable read with lots of interesting characters.

Rating

3.5 stars (rounded up)

More of a YA romance than a YA fantasy, this was the second installment that is more in the future than the past of this story. Lots of new characters to fall in love with!

Where did I get a copy?

From the author for an honest review. This is a voluntary review.

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

Summary

Geralt of Rivia is a witcher. A cunning sorcerer. A merciless assassin. And a cold-blooded killer. His sole purpose: to destroy the monsters that plague the world. But not everything monstrous-looking is evil and not everything fair is good… and in every fairy tale there is a grain of truth.

Characters

Geralt is kind of a jerk. However, he is a clever jerk with a moral code. He is tough and unforgiving. I adore him. Even when he is being…frustrating. Yennifer and Dandelion are both excellent secondary character. I know they will be reoccurring characters. Dandelion is hilarious and is such a contrast to Geralt that they make an excellent team.

Plot

As a series of anthologies they are stories—reminiscent of twisted fairy tales. Ones like Beauty and the Beast for example but with a different take. Where the focus is on the monsters and are changed in very distinct ways. They are all moving towards the crowning story at the end.

Overall

It was a very good fantasy anthology. The author has a tendency to info dump. It isn’t so bad if you’ve played the video games but if you come in it is likely overwhelming. It has gritty feel that is refreshing. The action scenes are well done and easy to follow. There were a few places where the stories lulled but overall were very enjoyable. I would say I enjoyed more stories than I didn’t.

Rating

4 stars

Very enjoyable fantasy anthology with a striking main character. I am looking forward to reading the next anthology!

Where did I get it?

I bought a paperback.

Those Brave, Foolish Souls from the City of Swords (Yarnsworld #3) by Benedict Patrick

Summary

Young and filled with idealistic fervor, Arturo packs his blade and travels to the fabled City of Swords in the hopes of joining the dashing Bravadori. Yet upon arriving he discovers these masked vigilantes have more in common with brutal thugs than noble monster slayers. Disillusioned and mocked, he stubbornly refuses to give up his dreams.

When an impending bandit attack threatens untold depravities upon a distant village, and no others will heed the call for help, Arturo joins forces with a worthless outcast and a walking legend to attempt the impossible, to traverse the demon-haunted wilderness and prove that in the City of Swords, true heroes can rise from the unlikeliest of places.

Characters

Arturo is a puppy. Hopeful, idealistic, dogged in his beliefs, and too trusting. Although he is aware of the danger and what a narrow line he is walking trying to become a Bravadori. I appreciated having a mostly positive character in such a dark, unforgiving world. Yizel and Crazy Raccoon are entirely different characters. Yizel is disgraced and broken. In many ways she was a future that Arturo could have had. Crazy Raccoon on the other hand is a very complex character. Strange, disgusting, and yet there is something there. You’ll have to read to find out what but don’t judge this book by its cover.

Plot

Arturo wants to make a name for himself.  He wants to apply his skill, his Knack, as a sword fighter and become a famed Bravadori. Once at the City of Swords he finds out very quickly that what he imagined, is not reality. Circumstances leads to the three unlikely…heroes?…characters teaming up to save a village. What they don’t know is that another game is in play at the same time. These two stories will collide into a epic battle that may end in victory or defeat.

Overall

As always an expertly built world with expertly built characters. The fantasy and stories were interesting and varied. The creature the author introduces is chilling. However, the creature also has a story and an interesting one. It intertwines leads to a fantastical ending. The writing was excellent and enjoyable to read, but this author has always been able to write in an engaging and vivid manner. I appreciated the standalone feel that had an ending that implied ‘this is just the first chapter in these character’s lives.’

Unlike the first two books that had a strong unique theme and setting, this book felt like the run of a mill fantasy novel. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very good fantasy read, but I just didn’t connect to the story as much or have a clever twist that hadn’t been more heavily foreshadowed. At the end of the enjoyable and worth the time!

Rating

4 Stars

Overall a great fantasy read. A solid 4 stars that I’d recommend to fantasy readers. If you loved the first two standalone stories of Yarnsworld, this one is just as good.

Where did I get it?

I want to thank the author for a free copy. This is a voluntary review.

Mosaic by Chris Keaton and Rick Taubold

Summary

Twin girls discover a mystical world contained within a crumbling mosaic, and they must restore it before an evil witch seizes its power, even if doing so could tear their family apart.

Secrets. It all started while looking for secret passages. Chloe Tozier’s impulsive twin, Zoe, insisted that all old mansions had them. Grandma denied the existence of any here. Except for the boarded-up service elevator that she conveniently forgot to mention before the girls discovered it, the elevator that didn’t seem to go anywhere. They had been living in this private museum with their grandparents since the death of their parents during an archaeology trip to Egypt.

Mysteries. Why have a museum in a tiny town in the middle of Kansas when what’s on display is nothing unusual? Sometimes packages arrived wrapped in plain brown paper that the girls never saw again. Grandpa disappeared overnight and they haven’t heard from him since. And before going to Egypt their parents had mentioned something about a mysterious mosaic. Maybe Zoe was right about family secrets. Maybe it was time to dig further.

Characters

Chloe and Zoe are super cute but very much cookie cutter characters. I never felt like they really broke out of their shell and were very two dimensional characters for most of the book. I also struggled with the story being primarily from Chloe’s perspective and almost not at all from her sister’s. That being said as the book progressed they grew on me. There are a plethora of supporting characters but most of them are amazing! Favorite character by far was Severin. He saved this book in the character department for me! I would read an entire book with just his story! The villain was a little flat, but decently evil.

Plot

This is for sure a YA plot. I loved the back story and was totally engaged in those chapters. Totally swept up in them and transported to a land before magic was taken. The plot was wrapped around a big baddie escaping and two twin teens being the only ones who can set everything right. After a wonderful opening chapter the rest started off a little slow but that was because it felt like the origin story to a series. Once you get past that introductory piece the plot focuses on the Mosaic and that is when the real fun begins. I consumed the last 40% of this book in one sitting because I JUST HAD TO KNOW!

Overall

The world building and originality of the plot behind the mosaic was this book’s strength. It is a whirl wind adventure for the second half of the book and you won’t want to put this book down once you reach that part. The writing was easy to follow and written for a YA crowd but adults who enjoy YA would enjoy as well. Vivid fantasy characters/creatures were woven throughout the book that were awesome! There were scenes that I could see playing as a movie in my head.

I was totally sucked in for the second half of the book! I’d get excited every flash back or Severin chapter showed up. They were by far the highlights of the book. The history of the Mosaic and their guardians is well with the rest of the book. If you’d like a fun adventure with a YA feel, but sure to pick this up!

My personal opinion was this would have made for an epic adult book and was actually limited by its YA characters. Although cute and fun it could have easily competed with other wonderful books had it shed its YA skin. Its YA main characters and YA friendly villain drained some of the excitement and originality of the story.

Rating

4.5 Stars

This is a solid 4 star book and well worth the time, particularly if you love YA books and characters that are tried and true. Overall a fantastically original plot/idea, but not very original heroines so I just couldn’t give it 5 stars.

This is a voluntary review.

The Shadow Girl by Misty Mount

Summary

It’s more than just her imagination—she’s fading away…

Painfully shy, thirteen-year-old Zylia Moss is no stranger to living life in the shadows, pushed aside and unnoticed by both her large family of nine and her fellow classmates. As her “symptoms” of invisibility increase, she uncovers an old family mystery leading to her Great-Aunt Angelica, who vanished curiously at Zylia’s age. If she’s going to save herself from being erased from the canvas of this world, she’ll have to travel far outside her comfort zone—maybe even to another dimension.

Characters

Zylia Moss is so vividly painted, it is as though the author conjured her from a real person and not imagination. Very rarely do I read first person and think ‘this was done right!’ This painfully shy girl is in many ways a reluctant heroine but for sure the heroine of her own story. The subtle interactions and internal thoughts built Zylia into a very real character. Supporting characters like her family and Terra. Everything was painted from Zylia’s point of view and it was expertly done, bringing alive a world not so different from other disjointed but loving families.

Plot

This book makes you question what is real and what is not. Is Zylia really fading or is there something else happening? I won’t ruin it for you, but I absolutely loved the way the author went with the story. Between the mystery and the coming of age aspects, I really enjoyed the development of this story. The plot was enjoyable but the real powerhouse of this story was the characters.

Overall

Fantastic writing, interesting plot, and stellar character that practically leaps out of the page! The way Zylia slowly blossomed and came into her own was amazing to see. I loved her friendship with Terra, it was perfect in every way and felt so real! I have very few negatives at all about this book, it was wonderfully executed. Biggest issue was how slow it was. Although I can’t pinpoint anything that could be left out, this is not action packed, it was a biopic approach to story telling.

The second really isn’t a negative but I felt like this wasn’t for my age group. I’m in my late twenties and at times I had a really hard time remembering how awkward it was in middle/high school. This is 100% perfect for young teens and high schoolers and I highly recommend it to those age groups. I think even those in college who are socially awkward will just love this, but as an extrovert who doesn’t mind being the center of attention, some of the nuances of the story that would normally have struck a cord…simply struck out.

Rating

5 stars

If you are between 10-25 and like coming of age stories with a nice twist this is a MUST READ! Zylia will feel like a real person by the end of the book, that is how well she is written.

This is a voluntary review of an advanced readers copy.

Zendar #Giveaway – #Fantasy #romance #book TODAY ONLY

Update 12/10/2017: Winner was Brandee! Congrats!

If you love romantic fantasies, this is a must enter for you. You’ll get a kindle copy of Zendar: A Tale of Blood and Sand just in time for the holiday season! The giveaway is today only so act fast!

Zendar Giveaway

Summary:

Can enemies become something more? Find out in the steamy romantic tale on the sandy planet of Zendar. 

Blood is how it all began, and only by blood can it end. Chaos has reigned in Zendar for years since the rise of the seven Bloodlines. The Liege Aleron Corvinus ruthlessly seeks revenge for the mistreatment of his ancestors. His ambitions will only be sated when he claims the world under his family’s name; he will only stop when all of Zendar is his and the other six Bloodlines pay their weight in blood.

Azel Undel was born into this world of blood and sand. She is of a dying Bloodline, a feared one, but most coveted. Promised, in exchange for money, to a man she had never known; Azel travels across Zendar. Her ship is attacked and she alone survives, setting the wheels of fate in motion. She did not expect to become her enemy’s captive or that he would demand her submission to him.

Loyalties are tested, secrets are uncovered, and Azel will have to make a choice: remain loyal to her family and everything she ever stood for or be loyal to her own heart.

Also, for the next three months Zendar: A Tale of Blood and Sand will be on Kindle Unlimited! Check it out here: Amazon.

Happy Holidays!