No Songs are Sung (A Mercenary of Palladia #1) by Justin Bohardt

Summary

What Profit is There in Saving the World?

A professional hired soldier who bears the scars and cynicism of his trade, Geraghty Milliner has love for few things in the world: a bottle to numb the pain, a lady to make him feel alive, and the gold that can buy both.

After his most recent business venture lands him in prison, Geragthy sees potential profit in helping a lord’s wayward mistress named Chiara escape from her cell. Once sprung from jail by his partner-in-crime Vrodath, they escort Chiara to the sprawling city of Aethene to collect a reward large enough to keep them in riches for a lifetime.

However, when beasts from a forgotten realm, demonic creations of overthrown gods, are sent pouring forth from a tear in the fabric of reality, the length of a lifetime threatens to grow perilously short, and Geraghty plans to do the only sensible thing available: get the hell out of there. Not immune to making some gold even amidst an apocalypse, he agrees to escort Chiara, her noble lover, and Princess Emilia, seventh in line to the throne of Palladia and a powerful wielder of magic, out of the city even as they are hounded by every beast freed from perdition.

What Geraghty does not know is that an ancient enemy of the free peoples of Geoserra, one thought defeated millennia ago, has reawakened, and it is Princess Emilia alone who can assure its destruction. Geraghty will need to make the choice between saving himself and saving the world, and the right choice seems obvious. What profit is there in saving the world?

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Characters

Geraghty is nothing if not consistent. He has a noble…kinda noble…somewhat noble streak. He is in a word—bad*ss. A mercenary who loves money, loose but fiery women, and strong alcohol. He is a mans…man? Lots of races in the book—most of which reminded me more of animals. With supporting characters like Vrodoath his equally interesting partner and Chiara a kept woman that is more then meets the eye. Rounding out the secondary support is Emilia, a very strong princess and mage. A great cast of characters—it is one of the biggest strengths of the book. The biggest issues I have, besides the ‘strong’ women being objectified, is the constant head hopping. There is no rhyme or reason, it just jumps around from person to person, even in the middle of chapters, which causes a lot of confusion at time. Thankfully most of the book follows Geraghty, but when it does switch points of view, it is often jarring and confusing, so be warned.

Plot

The world is ending. A big baddie thought long dead has returned. A hero…mercenary…on a quest to stop it. Nothing new about this kind of story, but the author weaves together an interesting tale that causes the characters to sling shot around. The real piece that sets it apart is Geraghty. Mini missions and mischief abound. This has an excellent, vivid kingdom based world with a medieval/feudal feel to it. Downside, you have to survive the first few chapters of info dumping, while the author buries you under an avalanche of information. Yes, it gets better but it continues. Also yes, it is worth getting through to enjoy the rest of the story. There were a lot of interesting themes throughout as well that feed into a bigger plot.

Overall

Lots of action—almost non-stop—this book is gritty. There is also some humor, most of which hit its mark. It doesn’t play safe so don’t get too attached to any characters…you’ll never know which one will just up and die unexpectedly. Halfway through was a real turning point for me in the novel because after then it started to flow and I got into a groove. The second half of the book was much more of a page turner, so trust me the rocky start is worth sticking around for.

I don’t want to give anything away but the reason this book went from a 3 star review to a 4 star review was purely because of the ending. Instead of everything just wrapping up, Geraghty had to deal with the fallout. Emotional, physical, of what he’d survived. It brought another dimension to the book and character, which sealed by desire to pick up book two and see where Geraghty’s next adventure took him.

Rating

4 stars

A cast of interesting characters, in a rich fantasy world, with almost non-stop action and an ending that left me wanting to read the next book. It is a mans-man book for sure, so keep that in mind. If you like DnD or fantasy video games, this will be worth a try.

Where did I get a copy?

I was gifted a copy. This is a voluntary review.

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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.

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.