Book Description: Four hundred years ago, a cataclysmic war cracked the world open and exterminated the Elder races. Amid the ashes, their human inheritor, the Dawn Republic, stands guard over lands littered with eldritch relics and cursed by plaguespawn outbreaks. But a new conflict is looming and brother and sister Maya and Gyre have found themselves on opposite sides.
At the age of five, Maya was taken by the Twilight Order and trained to be a centarch, wielding forbidden arcana to enforce the Dawn Republic’s rule. On that day, her brother, Gyre, swore to destroy the Order that stole his sister… whatever the cost.
Twelve years later, brother and sister are two very different people: she is Burningblade, the Twilight Order’s brightest prodigy; he is Silvereye, thief, bandit, revolutionary.
I’ve really enjoyed all of the books by Django Wexler that I’ve read. There are a couple of things I’ve come to expect from him at this point: solid actions scenes, interesting magical systems, and a lovely sapphic romance. “Ashes of the Sun” delivered on all of these fronts and more. I really enjoyed the twist of including a duel POV story that featured two estranged siblings who increasingly find themselves on opposing sides of a brewing civil conflict. I preferred Maya’s story, overall, but Gyre’s situation was left in a more tenuous state at the end of that first book.
Here in the second story, I’m most curious to see what is going to happen with him going forward. I expect Maya and Gyre to clash once more. But will they begin to see more eye-to-eye here? Or is the wedge going to be driven even more deeper in? There are also a lot of mysteries around the big events of the past that shaped the current world. What’s going on with the Chosen? And the ghouls? Are they good or bad? So many questions, so many answers needed!
So in anticipation of this second book in the series, I’m hosting a give away for an ARC copy of “Blood of the Chosen!” The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will run through Oct. 17, 2021.
Hello horror fans! It’s been awhile since I’ve run a giveaway on the blog, and I am coming back to the giveaway game with a very fun prize package! Omnium Gatherum is an indie press that has a focus on horror and dark fantasy stories, and they were kind enough to send me a few titles that have lots of scares and bumps in the night! And not only that, I want to share them with a lucky winner! So let’s talk about the titles for the Omnium Gatherum Prize Package!
Book: “Bergdorf & Associates” by Thomas C. Mavroudis
After a suicide attempt, Abe has been working for Bergdorf & Associates, beings that are otherworldly and similar to djinn. They ask him to retrieve items or to complete tasks, and he doesn’t pry too deeply. But when a fellow contractor named Rayne manipulates him, takes his quarry, and puts him in serious danger, Abe has to find a way to complete his task. So he turns to the help of his twin nieces who seem to be telepathic, and a friend named Cruz who knows a little magic of his own. This novella is unique and strange, but Abe is a fun character to follow and his nieces are both adorable and a little creepy! Also, while Rayne is absolutely an antagonist, she has a very fun personality and at one point wears a delightfully geeky geology shirt that I won’t spoil here. It’s a quick and fun read, and one that dark fantasy fans will probably enjoy.
Book: “Entangled Soul & Other Stories” by Gene O’Neill and Chris Marrs
This is a bit of a hybrid collection, in that it features short stories from authors Gene O’Neill and Chris Marrs, as well as a novella collaboration that is the title piece. My favorite story by O’Neill is “Surfing Is My Life: Fear and Loathing on the Northern California Coast”. A reporter tags along with a surfer girl who is planning on entering a competition, and hopes to write a gonzo column about it for Rolling Stone. But while he has seen a lot of strange things during his writing, nothing can prepare him for what he encounters on this assignment. As someone who LOVES Hunter S. Thompson, this homage to one of my favorite writers is both well done, as well as unsettling in a way that sneaks up on you. For Marrs, I enjoyed “Paper and Pencil Skin and Ink”. A woman in an abusive relationship meets a mysterious man with strange tattoos all over his body, and she realizes that the tattoos aren’t just normal tattoos. The dark fantasy elements with ties to historical mysteries really worked for me, and I thought that it was properly mysterious and strange. And their collaborative novella, “Entangled Soul”, tells the story of a down and out boxer and an agoraphobic woman who are separated in many ways, but realize that their souls and consciousnesses are overlapping. They blend their voices together very well to tell this story, which feels part Sci Fi ‘what if’, and possession tale. I got a good feel for both their styles in this collection, and the collaboration is a nice way to finish it off.
Book: “Night Terrors & Other Tales” by Lisa Morton
This collection of short stories by Stoker Award Winner Lisa Morton span decades in her career, and were personally picked by her. From monsters to medical horror settings to magic, there is a little something for every horror fan. The two stories that really stood out for me were “Sparks Fly Upward”, a dystopian tale of a woman living in a Colony with limited resources. When she finds herself pregnant, she knows that she has to have an abortion, as a second child would tax the community. But when she and a party venture out to the abandoned clinic, zombies of former anti-abortion protestors still roam the property. This story is both a cathartic tale about the lingering obsession of the anti-abortion crowd, but also a bittersweet story about a person who may want another child at some point, but at the moment literally cannot afford to have one. I really, really loved it. The second story that grabbed my attention was “Black Mill Cove”, the tale of a man who goes searching for abalone and other creatures in tide pools, leaving his wife behind. But then he finds a human arm…. And realizes that this isn’t just a hunting ground, but a dumping ground as well, for a different kind of hunter. The tension in this one really builds, and I will definitely say that the end had me saying ‘oh SHIT’. I will say that there are definitely some stories in here that need content warnings, specifically “Poppi’s Monster”, which has depictions of child sexual abuse.
And here is a chance for you to get your hands on these fun books from Omnium Gatherum! It may be a little ways before Halloween season, but these books will give you a lot of spooky material in the mean time! Thanks again to Omnium Gatherum for sending these books my way!
The giveaway is open only to U.S. residents and ends on July 26, 2021.
Book Description: As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose-to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he’ll return the world’s captured gods.
Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can’t control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can’t hurt those she loves. Again.
But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn’t learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood-and her world-whole.
Giveaway Details: Summer is the season of the wolf! Or so it seems this year, what with three (three on my radar, at least) books coming out with this theme. Fantasy fans will either love this trend or dislike it, but as a fan of fairytale re-tellings, this is definitely one trend I can get behind. Though, of course, when there are trends like this in genres, readers are always left biting their fingernails waiting for the first misstep! Luckily, two books in, I haven’t found it yet!
I really enjoyed “For the Wolf.” I’ll post my full review on Friday, of course, but I can say briefly that this was an even more enjoyable read for me than “The Wolf and the Woodsman” was. It was also a bit of a surprise, as I would say it’s definitely closer to a “Beauty and the Beast” re-telling than any other fairytale. That worked out perfectly for me! And fans of that story should definitely check this one out.
The giveaway is open only to U.S. residents and ends on June 23, 2021.
Book Description: Queen Talyien is finally home, but dangers she never imagined await her in the shadowed halls of her father’s castle.
War is on the horizon. Her son has been stolen from her, her warlords despise her, and across the sea, a cursed prince threatens her nation with invasion in order to win her hand.
Worse yet, her father’s ancient secrets are dangerous enough to bring Jin Sayeng to ruin. Dark magic tears rifts in the sky, preparing to rain down madness, chaos, and the possibility of setting her nation aflame.
Bearing the brunt of the past and uncertain about her future, Talyien will need to decide between fleeing her shadows or embracing them before the whole world becomes an inferno.
Giveaway Details: I’ve been pleased to be able to host giveaways for the first two books in this series, so I was incredibly excited to receive an extra copy to host another one for this last book in the trilogy. Given the building tension and ever-growing stakes in the story, fans of the series will likely be as eager to get their hands on this last installment as I was.
In many ways, this trilogy reads like the story that I wish “Game of Thrones” had allowed Daenerys to have. Women, especially queens who must make the same incredibly tough calls that kings have had to make for ages, balancing the weight of evils and the sacrifices necessary for the greater good, are just as capable of being as ruthless and driven as men without it indicating some sort of madness. I could rant forever about that particular choice, especially as it plays out in the show. But, thankfully, in Talyien we find a queen truly worth rooting for. She is a warrior and a woman and, simply, a person who is flawed, has insecurities, has made poor choices, but also has an inner strength and drive that sees her rising to the challenges before her.
All three books have, in their own way, seen Talyien’s situation become more and more dire. Queen though she may be, she is still vulnerable to the maneuverings of the men that surround her. Worse, in this book, we see the lingering damage that even a dead man, her own father, can wreak on her life. I’m so excited to see how everything plays out. It feels like there are a bunch of moving pieces and many issues coming in to roost.
I’ll post my full review this coming Friday. But in the meantime, make sure to enter to win a paperback copy of “The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng!”
Book: “The Light of Midnight Stars” by Rena Rossner
Publishing Info: Redhook, April 2021
Book Description: Deep in the Hungarian woods, the sacred magic of King Solomon lives on in his descendants. Gathering under the midnight stars, they pray, sing and perform small miracles – and none are more gifted than the great Rabbi Isaac and his three daughters. Each one is blessed with a unique talent – whether it be coaxing plants to grow, or predicting the future by reading the path of the stars.
When a fateful decision to help an outsider ends in an accusation of witchcraft, fire blazes through their village. Rabbi Isaac and his family are forced to flee, to abandon their magic and settle into a new way of life. But a dark fog is making its way across Europe and will, in the end, reach even those who thought they could run from it. Each of the sisters will have to make a choice – and change the future of their family forever.
I really enjoyed Rena Rossner’s first book, “The Sisters of the Winter Wood”, when I read it in 2018. It was a lovely, fairytale-like story featuring two sisters, so pretty much right up my alley! The author also experimented with her style of writing, alternating between the more traditional prose for one sister, and a lyrical, poetic form for the other. Not only did this make the reading experience feel varied and alive, but the choice of each style of writing matched the aspects of each sister: the solid, grounded prose for the sister who can turn into a bear, and the more whimsical, flighty poems for the sister who can turn into a swan.
With that incredible first outing, I was excited to see that the author had another book coming out this spring. And even more excited when I received an ARC in the mail! In many ways this book sounds similar: a Jewish fairytale featuring sisters, this time three. Is this too similar to the first one? Or just more to like? I’ll post my full review this coming Friday. In the meantime, enter to win a copy! This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends on April 28, 2021.
Happy holidays fellow book lovers! And in honor of this time of year when presents giving is everything, we’re hosting our fourth annual “12 Days of Christmas” Giveaway. But, tricky us, it’s actually two giveaways, each one comprised of six books from our preferred genres. Read on to see what books are included in each prize package and enter for your chance to win! Both giveaways are open to U.S. residents only and end on January 1.
Book Description: Abandoned by her people, Queen Talyien’s quest takes a turn for the worse as she stumbles upon a plot deeper and more sinister than she could have ever imagined, one that will displace her king and see her son dead. The road home beckons, strewn with a tangled web of deceit and unimaginable horrors – creatures from the dark, mad dragons and men with hearts hungry for power.
To save her land, Talyien must confront the myth others have built around her: Warlord Yeshin’s daughter, symbol of peace, warrior and queen and everything she could never be.
The price for failure is steep. Her friends are few. And a nation carved by a murderer can only be destined for war.
Giveaway Details: I really enjoyed the first book in this series, “The Wolf of Oren-Yaro” when I read it earlier this spring. So I was super excited to see that the second one would be coming out this fall, so soon after.
The first story introduces us to Queen Talyien, a young queen who is anything but beloved by her people. Abandoned by her husband and left with a young son and a country that is barely holding itself together, Talyien strives to hold the fraying bits of her life together. When she attempts to reconcile with her husband several years after the fact, everything seems to go wrong and Talyien begins to discover that her problems may be even bigger than she had thought.
There were a bunch of things I really liked about the first book. The writing was strong and confident. The world-building was unique but not to caught up in itself. But most of all, I really liked Talyien. Talyien was that type of heroine that defies all of the stereotypes one typically finds when looking up examples of “strong female protagonists.” Yes, she’s smart, a good fighter, and independent. But she’s also flawed, self-aware, and has made choices that aren’t also good, and realizes it! Beyond this, it’s always nice to have an adult woman as the heroine. Too often fantasy stories focus on very young female characters. Not that I have a problem with those characters and the often very lovely romances they bring with them, but it’s also nice to have a change. Talyien is a grown woman who’s seen the ups and downs or romances and marriage and has a small child of her own. Her problems and outlooks on life are very different than the young woman just setting out in the world.
The end of the first book left Talyien in a situation all the more dire than the one she started in, so I’m excited to see what she gets up to in this one! I’m not really expecting rainbows and butterflies, but man, can’t something go right for this woman? My full review will be up this Friday. In the meantime, we’re giving away a copy of this book. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends on September 23.
Book Description:A thrilling YA debut about teen spies disguised as “love interests”–whoever gets the girl lives; but the one she rejects, dies.
There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.
Caden is a Nice: The boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: The brooding, dark-souled guy, and dangerously handsome.
The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a Nice or the Bad?
Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be – whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.
What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.
From debut author Cale Dietrich comes a fast-paced adventure that is full of both action and romance and subverts common tropes.
Giveaway Details: I don’t know about you guys, but given how much garbage is going on in the world right now, escapist reads are really calming. You can pick up a book, get lost in it, and not think about pandemics, political corruption, systemic racism and racial violence, and a kneecapped Post Office… etc etc etc. I was looking at my shelves the other day, trying to do another culling, as the libraries being a little more difficult to maneuver these days has meant that I’ve turned to eBooks, NetGalley, and buying from indie bookstores when I’ve wanted to read. The last of those options has meant that my shelf has become a bit cramped. So that means that you guys get to benefit from it, with a fun, flirty, and action filled escapist read called “The Love Interest”!
“The Love Interest” takes tropes from spy books, romance books, rivalry books, and more, and has a fun time subverting them. Caden and Dylan are on the surface the perfect examples of the tropes of a YA love triagle. Caden is the sensitive nice one, Dylan is the bad boy with deeper layers than he lets on. They have to pursue the same girl, and whichever one she chooses gets to live. Dietrich, however, decides to have some fun with the tried and true love triangle storyline, and what we get is fun, action packed, and fluffy. This isn’t high literature, but it doesn’t have to be to be enjoyable and something that some of us need right now.
If you are looking for and easy read that has fun by not taking itself terribly seriously, this is the giveaway for you! This is a hardcover ‘Book of the Month Club’ Edition of this book, though I’m pretty sure that just means there is a BOTMC stamp on it and not really anything else? This giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only and ends on August 24th.
Book Description: Long ago, a magical war destroyed an empire, and a new one was built in its ashes. But still the old grudges simmer, and two siblings will fight on opposite sides to save their world, in the start of Django Wexler’s new epic fantasy trilogy
Gyre hasn’t seen his beloved sister since their parents sold her to the mysterious Twilight Order. Now, twelve years after her disappearance, Gyre’s sole focus is revenge, and he’s willing to risk anything and anyone to claim enough power to destroy the Order.
Chasing rumors of a fabled city protecting a powerful artifact, Gyre comes face-to-face with his lost sister. But she isn’t who she once was. Trained to be a warrior, Maya wields magic for the Twilight Order’s cause. Standing on opposite sides of a looming civil war, the two siblings will learn that not even the ties of blood will keep them from splitting the world in two.
Giveaway Details: I’ve only recently rediscovered Django Wexler. Several years ago, I read a military fantasy by him which I really liked. But for some reason (too many books!) I never got back around to finishing the many other books in that series. Then this past winter, I was blew through two of his new YA fantasy books, and it really cemented him as an author worthy keeping my eyes on. So I was really excited when Orbit sent me an ARC for his upcoming fantasy title releasing this summer. It’s been a challenge holding off on reading it right away as I had many other books I wanted to get to and review first, but finally the time has come!
The story seems to be some combination of a post-apocalyptic tale and a traditional fantasy story with a bunch of new elements. It also seems like Orbit has went all in on this “siblings on the opposite side of a battle” theme, as this will be the second fantasy story from them I’ve read with that premise this spring/summer. But, while I wasn’t a huge fan of “The Ranger of Marzanna,” I have full faith that Wexler will be able to better pull off this type of set up. Mostly, I know that he can handle multiple POV characters in one book, the most important element in this type of storytelling. Both the military adult fantasy novel I read several years ago and the second in the YA fantasy series I read last winter had more than one POV character. I usually had preferences for one over another, but I always liked reading about them both. So I’m super excited to see what he’ll do with these two characters!
I’ve also skimmed through the book and noticed that there is a fairly extensive glossary of terms at the end of the book. That, and books that have maps, are often some of the first signs I look for in a fantasy book that has a lot to offer. An extensive glossary, in this case, hints that the world-building and magic system are extensive and complicated enough to warrant this type of added explanation.
So, overall, I’m really excited to jump into this one. I’ll have a full review of this book coming out this Friday. But, as the book itself doesn’t come out until later in July, make sure to take advantage of this opportunity to win an ARC copy of this book (I also had an eARC so this copy is completely untouched). The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends on July 15.
Book Description: The mage-marked granddaughter of a ruler of Vaskandar, Ryx was destined for power and prestige at the top of Vaskandran society. But her magic is broken; all she can do is uncontrollably drain the life from everything she touches, and Vaskandar has no place for a mage with unusable powers.
Then, one night, two terrible accidents befall her: Ryx accidentally kills a visiting dignitary in self-defense, activating a mysterious magical artifact sealed in an ancient tower in the heart of her family’s castle.
Ryx flees, seeking a solution to her deadly magic. She falls in with a group of unlikely magical experts investigating the disturbance in Vaskandar—and Ryx realizes that her family is in danger and her domain is at stake. She and her new colleagues must return to the family stronghold to take control of the artifact that everyone wants to claim—before it destroys the world.
Giveaway Details: I really enjoyed Melissa Caruso’s original trilogy, so I was super excited when I saw that she was coming out with a second series set in the same world. Her first trilogy stood out for its amazingly competent and practical leading lady, the strong female friendships, a completely unique world, and an interesting take on a love triangle. From this description, it looks like we’ll have at least one of the same: an interesting-sounding young woman protagonist!
This description doesn’t really clarify when this story is set in comparison to the original, but I have to imagine it’s some time after. One of the things I’m most intrigued by is the fact that it is set in Vaskandar and our heroine hails from that nation. In the previous series, Vaskandar was largely an enemy nation. Their vivomancers wielded incredible power and their succession system was full of conflict. It will be interesting to see what this story has to offer featuring a main character from this land. Are the political tensions the same? I’m assuming she will feature in some type of heroic role, so how will that feature in Vaskandar’s competitive and sometimes brutal society?
I’m also really interested to learn more about Ryx’s broken powers. In the previous book, our main character herself didn’t have any magical abilities, but instead was a Falconer for her powerful, fire-wielding friend. And we know that Riverra and Vaskandar place very different values on those with and without magic. How will Ryx feature in this when she technically seems to have abilities, but they’re so dangerous that she accidentally kills her fellows?
I’ll have my full review for this book this Friday. But in the mean time, make sure to enter to win an ARC copy of “The Obsidian Tower.” The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends on June 17.