Category Archives: Fantasy

Review: The Princess Knight (The Scarred Earth Saga, #2) by G. A. Aiken

The Princess Knight (The Scarred Earth Saga, #2)The Princess Knight by G.A. Aiken
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: The Princess Knight
Author: G. A. Aiken
Series: The Scarred Earth Saga, #2
Pages: 352
Publisher: Kensington
Date: November 24, 2020

Summary:

Gemma Smythe dedicated her life to the glory of battle. With her fellow War Monks, she worshipped the war gods, rained destruction on her enemies, and raised the dead when the fancy took her. Until her sister Keeley became the prophesied Blacksmith Queen, and Gemma broke faith with her order to journey to the Amichai Mountain and fight by Keeley’s side.

The Amichai warriors are an unruly, never-to-be-tamed lot, especially their leader-in-waiting, Quinn. But when the War Monks declare support for Gemma’s ruthless younger sister Beatrix, the immaturity of her key ally is the least of Gemma’s problems. She has to get to the grand masters, dispel their grudge against her, and persuade them to fight for Keeley and justice. If her conviction can’t sway them, perhaps Quinn’s irritating, irreverent, clearly unhinged, ferocity will win the day.

Review:

I have my favorite Shelly Laurenston/G. A. Aiken series and I never think a new one will be as good. I am also wrong every time. This is the second book, after The Blacksmith Queen, of the Scarred Earth Saga and it is just as funny as all her others.

When I read The Blacksmith Queen, I did not think I particularly liked Gemma. However, this book explains her backstory and makes her a lot more understandable. It doesn’t make her nice by any means. But really, are any of this author’s characters nice? No! And that is why we love them.

The Princess Knight, and yes, Gemma hates that title, continues the war that began in the last book. I can’t say much more than that due to spoilers. (READ THE PREVIOUS BOOK FIRST! You will regret it if you don’t.) Anyway, there is a not-really-new enemy. He was in the first book, but I had almost forgotten about him. There is also a focus on another of Gemma’s and Keeley’s sisters. Keep an eye on her. I think, hope, she will be the star of the next book.

There is an influx of new characters and that is my only problem with the book. A lot of new people are introduced almost at one time and I felt like I needed a cast list to keep track of everybody. They all had a part to play, so no one was superfluous. We’re talking witches, assassins, and virgins, oh my . . . and we can’t forget the centaurs!

The ending was wonderful. It was a solid ending with a not-quite-cliffhanger and an appearance of a surprise character. I cannot wait for the sequel!

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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The Cursed (League of the Black Swan, #1) by Alyssa Day

The Cursed (League of the Black Swan, #1)The Cursed by Alyssa Day
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: The Cursed
Author: Alyssa Day
Series: League of the Black Swan, #1
Pages: 282
Publisher: Berkley
Date: May 7, 2013

Summary:

Bordertown private investigator Luke Oliver’s beat is the dimensional fold in Manhattan between the human and supernatural realms. But now a secret from his past—the League of the Black Swan—has surfaced. Because Luke isn’t any ordinary P.I. He’s the Dark Wizard of Bordertown, and he never backs down from a fight.

But this time the fight threatens his life and his heart. Rio Jones, the only woman he loved, needs his help against a deadly menace. Luke pushed her away once before, so she’d never fall prey to the curse that threatens to destroy him. He swore he’d never let her go again.

Luke and Rio, with the help of the newly reformed League, must keep evil forces from taking over Bordertown—all the while battling a passion on the razor’s edge between danger and desire. And going to take everything they have just to stay alive.

Review:

I read this book when it was released and gave it five stars. I decided since I had not yet reviewed it to read it again to see if I felt the same way. Yep. I was right. It is definitely a five star book.

The setting is New York City . . . or at least it is New York for the humans. It is actually an area where the worlds of human, demon, and Fae intersect. In other words, it is the border, so Bordertown. Anyway, Bordertown is where you go when you don’t fit in anywhere else, OR you’ve been kicked out of everywhere else.

Luke Oliver is a good guy. He’s been around for years, think hundreds, not decades. He is the strongest wizard in Bordertown and “people” keep hounding him to take the sheriff’s job. He is not interested in the job at all, but that doesn’t keep people from bringing it up.

Rio is human, mostly, and can read most people’s minds. As you can imagine, that can be an ugly gift to have. Now, the bad guys are after her and she has no idea why. All she knows is it has something to do with her twenty-fifth birthday which is coming soon.

Throw in a child’s kidnapping, a Fae lady, and a demon prince. Not to mention, Grendels and goblins. Obviously, things get exciting fast.
And they stay that way.

Alyssa Day does an excellent job of worldbuilding without overwhelming the reader with too much detail. The secondary characters are described well enough to serve their purpose in the plot, but there are not so many of them that I felt like I needed to take notes. That has happened to me before with other books.

I have been reading Day’s Warriors of Poseidon series since its beginning and I love them. Every time I re-read them, I am amazed at how good they are. Based on this book, The League of the Black Swan series is going to be the same.

There is an in between book out titled The Curse of the Black Swan which can be found in the anthology Enthralled. I contacted the author on Twitter and she said the next book, The Unforgiven, will be available for free to her newsletter subscribers in either January or February of this year. I cannot wait.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Shiver of Light (Merry Gentry, #9) by Laurell K. Hamilton

A Shiver of Light (Merry Gentry #9)A Shiver of Light by Laurell K. Hamilton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Shiver of Light
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Series: Merry Gentry, #9
Pages: 372
Publisher: Berkley
Date: June 3, 2014

Summary:

I am Princess Meredith NicEssus. Legal name Meredith Gentry, because “Princess” looks so pretentious on a driver’s license. I was the first faerie princess born on American soil, but I wouldn’t be the only one for much longer…

Merry Gentry, ex–private detective, now full-time princess, knew she was descended from fertility goddesses, but when she learned she was about to have triplets, she began to understand what that might mean. Infertility has plagued the high ranks of faerie for centuries. Now nobles of both courts of faerie are coming to court Merry and her men, at their home in exile in the Western Lands of Los Angeles, because they will do anything to have babies of their own.

Taranis, King of Light and Illusion, is a more dangerous problem. He tried to seduce Merry and, failing that, raped her. He’s using the human courts to sue for visitation rights, claiming that one of the babies is his. And though Merry knows she was already pregnant when he took her, she can’t prove it.

To save herself and her babies from Taranis she will use the most dangerous powers in all of faerie: a god of death, a warrior known as the Darkness, the Killing Frost, and a king of nightmares. They are her lovers, and her dearest loves, and they will face down the might of the high courts of faerie—while trying to keep the war from spreading to innocent humans in Los Angeles, who are in danger of becoming collateral damage.

Review:

So far, this is the last of the Meredith Gentry books and I NEED another one. It’s been two years since its publication and that is way too long. At the very least, I need a hint that there is going to be another book and when it will be released.

Can you tell I love this series? I am a longtime fan of LKH’s Anita Blake series, but I wonder sometimes if I don’t like this one even more. They are set in completely different worlds, but both series are wonderful.

Now I’m trying to decide what I can say without spoilers. The book has been out for over two years as I said, so it shouldn’t be a problem, but . . .
Nope. No spoilers. I can’t do that to you.

And without spoilers, I can’t really say much about the content of the book. There are a tremendous amount of subplots going on.

Taranis and Andais are causing problems, so nothing new there. Although, Andais is trying to form a relationship that will allow her access to the babies. Merry’s relationships with her men seem to be solidifying. The Goddess is still strongly in support of Merry and her Court and new Faery land continues to appear.

It sounds like things are working out as well as they ever have for Merry, which is not really all that peaceful, but this is Merry’s world.

And then there is the end of the book.

Nope. Not saying a word. You have to read it.

And you will be like me . . . when are we getting another book?!?

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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1001 Islands by K. T. Munson

1001 Islands1001 Islands by K.T. Munson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: 1001 Islands
Author: K. T. Munson
Series: n/a
Pages: 196
Publisher: CreateSpace
Date: July 27, 2015

Summary:

The sliver of moonlight cast eerie shadows across the deck of The Dark Revenge. The Silence at the helm stood embracing the obscurity. His foreboding presence matched the anticipation aboard the ship, and no one spoke for fear they would break the stillness that encompassed them.

Tonight, everything changed.

The Dark Revenge gained on the Regatta. The raiders said nothing but he could hear the shuffle of taut female clothing and the tension in the air. It hadn’t sensed their existence, and drifted like heedless prey. Princess Roxana slept, unsuspecting of what was hunting her in the inky blackness of the night.

There was only one thing on the minds of The Silence’s crew as they drew near; Hang the Kings, Crown the People.

Review:

My opinion of this book changed throughout the reading. At first I didn’t care for it simply because each of the beginning chapters focussed on a different character/situation. I figured they would all come together eventually, but I still found it confusing. I didn’t like the feeling that I need to be taking notes to keep everyone straight.

However, when the plots did come together, it was wonderful. I really liked all of the “good guys” and the “bad guys” all came to a bad end (pun intended). The female characters were strong even if they had been taught they were not supposed to be. The male characters were also strong, but not obnoxious with it. At least, the good guys weren’t.

There was a plot twist in the character’s roles that I did not see coming and I really appreciated. It made perfect sense once it became apparent, but I was totally blindsided up until the reveal.

It’s hard to define the genre. It’s definitely science fiction because it takes place on another planet . . . or is it just another world, one where witches and elementals exist which would make it fantasy? It’s almost historical because of the methods of travel and way of life of the characters. It is definitely an adventure novel (there are pirates after all) with a little bit of romance thrown in.

Like I said, it’s hard to define.

What it is though is good. I enjoyed reading it. I liked the protagonists. I like the way the plot worked out for everyone.

But, . . .

the ending is abrupt . . .

and the author acknowledges that in the notes. She said there is a possibility of further adventures which is all well and good,

but . . .

I don’t like to be left hanging and it reduced my enjoyment of the book.

Read it. The ending is not a cliffhanger; it just doesn’t go far enough to suit me.

This book was sent to me by the author in return for an honest review.

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The Kiss by Emma C. Shortt

Title:  The Kiss*
Author: Emma C. Shortt
Series: N/A
Genre:  Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Format: digital e-book
Date/Year:  May 2011
Reviewed by: ElaineReads

*This book was provided to the reviewer by the author for review

Summary from the publisher:

When Eva Diakou is offered a job on the Winterwood estate, she expects nothing but four months of back breaking work. Jobless and lonely, she has little choice but to accept. But things on the Winterwood estate are nothing like Eva was led to believe. Why has she been given one of the plushest rooms? Why is there nothing to do? And why is she so captivated by the strange statues adorning the estate?Adam Winterwood is paying for a crime he never committed. Trapped for so many years, he is waiting for the one person who can keep him alive…or set him free. When Adam and Eva meet, sparks fly. Yet, neither realizes the sacrifice they will both have to make.

And it will all be decided by The Kiss.

My Musings:

I have a policy of not reading book blurbs because I have been burned with spoilers before.  This is, of course, only for books I know I am going to read regardless of the blurb.Anyway, I had no idea this book had a fantasy element to it.  The fact that it does makes it just that much better to me.  I was a little confused at first because the book switches from present day to the 1800s with no explanation.  Although I was able to figure out what was going on after a couple of chapters, I think that aspect could have been handled better.

At the beginning of the book, I really felt that Eva was going to be one of those TSTL (too stupid to live)  heroines.  She agrees to take a job on a distant estate where she will have no contact with the outside world for four months.  The interviewer questions her on whether there is any family or friends who will miss her or need to contact her while she is gone . . . and she tells her NO!  Fortunately, it does work out for the best.

Adam and Eva (I cannot believe that allusion) are in lust with each other from their first meeting.  The sex scenes are hot, but pretty vanilla.  Adam definitely has a romantic side as well.  If anything, Eva is the one being ruled by her hormones.

There is a witch’s curse and true love is the only way to break it.  Maybe I should have classified this book as a fairy tale more than fantasy.

Either way, I really enjoyed it.  The plot line was unique, the sex was hot, and the hero was built like a god.

What’s not to like?

Ratings:

Overall: 4 stars
Sensuality level: 4

(crossposted from Seductive Musings)

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Filed under Contemporary, Erotica, Fantasy, Historical, Regency, Romance

The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal

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Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia’s led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when it’s revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she’s ever known.

Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins – long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control – she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl.

Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor’s history, forever. (from Goodreads)

This is the first of the 2011 Teens’ Top Ten books I have read this summer and it is a wonderful beginning.  Halfway through the book, I had to stop and email the author to tell her how much I was enjoying the book.

There is mystery and romance, magic and (a little bit of) swordplay.  The setting appears to be roughly Medieval European, although that is just a guess.

This is a debut novel and yes the author’s first name is spelled correctly, Eilis.

I think the book will be a standalone.  There is room for a sequel, but I don’t believe it needs one.

It is very odd to read a standalone novel anymore, particularly fantasy.  Although I don’t think there will be a sequel, I will certainly look for any other books by this author.  I truly enjoyed it.

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The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp (Alfred Kropp, #1) by Rick Yancey

Alfred KroppAlfred Kropp was just trying to survive high school when his guardian uncle gets him roped into a suspicious get-rich-quick scheme that changes his life forever: stealing Excalibur—the legendary sword of King Arthur. But after Alfred unwittingly delivers the sword into the hands of a man with enormously evil intentions, he sets off on an unlikely quest to try to right his wrong and save the world from imminent destruction. This gripping, fast-paced, hilarious novel is both a thrilling adventure story and an engaging account of one boy’s coming of age. (from Goodreads)

I have been meaning to read this book for several years, but it never made it to the top of my “to be read” stack.  I am glad that I finally took the time to dig it out.  I learned several things about the King Arthur legend that I did not know and met a character that is not strong, handsome, or particularly smart, but he does try to do what is right.  I guess that is what we should all do.

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Two Blondes (Sookie Stackhouse) by Charlaine Harris in Death’s Excellent Vacation anthology

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Pam and Sookie go on “vacation” to run an errand for Eric.  In the process, they end up having to work briefly as exotic dancers.  I don’t really have a problem seeing Pam doing that, but Sookie has so little self-confidence, I am surprised at how easily she took to it.

This story involves just Sookie and Pam.  It would make absolutely no sense to someone who was not following the series already, but I have a feeling it is going to be important to the story line later.

I have mixed feelings about short stories as part of a series.  I am thrilled to get anything new to read while waiting for the next book, but I find it hard to keep track of the in-between stories.  I can’t really shelve them with the series because they contain stories by a number of authors.  How do I number them, so I know there is something in between two books?  I use half numbering now (3.5 for example), but if the books are not shelved together that does not really help.

I think Charlaine Harris recently released a collection of all the stories, but that means I am buying everything twice . . . not to mention, it is already out of date with the release of this new books.  Problems, problems, problems.

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Into the Dreaming (Highlander, #8) by Karen Marie Moning

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Aspiring romance novelist Jane Sillee was completely in love with her fantasy man—the hot and strapping dark-haired Highlander who’d been coming to her in her dreams for years and inspired her sensual flights of literary fancy.

But is was more than her imagination that conjured up the brilliantly woven tapestry sporting the spitting image of her magnificently arrogant warrior. It was more than than a dream that transported her to medieval Scotland to break an evil spell. And it was more than she could handle when she found herself wrapped in the muscular arms of Aedan MacKinnon, who had his own fantasies to fulfill…

This book was a re-read for me.  I love Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander series and this was the last one published.  It was released in 2006, so I guess there are no plans for another one.  Anyway, she has another series called Fever.  I thought it was a spin off of the Highlanders and wanted to refresh my memory of the book.  It turns out that they have nothing to do with each other.

Into the Dreaming is actually a novella with only 112 pages.  It is amazing the emotion she can pack into such a short book.  All the things Aedan lived through at the hands of the Unseelie king were heartbreaking.

I did feel that there was room for another story.  There were enough references to his family that I felt like the plot was leading up to something that never came to pass.

I did not particularly care for the ending with the Seelie queen and Unseelie king, but it was not totally unforeseen.

Anyone else catch the play on Jane’s last name?

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Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

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I rarely if ever choose to not finish a book, but I made an exception for this one.  After the first few pages, I told my husband I did not like the book.  I needed to read it though because it is a Young Adult novel and I am a YA librarian.

After 160 pages of forcing myself to read and it just did not get any better, I quit!  I think there were three different worlds intersecting, but I am not completely sure.  I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction, so the different worlds was not an issue.  They just didn’t make sense in this book.

I originally picked up the book based on a recommendation from a blog I follow.  I wish I could remember which one, so I would know to hesitate before taking another of their recommendations.

I rarely react this negatively to a book.  At least I can give it the compliment of saying it elicited a strong reaction.

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