Book Review: The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

alchemists of loomThe Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

Published by Keymaster Press on January 10, 2017

Genres: Fantasy, Steampunk

Pages: 380 – hardcover & ebook

Format Read: paperback ARC

Rating: 4 stars

Source: Keymaster Press

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Blurb:

Her vengeance. His vision.

Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.

Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.

When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.

He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.


Review:

*Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacted my views and opinions below.*

Wow. It’s a known fact that Elise Kova’s Air Awakens series is one of my all-time favorite books. So you’d understand why I had doubts about going into a whole new world (without Vhalla & Aldrik!) Fortunately, these doubts were unfounded. This was an extremely captivating book, and it was nothing like Air Awakens! I was blown away by the complexity of the world & characters. The imagination and creativity needed must’ve been off the charts! Round of applause to Elise!

When I first started reading, I may have struggled a bit to get past the first 10-20% of the book. This was probably because it took a while to familiarize myself with the world & its characters. Seriously, when I say the world was complex, I mean it. It’s overwhelming to a reader who usually sticks to YA Fantasy. This is high fantasy. However, when I got past the beginning & really started to connect to the characters, I was hooked. The book is told in the alternating POVs of Arianna, Cvareh, and Florence (and occasionally, Leona).

Don’t expect the characters in this book to be the warm, heroic type, because they certainly aren’t. They all come from different backgrounds and have their own agendas. Everyone is cutthroat as hell. I really grew to love everyone, though. Especially Arianna. The way Arianna’s character is written at the beginning makes it hard for the reader to really connect with or even like her. However, as the story unfolds, we get glimpses into her past which really helps the reader put together a clearer picture of Ari. In a way, she reminded me of Celaena from ToG and Arya Stark from GoT.

My favorite thing about this book is the slow burn relationship of Ari and Cvareh. I’m a sucker for the enemies-to-reluctant-friends-to-lovers(¿) trope. I loved how hot and cold Ari’s attitude was toward Cvareh at times and I absolutely loved how Cvareh wasn’t having any of Ari’s shit. Their relationship dynamic was really intense & complicated. There are obviously still quite a few secrets between them; I’m excited to see where they’re headed in the next book! They’re no Vhalla and Aldrik, but I still absolutely adored them.

Of course, Ari & Cvareh’s isn’t the only amazing relationship. The dynamic between Cvareh, Florence, and Ari was phenomenal; I loved reading their interactions! They all have such different personalities that really shine through on the page. Such well-rounded, dimensional characters!

This book wouldn’t be what it is without the extraordinary plot and worldbuilding. The wonderfully set up atmosphere of the story, combined with the extremely detailed world, made for a kickass story. Elise really outdid herself with the worldbuilding in this one. The writing also contributed to the excellent worldbuilding. It really helped further immerse the reader into the story. It was excellent, as per usual.

In conclusion, if you’re a fantasy or steampunk fan, then The Alchemists of Loom is sure to delight you. This is a world where the magical and the mechanical collide. Although it took me a while to acclimate to it, the world is wonderfully built and the atmosphere is wonderfully set up. The characters are very dimensional, with distinct personalities that really shine through on the page. Also, their relationship dynamics were very intriguing to read about. The Alchemists of Loom has it all — a highly intelligent, unapologetic protagonist, an action-filled plot, an elaborate world, and superb writing. I’m so glad Elise Kova blessed us with this!

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Rating: 4 fish!

4 fish

 

Book Review: Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

of-fire-n-stars

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Published by Balzer + Bray on November 22, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT Romance

Pages: 389 – hardcover, 400 – ebook

Format Read: paperback ARC

Rating: 2 stars

Source: HarperCollins

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Blurb:

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine—called Mare—the sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two become closer, Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. And soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.


Review:

Thanks to the publisher, HarperCollins, for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacted my views and opinions.

Honestly, the f/f romance is the only thing that intrigued me about this book. If it weren’t for the romance, I probably would have skimmed right past this book and onto the next one. It’s that unmemorable. The most frustrating thing in the whole entire world is reading a book with such.good.potential. I didn’t even have any expectations and this book managed to let them down.

Firstly, what irked me the most was the complete, utter lack of character depth. This isn’t like in most books, where only the secondary characters lack complexity. Here, even our main protagonists are as shallow as a kiddies pool. Denna was so incredibly boring. I’m glad hers is not the only POV, because I might not have been able to finish the book otherwise. It’s obvious Denna is meant to be the “good” one, with repeated mentions of how sweet-tempered, polite, and intelligent she is. The literal embodiment of a princess. Mare, on the other hand, is the “wild” princess; she’s fiery, tomboyish, and disobedient, as is repeatedly stated every few chapters. I liked their relationship and how it progressed from enemies to friends to lovers, but I did feel like there was certainly an element of unnecessary angst. The forbidden romance wasn’t even “forbidden”. The ‘I-love-you-but-I-can’t-be-with-you’ trope was heavily employed as a means to further the plot’s angst, which was very annoying.

Aside from Mare and Denna, literally no one else is worth mentioning. The secondary characters are even more unmemorable and shallow than the main characters. What even was their purpose? I wouldn’t even be able to tell you their personalities, because they have none!! Go ahead, ask me their names. I guarantee you, the only name I’d be able to recall is Mare. She’s the only character who was on the right track to being properly fleshed out.

The second thing that bothered me about this book was the insane amount of plot holes and nonexistent world-building. We’re plunged into this world with no knowledge of the political and cultural workings of the land we are in, and no knowledge of the magical system there — something about ambient magic and a siphon and a silver bowl was dropped three-fourths through the book, what is all that? Also, why do the Mynarians hate magic? Who are these ‘Six’ that everyone keeps running around and cursing? Why is there even a need for a political alliance between Havemont and Mynaria? Why does everyone hate the Zumordans when they’ve done nothing to you? I understand this is YA Fantasy, but I’m not expecting Game of Thrones level world-building. Is it too much to ask for at least some semblance of an explanation for the world we’re plunged into? Unfortunately, this book reads like it was written for a much more juvenile audience that wouldn’t care much for character complexity and world-building.

Thirdly, nothing remotely intriguing occurs in the entirety of the book! The politics were extremely yawn-inducing and the incompetence of the adults extremely frustrating. I was looking forward to Mare and Denna’s horse training, but that (like many other aspects of the book) completely fell short. Frankly, I felt like the horses were given more depth, complexity, and attention than the main characters.

In conclusion, I could go on and on about so many other disappointing aspects, such as the obvious contrivedness of some scenes and the predictability of the whole book in general. Of Fire and Stars is a book that had great potential with its f/f romance, but failed to follow through on that potential. Lack of character complexity, one-dimensional relationships, nonexistent world-building, and a tedious plot are mainly what ruined this book for me and many others who had eagerly anticipated this read.

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2 fish

Book Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

tdcThree Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Published by HarperTeen on September 20, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Pages: 398 – hardcover, 416 – paperback & ebook

Format Read: eARC

Rating: 2 stars

Source: HarperCollins

BUY LINKS

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Blurb:

Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.


Review:

Many thanks to the publisher, HarperCollins, for providing me with an ARC of this book. This in no way impacted my views and opinions below.

I know a lot of people have been looking forward to this book, myself being one of them, but I just- couldn’t. Three Dark Crowns had an interesting premise and lots of potential, but it unfortunately failed to live up to it. I would’ve thought that my dislike of this book was because of my reading slump (gosh darn it, school) if I hadn’t seen quite a few reviews complaining about it, too. I never DNF books, and yet I was VERY tempted to do so for this book. It was just.so.boring! While I was reading the book, I actually looked up a few spoiler free reviews to see if anyone struggled as much as I did. I found a few, but they said that it gets interesting near the very end (“with a mind-boggling plot twist!!1!” they said). So I skimmed to the last few pages, and read the “plot twist” and all I thought was Okay? That’s it?? I was just soo frustrated that I wasted all this time on this book.

My main issue with this book is that it’s just so tedious and boring. We have three main POVs from three triplet queens – each with her own unique power. Katharine is a poisoner, Arsinoe, a naturalist, and Mirabella, an elemental. They can’t get the throne merely by royal birth – no, they have to fight each other to the death in order to get it, and the last one standing becomes Queen until she produces triplets and so on. You’d think that with 3 main characters and 3 POVs I’d enjoy at least one of them, right? Wrong. I didn’t look forward to any of the POVs, and I literally didn’t care about any of the aforementioned characters. There’s Jules, Arsinoe’s best friend, though. I didn’t hate her as much as the other characters, but I just wish she was developed a bit more. She deserves so much better!

Since we’re on the topic of characters, let’s take a moment to talk about the love triangle. Yes, yes, I hear y’all groaning. I usually don’t despise love triangles as much as the rest of the book community seems to do, but this one, you guys, this one. I’m internally screaming in frustration just thinking about it. YOU HAD A PERFECTLY GOOD COUPLE, BUT NOO, YOU JUST HAD TO TURN IT INTO AN UGLY ASS INSTA-LOVE TRIANGLE. Add to that the fact that the love triangle includes cheating? Um, I’m out. I’m not going to post major spoilers, but if you typically dislike love triangles, then this definitely isn’t for you. Also, much like the rest of the book, the romance in this book was very dull. There was no spark between the characters and their love interests, and I frankly couldn’t care less about any of them.

Okay, so let’s talk about the actual plot of this book. The reason I haven’t talked about it earlier is as follows: it’s practically nonexistent for the first 80% of the book. Seriously, for a story about sisters having to kill each other for the throne, the action was seriously lacking. The pacing was slow, and the atmosphere was very quiet and restrained. This book was in desperate need of a healthy dose of bloodletting and politics. It may have picked up toward the very end, but that still doesn’t make up for the lack of plot in the first place.

In short, I don’t think Three Dark Crowns lived up to its hype. I tried to find something positive to add to this review, but I couldn’t, so that’s saying something. The three main characters were just there, serving no purpose whatsoever, and the pacing of this book was extremely tedious. Plus, the terribly executed love triangle certainly doesn’t get any bonus points in my book. It’s frustrating thinking about what this book could have been because the premise and cover are absolutely stunning. I may be the black sheep amongst the tons of reviews praising this book, but this just wasn’t for me.

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2 fish

Book Review: Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

Stealing Snow by Danielle PaigeImage result for stealing snow

Published by Bloomsbury Childrens on September 20, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling

Pages: 384– hardcover, paperback

Format Read: paperback ARC

Rating: 4 stars

Source: Bloomsbury UK

BUY LINKS

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Blurb: 

Seventeen-year-old Snow lives within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she doesn’t belong there, but she has no memory of life outside, except for the strangest dreams. And then a mysterious, handsome man, an orderly in the hospital, opens a door – and Snow knows that she has to leave …
She finds herself in icy Algid, her true home, with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she’s destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change everything. Heroine or villain, queen or broken girl, frozen heart or true love, Snow must choose her fate …


Review:

Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacted my views and opinions below.

I’ve been seeing so many mixed reviews about this, and the hype’s pretty big, too. It’s safe to say that my encounter this book has gone really well! The premise of the book captured my attention from the get-go; I love fairy tale retellings, and I haven’t seen many Snow Queen ones. Danielle Paige manages to weave the fairy tale retelling into the plot wonderfully, resulting in a very magical story. I definitely gobbled up the pages! This book actually helped me stave off an impending reading slump after Empire of Storms. I needed a fantasy, but not a heavy one, and this magical fairy tale retelling was just it!

When I first started reading, I admit I was a bit thrown off by the writing. I expected beautiful imagery & words to match the beautiful cover, but the writing was subpar, to say the least?¿ It confused me at times, but I finally got used to it.

My favorite thing about the book is the protagonist, Snow. She’s a very refreshing protagonist. Most books with Princess MC’s make them selfless and self-sacrificing, which is great, but not realistic. Snow, on the other hand, is selfish, and doesn’t want to be who she is, because honestly, who would want to discover that they are a legendary princess with a psychotic, ruthless father who wants to have utter control of the country? Not Snow, that’s for sure.

The plot of the story is very fast-paced, which actually worked really well. We’re introduced to the world in very small snippets. The world building isn’t a gradual, steady incline, it’s a jigsaw puzzle slowly being pieced together.Most people might think this is messy, but it actually worked really well. This isn’t a regular fantasy story, you have to piece together the world yourself, so keep that in mind while reading. There’s also an aura of mystery around the story. We’re introduced to many characters, and most of the time, it’s a question of “Who can I trust?” It’s very intriguing.

What I see most people being annoyed about is the love square. I do agree that the idea of Snow falling for a guy over the span of a few days is laughable, but that didn’t stop me from feeling all the feels! I really like *the love interests*, and I hope they’re developed more in the next book.

Overall, this book has a very pacy plot with just the right amount of intrigue & mystery. The romance was a bit unnecessary, but enjoyable. Snow is a great, kickass protagonist and the secondary characters are all memorable.This book definitely has it all: heists! magic! potions! beasts! thievery!! I cannot wait for the sequel!

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Rating: 4 fish

4 fish

Book Review: ReMade by Matthew Cody, Kiersten White, E.C. Myers… & more!

So, as you may have already gathered, this review is a bit different from any of my other ones. I was given the opportunity to review a unique YA serial called ReMade. Team-written by some of today’s most popular YA authors, ReMade is brought to you by Matthew Cody (Super), Andrea Phillips (Revision), Kiersten White (And I Darken), Gwenda Bond (Girl on a Wire), Carrie Harris (Bad Taste in Boys), and E. C. Myers (The Silence of Six). ReMade is Serial Box’s first YA serial; it’s like a TV show, with episodes being released every week building up to the season finale. Season One will unfold across 15 episodes beginning September 14th , with a new installment dropping every Wednesday until the season finale on December 21st.


Blurb:

You live. You love. You die. Now RUN. ReMade.

Every minute, 108 people die.
On October 14th, 2016, from 9:31-9:32 p.m. EDT, 23 of those deaths will be teenagers.
Now they are humanity’s last hope for survival.

Awakened in a post-apocalyptic world and hunted by mechanical horrors, these teens search for answers amidst the ruins of civilization. Fate, love, and loyalty face off in this adrenaline -pumping YA adventure.

I received ARCs of the first 3 episodes, so below, I will be giving my thoughts on each episode as I read it followed by my overall review at the end. Here we go!


remade-1 ReMade [Season 1 Episode 1]: Shadows and Dreams

Rating: 4 stars

Thoughts: I think the first episode of ReMade really started out with a bang. It managed to grab my attention from the beginning ’till the very end. I was so curious to find out what’s going on, so A+ for the intrigue!This sure is a great start to the rest of the season! Also, I can totally picture the characters and imagine the descriptions realllly well. The succinct writing style helped with that. I can totally picture this as an actual TV show!

 

 



remade-2ReMade [Season 1 Episode 2]: Hungry

Rating: 4 stars

Thoughts: Just finished another episode of ReMade and it was just as engaging as the first! We’re introduced to another POV character, May, and get to know her and her backstory better. This just made me even more excited to continue on with the series. There are soo many possible explanations and theories about what’s going on! The story’s concept is very interesting. So far, this is actually slightly reminiscent of The 100, which BTW is my fave TV show ever! Y’know, a bunch of teenagers dropping down from space with no idea why, and trying to survive in the wilderness by themselves. Also, since this is probably going to be told from the POVs of many narrators, I’m really excited to learn more about the other teenagers!


remade-3ReMade [Season 1 Episode 3]: Home, Perilous Home

Rating: 4 stars

Thoughts: So, this episode is from yet another author and yet another narrator, and boy do I love her! I think Nevaeh is my favorite character so far! I love the inclusion of diverse characters and how all the POV characters we got so far are extremely relatable! I’m still really curious to know what the hell happened, but unfortunately I only have ARCs for the first 3 episodes, haha.

 


Review:

Everything about this digital serial is interesting. The fact that it’s basically a TV show in book format with new “episodes” being released every week? Uh, sign me right up! Each episode takes about 30-40 minutes to read, just like an actual TV show. At first, I wasn’t sure how I’d be able to get into the story in such a short amount of pages, but by the time I started reading, all my worries were forgotten!

The story starts out with a very intriguing premise. A bunch of teenagers wake up in an abandoned post-apocalyptic civilization, with no idea how they got there. What they all have in common? They’re all pretty sure they died in their “past life”. Hunted by metal spider creature thingies, they must figure out a way to survive in this world and find out what the hell is going on.

Now, this may sound like a typical YA post-apocalyptic/dystopian story, but it didn’t feel like it to me. It was refreshing, and not once did it feel like a cliché. Each episode introduces us to a new character, while at the same time furthering the plot and world-building. I genuinely enjoyed reading this! Since each book is so short, there’s a lot of pressure to make it engaging and interesting, and it definitely did not fail in that. My attention was captured in the pilot from the very beginning!

The pacing of the story is also great; it matches the story’s theme and tone. From what I’ve read so far, there’s a lot of mystery in the tone, which really pulls you in to keep reading in order to find out what’s going on. The writing’s vivid, but succinct, enabling you to easily picture what’s happening.

In short, I think the episodic nature of this serial definitely works for me. The premise is compelling, and the plot so far sets a high bar for the remaining episodes. The writing quality is superb, which makes the story even easier to get into. Each POV character we are introduced to has a distinct voice, making them very relatable. I would buy a subscription to the series, for sure!

Jump into this digital serial, available in both text and audio, and find out what the future of fiction holds.

You can purchase a subscription to the series, and have each episode downloaded automatically, or buy each episode individually. Episodes are available on the Serial Box App, at www.serialbox.com/remade, or wherever ebooks are sold.

Rating: 4 fish!

4 fish

 

 

Book Review: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

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Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Published by Sourcebooks Fire on September 6, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Pages: 336 – hardcover, paperback, & ebook

Format Read: eARC

Rating: 3 stars

Source: NetGalley

BUY LINKS

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Blurb:

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…


Review:

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This in no way impacted my views and opinions below.*

Alright, so I went into this book with no prior knowledge of anything except for what I gleaned from the synopsis. Imagine my (pleasant) surprise when I discover that not only is there f/f representation, but also a WHOLE POC CAST. Um, have I died and gone to heaven?? It also really helped that the story makes you want to keep flipping pages by sucking you into this highly original fantasy world. So, you might be wondering…. Despite the above, why did I choose to give this 3 stars?

My main issue with this book lies with the execution of the story. You know that feeling when you’re starting a new book and you know nothing about the world? You’re still getting used to it as the author slowly immerses you into it page by page, and eventually, your confusion fades until your familiar with the book. Well, in the case of Labyrinth Lost, I was still stuck in that confused phase for the majority of the book. You’ve got all these ideal elements like an amazing premise, a wonderful setting, and an even better background, but… they just weren’t executed properly. The story lacked a certain order to it; it was like a mishmash of plot ideas. This greatly dulled it’s ‘spark’, leaving me very disenchanted.

Furthermore, I had a teeny issue with the Rishi + Alex pairing. You see, Rishi and Alex were supposed to be this AMAZING couple. We should have been more invested in them, since they already had an established friendship, but sadly I didn’t feel anything. No chemistry at all. I’m all for LGBT+ representation, but there should have been more work put into Rishi and Alex’s relationship. However, a relationship that was actually focused on was Nova and Alex. We actually have a clear progression of their relationship from the moment they meet. I found myself rooting for Nova most of the time; he’s very intriguing. I just hope Rishi’s character is developed as well in the next book.

OH, and was it just me or did this read like an MG book at times? It kinda had this whimsical feel to it. Still, the world was great and so original & unique. Kudos!

In short, this book has tons of potential. With a highly original premise and inventive world, it’s bound to keep you reading ’till the very end. Seriously, the momentum’s great. Bonus points for the LGBT+ and POC rep! However, the story just lacked this sense of clarity because of the execution. There are a lot of relationships and characterizations that could’ve been done in a better way. Due to that, I felt like it was teeming with plot holes. This was good read, but here’s to hoping that the next book will be even better! I believe in you!

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Rating: 3 fish

3 fish

Blog Tour: Legacy of Truth by Christy Nicholas + Giveaway

MediaKit_BookCover_LegacyOfTruth Legacy of Truth by Christy Nicholas

Published by Tirgearr Publishing on July 6, 2016

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: ebook – 358

Source: Goddess Fish Promotions

Legacy of Truth will be $0.99 during the tour. BUY IT:

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Blurb:

Gifted with a magical brooch, passed down in her family for generations, Esme finds herself isolated and ill in an unfamiliar land.

Her sister plots to steal the family heirloom from her in order to exploit the magical powers for her own gain, and Esme must battle for survival of herself and those she loves.


Excerpt:

Ardara, County Donegal, Ireland
March, 1787

Éamonn Doherty eased onto the old rocking chair beside the crackling fire. As soon as he settled, he was bombarded with children, clamoring eagerly for a story from Grandfa.

Well, it was his fault. Whenever he returned from his wanderings around the country, he would give them a story, a tale of Ireland’s past or his own.

The bairns settled onto the ground at his feet. There were Esme and Eithne, the twins, looking stark and thin with shocks of wild red hair and too many freckles to count.

“That’s my spot! I always sit there, Eithne, and you know it!”

Eithne looked at her sister and sniffed, saying nothing. She turned to Éamonn and blinked as if innocent.

Esme pushed at her sister, but Eithne was braced for it. She resisted the shove and looked back over her shoulder with disdain.

Fuming, Esme crossed her arms.

In the far corner, with her arms wrapped firmly around her knees, sat the youngest sister, wee Brighid. Everyone called her Bridey. Her solemn green eyes peered at him, owl-like. She must be about ten years old by now. And little Níaṁ wasn’t a sister, but a cousin, her parents having died of a fever. A brown wren, she was plump and sweet, still a toddler.

Éamonn would have preferred some grandsons to pass his stories to, but his son and daughter-in-law, Brian and Shona, had given him only granddaughters thus far. Still, he loved them dearly. His two other children were both dedicated to the church, so Brian was his last hope for grandsons. Éamonn looked at the girls and decided perhaps a story of a manly hero might do them for the night.

He fixed his eyes on wee Níaṁ until she giggled nervously. He tousled up his thick white hair until it looked like a lion and she laughed. Smiling, he began.

“Tonight our tale will begin with a hero of great fame, for who has never heard of Fionn Mac Cumhaill, leader of the Fianna, Warriors of Ireland?”

Timidly, Bridey raised her hand.

Interrupted, Éamonn cocked his head. “Yes, child? What is it, my dear?”

“I haven’t heard of him, Grandfa.”

Éamonn closed his eyes, reaching for patience. The children weren’t to know what a rhetorical question was.

“That’s all right, mo chuisle. I will be telling you now, so?”

The girl nodded and wrapped her hands more tightly around her knees until she was just a pair of feet, arms and a curly mass of red hair sparkling in the firelight. For a moment, Éamonn went back in time, to the memory of his dear, long-dead wife, Katie. She had hair such as that, wild and bright. The windows rattled as the wind outside picked up. The children all shifted uncomfortably.

“The Fianna were a band of warriors, pledged to protect the shores of Ireland from foreigners. Fionn’s father was the leader of the Fianna, so he had his son raised by a warrior woman. Have you ever seen a warrior woman, Eithne?”

“I have!” The girl was the boldest of the lot. “There is a woman who hunts up in Bunbeg. I heard Alan say she came into his dad’s bakery one day!”

“I heard that first! He told me first.” Esme said.

“Girls, that’s enough. Would you like to know about this warrior woman?”

It did the trick. All four children looked up at him, expectant.

He grinned and got back into the rhythm of his tale.

“This great woman was called Liath Luachra, and she was tall, with long muscles and longer hair. Her brown hair she kept in thin braids, which went all the way down to her knees. She was a fierce warrior, always clad in skins and furs, and she taught Fionn all her arts. When he had learned all he could from her, he left to join the Fianna.

“But the Fianna knew him for his father’s son and worried for his youth and safety. They told him he must leave, and they could not protect him from harm. This angered Fionn, so he left in a temper. After his temper had cooled, he sought out a Druid to learn wisdom. The Druid he found was named Finnegas. Finnegas spent seven years trying to catch the Salmon of Knowledge, and he had just caught the fish before Fionn found him. It roasted on the fire, and Finnegas told Fionn to watch it while he got more firewood.

“Fionn watched the fish, watched it bubble and pop, sizzle and squeak.”

Níaṁ let out a squeak of her own to help with the sound effects.

“He saw a great blister form on the skin of the salmon, growing larger and larger, about to pop. He pressed his thumb to it to push it back down so the skin wouldn’t be blemished. As he did so, his skin burned, so he stuck his thumb in his mouth.” Éamonn demonstrated with his finger and looked around until each child did the same.

“But he had done a terrible thing, now.”

“What was so horrible, Grandfa?” Bridey asked with wide eyes. “All he did was touch the fish!” She replaced the thumb in her mouth absent-mindedly.

“Ah, that is true. But, you see, Fionn was the first to taste of the flesh of the Salmon of Knowledge, and it meant he now had all the Salmon’s great wisdom. Finnegas was furious and chased him out with a club, but Fionn now had the knowledge and wisdom he needed to lead the Fianna fairly.”

All the girls watched him for the end of the tale.

“In the end, he controlled his own fate, and therefore could make himself happy. That’s all that any one of us can do, aye?”

When Níaṁ realized the tale was over, she belatedly removed her thumbs from her mouth. As she did, he picked her up into his lap and rocked in front of the fire with her. She was a solid, warm little child. Brian might not be able to make his farm work well, but he at least kept his children fed.

He sang a sad, low song of lost love and broken promises until each child fell asleep on the soft, white wings of fantasy.


Review:

Historical fiction is always a genre that I enjoy reading. I’ve never disliked a book from the genre before, and that sure isn’t the case now. This book’s rich depiction of Irish folklore and attention to detail is what makes it such a captivating read.

From the get go, we are introduced to our characters – and boy are they unforgettable. The characterization is extremely well done, and I found myself rooting for (and against) many. Our MC, Esme, has near-impossible odds stacked against her and I absolutely love how she perseveres despite that. The secondary characters all have distinct voices that reach you through the page, and that made for a very rich story.

The world building was done in a very subtle and gradual manner, allowing the reader to slowly immerse themselves into the story. I totally devoured this book in two sittings! Also, the plot was intriguing and drama-filled, but I did think that the beginning of the story took a while to find its footing. After that, however, everything kept going uphill.

In short, this was a masterfully written story with an enthralling, drama-filled plot that’ll keep you on your toes ’till the very end. The Irish aspects of the story were incorporated really well and the characters had very distinct voices. This is the second book in the Druid’s Brooch series. I haven’t read the first book yet, but if it’s anything like this one, then sign me up!

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Author Bio:

MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_LegacyOfTruth.jpg Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon, has her hands in many crafts, including writing, digital art, beaded jewelry, writing, and photography. In real life, she’s a CPA, but having grown up with art all around her (her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are/were all artists), it sort of infected her, as it were. She loves to draw and to create things. She says it’s more of an obsession than a hobby. She likes looking up into the sky and seeing a beautiful sunset, or seeing a fragrant blossom or a dramatic seaside. She takes a picture or creates a piece of jewelry as her way of sharing this serenity, this joy, this beauty with others. Sometimes this sharing requires explanation – and thus she writes. Combine this love of beauty with a bit of financial sense and you get an art business. She does local art and craft shows, as well as sending her art to various science fiction conventions throughout the country and abroad.

Links:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/greendragonauthor
Homepage: www.greendragonartist.com
Blog: www.greendragonartist.net
Publisher Page: http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Nicholas_Christy/index.htm
Legacy of Truth: http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Nicholas_Christy/legacy-of-truth.htm


Giveaway:

Christy Nicholas will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter to win a $15 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

Make sure you follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning! The tour dates can be found here.