Review: A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay
4.5 Stars , Reviews / April 29, 2019

This is a book that is more about the human element than the bigger picture of the world. How people’s lives can be defined, shaped, altered by a single moment. It is about those passing moments and memories. There are no guarantees in life, just because you feel something should be doesn’t mean it will happen or be that way. This book is full of danger, excitement, betrayal and love. Kay continues to prove his skill at storytelling is on a different level from most authors. Within the first hour of reading this book I was quickly reminded that even though I know I love reading Guy Gavriel Kay’s books, reading a new one is a fresh and strong reminder of how much I love them and why. I had a hard time putting this book down because I just kept wanting more, I was invested in the characters, their lives and the potential I could immediately see in them and the story. I wanted to see where things would end up. There is a decent size cast of characters and perspectives in this and I loved reading each character’s individual story. I feel like every character was important and…

Review: The Unbound Empire by Melissa Caruso
4.5 Stars , Reviews / April 22, 2019

It’s always bittersweet when a series you enjoy comes to end. The Unbound Empire was no exception for me. The book was full of action, drama, dire threats against the empire, and balanced with great friendships (and yes, romances) that all left me a happy reader. I enjoy Caruso’s books because for me they strike a great balance of being very easy to read and interesting plot. Sometimes as books get more complex, they get longer and sometimes slower to read because there is more to take in. And sometimes when books are “easy” to read, it can feel like there’s not much there, you just enjoy the ride as it happens. I feel like Caruso is in between. It’s not overly complex. The bad guys are bad guys (well, except Witch Lords who are originally seen as “bad” are given a different light with Kathe), but the antagonist, Lord Ruven, is definitely just a “bad guy”. There’s not really any shades of grey with him, but there doesn’t need to be. The other characters in the book have enough complexity in them to feel like they are more than just caricatures (which is something I often notice in books…

Review: Cold Iron by Miles Cameron
4.5 Stars , Reviews / October 22, 2018

So, I want to lead with that I really enjoyed Cameron’s The Red Knight, However, while there were parts of it that I loved, there were also areas where it seemed to lag and there were so many characters that even for an epic fantasy, it felt hard to keep up with all of them at times. So even though I wound up loving the story over all, the pacing issues in Red Knight caused the sequels to fall down my priority enough that I never managed to make the time to read them. Cold Iron is a completely different read from The Red Knight. It had absolutely none of those pacing issues I experienced in Red Knight and is a simpler story structure since there is just a single POV, which always helps quite a bit. I by no means mean that this is a simple story. Just that with a smaller cast and with the single perspective, there are not breaks in the flow as you switch from one character’s story line to another’s. It was straight and to the point, we met and learned about our protagonist, Aranthur, and experienced his journey through the book. This is a…

Review: The Defiant Heir by Melissa Caruso
4.5 Stars , Reviews / April 16, 2018

I need to just start out with stating how much I love this book and series. It is a refreshing and lively fantasy that has characters that I just can’t get enough of. The entire concept of a non-magic user being tethered to someone with magic, with the ability to essentially turn their abilities on and off, and tying their lives to one another creates very interesting dynamics. Having Amalia, the heir to the Empire, also be a Falconer puts her in a really unique position. The throw in that Zaira, her falcon, is a fire mage, and things get really interesting. In the last book, we saw Amalia’s relationship with Marcello both start to bloom, but also become stifled as the reality of her duty as heir made it apparent she had to remain open to suitors that could gain the Serene Empire a political advantage. In the Defiant Heir, her relationship with Marcello is further tested and strained as an opportune suitor presents her with enormous possibility politically. It is something she can’t just dismiss. The problem? This suitor is not a normal noble, but a Witch Lord from Vaskandar. Witch Lords are the things of scary childhood…

Review: Torn by Rowenna Miller
4.5 Stars , Reviews / March 19, 2018

Torn by Rowenna Miller was just a joy to read. I loved the concept of integrating magic with sewing and quickly found myself swept away into the world and character of Sophie. She is innovative, independent and loyal, though her loyalties wind up rather divided, putting her in a hard position. This is set very much in a have/have-nots world with the elite upper class, and the lower working class. The rich have an extreme amount of control. To even attempt to start a business, one must apply for a permit and most applications are quickly denied. And if there is an existing business that you would be competition for? Don’t even think about it. It adds enormous barriers for residents to raise themselves to a better quality of life. Sophie is a minority in addition to being from the lower class part of town, but has worked hard and risen to a respectible position that serves the upper class. She even runs her own shop and even has a couple of employees, which can seem like an unattainable dream for someone with her background and position. Charms were not historically desirable in the culture she is now a part…

Audiobook Review: American War by Omar El Akkad
4.5 Stars , Reviews / February 12, 2018

American War is one of the most striking and visual books I’ve read in quite a while. It creates an almost palpable atmosphere and setting, and really immerses the reader in this world of war and plague. The writing is just absolutely beautiful, even if the world is not. The premise is America is being ravaged by a second Civil War, triggered by an oil shortage and some southern states refusing to adhere to new regulations designed to curb global warming. At the same time, the population is also being decimated by a plague. We learn about it all through the story of Sarat who is living in a camp for displaced people after her father was killed. Sarat is a very interesting character, she has a strong spirit and is not one to conform easily. She does not necessarily fit in easily, but she finds her own place and purpose and journey makes a great read. I found every page immersive and the world was quite frankly too easy to relate to or envision. This is a book that is a bit of a slow burn, but for those that appreciate a strong setting and a book that makes…

Audiobook Review: The Defiant by Lesley Livingston
4.5 Stars , Reviews / January 23, 2018

I’ll be honest, I read The Valiant by Lesley Livingston pretty much on a whim last year. It wasn’t a book that was on my radar until after it was released, which is unusual. I read a couple of glowing reviews for it for that essentially made me set my review books to the side because it sounded so good. I was glad I did because it just happened to have everything I love and in just the right amounts. I am very happy to tell you that The Defiant continues with all the strengths and excitement that made me enjoy The Valiant so much. I still love Fallon as a character. She is strong both physcially and mentally, but she is not infallible. She won the admiration and respect of Caesar at the end of the first book, and now we can see how that has impacted her life. Her rise to be favored by Caesar And known as “Victrix” gave her a decent life, but when it comes down to it, she is still a slave and not free to do as she pleases. And winning so much also puts her in the spotlight for potential enemies. Also to add…

Review: The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso
4.5 Stars , Reviews / October 19, 2017

The Tethered Mage was a very enjoyable read with an interesting magic system. Individuals in this world develop a tell tale mage-mark (a ring on their iris) as they develop their magical ability. There are different types of abilities that may manifest and some display at a younger age than others. But regardless of ability, if a child displays the mage-mark, they must be enlisted as a Falcon. A “jess” is put on their arm to control their magic. The person who places the jess on the Falcon becomes their Falconer with the ability to turn on or suppress their magical abilities with a word. While the intent is to help the Falcons maintain control (because once they lose control, there is no turning back, they become consumed in their magic), it can also be seen as a way to control those with magical abilities and use them for the empire’s purposes. They become tools for the military. Naturally, this will create some dissent. The story focuses on a pair of women joined together in an unlikely Falconer/Falcon relationship, something neither of them wanted or expected in their life. Zaira is a fire warlock, one of the most dangerous and…

Review: The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones
4.5 Stars , Reviews / October 2, 2017

I’ll cut straight to it: The Salt Line is one of my favorites for the year. The entire concept of killer ticks sounds like it could be campy or over the top. That is not at all the case. The ticks are described in such a realistic and terrifying way that it truly becomes plausible. Or at least feels plausible. The author is able to use enough facts grounded in science to create this terrifying epidemic. This book did remind me a bit of Joe Hill’s The Fireman in that way. It depicts a world that has been ravaged by some disease, where people’s ways of life are altered because of them. I suppose there are a number of books that could fit this, but the over all tone and presentation and just the quality of writing put me in mind of Hill. That is a huge compliment from me as Hill is one of my favorite, must read authors. Honestly, there is not much that I did not love about this book. This is a book that you can read at surface value for the compelling story and intriguing characters, both of which are  well developed. But you can…

Review: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston
4.5 Stars , Reviews , Uncategorized / April 24, 2017

The Valiant is a book that I thought sounded intriguing but I let it slip off my radar due to other review commitments. But then after I saw a couple of glowing reviews for it, I realized I had to find time to read it. Turns out I absolutely LOVED this book, yes, it is worth of the all-caps. Fallon is the daughter of a Celtic King, and has been training her entire life to be a fighter worthy of joining the war band. We quickly learn that part of what motivated Fallon is that she idolized her sister, who was lost in war, and is determined to become the fierce warrior her sister was. In her tribe, men and women fight side by side. She is head strong and independent, so wants to prove herself as a warrior before thinking of such things as getting married. So pretty much, she is exactly the type of female protagonist that I absolutely love reading about. The day before her seventeenth birthday starts as amazing. She is with Mal, her best friend since childhood, but she is starting to see how their close friendship could evolve into something more. And there is the…