Tag Archive | Fantasy

Review: Siren’s Song — by Mary Weber

22586973

Cover image and summary from goodreads.com.

Title: Siren’s Song (The Storm Siren Trilogy, #3)

Author: Mary Christine Weber

Rating:  ★★★★★ (5 of 5)

Genre/Pages: Steampunk Fantasy / 384

Summary: Nym and Draewulf prepare to face off in a battle destined to destroy more lives than it saves.

With the loss of Tulla still fresh in mind, Rasha’s fate unknown, and Lord Myles taken over by the dark ability, Nym and the few Bron soldiers rush to warn Cashlin’s queen. Only to discover it may already be too late for the monarch and her eerie kingdom. As the Luminescents are sifting through Nym’s past memories and the queen is reading into her future, Nym is given a choice of how to defeat Draewulf, but the cost may be more than she can bear. And even then there are no guarantees.

With that reality burrowing into her bones—along with the guilt of the lives she will sacrifice—Nym returns to her homeland of Faelen to raise an army of peasants through promises of freedom. But when the few friends she has left, along with the world and citizens she loves, are staring down the face of a monster and his undead army, will Nym summon every element her blood is capable of controlling . . . or surrender to a different strength—one of sacrifice?

Because in the end, death may be more merciful for them all.”

Cover Review: Absolutely stunning. This is serious cover goals. <3 I wish all books would get covers this beautiful, because I could stare at this for hours. ★★★★★ (5 of 5)

My Review: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I loved this book. I really loved the first book in the trilogy, and I enjoyed the second, but this one is on a whole other level of awesome. It was a series’ conclusion worthy of all of the heartbreak and emotional trauma that this trilogy has caused me from the time Storm Siren was released. 

Characters: You fall in love with these characters all over again, and you learn to love the newly introduced ones, as well. These character’s are very real in their struggles, and throughout most of the book, I just wanted to reach out and give them a hug. There were also a few times I wanted to talk some sense into them, but, you know… gotta have variety, right? It is such a sad thought that with this book I am leaving this world and these character’s behind forever, but Siren’s Song was a beautiful farewell. 

Plot: I am continually blown away by the world and storyline. The second book lagged a bit, because it’s entire purpose was to build up to this book, but let me tell you this: Siren’s Song was worth every bit of it. The war was depicted with relative realism, and the storyline is intense, but it’s really the character’s that make this plot so fabulous. This book is absolutely amazing! I loved it!

Content Advisory: Lots of death, war, and bloodshed. Graphic, but not explicit. Some kissing. 

To Sum It Up: With story and imagery as breathtaking and captivating  as it’s cover, this is a trilogy finale that you will be unable to put down. It’s heartbreaking, it’s moving, and it’s insanely action packed. I highly recommend this book to readers 12 and up. 

Review: The Sailweaver’s Son — by Jeff Minerd

31303378

Cover image and summary from goodreads.com.

Title: The Sailweaver’s Son (Sky Riders of Etherium, #1)

Author: Jeff Minerd

Rating:  ★★★★★★ (6 of 5 – One of the best books of all time!)

Genre/Pages: Steampunk Fantasy / 310

Summary: “The Sailweaver’s Son combines traditional fantasy with a dash of steampunk and takes readers to the world of Etherium, where mountains rise like islands above a sea of clouds and adventurers travel the sky in sail-driven airships.

When fifteen-year-old Tak rescues the survivor of an airship destroyed by one of the giant flammable gas bubbles mysteriously appearing in the sky of Etherium, the authorities react like a flock of startled grekks.

Admiral Scud accuses Tak of sabotage and treason. Tak’s father grounds him for reckless airmanship. Rumors spread that the bubbles are weapons devised by the Gublins, a race of loathsome but ingenious underground creatures. The King’s advisors call for war, hoping to win much-needed Gublin coal.

To prove his innocence, solve the mystery, and prevent a misguided war, Tak must do what anyone knows is suicide – visit the Gublins and find out what they’re up to. When the wizard’s adopted daughter, an oddly beautiful and irksomely intelligent girl from the Eastern kingdoms, asks Tak to help her do just that, he can’t say no.

The adventure will take Tak from the deepest underground caves to a desperate battle on Etherium’s highest mountaintop. It will force him to face his worst fears, and to grow up faster than he expected.”

Cover Review: Absolutely beautiful. This is the kind of cover I love to see on a book. The artwork is well-done, the colors are aesthetically pleasing, and the scene actually presents a solid idea of what the book is about. 

My Review: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I don’t give out six star ratings very often. It takes a very special book to receive my highest of ratings, and Sailweaver’s Son was completely worthy of it! This book automatically ranks among Percy Jackson and the Ranger’s Apprentice/Brotherband series’ as one of the single best MG/YA books ever. 

Plot: The world building was exquisite, and unlike any concept I’d ever read before. I also think this book did a beautiful job handling the after effects of war on Tak. Too often I see MG/YA characters carry on as if nothing of importance had happened after they kill their opponents. I think Jeff Minerd portrayed war with realism, while still respecting the age of his readers.  This is a steampunk fantasy world of teenagers flying airships and going on diplomatic missions for the king. This is a story of friendship, of compromise, and of peace talks. This book is more than just a fun adventure world to escape to — it’s a story people (myself definitely included) will be reading to their children for years to come. 

Characters: These were characters worth cosplaying. They were crazy awesome. They were realistically brave, dedicated, and adventurous. They were characters that I would happily read a dozen more books about. These are characters that I continue to think about and wonder about even after I’ve closed the book. Like Gregor the Overlander.  I loved these characters so much, I could hardly put this book down. 

 

Content Advisory: Death and war. Threats of torture. Lots and lots of death, but not horribly graphic… Just heartbreakingly real. 

To Sum It Up: It’s books like these that made me start this blog — books that don’t have a mainstream publishing agency promoting their book, but are a million times better than almost any book mainstream published. These are books that I need to tell the world about, because The Sailweaver’s Son makes it possible for the reader to Escape Reality — One Book at a Time ;) I highly recommend it to readers 10 and up. 

Side note: Jeff Minerd told me that he is currently working on the second book in the series, The Wizard’s Daughter. I’m super excited!

 

Review: Awakening — by Lauren Ashley

15993711

Cover image and summary from goodreads.com.

Title: Awakening (Hope Trilogy, #1)

Author: Lauren Ashley

Rating:  ★★★☆☆ (3 of 5 — I liked it!)

Genre/Pages: Fantasy / 518

Summary: “To everyone, Emma is an ordinary teenager—a forgettable
figure to most. But, little do they know that she
is about to experience an awakening after centuries of
being kept in the dark when fate finally chooses to
call upon her and reveal the secret behind her existence.
A descendent of godlike beings known as the
El-ahren, Emma is both stunned and terrified when she
learns she not only possesses special gifts and extraordinary
powers, but is also destined to save the world.
However, pitted against an evil alliance determined
to destroy her and any good left on this earth, Emma
finds it a struggle just to stay alive. Joined by those
commissioned to protect her, she must search for others
like her in order to fulfill her destiny and prevent
the resurrection of evil.”

Cover Review: This cover is a special kind of bad. It’s not straight-up awful and gross like all the romance novels with half-naked people on them, but this is just a very very low quality cover. The only thing it tells me about the book is that the protagonist is a girl. I get no other information from the cover, and overall it’s not aesthetically pleasing at all. 

My Review: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This one took me a very long time to get around to reading, mostly due to the sheer size of the thing. 518 pages is a lot of pages, and my main complaint about the book is that it could have (and should have) easily been cut in half. At least cut out 1/3rd of it, and the story would flow significantly better. I really enjoyed the premise of the story, and it had some amazing  plot points, but at the end of the day, it was too long for the story it had to tell. My family would see me reading it and say: “Are you still reading that Twilight book? You’re not done with it yet?”. There. Now that I have ranted about the length, I can go on to tell you all the awesome things that I truly did enjoy about this book. 

Characters: Man, these characters were epic. But I suppose hundreds of lifetimes of reincarnation will make a group of friends get pretty close. ;) Each of these characters were so unique that they each bring something completely different and original to the team.  Side note: I love character betrayals that I don’t predict ahead of time, and I never saw any of those betrayals coming! I loved getting into the heads of these characters and learning about their different powers, and how they cope with evil and tragedy. The characters were definitely the high point of the book.

Plot: This is where I had a problem with the book. The author herself compares Awakening to Twilight, and she  lives up to the comparison. So if Twilight isn’t your cup of tea, odds are this book isn’t, either… The premise of the book is something we’ve all read a million times — friends of the “Chosen One” reveal themselves to be her protectors and teach her about her “true self”. With this knowledge, hordes of demons and evil people begin to hunt her down, and she and her friends must go on the run to stay alive. But even though this book uses a simple YA fantasy formula, it’s really the details in this book that make it so great. Child seers, fragile alliances between enemies, epic battles, and so much more are what truly make this book worth reading. It feels kinda like the 39 Clues series all grown up, with some magic thrown in, just for fun.

Content Advisory: Lots of death, some of which was very graphic. Also, some really creepy, awkward, and kinda gross instances of a teenage girl hard-core lusting after a guy. I could have happily lived my whole life without ever having read her thoughts in those instances. 

To Sum It Up: Though the book certainly suffers from too many pages, the story is enjoyable, and the characters feel like your best friends. Reading this book would be a really fun way to spend a few summer days! I enjoyed Awakening, and don’t regret reading it at all.  I recommend this book to readers ages 18 and up. 

Review: Blast of the Dragon’s Fury — by L.R.W. Lee

 

18849943

Cover image and summary from goodreads.com.

Title: Blast of the Dragon’s Fury (Andy Smithson, #1)

 

Author: L.R.W. Lee

Rating:  ★★★★★ (5 of 5)

Genre/Pages: High Fantasy / 200

Summary: “From the After Life, ten-year-old Andy Smithson’s relatives initiated a curse 500 years ago. Now they no longer agree it should continue and one is willing to sacrifice Andy’s life to end it. Unaware of the disagreement and with no say in the matter, Andy is unexpectedly and magically transported from his home. He finds himself in the Land of Oomaldee, facing mortal danger at every turn as he seeks to find a scale from a rare red dragon, the most ferocious of dragon species, to break the curse and save his life.”

Cover Review: A++ This cover is absolutely beautiful! Low-budget, but compared to mainstream published books, this is the Mona Lisa. (Have you noticed yet that I hate mainstream clipart covers?)

My Review: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I loved this book. I really did! It took ages for me to get around to reading it, but literally from the first page, I was hooked. This is one of those books where the second you start to read it you get completely transported to a world of ghosts in the afterlife submitting revenge plans to companies and getting authorization from the afterlife government to bring a modern ten year old into a medieval world to break an ancient curse. Crazy, huh? But you kinda fall in love with it immediately. 

Characters: I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical about a ten-year-old protagonist. Most books I read nowadays are YA, where the protagonist is 12 at the very youngest, but usually 16. Often, young characters suffer from a severe lack of realism when they suddenly become master swordsman and battle strategists overnight. But that’s not quite what happened with this book. Yeah, you kinda have to suspend disbelief when dealing with a character this young, but I say go out and hang out with some ten year olds for a while, and maybe it won’t seem quite as unbelievable to you. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for. Now that I have totally derailed this paragraph, I’ll suffice it to say that ALL of these characters were complex, layered, and emotionally engaging. 

Plot: Wow, did I love this book or what? It was like going home to the MG books of my childhood. But I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that even as an adult (still haven’t fully accepted the fact that I’m 19 now) the plot of this MG novel was still wild, fun, and unpredictable. This book was more than just a fun read, though. It was a tale of friendship, of forgiveness, and of redemption. It was an adventure unlike any other. 

Content Advisory: Characters are put in deadly and intense situations. But this book is written for 8-12 year olds, so it’s really not very scary.

To Sum It Up: Do you know a ten year old? If yes, absolutely read this book with them, they will love it! If no, read this book yourself, you will love it! I highly recommend this book for readers 6 and up. 

Review: Aphrodite – By Kaitlin Bevis

Aphrodite

Cover image and summary from Goodreads.com.

Title: Aphrodite (Daughters of Zeus, #4)

Author: Kaitlin Bevis

Book Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 of 5)

Genre/Pages: Mythology / 204

Summary: Being perfect isn’t easy, but Aphrodite is determined to live up to the ideal. So when Poseidon asks her to investigate strange happenings on several cruise ships, she jumps at the chance to prove herself. Demigods are going missing, and no one remembers them having been on board. Aphrodite charms herself into the best room on the ship, prepared to investigate in style. Unfortunately, the room belongs to the one man immune to her charm.
Adonis.
When Aphrodite realizes that he could be the next target, her investigation gets more complicated. Worse, whoever is responsible for the missing demigods charmed the passengers and armed them with long-forgotten weapons designed to kill gods. When the ship goes dark, Aphrodite and Adonis have to work together to discover who is behind the mayhem before Poseidon decides their ship, and every charmed and armed human on it, are more trouble than they’re worth.

Cover Rating: ★☆☆☆☆ (1 of 5) The first cover was beautiful, the second was breathtaking, and the third was kinda cool. But the fourth cover? I hate it. Well, not the whole thing. The bottom half, though still photoshop, is at least nice looking photoshop. It’s pretty, it matches the other three covers, and it looks really cool. But the top half is horrible. Like, yes, I understand that this is Aphrodite but this IS still a YA novel, and the top half is just ughhh. Also, why do people think it’s okay to cut off heads? I know they’re just trying to draw more attention to her (photoshop generated) body, but it’s dumb and not at ALL aesthetically pleasing. This is not a book I would carry around with me anywhere. Probably won’t even buy a physical copy because I don’t care to have this cover on my bookshelf. Which is sad, because I love Kaitlin’s books.

My Review: But please, don’t judge this book by it’s cover. The book was actually pretty fantastic, and it is not the lovely author’s fault that the cover is bad.  It took two whole years, but finally we got the fourth book! I don’t like how this book ended (it made the book feel more like Part One of Two, rather than a complete book), but it was still thoroughly enjoyable.

Favorite Quote: “Love could be pain and fear and strength and wonder and everything in-between. But it was never poison.”

Hero/Heroine: Aphrodite and Adonis. Though they still aren’t as awesome as Persephone and Hades, the stars of the first three books, Aphrodite and Adonis are both pretty fantastic characters. They are complex, flawed, and fascinating. You really CARE about them, and I thought that was beautifully executed. I also loved the very different take on Ares in this book compared to how you normally see the god of war portrayed. It was wonderful and intriguing to see him as a caring, compassionate kind of person.

Plot: As I mentioned earlier, it didn’t feel like a complete book, but that’s alright because Kaitlin will be writing a fifth book in the series. Though I pride myself on being able to predict plot twists, Aphrodite remained surprisingly unpredictable and very emotional. Reading this book was a whirlwind ride. I absolutely adore this world that Kaitlin has created – I love her new and refreshing take on mythology, and the life that she breathes into these characters. As always, this book was a masterpiece by Kaitlin Bevis!

Content Advisory: This is a story about Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, so that should tell you something… It gets very intense, but never graphic. It deals with heavy topics such as rape, rape under the influence of drugs, and blackmail rape. Most everything happens off-page, but it’s still discussed. Even then, this is what lost Aphrodite the possible 5-star rating. I think there was a lot more than necessary in a YA novel, even though it does help create awareness about crucial issues such as date rape. There is also a massacre (not graphic), and some torture. This book does narrowly maintain it’s YA rating, though. 

To Sum It Up: Kaitlin masterfully weaves each new mythology retelling, and I will continue to read everything she writes. She is a phenomenal author! Aphrodite was a nice addition to the Daughters of Zeus series. It was well-paced,  suspenseful, and full of surprises. If you’ve read the other books in the series, absolutely read this one! But I don’t think it’s the kind of book I desperately want to re-read. I recommend this book to readers 17 years of age or older. 

Siren’s Song has arrived!

Screenshot 2016-03-10 at 8.43.48 PM

Follow me on Instagram @escapingreality1boookatatime

“Nym and Draewulf prepare to face off in a battle destined to destroy more lives than it saves.

With the loss of Tulla still fresh in mind, Rasha’s fate unknown, and Lord Myles taken over by the dark ability, Nym and the few Bron soldiers rush to warn Cashlin’s queen. Only to discover it may already be too late for the monarch and her eerie kingdom. As the Luminescents are sifting through Nym’s past memories and the queen is reading into her future, Nym is given a choice of how to defeat Draewulf, but the cost may be more than she can bear. And even then there are no guarantees.

With that reality burrowing into her bones—along with the guilt of the lives she will sacrifice—Nym returns to her homeland of Faelen to raise an army of peasants through promises of freedom. But when the few friends she has left, along with the world and citizens she loves, are staring down the face of a monster and his undead army, will Nym summon every element her blood is capable of controlling . . . or surrender to a different strength—one of sacrifice?

Because in the end, death may be more merciful for them all.”

Siren’s Song, the third book in the Storm Siren trilogy was just released a few days ago, and Mary Weber sent me this gorgeous package. Look at that map! I love maps! Maps are the coolest!

I think this series needs to get the award for the Most Gorgeous Covers Ever. I’m super excited to start reading the grand finale of the Storm Siren trilogy! I’ll be posting a review as soon as I finish it! Thank you so much, Mary Weber for the gorgeous book!

Review: The Fool and the Dragonox – by Jacob Gowans

20983546

Cover image and summary from Goodreads.com.

Title: The Fool and the Dragonox: A Prequel to A Tale of Light and Shadow

Author: Jacob Gowans

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 of 5)

Genre / Pages: Fantasy / 43

Summary: Enter Atolas, a world where swords and daggers both extend life and end it, where magic is feared by all but a few, and where feuds and friendships influence kingdoms and courtships. In The Fool and the Dragonox, a prequel to A Tale of Light and Shadow, we meet Henry Vestin, his best friend Ruther, his sister, Maggie, and the love of his young life, Isabelle Oslan, as they begin an adventure that will help define their ongoing friendship.

Cover Art Expectations: I really like this cover. The artwork is fantastic and accurately represents the book’s contents. My expectations gathered from judging a book by it’s cover:

  • Fantasy (yes!)
  • Epic magical creatures (yes!)
  • Young Adult novel (yes!)

Cover art rating: ★★★★★ (5 of 5)

My Review: I have a policy of only reading prequels after having read at least the first book in the series. Like what you read here? Check out my review of book 1, A Tale of Light and Shadow right HERE. I decided not to do a full section by section review, since the prequel itself was more of a novella than a novel, so there’s not a whole lot of content to review.

I’ve read a lot of prequels over the years, but most of them have fallen prey to the Prequel Syndrome, one of the most deadly illnesses known to books (shortly behind Second Book Syndrome and Love Triangle Flu), they just kinda… fall flat, you know? However, The Fool and the Dragonox deftly avoided contracting Prequel Syndrome, and was an incredible novella! In fact, I liked it even more than I liked the first book in the series! I can’t remember the last time I read a prequel that surpassed the series itself in quality.

The characters were engaging, relatable, and fun. The dialogue was witty and realistic, and the plot was masterfully crafted. This novella will have you laughing at every page! To what lengths will a teenage boy go in an attempt to impress his crush? How can he achieve his goal of becoming the youngest Master carpenter? And what about that best friend of whom his parents disapprove? The world was fantastical and magical, and yet the characters remained real, believable, and enjoyable. Did I mention that I LOVED this book? Because I did love it. A lot.

Content Advisory: Sequences of peril and intensity. Teenage drunkenness. 

To Sum It Up: Even if you haven’t read A Tale of Light and Shadow, you will love this novella. It works great as a stand alone story, or as an introduction into the world of Tale. This story was absolutely phenomenal! Everybody needs a little more adventure in their lives – and you won’t regret the 30 minutes or so that you’ll spend reading this novella! I highly recommend this book to lovers of adventure 10 and up.