The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams – ★★★★★

29758013

Guys, we just read the bestest book ever at the MacHalo group! Jen Williams is fantasy’s best-kept secret. Is this woman a millionaire yet? New York Times Bestseller list or whatever the UK version of that is? Surely she must be winning awards left and right because her writing skills and story-telling are so bleeding good, I have no words. This is hands down one of the best books I have ever read. Ever.

I would not have even read it had it not come to my attention from a couple MacHalo members. THANK YOU, you wonderful lovely ladies, you!

“Vintage” is the main character. She is about 40 (a main character who is 40, you guys, what is this madness) and a wealthy wanderer of types. She travels and studies artefacts that happen to be organic space ships from a malevolent alien race who wish to wipe out humanity and all life on Tarn. (Tarn is this world’s version of Earth.)

She also happens to have brown skin and is a lesbian (or bisexual, we don’t know for sure because it isn’t discussed; it’s no big deal; she just is who she is).

Her traveling companion is a hired sword named Tormalin the Oathless, Tor for short. He is an Eboran, a race of human-like beings who can live a thousand years, are strong, and a mix between maybe elves and vampires?

They end up taking in a fell-witch named Noon. She can summon green winnowfire. Add to the mix another Eboran, Tor’s sister, Hestillion, who is obsessed with bringing their dead tree-god back to life, their slightly crazy cousin Aldasair, a tall braided dude named Bern the Younger (who might be hooking up with Aldasair), and a psychotic fell-witch assassin after Noon.

The witches, when discovered, are claimed by the Winnowry, which is basically a prison. The fell-witches are considered an evil that must be contained and controlled.

This book was so easy to read, full of action, amazing world-building. It’s got humor, sci-fi, a bit of romance (don’t worry, it’s not a kissing book, but Tor is pretty swoon-worthy). I have not enjoyed reading a book this much in awhile. I daresay it’s a flipping masterpiece.

I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves fantasy and fantastical beings and worlds. Don’t worry, it’s not bogged down in fantasy-speak. You will get swept away.

There is so much more I could say, but I don’t want to spoil it! Jen Williams, remember the name. You won’t be sorry.

25540135

She also does The Copper Cat trilogy. The second book in The Winnowing Flame trilogy is The Bitter Twins and is out now!

Follow Jen Williams at Twitter.

Okay, do you think I am fangirling enough here? Well, maybe, but it’s that good.

Advertisements

“Under the Never Sky” by Veronica Rossi – ★★★★★

Oh yeah, oh yeah. This was awesome! I have had this on my TBR shelf since 2014 and it ended up being one of those where you ask yourself, “Why did you wait so long?!” Let me tell you, THIS book is a perfect example of why I will never stop reading Young Adult fantasy. There may be some stinkers out there or some big old Mehs, but then you get one like this and are like:

Okay, maybe I exaggerate. A little. But there was SO MUCH win here! It’s set in a dystopian-like world where a catastrophe has rendered the sky into an “Aether,” where storms and lightening kill everything from the soil and trees to people. The luckiest people (that is arguable) went into domes for protection. There, they have developed technology to live in Realms, through an eye piece (like a virtual reality). They have changed their biology and physiology so much that the females don’t even menstruate anymore!

So, our main character, Aria, gets exiled into the wastelands and meets Peregrine (Perry) an Outsider. A savage. They form an unlikely and unwilling alliance – Aria wants to find her mom and Perry his nephew.

Stuff happens. There are cannibals! Perry and Aria go a place that is protected where a man named Marron is in charge and they live like relatively “normal” people. Perry’s kind live in tribes.

Those born in the wastelands can have abilities. There are Seers, Auds (people who have superpower hearing), Scires (people who can smell so well, they can scent emotions and moods).

A romance blossoms, but there is definitely NO instalove. Aria is not a special snowflake or Mary Sue.

Some of it was just survival, but I loved the progression of Aria and Perry’s relationship. It just slowly sneaks up on you. Perry is BAE. I lurve him soooo much. Aria bugged me at first, but she really grows!

This was just A++++ writing and story-telling, in my view.

Q&A Review: Shoot the Messenger by Pippa DaCosta

thumbnail

What did you like about Shoot the Messenger?

Kira: Almost everything. Just like all of Pippa DaCosta’s characters, these ones were complicated and deceptive. They’re very real because they never fit into good or bad categories. The world building was awesome, but I’ll get into that more later. Last but not least, it was so easy to get into. I was constantly trying to figure out who to trust and what was going to happen next.

Shelly: Like Kira, I liked just about everything. There was so much win. I haven’t read ALL of Pippa’s books (yet), but it is very different from the ones I have read, and I think a great job was done with the world-building. This sets up so many possibilities, and I loved with mix of the traditional, “organic” fae with tech/tek. I haven’t seen that done before and it’s a mix of the traditional fae lore with sci-fi aliens.

What didn’t you like about Shoot the Messenger?

Kira: This was my first foray into a reverse harem. I’m not sure the reverse harem thing is for me although this didn’t seem like much of a harem. It is the first in the series, so I’m sure other lovers will come along. My big issue with the book was the unreliable narrator. I love a good twist in a book. This one was completely unexpected, but unreliable narrators make me feel like I’ve been lied to. That’s okay when it’s a character whose thoughts are not well known to me, but this character’s were.

Shelly: Gosh, I can’t think of anything I didn’t like! I didn’t even register that Kesh was an unreliable narrator, but Pippa is known for anti-heroes/heroines and writing characters that don’t fall into neat, tidy boxes. I guess if I absolutely HAD to pick something, it would be ending on a cliffhanger.

What did you think of the world building?

Kira: I loved it! It perfectly blended fantasy and sci-fi in a way that felt completely natural. It was a complex world, but it wasn’t bogged down with extraneous details. All of the necessary details were given when needed. I loved the the issues with magic and tek and how those two opposing forces blended together.

Shelly: It was fantastic. It felt like something you could recognize, but fresh and original. Like I mentioned before, merging the fae with sci-fi space shenanigans is just a win for me. You have enough of the fae to recognize the species, but add the idea they come from another planet and can use technology to gain more power while still being bound to life and soil and plants and blood, etc.

Who was your favorite character?

Kira: Marshall Kellee even though he wasn’t the main character. He had the most integrity of any character. So far he seemed the most trustworthy although I’m well aware that could change. He had an interesting background, which I hope to learn more about. I sympathized with him the most in the end.

Shelly: Tough one. I loved Kellee AND Talen and I even found Larsen intriguing. I guess if my back is to the wall, I’m gonna go with the mysterious fae, Talen.

Would you recommend this to others?

Kira: Absolutely! It was fun and original. It had lots of action. If you like nontraditional fae stories or sci-fi, I’d highly recommend you read this.

Shelly: Yes, I would. But don’t expect a fluffy tale about faeries in space. Expect treachery, ambiguous characters and relationships, slow burn romance, and lots of what-the-fuckery. I am very curious to see what Pippa does with the reverse harem thing since it’s a genre I absolutely adore right now!

Your rating and review:

Kira: ★★★★ Shoot the Messenger review

Shelly: ★★★★★  Shoot the Messenger review

Related post:

Pippa DaCosta “Shoot the Messenger” Cover and Q&A!

 

The Dark Side series by Kristy Cunning

I have been having a blast reading this reverse harem series by Kristy Cunning (who also writes “regular” romance as C.M. Owens). This series follows a ghost named Keyla who has attached herself to four bonded men who are supernatural. They live together, fight together, eat together… they do everything together. Keyla has been watching them for years. They make her stronger and able to stay in our world for longer periods of time.

Eventually, she is able to appear to them and expects things to go great, but the guys find her annoying, and just want to get rid of her! Snarky times and bantering ensues.

I find these first two books (two more will be released, the next one is called Two Kingdoms) hilarious! Keyla is a riot and doesn’t let the boys get away with anything. The author nails the chemistry and bantering.

It’s kind of a slow burn, but by the end of book two, you get a lot of answers and it is very satisfying. There are demons and much of the action literally takes place in hell.

I highly recommend giving this a shot if you like quick romantic reads full of shenanigans, mayhem, swoon-worthy moments, and hilarity. I don’t usually like “ghost” stories, but this is really unique and not-your-typical romance.

DSCN0426

They are on Kindle Unlimited or available to buy for dirt cheap ($0.99 each!).

My review for Four Psychos. My review for Three Trials.

1791987

 

 

ARC Review: Thief (Boston Underworld #5) by A. Zavarelli

thief

Arrives 2-23-18

I waited so long for Nikolai’s book, and it was definitely worth the wait! This was much darker than I was expecting, which is a good thing although it wasn’t as dark as Ghost. This story tied in with Ghost since Nikolai and Alexei are brothers. Some scenes overlapped although it’s not necessary to read Ghost to understand what is going on.

I wasn’t expecting to like Tanaka at first. Her obsession with ballet didn’t endear me to her. As her story unfolded the reasons for her obsession made me like her very much. She had serious emotional issues. I love the way Tanaka’s issues are depicted. It takes therapy and lots of work for her to improve, but she still has setbacks, major ones. Unlike many romances, love does not magically make her issues go away. It’s very realistic. Although there isn’t a chance in hell I’d ever develop the same issues as her, it was easy to relate to her situation.

Nikolai was an ass sometimes. There were reasons for it. He was in a tenuous situation in the mafiya. Despite his high ranking in the mafiya, he had many things working against him. Not being the top dog meant he still had to do what his boss ordered even when it goes against what he desperately wants to do. His relationships with his father and brother were not on good terms. He never really knew if he could trust them or not. Most of his actions were understandable and forgivable, but there were times where I wished he treated Tanaka better. On top of everything else, he had a personal vendetta against those he believed hurt his mother.

I am not sure if this is the final book in the series or not. I hope it’s not but am afraid it is since all of the main mafia men have had their stories told unless I’m forgetting somebody. This is the best mafia series ever! I’d love to read about other characters from this world even if they are not closely connected to any of the main characters so far.

Thank you so much to the author for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!!!

Rating: 4.5 stars

vNQH81495253758

“Sky in the Deep” by Adrienne Young

34726469

Sky in the Deep is not released until April 24, 2018, so this will definitely be a spoiler-free review. The setting is a re-imagined historical fiction/fantasy about Vikings. Eelyn is seventeen and a warrior in the Aska clan. During a battle against an enemy Riki clan, Eelyn discovers her brother, Iri, thought dead, is actually still alive and fighting against her clan on the battle field.

From the blurb at Goodreads: Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered.

Essentially, this is a story about how everyone is similar and the hate and prejudices you hold are against people who underneath their differences, are just like you – with families, hobbies, hopes, fears, etc. It’s about the love of family and friendship. It’s about the love of the heart found in unlikely places.

I will admit, this book did not hook me until about halfway through. But, it ended up being emotional and Eelyn and the other characters finally cracked through my shriveled bitter heart.

Eelyn was hard to like at first. I wanted to give up because she was SO angry and stubborn, it didn’t make for easy reading. But thankfully, just as my heart thawed, so did hers.

This is Young Adult, but there is violence (it is a Viking culture after all). I think people will enjoy this story. So check it out on April 24th!

Thank you Netgalley and publisher for the eARC to read and review!

Review also found at Goodreads.

“The Hazel Wood” by Melissa Albert

34275232

 

This book reminds me a bit of Christina Henry’s Alice. (That book was a 2015 Goodreads Choice Nominee for Horror just so that sort of sets the vibe for you). Although this is not set in an alternate reality. It takes place in our world, but has a fantasy element, which makes this a mashup of urban fantasy and magical realism.

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother Ella have been drifters, wanderers, her whole life. She is used to changing schools all the time, staying in motels, and being the visitors who outstay their welcome with her mother’s acquaintances. They seem to have bad luck that always finds them and makes them forever changing cities to try and escape.

Ella finally marries a wealthy man who pays for Alice to go to an expensive high school in New York. There, she meets Finch, who becomes her friend (and she might like him, but won’t allow herself to admit it). Alice is very angry and salty, which can make her an unlikable character, but by the end you will understand why, and it makes total sense.

Alice’s grandmother was a recluse and mysterious author who wrote an obscure book of fairytales that Ella has never let her read. The book is so rare, there are hardly any copies left even for collectors. Her grandmother, Althea, lived in a place called the Hazel Wood, which has fascinated Alice all her life. Her mother has never wanted anything to do with Althea or Hazel Wood and never given Alice any answers to her questions about either.

“A turn of events” (spoilers) forces Alice and Finch to seek out the woods, which turn out to be a place full of dark fairytales come to life.

The cover of the book might lead you to think this is a light Young Adult fantasy, but as I mentioned, it’s more contemporary in the beginning with fantasy elements. The fantasy aspects come into play as Alice discovers more about herself, her grandmother’s book, and the Hazel Wood.

I thought this was a great story! It’s definitely more of a dark Grimm’s fairytale than your typical YA fantasy about people with magical powers meeting boys to fall in love with. Alice is a heroine, but a curmudgeonly one. So get ready for an unconventional fairytale set in modern times and dive in!

The Hazel Wood is released on January 30, 2018. Pre-order at Amazon.

Thank you Netgalley and publisher for providing a digital copy to read and review!