Book Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Book Review: This Savage Song by Victoria SchwabThis Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Series: Monsters of Verity #1
Published by Greenwillow Books on July 5, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 464
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads
4 Stars
There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

Book Review:

THIS SAVAGE SONG is the first in the Monsters of Verity series, a new YA fantasy series from Victoria Schwab. In a destroyed America, monsters rule the dark, and people cling to whatever bits of safety and normality they can find. Well, most people — Kate Harker and August Flynn excluded.

Kate’s father rules half Verity. People pay him for safety, and he keeps the Corsai and Malchai monsters from killing those people. He’s a vicious crime boss, and Kate wants to be exactly like him. She wants to prove to her father that she’s a Harker, worthy of being his heir.

August’s adopted father rules the other half of Verity. His people fight the Corsai and Malchai for safety. But Henry Flynn has a secret weapon: August and his siblings are Sunai. Sunai are monsters too, but different from the Corsai and Malchai. Sunai are avengers.

The worldbuilding is a bit complicated in THIS SAVAGE SONG. I would have liked more about the different types of monsters and how they came into existence. There are mentions of “the Phenomenon,” but I don’t remember an explanation or information about it. I did like the idea of violence breeding violence, and the author doing a little exploring of good versus evil, black and white versus shades of grey. I hope there’s more of that in the rest of the series.

THIS SAVAGE SONG also looks at what it means to be human and what it means to be a monster. Kate wants to be a monster, just like her father. August wants to be a human, but that’s impossible. I quite liked the Sunai, but it would spoil too much to go into why. So I’ll just say I liked what the author did with all three of them.

I was also super happy to find that there’s no romance in THIS SAVAGE SONG! It’s so refreshing to not have an insta-love romance crammed down my throat, distracting me from the other good stuff in the book. I’m so happy the author didn’t go that route here. Yes, Kate and August are thrown together, and must work together to save each other’s lives, but they don’t waste time making googly eyes at each other.

I am eager to see what else Victoria Schwab has in mind for Kate and August, and the other Monsters of Verity. Bring on book two!

Socialize with the author:

Victoria Schwab:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Farm on the Roof by Anastasia Cole Plakias

Book Review: The Farm on the Roof by Anastasia Cole PlakiasThe Farm on the Roof by Anastasia Cole Plakias
Published by Avery on April 5, 2016
Genres: Business
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
4 Stars
The founders of Brooklyn Grange, the world’s largest green rooftop farm, share their inspirational story of changing the world through entrepreneurship.

In their effort to build the world’s first and largest commercial green rooftop farm, the founders of Brooklyn Grange learned a lot about building and sustaining a business while never losing sight of their mission—to serve their community by providing delicious organic food and changing the way people think about what they eat. But their story is about more than just farming. It serves as an inspirational and instructional guide for anyone looking to start a business that is successful while making a positive impact.

In The Farm on the Roof, the team behind Brooklyn Grange tell the complete story of how their “farmily” made their dream a reality. Along the way, they share valuable lessons about finding the right partners, seeking funding, expanding, and identifying potential sources of revenue without compromising your core values—lessons any socially conscious entrepreneur can apply toward his or her own venture. Filled with colorful anecdotes about the ups and downs of farming in the middle of New York City, this story is not just about rooftop farming; it’s about utilizing whatever resources you have to turn your backyard idea into a sky-high success.

Book Review:

THE FARM ON THE ROOF caught my eye because I’m considering growing vegetable crops. However, I live on a farm in the country, and I couldn’t imagine running a farm on a roof in New York City. But I thought the idea of a rooftop farm was genius, because there are so many advantages to using such an underutilized space.

THE FARM ON THE ROOF is the story of Brooklyn Grange, a business that focuses on the triple-bottom-line: people, planet, and profit. The farm started as a way to prove that yes, urban farming can be fiscally and agriculturally sustainable. They started operations in 2010 and are still going strong five years later, having learned a multitude of lessons and how to, in their terms, “monster it.”

I thought the book was quite interesting. Much of it deals with setting up and launching the business, finding opportunities for growth, and developing alternate revenue streams. Although the subject is, of course, the rooftop farms, it’s easy to apply those lessons to other businesses. Entrepreneurs with super crazy ideas might find some tips too, because who would have thought of fundraising for an urban farm?

I enjoyed the author’s writing style. It’s very readable, entertaining and informative. You know how business books can be dry or boring? That wasn’t the case here. Anastasia Cole Plakias is one of the founding partners of Brooklyn Grange, and it was easy to see her passion and pride in every page. I liked that she wasn’t afraid to admit to her own faults in the business world, and how she relied on her partners to help out there, just as she helped them.

Reading THE FARM ON THE ROOF left me feeling hopeful. It was so great to see a business that wants to help its community prosper. It was also great to see a “crazy” idea really take off, to show that yes, you can follow your dreams, succeed, and leave the world a better place all at once.

Socialize with the farm:

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– leeanna

Book Review: Fast into the Night by Debbie Clarke Moderow

Book Review: Fast into the Night by Debbie Clarke ModerowFast into the Night by Debbie Clarke Moderow
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on February 2, 2016
Genres: Memoir
Pages: 272
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
4 Stars
A captivating memoir of one woman’s attempt to finish the Iditarod, led by her team of spunky huskies with whom she shares a fascinating and inextricable bond.

At age forty-seven, a mother of two, Debbie Moderow was not your average musher in the Iditarod, but that’s where she found herself when, less than 200 miles from the finish line, her dogs decided they didn’t want to run anymore. After all her preparation, after all the careful management of her team, and after their running so well for over a week, the huskies balked. But the sting of not completing the race after coming so far was nothing compared to the disappointment Moderow felt in having lost touch with her dogs.

Fast into the Night
is the gripping story of Moderow’s journeys along the Iditarod trail with her team of spunky huskies: Taiga and Su, Piney and Creek, Nacho and Zeppy, Juliet and the headstrong leader, Kanga. The first failed attempt crushed Moderow’s confidence, but after reconnecting with her dogs she returned and ventured again to Nome, pushing through injuries, hallucinations, epic storms, flipped sleds, and clashing personalities, both human and canine. And she prevailed. Part adventure, part love story, part inquiry into the mystery of the connection between humans and dogs, Fast into the Night is an exquisitely written memoir of a woman, her dogs, and what can happen when someone puts herself in that place between daring and doubt—and soldiers on.

Book Review:

FAST INTO THE NIGHT is a memoir about running the Iditarod, failing, and trying again. Debbie Moderow isn’t your typical Iditarod competitor. She was forty-seven for her first attempt, following in the footsteps of her son. The entire family mushed, but the kids were more competitive than the parents. Debbie’s son ran the Iditarod when he was 18, and when he finished, he told her she had to do it, too.

A retired Iditarod dog named Salt played an important role in Debbie’s life. He helped her recover from two devastating miscarriages by reigniting her love of the outdoors and adventure. And then the whole family got into sled dogs and mushing, spending their vacations mushing to a cabin and watching the kids compete in junior races.

FAST INTO THE NIGHT is primarily a remembrance of Debbie’s 2003 Iditarod attempt and her 2005 finish. Running the race is never something I’d do myself. I’m a total wimp in 20F weather, I can’t imagine racing with the temperature in negative degrees, facing blizzards and wind storms and more. But Debbie brought the course of the race to life for me, through sparse yet descriptive writing. I felt like I was there, and I knew all the difficulties she went through. She also delved into the personalities of each dog, which really showed her connection to the team.

I liked that Debbie showed herself in all lights, good and bad. She didn’t edit her thoughts to make herself look better. Her honesty made me feel like I could trust everything she wrote.

FAST INTO THE NIGHT wasn’t my typical read, but I’m happy I came across the book and read it.

Socialize with the author:

Debbie Clarke Moderow:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Reburialists by J.C. Nelson

Book Review: The Reburialists by J.C. NelsonThe Reburialists by JC Nelson
Published by Ace on March 1, 2016
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
4 Stars
The author of Wish Bound and the Grimm Agency novels returns with an all-new urban fantasy novel!

Burying the dead is easy. Keeping them down is difficult.

At the Bureau of Special Investigations, agents encounter all sorts of paranormal evils. So for Agent Brynner Carson, driving a stake through a rampaging three-week-old corpse is par for the course. Except this cadaver is different. It’s talking—and it has a message about his father, Heinrich.

The reanimated stiff delivers an ultimatum written in bloody hieroglyphics, and BSI Senior Analyst Grace Roberts is called in to translate. It seems that Heinrich Carson stole the heart of Ra-Ame, the long-dead god of the Re-Animus. She wants it back. The only problem is Heinrich took the secret of its location to his grave.

With the arrival of Ra-Ame looming and her undead army wreaking havoc, Brynner and Grace must race to find the key to stopping her. It’s a race they can’t afford to lose, but then again, it’s just another day on the job . . .

Book Review:

THE REBURIALISTS is delightfully quirky urban fantasy. It’s full of action, a super cool mythology, and even a partnership/romance. “Burying the dead is easy. Keeping them down is difficult.” Who can pass up a summary with that line?

I’m typically not a fan of zombie books; they’re just not my thing. But ancient Egyptian inspired zombies? Totally my thing. The mythology in THE REBURIALISTS was my favorite thing about the book. In J. C. Nelson’s world, the dead can rise. So most people are cremated now, and if they aren’t, they’re buried with tendons cut and jaws pinned shut. Many of the risen dead are just shamblers, but they’re under the control of a very intelligent Re-Animus.

One of those Re-Animus knows Brynner Carson by name. One of the most famous agents of the Bureau of Special Investigations, Brynner’s also a playboy with a reputation. When a Re-Animus asks for something his dad hid, Brynner must work with Grace Roberts, an analyst who believes in science and only science. Predictably, they clash plenty of times in THE REBURIALISTS, but because the book is written from both of their POVS, it’s a great way to see both sides of the story and mythology. Brynner’s all belief and instinct, where Grace is rational and methodical.

For now, THE REBURIALISTS is a standalone. It’s a complete story, but I would like to see more of Brynner, Grace, and the author’s supercool world. There’s a lot of story and a lot of stuff happening in THE REBURIALISTS’ ~400 pages, all of which I enjoyed. I definitely didn’t expect some of the twists, which is always nice.

The only part of THE REBURIALISTS that didn’t quite work for me was the relationship between Brynner and Grace. I just didn’t see a spark between them, and wished they had stayed friends. That said, once the kinks were worked out, I did like them together, and liked how they backed each other up (even when they were mad at each other).

THE REBURIALISTS is a fun read. I enjoyed how the author mixed ancient Egyptian mythology with zombies and science. I never thought anyone would get me to read a book about scary walking dead, but J.C. Nelson did.

TL;DR Version:

the reburialists mood graphic

Socialize with the author:

J.C. Nelson:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Raging Sea by Michael Buckley

Book Review: Raging Sea by Michael BuckleyRaging Sea by Michael Buckley
Series: Undertow #2
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on February 2, 2016
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
4 Stars
In the first book of Michael Buckley’s Undertow trilogy, the Alpha arrived and the world was never the same. At the start of the second book, most of south Brooklyn is in ruins and the nation is terrified. Nearly everyone that Lyric Walker loves is either missing or presumed dead, including the mesmerizing prince Fathom. It’s up to Lyric to unite the Alpha before the second wave of a cataclysmic invasion wipes out mankind for good. The Undertow trilogy is an unforgettable reading experience that author E. Lockhart calls, "Allegorical and romantic, the book nevertheless reads like an action movie with especially awesome CGI."

Book Review:

Last year, I quite liked UNDERTOW, the first in Michael Buckley’s series on the Alpha. The Alpha, a race of sea people, had camped on the shore of Coney Island. When their enemies the Rusalka showed up, New York was nearly destroyed.

After such a cliffhanger, I was excited to continue the series. RAGING SEA is a decent second book. There wasn’t a lot of rehashing of book one, some important stuff happened, and there was lots of action. There’s another cliffhanger, but I’m okay with that, because after the last quarter of RAGING SEA, I’m even more excited for the last book in the trilogy.

In RAGING SEA, Lyric’s very happy to unleash her superpower whenever possible. I liked that side of her — I mean, who wouldn’t be excited and maybe a bit vengeful if you suddenly had a superpower at your fingertips? She makes a couple of stupid decisions, and even though I cringed, her decisions are realistic for the circumstances. I also liked the friendship between her and Bex. I can’t remember the last time I saw two besties be so stubborn and support each other. And Lyric’s devotion to saving her family is great.

The first half of RAGING SEA is a little slower than the second half. There’s a lot of time spent in Tempest, the secret Alpha and human prison. Let’s just say, the author strongly believes in hurting his darlings. A lot. There’s some meta in the book too, a few sly instances of the author poking fun at common YA tropes. I liked it. And while I’m still not on the Fathom/Lyric bandwagon, I did like what Fathom said to Lyric about how he expects her to be who she is, that he won’t coddle her.

After finishing RAGING SEA, I’m again looking forward to more of Lyric and the Alpha.

Socialize with the author:

Michael Buckley:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Armada by Ernest Cline

Book Review: Armada by Ernest ClineArmada by Ernest Cline
Published by Crown Publishing on July 14, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 349
Format: Hardcover
Source: Blogging For Books
Goodreads
4 Stars
Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.

No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.

It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?

At once gleefully embracing and brilliantly subverting science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before—one whose every page is infused with the pop-culture savvy that has helped make Ready Player One a phenomenon.

Book Review:

ARMADA is one of those books that’s just fun to read. I think most gamers and sci-fi fans have dreamed of the day their esoteric knowledge will save the world. Zach Lightman actually gets that opportunity, when his top 10 standing in the Armada video game makes him eligible to join the Earth Defense Alliance and save the planet from aliens bent on Earth’s destruction. From start to finish, ARMADA is a fun, geeky ride through space.

The beginning of ARMADA is a little rough, especially if you’re not up on all the cultural references. The author overloads the first part of the book with those references, and while it’s fun, it’s also something that could lose readers that aren’t familiar with every single movie or game mentioned. The author doesn’t give a lot of context for his references, so when he uses them as a description for something else, it gets confusing. However, the plethora of cultural references does even out after a while, and if you’re a super nerd, you’ll probably enjoy all of them.

Zach is also a bit bland, but I didn’t mind that in ARMADA. Because he didn’t have a lot of personality, I was able to imagine myself in the action. I won’t spoil the story itself, but I did really like the idea of using a video game as secret government training, as well as the gaming technology the author adapted for war against the aliens.

Even though I have some complaints about ARMADA, mostly I enjoyed the book. It was the perfect read for me at the time — I recommend it for when you want something fun and geeky.

Socialize with the author:

Ernest Cline:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Conqueror’s Wife by Stephanie Thornton

Book Review: The Conqueror’s Wife by Stephanie ThorntonThe Conqueror's Wife by Stephanie Thornton
Published by NAL on December 1, 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 512
Format: ARC
Source: Blog Tour, Edelweiss, Publisher
Goodreads
4 Stars
We are the women who loved Alexander the Great. We were lovers and murderers, innocents and soldiers.
And without us, Alexander would have been only a man.
Instead he was a god.

330s, B.C.E., Greece: Alexander, a handsome young warrior of Macedon, begins his quest to conquer the ancient world. But he cannot ascend to power, and keep it, without the women who help to shape his destiny.

His spirited younger half-sister, Thessalonike, yearns to join her brother and see the world. Instead, it is Alexander's boyhood companion who rides with him into war while Thessalonike remains behind. Far away, crafty princess Drypetis will not stand idly by as Alexander topples her father from Persia's throne. And after Alexander conquers her tiny kingdom, Roxana, the beautiful and cunning daughter of a minor noble, wins Alexander’s heart…and will commit any crime to secure her place at his side.

Within a few short years, Alexander controls an empire more vast than the civilized world has ever known. But his victories are tarnished by losses on the battlefield and treachery among his inner circle. And long after Alexander is gone, the women who are his champions, wives, and enemies will fight to claim his legacy…

Book Review:

What’s more interesting than reading about Alexander the Great? Reading his story through the eyes of the women in his life. Thessalonike, Drypetis, and Roxana aren’t as well known as Alexander, but those three women, and Hephaestion, his best friend, should be. Because author Stephanie Thornton breathed life into them, and made them much more interesting to me than Alexander himself.

Thessalonike is Alexander’s half sister. She wishes she could join him and see the world, but she’s stuck in Macedon with Alexander’s dangerous mother. Her only escape is learning to fight with her half sister, Cynnane. Drypetis is Princess Drypetis, the daughter of King Darius and the hostage of Alexander. She’s interested in all things mechanical and thwarting Alexander however she can. After nearly being sold as a whore by her father, Roxana takes her destiny into her own hands, doing anything necessary to secure her future. Hephaestion is Alexander’s best friend, sometimes lover, and the only voice of reason he’ll sometimes listen to.

The four are the main voices in THE CONQUEROR’S WIFE, and through each of their perspectives, the reader gets a good view of Alexander and the world he created. The book has a bit of a slow start, as every character is introduced and their backgrounds established. But after that, the book moves at a good pace, and it wasn’t hard to remember who anyone was, as every character has a distinct personality and storyline. I quite liked all of them, which is unusual for me, as I typically have a favorite character. But the author did such a good job with everyone, and made me want to spend more time with everyone.

Because the characters all have their own thoughts about Alexander — good and bad — Alexander himself isn’t romanticized, which I appreciated. He’s such a famous historical figure that it would be easy to turn him into a Gary Stu. I could tell that the author did her research, showing the good and bad sides of Alexander, and also of the empire he built.

THE CONQUEROR’S WIFE is over 500 pages, so it’s a good, meaty book, and I could have read another couple hundred after I finished the book. I also appreciated that the author showed life after Alexander’s death for the characters, giving their conclusions instead of just ending the book.

Socialize with the author:

Stephanie Thornton:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Medicis Daughter by Sophie Perinot

Book Review: Medicis Daughter by Sophie PerinotMédicis Daughter by Sophie Perinot
Published by Thomas Dunne Books on December 1, 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Blog Tour
Goodreads
4 Stars
Winter, 1564. Beautiful young Princess Margot is summoned to the court of France, where nothing is what it seems and a wrong word can lead to ruin. Known across Europe as Madame la Serpente, Margot’s intimidating mother, Queen Catherine de Médicis, is a powerful force in a country devastated by religious war. Among the crafty nobility of the royal court, Margot learns the intriguing and unspoken rules she must live by to please her poisonous family.

Eager to be an obedient daughter, Margot accepts her role as a marriage pawn, even as she is charmed by the powerful, charismatic Duc de Guise. Though Margot's heart belongs to Guise, her hand will be offered to Henri of Navarre, a Huguenot leader and a notorious heretic looking to seal a tenuous truce. But the promised peace is a mirage: her mother's schemes are endless, and her brothers plot vengeance in the streets of Paris. When Margot's wedding devolves into the bloodshed of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, she will be forced to choose between her family and her soul.

Médicis Daughter is historical fiction at its finest, weaving a unique coming-of-age story and a forbidden love with one of the most dramatic and violent events in French history.

blog tour medicis daughter

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for MEDICIS DAUGHTER by Sophie Perinot. The tour is hosted by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, and you can visit all the stops here.

Book Review:

I’m sure you’ve heard of Catherine de Médici, but have you heard of her daughter, Margot? Catherine and her sons tend to overshadow her daughters, so that was the first thing to interest me about MEDICIS DAUGHTER. I tend to like historical fiction that introduces new-to-me people, and this book was no exception.

MEDICIS DAUGHTER follows the early years of Margot’s life, from her start at court to the beginning of her marriage with Henri of Navarre. If you’re familiar with French history, you know this is a very turbulent time, but even if you aren’t, the author conveys that turbulence well through Margot’s view. The Valois are staunch Catholics, but in the interests of trying to broker peace, King Charles and his mother are willing to make a few concessions to the Protestants. In a way, those Protestants have more freedom and influence with the king and his mother than Margot does.

One of the things I liked most about MEDICIS DAUGHTER is how the author conveyed Margot’s lack of control in her life. I’m sure a lot of us would like to be royalty, but in most countries, princesses were just tools in the game of marriage alliances. Margot is no exception, and it’s easy to empathize with her pain when she’s turned down by Don Carlos, son of King Philip II, and then also refused by King Philip himself. Catherine de Médici’s preference for her sons is easy to see, particularly Henri, Duke of Anjou. Margot, though perhaps as clever as Catherine herself, is seen just as a pawn, and she can never make her mother happy. Or even be listened to, when a brother tries to malign her reputation. I also liked that the author went there with Anjou and Margot.

Over the course of the book, Margot learns how to use her circumstances to her advantage. I liked seeing her grow up and grow into herself. It was also interesting to see the rest of the royal family through Margot’s eyes, particularly her mother. I’ve read a few books with Catherine de Médici as the main character, but I preferred Perinot’s version, seeing Catherine as a mother and queen behind the throne.

I feel like the author did a good job of bringing Margot to life, as well as the French court, the royal family, Margot’s friends, and the religious wars of the times. After I finished MEDICIS DAUGHTER, I went and looked up everything I could find about Margot. That’s the mark of a good read: the author hooked me into the historical figure and I want to learn everything about them. I do hope Sophie Perinot continues Margot’s tale, because her life was even more interesting after her marriage.

About the author:

author sophie perinotSOPHIE PERINOT is the author of The Sister Queens and one of six contributing authors of A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii. A former attorney, Perinot is now a full-time writer. She lives in Great Falls, Virginia with her three children, three cats, one dog and one husband.

An active member of the Historical Novel Society, Sophie has attended all of the group’s North American Conferences and served as a panelist multiple times.
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Buy links: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

– leeanna

Book Review: Mercury Retrograde by Laura Bickle

Book Review: Mercury Retrograde by Laura BickleMercury Retrograde by Laura Bickle
Series: Dark Alchemy #2
Published by Harper Voyager Impulse on October 27, 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Blog Tour, Edelweiss
Goodreads
4 Stars
Something venomous has come to Temperance …

It's been two months since Petra Dee and her coyote sidekick Sig faced off against Temperance's resident alchemist, but things are far from quiet. When an Internet video of a massive snake in the backcountry of Yellowstone goes viral, a chase for the mythical basilisk is on. Monster hunters swarm into the area, and never one to pass up the promise of discovery, Petra joins in the search.

Among the newcomers is a snake cult on wheels―the biker gang Sisters of Serpens. Unlike some, the Sisters don't want to kill the basilisk―they want to worship it. But things get complicated when the basilisk develops a taste for human flesh that rivals the Sisters' own murderous skills.

Meanwhile, the alchemical tree of life is dying, and the undead Hanged Men of Temperance who depend on it know the basilisk may be their last chance for survival.

With time running out for everyone around her, Petra will be forced to decide who survives and who she must leave behind in this action-packed sequel to Dark Alchemy.

mercury retrograde by laura bickle blog tour

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for MERCURY RETROGRADE by Laura Bickle. As I quite enjoyed the first book in the Dark Alchemy series, DARK ALCHEMY, I was excited to get the opportunity to read and review MERCURY RETROGRADE. After my review, there’s a tour-wide giveaway.

The tour is hosted by Bewitching Book Tours, and you can visit all the stops here.

Book Review:

As a fan of Laura Bickle, I was excited to see that she was continuing her Dark Alchemy series. Earlier in the year, I read DARK ALCHEMY and enjoyed it, but I wasn’t sure if it was a standalone or not. So I was quite happy to see MERCURY RETROGRADE pop up on my radar.

MERCURY RETROGRADE picks up two months after DARK ALCHEMY. Although I recommend reading the first book, I think you could read MERCURY RETROGRADE as a standalone and be okay. The author explains events that happened in the previous book as necessary. But you’ll definitely have a better appreciation of everything if you read book one.

In MERCURY RETROGRADE, Petra and her sidekick coyote Sig face off against a gigantic snake that’s turned Yellowstone into its personal hunting ground. But with giant snake videos going viral, they aren’t the only ones in the park — there are plenty of tourists, monster hunters, and even the government. Also on the search for the snake are Gabe and the Hanged Men, who need the snake’s blood to save their tree. As if that weren’t enough, there’s a cult of motorcycle-riding women who worship snakes … and they want to feed everyone to the giant snake.

I never know quite what I’m going to get with a Laura Bickle book, which is one of my favorite parts of reading her work. She twists things in ways I don’t expect, and always puts her own spin on traditional fantasy creatures. I was pretty creeped out by the giant snake, but I also sympathized with it by the end of the book. I also enjoy her dark humor and sarcasm, sprinkled at appropriate points. And lastly, she’s ace at writing great animal characters. I was overjoyed to see more of Sig!

I enjoyed MERCURY RETROGRADE even more than DARK ALCHEMY, and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for Petra, Sig, and Gabe.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:

laura bickleLaura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. After graduating with an MA in Sociology – Criminology from Ohio State University and an MLIS in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she patrolled the stacks at the public library and worked with data systems in criminal justice. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs. Her work has been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016.
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Art of Language Invention by David J. Peterson

Book Review: The Art of Language Invention by David J. PetersonThe Art of Language Invention by David J. Peterson
Published by Penguin on September 29, 2015
Genres: Non Fiction
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
4 Stars
An insider’s tour through the construction of invented languages from the bestselling author and creator of languages for the HBO series Game of Thrones and the Syfy series Defiance.

From master language creator David J. Peterson comes a creative guide to language construction for sci-fi and fantasy fans, writers, game creators, and language lovers. Peterson offers a captivating overview of language creation, covering its history from Tolkien’s creations and Klingon to today’s thriving global community of conlangers. He provides the essential tools necessary for inventing and evolving new languages, using examples from a variety of languages including his own creations, punctuated with references to everything from Star Wars to Michael Jackson. Along the way, behind-the-scenes stories lift the curtain on how he built languages like Dothraki for HBO’s Game of Thrones and Shiväisith for Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World, and an included phrasebook will start fans speaking Peterson’s constructed languages. The Art of Language Invention is an inside look at a fascinating culture and an engaging entry into a flourishing art form—and it might be the most fun you’ll ever have with linguistics.

Book Review:

THE ART OF LANGUAGE INVENTION is a thorough, funny introduction to the basics of creating a language. Apparently, making a new language involves a lot more than making a word list or alphabet. Who knew?

I tend to geek out over learning how things are done, and I learned a lot reading this book. I swear I learned something on every page. The author gives information on a ton of topics, such as the different types of oral sounds, how grammar plays a role, and even a quick primer on font creation. There’s also sections on how language evolves in different ways and why that’s important, morphology, and thinking about how aliens might speak. I had no idea just how much work and creativity goes into language creation, nor did I know that there are communities of people who create languages for fun.

THE ART OF LANGUAGE INVENTION really could be a textbook. It is a bit dense at times, but I’m just a layperson, not a linguist or beginning conlager. To keep things from getting too dense, the author includes case studies on how he created languages for shows such as Game of Thrones and Defiance. I could see those sections being super interesting for fans of those shows, since it really was cool to see how he evolved Dothraki from a few words in the books to a real language. Lastly, the author has a humorous writing style, and he uses jokes and pop culture references to make his examples easy to understand.

I’d recommend THE ART OF LANGUAGE INVENTION for fans who want to know more about Dothraki, Castithan, Irathient, or any of the other languages created by the author; people who want to dip their toes into creating a new language; or even sci-fi/fantasy writers, because just thinking about how a language might evolve could help with worldbuilding.

Giveaway:

Thanks to the generosity of Penguin, I’m offering a copy of this book for giveaway! US only.

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Socialize with the author:

David J. Peterson:
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– leeanna