Book Review: The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

Book Review: The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de BodardThe House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard
Series: Dominion of the Fallen #1
Published by Roc on August 18, 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 402
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Goodreads
2 Stars
Multi-award winning author Aliette de Bodard, brings her story of the War in Heaven to Paris, igniting the City of Light in a fantasy of divine power and deep conspiracy…

In the late Twentieth Century, the streets of Paris are lined with haunted ruins. The Great Magicians’ War left a trail of devastation in its wake. The Grand Magasins have been reduced to piles of debris, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine has turned black with ashes and rubble and the remnants of the spells that tore the city apart. But those that survived still retain their irrepressible appetite for novelty and distraction, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over France’s once grand capital.

Once the most powerful and formidable, House Silverspires now lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls.

Within the House, three very different people must come together: a naive but powerful Fallen angel; an alchemist with a self-destructive addiction; and a resentful young man wielding spells of unknown origin. They may be Silverspires’ salvation—or the architects of its last, irreversible fall. And if Silverspires falls, so may the city itself.

Book Review:

THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS is one of those books I should have loved. Fallen angels, magic, and a Paris destroyed by war? That’s right up my alley.

Unfortunately, the author’s writing style just wasn’t for me. I struggled to get into this book, and I struggled to keep reading it due to the slow pacing and distant characters. I can see why some people are loving THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS, because there are some cool idea here. But I’m a character-driven reader, so I usually need to get behind at least one of the characters and get to know them to enjoy a book. In this book, all the characters were far away, and I felt as though I was just reading their actions, instead of knowing why many acted as they did.

Honestly, THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS just left me feeling confused. There’s a lot of description of House Silverspires and the city itself, which did really give me the sense of a Paris destroyed by normal war and then a magic war between the Fallen. On that aspect, the author did a fantastic job of making me feel like I was beside Philippe or Selene. But at the same time, there was a lot of description, and I just wanted some action to happen! When I finally did finish the book, I wasn’t sure what happened to some of the characters, because some of the really big moments happened in the blink of an eye. THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS is the first in a series, but I’m not sure where the author will go from here — it felt very much like a one book deal to me.

This review doesn’t make a lot of sense, but really, that’s how I felt when reading THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS: very disjointed. I’d recommend checking out an excerpt if you’re interested in the book to get a feel for its style.

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Aliette de Bodard:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi NovikUprooted by Naomi Novik
Published by Del Rey on May 19, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 438
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
4 Stars
“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Book Review:

UPROOTED’S description likens the book to a Grimm fairy tale, and that’s a comparison I’d agree with. The scariest thing in the book isn’t a particular bad guy, but an entire forest: the Wood. It’s malevolent and corruptive, and if you venture inside, you won’t come out the same.

Agnieszka lives on the edge of the Wood. Her valley is protected by the Dragon, a great wizard who demands a girl every ten years to serve in his Tower as payment. Everyone expects that Kasia, beautiful and talented Kasia who’s prepared all her life for this indenture, will be taken. Agnieszka’s devastated about it, because Kasia’s her best friend. But when she herself is chosen, everything Agnieszka knows changes.

UPROOTED has an Eastern European folk tale feel, and since so many fantasies are set in pseudo-Western European countries, I appreciated that. I also liked how different types of magic were presented. Agnieszka’s chosen because she has magical ability, but when the Dragon tries to teach her his spells, they don’t work and tire her. Why? Because her magic is intuitive; she feels her way through spells rather than commands them.

I really liked the Wood in UPROOTED. It’s delightfully creepy, and I liked how the author slowly revealed information about it. The Wood was my favorite part of the book; I especially liked the ultimate reveal about its creation. Agnieszka’s stubbornness also endeared her to me, because I felt her attitude and reactions to events were quite realistic (and probably ones I’d have myself).

UPROOTED did have a couple of downsides for me. At times, I thought the pace was really slow, and my attention would wander while reading. I also wasn’t a fan of the relationship that develops between Agnieszka and the Dragon. Thankfully the romance isn’t in your face, but I just didn’t see why they were attracted to each other. Lastly, I wanted more character development for the Dragon and Kasia. A lot of development was put into the Wood; I wish even a bit of that had been given to the Dragon and Kasia, since they are important characters.

As far as I can tell, UPROOTED is a standalone, and I did like the way it ended. It’s always nice to get a complete story in a book, rather than have to wait 2-3 years or more. But at the same time, I wouldn’t mind a return to this world.

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Naomi Novik:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

Book Review: Mechanica by Betsy CornwellMechanica by Betsy Cornwell
Published by Clarion Books on August 25, 2015
Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
4 Stars
Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.

Gorgeous prose and themes of social justice and family shine in this richly imagined Cinderella retelling about an indomitable inventor who finds her prince . . . but realizes she doesn't want a fairy tale happy ending after all.

Book Review:

I really like the idea behind MECHANICA. While inspired by Cinderella, MECHANICA is more than a fairytale retelling. Nicolette is determined to make her own way in the world by becoming a successful inventor just like her mother. But with both of her parents gone, Nicolette’s been turned into a servant for her Stepmother and step-sisters. On her sixteenth birthday, she receives a letter from her long-dead mother, informing her how to get into the workshop hidden in the cellar.

Having the workshop changes everything. Suddenly Nicolette’s able to invent her own machines, rather than just fix the ones left from her mother’s day. Nicolette comes up with a plan for independence, working very hard to perfect her projects and find ways of making money. Unlike many fairytale princesses, she doesn’t sit around and mope while waiting for a prince to rescue her.

I was a little wary at first when she met Fin and Caro, and warier still when she had such strong feelings for Fin. But. BUT. I love how the author handled the whole thing in the end. Nicolette thought about her feelings for Fin quite a bit, and a lot of the time, he was like an imaginary friend, someone to talk to during the long, rough days. And when there’s a chance for them to be together, she thinks about what she wants, not what everyone else wants. MECHANICA doesn’t go the usual route of romance in YA, and I was so, so, SO happy about that. I also liked that the author mentioned how the Fey have friend families instead of spouses.

MECHANICA did have a couple of things I have to nitpick. Is there another book coming? I can’t find any information so far, but I sure hope so. There were some unresolved things that were really built up, like the Ashes. I also hoped for more information on what happened during/after the Exposition, since attending it was so important to Nicolette. I didn’t find MECHANICA to have a real big climax, just a kind of whimper at the end, regarding both the Exposition and the Steps.

Overall, however, I quite enjoyed MECHANICA and Nicolette. I really do hope there is a sequel, so I can watch her continue to grow and find out more about the fascinating world the author created.

Socialize with the author:

Betsy Cornwell:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman

Book Review: Legacy of Kings by Eleanor HermanLegacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman
Series: Blood of Gods and Royals #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on August 18, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise.

Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to newcomer Katerina, who must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But Kat’s first love, Jacob, will go to unthinkable lengths to win her, even if it means competing for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince. And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet fiancée, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.

Weaving fantasy with the salacious and fascinating details of real history, New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman reimagines the greatest emperor the world has ever known: Alexander the Great, in the first book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.

Book Review:

I love historical fiction, especially historical fiction that covers less popular time periods than Tudor England or WWII. There’s nothing wrong with those periods, but there are thousands of years of stories to tell rather than rehashing the same thing over and over. So, I was obviously excited to start LEGACY OF KINGS. Alexander the Great as a boy? Bring it on!

LEGACY OF KINGS is the first in the Blood of Gods and Royals series. It’s over 400 pages, and for the first book in a series, it felt about a hundred pages too long. Part of the reason why I felt it was too long is there’s a huge cast of main characters. There are seven! The author had to spend a lot of time introducing everyone and setting up their arcs. I’m sure all the characters are important in their own way, but a few were boring for me, because they didn’t get a lot of page time and I didn’t know enough about them. Yes, I know that’s contradictory, but I wish the author had slimmed down her cast and really focused on characters such as Alexander and Cynane.

Due to the large cast, LEGACY OF KINGS has a slow start. It takes the book a while to get going, and switching perspectives didn’t immerse me in the time period at first. But I kept going, and after I’d gone through everyone’s perspectives at least once, the book got better. I swore I was reading a historical soap opera — but in a good, really entertaining way.

I think the author did a great job of showing life in ancient Macedonia. I really liked the little details, such as how there’s a bucket of sand in most rooms in case of fire. I also like how there’s some magic in LEGACY OF KINGS, and hints of more to come. It’s the end of the Age of Gods … or is it? I don’t know, and I can’t wait to find out.

I wavered between three and four stars for LEGACY OF KINGS. It’s a book I liked because of the time period and the story. But I didn’t love it, due to the large cast of characters and the slow pacing. Based on the ending, I think the author’s going to really amp things up in the next book, EMPIRE OF DUST, so this is a series I’m eager to continue.

Socialize with the author:

Eleanor Herman:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Half a War by Joe Abercrombie

Book Review: Half a War by Joe AbercrombieHalf a War by Joe Abercrombie
Series: Shattered Sea #3
Published by Del Rey on July 28, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
4 Stars
Words are weapons

Princess Skara has seen all she loved made blood and ashes. She is left with only words. But the right words can be as deadly as any blade. She must conquer her fears and sharpen her wits to a lethal edge if she is to reclaim her birthright.

Only half a war is fought with swords

The deep-cunning Father Yarvi has walked a long road from crippled slave to king’s minister. He has made allies of old foes and stitched together an uneasy peace. But now the ruthless Grandmother Wexen has raised the greatest army since the elves made war on God, and put Bright Yilling at its head – a man who worships no god but Death.

Sometimes one must fight evil with evil

Some – like Thorn Bathu and the sword-bearer Raith – are born to fight, perhaps to die. Others – like Brand the smith and Koll the wood-carver – would rather stand in the light. But when Mother War spreads her iron wings, she may cast the whole Shattered Sea into darkness.

Book Review:

I loved the first two books in the Shattered Sea trilogy: HALF A KING and HALF THE WORLD. So to say I was looking forward to the conclusion, HALF A WAR, is an understatement. I like my fantasy dark and gritty, and Joe Abercrombie certainly delivers on that — and the Viking feel of the series doesn’t hurt, either.

HALF A WAR is the perfect title for this book, because half the war against the High King is fought in battle and the other half is fought with words. The two main characters of HALF A WAR each fight in their own way. Princess Skara, who loses her family and country to the High King’s men can only use words and her cunning to save what’s left of Throvenland. Raith, Grom-gil-Gorm’s sword bearer, only wants to fight and surrender to battle lust.

I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I didn’t enjoy HALF A WAR as much as the other two books. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I think it’s that Skara and Raith weren’t as strong for me as Yarvi and Thorn. Yarvi and Thorn are in HALF A WAR, and I did like seeing Yarvi’s machinations through Skara’s eyes, but … I don’t know. I just didn’t connect with Skara and Raith and Koll (Father Yarvi’s apprentice), which is probably why I wasn’t as into this book, as I’m a character-driven reader.

I did appreciate that the author included a few more hints about the elves. Their weapons play an important role, and I had a moment when I put everything together.

My expectations were high going into HALF A WAR, and while they weren’t quite met, I still enjoyed the book. I like that this trilogy considers what revenge and vengeance can lead to and the effects of war on the average person.

Let’s talk about it:

What do you think about each book in a trilogy having a different set of main characters?

Socialize with the author:

Joe Abercrombie:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

Book Review: Circus Mirandus by Cassie BeasleyCircus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
Published by Dial Books on June 2, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
5 Stars
Fans of Big Fish, Peter Pan, and Roald Dahl will fall in love with Circus Mirandus, which celebrates the power of seeing magic in world.

Do you believe in magic?
Micah Tuttle does.

Even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve, Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real. And the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather.

The only problem is, the Lightbender doesn't want to keep his promise. And now it's up to Micah to get the miracle he came for.

Book Review:

CIRCUS MIRANDUS is a magical book.

Yes, it’s about a magical circus, so you could assume some magic there, but there’s magic in the characters, the story, the relationships — everything, really. When I started reading this book, I was 14 chapters in before I knew it, and later I didn’t want to turn the last page.

CIRCUS MIRANDUS is a book you can read on a few levels. One, for kids to experience a fantastical circus and the power of relationships. Two, for adults to remember the power of magic and hopefully to think that believing in magic is a good thing, and to see how it can help anyone through tough times.

I think the most impactful thing I can say about this book is that it made me ugly cry at one point and left me filled with hope by the end. Very few books affect me emotionally, but CIRCUS MIRANDUS was one. Why? Everything about this book is fantastic and so well done.

I ached for Micah. At the start of the book, he’s facing the loss of his grandfather Ephraim, who is really more of a father to him. Aunt Gertrudis tries to keep them apart in their last days together, and gets angry any time they share their special stories of Circus Mirandus. Ephraim visited the circus as a youth, and was given a miracle. He’s hung onto it for years, but now is the time to use it — and Micah’s determined he’ll get to do so.

One little thing I especially loved about CIRCUS MIRANDUS was that we got to see the magic circus from both Ephraim and Micah’s eyes. I thought it really added to the book that the author included chapters from a young Ephraim, who went through something very similar to Micah.

I have so much love for CIRCUS MIRANDUS. My experience while reading was amazing, and I can’t recommend it enough.

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Cassie Beasley:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Dungeoneers by John David Anderson

Book Review: The Dungeoneers by John David AndersonThe Dungeoneers by John David Anderson
Series: Dungeoneers #1
Published by Walden Pond Press on June 23, 2015
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Pages: 448
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads
4 Stars
The Dungeoneers is an action-packed, funny, and heartbreaking middle grade fantasy-adventure from the author of the acclaimed Sidekicked and Minion, John David Anderson.

The world is not a fair place, and Colm Candorly knows it. While his parents and eight sisters seem content living on a lowly cobbler's earnings, Colm can't help but feel that everyone has the right to a more comfortable life. It's just a question of how far you're willing to go to get it.

In an effort to help make ends meet, Colm uses his natural gift for pickpocketing to pilfer a pile of gold from the richer residents of town, but his actions place him at the mercy of a mysterious man named Finn Argos, a gilded-toothed, smooth-tongued rogue who gives Colm a choice: he can be punished for his thievery, or he can become a member of Thwodin's Legions, a guild of dungeoneers who take what they want and live as they will. Colm soon finds himself part of a family of warriors, mages, and hunters, learning to work together in a quest to survive and, perhaps, to find a bit of treasure along the way.

Book Review:

THE DUNGEONEERS has a healthy helping of Dungeons and Dragons, a dash of Harry Potter, and a heaping spoonful of humor and fun. I ate this book up like candy — it was much better than the endless stew served at Thwodin’s Legion.

Colm Canderly has eight sisters who love to torment him (but they love him, too). But that’s not the worst of his problems. He’s from a poor family, and no matter how much cobbling work his father does, there’s never enough to go around. So one day, he decides to lift the purses of wealthy men … just to help the family, of course … but discovers he has a real talent for thievery. Naturally, his honest father isn’t happy, and insists Colm give the money back.

Enter Finn. A member of Thwodin’s Legion, a premiere dungeoning guild, Finn recognizes Colm’s talent, and offers him the opportunity of a lifetime. What twelve-year-old boy wouldn’t jump at the chance to make lots of gold, fight orcs, and get his name out there? At the guild hall, Colm is teamed up with his party, consisting of Lena the Barbarian (who faints at the sight of her own blood), Quinn the Mage (who stutters when he’s nervous, casting unpredictable spells), and Serene the Druid (who’s scared of animals with lots of teeth). They must learn to work together, balancing each others’ strengths and weaknesses, to survive in orc-infested, trap-laden dungeons.

THE DUNGEONEERS was a treat to read. A funny, well-written, fantastical middle grade book great for kids and adults. I do think it’s a tad long, as there are some chapters without a lot of action or story forwarding. But the characters are all developed — all unique, with their own personalities that expand beyond their party roles. I enjoyed watching their friendship grow, and watching them train together. I appreciated that the author put time into showing how a rogue might practice his skills.

THE DUNGEONEERS is the perfect book for when you can’t find someone to play D&D with, or when you want to escape into a dungeon and come out with storybook gold without dodging boring orc traps!

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John David Anderson:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

Book Review: The Winner’s Crime by Marie RutkoskiThe Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Series: Winner's Trilogy #2
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) on March 3, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 402
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
1 Stars
Book two of the dazzling Winner's Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement... if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

Book Review:

I wasn’t a huge fan of THE WINNER’S CURSE last year, but I decided to give the second book in the trilogy, THE WINNER’S CRIME, a try because I was curious about the world. One of my big complaints about book one was the lack of worldbuilding, but there was enough to hook me and leave me wanting more.

Unfortunately, I shouldn’t have bothered with THE WINNER’S CRIME. Because I wasn’t a fan of Kestrel and Arin’s relationship in the first book, I really couldn’t stand all the time they spent angsting about each other in this one. THE WINNER’S CRIME is incredibly slow paced, with Kestrel and Arin going back and forth on liking each other, on reasons why they can and can’t trust each other, on why they can and can’t be together. I found Arin to be somewhat of a bully in this book, trying to force Kestrel to admit she likes him when he knows both of their lives are in danger anytime they meet, even in secret.

THE WINNER’S CRIME also has a huge pet peeve of mine. Kestrel is supposed to be incredibly intelligent, but now that she’s in love with Arin, she acts like an idiot. She’s under the Valorian emperor’s nose, and he repeatedly shows and tells her that even thinking about Arin isn’t a good idea if she wants to stay alive. But Kestrel thinks she’s above every warning, and stupidly spies for Herran. For what reason? I have no freaking clue, other than maybe she enjoys putting her life in danger?

THE WINNER’S CRIME suffers from middle book syndrome: not very much happens. Seriously, I think you could skip this book and move right onto the third book if it was available.

Socialize with the author:

Marie Rutkoski:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Moseh’s Staff by A.W. Exley

Book Review: Moseh’s Staff by A.W. ExleyMoseh's Staff by A.W. Exley
Series: Artifact Hunters #4
Published by Curiosity Quills Press on May 18, 2015
Genres: Adult, Adventure, Fantasy, Romance, Steampunk
Pages: 295
Format: eARC
Source: Blog Tour, Publisher
Goodreads
4 Stars
All things must come to an end…

London is in the frozen grip of an unnatural winter and Queen Victoria wants answers. Cara and Nate know who – the Curator. The queen's artifact hunters just don't know what is responsible. Cara is on the trail of an ancient and powerful artifact capable of freezing a city and stirring demons. First she must confront her past and her father's history. Only in learning why her father became a disciple of the Curator can she hope to learn what the old noble seeks and why he is so fascinated by her.

Then tragedy strikes and the bond forged by Nefertiti's Heart is severed. Nate without Cara succumbs to his darkness and he lashes out at those he holds responsible for her loss. Meanwhile, in the shadows, Inspector Fraser waits for his opportunity to pull down the man known as the villainous viscount.

With London entombed in ice and all hope lost, could this be the end…

moseh's staff blog tour

Publisher Curiosity Quills is having a month long review tour to celebrate their May releases. You can check out all the stops. I’m reviewing MOSEH’S STAFF, the last book in A.W. Exley’s Artifact Hunters series. I’ve reviewed all the books in the series: NEFERTITI’S HEART, HATSHEPSUT’S COLLAR, and NERO’S FIDDLE.

Book Review:

MOSEH’S STAFF is the fourth book in A.W. Exley’s Artifact Hunters series. In the past, I’ve described the series as quirky and unique. A good blend of historical fiction, fantasy, romance, adventure, mythology, and steampunk. These descriptions hold true with MOSEH’S STAFF, which is sadly the last book in the series. I’m sad to see the end of Cara and Nate, but I do like how the author finished everything.

As Queen Victoria’s artifact hunters, Nate and Cara must figure out what artifact is causing endless winter and misery in London. It’s April, but the Thames is frozen. London is the only area affected, and Victoria’s not very happy about it. Cara and Nate have a good idea of who is behind events — the Curator — but how to stop him is a different question. How do you stop a man who bleeds water instead of blood?

The hunt becomes even more personal when the Curator reveals his intentions to take Cara as his own, severing the bond of Nefertiti’s Heart that connects her and Nate. I love Cara and Nate together, but it was great to see Nate on his own as well. The author showed more of Nate’s darker side, the no holds barred man he was before Cara’s presence in his life. Nate’s the guy I’d want on my side if someone took me, because he stops at nothing to rescue Cara.

There’s a lot of revelations in MOSEH’S STAFF, tying up loose ends from previous books in the series, such as explaining why Cara and Nate fit so perfectly together, or bringing back the dragon from HATSHEPSUT’S COLLAR. Many of Cara and Nate’s friends show up in MOSEH’S STAFF (minus Loki, sadface), rallying around Nate to help find Cara. And Cara, kick butt woman that she is, isn’t content to sit back and be rescued. She confronts her own demons in MOSEH’S STAFF while trying to figure out which artifact powers the Curator.

All in all, MOSEH’S STAFF is a satisfying conclusion to the Artifact Hunters series, full of what I loved about the previous books: Cara and Nate, twists on mythology, humor in dark moments, and lots of action.

About the author:

author a.w. exley
Books and writing have always been an enormous part of Anita’s life.

She survived school by hiding out in the library, with several thousand fictional characters for company. At university, she overcame the boredom of studying accountancy by squeezing in Egyptology papers and learning to read hieroglyphics.

Today, Anita writes steampunk novels with a sexy edge and an Egyptian twist. She lives in rural New Zealand surrounded by an assortment of weird and wonderful equines, felines, canine and homicidal chickens.
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Buy links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

– leeanna

Book Review: The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

Book Review: The Witch Hunter by Virginia BoeckerThe Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker
Series: The Witch Hunter #1
Published by Brown Books for Young Readers on June 2, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
The magic and suspense of Graceling meet the political intrigue and unrest of Game of Thrones in this riveting fantasy debut.

Your greatest enemy isn't what you fight, but what you fear.

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king's best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she's accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.

Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that's been laid upon him.

But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth's witch hunting past--if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she's thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.

Virginia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice in this unforgettable fantasy debut.

Book Review:

THE WITCH HUNTER is described as “The magic and suspense of GRACELING meet the political intrigue and unrest of GAME OF THRONES in this riveting fantasy debut.”

Uhm, no. It’s not.

First, let me say I’m really tired of publishers describing books as “X meets Y.” I understand why they do it, but when the book is neither, it’s incredibly misleading. And believe me, most of the time those comparisons are untrue.

So what is THE WITCH HUNTER? It’s an average YA fantasy. There were times it was good and times I wondered why I wasn’t in love with it like everyone else seemed to be. The writing is decent and the book is readable. But the plot is predictable and there’s not a lot of memorable stuff.

Elizabeth is a witch hunter, one of the best, but lately she’s been distracted and has made mistakes. When she’s discovered with herbs in her pocket, she’s sentenced to death, just like all the witches she’s captured. And then when she’s rescued by Anglia’s most wanted wizard, she starts to question everything she’s been told.

THE WITCH HUNTER has a historical setting, but it’s not really developed. Anglia is basically 16th century England with witches. Elizabeth is sexually abused by the king, but her feelings on this are never explored; it’s just a thing to get her into trouble. I would’ve expected some reaction, especially when she crushes on John, the cute wizard healer. The plus about their romance is the author doesn’t go the insta-love route, but I’m not sure why John liked Elizabeth.

For me, THE WITCH HUNTER is one of those books I enjoyed while reading and that’s it. If I thought more about it, I’d probably rate it lower, so I’ll stop here. It’s not a book that’ll stick with me, but that’s okay.

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– leeanna