Okay, this is a few hours late because my kid had to pick the one night I didn’t have my post scheduled early to not sleep. GRRR!
Thanks for T. L. Shreffler for asking me to be a part of the tour. I loved the first two books, so it was an easy decision to review the third book. You can check out my reviews of book 1 and 2 HERE.
My review of VOLCRIAN’S HUNT contains only minor spoilers from the other books and should be okay to read if you haven’t read the series. I do wholeheartedly recommend this series for those that like fantasy that isn’t predictable. There are dark moments in this book, but nothing as traumatic as what happened in book two.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on the tour!
Volcrian’s Hunt by T. L. Shrieffler
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Runaway Pen
Published: September 30th, 2913
Links: Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble
A plague is spreading across the land. Crops are rotting. People are dying in the streets. Sora, with the help of her magical Cat’s Eye necklace, is the only one who can stop it. She must travel overseas to the Lost Isles, a place of legend and mystery. Only there can she destroy the bloodmage, Volcrian, putting an end to the curse. She is accompanied by Crash, a lethal assassin who once threatened—and saved—her life. But Sora is beginning to question her dark companion. He seems to be carrying a secret; a hidden past that could endanger them all. Meanwhile, they are hunted by an underground society known as the Shade. For centuries, the Shade has waited for the perfect opportunity to step into the light. Now they are perilously close to resurrecting a Dark God and unleashing a wave of unimaginable destruction. They only need to collect the three sacred weapons, and Sora has already found two….
VOLCRIAN’S HAND won’t disappoint fans of THE CAT’S EYE CHRONICLES. Though it isn’t quite as shocking or traumatic as the first two books, the events that unfold in this book are both unpredictable and captivating.
Alas, the love-triangle present in book two ended and the romance that finally develops between Sora and her companion is both sweet and slow. I’m so happy that these two characters finally connected, even though the third wheel will be truly missed. Sigh. The chemistry between them is so genuine and restrained. It’s not like a typical YA book, where the main characters are gushing their never-ending love for each other by chapter two. With these two, you feel the love. It’s implied instead of forced down your throat like a bottle of maple syrup. Uck.
Although I liked the scenes with Sora’s mother, I don’t quite like her, especially as the book progressed. Maybe because she’s over-confident because Healers have the equivalent of diplomatic immunity and those type of people I like to see trip, fall on their face, and learn some humility. Eh, maybe it’s just me. Her drunk companion is possibly my favorite minor character of the book, especially after I learned of his background. The other minor characters from book one and two are still here, but they don’t get much screen time. I liked how they retained their depth and unique personalities despite this and I’m really hoping that they show up in the next book.
There were one or two scenes were the POV wasn’t consistent and I didn’t feel connected to any of the characters. I think the main time this happened was when Sora met up with her shipwrecked companions. Besides these few scenes, the chapters flowed seamlessly. The world building is unique and the settings colorful. I can’t help but wish that there was some sort of map attached to the book so I could ‘map’ out where places are in relationship to each other.
I do recommend that you read the first two books in the series before diving into this one. There are enough hints scattered throughout the story of the events in previous books to ease confusion, although it will be hard to understand why Sora’s cat’s-eye is both a blessing and a curse for her.
(I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.)
A noblewoman, an assassin, and a soul-stealing necklace….
Sora planned on running away from her wedding, but she never expected to be kidnapped! Dumped into a world of magical races, arcane jewelry and forgotten lore, she finds herself at the mercy of a dangerous assassin, haunted by an even darker past. She yearns for freedom, but he won’t let her go—not when her Cat’s Eye necklace is the only thing that can save his life.
But the necklace itself presents a problem. It is an ancient device from the long forgotten War of the Races, and its magic has the ability to steal souls. Can Sora learn to wield its power—or will the power wield her? (Winner of the SKOW 2006 Best Fantasy Award)
Sora is having visions. Strange, terrifying visions brought on by her Cat’s Eye necklace, an ancient and magical device. Spurred to action, she leaves her mother’s cabin to find Crash, the mysterious assassin who once changed her life. She is certain that together, they can discover what the necklace is trying to tell her.
Crash is still on the run from the dark sorcerer, Volcrian, but now a plague is spreading across the land. Volcrian’s quest for vengeance has awakened something far more evil than himself; a force that could destroy the entire kingdom. Together, he and Sora must harness the power of the Cat’s Eye and kill the sorcerer before it’s too late.
The Outside by Laura Bickle
Genre: YA Horror, Vampires
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books
Published: September 3rd, 2013
One girl. One road. One chance to save what remains…
After a plague of vampires is unleashed in the world, Katie is kicked out of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. Now in exile, she enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two “English” friends and a horse by her side. Together they seek answers and other survivors—but each sunset brings the threat of vampire attack, and each sunrise the threat of starvation.
And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can these new people be trusted, and are they even people at all?
In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, it’s up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to leave behind in return?
I was not blown away from THE OUTSIDE like I was with THE HALLOWED ONES. The novelty part about the first book with the blend of vampires and the Amish community is non-existent in this book. Besides Katie’s ignorance of modern movies and prudish behavior, she isn’t much different than the average heroine. Because of the dissapointment, I originally wanted to rate this book much lower. However, the book itself is not bad. It just wasn’t at all what I hoped for after loving THE HALLOWED ONES.
Katie, Alex, and Ginger are on the run from vampires that act so much like zombies that I keep wanting to call them that instead. They travel by day and rely on their religious protection during the night (Katie has her paper and Alex has his tattoos). The interactions between Katie and Alex highlight their fundamental differences and leaves no room for chemistry. Sorry romance fans!
I felt like the science aspect of the novel lacked credibility. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out how to explain without revealing major spoilers. Plus, the minor characters in the last couple chapters felt paper-thin and relied heavily on stereotypes. The ending made sense, but didn’t leave me satisfied. I’m actually relieved that there doesn’t seem to be a third book in the series.
In defense of Laura Bickle, her writing and scenes were fantastically written and the three main characters alive with personality. My favorite scenes were the ones inside the church with the pastor and his “pets”. LOVED the atmosphere of those scenes. If you are a fan of THE HALLOWED ONES, there is a good chance that you’d love THE OUTSIDE too. It just didn’t click with me.
(I received a copy of this book from the publisher/Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.)Read More
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Dutton Books
Published: January 10th, 2012
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.
Let me begin by saying that I originally had no intention of reading this book. But then I had multiple people tell me that it was quite possibly the best book they’ve read all year…or ever. Okay. So, when I finally decided to pick up the book (which took several trips to the bookstore, since it always seemed to be out of stock), I was prepared to be disappointed.
THE FAULTS OF OUR STARS wasn’t the best book ever, but it deserved the massive hype.
It’s refreshing to read a book where the teenagers aren’t dumbed down into hormonal, whiny, selfish, depressed characters. In most YA books, the focus is either on survival or romance. In THE FAULTS OF OUR STARS, the characters already know they’re going to lose the battle against cancer, so all they have to do is wait.
I liked the philosophical debates between Hazel and Augustus. Considering that they don’t have any of the normal teenage activities to keep them busy like schoolwork, prom, or sports, it makes sense that they’d spend more time pondering the reason for their existence. My older brother was like that in high school. He had no interest in “normal” teenage activities and spent most of his time doing calculus for fun and debating scientific theories. What I’m saying is that there are teenagers out there that do talk like they do in THE FAULTS IN OUR STARS, so I, personally, had no problem with the philosophy or SAT vocabulary.
The author has a unique writing style that implies a lot and ventures into territory that most authors wouldn’t dare. His characters are politically uncorrect and make jokes that are only funny in inner circles. If you were to read sections of this book aloud, out of context. people will think you’re a heartless bastard. How dare you make jokes about a one-legged man or a blind cancer kid!?
The romance between Hazel and Augustus is atypical, yet touching to witness. They know that when one or both goes that there’s only a handful of people that will remember them. They don’t have the time or energy to change the world, but I think that the author managed to make these characters immortal in his writing. People will remember THE FAULTS IN OUR STARS long after the war with cancer is lost.
BTW, I didn’t cry. I did laugh through parts and the ending made me sad, but it takes a lot to make me cry.
(I purchased this book from my local bookstore.)Read More
The Crown Tower by Michael J. Sullivan
Published: August 6th, 2013
TWO MEN WHO HATE EACH OTHER. ONE IMPOSSIBLE MISSION. A LEGEND IN THE MAKING.
A warrior with nothing to fight for is paired with a thieving assassin with nothing to lose. Together they must steal a treasure that no one can reach. The Crown Tower is the impregnable remains of the grandest fortress ever built and home to the realm’s most valuable possessions. But it isn’t gold or jewels the old wizard is after, and this prize can only be obtained by the combined talents of two remarkable men. Now if Arcadias can just keep Hadrian and Royce from killing each other, they just might succeed.
The Riyria Revelations and The Riyria Chronicles are two separate, but related series, and you can start reading with either Theft of Swords(publication order) or The Crown Tower (chronological order).
In THE CROWN TOWER, the author writes a prequel to the Riyria Revelations series worth reading first. It’s clear that the author has spent a lot of time in this world and the world-building is exceptionally well crafted. There are a few instances of magic, but it’s as low key to the plot as GAME OF THRONES. The real focus is between the characters and their adventures.
Although several of the scenes take place within a brothel, there is no graphic sex or violence (minus a quick and early scene with Shane). However, there are some characters that are violent towards women, so younger audiences might not be able to handle the subject matter.
Royce might possibly be my all time favorite anti-hero with his mysterious demeanor yet chatty outbursts. I love how opposite he is from Hadrian and how their differences drives them as much apart as together. Royce doesn’t get a POV spot until late in the book, but it is worth waiting for. His complexity and view of Hadrian are hilariously different from Hadrian’s view of Royce.
For some silly reason, I thought Hadrian was a dwarf at the start of the book. I think it was the name. It became clear sooner rather than later that Hadrian is a full sized, very muscular male. It I were ever to have a crush on a fictional character based on actions alone, then Hadrian might be the guy. Tormented by his past, yet Hadrian is strong, skilled, loyal, and kind.
Gwen’s narrative is less compelling than Hadrian’s. Her only purpose in life is to prepare for a man she’s never met. She’s determined but naive. She doesn’t feel as fleshed out as the male characters of the story. Even her nemesis, Grue, has a more sympathetic and solid character. I was surprised how sympathetic he ended up being, considering that he openly strikes women. For him, it’s business.
When it all came together, I was surprised how well everything meshed. It’s a predictable ending, especially for current fans of the author, though the narrative is so compelling that it still shocks the reader. Like: “Hey! Oh, right. That was suppose to happen.” If you’re a new fan or old, then THE CROWN TOWER is an excellent starting point to this epic fantasy series. Highly recommend for all fantasy lovers.
(I received a copy of this book from the publishers/Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.)Read More
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Describe one under appreciated book EVERYONE should read
It’s so difficult for me to narrow down a list, since I have a million books in my head screaming at me to pick them. But I really want to highlight a self-published author because they need the most love. My pick is RECKONING by Molly H. Hall. You can read my review of it HERE. On July 29th, I’ll be reviewing the sequel….which I sadly haven’t started reading yet. Really need to get on that! I’m debating whether to re-read the first book. I think I will cause I loved it so much and I don’t want any confusion from me not remembering things when I read the sequel.
”They say the truth can set you free. I found out it can kill you.”
Seventeen-year-old Kat Matheson has never revealed the dark secret that sets her apart from everyone else: She can see and hear the dead. Until now, she has been able to ignore the strange apparitions and whispering voices. But it may not be that simple anymore. Haunted by eerie visions and increasingly frightening nightmares, Kat begins to fear she may be the target of a dark and ominous force from beyond the grave. Complicating matters is the arrival of her new neighbor, a young man she instinctively distrusts but is inexplicably drawn to. Gorgeous and mysterious, he seems to hold a disturbing knowledge of her long-held secrets.
As she desperately tries to maintain control, events take an unexpected and violent turn. Discovering that nothing is what it seems and that her psychic abilities may involve far more than just communing with the dead, Kat may be forced to confront her worst fears and the powerful curse that controls her destiny.
Top 5 reasons to read RECKONING
1) You can’t tell it is self-published. The editing, pacing, writing, and characters are polished.
2) It is a paranormal romance, but there are sections that are downright creepy. The author does a superb job making Kat’s nightmares feel real. They almost gave me nightmares. And then there’s the creepy neighbor and the fact that she knows someone follows her.
3) Her creepy neighbor reminds me of Hannibal Lector. Charming, but you can’t help but think he wants to put your liver in a stew.
4) The other guy Rick, you’ll like. It’s not douchebag vs nice guy. It’s creepy stalker that you know knows something vs normal guy that has secretly been in love with her for years.
5) The ending was intense. Just WOW! That’s the reason I love self and indie pubs…you can’t get away with that kind of ending with a traditional publisher.
My top five reasons seem horribly pathetic, but it truly is a good book. What book did you pick?Read More