Fantasy, IFA Summer Challenge, Review, Self-Published

IFA Summer Challenge: Mini Reviews I

Hello,

So this is up a little later than planned, as my laptop is slowly dying (the fact that it is alive at all is a miracle, especially as it had an encounter with the bath a few years ago) and refused to connect to the wifi at all yesterday. As part of the IFA Summer Challenge, I will be posting mini-reviews once a week to share what I’ve been reading, my thoughts and hopefully to recommend some fun indie reads to you.

For, week one I read 10 books (furlough and bad weather, is good for reading). One of these was a reread of ‘Of Honey and Wildfires’ by Sarah Chorn (Review), which is also an contestant in this year’s SPFBO and deserves all the love in the world. I also, finally got to finish The War Eternal trilogy with ‘From Cold Ashes Risen’ by Rob J. Hayes which I reviewed a couple of days ago (Here). The others, are below and are from authors that I hadn’t read before.

Vultures (Shadow Twins #1) – Luke Tarzian

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Book Summary

An enemy slain is not a conflict won…

After decades of war the demon Te Mirkvahíl is dead. But its progeny endure, spilling from the Heart of Mirkúr, sowing death across the land of Ariath. If the people are to finally know peace, the Heart must be destroyed. Theailys An believes he can do just that with The Keepers’ Wrath, an infamous power focus wrought in Ariath’s yesteryears–but the weapon first must be reforged.

War spares no one…

Serece never intended to get involved in Ariath’s war. But history and demons have a way of pulling strings. When she learns Theailys An, a man whom she abhors, bears striking similarity to the first creator of The Keepers’ Wrath, Serece departs her mountain world for Ariath to ascertain the truth.

From patience, hope…

For millennia Behtréal has walked the world alone. Rewriting history to resurrect his people is easier said than done. But Ariath holds the key–soon The Keepers’ Wrath will be remade.

Truth from madness…

As paths converge and a shadow falls across Ariath, one thing becomes increasingly and horrifyingly clear–these events have played out many times before.

Review:

    It took a little while for me to find my feet with this book, but once I did, I enjoyed it immensely and couldn’t put it down. This is not a book for the fainthearted, and it is hard to follow in places because of the twists and turns, the crisscrossing of paths, but it works really well. A very dreamlike book, beautifully written, and my only real complaint is that at times it would have been nice to see the characters develop a little more, as there were times where it was difficult to connect with them.

Rating: *** (3/5 Stars)

Purchase Links: Amazon UK | Amazon US

***** ***** *****

The World Maker Parable (Shadow Twins #0) – Luke Tarizan

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Book Summary:

Guilt will always call you back…

Rhona is a faithful servant of the country Jémoon and a woman in love. Everything changes when her beloved sets the ravenous Vulture goddess loose upon the land. Forced to execute the woman she loves for committing treason, Rhona discovers a profound correlation between morality and truth. A connection that might save her people or annihilate them all.

You are a lie…

Varésh Lúm-talé is many things, most of all a genocidal liar. A falsity searching for the Phoenix goddess whom he believes can help him rectify his atrocities. Such an undertaking is an arduous one for a man with missing memories and a conscience set on rending him from inside out. A man whose journey leads to Hang-Dead Forest and a meeting with a Vulture goddess who is not entirely as she seems.

Review:

   I enjoyed this one more than Vultures. I felt that the characters were drawn more strongly in this book, without losing that dreamlike, philosophical quality of the earlier book. The imagery in this one was hauntingly beautiful, and honestly I could just lose myself in the descriptions and drift through this world.

Rating: **** (4/5 Stars)

Purchase Links: Amazon UK | Amazon US

***** ***** *****

Someday I’ll be Redeemed (Chronicles of Lorrek #1) – Kelly Blanchard

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Book Summary:

Everyone thinks him to be dead–or guilty. Without a word or sighting of Prince Lorrek of Cuskelom these last ten years, all believe the rumors of his crimes, which he is said to have committed, are true. However, when he finally returns to clear his name, Lorrek realizes the only way to find redemption is to become the very man they think him to be in this time when advanced technology challenges ancient magic to war.

Review:

    I was a little conflicted about this book. On the one hand, I loved the world building and the differences between the Kingdoms, and the scifi elements. I enjoyed the badass female characters, especially Vixen, especially when we were able to see her shine, and Lorrek was a fascinating character, especially when we got to see the steps that had lead him to this point, and I will definitely be picking up the next book to find out what happens next. On the other, there were a few places where I found myself jolted out of the story by changes of pov, and I found the epilogue a little repetitive – I liked how it had the shared theme of waiting – but some information was regurgitated which derailed the impact it had. Also, for a large part of the book, it felt as though magic to some extent was a ‘fix it all’ with the only limitations strength (and coming up against someone stronger), that changed a bit more towards the end, and I hope to see this developed in more in the next book. Still, overall a very enjoyable read that kept me reading, devouring the book in one go.

Rating: **** (4/5 Stars)

Purchase Links: Amazon UK | Amazon US

***** ***** *****

Field’s Gate – Aaron Lynch

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Book Summary:

Lost within an endless field Lisa searches for what’s come before, her memories trapped within a mist. A sparkling gate surrounded by a great hedge offers escape, but the leviathan who guards the entrance sits unable to open it. She must help retrieve its key from a horrible shadow. In return, it’ll allow her through and give her the answers she craves.


Spirits warn of the serpents’ trick, of its want to lure her into its beautiful trap. She must resist, for they are the liars, and make it back to the only one offering any truth…

Review:

   I wanted so much to love this one, as the premise is fantastic. There were moments when the atmosphere created was done really well, and the potential shone through, but unfortunately I struggled to finish this one. Partly due to the writing, which did not have the right flow for the story being told, and instead felt clumsy and clunky in places, and the ending left me feeling… not quite dissatisfied, but as though I was waiting for something more?

Rating: ** (2/5 Stars)

Purchase Links: Amazon UK | Amazon US

***** ***** *****

The Aldergeist Witch (Sin Eater Tales #1) – J.R. Snyder

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Book Summary:

Henk Versteeg has been missing for over two weeks after venturing into the infamous Aldergeist Forest. Villagers blame the local witch. Asher Norwood, a member of the mysterious Sin Eater guild, has been brought in to investigate.

Tasked with guiding lost spirits to the afterlife, breaking curses, and subduing dark beasts, sin eaters are society’s first line of defense against the evils that plague the world.

Join Asher on his journey as he searches within the Aldergeist Forest and finds more than he bargained for.

The Aldergeist Witch is a novelette, the introduction to the series Sin Eater Tales, a collection of short fantasy stories set in a world inspired by the Age of Discovery where magic is intertwined with every day life and dangerous beasts rule the wilds.

Review:

   This was an entertaining short story, very folklore-ish and I enjoyed it’s approach towards belief and folklore and how that can be used to twist perception.

Rating: *** (3/5 Stars)

Purchase Links: Amazon UK | Amazon US

***** ***** *****

Song’s of Sparrow’s Day (Sin Eater Tales #2) – J.R. Snyder

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Book Summary:

A botched sin eater job leaves Asher Norwood’s partner—and only friend—clinging to life after she contracts a deadly infection. His only hope for a cure lies with the world famous naturalist, Dr. Theophilus Rowley Terrowin III, who lives in a far-flung corner of the treacherous Winterwind Mountains.

Stopping at nothing to save his partner, Asher risks it all to bring her to the doctor, only to find that the esteemed Dr. Terrowin has a few dark secrets of his own.

Songs of Sparrow’s Day is a novelette, the second installment in the series Sin Eater Tales, a collection of short fantasy stories set in a world inspired by the early Age of Discovery where magic is intertwined with every day life and dangerous beasts rule the wilds.

Review:

   Another entertaining short story in the Sin Eater world. It was very atmospheric, and I love the relationship between Asher and his companion, and that we got more about his backstory this time.

Rating: *** (3/5 Stars)

Purchase Links: Amazon UK | Amazon US

***** ***** *****

On Winter’s Eve – C.D. Alexander [SPFBO 6 contestant]

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Book Summary:

Winters in Bern are long and cold and deep.

On winter nights, when the snow is falling, Pippa goes to sleep knowing she’ll wake up to tracks in front of her farmhouse. The tracks are small, and they come from the woods—those same woods that her mother says are full of witches and elves and trolls, and her father says are full of wolves and bears and demons. But these tracks are the Tompte’s, and he is a friendly creature. Or at least that’s what Pippa hopes. . .

The Tompte borrows and mends things, he takes and he sometimes leaves things, and such is life on a farm at the edge of the realm. Her mother calls it tradition. Her father calls it a curse. And when things start going missing and trouble comes their way, Pippa’s not sure what to believe. Soon enough, she’ll have no choice but to go into the woods to find out. . .

Review:

   This felt very much like a folktale that you’re told as a child, and it was beautifully written. It captured the cold, the struggles of farming and life in winter. It’s a story of childhood, of traditions and belief and finding yourself caught between different beliefs. I loved Pippa as the main character, and you can’t help but cheer for her.

Rating: **** (4/5 Stars)

Purchase Links: Amazon UK | Amazon US

***** ***** *****

Twelve Ways to Die in Galadore (Volume 1) – Coleman Alexander

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Book Summary:

Galadore is a dangerous land, full of sprites and elves and witches and trolls. Beyond the realms, the forests are dark and deep. The mountains are high and cavernous. The seas are swelling and swift.

It is not a land to be lived in lightly. And everywhere, death is lurking.

This is Volume I of collection of short stories from the fantasy author, Coleman Alexander. It is an introduction to the world of Galadore, told through the eyes of a diverse cast of characters who face the grim, dark, and sometimes horrifying face of death. Readers beware, these pages are not to be tread lightly. . .

Included in Volume One:
Moon Lilies
The Long Fall from Darkness
The Serpent of Ennor

Review:

   I loved this collection of short stories, and in fact I have already started on volume two. The writing flowed really well, and each piece was atmospheric in their own way. My favourite story was ‘The Serpent of Ennor’ which was simply beautiful, especially the ending which gave me shivers. All I will say is be wary of getting too attached to the characters.

Rating: **** (4/5 Stars)

Purchase Links: Amazon UK| Amazon US

**

If you’ve read any of these, or give them a go in the future give me a shout as I am always happy to talk books. Tomorrow, I am participating in a blog tour for ‘Everything to Lose’ by Gordon Bickerstaff, so I will push the review for ‘The Bone Ships’ to Tuesday.

Rowena

 

 

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