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I Belong

Review: Soleri by Michael Johnston

February 14th, 2018 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Kristie under Review Tags: , , , ,

Title: Soleri

Author: Michael Johnston

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Soleri (Book #1)

Publication Date: June 13, 2017

Format: Hardcover, 364 Pages

ISBN-10: 0765386488 (Tor/Macmillan)

ISBN-13: 978-0765386489 (Tor/Macmillan)

Reviewed by: Kristie


Michael Johnston brings you the first in a new epic fantasy series inspired by ancient Egyptian history and King Lear.

The ruling family of the Soleri Empire has been in power longer than even the calendars that stretch back 2,826 years. Those records tell a history of conquest and domination by a people descended from gods, older than anything in the known world. No living person has seen them for centuries, yet their grip on their four subjugate kingdoms remains tighter than ever.

On the day of the annual eclipse, the Harkan king, Arko-Hark Wadi, sets off on a hunt and shirks his duty rather than bow to the emperor. Ren, his son and heir, is a prisoner in the capital, while his daughters struggle against their own chains. Merit, the eldest, has found a way to stand against imperial law and marry the man she desires, but needs her sister’s help, and Kepi has her own ideas.

Meanwhile, Sarra Amunet, Mother Priestess of the sun god’s cult, holds the keys to the end of an empire and a past betrayal that could shatter her family.

Detailed and historical, vast in scope and intricate in conception, Soleri bristles with primal magic and unexpected violence. It is a world of ancient and elaborate rites, of unseen power and kingdoms ravaged by war, where victory comes with a price, and every truth conceals a deeper secret.

Quick & Dirty: High fantasy novel where five people’s lives are entwined with the future of the empire.

Opening Sentence: They used to be fishermen, but that night hunger made them thieves.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Soleri is the beginning of an epic high fantasy series that felt like an extraordinary cross of Ancient Egypt, Stargate and Game of Thrones. Although a case can be made that Ancient Egypt also shows up in Stargate while this novel has all that just minus the space travel. I didn’t really know what to expect going into this novel and for a beginning book, there is plenty going on and a huge cast of characters that are all tied together in a way that I won’t reveal for spoilers.

The Solerian Empire has been ruled over by an alien race for the last two thousand years. There have been many wars over the years because this is not a peaceful empire. The empire is split up between different ruling kingdoms and native areas that are constantly fighting. About two hundred years ago, the Tolemy decided they needed to take the children of the kingdoms and force them to grow up together at the Priory so they don’t grow up with their kingdom’s secrets, suspicions and plots to carry on when they gain the throne. This story is full of devious, secret plots and it kept me guessing from beginning to end. There is definitely much more to how this empire operates because each area has its own set of rules and traditions. There is one thing that is consistent, the solar eclipse that happens once a year and when that fails, all hell breaks out for the ruling empire.

The cast of characters is huge but the story really only follows five people who are all connected. There is a mysterious sixth POV that starts out the story and then is long forgotten in the story that these five people tell. King Arko Hark-Wadi is never one for the rules, he hates the Tolemy, and the First Ray of the Sun, but he also isn’t one for confrontation. He ignores all celebrations for the solar eclipse. In a way, I found Arko similar to Ned Stark, he is very loyal to his family but in the end, he is a depressed drunk who has been played by more people than he’s realized. Arko is someone I really wanted to care for but I think I spent most of the time feeling sorry for him instead. Arko’s son, Ren, has been released from the Priory in exchange for his father’s life because no one is released from the Priory without their father’s dying first. Ren is a thirteen-year-old boy who is forced to rule a kingdom he knows nothing about. Unlike most boys, Ren does get to meet his father briefly before Arko is sent to his death and gains some valuable advice. I believe Ren to be one of the heroes of this story. He is the one character that is really put through some terrible trials and he seems the most grounded of the characters, if not a bit immature but he is thirteen after all.

The ladies of this novel are a wee bit harder to handle. I kept thinking of both Sarra and Merit as Cersei type characters. These ladies are devious with their own plots to further both of their places in society. Sarra wants to be the First Ray of the Sun, the one who is in direct contact with the Tolemy (ruling alien) and Merit just wants her father’s kingdom. These ladies are very selfish. Then there is Kepi, she’s very Arya Stark, she’s learned to be a warrior through her own terrible past. She’s the pawn in a much larger plot, one that she knows is coming and there is nothing she can do about it. I really can’t wait to see where her story goes and I’m really hoping that Kepi and Ren get together and take everyone else out.

Soleri is a hugely intricate high fantasy story with such devious plot points and twists that I really did have no idea where the story was going. I may not like all the characters in this book but I am deeply interested to see where their stories go as this series goes on. If you are a fan of fantasy novels with intricate, tangled plots and a world with a future as bleak as its landscape then you should definitely give this story a try.

Notable Scene:

When he finished, Arko looked up at the boy and asked, “What about me? Do you remember anything at all about your father?”

The boy shook his head.

“No. I suppose you wouldn’t. I suppose there isn’t much you’d care to remember, about any of us. . .” Arko dropped the scroll into the dust and picked up the reins of his horse. “It appears the emperor had made a trade. He has returned my heir so I must take your place, but not in the Priory. The emperor demands an audience with me.” He nodded at his son, his boy. Years had been stolen from them, and years would be stolen from them still.

Soleri Series:

1. Soleri

FTC Advisory: Tor/Macmillan provided me with a copy of Soleri. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Cover Reveal: More New Covers!

February 13th, 2018 @ 12:08 am
Posted by Kristie under Cover Reveal Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

This week I have various cover reveals that I have seen all over the Internet. A couple of these are new this past week, a couple might just be new to me so I figure some of you may not have seem them either. Once again, its a week where I really love all the covers. I didn’t even notice the face or that it was hair on the Nightingale cover until the third time I looked at it! I love how The Winter of the Witch looks like a Phoenix rising! And A.G. Howard always gets some awesome covers!

Smoke and Iron

A Sorrow Fierce and Falling


The Winter of the Witch


Once a King

Which covers are you excited about this week? Let us know in the comments!

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Review: The Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones

February 13th, 2018 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Kristie under Review Tags: , , , ,

Title: The Trouble with Twelfth Grave

Author: Darynda Jones

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Charley Davidson (Book #12)

Publication Date: October 31, 2017

Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages

ISBN-10: 1250147557 (St. Martin’s Press)

ISBN-13: 978-1250147554 (St. Martin’s Press)

Reviewed by: Kristie


Grim Reaper Charley Davidson is back in the twelfth installment of Darynda Jones’ New York Times bestselling paranormal series.

Ever since Reyes escaped from a hell dimension in which Charley accidently trapped him, the son of Satan has been brimstone-bent on destroying the world his heavenly Brother created. His volatile tendencies have put Charley in a bit of a pickle. But that’s not the only briny vegetable on her plate. While trying to domesticate the feral being that used to be her husband, she also has to deal with her everyday life of annoying all manner of beings—some corporeal, some not so much—as she struggles to right the wrongs of society. Only this time she’s not uncovering a murder. This time she’s covering one up.

Add to that her new occupation of keeping a startup PI venture—the indomitable mystery-solving team of Amber Kowalski and Quentin Rutherford—out of trouble and dealing with the Vatican’s inquiries into her beloved daughter, and Charley is on the brink of throwing in the towel and becoming a professional shopper. Or possibly a live mannequin. But when someone starts attacking humans who are sensitive to the supernatural world, Charley knows it’s time to let loose her razor sharp claws. Then again, her number one suspect is the dark entity she’s loved for centuries. So the question becomes, can she tame the unruly beast before it destroys everything she’s worked so hard to protect?

Quick & Dirty: Charley must stop Reyes before those closest to her get hurt in his hunt to find whatever it is he is looking for.

Opening Sentence: Few things in life were more entertaining than haunted houses.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Charley Davidson’s crazy, all-over-the-place antics continue in The Trouble with Twelfth Grave. This time Charley has the added benefit of hunting down her really hot husband who may have turned back into the evil god he once was. I really look forward to her strange sense of humor and the chuckle I get from whenever I read this series.

The Trouble with Twelfth Grave picks up immediately after Eleventh Grave in Moonlight and the aftermath of Reyes going into the god glass. Did Reyes turn into his ultimate evil self? Charley refuses to believe it but after bodies turn up killed in strange ways, Charley has to prove that it isn’t Reyes killing these people. Reyes is searching for something and Charley is forced to stop him before he finds whatever it is he is looking for. As things go with this series, Charley is solving more than one crime at a time with her outside the box antics which definitely keep me guessing how she’s going to solve one problem after another.

Charley’s friend Peri is in trouble when one of her ex-boyfriends ends up dead and all signs point to her as being the killer. Charley concocts a plan that helps to clear Peri’s name while at the same time trying to uncover the real killer. There is a lot more interaction between the angels and Charley in the hunt for Reyes. A prophet has also been writing stories about Charley and Reyes that may even give her some insight into her troubles with Reyes.

Charley is hilarious and crazy but at the same time she is so down to earth for what she is. Her methods to solve her cases are so unorthodox but incredibly fun and crazy. Reyes is even more dark and dangerous than usual. His struggle with his dark side leaves some crazy times for Charley.

I hate to say that this felt like a filler novel but it really did. Although, major stuff happens on the Reyes storyline that really helps move that part of the story along. I talk about how funny I find these novels but there are some sobering moments throughout the story too. The ending has a major cliffhanger.

In the end, The Trouble with Twelfth Grave has it all in terms of fun, craziness, sadness and heartfelt situations. If you don’t mind humor that may be a little low brow at times, other times very clever, you should really check out this unique Grim Reaper series.

Notable Scene:

He practically scowled in response, clearly disgusted with me. “You’re still in love with him,” he said, his gaze boring into mine. “You believe that somewhere inside me is your Reyes. Your Rey’aziel.” He pulled me closer. “But what you don’t understand is that I was always lurking.” He clamped his free hand around my other arm. “I am not Reyes.” He pulled me close enough to see the sparkling flecks of green and gold in his coffee-colored eyes. “I am not Rey’aziel.” He walked forward, pushing me until he’d backed me into a wall of some kind. A rock, its sharp edges cutting into my skin. “I am Rey’azikeen.” He tightened the vise-like grip he had on my arms. “A god, even stronger now, thanks to you.”

Charley Davidson Series:

1. First Grave on the Right

1.5 For I Have Sinned

2. Second Grave on the Left

3. Third Grave Dead Ahead

4. Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet

5. Fifth Grave Past the Light

6. Sixth Grave on the Edge

7. Seventh Grave and No Body

8. Eighth Grave After Dark

8.5 Brighter Than the Sun

9. The Dirt on Ninth Grave

10. The Curse of Tenth Grave

11. Eleventh Grave in Moonlight

12. The Trouble with Twelfth Grave

FTC Advisory: St. Martin’s Press/Macmillan provided me with a copy of The Trouble with Twelfth Grave. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Cover Judge: The Great Library Series by Rachel Caine (US vs. UK)

February 12th, 2018 @ 12:08 am
Posted by Kristie under Cover Judge Tags: , , , ,

I wanted to do something a little different today because I just happened to see the beautiful UK cover for Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine so I thought I’d do one of those vs. posts pitting her US covers against her UK ones. I really like her US hardbacks but after seeing the paperbacks versions for UK, I think I may have to change my mind. The US covers just seems kind of boring and plain even though I do like the color schemes and I do notice that after I stare at them for a while I can see some details pop out like the creature at the top of the US version of Ink and Bone. As much as I like the butterfly layout, I do think the US one is better.

US                                                UK

If I had at least one copy of the UK versions, it would be Paper and Fire. Put a crow or a raven on anything and I want it, I’m totally one of those people. But then again, I’m basically the same way with dragons and, of course, there are dragons on the US versions… as you can tell I’m very indecisive. I really like both covers. I think I could own both one this one.

US                                                UK

Ash and Quill are the bird versions for the US…so I’m more in love with this cover than I am the UK one. I do like the lion but I feel this one is more of a bad Photoshop cover in order for it to match the other two. I feel bad saying that though. I also really like the contrast of silver and red on the US version. I choose the US version over the UK on this one.

US                                                UK

What do you think about these covers? Do you have a preference? Tell us below in the comments.

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Review: Witchtown by Cory Putman Oakes

February 12th, 2018 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Kristie under Review Tags: , , , ,

Title: Witchtown

Author: Cory Putman Oakes

Genre: YA Paranormal

Series: N/A

Publication Date: July 18, 2017

Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages

ISBN-10: 0544765575 (HMH Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-0544765573 (HMH Teen)

Reviewed by: Kristie


When sixteen-year-old Macie O’Sullivan and her masterfully manipulative mother Aubra arrive at the gates of Witchtown—the most famous and mysterious witch-only haven in the world—they have one goal in mind: to rob it for all it’s worth.

But that plan derails when Macie and Aubra start to dig deeper into Witchtown’s history and uncover that there is more to the quirky haven than meets the eye.

Exploring the haven by herself, Macie finds that secrets are worth more than money in Witchtown.

Secrets have their own power.

Quick & Dirty: Mysterious, dark story that is full of secrets and an awful mother.

Opening Sentence: Witchtown looks more like a prison than a town.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Fans of witches just may enjoy this modern-day story set in contemporary times. Witchtown is set a few years after the Second Inquisition where Witches have been forced to register and/or live in Havens. I found Witchtown to be an entertaining read set in a world that could unfortunately be very realistic whether towards witches or some other group. The premise of this books follows Macie O’Sullivan and her awful mother Aubra. Don’t read this if you don’t like books with unsupportive mothers.

As far back as Macie can remember, she and her mother, Aubra, have run cons throughout the Havens that are dotted across the states. Her mother likes to rob the Haven’s blind and since she is a witch she casts a forget spell so the Haven’s never remember who robbed them. Aubra likes to use her daughter Macie as a tool for distraction, although Aubra can be pretty distracting herself.

Witchtown is supposed to be the final con for Aubra and Macie. The town is supposed to have enough money to live comfortably for the rest of their lives. What they find in Witchtown is far from the rumors they have heard about the place and robbing it may be more difficult than they thought. As Macie infiltrates Witchtown she learns that the town and the people have even more crazy secrets than she does, and she’s got a lot!

Aubra is your typical evil mother. She uses Macie and has no problem putting her down. Aubra uses her body to distract the men and get whatever secrets she needs. She is a really awful person. She may be a little much for the younger teen reader.

Macie is the character who knows she’s doing bad things but is willing to do whatever it takes to keep getting her mother’s continued love. Macie had a terrible experience with her last job and is now having doubts about what her and her mother are doing. I felt that Macie was a bit abrasive in the beginning, she certainly had no problem passing judgement on some of the other characters, but she begins to learn lessons that drastically begin to change her state of mind.

There is a “love” connection between Macie and a guy in Witchtown that I really had a hard time buying just for the sake that he tried to kiss her after only interacting with her for a short while. Plus, Macie has this unrequited love thing going on for another boy. A boy that she keeps remembering in flashbacks. Then all of a sudden, she’s over him… that was honestly my only real issue with this novel.

Witchtown is told entirely in the first person from Macie’s point of view. It is a contemporary story but it is hard to tell at times since Witchtown doesn’t like to use modern conveniences. The story has more of a mystery feel with some paranormal elements thrown in.

Overall, Witchtown is a mysterious, dark story with a protagonist with many secrets that rival the town she hopes to rob with her mother. There are aspects of this story that I could certainly see turned into a sequel but otherwise this is a standalone novel. This novel read very quickly as secrets are unveiled just as quickly as more secrets are unleashed on the main character.

Notable Scene:

My mother introduced herself, and me, and Pendle Bishop gave no sign that she had ever seen us before. Once, I thought I caught her looking at my moonstone. But at second glance, I saw that her eyes were so cloudy and unfocused it was a wonder she could see anything at all. Even with the thick glasses.

Eventually, she puttered away. My mother flashed me an “I told you so” expression just as the mayor reemerged from her office.

“A job,” my mother reminded me, lowering her voice. “By tomorrow.”

Then she smiled and tossed something at me. I caught it. I didn’t even need to look to know that it was Pendle Bishop’s wallet.

“Easy as that,” my mother trilled, then winked as she turned to meet the mayor. “Darkness and clouds!”

“Darkness and clouds,” I muttered at her back.

FTC Advisory: HMH Books for Young Readers provided me with a copy of Witchtown. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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