Category Archives: 4-Good

Magic Carpet Ride by Laurence MacNaughton

When shop-assistant Opal brings one of her father’s old rugs into The Crystal Connection to cover a burn spot in the floor, she and store owner, Dru, discover just why the rug was hidden away in the first place.

Title: Magic Carpet Ride
Author: Laurence MacNaughton
Series: Dru Jasper, Book 0.0
Publish Date:  November 19, 2016
Genre: Humorous Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Available on Amazon for $.99 or free when you subscribe to Laurence McNaughton’s newsletter

Publisher’s DescriptionDru Jasper scrapes by selling potions, charms, and enchanted crystals to help sorcerers fight the forces of darkness. But when Dru’s latest customer shows up on fire, things get magical (and funny) fast. This prequel story includes the first chapter of IT HAPPENED ONE DOOMSDAY. Available FREE exclusively on the author’s website at www.LaurenceMacNaughton.com/free/


Invested Ivana says…

Magic Carpet Ride is a short, but fun introduction to the world of Dru Jasper. Readers get a sense of:
*Dru’s shop, The Crystal Connection, and the kinds of magical problems Dru deals with there.
*Dru herself, her addiction to lattes, and her magical power.
*Dru’s shop assistant, Opal, and her quirky sense of humor and style.
*Dru’s friend, Rane, a kick-ass monster hunter with a magical ability of her own.
*McNaughton’s funny writing style, which puts me in mind of MaryJanice Davidson, but without the “Sex in the City” vibe.
The Dru Jasper series is a fun, quirky read, perfect when you’re you’re in the mood for light-hearted, magic adventure. Check out my review of the first book, It Happened One Doomsday, and stay tuned for the second book, A Kiss Before Doomsday, which comes out in July of this year.

Other recommendations…

For more urban fantasy with a light-hearted side, check out the Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom series by Julie Kenner, the Queen Betsy (sometimes called the Undead) series by MaryJanice Davidson, or the Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones

 

Save

Save

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The Ascendance Trilogy comes to an end with The Shadow Throne and Jaron’s biggest battles are coming to the frontlines. With war pressing in on him from all sides, he’s got to gather up his allies and defeat his greatest enemies.

shadow-throneTitleThe Shadow Throne
AuthorJennifer A. Nielsen
SeriesThe Ascendance Trilogy, Book 03
Publish Date: Feb 25, 2014
Genre: YA High Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionWar has come to Carthya. It knocks at every door and window in the land. And when Jaron learns that King Vargan of Avenia has kidnapped Imogen in a plot to bring Carthya to its knees, Jaron knows it is up to him to embark on a daring rescue mission. But everything that can go wrong does.

His friends are flung far and wide across Carthya and its neighboring lands. In a last-ditch effort to stave off what looks to be a devastating loss for the kingdom, Jaron undertakes what may be his last journey to save everything and everyone he loves. But even with his lightning-quick wit, Jaron cannot forestall the terrible danger that descends on him and his country. Along the way, will he lose what matters most? And in the end, who will sit on Carthya’s throne?

Rousing and affecting, Jaron’s adventures have thrilled and moved readers in The False Prince and The Runaway King. Journey once again with the Ascendant King of Carthya, as New York Times bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen brings his story to a stunning conclusion with The Shadow Throne.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat_Mandu_100Kat Mandu says…

Though I didn’t particularly like a certain part of this book (which I will detail for you further on), I really loved the majority of it. The action scenes are incredible, the chapter-ending cliffhangers are awesome, and a lot of the characters I’ve grown fond of each get their time in the spotlight.

There’s a lot of pulse-pounding excitement as Jaron goes from leading armies to getting held hostage and fighting his own personal battles. This time, though, he’s got his friends there to help him secure victory. There’s a bit of a happy ending, though as always with a lot of high fantasy tales, it comes at a great cost.

The main issue I had with this one? The romance. Okay, so Amarinda and Jaron don’t quite hit it off and they agree to disagree while remaining friends and allies. Which of course then leaves the Imogen and Jaron spark to reignite again….only *SPOILER ALERT*….


…the author kills Imogen off, giving Jaron’s enemies a reason to taunt and break him because they claim to have responsibility for her death. She’s shot with an arrow in the middle of a battle, pronounced dead by like three different people (one being Mott, and as Jaron believes him, the readers do, too) and then Jaron’s sad and all that. I figured with Imogen’s death, that meant he and Amarinda would settle their differences and get together since they’re already bound by oath anyway.

However, those were my opinions before Amarinda decided to do her own thing and fall in love with Tobias. Which is cool and all because she’s making her own decisions and not going with something she doesn’t want to do for political reasons.

There were quite a few times where I suspected that Imogen might not have been dead. But then I got 2/3 through the book and got used to her not being around.

But then BAM. Suddenly she’s not dead. She’s very alive and being held prisoner and I’m upset. Why? Because I feel like she should have stayed dead. No offense to her, I mean, yay, she’s breathing and what not.

However, I’m upset because I feel like this was a cop out. I’m also very passionate about this point. I feel like she should have stayed dead because, by that point, Jaron was so deep and focused on what he was doing that he’d kinda moved on from her. I feel like Imogen was brought back only to satisfy the romance and I’m very disappointed by that.

badge4v5Then again, some of you readers may like the happy, romantic endings. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy the book because I did. This is a wonderful middle-grade trilogy, but it definitely borders young adult with some of its darker, brutal themes. I’m giving it four stars!

Our reviews in this series…

Links will become active as reviews are posted.

Other recommendations…

I’d recommend this to fans of high fantasy everywhere, especially fans of Sara B. Larson, Erika Johansen, and Melina Marchetta.

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

In a high fantasy world based on the Seasons, Meira, a young refugee from the Winter kingdom, is thirsty to prove just how worthy she is. But taking on the big bad guys means she’ll have to step up her game – but as she ventures through a series of political mind games, can her heart handle all the secrets she learns along the way?

TitleSnow Like Ashes
AuthorSara Raasch
SeriesSnow Like Ashes, Book 01
Publish Date: October 14, 2014 by Balzer + Bray
Genre: YA High Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionSixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. The Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been searching for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild their kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, Winter’s future king—she would do anything to help Winter rise to power again. So when scouts discover the location of half of the ancient locket that can restore their magic, Meira decides to go after it herself—only to find herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics, and to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Luna Lovebooks says…

Dislikes: I figured I’d switch it up and get my dislikes out of the way, considering there are few of them. First of all, this is not a terribly original plot. Strong heroine, royal politics, magic, stolen kingdom, and of course, a love triangle. All elements that are normally used in books of this genre. However, it seems to work. While it doesn’t make this novel particularly standout, it doesn’t take away from a good read. Secondly, this book can get a touch info-dumpy at points. Lastly, there is a love triangle! Which leads me to my…

Likes: While Meria is a strong female lead, fighting for her kingdom and refusing to back down, she is also flawed and complex. She tugs at your heartstrings. She is likable. But she isn’t the only one. Even the side characters are complex and well-developed—even the two love interests. They are both so likable and for different reasons. I just couldn’t choose who to root for. The world is another well-developed wonder. This is a seriously complex world with eight kingdoms that have their own customs and people. This information is woven into the plot fairly well for the most part, but as I stated, it can be a bit of an info dump at points.

Despite not being an entirely fresh take on the YA fantasy genre, this book has amazing character and world development that makes it a worthwhile read. I give it 4 snowflakes.

Kat Mandu says…

Meira is feisty and fierce, and the fact that she uses a chakram makes her reminiscent of a younger Xena Warrior Princess in my head. Only with very white hair and pale skin. Her fellow Winterians also have similar features, physical traits reminiscent of their former kingdom, Winter, which is a land that many of them haven’t seen in sixteen years. Meira and her companions are all refugees, driven from Winter by their rival country’s leader (Spring), Angra. Sixteen years ago, Angra forcibly took over the kingdom by imprisoning the Winterian citizens and killing anyone who resisted, including Queen Hannah.

Now, Meira and a handful of survivors – including her mentor, “Sir” (William) and Hannah’s only son, Mather. They’ve managed to stay out of Angra’s eye until now – but they’re trying to get their magical conduit back (the item that represents their power) and Meira knows they can’t wait any longer, especially once news of the conduit’s locations is brought to them.

This story has a lot of adventure and a lot of layered plots as the story unfolds. Aka, there’s a lot going on. It’s not confusing in any way, but prepared to go through a lot of multi-faceted stories within one story.

For one, there’s the fact that the Winterians are trying to get their hands on the conduit, a locket; but Mather, their supposed “king” of Winter, is male and therefore unable to use it due to magical laws set way back when the conduits were first created. This particular detail of the story eventually takes a turn later, but they manage to get the locket anyway.

Then they decide to ally with a Rhythm kingdom, Cordell, and by doing so, Meira ends up engaged to Theron, the heir of Cordell’s king, Niall. She’s not exactly thrilled about the situation, as her heart has always belonged to Mather. But at least in this book, Theron proves to be a very understanding and what more, a protective friend who grows close to Meira’s heart.

So there’s also the romance angle – a love triangle between Meira, Mather, and Theron. Meira finds herself drawn to Theron and seeing Mather as more of a friend.

There’s an entire plotline where Mather and Meira discover a new kind of magic within themselves and that they’re not who they think they are.

Then of course, there’s the final epic battle as Cordell, Winter, and Autumn join forces against the armies of Spring and Angra. And well, stuff happens (no spoilers here).

Overall this is a great book. I found the characters really drove it for me, or at least they mattered more to me than the actual plot, which although is given a unique spin, seems to have a similar theme to other high fantasies I’ve read before. The world building is pretty cool too! But as much as I enjoyed it, I found it hard to keep reading at times; it just didn’t have the same “I’ll stay up all night to finish this” feel for me.

I still give it a four!

Our reviews in this series…

Links will become active as reviews are published.

Other recommendations…

If you love high fantasy check out these other great reads! Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis, the Elemental Trilogy by Sherri Thomas, Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White.

Teen Hyde by Chandler Baker

A classic tale set in modern times makes for a great read!

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

teen-hydeTitleTeen Hyde
AuthorChandler Baker
SeriesHigh School Horror Story, Book 02
Publish Date: January 10, 2017, by Feiwel & Friends
Genre: YA Horror
Source: provided by the publisher

Publisher’s DescriptionHigh school meets classic horror in this YA contemporary twist on Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Head Cheerleader Cassidy Hyde’s life should have been perfect. But it really, really wasn’t, and she’s about ready to give up and disappear. Until, the first time she takes Sunshine. This new experimental drug makes Cassidy feel like the perfect, golden girl once again. A little memory loss seems like a small price to pay to get her life back . . . at least until boys start to go missing . . . boys that Cassidy NEVER wanted to think of again . . .

Thus begins Chandler Baker’s second twisty-turny retelling of a familiar tale, once again set in the town of Hollow Pines, Texas, where high school is truly horrifying.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Luna_Lovebooks_100Luna Lovebooks says…

Likes: What a great way to bring to light real life issues that teens face today—pressures of school, drugs, and sexual assault. These problems, mixed with the tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, makes this book twice as scary. I did enjoy that this novel is part of a bigger story but can be read as a standalone. Cassidy’s descent into madness is well written and both her and Macy’s voices are distinct.

badge4v5Dislikes: I would like to have heard more about the drug Sunshine. It is never mentioned after a certain point and gives us the impression that this drug is the reason that Cassidy changes, but it never really states so. Many of the background characters could have been a little less in the background. They would have rounded out the story nicely.

This is a great novel about modern issues mixed in with classic horror. Overall I give this 4 tally marks.

Other recommendations…

Looking for more creepy teen reads? Check out the following: Teen Frankenstein by Chandler Baker, The Midnight Club Christopher Pike, The Cellar by Natasha Preston

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Black City Demon by Richard A. Knaak

What can happen when a bad person gets control of a lot of power? Isn’t that what many Americans are asking themselves these days? Black City Demon tackles that question as well when an old enemy of Chicago gets his hands on the power of Feirie.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

black-city-demonTitleBlack City Demon
AuthorRichard A. Knaak
SeriesBlack City Saint, Book 02
Publish Date: March 14, 2017 by Pyr
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Provided by the publisher

Publisher’s Description: Since he became the guardian of the Gate between our world and Feirie sixteen hundred years ago, Nick Medea, once Saint George, has battled to keep the darkest Feirie–the Wyld–from invading the mortal plane. With the dragon an unwilling part of him, Nick maintains balance between realms, often at great cost to him and those nearest to him.

Nick and his ragtag confederates—including the shape-shifter Fetch and Nick’s reincarnated love, Claryce—have battled the Wyld, but not mortals as sinister as the darkest Feirie. Now, with Prohibition in full swing and bootlegger wars embattling Chicago, a murderous evil born of the mortal world has turned its attention to the power of the Gate… and Nick himself.

Nick must turn again to his most untrustworthy ally: the dragon within. Yet even together they may not be enough to face what was once a man… but is now a creature even dragons may fear.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

This is a great follow-up to Black City Saint. Nick, Fetch, Kravayik, Claryce, and the Dragon have another mystery to solve, one even more insidious than the last.

I like how Knaak wove real Chicago history into this book. This particular historical figure seems to be popping up quite often in books and TV lately. He is an interesting psychological case study so I can see the fascination.

This book, even more than the first, truly establishes Nick as a curmudgeon. He is grumpy, and he can hold a grudge for a LONG time. I’m looking forward to the book where he can accept himself and all of his friends, including Claryce, and stop being so short and grumpy with them. However, a lot of urban fantasy detectives are grumpy; so are a lot of noir detectives. So that may never come to pass.

Knaak has a lot of really good side characters in this series. I really like Detective Cortez. I’m hoping he becomes part of the inner circle eventually.  I love Fetch, of course, even when his true nature peaks through. Kravayik fascinates me, too.  I’d love to learn more about his conversion to Christianity. I even like Diocles; the backstory between Nick and Diocles fascinates me. There are so many interesting stories that could come from that relationship.

I hope this series continues for a while. I think there are some great stories here worth telling.

Percy_Procrastinator_100Percy Procrastinator says…

The second book in the series starts slow but once it gets going, it’s non-stop action and fun!

A long time ago, I read a review of a movie and the reviewer spoiled the movie. The reviewer didn’t go out of his way to spoil movies, but if he had to do so for his review, he didn’t shy away from them. He did so because, in his opinion, if a movie can’t stand on its own even after a spoiler, it must not have had much to it.

With that, I get to my review, and while I won’t directly spoil the book, I could be giving enough information that other readers might feel I spoiled it.

This book picks up a few weeks after the events of the last book. This means prohibition is in full swing and the threat of a mob war lingers. Even with the threat to Feirie gone, Feirie has not let Nick go and still meddles. Nick returns to doing what he does—dealing with Feirie trespassers—and avoids Claryce, which is one of my issues with the book.

Nick is fifteen hundred years old. He would have seen many strong women in that time, and attitudes toward women go up and down throughout history. Indeed, he thought highly of his own Cleolinda from his mortal life. However, he treats Claryce no different than many men of the time treated women. He’s not telling her the whole truth, he’s trying to protect her and keep her out of danger, and he’s taking some choices from her about when she can help or not. I get it. He doesn’t want to lose Claryce, nor Cleolinda’s reincarnation. It annoys me because I take it as a lack of trust on his part that she will do what she can and not try to do too much.

Claryce is trying to clear up some business from her former employer, including selling old properties. One person interested in those properties has Nick on edge and worried that Claryce is going to be pulled into his world again. Here is my spoiler and what it did to me. Unfortunately, I recognized the buyer’s name, and if you do not recognize it, I suggest you not Google it. The first half of the book is finding out the identity of the buyer and because I knew, it made the book a tougher read than it should have been. This is one of those times when the author’s use of detail works against him.

badge4v5Once that was done, though, this was a great read. The same details that were spoilers for me do pull me into the story later. His use of slang via Fetch helps immersion, as does his use of the everyday terms for appliances back then. I’m still fascinated by the realm of Feirie that the author has created and how it works. I want a bit more detail but not so much that the mystery is gone!

Even with the spoiler, I give this a solid four. I don’t think it would have gotten a five because Nick’s attitude toward Claryce still grates on me, but this is a good book.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations

For another 1920’s urban fantasy, check out Ari Marmell’s Mick Oberon series.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.