Category Archives: Book Reviews

Reviewing Scourge and Vengance by Gail Z. Martin: Blog Tour and Giveaway

It’s nearly Halloween and when I was asked if I was interested in participating in another Blog Tour, this time about a series with Monster Hunting brothers, I jumped on it! I hadn’t read any of Gail Z. Martin’s books before, and the premise of her Darkhurst series sounded interesting.

Time for a disclaimer; I’m given things (books, puzzles, coloring books) to review. The companies would like a good or glowing review, but sometimes that just isn’t possible. Book reviews are especially tricky, as each reader experiences a book differently. Sadly, I did not enjoy reading either Scourge or Vengeance. Let me break it down for you, but remember, this is just my opinion, and your mileage may vary!

Scourge

 

 

Scourge

A Darkhurst Novel

In a city beset by monsters, three brothers must find out who is controlling the abominations.The city-state of Ravenwood is wealthy, powerful, and corrupt. Merchant Princes and Guild Masters wager fortunes to outmaneuver League rivals for the king’s favor and advantageous trading terms. Lord Mayor Ellor Machison wields assassins, blood witches, and forbidden magic to assure that his powerful patrons get what they want, no matter the cost.Corran, Rigan, and Kell Valmonde are Guild Undertakers, left to run their family’s business when guards murdered their father and monsters killed their mother. Their grave magic enables them to help souls pass to the After and banish vengeful spirits. Rigan’s magic is unusually strong and enables him to hear the confessions of the dead, the secrets that would otherwise be taken to the grave.When the toll exacted by monsters and brutal guards hits close to home and ghosts expose the hidden sins of powerful men, Corran, Rigan and Kell become targets in a deadly game and face a choice: obey the Guild, or fight back and risk everything.

It sounds great, right? However, I found that of the 550 some-odd pages, over 300 were repetitive world building that only barely advanced the plot. I read epic fantasy to escape the fact that our world currently is being run by oligarchs who think nothing of sacrificing those that do not directly bring them profits. I found myself gloriously depressed reading Scourge, as to me, it paralleled reality a little too closely for comfort. That and I found the seemingly endless cycle of battling mindless monsters and Rigan(the mage-brother) nearly draining himself to death reminded me of a roleplaying campaign I played in college. Honestly, if you like a good dungeon-crawl rpg or reading George R.R. Martin or Robert Jordan, you might enjoy this book.

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Vengeance (Winner of the Manly Wade Wellman Award!)

A Darkhurst Novel (Book 2)

Fighting the monsters that killed their family and friends cost undertaker brothers Corran and Rigan Valmonde their home and livelihood and made them wanted men—but the worst is yet to come.

The city-state of Ravenwood is wealthy, powerful, and corrupt. Merchant Princes and Guild Masters wager fortunes to outmaneuver League rivals for the king’s favor and the best trading terms. Ambitious and ruthless leaders use betrayal and assassination to gain their ends. Blood magic conjures monsters to further the goals of the ruling class, and the price of stolen power is paid for by the deaths of commoners. Now, the fate of Ravenwood hangs in the balance as rival city-states maneuver to gain advantage.

When Corran and Rigan and their friends became outlaw monster hunters and fled beyond the walls of Ravenwood City, they thought they had defeated the source of the abominations that killed so many of their friends and loved ones. But the more successful they become at destroying the creatures, the more they realize a greater evil is at work – larger and more monstrous than they ever could imagine…

I’ll admit to liking Vengeance a bit better than Scourge. The characters have personality and verve. The dialogue isn’t as stilted and while the monster hunts are still ongoing, the monsters are more interesting and dangerous. The world has expanded somewhat with the characters now being outlaws, but the rules and overall villainy remains. There appears to be a third book in the series, but it has not yet been announced.

While I didn’t enjoy this particular series, I am interested in the steampunk one she wrote with her husband, Larry N Martin. Every author deserves a second chance, as each series and book is different. Give the Darkhurst series a try, you might like it.  My opinion is just that, mine. Yours may be different, and that’s why our world is full of amazing books.

Giveaway: 

Win a Kindle copy of both Scourge and Vengeance! Contest runs October 15th thru the 29th. Rafflecopter code is below:
Rafflecopter link: Giveaway

About the Author:

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Gail Martin, Dreamspinner Communications
Gail Z. Martin is the author of Scourge: A Darkhurst Novel, from Solaris Books. Gail is also the author of Vendetta: A Deadly Curiosities Novel and Trifles and Folly 1: A Deadly Curiosities Collection, the latest in her urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC; Shadow and Flame is the fourth book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga; The Shadowed Path (The first Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures collection), as well as Iron and Blood a Steampunk series, and Spells, Salt, & Steel, both co-authored with Larry N. Martin.

She is also author of Ice Forged, Reign of Ash, and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen); The Fallen Kings Cycle (The SwornThe Dread) and the urban fantasy novel Deadly Curiosities and Tangled Web. Gail writes three ebook series: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures, The Deadly Curiosities Adventures and The Blaine McFadden AdventuresThe Storm and Fury Adventures, steampunk stories set in the Iron & Blood world, are co-authored with Larry N. Martin.

Gail’s work has appeared in over 35 US/UK anthologies. Newest anthologies include: The Big Bad 2, Athena’s Daughters, Heroes, Space, Contact Light, With Great Power, The Weird Wild West, The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, Alien Artifacts, Cinched: Imagination Unbound, Realms of Imagination, Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens, Gaslight and Grimm, Baker Street Irregulars, Journeys, Hath no Fury and A Haven Harbor Halloween.

You can also find Gail on: Twitter @GailZMartin, on Facebook.com/WinterKingdoms, at DisquietingVisions.com on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/GailZMartinand free excerpts on Wattpad http://wattpad.com/GailZMartin.
Disclosure: I received complimentary ebooks from the publisher in exchange for review. The opinions are my own.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

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Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep: Crown of Shards #1 Review and Giveaway

Being a newbie blogger, I was really surprised to be chosen for Jennifer Estep’s Blog Tour. I mean, sure, I’d applied for it, but never really thought I’d be chosen. In this, and in many other ways, I have a lot in common with Evie, the protagonist of Kill the Queen.

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Released: October 2, 2018
Series: Crown of Shards #1
Published by Harper Voyager
Pages: 480
Format: eARC

This is the blurb on the back:

The thrilling first novel in the Crown of Shards epic fantasy series combines magic, murder, and adventure when an unlikely member of the royal family suddenly becomes a contender in a clash for the crown . . .

In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten.

But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre.

Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of combat, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move.

But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.

Exciting, right??

Wrong! This is MORE than exciting.  Kill the Queen is honestly one of the best series starters for an epic fantasy series I’ve read in long time.  Jennifer Estep has built a world of magic and intrigue that is chock-full of characters with lovable or irritating quirks, countries and countrymen that have proud cultures and traditions and a heroine who wants to be anything but!

Evie finds she has to reinvent herself yet again, and choose whether to risk herself for friendship, for country and for love. Evie is relatable, snarky, loving and occasionally mischievous in just the right blend. Jennifer Estep has a fantastic talent for writing characters who are REAL. Whose plight moves you along until you are as much a part of the story as they are.

I’ll admit to reading this book twice already, and will most likely read it again before too long. For anyone who wished Game of Thrones wasn’t quite so bloody, but also loved The Princess Bride, Kill the Queen will be sure to please!

If you are like me, and pulling a Fry…

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Futurama is Copyright 20th Century Fox and Matt Groening

 

Purchase at:
Barnes & Noble: https://goo.gl/iaQ3Rc
Books-a-Million: https://goo.gl/udDZUa
Google Play: https://goo.gl/nQquEg
And if you’re like me and love signed copies:
Now I know I’m on the tail end of this Tour, but there are 3 more days to sign up to win!
Giveaway: 
Win a $25 Amazon gift card! Contest runs Sept. 17 until October 7. Rafflecopter code is below:
About the Author:
 jennifer-estep Jennifer Estep is a New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author who prowls the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea. In addition to Kill the Queen, Jennifer is also the author of the Elemental Assassin, Mythos Academy, Black Blade, and Bigtime series. 
For more information on Jennifer and her books, visit www.jenniferestep.com or follow Jennifer on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter. You can also sign up for her newsletter.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary ebook from the publisher in exchange for review. The opinions are my own.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Target Rich Environment: Book Review

This post is going to be a little different from the ones I’ve done previously. It’s going to be a lot lighter on the pictures, and a bit heavier on words. The reason? This is about a BOOK.

I spent the last week in Atlanta, Georgia at DragonCon. It was loud, there was a metric ton of people sharing the same air, and every possible fandom you could imagine was represented. I got to meet a bunch of my favorite authors, and met authors I had never heard of, but now desperately want to read. I bought Target Rich Environment at The Missing Volume’s booth, and couldn’t wait to read it after con.

Larry Correia is one of my go-to authors. Monster Hunter International (MHI) is a favorite series, I laughed myself sick listening to Tom Stranger on Audible, and am partly through the Deep Six audiobook. I’m a bit of an oddity amongst Larry’s fanbase. I neither own nor overly much enjoy guns or gun-fu; though SC does. I read Larry Correia’s books for the simple fact that his characters feel real. They make me laugh, or cry, or snarl at their stupidity; and the inevitable gun-fu is both well written and engaging.

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Comfy couch, Pandemonium on my lap, and a brand new book!

Target Rich Environment: A Collection by Larry Correia is just that; a collection of the author’s short stories he’s written over the years. There are 14 separate pieces of fiction inside, ranging the gamut from The Wild West to a post-apocalyptic Peter Pan to a full on Lovecraftian horror. Some of the stories were brand new and other were not before released in print, having been Audible exclusives.

I prefer full novels to short stories usually, but this collection I devoured in the course of a few hours.  Honestly, I found my favorites were “The Bridge” and “The Great Sea Beast”. Both these stories contain characters who have so much more depth than just a small short story can hold. I really hope that some of these short stories are turned into their own novels.

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Zoomie proving why one of her nicknames is book-dragon.

SC was thrilled that the last story of the book is “The Adventures of Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent”. He dislikes audiobooks, but had dearly wanted to know why “Hooon!” is the battle cry of all the Correia fans.

  • Title: Target Rich Environment
  • Author: Larry Correia
  • Publisher: Baen
  • Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
  • Story Type: Short story

Where to buy: Target Rich Environment A Collection By Larry Correia is available through Baen’s website, Amazon, The Missing Volume or your local  bookstore. The ebook retails for $9.99 and the hardcover book retails for $25.

Disclosure: I purchased this book. The opinions are my own and are not a reflection of either Larry Correia or Baen Books.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!