It’s always good to read an excellent book, but if you are like me, you both anticipate and dread the sequel. Protect the Prince is the second book in the Crown of Shards series by Jennifer Estep. No spoilers, but I can promise that the sequel is just as good as the original! Protect the Prince is an amazing rollercoaster of adventure and intrique!
The book drops on July 2nd, and I cannot be more excited to see other people’s reactions. Here is the blurb from the back of the book:
Magic, murder, adventure, and romance combine in this second novel in the exciting Crown of Shards saga from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Estep.
Everleigh Blair might be the new gladiator queen of Bellona, but her problems are far from over.
First, Evie has to deal with a court full of arrogant, demanding nobles, all of whom want to get their greedy hands on her crown. As if that wasn’t bad enough, an assassin tries to kill Evie in her own throne room.
Despite the dangers, Evie goes ahead with a scheduled trip to the neighboring kingdom of Andvari in order to secure a desperately needed alliance. But complicating matters is the stubborn Andvarian king, who wants to punish Evie for the deaths of his countrymen during the Seven Spire massacre.
But dark forces are at work inside the Andvarian palace, and Evie soon realizes that no one is safe. Worse, Evie’s immunity to magic starts acting in strange, unexpected ways, which makes her wonder whether she is truly strong enough to be a Winter Queen.
But Evie’s magic, life, and crown aren’t the only things in danger—so is her heart, thanks to Lucas Sullivan, the Andvarian king’s bastard son and Evie’s . . . well, Evie isn’t quite sure what Sullivan is to her.
Only one thing is certain—protecting a prince might be even harder than killing a queen…
There is so much to cover here; assassins from Morta (a rival country) led by the deadly Maeven, the two Andvari princes – Lucas the illegitimate versus Dominic the legitimate, plots and courtly intrigue.
Throughout the book, you see slices of Evie’s old life as the Mutt-magicked royal stand in inform her new life. From Evie’s love of good food, her reliance on her enhanced sense of smell, and to her remembrances of both slights and kindnesses, we see her grow. There are new characters and old ones; each with their own rich backstories begging for books of their own.
The most moving theme in my mind is Evie’s near constant struggle with Imposter Syndrome. She is the Queen, but she was never raised to it and while she wants what is best for her country and people, she struggles with how to make it happen. What does it mean to be a Winter Queen? And what does she need to sacrifice to stay alive?
Title: Protect the Prince
Author: Jennifer Estep
Series: Crown of Shards #2
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Released: July 2, 2019
About the Author:
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.
Occasionally, I get lucky. I follow Baen on Facebook and always enter their monthly contests for newly released books. I’ve been looking forward to reading Noir Fatale ever since it was announced. Winning a copy made my week!
There is just something visceral about reading noir. I can hear heels tapping and distant music, I can smell/taste the steaming city alleys on a muggy summer night. I find myself craving hot tea and hard liquor while dressed in full pin-up style. Noir as a genre combines my love of mystery, crime, and history. There are hard-bitten men, dangerous situations, and then there are the women…
The Femme Fatales, those lovely ladies that seduce and distract all who encounter them and bend men to their wills. Oh gods, I love them. Noir Fatale focuses on these women, their stories, their exploits. All while exploring the extremes of fantasy and science fiction landscapes. This anthology holds 13 stories, written by 14 authors. Those authors are Larry Correia, Kacey Ezell, Laurell K. Hamilton, David Weber, Sarah A. Hoyt, Robert Buettner, Alistair Kimble, Griffin Barber, Michael Massa, Hinkley Correia, Patrick Tracy, Steve Diamond, Christopher L. Smith, and Michael Ferguson.
Anthologies can be fun, because of their nature, being made of short stories; you can choose how to read them. I admit to being gluttonous and reading all of it within a day! I explored catacombs, moon tunnels, seedy city streets and space stations all while being sat upon by my trusty feline divas.
I can honestly say that there isn’t a single story that I didn’t like! I found new stories by authors I already knew, fleshing out their universes. There are new authors( or at least, new to me), whose works I will be sure to look up! From Madam Sunderhaven, the near-immortal necromancer, to the canny and sly Nina LaFleur, to the dangerous naiveté of Isis Lavender; these femmes strut fully formed from the pages unto the theater of your mind.
Title: Noir Fatale
Author/Editor: Larry Correia and Kacy Ezell
Publisher: Baen Books
Released: May 7th, 2019
About the Editors:
Larry Correia is the creator of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times best-selling Monster Hunter series, with first entry Monster Hunter International, as well as urban fantasy hardboiled adventure saga the Grimnoir Chronicles, with first entry Hard Magic, and epic fantasy series The Saga of the Forgotten Warrior, with first entry Son of the Black Sword and latest entry, House of Assassins. He is an avid gun user and advocate and shot on a competitive level for many years. Before becoming a full-time writer, he was a military contract accountant, and a small business accountant and manager. Correia lives in Utah with his wife and family.
Kacey Ezell is an active duty USAF helicopter pilot who also writes sci-fi/fantasy/alt history/horror fiction. Her first novel was a Dragon Award finalist in 2018, and her stories have been featured in Baen’s Year’s Best Military and Adventure Science Fiction compilation in 2017 and 2018. In 2018, her story “Family Over Blood” won the 2018 Year’s Best Military and Adventure Science Fiction Reader’s Choice Award. She writes for Baen and Chris Kennedy Publishing.
I’m a reader. Unashamedly. My parents wanted their kids to love books, and I’m sure that at some point, they deeply regretted it when the floorboards groaned and creaked, and the bookshelves overflowed. I’d read and enjoyed the first of the Maradaine Constabulary books, A Murder of Mages. But 2015 was a crazy year, and I never kept track of the subsequent books. It was a surprise to chance across Mr. Maresca’s Twitter feed as he was promoting A Parliament of Bodies. I reached out, and was beyond grateful that he was kind enough to ask DAW Books, his publisher to send me an ARC.
I started reading in fantasy, only later branching into science-fiction, mystery, nonfiction, and true crime. Marshall Ryan Maresca’s Maradaine Constabulary series manages to combine all of these genres. This is the third book in the series and the ninth of the Maradaine world. Yeah, you read that right, Maradaine World. Maresca’s Maradaine is a loom upon which he interweaves the four different stories (Thorn, Constabulary, Elite & Streets) into a comprehensive tapestry. You can read just one series, and get the basic story just fine, but if you expand into the greater world, you can see the whole of the panorama.
A Parliament of Bodies is a wild ride. It has only been a few months since the events in An Import of Intrigues, and Inspector Welling is under Investigation as to his continued fitness to serve as a member of the Constabulary. There is a fiendish serial killer who has kidnapped dozens of people and strapped them into clockwork death machines (think the Saw movies). Inspectors Welling and Rainey are joined by Dayne Heldrin and Jerinne Fendall of the Taurian Order to stop the man Dayne is convinced is the killer.
Some books are comfortable to read, they cradle your mind as you wander their pages. Others are a veritable battle, where like Bastian Balthazar Bux in the NeverEnding Story; you are drawn in and are as much a part of the story’s energy as the characters are. You can guess which A Parliament of Bodies is. After the first hundred pages I had to break out the 2 lb bag of jelly beans my mom gave me for Easter. It was either jelly beans or cannibalism as I chewed my fingernails to nubs.
This book had me laughing, crying, cursing out loud, when I wasn’t gasping and spluttering in inarticulate wonder. There are side adventures, and new revelations on past events that build both the world and make the cast more “real”. A Parliament of Bodies has so much of an edge-of-your-seat quality that by the end you are both winded and desperately craving the next book!
Title: A Parliament of Bodies
Author: Marshall Ryan Maresca
Series: Maradaine Constabulary
Publisher: DAW Books
Released: March 26, 2019
About the Author:
Marshall Ryan Maresca is a fantasy and science-fiction writer, author of the Maradaine Saga: Four parallel series set amid the bustling streets and crime-ridden districts of the exotic city called Maradaine. This includes The Thorn of Dentonhill, A Murder of Mages, The Holver Alley Crew and The Way of the Shield. His work also appeared in Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction and Rick Klaw’s anthology Rayguns Over Texas. He also has had several short plays produced. He grew up in upstate New York, studied film production at Penn State. He currently lives in Austin, Texas.
Where to buy: A Parliament of Bodies is available on Amazon in Kindle, and paperback. There is not currently an Audiobook version, although the first two Maradaine novels will be available on Audible on May 28th, 2019.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary book from the publisher in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.
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As children, we are molded by our parents. not just our beliefs and morals, but our habits and hobbies. My dad has been a reader for a long as I can remember. There were always magazine subscriptions and best-selling novels piled up by his favorite chair in the living room. When I was a teenager, I became addicted to reading The Smithsonian Magazine, often stalking the mailbox after school so that I could read it before Dad. (Sorry Dad, but not sorry…) This lead to snagging the novels, and discovering a love of both nonfiction and historical fiction.
Title: The Butchering ArtAuthor:Lindsey FitzharrisNarrator:Ralph ListerPublisher:Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux Audible StudiosReleased:October 17, 2017 /October 31,2017Language:EnglishPages:304Hours:7 hrs and 54 minsFormat:Paperback / Audiobook
I came by The Butchering Art through happenstance. I was reading a Facebook post by the Ravenmaster, who mentioned being at a book signing with Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris. I followed the links and found a post by Dr. Fitzharris about her book, The Butchering Art. I was absolutely fascinated by the premise of the book, a biography written in a storytelling style. I searched my local libraries, but to no avail. When I was out of options, I reached out to Lindsey on her Facebook page. She was amazingly supportive and gracious; she reached out to her publishing company to send me a copy.
I took my time reading The Butchering Art, there is such a depth of detail and colorful characters. The timeline consists of the entirety of Joseph Lister’s schooling and medical career. While I tend to avoid biographies, preferring to focus on moments in history, rather than individuals; this book combines the two. Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris’s storytelling is captivating! She tells the story of a quiet, modest man who had a scientific mind and an obsession with ending the scourge of hospital-borne illnesses. Lister’s explorations in germ theory and antisepsis made me incredibly aware of how very lucky I am that Lister succeeded in educating the medical community about these issues. I’ve survived pneumonia, influenza, strep and a major surgery. If not for Dr. Lister, I may not have.
I then listened to the audiobook, which is narrated by Ralph Lister, himself a distant relation of Joseph Lister. The Butchering Art, as an audiobook, is a delight to listen to. Mr. Lister’s narration is dynamic and captivating, with accents that bring life to the various personalities quoted. I found his slightly raspy voice engaging and impossible to ignore.
I can definitely recommend The Butchering Art for anyone who enjoys history, nonfiction, medicine, or has a strong stomach. Dr. Fitzharris doesn’t gloss over the horrors that was medicine in the Victorian Era, nor does she shirk from the details. This book is a journey from the dark ages of ignorance into the bright beginnings of scientific medicine.
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!
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.
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.
Win a Kindle copy of both Scourge and Vengeance! Contest runs October 15th thru the 29th. Rafflecopter code is below:
Gail Z. Martin is the author of Scourge: A Darkhurst Novel, from Solaris Books. Gail is also the author of Vendetta: ADeadly 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 Sworn, The 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 Adventures. The 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.