Fantasy – Fiction Book Review: Enchanted

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

Sunday is the youngest of seven sisters – all named after days of the week. All of her sisters have special gifts, but Sunday’s is the most dangerous as whatever she writes down in one of her stories comes true. And the results are rarely predictable. Sunday loves to write stories, but her family rarely has time for her. So when she happens upon an enchanted frog in the forest who actually wants to hear her stories, they instantly become friends. Each time that she leaves him to return home, she gives him a kiss in hopes he returns to his human form but nothing changes. After time their friendship grows, and one day after kissing him goodbye, the frog changes back into his original human form – Prince Rumbold. Unfortunately, Sunday’s family holds the prince responsible for the death of Sunday’s eldest brother. But Prince Rumbold has fallen in love with Sunday, and will try to win her heart. But both of their families hold powerful secrets that may stand in the way of their happiness.

Sunday is a likeable girl with a good heart. Her romance with Rumbold is straight out of a fairy tale – instant and all-consuming. It doesn’t work in real life, but it somehow makes sense in a fairy tale. Kontis has brilliantly woven together many well-known fairy tales into one fantastic story that is both inspired and riveting. Readers of all ages will enjoy this eclectic and exciting novel. Full of magic, mystery, and colorful characters – Enchanted is a heartwarming and beautiful tale. This is definitely one I’ll want to read again and again.

Fantasy – Fiction Book Review: Bitterblue

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Since the death of her parents eight years ago, Bitterblue has been the Queen of Monsea. Buried in paperwork, she longs to see more of her city and hear stories from local taverns. But following the reign of her evil father Leck, Bitterblue must deal with the aftermath of his mind control over the entire realm. With everyone around her, including her closest advisors, acting a bit crazy at times, Bitterblue decides to get to the truth behind what all her father did during his reign. But someone is desperate to keep the secrets hidden and will even murder to keep the past buried.

Bitterblue is an extremely likeable young woman, with a good heart eager to make her country whole again. Though, she never quite feels like a queen – as she doesn’t command enough authority or assertion. She’s meek and humble – which is great for a storybook character but not believable as queen. I enjoyed her friendship with the two thieves she meets while exploring the city on her own and in disguise. Though the romance with Saph never comes close to the level of the main characters in Graceling and Fire. Which worked here. There was too much conspiracy, danger and confusion going on for her to form an actual relationship with someone like Saph and have it be rational. Bitterblue puts her country and its people above everything, even her happiness at times.

Fire (book 2) seems to stand apart a bit and was somewhat of a prequel to Graceling (book 1). And Bitterblue (book 3) is a direct sequel to Graceling. It may seem confusing to those that haven’t read them! Yet by the end of Bitterblue the storyline of Fire is woven in wonderfully. This YA fantasy is an epic adventure with complex codes, mystery, and suspense. The colorful characters and fast-paced story was thoroughly enjoyable and captivating. Bitterblue is a fantastic conclusion to an inspired trilogy.

Fantasy – Fiction Book Review: Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side

Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

Jessica Packwood spots a mysterious stranger on the way to school one morning. Lucius Vladescu has arrived from Romania claiming Jessica is his betrothed. And a vampire princess. Jessica thinks he’s crazy, until he makes a miraculous recovery after getting kicked by a horse. But by the time Jessica realizes her feelings for Lucius, it might be too late. As a malicious classmate has already claimed Lucius for her own. Jessica must get Lucius back on track and marry him in order to stop a vampire war and save her people.

Jess and Lucius have a fun chemistry. Jess is attracted to him, but his bizarre behavior and talk of vampires make him seem a bit too insane. Then there’s the part of being betrothed that Jess rebels against immediately as well. Jess is likeable and relatable. I liked that she doesn’t fall head over heels with Lucius immediately. And the book Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire’s Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions that he gives her is just too funny. In fact, I would have loved to see more excerpts from the guide come into play. The humor really sets this vampire romance apart from other YA fantasies. Fantaskey blends vampire romance with a fairy tale-like reluctant princess that I thoroughly enjoyed. Full of drama, laughs, romance, and suspense – I flew through this surprising and entertaining read.

Joseph Nassise Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Welcome to The Great Undead War Blog Tour! My thanks to Angela for having me on today.

My name’s Joseph Nassise and I’m celebrating the release of my new novel from HarperVoyager, By the Blood of Heroes, which is the first book in the Great Undead War series that combines an alternate World War One with steampunk and zombies.

I’ve been focusing in on the characters, the setting, the genre, even zombie classifications since the start of the tour, so today’s focus is going to be on something a little different. Today I want to talk about THE SHARP END.

What’s THE SHARP END, you ask?

BY THE BLOOD OF HEROES has been described by Harper Voyager as “an alternate history zombie novel set during World War I that blends the take-no-prisoners heroic grit of Inglorious Basterds with the irreverent inventiveness of Dawn of the Dead…” Its main focus is a dangerous mission behind enemy lines to rescue a downed Allied pilot who has information crucial to the war effort. It combines horror, steampunk and gold ole fashioned action to create what reviewers are saying takes alternate history to “brilliant new heights” (Library Journal.)

BY THE BLOOD OF HEROES opens with the main character, Captain Michael “Madman” Burke trying to make some field repairs while in the trenches to his mechanical hand. He’s not happy with the result, feeling he’s done little but move some of the dirt from one set of gears to the other, knowing he needs a trip to the rear to get it cleaned properly in one of Nicolai Tesla’s laboratories.

The story quickly moves on to other issues and topics, but questions linger. How did Burke lose his hand? Why did he agree to replace it with a mechanical one? What the hell kind of war is he fighting anyway?

THE SHARP END is my answer to those questions. Think of it as BY THE BLOOD OF HEROES’ little brother. It is a prequel short story that I released as a stand-alone ebook in the days leading up to the launch. It is intended to introduce readers to both the setting and characters of BY THE BLOOD OF HEROES, by telling the tale of this seminal event in life of then Lieutenant Burke. Readers also get to meet Sergeant Moore, who eventually becomes Burke’s right-hand man and close friend.

The story is thirty-six pages long, which makes it more a novellette than a short story, to be honest, and focuses on the events that occur during the Battle of Passchendaele. Also known as the Third Battle of Ypres, this marked the first time the German army deployed poisoned gas as a battlefield weapon. That gas attack occurs in THE SHARP END as well, but the gas has been modified slightly…

Along with the story, the ebook also contains a timeline of events leading up March 1921, which is the setting for the series, and the first two chapters of BY THE BLOOD OF HEROES itself. Best yet, it sells for $1.99, so readers can check out a new writer they might not be familiar with without breaking the bank while still getting a taste of what the story will be like.

So come join the war effort! Check out THE SHARP END. If you find it meets your fancy, BY THE BLOOD OF HEROES awaits…

 

Courtesy of the author, I have a copy of By the Blood of Heroes: The Great Undead War by Joseph Nassise for two (2) lucky winners!

Contest is open to US and Canada only. No PO Boxes, please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends June 15. I’ll draw names on June 16, and notify winners via email.

Good luck!

Read moreJoseph Nassise Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Lisa Shearin Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Author Lisa Shearin stops by SciFiChick.com today on her latest Blog Tour! Lisa was kind enough to answer some questions about her books and her experience in writing. And keep reading for a chance to win her latest book All Spell Breaks Loose!

Can you tell us a bit about Raine Benares and your latest release ALL SPELL BREAKS LOOSE in your own words?
Raine Benares is a seeker, which is basically a detective who uses magic to find missing people and stolen objects. At the beginning of the series (MAGIC LOST, TROUBLE FOUND) she inadvertently gets herself psychically bonded to the Saghred—a stone that gives the one bonded to it unlimited power, with a side order of insanity. Not crazy like an eccentric aunt, but take-over-the-world-and-kill-millions kind of crazy.

The entire series (all six books) takes place in an approximate three-month timeframe. That’s a lot of action in very little time, but thanks to the Saghred (and the evil megalomaniacs who want the stone for their own), Raine is in a lot of trouble with very little ways out of it.

Thanks to friends and allies (both old and new), and ill-timed romantic entanglements (it ain’t easy to fight for your life and have a relationship at the same time), Raine manages to stay one step ahead of the power-hungry elves and goblin aristocrats who want the stone and its power for their own. Unfortunately Raine can’t just give it to them. Once bonded to the Saghred, you’re bonded for life. Only death can break that bond. Yours. Understandably, Raine has a problem with that last part.

ALL SPELL BREAKS LOOSE is the finale of the Saghred storyline. In it, Raine and a small band of good friends, not-so-good friends, and one outright enemy (don’t ask), travel to the goblin capital of Regor in order to destroy the Saghred and kill the goblin archmage who has found a way to use the stone’s power to enslave the world. While there, Raine & Company must also renegade goblin prince on the throne. Piece of cake. Not.

Has the series progressed as you expected? Any surprises along the way?
The biggest surprise was that the series extended into six books. I expected three books max. But the characters kept growing and their stories began to take on lives of their own, so it was impossible for me to stop after three books. I had to find out what happened for myself.

So this is the 6th and final book in the series? What will you miss most about writing for this series? Is it easy to move on to something new?

Read moreLisa Shearin Blog Tour and Giveaway!

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