Fantasy Book Review: Jinx

Jinx by Sage Blackwood

Synopsis:
In the Urwald, you don’t step off the path. Trolls, werewolves, and butter churn–riding witches lurk amid the clawing branches, eager to swoop up the unwary. Jinx has always feared leaving the path—then he meets the wizard Simon Magus.

Jinx knows that wizards are evil. But Simon’s kitchen is cozy, and he seems cranky rather than wicked. Staying with him appears to be Jinx’s safest, and perhaps only, option. As Jinx’s curiosity about magic grows, he learns to listen to the trees as closely as he does to Simon’s unusual visitors. The more Jinx discovers, the more determined he becomes to explore beyond the security of well-trodden paths.

But in the Urwald, a little healthy fear is never out of place, for magic—and magicians—can be as dangerous as the forest. And soon Jinx must decide which is the greater threat.

Review:
Jinx is a likeable youngster, curious with a bit of an attitude. He has the unique ability to understand any language, even that of the trees, and he can “see” the thoughts of those he meets. Orphaned at a young age, his stepparents try to leave him in the dangerous forest where Simon the Wizard finds him and takes him home. Jinx lives a tolerable life with Simon, and even convinces him to let Jinx apprentice. But after Simon works a spell on Jinx, he discovers he’s missing his ability to read the thoughts of others. Simon may not be the good wizard Jinx thought.

This is a fun, humorous, and exciting tale for all ages. With colorful characters, an imaginative world, and plenty of magic – Jinx is an exciting story from beginning to end. Full of mystery, adventure, and humor, this is a fantasy that all ages will enjoy. I’m guessing this is start of a series, as there are some minor subplots left hanging. And I certainly look forward to more of these incredible characters.

Fantasy Book Review: City of a Thousand Dolls

City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster

Synopsis:
Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a little girl. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. She makes her way as Matron’s errand girl, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city’s handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.

Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls’ deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but also her life.

Review:
Nisha is a smart and brave girl, humble but self-reliant. She remembers little of her past other than her father leaving her just outside the City. The City is comprised of almost all women, training girls in various areas such as music, beauty, dancing, and combat in hopes that they will be picked up as apprentices or simply bought by wealthy men.

It’s a unique and brilliant dystopian setting full of mystery and intrigue. The characters are engaging and the story is captivating. Forster’s debut novel is certainly impressive. City of a Thousand Dolls is a coming of age novel with plenty of surprising twists, a murder mystery, drama, and a bit of romance. I loved every bit of this dark and beautiful fantasy. This will be on my list of favorites this year.

Book Giveaway: Pathfinder Tales: Pirate’s Honor

Courtesy of Paizo Publishing, I have a copy of Pathfinder Tales: Pirate’s Honor by Chris A. Jackson for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes, please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends May 17. I’ll draw a name on May 18, and notify winner via email.

Good luck!

Read moreBook Giveaway: Pathfinder Tales: Pirate’s Honor

Jill Wolfson Blog Tour: Guest Post and Giveaway

Furious

Author Jill Wolfson joins SciFiChick.com today with her latest stop on her Blog Tour to talk about her latest release Furious and bringing the Greek mythology of the Furies into modern day.
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The Furies Go to High School
Jill Wolfson

I got the idea to write Furious when my daughter and her two best friends came home from school one day in late October, all excited about their idea for Halloween costumes. They were going to be The Furies, a.k.a. the sisters of darkness, with wild hair, skimpy clothing, wings and hateful expressions.

I was intrigued that these three very modern high-school girls were so drawn to goddesses of revenge that date back to ancient Greece. But that’s the power of myth. A story that arose in one culture and one time resonates across space and time because it speaks to some very important and very human part of us.

We have all felt that life is unfair. We have all been hurt. And we have all wanted to pay back the person who hurt us or hurt someone we love.

So how to update such an old story? I started by reading The Orestia, which is a bloody, revenge-themed trilogy of Greek tragedies written by Aeschylus, which concerns the end of the curse on the House of Atreus. The storyline has all sorts of twists and turns with members of the royal family murdering each other in gory ways, while assorted gods, including the Furies, take sides.

The final play is actually called The Furies and in it, the goddesses of revenge haunt Prince Orestes for killing his mother. But at the end, they are called off and tamed. Given gifts and flattery, their anger subsides and the Furies turn into a trio of goddess called The Kindly Ones.

Curtain down.

But, what if?

What if someone from that ancient time is still so mad that she nurses a grudge for centuries, waiting for the right time to call the Furies back out of retirement.

What if that time is now and the place is a Northern California beach town?

We definitely live in a time of fury. I see it everywhere – on TV and the Internet, on the streets and roads. People are furious about personal problems and larger social issues –the economy, wars, pollution, bullying, racial and gender discrimination, mistreatment of children and animals. There’s so much pent-up anger, and lots of people feel helpless to do anything about it.

Young people feel injustice the hardest. As Stephanie (The Fury Tisiphone) in Furious complains:

What can someone our age do about it? About anything? Write letters? Hold a fund-raiser bake sale? Make speeches in class that nobody reads? I can’t even vote. I have no power.

Well, let’s do something about it!

So that’s how I gave them ancient powers and brought Greek mythology into high school.

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Thanks so much to SciFiChick for hosting this stop on my blog tour. If you want to see pictures of the Furies depicted in art, check out http://jillwolfson.com/furious.html.

I hope you enjoy Furious, and find the fury in yourself.

Courtesy of Macmillan, I have a copy of Furious for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes, please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends May 10. I’ll draw a name on May 11, and notify winner via email.

Good luck!

Read moreJill Wolfson Blog Tour: Guest Post and Giveaway

SciFi Book Review: Reaper’s Legacy

Reaper’s Legacy by Tim Lebbon

Synopsis:
Heroes and monsters clash with government forces in an apocalyptic London. Two years after London is struck by a devastating terrorist attack, it is cut off from the world, protected by a large force of soldiers (known as Choppers), while those in the rest of Britain believe that their ex-capital is now a toxic, uninhabited wasteland. Jack and his friends know that the truth is very different. The handful of survivors in London are developing strange, fantastic powers. Evolving. Meanwhile, the Choppers treat the ruined city as their own experimental playground. Jack’s own developing powers are startling and frightening, though he is determined to save his father, the brutal man with a horrific power who calls himself Reaper. Jack must also find their friend Lucy-Anne, who went north to find her brother. What Lucy-Anne discovers is terrifying-people evolving into monstrous things and the knowledge that a nuclear bomb has been set to destroy what’s left of London. And the clock is ticking.

Review:
This sequel moves back and forth between Jack, trying to rescue his mother and sister from the Choppers and Lucy-Anne accompanied by Rook, searching for Lucy-Anne’s brother. Jack and his friends team up with some unlikely allies as they begin to form a plan to attack those holding Jack’s family and other “evolved” people stuck inside London. In the meantime, Lucy-Anne and Rook journey through London’s most dangerous areas.

As before, both the setting and characters are dark and gritty. Jack’s power-hungry father is an emotional roller coaster for him. The powers that the humans have developed are more times a curse than a blessing. Especially the monstrous ones that Lucy-Anne and Rook encounter. It’s funny that everything that the teens have been through, that Jack and his friends don’t want any more killing – even in self-defense. This didn’t seem realistic, as their hatred for the evil, torturous Choppers should warrant killing them in self-defense when attacked. Despite that annoyance, I really enjoyed this fast-paced sequel. Full of suspense, surprising twists, and a bit of childish humor to lighten the dark mood – Reaper’s Legacy is a thrilling adventure. The cliffhanger ending will leave readers eager for the last installment in this exciting trilogy.

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