Tuesday, July 27, 2021

SISTERS OF THE SNAKE
by Sasha Nanua and Sarena Nanua
Publication: June 15, 2021
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genre: YA Fiction / Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★

A lost princess. A mysterious puppet master. And a race against time—before all is lost.


Princess Rani longs for a chance to escape her gilded cage and prove herself. Ria is a street urchin, stealing just to keep herself alive.


When these two lives collide, everything turns on its head: because Ria and Rani, orphan and royal, are unmistakably identical.


A deal is struck to switch places—but danger lurks in both worlds, and to save their home, thief and princess must work together. Or watch it all fall into ruin.


Deadly magic, hidden temples, and dark prophecies: Sisters of the Snake is an action-packed, immersive fantasy that will thrill fans of The Wrath & the Dawn and The Tiger at Midnight. -Publisher



On the brink of war, two sisters will challenge fate, love, and the limits of their magic.


The chapters are told alternately by the two main characters -Ria, an orphan and thief prowling the streets of Abai, and Rani, a princess trapped inside the palace walls. After the battle of the Great Masters of Magic, Amran enforced a 100-year peace treaty between Abai and Kaama, and as the end nears, a bloody war seems inevitable. Ria plans to steal some palace jewels to escape her conscription for this coming war. Once in the palace though, Ria and Rani have no time to register their shock –to have a twin they never knew existed. Ria has to postpone her escape to swap places with Rani in exchange for passports and financial aid. Rani will have the opportunity to escape the palace and find the Bloodstone to prove herself as the next monarch, while Ria uncovers the truth of why she grew up in an orphanage. It’s more than a good bargain!


There are several reasons why I enjoyed reading the SISTERS OF THE SNAKE. (1) It’s refreshing to read a retelling of an old English tale in an Indian setting. There is fullness on diversity and awareness of South Asian culture. (2) I like the magical structure. Having animals as familiars is nothing new in fiction, but making them work better with other forms of magic is quite fascinating. And by gods, I love Shima’s sassiness! (3) There are contrived scenes, here and there, but I like how the plot flowed. There are no dreary or stagnant chapters. (4) Twins on twins! Sasha and Sarena are convincing storytellers. I can hear the echo of their voices in the storylines. I’m sure they will explore more of the twin chemistry in the next installment.


There is magic, young love, action-packed adventure, and unselfish heroes –every fantasy should have! And if you love to try the audiobook, Soneela Nankani is amazing.



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About the Author:


Sarena Nanua & Sasha Nanua are twin sisters living in Ontario, Canada. Born on Diwali ten minutes apart from each other, they grew up loving stories about twins and magic, and began writing books together when they were nine years old. They are graduates of the English and professional writing programs at the University of Toronto and are also the authors of the Pendant trilogy. You can visit them online at www.sarenasashabooks.com.


*Thanks to HarperCollins Canada for the egalley in exchange for this unbiased review.
*This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.




Book Review | SISTERS OF THE SNAKE by Sasha Nanua and Sarena Nanua

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

HOW TO SAVE A QUEENDOM
by Jessica Lawson
Publication: April 20, 2021
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books
for Young Readers
Genre: Children’s Fiction / Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★★

Life’s never been kind to twelve-year-old Stub. Orphaned and left in the care of the cruel Matron Tratte, Stub’s learned that the best way to keep the peace is to do as she’s told. No matter that she’s bullied and that her only friend is her pet chicken, Peck, Stub’s accepted the fact that her life just isn’t made for adventure. Then she finds a tiny wizard in her pocket.

Orlen, the royal wizard to Maradon’s queen, is magically bound to Stub. And it’s up to her to ferry Orlen back to Maradon Cross, the country’s capital, or else the delicate peace of the queendom will crumble under the power of an evil wizard queen. Suddenly Stub’s unexciting life is chock-full of adventure. But how can one orphan girl possibly save the entire queendom?



Queendom!
Now, it’s about time Webster’s Dictionary include the word.

People would think that after all the hardships and injustices Stub endured from Matron Tratte, she would be bitter and angry. Instead, Stub is clever, intuitive, and compassionate. This adventure brought out all her best, and the side characters were just the encouragement she needed. It’s such an inspiration for children.

I love this world that Jessica Lawson created. It has all the elements a children's fantasy should have –grand adventure, magic, courage, and friendship. I love the family structures, too. The book shows how compassion may gain friends. And turn friends into a family. Also, this shows that a little encouragement can lead to great victories.

I highly recommend HOW TO SAVE A QUEENDOM!


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About the Author:


Jessica Lawson enjoys living in Pennsylvania, where she and her family spend weekend hours hanging at the local orchard, pretending to be on cooking shows, building with magnet blocks and Legos, making up new holidays, and reading plenty of books. She likes pizza. A lot. Photo courtesy of author.





*Thanks to Simon & Schuster for the printed copy in exchange for this unbiased review.
*This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.


Book Review | HOW TO SAVE A QUEENDOM by Jessica Lawson

Friday, June 11, 2021

The sky opens up... I hear them laugh.
They don’t feel the sadness in the air.
They don’t feel the danger coming, riding in on the wind.


BECOMING LEIDAH by Michelle Grierson
Publication: April 13, 2021
Publisher: Simon & Schuster CA
Genre: Literary Fiction / Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★★

In the hinterlands of old Norway, Leidah Pietersdatter is born blue-skinned, with webbed hands and feet. Upon every turn of season, her mother, Maeva, worries as her daughter’s peculiarities blossom—inside the root of the tiny child, a strange power is taking hold.

Maeva tries to hide the girl from the suspicious townsfolk of the austere village of Ørken, just as she conceals her own magical ancestry from her daughter. And Maeva’s adoring husband, Pieter, wants nothing more than for his new family to be accepted by all. But unlike Pieter, who is blinded by love, Maeva is aware that the villagers, who profess a rigid faith to the new God and claim to have abandoned the old ways, are watching for any sign of transgression—and are eager to pounce and punish.

Following both mother and daughter from the shadows and through time, an inquisitive shapeshifter waits for the Fates to spin their web, and for Maeva to finally reclaim who she once was. And as Maeva’s elusive past begins to beckon, she realizes that she must help her daughter navigate and control her own singular birthright if the child is to survive the human world.

But the protective love Pieter has for his family is threatening the secure life they have slowly built and increasingly becoming a tragic obstacle. Witnessing this, Maeva comes to a drastic conclusion: she must make Leidah promise to keep a secret from Pieter—a perilous one that may eventually free them all.



This Canadian debut is set in nineteenth-century Norway, where the marriage of time and magic brought forth uninhibited wonder.

Maeva and Pieter struggle to live in peace and acceptance, but the villagers of Ørken are far from welcoming. If any, they are always suspicious of new and eccentric folks, and Maeva’s elfen looks are a stark reminder of the old ways. Of magic. These made raising Leidah, their blue-skinned daughter, among these people even more difficult.

Norse Mythology has this defined appeal that tickles the curiosity, and Michelle Grierson made this an even more fascinating read with her lyrical narration and distinct sense of wonder. Readers will question the villagers’ spite, Pieter’s blind belief, Maeva’s secret, and Leidah’s naïveté. There's danger, betrayal, anticipation, and redemption. It feels like every page is a discovery. The book is told in three parts, separated by time, which unfolds into a realm of timeless magic.

BECOMING LEIDAH is recommended for those who love a good blend of history and mythology.


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About the Author:

Michelle Grierson is a teacher, writer, dancer, painter, habitual traveller, voracious reader, and enthusiastic mom, who has spent a lifetime chasing and channelling ancestral ghosts through her writing, art, and choreography. A firm believer in blood memory, she has been researching her Norwegian and Celtic ancestry for years, and that inspired her debut novel, Becoming Leidah. Most days Michelle can be found exploring the woods near her southwestern Ontario home with her son, Taras, and their dogs, Tulla and Bijou. Photograph by @ Cassie McReavy.




*Thanks to Simon & Schuster CA for the egalley in exchange for this unbiased review.
*This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.




Book Review | BECOMING LEIDAH by Michelle Grierson

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

About the Book:

DEADLY ODDS 4.0 by Allen Wyler
Publication: May 4, 2021
Publisher: Stairway Press
In this fourth adventure in the DEADLY ODDS cyberthriller series, reformed hacker Arnold Gold is plunged into a race against time when he’s hired by a prestigious Seattle law firm to resolve a ransomware attack that threatens its very existence. But from the start, Arnold has ill-defined misgivings about his secretive, control-freak client, and begins to suspect he’s being used to cover up an inside job. But by who? And how far would the thief go to stay in the shadows?

The more he investigates, the more Arnold must walk a fine line between preserving his professional reputation and his personal honor. Especially when it becomes clear that the thief is willing to move up to murder—and Arnold Gold is in the crosshairs.


More about Deadly Odds 4.0.






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About the Author:

Allen Wyler is a neurosurgeon who left practice in 2002 to be Medical Director for a medical technology start-up, Northstar Neuroscience, which went public (NSTR) in 2006. Leveraging a love for thrillers since the early ‘70s, Wyler began writing fiction and published his first book in 2005. At the end of 2007 he retired to devote full time to writing. He served as Vice President of the International Thriller Writers organization for several years and has been nominated twice for a Thriller Award. He lives in Seattle with his wife.



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Wednesday Spotlight | DEADLY ODDS 4.0 by Allen Wyler

About the Book:

BOGUS by Jill Ganger
Publication: February 21, 2021
Publisher: Tablo
BOGUS, by Jill Ganger, is a fascinating medical thriller. The plot is fast-paced and captivating from start to finish. There’s an element of realism that engages the reader in the life of the main character and the lives of those around him.

The main character’s adventures, and a winding plot show his mental regression. An undetectable additive, designed to kill, is placed inside of capsules of a generic prescription drug.

An undetectable additive, designed to kill, is placed inside of capsules of a generic prescription drug.

As the circle tightens around him, he is caught, tried, and imprisoned. Only then will we see how his mind perceives the world and especially the world that he has created.


More about Bogus.





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About the Author:

Jill Ganger is over 75 years young, retired from the computer industry, and lives in Naples, Florida. She has two adult children, 4 grandchildren, and a small dog. Being a physical fitness enthusiast, a personal trainer, and a writer keep her active and busy.

After listening to a lecture by a retired pharmacist about generic drugs, she began to write BOGUS.

Jill Ganger was a National Powerlifting Champion in 1979 in the 97 lb weight class. She was California State Champion for 4 years. She trained as a hobby for many years and became a personal trainer so that she could apply her practical knowledge of physical fitness to active people between the ages of 50 and 70.



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Wednesday Spotlight | BOGUS by Jill Ganger

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

About the Book:
LYLA'S THERAPY: A SHORT STORY
by Christopher James Buxton
Publication: April 14th, 2021
Publisher: CB ESCAPE NOVELS




Lyla’s therapy sessions have begun, and it’s too late to turn back……...

Her mind commands answers. Why is she here?

To move forward and escape her psychological nightmare – the true problems in her life must be identified…...

Join Lyla’s Therapy sessions and step into her mind. Come on in and hear her story, but be warned you will not be able to leave until she has answers. Told by Lyla herself, she is ready to disclose all to her psychiatrist - in return for his help. A last attempt to heal her soul.

Meeting the love of her life Peter seemed the perfect escape. After whisking her away from the small town of Westbreak, to an impressive home in the suburbs of the city - everything was perfect.

Four years later and their happiness have disintegrated. Morphed into a psychological battel between them both!

She does not believe anything he says, as that would mean strange chanting wasn’t coming from the basement - in the middle of the night! In between the arguments and silence, she knows there is something else at play. Unable to understand what Peter is really doing, and what his true reason for lying is – let alone the hurtful accusations….

For Lyla, these therapy sessions are critical for her survival...

Piercingly unnerving suspense psychological fiction, Lyla’s Therapy will wrap its arms around you, and put your anxiety on alert, before racing your pulse to the end of this tense thriller begging to be unraveled.


More about Lyla’s Therapy.



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About the Author:

Christopher James Buxton is a UK based new indie author, with his debut Sci-Fi Thriller Fantasy novel Alternate.

He graduated from college with a building studies qualification and has worked as a draughts person and design technician in the construction industry since. He enjoys film, reading creative stories, and music. He has been reading novels for a few years and finds writing in his spare time, is the perfect doze of escapism from the realities of everyday life.



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Wednesday Spotlight | LYLA'S THERAPY: A SHORT STORY by Christopher James Buxton

About the Book:

THE FAME GAME by Elizabeth Bell
Publication: April 22,, 2021
Publisher: Elizabeth Bell
What if your number one fan turned the world against you?

Cole Stevens is a famous actor on the rise.

Warren Templeton is his number one fan – obsessive to the point of borderline stalking.

When Cole rejects Warren’s advances, Warren fabricates a story which soon becomes a public scandal – and it seems the entire nation has turned against Cole.

As Warren fully embraces the limelight that once fell upon Cole, the disgraced actor is left to question Warren’s motives… Because is he truly a stranger?

The Talented Mr. Ripley meets Black Mirror: The Fame Game is a tale of trending twitter hashtags, the fragility of reputation, and the notion of fame in an age where social media has the final say.




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About the Author:

Elizabeth Bell has been writing stories since the second grade. At the age of fourteen, she chose a pen name and vowed to become a published author. That same year, she began the Lazare Family Saga. It took her a couple decades to get it right. New generations kept demanding attention, and the saga became four epic historical novels.

After earning her MFA in Creative Writing at George Mason University, Elizabeth realized she would have to return her two hundred library books. Instead, she cleverly found a job in the university library. She works there to this day.

Elizabeth is an active member of the Historical Novel Society, and she loves chatting with fellow readers, writers, and history buffs. Visit her at elizabethbellauthor.com



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Wednesday Spotlight | THE FAME GAME by Elizabeth Bell

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

About the Book:
ECCLESIA'S TABLE by Mason S. Haynie
Publication: March 28, 2021
Publisher: Mason S. Haynie

The world is a wasteland. It always has been. Moshe, Amaru, and Reenu have never known anything other than the desert wasteland that raised them. When the rumor arises that something other than barren landscape could be out there, the three of them make haste for an abundant future. Upon arrival at this established society, the group quickly learns how and how not to get along amidst group dynamics and seemingly sinister mystery. The trials and social politics that Moshe, Amaru, and Reenu face teach them that some rules are useful and some are meant to be broken. Have a seat at Ecclesia's Table.

More about Ecclesia's Table.








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About the Author:

Hello reader! Hope you're enjoying my dystopian satire novel: Ecclesia's Table! Although it's my only my debut, I've been involved with writing my whole life. I've worked as a writing coach, I regularly contribute to an online music publication (jesusfreakhideout.com), and I maintain a personal blog (masonhaynie.wordpress.com) that explores culture, theology, and my own life events. Outside of writing, I enjoy being a part of the creative process, be it through vocal/instrumental performance, audio production, or video editing. I'm currently 25 years old and living with my wife Kimberly in Southern California.



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Wednesday Spotlight | ECCLESIA'S TABLE by Mason S. Haynie

About the Book:

RESURRECTION by Rob Lockett
Publication: March 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Amazon Kindle
In the beginning there was Adam.... A world-weary global backpacker working as a bartender in Southern England; his life starts to take a series of downward turns and his thoughts start to become dark, very dark. Supernatural forces are circling Adam and he makes a deal that will see him play host to one of the most demonic antagonists to grace the pages of History. His world is quickly overtaken as he bears witness to a series of encounters that will set off a chain of terrifying events in both the UK and the USA. Adam quickly learns the terrifying ease in which humanity can ultimately be corrupted.

A new leader rises in a religious cult/ militia that have waged war against a foreign enemy. Is this the same man?

More about Resurrection.





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About the Author:

Rob is a full-time English Teacher who has spent the last 9 years inspiring students to craft sophisticated stories and working on a novel in his spare time. He is an aspiring author who has had short stories published in Opus magazine, written plays and productions that have been performed at Newcastle Civic Theatre and in schools in western NSW. He currently lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife Chivonne and 1 year old daughter, Harper after having previously lived in Mudgee, Dubbo and Broken Hill.

Resurrection he began writing while living and working in a pub outside Reading in 2008 and there are elements of his life experiences in the work until the point that all plummets into chaos and into the depths of a supernatural downfall/political thriller.

Resurrection is his first novel and has had excerpts featured on Wattpad, gaining 2,500 views and winning third place in the ACE awards in 2019. Lockett has a devout fanbase on Wattpad and looks to extend this into a feature blog and across Twitter. Authors that have inspired his writing style: Chuck Paluhniuk, Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Christopher Marlowe and Herman Hesse.



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Wednesday Spotlight | RESURRECTION by Rob Lockett

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

WITCHES STEEPED IN GOLD
Ciannon Smart
Publication: April 20, 2021
Publisher: HarperCollins CA,
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★★


Divided by their order. United by their vengeance.

Iraya has spent her life in a cell, but every day brings her closer to freedom - and vengeance.

Jazmyne is the Queen’s daughter, but unlike her sister before her, she has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power.

Sworn enemies, these two witches enter a precarious alliance to take down a mutual threat. But power is intoxicating, revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain - except the lengths they will go to win this game.




Drenched in politics, social injustices, and ancestral magic, WITCHES STEEPED IN GOLD is a broad and complex narrative. This Jamaican-inspired fantasy is told in turns between two main characters. Jazmyne Cariot is an Alumbrar witch and successor to Doyenne Judair Cariot of the island Aiyca. Driven by her desire to bring back justice to her people, Jazmyne is one of the key minds leading a rebellion to overthrow her mother. Iraya Adair is an Obeah witch, rightful heir to the Aiycan throne, fueled by her newly awakened naevus and desire to avenge her family. Reluctantly, these two witches dared the Shook Bargain to eradicate their shared enemy.

Ciannon Smart created a world where magical power is a birthright, while deception and betrayal are must-learn skills. The large volume of details slowed the pace down, allowing the reader to absorb the intents and atmosphere of the storytelling. The distortion of good and evil towards the end of the narrative stretches the notion that good intentions can very well be poison. And while the plot is focused on the characters’ development and magical system, both fully realized and vivid, Smart’s intention to enlighten readers on Jamaican culture and feminism is not lost.

WITCHES STEEPED IN GOLD is a promising opening for an intense fantasy series. This is recommended for readers who enjoy rich world-building and unpredictable characters.


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About the Author:


Of Jamaican heritage, Ciannon Smart grew up in a small town in the south-east of England. As the only daughter in a house full of boisterous sons, she developed a voracious appetite for reading from an early age, preferring anarchy in stories rather than real life. In YA she loves her heroines exactly as she loves her villains: wilful, wily, and unpredictable. When not writing, Ciannon can be found reading, painting, or taking the long way home to listen to a good song more than once.




*Thanks to HarperCollins for the galley in exchange for this unbiased review.
*This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.


Book Review | WITCHES STEEPED IN GOLD by Ciannon Smart