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review 2018-05-21 18:05
Two sisters challenge the patriarchy in this brutal princess ‘fairytale’; ‘Grace and Fury’ is as violent as it is beautiful
Grace and Fury - Tracy Banghart

I usually have a ‘thing’ about books with images of people on the cover (is that strange?), so when I first saw ‘Grace and Fury’ with the striking, and beautiful, photo of the two girls, who are the two main characters in the book - Serina (Grace) and Nomi (Fury) - I was a bit flummoxed. I’d heard good things, PLUS the caveat is that we only see half of their faces. I could continue!

 

‘Grace and Fury’ also turned out to not be your usual ‘princess’ tale, even though YA fantasy is inundated with them, and that was my worry going in. Quite quickly, the story of Serina and Nomi was turned upside down. Serina and Nomi live in a world where women basically have no rights, and they have few choices as to what they are going to do with their lives. Serina has spent her short life being groomed to become a ‘Grace’, basically a submissive concubine for the Heir to the throne. Nomi, her sister, smarter and more rebellious, is Serina’s handmaiden, and makes the mistake one day of being caught ‘reading’ while they’re at the royal palace, but Serina takes the fall for this, and is exiled to Mount Ruin as punishment, and Nomi remains as one of the chosen Graces; they’re both suddenly severely out of their element.

 

What Serina finds though, is that the women on Mount Ruin are used for, is basically entertainment for the guards there, fighting to their deaths like gladiators. And Nomi is trapped inside a life she didn’t want, inside the palace, where although she may not have to fight for her food, instead she’s ‘competing’ for a place at the side of the Heir, something she never wanted in the first place. She is in an environment where there are few people around her, and deception by those close to her feels likely in every conversation she has. They are both life sentences that they see no immediate way out of.

 

Both sisters try and hatch plans to escape and get to each other, and they don’t know who to trust, and what’s fascinating about this novel is seeing their individual growth and self-discovery, particularly Serina’s, as they are locked inside their individual new inescapable (and very lonely) hells. The world that is created by author Tracy Banghart is particularly brutal and some of the scenes that are written on the island of Mount Ruin are especially bloody and violent; the fighting that occurs between the women is at-once survivalist but forced by the guards, and the descriptions of it are very detailed. This book certainly isn’t your usual ‘princess in the palace fairytale’.

 

We are left with a grand cliffhanger and I’m fascinated to know what happens next, especially since the ‘supporting’ characters played a big part in creating a lot of intrigue and interesting storylines. ‘Grace and Fury’ surprised me and gave me a new ferocious, if not bloody, wake-up call to the princess fairytale; these two sisters are saying a big fat ‘NO’ to the patriarchy in this one and I hope it has as strong a voice in the sequel.

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/32605766-grace-and-fury
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review 2018-05-17 13:00
BLOG TOUR REVIEW: 'The Venerate Order' by Troy Durant
The Venerate Order - Troy Durant

I'm host on a blog tour for another book, this time it has already had its release date back on Feb 26th of this year, and while this is not the usual sort of book for me to read or review, I accepted it on a whim. Thank you to Rock Star Book Tours for including me on this blog tour. Make sure to enter the giveaway for a copy of the book after you have read my post and review!

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, TROY DURANT

 

 

 

Troy Dukart is the author of the Venerate Saga (The Venerate Order, The Venerate Redemption, sequels to follow). Troy grew up outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota: Twin Cities. Troy is recognized by Toastmasters International as an Advanced Communicator Bronze and Advanced Leader Bronze. He's lived in Japan as well as California. He loves to travel. Make sure to stop by his website and sign-up for the newsletter to stay in the know!

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | YouTube | Instagram

 

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Title: THE VENERATE ORDER

Author: Troy Dukart

Pub. Date: February 26, 2018

Publisher: Creativia

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 217

Find it and BUY it: Goodreads, Amazon

 

Synopsis:

Strafe Rocknus has suffered hard losses in his life, but now things are looking up for the college graduate.

He has a sizzling girlfriend, good friends and a bright career ahead of him. But one day, Strafe awakes in a mysterious cavern, discovers an ancient artifact, and unwittingly ignites a war that spans two worlds: his own, and one he never knew existed.

With the abyss of the unknown before him, Strafe enters the swirling darkness. Desperate, he must navigate a new and hostile world on the brink of catastrophe, and learn the truth of who he is, while facing a darkness with the power to destroy everything Strafe has ever cared about.

Soon, he will discover that his greatest strength comes from those he fights for.

 

MY REVIEW:

 

The craziest thing about reviewing a book you know nothing about beforehand is all you are going on is a book cover, the blurb on the back, and you’ve heard absolutely no talk about it. Since I decided to review ‘The Venerate Order’ I went into it just a bit like that: just seeing some bright colorful artwork for a cover, and going from there. It turns out that the insides are very colorful too.

 

From the very beginning, the reader is plunged into the (pretty) near future of 2088 ‘New Santa Barbara’, a part of California that has been broken off from the mainland, due to a large seismic crack. This probably isn’t that far-fetched (every time I read something like this, it seems totally plausible). The main character Strafe has recently graduated with his pilot’s license, and is a budding engineer, and is keen on entering the city contest that seeks to find a way to bridge the gap between the city and the other cities around them, across the canyons created by the seismic shifts.

 

This is where Strafe, with the help of his pal Gain, and his girlfriend Yessa, come to catapult our main character across the divide, and essentially into a whole new world and role for himself. When he discovers an ancient artifact in a cave, Strafe couldn’t possibly realize that this would mean the beginning of an adventure where a secret organization would be on his tail, his girlfriend would be kidnapped, or that he would find himself on another planet.

Going along with the story in this book meant leaving absolutely all my disbelief at the ‘door’/portal. I immediately (and quite obviously) felt in love with Strafe’s large wolf/spirit animal called Brutus, who I found out is named after a dog that author Troy Durant had for 14 years. And right away Strafe is forced into fighting in a bloody battle.

All the characters and the story in general are colorful and fantastical, not just the giant talking dog. The main characters are all Guardians, Protectors of the World, representing the Power of Love, Joy, Elation, Passion, Pride, (it made me think just a little bit of something like Power Rangers, with their different colors) including my favorite Brutus. Strafe is an absolutely likable antagonist, ready for a challenge, and loyal to his friends, but there are some deeper levels to the writing of the book.

Durant shows from his writing how much he has been influenced by his own reading and learning; he has been been influenced heavily by various cultures from around the world (Asian, Middle Eastern, European), and also has said that he researched extensively about Samurai and ninja histories for the character of Zon and weaponry. There is also an obvious appreciation for ancient history and myth, and that was one of my favorite things about reading this.

 

What strikes me too about VO is how visual it is, and so when I think on it, and maybe this is because it’s high fantasy, the cover art, or my production background, I can’t help but see this as some kind of animated film. The fight scenes are particularly vivid and descriptive. I also happen to know that Troy is a ‘Final Fantasy’ gaming fan so I can see how that inspiration led him here! Beyond this book there are several more installments in the ‘Venerate Order’ saga; this one ends with a ‘continued in part 2’, so the wild adventures of Strafe, Taleri, and everyone else don’t stop here!
It’s a really wild ride!

 

 

And here's the GIVEAWAY!!

 

3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE VENERATE ORDER, US Only.

 

You can enter through *THIS LINK*!!! GOOD LUCK!

 

 

There are some more blogs on the book tour; the full schedule can be found at this link here: VENERATE ORDER BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE - more reviews, interviews, and more!

 

You can also check out what other book tours are coming up and find lots of other book reviews on the Rock Star Book Tour site!!

Thanks for stopping by again, and checking out one of my reviews! Happy reading!

 

 

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/38921657-the-venerate-order
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review 2018-05-16 02:11
Fantasy epic filled with forbidden magic, monsters, and cleverly crafted subplots; one of my favorites of the year so far!
Onyx and Ivory - Mindee Arnett

Before I fully launch into my review (which I've saved up for release day), I have to first say how totally excited I am that this book is going to finally going out into the world. I got to be on the ‘Street Team’, one of the 'Relay Riders', for 'Onyx and Ivory', which meant I helped get the word out for it on social media. BUT that does not play into my review of the book.

 

Happily though, I fell in love with Mindee Arnett's book. I've not read her other books but I have a feeling she is putting something different out here and pouring something of herself into this one. O&I is an epic fantasy that started off (I believe) as a germ of an idea for Mindee some 6 years ago now, and it became a novel that opens up a world of dark monsters, forbidden magic, and brings us characters that feel complex and vibrant.

The main character of the novel is Kate, otherwise known as ‘Traitor Kate’, named as such for her father’s actions, for trying to assassinate the high king of Rime many years ago. Her father had been master of horse to the king, but he was executed for his crime, one that Kate can’t believe he would have knowingly committed.
Now she hides the gift of wilder magic that allows her to touch the minds of animals that makes her so in tune with horses as her father was, but wilder magic is forbidden and punishable by death. Because of her father’s treachery, she has been relegated to being a Relay rider for Farhold, the imperial courier service, but there are these nasty monsters out there called ‘nightdrakes’ (deadly flightless dragons), that make her job intensely dangerous, and soon these drakes are attacking in the daylight, massacring whole caravans of people.

 

Now, beyond this basic plot of Kate and her forbidden magic, and the drakes, as a reader you are quickly immersed in a world where there is a lot going on. This is a book that is not fast-paced but it is totally absorbing: when I took my time to read it, I felt like I was settling in to fully entrench myself in the world of several sub-plots that weave together and a number of fascinating characters. They are key to enjoying this book.
To name some, there’s Corwin (Kate’s first love, and heir to the throne), Signe (her spunky best friend), Edwin (Corwin’s nasty brother and competition for the crown), and Bonner (long-time friend who knows her magical secret). Kate reunites with her first love Corwin, after saving him from an attack by drakes, and she and her counterparts must embark on a full-on quest to not only understand who tried to kill the king, but also who is controlling the daydrakes. Corwin must also prove he is more worthy to be the heir to the throne than his brother. Something that I particularly think that is important for a novel of this length, is that the characters felt fully realized and fleshed-out, so much so that I could imagine them all throughout the book like companions. While there seem to be a number of subplots going on in the book, Arnett proves she is a skilled writer because I never felt lost. When one part of the story wasn’t being written about, it was fine to just leave it for a while, and continue with another part, and then go back to the other one. I don’t want to say too much about the plot lines of the book because it is jam-packed, but somehow Mindee has threaded them all together, and they’ve culminated in an ending that begs for another epic book. As long as O&I is, I didn’t want the journey and the book to end!

 

There is so much great imagery and vivid world-building woven into the book, such as the different types of magic, the descriptions of clothing, and landscape; on Mindee Arnett’s Website, there is some beautiful artwork and images to represent the Land of Rime, maps that show political regions, all the magic descriptions, and way back to her original conceptual beginnings for the book; it’s all there if you want to see it in detail.

 

I highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for a fantasy they can really dig into, not rush through; there’s action, complex subplots, strong friendships, magic AND monsters(!), depictions of females as positive, independent characters, and there’s also the questioning of judgement of others/hypocrisy with respect to the laws regarding use of magic. There may seem to be, at first glance, the usual tropes of ‘fighting for the throne’, and ‘childhood friend likes girl now she’s grown up’, but I didn’t feel like the book was covering old ground, particularly as I got further and further into it.

‘Onyx and Ivory’ really is an amazing book, and it’s already on my ‘best-of’ list for 2018. I definitely want to be there for the Relay Ride for Book 2!

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review 2018-04-28 00:42
The Last Blog Post
Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell

I have recently finished Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.  Unfortunately, I did not enjoy the book as much as I would have hoped.  Contrary to this statement, a few passages did stand out to me.  One of such passages is a line on page 299 depicting Park's emotional state: "Park stayed awake for another hour or so, fueled by Coke and hurt feelings."  This sentence really helped me picture the loss Park was experiencing.  Without giving away too many details, I will say that many of my predictions were correct for this book, and that the quote is from a part of the novel where my predictions were proven correct.  

 

An interesting situation I have found myself in is that while blogging on this site, I have been able to find many books that I would love to read.  While scrolling through my dashboard, I have come across multiple book reviews for interesting books.  Although I did not expect to find many books on this site, I accept the experience wholeheartedly, and recommend it to anyone in search of a good book.

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review 2018-04-27 11:21
Lucky In Love Kasie West
Lucky in Love - Kasie West

Go To Bridget Blogs Books For My Thoughts.....(opens in new window/tab)

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