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review 2016-11-18 17:47
An Improvement: The Alliance of Isian | Review
The Alliance of Isian: The Isian Series, Book 2 - Serena Clarke,Carolyn Kashner,Red Mountain Shadows Publishing

A pleasant, clean, YA/NA fantasy romance.

 

War is coming and all the kingdoms must choose a side. Isian decides to make an alliance with their long-time enemies in order to defeat a common enemy. So Isian sends a proposal, offering their daughter to the prince, in order to ensure an alliance. Princess Gabrielle and her new husband, Prince Alec must learn to work together and trust each other in order to triumph in the approaching war. With a mysterious beast attacking the kingdom, their lives in danger, and overcoming their vast cultural differences, will love grow despite their trials?

 

Buy Now | +Goodreads

Disclosure: GMB uses affiliate links, clicking and making a purchase may result in a small commission for me.


Source: I received this book for free from the publisher. My opinions are my own.

 

BOOK DETAILS:

The Alliance of Isian by Serena Clarke, read by Carolyn Kashner, published by Red Mountain Shadows (2016) / Length: 7 hrs 30 min

 

SERIES INFO:

This is Book #2 of 3 in the "Isian" series, but could easily be read as a standalone. Number 3 is not yet available on audio.

 

SUMMARY:

In my review for Book #1, I wrote how that book didn't really appeal to me until the final third of the story. Thankfully, this book was more enjoyable almost from the start. I still feel that there isn't anything outstanding here, and that the dialog often seems too contemporary, but it was a sweet fantasy romance.

 

I have tagged the book with diversity, as Gabrielle and her family are POC and their country has different customs & culture.

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review 2016-11-12 16:29
When Your Sanctuary is Threatened: Tris's Book | Review
Tris's Book: Circle of Magic, Book 2 - Tamora Pierce,Tamora Pierce,the Full Cast Family

This MG Fantasy doesn't shrink from the truth about Pirates.

 

Earthquake damage leaves Winding Circle vulnerable to pirate attack, so everyone - including the young mages-in-training Tris, Briar, Daja, and Sandry - is working to strengthen the community's defenses. When Tris's cousin Aymery comes to visit, he advises the "weather witch" to return to the family that exiled her, but she doesn't wish to leave her friends to face the threat without her.

As the onslaught begins, two things become terribly clear: The pirates have a powerful new weapon, and they have an accomplice within Winding Circle. But the attackers have failed to reckon with the fury of a young mage betrayed once too often and her very stubborn, very loyal friends.

 

Buy Now | +Goodreads

Disclosure: GMB uses affiliate links, clicking and making a purchase may result in a small commission for me.


 

BOOK DETAILS:

Tris's Book by Tamora Pierce, read & published by Full Cast Audio (2004) / Length: 5 hrs 31 min

 

SERIES INFO:

This is Book #2 of 4 in the original "Circle of Magic" series, all of which are available on audio. There are also additional books (only some of which are on audio) with the same characters.

 

**This review may contain spoilers for the previous book.**

 

SUMMARY:

One of the things I like best about this series is the way that the children work with & along side their adult mentors as well as together. That really starts to be solidified in this book as they make both good and bad choices in that regard.

 

Another strong point of the series is the message that choices/actions have consequences. Tris & the others continue to deal with the emotional results of the ones they make in this book for many years.

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review 2016-10-25 16:41
Wagner meets... The Sleeping Beauty | Review
The Sleeping Beauty: Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms, Book 5 - Mercedes Lackey,Gabra Zackman,Audible Studios

This Adult Fantasy, which mixes various fairytales with "The Ring Cycle," is one of Lackey's better 500 Kingdoms novels.

 

Heavy is the head--and the eyelids--of the princess who wears the crown...In Rosamund's realm, happiness hinges on a few simple beliefs: For every princess there's a prince. The king has ultimate power. Stepmothers should never be trusted. And bad things come to those who break with Tradition....

 

But when Rosa is pursued by a murderous huntsman and then captured by dwarves, her beliefs go up in smoke. Determined to escape and save her kingdom from imminent invasion, she agrees to become the guinea pig in one of her stepmother's risky incantations--thus falling into a deep, deep sleep.

 

When awakened by a touchy-feely stranger, Rosa must choose between Tradition and her future...between a host of eligible princes and a handsome, fair-haired outsider. And learn the difference between being a princess and ruling as a queen.

 

The moral of the story? Sometimes a princess has to create her own happy endings....

 

Buy Now | +Goodreads

Disclosure: GMB uses affiliate links, clicking and making a purchase may result in a small commission for me.


BOOK DETAILS:

The Sleeping Beauty by Mercedes Lackey, read by Gabra Zackman, published by Audible Studios (2013) / Length: 11 hrs 5 min

 

SERIES INFO:

This is Book #5 of 6 in the "Five Hundred Kingdoms" series. These books can easily be read as standalones.

 

SUMMARY:

Although I feel that Ms Lackey's newer books lack the narrative tightness & emotional punch of her earlier work, this one is the one I like the most. I enjoy the characters, even the disreputable ones, and find more of the story to be interesting.

 

Note: it is not necessary to be familiar with "The Ring Cycle" at all. Ms. Lackey does an excellent job of presenting the slightly altered details she has based this on.

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review 2016-10-11 15:40
Nice & Not so Nice: No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished | Review
No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished: Heartstrikers, Book 3 - Audible Studios,Vikas Adam,Rachel Aaron

Two wonderful protagonists & a slow burn romance make this NA Fantasy a real pleasure.

 

When Julius overthrew his mother and took control of his clan, he thought he was doing right by everyone. But sharing power isn’t part of any proper dragon’s vocabulary, and with one seat still open on the new ruling Council, all of Heartstriker is ready to do whatever it takes to get their claws on it, including killing the Nice Dragon who got them into this mess in the first place.

 

To keep his clan together and his skin intact, Julius is going to have to find a way to make his bloodthirsty siblings play fair. But there’s more going on in Heartstriker Mountain than politics. Every family has its secrets, but the skeletons in Bethesda’s closet are dragon sized, and with Algonquin’s war looming over them all, breaking his clan wide open might just be the only hope Julius has of saving it.

 

Buy Now | +Goodreads

Disclosure: GMB uses affiliate links, clicking and making a purchase may result in a small commission for me.


Source: I received this book free in return from Audible. My opinions are my own.

 

BOOK DETAILS:

No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished by Rachel Aaron, read by Vikas Adam, published by Audible Studios (2016) / Length: 18 hrs 50 min

 

SERIES INFO:

This is Book #3 in the "Heartstrikers" series. The author confirmed on Twitter that there will be 2 more books (for a total of 5) and that she hopes to publish them both in 2017.

 

**This review may contain minor spoilers for the previous books.**

 

SUMMARY:

You really should be reading this series. Each book builds the story and the characters further. So much happens in this book; yet I don't want to spoil anything, so this review won't have a lot of details.

 

CHARACTERS:

Julius: Although I don't always agree with his decisions, I am very impressed by how much he has grown. By the end of this book he knows who he is, what he wants, and what he is willing to do to get it. And he is not ashamed of any of it.

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review 2016-10-06 07:01
Don't Mess with the Snowflake: Blood Prophecy | Review
Blood Prophecy: Witch Fairy, Book 2 - Bonnie Lamer,Bonnie Lamer,Emily Durante

Another YA Contemporary Fantasy sequel that I liked better than its predecessor.

 

The Fairy mercenaries may be back in their own realm, but the Witches still want Xandra dead. Fearing an ancient prophecy, the Witches are determined to keep Xandra from destroying the world. Still new to her magical powers, she must learn to use her Witch magic in order to protect herself and those she loves.

 

Now, if only she can get her magic to cooperate. Once again, Xandra is tasked with determining who is friend and who is foe as she faces this new threat. Not to mention digging around in the family skeleton closet to find out what else she's never been told. In the end, will she be powerful enough to take on the eight most powerful Witches in the world?

 

Buy Now | +Goodreads

Disclosure: GMB uses affiliate links, clicking and making a purchase may result in a small commission for me.


Source: I purchased the book myself from Audible. It is available exclusively from them.

 

BOOK DETAILS:

Blood Prophecy by Bonnie Lamer, read by Emily Durante, published 2014 / Length: 6 hrs 4 min

 

SERIES INFO:

This is Book #2 is the (very long) "Witch Fairy" series. So far, the first 4 are available on audio, and there are indications that more are coming.

 

**This review contains spoilers for the previous book.**

 

SUMMARY:

I liked this one more than the first. There is more going one & more people involved. Plus the initial antagonism between the original characters is mostly resolved.

 

CHARACTERS:

Xandra: We know from the start that she's a special snowflake with a prophecy about her. I like that her unique heritage continues to cause as many problems (magic/power wise) as it solves. (Although I do think that things are sometimes resolved a bit too easily, and that the others should be allowed to participate more.) She continues to be more than a bit of a smart-alec.

 

Kallen: There are novellas that tell each story from his POV. I quite liked the one for Book #1, which is the only one I've read so far; and which actually improved my rating of the original book. The problem (for me) is that they aren't available on audio. So I personally wish the material was simply integrated into the main books.

 

Without the information in that book, he is a very typical YA hero - tall, gorgeous, powerful, adoring. With it, he is much more interesting. I like that he takes her emotional temperature, and defends her father.

 

Xandra & Kallen: They really still barely know each other (and come from very different backgrounds), so they naturally have misunderstandings of various magnitude throughout the book. I like that, typical teenage response aside, they always get around to talking about it.

 

It is interesting to watch Xandra & her parents try to find a new dynamic. She is still only 17, but has become very powerful. And their foolish choice to keep her in the dark about her heritage still stands between them somewhat. I really like her (human, ghost) Dad.

 

WORLDBUILDING:

Like the first book, this takes place almost entirely on the mountain where Xandra was raised. The first one introduced witches & fairies, this book eventually adds a third group (I won't say who, to avoid spoilers).

 

We learn quite a bit more about the witches government here. And also more about their kinds of magic. Note: I was thinking that the poetry of the witch spells was kind of lame, when Xandra called out that very thing.

 

PLOT:

This book beginning the next morning after the previous one ended. The beginning did a good job of getting you up to speed (Xandra even says, "long story short")

 

The ending resolves the current problem completely, but then throws in a new element.

 

HIGHLIGHTS / CAUTIONS:

  • Kallen is safe from one of her spells (and the reason).
  • Zack (her little brother). I wish he was in it more.
  • Xandra fit the punishment to the crime (and recognized that there's a legitimate need for some of her opponents).

 

I COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT: I still seriously question the wisdom of sleeping together when you don't intend to have sex. (This is especially true when a lapse in control would mean you were automatically married, and you aren't ready for that. Note: Xandra specially expresses that she thinks the whole sex = marriage thing is out dated.)

 

OTHER CAUTIONSCaution: There is some heavy making out.

 

NARRATION:

Character voices differentiated = Yes / Opposite sex voices acceptable = Yes. The grandfather sounds gruff and very grandpa-ish to me / Accents = She does a good "bad British accent" / Phrasing, Pacing & Pronunciation = Good / Emoting = Good / Speed = Good. My usual 1.25 speed is a bit fast

 

BOOK DETAILS:

Blood Prophecy (Witch Fairy #2) by Bonnie Lamer, read by Emily Durante, published 2014 / Length: 6 hrs 4 min Buy Now | +Goodreads

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