Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Fall of Thrones and Thorns by Jennifer Ellision

The Fall of Thrones and Thorns
Threats of Sky and Sea, #3
By:  Jennifer Ellision
Publish Date:  September 27, 2016
Genre:  Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages:  234 Print
Source:  Xpresso Book Tours

War hurtles in, a typhoon over the sea.

After Bree’s life was torn apart, Nereidium had represented a haven to her. A place that—if she could save it—was beyond the King’s reach.

And, at last, she’s arrived upon its shores. But things in Nereidium are not what they should be.

The land is plagued by a rash of mysterious earthquakes, the likes of which it’s never known. The governors are distracted by old traditions, while Bree and her friends grapple with changing identities and the sense that the longer they wait to take action… the greater the danger from Egria grows.

Bree is tired of living under the shadow of King Langdon’s power. And she’s tired of waiting for him to be the first to act.

In this final chapter of the Threats of Sky and Sea series, it all comes down to Nereidium or Egria. To Bree or the King. It’s kill… or be killed.

And not everyone will escape the battle unscathed. 

In this third and action-packed installment of Threats of Sky and Sea, Bree and her crew return to Nereidium with the realization that Bree, not Aleta, is the heir to the water wielder’s throne, and that Bree possesses previously unknown powers she is now getting to know. Bree is reunited with her Aunt Helen, and gets to the see the land that will become hers.

I like these stories with characters that can manipulate the very elements themselves. It reminds me of the movie, The Last Airbender, which I really enjoyed.

I didn’t get a chance to read the first two books so right off I found there were lots of characters to keep track of. Interestingly, the author writes the chapters from the viewpoints of many of these characters and while at first I wasn’t sure how I felt about this, after a while I liked seeing what was happening from these different POVs. It also helped with the cracking pace of the story and I kept turning the pages. One thing I would like to see more of in differing POV novels is that the different characters have very distinct voices from each other, something which is difficult to do and that I rarely find. In Fall of Thrones and Thorns I felt all the chapters were written in the same tone despite being told by different characters, though fast-paced and overall well written.

It’s great to see how everyone in Bree’s crew are very supportive of each other and take care of the others, protecting everyone with their differing element control powers.

Along with the premise of the book being about element wielders, the scene where the earth shaker element Adept binds some of Bree’s crew into becoming a tree and latched onto that tree is fantastic. I could see CGI film makers having a field day with this. Some good back and forth on the battle scenes too so Bree and her crew really have to fight to get the ending they want.

I wanted Bree’s relationship with Prince Caden to develop more but the story is primarily about the power struggle between her, her crew, and King Langdon who has gone element-power mad in Egria. Still, the ending falls a little flat with nothing really developing between Bree and Caden beyond friendship despite their interest in each other. As Prince and Princess of two nations who have a past, you just want them to have something more going on.

Overall the story is fast-paced and cleanly and well written so for me this just squeaks through to 4.0 stars. If you’ve read the first two books, check this out to at least get good closure, and the series if you enjoy stories with characters who wield element control. My thanks to Xpresso Book Tours and Jennifer for the ARC!

Jennifer Ellision was born and raised in South Florida and lives in perpetual fear of temperatures below 60F. She spent a great deal of her childhood staying up past her bedtime with a book and a flashlight. When she couldn’t find the stories she wanted to read, she started writing them. She has an OTP, loves character analysis, and is a master of the fangirl flail, with a particular soft spot for fan fiction. She frequently bursts into song (and they are often of a Disney persuasion). Sailor Moon is one of her favorite things on this planet. Threats of Sky and Sea is her first novel series.

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Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Blood of the Prophet by Kat Ross

The Blood of the Prophet
The Fourth Element, #2
By:  Kat Ross
Publish Date:  September 12, 2016 by Acorn Publishing
Genre:  Young Adult, Historical Fantasy
Pages:  417 Kindle
Source:  Xpresso Book Tours

Visionary. Alchemist. Savior. Saint.

The Prophet Zarathustra has been called many things. Now he spends his time drawing pictures of weird-looking goats. That's what happens when you've been stuck in a prison cell for two hundred years. But the man who might be mad, and is definitely supposed to be dead, has suddenly become very valuable again…

It's only been a few weeks since Nazafareen escaped the King's dungeons with her da─ôva, Darius. She hoped never to set foot in the empire again, but the search for the Prophet has led them to the ancient city of Karnopolis. They have to find him before Alexander of Macydon burns Persepolae, and Darius's mother with it. But they're not the only ones looking.

The necromancer Balthazar has his own plans for the Prophet, and so does the sinister spymaster of the Numerators. As Nazafareen is drawn in to a dangerous game of cat and mouse, her newfound powers take a decidedly dark turn. Only the Prophet understands the secret of her gift, but the price of that knowledge may turn out to be more than Nazafareen is willing to pay…
The story picks up in book 2 with Nazafareen sailing with her deava, Darius, to Karnopolis to search for the elusive Prophet. Naz is pretty tough as she’s already been through a lot but is putting in her all to find the missing Zarathustra with her small crew. So she’s a strong female MC going into the search which won’t be easy or safe.

This book is replete with magic of many kinds. From a straightforward “pond” gateway to the shadowlands, to magical metal cuffs and neck rings that bind the wearer in some kind of connection or servitude to the owner. Some of these are quite evil. Then there are the magical beings like daevas, wights, magi, Immortals, Nazafareen herself, and even Queen Neblis, who all wield various kinds of power over different elements.

There are in fact many different kinds of magic, so lots to keep track of. I really liked most of these and wanted to know more about how they actually work, especially the fire magic that Nazafareen discovers she has, though I think it would have helped the story to bring in fewer overall as at times it gets a little overwhelming and confusing.

My favourite quote is, “There is magic in everything. The trick is making it do what you want it to.” (3702/4971).

I was drawn to Blood of the Prophet also for the ancient Persian cultural references. Zarathustra, for one, is one of the names of Zoroaster, the real life founder of the ancient Persian religion. There is even Alexander getting ready to attack the city. All these give a great historical reference point for atmosphere and visualizing the scenes.

The author also gives lots of unique descriptive details, and observations about the characters, and even gives human feelings to animals. These really add to the story which is well written and easily paced. There isn't too much action through most of the book but we learn some of the background of the characters and a little about the magi, the Numerators, and evil necromancer, Balthazar.

I really like that Nazafareen and Darius have a special close connection that is beyond just their magical bond of the cuffs that makes them both reluctant to break that bond even when it becomes possible. It’s interesting too that Nazafareen is also bonded to another, which we will learn more about in the next installment. The only thing I found about her was that I didn’t especially feel that close to her though I found her to be a likeable and courageous character.

Loved the cliff hanger. You just know there are going to be amazing things happening in book 3.

A really good historical YA read that I would highly recommend to historical fantasy lovers. Stunning cover. 4.4 Stars!
Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She lives in Westchester with her kid and a few sleepy cats. Kat is also the author of the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day (Skyscape, 2014), about a world where the sea levels have risen sixty meters. She loves magic, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Preferably with mutants.

You'll find her at these links:  Author Website | Goodreads | Twitter
And grab your copy here!