Tag Archives: great world building

Yet more incredible world building from the Queen of the fantasy short

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Don’t Fight the Spark
by Kasia Bacon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Honestly I don’t know how she does it.

I call Kasia My Queen of the Fantasy Short Story because in just a few pages (around 85 ish here) she crafts such amazing characters and world building and nothing feels rushed.

Her Order Universe is such a joy to travel in, and here we bump into Healer Haiatto, last seen saving the day in The Poison Within when he was on hand to heal Master Enforcer Sashe, and discover his fears for his fighter lover Yuu.

Also popping in are the utterly brilliant Furia Eryssa, enigmatic vamper Revendi and the completely fascinating and dangerous Grand Master of the Assassin’s Guild Lu Feninghan.

So, not quite Red and his Sergeant yet or more from our elvish Scouts, but I’ll absolutely take anything from the pen of Kasia.

As a PS: How gorgeous is this cover?!

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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Complex and intriguing introduction to this new fantasy series

apple boy cover finalApple Boy by Isobel Starling

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There’s a lot going on here!

And it’s not concluded at the end of this first book in Isobel Starling’s new fantasy series either, but there is the start of a complex narrative which I’m eager to learn more of.

I believe the three books together will bring different characters’ backgrounds and stories so far into one over-reaching plot that will conclude once all is done.

First up was Adam and Winter and they’re very cute together and delightfully stumble their way not only into a relationship but also into an epic adventure.

It’s really hard to review this without giving the key parts away, which I’m not going to do, but let’s just say I was kept interested from start to finish even when it all got a little bit complicated.

The book itself is gorgeous, with internal illustrations and a stunning world map, there’s also a handy glossary at the start with a decent chunk of background information on each of the realms.

Like all good fantasy novels, it leaves as much unanswered as it does concluded so I can’t wait to see where the story goes next.

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Another stunning blending of world mythologies into a thrilling UF

All Souls Near & Nigh (Soulbound, #2)All Souls Near & Nigh by Hailey Turner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Arhgggghhjjjuhhvvcc – that’s the noise my brain is making at how bloody brilliant this book is.

Full review to come when I’m at my laptop and I can get some semblance of order back!

***

Righty, brain back sort of functioning so here we go.

A bit more detail about why this book is so bloody brilliant. As with Book One A Ferry of Bones & Gold Hailey takes well know mythological Pantheons (Greek, Roman, Norse) and mixes them up with the lesser known ones.

In Ferry it was the folklore of West African, Egyptian and European cultures, here we’re in South America with the Aztec Gods – Quetzalcoatl and Tepoztēcatl, the Mexican/Catholic death cult Goddess/saint Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte as well as the Native American trickster God Coyote or Altse Hashke and it is this blending together of powerful beings into a seamless narrative which is the hallmark of this series.

This plot is a complexly woven and intricately detailed navigation through an urban fantasy world which feels familiar to the reader but which has that otherworldly tinge to it. The after effects of the actions of Book One are still being felt at the opening of this one.

Patrick and Jono have settled into a sort of routine which is just starting to feel like normal when everything starts to kick off. As with the first one, I’m not giving away anything of the actual plot. These books deserve to be read blind and given the chance to work their clever magic on the readers.

I will say all the usual suspects are on hand, we see Hermes, (who I always picture as a used car salesman in my head 😀 ) and the Tempest Pack, Lucien the Master Vampire, (who is still hating on Patrick for the death of his mother Ashanti) and his crew, and the rotten to the core New York God Pack alphas Estelle and Youssef, who I want to punch in the face every time they’re on page!

I’m not sure how many books Hailey is planning for this series but, for me, it’s shaping up to be just as epic as her Sci-Fi Metahumans one.

More please!

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review

As ever, the fangirling and mythology nerding are my own!

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Stunning debut urban fantasy from Miranda

ShadowingTheLight
Shadowing the Light
by Miranda Turner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well that was an impressive debut from Miranda Turner and another name to add to the urban fantasy genre list.

Lots of excellence in this narrative, great world-building, a wonderful bunch of complex characters and a successful introduction to a new series which looks at the age-old struggle between light and dark.

It did get a tiny bit bogged down in the middle third when there wasn’t much happening and a bit of necessary exposition needed to be given to the reader. But, otherwise, the pacing is superb, keeping the plot flowing organically through a very complex and complicated narrative.

That isn’t to say the book is difficult to read, on the contrary, the reader gets an instant insight into the world within the first few paragraphs.

The romance/mates element never overtakes the thrust of the mission – to find Gabriel’s parents – and instead offers up lots of intimate moments as well as some seriously hot ones.

I may have had a wee eye-roll each time one of the supposedly hetero team members seemed to gain an attraction to another member or an external character of the same sex, but it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, just a bit of a big coincidence 🙂

I rationalise it by thinking these guys are living and operating in highly pressurised situations and top-level enemies are trying to kill them all the time and pressure makes us look at people differently.

I have absolutely no idea where the story is going and that takes it onto my favourite books shelf.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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Cinematic feel to this Sci-Fi romance from Kelly Jensen

To See the SunTo See the Sun by Kelly Jensen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book started with a slow and slightly confusing opening chapter but got better and better once Gael got off the original planet and hitched his destiny with Bram.

It wouldn’t have felt out of place for this narrative to have been a plot in an episode of Star Trek or perhaps Stargate – there was a very cinematic feel to the book and I had very clear visuals of both characters and setting.

There’s lots of slow and steady relationship growth too, nothing felt hurried or out of place, Gael and Bram were wonderfully realised characters who fit together well.
It’s a relatively low steam romance but there’s lots of genuine feelings and emotions on display.

The sci-fi was done well, the tensions arising from the planet’s elemental weather systems were enough to keep my interest throughout. The side plot came a bit out of left field and I’m not sure whether or not it was truly needed tbh, but it was handled with skill in the execution.

Lovely epilogue too. I’d like to read more in this setting and I really liked most of the secondary characters.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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I love it when a shifter story offers something new

Off the Beaten PathOff the Beaten Path by Cari Z.

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I loved this shifter paranormal from Cari Z. It’s hard to come up with a new approach to a werewolf based narrative but this one did that.

The idea of werewolves being created via a military experiment gone wrong wasn’t new, but the secrecy and use of the pack Alpha’s as black ops was different and it worked well.

There’s great world building and lots of layers to this story, which is light on the steam and has a slow burn but quite intense romance at its heart.

Ward was such an amazing character, his determination and dedication to his young daughter was admirable and I loved how he was willing to put himself in danger for her.

Henry was a complex character too, struggling with the expectations of being alpha while dealing with what was very likely a strong case of PTSD because of the missions he’d been forced into.

There’s a good, solid set of secondary characters too and I’m hoping we’re getting a book two with Dr Tennyson and Davis as a pairing.

#ARC kindly provided by the publishers Dreamspinner Press in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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Release Blitz: Beholden by Kris T. Bethke

Beholden | Kris T. Bethke

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Length: 42,000 words approx.
Cover Design: Written Ink Designs
Publisher: JMS Publishing

 Blurb

Julian Thomas made the unpopular decision to become Beholden and focus his magic only on scrying. Because of it, he’s the best at his job and the top scryer for the Department of Extranormal and Magical Affairs. Which why Investigations Agent Wes Caldwell goes right to Julian for help locating a missing person.

When Wes needs to use his magic to boost Julian’s, they find a magical resonance between them that quickly leads to more. Julian doesn’t want to move too fast, but Wes knows Julian is it for him. He’s fine with waiting, as long as Julian stays close as they work through it.

But then Julian falls ill, and it’s clear there’s a magical reason. Wes will stop at nothing to find out what’s plaguing Julian, and when they realize just how deep the plot goes, they have more questions than answers. Magic is increasing in the world, and no one can figure out why. Julian and Wes have found love, but will it be enough to get them through what’s to come?

Excerpt

“Better?” Wes asked eventually. “Feel more centered and focused now?”

I nodded. Then I sat back a little so I could see his face. I wrapped my arms around his neck, and tucked my fingers down the collar of his dress shirt, not wanting to lose too much contact with his skin. “Yes, thank you.”

“First things first,” Wes said, his voice all business and his face serious. “Are we bonded?”

I sucked in a breath, surprised he’d made that leap. But he had to know that we weren’t. If we’d made a bond, even an unintentional one, he would feel the pull as much as I did. “Of course not.”

He just nodded his head, like that was the answer he expected. “But you feel better when you’re touching me. When you can pull on my magic to augment your own?”

I released a sigh, and couldn’t quite stop myself from snuggling just a tiny bit closer. I shrugged one shoulder. “Yes. Like I said, your magic fits with mine. So it’s easy and natural to use you as a source. I’m sorry about that.”

He glared at me like I had said something stupid. “Don’t be ridiculous. There’s nothing to apologize for. It’s not like you did it on purpose. Right?”

That last bit was said with just a tiny bit of accusation. I tried not to be offended. “No, I didn’t do it on purpose.”

Wes just squinted at me. “So then, we have to figure out what’s going on with you, what’s pulling on your power. Until then, you just need to stick close to me so I can keep you stable.”

I gave an indignant huff. “That’s hardly practical. We’ve both got jobs to do. You seriously can’t expect us to stay in each other’s pockets because I have a little sense of fatigue. You’re getting a little extreme there, buddy.” I tried to pull away from him but he held me fast, and gave me a look that I couldn’t quite interpret.

“You’ve got someone else that can keep your magic and your energy up?”

“Well, no,” I answered honestly. I’d never met anyone whose magic fit so well with mine. “But that doesn’t mean you can just drop everything and keep me stable. That thought is just-” I cast about for a suitable word and finally settled on, “preposterous.”

Wes just gave a snort, sounding amused. “I can do whatever I want. And I don’t want you lying in bed barely able to function. That serves no one. So you’ll just have to be ‘in my pocket’ until we can figure it out and fix you. There has to be some magical means at work here. And I am an Investigations Agent. I’ll investigate.”

His tone was playful, cajoling, and I wanted to smile, but this was too serious. We barely knew each other and, my crush notwithstanding, he couldn’t just drop everything to take care of me. He wasn’t making any sense.

Author Bio

 

Kris T. Bethke has been a voracious reader for pretty much her entire life and has been writing stories for nearly as long. An avid and prolific daydreamer, she always has a story in her head. She spends most of her free time reading, writing, or knitting/crocheting her latest project. Her biggest desire is to find a way to accomplish all three tasks at one time.

A classic muscle car will always turn her head, and naps on the weekend are one of her greatest guilty pleasures. She lives in a converted attic with a way too fluffy cat and the voices in her head. She’ll tell you she thinks that’s a pretty good deal. Kris believes that love is love, no matter the gender of people involved, and that all love deserves to be celebrated.

Find her on her site https://kristbethke.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/people/Kris-T-Bethke/100014524539852

or on Twitter https://twitter.com/kristbethke

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