#Blogtour #Review: Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles @Janella_Angeles

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I love coming across new fantasy, especially fantasy that is so luscious and so different from everything else hitting the shelves that you can’t help but get wrapped up in the story in the most delectable way. Where Dreams Descend is that book. It’s sumptuous, rich, and exquisitely magical.

The perfect blend between enchantment, imagination, and thrilling mystery, this stunning debut will keep you tearing through the pages from first to last.


Where Dreams Descend_CoverTitle: Where Dreams Descend

Author: Janella Angeles

Series: A Kingdom of Cards

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Publication Date: August 25, 2020

Genre: YA Fantasy, Fantasy

Themes: Friendship, Romance, Mystery, Magic


Synopsis

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.

Purchase Link:https://read.macmillan.com/lp/where-dreams-descend/


Review

What do you get when you throw together a talented orphan with a mysterious past, a master magician who tells more fictions than truths, a renowned performer who walked away from the stage, and a competition that could change it all? What you get is a darkly beautiful and terrifically theatrical adventure that will keep you wondering why you bought that reading chair because you’re only using about four inches of the seat.

This book is magic.

No, seriously. This book is absolute magic.

I was spell bound from the opening scenes and enraptured through to the very last page. Packed full with larger-than-life characters and set in an imaginative world of magic and mysteries I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

Beyond the lyrical prose and evocative descriptions that had me dreaming in Bob Mackie meets Cirque du Soleil, I was completely mesmerized by the world that Angeles created. There’s structure, there’s nuance, and there’s a sense of collective memory that unifies the disparate POVs into a cohesive and enchanting read. To top it all off, the magic system presented is not only deliciously original – but the use of it comes at a heavy price. The ways in which this plays out are complex and varied, and the ambiguity surrounding as to what’s the price of power as opposed to a bigger trick at play will have you guessing right up to the cliff-hanger of an ending.

I adored the cunning and caustic Kallia, and simply can’t wait to see more come book number two. She’s witty, she’s sharp, and she’s not afraid to chase what she wants no matter the cost or the societal norms standing in her way. If you’re looking for a damsel in distress this is not your book. However, if your looking for determined female protagonist who is a balanced blend between drive and femininity, as well as power and vulnerability, then this might just be the one for you.

Unabashedly powerful and unflinchingly feminist this was the fantasy read I needed to cap off the summer. It’s fun, it’s dark, and it’s crafted so infuriatingly well that it gives almost nothing way.

If you’re in the mood for haunting beauty, marvellous magicians, and a distinct theatricality that will take your breath away, then I can’t recommend Where Dreams Descends highly enough. It’s spectacular!


About the Author

Mei Lin Barral Photography_Janella AngelesJANELLA ANGELES is a Filipino-American author who got her start in writing through consuming glorious amounts of fanfiction at a young age—which eventually led to penning a few of her own, and later on, creating original stories from her imagination. A lifelong lover of books, she’s lucky enough to be working in the business of publishing them on top of writing them. She currently resides in Massachusetts, where she’s most likely to be found listening to musicals on repeat and daydreaming too much for her own good. Where Dreams Descend is her first book.

Social Media:

Twitter: @Janella_Angeles

Instagram: @Janella_Angeles


Many thanks to Meghan Harrington at St. Martin’s Press & Wednesday Books for inviting me to participate in this tour and for proving a copy of Where Dreams Descend in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

 

#Blogtour #Review: The Lost City by Amanda Hocking @Amanda_Hocking @StMartinsPress

The Lost City Blog Tour banner--FB

Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for The Lost City by Amanda Hocking. The first book in the final arc of the world of Trylle, The Lost City will transport you to a world filled with magic, adventure, and characters that you can’t help but love. If you’re a fan of fantasy threaded through with touches of the familiar, a solid quest for self discovery, and oodles of mystery in your YA fantasy reads then look no further – and don’t worry if you haven’t a thing from the series as it stands, this baby is a friendly entry point into the world of Trylle new readers and a ‘welcome home’ for those who simply can’t get enough.


The Lost City - Cover ArtTitle: The Lost City

Author: Amanda Hocking

Series: The Omte Origins

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: July 7, 2020

Genre: YA Fantasy, Fantasy

Themes: 


Synopsis

Amanda Hocking, the New York Times bestselling author of The Kanin Chronicles, returns to the magical world of the Trylle Trilogy with The Lost City, the first novel in The Omte Origins—and the final story arc in her beloved series.

The storm and the orphan

Twenty years ago, a woman sought safety from the spinning ice and darkness that descended upon a small village. She was given shelter for the night by the local innkeepers but in the morning, she disappeared—leaving behind an infant. Now nineteen, Ulla Tulin is ready to find who abandoned her as a baby or why.

The institution and the quest

Ulla knows the answers to her identity and heritage may be found at the Mimirin where scholars dedicate themselves to chronicling troll history. Granted an internship translating old documents, Ulla starts researching her own family lineage with help from her handsome and charming colleague Pan Soriano.

The runaway and the mystery

But then Ulla meets Eliana, a young girl who no memory of who she is but who possesses otherworldly abilities. When Eliana is pursued and captured by bounty hunters, Ulla and Pan find themselves wrapped up in a dangerous game where folklore and myth become very real and very deadly—but one that could lead Ulla to the answers she’s been looking for.

Purchase Links:


Review

As someone who’s never before read anything written by Amanda Hocking (I’m sorry, it’s shameful, I know!) I was more than a little nervous to dive into this series at the final arc. But, I have to say, I was more than presently surprised as how new-reader friendly The Lost City was. There is a nice balance between world building, history, action, and character development and there is no expectation that the reader is already familiar with the world of trolls. The tribal divisions, social issues, magic system, and ultimate goal of our protagonist are all clearly laid out in the first few chapters of the book and gradually built upon as the story unfolds. The romance is light, representation diverse, and even the side characters are so well developed that they fight for the spotlight on the page.

I genuinely adored Ulla as the protagonist – with her mysterious past, slight hoarding  tendencies, and a physicality that veers from the norm I found myself quickly drawn to her character. I appreciated her personal growth and transformation, particularly her sense of confidence and determination as her quest to find answers becomes increasingly more difficult. Her story really drives home the importance of family, especially found family, and the ambiguous fluidity that exists between fact, fiction, and fairytale.

In almost any book I expect to find a character or two that exist only to advance the plot, but I was blown away by how valuable each and every character was. No matter if their part is big or small, every little detail is interconnected with the bigger picture and no piece of action or dialogue is ever gratuitous. The result is that I found myself asking constant questions, checking back on details, and becoming increasingly invested in the sub-plots. This baby kept me up past my bed time more often than I care to admit – and I regret nothing! The only thing I was left wanting was a little more backstory on Pan. But with more books to come I have no doubt that we’ll soon come across his time to shine.

Finally, I am in LOVE with the world of Trylle! In a market inundated with faeries (and I love me some fairies) it was refreshing to read a world dominated by Trolls as I have never seen them before. I loved the variety and diversity within the trollian peoples, especially that they weren’t monoliths wth regards to physical expression, and that their world is secretly embedded within our own. It was part magic realism, part urban fantasy, and entirely delightful. The settings are described so intricately and in a way that evokes all of the senses that it’s easy to let your imagination take over and get lost in the fantasy.

Overall this was an absolutely fantastic read! The Lost City is fast paced, beautifully written, and provides a solid foundation for what is sure to be an amazing series. Whether you’re new to series or coming back to a fictional home, this is one of those books that sparks the imagination and turns it loose to run wild.


About the Author

Amanda Hocking NEW--credit Mariah Paaverud with Chimera PhotographyAMANDA HOCKING is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.

Social Media

Many thanks to John Karle at St. Martin’s Publishing Group for inviting me to participate in this tour and for proving a copy of The Lost City in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

 

#Blogtour #Review: The Ringmaster’s Daughter by Carly Schabowski @carlyschab11 @Bookouture #BooksOnTour

The Ringmaster's Daughter - Blog Tour

Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for The Ringmaster’s Daughter by Carly Schabowski. This book takes two of my great loves – WWII Fiction and the circus (once upon a time I dreamt of being a german wheel and lyra performer) – and weaves them beautifully together. If you’re in the mood for some romance set against harrowing odds and a rag-tag troupe of misfits who redefine the idea of family, then I highly suggest you pick this one up.


The-Ringmasters-Daughter-KindleTitle: The Ringmaster’s Daughter

Author: Carly Schabowski

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: July 7, 2020

Genre: Historical Fiction, WWII Fiction

Themes: WWII, Survival, Friendship, Romance, The Circus


Synopsis

Circus people don’t ask who you were before, or what god you believe in… when you join the circus, you are family, whatever your past.

Paris, 1940. Twenty-year-old Michel Bonnet lives on the edge of the law, finding work where he can breaking in horses on the outskirts of the city. But when the Nazis invade, Michel takes refuge as a stowaway on a rickety train bound for the rural south. It’s a journey that will change his life forever.

The train is property of Le Cirque Neumann – a travelling circus owned by the troubled and irritable showman Werner Neumann. Neumann offers Michel a job caring for the company’s horses – a lucky break, but with an unusual condition attached. Michel must keep to himself and never speak of what he sees behind the glittering curtain of the big top.

But as Michel finds himself pulled into the strange and wondrous world of the great spectacular it becomes more difficult to keep his promise. Why does the man with the performing monkey never speak, and the sword swallower turn his face away? Who are the silent, shadowy figures who flit like moths between the wagons when the sun is down? It’s clear that Neumann is keeping his performers hidden away… but why?

And how can Michel win the love of the beautiful and exotic trapeze artist Freida – the graceful, green-eyed star of Neuman’s spectacular – when he’s been forbidden to even meet her gaze?

A heartbreaking and uplifting wartime novel– perfectforfansofWater for ElephantsThe Nightingale and The Tattooist of Auschwitz. 

Purchase Links:


Review

I knew from the blurb that I was going to love this book, and love it I did.

Packed full with mystery, drama, fear, and romance there is a little something for most lovers of WWII fiction here. I have always been drawn to the enigma that is the circus, and Schabowski’s writing captures the close-knit and notoriously exclusive attitude of a troupe with vivid clarity. Everything from the domineering ringmaster to the little cliques and even the divisions between workers and performers felt incredibly authentic.

And while I adored the representation, I really appreciated that circus life – especially circus life during the second world ward – wasn’t overly glamourized. Schabowski exposes the haphazard fabric, smoke, and mirrors that go into making any show run – from the cheap jewels and tattered tents, to old lions the magic of nightfall and and a few strings of light brings to the surface how illusory these experiences are. Everyone struggles to eat, struggles to earn, and above all else, struggles to stay out of the sights of German troops drawing closer by the day.

All of the the characters are likeable, but the story centres around Michel and his last-minute flight from Paris. But it quickly becomes about much more than his personal plight as he is slowly let into the inner-circle of a tight-knit group. He collects friendships and suspicions in equal number, begins to appreciate the beauty of diverse communities, and watches helplessly as the war begin to take its toll and whittle their numbers down. All of the fear and fight for survival is interwoven with moments of love and lust and longing, true friendship, and the terrible cost of sacrifices that have to be made for the common good.

Though I found the Ringmaster Werner to be a prickly, unlikeable fellow at first, he soon grew to be one of my favourite characters in the book. His method of induction might be that of trial by fire, but once you’re in he’d give the shirt off his back to protect you. And he might initially come off as indifferent towards his animals, but really he’s just a great big teddy bear inside trying to provide a life for anyone and anything that he can.

The romantic arc is sweet and so full of longing that you feel it in your back teeth. It’s full of red-herrings and dangerous assumptions that set people off on the wrong path, but it certainly makes for a good laugh when it all comes together. It will keep you guessing as to why our lovebirds can’t be together, and it will definitely keep you rooting for love to overcome the odds.

If WWII fiction and stories about found families are your jam, then this one might just be for you. Sumptuous and emotional, this story will pull at your heartstrings and stoke the fires of the imagination in the space of a page. If you’re looking for a summer read that will stick with you through the darkness of winter, this is it!


About the Author

Carly Pic 2Carly Schabowski worked as a journalist in both North Cyprus and Australia before returning to Oxford, where she studied for an MA and then a PhD in creative writing at Oxford Brookes University. Carly now teaches at Oxford Brookes University as an associate lecturer in Creative Writing for first and second-year English literature students.
Twitter:  @carlyschab11

Many thanks to Sarah Hardy at Bookouture for inviting me to participate in the Blog Tour.

 

 

 

#Blogtour #Review: The Beauty of Broken Things by Victoria Connelly @rararesources @VictoriaDarcy

The Beauty of Broken Things

Today I have pleasure of hosting a stop on the Blog Tour for The Beauty of Broken Things by Victoria Connelly. This heartfelt story about loss, recovery, and genuine friendship is sure to draw you in, hold you close, and tug at the heartstrings. If you’re looking for some fantastic contemporary fiction with a strong focus on relationships but none of the romance, than this might just be the one for you!


The_Beauty_Of_Broken_Things-Victoria_Connelly review coverTitle: The Beauty of Broken Things

Author: Victoria Connelly

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Publication Date: June 9, 2020

Genre: General Fiction

Themes: Trauma, Loss, Friendship


Synopsis

United by tragedy, can two broken souls make each other whole?

After the tragic loss of his wife, Helen, Luke Hansard is desperate to keep her memory alive. In an effort to stay close to her, he reaches out to an online friend Helen often mentioned: a reclusive photographer with a curious interest in beautiful but broken objects. But first he must find her—and she doesn’t want to be found.

Orla Kendrick lives alone in the ruins of a remote Suffolk castle, hiding from the haunting past that has left her physically and emotionally scarred. In her fortress, she can keep a safe distance from prying eyes, surrounded by her broken treasures and insulated from the world outside.

When Luke tracks Orla down, he is determined to help her in the way Helen wanted to: by encouraging her out of her isolation and back into the world. But Orla has never seen her refuge as a prison and, when painful secrets and dangerous threats begin to resurface, Luke’s good deed is turned on its head.

As they work through their grief for Helen in very different ways, will these two broken souls be able to heal?

Purchase Links

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07YKW2D3B

US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07YKW2D3B

Aus: https://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B07YKW2D3B


Review

I must say, it’s wonderful to com across a book that is all about the relationships with none of the romance. Not that I hate romantic arcs, but it’s just that there’s more than one kind of relationship in this world and it’s refreshing to see story about an honest adult friendship developing out of the ruins of tragedy. The Beauty of Broken Things offers a tender exploration of community, both in person and online, and the days in which is can bring us together as well as drive us apart. And above all else, it offers a sweet and gentle look at loss, grief, trauma, and recovery and the vastly different ways it can be experienced – obvious or otherwise.

On one hand we have Orla, a reclusive woman who is hiding from a turbulent past, who has since locked herself away in a ruined castle as a means of shielding herself from the world. She is lonely, isolated, and lives under the weight of a debilitating fear. These circumstances are compounded further by a well-meaning mother who aggressively shields her daughter from any potential threat, engages in a touch of gaslighting and emotional manipulation, and might just want to keep Orla dependent on her for all her emotional needs.

I found Orla to be a challenging character to read because she was incredibly well written. The fear and anxiety that have come to define her bleeds off the page and into the reading experience, as does her reluctant desire to live a life that offers just a little bit more – even if it scares her to death. I found myself cheering every little step she made towards recovery, zipping through those sections when her fear was legitimized by real threats, and growing closer to her as a character with every tentative new relationship she added to her collection of broken things.

On the other hand we have Luke, who comes at Orla’s carefully constructed walls with all the grace of a siege engine fuelled by the newly discovered desires of his deceased wife. Where Orla would have been happy to have never built another relationship again, Luke is determined to be the real-life friend that Helen never could have been online. He’s stubborn, sweet, and is most definitely using his spur-of-the-moment adventure to East Anglia as a means of avoidance when it comes to dealing with his own trauma. Now add in a castle that need a little (or a lot) work, and Luke thinks that he has the perfect opportunity to repair the owner as well as the landmark. The only problem is that he doesn’t expect Orla and the community of Lorford to start carrying out the same kind of emotional work on him.

I really appreciated that Luke’s perspective was present and not just Orla’s, as it provided a subtle balance between the emotional expectations and coping mechanisms experienced by men and women. It’s clear from the start that Luke’s stoic approach isn’t working, and that he’s denying himself a desperately needed emotional journey. And the camaraderie found between Luke and Orla allows for them both to break down their walls, and the stereotypical expectations placed on those in their respective situations.

The Beauty of Broken Things is written in exquisite prose that draws you in from the very first page. It will make you laugh, make you cry, and it will most definitely leave you rooting for our broken beauties as they take their first steps towards healing and recovery.

If you’re craving real characters, genuinely human experiences, and the purest form of friendship I can’t recommend this book highly enough.


About the Author

Victoria Connelly Author PhotoVictoria Connelly studied English Literature at Worcester University, got married in a medieval castle in the Yorkshire Dales and now lives in rural Suffolk with her artist husband, a young springer spaniel and a flock of ex-battery hens. She is the million-selling author of two bestselling series, Austen Addicts and The Book Lovers, as well as many other novels and novellas. Her first published novel, Flights of Angels, was made into a film in 2008 by Ziegler Films in Germany. The Runaway Actresswas shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Romantic Comedy Novel award.

Victoria loves books, films, walking, historic buildings and animals. If she isn’t at her keyboard writing, she can usually be found in her garden either with a trowel in her hand or a hen on her lap.

Social Media Links –

www.victoriaconnelly.com

Instagram: @victoriaconnellyauthor

Facebook: @victoriaconnellyauthor

Twitter: @VictoriaDarcy


The Beauty of Broken Things Full Tour Banner

Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to participate in the Blog Tour.

 

 

 

#BlogTour #Review: Nightborn by Jessica Thorne @JessThorneBooks @Bookouture #Fantasy

Nightborn - Blog Tour

Today I have the pleasure of hosting a stop on the final day of the blog tour for book two in Jessica Thorne’s The Hollow King series, Nightborn. Yes it’s fantasy, yes it revolves around an epic romance, and yes it’s wonderfully good.

P.S.: It’s weird to be on a blog tour  when it feels like the world is on fire.


Nightborn-KindleTitle: Nightborn

Author: Jessica Thorne

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: May 26th 2020

Genre: Fantasy, Fiction

Themes: Romance, Rebellion, Tyranny, Magic


Synopsis

Like deep dark water, it pulls them down. The faint fire of magic within them flickers and dies. Their eyes turn black as night. They are nightborn now.

Grace Marchant has been many things: streetwise orphan, rebellious servant, and now beloved companion of Prince Bastien, heir to the throne of Larelwynn. But their sunlit happiness is not destined to last. The golden magic which brought them together in purest passion is threatened by strange and ancient forces. Innocent people are becoming nightborn – cruel, deadly, unrecognisable to their loved ones – and these two young lovers are the only ones with power enough to stop it.

In times of peace, striking a deal with their closest enemy would be unthinkable, but now their only hope is to ally with the neighbouring Valenti royal family: manipulative, cunning, and always with an eye on the Larelwynn throne. The partnership comes at a devastating price… if Grace wants to defeat the nightborn, she must watch Bastien marry a Valenti princess.

Grace knows she must make this heart-wrenching sacrifice for the good of the whole kingdom – but she also fears the magic in her veins, usually so warm and bright, is turning cold as deepest midnight. A beguiling darkness whispers to her from within. Is Grace herself becoming nightborn?

Time is running out. With Bastien promised to another, and a stony distance growing between them, will Grace find the source of the nightborn curse before every last soul is consumed by the darkness?

Combining sizzling romance, courtly intrigue, and heart-in-your-mouth action, this dark and addictive fantasy series is perfect for fans of Graceling and Emily R. King.

Purchase this book in Canada, the U.S.A., and the UK.

As an Amazon Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Review

I adored Mageborn, but Nightborn takes the The Hollow King series to a whole new level.  Picking up three months after Grace, Bastien, Danny, Misha, and Ellyn fled Rathlynn we step back into the story with a whole new set of problems brewing on top of the ones they left behind. Celeste is still wreaking havoc, Aurelie is still grasping for power, and Asher is scheming in the background and loyal to no-one but himself. But now they have to deal with the mageborn not only going hollow but turning dark, a Valenti queen trying to trap Bastien into a loveless political marriage, and strong tides of civil unrest from both the mageborn rebelling against their maltreatment and the oppressing class using events as excuse to commit genocide. Needless to say, the real world parallels were both difficult to digest given current events but also humbling and needed.

Though this book is considerably darker than Mageborn there is still plenty of beauty and joy to be found. The plot is an absolute roller-coaster with plenty of twists and turns, and the intense action is balanced out with moments of tenderness and exceptional loyalty. There’s a vast array of morally grey characters, and the chapters told from multiple POVs allow for deep character development.

As a result I ended up falling in love with Kurt – everything from his snark to his commitment to the community he lives in made him one of my favourites. I’m so glad he got to play a more prominent role in this book. My heart broke with the first nightborn he tried to help and swelled with pride at his leadership in the final chapters. But Grace, hands down, steals the show. She gets more complex with every page and doesn’t shy away from the tough decisions. The dedication she shows her friends is commendable, even when it’s not the easiest route. She’s still stubborn and headstrong, and I can’t stress how much appreciated that her fire never lessened even with romance in the picture.

Finally, I love magic systems and fantasy worlds, but what really strikes home is that the magic in Thorne’s world always comes at a cost. The mageborn have access to incredible power, but it comes with the knowledge that it can, and often does, kill them. This provides a subtle balance as the reasons and mechanisms for their oppression, and it really prompts some deep thinking once you get past the splendours of Rathlynn and Valenti. Now add in an ancient evil that seeks to reclaim that power for other purposes all together and you’ve got a recipe for some serious drama to kick off.

Altogether this is a fantastic read – it’s witty, fast paced, and chalk full of characters that are sure to capture your heart. If you like a little romance with your fantasy, and even a little social commentary on the side, then I highly recommend it.

Like the sound of this book? Buy it here.


About the Author

Jessica ThorneJessica Thorne saw Star Wars at an impressionable age and life was never the same. She’s loved fantasy, romance and science fiction ever since and spends her time looking for adventure – in the pages of her books.

Sometimes she is Ruth Frances Long and won the European Science Fiction Society Spirit of Dedication Award for Best Author of Children’s Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2015.

Author Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JessThorneBooks/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JessThorneBooks

Website: http://www.rflong.com/jessicathorne/


Buy link:

https://geni.us/B086K22S4VSocial


Many thanks to Noelle Holten at Bookouture for inviting me to participate in the Blog Tour. I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.