Second Skin – Blog Tour

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Blurb:
The moon was being devoured.

Estranged from birth and raised on tales of the great mountain castle of Idrith-Core, where her distant father serves as Lord Commander and confidante of the King, Aledra Jewel-Wing was now going there to court.

As one of the Drakkoni, a race of powerful shape-shifters and conquerors of a wild land, she joins her stepmother at the festival for all peoples. But when in attempting to save a life, Aledra shifts into her Drakkoni Secondskin – her beautiful second soul: a giant flighted lizard with flaming breath – she breaks an ancient oath, and the tremulous peace between the Drakkoni and Esrans is shattered.

Branded a fugitive, hunted by her father, and aided in escape by the master-mancer who raised her, Aledra begins a journey for survival across a war-torn continent.

Book Information:
Format: Kindle Edition
Publisher: Endeavour Venture (18 July 2019)
Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
Language: English
ASIN: B07SLLJMW4

Where to Buy

Amazon UK

 

My Review

I was really excited to read this. I mean, come on, dragons. Who doesn’t love dragons/fire breathing lizards/fire breathing anything [let’s be real]?

This is also the start of the Bridge of Fire books, so it’s great when you get to start off with a new series.

In this book, Bentley gives us a pretty awesome take on dragons. They’re shapeshifters, their flying fiery forms are called their ‘second skins’ and they have two hearts, essentially they are two souls, their two-legged human-looking forms and their dragon forms. These shapeshifters had to leave their homeland and make a new land home, crossing a land bridge that is now gone, they made it to the lands where human tribes have ruled. These tribes all have their own cultures and leaders and ways of life, but they’re quickly conquered with a peace treaty put in place.

No second-skins will be used not even in a ‘peaceful’ manner in this new land.

This all recalls the invasion of the Americas to me and I loved that she took something like that and gave it a huge fantasy spin, a new land, new world, new people, and all of it steeped in heavy world building.

You all know me, I love world building, this did cause the pacing for Aledra and her story to slump a bit in the middle but I would say that the ending more than made up for it.

That’s another thing, it took me a while to appreciate Aledra after sh leaves the comforts of her people, but, I really enjoyed her as she developed, especially in the last four chapters. I love the choices she makes and how Bentley steers her toward something that allows her room to grow.

Penda was absolutely one of my favorite characters and I can only hope that there’s more of her to come. I mean, I fangirl her, she’s amazing.

Aledra’s father is complex and so layered that it made me happy to get to the parts with him. I really think there’s so much more to him than Aledra sees and I love the complexity of their relationship.

There is love, there is war, there are dragons and tribes, and a girl who wants nothing more than to have the freedom to choose. So pretty much a guaranteed like in my books when I read it.

Jubal is Aledra’s companion during a good chunk of the novel and he was an interesting character but I would say he paled in comparison to Aledra, her Father, and Penda.

Overall a great solid start to an intriguing fantasy series, and you can bet I will be happy to read book two and see where Aledra goes next.

Three cups of coffee!!

Thanks to Anne Cater, Sue Bently, and Endeavour Venture for a chance to read and honestly review this as part of the Random Things Blog Tour!

 

About the Author

Sue Bentley Author Pic

Sue lives in a house surrounded by a wildlife hedge so she can pretend she lives in the countryside. She enjoys reading, walking, cinema, researching her books, and painting and printmaking, when she’s not writing – which isn’t very often!

Author Links

Website Twitter

 

The Rest of the Tour!

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The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston – Blog Tour

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Abandoned and alone, thirteen-year-old Joe’s world is shattered when he enters a deserted council house and becomes trapped within a labyrinth protecting the last magical places on earth. There, Joe discovers a book charting this immense no-man’s land, without time or place, its thirteen doors each leading to a different realm. Hunted by sinister foes, the boy is forced ever deeper into both the maze and the mystery of his missing parents. What will he find at the labyrinth’s centre, and can it reunite him with the family he so desperately needs? 
Crossing through diverse landscapes from Victorian Britain to fifties New Orleans, The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston is inspired by the internationally famous house and gardens dubbed ‘Britain’s Most Extraordinary Home’ by the Sunday Times. It is a classic YA tale of adventure that introduces readers to an otherworld hiding in plain sight, cloaked in magic and steeped in imagined history. Yet beyond its fearsome huntsmen and battling magicians dwells the secret that lies within all of us – the power to live extraordinary lives.

Book Information:
PRICE: £14.99
ISBN: 978-1-78352-724-3
FORMAT: Hardback
BINDING: Royal HB
EXTENT: 384 pages
SIZE: 240 × 159 mm
CATEGORY BIC: FM

 

My Review

Starting this novel, I wasn’t sure what I was in for, and I’m glad of that. This book had so much to offer and I was really pleased with Tarrow’s take on this YA fantasy.

In Joe we find a young boy who is alone and struggling to follow the rules his parents made to keep him safe. With his parents not around and the hiding place no longer safe, Joe finds himself starting an adventure that he never imagined could even exist as he tries to locate his parents and get ‘home.’ Wherever home is.

There’s so much depth and research put into this and the creativity was fun to watch unravel if not a bit anxiety fueled as I kept wondering what’s in store, when is it, and where in the labyrinth is he in regards to Joe and his journey.

This is a classic Fantasy in a lot of ways, we have a child who has had greatness thrust upon him in a sense. Joe must travel through Talliston to get home, but as he ventures to each new room and time, there’s the sinking realization of just how much is at stake. There’s betrayal, young love [though not too much and it’s not the focus], kinship, family found, family lost, and magic, and of course the battle between those both good and evil [and in between]. It’s a recipe for a tale that will stay with you long after you’ve closed the book.

The guardians of Talliston’s rooms that Joe encounters are some of my favorite parts of the book not to mention getting to go through so many different times, future, current, and past! You can go from 1950s New Orleans to futuristic Japan!

Where Joe starts off afraid and just wanting to go home, he has great character growth thanks to the people he meets along the way both good and bad, he becomes stronger and realizes that he must make his own decisions in regards to Talliston. The question at the end of the day for him isn’t how can get he get home, but, how can I help -where Talliston is concerned- and he finds his answer. Joe also learns that though rules are in place to protect, some rules, are meant to restrict and are made to be broken.

I adored every side character both good and bad and Tarrow does a great job fleshing them out and I think the way Joe progressed through the story was one my favorite aspects to the book.

I actually look forward to my daughter reading this in a couple of years when her reading level is more advanced. I good 4/5 cups of coffee read for me.

It also doesn’t hurt that this book is absolutely drop dead gorgeous/stunning. Honestly, it’s like holding a magical tome in your hands.

A few other neat notes:

The house and gardens featured in the story are real. The author spent twenty-five years transforming an ordinary house in an ordinary street into what the Sunday Times called ‘Britain’s Most Extraordinary Home’. The project is internationally famous. 
Talliston House is featured in the Netflix-commissioned programme Amazing Interiors, which will reach an audience close to 100 million in 120 countries. 
The ‘Stranger’s Guide’ journal mentioned in the novel is a real entity; a leather-bound, hand- calligraphed volume that could appear as a companion publication (like The Spiderwick Field Guide).

Thanks to Anne Cater for having me on the tour and thank you to John Tarrow and Unbound for sending me a copy and allowing me to honestly review this!

 

About the Author

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John Tarrow is a novelist, poet, storyteller and award-winning writer. His fascination with folk and faerie tales has taken him around the world, gathering threads of story and legend to weave into his own mythologies: his extensive studies in Lakota Sioux and Druidic traditions offer readers stories resonant with magic, folklore and the wonders of the natural world. He spent twenty-five years transforming a three-bedroom, semi-detached, ex- council house in Essex into the world-famous Talliston House and Gardens. 

Author Links

Website [Includes Purchase Links]

 

The Rest of the Tour Schedule

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Charity Shop Haul

So…

It’s been a minute with this. To be fair it’s because we go shopping so often for books in charity shops that it would be too repetitive on the blog, so, here we are, and I’ve just gathered up some of my favorite buys recently so that I can share them.

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Most of these were 50P! The Lord of the Rings was 5, but the retail is 35, sooo I didn’t do too shabby! That means my old school LotR movie book with all three is now donated, and I also had an older cover of Maze Runner but now that I have matching covers, well, that’s gone to donation as well! I’ve also been wanting the Magnus Bane Chronicles but I had one on the kindle and it was one they were sold separately so I like this much better, looks like that’s one ebook I don’t have to keep on the Kindle anymore. I know. I have a problem.

I’m also going through my books once again, it’s time to clear some out now that we’re moving. It’s about time too as I really should be conscious of what books I might never read. I don’t plan on doing a huge cull, just taking into account what I truly never plan on reading, haha, that way someone else has a chance to read it.

It’s time for me to dive back into the neverending TBR. [Sidenote: Why you approve things so last minute NetGalley people? Do you hate me??]

Tell me what deals/books you’ve bought lately!

Mini Review Day


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On April 5th, 1948, Gold met Kennig…

Inspired by the true story of a WWII marine and the love of his life, Christopher M. Struck has crafted a haunting tale of love, devotion, sacrifice…and betrayal.

Daniel Kennig only has one ambition: to be the greatest singer to have ever lived. While headlining at a mid-tier nightclub in Manhattan he meets Cynthia Gold. Smitten with the golden-haired heiress, the young couple begin a romantic rendezvous at the possible expense of his career.

My Review

**Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the eARC copy, my honest review has been given in exchange below.**

This book was a sweet concept but it fell a little flat for me. I think it was actually Kennig who just didn’t seem fleshed out enough for my personal preference but Gold was very intriguing and I did love that Kennig was a male singer and model at one point, something a little different! The book is done in sweet flashbacks and moments in the present. The writing style is easy to read and I really enjoyed reading about their travels and the tour. A nice heartfelt read for those it can appeal to.

To me it just felt on the verge of going deeper but never daring to, and I think that’s what slightly disappointed me. Not to mention the part that seemed ‘flattest’ to me was Gold himself, and I was unsure how to take the advice he gave our Journalist friend who acts as the go between, between present time and the past through the letters he reads.

That is one thing I did enjoy, that it was the Journalist reading letters to reveal the past and Gold himself filling in the necessary blanks when needed.

This does have a bit of a religious undertone just as a warning for those who may not enjoy that, it wasn’t the theme of the book nor was it overriding the plot, just part of the story.

 


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“Vivid, gripping and actually riveting as the Red Danger takes a whole new meaning here. Loved it.” —The Book Smugglers

It is the waning days of the Russian monarchy. A reckless man rules the land and his dragons rule the sky. Though the Tsar aims his dragons at his enemies—Jews and Bolsheviks—his entire country is catching fire. Conspiracies suffuse the royal court: bureaucrats jostle one another for power, the mad monk Rasputin schemes for the Tsar’s ear, and the desperate queen takes drastic measures to protect her family.

Revolution is in the air—and the Red Army is hatching its own weapons.

Discover Russia’s October Revolution, reimagined in flight by the acclaimed mother-and-son writing team of the Locus Award-winning novel, Pay the Piper, and the Seelie Wars series.

My Review

**I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.**

An interesting take on history and use of metaphors, I did believe though that there was more research needed on the historical and linguistic aspects of the novel. Overall I thought it was creative and intriguing, but of course as a novella there is only so much that can be revealed in such a short time frame. I would say that if you’re interested in Russian revolutionary history and don’t mind a large reach of creative license, then it is worth the quick read.

I do love that the other dragons were red, thought that was quite clever and got a chuckle out of me.

The novel is allegorical and I enjoyed that part, I would have loved to give this a higher rating but I couldn’t knowing that there was quite a bit wrong with the linguistics, and though it is fiction, the note at the back like another review mentioned, forgets to add that one of the daughters of Tsar is entirely fictional in this book and not at all a real person. Most of history reads of the nonfiction variety are Russian Revolution books so I’m a bit of a stickler for this.

The fact that the dragons show the same power just different colors is an important message the authors did deliver pretty well in my opinion. It wasn’t a bad read, just that I hoped for more. I think though that this had some really great ideas and I enjoyed Rasputin’s chapters the most.

 


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A young man struggling to forge his own path… A priestess forced to conceive an heir… A forbidden love…

Captured in a sweep of beings from Earth to aid planet Remeon’s dying society, Jack is plagued by deep ceded deception and mind control from those on the planet who seek to dictate the end of life choices of their citizens.

Sides are chosen as ancient magical powers thought to be long dead align to intervene in the fate of the two young lovers forcing a chain of events in motion that cannot be undone.

Truths will be destroyed. Myths will find life. Whose ultimate power will reign?

My Review

Thank you so much the publisher for letting me read this for free via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Garrett has some really interesting ideas, and I love that the time period for our hero was in the time of the building of the Hoover Dam. I felt her writing was strongest during the historical side, and though I loved the ideas she had, I think there maybe too many. A lot of times it felt like a whole jumble of ideas on spin cycle and you weren’t sure which one was supposed to be the main one or which was important at all. I think though that there’s a lot of promise in Garrett’s writing style and the story had some very tender moments which I appreciated. The style of the sci-fi writing was pretty ‘classic’ and it reminded me a little of ‘Dune’ in style and ideas but there wasn’t the same strength behind it. The ending was done well and it left it open ended enough that you hope she writes another but if she doesn’t, you’re still left hoping haha.

Unfortunately the love didn’t feel tangible to me between the two characters romantically and that was a struggle to read through. It was insta-love and it was badly done insta-love, I could not find it in me to believe they had a relationship at all and it went amazingly fast in terms of pacing. Maybe it’s because I’m a slow mover but I was slightly panicked for them! Also they were like 16 year olds deciding to have a child together while practicing magic and one is human and one is not. It’s just a lot to take in.

Slightly disappointed the alien’s only difference physically was that she had silver hair.

The friendship between Harry and Jack also feels very fabricated though the friendship between Jack and Sam is very genuine and the best part of the story, hands down.

The things i did like were Garrett’s time period choice, the basic premise, I mean it’s classic, alien abduction, I loved it, and the fact that she went with old school sci-fi. The problems with old school sci-fi though are pretty deep, and Garrett’s seemed to be slightly tinged with one its problems, sexism.

 


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Assassin’s Creed meets Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in this gripping, epic fantasy romance trilogy.
My heart wasn’t part of the deal when I bargained for my life,
But assassins so rarely keep their word.
Exiled Charmer Leena Edenfrell is running out of time. Empty pockets forced her to sell her beloved magical beasts-an offense punishable by death-and now there’s a price on her head. With the realm’s most talented murderer-for-hire nipping at her heels, Leena makes Noc an offer he can’t refuse: powerful mythical creatures in exchange for her life.
Plagued by a curse that kills everyone he loves, Noc agrees to Leena’s terms in hopes of finding a cure. Never mind that the dark magic binding the assassin’s oath will eventually force him to choose between Leena’s continued survival…and his own.
In a game of trust and half-lies, only one thing can be certain: traps capture more than beasts and ensnared hearts are impossible to untangle.

My Review

**I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my HONEST opinion.**

This book was such an unexpected joy to read. Though labeled as sci-fi it did remind me more of steampunk fantasy, and you’ll hear no complaints out of me because that’s the aspect I loved best! Honestly, the beasts were so interesting and I love the way Martineau describes them, she’s got a talent for descriptive writing without overwhelming with details. Leena is a great character and the whole cast is except and somewhat diverse in LGBTQ rep which was really nice. It’s not often we get a bisexual male main character like Noc, another great character that is a delighted balance to Leena. The side characters are fleshed out well and I might have enjoyed them more than even Leena and Noc! And don’t get me started on the plot, it was great and I cannot wait to see what happens in book 2.

It is a slow burn romance and never loses sight of the plot and really it made it such a great read for me, the pacing was wonderful both in action and romance and the world is lush and creative. Martineau has impressed me and I wish I would have read this sooner! If you like romance of the slow burning variety and fantasy, join me  in loving this book lol. Please.

My only qualms was that it as slightly predictable but that’s also why I enjoyed it if that makes sense, there’s no major twists or surprises but the joy was in the journey and the beasts.

The beasts were also really nicely hashed out, I actually had a really strong urge to go play Pokemon Go after reading this. Going to different locations to capture beasts….I mean…can you blame me? I didn’t get as much an ‘Assassin’s Creed’ vibe though, and that’s okay, I was just happy enough there were assassins!

Also, the Charmers have the coolest place ever, I want to go visit…and battle like a trainer. Half Jk.

Again. Now to just wait for book 2. Bah, humbug.

 

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Forrest Gump meets Woody Allen in this endearing story about a sea turtle seeking to be reunited with the love of his life.

When Akela is separated from his migrant soulmate, Kalea, he will do anything to be reunited with her. Journey with this charming and neurotic sea turtle as he crosses paths with celebrities, politicians, and other moments in history with unbreakable determination to be reunited with his love.

My Review

**I received this book from the Publishers via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.**

If you love introspective fiction and/or sea turtles, this will definitely be something you’ll want to pick up.

That’s it. That’s my review. (jk jk)

On amore serious not, this is a great novel and it’s all about Akela’s journey to find those he thinks are part of his purpose, in the beginning it’s his mother, later on it’s his mate, and along the way he meets a variety of people and animals who help/hinder him on his journey. He learns there is more to life than being afraid of the open water and that in order to get what you want, there will work and possibly sacrifice along the way. Most importantly though was Akela’s realization of who he was along this journey, what was important to him and what he discovered about himself at the end. I would say the ending really was lovely and the book did make my heart break a little at times but I also smiled and laughed as Uytdewilligen incorporates famous people with Akela who becomes a bit infamous to the humans, he spends time as being accused as part of grand Soviet schemes all the way to becoming the poster child for ocean pollution but I won’t give away more than that, you’ll have to read it to see how Akela ends up in these situations.

Seriously, Akela meets presidents, that’s right, plural. The book played out like a movie in my mind, Uytdewilligen did a great job being descriptive and keeping the pacing pretty decent. There were a couple of slumps but I felt that overall the drive of the story was never lost and sometimes I just wanted to shake Akela and say ‘get to it, your woman is out there!’ The cast of characters Akela encounters in the way of animals are all brilliant, and I enjoyed them so much more than the fascinating human encounters.

Overall I found this to be a very thoughtful read, it causes a lot of self reflection if you enjoy it and I certainly fell in love with Akela himself. The ending was beautiful and absolutely perfect for this book.

 


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The massive labyrinth was built to protect Zadie Kalvers’ isolated desert town. Unfortunately, living in the maze’s shadow makes her feel anything but safe. Even without its enchanted deathtraps and illusions, a notorious killer named Dex lurks in its corridors, terrorizing anyone in his path.

But when Zadie’s best friend vanishes into the labyrinth-and everyone mysteriously forgets he exists- completing the maze becomes her only hope of saving him. In desperation, Zadie bribes the only person who knows the safe path through-Dex-into forming a tenuous alliance.

Navigating a deadly garden, a lethal blood-filled hourglass, and other traps-with an untrustworthy murderer for her guide-Zadie’s one wrong step from certain death. But with time running out before her friend (and secret crush) is lost forever, Zadie must reach the exit and find him. If Dex and the labyrinth don’t kill her first.

My Review

**I received this book from the Publishers via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.**

I’m dystopia trash with absolutely no regrets about it. Saying that, I really felt this was a four cups of coffee read. Tate does a great job to blend in fantasy with sci-fi/dystopia.

Their town is the only one left as their leader tells them. Everything else has died, they are the only ones lucky enough to take part in having protection from the leader and getting the water he provides. However he is one that likes to keep his distance anyone who wants to see him has to go through the Labyrinth. And it doesn’t enjoy visitors.

The Labyrinth rests on territory that is still infused with magic and not even the residents of Zadie’s town who all have amazing skills, except for Zadie and the others known as ‘Blanks,’ stand a chance. But more than that, in the labyrinth lives Dex, the monster that everyone knows of, he kidnaps people into the labyrinth and when they come back, they’re never the same.

So why does Zadie as a blank venture forth? Her best friend (and secret crush, as stated) is missing and she dares to brave the maze to get him back and help her family because something isn’t quite right, the Skilled aren’t acting normal and communication to their leader has been cut off.

Tate gives us a story where the one without the skills is rare, and weak. There’s no doubt that Zadie knows she’s no match for a person with skills, whether it’s just one skill or more. But this is kind of a nice approach, she’s not special in the sense that she’s overpowered, but in that she isn’t. So her strength will have to come from somewhere else and it will have to show up along the way or she’ll never survive the maze.

The maze itself was so incredibly fun to read about, a bit of Hunger Games meets Alice in Wonderland for how it works and the rest of the world is just as intriguing. All the information that Tate gives us is used well and I have to say I sincerely hope there’s another book for this, if not, the ending does satisfy enough, but holy cow the possibilities for what could happen next are endless!

I love Dex, you all can take him from my cold dead fingers.

 

There we have it, my mini reviews for the day!

 

 

June Rewind

 My June Reads

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  1. The Last Tsar’s Dragons

  2. Kennig & Gold

  3. Remeon’s Quest

 

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  1. The Path Keeper 

 

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  1. The Chosen

  2. Kingdom of Exiles

 

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  1. Random Attachment

  2. The Missing Years

  3. The Repenting Serpent

  4. The Sea Refuses No River

  5. Dream Angus

  6. Bride Squad Runaway

  7. The Van Apfel Girls are Gone

  8. The Starter Wife

  9. Akela

  10. The Red Labyrinth

 

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  1. The Disappeared

  2. Without a Trace

  3. The Ice House

  4. Finer Things

  5. Shadow of the Fox

  6. Heart of Stone

  7. Horizontal Collaboration

  8. Soul of the Sword

  9. Something to Live For

    [Review to Come]

Total Tally: 25 Books Read this Month

 

Favorite Posts from around the book blogger-verse

These are most certainly not all the great posts I’ve seen but they’re the ones that I did recall the most, and trust me, I’ve seen some amazing content this month, it was a bit overwhelming to try and pick lol.

 

What I’ve Posted

 

I had so much fun attending my first book event, Cymera Festival! I had a lot of blog tours and I came up with some new things, Thriller Thursdays and Comparing Notes (Comparing Notes will be monthly for now so July will have a new post to roll out on that) I also didn’t post for like 6/7 days out of the month and it was nice to have those days off! I can’t wait to see what July brings!

**And That’s a wrap! I’m off to go nap now. If you click on the pics this time you’ll be directed to my GR review, and clicking on the title of the book will give you my blog post review if there is one for the book. I know I read a lot of 4/5 star books this month, but it was a really good month for reading, and I have no regrets on loving so many reads this go!**

 

 

 

Soul of the Sword Blog Tour

Thank you to Harper Collins HQ for a chance to be part of this blog tour. Below is an honest review in exchange for a copy of the book.

[And….honestly, this is now one of my favorite trilogies and I haven’t even read book three yet]

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Synopsis:
The Time of the Wish Approaches…
Yumeko the shapeshifter had one task: take her piece of the ancient and powerful scroll to the Steel Feather temple and prevent the summoning of the great Kami Dragon. But she has a new enemy now. The demon Hakaimono, has escaped and possessed the samurai she thought would protect her, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan.
Hakaimono has done the unthinkable and joined forces with Genno, the Master of Demons, to break his curse and set himself free. But Genno wishes to overthrow the empire and cover the land in darkness. To do that he needs only one thing, the scroll Yumeko is hiding. As the paths of Yumeko and the possessed Tatsumi cross again the entire empire will be thrown into chaos.
And Chaos will darken an Empire
Return to Juli Kagawa’s beautiful and perilous land of shapeshifter, samurai and demons as Japanese mythology and magic swirl together in the New York Times bestselling author’s brand new adventure. 

Book Information:
Title: Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox #2)
Publication Date:
27 June 2019
Publisher: HQ, Harper Collins
Paperback: £7.99
eBook: £3.99
Audio: £12.99

 

My Review

I could probably fangirl about this and book one for weeks if you all let me, no lie just a post a day for each character and then one a day for each lovely detail…weeeeeeks. But, I will refrain and try my best to give it to you without too much gushing.

I had not read any of Julie Kagawa’s works until Shadow of the Fox and once I did, I realized this was going to be something I was going to love and treasure. Kagawa gives us such a lush and beautiful world steeped in Japanese mythology and descriptions that make you want to go visit so you can help Yumeko and ‘the gang’ as I call them.

While we’re still striving for diversity the fact that Kagawa just pushes out this amazing fantasy book and gives us a main female protagonist and the great creatures from myth which sometimes we forget about with all the books dominated by the Medieval Western inspired worlds [and to be fair, I love those books too].

Yumeko was an isolated and sheltered girl in the first book and though she’s certainly learning the way of the world, our lovely kitsune still retains some of her innocence which makes for some pretty heart felt and chuckle induced moments. Still, the fact that Kagawa has Yumeko reaching into herself and accepting a part of her she’s really kept at a distance is a beautiful thing to watch. Not only that but Yumeko builds her relationships closer with others around her as Tatsumi -Hakaimono are elsewhere. [Not giving away any spoilers other than what’s already given away from the blurb!]

It’s almost as if there are no side characters in Kagawa’s Shadow of the Fox books, each one is hashed out and given such attention in the details that you feel as if you really know them all. Especially Okame and Daisuke, Reika, well it fits that she’s still the one we know the least as she keeps her distance emotionally more than the others.

We also get to see more inner thoughts of Hakaimono and those were some of my favorite parts, he’s still this imposing monster in every aspect of the word but even he can see how 400 years has made him change ever so slightly being in the presence of humans, even if it has been in a sword.

Suki is actually one of my favorite characters and I was so excited we got to see more chapters with her this time around. I think she’s so precious and man, Kagawa broke my heart for in like the first three pages of Shadow of the Fox

Like the first book, Soul of the Sword shows us more of the world that our beloved group of characters is in, there’s no revisiting, it’s pushing onwards towards their goals, their mission which is integral to the whole world at this point. Each new city and territory discovered was described so well that it felt like Kagawa might have travelled to this fanatasy world and painted a picture of it all with her words. We encounter some new faces, we get to see more of the Kage clan and more importantly, we get to see more magic.

If you’re looking for a fantasy read that gives you everything your heart desires with world building, great characters, and awesome fighting and magic, then go pick up Shadow of the Fox and then immediately go pick up Soul of the Sword. I’ve never loved the first two books so much in a trilogy before, I couldn’t pick between the two so it’s safe to say Kagawa brings her A game and will continue to do so.

Fair warning this left me with a terrible book hangover. [Don’t believe me? I’ve now had dreams of the characters of Soul of the Sword recreating Rurouni Kenshin in their own style.] This was hands down a 5/5 Cups of Coffee read for me and I’d be happy to write another five paragraphs but I’ll leave it alone for now.

What am I supposed to do while waiting for book 3? Reread already? Seems acceptable…anything to fill the hole in my heart that Soul of the Sword has left.

About the Author

Picture used from her website
Julie Kagawa is the author of the bestselling Iron Fey and Talon series. She lives with her husband, two obnoxious cats, one Australian Shepherd who is too smart of his own good, ant he latest addition, a hyper-active Papillon puppy.

Rest of the Tour Schedule

SoulOfTheSword_BlogTour

 

The Heart of Stone [Ben Galley Ultimate Blog Tour!]

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Merciless. Murderer. Monster. He has been called many names in his time.

Built for war and nothing else, he has witnessed every shade of violence humans know, and he has wrought his own masterpieces with their colours. He cared once, perhaps, but far too long ago. He is bound to his task, dead to the chaos he wreaks for his masters.

Now, he has a new master to serve and a new war to endure. In the far reaches of the Realm, Hartlund tears itself in two over coin and crown. This time he will fight for a boy king and a general bent on victory.

Beneath it all he longs for change. For something to surprise him. For an end to this cycle of warfare.

Every fighter has a last fight. Even one made of stone.

Where to Buy

 

Amazon

 

My Review

When asked to join this tour I was perusing all the books, they all sounded good but for those of you who have been keeping an eye on my blog a little, well, I’ve done 10 tours so far this month with two more to go. So. even though I wanted to read all of them, I had to limit myself and pick one and just read samples off Amazon of the others to satisfy my curiosity. In the end I went with ‘The Heart of Stone’ and I have not one regret in having picked this book. It floored me, I figured I was going to like it [I mean, hello, that’s why I chose it] but I didn’t think I was going to absolutely love it.

Golems are scarce now, and that’s being optimistic. The tools have war have been widely down to a rare few, and Task is rare than most. He is a golem who upon his ‘birth’ dared to ask ‘Why?’ It was in that first part of the prologue alone that I was hooked. I knew Task would be the sort of character I would love.

Ben Galley gives us some really diverse character personalities; Task the golem who defies his creator long after his death by having emotions, Lesky the girl who seems to be more than just a ‘slip of a girl’ and not just in her inner strength but down to her very roots -and one that shows compassion-, and Alabast. Alabaster is the knight who has been, he slew a dragon, made a name for himself, and then coasted on that name and reputation until there was nothing but fumes to coast on and now he’s forced into a role or face the consequences of over borrowing.

Alabast certainly had the most character development out of all of them and Lesky the most actual growth in terms of what she thinks she’s capable of and what she is, while Task proved that his emotions and being can be used more than just as tools by a Master. He is his own and he can decide his fate. The journeys they all went on were so personal and deep and you felt as if you were there along side them, but even the side characters were fleshed out so well that I was left beyond impressed. Galley has used his style in all the best ways, highlighting his strengths by writing a deep immersive fantasy. His world building is incredible and I only wish I could have gotten to know more, to have more of a backstory to what was going on, but I still gave it five cups of coffee so obviously this fact is just me being greedy rather than being an issue.

By the end of this book I couldn’t help but pause and reflect on everything that occurred within its pages and I realized before I hit the halfway mark this might be a new favorite, and well, my intuition was correct. This book will forever hold a place on my favorite fantasies lists and Task will remain one of my favorite protagonists of 2019. If you’re wanting a bit of a slow building fantasy with deep storylines and fluid writing, I suggest Task and his crew to you all. If you have a chance, go read The Heart of Stone.

 

About the Author

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Ben Galley is an author of dark and epic fantasy books who currently hails from Victoria, Canada. Since publishing his debut The Written in 2010, Ben has released a range of award-winning fantasy novels, including the weird western Bloodrush and the epic standalone The Heart of Stone. He is also the author of the brand new Chasing Graves Trilogy.

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The Tour

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I want to thank @WriteReadsTours for inviting me to be part of this tour. This was such a fun thing to be a part of and I have to say, in my opinion, Ben Galley deserves this massive tour. His writing is great and his style and stories have really impressed me. I’ve already ordered the short story Shards, mostly because I need more amazing Task in my life! To see who else is on the tour for the other books, go ahead and click on the link for WriteReadsTours and check out the other books/bloggers!