Cover Reveal! The Immortal City

In the heart of Venice, a woman is sacrificed to a forgotten god,

sparking a mystery lost for thousands of years.”

 

The Da Vinci Code meets Discovery of Witches in this story of murder and magic

About the Book

Welcome to The Immortal City, book 1 in the Magicians of Venice series

The Magicians of Venice is a fresh and exciting new treasure hunt series featuring magic, mystery, and romance in an exhilarating blend of history and dark magic. Set against the backdrop of the beautiful city of Venice, fans of Indiana Jones and Robert Langdon will find a new favorite in Dr. Penelope Bryne, an anxiety-riddled academic. She’s fascinated with the city of Atlantis, much to the chagrin of her father and the academic community, and has devoted her life’s study to unlocking its secrets.

In The Immortal City, book one in the series, an ancient and mysterious script is found at a murder site with possible clues to the lost city of Atlantis. Determined to learn more, she agrees to help the police before the killer strikes again, and she heads to Venice in search of answers.

There she meets the enigmatic Alexis Donato, who challenges everything she thought she ever knew about Atlantis. As Alexis draws her into a dark and seductive world of magic and murder, Penelope will have to use her heart as well as her head to find the answers she seeks. With Carnivale in full swing, and time running out, Alexis and Penelope must work together to stop the killer and prevent a dark magic from pulling Venice into the sea.

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DIGITAL ARCS OF THE IMMORTAL CITY:

Book reviewers and bloggers interested in reviewing the book may request a digital ARC of The Immortal City. ARCs are available through NetGalley and at the publisher’s website.

Title: The Immortal City
Series: The Magicians of Venice, Book 1
Author: Amy Kuivalainen
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy/Adventure
Publication date: September 19, 2019
Publisher: BHC Press
Available Formats:
Hardcover, 978-1-947727-77-9, $26.95, 324 pages
Trade Softcover, 978-1-947727-79-3, $15.95, 324 pages
Ebook, 978-1-947727-78-6, $7.99
LCCN: 2018948478

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The Immortal City releases on September 19, 2019 in hardcover, trade softcover, and ebook. Preorder is currently available from select retailers.

The Inspiration Behind the Magicians of Venice Series With Author Amy Kuivalainen
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The Magicians of Venice is a three-book series and is the culmination of many weird pieces of ancient history and personal passions finally coming together.

I’ve always loved characters like Indiana Jones and Robert Langdon, but I wanted to write a story that turned the adventurer archaeologist trope on its head. It was important to me to create a female character that is not an oversexualised, badass Lara Croft figure. My character, Penelope Bryne, is an anxiety-ridden academic refusing to give up on the impossible dream of discovering Atlantis and who continues to be brave despite her failings.

I’ve always loved the legends and theories behind Atlantis and continue to this day to follow any new discoveries that might pertain to it. I wanted to play with some of the legends and mash them up with my own ideas and love of magicians, creating a story about survivors who become close to immortal because of the powerful blast that destroyed the island kingdom.

If there was ever a place that is so impossible and beautiful and could make you believe it was founded by magicians, it’s Venice. Even though my Venice obviously has many fantasy aspects, I wanted to ensure current issues were correctly portrayed especially concerning global warming, the MOSE project, the problem with cruise ships, and the impact that tourism has on the city.

While The Immortal City (book one) is mainly a magical, murder mystery, Sea of the Dead (book two) and The King’s Seal (book three) have a treasure hunt feel. As a student of ancient history, I’ve studied the Dead Sea Scrolls, and I knew about the discovery of a new cave in 2017 and was determined to write it into my book. There is still a lot of mystery surrounding the scrolls, and I wanted to play into that while incorporating my own magical twist and theories of why the Essenes vanished.

I grew up on fairy tales and mythology, and wanted to not only write about a famous relic that I’ve always been fascinated with, but also one that mainstream entertainment hasn’t plundered. Like Atlantis, the ring of King Solomon has been the centre of many legends, especially from those found within the pages of One Thousand and One Nights, and it was a natural fit to a story about defeating a demon prince.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Amy Kuivalainen is a Finnish-Australian writer who is obsessed with magical wardrobes, doors, auroras and burial mounds that might offer her a way into another realm. Until that happens, she plans to write about monsters, magic, mythology and fairy tales because that’s the next best thing. Amy is the author of The Firebird Fairytales Trilogy and The Blood Lake Chronicles series that mash up traditional tales and mythology in new and interesting ways.

EXCLUSIVE DIGITAL CONTENT!

Be sure to visit The Immortal City’s publicity page to download free exclusive digital content, including posters, phone wallpapers and more!

 

Thank you, BHC Press for the chance to do a cover real on such a great sounding novel!

Anything with Venice involved is always a yes, anything with Atlantis involved is always a yes, which means this is indeed a double yes from me and you can bet I’ll be reading this ASAP.

 

WWW Wednesday

It’s time for the WWW Wednesday meme brought to you all by Taking on a World of Words

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What are you currently reading?

GoodReads Blurb:

Sarah Bennett has two secrets: she sees ghosts, and she is in love with a spy.

When Sarah takes a job with occult expert Dr Matthew Geisler, he promises to help her understand the sorrowful spirit that seems to have attached itself to her.

As Sarah struggles to cope with the ghostly presence, she runs into Zeke, the man who left her six months earlier and is recovering from injuries suffered in an alleged accident. But Zeke has secrets of his own, and when an attempt is made on Geisler’s life, Sarah finds herself caught in a struggle between the living and the dead.

Unsure who she can trust, Sarah must solve the mystery of the soul determined to haunt her, and save Dr Geisler and herself from an unknown threat.

[This book was previously published as WEEPING IN THE WINGS.]

I actually just finished this two minutes ago, but we’ll roll with it for my current read as you know, I haven’t started anything new in the last two minutes. I actually really enjoyed this, and while there was some confusion for me in the first couple of chapters (it wasn’t made clear it was the SECOND in a series but that’s been fixed, thanks to Isabelle) I was able to push past it and really just enjoy it. It’s a supernatural mystery, a medium who wants to solve crimes and it reminded me of a more adult-aimed The Mediator type series in a way, at least where the ghosts were concerned. I would totally recommend this one for those who like this genre, I’ll have a review posted of it tomorrow.

What did you recently finish reading?

I could post the GoodReads blurb for like the 80th time about this one, but I’ll spare you, I already reviewed it and that can be found here if you’re curious! Another top notch 2019 release and I was pretty happy to read it, and that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t read Kal’s awesome review of it. This book was like ‘oh, you have feelings, great, I’m gonna exploit them and make you weep.’ So, it comes highly recommended from me!

What do you think you’ll read next?

GoodReads Blurb:

For the past three years, Brynna has been patrolling the streets of Forcadel as a masked vigilante, protecting the innocent and beating up bad guys. Her current target is Lord Beswick, a slumlord businessman who keeps the townsfolk in a vicious poverty cycle. But one fateful evening, she’s captured by Felix, the captain of the king’s guard, and told a shocking truth: her father and brother are dead, and she needs to hang up her mask and become queen.

Before long, she negotiates a deal with Felix: attend to her royal duties during the day and continue her vigilante mission to take out Lord Beswick at night – at least until her coronation. But the politics of Forcadel are as volatile as the streets, and Brynna isn’t sure whom she can trust in the castle. With two royals dead in less than a month, she must use all her wits to make sure she isn’t the third.

I have actually been itching to start this one!! But! I wanted to make sure to do my eARCs in some sort of reading order by when they released, so, NOW I finally get to read this one and it’s my last eARC I really ‘needed’ to get through for my monthly goal, though I did add Nation of the Beasts, we’ll see if I get through it by this week, probably not, I’m not a machine and eventually have to take a break from reading lol. Anyway, I’ll talk more about our Princess Vigilante in The City of Veils as the publication draws nearer. [April 16th for those who are curious]

Have you read any of these? What did you finish or start this week?

Toodles!

The Fever King eARC Review

[Note: I bought this on Kindle the day it came out and then got approved for the eARC on NetGalley the next day, so I’m using my Kindle version for the review, but, I’ll be posting this for NetGalley too so I’ve labelled it as an eARC Review. I received this book via the publishers on NetGalley in exchange for my completely honest review of the novel.]


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GoodReads Blurb: 

In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

First off I love this idea of magic being a virus, that it’s not supposed to be a gift but yet still we have witchings.

Also, while magic is a good part and we have witchings which are the centre of a Holocaust scaled genocide in the US, Lee also gives us a good hard look at immigrants dealing with a country where the virus is an even more common fear for them, and so they go to another country, Carolinia to escape the horrors of Atlantia. And it is a beautifully tragic parallel to today’s world and its problem with immigration. People just wanting to find a place to call home where they can feel safe. Not to mention I just felt the political games were well done and my favorite part of the book.

There’s a dystopia really when you look at it as a world where we have failed to keep others safe, and that the immigrants are suffering and there’s a deadly virus that means magic can kill you.

Noam is half Latino half Jewish, and bisexual. I love that he talks about his ex-girlfriend while also acknowledging he has feelings for men. [Won’t disclose who as I’d hate to ruin the story for you all!]

Lee really brings a very teenage-like presence to all the teenage characters which sometimes authors can forget to do she also writes some tragic scenes and they are beautiful and Victoria Lee likes to tear out your emotions and dangle them above your head. Not to mention, and this is super important to me, but all of Noam’s actions have a consequence for better or worse, there’s no question about what happened to him because he did XYZ and I freakin’ LOVE that.

I love the little flashes of Calix information and I wish there would have been more if anything I would say maybe the pacing felt off at times because at moments I would pause and think so much as happened in so little time or so little has happened and yet I feel like I read 200 pages. That combined with the fact that it wasn’t always clear how much time had passed made pacing one of like the two issues for me. So pacing and I wish there would have been more of Noam and his crush interacting, it felt like we didn’t have a lot of time with them and so their feelings are sometimes a bit hard for me to believe. Those are probably my only complaints.

So let’s break it down into my usual Pros & Cons!

Pros:

– Great diversity and not just with Noam but overall!
– Dystopia feel which is such a direct parallel to our own problems, it’s scary but I love it. She dishes out some truths.
– Calix Lehrer is amazing and I love the peeks at his past.
– Noam’s power is pretty cool
– Magic is a virus, but witchings exist, both concepts are awesome
– Ames (Carter Ames) was my favorite minor characterCons:
– Not enough of Noam and his LI to always make the depth of their feelings believable (you learn that about a year has passed but that isn’t stated which is why I complained about pacing)
– I’m being greedy but I wanted more of those Calix snippets
– Pacing is off and not always clear
– Would have loved more of a look at what it was like for the immigrants, perhaps we will get that in the next book though.
– Dara wasn’t always easy to be sympathetic for at first but I applaud how she handled this.
– And apparently, like most books in 2019 The Fever King just wants to crush your soul and stomp on your feels.Content Warning: Hint of rape/sexual assault, though not gone into detail. Loss of family members and violent deaths. This is a more in-depth content warning from Lee herself.

I really can’t wait to read the next book and I can’t wait to see more of Noam!

 

Stardust Review

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This was my first Neil Gaiman novel! I know, insane that I haven’t read any of his works yet! I have Good Omens and American Gods on my list to read eventually but for now, I will have to suffice with just one novel. And let me tell you, I’m so happy I picked this one! I really enjoyed Gaiman’s style of writing and I was totally enamoured with the way he described the faerie world and I loved every single creature in it.

I do have a dirty secret to admit.

I saw the movie first, I didn’t know it was a book or who Neil Gaiman was at the time, I had been reading mostly The Mortal Instrument series, the Twilight series [where I threw the final book against the wall, but that’s a story for another time] and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and of course, graduating H.S. and starting Uni, so, I was a bit busy to notice the fact that Stardust was a novel when I first saw the film in 2007 [I told you all I was old].

Guess what?

love both the book and the movie. I thought the movie was a nice adaptation of it, and quite frankly I usually enjoy the movie versions of things…I can honestly say there’s only a handful of movie adaptations where I’m like ready to fight them on it.

Neil Gaiman does a great job with faerie tales from what I hear and this proved it to be true thus far at least in this novel for me. I cheered Tristan on as much as I did in the movie and I think I did like the book’s final scene between the Witch Queen and the Star better than the movie if I were going to nitpick anything.

I don’t want to give too much away and I really think the book speaks for itself, Tristan Thorn goes off to find a star as the woman he loves asks of him, and along the way he explores the faerie world and learns to become part of something that’s more than the town of Wall.

The book was also very quotable, though I think this was my favorite quote as someone who is constantly filled with wanderlust:

Have been unavoidably detained by the world. Expect us when you see us.”

I also read a version which gave a cute tiny short story about a girl and Wall and I hope someday Neil Gaiman decides to give us more from Wall and Tristan Thorn, I know he had plans too but, I think we all know this is one BUSY man!

Truth be told I also would have no complaints if he ever decided to write a book solely about the Witch’s servant [not giving anything away for those who haven’t read it, so sorry for using such vague terms for both those who haven’t read it and those who have].

If you’re looking for a book where you can just get lost in a faerie tale and it’s not filled with modern complexities but still has a modern feel, I would really recommend this. [I love modern retellings but sometimes it’s nice to have something more along the vein of the old faerie tales but, hey, I love everything usually lol]

Yet another five cups of coffee from me, and I can’t wait to read my next Neil Gaiman novel…but…*Stares at her NetGalley list* Well, it could be a while!

Tomorrow, expect mini-reviews for The Fourth Courier and Queen of Sea and Stars both who I have major bones to pick with lol.

Descendant of the Crane eARC Review

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GoodReads:

Tyrants cut out hearts. Rulers sacrifice their own.

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, dreaming of an unremarkable life. But when her beloved father is found dead, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of a surprisingly unstable kingdom. What’s more, Hesina believes that her father was murdered—and that the killer is someone close to her.

Hesina’s court is packed full of dissemblers and deceivers eager to use the king’s death for political gain, each as plausibly guilty as the next. Her advisers would like her to blame the neighboring kingdom of Kendi’a, whose ruler has been mustering for war. Determined to find her father’s actual killer, Hesina does something desperate: she enlists the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by
death, since magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of Yan at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?”

It’s rare that I find myself so completely infatuated with a book. I gush about a few, sure, but I mean this one was the sort that from the first chapter you knew you were reading something quite amazing.

Not only does it engage you in the first chapter but there was not one character that I wasn’t completely interested in, there were no slumps or any boring filling, it was pure gold from start to finish. Usually, I do a pros and cons list when I write a review on my blog and this time the cons will be superfluous ones. I’m sure there are faults but anything that might have stood out to me didn’t due to beautiful prose and quite talented world-building skills. But more than anything, Joan He had a way of making you feel for her characters in a way that I really hadn’t in probably over a decade of reading.

This isn’t a ‘Chinese-inspired Game of Thrones.’ This is an amazing work of fiction all on its own, He’s story is her own with no shadows of GoT and she can clearly stand on her own two feet without such a comparison needed. I would dare say her story even had more heart than GoT and I’m a big fan of those books, but really, Descendant of the Crane is this incredible fantasy book that contains the sort of world that we don’t have enough of in books.

Hesina was relatable the whole way through, even if you didn’t agree with her decisions, you could completely understand why she made her choices. The love between her and her father also made me super emotional at times to the point where I was like ‘who is this person reading this’ I can connect with books and I’ll feel things lol I’m soulless [inserted another ginger joke, go me], not emotionless, but, it was just the exact sort of feelings I could connect with.

Pros:
– I love every single one of those nuggets in the book
– Mei kicks so much butt
– Hesina and her Father’s love
– Hesina and her siblings
– The politics are pretty much exactly the kind of horror you’d imagine in their time or our own, it’s very believable to the readers (well, to me)
– Akira

Cons:
– Could have been more Akira
– THAT ENDING THO (It’s not a con, just an OMG)
– Why wasn’t this book longer?
– My Soul is broken
-What do you do to me, Joan He?
– This book will destroy your soul and break your heart (maybe her and Wilson talked about the ways they could break hearts while writing their novels, Idk)
– Omg my heart

^ These are notes from my journal while reading it. So, take what you will, I really couldn’t come up with cons for it.

This was my first read for YARC2019!! Yay! And man what a great first read for the challenge! Also if you’re like ‘man I need to read this book now, here’s my info about what you get if you Preorder: Descendant of the Crane Preorder [Note: Bookmarks are all gone but you receive 5 character cards instead of four as compensation for the bookmarks being gone. Also, depending on when you read this, this offer may no longer be available, but as of me writing this on March 15, the preorder was still live and the form open. This giveaway is open internationally and does include library requests!]

I felt honored in being able to read an eARC of this and I’m grateful for the chance to read such an amazing book. This was also my first buddy read and it was a lot of fun! Of course, this is all my own opinion and others will not feel the same but, I stick by what I’ve said. It’s quickly been shelved on my favorites on GR and I will be closely watching for anything else Joan He will come out with from now on.

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

 

The Bird King eARC Review

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GoodReads: 

– …Fatima, a concubine in the royal court of Granada, the last emirate of Muslim Spain, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. Hassan has a secret—he can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls? As Fatima and Hassan traverse Spain with the help of a clever jinn to find safety, The Bird King asks us to consider what love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate.

So you all just saw this yesterday, but, surprise! I’m waiting until Saturday to review Descendant of the Crane and I have another review already scheduled for tomorrow, so here we go, two days in a row of The Bird King.

I really couldn’t explain why I liked this book as much as I did, I mean other than because in my opinion it was a really good book but if I were to give out a list of reasons, I’m not sure what would go on those. Wilson has a flowery sort of prose that’s really lovely to read, so that’s one, but I think the main reason would be because her characters are so beautifully human (the ones that are human!).

They are beautiful, selfish, ugly, kind, pious and sinning, and they are wonderfully flawed each and every one.

Think about it, a protagonist who is selfish but yet selfless and it isn’t grating on your nerves or made to feel fake. That said, I think it’s great because Wilson has decided to give you a protagonist that you can choose to love or hate but that will still make the story powerful.

The antagonist is frightening because of just how real they are and I always find those always make the best ‘villains’ the ones that are too plausible.

Fatima’s best friend Hassan is gay, and in the 1400s, well, it was the sort of thing the Inquisition could ‘get you’ for. But more than that, as I don’t want to spoil anything I’ll not say more about Hassan, there is this great feeling of fluidity when it comes to the sexuality of the characters.  I would say Fatima herself is maybe even more pansexual than anything? [Think Jack Harkness, she likes what she likes, but this isn’t really a romance novel]

^ Speaking on that last []^ It was a freakin’ BLESSING for me to read a story that didn’t try to force a romance down my throat, I mean with Descendant of the Crane that book was amazing, start to finish, and did its romance right as well but I’ve had this slump with people trying to force romances [I’m looking at you Ready Player One] and this was great for me. You are getting to know a different sort of love. A love of a friendship that just made my heart swell.

Wilson writes a fanciful historical fiction set during the Inquisition, the Spaniards, Granada, a Jinn (or more possibly? No spoilers), monsters human and not, adventure, loss, and the price of freedom with the worth of freedom as well. Poignant and with such a feel of humanity for better or worse, this book was well worth the read.

I would say that you have to be ready for this book, to go on this journey because I think if you’re not ready for it, it might be the reason it’ll drag for you.

I know some complained about pacing but I think because I like this sort of pacing in novel it wasn’t an issue for me, I didn’t think it went slowly but you do go from a sort of ‘frantic’ part to I guess could be seen as a lull but to me it was still on the edge of my seat type of thing. The Bird King is beautifully written and it was another great read for me, so, it’s been a nice group of great books.

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

**Content Warning:** Death, violence, and the chance the book will rip your heart out and stomp on it. But you know, no biggie. 

WWW Wednesday

It’s time for the WWW Wednesday meme brought to you all by Taking on a World of Words

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What are you currently reading?

GoodReads Blurb: – …Fatima, a concubine in the royal court of Granada, the last emirate of Muslim Spain, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. Hassan has a secret—he can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls? As Fatima and Hassan traverse Spain with the help of a clever jinn to find safety, The Bird King asks us to consider what love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate.

I’m really enjoying this book, this kind of mixture of historical fiction and magic/folklore really just speaks to me. I know some have complained about the pacing over 30% in, I haven’t faced that, yet, could be on the horizon though, who knows! So far it’s been really keeping me intrigued and entertained! (Actually, I just finished this an hour ago but I haven’t started anything new since then so pffft, it stays)

What did you recently finish reading?

I’d give you the blurb but I just did like two posts ago and I’m doing a review post on this, this week so I don’t want to be so redundant. Just know, this is five cups of coffee on my rating and shelved on my favorites list on GoodReads. It was amazing, I’m having a slight book hangover but knowing how much I have to get through, I have no choice but to buck up and move on!

What do you think you’ll read next?

GoodReads Blurb:

In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

I’m super excited my friend’s FB Bookclub picked my suggestion for to read next, I got approved for an eARC for this after it was published, funnily enough, I had just bought it anyway, so, I suppose it was meant to be! I’m really looking forward to it, but I also need to get through six more eARCs for this month to meet some goals. Anyway, here you go, my WWW Wednesday!

Toodles!