#BookReview Valyo Rising by R.A. Mendsen

A little birdie recommended Valyo Rising to me, and man they were spot on!

R.A. Mendsen has crafted one truly fantastical journey that will give you The Witcher and Game of Thrones vibe. And, if you LOVE LOVE LOVE fantasy, you’ll be totally addicted to this book.

Now, you need to keep in mind that fantasy is not a genre I venture into often. I haven’t found much luck with fantasy so I’ve avoided it unless I absolutely want to read the book. That being said, my views on fantasy are definitely not the end all, be all. I’m not some book reviewing wizard about what works in fantasy.

I’d like to use the word swashbuckling for this book because it seems fitting, but that gives me pirates vibe. The level of fantastical fun that Pirates of the Carribean gave me the first time I saw it was the same level of fun I had reading this book. It’s packed full of high stakes, maxed out fantasy and a wicked hunt.

Now, what is this book about?
The seventh son of the seventh son has always been said to have magical gifts according to lore, and in Valyo Rising this appears to be accurate. Our lead has visions of death and fear, and must try to survive in a brutal world with his siblings. There’s drama though, is the seventh child the magical one, The Valyo? Or is the seventh son? These siblings try to survive in a wicked world full of evil people, all the while trying to deal with the fantastical world elements coming at them from all angles.

This book is one hundred percent R rated, so I don’t recommend if you don’t like brutal scenes. I relate it to the rating Game of Thrones would have, for a comparison. This isn’t a book I’d go recommending to your middle grade and YA fantasy lovers. Dayne’s horror is absolutely brutal and should be read with careful eyes.

I picked two parts of this book I really enjoyed, even though the entire book is absolutely delightful:
1. Desyderia is a pretty name that I have no idea how to pronounce.
2. Linnea is sinister, scary yet sultry and I am totally enchanted by her character.

My biggest flaws were:
1. Similar names. I literally had to keep a little note to myself since I was reading this book on and off for weeks. Having lots of characters has always been a turn off for me, and similar names made it more confusing. Most fantasy readers are used to this though, so it shouldn’t be an issue for anyone else. The characters are well written and have lots to do on their own, so don’t be worried on that front.

Overall, this story about a group of kids trying to survive in a fantastical, dark world is a real hit! If you love epic fantasy then you’ll absolutely adore this book. I can’t recommend it enough! R.A. Mendsen has a way with words.

Be warned though, this book is long! Just the way epic fantasy should be.

Five out of five stars.

I received a free copy of this book from the author, R.A. Mendsen, in exchange for an honest review.

 

You can find out more about this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

You can find R.A. Mendsen on:
Goodreads
https://indiepublishauthors.wixsite.com/ramendsen

 

If you love fantastical fun, here’s some other books featured on my blog that you might enjoy:
#TopBooksList Briar’s Top Fantasy Reads, Part 1
Book Review: NYV: Punk by K.D. McQuain
#BookReview Bittersweet Symphony by Rebecca McNutt

 

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#BookReview Blood Lust by Alexandra Ivy

Blood Lust by Alexandra Ivy is the perfect mix of action, romance and drama!

Bas and Myst have two of the coolest names I’ve ever seen in a book, let me say that outright. And now, onto the review!

I’ve been hoarding Alexandra Ivy books on my shelves for years now, so I was thrilled to finally pick up one of the books hanging around on my shelves. This book was a lovely book to start off with, even if it was third in the series. I had no problem jumping into this story and I fell in love with these mysteriously epic characters! In this book, Myst and Bas have a young girl named Molly (she has such a normal name for her parents having cool ones, just saying…) and she brings them back together. Bas, the assassin, and Myst, the woman who’s seen a very important vision, are such a strangely well paired couple. They are hot and bothered and ready to fight.

I loved that this book wasn’t purely romance – I’ve gotten tired of the “this is a fantasy book” but it really is all romance trope that I’ve been seeing lately. Having this book full of intense drama and action with the romance coming in closer to the end felt REALLY nice. These two characters are definitely made for the romance sphere, but they also have such incredible back stories that it would have been a waste to not explore them. So, kudos to Alexandra Ivy for making this book so different.

My notes on the book are as followed:
1. You can see the ending coming from a mile away, but that’s probably just me reading too much and watching too many movies.
2. This book is easy to jump into as a stand alone, but I might have understood a little bit more of the world building if I had read the first two books in the series.
3. The fantasy in this book is REALLY COOL. You can tell a world is being built around this series, so I really hope there’s more books to come.
4. I love the relationship between Bas and Myst. They are sassy, sarcastic and yet romantic at all the right times.
5. The story felt “real” – you can believe that Bas and Myst would go save their daughter. All of the plot points didn’t feel forced and worked really well within the story as a whole.
6. If I had to pick one negative for me, it would be that the book felt just a little too long. Some scenes could have been cut out and the story would have made just as much sense.

Overall, I really liked this book! It was a great mix of fantasy, action and romance and I’d highly recommend it to someone looking to fill the void in those genres. I wouldn’t recommend purely binging it. I liked it much more when I was able to set it down and jump back into the world.

Four out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check out some other books and reviews you might enjoy:
#TopBooksList Briar’s Top Fantasy Reads, Part 1
#BookReview Light My Fire by Katie MacAlister
#BookReview Stolen by Kelley Armstrong

 

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#BookReview A Play of Shadow by Julie E. Czerneda

A Play of Shadow by Julie E. Czerneda is a fantastical novel packed full of action.

I will admit that this book was hard for me to get through. My best bet is because I haven’t read the first novel in this series, so I just didn’t know half of what had occurred before this novel. That doesn’t mean this book isn’t good though! It was just very hard for me to push myself to read it. It almost felt like a chore because I couldn’t comprehend some of the past experiences of the characters. I did look up some information on the last book, but it didn’t help me. That being said, I don’t recommend jumping into this series without starting from the beginning.

This book did feel fantastical though! Julie is a truly mesmerizing author and I love her talent. I felt like I was reading a Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones styled tale. It’s full of fantasy, action and lore that was truly interesting.

I did like Jenn and Bannan together. They felt like a real couple and the were truly lovable. I found their development to be my favourite part of the story. I fell in love with them instantly despite not knowing what happened to them in the previous book. Shout out to Julie for doing so well with them!

The magic in this book was also fun to experience. It didn’t feel like the typical dramatic magic I’ve seen in romance novels (which is where I commonly see magic), so I enjoyed Julie’s spin on it.

Overall, not reading the first book really screwed me over with this book. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I read it in order the way it was intended. I think big fantasy lovers will enjoy this book way more than I do. I like to dabble in fantasy, but it’s not really my scene. Those who love fantasy will devour this book so quickly and will truly love it. I’m just not made for this type of novel! So I do truly think this book is amazing, but in my opinion it doesn’t do it for me as a reader.

Two out of five stars – since it was really hard to get into and really hard for me to get invested in.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check out some more of my reviews that you may enjoy if you love fantasy:

#BookReview Marianne by Ruth Miranda

Book Review: HALFWAY DEAD (HALFWAY WITCHY #1) by TERRY MAGGERT

#BookReview Elves Get Organized? by Katja Vartiainen

#BookReview The Pharaoh’s Builderb y Heather Perrywinkle Smith

 

 

The Pharoah’s Builder was an interesting read to say the least.

I thought this book had a lot of potential – Pharaohs, magic, Egyptian lore – all of those can make a super interesting story! Think The Mummy vibes! Unfortunately, this book just didn’t hit all the notes I wanted it too. And I don’t think the second book ever came out? I’ve been looking for it but I just haven’t been able to locate it.

My first big issue with this book was that 5 year old Milla (daughter to the Pharaoh) talks more intelligently than every adult I’ve ever met. She has class that no child I’ve ever met has (and I work with a LOT of kids). That tore me right out of the story. Sure, maybe it was a different time and kids acted like mini-adults, but it was just so hard to sink into this story when I pictured the many five year olds I’ve met.

The book itself ended on a cliffhanger, while I’d rather it have ended as a closed story that could have been continued. There were so many loose ends that had just been introduced only to be ditched. Bilal’s love affair with Lilli didn’t go further, the Pharaoh’s wife’s plans didn’t go into fruition, and the magic introduced into the story was only briefly touched upon. It reminds me of movies that are ready to start a franchise but forget that they are telling a story within the movie itself.

I seriously loved Heather Perrywinkle Smith’s writing and I wanted to see this story do well. I love Egyptian lore and the book sounded SO FREAKING COOL. I see so much potential with this story and with Heather’s amazing writing, I can only imagine how great it’ll get! Hopefully she writes the next book (or I’m able to find it!) and it continues this really interesting story.

My low score is because of two reasons: Milla speaking in a more mature manner than the adults of the story and the loose ends. This book would be a four out of five if it was a little more realistic but I just couldn’t get past those points.

Two out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check out this book on:

Goodreads

Amazon.ca

Amazon.com

 

Check out some other books or reviews you may enjoy:

#BookReview The Stickman’s Legacy by Benjamin Appleby-Dean

#BookReview Sons of York by Lesley J Nickell

#BookReview The Black Mzungu by Alexandria Kathleen Osborne

 

And give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

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#BookReview Stolen by Kelley Armstrong

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Kelley Armstrong is one of my favourite authors, and not just because she’s Canadian! Her Women of the Otherworld series has always and will always knock my socks off!

This novel follows Elena yet again, but as the title suggests – this time she is “Stolen”. This book amps up the action, making it equal (if not better) to the original “Bitten” novel. I found this book so strong as a sequel, that it was really hard not picking up the third book immediately after this one! Elena and her pack, as well as the rest of the ladies that eventually lead this series, are a force to be reckoned with! Kelley knows how to write her characters strong and passionate!

This series is definitely for adults (although, there is a YA series if you’re interested…), due to some of the brutality the story can get into. It’s not an R rated novel, but the themes are better suited for adults (some mature YA audiences could easily read it, I know I originally read these as a teenager).

I also really enjoy Elena and Clay together. Their relationship isn’t the smoothest, and it has it’s rocky moments, but they work really well together. Knowing that their relationship builds well over multiple books, I can look back and be impressed with how Kelley built them over time. The other characters and their relationships are also very strong, but these two really shine in the Elena books.

Kelley will pull you in and have you hooked almost instantly. If you haven’t read anything by her, get on it! I love this author, and she always meets my expectations and surpasses them!

If there was one series I’d highly recommend, it’s this series! It has drama, action, adventure, romance and comedy all packaged into a fantastic Canadian series! It’s well worth the read, and worth every penny I’ve spent on this series (even when I accidentally bought doubles and triples of the books, because I forgot the order…whoops!). If I did have one recommendation, try not to read this series far apart from each other. I find it’s a great binge read, because the story is so full of lore and excitement!

And if you couldn’t get enough of this series, there’s a television show based off of the book (it’s pretty close for first season, but second and third are loosely based – but it’s still incredble!).

Five out of five stars! Can I make that six out of five? No? Darn. I guess it’ll stick to five!

 

Check out this book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11922.Stolen

Or purchase this book on: Amazon.com or Amazon.ca

 

If you enjoyed this review, why not check out another book you might enjoy? Quick Book Reviews: Menagerie by Rachel Vincent

And while you’re at it, follow me on Twitter to stay up to date with my latest reading antics! @ReviewAlholic

#BookReview Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling

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Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was another smash hit by JK Rowling.

This sixth book in the series, and sixth year at Hogwarts for our terrific trio, expands on the already expansive universe. Voldemort is out and about, and is becoming bigger than ever. Loyalty is tested, and no one is safe.

This had been the only book in the series I hadn’t read – years ago, for whatever reason, I could not find this book at any library or bookstore around. So, I skipped it. Looking back, I really shouldn’t have because this book gives a lot of back story into Lord Voldemort and his antics. It explains quite a bit more than the movie did and helps tie some loose ends before the final book.

In short, this book is full of tragedy. There is lots of pain and loss in this book, and it really helps grow these characters. That being said, you won’t realize this fact until you read the last book (which I already have). I definitely want to re-read the final book in this series since I have not read it since the day after it was published!

Do I recommend this series? Absolutely! Each book grows just like the characters do! It starts off on the children’s reads side and inches towards the YA side with each book. There’s lots of themes, such as friendship, loyalty, love and betrayal, and it’s just overall enjoyable. JK Rowling made a truly incredible series.

Are there problems with this story? Absolutely. Some chapters probably didn’t need to be included, some scenes seemed downright silly, but it still made for a good book.

Five out of five stars.

 

Check me out on Goodreads where I post up to date reviews as soon as they happen! Be the first in the know!! Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

Enjoy this review? Check out another one you might enjoy! Book Review: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

Lost Wolf by Stacy Claflin – Book Review

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Book Review
Book Title: Lost Wolf
Author: Stacy Claflin

Introduction: This book was a requested book review. Everything I say is honest – I have no obligation to make this a fluffy/nice review. I was given this book in return for an honest review.

Review:

Lost Wolf is the first novel in the Curse of the Moon series. It’s a fantasy, paranormal, romance-esque book.

Victoria is off at college – which I can definitely relate to. As someone who went to both University and College, I can relate to the major change. Of course, Victoria has a very different change in mind than your typical college student… She can’t remember anything – no memories, no family, nothing, na da! And for some reason, Jaguars are everywhere – in name, in physical form, and it’s just plain strange!

But what happens when someone recognizes her? Was there a kidnapping? Missing people? A death? So many questions, so many mysteries.

Starting off with this book, chapter 1 has me interested. It seems like a Young Adult-esque, kind of goofy, fun feel. I really enjoy the banter and female lead. Coming from someone who needs a fast, great start – this book has it at the beginning. After only reading the first chapter, this is definitely off to a great start.

This novel slowly reveals information to you. While I find it personally a not fitting part of the book, some readers may appreciate this. In my YA/Romance/Fantasy-esque books, I like the information up front if it’s not a mystery novel. But this novel does have a splash of mystery, so it can fit. It’s not a mark against this book, but some readers may not appreciate this aspect.

It moves at a slow pace – which for readers like me can be a major issue. I really like a fast moving story. Slow stories can be interesting, but personally it didn’t hit all the tempo notes for me. I love fast moving stories!

The voice and tone of this novel is not your typical writing voice. I liked this different writing style as someone who likes to write in this very tone. After reading other reviews, I find that this voice is what makes this book stand out. With all the fantasy/paranormal/romance books out there, having this tone made the book a little step up compared to all the other typical/mediocre novels out there.

That being said – this story has so much potential for a series. The plot itself is incredible, there are so many places this story can go! On top of that, as a reader I felt drawn towards these characters. I’m invested and I want to know more. Mixing all of that in with the lore, the backstory and fantastic voice this book has – I’m invested.

Overall, yes this story was slow. For me, that would have been a deal breaker if this story wasn’t so intriguing. Were there general issues with the plot or side comments? Yes, but there always are in all books these days. If you can look past the small, silly issues and you don’t typically get hung up on small plot holes/issues then this book will be great for you!

Four out of five stars.

Quick Review: Hashtag Magic: Blue Screen of Death by J. Steven Young

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Photo via Goodreads.

 

Hashtag Magic Blue Screen of Death was a sweet novel that bordered on paranormal and fantasy fiction.

Blue Screen of Death seemed like it was trying to be the next Harry Potter for middle school aged children but with the desire to also be a Young Adult novel. I thoroughly enjoyed the plot line and the writing style, which seemed to be aimed at the Young Adult spectrum. Although, the plot itself seemed geared towards a younger audience.

I really enjoyed reading the novel, but I found that the plot became to confusing and needed a lot of explanation. Despite thoroughly reading this novel, I kept going back and re-reading parts to understand what was going on. What were these Runes described? Why was there a blue cat? There were far to many questions for me than answers.

Despite these minor issues, I really enjoyed this novel. It was cute, well written and well planned out.

Two out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.