Review: Kogitsune (Takamagahara Monogatari #1) by Xia Xia Lake

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Kogitsune (Takamagahara Monogatari #1)

by Xia Xia Lake

A coming of age story set in medieval Japan. A friendship between a young fox god and his human childhood friend is built on deception, but grows stronger and purer as it’s driven by common purpose. However, the vast differences of the worlds they live in can’t be ignored, as their relationship is frowned upon by both humans and spirits.

As Kogitsune’s feelings for his human friend turn from friendship to something deeper, he will learn that love can be all consuming and heartbreaking.

‘Kogitsune’ is a retelling of the famous Noh theater play ‘Kokaji’, a story about a swordsmith who requests the help of the Inari god to build a sword for emperor Ichijo (980-1011).

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Kogitsune on Goodreads


Review

*I received this novel for free in exchange for an honest review*

Rating: 4 stars

Kogitsune is a short story and is the first in the Takamagahara Monogatari series. It is a romantic retelling of the play Kokaji, which tells the story of a swordsmith who is tasked with forging a sword for the Emperor Ichijo, and his quest to seek help from the Inari God to do this.

Kogitsune is a short yet beautiful read focusing on the young God Kogitsune’s life and his growing friendship with the human Kokaji. Growing up under the tutelage of his father, the God Inari, Kogitsune is warned of the dangers of humans and that his friendship with Kokaji will only bring him pain. To begin with, Kogitsune sees any heartache as another lesson in life but when Kokaji does seemingly betray their friendship he understands the depth of his feelings.

This story is extremely well-written. It is steeped in the detail of Japanese folklore, which the author has managed to combine beautifully into a tender love story between the two main characters. I enjoyed the use of Japanese words and phrases, most of which I was familiar with already but there are meanings there too for readers who are not. The romance aspect is subtle and almost bitter-sweet as the story reaches its conclusion. I am looking forward to reading further books in the series.

Review: Tears of Winter (Light from Aphelion #2) by Martine Carlsson

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Tears of Winter (Light from Aphelion #2)

by Martine Carlsson

Paradise is an illusion, and the progressive, experimental city of Nysa Serin was living on borrowed time. The winter festivities that should have warmed everyone’s heart take the contorted face of a feast of fools. Despite their knowledge, Selen, Louis, and Lissandro are swamped by events. Falling one after the other, the sick litter the streets of Nysa Serin. A natural pestilence? The vengeful hand of the gods? Turned to ashes, Louis’s dreams slip through his fingers like a shattered cathedral of sand.

Jeopardizing its fragile stranglehold on the crown, the royal couple leaves for a desperate mission while, trapped inside the walls, the citizens strive to survive. Though the clock ticks on, in sickness and fear, the tensions surface and friendships are tested.

The line is thin between cowards and heroes. Should the rescuing party even make it back, the capital will never be the same again and neither will their lives. Therefore, why not haste into darkness… till death do us part?

Purchase Link: Amazon.com

Tears of Winter on Goodreads


Review

*I received this novel for free in exchange for an honest review*

Rating: 5 stars

Tears of Winter is the second instalment of the Light from Aphelion series. After the events of book 1, Louis and Selen have begun making Louis’s visions for Nysa Serin a reality. All children have a right to access an education, city infrastructure is vastly improved and all citizens are treated equally and fairly. However the society is built on the fragilities of the system before it and an epidemic of plague threatens to destroy all that they have accomplished so far. Louis, Selen, Lissandro and their allies set off to find a cure whilst desperately hoping that not only is their mission is successful, that they make it back to the city in time.

Book two is a lot darker in tone than the first novel in the series, which really fits giving the setting and just what is at stake. I very much enjoyed seeing more of the Kingdom and also the addition of new characters, all of whom have their own motivations for joining the heroes on their mission. The description is as rich as ever and so immersive that you are immediately pulled into the world. There is no lag and plenty of action to keep you turning to the next page. However my favourite aspect of Tears of Winter has to be the characters.

On their quest Louis and Selen find themselves tested in ways that they could never imagine and even the bond between them is stretched to almost breaking point. When Selen voices a desire for something that is seemingly impossible as well as something that Louis would never contemplate, it creates a rift between them at a time when they need to be united more than ever. I really felt for both characters in these moments. I could see where they were both coming from and whilst neither of them were really at fault, it took them a long time to reconcile and come to an understanding. This rift really shows how they have both developed, but despite wanting something different their love for each other means that they can find a way to resolve this. The character development was especially great to see in Selen as I was worried that he would become more of a supporting character, but he just goes from strength to strength in Tears of Winter. He complements the head-strong, and at times reckless, Louis perfectly.

You also learn more about Lissandro’s character and the truth about who he really is. I had suspected in book 1 and I was thrilled to have my suspicions confirmed. It makes a very interesting twist and one that I hope is expanded on further in book 3.

Tears of Winter is the perfect follow up to Rising from Dust and if you haven’t checked the series out yet then I definitely recommend that you do so!

Review: Saints and Curses by Alexis Lantgen

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Saints and Curses by Alexis Lantgen

The short stories in Saints and Curses explore fantasy and magic from a wide variety of perspectives and settings. The stories range in tone from lighthearted modern fantasy in stories like Elven Carols, to the dark and ominous stories like Erlkonig, and in time from the late antiquity to the modern day. Magic, like all forms of power and like human nature, has two sides, light and dark. Whether we find (or become) a saint or a curse depends on our circumstances. And, of course, our choices.

Purchase Link: Amazon.com

Saints and Curses on Goodreads


Review

*I received this novel for free in exchange for an honest review*

Rating: 5 stars

Saints and Curses is an extremely well-written collection of short stories with magic and curses as the theme running throughout them. I really enjoyed the mix of modern and historic fantasy tales, each with plenty of twists to keep the reader guessing as to how they will end.

My favourites in the collection are:
Grackle – a poignant tale with a lovely ending.
Cinnamon Ultra Pumpkinator – an amusing tale of the perils of addiction with a fun and very relatable main character
The Rats – An excellent and original retelling of The Pied Piper of Hamelin

The collection has an outstanding array of very different tales with something for everyone. I highly recommend checking them out!

Review: Rising from Dust (Light from Aphelion 1) by Martine Carlsson

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Rising from Dust (Light from Aphelion 1) by Martine Carlsson

FIGHT FOR JUSTICE. DIE FOR LOVE.

War is raging in the kingdom of Trevalden. Up north in the Frozen Mountains, the amnesic hermit Selen survives as the pariah in his community. Drawn by a mysterious call, he travels to Trevalden and meets Louis, an enigmatic archivist. Together, as Selen remembers his past, they face the desolation of war with a group of misfits. For the sake of the people, they fight back the king’s armies, prepared to meet death…or a new dawn. As Selen and Louis understand that their feelings for each other may be their undoing, they are torn between their emotions and the greater good. But in the end, what is the greater good?

While they try to find their place in an unknown world, they carry a secret that will shatter the society and make them realize that the hardest fights are not against dragons but within oneself.

Rising from Dust is an epic journey where gritty fantasy and history cross paths. A graphic story of loyalty, violence, magic, court plots, and unwavering love where no one is what they seem.

Purchase: Amazon.com

Rising from Dust on Goodreads


Review

*I received this novel for free in exchange for an honest review*

Rating: 5 stars

When strangers Louis, Selen and Lissandro are mysteriously drawn together they find themselves not only fighting for the land that they have been re-born into but also piecing together their former lives. Each is terrified that the tragedies that befell them the first time will repeat themselves once more.

Louis is a heroic warrior who does not hesitate to put his friends’ lives above his own. Driven by his strong ideals and desire to make the world a better place, his determination sometimes prevents him from seeing the truth in how things are vs how he wishes to see it.

Selen, whilst also a warrior, is a gentler character and his sense of compassion is also a positive influence on Louis. He is fiercely loyal to his friends and shares Louis vision for the future of their world.

Selen and Louis are in a relationship which, if discovered, would get them both killed. Their relationship is one of my favourite aspects of the novel. It is beautifully written and you can really feel just how much they care for each other.

Lissandro’s character has a more accepting and practical view of the world that they now live in. His advice and guidance to Louis is more practical and he’s not afraid to speak out if he feels his friend is making a mistake. I feel that perhaps his character was not explored fully in book 1 and look forward to seeing much more of him in book 2.

I absolutely loved this first novel in the Light from Aphelion series. It combines two of my favourite genres; fantasy and history. The immersive world and wonderful main characters draws you in right from the beginning and I just didn’t want to put this book down. I enjoyed slowly uncovering the details of the characters previous lives and how they were linked to world-history. The detail in the battle scenes, whilst quite graphic in places, was brilliantly written and I really could imagine that I was right there along with them.

There is never a dull moment in this novel and there are plenty of twists and turns that I did not see coming. The finale of book 1 is beautiful and couldn’t be more perfect.
I can’t recommend Rising from Dust (Light from Aphelion 1) enough and cannot wait to read book 2 in the series.

 

Release Blitz: Repeat Offence by Jackie Keswick

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Repeat Offence

Author: Jackie Keswick

Publisher: Jackie Keswick

Cover Artist: Pavelle Art

Release Date: August 14, 2019

Genre/s: Fantasy/metaphysical, fantasy/paranormal

Trope/s: abiding love, defeating death,

Themes: actions have consequences, paying the price for compassion, perseverance, triumph over adversity

Heat Rating: 0 flames. No sexual content. (It’s a love story, but not a romance)

Repeat Offence is a fantasy story, told in first person POV. It’s NOT a romance, and there’s no sex, but I consider it a love story. Apart from the first and last scene, the two MCs are apart. Readers can infer that it’s m/m, but Taz’s (the narrator’s) gender is never mentioned in any way. It fits into general fantasy as much as into LGBT+.

Length: 20 000 words/66 pages

It is a standalone story.

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Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon It

Blurb

It should have ended with their deaths.

But dying in a wash of blood was just the beginning.

Sentenced to eternal life for sacrificing themselves in battle, warriors Taz and Hiro must take turns living as human and Guardian on opposing sides of the veil with only a chance to catch a glance of each other in the moment of death.

Until an attack forces Taz and Hiro to make a choice. Should they cling to what little solace they’ve carved out for themselves? Or should they sacrifice their lives to save countless others and risk the wrath of the Judges for a second time?

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Review: Ash and Steel (Soul Stones 0.3) by T.L. Branson

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Ash and Steel (Soul Stones 0.3) by T.L. Branson

Alexander Drygo, king of Sunbury, is reeling from the loss of his wife. Despite his best efforts using an incredible power, she is no longer among the living.

When a rival kingdom seeks to take advantage of this delicate time in Drygo’s life, he is thrust into a battle for the future of his kingdom.

Can he save his people where he could not save his queen?

 

Purchase Link: Amazon.com

Ash and Steel on Goodreads


Review

Rating: 4 stars

*I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review*

Still mourning the death of his wife, King Alexander Drygo faces a new battle. A battle to save his kingdom and retrieve a stone with more power than it appears.

Ash and Steel serves as an introduction to the Soul Stones series. It is a short, action-packed read giving the reader some insight into the motivations of King Drygo as well as setting up the series. This short-story is very well-written and gripping, and does a great job of encouraging the reader to pick up the main series. A quick and very enjoyable fantasy read.

 

 

 

Review: The Everlast (Book #1 of The Everlast Series) by Jack Kavanagh

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The Everlast (Book #1 of The Everlast Series) by Jack Kavanagh

“You may act for yourself, do as you please, but listen well; act on behalf of others—attempt this and I shall make you pay dearly for it”.

Karakia hears a voice in her head calling her down to the shore. An eight foot angel is waiting for her by the rocks. The angel tells her that the world is about to be overcome by the Mastery—a group of people who have allied themselves with a dark spirit and wish to bring the world into a permanent state of war. Karakia has a difficult decision to make; stay at home with her family or set out against the very people behind this attack. Karakia knows that by confronting the Mastery she is putting her own life in danger, a risk she is willing to take— but will her family be safe? After the fog lifts on the day of the attack, it becomes clear that nothing has changed in the world, except for the people themselves; they can no longer communicate with their angels, they can no longer fly, and there are others coming forward, speaking of a vengeful God and chastisements from heaven.

A thrilling fantasy adventure, full of mystery and suspense—enter the world of angels and dark spirits, where the smallest choice could bring peace or war, life or death.

Purchase Link: Amazon.com

The Everlast on Goodreads


Review

Rating: 2.5 stars

*I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review*

Karakia is an Aurora, chosen by the angels to confront a dark spirit that is determined to plunge all of humanity into a war. Torn between her love for her family and her desire to fulfil her destiny, Karakia sets out on a dangerous journey to confront the humans whose souls have been poisoned by demons.

I really struggled to rate this novel. The premise I liked and I did enjoy the themes running throughout the story. The novel had a dark tone but scattered within there were glimmers of lightness and hope. Karakia is a likeable protagonist and is an ever-developing character as she embarks on her journey and destiny.

However, the structure of the novel I found very confusing. It was separated into parts narrated by different characters but there was no real consistency or order to them. I struggled to follow it in places and there was also some very strange sentences and phrasing. I couldn’t decide if this was deliberate in an attempt to give the characters a regional dialect, but it only added to my confusion and there were parts I really struggled with.

Taking this into account I can really only give The Everlast 2.5 stars as for me it was somewhat of a laboured read for me.