BOOK REVIEW: Mystic Dragon by Jason Denzel

cover132474-mediumTitle & Author: Mystic Dragon, Jason Denzel
Publication Date & Publisher: July 17, 2018, Macmillan-Tor/Forge
Genre(s): Sci Fi & Fantasy
My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Description (from Goodreads):

Mystic Dragon: The enchanting epic fantasy series from Jason Denzel, the founder of Dragonmount

Seven years have passed since Pomella AnDone became the unlikely apprentice to Mystic Grandmaster Faywong. Despite having attained significant accomplishments as a Mystic, Pomella feels incomplete. She laments that her Master isn’t teaching her quickly enough.

As a rare celestial event approaches, Pomella feels her lack of experience more than ever. The Mystical realm of Fayün is threatening to overtake the mortal world, and as the two worlds slowly blend together, Moth is thrown into chaos. People begin to vanish or are killed outright. Mystics from across the world gather to protect them, among them Shevia, a dark and brilliant prodigy whose mastery of the Myst rivals even that of the greatest High Mystics.

Shevia will challenge Pomella in every possible way, from her mastery of the Myst to her emotional connection with Pomella’s old friend Sim, in this epic fantasy adventure.

My review:

I never purposefully jump into a series in the middle of it because every time it’s accidentally happened, I’ve hated the book. Part of why I’ve hated them is just how obvious it is that I’ve jumped in at the middle of the story… It either feels as if I’m missing something, or every time the author mentions what happened in the previous book(s) it makes me want to throw the book I’m reading out the window.

So when, over halfway through reading Mystic Dragon, I found out it was the second book in a trilogy, I was extremely impressed by how Jason Denzel had weaved his story. I found myself dying to read the first book, but not because I felt as if I was missing something in reading the second one first – it was because I just want to read more!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Mystic Dragon. The world(s) itself was enough to keep me interested. It’s a little crazy because there are basically two worlds – Fayün and the “normal” world. Fayün is bleeding over into the mortal world and unnatural events are happening everywhere. The Mystics must stop the worlds from merging together forever, but they have limited time to do so and they’re up against a force much more powerful than they are!

The characters are very well-developed and complicated. I loved the way all of their stories were weaved together, as if they were always heading to the moment when the fate of all the worlds would be decided.

Even at the end, when everything came together and fates were sealed I was shocked by the ending! I literally said “Well, I didn’t see that coming,” out loud.

I definitely recommend picking this one up!

I’d love to know what you think! Leave me a comment below!

Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge Books for providing me with an electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Amazon – Hardcover: Mystic Dragon

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Q&A with Kay L Moody, Author of Truth Seer

40598920If you read my review of Kay L Moody’s Truth Seer, then you know that I fell in love with the characters and the world created in the book. About a million questions popped in my head while reading, and Kay was awesome enough to answer some of them!

How did you come up with the idea for Truth Seer?
Truth Seer started out as a picture in my mind. I imagined a girl tiptoeing through a dark and winding tunnel. The tunnel was filled with all sorts of things, but everything was opposite of what it seemed. The girl traveled with another person, but only the girl could see what was real and what was fake. She had to convince the other person to trust her even though everything looked opposite of what was really there. I remember two illusions specifically: In the tunnel, it looked like there was a patch of daisies, but really it was a cluster of poisonous spikes. In another spot sat the world’s most comfortable bed, but it looked like a huge, never ending pit.
Most of my original idea had to be adapted as the story evolved, but I did manage to keep the never-ending pit. 🙂
How did you come up with the idea of hilas? Was it challenging to work through all the different hilas and decide upon which character gets which one, etc.?
I remember seeing a thing on Pinterest where someone said their superpower was being able to remove sticky labels off glass objects. I remember thinking that was funny. But then I started reading the comments and a lot of people were genuinely impressed and asked for tips. I thought it was really interesting how people could be impressed by such a simple thing. And then I thought, what if that skill was trained so intensely that it actually became a superpower? Or what if being hyper aware of smells was a superpower? If we focused in on these mundane abilities and trained them to become more than just mundane, what would happen? Then, I imagined what the world would be like in a hundred years where we’ve trained these powers and almost everyone has a superpower.
It wasn’t hard to decide who had what hila, but it was hard to keep track of what their hila was actually capable of. I worked really hard to make all of the hilas realistically plausible. At first, Siluk could create smells out of thin air. But I decided that didn’t fit any of the other hilas, so I had to give him that same ability, but make it scientifically plausible. So instead, I gave him spray bottles and he knew how to use them to create any smell he wanted.
Are there other female authors (or authors in general) in the genre that inspired you to write Truth Seer?
I was more inspired to write in science fiction because of the lack of woman. But since writing and researching the genre more, I have found a few authors that I love. When I was almost done with the 2nd draft of Truth Seer, I discovered The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I was completely blown away by the story and quickly became a huge fan of this strange genre where science fiction and fantasy are smooshed together. I’ve written a lot about science fantasy/soft sci fi on my website because the genre fascinates me. I really hope to see more books like this in the future.
Also, Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, is basically my hero. For those who don’t know, Frankenstein is widely considered the first science fiction novel ever. And I love that it was written by a woman! I haven’t read Frankenstein yet, but it’s on my to-read list and I can’t wait to start it.
If you had to pick, who is your favorite character? Why? Were they also your favorite character to write, or did you enjoy the actual creating of another character more?
Imara is probably my favorite because she has such opposite forces working within her. She has the desire to protect other people, but she also thinks very little of everyone around her. She has to learn a lot about herself that she has tried to ignore for a long time. But of course, Abe was another favorite. Imara has pushed everyone away for so long, she hardly knows what to do when Abe comes in and forces himself in her life. Her instinct is still to push him away and instead of being offended, he tries to figure out why so he can help her.
I also had a lot of fun writing the side characters. I love all of them for different reasons, but my favorites are probably Mr. Nazari and Siluk.
If Truth Seer were made into a movie, who do you imagine playing the lead roles?
I love to imagine Lupita Nyong’o as Imara, especially since Lupita grew up in Kenya. And for Abe, I feel like Marc Casabani has the right look.
Can you give us a hint about what’s in store for Imara and Abe without giving away too many spoilers?
At the end of Truth Seer, we know a lot about Imara and her past, but we know almost nothing about Abe, other than what happens in the catacombs. In book 2 we’ll get to learn a lot more about Abe’s life and past, which I’m really excited about. There’s also a new antagonist in book 2. If you’ve signed up for my email list to get Keiko’s story, you’ll get a little introduction to the new antagonist. I don’t want to give away too much, but there will be lots of new technology and lots of crime. And there’s going to be a lot more at stake than just hostages.
What are your top 3 favorite books of all time?
I have a very eclectic list of favorite books. In no particular order, my very favorite books are Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Cinder by Marissa Meyer
What was your favorite part of the writing/publishing process? What was your least favorite?
My favorite part was the writing and my least favorite part was the writing. 🙂 There were so many days when I’d stare at my screen and have no idea how to write what I was thinking in my head. I kept saying, “Why is writing so hard?” But I also loved the actual writing. When I got to my favorite parts, it was so fun to finally put on paper the ideas in my head. I guess the very best part was finishing and knowing that I had actually accomplished my goal of publishing a book.
What started you on the road to writing/why do you write?
I explain this in a lot more detail on my about me page, but basically my mom inspired me to write. And she graced me with the genetics to always have a story in my head. I started writing to escape the world. I loved creating worlds where my characters could overcome the struggles I faced and find happiness despite pain.
About Kay L Moody:
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Kay L Moody is proud to be a female science fiction author. Her books feature cool science and technology, strong female leads, and a dash of romance. There’s a strong focus on character development and societal conditions. Kay loves books because they provide an escape from the world. She writes so that her books can provide both entertainment and edification. She believes that no matter how difficult life gets, a happy ending is never permanently out of reach. She likes to say, “If it isn’t happy, then it’s not the end.”

BOOK REVIEW: Truth Seer (Truth Seer Trilogy Book 1) by Kay L Moody

40598920Title & Author: Truth Seer, Kay L Moody
Publication Date & Publisher: July 2, 2018, Marten Press
Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Teens & YA
My Rating: 4.0
Amazon Purchase Link: Truth Seer (Truth Seer Trilogy)

Description (from Goodreads):

A world of lies. A cell of terrorists. When her sister is taken hostage, only the power to see the truth can set both of them free.

Egypt, 2121. Imara Kalu knows how she wants her future to go: Become a police interrogator in Kenya and then graduate as a truth seer in her last semester of the summer training program. But her plans fall apart when a group of terrorists take over the school and carry out a desperate kidnapping. Devastated that her sister is among the victims, Imara leads a rescue team and descends into the dangerous catacombs where the hostages are rumored to be hidden.

Although suspicious of others because of the truth she sees, Imara knows the rescue team will need her help as a truth seer to bypass the lethal illusions laid by the abductors. But as the terrorist traps escalate, Imara realizes how much truth she’s been ignoring and that holding back could get her sister killed. Throughout the journey, Imara confronts her past and amplifies her abilities as a truth seer only to discover that her sister’s kidnapping is just one piece of a much darker secret.

Truth Seer is an enthralling YA sci-fi fantasy novel. If you like tenacious heroes, incredible mind powers, and futuristic tech, then you’ll love Kay L Moody’s fascinating world.

My review:

If you had the ability to see (literally SEE) others truths and intentions, would you really want to?

Before reading Truth Seer, I would have said “Um, Yeah!” without thinking twice about it. But now?!?!? I’m not so sure…

Truth Seer takes place in the future, after we’ve tapped into innate abilities that allow us to basically have superpowers (hilas). It seems a little far fetched when I say it that way, but Kay L Moody actually had me thinking I could totally have a hila!

Basically, we’re currently in a world where we all have “abilities” we just haven’t tapped into yet. Are you good at nursing people back to health? You’re probably a healer. Have an incredible sense of smell? Yep, there’s a hila there! Can you predict when it’s about to rain? You’ve probably got the same hila as Imara’s sister, Naki. OR at least, you would…if only we’d figured out how to unlock our hilas already. Not gonna lie… I’M SUPER UPSET WE DON’T HAVE SUPERPOWERS!

Oops! I got distracted. I’m supposed to be telling you what I thought about the book…

The main character, Imara, is a truth seer. She’s able to see the truth and intentions behind what people say. I both thought this was awesome, and felt so bad for Imara that this was her hila! Because she knows anytime someone is lying, she can’t trust anyone. Everyone lies.

Imara and her sister, Naki, have some issues that go far deeper than most sibling rivalries. But when Naki is kidnapped by a terrorist group called “taggers,” Imara risks her life to save Naki and the others who were taken with her.

My favorite thing about Truth Seer was definitely the characters! I was drawn to Imara and loved how complicated she was. She is constantly seeing the truth around her, but the truth about herself is much harder for her to see. While Imara is my favorite character, there’s a mystique about Abe that has me dying to see what happens in the next book… I’m really hoping to learn more about him!

One of my favorite scenes was probably really only my favorite because I found it hilarious and could totally see the scenario taking place in the not so distant future. And I could totally see me talking to my grandchildren the same as Mr. Nazari talks to the students…

… “There’s writing on it. There’s actual writing on this paper. By hand!”

Mr. Nazari snatched the paper from Darius. “Let me see that.” He masked his curiosity with a patronizing look. “You children. Getting excited over paper. It used to be commonplace, you know.”

Because of Imara’s hila, no one ever questions her. They just go along with whatever she says. But she falls for Abe, who questions everything about both her hila and Imara herself. I loved their back and forth and they may be my new favorite fictional couple!

So those are the pros, on to the cons…

While I loved the book, there were times when Imara rubbed me the wrong way. She said and thought things that just didn’t make sense concerning her sister. It really got to me – to the point that I started not to like her so much. But you are given an explanation later in the story and it’s this “AHA!” moment, where suddenly it all makes sense and you think “Okay, now I’m shocked she wasn’t having even worse thoughts.” (So I guess this wasn’t actually a con. But I put it here because Imara REALLY angered me a couple of times before I knew what was going on.)

There were quite a bit of typos in my copy, but it may have just been because I had an ARC and these may be taken care of. In case they aren’t, I feel I need to mention that it was a problem. There was also a couple of times when the dialogue didn’t seem quite right…it either wasn’t something I would have expected the character to say, or it didn’t sound natural to me.

But basically, I loved Truth Seer and I definitely recommend it for those that enjoy young adult science fiction/fantasy novels. Book 2 in the trilogy is coming in January and I’m excited to get my hands on it!

In case you’re wondering…my hila would totally be truth seeing, just like Imara. And just like her, it’d cause me to isolate myself from everyone… What would you’re hila be? Would you actually want one, or do you think you’d be happier without it?

Do you plan on reading or have you read Truth Seer? What did you think? Do you want a hila now? Let me know!

***UPDATE: Since the original posting of this review, it has been confirmed that the typos mentioned above were because they had not been fixed prior to my receiving the ARC from the author and typos were corrected prior to final version of book.

 

Amazon Purchase Link: Truth Seer (Truth Seer Trilogy)

BOOK REVIEW: The Shield Breaker: Book One of the Enclave Series by Scott Beckman

51ndubla9rl-_ac_us218_Title & Author:  The Shield Breaker: Book One of the Enclave Series, Scott Beckman
Publication Date & Publisher:  June 22, 2018, Scott Beckman
Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Teens & YA
My Rating: 4.0
Amazon Purchase Link: The Shield Breaker: Book One in the Enclave Saga

 

Description (from Goodreads):

Fifteen years ago, magic destroyed the world.

Cait Verlyn is one of a handful of survivors who make their home under the Shield; a protective spell cast by their leader, a powerful wizard named Vitoria. Cait dreams of leaving the Shield to explore the ruins and rebuild civilization, but it’s impossible without magic and she is forbidden to learn.

Then she meets a stranger – a wizard from outside the Shield – who offers to teach her magic, but only if Cait will help the stranger overthrow Vitoria and liberate the enclave. The war of wizards that brought the world crumbling down is not over, and Cait’s home under the Shield is the new battleground.

Magic offers salvation, but as the apocalypse has proven, it always comes at a terrible cost…

The Shield Breaker is a post-apocalyptic urban fantasy novel from the author of Pantheon, White Star Phase, and The Fox and The Blade. It is the first book in the Enclave Saga, and the gripping introduction to Cait Verlyn, the series’ conflicted young protagonist.

My review:

If you’re looking for a Teen/YA novel filled with magic, compelling characters, and a story with so many questions propelling the story forward that you don’t want to put the book down, then The Shield Breaker is one you definitely want to pick up!

The main character, Cait, seems to be the only person in the entire enclave (a safe space protected by a powerful wizard since the wizard war destroyed the world) questioning whether the shield that protects them from the dangers lurking outside their city is actually keeping the monsters out… or keeping everyone else in.  She feels like a prisoner, even though she was born in the Enclave.  She has an overprotective father that seems to disagree with everything about Cait – the way she thinks, the things she does, her desire to learn magic – it makes you question whether he even loves his daughter. You can’t help but feel for her and understand her desire to get away just because of this one relationship (which is more complicated than it seems at first).

The story really begins when Cait and her best friend find a hole in the shield, and Cait tries to get through… but something or someone was waiting and tries to pull her to the outside world.  She escapes, but the stranger leaves a magic book behind and suddenly Cait’s entire world becomes a lot bigger. She begins to question everything…who is Vitoria, really? Can she trust the strange wizard she met and her promises for something more than this life? Is magic really good? Is it really bad?

There are so many intriguing story lines in The Shield Breaker, that you continue to read it despite a few clunky sentences toward the beginning of the novel. As the book goes on, the sentence structure evens out and stops being an issue; however, there were some typos that stuck out to me.

I’d definitely recommend this  book to anyone who enjoys young adult fantasy with lots of twists!

Do you plan on reading or have you read The Shield Breaker? What do you think? What intrigue’s you about this book or are there similar books out there you’d recommend based on this one? Let me know!

Thank you to NetGalley and the author, Scott Beckman, for providing me with a copy of The Shield Breaker in exchange for an honest review.

 

Amazon Purchase Link: The Shield Breaker: Book One in the Enclave Saga

BOOK REVIEW: The Unkindness of Ravens by Abra Staffin-Wiebe

Title & Author:  The Unkindness of Ravens, Abra Staffin-Wiebe37786306
Publication Date & Publisher:  July 18, 2018, Bimulous Books
Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Literary Fiction
My Rating: 4.5

 

Description (from Goodreads):

The oba is dead.

The Eight Great Houses are under attack … and they are losing.

What’s worse than being ignored by your god?

As the royal heir from House Crow, Anari is desperate to protect his people from a plague-driven war.

Without the blessing of his god, he doesn’t have the magical power to compete in the succession battle for the beaded crown of the oba. He is easy prey for the strongest heirs. To stay alive, he must be quick and clever.

When his plans go wrong, he does the unthinkable.

Worse is having your god owe you a favor. Particularly when he’s a trickster.

Anari might not become the ruler of his people, but he has won his god’s undivided attention. If he can survive what he’s put in motion, he will have one chance to save them all. Fortunately, Anari has a few tricks up his own sleeve …

 

My review:

I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! (Sorry, had to get that out of the way before I went on.)

From the very beginning of The Unkindness of Ravens, Abra Staffin-Wiebe has you fully engaged in the world of House Crow and House Raven (two of the Eight Great Houses).  I didn’t even realize how emotionally attached I was to two of the main characters, Anari and Kayin, until Anari is close to death in the first few pages…

I knew he had to live.

According to the description of the book, there was no book without him.  And yet…

My heart was beating hard in my chest and I had tears in my eyes.  Not only was I worried for Anari, but for Kayin (who I was both feeling mad at and worried for at the same time)!  I couldn’t imagine this world without Anari in it and I couldn’t help but feel for Kayin…what would he do without Anari? What would happen if Anari died right in front him? I wanted to hug him and tell him everything would be okay and smack him at the same time!

This wasn’t chapters in where I’ve been given plenty of time to warm up to these characters, ya’ll…we’re talking the beginning of the story!

The description of both the action and the world is so artfully described that I felt as if I had left this world completely and been dropped right smack dab into the book.  At one point, Anari is hiding in plain sight on a battlefield among the dead.  I actually wrinkled my nose as if I could actually smell the rotting corpses.  Here’s an excerpt from that scene:

…He took shallow breaths through his mouth, but the stench of meat just beginning to go off wormed its way inside his nostrils.  He swallowed down an upsurge of bile. He had expected corpses to be stiff, but lying in the heat for hours had made them soft and squishy. They could not be mistaken for living flesh. One of the corpses sighed against his cheek like a love. The fine hairs on the back of his neck stood on end…

I could tell there were a lot of differences between each House.  Each member of a House had specific traits, abilities, and tendencies.  As you read through the book you learn more about the Houses, but mostly about House Raven and Crow.  For much of the book, I kept thinking ravens and crows are so similar, why are there even two houses? (This was explained.) But I got chills when I read Kayin’s explanation to Anari of the difference between Crow and Raven:

Crows like to flock. Together, they make a murder of crows. A group of ravens, called an unkindness, only comes together in two places: battlefields and graveyards, where the bones of men fall.

When I finished The Unkindness of Ravens, I was hungry for more! Not because the ending wasn’t sufficient, but because I feel emotionally invested in these characters and have a deep desire to want to learn what happens to them next.

I’m definitely going to need to pick up a copy of this book once it’s published!

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!