The WriteReads Ultimate Blog Tour – Kingshold by D.P. Woolliscroft

The WriteReads Ultimate Blog Tour – Kingshold by D.P. Woolliscroft

Title: Kingshold (The Wildfire Cycle #1)

Author: D. P. Woolliscroft

Published: April 30th, 2018

Length: 508 pgs

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Rating: ★★★★☆

Kingshold is the Debut Novel and first book in the Wildfire Cycle Series by D. P. Woolliscroft. I received the book free in exchange for a review as part of The WriteReads Blog tour. Kingshold is marketed as an Epic Fantasy Novel, but I agree with many of the other bloggers who said the book is more political intrigue than epic fantasy because the magical elements were not an essential part of the story, and the storyline could have continued to the same conclusion had the magical element been removed. The magical scenes contained too much information on the technique and mechanics of the magic and how it worked. Kingshold is a bit wordy at times, with long-winded character introductions that are more like mini prologues that make it a little hard for the reader to keep their focus on the story, while backstory is generally essential I believe it would’ve had a more substantial impact if the information had been revealed organically.

All in all, I’d give the novel 4 out of 5 stars because while the world-building and character introductions bogged down the story for a good portion of its beginning, the quality of the writing is excellent, and I think this book is worth the read. Once all the characters are introduced, and the world-building completed, the story takes shape and the writer keeps the story flowing consistently in a well-balanced cycle of plot, information, and action until the end.

Storm Crow (Storm Crow #1) by Kalyn Josephson

Storm Crow (Storm Crow #1) by Kalyn Josephson

The Storm Crow (The ​Storm Crow #1)

Author: Kalyn Josephson || Length: 352 pgs || Genre: Fantasy, YA || Published: 07/19/019 || Sourcebooks Fire ||


I received an advanced finished copy of Storm Crow at Bookcon 2019, it’s a YA, Fantasy novel and author Kalyn Josephson’s debut novel. The story takes place in the Kythra, which is split into five Kingdoms Trendell, Jindae, Korovi, Rhodaire, and Illucia.  The night, things are supposed to change for the better, Anthia’s world instead becomes a nightmare. Illucia invades Rhodaire. Anthia’s mother, the queen and her aunt Estrel the master of crows are murdered during the invasion along with the entire flock of magical crows who are such an integral part of the Rhodairen way of life.

Rhodaire survives the invasion and manages to push the Illucian’s back to their borders, but things remain tenuous. But Razel Illucia’s warrior queen is cruel, vicious, and calculating. She demands that Rhodaire and Illucia be joined through a union between Anthia and her Son Ericen. Anthia’s older sister Caliza became the queen of Rhodaire following the invasion, feeling cornered she agrees to the union for the sake of Rhodaire. The Prince of Illucia has a reputation for cruelty, and when he and Anthia meet they clash immediately. But Ericen’s character is complex, and it’s quite a while before Anthia can discern his true nature and motivation.

Storm Crow follows your typical YA, Fantasy conquered Kingdom, rebellion trope, and the fact that it has been done and done again doesn’t make this novel any less amazing. I enjoyed the characterization and development of the relationships between the characters.

Anthia is our protagonist,  a princess, but she’s isn’t the future queen instead, she’s sister to the future heir. Anthia has a complicated relationship with her mom, which is also pretty typical; she’s also fiery heir, stubborn, misunderstood, and determined to prove herself. Many of the supporting character’s are amazing as well, and Their complexity makes Storm Crow a fantastic read.

Caliza, Anthia’s sister became queen far sooner than she ever expected, struggling to make the right directions for her kingdom and her family, the relationship between the two sisters, is strained by duty.

Kiva is Anthia’s best friend, a warrior, and a protector, and there are so many more. Even Ericen’s character, laden with complex layers of personality is hard not to like him, both for the reader and Anthia. Caylus, an inventor who Anthia’s befriends is also multifaceted.  Auma the Jindae servant who has stolen Kiva’s heart is more than she seems.

The villain Razel, the queen of Illucia, would’ve made an amazing heroine. I don’t think I’ve ever thought that of a villain before. Razel earns your hate and demands your respect. I get the impression that there’s much more to learn about her character going forward or near the conclusion of series. There’s also much yet to learn about the origins of the animosity between the two Kingdoms.

 The originality of the Crows and their magic was remarkable, it’s hard to imagine a crow as a cute creature, but Josephon manages to impress to the reader through, sweet, endearing Resyries, Anthia’s newly hatched crow. Resyries is a massive cuteness overload.

I long for more of the story the book ended way too soon. I read Storm Crow in one sitting; it falls into the category of un-put-downable books. The release of Kingdom of Ash brought a conclusion to the epic Thrones of Glass YA fantasy series by Sarah J. Maas. I think Storm Crow is perfectly poised to fill the void left by it’s ending. Kalyn Josephson’s Storm Crow series is the next Shining star in the YA Fantasy world.

Kingdom of Exiles (The Beast Charmer #1) by Maxym M. Martineau

Kingdom of Exiles (The Beast Charmer #1) by Maxym M. Martineau

Title: Kingdom of Exiles (The Beast Charmer #1)
Author: Maxym M. Martineau
Published: June 25th, 2019
Length: 400 pgs
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

I received Kingdom of Exiles by Maxym M. Martineau as part of the awesome swag in my Booklovercon2019 welcome bag, and it is one of the most original fantasy books I’ve read in a long time, the world created by the author is unique despite the presence of some commonly used tropes and obvious inspiration.

Kingdom of exiles is a High Fantasy novel set in the magical world created by the author, when I first started reading the book it reminded me of Amanda Bouchet’s Kingmaker Chronicles, a female protagonist intercepted by the male antihero but it didn’t exactly have the same fire. It took longer for me to get into this book.

Leena is a Beast Charmer exiled from her homeland. Leena’s character falls into the basic Loner trope, she’s sworn off love and has the single-minded goal of proving her innocence and returning home. She doesn’t make lasting connections and has been forced to do things she wouldn’t normally do all in the name of survival. Beast Charmers are, as the book description suggests like something out of J.K. Rowlings Fantastic Beast, they have the ability to charm and tame magical beast, the tamed beast then reside in a Beast Realm only accessible by a Beast Charmer.

Noc is the leader of the Cruor’s a guild of undead assassins, and they are not Vampires. They are raised from the dead and endowed with abilities that make them near perfect assassins. When Leena’s turns up in Cruor, dragging, a captive and bleeding Kost who is Noc’s second in command, demanding the contract be called off, and making her own deal, everyone is thrown for a loop. Secret’s and ulterior motives lead to a perilous journey in more ways than one for Leena, Noc and a few members of the guild.

There was significant back and forth between the protagonist Leena and The Anithero Noc, and in between Leena bonds with other members of the guild as well and a bit of a love triangle trope. The characterization and relationship building were great. But it took me a while to warm up to the book, the authors writing voice wasn’t as warm as I would’ve liked. But as the story progressed, I warmed up to it. The plot and arc progression were great; a few things were predictable but not annoyingly so. The story concluded with a great climax, that still left questions to be answered in the next book.

 

The Belles (The Belles #1) By Dhonielle Clayton

The Belles (The Belles #1) By Dhonielle Clayton

Title: The Belles (The Belles #1)

Author: Dhonielle Clayton

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Format: Audiobook

Narrated By: Rosie Jones

Published: February 8th, 2018

Publisher: Orion Publishing Group Ltd

Story: ★★★★★

Narration: ★★★★★

The Belles is the first book in The Belles series by Author Dhonielle Clayton this review is for the audiobook. Narrated by Rosie Jones. I listened to the audiobook in Aug after having read the book back in June. This review will be broken up in two parts The narration and the actual story itself.

The Narration.

I’ve always said audiobooks weren’t for me. I thought I needed to physically read the book to paint an image in my head of the story. While taking a road trip to from Virginia back to NY, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to try out an audiobook. I’m glad I did Rosie Jones is a magnificent audiobook narrator, her talent has completely blown me away. Initially, I was skeptical about the audiobook, the first thing I thought when the Narrators voice came on was…she doesn’t sound black. I mean Camellia’s character is African American. The voice blasting through my speakers as I sped Down I95 sounded like a British white woman (at the time I didn’t know who Rosie Jones was). And I thought I’m not sure about this. Why? Well, it wasn’t because of any racist or prejudice notions but simply because I had already read the book and the voice I was hearing didn’t coincide with what my imagination had created. Simply put it isn’t what Camellia sounded like to me.

I decided to listen further and reserve judgment for a few more chapters. Rosie Jones completely floored me every time a new character took the stage. I began to realize how foolish my initial thoughts were, the narrator is more talented than I could ever have imagined. I was amazed by her ability to remain consistent from character to character. From Madame Dubarry to Princess Sophia, Augustus, The Beauty Minister, there are too many characters to name; but I Immediately recognized each character by voice. Immediately knowing which character was speaking and I was honestly in awe wondering how she does it.

Despite my initial trepidation, Rosie Jones will be forever ingrained in my mind as Camellia’s voice.  Her expertise in capturing Camellia’s tone and personality was immaculate, because of her talent I’m guaranteed to be listening to more audiobooks in the future.

The Story.

The Belles is a unique book with an original premise. Belles are the cherished saviors of Orléans ordained by the Goddess of beauty to save the citizens or Orlèans from being driven mad by their own ugliness. The Belle’s is told through a combination of the first person POV of our main character Camellia Beauregard and Character dialogue. The story begins on the 16th birthday of the current batch of the Belles. They are to be debuted, in a showcase of their talents to all of Orléans. Each Belle, hoping to be chosen as the “Favorite” Belle, the right hand to the Queen.

Almost all the Belles want to be the favorite more than anything. None more so than Camellia. All her hopes and dreams depend upon it. But being the favorite is not all that it seems. Being a Belle isn’t all that it seems. Camellia’s ignorance and Naivety get her deeper and deeper into trouble.

Sophia is a cruel girl, with severe body dysmorphia. As a princess of Orléans Sophia has much power, using it solely to achieve her goal of being the most beautiful. She is obsessed and will do anything to achieve it.

The Queen wants nothing more than for her beloved princess Charlotte to awaken and she’s willing to use any resource at her disposal to make it happen no matter the consequences. The fate of Orléans is at stake. Charlotte is both the rightful heir and the Queen Orléans needs.

The Belles is a book about many things I can only hope that I catch them all and interpret them accurately but I’m going to try my hand. On the surface, the Belles is about Camellia using her gifts as a Belle to save Orléans. But if you read between the lines into the deeper meaning behind the words, the things alluded to by the writer will test the boundaries of some people’s comfort levels.

The people or Orléans is composed of two races, the Belles and the Gris. The Gris, born grey skinned plain pallets with blood red eyes are doomed to be driven to madness by their ugliness, if not for the intervention of a Belle.

The Belles are the “minority” race only a few exist; they are the only citizens of Orléans ones born with skin tone and color, the only ones born beautiful. Belles are kept ignorant about what they are, how they are created, and what their powers can do. It is ingrained in the Belles that this or that is their duty. Duties in which they were created for by the Goddess of beauty herself.

I found there to be a parallel between the Favored Belles and “house negroes” and the Secondary Belles and “Field Negroes.” The Secondary Belles are outright slaves they know they are slaves they are chained and forced to work until they are used up. The Favored Belles live in gilded cages ignorant of their servitude. Their captors, like the slave masters, use their god the Goddess of Beauty to justify their slavery. Jealousy and rivalry among the Belles is encouraged to create a rift,  misdirecting their attention from what’s important. The Belles don’t truly know anything of their true origins. Chains of ignorance keep them locked in servitude for generations. I wonder if this sounds familiar to anyone.

The Belles is also about how people can be slaves to superficial attributes. I’ve watched many videos on youtube where women TRANSFORM themselves into unrecognizable beauties. Transformations so complete I would never believe they were the same person in a side by side comparison. Our society is so focused on outer beauty forgetting that sometimes it just covers up the ugliness and the madness festering inside.

The world of Orléans is unique. Its only right that a book about the extravagance of beauty takes place in an alternate New Orleans. I love how Dhonielle Clayton merged ancient, futuristic, and fantastical science and technology, how the carriages contrast with things like gossip post balloons. I especially loved the teacup animals. I hated that it ended so soon.

The Everlasting Rose (The Belles, #2) is scheduled for release March 5th, 2019 and is available for pre-order on Amazon. And I highly anticipate its release.

The Crowns of Croswald (The Crowns of Croswald #1) By D.E. Night

The Crowns of Croswald (The Crowns of Croswald #1) By D.E. Night

Title: The Crowns of Croswald (The Crowns of Croswald #1)
Author: D.E. Night
Published: July 27th, 2017
Length: 314 pgs.
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Publisher: Stories Untold

The Crowns of Croswald is the debut book by author D.E. Night; it’s the first in a magical new fantasy series. I received The Crowns of Croswald from the publisher Stories Untold Press free in exchange for a review through my bookstagram page.

The premise of the book is Magic known in the world of Croswald as Scrivenery. After all, what’s more, magical than writing. Magicians are known as Scrivenist and study scrivenery in Ravenshollow, training at the Halls of Ivy, a school for scrivernist. There are several branches of royal families each producing princes and princess with limited magical ability. The main royal branch produces the Queen who rules Croswald. Croswald is currently under the rule of the Dark Queen. A cruel Queen who is leading an unnaturally long life and causing misery whenever she and her minions go. The Dark Queen is the Villain of this story, and that’s about all I’m going to give away.

The book opens with a rather vague prologue but as the plot concludes everything begins to come together. The main story opens with Ivy Lovely taking the stage. Ivy is a bright young girl who dreams of a life filled with adventure and magic, a stark contrast to Ivy’s reality at the start of the book, living the glum life as a scaldrony maid at Castle Plum surrounded by magic dampening Slurry fields.

Ivy is a lonely orphan with one friend, a Dwarf named Rimbrick. Rimbrick occasionally brings Ivy gifts and indulges her with stories of Magic and Mischief. Rimbrick has only a small part and is the second character we meet, but he is integral to the plot of the story.

On Ivy’s 16th birthday everything changes. Everything Ivy has ever dreamed of starts happening for her. Ivy is transported by Cabby to Ravenshollow and enrolled as a scrivenist studying magic at The Halls of Ivy.

But it’s not all rainbows and gumdrops. Once Ivy arrives at the school the action begins. From the moment Ivy arrives in Ravenshollow strange things start to occur. Quills take on minds of their own and leave their Scrivernist. Paintings begin to change things are going on that Ivy doesn’t understand, but she’s determined to get to the bottom of things.
Rebecca is a princess, she wants to study scrivenry, but her mother won’t have it. She’s a very down to earth girl she and Ivy are roommates; she eventually becomes Ivy’s best friend and partner in crime along with Fyn. Fyn is another Scrivenry student. A budding romance occurs between him and Ivy. Fyn always seems to be in the right place at the wrong time, just as Ivy is getting into mischief Fyn seems to pop up out of thin air going along for the ride.

The plot revolves around the mystery of the Dark Queen, the wandering family, and a mysterious scrivernist named Derwin Edgar Knight who no one can remember except for Ivy. Ever since Ivy’s arrival at Ravenshollow, the Dark Queen has been stirring. The Dean of the school is known as the selector. She is the ultimate authority at The Halls of Ivy, but she’s hiding something.

One of the things that stood out to me in the book was the world building. The worldbuilding seemed effortlessly achieved, descriptive and original. Fairies are known as hairies who have glowing hair and are used as Lanterns. Giant Seahorses. Quills instead of wands. Dragon Caldrons, A forgotten room which causes any item or person within to be forgotten forever.

That being said if I had to pick the worst thing about the novel it’s the world building. Because this is a first book set in a world straight out of the author’s mind, the extensive world building was required. Because of this, the world building took up about as much literary real estate as the plot and action (Sad Face). However, the world building was well done and necessary. And I only noticed because the plot/action parts were so interesting I wanted more.

The character development was done well, and I appreciated the level of mystery shrouding Ivy’s story. But I was left with questions at the end of the book. Like what are the roles of the other princes and princess, what purpose do they serve maybe I’ll get my answers in book two?

In closing, I enjoyed the book. D.E. Nights world of Croswald has a little something for everyone. Magic and a slew of fantasy creatures. I found the book to be well written, well edited, and original. It’s a Fantasy novel suitable for middle-grade readers and above. I give The Crowns of Croswald 3 out of 5 stars and recommend this book to fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.

The Author D. E. Night is contracted for a total of 4 books in The Crowns of Croswald series with the second book The Girl with the Whispering Shadow (The Crowns of Croswald, #2) to currently set for release on Jan 23rd, 2019 and currently available for pre-order on Amazon. I look forward to reading book two.