Review: The Midnight Queen

midnight queen

Summary: In the hallowed halls of Oxford’s Merlin College, the most talented—and highest born—sons of the Kingdom of Britain are taught the intricacies of magickal theory. But what dazzles can also destroy, as Gray Marshall is about to discover…(more here)

Pages: 417

Published: 2014 Ace

 

I’m not going to lie to you here. I requested to review this book (from Blogging for Books) because of the cover. If you’ve been around awhile, you probably already know of my obsessions with owls. Well…that explains that right? It probably wouldn’t have mattered what the book was about, honestly. However, I have happy to report that it turned out to be a fabulous historical fiction/fantasy novel.

This book delights with a beautiful mixture of historical fiction and magical elements, adventuresome bits and slow romance, and some strong leads of both female and male variety. The scholarship and work of magic delights me to no end, and Ms. Hunter’s work here is no exception. Well done, delightful, and interesting.

This book gets a 4 out of 5 dragons. If you enjoy adventure, fantasy, and historical fiction all rolled into one very European bundle, I suggest you go grab your very own copy and give it a read.

Blog Tour: Soul Blade by Aaron Hodges

soul-blade-7

Title: Soul Blade

Author: Aaron Hodges

Series: The Sword of Light Trilogy

Genre: Epic Fantasy/Sword and Sorcery

Release Week Price: $0.99

Page count: 300 pages

Soul Blade Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Soul-Blade-Sword-Light-Trilogy/dp/0473375184/

Giveaway: http://blog.ravenpublicity.com/giveaways/sciencefiction-fantasy-win-3-paperbacks-giveaway-kindle-amreading/

Website: http://www.aaronhodges.co.nz

Soul Blade Excerpt Link: https://1drv.ms/b/s!AiW-Qzg6KJmRgbp3yl1h_Rh42xWgcw

Synopsis:

The Three Nations are crumbling.

Darkness is gathering.

And only Eric remains to stand against it.

 

Eric stumbles through the wilderness, searching, hunting – desperate for sign of his sister. But the girl is gone, stolen away by the power of the Soul Blade. With each passing hour its hold on her tightens, her spirit fading before the onslaught of its magic. If he cannot save her soon, it will claim her soul. And he will have to kill her.

 

Meanwhile, Gabriel is locked in the cells beneath Ardath. The darkness presses in around him, absolute, suffocating. Time, hope, sanity, all have long since slipped beneath the waves of his despair. Only it remains – the unrelenting voice of the demon. It haunts the darkness, tempting him with promises of freedom.

How long can he resist its call?

 

Author Bio:

Aaron Hodges was born in 1989 in the small town of Whakatane, New Zealand. He studied for five years at the University of Auckland, completing a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Geography, and a Masters of Environmental Engineering. After working as an environmental consultant for two years, he grew tired of office work and decided to quit his job and see the world. During his travels he picked up an old draft of a novel he once wrote in High School – titled The Sword of Light – and began to rewrite the story. This book, Soul Blade, marks the final conclusion of that epic tale.

author-picture

 

Fans of Aaron can signup for updates and special offers at:

aaronhodges.co.nz/newsletter-signup/

 

 

The Way You Feel Book Tag (Recommendations)

Hello my Literary Lovelies! I saw this tag done as a BookTube video last week and thought that the questions were incredibly interesting. The more I thought about them, the more I wanted to answer them…So I decided to do that through this blog and let you all join me! The originator of the tag is linked down below, I hope you will visit both Liz and Sam’s channels.

And now, without further ado, I present to you….*fanfare…drumroll**

THE WAY YOU (MAKE ME) FEEL BOOK TAG:

1)      You’ve just spent the last 3 months reading nothing but hyped books. Burn out has set in. Try this unique book to cool you down…

I love to read children’s books with my daughter to break up the burn out and if I’m choosing one of those for this answer, I have to go with Shannon Thompson’s the Princess in Black series. So cute, fun, and unique. Like Zorro with a unicorn and frills.

However, if I’m going with a MG and up book, I’d probably have to choose The Young Wizards Series By Diane Duane.

2)      Work was a complete drag and you need to get lost in another world. Check this out…A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. I am currently reading this and it sucks me into a world of wars and intrigue every time I open the book.

 

3)      Are you seeking a book with epic twists & turns? If you want to be shocked, look no further than… Skullduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy. Seriously! I almost used this on both of the previous questions but this book series is full of double crosses, surprise friendships, random twists, and epicness. These are dark MG books that, at times, read like an adult fantasy in the best way possible. Read them. Read them all. Read them now. Just read them!

 

4)      Summer will be over before you know it and you need a nice cozy read. I love to read the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien in the fall. I don’t know what it is about them, but I feel as though those books are amazingly cozy for adventure fantasy books. I also like to read the classics around fall/winter times so Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) and Little Women (and also anything else) by Louisa May Alcott

 

5)      Your Booktube friends are so far away. You really need a great friendship book right about now. Here you goAnne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery is one of my all-time favorite friendship books. I also love MG/YA friendship reads like the Babysitter’s Club Books and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

 

I hope that you have enjoyed seeing my answers to this tag! The original tag was created by Liz over at the blog Let’s Book About It and I snagged it off of the BookTube channel Sam’s Nonsense. You should definitely go check them both out. I will be posting the new ‘fall’ tag from Liz sometime soon as well because…FALL IS AWESOME AND BOOKS ARE AMAZING AND PUMPKINS MAKE ME HAPPY. *ahem* sorry about that, I got a bit excited. ;P

 

If you would like to let us know your responses or chat about any of mine, please feel free to leave a comment! Have a wonderful week and enjoy some words.

We had a BOOK SIGNING!

Yesterday (Saturday, June 25, 2016) was AMAZING!

First off, my parents, my 3 yr old, and myself were all up, ready, in the car, and able to pull out of the driveway at 8:30 am straight up…the time we had set to leave! Many of you won’t understand the significance of this; I assure you that it is a huge accomplishment (especially more my daughter and I!).

So, we were all up early on a Saturday, we stopped for donuts, and Dad drove us two hours to a Kansas zoo…but not just ANY zoo, NOPE! We went to Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Goddard Kansas, where mom and I had a book launch/signing for Leonard the Lemur.

Exactly one year to the day after Matt Fouts (the amazing director of the park) gave us his go ahead to include Tanganyika in our children’s picture book, we were there signing copies, scoping out animals, and having an absolutely wonderful time!

Lucas (Media Ma Extraordinaire) hung out during the signing and took pictures, talked, asked questions…basically just made us feel like a part of the Tanganyika family!

So a BIG THANK YOU is in order to Matt, Lucas, Lauren, and all the rest of the staff (and animals) at that amazing place. Below are just a spare few of the pictures I took during this fun day. You can find Leonard the Lemur on Amazon and Createspace (check out amazon.com/author/eliabethtyree for all of my published works).

For MORE on the real life Leonard, his friends, and his home check out the park at twpark.com

Leonard June 25 2016

Leonard the Lemur! (Who just took over his bachelor group. Way to go Leonard, We’re Proud of you!) Taken by Lucas at TWPARK.com

Coloring with Wonder

I love to color. There is something creative and almost freeing in the act of choosing colors and finishing pages. I find so much inspiration in coloring, in fact, that I often incorporate it into my own writing process. So is it any wonder that I jumped at the chance to review another coloring book? Not really. Especially not since this particular coloring book is an imagining of Lewis Carroll’s world of Alice in Wonderland.

While I was expecting a fun and whimsical coloring book, the reality was so much more. Artist/Author Amily Shen not only created a gorgeous new reimagining for us to color, she included us in the story. Separated into 9 chapters, each section begins with a title pulled from Carroll’s Alice, followed by a few paragraphs that read as though you are, in fact, the one that followed the rabbit down into Wonderland.

9780399578465

I love the artwork in this book. The style is distinctly whimsical and fun, showcasing wonderful imagination and inspiration from the artist  and for the color-er. Not to mention the fact that it came with a dust jacket that, when removed, revealed a cover ready to be colored on AND the inside of the dust jacket as a long poster waiting to be colored. SURPRISE!

Some of the pages are almost a little disturbing in their difference from my own imaginings or memories of the illustrations and movies. But my biggest complaint is that this doesn’t have more pages. I vote for a full Alice novel with coloring borders and illustrations.

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

Saturday Stories for March 23rd

Welcome All!!

Saturday Stories is the place for me to update you all on my weekly goals and give you a peek at something I’ve been working on. Happily, I managed to complete my three simple goals this week so I can start to move ahead on my projects (FINALLY!).

So since I don’t have anything else to update you on, let’s move ahead to the short story portion of our Saturday evening (woohoo!)

Here is an excerpt from somewhere withing my first novel, Dragon on My Neck, which is currently available on Amazon.

Passiona moved as quickly as a queen is allowed to move in public, marching down the sidewalk with an urgency and purpose that had any wayward servants jumping out of the way when they saw her coming. Excitement radiated from the fairy queen in waves, making her seem to float as she made her way into the library. After a hurried check to make sure they were alone, Franme closed the door and motioned Queen Passiona forward and into her usual seat.

“My queen,” The sorcerer began, his own excitement barely containable, “As I mentioned, I believe I have found you the way to gain the power you have been searching for.” He grabbed up a stack of papers and set them down on the long, wooden table in front of Passiona. “You’ll see that the first few pages here are a basic retelling of the story of Gendrail and Ralnion, However, there is one very basic difference between this version and the one found in the lighter tomes of legends. In this version Gendrail has a beloved. Pandem, the lord of chaos, was deeply in love with the shadow mother and created portals throughout our realm in order to visit her world.”

“Do not try my patience today Franme,” Passiona interrupted, leafing through the papers in front her disinterestedly, “What does this have to do with my power?”

“Majesty, these portals continue today,” Franme hurried to continue, “If you look beyond the first few pages you’ll see the legend of Pandem’s frantic love. He was so tormented by his love’s ostracism from this world that Pandem called upon all of the dark powers to create portals into the dragonless realm. He left clues and incantations to find and open these portals. Each set of clues includes a spell to open the portal and step through into a civilization within this new world. These doorways are constant and sometimes they slip open a bit, which is how men from that world sometimes cross into ours without magical assistance. They merely stumble upon a doorway.”

“This is all very fascinating sorcerer,” Passiona growled, “But I ask you again, HOW DOES THIS HELP ME GAIN MY POWER??!!!!”

“My dear queen,” Franme bowed and smiled apologetically, “Within the Legend of Pandem it says that the Lord of Chaos disappeared into the world of his beloved, taking with him this knowledge of the greatest powers but leaving the clues and incantations for any brave enough to search for him and this power. When the spells are used and a portal fully opened, Pandem will know. Anyone who claims the use of a portal should find him waiting.”

“Then we need to begin work on those clues immediately Frannie!” Passiona danced in her seat, “Did you begin to decode any of them before coming to find me?”

“No Your Highness,” Franme bowed again, his nose scraping the wooden table-top before he went on, “As soon as I realized what the text was saying I came to find you.”

 

“Good, Good,” Passiona nodded her approval, “We must start right away. What are the first clues?”

“If you’ll look on the second page, my queen, the first set of clues and their portal incantation are listed out.”

Fairy Queen and minion worked diligently, side by side, for over an hour. When they were done scouring the pages of Pandem’s legend, Passiona and Franme had a list of three definite sets of clues to portal sites.

 

  • In a cavern Dark and Deep,

Where a Mother sat to weep,

A River runs of her tears,

Deep and Dark and Full of Fears.

 

  • In a place of Myth and magic,

Where a Circle stands Alone

Will you come to Power inhabit,

Or leave the Place another Drone?

 

 

  • In a canyon of Legend, Lore, and Lime,

A Portal awaits through Space and Time.

An Oasis in this vast land,

Surrounded by a Sea of Sand.

 

“What do they mean,” Passiona groaned, reading over the clues for a third time. “These places, how do we know they even exist anymore?”

“The portals will still exist, even if the places have changed Your Majesty,” Franme murmured, “We just have to use maps and knowledge from his time.”

“How do we do that?” Passiona whined like a tiny child, hoping to convince their parents to do their work for them. “We have old maps, but we aren’t sure when Pandem left this world for good, so how will we know which legends are the relevant ones?”

“These legends have been handed down throughout time. Any of the ancient stories should hold clues to decrypting Pandem’s riddles.” Franme turned and pulled a large text written in ancient script across the table and began to flip through its pages. “We just need to search through them and try to find any mention of the key words.”

“Like a mother crying into a river or a sea of sand?” Passiona mused, “That’s as good a place to start as any other we have right now.”

 

Magic Under Review

IMG_20151127_171758

Magic Under Glass

By: Jaclyn Dolamore

  • Age Range:12 and up
  • Grade Level:7 and up
  • Paperback:256 pages
  • Publisher:Bloomsbury USA Childrens (May 24, 2011)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:1599905876
  • ISBN-13:978-1599905877

Summary (From Amazon.com)

When a wealthy sorcerer hires Nimira to sing with a mysterious piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it will be the start of a better life. But at the sorcerer’s estate, rumors swirl about ghosts, a madwoman, and fairies that are tortured for sport. When Nimira discovers-and falls for-the spirit of a fairy gentleman trapped in the automaton, she will also find the fate of the magical world in her hands

 

Character Believability:

The three main characters that populate this book are well written, multi-dimensional, and manage to still exhibit ‘normal’ emotions and reactions to the proceeding of the plot. Typically, that’s all you can really ask for in a quick read novel like this: fantasy, steampunk, pseudo-historical…these elements tend to combine to bring us 1 or 2 dimensional characters that would fall flat if brought away from their specific world and work.

Jaclyn Dolamore, however, skipped over that particular ‘norm’ and gleefully provided us with secondary and tertiary characters, twists, and exciting discoveries that all obviously believed her when she pretended the story was about them. These many facets come together to bring us a world that makes perfect sense and characters who, mostly, feel as though they might live down the street from their readers.

I’ve given this category a 4 out of 5 possible stars because a few of the characters, though well written, seems as though they were a) written in a rush and added in and/or b) were incredibly predictable.

Flow and Pace:

I have given the flow and pace of Magic Under Glass a rating of 4 out of 5 possible stars. While the majority of the book is, in my opinion, excellently maneuvered for both the flow of the story, and the pace of the plot, there are a few places in which I felt the pace slowed a bit too much and that the flow seemed to stutter and confuse itself.

For example, Nimira (our main female character) and Erris (our automaton) first meet in a scene that really slows the feel of the story for me. Conversely, the final two chapters stutter and feel rushed, in my opinion, so that the ending winds up with an information dump. However, I did enjoy the overall flow and pace of this book and think it will work wonderfully as a decently quick read for middle and high school students.

Reader Engagement:

This book did a wonderful job of capturing my attention. The first inkling of what was inside came when I spotted this book on the shelf at the Scholastic Book Fair on one of my substituting days…the phenomenal cover art, followed by the back blurb, lured me in. By the time I got around to cracking open the front cover I was already hooked.

I remained interested, engaged, and intrigued through the story. I am giving this category 4.5 out of 5 possible stars and have already placed the follow up novel, Magic Under Stone on my wishlist/TBR/somebody please buy it for me lists.

Reader Enrichment:

While I truly enjoyed the world and wonders of Magic Under Glass, I have only given this category a 3.5 out of the possible 5 stars. The fact is that, while I was excited for the addition of trouser girls and an automaton, this seems to be mainly a mixed-up Beauty and the Beast re-telling (My FAVORITE fairy tale, fyi). As a retelling or on its own, the story is beautiful. However, while my imagination sparked a bit in a few places, I walked away feeling as though I had spent a delightful afternoon reading a well done story…but didn’t take anything away from the experience with me. So, with a sad and slightly pouty face, I am giving this category a 3 out of possible 5 stars.

Reader Enjoyment:

I cannot begin to describe in enough detail how much I truly enjoyed this book. I adore fairy tales, Beauty and the Beast being my all-time favorite, and this book has several subtle takes from that beloved story. I have also been getting very interested in the steampunk movement lately, so this fairy tale magic automaton mixture was absolutely perfect for me to wade into those worlds with.

If it had not been for a couple (literally, TWO) places that made me think that I had perhaps skipped a line or fallen into a plot hole, this category would have jumped the half point for 4.5 to 5 stars. However, 4.5 out 5 possible stars just ain’t too shabby anyway!

Front Cover:

The front cover photograph, copy written in 2010 by the talented Ali Smith, was what originally drew me to the book. When I saw it sitting there on the book fair table I just needed to know more about that character.

IMG_20151127_171818

The only reason this category is being given a 4.5 out of 5, instead of a perfect score, is that I felt the text font should have been more consistent with both of the As being the same for the title, instead of the ‘A’ in Magic being specialized while the ‘A’ in glass was plain.

Back Copy:

I agree whole heartedly with the back copy assertion that fans of Libba Bray and Charlotte Bronte will probably enjoy reading this book. The author has created a wonderful world to sink into and discover.

However, I am giving the back copy a 3.5 out of 5 possible stars because, after reading the book, I realized that the summary is actually incorrect in three separate places. THREE PLACES! Now whether that was an intentionally misleading copy to make sure the readers were not expecting certain aspects of the story (and the things that led me astray from the back copy are actually not that important to the story) or just some odd oversight from the editors, publisher, and author, I still do not ever appreciate being maneuvered in that way.

The back copy is still intriguing, however, which is why I didn’t drop the score down even lower.

 

Overall Rating:

4.0 out of 5 possible Stars and Dragons.

This book is well written and worth a read, whatever age level you currently claim (or actually are)

I very much look forward to the next one!

Creative Journaling

Most of us have heard the term ‘Creative Journaling’ at some point or another. Some of us may even have attempted it at some point or another. Well let me tell you something…the world of creative journals has advanced significantly since the time I bought a little sketch book and some colored pencils, convinced that I could mix words and watercolors to create something amazing and awe inspiring. (I filled 4 or 5 pages and set it aside).

One of the best things to happen for the creative journaler, in my opinion anyway, is the rising popularity of creative journals. Not just notebooks or sketchbooks that you purchase and then fill as you see fit. No, these wonderful books provide you with specific ideas, prompts, and suggestions for each entry. Some of them are non-date specific, allowing the artist to pick and choose their prompts, moving through the pages on a whim and the wave of your emotions.

However, there is a daily creative journal that does include the dates. In fact, the Q&A a Day for Creatives: A 4 year Journal by Potter Style includes (you guessed it!) 4 years worth of dates. Each page is fitted with its own unique prompt and separated into four spaces. You merely fill in the year and fill out the box.

The prompts vary from the type of medium used, to the type of art created, and even to the type of question asked. Each day is a prompt meant to break you out of your box and allow you to view your day, and maybe even your life, in an inspiringly creative way.

I give the cover art 3 out of 5 dragons, the color blocking just doesn’t do it for me. I love the bright colors but feel the brown should have either gone completely across or not been included at all.

The inside, however, is exciting, fun, and definitely worth 5 out of 5 dragons! If you are a creative type (or if you want to try to be one) this is a great book to start with. You never even have to show it to anyone! If you aren’t an artistic type and don’t want to try this one, don’t worry! Potter Style has several more of these journals, such as the 5 year Q&A a Day that I still fill in every night, or the 3 year for kids and/or the the college student Q&A a Day! Check them out and find something that will fit your life, the questions are always interesting and thought provoking.

*I received this book free of charge in exchange for my honest review from Blogging for Books. Opinions are my own.*