REVIEW: The Season of Lightning by Kate Avery Ellison

*I received a free ebook copy of this from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

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Title: The Season of Lightning
Author: Kate Avery Ellison
Publication date: February 20th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

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Synopsis:
Emma meets Robin Hood in this antebellum-esque historical fantasy set in the same fantasy world as A Gift of Poison.

Verity Elysius is the only daughter of a famous retired general and rich plantation owner. She lives in an insulated world of wealth and privilege, where she spends her time riding her horse, sassing her lady’s companion, and being tormented by the family’s handsome but irritating nobleman friend, Lord Roth. But when a mysterious, masked vigilante called the Hawk begins stirring up trouble and freeing silvras, the oppressed lower class, Verity’s world is turned upside down as she is challenged about everything she knows about her world and her place in it.

Format: Ebook
Rating: 4.5/5

      The Season of Lightning is a fantasy book akin to that of a historical romance type of novel, with the romance at the end (though there isn’t much romance, to be honest). The fantasy part doesn’t mean the book is infused with magic and spells and witches, rather, it’s the world itself with the different places and types of people (Tyyros, Silvra ext.). It feels so much like a historical book though due to the vibe the world gives off, reminding us of the 1800s with the way people speak and dress and how the world works. It made for a more interesting story, seeing as how Verity is a rich girl whom is supposed to be a proper young lady. But it isn’t just about a rich girl’s life, or how one with such money lived in those times. It’s about a rich girl with an improper attitude slowly realizing the world around her and the horrors within it. It’s about a young lady seeing the wrongs and wanting to right them, but not knowing how. It’s about freeing the lower class who are beaten and starved so the rich don’t have to do their work. It’s about growing and maturing and trying to do the right thing.

      Which is why I’ll start off with Verity’s character. Verity is a noblewoman, rich and young,and stuck in a time where women are seen as nothing but pretty objects to brighten a room, where they’re seen as weak beings only concerned with parties and dresses and gossip. Verity is anything but dress obsessed and empty headed. In fact, she has a quick brain and a sharp tongue which drove her father mad, and tended to get her in trouble. She admits to liking parties, yes, but that’s definitely not all she thinks about. Instead, she likes to ride her horse, run around bare-foot, she wants to play cards with her father and the other men. Basically, she’s a lady doing things men do, and because of that she is improper. Also, she has a fire in her, a fierceness which is most definitely to be improper since it allows her to talk back and defend herself. It gives her strength and that makes her a character more lovable and likable. I also really enjoyed how Verity matured in this novel. Whenever she was faced with something unpleasant (like a man hating on her Silvra friend, Trilly, soldiers with guns threatening them, the Hawk), she doesn’t turn away. Instead, she learns from it and the more she learns from situations she gets herself in, the more she grows and matures. I think she grew the most in the camp and in Tasglorn though, which I loved reading about.

      The reason for her growth however, all started when a mysterious person they called The Hawk, began to attack various rich plantations and free the Silvras and Tyyros (who are slaves, no matter how one might look at it). That is when Verity realizes the lives of the lower class, realizes the wrongs being done to them and begins to want to help and do all she can to make things right. And while I liked the Hawk for freeing the slaves and giving them a better life and his commitment to his cause, I wasn’t so fond of the way he went about achieving his goals. He was fueled by revenge and liked to burn down crops and home even though he didn’t need to. He wasn’t robbing the rich to feed the poor as Robin Hood did; he was taking down the rich and freeing the oppressed.

      I liked Lord Roth from the beginning. He came across as sweet, intelligent, and charming, though he adored making fun of Verity for obvious reasons. He had his own way about things and while at times I wasn’t so fond of him for treating Verity like a child and being fairly rude, he was an overall great character. He grew as well, like Verity did, though not as much. He stopped treating her like a child and she saw and remembered the good things about him, the things he did so she didn’t have such a hard time. It was rather obvious how it would end between them, though I wish the romance was more developed because there really wasn’t much of it.

      Which brings me to the world building! The world was very well-developed, feeling as real as our own as we got to see inner workings of politics as well as the outcome of chaos. We got to see how Verity’s world suffered and worked through the loss of money and crops and workers. We got to see the different worlds, the different workings of the different people and places (though not so much their politics, but their groups near Verity). It was a fantastic world and the author did a great job of describing it and making it feel real.

      The writing was also very good. We got to see the world through Verity, so there were no big info-dumps, and we got to see the world change through her eyes. I was so invested and immersed in this book that I didn’t want to put it down. It was just so easy to fall into and so hard to get out! And while it wasn’t exactly fast-paced (which I have no problems with), it was so riveting that I can hardly complain!

     Overall, everything about this book is great. And while I would’ve loved to see the romance be more developed, there’s not much to complain about. I would definitely recommend this for any of you who find in interestign or love fantasy and historical books.

~Sage<3

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REVIEW: The Life & Death of Jorja Graham by Brynn Myers

*I received a free ebook copy of this from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Jorja1Title: The Life & Death of Jorja Graham
Author: Brynn Myers
Series: (Jorja Graham #1) 
Publication date: January 20th 2014
Genres: Paranormal Romance

   Synopsis:
      All my life I’ve been referred to as the quintessential southern bell: blonde, stunningly beautiful, and overtly enchanting, but that was only the face I shared with the world; no one ever knew the hell I truly endured.
      After returning to Savannah, I had everything I ever wanted: a new home, a handsome suitor, and the job of my dreams as an antique dealer. Little did I know that the choice to move on with my life would be the last decision I’d ever make.
      My name is Jorja Graham and my story is proof that not every romance has a happy ending.
Format: Ebook
Rating: 4.5/5
      The Life & Death of Jorja Graham is full of demons, romance, witches, lovers of history (Jorja adores historic artifacts and even helped her aunts with a shop in which they sell and action off historic pieces), ghosts, Hell, Eden, and even mystery. It has scary moments, action and everything flows brilliantly. It definitely wasn’t at ll what I expected it would be, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I really enjoyed reading this book.
      While this book is immersed with paranormal aspects, it’s also mixed with a bit of romance and thrill and suspense. It’s mysterious and edgy and at times makes the hair on the back of your your neck stand because of how creepy some parts are, what with the little paranormal occurrences and the possession and all. In fact, I would’ve run for the hills with my first encounter of the unthinkable! Just the way one scene worked out where the fog rolled up as Jorja was leaving the house that night and felt like tiny spiders crawling over her arms just made me itch, and the fact that no matter how many times Jorja swiped at her arms, the feeling just wouldn’t go away. That made me shudder because it’s the middle of the night, you got a chill and a paranoid feeling, and suddenly there’s this fog and these things crawling all over you but no matter how much you rub your arms the feeling won’t leave. That’s not normal!
      Which brings me to say that I adored how the author added the paranormal aspects and made sure to keep things even a little but creepy. It made it really easy to love the story and enjoy immersing myself in Jorja’s story and feeling what she did, seeing it all play out in my mind. I was never bored, and I only wanted to keep reading.
      The writing flows extremely well, the transitions are smooth and the descriptions were fairly easy to visualize. Despite this being a paranormal read, it couldn’t have felt more real! The situations and how the characters react are easy for readers to connect to because maybe we reacted that way too or we saw that in a movie or maybe a friend did that! It was easy to forget the paranormal parts in this book couldn’t actually happen. Except for Corbin. He can’t really happen, so when he is his… other self?… you are reminded of how unreal it all is. I needed the reminder though, so I never minded. Plus, Corbin is just a great character overall.
      Actually, all the characters were great. They were all real and easy to connect with. Well, okay so maybe not the more evil of the characters, but they played pretty great villains so I’m not complaining. Overall though, the characters were very likeable.
      Which brings me to this: I recommend this book to you lovers of paranormal romances! And anyone else who wants to give it a go. d:
~Sage<3

BLOG TOUR/REVIEW/EXCERPT: Scar of the Downers by Scott Keen

*I’m posting this as part of the XpressoBookTours Scar of the Downers Blog Tour. I recieved a free ebook copy of this in order to do so.

**This is also posted on Coffee & All Things Random.

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Title: Scar of the Downers
Author: Scott Keen
Publication date: February 27th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult


Synopsis:

Branded on the slaves in the Northern Reaches beyond Ungstah, the scar marks each one as a Downer. It is who they are. There is no escaping this world. Still, strange things are stirring.

Two foreigners ride through the Northern Reaches on a secret mission. An unknown cloaked figure wanders the streets of the dark city of Ungstah. What they want no one can be sure, but it all centers around a Downer named Crik.

Crik, too scared to seek freedom, spends his days working in his master’s store, avoiding the spirit-eating Ash Kings, and scavenging food for himself and his best friend, Jak. Until he steals from the wrong person. When Jak is sold to satisfy the debt, Crik burns down his master’s house and is sentenced to death.

To survive, Crik and his friends must leave behind their life of slavery to do what no other Downer has ever done before – escape from the city of Ungstah

An Excerpt:

Crik smiled. “I brought something for you.” He pulled out the torn piece of bread and handed it to her.

“Where did you get it?”

“A simple thank you is all I need,” said Crik. She gazed at him, and it felt as if he knew what she was thinking. “I’m careful. I’ve lived this long.”


“I didn’t say anything,” said Tinker. “But since you mentioned it. Thank you. You’re such a nice Downer . . . and that’s saying a lot. Some of them are crueler than their masters.”

Tinker took a bite of the bread and chewed slowly.

“Is it good?” Crik asked.

Tinker nodded. “It’s fresher than the ones Morta serves to her customers. I hope you didn’t go through a lot of trouble getting it.”

Crik thought about it and just said, “Not too much.” Then he picked a crumb out of her dirty, matted hair, which she brushed behind her ear.

“You had something in your hair,” said Crik, slightly embarrassed.

“Just one thing?” said Tinker.

“That I could see in the dark.”


They laughed. They always did when they met. All the grime on their skin, tears in their clothes, and lice in their hair disappeared when they were with each other. Crik didn’t feel like a Downer with Tinker. He felt like a young man; he felt brave, as if he could conquer the city. With her he wasn’t afraid of Kilvar, of the rats, the Ashes, or even the Gaunt King himself. The dangers of the city and the world melted away when they were together.

Getting up, Crik walked to the ledge of the roof and looked eastward into the darkness, past the torches and walls. He searched for the words to say, his gaze burrowing into the wall of night. Crik’s voice was quiet when he spoke.

“I heard something yesterday when I was in Briars and Thickets.”

“You went in there?” Tinker got up and crossed to him.

“That’s not the point.” Crik looked at her. “Some men were talking. I listened to their conversation. They spoke of something . . . something called the Avarah.”

Tinker’s brow furrowed, and her face turned serious. “The Avarah?”

“Yeah. You work in an inn. Have you heard people speak of them? Do you know anything about what they are?”

“I haven’t heard a lot,” said Tinker. “What I have heard isn’t very good. But they’re mainly just in stories. No one believes that they’re real. Why?”

“What were the stories about them like?”


Tinker grew quiet again as if she were deep in thought. “I’ve heard they were some kind of powerful being who used to live here long ago. But for some reason they don’t anymore. I guess the people in Ungstah killed them or something. Why? Why do you ask?”

“One man said they’ve returned.”

“Returned?” Tinker gave a little laugh. “I don’t think they’re even real. He was probably crazy. A lot of strange people come through the city.”

“That’s the thing,” said Crik. “This man is the Captain of the City’s Watch.”

Tinker crossed her arms. “Why do you ask me all these questions?”

“I was hoping that if the Avarah have returned . . . I was hoping they were good.”

“Be careful,” said Tinker, grabbing hold of his hand.

“Careful of what?”


“Hope can be dangerous thing for a Downer.”


“Hope is all I have.”


And now, on to my review!
Format: Ebook
4/5 stars

Scar of the Downers is an interesting new fantasy book. It is full of survival, strength, growth, trust, and the fight for freedom. It involves the Downers being treated like slaves, barely ever being fed and always having to do as their master asks. They are treated so poorly and cruelly, but then they have help and suddenly everything is looking brighter. It’s about friendship and trust and it’s a tale written to make scared characters a little braver, a littler more trusting, and a lot more loving.

What I Like:

  • The World-Building || The world building was well done, in my opinion. I mainly enjoyed the description of the evil lurking within the land and the cursed King, how Ungstah is described as darker than other cities so much so that travelers can feel the change once they’re close enough. It made for a much more scary type of vibe, and really helped the mystery grow where the King and his Guards are involved.
  • The Action || I love action, period, but I especially loved it in this book because of the magical elements. Aniel has this sword, right? And so, it can turn into water and end the lives of the Ash Kings, and it can also turn into fire. How cool is that?!
  • The Characters || Well, most of them. I enjoyed reading about Crik (he’s probably my favourite), Jak (or maybe he is), Tinker, Chaser, Aniel (she’s wicked cool), Talorc, Edem, and Gabril. I wasn’t so much a fan of Kilvar, Bhoor, and the other cruel Downer owners. I know they have to be cruel in order for the story to work as it does and I can understand that, I just don’t like them because if they were real I’d want to punch them in the face so bad. Overall though, the characters were great and I enjoyed the different voices us readers got to hear as we read. The visual we got was much richer because of that.
  • The Writing || It flowed well, and despite the filler-like vibe I felt most of the time, it was still a very enjoyable read because the writing really lured me in.

What I don’t like:

There’s not much; It’s mainly the pace. Throughout most of the book, I felt like it was all  a large filler. Not much seems to happen. I kept reading and all I got was that they were treated poorly (they were always hungry, thirsty, and dirty, always scouring the streets for whatever they could find), they needed to get money so Jak wouldn’t be sold (because their owner has a dept he needs payed but refuses to part with the silver he gained from killing a man, and so they stole from a house down a street), they aren’t that fond of some of the other Downers (Slink especially, since he always seems to sneak on them when they’re walking down the street), the Ash Kings almost killed them multiple times (since they were out on the streets during curfew trying to get food and money), and their owner is a cruel, cruel man. And yet, as you should realize, most of it happens in the same streets over and over again. It worked well with the story, but made the pace more slow and akin to that of a filler chapter.

I also didn’t like how quickly Slink changed. At first he’s this annoying, slightly creepy Downer that Crik and Jak weren’t fond of, as he was always sneaking up on them and even stole food from them once. Then suddenly when Aniel saves him he’s all nice and supportive and gets along with the others real well. I think there should have been more time taken to develop his change. Other than that though, I really enjoyed reading Scar of the Downers.

So, overall, Scar of the Downers was a very enjoyable read, despite the slow/filler-like pacing. I would recommend this to you lovers of action and fantasy.


ScottAUTHOR BIO:
Scott grew up in Black River, NY, the youngest of three children. While in law school, he realized he didn’t want to be a lawyer. So he did the practical thing – he became a writer. Now, many years later with an MFA in script and screenwriting, he is married with four daughters, two of whom he homeschools.
Author links:

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~Sage<3