Tag Archives: epic fantasy

shards of a shattered soul

Book Review: Shards of a Shattered Soul, by S.C. Stokes

I purchased a paperback copy of S.C. StokesShards of a Shattered Soul (Strife of Souls, #1).

shards of a shattered soul

Bathed in Dragon’s fire, Vera Sandrinas has stared into the jaws of death and lived. 

With her dying breath she pleaded with the Allfather for her life, and it was granted.

But when war breaks out in heaven, the magic dividing the realms of the living and the dead is torn asunder.

As the undead rise, Vera learns that divine mercy always comes at a price.

Can Vera seal the rift between realms in time? Or will her debt cost her everything?

my review

This was an OK read, but I have a couple complaints. First off, I didn’t know it is a spinoff series when I bought it. (This annoys me so much. Why can’t authors make this more obvious?) And while I could read and follow it, I 100% felt I was missing a lot having not read the A Kingdom Divided series first. I wouldn’t suggest reading this on it’s own. You feel you’re missing a lot and then it’s not a complete story arc. So, you feel you’re missing both a beginning and an end.

Second, the description suggests Vera is the main character. I would posit that she, in fact, is not. Tristan, who appears to have been the main character in the A Kingdom Divided series (according to the blurbs) is the main character here too. Vera is a side character through whose eyes we get to see the gory that is Tristan. Maybe that will change as this series progresses, but as of the end of this book that’s my opinion.

Lastly, the whole thing is a little thin. You can see Stokes building a huge arc in what is a 225 page book. That means there isn’t a lot of depth to most of it. Some of this is, again, because it’s a spinoff and that needed character development and world building probably happened in the first series. But some of it is just that too much is skimmed over and explained in exposition. As a result you never feel you really connect with anyone or anything.

Having said all that, I liked the characters. The series-wide arc looks to be an interesting one, and the writing is quite readable.

Aofies Quest banner

Book Review: Aofie’s Quest + Giveaway

This is my stop during the bookstagram blitz for Aofie’s Quest by Angela J. Ford. Aofie’s Quest is a New Adult Fantasy Adventure book with Celtic mythology, strong heroines, magical weapons, mythical beasts, gods & goddesses and a slow burn romance.

This bookstagram blitz is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. This bookstagram blitz runs from 15 till 19 March. See the tour schedule here.

Don’t miss the tour wide giveaway! One lucky winner will win digital copies of Angela J. Ford’s Night of the Dark Fae series. You can enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post.

Aofie's Quest coverAofie’s Quest
Gods & Goddesses of Labraid #1
By Angela J. Ford
Genre: Fantasy Adventure
Age category: New Adult
Release Date: March 26, 2021

A warrior princess with a dire future embarks on a perilous quest to regain her fallen kingdom.

Eighteen-year-old Aofie’s Mor is an outcast princess, hiding in the sacred forest of the centaurs. She’s spent her life training for one purpose: to take back her kingdom from the angel of death.

When she comes of age, the centaurs prepare her to reunite with the humans. However, on the morning of her departure, she learns a horrific truth that leaves her questioning her true identity.

Frustrated, but taught not to question the will of the gods, Aofie travels deep into perilous lands in search of her birth mother. Along the way she accidentally frees a dangerous goddess, befriends a mysterious iceman, and meets a magic-wielding nymph.

But threads of betrayal and corruption run deeper than Aofie imagined. As she faces trials and tribulations, she begins to question everything she’s assumed to be true. Caught in the ultimate war between good and evil, Aofie must make a choice about her future.

Will she have the strength and courage to take back her kingdom? Or will she turn her back on fate and choose her own destiny?

Welcome to the land of Labraid, a war-torn world where demons rise and the gods and goddesses toy with the desires of humans.

Aofie’s Quest is a dark and exciting fantasy adventure. If you like fierce heroines, treacherous royals, mischievous immortals, wild plot twists and Celtic Mythology, buy Aofie’s Quest today.

Links:
Goodreads
Bookbub
Amazon

Aeofie's Quest

Review:
What first attracted me to Aofie’s Quest was the cover, or more specifically the illustration of Aofie on it. She looks like the warrior she’s supposed to bebroad shoulders, muscular arms, leather armor (but not useless sexy leather armor), even one forearm that maybe looks bigger than the other, as I’d expect for an archer (though that may just be the angle of the picture). I thought, “Here is a author/illustrator who made an effort to genuinely depict a physically strong woman” and I very much appreciated that.

I’m uncertain if that carried through into the actual book though. Aofie does not come off as physically strong for a lot of the book. I don’t think she shoots a single arrow (losing her bow very early on) and she barely fights, which is only an issue since her being a warrior princess is emphasized several times. But she does survive quite a lot and undergoes a lot of emotional growth. One strongly senses that this was just the beginning of a longer journey for her. I feel this is the book in which she grew into the warrior princess title, rather that the one in which she actually is a warrior princess. I’m a bit disappointed by that, as I’m a little burned out on such Young Adult books. But I can’t penalize the book for being what it isa YA book.

The writing is quite readable, though there are a few anachronistic phrases tossed around on occasion and I thought the editing a little rough in patches. Though I’ll state for the record that I got my physical copy directly from the author and it might be an ARC, which wouldn’t have had it’s final edit yet. It’s not labeled as such (which is why I’m mentioning the editing), but I happen to know that e-copies that went out at roughly the same time were labeled as ARCs. So, there’s a chance this was meant to be. And if that’s the case, this whole editing comment can be disregard.

Romance is a strong subplot here, not the main brunt of the story. But I felt cheated by it. I appreciate that the man filling the possible love interest role for most of the book is a bit more gray than we’re used to. But the sudden departure from the established path that the romance took at the VERY END made me feel like every previous romantic hint should have just been left out entirely. I got a bit of whiplash from it; though I admit to liking the individual at the end better. (I hope I managed to write that sentence in a suitably vague and non-spoilerish way, but also convey my meaning. It’s often a challenge.)

All in all, I didn’t dislike Aofie’s Quest by any means. But I feel I’d probably like future books more than I did this one. It’s strong in the YA and that’s not my bread an jam. But for those for whom it is, I think Aofie will steal hearts.

Aongela J. FordAbout the Author:
Angela J. Ford is a bestselling author who writes epic fantasy and steamy fantasy romance with vivid worlds, gray characters and endings you just can’t guess. She has published 14 novels, 6 short stories, and sold over 32,000 copies.

Angela is also a Co-Founder of Booksniffer. A new app for book lovers, plus an effective way for authors to market their books to new readers.

She enjoys traveling, hiking, and playing World of Warcraft with her husband. First and foremost, Angela is a reader and can often be found with her nose in a book.

Aside from writing, she enjoys the challenge of working with marketing technology and builds websites for authors.

Angela is passionate about helping indie authors succeed and co-hosts a podcast called Indie Author Lifestyle.

If you happen to be in Nashville, you’ll most likely find her enjoying a white chocolate mocha and daydreaming about her next book.

Author links:
Website
Indie Author Lifestyle podcast
Marketing for Authors website
Booksniffer
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Amazon
Instagram
Newsletter

Giveaway
There is a tour wide giveaway for the bookstagram blitz for Aofie’s Quest. One winner will win digital copies of the Night of the Dark Fae series by Angela J. Ford. You can enter the giveaway here. Or use the rafflecopter below:
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Lola's Blog Tours graphic

I’m baaaack

My family and I had a wonderful trip to Manchester, England and Yunnan Provence, China. That may seem an odd combination, but we went to Manchester to spend Christmas and New Years with family and then on to China for a wedding and time with friends.

We’re back now though. Which means the blog is open again. I have a few reviews to post from my time traveling. But I didn’t read anywhere near as much as I expected to. We simply did not stop. So, the only reading I did was on flights.

I read The Highest Tide, Blood of Elves, and One Dead Vampire. I was pleased with all of them.

Reviews:

The Highest Tide, by Marian Perera:

I liked this more than I expected to. I appreciated that the woman is the physically strong one who saves the day most of the time. She’s quite capable. I appreciate that she was allowed to be scarred, even if the author wasn’t willing to go as far as to let her heroine be ugly. Even scarred, men think she is beautiful. Which, of course, she can be. But I felt like the focus detracted from the fact that women don’t have to be beautiful, even if flawed, to be a heroine. It felt like the author got half-way there on not classically beautiful representation. But I’ll take what I can get. Similarly, I appreciated the little LGBTQ acceptance slipped in with no fuss or obvious ulterior motive.

As for the romance, I liked both characters and liked them together. But I didn’t feel the romance was well developed. Too much of the book has them avoiding each other, so there isn’t a lot of interaction. And for one of the characters the ‘love’ is so instant even he says he feels as if he’d been struck by lightning.

All in all, however, I’d be more than happy to read the rest of the series.

Blood of Elves, by Andrzej Sapkowski

This book got me through a 10 hour flight. It was nothing like I was expecting though. I expected a lot of fighting, like in the prequel short stories. Instead, I found a lot of humor as a group of clueless men try to figure out raising a young girl. I quite enjoyed it, though I found it slow at times and Sapkowski’s writing style a little sparse for my taste. I’ll be continuing the series though.

One Dead Vampire, by Kris Ripper

Cute & fluffy. I generally loved Rocky and all of the side characters, plus all the representation. There’s a fat and fabulous main character, several characters of varied sexual and gender identities—using any number of pronouns—and characters of several races. I do think this is a book not written for those invested in remaining with-in the confines of the comfortable majority. I suspect I’ll see more than one review saying all of the pronouns and such were unnecessary or too hard to keep track of. But I think that’s more a matter of what you’re used to. It certainly works. 

I did feel like Rocky was too clueless about both the supernaturals and police procedure to have been raised in a supernatural cop family. Plus, I felt like all those cops/detectives enabling her compromising an investigation felt super unnatural. And the eventual reveal of the villain was too random to feel satisfying. 

The romance is secondary to the mystery and pretty mild. But, as I liked both characters, I was willing to roll with it. I was less able to accept that Rocky had given up her best friend because the friend had the audacity to go away to college. 

All in all, this was a higher than middle of the road read, but not five-stars for me. I’m well up for continuing the series though.