Tag Archives: fantasy

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Book Review: Stone and Steel, by Eboni Dunbar

I bought a the Pride 2021 Story Bundle, earlier this year, and Eboni Dunbar’s Stone and Steel was included in it.
stone and steel eboni dunbar
When General Aaliyah returns triumphant to the city of Titus, she expects to find the people prospering under the rule of her Queen, the stone mage Odessa. Instead, she finds a troubling imbalance in both the citizens’ well-being and Odessa’s rule. Aaliyah must rely on all of her allies, old and new, to do right by the city that made her.

my review

I liked this a lot. It’s not perfect. For a person who grew up without legitimate connections, Aaliyah turns out to gather some surprisingly powerful allies (largely without trying), which felt too coincidental. The version I read didn’t make it clear enough when speakers were changing. So, dialogue was sometimes hard to follow. (I don’t know if this was just formatting or what.) And as a not huge fan of novellas, I, of course, wish it was longer and more developed. But, for such a short piece, it does what it sets out to do. It evokes a real sense of place and time, gives you characters you care about, is chocked full of diversity, and wraps up with a satisfying conclusion. I’ll happily read more of Dunbar’s writing.

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Other Reviews:

Review: “Stone and Steel” by Eboni Dunbar

Regular Sip – Stone and Steel by Eboni Dunbar (Neon Hemlock)

 

Stone and Steel by Eboni Dunbar #BookReview

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Book Review: Blood Witch Rising, by Joe Ulric

I received a free Audible code for a copy of Blood Witch Rising, by Joe Ulric.

bloodwitch rising cover

A storm is brewing, and the world isn’t ready for it. Join Jack Ladd as he sheds light on the hidden world of magic and monsters. A world you already live in, but do your best to ignore.

Ages ago, the earth was cut off from other mythical realms in order to protect it from the depredations of the Asgardians. Now, a portal discovered in the Pacific Northwest is seen by a mysterious group as an opportunity to reverse that ancient act.

Aided by a sometimes helpful—but always irreverent—spirit familiar, Jack leaves the comfort of home to stop that from happening. His roommate Joshua, a Native American shaman, decides to come along. Big mistake. They are forced to navigate a world where refugees from the fabled Norse realms have been living in hiding since the bronze age. Old racial tensions and mistrust complicates this task as they take on nightmarish creatures intent on showing us how insignificant we are.

When Jack inadvertently uncovers secrets from his past, he must question his closest ally’s motives and decide if he is on the right path.

One thing is certain: should he fail, all manner of legendary beings could quickly overrun the earth. Beings still angry at being kept out of their playground for over five thousand years.

my review

I won’t go so far as to say that I disliked this. I didn’t. But I wasn’t particularly keen on it either. I finished it merely to have finished it.

I found the pacing inconsistent, the villains opaque, the characterizations shallow, and the world vague. The result was that I never felt deeply invested in the story or the characters. I also felt very much like there should be a previous book. There was just so much history merely hinted at—Jack’s brief military career, how he came to live and work with the dwarfs, the purpose of both all his combat and black smith training, how and why he chose to bond with a spirit familiar, him and his ‘aunt’s’ relationship, etc. I felt like a big chunk of the story was missing.

Having said all of that, I did like Jack. He was noble and tried doing the right thing in difficult situations. I thought the idea of dwarfs and elves in the modern world was interesting. And I appreciated the diversity in the cast. All in all, I think this book just needs to find it’s proper audience. Like I said, I didn’t think it was bad. I just didn’t think it worked particularly well for me.

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traitor of the black crown

Book Review: Traitors of the Black Crown, by Cate Pearce

I received a copy of Cate Pearces‘s Traitors of the Black Crown through Netgalley. In a completely unrelated turn of events, the book was later featured on Sadie’s Spotlight.

COVER - Traitors of the Black Crown

Three women will betray the black crown. A Knight. A Duchess. A Queen.

Raena Schinen narrowly escaped when the Queen’s guard murdered her entire family. If Raena’s survival is exposed, she’ll be next. For fifteen years Raena has hidden as a male Knight, “Sir Rowan”, consumed by her vengeful desire to assassinate the Queen.

The moment Raena is close enough to exact her revenge, she is unexpectedly exiled to a foreign land. There she serves the common-born Duchess Aven Colby, whose suspicious kinship with the Queen further threatens Raena’s delicate secrets.

Just as they become united in a common goal to curb a looming invasion, unexpected heat and romance blossoms between “Sir Rowan” and Aven. The peril demands they set out on a journey to form clandestine political alliances, risking the Queen’s wrath, and drawing Raena and Aven closer together.

But no one in the kingdom could have imagined the sinister foe rising from below the surface. In order to save themselves and those they love, Raena, Aven, and the Queen must recognize who are the oppressors and who will unite against the Black Crown.

my review

I’m going to go with “OK” for my reaction to this book. It’s OK. I’m not saying it’s only OK, but rather that it is OK. I’m not out here shouting from the rooftops how great it is. But I also was never tempted to DNF it and I won’t call it anything less than OK.

But it was slow, with a plot that spreads out like a flood plain. Never gone, but never starkly defined by a notable riverbank either. It’s wide and placid. But it is also full of some relatable characters (though the villains aren’t particularly nuanced, if I’m honestly), an interesting world, political intrigue, and nice writing.

I will complain, though, about the ‘could have been resolved with a conversation’ conflict. Granted, it’s on a national scale here, instead of a romantic relationship scale (which is where you normally see such things). But it’s still the underpinning friction of the whole novel.

All in all, I’d read another Pearce book, but I don’t think I’m in a hurry to get the sequel to Traitors of the Black Crown.

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Other Reviews:

Book Review: Traitors of the Black Crown by Cate Pearce

Traitors of the Black Crown – Book Review