Tuesday, August 22, 2017

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson - Early Review

Release Date: September 26, 2017

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized among them. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes – a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love, violating the fair folks’ ruthless Good Law. There's only one way to save both their lives, Isobel must drink from the Green Well, whose water will transform her into a fair one—at the cost of her Craft, for immortality is as stagnant as it is timeless.

Isobel has a choice: she can sacrifice her art for a future, or arm herself with paint and canvas against the ancient power of the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

---------------------------- Amazon, B&N, Goodreads ----------------------------

So I went to ComicCon International in San Diego in July and rushed to the Simon & Schuster booth to ask about this book (because faeries, duh) but I wasn't able to attend the day they were giving them away. HOWEVER, the awesome people there told me to email them and very kindly sent me a copy!

An Enchantment of Ravens follows Isobel, a gifted painter in a world where the powerful, i.e. the Fae, are unable to actually create things. The people in the town of Whimsy use their Craft to create things of beauty that the Fae from the World Beyond want, mostly to appease their vanity. When Isobel's gift reveals weaknesses in powerful Fae, including the Autumn Prince, Rook, she is taken into the World Beyond to face punishment. However, the Faery world is in chaos, and a little bit of humanity might be exactly what they need. 

I had such high expectations of this book, and in most ways it met them. I love the ethereal yet dark style that books about Fae usually have. The world that Margaret Rogerson has created has all that - a town on the border of magic that only experiences summer, beautiful and yet incredibly cruel creatures that come out of the forest to buy (and trick) humans into giving them what they want. Names and words mean everything and Isobel is incredibly adept at keeping herself and her family safe. I loved the idea of Craft, that things of beauty can only be made by people who can experience the full spectrum of feeling and emotion (which, arguably, most Fae cannot), that humans and these mythical creatures are inevitably tied together somehow. I liked Isobel and thought she was so intelligent and cunning and resourceful. I liked the development of Rook as he realizes that the thing that makes Isobel such a good artist (her ability to understand people) isn't a weakness, but something beautiful. 

There were also some things that didn't meet my expectations. I wished there to be more development between Isobel and Rook. While I was on board for their interactions and thought that the progression of their relationship made sense, I was left feeling like there could have been more depth and nuance to their changing feelings, especially considering the end. That being said, their chemistry was believable and you are rooting for them almost from the beginning. I also felt there was a strange balance of action and world building. I thought that the world was well developed and unique and that Isobel and Rook's journey had some great action scenes. However, a good part of the story also happens in the Faery court and it felt a little laggy to me. There were parts I liked there, such as going back to Craft and the price of immortality, and seeing Isobel become really strategic, but the story lost my attention at times. 

Overall, I loved the world and characters that Margaret Rogerson has created. I have been waiting for a haunting and lovely Fae story for a while and this totally met that need. I think the real strength of the story is Isobel (and Margaret's) experience with creation and art and the important place it has for people. An Enchantment of Ravens is a floaty and romantic story, with a resourceful, headstrong artist unafraid to use her passion for painting to save her family and the world she loves (no matter how messed up it may be). 

** I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks S&S! **
Check out more about Margaret Rogerson here: http://www.margaretrogerson.com

Margaret Rogerson has worked a variety of jobs ranging from canoe livery counter girl to graphic designer. She has a bachelor's degree in cultural anthropology from Miami University. When not reading or writing, she enjoys sketching, gaming, making pudding, and watching more documentaries than is socially acceptable (according to some). She lives near Cincinnati, Ohio. An Enchantment of Ravens is her debut novel. 

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Of Flame and Fate by Cecy Robson - Early Review

Release Date: September 26, 2017

Taran Wird, who commands the power to wield fire and lightning, is an oddity in the supernatural world. But neither Taran nor her unique sisters compare to the bizarre entity known as Destiny. And Taran is assigned to protect her.

Born of two witches, Destiny is revered among the supernatural elite for her acute ability to predict the future. Her biggest prophecy involves Taran’s sister, Celia, whom Destiny decreed will bear children strong enough to take on the evil that’s rising. Yet Destiny is not alone in her predictions, or individuality.

When Johnny Fate, a rock star among humans and a male version of Destiny is discovered, his powers and Destiny’s clash, triggering the start of Destiny’s demise and altering the fate of Celia’s unborn children.

Taran, her werewolf lover Gemini, and their allies must determine if it’s Fate who will decide what will become of Celia’s children, or if their lives and the world will perish with Destiny.

---------------------------- Amazon, B&N, Goodreads ----------------------------

Of Flame and Fate is 8th book in the Weird Girls series and the 3rd book focusing on Taran. It follows Taran Wird as she and her sisters try to protect their sister Celia and the world from impending magical doom (dun dun DUUUUNNNN). 

The strength of the whole series and Taran's books in particular is her voice. Sassy and hilarious, Taran makes for a great narrator. She is so focused on her mission of protecting her sister and in turn, saving the world. The stakes are raised in this book, and Taran's tone and her determination parallels the rising tensions among the supernatural community as things spiral out of control. Through it all, though, is Taran and Gemini's relationship. Sweet, supportive, and always amusing (because their personalities are polar opposites), it is the guiding light in a world of crazy. 

Cecy has set the groundwork for a complex supernatural world and conflict. With Fate and Destiny at odds (literally, as people with strong personalities to boot), the lore is deep and is only building with each book. As more and more is revealed, not only about Celia but about all the Wird sisters, readers can get more and more excited about where the story is going to go (and what the future holds, no matter which sister is your favorite!). 

The book starts off with an action packed battle scene, and while I think they are well written and pull you in immediately to not only the conflict but also Taran's personality, I wish there were a few more intimate moments between Taran and her sisters (and Gemini, though those aren't really lacking) and less non-stop running around. I liked the fact that more is revealed in this book, though I kind of wished that it was revealed more throughout, rather than a lot of it towards the end. It would have tied the story together a little bit between the fight scenes and the ensuing chaos. While I love this series, Celia is still my favorite, and I found myself skimming over some of the fight scenes and not missing any crucial information to look for the presence of the other Wird girls. 

Overall, Of Flame and Fate is a romping, action-packed, romantic story of Taran and her sisters. You have the read Taran's other books, Of Flame and Promise and Of Flame and Light to understand literally anything in this book. My review for Of Flame and Promise is here. I also highly recommend reading the first five books in the series that star Celia, Taran's sister! If you are looking for a well-written, exciting, humor-filled paranormal novel for the fall, this series and this book is just the ticket. 
** I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review **
Find out more about Cecy Robson and her books here: http://www.cecyrobson.com

Cecy (pronounced Sessy) Robson is the new adult and contemporary romance author of the Shattered Past series, the O’Brien Family novels and new Carolina Beach series, as well as the award-winning author of the Weird Girls urban fantasy romance series. A 2016 double nominated RITA® finalist for Once Pure and Once Kissed, Cecy is a recovering Jersey girl living in the South who enjoys carbs way too much, and exercise way too little. Gifted and cursed with an overactive imagination, you can typically find her on her laptop silencing the yappy characters in her head by telling their stories.

Happy Reading!