Review & Intl Giveaway: Beasts of the Frozen Sun, written by Jill Criswell

Review & Intl Giveaway: Beasts of the Frozen Sun, written by Jill Criswell
Blog Tour: Three Days in Florence, written by Chrissie Manby | Review

Beasts of the Frozen Sun(Frozen Sun Saga #1) by Jill Criswell

Publication date: August 6, 2019 
Publisher: Blackstone
Pages: 368
Genre: Fantasy, YA(NA)
Buy: Book Depository | Wordery

Synopsis:
Burn brightly. Love fiercely. For all else is dust.
Every child of Glasnith learns the last words of Aillira, the god-gifted mortal whose doomed love affair sparked a war of gods and men, and Lira of clan Stone knows the story better than most. As a descendant of Aillira and god-gifted in her own right, she has the power to read people’s souls, to see someone’s true essence with only a touch of her hand.
When a golden-haired warrior washes up on the shores of her homeland–one of the fearful marauders from the land of the Frozen Sun–Lira helps the wounded man instead of turning him in. After reading his soul, she realizes Reyker is different than his brethren who attack the coasts of Glasnith. He confides in her that he’s been cursed with what his people call battle-madness, forced to fight for the warlord known as the Dragon, a powerful tyrant determined to reignite the ancient war that Aillira started.
As Lira and Reyker form a bond forbidden by both their clans, the wrath of the Dragon falls upon them and all of Glasnith, and Lira finds herself facing the same tragic fate as her ancestor. The battle for Lira’s life, for Reyker’s soul, and for their peoples’ freedom has only just begun.

Trigger Warnings: Death, Abuse, mentions of rape

– My Thoughts –

I was in awe after seeing the cover of Beasts of the Frozen Sun by Jill Criswell and its inside was almost as beautiful as its outside. Let’s unpack my thoughts on this dark YA- borders on NA- fantasy and see if it’s something you’d love.

The enemy’s small army was spread out before him, waving their weapons, shouting, beating in wild fury upon their shields.

Beasts starts with a bloody battle where we meet one of our protagonists Reyker who is later sent to destroy another village where our heroine Lira lives. In the beginning, Reyker could be viewed as a soul-less pillager as we just witnessed the devastation he causes along with the other warriors fighting for a god called the Dragon. However, we soon realize that he’s there against his will and that he’s fighting to keep his humanity alive.

Lira is a soul-reader; she was god-gifted or as more commonly known as a Daughter of Aillira. Daughters of Aillira all have different sorts of magic but not all of the women in Lira’s island have the abilities. Women have two options on this island of Glasnith: get married or pledge themselves to Aillira’s Temple. As a grand-daughter of her clan’s leader, she should have some modicum of the freedom but alas, that’s only a dream for Lira. She’s used as a weapon for her clan like all the other god gifted women. One day, after witnessing the execution of a man in which she was complicit, she discovers a wounded foreigner near the shores and it’s none other than Reyker. Due to their history, Lira feels compelled to help Reyker without thinking of its consequences. Soon, Lira will have to choose between saving her village and her foreigner..her beast from the lands of the Frozen Sun.

You wield the lost sword of the Frozen Sun. A weapon of the Ice Gods in the hands of the Green Gods’ soul-reader. ’Tis a story poets will pen, a tale fit for the scriptures.

There’s no doubt that Jill Criswell has written a wonderful story based off of Celtic mythology where Gods toy with mortals and bend them to their will. I loved the forbidden aspect of romance and the historical setting with clans, warriors, badass women all of whom were equipped with different powers!! There’s the bit of an anti-hero aspect to Reyker too and I loved the way the author slowly unpacked the reasons behind his darkness. It was beautiful to watch the way Lira and Reyker’s friendship unfolded, how they learned to communicate, how Lira helped Reyker tread through a path of darkness into the light. The villain was pretty frightening and even though he played a minor role in this book, his actions suggest a bigger role in the upcoming sequel. Although I loved the characters, the setting, and the cliffhanger ending, there was something missing in the book. Keeping in mind that I read an ARC, I found that a lot of the actions seemed repetitive to me. The majority of the story takes place on the island and I wanted them to get out of the island at some point. If you’d noticed, I wrote NA in parentheses besides genre(above in description) because Beasts of the Frozen Sun reads more like an NA fantasy with the pace of YA.

Overall, I would recommend this book if you are looking for a darker, grittier fantasy that borders on NA more than YA; if you’re a lover of a little bit of mystery, fantasy, star-crossed lovers angst, politics, and romance. Since this is the first book in a trilogy, there are a lot of things that were left unexplained but it definitely kept me on my toes which I appreciated very much! Book two in the Frozen Sun saga is set to release sometime next year.

Thanks to the publisher for gifting me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Jill Criswell is a writer of Young Adult Historical Fantasy. She was born and raised in the swamps of northeastern Florida. She earned degrees in English and Psychology and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida. Her greatest passion, besides reading and writing, is traveling the world; she’s visited fifty countries across six continents, falling in love with places like Iceland, Namibia, and Cambodia. She works as a university English teacher and lives in South Carolina, near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with her husband and daughter (who is named after a volcano in Iceland).

Website | Goodreads |  Twitter

International Giveaway

Thanks to the publisher, I’ll be giving away two hardcovers of Beasts of the Frozen Sun and exclusive tote bags! Open internationally. Just click on the image below:

International Giveaway: Beasts of the Frozen Sun

P.S.: If the image isn’t clickable for any reason, please click here.

Blog Tour: The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson | Review & INT Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson | Review & INT Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson | Review & INT Giveaway

The Storm Crow(The ​Storm Crow #1) by Kalyn Josephson

Publication date: July 9, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Buy:
Book Depository | Wordery

Synopsis:

In the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows are part of every aspect of life…until the Illucian empire invades, destroying everything.

That terrible night has thrown Princess Anthia into a deep depression. Her sister Caliza is busy running the kingdom after their mother’s death, but all Thia can do is think of all she has lost.

But when Caliza is forced to agree to a marriage between Thia and the crown prince of Illucia, Thia is finally spurred into action. And after stumbling upon a hidden Crow egg in the rubble of a rookery, she and her sister devise a dangerous plan to hatch the egg in secret and get back what was taken from them.

Trigger Warnings Depression, on page violence,self-harm

Should You read The Storm Crow?

“A storm. A tempest of lightning and thunder with the kind of heart found only in legends. A heart full of kindness and courage and strength.”

The Storm Crow was a love at first sight. The moment I laid my eyes on the dark gorgouesness of a cover, I was smitten and it didn’t matter that one of the crow’s beady eyes was staring at me from the said cover. *Enough said* Did the inside of the book captivate me as much as it’s outside did? Let’s find out..

The story starts with a beautiful scene where Princess Anthia or Thia is riding on top of a crow. Anthia is the princess of the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire where elemental crows are the most important, albeit sacred, things since forever. A future without the crows is unthinkable, but that is what will happen next.

This should be time of merriment as a festival is going on to celebrate the sacred (crow)egg hatching ceremony. However, sounds of laughter are soon replaced with horrified screams when fire breaks out in the Royal rookery(where the eggs are kept). Thia escapes the fire with the help of her warrior friend Kiva, but her mother and godmother does not.

Months after the fire, Thia is left with painful memories and burn scars, all because of a handful of Rhodairen nobels who betrayed their country to their enemy kingdom Illucia. Thia’s problems, however, is only just beginning as she learns that she has to marry the prince of Illucia, Ericen. Thia is helpless, as her sister (who’s the Queen now) explains that Illucia has the power to destroy what’s left of Rhodaire and without a single crow, they would be helpless in a fight against Illucia. Thia has no choice but to meet with the ‘cruel’ Illucian prince and go with him to Illucia. However, it seems that not all hope is lost for Thia when she finds a lone crow egg in the destroyed rookery. Thia must carry the egg to Illucia as a royal has to present during the hatching. Will Thia be able to survive Illucia, the Illucian Queen and do all of this while trying to get the egg to hatch?

Okay. It's time to dissect even further

I loved the writing. It wasn’t flowery or magical but I wasn’t left wanting for it. The story kept me engaged and sometimes on edge with the anticipation of what’s to come. With that said, The Storm Crow is the first book in a duology so there wasn’t much of a worldbuilding or action. This was a purely character-driven story where we accompany Thia on her journey from her home to uncharted enemy territory; all the while trying to cope with depression, mental and physical torture, basically escaping death and protecting the allegedly last crow egg. I loved watching Thia and sister communicate(even if it wasn’t for long) and I also loved Thia and Kiva’s relationship, Thia and Ericen’s banter so very much.

Click to view spoilers Ericen, as it turns out, was not entirely a bad guy. I mean, he was tortured(implied) by his mother and technically, he had no hand in the slaughter of the crows and people. All of Thia and Ericen’s conversations were giving me hope of a marriage of convenience OTP; however, it was not meant to be 😦

“He was everywhere; I couldn’t escape him. Surely, it would only be worse in Illucia. He was in my head, in my thoughts and my emotions. He’d burrowed underneath my skin with his vicious smiles and barbed, caustic words, and everywhere I went, there he was.”

Also, I loved that a fantasy protagonist mentioned that she’s depressed out loud and there’s also a scene where Kiva is seen describing PTSD, and Kive is also gay and Ericen is bisexual am just assuming..

“It isn’t self-pity!” I screamed. “I’m depressed!”

There was a slight hint of a love triangle in the end but I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that in the sequel because this woman is NOT a fan of them.

Overall, I highly recommend this epic fantasy to you if you would love reading about magical crows, feuding kingdoms, bloodthirsty queens, lovable sister and friend relationships, broody and mysterious princes, an herione “who is slowly growing to a badass” you can relate to, an underground rebellion and so many other things!

Thanks to Midas PR for including me on the blog tour and for gifting me a physical copy in exchange for an honest review.

VERDICT: 

About the Author:

Kalyn Josephson

You can connect with author Kalyn Josephson through her website or Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule:

Click to know the entire blog schedule for The Storm Crow blog tour. Don’t forget to visit these amazing book bloggers to learn more about book and enter more giveaways! The

Blog Tour: Shadow & Flame(Rime Chronicles #2) by Mindee Arnett | Review + INTL Giveaway

Blog Tour | Shadow & Flame(Rime Chronicles #2) by Mindee Arnett

Blog Tour | Shadow & Flame(Rime Chronicles #2) by Mindee Arnett

About the Book:

Publisher: Balzer + Bray Publication Date: 4th June, 2019   Paperback: 457 Pages   Genre: YA fantasy
Goodreads   Buy:Book Depository | Wordery | Amazon

SYNOPSIS

From acclaimed author Mindee Arnett comes the thrilling conclusion of the stunningly epic, action-packed, and romantic fantasy adventure about a powerful girl possessed of strange magic, the outcast prince she loves, and the kingdom that has torn them apart.

Kate and Corwin are on the run, desperate for allies in a new world of war among the kingdoms of Rime. As the book opens, Kate suffers a massive loss, one that will shape the struggle for freedom of all wilders and magic folk—that is, if Kate can learn to control her own power.

Should You read Shadow & Flame by Mindee Arnett?

“He was no different from any other man. He bled and wept and suffered and loved.”

Disclaimer: You should obviously not read Shadow & Flame if you haven't read Onyx and Ivory, the first book in the duology. This review may contain spoilers.

Shadow & Flame follows Kate Brighton and gang six months after the conclusion of Onyx and Ivory. We get to read dual povs of Kate and prince Corwin as we did in the previous book. I liked Shadow & Flame more than its predecessor because of its pace, action sequences, twists and turns.

The story starts with a rescue operation where Kate ultimately loses her half brother along with other wilders. The rescue operation is not a total failure as she also rescues some wilders. Then we fast forward a year, where we see that a war was fought and the wilders managed to gain a stronghold in an area of Rime. Kate is now called Wilder Queen, along with other monikers. We also see Kate battle hardened and quick to make decisions which ultimately leads her and her friends into great trouble.

“Signe did not cry. Not for anything. But now, she let out a deep, tremulous sob against Dal’s chest.”

Prince Corwin- lest I forget- also went through many upheavals and his character arc has developed throughout the book. I didn’t like him at all in Onyx & Ivory but he seems more relatable now except in some places.

We didn’t get to read more of Dal’s- Corwin’s best friend- dialogues and that was one of the few things I hated.

Overall, I highly recommend this duology because of it’s interesting characters, action filled plot. The romance isn’t central to the story but it’s there. There’s also horses, magic, tragedy and hope.

Thanks to the publisher for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

VERDICT:  


About the Author:

Shadow & Flame(Rime Chronicles #2) by Mindee Arnett

YA Author of THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR, a contemporary fantasy coming March 5, 2013 from Tor Teen (Macmillan) and AVALON, a YA sci-fi thriller coming Winter 2014 from Balzer+Bray (HarperCollins). Represented by the fabulous Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary. Addicted to jumping horses and telling tales of magic, the macabre, and outer space.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr

Tour Schedule:

June 4th

 

June 5th

Ve_xo – Review
Spinatale Reviews – Review
The Reading Corner for All – Review + Favourite Quotes
B For Bookslut – Review
 

June 6th

Bibliobibuli YA – Guest Post
Blunt Book Blog – Review + Favourite Quotes
Milky Way of Books – Review
Bookishly Nerdy – Review + Favourite Quotes
 

June 7th

Kait Plus Books – Interview
a_feast_of_pages – Review
Ruby’s Books – Review + Playlist + Favourite Quotes
Kirsty Reads – Review
 

June 8th

Moonlight Rendezvous – Review + Favourite Quotes
Book Slaying – Review
 

June 9th

L.M. Durand – Guest Post
Sophie Reads YA – Review
Dazzled by Books – Review + Favourite Quotes
 

June 10th

The Reading Faery – Interview
Novel Nerd Faction – Review + Playlist
Book Rambler – Review
Flyleaf Chronicles – Review