Friday, June 14, 2019

Book Blitz + Giveaway: Lost Horizon by Michelle Hercules

Happy Friday friends! I don't know about you but this week feels 17 days long. I am sooooo ready for the weekend. What better time for sleeping in and reading? Of course I think you should pick up this fabulous new take on the classic Oz tale to add to your collection. 

Lost Horizon
Michelle Hercules
(Oz in Space, #1)
Publication date: June 10th 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
A magical planet torn apart by war. A defiant space pilot cadet determined to save the ones she loves. The adventure of a lifetime.

Oz like you have never seen before.

Space Academy prodigy Dorothy Hanson doesn’t have time for love nonsense. She has one goal, complete the mission her parents started before their untimely death.

When a cosmic disturbance hits the Kansas Space Station, Dorothy seizes that opportunity to go on her first space voyage. She didn’t expect to be sucked into a vortex nor land on a strange planet ravaged by war.

Stranded, she must embark on a perilous mission to the Land of Oz, the only nation that possesses the technology to send her home. Three strangers join Dorothy in her quest, all carrying reasons of their own for reaching Emerald City. A man without memories marked with a strange symbol on his face. A cyborg with a chip on his shoulder and a mysterious past. And a scarred hellioncat plagued by nightmares in the dark.

Dorothy doesn’t know if she can trust them, but as their journey progresses, their bond becomes stronger and Dorothy’s feelings evolve from suspicion to caring too much. Torn between contradicting emotions, she must find the strength to fight the evil forces that stack up against them along the way. Surviving the trip on the yellow road is priority number one, but can she survive losing her heart?
Add it: Goodreads / Amazon

With my heart pounding fiercely inside my chest, I leave Horizon’s shadow, circling around its mangled front to peer at what lies on the other side. My jaw slackens when I spot an armored vehicle in the shape of a spider and as wide as a tank, attempting to stand on its multiple mechanical legs. They are bent and can’t withstand the weight of the vehicle’s body, which has also suffered substantial damage.
Oh my stars. That’s what I hit when Horizon crashed. Is there anyone inside?
I run toward the alien machinery, stopping short when it finally collapses in a heap of distorted metal. A large piece of its frame—the door is my guess—flies out as if pushed by an incredible force. A woman dressed in black-and-red armor jumps out of the vehicle, her flaming crimson hair a stark contrast to her colorless skin. Her appearance reminds me of the wicked witches depicted in ancient children’s books. She pierces me with soulless eyes before she menacingly raises one hand in my direction.
“You! How dare you attack me!”
“I didn’t mean to crash into you. It was an accident. Are you okay?”
She ignores my question and ambles forward, favoring one leg. Shocked to see someone who looks human by all accounts and speaks the official language of the Star Freedom Alliance, I don’t realize what the woman intends to do until a glowing red energy sphere erupts from the woman’s hand, bearing down on me.
I leap out of the projectile’s trajectory just in time, missing the blast by a hair. The ground explodes in a shower of debris where the energy sphere landed. My survival instincts kick in. Getting back on my feet, I whirl with my blaster, ready to fire. But the evil woman moves so fast I can’t take aim. She fires another power blast in my direction, hitting the tip of my weapon and sending it flying away.
Before I can retrieve my blaster, she launches herself at me, pushing me to the ground with her on top. Her cold fingers wrap around my neck, pressing hard as her demented stare pierces through my eyes. Thrashing my body as I attempt to free my airway from her merciless grip, I spot a great shadow cross the sky, momentarily blocking the sun. Mirus. He’s still nearby. The knowledge gives me renewed strength. I will not die today at the hands of this witch.
Toto jumps on her shoulder and bites her on the cheek. The deranged woman shrieks before releasing my neck to deal with him. Free at last, I shove her off me and quickly roll back onto my feet.
I need my blaster.
Searching manically for it, I spot the weapon only a few paces from where I stand. I make a dash for it, throwing my body on the ground when I sense a blast coming my way. Another explosion sounds nearby as I curl my fingers around the gun’s handle.
Rolling on my back, I take aim, firing in the next second. The blast hits the evil creature squarely on her chest, sending her flying backward. Using my hand for support, I push myself off the ground. The woman is lying on her back, utterly still. Moving closer with care, I keep my blaster poised to fire. When I stop next to her inert form, I understand why she’s not moving. The witch is dead.

USA Today bestselling author Michelle Hercules always knew creative arts were her calling but not in a million years did she think she would write a novel. With a background in fashion design she thought she would follow that path. But one day, out of the blue, she had an idea for a book. One page turned into ten pages, ten pages turned into a hundred, and before she knew, her first book, The Prophecy of Arcadia, was born.
Michelle Hercules resides in The Netherlands with her husband and daughter. She is currently working on the Legends of Gattica series.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Book Review: Stronger Than A Bronze Dragon by Mary Fan

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: Stronger Than A Bronze Dragon
Author: Mary Fan
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Pages: Hardcover; 384
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Source: FFBC Tours / Publisher
Content Screening: Mild Violence

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy steampunk fantasy with mythological roots.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
When a powerful viceroy arrives with a fleet of mechanical dragons and stops an attack on Anlei’s village, the villagers see him as a godsend. They agree to give him their sacred, enchanted River Pearl in exchange for permanent protection—if he’ll marry one of the village girls to solidify the alliance. Anlei is appalled when the viceroy selects her as a bride, but with the fate of her people at stake, she sees no choice but to consent. Anlei’s noble plans are sent into a tailspin, however, when a young thief steals the River Pearl for himself.

Knowing the viceroy won’t protect her village without the jewel, she takes matters into her own hands. But once she catches the thief, she discovers he needs the pearl just as much as she does. The two embark on an epic quest across the land and into the Courts of Hell, taking Anlei on a journey that reveals more is at stake than she could have ever imagined.

With incredibly vivid world building and fast-paced storytelling, Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon is great for readers who are looking for something fresh in epic fantasy.

This Chinese-inspired fantasy gave me a fluttery heart from the moment that I saw its cover. Let's be honest, it's a great time to be a reader in this movement of own voices books. I couldn't wait to see how Mary Fan would blend this rich history, a bit of steampunk, and a heavy dose of fantasy into something new. To say I was excited for this book probably doesn't even cover it, but we'll leave it at that. I was ready to be swept away.

Now, in all fairness, I am an extremely character driven reader and Anlei took a long while for me to actually enjoy. It's not that she's a bad character, by an means. Fan has created a young woman who is bright, fierce, and full of honor. Anlei isn't afraid to speak her mind, or to step into the face of danger to protect others. However the first third or so of the book it almost felt like Anlei's character was trying too hard to be the exact opposite of a Mary Sue. She was fierce and combative to the point of it feeling like she was a cardboard version of what she wanted to be. That was rough for me. As the story went on though, and I followed her through her adventures, I fell more in love with her attitude. If only a little more polish had been given to the dialogue that she had with a lot of other characters at the beginning, I feel like we could have started off on a better foot.

In terms of world building, which is my second necessity in fantasy reads, this one fell a little short. While the steampunk aspects were absolutely stunning (mechanical dragons anyone?), there wasn't enough explanation of Anlei's world to really make things feel solid. I tripped along with her as she flew across her land, headed for danger, but I never really felt like I was actually there. If I could wish for anything, it would be more time to really sink into the world and find my place in it. Maybe the finished book will have a map inside, which would be amazing! I would have loved to feel like I was actually there with Anlei.

The last thing I want to address is the plot, and this is a touchy one because I don't want to give anything away for potential readers. I'll simply say that this is a rich story, full of mythology, but it definitely drags in places. I honestly believe that this story could have done with some tightening up. Watching Anlei and Tai travel around and battle evil was fantastic. Following along with their banter and their harrowing adventures was a lot of fun. However some of their journey, and some of their dialogue, felt more forced than it should have. It made the book drag at times to the point I needed to skim ahead, but it didn't stop me from reading on.

Truthfully, I did enjoy my time with this book. Maybe not quite as much as I had originally hoped, but it was still so refreshing to get lost in such a culture rich story. If you're a fan of fantasy that has strong women and epic battles, this is a story for you.

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FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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