Cover Reveal + Giveaway: Crystal Caverns (Air Awakens #5)

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In an absolutely unsurprising turn of events, the last cover in the Air Awakens series is EPIC.


Are


You


Ready?


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Title: Crystal Crowned
Series: Air Awakens (#5)
Author: Elise Kova
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Published by: Silver Wing Press
Release Date: July 12, 2016
Find it on Goodreads!

Long live Solaris.

One bloodthirsty ruler has been overthrown by another, casting the shadow of death over the Solaris Empire. Vhalla Yarl stands upon the stage of fate, prepared to do battle one final time. Fragile alliances will be tested and new bonds will be formed as the world is reshaped. She fights as the champion of peace, but when the night is darkest will she be able to pay the price of a new dawn?

Pre-order it from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N


About the Author

View More: http://radred.pass.us/joseph-wedding-2015-jpeg Elise Kova has always had a passion for storytelling. She wrote her first novella, a high-fantasy, in sixth grade. Over the years she’s honed her love of literature with everything from fantasy to romance, science fiction to mystery, and whatever else catches her eye.

Elise lives in Saint Petersburg, Florida, where she’s currently working on the next installment in her debut YA fantasy series: Air Awakens. She enjoys video games, anime, table-top role playing games, and many other forms of “geekdom.” She loves talking with fans on Twitter (@EliseKova) and Facebook. Visit her website, EliseKova.com, for news and extras about her books!


New to the Air Awakens series?

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Check out Air Awakens (#1) on Goodreads!

Buy Air Awakens from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | Chapters/Indigo

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Check out Fire Falling (#2) on Goodreads!

Buy Fire Falling from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | Chapters/Indigo

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Check out Earth’s End (#3) on Goodreads!

Buy Earth’s End from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | Chapters/Indigo

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Check out Water’s Wrath (#4) on Goodreads!

Pre-order Water’s Wrath from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | Chapters/Indigo


Giveaway!

[click here for a chance to win a cover print from the Air Awakens series, a swag pack, and a paperback of Crystal Crowned]

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eArc Review + Giveaway – Water’s Wrath (Air Awakens #4)

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Title: Water’s WrathWaters-Wrath-Cover-Only-635x1024
Series: Air Awakens (#4)
Author: Elise Kova
Pages: 350
Genre: Romance, Fantasy
Published by: Silver Wing Press
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Find it on Goodreads!

MY RATING: 2 OUT OF 5 STARS. A ROLLER-COASTER OF QUALITY. RECOMMENDED, FOR THE SAKE OF THE OVERALL SERIES.

Librarian turned sorcerer. Sorcerer turned hero. Hero turned puppet.

The Solaris Empire found victory in the North and, at the cost of her heart and her innocence, Vhalla Yarl has earned her freedom. But the true fight is only beginning as the secret forces that have been lurking in the shadows, tugging at the strings of Vhalla’s fate, finally come to light. Nowhere is safe, and Vhalla must tread carefully or else she’ll fall into the waiting arms of her greatest foe. Or former lover.

~ My Thoughts (+Minor Spoilers)~

I don’t know how to write this review without being overly critical, so I’m just going to have to ask fans of the series to forgive me instead.

I found the first third of Water’s Wrath incredibly clunky. The tension felt forced, the plot arc was rushed and poorly executed, and Jax’s presence felt kind of ridiculous. I appreciated the first few chapters, and I like that I can see Elise Kova’s writing style improving with each novel she writes. Unfortunately, that is not enough to save the beginning of Water’s Wrath. I didn’t like it, I didn’t understand it, it didn’t feel compelling, the stakes didn’t feel real, and I found it’s conclusion utterly unsatisfying in almost every way.

The second third of the narrative  was the saving grace of the book. Without it, I honestly don’t know what the story would have been. I loved the return of Aldrick as the dark prince, and I loved the intimacy between him and Vhalla while they were both forced to keep each other at arm’s length. And I will always love Baldair and Daniel, regardless of what they do.

As for the last third, it started strong but quickly fell apart. The death was actually unexpected, for once, but as always, it functioned only as a plot device and lost all relevance in about three chapters. The surprise villain of this book was also not a surprise in any way, and I honestly think it really (dare I say it?) lazy that the series makes absolutely no effort to hide Vhalla’s antagonists. For once, it would be nice to see someone Vhalla completely trusts reveal themselves as a villain, as opposed to it always being someone the reader is very aware either ‘looks evil’ or ‘acts suspiciously’. As a plus, I did appreciated the epic atmosphere of the only battle in the book between Vhalla and the surprise villain, but it was greatly overshadowed by my confusion, disbelief, and my complete lack of surprise. For the book with the highest stakes thus far (and easily the worst villain?), it lacked any tension or suspense whatsoever. And don’t even get me started on how difficult it is not to laugh when  the evil villain takes the time to explain his evil plan to Vhalla rather than just killing her (both of the main villains in the book do this).

Also, the magic system of Air Awakens has finally stopped making sense. Either I don’t understand the magic of crystals very well, or it wasn’t explained very well–either way, things just started happening that didn’t make any sense with the previously defined magic system, and even the elemental magic started doing things I didn’t find plausible or believable at all. In a nutshell, I just feel like sorcerers have been reduced to nothing but deus-ex-machinas (and the crystals are literally this anyway), as they can do pretty much whatever the plot needs them to do, regardless of how loose the ties are with their actual elemental power.

The character development in this novel was also really spotty, which is surprising, since the strongest aspect of this series has always been the characters. Aldrick makes a wickedly strong return, and Baldair and Daniel are always amazing, but everyone else–including Vhalla–feels lackluster, and I am repeatedly disappointed by the characterization of Elecia, who literally serves exactly two purposes: she either heals people, or causes Vhalla unnecessary drama.

The biggest disappointment of this book, however, is the ending. For one thing, Vhalla is literally never in any real danger. Maybe that’s because the story is narrated by her; maybe it’s because the series literally depends on her. I don’t know. The point is, why should I be afraid for Vhalla if I know, full well, that she will always be fine? This doesn’t even have to relate to this book in particular–it’s just a comment about the series in general. There’s no sense of fear, so Vhalla’s pain always packs very little emotional punch. Also, I cannot express the deep, deep disappointment I felt with the deaths hurriedly shoved into literally the last 1% of this book. Not only did these deaths feel cheap, they were also so incredibly convenient that it took my breath away. Don’t worry Vhalla, you don’t know how you’re going to solve the biggest overarching problem of the series? Surprise, you don’t have to, because everything was conveniently solved for you in three lines of off-hand dialogue. And even if these deaths turn out to be a lie, for believing they’re real, Vhalla (and friends) are (forgive me) idiots. There’s no way to win here: either they’re really dead and it’s horrible, or they’re not and it’s horrible.

It’s just a mess.


Pre-order it from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo


Giveaway!

[click here for a chance to have your name in Crystal Crowned]

Ebook Review – Earth’s End (Air Awakens #3)

Title: Earth’s EndEarths-End-Cover-Only
Series: Air Awakens (#3)
Author: Elise Kova
Pages: 350
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Published by: Silver Wing Press
Release Date: February 11, 2016
Find it on Goodreads!

MY RATING: 4.5 OUT OF 5 STARS. A WICKEDLY STRONG COMEBACK IN A FANTASTIC SERIES. 100% RECOMMENDED.

A woman awoken in air, a soldier forged by fire, a weapon risen from blood.

Vhalla Yarl has made it to the warfront in the North. Forged by blood and fire, she has steeled her heart for the final battle of the Solaris Empire’s conquest. The choices before Vhalla are no longer servitude or freedom, they are servitude or death. The stakes have never been higher as the Emperor maintains his iron grip on her fate, holding everything Vhalla still has left to lose in the balance.

~ My Thoughts (+Minor Spoilers)~

While I admit to having mixed feelings about Fire FallingEarth’s End is undeniably strong in nearly every place its predecessor is lacking. The story is fantastically paced, the secondary characters absolutely come life, the tension is electric, and the romance promises to triple your heartbeat.

Evidently, there’s a lot to love about this sequel. Fans of the series will be cheered to discover Vhalla as kick-ass as she’s always been, but with a refreshing degree of vulnerability as well. She may be hurting–pretty much constantly–but she always forces herself to keep moving, and her resilience, more than anything else, defines her in this book. She’s become quite the efficient killer, but she still retains a great ability to emphasize with those around her; she’s a weapon for the Empire, undeniably so, but she experiences more than one moment of doubt, revealing the tenderness in Vhalla’s heart that the Emperor has yet to completely destroy.

Aldrick, on the other hand, has lost most (if not all) of his previously broody personality, but the sweet, dedicated, and passionate man that’s slipped into his place still demands your attention. At last, readers get to see an Aldrick willing to hope against all odds that things will work out for him and Vhalla, and that hope empowers him to challenge his father again and again and again. This transformation may even feel a little out of character for our dark prince–and it is, I think–but the change adds incredible depth to Aldrick’s personality, and more so, it fuels a powerful change in Vhalla at the end of the novel, one that forces her to realize something that’s always been broken about her love for the prince.

But the real gem of this story, in my opinion, is neither Vhalla nor Aldrick–instead, it’s Daniel and Baldair. The secondary characters make an incredible comeback in this novel, which is beyond fantastic to see, read, and experience, especially after their backseat role in Fire Falling. Daniel is amazing, and I love him a little more every time he appears in the narrative. He’s endearing, reliable, supportive, and loving, which I find makes him a powerful foil for Aldrick, who is the same but in a completely different way. They are contrasts, the light and dark of Vhalla’s capacity to love, and I deeply appreciate that both men have a foot in either camp, serving as reflections of what Vhalla needs, not in a partner, but in herself.

And do not even get me started on Baldair! I was always on the fence about my feelings for the younger prince, but damn, he is everything this series has ever needed. His friendship with Vhalla is incredible, and I cannot tell you how many times I laughed or smiled when these two interacted. And the naked scene has got to be one of my favourite moments in the entire series thus far–you’ll just have to take my word for it. Moreover, Baldair and Aldrick also get a lot of character development as brothers, and it’s great to finally see the two try to mend the rift that has opened between them, even if it’s a bumpy rode with more pain than payoff.

Even Elecia gets a gold star in this book. She may have nearly completely disappeared after the first quarter of the story, but her friendship with Fritz humanizes her in a way that the entirety of Fire Falling failed to manage. Her truce with Vhalla feels real, and the way it slowly develops into a friendship born of mutual trust and admiration is fantastic to see between the two strongest women in the series thus introduced.

As always, then, I am happy to say that the characters are still the best and strongest part of these books. The magic is still exciting and new, the plot is still interesting, the tension is still great, but whether or not you love the characters is what will make or break this series for you.

All of that being said, I do still have several critiques of Earth’s End. My biggest is in terms of the book’s structure; like both Air Awakens and Fire Falling, this novel suffered from having an obvious false ending, only for the last four chapters to end in the same way the other two books have–with all the shit hitting the fan in the worst way imaginable. That is to say: nothing good ever happens in the last few chapters of these books, and knowing that robs the ending of a lot of its suspense, because readers can predict the disaster from miles away. The false ending is always kind of cheesy as well, with sentiments like, “we did it, things will get better now, hurrah!” which always turns out to be a lie; then, by the end of the book, there’s a cliffhanger of varying intensity, with a problem that divides Vhalla and Aldrick in way that is usually pretty predictable based on the set-up of the rest of the novel. Without giving it away, I saw the plot twist of Earth’s End coming for at least half of the book, and while that did not ruin how much I still enjoyed it, it was the biggest reason I had to knock half a star off my rating, because really, both Aldrick and Vhalla were incredibly naive not to foresee this obviously upcoming disaster.

Additionally, I feel the best chapters for Aldrick were the last few. That isn’t to void what I said earlier, but seeing him get angry and unstable was incredible, and it reminded me of all the reasons I first fell in the love with his character. It was at that same point, however, that I realized what this book had always been missing: the dark side to the dark prince. I hope we see more of that Aldrick return in Water’s Wrath.

Speaking of characterization, the Emperor could really use some more fleshing out. What he says is rather scary, I suppose, but the man himself feels a little bland and cliche on the whole, lacking a lot of motivation and that ‘fear factor’ which would make me as afraid for Vhalla as she is for herself while around him. Also, I have to agree with the Emperor about his confusion in regards to why Vhalla’s word is so accepted and appreciated at counsel meetings. While I think it’s great that she gets to use her library knowledge to its fullest potential, I struggle to understand how a room full of highly-trained, heavily-experienced generals could even take her seriously, let alone value her word at her word. Also, are there no other scholars in the entire camp? Is there no other learned individual in the entirety of the Emperor’s inner circle? Because I just find it hard to accept that Vhalla is the first and only one to propose so many realistic and important battle tactics when all she has is book knowledge, as opposed to any real practical experience.

My final critique is the novel’s unfortunate way of making important and powerful moments and revelations last for no more than a single chapter. The high speed action of the first quarter of the book, for example, ends abruptly and quickly, even before the real excitement and danger could kick in. Then, when Vhalla first slips into the Northern capital, her devastation is short-lived and pretty much never mentioned again, even after the little breakdown she suffers and the promises she extracts from Aldrick. This is especially bad in reference to the conclusion of the novel, as Vhalla’s heartbreaking revelation is equally short-lived, not to mention drastically undermined by a lack of build-up or follow-up. Even Aldrick himself falls into this trap when he makes an effort to change one of his bad habits, as he is only shown training with the other sorcerers exactly once, making his character flaw feel cheap and instantly curable with only a little (slightly necessary) tough love from Vhalla (needless to say, that’s incredibly unrealistic, and I hope this also gets followed up on in the next book).

All in all, Earth’s End is a great read. I had a lot of fun with it, and everything stitches itself together quite nicely, from the plot to the action to the tension to the dialogue to the cliffhanger. The secondary characters are definitely the best part of this book, without a doubt, but that is not to say that Vhalla and Aldrick weren’t fun to follow around, as their relationship deepens and broadens in wonderful ways no reader of the series will want to miss. I’m excited for Water’s Wrath, but I’m sad about it too, because it means I’m more than halfway done this series and I’ve enjoyed my time in Vhalla’s world more than I can say. I’m sad to see the ending on the horizon, but I hope the books only continue to get better from here.


Buy it from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | BookDepository | Chapters/Indigo

Book Blitz + Giveaway – The Queen’s Poisoner (Kingfountain #1)

Title: The Queen’s Poisoner29103028
Series: Kingfountain (#1)
Author: Jeff Wheeler
Pages: 336
Genre: Fantasy
Published by: 47 North
Release Date: April 1, 2016 (today!)
Find it on Goodreads!

King Severn Argentine’s fearsome reputation precedes him: usurper of the throne, killer of rightful heirs, ruthless punisher of traitors. Attempting to depose him, the Duke of Kiskaddon gambles…and loses. Now the duke must atone by handing over his young son, Owen, as the king’s hostage. And should his loyalty falter again, the boy will pay with his life.

Seeking allies and eluding Severn’s spies, Owen learns to survive in the court of Kingfountain. But when new evidence of his father’s betrayal threatens to seal his fate, Owen must win the vengeful king’s favor by proving his worth—through extraordinary means. And only one person can aid his desperate cause: a mysterious woman, dwelling in secrecy, who truly wields power over life, death, and destiny.

Buy it from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | BookDepositoryChapters/Indigo


About the Author

Wheeler-Photo-KimBillsJeff Wheeler took an early retirement from his career at Intel in 2014 to become a full-time author. He is, most importantly, a husband and father, and a devout member of his church. He is occasionally spotted roaming among the oak trees and granite boulders in the hills of California or in any number of the state’s majestic redwood groves. He is the author of The Covenant of Muirwood Trilogy, The Legends of Muirwood Trilogy, the Whispers from Mirrowen Trilogy, and the Landmoor Series.

To learn more about Jeff Wheeler visit his website: www.jeff-wheeler.com. You can follow him @muirwoodwheeler.


Exclusive Excerpt

A sound whispered from the corridor behind him. It was a footfall. Not the sound of a boot in the corridor beyond the wall. The sound of someone approaching within the tunnel. It was coming from behind him.

The queasiness blossomed inside Owen and a cold sweat started on his brow. Going back was no longer an option. The tunnel was narrow and there was no place to hide, so Owen hurried forward, hoping to find an escape into the main palace corridor. It would be infinitely better to be punished for wandering the hall at night than to be caught in the Espion corridor. His little heart started to hammer wildly in his chest and the blackness in front of him became even darker somehow.

He heard the footfalls again, coming closer.

The boy was starting to panic. Ankarette had warned him this could happen. She had told him it was dangerous to wander the tunnels alone and that he needed to be very cautious and always listen for sounds that were out of place. Such as the footfalls behind him.

The narrow pinch of the corridor suddenly filled in ahead of Owen, the walls closing like an arrowhead. It ended abruptly and finally. It was a dead-end.


Giveaway!

[click here for a chance to win 1 of 5 copies of THE QUEEN’S POISONER!]