Book Blast: The Jinni's Last Wish by Zenobia Neil

Tuesday, September 4, 2018




by Zenobia Neil





As a eunuch in the Ottoman Imperial Harem, Olin has already lost his home, his freedom, and his manhood. Olin’s only wish is for a painless death, until he meets Dark Star, a beautiful odalisque who promises to give him his deepest desire. He scoffs at her offer, not believing her claim to possess a jinni in a bottle. But when Dark Star is accused of witchcraft, Olin rubs the bottle in desperation and is astonished to find she’s told the truth.

Olin becomes the jinni’s master to save Dark Star, but it's not enough. In the complex world of the Topkapi Palace, where silk pillows conceal knives, sherbets contain poison, and jewels buy loyalty, no one is safe. As each wish brings unintended consequences, Olin must risk his life, his body, and his sanity to break the bonds that tie them all.

 

Published: September 2018

Genre: historical fantasy

Pages: 283


AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE | CHAPTERS

 

 

About the Author

Zenobia Neil was named after an ancient warrior queen who fought against the Romans. She writes about the mythic past and Greek and Roman gods having too much fun. Zenobia spends her free time imagining interesting people and putting them in terrible situations.
She lives with her husband, two children, and dog in an overpriced hipster neighborhood of Los Angeles. Visit her at ZenobiaNeil.com.

FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS



Book Blast Schedule

Monday, August 27
Passages to the Past
Tuesday, August 28
Creating Herstory
Wednesday, August 29
Bookfever
Friday, August 31
A Chick Who Reads
Sunday, September 2
Clarissa Reads it All
Monday, September 3
Historical Fiction with Spirit
Tuesday, September 4
Ageless Pages Reviews
Wednesday, September 5
Pursuing Stacie
Friday, September 7
Donna’s Book Blog









Cover Reveal: War King by Eric Schumacher

Saturday, August 25, 2018

 

 

 

 

WAR KING
 
BY ERIC SCHUMACHER




Publication Date:
October 15, 2018
Publisher: Creativia Publishing
Series: Hakon’s Saga #3
Genre: Historical Fiction
 



 It is 954 A.D. and a tempest is brewing in the North. Twenty summers before, Hakon Haraldsson wrested Norway’s throne from his murderous brother, Erik Bloodaxe, but he failed to rid himself of Erik’s family. Now the sons of Erik have come to reclaim Erik’s former throne and avenge the wrong done to their father and their kin. But they do not come alone. With them marches an army of sword-Danes sent by the Danish King, Harald Bluetooth, whose desire to expand his realm is as powerful as the lust for vengeance that pulses in the veins of Erik’s brood. Like storm-driven waves, the opposing forces collide in the thrilling finale of Hakon’s Saga, War King; and when they do, Hakon is left with no choice but to face the tempest and resist.








Review: The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton

Sunday, August 19, 2018
Title: The Clockmaker's Daughter
Author: Kate Morton
Genre: historical
Series: N/A
Pages: 608
Published: expected September 2018
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 4.25/5

My real name, no one remembers.
The truth about that summer, no one else knows.


In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe's life is in ruins.

Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist's sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.

Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?

Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker's Daughter is a story of murder, mystery and thievery, of art, love and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river, is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker's daughter.



Kate Morton has long been a favorite, even amongst my top authors. As I have said before, her novels are masterpieces of narrative fiction.  They are intricate and executed with aplomb. I know an author is highly-prized to me when my reaction to their work is anything less than five-stars because it feels like both a surprise and just intrinsically wrong, somehow. But I have to admit that while The Clockmaker's Daughter contains nearly all the classic Morton hallmarks of a great read, this particular set of interwoven stories didn't resonate with me as much as almost all of her previous novels did. I still fell into her intricate style of storytelling eventually, but it wasn't as complete of an immersion; for once, this is a Morton that could stand to use a bit of editing down. In a six hundred page book, especially one so dependent on the slow reveal of authorial sleight of hand, the underdeveloped aspects of the story stand out in retrospect.

The tale of Birdie and Leonard and Elodie and Tip and all the others connected to the manor at Birchwood is by no means a "bad" book -- Morton isn't even capable of that with her weakest effort to date, 2015's The Lake House -- but the beginning of this lags, one of the POVs is rather dull and underdeveloped each time it's visited, and the addition of the supernatural elements detracted from the novel's other various strongpoints. Dense and slow-moving as is the author's usual style, the plot to The Clockmaker's Daughter takes a long time to engage the reader and even Kate's undeniable and present talents for atmosphere and mystery can't entirely compensate for it.

The cast is a myriad of characters with tangential connections to one another across time and distance. Their slowly revealed relationships make the pages spent interesting for the most part; Morton's quite adept at uncovering the hidden facets of people, this time those related to the mysterious photograph whose discovery incited all the ensuing revelations. Leonard is the exception to the rule; his chapters have emotional resonance but his voice is dull and the events he narrated aren't the most pivotal. Despite his relevance to both plot and other characters, he is a charisma void on the page. The supernatural additions of <spoiler>the 'Night of the Following' (maybe??) and even Birdie herself, charming as she was</spoiler> didn't work and also felt unnecessary. One could have been excised completely and the other could have featured in a more mundane sense. They felt like a rare misfire from an experienced author.

The Clockmaker's Daughter is the author's sixth to be so centered on dual timelines across history and connected to a mysterious house/manor/castle and each is unique gothic tale of secrets, family, and how the past lives on in the present.Though not the complete Morton experience possible and not without a few missteps in its hundreds of pages and several rotating POVs, The Clockmaker's Daughter is still a solidly good novel and with well-rendered characters, an enveloping atmosphere, a intriguing set of mysteries, and creative plotting tying it all together. It's a decent idea of what this author is capable of doing even if it left me craving a reread for the more polished The Distant Hours and The House at Riverton.







Review: The Storyteller's Secret by Sejal Badani

Thursday, August 16, 2018
Title: The Storyteller's Secret
Author: Sejal Badani
Genre: historical fiction
Series: N/A
Pages: 411
Published: expected September 2018
Source: ARC received for review
Rating: 3.5/5

From the bestselling author of Trail of Broken Wings comes an epic story of the unrelenting force of love, the power of healing, and the invincible desire to dream.
 
Nothing prepares Jaya, a New York journalist, for the heartbreak of her third miscarriage and the slow unraveling of her marriage in its wake. Desperate to assuage her deep anguish, she decides to go to India to uncover answers to her family’s past.

Intoxicated by the sights, smells, and sounds she experiences, Jaya becomes an eager student of the culture. But it is Ravi—her grandmother’s former servant and trusted confidant—who reveals the resilience, struggles, secret love, and tragic fall of Jaya’s pioneering grandmother during the British occupation. Through her courageous grandmother’s arrestingly romantic and heart-wrenching story, Jaya discovers the legacy bequeathed to her and a strength that, until now, she never knew was possible.



A finely-tuned dual timeline novel centered on memorable women, both modernish America and India in the 1930s - 1940s. A rather dense book and one that can move the plot rather slowly, The Storyteller's Secret is very much character-driven in both its past and the present timelines. The two seemingly-disparate plots are intricately linked to one another, and though the reveal of how that is so is easily guessed, Badani's talent for characterization compensates for any lost surprise later on. She is able to evince genuine interest in the people involved, from Jaya and her "modern" problems, to Amisha's quiet determination in the rigid culture of the past, and that makes reading this historical fiction a satisfying experience.

The characters and world of her novels are where this author truly shines. Some of the novel's plotting is a bit blunt and predictable for anyone paying attention, but her characters are well-wrought and realistic and her settings are vibrantly realized. It's easy to envision both sets of plotlines but especially so when set in the lively, colorfully described India of Badani's pen. Likewise, the American Jaya is a character easy to understand and care for but it is Amisha that truly captures the heart of the novel. She lives a far different life than her modern counterpart but it's easy to see the echoes of one another across the decades that divide them.

There is perhaps just a shade too much perspective changing in The Storyteller's Secret. Each plotline has its merits and its problems, but jumping between first-person to third, so rapidly can highlight the artificiality of fiction. That, combined with the easily-predicted reveal, detract slightly from the story's conclusion. The Storyteller's Secret is a comprehensive, detailed novel, that does a lot right when it comes to character and setting. But though the good points outnumber the negative by a fair margin, it must be noted that overall, it was weighed down by a few too many chapters and a rather overt plot resolution.








Blog Tour Review: Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi

Monday, August 13, 2018
Title: Star-Touched Stories
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Genre: fantasy
Series: The Star-Touched Queen #2.5
Pages: 304
Published: August 7 2018
Source: ARC via publishers for review
Rating: 4/5

Three lush and adventurous stories in the Star-Touched world.

Death and Night

He was Lord of Death, cursed never to love. She was Night incarnate, destined to stay alone. After a chance meeting, they wonder if, perhaps, they could be meant for more. But danger crouches in their paths, and the choices they make will set them on a journey that will span lifetimes.

Poison and Gold

Now that her wish for a choice has come true, Aasha struggles to control her powers. But when an opportunity to help Queen Gauri and King Vikram's new reign presents itself, she is thrown into the path of the fearsome yet enchanting Spy Mistress. To help her friends, Aasha will have to battle her insecurities and perhaps, along the way, find love.

Rose and Sword

There is a tale whispered in the dark of the Empire of Bharat-Jain. A tale of a bride who loses her bridegroom on the eve of her wedding. But is it a tale or a truth?
 

These three short stories, set in the same magical and dangerous world as the author's full-length novels The Star-Touched Queen and its successor A Court of Wishes, are another window into the fertile imagination of Roshani Chokshi. Each is replete with the vibrant imagery and vivid writing that readers have come to appreciate in Chokshi’s verbose style. The writing itself can approach purple prose at times, but without ever crossing over; this is a flowery book full of ornate writing and Chokshi has the talent to pull it off with aplomb.

Though all the additions to Star-Touched Stories are creative, well-written and plotted, it is the first,‘Death and Night’, that is the best, and the sole one rated at a full five stars. All three make for a solid selection but Chokshi's clever, and often darkly humorous or just plain silly, look at the courtship between the god of death and goddess of night is the standout. A familiar story, and a prequel for the first novel, played out in fresh hands and with fresh eyes, there's inventiveness from start to finish as Chokshi weaves her unlikely but impossible to resist love story. It doesn't follow the expected path or fall into overdone tropes; watching Amar and Maya is still genuinely fun and seeing them meet is satisfying.

The second, 'Poison and Gold', is another strong offering; one a bit shorter but focused on flawed and yet likeable characters, relatable despite their less-than-mundane situations and abilities. The writing itself remains a standout throughout the pages, but Aasha's struggle to control her gift, control her fate is vividly rendered and easily empathized. 'Rose and Sword' is a another good short story, but even with the talents of varied Roshani Chokshi, felt a bit shortchanged in comparison to the sweeping romance of the first and the heartfelt emotion of the second. It was too short, too rushed of an ending. The unexpected glimmers of humor, usually unexpected, were another highlight of the entire collection.

An anthology that further explores the world that Maya introduced us to and Gauri further expanded on her own adventures, Star-Touched Stories is a glimpse at smaller lives within a large world. Key figures are shown and feature into the plots, but even the newcomers and side characters make an impression. The author's vivid storytelling, which is often so descriptive it verges on tangible, is ably suited to short-form as well as full-length novels. It was fun to revisit such a fantastical and unique world, even for a short time.









Book Tour Review: The Romanov Empress by C.W. Gortner

Monday, July 30, 2018


Title: The Romanov Empress
Author: C.W. Gortner
Genre: historical fiction
Series: N/A
Pages: 448
Published: July 2018
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for review
Rating:  4/5

Even from behind the throne, a woman can rule.

Narrated by the mother of Russia's last tsar, this vivid, historically authentic novel brings to life the courageous story of Maria Feodorovna, one of Imperial Russia's most compelling women who witnessed the splendor and tragic downfall of the Romanovs as she fought to save her dynasty in the final years of its long reign.

Barely nineteen, Minnie knows that her station in life as a Danish princess is to leave her family and enter into a royal marriage--as her older sister Alix has done, moving to England to wed Queen Victoria's eldest son. The winds of fortune bring Minnie to Russia, where she marries the Romanov heir and becomes empress once he ascends the throne. When resistance to his reign strikes at the heart of her family and the tsar sets out to crush all who oppose him, Minnie--now called Maria--must tread a perilous path of compromise in a country she has come to love.

Her husband's death leaves their son Nicholas as the inexperienced ruler of a deeply divided and crumbling empire. Determined to guide him to reforms that will bring Russia into the modern age, Maria faces implacable opposition from Nicholas's strong-willed wife, Alexandra, whose fervor has lead her into a disturbing relationship with a mystic named Rasputin. As the unstoppable wave of revolution rises anew to engulf Russia, Maria will face her most dangerous challenge and her greatest heartache.

From the opulent palaces of St. Petersburg and the intrigue-laced salons of the aristocracy to the World War I battlefields and the bloodied countryside occupied by the Bolsheviks, C. W. Gortner sweeps us into the anarchic fall of an empire and the complex, bold heart of the woman who tried to save it.
  


Covering decades in the doomed Romanov Court, veteran author C.W. Gortner uses his many strengths as a historical fiction writer to illuminate the life of Dagmar of Denmark, who became known to history by her adopted name of Empress Maria Feodorovna. Mother to the last Tsar of Russia, this kind and clever woman left an impact all her own both on her family and on the country she adopted as her own.

Dagmar, who usually answered to the name Minnie though she had a plethora of nicknames, led a fascinating life. The second daughter of an impoverished and unexpected king of Denmark, her story is full of both heartbreak and quiet determination. Fiancee first to Tsarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich, but the eventual wife of his brother Emperor Alexander III, her romantic life was unpredictable and tangled. Her many allegiances -- to her beloved home country, then to Nixa, then her autocratic husband, and finally to her children and grandchildren -- made the intersections of her identity relatable and recognizable to modern readers. She was a woman pulled in many directions who did the best she could for her country and for her descendants.

Life in the Romanov court is brought to vibrant reality under Gortner's pen, albeit with a few improvisations on the factual. Minnie's introduction to Russian culture and perspective is fresh and atmospheric; seeing Russia through the eyes of the tsars and their family is memorable. Some details and events have been adjusted, moved, or ignored to streamline the narrative and the authorial decisions make sense; Minnie's life was long and convoluted but the gist of her story is contained within The Romanov Empress. She's presented as a whole person; fallible and flawed, but one who no doubt tried to stave off the inevitable decline of her 400-year-old dynasty.

Large in scope but without sacrificing the finer details, The Romanov Empress paints a realistic and researched version of Dagmar. Her personality and opinions shine through, even when overruled by her more despotic spouse; a figure in the Russian court for most of her life, it's easy to get lost in the romanticized version of this period in history. But Maria was a real woman, who loved, lost and then tried to find her grand-daughter after the worst horror befell her extended family. Through all the stages of her public life -- impoverished princess to wary tsarevna to strong-willed tsarina -- Minnie never lost her quiet strength or her deeply-held beliefs. She was an impressive woman and Gortner shows her in all her imperfect humanity.









Waiting on Wednesday: The Ruin of Kings

Wednesday, July 4, 2018



Title: The Ruin of Kings (The Godslayer Cycle #1)
Author: Jenn Lyons
Expected Publication: Feb 2019






There are the old stories. And then there’s what actually happens.

Kihrin is a bastard orphan who grew upon storybook tales of long-lost princes and grand quests. When he is claimed against his will as the long-lost son of a treasonous prince, Kihrin finds that being a long-lost prince isn't what the storybooks promised.

Far from living the dream, Kihrin finds himself practically a prisoner, at the mercy of his new family's power plays and ambitions. He also discovers that the storybooks have lied about a lot of other things things, too: dragons, demons, gods, prophecies, true love, and how the hero always wins.

Then again, maybe he’s not the hero, for Kihrin isn’t destined to save the empire.

He’s destined to destroy it . . .

Uniting the worldbuilding of a Brandon Sanderson with the storytelling verve of a Patrick Rothfuss, debut author Jenn Lyons delivers an entirely new and captivating fantasy epic. Prepare to meet the genre’s next star.




I am excited about this. The first few chapters were released and while I am not normally one for a serving before the meal, I am v anxious to get my hands on a copy.















Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Copyright © 2015 Ageless Pages Reviews. All Rights Reserved.

Amelia Theme by The Lovely Design CO and These Paper Hearts.