There are many more to fall today, and again it’s not fun making announcements like this. All of these have been reviewed fully by one of the judges, so I’ve pulled some quotes from those reviews to make a brief synopsis in the hopes some of you will pick these up.
Here’s a toast to the fallen, an awesome drink made by Wol in honor of those books we’re cutting.
Feeding Frenzy by Maaja Wentz
This one will appeal to people who like more upbeat main characters and an urban setting. This is a world where magic is kept a secret from the “mundanes”, but they also co-exist going to the same schools and work in the same professions. Tonya is off to her first year of college to a local school called Loon Lake, soon after school starts though Tonya knows there’s something wrong as people start to behave stranger and stranger, eating themselves nearly to death as an insatiable hunger overtakes them. But, she has no one to turn to since the only people she can discuss magic with, her family, have all gone missing. It’s up to her to figure out what’s going on and stop it before it’s too late.
Lions Prophecy by Alexander Grant
This will be for people who like beaten down societies taking back their freedom. The main character is a retired general and found his ship being boarded while out on vacation. The people who took him captive don’t want to hurt him, instead, they need him to lead their people in a revolt against their enslavers, it’s a book steeped in prophecy, lore, and Seers.
Dawn of Darkness by Adam Watson
This will be a book for people who like epic scale, longer books, demons, high stakes, and super badass main characters. The book starts off with a bang when Dray, the main character has to hack his way through a horde of demons to get to a young girl, a seer and also known as “The Oracle”. The fate of the world rests on her shoulders as ancient gods come back into play, and keeping her safe is paramount.
Everblue by Brenda Pandos
I went into this book expecting a pretty typical YA romance and that is largely what I got, in the beginning. Ashlyn was a pretty typical high school student with a typical high school life and at times I found those parts boring and just wanted to skip back over to the more exciting parts about Fin and Tatiana, the merpeople twins who had to go back to their mother…ocean? as their father needed to go on a secret mer-mission. This one was a pretty well paced story of teenagers and mermaids, but in the end, I found this one a let down in that the ‘romance’ between Fin and Ash was largely forced-seeming by this ‘mer-kisses mean we’re bonded forever no matter the reason’ twist and from that point on rushed to the point of creepiness, and then left as a cliffhanger.
Dragon Mount by Jennifer M. Eaton
Again, a paranormal romance that seemed more YA than not. I was largely enjoying this one right up until the last three chapters or so, when a twist in the plot basically made the whole book before it irrelevant and then ended everything in a way that made no sense. I liked Joe as a character, and I really rooted for him to win the day, and the girl, and the whole mountain. I never really latched onto Anna, and while I could see where she was coming from on her decisions, she still makes rather odd choices, all told. I thought this one brought some interesting ideas to the table, like Nikau, a third party character who has insight into the minds of one of the couple that the romance focuses on, but ultimately the ending of this one soured most of the good time I was having with it.
The Carnival of the Night by Nicholas Carey
This one was a short horror fantasy that brought interesting ideas to the table, such as purgatory being a never-ending carnival that adapts to the timeframe in which the carnival was presented. The Fool, who runs the carnival is up to some more-shady-than-normal stuff and somehow Death isn’t really Death anymore. So people back home can’t die, and it’s up to Christopher and his new companions to figure out what’s up. This one was ultimately not my favorite story, because I never ended up liking Christopher for pulling a really creepy and unnecessary chat-up line out on page one, but the story itself wasn’t too bad. Bits seemed unnecessary, but it definitely had some cool use of language, and cool ideas.
City of Crows by Alex Marks
Hundreds of years in the future, the planet is all but uninhabitable and the majority of the population has been cryogenically frozen. One day, the massive generation ships will be complete and take humanity to newly discovered planets across the galaxy. This was an interesting take on a possible future for humanity. It fell somewhere between dystopian and hopeful, and it managed to end a note that was appropriately bittersweet for the themes it dealt with.
The Red Hourglass by Ashley Capes
Red Hourglass has a rich world, full of steampunk machines in a dystopian far-future Earth. Airships, mysterious magic, Gatling guns, and a giant Iron Man suit all play an important role. The references to the “ancient civilization” that came before were a bit on the nose, but still good fun. I would have preferred to learn a bit more about the various cultures alluded to in the book, but the “cool” factor was there in plenty.
Dixie: World in the Well by Glendon Ewalt
Dixie offers a unique approach to both young adult coming of age stories and portal fantasy. Rather than telling the story of a child finding themselves transported into a magical world and becoming a hero, Dixie is from the perspective of that hero’s—or rather, heroine’s—clueless friend. Chance is a 12-year-old boy living in small-town America. One day in school, his life is upended when shy, wallflower Dixie uses magic to make everyone in the class forget about her. Except for some reason, Chance doesn’t forget. All thing considered, Dixie was an enjoyable read. Where the writing fell short, the originality more than made up for it. I’m excited to see the direction the series takes now that the world has been established and future storylines hinted at.
Over Raging Tides: A Lady Pirates Novel by Jennifer Ellision
Over Raging Tides is a fast-paced adventure with a solid structure and some excellent ideas. This novel has all the trappings of a great pirate story – a ship inhabited exclusively by lady pirates, a protagonist haunted by her past, creepy sea monsters, a hunt for an elusive mythical treasure map, betrayal and treachery… the list goes on. Overall I think Over Raging Tides is a somewhat sparse novel but with great potential, and Ellision is clearly a talented writer. This is an enjoyable YA adventure that would make a great introduction to nautical/pirate fantasy for younger readers
When The Kingdom Falls by Megan Hurst
This was an incredibly ambitious novel and I gave it a healthy 3.5/5 stars on Goodreads. If you like books with massive time scales, time travel, nearly-immortal beings who have lived hundreds of thousands of years, dragons, heavy world building and enjoy multi POV this could be for you. The world could be coming to an end, a cyclical extinction pattern is coming back around and the main character could be the key to stopping it, the problem is keeping her alive as she’s prone to getting herself into trouble/injuring herself.