Guest Post: Sea Monsters and the Bear Next Door by B.I Woolet #HorrorOctober

Arrows of Darkness is the second book in the Word of Arcas fantasy series aimed at children and young adults. I reviewed the first book, The Hunter, The Bear and The Seventh Sister on this blog back in January 2014 and described it as ‘an amalgamation of all my favourite childhood reads’.

The lovely and talented authors, Ila and Ben also wrote a great guest post for me a few months after that, and so I’m delighted to welcome them back to Lipsyy Lost & Found once more.

After reading the synopsis for Arrow of Darkness, I think it’s fully acceptable to include this in #HorrorOctober, it certainly sounds a lot darker than the first book, and would be a great read for children and young adults who like their adventures with a sprinkling of horror and scary creatures.

B.I Woolet have put together another great guest post, but first, here’s everything you need to know about Arrows of Darkess…

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Author: B. I Woolet
Editions: Paperback, 328 pages
Publication Details: October 2nd 2015 by ArcasArts
Genre(s): Fantasy; Children’s; Young Adult

Goodreads // Amazon // B&N

Jackson returns to Arcas expecting to find peace—a peace greatly lacking within his own home. But when a violent archer takes over as Lord of the White Palace, the future of the ancient kingdoms is shaken.

Frightening creatures have overtaken the beautiful Starling Forest, destroying everything in their path. Jackson and Nekkar narrowly escape the beasts together, but Nekkar blames the Son of Earth for releasing the present darkness in Arcas. The rocky, new friendship strengthens as they journey through dangerous lands toward the Free Realms. Can their loyalties survive when the beautifully gutsy Princess Andromeda interrupts their quest and the darkness of war batters their souls?

While Rigel, Otava, and Merope work together to rescue the six sisters trapped at the White Palace, Sephdar returns from shadowy crusades to find White Wings’ army leaderless. The new self-proclaimed ruler has a plan for the Seven Sisters and a plan for The Bridge to Earth. But when his ambitious arrows pierce the peaceful kingdoms, an unlikely force confronts the dark lord and the future of the crowns is changed forever.

Hold to your axe and hold to your lass as you join Jackson to combat the darkness spreading through the world of Arcas. But remember, the most powerful arrows do not pierce the body but the soul.

Sea Monsters and the Bear Next Door by B.I Woolet

“Man’s destruction and bloodshed now appeared trivial and small next to these uncontrollable beasts of nature.” – Arrows of Darkness

AODseamonster

From nasty orcs and a greedy dragon in Middle Earth to fluting fauns and a brave mouse in Narnia, fantasy worlds are full of interesting creatures! We love that the World of Arcas is also bursting with fascinating, strange, and terrifying creatures.

In The Hunter, the Bear, and the Seventh Sister, its immediately evident that Jackson has entered another realm when the white-winged Cygnus grabs him mid-air in the bright triune sunlight and safely lands him next to the little cabin in Starling Forest.

After escaping the talons of a freakishly large black raven, Jackson then meets Otava. He’s a furry, talking brown bear inspired by Usra Major (the Great Bear in the night sky) and named from the Finnish word for the constellation. Though Otava is powerfully strong and well-armed with an arsenal of weapons, he’s also nervously paranoid, doesn’t like change, and loves cooking even more than his medieval artillery. Since the Big Dipper is also part of his constellation, Otava’s favorite soup dipper likes to enter the story often as a quirky astronomy joke on the side. He’s our lovable, loyal, but not-so-huggable big bear friend.

In Arrows of Darkness, we get to enjoy the talking bear-next-door again, but massive sea monsters dive into the story to shake things up. Cetus is the most famous and mystical watery monster in the Kingdom of Altair. Bridled and ridden by a duo of strange river nymphs, this translucent, whale-like creature randomly bursts through the surface and capsizes anyone in its way. His haphazard, destructive tendencies frighten most in Arcas from ever braving the water.

While Cetus destroys like a raging bull, our other sea monster calculates its attack with lust for flesh and pleasure. Minaruja is a titan terror of the Ligeian Sea. This giant water snake (from the Hydra constellation) strikes without warning and injects venom into its prey. One seamen describes the day that the dreadful villain Sephdar got attacked by Minaruja and barely escaped alive: “Minaruja’s serpent head shook him back and forth and back and forth like a rabid dog shaking a helpless rabbit […] To thee ruins he stumbled with a black hole in his middle and a black poison ever pumping through his veins.”

So, if you like mystical, larger-than-life monsters and talking bears, stick around because the World of Arcas has only begun to unleash the stellar creatures within!

Thanks so much to B.I Woolet and Xpresso Book Tours for letting me be part of this tour.

Trailer

Giveaway

This is a tour-wide giveaway in which you can win both books in the series in paperback (US only) or e-book (International). Good luck!

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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If you are an author, publisher or agent and would like to be featured on Lipsyy Lost & Found, drop me message on lipsyylostnfound[at]gmail[dot]com

NEXT UP ON #HORROROCTOBER: The Lost Girl by R.L Stine

The Heir by Kiera Cass

HEIR
Title: The Heir
Author: Keira Cass
Series: The Selection #4
Edition: Paperback, 352 pages
Publication Details: May 7th by HarperTeen
Genre(s): YA; Dystopia
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it!

Goodreads // Purchase

Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon—and they lived happily ever after. Eadlyn has always found their fairy-tale story romantic, but she has no interest in trying to repeat it. If it were up to her, she’d put off marriage for as long as possible.

But a princess’s life is never entirely her own, and Eadlyn can’t escape her very own Selection—no matter how fervently she protests.

Eadlyn doesn’t expect her story to end in romance. But as the competition begins, one entry may just capture Eadlyn’s heart, showing her all the possibilities that lie in front of her . . . and proving that finding her own happily ever after isn’t as impossible as she’s always thought.

Review

You should all be aware of my unashamed love of The Selection series by now. I can’t help it, they are just bloody addictive!

With that in mind, I probably should have been happy at the prospect of Cass carrying on the series with a new protagonist – Maxon and America’s daughter Eadlyn – but I kind of wasn’t. I was worried that the series had peaked. And I thought it was rounded-up satisfactory, so why drag it on, why milk it?

Well I’m pleased to say I needn’t have worried. The new generation of The Selection has everything I loved in the first three books. And man, it was just as addictive.

Since we last saw Maxon and America, Illéa has abolished the caste system, meaning anyone can do whatever job they like or marry who they like. With no reason to attack the palace, the rebels have disbanded, but the kingdom isn’t in as much peace as they’d hoped.

Jobs are sparse, and prejudices about who used to be what caste are still threatening to cause problems, leaving Maxon and America at their wits end. So what to they do? Beg their hard-nosed, Queen-in-training daughter to have her own selection, of course.

Will it bring peace to the Kingdom? Will Eadlyn warm to any of her suitors?

Seriously guys, if you liked the original books, there is no reason that you won’t like this one too. I found Eadlyn quite hard to warm to because of her stern demeanour, but it was more understandable as we get to know her.

I liked seeing the tables turn and watching the girl calling all the shots. It was refreshing, and I couldn’t put it down. OBVS. I totally wanted more Maxon/America action though. I kind of feel like it’s OK to fancy him now that he’s older…not that it stopped me before…

I’m hoping they’ll be more of an uprising within the Kingdom in the later books, because I think it needs that more serious side to it, but, overall, I couldn’t help but love this book.

Keira Cass strikes again!

unicorn rating 4

The Heir is available now in paperback, from Waterstones.

Current Giveaway: Win a copy of The Violet Hour by Andrea L. Wells and/or a Kindle Fire HD here!!!!

The Silvered Heart by Katherine Clements [Out Tomorrow]

silveredheart
Title: The Silvered Heart
Author: Katherine Clements
Series: N/A
Edition: Digital ARC, 448 pages
Publication Details: May 7th 2015 by Headline
Genre(s): YA; Historical Fiction
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase

The legendary figure of Kate Ferrars, the infamous highwaywoman, is brought gloriously to life in this gripping tale of infatuation, betrayal and survival.

‘The distant thrum of galloping hooves conjures nothing but doubt and fear these days.’

1648: Civil war is devastating England. The privileged world Katherine Ferrars knows is crumbling under Cromwell’s army, and as an orphaned heiress, she has no choice but to do her duty and marry for the sake of family.

But as her marriage turns into a prison, and her fortune is decimated by the war, Kate becomes increasingly desperate. So when she meets the enigmatic Ralph Chaplin, she seizes the chance he offers. Their plan is daring and brutal, but it’s an escape from poverty and the shackles of convention. They both know if they’re caught, there’s only one way it can end…

Review

The Silvered Heart was my first Katherine Clements read, and it certainly won’t be my last.

Lady Katherine is an intriguing character. She is an orphaned heiress who has been used to the finer things in life. But when it comes time to do her duty and marry for the sake of her family, everything she knows is taken from her.

She must leave her beloved mansion for Ware Park, where her husband Thomas, who appears cold and incapable of kindness, basically leaves her to rot. With the state of affairs as they are, Thomas is constantly away, and money is non-existent, turning Ware Park into a run-down, neglected palace, where workers go unpaid and starvation is just around the corner.

I felt for Katherine a lot, and found myself completely engrossed in her story. Her marriage was entirely love-less, and she goes from riches to rags and does it all alone, with the exception of friend and maid, Rachel.

I was very wary of Katherine as a heroine, though. She never seemed to know what she wanted, and a lot of the decisions she made drove me mad! I found her quite shallow and petulant at times, and it annoyed me that she thought she was cleverer than she actually was, but it made for a thrilling read.

I loved that she became this great, almost mythological figure of a cold-hearted highway woman, and all the excitement and danger that came along with it.

The Silvered Heart is an epic tale of betrayal, double-crosses, plots and politics, and one that really gives us a vivid picture of that period in history. It’s also the story of one woman who will do anything to get what she thinks she deserves. A great read!

unicorn rating 4

The Silvered Heart is available in paperback from Waterstones tomorrow!

Ice Kissed (The Kanin Chronicles #2) by Amanda Hocking

icekissed
Title: Ice Kissed
Author: Amanda Hocking
Series: The Kanin Chronicles #2
Edition: Digital ARC, 288 pages
Publication Details: May 5th 2015 by St. Martin’s Press
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase

Bryn Aven has always longed to be a part of the Kanin world. Though she has no social status because she’s a half-breed, she refuses to give up on her dream of serving the kingdom she loves. It’s a dream that brings her to a whole new realm . . . the glittering palace of the Skojare.

The Skojare people need protection from the same brutal rival who’s been threatening the Kanin, and, being half Skojare herself, it’s a chance for Bryn to learn more about her heritage. Her boss Ridley Dresden is overseeing her mission and wants to help. He’s always been her most trusted friend—but as their undeniable attraction heats up, he becomes a distraction she can’t afford.

Brynn is about to discover that the Skojare world is full of secrets, and as she’s drawn in deeper and deeper, she doesn’t know who to trust. As she gets closer to Ridley, she realizes she may not even be able to trust her own heart.

Review

Oh, this series! I seem to have developed a love/hate relationship with it. For context, you may wish to check my review of the first book, Frostfire here, because I feel a slightly muddled rant coming on.

Bryn Aven, is still on the path to accomplishing her dream of being on the hogdragen, in order to guard Kanin royalty and serve her kingdom. Ice Kissed picks up right where Frostfire left off. The status of her and her boss’ frowned-upon relationship is still in will-they-won’t-they mode, and peple are still being kidnapped.

This time however, it’s less of a kidnapping and more of a running away, as Princess Linnea has fled her palace to the magical lake Isolera where time moves differently and swimming feels like a dream. Linnea ran because she felt a growing sense of unease and tension, and she didn’t feel safe. And now it’s up to Bryn and her fellow trackers to find out what’s going on.

Sigh. There is a lot I didn’t like about this book, and they’re many of the same gripes from the first book. First of all, the story didn’t move fast enough – in fact – sometimes it felt like the story didn’t move at all.

Not enough happened. Actually, that’s not true, lots of insignificant things happened, but too few significant things did. And even when something important did happen, it didn’t seem to get resolved or have an ending. Arggggh.

But!!!! At no point did I want to stop reading. I wanted to know if Bryn and Ridley would give it a go. I wanted to know what the hell was going on with Princess Linnea and the all the weird shit going on in their palace, and more to the point, I wanted to know when Konstantin Black was going to turn up! I mean, seriously!??

I have the feeling that either this is going to be a slow-burning series with one hell of a culmination, or Hocking is just trying to squeeze out too many books for the scope of the plot.

Another thing that bothered me was the sex. Yes – SPOILER – there was sex, and that’s fine by me, usually. But here it seemed out of place. It was a bit more graphic than in other YA books, and… IDK…I found it odd. The tone was off.

I sort of wish I didn’t read the last page or so, because before that I definitely wouldn’t have felt the need to read the next book, but if Hocking does one thing successfully, it’s a goddamn cliffhanger. Argh!

I’m going to have to find out what happens next. I just hope it’s got a faster, better plot!

unicorn rating 3

[2.5 rounded-up!]

Ice Kissed is available for pre-order from Waterstones now.

Frostfire by Amanda Hocking

frostfire
Title: Frostfire
Author: Amanda Hocking
Series: The Kanin Chronicles #1
Edition: Kindle, 300 pages
Publication Details: January 1st 2015 by Tor UK
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it

Goodreads // Purchase

Bryn Aven is an outcast among the Kanin, the most powerful of the troll tribes.

Set apart by her heritage and her past, Bryn is a tracker who’s determined to become a respected part of her world. She has just one goal: become a member of the elite King’s Guard to protect the royal family. She’s not going to let anything stand in her way, not even a forbidden romance with her boss Ridley Dresden.

But all her plans for the future are put on hold when Konstantin– a fallen hero she once loved – begins kidnapping changelings. Bryn is sent in to help stop him, but will she lose her heart in the process?

Review


I’m pretty dubious about starting new series these days because I’m so bloody rubbish at keeping up or finishing them. To be honest, I only bought this one because I was approved for a copy of book two on Netgalley, which I requested based solely on the cover alone. They’re very pretty!

Frostfire was my first foray into Hocking’s world of the Trylle, well, it was my foray into Amanda Hocking’s work full stop, and I was impressed with some elements, but disappointed with others.

Bryn is a tracker whose job it is to track down changelings and bring them back to the Kanin tribes. Her lifelong dream is to be promoted into the royal guard and therefore feels like she has a lot to prove, and tries to do everything to the best of her ability.

However, certain things keep getting in her way. Firstly, her growing attraction to Ridley her boss, and then there’s her mixed feelings for Konstantin who she used to have a major crush on until he attacked her father. Now Konstantin has started kidnapping changelings, but even though it appears obvious that he is the source of all that’s going on, Bryn isn’t so sure. Are old feelings resurfacing and impairing her judgement, or is there more to Konstantin and the kidnappings than everyone believes?

Either way, unless Bryn can find the missing changelings or prove that she’s right about Konstantin, any hopes of her dream job, or her people’s faith in her are in jeopardy.

I’m really torn with this book. On one hand, I think Hocking did a good job of bringing this world that was completely new to me (trolls!) to life, but on the other I felt like there was a bit too much telling rather than showing. I was having to learn too much in too short a time. As a result, I found the pace quite slow and was hankering for less talk and more action.

I also wasn’t a huge fan of there being two potential love interests. I’ve read that Hocking’s books are quite love-triangle-heavy but that she claimed that there wouldn’t be one in Frostfire. Well, there pretty much is! Bryn and Ridley’s relationship is quite cute and had potential, but it’s obvious throughout that if Konstantin and Bryn got it on instead it would be hawwwwwt. That’s clearly the direction it’s going in, non?

Other the than pacing issues, I enjoyed Hocking’s writing a lot. I didn’t particularly think much of the troll element, as they didn’t seem to resemble what I thought of as trolls, but I kind of liked that. It’s a whole new mythology to me and I’m interested to see where it goes.

As a stand alone, Frostfire doesn’t work at all, but if you think of it as an introduction, it has potential. I look forward to finding out if it can live up to it.

unicorn rating 3

Frostfire is available now, and book #2, Ice Kissed, is released May 5th

A Predictable Prince is still a Page-Turning Prince…

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

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I can’t believe that this is THE FIRST book I’ve read from my TBR pile for this challenge. I was excluding all the new books I got around Christmas and New Year time because the whole point was to read the older books on my pile….and it’s taken this long to get round to them. And still, this was one of the newer ones, but shhh.

false In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats.

This is one of those books that does exactly what it says on the tin, or cover in this instance. Sage is one of four boys that nobleman Conner forces to compete against each other for the ‘prize’ of impersonating Prince Jaron – who was believed to have been killed by pirates several years earlier – in an attempt to save the Kingdom from war.

I was really excited about this book; it looked right up my alley, princes, castles, sword-fights, cute boys etc… and I loved it for all of these things, plus, it was fast-paced and I enjoyed the characters, but, I couldn’t help coming away from it disappointed.

I had too many issues with it to give it any more than 3 Unicorns, despite the fact that I couldn’t put it down and am very much looking forward to the next book in the series…

Issue #1: It was just sooooooooooo predictable. I’m not one of those people who thinks about where a book is going when I’m reading it. I like to be swept away in the story, and therefore I don’t usually detect what will happen next, or how it will end up, but it was impossible not to with this book. I could have told you exactly what was going to happen after about 50 pages.

Issue #2: I found some of the vital plot-lines pretty unbelievable. There was no way that Conner’s plan was ever going to work, which was proven by the end of the book, highlighting how stupid it was in the first place. Plus, there’s no way the four boys would be that compliant, sure Conner had threatened to kill those that didn’t win, but they had plenty of opportunities to escape. And if they stayed because they really wanted to be King, they seemed to think they could go from being being poor orphans to kings without anybody rising an eyebrow. Bizarre. And don’t even get me started on Conner having them serve the princess in disguise, in case she recognised them when one of them eventually became King….no sense!

Issue # 3: Who the hell is Conner anyway, and why take it upon himself to stage this whole thing? Arrghhhh.

I did like that we weren’t sure if Conner was essentially a good guy or bad guy though. Was he really doing this for the good of the kingdom, or is he a tyrant who will do anything to be in control, even if he’d be the invisible puppet-master behind ‘the face’ of the King?

Sage was a good protagonist too. I liked his sarcastic nature and sharp wit. His bromance with Mott, and growing relationship with servant Imogen (the whole fake mute thing was unconvincing though) definitely kept me reading. I just wished there was more depth, and mystery to the story.

But I guess I’ll have to read the next one to see if Nielsen was holding out on us. Plus, look how pretty it is!

unicorn rating 3

Disclosure?: Nope, I bought it!
Title: The False Prince (The Ascendence Trilogy #1)
Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Details: Paperback, 368 pages
Published: June 7th 2012 by Scholastic UK
My Rating: 3/5 (3.5!)

The Verdict: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Click to view on GoodReads.
Click to view on GoodReads.

There are just many things to be said about Bitterblue but let’s start with the basics. It’s the third book in the Graceling Realm Trilogy by Kristin Cashore and it looks beautiful.

In Graceling, we entered a world of seven kingdoms where some people are born graced with any number of unique skills or abilities and where we first meet Katsa, seemingly graced with the skill of killing and under the command of King Randa. Katsa becomes increasingly frustrated and depressed about being used in such a cruel way and when Prince Po comes along their journey together slowly reveals just how corrupt the seven kingdoms really are. In Fire, we’re transported to The Dells, a kingdom of ‘rainbow coloured monsters and underground labyrinths’ where Fire, the last human monster is both hated and obsessed over, constantly assaulted for being so irresistible and who refuses to use her mind control to steal people’s memories and secrets.

By the time we come to Bitterblue, it is several years after King Leck’s tyrannous and torturous reign in Graceling and we follow the young Queen Bitterblue as she attempts to rebuild her kingdom; a kingdom that is still deeply affected by her father’s spell over them. But how can you rebuild something that is based on lies and secrets and despicable acts? Especially when the people who were most under Leck’s spell are the ones closest to Bitterblue?

There are so many things I love about this book. I enjoyed Fire, but as soon I opened this it felt like I was coming back home. I was eager to meet up with Katsa and Po again and it didn’t disappoint despite the fact that they weave in and out of the narritive. I think Cashore could easy have ridden the wave of their romance and made that the main strand of this book but I think this portrays a much more realistic and exciting relationship. It’s certainly refreshing to see these characters living their own lives, putting the important things first and not just glaring at each other with puppy-dog eyes. They are definitely not the puppy-dog eyes types!

I love how this story slowly builds momentum. We find the clues as Bitterblue finds them -one by one- linking what really happened during Leck’s time to just how many secrets and lies are being maintained within the city walls. I found myself even more confused than Bitterblue as to who to trust and who to investigate. However, I did feel like there was a lull in the middle where the pace could have been picked up and I just wanted to grab Bitterblue and shake her yelling ‘haven’t you learnt by now you can’t trust anyone, get on with it!’

I enjoyed the mix of the old and new here too. Whenever I think of Kings, Queens and castles, whether it’s in this universe or a fictional one I think of times gone by, but Cashore’s world is full of modern themes making no fuss over boys and girls fighting each other, same-sex relationships, sex before marriage, birth control, or a Queen who wears trousers and slips out of the castle at night to smooch with a thief. And is it just me or is it completely devoid of religion? Hallelujah!

Cashore has created an in-depth world of strong, kick-ass girls, epic sword-fights, passion, and intriguing mystery. Essentially, Bitterblue and those before it are about the abuse of control and power, facing up to horrible truths and having the strength to overcome the impossible.

Bitterblue is published by Gollancz and I received a copy in exchange for a review as part of their Gollancz Geeks Blog.