Fragmented

Untamed, Book 2
By Madeline Dyer

Those of you following my Instagram might have seen my middle-of-the-night post, where an exhausted me at 2 am finished reading the last page of Fragmented and found myself in a whirlwind of emotions. I hadn’t even realized how late it was, I simply could not put the book down. I’ve been so excited I could barely wait until today to tell you about it. Well, it’s Self Published Saturday, and I’m here to tell you about Fragmented!

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After the terrible battle against the Enhanced Ones, Seven and Corin find themselves on the run. With the Enhanced closing in, Seven knows they need to find other people on their side. So, when the opportunity arises to join the Zharat, one of the last surviving Untamed tribes, it seems like the perfect solution.

But the Zharat lifestyle is a far cry from what Seven’s used to. With their customs dictating that she must marry into their tribe, and her relationship with Corin breaking down, Seven knows she has to do something before it’s too late. But that’s easier said than done in a tribe where going against the rules automatically results in death.

And, with the Enhanced still out there, nowhere is truly safe for the Untamed–least of all for the most powerful Seer in the world…and Seven soon discovers how far people will go in order to ensure she’s on their side in the War of Humanity.

Battling against the emerging web of lies, manipulation, and danger, Seven must remember who she was meant to be. Her life has never been more at stake. Nor has humanity itself.

Musings

Many series suffer from a weak second novel. But Fragmented is the Empire Strikes Back here, and is even stronger than the first book.

I was captivated by the world that Dyer created in Untamed: a future where most of humanity live with chemical ‘augmenters’, and those who refuse the drugs are hunted down. Unlike most dystopias I know, there’s this incredible spiritual element: Seven, the protagonist is a seer capable of speaking with them through dreams. The spirits have a massive, sometimes physical effect on the land, able to change it or roam it at will. All in all, this is astounding worldbuilding which made me desperate to read Fragmented.

Fragmented has a much faster pace because of the short timeframe. While Untamed took place over weeks, months, Fragmented is the course of just a few days. Seven, Corin and Esther are all that is left, and decide for their safety to band with a massive tribe called the Zharat. But just because they’re Untamed does not make them good people.

The Zharat are an incredibly patriarchal society, and part of what I loved about Fragmented was how on edge I was the entire time. To put it simply: these guys are absolute creeps. To keep humanity going, their only weapon is their babymaking. Women are nothing but a tool in this regard. Seven’s strength and abilities are put to the test when the Zharat community refuses to treat her as a real person. I was cringing the entire time they were with them.

The character growth is also pretty incredible here. Seven is not only trying to make her voice heard in this new community, but also trying to keep her relationship with Corin alive and healthy. Not to mention that her Seer dreams are strangely stopped now that she’s with the Zharat, and she can’t mention that fact to anyone, because Zharat culture sees Women-Seers as demons. Not to mention the guilt she feels from the last battle…

We also learn more about the place of the Spirits and Gods within not only this culture, but the war itself. At the climax of the book, I was gripping the page as things became clear and the mysteries unraveled. I wanted to scream at the book.

This book has honestly been very difficult for me to review with a level head, because I’m still shattered from the ending. I just cannot wait to get my hands on Divided, the next book in the series!

You can pick up a copy right here!

I Still Have a Soul

by Kelly Blanchard
Reviewed by SA

Happy self published Saturday! Today, I bring you the sequel to an exciting fantasy epic which I reviewed about a month ago: I Still Have a Soul, the immediate sequel to Someday I’ll Be Redeemed, in the Chronicles of Lorrek (see the first review here).  If you haven’t read the first book – spoiler warning!

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[Goodreads] Stripped of his memories and told he is a criminal of the worst kind, sorcerer Lorrek must commit one last dark deed to earn back his memories. However, he has no idea his target is family or that he is about to step into a war between advanced technology and ancient magic.

[Back of the Book] They said his memories were taken as punishment for the crimes he committed. They said the only way he can regain his memories is by killing a target assigned by them. Lorrek doesn’t know what is true or what he had done, but he decides to take the lead they gave him. He would find her, even if that means following her into the battlefield between advanced technology and ancient magic as two neighboring kingdoms clash. He will find answers. He will restore his memory, and he will kill any who stands in his way. 

Quick refresher: where we last left off, Lorrek had just given up his memories… after revealing to the reader what really happened those ten years ago, in the event that left the world thinking he was dead. He now awakens knowing none of this, at the complete mercy of king Roskelem. The king has one mission for Lorrek: to kill the assassin named Vixen.

Meanwhile, the kingdoms are at war. The tensions between Jechoram and Cuskelom have risen too far, and now it’s technology versus magic in the battle of a lifetime. Countess Veddra is still occupying the nation of Nirrorm, and it seems she has bigger, loftier goals in mind. And Vixen has gotten herself involved with a plot which may restore the very humanity of some non-citizens of Jechoram…

As tensions come to a boil, an epic battle looms on the horizon.

As with the last book, I was much more entranced by the events that took place in Jechoram than the rest of the continent. The storyline with the guardians could have been an entire book, in its own right. It’s brilliant: so creatively crafted and woven into the larger plot, it let the reader ponder what it truly is to be human.  This plot line borders on science-fantasy, a growing genre which combines technology and fantasy into one brilliant story.

There are so many different plots going on at once, it might get tricky to keep track of! But this means every reader will find a story they like – or many – and fall in love with the characters. But here’s a fair warning – don’t get too attached. It’s a war, after all, and wars have fatalities. So you have been warned!

I found that Lorrek was a bit of a… jerk, to put it mildly, without his memories. I mean, it’s understandable, seeing as how he can’t remember who’s friend or foe, who he can trust and who needs to be killed. But the result was that he wasn’t as relatable as he was in the first novel. No matter, because with everyone else, there’s so many other characters to relate to. I still hold Vixen as being one of the best female assassins I’ve ever read, and I desperately need to know what happens to her next.

The worldbuilding in this series remains phenomenal. The carefully crafted political tension between kingdoms, making the reader keenly aware of the motivations of their respective leaders, is just further evidence of the author’s skill at creating a complex narrative. The author’s strength really lies in the creation of these realms.

It is an exciting sequel, so if you like Someday I’ll be Redeemed, you’ll love I Still Have a Soul. It’s a must read for fans of Lorrek Vixen! The ending leaves me excited for more, as I can’t wait to see what direction the series will go.

 

Me, Currently

by Chelsea Buyce
Reviewed by SA

I’m quite easy to please when it comes to poetry: it takes just one good poem, one that speaks to me and stops me in my tracks, to really win me over. And this book was full of them.

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“I am falling apart daily Somehow, I continue to be Held together only by dreams.” Everyone deals with the Heat of romance, the Pressure of life, and the Madness of mental health. Me, Currently provides an insight into some of those moments and feelings verbalized as the author has dealt with, witnessed or fantasized them. This collection of poetry is written by an unfinished woman who has felt like a bit of an outcast throughout her life. Her poems prove that we are all more alike than we know. For the author, these poems are an escape and more importantly, they are a release. For some readers, these poems can connect them to a world they may never have otherwise entered. For others, may these poems serve as a hatch from which they can unleash their love, hurt, and hopes.

Musings

I struggle to write reviews of poems: my experience with poetry tends to be in the I like it/I don’t realm, though years of english class with brilliant teachers means I can probably ramble on about a single poem for a while. So here I’m aiming for something in the middle: a comprehensive review of my thoughts on this collection.

The collection is split into three parts: Heat (love, romance, relationships), Pressure (life, stress), and Madness (mental health, anxiety, depression). The title, “Me, Currently,” is a direct reference to the poet’s current state in her life.

Heat was quite beautiful. The poems on the loss of love packed a punch, while the poems on love itself were a little cute. “Earned Grin” was short and sweet: Your Smile/Holds/A secret/ That the rest/ of the world/ aches to learn. I really connected with that one, and many others. Of the three parts, this one might have been the weakest, simply because I’m not sure about the flow of their collection here.

Pressure was insanely relatable. “Moments” was a fantastic poem, and “Motivation” is going on my wall. It’s always a little unsettling for me (in a good way) when a poet puts into words something that’s in my head, and there’s the realization that I’m not alone in thinking that way. A few of the poems seemed like they were meant for the first part of the book, but I trust the order the poet picked.

Madness was beautiful, relatable, and a bit scary. I think this was by far the poet’s strongest part. I want “She was Poetry” etched on my tombstone, please. “Big Plans” has me written all over it. This section slowly becomes darker and darker, until the very last poem, which I think can be read either way: the poet speaks of freedom, weightlessness, though the poem is entitled “Drained” and it ends with “feinting, feinting.” I don’t know if the author has found freedom through her work, or has fallen into deeper despair. It makes me want to check up on the poet, to see if she’s ok.

Overall, the poet has shown herself incredibly talented and insightful at capturing human nature. I do feel that some poems were a little forced, not in content, but in how they might have searched a little too hard for a rhyming scheme that maybe wasn’t necessary. The ones that stood out to me generally had a more free flowing form, which the poet excels at.

All in all, this is a beautiful and evocative collection. It puts into words the thoughts and feelings that need to be talked about.

 

Someday I’ll Be Redeemed

by Kelly Blanchard
Reviewed by Sarah A

Happy Self Published Saturday! I’m so excited to share this book with you, that I spent the past week speed reading it so I could talk about it STAT – it’s quite a long book, and so full of incredible… well, everything… that I didn’t want to wait until next week.

Someday I’ll Be Redeemed is the first in the Chronicles of Lorrek series, set in a high/epic fantasy universe and infused with science fiction and technology. It’s full of political intrigue, plots, and magic, along with characters so complex they’ll have your head spinning. By the end of it, you’ll be devastated – and yes, that’s a good thing.

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Everyone thinks him to be dead–or guilty. Without a word or sighting of Prince Lorrek of Cuskelom these last ten years, all believe the rumors of his crimes, which he is said to have committed, are true. However, when he finally returns to clear his name, Lorrek realizes the only way to find redemption is to become the very man they think him to be in this time when advanced technology challenges ancient magic to war.

Musings

Lorrek’s been dead for a decade – only he hasn’t. When he appears at the gates of a neighboring kingdom, begging for sanctuary, he begins a chain of events that put the realms on the brink of war… but what really happened, ten years ago, that shattered the kingdoms?

I have to admit, at first, I was struggling to get into this book: the political back and forth is not usually my cup of tea, and took a little while for me to follow. The effort in world building here is outstanding, but the author has a lot to tell in so short of time that I felt overwhelmed by the information. But as soon as the ball is rolling, the story gets faster and more exciting, to the point where you cannot put it down.

This is especially true in the second half of the book, which takes place back before the events that sent Lorrek into Oblivion. Here, we have medieval fantasy characters coming to a realm of technological innovation in search of a cure for Lorrek’s cousin (and subsequent lookalike) whose magic has been infecting him. But no-one’s motives are as they seem, and there’s a lot more going on than anyone can realize… this for me was an outstanding portion of the book, and it had me completely engrossed.

And the ending? I have no words. Ok, maybe one – WOW.

Which is not to say I wasn’t impressed with the rest of the novel – the first half lays the groundwork, filling you with so many questions, while the second answers them, in such a way that you can’t help but notice just how intricate the plot really is. Everything is connected. And the way the characters grow and change in those ten years? Incredible writing.

Speaking of the characters, I just love them. Vix is by far my favorite: a brilliant assassin, who can be hard and cold but also adorable and romantic. There’s a depth to her you hardly ever see in fantasy women. Even the villains aren’t 100% evil – we see their motivations, we even root for them at moments.

Stylistically, the author could have done with a little less repetition: sometimes a sentence would pull me out of the story, which got a little annoying. But no matter. The story is what counts, and Blanchard has crafted a complex narrative with brilliant world building and relatable characters. I just can’t wait for the sequel!

You can purchase Someday I’ll Be Redeemed here on amazon, in ebook and paperback. Don’t forget to check out the sequel, I Still Have A Soul!

Untamed – Relaunched!

A few months ago, I came here talking to you about a fantastic YA novel that was really out of this world. Amazing world building, coupled with fantastic characters and a fast paced plot, Untamed by Madeline Dyer is destined to become a hit.

Today, I’m excited to announce that this brilliant book has been RELAUNCHED with an amazing new cover. Not only that, but the sequel will be relaunched as well, just two weeks from now.

And, bookworms, I have to say, I’m personally really excited about this book. Now that the author is going self published, I will be speaking a lot about her in my Self Published Saturday posts, and keep you updated on this fantastic series. I adored the first novel and I can’t wait for the sequel, and now I love them even more because of the kick-ass cover.

As this is a relaunch, I’m going to repost my original review of this book –  Spoiler free, of course! But just LOOK at that beautiful new cover!


Sometimes a book comes along that catches you off guard. You finish reading it and just think: wow, wow… That was fun, exciting, everything I wanted in a book. Can I get another? Well, Untamed was that book for me. It’s the perfect book to pull you out of a reading slump and remind you that a good plot can take you anywhere. And did I mention it’s exciting, and impossible to put down?

Summaryuntamed-cover

As one of the last Untamed humans left in the world, Seven’s life has always been controlled by tight rules. Stay away from the Enhanced. Don’t question your leader. And, most importantly, never switch sides–because once you’re Enhanced there’s no going back. Even if you have become the perfect human being.

But after a disastrous raid on an Enhanced city, Seven soon finds herself in her enemy’s power. Realizing it’s only a matter of time before she too develops a taste for the chemical augmenters responsible for the erosion of humanity, Seven knows she must act quickly if she’s to escape and save her family from the same fate.

Yet, as one of the most powerful Seers that the Untamed and Enhanced have ever known, Seven quickly discovers that she alone holds the key to the survival of only one race. But things aren’t clear-cut anymore, and with Seven now questioning the very beliefs she was raised on, she knows she has an important choice to make. One that has two very different outcomes.

Seven must choose wisely whose side she joins, for the War of Humanity is underway, and Death never takes kindly to traitors.

The novel throws you right into the action, even from the first line. We follow Seven, a young woman who lives in this dark future where most of the population is addicted to mood enhancing drugs. The drugs, or Augmenters, can also make you more beautiful, stronger, faster, smarter… at the cost of your humanity. You feel no negative emotions, and your eyes glaze over with a mirror-like sheen. Those who are augmenter free live in constant fear of being converted – they are called Untamed, and Seven is one of them.

After Seven is captured, and then saved from the Enhanced, her life is constantly torn between the two camps. She’s addicted, to put it mildly. This makes her a fascinating character, as she tries to make the right decisions for her camp, while at the same time craving something she knows she mustn’t have. it’s a mental tug of war, a fight against addiction that many, unfortunately, know too well.

The world that Dyer has created is just so dang fascinating. It’s a world in which not only we have these two opposing forces, but spirits are loose as well. Spirits that can influence Seven’s visions, or physically hinder the gang as they try to escape the clutches of the Enhanced. It’s pretty brilliant the way the author intertwines reality with these spirits, making you wonder just how they came into being and why they hold so much importance. It feels like a combination of the far future and the past.

But I have to say what sol me on this novel was really the author’s effortless style. It’s perfect, making it easy to get sucked into the story and yet impossible to put down. I found myself eagerly turning the pages until I was outraged that there were none left to turn. The plot could easily have come off as being something seen before, but instead I felt like I was reading something entirely new, which plot twists I definitely did not see coming.

If you need a kick-butt story with amazing characters and outstanding world building, pick up a copy of Untamed. You deserve it.

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My thoughts about this book have not changed in those months, except maybe to get stronger. I remember just how blown away I was by the author’s ability to conjure up images of Seven’s world so vividly in my mind.

it’s a beautiful book, both inside and out. And I know you want to read it! For the next two weeks, this new edition of Untamed will be $1.99/£1.99 (or less, depending on the retailer) on all platforms. Join with me in spreading the word!

Author’s website! And you can purchase the book on AmazoniBooks, and Kobo.

 

Space Team

by Barry J. Hutchison
Reviewed by Sarah

First book of the new year! I’ve had this book on my TBR pile for ages, saving it for a bad day so it could cheer me up. And it did more than that – this book is a pure delight. It combines everything I love about space travel, crazy adventures, and hilarious comedy, along with a cast of characters you fall in love with from page one. Hold on to your seats – this book is Fonking hilarious.

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Cal Carver is having a bad day. Imprisoned and forced to share a cell with a cannibalistic serial killer, Cal thinks things can’t possibly get any worse.

He is wrong.

It’s not until two-thirds of the human race is wiped out and Cal is abducted by aliens that his day really starts to go downhill.

Whisked across the galaxy, Cal is thrown into a team of some of the sector’s most notorious villains and scumbags. Their mission should be simple enough, but as one screw-up leads to another, they find themselves in a frantic battle to save an entire alien civilization – and its god – from total annihilation.

Musings

So. You’ve got an identity thief forced to work alongside villains and soldiers on what’s supposed to be an easy assignment, just doing a drop on behalf of a prominent interstellar corporation. It’s definitely a recipe for disaster. Cal will do anything to survive, including pretending to be a cannibal, resisting the advances of a wolf, or befriending a lump of sentient green shapeshifting goop. And that’s just the start of his problems.

This was the first book I’ve read in a long time that was laugh-out-loud hilarious. And I’ve missed that so much – I really wish more books were like Space Team. Whether it’s the witty comments, the snark from Cal or any of his compatriots, or the ridiculous situations they get themselves into on the worst assignment ever, it just makes me insanely happy to read it. It reminds me of Guardians of the Galaxy (for the rag tag team of villains aspect), definitely giving off a Terry Pratchett vibe for the humor (on par with Douglas Adams, though less introspective if you hate that) and – oddly – the characters remind of of Brooklyn 99, if it was set in space and everyone hated each other just a tad.

The characters’ complexity also got me. No one is what they seem on the surface. You have the wolf girl who’s oddly attracted to Cal (which at first bugged me, until it became clear why), who seems to have an interesting family dynamic. You have the top-of-her-class soldier, desperate to look good to her commanding officers but doomed to fail from the stars, you have the Mech who can either be the bulk or the brains, but never both at once, and you have a lump of sentient green shapeshifting goop, who by the end of the book is your best friend. I feel like we’ve only just scratched the surface of these characters lives, and I’m dying to know more.

And it’s just so gosh darn clever. So much of this book was hilarious just by how on point it was. The running gags the likes of Arrested Development. The Sci fi references left and right. Cal’s obsession with putting the word space in front of everything, for example. Or his fixation on Toby Maguire. Or the awful swearing. It’s just non stop, pages turning themselves, impossible to put down except when you’re laughing so hard and there are tears in your eyes and you need to stop because you can’t see anything anymore.

Now I’m going to run and grab book 2. You can grab Space Team right here, right now.

Angel Tormented

by C.L. Coffey

Book three! Finally! After Angel in Trainer and Angel Eclipsed, I had great expectations for the Lousiangel series. And book three does not disappoint: quite the opposite, it shatters all expectations and delivers a powerful third installment, possibly the best in the series yet.

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With people are camping outside the churches in the city, waiting for their own miracles, trying to keep a low profile has been an easy task. Michael has had her under house arrest and with the cherubim gone and the remaining angels too busy (or lazy) to help, Angel has been too distracted to worry about the fact there are two Princes’ of Darkness in New Orleans. Until Ty – the Nephilim she doesn’t know if she should trust – comes to her with information that could lead to the end of Asmodeus.

When tragedy strikes, Angel has her hands full trying not to let the convent descend into chaos. The list of things Angel must accomplish keeps getting longer, and as each item grows more important, so too does the urgency at which it must be completed. With her list of allies constantly changing, can Angel remove the evil from New Orleans and keep Joshua safe?

For those of you just joining us, the Louisiangel series tells the story of Angel, a young woman who’s recruited into the heavenly ranks to try and fight an oncoming evil. Set in the city of New Orleans, she must protect her charge, the detective Joshua, from danger while trying to solve the mystery of what the Princes of Darkness are planning for the world. My reviews of Book 1 and Book 2 are here. If you haven’t read either two, you might get spoiled as we go on!

Book three takes off in the aftermath of Ty’s leak to the press. People are clamoring for miracles, and Angel is lying low, trying to work out what is happening with Beelzebub and Asmodeus while staying out of sight. But with the cherubs gone, it’s almost impossible to get anything done. Especially since the angles can’t seem to do anything for themselves.

But the novel picks up speed incredibly fast. First of all, a main character we know and love is brutally murdered, and now, the stakes have never been higher. The book is much faster paced than the first two, and you really feel the importance of what’s going down. There’s more than one murder to solve, and ranks to pull together: it’s getting serious, and it’s going down. The Princes of Darkness have got a plan, and Lucifer’s at the heart of it: but what on earth are they intending?

I love how you can really see Angel’s character growth in this book. She’s fed up with waiting for orders. She’s tougher than ever, and she’s out with a vengeance. Her relationship with Joshua is also moving forward, and I’m so glad to see how strong they are together. It’s cute and romantic while also being badass, all without being the center of the plot.

This book is much darker than the ones before. The stakes are higher than ever, and Angel is not going to take it for much longer. So many twists, with a powerful ending to boot, and now I’m dying to know what happens next.

If you’re a fan of Supernatural, you need to read this series. It’s fantastic.