Daughter of Rage and Beauty
Berserker Academy Book 1
by Amy Pennza
Genre: Adult, Urban Fantasy, Romance
The sagas claim you can’t fight fate. I’m determined to prove them wrong. They say your twenties are supposed to be the best years of your life.
Clearly, they don’t know what they’re talking about.
Because right now, my life is in shambles. As the daughter of one of the most powerful berserkers in the world, I should be taking my place among the noble guild of berserker assassins. By now, I should have mastered my emotions and conquered my rage—all the better to use it as a weapon when called upon to kill.
But I’m not just Harald Berregaard’s daughter. My mother was a nymph, which makes me a magical mutt. When I was born, my father thought I might possess the best traits from both races.
He was wrong.
Now he’s shipping me off to the Berserker Academy, where the unofficial motto is “graduate or die.”
With the stakes this high, I can’t afford to get distracted. Too bad the academy’s headmaster keeps showing up at the most inconvenient moments, reminding me how much I suck at magic. And fighting. And basic conversation.
It doesn’t matter that he does it with a smile. Or that his eyes fire silver when he’s amused . . . or aroused. Hauk Sigridsson has his own problems. He’s not going to be one of mine.
On the other hand, he’s offered me a way to accelerate my studies and make it out of the academy alive. I just have to help him steal a priceless rock and defeat one of the most powerful immortals to have ever lived.
No big deal.
I’m in way over my head, but I’m determined to survive. They say you can’t fight fate. I’m going to show fate exactly what I’m made of.
The story opens with Elin approaching BjØrneskalle Castle, home to the Berserker Academy (think of it as an assassin’s university), in a car with her father. The tension in the story builds as they get nearer and nearer – A fantastic hook in! It had me. I needed to find out what was going to happen and what this Berserker Academy was all about.
Elin is our POV character: She comes across as sweet, yet powerful and was easily likeable. Elin mother was a nymph, so she’s half Fae – She soon finds that this is disliked by some of the other students. For the first half of this book I felt Elin was younger than her 21 years. She had lived a life away from most of the berserkers, being home schooled up until the start of the book. Elin had spent her whole life being put down by her unsupportive hatful father, Harald, and being at the Academy was the first time she was able to live out from under his thumb. But early on I kept thinking she felt younger, and I’ve put this down to the Vampire Academy mixed with Norse mythology vibe that was going on – FYI I was loving that vibe, it just felt more high school than university.
Hauk our love interest: Hauk Sigridsson, the headmaster of BjØrneskalle. I never really got a gage on how old Hauk was. As the reader we surmise that he came into his high position at the Berserker Academy due to his superior fighting skills and his legendary Mother’s supreme warrior reputation, not his age. It is only remarked that age is hard to determine with Mythicals, and that the eyes are the only way to tell. It is said he had young eyes.
Hauk trains one on one with Elin, at first seemly to help her catch up and adjust to academy life. This storyline changes as Haul asks Elin to accompany him on a dangerous quest. A quest that involves traveling into dangerous lands, dealing with deadly Fae, fighting desire and recovering the prized immorality stone.
I must say that I did love that gender did not factor into how good of a warrior you were. The girls and the guys were equally kick ass.
There were events near the end of the book that I didn’t see coming. I actually said Oh Shit out loud at one point. A book hasn’t blindsided me like that in ages – cheers to you Amy Pennza.
The classification: This book is listed as Adult Urban Fantasy Romance. I assumed there would be graphic sex coming at some point and that’s why this was classed as an adult book, rather than New Adult. The sex doesn’t come to later in the book and it is primal, it’s hot and heavy and at one point I stopped and thought – Yes, I can see why she’s made Elin 21 or the whole thing Hauk wouldn’t have worked, and I don’t think I’d have been comfortable reading those scene knowing the character as any younger. I don’t think you necessarily need to be an adult to read this story. 17-year-old me would have loooooved this book. I mean come on, kids these days are watching worse stuff on the internet, at least Hauk and Elin care about each other and aren’t some pool boy and horny housewife combo – that’s all I’m saying.
All in all, I did enjoy this book. The writing flowed well and the fast, yet steady pacing made for a quick and entertaining read. I would happy read more works by Amy Pennza.
About the author: Amy Pennza has been a lawyer, a soldier, and a copywriter. She’s worn combat boots and high heels in the same 24-hour period–and she definitely prefers flip flops. Actually, she prefers going barefoot while writing steamy romances about strong women and alpha men with hearts of gold. After years in Tornado Alley, she now makes her home in the Great Lakes region with her husband, kids, and more baskets than any one person should own. (You can never have enough.)
A demon haunts Samantha Green’s dreams.
And she fears it’s coming for her…
When wildlife prodigy Sam and her crush—quirky handsome Jake—are attacked by a dragon assassin, Sam discovers her secret past. A past connected to a supernatural giant cat and a glowing faerie.
Sam is quickly pulled into a high stakes battle for the world. Everyone, including a creepy ancient villain, wants her supernatural staff, which she doesn’t know how to use. Sophisticated ninja dragons, a kong-sized gorilla, and mysterious beasts offer help—but are they friends or enemies? Sam has a big heart, but will her love for all creatures tear her life apart?
To survive the hardest choice she’s ever made, Sam will have to unlock the hidden power inside her.
Ready or not, Sam is about to find out if she has what it takes to be a guardian…
Guardian: The Choice is the new exciting start of a magic-filled fantasy four book series starring a powerful heroine, a tough brawny hero, and a slew of not-so-friendly magical beasts.
A fantasy thriller series loved by readers of all ages that will keep you turning the pages late into the night.
Sam and Jake are both suffering from strange dreams and day visions, when they are attacked out in the wilderness on Sam’s family’s wildlife Sanctuary, by what appears to be an extremely oversized Komodo Dragon that can talk. Then a special military branch, a tactical squad called VIPER, turns up and things only get worse.
Sam and Jake struggle to grasp what is a happening as it becomes apparent someone, or something has modified their memories. VIPER has footage of them fighting alongside and with extremely and abnormally large animals, but they have no recollection of the event.
From one battle to the next, this story has the main characters in constant turmoil. Oh, these poor darn kids were so confused with who to trust the entire time. This story is a high speed roller-coaster.
With family and friends lives in danger, not to mention the fate of two whole worlds, Sam and Jake have no choice but to figure out what’s going on, who they should trust and who they should be helping – and fast.
I enjoyed the world Saign has created and really liked the animals and their way of controlling energy. POV Sam was easily likable, but Jake got on my nerves at bit. I think that the characters worked well as a friendship, but I didn’t feel any real romantic tension between them, not that that was a problem really, as there was so much else going on in the book.
About the Author:
Award-winning author Geoffrey Saign has spent many years studying kung fu and sailed all over the South Pacific and Caribbean. He uses that experience and sense of adventure to write the Jack Steel and Alex Sight thriller action series.
Geoff’s love of wildlife led him to write the award-winning fantasy series, Magical Beasts. He is also the author of a stress reduction book, and Green Essentials which won national recognition. Geoff has a degree in biology and has assisted in field research on hummingbirds and humpback whales. For decades he has taught challenged adults and children everything from sailing to self-awareness and novel writing.
Geoff loves to sail big boats, hike, and cook—and he infuses all his writing with his passion for nature. As a swimmer, he considers himself blessed to live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesota.
The Veiled Threat (The Veiled Duchess #1) by Sophia Menesini
Genre: Fantasy, LGBTQ+, New Adult, Romance
Publication: June 30th 2019
Source: Review copy from Xpresso Tours – Thank You
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Rating: ✵ ✵ ✵ ✵ ✵
Captain Shea Lara is the current leader of The Veiled Duchess. The most feared pirate ship in all of Neried. And now, after completing her former mentor’s final score, she’s retiring. Everything seems to be coming to an end… Until a mysterious stranger drags her back into the fold with an offer for a score she can’t refuse. All she has to do is kidnap the crowned princess of the northern Queendom, Princess Joana of Arethusa.
The prize is just within reach. But sparks fly as the two women collide. And an obscured threat that could upturn Shea’s entire world storms on the horizon. She’ll face it alone unless she can allow herself the support she needs from old and new allies alike. Something’s coming and Shea is at the center of it.
The Veiled Threat is the first book in the action-packed New Adult romantic fantasy series, The Veiled Duchess.
The story kicks off with The Veiled Duchess captain, Shea Lara, and her crew taking down an imperial navy ship. Straight into the pirate action, oh yeah! I was immediately captivated by captain Shae and her swashbuckling crew.
The POV swaps between two Characters – Captain Shae, a 23-yr-old red headed Elven beauty, a vixen and pirate supreme. – And Jo, Crown Princess Joana of Arethusa, a 25 yr-old blond bombshell who is much more than just a pretty face. We travel with Shea for the first six chapters, setting up plot lines and background. We then meet Joana (Jo) at chapter seven.
As the synopsis says Shae is offered a job with a pay day that she cannot refuse. A pay day that she could use to bring an end to the Elven slave trade.
The kidnapping goes off without a hitch, seeming too good to be true, but the kidnapping is only the begging of the adventures that Shae and Jo have. Double crosses, dirty dealings and insider Royal betrayal. Oh and there’s the pesky little problem of Shae and Jo starting to fall in love with each other. The Veiled Duchess’s captain and crew find not only trouble, but love and unlikely allies along the way.
This book is full of evil rulers, slavery, pirates, princesses, passion, power plays, mutiny, girl power and lady on lady love. And has an Epilogue so epic it that makes me not only want to read the next book, but NEEEEED to!
Book two, The Veiled Descendants, BRING IT ON Sophia Menesini!
Sophia Menesini lives in Martinez, CA with her husband, and their two small Chihuahuas, Ziggy and Zeppelin. The Veiled Threat is her first novel and the first book in The Veiled Duchess Series. Sophia is an avid tea connoisseur and lover of Scotland with an unconventional memory for obscure Disney and Broadway song lyrics.
Sealer’s Game (Sealer Saga #1) by Kathy Coleman
Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Publication: October 22nd 2019
Publisher: Kathy Coleman
Source: Review copy via Xpresso Tours
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Hell hath no fury like a goddess scorned…
As Champion, Carita of Bel Auryn thought she would spend her days fighting demons. Instead, she is drawn into the latest scheme of the Moon Goddess, Ruby: a contest to choose a man who will have the “honour” of fathering her child. When Ruby encourages Carita to choose a man for herself, she picks the man she is most drawn to–and immediately regrets it.
Lucian Veradayne is the Lord of Death. He knows he must win Ruby’s game at any cost. It doesn’t matter that he has avoided her for two thousand years. Nor that she tried to kill their first child. And it really doesn’t matter that he would much rather woo Carita. The Soul Well has given Lucian a prophecy: he and Ruby must have another child. A child who will save the world.
Dealing with their mutual attraction will be the least of Lucian and Carita’s problems. They are not the only ones who have been drawn into Ruby’s game. Someone else wants to win. Someone who wants Ruby dead. Will Carita and Lucian be able to protect her long enough for a victor to be named? And if they succeed, will they be able to walk away from each other to ensure the prophecy is fulfilled?
Sealer’s Game is a 55,000 word fantasy romance novella about the King of the Underworld, a kick-butt warrior priestess, and a ruthless goddess who will stop at nothing to get her own way. It contains language, descriptions of violence, and sexual themes that may not be appropriate for all readers. Recommended for ages 18+.
Where to start. I wouldn’t call this an 18+ read. More like a 15+. A mature audience warning, rather than being rated R. I’ve read darker battle scenes and stronger sexual themes in YA. It’s the baby murder in the prologue, that gives it the MA15+ warning from me.
I’m going to have to address it straight up. I found the Prologue destressing and would have stopped reading the book had it not been that I was part of this blog tour. I am glad I kept reading because overall, I did end up being entertained and found the Sealer’s Game to be a quick, easy and enjoyable read.
The realm most of this story takes place in in Zynedia. Kindred are to Zynedia, what humans are to Earth. Earth does exist but it is another realm. A Sealer is what the gods are, their species, like human, or kindred, or bear, or rabbit etc. There is a Greek style Underworld and the dead from Zynedia and Earth end up there. The Sky realm isn’t visited in this story, but I’m sure it will be explored as the story continues in later books. My explanation might seem confusing, but it’s quite easy to follow as the story progresses. Remember I called it a “a quick, easy and enjoyable read.”
The story cycles through three points of view; Ruby, Carita and Lucian.
The first character we meet is Ruby. We’ve just meet Ruby and she’s already murdering a baby she just gave birth to. Yep it took me a while to come back from that and I never really ended up warming to her character (big shock there).
I think in the Prologue you are supposed to feel Lucian is the bad guy? But being that he tried to save the baby and was willing to love it anyway, he felt more like a good guy, even though he was the ruler of the underworld. Lucian Veradayne, the Lord of Death. Hades, he is essentially Hades. There are Greek god vibes all through this book, and that I was into. Even when Ruby was explaining the different realms to Carita and her history with Lucian. I was still left feeling he was the good guy.
To Ruby, Men are nothing but playthings, which I was okay with – It’s the graphic baby killing bit where she lost me. The ice-cold goddess seemed to warm to her mortal servant, and they sort of became friends, kind of.
And that leads us to Carita. Carita is a kindred (think human). I liked Carita. She was traded to the moon temple by her royal parents as a child, for a potion to allow them to conceive a health son. She was a damn princess before becoming a priestess. Hello warrior princess, I see you. She’s spent her life training to be a strong warrior so one day she might be picked by Skye Goddess Ruby as her champion (Champion = protector/maid/squire/toy/go-kill-that-man. Murder slave!)
Conclusion. This book has a Hitmen, secret agreements, fierce women and a prophecy that demands the birth off a child who is of both the underworld and the sky realm – who of cause will be the key to saving all the realms. Harrah! By the end I did feel like all three of the POV characters were hard done by thanks to the damn Prophesy – but that’s prophecies for you. And yeah, I did have some issues with it, but overall! I did end up being entertained and found the Sealer’s Game to be a quick, easy and enjoyable read.
Did the baby get conceived? What becomes of Carita and Lucian’s feeling for each other? You’ll have to read Sealer’s Game to find out.
Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber
Genre: Contemporary, Heterosexual romance, Mental Health (ish)
Publication: 2nd of August 2018
Publisher: Walker Books
Source: Publisher – Thank You
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Reiko loves the endless sky and electric colours of the Californian desert. It is a refuge from an increasingly claustrophobic life of family pressures and her own secrets.
Then she meets Seth, a boy who shares a love of the desert and her yearning for a different kind of life. But Reiko and Seth both want something the other can’t give them.
As summer ends, things begin to fall apart. But the end of love can sometimes be the beginning of you.
There were a lot of things that this book could have tackled – the loss of a loved one (a sister), but instead, this book, to me, chose to focus on all of the wrong things.
Reiko is a 17 year old girl, who misses her older sister, Mika, who died when she was 14 and Reiko was 12. But Reiko still sees Mika, and still talks to her, but she is frozen in time – forever 14 years old.
One day, Reiko goes rock climbing in the middle of the night – something she does to clear her head, and she meets Seth Rogers, a boy from her class.
Reiko doesn’t know how she feels regarding Seth, and every time she tries to come to terms with her own feelings, things get taken out of proportion, resulting in her being dumped on the night of the Homecoming dance.
I would have liked to have seen this book actually deal with Reiko’s lack of processing her grief towards her sister’s death, but instead this book was so forceful in its focus on Seth+Reiko. Their relationship was toxic, to me, from the start, and the way it ended was, frankly, exactly how I thought it was going to end.
In the end, Reiko barely processes her grief, she decided that she’s fine to talk about Mika with her family, despite having not uttered her name to them out loud for 5 years, and then that’s it. Story over. There was no growth, no development, nothing to say that this character had actually leaned anything about herself, other than the fact that she is definitely grieving her sister, but she was a spoiled brat the entire time from start to finish, and I expect she’ll continue on like that for the rest of her life.
Weapon (Whisper #2) by Lynette Noni
Genre: YA, Sci-FI, #LoveOzYa
Publication: November 4th 2019
Publisher: Pantera Press
Source: Review copy from publisher – Thank You
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The #1 bestselling WHISPER series concludes with WEAPON:
I already knew he was a psychopath. But now?
He’s more dangerous than ever.
And I have less than twenty-four hours to stop him.
After escaping Lengard and finding sanctuary with the Remnants, Alyssa Scott is desperate to save those she left behind ─ and the rest of the world ─ from the power-hungry scientist, Kendall Vanik. But secrets and lies block her at every turn, and soon Lyss is left questioning everything she has ever believed.
When long-lost memories begin to surface and the mysteries of her past continue to grow, Lyss battles to retain her hard-won control. Allies become enemies and enemies become allies, leaving her certain about only two things: when it comes to Speakers, nothing is ever as it seems… and the only person she can trust is herself.
I love Lynette Noni’s writing – That won’t come as a shock to any of you. I loved her Medoran Chronicles and I love this Whisper duology. If you’ve never dived headfirst into a world created by Ms Noni you are doing yourself a disservice.
Noni’s The Medoran Chronicles consists of six books set in a fantastical parallel world (the world building is epic) and are all about friendship and finding inner strength. The Whisper Series is also about friendship, learning how to trust others and yourself and discovering who you really are – well, who Subject 6-8-4 really is and what she’s made of.
The Medoran Chronicles is epic YA fantasy. The Whisper Series is modern day Urban YA sci-fi. Most of The Whisper Series is set in a secret underground facility, but we do get glimpse of real-world Sydney city, the city in which this secret facility lies beneath.
Whisper and Weapon follow the story of Subject 6-8-4, let’s call her Chip for the purpose of this review. We learn about Chip’s past with her and her real name isn’t revealed into really the end of book one.
In Weapon we see Chip away from the secret facility that kept her locked up and tortured her for two and a half years. We see her discover the immense power she can wield. From the start of Whisper I immediately felt drawn to Chip and was rooting for her all the way to the end of Weapon.
Weapon kicks off right where Whisper finished. If you thought Whisper was edge of your seat intense, Weapon is more so. I tore through the pages, needing to discover what happened next! Needing to know what was going to become of Chip and her friends! At one point I was so stressed I almost skipped to the end just to make sure everything was going to end up okay (see I still haven’t forgiven Noni for Niyx in the Medoran Chronicles). But I didn’t sneak a peek and rode the intense roller coaster right to the magnificent end. Thankfully I didn’t lose any favourite characters in this series and I was satisfied with their hope filled endings.
Who would like The Whisper Series: People who love stories about secrets hiding right under their noises, conspiracies and mysterious government testing, side effects causing special abilities to develop in the test subjects children, hidden facilities, power corrupted leaders, and the strength of friendship. Any #LoveOzYa aficionados and Sci-Fi lovers of all ages.
You’ve done it again Lynette Noni, five out of five stars from me for the thrilling conclusion that is Weapon, I can’t wait to see what you write next!
Check out the hashtags #whisperseries #weapon and #speakup to follow along with Pantera Press’s blog tour for Weapon, taking place between November 1 and November 15.
Beautiful Mess by Claire Christian
Genre: Contemporary, Heterosexual romance, Mental Health, #LoveOzYA
Publication: 28th of August 2017
Publisher: Text Publishing
Source: Publisher – Thank You
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Since Ava lost Kelly, things haven’t been going so well. Even before she gets thrown out of school for shouting at the principal, there’s the simmering rage and all the weird destructive choices. The only thing going right for Ava is her job at Magic Kebab.
Which is where she meets Gideon. Skinny, shy, anxious Gideon. A mad poet and collector of vinyl records with an aversion to social media. He lives in his head. She lives in her grief. The only people who can help them move on with their lives are each other.
Beautiful Mess is a messy book. It deals with heavy topics such as suicide, self-harm, and mental health. It is by no means a completely sad book, but it definitely has its sad parts.
One of the two main characters, Ava, has just recently lost her best friend, Kelly, to suicide. Life has been hard for her ever since. She’s angry, she’s sad, she’s hurting, and everyone around her keeps telling her that she’ll be able to ‘move on’ after time. But right now, it doesn’t feel like she’ll ever stop hurting.
The second main character, Gideon, is a poet, and also an anxious person by nature. He has a fair amount of anxiety, and depression, and has been on medication since he stopped self-harming at 13 years old. He still has his ups and down, as any person does, but he feels like he’s got a proper handle on things.
Ava and Gideon meet via Ava’s job at Magic Kebab, when Gideon is hired after his therapist helping him find a job.
The pair are unlikely – Gideon too nervous to talk to Ava, who told the entire school to “get fucked” during an assembly after Kelly’s death. And Ava has no idea who Gideon is, as they had never interacted before his first shift.
Ava finds Gideon interesting, and Gideon is fascinated with Ava. But because they have no way to chat outside of work as Gideon has a self-imposed no phone/internet thing going on, they start to write each other letters to get to know each other more.
As time goes on, their feelings develop into romantic, and sexual ones, and they become closer than ever.
But all of that aside, both of them know that they can’t “fix” each other, that there needs to be work on both of their parts if they’re ever going to be able to function properly as people in the wake of their overwhelming grief.
I liked that this book didn’t shy away from the heavier side of mental health issues. From Kelly’s suicide, and how she just needed to “end her pain” to Gideon’s self-harming and what led him to start.
These are the things that teenagers will think about, and hopefully, coupled with the resources in the back of the book, anyone who reads this book, can know that they are not alone, and they can seek help.
There were parts of the story I didn’t like, but that was a me thing, and there were parts that hit really close to home for me, but I do think that anyone who has any mental health issues, or who knows of anyone who does, will probably find this book helpful in knowing that they’re not alone.
And I think the most important take from this book is that you can’t just fix someone else’s issues and problems. It has to be something they want to do, but it also has to be done with professional help and support.