Book Blitz: Songs of Insurrection by J.C.Kang

Songs of Insurrection
J.C. Kang
(Daughter of the Dragon Throne #1)
Publication date: January 6th 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy

Princess Kaiya’s voice could charm a dragon.

Had she lived when the power of music could still summon typhoons and rout armies, perhaps Cathay’s imperial court would see her as more than a singing fool. With alliances to build and ambitious lords to placate, they care more about her marriage prospects than her voice.

Only the handsome Prince Hardeep, a foreign martial mystic, recognizes her potential. Convinced Kaiya will rediscover the legendary but perilous art of invoking magic through music, he suggests her voice, not her marriage, might better serve the realm.

When members of the emperor’s elite spy clan– Kaiya’s childhood friend Tian and his half-elf sidekick (or maybe he’s her sidekick?)– discover mere discontent boiling over into full-scale rebellion, Kaiya must choose. Obediently wedding the depraved ringleader means giving up her music. Confronting him with the growing power of her voice could kill her.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

CHAPTER 1
Not-So-Chance Meetings

If marriage were a woman’s grave, as the proverb claimed, sixteen-year-old Princess Kaiya suspected the emperor was arranging her funeral. Entourage in tow, she shuffled through the castle halls toward the garden where General Lu waited. Given his notorious dislike of the arts, the self-proclaimed Guardian Dragon of Hua had undoubtedly envisioned a different kind of audition when he requested to hear her sing.

After all, she was dressed like a potential bride.

She buried a snort. The Guardian Dragon—such a pretentious nickname. The only real dragon, Avarax, who lorded over some faraway land, might make for a more appealing audience. A quick trip down his gullet would spare her a slow death in a marriage with neither love nor music.

And it wouldn’t matter what she wore.

The gaudy dress compensated for her numerous physical imperfections, but stifled the only thing that made her special. How was she supposed to sing with the inner robe and gold sash squeezing her chest, in a futile attempt to misrepresent her woefully underdeveloped curves? The tight fold of the skirts concealed her lanky legs, but forced a deliberate pace. At least the short stride delayed the inevitable, while preventing her unsightly feet from tripping on the hanging sleeves of the vermilion outer gown.

At her side, Crown Princess Xiulan glided across the chirping floorboards. Kaiya suppressed a sigh. If only she could move with the nonchalant grace of her sister-in-law, or even the six handmaidens trailing them. She dug her nails into clammy palms. Through this choreographed farce, appearances had to be maintained, lest she embarrass her father, the Tianzi.

Chin up, back straight. A racing heart threatened to ruin her already meager semblance of imperial grace. Eyes forward. Servants knelt on either side of the looming double doors, ready to slide them open. She forced a smile, with her best approximation of feminine charm. If only she’d lived before Dragon Songs had faded into legend, she could’ve sent the realm’s victorious hero fleeing with the song he supposedly wanted to hear.

An aging palace official stepped into her line of sight.

Singular focus on the doors broken, she blinked. Her fluttering pulse lurched to a stop as she blew out a breath.

His blue robes ruffled as he tottered forward with averted eyes and a bobbing head. He creaked down into a bow. “Emergency, Dian-xia,” he said, using the formal address for her rank. “The Tianzi commands you to greet a foreign delegation in the Hall of Bountiful Harvests.”

Author Bio:

JC Kang’s unhealthy obsession with Fantasy and Sci-Fi began at an early age when his brother introduced him to The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, Star Trek and Star Wars. As an adult, he combines his geek roots with his professional experiences as a Chinese Medicine doctor, martial arts instructor and technical writer to pen epic fantasy stories.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Flash Fiction Friday: Bob of Mongaloo, a 353 word story short.

It is a chilly autumn night out and about in the Mongaloo Mountain ranges. There is a beast watching two teenage boys with intense interest. The two young men are sitting down congratulating themselves with some stolen beer after a five hour trek up the mountain trail and a two hour struggle trying to pitch their tent and get a fire going.

Donavan, the younger of the two boys sits staring up at the stars. “The air is cold on this dark night. But the fire is warm and the stars are bright.”

Barnett snorts shaking his head at his cousin. “Donavan sits warming his exhausted muscles by a raging campfire while stating the obvious in poetic verse.”

“Shut the fuck up.”

“Barnett gives Donavan a look that indicates his feelings have been hurt. That look then turns into a cheeky and devilishly handsome grin.”

Donavan turns to look at his cousin, a smile spreading across his face. “Modest aren’t you.” Then his attention returns to the stars. “But seriously look at the stars, have you ever seen them so bright.”

“Jesus, I Don’t know Don. Probably just look brighter ’cause there aren’t any lights up here.” Barnett walks over to the tent to retrieve a large back pack. He pulls out a cooler bag on his way back to the fire. “Give me a hand with the camp oven will ya. I wanna get this lamb cooking.”

There is a rustle in the nearby bushes drawing both boy’s attention. Out steps a magnificent dark purple dragon “Did I hear someone say lamb.”

Both boys are frozen still, slack jawed, staring at the Doberman sized dragon. The dragon continues to walk over to the fire without taking its eyes of the lamb roll in Barnett’s hands. The only things that move on the boys are their eyes as they follow its strutting stride. The firelight causes a glittery glow to cascade along its back and large folded wings. It sits down opposite the boys, perched on its hind legs while taking them both in with its iridescent green eyes.

“Hi my names Bob”.

I’m not completely sure who these characters are yet really, but they’ve been in my head for over a week so I thought I better remove them and put them down on paper (so to speak).

It started with the line “The air is cold on this dark night. But the fire is warm and the stars are bright” entering my head with the image of two boys by a campfire on a mountain top. We’ll have wait and see if the boys and their dragon entre my dreams again and become anything more.

Review: Immortal Writers by Jill Bowers

30423330Young up-and-coming author Liz McKinnen has no idea that her life is about to change forever when she comes home from her first book tour. When she’s kidnapped and told by her captors that she has to kill her fantasy book’s antagonist, she thinks that she’s fallen into the hands of crazy, dangerous fans… until her antagonist sends a real, fire-breathing dragon after her. Liz is quickly initiated into the Immortal Writers, a group of authors from throughout time whose words have given them eternal life, and whose prose is so powerful that it’s brought stories over from the Imagination Field into the Reality Field. As Liz meets authors such as William Shakespeare, JRR Tolkien, Edgar Allan Poe, and Jane Austen, she has to learn how to control magic, fight dragons, and face her own troubled past before her power-hungry villain takes over the world. Will she survive the ultimate battle against the dragon lord whom she created?

Ebook, 296 pages. Expected publication: November 5th 2016 by Blue Moon Publishers
Thank You Netgalley and Blue Moon Publishers for allowing me a copy to read and review.

immortal-writers My Thoughts: The plot for this story is awesome. Writers who become immortal because of the power of their words. Sounds awesome, right?

As this is labelled as a young adult fantasy I was expecting a light-hearted humorous fantastical romp with William Shakespeare and Jane Austin riding off into the sunset on unicorns. Ok well not actually Shakespeare and Austen, but you catch my drift.

The story started strong and I was super excited, but as I got further into the book that excitement started to dwindle.

I found the lead character Liz’s serious and tortured back story detracted from what could have been a ridiculous light-hearted simple and fun read. And I mean ridiculous in a good way! Because the story was never going to be believable with Shakespeare, Tolkien, Austen, Plath, Hemingway, Twain, Poe and Wells hanging about a castle that’s being attacked by dragons in modern day America.

I found myself rolling my eyes at the romance. I mean it was so frigging cheesy at some points I could have used it to make a grilled sandwich. Yet Liz had this dark and abusive back story, which would be perfect for a modern contemporary, but was sending up red flags and contradicting everything in my mind. Liz the writer and Curtis the hero of her story get all loved up. She hooks up with her fictional creation. This isn’t sane or healthy. Hence why I think the story needed to stay light and funny so that it could pull it off. But that dark and abusive back story! Why Jill Bowers, why?

I don’t think the issue’s I had with this story would affect a younger audience, say 13-15. I think it would go over their heads and they would just see a young woman coming to terms with her past, standing up for herself and winning the battle over her inner and outer demons, while picking up a dragon battling hottie/spunk/fine-male-specimen along the way – which is what I think Bowers was going for.

All things considered the story ended quite strong with an action packed final showdown with the bad guy.

Conclusion: There were parts of the story I enjoyed but over all I’m feeling disappointed. As for a star rating, hmm somewhere between Two and Three stars.

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

IMG_3817IMG_3876IMG_3823IMG_3822IMG_3816How to Train Your Dragon (How to Train Your Dragon #1) by Cressida Cowell

Hiccup Haddock Horrendous III was a truly extraordinary Viking hero.

The warrior chieftain and awesome sword fighter was known as ‘the Dragon Whisperer’, on account of his power over these terrifying beasts.

But it wasn’t always like that, and this is the story of his rise to fame, in his own words.

* ~ * My Thoughts * ~ *  

Book Toothless and Movie Toothless are very different creatures. The only book characters who remotely resemble themselves in the movie are Hiccup and Gobber. And the way the young Vikings come to have their dragons is completely different.

Hiccup is still the Outsider wanting to fit in, the unlikely hero, the underdog etc. Astrid and Ruffnut are no where to be seen, no girls are – I love Astrid and Ruffnut so that was a little disappointing.

All that said this book was adorable! The book series is listed for ages 6 to 10 – I would have devoured this series at around eight years old.

We follow hiccup as an initiate competing for the right to become a full member of his father’s tribe or be banished from the isle of Berk forever. We see hiccup along with all the other boys go off to catch a dragon that they must then train and use to compete. Obviously Toothless does not cooperate in this matter and what follows is humorous tale of mishaps and triumphs.

There is still a enormous dragon showdown with Hiccup and Toothless still getting to be the heroes of the story.

After I had bought the paperback I found out that David Tennent voices the audio books. If I had to pick one thing that would have made me enjoy this book more, it would be having David Tennent read it to me! As is i’m going to give it Four Stars.

star.4

 

If you want to know more: Cressida’s Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

I hope all the photos I took hid the fact my brain is mush at the moment and I couldn’t write a decent review 😐 Did it work? LOL.

 

The Undays of Aralias Lyons by K.L. Horvath

26043206The Undays of Aralias Lyons by K.L. Horvath

 

Kindle Edition, 348 pages.
Published December 8th 2015 by Booktrope Editions (first published May 10th 2014).

I received a copy from the Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Don’t miss K.L. Horvath’s compelling time travel fantasy with talking beasts, iron monsters, otherworldly creatures and a desperate father!

For centuries the great Houses of Time have watched over the mythical creatures, those who manipulate the past for their own ends and humankind. But now the houses have dwindled and few are left who remember the mandates. One, in fact, is determined to put the world in its proper place—beneath his rule.

To do that, he’s kidnapped Jack Lyons, the youngest of the Time Travelers. And to get him back and defeat Bliss, Lord Aralias Lyons, Jack’s father, will do anything he has to. He’ll fight wicked spiders, an army of clockwork men, let his son suffer and manipulate time itself in order to right what Bliss has put wrong. He’ll even allow the innocent Miss Clara Heartwell to discover more about the Travelers than most mortals know.
Through secret and deadly deals with dragons, battles back in time and with Jack himself, Aralias has to think smarter, act faster, and be more decisive. Because in the end, saving Jack is all that matters … GOODREADS.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * My Thoughts * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Where to start? I guess you could say the main characters were Aralias Lyons, his son Jack, a woman by the name of Clara Heartwell, Nicholas Seraph and the bad guy of the story, Simeon Bliss. Bliss had minions and Aralia’s also had other family members in the mix. Aralias is not quite human. He is a 223-year-old traveler. A guardian of the rotating sun. A traveler of time. His son Jack starts the story out at 9, but becomes 14 by the end.

I found myself flip flopping with this book. From loving it one minute, Aralias riding a Pegasus in battle. To thinking ‘oh shut up’ at Clara and Aralias banter the next.

For me the story didn’t really start to pick up until we see Jack using his powers for the first time and future Jack coming back to warn his dad about Bliss’s Dragon attack – this all happened around the 20-30% – so it was a bit of a slow starter for me.

What I liked: The detailed Victorian-Steampunk-awesomeness! Aralias fight through time to save his son and as it turned out, the whole of time itself. Individually I liked all the characters and felt they all had their own purpose in the story.

What I Didn’t: I love romance in adventure stories, but I didn’t click with Clara and Aralias. I think the father-son-bond would have been more than enough to push this story along. I liked Clara and felt she was important to the story, but the romance between her and Aralias was awkward, unnecessary and frustrating. I think if she just grew to be their adventure loving friend the story would have flowed better.

I think the idea for this story is brilliant and I’m glad I read it. But sadly I wasn’t blown away. 3 I liked it stars.star.3

Aurthor Links: Goodreads | Twitter | Website | Amazon US | Amazon AU

In Search of Lost Dragons

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In Search of Lost Dragons by Elian Black’Mor and Carine M

Published 3rd Febuary 2015 by Diamond Book Distributors & Dynamite Entertainment

I received a copy to read and review through Net Galley, so thank you to the Authors and Publisher for allowing me this opportunity.

Synopsis mk3

On the trail of dragons forgotten, an intrepid illustrator and reporter journeys from Europe through the Middle East and finally to Saigon in search of the dark caverns and mountaintop perches where the elusive winged serpents dwell.

With the gift of seeing the invisible, our explorer friend records each encounter in a journal of gorgeous, fully painted artwork, capturing every majestic and fearsome visual detail of the scaly behemoths, and accompanies his findings with snippets of local lore as evidence that these hidden beasts continue to shape the world in ways we may never expect!

Gorgeous full-color paintings, accompanied by a unique story of world-wide exploration and dragon encounters!

My Thoughts mk3

The book is written as a sort of personal journal/scrapbook. I loved the collaboration of photos, paintings, sketches, newspaper articles, scribbled notes and cut out mementos. I really enjoyed reading little bits about the different dragons and their habitats. There is an underling plot of the explorer searching for Dragons, but the writing is minimal.

The pictures are absolutely divine. I would suggest reading this book as the Hardcover visual delight it was intended to be. As I was reading a reviewer eBook I had to keep zooming in to read the words, then zooming out to fully appreciate the illustrations – but I enjoyed it never the less.

I do think I will buy a hardcover copy, as it think this is a book my son would appreciate when he’s a bit older. Four Stars.

Four Stars

Goodreads