Review of ‘The Soulstealers’ by Jacqueline Rohrbach.

3.75 Stars. ‘The Soulstealers’ was a well written, YA fantasy book. I do have to admit that I didn’t love the story as much as I wanted to. However, I’m still rating this on the higher side because it’s a well done, quality, YA book.

In this world, magic comes at a steep price. When Druids come of age they steal and trap the soul of a person to leach magic off of. Arnaka is turning 16 and it is now time for her to get a soul familiar. The problem is the girl that must die to have her soul trapped by Arnaka is her best friend. Arnaka promises her friend that she will do everything in her power to stop any more people having to die for magic. Can Arnaka fight all that stands against her to keep her promise?

While this is a YA book, it is on the darker side. If librarians are considering this I would suggest it for older teens. One of my issues with the storyline is that I felt it was pretty depressing. There is friendship, hope, and even a teeny tiny baby f/f romance, so it’s not all doom and gloom, I just wish there were a bigger amount of lighter moments. I felt like this book weighed on me a bit.

The imagination of this book is very well done. While a floating city and palace above a ravaged land is not a new concept, the rest of the book felt pretty fresh. I have read a lot of mainstream and LGBTQ fantasy books so it’s always a pleasant surprise for a book to have really new ideas.

The characters are all pretty well done even the more secondary ones. It was a good cast of heroes and villains. As I mentioned before, there is a baby romance but nothing more than a couple of kisses. I wish there was time to develop the relationship between the characters more but with so much going on in the book, there just wasn’t.

This sort of leads me to one of my issues which is time. I wish there was more time for expanding on things in the book. I didn’t feel enough time was spent between Arnaka and her best friend to really cement their strong friendship connection. I wanted more time for the romance even if it was kept G-rated and I wanted more time at the end of the book, the ending was a tiny bit of a letdown.

This book has some great adventures, some good magic battles, and well thought out characters. The story itself felt refreshingly new. It did make me feel a little melancholy because it is on the sadder side. Overall I would still recommend this to YA fantasy fans.

NineStar Press really has some of the best covers. They impress me more and more every time I see a new book out.

An ARC was given to me for an honest review.

Review of ‘Raven, sand and sun’ by Nita Round.

4.25 Stars. This was another really entertaining book by Round. This is the second book in her ‘Touch of Truth’ Series. This series would best be described as steampunk-fantasy. While I did enjoy the first book a tad more, this was still a really good second offering and I’m totally hooked on this series. If you are interested, I highly recommend reading book 1, ‘Raven, Fire and Ice’ first. While each book is complete there is a main storyline that runs through all the books.

Lucinda, a powerful witch, Magda, an airship captain, and Ascara, an Amazon warrior, are all back again to try to defeat the Mistress of the Knight. This time they must travel the desert and fight her in her own territory. Can they stop her once and for all?

While I love the steampunk vibe and the setting of pyramids and the desert, what I really enjoyed about this book was the characters. After two books I have really grown to care about them. What was also great about this book was it answered a lot of questions about Magda and Ascara. Some of the mysteries of who they really are, are finally starting to unravel. We actually find out big secrets about both characters and it makes me really excited for what is to come in future books.

I do need to mention these books don’t have a romance. But, all three women are really connected and have feelings for each other. We don’t see a lot of poly relationships in lesfic, and I don’t know how far Round will take this, but I really like these three women together. They all balance each other perfectly and make a great and believable connection. I would love to see them make a romantic relationship work.

If you are a fantasy or steampunk fan, I would recommend these books. This series has plenty of entertainment and is fun to read. It’s also different, which I really appreciate. Round has a really good imagination and I can’t wait to see where this series goes next.

An ARC was given to me for a honest review.

Review of ‘The Priory of the Orange Tree’ by Samantha Shannon.

The hype surrounding this book is real. I started reading this book on Saturday morning and only stopped reading it to sleep. And while I devoured this book page after page, now that it if over I almost feel at a loss as to what to do next. I was so connected to the story and the characters that it feels a little crushing that it is over. While I raced to the end of the book, I now wish there was more story left to read. But that is what a really good book does to you so I have no complaints.

Make no mistake this is a wonderful, sweeping, epic fantasy book. If you are a fan of ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘Game of Thrones’, or ‘Dragonoak’, this book is for you. And like those books, this book could have easily been broken up into a trilogy but we are lucky Samantha Shannon let us have it all in one book. I have to give her props for that. How many times have we all had to wait, sometimes years for another installment in a trilogy to come out?! Not only that but it is financially better for an author to draw it out in multiple books. Instead Shannon let us have three years of her work all at once and I could not appreciate it more.

I do have to be honest that the book takes a little while to get used to in the beginning. There are a ton of character names, places and things that are newly invented for this book. It was a lot to learn and I found myself thinking, “I don’t know what that means, just keep reading.” And I did keep reading and all of the sudden everything clicks. I did not even notice when it happened but I suddenly knew all the characters and understood their world. And once that happened I became so wrapped into the story I didn’t even realize I was reading anymore. I was in this magical world going on a grand adventure.

There are four characters whose stories and point of view you follow: Ead, who is a Mage and Lady in Waiting for The Queen. Tane, a young woman who has trained her whole life in hopes of becoming a dragon rider. And two men named Loth and Niclays. While I love epic fantasy, the reason I picked this book up was the promise of LGBTQ characters. And while I don’t want to give anything away, I will say that yes, thankfully there was a lesfic romance in this book. Actually, the main romance in this book is lesfic. While there is talk of some het characters in love and a gay male couple, the main romance was between two strong, kick-ass women in love.

One thing I really noticed while reading this book is how amazing Shannon’s imagination must be. I would read passages and think how could someone actually come up with this in their mind? The whole book was really impressive. It’s going to be hard for me to read a new book. This is the kind of book that will stay with me for quite a long time. One of my first full 5 stars reads of 2019. If you are an epic fantasy fan, don’t pass this book up!