Book Review: The Butterfly Crest by Eva Vanrell

Title: The Butterfly Crest (The Protogenoi Series #1)
Author: Eva Vanrell
Genre: Fantasy & Magic
Amazon rating: 4.3 stars

The Butterfly CrestBetween the shadows of the human world, a war as old as time is being fought. Ageless pantheons scheme to obtain or keep control, provoked by the weight of human belief which has altered the realm of the divine.

An ancient prophecy speaks of a human woman who will alter the course of this divine war, a descendant of a Great House mired in misfortune and blood, whose history was shaped by the cruelty of the gods.

On a day as unremarkable as any other, Elena Vicens, a young woman living a seemingly ordinary life, receives a letter about a deposit box belonging to her mother, nineteen years after her mother’s death. When this letter sends her on a journey halfway across the world from New Orleans to Japan, Elena unknowingly comes into possession of a cursed inheritance. She is suddenly thrust into a world of myths and legends, where the intangible and the strange are the fabric of everyday life, and deathless gods vie for victory at any cost.

As allies converge to help Elena fulfill the prophecy, one of whom is struggling with his own inheritance, Elena must choose for herself the measure of her own destiny.

Reviewed by: Katheryn J. Avila

The Review:

The Butterfly Crest is a great read. Beautifully written with exquisite imagery and attention to detail, it sucks you right in until the very end, immersing you into a world both familiar and strange. I’ll admit, I had some trouble with it at first, but that’s just personal preference for brevity. The author’s description of the scenery and creatures really puts you right into the scene with Elena, and that’s not a quality many authors have. A few times she ran the risk of over-description (if that’s a thing), but she always balanced the scenery with witty banter or internal dialogue. I can’t get enough of Elena’s conversations with the strange beings around her – most of all the antagonistically friendly gods that help her (I’m looking at you, Galen and Bryce) – and all the dialog really does come across as natural, going a long way in the character development department for me.

Elena is a great protagonist: well-developed, strong, and yet vulnerable and capable of asking for help. Eiry is the perfect leading man: caring, protective, but willing to concede to Elena and not falling to the “Edward Cullen” type of male character. Not only are the two main characters very well-written and developed, but the entire supporting cast – from the most minor demon to the larger gods – were well-researched, developed, and given personalities. Eva Vanrell does an incredible job of juggling a large number of characters without letting any of them feel flat. A few examples: Bryce, Galen, and Gavin. Without risking spoilers, they’re on the peripheral for most of the story, not extremely central characters, and yet their personalities come through in every gesture, every word, so that, while not as expounded upon as the two main characters, they feel just as real. The same can be said for any of the other minor characters. From their descriptions to their dialogue – they are supremely vivid and alive.

Just like the characters, the plot was complex, intricate, and compelling. The deeper the author drew me into the story and the world around Elena, the more questions popped into my head, mirroring Elena’s own thought process and experience as she did her best to navigate what was now her life. The mythology behind Elena’s situation is creative and inventive – completely inspired! Every twist and turn, while unexpected, made complete sense, and as the story went on, everything fell in place like puzzle pieces. It’s such a great story, I really cannot wait until the sequel! And, although I already own a digital copy, I might be investing in a paperback – just because I can.

Conclusion: I highly recommend this book to anyone who’s into any kind of mythology. It’s an epic fantasy that reads and feels like a mix between the epic poems of old (Iliad, Odyssey) and some current globe-trotter novels (The Da Vinci Code). I can’t wait to see what’s in store next for Elena!

Beautifully written with exquisite imagery! #amreading #bookreview @katheryn_avila #ourwriteside Click To Tweet

Book Review: Maidens & Magic Anthology

Title: Maidens & Magic
Publisher: Crimson Edge Press
Genre: Fantasy & Magic
Amazon rating: n/a

Maidens & MagicCrimson Edge Press celebrates the fortitude of heroines in fantasy with their first anthology, Maidens & Magic. An assembly of five original stories, this selection promises to satisfy young adult and adult readers who love dark and dangerous tales. From magical slippers to forbidden books, fantastical realms to apocalyptic worlds, these shorts guarantee to entertain, rouse, astound, and resonate long after the last page has been turned.

The Beaded Slippers: Karen Bovenmyer

Book of Flame: E.C. Jarvis

Death and the Maiden: Sylvia Kelso

It All Began: G.H. Guldensupp

Dead Queen: Jonathan Shipley

Reviewed by: Marissa Sladek

The Review:

Maidens & Magic Anthology edited by Allison Reker is a complete set of short stories of girl power.

Starting with The Beaded Slippers by Karen Bovenmyer, where Sasha learns the true meaning behind her beautifully adorned beaded slippers. As she learns more about the slippers, she learns more about herself. I was drawn in immediately with the wonderful imagery and story line. I wanted to learn more about the power of the slippers and the backstory of Sasha.  I wished the story would have continued rather than end on a cliffhanger as it did, however.

The Book of Flame by E.C. Jarvis transports me to a fantasy land with two friends, Lexa and Dot in search of iron. On their quest, Lexa discovers a secret book that seems to awaken a magic within her. As she and Dot race back to the mysterious cave where they found the book, strange things seem to be happening all around Lexa. She seems to be drawn to fire and they find themselves being followed by a cloaked figure. I wish I could have learned more about Lexa’s adventures.

Death and the Maiden by Sylvia Kelso is a coming of age, of sorts, short story of Moriana. Her family seeks to steal the throne from her and she uses her powers to stop them from doing so. By gaining confidence, she gains control and takes back what is rightfully hers. This was a great story and I truly wish that it would have been expanded to a full novel.

It All Began by G.H. Guldensup is the perfect short story for someone who loves a good sci-fi thriller. Jennifer finds out her roommate is more than he seems and after she learns about his true identity, she learns to empower herself and take back control of her life. The story was the perfect length. I would have liked another story about Paul.

Dead Queen by Jonathan Shipley was a bit harder to follow. It highlights a group homestead survivalists. Libby learned about the supernatural and magic. As those involved used tarot cards, they learned more about their roles in the group and how to harness their powers.

Overall, this was a great group of short stories that harness girl power. I would read it again.

Stories that harness girl power. #amreading #bookreview @tiredmommyof4 #ourwriteside Click To Tweet

Book Review: The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson

Title: The Secret of Platform 13
Author: Eva Ibbotson
Genre: Fantasy & Magic
Amazon rating: 4.3 stars

Secret of Platform 13A forgotten door on an abandoned railway platform is the entrance to a magical kingdom–an island where humans live happily with feys, mermaids, ogres, and other wonderful creatures. Carefully hidden from the world, the Island is only accessible when the door opens for nine days every nine years. A lot can go wrong in nine days. When the beastly Mrs. Trottle kidnaps the prince of the Island, it’s up to a strange band of rescuers to save him. But can an ogre, a hag, a wizard, and a fey really troop around London unnoticed?

Reviewed by: Stephanie Ayers

The Review:

I fell in love with this story from the very first paragraph. The writing is clever, witty, and smooth. Ms. Ibbotson has a way with words that plants little pictures in your head. The characters come to life with vivid descriptions. The story clips along at the perfect pace. The action remains steady while she skillfully weaves back story in. My only complaint is that the ending feels rushed. The very last chapter is an excellent and different way of closing out a book. I enjoyed this very much despite it being a YA story.

Excellent and different. #amreading #bookreview @theauthorSAM #ourwriteside Click To Tweet

Book Review: Service Goat by Piers Anthony

Title: Service Goat
Author: Piers Anthony
Genre: Sci-Fi
Amazon rating: 3.7 stars

Service GoatOrphaned and blind seven-year-old Callie has a service animal – a goat with extraordinary powers.
Ben Hemoth is a down-on-his luck news reporter facing prison. Needing to save his job and his reputation, he teams up with Venus, a young seductress caught up with a teenage drug gang.

When a mysterious letter arrives detailing a top-secret investigative operation, Ben and Venus think they’ve found their chance for redemption. The mission? Investigate a goat.

In exchange for an extravagant paycheck, Ben and Venus must piece together the wild rumors swirling around Callie, her supernatural goat, and a possible UFO visit.

Piers Anthony’s Service Goat is an extraordinary tale rich with adventure, extraterrestrial visitors, secrecy, dangerous governmental operations, and the classic hints of mischief that readers have come to expect and love from the New York Times bestselling author of the Xanth series.

Reviewed by: David Wiley

The Review:

This is a hard book to review. I read and enjoyed a decent number of his Xanth novels in my younger years, which was the reason why I agreed to read this book. Anthony’s humor and style are definitely on display in this novella, starting with the idea of using a goat as a service animal. There are some very compelling reasons to read this story, in spite of its few flaws.

Alien invasion stories are no longer the hip thing to write about, which is what makes this entry a refreshing tale. It is no longer being oversaturated by anyone and everyone, which makes it an enjoyable plot to explore once again. In this case the invaders are aliens that look like goats, and this is nothing more than an initial scouting party looking to find a planet where they could live in relative peace and harmony. This goat, Nanny, is the first to land and finds Callie, a young girl who just lost her parent and her eyes in a car crash. Touching the goat helps her to forget the pain, as well as allows her to see through the goat’s eyes. What ensues is a large conspiracy where those who interact with the goat are brought in on the goat’s side and, in all cases, become part of a conspiracy of silence.

On the other side is detective Ben Hemoth and his girlfriend, Venus. I’ll admit, it got to the point where I rolled my eyes every time it mentioned they had sex. Because that gets mentioned about half a dozen times in every chapter from Ben’s POV. It never bothered me, per se, but it got to the point where I just got fatigued from reading that kind of like how I got tired of hearing about Nynaeve tugging her braid during the Wheel of Time series. I get having character quirks, but there are times when they can be taken to the point where they are overused, like this one.

Overall, though, it was a fun and short read. It may not have been quite as good if this had been turned into a longer work. The length fit it well for what this was, and I am grateful I had the chance to read this one. If you like a little humor mixed into your Science Fiction and you are looking for a book you could potentially read in a day, this is definitely one that would be a nice match for you.

A fun and short read. #amreading #bookreview @AuthorDWiley #ourwriteside Click To Tweet
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