Reviews

Review: Scarlet Odyssey by C.T. Rwizi

Book Review

Scarlet Odyssey by C.T. Rwizi
(Scarlet Odyssey #1)
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: 47North
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Synopsis
Magic is women’s work; war is men’s. But in the coming battle, none of that will matter.

Men do not become mystics. They become warriors. But eighteen-year-old Salo has never been good at conforming to his tribe’s expectations. For as long as he can remember, he has loved books and magic in a culture where such things are considered unmanly. Despite it being sacrilege, Salo has worked on a magical device in secret that will awaken his latent magical powers. And when his village is attacked by a cruel enchantress, Salo knows that it is time to take action.

Salo’s queen is surprisingly accepting of his desire to be a mystic, but she will not allow him to stay in the tribe. Instead, she sends Salo on a quest. The quest will take him thousands of miles north to the Jungle City, the political heart of the continent. There he must gather information on a growing threat to his tribe.

On the way to the city, he is joined by three fellow outcasts: a shunned female warrior, a mysterious nomad, and a deadly assassin. But they’re being hunted by the same enchantress who attacked Salo’s village. She may hold the key to Salo’s awakening—and his redemption. 

What I thought
I was sent a copy of this book from Megan Beatie Communications and 47North for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This is a character-driven fantasy novel which is my favorite to read, and it’s inspired by another culture so when I was asked if I was interested in reading it I jumped at the chance and I was not disappointed. It is really hard to believe that this is a debut novel. 

This book has multiple perspectives however this story keeps moving in one direction.  I love it when I can follow a story and not have to jump around and keep track of everyone.  

From the first chapter, I was pulled into this world.  This story takes place in an African inspired fantasy world. You follow multiple perspectives throughout the story but the heart of the story focuses on Salo. In Salo’s world, Men become warriors and Women become Mystics.  But Salo doesn’t quite fit into that framework. Through events, Salo becomes a Mystic and in consequence, is sent on a journey for his Queen. 

In this journey, Salo picks up two companions that also do not fit into where society wants to place them, which added to my enjoyment of the story. 

I can’t wait to see all of these perspectives come together in the next book.  

If you enjoy character-driven fantasy novels you really should pick this one up.

Also, If you have read this book and want to talk about it please let me know.  There was so much I wanted to say but I didn’t want to spoil anyone.

My Rating: /5

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Blog Tour: Deadly Curious by Cindy Anstey

Deadly Curious by Cindy Anstey
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: June 23rd 2020
Genres: Historical Romance, Young Adult

A twisty tale reminiscent of Jane Austen—with a dash of murder—Cindy Anstey’s Deadly Curious is perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco and Agatha Christie.

Some secrets are better left buried…

1834. Sophia Thompson wants nothing more than to be one of the famed Bow Street Runners, London’s most elite corps of detectives. Never mind that a woman has never before joined their ranks—and certainly never mind that her reclusive family has forbidden her from pursuing such an unladylike goal.

She gets the chance to prove her capabilities when an urgent letter arrives from her frantic cousin Daphne, begging Sophia to come look into the suspicious death of Daphne’s brother.

As Sophia begins to unravel the tangled threads of the case—with the help of a charming young policeman—she soon realizes that the murderer may be even closer to her family than she ever suspected.

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Review


I was gifted a copy of this book as part of the Xpresso Reads Blog Tour. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

At this point, I have read all but one of Cindy Anstey’s books (a Christmas one) and I have enjoyed them all. This story takes place in Regency/Georgian England and is a young adult mystery/romance. I love books based in this time period I think they have become some of my favorite to read. They are quick reads and I enjoy them very much.

Since this is a young adult book I guessed the bad guy fairly early in the story but the ride made the book worth it. Sophia is a very intelligent, strongwilled, and opinionated person, which for this time period is not kind to women. This is what makes characters like Sophia my favorite she does her thing no matter what society thinks. In walks Jeremy a Bow Street Runner to investigate the murder of Sophia’s cousin. Jeremy sees value in how Sophia looks at things especially since it is different than the way he does. This makes them a great team.

The interactions between Jeremy and Sophia were very cute. Everyone saw it coming but them 🙂

There is a scene that I loved with Sophia’s dad. Even though her wanting to be Bow Street Runner is not seemly for a Lady of her standing or any job for that matter. He is supportive. If you have read the story its the one in the hallway.

If you enjoy young adult mystery romances than I think you should give this one a try.

Author Bio


Whenever she is not sitting at the computer, throwing a ball in the backyard, gardening or reading, Cindy can be found–actually, not found–adventuring around the world with her hubby.

She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.

Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester.

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Reviews

Review: Jo & Laurie by Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz

Book Review

Jo & Laurie
by Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz
Young Adult, Retelling, Romance
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Synopsis
1869, Concord, Massachusetts: After the publication of her first novel, Jo March is shocked to discover her book of scribbles has become a bestseller, and her publisher and fans demand a sequel. While pressured into coming up with a story, she goes to New York with her dear friend Laurie for a week of inspiration—museums, operas, and even a once-in-a-lifetime reading by Charles Dickens himself!

But Laurie has romance on his mind, and despite her growing feelings, Jo’s desire to remain independent leads her to turn down his heartfelt marriage proposal and sends the poor boy off to college heartbroken. When Laurie returns to Concord with a sophisticated new girlfriend, will Jo finally communicate her true heart’s desire or lose the love of her life forever?

What I thought
I was sent a copy of this book from Megan Beatie Communications through Net Galley for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I feel the need to state that this review is coming from someone that has not read Little Women nor have I watched the movie. I feel this is important to point out because I think that if you have read Little Women or even watched the movie you would already have some connection with these characters from the beginning.

I am a fan of Melissa de la Cruz’s books and this one did not disappoint.

This story takes place between the publication of Little Women and Good Wives. This book is first and foremost a love story between Joe and Laurie. But another bonus is that this book shows how a whole everyone in a family can deal with grief differently. I do not think this was meant to be a main plot point but I think it was displayed well.

This book took me about 100 pages to really get into it but I really think its because I did not know the original story.
I loved watching Joe and Laurie’s relationship. Everyone in the story knew that those two were meant to be together except Joe. She had a lot to work through to discover that she is allowed to be happy too. I liked the portrayal of grief and depression in this story and seeing how it was worked through. I felt so many feelings while reading this book that I did not expect to feel.

I recommend this book to anyone that thinks that the story sounds interesting. Just note if you have not read Little Women it will take a little bit to connect with these characters.

My Rating: /5

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New Releases

New Author Spotlight: C. T. Rwizi

C. T. Rwizi was born in Zimbabwe, grew up in Swaziland, finished high school in Costa Rica and got a BA in government at Dartmouth College in the United States. He currently lives in South Africa with his family, and enjoys playing video games, taking long runs and spending way too much time lurking on Reddit. He is a self-professed lover of synthwave. Scarlet Odyssey is his debut novel. 

Follow him on Twitter: @c.t.rwizi

Why I Wrote SCARLETT ODYSSEY by C.T. Rwizi

I’ve always enjoyed reading books in the genre, and I’d find myself dreaming up my own stories in my free time, wishing I had an outlet to bring them out of my head.  For the longest time it never occurred to me that I could simply write these stories on paper and attempt to publish them like every other writer.

I didn’t even think being a writer was an option for me.  Writing isn’t a profession many people pursue where I live—I’d say the same is true for many African societies—and I carried that same mentality with me.  I knew several doctors and engineers and managers, but I knew no one who’d written fiction, let alone fantasy or science fiction, and gotten published.

It wasn’t until I’d graduated college and I was back in South Africa, sitting at home after a day at work, that I—for some reason I can’t explain or remember—settled in front of a computer screen and started writing.  The first story I wrote wasn’t Scarlet Odyssey.  It was a fantasy starring a white-ish guy in a pseudo-medieval European-ish setting.  It wasn’t very good, and I wasn’t enamored of it, but I wrote it because I believed it was what fantasy was supposed to look like and what readers wanted to read.  There was a formula, and I was trying to fit my story and characters into it.

Then I saw her.  She was a bride dressed in traditional Xhosa attire on the TV screen at my uncle’s house where I was visiting.  Every Sunday, my uncle’s wife watches this wedding program that features weddings from all over South Africa.  There are usually two ceremonies—one with the suits and the white dress and the priest, and a more traditional African affair the next day.  I saw her just as she stepped out of a car on her second day to the sound of music and cheers, and I remember thinking: wow, I wish I could write a story with her as a character.

And I remember thinking: But who said I can’t?

I immediately reached for my journal and wrote down a description of her, how she made me feel, how stunning she looked in her attire, how proud of her heritage she was—she and everyone around her—and rightly so.  I later used that description for the Yerezi queen when she makes her first appearance in my novel.

That was the initial spark, the inspiration that unshackled me from the formula, unleashed my creativity and led me to the story of Scarlet Odyssey

Scarlet Odyssey by C.T. Rwizi
(Scarlet Odyssey #1) 
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: 47North
Expected Publication: July 1, 2020
Add to Goodreads

Magic is women’s work; war is men’s. But in the coming battle, none of that will matter.

Men do not become mystics. They become warriors. But eighteen-year-old Salo has never been good at conforming to his tribe’s expectations. For as long as he can remember, he has loved books and magic in a culture where such things are considered unmanly. Despite it being sacrilege, Salo has worked on a magical device in secret that will awaken his latent magical powers. And when his village is attacked by a cruel enchantress, Salo knows that it is time to take action.

Salo’s queen is surprisingly accepting of his desire to be a mystic, but she will not allow him to stay in the tribe. Instead, she sends Salo on a quest. The quest will take him thousands of miles north to the Jungle City, the political heart of the continent. There he must gather information on a growing threat to his tribe.

On the way to the city, he is joined by three fellow outcasts: a shunned female warrior, a mysterious nomad, and a deadly assassin. But they’re being hunted by the same enchantress who attacked Salo’s village. She may hold the key to Salo’s awakening—and his redemption. 

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New Releases

Waiting On Wednesday: Scarlet Odyssey by C.T. Rwizi

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday was a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. Each Wednesday you got to highlight a book that you were really looking forward to. Unfortunately, the original creator is no longer able to host the meme and it has now linked up with Can’t Wait Wednesday over at Wishful Endings.

This week I’ve chosen:

Scarlet Odyssey by C.T. Rwizi
(Scarlet Odyssey #1) 
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: 47North
Expected Publication: July 1, 2020
Add to Goodreads

Magic is women’s work; war is men’s. But in the coming battle, none of that will matter.

Men do not become mystics. They become warriors. But eighteen-year-old Salo has never been good at conforming to his tribe’s expectations. For as long as he can remember, he has loved books and magic in a culture where such things are considered unmanly. Despite it being sacrilege, Salo has worked on a magical device in secret that will awaken his latent magical powers. And when his village is attacked by a cruel enchantress, Salo knows that it is time to take action.

Salo’s queen is surprisingly accepting of his desire to be a mystic, but she will not allow him to stay in the tribe. Instead, she sends Salo on a quest. The quest will take him thousands of miles north to the Jungle City, the political heart of the continent. There he must gather information on a growing threat to his tribe.

On the way to the city, he is joined by three fellow outcasts: a shunned female warrior, a mysterious nomad, and a deadly assassin. But they’re being hunted by the same enchantress who attacked Salo’s village. She may hold the key to Salo’s awakening—and his redemption. 

About the Author

Debut author C. T. Rwizi was born in Zimbabwe, grew up in Swaziland, finished high school in Costa Rica, and got a BA in government at Dartmouth College in the United States. He currently lives in South Africa with his family, and enjoys playing video games, taking long runs, and spending way too much time lurking on Reddit. He is a self-professed lover of synthwave.

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New Releases

Blog Tour: Between Love and Murder by Chris Bedell @ChrisBedell @RRBookTours1 @btwnthelinespub #LGBTQ+ #YABooks #Thriller #YoungAdult #Books

Love, betrayal, and murder. The perfect trifecta for a great thriller!

Welcome to the blog tour for Between Love and Murder by Chris Bedell! Read on for an excerpt from the book and a chance to win a digital copy!

Between Love and Murder by Chris Bedell
Publication Date: April 21, 2020
Genre: YA Thriller/ LGBTQ+
Publisher: Willow River Press
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September 2018. 17-year-old Chad becomes intrigued by the new kid—Archie—when they flirt during their first interaction. But Chad’s best friend, Mallory, asks Archie out first. Pursuing Archie allows Mallory to get revenge against Chad who recently rejected her. Except Chad refuses to lose Archie to Mallory. Not when he might have a real chance at love—Archie identifies as bisexual like Chad. Although if Chad wants Archie, then he must eliminate Mallory as the competition. Even if doing so means proving she was involved in the disappearance of her ex-boyfriend, Tommy.

Three months later—December 2018. Tommy resurfaces, and Mallory accidently kills him while Archie and Chad are witnesses. Mallory, Archie, and Chad can’t go to the police, though. Mallory blackmailed Tommy to leave town last Fourth of July with a sex-tape after discovering Tommy cheating on her. And Archie, Chad, and Mallory must unite if they don’t wanna go down for murder. Except Chad is even more threatened of Mallory now that he and Archie are dating—Chad remains uncertain if Mallory harbors lingering resentment for rejecting her. If Chad wants Mallory gone, then he must continue making difficult choices. Even if destroying Mallory means Chad pretending to be Mallory’s friend while finding a way to implicate Mallory in Tommy’s death without him and Archie getting in trouble.

If you like the nonlinear storytelling of ABC’s HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER and the toxic love triangle of WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT, then BETWEEN LOVE AND MURDER is the book for you.

BEFORE

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2018

Expecting complete honesty was pointless.

Like with Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, or when a friend got a questionable haircut. Both the kid and friend could discover the truth without anyone playing the villain. Or like right now while I stood next to my locker in the school hallway. My best friend, Mallory, couldn’t have said what she had. Yet I didn’t have an ear wax problem, so the chances of her comment being misheard were slimmer than time travel happening.

I blinked. “Come again?”

She tugged at her backpack strap. “I’m sorry, Chad; I’m not trying to be awkward. I just couldn’t lie anymore.”

“Don’t apologize for your feelings.”

Telling her not to feel bad shouldn’t have been the best response I came up with. Doing so only prolonged the inevitable: deciding about whether honesty or a fib was best. However, there was no right reaction to finding out Mallory had a crush on me. Some events—such as her revelation—couldn’t be anticipated no matter how many A’s I earned in school.

Mallory bit her lip. “We’ve been spending a lot of time together since July.”

I chuckled. “We’ve always been close.”

“Not since I started dating Tommy.”

I scratched the side of my head. “What’d you expect to happen?”

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My previous publishing credits include Thought Catalog, Entropy Magazine, Chicago Literati, and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, among others. My debut YA Fantasy novel IN THE NAME OF MAGIC was published by NineStar Press in 2018.

My 2019 novels include NA Thriller BURNING BRIDGES (BLKDOG Publishing), YA Paranormal Romance DEATHLY DESIRES (DEEP HEARTS YA), and YA Thriller COUSIN DEAREST (BLKDOG Publishing). My 2020 novels include my YA Thriller I KNOW WHERE THE BODIES ARE BURIED (BLKDOG Publishing), YA Contemporary I’LL SEE YOU AGAIN (Deep Hearts YA),  YA Thriller BETWEEN LOVE AND MURDER (Between The Lines Publishing), YA Sci-fi DYING BEFORE LIVING (Deep Hearts YA), and YA Thriller LOVE HIM/HATE HIM (Between The Lines Publishing). I also graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2016.

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Book Blitz: Steel Hand, Cold Heart by Rachel Menard @MissusM @RRBookTours1 #Goodreads #RRBookTours #Fantasy

I’m so excited to announce an amazing giveaway event in honor of Steel Hand, Cold Heart by Rachel Menard! Read on for book details, an excerpt and a link to the event!

Steel Hand, Cold Heart by Rachel Menard
Genre: YA Fantasy/ Adventure/ Vikings
Publication Date: July 2019
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On the island of Helvar, women rule. Sixteen-year-old Carina has trained for most of her life to belong to the coveted Daughters of Hel, the steel-handed Viking warriors who provide souls to the Death Goddess in exchange for the prosperity of their island. Gaining her place hasn’t been easy. She was not borne of the island, but another spoil from another raid, raised by the island Chieftain. There are many who would see her fail, and on her first raid, she does. She doesn’t kill a priestess she should have.

Carina needs to prove her worth or risk losing her place. Before she can, her arch-nemesis drugs her wine and sends her off the isle as a captive of three foreign boys. But what is Carina’s greatest misfortune may turn out to be her greatest gift. The young men are taking her to the jewel of the Southern Isles – Fortis Venitis, a place no other Daughter of Hel can venture. Carina can place Hel’s claims on the Southern isle and return to Helvar with the spoils, a victor.

However there are many obstacles to pass before she reaches her goal. Like her rune stone that everyone keeps trying to steal, the mismatched pirates from a country that no longer exists, and the priest with his poison that melts flesh from bones. But the most dangerous obstacle of all are the odd feelings she’s developing for her victims, especially the knife-thieving captain Nik. That could make it difficult for her to kill him in the end.

Chapter 1

They called me Carina the Unstoppable. No, the name did not render men to terror like Merciless Merle, nor did it inspire awe like Dagna the Destroyer, or command attention like Odda Ironfist. But the moniker was mine. I earned it for the many times I had been knocked flat on the training grounds or limped on bleeding limbs to finish a fight. It was how I earned my place as one of Hel’s Daughters, the Hand of Death Herself.

I leaned over the rails of our longboat, Jörmungandr, aptly named because the figurehead was carved in the image of the giant sea serpent, wriggling its way through the water east toward Frisia. A strong wind held our mainsail, and we bobbed back and forth on gentle waves. These smooth waters were a blessing from the sea giant, Aegir. He approved of our quest, speeding us along our last raid of the season, the last offering to Hel before the long winter.

This was the Daughters’ last raid of the season but my first. I could hardly contain my excitement. I wanted to be there already, to see the villagers’ faces when we arrived on their shore in droves. When we offered their blood to the Goddess Hel.

I curled my steel fingers into a fist. On the eve of my initiation, Thora warned me attaching my steel hand would hurt. Her exact words were, “It feels like cutting your fingers off one by one and pissing in the wound.” Vidar warmed the steel gauntlet in the coals until it glowed sunset red, and I grit my teeth as he slid the molten metal over my fingers. The steel hand burned through flesh and muscle until the metal touched bone. My eyes had watered. A violent scream had gathered in my chest.

I held it back. I didn’t have the luxury of showing weakness, and once the hand was seared to my fingers, I belonged to Hel. She who bears the steel hand has the Goddess’s blessing to take life. That was three months ago. It took that long for my hand to heal, to become useful again.

Goodreads Giveaway

Set sail for adventure, romance and cross-dressing on an epic Viking-inspired journey!

Enter for a chance to win 1 of 50 digital Kindle copes of STEEL HAND, COLD HEART, Grand Prize Winner of the 7th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published E-Book Awards! Winners will be selected at random, and their prize will be sent directly to their Kindle device. Giveaway is open from May 15, 2020 through June 14, 2020.

Rachel Menard earned her degree in marketing from ASU, during which time her work was featured in the university paper and her own, self-published punk zine, Chelsea. Her short fiction has been featured in the New England Speculative Writers’ Anthology, The Final Summons and on Cast of Wonders. Most recently, her self-published YA fantasy novel won the Grand Prize in the 7th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published E-Book awards. For more of her writings and ramblings, visit www.rachelmenard.com.

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