Category: Dark Fantasy

A #SpooktasticReads audiobook review | “Jorvik Calling” (Soul Riders: Book One) by Helena Dahlgren, narrated by Jennifer Jill Araya; courtesy of #NetGalley

Posted Monday, 19 October, 2020 by jorielov , , , , , , 0 Comments

#SpooktasticReads Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: Earlier this year, in late Winter (February) I joined NetGalley for the first time as they finally announced they were going to be offering full-length audiobooks for reviewers. I was never able to join NetGalley due to having chronic migraines and being unable to read ebooks. I started requesting audiobooks to review as soon as they opened their audiobook catalogue in July, 2020. I am an eclectic reader and thereby, you will see all genres in Fiction explored from both markets of interest: mainstream and INSPY as well as from Major Trade, Indie Publishers & Press and other routes of publication, too. There might be the occasional Non-Fiction title appearing in my NetGalley queue of reviews as well. This marks a new adventure for me seeking stories for review consideration and I look forward to seeing where the stories lead me to venture.

I received a complimentary digital and temporary audiobook copy of “Soul Riders” direct from the publisher Andrews McMeel Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All audiobooks via NetGalley are able to be heard via the NetGalley Shelf which is why I was thankful to be gifted an android tablet by my parents to celebrate my 7th Blog Birthday on Jorie Loves A Story. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

NOTE: As a new reviewer on NetGalley, I’m sorting out how to get the Press Materials for each of the audiobooks I’m reviewing when I share them on my blog Jorie Loves A Story. When I contacted NetGalley Support they informed me that if a separate Press Kit is not included on the audiobook’s book page we’re allowed as reviewers to use the book cover and synopsis provided when we go to share our review of that audiobook on our blogs; as long as we give attribution as I have done at the bottom of this review in “Sources”. Those materials are provided with permission of the publishers to be used by reviewers via NetGalley.

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Why I wanted to read &/or listen to “Soul Riders”:

I was attracted to a few elements about this story when I first found it on NetGalley – the horses, the sisterhood friendships of the girls’ and the fact this is all set in a fantastical world. I originally thought this was a story that was ‘set elsewhere’ without any tangible connection to our own living reality however as I shifted into the audiobook itself, I realised this is an Urban Fantasy wherein there are elements of modern life (our world) within the sphere of the series but there are elements of the fantastical in the background running concurrent to the girls’ school and life experiences.

I have a personal attachment to horse dramas & Westerns – whenever I can find one or the other which suits my interests, I love to soak inside the stories! Having had a close connection to horses when I was a child I believe plays a strong part in why I continue to seek out stories which features horses and/or the world of horses – from Contemporary &/or Historical Westerns to Contemporary Western Romances or Cowboy Romances (such as my Harlequin Heartwarming readings).

Finding a story set in a blended Middle Grade & Young Adult world for Fantasy which brings into focus my love of horses with the added advantage of hidden talents and special gifts given to the girls who ride star horses – honestly, what could be a better bookish find!?

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A #SpooktasticReads audiobook review | “Jorvik Calling” (Soul Riders: Book One) by Helena Dahlgren, narrated by Jennifer Jill Araya; courtesy of #NetGalleyJorvik Calling
Subtitle: Soul Riders (series), Video Game Tie-In (Star Stable)
by Helena Dahlgren
Source: Audiobook Direct from Publisher via NetGalley

Step into the universe of the massively popular adventure game Star Stable, and follow four friends who discover their magic powers and learn that every girl can be a hero in this fantasy trilogy.

Soul Riders tells the heroic tale of four young girls who have been chosen by destiny to save the world from the ancient demon: Garnok and his band of dangerous Dark Riders. Lisa is a teenage girl who is still coming to terms with the tragic loss of her mother in a riding accident and has sworn never to go near a horse again until she met Starshine, a mysterious blue-maned steed who comes to her in dreams. New on the island of Jorvik, Lisa befriends Alex, Linda, and Anne. Under the guidance of mystical druids, they discover they each have a special bond to their horses that gives them magical powers. While trying to balance school, family, and friendships they have to figure out what it means to be a Soul Rider. They are attacked by the Dark Riders and the mysterious Mr. Sands discover that their horses are in danger. Instead of relying on their combined strength, they decide to split up on their quest to find answers and learn to fight back against their enemies. However, will it be too late before they realize their mistake?

Jorvik Calling is the first installment in the epic, fantasy trilogy, Soul Riders, about magic, friendship, and horses bound to thrill all young equestrian fans.

Genres: Dark Fantasy, Equestrian Fiction, Horse Drama, Upper YA Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Video Game Tie-In Series, YA Fantasy, YA Paranormal Suspense, YA Urban Fantasy


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781524855338

ASIN: B087D8F3SW

Published by Andrews McMeel Audio, Andrews McMeel Publishing

Format: Audiobook | Digital Review Copy (NetGalley)

Length: 5 hours and 40 minutes (unabridged)

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Published By: Andrews McMeel Audio
an imprint of Andrews McMeel Publishing (@AndrewsMcMeel)

NOTE: When I first started listening to this title I thought for sure it would be considered Middle Grade Fantasy – however, as it progressed forward, I started to see it leans into YA Fantasy. It might be on the fence of merging Upper YA into Adult Fantasy within an Urban Fantasy world-building and setting. Ergo, if your considering this for younger readers rather than adult, know that this has the innocence of a Middle Grade Fantasy intermixed with the darker villains of an Upper YA/Adult Fantasy wherein if you are seeking lighter readers for Middle Grade readers I would advise against this one.

Converse via: #UrbanFantasy as well as #DarkFantasy and Upper #YAFantasy
+ #SoulRiders, #audiobook or #audioreads as well as #JorikRising and #StarStable

Available Formats: Trade paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Monday, 19 October, 2020 by jorielov in Book Review (non-blog tour), Bullies and the Bullied, Childhood Friendship, Coming-Of Age, Dark Arts (Dark Magic), Dark Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, Folklore, Folklore and Mythology, NetGalley, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Teenage Relationships & Friendships, Upper YA Fiction, Urban Fantasy, YA Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

#EnterTheFantastic | Enter the realms of “The Gifted and the Cursed” – through the first novel “Kings and Daemons” by Marcus Lee

Posted Saturday, 15 August, 2020 by jorielov , , , 1 Comment

#EnterTheFantastic Book Review banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: During my 3rd Year of co-hosting @WyrdAndWonder, I was able to participate on my first blog tour with Storytellers on Tour which was featuring the author Brianna Sugalski on her “Disenchanted” blog tour. What I appreciated about Storytellers on Tour is their dedication to Indie Authors of Speculative Literature and their ability to find authors who are telling stories in Fantasy which intrigue me to read. Fantasy has been a challenging genre for me to explore even a bit moreso than Science Fiction – which is why I feel blessed to be on their blogger team. Whilst some of their tours I might seek out a book to consider for review, I also actively enjoy hosting creative content using book photography and/or featuring their authors in conversation (ie. interviews) or giving them the breadth of joy to write a guest post based on a topic of my choosing. Overall, Storytellers on Tour are dedicated to creating community and for championing those of us who are choosing to share our readerly lives each day we bring content to our book blogs. 

I received a complimentary copy of “Kings and Daemons” direct from the author Marcus Lee in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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What drew my eye into this Fantasy series:

I am constantly intrigued and surprised by where my fantastical wanderings take me,.. as generally speaking it is quite rare I will feel motivated to read a darker Fantasy novel but there are exceptions to this rule as I am sure other readers have exceptions to their bookish wanderings as well. Likewise, a new subniche of Fantasy I have discovered over the recent year is *Fantasy Romance!* courtesy of reading my first story by H.L. Burke!

For a reader whose grown passionate about reading Romance – from Contemporary to Historical to Suspense – it is a wonderment to me how I somehow have *missed!* this other niche inside a genre I have loved reading since I was seventeen! The premise round “Kings and Daemons” is what first allured me into the novel – how a complete unknown in this world could reconcile their destinies after a person in power sought to destroy them. Who wouldn’t want to read about an unsung heroine and her ability to free her people from the destructive influence of a King?

It was not lost on me the spelling of the word demon and what this alternative spelling is pointing out in reference. This stems back to a lot of conversations I had in high school with my best friend who was as passionate about Fantasy as I had been about Science Fiction. It led to a lot of interesting conversations and discussions – something I hadn’t seen until I became a book blogger and realised there was this whole bookish community who were doing the same thing about the topics they enjoyed talking about themselves. I normally might have taken a right turn on reading this novel – yet there was just ‘something’ about it that spoke to me and I dove in head first. As you’ll see on my review I had many surprising takeaways and a reading experience I had hoped to receive but was wickedly delighted by having experienced.

One quick note to readers who might seek this out – I’d say this is Cosy Horror intermixed with High Fantasy with a cutting thread of Sword & Sorcery. 

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Notation on Cover Art: I love the art of book covers which give you an honest impression or gateway into the world you’re about to enter and “Kings and Daemons” is doing exactly that with this lushly vibrant cover art which truly gives you a keen sense about Maya and how she would appear if you were to meet her yourself. I loved everything about the design – from the choices in colours to the layout – original artwork like this one on Fantasy novels was something I have always cherished and celebrated! Especially if you look closely at what is being highlighted in this portrait of Maya – specifically look at her feet and then compare that to what is behind her and you’ll see how much she effects her world. 

#EnterTheFantastic | Enter the realms of “The Gifted and the Cursed” – through the first novel “Kings and Daemons” by Marcus LeeKings and Daemons
Subtitle: The Gifted and the Cursed (Book One)
by Marcus Lee
Source: Author via Storytellers on Tour

A tale of conquest, dark kings, and daemonic heroes. A spellbinding story that will enchant you with its plot of ambition, love, betrayal, sacrifice and redemption.

Over fifty years have passed since Daleth the seemingly immortal Witch-King and his army conquered the Ember Kingdom.
Now, with the once fertile lands and its enslaved people dying around him, the Witch-King, driven by his insatiable thirst for eternal youth, prepares his forces to march on the prosperous neighbouring Freestates. It will be the beginnings of a conquest that could destroy nations, bringing death and destruction on an unimaginable scale.

Then, when a peasant huntress whose rare gift was concealed from birth is exposed, it sets in motion a chain of events that could alter the destiny of generations to come.

Genres: Cosy Horror, Dark Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 979-8646561931

Published by Self Published

on 26th May, 2020

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 414

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The Gifted and the Cursed Trilogy:

Kings & Daemons (book one)

Tristan’s Folly (book two)

The End of Dreams (book three)

This is a Self-Published novel and series!

Converse via: #Fantasy, #EpicFantasy or #HeoricFantasy or #SwordAndSorcery
as well as #storytellersontour #  & #EnterTheFantastic as #JorieReads

About Marcus Lee

Writing hasn’t always been a serious hobby for me … but it has always been there, lurking in the shadows, serving me well when called upon.

As I look back over the years, I realise I was guilty of writing many short stories, as well as poetry, and I’d like to think, that even if they were never intended to be published, they were nonetheless warmly received by the intended recipients.

Then in 2019, I was inspired to write not just a short story, or poetry, but a book. Then, suddenly, one book turned into a trilogy and a labour of love, and it was a love I wanted to share with the world.

So, here we are. The pandemic that put my career in sport on hold also gave me the opportunity to lavish time on my alternative hobby, or if demand dictates my new career.

However, only you, the reader, will decide whether this trilogy, which is still a work in progress, will be the first of many. I genuinely hope so.

Who knows, now these creatives juices are flowing, I might just keep on writing anyway.

Epic fantasy has been my favourite genre since I first read The Odyssey and The Illiad as a seven-year-old. Now it’s my turn to see if I can bring another world to life in the imagination of others.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #EnterTheFantastic
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Posted Saturday, 15 August, 2020 by jorielov in #EnterTheFantastic, ArchDemons or Demonic Entities, Blog Tour Host, Coming-Of Age, Cosy Horror, Dark Arts (Dark Magic), Dark Fantasy, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Excessive Violence in Literature, Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Horror-Lite, Immortals, Indie Author, Self-Published Author, Storytellers on Tour, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Sword & Scorcery

#PubDay Book Spotlight | “The Gossamer Mage” by Julie E. Czerneda

Posted Tuesday, 6 August, 2019 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: For three years (2015-2017) I happily participated in three blog tours celebrating Ms Czerneda’s epic series: The Clan Chronicles (#futurespasttour, #timeandstarstour & #againstthedark respectively) wherein I was blessed to be able to read the series in the order of the Clan. I started with Stratification, followed by the Trade Pact trilogy and finally found my heart so tethered to the love story between Jason & Sira, I was left emotionally wrecked and uplifted by the ending (within the pages of “To Guard Against the Dark”). You can read through my Archive of #whoaretheclan ruminative thoughts per each story I quite literally found to be #unputdownable!

At the same time, I had the joy of hosting Ms Czerneda on several occassions where I featured her in an interview, a guest post about the Web Shifters series & a final good-bye essay about the past twenty years of being with the Clan.

In [2016] I received the first two novels of the Night Edge series “A Turn of Light” & “A Play of Shadow”. However, the timing wasn’t right for me – it was too soon after my father’s stroke and in the ensuing year, due to different reasons (mostly health related as I have chronic migraines), I decided to wait to conclude my readings of the Clan before attempting to re-emerge into her Fantasy series. This Summer I knew the time had come for me to settle into an epic Fantasy series and see where this new journey with Ms Czerneda’s characters would take me. Ahead of this new journey of mine – I elected to read her stand-alone new release “The Gossamer Mage” which is a work of Dark Fantasy releasing on my 6th blog birthday, the 6th of August!

I received a complimentary copy of ‘The Gossamer Mage’ in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for my thoughts shared herein.

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What drew my eye into wanting to read “The Gossamer Mage”:

I read the premise behind Mage and goodness! What a plotting of intrigue! I like how the mages are a bit in the dark about what is actually going on with the Goddess and how their world is affected by the truths left unknown to them. The cover art is also lovely. I had a feeling this might be a darker Fantasy story – however, there were certain aspects of the Clan which ran quite dark as well. I survived the Clan and I have confidence I can handle a darker Fantasy novel from you. I like your instincts for telling stories and I look forward to taking this journey. – initial thoughts

When I first learnt of the premise you’ll notice how as I was considering the subject & the story within the heart of “The Gossamer Mage” I was recognising that despite appearances, I was already well aware of how this particular author can take her reader into the darker realms of her Speculative stories; thereby, I was with better confidence in believing I could not just handle reading this novel but I would appreciate discovering how she treated this world with her style of pulling us through a world which will leave us ruminatively reflective.

The day the novel released into book world seeking readers is the very same day I am celebrating my 6th Blog Birthday here on Jorie Loves A Story which felt rather fittingly brilliant if you ask me! What better way to anchour your personal celebrations than by ruminating over a beloved author and reading their latest release? I was honoured to be considered for the blog tour of this latest release as although it was meant to become my *third!* reading of Ms Czerneda’s Fantasy stories – it became my first.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com#PubDay Book Spotlight | “The Gossamer Mage” by Julie E. CzernedaThe Gossamer Mage
by Ms Julie E. Czerneda, Julie E. Czerneda
Source: Direct from Publisher

From an Aurora Award-winning author comes a new fantasy epic
in which one mage must stand against a Deathless Goddess who controls all magic.

Only in Tananen do people worship a single deity: the Deathless Goddess. Only in this small, forbidden realm are there those haunted by words of no language known to woman or man. The words are Her Gift, and they summon magic. Mage scribes learn to write Her words as intentions: spells to make beasts or plants, designed to any purpose. If an intention is flawed, what the mage creates is a gossamer: a magical creature as wild and free as it is costly for the mage. For Her Gift comes at a steep price. Each successful intention ages a mage until they dare no more. But her magic demands to be used; the Deathless Goddess will take her fee, and mages will die. To end this terrible toll, the greatest mage in Tananen vows to find and destroy Her. He has yet to learn She is all that protects Tananen from what waits outside. And all that keeps magic alive.

Genres: Dark Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780756408909

Also by this author: Reap the Wild Wind, Riders of the Storm, Rift in the Sky, A Thousand Words for Stranger, Ties of Power, To Trade the Stars, This Gulf of Time and Stars, Julie E. Czerneda Interview (#futurespasttour), The Gate to Futures Past, Guest Post (Web Shifters series) by Julie E. Czerneda, Guest Post: Julie E. Czerneda (Clan Chronicles Finale Tour), To Guard Against the Dark

Published by DAW Books

on 6th August, 2019

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 416

 Published By: DAW Books (@DAWBooks)
an imprint of Penguin Group USA

Book prologue was published as the novella
“The Gossamer Mage: Intended Words” in 2008, Baen’s Universe.

Available Formats: Hardcover, Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #gossamermage + #DarkFantasy

About Ms Julie E. Czerneda

Julie E. Czerneda Photo Credit: Roger Czerneda Photography

Julie E. Czerneda is the author of the Species Imperative trilogy, the Night's Edge fantasy duology, and the Stratification novels. She is a multiple Aurora Award winner, and was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award and the Philip K. Dick Award. Julie lives with her husband and two children in the lake country of central Ontario, under skies so clear they could take seeing the Milky Way for granted, but never do.

Photo CreditRoger Czerneda Photography

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Tuesday, 6 August, 2019 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Book Spotlight, Canadian Literature, Content Note, Dark Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, Fly in the Ointment