*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of NETGALLEY arc #Song of Blood and Stone Book 1 of the Earthsinger Chronicles by #L. Penelope #bookreview #Brainfluffbookblogreview

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Like so many of my Netgalley finds, it was the cover that caught my eye – such a beautiful, unusual image for a dystopian fantasy adventure…

Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive–an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.

That’s as much of the rather chatty blurb. I’m willing to share. I really enjoyed Jasminda as a character – she is gutsy, intelligent and resourceful under pressure. It was a really nice change having a young girl being the one doing the rescuing during those first, desperate encounters on the mountain. The other main viewpoint character in this adventure is Jack, the wounded soldier who Jasminda finds herself trying to protect from the brutality of the soldiers hunting him for a spy. The beginning immediately pulled me in and had me fully engaged – fast-paced, full of adventure and peopled with strong, sympathetic characters. There is thoughtful, intelligent handling of racism throughout this book, which worked effectively within the story – I wish other fantasy authors would also tackle this subject. I also enjoyed the world and the magic system, which made sense and had definable boundaries – always a bonus.

I powered through the book until I got nearly to the halfway stage when the whole tenor changed as it morphed into a love story – furthermore, a love story with a fair amount of graphic sex. As I was under the impression that this was a YA read, I was slightly taken aback because the amount of description and time devoted to the sex scenes felt far more appropriate for a New Adult book. While the sex took part between two people who clearly loved each other, it isn’t what I’d bargained for, or expected from the cover or the blurb – and yes, that was something of a problem for me. However, I am aware that is a personal preference and there was nothing violent or untoward about these scenes, other than they went into a lot more detail than I was expecting.

Alongside the love story is the deteriorating political situation between the two countries involved, along with a power-hungry, autocratic wizard of immense power. The flashback scenes were well handled and no time was I confused about what was happening. The writing is smooth and the plotting well paced. All in all, this is a gripping, well told story with a good climax and strong ending. Highly recommended for fans of gripping romance fantasy stories. While I obtained an arc of The Song of Blood and Stone from the publisher via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
8/10

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18 responses »

    • Yes – I loved the way it started, with lots of tension and drama and the damsel being the one who did the protecting… It was a bit of a shame that later, when she was pulled out of her own environment she slightly lost that edge and the relationship lapsed into something more ordinary.

  1. I would really like to read this one–and am glad for the warning about how heavy it is in romance. I don’t mind, but I do have to be in the mood for that type of book.

  2. I’m glad to see you enjoyed this book overall as well. Jasminda was such a great character, and like you, I appreciated that this author included so many relevant social issues like racism. Also like you, I was a bit thrown by the way the second half of the novel seemed to be dominated by the romance and that it included those unexpected graphic sex scenes. I do look forward to continuing the series though and learning more about this world and the magical system. Great review!

    • Thank you, Suzanne – yes, this one had such a strong start, before it took something of a left turn. And it’s not that I’m particularly opposed to graphic sex scenes – but generally books that feature them are well flagged as such, and this one wasn’t.

  3. Hmmmm. This had sounded promising until the love story aspect crept in. It’s not that I don’t like love stories in fantasy – in fact, a well-written, purposeful love story can help make a good story great, IMO. But this one sounds more like a distraction from the rest of the plot… And I recently DNFed a YA fantasy because I didn’t like the love story (or triangle, rather), among other reasons. Maybe I shouldn’t let the sour aftertaste taint my decision on whether to read Song of Blood and Stone… I guess I’ll have to wait and see what other reviewers think of it.

    • I think it was the dollop of graphic sex that threw me… I wasn’t expecting it, frankly and found it rather irritating as I generally avoid books so heavily tilted towards the romance. Not that I don’t like a love story, but I did feel it rather ambushed this one, where there were other interesting things going on.

  4. This sounds good with reservations – particularly the romance element – but, I think going into the story with realistic expectations is always helpful.
    Lynn 😀

    • Thank you, Rae:). I do always try to be fair in my reviews – and always keep in mind that someone has spent hundred of hours working on their book.

      • As an author, yourself, you know the birthing pangs of producing a book; but on the other hand, you as a blogger have a responsibility to your readers to be sparing with recommendations on how to invest their reading time.

      • And that’s the balancing act! It helps that I’m also an avid reader and have been all my life. And when blogging, my first priority is to ensure that prospective readers get an insight into my unbiased response to the books I read.

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