Angel Smith is finally ready to leave Antarctica for a second chance at life. But on what was meant to be her last day, the remote research station she’s been calling home is attacked. Hunted and scared, she and irritatingly gorgeous glaciologist Ford Cooper barely make it out with their lives…only to realize that in a place this remote, there’s nowhere left to run.
Isolated with no power, no way to contact the outside world, and a madman at their heels, Angel and Ford must fight to survive in the most inhospitable—and beautiful—place on earth. But what starts as a partnership born of necessity quickly turns into an urgent connection that burns bright and hot. They both know there is little chance of making it out alive, and yet they are determined to survive against the odds—and possibly, the world.
Happy Saturday, friends! Today I’m excited to share my review for Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani, the third finalist of the 2022 BBNYA! I read this book as part of the BBNYA Finalist Blog Tour hosted by The Write Reads.
Special thanks to the tour organisers for having me on tour and to the author for providing a digital copy of the book in exchange for an honest review!
BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 15 finalists and one overall winner. If you are an author and wish to learn more about the BBNYA competition, you can visit the official website or Twitter. BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads.
The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame.
When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.
Death of parent, mild xenophobia, violence, blood, imprisonment, torture
TL;DR: This is my first book by Khanani and I can see why so many of my blogger friends love her writing and her books. There was so much to enjoy about this novella and the author does a good job of teasing elements of a world that I’m hoping will be further expanded in the next book. The characters are a rich mix of different cultures and I also enjoyed the paranormal fantasy setting. We’ve got the typical vampires, werewolves and shapeshifters, but also other supernaturals that I’ve not read about before, combined with an interesting magic system that I’m looking forward to understanding more of. Overall, I thought this was an intense, action-packed novella that excited me for the next book in this series and I want to read it ASAP!
In less than 200 pages, Sunbolt takes us on a whirlwind adventure with plenty of action and magic. Our MC is Hitomi, an orphaned teen who is strong-willed, honourable and willing to fight and sacrifice to see justice prevail. It was so easy to root for Tomi and to want to see her get free of her various captors throughout the read. One thing is for sure, she’s not the “weak young thing” that people perceive her to be and she’s definitely not someone who’s easily defeated! I loved her grit and strength of character and despite hiding a huge life-changing secret and encountering fearful monsters she’s only ever briefly encountered before, she doesn’t let that fear stop her from taking action and using her brain. This determination combined with her big heart was something that I also really loved about her!
There’s a big cast of side characters that we briefly meet along the way and there were some I loved (Hotaru!), some I strongly disliked and wanted to give a good shake to (IFYKYK), and others that I was very curious about (Val, Mistress Stormwind), but they mostly existed to move things along in this novella. I hope that we return to and get to learn more about many of them in the next book because I loved the levity of their humour and the lightness of their interactions with Tomi.
I think what would’ve made this book stronger is better world-building. I appreciated the rich mix of cultures and the diversity of the characters—from Africa, the Middle East, East Asia, and the West (from what I can tell), but what was lacking was a clear history and geographical understanding of this world. I don’t know if this Karolene and the other lands have already been established in a previous book/series but we’re kind of thrown into it without much context. We do get drops of information further in the read about historical conflicts, mages and different types of magic, as well as other supernaturals, but it’s very minimal. This is a book that would’ve benefitted from having a map available at the start, but I appreciate that the author provided a short pronunciation guide (although I found it funny that the first word after said guide wasn’t included in it and it would’ve been great if it was! 😂). The world-building we got was enough to pique my interest though and the need to know more drove me to keep reading.
Overall, I thought that this was a great first book and I’m looking forward to continuing Hitomi’s story. I’m also really looking forward to reading more by Khanani cos their writing has an intense but wonderfully compelling quality that made me want to keep reading.
Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. She has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah, on the coast of the Red Sea. Intisar used to write grants and develop projects to address community health and infant mortality with the Cincinnati Health Department, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy. She is the author of The Sunbolt Chronicles, and the Dauntless Path novels, beginning with Thorn.
Devon King has a plan. An actual with bullet points and everything plan for his life. When he’s called out at work for never participating in any of the office activities he feels compelled to take part in the upcoming office bake off competition to prove he’s a team player, as making partner at his architectural design firm is top on his list of career goals. Only problem, he doesn’t know anything about baking. Failure is not an option so when his first choice for help is unavailable, desperate times lead him to ask Reba Johnson, assistant pastry chef to his brother’s girlfriend.
Reba’s been having fun texting the super serious Devon ridiculous cat pictures, for an entire month, but she’s surprised when he asks for her help with a potential baking crisis, since their conversations have been one sided until now. When her friends make a bet that even she can’t get the stoic Devon to fall for her charms, Reba sets out to prove them wrong and get Devon to have some fun.
As the competition draws closer, their sessions get hotter with a one night stand turning into two nights then three…Reba doesn’t fit into Devon’s carefully crafted life and as he tries to focus on winning the company contest, he discovers that sweet treats aren’t the only thing baking in the kitchen, and all his perfect plans are crumbling.
Set in an alternative Edwardian England, this is a comedy of manners, manor houses, and hedge mazes: including a magic-infused murder mystery and a delightful queer romance.
Young baronet Robin Blyth thought he was taking up a minor governmental post. However, he’s actually been appointed parliamentary liaison to a secret magical society. If it weren’t for this administrative error, he’d never have discovered the incredible magic underlying his world.
Cursed by mysterious attackers and plagued by visions, Robin becomes determined to drag answers from his missing predecessor – but he’ll need the help of Edwin Courcey, his hostile magical-society counterpart. Unwillingly thrown together, Robin and Edwin will discover a plot that threatens every magician in the British Isles.
The Binding meets Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell in debut author Freya Marske’s A Marvellous Light.
Homomisia, sexism, racism, death of a parent, murder, attempted murder, torture, kidnapping, bullying, on-page sex
Lizzie has made endless mistakes. Kitchen fires, pyramid schemes, bangs (of the hair and human variety), you name it, she’s done it… and made a mess of it too. One mistake she’s never made is letting anyone get closer to her than a single hook-up. But after losing yet another bakery job due to her uncontrolled ADHD, she breaks her cardinal rule and has a two-night-stand that changes everything.
Once burned, twice shy, Rake has given up on relationships. And feelings. And any form of intimacy for that matter. Yet something about charming, chaotic Lizzie has him lowering his guard. For two nights, that is. Then it’s back home to Australia and far away from the pesky feelings Lizzie pulls from him. But when Lizzie tells him she’s got an unexpected bun in the oven, he’ll do whatever it takes to be a part of his child’s life… except be emotionally vulnerable, obviously. He’s never going to make that mistake again.
Through a series of mishaps, totally “platonic” single bed sharing, and an underground erotic baking scheme, Lizzie and Rake learn that even the biggest mistakes can have the most beautiful consequences.
Internalised ableism, sexual assault, on-page cheating recounted, unplanned pregnancy, abortion discussed, pregnancy, sex on-page
Small Miracles Publisher: Starwatch Press Pub Date: 6 May 2022 Genre: Adult Paranormal Fantasy
A little bit of sin is good for the soul.
Gadriel, the fallen angel of petty temptations, has a bit of a gambling debt. Fortunately, her angelic bookie is happy to let her pay off her debts by doing what she does best: All Gadriel has to do is tempt miserably sinless mortal Holly Harker to do a few nice things for herself.
What should be a cakewalk of a job soon runs into several roadblocks, however, as Miss Harker politely refuses every attempt at temptation from Gadriel the woman, Gadriel the man, and Gadriel the adorable fluffy kitten. When even chocolate fails to move Gadriel’s target, the ex-guardian angel begins to suspect she’s been conned. But Gadriel still remembers her previous job… and where petty temptations fail, small miracles might yet prevail.
Olivia Atwater explores love, grief, and the very last bit of chocolate in this sweet modern fantasy, full of wit and heart. Pick up Small Miracles, and enjoy a heavenly faerie tale from the author of Half a Soul.
Hi friends, as part of the blog tour hosted by TBR & Beyond Tours I’m shining a spotlight on Last Sunrise in Eterna by Amapro Ortiz. This is the first day of the tour and there are plenty of awesome posts to come so don’t forget to check out the other blogger posts too!
Click the banner above or here to check out the other incredible bloggers on the blog tour!
Last Sunrise in Eterna Publisher: Page Street Kids Publication Date: 28 March 2023 Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Rep: Puerto Rican
Three teenagers are invited to spend seven days on the secluded island floating off the coast of Puerto Rico to learn the magic of the elves.
All they have to do is give up their dreams.
Seventeen-year-old goth Sevim Burgos hates elves. Everyone else on earth loves the elves (especially their handsome princes) and would give anything to participate in Eterna’s annual Exchange, where three teens can trade their dreams for a week of elven magic.
But Sevim knows things most people don’t. She can see through the illusions the elves use to conceal their crimes. Ever since elves killed her father, Sevim has longed for revenge. So to help support her single mother, she has been selling abandoned elf corpses on the black market.
But it turns out that the elf prince Aro has noticed Sevim bodysnatching, so he kidnaps her mother in retaliation. To get her mother back, Sevim must participate in the Exchange.
In the home of the elves, Sevim will have to surrender her dreams and put her trust in the charming prince who took the last family member she has in order to master the art of elf magic. And in working with him, she will discover how the royal elves might be more tied to her own history than she ever suspected.
Trauma, handling corpses, death of parent (recounted), murder, mutilated corpses (elven children), dead bodies (elven children), cannibalism (brief mention)
Amparo Ortiz is the author of BLAZEWRATH GAMES and DRAGONBLOOD RING. She was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and currently lives on the island’s northeastern coast. She’s published short story comics in MARVEL’S VOICES: COMUNIDADES #1 and in the Eisner-award winning PUERTO RICO STRONG. She’s also co-editor of the upcoming OUR SHADOWS HAVE CLAWS, a young adult horror anthology featuring myths and monsters from Latin America. When she’s not writing, she teaches ESL as a college professor and watches a lot of K-pop videos.