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My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Monday, April 30, 2018

ARC Review: Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36347830-song-of-blood-stone?ac=1&from_search=true
Please Note:  I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
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.

Jack's mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it's people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda's Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps.

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.

The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.


Review:
One of the things I enjoy most about the Fantasy genre is it's ability to weave current social topics into a story.  Song of Blood and Stone, by L. Penelope, does this to stunning effect.  On top of building a wonderful new universe with magic and "Earthsong", the story explores themes of prejudice, and the challenges of refugees. 

What I Liked:
World-building:
The character's world is essentially divided in two by a barrier known as "The Mantle".  One side has an abundance of technology and the other side is made up of people with "Earthsong" (the ability to control the elements with magic).  There are often breaches in The Mantle when people from Lagamiri raid the Elsirians, causing lingering ill-will and prejudices.

I appreciated the way the author showed how magic both benefited, and harmed both sides.  Technology was also a double-edged sword, helping to improve lives, but also taking a toll on the environment.

There was also a wonderful backstory about the origins of the conflict, pitting two siblings against each other.

Characters:
Jasminda is strong, smart, and resilient. Even though she has lost nearly everything, and everyone she loves, she still keeps going.  Dark-skinned Jasminda is the product of a union between her Lagamirian father, and her Elsirian mother.  Although she was born in Elsira, she looks like someone from Lagamira, and thus is discriminated against on a daily basis.  People in Elsira mistrust her use of Earthsong, so she must keep her talents hidden.  So much of the subtle (and not so subtle) discrimination Jasminda is subjected to mirrors the experiences of African-Americans in the United States!

Story:
I found the story to be a page-turner!  There was lots of danger, romance, and mystery to keep me reading.  The tension at various parts of the book was palatable.  I was very moved by the story of the refugees and what they endured.  The characters who did stand up for their beliefs went through many trials, and you could see the parallels between them and civil rights advocates throughout history.

What I Was Mixed About:
Characters:
Although I thought Jack was brave and down to earth, I also thought he was rather selfish and didn't treat Jasminda as well as he should have.  He obviously sees Jasminda for the amazing woman that she is, but he doesn't call out others when they say and do blatantly racist things.  He also expects Jasminda to be understanding when he wants to keep their relationship a secret.  Basically, he wants all the perks and none of the challenges of being with her. I know this would have been really hard for him, but dude!  Grow a backbone!

Sex On The Page:
The bedroom scenes in this book are very sexy.  If you are looking for a "clean" romance, you won't enjoy this book.  Because this is a book where the relationship between Jasminda and Jack evolved (they didn't just jump into bed at first sight), I was okay with these moments.  They weren't the entire focus of the book.  But normally, this is NOT my thing.
  
Rating: 




Release Date:  May 1st, 2018

Genre:  Fantasy/Romance

Author:  L. Penelope

Publisher:  St. Martin's Press

Page Length:  384 Pages

Format:  E-Book

Source:  NetGalley

Recommendation:  This is a very entertaining, fast-paced story with great world-building.  But with steamy romance scenes, this is a fantasy book clearly for adults!
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