Review: Planet Dead by Sylvester Barzey

Planet Dead header

Today we have horror fantasy Planet Dead by author Sylvester Barzey. I don’t read a lot of zombie novels and though I’ve watched a few movies, I never really considered myself a fan of zombies. I liked the look of Planet Dead though and wanted in on this tour.

Well, I’m glad I joined because this book was pretty good! Read on to know more and check out my review!

Planet Dead (2021) coverPlanet Dead

Genre: adult, horror, fantasy/paranormal

Diversity tags: author of color (black author); poc representation (black female lead; bipoc characters; lgbtq+ characters)

Publication date: 06 August 2017

Publisher: Self-published

Cover design: Ravenborn Covers

Synopsis:

When the world goes to hell in a zombie handbasket, you find out that true evil hides among the living!

Catherine Briggs is having a messed up year. Her car got stolen. Her family thinks she’s dead. There’s an unwelcome late night visitor at her door.

Oh yeah! And the world’s become infested with zombies!

Catherine is on a mission to find her family, no matter the cost. Yet, fate seems to have other plans. Flesh eating zombies, Killer Clowns, and a number of other batshit problems await her in… Planet Dead: Bloodthirsty

Content/Trigger Warnings:  Mature language, blood & gore, sexual violence, violence

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About the Author

Sylvester Barzey is a best selling horror and fantasy author who grew up in Bronx, NY and was later transplanted to Lawrence, GA. A military veteran with an addiction to all things horror, Sylvester’s goal is to shine a spotlight on BIPOC characters within the horror/fantasy genre.

Connect with the author on Website, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads and Facebook.

Fast-paced and exciting with a really kickass protagonist

Wow, this was a wild ride. Very fast-paced, has a lot of exciting and terrifying things happening, super action-packed to say the least, and with a very badass protagonist, Catherine Briggs, who we meet right off the bat.

I really like Catherine Briggs. Physically and mentally strong, no-nonsense and very determined to find her family. She’s smart and knows how to fight. She really, truly is a badass, but she also has a vulnerable side to her and that was pretty cool, too. She’s hardened by everything that has happened to her, but she still has a lot of good in her.

There’s some hard core violence in this and some events that are truly horrifying and none of them have anything to do with zombies. It’s actually part of what I love/hate about zombie books, movies and shows – it’s the evil that people do to each other that gets me. That’s the real horror of it all and Planet Dead doesn’t shy away from it. I thought it was done well.

Overall, this was a gripping read for me. The twists were really something. I kind of saw one of them coming (ugh, that “Mrs. Briggs”), but I enjoyed how it all played out. I’m excited to read the rest of the series.

If you like zombie stories, you’ll probably enjoy this one! If you want to start or try reading about zombie stories, this is a good place to start.

Note: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book from the publisher and Caffeine Book Tours as part of my participation in their tour. All opinions and views expressed here are my own.

Follow the #PlanetDeadTour and check out more reviews of the book! You can find the tour schedule here: https://caffeinebooktours.wordpress.com/2021/05/31/planet-dead-tour

Review: In The Jaded Grove by Anela Deen

In The Jaded Grove header

Today we have In The Jaded Grove by author Anela Deen! This is a good one, folks! Not gonna lie, it was the cover that first caught my attention, then I read the synopsis and was even more intrigued. Anyway, I’m really glad to be in this tour and I can’t wait for you all to read this book!

Read more about In The Jaded Grove and check out my review below! :)

In The Jaded Grove coverIn The Jaded Grove (by Anela Deen)

Author: Anela Deen

Genre: new adult, portal fantasy

Diversity tags: author of color (biracial); poc representation (filipino main character); lgbtqiap+ representation (queer secondary characters)

Publication date: 15 April 2021

Publisher: Fine Fables Press

Cover artist: Jenny Zemanek

Synopsis:

Simith of Drifthorn is tired of war. After years of conflict between the Thistle court and the troll kingdom, even a pixie knight known for his bloodlust longs for peace. Hoping to secure a ceasefire, Simith arranges a meeting with the troll king—and is ambushed instead. Escape lies in the Jaded Grove, but the trees of the ancient Fae woodland aren’t what they seem, and in place of sanctuary, Simith tumbles through a doorway to another world.

Cutting through her neighbor’s sunflower farm in Skylark, Michigan, Jessa runs into a battle between creatures straight out of a fantasy novel. Only the blood is very real. When a lone fighter falls to his attackers, Jessa intervenes. She’s known too much death to stand idly by, but an act of kindness leads to consequences even a poet like her couldn’t imagine.

With their fates bound by magic, Simith and Jessa must keep the strife of his world from spilling into hers—except the war isn’t what it appears and neither are their enemies. Countless lives depend on whether they can face the truths of their pasts and untangle the web of lies around them. But grief casts long shadows, and even their deepening bond may not be enough to save them from its reach.

On-page Representation:  Filipino (main character), secondary sapphic characters

Trigger and Content Warnings:  Violence, trauma, grief, death of a loved one (in the past – not on page)

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About the Author

In The Jaded Grove author

A child of two cultures, this hapa haole Hawaiian girl is currently landlocked in the Midwest. After exploring the world for a chunk of years, she hunkered down in Minnesota and now fills her days with family, fiction, and the occasional snowstorm. With a house full of lovable toddlers, a three-legged cat, and one handsome Dutchman, she prowls the keyboard late at night while the minions sleep. Coffee? Nah, she prefers tea with a generous spoonful of sarcasm.

Connect with the author on Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads and on her Website.

Incredibly fast-paced, exciting and well-written fantasy

I don’t read a lot of fantasies with pixies, fairies and fae, so I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, but I’m glad now that I decided to give this book a go. I really enjoyed it!

In The Jaded Grove is incredibly fast-paced, which I really liked. There’s always something interesting on every page. The writing flows well, so I found it pretty easy to read.

I like the characters – complex enough, likeable and even relatable. Jessa and Simith both carry a lot of pain in their hearts and it was beautiful to read about them working with it and through it. The secondary characters, Jessa’s friends, are also great and I would actually love to read more about them. Also, I love that the main character Jessa is Filipino. I enjoyed the bits about the culture thrown in.

The book has amazing world building (another thing I absolutely love in fantasies). I like the author’s take on fairies, pixies, fae and trolls. It’s something I didn’t really expect so that was interesting to read.

There are very real and serious themes running through this book – grief and trauma, war and oppression – and they’re handled well and not overwhelming, for me at least.

I’m not entirely sold on the ending, but the whole book was so engrossing that I didn’t mind so much. If you like portal fantasies with complex characters and lots of action (lots of fighting scenes in this one), you might enjoy this one!

Note: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book from the publisher and Caffeine Book Tours as part of my participation in their tour. All opinions and views expressed here are my own.

Also, please bear with how this review is written – present and past tenses all jumbled in! I can’t get it right at the moment, but I hope you get what I’m saying. LOL. Read this book! Thats all. :P

Favorite Quotes

Okay, these aren’t exactly actual quotes but the lines that struck me most in the book were the snippets from existing poems by well-known authors.

And into the forest I go,
to lose my mind and find my soul.
- John Muir

Beautiful words.

Yet if hope has flown away,
 In a night, or in a day,
 In a vision, or in non,
 Is it therefore the less gone?
 All that we see or seem
 Is but a dream within a dream. 
 - Edgar Allan Poe

I commend the author for choosing these because they were just so apt and beautiful. I also appreciated the reading recommendations the author gave at the end of the book.

Follow the Kindred Realms Tour! Check out Caffeine Book Tours on IG for more tour stops and reviews of the book.

Blog Tour: The Ikessar Falcon by K.S. Villoso

The Ikessar Falcon_Blog Tour Banner

Hullo, friends! Today, we’re featuring The Ikessar Falcon by author K.S. Villoso. This is the follow up to The Wolf of Oren-Yaro which has gotten amazing reviews everywhere. The Ikessar Falcon officially releases this week, so watch out for it!

Read more about the book below and check the other tour stops for reviews of the book.

The Ikessar Falcon (2020)The Ikessar Falcon

Genre: adult, fantasy

Diversity tags: own-voices, authors of color (filipino author), poc representation (filipino characters)

Publication date: 24 September 2020

Publisher: Orbit Books

Cover artist: Simon Goinard

Synopsis:

The Bitch Queen returns in The Ikessar Falcon, the action-packed sequel to K. S. Villoso’s acclaimed fantasy debut, The Wolf of Oren-Yaro.

Abandoned by her people, Queen Talyien’s quest takes a turn for the worse as she stumbles upon a plot deeper and more sinister than she could have ever imagined, one that will displace her king and see her son dead. The road home beckons, strewn with a tangled web of deceit and unimaginable horrors – creatures from the dark, mad dragons and men with hearts hungry for power.

To save her land, Talyien must confront the myth others have built around her: Warlord Yeshin’s daughter, symbol of peace, warrior and queen and everything she could never be.

The price for failure is steep. Her friends are few. And a nation carved by a murderer can only be destined for war.

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About the Author

The-Ikessar-Falcon_Author-photo-K.S.-Villoso

K.S. Villoso was born in a dank hospital on an afternoon in Albay, Philippines, and things have generally been okay since then. After spending most of her childhood in a slum area in Taguig (where she dodged death-defying traffic, ate questionable food, and fell into open-pit sewers more often than one ought to), she and her family immigrated to Vancouver, Canada, where they spent the better part of two decades trying to chase the North American Dream. She is now living amidst the forest and mountains with her family, children, and dogs in Anmore, BC.

Connect with the author on her Website, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads and Facebook.

The wolf and the queen (quotes from the book)

Wolf card from The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit deck.

“They called me the Bitch Queen, the she-wolf, because I murdered a man and exiled my king the night before they crowned me.”

“A wolf of Oren-yaro does not beg. A wolf of Oren-yaro suffers in silence.”

“I thought a wolf of Oren-yaro was unyielding; I had no idea how deep the Ikessars’ own tenets ran.”

“You are a wolf of Oren-yaro. You do not bend to mere whimsy. We are swords first, servants first.”

Queen of Swords card from The Sasuraibito Tarot deck.

“But Queen Talyien and Tali are different edges of the same sword — one a mask, the other a woman.”

“What strength I thought I had was laughable — I needed to be more than this. Jin-Sayeng needed me to be more than this. Thousands lost their lives to get me to where I was. If I faltered, thousands more would follow.”

“I tore my attention back to him, taking a deep breath and reaching inside to become queen of Jin-Sayeng once more.”

“Bitch Queen or frightened girl? What kind of gods would decree such an insurmountable battle for someone responsible for thousands upon thousands of lives?”

“If you were free to walk away from all of this, what would you be?” I stared at the fire for a long time. “I’d be free,” I murmured.”

I picked the Queen of Swords because I thought it was fitting. The Queen of Swords can represent independence, intelligence, objective thinking, constructive criticism and protectiveness. On the reverse of it, it can also represent being over-emotional, pessimistic, harsh, bitchy and unforgiving. I thought this card represents how Talyien struggles as a queen, a daughter, a protective mother, a wife, a woman.

Check out the first book in this series

The Wolf of Oren-YaroThe Wolf of Oren-Yaro (Book #1)

A queen of a divided land must unite her people, even if they hate her, even if it means stopping a ruin that she helped create. A debut epic fantasy from an exciting new voice.

“I murdered a man and made my husband leave the night before they crowned me.”

Born under the crumbling towers of Oren-yaro, Queen Talyien was the shining jewel and legacy of the bloody War of the Wolves that nearly tore her nation apart. Her upcoming marriage to the son of her father’s rival heralds peaceful days to come.

But his sudden departure before their reign begins fractures the kingdom beyond repair.

Years later, Talyien receives a message, urging her to attend a meeting across the sea. It’s meant to be an effort at reconciliation, but an assassination attempt leaves the queen stranded and desperate to survive in a dangerous land. With no idea who she can trust, she’s on her own as she struggles to fight her way home.

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Blog Tour Dates

Visit the other blog tour stops and find out what advance copy readers think about the book!

You can find the tour schedule and list of participating blogs here: https://caffeinebooktours.wordpress.com/2020/08/08/ikessar-falcon-tour/