Today I’m excited to be part of the blog tour for Blood Ties by Hazel B. West, with a review and other good stuff — and an appropriately Irish post, what with Saint Patrick’s Day coming up this week and all… 😉
Follow the tour (and enter the giveaway for a copy of the book!) HERE. You don’t want to miss this! 🙂
Here’s a bit about the book and author, and then my review*! (Read on to the end of the post for a taste of the book with the excerpt Hazel’s sharing with us!)
*a.k.a. where I squeal about Ireland and warriors and fast cars and epicness and brothers and friendships and Faerie and all of the things
Title: Blood Ties (The Modern Tales of Na Fianna #1)
Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy, Alternate History
In an Ireland that mixes high kings, faeries, and modern warriors who drive fast cars, Ciran, a descendant from the famous warrior Fionn Mac Cool, bands together with a company of young warriors from the legendary order of Na Fianna to go on a quest to recover their missing family members who were captured by the Goblins in a shaky peace between the two kingdoms. Ciran and his companions must figure out not only how they are going to rescue the prisoners, but how they are going to complete their mission without killing each other. Through trial and error, running battles, unexpected friendships, and daring escapes, Ciran and his company come face to face with the Goblin King himself in a final battle that will decide the fate of all involved and of Ireland itself.
The first book in a new series, Blood Ties takes the traditional Irish legends and puts a modern spin on them with a heavy helping of friendship and the love of family.
Find the Book
About the Author
Hazel West lives in Purgatory, er, Florida, with her books and her hedgehog Horatio. When she’s not writing, she’s reading other people’s books, studying folklore, or binge-watching something on Netflix—drinking coffee is also a given.
You can find her online in these places:
Writing blog: http://talesfromamodernbard.blogspot.com
by Hazel B. West
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for my honest review, and all opinions are my own.
This book contains, among other things: awesome characters galore, brothers by blood and by bond, friendship, bickering (oh, the bickering!), quests, Irish warriors with fast cars and swords, a few fairies, a lot of goblins (in black leather, of course), a lot of epic fight scenes, muffins, and knitting; all wrapped up in a modern Ireland with an alternate history, keeping all of the awesomeness of medieval times, and one foot in modern times for all the cool things we have now, like cell phones and laptops and movies and cars.
I really don’t see why anyone would need any reasons beyond that to read it . . . but I shall continue, in any case, since I’ll take any excuse to fangirl over this delightful book. 😉
My two favorite things: the setting and the friendships.
It perfectly blends a modern Irish setting with medieval warrior clans and a dash of Faerie, which may sound like an odd mix, but it WORKS. I was simply in love with this world! Like… aside from the danger, can I just live there, please? I really enjoyed getting to learn more about the setting and how it all fit together. The whole thing came so alive for me! I don’t usually read much modern fiction, but I loved this — so even if you’re not one for a contemporary setting, this one’s still worth giving a try!
Just the idea of these Irish warriors, who are a mix of medieval and modern, descendants of Finn Mac Cool, still working for a High King of Ireland; and being part Fae as the hero and the other Fianna are, they have faster reflexes and more instincts; they’re basically like ninjas, only cooler and faster and Irish. (Our narrator, Ciran, even mentions that it’s been proven that ninjas can’t beat them. XD How cool is that?)
It’s so fun how the characters will one moment be in a motorbike/car chase with some goblins, the next having a sword fight, and the next be hanging out at home at their castle with a brother, eating ice cream and cheese balls and watching a movie late at night . . . and then off on an epic journey across the rolling green hills of Ireland, having to watch out for the tricks of the Fae. I just love it! The mix is a ton of fun.
The characters leapt off the page. They are all awesome and I am very fond of them! *hugs them all* They’re mostly teens (or early twenties) and a fabulous bunch. Their interactions and dialog and how they bounce off each other and fight and make friends is just wonderful. It’s the best.
Our hero Ciran, who is awesome and my favorite; his best friend Tierney (their relationship is the best!); Caitlin, a warrior maiden who is both maiden and warrior and not stuck up about it, and goodnatured, who I loved a ton; Deaglan, lady’s man and archer and always with perfect hair; Riordan the very calm (licensed!) Berserker who knits; and his flashy troublemaker little brother Keevan. Then of course there’s High King Eamon, who is simply fabulous; and his captain of the guard/best friend Killian — the antics of those two together, especially, simply had me in stitches with laughter. But all of them together were so great!
I loved the relationships in this book so much. Family is very strong, but also friendship. The main theme is one of brotherhood — whether they be sword brothers or brothers born. This best-friend buddies kind of story is one of my favorites, and for sheer amount of awesome bro-ness, it’s likely the best I’ve ever read. The love of family, brothers, friends, and what they’d all do for each other, while teasing and fighting a bit… I just LOVED it! ^_^
I’m not the biggest fan of books told in first person, so it’s a high compliment coming from me that I loved how this story was written, and the narrator, Ciran, is my favorite character of all. I just loved his dry witty way of putting things. Seeing the story through his eyes was awesome. I love his determination and how he tried his hardest and learned to be a leader. Just… Ciran! He’s great. 🙂
The book also has a more serious and darker side to it, with some deeper themes and emotions, touching on family, loyalty, betrayal, coming of age — it’s about a group of mostly teenage warriors, after all! The content is clean, although sensitive readers might want to know there’s mention of torture; and of course a bunch of fighting, because that’s a given with this sort of epic adventure. 😉 On that note, I have to make a special mention of the fight sequences — sword fights and otherwise — which were amazingly well written! I could see them all so well. The fight descriptions and the humorous bantering dialog attest to this author’s skill.
I’ll admit that from the way it started out, I expected it to have more emphasis on the modern aspect, like in a city… with roads and things; and on the specific friendship between the hero and his best friend, Tierney. But that relationship, while still present, fell somewhat in the background with the onset of several other (awesome) characters and all of their interactions, and once the story got underway, it was much more a medieval fantasy adventure quest type of thing (though the modern showed its head from time to time). But all of that is right up my alley, so although I expected something a little different, you will definitely not find me complaining. 😉
Do I have any complaints, then? Mainly that I wish it wasn’t over and need the next one!
Overall: I definitely recommend Blood Ties! I loved this book and just want to hug it, and/or go live there, and I’m excitedly awaiting the sequel! (It’s going to be from Eamon’s point of view and I could. not. be. more. excited. EEP! When is that releasing, again??) I can’t wait to return to this world! ❤
Excerpt From Blood Ties
There was a moment when I couldn’t quite believe the fact I was grappling on the brink of a waterfall just like in an overblown action movie, but yet there I was and Keevan wasn’t far behind, still facing off with the same Goblin he had been before, who was pressing him hard. I couldn’t see where Tierney and Caitlin were because I was a bit too busy for that at the moment, but hoped they were not in as precarious a position as I was or worse.
There was a sudden yell and, forgoing all training I had ever had, I looked over with concern to see Keevan slipping off his rock and falling down with the rushing water, the Goblin he had been fighting going with him.
I would have screamed for him, even knowing it wouldn’t have done anything, but I was suddenly slammed in the face by the hilt of my opponent’s sword. I teetered back on the precipice but gained my balance just before I received another strike that knocked the sword out of my wet hand. I kicked out at the Goblin, but he caught my leg and I knew then, with horror, that this was it. He grinned, knowing as well, and I flailed my arms as he pressed me back. The only thing I could do now was take him with me, but I didn’t even get that chance.
“Have a nice swim, Finar,” the Goblin said with a jeer, before he let me go and I fell backwards.
It wouldn’t have been terrible, but for the fact that halfway down I slammed into the side of the cliff, smashing up my side, and by the time I hit the freezing water, well, I hardly remembered the impact enough to tell about it.
— Blood Ties by Hazel B. West