This Friday is filled with fantasy as we host the Viper's Creed Blog Tour. A YA fanatsy series for older teens and adults, we also have an excerpt reveal and our reviews of the first two books in this this series. This tour is presented by These Paper Worlds Book Tours.
YA fantasy*e-book, 301 pages
Expected publication: October 31st 2012 by The Runaway Pen
Sora is having visions. Strange, terrifying visions brought on by her Cat's Eye necklace, an ancient and magical device. Spurred to action, she leaves her mother's cabin to find Crash, the mysterious assassin who once changed her life. She is certain that together, they can discover what the necklace is trying to tell her.
Crash is still on the run from the dark sorcerer, Volcrian, but now a plague is spreading across the land. Volcrian's quest for vengeance has awakened something far more evil than himself; a force that could destroy the entire kingdom. Together, he and Sora must harness the power of the Cat's Eye and kill the sorcerer before it's too late...An excerpt from Viper's Creed:
Abruptly she straightened, having heard a sound on the breeze. Her eyes combed the fields around her, listening intently. There was no sign of movement, but a sudden shiver ran down her spine.
Purely out of instinct, Sora threw herself to one side. A long, thin blade whipped past her, almost invisible against the tall grass.
She brought her staff down on it, but found that the sword was no longer there. Then she spun, her heart in her throat—and gasped. A man stood to her back, as though he had risen from the very earth. For a moment, just a bare second, she thought it was Crash. Her eyes flickered over him in shock. His hair was the same perfect black, though longer and shaggier. One eye was closed by a permanent scar, a gruesome deformity that twisted down the left side of his face, while the other glinted with a malicious green light.
"Playing hero?" he hissed, and the sword moved like lightning. She brought up her staff, deflecting the blow, a clumsy block, completely unprepared.
He laughed at her, and in sudden anger, Sora kicked out her leg, attempting to trip him. Her foot passed through empty air as the man leapt up and over her, spinning expertly, landing perfectly on her other side.
Her mouth dropped open. Gods, he's like a cat! She had never seen a move like that before.
"And just what is a pretty morsel like you doing out here?” he asked, serpent-like. “Are you frightened? Yes, I think so."
“Don't flatter yourself,” Sora growled. Then she touched the necklace under her shirt and gave herself over to the Cat’s Eye, summoning its power with a tendril of thought.
The necklace roared to life. She felt its energy run through her limbs, making her loose and confident. The spirits of past warriors still existed within the necklace, snatches of skill and technique. Her muscles tightened with several lifetimes' worth of experience. She attacked, twirling her staff with ease.
The man dodged her first thrust and brought his sword down to cleave off her hand—but she pulled back, lashing out, missing his throat by a quarter of an inch. She kept at him, attacking with a volley of blows and jabs; she struck his chest, his knee, his arms. Finally, with a firm whack to his hand, she forced him to drop his sword to the ground.
"Not what I was expecting, I'll admit,” he said, rubbing the injured limb. His eyes slid over her in an oily way that made her gut churn. His gaze was unnerving, sickly, like poison. “You wouldn't make a bad outlaw, you know. Would you consider joining us?"
Sora glared at him, disgusted. “Let Laina go,” she said.
The man raised an eyebrow. “Sorry, my dear,” he murmured. “But she has a price to pay.”
Sora lunged at him, infuriated. “Bastard!” she yelled. “She's just a child!”
The Raven was ready for her. He ducked under her staff, smooth as water, and grabbed her arms. Then, before she could react, he spun her around and bodily shoved her into the grass, falling with her, pinning her to the ground face first. Sora let out a shriek of outrage, but it was useless—he was strong, far more powerful than her, and heavy against her back. His hand smashed her face into the dirt. She could imagine the grin on his twisted, scarred face.
“Beautiful girls are hard to come by,” the man mused. “Maybe I'll take you with me.”
Panic bloomed, tightening around her lungs, her heart skittering. It was hard to breathe with a mouth full of dirt, and her nose was smashed by the pressure on her head. Sora bucked and writhed, trying to break free, but his grip was rock hard. “Mmm,” he murmured hoarsely. “Keep moving.”
Wham! Suddenly, some unseen force struck the bandit, knocking him sideways. He leapt off of her, a curse on his lips.
Instantly freed, Sora rolled over and leapt to her feet, reaching for her staff, prepared for another attack.
Her eyes searched the grass.
She spun around, dragging in breath after desperate breath, expecting an attack from any side... but nothing happened. She kept turning, looking, waiting for the blow of a fist or the swing of a sword....
But the man was gone.
The story that began The Cat's Eye Chronicles
YA fantasy*Paperback, Second Edition, 250 pages
Published April 18th 2012 by Runaway Pen
A noblewoman, an assassin, and a soul-stealing necklace....
Sora planned on running away from her wedding, but she never expected to be kidnapped! Dumped into a world of magical races, arcane jewelry and forgotten lore, she finds herself at the mercy of a dangerous assassin, haunted by an even darker past. She yearns for freedom, but he won’t let her go—not when her Cat’s Eye necklace is the only thing that can save his life.
But the necklace itself presents a problem. It is an ancient device from the long forgotten War of the Races, and its magic has the ability to steal souls. Can Sora learn to wield its power—or will the power wield her?
About the author:
T. L. Shreffler
T. L. Shreffler lives in Los Angeles, CA. She loves diversity, fantasy, romance, iced tea, long walks, philosophy, and thrift store shopping. She recently graduated with a BA in Badass (Creative Writing) and her poetry has been published consecutively in Eclipse: A Literary Journal and The Northridge Review. She works as the assistant editor for the funky and fantastic Tinsel Tokyo Magazine!
Sora's Quest was a fascinating read. From the first chapter, the story was fast-paced and action-jammed. Sora is at her wedding ceremony, ready to marry some man her father arranged, when her dad is killed in front of her. Abducted by the same murderer, Sora begins an unforgettable journey. She learns her travelling partners are Crash, Burn and Dorian. Sora also learns that magic exists and she has a very special pendant, a cat's eye, which is powerful. As the group embarks on their journey, they discover an evil being is seeking them.
When I first started reading this book, I had to keep reminding myself that Sora was a girl here--too many years of playing Kingdom Hearts video games, I did expect a boy in big sneakers holding a keyblade to materialize at some point. Seriously, by the end of book one, I knew who this Sora was and I liked her. At first a young girl accustomed to her nice, pampered life inside a castle, she had to adjust to life on the road and sleeping on the ground. She did grow and yet she remained sweet. Her buddies remained a mystery since I wasn't sure if they were the antagonist (her dad did get murdered) or not but their moments together gave the threesome a nice dynamic. With such a quick paced story, some of the character closeness I like to experience, was diminished and I didn't connect with Sora as much as I would have liked to. Some tears for her father, despite his coldness, would have been nice. Still, I did grow to like her and Dorian, Burn and Crash became unforgettable to me.
There wasn't any insta-love or romance this go round. The cat's eye premise intrigued me and the action kept my interest. The worldbuilding was well done and aptly described, though I wondered about the swamp sequence and what it had to do with the plot. The grammatical errors and places where I found inconsistent parts became a little jarring and frustrating. I had to wonder if this was professionally edited (swamp scene). There was some sadness and some changes at the end which made me glad I had the next book to dive into.
In Viper's Creed, Sora continues to grow after the violence, the murders and drama she experienced in the first book. Her cat's eye pendant has helped her out of many a mess and now she has to contend with scary visions she doesn't understand and decides she needs to find Crash to help her. I may not have been a fan's of Crash before but seeing things from his pov showed that he did have something beating in his chest after all (I think). I liked his scenes which gave insight into his mysterious background and past.
There is a new character, Laina, and she's feisty and fun. Sora deals more with her magic, becoming a better fighter, and accepting her role as savior of the land. There is more action, drama, fighting, magic, and death and I wouldn't have it any other way. The plot is beginning to take shape, answers are being given (some, not all, we need to have a reason to desperately want the third book), and there is a spark of romance. Unfortunately I don't have book three so I will have to wait to see what's next for Sora, Crash and company.
Rating: Sora's Quest, 3.5 and Viper's Creed, 4
Cover comment: Both covers are great, visually appealing and grabbing. I actually prefer the globe on the cover to her cat's eye pendant. The cover for Viper's Creed kicks butt. Dark, threatening, that knife, whoa, intense.
Book source: I received both e-books from the author in return for my honest reviews during a book tour. I also had purchased my own copy of Sora's Quest.
Also, everyone who leaves a comment on one of the tour stops will be entered in to win a custom blog design created as a collaboration project between the author, T. L. Shreffler, and Chri of Skyway Avenue Designs. This winner will be announced on the tour host site, thesepaperworldsbt.blogspot.com, on November 1st.