Blog Tour: The Moonlight Pegasus by C.S. Johnson (Review/Giveaway)

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The Moonlight Pegasus
By: C.S. Johnson

The+Moonlight+Pegasus+cover+ebook

Publication Date: July 2016
Genre: High Fantasy

SYNOPSIS

Sapphira is a desert world with little plant life, where the people live in the shadows of gray sunlight, sickened by the Dark Plague. To cure the people, the Guardian of Dreams sends the Spirit of Truth to bring the light back into his darkened world. In the form of Pegasus, he enters the world through the pure, innocent dreams of Selene, the reluctant princess and heir-apparent to the throne. Now, with her brother Dorian as king, another rebellion is stirring. All eyes are turning to Selene to bring peace through an arranged marriage. However, Selene only has eyes for her true love—her protector, Etoileon. As the rebellion unleashes its fury upon the kingdom of Sapphira and the supernatural forces collide, Selene is caught in the middle of all conflicts—the battle for her world, the battle for her love, and the battle for her very soul.

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REVIEW

The Moonlight Pegasus is a story with many faces. Its a story about love, faith, good and evil, war and family. Rightfully so, it also is quite lengthy but surprisingly also manages to keep a pretty good pacing right from the start. The world itself is set on a planet called Sapphira and revolves around kingdoms and the islands surrounding it. There would seem to be a presence of religion in terms of resurrection and faith and belief disguised in a higher entity called The Guardian that watches over the people and some levels of sacrifice for the greater good.

The Moonlight Pegasus is a bit overly long and that has to do with giving the time for these different elements to fall into place while merging together as the climax of the situation approaches. Its done in a pretty good way especially in the flow of events. At times however, it feels like one of the Chinese TV dramas, and the fairly soapy kind, in terms of the dialogue but considering the fantasy world it is set in, it seems to fit although there are some wordings that don’t seem to quite fit the characters here and there but they are not frequent.

A big element of the first half of the story is about the love between the main characters which the princess Selene and her protector Etoileon. Their roles and back stories on how they met are described and their current situation and even their feelings for each other, which really emphasizes on how those involved are the most blind, because the way the interact with each other and the words they use is almost too obvious that they have feelings for each other and yet, they both are reluctant to say anything, which is the type of drama that I personally find a tad frustrating. However, these two characters are written really well and suitably so as we see what is in their destiny by the end of the novel. The “surprise” I would expect wasn’t exactly a surprise either maybe like I said, a lot of the stuff that happens here is almost straight out of a normal Chinese TV drama, especially those set in dynastic China and dealing with royalty.

On the other hand, what is taken a little lighter and less focused on was the war side which only had glimpses of its affect and the going ons, putting the King Dorian more in the backdrop. Fact is, there was a good deal of characters as well. A lot of the story was giving space to the “good” characters including meeting Pegasus whereas, it makes the evil on the other side with only a few bits here and there in the spectrum of the story as a whole.

The Moonlight Pegasus has some issues in dialogue and some imbalance in the different elements it tackles. However, it is a fun book to dive into because of the fantasy world that it builds and the two characters leading the story.  While there is a sequel to the story, this first book does set the stage quite well while still wrapping things up so it can stand alone keeping its story contained, which is always a plus.

Goodreads score: 4

Purchase link: Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

author-pic

C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me

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Giveaway Details: An Ebook Version of the book

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Blog Tour:The Serpent-Bearer and the Prince of Stars by C.S. Johnson (Review/Giveaway)

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The Serpent-Bearer and the Prince of Stars
By: C.S. Johnson

The Serpent-Bearer and the Prince of Stars

Publication Date: November 7, 2018
Genre: Manga Style/Graphic Novel
Length: 30 pages

SYNOPSIS

A tiresome task.

A deceptive dragon.

A prince that changes everything.

Ophiuchus is a celebrated warrior of the Celestial Kingdom and a warrior among the Stars. He has been always been a dutiful servant of the Prince of Stars. So when the prince asks him to watch over the crafty serpent, Naga, Ophiuchus agrees. But as time passes and discouragement—both from Naga and others—Ophiuchus wonders if the Prince of Stars was right in asking him to take on the burdens of his task.

Will Ophiuchus honor his duty, or give into his heart’s weariness?

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REVIEW

The Serpent-Bearer and the Prince of Stars is a fantasy graphic novel set in the world of the zodiacs. This story is about Ophiuchus who doesn’t only have the feud of the rest of the zodiacs against him for one reason or another but also the Prince of Stars has burdened him with the task of monitoring Naga, a deceptive serpent who constantly is in disagreement with him. Naga is representative of the evil in the world or perhaps on a lesser note, simply a disapproving negative thoughts that become a burden over time. Through the 30 pages or so of this graphic novel, the story brings together the obvious comparison of the story’s literal burden to the heavier mental burdens surrounding a person and whether and how to let it go. That message alone is the worthy of a lot of value as it instills the positives and has Ophiuchus, struggling to let go of the burden and even embrace the positives and freedom.

With that said, to be able to deliver fairly engaging characters, especially Ophiuchus and Naga as well as The Prince of Stars all give this fantasy a nice depth and development. Its only 30 pages so both the pacing and the execution are tight. It has a lot of other characters, the rest of the zodiac notably, but they only pop in with their random thoughts and opinions. Its gives their character context and all it really does need to do.

Simple as it is, quick as the story flows by, the animation is nice but not quite at its full potential. The writing style also still has a bit of improvement to flow some dialogue better. Its not exactly manga but the fantasy elements do give it that extra perk. It also lacks a little to be a full-on graphic novel, perhaps its the art style or the story style itself. It sits in the middle. It would be nice to see C.S. Johnson take on more of these while trying to commit to either or of the styles. Still, the ideas and creative aren’t to be dismissed and it will be interesting to see what works are in the horizon.

Score: 3.5 (3 on Goodreads)

Purchase Link
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

C.S. Johnson

C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me

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Win a Print Copy of The Serpent-Bearer and the Prince of Stars
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Blog Tour: The Princess and the Peacock (Bird of Fae #1) by C.S. Johnson [Review/Giveaway]

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The Princess and the Peacock
(Birds of Fae #1)

By: C.S. Johnson

the princess and the peacock

Publication Date: January 25, 2019

Genre: Fantasy/Fairy Tale Retelling

SYNOPSIS

The first time I fell in love with Princess Mele was when I saw her smile, and I fell in love with her the second time the moment I heard her sing.

Two memories burn within Kaipo’s heart — the death of his mother, which left him alone to die, and the arrival of Princess Mele, which gave him a new reason to live. Together with his adopted brother, Kaipo seeks out Jaya, the Fae Queen who lives on the Forbidden Mountain, in order to gain the beauty he requires to win Mele’s heart. But Jaya has other plans for the scarred outcast who climbs up her mountain …

The Princess and the Peacock is the first in Birds of Fae, a fantasy fairy tale novella series from C. S. Johnson.

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PURCHASE LINKS: Amazon

REVIEW

I don’t know whether to call this novella a fairy tale retelling that mixes together elements of Aladdin with Beauty and the Beast together while changing up certain details as well. For the most part, the story here works and its especially well structured to fit the novella length. C.S. Johnson gives the characters and plot development enough depth to make it good while still having the proper pacing to make it intriguing to read. In the end, this is somewhat a story about our Peacock here, Kaipo who learns to embrace inner beauty and not view so heavily and value himself for more than his appearances. There are values of traditions, morals, loyalty, friendship, brotherhood. The positive messages portrayed here all come together nicely at the end. The characters are numerous and yet seem to serve their own purpose in the story which is always good to have.

The only issue with the story itself is the feeling that there was never much of climactic point. Things seemed to be fairly flat and predictable as the plot points would be fairly contrived and lacked a bit of natural progression. What I mean to say is that things happen, such as in the beginning, the brother and the peacock end up encountering a prince who then takes them and happens to also be going to the palace and offers them as a gift for the hand of the princess. There is also an effort to slowly reveal what makes Kaipo so in love with the princess and we soon find out. There is a whole revelation but probably because this is a fairy tale retelling of sorts, it still has a lot of similarities to other stories that makes it lack the more impactful sort of story. Its not saying that its not still pretty good because it is well-written and packs in a lot of next technical bits from character to understanding the world where its set.

Goodreads rating: 3/5 (if there was half points, this would be 3.5/5)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

c.s. JOHNSON

C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me

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Print copy of The Princess and the Peacock

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Blog Tour: One Flew Through the Dragon Heart (Favan & Flew #1) by C.S. Johnson [Review & Giveaway]

One Flew Through the Dragon Heart
(Favan & Flew #1)

By: C.S. Johnson

one flew through the dragon heart

Publication Date: December 21st, 2018
Genre: Steampunk/Fantasy

SYNOPSIS

A Chinese Legend. A British Secret. Star-Crossed Lovers with Incompatible Magic.

Brixton Flew works as a professor of wielder instruction at Rembrandt Academy, hoping to erase the regrets of his youth along with the resulting debt. But when he comes face to face with his biggest regret—the woman who broke his heart, Adelaide Favan—Brixton soon realizes his troubles have only begun.

Unable to control her magic, Adelaide knew leaving Brixton was the only way to protect him when they were younger. Now she discovers he is the key to recovering the Dragon Eyes, a legendary treasure connected to her magic and her family’s disgraced legacy—and she knows the risk is great, to both his life and her heart.

With others seeking the power of the Dragon Eyes, Brixton and Adelaide must outwit their foes and face down their families to save London from an ancient legend that sleeps beneath the magic portal in their city.

But the renewed passion growing between them may prove to be the greater peril …

One Flew Through the Dragon Heart is the first book in a new steampunk series by C.S. Johnson, blending together history, romance, mecha-dragons and magic against the glittering backdrop of 1880’s Victorian London.

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EXCERPT

“Brixton.”

His sixteen-year-old self was scurrying past the materials room when he heard his name spoken with a soft, foreign lilt. The sound broke through him like a magic spell, disrupting his intellectual musings and forcing him into an uncomfortable position.

He was in a hurry; his professor would be upset if he was late for class. As a star pupil, Brixton knew he had a certain reputation to live up to, and he had learned well not to call any negative attention to himself.

But at the sound of Adelaide Favan calling for him, he felt helpless—helplessly nervous and helplessly intrigued. It was almost as if some part of him had been waiting for her to call, and he had been more than ready to answer.

Out of guilt, if nothing else.

He nearly lost his grip on the stack of books he carried as he stumbled to a stop and glanced back at the doorway to the materials room. He could see a slim shadow at the back, where her dark skirts whipped around as she moved between stations, pulling out supplies and looking for spare coils, cogs, or anything else she decided she needed.

He did not have the faintest notion why she would be calling him. Adelaide never seemed to talk to anyone unless it was out of necessity.

“Are you coming in or not?” Adelaide straightened, looking up at him from behind a thick pair of black-rimmed goggles, the kind that magnified her eyes behind the protective glass.

Brixton felt a quick twinge of regret. She always wore them when she was working on something. He had a sinking feeling he was going to be late for class—but he stepped into the room regardless.

“I’m surprised,” she said as he tentatively approached her.

“Why? You were the one who called me.”

“Is that what I need to do to get your attention?” Adelaide put her hands on her hips as she stepped back from the table, where a box full of wires and screws and other various building materials winked up at him.

Brixton felt his face turn red. “If you’re talking about earlier, I—”

“I don’t want to talk about earlier,” Adelaide said. “You know who my father is. Do you think your friends are the first people to make fun of me because of my family?”

“They’re not my friends. Not exactly.” Brixton sighed. “They’re just people we go to school with. You don’t have to be friends with them. You just have to get along with them until we graduate.”

“Is that your plan?”

He shifted his feet as the clocks chimed loudly, the pleasant ringing turning sour in his ears. He was officially late for class. Brixton glanced back at the door.

Adelaide did not pay attention to the clock. She saw to her work, fiddling with one of the gearshifts. Brixton noticed she was also still wearing her workshop gloves. Along with her goggles, they were a semi-permanent part of her wardrobe. They were thick and black, going up past her elbows. The school issued them as part of the engineering department; Brixton hated wearing them, since the synthetic material of the gloves interfered with his ability to use magic. Adelaide was the only one who consistently wore them.

“It’s mostly my plan,” he said, finally answering her.

“Seems like a silly plan, especially for the next four years.”

“Earlier, when those girls were picking on you, I didn’t say anything—”

“I said I didn’t want to talk about earlier. People have made comments about me all my life. Getting accepted into Rembrandt two years earlier than everyone else is merely another unearned privilege in their eyes.”

Her voice was calm, but Brixton saw that her fingers, even buried in her large gloves, shook ever so slightly.

“I don’t presume—”

“But you do.” Adelaide pushed up her goggles onto her forehead again, brushing back her long black hair.

Brixton hated how he stared at her. Up close, her eyes were cloudy gray, speckled over with a silver lining. He noticed they were slanted, ever so slightly; along with her flattened nose and full lips, there were plenty of hints at her Chinese heritage. He had heard the whispers of her family, especially her father, the famous Captain Favan who led Her Royal Majesty’s Airship Force.

That was one of the main reasons he had tried to befriend her before. Brixton had approached her when she was first introduced to their class, eager to talk about her father’s legacy and how it was his dream to be in the Airship Force one day, too. Adelaide had ignored him then, brushing off his introduction.

Remembering that, he frowned. She has some nerve, admonishing me for poor manners.

He cleared his throat to give himself a moment to recover. “You should know you’re presuming that I’m presuming something. I don’t know you well enough to presume anything.”

For the first time, Adelaide softened her expression. Brixton briefly wondered if he had hurt her feelings, or if it was possible he had successfully pointed out her double standards.

She tugged the goggles down over her eyes a moment later, returning to the project before her. She said nothing as she picked up a suturing iron and began to burn a twisted bunch of wires together.

For a long moment, Brixton watched her. Despite her gloves, her movements were very precise—so precise that they almost seemed awkward.

Just like the rest of her, he thought with a small smile.

Adelaide was fourteen years old, two years younger than everyone else at Rembrandt. She had transferred into the school during the middle of their second semester, and ever since their failed first meeting, Brixton kept his distance from her, even if he continued to watch her out of the corner of his eye. He knew the others in his class teased her for her youth, her connections, and her ancestry.

He could sympathize with her some in that regard, given he received plenty of his own mockery. He was only at Rembrandt because of his scholarship. Most of the students were from the aristocracy, and the idea of rich merchants or lower-class workers—such as his parents—sending their children to Rembrandt was nothing short of scandalous.

He easily dismissed those who badgered him; he was here for an education, and nothing more.

But as Brixton gazed down at Adelaide, he suddenly wondered if she was able to do the same.

She was such a small thing. She was not only two years his junior, but she was also at least a foot shorter. The Rembrandt Academy uniform nearly swallowed up her body. He could see her vest was pinned in the back, and her long skirt was clearly hemmed. Brixton had a feeling she liked to wear the goggles on her forehead if for no other reason than they lent her another two inches in height.

“Why did you call me?” Brixton asked, daring himself to speak again.

Adelaide bit her lip, and Brixton found himself staring again.

Finally, she sighed. “I need you.”

His breath caught and his body went still. He was only able to move after she added, “I need your help.”

The words came out with a ripe bitterness in each syllable, and Brixton almost laughed at her discomfort. It was clear she never asked for help if she could avoid it.

He cleared this throat again, swallowing the last of his laughter, and nodded. “Tell me what it is.”

“I need help assembling this,” Adelaide said, pointing to the neat array of metal scraps and parts before her.

“What is it?”

“A dragon heart.”

“Beg pardon?” Brixton dropped his books, missing the table and causing them to clatter to the floor. He was certain he had misheard her as he bent to pick them up, but he was even more surprised when she laughed.

Her eyes were pushed back into slits behind her goggles, giving her a wizened, animated look as her smile widened. Brixton stared at her as he picked up his books and stacked them neatly beside hers.

“I’m only kidding,” Adelaide said, before she arched her brow. “Or maybe I’m not. Either way, I need your help with this part.”

She opened the top panel and pointed to a small knot of wires lined with alloy and copper. “This is an energy loop I’ve been working on. It’s a special type of power source. The Board wants to develop more efficient batteries, especially since the Edison Project has shown promise. Now they want to see what the wielders can do to improve it.”

“I talked with Professor Ohm about this,” Brixton said. “He wanted to find a way to generate perpetual energy. He thought electricity could possibly be infused with magic.”

“I know. I overheard your conversation after class a few days ago.”

“You did?” Brixton took the suturing iron out of her hand.

“He was dismissive of the idea as an alternative life source, but he was interested in seeing if you could figure out how to make his own theories work.”

He bit down on his cheek. He knew which conversation Adelaide was referring to, and it was one where Professor Ohm spent several minutes admonishing him for his eclectic reading tastes.

“What?” Adelaide asked.

“It’s rude to eavesdrop.”

She jutted her chin forward. “It’s also rude to ignore people who need help.”

“I don’t know if you’re saying that to make me feel bad about before, or if it’s just to make sure I stay here and help you,” Brixton muttered. “Do you care to tell me which?”

“I have an extra pair of gloves if you need them,” Adelaide offered.

He rolled his eyes as she sidestepped his question. “I don’t use them if I can help it.” He called up the power that resided inside of him. He could feel it flowing from his heart down to his fingertips, filling his palm. “I like working with my hands better. It’s easier to conjure up my talent. That’s my magic, as you might have known already. I can build things. Anything, really.”

“Well, no wonder you’re so good at this.” Adelaide pouted as Brixton undid her work. “You’re using magic.”

“And you don’t? Why are you in school to be an engineering wielder if you’re not using magic?”

“I like working with machinery,” Adelaide said. “I’m here because Rembrandt produces the best engineers in London. The fact that it’s a magical school does nothing for me.”

“Do you even have magic at all? I thought that was a requirement for coming here.”

“It is.” Adelaide went silent, and for the first time, Brixton saw her blush. With the small patch of red on her cheeks, he could just make out a light trail of freckles across her nose.

“Ouch.” He flinched as the suturing iron slipped across his fingers.

“Pay attention to what you’re doing. You don’t have to worry about my talent right now. All you need to know is that it’s not helping me fix this.” She crossed her arms and looked away.

“Right.” Brixton turned back to the item in front of him.

Available to Amazon

REVIEW

One Flew Through The Dragon Heart is the first book in the Favan & Flew series, set in a Steampunk alternate reality in London, one that filled with magicians and humans living together but with their own prejudices, perhaps fear towards those with magic and different from them. The setting itself is very good and able to really bring out this powerful setting especially for a starting point for both the characters, especially when the chapters change focal points between the two main characters, Adelaide Favan and Brixton Flew and follows them from how the met and their story, slowly revealing their present state and the deeper story that links the mysteries behind Adelaide’s magic and Brixton’s capability. Its interesting especially to see that the magic in this universe change in context for each magician as they each have their own skillset and not everyone is all powerful with powers to control everything, except perhaps when they get the Dragon Eyes which is the main “treasure” in this story. As a starting point, the stage is set very well with a good amount of foundation and a great amount for setting and back story for each of the characters, giving them enough substance to find them intriguing to read about.

Aside from that, I’m always a big fan of anyone who tries to pull some Chinese legends into their story, especially mixing Eastern with Western because it can create a nice contrast and back story. Dragons are a traditional symbol in the East, especially in Asian and because of that its a great spot to start especially giving a basis for what curses Adelaide and her family. It gives us a nice background of the families involved as well. At the same time, there is a sense of mystery and heist situation which works very well here. Its keeps the pacing fun and entertaining to read. Its a mystery and always layers to learn more about what else will happen next and the secrets involved. The writing itself carries very well.

My biggest criticism is that the romance involved here between Adelaide and Brixton always feels a bit forced. I can’t say unnecessary because its the motive behind why a lot of their story unravels because of their love for each other and its this forbidden love sort of situation. Perhaps its the familiarity of this material and how it, at times, feels very redundant and the dialogue very clunky which makes it hard (for me) to get into. There are some lines that truly feel too rigid to be a part of this story and breaks the immersion of the bigger and more dire situation presented here. There is no doubt that the relationship between Adelaide and Brixton and breaking her curse is going to be a big part in the series but hopefully the dialogue and situation will be less repetitive as they have moved on from the reuniting phase in this book.

Overall, One Flew Through The Dragon Heart is a pretty decent book. Its adventurous and mysterious and packed with a good bit of suspense. The magic in each of the characters and how it is structured from the set up of the society is all done very well and pretty intriguing to learn in general. Its a good foundation. Other than the lackluster romance here, every other element works well and sets a good foundation for future books in the series.

Goodreads rating: 4/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

C.S. JOHNSON

C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me

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