Sunday, February 11, 2018

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Of Sea and Stone (Secrets of Itlantis #1) by Kate Avery Ellison

Book Blurb:

Of Sea and Stone by Kate Avery Ellison

Genre: YA Fantasy

Release Date: February 2014

Aemi lives in a village carved from stones and surrounded by sea. She wins spear-throwing competitions in disguise and earns slaps from her spoiled mistress by talking back. She hates being a slave. She survives by remembering her mother's tales of home, a paradise called Perilous.

Aemi intends to find it.

But then, black ships rise from the sea in the night. Aemi is captured and taken to Itlantis, an underwater world of cities of glass, floating gardens, and strange and wonderful technology.

She is determined to escape, even if it means conspiring with fellow prisoner Nol, who fills her with equal parts anger and desire. Even if it means impersonating her mistress. Even if it means fleeing into the territory of the Dron, the bloodthirsty barbarians of the deep.

But when Aemi witnesses firsthand an attack by the Dron, she realizes not all is as it seems below the sea.

And Perilous might be closer than she thinks.

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I fell into step beside Nol as we headed down the long hall toward a door marked with the words INDENTUREDS’ DINING ROOM. Some of the letters were strange, but I could still read it. The written language was not too different from what I was familiar with.

Nearly a dozen servants sat at tables around the room, some eating stew from metal bowls, some talking, some half-dozing with their heads propped on one hand. The hum of voices died down as soon as we stepped into the room. All eyes fastened on us, and I felt the heat of their curiosity in their stares.

We stopped.

After a few seconds of silent staring, everyone returned to his or her tasks, and we were forgotten. I followed Nol to the stew pot. He dumped the watery meat soup into a bowl, his eyes fixed on the food. We didn’t speak, but I noticed the way his hand shook on the ladle. When he’d gotten his food, he went and sat alone at the far end of one of the tables. I went to the opposite side of the room and sank down into the first empty chair I found.

“You and the other new one don’t seem to like each other too much,” someone commented.

I looked up to see a thin-faced, brown-skinned young man with thick black hair and a scar down one cheek watching me over his bowl of food. He spooned some stew into his mouth and chewed, waiting for my response. A honey-complexioned girl with large, dark eyes and full lips sat beside him. She offered me a small smile.

“No,” I said, looking down at my bowl.

“I heard you arrived together. Do you know each other?”

“Don’t ask so many questions, Tob,” the girl beside him said. “It’s rude.”

Tob grinned. “Sorry. I had a bad fall a year ago and damaged my head, and now I can be a bit rash with my words. I don’t mean any harm. Mella here usually tells me when I’m being offensive.”

The girl, Mella, nodded at me in greeting. Her gaze flicked over me, and I had the feeling that she missed no details.

“Didn’t you arrive today?” Tob asked. He took another bite of his stew.

“Tob,” Mella said again. “Rude.”

“It’s all right. Yes, I arrived today.” I struggled to keep my voice stoic, but the words wobbled on my tongue.

“You sound sad. But don’t worry,” Tob said. “You’ll get the hang of things quickly.”

I sighed and tasted the stew. It was plain but filling, much tastier than the cubes from the ship, and I ate quickly.

“Don’t mind that mess,” Tob said as he watched me eat. “The cooks here have no finesse. They burn everything, and they’ve no imagination at all when it comes to ingredients.”

“Tob fancies himself to be a cook,” Mella said.

“Fancies? I could make a lobster pastry that would make you weep with joy,” he said. “If only they would let me touch the food.”

“I’ve heard some of your ideas,” Mella said. “Perhaps the cooks are wise to keep you away from it?”

“It’s called a shock cook,” he said. “They are popular in Primus. They make the strangest things delicious. It’s an art.”

Mella made a face. “I don’t want the word shocking used to describe my dinner, thank you very much.”

“You’d be shocked at how much you loved it,” Tob promised.

“Is Merelus a good master?” I needed to learn my place, my lines. I needed to know the lay of this land if I wanted to escape. If I wanted to find Perilous.

Tob shrugged. “He has his quirks, but he’s one of the better ones. We don’t see him much. He spends most of his time with his books.”

“He’s a scholar,” Mella said.

I wondered if Merelus was considered rich in this society, or if houses like this one were the usual fair in Celestrus. I wondered how the people of this place had come to live this way. How had they built such cities? Why did they live below the sea? But I dared not ask. I was supposed to be from this world.

“I heard you were from far away,” Tob said. “And you have an accent I’ve never heard before. Are you from one of the new colonies?”

“Something like that,” I said. “It was very remote.”

His expression sagged with disappointment as he realized I wasn’t going to chatter about the details. “Not even a hint?”

Mella poked him. “Every Indentured has the right to keep quiet about his or her past. You know that.”

Tob sighed. “True. But consider that decision carefully,” he said to me, grinning in a way that told me he was teasing now. “If you continue to be so tight-lipped about your accent, people are going to think you’re a spy for the Dron.”

“The Dron?” I shook my head in confusion.

Tob looked as if I’d just asked him what a fish was. “What clamshell have you been living in?” he demanded.

“Tob,” Mella said.

He ignored her. “The Dron. Our enemies. Blood, tears, endless promises of dismemberment? You know, those people?”

“Remote colony dweller, remember? I’ve been reclusive.”

“The Thousand Year War?” Tob tried, as if that would jog my memory. I shook my head.

“The Itlanteans and the Dron have been enemies for centuries,” he said. “Enough blood has been spilled between Itlantis’s cities and theirs to fill an ocean.”

“Why are they at war?” A shiver trickled through my stomach at the thought of all those armies and men fighting below the surface of the ocean, unbeknownst to the rest of the world.

Tob shrugged. “Does anybody even remember? I don’t. I don’t think those bigheads in Primus do, either.”

“Tob sees little value in discussing politics,” Mella said to me.

“I’m capable of a discussion,” Tob protested. “I just have no desire for one. Besides, that’s what you’re here for.” To me, he whispered, “She wants to be a scholar just like the master.”

Mella elbowed him. He yelped and shot me a grin.


My Review:

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Genre: Another-World, Mystery, Royal-Court, Survival, Suspense, Teen--

Aemi is a Thrall, just another word for a servant- but she dreams of being free and works hard to one day be able to buy her way out of her situation. After entering a competition in the place of her good friend, she gets into trouble, making her more of a pariah than normal. With the intent of laying low, she is shocked to be awakened in the middle of the night by intruders who take her and all the young men of her village as prisoners. She finds herself a captive of the fabled Itlanteans, the people said to live beneath the sea. But she refuses to accept her fate, and instead plans away to return home, no matter the cost.

I am a sucker for anything having to do with the idea of Atlantis, the mythological and very controversial lost city that legend says was lost forever to the sea, so when I stumbled across a book that dealt with ships coming out of the sea it was a guarantee that I was going to read this story. I did not realize that this was the first in a five book series, but on the plus side, all five books are already out so you can binge-read the series (which is just about the best way to read a series!) Oh and ps, all the books in the series have as gorgeous covers as this first book does, which is always a bonus when discovering a new series to get lost in!

I will admit that I kept waiting for the moment that romance became the focus of the story but I was actually pleasantly surprised to be wrong. I feel like recently ever YA story has a romance thrown into it, regardless of it helping move the plot forward, just because romance appeals (don't get me wrong, I am always a sucker for romance in my stories, but an awkward forced romance is something nobody needs!). This story dealt more on politics and intrigue, the dynamics of the world and the potential for war taking center stage for the plot. Relationships do exist in this story, but they are friendship and loyalty based, where people fight for someone because it is the right thing, and not because a romance caused their action. It was refreshing. And that is not to say that I would not enjoy a potential love in the next book... Just saying.

This was a very short fast read, at only about 170ish pages, so it is a great book to pick up when you are looking for a fast escapism read. Yet in those short amount of pages, Kate was able to create a whole underwater world full of unique devices that were so detailed and interesting that they came alive before my eyes- textured maps, gardens with different climates, oh and yeah an entire underwater society and ships that dive down to it. I have read multiple books by Kate now, all so different from each other, but I think that so far this one was my favorite. I look forward to what comes next for Aemi (oh by the way, huge twisty bombshell dropped right at the end of the book!) and from Kate.

Author Bio:

I'm the author of the Frost Chronicles, an Amazon bestselling series and source material for the adventure app game Frost by Delight Games, as well as numerous other fantasy and science fiction novels. I love putting a dash of mystery in everything I write, an ode to a childhood spent reading Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie, and Sherlock Holmes. I can’t resist adding a good twist in the story wherever I can.

I wish I could live in a place where it’s always October, but until that’s possible, I make my home in humid Atlanta with my husband, children, and two spoiled cats.

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