Cover Image: Bursts of Fire

Bursts of Fire

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Member Reviews

Thank you Netgalley for the chance to read and review this title. I will review this title at a different date.
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'Bursts of Fire' is the first book in an exciting new young adult fantasy series that fans of the genre are sure to enjoy. There were several aspects that I really liked about the book and a few that didn't quite hit the mark. I'm going to break it down for simplicity:


Characters - The characters were complex and well rounded, especially our three sisters - Meg, Janat and Rennika. They each had their own strengths and weaknesses and unique personalities to make them feel realistic. I enjoyed getting to know each of the girls throughout the book. I also liked watching each of them change and grow - both as a person and with their relationships with each other and other people. I hope the next book continues to show them as realistic and changing individuals and we get to see them grow even more.

Setting - Since this was the first book in a new fantasy series, the world building took quite awhile to set up and establish. It was very detailed and descriptive and the author brought it all to life before our eyes with tons of vivid imagery. I loved learning about the land, the history, the people, the kingdom, and all of the other things the author added in.


Plot - The plot had a few things that I didn't really like. First of all, this wasn't an especially original story line. It felt like a familiar template that the author plugged in her own characters and small details. I'm not saying it was bad, it just didn't really pull me in. I found my mind wandering and couldn't seem to stay focused on everything happening. This could also be due to the pace - I found it to be really slow. It felt like a ton of backstory (which I liked) and world building (again, I liked) but it took so long to get through everything, which I feel could have been done in a lot less time.

Writing Style - This is a major aspect for me in each book I read and can easily make or break a story for me. I almost always prefer the first person point of view for several reasons. The author chose to write this novel in the third person POV, which is my least favorite. I never feel as connected to the character(s) with this style of writing, and that was the case with this book.

Between not feeling very connected to the characters to the writing style and the pacing of the story, this book fell short for me. I thought it was going to be awesome after reading the description - I'm all about anything with magic - but I just couldn't really get into it. There were definitely great aspects of the book that I enjoyed and the issues I had were purely on my end and personal. It's my own opinion and obviously not everyone will feel or think the same. I do recommend this to fans of YA, fantasy, and epic fantasy.
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Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for this Review copy of Bursts of Fire by Susan Forest. 
Although Bursts of Fire was well-written high fantasy with what should have been intriguing magical elements I found it to be a slog to get through. There wasn’t anything glaringly wrong with a the plot or the characters but it lacked any of the tension, humor, romance and action a reader requires to get hooked into the fantasy world of warring kingdoms. So you are left with just warring countries which I do not find fascinating. 
Unfortunately, it was not for me.
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Unfortunately had to DNF because I lost interest. It was off to a good start, but the writing style didn't appeal to me and I found it difficult to get immersed into the story.
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I’m completely at an impasse with this book. On one hand, Bursts of Fire has everything I am looking for in a new fantasy series: great cast of characters, intriguing and original plot, refreshingly unique magic system and EPIC world building. On the other hand: I just couldn’t connect. How do you accurately review a book that has everything you love and need but just could not, for the life of you, get into it? 

Answer: Stay as neutral as possible.

Honestly, there is not a single thing I could say to explain why I didn’t love this book. Susan Forest has written what I’m sure is the beginning of an incredibly epic fantasy journey and she has done it 
beautifully! This world is so vivid that I felt I could just jump right in and join in the fun. Even the political and religious aspects, while important to the story, didn’t overshadow or take away from other parts of the book which I find a lot of authors tend to struggle with. There was an excellent balance and, as 
someone who tries to shy away from those overly political and religious worlds, I appreciate it!

If anything, my connection to Meg, Janat and Rennika (especially Meg) could play a big part in how impartial I am to this story. The sisters just didn’t draw me in as the heroines I was expecting to love and that disconnect most certainly affected my enjoyment. At the same time although these siblings could 
definitely use some development as large players in this game, which would make creating a connection to them easier, you have to keep in mind that Bursts of Fire is just the first book in a LONG journey so if the author overdeveloped them now….there would be no room to grow as the story moves forward. If this was a standalone or even a trilogy I would say that these girls would be a deal breaker for me but I 
know the author must have big plans for them in the future so an early disconnect is a small price to pay 
for what I’m sure will be a very big pay-off.

I know this review has been about as helpful as a spoon in a snowstorm but I really wanted the point to hit home that even though I didn’t enjoy this book, I also didn’t not enjoy it. I truly believe that Bursts of Fire was case of right book at the wrong time and it has so much potential that I’m not quite ready to give up on it just yet. I will be revisiting Susan Forest’s Addicted to Heaven series but I think I’m going to 
hold off until it is complete, or at least close to. My gut tells me that this is something I will love and I want to make sure I’m prepared when the time comes for me to hop on that ride.

Also…that cover is gorgeous so if the rest of this series looks like that, I’ll be happy to have them on my shelf until I’m ready for them.

Thank you to NetGalley and Laksa Media Group for providing me with a copy of this book to read and 
give my own, honest opinion
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A lot of potential, but sadly this wasn't a winner for me . I couldn't connect with the characters and that was my main issue. It wasn't for me but it might be for other readers of the genre!
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DNF @25 %

The premise of this book is very interesting, and I was actually enjoying the beginning. This is a world where magiels assist the kings and the people of the Kingdoms to cross over to Heaven after they die. Hundreds of years of peace between the Kingdoms were followed by an unpredictable attack. And now all magiels are either dead or hiding in fear for their lives.

I was enjoying this book until I just read about penis... I mean... isn't this supposed to be a YA book?! Was it absolutely necessary to include this random scene that added nothing to the story?!

I tried reading a bit more but quickly realized that that one scene put me off the entire book, and also I have no intention to read this series. It wasn't all too bad, and the idea is very cool. I also loved the parts where we followed the three magiel sisters, but it didn't grab my attention enough for me to continue.
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The start of a brand new fantasy series, Bursts of Fire took me completely by surprise - in a good way. 

Oddly, I've seen other reviews mention the slow pacing as a negative - maybe it's because I've been a reader of some truly old school fantasy, but in my mind a slower pace suits the genre better, particularly when you're setting up such a grand and intricately detailed world as this book does. From the magic systems to the politics of so many kings, kingdoms and religious systems, it's clear that an immense amount of planning has gone into this book. The foundation is there for a long-lasting, truly epic series.

But back to this particular book. It all kicks off when Meg, Janat and Rennika's mother realises that noone can see the future of their kingdom past a year's time. We come in to the story when that year is almost up - putting the reader very much in the shoes of the three young heroines as we grappel together to come to an understanding of what is going on, and who can be trusted in this new and completely unknown situation. The girls start off young and unprepared for the task at hand - I've seen other reviewers complain about their initial immaturity, but again; this is a journey! And watching them develop, standing together and learning who to rely on and how to navigate themselves through the world was all the more satisfying for such a rocky start.

Altogether this was one of the most promising starts to a series, particularly a YA series, that I've had the pleasure of reading in a long time. I'll absolutely be here, waiting for the next one!
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While I was extremely excited about this novel, I DNFed @ 35%. I do not feel like I would be able to give an adequate review.
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I wish I could say that I liked this more than I actually did. I loved the set up of the story in the blurb. I think I am waiting for someone to make the next best thing when it comes to YA Fantasy. This wasn't it. I loved the idea of the world.  Something I see many stories lack is the development of a new and magical world where magic is outside of wands, spells, or elementals or at the very least more than just that. 

I liked how the author introduced magic as separate types instead of magic vs non-magic. However, the issue with YA is that the characters in the story are just...not all that appealing. I've read better developed characters, I've read better writing fantasy's just hard to appreciate something when the writing is frankensteined together. I just didn't like this in the end.

Not a fan of the romance, the sibling dynamics, or how they interact with other characters. I almost wish this were more of a Charmed type book, because that would have been more interesting with this kind of story. 

Title provided via NetGalley for an honest review.
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This was a bit of a tough read for me. The writing was amazing. The world building was definitely my favorite. There was a very well developed system of magic along with the affects of what happens when you use it. It has a lot to do with time. The religion is well-developed and is a major point of the plot of this book. While the world building was great I just couldn't fully get into this book. I feel it disempowers women with the reasoning of its based on medieval society so of course women can't do much. Now, there are some stronger women in the beginning, but then they're dead or they don't really get much attention. Meg complains of wanting to be involved in the war, but as a woman she had to watch her sisters and then men consistently talk over the girls. Maybe this is meant to be because our main characters are still younger women with little experience, but it just really bothered me. 
If you like darker, adult fantasy with war and rebellion you could definitely enjoy this book. I especially liked the magic system, but personally this book just wasn't for me.
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It starts off slow and kind of dense, but once the action begins, it's hard to resist the story as it drives forward. It reads as a true epic, one that makes you feel the world really has been reshaped as you read it. Would recommend.
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It took me a bit to get into this one, the beginning is a bit rocky and confusing. The main characters where a bit cookie cutter and too similar to me, I couldnt really enjoy this book because of that. The world building was absolutely gorgeous which redeemed it a bit.
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So, first off, look at this cover. It is so freaking gorgeous; I can’t even put I into words. 

So, Bursts of Fire promises to be a good old fashioned fantasy novel full of plots and intrigue, but its so much more. The tale of three sisters who have been banished from their home for being the daughter of the local magiel (a magic user who can send their consciousness through time is about the best way to describe them) who is now being hunted by the King. They are initially accompanied by their Nanna, but this soon changes when she sacrifices herself to ensure their freedom.

Forest writes each girl with such passion and precision that each has their own independent personality from the very get go. The eldest, Meghra takes on the role of the caretaker for the tiny family and is willing to do anything to survive; the majority of the novel features Meg at the centre of attention and she is the main sibling whose consciousness moves through time. Janat is the middle child and seems a little blasé about the whole ordeal for the most part; she always looks to her older sister for advice but is willing to take risks in order to remain unfound by the kings men. Which brings me to Rennika, the youngest child. Although she is the smallest and recognised the least for her abilities (her mother made her look like a full worldling), this tiny tween is a magical powerhouse when she needs to be.

Most of the story focusses around the three siblings avoiding notice by the guards and King’s people in order to survive, so there is a lot of stealth operations that go on rather than the sword fights and magical battles one would usually expect from a fantasy novel. For the most part however, this doesn’t affect the pacing or how  enthralling the story is. Yes, there are slow points whereby I got a tad bored, and others where I was a little confused as to how I got there but it was generally well paced and fairly even in its intensity.

Here is where I want to discuss Forest’s masterful world building talent. Whether in a busy town square or hidden away in a random persons home, the reader is drawn into the story, able to feel the closeness of the buildings, smell the scents of a busy kitchen. Having gone into Bursts of Fire, oblivious to Forest’s previous works, this expert worldbuilding took me by surprise and really drew me in.

Overall it felt like a well-paced novel with a few twists and turns thrown in for good measure. While not the punchiest and attention-holding novel of the year, it was still worth the read.
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Actual Rating - 3.75 rounded to 4

Unique and imaginative, Bursts of Fire by Susan Forest is an entertaining and riveting fantasy story.

This book is an interesting and fun read, but I did struggle with it in the beginning. That being said, once the story picks up, I found myself really intrigued by story and the characters. Meg, Janat, and Rennika are complex and fantastic heroines and I enjoyed seeing them grow and mature in their own ways. The world building is magnificent and so mesmeric. I love the different kingdoms, the magical aspects, the political parts, and everything else in between. The plot is slow at times but still entertaining and engaging enough to keep me reading until the end. While there are certain aspects of this book that definitely could have been explained better or improved, I think Forest created a wonderful and exciting fantasy story that will have readers racing to the end to find out if the sisters can restore peace and balance to their world. 

The characters are far from perfect, but they’re quite fascinating, likeable and realistic. Even though I never fully connected with the sisters, I enjoyed getting to know them and seeing each of them work through their own issues and problems. They definitely have some sibling rivalry and jealousy, but I love the bond the sisters share and how they come together to be there for each other.  

Susan Forest has created a captivating fantasy adventure that burns into something quite amazing. This book is a story about power, loss, heartbreak, religious beliefs, loyalty, forgiveness, love and so much more. Even though not everything worked out for me, I enjoyed the majority of this novel and I think Forest's imaginative storytelling is worth the read. I also love the emotional depth and how Forest tackles sensitive real life problems and issues. Bursts of Fire definitely has enough intrigue, action, and thrill that will appeal to plenty of readers and I'm excited to see what happens next.

I received an advance reader copy of this book from the author and publisher via Netgalley for participating in a Blog Tour hosted by TLC Book Tours and in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Bursts of Fire by Susan Forest is a fantasy novel, the first part of the Addicted to Heaven series. This is Ms. Forest’s first book.

The Falkyn sisters find themselves out of their castle when their kingdom has been invaded. The princesses are heirs to the imperial magiel of the Kingdom of Orumon, or as they know her – Mom.

The role of the imperial magiel is to protect the kingdom’s people from the afterlife by using a precious Prayer Stone to call upon the Gods.  The invaders want to destroy all the Prayer Stones, except one.

The story starts very quickly as the author starts to build her world. Full of war, magic, brutality, and three young women who have to grow up quickly. After the fast paced, and a bit choppy, start, Bursts of Fire by Susan Forest settles into itself with a story that incorporates elements of fantasy, old religions, love and hate.

The three sisters, Meg, Janat, and Rennika, find themselves in a harsh and brutal world which they are not prepared for. They keep missing their old lives, which they slowly realize they’ll never have again. It takes over half the book for each sister to find her place in the world, and come into her type. It’s a revelation to them that they can be defined by who they are, as oppose to what they are.

The author did a good job world building, the imageries are concise, yet descriptive. It was not difficult to figure out what she was talking about, or how she imagined the world to be.

I really enjoy books about magic (Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennet), but I felt magic in this book was more in the background than it was a prominent aspect of the story. Ms. Forest built up the magic slowly as her characters discover it for themselves, but sadly there simply isn’t enough detail in this aspect for the reader to understand what’s going on. The author kept talking about the religion and “Heaven”, where magicians can talk to their God using the magic stone. Frankly I still have no idea what that’s about.

The strengths of this book is the world building and the coming of age story of the three young ladies – I just wish they weren’t princesses, a bit too cliché for my taste and the world building.  Even though the main characters didn’t work for me, I did enjoy much of the novel regardless of a few glaring plot holes and pacing.
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If you love epic YA Fantasies, this series seems to be the perfect addition to your TBR.

Right away, I was captured by the writing as we are thrown into this kingdom being overthrown. When no one listens to their mother, the three sisters are quickly swept away from the castle and into the real world.

Each one is guided into a vastly different path, and it was so fun to see it all play out. There are assassins and fighting and magic all forming this great plot. It was engaging and allowed me to fly through the pages.

If you love reading politically-driven fantasies, this will also be a powerful series to read.

I gave this one 4 out of 5 stars. One of the sisters started to get on my nerves, but I think it was a purposeful ploy by the author to hone in on their different personalities and the hurtles they had to individually jump over while on the run.

I can’t wait to see where the next book takes us!
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I signed up for this tour because, well, epic fantasy has always been one of my loves, and this book looked interesting. I’ll admit that the series title, Addicted to Heaven, gave me more than a bit of pause, but as it turns out, the heaven that people are addicted to is nothing like contemporary Western versions of heaven.

Bursts of Fire is very much a part of the epic fantasy tradition. There were times, in fact, when it felt like specific epic fantasies. But it does such a good job of exploring both its new facets and riffing on the stories from which it sprang that it made for a darn good read.

And I was on an airplane and this book was next in my queue. Bursts of Fire turned out to be a terrific book to transition from Worldcon back to “real life” as I traveled from a place where everyone was talking about SF and Fantasy and back to the so-called real world where those discussions are not quite so commonplace.

The story of Bursts of Fire begins in the way that quite a few epic fantasies begin – where the kingdom is under siege and the heir to the throne gets smuggled out of town ahead of the rampaging horde.

And that’s where the differences begin.

The heir isn’t the heir to the throne. And the heir isn’t an heir. Instead, the heiresses to the king’s magical advisor, all three of them, sneak out of the capital with the help of their nanny. Who they still need, as the oldest girl is 17 and the youngest is 11. And none of them have the remotest clue about how to manage on their own – or how to manage period without people waiting on them hand and foot.

They’ll have to figure it out – and somehow manage to grow up, in the midst of a civil war where they are being hunted by both sides. The forces of the usurper believe that all magic is evil – and the rebels just want to use them for their powers.

Powers that they mostly aren’t trained to use. They’re alone, desperate, and on the run. But at least they have each other. Until they don’t.

Whether they can figure out the right course to save themselves, save each other, and save the people that they feel responsible for, is a race against desperation and despair.

And just when they think they might have a chance to right at least a few of the wrongs – they discover just how bad things really, really are.

Escape Rating B+: Bursts of Fire turned out to be a terrific airplane book. Anything that can keep me distracted for 3-4 hours of an 8 hour flight is very much appreciated. And this certainly did.

As has been a relatively recent but also extremely welcome trend in epic fantasy, Bursts of Fire is a heroine’s journey rather than a hero’s journey. Or in this particular case, three heroines’ journeys. At the same time, the story begins on a familiar note, as the chosen one – or in this case chosen ones – are thrown from their original setting to make lives for themselves, and oh-by-the-way save the world.

Part of what does make this a bit different is that there is no mentor character to provide guidance – or for them to rely upon. They lose Nanny almost immediately. She was the one their mother gave the plan to, so the girls are on their own, lost and desperate.

Also very, very young and completely out of their depth. Only the oldest, Meg, has a real clue about just how bad things are and just how much things have changed for them. Little Rennika is too young to understand, and middle-sister Janat is too self-absorbed.

Janat is a character that I never warmed up to, and her self-absorption and unwillingness to grasp their situation continues throughout the story, making this reader grateful that the relatively mature Meg is the primary point of view character.

Meg understands the stakes earliest. Rennika is young enough to adapt. Janat is a problem from beginning to end, a problem that it looks like is only going to get worse.

What’s gone wrong with the kingdom did not make much sense at first. The reader is dropped into the middle of the story, just as the girls escape – and no one seems to know why their ally has suddenly attacked. As the story progresses, it becomes clear – for select definitions of clear – that no one really does know why he went off the rails. They just see the effects – and those effects are gruesome.

War is hell, and civil war is particularly hellish. The rebels want peace and they want to go back to the way things were – as much as is possible after two years of war. The girls, who have become young women fired – or broken – in the crucible of that war want to save as many people as possible, want to reverse the sudden upwelling of prejudice against magic users fostered by the usurper and his advisors, and want to take up the purpose that their family has always undertaken – to visit heaven and intercede with the gods on their people’s behalf.

The magic system of this world is fascinating and different, and their gods are real and act upon their world in ways that can be seen and measured if not countered. The primary manifestation of that magic is the magic users’ uncontrolled shifting through time. Magic has a price, and becoming unmoored from the time you are living is part of that cost.

The glimpses that all three sisters receive of their past, present and future are sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes heartening, and always confusing. It is as much of a curse as a gift, but their ability to intercede with the gods is both powerful and necessary in this cosmos.

That the usurper is determined to break that connection powers his mad campaign against his former allies – and the reasons for that determination are shattering for the kingdom, the reader, and his heir.

That the heroines are all very young leaves this book, and presumably the series it begins, balanced on the knife edge between young adult and adult fantasy.  The protagonists may be young adults, but the situations in which they find themselves feel adult in their consequences.

In the end of Bursts of Fire, we, and the characters, know more about the reasons for the fractured state of their world, but are no closer to a resolution. This is a story about a world that is broken – and it is not made whole by the end. There must be future books in this series, and I’m looking forward to reading them.
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You don't know how much I don't like giving negative reviews - especially when I see the potential in the book. And here is the case of "Bursts of Fire" which could have been book that would be rated as four or five stars read.
The story started well - the prophecy was told, but it hadn't changed anything, even when it was known... strange right? Main characters - three sisters - weren't exactly likable to me, as I found then not believable with their behavior.
The way BoF was written hadn't allowed me to connect dots of the plot or understand at least some motives as it was WAY TOO fragmented for my liking. Maybe with adding some more events and connections, it would make a better impression on me?
This opinion is my own, some people may love this book
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Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Bursts of Fire by Susan Forest. I’ve voluntarily read and reviewed this copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I have a lot of mixed feelings about Bursts of Fire. It’s a fantasy with a rich and complex world, wich I loved. But the story felt all over the place. There were perhaps too many elements which resulted in, at times, confusing storylines.

It also took me a while to get into the story but I did end up enjoying it. Bursts of Fire has promise to be the first installment of an entertaining and unique fantasy. 

As for the characters, it took a while before they grew on me. Rennika is the only character that captured my interest immediately. Meg grew on me as the story progresswd but I did not connect to Janat. I do applaud Susan Forest for writing such a real and complicated sisterly bond. It really felt like the heart of the story. 

I am curious to see where this story will go next.
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