Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: Black Dawn by Mallory McCartney

 

Black Dawn by Mallory McCartney

Published by: Clean Reads Publishing

Publication Date: February 14, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Page Count: 180 pages

Rating: 3/5

Source: eARC from Xpresso Book Tours

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The end of an Empire, The rise of a Queen

Emory Fae enjoys leading a quiet, normal life. That is until two mysterious, and handsome soldiers show up at her apartment, and the life she knew is instantly whisked away. Memphis Carter and Brokk Foster come from the magical and war ridden world of Kiero, and upon Emory’s arrival she will discover she is the long lost heir to the Royal Line and is thrown into the Black Dawn Rebellion with a dynamic role to ignite the rebels and reclaim her throne.

With both men being darkly woven in her past Emory uncovers hidden secrets, a power held long dormant, and will soon realize there are worse things than supernatural humans, love, loss, betrayal, and a Mad King.

Some things are better left in the shadows.


Receiving an eARC from Xpresso Book Tours does not affect my opinion of this book.

“We have all sacrificed something, even you. To have lost everything but have hope to rebuild the future is the strongest weapon in the world.”

I’ve been wanting to find new authors and series, so when I read some reviews of this book, I was interested to sign up for a tour. Black Dawn is Mallory’s debut novel. And even though it has a few rough edges, Mallory introduces you to an intriguing world brimming with magic and tainted by betrayal.

Emory Fae believes she’s your typical young woman. Nothing exciting happens in her life, until two men show up at her apartment and tell her she’s the lost heir of a war-torn world filled with magic. These men, Memphis Carter and Brokk Foster, hope she will be the flame for the Black Dawn rebellion, eventually lead them to peace, and reclaim her throne. However, Emory discovers her past holds more secrets than she can imagine. And she may not want to uncover them.

Mallory doesn’t give you a dull moment. From the first chapter, she jams in non-stop, high-paced action. One of my concerns of the book is that it can be fleshed out more much than just 180 pages. I felt that some scenes were too fast, and the first half of the book seemed too rushed. But don’t let my issue persuade you not to pick up the book though. The book improves in later chapters. And I was eager to see what happens with Emory.

The author also offers you a taste of this series. And, hopefully, with more sequels to come, you’ll get to see what happens to these characters. Emory, whose parents started the Academy for children who possess magical abilities and were killed by one of their pupils, now called the Mad King, discovers she too also has powers of her own. Being thrown into a new environment, and a new world, will test anyone’s psyche. But she finds out that she made the decision to have her mind wiped and to be sent to Earth. Well, I’m not surprised she has a hard time adjusting to the news.

I had a hard time warming up to Memphis, and I’m not the only one to feel the same. His treatment of his girlfriend, Nyx, throws me off. And I feel that he manipulates everyone around him, especially Emory, who he’s loved since they were children. Now Brokk I can get behind. His character arc takes a drastic change than what I imagined it might take. So I’m curious to see what Mallory will do with him.

With political plays, betrayals, and unanticipated plot twists, Black Dawn is a solid start to a new fantasy series.

 


About the Author

Mallory McCartney currently lives in London, Ontario with her husband and their two dachshunds Link and Lola. Black Dawn is her debut novel, the first in a series. When she isn’t working on her next novel or reading, she can be found dog grooming, book shopping and hiking. Other favourite pastimes involve reorganizing perpetually overflowing bookshelves and seeking out new coffee and dessert shops.

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Giveaway

Here’s your chance to win a free signed copy of Black Dawn! The contest is international and ends June 22. ENTER HERE.

 

 

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Review: The Darkest Passion by Gena Showalter

The Darkest Passion by Gena Showalter

Published by: Harlequin

Publication Date: June 1, 2010

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Fantasy

Page Count:

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

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For weeks, the immortal warrior Aeron has sensed an invisible female presence. An angel-demon-assassin has been sent to kill him. Or has she? Olivia claims she fell from the heavens, giving up immortality because she couldn’t bear to harm him. But trusting – and falling for – Olivia will endanger them all. So how has this mortal with the huge blue eyes already unleashed Aeron’s darkest passion?

With an enemy hot on his trail and his faithful demon companion determined to remove Olivia from his life, Aeron is trapped between duty and consuming desire. Worse still, a new executioner has been sent to do the job Olivia wouldn’t.


“Because you aren’t who you think you are. You aren’t what everyone else believes. You might have delivered countless deaths but you love more fiercely than anyone I’ve ever known.”

Do you know how long I’ve been waiting for Aeron to redeem himself?! Okay, clearly not as long as other diehard Gena fans who have been with her from the beginning, but bloody long enough. He has been through enough, dammit. He deserves his happiness. And obviously, Gena blesses this glorious man with just that. About time!

Weeks have passed since Aeron, keeper of Wrath, has finally gained some semblance of control over his demon, after Cronus revoked the order to kill Danika and her family. Tormented, guilt-ridden, and angry, he senses another presence though. Olivia, a fallen angel sent to assassinate him, willingly offers her immortality to be with him. Duty or love may win out, but their union may be disastrous for all involved.

Gena skillfully weaves together betrayal, redemption, temptation, and sacrifice into her fifth instalment. This sequel is heartbreaking as it is sensual. Since the first book, I’ve been wondering how Gena will play out this storyline. Aeron battles with his demon, who demands he punishes any mortal or immortal who has done harm. Sometimes he doesn’t win. And with failure, he adds another tattoo to remind himself of his defeat. Until now, I haven’t liked this character as much as I have the other ones.

Gena now incorporates Christian mythology into her series. At first, I wasn’t sure if the blend between Christian and Greek lore might work, but surprisingly, they mesh together seamlessly. With the change in lore, Aeron questions mortality. He simply doesn’t understand how people face death yet still want to live. He also buries himself in his guilt. He feels the need to protect Paris, who gave up his chance to get Sienna back so Aeron could gain control over his demon.

What balances out this angst and guilt is forbidden allure between Olivia and Aeron. He fights her advances. And he refuses to touch her because he doesn’t deem himself worthy. I’m all for a demon falling for an angel. But you can’t have a Lords of the Underworld novel without the ultimate conflict that divides the main characters. Since Olivia failed to kill him because of his connection with Legion, Lysander, angel and mentor to Olivia, demands Olivia to choose: stay with Aeron and become mortal, kill him and become an angel once again, or watch another assassin kill him. What is a woman to choose? Clearly the Lord covered with tattoos.

In this book, Aeron finally grows as a character. I haven’t seen a lot of his normal side nor seen who he is as a Lord. And I enjoyed how he fends off Olivia. She gives off a timid confidence that draws you in. Since Reyes’ book, Legion, a green-scaled demon from hell, has stayed by Aeron’s side. Aeron sees her as a daughter. This demon wants nothing more than to boink this Lord. The little hellion with her affinity for tiaras almost claims my heart, until she messes up. I know why she makes this bargain, but understanding her reasons behind it doesn’t diminish my need to punt her across the room.

With the war between the Hunters and the Lords intensifying, I’m eagerly waiting to see what’s next. Gena’s writing demands your time and your attention. So be ready to stay up all night!

Review: The Darkest Whisper by Gena Showalter

5509920The Darkest Whisper by Gena Showalter

Published by: Harlequin

Publication Date: September 1, 2009

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Fantasy

Page Count:406

Rating: 4/5

Source: Gift


He is the keeper of Doubt and his entire world’s about to be rocked.

Bound by the demon of Doubt, Sabin unintentionally destroys even the most confident of lovers. So the immortal warrior spends his time on the battlefield instead of the bedroom, victory his only concern…until he meets Gwendolyn the Timid. One taste of the beautiful redhead, and he craves more.

Gwen, an immortal herself, always thought she’d fall for a kind human who wouldn’t rouse her darker side. But when Sabin frees her from prison, battling their enemies for the claim to Pandora’s box turns out to be nothing compared to the battle Sabin and Gwen will wage against love.


“They were connected, one being, fused together. She belonged to him, and he to her.”

I haven’t known of Gena and her Lords of the Underworld series for long, but I can say, without a doubt, that she masterly carves out her own piece of paranormal romance and sets her writing above the rest.

Sabin, keeper of Doubt, constantly battles with his his demon, who likes nothing more than to break a person’s confidence. He prefers the battlefield over any bedroom. Instead of finding another artifact in Egypt, he and his fellow Lords discover immortal women who Hunters have kidnapped, raped, and impregnated to create hybrid children. There Sabin finds Gwendolyn the Timid, a harpy, who tempts him more than his own demon. But what they uncover is more sinister than they imagine, and their mission to find the other artifacts may lead them to more danger.

So you guys know I’ve been following Gena for the past few months. And within that time, I’ve basically created a road map of when I should buy the next sequels. In the past, I’ve not been a huge supernatural romance reader, but I can always make an exception for this glorious author.

The Darkest Whisper goes down a darker and grittier storyline. I wasn’t expecting this turn, but I’m glad Gena pushes this book that way. I have been hoping to see the sinister side of her world. Even though the Hunters blame the Lords for every evil in our world, the Hunters themselves may possibly overshadow these cursed immortal warriors. The Lords look for redemption, yet the Hunters commit appalling acts so they will achieve their need to eliminate this so-called threat.

In the last three books, you haven’t gotten a lot of scenes with the Hunters. They often stay in the background. In this instalment though, they play a stronger role when they recruit people, train them, corrupt them, and turn them into expendable cannon fodder. Gena perfectly illustrates the depth of human cruelty. These Hunters kidnap, sometimes mutilate, and rape immortal women so they will breed and eventually train a new line of warriors who will despise the Lords. Darkest Whisper gives off a slight X-Men feel to it, but it doesn’t detract from the overall storyline. Gena knows how to write an antagonist you love to hate.

Within all this darkness lies the love story between Sabin and Gwen. These two are polar opposites. I enjoy that quality in them though. I haven’t been a huge fan of Sabin, leader of the Greek faction. I thought he is too arrogant. But he, and his sarcasm, has changed my view on him. I don’t blame Sabin for staying away from women. Since his last relationship ended with the suicide of his lover, he doesn’t want to unleash his demon on anyone. That woman was the wife of Dean Stefano, a hunter sworn to avenge his wife’s death. This backstory plays heavily with Gwen and Sabin’s relationship. Gwen, a harpy descended from Lucifer, balances out this cocky bastard. Both character stand on their own but complement each other when together. The banter between Sabin and his demon, Doubt, will make your snort and laugh at the most awkward times. I know I did. And throughout the story, Gwen grows into her own.

I am dying to see what Gena offers up next in the her instalments. But since she hasn’t disappointed me yet, I’m sure to love whatever she writes.

Review: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Publication Date: March 8, 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy

Page Count: 698

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

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It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?


Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.


“There was beauty in the idea of freedom, but it was an illusion. Every human heart was chained by love.”

Lady Midnight is a poignant story with a forbidden love at its core. Cassie shows the darker side of her unforgiving and sometimes cruel world and opens up new arcs that, I’m sure, will attract Shadowhunter lovers who have been dying to see what happens to Julian, his family, and Emma.

Five years have past since the Dark War, where the Downworld was severed in two, and Shadowhunters suffered major losses after Clary’s brother, Jonathan (Sebastian) Morgenstern, waged war with them. Emma Carstairs, who lost her parents in that war, looks for retribution, and when she finds similar deaths matching her parents’, and the Fair Folk presents her and Julian, who hopes to find a way to save his brother Mark, with an offer to find the killer, she can’t turn it down. The only problem is that she may be falling for her parabatai.

Cassie’s earlier series have always been my guilty pleasure. And while I enjoyed some of her past work, Lady Midnight, the first instalment in Dark Artifices, has a stronger potential than the others. Cassie injects darker tones and arcs that have kept me on the edge.

But what I enjoy the most is how Cassie explores the faerie world in more depth, builds her characters, represents the LGBTQ community, and makes this book a character-driven piece. Because of the alliance with Jonathan, the Fair Folk lost its seat on the Council and has no protection or lands. And all Shadowhunters and the Downworlders must follow this new treaty, the Cold Peace. The Council, especially the Shadowhunters, ostracizes these people. And while the war is over, tension is now rising and causing more havoc. Cassie plays off and mirrors current political tensions in our own society.

What shines in this novel is the Blackthorn family (and in extension Emma). In City of Heavenly Fire, the Blackthorns face a devastating lost when they discover that the Wild Hunt took possession of Mark after the Seelie Queen and Jonathan gave him up to Gwyn, the leader of the Hunt. And once the treaty was enacted, their sister Helen, who is also half-fae, is banished to Wrangel Island.

 

“These pictures are my heart. And if my heart was a canvas, every square inch of it would be painted over with you.”

For the past five years, Julian—with the help from his parabatai, Emma—has been holding his family together. I cannot express how much I enjoy reading about this broken yet determined character. That poor boy just breaks my heart. And his struggle and secrets will break yours. I love both his and Emma’s character developments. And Tiberius, who also has autism, snags what’s left of my heart.

Mark has always stuck out to me. I’ve been waiting to read his story when I last read COHF. Since the Wild Hunt took control of him, pain riddles his past. Sometimes reading his scenes was difficult to get through. But Cassie captures PTSD quite well. His love interest comes from his years in the Hunt. Unfortunately, I cannot stand Kieran, son of the Unseelie King. Fight me on my opinion, but their connection seems controlling. I felt as if Kieran owns Mark, and I hated this arc. If that love interest was written in a different way, I’d support it. Mark’s other potential love interest is with Cristina Mendoza Rosales, who I think is a breath of fresh air.

Emma stands out from the rest. Even though she lives with the Blackthorns, she survives off her vengeance alone. It fuels her need to avenge her family. She reminds me a little of Jace. Fans of the Shadowhunter world haven’t seen the disastrous consequences of parabatais falling in love. Obviously, Emma and Julian travel down this road, which has a chance to split their family apart.

With this new Shadowhunter series, Cassie gives you a dark and gritty storyline, a forbidden love, intriguing plot twists, and characters who will surely melt your heart. I’m curious to see what she has next in Lord of Shadows.

Review: The Darkest Pleasure by Gena Showalter

2712967The Darkest Pleasure by Gena Showalter

Published by: Harlequin

Publication Date: December 22, 2009

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Fantasy

Page Count: 368

Rating: 4/5

Source: Gift


Reyes is a man possessed. Bound by the demon of pain, he is forbidden to know pleasure. Yet he craves a mortal woman, Danika Ford, more than breath and will do anything to claim her–even defy the gods. Danika is on the run. For months she’s eluded the Lords of the Underworld, immortal warriors who won’t rest until she and her family have been destroyed. But her dreams are haunted by Reyes, the warrior whose searing touch she can’t forget. Yet a future together could mean death to all they both hold dear.


“He was dark, she was light. He was anguish, she was innocence. He was wrong for her in every way, and yet, when she looked at him, his entire world felt right.”

As I sink more into the Lords of the Underworld series, I see why readers love it. Mix in steamy sex scenes that will make anyone turn crimson, throw in tortured men, put in an intriguing mythology, and create a fast-paced story that will surely keep readers enthralled, and you get a dedicated following.

Reyes, Keeper of Pain, cannot seem to wipe Danika from his mind. Separated from her family, she has been on the run for months. Tormented by her dreams and her fear of Aeron, the Keeper or Wrath, she strikes a deal with Hunters, when they kidnap her. She will infiltrate the Lords and give intel on them, but lines  blur when, once Reyes saves her from the Hunters, she discovers he and the other Lords are more than what the Hunters accuse them of, and her attraction toward Reyes grows. But she must choose: side with the Hunters and purge this world of these demons or give in to her desire for Reyes. Unfortunately, the choice is much harder than Danika thinks.

 

“This means nothing,” she said.
“Less than nothing,” he lied.
“I’ll hate myself later.”
“I hate myself now.”

After reading the Darkest Kiss, I find The Darkest Pleasure refreshing. I’m rather fond of Reyes and Danika’s relationship. She, after all, is one of the four Ford women Cronus tasks Aeron to kill, but the Lords and her family do not understand why. What I love about their relationship is how they try to avoid it and each other. Obviously, you get a forbidden love vibe from them, but it works perfectly for this story. Reyes refuses to tie himself to any woman because his demon, Pain, influenced his former lovers and often tainted and changed them. This broken Lord just tugged at my heartstrings.  Since Gena been hinting at their relationship since the first book, The Darkest Night, I’ve been eagerly waiting to see how Gena plays out this storyline. And she doesn’t disappoints.

I’ve come to expect the most outrageous plot twists and character arcs from Gena. She goes from Ashlyn sacrificing her life so Maddox’ death curse will be lifted to Anya giving up her All Key to save Lucien. I don’t how she pulls them off, but I constantly feel I have whiplash once I’ve finished her books. And I enjoy how she cleverly weaves them in effortlessly. Now I realize why she has such a strong following. But one particular arc she includes in this instalment nearly turned me into an emotional mess. Since the death of  Sienna, Paris’ development has turned bleak. And given that his book is the ninth, I have a long way to sympathize with this character. She also throws in Aeron’s, which I’ve been hoping to read, as well.

What I love about this sequel is that you get to know the Lords better. You witness the brotherhood the Budpest faction has for one another, and finally the Greece faction gains the opportunity to rekindle the bond they had with the others. The banter between each character and the rich mythology spark my interest and make me want the other books more.

 

“Hope is a demon worse than your Pain.”

Gena focuses on the characters in Darkest Pleasure, and I think in doing so makes it stronger than the previous stories. I will easily admit I love most, if not all, of these characters. But what I look for is their development and struggles. And I want to see how they grab a hold of you and capture your attention. Reyes stands out from the other warriors. Pain controls him, yet he shows Danika nothing but safety and kindness. He chooses her over his brother. Reyes’ demon doesn’t scare Danika, nor does it tempt her. From the other two love interests in Lords of the Underworld, she gains my respect the most because of her strength and her undying will to live and to fight.

I think I can safely say Gena has gained a new follower. And I wonder what she else will pull off in this captivating paranormal romance.

Review: Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh

23308087Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh

Published by: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Publication Date: May 16, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Page Count: 416

Rating: 4.5/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she’s quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she’s ever known.


“I’ve never been angry to have been born a woman. There have been times I’ve been angry at how the world treats us, but I see being a woman as a challenge I must fight.”

Wow. Plot twists don’t always surprise me or catch me off guard, but Flame in the Mist has taken me for a magic-filled journey that I wasn’t expecting. Renée creates a culturally rich story I don’t want to leave. And I’m not sure how to express my love I have for this book.

After surviving a botched attack, Mariko, daughter of a samuri who seeks a higher station in life, infiltrates the Black Clan, a ruthless gang hired to kill her on her way to meet her betrothed. A hidden alchemist and inventor dressing as a peasant boy, she is determined to discover why she was almost murdered and who paid the Black Clan to go forth with her death. But when her plan goes awry, the clan takes her prisoner. There she meets the leader of the clan, Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, Okami, and realizes that secrets and lies enshroud these two and the life she has always known isn’t what she thought it was.

 

“Sometimes we must fall forward to keep moving. Remain motionless—remain unyielding—and you are as good as dead. Death follows indecision, like a twisted shadow. Fall forward. Keep moving. Even if you must pick yourself up first.”

Renée throws in touches of Tahir’s Ember in the Ashes and a dash of Robinhood. I’m not convinced of the Mulan connection though. But I easily fell in to her book and couldn’t get out. The only things keeping me from it were sleep and, well, life. I’m not always a fan of fast-paced fantasy novels. Sometimes some scenes are lacking what I crave. But she paces this book beautifully. She captures the setting in such a way that I could immediately imagine what I was reading and adds just enough magic to spark my interest. I love her writing. It isn’t grandiose. It is straightforward, but it also takes you a magical adventure. Hidden agendas, political deception, secrets, lies, plot twists, and slow burning romance will captivate readers who look for a story that stands out from the rest.

Do you know what I look for in the literary world? More women empowerment. But more importantly, I look for male characters who aren’t afraid of women who fight back and are willing to support them. In some stories, you get women tearing down others. Why? Tell me how women shaming helps us. It doesn’t. Now that we have that issue behind us, Flame in the Mist exudes women empowerment. Renée’s book had me dancing in my chair and quietly yelling, “Yes!” Bless Renée for incorporating it into her book.

No, I cannot say I am an expert on Japanese mythology, culture, or traditions. I feel that Renée has honoured them though, and she certainly brings them to the forefront of her writing. You see the attention to detail she weaves in, and I enjoy how this culture stands on its own. She also puts in Japan-inspired creatures that kept my fangirl screaming. The jubokko, a vampire tree, may just be my favourite. A VAMPIRE TREE, people. Have some respect for an author who writes that in.

But what shines above all else are her characters. I rarely say that I enjoy all characters. I usually find a flaw I can’t stand or a character development that doesn’t make sense, but I love hers. No characters were needlessly added for a filler. Each one adds to the story. Mariko’s quiet demeanour and resolve allow her talents to be through life. But don’t let them fool you. Behind them, Mariko‘s a force no one should go up against. Her family members underestimate this alchemist, and in doing so, they set her on a track to prove her worth. I adore her. The odd calls to odd, I say. She refuses to let the world bend her and to change her to what she family wants her to be.

Okami, the Wolf of the Black Clan, creeps up on you. Authors will always grab my attention when they write a tortured, silent, yet argumentative man who likes nothing more than to test the main character. Lord help me if I find this kind of man. I’ll be done for. He moves the story along and adds intrigue to it as well. You get glimpses of Takeda Ranmaru. But what you see interests me. Both men—hell, all these men live by a code—are connected by their father’s past. They have untold stories, and I hope Renée explores them further in the sequel.

Flame in the Mist may be my first story I’ve read from Renée’s repertoire, but I hope to read her previous work and truly hope to read more from her. She has developed a beautiful craft that will take her far. I cannot wait to see what she will do for the sequel!

Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

23299512This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Published by: Greenwillow Books

Publication Date: July 5, 2016

Genre: Yound Adult, Fantasy, Crime

Page Count: 427

Rating: 4.5/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.


“You wanted to feel alive, right? It doesn’t matter if you’re monster or human. Living hurts.”

From the moment I heard of This Savage Song, I’ve been hooked. For years, I’ve been hoping to find a refreshing take on a monster story. You and I have seen everything. But Victoria brings a new twist to fantasy and takes her spin to another level.

Kate Harker wants nothing more than to be a monster so she will gain her father’s respect and earn her rightful place by his side. August Flynn wishes to be a human, yet he’s a Sunai, who harvests souls through songs. Both live in a divided city, where violent crime breeds monsters. An opportunity arises that allows August to turn spy by watching over Kate. But when she discovers his true identity, both are thrown together and must escape after a botched assassination attempt.

Victoria’s eloquent prose captures you immediately. Victoria masterly layers in cleverly written twists into her coming-of-age story. Just to take it up a notch, she then injects music, which adds more to this complex book. But deadly political trickery plays a pivotal role. And yet you want to turn the next page and see what happens to these two teenagers.

Their lives cannot be more juxtaposed. Kate, while finally arriving in V-City, lives in grandeur and paid-for protection in the North, while her father, Callum, controls his monsters. August lives in the South side of the Seam, where he constantly hears screams and gunshots, and his father, Henry, and his men risk their lives to protect humans. I love the contrast Victoria slides in between these two characters. She reverses the gender roles in her new series. Kate, the daughter of a crime boss, prefers not to be human. She’s rather turn into a monster, like her father. And Victoria surprises me when she makes August, the son of a man who tries to keep his city together, more human than people. These sixteen-year-olds have grown up to be anything but teenagers. They have seen horrendous acts, and they’ve also committed some themselves.

I was hesitant to read a YA novel set in a school atmosphere. I prefer a YA novel that has no connection to one. However, Victoria plays with that setting in a unique way. Set in a future dystopian backdrop of the former United States, the first instalment in the Monsters of Verity series takes place more than a decade after the Phenomenon, which cleaved a city in two. Victoria opens up a corrupted and violent world, and through her captivating writing, she lets you witness the atrocities that walk the streets of V-City.  

Both Kate and August stand out against this evil. These main characters connect. And why shouldn’t they since they’ve been sheltered by their parents and must live up to the expectations placed on their shoulders. Their connection is what attracts me to this story. Kate sees August as a monster, yet she also sees herself in him. They’re polar opposites, yet they experience the same struggles. Both their character developments shape this book into a fantastic YA novel. You may expect some romance in this urban fantasy, and I feel there is some inklings of it, yet Victoria doesn’t bring it to the forefront of the story.

Victoria’s reimagining of monsters also draws you in. Each monster possesses a certain power: the Sunai steal souls by drawing out a tainted soul and is the rarest out of the three, Corsai feed on flesh and bone but cannot be out in light, and Malchai are undead creatures that feed on blood. Where have these beasties been all my life?! You gain my respect when you create new creatures that keep me on my toes.

She also builds a world where violence is paramount and prevalent. Violence takes centre stage. This theme may not sit well with readers, but I think she wants it to scream at people. You cannot say our society has improved over the last few decades. The way she addresses this problem impresses me, and I hope she continues with this theme in This Dark Duet.

I couldn’t put this book down. This Savage Song is the first book of Victoria’s I’ve read, but I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel and wanting to buy the rest of her series. Call me an instant fan.

What did you think of This Savage Song? Are you a fan of Victoria’s work? Let me know in the comments!

Review and Giveaway: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Published by: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: May 2, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Extent: 720 pages

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

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Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.


“But for my home, for Prythian and the human territory and so many others … I would clean my blades, and wash the blood from my skin. And I would do it again and again and again.”

Have you ever avoided writing a review simply because you know the series has come to an end? I’m facing that problem right now. Sure, Sarah is continuing with more stories in the ACOTAR world, but I want more from Feyre. Her future is still playing out. But with this instalment, Sarah creates a powerful and captivating finale that will break your heart, make it swell, and emotionally destroy you. I don’t expect anything less from her. I’m drained to the point where I need a year to heal before I read the next instalment.

Feyre, High Lady of the Night Court, returns to the Spring Court so she will bring down Tamlin and collect any information she can find to end this looming war. But as this High Lady-turned-spy plays this deadly game to discover how the Hybern King will destroy Prythian, she tests herself and her people while they race to track down allies and find ones in unexpected places.

Sarah incorporates more history of Prythian, the other courts, characters, and mythology. She teases you with just the right amount of backstory. Power plays, fae politics, and complex character developments just dance off the pages. I find writing this review difficult because I am emotionally wrecked. I laughed. I snorted. I bloody cackled (and you know the exact scene I’m talking about). And I bawled more than I care to admit. I’m just getting into Sarah’s books, but I’m impressed with how she puts in these many arcs in a single story and juggles these many characters with ease. She was thrashing me from one chapter to the next, and I had moments where I had to put down the book so I could catch my breath.

 

“The great joy and honour of my life has been to know you. To call you my family. And I am grateful—more than I can possibly say—that I was given this time with you all.”

I don’t know how much more I can marvel at the Court of Dreams or the Inner Circle. But I do. And I swear my bat babies broke my damn soul. If I were to scream to the world of how proud I am of this family, I couldn’t properly show my love for it.

 

“But for my home, for Prythian and the human territory and so many others…I would clean my blades, and wash the blood from my skin. And I would do it again and again and again.”

Feyre slays in this book. She transforms from a human who gives up her life for the beast and is then turned into broken fae who possesses a human heart to the Queen of the Night, who bows down to no one. She grows into a character who I admire and never want to forget. She has carved a piece into my heart, but she isn’t the only one.

 

“I would have waited five hundred more years for you. A thousand years. And if this was all the time we were allowed to have…The wait was worth it.”

Rhysand gives more than he has in his past. He’s willing to sacrifice himself to protect his his family and people. He nearly stopped my heart at his sacrifice. I can’t write without tearing up about it. I thought I cherished him before, but this book completely shatters my love I have for him.

 

I don’t know how, but I love Cassian more than I had at the end of ACOMAF. This glorious Illyrian almost rivals Rhys. Almost. I need more of him. I cannot wait to read more of his journey after this war. Mor, and her revelation, just seals my heartache for this book. Her history is riddled in pain, and yet she still fights for a country that may shun her. I swear I held my breath when she broke down. That little firedrake, Amren, is a hellion, and the friendship budding between her and Nesta keeps you on your toes. And do you know how long I’ve waited for more Azriel? Finally! But I just hope he finds his happiness in future books. I truly do. And here comes Nesta. My second queen may just burn down this world and not blink an eye. I can’t help but mention the friendship Az has with Elain. I squee every time I think of it. Both Nesta and Elain are characters I wonder what they have to offer. You get glimpses, but I hope I get more of their POVs. And my little fox, Lucien, REDEEMS himself. Yes!

War breaks people, their souls, and their bodies. Sometimes, though, it unearths their greatest strengths: hope, family, love, and redemption. Sarah shows the brutality of war. She doesn’t shy away from illustrating the consequences of people’s actions and choices they make. She doesn’t sensationalize it, doesn’t glorify it. And in doing so she cements herself as an author who I look up to.

And I love how she also includes more LGBTQ storylines into ACOWAR. But my one complaint is with how she wrote one in particular. She hints to a ship that may or may not exist, even though she throws you clues to it in ACOMAF. So my problem is with Sarah, not that storyline. Even if her characters hide their sexuality, these arcs should flow organically, not just be throw in to the mix like an afterthought. But I’m happy she includes the character’s development. But her representation of certain LGBTQ characters is a little hinkey.

I own only a few books that have stuck with me over the years. I can list them on my right hand. And this series takes a spot there. Sometimes it’s hard to find a book that challenges me, makes me question my worth. But A Court of Wings and Ruin forces me to think of what I’d do in Feyre’s situation. And I don’t think I’d change a thing for her. More importantly, ACOWAR shows you that, even in the darkness, even in your bleakest time, you find yourself, redeem yourself, and never bow down to anyone. I wonder what Sarah has in store for the next books.


Giveaway

Here’s your chance to win a copy of the Indigo exclusive edition of A Court of Wings and Ruin, which has the special endpapers with Charlie Bowater’s illustrations! ENTER HERE.

 

The giveaway runs from May 18 to June 6 at 12 am (EST).

 

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Mini Reviews: Adulthood Is a Myth and Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Andersen

Adulthood Is a Myth by Sarah Andersen

Published by: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Publication Date: March 8, 2016

Genre: Comic Strip, Adult, Humour

Page Count: 109

Rating: 4/5

Source: Friend’s stash of books

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Are you a special snowflake? Do you enjoy networking to advance your career? Is adulthood an exciting new challenge for which you feel fully prepared? Ugh. Please go away.

This book is for the rest of us. These comics document the wasting of entire beautiful weekends on the internet, the unbearable agony of holding hands on the street with a gorgeous guy, dreaming all day of getting home and back into pajamas, and wondering when, exactly, this adulthood thing begins. In other words, the horrors and awkwardnesses of young modern life.


Okay, I admit I don’t read many comic books or strips. But I’ve been a fan of Sarah’s work for years, well before she published her first book. Thankfully my friend bought both her books, and within an hour I blew through them.

Even though the strips are simplistic, I love how Sarah captures what people think, how they feel, and how they are all the same, regardless of what they believe. She takes you on an unbelievably hilarious adventure of a girl’s journey through life.

I can’t count how times I giggled while reading this book. And I haven’t devoured a comic book so quickly in a long while. Sarah takes these complicated adult problems all readers face daily or fear, and she turns them into some sort of therapeutic release for her followers. I relate to her characters, feelings, fears, and thoughts on every day things. From sniffing books to commandeering men’s hoodies, she makes her readers relate to each other so that they can realize we aren’t so different.

I will always look for more of Sarah’s work. She speaks to my inner introvert and bookworm (dragon tyvm). I think my only negative of the book is that it’s too short. Besides that issue, I love her strips. And I’ll eagerly await more of her illustrations.

 


Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Andersen

Published by: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Publication Date: March 7, 2017

Genre: Comic Strip, Adult, Humour

Page Count: 128

Rating: 4/5

Source: Friend’s stash of books

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Sarah Andersen’s hugely popular, world-famous Sarah’s Scribbles comics are for those of us who boast bookstore-ready bodies and Netflix-ready hair, who are always down for all-night reading-in-bed parties and extremely exclusive after-hour one-person music festivals.

In addition to the most recent Sarah’s Scribbles fan favorites and dozens of all-new comics, this volume contains illustrated personal essays on Sarah’s real-life experiences with anxiety, career, relationships and other adulthood challenges that will remind readers of Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half and Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. The same uniquely frank, real, yet humorous and uplifting tone that makes Sarah’s Scribbles so relatable blooms beautifully in this new longer form.


Sarah is my spirit animal or my queen; I’m not sure which one, though. The anti-social, hate-filled woman in me squeals when I find “my people,” as in my fellow introverts. Sarah touches on bullying, self image, relationships, female problems, procrastination, and social awkwardness. While I like the first comic strip book, I feel that Sarah connects this sequel in a better cohesive way.

What I would give to sit down and talk with her about life. You get a better understanding of who she is and what issues make her uncomfortable. She addresses many social problems she battles with. And all I see is a reenactment of my life. How can I identify with a woman I haven’t met sometimes astounds me. But somehow I do, and while looking through Goodreads, I’ve realized many other readers feel the same.

 

She’s not afraid to discuss social anxiety. She combines her humour with her anxiety and turns the latter into a platform for her to talk with other people who suffer from it. So I respect her for pulling off that accomplishment. Big Mushy Happy Lump is a light and airy read that hooks you from the first strip. I can’t wait to see what Sarah has to offer next.

Wrap-Up: April 2017

Lost Souls by Kelley Armstrong

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’m a huge fan of Kelley’s Cainsville series, so I was giddy to find out Sub Press would publish a novella from it. Kelley mixes in her fae stoyline with the folk tale of the hitchhiking lady who vanishes without a trace. And she throws in Gabriel and Patrick POVs, which I was waiting to read. She knows how to spin a tale to make it her own. And now I’m more eager to read Rituals.

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Sub Press | Book Depository

 

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A dark and gritty world, a ruthless matriarch, and three sisters who are pitted against each other are what you’ll get with this new YA fantasy series. Surprisingly, I like it a lot. Kendare puts in enough intrigue to spark any reader’s interest. The theories for the sequel are still running through my mind.

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The Darkest Night by Gena Showalter

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Hello, new addiction. We’ll be the greatest of friends. I blame you, Beth, for causing this chaos, but I’m eternally grateful you bought the next three books to stave off my obsession. Gena injects Greek mythology, cursed immortal warriors who house demons, and steamy sex scenes. If you’re a paranormal romance lover, get this book.

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This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Our dark actions turn into monsters? A strong female lead and a monster who doesn’t want to be one? Sign me up for this series because I’m impressed with Victoria and her book. I don’t always feel that way, but she has created a unique world that I’d love to visit again. And now I understand why she has such a strong following.

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A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Come on, I had to read this book again. At this point, I think I’ve moved past the addiction stage. You get faeries, betrayal, self-discovery, love, an intriguing story, and one of the best sequels. I don’t think I’ll get enough of this series.

You can find my review here. And watch out for my review of A Court of Wings and Ruin!

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