Blog Tour Review: Genesis 2.0 by Collin Piprell

 

Genesis 2.0 by Collin Piprell

Published by: Common Deer Press

Publication Date: October 5, 2017

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian

Page Count: 660

Rating: 4/5

Source: eARC from Common Deer Press

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A nanobot superorganism lays waste to the Earth. Is this the apocalypse? Or does the world’s end harbor new beginnings? Life will always find a way. Though some ways are better than others.

Evolution on steroids and crack cocaine–the most significant development since inanimate matter first gave rise to life. You can’t predict novel evolutionary developments, you recognize them only after they emerge.

Then you have to deal with them.


“Immortality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be”

Stop, take a step back, and marvel at this creation. I want to pick apart Collin’s mind because his writing is beyond what I imagined. Collin takes science fiction and flips it upside down. So get ready, world. Here comes Genesis 2.0.

The last survivors of the human race have been lied to. Now their lives have changed, and they must learn to live in a world they don’t understand. Problem is that Brian, the original human malls operational manager (MOM) and general badass who wreaked havoc in the first instalment, is on the warpath with the self-aware artificial intelligence, Sky, who’s in bit of a hurry to reboot herself, and now the heroes may run out of time to save themselves and their loved ones.

I usually write my reviews within the first day or two after reading, but when I finished this book, I had to adjust my thinking, digest what I’ve read, and somehow wrap my head around this impossibly creative world building. Collin adds layer upon layer, and each one is unbelievably complex in its own right. He doesn’t just stick with one arc, whether story or character. He throws in multiple storylines, and somehow, they combine together to make a captivating science fiction story. He makes me want to read that genre.

At first, Collins throws you in a new environment with new characters. Son and his family live in mondoland, the real world outside of the generated realities and the former malls. He, one of the few people to be born after a virus that made everyone sterile, eventually meets up with our favourite characters Cisco and Dee Zu, two tests pilots. And that is where everything goes to hell.

Mondoland, the remnants of our old world, isn’t what MOM, or Sky, made it out to be. No superorganisms are out to kill the rest of the human race. And now since the malls, where the last survivors of humanity lived, are non-operational, and the main characters’ world is completely turned upside down, they must survive in a landscape they’ve never lived in.

Beyond the world building, Collin excels at writing a deeply flawed yet compelling character. Even Sky, the AI, shows her humanity, yet you want to die as much as Brian. But what stands out the most is Cisco and Dee Zu. They lose everything, they realize their lives were built on a lie, and yet they create an incredible bond. I enjoyed reading their scenes, even though they were short. And I’m dying to see how their future plays out in the third novel, which, if you haven’t figured out, I want right now.

I don’t always read science fiction, but I think Collin has convinced me to jump into that world. So here it goes.

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Blog Tour Review: Unwrap Your Candy by Jesse Miller

 

Unwrap Your Candy by Jesse Miller

Published by: Common Deer Press

Publication Date: September 10, 2017

Genre: Literary Fiction

Page Count: 250

Rating: 4/5

Source: eARC from Common Deer Press

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Thom’s life has a soundtrack. Unseen glass phalluses–thousands of them–whirring softly along conveyer belts on the other side of the factory wall. The snap and splash of eggs against plaster. The scratch-fizz-tang of cigarette lighters being flipped again and again. A thousand throats swallowing a thousand swigs of beer; a thousand sets of lungs choking on a thousand French inhales. Hard fists sinking into soft flesh; soft chunks dropping onto hard sidewalks. Plop-flush-drain repeat. And moonsong, high above, forever calling and calling, “Stud, rub her with the Stud Rubber.” If only it were so simple.


I’ve received an eARC for an honest review. Receiving one doesn’t affect my opinion of this book. I would also like to thank Common Deer Press for sending it.

 

“Barriers are only so effective. Sometimes things just leak through, even if you hold them back.”

You know when a book leaves you speechless, and you’re not sure how to properly express your enjoyment of it? Well, I’m in that particular situation. From the first opening scene, Jesse will show you what he’s made of.

A literary fiction that teeters on hilarity, intelligence, and downright fun, Unwrap Your Candy is a treat for any reader looking for the next unique read. Thom decides to leave his job at a local condom factory, all the while losing his sanity in the process.

Jesse beautifully crafts each sentence and transports you to Thom’s frame of mind. You can’t help but be impressed by the level of detail and precision Jesse puts in his story. I felt as if you might not get that attention in a book about a condom factory worker, but I was wrong. With Jesse’s writing, you see who Thom is as a man who slowly loses his mind.

Jesse’s prose illustrates the passion and ultimately the respect he has for the literary art form. Some constructions are out there, yet you never lose the appreciation for the final product. But don’t think of this book as pretentious. It isn’t. You see the dedication he weaves in each chapter. His lyrical storytelling pulls you this way, then that, and somehow, some way, you come to a satisfying conclusion at the end. And I enjoyed the adventure. It isn’t linear; it isn’t chronological. It’s organic.

One scene that sticks out the most to me is how Thom, whose life is essentially falling apart, consoles a coworker’s widow. I can’t decide why it has, yet it speaks to me, especially when Thom doesn’t quite know how to help this greiving man. And while several characters, like his girlfriend, Samantha, coworkers, and father make appearances, the story itself focuses solely on Thom and his eventual path. Maybe other authors may have developed the secondary characters, but Thom is the main focal point in this literary fiction. And I appreciate that detail to this character.

Jesse isn’t afraid to break the writing mould. So keep a look out for his future books!

 

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Review: The Darkest Surrender by Gena Showalter

The Darkest Surrender by Gena Showalter

Published by: Harlequin

Publication Date: September 27, 2011

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Page Count: 426

Rating: 5/5

Source: Purchase

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Possessed by the demon of Defeat, Strider cannot lose a challenge without suffering unimaginable pain. For him, nothing stands in the way of victory. Until Kaia, an enchanting Harpy, tempts him to the razor’s edge of surrender.

Known among her people as The Disappointment, Kaia must bring home the gold in the Harpy Games or die. Strider is a distraction she can’t afford because he has an agenda of his own-steal first prize, an ancient godly artifact, before the winner can be named. But as the competition heats up, only one prize will matter-the love neither had thought possible.


“He held fire in his arms and he desperately wanted to be burned.”

Gena takes the essence of paranormal romance and cranks it to a thousand. The Darkest Surrender will take you on a pulse-pounding ride and won’t let go!

Strider, the keeper of Defeat, wants nothing more than to not find his mate. But when Kaia Skyhawk, a harpy, tempts him more than any other woman, he knows he’s in trouble. Yet he reluctantly agrees to be her temporary consort for the Harpy Games, which he can’t lose, or he might never find the Paring Rod again.

Sarcasm, witty banter, stubbornness, and a tantalizing love story create such an entertaining novel that will surely hook any hardcore Gena fan. I read the eighth Lords book back in August, and it stuck with me ever since. Gena has a way to write tortured characters, but with Strider, she doesn’t go that route. Strider is a dangerous, deadly, and steamy Lord who will win at everything, if not, he suffers horrendous pain at the hand of his demon. He tempted fate when he thought he was falling for Haidee, Amun’s woman, but he doesn’t know what he’s walking into when Kaia chooses him as her consort.

So don’t expect the tormented storyline, because you won’t get it in this sequel. Strider has the biggest ego and isn’t afraid to flaunt it. And Kaia is his equal in every way. Their love story will give you relationship goals. Gena sometimes sways away from the original storyline of finding the artifacts that can save or kill the Lords. In this sequel though, while she now incorporates that arc and also focuses on the romance, she seamlessly combines the two.

In the Darkest Whisper, fans of the Lords of the Underworld were introduced to harpies, but they haven’t entered that world fully. So don’t worry. Gena doesn’t disappoint. I’ve been waiting to see how this world works, and let me tell you: don’t piss of a harpy, or you’re in a world of hurt. In this instalment, Kaia, nicknamed the Disappointment, must compete in the Harpy Games, where harpies battle each other to win a prize and bragging rights. This year, the Paring Rod, an artifact that rends a soul from a body, is said prize. But her past comes back to haunt her.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the banter and fighting between Strider and Kaia. They’re fire and oil, and somehow they work together perfectly. What surprises me the most is how Strider steps up and becomes the man Kaia needs. Some readers say that Kaia is the star of Strider’s book. But I disagree. Strider needs a woman who is his equal but isn’t afraid to put him in his place. He isn’t looking for redemption. Kaia transforms him into the man he should be. Their character developments make the book and set it apart from the other Lords books.

If you’re looking for steamy love scenes, banter that will make you laugh throughout the night, bigger egos, and a sizzling romance, don’t miss this book. I cannot get enough of this book, and I highly recommend it to any paranormal romance readers. Lords of the Underworld is getting better and better.

Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: Wings Unseen by Rebecca Gomez Farrell

 

Wings Unseen by Rebecca Gomez Farrell

Published by: Meerkat Press

Publication Date: August 22, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Page Count: 320

Rating: 3/5

Source: eARC from Xpresso Book Tours

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To end a civil war, Lansera’s King Turyn relinquished a quarter of his kingdom to create Medua, exiling all who would honor greed over valor to this new realm on the other side of the mountains. The Meduans and Lanserim have maintained an uneasy truce for two generations, but their ways of life are as compatible as oil and water.

When Vesperi, a Meduan noblewoman, kills a Lanserim spy with a lick of her silver flame, she hopes the powerful display of magic will convince her father to name her as his heir. She doesn’t know the act will draw the eye of the tyrannical Guj, Medua’s leader, or that the spy was the brother of Serrafina Gavenstone, the fiancee of Turyn’s grandson, Prince Janto. As Janto sets out for an annual competition on the mysterious island of Braven, Serra accepts an invitation to study with the religious Brotherhood, hoping for somewhere to grieve her brother’s murder in peace. What she finds instead is a horror that threatens both countries, devouring all living things and leaving husks of skin in its wake.

To defeat it, Janto and Serra must learn to work together with the only person who possesses the magic that can: the beautiful Vesperi, whom no one knows murdered Serra’s brother. An ultimate rejection plunges Vesperi forward toward their shared destiny, with the powerful Guj on her heels and the menacing beating of unseen wings all about.


Destiny awaits these three characters. With a good dose of fantasy and a danger that threatens two countries divided, Wings Unseen will keep you guessing until the very end.

With a kingdom split in two, three people—Vesperi, a noblewoman who possesses a lethal power; Janto, a prince; and Serra, the fiancée to the prince and a seer—must work as one to fight an evil that jeopardizes both their countries. But their shared fate faces a deadly path, and they must set aside their turbulent past in order to save their people.

Getting into this story was somewhat hard for me, and writing this review may prove harder. But the overall story sounds intriguing, and the cover hooks you in immediately. And while Wings Unseen is the author’s debut novel, it contains some good aspects for an interesting novel. Rebecca has captured the character’s voices rather quickly. And her writing also improves throughout the book and seizes your attention so you want to read more and find out what happens next.

The characters and their development are the highlights of this story. And I enjoyed how Serra, Janto, and Vesperi transform. However, I find the relationship among the three convoluting. The one character who stood out from this confusion is Serra, and surprisingly I sympathize for her because of the path she must travel. Giving up the man she loves so she can save her people, only to watch him fall for the woman who kills her brother, made me tear up. But I enjoyed her storyline, and I eagerly awaited her chapters.

At the beginning, I liked Vesperi, and by the end, I was expecting more from her. She uses her power, ruthlessness, and past as a way to get away with things. I wanted to like her. I truly did. She has potential to rise above her past and use it for good. Yet she doesn’t.

Same as Vesperi, I enjoyed Janto from the start. He doesn’t use his power as a prince to control others, he seems like a caring man, yet he lets destiny choose who he should love. His character falls flat when he decides to call Serra the “love of his life” while he can’t stop touching, dreaming of, and looking at Vesperi. By the end, I was disappointed in that character arc. The attraction between Janto and Serra is more believable than it is with Vesperi. But these characters’ growth is rather surprising and will draw readers in though.

The author creates a world with two countries that are divided. You get a glimpse of this rivalry in some scenes, but I didn’t get the world building that I expected. Even with some flaws, Wings Unseen kept me wanting to read more. I was invested in the story and needed to know how it unfolds.

 


Author’s Biography

In all but one career aptitude test Rebecca Gomez Farrell has taken, writer has been the #1 result. But when she tastes the salty air and hears the sea lions bark, she wonders if maybe sea captain was the right choice after all. Currently marooned in Oakland, CA, Becca is an associate member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Her short stories, which run the gamut of speculative fiction genres, have been published by Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Pulp Literature, the Future Fire, Typehouse Literary Magazine, and an upcoming story in theDark, Luminous Wings anthology from Pole to Pole Publishing among others. Maya’s Vacation, her contemporary romance novella, is available from Clean Reads. She is thrilled to have Meerkat Press publish her debut novel.
Becca’s food, drink, and travel writing, which has appeared in local media in CA and NC, can primarily be found at her blog, The Gourmez. For a list of all her published work, fiction and nonfiction, check out her author website at RebeccaGomezFarrell.com.

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Review: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Published by: McElderry Books

Publication Date: May 23, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy

Page Count: 701

Rating: 3.75/5

Source: Purchase

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Emma Carstairs has finally avenged her parents. She thought she’d be at peace. But she is anything but calm. Torn between her desire for her parabatai Julian and her desire to protect him from the brutal consequences of parabatai relationships, she has begun dating his brother, Mark. But Mark has spent the past five years trapped in Faerie; can he ever truly be a Shadowhunter again?

And the faerie courts are not silent. The Unseelie King is tired of the Cold Peace, and will no longer concede to the Shadowhunters’ demands. Caught between the demands of faerie and the laws of the Clave, Emma, Julian, and Mark must find a way to come together to defend everything they hold dear—before it’s too late.


“We fear things because we value them. We fear losing people because we love them. We fear dying because we value being alive. Don’t wish you didn’t fear anything. All that would mean is that you didn’t feel anything.”

I went into this book thinking that the storyline will eventually go dark. And it does. But what I expected does not compare to what I got. The second instalment in the Dark Artifices, Lord of Shadows will shatter your expectations, divide the already fractured Shadowhunter world, make you ugly cry, and change the Downworld forever.

Even though Emma Carstairs has slain her parents’ murderer, she faces a more troubling situation: the love she has for her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn. A love that’s forbidden to all parabatais. But as she dates Mark so she can convince Julian she doesn’t love him, the faerie courts stir up trouble. Mark, Julian, Emma, Christina, and the rest of the Blackthorn family race to find a way to protect their own and hope to prevent a war among all Shadowhunters and Downworlders.

I raged, I yelled, and I cried once I finished this book. I saw the heartache weave through each page and path these characters take, and yet I’m so conflicted! And I have a hard time rating Lord of Shadows because it has obvious flaws in it, but it took me on an emotional ride I haven’t felt in awhile. I warn you now that Lord of Shadow is a tear-jerker. It will demand all your emotions and tears.

Shadowhunter lovers will know where I stand. Like I said before, Cassie’s work is like a Russian roulette for me. I don’t know if I’ll like her next piece. While I enjoyed the book, some storylines were drawn out too long, long chapters were draining, and some scenes were questionable.

But Cassie’s writing has improved over the years, and I appreciate her attention to detail to the expanded faerie world, the Julian-and-Emma arc, the adorable Kit-and-Ty relationship, and the overall tension the Downworld faces. This hostility among the Council, the Cohorts, and the Centurions heavily reflects our current political environment. And what I love most of YA books and authors is how they show our flaws in our society and aren’t afraid to speak up. I have to give thanks to Cassie for standing up.

I find writing this review without tears challenging. Cassie knows how to rip out your heart. And the characters’ progression throughout this sequel is hard to read, yet each one captivates me. That endearing Mark will always bring a smile to my face. I personally want him to separate from his potential love interests. I want him to find himself, but the love triangle with Mark, Christina, and Kieran prevents him from doing so. I see a new side to Kieran, and while I still hate what he has done, I received a better perspective of him.

Besides Mark and Emma being my favourite characters, Christina shines above them all. But I hope to see a forceful side to her in the next book. She may just be the Shadowhunter who gets rid of the Cold Peace, but if she wants something, fight for it. I was waiting for her to do so. The one trio that surprises me the most is Livvy, Ty, and Kit. I loved reading their scenes, and their dynamic plays off the page rather well. Finally, finally, we see the backstory to Diana and her possible love story. You have no idea how much I squeed. And Julian and Emma come last, as always. I’m still hesitant with them. Their arc worries me, and I don’t see happiness in their future, which I find disheartening because they deserve it the most.

Surprisingly, Lord of Shadows represents many pieces in our society, from sexuality, mental illnesses and conditions, and diversity. I haven’t seen this much representation in one book alone, and I love how it naturally flows through the story.

If you honestly think Cassie’s first and second series are heartbreaking, prepare for this book. Stock up on your Kleenex and hope you don’t break down. I can’t wait to see what Cassie has in store in the finale.

Review: Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Published by: Delacorte Press

Publication Date: June 27, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Romance

Page Count: 471

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

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Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.


“She was a dragon. She was a prince. She was the only hope Wallachia had of ever prospering.”

And she would do whatever it took too get there.”

If you want a richly intense and savage story that shows women, too, are just as ruthless and dangerous as men, then put down your book and pick up this one.

Lada Dracul has given up the love she holds for her brother, Radu, and Mehmed, the sultan who claims her heart. With only her soldiers, she tears her way through the countryside so she can claim her birthright: the Wallachian throne. But her brother chooses Mehmed, who tasks him the perilous duty to infiltrate Constantinople. As empires fall, and faiths are pitted against each other, Lada and Radu test not only their loyalty but also their souls.

I haven’t heard of Kiersten or her books, but I fell in love with this series when I first picked up And I Darken. She creates a realistic portrayal of what life was, how religion clashed and even destroyed civilizations and countries, and how war moulded people into their own enemies. Her writing envelops and delivers you to a savage world where women and children are often used as currency, and religion has shaped this harsh backdrop. Now I Rise is an eloquently crafted sequel that will break your heart, disgust you, yet demand your attention. This book wants to be heard, and you cannot help but hear its call.

The characters drive the storyline, and I love Lada’s and Radu’s character progression. Kiersten cleverly reverses the gender roles. At first, I couldn’t stand Radu because he was often the weak child, but he transforms into a man who is tormented by his true desires and is shaped by his morals and faith. When he allows Mehmed to send him to Constantinople, my heart broke. Radu’s pain and unbreakable loyalty he possesses for Mehmed splash across each page, and this heartache is simply haunting. I wanted to shield him from this suffering because this spy game conflicts with who he is as a person. I haven’t sympathized over a character this much.

I find Lada challenging. I love her tenacity, her drive, her passion, her fire, and her strength. Yet sometimes those qualities are all you see in her. However, while the story progresses, Kiersten gives readers a glance into Lada’s vulnerabilities, which I mentioned in my review of the first book. Now they’re few and far between. And I was hoping to see more of them so that Lada can develop into a character who is more tangible. Anger will only get you so far, and unfortunately, Lada may figure out that problem sooner than she thinks.

I give credit to Kiersten for respectfully representing the Muslim faith, which just seems to be attacked by all sides lately. You see, faith plays a strong part in this series. And I thought it might turn me off, but she depicts the conflict between the Muslim and Christian faiths beautifully. She doesn’t pick a side though, and I appreciate her decision not to.

The Conquerer’s Sage keeps on surprising me. And while I showed up late to this series, I keep loving it more. It’s brutal, harsh, dangerous, and deadly, yet it shows you the human strength. I absolutely adore these books. Now I Rise rightfully deserves its spot on my favourites list!

Review: The Darkest Secret by Gena Showalter

The Darkest Secret by Gena Showalter

Published by: Harlequin

Publication Date: March 29, 2011

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Page Count: 410

Rating: 3.75/5

Source: Purchase

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Keeper of the demon of Secrets, Amun can manipulate the darkest thoughts of anyone nearby. But when the immortal warrior is chained and isolated to protect those he loves, death is his only hope of release—until he meets Haidee, a fellow prisoner whose beauty and hidden vulnerability draw him into a reckless test of his loyalty.

Haidee is a demon-assassin, raised to despise Amun’s kind. Yet how can she hate the man whose touch sets her aflame? But to save him, she must give herself body and soul…and face the wrath of a powerful adversary sworn to destroy her.


“He gave her what no one else had ever been able to give. A past to cherish. A present to enjoy. A future to anticipate.”

With a touch of redemption, hope, and forbidden passion, The Darkest Secret takes you on a fast-paced love story with just enough supernatural flare that ignites your love for paranormal romance. Don’t expect a dull moment in Gena’s world.

In this thrilling seventh instalment in the Lords of the Underworld, Amun, the keeper of Secrets, wishes for death, when hundreds of minor demons take possession of his body. His only salvation lies in Haidee, a demon-assassin determined to eliminate his kind. Passion erupts, bonds are tested, and the past is finally revealed. But their attraction may not be the only problem Amun and Haidee face.

I was a little hesitant in picking up Amun’s book because I haven’t seen much of him in previous books. But what I have seen goes from not fully understanding Amum as a character to sympathizing with him because of his struggles. I see him more as a secondary character, which I find disappointing because he has a lot of potential. He’s understanding, caring, and just damn cute at times. But in this book, I finally witness who he is as a man who constantly fights with a demon who survives off secrets. He has gained tremendous empathy from me. Gena isn’t afraid to torture her characters, especially if that act puts them on a better path.

In The Darkest Lies, Amun, Aeron (former keeper of Wrath), and William (an immortal) travel to hell so they can rescue Legion, a demon-turned-woman whose is Aeron’s adoptive daughter. Remind me to cleanse my soul before I die, because the hell Gena depicts is just down right creepy. Imagine the worst acts a person can commit, then ramp them up to a hundred.

What I like from this instalment is that Gena focuses solely on the romance between Amun and Haidee, then throws in some tension from Strider (keeper of Defeat), who thinks he is falling for her. Amun and Haidee balance each other out quite nicely. He calms her down, while she revves him up. I was hoping for more tension between them though. He’s a Lord possessed by a demon, and she’s a demon hunter, who killed his best friend Baden, a few millennia ago. However, this sequel transitions from a romance to a redemption story. Unfortunately, Gena sidetracks from the other storyline of finding Pandora’s box and locating the other warriors possessed by demons. I don’t mind that detour, but I was hoping to see some progression in this arc.

But what she does provide hooks me in though. I’m seven books into this series, and Gena hasn’t revealed how the Hunters, humans who pursue and kill the Lords, started. Until now. In other novels, she gives you the gist of their beginning, but she hasn’t explained it in any great detail. So I appreciate the backstory to the Hunters. And their inception maximizes the level of world building.

Gena is one author you should keep on your radar. If you’re looking for an action-packed paranormal romance that will surely keep you up at night, pick up her books. You won’t be disappointed.

The Mystery Blogger Award

Hello, my bookish dearies! I haven’t been nominated for an award in a long, long time, so I’m excited to do this post! JoBeth @ Blue Binding nominated me for this award, created by Okoto Enigma. Thank you!!! I’ve been wanting to interact with the blogging community more, and this award does just that. I hope you enjoy!

 

Award Rules

  1. Put the award logo on your blog.
  2. List the rules.
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and link to their blog.
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
  5. Tell your readers three things about yourself.
  6. Nominate roughly 10-20 people for this award
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blogs.
  8. Ask your nominees five questions.
  9. Share a link to your best/favorite post that you’ve written

 

Three Things About Me

  1. I used to draw. Certainly not award-winning, but I dabbled in realistic until one teacher criticized my work and just killed my passion for drawing.
  2. I hate musicals, yet some of my favourite movies are. Nightmare before Christmas is my number one movie, and I can’t get enough of it.
  3. When I was young, I wanted to build a library of thousands of books (clearly, my dream isn’t dead), because my Mom is illiterate. For years she slowly taught herself some words, and when I was older, I taught her more. Reading is a privilege that some people take for granted. And I appreciate every book she’s ever given me.

 

JoBeth’s Questions

Is there a book that you continuously recommend to people?

HA! Just one? Wintersong, An Ember in the Ashes, A Court of Mist and Fury, and Six of Crows are the ones I automatically recommend.

 

What is the number one thing that you look for in a book?

Even if the story is a retelling or is something original, I want authors to make it their own. A good example is the ACOTAR series or the Lunar Chronicle series (I regret I haven’t read it yet. Don’t kill me!).

 

What is your favorite kind of blog post to write?

Joint reviews and bookish chats.

 

If you could be any book/movie/TV show character for a day, who would you be?

Right now? Kell from A Darker Shade of Magic. No doubt. I want his coat (who bloody doesn’t?!). And I want to travel to different worlds.

 

Where was the coolest vacation that you ever went on?

My choice may seem cheesy (definitely cheesy), and it may not be the coolest, but the vacation I took with just my mom to a cottage my family rented out is my favourite. I didn’t have to wake up at an ungodly hour, make food when someone told me to, and socialize with family members. I painted, I read, I swam, and I found me.

 

I’m being too cheesy in this post. Someone help me.

 

My Best/Favourite Posts

My review of A Torch against the Night is where I found my voice. I didn’t want to sound like a book critic, just me. And finding it took a lot longer than I had anticipated.

 

My Nominations

Now on to my victims (ahem, nominations).

  1. Grace @ Grace Gets Books
  2. Flavia @ Flavia the Bibliophile
  3. Zoe @ Book Addict Rambles
  4. Maddie @ Well-Read Twenty Something
  5. Sue @ Sue’s Reading Corner
  6. Suzy @ Suzy Approved Book Reviews
  7. Shelly, Abby, Casey, and Kira @ Dust off Your MacHalo
  8. Kathy @ Books and Munches
  9. Laura @ Snazzy Books

 

My Questions

  1. Who is your guilty pleasure author/series? Do you love to hate it or hate to love it?
  2. What is the latest book you’ve read that you’ve absolutely hated/loved?
  3. What bothers you in your favourite genre (e.g., love triangles in YA)
  4. What is the most underrated book/series/author?
  5. If you could pick a book you wanted to change, which book is it, and how would you change it?

Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

And I Darken by Kiersten White

Published by: Delacorte Press

Publication Date: June 28, 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Romance

Page Count:

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

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


No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.


“So the question becomes, Daughter of the Dragon, what will you sacrifice? What will you let be taken away so that you, too, can have power?”

Powerfully captivating, richly dark, emotionally disturbing, and utterly gut-wrenching, And I Darken captures readers from the opening sentence. Don’t expect this world to be kind, and certainly don’t hope for the characters to be either. This princess will not only slit your throat but also revel in doing so.

Lada Dragwlya, the princess of Wallachia, thrives in brutality. She lives in a world where women do not rule and are the possession of men. When her father uses her and her young brother, Radu, as political pawns and sends them to their enemy, the Ottomans, she must play a deadly game in order to survive. When they meet Mehmed, the son of the sultan, their lives change. While they band together, their troubled and poisonous relationship may test even the strongest bond.

Historical fiction is somewhat difficult to work with since the author must not only make it believable and factual but also make it entertaining. Kiersten takes this part of history and claims it as her. Yes, she does stay true to important events, but she brings a new twist to this written past. And I Darken is dark, rich, engrossing, and richly detailed. It compels you to turn the page.

While I found this world Kiersten builds sinister and haunting, I wanted to find out how these characters survive in such a brutal world. I enjoy reading twisted stories, but sometimes I needed some time to process what just occurred and separate myself from the book.

And I Darken may be the difficult yet rewarding book I’ve read this year. It is a story about survival. Sometimes, people simply survive or die, and in this world, the odds are stacked against everyone, especially women. Kiersten explores the way life existed back in the 15th century. What she achieves is a beautifully written and plot-driven story. I haven’t read any of her previous work, but her attention to detail and richly layered and complex character arcs set the bar for other historical fiction novels.

 

“Her spine was steel. Her heart was armor. Her eyes were fire.”

The characters are at the centre of this piece, and Lada, Radu, and Mehmed captivate me beyond what I thought they would. Lada, my spirit animal and queen, will burn this world down and walk through its ashes. Her cruelty hides her weaknesses and her love she holds for Radu and Mehmed. Sometimes I thought that she was too vicious, but look at who she is. She’s the female Vlad the Impaler. The scenes where she shows her vulnerabilities overshadow her savagery. I love her progression throughout the story. And her scorn for the treatment of women enrichens the story.

Radu, my little cinnamon bun, breaks my heart. He faces constant beatings and torture at the hand of his brother and other children. But he transforms into a complex character. I welcome more gay characters, and Kiersten elegantly handles his secret part of his life, and I have to thank her for doing so. Mehmed, the sultan’s son, is iffy for me. The relationship among the three are more complicated than the synopsis portrays. Half the time I wanted to throttle him, and the next I sympathized with him.

If you’re looking for a YA story that breaks the mould and strikes its own path, pick up And I Darken. But understand that this book demands more than just your attention. Take a chance on it. This well-woven novel surprises even me. And I cannot wait how Lada, Radu, and Mehmed survive the next journey.

 

“Fire burned in her heart, and her wounded soul spread out, casting a shadow like wings across her country.”

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Published by: Tor Books

Publication Date: February 24, 2015

Genre: Science Fiction, Adult, Fantasy

Page Count: 400

Rating: 4.5/5

Source: Purchase

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


Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.


“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”

You know, not often do I find a book that reminds me why I love reading. And now I’m in this dilemma where I have no clue how I’ll get back to normal life. A Darker Shade of Magic is a rare treat for readers who hope to go back to their roots and find a book that truly surprises them.

Kell is a dying breed of Antari, a magician who travels through parallel Londons. He’s currently a messenger for Red London, one of four Londons, and a smuggler. Smuggling is forbidden though. Now it may come back to haunt him. When a deal goes amiss, he flees to Grey London where he meets Delilah Bard, a cross-dressing, aspiring pirate, and inadvertently sets off a deadly ripple effect that that may just threaten not only their lives but all the worlds.

I let a glorious book just sit on my TBR and not read it until the series ends. Why? I don’t know. Maybe life got in the way, and I underestimated my growing list. I regret not reading this book until now. I just want to pass this book onto the next reader and say, “Stop what you’re doing and read it. Now.”

I’ve only read Victoria’s Monsters of Verity series but have heard a lot of this one. And it is unlike any other book I’ve read. There were times where I had to convince myself not to burst out laughing, only to fail and scare my cat. I’m a full-fledged fan of her work now. ADSOM is a beautifully executed story that shows another side to magic.

 

“I’m not going to die,” she said. “Not till I’ve seen it.”
“Seen what?”
Her smile widened. “Everything.”

I cannot gush more about these characters. Kell is stubbornly loyal and protective to the end. That boy with those powers has a story to tell. He’s squeezed his way into my favourites list. The one character who sticks out is Delilah, or Lila. The quirky, clever, and dangerous pirate will capture anyone’s heart, then break it within a second. Her backstory intrigues me the most, and I was rooting for her from the start. I adore her. Both Kell and Lila blend seamlessly together, and I love how their chemistry carries the story. And finally an author writes a bisexual character who is realistic. I love Rhy, the devious prince from Red London and brother to Kell. You sense how much he cherishes Kell.

The four Londons take a life of their own. Victoria makes them into characters in their own right. Grey London possesses no magic. Red London strikes the right balance of it. White London is overrun with it. And Black London no longer exists because of it. She take world building to a new extreme, and I appreciate that she took the time to develop them. Don’t expect this book to be fast paced. It’s a slow burn, which she excels well in. I want the story to open up in an organic way, not rushed.

Don’t do yourself a disservice. Read this book, then proceed with the sequels. I know I will. I want to travel back to the Londons and see what these worlds have to offer.