Blog Tour Review: The Great and the Small by A. T. Balsara

 

The Great and the Small by A. T. Balsara

Published by: Common Deer Press

Publication Date: October 31,2017

Genre: Young Adult

Page Count: 294

Rating: 4/5

Source: eARC from Common Deer Press

Goodreads | Common Deer Press | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository


Deep below the market, in the dark tunnels no human knows exist, a war has begun. Lead by the charismatic Beloved Chairman, a colony of rats plots to exterminate the ugly two-legs who have tortured them in labs, crushed them with boots, and looked at them with disgust for as long as anyone can remember. 

When the Chairman’s nephew is injured and a young two-leg nurses him back to health, however, doubt about the war creeps in. Now the colony is split—obey the Chairman and infect the two-legs with the ancient sickness passed down from the Old Ones, or do the unthinkable… 

Rebel. 


I’ve received an eARC for an honest and unbiased review.

 

“Over the mountains and across the sea, there came a terrible scourge…a scourge that would deal death not only to the Old Ones, but to all.”

When I first heard of this YA illustrated novel, I knew I had to sign up for the tour. And I am not disappointed with what I read. This dark, poignant, yet somehow relevant tale will keep you on the edge.

Courtsey of A. T. Balsara and Common Deer Press

Strength is tested, lines are drawn, and a war has begun. As more two-legs (humans) torture rats in labs and see them as nothing more than vermin, the Chairman, the leader of a colony of rats deep underneath the city, conspires to release the old plague that wiped out these evil beings. Their time is now. They can taste their revenge. But doubt seeps into this colony when the Chairman’s nephew, Fin, is wounded, and a two-leg decides to take him in and heal him. Now that act of kindness divides a once united colony.

Andrea, the author, weaves a richly dark tale that speaks to readers of all ages. At first, I wasn’t sure how dark this story will go, but she pushes against the boundary of writing and also incorporates real-life health scares like Ebola and, most recently, the plague. Throughout the book, she shows you the cruel side of our society, yet she then demonstrates our humanity. The contrast between the two is rather jarring but realistic though. How many times have you freaked out over seeing a wild animal, even a rat, but you’re an advocate for animal rights?

Courtesy of A. T. Balsara and Common Deer Press

The Great and the Small is a slow burn. Andrea builds up the story by adding complex layers and characters. But I don’t mind that build up though. It is a character-driven book that needs time to reveal itself to readers. What speaks out among these pages is Fin and Ananda, the teenager who saves him. I adore reading Fin’s story, especially his history, which is heartbreaking. I didn’t know if I could connect with a rat, but the way Andrea writes him just makes you fall in love with this deeply conflicted yet loyal rat. And Ananda represents the essence of real humanity. She doesn’t see a rat and cringe; she sees it as a living being that needs as much protection as anyone else. And while the scenes between these two are short, I relished them.

I was surprised by the level of world building Andrea mixes into her story. She creates such an imaginative and lively underground for her rats. The politics will keep you guessing as well. This world is built on a two-tiered class, which, regardless of what the politicians say, sets each rat apart and divides them. The Chairman, Fin’s uncle, is a cunning, ruthless, yet charismatic antagonist. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the author drew inspiration from dictators we’ve grown to hate. What I love is the anticipation in the book. This atmospheric tone in Great and the Small builds suspense throughout each chapter. And I had to question each character’s decision and action.

Courtesy of A. T. Balsara and Common Deer Press

Typically, you don’t see a lot of illustrations in YA novels. But these drawings bring out the story and enrich it. I enjoyed seeing them. And you don’t usually find a YA with an animal as the main character. However, more authors are testing the limits of genres and book categories. They’re not always limiting their readership based on just an age range. And I appreciate that both the author and the publisher have done just so.

This illustrated novel holds a strong meaning behind it. Sometimes the unlikeliest stories will teach you something or give you perspective on another that you weren’t sure you’d ever find. And The Great and the Small is that book.

 

 

 

 

 

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Blog Tour Interview: The Great and the Small by A. T. Balsara

 

Hi, everyone!

On my second blog tour stop. I interview, A. T. Balsara, the author of The Great and the Small. I want to know why an author stepped away from the traditional route of YA books, which usually don’t include illustrations.

You’ll be surprised what what you find out.

Enjoy!


 

Hello, Andrea! I’m excited to welcome you to my blog. Thank you for taking some time to discuss with me about your book. And I’d love to congratulate you on your book birthday!

 

 

Thank you very much for having me! I really appreciate it!

 

  1. You’ve just recently published a book. Tell us about it.

Sure. The Great & the Small is the story of a colony of rats, led by their charismatic Beloved Leader that has sworn to kill humanity using the bubonic plague. When the Beloved Chairman’s nephew, Fin, gets rescued from certain death by a young “two-leg,” a teenager named Ananda, doubt creeps in about the war. Now Fin must decide: follow his beloved uncle and murder the two-legs, including the one he has grown to love or do the unthinkable…rebel.

 

  1. Your novel is one of the unique stories I’ve heard this year. So why did you choose rats for your protagonists?

They were the ultimate enemy that could bring down humanity. They are smart, can chew through concrete, take down a grown cat, and multiply like…well, rats. They were the carriers of plague-ridden fleas, and were instrumental in killing almost half of Europe’s population during the years of the “Great Mortality.” Humanity does a collective shiver when we think about wild rats running amok.

 

  1. Can you explain your writing and drawing process? What inspired your drawings and writing for this story?

For my writing, I think I’ve always been drawn to Tolkien, and his epic, all or nothing, type of story. I also loved the book Watership Down and loved how the author made you feel as if you were watching the lives of rabbits. I wanted the epic feel of a Lord of the Rings, combined with the intimacy of what it would be like to be this particular animal. It was incredibly interesting to me to write from a rat’s point of view. For the drawings, I wanted something monochromatic, so that it felt like it might be taken from old times. I love adding texture, and layers to the drawings, and used the computer software Corel Painter to do the illustrations.

 

  1. You don’t always see illustrations in YAs. Why did you include them in yours?

I was told that young adults don’t read animal stories, that they don’t do illustrations…blah, blah, blah…in other words, the big publishers didn’t want to take a chance on a story that was outside of their lines of acceptable risk. There is far too much emphasis, nowadays, on staying safe in order to make a sure profit, than on publishing something that pushes boundaries and takes risks. I wrote and illustrated the story I wanted to read. If I had listened to the gatekeepers at the big houses, I would’ve been bored out of my mind.

 

  1. When did you first realize you had to write this book?

I had gotten the seed for this story many years ago when I visited a concentration camp museum. From that moment, there was a burning need inside of me to make a difference, to try to do my part to shine a light. I wrestled with the question of what makes someone capable of doing such heinous acts. In writing this book, I took my question to the next level, and asked, if you were raised in the orbit of one who did such acts, could you save yourself, or were you doomed? The Great & the Small was my attempt to work through those questions, but it was painful. Most of us aren’t devils or saints but fall somewhere in between. It was painful exploring that light—and darkness—within myself.

 

  1. What do you want readers to take away from it?

There are many things. The most important thing is that no one is born evil. So-called “evil” people are made, usually slowly, by the choices they make. Many of us feel we have no choice, that we are helpless within our own lives. Not true. We always have a choice. The Nelson Mandela of the world teaches us that no matter what happens, you have a choice. The other thing I would say, and I will quote Balthazar, a wise old rat in The Great & the Small, on this one: “Seek Truth.” I believe that the truth really will set you free. But it takes soul-searching, and a willingness to deal with our own garbage.

 

  1. What was the most difficult part in creating The Great and the Small?

Persistence. This story took me close to 15 years to write because projects would come up, or opportunities, or life, and I would have to shelve it for years at a time. It was hard to have to dust it off, reread it, realize with horror that it needed a complete rewrite, keep going, and then put it on the back burner…etc. etc.…it was a loooong process. Recently, I came across an old CD from 2012; it had a copy of the manuscript, and was labeled, “final draft.” Seeing that made me burst out laughing. The book has been rewritten a million times since 2012 (okay—not a million; it just feels like a million!!). If I hadn’t loved the story so much, I would have given up a long time ago.

 

 

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Blog Tour Spotlight: The Great and the Small by A. T. Balsara

 

Hi, everyone!

The tour is finally here! I’m excited to announce the release of The Great and the Small, by A. T. Balsara. Ever since I heard of this book, I knew I had to be a part of the tour. A rat struggling with an existential crisis? I’m in.

Check out Common Deer Press’ latest literary treat! The Great and the Small is now available.

 

 

 

The Great and the Small

A. T. Balsara

Publication date: October 31, 2017

Publisher: Common Deer Press

Buy links: Common Deer Press, Indigo, Amazon CAN, Amazon US, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

 

Deep below the market, in the dark tunnels no human knows exist, a war has begun. Lead by the charismatic Beloved Chairman, a colony of rats plots to exterminate the ugly two-legs who have tortured them in labs, crushed them with boots, and looked at them with disgust for as long as anyone can remember.

When the Chairman’s nephew is injured and a young two-leg nurses him back to health, however, doubt about the war creeps in. Now the colony is split—obey the Chairman and infect the two-legs with the ancient sickness passed down from the Old Ones, or do the unthinkable…

Rebel.

 


About the Author

A.T. Balsara lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband. She is the proud mom of two adult daughters, two dogs, two cats, and two hives of bees.

 

She writes and illustrates for young children up to young adults.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

www.commondeerpress.com

www.facebook.com/commondeerpress

@AHerdOfDeer

Blog Tour Review: Haven by Mary Lindsey

 

Haven by Mary Lindsey

Published by: Entangled Publishing

Publication Date: November 7, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal

Page Count: 400

Rating: 4/5

Source: eARC from Rockstar Book Tours

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play Books | Indiebound | iBooks


“We all hold a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed.”

Rain Ryland has never belonged anywhere, He’s used to people judging him for his rough background, his intimidating size, and now, his orphan status. He’s always been on the outside, looking in, and he’s fine with that. Until he moves to New Wurzburg and meets Friederike Burkhart.

Freddie isn’t like normal teen girls, though. And someone wants her dead for it. Freddie warns he’d better stay far away if he wants to stay alive, but Rain’s never been good at running from trouble. For the first time, Rain has something worth fighting for, worth living for. Worth dying for.


I’ve received an eARC for an honest review. It doesn’t affect my rating.

 

“I believe we all hide a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed.”

Are you looking for a dark, twisted, and sizzling new YA fantasy? Haven‘s your book. With betrayals, forbidden love, power plays, and family secrets, it will surely keep you up at night as it did with me.

Rain Ryland, a misunderstood teen who can’t get a break in life, becomes an orphan when he loses his mother, who dies unexpectedly. He thinks he has an opportunity for a new start when he finds out he has an aunt, who lives in New Wurzburg, where he meets Friederike “Freddie” Burkhart, who warns him to stay away from her. Unfortunately, this new opportunity comes with a price, but he’s determined to save Freddie, find her father’s killer, and fight for someone who’s worth dying for.

I have to admit. I get an insta-love vibe off of this book, but, don’t let that fool you. Mary plays on that rather well. Haven reminds me of a shape-shaping version of Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. And I love how she doesn’t go with the female POV. It’s strictly Rain’s perspective throughout the entire book. I don’t see that often, so I enjoyed the change. Haven has a few rough edges, like Rain describing Freddie as perfect, but it kept me wanting more, kept me reading long into the night. It’s a refreshing story for anyone who’s looking for a quick read.

What surprises me the most is the backstory of the book. Mary wonderfully creates an intricate world with unique characters and intriguing history. Rain has stumbled upon a town where Weavers (witches) rule, and Watchers (shape-shifters/werewolves) obey. These characters originated from Germany and immigrated to the States when the German witch trials occured. Each character adds to the mystery of the town, which shapes into a character itself.

My favourites, obviously, are Rain and Freddie. Their chemistry is hot and intense and will keep you turning the page. Freddie, the only-female Alpha, refuses to back down, will protect her family and pact, and never runs away from a fight. I love her strong-willed attitude and her vulnerability because of her father’s murder. I’m a sucker for a tortured character, and Rain matches that through and through.

The world building is superb. Mary puts in a new twist in the overused werewolf and witch story. The politics in the world adds layers to this story and creates more mystery and suspense. I wasn’t expecting this kind of political play, but Mary pulls it off nicely. Haven is a fast-paced, intense, and dark adventure any fantasy lover will love to jump into.

 

“It’s said that on a full moon, that power of the earth reaches for the heavens at that one spot, infusing the surrounding area with magic strong enough to change man to beast.”

 


About Mary

Mary Lindsey is a multi award-winning, RITA® nominated author of romance for adults and teens. She lives on an island in the middle of a river. Seriously, she does. When not writing, she wrangles her rowdy pack of three teens, two Cairn Terriers, and one husband.

Inexplicably, her favorite animal is the giant anteater and at one point, she had over 200 “pet” Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. The roaches are a long story involving three science-crazed kids and a soft spot for rescue animals. The good news is, the “pet” roaches found a home… somewhere else.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

 


Giveaway

Does Haven sound like your next YA fantasy read? Here’s your chance to win a free copy of it. One winner will receive a finished copy of Haven. Giveaway is for US residents only. ENTER HERE.

 


Tour Schedule

Week One
10/23/2017- Twinning for Books — Review
10/23/2017- Flyleaf Chronicles — Review

10/24/2017- Blushing Bibliophile — Review
10/24/2017- Ex Libris — Review

10/25/2017- Omg Books and More Books — Review
10/25/2017- Novelties — Review

10/26/2017- Deep Dark Feminist Reviews — Review
10/26/2017- Mama Reads Blog — Review

10/27/2017- Kendra Loves Books — Review
10/27/2017- Why I Read — Review

 

Week Two
10/30/2017- Bibliobakes — Review
10/30/2017- Betwixt the Pages — Review

10/31/2017- For the Lover of Books — Review
10/31/2017- Kati’s Bookaholic Rambling Reviews — Review

11/1/2017- Adventures Thru Wonderland — Review
11/1/2017- Tea With Mermaids — Review

11/2/2017- Hauntedbybooks13 — Review
11/2/2017- The Best Books Ever — Review

11/3/2017- Portrait of a Book — Review
11/3/2017- Nerdophiles — Review

Cover Reveal: Haven by Mary Lindsey

Today Mary Lindsey and Rockstar Book Tours are revealing the cover and an exclusive excerpt for HAVEN, which releases November 7, 2017! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to win an ARC!
On to the reveal! 



 

 Title: HAVEN
Author: Mary Lindsey
Pub. Date: November 7, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 400

Sometimes beauty is the beast…

“We all hold a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed.”

Rain Ryland has never belonged anywhere. He’s used to people judging him for his rough background, his intimidating size, and now, his orphan status. He’s always been on the outside, looking in, and he’s fine with that. Until he moves to New Wurzburg and meets Friederike Burkhart.

Freddie isn’t like normal teen girls, though. And someone wants her dead for it. Freddie warns he’d better stay far away if he wants to stay alive, but Rain’s never been good at running from trouble. For the first time, Rain has something worth fighting for, worth living for. Worth dying for.

 


Early Praise

“Dangerous, dark and a definite page turner. Mary Lindsey rocks this book.”

– New York Times bestselling author C.C. Hunter

 

“A smoking hot hero and spine-chilling mystery = total win.”

– #1 New York Times bestselling author, Jennifer L. Armentrout

 

“This electrifying tale will take you on an unexpected journey into a secret world of witchcraft and shape shifters. Romance, adventure, and magic! Lindsey leaves you breathless and wanting more.”

– Adriana Mather, #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Hang a Witch

 

“This is not your mama’s paranormal! Sexy, dark and intense. Unputdownable!”

– Sophie Jordan, New York Times bestselling author of Firelight

 

“Lindsey writes a hero with fire and gasoline. Then she lights a match with break-neck pacing, and scorches a path to readers’ hearts. Don’t blink for a moment.”

– Victoria Scott, bestselling author of Fire & Flood

 

“Gripping and gritty, HAVEN had me glued to the pages from beginning to end! Rain is the best kind of hero — tough, sexy, sweet, loyal. He charges through this action-packed tale that had me tearing up more than once, and I was perfectly happy to follow!”

– Pintip Dunn, New York Times bestselling author of Forget Tomorrow.

 

“An utterly gritty and satisfying resurrection of the monster genre.Rain is an intense narrator and you won’t know whether to scream or swoon. Haven is an instant classic!”

– Courtney Moulton, author of Angelfire

 

“Darkly compelling and deliciously chilling, Haven hooks you from the first line and never lets up. Gritty, spine-tingling, and full of nail-biting tension.”

– Amalie Howard, bestselling author of Bloodspell

 

“Dark, different, sexy, and edge-of-your-seat intense.”

– Shawna Stringer, bookseller

 


Exclusive Excerpt

When Rain turned back to Freddie, he bit down a gasp of surprise. She’d stripped off her shirt and tipped her face to the moon, eyes closed, like one would do to the sun at the beach. And here he’d thought the landscape was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen.

The air was still. Eerily still, and her smooth skin appeared to glow from inside in the moonlight—her black lace bra sheer enough to make him a little dizzy.

Without opening her eyes, she said, “Take off your shirt.”

No way in hell was he going to argue with that. He yanked off his shirt, clutching it in his fist, waiting for his next instruction.

He forgot how to breathe when she opened her pale eyes and moved toward him. Her gaze wasn’t focused on his face, though. It was on his chest. Stopping in front of him, she traced her fingers over the ink.

“Raindrops?” she asked, finger outlining one of the shapes.

“Tears,” he replied, again light-headed as she ran her fingertips over his pec.

“For your mom?”

“No. For all of us.”

She stepped back and, for a long time, stared at the tattoo comprised of dozens of drops in a random pattern over his chest, spilling down his ribs.

She traced a scar on his side with the tip of her finger. One of many marring his body from fights. “Your life has been sad.”

And so had hers recently. Maybe that was why he felt so connected to her. Their shared grief, their shared stand against a harsh, unfeeling, screwed-up world. Their shared solitude.

She turned back to the moon and raised her arms. “Do you feel it?”

Well, that was a wide-open question. He was feeling lots of things.

“The moon,” she said. “It’s like aloe when you’re sunburned. Try it.”

He imitated her posture, head back, arms out, but felt nothing other than the throbbing hardness he always felt around her.

“So, what do you think about that legend your aunt told you?” she asked.

He opened his eyes to find her studying him. “That the rock can turn men into beasts?” His mind raced, wondering what would prompt that question and what answer she was looking for. Men were beasts. Horrible monsters at times. He’d seen it firsthand. “I believe we all hide a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed.”

There it was again. That strange warm pull in his chest while she studied him. Like she totally got him—something no one else had ever bothered to do. He’d never been understood or accepted. People saw his size and found out his background and immediately wrote him off as dangerous or not worth the trouble. Not Freddie.

She obviously found his answer acceptable, because she wound her fingers in his hair and hauled him against her for another kiss. Raw, open-mouthed, and hungry. He’d never met anyone like this, who made him burn so hot he thought he might die from need. Recovering from surprise, he placed his hands on either side of her bare rib cage, feeling her body expand and contract with each quick breath. Bones and hard muscle working beneath smooth, soft skin. Skin he wanted to touch all over.

“I like you, Rain Ryland,” she said, dragging her nails down his back.

“Like” didn’t even come close. He was on fire for her. Had thought of her night and day since he first saw those eerily pale eyes and badass attitude. She was smart, strong, and terribly, terribly dangerous, which turned him on like crazy. “I like you, too.”

“How much?”

Something was going on here. Something other than foreplay. “More than I’ve ever liked anyone.” Which was true and unexpected. This was more than physical, which was a terrifying thought for him. Maybe this time he could stay. Maybe this time he’d actually found a home and wouldn’t have to leave everything behind.

He kissed her again, not wanting to think about legends, or leaving, or anything else for that matter. He wanted to just live in this moment as long as it lasted. Running his hands lower, his thumb brushed the unmistakable shape of a condom in her back pocket. He froze, and she smiled against his lips.

“You scared, Sprinkles?”

“Yes.”

“Of me?” It was like she wanted him to fear her.

“No.” He pulled back, amazed at how her eyes reflected the moon like clear glass. “Of this.” He gestured to the space he’d put between them. “Of whatever this is.” The intensity of it. The urgency. And worse, much worse—the potential loss of it. He’d never feared losing something before because he’d never had anything worth keeping. This girl, though. She was different. And he wanted her.


About the Author

Mary Lindsey is a multi award-winning, RITA® nominated author of romance for adults and teens. She lives on an island
in the middle of a river. Seriously, she does. When not writing, she wrangles her rowdy pack of three teens, two Cairn Terriers, and one husband.
Inexplicably, her favorite animal is the giant anteater and at one point, she had over 200 “pet” Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. The roaches are a long story involving three
science-crazed kids and a soft spot for rescue animals. The good news is, the “pet” roaches found a home… somewhere else.

Giveaway

Does Haven sound like your next read? Well, you’re in luck. Here’s your chance to win a copy! 5 winners will receive an ARC of Haven. ENTER HERE to win. US residents only.

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Zero Repeat Forever by Gabrielle Prendergast

 
I am so excited that ZERO REPEAT FOREVER by Gabrielle Prendergast is available now and that I get to share the news!
 
If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Gabrielle Prendergast, be sure to check out all the details below.
 
This blitz also includes a giveaway for a signed hardcover of the book courtesy of Gabrielle and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

 About the Book

Zero Repeat Forever
Pub. Date: August 29, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 496
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Find it: AmazonB&NAudibleiBooksTBDGoodreads
He has no voice, or name, only a rank, Eighth. He doesn’t know the details of the mission, only the directives that hum in his mind.

Dart the humans. Leave them where they fall.

His job is to protect his Offside. Let her do the shooting.

Until a human kills her…

Sixteen year-old Raven is at summer camp when the terrifying armored Nahx invade, annihilating entire cities, taking control of the Earth. Isolated in the wilderness, Raven and her friends have only a fragment of instruction from
the human resistance.

Shelter in place.

Which seems like good advice at first. Stay put. Await rescue. Raven doesn’t like feeling helpless but what choice does she have?

Then a Nahx kills her boyfriend.

Thrown together in a violent, unfamiliar world, Eighth and Raven should feel only hate and fear. But when Raven is injured, and Eighth deserts his unit, their survival comes to depend on trusting each other… 

Book Trailer

About the Author

Gabrielle is a writer, teacher and designer living in Vancouver, Canada.  You can read about her books here.
She is represented by Barbara Poelle at the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.
In 2014 she was the Writer in Residence at Vancouver Public Library. In 2015 she was nominated for the BC Book Prizes and chosen to tour the province to promote BC Books. In
2017 Gabrielle took part in the TD Canada Children’s Book Week Tour. She has also been nominated for the White
Pine Award
and the CLA Award.
Gabrielle won the Westchester Award for Audacious. Audacious was included in CBC’s list of 100 YA Books That Make You
Proud to be Canadian.
 A poem from Capricious was chosen for the 2014 Poetry in Transit Program. Pandas on the East Side was chosen as an Ontario Library Association Best Bet for Junior Fiction in 2016. It was also nominated/shortlisted for the Chocolate Lily Award, The Red Cedar Award, the Diamond Willow Award and the Myrca Award.

Giveaway Details

ENTER HERE to win!

(1) winner will receive a signed finished copy of ZERO REPEAT FOREVER, US Only & Canada.

(3) winners will receive signed postcards and bookmarks ZERO REPEAT FOREVER, US Only & Canada.
Ends on September 19th at Midnight EST!

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

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon USBarnes & Noble | Kobo | Book Depository


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: 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

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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.”