ARC Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

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At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

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review4/5 Stars 

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley and  Del Rey

The Bear and the Nightingale is a love letter to old Rus’. 

The other day I found myself missing the Motherland. Once you’ve been to Russia, the spirit of the country latches on to you and you’ll never be able to forget it, even if it forgets you. The Bear and the Nightingale was the perfect answer to my melancholic nostalgia. That being said, rating this book was tricky for me because I love Russian culture so much, so deeply, that it hypnotized and transported me back to those dark and beautiful nights in Moscow and Suzdal and Vladimir and Tolstoy’s estate. I digress, but the point is if you have even the tiniest interest in Russian folklore, the old culture, and adore fairy tales, you’ll be swept up into this rustic and romantic tale of a girl kissed by magic and determined to save her people. 

Side note: Throughout the story I yelled at the book in Russian. Like full on what is this??? yelling. The transliteration irked me to no end and then I got to the end of the book and I laughed so hard. That author’s note made my day. She explained her choices and described how she though Russian speakers/students would react to the transliteration-with disdain and hands pretty much clenched in fists. Somehow, the fact that she knew it made it okay. 

The Bear and the Nightingale is whimsical, haunting, and twisted like any good fairytale. A blend of many stories known, loved, and feared in Russia still today, The Bear and the Nightingale is one epic journey that spans years. From the house-spirits, to the gods of the elements, to the celebrated figures of Baba Yaga and the Firebird, everything that is inherently Russian is present and accounted for. I loved that the focus was not on these known figures, but on the everyday ones that live in the household and receive offerings, that protect the hearth and livelihood of the family. 

This is a love story. Not in the traditional sense, but one of love for the land, for heritage, for culture, and in beings that others believe are myth. There’s not romance in the usual fashion, but there is a hint. 

The atmosphere and world building is strong. You’ll become fully immersed in the countryside, the power of the forest and all the magical beings that inhabit it. 

I loved Vasya. She’s known for being unattractive, frog-like, and weird, but her spirit makes her beautiful. She’s fierce, determined, sure of herself. She believes when others are filled with doubts. She throws herself into danger, she risks her life, she loves hard and barters for her people. She’s small, but she’s crafty and wild and bold. She does what everyone else in the story wouldn’t dare and that’s what makes her compelling. 

On a more somber note, there is some conversion that goes on in the story. Religious crusade of a sort that makes the reader question what happens when people story believing in their folklore, in their old gods, and all the stories that come with them. There’s something heartbreaking and sobering about this war within the people. 

The pacing may be slow for some, but it builds as it goes and Vasya becomes more adventurous. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Magical reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: Frostblood by Elly Blake

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Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon.

All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king’s tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Fast-paced and compelling, Frostblood is the first in a page-turning new young adult three-book series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies—but together create a power that could change everything.

review4/5 Stars 

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

This year is already shaping up to be one of my best reading years. I’ve read 8 books so far  and I have not been disappointed. Frostblood is the book you’re going to hear about and will become an instinctive recommendation to anyone and everyone you know because it’s epic. 

How I love this book, let me count the ways:

World Building. A blend of dizzying and addictive folklore mixes with myth and elemental magic. The stories of the gods and goddesses are sweeping, dark, and have that campfire-tale quality that sucks you in and refuses to let go. Wow. These stories themselves would make an amazing companion for the series. I’d love to have a collection. And they keep coming. They’re a solid foundation that keeps giving as the story progresses. There are layers of world building. The first is myth, the second is this terrifying world of witch-hunt style persecution and violence. AND then a gladiator-like battle in an area. I don’t know what else you could possibly want, this is all sorts of epic. 

Ruby. As a main character, she’s unexpected. Filled with doubts, insecurity and yet, thirsting for revenge, she’s not the typical heroine. Her drive is largely to pay back those who destroyed her world and make them suffer. That vehement determination is something else. At the same time, her heart is tested. She learns compassion and to care in new and surprising ways. Everything that Ruby is is tempted. Darkness beckons her and she must decide between darkness and light. That conflict is written so well. She truly wars within. 

Arcus. There’s some serious star-crossed lovers going on here. He’s not what you’d picture as a love interest. Cold, dismissive, scarred, and gruff. He’s not your typical flirty hot guy. He’s got an air of mystery, but for the most part her’s serious, seems much older than his years. Arcus will grow on you. His focus, the way he fights through his icy exterior, how he doesn’t know how to process his emotions…I mean, he’s the kind of character you tilt your head to the side, raise an eyebrow and examine-a puzzle. 

Romance. It’s soft, subtle, and hits hard when it does. There’s definitely a love-hate, comparative fight against the attraction. It’s spirited, intriguing, and the banter, yes, give me more of that. Fire and ice. Who knew it could be so steamy? 😉 

Secondary characters. Everyone in the abbey left an impression. From the good guys to the bad ones. The presence is there. The adrenaline high. No one can be fully trusted. A character who had a fairly important part, Marella, was a wishy-washy, almost forgettable character despite her pretty regular appearance near the end of the book. Rasmus!!! OMG. Yes. A complex villain with a twisted and heartbreaking background. I felt for him. The revelations about his character are short, blunt, and leave you reeling. His evil is there. He’s vile, violent, and glorifies others’ pain, but whether he would truly be that way without the influence of the throne leaves him questionable. And for some strange reason, he’s oddly sexy, maybe even more so than Arcus. I only wish he was present sooner.

The Arena. Flashbacks to Gladiator. “Are you entertained?” I certainly was. The mythical and beastly creatures, it was a rush.

The story leaves room for a sequel and I cannot wait. The resolution was hard to come by. There was a great level of uncertainty that the good would win. I loved that. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Keep reading, 

Jordan

#TheBlackMage Series New Cover Reveals: The Black Mage series by Rachel E. Carter

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These covers are for new editions for The Black Mage, a YA fantasy series. They will not be available for purchase until 1/26/17 (book 4, Last Stand, preorder will go up same day). The new editions will have new covers, fresh edits, updated content. Please note that the old editions of the series (for books 1-3) will be removed from all vendors between now – 1/23. If you would like to be notified when the new editions are available to purchase from all ebook retailers, you can follow her on Amazon or BookBub.

Would you like to start reading the series now for free? Rachel is giving out the prequel novella (told in Prince Darren’s point-of-view) if you sign up for her newsletter (www.subscribepage.com/rachelecarternonheir) >>she also notifies readers of new releases, giveaways, and sales first.

Add the series to your TBR on Goodreads

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Magic. Romance. Rivals. Perfect for fans of Throne of Glass, Falling Kingdoms, and Tamora Pierce.

Fifteen-year-old Ryiah enrolls at her realm’s most notorious war school for those with magic. But there’s a catch—only fifteen will be apprenticed. Competition is fierce and she trusts no one, especially the arrogant Prince Darren… Will she survive, or will her dream go down in flames?

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Sixteen-year-old Ryiah is an apprentice of Combat, her school’s most notorious faction. When she finishes, she will be a war mage, but in order to do so, she has to survive four years traveling across Jerar, training with a master she hates, her old nemesis, Priscilla, and Prince Darren, her sometimes-rival sometimes… more?

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Twenty-year-old Ryiah is a black mage of Combat, but she’s not the Black Mage. Yet. She’s had her eyes on the legendary robe for as long as she can remember, and in just one year, she will have a chance at her country’s prestigious—and only—tourney for war mages… Too bad she is going up against a certain prince—the one person she has yet to beat.

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Ryiah’s world was shattered the night she discovered King Blayne’s nefarious plans. Now, she has to betray the one she loves most in order to save the realm from war. Ry finds herself on a perilous mission to help the rebels and convince the kingdom of Pythus not to honor its pact with the corrupt king of Jerar.

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Prince. Prodigy. Mage. Perfect for fans of Throne of Glass, Falling Kingdoms, and Tamora Pierce.

This prequel novella is set before the events of First Year (The Black Mage Book 1), following Prince Darren as a child through adolescence and his first run-in with Ryiah at the Academy of Magic. Readers discover the dark backstory between the two princes and their father, as well as the ensuing events that shaped Darren into the Academy’s most prodigal mage.

author

Rachel E. Carter is a YA & NA author who hoards coffee and books. She has a weakness for villains and Mr. Darcy love interests. Her first series is the bestselling YA fantasy, The Black Mage, and she has plenty more books to come.

Sign up for her newsletter to stay up to date on all new releases, giveaways, and sales: http://bit.ly/rachelecarter.

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Magical reading, 

Jordan

 

ARC Review: Poison’s Kiss by Breeana Shields

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Release Date: Jan 10, 2017

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A teenage assassin kills with a single kiss until she is ordered to kill the one boy she loves. This commercial YA fantasy is romantic and addictive like– a poison kiss– and will thrill fans of Sarah J. Maas and Victoria Aveyard.

Marinda has kissed dozens of boys. They all die afterward. It s a miserable life, but being a visha kanya a poison maiden is what she was created to do. Marinda serves the Raja by dispatching his enemies with only her lips as a weapon.

Until now, the men she was ordered to kiss have been strangers, enemies of the kingdom. Then she receives orders to kiss Deven, a boy she knows too well to be convinced he needs to die. She begins to question who she s really working for. And that is a thread that, once pulled, will unravel more than she can afford to lose.

This rich, surprising, and accessible debut is based in Indian folklore and delivers a story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

review

4/5 Stars 

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Random House Books for Young Readers

Poison’s Kiss is a sweeping and thrilling journey into rich Indian folklore. Full of mystery, intrigue, a reluctant assassin, and gods, Poison’s Kiss is an adventure that will leave you hungry for more. 

PROS: 

  • Poison’s Kiss is a blend of Northern and Southern Indian legends, with a twist. In this world, based on India, the gods of folklore are spoken of in whispers, they’re on coins, they’re known by the masses, but more of as a hazy bedtime story. As someone who knows very little of Indian lore besides the main stories related to religion, this was epic. It’s whimsical and dark. There’s a sinister and revered undercurrent that runs throughout the story that keeps you on edge for the unexpected. I loved that the culture was just present. It wasn’t knock-you-over-the-head, explanations all over the place. From the food, to the clothing, to the bustling markets and snake charmers. You become immersed fast and it will consume you. 
  • Visha kanya. Poison maidens. This takes the idea to a whole new level. The poison becomes a vicious and deadly part of the maiden’s body. A kiss that kills. The process, how the poison takes hold, the connection to snakes, everything is elaborate and terrifying and absolutely addictive. 
  • Marinda grew on me. At first, I wasn’t sold on her. She takes forever to figure things out, she is defiant, she puts herself in danger, she doesn’t think and rushes in. There’s nothing that drives me nuts worse than someone who doesn’t take a second to think. But Marinda is incredibly brave, compassionate, and will do anything for her brother, who is not even hers by blood, but he’s the only thing that helps her keep her humanity after so much death and destruction. The guilt consumes her. The toll of killing, knowing what the poison does, it breaks her despite the knowledge that she is doing something for the greater good. Marinda doesn’t want to be what she is, but she has no choice. The danger is so high and she knows the consequences of trying to escape her keeper. Marinda has a beautiful heart. She genuinely loves and gives that love to her brother, no matter how down she is. Scenes from her childhood and how she became a visha kanya are brutal and heartbreaking. 
  • Not all villains are wholly evil. The characters are complex. Their beliefs are deeply rooted and not everyone is what they seem. Gopal is a true villain. He’s sadistic, horrible, and the carnage he leaves behind, it’s the stuff of nightmares. Kadru, she’s super creepy, otherworldly, and vicious. Those snakes, chills. 
  • Devin’s charm is in how much he cares. It doesn’t matter that he’s hot, it’s his heart. The way he treats Mani is enough to make any girl fall for him. 

CONS:

  • I wish there would have been a more in-depth look at the various gods and how they featured in the culture at their height. The main character knows pretty much nothing about them because she was so sheltered, so that’s a big blank for the reader as well. A little more world building would have solidified each of these figures, their strengths, their weaknesses, and how they relate to the world as it is now. 
  • The romance was so-so. On one hand, I liked that it wasn’t so centered on the falling. On the other hand, I would have liked more build up. Near the end it feels rushed and clumsy. I mean the surge of emotion. Sure after everything they’ve been through emotions are off the charts, but it bordered on instalove because of how it’s slammed into the story at the end. There were some cute interactions before everything fell apart though.

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Epic reading, 

Jordan

Blog Tour, Excerpt, and Reviews: In Truth and Ashes by Nicole Luiken

in truth and ashes nicole luikenthrough fire and seaGoodreads/Amazon/UK/CA/B&N/iBooks/Kobo/Entangled

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There is one True World, and then there are the four mirror worlds: fire, water, air, and stone. And each has a magic of its own…

In the Fire World, seventeen-year-old Leah is the illegitimate daughter of one of the realm’s most powerful lords. She’s hot-blooded—able to communicate with the tempestuous volcano gods. But she has another gift…the ability to Call her twin “Otherselves” on other worlds.

Holly resides in the Water World—our world. When she’s called by Leah from the Fire World, she nearly drowns. Suddenly the world Holly thought she knew is filled with secrets, magic…and deadly peril.

For a malevolent force seeks to destroy the mirror worlds. And as Leah and Holly are swept up in the tides of chaos and danger, they have only one choice to save the mirror worlds—to shatter every rule they’ve ever known…

review4/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Entangled. 

Through Fire and Sea is a multidimensional thrill ride. Worlds based on elements, traveling through mirrors, and meeting “otherselves” through the glass, Through Fire & Sea is a gripping epic that’s as refreshing as it is inventive.

PROS:

  • The world-building is astounding. Everything is intricately plotted and flows seamlessly together. The diversity between worlds is genius. Details in abundance. You can picture everything from scenery to secondary characters. The worlds are drastically different, it almost feels as though you’re travelling through time. It’s adventurous, lively, and keeps you guessing from start to finish.
  • There’s an interesting blend of creation myth, gods & goddesses, and science fiction. The volcanoes are temperamental and have distinct personalities. Personification at its finest. The link between elemental power and emotions is spell-binding. When the volcano mourns, lava flows and sulfur suffocates, when the sea weeps, waves rise to tsunami level. Just wow. 
  • Leah is a feisty, fiery beauty. She’s inquisitive, calculating, and emotional. She risks everything and puts lives on the line to save the world and at the same time, she’s got a beautiful, compassionate heart. Leah yearns for the affection of her father, the duke, but as a bastard she’s used as a pawn in a political game that leaves her emotions reeling. Leah struggles to balance what is right with pleasing her father. Leah is smart, she pushes through her insecurities to hone in on her skills and is pretty BA at everything she does. Leah embraces her hot-blooded nature and uses her elemental skills to battle the ultimate villain, a destroyer of worlds. Even though Leah has several reasons to give up, she pushes through and comes out stronger. 
  • Gideon and Leah are perfect together. Their interactions are natural and full of understanding. Leah tames his hysteria and Gideon calms her soul. It’s sweet and heartwarming watching their love grow. 
  • Holly feels a magnetic pull towards Ryan. Their connection is instantaneous and full of heat. Holly refuses to give up on Ryan despite everything they go through with Ryan’s rising stardom. Their relationship is imperfect and incredibly real (apart from the paranormal aspects).
  • Qeturah is a force to be reckoned with, a serious villain. She’s consistently steps ahead of everyone and her end game is a mystery that is impossible to crack. Qeturah wants to wreak havoc on the universe and she makes a good job of it. 
  • THAT ENDING. I will be waiting not so patiently for the next book because holy hot mess. The world is in danger and those most equipped for saving it are in no position to do so. 

CONS:

  • Secondary characters were unlikable and fairly predictable. Both worlds had a snotty mean girl and absentee parents that were forgettable. 
  • Holly’s character lacked the development Leah’s had. Her likes and dislikes fell into the background for what was expected of her and how the world perceived her. I wondered what Holly wanted to be, her dreams and aspirations. It seemed everything was related to someone else’s desires or happiness. 

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There is one True World, and then there are the four Mirror Worlds: Fire, Water, Air, and Stone.

Audrey and Dorotea are “otherselves”—twin copies of each other who live on different Mirror Worlds.

On Air, Audrey has the ability to communicate with wind spirits. As war looms, she’s torn between loyalty to her country and her feelings for a roguish phantom who may be a dangerous spy.

Blackouts and earthquakes threaten the few remaining humans on Stone, who have been forced to live underground. To save her injured sister, Dorotea breaks taboo and releases an imprisoned gargoyle. Brooding, sensitive Jasper makes her wonder if gargoyles aretruly traitors, as she’s always been told.

Unbeknownst to them, they both face the same enemy—an evil sorceress bent on shattering all the Mirror Worlds.

review4/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Entangled Teen

READ THIS BOOK IF:

  • You like strong female protagonists. 
  • You’re into world building.
  • Books that span genres excite you.

Amid Wind and Stone is a brilliant continuation of the Otherselves series. At first, I was a little hesitant to dive in because I loved the first two girls in Through Fire and Sea so much but OMG was I surprised. The romance feels as fresh as the quirky storyline and creative as the characters. 

PROS:

  • Audrey.Man that little minx. I love her to pieces. She’s ballsy and a total feminist. She loathes the female expectations and pressures of her upper-class life. Think Victorian/Steampunk. If you’re a Jane Austen fan, forget about it, this girl is PERFECT for you. Audrey is brave, fierce; she doesn’t let anything get in the way of her passions and dreams. She gets in trouble, sneaks around, takes risks, and does what so many are scared to, she lives, fully and vibrantly. She jumps through the air and rides the wind, she dresses up as boys to join the military, I mean, seriously, what is not to love about her? On top of that, she is cheeky, funny, and full of heart. 
  • Phantom.Playful, flirty, forward, and oh-so-swoon-worthy. He’s an invisible knight in shining armor with questionable behavior and secrets. There’s something about him that’s dangerous and thrilling that will make you fall hard. The vulnerable side…is there anything sexier than a guy who opens up and puts his fears and heart on full display? 
  • Phantom and Audrey. Sweet, teasing, addictive flirtation. I wanted whole books on this relationship.
  • Dorotea’s story is a little different but provocative, pervasive, and so relevant. Dorotea’s story is about indoctrination, the teachings of our parents, and how prejudice is spread without knowing the full story. Dorotea has powerful beliefs but they’re rooted in lies. This makes her mean sometimes and hardheaded. At first, it’s hard to get behind her, she seems needlessly cruel but once you understand her reasoning, it’s easy to see where that’s coming from. Underneath the prejudice is just a girl who loves beyond everything. She grows on you.
  • Jasper.Holy hotness. Think Beauty and the Beast. The way he burrows through rock and transforms. Give me more of that. Jasper challenges Dorotea, makes her step outside herself and it’s like a revelation.❤

CONS:

  • The climax was a bit of a letdown. For so long (if you’ve been eagerly anticipating revenge since book 1 like I have) we’ve waited for the reckoning, the moment when Qeturah would have to answer for her devious behavior and horrendous crimes and when it happens, it was abrupt and unsettling but something…I guess the processing by Leah and the others, wasn’t where it could have been to pack that emotional sucker punch. 
  • The feels weren’t as pronounced as in book 1. I didn’t have the same emotional connection to characters. 

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What she can’t remember could ruin her life.

The Mirror Worlds are but dull reflections of the True World, where magic and technology blend together…

On the True World, Belinda Loring has known from childhood that she must Bond with the son of another noble First Family. Uniting the families ensures hers will hold onto its powerful position, and so she’s always pushed down the tender feelings she has for her best friend—gorgeous, steadfast Demian, who isn’t noble.

But when the ceremonial magic goes disastrously wrong, Belinda becomes a national disgrace. Scorned as Broken, she turns to Demian for help getting revenge on the man who ruined her: the radical Malachi.

But the seeds of Malachi’s murderous plans lie buried in Belinda’s past, in the dark days of her kidnapping—a period of which she has no memory. And Demian may hold the key to recovering all that she’s lost—and saving the worlds.

review3.5/5 Stars 

*** I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Entangled Teen

In Truth and Ashes is full of unexpected twists, complex relationships, and an epic fantasy world. With memorable characters, romance, and multiple worlds to keep you ensnared, it’s a magical and exhilarating read. 

PROS:

  • I love Leah and Gideon’s story arc. From the beginning, I was completed consumed by their ill-fated romance. It’s complex, dangerous, full of fire and respect and learning each other. And the adrenaline. It’s fantastic. When I saw Leah pop up in this book, I prayed she’s have a huge roll and she does. Her love story gets even more emotional and chaotic. My heart broke for her. You can feel every ounce of her sadness and desperation, her pain…it’s brutal and beautiful and OMG I needed them to be okay because if they weren’t there was no such thing as happy endings. That scene at the end, the last one with Leah, be still my little black heart because heavy, dreamy sigh. Whoever said they didn’t like long-winded, straight from the heart confessions, is full of it. 
  • Belinda is not at all what I expected. From the previous books I assumed she was this snobby, cold, robot of a girl, but that is so not the case. Her back story is epic and mysterious and terrifying. She struggles with fierce loyalty to her family and trusting her heart. She’s brave, takes huge risks, and will do anything to save the world. She’s a full on heroine who is far from perfect, takes a few hits, and makes terrible assumptions, but she definitely redeems herself. 
  • Demian and Belinda. It’s sweet, playful, and who doesn’t love a sexy artist who is dynamite with his hands? His past is dark, complicated, and full of secrets that make him both endearing and magnetic. And those kisses ❤
  • The ending was shocking. I never saw it coming. I never expected it to end the way it did and it’s insanely creative the way it’s done. 

CONS:

  • If you hoping to see Holly, Audrey, and Dorotea, there parts are so fleeting and minimal that you almost forget they were there at all. I missed Audrey’s daredevil attitude and her saucy wit. I yearned for Dorotea’s heart and determination. I felt nostalgic and at a loss at some points without them. On the plus side, that means they were totally wonderful characters in the previous books and left a great impression, plus we finally got to see Belinda. On the minus side, it felt like the story was incomplete without them. As a final book (or what reads like one at least) I expected a more solid goodbye and it felt rushed to the conclusion. 
  • The fight seemed to go on forever because there were so many non-fights that dragged and were resolved in a too-simple fashion. Yes, people have elemental powers, but the struggle…until the last bit of the book (for Belinda and Demian) was a little soft. 

authornicole-luikenWebsite/Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads

Nicole Luiken wrote her first book at age 13 and never stopped.

She is the author of nine published books for young adults, including Violet Eyes and its sequels Silver Eyes and Angels Eyes, Frost, Unlocking the Doors, The Catalyst, Escape to the Overworld, Dreamfire and the sequel Dreamline. Through Fire & Sea, book one of Otherselves, and Amid Wind & Stone, book two of Otherselves, are her most recent releases. She also has an adult thriller, Running on Instinct, under the name N.M. Luiken and a fantasy romance series, Gate to Kandrith and Soul of Kandrith.

Nicole lives with her family in Edmonton, AB. It is physically impossible for her to go more than three days in a row without writing.

Excerpt

Nightmare

Fire World

Leah wept in her sleep. And dreamed:

She was a dragon, floating on an orange sea of molten rock. Far above her was a hole like an eye, the Volcano Lord Thunderhead’s caldera. At first, the heat felt pleasant, soaking away the lingering chill of death, but then it increased in intensity as the magma invaded every nerve and lit them each on fire. She screamed through her ruined throat and convulsed—

Leah bolted upright and found herself in the Aerie, the top room of Qeturah’s Tower. She must have fallen asleep on Gideon’s bed.

She was shaking, her heart trying to beat its way out of her chest. Her skin felt clammy. What a terrible, awful nightmare.

One whole side of the Aerie opened out onto a large natural stone balcony. Outside, the sun silhouetted Thunderhead’s steep-sided black cone against the red sky. Thin trails of lava trickled down his sides as he erupted again.

The Volcano Lord grieved for the loss of his son, just as Leah grieved.

Leah had met Gideon here in this very room. He’d been feverish, and she’d been spying for her father, Duke Ruben, trying to prove that the evil sorceress Qeturah had something to do with the dragon attacks on their valley. Only, by the time she found out Gideon shape-shifted into the dragon at night and his mother Qeturah used a magic amulet to control him, Leah had already fallen in love with Gideon, and turning him in had been unthinkable.

But in the end, she’d been unable to protect him from her father. Duke Ruben’s army had shot the dragon down with a huge crossbow, and Gideon had died. And his death had signaled the beginning of the end of Fire World.

Gideon’s father, Thunderhead, had erupted and killed Duke Ruben and three other dukes. Their deaths, in turn, had sent the Volcano Lords linked to them into a mindless fury, and they’d all exploded. Those not killed in the eruptions would likely starve in the next year, since falling ash had blighted all the crops.

And Leah could barely bring herself to care.

Gideon was dead. Duke Ruben, her father, whom she’d alternately feared and wanted to please, was dead. Likely so were Jehannah, her half-sister, and her mother, Beulah. Her childhood home was destroyed.

Leah had spent all her time since the cataclysm struggling to stop Qeturah. But now Qeturah was dead, too. And Leah had no purpose.

Oh, the war hadn’t ended: Qeturah had had a mentor named Malachi who had supported her. He was still out there, no doubt still scheming to shatter the other Mirror Worlds, but Leah had run out of energy to fight. Let someone else take him down, someone from the True World.

Malachi wasn’t her problem.

Leah would just stay here with her memories. Alone.

Only the thought of the nightmare returning kept her from sleeping the rest of the day away.

Other Stops on the Tour 

January 2nd

For Love of Books4 – Spotlight Post

YA Book Madness – Review Book #3

January 3rd

RoloPoloBookBlog – Spotlight Post

January 4th

Queekie Girl Reads – Guest Post

January 5th

YaReads – Author Interview

Sizzling Hot Books – Review Book #1

January 6th

The Book Beacon – Review Book #3

Pearls Cast Before A McPig – Spotlight Post

January 7th
Just One More Chapter – Spotlight Post

January 8th

Roxy’s Book Reviews – Spotlight Post

January 9th

Mythical Books – Author Interview

The Crafty Engineer’s Bookshelf- Review Book #3- Review Book #3

January 10th

Captivated Reading – Guest Post

January 11th

Crossroad Reviews – Spotlight Post

Splashes Into Books – Review Book #3

January 12th

YA Book Divas – Guest Post

January 13th

Sleeps on Tables – Spotlight Post

Home of Writing – Review Book #2

January 14th

Verbosity Reviews – Review Book #1

January 15th

Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Author Interview

Magical reading, 

Jordan

 

Best of 2016: YA Book Madness’ Top 16 YA Reads

It’s been a crazy year. I’ve done so much that I never thought I would with writing and making blogger/author friends. Through all the chaos I’ve read some amazing books (though not all of them got reviewed). Last year I broke my top picks into categories. This year, I’ve decided to do an overall top 16 and then into broad categories. Tell me if you’ve read any on my list, what you thought, and feel free to recommend some of your top 2016 YA books!!!

BEST OF 2016 YA OVERALL 

BEST of 2016 SCIENCE FICTION

BEST of 2016 CONTEMPORARY

BEST of 2016 HORROR

BEST of 2016 THRILLER

BEST of 2016 PARANORMAL 

Pleasant reading, 

Jordan

Tour, Interview, & Giveaway: Flicker and Mist by Mary G. Thompson

flicker-and-mistflickrandmistAmazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads

Pub. Date: January 3, 2017

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Romance, intrigue, and plenty of action are woven into a rich and suspenseful narrative in this powerful YA fantasy.

The mixed-race heroine Myra is a Flickerkin and can flicker (become invisible) at will. She hasn’t cultivated or revealed this ability, since Flickerkin are persecuted as potential criminals and spies. When invisible people become tricksters and then murderers, Myra’s Flickerkin heritage becomes a deadly secret, putting her relationship with the leader’s son—and her own life—in jeopardy. Loyalties shift and difficult choices are made before Myra understands who she wants to be. 

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YA: What inspired you to write Flicker and Mist?

Mary: I’ve wanted to write about invisibility for many years, and I finally found the right story. One time a boyfriend asked me, “If you could have a superpower, would you rather have flight or invisibility?” I said invisibility, and we laughed about all the dishonest and immoral things one could do with that power, like stealing money and spying on people. When I was writing Flicker and Mist, I thought about all the ways people without the ability would fear those who had it, and that led to the structure of this world, where the majority use their fear to oppress the minority.

YA: The main character, Myra, is of mixed-race. Incorporating diversity in YA is a challenge that so many authors are doing a fabulous job of, adding such rich characters to the genre. What are some of your favorite diverse books?

Mary: I’m making a New Year’s resolution to read more books in translation. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami is a classic. There’s a scene near the beginning that haunts me literally every time I get on a bus. For fantasy by US authors, I loved Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. It takes place in Nigeria and introduced me to something new. Recently I enjoyed Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith, which is a classic historical fantasy set in the 1930s.

YA: Tell me about Myra. What makes her a heroine we’ll root for?

Mary: Myra is secretly a Flickerkin, a person who can become invisible. She has to hide her ability because the government fears spies. She wants to be able to fit in with the majority race, the Plats, but since she’s half Leftie, she always feels a little bit out of place. When strange things begin occurring in New Heart City and Flickerkin are blamed, the government starts torturing Lefties to see if they’re Flickerkin. Now Myra has to confront the prejudice that’s always been all around her. She has to embrace her ability in order to survive and to help change the world for the better. Along the way, she has to work out her relationship with Caster, who is the son of the person responsible for torturing Lefties. He’s the opposite of his father, but how will he react to learning the truth? I think we all can relate to a character who feels like she has something to hide. Women and girls are always being told that they have to look and act and be a certain way. Myra’s situation is more extreme, but I think her journey toward accepting herself and demanding that others appreciate her will make sense to a lot of people.

YA: Describe Flicker and Mist in the length of a tweet.

Mary: Myra’s ability to become invisible is illegal. Now it’s time to stop hiding. Can she have her safe life and also become who she’s meant to be?

YA: What are some of the broad concepts in Flicker and Mist? What do you want the reader to get out of the story?

Mary: First there’s the thought experiment of what the world would be like if only some people could become invisible. How would other people react? In this world there’s a racial component to the ability, so there are issues of racial prejudice. The government also uses the people’s fear of Flickerkin to justify taking Leftie resources, so there’s the question of how real the fear is versus how it’s convenient for the ruling group. There’s the issue of war and peace and the importance of human life. In this world, weapons have been banned since a devastating war, but some people are willing to take up arms again. When is it necessary to kill, and when can society’s problems be solved through peaceful means?

On a personal level for Myra, there’s the question of who to trust. She loves Caster, but since he doesn’t know her secret, she’s never sure how far his love goes. The Flickerkin boy who likes her, Nolan, treats her with less respect but understands her on a different level because he knows her secret. She has to learn to trust her instincts about who will be there when things get tough.

There is no specific message that I hope readers will get out of the story. I just hope that people will think about all these issues. If you were in the situation Myra is in at the end of the book, what choice would you make? How can the Lefties best gain their rights and how can the Plats learn to overcome their fear of Flickerkin? How should this society tackle the negative aspects of their religion, which contributes to racial prejudice?

YA: What are some of the challenges Myra faces?

Mary: Myra’s most important challenge is to embrace all the aspects of herself, including her ability. It’s only after she learns how to use it and to accept that it’s a positive and not a negative quality that she can take action. She has to figure out how to save her mother and other Flickerkin who face possible execution, solve the mystery of who committed an attack that killed her friend, and try to prevent another war. Along the way, she has to figure out who to trust and learn to rely on her own judgment.

YA: How would you describe the story, pure fantasy, action, thriller?

Mary: I would describe it as high fantasy, since it takes place in a world not our own. Some have called it dystopian, but I don’t think that label quite fits.

YA: Is there romance?

Mary: Yes! Myra is in love with Caster, but she also has some feelings for Nolan, who is a Flickerkin in hiding.

YA: Do you have a favorite line that you’d like to share?

Mary: The very last line of the book. I won’t quote it, since it would be a spoiler, but it was very satisfying to me.

authormarygthompson_med_hrWebsite | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads

Mary G. Thompson was raised in Cottage Grove and Eugene, OR. She was a practicing attorney for more than seven years, including almost five years in the US Navy, and is now a law librarian in Washington, DC. She received her BA from Boston University, her JD from the University of Oregon, and her MFA in Writing for Children from The New School.

giveaway

3 winners will receive a signed finished copy of FLICKER AND MIST, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

12/26/2016- Twinning for Books- Interview

12/27/2016- Seeing Double In Neverland- Review

12/28/2016- Wandering Bark Books- Guest Post

12/29/2016- Fiktshun- Review

12/30/2016- YA Book Madness- Interview

 

Week Two:

1/2/2017- Fiction Fare- Review

1/3/2017- A Gingerly Review- Excerpt

1/4/2017- Curling Up With A Good Book – Excerpt

1/5/2017- Two Chicks on Books- Interview

1/6/2017- Nerdophiles- Review

Fantastic reading, 

Jordan