ARC Review: Gilded Cage by Vic James

gilded-cageGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

Release Date: Feb 14, 2017

syn

Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.

Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

review

3.5/5 Stars 

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

PROS: 

That first chapter. Holy on the edge of your seat foreboding, anxiety, and all around fascination. Three hot brothers, a mysterious woman with a baby, magic…it’s compelling, gripping, you won’t want to put it down. And the personality. Each character is strong in tone and development. They almost feel like dark fae princes. If you’ve read Holly Black or Julie Kagawa, you’ll get some serious vibes here. Gavar, Jenner, and Silyen. The whole Jardine clan of men. The layers and layers of questionable morals and cold snark. The darkness within. It’s addictive. They’re the most interesting characters, no matter how intriguing Luke’s work as a rebel is. Gavar alone is like this grumbly Phantom of the Opera character meets Beast from Beauty and the Beast. Jenner is a sort of Darcy. Silyen, you want to hate him, but his story is the most versatile, interesting, and he’s so unreliable as a narrator that you’re unsure whether to trust him. He’s your epic love-hate male interest. 

Luke’s story is almost on Les Mis level. Tossed into the heart of the rebellion and amongst a clandestine group of people within the working class. My Russian heart swelled at this revolutionary vibe. Luke is bumbling, he doesn’t know who he is, what he wants to be, he’s a little baby-ish and resentful as the story starts-he just wants to hang with his friends, play some football and chill, but no. Luke makes the biggest transformation in the story. His heart is full of justice and yearning, of that desperation to do right, even if it results in death. He becomes the cause and OMG does he get slaughtered for it-figuratively (no spoilers). You know in Les Mis when they sing “Red and Black” or “Do You Hear the People Sing?” That is the soundtrack to Luke’s chapters. He’s a supplanted Marius. 

OMG that cliffhanger. The last few chapters of the book are jam-packed with twists that will stun and shock and turn you inside out. The predictable ones were made unpredictable because they had another level of deceit. I’ve never seen anything like it. Just when you’re nodding your head along, satisfied and sure that you had everything figured out, boom, epic level twist tacked right on. Mind blown. The ending. I can’t get over everything that happened. All the lies, the evil, the morals are tossed to the wind (not that they weren’t throughout, but these are particularly sinister and vile). 

Love is everywhere. Sibling, friendship, romantic. All forms. Sometimes it’s twisted, others it’s pure and builds. There’s so much of it. Romance is subtle, but grows. The one Romeo and Juliet style romance…oh my poor little heart-obliterated. Cruel cruel story. 

CONS:

Some of the POVs thrown in were questionable and didn’t really seem to have a function. More than that, they threw off the whole feeling of the book. As a reader, you pause and question why these new characters are suddenly there and whether we should care or not. For the most part, it was random and jarring. These POVs that shifted from the main characters detracted from the overall tone.

This book was highly political. At its heart, it’s a story of repression, rebellion, and challenging the system through planned and exhilarating vigilante justice. Sometimes the politics were unclear, especially in terms of history, why the world is structured the way it is, and it doesn’t explain as much as it should until late in the book and from there it’s a whirlwind of explosive reveals and insanity-utter chaos to the extreme, which leads me to my next point…

Pacing. The book starts out interesting enough. It pulls you in, it keeps you going, and then there’s a major lag, which is infuriating because it should not be happening at all. There’s all sorts of crazy stuff happening-plans for fighting oppression, protests, escapes, all high adrenaline stuff, but the constant swapping POVs dimmed the tension. There’s also a lot going on, inside the magical “palace” and in the slums. 

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

 Lovely reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

the-bear-and-the-nightGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

syn

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.

bearandthenightingale_ecards_v3-81

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

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

blackmage

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

first-year-cover

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?

apprentice-cover

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?

candidate-cover

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.

last-stand-cover

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.

non-heir-cover

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.

Official Site/Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Pinterest/Tumblr/Goodreads/Wattpad

Amazon 

Magical reading, 

Jordan

 

ARC Review: Poison’s Kiss by Breeana Shields

poisonsGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

Release Date: Jan 10, 2017

syn

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

Cover Reveal: The Pine Forest by Michelle Dare

Goodreads/Amazon US/Amazon UK/B&N/iBooks/Kobo/ARe

Cover Designer: Covers by Christian

syn

One touch, one spark, two lives forever changed.

Pine and Azure. The war between the two kingdoms lasted far too long. Peace was finally established, but the survivors would never forget who fought on the front lines. Oliver Sage had a reputation for being a ruthless knight. He’d seen enough death to last a lifetime and worked on putting the past behind him, although not all would let him forget.

Addison was the only daughter of King and Queen Azure. With three brothers, she knew she’d always be protected, but she also wanted to learn how to take care of herself. She was strong, had a good heart, and wanted to be treated as an equal. Magical abilities ran in her family, and she had one no one knew of.

Oliver had given his heart to one princess, until the night he dreamed of another. Addison was the last woman he should desire, especially given who she was. However, what if she wanted him as well? They’d hated each other their entire lives, but suddenly couldn’t resist the desire which built between them. There were also those who didn’t think they should be together. Forbidden romance could only stay hidden for so long in the dark depths of the Pine Forest.

BOOK ONE

Amazon US/Amazon UK/B&N/iBooks/Kobo/ARe

author

Michelle Dare is a romance author. Her stories range from sweet to sinful and from new adult to fantasy. There aren’t enough hours in the day for her to write all of the story ideas in her head. When not writing or reading, she’s a wife and mom living in eastern Pennsylvania. One day she hopes to be writing from a beach where she will never have to see snow or be cold again.

Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest/Website/Newsletter

Romantic reading, 

Jordan

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Within the Darkest Hollows by D.A. Roach

 

“It also fills you with so much excitement as you devour this epic adventure that Roach has taken you on.” – 5 Star iScream Books 

“For a YA paranormal, this series is superb. Personally I usually want/need that ‘adult’ edge – however this series really doesn’t need it.” – 5 Star Hashtag Minxes Love Books 

“Love!! I’ve been waiting for book 2 for what seemed like forever and so worth the wait!” – 5 star Reader Review

syn
Cassidy and her mystical ring are stuck in the middle of a battle between the Demon World and the Mortal Realm…
 
A conflict with the demons has left Killian, head of the Demon Hunters, injured and stripped of his powerful Demon Hunter tattoo. Cassidy is tasked with caring for him in the Human Realm until he is well enough to cross back into the Demon Realm. But soon she notices he is acting strangely and begins to suspect something is wrong.
 
She seeks help from Serena, a retired Demon Hunter, but it’s too late…
 
Cassidy returns home to find Killian has gone missing. Tyler, a friend with his own set of mystical powers, shows up to tell her that Killian is at his house demanding a meeting with the Demon Queen Rya. She and Serena have to work fast to find a way to heal Killian and get Cassidy’s ring away from him before Rya is involved. Meanwhile, Tyler and his dad have their own plan to make a deal with the Queen.
 
The Queen has a decision to make, but not before securing her leverage…
 
Rya wants time to consider the offer presented by Tyler’s dad, and takes Cassidy to the Demon Realm as collateral. The Demon Queen must choose between Tyler, the mate she was promised, and the mystical ring that was forged for her years ago.
 
Tyler is forced to face the inner demon he has worked so hard to restrain. Will he succeed, or will he be lost to the darkness, leaving Cassidy to be sacrificed by the demons?
 
As both sides gain alliances, the tension between the realms grows and the time for action draws near…
teaser

OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES 

author

Facebook/Twitter/Amazon/Goodreads/Website/Newsletter

D.A. Roach has been telling stories since she was a young girl in the suburbs of Chicago. In college she met the man of her dreams, her happily ever after, and married him 2 weeks after graduating. They have 3 kids together and a pet cockatiel named Gimli. D.A. did not find a love for books until after college. Her parents were immigrants from Lithuania and found tv and radio easier ways to hear stories so they did not do much reading or encourage it. But once she finished college and D.A. had free time, she discovered how amazing it was to get lost in a story.

D.A. is a full time mom and wife. When she is not doing domestic things (laundry, bills, etc) she is writing, reading, creating mixed media art, and helping beautify her kids’ school landscape. Oh, and she is ALWAYS listening to music. Her favorite authors include Rebecca Donovan, Richelle Mead, Larissa Ione, Stephanie Meyer, E.L. James, and Sylvia Day. Reading great works from authors like these has motivated D.A. to write her own stories. She hopes to make positive changes in the world with her art and writing.

 giveaway
Enter for your chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card 
 

 

HOSTED BY:

Thrilling reading, 
Jordan

Release Day Blitz & Giveaway: Lost Girl by Chanda Hahn

synWendy doesn’t remember anything about Neverland—or the experiments done on her there as a child. Seven years later, all she wants is a normal life, but shape-shifting shadows plague her dreams and turn her life into a waking nightmare. When the shadows attack at a football game and a boy disappears right in front of her, she realizes these wraith-like shadows are real. They’re not just haunting—they’re hunting.

A mysterious boy named Peter, his foul-mouthed sidekick, and a band of misfit boys intervene before Wendy faces a similar fate. But can they trust Wendy enough to take her to Neverwood Academy and reveal all of their hidden secrets when she’s hiding a secret of her own, or will the dreaded Red Skulls find her and drag her back to Neverland?

teaser

beautiful hipster girl
COME JOIN THE RELEASE EVENT!
We’ll be celebrating the release of Lost Girl by Chanda Hahn
and The God Thief by Ben Hale!
Lots of fun, games & prizes!!!

giveawayEnter for your chance to win a Kindle Fire, a signed paperback of Lost Girl, a signed paperback of God Thief 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure and check out Ben Hale’s new book…
Now infamous for his exploits, Jack Myst is a master thief. 
 
As a member of the Thieves Guild he has fought assassins, reavers, and even a devil—but now he faces his greatest challenge yet, the rank of guildmaster. Ascending to the office after defeating Skorn at Margauth, he launches a daring plan, one to steal what cannot be stolen.
 
A god.
 
But Skorn has retrieved the fragments of an ancient artifact, and has begun construction on the Necrolith, the beacon of ending. He issues a king’s bounty on Jack’s head, turning governments and guilds against him. Hounded by soldiers and hunted by assassins, it will require all of Jack’s skill to triumph over Skorn.
 
He couldn’t be more excited.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FULL MASTER THIEF SERIES OR TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THESE AWESOME BOOKS BY BEN HALE!
 
 authorchanda
Chanda Hahn is a New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author of the Unfortunate Fairy Tale Series. She uses her experience as a children’s pastor, children’s librarian and bookseller to write compelling and popular fiction for teens. She was born in Seattle, WA, grew up in Nebraska and currently resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband and their twin children.
An Unfortunate Fairy Tale Series
               
The Iron Butterfly Series
      
Underland

 

Magical reading, 
Jordan