Continue below to read my review of the book and be sure to follow this link - [TOUR SCHEDULE] to check out the rest of the stops on the 'LITTLE THIEVES' book tour brought to you by TBR & BEYOND TOURS and MARGARET OWEN!
October 19th, 2021
Young Adult Fantasy
Once upon a time, there was a horrible girl…
Vanja Schmidt knows that no gift is freely given, not even a mother’s love–and she’s on the hook for one hell of a debt. Vanja, the adopted goddaughter of Death and Fortune, was Princess Gisele’s dutiful servant up until a year ago. That was when Vanja’s otherworldly mothers demanded a terrible price for their care, and Vanja decided to steal her future back… by stealing Gisele’s life for herself.
The real Gisele is left a penniless nobody while Vanja uses an enchanted string of pearls to take her place. Now, Vanja leads a lonely but lucrative double life as princess and jewel thief, charming nobility while emptying their coffers to fund her great escape. Then, one heist away from freedom, Vanja crosses the wrong god and is cursed to an untimely end: turning into jewels, stone by stone, for her greed.
Vanja has just two weeks to figure out how to break her curse and make her getaway. And with a feral guardian half-god, Gisele’s sinister fiancé, and an overeager junior detective on Vanja’s tail, she’ll have to pull the biggest grift yet to save her own life.
Margaret Owen, author of The Merciful Crow series, crafts a delightfully irreverent retelling of “The Goose Girl” about stolen lives, thorny truths, and the wicked girls at the heart of both.
rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ (4 / 5 stars)
I wasn't prepared for how much this book was going to hurt me.. nor the ways it would choose to do so. My emotions didn't start out particularly raw, in fact.. people have often felt I don't seem sensitive enough.
Like anyone, I can get invested in a specific character or relationship.. sure. I can become moved by their losses and their struggles. But this story hurt me in a very personal way. Vanja's pain is old and carefully tucked away, so when it gets dragged out.. it's not healed up quite like one might think.. having left it behind as she did. It's still a poison eating at the way she views everything.
In part, I blame unfamiliarity. I had never actually read The Goose Girl prior to picking up this book, which is the original fairy tale penned by The Brothers Grimm and I haven't read anything from Margaret Owen before, author of the acclaimed Merciful Crow series. If I had, perhaps I'd have been ready, but I have my doubts.
Though the story of The Goose Girl is troubling, Owen's touch takes it from a mere warning to a visceral experience. While Vanja's behavior may be unsavory, I certainly couldn't fault her for her reasoning. Watching her process, not just the things that had been done to her.. but also the lack of aid and the feelings of betrayal she developed was heartwrenching. The very way she subconsciously approached situations where she had been hurt, so telling of exactly why she would arm herself emotionally in the ways she had.
Death and Fortune enamored me. I loved the fact that though they were moved to attempt kindness, as gods.. their actions were disassociative. The lack of true understanding for human feelings was the perfect frame for Vanja's already battered childhood.
The world-building is rich and if not always beautiful.. at least beautifully textured. With a villain the likes of which I rarely come across, an intriguing magic system, and just the right evolutions between characters.. at just the right times.. Little Thieves manages to be both achingly dark and surprisingly hopeful.
If you like stories that dig in their claws and don't let go, characters that are more grey than black or white, and moral choices that leave you questioning your own principles.. this is the book for you.
About the Author:
Born and raised at the end of the Oregon Trail, Margaret Owen first encountered an author in the wild in fourth grade. Roughly twenty seconds later, she decided she too would be an author, the first of many well-thought-out life decisions.
The career plan shifted frequently as Margaret spent her childhood haunting the halls of Powell’s Books. After earning her degree in Japanese, her love of espresso called her north to Seattle, where she worked in everything from thrift stores to presidential campaigns. The common thread between every job can be summed up as: lessons were learned.
Fortunately, it turned out that fourth-grade Margaret was onto something. She now spends her days wrestling disgruntled characters onto the page, and negotiating a long-term hostage situation with her two monstrous cats. (There is surprisingly little difference between the two.) In her free time, she enjoys exploring ill-advised travel destinations, and raising money for social justice nonprofits through her illustrations.
Continue below to read my review of the book and be sure to follow this link - [TOUR SCHEDULE] to check out the rest of the stops on the 'TIDES AND RUIN' blog tour brought to you by LITERARY BOUND TOURS and MIRANDA LYN!
Tides and Ruin
(Fae Rising Series)
October 12th, 2021
New Adult/Upper YA
You heard her scream when he fell on that battlefield.
Stealing a prized jewel is nothing compared to a heart. Raised to be the perfect thief, Lyra was not above using her body or her siren’s song to take exactly what she wanted, when she wanted it.
But when she is attacked and her song is stolen, she must find a way to win over the commander of the Flame Court while on the brink of war, even if it means sacrificing everything she’d ever learned about being a siren. She thought she could fool him, fool them all. But really she was only fooling herself.
This standalone spin-off will sweep you under the sea with star-crossed lovers, stow you away on pirate ships, and destroy you all over again.
rating: ★ ★ ★ (3/5 stars)
'Tides and Ruin' is the fourth book and a spin-off of the Fae Rising series by Miranda Lyn.
Over the last year, I've heard a ton about this author and series from my friends.. even those who don't read a lot of indie work.. and so I've been meaning to give it a try for awhile. This book has all the elements that I couldn't resist.. sirens/mermaids, pirates, fae, and the sea.
Star-crossed love is always a fun trope, especially when there's innate distrust involved.. and Lyra has plenty of that. She's a bit of a jaded character, written to come across as an edgy, tough-talking female.. but it reads more like posturing by someone who thinks that's how it sounds. The result being she's a bit of a cliche, however likable.
The author has an elegant writing style and paints dramatic scenes vividly, but the more personal encounters are often just more of a glancing blow. It's really kind of interesting to see how different the two are at times.
All-in-all, it's a quick, fun read. While there's a lot of room to expand on character and story depth here, it's enjoyable for what it is. Somewhat steamy, mythical fun with a bit of 'eye candy' along the way.
Blood and Promise is the debut novel for Miranda Lyn.
She grew up smack dab in the middle of the United States with nothing to do but dream up stories of fantastical creatures and powerful heroines. Now married with three children of her own, an idea sparked a buried passion within her to follow a dream and teach her children that anything is possible if you’re willing to work hard for it.
Check out our website for extras, character art, and exclusive content. www.faerising.com. Also, click here to sign up for the mailing list and get access to more exclusive content and giveaways!: https://www.faerising.com/subscribe
Continue below to read my review of the book and be sure to follow this link - [TOUR SCHEDULE] to check out the rest of the stops on the 'STORM TO SPRING' blog tour brought to you by LITERARY BOUND TOURS and ATIMA KIM!
Storm to Spring (Matrons of Miang, Book 2)
October 5th, 2021
Young Adult Fantasy
Brave the Storm.
Yeena’s time to choose her consort is nearing, but she has her doubts both about her Nakoyan lover and her own abilities as the future matron. When she is compelled to help free an Andan prisoner, she gives the young spring witch an offer he can’t refuse and in return he reveals a secret that will change everything. Now Yeena must face down her own demons in order to claim her birthright and to protect the people she cares about most.
The second standalone installment in the Matrons of Miang series about overcoming trauma, finding your strength, and learning to love after losing it all. Featuring an elemental magic adventure, fierce romance, and an adorable baby dragon. Legend of Korra meets How to Train Your Dragon in this Asian-Inspired, OWN Voices fantasy romance sure to enchant and captivate YA readers.
rating: ★ ★ ★ (3/5 stars)
The story is casually paced and at first glance, seems to give off Avatar: The Last Airbender vibes through its clan and magic system design. Once beyond that initial impression however, it develops into a broader topic.
Carefully curated through layers of Asian inspired fantasy, is a gentle discussion about generational obligation and what it means to try to balance such ingrained beliefs with the personal need for individuality and actual happiness. In Yeena's case, the cost could be high, but that's something she has to figure out for herself.
I feel like the prose is a little stiff. It's clear that Kim is still developing her skills, as it reads a little like someone just out of a creative writing class in regards to sentence structure.. not quite fluid or comfortable yet. But the plot moves forward steadily and all of the basics are in place.
While the relationships contained within the book could be given a bit more depth.. again, I chalk that up to an author just on the cusp of blossoming. Kim obviously has lovely stories to tell and a lot of potential in the future.
As traditional as the setting was laid out, the dialogue language did pull me out of immersion a bit.. but I still enjoyed the journey. If you're looking for a quick read with some interesting texture and strong female representation, give this one a try.
Atima Kim is an Asian American author from Seattle, Washington. In addition to writing books she is a small business owner, dog walker, chicken owner, and a perfectly average mother.
Her books draw lots of inspiration from her real life and she hopes to achieve more representation and diversity in literature and especially the world of self-publishing.
Her debut novel “Spark to Shadow” is set to be the first in a series of standalones.
The Soul of Love
She lay still in his arms, allowing the heat from his body to lull her back into a semi-relaxed state. When he made no move to resume the intimacy of their wedding night, she turned slightly toward him.
Burying his head in her hair, he breathed in her scent as if committing it to memory. “I will leave you alone if that is your wish. We can wait until you are ready to consummate our marriage.” Feeling a heavy sorrow at the thought of leaving her, he nonetheless did not want to cause her any more turmoil. He would wait, even as it threatened to dim the joy he felt at finally having her back in his life.
He pressed a kiss against her temple and released her. As he turned away and made his way out of the bed, Psyche was gripped with fear at the thought of him leaving her. It was so strong it overwhelmed her with a desire to keep him by her side in spite of her reservations.
Not understanding her reaction to his departure, she cried out, “Wait!” Reaching out to stop him, she was shocked to discover what her hand was gripping. “You have wings,” she said in startled amazement.
Eros stopped and shuddered at the touch of her hand on his wing. It was the first touch she initiated between them of her own volition, and it devastated him. Holding still, for he did not trust himself, he waited to see what she would do.
Psyche was too stunned to do anything but hold on to his wing for several moments. When he did nothing to repudiate her touch, she slowly slid her hand down his wing, marveling at the soft texture and heat. Repeating the caress, she inched closer and brought her other hand to press against his other wing. Feeling emboldened by his continued silence, she pressed against his back and continued to stroke his wings.
Then Psyche laid her cheek against the center of his shoulder blades, where his wings grew out of his back. She continued her slow caress. The feel of his wings seemed strangely familiar, as if she had run her hands over them hundreds of times. Frowning, she tried to remember, the memory teasing along the edges of her mind, but no matter how hard she tried, the knowledge danced away from her. Before she could chase the phantom memory, she was distracted by the hiss of pleasure that her new husband released at her touch.
Eros could barely restrain himself from turning around and pinning her to the bed as lust consumed him. The feel of her bare breasts pressed against his lower back sent shards of pleasure directly to his groin, where he tightened painfully as she continued to pet him. But it was her breath teasing the sensitive nerve endings of where his wings emerged from his back that was his undoing. When she started to nuzzle him, Eros knew he had to warn her before he lost total control. “Psyche, make your choice now. I only have so much control, and I have waited so long for you that I cannot continue to let you touch me without taking you. So choose, do I stay or do I go?”
Psyche stilled at his words. Faced with the power to control even a small part of her destiny gave her courage. Feeling that something fragile and precious would be lost if she allowed him to leave this night, she made her decision. “Stay.”
A New Queen
Amanda lives in Alabama, with her husband and cat. She enjoys IKEA cinnamon rolls and trying new recipes of macaroni and cheese.
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The Sound of Violet
June 21st, 2021
Desperate to find a soulmate, Shawn goes on one awkward date after another until he encounters the alluring Violet. He starts dating her, but his autism keeps him from realizing that she's actually a prostitute.
Shawn thinks he's found a potential wife while Violet thinks she's found her ticket to a brand new life. This hilarious and dramatic award-winning story has been adapted into a major motion picture.
About the Author:
Allen Wolf has won multiple awards as an author, filmmaker, and game creator. He is also the host of the Navigating Hollywood podcast where he interviews film and TV professionals about what it takes to thrive in entertainment.
He married his Persian princess, and they are raising their kids in Los Angeles. Allen loves traveling around the world and hearing people’s life stories. He is an avid fan of Disneyland where he has visited over 500 times. Allen wrote, directed, and produced the feature film adaption of The Sound of Violet which will debut in late 2021.
'Empire of the Vampire' by Jay Kristoff is Book 1 in the trilogy by the same name. A story which finds our narrator imprisoned and waiting to die for the crime of killing the Forever King.
With the last proper sunrise twenty-seven years past, vampires have spread their eternal empire far and wide. Destroying the human civilization bit by bit, they've rained death and destruction everywhere they've gone.
Silversaint, sworn brother of the holy Ordo Argent (Silver Order).. half-human and half-vampire, Gabriel de Leon has dedicated himself to defense of the realm. Not that it's necessarily stood beside him in return. Still.. he's the last line of defense between our world and theirs.
Forced to tell the tales of his legendary battles, forbidden love, loss of faith and self.. his captors press for more. Demanding everything of him.. intimate details of relationships, the Wars of the Blood, and the quest for hope.. The Holy Grail, he has little choice but to give them what they want.
If I'm being entirely honest, I'd been waiting for this book for well over a year. It's easily my most highly anticipated 2021 release and I'm happy to say, Kristoff absolutely delivers.
Not only is this story right up my proverbial alley, gritty and bloody.. with plenty of suffering to go around, Kristoff's writing skill also seems to reach a pinnacle here. While managing to maintain the rough edges his stories and characters are known for, there's a dark refinement at work within the pages.. a pristine alchemy.. a masterwork.. if you please.
I saw someone mention once that this book.. to paraphrase.. makes The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice look like an opening act. While I don't know that I agree with that, it isn't because the writing in Empire isn't superb. There's no doubt this book is a masterpiece of fiction, but rather because it's a wholly different kind of monster. Frankly, I don't think it's fair to either author's story to try to draw the comparison. I will say that for me, my love of the two are neck-and-neck, and that's high praise considering my admiration of Rice's prose.
Empire definitely put me through the wringer emotionally. It's funny really, I felt like I was doing very well.. as I'd gotten over halfway through the book dry-eyed, but it wasn't long after that point when the first gut-punch came.. leaving me a little more wary. I have to give Kristoff credit. Now matter how far ahead he sometimes chooses to let you know the gist of what's coming, he doesn't fail to crush you with the details all the same in the moment you get to experience it. In the hands of any less gifted author, that knowledge takes some of the impact out of the blow.. but with him.. it only seems to hurt all the more. I'm not sure I've ever wanted to be more mistaken during a read before.
Despite being over seven-hundred pages long, this book never becomes a slog. Whether he's character building or developing backstory, providing visual references or expanding relationships, I never wanted to put the book down and by the end.. he left me wanting more. Needing more.
The battle scenes are visceral explosions of violence and pain, scripted like a well-choreographed dance.. and in the Kristoff fashion we've all come to expect.. no one is safe. Not from death nor turns of darkness.
I'm thoroughly invested in the series and cannot wait to see where it goes.. what else will be unearthed in Gabe's tales.. and what he might yet get up to. I know there seems to be a certain end at the road, but The Last Silversaint is nothing.. if not stubborn and resourceful.. and I wouldn't bet against him taking a whole lot of coldbloods with him somehow.
If you haven't yet picked up this book, surely there's someone.. somewhere who hasn't.. even if I don't know them, do yourself a favor and remedy that. You're missing out.
'Flash Fire' by TJ Klune is book two in The Extraordinaries, a series about everyday teens with not-so-everyday abilities.
Though I missed out on the debut book, I definitely intend to go back and catch up.. because this one was delightful. I laughed so much in the opening pages and didn't want to put it down, even briefly and had to keep explaining to the people around me why I was laughing at all.
Nick Bell is the central figure, a charming boy with ADHD, enough enthusiasm for multiple people, and a hot superhero boyfriend. When he isn't busy helping out via his place on 'Team PyroStorm' or even better.. making out with the Extraordinary himself, he spends his time writing fanfics about his favorite hero and trying to deal with the fact he doesn't have any special powers of his own.
As new Extraordinaries come to light, like a pair of twins who can manipulate smoke and ice, a telekinetic enigma, and a drag queen with the best name and possibly the best catchphrases ever heard, Team PyroStorm has to figure out who's a threat to Nova City and who they can count on to help.
Old secrets start to bubble up in the midst of everything else, making Nick question who he can trust and what he really knows about those he's come to idealize.
There are spots of dialogue throughout the book that are brilliantly funny and remind me of people I know. Most of the brightest dialogue is front-loaded and while I feel the topics handled later are very important, the way they are addressed often feels a little less natural in the moment.
I can't say the reveals weren't predictable to me, but they might not be for others. Likewise, instead of feeling disappointed that I already knew where things were going, I was pleased.. even excited.. to see them come to fruition.
Nick and Seth are so lovely together, I just adore them. And Gibby and Jazz are a very close second to that. I really enjoyed how genuine and warm these relationships were in a genre where stories seem to thrive largely on conflict between couples. It's a very 'us against the world' theme at times and it made my investment in the outcome much stronger. These are people who love completely and are there for one another first and foremost.
It's also nice to see some pretty healthy parent-kid relationships, where they can interact with each other respectfully and it's not all one-sided demands for obedience. Though that's obviously not every scenario, it is present here.. and something I can relate to personally.
The story itself is really fun, lots of action scenes and excitement, plus we seem to be set-up for another book while avoiding the dreaded cliffhanger. I can happily recommend this to fans of stories about superheroes, coming of age stories, and teen camaraderie at its best.
Continue below to read my interview with Kai, review of the book, and be sure to follow this link - [TOUR SCHEDULE] to check out the rest of the stops on 'THE ECHOED REALM' blog tour brought to you by STORYTELLERS ON TOUR, PARLIAMENT HOUSE PRESS, and AJ VRANA!
THE ECHOED REALM
(THE CHAOS CYCLE DUOLOGY #2)
by A.J. VRANA
Published: August 10, 2021
Publisher: The Parliament House
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Horror, Magical Realism
Age Group: New Adult / Adult
Those of you who know me, also know I love a dark visceral story with a suffering bad boy to pine over and a female character that manages to be both strong and non-annoying in the process. The Echoed Realm (The Chaos Cycle Duology #2) by AJ Vrana definitely has all that and much more.
I completely fell for Kai and Miya in book one, The Hollow Gods, and couldn't wait to get my hands on the follow-up. Let me tell you, Vrana does NOT disappoint. What I love about a series that trails specific characters.. is that you get to see them grow and evolve.. and everyone's doing that here. They've all come a long way, but the road ahead may be longer still.
The second part of their story finds them on the move. Black Hollow is far behind them geographically, if not far from their thoughts and dreams. Three years have passed and the Dreamwalker has become the hunter. Traveling from place to place in search of the types of entities that would see darkness swallow us all, she has one goal in mind.. ending them.
Kai has found companionship, but it comes with a cost. Bound to the Dreamwalker, his movements have never been more restrictive and though he would do anything to protect her, he longs for his freedom.
Mason discovers things are not at all as they seem, that his decisions and movements may merely be the result of strings being pulled outside his periphery.. leaving him to question his situation and himself.
While age old beings close in on them and their friends, Miya struggles with memories that don't completely make sense and a future she doesn't know how to control.
There's a gorgeously macabre new villain added to the mix of problems the group already has to deal with in this book. Positively appalling and sympathetic, sometimes simultaneously. Though my favorite aspect of this addition is Kai's way of dealing with them. I'm not sure there's a snarkier character out there that's actually funny. Often they're just overdone, but his reactions just rang so true at times that I laughed out loud.. then had to explain myself to those around me. He can be such a PITA in such a good way.
Likewise, Crowbar is a fantastic supplement to the cast of characters. She's pretty much everything I like in my favorite female characters. Who knew an author could hit that out of the park three times in one series? Between her, Ama, and Miya.. my expectations for strong female protagonists has been solidified. I used to think what I wanted just didn't happen in modern storytelling, but they're proof otherwise.
Certainly, the dreamworld sequences are fantastically moody. While the transitions are smooth, the weight of that shift becomes heavy.. which is so beautifully suited to the story being told there and I love, LOVE the new villain's backstory.
I can't recommend this book and this series enough. It's shadowy, Slavic folklore at its best in an adult fantasy setting, filled with both traditional and existential horrors.. and I still want more..
Be sure to keep reading for the interview with Kai and the poster giveaway below!
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Kai Donovan Pt. 2
Do you have a favorite injury to inflict?
Kai: Headbutt to the face. Nothing more satisfying than the sound of a crunching nose.
Do you prefer knifing or breaking bones?
Kai: Why not both? Knifing and bone-breaking are equally satisfying, and it’s not like
you have to choose, though I’d recommend bone-breaking before knifing. Sometimes
you get a gusher, and while it might look badass to get sprayed in someone else’s
blood, it’s pretty inconvenient.
Have you ever gotten blood in your eyes? Fucking sucks.
It’s sticky, and a bitch to get out of clothes if you wait too long.
What’s your favourite smell as a wolf and as a person?
Kai: Meat and meat. Also a fan of rubbing alcohol and gasoline.
What bar bet would you win?
Kai: All of them.
Best by far is getting trashed and throwing darts at someone standing next to the
dartboard. I like to call specific body parts, like a left thumb. I never miss.
Weirdest place you’ve had sex?
Kai: A cubbyhole in a haunted house attraction—you know, the one where the actors
What’s the number of people you’ve slept with?
Kai: Why? Are you contacting them for testimonials?
Most embarrassing moment?
Kai: I once found one of Mason’s jokes funny. I laughed after he left. If you tell him, I’ll
fucking end you.
Aside from that, got hammered on cheap wine, went to get snacks, mistook a feral cat
for a bag of Cheetos. Carried said cat around like a football for an hour before trying to
get an actual bag of Cheetos. Didn’t end up getting it because the store clerk wouldn’t
let me in with the cat, which my drunk ass didn’t want to put down. I liked that cat.
Least favorite memory?
Kai: Why the fuck would I remember that?
Kai: Gonna stick with my fever dream of being chased by a bus being driven by a
hamster. Yeah, that one fucked me up. Literally worse than demonic possession.
How do you feel about clowns?
Kai: Not really a fan. Too many sudden movements. Too much smiling. Too many teeth.
It’s like they’re asking to be punched.
Do you have any strange talents?
Kai: I can skin a rabbit one-handed. Also, I stayed conscious after getting shot with a
horse tranquilizer. Does that count as a talent?
Favorite sexual position ����
Kai: As long as it doesn’t involve body chocolate or nipple clamps, I’ve never started in
a position I couldn’t finish in. As for the body chocolate and nipple clamps, if you want
more details, you’ll have to pay the bar tab.
Finish this sentence: Revenge is a dish best served...
If you had to kick someone’s ass and you weren’t allowed to use steel-toed boots, what
would be your weapon of choice?
Kai: A raccoon. Throw a raccoon at a man’s face, and watch the little fucker get to work.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, raccoons know how to scrap, especially when
there’s bologna on the line.
What’s worse? Buses or Mason Evans?
Kai: Well, Mason is the public transit version of people, so… Wait, scratch that. Mason
is worse. At least a bus can kick my ass, and I respect that.
Miya: What if Mason’s driving the bus?
Kai: Then that bus probably couldn’t hit roadkill.
Ideal date with Miya?
Someone else’s credit card, fancy hotel, trash the place, leave a show for the black
Favourite deadly sin?
Since we’re not talking about the one I’m most afflicted by, I’d say my favourite is lust,
which I guess is just gluttony of the dick.
Hear Me Roar: A Memoir
June 18th, 2021 & July 20th, 2021
3 Decades, 12 Men, 3 Countries, and 1 Woman who refused to give up.
After 35 years of silence, Author Mindi Hood takes you on a journey into a past filled with unimaginable experiences, into a future filled with hope.
Hear Me Roar is the incredible true story of a woman who has been held captive, endured multiple sexual assaults and survived violent attacks. Despite her traumatic past, she continues on a path of self-discovery, faith, and love. Mindi has graciously allowed her story to be told in the hope that it may serve to inspire others to keep going and live out loud.
About the Author:
Mindi is a Transit Operator in Burlington, Ontario as well as a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist.
She is passionate about Architecture, the Social Sciences, and Humanitarian Causes. Hear Me Roar is her first book, and through it she aspires to spread messages of love, hope, and faith. She lives with her beautiful daughter, Mackenzie and their two adorable dogs, Ally and Maddie.