Bites


Pub Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire. (goodreads.com)

Ugh. If there ever was a sequel just as good as the first in a series, it’s A CROWN OF WISHES. Written in the same golden prose as A STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN with a story that stabs you in the gut and a heroine that would sooner set you on fire than save you, I couldn’t get enough of it. I just want to eat it all up.

But then I might turn into a werewolf creature. And that would be bad. Maybe.

Gauri is Maya’s sister, for whom A STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN was about. And she does make a brief appearance in A CROWN OF WISHES, but don’t expect a lot. This is Gauri’s story. And she’s so incredibly fierce and determined and vengeful and sometimes pig-headed. I actually think Chokshi balanced her character well, creating a wholly likable person in Gauri while being incredibly flawed and not obnoxious. Personalities like Gauri’s, if overdone, can come off forceful and off-putting. But she was snarky, witty, and all around awesome.

And, like the first one, there was some prince being in need of rescuing. I love that Chokshi keeps flipping the story like that. Gives me the warm and fuzzies.

And let’s not forget the world. My god, the world! Just as strong and vivid as in the original, it’s its own character in the book, coming to life on the pages as Chokshi weaves a dark and dangerous and appealing web of her world. I couldn’t get enough of it, the world whore that I am.

If there were to be a third book, and I’m thinking there might be, I think I know just whose story it might be, and my god. I can’t wait. MOAR! When’s the next one coming out? What do you mean A CROWN OF WISHES isn’t out yet? How’s that relevant? MOAR!

5

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Click the link to read an excerpt from A CROWN OF WISHES! –> A Crown of Wishes_Blog Tour Excerpt

Published: March 1, 2016
Publisher: Pyr
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

For more than sixteen hundred years, Nick Medea has followed and guarded the Gate that keeps the mortal realm and that of Feirie separate, seeking in vain absolution for the fatal errors he made when he slew the dragon. All that while, he has tried and failed to keep the woman he loves from dying over and over.

Yet in the fifty years since the Night the Dragon Breathed over the city of Chicago, the Gate has not only remained fixed, but open to the trespasses of the Wyld, the darkest of the Feiriefolk. Not only does that mean an evil resurrected from Nick’s own past, but the reincarnation of his lost Cleolinda, a reincarnation destined once more to die.

Nick must turn inward to that which he distrusts the most: the Dragon, the beast he slew when he was still only Saint George. He must turn to the monster residing in him, now a part of him…but ever seeking escape.

The gang war brewing between Prohibition bootleggers may be the least of his concerns. If Nick cannot prevent an old evil from opening the way between realms…then not only might Chicago face a fate worse than the Great Fire, but so will the rest of the mortal realm. (goodreads.com)

BLACK CITY SAINT sounded like a really interesting read, combining faerie things and the Roaring 20s together in an epic battle of good versus evil. Except it landed rather flat, with me being disinterested most of the time.

I couldn’t really connect with Nick as a character. I think it had a lot to do with how he spoke. It was just really stilted and almost disinterested, plus a lot of things ended up getting explained in the past tense and he ended up blacking out a lot so chunks of action were skipped. A lot of the actions scenes were also over-explained to the point of being too involved. I found myself glazing over for a good portion of the story as any concept of action was removed as Nick thwarted another foe with his faerie sword. He had quite a few items on him that made him hard to beat (that sword that could kill pretty much anything, the dragon living in him that could annihilate anything, his faerie senses, made him rather dull, I think).

Claryce just became downright annoying, but I really don’t think it had anything to do with her as a character. She appeared to do a lot of things off the page and held her own a lot that as a reader you don’t get to see because she’s away from Nick and the story’s in his POV. As a result Claryce ends up being this rather whiny, clingy woman who always wants to be around Nick and is always worried about him. The two parts of the single character stood in stark contrast against each other throughout the story. I think she was supposed to be a strong woman, but because we never got to see it, and I was only told that he’s done some incredible things, it all fell flat.

As for the overall plot I was less than impressed. It dragged out for an overlong time with Nick and his nemesis having unnecessarily long conversations with each other that reminded me of bad movie villains. Just get on with it already. I didn’t find anything about what happened exciting and I had a hard time keeping my attention on what I was reading.

Overall, BLACK CITY SAINT was a miss. Great premise but blah execution. From the voice to the descriptions to the Stu factor going on with Nick, it just wasn’t my thing. It didn’t stick for me.

2

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Pub Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world. (goodreads.com)

So I’ll start right off by saying I absolutely adored WINTERSONG. Like ridiculously. With that being said, though, I do think that my opinion of the book is clouded by my undying love for Labyrinth, by which WINTERSONG is inspired, and I think that allowed me to slide past issues that I normally would be more critical of in any other book. So take this review with that information in mind.

With that being said, oh god, this book is love. Jae-Jones nailed the Goblin King in both an homage and her own original character so succinctly that I couldn’t help but swoon. The pain that Elizabeth goes through over the course of the book is heart-wrenching and joyous all wrapped up into one. Yes, there were tears at the end. I’m a sap. Don’t tell anyone. The rescue of Kathe from the Underground was perfection. Jae-Jones made my fangirl heart sing with some of the lines she used (“I’ve given you everything you’ve ever wanted. I’m tired of living up to your expectations.”) and some of her descriptions (“The Goblin King was lounging against one of the alder trees in the grove, one arm draped against the trunk, the other resting casually against his hip. His hair was in wild disarray, ruffled and feathery, like thistledown, like spiderwebs, illuminated by the full moon into a halo about his head. His face held all the beauty of angels, but the grin upon his face was positively devilish.”) Nailed it. Truly.

WINTERSONG is a fairy tale for a new generation, wrapping up old world charm and warning with modern day desires and wills, making Elizabeth something everyone, male or female, can relate to with the decisions she’s forced to make and how she actually feels about them. Jae-Jones creates her own world in the village where Elizabeth lives and draws on elements from old faery tales and Labyrinth to create an Underground entirely her own. She created a life, a past, for the Goblin King that a lot in the fandom wanted, that played into the fan service of giving us a Goblin King who isn’t entirely heartless and isn’t entirely inhuman (but still plays that inhuman card incredibly well). WINTERSONG is beauty, plain and simple.

With that being said, I did take issues with a couple of things, namely pacing and descriptions. The pace of the story was exhausting simply because it crescendoed multiple times. Where you think the story ends it can’t possibly end and then it launches into what is rightly a second story of its own to complete the premise. It made the book feel longer than what it should have been, however, once I got settled into the second story of the book the pacing picked up and before I knew it I found myself closing in on the end.

As for the descriptions, toward the end, probably from the halfway point on is when I really started noticing it, they were redundant and repetitive. It felt like they were there for the sake of tone than to actually describe something. Austere young man is one that really comes to mind because Elizabeth used it A LOT. This then played into voice a little bit. For the most part I didn’t have any issue with the voice, however, I do felt it reaching every once in a while. Just trying a little bit too hard to be that blend of faery tale and Jane Austen type of voice that speaks to a particular type of story. But it wasn’t distracting enough for me to not like what I was reading.

Like I said, WINTERSONG is beautiful and it ended in the absolute perfect place. My heart. I do think I’m giving a pass to some issues because of my ultimate love for Labyrinth and the feels this book incites in me, but I’m okay with that. At least I’m being up front about it. I’d still recommend it, I’d still buy it for people, because it’s a book that should be read. It deserves to be read. So read it.

4

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Be sure to hop on over to the rest of the blogs participating in the tour! But first below is an excerpt from WINTERSONG along with a handy little cheat sheet for all the German terms in the book. Enjoy!

 

Click here for the free except! Wintersong_Excerpt

Published: August 25, 2014
Publisher: Pocket Star
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Reunited with Clovis, now king of his barbarian tribe, Nimia and he “celebrate” sexually. Frequently. But sometimes he takes it too far, subjecting her to erotic activities that make her wonder if she’d be better off with her former master, Sygarius. She’s in love with Clovis, though, and he says he loves her, too… But there’s a coldness in his eyes that makes her wonder if he really does—or if he’s just using her prophetic gift for his own gain.

King Sygarius, meanwhile, wants Nimia back. When he captures her and sexually enslaves her again, she discovers a crystal chalice inscribed with a design that echoes those tattooed on her body. And when Clovis rescues her from Sygarius, she steals the chalice to take with her.

A Christian priest suspects it’s the Holy Grail, but Nimia has a strong feeling it’s a remnant of her lost tribe, the Phanne. But even the chalice cannot tell her if the child she carries belongs to Clovis… or to his greatest enemy: Sygarius. (goodreads.com)

The first book in the 1,001 Erotic Nights series, SLAVE GIRL, was ridiculously hot so I was excited to pick up BARBARIAN’S CONCUBINE and see what else Cach could cook up.

Cach definitely didn’t disappoint in the sexy department, although the first scene with the pirate really bordered on rape and it made me a little uncomfortable. As the reader you’re in Nimia’s head the whole time and she’s thinking about the situation and wanting the guy on top of her, but at the same time she’s trying to get him to stop. Buzz kill on that one.

Aside from that, I love how sexual Nimia is and Cach writes some incredible sex scenes. Chapter 8. I’ll just leave that one there. Wow.

A little bit of a killer for me, though, aside from that first sex scene, is the introduction of a pregnancy. Meh. Kind of shrivels my hard on. Granted there are a bunch more books in this series and it’s playing into a much larger plot that in and of itself is really interesting but eh. Babies. Not my thing. I’ll see where this goes.

So hot factor, still really high. Like incredibly high, all things considered. Plot is still really engaging and interesting and the suspense keeps amping up. I love all the characters and how Nimia is developing and where the story is going. All around I’m still digging it. I have the rest of the books on my iPad. I must dig in!

3.5

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written-in-the-ashes-2016Published: September 27, 2016
Publisher: HarperLegend
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

After she is abducted from her home in the mountains of Sinai, Hannah is enslaved and taken to Alexandria, where she becomes the property of Alizar, an alchemist and pagan secretly working to preserve his culture. Revered for her beautiful singing voice, the young slave is invited to perform at the city’s Great Library, where she becomes friends with the revered mathematician and philosopher, Hypatia, as well as other pagans who curate its magnificent collections. Determined to help them uphold pagan culture and traditions, Hannah embarks on a dangerous quest to unite the fractured pieces of the Emerald Tablet—the last hope to save the pagans and create peace.

On this odyssey that leads her to the lost oracles of Delfi and Amun-Ra and to rediscovered ancient cities and rituals, Hannah will experience forbidden loves, painful betrayals, and poignant reunions. But her efforts may be in vain. Returning to Alexandria, Hannah finds a city engulfed in violence, even as her own romantic entanglements come to a head. Now, it’s not only her future, but the fate of all Alexandria that is at stake. (goodreads.com)

I was on the fence about accepting WRITTEN IN THE ASHES until I read Michelle Moran’s blurb for it. Sold! I’ve loved everything I’ve read of Moran’s so if she’s saying this is a good one, I need no further enticement. I guess blurbs do work! Usually I don’t care who says what about what, but in this case one of my favorite authors helped me decide.

Overall it’s a beautiful story. The ancient world VanZandt pulled directly from the past is its own character; exactly how I like it. It’s alive in all her rich descriptions. I felt like I was there just watching everything happen around me. When the library started to burn, I’ll admit it. I got teary-eyed. I couldn’t help myself. We have such a disconnect from the ancient worlds today because of this event and it just killed me. Forever resentful of Christianity for what they did.

Hannah was a compelling character and I really enjoyed tagging along in her story, even through the more brutal moments she was exposed to. WRITTEN IN THE ASHES is definitely a more character-driven story than anything else. The plot is very slow-moving but most of the time I couldn’t tell. I was so engrossed in the description that it didn’t matter to me. I just wanted to stay in this world of ancient Egypt.

As much as I loved the descriptions  they were a little long-winded at times. Every once in a while I’d come across some overlong sentences that comprised an entire paragraph themselves. It did push me out of the story a little bit but not much. Just enough to think ‘that was a really long sentence’ and then move on.

I also didn’t understand the italicized angel moments throughout the story. By the end of it I thought that was kind of a straggling piece of the plot. Correct me if I’m wrong, anyone who has read this, but it didn’t lead to anything. I kept waiting for that shoe to drop and it never did. Unless it’s a really deep metaphorical moment I’m missing, I got nothing there.

Overall, if you like Michelle Moran you’ll like VanZandt’s WRITTEN IN THE ASHES. An astute attention to detail coupled with an enduring love for the past that shines through in the writing, you’ll be absorbed into the world alone from the second you open the book. I think where they diverge is where Moran is more concise in her storytelling, VanZandt seems to meander a bit. While I didn’t mind, again, because I loved her painting of the world, WRITTEN IN THE ASHES is an unnecessarily long book for all that doesn’t happen with the plot. Not uncommon with character-centric books, but something readers should be aware of. Settle in for this one. You’re in it for the long haul. I’m okay with it.

4

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.