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Binding of Bindings: 10 Book Retellings of 2019

It’s a gloomy and rainy Friday morning peeking in through my windows, so why not start it off with a few creeps and critters?

Just a couple gritty tales, some sinister characters…maybe a murder or five.

A plain stepsister living in a world of outer beauty, maidens and beasts, a poet with a love and a muse, witches and magic, and a young girl with a penchant for falling down rabbit holes.

These may sound familiar, and that’s because they are! These are the tales from your childhood, twisted and molded, poked and prodded. Some may seem lighthearted, but most of them aren’t. 😉

10 Book Retellings of 2019

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1. A Curse So Dark and Lonely (Book #1) by Brigid Kemmerer
Now Available

A Curse So Dark and Lonely

A Curse So Dark and Lonely is the first book in the series of the same name, and was released in January. I have seen this book making the rounds on Goodreads and Bookstagram, so I think it’s safe to say that this retelling of Beauty and the Beast is a winner.

The story follows Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall, and Harper Lucy, a young girl struggling to keep her fractured family together. Prince Rhen has been cursed by an enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year repeatedly, only ceasing if a young girl can fall for him. Harper has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, but never lets that deter her from what she does or wants. Eventually Harper finds herself in Rhen’s lands and so begins the tale of breaking the curse that we all know and love.

I have yet to read this amazing story, but I have heard nothing but fantastic things about it. Now as I am writing this, I have the undying urge to go watch the Disney movies!

 

2. Bloodleaf (Bloodleaf #1) by Crystal Smith
Now Available

Bloodleaf

I just reviewed Bloodleaf last week, and though it wasn’t my favorite YA Fantasy story, I am also not joined by the masses in my opinion.

Bloodleaf is a retelling of The Goose Girl but with a few extra magical twists. In this story, like the goose girl, a princess is forced to travel to a neighboring kingdom in order to be wed to its prince. Along the way, the princess is tricked and her place is taken by the maid who now possess as the princess in order to marry the prince.

This rendition has more magic and extra characters, but for me, moved a bit too fast. It felt like things were rushed over too quickly, especially when this is planned to be a series. However, I did enjoy the creative route the author went with this classic tale.

(See my review here)

 

3. Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer
Now Available

Echo North

Echo North is a retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon, but a more common comparison would be Beauty and the Beast. It was released in January and has a plethora of amazing reviews.

The story is about Echo Alkaev who comes across her fathers half-frozen body in the forest after he had disappeared six months prior. But guarding her father’s body is a talking wolf, one that she remembers from her childhood as attacking her. The wolf then gives Echo an offer she can’t refuse, if she lives with him for a year then he will ensure her fathers safety.

This tale seems like a darker retelling of the story we all know, but one I can’t help but find incredibly intriguing. One Echo moves to the house of the wolf, she learns that each room must be sewn together in order for the house to stay one. The description gives hints that there are countless secrets and mysteries laying behind each door, and it sounds like it is going to be a WILD tale.

 

4. The Cold is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale
Now Available

The Cold is in Her Bones

The Medusa retelling you didn’t know you needed, and the book for all you beautiful Slytherins out there!

Milla spends her days doing chores and never leaving her home, though she has no idea why. But when the arrival of a family comes to live beside her home, she meets the first girl her own age that tells her of a curse. The curse comes to young women in the village, and one of demonic possession.

This story touches on many aspects like practicing kindness, not judging others for differences, and friendship and loyalty. It is a STRANGE story, but one that is so original and unique. I LOVED it and truly recommend it to anyone that is tired of reading the same tales over and over.

(See my review here)

 

5. Dream Keeper (The Dark Dreamer Trilogy #1) by Amber R. Duell
Now Available

Dream Keeper

Dream Keeper was another less than inspiring read for me this year, but also another unique twist on a classic fairytale.

This story is all about the Sandman and the weaver of nightmares. It follows a girl named Nora who has been meeting the Sandman in her dreams for the last five years. One day she meets a strange new boy at her work and then suddenly, her boss is found dead. As a series of strange deaths start happening around Nora, she realizes that living nightmares are what is causing these deaths…and that she may be the reason.

I had a lot of issues with this story, which was disappointing because I loved the concept. Things weren’t fully explained and the reader gets dropped right into the middle of the story, so it can be tough to read at points. BUT, I do recommend trying it for yourself JUST for the fact that it is a retelling on the Sandman, which I haven’t seen done before.

(See my review here)

 

6. Enchantée (Book #1) by Gita Trelease
Now Available

Enchantee

Enchantée is an absolute DREAM of a story about magic, Versailles, sneaky courtiers and romance.

It is set in Paris in 1789, where Camille Durbonne is forced to use la magie at Versailles to turn cards in order to provide for her and her sister. Camille has the ability to turn bits of metal into money, but it is only a temporary transformation. In dire need of funds to pay for their rent, Camille beings turning cards with her magic at the tables held in the palace of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI.

This story is to DIE for! I am still sitting in a corner pouting because I can’t enjoy these beautiful gowns, extravagant gardens and the exuberance of Versailles!

(See my review here)

 

7. Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly
Release Date: May 14, 2019

Stepsister

Stepsister is the story of the ugly stepsister of Cinderella who cuts off her toes in order to fit into the glass slipper.

Isabelle has tried her entire life to measure up the beauty and sweetness of Cinderella, chopping away pieces of herself in order to become something of desire for others. Surrounded by those who value beauty above all, she feels pushed down and set aside.

I am SO excited to read this retelling of Cinderella because it is all about empowerment, perseverance and self-love. This sounds like it is going to be an uplifting story about confidence and strength, so I can’t wait!

 

8. House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
Release Date: August 6, 2019

House of Salt and Sorrows

The anticipation is KILLING me!!!

House of Salt and Sorrows is a retelling of 12 Dancing Princesses. If unfamiliar, it is a story of twelve sisters (princesses) who are locked into their rooms at night by the king. But each morning, the dancing shoes of each princess are seen to have been worn. The secret is the girls sneak out each night through a trap door in dancing gowns and shoes, staying up all night twirling around in another castle.

But in THIS retelling, everything is a bit darker and more sinister.

Annaleigh lives in a manor by the sea with her once 12 sisters, father and stepmother. But four of the sisters have died by supposed accidents, though the villagers believe it to be a curse on the family. So when Annaleigh finds that her sisters have been sneaking out at night to go dancing, she can’t help but think that this may be a connection to the deaths of her sisters.

 

9. The Raven’s Tale by Cat Winters
Release Date: April 16, 2019

The Raven's Tale

The Raven’s Tale is a retelling/adaptation of the early life of famed poet Edgar Allen Poe. It is the story of his need to escape his home life, the love of his life, and the Muse that falls into his life. It sounds like it is going to be a beautifully haunting tale, which is perfect for any Edgar Allen Poe lover!

 

10. Ever Alice by HJ Ramsay
Release Date: August 1, 2019

Ever Alice

An Alice in Wonderland retelling, JUST what you asked for!

This Alice story takes a darker route and places our beloved main character in an insane asylum for her silly talks of Wonderland. In order to leave the asylum, Alice must undergo an experimental procedure, one that she knows very little about. But at the last moment Alice escapes and follows the white rabbit back to Wonderland where she is now stuck with the Queen of Hearts.

Supposedly there is love, scandal, attempted (maybe actual) murder and a whole host of strange happenings in this rendition…and I CAN’T WAIT!

 

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As always my dear readers, stay witchy!!

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Netgalley · New Releases · Reviews · Simon and Schuster

Book Review: Girls with Sharp Sticks (Book #1) by SuzanneYoung

Girls with Sharp Sticks
Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Simon and Schuster: Simon Pulse, for an honest review.
Genre: YA/Fiction

Plot: The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved—it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardians, the all-girl boarding school offers an array of studies and activities, from “Growing a Beautiful and Prosperous Garden” to “Art Appreciation” and “Interior Design.” The girls learn to be the best society has to offer. Absent is the difficult math coursework, or the unnecessary sciences or current events. They are obedient young ladies, free from arrogance or defiance. Until Mena starts to realize that their carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears.

As Mena and her friends begin to uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there—and who they really are—the girls of Innovations will find out what they are truly capable of. Because some of the prettiest flowers have the sharpest thorns.

Opinion:

Girls with Sharp Sticks is a YA Fiction with a message that is most certainly, non-fiction.

You’re not leaving here without a few stab wounds to your heart and soul, so get those bandages ready.

Innovations Academy breeds obedient, beautiful girls. They are taught to set a table in Modern Manners, how to speak and act formally in Social Graces Etiquette, to keep their figures in Running Course, and to never accuse a man of inappropriate behavior in Modesty and Decorum – for that would be worse than any crime! As graduation nears for the girls at Innovations Academy, they are primped and put on display for their parents and sponsors in order to find the “perfect opportunity through success”. The girls need only listen to the men and Professors at the academy, for they have their best interests at heart, and they know best.

“Too much thinking is bad for your looks”.

But when the sudden departure of one of the girls becomes know to the students of Innovations Academy, Philomena and her closest friends can’t let it go. As they search for answers to why their dear friend left, Mena starts to notice strange things from the men she so easily trusts and respects. Strange glances, lingering hands, comments and commands laced with possessive entitlement. It isn’t until the girls band together that they finally open their eyes and see, that their lives may not be exactly what they think.

“They’ve trained you not to believe what you’re told by others. You have to come to it on your own. I can’t wake you, Philomena.”

“Wake up.”

Girls with Sharp Sticks is everything your feminist heart has been looking for in a YA series.

It guides you into a building of structure and poise with a gentle tug on your arm, sits you at a table of love and respect with the smiles of every girl you see…

…all the while shredding your heart and leaving you feeling dirty, violated and used.

If you start to feel nauseous while reading, it’s because you can relate to some part of this.

The first thing that needs to be mentioned about this book, is the girls of Innovations Academy. They are pure innocence, inner beauty and kindness. They possess an amount of compassion so big your heart will seize, and you will care for them so deeply that you’ll feel as if a part of YOU has been endangered or hurt.

Because these girls are all of us.

They are light and happiness, delicate and resilient. They are unfiltered contagious smiles, and the sisters you always needed.

These girls are everything.

Therefore, it pains me to express how horrible these wonderful girls are treated. They are belittled by their teachers, taken advantage of by their guardians, thrown around like ragdolls, and told that what is best for them is to stay quiet and obedient. They are trained to be the perfect girls. Intelligent, modest, pure, compliant, and above all, beautiful and always put together. They are put on display at Open Houses where the girls can mingle with their parents, investors or sponsors in the hopes that they will be “purchased” for their exceptional looks and demeanor after graduation. For these girls, being pleasant and following the rules is of the utmost importance. Their worst fear is disappointing their parents or the staff at Innovations Academy.

This story has been created so intricately and worded so perfectly throughout, that it makes it SO hard to express the magnificence of it without giving away key details. I am incredibly impressed with how flawlessly Suzanne Young has woven this story into one with countless twists and dangers. The writing is breathtaking. It gives Mena and the girls HUGE voices and personalities that make them impossible to forget. There is an intricate balance of purity and grit throughout the story. It makes you want to latch on to every good fleeting moment, and wish that you could take a pill to forget the horrors.

An author having the ability to make me feel so sick after reading a book, is…an amazing gift to possess.

It’s almost impossible for me to focus while typing this, because I feel as if I was right next to these girls as they learned what their purpose really is. Where their friend really went. And it’s…devastating. The author has pulled out the inner child deep inside me and has both comforted and hurt her. She’s cut a hole in my stomach and sealed it back up with dirt and scotch tape. I am ravaged. I am stripped raw and laid bare.

I wish I could say more, because I feel like I need someone…ANYONE…to pour my heart out to about the tragic beauty that this book is. The story kept me hooked and addicted the entire time, pushing me to find the answers and to know what was happening at this elusive academy. The teachers were terrifying and sadistic, the investors even worse. But even though there was an overwhelming theme of possessive males forcibly overpowering what they thought was THEIRS, there is a bigger theme of strength and resilience. The message to RISE UP and fight for yourself and others is such an incredibly profound message that NEEDS to be screamed.

I can’t thank Suzanne Young enough for that.

With that said, I really cannot say anything more. I know this is vague by way of plot, but you would hate it if I told you more than this. All I can say, is YOU MUST READ THIS. It is The Handmaid’s Tale for the young adult and for every female who has felt frightened or overpowered. Your heart will thank you later for giving it this. I promise.

5-stars

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Netgalley · Reviews

Binding of Bindings #10: 18 Female Authors You’ve Probably Never Heard of

Friday may be the Binding of Bindings day, but Women Day is EVERY day!
LADIES!
Put those stomping boots and heels on, push the hair out of your face and don’t even bother to look like anything other than the complete BADASS that you are!
We’re stepping out of the shadows and landing SMACK dab in the middle of the book hierarchy!

We came to obliterate the competition with style and flawlessness.
We came to show these guys JUST how we do things!

These women take no prisoners, get the job done THEMSELVES, and DEFINITELY don’t need any Heroes to save them.
Welcome to the Sheroes!

Step aside lads, the women are taking over this post.

18 Badass Female Authors

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1. Maggy Farrell

Guilt Trip.jpg

Guilt Trip is a YA/Adult Paranormal Suspense story about a sixteen-year-old girl named Melissa. After surviving in a car accident where her mother perished, she travels with her father to the English countryside on holiday.

Strange things start to happen by way of a woman screaming for help, and unexpected visions. But let me tell you one thing about this story, you will NOT expect what happens. If you love a good blindside, read this story!

You won’t be disappointed!

(See my review here)

 

2. Angie Grigaliunas

Are you guys tired of me talking about this series yet?

Too bad.

This series just might be everything your feminist heart desires…or…despises?

It follows two sisters who live in a place where Hulcondans rule over the people as their protectors, but also use their power as a means to get what they want. For Rabreah, the Hulcondans are corrupt and need to be taken down. But for Ariliah, they are who she trusts without a doubt.

This series is AMAZING and one i have become utterly obsessed with! These two female characters transform into strong and fierce characters who you will fall in love with. There is danger, murder and a TON of mind games.

Though I think Angie Grigaliunas is trying to kill me with this series, I still love her.

(See my review for book 1 here and book 2 here)

 

3. C.L. Clark

C.L. Clark is one of the first authors I had the pleasure of working with!

She has a knack for the ghostly Thriller/Suspense stories, and knows just how to pull the reader in and keep them interested until the last page.

Opening the Veil is about a young woman named Cassie as she delves into her new talent of being able to speak to spirits. But then she discovers that a paranormal entity is using her neighbor as a puppet while it goes on a killing spree. The series continues with A Brighter Light and tracks Cassie as she learns to hone her abilities and help spirits move on.

I have not yet read Staring Into Darkness, but it is on my TBR list and I am excited to get to it! It is a collection of ghost mysteries that promise to give a little spook and a lot of thrill!

(See my review for Opening the Veil here)

 

4. T.L. Schaefer

T.L. Schaefer has MANY books, so I am just going to give you the covers of the four that I know the best.

The C.A.S.I. series, Behind Blue Eyes and Shoot to Thrill, are a few favorites of mine that I read some odd years ago. It follows crime-scene photographer Sara Convington as she tracks a serial killer and works to catch him before his next killing. The series is SO exciting and there is even a little romance involved, if you like that sort of thing.

The C.A.S.I series is a great suspense thriller with a badass female lead. There’s just NOTHING better than a woman that is intelligent and can kick some ass!

(See my review for book 1 here and book 2 here)

5. H.A. Leuschel

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H.A. Leuschel is the QUEEN of combining psychology and fiction short stories!

Her book Manipulated Lives has five stories that each showcase how people can be manipulated by others and how to deal with it. These stories touch on abuse, narcissism, overbearing parents, first love, and even friendship and acceptance.

This collection is so beautiful and breathtaking. You will read through it so fast, but try to savor every story and every moment!

(See my review here)

 

6. Kathleen Valenti

Did you guys see my review for As Directed?

It was…SPECTACULAR!

This author writes in a way that is just perfectly dramatic and snarky, it feels like poetry for the reader that loves when sentences are explained in creative ways rather than just saying someone turned around and breathed.

I was given As Directed in exchange for a review, and yes, it is book three in the series. I HAVEN’T read books one or two, but I am most definitely planning on doing so.

As I said in my review, Kathleen Valenti is my new favorite suspense/mystery/thriller writer.

(See my review for As Directed here)

 

7. Talis Jones

Alarum.jpg

Okay…I haven’t read this yet…

But don’t you judge me!

I was gifted this story by Talis Jones in exchange for an honest review, and i am hoping to make it my next read. It’s got the dystopian/wild-wild-west vibes and is set in the future after the U.S. has fallen. It follows a girl as she tries to navigate this new world…and that’s honestly all I know.

This one is REALLY shrouded in mystery, but I am really liking that aspect of it. It seems like MANY writers are leaving their book descriptions vague, but that just makes them more alluring. I can’t wait to find out what happens, and judging from a few Goodreads reviews, some unexpected things are going to take place!

8. Meg Anne

The Chosen series is a Paranormal Fantasy about a girl named Helena who is plucked from her simple life and told she is the prophesized ruler of the Chosen, those who are blessed with magic and powers.

I have read the first book in the series and have the next three on my long, long list of books. Helena is a fierce, badass female lead who you will absolutely fall for. The best part is, she turns into this fearsome demonic all-powerful queen.

Um….to die for!

(See my review for Book 1 here and Book 2 here)

9. Rebecca L. Carpenter

I JUST mentioned Butterfly Bones in my YA Reads for the Young YA post last week, but i am still going to mention it again!

Rebecca Carpenter has come up with SUCH a unique and beautiful concept for these books, and i can’t believe more people don’t know about them! The Metamorphosis series is about a ril named Bethany who was born with a rare bone disorder that keeps her body from growing. Though she is a teenager, she physically looks like a child. The story is about how her father is trying to find a cure for her by using butterfly hormones, and how Bethany goes through social situations with her condition.

Though this story sounds like a Fiction/YA/Contemporary…it is…but it isn’t.

It transforms into this beautiful fantasy story that is both heartbreaking and sweet.

Do your inner child a favor and read these.

(See my review for Book 1 here)

 

10. T.S. Pettibone

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T.S. Pettibone is the pen name for identical twin sisters Bittany and Nicole. Together they wrote the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Hatred Day series, and is set in 2052. Hatred Day marks the day when Earth was inhabited by an alien race that eventually lead to an environmental uproar. As an Inborn, Snofrid and her people are enslaved by the alien race, but worst of all, she wakes up with her memories stolen.

The first book in the series was AMAZING and I have been patiently waiting for the release of book two. I am not sure when it will be released, but i am hoping it will be soon. The Pettibone sisters possess such creative minds to come up with this world, and i thank them SO much!

  If you are as obsessed with this cover, and with a post-apocalyptic style of world where everyone is in gas masks, please read this.

(See my review here)

 

11. Cyndy Drew Etler

Ready for something heavy?

The Dead Inside is a true story about author Cyndy Etler’s experience in a “tough love” camp run by Straight, Inc. The camps were drug rehabilitation centers for troubled and out-of-control youths, and were extremely popular during between the late 70’s and early 90’s. Many of the children and young adults brought to these camps weren’t even on drugs, but were sent there because their parents didn’t have any way of dealing with them.

The experiences in these camps were both horrendous and shocking. Countless reports of physical and mental abuse have been reported during and since the closure of the camps, which can be found at http://survivingstraightinc.com/

The Dead Inside is Cyndy’s story of her time in one of these camps, and We Can’t Be Friends is the story of her struggles in society and her own mind after being released. It is almost unfathomable to know that this story is true, but I am so grateful to have been able to read it.

(See my review for Book 1 here)

 

12. Kelsey Sutton

Gardenia is another great story that barely anyone has heard of, and I HAVE NO IDEA WHY!

The reason I love Kelsey Sutton is because she is gifted with a mind that comes up with the most CREATIVE ideas for books, see below:

Main Character Ivy has the ability to see the “countdown clocks” over everyone’s head, which indicated when that person will die. Though she has tried to save lives, she has never been successful and her own impending death is just on the horizon. But then girls start disappearing, and everyone begins to pint the finger at Ivy.

Now, I have not read Smoke and Key, Some Quiet Place or Where Silence Gathers, but I LITERALLY just put them on my TBR list because I just now came across them.

Smoke and Key is about a girl that awakens in the dark to learn that she is dead, has fallen from her grave and now resides in a place called Under. With no recollection of who she is or what happened to her, she tries to find a way out.

Some Quiet Place and When Silence Gathers is an interesting spin on emotions. Elizabeth doesn’t feel emotions, she seems them in human forms. None of the emotions can touch her, except Fear, who is her constant tormentor.

I’m a lover of anything dark and grim, and I think we can agree that Kelsey Sutton is too. If you share this strange deathly love with us, I highly recommend these books.

(See my review for Gardenia here)

 

13. Elizabeth Langston

I Wish is an adorable story about a girl who is forced to provide for her family and bring money in, with very little time for herself or to be a teenager. One day she comes across a music box at a flea market, and out of the box comes a genie willing to grant her one wish each day for a month.

It is a sweet and innocent story of friendship, strength, romance and doing what is right. A great story for all ages, and one all of us can relate to. I mean come one, who wouldn’t want to come across a genie?!

(See my review for Book 1 here and Book 2 here)

 

14. C.J. Anaya

The Prophecy series!!!

A series that starts out in modern times and goes back to 1000 A.D. There are gods, tyrannical rulers, and magic galore!

Hope starts out as a teenage girl in present times in book one, and by books 2-4 she learns that her previous life was lived as a Princess of the Kagami Empire. Her father was a cruel ruler that used her healing powers for selfish purposes. The story goes through both of her lives and the demonic threats that plague both.

It’s a fantasy series with a lot of romance, and a lot of action. It’s like a new-age Mulan/Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon story.

(See my review for Book 1 here, Book 2 here, Book 3 here and book 4 here)

 

15. Mary G. Thompson

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Flicker and Mist is set in a world where some people can Flicker, become invisible in an instant, but not without great threat against their life. Myra learned of her ability as a child, and since then her parents fought to keep her ability a secret. Because is a Flickerkin is discovered in New Heart City, they can be put to death.

I am ALWAYS looking for a story that is different and creative by way of plot and concept, and Flicker and Mist is one of those stories! It is so creative and exciting to read, and a story I wish I could fall into because my dream superpower is to become invisible at will!

(See my review here)

 

16. Elsie Chapman

DID YOU READ ALONG THE INDIGO YET?!

I have been ranting and raving about it for months now!

You know the one I’m talking about. Where people go to commit suicide, where a girl skims their bodies for money and valuables, and the one where said girl lives in a boarding house for woman who serve Johns.

Dreamy, right?

(See my review here)

The Dualed books are ones I have seen around, but haven’t gotten to read yet.

In this series every person has a genetic alternate, and one they must kill by their twentieth birthday in order to live. West thinks that she is the superior Alt until tragedy strikes, then she begins to question her very existence.

 

17. Stacey Marie Brown

THIS is the Big Kahuna of the Paranormal Romance books!

This series has magic, werewolves, faeries, goblins, demons and Dark Dwellers. Which is what our main character Ember is. After being thrown out of her school for accidentally causing an explosion, Ember is sent to a facility for troubled teens. There she learns who she really is, and which world she actually belongs in.

It’s like Twilight, if Twilight was written better and wasn’t so mushy.

This series is a MATURE YA/Adult series, so fair warning!

(See my review for Book 1 here)

 

18. Claire Warner

Amber Sky is the first book in the C.O.I.L.S of Copper and Brass dystopian/steampunk series. It is about a girl that is thrust into court life after making a deal in order to save her family from starvation. It has been featured MANY times on my blog and is one I cannot wait to continue…if the next book ever comes out..

(See my review for Book 1 here)

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You know the deal ladies, stay witchy and keep on being a badass!

 

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Netgalley · New Releases · Reviews

Book Review: Bloodleaf (Bloodleaf #1) by Crystal Smith

Bloodleaf

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

Plot: Perfect for fans of RED QUEEN and UPROOTED, Crystal Smith’s debut novel, BLOODLEAF, is an imaginative retelling of the Grimm Fairy tale “The Goose Girl” that takes a ghostly mystery and sets it inside an epic fantasy world.

Princess Aurelia is a prisoner to her crown and the heir that nobody wants. Surrounded by spirits and banned from using her blood-magic, Aurelia flees her country after a devastating assassination attempt. To escape her fate, Aurelia disguises herself as a commoner in a new land and discovers a happiness her crown has never allowed. As she forges new bonds and perfects her magic, she begins to fall for a man who is forbidden to rule beside her. But the ghosts that haunt Aurelia refuse to abandon her, and she finds herself succumbing to their call as they expose a nefarious plot that only she can defeat. Will she be forced to choose between the weight of the crown and the freedom of her new life?

Opinion:

Bloodleaf.

A Retelling.

Witches, Magic, Royals, Murder.

Two Kingdoms. One Arranged Marriage.

And a really big wall.

So……..

is that it?

Bloodleaf is a retelling of “The Goose Girl” and tracks Princess Aurelia as she is forced to travel from her kingdom of Renalt to the kingdom of Achleva, after she is accused of being a witch. With an arranged marriage set between Aurelia and the sick prince of Achleva, Aurelia moves towards her set future with only duty propelling her forward. But when members of her entourage turn on her and attempt an assassination, Aurelia finds that a girl in her traveling party has taken her place and has entered Achleva disguised as the Princess, with her younger brother, the Prince, in tow. Alone and starving, Aurelia must try to make her way into Achleva to make things right and save her brother. But a run-in with a young man named Zan, and the threat of the wall of Achleva being shattered, Aurelia must decide if she should cower or use her powers to protect.

Bloodleaf isn’t terrible.

I actually found it to be a semi-enjoyable and quick read. But it’s never a good sign when reading a book, that you begin to feel like…you’re just reading a book. Especially when said book is in the fantasy genre and promises magic, witches, poison and bloodshed. When I see “fantasy” next to a book, I know to expect a story and world that I would sell every possession I own to be in. I’m a hopeless dreamer and romantic, so I obviously look for books that will reflect the things that I cannot just physically manifest with a snap of my fingers (i.e. fae, magic, witches, royals, rebellion that actually works).

With that said, Bloodleaf had a ton of great qualities…but the continuous theme of rushed scenes, lax explanations, and a romance that feels rather out of nowhere, has left me feeling rather disappointed. The story started out great, pulling me in with the promise of death and an ever-fascinating, yet depressing, witch hunt. But as the story continues, I am left feeling like there were gaping holes begging to be filled, and several opportunities missed to envelop the reader into this magical world.

Seeing as how this is supposed to be a series, I am left REALLY confused as to why things were skipped over or so hurriedly explained? The author could have taken the time to allow me to connect with the characters and learn about them, rather than just give me a watery reflection of who they are. The plot felt rushed, the villain was overly obvious, and it just left a bland taste in my mouth. This story had SO much potential, but it fell incredibly flat for me and left me annoyed because it only needed some slight tweaking to be AMAZING.

I found Aurelia to be a decent character, but her development was incomplete. She grew up in a kingdom where witches are hunted and magic is kept secret, especially her own. But when she is in Achleva and beginning to use her magic and control it, it seems like one moment she has no handle on it and then the next she just knows what she’s doing.

 

I kept feeling like she was just materializing into this character the author wanted her to blossom into, without there being any represented moments or time of her doing so. SHOW ME, DON’T TELL ME! She came across as a character who could have developed more and been given a bit more substance, because she just ended up one-dimensional and simplistic. In regards to Zan, he was slightly better off in the creative department, but still didn’t meet the potential of what he could have been. He was witty, charming, sarcastic and slightly arrogant (which I loved), but there also wasn’t enough put into molding his character. ESPECIALLY when it came to the romance between Aurelia and Zan! The relationship made me feel so confused and flustered because of how forced it was. At one point they are just regular ol’ chums, and the next they are madly in love?!?!?! Can I just get a little romance build, please?!

Overall the story started off strong, but it just wasn’t tied together as much as I would have liked. It isn’t a horrible book and I think most of you will enjoy it, but it isn’t up there with ACOTAR or The Folk of the Air books by way of how the story builds and unfolds, or the characters. I would say that this is probably one of those stories you just have to try for yourself, because I think there will be a lot of mixed opinions on it. I just know that for me, Bloodleaf twas a dud.

3-stars

 

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Book Promo · Books · New Releases · Takeover Tour · The Parliament House Press

Takeover Tour: Soul Seekers: Under the Big Top by Alice J. Black

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Publisher: The Parliament House
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Book Title: Under the Big Top
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Series: Soul Seekers: Book #7
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Author: Alice J. Black
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Back on another grand Hump Day for another Takeover Tour! This week I have once again partnered up with the Parliament Press to bring you the 7th book in the Soul Seekers series, Under the Big Top!

Soul Seekers is a Paranormal Fantasy series that follows Payton, a young woman who can speak to the dead. The series takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride hunting demons and spirits, with a little romance entwined.

It was released on Monday, March 11, 2019, so you can get your copy now!

But be sure to enter the giveaway for the chance to win a ALL 7 E-books in the series! (See below)

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Book Synopsis

Peyton is called on a new case for her business, Soul Seekers—this one with a snooty council worker who doesn’t believe in her paranormal abilities. Yet as Peyton dares to cross the barrier between the real world and the funfair that closed down all those years ago, she finds it’s a battle that she can’t handle on her own…

As she and her friends battle the furious spirit housed under the big top, it’s a race against time as the temperature rises.

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Social Media Tags:
Instagram: @alicejblack , @theparliamentpress
Facebook: The Parliament House
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The Tour wide GIVEAWAY:

Head over to Bookstagram to enter!

Find @theparliamentpress and click on the link in their bio to enter.

Prize: 1 person will win ALL 7 ebooks in the Soul Seekers series!

Rules: MUST be following @theparliamentpress@alicejblack and @jenacidebybibliophile (yours truly!)

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · JKS Communications · New Releases · Reviews

Book Review: As Directed (A Maggie O’Malley Mystery #3) by Kathleen Valenti

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, JKS Communications, on behalf of the author, Kathleen Valenti, for an honest review.

Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

Plot: In the shadow of a past fraught with danger and tainted by loss, former pharmaceutical researcher Maggie O’Malley is rebuilding her life, trading test tubes for pill bottles as she embarks on a new career at the corner drugstore. But as she spreads her wings, things begin to go terribly wrong. A customer falls ill in the store. Followed by another. And then more. The specter of poisoning arises, conjuring old grudges, past sins, buried secrets and new suspicions from which no one is immune. As Maggie and her best friend Constantine begin to investigate, they discover that some of the deadliest doses come from the most unexpected places.

Opinion:

There I lay.

In my bottomless pit of book misery, with barely a flicker of light left to guide me out…barely a glimmer of hope simmering in my half-glass empty outlook.

A place where I succumbed to the endless flimsy writings of lackadaisical descriptions and characters. A position of easily hypothesized conclusions and plot directions.

A pungent prairie of bloodcurdling eye-rolls and overly dramatic sighs of “OH, COME ON!”.

BUT THEN

out of NOWHERE.

I was WRENCHED from my abyss of sorrow and boredom, dropped into the witty palms of Kathleen Valenti, and delivered to the pages of snarky writing and perfectly dramatic depictions.

AT LAST!

I have been brought forth from the book depths of hell!

I can finally go on.

Maggie O’Malley has just her career as a pharmacy technician at Petrosian’s Pillbox, but things aren’t starting out so well. Maggie literally trips over the unconscious body of a Petrosian’s customer in one of the drugstore aisles, with an assumed heart attack being the cause of his fall. But when two more customers are found unconscious, Maggie and the officials start to suspect foul play. When it leaks that there may be a string of poisonings affecting customers, the drugstore is shut down until further notice while an investigation is conducted. But Maggie decides to take matters into her own hands by searching for clues as to who may be cause. With a young girl with leukemia and her mother being some of the victims, and a seedy reporter with dubious intentions, Maggie must work quickly to find out what’s happening. But a blast from her past will only make things more difficult, and more dangerous.

Kathleen Valenti is my new favorite suspense/thriller writer.

This lady just GETS it.

Too many times have I been forced (forced is a strong word, but I live for the dramatics) to endure the blasé characters who were meant to be relatable, but were really just annoying and overly love-obsessed like a young Aphrodite in a Twilight spin-off. Too long, have I guessed the killer before half the book was read, or fell asleep before then! *Sigh*…too many times have I dreaded the reading of a mystery story for the fear that it would turn out more sex-driven, and less who-done-it.

As Directed, is none of those things. This book was FANTASTIC, kept me reading into the late hours of the night, and is the reason for my disheveled appearance today. It was so good that my copy of the book is filled with colorful tabs of witty conversations and descriptions that I just COULDN’T get enough of. As I started reading the prologue, I knew this story was going to be a gem. In fact, I knew it in the first four sentences.

“Claudia Warren took too long to die.

She should have been dead when her lungs stopped inflating, when her brain stopped communicating with the rest of her body. But her heart kept beating, even as her cells began to necrotize and the blood pooled in her muscles.

Claudia couldn’t even die right.”

I found myself smirking the entire time I read because of the cheekiness in this authors writing. She has a purely refreshing gift for the dramatics, and she writes with an eloquence that exudes a facetious banter that literally makes you snort with pleasure. She has such a comical and fresh way with words, and she turns every mediocre action of a character into a sentence of poetic bliss!

“Brock crossed the street and looked over his shoulder. Maggie sank against the doorway of an apartment building, melting into shadow guarded by two cement lions. She held her breath as Brock studied the dark, reading the gloom like tea leaves, then released a slow stream of carbon dioxide as he resumed his trek.”

The character of Maggie is incredibly relatable and a woman I wouldn’t mind stalking…in books, obviously. She has gusto, a formidable sense of right and wrong, and literally has NO FEARS when it comes to danger. This girl reminds me a nosy and sarcastic blonde we all know and love, Miss Veronica Mars.

BUT what Maggie lacks in constant witty one-liners, her fiancé Constantine MORE than makes up for it. His repertoire of clichés and metaphors like “birds of a felonious feather” or “strangers on the train in D Minor” are TO DIE FOR, but his constant state of happy-go-lucky is really what makes me adore his character.

“They didn’t need to make a plan. The didn’t need to discuss. Like twins separated at birth, Maggie and Constantine were tied by an invisible umbilicus that united mind and spirit, sensing what the other knew, experiencing what the other felt. It was a connection that had guided them through a baptism of fire. It also came in handy while playing Pictionary.

But maybe the BEST aspect of these two characters is the fact that their love isn’t being shoved down our throats and out our eye sockets. The author portrays moments of love and care between the two, gives evidence of their strong connection, but doesn’t drown the reader in too much lovey-dovey. This story focuses on the PLOT, not the LOVE…and I couldn’t be more thankful. I could tell their romance is a “friends first” type of love, and it really comes across strongly while reading.

But the real gem of this story, is the plot.

The author took me through a lengthy maze of suspects and clues, possible outcomes and plausible reasons for who the culprit could be. But as soon as I felt like I was on the scent, Kathleen snuck in a trail of Reese’s Pieces at the edge of the scene to distract me and lead me in a new direction! Very sneaky. What I appreciated most about this story though, was the countless layers that were created to mold this tale into a formidable thriller tale. It wasn’t just a one-dimensional story of a killer with a grudge. There were side-stories that added dramatic effect, and minor characters that had minor roles, but who played a major part in diverting attention and/or crafting a brilliant synopsis. I really couldn’t ask for more out of a suspense/mystery/thriller.

Did I mention that I haven’t even read the first two books in this series?

That’s right, I haven’t.

But the story flowed so well, and cleared up moments from Maggie’s past that I got by just fine without them. Though of course, now I’ve been hooked and MUST go back and read them! Sly Kathleen, very sly.

5-stars

 

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Blogging Awards · Book Tag · Books · New Releases

The Sunshine Blogger Award #2

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Merry Meet my loves!
Big hugs and thanks to Amber from Step Into a Book World for nominating me in The Sunshine Blogger Award, SO long ago! I am finally catching up on my awards and tags, and I think this nomination was from 2017!
This is my second nomination, WOOT WOOT, and I am SO excited for a new set of questions! So let’s get this going!
What is the Sunshine Blogger Award?
The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are creative, positive, and inspiring, while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.
How does it work?
-Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
-Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
-Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
-List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

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Amber’s Questions
1. What is your favorite book relationship?

UGH!

Rhysand and Feyre, Cardan and Jude, Rowen and Aelin and Rowan.

Look. I like a magical relationship where there are threats on both characters lives constantly, and where some cataclysmic s**t goes down.

I like turmoil okay? I can’t help it.

2. Who is your favorite minor character in a book series? 

Seamus Finnigan!!

3. Would you rather read only book series or a stand-alone?

If I had to choose between the two, I would say a series. I read a lot of Fantasy books,and I think they are done the best when the author has more than enough pages and books to unravel characters and stories. There’s nothing worse than a rushed story.

4. What book did you love while reading but discovered later it wasn’t quality writing?

5. What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read but you probably won’t?

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. I read Six of Crows and finished it, but I wasn’t overly obsessed with it or DYING to read book two. I didn’t feel a strong connection to any of the characters, so I probably won’t ever get around to continuing.

6. What is your favorite TV series?

The Handmaid’s Tale and The OA are…AMAZING.

But you know who will always be on top?

7. What is a popular or beloved character that you do not like?

Chaol from Throne of Glass!! He annoy me to now end, and I cannot stand the poor guy. It was INCREDIBLY hard for me to get through Tower of Dawn because of it.

8. What the name of a popular series that you have no interest in reading?

Game of Thrones and The Shadow and Bone Trilogy. I guess it’s more like “books I could read, but probably won’t ever read”. I tried watching the Game of Thrones show, and just could NOT get passed the first episode. I read Six of Crows, and really wasn’t crazy impressed with it. So I think that may be hindering my want to read any other of Leigh Bardugo’s books.

9. What movie adaptation did you like better than the book?

I have been sitting here for a good 10 minutes racking my brain, and I can’t think of one! I usually like the books more, partly because I am so weird about characters feeling authentic and the acting NEEDS to be flawless. If I can forget that I’m watching a movie, then it’s brilliant.

I think the Harry Potter movies could come close to being better than the books, but still…not really.

10. If you could have any book(s) coming in 2018 right now, what would it be?

So this question originally said 2018, but it’s 2019 now so I will go with this year releases!

I am REALLY looking forward to these upcoming releases!

Last Girl Lied To is a mystery/thriller about the disappearance of a girl and her friends hunt to find out what happened.

Girls on the Verge is labeled YA/Contemporary/Feminism story about a young woman and two friends traveling to across states, with the end goal being an abortion. Sounds a little strange I know, but also very appealing.

The Lost History of Dreams is a Historical Fiction/Mystery with Gothic tones and probably really sinister outcomes. It is the story of the confessions of a muse about the relationship between a poet and his wife.

The Raven’s Tale is a Fantasy Retelling of our dearly beloved Edgar Allan Poe. Enough said right?

11. What is a book(s) villain that you couldn’t help but love?

Malfoy and Voldemort, obviously.

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My Questions:
1. Where do you buy your books? Discount shops, Bookoutlet, your local bookstore?
2. Which book(s) lit you heart on fire and turned it to a pile of ash?
3. What is your favorite book genre to read?
4. Which books started out as required reading for school, but turned out to be a favorite?
5. Which character(s) do you wish would exit stage left and never return to the story?
6. What is your favorite read of 2019 so far?
7. If you could live with any character, who would it be?
8. Speaking of living spaces, what book world would you live in?
9. If you were placed in a school that trained you to be a Hero or Villain, would you be trained for Good or for Evil?
10. I wish it was still Fall, so what is your favorite spooky fall read?
11. Since this is the SUNSHINE award, what is your favorite summer read?

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My Tags:

~ Monika at Monika’s Books ~

~ Alejandra at Appraised Fiction ~

~ Way To Fantasy ~

~ Amanda at Once Upon A Book Dream ~

~ Raven at Dreamy Addictions ~

~ BookZone ~

~ Blair at Feed The Crime ~

~ Heidi at BookLoverBlogs ~

~ Maryam at The Road Less Read ~

~ Amy at Bookish Heights ~

~ Hannah at The Bookworm’s Feast ~

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