Book Promo · Book Reviews

Book Review: Aetherstorm (Songs of Sarin, Book 1) by Alexander Ferrick

Aetherstorm

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, Alexander Ferrick, for an honest review. 

Genre: High Fantasy

Plot: What is the Aetherstorm?

They said it was a tournament to discover the mightiest warrior in the land, but it is far more…

To the Demons, it is a chance to reclaim their former glory…

To a Prince, it is a chance to prove himself worthy of the crown…

To a Rebel, it is a chance at freedom…

To an Orphan, it is a chance at justice… or vengeance…

…What is the Aetherstorm?

The Aetherstorm is a trap.

When demons disguised as elves begin inviting the citizens of Sarin to a fighting tournament, Prince Maronir takes it upon himself to go there in secret and discover what the demons are up to.

Along the way, a botched assassination attempt forces Maronir to join Luca and Garron, two human orphans who are also going to the tournament to find the man who killed their adoptive father and mentor.

As the prince and his new friends journey across Sarin, he finds himself confronted by the harsh reality of his kingdom, and learns that the greatest tests of kingship happen far from the battlefield.

Will those lessons matter after the demons true plans are revealed? Time will tell…

Opinion:

“Come and prove yourself…”

“…join the Aetherstorm.”

A world where humans are practically extinct and subject of tales told to elven children in order to keep them in line?

Demons, Dwarves, Cyclopes, Magic?

An epic battle arena that’s like The Gladiator on mage crack?

Aetherstorm is my second read by Alex Ferrick, and color me completely unsurprised – this kicked ass. It’s the first in the Songs of Sarin series set in a fantastical world where magic is called Aether, demons have been unleashed upon the planes, and elves and dwarves are the dominant species. This is PACKED with detail and world-building so exquisite, I can hardly fathom how on earth so much epicness could possibly be shoved into just 123 pages.

It must be

This book, like any true fantasy should, has a cast of wonderfully diverse and badass characters who carry the reader to the end on a tidal wave of slick remarks and deadly battling. There is an Elven Prince whose bloodline is tied deeply into Aether magic in order to control the demons that have spilled into their world, two humans – one a mage, and another just simply a badass, a dwarf blacksmith, and a *gasp* could it be?! A HYBRID elf/dawrf female who puts them all to shame?!

“In time you will learn, my friend, that the worst monsters are beautiful.”

I usually get a bit daunted by High Fantasy stories. With the confusing names, types of magical systems, countless species and conflict…it can be hard to keep up. But with Aetherstorm, you will NOT have that problem. This author is an expert at flawlessly expressing a really in-depth and creative world in a form that anyone can follow. It is straight-forward and addicting, but has layers of truly creative content screaming from its pages.

But what never ceases to amaze me about Alex, is how his mind seeps into endless nooks and crannies of creativity and pulls out truly unique, original ideas for stories. In less than 150 pages the reader is blessed with SO MUCH. Like each generation of royalty being eternally imprisoned on thrones for harnessing the Aetheroot magic to contain the demonic presence. Or a world where Evles and Dwarves are superior, and humans are practically extinct and woven into scary stories told to misbehaving magical children.

There are battles. There is bloodshed. There are acts of revenge, trickery, ruthless killings and vile creatures. But there are also moments of justice and compassion. It’s a thrilling adventure story that has no time for pausing and will make it impossible for you to put it down. This was a fantastic fantasy tale that had me hooked and wishing for more. I cannot wait for the next installment in this series!

5 Stars

 

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Book Reviews · Netgalley · Upcoming Releases

Book Review: What Kind of Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

What Kind of Girl

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Sourcebooks Fire, via Netgalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mental Health/Abuse

Plot: Girl In Pieces meets Moxie in this unflinching exploration of the many forms of abuse society inflicts upon women, and the strength it takes to rise above it all to claim your worth.

The girls at North Bay Academy are taking sides. It all started when Mike Parker’s girlfriend showed up with a bruise on her face. Or, more specifically, when she walked into the principal’s office and said Mike hit her. But the students have questions. Why did she go to the principal and not the police? Why did she stay so long if he was hurting her? Obviously, if it’s true, Mike should be expelled. But is it true?

Some girls want to rally for his expulsion—and some want to rally around Mike. The only thing that the entire student body can agree on? Someone is lying. And the truth has to come out.

Opinion:

*sigh*

This one is heavy.

No self-respecting girl would stay with a guy who hit her.”

What Kind of Girl is more than just a domestic violence story.

It’s about two best friends who are both going through extremely trying times in their lives, but don’t reach out to each other for support. It’s about the expectations put on a person by their parents and peers, the assumptions that are made from onlookers, how trauma can drive a person towards self-harm, and the importance of mental health.

I need you to come with me. I need you to say you’re too worried about me to let me go. I need you to stay that you’ll love me whether I change the world or not.”

This book is told by Maya and Junie, two teenagers who are best friends but find themselves suffering alone. Maya is struggling with the repercussions of telling her principle that her boyfriend Mike had been hitting her, as the entire school divides itself and chooses sides. For Maya, the situation is just as confusing to her as it is to others. On the outside, her relationship with Mike seemed perfect, and most days, even she thought so. Mike is the responsible and stellar student, the track star. He is popular and nice to everyone around him, which makes it so hard for students to believe that he was abusing his girlfriend. Throughout the story Maya professes her love for Mike, how sweetly he treated her and how he didn’t want him to get in trouble for fear of him being expelled and losing his scholarship.

It’s hard to believe he would ever do what he’s accused of doing. And if he did, maybe he didn’t mean it. Maybe it was an accident. Or maybe it was justified, somehow.”

Maya always saw herself as a girl who would stick up for herself and immediately tell someone if she was being abused, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen like that. A lot of times victims stay in their relationships because they think that it could have been an accident, that their partner didn’t mean to hurt them, that they just got angry and lost control for a second. But other times it goes deeper. Manipulation plays a huge role. The abuser will not always be the screaming and violent character that is usually portrayed. Some abusers take the opposite approach. Soothing voices, promises of love and respect, ignoring the fact that they have hurt their partner, and learning how to control with their words.

Now, when I think about it, the bracelet reminds me of a handcuff.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only thing in Maya’s life that is causing her harm. She is bulimic and uses purging as a way to stay in control. Though she is a beautiful girl inside and out, she see’s herself as needing to be thinner or better. Her thoughts on when to eat, when she can throw up, how much food she has consumed takes over her thoughts and places her in an even more isolating place than she already was. To see how her bulimia and abuse were intertwined broke my heart, and all I wanted to do was give her a hug and tell her she wasn’t alone.

His fingers wrap around my upper arm. Sometimes he held me there instead of holding hands, and I’d see extra flesh in between his fingers. I don’t remember if I noticed that before or after I started throwing up.”

The other half of this story is told by Junie, Maya’s best friend. Junie is yet another beautiful girl who struggles with her own demons. She suffers from OCD and panic attacks, intrusive thoughts that leave her dissecting conversations and putting herself down, and cuts herself in order to finally quiet her mind and be still. Junie fights to be the strong and self-assured woman that her parents believe and want her to be. Their high expectations of her to be an activist, to stand up for what is right and make a change, weighs on her greatly. Whether it is her parents, her girlfriend or her peers, Junie feels she must be a leader and shouldn’t have issues like OCD. She sees these things as immense weaknesses and the reason for why she thinks nobody wants her.

So I went deeper again, like I thought maybe I could cut out the bad parts, the lonely parts, the needy parts. The parts that were sad about being alone. The parts that explained why I was alone in the first place.”

This is my second story by Alyssa B. Sheinmel, and it was just as amazing as the first book I read by her – A Danger to Herself and Others. This author knows how to talk about real mental health issues, and display them in a way that is equally beautiful and heart-achingly sorrowful. It’s as if she reaches inside a person’s mind, body and soul, extracts their fears and quirks, and displays them like she’s lived and breathed every aspect of who they are. Her writing and expertise on mental health is superb and she gives a voice to so many people who are struggling or feel lost.

As I suspected it would be, this story was beautiful. It is a gentle portrayal of some very serious topics that so many of us have been affected by, whether it be personally or through a friend or loved one. This author makes these characters so realistic-they have flaws that compliment their stunning attributes and voices that want to speak but just don’t know how. Yes, this book is about mental health and abuse, but it’s also about finding self-love and the importance of friendship. About reaching out when something is wrong, and not worrying about how other’s will look at you or judge you.

We may suffer alone, but we survive together”

-Aly Raisman

4-5-stars

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Book Reviews · Netgalley · New Releases

Book Review: The Gray Chamber by Grace Hitchcock

The Gray Chamber

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Barbour Publishing, Inc., via Netgalley for an honest review.

Genre: Historical Fiction/American Crime/Romance

Plot: Will Edyth prove her sanity before it is too late?

On Blackwell Island, New York, a hospital was built to keep its patients from ever leaving.

With her late father’s fortune under her uncle’s care until her twenty-fifth birthday in the year 1887, Edyth Foster does not feel pressured to marry or to bow to society’s demands. She freely indulges in eccentric hobbies like fencing and riding her velocipede in her cycling costume about the city for all to see. Finding a loophole in the will, though, her uncle whisks Edyth off to the women’s lunatic asylum just weeks before her birthday. Do any of Edyth’s friends care that she disappeared?

At the asylum she meets another inmate, who upon discovering Edyth’s plight, confesses that she is Nellie Bly, an undercover journalist for The World. Will either woman find a way to leave the terrifying island and reclaim her true self?

Opinion:

Etiquette, propriety, courting, and men who don’t think much of women.

It’s like a Jane Austen novel, but with an asylum!

The Gray Chamber is set in the later part of the 1800’s in high society, following a young woman named Edyth Foster as she nears her twenty-fifth birthday. Though Edyth has grown up privileged and accustomed to playing the role of a lady, she is a quirky woman who lives her life by her own set of rules. She wears relaxed dress-wear without the bother of a corset, and prefers beating men at fencing to sitting on a cushion looking primped and puffed for eligible suitors. And with the fortune her parents left her becoming available to her on her birthday, she is able to forgo the stress and pressures of securing a husband.

That is until her uncle throws her in an insane asylum.

I LOVE a historical fiction tale just like the next Jane Austen lover. There’s just nothing more romantic than a woman being courted using proper English and gentlemanly manners. Mix in beautiful gowns, arrogant men, tittering females and a mental institution…and you’ve just opened up the gates of heaven to me. I found this story to be thoroughly addicting and positively riveting. The language was perfectly on point, the time-period was well-portrayed and it showcased how easy it was during that time for men to dispose of “problem women”. Anyone who didn’t fall in line with society or do as a man said was at risk of being thrust aside.

Corset forbid any of these ladies have some individuality!

When we meet Edyth she is enjoying her life in leisure and comfort. She goes to the fencing club where her crush Bane is the instructor, sketches and paints in her free-time, is carefree with a sunny disposition, and even houses her Uncle and his new bride. Though the relationship with her uncle SEEMS fine to begin with, we obviously know it’s not. Unbeknownst to Edyth, her uncle brings doctors from Blackwell Island, the infamous Women’s Insane Asylum nearby, to have her evaluated for her eccentricities and “odd behavior” in order to have her committed so he can steal her fortune. But once she is shipped off, things got a little sour for me.

After Edyth arrives at Blackwell Island, she began to turn me off a bit. Gone was this strong and independent woman with a humble head on her shoulders, and in her place was a character who whined like a teenager and stomped her foot. Granted, the poor dear HAS just been committed and fears she will spend the rest of her days there…but come on. She acted like a spoiled child who had spent her entire life with a silver spoon in her mouth, and didn’t understand why she wasn’t getting her hair done. Seriously. She asked if a chambermaid would be coming in to do her hair. In an insane asylum.

*sigh*

But her time locked up wasn’t all sunshine and daisies. The orderlies were brutal to all of the patients, and there seemed to only be one nurse that actually had a soul. The women were all washed in the same disgusting bath water, were given food that was barely considered food, dressed in thin pieces of fabric that did nothing to keep them warm, and were sleeping in horrid conditions. It sounded dreadful, and Edyth attempting to escape the institution gave me SUCH anxiety as she was running through the halls trying to flee! 

I liked where the author took the story and how she threw in a few twists and blindsides. I found Bane to be a dreamy and perfect romantic interest for Edyth, but I do wish the poor guy would have realized she was a gem BEFORE deciding so after seeing her in a fancy gown and with makeup on. *facepalm* But even so, their relationship was very sweet and gave me little flutters. Bane’s determination to find Edyth was so pure, and it really showed how strong of a friendship they had that he knew something was up as soon as she missed their date. How things tied up with them was perfect, innocent and very romantic.

All in all, I really liked this American Crime/Historical fiction tale. It kept my attention, the setting and dialogue felt authentic to the era, and it showcased the atrocities that some women were subjected to. I do think the last 15% of the story was a bit unnecessary and was dragged out a little more than was needed, but it didn’t bother me enough to make me stop reading until the very last word. This was my first read from this True Colors series, so I definitely want to read the other stories and see how the other authors constructed their tales.

3-stars

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Upcoming Releases

Binding of Bindings #38: My Top 7 Anticipated February 2020 Book Releases

Why have a Top Ten when you can have a Top Seven?

 

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~* My 7 Anticipated February 2020 Book Releases *~

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1. What Kind of Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Release Date: February 4, 2020
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mental Health

What Kind of Girl

If Alyssa B. Sheinmel writes something, I read it.

After she totally set my heart on fire with A Danger to Herself and Others, and made me weep to extinguish the flames, I have become a loyal reader of her mental health stories.

What Kind of Girl is about a girl who goes to her principal with a bruise on her face, expressing how her boyfriend hit her. But her fellow students don’t know what to believe. They find it odd that she went to the principal instead of the police, and that she stayed with her boyfriend even though he was hitting her.

This story is about the divide between a student body as they seek answers.

And in true Alyssa Sheinmel fashion, I just KNOW this is going to hurt me.

 

2. Malice by Pintip Dunn
Release Date: February 4, 2020
Genre: YA/Science Fiction

Malice

Time travel and the threat of mass murder?! Hell to the Yes.

Malice is a Sci-fi thriller about a girl named Alice who is contacted by her future self (Older SelfOS) and told that a student at her school will grow up to wipe out two-thirds of the population with a virus.

Apparently it’s filled to the brim with twists and blindsides, and there’s even a lovely romance to look forward to.

 

3. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (Book 1) by Holly Jackson
Release Date: February 4, 2020
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mystery/Thriller

A Good Girls Guide to Murder

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder was already released in 2019, but it looks like it’s getting a re-release in anticipation for the release of it’s sequelGood Girl, Bad Blood.

Five years ago a girl named Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend Sal Singh, before killing himself. It seemed to be a closed case, but now as a senior at the same high school the two teens attended, Pip can’t shake the feeling that there was more to the famous tragedy that plagued her town.

As she dives deeper into the secrets surrounding the strange case, Pip quickly learns that there is someone in her town who doesn’t want her to know the truth.

Did somebody say….

Veronica Mars?!

 

4. All the Stars and Teeth (Book 1) by Adalyn Grace
Release Date: February 4, 2020
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Adventure/Pirates

All the Stars and teeth

Said to be for fans of SJM and Stephanie Garber, this series is packed with magic, adventure, mermaids and PIRATES!

All the Stars and Teeth is set in a world where seven islands represent that seven types of magic that a person is able to practice. Once a person chooses which form of magic they wish to study and master, they are then sent to that specific island.

But as the Princess of of Arida, Amora is expected to be a wielder of her Islands magic, Soul magic-the ability to read someones soul. But when she is tested to ensure she can handle the magic, she fails and is forced to flee. She then finds herself amid a pirate ship after striking a deal with a man named Bastian who claims he can help her reclaim her lost magic.

There seems to be A LOT to this story, and I am so excited to read it and get lost in this magical world.

 

5. Ember Queen (Ash Princess, Book 3) by Laura Sebastian
Release Date: February 4, 2020
Genre: YA/Fantasy

Ember Queen

The third and FINAL book in the Ash Princess trilogy!

For those of who who haven’t even started Ash Princess yet, it’s about Princess Theodosia as she is forced to live in the kingdom of the Kaiser who wiped out her ENTIRE kingdom when she was just a wee lass. She is forced to pretend to have forsaken her people, but really, girl is just waiting for the opportune moment to kick some ass.

(See my review for Ash Princess here)

In Ember Queen, she is free and has a rebel army following her in her quest to take down the new enemy: the new Kaiserin. With Prinz Søren as her hostage, she fights to prevail over the girl who she once considered family.

 

6. Together We Caught Fire by Eva V. Gibson
Release Date: February 11, 2020
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Romance

Together We Caught Fire

I am SUPER excited about this release, which I am starting this weekend!

A big thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending me an ARC of this little beauty, because it looks like it’s going to do a little heart ripping, and a little heart mending

Together We Caught Fire is a tale of forbidden love.

Lane Jamison has had a crush on Grey McIntyre for longer than she cares to admit. But seeing as how he is dating her friend Sadie Hall, she knows them being together isn’t possible. But when her father suddenly announces that he is engaged, she finds out that his soon to be wife is the mother of none other than Grey McIntyre.

So when Grey and his mother move in, there is no denying the attraction building between Lane and Grey. But knowing that her feelings are forbidden, Lane turns to Sadie’s older brother Connor in the hopes of a distraction and a way to move on.

So ensues a tangle of emotions, a girl torn between two guys, and a whole bunch of messiness in between!

 

7. The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller
Release Date: February 25, 2020
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Romance

The Shadows Between Us

1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

In The Shadows Between Us, Alessandra is trying to kill the Shadow King in order to take the throne for herself. Though nobody really knows the true extent of the power that he possesses, Alessandra isn’t the only one plotting his murder. As multiple attempts on the Kings life are taken, Alessandra finds herself keeping him alive until he can make her his Queen.

But in true YA Fantasy/Romance fashion, nothing EVER goes as planned.

 

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Stay Witchy

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Netgalley · New Releases

Book Review: The Night Country (The Hazel Wood, Book 2) by Melissa Albert

The Night Country

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Flat Iron Books, via Netgalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Plot: In The Night Country, Alice Proserpine dives back into a menacing, mesmerizing world of dark fairy tales and hidden doors. Follow her and Ellery Finch as they learn The Hazel Wood was just the beginning, and that worlds die not with a whimper, but a bang.

With Finch’s help, Alice escaped the Hinterland and her reclusive grandmother’s dark legacy. Now she and the rest of the dregs of the fairy tale world have washed up in New York City, where Alice is trying to make a new, unmagical life. But something is stalking the Hinterland’s survivors―and she suspects their deaths may have a darker purpose. Meanwhile, in the winking out world of the Hinterland, Finch seeks his own adventure, and―if he can find it―a way back home…

Opinion:

‘You still think you live in a world where girls will lie down for you and show you their throats.’”

‘Now lie down, and show me your throat.’”

After escaping The Hinterland and her story, Alice is back in New York with her mother, just trying to make a new life for herself away from the magic and fairy tales. But after time paces, Alice finds herself drawn back to the ex-stories of The Hinterland as random murders begin targeting those who have escaped. With no explanation as to why, Alice tries to hunt down the culprit. While worlds away, Finch is in the Hinterland and it is tearing itself apart. With so many stories leaving, black spots and wastelands begin consuming what is left of the magical and eerie world. As he looks for a way out, and possibly a way back to his world, Alice and Finch’s paths come closer and closer together to crossing again.

Little mouse

Scratch scratch

Hasten to your home

Lock and latch, do up the catch

And pray that you’re alone

Little spider

Twitch twitch

Run to steal the gate

Weave and sew, stitch stitch

Pray it’s not too late.

Alice is back, and things are as creepy as ever.

So it has been two years since Alice returned to the human world (is that what it’s called?) and she has turned her life into one of productive normalcy. She spends time with her mother Ella, works at a quirky bookstore and hangs out with her best friend Sophia. Well, technically Sophia is Hinterland and had that whole fun tale about stalking Death (you go, girl) but you get the idea-Alice has turned a new leaf. Gone is the angry, murderous, black-eyed frost princess! Or…so we think.

‘Look at me,’ I told him. ‘Look at your destruction.’”

In this installment, Alice is having difficulty completely forsaking her Hinterland side. As much as she wishes to leave that side of her life in the past, for her sake and Ella’s’, Hinterland seems to seek her out wherever she goes. Suddenly random murders begin happening, with each victim having a limb missing from their bodies. A left hand, a right hand, left foot, right foot, eyes. Oh yeah. Super fluffy stuff, huh? But what makes everything ten times worse, is that the killings begin to resemble traits from Alice’s old abilities of frost.

Dun Dun Dun.

Alice is a bit more tame in The Night Country, but we get to see some of her old side spark back to life as well. I’m not going to lie, I do miss the old sassy and fairly angry Alice who wanted to scratch everyone’s eyes out, but this version is nice…if you like that “tame and reformed” type of thing. Basically the entire book follows Alice as she struggles with her identity and tries not to get killed. Sinister creatures from Hinterland now run rampant through New York, toying with humans and going unseen. But no matter what Alice does, she can never escape Hinterland. Because she IS Hinterland.


Though there are Hinterland creatures where Alice is, we really don’t get to witness a lot of the magical and strange imagination that comes from that world. Thankfully, the story flips over to Finch and we get to partake in his world jumping. As Hinterland starts to crumble, and people begin to panic to find a way out, Finch meets a traveler who promises to help him get back to his world after they do a bit of world jumping. He agrees, and THIS is where we really get to see the creative side of this author again.

There were patches of sky where the stars moved like living fireworks, creeks where girls with corpse-colored skin and dirty hair sang like bullfrogs and watched him through hungry eyes.”

I am still so impressed with how the author comes up with tales within a tale, and ties everything together so flawlessly. It is so much fun picturing these worlds and strange creatures in my mind. A place of huge walls of books that contain thousands of stories, and gadgets like a pen that sends messages right to the desired recipient or a mirror that would show you what your true love was looking at. The world building through each door is so creative and wondrous, and all I want is to see these stories come to life in movies!

Without giving too much away, I’d have to say this was a very enjoyable sequel to The Hazel Wood. Though Urban Fantasy isn’t really my thing, which is more what this book falls under, I found it to be a great story but not as addicting as the first book. Don’t get me wrong though, it was full of eerie and creepy happenings and I was loving the dark atmosphere that New York found itself in. It was twisted and murderous, which I love. But, I still think The Hazel Wood was my favorite of the two because it was like diving straight into a fairy tale.

I’ll leave you with this gem:

I’d opened my eyes and found Finch standing in front of me, looking at me like I was a door, too.

The kind he wanted to walk through.”

4-stars

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