Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Review: Fable by Adrienne Young


Fable by Adrienne Young
Book One of the Fable series
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: September 1, 2020
Rating: 5 stars
Source: Copy provided by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

Filled with all of the action, emotion, and lyrical writing that brought readers to Sky in the Deep, New York Times bestselling author Adrienne Young returns with Fable, the first book in this new captivating duology.

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.

As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn't who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they're going to stay alive.

Fable takes you on a spectacular journey filled with romance, intrigue and adventure.

What I Liked:

It has certainly been a while since I reviewed a book. But there was no way I wasn't going to write a review for Fable. I've been reading - no, savoring - Fable for months. This book was exactly what I needed to pull me out of a deep reading slump. This novel is full of high risks, adventure, friendship, found family, and a swoony slow-burn romance.

Fable is the daughter of a powerful trader (Saint), who abandoned her on a dangerous island just hours after her mother drowned during a storm at sea. Surviving on this treacherous island hasn't been easy, but Fable has been honing her skills as a deep-sea dredger to collect precious stones and gems to trade for money, so she can get off the island. But circumstances can change at the turn of the tide, and Fable finds herself in a desperate situation to get off the island. With the reluctant help of a trader, West, Fable gets off the island, and she is determined to find her father and demand her rightful place on his ship. 

I had a feeling that I would love this book before I picked it up because the summary is so intriguing, but I also had read other books by Adrienne Young and I was expecting another excellent story. Young absolutely delivered on this. This story gave me Pirates of the Caribbean vibes in the summary, and I definitely got that feeling as I was reading. The atmosphere is exciting, but also eerie/threatening/dangerous, in a sense. I love the undercurrent of danger that runs through the story, and ratchets up at the climax. One thing Young does so well is building that tension throughout the story.

From the first page, I really liked Fable. She is a heroine that is easy to like and relate to (even if you aren't in a situation like she is - most of us aren't!). She is such a strong young woman who has been put in an incredibly difficult do-or-die situation for most of her life. She is so resilient - but she isn't perfect. Her own mistakes lead her to scrambling off the island, which leads to more problems. Fable "enters" this story as a clever, tough, determined individual, but she becomes even more so as the story progresses. She opens her heart to the strangers of the Marigold, which could be a big mistake. In doing so, she finds a family that she has never had, even when her parents were in her life.

You won't just fall in love with Fable - you'll love West, and the rest of the Marigold crew. West is such a mysterious character with so many layers of backstory and tragedy. I am terribly fond of characters who aren't who they seem, and who don't trust anyone, and who have had to make awful decisions in the past. Both West and Fable are this type of character. The other members of the crew are mistrustful of Fable at first - especially Willa - and with good reason.

There is slow-burn, sweet romance in this book, and I love it so much. I shipped this couple from their initial interaction of the book, and I want them to get a happy ending so badly. There is also another romance between secondary characters which I loved. 

The ending of this book is a pretty intense cliffhanger, so be prepared to be screaming for book two when you get to the last page. I personally hate cliffhangers and I appreciate the heads-up, so that I can binge-read the series when it is published, but I read this book so early (back in January) and had no idea about the cliffhanger. The good thing is, Namesake publishes in March!

Fable is one of those stories that lingers in my mind, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I am so happy that the book has lived up to its predecessors and the hype, and I can't wait to read the conclusion to the series. 

What I Did Not Like:

Like I said, I personally don't like cliffhangers. Even in a series, I love it when the author wraps up each book, but perhaps the "big picture" plot hasn't been quite wrapped up, or something like that. I understand the need to "hook" the reader, but cliffhangers are so mean (especially when a series gets cancelled or more books are never published, for whatever reason!). As far as cliffhangers go, this is a pretty intense one, so it's a great type of cliffhanger but readers are going to be upset that Namesake isn't available yet. Hang in there!

Would I Recommend It:

I absolutely would recommend this book - especially as someone who has been in a months-long reading slump. If you're looking for action/adventure with a slow-burn romance in the background, this is a great book to read. It has crossover appeal so I would say that adults, young adults, and maybe even upper middle grade readers could read and love this book. 

Rating:

5 stars. I will read anything Adrienne Young writes. Fable has cemented that. I can't wait to read Namesake!



Follow the Author:



Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Monday, August 24, 2020

Blog Tour: Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

Good morning and happy Monday, bibliovores! I've got a post for you today! I'm so excited to share an excerpt of Janella Angeles's upcoming debut novel, Where Dreams Descend. Check it out below - and if you are planning on preordering this book, today is your last day to do so!


About the Book:


Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles
Book One of the Kingdom of Cards series
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: August 25, 2020

Official Summary:

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.



About the Author:

Photo by: Mei Lin Barral Photography

JANELLA ANGELES is a Filipino-American author who got her start in writing through consuming glorious amounts of fanfiction at a young age—which eventually led to penning a few of her own, and later on, creating original stories from her imagination. A lifelong lover of books, she's lucky enough to be working in the business of publishing them on top of writing them. She currently resides in Massachusetts, where she's most likely to be found listening to musicals on repeat and daydreaming too much for her own good. Where Dreams Descend is her first book.



Early Praise for Where Dreams Descend:

"Janella Angeles steals the 2020 show with her fiercely imagined debut starring larger than life characters, a dangerous world alive with magic, and a dizzying dose of grab-a-fainting-couch-and-swoon-away romance!" - Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Gilded Wolves

"Where Dreams Descend is a glamorous dark gem of a tale, sparkling with romance, magic, and intrigue. Readers will be captivated by prima donna Kallia as the mystery is slowly unmasked. Bravissima!" - Julie C. Dao, author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

“Lavish and opulent in a way that feels warmly familiar yet demands your attention. There are secrets upon secrets, a girl who’s boldly ambitious, and truly riveting stage magic. I didn’t want the show to stop.” - Emily A. Duncan, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked Saints

"Vibrant imagery, jaw-dropping set pieces, sizzling romantic tension, and unstoppable heroine Kallia bring this ambitious debut novel to spectacular life. Fans of Caraval and The Night Circus will be delighted!" - Claire Legrand, New York Times bestselling author of Furyborn  

"[A] spellbinding melody of a book, and the true magic is how Angeles puts all the best parts of an enrapturing theatrical performance onto paper and ink. From the gripping twists in the first pages all the way to the final, heartbreaking crescendo, Where Dreams Descend will surge you to your feet in a standing ovation.” – Sara Raasch, New York Times bestselling author of the Snow Like Ashes trilogy


Preorder Campaign:

Today is your LAST DAY to submit your receipt to receive an art print illustrated by Alexis Castellanos! The campaign ends on 08/24 at 11:59 PM EST. Open to USA/CAN.


HERE is the link!


The Excerpt:

Never come to Hellfire House without wearing a mask.

It was one of the rare rules in a joint without any. The only rule the master of the club did not mind following. He blended in with the sea of suits and white masks that arrived every other night, switching appearances from crowd to crowd. A bartender one moment, a dealer at the card tables the next.

Only his face remained the same, half-masked and haunting. Like a prince who relished the bloody crown on his head, and the ghosts that came with it. A face almost hardened by beauty, though glints of youth ran deep beneath soft black eyes. It always shocked new guests, to see him. The master of the House was rumored to be a dragon of a man. A monster. A magician who had no mercy for fools.

Only those who dared slur the word boy in his face understood how true those rumors were.

To the rest, he played the devil on all shoulders, leading patrons to his bar and game tables, guiding them toward his enchanted smoke lounge to drown in curated memories. The warmth of first love, the heady rush of triumph, the immense joy of dreams come true. The master kept a selection of sensations, and one hit of the pipes delivered magic the people came crawling to his house to taste.

They had no idea the show that was in store for them.

The master of the House sipped his short glass of scarlet whiskey in peace, tapping along the wide black strip over his brass knuckles. He’d long since manipulated his attire, sitting casually at a card table and savoring the mayhem. Raucous cheers erupted from the next table as dice rolled out across the surface. Smiling Hellfire girls in black blazers and masks of lace denied patrons begging for a dance. Loudest of all, the dealer’s crisp shuffling of the black cards with teeth-white numbers before she doled out hands to players at the table.

“No, no more,” one moaned. “I can’t.”

“Sure you can, chap.” A young man in a white thorn-edged mask cheerfully pressed him back in his seat. “We can’t leave. Haven’t even finished your drink, yet.”

His drunken friend’s mouth puckered under another gulp. “Think it’s true, the drink? Magician’s Blood, the menu said.”

“Think you have power, now?” Thorn Mask laughed, leaning back to appraise the club. “Here, you take your magic where you can get it. You wear a mask. You flip a card, smoke a memory. Or you look up . . . at her.”

The master’s fingers tightened around his glass, just as the lights dimmed. Dancers cleared the floor under the hush of music, shifting from smooth, steady beats to a racing rhythm loud as thunderous applause.

Right on cue.

The band’s worth of instruments he’d charmed for the night started up a wild entry tune of drums, the thick trill of trumpets. Chatter ceased and backs straightened as a beam of light speared toward the ceiling. A panel slid open over the dance floor.

And the chandelier descended.

Strings of crystals dangled along tiered rims of rose gold, cutting sharply into a jewel-set swing where a masked showgirl sat. A throne of glittering jewels, casting luminous lace across the walls and the ground and the audience taking her in. Her brown skin glowed against her corset, red as her gem-studded mask. Arms stretched out, she crossed and extended her legs in smooth lines all the way down, until her heels touched the lacquered black dancefloor. With the hint of a smile, she rose from her throne and stalked forward, thrusting a hand up with a snap.

Darkness engulfed the room.

Hoots and hollers rang at the drop of the beat, before a glimmer of her form reappeared in the shadows. The room pulsed at her command, matching the spike of heartbeats the master sensed throughout the club.

The smirk on his lips matched the girl’s as she arched her back to the raw stretch of the melody. She thrived under the attention, like a wildflower under the sun. A star finding the night.

His star.

“I’ll be damned.” The drunk at the card table breathed in awe, as the girl’s palms began brightening with a molten glow. “Nothing like an academy girl.”

“Worth the trip, right?” His friend clapped a hand on his shoulder.

“I didn’t know they could be magicians like . . . this.”

The master smothered a dark scoff under a sip of whiskey. The girl showed off good tricks—improvised and bettered from his basic crowd-pleasers. Treating the ceiling like a sky and showering comets from it, casting an elaborate shadow show of dancing shades over the floor, shifting every candlelight in the room to different colors to the beat of the music.

But always the performer, she preferred to be front and center. Teasing her power just enough to make the audience want more of her magic, more of her.

He wet his lips as flames shot from her hands, arcing over her head and around her body. The fire’s melody bent to her every movement, and she gave everything to it. If she wasn’t careful, she’d overexert herself like she did most nights, never knowing when to stop. How to pull back.

Careful never was her strongest suit.

Sparks fell before her, sizzling on the ground. Unafraid, she sauntered down her stage of flames with slow swaying hips and a firelit smile.

“Magicians like this are best kept a secret,” Thorn Mask went on. “And besides, the work is far too scandalous for a lady. Only clubs will take them.”

“What a shame. Imagine going up against the likes of her at the competition.”

The master paused, drawing his gaze back to his glass.

“Not this again. That flyer was nothing but a joke.” Thorn Mask slapped the table with a groaning laugh. “A prank.”

The drunk sloppily patted around his coat, pulling from his breast pocket a dirty, scrunched ball of paper. “It’s real. They’re all over the academies, in Deque and New Crown and—”

“A prank,” repeated Thorn Mask, unfolding the flyer anyway. “It has to be. No one’s been to that city in ages, it would never open itself to such games.”

“That makes it all the more interesting, don’t you think?” As another roar of cheers erupted around them, the friend sipped his drink smugly. “Imagine if she entered, the city might implode.”

“Right. As if that would ever happen.” Thorn Mask leered. “Competition would eat a creature like her alive.”

“Because she’s . . . ?”

With an impish lift of his brow, the man in the thorny mask flicked the flyer off the table and returned to his forgotten spread of cards. “Let’s get on with the game, shall we?”

Before he could gesture at the dealer, the master suddenly appeared at their table, snatching the young man’s wrist in a biting grip. The man yelped as the force knocked over his drink, and sent a stream of hidden cards spilling out from his sleeves.

“What’s this?” The master bent toward the ground and picked up a couple, entirely too calm. “Cheating in my house?”

The man froze, recognition dawning at the brass knuckles alone. “Where did you—I-I mean,” he sputtered, patting frantically at his sleeve. “That’s impossible. Those aren’t mine, I swear.”

“Then where did they come from?”

Sweat dripped from his temple, his face paler than the white of his mask. “I emptied my pockets at the door. Honest.”

Honest. That was the best he could do? The master almost laughed.

“You want to know the price cheaters pay in my joint?” His question offered no mercy. Only deliverance, served on ice. “Memories.”

“No, please!” The man’s lip trembled. “I didn’t, I-I’ll do whatever you want!”
“This is what I want.” The master rose from the table with the jerk of his wrist. The cheat flew to the ground in a gasp as he gripped at the invisible chain-like weight around his neck. Sharp, staccato breaths followed the master as he dragged his prisoner toward the smoke dens.

The man screamed, but no one heard him. No one saw, no one cared. All eyes fell on the star of the show as she searched for a dance partner to join her. The drunken friend, noticing nothing amiss, raised his half-full glass of Magician’s Blood to his lips before waving his hand high like the others. The man thrashed harder, only to feel his cries smothered and deeper in his throat. His form, invisible at the sweep of the master’s hand.

With a disdainful glance, the master chuckled. “You’re only making this more difficult for yourself. One memory won’t kill you.”

At once, he paused. The lights blinked around them, the air grown still. Dim and hazy, as though locked in a dream.

He thought nothing of it until he caught the movements of the patrons—their arms raised and waving slowly, increment by increment. Their cheers dulled and stretched into low, gravelly roars, as if the sound were wading through heavier air. Against time itself.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

The sound of her voice slithered around him, stopping the master in his tracks. The man quieted. Sweat soaked his pale face, his chest heaving. The showgirl stood in their path, every stare in the room still locked on the spotlit floor where she’d been. As though she’d never left.

Impressive.

Her red corset glinted as she cocked her hip and pointed at the man on the floor. “I choose him.”

She could never let things be easy.

“Kallia,” he growled, warning.

She smiled. “Jack.”

“Pick another. He’s a cheater.”

Her lips pursed into a dubious line. “Then let me teach him a lesson. He’ll no doubt prefer it more.” She swung a leg over the man’s prone form so she stood directly above him. Invitation dripped from the crook of her fingers. “The music calls, darling. Let’s have ourselves a grand time.”

The man’s terror turned swiftly into awe, and he looked at her as if ready to kiss the ground she walked on. As soon as he took her beckoning hand, the room resumed its lively rhythm—a song snapped back in full swing. The cheers and hollers returned to their normal speed, exploding in delight as patrons found their lovely entertainer in their midst, her chosen dance partner in tow.

She bypassed the master, pressing a casual hand on his chest to move him. It lingered, he noticed. Unafraid, unlike most. Their gazes locked for a moment, their masked faces inches apart.

No one ever dared to get this close. To him, to her.

Only each other.

At the next round of cheers and whistles, she pushed him away, smug as a cat. Tugging the man close behind her, she sent fires onto the ground that illuminated her path and warded others from trying to follow them to the stage. Never once looking back at the master, even as he watched on after her.

His fist tightened, full of the cards from his earlier trick. They disappeared into mist, having served their purpose. Along with the flyer he managed to grab.

He didn’t even bother giving it a read. It died in the fire caged by his palm. Tendrils of smoke rose between his brass knuckles, and when he opened his fingers, nothing but ash fell to the ground.


I'm so excited for this book to be published! Here is a photo of me and Janella, when I met her at ALAMW in January. She is super sweet!



Are you excited about Where Dreams Descend? Have you read books similar to this, like Caraval or The Night Circus?

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Happy Holidays!

Readers, 

Happy holidays! I want to wish everyone the best holiday season. For those who celebrate, Merry Christmas! Christmas is one of my favorite holidays and I'm enjoying the time with my family. 

The new year is coming up, and hopefully, changes to The Eater of Books! -- so, stay tuned. Until then, happy New Year!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Blog Tour Double Review: Collateral & Damage by Natasha Knight


Happy Tuesday! Today is the publication date of Damage by Natasha Knight, the second and final novel in the Collateral Damage duology. I'm sharing my review of both Collateral and Damage. I hope you enjoy!


Review of Damage:


Damage by Natasha Knight
Book Two of the Collateral Damage series
Publication Date: October 15, 2019
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC sent by the publicist

Official Summary:

We’re a match made in hell, Stefan and I.

He took me to exact his revenge. I went from being a pawn to my father to being a pawn to Stefan. The only difference is I have a ring the size of a boulder on my finger and a husband I don’t want.

And the hardest part is I thought he was different. I thought I was falling in love.

I guess my father was right. I’m not a very smart girl.

Stefan is a powerful man. He doesn’t play nice, not if you’re his enemy. But I’ve learned one thing about my husband.

He takes care of what’s his.

And I am his.

His enemies have become my enemies, but he’ll never let anyone hurt me. He’s fiercely protective. It’s the predator inside that scares me.

What I Liked:

I'll keep this review somewhat short, since this is a conclusion novel and I want to avoid spoilers. We met Stefan and Gabriela in Collateral, and what a dynamic, passionate, intense couple they are. Their love story is incredibly dark, and not your typical romance. There is push and pull, give and take. Their relationship is incredibly difficult, heartbreaking, and angst-ridden.

This book picks up pretty much where Collateral left off. Things are in motion from the start, and the action doesn't slow down until the very last page. I really don't want to spoil anything for anyone, so I won't say any specifics. But I will say that Stefan and Gabriela clash and collide very soon after this book starts, in a sweet and powerful way.

The romance in general is not sweet. It's not a cute, slow-burn romance. It's a slow-burn romance that is filled with pain, passion, and tug-of-way. I didn't always like Stefan's actions; I didn't always like Gabriela's compromises. But I did like how they slowly found their way into their relationship, together.

There is no love triangle in this book! One thing that I truly liked was how the two main characters were together, whether they liked it or not, from the start, and never strayed from their engagement (or marriage).

This book ends with a bang - but also a HEA! And that is all I will say. I enjoyed this novel, and I definitely enjoyed the ending. 

What I Did Not Like:

I will say that I did not always like Stefan's actions. I understand his mind, and his regret, but I didn't like how he conducted himself at times. 

I also wanted a little more development of their relationship at the very end. The author seemed to want to put a neat bow on the ending, and tie everything up quickly. But Stefan and Gabriela's relationship issues couldn't just be fixed so quickly, with one or two hurdles out of the way. I wanted to see a little more development. But on the other hand, I was really happy about the HEA!

Would I Recommend It:

If you like dark romances, then this is a good one. It is not sweet - it is intense and dark and not super romantic. But I liked the painful, tortured level of the romance. It's definitely not for everyone though. I am so glad that an author friend recommended Collateral to me - I loved this series!

Rating: 

4 stars. I am pretty pleased with this duology and so glad I gave it a chance. I'll definitely be on the lookout for new books by this author!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!



Review of Collateral:

Collateral

Collateral by Natasha Knight
Book One of the Collateral Damage series
Publication Date: September 23, 2019
Source: Purchased ebook copy

Summary (from Goodreads):

Gabriela

Stefan Sabbioni showed up uninvited in my bedroom on my sixteenth birthday. He stood in the shadows smelling of whiskey and death and wrapped a broken, blood-crusted necklace around my neck. I thought he'd strangle me with it.

That night, he left a message for my father. He said he'd be back to take something precious.

I never delivered that message, though. I wonder if things would be different if I had because now, two years later, he's back. And he's not hiding in any shadows.

He's come to make good on his promise.

He's back to take that something precious.

Me.

Stefan

Marchese is the manipulator of my family's tragedy. I won't just bring him to his knees. I'll bury him for what he did.

Taking his daughter is only the beginning. I'll do it knowing I'm starting a war. I'll do it knowing my enemies will become his allies. They'll stop at nothing to destroy me and he'll stop at nothing to get her back.

I've never shied away from war, though. I'm not one to play nice and I don't share my toys. I'll demolish you if you touch what's mine.

And she is most definitely mine.

What I Liked:

I started reading this book on a complete whim. A friend on social media shared one of the author's promotional posts, on the publication day, and it piqued my interest. This friend has had excellent recommendations so I decided to check out the book. I picked it up... and two hours later I found myself at the end. When was the last time that happened? I cannot remember the last time I read a book in one sitting. I was hooked from page one. Realistically, I was hooked from the premise!

This is a dark mafia romance story, featuring Stefan, the heir of the Sabbioni mafia family, and Gabriela, the heir of the Marchese mafia family. Stefan is out for blood, after his brother Antonio is brutally murdered. He has good reason to believe that the Marchese family was behind the murder. Two years after the murder, he comes after the Marchese family by blackmailing Gabriela's father into signing her into a marriage contract with him (Stefan). Gabriela knows nothing of Antonio's murder, or her father's mafia dealings. She was a pawn of her father and she is now a pawn of Stefan. But Stefan is more than the cold man that he appears, and her father isn't all that he appears.

I love mafia romances. One of my favorite romance novels is The Marriage Contract by Katee Robert. All of the books in that series are fantastic, but that one in particular is my favorite. So when I saw this book, also featuring an arranged marriage, and hate-to-love romance (and slow-burn, at that), I figured I would love this. And I did!

Gabriela seems like a spoiled brat at first, but she isn't. She is a pawn, always used by someone. She has lived her life surrounded by bloodshed and violence - it's no wonder she hates Stefan Sabbioni on the spot. From one dangerous man to another - she knows she is powerless in any situation. But she's the type that won't go down without a fight. She fought her father constantly and was punished every time. When Stefan takes her away, she doesn't allow him to bully her. (Or she tries!) Her situation is so heartbreaking all around, but she is so tough and resilient.

Stefan appears a cold, heartless man. He forces Gabriela to become engaged to him, and to marry him within a month. He has rules for her and he expects her to follow them without question. He's a hard, clever, alpha male, which should have made me dislike (and I did at first). But the author digs deep into his character and slowly shows layers of him. I warmed up to him after a little. He didn't have any patience with Gabriela at first, and I hated him for that, but I started to understand him and see him differently as the book went on - especially when he himself started to soften and change.

For a romance novel, this book was actually sparse on the romance, in a way. There's very little physical romance in this book, and the softer feelings aren't totally developed. But the tension was so well-written. The tension and chemistry between Stefan and Gabriela is thick enough to slice with a knife. They have volatile, passionate chemistry, and I have no doubt that there will be some heavy, complex, intense scenes in the next book. I actually really like how this is set up. The author split the story into two books, and did not rush the romance OR the chemistry. The chemistry is built up slowly but very surely, and the romance (the emotional side) starts in this book but there are no declarations of love (heck, I don't think these two characters love each other - yet).

Stefan and Gabriela do not have an easy journey, and their relationship is nothing but difficult. They don't trust each other, they have their own baggage, and they don't get along. But you can see things changing as the book goes on. I really like the how the author paced this story. I am so vexed that I have to wait for another book BUT it appears to be very much worth it. Please don't disappoint, Damage!

The ending is a cliffhanger, beware! Book two (the final book) publishes in two weeks, so the wait isn't too bad, but the cliffhanger is a lot to handle! Just keep that in mind.

I really liked this book. I am hoping that Damage will be even better, especially with so much unresolved between Stefan and Gabriela (gah! I need more kissing!), and so much about her father that needs to be uncovered... I'm ready!

What I Did Not Like:

There is a scene, in the beginning of the book, that I did not like. It bothered me when I initially read it, and know that I've finished the book, it's still bothering me. Now that I've finished the book, I can look at the entire story, and that scene almost seems out of place in the story. I can't say what the scene is, but it was something involving Stefan and Gabriela, early on. Stefan had no patience with her at first,and I'm not excusing his initial behavior. This is a dark romance novel, and neither of them saw each other as human beings at first, but this scene stuck out to me. That's my own notable negative about this book. It probably wouldn't even bother most people!

That, and Clara. An unnecessary relative. Very unnecessary.

Would I Recommend It:

If you like dark romances, or mafia romances, then this is a great book for you! Note that the romance isn't fully fleshed out in this book, so there aren't many physical romance scenes, but I expect Damage will be different. Plus, the tension is fantastic, and the pacing is really well-written. It's a slow-burn romance story, and very worth it!

Rating: 

4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars. I read this book in one sitting and was a tiny bit disappointed when I realized I couldn't one-click book two and start reading! But two weeks is not too long to wait. I'm excited!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!


About the Author:

USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance, Natasha Knight specializes in dark, tortured heroes. Happily-Ever-Afters are guaranteed, but she likes to put her characters through hell to get them there. She’s evil like that. 


Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Cover Reveal: Damage by Natasha Knight


Hello and happy Tuesday! I'm so excited to help reveal the cover of Damage, the second and final book of the Collateral Damage series. I just read Collateral last week and I LOVED it. Book two (Damage) is publishing in two weeks - get ready! If you liked Katee Robert's The Marriage Contract, you won't want to miss this series!


Here's the cover of Damage!


Damage by Natasha Knight
Book Two of the Collateral Damage duology
Publication Date: October 15, 2019

Official Summary:

We’re a match made in hell, Stefan and I.

He took me to exact his revenge. I went from being a pawn to my father to being a pawn to Stefan. The only difference is I have a ring the size of a boulder on my finger and a husband I don’t want.

And the hardest part is I thought he was different. I thought I was falling in love.

I guess my father was right. I’m not a very smart girl.

Stefan is a powerful man. He doesn’t play nice, not if you’re his enemy. But I’ve learned one thing about my husband.

He takes care of what’s his.

And I am his.

His enemies have become my enemies, but he’ll never let anyone hurt me. He’s fiercely protective. It’s the predator inside that scares me.



About the Author:

USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance, Natasha Knight specializes in dark, tortured heroes. Happily-Ever-Afters are guaranteed, but she likes to put her characters through hell to get them there. She’s evil like that. 




You can read my review of Collateral on Goodreads. I'll be posting it on my blog in two weeks, with my review of Damage. Get excited!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Blog Tour and Giveaway: The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

Welcome to the blog tour for The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh! I'm thrilled and honored to be a part of this wonderful promotion! Check out my interview with Renée below - and be sure to come back to my blog on October 4th for a huge giveaway!

Meet Renée!
(I have, in person, twice. She's amazing!)

Renée Ahdieh
(Image from Goodreads)

Alyssa: Arjun Desai" is an Indian name (represent!). Was there a specific inspiration for the name?

Renée: One of my closest friends from college is originally from Mumbai, and my husband and I have visited him four times since we graduated. His name is not Arjun, but so much of Arjun’s character is informed by these amazing experiences we got to share with his family in his world. I chose “Arjun” for this character’s names because it means “bright, shining,” and I think this word most aptly describes his personality. He is often a light in the darkness.

Alyssa: What was something about Arjun that you struggled to write or come up with?

Renée: Arjun was a character that came to mind almost fully formed, which is such a rare treat for me as a writer. I think it was because I channeled so many of my own experiences with our close friend, as well as understanding what Arjun wanted and needed early on in the story.

Alyssa: What is a quality or trait or Arjun that you also share?

Renée: This is a bit of a spoiler for later, as it’s not immediately apparent in The Beautiful, but Arjun loves to cook. He’s also a vegetarian, and his passion for the cuisine of his country will become much more obvious in subsequent books.

Alyssa: What is one message or truth that Arjun would want everyone to know?

Renée: Arjun is a character with a lot of anger in his family, and it taught him at an early age how destructive anger can be, especially with those to whom you are closest.

Alyssa: What would Arjun's favorite Bollywood movie be?

Renée: Arjun is both a softie and a lover of good comedy, so either "Devdas" or "Dostana"! But he also enjoys a good cricket match, so perhaps even "Lagaan"? There are too many to choose from!

Alyssa: Excellent choices. Thanks so much, Renée! I'll see you in D.C. in a few weeks!


About the Author:

Renée Ahdieh is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger. In her spare time, she likes to dance salsa and collect shoes. She is passionate about all kinds of curry, rescue dogs, and college basketball. The first few years of her life were spent in a high-rise in South Korea; consequently, Renée enjoys having her head in the clouds. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and their tiny overlord of a dog.



About the Book:


The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh
Book One of The Beautiful series
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 8, 2019

Summary (from Goodreads):

New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with a sumptuous, sultry and romantic new series set in 19th century New Orleans where vampires hide in plain sight.

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she's forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city's glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group's leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien's guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.



Are you excited about Renée's new book? How about vampires making a comeback? What is something you hope to see Renée write in the future?

Be sure to stop by on October 4th to enter a very cool giveaway related to The Beautiful! Right now, you can enter to win one of five ARCs of The Beautiful!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Blog Tour: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Good morning and happy Monday, book fans! I'm dusting off my blog to share my love for Sorcery of Thorns, Margaret Rogerson's latest novel with Simon & Schuster. I adored this book and hope you all will too!


About the Book:


Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: June 4, 2019
Rating: 5 stars
Source: ARC provided by the publisher

Official Summary:

From the New York Times bestselling author of An Enchantment of Ravens comes an imaginative fantasy about an apprentice at a magical library who must battle a powerful sorcerer to save her kingdom.

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

What I Liked:

Sorcery of Thorns is one of those books that has just as beautiful a story as its cover. I remember seeing the cover reveal post and thinking, wow, I'm entranced already. I loved Rogerson's debut novel, a standalone called An Enchantment of Ravens, so I had high expectations for this new standalone. I'm so happy to say that I loved this book!

The story follows Elisabeth, an orphan raised in one of the many Great Libraries, surrounded by grimoires and librarians. She has always known that she wanted to be among books for the rest of her life. But a curious and deadly set of events leads to her being thrown out of the Library and running for her life. She finds herself working together with a sorcerer, Nathaniel Thorn, in order to expose a powerful sorcerer who is behind the sabotage, the destruction of grimoires, and impending end of the human world. 

One of the strongest aspects of this book is the writing style. I love Rogerson's writing. She has amazing prose and lovely descriptions, but she also sets the scene beautifully. She has a way of wrapping the story and the world-building around the reader, so you're immersed without consciously realizing it. I hadn't picked up a book in months, and wasn't quite in the mood for reading, but when I started reading this one, I didn't realize just how drawn in I was. I couldn't stop reading.

And of course, that's also attributed to the story itself. This book is about 500 pages but it doesn't feel like that, because the story is so intriguing. Once events start rolling, the action never stops. Get past the first two or three chapters and you'll be hooked (if you weren't already, from page one). 

Elisabeth is an easy character to love. She's quiet and inquisitive, but also fiery and decisive. She is an intelligent and has good instincts. Her foil is Nathaniel, who is charming and good-natured, with a sense of humor that hide great pain. I loved Nathaniel, for her charm, his selflessness, and his strength. And then there's Silas, a demon that has served Nathaniel and his family for years. Silas is a an interesting character; he is the family's demon, but he is Nathaniel's friend nonetheless. He is loyal and as kind as a demon could possibly be. I liked Silas and honestly could not see the story without him in it.

There's a little romance! No love triangle. Nathaniel and Elisabeth are an adorable pair that have a hard-earned, slow-burn romance. I am a fan!

This is a lovely fantasy standalone novel that I will definitely be reading again. It is one of the few books I've read this year, and it makes sense why it captured my attention. It's so well-written and a joy to read. There are high stakes but there are fun times, great characters, and a wonderful ending.

What I Did Not Like:

I can't think of anything specific that I didn't like. I really enjoyed this book!

Would I Recommend It:

If you love fantasy, and/or if you love standalone novels, this is one you should try. I am a huge fan of standalone novels because of the low commitment and less waiting (I'm terrible with series), so I will recommend standalones nine times out of ten. This is a really good one - and there's a HEA!

Rating: 

5 stars. I loved Sorcery of Thorns! I can't wait to see what Margaret Rogerson comes up with next. Hopefully another beautiful fantasy standalone with a gorgeous illustrated cover. I will freely admit that illustrated covers are an easy way to my heart!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!


About the Author:


Margaret Rogerson is the author of the New York Times bestseller An Enchantment of Ravens and Sorcery of Thorns. She has a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology from Miami University. When not reading or writing she enjoys sketching, gaming, making pudding, and watching more documentaries than is socially acceptable (according to some). She lives near Cincinnati, Ohio, beside a garden full of hummingbirds and roses. Visit her at MargaretRogerson.com.



Mood Board:



Blog Tour Schedule:

Monday, May 27 – Alexa Loves Books
Tuesday, May 28 – The Novel Knight
Wednesday, May 29 – Adventures of a Book Junkie
Thursday, May 30 – Awkwordly Emma
Friday, May 31 – Mel to the Any
Monday, June 3 – The Fox’s Hideaway
Tuesday, June 4 – The Starry-Eyed Revue
Wednesday, June 5 – The Bookish Beagle
Thursday, June 6 – Super Space Chick
Friday, June 7 – Flying Paperbacks
Monday, June 10 – Bookshelves & Paperbacks
Tuesday, June 11 – Nightly Reading
Wednesday, June 12 – Novel Heartbeat
Thursday, June 13 – Hammock of Books
Friday, June 14 – The Everlasting Library
Monday, June 17 – The Eater of Books!
Tuesday, June 18 – Beware of the Reader
Wednesday, June 19 – This Dark Material
Thursday, June 20 – That Artsy Reader Girl
Friday, June 21 – SimplyAlly Tea