Friday, March 29, 2019

Blog Tour: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Happy Friday! Today I'm participating in the blog tour for Wicked Saints, debut novel by Emily A. Duncan. You'll find an excerpt at the bottom of this post!

About the Book:

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
Book One of the Something Dark and Holy series
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: April 2, 2019

Summary (from Goodreads):

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings. 

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy.

About the Author:

EMILY A. DUNCAN works as a youth services librarian. She received a Master’s degree in library science from Kent State University, which mostly taught her how to find obscure Slavic folklore texts through interlibrary loan systems. When not reading or writing, she enjoys playing copious amounts of video games and dungeons and dragons. Wicked Saints is her first book. She lives in Ohio.

The Excerpt:

L A P T E V A 

Horz stole the stars and the heavens out from underneath Myesta’s control, and for that she has never forgiven him. For where can the moons rest if not the heavens?

—Codex of the Divine, 5:26

“It’s certainly not my fault you chose a child who sleeps so deeply. If she dies it will very much be your fault, not mine.”

Startled by bickering gods was not Nadya’s preferred method of being woken up. She rolled to her feet in the dark, moving automatically. It took her eyes a few seconds to catch up with the rest of her body.

Shut up!

It wasn’t wise to tell the gods to shut up, but it was too late now. A feeling of amused disdain flowed through her, but neither of the gods spoke again. She realized it was Horz, the god of the heavens and the stars, who had woken her. He had a tendency to be obnoxious but generally left Nadya alone, as a rule.

Usually only a single god communed with their chosen cleric. There once had been a cleric named Kseniya Mirokhina who was gifted with unnatural marksmanship by Devonya, the goddess of the hunt. And Veceslav had chosen a cleric of his own, long ago, but their name was lost to history, and he re- fused to talk about them. The recorded histories never spoke of clerics who could hear more than one god. That Nadya communed with the entire pantheon was a rarity the priests who trained her could not explain.

There was a chance older, more primordial gods existed, ones that had long since given up watch of the world and left it in the care of the others. But no one knew for sure. Of the twenty known gods, however, carvings and paintings depicted their human forms, though no one knew what they actually looked like. No cleric throughout history had ever looked upon the faces of the gods. No saint, nor priest.

Each had their own power and magic they could bestow upon Nadya, and while some were forthcoming, others were not. She had never spoken to the goddess of the moons, Myesta. She wasn’t even sure what manner of power the goddess would give, if she so chose.

And though she could commune with many gods, it was impossible to forget just who had chosen her for this fate: Marzenya, the goddess of death and magic, who expected complete dedication.

Indistinct voices murmured in the dark. She and Anna had found a secluded place within a copse of thick pine trees to set up their tent, but it no longer felt safe. Nadya slid a voryen from underneath her bedroll and nudged Anna awake.

She moved to the mouth of the tent, grasping at her beads, a prayer already forming on her lips, smoky symbols trailing from her mouth. She could see the blurry impressions of figures in the darkness, far off in the distance. It was hard to judge the number, two? Five? Ten? Her heart sped at the possibility that a company of Tranavians were already on her trail.

Anna drew up beside her. Nadya’s grip on her voryen tightened, but she kept still. If they hadn’t seen their tent yet, she could keep them from noticing it entirely.

But Anna’s hand clasped her forearm.

“Wait,” she whispered, her breath frosting out before her in the cold. She pointed to a dark spot just off to the side of the group.

Nadya pressed her thumb against Bozidarka’s bead and her eyesight sharpened until she could see as clearly as if it were day. It took effort to shove aside the immediate, paralyzing fear as her suspicions were confirmed and Tranavian uniforms be- came clear. It wasn’t a full company. In fact, they looked rather ragged. Perhaps they had split off and lost their way.

More interesting, though, was the boy with a crossbow silently aiming into the heart of the group.

“We can get away before they notice,” Anna said.

Nadya almost agreed, almost slipped her voryen back into its sheath, but just then, the boy fired and the trees erupted into chaos. Nadya wasn’t willing to use an innocent’s life as a distraction for her own cowardice. Not again.

Even as Anna protested, Nadya let a prayer form fully in her mind, hand clutching at Horz’s bead on her necklace and its constellation of stars. Symbols fell from her lips like glowing glimmers of smoke and every star in the sky winked out.
Well, that was more extreme than I intended, Nadya thought with a wince. I should’ve known better than to ask Horz for anything.
She could hear cursing as the world plunged into darkness. Anna sighed in exasperation beside her.

“Just stay back,” she hissed as she moved confidently through the dark.

“Nadya . . .” Anna’s groan was soft.

It took more focus to send a third prayer to Bozetjeh. It was hard to catch Bozetjeh on a good day; the god of speed was notoriously slow to answer prayers. But she managed to snag his attention and received a spell allowing her to move as fast as the vicious Kalyazin wind.

Her initial count had been wrong; there were six Tranavians now scattering into the forest. The boy dropped his crossbow with a bewildered look up into the sky, startling when Nadya touched his shoulder.

There was no way he could see in this darkness, but she could. When he whirled, a curved sword in his hand, Nadya sidestepped. His swing went wide and she shoved him in the direction of a fleeing Tranavian, anticipating their collision.

“Find the rest,” Marzenya hissed. “Kill them all.” 

Complete and total dedication.

She caught up to one of the figures, stabbing her voryen into his skull just underneath his ear.

Not so difficult this time, she thought. But the knowledge was a distant thing.

Blood sprayed, splattering a second Tranavian, who cried out in alarm. Before the second man could figure out what had happened to his companion, she lashed out her heel, catching him squarely on the jaw and knocking him off his feet. She slit his throat.

Three more. They couldn’t have moved far. Nadya took up Bozidarka’s bead again. The goddess of vision revealed where the last Tranavians were located. The boy with the sword had managed to kill two in the dark. Nadya couldn’t actually see the last one, just felt him nearby, very much alive.

Something slammed into Nadya’s back and suddenly the chilling bite of a blade was pressed against her throat. The boy appeared in front of her, his crossbow back in his hands, thank- fully not pointed at Nadya. It was clear he could only barely see her. He wasn’t Kalyazi, but Akolan.

A fair number of Akolans had taken advantage of the war between their neighbors, hiring out their swords for profit on both sides. They were known for favoring Tranavia simply because of the warmer climate. It was rare to find a creature of the desert willingly stumbling through Kalyazin’s snow.

He spoke a fluid string of words she didn’t understand. His posture was languid, as if he hadn’t nearly been torn to pieces by blood mages. The blade against Nadya’s throat pressed harder. A colder voice responded to him, the foreign language scratched uncomfortably at her ears.

Nadya only knew the three primary languages of Kalyazin and passing Tranavian. If she wasn’t going to be able to communicate with them . . .

The boy said something else and Nadya heard the girl sigh before she felt the blade slip away. “What’s a little Kalyazi assassin doing out in the middle of the mountains?” he asked, switching to perfect Kalyazi.

Nadya was very aware of the boy’s friend at her back. “I could ask the same of you.”

She shifted Bozidarka’s spell, sharpening her vision further. The boy had skin like molten bronze and long hair with gold chains threaded through his loose curls.

He grinned.

What do you think? Be sure to check out this book on April 2nd!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Release Day Giveaway & Swoon Thursday (#315): Team Player by Julianna Keyes

Happy Thursday, my friends! Today is the publication day of Team Player, a new book by Julianna Keyes. I ADORE Julianna Keyes' books, and I'm really enjoying this one. Get ready for the baseball season with this new sizzling romance!

About the Book:

Team Player by Julianna Keyes
Book One of the Charleston Thrashers series
Publication Date: March 28, 2019

Summary (from Goodreads):

Gwen Scott wants to love her job with the Charleston Thrashers, the MLB team she’s worshiped since she was a kid, but she can’t. Hateful colleagues and mind-numbing work make her days unbearable—until her head for baseball gets her exclusive access to the Thrashers’ clubhouse and she comes face-to-face with Tyler Ashe, the team’s sexy shortstop and baseball’s most ineligible bachelor. 

Ty has sworn off relationships in order to focus on his all-star career, but with his best friend gone, his team struggling, and the press blaming him for every loss, the most recognizable man in the majors is in a slump. Until he starts spending his time off the field with a stern blonde who recites baseball stats for kicks and sees through his arrogant façade. 

As the Thrashers’ season gets into full swing and Gwen adjusts to her new job, their fun banter and friendly teasing turns into stolen kisses and countless steamy nights. The team’s strict policy against player-staff relationships throws a curve ball into the mix, but they can’t hide from their feelings any more than the most famous man in baseball can hide from the spotlight…

Follow Julianna Keyes:

Swoon Thursday Excerpt:

He smiled, then hesitated and said, “Your parents weren’t around at that age. Did kids bother you about it?”

Gwen shrugged. “A few times. And I’d never win in a fight, but Marge was intimidating. She once got arrested at a Thrashers game and her picture was on the front page of the paper. After that, everyone was very respectful.”

“She sounds great.”

“She was. When I first got here, I cried every night. Then she started to come into my room and read Thrashers stats to put me to sleep. I still recite them to relax sometimes. 158, 620, 122, 184, 41, 123.”

Ty’s jaw dropped. “Those are my numbers from three years ago.”

“I knew you memorized your stats.”

“Well, yeah, when they’re that impressive.”

She laughed. “Don’t get big-headed. I know everybody’s. I can’t help it.”

“Gwen, I’m a superstar athlete with five major endorsement deals—why would I be big-headed?”

She laughed again, and now so did he, the laughter fading when the commercial ended and the show returned. Ty reached for the remote and paused it. “Speaking of feelings…” he said, turning more fully to face her. “Are you still nervous?”

Gwen swallowed. “Me? Nervous?”

He smiled, not fooled. “We can just binge watch the show if you want. Hang out. I’ll go home when Todd dies.”

She managed to shake her head. “That’s not how this show works, and I don’t want you to go home.”

“You sure?”


“Anything you do want me to do?”

Gwen finished her wine. Liquid courage. “Whatever you did on the golf course. And in the arcade. And whenever we’re within ten feet of each other.”

“That’s me? I thought it was you and your feminine wiles.”

“I don’t have any feminine wiles, Ty.” 

He put down his glass and somehow slid closer, until there were just inches between them. Until she was sure he could hear her heart pounding against her rib cage, like it was trying to beat through her chest and toss itself into his hands.

He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “I think you do, Gwen.”

“I don’t even know what wiles are, actually—”

“Shh,” he said. “It’s working.”

Then he kissed her.

As with both times before, she forgot everything but the kiss. The world around them blurred and faded until it was just her and Ty, lips and tongues and heated breath. The world took her nerves with it when it left and all that remained was the fire in her belly, the one stoked by each glance of his tongue, his fingers cupping her jaw, his lips murmuring nonsense against the soft skin of her throat and making her shudder with each word.
His hair was impossibly soft, his lips more so, a sharp contrast to the strength and tension he radiated. It was impossible to decide where to touch, his hair, his biceps, her fingers slipping between his shoulder blades and holding on. They fell backward on the couch, her legs sliding open and Ty filling the space between them. The hem of her dress rode high enough that she could feel the fabric of his pants on her inner thighs.
He felt incredible. He tasted amazing. He smelled fantastic. Everything about him was so much more than any fantasy her mind could have conjured, and in recent weeks she’d done plenty of ill-advised dreaming. There was no way to describe how much he was, how big, how hot, how hard. How much better.
His hand inched its way down her body, stroking over her breast lightly so she arched into the touch, wanting more. She was not meant for eight months of celibacy, no matter what she told herself. And neither, if the erection pressing against her belly was any indication, was Ty. 
She moaned and he kissed her and dropped his hand lower, covering her over her panties, the contact so combustible she almost came on the spot, and nearly cried when he stopped. 

“We have to get away from the window,” he said, breathing hard. “I’m used to crowds, but…not for this.”

Gwen’s eyes flew open and she twisted her head to see. There was no one lurking outside, but she knew what he meant. With the curtains open and the late afternoon sun pouring in, anyone scrutinizing her horrible garden would find a much better show happening on the other side of the glass.
“My room,” she said, nudging him so she could get up. “We’ll go—”
“No need to stop,” Ty interrupted, standing and scooping her so her legs fit around his waist, their new natural habitat. “Just point the way.”
She considered protesting about the weight, but it was obvious he not only didn’t mind, but didn’t care. And, when he settled her more tightly against him, quite liked it. She opened her mouth to give directions—straight down the hall and to the left and anywhere is fine, really—but he was already moving, so she gave a half-hearted wave of her hand and kissed him instead. 

He smiled against her lips, and with each step he bumped right between her legs. She was ready to explode by the time they reached her room and he lowered her onto the bed. Lying there, looking up at not just the sexiest man she’d ever been with, but, according to one magazine, one of the sexist men alive, it was tempting to give herself a quick pinch to make sure it wasn’t actually a dream. And then, when he unbuttoned his shirt and shrugged out of it, she really did pinch herself, because there was no way that six-pack was real. Until he crawled up the length of the bed to straddle her hips, and what she was feeling was very much real. 

What do you all think? Be sure to pick up this book TODAY!

The Giveaway:

Thanks to Julianna Keyes, I have a paperback copy of Team Player to give away! Open internationally, ends on April 11th. Good luck!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday (#321): The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I'm featuring:

The Girl the Sea Gave Back

The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: September 3, 2019

Summary (from Goodreads):

The new gut-wrenching epic from the New York Times bestselling author of Sky in the Deep.

For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.

For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.

I loved Sky in the Deep! This new book by Adrienne Young is not related to Sky in the Deep, but I'm sure it will be just as amazing. I can't wait!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Stacking the Shelves (#322)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which bloggers share the books and swag they've received in the past week!

So, what did I get in the week of Sunday, March 3rd to Saturday, March 9th?

(Realistically, it has been three weeks, so this is three weeks worth of books!)

In the mail:

Preorder swag for The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf

Thank you, S&S! I love the pin especially.

This Savage Song book sleeve and The Last Namsara pouch

Thank you for the trade, Caitlin!

A hardcover copy of Treason by Rick Campbell
A hardcover copy of Cold Day in the Sun by Sara Biren
A hardcover copy of Voices: The Final Hours of of Joan of Arc by David Elliott
A hardcover copy of White Rose by Kip Wilson
An ARC of Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer
An ARC of Rules We're Meant to Break by Natalie Williamson
An ARC of All Our Broken Pieces by L.D. Crichton
A paperback copy of The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark

That looks like a lot, but I haven't posted a Stacking the Shelves post in three weeks, so it'll seem that way. Y'all, I'm not in good shape, blogging-wise. Most of you saw my post on Twitter about my dad. For those who didn't: my father passed away very suddenly, three weeks ago today. It was quick, senseless, and not health-related. He was 57, and I lived with him (I live with my parents). I'm still in shock. I'm still grieving. I am not processing it well. Please be patient with me as I try to get back on my feet, in terms of blogging. I really want to be back, but it's taking energy that I don't have. I love you all for still being here. Thank you for everything. 💜💜💜