ARC Review: The Brass Queen

Book Reviews

Let me start off by saying that The Brass Queen by Elizabeth Chatworth is not something I usually read. Steampunk is a relatively unexplored subgenre for me, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect …

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The writing itself is elegant, thorough. Every detail paints an elaborate picture of what is being viewed and the reader can easily see what they are being shown. At times the detail was a little too much and distracting, dragging down the action, but I mostly appreciated the overall picturesque scenes as I got to experience the world through the hero and heroine’s POV.

Tying into the language, and as mentioned a little above, the overall flow of the story dragged for me even with the bouts of action. While reading, I often was waiting for something that I just didn’t quite get. The mix of historical characters and events, the devices, the side characters, usage of humor, all were fabulous, and I was greedy for more details on the artifacts that the Haltwhistle’s housed. It was the main characters, specifically Constance herself, that just didn’t mesh with me.

Constance was supposed to be “The Brass Queen” and yet I didn’t really see that. There is mentionings of her creations, her dealings, and nods to her “second” persona but she didn’t seem to know how to handle a situation and “luck” was mostly on her side so she could prevail. I wanted more from her. Expected more.

Overall I adored the historical aspects, the creations that were birthed, the humor, and the side characters that added to the whimsy feel. I enjoyed the realistic ending and the open-endedness of what the characters themselves will do next.

Rating: 3/5

Looking for a witty and humorous read with a splash of romance, steampunk creations, and historical oddities? Give The Brass Queen a try—releasing this month!

Book Review: Lifestyles of Gods & Monsters

Book Reviews
*Disclaimer: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest, free review. All opinions are my own. *

 

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Lifestyles of Gods & Monsters Review

By: Rae

 

 “My parents make me do it because the gods told them to…”

“Haven’t you noticed that the gods mostly tell people to do stuff they already want to do?”

– Emily Roberson, Lifestyles of Gods & Monsters

 

When Greek mythology meets reality TV things are bound to get interesting… and let me tell you, Roberson’s world was petty, hopeful, crushing, amusing, and risky.

 

The idea that royalty sells really is the ultimate summary of this book where sixteen year old Ariadne’s world gets flipped upside down when the gorgeous and mysterious Theseus arrives to compete in The Labyrinth Contest. The Minotaur remains undefeated – much to Ariadne’s relief – but the show’s ratings are dropping and “Daddy” is demanding something more to make Athens continue to pay for their crime. When the attraction between Athen’s prince Theseus and Ariadne is unable to remain hidden, Ariadne’s world falls to lies and heartbreak.  Her mother takes over her makeup, she is onscreen more than off, and she is told she has this important part to play to appease the gods. No pressure…

 

Will she help Theseus?

What will Ariadne sacrifice to get her desire – freedom?

Who is the villain?

The hero?

 

I adored the fact that this entire book was full of reality angst and played on the nitty gritty of sex, drugs, and money. There were strong hints of prostitution, drugs, alcoholism, animalistic… well you get the point. Either way I think Roberson did a great job of bringing these myths into a contemporary world. However, if you aren’t familiar with Ariadne, Theseus, and the minotaur, you may have some struggle with connecting to their reworked storylines. I love the side-eyes and nods to their antique parts and grinned at the crazy that is Greek mythology on the big screen.

 

It was fast, it played dirty, I had a love-hate relationship with 99% of the characters, and I was left wondering at what I really wanted for Ariadne, but overall, I give Lifestyles of Gods & Monsters a 4/5.

 

Lifestyles of Gods & Monsters is available today!

Check out my interview with Emily Roberson here.

 

Blog Tour: Remember Me

Blog Tour, Book Reviews

Remember Me

By Chelsea Bobulski
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: August 6th 2019

Genre: Young Adult, Horror
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Synopsis:
In this eerie and suspenseful YA, a teen girl discovers what connects her to the hotel she calls home as horrifying visions lead her to the truth. 
Nell Martin is moving again, this time to the Winslow Grand Hotel, built in 1878. As Nell is settling in, strange things begin to happen. Doors lock of their own accord, writing appears on bathroom walls–and most horrifying of all–visions of a dead boy permeate her waking life. Thinking it was her mind playing tricks on her, she soon finds the past and the present colliding as she learns horrific details of a murder that happened at the hotel in 1905 involving a girl named Lea.
Nell and a mysterious bellboy must relive that day in hopes of finally breaking a curse that imprisons them both. And Nell discovers what truly links her to the history of the Winslow Grand Hotel.
The Review
About the Author
Chelsea Bobulski was born in Columbus, Ohio, and raised on Disney movies, classic musicals, and Buckeye pride. She’s always had a penchant for the fantastical, the stories that teach us there is more to this world than meets the eye. She has a soft spot for characters with broken pasts, strange talents, and a dash of destiny in their bones. After graduating from The Ohio State University with a degree in history, she promptly married her high school sweetheart and settled down in Northwest Ohio with her notebooks and daydreams and copious amounts of chocolate. THE WOOD is her debut novel.
Social Media Links:

Tour Schedule Here.

 

 

Giveaway
Prize: Win (1) copy of REMEMBER ME by Chelsea Bobulski (US Only)

Starts: 06 August 2019
Ends: 20 August 2019

 

Tour Organized By:

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ARC Review: The Bone Garden

Book Reviews
*** Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for a free, honest review. All opinions are my own. ***

 

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“The night was creeping away, yesterday tumbling into today.”

– Heather Kassner, The Bone Garden

 

The Bone Garden

By: Rae

 

“Made of dust and bone and imagination” main character Irréelle struggles to find her place in a world where magic tethers her to reality by a wielded thread. Constantly aiming to please her creator, Miss Vesper, mistake after mistake leaves her in danger of disappearing. When Irréelle commits an unforgiveable mistake, she flees and sets off on an adventure that will challenge everything she knows and believes in. What strange magic created her? Can she become what she always wanted to be?

Now, where to start?

I adored The Bone Garden by Heather Kassner; from the setting to detail to the characters – everything was a blend of lyrical spookiness that kept me enchanted until the very end.

The setting shifted between three main places: the house, underneath the house (the tunnels), and the graveyard. Set with a Victorian vibe, no place lacked in visual and sensory detail. I was able to creep along the tunnels with Irréelle, or wander aimlessly through the quiet graveyard. At the house I desperately wanted to sit in “the chair” and yet knew I wasn’t able to – just like Irréelle.

As for characters, Irréelle was wonderfully complex for being so young. Her thoughts were developed, as were emotions, and yet she fit exactly in her estimated age range. She worried about pleasing her parental figure. She longed to find her place. She desired understanding of things that were just out of reach. She hated getting reprimanded. Her bones creaked, her physical makeup was odd and strange. She looked ethereal. She wanted a friend to cure the loneliness. And so on.

Then there was Guy, Lass, The Hand, the watchman, N.M.H., and Miss Vesper. Each again were complex in their own right with their own contributions to the story weaving together simultaneously while staying true to themselves.

When the ending occurred… well you’ll just have to read the story yourself.

 

Rating: The Bone Garden 5/5 stars.

Tour & Review: Through the White Wood

Blog Tour, Book Reviews

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Through the White Wood
By Jessica Leake
Young Adult Historical Fantasy
Hardcover & ebook, 416 Pages
April 9th 2019 by HarperTeen

The Bear and the Nightingale meets Frostblood in this romantic historical fantasy from the author of Beyond a Darkened Shore.

When Katya loses control of her power to freeze, her villagers banish her to the palace of the terrifying Prince Sasha in Kiev.

Expecting punishment, she is surprised to find instead that Sasha is just like her—with the ability to summon fire. Sasha offers Katya friendship and the chance to embrace her power rather than fear it.

But outside the walls of Kiev, Sasha’s enemies are organizing an army of people bent on taking over the entire world.

Together, Katya’s and Sasha’s powers are a fearsome weapon. But as their enemies draw nearer, will fire and frost be enough to save the world? Or will Katya and Sasha lose everything they hold dear?

Inspired by Russian mythology, this lushly romantic, intensely imaginative, and fiercely dramatic story is about learning to fight for yourself, even when the world is falling down around you.

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Other Books in the Series

Beyond a Darkened Shore

By Jessica Leake

Young Adult Historical Fantasy

Hardcover & ebook, 384 Pages

April 10th 2018 by HarperTeen

The ancient land of Éirinn is mired in war. Ciara, princess of Mide, has never known a time when Éirinn’s kingdoms were not battling for power, or Northmen were not plundering their shores.

The people of Mide have always been safe because of Ciara’s unearthly ability to control her enemies’ minds and actions. But lately a mysterious crow has been appearing to Ciara, whispering warnings of an even darker threat. Although her clansmen dismiss her visions as pagan nonsense, Ciara fears this coming evil will destroy not just Éirinn but the entire world.

Then the crow leads Ciara to Leif, a young Northman leader. Leif should be Ciara’s enemy, but when Ciara discovers that he, too, shares her prophetic visions, she knows he’s something more. Leif is mounting an impressive army, and with Ciara’s strength in battle, the two might have a chance to save their world.

With evil rising around them, they’ll do what it takes to defend the land they love…even if it means making the greatest sacrifice of all.

Praise for the Book

Beyond a Darkened Shore is thrilling and romantic. This is a must-read for lovers of fantasy, mythology, and folklore.” – Kody Keplinger, New York Times bestselling author of The DUFF and Run

“With undead armies, flesh-eating spirit horses, and a powerful heroine, fantasy, romance, and historical-fiction readers will have a great time.” – Booklist

“While Morrigan and Odin are terrifying, raven-haired Ciara is the star. Beautiful, strong, and independent, she is the perfect warrior princess. Epic historical fantasy filled with deadly creatures, simmering romance, and nonstop action.” – Kirkus Reviews

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Review

*** Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for a free, honest review. All opinions are my own. ***

 

“Remember, devotchka, sometimes the place we do not want to go is the best place for us after all.” – Jessica Leake, Through the White Wood

 

With a tagline like “The Bear and the Nightingale meets Frostblood” I couldn’t wait to dive in Leake’s latest novel and read it in a day.

Meet Katya who has the ice powers. When she loses control, she is banished by her small, rural village and sent to the Kiev prince to receive her punishment. The usual punishment for the crime she committed? Death. However when she gets there she finds a prince that perhaps isn’t as cruel as the rumors say and people like herself who have magical abilities. Faced with choices, will Katya make the right ones in time? Because the enemies of Kiev are coming…

Let’s start with the basics of: pacing, flow, and language. Admittedly I was a tad thrown by the incorporation of Russian at first. I wasn’t sure exactly what they were saying and didn’t discover the glossary until the end. It was a bit like a decipher game, but the use of the Russian dialect enhanced the story, make it more concrete for me. As for pacing and flow? Both were spot on and didn’t leave any room for slow hiccups. At times I wanted more description, more interaction, and yet enjoyed what tidbits I did get from the folklore incorporated. I wanted to be in that world. The weaving of history and folklore – brilliant! More please!

Now onto Katya herself. She was relatable, struggling with fear, grief, and self-doubt. A healer in training it would seem too. My only big issue with her was I felt she didn’t get the ending she deserved. I had expectations for her, just her and not the combination of her and Sasha, and unfortunately I was a bit disappointed with her ending (well half-ending, not the epilogue ending). We are in her thoughts for most of the book and yet she felt just a touch out of reach for me. On the flipside of this – some of her ancestry reveals? Yes! Her animal companion? I want one. It is a sign I should do falconry.

In relation to Katya, I adored Sasha. He was elusive, a bit standoffish, and a prince…while I could say he could’ve been strengthened with more development, I still couldn’t help but like him. What caused the war though? What was his deepest fears? Desires? So, like Katya, I wish some of his character story holes had been filled but his character still gave me the warm and fuzzies.

Overall, I rate this 3.5/5 stars. It is a read full of magic, romance, and friendships. I adored the folklore and just wanted more. I look forward to seeing what else Leake has in store.

 

About the Author

Jessica Leake is the author of Beyond a Darkened Shore as well as the adult novels Arcana and The Order of the Eternal Sun. She lives in South Carolina with her husband, four young children, lots of chickens, and two dogs who keep everyone in line. Visit her at www.jessicaleake.com.

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Tour Schedule

 

Tour Giveaway

2 winners will receive a copy of Through the White Wood (US only)
1 winner will receive a $25 Amazon eGift Card (open internationally)
Ends April 17th

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Blog Tour & Review: Wicked Saints

Blog Tour, Book Reviews
*** Disclaimers: I received an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. In regards to the book: trigger warnings of parental abuse and self-harm.***

 

“When the dust hit, it burst into flames.” – Emily A. Duncan, Wicked Saints

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Wicked Saints

By: Rae

 

As an aside: while there were many quotes in this book, I have them all bookmarked to adore later, I decided on this quote to open my review because – I’m still reeling.

Slavic folklore? Yes.

Untrustworthy / conflicted characters? Yes.

Darkness and magic? Yes.
Now onto a brief summary of the book.

As book one in the Something Dark and Holy trilogy, readers are introduced to three characters: Nadya, the Kalyazi cleric who can communicate with all the gods and is looked as the savior of her people. Serefin is he High prince of Tranavia who is a powerful blood mage sent to the battles fields by his power-hungry father. And the enigma, Malachiasz, who is a defector from a faction in Transavia that I cannot say without giving away a spoiler. These three cross paths to come together to “assassinate a king and stop a war.” A war that I might add has been going on for centuries and nearly decimated both sides. The people are starving, beaten, and hope is fading.

Wicked Saints was my most anticipated books of 2019 and let me tell you, it was intense. While some aspects of the book – a transition hiccup here or there or a stilted character development  – I adore this story. What did it for me? The characters. The blood magic. The emotion…

Every character was stuck in this moral gray area seemed to suffer from this internal angst. Do I do this or this? Why am I fighting? What am I fighting for? Originally I had worried some characters would be reduced to their part, such as “the foil” or “the love interest.” But while some had some specific roles to play, each was guided by their own moral compasses, from side characters such as Rashid, Parijahan, and Ostyia to the big three and each and every character had their own story, personality, hopes, fears. I continue to think of them and wonder at what they will become as the story continues. Even the gods had personalities (though some were one dimensional).

Perhaps the only one I had trouble connecting with at times was Nadya. She felt a little stifled at times, maybe even displaced in her own POV, and yet the more I reflect on her, the more I can accept. She was raised to believe she had one purpose, one role, and followed strict guidelines that shaped her believes and emotions until all of that was turned upside down and she was forced to make her own decisions while the familiar comforts of friends and a home were stripped away. It will take her a bit but I have hope.

Overall, I could continue with a fangirling session on Serefin and Malachiasz – taking apart what I liked and didn’t like and how much I wanted to give them a hug. I could then swoon further on the mixture of magic and religion into something dark and twisted yet consuming… using blood for spell casting…

But I’ll let you decide because in this book – right and wrong, lies and truths, create a world where anything could happen.

I give Wicked Saints 5/5 stars.

 

Click here to check out the excerpt and information post for Wicked Saints!