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.

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!

Blog Tour & Review: Enchantee

Blog Tour, Book Reviews, Misc.
*** Disclaimer: A digital ARC of this book was received in exchange for a free, honest review on this tour. All opinions are my own. ***

 

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“To try is to be brave. Be brave.” – Gita Trelease, Enchantée

 

Enchantee Review

By: Rae

Camille Durbonne is no stranger to sorrow. Her parents were killed by the pox; her brother a drunk that has lost touch with his humanity. France is on the cusp of a revolution and no one is safe.

Camille struggles to make ends meet while caring for her younger sister Sophie. Using a low level of magic known as the la magie ordinaire, Camille tricks shopkeepers with fake coins in order to obtain food and supplies to survive. When the situation spirals, Camille must go deeper into another level of magic, a forbidden one at that, to survive – yet at what cost?

I was swept away by the magic and intrigue of this illusional France. Magic was hiding just beneath the surface. Disguises were around ever corner. Sorrow breaths in the streets.

While everything burned and shimmered into fruition, the romance between Camille and Lazare is what kept me reading until the end. In fact, I adored Lazare, though frustrated with him at points, but he, among the other side characters, demanded I continue. His character enamored me with his beliefs, his passions, his joy and sorrow.

Overall, everything was there from the story, the characters, the intrigue, and the magic – yet it all fell a little flat. It was a slow burn that had me nodding at points but overly distracted and not satisfied. I wanted more drama, more action and felt a little jumbled in the court scenes. The scenes with the balloons and Lazare felt so real while the other parts seemed a bit stifled. When everything happened, the reveals and so forth, I wished for more magic, more spark of a lead up and finale.

Enchantée’s use of magic was woven into France’s history with such ease and really aided the story as it progressed, highlighting the possibilities of something more between the characters and the setting.

Upon further reflection, factoring in my adoration of Lazare and the romance of Enchantée, has me giving the novel a 3.5/5 rating. The potential is there among the magic in the pages.

 

Blog Tour Schedule Below.

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