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

Wicked Saints_Cover FINAL

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 & Excerpt: Wicked Saints

Blog Tour, Misc.

Wicked Saints_Cover FINAL.jpgAbout the book:
When Nadya prays to the gods, they listen, and magic flows through her veins. For nearly a century the Kalyazi have been locked in a deadly holy war with Tranavian heretics, and her power is the only thing that is a match for the enemy’s blood magic. But when the Travanian High Prince, and his army invade the monastery she is hiding in, instead of saving her people, Nadya is forced to flee the only home she’s ever known, leaving it in flames behind her, and vengeance in her heart.

As night falls, she chooses to defy her gods and forge a dangerous alliance with a pair of refugees and their Tranavian blood mage leader, a beautiful, broken boy who deserted his homeland after witnessing his blood cult commit unthinkable monstrosities. The plan? Assassinate the king and stop the war.

But when they discover a nefarious conspiracy that goes beyond their two countries, everything Nadya be

lieves is thrown into question, including her budding feelings for her new partner. Someone has been harvesting blood mages for a dark purpose, experimenting with combining Tranavian blood magic with the Kalyazi’s divine one. In order to save her people, Nadya must now decide whether to trust the High Prince – her country’s enemy – or the beautiful boy with powers that may ignite something far worse than the war they’re trying to end.

BUY LINK: https://static.macmillan.com/static/smp/wicked-saints/

 

Advanced Praise for WICKED SAINTS:


“Prepare for a snow frosted, blood drenched fairy tale where the monsters steal your heart and love ends up being the nightmare. Utterly absorbing.”

Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen 

“Full of blood and monsters and magic—this book destroyed me and I adored it. Emily is a wicked storyteller, she’s not afraid to hurt her characters or her readers. If you’ve ever fallen in love with a villain you will fall hard for this book.”

Stephanie Garber, New York Times bestselling author of Caraval

 

Excerpt – Chapter 4

N A DE Z H D A

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

 

Its 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 refused 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, My- esta. 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 im- possible to forget just who had chosen her for this fate: Mar- zenya, 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.

 

Emily A. Duncan.jpegAbout 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.

 

Social Links:

Website: https://eaduncan.com/
Twitter: @glitzandshadows
Instagram: @glitzandshadows
Tumblr: http://glitzandshadows.tumblr.com/

 

Click here to read my review for Wicked Saints!

***Note: My review will be live at 12:30PM, EST today!

Santa Muerte Blog Tour

Blog Tour

santa muerte.jpgSanta Muerte
by Lucina Stone
Genre: NA Folklore/Sci-fi
Release Date: January 11th 2016

Summary from Goodreads:

Lucina Stone blends Mexican folklore with modern technology and time travel in this seductive new series where the lines between right and wrong, protagonist and antagonist, truth and fiction, love and lust, and life and death have never been more blurred.

THE YEAR IS 2030. IN A DRAMATIC, final attempt to free her inner demons, twenty-year-old Daniela Delgado tempts fate and winds up on a strange farm in 1923. With an olive complexion due to her Mexican/Italian heritage and a fresh pixie cut, she is mistaken for a “boy of color.” Her only shot at survival now is to play it cool, pose as “Danny,” and figure out how to get back home to her two, loving moms.

And then she meets Daphne—an abused, motherless farm girl in desperate need of freedom and a friend. Having escaped Daphne’s father, the two of them are now roaming the streets of New York City disguised as a young aristocrat and her male servant. They’re running out of money, and ideas. And Daniela thought living in 2030 was tough.

But her solar powered smart phone works. And there’s someone within range. She pings them. A selfie of an attractive male comes in with the text: I’m Lain. Who the f— are you? Even in that moment, Daniela knows this can’t be safe, but what are her choices? They meet Lain at a speakeasy on the Lower East Side. When Daniela reveals her last name, Lain says the only Delgado he knows is Anaya—the head of the Santa Muerte Coven of witches in Merida, Mexico. And then he hints that Daniela is a liar, even though she rocks a man’s three-piece suit like no woman he’s ever met. And as for her tattoos? Don’t get Lain started….

Despite the intrigue, Daniela adds Lain to the list of folks Daphne and she must outrun to stay alive. But as they plan their trip to Mexico, they soon discover that list is much longer than they thought. And they uncover a few other things, too, about Daniela’s true identity….

Add to Goodreads

Buy on Amazon!

lucina-stone-1.jpgAbout the Author

Stone, a Latina young adult book author from Morris County, New Jersey was the 2016 winner of two awards of the prestigious International Latino Book Awards for Best Sci/Fi novel and Best New Author. Santa Muerte- The Daniela Story (Story Merchant Books Press, 2016 release) tackles diversity in science fiction and fantasy by using folklore and culture.

Author Links:

Goodreads . Twitter . Facebook . Instagram . Pinterest

 

GIVEAWAY:

Enter to win a print copy on Goodreads!

 

Tour Schedule here.

In Partnership with YA Bound Book Tours

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Interview with Margaret Rogerson

Author Interview

Blogger Note: Hi everyone! I am super excited today to share with you my interview with An Enchantment of Ravens’ author Margaret Rogerson! *squeeeee*

 

authorphoto.jpgMeet Margaret Rogerson.

Margaret writes fantasy for young adult readers. Her books draw inspiration from old fairy tales, because she loves stories in which the beautiful and the unsettling are sometimes indistinguishable. She lives near Cincinnati, Ohio, and when she’s not reading or writing she enjoys drawing, watching documentaries, making pudding, gaming, and exploring the outdoors in search of toads and mushrooms. She studied anthropology at Miami University.

Author Links

Twitter
Tumblr
Instagram

Website

Now onto the interview!

What would you say is the main inspiration behind the creation of An Enchantment of Ravens?
An Enchantment of Ravens was primarily inspired by my love of folklore and my own background as a portrait artist.
How long has this tale been waiting to be written? That being said, how long did it take to write and edit?
Enchantment happened quickly; I had the idea for it while I was in the shower one morning, and by the time I got out of that shower, I had come up with most of the plot, setting, and characters. It took me about two weeks to write the outline, three and a half months to write the first draft, and another month and a half to edit it before I began submitting the manuscript to literary agents. Once a publisher accepted it, we edited it a little bit more—I think developmental edits took me about two weeks, and copyedits only a few days (the copyeditor did the hard part for me). However, many of those stages involved months of waiting in between. This is a little embarrassing to admit, but honestly, I couldn’t have written Enchantment so quickly had I not lost my day job and moved in with my parents! I try to make sure I tell people that because I don’t want other writers to compare their schedules to mine and feel bad. I had a LOT of free time, not to mention familial support. I wrote one book before Enchantment (another YA fantasy that’s now gathering dust on my hard drive), and it took me about a year and a half to finish while I was also working a full-time job.

Tell us about your journey from half feral child to author. How did it feel to get that acceptance email or call and later your first contract?
Ha! I see you’ve read the bio on my website. I’ve dreamed of becoming an author ever since I was a little girl running around in the woods eating bugs, but I never imagined it would be possible. Even after I’d finished Enchantment and started querying literary agents, it still didn’t feel possible. So the feeling of signing with my agent Sara was indescribable—part of me was convinced I’d hallucinated the entire thing. The publishing contract was a little easier to digest because I was already so dazed with happiness that nothing could have really surprised me at that point. For about a month straight, I walked around smiling and bumping into things.
How has your view of writing and reading changed as you went through the publishing of your debut novel?
Writing feels more like work now, but even before getting published, I had to learn how to treat writing like work; otherwise, I wouldn’t have had the discipline to finish a book. Reading is a bit different too, because I tend to read more critically now, picking apart the strategies that other authors use to achieve tension or foreshadowing, or how they construct a good action scene, that sort of thing. I read a lot more slowly than I used to.
How do you tackle world building and setting in An Enchantment of Ravens? Did you base the fae world off of your desire to live in a forest that has a touch of witchery?
The fairy world was definitely inspired by my love of nature, especially the autumnlands, since fall is my favorite season. There’s just something special about the forest during fall: whimsical, enchanting, a little bit haunted, with those rainy, misty evenings that make it easy to imagine a sinister presence slumbering beneath the fallen leaves… Interestingly I came up with a lot of the fairy court-related worldbuilding several years before I wrote Enchantment, for a personal RPG-type project I created for some friends. Needless to say, I’m a huge nerd! My friends enjoyed picking out details they recognized when they read the book for the first time.
What challenges did you face while incorporating the themes of sorrow and mortality in your world?
Great question! In Enchantment, I wanted to convey the idea that mortality and the ability to feel emotion and create art are profoundly intertwined. Because the fair folk are immortal, they have a certain hollowness to them, a desperate, horrible emptiness that drives them to crave human Craft in the hope and fear it will make them feel something genuine. It was a little challenging creating a wide range of fair folk characters who all possessed that shallow emotional range while also giving them distinct personalities. But it was a fun challenge, and I really enjoyed writing side characters like Lark, Hemlock, and Aster—and especially Gadfly.
What is something you want your readers to take away from An Enchantment of Ravens?
Enchantment has some stuff to say about art and love, about the value of mortality and the importance of staying true to oneself no matter what, but in the end I’m not sure it matters whether readers take any messages away from the book. I’d much rather it simply make someone happy on a chilly night, preferably with a mug of hot chocolate and a crackling fire.
Is there anything else you want to share?
Sometimes people get confused by the title when they hear it out loud, and mistake it for “An Enchantment of Raisins.”
Congrats on the your debut novel release!
Thank you so much for featuring me on your blog, Rae!

Happy Release Day An Enchantment of Ravens!

Go get your copy ASAP!

enchantment of ravens.jpg

Excerpt of Henry Hunter and the Beast of Snagov

Blog Blitz, Misc., Spotlight Tour

Henry Hunter.jpgHENRY HUNTER AND THE BEAST OF SNAGOV: THE HENRY HUNTER SERIES #1

By John Matthews

Published on: 9/20/16

For: ages 8–12

Summary: Adolphus Pringle lived a relatively normal life before he met Henry Hunter, but being the best friend of a twelve-year-old millionaire genius certainly makes life interesting. He has accompanied Henry on adventures all over the world and encountered dozens of supernatural creatures. Henry has a penchant for paranormal mysteries, and he never fails to drag his trusty sidekick, Dolf, into adventures to track down the truth in these mystical legends.

Henry announces one morning that he and Dolf are going to go in search of a creature more terrifying than Dracula himself: the Beast of Snagov. The pair of supernatural investigators travel from where Bram Stoker stayed in Whitby to Transylvania. Along the way they come across some strange things such as Dracula’s daughter, Bella, and an organization called the Order of the Dragon that wants to sacrifice Henry Hunter to the Beast of Snagov. When Henry is taken, it’s up to Dolf and Bella to team up and rescue him!

Will Henry survive this supernatural adventure? Get ready to discover the world of the supernatural through the eyes of our spooked narrator as he tags along on the first adventure in the Henry Hunter series!

An intriguing combination of Indiana Jones meets Sherlock Holmes, the Henry Hunter Series is the perfect middle-grade read for all young adventures looking for a bit of supernatural excitement in their lives!

Meet the Author

John Matthews is an historian, folklorist, and author. He has produced more than ninety books on Arthurian legends and grail studies. He has devoted much of the past thirty years to the study of Arthurian traditions and myth in general. He lives in Oxford, England

 

Excerpt:

Prologue
HOW I MET HENRY HUNTER

The first time I saw Henry Hunter he was hanging by his fingertips from the windowsill of the principal’s office.
He looked down as I walked past, fixing me with his large, slightly protuberant blue eyes and said, “Could you spare a moment, old chap?”
(Yes, he really does talk like that.)
I wasn’t really sure whether to answer or just ignore the boy dangling from the window. You see, I hadn’t been at St. Grimbold’s School for Extraordinary Boys very long, and wasn’t sure of the protocol in such an event. But he did look as though he might fall at any moment.
“Um, can I help?” I asked.
“Well, could you be a good fellow and fetch the ladder from the gardener’s shed?” said Henry, beaming at me.
The gardener’s shed was just a short walk away, but since the situation seemed to call for it I ran all the way there and back. I leaned the ladder against the wall, angling it close enough for Henry to reach with his feet and climb down.
“Thanks!” he said rather breathlessly. Then he nodded towards the window of the principal’s office and added, “You might be better off not hanging around here for a while.”
“Okay . . . right . . . thanks,” I said, wondering what I was thanking him for. I found myself following Henry as he walked quickly away across the playing fields. He headed towards the elm trees that lined the drive up to the imposing cast iron school gates.
I caught up with Henry and noticed he had a bundle of bright green cloth tucked into the front of his school blazer.
“So—um—what were you doing up there, anyway?” I ventured. I didn’t normally ask such direct questions, but somehow I knew the answer would be too intriguing to ignore.
Henry turned his bright blue eyes on me. “I’m not sure you’d believe me if I told you,” he said.
“Try me,” I answered. I was becoming intrigued by Henry’s odd behavior and the way he spoke.
“Okay,” said Henry. He looked around to make sure no one was watching, then
pulled the mysterious bundle from his jacket, unwrapping the fabric at the edge for me to see what was inside. It looked a bit like a flute—but not the kind likely to be played in a school orchestra. This one was elaborately carved out of what looked like old bone (not, I hoped, human—but you never know).
I didn’t know what to say. “I-I’ve never seen anything like it before!” I stuttered.
“That’s not surprising,” said Henry, pushing back his slightly floppy hair, “because it’s one of a kind. Anyone who listens to it has to do whatever the person blowing it says! I didn’t think it was the sort of thing Dr. Hossenfeffer should be in charge of.”
There it was. The sort of casual remark I became very familiar with as I got to know Henry Hunter better. The sort that showed that he, a twelve-year-old (even in a school for extraordinary boys), thought nothing of challenging the principal. I’d soon discover that it was the kind of thing Henry Hunter did all the time.
Henry explained that Dr. Hossenfeffer, the current headmaster of St. Grimbold’s, had stolen the strange flute from a passing Himalayan priest. I suspect his reason may have had something to do with trying to control a hundred and fifty unusual boys, but in any case Henry had decided it was far too powerful an object to be in the hands of an ordinary principal—especially one who was supposed to be looking after us. So he’d picked the lock of Professor Hossenfeffer’s study, cracked the seven codes required to open the principal’s lock box, taken the flute, and was just about to leave when he heard the old boy coming. That’s when he climbed out of the window and found he was stuck. I came along and the rest, as they say, is history.
After the whole dangling-from-the-window- ledge event Henry and I became best friends. Although I’m not quite sure why. Maybe it’s because every hero needs a sidekick—or at least someone to tell the story of their adventures. Since then, Henry has said to me on more than one occasion: “Every Sherlock Holmes needs his Watson, Dolf, and you are mine.”
I had at first thought this wasn’t very flattering—everyone knows Dr. Watson isn’t the sharpest knife in the box—but I soon came to realize that almost no one is as bright as Henry Hunter, so I decided I could live with the comparison.
A few days after the incident of the flute, Henry came up to me in the quad and said in his rather high and nasal voice, “You’re Adolphus Pringle, aren’t you?”
I nodded, a bit surprised he knew my name—I hadn’t mentioned it during the windowsill rescue. “I just wanted to thank you for helping me out of trouble the other day,” Henry said, flashing me a toothy grin.
“You’re welcome,” I told him. “It was no problem.”
Henry and I stood in the corner of the quad, quiet for a moment—one of those rather awkward silences that sometimes happen when no one can think of what to say next.
Then Henry grinned again and said, “Listen, I’m just off to look for this rare bug. Like to come along?”
Looking back, I don’t know whether he really wanted me to come along or if it was just something to say, but that didn’t occur to me then and I jumped at the opportunity of doing something other than school lessons or homework. Of course he neglected to tell me that the bug he was looking for was a foot long and only found in the jungles of Africa, but that was Henry for you. I also didn’t know he’d charted a Learjet, hired some local natives as guides, and that he was carrying a $30,000 video camera with which he intended to capture it on film.
As we tore through the skies at 50,000 feet in the Learjet, Henry explained that everything strange about his life began with his name. Having the surname Hunter got him interested in hunting for things—but not for just anything, like a great new sandwich or a book by his favorite author—but BIG THINGS, like legendary creatures and items that no one believed in, such as aliens, the yeti, the Holy Grail, mummies, and the crown of Alexander the Great. At first it meant looking stuff up in books (Henry always did that instead of using the Internet—which he said made you lazy) but in time he graduated to mounting actual expeditions in search of particular things.
He could afford to do this and things like hiring the Lear, because his parents were rich— his dad had, years ago, invented the Cronos microchip, which revolutionized the gaming industry by making it possible for gamers to interact with their favorite characters more closely than ever before. Then he’d created the Cronopticon (voted Best Games Machine Ever for several years running) and after that the Cronopticon 2, the Cronopticon Gigantic and the Cronopticon Mini—until just about everyone in the world owned one of his consoles. His dad was clever—but not as clever as Henry who, by the time he was ten, had degrees in subjects most people have never even heard of. Astrophysics, lepidoptera, and callisthenics
are some of the ones I can remember.
Henry also told me that he could disappear on adventures like this because his parents weren’t around. His mother had suddenly got a bad attack of responsibility and decided that she and her husband should put their billions to good use. They were off in search of a particularly rare orchid, which it was rumored could cure half the diseases in the world. At first they came home every month or so to see Henry, but after a bit all he saw of them was an occasional email and a video call on his birthday and Christmas.
So that was how Henry had ended up at St. Grimbold’s, which may sound a bit tough on him, but he said he liked having parents who were off doing something useful and exciting—and it meant he had the kind of freedom no one gets when they’re twelve.
I didn’t have much of an opportunity to tell Henry about my background. Which is just as well, because I’m not super bright, and I don’t have an upper-class accent or designer clothes or any of that stuff. I just happen not to fit too well in the kind of school that insists on homework, the right kind of gym bag, and shirts properly tucked in. My last principal told me, “Pringle, you have an overactive imagination. It is not welcome here.” Luckily St. Grimbold’s has a trust fund to offer scholarships to kids like me, who are reasonably smart but whose parents are anything but rich, to get “a proper education,” as my dad calls it.
The Hunters were another matter; they forked over a pretty hefty sum to get Henry into St. Grimbold’s, and they made it pretty easy for Henry to indulge in his hobby.
Hunting.
You name it: Henry hunted it.
And most of the time, I was with him.
The rare bug adventure was actually pretty ordinary compared to some we’ve had since, though we did encounter a group of hunters who were just as keen as Henry to find the bug, and who were prepared to do anything to stop us. But, thanks to Henry’s amazing skill and encyclopedic knowledge of lepidoptera, we managed to escape, and film the giant bug, without getting killed. But that’s a story for another time.
For now, I want to start with a different adventure, one that’s more important for you to know about. A story that still gives me goosebumps. Not The Story of the Great Lizard of Jambalaya, or The Adventure of The Curried Frogs. It’s one from Henry’s files, an adventure that I think might contain some vital clues about Henry that I need rather badly. Of course I was there, so I know what happened, but, dear reader, I need your help.
So please keep your eyes peeled, your ear to the ground, your mouth wide. Because this is the first of . . .

THE HENRY HUNTER FILES:
The Beast of Snagov

.