Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Breath of Fire by Amanda Bouchet - Review

SHE'S DESTINED TO DESTROY THE WORLD... 

"Cat" Catalia Fisa has been running from her destiny since she could crawl. But now, her newfound loved ones are caught between the shadow of Cat's tortured past and the threat of her world-shattering future. So what's a girl to do when she knows it's her fate to be the harbinger of doom? Everything in her power.

BUT NOT IF SHE CAN HELP IT

Griffin knows Cat is destined to change the world-for the better. As the realms are descending into all-out war, Cat and Griffin must embrace their fate together. Gods willing, they will emerge side-by-side in the heart of their future kingdom...or not at all.





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Everything is picking up in Amanda Bouchet's fantastic world so get ready! I also have my former job to thank for this copy of the book.

So we return to Cat and Griffin as they try to figure out how they are going to save the world. I loved how much Cat has changed since the first book, how she's opened her heart to not only Griffin but his family and her new friends. With this growing family, however, comes fear and doubt about Cat's choices, for now she has something to lose. I loved seeing her development, seeing her realize that the reasons she fights (and has fought) isn't out of selfishness but rather her ability to love and care. She is such a strong, complex character (and that's not even counting her magical abilities) and it's great to watch her grow as she conquers these huge obstacles.

You get a larger sense of the world in Breath of Fire, traveling through Fisa and the Ice Plains and meeting more magical creatures, such as the centaur-like Ipotane. The Greek gods also come into play, revealing more about Cat's destiny but also adding great characters to the story. The action is ramping up and the political tensions are on the rise.

The intricacies of the world and magic system becomes more developed, as does Cat's relationship with Griffin. Their chemistry is still amazing, but even more than that they are learning more and more about each other and becoming amazing supporters of one another. They are both so intelligent and brave and the way they not only match each other but push each other makes for a great romance and relationship in an already great fantasy world.

While readers may get a sense that this book is set up for the finale, it is still a unique part of the series that stands firmly on its own. I liked the expansion of the world and Cat's character. You learn so much more about what is in store for Cat. Her relationship with Griffin, his family, and her team also develops so much in this book. Sequels can sometimes lag, but not this one  - it is filled with the same snark and romance and even more action and magic.

And the last book is out next month, so you don't have to wait too long to know what will happen!

Find out more about Amanda Bouchet and her books here: http://amandabouchet.com

Visit the website for the Kingmaker Chronicles here: https://kingmakerchronicles.com

Amanda Bouchet grew up in New England where she spent much of her time tromping around in the woods and making up grand adventures in her head. It was inevitable that one day she would start writing them down. Drawing on her Greek heritage for the setting and on her love of all things daring and romantic for the rest, her debut trilogy, The Kingmaker Chronicles, took form. She writes what she loves to read: epic exploits, steamy romance, and characters that make you laugh and cry.

Her first novel, A Promise of Fire, won several Romance Writers of America chapter contests, including the Orange Rose Contest and the paranormal category of the prestigious Golden Pen.

A French master's graduate and former English teacher, Amanda lives in Paris, France. She met her husband while studying abroad, and the family now includes two bilingual children who will soon be correcting her French.

You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter. For updates and exclusives, sign up for Amanda's newsletter (you can easily unsubscribe at any time).

Happy Reading!

Jasmine

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden - Review

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingalecontinues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.


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Hey guys! Long time no see. Today I have a review for The Girl in the Tower, the sequel to one of my favorite books I read in 2017, The Bear and the Nightingale (you can read my review here!). 

The Girl in the Tower starts shortly after The Bear and the Nightingale, though the focus is very much on Vasya as a young woman and what she wants out of life rather than the story behind her gifts of seeing spirits, which is a large part of the first book. Here we really get to see her take charge of her destiny after the traumatic events of her past.

One of the most interesting things about this book is how different Vasya is from the first, and how much she changes even in this story. She is more sure of her abilities and isn't afraid to use them to protect her siblings and those she loves (even when sometimes those people may not it). Vasya spends much of this book disguised as a boy and the freedom and confidence it gives her makes an interesting commentary about the social constructs of the time, especially since what makes Vasya rebel and run away in the first place is the idea of the convent or marriage. 

If I'm being honest, I personally liked the setting and environment in the first book a little better than in this book. The eeriness of the forest and the bitter cold and Vasya's home was a more unique setting than Moscow, at least for me. That being said, the vastly different setting makes for a really fresh story with so many new details. The cast expands with great secondary characters, all orbiting Vasya as she navigates the new world of court life and her place within it, as a woman, a sister, and a witch. I thought that sometimes the plot lagged a little but Vasya is a strong enough character to quickly pull me through. I was also put on an emotional rollercoaster with Vasya and Morozco *swoon*. In the end I really liked the way their relationship grew but I can not wait until the last book to see what's going to happen. 

The dangers being slightly more human in nature, though no less threatening. Seeing how Vasya takes them all head on, despite the doubts and limitations placed on her by society, is exciting and inspiring. I highly recommend this series if you liked The Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo. The writing is dark and lyrical, the world more like a vibrant Russian fairy tale. Much like a Russian winter, Vasya's story is unpredictable and dangerous but also beautiful and magical. 
** I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks Random House/Ballantine! **
Find out more about Katherine and her book here: http://www.katherinearden.com

Born in Austin, Texas, Katherine Arden spent a year of high school in Rennes, France. Following her acceptance to Middlebury College in Vermont, she deferred enrollment for a year in order to live and study in Moscow. At Middlebury, she specialized in French and Russian literature. After receiving her BA, she moved to Maui, Hawaii, working every kind of odd job imaginable, from grant writing and making crêpes to guiding horse trips. Currently she lives in Vermont, but really, you never know.

Happy Reading!

Jasmine

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet - Review

Catalia "Cat" Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice…

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he's ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.






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Phew guys. This review has been a long time coming. I'm not sure what took me so long, other than the fact that it's hard to think of words when you love something so much? But anyway, here is me trying to explain why love this series so much and why you should go out and read it immediately. I'm posting the review for each of the three books each month until January 2, when the third and final book releases (so you have plenty of time to binge the other two). 

I managed to snag an advanced copy of this book at work right before Thanksgiving, and then proceeded to finish it during the ride to my grandma's house, after dinner, and the ride home. It follows Cat, a feisty, sarcastic, head-strong young woman who is hiding from her past. After meeting Griffin, the newly crowned leader of a neighboring land, everything changes. 

The magic system in the world is great. It plays off of Greek mythology and yet has a really refreshing and unique feel to it. While the gods meddle and still have a sway over people's actions and beliefs, other elemental powers come into play with the Magoi (those who can use magic) and the Hoi Polloi (those without). So already you have those tensions, not to mention the politics, and the rising tensions between what Cat is running from and what she ends up running toward. 

Griffin's kingdom and the land of Sinta is so vibrant and interesting. And then there's Griffin, who is just as stubborn and headstrong and amazing as Cat. I thought their banter and relationship was hilarious and touching and very genuine. Their dialogue and the growth in their relationship was a joy to read and while there are sparks and hints throughout, I loved the way they changed throughout the story. 

I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll just say that fans of Throne of Glass will absolutely love this book. While the world is completely different and original, Cat is such a great female character with a hidden past and a destiny that isn't all her own. Along with Griffin, there is an amazing cast of characters that all have their backstories and personalities, helping create a well-developed, complex, vibrant world. Full of action, magic, and romance, Promise of Fire is a stellar debut and a fantastic start to the series. 

Find out more about Amanda Bouchet and her books here: http://amandabouchet.com

Visit the website for the Kingmaker Chronicles here: https://kingmakerchronicles.com

Amanda Bouchet grew up in New England where she spent much of her time tromping around in the woods and making up grand adventures in her head. It was inevitable that one day she would start writing them down. Drawing on her Greek heritage for the setting and on her love of all things daring and romantic for the rest, her debut trilogy, The Kingmaker Chronicles, took form. She writes what she loves to read: epic exploits, steamy romance, and characters that make you laugh and cry.

Her first novel, A Promise of Fire, won several Romance Writers of America chapter contests, including the Orange Rose Contest and the paranormal category of the prestigious Golden Pen.

A French master's graduate and former English teacher, Amanda lives in Paris, France. She met her husband while studying abroad, and the family now includes two bilingual children who will soon be correcting her French.

You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter. For updates and exclusives, sign up for Amanda's newsletter (you can easily unsubscribe at any time).

Happy Reading!

Jasmine


Monday, September 18, 2017

Royal Attraction by Tiffany Truitt - Release Day Review

Alexandra Ryans’s life has been anything but normal. Some might even call it a fairy tale. As the daughter of the former U.S. ambassador to England, she grew up within the palace walls, best friends with the three young princes. Adored by the press and the British people. What more could a girl want?

If only the press knew the real story behind her relationships with the Dudley boys. Then, they’d really sell some papers.

Oliver Dudley, youngest son and third in line for the throne, loves everything about his life. The fame. The parties. The women. The utter lack of expectations and responsibilities that come with being last in the line of succession. But while the world thinks he has everything he wants, there's one thing he was never able to call his own—the beautiful and spunky American Aly Ryans. But how can he convince her when she hates everything about his life? And what is he willing to give up to get her?


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Royal Attraction is the perfect book for someone who loves royal romances but is looking for something a little different. Alexandra's relationship with the Dudley brothers is a really different take on the traditional tropes, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Let's start with Alex. I loved her character, mostly because she is incredibly flawed. She is haunted by her past mistakes and feels inadequate not because of her looks or anything but because she has a learning disability and I really appreciated that part of her. I liked the solace and friendship she has with the male characters in this story, like if they were the boys next door - except they are princes. The voice is hilarious and fraught with doubts and I enjoyed getting a look inside her mind.

Then there's Ollie. Oh, how I love Ollie. I love him more because he is like the boy next door, her best friend, and a prince, all in one. The way that he is portrayed as the playboy but not in a super vulgar way is refreshing. I liked that he struggles with the pressure of being a prince and being the younger brother, and why he does the things he does. I liked that the fact that he is a prince is also not really the main point, but rather a part of his internal and external conflicts. It's more focused on young adults coming-of-age than anything, with the added pressure of royal obligations.

This story is all about relationships, romantic or otherwise, and I thought they were all incredibly well-developed and adorable and great. The flashbacks to when they were children, then teenagers, did a lot to build upon a familial relationship that you immediately believe once Alex reunites with the Dudley brothers. The way the characters grow in the flashbacks, and then the way they grow in the present, is fantastic, and I think adds a depth that is sometimes lacking in other royal romance stories. You are really invested in these character's pasts and growth and friendships and just want them all to be happy.

Royal Attraction was an incredibly refreshing, romantic, hilarious story, with well-developed and believable characters that I fell in love with.
** I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review **
Learn more about the author and her books here: https://www.facebook.com/authortiffanytruitt/

Tiffany Truitt lives with her Netflix and junk food in Virginia. She is a graduate from Longwood University with a Masters in Literature from Old Dominion University. Previously she has worked in the realm of Young Adult literature having written The Lost Souls Series, Because You Exist, and The Language of Silence.

Happy Reading!

Jasmine 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Fraternize by Rachel Van Dyken - Release Day Review

Emerson just made her dream come true as a professional cheerleader for her favorite pro football team. But even though the plus-size athlete is breaking down boundaries, she still has to contend with the massive rulebook. Carbs? Nope. Chocolate? Definitely not. Still, Emerson loves her curves, and she’ll rock the hell out of this job even if it kills her. Except for one mandate that is easier read than done…

No fraternizing with the players.

Problem one is Miller Quinton: Emerson’s first love, first sex, and the guy who still ignites her daydreams and R-rated fantasies. Thrown back together, Miller and Emerson feel the undeniable pull of passion again, even if the conflict that tore them apart seems insurmountable. Then there’s way-too-sexy Grant Sanchez. He has a serious reputation with the ladies, and when it comes to winning someone he wants, he doesn’t let anyone stand in his way.

Now Emerson is breaking every rule in the manual. But what she doesn’t know is that she’s part of a wicked little game—one that could steal both her dream and her heart.

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Fraternize is a great combination of a lot of things readers look for in romance  - love lost, love triangles, sassy female heroines, sports, and sexy times. However, it is unique in so many ways that it was a new and great reading experience, a refreshing new take on a sports romance!

I loved Emerson, and that she was insecure about her body but continued to pursue her passions until she made her dream come true. Despite these insecurities, she is such a sassy and strong female character. She is constantly battling between what happened in her past and what she wants for the future, and I thoroughly enjoyed following her on her journey. I thought that it approached Emerson's insecurities in a realistic way and I personally enjoyed that nutrition and realistic body image was a main part of the story. 

The real star of this book, what makes it great and makes it different, is the way the love triangle functions. Miller is Em's past love and she's never forgotten him, much like he's never forgotten her. They love each other as much as they hate each other, from things left unsaid, but the flashbacks of their relationship in high school are fan-tas-tic. I loved them so much (they are so cute, you guys). On the other hand, Sanchez is a completely different animal than Miller, and I loved, loved, loved the way he and the older Emerson interact. They become friends first, but friends in a different way than you do when you are a teenager, and I never thought that they book would take the path it did. The way all the relationships in this book develop, between Em and Sanchez, Em and Miller, and Miller and Sanchez, are all great and really make this book unique and special.

The chemistry is off the charts. The dialogue is hilarious and heartbreaking. And the characters will never cease to surprise you as they figure out what truly matters. A fun, unique sports romance.
** I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review **
Check out more about Rachel Van Dyken and her books here: http://rachelvandykenauthor.com

Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she's not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!

Happy Reading!

Jasmine

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson - Early Review

Release Date: September 26, 2017

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized among them. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes – a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love, violating the fair folks’ ruthless Good Law. There's only one way to save both their lives, Isobel must drink from the Green Well, whose water will transform her into a fair one—at the cost of her Craft, for immortality is as stagnant as it is timeless.

Isobel has a choice: she can sacrifice her art for a future, or arm herself with paint and canvas against the ancient power of the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

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So I went to ComicCon International in San Diego in July and rushed to the Simon & Schuster booth to ask about this book (because faeries, duh) but I wasn't able to attend the day they were giving them away. HOWEVER, the awesome people there told me to email them and very kindly sent me a copy!

An Enchantment of Ravens follows Isobel, a gifted painter in a world where the powerful, i.e. the Fae, are unable to actually create things. The people in the town of Whimsy use their Craft to create things of beauty that the Fae from the World Beyond want, mostly to appease their vanity. When Isobel's gift reveals weaknesses in powerful Fae, including the Autumn Prince, Rook, she is taken into the World Beyond to face punishment. However, the Faery world is in chaos, and a little bit of humanity might be exactly what they need. 

I had such high expectations of this book, and in most ways it met them. I love the ethereal yet dark style that books about Fae usually have. The world that Margaret Rogerson has created has all that - a town on the border of magic that only experiences summer, beautiful and yet incredibly cruel creatures that come out of the forest to buy (and trick) humans into giving them what they want. Names and words mean everything and Isobel is incredibly adept at keeping herself and her family safe. I loved the idea of Craft, that things of beauty can only be made by people who can experience the full spectrum of feeling and emotion (which, arguably, most Fae cannot), that humans and these mythical creatures are inevitably tied together somehow. I liked Isobel and thought she was so intelligent and cunning and resourceful. I liked the development of Rook as he realizes that the thing that makes Isobel such a good artist (her ability to understand people) isn't a weakness, but something beautiful. 

There were also some things that didn't meet my expectations. I wished there to be more development between Isobel and Rook. While I was on board for their interactions and thought that the progression of their relationship made sense, I was left feeling like there could have been more depth and nuance to their changing feelings, especially considering the end. That being said, their chemistry was believable and you are rooting for them almost from the beginning. I also felt there was a strange balance of action and world building. I thought that the world was well developed and unique and that Isobel and Rook's journey had some great action scenes. However, a good part of the story also happens in the Faery court and it felt a little laggy to me. There were parts I liked there, such as going back to Craft and the price of immortality, and seeing Isobel become really strategic, but the story lost my attention at times. 

Overall, I loved the world and characters that Margaret Rogerson has created. I have been waiting for a haunting and lovely Fae story for a while and this totally met that need. I think the real strength of the story is Isobel (and Margaret's) experience with creation and art and the important place it has for people. An Enchantment of Ravens is a floaty and romantic story, with a resourceful, headstrong artist unafraid to use her passion for painting to save her family and the world she loves (no matter how messed up it may be). 

** I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks S&S! **
Check out more about Margaret Rogerson here: http://www.margaretrogerson.com

Margaret Rogerson has worked a variety of jobs ranging from canoe livery counter girl to graphic designer. 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. An Enchantment of Ravens is her debut novel. 

Happy Reading!

Jasmine

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Of Flame and Fate by Cecy Robson - Early Review

Release Date: September 26, 2017

Taran Wird, who commands the power to wield fire and lightning, is an oddity in the supernatural world. But neither Taran nor her unique sisters compare to the bizarre entity known as Destiny. And Taran is assigned to protect her.

Born of two witches, Destiny is revered among the supernatural elite for her acute ability to predict the future. Her biggest prophecy involves Taran’s sister, Celia, whom Destiny decreed will bear children strong enough to take on the evil that’s rising. Yet Destiny is not alone in her predictions, or individuality.

When Johnny Fate, a rock star among humans and a male version of Destiny is discovered, his powers and Destiny’s clash, triggering the start of Destiny’s demise and altering the fate of Celia’s unborn children.

Taran, her werewolf lover Gemini, and their allies must determine if it’s Fate who will decide what will become of Celia’s children, or if their lives and the world will perish with Destiny.

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Of Flame and Fate is 8th book in the Weird Girls series and the 3rd book focusing on Taran. It follows Taran Wird as she and her sisters try to protect their sister Celia and the world from impending magical doom (dun dun DUUUUNNNN). 

The strength of the whole series and Taran's books in particular is her voice. Sassy and hilarious, Taran makes for a great narrator. She is so focused on her mission of protecting her sister and in turn, saving the world. The stakes are raised in this book, and Taran's tone and her determination parallels the rising tensions among the supernatural community as things spiral out of control. Through it all, though, is Taran and Gemini's relationship. Sweet, supportive, and always amusing (because their personalities are polar opposites), it is the guiding light in a world of crazy. 

Cecy has set the groundwork for a complex supernatural world and conflict. With Fate and Destiny at odds (literally, as people with strong personalities to boot), the lore is deep and is only building with each book. As more and more is revealed, not only about Celia but about all the Wird sisters, readers can get more and more excited about where the story is going to go (and what the future holds, no matter which sister is your favorite!). 

The book starts off with an action packed battle scene, and while I think they are well written and pull you in immediately to not only the conflict but also Taran's personality, I wish there were a few more intimate moments between Taran and her sisters (and Gemini, though those aren't really lacking) and less non-stop running around. I liked the fact that more is revealed in this book, though I kind of wished that it was revealed more throughout, rather than a lot of it towards the end. It would have tied the story together a little bit between the fight scenes and the ensuing chaos. While I love this series, Celia is still my favorite, and I found myself skimming over some of the fight scenes and not missing any crucial information to look for the presence of the other Wird girls. 

Overall, Of Flame and Fate is a romping, action-packed, romantic story of Taran and her sisters. You have the read Taran's other books, Of Flame and Promise and Of Flame and Light to understand literally anything in this book. My review for Of Flame and Promise is here. I also highly recommend reading the first five books in the series that star Celia, Taran's sister! If you are looking for a well-written, exciting, humor-filled paranormal novel for the fall, this series and this book is just the ticket. 
** I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review **
Find out more about Cecy Robson and her books here: http://www.cecyrobson.com

Cecy (pronounced Sessy) Robson is the new adult and contemporary romance author of the Shattered Past series, the O’Brien Family novels and new Carolina Beach series, as well as the award-winning author of the Weird Girls urban fantasy romance series. A 2016 double nominated RITA® finalist for Once Pure and Once Kissed, Cecy is a recovering Jersey girl living in the South who enjoys carbs way too much, and exercise way too little. Gifted and cursed with an overactive imagination, you can typically find her on her laptop silencing the yappy characters in her head by telling their stories.

Happy Reading!

Jasmine