A CONSTELLATION OF ROSES 🖤 REVIEW + GIVEAWAY

This book cover has all the vibes—and the inside is beautiful too. 

Thank you to the Fantastic Flying Book Club for giving me the opportunity to be on this tour.

Check out fan art and a sneak peak of the first chapter! And, of course, don’t miss the giveaway at the end of this post! ★

A Constellation of Roses
by Miranda Asebedo

Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: November 5, 2019
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

SYNOPSIS

book coverEver since her mother walked out, Trix McCabe has been determined to make it on her own. And with her near-magical gift for pulling valuables off unsuspecting strangers, Trix is confident she has what it takes to survive. Until she’s caught and given a choice: jail time, or go live with her long-lost family in the tiny town of Rocksaw, Kansas.

Trix doesn’t plan to stick around Rocksaw long, but there’s something special about her McCabe relatives that she is drawn to. Her aunt, Mia, bakes pies that seem to cure all ills. Her cousin, Ember, can tell a person’s deepest secret with the touch of a hand. And Trix’s great-aunt takes one look at Trix’s palm and tells her that if she doesn’t put down roots somewhere, she won’t have a future anywhere.

Before long, Trix feels like she might finally belong with this special group of women in this tiny town in Kansas. But when her past comes back to haunt her, she’ll have to decide whether to take a chance on this new life . . . or keep running from the one she’s always known.

With lovable and flawed characters, an evocative setting, and friendships to treasure, A Constellation of Roses is the perfect companion to Miranda Asebedo’s debut novel The Deepest Roots.

TRIGGER WARNINGS

  • adultery
  • abuse
  • suicide
  • depression

FAVORITE QUOTES

🖤 “Fortune telling isn’t a science. It’s an art. And sometimes art is messy.”

🖤 “Scars tell a story, even when we don’t want them to.”

🖤 “All I know is that it’s the good memories that cut the deepest, because those are the ones where you remember what you’ve lost.”

🖤 “I’ve been invisible for months at a time while I was drifting, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let someone make me feel that way on purpose.”

🖤 “I tug out the fountain pen from my pocket. On top of the first scar a few inches from the crook of my elbow, I draw a blooming rose, its petals black-tipped with ink. And then another, and another, until my arm is covered, and instead of a constellation of scars, I have a constellation of roses.”

🖤Yes, I have gotten what I always wanted. My deepest secrets. Not a perfect family, after all. But a constellation of women, connected by pie and fortunes and roses. And love.”

FAN ART

Photo Credit elvishness

FIRST CHAPTER

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

authorMiranda Asebedo was born and raised in rural Kansas with a love of fast cars, open skies, and books. She carried that love of books to college, where she got her B.A. and M.A. in English, with an emphasis in Creative Writing and Literature. A Seaton Fellowship recipient, her short fiction has appeared in Kansas Voices, Touchstone, and Midway Journal. 

Miranda still lives on the prairie today with her husband, two kids, and two majestic bulldogs named Princess Jellybean and Captain Jack Wobbles. If Miranda’s not writing or reading, she’s most likely convinced everyone to load up in the family muscle car and hit the road.

Check out Miranda on her website or over on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram!

BOOK LINKS

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository Barnes & Noble Kobo | iBooks | Google Books

GIVEAWAY

Enter the giveaway to win a copy of A Constellation of Roses!

  • International
  • End Date: November 19, 2019

BOOK TOUR

Check out the rest of the stops along this blog tour!

CORAL 🖤 REVIEW + GIVEAWAY

I love me a good fairytale retelling, especially when they involve mermaids. 🖤 (I skipped a lot through this book, though, because of trigger warnings—I’ve provided them in this post.)

Thank you to the Fantastic Flying Book Club for giving me the opportunity to be on this tour.

Don’t miss the giveaway at the end of this post! ✨

Coral by Sara Ella

Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: November 12, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings, Mermaids, Fairy Tales

SYNOPSIS

book coverMultiple award-winning young adult author Sara Ella reimagines The Little Mermaid in a powerful and unexpected way.

Sixteen-year-old mermaid Coral has always been different, standing out from her stoic sisters in a society where blending in is key. Worse yet, she fears she has been afflicted with the dreaded Disease. Said to be carried by humans, the Disease imposes emotions on its victims, causing them to commit unspeakable acts. The growing illness inside her, while terrifying, fascinates her very core. Where others see danger, Coral sees life. Could it be the colorless merfolk who are truly ill?

Above the sea, seventeen-year-old Brooke Jordan has nothing left to give. A homeless girl abandoned and forgotten, the only thing Brooke can rely on is the ocean. Her aching feet find refuge within the cool and comforting waves, while her broken heart grows harder with each passing day. When Brooke’s and Coral’s worlds collide, everything alters in an instant. From learning to stand alone, to discovering the strength it takes to rely on another, the girls find that living requires taking that first painful breath. Each must make sacrifices, and when it comes to finding true love? Let’s just say the boys in their lives must learn to swim if they’re ever going to survive the storms.

Battling the odds against them, the girls will do whatever it takes to survive. But what must end for love and life to finally begin?

Taking a new twist on Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved fairy tale, this modern-day story explores mental health from several perspectives, questioning what it means to be human in a world where humanity often seems lost.

FAVORITE QUOTES

🖤 “I am not nothing.”

🖤 “I helped you because that’s what you do when someone is in trouble. We’re both human. Both worth saving.”

🖤 “That’s the beauty of life, isn’t it? Every day is a new page, waiting to be written.”

Trigger Warnings

You can find Sara’s trigger warnings on this Goodreads comment.

Trigger Warning & A Note to My Readers:

(*You will find this note at the beginning of this book as well.*)

For my friends who have experienced trauma, a warning—this story may be triggering. I have done my best to approach the mental health topics addressed in this book in the most sensitive and caring way possible. But even all the research and sensitivity readers in the world would never make it so I could approach every aspect of mental health from every perspective. Your experience is unique to you.

Potential triggers include suicide, self-harm, emotional abuse, anxiety, depression, PTSD, eating disorders, and unwanted/non-consensual advances.

With that said, while some of what I have written comes from research and some from the caring eyes of sensitivity readers who have lived through many of these experiences, other pieces come from my own personal experience with emotional trauma. If you have lost a loved one, I’m with you. If you face depression or anxiety, my heart aches with you in a truly personal way. If you have ever felt misunderstood for these things or simply wanted to escape altogether—I understand.

For the girl who is not okay. For the boy who wonders if it will ever get better. This story is for you.

My hope is that Coral’s tale may be a small pinprick of light in your darkness—a reminder that you are seen. You are loved. You are not alone. You are not nothing, my friend. And neither am I.

Sincerely,

Sara Ella

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

AUTHOROnce upon a time, Sara Ella dreamed she would marry a prince and live in a Disney castle. Today, she spends her days throwing living room dance parties for her two princesses, raising her little prince to be a king, and conquering realms of her own imaginings. Oh, and her husband is definitely more swoon-worthy than any Prince Charming.

Sara’s UNBLEMISHED trilogy has received high praise and multiple awards, but none as rewarding as the love and support she receives from her readers every day. Her new story CORAL, a reimagining of THE LITTLE MERMAID, releases in the fall of 2019.

When she’s not on deadline, Sara Ella can most often be found fangirling on Twitter, Instagram, or her YouTube channel. She may or may not be obsessed with #Bookstagram, and she has a serious condition known as “Coffee Snob-itis.” She believes “Happily Ever After is Never Far Away.”

Check out Sara on her website or over on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram!

BOOK LINKS

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble Kobo | iBooks | Google Books

GIVEAWAY

Enter the giveaway to win a copy of Coral!

  • US only
  • End Date: November 28, 2019

BOOK TOUR

Check out the rest of the stops along this blog tour!

THE LIGHT AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD 🖤 Review

For this book blog tour, I’m participating in something I’ve never done: I’m reading and making notes (and drawings!) in a traveling ARC. Pictures soon to come! 🖤

Also, I read the e-ARC already and my review is below. As always, thank you to the Fantastic Flying Book Club for giving me the opportunity to be on this tour.

Don’t miss the giveaway at the end of this post! ✨

The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah

SYNOPSIS

My Cover High Res!Hope had abandoned them to the wrath of all the waters.

At the end of the twenty-first century, the world has changed dramatically, but life continues one thousand feet below the ocean’s surface. In Great Britain, sea creatures swim among the ruins of Big Ben and the Tower of London, and citizens waver between fear and hope; fear of what lurks in the abyss, and hope that humanity will soon discover a way to reclaim the Earth.

Meanwhile, sixteen-year-old Leyla McQueen has her own problems to deal with. Her father’s been arrested, accused of taking advantage of victims of the Seasickness—a debilitating malaise that consumes people, often claiming their lives. But Leyla knows he’s innocent, and all she’s interested in is getting him back so that their lives can return to normal.

When she’s picked to race in the action-packed London Submersible Marathon, Leyla gets the chance to secure his freedom; the Prime Minister promises the champion whatever their heart desires. The race takes an unexpected turn, though, and presents her with an opportunity she never wanted: Leyla must venture outside of London for the first time in her life, to find and rescue her father herself.

Now, she’ll have to brave the unfathomable waters and defy a corrupt government determined to keep its secrets, all the while dealing with a secretive, hotheaded companion she never asked for in the first place. If she fails, or falls prey to her own fears, she risks capture-and her father might be lost forever.

REVIEW

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

What a unique, underwater apocalyptic setting! I’ve never read anything like this before, with a dystopian Atlantis vibe. 

Our main character Leyla is a British Muslim sub racer—and she’s more cool and brave than I will ever be. She pushes the limits on her own comfort zone in order to do what’s right and best for the people she loves. Reading from her perspective was engaging and left me constantly thinking, “I would never do that.”

The only reason this wasn’t five stars was because it took me a while to get into and, at times, I had a hard time connecting to the action of the story.

Still, I recommend, and I cannot wait for the next book in this duology!

FAVORITE QUOTES

🖤 “The human spirit didn’t drown. It was swept up and carried along; it flows still, the stream coursing its way through everyone’s lives.”

🖤 “My dear lady, the true mystery of the  world is the visible, not the invisible.”

🖤 “All will be well, inshallah. I am now armed with so many truths.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

AUTHORAuthor London Shah is a British-born Muslim of Pashtun ethnicity. She has lived in Britain’s capital city for most of her life via England’s beautiful North. When she’s not busy re-imagining the past, plotting an alternate present or dreaming up a surreal future, then she’s most likely drinking copious amounts of tea, eating all the sweets and cakes, strolling through Richmond Park or along the Thames, getting lost on an evening in the city’s older, darker alleyways—preferably just after it’s rained—listening to punk rock, or losing herself in a fab SFF book or film. If she could have only one super power, it would be to breathe underwater. The Light at the Bottom of the World is her debut novel.

Check out London on her website or over on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram!

BOOK LINKS

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble Kobo | Google Books

BOOK TOUR

Check out the rest of the stops along this blog tour!

Beyond the Black Door 🖤 Review + Giveaway

This. book. OMG. 

🖤 has a demi-biromantic asexual main character

🖤 has trans and gay rep

🖤 is a dark fantasy

🖤 has a villain romance

Thank you to the Fantastic Flying Book Club for giving me the opportunity to be on this tour!

Don’t miss the giveaway at the end of this post! ✨

Beyond the Black Door
by A.M. Strickland

SYNOPSIS

book coverKamai was warned never to open the black door, but she didn’t listen…

Everyone has a soul. Some are beautiful gardens, others are frightening dungeons. Soulwalkers―like Kamai and her mother―can journey into other people’s souls while they sleep.

But no matter where Kamai visits, she sees the black door. It follows her into every soul, and her mother has told her to never, ever open it.

When Kamai touches the door, it is warm and beating, like it has a pulse. When she puts her ear to it, she hears her own name whispered from the other side. And when tragedy strikes, Kamai does the unthinkable: she opens the door.

A.M. Strickland’s imaginative dark fantasy features court intrigue and romance, a main character coming to terms with her asexuality, and twists and turns as a seductive mystery unfolds that endangers not just Kamai’s own soul, but the entire kingdom…

A dark delight, gorgeously written and as twisty and enigmatic as a labyrinth at twilight. I wanted to stay lost in its pages forever, wandering ever deeper into the maze of Strickland’s beguiling, intricately imagined world.”

—Margaret Rogerson, New York Times bestselling author of An Enchantment of Ravens

Favorite Quotes

🖤 “Some secrets weren’t meant to be discovered. Some doors not meant to be opened. I’d already made that mistake once, and I shouldn’t be tempted to do it again.”

🖤 “You’re mine. I embraced you before your mother did. My lips touched your brow before hers. I protected you from the world first.”

🖤 “Books were doors I was allowed to open with the flick of a wrist…unlike the black door.”

🖤 “I simply adore the delicate was you put things. How you cover the truth with softness to make it less sharp. Rose blossoms over thorns.”

Excerpt

I was five the first time I asked my mother about the black door. The moment seared itself into my memory.

We were walking together through her soul, my hand in hers, the deep blue tiles of the place that was both hers and her as cool as water beneath my silk-slippered feet.

We’d done this for as long as I could remember, exploring her soul while our bodies slumbered, our spirits free to traverse the sleeping realm to which souls belonged. My mother would explain how people such as us—soulwalkers—could wander souls by night, and she would describe the gods. And yet she never mentioned the black door I always found in her soul.

On this particular night, I finally gathered my courage and stopped in the wide hallway, pointing. “Mama, what is that door?”

In my mother’s soul, the sandstone halls were rosy, lit as if a fireplace burned merrily next to every stretch of wall. There was no fire; it was my mother’s warmth, her light. The walls were pale and smooth, perforated with airy latticework that revealed the glow of rooms beyond, as if there were nothing to hide here, while the long hallways with deep azure tiles beckoned like fingers, hinting at wonders just out of sight.

But the black door was closed tight. Its sleek black surface parted the creamy sandstone of the wall like a slick dark stone in bright water, the sinuous lines of its frame meeting in a point at the apex. It gleamed like midnight fire. Despite seeming to draw in the light around it, it lured me like a candle’s flame.

By then I’d learned that fire would burn me … but only through touching it several times already. I’d never touched the black door, and I wanted to.

This dark, tantalizing danger didn’t seem to belong in my mother’s bright, inviting soul. My mother, her eyes narrowing, stared at the door for a moment, her jaw clenched, a look on her beautiful face like I’d never seen. There was resolve, anger, and yes, fear. I’d never before seen my mother afraid.

Turning away, she knelt before me, took both my hands, and said very seriously, “Kamai, you can never open that door. It’s best if you just forget about it.”

“But, Mama, you said I could go anywhere in your sleep house.”

A smile tugged at her mouth. “My soul house, not my ‘sleep house.’ It’s about time you started using the proper name: nehym.” The word actually meant “soul house” in the old tongue. “And that door isn’t a part of my nehym. It belongs to somewhere else. You must understand how these things work, Kamai, because someday you’ll be able to walk anyone’s soul at your whim and find what you will inside. But you must never”—she leaned closer, holding my eyes with the liquid brown of her gaze—“open that door.”

Trepidation overrode my curiosity. “Is it hiding something bad?”

She leaned forward to brush her lips over my forehead—lips, I would one day learn, that were the envy of both men and women. Marin Nuala’s lips, I’d later hear someone say, could unlock anyone’s. “Something very bad. Something evil. You won’t be safe from what’s behind it. It wants the door to open.”

I was both intrigued and disturbed that the evil thing behind the black door could want, that it had desires … and that it was lurking in my mother’s nehym. “What is it?”

She stared at me for a long moment. “I pray you’ll never know.” She stood and strolled the hall, away from the black door. Even here, where only I could see her, she dressed like a queen, her pale skin accented by a silk blue gown that swirled about her hips as she walked, her belt of fine gold links glimmering in the warm light. “Now, come, tell me what else I’ve taught you this evening. If you repeat it true, I’ll give you a surprise.”

I couldn’t keep the excitement from my voice. “Will it be my own sleep hou—nehym?” I could learn quickly, when I had an incentive.

My mother glanced down, rare sadness in her gaze. “You don’t have one, my dearest.”

My feet ground to a halt. Everyone’s soul was a house. It could be as dark, primitive, and dank as a cave, or as vast, ornate, and mazelike as a palace. My mother’s nehym was as warm and welcoming as a sprawling country villa, but with so many halls and wings and doors, no walls in the waking world could have contained it. To not have my own made me want to cry until I got one.

“Do I not have a soul?” I asked.

“Of course you do, sweetness,” she said, swiping away my brimming tears with her thumbs. “It’s only that sometimes these things are hidden from us, kept secret, even from within.” She placed two warm fingertips over my heart. “You don’t have a nehym because your soul is so deeply asleep that no one can find it. No one can walk your halls and discover your secrets that way.”

Something flickered across her face, like a shadow, and I knew she wasn’t telling me the entire truth. Even then I had a decent sense of such things.

“It is good that it stays hidden,” she added, smoothing down my hair, a tousled mirror of her own cascade of dark curls. “For it stays safe.”

“Like from the evil creature behind the black door?”

She drew in a breath. “You’re safe from it. But I don’t want you to speak of the door or what’s behind it anymore.”

“Did you open the door?” I asked, glancing over my shoulder. “Is that why it’s here?”

She shook her head. “No, my darling. It’s here because you are. It follows you, because it knows that only you can open the door. But that’s why I’m safe too, because I know you won’t. Now, tell me what else you’ve learned this evening. No more talk of the other thing. Who can walk the halls of souls and discover the sleeper’s deepest secrets?”

“People like you. And me,” I added, with some satisfaction. “And priests and priestesses. But we’re different from them, because we’re soulwalkers.” That was what my mother called us. At five years old, I didn’t understand everything by far, but I at least knew for sure we weren’t priestesses, since I found going to temples dreadfully dull, and this wasn’t dull. And besides, everyone knew that priests and priestesses could explore souls. No one knew we could.

“And what is a soulwalker, when we’re asleep like we are now?”

“A spirit.” Which was a layman’s term for our cerebral, conscious aspect—just like the soul was our subconscious, but I didn’t yet know any of those words.

“And who can know what we do?”

“No one,” I said quickly.

“Not even Hallan and Razim, remember?”

I nodded with proper solemnity. Hallan and Razim were the closest thing I had to family after my mother, close to a stepfather and stepbrother, though not quite. It had been difficult not to brag about my secret soulwalking ability to Razim, older than me by a couple of years, but I’d managed.

And now it seemed like there was a new rule that was just as serious, if not more so, than never betraying the secret of our soulwalking:

Never open the black door.

I didn’t press her about it, because I wanted to believe it was as simple as that: I wouldn’t open the door, and my mother and I would be safe. And maybe, if I learned enough about soulwalking, practiced hard enough, not only would I make my mother proud, but someday I would find my own soul.

“Now tell me the gods’ story,” my mother said.

I drew myself up as tall as possible. “In the very beginning of time, there was a husband and a wife, and they were surrounded by darkness.”

The Darkness,” my mother corrected.

“That’s what I meant. Darkness kept following them, trying to swallow them, so they always had to move. But one day, they were going to have a baby, so they stopped running. They fought the Darkness back to make a home for the baby, and then circled her every night after she was born to keep the Darkness away. They’re our sun and moon, and their daughter is the earth.”

It was a highly distilled version of the gods’ history, but it was easy enough to remember. Simple stories for a simple age, and yet it was a story we all on some level believed. It comforted me to think of bright parents hovering over a sleeping girl’s bed, keeping her safe from danger.

Despite that, I was already drawn to dark mysteries. And my question about the door had only left me with the burn of unassuaged curiosity. Later, I couldn’t even recall what my mother’s promised surprise had been, but I could remember the way my eyes drifted back, seeking one last glimpse of the black door.

* * *

I was nine when I first touched the door.

Razim drove me to do it. A guest was staying at our villa—well, my “stepfather’s” villa, where my mother and I lived with him and Razim. My mother and Hallan weren’t actually married, though they pretended they were, presiding together over Hallan’s home of pale tile floors, arching doorways, mosaic-patterned ceilings, and fountained courtyards, buried in the coastal forest near the capital. It was a mask, my mother said, for who they really were, what they really did. But what it masked, I didn’t yet know.

Early that evening, after our parents had gone upstairs with the guest, Razim and I stayed downstairs under the watchful eye of our tutor. A nighttime breeze wafted the sheer white curtains in front of the open shutters, letting in the coolness and the scent of flowers growing outside the windows. I was practicing my letters, but Razim was only pretending to read a book, actually practicing a look of haughty adult boredom, the very picture of a young lordling in his new silk shirt embroidered in shades of deep red like his father often wore. When our tutor left the study to relieve himself, Razim’s boredom vanished, revealing the boy of eleven. He grinned at me, white teeth and bronze cheeks glowing in the candlelight, and whispered, “I know what our parents are doing up there.”

My mother had told me only that she and Hallan secreted themselves away with their guests for business.

“I do too,” I said, glancing down at my paper and betraying the lie.

Razim smirked. “What are they doing, then?”

Work,” I said.

“I know exactly how they work,” Razim said slyly. “My father told me.”

I knew my mother would often walk in the souls of various guests, but I was never to tell Hallan and Razim, just as I was never, ever supposed to mention the black door. Not that I had much to tell about the latter. Whatever secrets my mother whispered about soulwalking, about the cities and people of Eopia, about the gods and half-forgotten myths, she wouldn’t tell me anything more about it. As if it didn’t tug at my attention whenever I soulwalked with her—and only her so far, never alone—despite my trying to ignore it. It was like a secret I had to keep even from myself.

But now Razim knew something else about the nature of their work.

“How, then?” I asked.

He leaned over the polished inlay of the wooden table, his black hair glinting, and whispered, “They have sex. I’ll bet you don’t know what that is.”

“I do too,” I said, even though I didn’t exactly. My mother had explained the basics, and that I wasn’t to do any of it until I was older. Which was fine by me, because it sounded like a supremely awkward thing I never wanted to do. I’d had no clue that was what she was doing upstairs with the guests.

“What is it, then?” Razim pressed.

I looked down, feeling suddenly uncomfortable. “You get naked, and you, you know, do it. Down there.”

Razim seemed disappointed that I knew even that much, and he leaned back. “Yeah, well, they do it with all sorts of people. My father has even done it with the queen consort.” I gave him a skeptical look. We didn’t have a queen like we had a king, because the official queen, at least in absentia, was Ranta, the earth goddess, daughter of Tain and Heshara, the sun god and moon goddess. Just as Tain was the guardian of spirits and all things cerebral, as fiery and exacting as the sun, and Heshara was guardian of souls and the sleeping realm, as cool and mysterious as the changing, shadowy faces of the moon, Ranta was the beautiful guardian of physical bodies, and thus had married the first king of the land both to better protect the earth and to gain further protection herself from the encroachment of Darkness. No one had ever seen Ranta, of course, not even her husband, but every time a new king rose to power and took the sacred oath to the earth goddess, people swore they could feel her blessing settle over them like a warm blanket.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

authorAdriAnne Strickland was a bibliophile who wanted to be an author before she knew what either of those words meant. She shares a home base in Alaska with her husband, her pugs, and her piles and piles of books. She loves traveling, dancing, vests, tattoos, and every shade of teal in existence, but especially the darker ones. She is the coauthor of Shadow Run and Shadow Call (Delacorte/Penguin Random House) and author of the forthcoming Beyond the Black Door (Imprint/Macmillan).

Check out AdriAnne on her website or over on GoodreadsTwitterFacebook, and Instagram!

BOOK LINKS

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble Kobo | Google Books

GIVEAWAY

Enter the giveaway to win a signed hardcover copy of Beyond the Black Door!

  • US only
  • End Date: November 6, 2019

BOOK TOUR

Check out the rest of the stops along this blog tour!

Shadow Frost 🖤 Review + Giveaway

I can never say no to a retelling. 🖤 

Thank you to the Fantastic Flying Book Club for giving me the opportunity to be on this tour!

You won’t want to miss the giveaway and preorder campaign at the end of this post! ✨

Shadow Frost by Coco Ma

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

SYNOPSIS

Cover Image Shadow FrostIN THE KINGDOM OF AXARIA, a darkness rises.

Some call it a monster, laying waste to the villagers and their homes. 
Some say it is an invulnerable demon summoned from the deepest abysses of the Immortal Realm. 
Many soldiers from the royal guard are sent out to hunt it down.

Not one has ever returned. 

When Asterin Faelenhart, Princess of Axaria and heir to the throne, discovers that she may hold the key to defeating the mysterious demon terrorizing her kingdom, she vows not to rest until the beast is slain. With the help of her friends and the powers she wields — though has yet to fully understand — Asterin sets out to complete a single task. The task that countless, trained soldiers have failed. 

To kill it. 

But as they hunt for the demon, they unearth a plot to assassinate the Princess herself instead. Asterin and her companions begin to wonder how much of their lives have been lies, especially when they realize that the center of the web of deceit might very well be themselves. With no one else to turn to, they are forced to decide just how much they are willing to sacrifice to protect the only world they have ever known. 

That is, of course… if the demon doesn’t get to them first.

From young author Coco Ma comes a dazzling new tale of adventure, power, and betrayal, weaving together a stunning world of magic with a killer cast in an explosive, unforgettable debut.

REVIEW

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book took me by surprise. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. 

Then again, I have a soft spot for retellings and books involving princesses—especially badass princesses—magic, romance, a touch of mystery, queer characters, demons, and friendship. Now that I’m thinking about it, I shouldn’t have been surprised at all. 

I should only be surprised that Coco Ma wrote this book when she was just 15 years old. What have I been doing with my life?

Anyway, this book was a 5 star read for me because, no spoilers, I enjoyed the slow but steady character and plot development. There were a few “plot twists” that I saw coming a mile away, but it didn’t matter. I loved them all the same. 🖤🖤🖤

BookTube Mentions

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

authorCoco Ma is a Canadian-Chinese author and pianist. She wrote her first novel, Shadow Frost, at the age of 15. Since she began playing the piano at the age of five and a half, she has also performed on some of the world’s greatest concert stages and graduated with a pre-college diploma in piano performance from The Juilliard School in New York City. Currently, she studies at Yale University. When she isn’t practicing piano, writing, or studying, you might find her bingeing Netflix or eating cake. Lots of cake.

Check out Coco Ma on her website or over on Goodreads, Twitter, and Instagram!

BOOK LINKS

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo | Google Books

GIVEAWAY

Enter the giveaway to win a hardcover copy of Shadow Frost, a signed bookplate, bookmark, and button!

  • End Date: October 15, 2019

PREORDER CAMPAIGN

Preorder Shadow Frost to receive a signed bookplate, bookmark, button, and tote bag if you’re one of the first 150 people to preorder!

BOOK TOUR

Check out the rest of the stops along this blog tour!

A Treason of Thorns 🖤 Review + Giveaway

I could not put down A Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Weymouth. I read this young adult fantasy in 2 days.

I didn’t know I needed a story about magical houses set in England. 🖤 

Thank you to the Fantastic Flying Book Club for giving me the opportunity to be on this tour!

A Treason of Thorns by
Laura E. Weymouth

Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 10, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

SYNOPSIS

book coverViolet Sterling has spent the last seven years in exile, longing to return to Burleigh House. One of the six great houses of England, Burleigh’s magic always kept the countryside well. And as a child, this magic kept Violet happy, draping her in flowers while she slept, fashioning secret hiding places for her, and lighting fires on the coldest nights to keep her warm.

Everything shattered, though, when her father committed high treason trying to free Burleigh from the king’s oppressive control. He was killed, and Vi was forced into hiding.

When she’s given a chance to go back, she discovers Burleigh has run wild with grief. Vines and briars are crumbling the walls. Magic that once enriched the surrounding countryside has turned dark and deadly, twisting lush blooms into thorns, poisoning livestock and destroying crops. Burleigh’s very soul is crying out in pain.

Vi would do anything to help, and soon she finds herself walking the same deadly path as her father all those years before. Vi must decide how far she’s willing to go to save her house—before her house destroys everything she’s ever known.

REVIEW

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I recently read Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson, and after reading A Treason of Throns, I can now confirm that I have a reading soft spot for inanimate objects turned magical.

The sentient, magical Burleigh House in this book remained at the heart of the story—it drove the plot, it influenced our protagonist’s Vi actions, and it painted the atmosphere. Vi, her childhood friend and love interest Wyn, and the House are the main characters in this book. I never thought I would read a book where a house is a main character, but my gosh, I’m so glad I did.

There is one, and only one, reason why this book was not a 5 star read for me: the not-so-believable, lacking romance. I wanted to believe that Vi and Wyn had a romantic connection. It made sense. But it didn’t translate onto the page. I almost wish their relationship would have remained platonic because then this book would have been perfect.

All in all, though, I highly recommend this book, as it delivered in so many other ways. Especially if you’re not picky about romance. And especially if you love the concept of a magical house. 🖤

FAVORITE QUOTES

🖤 “I need to know that no matter what I’ve lost, I’ve lost it for the greater good.”

🖤 “In the labyrinth of my own mind, I count fears instead of stars.”

🖤 “…folk recognize a devil in fine clothes when they see one.”

🖤 “The world is full of men who want things, and never question their right to go after them.” Esperanza’s eyes spark, and she leans forward in her chair. “Why should we feel any less worthy than they do, so long as what we want does no harm?”

🖤 “Don’t be ridiculous, we belong to ourselves.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

AUTHORLaura Weymouth is a Canadian living in exile in America, and the sixth consecutive generation of her family to immigrate from one country to another. Born and raised in the Niagara region of Ontario, she now lives at the edge of the woods in western New York, along with her husband, two wild-hearted daughters, a spoiled cat, an old soul of a dog, and an indeterminate number of chickens. She is represented by the inimitable Lauren Spieller of TriadaUS.

Check out Laura on her website or over on GoodreadsTwitterPinterest, Facebook, and Instagram!

BOOK LINKS

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo | Google Books

GIVEAWAY

Enter the giveaway to win signed copies of Laura E. Weymouth’s books, The Light Between Worlds and A Treason of Thorns!

  • End Date: September 24, 2019
  • US only

BOOK TOUR

Check out the rest of the stops along this blog tour!

The Storm Crow 🖤 Review + Giveaway + Video + Prologue

I’m a part of another gorgeous book tour thanks to the Fantastic Flying Book Club🖤

Don’t miss the giveaway—and the sneak peak prologue—at the end of this post!

The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson

Publisher: SourcebooksFire
Release Date: July 9, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

SYNOPSIS

COVERIn the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows are part of every aspect of life…until the Illucian empire invades, destroying everything.

That terrible night has thrown Princess Anthia into a deep depression. Her sister Caliza is busy running the kingdom after their mother’s death, but all Thia can do is think of all she has lost.

But when Caliza is forced to agree to a marriage between Thia and the crown prince of Illucia, Thia is finally spurred into action. And after stumbling upon a hidden Crow egg in the rubble of a rookery, she and her sister devise a dangerous plan to hatch the egg in secret and get back what was taken from them.

Favorite Quotes

Video

Prologue

I was a storm.

Adrenaline ripped through my veins like lightning as I leaned close to the body of my Crow, preparing to execute a dive. Iyla’s warm, steady heat kept me grounded, even hundreds of feet in the air. Cold wind whipped tendrils of hair free from my braid, nipping at the skin around my goggles and stealing my breath.

The thin, well-worn saddle beneath me was nothing more than a strip of leather to bind stirrups to, the reins trailing from my hands to Iyla’s beak, an illusion of control—this ride depended on trust and mutual respect. Anything less, and no amount of leather would keep me seated on Iyla’s back.

Years of Estrel’s instructions raced through my mind: Keep your body low and tight in a dive. Give the reins slack. Keep your knees back so you don’t put pressure on the Crow’s wing joints. I knew it all like my own heartbeat.

I tucked close to Iyla’s body, and we dove.

Water misted my skin as Iyla’s Storm Crow magic split apart a cloud a second before we shot through it and plummeted toward the earth. My heart screamed into my throat, pure, unadulterated joy erupting through me with every passing moment. I held my breath as we fell, counting the seconds—we could only gain so much speed before Iyla’s wings wouldn’t be able to handle the strain of opening.

Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen…

We burst through the clouds, Aris spread out below us. The city was a blur as we dove, a sea of light and color fast approaching.

Twenty. I squeezed my knees, and Iyla’s wings snapped open like the slice of a blade, catching an updraft to send us sailing in a gentle arc. Lightning buzzed at the tips of Iyla’s wings as she let out a piercing call.

I sucked in a lungful of cold air and let it out in a laugh, the thrill of the dive resounding through me like a thunderclap. I craved that feeling like starved lungs craved air, letting it fill me until I felt impossibly alive.

We circled wide and low, descending the rest of the way until Iyla’s shadow blanketed the city streets.

Aris unfurled beneath us like a colorful map, dense with thick green foliage and spotted with wildflowers. People called up to us, waving from crowded streets as revelers prepared for the festival leading up to Negnoch, the city’s yearly hatch night. In a few hours, every single Crow from across the kingdom of Rhodaire would put on a masterful display of riding and magic, and the year’s Crows would be hatched.

One of them would be mine. Tonight, I would choose my own Crow and become a rider.

We dipped lower, children chasing Iyla’s shadow in the hopes of catching a stray feather to wish upon. This was my favorite part of flying. Even more than the thrill of diving or the magic of soaring through endless skies, I loved gliding peacefully above Aris, the wind brushing along my skin as the city passed below.

Even on the back of a stolen Crow. Well, not quite stolen. Iyla belonged to Estrel, my teacher and mother’s best friend, and while Estrel had let me ride Iyla alone before, she technically hadn’t given me permission to tonight.

Probably because I didn’t ask.

A gentle tug on the reins sent Iyla a little higher, and we fell in line over the crystal waters of the canal in the Rynthene Wing. To my left, Earth Crows helped work the fields, tilling land in huge swaths with the pulse of their magic. To my right, the fading sunlight glinted off an armored Battle Crow.

All over Aris, the Crows and riders integrated into the city’s inner workings would be finishing up the day’s tasks. Later, they’d join the military pouring in from Rhodaire’s outer reaches in preparation for the Sky Dance.

We followed the canal to the castle at the city’s heart. The giant, gray stone structure stretched into the sky, Delladon vines sprawling across its pale face like laugh lines. From each of the four sides of the central tower, a crescent-shaped landing platform jutted out, and I used the nearest one as a marker to veer Iyla right toward the royal rookery. It was a tall, circular tower with wide windows on the third floor for easy landing.

My nerves jittered. Landing was the hardest part, even with Estrel’s lessons branded into my mind.

Let the Crow do the work; it knows what it’s doing. Keep your weight back. Never dismount while a Crow’s folding its wings, or you risk straining the joints.

We glided easily through one of the rookery’s large, open windows, Iyla as practiced in this maneuver as breathing. Her wings flared back, sending straw swirling across the stone floor as her massive black claws reached out, taking hold of the nearest T-shaped perch. We fell to a standstill, her wings tucking in tight to her muscled form. She was almost reptilian with a lean, muscular body, the proportions a little longer, a little more limber than a normal bird.

I let out a whoop, grinning as I tugged down my goggles and swung off her back, throwing my arms around her. Her long neck straightened as she stiffened, but I’d learned long ago that she’d not only tolerate hugs but secretly liked them.

“Anthia!”

My excitement went cold at my mother’s sharp voice. A flurry of black wings filled the opposite window as her Battle Crow, Tyros, landed effortlessly on the perch across from Iyla, sending a gust of straw-filled wind into my face.

My mother swung down, stalking toward me with the smooth litheness of a jungle cat. With the setting sun at her back, she looked every inch the queen she was, the light making her brown skin and polished flying leathers gleam with an inner fire.

“What in Saint’s name do you think you’re doing?” she demanded.

“Um, talking to Iyla?” I offered. Lying had never been my strong suit. To her credit, the Crow let out a low caw, as if she were indeed part of the conversation.

My mother didn’t smile. I didn’t expect her to.

“Relax, Alandra.” Estrel emerged from the nearby staircase at my side, her long, dark curls bound in a thick braid like mine. “I gave her permission.”

The only person who could tell my mother to relax without getting eviscerated was Estrel, my aunt in every way but blood. They even looked like sisters, though my mother was taller and leaner. She and Estrel had grown up together, and I’d even heard a rumor Estrel’s sister and my mother had courted as teenagers.

My mother frowned, and I straightened beneath the sharpness of her steel-colored gaze. Her eyes always reminded me of knives, forever sculpting me in an endless quest for perfection.

“I executed a perfect dive,” I offered, as if my ability to perform riding techniques far more advanced than my seventeen years might soften her gaze.

It only made her eyes narrow. “Taking another rider’s Crow out for a joyride to perform dangerous maneuvers is not only foolish, it’s insulting.” I flinched. “If you want to prove yourself capable of being a leader among the riders, you can start by not disrespecting every rule and custom we live by.”

I refused to wilt beneath the heat of her words. “Well, maybe if you spent more than a waking second in my presence, I’d know the rules better.”

Estrel drew a sharp breath, but my mother went stiller than a Shadow Crow concealed in darkness. For a fraction of a second, I swore something pained flashed through her iron gaze, but it vanished quickly.

The circlet of silver feathers on her brow gleamed like molten starlight. “I expect you back here before the hatching.” She turned to Tyros, who leapt from his perch to the wide window ledge, a perfect tableau of strength against a backdrop of approaching night. With a grace I hadn’t yet mastered, she swung up into the saddle. Wings tucked in tight, Tyros leapt. They plummeted from view, gone for barely a breath before they soared up past the window, climbing into the darkening sky.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

KalynKalyn Josephson is a Technical Writer in Silicon Valley, which leaves room for too many bad puns about technically being a writer. She grew up in San Luis Obispo, CA, but now lives in the Bay Area with four awesome friends (because it’s the Bay and she’d like to be able to retire one day) and two black cats (who are more like a tiny dragon and an even tinier owl). When not writing YA Fantasy, she loves baking, reading, playing sports, and watching too many movies.

Check out Kalyn on her website or over on Goodreads, Twitter, and Instagram!

BOOK LINKS

Goodreads | Google Books | Barnes & Noble

GIVEAWAY

Enter the giveaway to win a copy of The Storm Crow!

  • Start Date: July 9, 2019
  • End Date: July 23, 2019

BOOK TOUR

Check out the rest of the stops along this blog tour!