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!

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Season of the Witch 🖤 Review + Giveaway

I’m a part of another gorgeous book tour thanks to the Fantastic Flying Book Club, and let me tell you, I’m excited about this one. 🖤

I grew up watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch with my sisters, and I’ve loved Netflix’s new show. So being apart of this blog tour for the prequel to season two is such a chilling joy.

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

Sabrina: Season of the Witch (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1) by Sara Rees Brennan

Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Release Date: July 9, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Paranormal

Synopsis

43261389It’s the summer before her sixteenth birthday, and Sabrina Spellman knows her world is about to change. She’s always studied magic and spells with her aunts, Hilda and Zelda. But she’s also lived a normal mortal life—attending Baxter High, hanging out with her friends Susie and Roz, and going to the movies with her boyfriend, Harvey Kinkle.

Now time is running out on her every day, normal world, and leaving behind Roz and Susie and Harvey is a lot harder than she thought it would be. Especially because Sabrina isn’t sure how Harvey feels about her. Her cousin Ambrose suggests performing a spell to discover Harvey’s true feelings. But when a mysterious wood spirit interferes, the spell backfires…in a big way.

Sabrina has always been attracted to the power of being a witch. But now she can’t help wondering if that power is leading her down the wrong path. Will she choose to forsake the path of light and follow the path of night?

Our exclusive prequel novel will reveal a side of Sabrina not seen on the new NETFLIX show. What choice will Sabrina make…and will it be the right one?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Sarah Rees Brennan is a New York Times bestselling author whose novels have been long-listed for the Carnegie Medal and short-listed for both a Nebula Award and a Hugo Award, as well as received multiple starred reviews. Her most recent novels include In Other Lands, Tell the Wind and Fire and the Lynburn Legacy trilogy. 

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

Book Links

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo | iBooks | IndieBound

GIVEAWAY

Enter the giveaway to win a copy of Sabrina: Season of the Witch!

  • End Date: July 31, 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!

Nexus (The Androma Saga #2) 🖤 BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY

I’m a part of another book’s blog tour, thanks to the Fantastic Flying Book Club! 🖤

As a BookTuber, I had heard a lot of mixed reviews about the first book in The Androma Saga, Zenith, by Sasha Alsberga way more popular BookTuberand Lindsay Cummings. The second and final book Nexus exceeded my expectations. I’m glad I gave this story a chance and made up my mind for myself. 🖤🖤🖤

Check out my review below, and don’t miss the giveaway at the end of this post!

Nexus by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings

Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Synopsis

book cover#1 New York Times bestselling authors Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings deliver the dazzling finale to the acclaimed Androma Saga, where stunning betrayals and devastating secrets send an embattled galaxy spiraling into the ultimate nightmare.

Her ship is gone, her crew is captured and notorious mercenary Androma Racella is no longer the powerful Bloody Baroness, but a fugitive ruthlessly hunted across the Mirabel Galaxy. The bloodthirsty Queen Nor now rules most of the galaxy through a mind-control toxin and she’ll stop at nothing to destroy her most hated adversary.

Andi will risk anything, even her precious freedom, to find a cure. Stranded with her unlikely ally, Dex, on the unforgiving ice planet of Solera, their plan to infiltrate a black-market city proves dangerously irresistible.

Back in Arcardius, Nor’s actions have opened Mirabel to invasion. As Andi’s crew fights to regain their freedom, Andi and Dex discover a threat far greater than anything they’ve faced before.

Only by saving their mortal enemy can the crew of the Marauder make one last desperate strike to save the galaxy—unaware that a shattering, centuries-old secret may demand the most wrenching sacrifice of all.

About the Authors

Sasha Alsberg

SASHASasha Alsberg is the #1 NYT Bestselling Co-Author of ZENITH: The Androma Saga.

When Sasha is not writing or obsessing over Scotland she is making YouTube videos on her channel Abookutopia. She lives in Massachusetts with her dogs, Fraser and Fiona

For her writing, she is represented by Joanna Volpe at New Leaf Literary.

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

Lindsay Cummings

LINDSAYLindsay Cummings is the #1 NYT Bestselling co-author of ZENITH, along with her duology, THE MURDER COMPLEX from Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins, and the MG trilogy THE BALANCE KEEPERS, from Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins. She is represented by Pete Knapp at Park Literary in NYC.

Lindsay deals with chronic fatigue, writes full time from her home in the deep woods in North Texas, and loves to chat with fellow book nerds. Lindsay created the #booknerdigans hashtag.

She’s still waiting on her letter from Hogwarts–it was probably just lost in the mail.

Check out Lindsay on her website or over on GoodreadsTwitter, Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube!

Review

Nexus
Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Again, this book exceeded my expectations. The characters, the world building, the adventure, the pacing. I flew through this book because the story kept me engaged. I never felt bored. I just kept flipping pages.

So I have a confession: I never read Zenith. There’s a trigger warning for rape in Zenith, and with my current mental space, I didn’t want to spiral. With that said, if you haven’t read Zenith yet, you can still jump right in to Nexus. Sasha and Lindsay expertly engage the reader while also catching up the reader from Zenith.

My favorite aspect of this book was the character development and its multiple point of views. Each chapter focused on a different character, which developed and propelled the story forward. Even with the point of view changes, I still followed along and understood the story without having read the first book.

I’m so glad I gave this book a try—enter the book giveaway below and give it a try too! 🖤

Book Links

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

Giveaway

Enter the giveaway to win a copy of Nexus!

  • US only
  • Start Date: May 1, 2019
  • End Date: May 15, 2019

Blog Tour

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King of Fools: The Shadow Game Series 🖤 BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY

I’m a part of another book’s blog tour! 🖤

King of Fools by Amanda Foody is on a lot of readers’ most-anticipated-books-of-the-year lists.

I had heard so much hype and good things about the first book—Ace of Shades—on BookTube, and I’m beyond happy that the Fantastic Flying Book Club included me on this blog tour and introduced me to this series. 🖤🖤🖤

Check out my review for both books below, and don’t miss the giveaway at the end of this post!

King of Fools by Amanda Foody

Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: April 30, 2019
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Synopsis

Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1)

81zQ9gJaqGLWelcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…and secrets hide in every shadow

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, Enne has only one lead: the name Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems. 

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless Mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.

King of Fools (The Shadow Game #2)

book coverIndulge your vices in the City of Sin, where a sinister street war is brewing and fame is the deadliest killer of them all…

On the quest to find her missing mother, prim and proper Enne Salta became reluctant allies with Levi Glaisyer, the city’s most famous con man. Saving his life in the Shadow Game forced Enne to assume the identity of Seance, a mysterious underworld figure. Now, with the Chancellor of the Republic dead and bounties on both their heads, she and Levi must play a dangerous game of crime and politics…with the very fate of New Reynes at stake.

Thirsting for his freedom and the chance to build an empire, Levi enters an unlikely partnership with Vianca Augustine’s estranged son. Meanwhile, Enne remains trapped by the mafia donna’s binding oath, playing the roles of both darling lady and cunning street lord, unsure which side of herself reflects the truth.

As Enne and Levi walk a path of unimaginable wealth and opportunity, new relationships and deadly secrets could quickly lead them into ruin. And when unforeseen players enter the game, they must each make an impossible choice: To sacrifice everything they’ve earned in order to survive…

Or die as legends.

About the Author

authorAmanda Foody has always considered imagination to be our best attempt at magic. After spending her childhood longing to attend Hogwarts, she now loves to write about immersive settings and characters grappling with insurmountable destinies. She holds a Masters in Accountancy from Villanova University, and a Bachelors of Arts in English Literature from the College of William and Mary. Currently, she lives in Philadelphia, PA, surrounded by her many siblings and many books.

Check out Amanda on her website or over on GoodreadsTwitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, or Instagram!

Review

Ace of Shades
Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

King of Fools
Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

These first two books of this series are casino-themed rollercoasters of politics, mystery, thievery, espionage, and slow burn romance. Basically, they did not disappoint. 

I listened to the audiobook of Ace of Shades, and I received King of Fools free for review from the publisher. Both formats were fabulous. 

The character development—especially for our main characters Enna and Levi—elevated with each chapter, each book. I adore my boy Levi, who is bi and a person of color. I love me some bi rep. 🖤

Anyway, I’m hooked on this series now, and I plan to purchase both books for future rereads. If I don’t win the giveaway, that is.

Make sure you enter below! Good luck, reader friends!

Favorite Quotes

🖤 “She was a pistol wrapped up in silk. She was a blade disguised as a girl.” 

🖤 “Sometimes we’re not who we want to be because we’re supposed to be something else.” 

🖤 “Are you a pearl, or are you a bullet?”

🖤”If someone wanted to call her naïve, then they would. If someone wanted to call her heartless, then they would. It didn’t matter whether she decked herself in knives or pearls. The world would always demand that a girl apologize for herself, but she would apologize for nothing.”

🖤 “The hero of one story is the villain of someone else’s. It’s all just a matter of who wins.”

🖤”I think it takes more strength to be vulnerable than it does to appear invincible.”

Book Links

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |iTunes | Book Depository | Kobo| Google Play

Giveaway

Enter the giveaway to win a copy of King of Fools!

  • Start Date: April 22, 2019
  • End Date: March 6, 2019

Blog Tour

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The Waking Forest 🖤 Review + Giveaway

I’m a part of another book’s blog tour! 🖤

I hadn’t heard of The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees, but the moment I read the synopsis, I knew this book would be a book for me.

I wasn’t disappointed, to say the least. 🖤🖤🖤

Check out this spellbinding book, and don’t miss the giveaway at the end of this post!

The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees

Publisher: Delacorte
Release Date: March 12, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Synopsis

Pan’s Labyrinth meets The Hazel Wood in this novel about a girl with terrifying visions and a wish-granting witch whose lives collide in the most unexpected of ways.

 The waking forest has secrets. To Rhea, it appears like a mirage, dark and dense, at the very edge of her backyard. But when she reaches out to touch it, the forest vanishes. She’s desperate to know more–until she finds a peculiar boy who offers to reveal its secrets. If she plays a game.

 To the Witch, the forest is her home, where she sits on her throne of carved bone, waiting for dreaming children to beg her to grant their wishes. One night, a mysterious visitor arrives and asks her what she wishes for, but the Witch sends him away. And then the uninvited guest returns.

 The strangers are just the beginning. Something is stirring in the forest, and when Rhea’s and the Witch’s paths collide, a truth more treacherous and deadly than either could ever imagine surfaces. But how much are they willing to risk to survive?

About the Author

In between training in ballet and watching lots of Disney movies, Alyssa grew up writing stories starring her Beanie Babies. She earned a BA in English from Creighton University and an MFA in Fiction Writing from Columbia College Chicago. Currently she works as an assistant librarian in youth services at an awesome public library. She lives in the Chicagoland area with her husband and their two cats.

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

Review

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book. This book was breathtaking. It was magical and dark and ethereal and spellbinding. It was three enchanting stories converging into one. Ugh. My heart aches in the best of ways. 🖤

FAVORITE QUOTES

🖤 “I have many faces, and I want to wear them all.”

🖤 “I’m not a doctor, but I don’t think any of that is because of your magic. It sounds like anxiety. It sounds like you have panic attacks. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of. It doesn’t make you weak or not able to handle things.”

🖤 “She could exist without him, dance on her own, quite well, in fact–but it was he who brought her back around to herself, somehow. Transformed her line into a circle.”

🖤 “The burning scream inside you hurts less when you keep moving, keep going, keep reaching, in whatever way you can.”

🖤 “He is a wish I want to come true again and again and again.”

🖤 “Sometimes I feel like I’m trapped in the eye of a storm…Like I’m the only quiet, still thing in a world that won’t stop spinning.”

🖤 “I don’t know much, but I do know this: I am an inhale. And he–he is an exhale. And we will always be together, each of us right behind the other, linked, until the very last breath.”

🖤 “I know this is terrifying for you…But it will end. All things end, eventually. Even the very best of stories. And the worst of them too.”

🖤 “Beauty is poison to monsters…They love beauty, covet it, but they can’t have it.”

🖤 “Some dreams are dangerous, the ones you try the hardest to forget. Because then they grow gaunt and bladed, and will come back clawing up your throat.”

🖤 “Because my name is cradled in your bones. Because your heart sounds the same as mine. Because a sky is just unremarkable darkness without the stars. It’s empty.”

🖤 “Sometimes secrets are secret for a reason, because to know them will hurt us more than to keep them hidden.”

BOOK LINKS

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo | iBooks | IndieBound

GIVEAWAY

Enter the giveaway to win a signed copy of The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees!

  • Start Date: March 30, 2019
  • End Date: March 36, 2019
  • US Only

BOOK TOUR

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Our Year of Maybe: Blog Tour and Giveaway

A new year, a new book tour!

I was sent an ARC of Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon for review (plus a playlist and dreamcast) as a part of the Fantastic Flying Book Club.

Also, don’t miss the giveaway at the end of this post!

Our Year of Maybe
by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: January 15, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Synopsis

Aspiring choreographer Sophie Orenstein would do anything for Peter Rosenthal-Porter, who’s been on the kidney transplant list as long as she’s known him. Peter, a gifted pianist, is everything to Sophie: best friend, musical collaborator, secret crush. When she learns she’s a match, donating a kidney is an easy, obvious choice. She can’t help wondering if after the transplant, he’ll love her back the way she’s always wanted.

But Peter’s life post-transplant isn’t what either of them expected. Though he once had feelings for Sophie too, he’s now drawn to Chase, the guitarist in a band that happens to be looking for a keyboardist. And while neglected parts of Sophie’s world are calling to her—dance opportunities, new friends, a sister and niece she barely knows—she longs for a now-distant Peter more than ever, growing increasingly bitter he doesn’t seem to feel the same connection.

Peter fears he’ll forever be indebted to her. Sophie isn’t sure who she is without him. Then one blurry, heartbreaking night twists their relationship into something neither of them recognizes, leading them to question their past, their future, and whether their friendship is even worth fighting for.

Review

The main characters of this book Sophie and Peter were talented, flawed, annoying, selfish, kind—and human. Sophie is a dancer with a life-long crush in the making on her best friend Peter. Peter is a musician who is exploring his bisexuality and a healthier life with a new donor kidney—Sophie’s kidney. Sometimes I hated both these main characters, but other times I loved them.

I gave this book three stars because of its raw, bittersweet tone that encapsulates real life. I appreciated this book. But I didn’t love it.

I plan to go more in-depth on my BookTube channel about why I had a hard time with the climax and denouement of this book (which is full of spoilers, so I don’t want to include it in this review). Again, while it did feel “real,” it ruined my appreciation for both Sophie and Peter. And I wanted to appreciate them, especially Peter.

Anyway, I would totally recommend this book for fans of John Green, Robyn Schneider, and Rainbow Rowell. So, if that’s you, don’t miss the giveaway at the end of this post!

Playlist

Dream Cast

Image result for luca hollestelle
Sophie: Dutch actress Luca Hollestelle
Image result for timothée chalamet
Peter: American actor Timothée Chalamet

I made the mistake of looking at the author’s dream cast before creating my own—now I can’t unsee Luca Hollestelle as Sophie and Timothée Chlamet as Peter. Can you blame me though?

About the Author

Rachel Lynn Solomon lives, writes, and tap dances in Seattle, Washington. Once she helped set a Guinness World Record for the most natural redheads in one place. She’s the author of You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone (out now from Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse), Our Year of Maybe (1/15/19), and Today Tonight Tomorrow (2020). A short story of hers will appear in the anthology It’s a Whole Spiel (Penguin Random House/Knopf, fall 2019).

Book Links

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | B&N | iTunes

GIVEAWAY

Prize: A signed copy of OUR YEAR OF MAYBE (US Only)

Starting Date: January 9, 2019

Ending Date: January 20, 2019

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!

Book Tour

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