Kingdom of Souls eARC Review

 

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GoodReads:
Magic has a price—if you’re willing to pay.

Born into a family of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. But each year she fails to call forth her ancestral powers, while her ambitious mother watches with growing disapproval.

There’s only one thing Arrah hasn’t tried, a deadly last resort: trading years of her own life for scraps of magic. Until the Kingdom’s children begin to disappear, and Arrah is desperate to find the culprit.

She uncovers something worse. The long-imprisoned Demon King is stirring. And if he rises, his hunger for souls will bring the world to its knees… unless Arrah pays the price for the magic to stop him.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK | Amazon US 
[Affiliated Links: You will not be charged, I will receive a bit of money if you use my link to purchase]

My Review

This is hands down one of the best YA fantasy books I have EVER read. Barron’s writing is superb, her worldbuilding engaging and the pacing was perfect. Honestly, there is little to no complaint out of me other than I wanted more haha [and let’s face it, that’s a pretty common complaint from me].

The magic system is out of this world, I mean, it’s not born or earned, it’s given and it’s not even necessarily a good thing depending on the situation. Though in Arrah’s case, it’s something she wants and yearns for. Still, it’s such a great change of pace to the things we’ve gotten used to seeing in magic systems.

Arrah is such a wonderful protagonist and the side characters are so easy to love [or hate depending on which side of the plot they’re on] and I think I could never get enough of the relationship between Arrah and her Father. So often we find not enough positive parental relationships in YA but Barron gives you the good and the bad and Arrah’s father and grandmother are two of my ultimate favorite characters in this book.

I really want to focus on Arrah and her Father though. There is not enough YA with healthy parental relationships, like not even anything outstanding, just HEALTHY. So the fact that Barron used this as an opportunity to show both sides of parental relationships the amazing on both ends of the spectrum, speaks VOLUMES. Arrah and her Father are close, there is a deep sense of trust and love and the affection is so blatant from her father that it made me teary-eyed several times. His love is what I hope Fathers show their children more often than not and it’s a great balance to strike against the relationship Arrah has with her Mother. [Who still loves her in her very misguided way]

There is so much love in this book, between friends, including Rudjek, between Arrah and her father, and her grandmother, and it makes all the difference when you read this story.

Arrah’s strength is in her love for those close to her, and she comes to realize that it’s a strength, that even if she hadn’t been gifted magic like those around her, she still has something to fight for and the spirit to do so. Not to mention there are some great twists and crazy obstacles that she faces.

If you want lore that’s drenched in the wonders of different African-inspired tribes and cultures with a kickass magic system, heartache, love, and perseverance, well, I present Kingdom of Souls.

** I preordered this in February, and I even was lucky enough to get the Goldsboro edition, but for this review, I used the eARC that HarperVoyager UK gifted me, via NetGalley **

[I could sincerely gush about this all day and feel so lucky to have had a chance to read an eARC of it….But…if you have a physical ARC and wanna talk trades or something, hit me up, please, that is high on my wishlist lol.]

 

About the Author

Rena Barron grew up in small-town Alabama where stories of magic and adventure sparked her imagination. After penning her first awful poem in middle school, she graduated to writing short stories and novels by high school. Rena loves all things science fiction, ghosts, and superheroes. She’s a self-proclaimed space nerd. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading or brushing up on her French.

Author Links

Website| GoodReads | Twitter | Instagram

Kingdom of Souls Site

^^ This site is AMAZING and has so many cool extras ^^

Realm of Knights – Blog Tour

Realm

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Synopsis:
Reid has spent her whole life pretending to be a man so she can inherit her father’s estate, but when a chance encounter threatens to expose her lie, she is forced to risk everything.
In the kingdom of Marsden, women are subservient to men and land can only pass from father to son. So when Reid Ellington is born, the fifth daughter to one of the wealthiest landholders in the kingdom, it’s announced that Reid is a boy.
Eighteen years later, Reid struggles to conceal the fact she’s actually a young woman. Every day, her secret becomes harder to keep. When one of Marsden’s princes sees her sparring with a sword, she is forced to accept his offer and lead her father’s soldiers to the border. Along the way, she discovers a covert organization within the army known as the Knights of the Realm. If Reid wants to save her family from being arrested for treason and robbed of their inheritance, she will have to join the Knights and become a weapon for the crown.
To protect her family, Reid must fight like a man. To do that, she’ll need the courage of a woman.

Book Information:
Realm of Knights
by Jennifer Anne Davis
Publication date: September 10th 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
GoodReads

Where to Buy

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

 

My Review

I knew I was going to like this book, but I was wrong. I ended up loving this book, I underestimated how much I would enjoy this and that makes me so happy.

Davis is plot and character driven, her world building is easily worked in but not the focus, and it works well, she’s slowly peeling back the layers of her world as you experience them through Reid’s discoveries of the land.

I am a sucker for girls dressing up as boys trope and this delivered in spades, not to mention it had a unique twist to it. Reid isn’t doing it to defy her father, she’s doing it at his request.

Of course even the most carefully laid plans can backfire and once someone has discovered the secret, that The Duke’s heir, Reid, isn’t a he but a she, well it seems that the act is up.

But, what is the price of the secret?

This is where it gets amazingly interesting and I don’t want to give anything away but expect some really cool things to happen.

There’s political intrigue, a hint of romance, a mysterious other county, and the ever present thought; ‘who is telling the the truth and who is lying?’

Reid has to keep her guard up as she wonders this question the deeper she gets thrown into the political side of things and at the end of the book, she’s left with quite the unexpected path for her.

Seriously, I thought maybe that ending could happen but doubted it and then I was lulled into a false sense of security and then boom. And now I’m left with questions that have to wait until December to be answered.

It’s a great start to a new YA series, it has all the elements I enjoyed and I thought Reid was a fun protagonist. She seemed to have some seriously logical thoughts which cracked me up, such as ‘why did I decide to swim naked?’

Do you like YA Fantasy? Do you like royal politics and girls disguising as men? What about swoon worthy princes and princesses? If you do, you will probably like this book.

The pacing is great, the characters are fun, and I loved the trope(s) that were used, so it was just a win for me all across the board.

I CANNOT wait to read book 2.

This was five cups of coffee for me, I just enjoyed it so much.

About the Author

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Jennifer Anne Davis graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in English and a teaching credential. She is currently a full-time writer.
Awards:
Cage of Deceit: Winner 2018 Kindle Book Awards
The Key: Finalist 2014 USA Book Awards 
The Voice: Finalist 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
The Voice: Winner 2013 San Diego Book Awards

Author Links

Website | GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

Giveaway

INTL: Win a $100.00 Amazon Giftcard
Click on the link here to enter on the Rafflecopter site

 

Rest of the Tour Schedule

Click on the picture to be taken to the full tour schedule!

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Tour Host:

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Thanks to Xpresso Book tours and the pub/author for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!

The Girl The Sea Gave Back

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Synopsis:
“But what did these warriors know about fate?
It was the curling, wild vine that choked out the summer crops. It was the wind that bent wayward currents and damned innocent souls to the deep. They hadnt’ seen th stretch of it or the way it could shift suddenly, lik a flock of startled birds. Fate’s hand was something they said because they didn’t understand it.
That’s what I was for.
Set ten years later int he same vividly imagined world of Sky in the Deep and featuring an adult Halvard, The Girl the Sea Gave Back promises to be a refreshingly new, yet familiar addition to the captivating series.
For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast, the rune stones and see into the future. Tova has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.
For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect ther newfound power? And when their chieftan looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again – a home.

Book Information:
Written By: Adrienne Young
Published by: Titan Books [UK]
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Format: Paperback & eBook
Price: £8.99
9781789091298|320 PP

My Review

I think this book is so different than its predecessor, as in that it feels like it’s there for the pure love of prose and I am completely there for that. This is set in the same world as Sky in the Deep but ten years later. This means the world has already been set up in a large fashion. Still though, Young makes it easy for someone who hasn’t read her previous novel to dive right in. [Pun intended]

Tova is a character who has always been on the outside looking in of the people around her. We’re allowed to dive deep into her mind and insecurities while we are also shown Halvard, switching between the two all the while being tugged along by this almost mystical connection that seems to lay between them.

The battle scenes were some of my favorites and Young has a true talent for writing them.

While the story switches between Tova and Halvard, it was truly Tova’s story in my mind, the girl that washed up in a burnt-out funeral pyre. She constantly shows an inner strength despite the self-doubt and insecurities and that made her feel so real and I loved her for it. [I do have to admit though, haha, Gunther was actually my favorite character.]

I would have liked to explore Halvard as he has aged ten years since the last book but I did appreciate that the focus was on Tova’s story that just happened to revolve around him in its own way. You did feel his motivation and the love he had for his. family and that was quite poignant.

Halvard is a strong warrior but he’s also someone who still observes and listens and that was his true strength, especially in his connection to Tova.

Lost in a world that is not her own, but unable to remember her own, Tova has dealt with the hand she assumed life had dealt her, living a parallel life to a clan that resents and fears her, not knowing the true love of family, and yet still retaining a heart capable of empathy and kindness.

Though Tova is a Truthtongue, she has weaknesses and other strengths and the fact that Young explores so much of Tova in so little time is pretty impressive.

This was a slower-paced novel with fates intertwined through the power of rune stones though Tova tries to make sense of it all.  Despite the fact she can read the stones, the future is never clear.

Four cups of coffee from me!

Thank you to  Sarah Mather/Titan Books for a copy of this for me to honestly review!

 

 

About the Author

Adrienne Young is a born and bred Texan turned California girl. She is a foodie with a deep love of history and travel and a shameless addiction to coffee. She lives with her documentary filmmaker husband and their four little wildlings beneath the West Coast sun. Adrienne is the author of the New York Times bestseller Sky in the Deep and the forthcoming The Girl the Sea Gave Back.

 

Descended Review

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GoodReads:

Anxiety. Frustration. Fear. Trust-Issues. All Socorro wanted in life was to exist without interruption. She had no plans for the present, nor the future. At 2:15pm on her 18th birthday, the past decided it had plans for her instead. Suddenly under the guidance of Merlin and hundreds of years of history, Socorro clashes with the weight of tradition and the expectations of her new life as a descendant of King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table. As the descendants prepare for the second round of the battle between good and evil against the sorceress Morgan le Fay, Socorro struggles with the idea of accepting this new life, particularly all the people that are now thrust into it.

Book Information:
Title: Descended
By: Amanda Lynn Almaraz
Publisher: Amanda Lynn Almaraz
Format: Paperback, Kindle, B&N eBook

 

My Review

I did not receive this book for free, but I am best friends with the Author, just to say if you think I may be a bit biased, maybe. But, I loved this book so, just accept I’m going to fangirl over this. I already have accepted. But on a more ‘professional’ note, I’ll give you my truly honest review and hope that you decide to give this wonderful book a read.

Almaraz dips us into a YA fantasy where the characters are so realistic, that the MC Socorro and her peers are actually a breath of fresh air.

Socorro is a teenager in every sense of the word, she comes from not the easiest background but there’s love there and it’s so important that there’s a good and supportive parental figure in a YA book. Her mom is an undocumented immigrant and there are struggles because of it, and though Socorro has a father, it’s the love between her mother and her that resonates strongly with me in the story. I’ll let you figure out about her Father.

As someone who has grown up reading things by Almaraz, I can honestly say this one really is a shining example of her talent.

There’s magic, there’s foul-mouthed MCs, there’s a pretty humorous Merlin, and the best part, there’s a story that is a fun take on King Arthur.

These are the descendants of the Knights of the Round Table, of Arthur himself, but they’re not sure what any of that truly means other than they’re to finish the fight that started long before they were born.

Are they vessels, are they just heirs, are they even their own people or forced to be in the shadows of the knights they descend from?

The teenagers have tried to accept what’s been thrown at them, and they’ve done it a lot more willingly than say, Socorro, who doesn’t have time for any of the bullshit people are hefting at her. They’ve grown up with the tales, the understanding of who they are expected to be, but Socorro has never had those expectations thrust at her, so she’s not accepting anything blindly and she asks questions and puts up countermeasures wherever she cans. And I love it.

This is the start of a new fantasy series, so we’re introduced to everything from Socorro’s perspective, and as a newcomer into this magical world, she’s the perfect narrator. This also means that if Socorro doesn’t notice something, we don’t either, and if she doesn’t see something, we don’t either. Almaraz does a great job of remembering that and not making Socorro an overpowered narrator, and I’m not going to lie, Socorro made me chuckle a few times at least.

Overall, the novel is really well-paced, and though I wanted to jump right into the next book I thought it ended perfectly and will not wait impatiently to read book 2. I can’t wait to find out more about the world, the magic, and the characters.

Five cups of coffee, and if you find it sounds interesting, I’ve included the GoodReads link in the blurb section.

The Last Word – Blog Tour

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Synopsis:
Set against the smoky, gaslit allure of Victorian London, this sweetly romantic historical debut is full of humor and stars a whip-smart female heroine ahead of her time.

Where one story ends, another begins.

1861. Miss Lucinda Leavitt is shocked when she learns the author of her favorite serialized novel has died before completing the story. Determined to learn how it ends, Lucinda reluctantly enlists the help of her father’s young business partner, Mr. David Randall, to track down the reclusive author’s former whereabouts.
David is a successful young businessman, but is overwhelmed by his workload. He wants to prove himself to his late father, as well as to himself. He doesn’t have the time, nor the interest, for this endeavor, but Lucinda is not the type to take no for an answer.
Their search for the elusive Mrs. Smith and the rightful ending to her novel leads Lucinda and David around the country, but the truths they discover about themselves—and each other—are anything but fictional.
Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, The Last Word by debut author Samantha Hastings is a fun yet intellectual romp through Victorian London—the perfect book for book-lovers.

Book Information:
Title:The
Last Word
By: Samantha Hastings
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: July 9th 2019
Genres: Historical, Romance, Young Adult

Where to Buy

Amazon B&N iBooks Kobo

 

My Review

 

Do you like adorable love stories, mathematically gifted Victorian girls, or swoon-worthy cinnamon roll young men? Great.

Now, go buy The Last Word. I suppose if you want more details I’ll go ahead and tell more reasons why I completely love this book!

In this day and age, I really think it’s important to highlight girls in STEM for YA (and anyone between the ages of like 0-100) and Samantha Hastings gives us a ‘feminine’ girl who is talented in numbers and it makes my heart so happy. Not only that but our MC is a girl who likes to have answers, whether to a numbers ledger or to an unfinished story and I can truly relate to that.

Another thing I truly value is historical accuracy, Hastings has done her research and it’s obvious. Yes, of course, there should always be leeway for the imagination in works of fiction but Lucinda is a woman in Victorian times and as such she is faced with boundaries put in place because of her gender and her class. The fact that Lucinda still manages to weave her way around all of that and in a realistic manner is superb. Not only that but she gives us and Lucinda the ending that is deserved, and manages to make it perfect and within the suspense of disbelief.

This is also not a story without sadness, though it’s full of adventure, fun, and a quest for answers on an unfinished story it also contains loss, heartbreak [and not of the romantic kind], and the will of a young woman who wants to prove her worth, to be just as she is. In Victorian times women rarely got that chance and even now it’s still hard for many.

I continually love the banter between Lucinda and David, I ship them, I will die on their hill. There’s obvious chemistry there without being too mushy for my old cold heart.

Not to mention the deeper we get with Lucinda, the reasoning behind her wanting to find out the end is even more important than simply wanting to know the last word(s). This is a quest for Lucinda, and I’m so glad she goes on this adventure for it.

Honestly, this book was perfection and the only reason I gave it 4 instead of 5 is because I didn’t want it to end. But the pacing is great, the storyline fulfilled, and I was completely satisfied with it. Hastings has given us a true delight in this book and I look forward to reading anything else she ever writes after this.

**Thanks to Xpresso Tours, NetGalley, Swoon Reads, and Samantha Hastings for a chance to read and give an honest review of this.**

 

[PS: LUCINDA AND DAVID FOREVER!!!!]

 

About the Author

 

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Samantha Hastings has degrees from Brigham Young University, the University of Reading (Berkshire, England), and the University of North Texas. She met her husband in a turkey sandwich line. They live in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she spends most of her time reading, eating popcorn, and chasing her kids. The Last Word is her debut novel.

Author Links

Website GoodReads Facebook Twitter

 

GIVEAWAY

To win a print copy of The Last Word [US/CAN only] please click the link below.

THE LAST WORD RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY LINK

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The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston – Blog Tour

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Abandoned and alone, thirteen-year-old Joe’s world is shattered when he enters a deserted council house and becomes trapped within a labyrinth protecting the last magical places on earth. There, Joe discovers a book charting this immense no-man’s land, without time or place, its thirteen doors each leading to a different realm. Hunted by sinister foes, the boy is forced ever deeper into both the maze and the mystery of his missing parents. What will he find at the labyrinth’s centre, and can it reunite him with the family he so desperately needs? 
Crossing through diverse landscapes from Victorian Britain to fifties New Orleans, The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston is inspired by the internationally famous house and gardens dubbed ‘Britain’s Most Extraordinary Home’ by the Sunday Times. It is a classic YA tale of adventure that introduces readers to an otherworld hiding in plain sight, cloaked in magic and steeped in imagined history. Yet beyond its fearsome huntsmen and battling magicians dwells the secret that lies within all of us – the power to live extraordinary lives.

Book Information:
PRICE: £14.99
ISBN: 978-1-78352-724-3
FORMAT: Hardback
BINDING: Royal HB
EXTENT: 384 pages
SIZE: 240 × 159 mm
CATEGORY BIC: FM

 

My Review

Starting this novel, I wasn’t sure what I was in for, and I’m glad of that. This book had so much to offer and I was really pleased with Tarrow’s take on this YA fantasy.

In Joe we find a young boy who is alone and struggling to follow the rules his parents made to keep him safe. With his parents not around and the hiding place no longer safe, Joe finds himself starting an adventure that he never imagined could even exist as he tries to locate his parents and get ‘home.’ Wherever home is.

There’s so much depth and research put into this and the creativity was fun to watch unravel if not a bit anxiety fueled as I kept wondering what’s in store, when is it, and where in the labyrinth is he in regards to Joe and his journey.

This is a classic Fantasy in a lot of ways, we have a child who has had greatness thrust upon him in a sense. Joe must travel through Talliston to get home, but as he ventures to each new room and time, there’s the sinking realization of just how much is at stake. There’s betrayal, young love [though not too much and it’s not the focus], kinship, family found, family lost, and magic, and of course the battle between those both good and evil [and in between]. It’s a recipe for a tale that will stay with you long after you’ve closed the book.

The guardians of Talliston’s rooms that Joe encounters are some of my favorite parts of the book not to mention getting to go through so many different times, future, current, and past! You can go from 1950s New Orleans to futuristic Japan!

Where Joe starts off afraid and just wanting to go home, he has great character growth thanks to the people he meets along the way both good and bad, he becomes stronger and realizes that he must make his own decisions in regards to Talliston. The question at the end of the day for him isn’t how can get he get home, but, how can I help -where Talliston is concerned- and he finds his answer. Joe also learns that though rules are in place to protect, some rules, are meant to restrict and are made to be broken.

I adored every side character both good and bad and Tarrow does a great job fleshing them out and I think the way Joe progressed through the story was one my favorite aspects to the book.

I actually look forward to my daughter reading this in a couple of years when her reading level is more advanced. I good 4/5 cups of coffee read for me.

It also doesn’t hurt that this book is absolutely drop dead gorgeous/stunning. Honestly, it’s like holding a magical tome in your hands.

A few other neat notes:

The house and gardens featured in the story are real. The author spent twenty-five years transforming an ordinary house in an ordinary street into what the Sunday Times called ‘Britain’s Most Extraordinary Home’. The project is internationally famous. 
Talliston House is featured in the Netflix-commissioned programme Amazing Interiors, which will reach an audience close to 100 million in 120 countries. 
The ‘Stranger’s Guide’ journal mentioned in the novel is a real entity; a leather-bound, hand- calligraphed volume that could appear as a companion publication (like The Spiderwick Field Guide).

Thanks to Anne Cater for having me on the tour and thank you to John Tarrow and Unbound for sending me a copy and allowing me to honestly review this!

 

About the Author

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John Tarrow is a novelist, poet, storyteller and award-winning writer. His fascination with folk and faerie tales has taken him around the world, gathering threads of story and legend to weave into his own mythologies: his extensive studies in Lakota Sioux and Druidic traditions offer readers stories resonant with magic, folklore and the wonders of the natural world. He spent twenty-five years transforming a three-bedroom, semi-detached, ex- council house in Essex into the world-famous Talliston House and Gardens. 

Author Links

Website [Includes Purchase Links]

 

The Rest of the Tour Schedule

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Charity Shop Haul

So…

It’s been a minute with this. To be fair it’s because we go shopping so often for books in charity shops that it would be too repetitive on the blog, so, here we are, and I’ve just gathered up some of my favorite buys recently so that I can share them.

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Most of these were 50P! The Lord of the Rings was 5, but the retail is 35, sooo I didn’t do too shabby! That means my old school LotR movie book with all three is now donated, and I also had an older cover of Maze Runner but now that I have matching covers, well, that’s gone to donation as well! I’ve also been wanting the Magnus Bane Chronicles but I had one on the kindle and it was one they were sold separately so I like this much better, looks like that’s one ebook I don’t have to keep on the Kindle anymore. I know. I have a problem.

I’m also going through my books once again, it’s time to clear some out now that we’re moving. It’s about time too as I really should be conscious of what books I might never read. I don’t plan on doing a huge cull, just taking into account what I truly never plan on reading, haha, that way someone else has a chance to read it.

It’s time for me to dive back into the neverending TBR. [Sidenote: Why you approve things so last minute NetGalley people? Do you hate me??]

Tell me what deals/books you’ve bought lately!