Blog Tours · Books I've Read

BLOG TOUR: Stranger Rituals

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Hello everyone! Welcome to this stop on the blog tour for Stranger Rituals by Kali Rose Schmidt, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours. This book was a dark whirlwind of a fantasy – let’s check it out!

About the Book

Stranger Rituals - eBook smallTitle: Stranger Rituals

Author: Kali Rose Schmidt

Publication Date: July 9, 2019

Genres: Fantasy/New Adult

Find It: GoodReads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks

Blurb: A fighter with a venomous grudge.

A monster with an immortal curse.

A girl with a terrible gift.

All three out for blood in a land torn apart by harsh gods and holy wars. Each entwined with the other, on their own quests for vengeance, and yet held together by strange links to sinister pasts. As their fates unravel, a dangerous romance blooms, and violent darkness beckons.

At turns both darkly humorous and utterly morbid, STRANGER RITUALS is the startling first novel in Kali Rose Schmidt’s dark new series.

Review: This is one of the more interesting blog tours I’ve been on!

I really enjoy fantasy and this book did not disappoint. A rich story world, complex characters, mystery, magic, twists and turns – this book had all of that and more.

Let’s start with our main character, Scarko. She has a rare form of magic, different from the others in the Order she belongs to. She also has to drink blood, which first made me think she was a vampire, but the story never refers to her as such other than the blood. Her magic is also made from blood, so there are some bits of the story that are a little gory. Much of the story revolves around Vojtech, who is the leader of their people, and also a large being with horns on his head. Scarko is very loyal to him, and doesn’t question when he asks her to go on a quest to kill a street fighter deep within enemy territory.

That fighter is a young man named Zephir, who is very complicated and tricky. He was a mystery the entire time and it was so fun to try and figure out where his loyalties lie (and I’m still not sure). There is also Rhodri, who was my favorite character, another being with horns on his head like Vojtech. The next book in this series will hopefully address more of his story, because I want to know more!

There’s a holy war brewing and Scarko needs to figure out where she fits into everything that is about to happen. No one is who they seem to be, and that’s what makes it so much fun.

GoodReads rating: 4 stars

About the Author

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Kali Rose Schmidt is an author, mother, and villain lover. She likes bloody tales of monsters, yoga with the lights off, and anything that goes bump in the night.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Pinterest | GoodReads

Giveaway Time!

This tour offers a giveaway – one signed copy of Stranger Rituals, plus a $10 Amazon giftcard! You can enter via this Rafflecopter Giveaway link. Good luck!

Follow the Tour!

July 15th
I Smell Sheep >> Guest post
Life With No Plot >> Review
Urban Fantasy Investigations >> Interview

July 16th
A Dream Within A Dream >> Excerpt
Jessica Belmont >> Review
Finding Magic In Books >> Review

July 17th
Adventures in Writing >> Guest post
Abooktropolis >> Review
Jazzy Book Reviews >> Excerpt
So Many Books, So Little Time >> Review

July 18th
The Avid Reader  >> Interview
Smada’s Book Smack >> Guest post
Inspired Chaos >> Review
The Laughing Listener >> Review

July 19th
Discover Elysian >> Review
The Magic Of Wor(l)ds >> Interview
Treestand Book Reviews >> Review

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Blog Tours · Books I've Read

BLOG TOUR: Lock Every Door

BANNER

Hello everyone! I am so excited to be part of the blog tour for this amazing book! Thank you so much to the Fantastic Flying Book Club for this opportunity!

About the Book

42368604Title: Lock Every Door

Author: Riley Sager

Publisher: Dutton Books

Release Date: July 2, 2019

Genre: Adult/Horror/Thriller

BlurbNo visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind. 

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story . . . until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.

Review: Y’all, this book was so good! Even though I had other things that I needed to read, I didn’t want to put this one down!

I absolutely love books that are set in New York City. It’s my absolute favorite place in the world and yes, a lot of its history is pretty dark. I’m sure every building on every street has a story, something I’ve always wondered about, which is part of what made this book so good.

Let’s talk about our characters. I absolutely loved Jules. She is a great narrator and someone who is easy to relate to. How many of us have been at the end of our rope, looking for some sort of miracle to help us get through the week? I know I have. She’s a very strong person, surviving the deaths of her parents and the disappearance of her sister, and when Ingrid disappears, Jules is determined to find out what is going on. But the thing is, there are so many twists and turns, it’s easy to see how Jules could either be reading way to much into things, or have her suspicions completely confirmed.

The pacing of the story was great as well. It never dragged, always kept me wanting more. There is a pretty big twist towards the end that I was in no way expecting, which was great. You know who some of the villains have to be, but you definitely don’t realize just how bad some of the people are until the very end. They are complex and intricate and just great to read.

This book had all the things I love: set in the best city in the world, interesting characters, and a story that I couldn’t put down. If you like mysteries and thrillers, check this one out. One brief thing: one of the genres listed for this one is horror, but there isn’t anything to graphic. So if you like suspense-filled stories, but don’t like a lot of blood, you’re good to go with this one.

GoodReads rating: 5 stars. I loved it!

GoodReadsAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

 KoboiBooksIndieBound

About the Author

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Riley Sager is the pseudonym of a former journalist, editor and graphic designer.

Now a full-time writer, Riley is the author of FINAL GIRLS, an international bestseller that has been published in 25 languages, and the New York Times bestseller THE LAST TIME I LIED. His latest book, LOCK EVERY DOOR, will be published in July.

A native of Pennsylvania, Riley now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Website | GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

Giveaway Time!

This tour includes a generous giveaway. There are seven copies of Lock Every Door available to win! Just click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link to enter. Available in the U.S. only.

Tour Schedule

This is the last day of the tour, but be sure to check out these other stops for lots more fun!

July 8th

Devouring Books– Review
TBR and Beyond– Creative Post
Kat’s Books– Review

July 9th

Fictitiouswonderland– Bookstagram

July 10th

That Artsy Reader Girl– Creative Post
Never Too Many To Read– Creative Post
One More Chapter– Bookstagram

July 11th

Twilight Reader– Bookstagram
Story-eyed Reviews– Review & Favorite Quotes
Bookish Geek– Review
Bookish In Bed– Review

July 12th

Sometimes Leelynn Reads– Review/Playlist
Books I've Read

BOOK REVIEW: It’s Our Time

It's Our TimeTitle: It’s Our Time

Author: Diane Krauss

Pages: 222

Genre: YA/New Adult/Dystopian

Series: none

Edition: eBook ARC from NetGalley

Pub. Date: July 9, 2019

Blurb: There are new founding fathers, and America is led by President Torrent and her council.

The Elites live in the opulent Villages beyond the walls while the rest of the civilians live in the war-torn Divisions.

All goods come from the all-powerful government. Private enterprise is unsanctioned and illegal.

If the gangs within the Divisions aren’t killing each other, then the Torrent Regime or the chemically infected people known as Night Terrors are.

In Brooklyn’s Division 12, a young nurse named El, has had enough. Joined by her best friend Kai, and a mysterious new friend, Pratt, El sets out to help those in her community.

Along the way, it becomes a movement that sweeps the nation.

You wouldn’t think so much could change in a mere 25 years, and that is what the administration was counting on.

It’s Our Time.

Review:  This book started out really strong, it really did, but then sort of petered out a bit towards the end. I hate saying that, because y’all know I love a good dystopian tale. This one wasn’t bad by any means, but it wasn’t quite great.

First, let’s talk about our characters. Our main character is El, short for Elisha, a young nurse living in the “Divisons.” Think sort of like the Districts in The Hunger Games, only instead of there being one large Capitol, there are smaller settlements called Villages where the upper class, or Elites, live. It means the common folk get to interact a bit more with the Elites, which helps a bit. El is a very kind person who sincerely wants to help everyone, so when the gas attack hits and a large portion of the population basically become zombie-like, she is ready to try and break some of their strict societal rules to try and help as many people as possible.

This is all well and good, and the first half of this book sort of works with this idea. Between El’s family, her friend Kai, and the people in her neighborhood, she is able to help as many of the sick people as possible. They also set up a barter system so as not to be too dependent on the government Rations Centers. The story gets a bit weird towards the middle and the end when somehow El becomes a candidate for president, trying to fight President Torrent and her corrupt, power-hungry government. It was never completely believable that El made a good candidate. She seemed much more suited for a behind-the-scenes sort of character. The other thing that made the second half drag some much is that Torrent is a very one dimensional villain. There’s really not much there except for her hunger for power and enjoying having more than the others do.

There’s also a bit of a love triangle, sort of, between El, Kai, and El’s friend Pratt, who is not part of their community at first, but comes in to help them. He’s a bit of a renegade. I didn’t feel a strong tie between El and either one of her suitors, so it just ended up weird.

I did really like the story world a lot, but that is partially because I like dystopian settings. Their system worked, for what it was. It was unfair, but no one suffered unduly unless they stepped out of line or questioned anything. Having the Elites so close by made a lot of the conflict seem more real because the people of the Divisions could see exactly what they were up against.

I did enjoy this story, but I thought there were some parts that could have been a bit stronger. The epilogue at the end does leave room for a sequel, but I don’t see one listed on GoodReads yet. It would be interesting to see what happens in another book, since a lot of things were pretty much tied up at the end of this one.

GoodReads rating: 3 stars

Books I've Read

BOOK REVIEW: Kushiel’s Avatar

Kushiel's AvatarTitle: Kushiel’s Avatar

Author: Jacqueline Carey

Pages: 702

Genre: Fantasy, Romance (bordering on Erotica, just as a warning)

Series: Phédre’s Trilogy #3

Edition: eBook

Blurb: The land of Terre d’Ange is a place of unsurpassed beauty and grace. It’s inhabited by the race that rose from the seed of angels, and they live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

Phèdre nó Delaunay was sold into indentured servitude as a child. Her bond was purchased by a nobleman who recognized that she was pricked by Kushiel’s dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one. Phèdre’s path has been strange and dangerous. She has lain with princes and pirate kings, battled a wicked temptress, and saved two nations. Through it all, the devoted swordsman Joscelin has been at her side, following the central precept of the angel Cassiel: Protect and serve.

But Phèdre’s plans will put his pledge to the test, for she has never forgotten her childhood friend Hyacinthe. She has spent ten long years searching for the key to free him from his eternal indenture to the Master of Straights, a bargain with the gods to save Phèdre and a nation. The search will take Phèdre and Joscelin across the world and down a fabled river to a forgotten land … and to a power so intense and mysterious, none dare speak its name.

Review: I did it! I finally finished Phédre’s Trilogy! That’s 2395 pages of amazingly beautiful writing right there. This last installment of the trilogy doesn’t disappoint, although it did start to drag a bit in parts. That might just be because I was so anxious to finish it.

I will include in this review, as I have in others, a few warnings. There are some very explicit sex scenes in this series, so if that isn’t your thing, you may want to pass. Also, this book in particular has some pretty gruesome torture/abuse scenes in it that you may want/need to skip.

Moving on to the rest of the review . . .

I only have a few complaints. First one is with our main character, Phédre. This is something that does happen throughout the series, so it’s not just this book, but EVERYONE is always completely enamored with her. And I get it. She’s beautiful and a rarity, having been touched by a god. It was occasionally a little much. The only other thing that bugged me at all, and this may have just been me, but I got confused with some of the locations they were going to. There were a LOT of them. This book goes far abroad in comparison to the previous two, and it was sometimes hard to keep all the new places straight.

That said, the world building in these books are amazing. Carey is such a visual writer with such a poetic style that it is easy to feel like you are there in the story. It is a truly immersive experience. While it got a little confusing at times, it was also really interesting to explore new parts of this world that she has created. It is loosely based on Europe, so this book was going more into the Middle East. A big cultural difference for our characters to navigate.

This book also brought back one of my favorite characters in the whole series, Hyacinthe. I was so glad to see the resolution of his story! I also really enjoyed Imriel’s character and, as he seems to be the focal point of the next trilogy, I might look into reading those one day. Not right now, of course, but they are definitely on my TBR.

GoodReads rating: 4 stars

Also . . . yay!!!!!

Reading colors your life

Books I've Read

REVIEW: Becoming the Witch

Becoming the WitchTitleBecoming the Witch

Author: J.M. Davies

Pages: 180

Genre: Fantasy

SeriesThe Rise of Orion #0.5 (prequel)

Edition: eBook ARC from Xpresso Book Tours

Blurb: As Miss Elizabeth Marshfield, I’ve never had a choice. My marriage to Sir Charles Dempsey is arranged. Love plays no role in this, but my sizable dowry does. On my eighteenth birthday, as I promise to honor and obey, eerie voices unlock a curse and an ancient magic I didn’t know I possessed, and they won’t rest until I answer them.
My husband suspects I’m mad—and mad, I may well be. But this cold-hearted brute cares naught for me as his mistress warms his bed.

I don’t know who I am anymore. Even the blacksmith, Barnaby, can’t disguise his contempt, despite saving me from a fall from my horse. So why does this insolent man affect me so? He reveals he’s a Roma called Raven, and the birthmark of the moon I have branded on my wrist proves I’m entwined in his destiny. Even talking with him could mean the hangman. But my heart has spoken, and I know nothing will ever be the same.

For once—I will choose my fate, even if it leads to a noose around my neck.

Review: So this was really interesting. I’ve never read a prequel for a series that I hadn’t read before, or even heard of, really. I will say that this book definitely makes me want to look into the Rise of Orion series because this prequel was really good! Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours for the review copy!

It was also really short, which since I’ve been reading a lot of behemoths lately, was nice.

I really enjoyed the writing in this. It was crisp, clean, and had lots of details that made the world really come alive on the page. It made the scenery really stand out, both the heaviness of the Dempsey estate and the wildness of the Roma camp, and it also made the abuse that Elizabeth goes through feel very visceral and real. Those scenes were difficult to read, but they are supposed to be. This is not a happy story, but these events set into motion future events later in the series. One thing that Elizabeth deals with is hearing the voices of her past lives, so I can only guess that she will be coming back in a future life at some point? I hope so.

Speaking of Elizabeth, let’s get into the characters. Elizabeth is a really well-written character, a spunky, independent young girl who is forced into a marriage with a very controlling man. Watching her change over the course of the story, trying to escape, and ultimately succumbing to her fate was a very well-written story arc. Sir Charles is a terrible villain who, on top of being an abusive and horrible husband (even flaunting his mistress right in his wife’s face), is also part of some sort of secret society that we only get hints at here. It definitely made me want to learn more.

There are lots of other supernatural elements — the magic of the Roma people, vampires, werewolves, witches — that are only touched on here, but I can only assume we get more details into these different groups as we go into the series itself. There was a bonus chapter included , the first chapter of book #1, so I know that the prequel is set in a different time period — it’s in the 1800s, whereas the series itself looks to be a modern, urban fantasy. Still, I really enjoyed this author’s writing style, so I would really like to continue reading this to see where it goes.

GoodReads rating: 4 stars

Books I've Read

Book Review: Where I End and You Begin

Where I EndTitle: Where I End and You Begin

Author: Preston Norton

Pages: 304

Genre: YA

Series: none – standalone

Edition: eBook ARC from NetGalley

Blurb: Ezra Slevin is an anxious, neurotic insomniac who spends his nights questioning his place in the universe and his days obsessing over Imogen, a nerdy girl with gigantic eyebrows and a heart of gold.

For weeks, Ezra has been working up the courage to invite Imogen to prom. The only problem is Imogen’s protective best friend, Wynonna Jones. Wynonna has blue hair, jams to ’80s rock, and has made a career out of tormenting Ezra for as long as he can remember.

Then, on the night of a total solar eclipse, something strange happens to Ezra and Wynonna–and they wake up in each other’s bodies. Not only that, they begin randomly swapping back and forth every day! Ezra soon discovers Wynonna’s huge crush on his best friend, Holden, a five-foot-nothing girl magnet with anger management problems. With no end to their curse in sight, Ezra makes Wynonna a proposition: while swapping bodies, he will help her win Holden’s heart…but only if she helps him woo Imogen.

Forming an uneasy alliance, Ezra and Wynonna embark on a collision course of mistaken identity, hurt feelings, embarassing bodily functions, and a positively byzantine production of Twelfth Night. Ezra wishes he could be more like Wynonna’s badass version of Ezra–but he also realizes he feels more like himself while being Wynonna than he has in a long time…

Wildly entertaining and deeply heartfelt, Where I End and You Begin is a brilliant, unapologetic exploration of what it means to be your best self.

Review: Y’all, this book was absolutely delightful. I love books that are quirky and funny, but also have a really good, heartfelt message.

It’s obviously not an original idea – there are several Freaky Friday movies after all. I really enjoyed how they took two people who were so different, who completely hated each other, and put them in this situation. Most notably: one is a boy and one is a girl. The body swapping doesn’t happen just one brief time. It happens over and over for MONTHS. That means, you guessed it, Ezra has to figure out what a period is and Wynonna has to figure out what to do with a penis. That also doesn’t take into account the fact that they are both best friends with the other one’s crush, so there is a lot of awkwardness as they have to try and act like everything is completely normal.

Ezra is a really sweet character. Shy and a little goofy, being stuck in Wynonna’s body forces him to break out of his shell a little bit. It was easy for him to hate Wynonna, but living her life makes him realize that she is the way she is for a reason. Her family life is not great and her attitude has been a way to put up walls to protect herself from hurt. I also really enjoyed Ezra’s mixed-up attempts to patch things up with Wynonna and her estranged father.

In the end they all manage to end up friends: Ezra, Wynonna, Imogen and Holden, as well as perform in the Shakespeare play Twelfth Night as part of a detention punishment at school. It’s also particularly amusing when Ezra and Wynonna switch right before the performance starts: after learning the lines of the other person all school year. Shenanigans!

The big takeaway from this book though is, to borrow a turn of phrase, that you never really know a person until you walk in their shoes. Ezra began the school year thinking that Wynonna was terrible, and vice versa. They ended the year as friends after fully realizing why they were the way they were, and that maybe they should have just given each other a chance the first time. The reason that the body swapping started was very poignant and well done.

GoodReads rating: 5 stars. I really enjoyed it.

Books I've Read

Book Review: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Empire of StormsTitleEmpire of Storms

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Pages: 704

Genre: YA Fantasy

SeriesThrone of Glass, book #5

Edition Read: Kindle

Blurb: The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius as war looms on the horizon. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t.

With her heart sworn to the warrior-prince by her side, and her fealty pledged to the people she is determined to save, Aelin will delve into the depths of her power to protect those she loves. But as monsters emerge from the horrors of the past, and dark forces become poised to claim her world, the only chance for salvation will lie in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

In this breathtaking fifth installment of the New York Timesbestselling Throne of Glass series, Aelin will have to choose what—and who—to sacrifice if she’s to keep the world of Erilea from breaking apart.

Review: I’m finally getting around to writing this review! Huzzah! Needless to say, there will be spoilers ahead for the first books in this series, so read at your own risk.

Be

Ready

For

Spoilers

Go!

Plots within plots within plots!

First off, I love that Lysandra is able to be her shape shifty self. She’s awesome.

The stakes are higher each time with these books, which is one of the things I love best about them. It isn’t enough that Aelin is alive – that doesn’t mean she can get her kingdom back. The nobles who live in Terrasen still have to approve of her as queen. And they aren’t ready to do so, not unless she can bring some heavy alliances with her. Seriously, they really shouldn’t underestimate Aelin, not at all. I was completely amazed at all she accomplished by the end of this book. She is not fooling around, and she’s not going to let some crusty old men tell her what to do for her kingdom.

With the King of Adarlan gone, we needed a new villain, and this book really delivered. Erawan is a terrifying villain and it was wonderfully evil to see him as his true self, not hiding in another human body. He is not to be trifled with, very powerful and has some very powerful beings on his side.

Manon continues to be my absolute favorite part of this series and I’m so excited that she’s with the main group of characters now. More Manon is a good thing in my book. I also really love how Elide came into her own a bit more. She is starting to regain some of the confidence she lost as a captive for so many years and it’s the absolute best. The fact that she gained the heart of one of someone like Lorcan just proves how amazing she is. So much untapped potential.

Really and truly, it’s the characters that make this series. I love all of them so much. They are just so well written, well-rounded, interesting, flawed, and great to read about. The story is also very good and keeps going in places you don’t expect, but the characters are really what sells it.

This one left off on such a HORRIBLE CLIFFHANGER!!! Especially since I’m not planning to read the next book for a while!!! And by horrible, I mean exciting and terrifying and wonderful. I honestly have no idea where this story is going to end up, but I am here for it.

GoodReads rating: 5 stars all the way