ARC Review: Kingdom of the Wicked

I finished Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco in the beginning of September and wrote my review immediately after, but wanted to wait until AFTER the #GetWickedTour ended to post my review. Thank you JIMMY Patterson Books for sending me a copy! We’re so thankful you got to be our first ever tour! 

I’m going to be formatting my post as if I am a part of the blog tour, though technically, I’m not. So if you’re confused, sorry about that! It’s just a fun way for me to include everything and express my love for this book!

If you haven’t been following along, please take a minute to check out the other posts from the tour and give the bloggers and bookstagrammers some love! You can access the schedule here

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New Blog Tour!

Hey guys! Last week I announced the creation of Book Terminal Tours, the blog tour company run by Auburn, Shreya, and myself! 

This time, I have another super fun announcement! We just announced a NEW tour that we are doing, which will be held in October. Sign ups for our email subscribers already went out, but general sign ups are currently open for anyone interested! 

We are so excited to be doing a tour for Among The Beasts & Briars by Ashley Poston, which will run from October 20th – 24th, 2020!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Cerys is safe in the kingdom of Aloriya.

Here there are no droughts, disease, or famine, and peace is everlasting. It has been this way for hundreds of years, since the first king made a bargain with the Lady who ruled the forest that borders the kingdom. But as Aloriya prospered, the woods grew dark, cursed, and forbidden. Cerys knows this all too well: when she was young, she barely escaped as the woods killed her friends and her mother. Now Cerys carries a small bit of the curse—the magic—in her blood, a reminder of the day she lost everything. The most danger she faces now, as a gardener’s daughter, is the annoying fox who stalks the royal gardens and won’t leave her alone.

As a new queen is crowned, however, things long hidden in the woods descend on the kingdom itself. Cerys is forced on the run, her only companions the small fox from the garden, a strange and powerful bear, and the magic in her veins. It’s up to her to find the legendary Lady of the Wilds and beg for a way to save her home. But the road is darker and more dangerous than she knows, and as secrets from the past are uncovered amid the teeth and roots of the forest, it’s going to take everything she has just to survive.

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This tour will be US only, as dictated by the publisher, so I’m sorry international friends! We are looking for bloggers only at this time who will receive a physical copy for review. We will have other review options available as well for creative posts like Dream Cast, Playlist, etc. 

You can find our current tours listed here. Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@ToursTerminal) and Instagram (@Tours.Terminal) for upcoming tours, sign up information, and more!

Must have a valid US mailing address to apply. We are committed to protecting your personal information and your right to privacy. We do not store personal data, any and all information give to us will be discarded after each tour. Mailing addresses will be collected after tour hosts have been chosen and sent only to the publisher and not stored for any reason. If you have any questions or concerns about this privacy notice, or our practices with regards to your personal information, please contact us at booktours@thebookterminal.com.

ARC Review: A Wicked Magic

This book was given to me for review by the publisher and Fantastic Flying Book Club. After hearing all the awful things that FFBC was doing, I formally left the tour. I was supposed to post my review for their blog tour, but instead, I will simply be posting my review for the author and the publisher.

Today, I am reviewing A Wicked Magic by Sasha Laurens, a debut YA paranormal novel about two teenage witches who unwillingly band together to fix the magical mess they’ve made. This title releases on July 28th, so be sure to preorder a copy today!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets The Craft when modern witches must save teens stolen by an ancient demon in this YA fantasy-thriller debut.

Dan and Liss are witches. The Black Book granted them that power. Harnessing that power feels good, especially when everything in their lives makes them feel powerless.

During a spell gone wrong, Liss’s boyfriend is snatched away by an evil entity and presumed dead. Dan and Liss’s friendship dies that night, too. How can they practice magic after the darkness that they conjured?

Months later, Liss discovers that her boyfriend is alive, trapped underground in the grips of an ancient force. She must save him, and she needs Dan and the power of The Black Book to do so. Dan is quickly sucked back into Liss’s orbit and pushes away her best friend, Alexa. But Alexa has some big secrets she’s hiding and her own unique magical disaster to deal with.

When another teenager disappears, the girls know it’s no coincidence. What greedy magic have they awakened? And what does it want with these teens it has stolen?

Set in the atmospheric wilds of California’s northern coast, Sasha Laurens’s thrilling debut novel is about the complications of friendship, how to take back power, and how to embrace the darkness that lives within us all.

I really enjoyed this book. It was magical and fun with some very interesting characters. The beginning pulled me in quickly, but I found that the middle was pretty slow. I felt like the beginning and end were well thought and executed, but the middle was lagging in terms of action. It began to feel repetitive as the same issues rose up for Dan and Liss that they had to work through.

Alexa’s story on the other hand got my attention. I wanted to read more about her and what was going on with Lorelai’s investigation. The whole first half of the book was focused on Dan and Liss’ situation with occasional sections on Alexa – but in the second half we get to see her a lot more and that’s when things get interesting.

Focusing on the plot, this book was so good. The actual events that go on and what these girls have to face was insane and super creepy. I wish I had read this book for Halloween with the amount of creepy, eerie things that happen. I also was a bit upset about who Alexa ended up with, because I was kind of rooting for someone else. On the other hand, she ends up with a really sweet girl and seems really happy.

For the characters, we see a lot of growth between the three, especially for Liss in my opinion. Honestly, I didn’t like Liss’ character at all in the beginning, but after finding out more about her home situation and her motivation for things, I just feel sorry for her. The changes she goes through made her into a much healthier person and I loved seeing her growth. Dan also goes through a much needed change and comes out a healthier, hopefully happier, person.

One thing that I think the author was trying to make cannon was Dan’s sexuality. We know Liss is straight (or at least very interested in her boyfriend Johnny) and Alexa is gay, but we never learn about Dan. Not that it’s important, but I can’t help but wonder where the author was going for her. See, in the book, Dan comes across as ace (asexual) or somewhere along the ace spectrum. But it’s never confirmed, denied, or really discussed. Part of me wants an answer, but it doesn’t really affect the story much whether or not she is. I’m just curious, I guess.

Overall, this book was written beautifully and it dives into things like self harm, depression, abusive home life, and other important conversations like that. These issues are discussed and handled carefully and I appreciate the work the author put in to represent these topics well. Though the middle was really slow for my taste, I think this book was still awesome. I loved learning about how magic worked in this world and pairing it with real teenage problems.

I think a lot of people will not only enjoy this book, but learn that things aren’t always what they seem. So, I’m giving this a starstarstarstar // 5 stars!

 

 

Review + Blog Tour: Mayhem

I am so excited to be a part of the Mayhem blog tour through Wednesday Books! I was lucky enough to win a copy of Mayhem by Estelle Laure through the Wednesday Books giveaway, Nostalgia Hour, a couple months ago and when I saw the opportunity to jump on this blog tour, I had to take it!

Book Information:

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Here is the synopsis through Goodreads:

A YA feminist mash up inspired by The Lost Boys and The Craft.

It’s 1987 and unfortunately it’s not all Madonna and cherry lip balm. Mayhem Brayburn has always known there was something off about her and her mother, Roxy. Maybe it has to do with Roxy’s constant physical pain, or maybe with Mayhem’s own irresistible pull to water. Either way, she knows they aren’t like everyone else. But when May’s stepfather finally goes too far, Roxy and Mayhem flee to Santa Maria, California, the coastal beach town that holds the answers to all of Mayhem’s questions about who her mother is, her estranged family, and the mysteries of her own self. There she meets the kids who live with her aunt, and it opens the door to the magic that runs through the female lineage in her family, the very magic Mayhem is next in line to inherit and which will change her life for good. But when she gets wrapped up in the search for the man who has been kidnapping girls from the beach, her life takes another dangerous turn and she is forced to face the price of vigilante justice and to ask herself whether revenge is worth the cost.

From the acclaimed author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back, Estelle Laure offers a riveting and complex story with magical elements about a a family of women contending with what appears to be an irreversible destiny, taking control and saying when enough is enough.

Review:

When I read the synopsis I knew I had to read this book. Feminist mash up? Inspired by The Craft? Sign me up! I was so excited to read this book, until I start reading it. This was a really intense book that I honestly didn’t expect and I have a lot of thoughts on it. 

One thing I wish I knew going into this book was that the beginning (and some of the tones in general) are pretty heavy. In the final draft there will be a note from the author discussing some of the more serious topics in this novel, but I didn’t get a letter or a warning for the ARC. There is a lot of heaviness to this book, including rape, suicide, assault, murder, and drug abuse. I didn’t realize how intense this book was until I started reading, but Laure does a great job in discussing these issues and not just using them as a shock factor or background. While I would have liked to know those topics would be discussed, I think the author did a good job in discussing them.

I will include Laure’s note, which will be printed in final copies, below in the Author Information section.

The beginning was a bit “slow” in a way as we’re introduced to Mayhem and Roxy, as well as their past. We learn about why Roxy left Santa Maria and why they’re returning home after all these years. I like how Laure mixes in the past with the present to give one cohesive story. Though, I found that the plot of the book didn’t start until more than halfway through.

I wanted more of The Craft, feeling wise, and I didn’t get it. The majority of the book felt like a contemporary novel as Mayhem deals with her and her mother’s past once they return to Santa Maria. The fear of Mayhem’s step-father coming after them, relearning how to feel safe, dealing with her mother’s addiction – it’s a lot for a teen. And honestly, if that was the whole book, I would have been satisfied. The focus on Mayhem and her mother’s relationship, and working through their trauma, would have been a beautiful book.

But once the magic is added in, about 50% through, it changes the feel of the story. I liked the magic, though I didn’t understand it fully. My only complaint is that since the magic and this new storyline comes in late, I wish we had more time with it.

The main climatic event is fast and it left me unsatisfied. I wanted more to solving the mystery, more to the magic, and more in general.

Overall, I like the story and I loved watching Mayhem and Roxy reconnect. I thought the murder mystery was a cool aspect, though it wasn’t really touched on much. And the magic had so much potential, but it just felt underdeveloped unfortunately. Though I do love Laure’s writing and the Mayhem’s overall journey.

In the end, I would give this book a starstarstar.5 // 5 stars.

Author Information:

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Author Bio:

Estelle Laure is a Vonnegut worshipper who believes in love and magic and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theater Arts from New Mexico State University and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and thinks everyone should have to wait tables or work in a kitchen at least once in their lives. She lives in Taos, New Mexico with her children.

Author Note:

Dear Reader,

Like Mayhem, I experienced a period of time when my life was extremely unstable. I can still remember what it was like to be shaken so hard I thought my head would come off, to watch the room vibrate, to feel unsafe in my own home, to never know what was coming around the next corner. I wanted to run. I always wanted to run.

I ran to friends, but also movies and books, and although girls were more passively portrayed in movies like The Lost Boys back then, that feeling of teenagers prowling the night, taking out bad people, being unbeatable . . . that got me through it.

I guess that’s what I tried to do here. I wanted girls who feel powerless to be able to imagine themselves invincible. And yes, I used a rape as the seed for that fierce lineage, not without thought. For me, there is nothing worse, and I like to think great power can rise up as a result of a devastating trespass.

Please know I took none of this lightly. Writing this now, my heart is beating hard and my throat is dry. This is the first time I not only really looked at my own past, the pain of loss, the pain of the loss of trust that comes when someone puts hands on you without permission, the pain of people dying, the shock of suicide, and put all of it to paper in a way that made me feel victorious, strong, and warrior-like. It is also terrifying. I know I’m not the only one who had a scary childhood, and

I know I’m not the only one who clings to stories as salve to smooth over burnt skin. I am so sick of girls and women being hurt. This was my way of taking my own vengeance and trying to access forgiveness.

Thank you for reading and for those of you who can relate, I see you and you are not alone.

Estelle Laure

Related Links:

Twitter

Instagram

Pre-Order the book here!

 

ARC Review + Blog Tour: The Boundless

I am so excited for this post! This is the first blog tour that I am participating in and it’s for a book that I really loved, YAY! I received an eARC of The Boundless by Anna Bright in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss/Fantastic Flying Book Club.

Be sure to check out the other amazing reviews/posts from this tour!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

This breathtaking sequel to The Beholder will take you on a journey into a darkly sparkling fairy tale, perfect for fans of The Selection and Caraval.

When Selah found true love with Prince Torden of Norway, she never imagined she’d have to leave him behind. All because the Beholder’s true mission was a secret Selah’s crew didn’t trust her to keep: transporting weapons to the rebels fighting against the brutal tsarytsya, whose shadow looms over their next port of Shvartsval’d. A place Selah hoped she’d never go.

But gone is the girl who departed Potomac filled with fear. With a stockpile of weapons belowdecks and her heart hanging in the balance, Selah is determined to see the Beholder’s quest to its end.

Let me just add, The Beholder killed me. If you haven’t read the first book, feel free to check out my spoiler free review of The Beholder! It’s like The Bachelor – cruise ship edition.

To start, where we leave off in book 1 is where we start for book 2. And it broke my heart. I want Selah and Torden to be together and I was not happy that they were separated. It made me so upset! This book is less of the romance, happy times kind of book and it dives into a much darker tone.

I thought this shift was brilliant. As Selah gets closer towards the Imperiya, the stakes are raised. Not only do we not want to go there, but if she makes it that far, there is a serious chance of certain death. Since Selah has found her prince, there was no reason to continue with the romance hunt, so we dive into more political aspects.

I think I like The Boundless more than The Beholder for that reason.

Selah undergoes HUGE changes in this story and anyone who complained she was “whiny” or “weak” will be proven wrong in this book. She gets a strengthened back bone and learns to fight for herself, and the people she cares about. It’s such a needed and appreciated growth that it makes me like her character a lot more.

This book is dark, terrifying, and heart racing. I didn’t want to go past the beginning because I knew we were going to enter a much more serious section of the book – but it had to be done.

Now, the ending – LOVED IT. I thought this was a great wrap up and while I wish we could have had a book 3, I think Anna does an amazing job ending this story and giving us not only a tale we can enjoy, but one we can learn from.

Since I like this book more than The Beholder, I think it deserves a better rating. There wasn’t much that I didn’t like about the story, though I didn’t want it to end. I have to give The Boundless starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars.

Thanks again, Fantastic Flying Book Club for letting me participate in your blog tour of The Boundless by Anna Bright! This book releases on Tuesday, June 9th, so if you are interested in reading the sequel to The Beholder, be sure to preorder a copy through the links below!

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Book Depository

Kobo

Google Books

Author Information

anna bright

Anna Bright is an indie bookseller by day and an author by night who still gets in trouble for reading when she’s supposed to be doing other things. When not hiding out among books, she loves concerts, roller coasters, and adventures at home and abroad. Anna lives with her husband and cat in a charming cobblestoned neighborhood in Washington, DC, but you can find her online at http://www.annabrightbooks.com and on Twitter and Instagram at @brightlyanna.

AUTHOR LINKS

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17310926.

Anna Bright Website: https://www.annabrightbooks.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/brightlyanna

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brightlyanna/?hl=en

Tumblr: https://merryandbr1ght.tumblr.com/

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If this book sounds interesting, be sure to check out The Selection by Keira Cass.

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!