Blog Tour (Q&A + Review): Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

wickedsaints.jpgWhat is your most anticipated 2019 debut?

Well, I’m here to introduce you to mine. Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan is a seductively dark and entrancing new fantasy novel, kicking off a series that will undoubtedly be one of the most talked about for years to come. I devoured this book in less than a day and you WILL NOT see the plot twists coming until they’ve knocked you off your feet and are standing over you. Make sure your sitting for the last chapters of this one!

That said, I am so thrilled to be apart of the Wicked Saints blog tour and had the chance to ask Emily A. Duncan herself some questions. Continue reading for our exchange, my review and more information on this enticing new story.

I love how Wicked Saints combines Slavic folklore, morally grey characters and even a nod of Joan of Arc. How was Wicked Saints born?

Procrastination, Skyrim, and a lot of metal music. There was actually never any Joan of Arc — that came later, as a marketing comp — I had more in mind Dungeons and Dragons clerics when I was forming the magic system and the world.

Which character surprised you the most during the writing process?

Malachiasz. I didn’t plan for him. He was never in early drafts. He was supposed to be in the book for a grand total of three chapters before he went off to do his own thing but then he refused to leave. Not only did he refuse to leave, he pulled the whole story out of my hands and decided to put himself at the heart of it. I adore him, he’s the worst.

(We all adore Malachiasz.)

What book would you recommend to each of your three main characters?emilyaduncan

Oh, man. Malachiasz needs a self help book… Actually… they all need self help books. Oh, god, someone help them.

EMILY A. DUNCAN works as a youth services librarian. She received a Master’s degree in library science from Kent State University, which mostly taught her how to find obscure Slavic folklore texts through interlibrary loan systems. When not reading or writing, she enjoys playing copious amounts of video games and dungeons and dragons. Wicked Saints is her first book. She lives in Ohio.


DESCRIPTION

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy.


REVIEW

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

HOT DAMN THIS WAS INSANE.

Launching myself into the sun would be less stressful than reading the final chapters of this book. Emily A. Duncan is the maestro of dark boys and probably evil gods. Emily is a bloodmage and this is her spellbook, I am entranced.

Wicked Saints is a bold and creative novel that takes some of our best loved themes and flips them on their head. This remarkable dark fantasy debut is rooted in a Slavic inspired world that will hold you hostage. Once you get started, you won’t be able to look away.

This is the type of story that will seek deep into your bones and consume you. I’ve seen it compared to Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse and while there are similarities and certainly appeal to fans of the aforementioned, Wicked Saints is wholly and uniquely its own story. There is nothing quite like it that I’ve read.

The story follows three characters – a young cleric and conduit of the Gods, a runaway heretic magic and a sassy alcoholic prince. These are the characters I didn’t know I needed. These are the characters you didn’t know you needed.

Full of witty banter and a chilling atmosphere, Wicked Saints soars to the top of my favorite debuts list. The hype is well deserved, you need this stunning book (inside and out!) on your shelf.

Thank you to Wednesday Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review and inviting me to be a host on the blog tour.

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Blog Tour + Review: The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie

thelastvoyageofpoeblytheHappy Thursday, fellow readers! I am so pleased to be talking with you about The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie from Dutton Books for Young Readers. Most recognized as the author of the wildly popular Matched trilogy, this was actually my first Ally Condie book and I blew through the book and audiobook in less than a day.

This book is out NOW and you can follow the links below to grab your own copy. The physical book is absolutely stunning (I mean, look at those deep blue and gold tones, swoon!) and the audiobook was well done. Whatever format you prefer, this is a new YA release you NEED on your shelves.

Thank you to Dutton Books for Young Readers (Penguin Teen) for sending me a finished copy and inviting me to be a host on the blog tour. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have been included.


DESCRIPTION

Who do you become when you have nothing left to lose?

There is something Poe Blythe, the seventeen-year-old captain of the Outpost’s last mining ship, wants far more than the gold they tear from the Serpentine River.

Revenge. 

Poe has vowed to annihilate the river raiders who robbed her of everything two years ago. But as she navigates the treacherous waters of the Serpentine and realizes there might be a traitor among her crew, she must also reckon with who she has become, who she wants to be, and the ways love can change and shape you. Even–and especially–when you think all is lost.

Intricately crafted and emotionally gripping, The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe is the compelling story of one young woman’s journey to move beyond the grief and anger that control her and find the inner strength to chart her own course.


REVIEW

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe is one of those books that sneaks up on you. Its strong in a silent sort of way, stringing you along page after page until you realize, near the end, that the story is more powerful than you could have ever imagined it to be. It’s a desperate story of survival and touching in its own sort of feral and savage way. It shows us that living is more than just waking the following day and going about our routines.

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The story focuses primarily on Poe Blythe, her story of revenge and seeking her own form of survival – through some of the most barbaric means. From the very first chapter, this book will pull at your heart strings. I felt such a fierce pull toward this story from just that first chapter, which does a superb job of setting the stage for the rest of the book.

In addition to Poe’s story, Condie has created a fascinating dystopian world that I would absolutely read more of. I loved every aspect we were given, from Poe’s settlement, to the river mining to how those outside the settlement live. It is clear that Condie put her heart into every aspect of creating this story.

Additionally, there is a huge mystery subplot – as Poe tries to discover who on her team can be trusted and who is seeking every opportunity to betray her trust. I did NOT see those plot twists coming and by the end I couldn’t help but to think, “I wish this wasn’t a standalone!” Seriously, I would read the next chapter in this story immediately.

Overall, this book is so incredibly underrated and deserves all of the praise, word-of-mouth and readership. I loved every underlying theme, particularly how one can find a path, a place they belong, even after everything has been ripped away from them. The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe is a must read new release, with fantastic crossover appeal and will absolutely be one of my favorite reads of the 2019.

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Review: Blade & Rose by Miranda Honfleur

Review of Blade & Rose by Miranda Honfleur

Series: Blade & Rose #1

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆


DESCRIPTION

A kingdom in turmoil or the love of her life. Which one will she save?

Elementalist Rielle hasn’t heard from her best friend in far too long. Yet no one at the Tower of Magic seems to care about Olivia’s silence, or the curtain of secrecy surrounding the distant capital. Before Rielle can investigate, she’s assigned a strange new mission: escort a paladin named Jon across the kingdom.

When whispers reveal mercenaries have killed the king, taken the capital, and that no one is coming to help, Rielle can’t leave Olivia in peril. But as infamous mages and deadly assassins hunt Jon, she can’t leave him unprotected either—especially as she finds herself falling for his strength, his passion, and his uncompromising goodness. Her past returns to haunt her, a werewolf stalks their steps, and an ancient evil is gathering, yet the restraints forbidding their love strain and snap one by one.

Saving Olivia and the kingdom means defying orders and sacrificing her every ambition, and could mean losing the man who’s become so much more to her than a mission. Which will she choose: her best friend and the kingdom, or the love of her life?

Dive into a medieval world sensual and dark, full of magic and greed, love and blades, where factions vie for influence and there are no easy choices.


REVIEW

One thing I am always looking for is fantasy stories with a new adult vibe. This book absolutely fits that bill and I loved it! This is the type that I could binge and binge and binge on and I am definitely looking forward to the next.

My only caveats are that it’s a little insta-lovey, there could be clearer world building and it probably doesn’t need to be 600+ pages long. However, the characters have riveting back stories and the pacing is on point. This book does not stop giving in the action department. It’s a non stop ride!

Note that this book does have a heavy romance subplot and trigger warning for physical abuse and sexual manipulation/abuse. These are not terribly huge aspects of the plot.

I love the complex relationships between the characters in this and the author did a fine job of giving some of the more morally gray characters redeeming qualities that kept you guessing at your own loyalties.

Overall I HIGHLY recommend this if you’re looking for a book with an adult atmosphere but more YA fantasy vibes. This is it! I am DYING to start the next one but I have other books I’m obligated to read first and it’s killing me!

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[ARC] Review: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Review of The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Series: The Gilded Wolves #1

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press/Wednesday Books for sending me a review copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


DESCRIPTION

No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.

It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history—but only if they can stay alive.


REVIEW

Don’t capture their hearts. Steal their imagination. It’s far more useful.

The Gilded Wolves is a wonderful, powerful and imaginative story, teeming with representation for marginalized groups and with a superb cast of unforgettable characters.

With lush descriptions and thought provoking narratives, I was swept into the world of Belle Époque Paris. Roshani does a wonderful job of painting a world teaming with life, while shining a strong light onto those who pay for other’s privileges.

This book is PERFECT for fans of Six of Crows. If you are in dire need of #squadgoals and heists, this is the book for you. I absolutely adore how these characters work together, how each has their own specialty and their backstories – particularly what brought them into Séverin’s life.

Anything could fall. Towers that scraped the heavens, Houses with pockets deeper than empires, shining seraphs who had once been in the confidence of God. Even families who were supposed to love you. Nothing was invincible but change.

Séverin is the heir to a fallen House. Disgraced and forgotten, Séverin is a highly complex character whose main goal is the gain back everything he’s been denied. You will find yourself regularly charmed by and frustrated with him. He is my next favorite character of 2019 and I was constantly LIVING for his POV chapters in this book.

Enrique hit close to home for me, as my grandfather emigrated to the United States from the Philippines in the 1920s. I adore his character immensely, his dry humor and constant exasperation with his compatriots, and support him 110%.

If you get in the way of a woman’s battle, you’ll get in the way of her sword.

Laila is her own mystery and a tantalizing one at that. Battling with her identity and feelings, she is probably the strongest personality of this book and the glue that holds everyone together. Serious #momfriend over here. Just don’t tell her I said that.

Zofia is too damn smart for her own good. No really, her character represents several groups rarely featured in fantasy literature. As the mother of an autistic child, I loved Zofia’s narrative and analytical mind. Roshani did a great job of portraying Zofia and I cannot wait to see her discover more of herself in the sequel.

Tristan is so lovely and sweet, I loved everything he brought to the page and how everyone seeks to protect him while all he wants is to feel useful. His relationship with Séverin is so important for the story and a driving force for much of the future plot.

It seemed the world couldn’t help but want to be near her . . . every beam of light, pair of eyes, atom of air. Maybe that’s why sometimes he couldn’t breathe around her.

While I certainly loved the plot of this and the world Roshani has created – I was absolutely ravenous for one of the romance subplots. It was so angsty, with history and wanting and I swear I was absolutely riveted every time these characters interacted with each other. I cannot wait to see where their relationship goes in the sequel – which has a fantastic set up in that regard as well.

Additionally, there are other romantic subplots hinted at in this including possible gay and bisexual feelings and I am just HERE FOR IT. These characters are still discovering their sexual identity and I am readily holding their hand through it all. I SUPPORT YOU.

My only complaint is that some of the historical and scientific descriptions can be a little lengthy and hard to follow. However, I loved the almost “treasure hunt” life vibe to this and easily looked past these instances.

Overall, this book opens a rich and vibrant world with a dark underbelly, unexpected twists and suffering, and is truly a statement piece for those under the heel of colonialism, racism and prejudice. The book ends with a captivating set up for the second book that will have you screaming from the rafters and dying for more!

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[ARC] Review: Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway

Review of Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway

Series: Glass Alliance #1

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Thank you to Tor Teen for sending me a review copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


DESCRIPTION

He was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner’s Curse in Joanna Hathaway’s Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.


REVIEW

I LOVED this book and am now obsessed with this world. A fantasy world at war inspired by World War II-era Europe? It is just as beautiful and bittersweet as it sounds.

Some books move so slowly you feel as though your soul is being sucked away. Other books move at a steady progression, building and building, while you know a sudden crescendo will bring it all crashing down. This is the latter and it’s still building.

The MOMENT I finished I went back to read the Prologue straight away and it just hit me SO. DAMN. HARD. Seriously, read the book and then read the prologue again. Good luck keeping those tears at bay. I knew it likely took place later in Aurelia and Athan’s story, but it doesn’t take place at the end of this book and we are still learning about these two, their relationship and what will bring them to that point in the prologue. There is still so much to come.

And let me just say, this book is written and plotted fantastically. Ingeniously. The characters have a well of depth, much of it still to be discovered. Hathaway paints these characters well. They are young. They are impressionable. They want to be heard and want to please. They are teenagers. They are realistic.

As I was reading, I couldn’t help but think of movies like Atonement – and I just have this sickening feeling we are headed down a very similar path, but I also can’t look away. I know this story is gritty and the world Hathaway has written is sweeping and golden in its detail. I know there are dark things to come and things are only just beginning but I have to know. I have to know these two will eventually get their mountain.

This is a story about the desperation of war and love and finding your voice. THIS is the type of story that will stick with you. THIS is the type of story that should be written and I’m so very grateful it was.

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On Sale Date: February 5th 2019

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[ARC] Review: Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye

Review of Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Thank you to the Balzer + Bray for sending me a review copy via Edelweiss and finished copy in exchange for an honest review.


DESCRIPTION

Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied behind his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.

As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging to the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark. So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group.Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.


REVIEW

This was one of my most anticipated 2019 releases, but it just wasn’t for me.

Instead, it was exhausting. And also one of my biggest letdowns as of late. It started off great, then got soooo slow, then weird and unconvincing. Honestly, I’m really proud of myself for actually having finished this – I was so close to DNFing it and that is something I adamantly try to avoid. I try limit myself to one read and one audiobook at a time, but I became so disinterested in this that I set it aside multiple times. It took me almost three weeks to finish this and in that time I finished eight other books.

Maybe it’s just me? Hopefully it’s just me because I WANT this book and author to be successful – but I really feel like there was so much untapped potential here.

The story started out with a truly fantastic premise. Bonded warriors, a unique magic system and intriguing mythology! However, after our two main characters infiltrate the enemy’s forces, the action and progression of the story really felt as though it fell to the wayside. For most of this book I felt as if things were dead in the water.

Near the end, the story became incredibly over-the-top and just plain weird. Not to mention, the romance aspect in this went in a totally unexpected and uncomfortable direction. One of the main characters is approached romantically while recovering from hallucinogens and it wasn’t even treated as wrong. I really couldn’t make sense of how the romance in this took a complete 180 – it was just so forced and convoluted.

Overall, I felt as though Circle of Shadows definitely deserved a little more polishing before it hit the shelves. I will be speaking about it on my Instagram soon – as I am apart of the tour (I am super excited and grateful for this!) – unfortunately this just wasn’t for me. I certainly hope others will enjoy it more than I did!

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On Sale Date: January 22nd 2019

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[ARC] Review: Analiese Rising by Brenda Drake

Review of Analiese Rising by Brenda Drake

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Thank you to Entangled Teen for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley and the author for a finished copy in exchange for an honest review.


DESCRIPTION

Half-Blood meets Antigoddess in a thrilling, romantic new series from New York Times bestselling author Brenda Drake.

When a stranger gives Analiese Jordan a list of names before he dies, the last thing she expects to see is her own on it. Not. Cool. Her search for answers leads to the man’s grandson, Marek, who has dangerous secrets of his own. Both are determined to unlock the mystery of the list.

But the truth is deadly. Analiese is a descendant of the God of Death, known as a Riser, with the power to raise the dead and control them. Finding out she has hidden powers? Cool. Finding out she turns corpses into killers? No, thank you.

Now the trail plants her and Marek in the middle of a war between gods who apparently want to raise an army of the Risen, and Analiese must figure out how to save the world—from herself.


REVIEW

Analiese Rising is a fun and fast-paced story that takes its reader from the streets of New York City to Rome to Paris.

Analiese, a girl shouldered with grief and anxiety, is shocked when she is approached by a man moments before his death and given a cryptic message. Among his personal belongings she discovers a list with names of the deceased, as well as her own. Analiese soon finds herself thrown into a hunt of monumental proportions, alongside the man’s grandson, Marek – the only other person in the world who can help her find answers.

Overall, this story was a little predictable and cliche, but certainly pleasurable with an aire of urgency. Brenda Drake did a wonderful job conveying the haste behind Analiese and Marek’s search, as well as adding in fair bits of humor and romance. The almost quest-like nature of this book kept the pacing on point and the puzzles always had my mind working. I thoughly enjoyed the introduction of gods and goddesses, particulary those more obscure and how she blended their traits and talents into the story.

If you enjoy urban fantasy, cryptology, mystery and mythology – this is the perfect read for you!

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Be sure to checkout my bookstagram for more information on Analiese Rising and a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

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