Werewolves, and vampires, and bears, OH MY!

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THE entertainment world goes through phases all the time, but one that seems to have always stuck around in some form has been the supernatural.

Vampires were hot some ten years ago with YA books like TWILIGHT and VAMPIRE ACADEMY and VAMPIRE DIARIES which brought them to a much younger audience than that of books like INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE or movies like BLADE and shows like TRUE BLOOD. It seemed for a time that we were saturated in them. But the supernatural elements of vampires, werewolves, and ghouls and goblins never really disappear. They just lay low for a while.

Sometime last year I saw a post on Twitter’s #mswl (manuscript wishlist) where agents were asking for vampire novels, and the internet went wild. To sum up the tweets, vampires need a comeback. Not long after that there were calls for witches and werewolves and folks, I am HERE FOR IT.

When Renée Ahdieh announced her new YA title, THE BEAUTIFUL, fans went wild. Not long after that, fellow best-selling author, Jay Kristoff announced his own, EMPIRE OF THE VAMPIRE. Olivia Wildenstein released her YA werewolf novel, PACK OF BLOOD AND LIES in April (if you haven’t picked that one up, do it NOW!) with the sequel releasing soon.

Witches never seem to go away, and authors keep coming up with brand new ways to portray them. SERPENT and DOVE by SHELBY MAHURIN is one that is releasing this year that comes to mind. Also, THE BLOOD HEIR by Amelie Zao.

But where are my werewolves? SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater had a good long run with her Mercy Falls series, NIGHTSHADE, and Patricia Briggs with her Mercy Thompson series and Alpha and Omega dominate the NA crowd. So, where are they in the YA world?

With UNSPOKEN, I did not initially intend it to be a shifter novel. But, as a pantser, I let the ideas flow as I write and never truly plan ahead of time. So, when the story took hold and formed, I found myself face to face with a sort of werewolf story-line that, after much research, shifted (no pun intended) into something much much more than the usual trope.

I have always had an obsession with wolves. They peek into my stories in subtle ways and, in the case of UNSPOKEN, massive ways. I once wrote a book when I was younger called The Leader of the Pack, which was essentially The Lion King with wolves. After that, I wrote another about a princess and her wolf guardian. After UNSPOKEN, I found myself making the wolf a central, but ambiguous character in my King Arthur retelling IRON to LACE (unpublished and under revision currently) and a spooky Red Riding Hood retelling, EVERY BROKEN THING (still underway)

Wolves are not going anywhere in my writing. But stick around because I promise you they will not get boring.

The Gwylis in UNSPOKEN is taken from Welsh mythology and, like the werewolves of legend that you know, they are cursed. But this curse they did to themselves by making a pact with demons for power to overcome their enemies. So, ultimately, what we have is both a curse and a gift. I twisted up what people knew and made it my own. If you want wolves, I have wolves: killer ones, good ones, and ones with serious bad attitudes with book-boyfriend hair.

That all being said, I’d like to present the cover:

Isn’t it gorgeous????!!! The team at PARLIAMENT HOUSE PRESS brought the goods! What we see a mashup of the two worlds that our protagonist, Izzy, must choose between; the castle she will inherit or the wilds of the unknown.

Unspoken is up on Goodreads! Add it to your WANT TO READ and any lists of your choosing! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41180912-unspoken

I would love to hear your thoughts and questions. I’m around any time so connect with me here, or Insta, Twitter, Goodreads, anywhere!

The wolves are coming. Shhhhhhh.

UNSPOKEN COVER REVEAL: THE WOLVES ARE COMING.

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The cover reveal for my debut is in just three days and to celebrate, I will be doing a giveaway for ANY NEW RELEASE BOOK OF YOUR CHOICE! All details will be on both my Instagram and PHP so make sure to follow both to stay up to date. I am so excited to show this cover to you all!

Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_bookeaters_daughter/

Follow Parliament House on Instagram for all the details:http:// https://www.instagram.com/theparliamentpress/

If you’re interested in being part of the Bookstagram cover reveal, sign up here! IF YOU MAKE AN ORIGINAL PHOTO FOR THE BOOK< YOU WILL BE ENTERED INTO THE GIVEAWAY with THREE EXTRA ENTRIES! https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc-5PVHXIkFPQmnEuWFa0pkLG3weNw8DeNStFPQ20pTRw3HJw/viewform

If you want an arc, sign up here! https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdlAt9sa2IPivHjScPvAOU5f5vTxfwfVrtEEyHVrH21oXJjxg/viewform

And LASTLY! If you want to be part of the blog tour when UNSPOKEN releases in the fall, sign up here! https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSea30yNh_LPixsz9PIDDt21ybq5CFVGjBvKayHnEa4JcuCWRw/viewform

The Bone Shard Daughter: Review

I feel like reading this book was a complete honor.

THE BONE SHARD DAUGHTER first popped up on my Instagram (bookstagram) and I fell head over heel with the cover. But like a lot of readers out there, I had to twiddle my thumbs and wait for the release to behold its majesty. When it finally popped up on NetGalley, I screamed a glass-shattering scream that echoes into the trenches of the earth and I dove with regard for my life or the lives of others.

Thank you, NetGalley and Orbit for a chance to review this title.

I don’t throw around “favorite book of 2020” or “best fantasy I’ve ever read,” that often but this falls into both categories. With a whopping five POV’s, it tells the story of a girl wanting to please her father, a smuggler who gets in way over his head, a governor’s daughter teetering on the rebellion, her girl-friend, and a woman on an island full of people who do not remember their lives before arriving. They start off on five different journies that gradually begin to connect with a heart-stopping ending that had me gasping for breath.

I’m going to focus on the two characters that stuck with my most. Lin and Jovis. Jovis, the smuggler who is searching for his missing wife. He creates a reputation for stealing children from the empire and returning them to their families before they have their bone shards removed. Bone shards, by the way, are a way for the emperor to create constructs. I get to them in a minute. So, Jovis becomes a kid smuggler who meets up with a rebellion and he thinks, ok, why not. But Jovis is a complicated character, formerly one track-minded and suddenly finding himself neck-deep in treason. But along with the aid of a mysterious creature named Mephi, whom he’d saved from drowning, he may be of use to these rebels, if it means finding his long lost wife. I loved Jovis and Mephi’s growing relationshi and I have a feeling it’s going to get stronger in the sequel.

Lin is the daughter of the emperor. her POV felt entirely disconnected from the others and focused on her life within the palace where her father, foster brother, and a load of constructs live. Constructs are creatures born from dead animals and controlled by bone shard magic. Commands are written on these bone shards and placed inside the creatures. The terrifying moments involving the constructs and Lin’s determination to show her father that she’s worthy of his love had me holding my breath. Absolutely scary. The plot twists in her POV were staggering and so well done, I want to bow at the author’s feet for a job well done.

Sometimes in life, we let moments pass and when we think back we’re like, “wow. I was in the presence of something incredible and I think it changed me.” I knew, reading this book, that I was holding something monumental. This will be the best fantasy of 2020 and maybe even the best book of 2020, marks my words. You don’t want to miss this one for the world.

FInd me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/celiamcmahonreads/

Plagiarism Alert! This is all your Fault: Review

Imagine this, you read the synopsis of a story called I Laugh in the Face of Danger. It’s about a young boy named Rimba who leaves his kingdom after his uncle threatens to out him for accidentally causing a stampede of kilderbeast. Rimba meets Simone and Rumba and he grows up pretending his father never died and he does not have a kingdom. Until Fala returns and reminds him of his duty to his country. There are a few songs, one called Why Do I Have to Wait to Be King?, and The Love has Feelings Tonight. It got an agent and a big publisher. What a most original story!

That is what this book is: a huge ripoff of Empire Records down to the very classic scenes. We have a bookstore going out of business, a boy who loses money trying to save it, and a group of kids who do everything they can to keep the store open. We have our “Deb” who shaves her head in the employee bathroom, we have our “Corey” who is in love with the author who’s coming to the store to promote his book AKA REX MANNING and we have the exact scene where the sleaze hits on our Corey and lovely Gina picks up the sloppy seconds down to the SLAP and the breakdown. AND NO SHIT DO THESE KIDS THROW AN EVENT TO SAVE THE STORE. The author did not attempt to hide it. She actually put it, “Damn the man, Save Wild Nights!” mirroring the scene in Empire Records, ‘Damn the Man, Save the Empire!”

You guys, I cannot make this up. I am literally shaking, I am so angry. Empire Records is one of my favorite movies of ALL TIME. I know the movie scene by scene by scene. I cannot fathom how this book got through dozens and dozens of readers, editors, etc and nobody said, “Hey, this is too much like the movie and is treading on dangerous ground.”

This book is plagiarism down to the core.

Feiwel and Friends, you should be ashamed of yourselves for buying this work and publishing it. I may get blacklisted for reviewing their books for this, but I don’t care. This is not an original work and should have never been put forth for publishing.

Cut Off: Review

Thank you, Edelweiss and the publisher for the e-arc!

Okay so I’m basically a wh&*e for survival stories. Pitch me something about kids on an island or game show or fight to the death and I will read it. Being lost in the wilderness is one of my favorite tropes of all time, but this one took it to a whole new level.

Cut Off is a reality show a group of people get dumped somewhere and have to stick it out using the resources they have. If you’ve ever watched ALONE, you’ll understand the concept. Funny thing is, they mention Vancouver Island in this book and that was the site of ALONE for a few seasons so there’s an inspiration in there somewhere. The book starts off with a BANG right out of the park. As the story progresses we see tidbits of who the last contestant is and how to battle against the sudden disappearance of…well, everyone. They begin encountering rapid dogs, earthquakes, spiders, and even a manic person reminiscent of a killer zombie, and they start to think, okay, something is definitely up.

I got some Inception, Thousand Pieces of You, and even Divergent with the fearscapes. But I loved all those books (and movie) so I loved CUT OFF. It was a fun, quick read with nonstop action.

Oh, and I live in Washington and I love when books are set here! I’m a total sucker for them.

Adrianne, I hope you read this review because I had so much fun reading CUT OFF. I can’t wait to add it my shelf and bookstgram the crap out of it 😀

Crownchasers: review

HOLY BALLS, YOU GUYS. This book was FIRE. I mean, I knew going in that I was in for a treat, but who knew that treat has rainbow jimmies and not one but TWO cherries. Gosh, now I’m hungry and excited and I cannot wait to hold this book in my grubby book hoarder hands that have now grown twice their size since finishing this here book. This masterpiece of YA sci-fi. This diamond in the rough.

Ok, review time.

I’ll delve first into the voice of the novel, Alyssa Farshot. I love me some sassy protags who feel like I’m reading about myself. Alyssa’s voice is what drew me into the novel before the story even ramped up. She’s honest and fearless and sarcastic. She reminded me sooooo much of Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly. She doesn’t want the crown that she’s forced into fighting for nor does she want it to fall into the hands of someone who would not treat it right. She has this wall built up around her, but it comes down little by little and we get these glimpses of someone who just does not want to get hurt. She’s our bisexual rep, which is so refreshing.

I loved that the romance does not take center stage. It’s organic the way Alyssa interacts with her ex, Faye, and current, Hell Monkey (yes, that’s his name and it’s amazing). I know some people will be disappointed, but what do you expect when you’re in a race involving dogfights and wormholes and whatnot?

The world-building was fun. The author has a way of letting your mind fill in the details without it being too scarce to visualize nothing. The different plants and people we meet along the way stand out on their own.

I adored this book. I will adore it forever and ever. I will dm the author on Instagram like the creep I am and tell her so.

Thank you Edelweiss and the publisher for the e-arc. 😀

These Violent Delights: Review

Here I am once again telling you all about a reimagining that just did not grab me.

Honestly, we don’t get enough Romeo and Juliet reimaginings in the YA world (unless I’m missing some. Let me know!) especially ones with such a unique setting. So naturally, I requested this here novel from Edelweiss (thank you btw, you continue to shower me in literature). Like the play, we have two rival gangs vying for a piece of the city. In the center of it all we have Juliette and Roma, the respective heirs of both Scarlett Gang and White Flowers. When a madness begins to spread throughout the city, the “star-crossed lovers” find themselves teaming up for the common good.

First things first. Chloe Gong’s writing is impeccable, and I know she has poured her soul into this book and has taken the time to write and rewrite a million times, but please, teach me your ways! I love the way she builds this world to a point where you think you’re actually there, eating its food and battling its monsters.

Unfortunately, the beautiful writing couldn’t save my rating. There’s a lot going on in this book. Gong takes the simple enemy to lovers trope and turns it upside down and fills it with politics and manufactured murderous insects, which felt fantastical for 1920’s Shangai. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a complete idiot when it comes to history and most of it I learn from my husband’s long-winded dinner conversations. But my mind went everywhere with this book. At first, I couldn’t get Baz Luhrmann’s rendition of the play out of my head. I wanted Tyler to dig a steel toe boot into the dirt and squint at me in that sexy way John Leguizamo did to my teenage hormones. But its unfair to compare the two at all, I know.

I went in for the enemy to lovers trope. I mean, it’s Romeo and Juliet, right? My expectations fell flat. I was expecting a more fleshed out, sweet romance. I did not see much of that. Juliette and Roma were once lovers years ago, so this isn’t the first time they’ve delved into a relationship with each other. But all of that was off-page, in the past.

I will continue the series, just to read Gong’s prose and drool over it. I am hoping the story draws me in a bit more than the first

Writers write the books they want to write and we are not forced to like them. I appreciate it what Chloe Gong did to Shakespeare; it’s no easy undertaking. And I look forward to what she does in the future.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn

Thank you Edelweiss and the publisher for e-arc! My ongoing love of this platform continues to bloom when I get approved for books like this. If I could only get on the physical arc train, I’d be a made woman.

Speaking of physical copies, I bet this cover looks delicious in person. HAVE YOU SEEN THIS COVER???

GIRL, SERPENT, THORN took me for a wild ride, I expected one thing, only to be thrown into another and then kept under until I couldn’t breathe and flipped upside down in mid-air and brought back down. The inspiration for this book was taken from ancient Persia and who doesn’t love a book inspired by ancient Persia? Not this girl.

So, this book is about a girl who was cursed three days after her birth. Anyone who touches her skin will die. She lives in seclusion and even her own family seems to shun her. When she meets a soldier, she finds herself connected to him and with his help, discovers secrets to her curse that she never fathomed.

Ok, so that sounds pretty straightforward, but NOOOOOOOOOOO The twists and turns gave me whiplash. We start with a soft character in Soraya, but with good reason. She’s inexperienced and hermit-like. I may even venture that she is even unloved, even by her family. Her character arc comes full circle by the last 50 pages or so. Some may shun me for this but I love when books start out with the sad little protagonists who eventually shift into badass heroines with fierce looks who bare their teeth and kill without abandon. I may be a simple girl with simple needs.

I had some really strong Stolen Songbird vibes at one point, which is fine. I loved that book. Also Labyrinth in one or two scenes. Which is also fine. That’s one of my favorite movies of all time.

The only word I can think of to describe this book is intriguing. Don’t read this book thinking you know what’s going to happen. You don’t. It will destroy you. Don’t come crying to me.

Skyhunter: Review

Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for the advance copy!

I don’t even know how to start this review. My stomach hurts, and my heart aches, and I feel like the world is spinning without me. I don’t want to live a life outside of the one Marie Lu created. I yearn for Red and Talin. This book was everything the cover suggests. My words will not do it justice.

Talin, a voiceless refugee from a Federation conquered territory joins the elite force of Strikers in the city of Mara. She and her team battle Ghosts, the Federation’s ghastly experiments and attempt to push them away from taking over their city. When a runaway from the Federation is caught, Talin sees something different in the man that should be her enemy. Instead, she finds a loyal and fearsome warrior and Talin finds herself rescuing him from execution-only for her Firstblade to assign him as her Shield. Now attached to the Red, in more ways than one, she and her loyal friends discover a way to beat the Ghosts, if all goes according to plan.

The first thing I noticed about this book was that we’re getting a slow burn romance. SLOW BURN. I mean we get hints of what both Red and Talin feel, but it’s natural and in no way insta-love. Instead, there’s a bond that goes beyond that and we see it with stark clarity. I just wanted to hugh them both and tell them it’s going to be OK.

Then there’s the writing. Holy crap. I think Marie Lu is evolving. Every time I read a book of hers, it’s better and better. I feel like her next book is literally going to break my heart and make me sob for days.

I haven’t read a YA book this good in a long time.

This will definitely be a book for my shelf. I recommend it to…everyone. Everyone needs to read this. The End.

Agnes at the End of the World: Review

Here is a list of two things that go together:

  1. Macaroni and Cheese
  2. Peanut Butter and Jelly
  3. Bacon and Eggs
  4. Pros and Cons
  5. Coffee and Me
  6. Cults and pandemics

wait, what?

Welcome to my review of AGNES AT THE END OF THE WORLD. In other words, a review of one of the best books I’ve read in 2020 or, like, ever.

Agnes and her siblings live in Red Creek, a fundamentalist cult ruled by their Prophet and the Patriarchs. In order to keep her diabetic brother alive, Agnes sneaks out to get insulin from the “outsiders”, or people who live out in the real world of sin. It’s there that she first learns of a pandemic going on outside her community. Privy to this, Red Creek’s Prophet prepares to order his people into an underground bunker to escape the apocalypse (aka, drinking the Kool-aid). Agnes, seeing this as certain for her sick brother, plans to escape, taking her chances on a world-wide pandemic than let her brother die a slow death without his medicine.

AGNES is told in a split POV narrative. Sisters Agnes and Beth are on their own paths of accepting the truths about Red Creek’s past and it’s inevitable end. Both have their own core beliefs and their own strengths that guide them through breaking free of what they were raised to become. It was hard reading about the situations the women in Red Creek endured. There were a lot of Handmaid’s Tale, The Grace Year, etc themes in this book. My blood was boiling and I was screaming in FEMINIST. But I digress…

I didn’t know exactly what I was getting into (I hardly read reviews at all until I’ve read the book in its entirety) and this book took some turns I did not expect. The virus described in the book mirrored what we’re going through right now, without the nesting thing and a few other things…ok it’s not the same, but I felt for the Outsiders. It was startlingly real and terrifying, what a pandemic can do.

This novel was part Branch Davidians, part all the pandemic books you can imagine but throw in some Clive Barker and Margaret Atwood, a great diabetic rep, strong females, kind boys (I’m looking at you Danny and Cory. Let’s talk about Cory for a split second. That character arc though) and you have a recipe for perfection.

I loved this book from start to satisfying finish.

Read if: you love cults and dystopian societies.
Don’t read: if you don’t like Christian themes.

Under the Surface: Review

Before I start this review, let me say that I am so glad I got the chance to read this. I thank Instagram for connecting me with so many bloggers, reviewers, and authors. One of those is Sonya Blake.

I received this book for review purposes. This does not, in any way, affect my rating.

I don’t read enough paranormal romance and I’m wondering why. The ones I do pick up I end up really liking. But they typically involve vamps or werewolves or even ghosts. Never have I read one involving a siren, a selkie, and a skinwalker.

Yes, you heard right.

After a bad breakup, Kaia moves from the south to the east coast where she plans to sell her parent’s home. But before she settles in, she meets Sam, a fisherman. After an accident sends them both plunging into the Atlantic, Kaia discovers that she’s a siren. And f87k-boy Sam finds himself falling for her.

In the midst of a steamy (I can’t wait to tell you about the sexy scenes OMG) romance, Kaia finds herself in a battle with a local siren clan while Sam confronts his own secrets. Both fights could rip these two apart if they let it.

I can’t remember the last time I fell in love with a book couple. I mean, I’m rooting for these two, to the ends of the earth BUT LIFE WANTS TO KEEP THEM APART AND I CANNOT STAND IT. UGH. The romance was sweet, not insta-love per se, but way steamier than Maas or Ward could ever put to words. I mean, this one scene…and then this other one….and then THAT ONE.

Well-written, impressive characters, drool-worthy sex scenes, extreme power plays, an antagonist to truly hate, this book is for anyone who likes J.R Ward, Patricia Briggs, and Charlaine Harris, to name a few that come to mind. I definitely think everyone should give Kaia and Sam a try.

Shielded: Review

This is one of those rare, fun-loving, heart-breaking, terrifically plotted books that suck you right in from page one. Jenna is a top-notch heroine; brave, level-headed, and strong. And don’t me started on the cover. I can’t wait to hold the finished copy in my hands and take lots of bookstgram pics with it because that is what I do with pretty books. I love them and squeeze them and make sure the world knows about them.

Jennesara, who is our protagonist, has a head on her shoulders. She loves to sword-fight, but her father, the king, frowns upon it. When he marries her off to a neighboring kingdom, she swallows her stubbornness and obeys, if only for the good of her kingdom. She’s brave in more ways than one in that she puts her kingdom before her own well-being. But when it is time to fight for her own life, she does so without hesitation. She’s tough in a way that is self-taught and not overly done. She’s not a warrior. She’s just a princess with a secret passion for weapons.

I won’t spill too many details but let’s talk about the romance. When the romantic interest was finally revealed, I was totally knocked off my seat. That twist though! I actually thought one character would be the love interest, but the author took it a different direction. When the feels began, it was OH SO SWEET! I want to just hug them both until they beg for mercy. MY LITTLE CINNAMON ROLLS!!!!

KayLynn Flanders has a unique way with words. While she does not go overly flowery, her writing flows well and sucks you in.

So, my four-star rating is because of the pacing. I found myself without breath at some points, with no real room to take it all in. I understand this is a fast-paced book and there’s A LOT going on. I only felt it was smushed together too tightly.

While the themes and the basic structure of the book are the same as a million others, there’s something different about this one that I can’t pinpoint. Mostly, I think it’s because it reminds me of an early book I once wrote about a defiant princess with secret magic and a handsome boy who fight together against the baddies who want them dead.

Maybe I should dig that story out and revamp it. KayLynn, you have inspired me!

But other than that, SHIELDED is an addicting book that YA fantasy fans with devour.

Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher for the e-arc.