Friday, March 29, 2019

WICKED SAINTS Blog Tour - Excerpt

Happy Friday, everyone! Today I'm excited to be sharing an excerpt from the upcoming YA fantasy Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan. Thank you to Wednesday Books for inviting me to be a part of the tour!


Prepare for a snow-frosted, blood-drenched fairy tale where the monsters steal your heart and love ends up being the nightmare.” - Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen


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.


“This book destroyed me and I adored it.” - Stephanie Garber, New York Times bestselling author of Caraval



Horz stole the stars and the heavens out from underneath Myesta’s control, and for that she has never forgiven him. For where can the moons rest if not the heavens?
—Codex of the Divine, 5:26

     “It’s certainly not my fault you chose a child who sleeps so deeply. If she dies it will very much be your fault, not mine.”
     Startled by bickering gods was not Nadya’s preferred method of being woken up. She rolled to her feet in the dark, moving automatically. It took her eyes a few seconds to catch up with the rest of her body.
     Shut up!
     It wasn’t wise to tell the gods to shut up, but it was too late now. A feeling of amused disdain flowed through her, but neither of the gods spoke again. She realized it was Horz, the god of the heavens and the stars, who had woken her. He had a tendency to be obnoxious but generally left Nadya alone, as a rule.
     Usually only a single god communed with their chosen cleric. There once had been a cleric named Kseniya Mirokhina who was gifted with unnatural marksmanship by Devonya, the goddess of the hunt. And Veceslav had chosen a cleric of his own, long ago, but their name was lost to history, and he refused to talk about them. The recorded histories never spoke of clerics who could hear more than one god. That Nadya communed with the entire pantheon was a rarity the priests who trained her could not explain.
     There was a chance older, more primordial gods existed, ones that had long since given up watch of the world and left it in the care of the others. But no one knew for sure. Of the twenty known gods, however, carvings and paintings depicted their human forms, though no one knew what they actually looked like. No cleric throughout history had ever looked upon the faces of the gods. No saint, nor priest.
     Each had their own power and magic they could bestow upon Nadya, and while some were forthcoming, others were not. She had never spoken to the goddess of the moons, Myesta. She wasn’t even sure what manner of power the goddess would give, if she so chose.
     And though she could commune with many gods, it was impossible to forget just who had chosen her for this fate: Marzenya, the goddess of death and magic, who expected complete dedication.
   Indistinct voices murmured in the dark. She and Anna had found a secluded place within a copse of thick pine trees to set up their tent, but it no longer felt safe. Nadya slid a voryen from underneath her bedroll and nudged Anna awake.
     She moved to the mouth of the tent, grasping at her beads, a prayer already forming on her lips, smoky symbols trailing from her mouth. She could see the blurry impressions of figures in the darkness, far off in the distance. It was hard to judge the number, two? Five? Ten? Her heart sped at the possibility that a company of Tranavians were already on her trail.
     Anna drew up beside her. Nadya’s grip on her voryen tightened, but she kept still. If they hadn’t seen their tent yet, she could keep them from noticing it entirely.
     But Anna’s hand clasped her forearm.
     “Wait,” she whispered, her breath frosting out before her in the cold. She pointed to a dark spot just off to the side of the group.
     Nadya pressed her thumb against Bozidarka’s bead and her eyesight sharpened until she could see as clearly as if it were day. It took effort to shove aside the immediate, paralyzing fear as her suspicions were confirmed and Tranavian uniforms became clear. It wasn’t a full company. In fact, they looked rather ragged. Perhaps they had split off and lost their way.
   More interesting, though, was the boy with a crossbow silently aiming into the heart of the group.
     “We can get away before they notice,” Anna said.
     Nadya almost agreed, almost slipped her voryen back into its sheath, but just then, the boy fired and the trees erupted into chaos. Nadya wasn’t willing to use an innocent’s life as a distraction for her own cowardice. Not again.
     Even as Anna protested, Nadya let a prayer form fully in her mind, hand clutching at Horz’s bead on her necklace and its constellation of stars. Symbols fell from her lips like glowing glimmers of smoke and every star in the sky winked out.
     Well, that was more extreme than I intended, Nadya thought with a wince. I should’ve known better than to ask Horz for anything.
     She could hear cursing as the world plunged into darkness.
Anna sighed in exasperation beside her.
     “Just stay back,” she hissed as she moved confidently through the dark.
     “Nadya . . .” Anna’s groan was soft.
     It took more focus to send a third prayer to Bozetjeh. It was hard to catch Bozetjeh on a good day; the god of speed was notoriously slow to answer prayers. But she managed to snag his attention and received a spell allowing her to move as fast as the vicious Kalyazin wind.
     Her initial count had been wrong; there were six Tranavians now scattering into the forest. The boy dropped his crossbow with a bewildered look up into the sky, startling when Nadya touched his shoulder.
     There was no way he could see in this darkness, but she could. When he whirled, a curved sword in his hand, Nadya sidestepped. His swing went wide and she shoved him in the direction of a fleeing Tranavian, anticipating their collision.
     “Find the rest,” Marzenya hissed. “Kill them all.” 
     Complete and total dedication.
     She caught up to one of the figures, stabbing her voryen into his skull just underneath his ear.
     Not so difficult this time, she thought. But the knowledge was a distant thing.
     Blood sprayed, splattering a second Tranavian, who cried out in alarm. Before the second man could figure out what had happened to his companion, she lashed out her heel, catching him squarely on the jaw and knocking him off his feet. She slit his throat.
     Three more. They couldn’t have moved far. Nadya took up Bozidarka’s bead again. The goddess of vision revealed where the last Tranavians were located. The boy with the sword had managed to kill two in the dark. Nadya couldn’t actually see the last one, just felt him nearby, very much alive.
     Something slammed into Nadya’s back and suddenly the chilling bite of a blade was pressed against her throat. The boy appeared in front of her, his crossbow back in his hands, thank- fully not pointed at Nadya. It was clear he could only barely see her. He wasn’t Kalyazi, but Akolan.
     A fair number of Akolans had taken advantage of the war between their neighbors, hiring out their swords for profit on both sides. They were known for favoring Tranavia simply because of the warmer climate. It was rare to find a creature of the desert willingly stumbling through Kalyazin’s snow.
     He spoke a fluid string of words she didn’t understand. His posture was languid, as if he hadn’t nearly been torn to pieces by blood mages. The blade against Nadya’s throat pressed harder. A colder voice responded to him, the foreign language scratched uncomfortably at her ears.
     Nadya only knew the three primary languages of Kalyazin and passing Tranavian. If she wasn’t going to be able to communicate with them . . .
The boy said something else and Nadya heard the girl sigh before she felt the blade slip away. “What’s a little Kalyazi assassin doing out in the middle of the mountains?” he asked, switching to perfect Kalyazi.
     Nadya was very aware of the boy’s friend at her back. “I could ask the same of you.”
     She shifted Bozidarka’s spell, sharpening her vision further. The boy had skin like molten bronze and long hair with gold chains threaded through his loose curls.
     He grinned.

Itching to find out what happens next? Preorder Wicked Saints here!

About the Author

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.

Friday, March 8, 2019

#BATBathon TBR and Recommendations

Happy Friday, fellow book nerds! I hope you're all excited for the start of the Beauty and the Beast Readathon tomorrow. To kick off the 'thon, I wanted to share some recommendations of my favorite BATB retellings, as well as my highly unrealistic TBR pile for the readathon. You can find all the readathon challenges and details over here on the announcement post.

My Recommendations

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. You've probably heard of this one unless you've been living under a rock for the past three years. And if you follow me on Twitter, it should come as no surprise that it's one of my recommendations. I'll be completely honest and admit that ACOTAR didn't totally hook me the first time around. It wasn't until I read A Court of Mist and Fury that I fell head over heels for this series, so if you're reading it for the first time and find your attention drifting, stick it out. I promise it's worth it. Also, you can definitely read both ACOTAR and ACOMAF for this challenge, because ACOMAF is sort of a Hades and Persephone retelling! As you can tell, I am completely unbiased and not at all trying to push you into reading my favorite book. :)

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge.  It's been five years since I last read this book (what?! how?!), so I'm a little foggy on all the details, but what I do remember is that I wholeheartedly loved it. You can read my review here. Cruel Beauty combines Greek mythology with the Beauty and the Beast fairytale in a wholly unique way, and it has a totally swoon-worthy bad boy villain/love interest.

Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay. Apparently I was on a BATB in 2014 because I read Of Beast and Beauty shortly after finishing Cruel Beauty (and reviewed it here). This is more of a sci-fi BATB retelling that takes place on another planet. I've forgotten a lot of the details of this one as well, but I remember getting pretty darn emotional at the end. Tears were shed.

The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon.  I'm not sure if The Bird and the Sword is officially categorized as a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but it does involve a girl who is taken to live with a cursed prince, so I'm going to count it. Plus, I love this book and I need more people to gush over it with me, so there. :)

Honorable Mentions:

  • Hunted by Meagan Spooner
  • Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier
  • A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer


In no particular order:
  • The Beast's Heart by Leife Shallcross
  • East by Edith Pattou 
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  • Entreat Me by Grace Draven 
  • Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer 
  • Beauty by Robin McKinley 
  • Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley 
  • Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge by Lisa Jensen 

What books do you all plan on reading? Are we reading any of the same ones? Let me know in the comments, and happy reading! 

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Announcing the Beauty and the Beast Readathon!


Happy Saturday, everyone! I am so excited to announce that next month I will be hosting my second readathon: the Beauty and the Beast Readathon! #BATBathon will run from Saturday, March 9, through Sunday, March 17. The goal: to read as many Beauty and the Beast retellings as you can! Let's get into the details.


The Beauty and the Beast Readathon is exactly what it sounds like—a readathon specifically for retellings of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. I'm a huge fan BatB stories, and many of my favorites books over the past several years have fallen into this category: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge, the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas, and Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay, to name a few. My TBR list of BatB retellings is continually growing, and I thought a readathon would be a fun way to tackle a small portion of that list and maybe discover even more books in the process!

So what can you read for the challenge? Basically anything related to Beauty and the Beast! Any format counts (physical, e-book, audiobook, manga, graphic novel, short story, etc.) and any genre and audience level count. If you want to read a bunch of BatB picture books, go for it! If you want to read strictly adult fiction, go for it! If you want to read a mix YA, adult, and picture books—you guessed it—go for it!

Also, when many of us think of Beauty and the Beast, we probably think of the Jean-Marie Leprince de Beaumont fairy tale (the version that Disney's Beauty and the Beast is based on). However, this readathon is open to all Beauty and Beast-esque stories from around the world, such as the Norwegian "East of the Sun and West of the Moon" or the Greek myths of Hades and Persephone and Cupid and Psyche.


There are two ways to participate in the readathon. You can freestyle it and read any BatB retellings you want, or if you want more of a challenge (or just a way to narrow your reading selections), you can follow along with these prompts.


When posting about the readathon on Twitter or Instagram, be sure to use the hashtag #BATBathon. To make the event a little more interactive, you can also particpate in the bookstagram photo challenge using the prompts below. They're pretty open-ended, so feel free to get creative! 

Over the next week, I'll be asking participants via Twitter and Instagram to submit reading recommendations, and as we get closer to March 9, I'll post a Suggested Reading list with everyone's recommendations for those of you who aren't sure what you want to include in your TBR or need help finding retellings. In the meantime, you can check out my BatB retellings shelf on Goodreads, which includes some of my favorites as well as ones I want to read.

I'm also considering hosting a movie watchalong of the animated 1991 Disney movie, the 2017 live action Disney movie, or the 2014 live action French movie (which is gorgeous, by the way), but the date of this specific event is TBD. I'll post a Twitter poll the week leading up to the readathon to gauge people's interest and get a feel for what the best date and time would be.

That about wraps up the announcement post! I hope you'll join me for a week of fairy-tale goodness! I can't wait to see all of your reading recommendations. Let me know in the comments if you'll be participating, what your favorite BatB retelling is, and what you plan on reading. :)

Saturday, January 12, 2019

2018 End of Year Book Survey

Happy New Year, everyone! Long time no see.

Every year, Jamie of The Perpetual Page Turner hosts the awesome End of Year Survey, which gives readers the chance to sum up and reflect on what they've read throughout the year. And every December when this post goes live, I, with my list-making, organization-loving personality, squeal with joy. So here's my recap of my most loved/most memorable reads of 2018. (To see the full list of what I read last year, check out my 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge page.)

SPOILER ALERT: If you have not yet read Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas (or any of the series, for that matter) and do not want to be spoiled, come back later once you’ve finished. There are also spoilers for the Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes.


Number of books you read: 41
Number of re-reads: 7
Genre you read the most from: YA Fantasy

Best book you read In 2018:
Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas. For me, 2018 was all about this book. It was my most-anticipated read of the year, and I was counting down the months to its release. At some point I'll probably write an embarrassingly geeky post about how much I loved it, but for now suffice to say that KOA did not disappoint.

Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn’t:
The Falling Kingdoms series. Here be spoilers, so read at your own risk. The characters were shallow and frustrating, and they constantly made incredibly stupid decisions that made want to fling whichever book I was reading across the room. And I absolutely could not stand the will-they-won’t-they nonsense between Magnus and Cleo. It went on for way too long, and by the fourth or fifth book, I was over it. There were also some "dramatic" plot twists that made little sense, like the king telling Magnus that the witch Sabina was his real mother but then later on saying “Nah, I lied about that” ... for no apparent reason. I really wanted to love this series, but it fell far short of my expectations.

Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read:
Damsel by Elana K. Arnold. WOW. I didn't really know what to expect from this one apart from people telling me it was dark (they were right). I was a little wary of it because, being a '90s baby, I grew up with fairy-tale movies, and for better or for worse, I like the romantic, happily ever after tropes. So I was totally surprised by how much I loved Damsel, even though it takes those tropes and rips them to shreds.

Book you "pushed” the most people to read (and they did):
The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, because I wanted my friends to suffer along with me.

Best series you started in 2018? Best Sequel of 2018? Best Series Ender of 2018?
Best series started: Wraith Kings by Grace Draven. I absolutely adored Radiance. It’s relatively short and felt a bit underdeveloped plotwise but I honestly didn’t even care because I enjoyed reading about the characters so much! 
Best sequel: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. This is my favorite book is the TOG series because it's a huge turning point for Celaena/Aelin, and she grows so much as a character. Also, we meet Rowan and Manon, who are both amazing.
Best series ender: I mean, it’s got to be Kingdom of Ash. I'm still recovering from the book hangover.

Favorite new author you discovered in 2018:
Grace Draven. Radiance was a delightful surprise, and I’ve already got several other books of hers on my TBR list that I hope to get to this year.

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone:
Truthfully, I didn’t venture far outside my reading comfort zone in 2018. I guess the book that was most different from what I've been reading lately would be The Gentleman by Forrest Leo, which is a blend of historical fiction and parody. It's about a struggling poet who inadvertently sells his wife to the devil (or so he thinks) in exchange for an end to his writer’s block. It also wins the award for having one of the most relatable dialogue exchanges I've ever read:

"Do you mean to tell me, Simmons, that we haven't any money left?"
"I'm afraid not, sir."
"Where on earth has it gone?"
"I don't mean to be critical, sir, but you tend toward profligacy."
"Nonsense, Simmons. I don't buy anything except books. You cannot possibly tell me I've squandered by fortune upon books."
"Squander is not the word I would have used, sir. But it was the books that did it, I believe."
Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year:
I know it’s so boring for me to keep choosing Kingdom of Ash, BUT THE TRUTH CANNOT BE DENIED. It was the most thrilling, unputdownable book of the year (although after the chapter about the Thirteen, I did have to put the book down and cry for a few hours collect myself before I could continue). 

Book you read in 2018 that you would be most likely to reread next year:
I am so ready for another TOG series reread ... even though I just did one this fall.

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2018:
Heir of Fire. Can I have Celaena/Aelin's wardrobe, please?

Most memorable character of 2018:
2018 was the year of Aelin Ashryver Whitethorn Galathynius, y’all.

Most beautifully written book read in 2018:
The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth. This was such a tragically beautiful book, and my heart ached the entire time I was reading it.

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2018 to finally read:
Well, since most of the books I read in 2018 were new releases or rereads, I guess I'll say Tower of Dawn. I kept putting it off because—please don’t pelt me with tomatoes—Chaol is my least favorite character in the TOG series. I was always pretty meh about him, and Queen of Shadows turned that indifference into raging ball of hatred. Lol. So when Sarah J. Maas announced that there would be an entire novel about him, I was like …

I did enjoy Yrene’s POV, though, and, okay, fine, I guess Chaol kind of redeemed himself, and he and Yrene make a cute couple or whatever.

Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2018:
"For you, Fireheart. All of it is for you."
—Rowan Whitethorn Galathynius, Kingdom of Ash


Shortest and longest book you read in 2018:
Shortest: The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (32 pages, and I'm counting it because it's a children's classic I'd never read before, so there.)
Longest: Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas (992 pages)

Book that shocked you the most:
Take a wild guess. (Spoiler alert: it’s Kingdom of Ash. It gave me like a hundred mini heart attacks.)

OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!):
Rowan and Aelin from Throne of Glass. I love them.

Favorite nonromantic relationship of the year:
Aelin and Fenrys. The blinking system they came up with in KOA BROKE ME.

Favorite book you read in 2018 from an author you’ve read previously:
Kingdom of Ash. Sorry not sorry.

Best book you read in 2018 that you read based solely on a recommendation from somebody else/peer pressure/bookstagram, etc.:
Paige of A Conjuring of Lit (who is awesome for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is our shared love for Patrick Star gifs) recommended Damsel to me, and it did not disappoint.

Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2018:
Brishen from the Wraith Kings series. I loved how gentle and patient he was with Ildiko; it endeared him to me right from the start.

Best 2018 debut you read:
The Light Between Worlds. Whoo, this one made me cry a lot.

Best worldbuilding/most vivid setting you read this year:
The Throne of Glass series. 

Book that put a smile on your face/was the most FUN to read?
A Court of Frost and Starlight. I know this one was pretty divisive among Sarah J. Maas fans; it seems like you either loved it or you hated it. I'm in the first camp. After all the hardships the Inner Circle went through in A Court of Mist and Fury and A Court of Wings and Ruin, it was nice to have a nice, fluffy read where (most of) the characters were happy and safe. I laughed at so many moments—Amren the snowball; Cassian and Feyre drunkenly decorating the townhouse; “Little Rhysie”; Rhys, Cassian, and Azriel having a snowball fight; and, of course, Rhys getting kicked out of the birchen. And I may have cried a little when Rhys and Feyre decided to start their family.

Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2018:
I think a better question would be which books didn't make me cry! All the Throne of Glass books made me cry, even the ones I reread. Honorable mentions include Daughter of Smoke and Bone (also a reread), Damsel, The Light Between Worlds, and ACOWAR (another reread).

Hidden gem of the year:
The Light Between Worlds. It's beautifully written and heart-wrenching, and I really appreciated how Weymouth made you understand both sisters' sides of the story and feel for them both.

Book that crushed your soul:
Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas and Damsel by Elana K. Arnold. The end of EOS kills me every single time, even now that I've read KOA and know things turn out (mostly) fine. And Damsel ... Damsel is not a happy book, you guys, and wow, Arnold is good at making you feel the emptiness and hopelessness and anger that Ama feels.

Most unique book you read in 2018?
Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany by Jane Mount. I love Jane Mount's book stack paintings, so I swiped this book up and read it in about a day. It's a fun collection of her paintings, interesting facts about authors and indie bookstores, suggested reading lists, and lots of other random bits and pieces (hence miscellany).

Book that made you the most mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it):
The Falling Kingdoms series was so frustrating and didn't live up to my expectations. I was constantly screaming (in my head) at the characters. Queen of Shadows, which I love dearly, also got me riled up because Kale—er, that is, Chaol—is a bit of an asshat.

New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2018:
I found out about Book Roast via the Magical Readathon on Twitter, and I absolutely love her videos! (Those fairy lights on her bookshelves are GOALS!) I was too late to participate in the Magical Readathon in 2018, but I'm gonna try to join this year.

Favorite post you wrote in 2018:

If you've visited my blog before, it's no secret that I've, uh, not done a great job at keeping up with it over the years. When I first started my blog, I wasn't working yet, so I had much more free time to focus on reading and blogging. Naturally, that free time went away once I started working, and most days the last thing I want to do after spending eight hours in front of a computer is spend more time in front of a computer. That being said, I don't have a lot of posts to choose from for 2018, but I did have an awful lot of fun writing my Top Ten Favorite ACOTAR Moments post in April.

Best bookish event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, etc.)?
I always love participating in the OTSP Secret Sister project, and it's led to some great friendships! In fact, sign-ups for the next round go live TODAY, so check out Alyssa's (Books Take You Places) FAQ post if you're interested in participating.

Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2018:
Holding Kingdom of Ash in my hands for the first time after two long, long years of waiting.

Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year:
Well, obviously I struggled with the motivation to blog (again). I also have a serious problem with spending too much time on social media talking about books and not enough time actually reading books. I'm hoping to be better about that this year.

Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year:
I started off 2018 with a goal to read 100 books, but I cut that down to 50 in the summer. I still fell 9 books short. BUT I'm not letting that stop me from trying again. My Goodreads challenge goal is set back to 100, and I'm going to do my best to make it.

One book you didn’t get to in 2018 but will be your number 1 priority in 2019:
Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor. I was so excited for this one, but I wanted to reread Strange the Dreamer before starting it. But in October I was deep into my reread of Throne of Glass and so immersed in that world that I didn’t want to get distracted by anything else. The trouble with reading so much fantasy, or multi-book series in general, is that it gets hard to juggle them all and keep the worlds and characters straight so they don’t all blend together.

Book you are most anticipating for 2019 (non-debut)?
Crescent City and The World of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. She’s basically an auto-buy author me at this point. I'm also SUPER excited for The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon.

2019 debut you are most anticipating?
Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan. I was lucky enough to receive an e-ARC of this, and I can't wait to read it!

Series ending/a sequel you are most anticipating in 2019?
World of Throne of Glass. Rumor has it that we get a glimpse ten years into the future, and even though KOA has only been out for three months, I am READY for more. I need to know how all of my preciouses are faring.

One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2019?
I’ve got to get to 100 books this year, you guys. One, because I need to spend less time mindlessly scrolling through social media, and two, because my bookshelves are insane and need culling, or else there's a very real possibility one of them might fall over and crush me.

Well, that's a wrap on 2018! What were some of your favorite books last year?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite ACOTAR Moments

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jana of That Artsy Reader Girl. This week is a freebie topic, and with the release of A Court of Frost and Starlight just TWO WEEKS away (ahhhh!), I wanted to reflect back on some of my favorite moments from the ACOTAR series so far. As you might know, I am a HUGE fan of these books, so it was REALLY hard to narrow my favorite moments down to only ten, but I did my best!

This list contains spoilers for all three ACOTAR books (as well as some minor spoilers for the Throne of Glass series), so tread with caution!

1. Starfall: A Court of Mist and Fury
If I had to pick my absolute favorite moment of the entire series, I'd have to go with the Starfall chapter. It's just such a beautiful moment between Feyre and Rhysand, where it's so obvious that they're no longer just partners in the impeding war against Hybern or even just friends but actually in love with each other. I read a post somewhere (and forgive me for forgetting who originally posted it; Tumblr, maybe?) where the poster was talking about how it would've been so easy for SJM to have had Feyre and Rhys confess their love for each other in that moment, but by not doing so, it actually makes their declarations later on all the more powerful. They still do so much growing in their relationship just between the Starfall chapter and the infamous Chapter 55.

Speaking of which ... 

2. Chapters 54 and 55, A Court of Mist and Fury
After Starfall, these are my two absolute favorite chapters of the series. In case you don't remember, these are the chapters in which Rhys tells Feyre about his past and how he came to realize the mating bond between them, and then Feyre accepts the bond. I know the mating bond trope in both ACOTAR and the Throne of Glass series is a point of contention for a lot of people, fans and nonfans alike, but honestly, it's one of my favorite tropes in romance novels. There's just something so romantic about the idea that there's one person out there who is meant for you in every way, so I'm a total sucker for anything that resembles a soulmate trope. Sorry not sorry! And the way Rhys totally bears his soul to Feyre in chapter 54 ... it's probably one of my favorite passages in any book ever. And yeah, I'll address the elephant in the room and admit that the steamy times in chapter 55 are nice too, LOL! But really, I just love these chapters because they're the culmination of the romance that's been building between Rhys and Feyre since the end of A Court of Thorns and Roses, and after all that angst, it's nice to have a brief respite of pure fluff before things get dark and serious again.

3. "There you are. I've been looking for you." A Court of Thorns and Roses
The moment that started it all (although yours truly was totally unaware of it at the time). Some caught on right away that from the moment he entered the story, Rhys would be the true love interest in Feyre's story, but on my first reading of ACOTAR, I was firmly in the "No, Feyre, step away from the sinister guy dressed all in black!" camp. Of course, we learn in ACOMAF that this isn't just a throwaway line Rhys says to get the other fae to back off, but he truly has been searching for Feyre for some time. Ugh, my heart! 

4. Feyre's meeting Rhys's inner circle, A Court of Mist and Fury
This is such a fun scene to read because it's the first time Feyre meets Rhys's inner circle, and we get so much backstory for these characters that are going to play vital roles in the rest of the series. One of my favorite parts is when Feyre calls Cassian "Lord Cassian," because she doesn't know any better, and he absolutely loses it and can't stop laughing about it. Normally I don't get very attached to side characters in books, but SJM is amazing at introducing characters you can't help but love and making them all vital to the story.

5. Feyre, Rhys, and Cassian training, A Court of Mist and Fury
This is such an important moment in Feyre and Rhys's relationship, as well as her friendship with Cassian. I love their banter and how he opens up the conversation for her to share her feelings about breaking things off with Tamlin but doesn't push her for details. And when she does break down, both Cassian and Rhys are there to support her. I just love how the inner circle is this tight-knit support system that readily welcomes Feyre into the fold.

6. Feyre realizing the Bone Carver is taking the form of her future son, A Court of Wings and Ruin
This was a total fangirl moment for me that I loved for the sheer fluff. Rhys's reaction to Feyre telling him that she'd seen their future son was so adorable.

7. The meeting with the High Lords, A Court of Wings and Ruin
SO. MUCH. DRAMA. And tension! It's the first time Tamlin and Feyre have seen each other since she killed Brannagh and Dagdan, smashed the hell out of Ianthe's hand, and fled the spring court. But it's also another moment where we see all members of the inner circle standing up for each other against the likes of Tamlin, Beron, and Eris (and I'm sorry, but I'm still not convinced that Eris of all people deserves a redemption arc).

8. Feyre fighting against the Attor during the attack on Velaris, A Court of Mist and Fury
I love this scene because it's when Feyre really claims Velaris as her city and its people as her people to fight for and protect. And it gives her the chance to fight against and defeat the Attor, who's one of her biggest enemies from Under the Mountain. 

9. Feyre and Rhys reunite, A Court of Wings and Ruin
This was the scene ACOTAR fans had all been waiting for since that tortuous cliffhanger at the end of ACOMAF, and it didn't disappoint. Plus, it was kind of hilarious reading about Lucien's reaction to seeing Feyre as High Lady and then having Rhys call him on it.

And finally ...

10. Feyre and the High Lords resurrecting Rhysand, A Court of Wings and Ruin
Whoooo boy. I was a MESS reading this scene (and I'm telling you, it was no coincidence that Rhys literally died on page 666, LOL). I love how this scene mirrored Feyre's own death and resurrection scene in A Court of Thorns and Roses, though my one pet peeve with it is Rhys's rather flippant comment as soon as he's brought back to life: "If we're all here, either things went very, very wrong or very right." Like ... ugh, I don't know. His poor mate just had her heart ripped out and was sobbing over his dead body (and I was sobbing over the damn book!); would it kill him to be a little vulnerable and not play the sarcastic High Lord for a minute? But aside from that, I really do love this scene!

Now I'm nervous because I'm sure I'll look back at this post later and think, Oh my god, HOW could I have forgotten about this other moment that I loved?! Oh well. Another time. So are there any other ACOTAR fans out there? Do we share any favorite moments? What are some of yours? What are some things you're looking forward to or hoping to see happen in A Court of Frost and Starlight? Come fangirl with me!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Review: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pub. Date: March 6, 2018
Source/Format: NetGalley/e-galley | I received a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review. Quotes are taken from the finished hardback.

I've made a mistake. It started with a prince, as most stories do.

To Kill a Kingdom is sort of like Disney's The Little Mermaid meets Pirates of the Caribbean. It's a fairy tale retelling with a serious edge, and I had so much fun reading it! The story alternates between two main characters: Lira, a deadly siren princess known as the Princes' Bane ('cause she's literally stolen the hearts of seventeen princes), and Elian, a human prince turned pirate captain who is searching the seas for, you guessed it, Lira. Elian wants nothing more than to leave the responsibilities of princedom behind and spend his days with his pirate crew on the Saad, protecting the world from the sirens and searching for a way to defeat them, their queen, but most especially the elusive Princes' Bane. Lira has been raised to be ruthless and cruel, a worthy successor to her mother, the evil Sea Queen. But when Lira's worthiness to rule is called into question, her mother curses her to become a human. The only way to break the curse and win back her throne is to bring her mother Prince Elian's heart. After Lira, now human, is pulled from the ocean by none other than Elian himself, she enters into a shaky partnership with him in order to find the one thing that can end her mother's tyrannical reign.

Characters are the most important part of a book for me; if I don't like the main character or characters, there's a good chance that book will end up in my DNF pile. So I knew this book was going to be a wild ride with interesting characters when Lira literally ripped a man's heart out of his chest within the first ten pages. While this is a Little Mermaid retelling, Lira definitely isn't an Ariel knock-off. I love books where we get to see a character everyone sees as a villain transform into someone else––this is definitely Lira's journey throughout To Kill a Kingdom. Elian, on the other hand, for all his talk of being an infamous pirate, isn't quite as devious and swashbuckling as one might assume a pirate prince to be. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the relationship between him and Lira; I'm a total sucker for the enemies-to-lovers trope, especially when there's banter involved. One of my other favorite characters in the story was Kahlia, Lira's cousin, because she brought out Lira's softer, more vulnerable side. Lira is supposed to be this cold, unfeeling monster, but through it all she still has affection and concern for Kahlia. I think it's Lira's love for Kahlia that keeps her from becoming a total monster like the Sea Queen.

I also have to talk about Alexanda Christo's writing style, which is lovely and lyrical and just a pleasure to read. She has a real knack for making settings come alive through her vivid descriptions, and I loved how she made each kingdom Elian and Lira visited so unique.

This is the first standalone YA fantasy novel I've read in a while, and the ending does a nice job of tying up all the loose ends. I am sad, though, that this is the end of Elian and Lira's story. I would have loved to see more of them, but overall, I'd say that as a standalone, To Kill a Kingdom comes to a satisfying conclusion. I hope we see more from Alexandra in the future!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday (on a Friday): Spring TBR

Well ... hi there. Long time no see! Clearly I've been falling on my New Year's resolution to keep up with blogging this year. Oops! BUT I wanted to come back to do this week's Top Ten Tuesday topic, Top Ten Books on My Spring 2018 TBR, because you guys. There are SO MANY amazing books coming out this spring! I had a hard time narrowing it down to just ten for this post, especially since I'm currently reading a slew of backlist books.

Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes

I've been buddy-reading this series with my former secret sister, Nicole, and it's been a fun experience. We read the first three books in just a few weeks, and I'm starting Frozen Tides tonight.

If you follow me on Twitter, you're probably well aware of my love for Sarah J. Maas's A Court of Thorns and Roses series. So it should come as no surprise that A Court of Frost and Starlight, the novella that bridges the gap between A Court of Wings and Ruin and the upcoming ACOTAR novels, is one of my most anticipated reads not just for spring but the entire year. I am SO ready for some more Feysand in my life! (And that cover, OMG!) I'm also going to be rereading ACOWAR in April in preparation for ACOFAS.

Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

This new YA fantasy sounds right up my alley! I was lucky enough to get a copy via the #booksfortrade tag on Twitter, and I can't wait to start it!

Furyborn by Claire Legrand

Clearly there's a trend going on here, lol! Apparently this spring is all about YA fantasy for me. Furyborn has been one of my most anticipated books for months!

The Beast's Heart by Leife Shallcross

AHHH! Another Beauty and the Beast retelling! I don't think I'll ever get tired of these. Bring it on!

The Queen Underneath by Stacey Filak

This one sounds really unique and interesting, and WOW, gorgeous cover!

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

I recently checked this one out from the library, and it's up next on my to-read list after I finish the Falling Kingdoms series.

Are any of you planning on reading these this spring? What books are you looking forward to?

Until next time,