The Red Labyrinth by Meredith Tate

Image result for red labyrinthThe labyrinth was built to protect but living in its shadow Zadie Kalver feels anything but safe. The maze is enchanted and filled with deathtraps, illusions, and magic. A killer called Dex stalks its corridors and Zadie stays far from it.

But when Zadie’s best friend vanishes into the labyrinth-and everyone mysteriously forgets he exists- completing the maze becomes her only hope of saving him. She brides Dex, to guide her through the maze on a terrifying journey that will change everything she thought she knew about her world.

Navigating a deadly garden, a lethal blood-filled hourglass, and other traps-with an untrustworthy murderer for her guide-Zadie’s one wrong step from certain death. But with time running out before her friend (and secret crush) is lost forever, Zadie must reach the exit and find him. If Dex and the labyrinth don’t kill her first.  I recieved this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review and all opinions are my own.  This book was published June 4, 2019. 

Image result for i loved the idea gifAs soon as I read the synopsis for The Red labyrinth I knew I had to read it and this book went well above and beyond my expectations. I was intrigued by the short overview of the book and it sounded similar to the Maze Runner series so I decided to read it. And it was worth staying up late up for even if I had to force my eyes to stay open. The idea behind the tale was fascinating and the characters were gritty and real, while the author stunned me with her ability to grow her characters in such a heartfelt way.

The world-building was so unique. I loved the idea of a slightly advanced civilization with people whose skills ranged into the abnormal. Add to that a deadly maze with a killer loose in it and you have a stunning tale on your hands. I particularly adored the maze and the challenges the author placed within that maze. Some of them were heart-wrenching and most of the obstacles sounded like horrible ways to die. Not to mention they were individually unique and I have rarely read trials similar to the ones placed in this book. It added a remarkable background for the masterpiece of characters.

Image result for marvelous gifThe characters were marvelous. At first, I honestly hated the main character, Zadie who was constantly complaining about being normal. She drove me up the wall with her inability to rescue or defend herself. However, as the book went on I fell for her character. She began to see that to be brave or strong she need only rely on herself. That she can conquer the past to find a future and that she doesn’t need special abilities for she is already special individually.

It was a stunning masterpiece of young adult literature and I would recommend it to all lovers of action-packed and unique stories.

Sharing Saturday Sixty-Four

images (7) (1)

It has been a while since I have posted and I apologize.  The last few weeks have been crazy.  Today, however, I have decided to share some spooky writing.  I know Halloween was a little bit ago but you don’t have to share spooky stories just around Halloween.  Anyways, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and enjoy this excerpt from my story, The Confession.  I will post the story in multiple excepts in the following weeks so stay tuned.

The premise of the story is that a grandma is telling the story of her past to her grandchildren from a second-person perspective.  This was difficult to write in and I think it would be fascinating to do a discussion solely on perspectives.  Perhaps I will do that next week and put off continuing the short story.  Which would you prefer?  Let me know in the comments below.  I hope you enjoy the paragraphs below!

You may not believe the tale I have to tell you but I swear that it all happened.  It happened in my little hometown. What town you ask? Well, this town is long gone.  It was wiped off the map decades ago. This tale is unbelievable and even to this day I am questioned and harried by those who cannot accept that there is more to this world than the facts spelled out in textbooks.  You nod and tell me that you will believe. Only after you hear my story can you make that decision. Now let me begin.

Narrington was a little town where everybody knew everyone and what happened in one’s life was broadcast.  Secrets were never kept and nothing exciting ever happened except for the one bar fight instigated by a news reporter who was desperate for anything to happen.  Well, something happened but no one was expecting it least of all me.

Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven

Image result for phoenix unboundEvery year each town and village are required to send a girl to the Empire’s capital to be burned alive.  One small village has sent the same girl for five years.  Gilene protects all the village girls with only the magic she possesses.  But the costs to her may be less than worth it?

However, it all changes this year, the year, that Azarion, a gladiator sets out to blackmail the woman who keeps returning each year to burn.  He is set on escaping from slavery and unknown to Gilene returning to his clan in order to reclaim his birthright. 

To protect her family and village, she will risk everything to return to the Empire–and burn once more.  I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Pheonix Unbound was published September 25, 2018. 

Phoenix Unbound was an intriguingly dark tale.  Its characters were filled with feeling, fervency, and bravery while the unique and tyrannical world they lived in attempted to force them into submission.  I adored this book due to the intricate characters, and the world the author created despite the dark subject matter discussed.

The characters created this tale with their unwillingness to bend to the evil that subjugates them and the bravery they demonstrate to move beyond their past into a better future.  Gilene is a fire witch willing to sacrifice herself for her village over and over again.  Her sense of duty constantly warred with the need to be something more than just a sacrifice, a girl forever scarred and used until she dies young.  The things she went through for her village were horrific but her spirit never died.  She bravely fought to build a better world for others and herself.  One could not help but love her character simply due to the very human emotions and struggles that she faced and conquered.

Image result for phenomenal gifAnd her counterpart in Phoenix Unbound was just as stunning.  Azarion, a gladiator is intent upon regaining his place and his home after ten long years of killing and abuse suffered from the Empress.  At first he was a gruff and unbending character but as the story went on we began to see his true self as a caring and steadfast individual.  I loved his character for he perfectly offset Gilene and he continued living and fighting even during the most painful moments of his life.  In the end I adored all of the characters especially the main two.

However, these characters would not be complete without the world building which shaped them.  The world they lived in was cruel and brutal.  Under the thumb of two cruel and insatiable rulers everyone suffers and Gilene and Azarion suffered more than most.  I adored the idea of fire magic which was explored in this book along with spooks and haunts.  It was unique and definitely worth the read.

I would recommend reading it for the world building was absolutely fascinating and the characters were well written.  I cannot wait to read Dragon Unleashed by Grace Draven which comes out in June of 2020 and is the second book in this series.

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Image result for Spin the DawnMaia dreams of more than just becoming a wife and mother. She wishes to become a tailor but as a girl that is impossible. However, her chance comes when her ill father is summoned to court and she takes his place dressed as a boy.  However, she must vie with twelve other tailors for a job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.
And the final challenge is beyond imagining. She must sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.  I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review and all opinions are my own.  Spin the Dawn was published on July 9, 2019.

I cannot fully express how stunning this book was. It took me on a unique and wild adventure that left my heart in shreds and a desperate longing for the next book in the series. The world-building and especially the characters wrapped around one another to create a tale that one cannot soon forget.

The world-building was a stunning creation based on Chinese culture and the Silk road. However, the magical path that the author took created more than just a country unique in its culture. She created a world overflowing with magic, demons, and legends. I have heard of tales of the essence of the sun, moon, and stars being woven into dresses and the author’s take on this was phenomenal.

Image result for loved it gifAnd yes the world-building was gorgeous but the characters were even better. The main character, Maia was a riot of emotions that were easy to connect to and I was immediately engaged. She wanted so much in a world that offered her so little and in the journey this book shows her exploration of her desires and needs. She finds that she can be so much more. And that ending… I loved it. It was poignant. Sad yet hopeful. Promising the beginning instead of the ending. She was willing to sacrifice so much for the happiness of the people she loves and as a reader, we know that this is only the beginning of her tale.

The other side characters were phenomenal and perfectly complemented Maia.  Edan the love interest was an intriguing man who was unwilling to let go of his secrets but would do anything for her. And the other minor side characters added their little personalities to the story assisting in creating this wonderful tale.

Spin the Dawn is a must-read with its gorgeous writing and cover. However, we must wait until 2020 before this story continues in the sequel. Read the book. You won’t regret it.

Sharing Saturday Sixty-Three

Sharing Saturday Sixty-Three

Another week has flown by and I can’t believe it is already mid-July.  Today I have decided to share with you the last book I read, the book I am currently reading, and the book I plan on reading after that.  The image fits with the book I recently finished and I love it.  Have a stunning Saturday!

Last book read: Roar by Cora Carmack

Current read: A Blade So Black by L.L McKinney

To be read next: Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Sharing Saturday Sixty-Two

sixty-two

Another Saturday is upon us and today I have decided to share a few of my recent writings with you.  In the past few Sharing Saturdays, I have shared images, videos, and book release dates and covers.  I feel that it is beyond time I showed you all a portion of a recent story that I have been working on.  It follows a girl who is trying to make her way in a cruel world where women are used as sacrifices in order to please a goddess of love.  I hope you enjoy and have a phenomenal Saturday!

I stride past the competitors next to enter the arena.  Their eyes dance around trying to absorb everything at once while skating over the blood that coats the sand staining it a permanent red color.  One of the girls, a petite black-haired angel holds her sword awkwardly and I look away knowing she is going to die today.  I walk into the dark confines of the rooms beneath the arena and inhale the musty earthy odor of the caves I stand in.  They are literal caves carved out of the rock by millions of slave laborers a thousand years ago. Sackcloths cover entrances to small indented rooms where competing girls can change and prepare themselves for the multitude of rituals that make up this horrible celebration.  The plinking of water can be heard in the near silence of the corridor until the screaming of the crowd makes it indiscernible. 

 

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

Image result for mortal engines bookIn the aftermath of a great war, cities have become roving machines whose goal is to eat smaller cities and towns in order to gain much-needed supplies.  London has been skulking in the hills to avoid bigger cities but that is about to change as a man sets into motion a new danger. 

Thaddeus Valentine, London’s Head Historian and adored famous archaeologist, and his lovely daughter, Katherine, are down in The Gut when the young assassin with the black scarf strikes toward his heart, saved by the quick intervention of Tom, a lowly third-class apprentice.  In chasing the assassin Tom tumbles down a waste chute ending up in the Out-Country.  It is the Earth scored with dozens of tracks made by the steaming cities.

He sets out on a wild journey with the scarred assassin coming to realize the dangerous truth of people, cities, and the lengths everyone is willing to go to achieve their ends.  The only question is whether he will survive long enough to stop the destruction that is about to be unleashed upon his world. 

Mortal Engines is a book within a genre I don’t normally read.  However, my cousin encouraged me to read it. Let’s just say I am so glad I did.  This book was a stunningly heart-rending tale that has left me craving for the second book.  The characters were excellently rendered but what was even better was the unique world-building.

The author created a world of rolling cities in the aftermath of a war that destroyed the world as we knew it.  The cities must survive by eating and taking from other cities and towns in order to gain the resources they need to maintain the wheels and engines that run the town.  It was an interesting look at a futuristic society where every town must look out for themselves.  There are no countries just cities rolling over the Earth with inhabitants making a living in a world of metal.  I loved this unique take even if it was hard to figure out what was going on in the first few chapters.

The individuality of this tale was carried through by the characters.  A scarred girl, an orphan whose only life has been as an apprentice, the daughter of a famous historian/scavenger, and a variety of other characters added life and color to the story.  The author showed the good and the bad sides of each character.  They weren’t perfect and one even loved the villains.  They built upon one another to create a vivid cast bringing to life this futuristic world.

Related imageSoon, after reading this book I decided to watch the movie and I cannot say that I enjoyed the movie as much as the book.  The book is almost always better than the movie and this is the case for Mortal Engines.  The movie strayed from the book on major plot points and took away from the characters the things we loved most.  Minor details and plot points were not adhered to and Valentine became the main villain when in the book he was the morally gray character who is eventually reformed.  In this movie, the ending was not phenomenal while in the book we were left in a state of shock.  I would definitely say read the book and forgo the movie.

In the end, this book was stunning and I would definitely recommend it.  It will wrap up readers in a vivid futuristic world and drag them along until the final epic chapter.  One’s heart will be broken and remade a dozen times over and one will not emerge from this tale without the memorable scars made by a wonderfully written tale.

Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan

Image result for tiger queen annie sullivanIn the Kingdom of Achra, a princess has to fight for the right to rule and Princess Kateri has more riding on the line than just the throne.  She must fulfill a promise to protect her people from the drought and windstorms that ravage them.  The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raid the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.

When Kateri’s final opponent is announced she knows she is doomed and in desperation she seeks out the one person she never thought to side with.  What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger.  I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review and all opinions are my own.  Tiger Queen is set to release on September 10, 2019.

I don’t know what to say after reading this story besides wow.  This tale was based upon the short story of A Lady, or the Tiger and I feel that Annie Sullivan has done the story justice by creating a world in which a princess learns that life is meant to be filled with family, love, and the strength that comes from the spirit as well as the body.

First, I have to exclaim about how stunning the world building was.  Sullivan brought to life a kingdom in the desert barely surviving a drought.  She builds upon the strength of nature and emphasizes the fact that humans cannot bend the forces of nature to their will.  The creatures and twisting sand dunes seemed to howl and spin before my eyes and the writing created vivid imagery that pulled me into the story.

And if I thought the creation of the world was phenomenal the characters were even more so.  Princess Kateri is a girl who is focused upon making her father proud and becoming the queen he wants her to be.  But when she is forced to seek the help of her enemy she comes to realize that her world is not what she thought it was.  Kateri grows into someone who realizes the power of family and who recognizes her people and sees them as more than mere pawns.  Through mental and physical challenges she grows and prevails beginning as an arrogant royal who knows little of the sufferings of the daily people into someone who fights for her people and understands their daily struggles.  As a reader, it was wonderful to watch the main character become better and wiser.

Image result for great support gifThe side characters added to the tale especially Cion who assisted in the growth of Kateri.  He made her see the shades of gray in between the black and white way she viewed the world.   He challenged and supported her but was a strong character without Kateri.  The other side characters added dimensions to the tale creating strong villains and heroes alike.  As the story continued Sullivan expanded the growth of the supporting characters for in the beginning it was minimal and I was slightly upset by the lack of growth.  However, it was made up for later in the tale when the author truly began expanding her characters.  In the end, I loved all the wonderful people that inhabited the world created in Tiger Queen.

This tale is phenomenal and I would definitely recommend it.  The author lives up to her first book by continuing the creation of wonderful stories based upon previous works.

Sharing Saturday Sixty-One

Sharing Saturday Sixty-One.jpg

Another week has passed meaning it is once again another Sharing Saturday.  Today I have decided to share with you a song based on Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.  I feel that this song excellently portrays the book and I absolutely love it.  I would definitely recommend listening to it even if you have not read the book.  Here it is and I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

Image result for house of salt and sorrowsAnnaleigh lives in a manor by the sea with her father, stepmother, and eleven sisters.  They were once twelve and are now eight as four of the girl’s lives were cut short in tragic ways.  Whispers that they are cursed circle but as ghostly visions appear before Annaleigh she begins to suspect foul play.

Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a stranger intensifies it becomes a race to stop the darkness that hangs over her family before it claims her as well.  I received this book from NetGalley for an honest review and all opinions are my own.  This book will be published on August 6th, 2019.

I am still reeling minutes after finishing this book. But the one clear thought that pervades the mess of emotion was that this book was phenomenal! It took me on a journey that has left me hopeful yet sad and putting how wonderful this book was into words will be hard but I will attempt it.

First, wow, the characters were stunning. Annaleigh, the main character pulled my heartstrings for her deep emotion and constant devotion and love for her sisters drew me in. She was personable and still tried to find happiness despite the pain of losing multiple loved ones. Her bravery in facing the nightmares that haunted her was admirable and yet when she was broken she picked herself up again and continued. She continued living and trying to save her sisters despite the horrors that taunted her. Strength of character comes from within and Annaleigh was an example of someone who found that strength and demonstrated it throughout the pages of the tale. I could not have asked for a better character to head this gothic story filled with horror, pain, and the strength of humanity that is displayed even in the facets of our own lives.

Image result for i loved them all gifThe supporting characters only added to the tale. Anneleigh’s sisters were excellently written as they too suffered through the pain of losing those closest to them. Their undying support of one another and the fights among siblings grounded me in the reality of the tale outside of the confusing horror of murder. The two love interests, Cassius and Fisher added dimensions of a love triangle to the story but it never fully formed. However, these two characters created hope despite my distrust of Cassius. Beyond that, there was the stepmother.  I never really trusted her. She seemed too power hungry and it is a rule that you usually shouldn’t trust stepmothers for they almost always seem to turn out evil. Spoiler alert: It does turn out that you shouldn’t ever trust stepmothers in books.

The world building and setting were just as wonderful as the characters. The author created a fascinating world with various deities that were never fully explained. Many things about the setting weren’t explained in detail but it flowed so well that I hardly noticed. Beyond that though, the mood of gothic horror was excellently written. I was constantly on the edge of my seat wondering what new nightmare would spring onto the pages and I was never disappointed. I can’t express how much I loved the horror mixed with fantasy that was brought to life in this tale. It is a must read.

I was left with a few questions at the end of this book mostly regarding deaths but nothing vital to the story. And despite the slightly unexplained ending I adored this book and would definitely recommend it.