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.

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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.

Book Review: Siren’s Lure by Frost Kay

Book Review: Siren’s Lure by Frost Kay

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Hayjen never believed in legends, myths, or rumors.  That was until he was captured and enslaved by a race that was thought to be safely ensconced from the rest of the world.  As danger stalks ever closer, Hayjen is tossed into the watery depths of the sea where he begins to question everything he has ever believed.

Lilja is intent upon vengeance.   Scythia will fall and she will bring it about for what they took from her can never be replaced. But an accident occurs and despite the laws, she rescues a dying man at the cost of exposing a secret she has kept for years.  A secret that could destroy an entire race.  I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.  This book was published March 27th, 2018.

Siren’s Lure was an intriguing short novella that is part if The Aermian Feuds series.  I have not read any of the books that make up the series besides this prequel but I was immediately drawn into the tale from the first sentence.  The world was filled with siren-like creatures, pirates, slave traders, and kingdoms on the brink of war.  Add to that stunning characters with unique abilities and charming personalities hiding pain and secrets and I could not put the book down.

The characters were what first drew me into this tale.  Hayjen and Lilja are the two main characters.  The book’s chapters alternate between their two perspectives.  They were both unique and charismatic in their own ways.  Hayjen is a man captured and enslaved.  His goal is to protect all the women on the ship and when they are rescued by pirates he keeps a sharp lookout for deceit.  He is pained at having left his sister and all he wants to do is protect Mer and return to the sister he left to fend for herself.  His serious and protective ways endeared him to the reader.

The other contributor to this tale, Lilja is a hunted creature whose very kind is supposed to be extinct.  She was banished from her family and she now rescues those enslaved so that they do not face the same fate she did.  As a younger woman, she was enslaved and she suffered mightily at the hands of her captors.  But she looks beyond her past to the future and her optimistic ways and love of books endeared her to me.

Image result for i want more gifThe characters were not the only thing that enthralled me.  The world building was unique but since the tale was so short I only managed a glimpse into the complicated world built by the author.  There were so many unique aspects that made up the universe that the small look into it was not enough.  I am determined to read the rest of the series for this single short novella has captured my imagination and dug its claws in.

In the end, I would definitely recommend this novella.  I believe it can be read separately from the rest of the series but I will find that out soon enough when I read the other books.  Read it for it is worth being in its thrall for a short hour.

Book Review: Mistress Spy by Pamela Mingle

Book Review: Mistress Spy by Pamela Mingle

Madeline just wants to avenge her brother but when she’s captured she is offered two choices: become a spy for the queen or hang.  Maddy chooses to spy ending up in a maid’s position at the home of suspected traitors.

Nicholas is ready to go his own way after years of service to Queen Elizabeth but his plan changes with the arrival of a feisty beauty who betrayed her country but has a chance at redemption.

As tensions rise and a plot unfolds the two must find a way to put aside their differences and embrace the danger that fraught their world.  I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review and all opinions are my own.  This book’s publishing date is August 27th.

I cannot, in all honesty, say this book was fantastic.  It was mediocre and at best somewhat interesting.  Overall I found the book to be a boring and tedious affair.  I simply could not get into the tale and the only reason I finished the book was to find out the full plot put into place against the crown and whether Maddy and Nicholas managed to stop it.  The setting was somewhat intriguing but the characters were just blah.

Image result for boring gifThe main characters, Maddy and Nicholas were boring to read about.  I never could feel the emotion that they carried and their interactions were so… I don’t know how to explain but they felt fake.  I don’t have anything against the characters but I just couldn’t see into their minds like I can in other books.  I hated reading about their characters and I wanted to put the book down so many times but I felt the need to finish what I started and I wanted to find out more about the plot to rescue Mary Queen of Scots.

The background and setting was the only intriguing part of this book.  There was a plot in place to rescue Mary Queen of Scots and I kept reading to find out whether the plan would come to fruition or not.  It was stopped and the book ended on a happy note.  However, I felt that the book was not completely historically accurate in the characters interactions and the phrases and words used throughout the book were too modern.  The idea for the setting was interesting but it could have been carried out better.

Related imageIn the end, I could not stand the book and would give it a low rating.  I don’t think it’s worth the time it takes to read it and even if you do read it you will find yourself falling asleep.  Mistress Spy was boring, inaccurate, and hard to get through and I would recommend not reading this book.

Book Review: The Goodnight Kiss by Jennifer L. Hart

Book Review: The Goodnight Kiss by Jennifer L. Hart

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Nic has a full arsenal of weapons that she uses when bringing down her prey.  The deadliest of weapons lies in her kiss for a single lip to skin contact kills a human.  But her gift is also a curse that could harm those she loves.  As secrets rise to the surface and the past is discovered, Nic must turn to Aiden, a mysterious stranger who knows more about her than she herself knows.  He has information and with his help, she opens the door to a whole new world where magic is like breathing and the impossible becomes reality if one is willing to pay the ultimate price.  But once the door is open there is no going back.  Ever.  I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This book’s publishing date was May 1st.

The Goodnight Kiss was an outstanding tale filled with Norse legends, faeries, giants, a wolf, and a girl whose kiss has the power to kill.  From the very first line, the book held me in its thrall and I simply could not put it down.  The world building was stunning with its portrayal of the fae alongside Norse mythology.  The characters that inhabited the world were just as phenomenal and I found myself thirsting to know more about them.

The main character, Nic was awesome in her audacity and empathy.  From the beginning, I was intrigued by her need to kill the wicked and I only grew more invested in her character when I found out she was the Unseelie queen and that she had a history with Aiden, the mysterious boy who began tailing her and seemed to know more about her than she herself did.  Related imageTheir history was something of great interest to me and yet the book revealed little about their past lives.  What was revealed was gloomy and filled with deceit.  However, it was wonderful to compare the current Nic with who she had been when she was queen.  She changed and found empathy and love in her current life that she never managed to obtain in her past life.

Nic’s remarkable character was offset by Aiden who was her consort in her past life.  He had a frightful childhood when he was forced to kill his brother and then was physically abused for some indeterminate time by a human.  He fell for Nic immediately but she betrayed his trust when she forced his hand in an important matter.  She then died and he resurrected her into her present life where she was raised by the fates.  His character learned how to love again and accept the fact that he was Loki’s son.  His hurt and loyal character offset Nic perfectly and their adventures together were incredibly fun to read about.

Image result for perfect gifBesides the characters who were each prodigiously unique the creative world building was compelling.  The faeries with their Unseelie and Seelie courts are always interesting to read about and I loved the author’s interpretation of the courts and the fae within them.  Combine that with Norse mythology and you have an explosively enthralling world.  I loved it for I could read about Loki’s children along with the volatile and dark world of the fae.  The combination enhanced one another and made for an idiosyncratic world.

All in all, I completely adored The Goodnight Kiss and cannot wait for the second book.  I would highly recommend this story as a must read for all book lovers into mythology, the fae, and a girl whose kiss is as deadly as the past.

Book Review: Rust and Stardust by T. Greenwood

Book Review: Rust and Stardust by T. Greenwood

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Sally Horner steals a fifty cent notebook in the hopes of fitting in of being accepted.  What she doesn’t realize is that she is being watched by 52-year-old Frank LaSalle who only recently left prison.  When he accosts her outside the store he tells her that he is an FBI agent and that she is in serious trouble for stealing.  He convinces her that the only way out of trouble is for her to do everything that he says.

Throughout the next chapters, the book traces the harrowing two years that Sally Horner spends as a captive to Frank LaSalle, forever altering not only her life, but the lives of her family, friends, and those she meets along the way.  I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  The book’s publishing date is August 7th.

Rust and Stardust is one of the most heart-rending books I have ever read.  The tale was tragically thought inducing and the book brought to life the very real horrors that the world contains.  It conveyed a swirling mix of emotions that left the reader disconsolate yet sadly hopeful.  From the first lines, I was thrown into the tale of a girl who was kidnapped and the repercussions it had on her and her family.

The main characters were the bearers of the tale and the emotions and experiences they went through were poignantly expressed throughout the book.  The reader saw glimpses into Sally Horner’s mind along with her mothers, sisters, her brother in law, and the other characters who interacted with Sally.  We saw their pain, desperation, and hope.

Sally was but a girl who unwittingly believed the lies of an evil man.  Through fear and lies, he managed to hold her captive and abuse her physically and mentally.  It was tragic to see the world through her eyes. Image result for it's so sad yet so hopeful gif To see her fear and also her hope along with small stolen moments of freedom and joy.  After her kidnapping, she manages to move on and it was a wonderful thing to read about Sally’s quiet strength throughout the book.  By the end, I was in tears but I was also lifted by the end of the book which showed that there is always hope in the bleakest of moments.

Along with Sally, we managed to glimpse into her family’s life and how they each coped with her kidnapping and death a couple of years later.  Her mother was a woman whose body had turned against her.  She bore the weight of losing a husband to suicide along with the guilt of practically handing her daughter over to her kidnapper.  Her despair of ever seeing her daughter again was woeful to read about and my heart ached for her.  Sally’s sister and brother in law were intriguing to read about.  Image result for hope gifWe saw her brother in laws determination to find her and help his wife forgive her mother.  And we saw Sally’s sister bear the pain determinedly never giving up hope on her sister.  Her family’s pain was plaintive yet by the end they had accepted and hoped in the luminous gaze of the stars.

The characters and their lives drew me in and I became completely intrigued by the real-life story that the book is based on.  I have always been interested to learn about crimes committed throughout the labyrinthine maze of history and this story was no different.  I have done some research into Sally Horner’s story to further figure how much of Rust and Stardust was fiction and I found that the book followed Sally Horner’s story accurately with some side characters fictionally based.  Furthermore a lot of Sally’s interactions with her kidnapper, Frank La Salle were fictitious but most of the basic concepts of his lies and where they went were truthful.  At the end of the book, Sally dies two years after her ordeal in a car accident.  I was dispirited to read this and yet the true sadness lies in the fact that it is true.  Sally Horner died at the age of fifteen on August 18, 1952.  Below is a picture of Sally during her kidnapping alongside an image of Frank LaSalle.

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Overall I loved the book even if the cover was deceiving in the fact that I wasn’t expecting the book to be as dark, heart-wrenching, and completely true as it turned out to be. Despite that, I would highly recommend this book.  It is a must read and I totally give the tale five stars.