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.

Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

Image result for princess of thornsPrincess Aurora’s mother, Sleeping Beauty, died young and since that time Aurora has been blessed with fairy gifts.  In the ten years since that time, she has learned that magic comes with a price and for her, it is the inability to ever know romantic love.  When her brother is captured Aurora dresses as a boy and sets off to find an army and free the only person she is free to love.

Prince Nikalaas is living on borrowed time.  He has mere weeks to convince a princess to marry him before his eighteenth birthday when he will turn into a swan.  He is determined to find the only princess willing to marry him, Aurora but when he meets her brother – or so he believes- he is blackmailed into helping raise an army.

As an ancient prophecy’s final conclusion comes ever closer, Aurora and Nikalaas learn that there are worse things than the end of mankind.  There is an impossible love and a forbidden hope…

This book was phenomenal! I was held within its thrall of stunning world building and fierce characters whose stubbornness made for an amazing amount of banter.  The two main characters made the tale despite the somewhat predictable plot line.  Princess Aurora and Prince Niklaas spent the entire book engaged in a fierce dialogue filled with hilarity and denial about their growing attraction.

The two main characters filled this story and I simply loved them.  Aurora is stubborn and wild, always throwing herself into danger without thinking.  She has fairy gifts which she uses to outsmart all of the forces allayed against her.  We as a reader connect to her because of all the mistakes she makes and the realization that they are in the past and all you can do is attempt to be better and fix the mistakes.

Niklaas is like Aurora and perfectly challenges her and argues for what he believes is right.  He wants to escape his father and find a loving wife and family.  He is extremely protective of Aurora even as he fights her on every matter.  His wordplay with the princess was amazing and it made up the substance of the book.  Without it, the book would have been boring and hard to get through.

Beyond the characters, the world building was quite interesting.  It combined fairy’s, ogres, sleeping beauty, and magic for a weird and dark world.  I liked it for it was a different take on the timeless tale of sleeping beauty where the prince isn’t perfect instead he is a cheating, lying, greedy man.

Image result for predictable gifHowever, the plot twists were slightly predictable.  As an avid reader I can usually figure out some plot turns before they occur but this book only surprised me a couple of times.  It was good for a sweet, slightly dramatic, book but I felt that the author could have done more to make the actual plot line interesting.  But as I have said before it was made up for by the phenomenal characters.

In the end, I would recommend this book.  It was intriguing but at times it was overly dramatic.  Princess of Thorns was a new take on an old tale and it was pulled off quite well leaving me with the view that one should read it but take into account that it is slightly predictable.

 

Poison’s Kiss by Breeana Shields

Image result for poison's kiss bookMarinda can kill with a single kiss and she has done so to dozens of boys all in the service of the raja.  Every boy she has kissed has been an enemy to kingdom until she is ordered to kiss the man she is in love with.  With this command questions rise to the surface as to the true nature of the boys killed and the threat they actually posed. Marinda begins to query as to who her real employers are and once the thread begins to unravel there is no going back and absolutely no guarantee of survival. 

Poison’s Kiss was a completely stunning book that I could not put down.  The world building and characters were raw and phenomenal.  I wanted to know everything about everything and I simply can’t wait to start the second book after I write this review.  

The world building was so unique.  I adored the snakes, the lies, and the truth of a girl struggling to find a place in a world that hides everything from her.  The book seems to be built around Indian culture and mythology and I simply loved the idea of the visha kanya or “poison maiden”.  The world was enthralling and I want to find out more about it in the second book.

Image result for strength and courage gifWhat truly inspired me was the characters, though.  The main character, Marinda was a girl brought up to believe that killing people through her poisonous kisses was a service needed by the raja.  She hates it though and it was painful to see her struggling to find peace against the tide of men she killed.  She took care of her brother and it was horrifying to see how the people she worked for used his sickness to manipulate her.  As a reader I felt sympathy for her as she found the courage to keep going despite the sins in her name.

The side characters added additional support and emotion to the book.  They were not as fully developed as Marinda but it was still stunning to witness their struggles and hopes in the cruel world they lived in.  However, I feel like the love story was just thrown in and underdeveloped.  I mean Marinda and Devin barely knew each other and yet suddenly they’re in love.  

Besides this I loved the book and would definitely recommend it to all.  It is a must read for the author brings to life the intriguing tale of a maiden whose kiss is deadlier than any sword. 

A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan

Image result for a touch of goldKing Midas was able to turn items into gold but he relinquished the power when he almost lost his daughter to this supposed gift.  Ten years later Princess Kora still bears the consequences with skin that shines golden and gifts that continually grow harder to hide.  

Kora remains hidden in the castle attempting to ignore the swirling gossip of the courtiers but when a duke arrives he seems to be able to see beneath the golden skin.  Their courtship is interrupted when a thief steals the golden pieces needed to keep the King alive.  With the unique ability to sense gold Kora sets out on a journey to recover the missing gold learning that everything is not as it seems.  And that gold and the power it holds is more dangerous than she ever imagined. 

This story based on the tale of King Midas and his golden touch was a phenomenal adventure that dragged me through the mind of a girl turned to gold by her father and his curse.  The characters pranced through my mind and the world building painted a vivid story that left me wondering what happens next.

The main character, Kora struggles to find her place in a world that is disgusted by her mere presence due to the golden hue of her skin.  In this story we see her go beyond the girl who is afraid and resigned to the hatred that surrounds her to one finding her acceptance and way in the world.  She begins to realize that her curse does not shape her and that she can be free and in control.  It was phenomenal as a reader to watch Kora’s growth and I loved her character even if I was at times annoyed by the fear that seemed to consume her.

Image result for predictable gifThe other side characters added a vivid array of emotions and flaws that made a complete cast.  I will state now that I knew immediately who the love interest would be and that the Duke (slight spoiler here) was not all that he appeared to be.  In the romance aspect, the tale was predictable but besides that, I loved pirates and their effect on the tale.

Besides the characters, the world building was gorgeous.  We see pirates, a lawless island, and sea creatures which all added to this stunning book.  Not to mention, the evil pirate of this tale who’s obsession with skulls was fascinating.  I will say that this book did not do a good job of sticking to Greek culture or history but if one simply takes the tale out of Greek context and sees it as a separate world it is perfect.

So, in the end, despite its flaws, I loved the tale of King Midas’ touch and the resulting consequences of the golden touch.  A sequel for this book called A Curse of Gold has been announced but will not be coming out for some time.

Book Review: The Lantern’s Ember by Colleen Houck

Jack barely remembers his mortal life before the deal.  So he focuses on his job of guarding a gate to the Otherworld, a world crawling with every horror, haunt, and spook imaginable.  He has spent decades moving from town to town not allowing a soul, human or inhuman past him .  But that changes the day he meets Ember O’Dare.Image result for the lanterns ember

Ember O’Dare is a stubborn seventeen-year-old witch whose draw to the Otherworld is forceful.  Deciding to resist no longer she sets out to see this forbidden plane with the help of a mysterious vampire, setting a course that will change both worlds permanently.  Jack must do everything in his power to get Ember back where she belongs before both the earthly and unearthly worlds descend into chaos.  I recieved this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  The book’s publishing date was September 11, 2018. 

The Lantern’s Ember was a phenomenal book that I knew I had to read since it is by a stunning author.  Not to mention the cover is breathtaking.   And I am so glad did.  The tale that unfolded in this book was gorgeously thrilling and I could not set the book down.  The book was filled with a wild array of characters and the world-building was unique to say the least.

The main character, Ember was courageous and ingenious and reading about her tale and world was a fun experience.  She drew me to her because of her kindness and my need to understand why her magic was different and stronger than other witches.  However, I was getting annoyed with how many times she passed out during the entirety of the book which was several times more than it should have been.  Besides this annoyance I adored Ember’s character who brought the book to life.

Besides Ember, the book was filled with an array of various characters.  And for a while there was three love interests: Ember’s best friend, Finney, the lantern, Jack who has been watching over her from childhood, and the charismatic vampire, Dev.  Besides that the book contained, witches, several kinds of vampires, werewolves, automatons, trolls, vampire bats, the boogeyman, wizards, pirates, and more magical creatures.  They all added to the stunning world-building and diversity of characters who traveled and adventured with Ember through the Otherworld.

The Otherworld was a magical world that lived alongside the normal world but its people were not human.  The world was filled with every kind of haunt and spook that one can think of but no humans were allowed to enter.  The world was far ahead of the normal world in technological advancements and it was exciting to read about some of the things we take for granted running off witchlight in a magical world.  In the end the world-building was truly a masterpiece.

I loved this book and would highly recommend it to all.  It brings to life the origin of Halloween in stunning fashion that was simply unputdownable. 

Book Review: Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf

Image result for Bring Me Their HeartsZera is Heartless.  As an unaging and unable to die servant to a witch Zera doesn’t have a heart and yet that is all she craves.  Her witch, Nightsinger has complete control over Zera and Zera serves her unquestioningly until Nightsinger asks her to infiltrate the noble court.  Her task to take the Prince’s heart and in return she will gain her heart and freedom.

Crown Prince Lucien d’Malvane hates the court and the nobles.  With every girl jockeying for a position at his side he wants nothing to do with the spring brides.  Until Lady Zera is presented with her inelegance and smart-mouth shes’s out for his blood.

Soon a game of cat and mouse begins between a Heartless and a boy who has everything.  The winner gets the loser’s heart.  Literally.

Bring Me Their Hearts was an amazing tale of struggle, heartbreak, and the darkness offset by light that makes up humanity.  The characters were stunning and their struggles were utterly real and heartbreaking.  The world the author created was unique and I adored reading about the struggles of a girl who believes herself to be a monster.  I could not put Bring Me Their Hearts down and when I reached the devastating end I came away wanting more of Zera and Lucien’s story.  The end was a massive cliffhanger and I desperately want another book because this story was stunningly brought to life.  What really made the book, though, was the characters.

The main character Zera constantly struggled beneath the weight of being heartless.  It was devastating to read about the hunger that constantly clawed at her and how she fought it.  She covered the darkness within her with jokes which made for some entertaining back and forths with other characters.  However what made her real was her desperate need to be cared for and loved. She wanted that, to not feel like a monster.  Zera believed herself to be a monster and yet throughout the book we begin to see her emerge and attempt to be human again.  She learns to love and it was a beautiful thing to read as Zera changed and grew beyond her heartlessness.  The character growth was phenomenal and I completely adored Zera’s character.

Related imageThe other characters were just as finely wrought what with their pain and heartbreak.  The emotional depth the author instilled throughout the book was outstanding, especially in the Prince.

Lucien, the Prince, wants to care for his people and he wants to live up to his sister’s memory.  We watch throughout the tale as his internal walls slowly break down for Zera.  However, at the end of the book, it is heart-wrenching to read about how he finds out that Zera is heartless and to see her as a monster.  Throughout the book, we watch as he grows and finds the courage to try to change his nation once and for all.  His character was outstanding and I simply cherished him as the love interest.

The other side characters were just as sensational as the two main characters.  They each fought their own demons and the book in no way hides that.  Some overcome their demons while some continue to fight theirs but it made each character unique and real.  The world was stunning and the characters all the more so.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, yes, yes, a dozen times over.