Final Thoughts: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy, #1)Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

((Savage SCREAM))

That was SO GOOD.
Help me, I’m dying.

Wicked Saints is the first book in an all new YA Fantasy trilogy called, Something Dark and Holy. A more apt name for a trilogy has NEVER existed. This is so dark, so damn holy. ((clutches pearls))

This is a debut novel for this author and guys, WOW. If this is Duncan’s debut, she is definitely an author to watch.

I picked this up the day before release, as I was generously provided a copy by the publisher, Wednesday Books, in exchange for an honest review, and I am hella obsessed with this story.

The tone of this is very grimdark and we all know, I live for that. Basically, in this world, there is a holy war that has been raging for centuries between two kingdoms: Kalyazin and Tranavia. We follow three main characters: Nadya, Serefin and Malachiasz.

The world is vast and complex, yet feels like nothing to learn. Last week I reviewed another YA Fantasy book, I won’t name here, but I mentioned how I felt like I needed to be taking notes as the town the characters lived in was being explained.

That shook me out of the story and made it hard for me to connect. With this book, even though this is a vastly more complex world, I never felt that. Whilst reading Wicked Saints, I felt like I am living these events along with the characters. I never felt that I didn’t understand what was going on or how the world worked.

This, to me, is a sign of a great fantasy construct; well thought out and balanced. Even though this story takes place in a world that is being created from scratch, although clearly based on Russian/Eastern European lore, culture, etc., it never feels overwhelming and in my opinion, does not suffer at all from the dreaded ‘first book in a series’ syndrome.

Nadya, the main female protagonist, is the most fascinating to me. She was raised in a monastery in the mountains of Kalyazin where the clerics and others can commune with their pantheon of gods. Nadya is very special as she is able to commune with all the gods and she can gain magical powers from them.

Even more interesting is the fact that the gods talk back! She wears a necklace around her neck with a different bead representing each of the different gods. Depending on the situation, and what powers she may need, she holds that bead and asks that god for help. The gods are all developed with their own personality and they can offer up guidance, a friendly chat or just be silent.

I love this aspect! It makes me think of the Disney animated movie, Hercules, all the different gods you meet in that and their personalities; so much fun. It is a very unique element. I have never read anything quite like this in a YA Fantasy before.

So, due to circumstances I won’t get into here, Nadya is forced to flee the monastery, fearing for her life, and once on the road bumps into a traveling trio that includes another of our main characters, Malachiasz.

Now, Malachiasz is a complex character and one that would be a little difficult to explain without going into too much of the story. Let’s just say he was once part of a very dangerous and secretive order of powerful blood mages in the kingdom of Tranavia called the Vultures.

I know, right!? Doesn’t that sound creepy and ominous AF?

Yep. The Vultures are hella creepy masked guys and gals with the most murderous of intentions. They are so scary and powerful that they are referred to as ‘monsters’ by people outside the sect. Malachiasz is a defector from the sect. The only person known to have done so. He confesses this to Nadya and tells her he is essentially on the wrong side of the law in Tranavia.

Our final main character is Serefin, the crown Prince of Tranavia. He has been leading armies for the past few years in the never-ending war with Kalyazin but has recently been summoned home by his father, the King. Serefin is convinced his father has one goal in mind, to take him out. Is he just paranoid or does his father really want to kill him? It is clear the King isn’t playing with a full deck and he is quite volatile and secretive; whispering around with the Vultures.

When Nadya, Malachiasz and their traveling companions arrive in the capital city, set on stopping the war, whatever the cost, they come into contact with Serefin and begin to wonder, exactly whose side is he on?

The writing in this is so delicious. Dark and gothic from the very start! If you love that kind of story, set in a harsh and unforgiving world, you need to pick this book up.

I enjoyed this so much, I am already planning a reread — no joke. Most of all I am looking forward to discussing this with other readers. This is so compelling, I just know there is going to be a huge fandom for this story, this world, these characters and this author!

I am so excited to see where Duncan is going to go with this story. I just can’t even imagine what ultimately is going to happen. There are so many ways it could go, all of them bloody and brutal.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and will definitely be buying a finished copy for my collection!

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Review: Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children #2) by Seanan McGuire

Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children, #2)Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

THAT ENDING!!!

Hello, darkness, my old friend…

My goodness I am glad I gave this one a second chance. I started this last summer, put it down to participate in a readathon and just kept forgetting to pick it back up.

Now that I have completed it, I have such a strong urge to go back and read the 1st book again. This explains so much.

Jack and Jill.
Born Jacqueline and Jillian.
Jacqueline the perfect princess, prim and proper just as her mother wants.
Jillian, a tomboy, a diamond in the rough just as her father desires.
Their parents = deplorable.

Jack and Jill are 12-years old when the descend down the staircase to the Moors. Once there, they realize they each have a chance to reinvent themselves. They can live their lives as they see fit.

To live as the people they identify as. This is in complete opposition to who their parents wanted them to be; forced them to be.

One with a vampire, one with a mad scientist, what could go wrong? A lot but the truth is, the girls really enjoy their new lives and are beginning to find comfort in their true selves. Eventually tragedy strikes and they are forced back together and out of the Moors.

This story offers some great commentary on gender roles and societal expectations of children. Also, how much early parenting can affect a child’s feelings of self worth and identity.

I really enjoyed the lyrical quality to the writing and definitely plan to continue on with the series. I have a strong feeling that this story will continue to be my favorite. The world of the Moors, how it functioned and how it was described are just so totally my aesthetic. I loved it!

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Review: Ivon by Michael Aylwin

IvonIvon by Michael Aylwin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A truly unique Adult Dystopian!

For fans of classics such as 1984 and Brave New World. Added bonus if you are a sports fan.

Set in a future London, now called a commune, where society is regimented down to the most minute details, individualism is dead. People are created and raised for what they can contribute to the commune.

The highest attribute is your propensity for sport. The best at sport are the most valued members of society and there is quite a caste system based on this.

This story follows two men: Dusty Noble, the batsman of a generation and one of the most respected and valued men in London, and Ivon, a Welshman raised outside of the commune.

You see, in Wales, they live by the old ways. People have families, homes and still play sport for fun and under their own volition. Considered no more than savages by the people of Perpetual Era London.

Ivon is the son of two high profile people who were forced to leave London after it was discovered that they had feelings for one another. Relationships are not allowed and having too much interest in another is definitely a red flag to authorities.

Growing up in Wales however, Ivon knows nothing about that life. He has an incredible aptitude for sport however, which doesn’t go unnoticed by Dusty when he takes a weekend holiday to Wales.

Ivon ends up heading back to London with Dusty and both of their lives are irreparably changed because of that. The repercussions of this one decision put both men on a path they never anticipated being on. In fact, the final portion of this book is depressing AF but so clever and well drawn out. I was really impressed with this. I thought the writing was excellent and the concept behind the world construction was original and well detailed.

Overall, I thought this is a great piece of dystopian literature. Thank you so much to the publisher, RedDoor Publishing, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m sorry it took me so long to get to it as it was a fun read!

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Review: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The Silent PatientThe Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

She tied her husband to a chair.
She shot him multiple times in the head.
She slit her own wrists.
She stood there and waited for the police to arrive.

…at least, that’s what THEY say she did.
Alicia Berenson isn’t SAYING anything.

When Theo Faber, criminal psychotherapist, takes a new job at The Grove, he is well aware of their most famous patient, Alicia Berenson. In fact, Theo’s goal is to work with her, to see if he can get her to reveal what really happened on the night her husband was killed.

Through Theo’s perspective, his investigation, and Alicia’s own diary entries, the reader is brought along on a hair-raising mystery that is not for the faint of heart.

Guys, I absolutely loved this book. This is the type of thriller that I really enjoy sinking my teeth into. The use of the diary entries, paired with Theo’s investigations, made for a perfectly paced reveal!

Michaelides is definitely an author to watch. I, for one, cannot wait to see what he comes up with next. Highly recommend!

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Review: In Another Life by C.C. Hunter

In Another Life: A NovelIn Another Life: A Novel by C.C. Hunter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

When Chloe Holden moves to Joyful, Texas, with her mother, her once perfect life is in shambles. Her mother is in remission from her cancer but still very sick. Her Dad, who she has always considered her super hero, has cheated on her mom and left her for a much younger woman. They’re not speaking at all and using Chloe as a go-between.

In spite of all of this, Chloe is doing her best to hold it all together. Her mom is in the throes of a terrible depression and most days, Chloe functions more as a parent than a child. With her mom’s utter lack of being able to get out of her own way, Chloe is left to deal with a lot of stressful things by herself.

When Chloe bumps into Cash Colton at a local convenience store, he has an unexpected and far from friendly reaction to her.

Cash believes Chloe is lurking in town to scam his foster parents, the Fullers. They had a baby girl who was kidnapped when she was three years old and Chloe looks exactly like an age progression photograph that has been used to scam them before.

This would seem ludicrous except for the fact that Chloe is actually adopted. She remembers nothing of her life prior to being surrendered by her bio parents. Well nothing except for one vague memory that his been haunting her: her 3-year old self in a princess dress, sitting on a dirty sofa, crying and having a scary man tell her, your momma and daddy don’t want you anymore.

As you can imagine, this memory frightens her so she does her best to suppress it. As her and Cash eventually strike up a friendship, then begin to grow closer, he confesses to her what he fears. As they begin to explore the idea that she could actually be the missing girl, Emily Fuller, Chloe begins to remember more details.

In Another Life is a solid YA Contemporary story. I had moments in the beginning that gave me pause but as the story continued, I felt myself drawn in more and more. Chloe and Cash’s relationship was enjoyable. It was interesting to me to have two main characters who were part of the adoptive/foster care system. Both Chloe and Cash are struggling with issues stemming from that, Chloe definitely less so, and I found those topics interesting to explore.

Cash’s back story was very interesting and when I would find myself getting frustrated at some of his choices and behaviors, I had to remind myself of how he perceived the world differently than myself.

I did have a slight issue with Chloe’s mom. She was annoying AF and I think we had a bit too much of her. Her constant issues sucked me out of the story by taking the focus off of Chloe and Cash. I found her distracting, TBH. Also, I wouldn’t classify this as a mystery/thriller. I have heard some people talking about it and I think if you go into this with that assumption, you will be disappointed — at least if you read a lot of thrillers, which I do.

Overall, I enjoyed my time reading this story and would definitely pick up more works by this author. Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity.

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Review: We Set the Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

We Set the Dark on FireWe Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At The Medio School for Girls, young women are trained for one of two roles: Primera or Segunda. Before you get too excited, these are not highly challenging professions these girls aspire too. No, they are societally designed ‘womanly roles’ within a man’s household. A Primera essentially runs the business aspects of a household, while the Segunda takes care of the more emotional sides, raising children, providing humor and relaxation for the husband.

This makes school a harsh competition, as your performance there affects your future placement within a household. At graduation you are basically selected by an upper class family to marry their son and so goes the rest of you life.

Daniela Vargas has sacrificed a lot to be a student at Medio. Her parents faked documents in order for her to attend. She comes from one of the poorest neighborhoods and her lineage definitely would not make her a desired match for any up-and-coming males.

Dani graduates top of her class and is chosen as Primera for a young man who is slated to soon be running Medio, she knows she has made it. As a member of the Garcia family, the whole world will now be open to her but Dani quickly discovers this assignment isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

The Segunda of the Garcia household, Carmen, is a young lady who was very unkind to Dani at school but with no one else around, the two girls start to develop a relationship. Dani finds herself developing real feelings for Carmen but she isn’t sure if she can trust her. In her new life, she really isn’t sure if there is anyone she should trust.

Set in a wonderfully imagined LatinX dystopian world, providing timely commentary on societal roles, structure and function, this book was everything I wanted it to be. In fact, this book is everything I wanted other books to be that disappointed me.

I’m looking at you: The Belles.

I meshed really well with Mejia’s writing and upon reaching the end figured out, hey, this isn’t a standalone! Very excited for the next in the series.

With secrets and lies, rebellions and undercover agents, a female-female relationship, and so much more, I would definitely recommend this book to other YA Readers!

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Review: Part of Your World (Twisted Tales #5) by Liz Braswell

Part of Your World: A Twisted Tale: A Twisted Tale Series, book 5Part of Your World: A Twisted Tale: A Twisted Tale Series, book 5 by Liz Braswell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**2.5-stars rounded up**

Ummmmmm…

Well, that was a book.

I wasn’t crazy about this one, guys.
I just never connected to it. It’s possibly my fault. I finished the lastest edition to the Twisted Tales line-up, Mirror, Mirror, last month and really enjoyed it. Compared to that one, which does have a new author to the series, this one felt very flat and forced.

The format of this one worked against it, in my opinion. The other books I have read in this series follow the events of the Disney movies fairly closely in the beginning. Then one plot element will change, be ‘twisted’, and the rest of the book will explore what could have happened following the new plot twist.

This one did not do that. It began years after the final events of The Little Mermaid, the twist being that Ursula had won and was now married to Prince Eric.

Y’all, Ursula slays, so I am fine with that. It was just the story focus was much more political and there were just odd little details everywhere. I don’t know, it just felt so off to me in comparison with the other books in this series.

I think maybe if you aren’t as familiar with The Little Mermaid animated Disney film, you may actually enjoy this more. I think for people who are hella nostalgic over that movie, this book just won’t have the right tone for you. But, then again, I could be completely wrong and completely in the minority opinion on this, so, bottom line, if this sounds interesting to you, pick it up!

There is a reader for every book. Sadly, I just wasn’t the reader for this one!

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NOW AVAILABLE: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Hey bookworms! Welcome to my own personal gush fest, hosted by yours truly, party of 1, honoring the recent release of WICKED SAINTS by Emily A. Duncan. This is the first book in an all new YA Fantasy trilogy called, Something Dark and Holy. This is a debut novel for this author and guys, WOW. If this is Duncan’s debut, she is definitely an author to watch.

I picked this up on Monday, the day before release as I was generously provided a copy by the publisher, Wednesday Books, in exchange for an honest review, and I am hella obsessed with this story.

The tone of this is very grimdark and we all know, I live for that. Basically, in this world, there is a holy war that has been raging for centuries between two kingdoms: Kalyazin and Tranavia. We follow three main characters: Nadya, Serefin and Malachiasz.

The world is vast and complex, yet feels like nothing to learn. Last week I reviewed another YA Fantasy book, I won’t name here, but I mentioned how I felt like I needed to be taking notes as the town the characters lived in was being explained.

That shook me out of the story and made it hard for me to connect. With this book, even though this is a vastly more complex world, I have never felt that. When reading Wicked Saints, I feel like I am living these events along with the characters and have never felt like I didn’t understand what was going on or how the world worked.

This, to me, is a sign of a great fantasy construct; well thought out and balanced. Even though this story takes place in a world that is being created from scratch, although clearly based on Russian/Eastern European lore, culture, etc., it never feels overwhelming and in my opinion, does not suffer at all from the dreaded ‘first book in a series’ syndrome.

Nadya, the main female protagonist, is the most fascinating to me. She was raised in a monastery in the mountains of Kalyazin where the clerics and others can commune with their pantheon of gods. Nadya is very special as she is able to commune with all the gods and she can gain magical powers from them.

Even more interesting is the fact that the gods talk back! She wears a necklace around her neck with a different bead representing each of the different gods. Depending on the situation, and what powers she may need, she holds that bead and asks that god for help. The gods are all developed with their own personality and they can offer up guidance, a friendly chat or just be silent.

I love this aspect! It makes me think of the Disney animated movie, Hercules, all the different gods you meet in that and their personalities; so much fun. It is a very unique element. I have never read anything quite like this in a YA Fantasy before.

So, due to circumstances I won’t get into here, Nadya is forced to flee the monastery, fearing for her life, and once on the road bumps into a traveling trio that includes another of our main characters, Malachiasz.

Now, Malachiasz is a complex character and one that would be a little difficult to explain without going into too much of the story. Let’s just say he was once part of a very dangerous and secretive order of powerful blood mages in the kingdom of Tranavia called the Vultures.

Yep. The Vultures are hella creepy masked guys and gals with the most murderous of intentions. They are so scary in fact, they are referred to as ‘monsters’ by people outside the sect. Malachiasz didn’t like what they had going on so he defected. The only person known to have done so. Needless to say, he now finds himself on the wrong side of the law in Tranavia.

Our final main character is Serefin, the crown Prince of Tranavia. He has been leading armies for the past few years in the never-ending war with Kalyazin but has recently been summoned home by his father, the King. Serefin is convinced his father has one goal in mind, to take him out. Is he just paranoid or does his father really want to kill him? It is clear the King isn’t playing with a full deck and he is quite volatile and secretive; whispering around with the Vultures.

When Nadya, Malachiasz and their traveling companions arrive in the capital city, set on stopping the war, whatever the cost, they come into contact with Serefin and begin to wonder, exactly whose side is he on?

The writing in this is so delicious. Dark and gothic from the very start! If you love that kind of story, set in a harsh and unforgiving world, you need to pick this book up.

I have about 1/4 left to go and there is no way that I am not giving this 5-stars. I am already planning a reread — no joke. Most of all I am looking forward to discussing this with other readers. This is so compelling, I just know there is going to be a huge fandom for this story, this world, these characters and this author!

Click the link below for more info from the publisher:

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

I will have my full review up once I finish this book, most likely tonight! I am so excited to see how Duncan is going to wrap this up. I just can’t even imagine what ultimately is going to happen. There are so many ways it could go, all of them bloody. So, stay tuned for that, guys, and make sure you go get a copy of this for yourself!

Cheers & Happy Reading~

Blog Tour Announcement: The Last Hope (The Raging Ones #2)

The Last Hope (The Raging Ones, #2)The Last Hope by Krista Ritchie

I GOT IT! I GOT IT!! I GOT IT!!!!

Thank you, Wednesday Books!!!

I will be participating in the Blog Tour for this release!!
Stay tuned for date and more details. It will be at some point in August.

If you haven’t read The Raging Ones yet and you like scifi, I definitely recommend you pick it up before this one releases.

Me to the cover of this book:

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Review: Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

Beautiful BadBeautiful Bad by Annie Ward
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Hey now!
This really came around at the end with a delightfully twisted finish. This being said, there were parts of this that definitely dragged for me. Upon reflection, I honestly think 50- to 100-pages could have been cut from this.

The setting of this was definitely unique. Beginning in Kansas, then shifting back in time and taking us over to Eastern Europe, Iraq and back to the United States, this was one of my favorite aspects of this book. It’s not often you read an Adult Thriller that has Macedonia and the Balkans as a backdrop.

Maddie, working as a Travel Writer, meets Ian while visiting her best friend, Joanna, in Macedonia. Joanna is working for a relief agency at the time and Ian is in private security. Along with some other Brits and Americans living there at the time, they chum around, drinking and getting to know one another.

Maddie is quite taken with Ian from the very beginning and despite Joanna’s warnings, she ends up with major heart eyes for him. Jo and Maddie have a huge falling out because of this and don’t speak for many years after…but she ends up marrying Ian, so there you go.

The story begins with a murder. That was exciting right off the bat! Then Maddie is seeking help for her depression and anxiety. Her meetings with her new psychologist, also interesting. Then the history begins…

…sometimes interesting, occasionally not. Also, at times, not super believable. The fact that Joanna and Maddie call each other ‘best friends’ is astounding. They are pretty terrible to each other. With friends like this, who needs enemies?

Slowly, we piece together Maddie and Ian’s courtship and marriage, as well as the birth of their only child, Charlie. Their relationship is also terrible. It’s never great. The fact that they are trying to sell this story as a beautiful marriage gone south is laughable.

The pace definitely picks up towards the end and although I managed to piece it together prior to the reveal, I did hella enjoy the ending. So, props to you, Annie Ward! I was satisfied with this and happy I read it. I would recommend this to people who enjoy literary fiction with a mysterious or thrilling twist. Avid Adult Thriller readers may be slightly underwhelmed.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Park Row Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. As always, I appreciate the opportunity!

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