Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Highland Dragon Warrior by Isabel Cooper

Hello, friends! Happy Tuesday! It's publishing day in the book world, and there are a number of new books available. I really liked The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare, and I highly recommend it.

Today, I'm featuring a book that publishes in two weeks! Adult fantasy romance, anyone? Check out Highland Dragon Warrior, book one of a new series by Isabel Cooper. =)


About the Book:


Highland Dragon Warrior by Isabel Cooper
Book One of the Dawn of the Highland Dragon series
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: September 5, 2017

Official Summary: 

Legend claims
When Scotland fell to English rule
The Highland dragons took a vow:
Freedom at any price.

The war may be over, but so long as English magic controls the Highlands, not even a dragon laird can keep his clan safe. What Cathal MacAlasdair needs is a warrior fierce enough to risk everything, yet gifted enough to outwit an enemy more monster than man.

What he needs is Sophia.

Alchemist Sophia Metzger traveled to Loch Arach in search of knowledge. She never dreamed she’d learn to do battle, ride through the stars on the back of a dragon, or catch the eye of a Highland laird. But as her quest turns to sizzling chemistry and inescapable danger, she’ll soon discover the thrill of being caught in a dragon’s claws...




About the Author:

During the day, ISABEL COOPER maintains her guise as a mild-mannered project manager in legal publishing. In her spare time, she enjoys video games, ballroom dancing, various geeky hobbies, and figuring out what wine goes best with leftover egg rolls. Cooper lives with two thriving houseplants in Boston, Massachusetts.



The Excerpt:

Carrying a passenger was a new experience for Cathal, made doubly tense by the urgency of their errand and triply so because it was Sophia astride his back. He climbed above the clouds as smoothly as he could, and as quickly, since hesitation wouldn’t be useful. When he leveled out and felt Sophia’s weight still securely in place, with her breathing steady next to him, relief ran through him like strong drink.

Navigating by the stars, he flew slowly toward the south and Valerius’s lands, avoiding when he could any winds that would make him rise or fall too steeply or angle too sharply. It was not the most exciting bit of flying he’d ever done, but he wasn’t eager for it to end. Having Sophia close, even when he wasn’t in human shape, with the stars arcing overhead and the whole wide sky spread out before him… He could have stayed for far longer.

In time, reluctantly and more gently than he’d ascended, he dove back under the clouds to look for landmarks. He noted the small flecks of light from manors and stayed as far away as he could. Cottages were only lumps in the darkness, far harder to avoid, but they mattered less. Any peasant could claim to have seen a dragon, but it would take far longer for the story to reach anyone who knew its significance, and by that time, God willing, they’d be gone and Valerius dead.

For a while he could hear owls and bats, the few among his fellow creatures of the air who went abroad at night. Like most animals, they stayed well away from him, but he knew their cries as part of a familiar chorus.

As they approached Valerius’s lands, that chorus faded. They didn’t travel in silence as they’d done above the clouds, but the night birds’ calls were few, and many sounded weaker. Odd: he’d have expected more bats and owls near the sorcerer’s domain. Most said they were creatures of the devil.

Granted, most said that about dragons too.

Near the same time, the air changed. Cathal didn’t think anyone human would have noticed the faint staleness to it, or the slight suggestion of rot, but both were there, and got stronger the closer he flew. The colors of the land below him were muted too, even for early spring, and about them there was a hint of grayish-red, like a wound gone bad.

The land is poisoned, Lady Bellecote had said.

No wonder the birds sounded unhealthy; no wonder the crops never did very well. Even the edge of Valerius’s domain was wrong, though wrong in a way few humans could have pinpointed or even spoken about. Cathal didn’t think he needed to view the place through magical sight. For certes, he desired no such thing.

With everything in him, he wished to turn back. The thought of setting foot on the corrupted land was repugnant, and the idea of sending Sophia alone into it was worse. He felt his lips pull back into a snarl, exposing his teeth as if he could threaten Valerius from this distance—or rip his throat out—and he knew both impulses to be futile.

Only one course of action stood a chance of helping.

Near the border was a small stand of trees, far enough from any cottages that Cathal doubted anyone would come here until high summer, if that. He circled slowly down to a landing, wincing at the first contact with the earth.

It didn’t hurt, precisely. But it felt more yielding and more clinging than snowmelt or rain would explain, and he thought of how Sophia had described the earth in her dreams.

He could have no doubts about whose land they’d found.

Holding still, he felt Sophia extracting herself from the harness, then watched as she slid to the ground. Their surroundings didn’t seem to disgust her. She smiled brilliantly up at him. “That was wonderful. Amazing. I-I would write a book, would anyone believe me, and did it not expose you and yours too greatly. I… Well, I thank you.”

On the last, she ducked her head, her dark lashes long against her cheeks, and then began to undo the harness until Cathal shook his head at her.

“Oh? Very well,” she said and stepped back.

He changed. The world became bigger and higher; as always, it took a moment or two before he felt as though he moved right. He was standing in the middle of the harness, within a loop quite large enough for his body. Sophia comprehended, and laughed quietly.

“I believe I can get it back on when I return,” she said. “I hope, at least.”

“It won’t matter so much then. We’ll likely not have to hide on our way out, so I’ll not need to go so high so fast.”

“Oh,” Sophia said, and smiled again, equally brilliantly. “It’s almost a disappointment, truly. But then, if it’s in the day, it might be just as interesting to see the world from on high—and I suppose I shouldn’t be anticipating anything just yet,” she added, the smile dying.

Cathal wished he had the words to bring her smile back, or that it would be just to do so. All he could do was nod. “Seven days?”

“I should think that time enough, or as much time as we can afford. It’s not a large place.” They’d planned all this at the castle. Now they confirmed it, as much because a plan was reassuring as to keep the details fresh in their minds. “Should I need to stay longer, I’ll do my best to come back here and give you that message. And if I’m not back in seven days, you will go back to the castle.”

It was not a request, nor even a recommendation. “You’ve been speaking with Douglas.”

“He told me nothing I couldn’t have reasoned out for myself. If I… If the worst happens,” she said, and smoothed her hands over her skirt, “you’ll need to get word back, and it’ll do no good to have you come in breathing fire from above, most likely. If you go back then, you and your family can perhaps send men in, or come yourselves, or…or try the sorts of magic you know.”

There was no gap in her reasoning, no hole that Cathal could find to justify any argument. He would’ve given years of his life for one, but there was nobody to take him up on that offer, and so he could only nod. Where Sophia was going, he’d be more hindrance than help. Again he had to wait, and hope, and know himself to be useless.

Just so, it came to him, how the women in the camps must have felt before battles. His mother too, mayhap. Real war had been more distant in Cathal’s youth; his mother had been a sorceress who could aid her husband from a distance; and even in age, Artair was harder to kill than the rocks around them, but there were always threats.

If they endured, so could he. It was no new thing, sending one’s—

Before Cathal’s mind could supply the word and shock him further, Sophia spoke again. “I believe I’m well supplied enough for the journey. If you think you’ll need food, waiting, I can leave some.”
Cathal shook his head. “I’ll hunt. Should I get desperate, I’ll take a sheep and leave the coin for it later. And I’ve gone a fair few days without food before.”

“If you’re in danger,” she said, “if we were wrong and he can track your presence even here, if you have to leave, you should. Leave me a sign if you can, but if I return and you’re not here, I’ll wait a night, then try to make my way back to your lands.”

“My father’s.”

Sophia waved a hand, not understanding why the distinction was important. In truth, Cathal wasn’t sure why he’d felt the need to make it just then, but it had been irresistible. “I’m only human, and there’s nothing exceptional about me. And I have coin and skills. I’ll be all right.”

“Don’t,” he said. It was almost a growl, but she didn’t flinch.

“Very well. I have as good a chance as anyone of being all right. Better than many people would have. It…” He saw the whites of her wide eyes, the swell of her breasts as she gulped air, and the swift motion with which she pushed back a stray lock of hair, as if she could tuck away fear as quickly and completely. “It shall suffice, yes?”

“It must,” said Cathal.

He wanted to tell her again that she didn’t need to do this. She could turn away from the path before her and the blighted place to which it led. She’d done enough. But that would be insulting, he knew, and besides, it was no longer the truth. The journey into Valerius’s domain was the best hope that any of them had. Sophia was the best person to make it now.

And so there was nothing more he could do.

“We will come for you,” he said. “If you’re captured. I’ll pluck Agnes out of her tower if I need to and get her to weave spells for us, or I’ll drag my father home from his treaties. Or I’ll manage what’s needed myself. I can, given time.”

Unexpectedly, she smiled again, and in her smile was an echo of those hours flying beneath the stars, with only the two of them and no need for words. Even Cathal didn’t see her move when she stepped forward. She flowed toward him, reached up, and cupped the side of his face in one hand. “I would never doubt it,” Sophia said.

“You’re wrong,” he said thickly, and clasped her shoulders in his hands. She looked up at him, startled, about to argue the point. “Not about rescue. Earlier.”

“Wha—”

Everything about you is exceptional,” he said, and kissed her before she could reply.

Rather, she didn’t reply in words. Her response was as desperate as his embrace. Sophia didn’t melt into his arms so much as throw hers around him, grasping him with the urgent strength he remembered from the flight, now colored and transformed by sensuality. As her mouth opened before his, her hands roamed his back, short nails almost scoring his skin even through his clothing.

He kissed her as if by sheer force he could make them both forget what waited, as though with his lips and tongue and his hands on her breasts he could himself cast a spell to banish Valerius to whatever hell would claim him in the end. He drank Sophia’s little gasps of desire like the strongest wine and wanted nothing more than to hear those sounds, to feel her fingers twined in his hair, to think of nothing else, to think nothing at all.


The Giveaway: 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Review: Thirteen Rising by Romina Russell


Thirteen Rising by Romina Russell
Book Four of the Zodiac series
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Rating: 3 stars
Source: Review copy sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

Romina Russell’s epic sci-fi fantasy series reaches its breathtaking conclusion with this fourth and final novel.

The master has been unmasked. Rho’s world has been turned upside down. With her loved ones in peril and all the stars set against her, can the young Guardian from House Cancer muster the strength to keep fighting? Or has she finally found her match in a master whose ambition to rule knows no limits?

What I Liked:

***SPOILER-FREE REVIEW*** 

(At least in terms of Thirteen Rising. Spoilers for Zodiac, Wandering Star, and/or Black Moon are possible.)

I'd been looking forward to reading Thirteen Rising since I found out that there would be a fourth book in the series. I'd found this out before Black Moon was published last year, and while I didn't love the idea of more waiting, I was on board with it after reading Black Moon. Black Moon was incredible and definitely my favorite of the series, but the ending was extremely cliffhanger-y. Thirteen Rising picks up fairly quickly after Black Moon ends, and the story takes off from there. I so wanted to love Thirteen Rising but sadly, I didn't. I didn't hate it either though.

In this final novel, Rho must face her fears, brave her grief, and fight to save the Zodiac from the master, who has been unmasked. Her loved ones are dead, in trouble, or pushed away by her decisions, and Rho is desperate, too desperate, hold on to something to fight for. Will she rise and fight, or will she bow and fall?

My liking of this book rose and fell like the sun rising and setting. In the very beginning, I was hooked and cheering for Rho. And then she pissed me off and I was frustrated. And then I felt like I could cheer her on again. And then she pissed me off some more. I had a love-hate relationship with the book, I suppose. 

I have to respect Rho for being consistent - she has been consistently impulsive and reckless in this series, and it gets her into all kinds of ridiculous trouble. Her mistakes cost her, but also cost her friends and family. She never learns, never listens, but she also finds her way, amid her mistakes. While I was frustrated with Rho, I could see her growing up in this book. And in the series in general.

I adored Hysan and his incredible brain. He is easily the most intelligent and clever character of this series. He doesn't trust anyone and holds so many secrets, but it's hard to fault him for that. He has a good heart and he is entirely too selfless, especially when it comes to Rho. I honestly think he deserved better, someone who didn't play with his emotions back and forth like a seesaw.

I wasn't pleased with the romance but I was happy to see that there was no love triangle in this book. The only ship is Hysan and Rho, and I liked them theoretically, but Rho kept not giving them a chance. I wanted their relationship to be so much healthier, but it wasn't. 

The story, for the most part, was interesting kept my attention. I couldn't wait to get to the end to see how things shook out. I admit, I was a little confused, as the climax drew closer and things started to pick up. But overall, the story was well-paced. The science-y aspect of the story is incredibly important in this book, with the central conflict of this book dealing with portals and Psy energy and taking down a powerful force. There is a lot going in this book!

The ending is very positive and tidy! It ends well for almost everyone. I love HEAs and many characters got theirs. I actually could see the author continuing the series, though I believe four books is the extent of Rho's story. Thirteen Rising wrapped up the series very well, and it is definitely a satisfying conclusion to the quartet.

What I Did Not Like:

I don't want to spoil anything, so I'm going to be vague, which might not be very helpful. Apologies in advance. I fully believe that if you've come this far (i.e. you've read Black Moon and those before), you should read Thirteen Rising. I had issues with the book, but that doesn't mean everyone will.

I honestly couldn't stand Rho, for most of the book. Sometimes, I wanted to stand and applaud and cheer her on. Most of the time, I wanted to shake her and possible slap her. I'm not a violent person! But Rho had me feeling irritated. She is stuck in her grief and shuts everyone out. But what's worse is that she pushes Hysan away, and hurts Hysan in many ways - specifically Hysan. Everyone else, she is distant with. But with Hysan, she lashes out. Hysan deserves none of her cruelty. She lies to him, tricks him, deceives him, and she knows she is wrong to do so, but she convinces herself that she is doing this for everyone's good. (Spoiler alert: she isn't doing it for everyone's good, and she ends up making a huuuuge miscalculation every time she lies to him or does something that he warns her not to do.) Rho doesn't like being told what to do, especially by Hysan, and yet, every time she does something that he asks or advises her not to do, SHE MAKES SOME BIG MISTAKES. The idea is to show that Rho is a strong female, right? And yet, she is wrong. Every time. 

Rho emotionally manipulates Hysan, and it is wrong. She acts like she loves him, and then she tells herself that she doesn't. She tells him that she doesn't. She pushes him away. She tells him she no longer feels the same way. But she wants his help, she wants his leadership, she wants his brilliant mind. This is so wrong because (1) she is lying to him, and to herself, (2) she is using him, and (3) she keeps changing her mind about needing him or not needing him. It's so wrong. Rho loves him but doesn't want to, she loves him but convinces herself that he doesn't trust her, she convinces herself that some other girl is trying to steal him... Rho needs to grow up. And she does, by the end of the book. But you'd think, after three books, she would be better than this by now.

I hated how Hysan forgave her and stuck with her. I really wanted to see Rho suffer for making him suffer. I never like unhealthy relationships and Rho poisons this one. Hysan is nothing but supportive and understanding, even when she lashes out and hurts him. He is always still be her side. But Rho is so bad for him. This relationship is so abusive and toxic and I hated what Rho made it. I hated how Hysan seemed like he was her pet, on a leash. Hysan is so much more than that, and I felt like he needed to break himself free and move on. 

I also hated how Rho never really feels accountable for any of the hurt she causes him. She feels an ounce of guilt here and there, but I wanted to see her suffer and hurt like she hurt him. Or, at the very least, apologize and grovel. Hysan barely got angry with her! This isn't healthy! She never apologizes! What, does she think she's too good for that? Look, guys. I'm all for female and empowerment and whatnot (which is very obviously what this author is going for - trying too hard, by the way). But part of being a strong and capable female is knowing when you've hurt someone (male or female), and owning up to it. Acknowledging and apologizing. Rho should have been groveling to that selfless boy who couldn't see past her, who was so patient with her. Honestly, if they were two people in real life, I would beg Hysan to get himself out of an abusive relationship. Emotional manipulation is just as abusive as physical abuse.

So I didn't enjoy the romance. The idea of Hysan and Rho together was awesome and I shipped them so much in Black Moon, but I didn't really want to ship them in this book. I kind of really wanted to see Hysan get himself out of the relationship and maybe starting something new with someone else. He deserved so much better - he deserved someone who didn't constantly question his feelings or trust, who didn't treat him like s**t but still expect him to be waiting for her.

Besides that, I felt a little disconnected from the story. Not engaged, maybe. I reread the ending of Black Moon to get myself back into the story, and I was so excited to start Thirteen Rising. Black Moon was my favorite book of the series - it was excellent. So I had high hopes for this conclusion novel. But somehow it felt underwhelming and not impressive. I wouldn't say I was bored, but perhaps just incredibly disengaged and not amused. I barely understood what was happening, in the final chapters. What were they trying to do? Ophiucus was relevant how?

And then the very ending - I loved the ending, don't get me wrong. But what next? What comes after? It just seemed like the story ended with the final "battle" scene, but nothing was addressed in terms of the state of affairs. The Zodiac? The leaders? The titles? I have so many questions about the structure of the Houses and what happens next. This is why I made the statement about there being more books in this series (but maybe not Rho's story), because the ending doesn't seem all there. Or maybe a nice epilogue would answer some of my questions.

Would I Recommend It:

Like I said before, if you've come this far, and read all of the previous books, you have to read Thirteen Rising. If you haven't read any of the books in the series, or have only read Zodiac, I wouldn't bother with the series. There is a love triangle in the first two books, and this final book is disappointing. Black Moon was awesome but definitely not enough for me to recommend reading the entire series. Try Kaufman and Spooner's Starbound series if you're looking for space-related books. Or The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid, or Starflight by Melissa Landers, or the Avalon duology by Mindee Arnett. This series gets maybe a 2.5/3-star rating overall.

Rating:

3 stars. I'm disappointed that I'm rating this book with a meh rating, but at the same time, the book wasn't bad, and it definitely could have been worse. It's a fair ending to the series. I'm disappointed about the romance and Rho's behavior, but I'm sure other readers who are fans of the series might look past all of that and love the book. Overall, the series was only okay for me. I don't know if I'll read anything new by the author in the future, but I'm glad I stuck it out with this series and gave it a a fair shot.


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Review: Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo


Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
Book One of the DC Icons series
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

She will become one of the world’s greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning....

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

What I Liked:

I expected to enjoy this book, but it is always so satisfying when that comes to pass. Leigh Bardugo has written a wonderful. thrilling story, with strong friendships, fierce girls, and high stakes. I don't know much about the DC Icons, or Wonder Woman, but I really loved this story.

Before she became Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons. Diana has always been different compared to her Amazonian sisters, because of her origin. She was born of the island, whereas all of the other women came to the island as warriors. Diana has always wanted to leave the island, or at the very least, prove herself to her sisters in arms. When a ship wrecks at the coast, Diana knows better than to save humans and bring them to the island - but she tries anyway. A girl, Alia Keralis, is the only survivor. Diana learns from the island's oracle that Alia is the Warbringer, a harbinger of death and war, descended from Helen of Troy. Diana must bring Alia to the resting place of Helen, in Greece, or war will consume the World of Man, and Themyscira too. 

This story starts at a quick pace and never lets up. Within the first chapter, the conflict begins, with the shipwreck and Diana saving Alia. Alia is of the modern world, and she thinks Diana is part of a cult on a very strange but very beautiful island. When Diana takes Alia away from the island, they end up in New York, which is Alia's home. From there, the real battle begins, as there are many who want to kill the Warbringer. I love the pacing of this story - there was never a dull moment, but it wasn't too fast either.

The story is told in third person, but not entirely from Diana's POV. Some chapters are told from Alia's POV. I liked that this story was told in third person and from both girls' POV. Diana is a complete stranger to the World of Man, though she has read many books available to her on the island. It was fun to see Diana's reactions to things like boys (she'd never seen males before), parties, fancy dresses, and so on. It was great to read from Alia's POV, since she had so much to take in, in terms of her being a Warbringer.

I adored Diana from the start. She struggles to prove herself to the Amazons, and wants to be so much more. She is already an amazing warrior, but not good enough for many Amazons. In the human world, she is so kickbutt and fierce. She is powerful, fast, and fearless. Diana is a force of nature, and so determined and committed. Once she has her mind set on protecting Alia and bringing her to the spring, she never wavers from her goals. Diana needs this journey as much as Alia does, because she proves to herself that she is capable of being an Amazon.

Alia is similar to the Diana, in that she wants to prove herself to people like her brother, who shield her from the world. Alia has always been in some sort of danger, but she thought it was because of her family - her parents were scientists and they were not liked for their research. Learning that she is a Warbringer is, of course, shocking, but things start to make sense. Alia is just as brave and as tough as Diana but in different ways. She may be human but she is no less fierce and stubborn. She is determined to see the world not fall apart, even if it meant her dying if they never reached the spring.

The cast of secondary characters were so fun! There is Nim, Alia's best friend, who is hilarious, so creative, and an incredible friend. There is Theo, the goofy best friend of Alia's brother, and also Alia's childhood crush. There is Jason, Alia's older brother, who is overprotective of his little sister - but with good reason. Together, these five (Nim, Theo, Jason, Alia, and Diana) make a formidable team. They are all concerned with Alia's safety, and the impending war. Diana learns through them that humans are not as weak and greedy as they might seem in books. These humans are brave and resilient and selfless.

Let's talk ships! There are so many great ships in this story. We learn pretty quickly that a guy named Theo is important to Alia, though we don't know if he is Alia's boyfriend or an ex or somewhere in-between. (It turns out that they've known each other for forever, and Alia likes him, and he likes Alia, but they don't know of each other's feelings). I love their slow-burn romance and quiet chemistry! Theo is a so nerdy and goofy, and Alia is so tough and determined. They are a cute pair, and I loved their interactions (even if the romance didn't fully manifest until the end). 

Then there is Diana and Jason, who I shipped as soon as they met (their first meeting is soooo funny). They have some intense chemistry but their romance is not at the forefront of the story - neither is Alia and Theo's, for that matter. Still, I was rooting for Diana and Jason, even if I had a feeling how the story would end. I was wrong about some things about the ending, this romance being one of them. Imagine that!

I had to mention Nim, who didn't have a specific person that I could ship her with, but I adored her and her escapades. Nim is gay, though I believe it is stated that she is understanding her sexuality and might be bi. I wanted so badly to ship her with someone! The ending hints at a revived romance between another character (that I haven't mentioned), which made me happy.

While I mentioning on the topic of representation, I should mention how wonderful diverse the characters are. Nim is gay as I mentioned. Alia and Jason are half-black, half-Greek, and the topic of race does come up in this book, as Diana doesn't understand why Alia and Jason would be treated differently because of the color of their skin. All of these characters felt like they belonged in this story - not like the author was trying to meet a quota.

The friendships in this book are just as important, if not more important. I love how close Alia and Nim are - their friendship is so strong and positive. That is the type of best-friends relationship I love to see. I also loved how close Alia and Diana became, and in general, how close the three girls became. They are a part of a sisterhood of their own, sisters in arms, warriors in their own right. They were fierce in their own way, and they were fierce together.

Did I mention that this book was incredibly feminist but not in an overwhelming, in-your-face kind of way? I didn't go in to this novel looking for it to be super feminist (if that makes sense?), but I couldn't help but notice how subtly empowering it was. Whether it was Diana's remarks to a character, or how she led the battles, or how Alia stood up for herself... there were many obvious subtleties that made this story so empowering. I loved this.

The world-building was so on point! I mentioned that I knew nothing about Wonder Woman... I didn't know about the Amazons, or Themyscira, or anything like that. Bardugo supplied enough information for me to understand the world and the backstory though. I love how much Greek mythology is involved in Wonder Woman's story! Bardugo does an amazing job of setting up both the world of Themyscira, and the modern world surrounding the Warbringer history.

This book ends in a way that you won't expect! Well, I didn't see it coming. Bardugo has a way with creating villains... you just don't see them coming. Still, parts of the ending made other parts of the ending easier to accept. You kind of know how the book will end in one way, but the ending in general has a surprising twist. Remember, this is the story of Diana, before she becomes Wonder Woman! And what a fantastic story it was.

What I Did Not Like:

Nothing specific comes to mind, which is nice!

Would I Recommend It:

Anyone who loves a story about two fierce girls who save the world will love this book. You don't have to know a single thing about Wonder Woman - heck, I didn't! I was so confused about the whole Amazon thing, before reading this book (I'd never bothered to look up the story of Wonder Woman). Bardugo does an amazing job of setting the scene and giving enough information so that any reader could enjoy this prequel story of Wonder Woman. It's a fantasy story set in modern times, and I think any reader would the book, given how much genre crossover is involved.

Rating:

4.5 stars. This kind of story makes a reader feel incredibly hopeful and inspired, even if it is fiction (and fantasy, at that). On some level, we are all Diana, trying to be better and prove ourselves. I can't wait to read the rest of the books in this series!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Stacking the Shelves (#243)


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which bloggers share the books and swag they've received in the past week!


So, what did I get in the week of Sunday, August 13th to Saturday, August 19th?


(all links to Goodreads are provided!)


In the mail:



Two trades, one from Madalyn (STD) and one from Shannon (TBQ)! I've read and loved Strange the Dreamer, and The Bone Queen is for my sister. She loves the series!



Well hello there... I did not expect this in my mailbox! Check out my collection of Maiden Lane books! Now I've got one more. I'm excited to read this new one!



I won Penguin Teen's Twitter giveaway! Most of you know that I am a huge Cashore fan... oddly enough, I never owned paperback copies of the Graceling Realm books. Now I do!


Legacy of Kings notebook
Caraval card

A trade with Shannon (a different Shannon)! Thank you, lady! I just love that notebook. 


From Edelweiss:

    

Thank you so much, S&S! I'm so excited about all of these! Especially The Becoming of Noah Shaw.


Reviews from this week:

  
(Click on the covers to go to my reviews!)


Giveaways from this week:

  
(Click on the covers to go to my posts!)


Favorite Instagram post from this week:

I am a huge fan of Renée Ahdieh and her books. I got to meet her at the NoVa Teen Book Festival this past March, which was a dream come true. I've been collecting editions and swag of her books. One of the my best finds was a paperback of Fanfare, which is Renée's lesser-known adult debut novel from 2011. The book is available on B&N Nook but it hasn't been in print for years. This is a wonderful addition to my Renée Ahdieh collection! It's a cute romance too. 😍 Have you heard of this book? Smoke in the Sun, book two of the Flame in the Mist duology, will be published on May 1, 2018! NEED! Follow Renée Ahdieh and Penguin Teen for updates - including the upcoming cover reveal! #RenéeAhdieh #Fanfare #FlameInTheMist #TheWrathAndTheDawn #TheRoseAndTheDagger ##SmokeInTheSun #YA #Fantasy #Romance #Retelling #YABooks #AmReading #Favorites #BookCollection #PenguinTeen #GPPutnamsSons #HodderBooks #BookBlogger #Bookstagram
A post shared by Alyssa Susanna (@theeaterofbooks) on


This week was not bad at all! I had a productive week at work and on the blog, behind the scenes. I'm really excited about the eclipse on Monday - I even bought the solar sunglasses! Hopefully nothing adverse happens though. Baltimore is only experiencing the partial, but that's okay. It'll still be neat. I hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Review: Compromised in Paradise by Samanthe Beck


Compromised in Paradise by Samanthe Beck
Book Three of the Compromise Me series
Publisher: Entangled Brazen
Publication Date: August 28, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

Stressed out hotel heiress Arden St. Sebastian is in Maui for one thing and one thing only. Work. But when the hottie at the bar buys her a drink to end all frilly umbrella-and-glow stick drinks, she can’t help but accept his unspoken invitation. When they get back to her villa, however, and the sexy moment of truth arrives, she can’t…quite…get there. Again.

ER resident Nick Bancroft can handle a night of fun, anonymous sex, but he draws the line at a fake orgasm. He makes his mystery woman a deal. He’ll take care of her little stress-induced orgasm problem if she’ll spend the next six days exploring the island with him, no questions asked. 

A week of island relaxation on the arm of the sexiest man she’s ever met? Arden’s game. As long as she keeps her identity secret, she’s got nothing to lose…except her heart.

What I Liked:

This book was sexy, humorous, and so fun! Out of all of Beck's books - most of which are sexy, humorous, and fun - this is probably the most fun story she has written. I'm very happy with the love story she gave Arden, who is an amazing young woman. I adored Nick Bancroft, more than I did in the previous books. Together, they made an excellent pair.

Arden St. Sebastian is looking for a little relief. She has been stressed about so many things, including her father nagging her and taking over her personal life after her last relationship went south. Arden works hard and loves her job, but sometimes she is so overwhelmed. A week in Maui at one of her father's hotel properties should do the trick... especially when she meets a sexy stranger who is definitely her type. Nick Bancroft is good at his job, and very good at sex. It's lust at first sight when he sees this mystery woman at a bar one evening, and one thing leads to another. They only have a few days together, but they are going to make it count. But what happens when it stops being just sex, and becomes more? What happens when they find out the truth about each other?

From the start, this book was flirty and fun and sexy. The pair meet at a bar, but they don't give each other their names. They don't know who each other is. What's wild is that Arden has a date in six days with the nephew of the former owners of the property - and Nick has a date in six days with the daughter of the new owner. Wild, right? But Arden and Nick have no idea about each other, because throughout all of their interactions in this book, they don't give each other their names. It's part of the fun, making up a ridiculous identity and having fun with it.

Arden is a hard worker, and constantly stressed. So the arrangement works for her. She's usually a fun person, when she isn't stressed and nagged. She loves the purely physical relationship she has with Nick (she knows him as Rider). 

Nick works hard at the hospital - he is a senior ER resident and he is looking to climb up the ranks. He doesn't do commitments, so meeting Arden is destiny. Nick is a good guy with a big heart. He is also charming, intense, and very sexy. He and Arden are great for each other, and they have a lot of fun together. 

This book is all kinds of hot! Seriously, this has to be one of Beck's hottest books. There are a few kinky scenes, but I liked them just fine. I don't read a ton of erotica (just sexy romance) but I don't think this book crosses into the erotica territory, though it toes the line. Nick and Arden have great chemistry and that leads to some very passionate, sexy scenes. Their dynamic works well, with Arden liking to be handled, and Nick being an alpha male who likes to please.

I liked how involved Beck gets when it comes to writing about the protagonists' jobs. We know the ins and outs of Arden's job, and Nick's job. Their jobs are important to them, and Beck makes it appear so to the readers. Beck doesn't just make Nick an ER resident because hot doctors make great male protagonists - no, she does her research and makes sure that we know he is an ER resident and his job isn't a prop or a simple role. Same with Arden and her job.

The climax isn't as drama-filled as some romance novels, though there is some miscommunication and a tiny bit of drama. But it really isn't bad. The book ends very well for the pair! It's a HEA and the epilogue is so cute. I'm not sure if this is the end of the series, but it fills like it. I would be okay with that! The ending is lovely, for all three couples. 

What I Did Not Like:

I can't think of anything specific! For once, I think this romance novel had the perfect amount of sexy times (usually that is my complaint with romance novels - they don't have enough). 

Would I Recommend It:

I highly recommend this book - or any of Beck's books - if you're looking for steamy contemporary romance that is also a little on the fun and humorous side! Nothing dark and heavy in her books, no angst and minimal drama. Beck is so creative with the characters, their jobs, their lives, their problems. She is also suuuuuper creative with the sexy times. The books are very, very hot, you are warned!

Rating:

4 stars. I can't wait to read a new Entangled Brazen book by this author - hopefully she has more coming! I've enjoyed her old Entangled Brazen books and her new ones, and I'll definitely be looking out for future ones. She is an auto-read author for me!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Swoon Thursday (#238): All the Stars Left Behind by Ashley Graham


- From the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering

- Try to make the swoon excerpt 140 characters (or less), if you are going to tweet about it. Use the hashtag #YABOUND when tweeting


This week, my swoon is from All the Stars Left Behind by Ashley Graham!


He froze completely, his mouth a stone wall against hers. She licked his lips with the tip of her tongue, waiting for him to respond. He didn't even seem to be breathing. A second later though, he began to kiss her back. Hips lips parted and she shared his sigh, savored the feel and taste of him. Leda slid her arms up, fingers seeking his shoulders. Heat poured off him and scalded her fingertips. Her body softened as he brought his hands to her face, pulling her even closer. A strong swell of desire rose up in her, jumbling her thoughts. She couldn't touch enough of him, needed more.

- Finished copy, page 110



I picked up this book on a whim! It's okay so far - on the super plus side, there have been a lot of swoons. I had my choice of them!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Blog Tour and Giveaway: The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell


Welcome to the blog tour for The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell! This is book one of a new fantasy duology. Isn't the cover gorgeous? I've got an excerpt below if you need a little extra convincing. And there are TWO giveaways!


About the Book:


The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
Book One of The Last Magician series
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: July 18, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Stop the Magician.
Steal the book.
Save the future.

In modern day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she's been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta's training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1901 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.



About the Author:


Lisa Maxwell is the author of The Last Magician, Unhooked, Sweet Unrest, and The Gathering Deep. She grew up in Akron, Ohio, and has a PhD in English. She’s worked as a teacher, scholar, editor, writer, and bookseller (at Little Professor Book Center in Alabama). When she’s not writing books, she’s a professor at a local college. She now lives near Washington, DC, with her husband and two sons. You can follow her on Twitter @LisaMaxwellYA or learn more about her upcoming books at Lisa-Maxwell.com.



The Excerpt:


Dolph Saunders was born for the night. The quiet hours when the city went dark and the streets emptied of the daylight rabble were his favorite time. Though they might have been criminals or cutthroats, those out after the lamps were lit were his people—the dispossessed and disavowed who lived in the shadows, carving out their meager lives at the edge of society.  Those who understood that the only rule that counted was to not get caught.

That night, though, the shadows weren’t a comfort to him. Tucked out of sight, across the street from J.P. Morgan’s mansion, he cursed himself for not being able to do more. His crew was late, and there was an uneasiness in the air—it felt too much like the night was waiting for something to happen. Dolph didn’t like it one bit. Not after so many had already disappeared, and especially not when Leena’s life was at stake.


It wasn’t unusual for people to go missing in his part of the city. Cross the wrong street and you could cross the wrong gang. Cross the wrong boss, and you might never be heard from again. But those with the old magic, especially those under Dolph’s protection, usually knew how to avoid most trouble. A handful of his own people disappearing in the span of a month? It couldn’t be an accident. 


Dolph didn’t doubt the Order was to blame, but they’d been quiet recently. There hadn’t been a raid in the Bowery for weeks, which was unusual on its own.  But even with their Conclave coming up at the end of the year, his people hadn’t heard even a whisper to hint at the Order’s plans. Dolph didn’t trust the quiet, and he wasn’t the type to let those loyal to him go without answers. So Leena, Dolph’s partner in absolutely everything, had gotten herself hired as a maid in Morgan’s house. Morgan was one of the Orders highest officials, and they’d hoped someone in the household would let something slip.


 For the past couple of weeks, she’d polished and scrubbed…and hadn’t found out anything about the missing Mageus. Then, two nights ago, she didn’t come home. 

He should have gone himself. They were his people, his responsibility. If anything happened to her…

He forced himself to put that thought aside. She would be fine. Leena was smart, strong, and more stubbornly determined than anyone he knew. She could handle herself in any situation. But her magic only worked on the affinities of other Mageus. It would be useless against the Order. 


As though in answer to his dark thoughts, a hired carriage pulled up to the side of the house. They hadn’t been expecting a delivery that night, and the arrival only heightened Dolph’s apprehension. With the carriage obscuring his view, he wouldn’t be able to see if there was trouble. 


Before he could move into a different position, angry male voices spilled out into the night. A moment later, the door of the carriage slammed shut and the driver cracked his whip to send the horses galloping off.


Dolph watched it disappear, his senses prickling in foreboding as the sound of fast footsteps approached. He gripped his cane, ready for whatever came. 


Giveaway #1: