REVIEW: A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston

*I received a free uncorrected digital version of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. (I’m aware I’m very late in getting to it)

21524446Title: A Thousand Nights
Author: E.K. Johnston
Published: October 6, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retelling
Format: Ebook
Goodreads | Amazon

Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time. But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

      A Thousand Nights is a beautiful story about a young unnamed female character who could not bare to lose her sister to the king who had killed 300 brides already, so she purposely made herself into a vision of beauty so she’d be taken instead. The entire tale is full of bravery, cleverness, and a strength that really brought the whole story together to make it feel as real as it possibly could. It’s infused with magic and love and darkness, though in the end, it all comes together.

The prose was elegant, and incredibly well done. The world-building was on point, too and very real (I assume, since I have never lived in a desert before). The desert tribes, their lives, were brilliantly written. I almost wanted to find one and join in! They work hard, they have tough lives, but they never complain and they are so strong. They sing and dance and have such lovely traditions, and they are incredibly wise from all that they have lived through. If our unnamed bride had not come from her home in the desert, I doubt she would have fared so well against the king. In fact, she probably would’ve died, but since her family had prayed for her since she took her sister’s place, she grew a strange power.

The King has a power too, though. It kills, and it destroys. He claimed at one point that they were the same, but she does not destroy or kill, she fixes things and tries to help to the best of her ability. At first I wasn’t sure what to make of her, but it became very clear early on that she is loyal, strong, brave, and clever. She was not bitter or angry with her life, even if her sister had a shadow she was supposed to live in.

      “I am not you,” I said to her. I was not bitter. She had never made me feel the lesser, and she had only scorn for those who did.

She couldn’t, for the life of her, allow Lo-Melkhiin to take her sister away when everyone loved her so dearly. She wanted to protect her sister, and her love for her was so fierce that she made sure she would be the one taken.

    “Lady mother, we must be quick if we are to save your daughter.”

My sister’s mother looked up and clung to the silk I offered to her.

“How?” she said to me, an I saw a desperate hope burn in her eyes.

Lo-Melkhiin took a little longer for me to really form an opinion on. He was cruel but clever, strong but weak in wanting power so much. He didn’t care about the lives he took, nor did he care that he took so many. He got power from it, so who was he to deny more? And yet there were glimpses of a kind man, of who he used to be. And it wasn’t until I read of how he was in the desert and came back changed that I realized what had happened. There were many twists that I did not see coming, and it kept the story fresh and me intrigued. I had a hard time putting the book down.

“It was never enough for me. I craved more.”

The magic never felt separate to the story, as it tends to. It was entangled in the stories told, entwined with each word spoken and unsaid, and it was a part of both King and unnamed bride. There were wonderful creations, lives destroyed, lives given back, and there was a strength that came from it. If Lo-Melkhiin decided to mess up the women’s crafts, she fixed it. If Lo-Melkhiin decided to make one of his guards carve stones with eyes that are wrong to everyone but him, so be it, but she will do her best to help the carver. And if Lo-Melkhiin decided to bring out his kind to take down many, she fought him until there was no more war.

The author did a magnificent job with this book, and I definitely intend to buy A Thousand Night and the companion novel when it comes out. This book is worth a re-read, which I almost never do. I definitely recommend reading it!

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REVIEW: Playing Hearts by W.R. Gingell

29235125Title: Playing Hearts
Author: W.R. Gingell
Published: March 10, 2016
Format: Ebook
Goodreads | Amazon

It begins the way it has always begun: with a card on Mabel’s pillow. But Mabel has been in Underland–or Wonderland–before, and she’s not so anxious to go back. No matter what name it takes, Underland is always bizarre, always mad, always dangerous.
There’s the Queen of Hearts, terrifying, powerful, and possibly insane.
There’s Hatter, purple-eyed and undoubtedly mad.
March Hare has always been one sandwich short of a picnic, and Sir Blanc is missing his wits.
And then there’s Jack. Jack the aristocratic son of the Queen. Not quite mad, but not far off. Disinclined to help anyone but himself. A liar.
And, thanks to an ancient ceremony performed by the Queen, Mabel’s fiance.
Fall into the rabbit hole with Mabel as she climbs through tea-pots, battles the Jabberwock, and attempts to overthrow the Queen of Hearts herself.
Don’t lose your head.
And whatever you do, don’t be late…

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

This is a lovely novella full of unique situations, great characters, and similarities to “Alice in Wonderland”. It was different in its own way though, despite the similarities, so I applaud the author for a job well done!

In the beginning, we follow Mable as she first visits Underland and is blood bonding to Jack at the young age of 3. We follow her journey all the way to the end when Jack is a month or so away from being 25. At first her visits are pleasant and happy, so she’s always eager to return, especially after she met Hater and Hare. But it gradually becomes a place full of terror as the Queen tends to love spilling blood when she’s bored. Mable’s presence leads to a rebellion, and when something terrible happens to a friend of hers, she swears never to return to keep them safe. However, the rebellion takes action.

I adore how the author wrote Mable’s gradual understanding of Underland. She goes from knowing how she gets there to figuring out better methods of visiting. Then she finds out she can see them through water, and then change things, and then hear them. She experiments with things until she finds out a new method of connecting with Underland, which I thought was well paced. Her voice doesn’t really change as she grows though, which was a little disappointing, but everything else that changed in her was well done. She takes action, finds out the truth, and she stands up for what she believes in, even if that’s freeing a bunch of prisoners or tricking the Queen.

Which brings me to the fight at the end. It was a little too lackluster for me, as it seemed so simple and made me wonder why Mable didn’t do it before but it was still good.

The pacing is fast at times, but it mostly maintained an even pace throughout the novella. I like how things happened and I wouldn’t change anything, not even to make something happen quicker or not at all.

The plot is great. Mable spends a large portion of the book learning things about Underland and herself, bettering her skill and getting stronger. She does that in multiple ways, whether it’s saving her friends from a creature or watching as things happen. This means that by the time she has to fight, she’s well prepared.

Overall, this novella is great, and I definitely recommend it to anyone.

REVIEW: Spindle by W.R. Gingell

*I received a free physical arc of this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review. (Sorry it took so long!)

Title: Spindle
Author: W.R. Gongell
Series: (Two Monarchies Sequence #1)
Publication date: August 10th, 2015
Genres: Fantasy. Young Adult

Synopsis [from Goodreads]:

She’s not a princess . . . but then, he’s no prince.

Polyhymnia is deep in enchanted sleep. High in a tower, behind an impenetrable barrier of magical thorns, she sleeps, dreams, and falls ever deeper into her curse.
Woken by a kiss, Poly finds herself in an alien world where three hundred years have passed and everyone she has ever known is dead. Luck, the enchanter who woke her, seems to think she is the princess. Understandable, since he found her asleep on the princess’ bed, in the royal suite, and dressed in the princess’ clothes.
Who cursed Poly? Why is someone trying to kill her and Luck? Why can’t she stop falling asleep?
And why does her hair keep growing?

Sometimes breaking the curse is just the beginning of the journey.

Format: Paperback ARC
Stars: 4.5/5

This book is incredible, as is the author. It took me far too long to finally read Spindle as I got much busier than expected, but now I have read it and I can say it’s definitely worth a re-read. I rarely re-read books.

The characters in this novel are so lovely you can’t help but fall in love with them! They’re well crafted, seem fairly real, and there’s this way about them that you just can’t ignore, nor explain. For one, Luck is far more than he seems. He’s not so fond of people (as was shown when he forgot about/ignored helping the villagers with their magical problems continuously [he’s the village wizard, as they call him]), is often in his own world (while he and Poly were traveling to his home he often had distant eyes and tended to ignore her), and seems to rarely care about those around him. However, he is extremely smart and always has a plan (he tricked Poly’s curse to wake her, and then fully broke it a long while after, as he did not wake her with a lover’s kiss as was needed), and he actually cares very deeply about those he considers family or loves (he did everything in his power to break Poly’s curse, as well as made sure she was safe and protected). That’s just one example of a well crafted and lovely character W.R. Gingell has created. And there’s plenty others to come, I’m sure.

I adore the world, the descriptions/imagery, as well as the plot. I admit, the story started off a bit confusing as we were immediately thrown into Poly’s confusion and lack of memories as the action happened around her, but it cleared up and we were left with a fantastically written world (shifting villages, houses that grew from nature and continue to, the Frozen Battlefield, The Forest, and the counsels: Wizard counsel, Black velvet.) with great descriptions. I honestly had a hard time putting this book down, and devoured 95% of it the day I started reading it.

I also adore how the author writes her curses. They’re never easily solved, and while they aren’t simple, they aren’t too complex either. I love how the curse needed a true loves kiss to be broken, and Luck was able to trick it and still wake her with a kiss without loving her. I also like how she kept falling asleep, and how the author went about writing it. It flowed well and I enjoyed the little things as much as everything else. I also love how a character hid magic and was able to get it back by travelling through certain timelines.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Spindle and I definitely recommend it!

~Sage<3

REVIEW: Heir to the Crown by Ember Shane

*I received a physical copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Heir to the Crown
Author: Ember Shane
Series: (The Doyle Hawthorne Series #3)
Publication date: August 12th, 2015
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal Romance

Synopsis [from Goodreads]:
Doyle Hawthorne has two choices. He can sit idly by and watch his grandfather, fueled by revenge and hatred, destroy the world via a tidal wave of infection… Or he can form a temporary alliance with his nemesis in order to stop it…

Give him a minute. He’s thinking.

Heir to the Crown is the third novel in The Doyle Hawthorne Series and continues to follow Doyle and company as they navigate their way through the volatile atmosphere of royal subculture. Intended for audiences 18+ due to language and sexual content.

Format: Paperback
Rating: 4.5/5
      Heir to the Crown is the third installment in the Doyle Hawthorne series, and it definitely didn’t disappoint! I love the action, the writing, and I especially enjoyed how we got to read from multiple POVs: Chuck, Addy, Kai, and Doyle. I love this particular group of friends, and so delving deeper into their sides was something I liked instead of just endured. It wasn’t choppy or boring either; I was engaged the whole way through.
      What I noticed right away in this book, is how much Doyle has changed. He’s taken control and while he’s still fairly awkward about his position, he fits into it pretty well. He isn’t overcome by power or lost in greed, but he does take the action need when called for. In fact, many of the decisions he makes he thinks through, whether it has to do with his family, Addy, Chuck, or just keeping up appearances so problems don’t arise. He loses his composure some times, but honestly, with a bunch of people after you and another colony hoping to overtake the world with a vengeance plan, who wouldn’t?
“I don’t care. Leave. Her. Alone.” Doyle’s tone was a low snarl and I knew he was giving me a command as opposed to his opinion. [page 2]
      The next thing I realized is that this is probably my favourite in the series concerning romance. Instead of a more love-at-first-sight type of romance as we see in the first book, we really get to see the characters prove their affections and ease into a relationship. While they still struggle and have problems from time to time, it all comes together nicely and I was definitely rooting for a certain couple. It actually hurt my heart to see one particular character try so hard to fix his mistakes only to be turned down every single time. He’s changed too, but definitely for the better, as is obvious by the end.
      I can’t say much about the story itself as it would be considered a spoiler, and so I’ll just leave it at this: This series is fantastic, and I definitely recommend reading it. It’s full or action, romance, suspense, and zombies. What more could you want?
~Sage<3

REVIEW: Hell Is Coming by N.P. Martin

*I received a digital copy from the author from a giveaway.

Title: Hell Is Coming
Author: N.P. Martin
Series: (The Watchers #1)
Publication date: October 24, 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”

Foster kid, Leia Swanson is eighteen and just getting her life together after a turbulent past that included losing both her parents when she was seven years old.

Then when people start turning into demons before her eyes and she feels a strange new power grow in her, Leia’s life begins to unravel, prompting her to visit her childhood home for answers.

Convinced a demon took her mother and killed her father, Leia soon uncovers her mothers secret past as a Watcher—a Nephilim demon hunter—and that she herself is also a Nephilim—half angel, half human.

When her twin brother, Josh is kidnapped and her foster mom is murdered, Leia is forced to enlist the help of her Uncle Frank, a man she has never even met before. Despite their rocky relationship, Frank agrees to train Leia as a Watcher and help her get her brother back while she tries to work out his shady past.

In the meantime, a powerful demon has been kidnapping Nephilim kids for his own evil ends, intent on unleashing a plan that threatens everything in existence.

Hell is coming for Leia and the rest of the world, but is she willing to give her life and possibly her soul to stop it?

Format: Ebook
Rating: 4.5/5
      Leia and her twin brother Josh grew up in foster homes due to their mother and father being killed by demons. No one believed Leia as she made her statement as a little seven year old though, and so she learned to keep her mouth shut. However, ever since turning eighteen, she sees things: the demons and their true faces even when they’re walking around in human bodies (which are called meat suits). She thinks she’s gone crazy. After following a trail her mother left her and scouring for answers, Leia’s world is rocked and hanging by a thread. Her brother’s missing, her foster mom is dead, and all she has left is the hope that an uncle she never met will help her fight demons and save her brother.
      If that doesn’t sound even a little intriguing, then you obviously won’t like this book as much as I did.
      I’ve actually had this in my possession for some months, and I have no idea why I waited so long to get to it. This book is amazing! It’s an action packed, fast paced, and full of supernatural creatures! It has great characters, awesome action, and a fantastic world!
      And so I’ll start with the characters.
      Leia is a great character. She’s strong, brave (so much so that she always gets face to face with danger), and yeah, she makes stupid choices at times, but she never gives up. She tries to, but she is always thrust right back into the action and realizes that she has too much to lose and she can’t stop now. She has a clear voice and I was rooting for her the entire novel. I can understand her character, why she couldn’t kill Kasey, why she let herself be tricked at times, because I feel like we really got to know her and that really helped. I can’t wait to see how she develops in the next book!
      Now Frank. After learning about his existence due to the trail her mother left her, Leia goes to stay with her uncle Frank. He’s a really great character as well. He’s strong, brave, kind, and while he doesn’t always show it in the best ways (he’s fairly awkward and anti-social around people, having been living in a secluded cabin for who knows how long all on his own with his only company a dog), he definitely cares about Leia. He helps train her and toughen her up, and I really loved seeing their relationship develop. And while at times anger and secrets were on the verge of breaking their relationship, Leia always came back because Frank is the only chance she has at getting her brother back, and Frank always let her because she’s family and he cares about her.
      Now, onto the world. It was infested with supernatural beings and I love it! There were clubs owned by demons in the ‘Perv District’, as they call it, abandoned houses where serial killer Vampires lurked in the basement, and even a place where vampires got high on human blood. It was weird, strange, and most definitely intriguing! All the normal places in our world, but instead of humans there were demons. Is that not a great world to read about? And I mean, obviously there were still humans, but the world seemed to almost be run by the supernatural, as they were everywhere and I love it! It was well written and I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it.
Overall I love Hell Is Coming and I recommend this book to everyone, especially if you love paranormal, action packed, fantasy books.
~Sage<3

ARC REVIEW: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

*I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Title:
Everything, Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Expected publication date: September 1, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

My disease is as rare as it is famous. It’s a form of Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, but basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in fifteen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives. New next door neighbors. I look out the window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black t-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly. I want to learn everything about him, and I do. I learn that he is funny and fierce. I learn that his eyes are Atlantic Ocean-blue and that his vice is stealing silverware. I learn that when I talk to him, my whole world opens up, and I feel myself starting to change—starting to want things. To want out of my bubble. To want everything, everything the world has to offer.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Format: eARC
Rating: 4.5/5

I knew I would like this book, but I didn’t know I would love it so, so much.

Why?

Because I felt with Maddy. If she was sad, heartbroken, happy, or even excited,  I was feeling it right along with her because the author did that great of a job bringing the characters to life. You can’t hate any of the characters (maybe his dad, maybe her mom). You can’t hate them for too long though because you’re so wrapped up in the romance and beauty of Maddy and Olly that you push the hate away to feel some of the love.

Actually, the romance left me feeling giddy because it was cute and sweet. Perhaps it could have been better (like all romances, let’s be honest here), but it’s pretty great just the way it is. I mean, I want my own Olly. Like, now. Pretty please? He’s sweet, and caring, and understanding, and he does some wicked cool things.

There’s also diversity. No conflict or anything, just diversity well handled. It’s fantastic!

There’s also graphics to go with certain parts of the book and I love them. They go with the story and help us connect to the story even more, in a visual way.

The only issue I really have with this book? It doesn’t come out until September. And I’m not exactly a patent person.

Overall, Everything, Everything is a fantastic book that I’m sure most everyone will love. I recommend it to everyone, especially if you love romances and books with great characters.

~Sage<3

{It’s short only because I can’t express myself properly and this is what I got. Sorry.}

August TBR

These are the books I plan to read this month. If I can get through them all.

Xpresso Book Tours:

      

NetGalley:

    

And, if all goes well, I definitely will try to read this one:

It’s a lot but I think I can do it. It all depends.

What are you guys reading?

~Sage<3