Book Reviews

Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove, #1) by Shelby Mahurin

Serpent and DoveTitle: Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove, #1)
Author: Shelby Mahurin
Rating: ★★★

Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

War is brewing (ha!) between the witches and the Church. Lou, a young witch trying to keep her powers at bay and hiding from her mother, runs into Reid (a Chasseur: whose main goal is to not let a witch live) by mere chance. After their debale on a theater stage, they find themselves bound in holy matrimony.

A witch and a witch hunter bound in holy matrimony. There was only one way such a story could end — a stake and a match.

Plot twists, how I do love thee. And Serpent & Dove provided many!

Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay.

I think I am in the minority in saying that I found certain parts of the novel to be boring. And honestly, I felt like some characters were forced…aka Ansel. While easily lovable, his role felt forced and rushed. He went from pretty much being a mute slave to this ultimate stand-up guy the next second we encounter him. But Coco, there is a fun character! She was the only truly believable character to me and by far had the most personality.

Lou and Reid were just kind of “meh” to me. Everyone keeps mentioning a slow-burn romance, but I felt it was rushed and not believable.

One other thing that i felt could’ve been improved upon was the world-building. I didn’t “feel” like I was there. I had trouble imagining the setting. France? I’ve never been there, though, so without some details, it is hard to picture.

C’est cela l’amour, tout donner, tout sacrifier sans espoir de retour.
That is love, to give away everything, to sacrifice everything, without the slightest desire to get anything in return.
-Albert Camus

Serpent & Dove is a story of high-stakes, plot twists, and a change of heart. While this wasn’t my absolute favorite, the story line has so much potential! With world-building improvements and a look deeper into the world of covens, I believe the sequel can be a standout novel!

Book Reviews, Bookish Features

[BLOG TOUR + Q&A] The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy

The Memory Thief Banner

Welcome to my stop on The Memory Thief book tour! Thank you to Fantastic Flying Book Club for organizing the tour and allowing me to participate as a tour stop!


ABOUT THE BOOK

The Memory Thief Cover

Title: THE MEMORY THIEF
Author: Lauren Mansy
Pub. Date: October 1, 2019
Publisher: BLINK
Formats: Hardcover
Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&N, TBD, IndieBound

In the city of Craewick, memories reign. The power-obsessed ruler of the city, Madame, has cultivated a society in which memories are currency, citizens are divided by ability, and Gifted individuals can take memories from others through touch as they please.

Seventeen-year-old Etta Lark is desperate to live outside of the corrupt culture, but grapples with the guilt of an accident that has left her mother bedridden in the city’s asylum. When Madame threatens to put her mother up for auction, a Craewick practice in which a “criminal’s” memories are sold to the highest bidder before being killed, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her. Even if it means rejoining the Shadows, the rebel group she swore off in the wake of the accident years earlier.

To prove her allegiance to the Shadows and rescue her mother, Etta must steal a memorized map of the Maze, a formidable prison created by the bloodthirsty ruler of a neighboring Realm. So she sets out on a journey in which she faces startling attacks, unexpected romance, and, above all, her own past in order to set things right in her world.


REVIEW

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Shadows can help her.

I brush the memory of Ryder’s plan away as another replaces it.

They help people who can’t help themselves.

In a world where memories are transferred as money, we follow Etta, a 17-year-old girl living in the shadows and trying to keep her secret safe from those around her: she is a “Gifted” labeled as an “Ungifted”, but the catch is that people only see blankness when they look into her mind. Under a corrupt government, the “Gifted” have all of the power. Four years ago, Etta made a deal with Madame (her enemy at the time) and betrayed her allies in order to have a place for her mother to stay in the asylum. Now, with the Auction day upon her, she realizes that her mother is up for auction and all deals between herself and Madame are off. When a person is put up for auction, the memories are put up for sale until the person has nothing left of value and dies. In order to save her mother once again, Etta is forced to confront the people she betrayed to ask for her. But the only way to save her mother is to embark on a mission to save the “Shadows'” leader.

“Gifteds” can transfer memories between people by touch.
“Ungifteds” have no special powers.
“Sifters” can transfer memories without touch.
“Shadows” are the “protectors” of the realm, but are thieves and contribute to a black market of memories.
“Ghosts” give unpleasant memories in order to make people suffer.
“Hunters” take the memories of animals.

The idea of memories being a form of currency is a unique and intriguing idea. It slightly reminds me of the pensieve from Harry Potter. Ryder, Etta’s sidekick reminds me of Rue from The Hunger Games. She is comical, brave, and loyal to a fault. She looks up to Etta as an older sister. I wish we learned a little more about the backstory of the other people in Etta’s life, specifically the ones she has the leather bracelets of.

The one thing I had a hard time with was the instance romance. I thought I missed reading 100 pages all of a sudden. Also, I wish Etta wasn’t as gullible as she is made out to be. She wasn’t exactly the easiest to relate to. With a few tweaks to the story and the pacing, I think this novel has a real chance to be a star since the concept is so gripping.

The Memory Thief was a concept unlike anything else: memories being used as currency in a corrupt government, where the removal of memories can truly change someone’s life. The Memory Thief is a story of loss, grief, lies, deceit, and the ability to forgive oneself for mistakes.

★★★


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lauren MansyLauren lives in the Chicago area, where she’s spent years working with youth, from young children to high schoolers. When she’s not writing, Lauren is usually with her family or exploring the city to find the best deep dish pizza. The Memory Thief, which was inspired by Lauren’s own journey with her mother, is her first novel.

Follow Lauren:
Website | Twitter | Instagram


Q & A

Q: What was the hardest scene to write? What was the easiest?
LM:
The scene where Etta visits her mother in the asylum was actually both the hardest and the easiest to write. Because this book is based off memories that I share with my mom, that scene was very cathartic yet difficult to put down on paper. It caused me to revisit a lot of my memories of when my mom was in the hospital, and it was very uncertain if she would survive. I remember how vulnerable my mom had been yet she never stopped fighting to get better. Ultimately, it was her ability to cling to hope even in hardship which made me want to share this story, so writing that scene will forever have a big impact on me.

Q: Did you hide any secrets in your book? (names of friends, little jokes, references to things only some people will get)
LM: What a fun question! When I was drafting, quite a few characters were named after family members, all of whom actually ended up being cut during my revision stage! Since none of the characters made it onto the final pages, I like to joke that the famous writers’ phrase “kill your darlings” took on a whole new meaning for me 🙂

Q: What do you hope people remember about The Memory Thief?
LM: The main thing that I hope people take away from TMT is that it isn’t the hardships of the past which define us but the strength we find in overcoming them. Etta is a character who struggles with a lot of regret and has lost hope that things will ever get better. But on Etta’s journey to save her mother, she begins to realize that she’s believed a lot of lies, not only about the world around her but about herself, as well. I hope Etta’s story might inspire readers to never give up fighting for what you believe in, even in the midst of impossible odds.

Q: Did The Memory Thief have a certain soundtrack you listened to while writing?
LM: I was all about the Jurassic Park soundtrack while drafting TMT! I adore movie soundtracks, and John Williams is a favorite composer of mine. I’d highly recommending listening to “Remembering Petticoat Lane”. It’s hauntingly beautiful and was on repeat for about 95% of drafting TMT!

Q: What is your dream cast for The Memory Thief?
LM: Oooh, great question! I love movies, tv shows, plays, and musicals, and I have such a huge amount of respect for those who are able to visually bring stories to life. Whenever I’m drafting, the characters always embody their personalities, which results in a feeling for me rather than an actual face. So while I don’t have any specific actors in mind, I’d say that my dream cast would be filled with individuals whose passion for storytelling really shines through – a trait actors express so wonderfully. It’d be such an honor to see The Memory Thief brought to life in this way!


GIVEAWAY

1 Finished Copy of The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy + a poster and signed bookplate (USA Only)
Starts: 10/14/19
Ends: 10/21/19


ENTER HERE


October 14

That Artsy Reader Girl – Welcome Interview

October 15

Adventures and Reading – Review (E)
L.M. Durand – Review
Dazzled By Books – Review, Creative Post, Instagram Post (B)
Metaphors and Miscellanea – Review, Favorite Quotes
Gwendalyn’s Books – Review (E)

October 16

The Baroness of Books – Review (B)
Petrichor – Review (E)
Alpha-Beta-Hannah – Review (E)
The Reading Chemist – Review (E)

October 17

Reading Is My Superpower – Author Guest Post
Becky’s Book Blog – Review (E)
Clarissa Reads It All – Review (B)
Feed Your Fiction Addiction – Review
Lori’s Bookshelf Reads – Review (E)

October 18

Library of a Book Witch – Review (B)
Sincerely Karen Jo – Review (B)

Starlight Reads – Review, Creative Post (B)

books_andpoetrii – Creative Post
YA/NA Book Divas – Review (E)

October 19

NovelKnight – Author Q&A
Natalie Helena – Review (E)
Bookishly Nerdy – Review, Creative Post (B)
Books of Amber – Review (E)
Forever the Wanderer – Review (E)

October 20

Lifestyle of Me – Review (E)
Moonlight Rendezvous – Review (B)
Savings In Seconds – Review, Favorite Quotes, Instagram Post (B)
Nay’s Pink Bookshelf – Review, Favorite Quotes (B)
Sometimes Leelynn Reads – Review, Creative Post (E)

October 21

Lost In Storyland – Author Guest Post
Synopses By Sarge – Author Q&A
PopTheButterfly Reads – Review (E)
TheSecret Reader – Review
A Bella Fairy Tale – Review (E)
Book Reviews

Harry Potter Murder Mystery Party

For a late birthday party (or just an excuse to throw a party), I threw a Harry Potter-themed murder mystery party and I thought I’d share some pictures. Please note, that most of these are pre-party and I was so busy coordinating during it that I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of anything of the completion 😦 I meant to add letters coming out of the fireplace.

I hid golden snitches around my house and that was how people received House Points.

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One thing I am sad that I didn’t have enough time to setup…the flying keys!

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One of the coolest decorations in my library…

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What I’m most proud of…Honeyduke’s!

And last but not least…can you guess who I was?!

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Book Reviews

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

The Bone HousesTitle: The Bone Houses
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Rating: ★★★★

Seventeen-year-old Aderyn (“Ryn”) only cares about two things: her family, and her family’s graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don’t always stay dead.

The risen corpses are known as “bone houses,” and legend says that they’re the result of a decades-old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with new ferocity. What is it that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?

Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them deep into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the long-hidden truths about themselves.

This was the perfect fall read…the ambiance, the plot, and the creepiness (but not always creepy) of the bone houses, or half-alive skeletons of the dead. But most importantly, this was a story of survival, commitment, and the lengths one will go for family.

It was a risk, to love someone. To do so with the full knowledge that they’d leave someday.

After the death of her mother and her father never returning on a trip into the mines, Ryn, the eldest child, finds herself taking over the family business as a gravedigger. One thing I find in common with Ryn is the peace one can often find with the dead…silence and the ability to escape from reality. After seeing a glimpse of a bone house as a child, she knew that one day she would come face-to-face with these zombie skeletons while burying the dead. After all, there is a reason people don’t venture past the iron fences.

Ellis is a mapmaker trying to find his way in this world. Unexpectedly (but not really), Ryn saves Ellis from a bone house while searching for his family history. Coincidentally needing money to pay off of her uncle’s debts, Ellis hires Ryn to take him on his journey to “map out” the Mountains of Annwvyn. Lucky for Ryn, she can find a way to end the curse and hopefully (maybe?) find her father along the way.

Perhaps my favorite character in the novel is the pet goat. She was so sweet, loyal, protective, and a little stinky.

“I grew up thinking monsters could be slain.”

“Ah,” he said. “And I grew up thinking people were the monsters.”

Lloyd-Jones takes reader on a journey into a glimpse of Welsh mythology in the form of bone houses. The Bones Houses is a captivating story perfect for lovers of the undead, life after death, and the lengths on will go to preserve family (literally! haha).

Book Reviews

Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1) by Rosaria Munda

FireborneTitle: Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1)
Author: Rosaria Munda
Rating: ★★★★

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Game of Thrones meets Red Rising in a debut young adult fantasy that’s full of rivalry, romance… and dragons.

Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution changed their world, giving everyone—even the lowborn—a chance to test into the governing class of dragonriders.

Now they are both rising stars in the new regime, despite backgrounds that couldn’t be more different. Annie’s lowborn family was executed by dragonfire, while Lee’s aristocratic family was murdered by revolutionaries. Growing up in the same orphanage forged their friendship, and seven years of training have made them rivals for the top position in the dragonriding fleet.

But everything changes when survivors from the old regime surface, bent on reclaiming the city.

With war on the horizon and his relationship with Annie changing fast, Lee must choose to kill the only family he has left or to betray everything he’s come to believe in. And Annie must decide whether to protect the boy she loves . . . or step up to be the champion her city needs.

From debut author Rosaria Munda comes a gripping adventure that calls into question which matters most: the family you were born into, or the one you’ve chosen.

Who doesn’t love a story about dragons?!

“Inspired by Plato’s Republic and told from a dual point of view, the story is pitched as Aegon Targaryen and Hermione Granger with dragons.”

Fireborne is a dazzling debut into a land where suffering, atonement, and political retribution are a norm. The hope of future peace lands lands on the shoulders of two orphaned dragon riders. Suffering from the loss of their families, Lee and Annie bonded at the orphanage where they met.

I look down at this boy, vulnerable, at my mercy, and think, To the ends of the earth I will protect you.

Fast forward some years later to the fight for Firstrider. These scenes reminded me of the Triwizard Tournament from Harry Potter. Having been born as a Stormscourge and son to the man who burned Annie’s family, tensions rise as the fight for Firstrider commences. But something else looms in the horizon…rumors of another dragon fleet from the old regime have surfaced.

Will Lee betray his family to fight for the government he was raised in for most of his life? Or will he fight with blood?

What makes this story different from other dragon novels is that the reader can feel the emotions of the dragons. The bond between dragon and rider is so intense, it almost serves as a link to the souls. I want a dragon.

On a side note…does anyone else like Power and think he may turn “good guy”?! And does anyone else love Duck?!

You have given life to me.

Munda brings us a captivating story of political unrest, revolution, and the chance to create history. I’m excited for the next installment!

Book Reviews

Win Your Free Copy of Fires of the Dead Here!

Good morning readers! I have some exciting news to share: Jed Herne and I have partnered together to bring you a chance to win a personalized, signed paperback copy of Fires of the Dead! You can see my review for the novella here.

 

Hi! I’m Jed Herne, author of Fires of the Dead, and to celebrate the release of my debut fantasy book, I’m giving away an exclusive signed, personalised paperback copy!

Wisp is a pyromancer: a magician who draws energy from fires to make his own flames. He’s also a criminal, one job away from retirement. And it can’t come bloody soon enough.

Leading his misfit crew, Wisp ventures into a charred and barren forest to find a relic that could change the realm forever. But they aren’t the only ones on the hunt, and the forest isn’t as barren as it seems …

A jaded gang leader longing for retirement

A bloodthirsty magician with a lust for power

A brutish fighter who’s smarter than he looks

A young thief desperate to prove herself

A cowardly navigator with secrets that won’t stay buried

Together, they must survive fights, fires, and folk tales that prove disturbingly real – if they don’t kill each other first.

Reviews:

“…the perfect read for someone looking to be quickly immersed in a magic system unlike anything else.” – Nicole Wallace

“I honestly did not put this one down til I finished.” – Katelyn Dickinson

“…a real page turner (it gave me goosebumps)” – Caitlin Shaw

How this works:

When you enter the giveaway, you’ll also join my Reader Club email newsletter. This means you’ll stay updated about future books, contests, and other cool stuff – and you’ll also be kept in the loop about great giveaways like these! Don’t worry, I’ll never spam you, and you can leave at any time.

(Oh, and when you sign up, I’ll send you a bonus short story right away as a thank-you – so everyone who enters will at least win something!)

Terms:

Due to printing/shipping restrictions, you must currently live in the following countries to enter: USA, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada.

 

ENTER TO WIN FIRES OF THE DEAD HERE

Book Reviews

The Merciful Crow (The Merciful Crow, #1) by Margaret Owen

The Merciful CrowTitle: The Merciful Crow (The Merciful Crow, #1)
Author: Margaret Owen
Rating: ★★★★★

A future chieftain.
Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince.

When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

A too-cunning bodyguard.

Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?

This was a magic system unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Teeth are used to give certain magical characteristics to its users based on the class of person. The Merciful Crow is easily immersible, masterfully depicted, and full of magic.

Give them fire. Give them fear.

I loved the magic system, a world where the lowest class does have some power. When someone dies, all castes turn to the Crows or risk catching disease. Not being picky about payment, the Crows know when they are undermined and can refuse to dispose of the body.

Mercy was a chief’s gift. Inflicting it was their duty.

Fie was such a strong, patient, female lead. Her selflessness is her weakness and I love that characteristic about her. It is so real. The decisions she faced were realistically dealt with, the relationships were warm, and the mistrust of new people was warranted.

I kept waiting for Tavis and Jasimir to pull a Queen Amidala on us and say they were the reverse roles the whole time…but it never happened. We get so used to certain characteristics representing certain characters and expect the same every time. This change was refreshing and didn’t make the story predictable.

We stay in Sabor because it’s our home. Aye, the villages don’t want us, but the sinners always do. Every plague-fearing soul sleeps easier knowing we’ll come when they call. So you ask why we stay? Because the plague stays. Because someone out there needs mercy. And because this is our damned home.

The Merciful Crow is a unicorn: beautifully crafted, vulnerable, and realistic. Definitely a top read of 2019!