Book Reviews, Bookish Features

[BLOG TOUR + Q&A + GIVEAWAY] The Demon Race by Alexandria Warwick

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Welcome to my stop on The Demon Race book tour! Thank you to Alexandria Warwick for organizing the tour and allowing me to participate as a tour stop!


ABOUT THE BOOK

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Title: THE DEMON RACE
Author: Alexandria Warwick
Pub. Date: September 18, 2018
Publisher: Wolf Publishing
Formats: Paperback, Kindle
Pages: 351
Find it: GoodreadsAmazon

A race across the desert.

An unimaginable prize.

It occurs once every thousand years: the Demon Race. A test of will and strength, it is a race across the Saraj, a fight for the prize of a lifetime. And it is the key to Namali Hafshar’s freedom.

When shy, seventeen-year-old Namali learns of her arranged marriage, she flees home and enters the Demon Race for the chance to change her fate. But to compete, she must cross the Saraj on a daeva, a shadow demon that desires its own reward: to infect her soul with darkness.

Namali soon learns the desert holds more dangers than meets the eye. The only person she can trust is Sameen, a kind competitor seeking his own destiny. As her affection for him grows, however, so too does the darkness in her heart.

In this race of men and demons, only one can win. But the price of winning might be more than Namali is willing to pay.


REVIEW

It’s called the Demon Race, and it does only take place every one thousand years. People enter because the prize is worth the risk of crossing the Saraj.

Namali is entrapped in an arranged marriage her father concocted. Upon this realization (and much sooner than anticipated), Namali is left with no choice but to join the Demon Race. Giving up her most prized possession and friend, she barters with a merchant to buy the necessities to enter the race.

She would enter the Demon Race. She would win. And she would wish this marriage away.

She soon discovers that things aren’t as easy as they seem, and are in fact, way more dangerous, but it is entirely worth the prize of freedom. Understanding that she will have to ride a demon across the Saraj, she quickly realizes that her soul may also be at stake. Can she win the race without giving herself up in the process?

And the prize?…What do you get if you win?

“The deepest, most hidden desire of your heart…A wish”

I love that this was a standalone novel. Nowadays, we see everything turned into a series, and this was a refreshing change. Not only that, but the idea was so unique and so unalike anything we have seen before. The reader gets a taste of romance, but it is not overpowering (thank you!). As we read, we see Namali grow as a character, and the messages were those we all should follow and strive for. This was a fast-paced, learning, and unique read that everyone should read!

★★★


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Alexandria Warwick is the #1 fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender. The Demon Race is her first novel.

 

 

Follow Alexandria:
Website | Instagram


Q & A

Q: When did you first get the idea for The Demon Race and what was your inspiration for this novel?

A: I actually remember the moment pretty clearly. It was 2015 and I was in my last semester of university, sitting in one of my ecology classes and brainstorming, when I started thinking of the movie Hidalgo. That was the initial inspiration–a race across the desert. I’ve always been drawn to competitions because it’s an automatic high-stakes story, and I loved how the terrain would add additional obstacles for the characters.

 

Q: Did THE DEMON RACE have a certain soundtrack you listened to while writing?

A: The soundtrack to the video game Journey by Austin Wintory really helped me picture the setting of the Saraj. It’s very eerie. It made me think of solitude and desolation, and I feel that the harmonies he used (a lot of dissonance) were a good reflection of how Namali felt traveling alone through the desert.

 

Q: What is your dream cast for THE DEMON RACE?

A: Namali would be cast by Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani. In the novel, Namali does not believe herself to be beautiful, but I imagined her to have striking features as Golshifteh does. Sameen would be cast by Palestinian actor Mousa Kraish, whose features are rather boyish and open. And finally the merchant would be cast by Iranian-American actor Pej Vahdat. I always imagined the merchant to have sharper features, so Pej would portray him beautifully.

 

Q: What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?

A: Hmm. This took me a while to think about because I wrote the story so long ago. I would probably say the greatest challenge was believing in the story. So many people said no to The Demon Race, and it did take a toll on my self-esteem as a writer after a while. There came a time when I began to doubt my writing abilities, my abilities as a storyteller, because the story I wrote was not the story publishing was looking for. But even when I trunked the novel, I knew I couldn’t let it stay there. So I decided to say yes to myself, to this story, and give it a chance at being read by people who would hopefully understand Namali the way I did.

 

Q: What writers inspire you?

A: This is a great question! I find that different writers inspire me for different reasons. When it comes to the types of stories I write, about young women finding their own path and learning their strengths, Tamora Pierce, hands down. She was the reason I wanted to become a writer. When it comes to navigating the indie world of publishing, Elise Kova, as she managed to build her own success. In terms of writing craft, Marie Rutkowski (her prose kills me) and Maggie Stiefvater. And if we’re talking about writing characters and character relationships that are painfully slow to develop but are wrought with tension, well, that would be none other than C.S. Pacat!


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Book Reviews

Rule (Rule, #1) by Ellen Goodlett

RuleTitle: Rule (Rule, #1)
Author: Ellen Goodlett
Rating: ★★★

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

Three sisters. Three deadly secrets.

Only one can wear the crown.

Zofi: a Traveler. While trying to protect the man she loved, she killed Prince Nicolen. But someone knows her secret…

Akeylah: From the Eastern Reach. Tapping into Vulgar Arts, she planned to curse the man (“father”) who took care of her after her mother’s death, realizing too late she was actually slowly killing her real father, the King.

Florencia: Raised as a servant in the Palace. However, Ambassador Danton sweet-talker her into falling in love with him, while also tricking her into helping him find a grave secret that would kill many.

Someone knows all three secrets. Someone related to them is behind the threats. But who? Are they the only ones with a secret? Will the girls figure out who the blackmailer is before time runs out?

Looking around Goodreads and other blogger’s websites, this novel wasn’t a fan favorite. And honestly, I did like it, not love it. I thought it was even-paced and kept the reader wanting more. It was nice to see the perspectives of the three potential heirs. However, the only downfall, to me, was that I felt it predictable. But, then again, I’m always good at figuring out mysteries. I would definitely read the sequel when it comes out (I want to see if my predictions are correct)! 

The expected publication date is September 11, 2018.

Book Reviews

Castle in the Stars: The Moon-King by Alex Alice

Castle in the Stars - The Moon-King

Title: Castle in the Stars: The Moon-King
Author: Alex Alice
Rating: ★★★

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

I didn’t realize this was the second book in a series, so I was curious to see if I could drop right in and be fine, or feel completely left out.

We start our story in the late 1800’s in Bavaria in a story of spacecraft. A couple suppose their children boarded the King’s Aethership, but it has been thirty-six hours since telescopes have lost sight of the craft.

The Aethership is the only hope of the King keeping his throne. Seraphin is convinced that his mother is still alive. But someone has stolen the regulator and the whole crew is at risk! Will they make it back to Earth or will casualties lie ahead? Or will something else entirely be discovered?

I absolutely adore the artwork! It is realistic and so descriptive. Also, I love the tidbits of science and fact the reader receives, which adds to the realism and makes you feel like you are learning something without even trying! I like how it started out with the current, went back in time, and the reader ended up after the beginning by the time the comic was over.

The expected publication date is September 4, 2018.

Book Reviews

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

7 1-2 Deaths of Evelyn HardcastleTitle: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Author: Stuart Turton
Rating: ★★★★

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

Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder so the murderer won’t be caught.

Step into the world of Clue and modern day mystery dinner parties. That is exactly what The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is all about. Evelyn’s parents throw her a gala and invite all of the guests who were present at her brother’s death. 

Aiden Bishop is our protagonist who volunteered himself to finding the killer. But has he bitten off more than he can chew? Evelyn Hardcastle has been killed hundreds of times now while Bishop has been trying to solve the murder mystery. This time, he is closer than he ever was before. But someone is lurking trying to end Bishop’s chances of finding the murderer by slowly killing out each of his eight host bodies. Will he figure out the murderer in time? 

This idea was so original that I absolutely loved it! While a little slow at first, things picked up quickly. Without the threat of being killed and doomed to repeat history until figured out, I would’ve loved to be in Bishop’s place. I just love this idea and how it was incorporated because I’ve never seen anything like this before! Not only that, but it is a unique way for the typical murder mystery that constantly keeps you guessing, but has the characteristics of a murder mystery party with the aspect of everyone having their own secret that plays a part in the overall mystery. Definitely would recommend!

The expected publication date is September 18, 2018.

Book Reviews

Manga Classics: The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book

Title: Manga Classics: The Jungle Book
Author: Crystal S. Chan
Rating: ★★

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

I was a little hesitant beginning this manga because the story is well-know, so it has a lot to live up to.

We begin the story in nineteenth century India where two wolves stumble upon a human baby they later name Mowgli. Along with Mother and Father Wolf, Baloo, the sleep bear, takes responsibility for raising Mowgli. However, Shere Khan, the tiger, wants Mowgli for himself.

After Shere Khan tricks the pack into egging Akela on to fight and impossible hunt, Shere Khan takes control and banishes Mowgli. Mowgli then finds friends with the monkeys and is later captured by them. What will happen to Mowgli? Will he keep true to his promise of skinning Shere Khan?

The manga is then proceeded by a series of short stories about The White Seal, Rikki-Tiki-Tavi, and Toomai. I probably enjoyed Rikki-Tiki-Tavi the most out of the three, but the other two were quite bland for me. While the original does include these stories, I felt them to be out of place in this manga…if anything, probably better left without.

I wanted to love this and had higher expectations since I have been enjoying the other Manga Classics so much. However, this one just fell short for me. The ending of the story of Mowgli left me unfulfilled and wanting more. While the addition of the three animal stories rings true to the original, I felt them to be out of place in this manga, and actually detracting from the manga as a whole. With that said, I do think that this would be great for someone younger since it is comprised of a bunch of short stories.

 

Book Reviews

Manga Classics: Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility

Title: Manga Classics: Sense and Sensibility
Author: Stacy King
Rating: ★★★★

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

Sense and Sensibility is my second favorite Jane Austen novel, so I was a little hesitant going into this manga since it has a lot to live up to. 

The Dashwood family lived at Norland Park in Sussex, England. We find John Dashwood visiting his sickly father, Henry. Henry’s dying wish is for John to take care of his mother and sisters as John is left with the entire estate. With the suggestion of his atrocious wife, Franny, John doesn’t give his sisters and mother-in-law any money, but only a place to stay.

When Franny’s brother, Edward, arrives, Elinor becomes quite attached to him. However, Edward’s sister disapproves and makes it clear to the Dashwood ladies. After a letter from Sir John Middleton, he offers the lady Dashwoods a home in a nearby cottage. While at dinner the next night, the girls meet Colonel Brandon, who quickly becomes enraptured with Miss Marianne; however, she deems him far too old for any romance connection.

One day while out walking, it starts to rain, Marianne sprains her ankle, and Willoughby comes to her rescue. As things start to become steamy between the two, Willoughby is sent to London on business by his aunt. Is that the real reason, though?

The Middletons receive two new guests: Anne and Lucy Steele, who are young women like Elinor. They have a secret. What is it? And does it affect our Miss Dashwoods?

Will Elinor and Marianne ever find true love? Or will things continue in a downward spiral for them?

Of course, nothing can compare to the original! However, this was only slightly behind. This would be a great read for someone who can’t quite read Jane Austen books yet. As I usually say, these Manga Classics are so pleasant because they breakdown the stories, still portraying the intended message, but weed out all of the ineffective descriptions. The only thing I was a little disappointed with, is that Margaret was kind of just thrown in at the end. I almost forgot about her. And in the original, we see Edward interact with her and it makes my heart melt! Otherwise, another great manga by Manga Classics and Stacy King!

 

Book Reviews, Bookish Features

[BLOG TOUR + Q&A] The Raging Ones by Krista & Becca Ritchie

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Welcome to my stop on The Raging Ones book tour! Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for organizing the tour and allowing me to participate as a tour stop!


ABOUT THE BOOK

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Title: THE RAGING ONES (The Raging Ones, #1)
Author: Krista & Becca Ritchie
Pub. Date: August 14, 2018
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Formats: Hardcover
Pages: 352
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&NTBD

In Altia, everyone knows the day they’re going to die from the moment they’re born. But what happens when that day passes and you’re still alive?

THE RAGING ONES (Wednesday Books; August 14, 2018), a YA debut for bestselling authors (and twin sisters) Krista and Becca Ritchie plunges head-first into a sci-fi romance that will keep you guessing until the last page.
THE RAGING ONES follows three teens who should have died young: Franny Bluefort, a young orphan who lived fast and hard, only to wake up the next morning after her death day in the cold, unforgiving city streets; Mykal Kickfall, who was meant to die at 8 but instead was forced to flee his rugged home to avoid questions of his survival; and Court Icefort, the mysterious boy who acts like an Influential, but has a terrible secret. And, for some inexplicable reason, they can feel each other’s emotions as if they were their own.

With the threat of people learning the teens have dodged their deathdays, they must flee their planet, Saltare-3, to survive. Who knows what will happen if people suddenly think they might be able to escape death? But to do so, all three will have to hide their shared bond as they vie for a highly sought after spot in the newest mission to space. Against thousands of people who are far smarter, will live longer, and will never fear death the way that they do.

The Ritchie sisters have already amassed a large following for their steamy romances, infusing their young adult novel with romantic tension and displaying a new talent for excellent world building. Full of action and adventure, THE RAGING ONES is part space odyssey and part coming of age story with three teens trying to escape their difficult pasts.

“A potently addictive blend of romance, fantasy, and science fiction full of unexpected twists.”
— Kirkus Reviews, STARRED Review
“…a heartfelt, high-octane saga with gripping twists that will leave readers hungering for more.”
— Booklist Online


REVIEW

I’m not special because I’m dying. Everyone dies, and everyone knows when.

In a world where everyone knows the day they will die, we follow three teenagers on a journey to defy all odds.

I found it a little funny that the countdown to death hovered above the peoples’ heads for everyone to see. This reminds me of the video for “Remind Me” by Nickelback if anyone has seen that (and you’re old like me)?

I feel them. For the first time, I realize they’ve been my strength, my hope, and they can be my peace. I just have to let them help me.

Franny, Court, and Mykal have a grave secret. By sharing this secret, they become close friends, willing to die for one another. Instead of living a life hidden from the rest of the world, they decide to embark on a journey called the Saga 5 Mission. Five lucky Influentials will be launched into space to convey peace between the other planets. However, Franny, Court, and Mykal aren’t your typical Influentials. Competing against a thousand other applicants, will they make it abroad the ship and leave all of their worries behind?

It means my life. If I fail, I could die. Altia Law: people caught passing as Influentials will be sent to Vorkter Prison until their deathdays arrive.

But Court has a secret. Will Franny and Mykal ever find out the truth behind his past? If they do, does that also put them into danger? 

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel! It was fast-paced, action-packed, and sucked the reader into the plot. There were a couple unexpected twists and there was never a dull moment!  My only complaint is I’m still slightly confused by the love triangle, but I’m excited to see how that develops in the next novel. I honestly have been waiting to be able to give a 5-star rating to something again for a while now, and this novel more than deserved it! Having never read a book by the twins before, this was a great experience, especially since their previous novels were of a different genre entirely. By their answers from the Q&A, it was nice to have a picture of who they describe the characters, as well as, a playlist to go along with the novel while reading!

★★★


ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Krista & Becca Ritchie_Author PhotoKrista & Becca Ritchie are New York Times Bestselling Authors and identical twins, one a science nerd, the other a comic book geek. With their shared passion for writing, they combined their mental powers as kids and have never stopped telling stories. Graduates from
the University of Georgia in Biology and English & Journalism, the twin writing duo now lives in Atlanta. The Raging Ones is their first young adult novel.

Follow Krista & Becca:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads


Q & A

Q: Working with another author is hard, let alone WITH YOUR TWIN, what was working together like and how did you address differing opinions on the work? What are your favorite and least favorite things about writing with each other?

A: We’ve been writing together since high school, so we’ve been able to really fine-tune our process. Being sisters seems like we’d bicker a ton, but we find our bond a huge strength. We understand each other’s vision and welcome varying opinions and ideas. We always describe what we have as a mini “writer’s room” where we constantly bounce thoughts off one another and try to improve our work. When we have different opinions, it kick-starts discussions, which often ignites better stories. Our favorite part of working together is definitely collaborating. We value our time together and our discussions surrounding our projects. Always having someone equally passionate and invested in the book fuels our love of writing. Least favorite part: honestly, there aren’t a lot of negatives! Maybe our three-minute silent treatments when we’re frustrated, and then we make up almost immediately.

 

Q: When did you first get idea for The Raging Ones? What was your inspiration for this book?

A: Back in college, one of us (Krista) had this concept about a world where everyone knows the die they’ll die, but three teens don’t die on their deathday. We’re huge fans of science fiction and fantasy, and we’d written several Young Adult novels that never saw the light of day. But we wanted to write a new story together with new characters, and I jumped on board once she agreed to add a fantasy element. While writing THE RAGING ONES, we were really inspired by character-driven stories with science fiction backdrops. From movies like Interstellar to television shows like The 100.

 

Q: THE RAGING ONES is your first YA novel. What made you decide to move into the genre, and was the transition difficult? Was writing in a different genre/for a different age group hard? Was your process different?

A: Even though THE RAGING ONES is our first published YA novel, it isn’t the first one we’d written together. In our childhood, high school, and college, we mostly only wrote YA. The harder transition for us had been going from writing Young Adult fantasy novels to writing contemporary romance. In a lot of ways, THE RAGING ONES was like returning to something we’d started but hadn’t finished yet. We always attribute our romance books as the reason why we’re better writers, and when we went back to this other genre, we realized how much more we could do and push ourselves. Our writing process is pretty much identical across the map for Young Adult and Adult.

 

Q: What is the weirdest thing you had to research for the novel?

A: Since THE RAGING ONES takes place on a frozen planet, we had to keep jumping down an Animal Planet rabbit hole. We paid close attention to the animals that could exist. It’s not too weird, but there were a lot of times we had to double-check each other and be like, “Cotton isn’t a fabric here” and “You can’t make them eat chicken. There are no chickens.”

 

Q: Did THE RAGING ONES have a certain soundtrack you listened to while writing?

A: Yes! We always listen to music while we’re writing, and we complied a public Spotify playlist for the book, which includes songs that were in our earbuds as we were typing. We love the dramatic scores from Gravity and Interstellar, but we always say “Keeping Your Head Up” by Birdy is the essence of the book.

THE RAGING ONES Spotify Playlist: https://spoti.fi/2AkHkXi

***I checked this out and I like a lot of the songs and it is really nice to listen to while reading the novel!***

 

Q: What is your dream cast for THE RAGING ONES?

A: We love dream casting our books and making Pinterest boards! For THE RAGING ONES, we can imagine Lyrica Okano as Franny Bluecastle, Henry Zaga as Court Icecastle, and Noah Teicher as Mykal Kickfall.

THE RAGING ONES Pinterest Board: https://www.pinterest.com/kbmritchie/the-raging-ones-series/

 

Q: What was your greatest challenge in writing this book? *My personal question*

A: Krista: One of the hardest parts was not revealing the end twist too soon. We didn’t want to give too much away, and we had to build the world around the idea that no one would see the twist coming. Which meant that the reader wouldn’t see it coming either.

Becca: Definitely what Krista said, and we went into THE RAGING ONES with a goal of making the characters the number one focus. We always hope that readers are invested in the characters first and foremost, and so we took a lot of time shaping these three characters into unique individuals, who we can only hope that readers will love, too.

 

Q: What writers inspire you? *My personal question*

A: Krista: Writers who juggle different genres and are hybrid really inspire me like Jennifer L. Armentrout and Wendy Higgins. On an indie romance level, I’m awed and inspired by so many; the list would be endless, too.

Becca: Like Krista, I’m inspired by so many authors. To name a couple of YA writers who have written books that still sit with me: Swati Avasthi and Lena Coakley.