Book Reviews

Bone Crier’s Moon (Bone Grace, #1) by Kathryn Purdie

Bone Crier's MoonTitle: Bone Crier’s Moon (Bone Grace, #1)
Author: Kathryn Purdie
Rating: ★★★★★

Bone ​Criers have a sacred duty. They alone can keep the dead from preying on the living. But their power to ferry the spirits of the dead into goddess Elara’s Night Heavens or Tyrus’s Underworld comes from sacrifice. The gods demand a promise of dedication. And that promise comes at the cost of the Bone Criers’ one true love.

Ailesse has been prepared since birth to become the matriarch of the Bone Criers, a mysterious famille of women who use strengths drawn from animal bones to ferry dead souls. But first she must complete her rite of passage and kill the boy she’s also destined to love.

Bastien’s father was slain by a Bone Crier and he’s been seeking revenge ever since. Yet when he finally captures one, his vengeance will have to wait. Ailesse’s ritual has begun and now their fates are entwined—in life and in death.

Sabine has never had the stomach for the Bone Criers’ work. But when her best friend Ailesse is taken captive, Sabine will do whatever it takes to save her, even if it means defying their traditions—and their matriarch—to break the bond between Ailesse and Bastien. Before they all die.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really excited for this book; I just wanted the items in the FairyLoot box. Sorry, not sorry.

Aliesse. I’m not leaving you. You’re worth the risk, do you hear me? You’re always going to be worth the risk.

 

Ailesse: Destined to be the next Matrone. Brave. Headstrong. Ambitious.

Sabine: Aliesse’s best friend. Quiet. Reserved. Loyal.

Bastien: Seeking revenge for his father’s death. Head of a gang of thieving orphanswhose father also died from the Leuress.

 

Things I Liked Loved:

  1. Sisterly love. The bond between Ailesse and Sabine is so strong. I loved that it seemed to be the main focal point over romantic love. They will risk anything and everything for each other.
  2. Pacing. It was perfect. There was never a dull moment. I was reading along with the FairyLoot group and I found myself wanting to read more each day, but forcing myself to stop to keep pace with the book.
  3. Multiple POVs. The change from one protagonist to the next kept me on the edge of my seat. The end of every chapter was a cliffhanger.
  4. Mythology. This was such a unique twist on sirens. The magic system was well thought and intriguing.

 

Things I Didn’t Like:

  1. The ending. I wasn’t convinced that there should be a second book. It seemed like this novel could’ve ended with just a twinge difference.
  2. Animal violence. Yes, I know it goes along with the magic system, but I love animals.

 

Bone Crier’s Moon is a story about sisterly love, enemies to lovers, and revenge. People who enjoyed All the Stars and Teeth and Serpent & Dove would enjoy this novel.

Book Reviews

The Court of Miracles (A Court of Miracles, #1) by Kester Grant

The Court of MiraclesTitle: The Court of Miracles (A Court of Miracles,  #1)
Author: Kester Grant
Rating: ★★★★

Les Misérables meets Six of Crows in this page-turning adventure as a young thief finds herself going head to head with leaders of Paris’s criminal underground in the wake of the French Revolution.

In the violent urban jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, the French Revolution has failed and the city is divided between merciless royalty and nine underworld criminal guilds, known as the Court of Miracles. Eponine (Nina) Thénardier is a talented cat burglar and member of the Thieves Guild. Nina’s life is midnight robberies, avoiding her father’s fists, and watching over her naïve adopted sister, Cosette (Ettie). When Ettie attracts the eye of the Tiger–the ruthless lord of the Guild of Flesh–Nina is caught in a desperate race to keep the younger girl safe. Her vow takes her from the city’s dark underbelly to the glittering court of Louis XVII. And it also forces Nina to make a terrible choice–protect Ettie and set off a brutal war between the guilds, or forever lose her sister to the Tiger.

I’ll be honest, I’m a little over novels set in Paris. Especially when they all have to do with heists. Let’s be original, people.

Sometimes we must pay a terrible price to protect the things we love.

Nina: “Black Cat” of the Thieves Guild.

Ettie: Nina’s “little sister”. The root of this war (granted, it was inevitable in time). 

Tiger: Lord of the Guild of Flesh. Lord Kaplan. No Lord will cross him. 

Montparnasse: Loves Nina. My lover. Master of the Assassins Guild. Willing to lay himself on the line for Nina, even if he has to betray his guild.

St. Juste: Loves Nina. Everyone in his family was killed. Leader of the rebellion of people who aren’t in a guild.

The Dauphin: Loves Nina. Prince of France. Nina steels from him at a young age. They see each other later and help each other out. Has a mother who is always on the verge of handing him a glass of poison.

Orso: Has an army of “Ghosts” aka little kids. The only Lord who will stand up to the Tiger.

Thernadier: Nina’s dad. Beats her. Will do anything for whoever offers the most money, even betraying his own.

Tomasis: Lord of the Thieves Guild.

 

if he kills you, I’ll take his head from his body and I’ll set it on a pike in the middle of the Lords’ table in the Miracle Court, and none will ever take it down. There it will rot, the worms will eat it to bone, and all who see it will remember you. Even if Corday asks my life of me in return, I’ll do it. I swear.

Can’t get any more romantic than that!

 

Things I Liked:

  1. Secret societies. I love the idea of secret societies being known for specific talents. I love seeing the atmosphere from each unique faction. I’d love to learn more about how these came about and a look deeper into each society.
  2. Unpredictable. I did not predict one particular event to happen in this novel. That never happens!
  3. The world-building. Grant made this incredibly easy to follow.

 

Things I Didn’t Like:

  1. Hunger Games vibes. If you interchange Nina for Katniss and Ettie for Rue/Prim, you pretty much have the Hunger Games novel.
  2. The beginning. I was ready to DNF right away, honestly. But, I’m not a quitter, so I kept on trekking, and I actually really enjoyed the novel.
  3. The timing. I followed this pretty well through most of the novel, but I got a little confused at times by home much time passed.
  4. Everyone guy loves her. Give me a break! I’m so over the main character having all of these guys wanting her. Not reality!

 

The Court of Miracles is a story about war, ambitious power, and adversity. People who enjoyed The Gilded Wolves and Six of Crows would enjoy this novel.

Book Reviews

The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves, #2) by Roshani Chokshi

The Silvered SerpentsTitle: The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves,  #2)
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Rating: ★★★

They are each other’s fiercest love, greatest danger, and only hope.

Séverin and his team members might have successfully thwarted the Fallen House, but victory came at a terrible cost ― one that still haunts all of them. Desperate to make amends, Séverin pursues a dangerous lead to find a long lost artifact rumoured to grant its possessor the power of God.

Their hunt lures them far from Paris, and into icy heart of Russia where crystalline ice animals stalk forgotten mansions, broken goddesses carry deadly secrets, and a string of unsolved murders makes the crew question whether an ancient myth is a myth after all.

As hidden secrets come to the light and the ghosts of the past catch up to them, the crew will discover new dimensions of themselves. But what they find out may lead them down paths they never imagined.

A tale of love and betrayal as the crew risks their lives for one last job.

I wanted to love this, but Severin is just an extremely annoying character. He pushes everyone away who is close to them thinking it is for their betterment. How can he lead people when he can’t even face his own demons?! I wish the plot was more focused on the puzzle aspect of the heists versus the emotional. It was a bit too dark for my liking.

Severin: French-Algerian. Leader of the group. Supposed heir to House Vanth. 

Tristan: Severin’s foster brother. Botanist. Pet tarantula Goliath (yikes!).

Laila: Indian. Chef. Dancer. Can read objects.

Enrique: Spanish-Filipino. Historian. Bi. 

Zofia: Jewish-Polish. Lab rat. Autistic? OCD. 

Hypnos: French-African-descent. Heir to House Nyx. Enemy to friend.

 

Things I Liked:

  1. Growth. We start to see the characters’ flaws and how they came to be the people they are today. We see their weaknesses, as well as, them overcoming their fears in the form of strengths.
  2. Not everything goes right. So many young adult novels have characters with essentially no faults. It is nice to see things not work as they are planned.
  3. The puzzles. I love them! It was so fun to try to figure the puzzles out before the characters.

 

Things I Didn’t Like:

  1. People who think they can decide what is best for someone. Severin is a guy that you love to hate. He has the best interests of people close to him in his heart, but he doesn’t always execute in the best way. He takes responsibility for things he has no control over and let’s that fear of hurt for those he loves takeover his life. People can decide for themselves if they want to take risks, they don’t need someone else choosing for them.
  2. Forbidden love. Man loves girl. Girl loves man. Man can’t be with girl for fear of hurting her and vice versa. This is so stupid! You’ll make things work with someone if you truly love them.
  3. Dark. The Silvered Serpents was a lot darker than The Gilded Wolves. Readers can find more foul play, deception, and a look into the darker parts of the human mind.

 

The Silvered Serpents is a story about deception, love, and friendship. People who enjoy heists and a loyal gang of misfits will love this novel.

Book Reviews

The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1) by Roshani Chokshi

The Gilded WolvesTitle: The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves,  #1)
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Rating: ★★★

This edition from Owlcrate is signed and has an exclusive cover.

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

I’m always a little skeptical going into novels placed in Paris. For some reason, books set in Paris and I do not get along. Probably, mostly due to the lavish descriptions included in the novels. Hey, I’m simple, so just get to the point.

Severin: French-Algerian. Leader of the group. Supposed heir to House Vanth. 

Tristan: Severin’s foster brother. Botanist. Pet tarantula Goliath (yikes!).

Laila: India. Chef. Dancer. Can read objects.

Enrique: Spanish-Filipino. Historian. Bi. 

Zofia: Jewish-Polish. Lab rat. Autistic? OCD. 

Hypnos: French-African-descent. Heir to House Nyx. Enemy to friend.

 

Things I Liked:

  1. I LOVED the aspect of the Seven Deadly Sins cast as Severin’s fathers. That was such an interesting aspect for someone to experience who pretty much lost everything in his life. In this aspect, he thinks the answer is black-and-white when it comes to those emotions, but we see his character start to grow throughout the novel. I think the ending left Severin feeling empty, but we will be seeing his character growth a lot in The Silvered Serpents.
  2. The gang. These friends have each others’ backs, even if it means putting their lives at stake! Give me some friends like that. They are all so different, and honestly, I liked all of this, which is rare for me.
  3. Zofia. She is probably the most similar to me. What I loved most about her is that the Polish are represented! Five five, y’all. I rarely read books where Polish people are represented in a positive light. My mom immigrated here legally from Poland, so it is nice to be represented. She shares my godmother’s name, and for me, was the most “normal”. She is the only one still connected with a family.

 

Things I Didn’t Like:

  1. Magic System. Wait! I did like the magic system, but I don’t feel like it was explained enough for the reader to understand. I would like to know the differences, how they are formed, and more about the history of the Houses and the unique abilities each House wields. A prequel about the history of the Houses would be amazing.
  2. Predictable. The end wasn’t really a surprise to me with how things went. I won’t go into spoilers. But Severin’s situation didn’t surprise me at all. And every time a heist was taking place, it never went like it was supposed to. Normally, I would like that, but things going wrong was the normal, so I wanted to see things run smoothly for once.
  3. The beginning. I had such a hard time getting into the novel. Once I did, it was amazing and I appreciated every minute.

 

The Gilded Wolves is a story about magic, vengeance, and friendship. People who enjoy heists and a loyal gang of misfits will love this novel.

Book Reviews

The Beholder (The Beholder, #1) by Anna Bright

The BeholderTitle: The Beholder (The Beholder, #1)
Author: Anna Bright
Rating: ★★★★

Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.

 

Peter:

Peter

 

Bear:

At first I think of this guy (just by the name):

bear

But, in reality, this is who Bear reminds me of:

darcy

 

Torden:

torden

 

The Beholder initially gave me vibes of The Selection and The Bachelorette, however, after reading this novel, it is completely different. The motivation is to help her father.

Selah’s story starts off like Cinderella with the evil step mom. Being the heir to Potomac, Selah poses a threat to her step mom’s soon-to-be baby. However, since Selah is a woman, it is best to have a man sitting by her side. Her best friend, Peter, seems like an easy shoe-in for her, but she is rejected and humiliated when making a proposal. With her reputation at stake, she has no choice but to travel abroad and find a husband somewhere else. Of course, her evil step mom helps profusely. The only problem is that everyone on the list is heir to the throne besides for one young man.

First stop is London to find the first Prince Charming, aka Bear. Bear, her bodyguard, is actually secretly the Prince the entire time. I loved this aspect of the story and wish it would’ve ended here. It proves that it doesn’t matter what your status is if the love is real. I totally understand why the King wanted things to play out the way they did and I don’t blame them, but Selah is all butt hurt about it. If she really loved him, she would understand, but she is all self-righteous. This is how the good guys are ruined. Girls like her! Don’t even get me started on how this ended. It makes me want to eat a whole bag of gummy candies.

Then comes Thor, aka Torden. Literally, I felt like I was watching the movie and the rivalry between Thor and Loki. Torden and Selah will never work. I don’t understand the chemistry. They have nothing in common and I feel like she is trying to change who he is. He actually is setting aside his responsibilities for her. Torden told her that his people come first, but we all know that wouldn’t be enough for her.

It was clear as day to me from the beginning that you were the one.

Things seem perfect for Selah and Torden. He promises to go to Potomac with her for a little while to save her father. And BOOM! Oden finds out that Selah’s crew on The Beholder are all rebels, so no proposal for you, sweetie. At least two people found a happy ending 😉

Selah is one of the most annoying protagonists. She says she wants love, but honestly, I feel like she is selfish. She leads these guys on and wants them to fall in love with her, but will always choose something else over them. There is always an excuse for it to not work. A good leader is patient and understanding. How can she rule a country and be a good leader when she can’t even afford to give the same to people she supposedly loves?

Something else confusing was the world-building. We have I’d guess 1800’s England and Nordic Thor. I’m not sure what the time period was. The countries seem to emulate the world today, but it is slightly confusing. There are so many alliterations to other fairytales or stories, yet these are from many different time periods. There just needs to be some consistency, and I found it hard to piece it all together.

A thousand tiny moments.

Yeses and nos that change the world.

The Beholder is a story about finding love, overcoming adversity, and loyalty. Bright makes readers swoon with the introduction of princes from all over. Perfect in their own ways, yet full of flaws. The emotions that Bright was able to pull from my black heart is why I rated it so high. Team Bear!

Book Reviews

The Beautiful (The Beautiful, #1) by Renee Ahdieh

The BeautifulTitle: The Beautiful (The Beautiful, #1)
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Rating: ★★★★

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.

YESSS! Finally! Another vampire novel. The world has been waiting for this for years now. Unfortunately, I waited until right before the sequel was coming out. My mistake!

Initially, I was getting the Twilight vibes. Two guys who are swore enemies are vying for the attention of one human girl.

We must taste the bitter before we can appreciate the sweet.

The world-building was fantastic. The Gothic culture is one not mentioned enough. The lush descriptions of underground New Orleans is depicted as extravagant and elite. I could taste the buttery pastries slowly dissolving on my tongue. The Court of Lions is deceptive, secretive, and exclusive. This time period is the perfect setting for the vampiric culture.

Celine, our narrator, is a strong, direct, and thick-skinned girl. She has a past. We all do. What I loved the most about her is that she was able to be strong, yet vulnerable. Celine struggled with the actions of her past, but realized that they didn’t make who she was now. Afraid to be vulnerable to the people closest to her, she realizes that it is okay to ask for help and to rely on those close with her. I know, I, myself, have struggled with the same realization in the past.

Bastian is the bad-boy of the town. He can get any and every girl he wants, the men fear him, and he is as cocky as they come…until Celine comes in town. Him and Celine are more alike than they think.

I want to love Celine and Bastian together, but I always root for the underdog. I guess I am team Grimaldi. Sorry, not sorry.

My one complaint was I’m getting too many Twilight vibes. Hopefully, in The Damned, it strays away from how I see the story moving. I also thought ALL of the characters in the Court of Lions were too loud. I know some of them have to be introverts!

Which brings me to my next point…Pippa. I love her! She is so quiet and genuine…but she is definitely hiding something and I think she has to be paranormal in some way.

it’s up to us to make the best of our lives

Ahdieh brought readers a broody, dark, and Gothic world where paranormal characters live. Her lush descriptions of New Orleans circa 1872 makes readers feel like they’re participating in the balls and festivities.

Book Reviews

All the Stars and Teeth (All the Stars and Teeth, #1) by Adalyn Grace

All the Stars and TeethTitle: All the Stars and Teeth (All the Stars and Teeth, #1)
Author: Adalyn Grace
Rating: ★★★

Set in a kingdom where danger lurks beneath the sea, mermaids seek vengeance with song, and magic is a choice.

She will reign.

As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer—the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.

When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.

But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder—and more peril—than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.

I am the right choice. The only choice. And I will protect my kingdom.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?

Honestly, I’m getting a little tired of re-tellings, mostly because I’m not reading anything new. Where are all of the original ideas?! We already know how it is going to end from the very beginning. Give me some suspense or and upset. Anything. PLEASE

What went through my head the most during this novel was Moana.

moana

Queue the predictable love story…enemies to lovers that fall in love so fast and out of nowhere. Both have lies, both forgive and trust way too easily. Just give me a pirate like Jack Sparrow, someone ruthless. Bastian is way too soft for the sea.

Vatea and Ferrick are the true heroes of the novel! They were more real and enticing to read about than anyone else. You saw their struggles and their strengths. Vatea and Ferrick had the most at stake and, honestly, I feel like they gave the most in order for the mission to succeed.

Overall, All the Stars and Teeth was an average read, although, it was fast. There was so much room for development upon the magic system, learning more about the other islands, and a deeper look into our supporting characters. Hopefully, this will all be addressed in the next installment.

Book Reviews

[BLOG TOUR & Q&A] Night of the Dragon (Shadow of the Fox, #3) by Julie Kagawa

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Welcome to my stop on the Night of the Dragon book tour! Thank you to Inkyard Press for organizing the tour and allowing me to participate as a tour stop!


ABOUT THE BOOK

Night of the Dragon

Title: NIGHT OF THE DRAGON
Author: Julie Kagawa
Pub. Date: March 31, 2020
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Genre: Young Adult Legends, Myths, Fables, Young Adult Paranormal, Occult & Supernatural, Young Adult Fantasy
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&N, IndieBoundBooks-A-MillionAppleBooksGoogle Play

All is lost.

To save everyone she loves from imminent death, kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko gave up the final piece of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. Now she and her ragtag band of companions must make one desperate final effort to stop the Master of Demons from using the scroll to call the Great Kami Dragon and make the wish that will plunge the empire into chaos.

Shadow clan assassin Kage Tatsumi has regained control of his body and agreed to a true deal with the devil—the demon inside him, Hakaimono. They will share his body and work with Yumeko to stop a madman, and to separate Hakaimono from Tatsumi and the cursed sword that trapped the demon for nearly a millennium.

But even with their combined skills and powers, this unlikely team of heroes knows the forces of evil may be impossible to overcome. And there is another player in the battle for the scroll, a player who has been watching, waiting for the right moment to pull strings that no one even realized existed…until now.


REVIEW

For whatever reason, this novel tugged at my heart strings. I knew how everything was going to turnout, but putting myself in Yumeko’s shoes, dang, I’m not sure how I’d be able to accomplish what she is. I love her! She is such a great dynamic character, her growth from the first novel to the last was so significant and she is so pure of heart, full of doubt, and hopeful that you can’t help but like her.

Next…the supporting characters who are super supportive and selfless, but also main characters. The story just wouldn’t be the same without them. Usually, there are multiple characters I dislike, but man, Tatsumi (*heart eyes*), Daisuke, Okame, Reika, and Suki are all such good friends. They all have their own personalities, but are willing to risk it all for the better of Iwagoto.

The magic system intertwined within Iwagoto is unique in of itself. The Japanese mythology woven throughout the trilogy is refreshing and animating. I find myself wanting to look more into the history. Now I know where Eevee and Ninetails came from!

What I didn’t like was the predictability of the story. While I liked the outcome, I like a little suspense. One thing I didn’t find believable was the demons being “good” or turned off by the protagonists. I don’t think demons would react that way. However, none of this ruined the plot by any means.

“you’ll know it’s me because our souls will recognize each other”

Night of the Dragon is a tale of friendship, love, and the power of good. Readers who like a story where the good guys win and the bad get what they deserve will love this novel.

See my review for Shadow of the Fox here.
See my review for Soul of the Sword here.

★★★★


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Julie Kagawa_Hires2017 (1)

Julie Kagawa, the New York Times bestselling author of the Iron Fey, Blood of Eden, Talon, and Shadow of the Fox series was born in Sacramento, California. But nothing exciting really happened to her there. So, at the age of nine she and her family moved to Hawaii, which she soon discovered was inhabited by large carnivorous insects, colonies of house geckos, and frequent hurricanes. She spent much of her time in the ocean, when she wasn’t getting chased out of it by reef sharks, jellyfish, and the odd eel.

When not swimming for her life, Julie immersed herself in books, often to the chagrin of her schoolteachers, who would find she hid novels behind her Math textbooks during class. Her love of reading led her to pen some very dark and gruesome stories, complete with colored illustrations, to shock her hapless teachers. The gory tales faded with time, but the passion for writing remained, long after she graduated and was supposed to get a real job.

To pay the rent, Julie worked in different bookstores over the years, but discovered the managers frowned upon her reading the books she was supposed to be shelving. So she turned to her other passion: training animals. She worked as a professional dogtrainer for several years, dodging Chihuahua bites and overly enthusiastic Labradors, until her first book sold and she stopped training to write full time.

Julie now lives in North Carolina with her husband, two obnoxious cats, and a pair of Australian Shepherds that have more Instagram followers than she does.

Follow Julie:
Website| FaceBookInstagram | Twitter| Goodreads


Q&A

Q: What was the hardest scene to write? What was the easiest?
A:  The hardest scene was the last battle with the Final Boss at the end.  Without giving away spoilers, there was a lot of kitsune magic, illusion and misdirection, and trying to show everything that was going on without making it too confusing was a challenge.  I don’t remember an easy scene to write, but I did enjoy writing one of the final chapters (where I hope everyone cries).  

Q: Did you hide any secrets in your book? (names of friends, little jokes, references to things only some people will get)
A: There are a few references that only those very familiar with Japanese folklore would get.  For example, the names of the Reika’s two dogs, Chu and Ko, come from a Japanese novel called The Eight Dog Chronicles, which has been adapted into manga, anime, and even video games.  In Soul of the Sword, Yumeko and her friends are on their way to the home of the tengu, when they encounter a pair of magical stone guardians called Yoshitsune and Benkei, two real life historical figures that inspired countless legends and stories.  In folklore, Minamoto no Yoshitsune was a near mythical swordsman who had been trained by the king of the tengu, and Benki was a warrior monk who was his stalwart companion. 

 

Q: What do you hope people remember about Night of the Dragon?
A: I hope people come away with a new appreciation of Japanese myth and folklore, particularly all the wonderfully bizarre yokai, yurei and bakemono that populate these stories.  From kitsune and tanuki to oni and kirin, I hope it inspires readers to learn more about the world of Japanese myth and legend. And I hope people remember how much they cried at the end of the story. 

 

Q: What is your dream cast for Night of the Dragon?
A:  I am so bad at this question.  I really can’t answer it because one: I am terrible at keeping up with current actors/actresses.  And two: I see everyone in Shadow of the Fox as anime characters.

 

Book Reviews

Havenfall (Havenfall, #1) by Sara Holland

HavenfallTitle: Havenfall (Havenfall, #1)
Author: Sara Holland
Rating: ★★★★

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

A safe haven between four realms. The girl sworn to protect it–at any cost.

Hidden deep in the mountains of Colorado lies the Inn at Havenfall, a sanctuary that connects ancient worlds–each with their own magic–together. For generations, the inn has protected all who seek refuge within its walls, and any who disrupt the peace can never return.

For Maddie Morrow, summers at the inn are more than a chance to experience this magic first-hand. Havenfall is an escape from reality, where her mother sits on death row accused of murdering Maddie’s brother. It’s where Maddie fell in love with handsome Fiorden soldier Brekken. And it’s where one day she hopes to inherit the role of Innkeeper from her beloved uncle.

But this summer, the impossible happens–a dead body is found, shattering everything the inn stands for. With Brekken missing, her uncle gravely injured, and a dangerous creature on the loose, Maddie suddenly finds herself responsible for the safety of everyone in Havenfall. She’ll do anything to uncover the truth, even if it means working together with an alluring new staffer Taya, who seems to know more than she’s letting on. As dark secrets are revealed about the inn itself, one thing becomes clear to Maddie–no one can be trusted, and no one is safe . . .

Havenfall is known as the refuge located at the place where worlds meet. Maddie, our protagonist, spends every summer helping her uncle Marcus as innkeeper of the this sanctuary. After her mother is accused of murdering Maddie’s brother, Maddie can’t wait for summer to come any sooner.

After being betrayed by those closest to her multiple times, Maddie finds herself as the standing-in innkeeper of Havenfall. While it was always her dream, she never wanted to become innkeeper this way. After sifting through all of the lies, will Maddie find the source of the evil that fell upon Havenfall?

There has always been war, that doesn’t make us all monsters.

The magic system was really unique in Havenfall. I loved figuring out the source of the opening of the door. While not a unique magic system in its entirety, how the magic was infused within the story was unique in itself.

The plot left me hanging. I want to know the status of the fourth forgotten world. Will our favorite characters return? What happened to the “bad guy”? Who does Maddie choose?

But I know, too, that I’m not giving up, not walking away. As long as I’m the Innkeeper, official or not, I’ll be whatever Havenfall needs me to be. I will become strong enough. Whatever it takes to make this place safe again, home again. Home to anyone who needs it, with its doors open wide.

Havenfall is a story of betrayal, suspenseful, and longing for a sequel. This book is perfect for lovers of fantasy and a little bit of mystery.

 

Book Reviews

Shaken: Young Reader’s Edition: Fighting to Stand Strong No Matter What Comes Your Way by Tim Tebow; A.J. Gregory

ShakenTitle: Shaken: Young Reader’s Edition: Fighting to Stand Strong No Matter What Comes Your Way
Author: Tim Tebow; A.J. Gregory
Rating: ★★★

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

The New York Times best-selling author and Heisman Trophy winner shares a vision for young Christians still forming their identity and finding their God-given purpose–even when life doesn’t go as planned.

Beloved sports icon Tim Tebow was a college football champion and a first-round draft pick–but then he was traded and eventually cut. In Shaken Young Reader’s Edition, he reveals how he navigated both triumph and disappointment and explains how neither the highs nor the lows of his life define him. Ultimately, only God can do that.

The same is true for every one of us. God has given us a unique set of talents and experiences in order to fulfill our divine purpose. Whether He intends for us to influence those close to us, like our friends and our family, or even the entire world, there are no limits to the great things God can accomplish through us when we let Him determine who we are. But we may miss God’s incredible plan for our lives if we’re so busy trying to be just like everyone else–by blending in with the crowd or refusing to stand up for what is right.

Jesus was anything but normal!

Nothing is more empowering, more life-giving, and more exciting than having a strong identity. Jesus knows this, and He wants you to know it as well. When we are willing to let God define who we are, He will take what we have to offer and multiply it in ways and for purposes that we cannot imagine!

This was my first audiobook…ever! I have read the original novel prior, not the Young Reader’s Edition until this audiobook and it is very similar. However, the audience is different as was the intention.

What I love about this novel is how he relates his personal struggles with athletics. The similes, the sports references, and the vulnerability that Tebow portrays brings him back down to reality. While his life may seem “perfect”, readers learn of his struggles, and some problems being the same that you and I face. Tim never gives up, no matter how hard the struggle. He is inspirational, humbling, and relatable.

What I didn’t like was the voice of the audiobook. I don’t know, he just wasn’t believable as being Tim Tebow’s voice, and it sounded a little “douchey” to be honest (sorry!).

Overall, Shaken is a story of inspiration, overcoming adversity, and maintaining strength through hard times. This is a great read for anyone looking for a little pick-me-up.