Review & Intl Giveaway: Beasts of the Frozen Sun, written by Jill Criswell

Review & Intl Giveaway: Beasts of the Frozen Sun, written by Jill Criswell
Blog Tour: Three Days in Florence, written by Chrissie Manby | Review

Beasts of the Frozen Sun(Frozen Sun Saga #1) by Jill Criswell

Publication date: August 6, 2019 
Publisher: Blackstone
Pages: 368
Genre: Fantasy, YA(NA)
Buy: Book Depository | Wordery

Synopsis:
Burn brightly. Love fiercely. For all else is dust.
Every child of Glasnith learns the last words of Aillira, the god-gifted mortal whose doomed love affair sparked a war of gods and men, and Lira of clan Stone knows the story better than most. As a descendant of Aillira and god-gifted in her own right, she has the power to read people’s souls, to see someone’s true essence with only a touch of her hand.
When a golden-haired warrior washes up on the shores of her homeland–one of the fearful marauders from the land of the Frozen Sun–Lira helps the wounded man instead of turning him in. After reading his soul, she realizes Reyker is different than his brethren who attack the coasts of Glasnith. He confides in her that he’s been cursed with what his people call battle-madness, forced to fight for the warlord known as the Dragon, a powerful tyrant determined to reignite the ancient war that Aillira started.
As Lira and Reyker form a bond forbidden by both their clans, the wrath of the Dragon falls upon them and all of Glasnith, and Lira finds herself facing the same tragic fate as her ancestor. The battle for Lira’s life, for Reyker’s soul, and for their peoples’ freedom has only just begun.

Trigger Warnings: Death, Abuse, mentions of rape

– My Thoughts –

I was in awe after seeing the cover of Beasts of the Frozen Sun by Jill Criswell and its inside was almost as beautiful as its outside. Let’s unpack my thoughts on this dark YA- borders on NA- fantasy and see if it’s something you’d love.

The enemy’s small army was spread out before him, waving their weapons, shouting, beating in wild fury upon their shields.

Beasts starts with a bloody battle where we meet one of our protagonists Reyker who is later sent to destroy another village where our heroine Lira lives. In the beginning, Reyker could be viewed as a soul-less pillager as we just witnessed the devastation he causes along with the other warriors fighting for a god called the Dragon. However, we soon realize that he’s there against his will and that he’s fighting to keep his humanity alive.

Lira is a soul-reader; she was god-gifted or as more commonly known as a Daughter of Aillira. Daughters of Aillira all have different sorts of magic but not all of the women in Lira’s island have the abilities. Women have two options on this island of Glasnith: get married or pledge themselves to Aillira’s Temple. As a grand-daughter of her clan’s leader, she should have some modicum of the freedom but alas, that’s only a dream for Lira. She’s used as a weapon for her clan like all the other god gifted women. One day, after witnessing the execution of a man in which she was complicit, she discovers a wounded foreigner near the shores and it’s none other than Reyker. Due to their history, Lira feels compelled to help Reyker without thinking of its consequences. Soon, Lira will have to choose between saving her village and her foreigner..her beast from the lands of the Frozen Sun.

You wield the lost sword of the Frozen Sun. A weapon of the Ice Gods in the hands of the Green Gods’ soul-reader. ’Tis a story poets will pen, a tale fit for the scriptures.

There’s no doubt that Jill Criswell has written a wonderful story based off of Celtic mythology where Gods toy with mortals and bend them to their will. I loved the forbidden aspect of romance and the historical setting with clans, warriors, badass women all of whom were equipped with different powers!! There’s the bit of an anti-hero aspect to Reyker too and I loved the way the author slowly unpacked the reasons behind his darkness. It was beautiful to watch the way Lira and Reyker’s friendship unfolded, how they learned to communicate, how Lira helped Reyker tread through a path of darkness into the light. The villain was pretty frightening and even though he played a minor role in this book, his actions suggest a bigger role in the upcoming sequel. Although I loved the characters, the setting, and the cliffhanger ending, there was something missing in the book. Keeping in mind that I read an ARC, I found that a lot of the actions seemed repetitive to me. The majority of the story takes place on the island and I wanted them to get out of the island at some point. If you’d noticed, I wrote NA in parentheses besides genre(above in description) because Beasts of the Frozen Sun reads more like an NA fantasy with the pace of YA.

Overall, I would recommend this book if you are looking for a darker, grittier fantasy that borders on NA more than YA; if you’re a lover of a little bit of mystery, fantasy, star-crossed lovers angst, politics, and romance. Since this is the first book in a trilogy, there are a lot of things that were left unexplained but it definitely kept me on my toes which I appreciated very much! Book two in the Frozen Sun saga is set to release sometime next year.

Thanks to the publisher for gifting me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Jill Criswell is a writer of Young Adult Historical Fantasy. She was born and raised in the swamps of northeastern Florida. She earned degrees in English and Psychology and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida. Her greatest passion, besides reading and writing, is traveling the world; she’s visited fifty countries across six continents, falling in love with places like Iceland, Namibia, and Cambodia. She works as a university English teacher and lives in South Carolina, near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with her husband and daughter (who is named after a volcano in Iceland).

Website | Goodreads |  Twitter

International Giveaway

Thanks to the publisher, I’ll be giving away two hardcovers of Beasts of the Frozen Sun and exclusive tote bags! Open internationally. Just click on the image below:

International Giveaway: Beasts of the Frozen Sun

P.S.: If the image isn’t clickable for any reason, please click here.

Review + Giveaway: Truly Madly Royally, written by Debbie Rigaud

Blog Tour: Sea Witch Rising( Sea Witch #2), written by Sarah Henning
Review + Giveaway: Truly Madly Royally, written by Debbie Rigaud

Truly Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud

Publication date: July 30, 2019
Publisher: Point 
Pages:
 304
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance
Buy:
Book Depository | Wordery | Amazon

Fiercely independent and smart, Zora Emerson wants to change the world. She’s excited to be attending a prestigious summer program, even if she feels out of place among her privileged, mostly white classmates. So she’s definitely not expecting to feel a connection to Owen, who’s an actual prince of an island off the coast of England. But Owen is funny, charming…and undeniably cute. Zora can’t ignore the chemistry between them. When Owen invites Zora to be his date at his big brother’s big royal wedding, Zora is suddenly thrust into the spotlight, along with her family and friends. Everyone is talking about her, in real life and online, and while Owen is used to the scrutiny, Zora’s not sure it’s something she can live with. Can she maintain her sense of self while moving between two very different worlds? And can her feelings for Owen survive and thrive in the midst of the crazy? Find out in this charming romantic comedy that’s like The Princess Diaries for a new generation.

My Thoughts

Truly Madly Royally was like a mash-up of The Princess Diaries, The Prince and me and of course, the story of Harry and Meghan. I loved our protagonist Zora, who was smart, driven, kind and compassionate. Zora falls for our prince charming Owen while she was studying at a prestigious college and the rest is, as they say, history. The romance was way too fast and unbelievable for me. The problem I had was with Owen; he was such an unrelatable character that every scene of him with Zora made me cringe.

Overall, this was a light rom-com which can be enjoyed during the summer or whenever you’re looking for a quick read.

Thanks to The Fantastic Flying Book Club and the publisher for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:

Debbie Rigaud

YA author Debbie M. Rigaud began her writing career covering news and entertainment for magazines. She’s interviewed celebs, politicians, social figures and “real” girls. Her writing has appeared in Seventeen, CosmoGIRL!, Essence, J-14, Trace, Heart&Soul and Vibe Vixen, to name a few. Her first YA fiction writing was published in the anthology HALLWAY DIARIES (KimaniTru Press/September 2007). Her first standalone YA book–a Simon Pulse romantic comedy titled PERFECT SHOT–is due out in the Fall of 2009

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram

Tour-wide Giveaway:

Click the button below to enter a US-only Giveaway! Open until 7th August ’19

Tour Schedule:

Click on this link to read the rest of the blog tour posts!

Book Review: The Friend Zone, written by Abby Jimenez

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez book review

Review: The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

Publication date: June 11, 2019 Pages: 361
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Adult fiction 
Buy:
Book Depository | Wordery

Synopsis:

Kristen Petersen doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen—especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length.

The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with wit, heart, and a lot of sass.

Trigger Warningsinfertility, motorcycle accidents, hospitals, death of a loved one

Should You read The Friend Zone?

“I’m a woman. I can go into a bar penniless wearing sweats and a questionable rash and come out with leftovers and a buzz.”

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez is the author’s debut novel where we see an unlikely romance bloom between Kristen and Josh but it had its problems. Let me explain…

there are some spoilers, so proceed with caution

The Friend Zone starts with Kristen’s car being rear-ended by Josh’s. Later, we find out that Josh is fresh out of a relationship and is also the best man in his best friend Brandon’s wedding. As luck would have it, Kristen is the maid-of-honor in her best friend Sloan’s wedding to Brandon!

It seems that from the beginning Josh and Kristen have an attraction to each other but Kristen has a boyfriend, Tyler, who’s currently deployed overseas and is going to return home soon. However, Kristen has other problems like her uterus, which is faulty. Kristen has fibroids embedded in her uterus which leads to irregular period, pain and problems with fertility.

When Kristen needs a carpenter for her business, Josh volunteers and as days go by, he and Kristen start becoming good friends. Except Josh knows that he wants more than friendship with Kristen but he knows he can’t; what Josh doesn’t know is that Kristen is starting to like him too. Later, Kristen finds out that Josh comes from a big family and wants kids of his own someday. He even emphasizes that one of the reasons he broke up with his ex-girlfriend was that she didn’t want kids. This is where Kristen decides that even if she broke up with Tyler in the near future, there would be no Josh and Kristen. Here’s when I start to get confused and irritated with the story. I could glean from some lines that Kristen feels lonely as Tyler, her boyfriend is deployed almost all the time. She loves him but there isn’t passion in it. She starts comparing Tyler with Josh and yes, they are different in so many ways but it felt like we were hurtling towards the moment when Tyler would say that he’s reenlisting with the military which would break Kristen’s heart and Josh will be there to comfort her. Yes, I do mean that literally. For me, the sex between Kristen and Josh was too soon for comfort and I would have liked for the tension between them to continue for a few more pages. Sure, I could see their obvious attraction in their banter, Josh’s way of caring for her when her period pains were too bad..even though, there was no cheating(if you want to be technical)..I still think those characters deserved to grow more and have some breathing space.

phew! I had to get that out *wipes sweat*

Kristen and Josh don’t immediately fall in love but they remain friends with benefits as Kristen feels guilty because she can’t give more to Josh and getting his hopes would be too cruel. Soon, a terrible incident occurs which forces Kristen to re-evaluate her decisions.

Let’s talk about some things I loved. I’ve never seen such an open discussion of periods and infertility as I saw in this book. Even Josh is unfazed by periods as opposed to most other heroes who get turned off or just plain ignore it. I also loved that upon learning Kristen’s condition, Josh was fine having her in his life because he just couldn’t imagine a future without her. I LOVED THIS.

Since this is a romance novel and I know you might want to know if this has a H-E-A(Happily Ever After) ending and how much steamy -on a scale of 1-10- is this book. I fully expected to be a typical H-E-A but it wasn’t and the twist which is the incident that shall not be named broke my heart into several pieces. Just to be clear, there is an HEA ending but it was somewhat bittersweet. I would rank this a 3 or 4 in the scale of steaminess. Some of you will have trouble reconciling with the ending but I’ll say yes, it can happen. I don’t want to offer any more spoilers but Kristen’s outcome is a very possible one and I know it because my sister went through it. You will know what I’m talking about when/if you read the book. Sure, the author could have written an alternate ending but she chose this one because it’s possible too.

I won’t say I am biased but I’m so glad that a book dealing with infertility is out there because Kristen’s condition is quite similar to my own, and furthermore, I wholeheartedly agree what the author said: We’re not defined by our ability to have children, our worth goes beyond the state of our uterus.

Overall, I highly recommend  this romance novel if you love reading contemporary romances with a bit of a twist. There are lots of funny moments and banter between characters, sexual tension and there’s a dog called Stuntman Mike who’s a very good dog😌😍

Thanks to the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

VERDICT: 

About the Author:

Abby Jimenez

You can connect with author Abby Jimenez through her Website or Goodreads

Is The Friend Zone on your TBR? Have you already read it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Blog Tour | Review: Soul of the Sword( Shadow of the Fox #2) by Julie Kagawa

Blog Tour | Review: Soul of the Sword( Shadow of the Fox #2) by Julie Kagawa

Soul of the Sword( Shadow of the Fox #2) by Julie Kagawa

Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa

  • Publication Date: 25th June, 2019
  • Paperback: 464 pages     
  • Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
  • Buy: Book Depository | Wordery

THE TIME OF THE WISH APPROACHES… 

Yumeko the shapeshifter had one task: take her piece of the ancient and powerful scroll to the Steel Feather temple and prevent the summoning of the great Kami Dragon. But she has a new enemy now. The demon Hakaimono, has escaped and possessed the samurai she thought would protect her, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan.

Hakaimono has done the unthinkable and joined forces with Genno, the Master of Demons, to break his curse and set himself free. But Genno wishes to overthrow the empire and cover the land in darkness. To do that he needs only one thing, the scroll Yumeko is hiding. As the paths of Yumeko and the possessed Tatsumi cross again the entire empire will be thrown into chaos.

AND CHAOS WILL DARKEN AN EMPIRE.”

Should You read Soul of the Sword?

“This is why I don’t trust magic,” he muttered, leaning back against the tree. “Inanimate objects like swords and scrolls should not WANT to be found. They should not want anything.”

Did. You. See. the COVER?!?! Ohmygosh. I love the US one more than this cover I’ve featured(UK one), but you can’t deny that this one is pretty too! Anyway, I should warn you that there will be spoilers ahead if you’ve not read Shadow of the Fox and of course, there’s some physical violence in this book..so, proceed with caution.

Shadow of the Fox was all about traveling and it ended when Yumeko and Tatsumi reach their destination. Soul of the Sword is all about action and I’m here for it! There are multiple perspectives here too but I didn’t find it too difficult to follow this time. We see Yumeko and gang deciding about how to free Tatsumi from Hakaimono without destroying themselves in return. They’re also -still- trying to secure the piece of an ancient scroll, Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, away from the demons and people with nefarious intentions reach.  Hakaimono, in Tatsumi’s body, joins up with the Master of Demons to retrieve the scroll piece so he can use the wish to free himself from the cursed sword. Will Yumeko be able to save Tatsumi? or, will the entire empire be destroyed at the hands of Hakaimono?

The world-building was incredibly done and there are more monsters and mythical creatures in this book. Surprisingly, I grew to like the characters more and Yumeko is not a naive little half-kitsune anymore. Yumeko is still not adept at recognizing sarcasm so that makes for some pretty interesting conversations.

Reika: “It wouldn’t surprise me if one of us accidentally ‘tripped’ and stumbled off the path while following him.”

Yumeko: “Does that mean the Path will be very bumpy, or that Naganori-san will not help us if we do?”

I definitely expected a POV of Hakaimono and it was interesting, I dare say, being in his head. He’s described as the most powerful demons of all and while, it’s not comforting to read when he’s torturing Tatsumi, I must say I enjoyed reading his views and his struggles with Tatsumi. The pace was faster this time and the stakes were higher. There’s also the development of yet another romance and you won’t hear me complaining.

The twist ,in the end, was completely mind-boggling! I wasn’t expecting it to head in THAT direction, to say the least.

“I didn’t think Naganori’s Shadow magic would produce flowers and butterflies, unless they were black butterflies that ate your soul, which didn’t seem healthy at all.”

Overall, I recommend this book to you if you loved book one. This is much darker than the first book with action-packed scenes, characters you’ll love and an ending that will make you scream- in vain- for the third book.

Thanks to the publisher for including me on the blog tour and for gifting me a physical copy in exchange for an honest review.

VERDICT: 

About the Author:

Julie Kagawa

You can find more about Julie here

Blog Tour | Review: Soul of the Sword( Shadow of the Fox #2) by Julie Kagawa

Have you read Soul of the Sword? Did you like Shadow of the fox? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Blog Tour Schedule:

Blog Tour | Review: Soul of the Sword( Shadow of the Fox #2) by Julie Kagawa


Blog Tour | Review: Concerto by Hannah Fielding

Blog Tour | Review: Concerto of Hannah Fielding

Review: Concerto of Hannah Fielding

About the Book: Publisher: London Wall Publishing  Publication Date: 6th June, 2019   Paperback: 560 Pages    Genre: Romance
Goodreads   Buy:Book Depository | Wordery

SYNOPSIS

From the award winning romance novelist, comes a passionate, slow-burning romance that will have you wanting to move to the continent for an old fashioned holiday romance of pure escapism. 
On a bright morning in Nice, eighteen-year-old aspiring opera singer, Catriona de Vere finds the two-storey reddish-pink bricked house Les Platanes has been sold. Its new occupant and her new neighbour is none other than the celebrated concert pianist, handsome and rude Umberto Rolando Monteverdi.

Fascinated by the hypnotizing piano melodies filtering through her bedroom windows night after night, Catriona cannot hide her growing attraction to her neighbour until his music seduces her into his bed, leaving a trail of unexpected consequences and the sting of betrayal.

Ten years later, having put Umberto out of her mind, Catriona, now a respected musical therapist, is visited by opera diva Calandra, Umberto’s mother, with a dying request to help recover her son’s musical gift after a car accident robbed him of his sight.

Catriona arrives at Umberto’s Palladian mansion on the glittering shores of Lake Como to find him resistant to her every effort. Caught up in the tempestuous intrigues at her client’s estate, Catriona discovers her feelings toward the blind musician are still as strong as ever. Harbouring secrets of her own – can Catriona share what she has hidden from Umberto for the past decade and will she ever be able to break through the darkness that engulfs Umberto?
 A sensual tale of romance and nostalgia, Concerto illustrates the pain of lost love and the heroine determined to put things right.

Should You read Concerto by Hannah Fielding?

First of all, I would like to thank Midas PR for reaching out to me about the blog tour and letting me be a part of it.

Second of all, let’s start with the usual. Let me tell you a bit about the story and then I’ll let you know what I thought of it.

Concerto starts with 18 year old Catriona who has ambitions to become an opera singer and lives an uneventful life in Nice until one day, her quite neighbourbood villa gains itself a new owner. The new owner is none other than Umberto Monteverdi, the son of a famous Opera singer and Catriona’s idol. Catriona is offended by the brusque nature of Umberto but is soon charmed as they meet again and again. Their last meeting -before their lives changed forever- was at an audition where Catriona was one of the contestants and he was the judge. After that momentous night, they wouldn’t meet, not atleast for 10 more years.

flash forward 10 years

Catriona is now a musical therapist and she is contacted by Umberto’s mother because her son needs Catriona’s help now, desperately. It is Umberto’s mother dying wish that her son reach out to the world and start making music again but for that she needs Catriona’s help. Umberto has lost his sight after a car accident and it’s only Catriona who can help him ..try to help him with her musical therapy. However, Umberto is not the only obstacle Catriona must face; she must face telling Umberto a well-kept secret and face its consequences.

I am..well, was *it seems*.. a huge fan of the lovers reuniting after several years trope. However, I felt this book had the promise of being a good romance novel that I could re-read but it wasn’t. For one thing, Catriona felt head over heels in love for Umberto..I mean, I get it ..Italian good lucks, that body, that hair…mmmm..insert PG13 thoughtsbut here, it felt too naive too unreal. I loved the description of Lake Como, even as little there was and Catriona’s love of music. Catriona had great potential to be an Opera star but she had to sacrifice that but she found music in yet another career where she can help others to heal through music, which is frankly incredible. There’s lots of sexual tension and light sex scenes which were tasteful and didn’t end up as one of the negative factors in this story-for me.

Overall, I recommend this book if you love protagonists who fall in love despite there differences, meet after several years and have lots of baggage..uhh, the emotional kind … and descriptions of Italy that will make you click that “Buy Ticket” button..well, if you’ve that kind of cash laying around

Thanks to the publisher for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

VERDICT: 

 

About Author:

Concerto by Hannah Fielding |author photo

Having already had huge success as one of the UK’s leading romance authors with total sales of over 130k, Concerto follows the award-winning success of Hannah Fielding’s previous novels Aphrodite’s TearsBurning Embers, Echoes of Love, Masquerade, Legacy and IndiscretionEchoes of Love won Romance Novel of the Year at the IPB Awards in 2012, Burning Embers was Amazon’s book of the month in 2011, and Hannah’s novels have been translated into 13 languages. With its spectacular setting and deep emotional drama, Concerto will appeal both to fans of her backlist, as well as lovers of atmospheric travel writing including Santa Montefiore, Penny Vincenzie, Victoria Hislop and Lucinda Riley. 

Egyptian by birth Hannah is fluent in French, English and Arabic and has lived all over the world. She currently lives between her writing retreat in the South of France and her rambling family home in Ireland.  Hannah’s grandmother, Esther Fanous, was the revolutionary feminist writer in Egypt during the early 1900s and helped found the Women’s Wafd Central Committee in 1920.

Blog Tour | Review: Concerto of Hannah Fielding

What do you think? Does Concerto sound like a book you’ll enjoy ? If you have read it already, then let me know if you liked it or not.