Mini Reviews: Agnes Moor’s Wild Knight & Love, and You

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23674576Agnes Moor’s Wild Knight by Alyssa Cole
Release date: December 3rd, 2014
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing
Genre: Historical fiction, romance, novella
Format: eBook

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Agnes Moor knows her place in the court of King James IV—as one of the “exotics” in his employ. When the king makes a kiss from Agnes the prize of a tourney, a mysterious knight plows through his opponents to claim it. But it isn’t chance. The Wild Knight has come for her, and her champion is after after the most elusive prize of all: her heart.

I discovered this short story while browsing diverse book aesthetics on Twitter. It was described as a steamy story set in medieval Scotland with a black heroine. I’m down for anything based in Scotland but the description just sounded so unique, unlike anything I’ve heard of before. So, I downloaded it right away! And oh my gosh was this story so good! Yes, it was quite short, being about 38 pages in length, but it felt completely satisfying.

The story revolves around Agnes, a young black woman living at the court of King James IV. She’s not a slave or there against her will. The author has written her as a strong and independent woman who uses her intelligence to act as an ambassador and spy for King James. She’s treated as an equal by the king and queen. As someone who has studied history, it’s wonderful to see non-white characters in medieval pieces. They were knights, monks, scholars, etc. Historical fiction authors need to stop erasing them from history!

Based on her role within Scotland and in order to help bring together King James’ court and the Highlanders, a tournament is held with the winner receiving a kiss from Agnes. This tournament is based on an actual contest called the Tournament of the Wild Knight and the Black Lady. In the story, the tournament is won by the Wild Knight, a man who refuses to reveal his true identity. Even though the reader doesn’t know who this man is for at least a quarter of the book…hot damn…the build up alone made my heart beat quicken!

Once the identity of the Wild Knight is revealed things really take off! The story is super romantic. The Wild Knight fought bravely for Agnes’ kiss but it’s more than that. Their backstory really sealed it for me. A bit of an outsider himself, the Wild Knight knows what it’s like not to fit into the court himself. For him it isn’t just about lust (although the sex scenes are super steamy) but about him finding an equal. Someone who is just as intelligent, passionate and strong as he is. I find that I can just talk on and on about this book which is strange because I usually have difficulty writing reviews for books that I loved. I really wish that this story was longer. The idea and characters were so rich and wonderful to read about. Can I have a sequel please?


34335011Love, and You by Gretchen Gomez 
Release date: April 4th, 2017
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing
Genre: Poetry
Format: eBook

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one day i met a guy
who stole my heart,
we created a world
for ourselves.
and another day
he broke my heart
and shattered
my soul.

i took the tattered
pieces of this
broken soul and
became anew.

– here lies the hurting, the healing, and the learning

This poetry collection was absolutely beautiful! I don’t even have the words to explain the emotional rollercoaster I went through while reading it. It’s raw, painful and completely honest. The words really hit home because while I myself haven’t experienced some of the situations discussed in the poems, they could be applied to other events in my life. Most of the words spoke directly to me and even when they didn’t I felt the author’s pain, how much they meant to her. It brought tears to my eyes and made my heart ache. That’s why I adore poetry so much! It not only makes you reflect on your own life, but teaches you to glimpse and understand the feelings of others.

I can definitely see myself reading this collection over and over again. I purchased it as an eBook but plan on picking up a physical version soon. I highly recommend this book to everyone, even if you aren’t a fan of poetry. It’s not heavy on the symbolism and metaphors. It’s poetry for all people, written in a language and style that all can read, understand and identify with. So, go out (or hit up your favourite e-Book store) and get this gorgeous collection NOW!

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Waiting on Wednesday

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

32718027This week I’m looking forward to The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty. The cover this year are AMAZING! It’s what attracted me to this book and reading the description made me want it even more. Cairo, magic, myth…oh it sounds so good! It’s scheduled to be released on November 14th by Harper Voyager.

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Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass?a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for . . .

ARC August 2017

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It’s that time again! Read.Sleep.Repeat. are hosting another edition of ARC August. The challenge is all about having fun and getting some ARCs read.

These are the rules:

  • Any Advanced Reading Copy counts as part of this reading challenge; your backlist books count
  • No blog necessary to participate, but you’ll need to include some form of social media as part of your sign up
  • Use the #ARCAugust on social media to check-in

My TBR:

I’m keeping my TBR quite small because August is the first month of the new school year and it’s always a bit overwhelming. I’ll be teaching a new subject, working with new team members and trying to memorize tons of new names. Ahhh! I honestly don’t think that I’ll get through all 4 of these but crazier things have happened.

Mini Reviews: Ensnared & Sparks of Light

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I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

32472740Ensnared by Rita Stradling
Release date: May 23rd, 2017
Publisher: Kindle Press
Genre: New adult, science fiction, retelling
Format: eBook

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Alainn’s father is not a bad man. He’s a genius and an inventor. When he’s hired to create the robot Rose, Alainn knows taking the money is a mistake.

Rose acts like a human. She looks exactly like Alainn. But, something in her comes out wrong.

To save her father from a five year prison sentence, Alainn takes Rose’s place. She says goodbye to the sun and goes to live in a tower no human is allowed to enter. She becomes the prisoner of a man no human is allowed to see.

Believing that a life of servitude lies ahead, Alainn finds a very different fate awaits her in the company of the strange, scarred recluse.

While waiting for Rita Stradling to complete her Dakota Kekoa trilogy I thought I’d pick this book up to hold me over. It sounded interesting…a sci-fi retelling of Beauty and the Beast? Yes please! While it was creative and unlike anything I’ve read before, it still didn’t live up to how much I’ve love her other books. I know, I know. I shouldn’t be comparing apples and oranges but I can’t help, OK?

This story closely follows the overall message of Beauty and the Beast but takes place in a futuristic society. It’s centered around Alainn, who is sent to the home of a recluse named Lorccan. The catch? She has to pose as one of her father’s robots, the Rose 76GF. You see, her father, while completely brilliant, is a gambler and cheater who has gotten both of them into trouble. The whole question is what will Lorccan do when he realizes that she isn’t actually a robot, but a living breathing human?

I was entertained while reading this book and read through it quite quickly. However, it didn’t really flow, parts were uneven and there were a lot of parts that either didn’t add up or caused confusion. The insertion of random minor characters was completely unnecessary. That said, I did really like the two main characters. They were deeply flawed but funny and interesting. The setting made it really standout! I have no clue how Stradling came up with it but if it wasn’t advertised as a Beauty and the Beast retelling I could have easily read it as completely original in every sense of the word.

Overall, Ensnared is a book that I’m glad that I had a chance to read. It demonstrates the amazing amounts of creativity Stradling possesses, she truly had a talent with taking things and turning them on their heads. However, it felt a bit rushed and uneven. A few more edits or clarifications here and there would definitely improve its readability.


I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

30971762Sparks of Light by Janet B. Taylor
Release date: August 1st, 2017
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young adult, historical fiction, fantasy
Format: eBook

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For the first time in her life, Hope Walton has friends . . . and a (maybe) boyfriend. She’s a Viator, a member of a long line of time-traveling ancestors. When the Viators learn of a plan to steal a dangerous device from the inventor Nikola Tesla, only a race into the past can save the natural timeline from utter destruction. Navigating the glitterati of The Gilded Age in 1895 New York City, Hope and her crew will discover that high society can be as deadly as it is beautiful.

The first book, Into the Dim, was really pushed as being a YA Outlander but oh boy was it not! Yes, there was time travel and some of it did take place in the Scottish Highlands, but that’s where the similarities end. I thought that the first book was alright, middle of the road. An interesting read that I neither overly liked or disliked. However, this time around with Sparks of Light I quite firmly have an opinion and it’s a very negative one.

This sequel was a huge disappointment. Yup, nothing about it captured the moments of excitement seen in the first book. It just falls flat, bogged down by old memories and a lack of transitions. It read as disjointed and unsure of itself. I was honestly never really sure if what was being described was something from the past or the current action. The constant struggle to figure it out in addition to the sluggish plot just turned me off completely. I read it through and stuck with it, but it was certainly a struggle!

The main character also got on my nerves. She was tolerable in the first book. I actually began to like her near the end but here all of the things I disliked take centre stage. My biggest issue? It’s how she views other girls. In the first book she kept on putting down women who dress a certain way or are large chested. To her they were all promiscuous. It continues in this book as well to the point where it made her sound jealous, hateful and petty. I hate books where girls slam other girls for how they dress and equate it with their intelligence or sexuality. Who cares how you dress? So, you date a lot of guys, so what? STOP JUDGING!

Will I read the third book? Nope! After this disaster I have no inclination to do so. There are so many other time traveling books to keep my occupied. I highly suggest the Ruby Red series by Kerstin Gier. Then there’s Passenger by Alexandra Bracken that’s been sitting on my shelf for ages. Any other YA time travel books to suggest?

Blog Tour: The Dragons of Nova (Review)

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31686500The Dragons of Nova by Elise Kova
Release date: July 11th, 2017
Publisher: Keymaster Press
Genre: Fiction, fantasy
Format: eBook

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Cvareh returns home to his sky world of Nova with the genius crafter Arianna as his temperamental guest. The mercurial inventor possesses all the Xin family needs to turn the tides of a centuries-old power struggle, but the secrets she harbors must be earned with trust – hard to come by for Ari, especially when it comes to Dragons. On Nova, Ari finds herself closer to exacting vengeance against the traitor who killed everything – and everyone – she once loved. But before Ari can complete her campaign of revenge, the Crimson Court exposes her shadowed past and reveals something even more dangerous sparking between her and Cvareh.

While Nova is embroiled in blood sport and political games, the rebels on Loom prepare for an all-out assault on their Dragon oppressors. Florence unexpectedly finds herself at the forefront of change, as her unique blend of skills – and quick-shooting accuracy – makes her a force to be reckoned with. For the future of her world, she vows vengeance against the Dragons.

Before the rebellion can rise, though, the Guilds must fall.

I totally loved The Alchemists of Loom, the first book in the series. Elise Kova is truly a master of writing fantasy. *throws up hands* I’m completely addicted to this series and can’t get enough of it. The Dragons of Nova topped its predecessor by a long shot…it was just so good! It was so perfectly imagined, much darker and more violent, all things that I adore in a fantasy book.

For those of you who haven’t read The Alchemists of Loom (which you should do ASAP), the book takes place in Loom, a world enslaved by a dragon race. The dragons have forced the people of Loom to work in specialized guilds for their benefit. Once in a guild there is no way out. It’s illegal to leave or to not be associated with the guild of your birth. Besides the Dragons (who aren’t actually like the mythical dragons we know and love), Loom is made up of the Fenthri, human-like people, and the Chimera, humans with dragon parts that can wield magic.

The Dragons of Nova primarily takes place on Nova where the reader is dropped into a world of political intrigue, betrayal and treason. The Dragons aren’t happy with their current leader and one house in particular is willing to take enormous risks to challenge the status quo. What I found very entertaining was how the POV of both sides was featured in the book. I found myself conflicted and unsure what would happen next. It definitely kept things exciting and interesting!

The world building was all kinds of amazing. It’s truly what Kova does best! The first book was very steampunk inspired with factories, flying ships, gunpowder and bombs, but Nova is all about the fantasy world. The colourful floating islands, complex religious system, Dragon houses and magic systems were perfectly described. My mind went wild trying to visualize each aspect of the Dragon world. The contrast between Loom and Nova was stark and it perfectly hit home the differences between the two races. Nova was a land of beauty; bright, rich and a abundant. The Dragons used their magic to enslave and exploit the human race on Loom, a dark and depressing world. The book explores prejudice and stereotypes. The characters are constantly judged or judging other due to their race, abilities or social status. Characters such as Florence constantly push back and work hard to prove that they are more than the limitations forced upon them. The Dragons of Nova challenges preconceptions, both of the characters and the reader. There were so many grey areas that I’m still not sure how I feel about certain characters and their actions.

I loved how women were front and centre in this book! Ari, my favourite character from the first novel, continued to be her badass self. She’s such a force of nature, so sure of herself, mentally and physically tough, but also willing to admit when she is wrong or beyond her limits. More is revealed about her past and while I still have tons of questions, I really do appreciate Kova’s slow leak of information. It builds tension and mystery, forcing the reader to continue reading to find out more. A character I wasn’t entirely sure of was Florence, but here she really comes into her own. She’s stepped out of Ari’s spotlight…she’s self confident, willing to take risks and a true leader. I really enjoyed reading the chapters from her perspective.

Unlike its predecessor, this book featured a lot more mature content. So, it’s not really young adult but I wouldn’t label it as new adult either. It’s kind of in-between due to its violent content and sex scenes. The sex scenes don’t dominate the storyline and aren’t explicit but they do mark a change from The Alchemists of Loom which didn’t feature any.

This book was just perfect in every way! I have no complaints, things that I would change. I love it to tiny pieces! I just wish that more people were talking about this series. It’s so underrated and that breaks my heart. The third book in the series, The Rebels of Gold, is scheduled for release at the end of the year. I can’t wait to have it in my hands. I just know this series is going to keep on getting better and better!


About the Author

8306309Elise Kova has always had a profound love of fantastical worlds. Somehow, she managed to focus on the real world long enough to graduate with a Master’s in Business Administration before crawling back under her favorite writing blanket to conceptualize her next magic system. She currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, and when she is not writing can be found playing video games, watching anime, or talking with readers on social media.

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Giveaway

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Waiting on Wednesday

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

31563982This week I’m looking forward to Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi. Ahhhh….the cover for this book is fantastic! Persian MC wearing a hijab on the cover? YES! YES! YES! I love everything about this book but will sadly have to wait until November 14th to get my hands on it. This is going to be a very long wait!

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Our story begins on a frosty night…

Laylee can barely remember the happier times before her beloved mother died. Before her father, driven by grief, lost his wits (and his way). Before she was left as the sole remaining mordeshoor in the village of Whichwood, destined to spend her days washing the bodies of the dead and preparing their souls for the afterlife. It’s become easy to forget and easier still to ignore the way her hands are stiffening and turning silver, just like her hair, and her own ever-increasing loneliness and fear.

But soon, a pair of familiar strangers appears, and Laylee’s world is turned upside down as she rediscovers color, magic, and the healing power of friendship.

Review: The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi 

29346880The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi 
Release date: March 28th, 2017
Publisher: Salaam Reads
Genre: Middle grade, fantasy
Format: eBook

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Goodreads | Amazon

A trio of friends from New York City find themselves trapped inside a mechanical board game that they must dismantle in order to save themselves and generations of other children in this action-packed debut that’s a steampunk Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair.

When twelve-year-old Farah and her two best friends get sucked into a mechanical board game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand—a puzzle game akin to a large Rubik’s cube—they know it’s up to them to defeat the game’s diabolical architect in order to save themselves and those who are trapped inside, including her baby brother Ahmed. But first they have to figure out how.

Under the tutelage of a lizard guide named Henrietta Peel and an aeronaut Vijay, the Farah and her friends battle camel spiders, red scorpions, grease monkeys, and sand cats as they prepare to face off with the maniacal Lord Amari, the man behind the machine. Can they defeat Amari at his own game…or will they, like the children who came before them, become cogs in the machine?

As soon as I heard about The Gauntlet I knew I had to read it. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen right away when it was released. Life got in the way but once I actually had time to sit down and read it I was blown away. I LOVED IT! It was the perfect mix of fantasy, action and suspense. I say this a lot about books that I’ve enjoyed, but it was seriously difficult to put down. I just kept on getting sucked into the adventure.

The main theme of the book is friendship and family. It’s what motivates the characters and drives the plot forward. The friendship between Essie, Farah, and Alex is fantastic and wonderfully written. They are each their own person, with their own quirks, strengths and weaknesses. I loved how they were strong on their own, but even more so when working together. And this book isn’t about physical strength, but about intelligence, loyalty and dedication. While the friendship between the three main characters was my favourite aspect of the book, I also found Farah’s relationship with her younger brother Ahmed to be very interesting and complex. It pulled Farah in so many directions and had her battling between her responsibility to protect him and her need to be on her own.

I’m really starting to enjoy reading middle grade novels. The short chapters made the story flow. While I like reading fast paced books, sometimes the action went by too quickly. This is really my only issue with the book. At times I wanted more…more information, a few more moments to get to know the fabulous supporting cast of characters, but the chapter would end and the topic would change.

The descriptions in this book, from the scenery to the food to the never ending amounts of sand, amazed me. I felt like I was there with Essie, Farah, and Alex, running from a sandstorm, dodging large camel spiders and drinking sweet tea in the souk. Talking about tea…the food descriptions made my stomach growl. Everything sounded so delicious! I’ve never read a book that’s made me feel so hungry before.

This is a must read for middle graders and adults! It’s such a fun book that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It has action, friendships, ghosts, talking lizards…what more could you want? Just go out, pick up a copy and READ IT!


About the Author

2105807769_thKaruna Riazi is a born and raised New Yorker, with a loving, large extended family and the rather trying experience of being the eldest sibling in her particular clan. Besides pursuing a BA in English literature from Hofstra University, she is an online diversity advocate, blogger, and publishing intern. Karuna is fond of tea, Korean dramas, writing about tough girls forging their own paths toward their destinies, and baking new delectable treats for friends and family to relish. Her dessert of choice is a lemon bar, which always promise a sharp zest of intrigue along with the reassuring sugar of a happy ending.

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