ARC Review: The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One by Amanda Lovelace

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.

36297088The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One by Amanda Lovelace

Release date: March 5th, 2019
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Genres: Poetry
Format: eBook

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The mermaid is known for her siren song, luring bedroom-eyed sailors to their demise. However, beneath these misguided myths are tales of escapism and healing, which Lovelace weaves throughout this empowering collection of poetry, taking you on a journey from the sea to the stars. They tried to silence her once and for all, but the mermaid’s voice returns in this one.

Once again I’ve been blown away by Amanda Lovelace’s poetry. I adored her past two collections and have recommended them to everyone I know. There’s just so much emotion and honesty in her poems that you can’t help but become fully invested in learning about the story behind them. This collection is a complete emotional rollercoaster. It’s divided into parts which explore topics such as abuse, self-harm, suicide and death, then moves onto the aftermath or fallout from the trauma of these and finally deals with healing. While all of her books so far have followed this format, I enjoyed how this time poems from other poets were also featured. Their words of healing, self-love and worth made Lovelace’s even more powerful. Plus, it introduced me to poets that I’ve never heard of before. I´m very much looking forward to picking up their books soon!

“she didn’t kiss frogs.
she kissed great white sharks.”

I cannot recommend this book (and the entire Women Are Some Kind of Magic series) enough. It’s an emotional journey that hits you right in the gut. You’ll cry, get angry, smile and probably have to put it down a few times but in the end, it leaves you with hope. I look forward to seeing what Lovelace will release next!

About the Author

15225448Growing up a word-devourer and avid fairy tale lover, it was only natural that Amanda Lovelace began writing books of her own and so she did. When she isn’t reading or writing, she can be found waiting for pumpkin spice coffee to come back into season and binge-watching Gilmore Girls. (before you ask: team Jess all the way.) The lifelong poetess and storyteller currently lives in New Jersey with her spouse, their bunnycat, and a combined book collection so large it will soon need its own home. She has her B.A. in English literature with a minor in sociology. Her first collection, The Princess Saves Herself in This One, won the Goodreads choice award for best poetry of 2016 and is a USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestseller.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Tumblr

Review: Highland Raven by Melanie Karsak

27506917Highland Raven by Melanie Karsak
Release date: July 1st, 2015
Publisher: Clockpunk Press
Genres: Historical fiction, fantasy
Format: eBook



Destined to become Queen of Scotland.
Bound by blood to the Celtic gods.

Scotland, 1026 — Gruoch, descendant of the line of MacAlpin, should have been born into a life of ease. But fate is fickle. Her father’s untimely death, rumored to have been plotted by King Malcolm, leaves her future uncertain and stained by the prophecy that she will avenge her family line.
Escaping to one of the last strongholds of the old Celtic gods, Gruoch becomes an adept in arcane craft. Her encounters with the otherworld, however, suggest that magic runs stronger in Scotland than she ever imagined. Haunted by dreams of a raven-haired man she’s never met, Gruoch soon feels her fate is not her own. She is duty-bound to wed a powerful lord, if not the Prince himself; however, she’s not sure she can stop her heart when she meets Banquo, a gallant highlander and druid.

*sigh* Where do I even start with this review? This book….this book was not what I was expecting. Sometimes that’s a good thing but not here. This was a complete and utter letdown. A disappointment.

I was super excited to read this book. I love historical fiction and Scotland…so what could go wrong? It’s advertised as being for fans out Outlander (which I am) and stories about witches, magic and folklore. Plus, it’s supposed to be the story of Lady Macbeth’s life before the events that take place in Shakespeare’s famous play. However….it just ended up being a huge mess of a book with plot holes, confusing storylines and unlikeable characters.

Basically, the book tells the story of Gruoch (Lady Macbeth) who comes from a long line of nobles with close ties to traditional Celtic gods. Before being married off she is sent to an all-female camp in the woods to learn about magic and the old ways of life. She learns that she’s actually the reincarnation of a famous female Scottish warrior and goddess. Oh, and she falls in love with Banquo (who later appears in the play Macbeth). There’s magic involved, past lives and a strange sequence in a magical world? I’m still not really sure what happened in those chapters. The storylines were all over the place and chapters began not always taking into consideration what happened in the previous one. I. Am. Just. So. Confused!

And the characters did nothing for me. I felt no connection at all. Gruoch was one of those oh so perfect characters. Everyone loved her. She had no faults whatsoever. Magic came easily to her. She was stronger than everyone around her, even as someone new to magic and the old ways. Plus, the author used so many names to refer to her that I had such a hard time keeping them straight. Sometimes she was Gruoch but also Corbie, Cerridwen and Boudicca. Like why?

The first part of the book also rubbed me the wrong way. Every other page featured some kind of reference to sexual assault or physical violence against women. This added nothing to the story and seemed to have only been included for shock value. Both of these topics are extremely serious and shouldn’t be used to as a random plot point.

The book ended on a cliffhanger but I just really can’t be bothered to find out what happens next. I most definitely won’t be picking up the sequel or any of other books in the series. However, I am open to recommendations for historical fiction based in Scotland. Any suggestions?

About the Author

6539577Melanie Karsak is the author of The Airship Racing Chronicles, The Harvesting Series, and The Celtic Blood Series. A steampunk connoisseur, zombie whisperer, and heir to the iron throne, the author currently lives in Florida with her husband and two children. She is an Instructor of English at Eastern Florida State College.

Website | TwitterGoodreads

ARC Review: The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

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.

37584991The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

Release date: October 30th, 2018
Publisher: Berkley Books
Genres: Contemporary, adult, romance
Format: eBook

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When someone asks you to spend your life with him, it shouldn’t come as a surprise–or happen in front of 45,000 people.

When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn’t the hard part–they’ve only been dating for five months, and he can’t even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans…

At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik’s rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He’s even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik’s social media blows up–in a bad way. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can’t be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes…

Contemporary romance is a genre that I’ve been exploring more of as of late and I’m so glad that I stumbled upon this book while browsing through NetGalley. This novel was exactly what I needed! It’s beyond adorable and so much fun from beginning to end. A perfect summer read for lounging by the pool and soaking up the sun (too bad that it’s scheduled for release in October…what a wasted opportunity!).

Before I start my review, I do want to say that I have never read the author’s debut, The Wedding Date. The Proposal features characters from this book but it’s not promoted as a sequel or companion novel. Not reading the first book didn’t impact my enjoyment of this one at all. So, you don’t have to worry at all, however, I now really want to read The Wedding Date. It sounds like another great romantic read!

The story begins with a woman having her boyfriend of only a few months propose to her at a Dodger’s game. She declines his proposal and is judged by thousands of people in the stadium. Right away I was behind her 100% because I would hate having such a public proposal. I cringe just thinking about it. I could really put myself in the main character’s shoes and I loved that about this book. Anyway, as the lead character is trying to deal with the awkward situation, she’s aided by a man who had watched the whole thing a few rows back. This intervention changes both of their lives and kicks off a series of events that made me smile uncontrollably, laugh out loud, sigh and shake my head in disagreement. I cheered the characters on and found myself mumbling about some of their choices…basically I was fully invested in this story and was so sad when it ended.

What I especially loved was how the romance was friends to lovers. The two characters had to navigate through a lot of personal issues to figure out how they could make what they had work. Things weren’t easy but that’s what makes for a good story! The book is also very diverse with a cast of characters that actually reflect the world that we live in. For example, there is a black main character and a Latino love interest. The writing was simple, but it flowed and I just kept on turning the pages. I read this book rather quickly and totally didn’t mean to…I just couldn’t help myself! 

So, if you are looking for a fun romance book to read or need a good pick-me-up then this book is totally for you! I know that I’ll be getting a copy of the author’s first novel very soon and will be keeping on eye on her future releases.

About the Author

16287225Jasmine Guillory is a graduate of Wellesley College and Stanford Law School. She is a Bay Area native who has towering stacks of books in her living room, a cake recipe for every occasion, and upwards of 50 lipsticks. As well as writing books, Jasmine sometimes writes about books, pop-culture, and food, some of her favorite things.

Website | TwitterGoodreads | Facebook | Instagram

ARC Review: Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria

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.

36430924Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria

Release date: October 9th, 2018
Publisher: Amulet
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Format: eBook


Goodreads | Amazon

In the city of Eldra, people are ruled by ancient prophecies. For centuries, the high council has stayed in power by virtue of the prophecies of the elder seers. After the last infallible prophecy came to pass, growing unrest led to murders and an eventual rebellion that raged for more than a decade.

In the present day, Cassa, the orphaned daughter of rebels, is determined to fight back against the high council, which governs Eldra from behind the walls of the citadel. Her only allies are no-nonsense Alys, easygoing Evander, and perpetually underestimated Newt, and Cassa struggles to come to terms with the legacy of rebellion her dead parents have left her — and the fear that she may be inadequate to shoulder the burden. But by the time Cassa and her friends uncover the mystery of the final infallible prophecy, it may be too late to save the city — or themselves.

I absolutely adored Destiny Soria’s debut Iron Cast and automatically requested Beneath the Citadel when I saw it posted on NetGalley. While it’s very different from her first novel, Beneath the Citadel was just as good or even better! The book is full of adventure, magic and political intrigue and I simply couldn’t get enough! For being almost 500 pages long, I read through it so quickly and was so sad when it ended.

The story begins with four of the characters being sentences to death for the involvement in a treasonous plot. It starts off with no explanation and throws the reader right into the world of the characters. This was exhilarating…I could feel the danger the characters faced, their urgency to find a way out and escape. Books that start this way are always my favourite. The author wasted no time in getting right into the story and the rest of the book was the same way. There was never a moment when the characters weren’t on their toes, not having to solve a puzzle or fight for their freedom. This made me want to keep reading and reading, even when it was 2am and I was extremely tired. I just had to keep on going to find out what would happen next!

I really feel that this novel and its themes can tie in to what is currently happening in the world today. It focuses on topics such as the abuse of power, corruption, censorship, violence and mass murder. The main characters are fighting against this but along the way also realize that sometimes people who want to help are actually only in for it to help themselves. Nothing in this book is black and white. The characters and the situations that they find themselves in are very complex and fluid.

Talking about characters, the novel is very much driven by hem, with six different points of view. This method of story telling could have become confusing, but the author has masterfully created six unique characters with very different voices. The book also features gay, bisexual, aromantic/asexual characters, as well as fat representation. Now I can’t comment on how well this representation was written, however, I did like how this didn’t become what the book revolved around. Instead, it was who the characters were and wasn’t add to create drama or shock value. I loved how everything was slowly explained through their narratives. The beginning of the story didn’t feature an information dump. Instead, the reader had to be patient as the secrets of the characters and the world were revealed.

Beneath the Citadel is a fantastic standalone that fans of YA fantasy and adventure should totally check out. Go add it to your TBR and don’t forget to pre-order it now! Also, in the meantime, you can listen to the book’s soundtrack recorded by the Paper Crane Society (which I think is such a cool idea).

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About the Author

14757755Destiny Soria writes Young Adult fiction. Her debut novel Iron Cast was published by Abrams/Amulet in Fall 2016. Her second novel Beneath the Citadel is slated for Fall 2018.

Destiny lives in Birmingham, AL, where she spends her time trying to come up with bios that make her sound kind of cool. She has yet to succeed.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads


Blog Tour: Keeper of the Bees by Meg Kassel (Review & Giveaway)

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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.

37638219Keeper of the Bees by Meg Kassel

Release date: September 4th, 2018
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Genre: Young adult, fantasy

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Keeper of the Bees is a tale of two teens who are both beautiful and beastly, and whose pasts are entangled in surprising and heartbreaking ways.

Dresden is cursed. His chest houses a hive of bees that he can’t stop from stinging people with psychosis-inducing venom. His face is a shifting montage of all the people who have died because of those stings. And he has been this way for centuries—since he was eighteen and magic flowed through his homeland, corrupting its people.

He follows harbingers of death, so at least his curse only affects those about to die anyway. But when he arrives in a Midwest town marked for death, he encounters Essie, a seventeen-year-old girl who suffers from debilitating delusions and hallucinations. His bees want to sting her on sight. But Essie doesn’t see a monster when she looks at Dresden.

Essie is fascinated and delighted by his changing features. Risking his own life, he holds back his bees and spares her. What starts out as a simple act of mercy ends up unraveling Dresden’s solitary life and Essie’s tormented one. Their impossible romance might even be powerful enough to unravel a centuries-old curse.

I just finished reading Black Bird of the Gallows (a book that I thoroughly enjoyed) and was super excited to pick this novel up. Now, Keeper of the Bees is technically a companion novel to Meg Kassel’s debut, but can be read as a standalone. So, if you haven’t read Black Bird of the Gallows (which you really should) don’t worry. You can still completely enjoy everything about this book. 🙂

Before I start my review, I just want to say that originally I turned my nose up at Black Bird of the Gallows. I unfairly dismissed it as being too Twilight sounding and turned down a chance to review it when it was released last year. When I received the blog tour sign-up for Keeper of the Bees I was really excited because of the cover and synopsis. Then I made the connection and decided to give it a chance. I’m just really, really glad that I did. I’ve totally been missing out! Anyway…time for the actual review.

Things I Liked:

  • The book was very easy to read through and I was completely engaged from the first page until the very end. It really didn’t feel like I read 400 pages. I’ve lately been struggling with books longer than 300 pages. Why? I have no idea but I’ve been losing interest midway through and with this story that didn’t happen. I actually read it within a couple of day it was that good!
  • The story is told through multiple points of view. Sometimes this can get a bit confusing because the characters tend to sound too similar. However, I really enjoyed reading the two POVs. Both were totally unique and I never found myself wanting to skip over a certain chapter because it revolved around a particular character.
  • Adding on to the point above, I loved the two main characters! Essie was absolutely wonderful. Throughout the story she suffered from hallucinations and I liked how the author invited the reader into her head during these periods where she wasn’t fully in control. I felt like I really got to know Essie and sympathize with her struggles. Dresden was very interesting to read about because of his “curse”. My heart really hurt for him.
  • I liked the Beauty and the Beast vibes that the story gives off. The lesson or main idea is that we all have our issues or problems, things that we struggle with. We shouldn’t judge others based on what we initially see because underneath there is great beauty. The romance between Essie and Dresden really went up against the odds and I cheered them on the entire time. You can’t help but rally behind them and become invested in their fight to be together and defeat their own personal demons.
  • If you have read Black Bird of the Gallows, then you already know a lot about the harbingers of death. This book immerses the reader into the world of the beekeepers and further adds to the mythology previously introduced. I liked getting to see the other side of things and to further understand how things work in Kassel’s super unique world.

Things I Disliked:

  •  The romance was a bit too insta-love for me. Things moved really fast! I kind of rolled my eyes a few times, but at least there weren’t any love triangles or squares. That would have been too much for me! I prefer slow burning romances that take time to develop.

So, if you were a fan of Black Bird of the Gallows or like paranormal romances than this book is totally for you! It’s very heartwarming, easy to read and very additive. I’m eagerly looking forward to Kassel’s next release.

About the Author

8353652Meg Kassel is an author of paranormal and speculative books for young adults. A New Jersey native, Meg graduated from Parson’s School of Design and worked as a graphic designer before embracing her true passion, writing. She now lives in a log house in the Maine woods with her family, and is busy at work on her next novel. A fan of ’80s cartoons, original Netflix series, daydreaming, and ancient mythology, Meg has always been fascinated and inspired by the fantastic, the creepy, and the futuristic. When she’s not writing, Meg is reading, hanging out with her husband and daughter, hiding her peanut butter cups, or walking her rescue mutt, Luna. She is a two-time finalist and the 2016 YA winner of the RWA Golden Heart© contest. Her debut novel, Black Bird of the Gallows, was released in 2017.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


Click the link to enter an international rafflecopter giveaway. You could win ____________. Good luck! 🙂

The Tour

ih9zuluDon’t forget to check out the rest of today’s stops organized by YA Bound Book Tours.

See the rest of stops on the Keeper of the Bees blog tour here.

Blog Tour: Jaclyn and the Beanstalk by Mary Ting (Review & Giveaway)

JaclynAndtheBeanstalkTourBannerI received this book for free from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

39353711Jaclyn and the Beanstalk by Mary Ting

Release date: September 4th, 2018
Publisher: Vesuvian Books
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Format: eBook

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What fate awaits a girl who hears monsters at night…

Sixteen-year-old Jaclyn looks up to her father. An honest man who once fought for the king, he now teaches Jaclyn how to use her wits—and her sword.

But he has a secret. And his secret may have a connection to the one thing Jaclyn is hiding from him.

Upon hearing “monsters” are terrorizing the small villages around Black Mountain, Jaclyn’s father and his friends head out to hunt them … but they don’t return.

Armed only with her sword and three magic beans—a gift from a mysterious old woman—Jaclyn sets out for Black Mountain to save her father.

On her climb, one bean drops and grows into a beanstalk, catching her when she falls.

She isn’t the only one that takes the ride. Jack, her childhood friend and secret crush, is following her.

Jaclyn and Jack will have to work together to save not only their fathers, but the townspeople the beasts plan to lay waste to before it’s too late.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with Jaclyn and the Beanstalk, but I was completely taken by surprise. I totally adored this very fun and unique reimagining of Jack and the Beanstalk! Before I start my review, I do want to say that I can’t believe I actually debated signing up for the blog tour. I saw the graphics and the book title and thought it looked interesting. I thought about signing up, then said no but for some reason went back to it at the last minute. I can’t explain why but I’m so glad that I did!

Things That I Liked:

  • The book doesn’t take its time in introducing the reader to the story. Pages upon pages aren’t wasted with information dumping that slow down the story. Instead, the author throws the reader into the action right away. I love when this happens in books because I find it to exhilarating and fun. It also leaves a bit of mystery, a reason to keep on reading to find out more.
  • There’s so much action and adventure in this story that you seriously won’t want to stop reading. I honestly devoured it within a couple of hours. While reading you can’t help but be caught up in the journey, the battles against monsters and demons and the cute romance that develops.
  • Talking about the romance, it wasn’t what the book was mainly about. Jaclyn has a mission and doesn’t waver from it. The romance never took away from her determined personality or dominated what was happening. Instead, it burned in the background and helped push her character development forward. It was seriously well written.
  • I really liked how the author switched things up by changing the gender of the story’s main character. Instead of Jack we have Jaclyn, a character that you can’t help but cheer on. She’s like a firecracker…full of energy, intelligent and willing to take chances. She’s by no means perfect and goes through a multitude of situations that help her learn and grow.
  • The book is a standalone and it was honestly refreshing to have the story wrapped up at the very end. That said, there’s still enough room for the author to continue the story if she wanted. I would totally be up for more adventures with Jaclyn!

Things That I Disliked:

  • There were a lot of religious aspects to the book that I just wasn’t used to reading about. I usually avoid books that are highly influenced by religious messages/books because I think that they are too preachy. This book had its moments but overall it didn’t come across as overbearing. Of course, this little complaint is completely personal and some people might not even realize that there are religious elements at play or they may not even care. It’s really up to each individual person and their preferences.

How have I not heard of Mary Ting before? She has a bunch of books listed on Goodreads that I look forward to reading in the near future. I highly recommend this book to fans of fairytale retellings/reimaginings. It was so much fun to read and totally addictive.

About the Author

4388953Mary Ting resides in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Writing her first novel, Crossroads Saga, happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she once had as a young girl. When she started reading new adult novels, she fell in love with the genre. It was the reason she had to write one (Something Great). She tours with Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children’s chapter book No Bullies Allowed.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


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Blog Tour: Reign of Mist by Helen Scheuerer (Review & Giveaway)

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Book cover (Reign of Mist).jpgReign of Mist by Helen Scheuerer
Release date: September 13th, 2018
Publisher: Talem Press
Genres: Young adult, fantasy

Goodreads | Amazon

The realm’s darkest secret is out.

The cruelty of the capital and the power-hungry King Arden have scattered Bleak and her companions across the continents.

On the run in a foreign land, Bleak finds herself tied to some unexpected strangers. When the answers she yearns for are finally within reach, she must face the hard truths of her past, and take her fate into her own hands before it’s too late.

Meanwhile, secrets and magic unravel as a dark power corrupts the realm. Bleak’s friends are forced to decide where their loyalties lie, and who, if anyone, they can trust.

But one thing is certain: war is coming, and they must all be ready when it does.

My Review:

*** Read my review for Heart of Mist, the first book in the series, here.

I’m so happy that I stumbled upon a Twitter post for this book’s blog tour. I hadn’t heard of the series before and it completely blows my mind because I love all things fantasy. And…this series is fantasy done beautifully right!

  • The cover! Just look at how gorgeous and yet simplistic it is. The gold design really pops when placed on top of the purple background. Ahhh…I LOVE IT!
  • Like its predecessor, the story is very female focused. Women take centre stage and hold many different roles. They are leaders, warriors, strong, weak, self-assured, on personal journeys of discovery, etc. I enjoyed how the female characters were not pigeonholed into one stereotype. For instance, to be a strong character women have to be portrayed as a warrior, wielding swords and demonstrating physical strength.
  • I enjoyed reading about Bleak’s journey to fight her demons and become a better version of herself. In the first book she did everything to sabotage her own progress. She was constantly looking for alcohol to feed her addiction and in this book she’s making a conscious effort to fight it. I love it when you can cheer a character on. She’s not perfect and that makes her all the more real.
  • I gained a new appreciation for some of the characters that I didn’t necessarily enjoy in the first book. The story is told through multiple points of view which provide the reader with all sides of the story. Some characters didn’t feel necessary in the first book. However, here every character matters. I won’t give anything away, but there were totally some twists and turns with characters that I didn’t see coming. I had so much fun flipping through the pages and seeing what would happen next.
  • The story was beautifully written. The author writes in a way that really immerses the reader in the world and the story of the characters. I could easily imagine what each character looked like, how they acted and the environment around them. What amazed me was how this was all done without being too wordy or descriptive.

So…this is most definitely a book (and series) that you totally NEED to read. I can’t wait to read the next book and find out what happens next. I’m so addicted to everything about this series: the writing, the magic, the characters…I could go on and on. But don’t just take my word for it. If you haven’t read the first book DO IT NOW! You won’t be able to put it down and will need to read Reign of Mist right away.

** Also, as a side note, you can download six free prequels to Heart of Mist and Reign of Mist on the author’s website.

Join the Twitter Chat:

Invite (Reign of Mist)

About the Author:

Author photo (Helen) coloredHelen Scheuerer is a YA fantasy author from Sydney, Australia. Heart of Mist is the first book in her high fantasy trilogy, The Oremere Chronicles. It explores themes of identity, belonging, loyalty, addiction, loss, and responsibility.

Helen is also the Founding Editor of Writer’s Edit (, an online literary magazine and learning platform for emerging writers. It’s now one of the largest writers’ platforms in the world.

Helen’s love of writing and books led her to pursue a Bachelor of Creative Arts, majoring in Creative Writing at the University of Wollongong and a Masters of Publishing at the University of Sydney.

Helen is now a full-time author living by the beach.

Website | GoodreadsTwitter | Facebook | Instagram

The Tour:

Tour Schedule (Reign of Mist)-3


Click the link to enter a rafflecopter giveaway. You could win a $20 Amazon gift voucher, all the Heart of Mist bonus prequels and a high-res printable map. This giveaway is open to everyone. Good luck!

Blog Tour: Mirage by Somaiya Daud (Review)

MirageI 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.

32768520Mirage by Somaiya Daud

Release date: August 28th, 2018
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Genre: Young adult, science fiction

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In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

This. Book. Completely. Utterly. Totally. Destroyed me and I loved every single second of it. Mirage is a MUST read and my favourite book so far this year! I first became interested in reading it after it appeared everywhere on Twitter. So many bloggers were raving about it. I loved the cover and synopsis, but to be completely honest was a bit skeptical. I’ve been burnt multiple times by books that have been overly hyped on Twitter. However, this wasn’t the case with Mirage. This book is the real deal and I can’t stop recommending it to people. YOU REALLY NEED TO READ IT!

The story focuses on a teenaged girl named Amani. She begins the story living on a small forgotten about moon with her family. On her eigthteeth birthday she is kidnapped by imperial droids and taken to the residence of the Vathek royal family. Why? Because Amani looks very similar to the heartless and cruel Princess Maram. The royal family are constantly under threat from rebel groups who want to stop the Vathek’s galactic expansion and the obliteration of cultures, religions and unique ways of life that accompanies a take over. So, since Princess Maram fears for her life, she forces Amani to become her body double or face execution.

The main themes of the novel were cultural identity, family and suppression. From the moment Amani was taken by the Vathek she was constantly challenged. They wanted to strip her of her cultural identity, which is what shaped her into the person that was she. They forced her to leave behind everything she knew and become someone else. She had to learn their mannerisms, etiquette and traditions in order to pretend to be Princess Maram. Failure to do so would result in physical and verbal abuse.

The world building in Mirage was very well done. The blending of science fiction (droids, space travel and advanced technology) with Moroccan culture and traditions made it very unique. I appreciated how the author didn’t dump information on the reader. Aspects of the world, its complex cultures, traditions, peoples, etc. was revealed as time went on. It actually made me feel like Amani…I was trying to learn and navigate a world I knew nothing about. The slow reveal of information made me want to read on and on. For some people this may be a turn-off, but I love it when books do this. Also, the way the author writes was so magical. I could perfectly imagine what was described, how a character was feeling, etc.

The romance was a a tiny bit rushed at the beginning. Amani and Princess Maram’s fiancé, Idris, kind of fell for each other to quickly and easily. However, I can completely forgive it because their relationship was so fascinating and dangerous. Let me just say that I totally adored Idris. Besides being a character that you can’t help but fall in love with, my heart hurt for him and his backstory. It was like he felt the weight of the world on his shoulders and the pain of thousands of people. Him and Amani had so much in common and I couldn’t help but route for them as I read through the story. They are now one of my favourite book couples!

This is seriously one of the best releases of 2018! I’m so happy that I received an early copy, but also so sad because now I’ll have to wait even longer for the sequel. I WANT MORE! Anyway, I can’t recommend this wonderful book enough. GO GET YOUR COPY RIGHT NOW!! I can guarantee you’ll be just as addicted as I was. ❤

About the Author

15179415Somaiya Daud was born in a Midwestern city, and spent a large part of her childhood and adolescence moving around. Like most writers, she started when she was young and never really stopped. Her love of all things books propelled her to get a degree in English literature (specializing in the medieval and early modern), and while she worked on her Master’s degree she doubled as a bookseller at Politics and Prose in their children’s department. Determined to remain in school for as long as possible, she packed her bags in 2014 and moved the west coast to pursue a doctoral degree in English literature. Now she’s preparing to write a dissertation on Victorians, rocks, race, and the environment. Mirage is her debut.

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The Tour

Check out the other posts from today by clicking on the blog links below. Also, thank you to Aimee, Always for organizing the tour!

Review: You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

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.

33155334You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

Release date: September 12th, 2017
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Genre: Young adult, contemporary, historical fiction
Format: eBook


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Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story. You Bring the Distant Near explores sisterhood, first loves, friendship, and the inheritance of culture–for better or worse. Ranee, worried that her children are losing their Indian culture; Sonia, wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair; Tara, seeking the limelight to hide her true self; Shanti, desperately trying to make peace in the family; Anna, fighting to preserve her Bengali identity–award-winning author Mitali Perkins weaves together a sweeping story of five women at once intimately relatable and yet entirely new.

I can’t believe that I downloaded this book from NetGalley and then completely forgot about it. It was one of those books that I heard so many positive things about and couldn’t wait to read. What happened…I have no idea! I’m just so happy that I rediscovered it on my iPad because this book was absolutely beautiful!

The story focuses on the lives of five women from the Das family. It begins in the 1960s and works its way to the modern day. The book is very character driven and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about each of the characters. They were all so different from each other with their own unique voices, perspectives, dreams and ways of approaching the world around them. They all felt so real and I could help but be drawn into their lives. None of the characters were perfect, instead they were flawed, made mistakes and dealt with the consequences. It truly felt like I knew them and that takes some masterful writing!

Talking about the writing, it was vivid and emotional. I particularly enjoyed how Bengali culture was woven into the story. I am not very familiar with the culture, but that didn’t matter to my understanding or enjoyment. Instead, the author explains key words or concepts without slowing down or taking away from the story. Culture is one of the central themes of the story and I liked how each character approached it in a different way. Basically, there is no right or wrong way to live and embrace your culture. It’s unique to each person and changes based on their beliefs and life experiences.

The only issue I had with the book was its pacing. It took me quite sometime to read through it. This is mostly because there isn’t a whole lot of action. It is very much a book that looks into the inner thoughts of a character. I often read a section, put it down and then came back to it. It’s definitely not a page turner or a book that will keep you up all night, but that by no means took away from how much I liked it. It’s not advertised or meant to be an action adventure novel.

Overall, I highly recommend this novel to people looking for an own voices diverse read. I haven’t read any of the author’s other novels, but will for sure check them out in the near future. Her way of writing is magical and if they are anything like this gem I’m in for a real treat!

About the Author

21129Mitali Perkins has written several novels for young readers, including You Bring the Distant Near (nominated for the National Book Award), Rickshaw Girl (a NYPL best 100 Book for children in the past 100 years), Bamboo People (an ALA Top 10 YA novel), and Tiger Boy, which won the South Asia Book Award for Younger Readers. She currently writes and resides in San Francisco.

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Review: Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel

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.

33509076Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel

Release date: September 5th, 2017
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, romance

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A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.

Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.

What’s more, she knows something most don’t. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel is a perfect example of why I should never judge a book by its synopsis. When this book was first released I was offered a chance to read it and I passed. It really didn’t sound like something that I would want to read. However, when I received a chance to join the blog tour for its companion novel, Keeper of the Bees, I decided to give this novel a chance and I’m so happy that I did! I ended up becoming completely addicted to it…I just couldn’t stop reading! So, if you haven’t given Black Bird of the Gallows a read, I highly recommend that you do as soon as possible!

The story focuses on Angie Dovage, a teenage girl who has had a pretty rough life. Her mother is a drug addict and dragged poor Angie from one drug den or random house to another. Now, she’s living with her father and completely fascinated with the new next door neighbours. She becomes close friends with their son Reece, however, things aren’t as they initially seem. Reece has many secrets which could completely destroy everything Angie loves.

I really enjoyed how the book had a very dark and eerie feel to it. The world created by Kassel was interesting and the mystery established at the beginning of the story continues throughout. You just never really know what will happen next. The mythology was one of those mysterious areas that I though was really well written. It was unique and revealed in a manner that didn’t feel like info dumping. Plus, I finished the book with a sense of really knowing and understanding the world the characters resided in. Sometimes that’s a major issue with fantasy worlds…things are too complicated or rushed and a proper explanation is sacrificed for pushing the plot forward. I’m so glad that that wasn’t the case with this book!

I really appreciated how the book avoided an insta-romance between Angie and Reece. Everything started out slow with the two characters building a believable friendship. I did take issue with how the progression of the relationship was a bit rushed in the middle, but overall I really liked these two characters together. There was a lot of tension between them and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it!

I highly recommend this book to fans of paranormal romance, dark stories and mysteries. I’m very much looking forward to picking up the book’s companion novel very soon!

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About the Author

8353652Meg Kassel is an author of paranormal and speculative books for young adults. A New Jersey native, Meg graduated from Parson’s School of Design and worked as a graphic designer before embracing her true passion, writing. She now lives in a log house in the Maine woods with her family, and is busy at work on her next novel. A fan of ’80s cartoons, original Netflix series, daydreaming, and ancient mythology, Meg has always been fascinated and inspired by the fantastic, the creepy, and the futuristic. When she’s not writing, Meg is reading, hanging out with her husband and daughter, hiding her peanut butter cups, or walking her rescue mutt, Luna. She is a two-time finalist and the 2016 YA winner of the RWA Golden Heart© contest. Her debut novel, Black Bird of the Gallows, was released in 2017.

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