Tag: Retellings (page 1 of 3)

BOOK REVIEW: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

BOOK REVIEW: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra ChristoTo Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

Soon there’s sun in the distance, or perhaps even moonlight. Everything is muted and as Lira swoops her blade down on mine once more, I let it all fall away. My mission, my kingdom. The world. They exist somewhere other than in this moment, and now there is only this. Me, my ship, and a girl with oceans in her eyes.

The sea calls, sun shimmering on its tranquil surface. Cylinders of light bouncing over every rip and tear of the water’s veneer. Eyes clash, a heroic act bends and twists fate into a finite moment. Hearts drum to the beat of the ocean’s waves, as rapid and tremulous as any tentative alliance formed, swept away with the thought of a shared loneliness. Two aching souls. Like calls to like. And the inevitable betrayal…hardly a betrayal at all, for how can it be a betrayal when it was right in front of your face the whole time? Two monsters in their respective worlds…two monsters who share the same dream.

His hand moves from beside mine, and I feel a sudden absence. And then it’s on my cheek, cupping my face, thumb stroking my lip. It feels like the worst thing I’ve ever done and the best thing I could ever do and how strange that the two are suddenly the same.

Guys. I adored this book. And the writing-it was seriously out of this world. Savage. Unrelenting-the most vicious kind of poetry. If I could write, and, believe me, the last few books I’ve read have made me pine for it so, this is exactly how I’d want to write.

In Midas, the ocean glitters gold. At least, that’s the illusion. Really it’s as blue as any sea, but the light does things. Unexplainable things. The light can lie.

I can’t explain what makes a book tick for me (I lie, I could go on for days)-sometimes it’s a tried and true pattern. Sometimes it’s a random pick that is in a totally different style genre than I’m used to. And sometimes, sometimes they just click . And that’s what happened here.

As I stare at her, I see nothing of the wraith-like girl I pulled from the ocean. Whatever spell had threatened to transfix me when I saved her is broken now, and I can see quite clearly that she’s no helpless damsel. She’s something more, and it makes me too curious for my own good.

I picked this story up because of not only it’s content, but because of the rave reviews and incessant fangirling that came along with my friends devoted love and support. But, like with many things, I get nervous-it’s hard to fall in with the hordes of fans that hype up a new release (no matter how much you had previously wanted to read it). You feel a pressure to love it that much, to not feel broken because you didn’t connect like the rest of the world.

Staying still, in one place and one moment, will make me miserable. In my heart, I’m as wild as the ocean that raised me.

And, I’ll admit, I did feel the pressure even though I waited a month before I tried it. For one, it was just SO dark at first. I don’t know what I expected, but it certainly wasn’t what I read, in the beginning. Flesh and blood and death and just…evil. Pure evil. It was as intense as it was shocking, and after coming off of so many wins in the lighter faring genres (two contemporary, one lighter fantasy), this was a cold shock to my system.

I’m not a good man. I don’t think I’ve been one for a long time.

I felt the pure, murky vileness seep from every inky page the sea queen graced, cutting off my ability to apprehend disbelief that this was going to be as light as I suppose I anticipated. The ruthlessness of Lira, our MC, was no joke either, making my eyebrows furrow and my mouth make this weird shape that I’m sure had me looking like a frowny, gapey fish (or slack-jawed mermaid, if we’re to stick with them our story’s theme, here). I didn’t know if my fragile little heart (HA) could handle the intensity with which each of our characters handled their prey. Turns out?
I’m not so nice after all
.

I kid…I’m never nice. When it comes to my books, the more pain, the merrier. I’m sorry, but there’s just something so appealing about a broken, hero/heroine in need of saving, amirite??? But here…I don’t know what happened. I guess going in thinking ‘la la la, little mermaid, la la’ was my largest issue-unprepared doesn’t begin to express the depth with which I felt betrayed by my inner evil self. Trust me, it won’t happen again-my guard won’t be let down so easily next time.

The Sea Queen curves downward, her tentacles brushing my hand, lips like broken glass on my ear. “Stupid girl,” she whispers, and then—as though it’s the worst thing she could utter—“ stupid human girl.”

But then, that ruins all the best surprises, doesn’t it? Which leads me here: Lira and Elian are my life. There. I said it. The slow burn that erupted like wild fire in my system was a result of wicked awesome story-telling unparalleled by many when trying to conquer a re-telling of any form. And conquer she did. I’ve never read such a vivid, beautiful, amazing retelling ever. The way she twisted and weaved the story so that it was more bloodthirsty, more dreadful, more hopeful, whimsical, daring-it blew my mind.

How strange that instead of taking his heart, I’m hoping he takes mine.

I wasn’t trying to compare because, well, come on. Disney does many things well, but slow burn and destruction and peril and general mayhem aren’t at the helm of their money boats-they are, but in a Disney way. But, you could still see some things that nodded to my darling Arielle, my beloved Ursula, my loving prince Eric, and even her two conniving eels. Now-tell me-how could you NOT be interested?

“Wants to be free,” her companion says.
“Free from the queen.”
“Free her heart.”
“Take a heart.”
“Take the queen’s.”

But they were so subtle. And it was little things here and there, but they were so wonderful. I’d be dying a little, you know, dying in the best, bookish obsessed way possible, and then I’d be like-OMG! That’s kind of like what happened there, and isn’t she just so clever and cunning? (One scene comes to mind near the end where (view spoiler)

just thinking of these vivid details makes my heart erupt in the best, most offbeat way-seriously. And, honestly, it made me love her all the more.

The whites of the clouds dotted with bronze as leftover shimmers from Midas float across my eyes. But soon the world comes bursting back, vivid and unyielding. The coral of the fish and the bluebell sky.

But onto the characters and why they made my heart stutter in impossible-and not so impossible-ways. Tell me. Tell me how you make my heart go crazy when all Elian has to do is snark at our evil princess…and her snark right back. And it makes me giggle and squee and do ridiculous, girly things? How can an author do this? Because they’re enemies-how can we find this endearing? Why does bickering and banter and, quite frankly, threatening bodily harm make our hearts beat so? (half this paragraph was in question form, ummmm…)

“What about your own language?” he asks.
“It’s better.”
“How?”
“It’s more suited to me.”
“I dread to think what that means.”

I’ll tell you why-because we’re fickle fickle girls (and guys, whoever) and we like bad bad things lol. We THRIVE on the hate to love trope. We CHERISH the moments that pile up and begin to forge a bond between our two antagonistic MC’s. We are loathe to admit we’re easy…but tell me, who doesn’t love a prince and princess who hate each other, but end up falling for one another, inevitably, anyway?

We’re like squirrels, gathering up all these little nuts (acorns?? I don’t know), gathering and bunching and storing away any little heated look, caress, shared moment, heroic act, proof of loyalty that’s slowly beginning to build-and EXPLODE when it all comes crashing down, when the worlds collide, their hearts open up…only to be crushed under the heavy boot of deception and lies. Necessary lies, mind you, but lies all the same. We’re suckers for it-and it’s the BEST feeling.

“Gods.” Kye recoils as I slash open Lira’s dress. “Is she going to live?”
“Do you care?” I snap back. It isn’t his fault, but yelling at Kye feels a little like yelling at myself, and I need to be yelled at right now. Because this is on me. If Lira dies, then it’s on me.
I can’t believe you came back for me.
But I left her first.

Elian was…he was everything I look for in my book men. A prince born to be a king, but loyal only to the water he loves-his only love. Suffocating under the weight of his duty, the need to fulfill what can’t be avoided-to become the reluctant king of Midas. He broke my heart with how adventurous he was. A true captain in every sense of the word, a pirate straight down to his bones, with a crew who would do anything to save him or sail by his side. His courageousness bonds his crew together, making them more than deckhands-they’re his friends. Oh, and did I mention….he’s the famous prince siren killer?

People know me as the siren hunter, and those at court utter those words with amusement and fondness: Oh, Prince Elian, trying to save us all. If they understood what it took, the awful and sickening screams sirens made. If they saw the corpses of the women on my deck before they dissolved to sea foam, then my people wouldn’t look upon me so fondly. I would no longer be a prince to them, and as much as I might desire such things, I know better.

And Lira-the princess of the sirens in her kingdom. Second only to the Sea Queen, Lira takes the heart of a prince every year on her birthday and-do you see where this is going here? Do I really need to go further?

Love is a word we scarcely hear in the ocean. It exists only in my song and on the lips of the princes I’ve killed. And I have never heard it from my mother’s mouth. I’m not even sure what it really means. To me, it has always been just a word that humans treasure for reasons I can’t comprehend.

When she and Elian meet, sparks fly-but where he’s flint, she’s tinder, and she wants to see him dead and heartless beneath her. But that’s hard to do when-well, I’ll not say. I didn’t know this happened and I loved everything unraveling before my eyes as a surprise. The less you know, the better.

These two together-amazing. He doesn’t trust her and she wants to be a part of his crew for the mission that is a conflict of interest for them both. Their banter, while sharp-tongued at first, becomes an easy rapport, a tentative bond that helps them further their mission. His alertness disguised as aloofness made me a loyal fan -I loved his personality and the devotion he put forth to save his kingdom and all princes alike. He is burdened by duty, but would do anything and sacrifice anything to save those around him. He is selfless in every sense of the word, and I adore him so much it hurts. Even Lira, who he almost doesn’t like, he defends and honors and tries to keep alive. He is a true hero, and I just have to stop or I could go on about him forever (is anyone keeping track of my book boyfriends in 2018?? The scale…it’s tipping over…).

And Lira, darling Lira-as vicious as she is beautiful. Merciless in her mission to change her kingdoms ways, to kill her mother…and to take the prince’s heart. She’s the Princes’ Bane, you see, the very creature that Elian seeks most in the world, aside from the queen herself, and she’s right under his nose. But who is the hunter…and who is the prey??

Technically, I’m a murderer, but I like to think that’s one of my better qualities.

Lira, though, I could hang with this girl. She was something to behold. Her fury, her ruthlessness, her unrelenting need for vengeance (Elian, too, seeks vengeance for his friend, but, as you can see, this is just another bond they could form) making her almost as bloodthirsty as her mother-but not quite.

I loved her in ways I can’t explain, because she is such a grey area character, and while I couldn’t root her on…I sympathized with her and did want her to win-friendship. Devotion. Loyalty from her new friends crew members on the Saad. And the love she has for her cousin, and her cousin for her, it melted my heart. Two equally strong characters, lonely in ways they can’t express, because their lives almost seem full-but full doesn’t equal fulfilled.

And, PS, this song, every time I hear it…I think of these two (NOT the trust fund baby, met at a party, etc, but YOU GET IT (maybe)).

**I like that you’re broken
Broken like me
Maybe that makes me a fool
I like that you’re lonely
Lonely like me
I could be lonely with you

There’s something tragic, but almost pure
Think I could love you, but I’m not sure
There’s something wholesome, there’s something sweet
Tucked in your eyes that I’d love to meet
***

I don’t know. I just love that it reminds me of this book! (Also, upon looking at the lyrics, I heard the song wrong-it does NOT say, These ARE my people, these are my friends blah blah, but says These AREN’T (OOPS I NEVER HEAR SONGS RIGHT) but I’ll choose to still hear it my way since he adores his crew 😉 )

The rapport of the crew melted my heart in ways I haven’t seen in a long time-in fact, this story reminded me of a sea version of Six of Crows MANY TIMES OVER, even if I’m way out on a limb here. The funny banter of the crew, the jibes, the skill, the friendship-it was a warm feeling-and I’ll welcome it into my soul time and again, for this is surely a forever favorite.

“How did you get the map?” she asks.
“My charm.”
“No, really.”
“I’m really very charming,” I say. “I even roped this lot into sacrificing their lives for me.”
“Didn’t do it for you.” Madrid doesn’t look up from her deck. “Did it for the target practice.”
“I did it for the hijinks of near-death experiences,” Kye says.
“I did it for more fish suppers.” Torik stretches his arms out in a yawn. “God knows we don’t have enough fish every other day of the year.”
I turn to Lira. “See?”

A rush of adrenaline to my system, the end cemented my love further (everyone knows I’m a peril junkie) to the point of obsession, and I’m proud to say it lived up to my [not always but mostly always] haughty standards. I don’t think TKAK needs my endorsement (I mean, check out the ratings), nor does Alexandra Christo, but she has a forever fan and loyal minion here. Consider me part of your crew, Ms. (Mrs?) Christo-I’d follow you into any world (even if it’s in siren, sea queen, and mermen infested waters, but yikes, please don’t (or do, whatever-more Elian!)) and to the ends of the earth on the Saad-I’m a fool for your writing…I’m sure I’d devour it no matter the content, and that’s the most flattering endorsement I can bestow.

BOOK REVIEW: Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne

BOOK REVIEW: Brightly Burning by Alexa DonneBrightly Burning by Alexa Donne
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Stella Ainsley wants just one thing: to go somewhere—anywhere—else. Her home is a floundering spaceship that offers few prospects, having been orbiting an ice-encased Earth for two hundred years. When a private ship hires her as a governess, Stella jumps at the chance. The captain of the Rochester, nineteen-year-old Hugo Fairfax, is notorious throughout the fleet for being a moody recluse and a drunk. But with Stella he’s kind.

But the Rochester harbors secrets: Stella is certain someone is trying to kill Hugo, and the more she discovers, the more questions she has about his role in a conspiracy threatening the fleet.

**Many thanks to HMH Books for Young Readers for sending me an ARC. This in no way influenced my review-my opinions are my own**

This is one of those times where I emailed the publisher and didn’t expect any response-and I didn’t get one. Oh well, right? But then, one night when I had been having a bad day, I came home to the most exciting and unexpected package-this beauty of an arc. I knew I had to read it right away-and I’m so glad I did.

I just loved the two main characters so much. Especially, as many will probably agree, the captain. Hugo was absolutely breathtakingly adorable. Uncertain of himself, lonely, determined not to make the wrong decisions…but with a heart of gold and a quirky personality.

When Stella gets the job on his ship, he immediately has a connection to her. They begin to get closer, to hang out at their standing ‘reading appointments’ every night, and begin to form a bond that starts to ease the ache that being the captain of a ship brings.

I’ll admit he broke my heart quite a few times. You could tell when they were hanging out he was desperate for someone he could talk to, relate to, be friends with…she would try to read and he’d continue talking to her and..agh those were just my favorite parts. Adorable.

And I enjoyed the turmoil that extra guests on the ship brought-I LIKE jealousy. It’s just the BEST relationship jump starter [when it comes to books]. Come on now, I’m not THAT crazy-it may work in real life, but I certainly don’t go looking for it nor do I condone it.

But here I am…just searching for more to say past that. This book was pleasant, it was well-written, even (my biggest fear when it comes to asking for ARCs, because I like to know what I’m putting my neck on the line for). And here-I don’t regret asking for this book, I really don’t. But I do feel bad not just adoring it like I’ve seen-because I know that, likely, it’s just a matter of taste.

This book is a fun play on Jane Eyre. And it’s set in space. Now. See. I’m neither a fan of classical books, mostly Jane Austen, nor do I read many space books. Did this work for me? It did. I really devoured it. But did I obsess over it, pine for night time when I could curl up under the covers and read it? Did I think about it all day every day just counting down the minutes until I could be reconnected with it again? The answer, sad as it may be, is no.

I’m beginning to understand that perhaps I’m not a huge fan of books set in space-only a few really stand out to me as unforgettable…and, unfortunately, this isn’t one of them. I really really enjoyed it-that’s not a lie. But, like in EVERY book I read, when I needed a HARD push, a big, dramatic event that gets larger and larger as it chugs along, this book stayed relatively even.

Which really is a good thing, honestly-especially to most people. So it’s through no fault of the author or, if I’m speaking in a creepy way, any of the characters-it’s me. I just wanted a huge eruption and a certain end…and it didn’t go that way. *shrugs* What can I say? I’m picky.

And, perhaps, I wanted a denser writing style. For a story that was somewhat dark (well..it was very dark), the writing seemed light. Like maybe there should have been more of an edge, a sharper tone at times where, instead, there was a soft, pillowy feeling and the lack of an implication that anything TOO bad could happen. I can’t explain what I mean-I can’t. It was expertly written, to be sure. No errors to be found. Yet…I wanted or needed more, and I’m not sure what that means.

The addicting and heart-wrenching moments far outweighed the underwhelming, yet I find myself drawn to remembering the things that didn’t work for me. Maybe I wanted to love this [more] too much. Maybe I had too high of expectations because everyone else is loving it-and, again, maybe I’m just spoiled, because I had a lot of fun reading it and I really liked Hugo. I thought about him, separate from the book, frequently. But, without him, this book wouldn’t have been much to me-and that’s not really a good thing, is it?

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY – Moonlight And Midtown (Fairy Tales of the Magicorum #1.5) by Christina Bauer

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY - Moonlight And Midtown (Fairy Tales of the Magicorum #1.5) by Christina Bauer

I had so much fun reading this Novella! So check out my 4 Star Review below and enter a fabulous giveaway. Enjoy!

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY – Moonlight And Midtown (Fairy Tales of the Magicorum #1.5) by Christina BauerMoonlight And Midtown (Fairy Tales of the Magicorum #1.5)
by Christina Bauer
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

After battling werewolves and evil aunties, Bryar Rose is ready to enjoy her new life. No more crazy aunties. Her curse is toast. And Bry’s new man, Knox, is literally a dream come true. Best of all, Bry will soon attend a regular high school. Forget those sketchy tutors! To get ready, Bry is dedicating the rest of her summer to some serious back-to-school shopping with her best friend, Elle. It’s a blast, except for one thing:

Mysterious strangers are following Bry across Manhattan.

All these stalkers have oddly familiar scents and an uncanny ability to slip into the shadows whenever Bry tries to confront them. Even worse, their presence is making Knox act crazy with a capital C.

But Bry’s having none of it. Enough of her life has already been ruined by secrets. With Elle’s help, Bry plans to confront these strangers, find out what they want, and send them packing. Trouble is, the truth about their identity won’t be so easy to manage, especially when Bry finds out how these stalkers could change her future with Knox…and not for the better.

Review:

*You can read my review of Book #1 Wolves and Roses here*

Moonlight and Midtown was a ton of fun and the perfect way to see what our favorite characters were up to.  Ultimately we got to watch Bryar and Elle’s shopping extravaganza and oh my gosh, it was action packed and a little bit crazy lol.  But we also got to learn more about the world that they lived in and watch Bryar and Knox start to find their place in life. This novella was a quick, lighthearted read that left me feeling even more excited for the next book in this series!

Nyxa takes a half step backward. “I command you to leave my presence.” But her words come out as a half whisper.
Nyxa is afraid.
As well she should be.
Knox and I share a quick look. There’s no need to speak. We both know what we want to do.

I loved getting a peak into Bryar’s struggles, since she learned what she was.  But the poor girl couldn’t catch a break and her wolf was uncontrollable. Thankfully she had Elle, her bestie, who was ready to take her on a shopping trip since she kept destroying her clothes every time she shifted.  And speaking of Elle, we also got to see Alex, a warlock and Knox’s best friend. The interaction between Elle and Alex was a lot of fun and I need to find out more about Elle’s past and why that hinders them from being together.  They’re so fabulous together!  See, I need that next book now lol.

Right here, this moment. This is what I like so much about being with Knox. He understands me like no one else ever has.

But my favorite in this series?  Knox. He was as seductive as ever.  And I loved what a good friend he had become to Bryar.  They worked together so well.  I mean, yes he was her mate, but still, I loved the way they meshed.  It warmed my heart how Knox would help Byrar out and that he was always by her side. Even though he had his own struggles……

His ice-blue eyes lock with mine as he twirls us around. “Say it again.”
My face turns about three shades of red. “Mate.”

Just like the first book in this series, this novella was beyond adorable.  So if you loved Wolves and Roses, definitely give this one a try.  It was a super quick read and it was a ton of fun.  I loved every minute of it!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by Monster House Books LLC. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Reading Order & Links:


Amazon (click on covers), iBooks (click on titles) & Book Depository (click on book #)


Wolves and Roses #1
Review:

Jen

Moonlight and Midtown #2
Review:

Jen


Shifters and Glyphs #3
Review:

About Christina Bauer:

Christina Bauer knows how to tell stories about kick-ass women. In her best selling Angelbound series, the heroine is a part-demon girl who loves to fight in Purgatory’s Arena and falls in love with a part-angel prince. This young adult best seller has driven more than 500,000 ebook downloads and 9,000 reviews on Goodreads and retailers. The first three books in the series are now available as audiobooks on Audible and iTunes.

Bauer has also told the story of the Women’s March on Washington by leading PR efforts for the Massachusetts Chapter. Her pre-event press release—the only one sent out on a major wire service—resulted in more than 19,000 global impressions and redistribution by over 350 different media entities including the Associated Press.

Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.

Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / LinkedIn

 

Giveaway:

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BOOK REVIEW: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

BOOK REVIEW: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra ChristoTo Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

 

Soon there’s sun in the distance, or perhaps even moonlight. Everything is muted and as Lira swoops her blade down on mine once more, I let it all fall away. My mission, my kingdom. The world. They exist somewhere other than in this moment, and now there is only this. Me, my ship, and a girl with oceans in her eyes.

The sea calls, sun shimmering on its tranquil surface. Cylinders of light bouncing over every rip and tear of the water’s veneer. Eyes clash, a heroic act bends and twists fate into a finite moment. Hearts drum to the beat of the ocean’s waves, as rapid and tremulous as any tentative alliance formed, swept away with the thought of a shared loneliness. Two aching souls. Like calls to like. And the inevitable betrayal…hardly a betrayal at all, for how can it be a betrayal when it was right in front of your face the whole time? Two monsters in their respective worlds…two monsters who share the same dream.

His hand moves from beside mine, and I feel a sudden absence. And then it’s on my cheek, cupping my face, thumb stroking my lip. It feels like the worst thing I’ve ever done and the best thing I could ever do and how strange that the two are suddenly the same.

Guys. I adored this book. And the writing-it was seriously out of this world. Savage. Unrelenting-the most vicious kind of poetry. If I could write, and, believe me, the last few books I’ve read have made me pine for it so, this is exactly how I’d want to write.

In Midas, the ocean glitters gold. At least, that’s the illusion. Really it’s as blue as any sea, but the light does things. Unexplainable things. The light can lie.

I can’t explain what makes a book tick for me (I lie, I could go on for days)-sometimes it’s a tried and true pattern. Sometimes it’s a random pick that is in a totally different style genre than I’m used to. And sometimes, sometimes they just click . And that’s what happened here.

As I stare at her, I see nothing of the wraith-like girl I pulled from the ocean. Whatever spell had threatened to transfix me when I saved her is broken now, and I can see quite clearly that she’s no helpless damsel. She’s something more, and it makes me too curious for my own good.

I picked this story up because of not only it’s content, but because of the rave reviews and incessant fangirling that came along with my friends devoted love and support. But, like with many things, I get nervous-it’s hard to fall in with the hordes of fans that hype up a new release (no matter how much you had previously wanted to read it). You feel a pressure to love it that much, to not feel broken because you didn’t connect like the rest of the world.

Staying still, in one place and one moment, will make me miserable. In my heart, I’m as wild as the ocean that raised me.

And, I’ll admit, I did feel the pressure even though I waited a month before I tried it. For one, it was just SO dark at first. I don’t know what I expected, but it certainly wasn’t what I read, in the beginning. Flesh and blood and death and just…evil. Pure evil. It was as intense as it was shocking, and after coming off of so many wins in the lighter faring genres (two contemporary, one lighter fantasy), this was a cold shock to my system.

I’m not a good man. I don’t think I’ve been one for a long time.

I felt the pure, murky vileness seep from every inky page the sea queen graced, cutting off my ability to apprehend disbelief that this was going to be as light as I suppose I anticipated. The ruthlessness of Lira, our MC, was no joke either, making my eyebrows furrow and my mouth make this weird shape that I’m sure had me looking like a frowny, gapey fish (or slack-jawed mermaid, if we’re to stick with them our story’s theme, here). I didn’t know if my fragile little heart (HA) could handle the intensity with which each of our characters handled their prey. Turns out? I’m not so nice after all.

I kid…I’m never nice. When it comes to my books, the more pain, the merrier. I’m sorry, but there’s just something so appealing about a broken, hero/heroine in need of saving, amirite??? But here…I don’t know what happened. I guess going in thinking ‘la la la, little mermaid, la la’ was my largest issue-unprepared doesn’t begin to express the depth with which I felt betrayed by my inner evil self. Trust me, it won’t happen again-my guard won’t be let down so easily next time.

The Sea Queen curves downward, her tentacles brushing my hand, lips like broken glass on my ear. “Stupid girl,” she whispers, and then—as though it’s the worst thing she could utter—“ stupid human girl.”

But then, that ruins all the best surprises, doesn’t it? Which leads me here: Lira and Elian are my life. There. I said it. The slow burn that erupted like wild fire in my system was a result of wicked awesome story-telling unparalleled by many when trying to conquer a re-telling of any form. And conquer she did. I’ve never read such a vivid, beautiful, amazing retelling ever. The way she twisted and weaved the story so that it was more bloodthirsty, more dreadful, more hopeful, whimsical, daring-it blew my mind.

How strange that instead of taking his heart, I’m hoping he takes mine.

I wasn’t trying to compare because, well, come on. Disney does many things well, but slow burn and destruction and peril and general mayhem aren’t at the helm of their money boats-they are, but in a Disney way. But, you could still see some things that nodded to my darling Arielle, my beloved Ursula, my loving prince Eric, and even her two conniving eels. Now-tell me-how could you NOT be interested?

“Wants to be free,” her companion says.
“Free from the queen.”
“Free her heart.”
“Take a heart.”
“Take the queen’s.”

But they were so subtle. And it was little things here and there, but they were so wonderful. I’d be dying a little, you know, dying in the best, bookish obsessed way possible, and then I’d be like-OMG! That’s kind of like what happened there, and isn’t she just so clever and cunning? (One scene comes to mind near the end where View Spoiler »

just thinking of these vivid details makes my heart erupt in the best, most offbeat way-seriously. And, honestly, it made me love her all the more.

The whites of the clouds dotted with bronze as leftover shimmers from Midas float across my eyes. But soon the world comes bursting back, vivid and unyielding. The coral of the fish and the bluebell sky.

But onto the characters and why they made my heart stutter in impossible-and not so impossible-ways. Tell me. Tell me how you make my heart go crazy when all Elian has to do is snark at our evil princess…and her snark right back. And it makes me giggle and squee and do ridiculous, girly things? How can an author do this? Because they’re enemies-how can we find this endearing? Why does bickering and banter and, quite frankly, threatening bodily harm make our hearts beat so? (half this paragraph was in question form, ummmm…)

“What about your own language?” he asks.
“It’s better.”
“How?”
“It’s more suited to me.”
“I dread to think what that means.”

I’ll tell you why-because we’re fickle fickle girls (and guys, whoever) and we like bad bad things lol. We THRIVE on the hate to love trope. We CHERISH the moments that pile up and begin to forge a bond between our two antagonistic MC’s. We are loathe to admit we’re easy…but tell me, who doesn’t love a prince and princess who hate each other, but end up falling for one another, inevitably, anyway?

We’re like squirrels, gathering up all these little nuts (acorns?? I don’t know), gathering and bunching and storing away any little heated look, caress, shared moment, heroic act, proof of loyalty that’s slowly beginning to build-and EXPLODE when it all comes crashing down, when the worlds collide, their hearts open up…only to be crushed under the heavy boot of deception and lies. Necessary lies, mind you, but lies all the same. We’re suckers for it-and it’s the BEST feeling.

“Gods.” Kye recoils as I slash open Lira’s dress. “Is she going to live?”
“Do you care?” I snap back. It isn’t his fault, but yelling at Kye feels a little like yelling at myself, and I need to be yelled at right now. Because this is on me. If Lira dies, then it’s on me.
I can’t believe you came back for me.
But I left her first.

Elian was…he was everything I look for in my book men. A prince born to be a king, but loyal only to the water he loves-his only love. Suffocating under the weight of his duty, the need to fulfill what can’t be avoided-to become the reluctant king of Midas. He broke my heart with how adventurous he was. A true captain in every sense of the word, a pirate straight down to his bones, with a crew who would do anything to save him or sail by his side. His courageousness bonds his crew together, making them more than deckhands-they’re his friends. Oh, and did I mention….he’s the famous prince siren killer?

People know me as the siren hunter, and those at court utter those words with amusement and fondness: Oh, Prince Elian, trying to save us all. If they understood what it took, the awful and sickening screams sirens made. If they saw the corpses of the women on my deck before they dissolved to sea foam, then my people wouldn’t look upon me so fondly. I would no longer be a prince to them, and as much as I might desire such things, I know better.

And Lira-the princess of the sirens in her kingdom. Second only to the Sea Queen, Lira takes the heart of a prince every year on her birthday and-do you see where this is going here? Do I really need to go further?

Love is a word we scarcely hear in the ocean. It exists only in my song and on the lips of the princes I’ve killed. And I have never heard it from my mother’s mouth. I’m not even sure what it really means. To me, it has always been just a word that humans treasure for reasons I can’t comprehend.

When she and Elian meet, sparks fly-but where he’s flint, she’s tinder, and she wants to see him dead and heartless beneath her. But that’s hard to do when-well, I’ll not say. I didn’t know this happened and I loved everything unraveling before my eyes as a surprise. The less you know, the better.

These two together-amazing. He doesn’t trust her and she wants to be a part of his crew for the mission that is a conflict of interest for them both. Their banter, while sharp-tongued at first, becomes an easy rapport, a tentative bond that helps them further their mission. His alertness disguised as aloofness made me a loyal fan -I loved his personality and the devotion he put forth to save his kingdom and all princes alike. He is burdened by duty, but would do anything and sacrifice anything to save those around him. He is selfless in every sense of the word, and I adore him so much it hurts. Even Lira, who he almost doesn’t like, he defends and honors and tries to keep alive. He is a true hero, and I just have to stop or I could go on about him forever (is anyone keeping track of my book boyfriends in 2018?? The scale…it’s tipping over…).

And Lira, darling Lira-as vicious as she is beautiful. Merciless in her mission to change her kingdoms ways, to kill her mother…and to take the prince’s heart. She’s the Princes’ Bane, you see, the very creature that Elian seeks most in the world, aside from the queen herself, and she’s right under his nose. But who is the hunter…and who is the prey??

Technically, I’m a murderer, but I like to think that’s one of my better qualities.

Lira, though, I could hang with this girl. She was something to behold. Her fury, her ruthlessness, her unrelenting need for vengeance (Elian, too, seeks vengeance for his friend, but, as you can see, this is just another bond they could form) making her almost as bloodthirsty as her mother-but not quite.

I loved her in ways I can’t explain, because she is such a grey area character, and while I couldn’t root her on…I sympathized with her and did want her to win-friendship. Devotion. Loyalty from her new friends crew members on the Saad. And the love she has for her cousin, and her cousin for her, it melted my heart. Two equally strong characters, lonely in ways they can’t express, because their lives almost seem full-but full doesn’t equal fulfilled.

And, PS, this song, every time I hear it…I think of these two (NOT the trust fund baby, met at a party, etc, but YOU GET IT (maybe)).

**I like that you’re broken
Broken like me
Maybe that makes me a fool
I like that you’re lonely
Lonely like me
I could be lonely with you

There’s something tragic, but almost pure
Think I could love you, but I’m not sure
There’s something wholesome, there’s something sweet
Tucked in your eyes that I’d love to meet
***

I don’t know. I just love that it reminds me of this book! (Also, upon looking at the lyrics, I heard the song wrong-it does NOT say, These ARE my people, these are my friends blah blah, but says These AREN’T (OOPS I NEVER HEAR SONGS RIGHT) but I’ll choose to still hear it my way since he adores his crew 😉 )

The rapport of the crew melted my heart in ways I haven’t seen in a long time-in fact, this story reminded me of a sea version of Six of Crows MANY TIMES OVER, even if I’m way out on a limb here. The funny banter of the crew, the jibes, the skill, the friendship-it was a warm feeling-and I’ll welcome it into my soul time and again, for this is surely a forever favorite.

“How did you get the map?” she asks.
“My charm.”
“No, really.”
“I’m really very charming,” I say. “I even roped this lot into sacrificing their lives for me.”
“Didn’t do it for you.” Madrid doesn’t look up from her deck. “Did it for the target practice.”
“I did it for the hijinks of near-death experiences,” Kye says.
“I did it for more fish suppers.” Torik stretches his arms out in a yawn. “God knows we don’t have enough fish every other day of the year.”
I turn to Lira. “See?”

A rush of adrenaline to my system, the end cemented my love further (everyone knows I’m a peril junkie) to the point of obsession, and I’m proud to say it lived up to my [not always but mostly always] haughty standards. I don’t think TKAK needs my endorsement (I mean, check out the ratings), nor does Alexandra Christo, but she has a forever fan and loyal minion here. Consider me part of your crew, Ms. (Mrs?) Christo-I’d follow you into any world (even if it’s in siren, sea queen, and mermen infested waters, but yikes, please don’t (or do, whatever-more Elian!)) and to the ends of the earth on the Saad-I’m a fool for your writing…I’m sure I’d devour it no matter the content, and that’s the most flattering endorsement I can bestow.

View all my reviews

REVIEW + GIVEAWAY – Wolves and Roses (Fairy Tales of the Magicorum #1) by Christina Bauer

REVIEW + GIVEAWAY - Wolves and Roses (Fairy Tales of the Magicorum #1) by Christina Bauer

Wolves and Roses was soooo much fun and I can’t wait to devour the rest of this author’s books! Check out my 4.5 Star Review below and enter a fabulous giveaway! Enjoy!

REVIEW + GIVEAWAY – Wolves and Roses (Fairy Tales of the Magicorum #1) by Christina BauerWolves and Roses (Fairy Tales of the Magicorum #1)
by Christina Bauer
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Bryar Rose has a problem. She’s descended from one of the three magical races—shifters, fairies, or witches. That makes her one of the Magicorum, and Magicorum always follow a fairy tale life template. In Bryar’s case, that template should be Sleeping Beauty.

“Should” being the key word.

Trouble is, Bryar is nowhere near the sleeping beauty life template. Not even close. She doesn’t like birds or woodland creatures. She can’t sing. And she certainly can’t stand Prince Philpot, the so-called “His Highness of Hedge Funds” that her aunties want her to marry. Even worse, Bryar’s having recurring dreams of a bad boy hottie and is obsessed with finding papyri from ancient Egypt. What’s up with that?

All Bryar wants is to attend a regular high school with normal humans and forget all about shifters, fairies, witches, and the curse that Colonel Mallory the Magnificent placed on her. And she might be able to do just that--if only she can just keep her head down until her eighteenth birthday when the spell that’s ruined her life goes buh-bye.

But that plan gets turned upside down when Bryar Rose meets Knox, the bad boy who’s literally from her dreams. Knox is a powerful werewolf, and his presence in her life changes everything, and not just because he makes her knees turn into Jell-O. If Bryar can’t figure out who—or what—she really is, it might cost both her and Knox their lives… as well as jeopardize the very nature of magic itself.

Review:

Wolves and Roses captivated my attention with unique ideas, characters that I quickly loved and a story-line that was tons of fun!  I was hoping to pick up a book that was entertaining and enjoyable, and by that first page I knew I had found the exact book I was looking for.  So if you adore paranormal romance that has a strong and snarky heroine, a fabulous best friend, a swoon worthy guy and a mystery that pulls you in, then definitely check out this book.

Now is not the time to worry about Knox. It’s the time to tell my best friend that I killed someone and burned her house down.
Yipes
.
Straightening my shoulders, I knock on the door. – Bryar

I’ve never read a story where characters are supposed to live out their lives according to their fairy tale theme.  What a fun idea!  They’re referred to as Magicorum and they belong to one of the three magical races: shifters, witches, or fairies.  Bryar Rose is supposed to be following her Sleeping Beauty life template, but she’s definitely failing at that.  Yeah she has three fairies watching over her, a charming Prince who wants to marry her, and she has to use an inhaler to keep from falling asleep.  But the girl could care less about following her path because she’s obsessed with finding papyri from ancient Egypt.  And she dreams about this hot guy, Knox, that is definitely not the Prince she is supposed to marry lol.

“Don’t order me around.”
Damn. I want to do more than order her around. I want to build my life around this girl . Know her thoughts. Touch her skin. Bring her into my world and never let go.
How can one woman upend your entire existence so quickly? – Knox

Ohhh I loved Bryar Rose!  From her brutally honest thoughts to letting others know her opinion, she had me cracking up with her snarky ways!  She definitely doesn’t take anyone’s garbage and I loved how she stood up for herself and those she loved.  She’s fiercely loyal, especially with her best friend Elle who is also failing at following her life template.  Elle’s is Cinderella btw.  So between Bryar hunting for papyri and Elle being an expert jewel thief and con artist, they quickly find themselves in some situations that has them befriending two guys that I love, Knox and Alex.  I loved how the four of them formed a friendship and worked together.  The way they interacted made me into a smiling and laughing fool.  

I gently stroke Wolf-Knox’s neck. “What can I do to help?”
“Run from here.” Wolf-Knox’s voice is so low I can hardly hear him. “Never come back.”
My blood turns cold. “But you’ll die.”

Oh my gosh, I heart Knox so hard.  He’s a powerful werewolf and I couldn’t help but love his growly ways.  We quickly learn that he is protective, fierce and oh so sexy.  Thankfully some of the chapters are in Knox’s voice, and I loved seeing the world through his eyes.  I loved hearing what he thought of Elle, the extra clues we learned from him and the internal fights he had with his inner wolf had me cracking up.  Knox is definitely book boyfriend material!  So I desperately wanted Bryar to fall for him as fast and as hard as I did.  But here’s the thing, Bryar is stubborn and fights her attraction to Knox.  

This isn’t the ending to any fairy tale template, but I’m not sure I want to follow someone else’s path anymore.
This time, the choice is mine. – Bryar

So I’m going to be purposely vague about how the plot unfolds, because it’s more fun not knowing what’s going to happen!  Just know that the ending was perfect!  It wrapped up some pressing issues, but there’s still a lot that needs to be resolved or figured out.  So yes, I can’t wait to read the next book!  I can’t wait to be surrounded by these characters I loved again.  Even if I did guess how a few things turned out, I didn’t care at all.  This book was too much fun and the writing was so easy to devour.  So until that next book releases, I’m definitely looking forward to reading other books this author has written!

*ARC kindly provided by Monster House Books LLC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Reading Order & Links:


Amazon (click on covers), iBooks (click on titles) & Book Depository (click on book #)


Wolves and Roses #1
Review:

Jen

Moonlight and Midtown #2
Review:

Jen


Shifters and Glyphs #3
Review:

 

About Author:

Christina Bauer knows how to tell stories about kick-ass women. In her best selling Angelbound series, the heroine is a part-demon girl who loves to fight in Purgatory’s Arena and falls in love with a part-angel prince. This young adult best seller has driven more than 500,000 ebook downloads and 9,000 reviews on Goodreads and retailers.

Bauer has also told the story of the Women’s March on Washington by leading PR efforts for the Massachusetts Chapter. Her pre-event press release—the only one sent out on a major wire service—resulted in more than 19,000 global impressions and redistribution by over 350 different media entities including the Associated Press. Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.

Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / LinkedIn

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