Today on the blog, I’ll be bringing you another blog tour post. Because, honestly, I just can’t say no to Dave @ The Write Reads! It’s his fault that he keeps pulling in some incredible books for tours. It’s just too tempting! The book I’ll be highlighting today is one that I knew nothing about before getting the sign up email, but after reading the synopsis, I had to say yes! It sounded like it would be right up my alley.
Before we get into the post, though, I want to make sure to thank Dave @ The Write Reads, the publisher, and the author for providing me a free e-ARC of this book in exchange for participating in this tour and sharing my honest review! It is, as always, much appreciated. Now, let’s jump in!
“Some secrets are worth killing for
The ancient city of Kepos sits in an isolated valley, cut off from the outside world by a towering wall. Behind it, the souls of the dead clamour for release. Or so the priesthood says.
Kala has never had any reason to doubt their word – until her father dies in suspicious circumstances that implicate the city’s high priest. She’s determined to investigate, but she has a more immediate problem: the laws of the city require her mother to remarry straight away.
Kala’s new stepfather is a monster, but his son Leon is something altogether more dangerous: kind.
With her family fractured and the investigation putting her life in danger, the last thing Kala needs is romance. She would rather ignore Leon entirely, however difficult he makes it. But when she learns the truth of what really clamours behind the wall at the end of the valley, she faces a choice: share what she knows and jeopardise her escape, or abandon him to his fate along with the rest of the city.
If she doesn’t move fast, then no one will make it out of the valley alive.”
After the tragic death of her mother, Ollie Adler finds herself engrossed in a creepy book about Beth and the smiling man, which may hold more truth than Ollie realizes.
“Wherever you go in this big, gorgeous, hideous world, there is a ghost story waiting for you.”
As y’all may know, I’ve been a lover of horror books for awhile. Though fantasy will forever and always be my top genre, there’s just something about a frightening tale that I love. That being said, I tend to stick to adult horror novels. Why, you ask? Mostly because those are the ones I see marketed! But I’ve recently begun to dip my toes into YA horror and, most recently, middle grade horror. I had heard about Small Spaces from various sources and was curious about how I would get on with a horror novel geared towards a middle grade audience. Then the book was picked for the Middle Grade Marvels group book in August and I knew it was time!
In this novel, we’re following a young girl names Ollie Adler. Ollie is smart and brave, but also reeling from a recent tragedy. She’s closed herself off from people at school and even a little bit from her loving father. But one thing she does still enjoy is reading. That’s why, when she finds a woman about to toss an old book into a river, she quickly saves it from a watery demise. When she starts to read it, she’s immediately pulled in by the creepy and bizarre tale. But when her class goes on a field trip to a local farm, she can’t help but notice some eerie similarities. Then, on the way home, the bus breaks down and things take a turn for the spooky…
Y’all, this book was a creepy delight! I haven’t had that much fun being freaked out in quite a long time. The tone is expertly set and matches the fall theme so well, it felt like October when I was reading it at the height of summer! I think my favorite aspect of the book was the foreboding atmosphere that is built throughout the tale. It ramps up as you go, the tension building and building, until you find yourself on the edge of your seat. I think the author did a good job of making this frightening, but not overly so for the intended audience.
But, also, I may never look at a scarecrow the same way again…
I also think Katherine Arden did an amazing job developing her characters. I just wanted to hug Ollie so many times throughout this book. The depiction of grief will tug at your heart-strings. I loved the characterization of Coco and Brian, the other two main characters in this story, as well. Coco has a quiet strength to her that I absolutely adored. Brian is just so dang likeable and I love how he interacts with both Ollie and Coco. Together, they are a trio of complex, layered characters and it was a joy getting to know them in this short book.
I will say that I’m glad that this is just the first book in a series because I felt like I didn’t get enough! I wanted more as soon as the book was done, which is why I immediately bought the next book in the series, Dead Voices. I can’t wait to continue on with Ollie, Coco, and Brian!
Final thoughts: Don’t sleep on this middle grade horror! This is a creepy, dark, and intense book that will have you on the edge of your seat. The characters are compelling, the setting is wonderfully ominous, and the scares will sneak up on you! If you or your kid are looking for a book to read to get in the mood for Halloween, if you’re looking for something that has heart and jump scares, then I think you would love Small Spaces.
As a book blogger, my eternal struggle is not only trying to read ALL THE BOOKS, but keeping up with my reviews once I have read them. Before I started this blog, I thought the reviews would be the simple part. After all, I was already posting reviews on Goodreads. How different could it be?
Hahaha, oh past-me… I never realized how much more thought goes into a review I’m planning on putting on my little blog as opposed to Goodreads! How in-depth do I wanna go? Do I want to put all my reviews here or just the good ones? Does everything I read get a full review? And, if not, how do I decide what gets a full review and what doesn’t?
Clearly, I have enough thoughts there to fill up an entirely different post, lol. All this to say, I have fallen behind on reviews recently because I was stressing myself trying to write full, in-depth reviews for each and every book I read. And, to be honest, it was doing me in. Sometimes, even if I enjoy a book, I just don’t have that much to say. Thus, we’re bringing back the mini-review! Not only will it help me catch up on books to review (because, to be clear, I do want to review every book I’ve read on Goodreads, even if it’s a short one) but I think it will help with my blogging-related stress levels 😅😂
That being said, and with us heading deeper into October, I thought this mini-review edition was perfect! I’ll be talking about three mystery/thrillers I read recently which you might also enjoy during these spooky times. Let’s jump in!
Ahh, Gone Girl. I wasn’t sure how well I would enjoy reading a mystery/thriller where I already knew the major plot twist. Would I find it bland as I already knew what was going on? Would I find it predictable through no fault of its own? I’m happy to report that, even knowing (one of) the twist(s), this book still managed to shock me and keep me on the edge of my seat!
Mostly through hatred.
Because I hated EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER IN THIS BOOK! Nick is terrible. Amy is a sociopath. The detectives made me want to punch several things. Just… not a single character in this book was likeable. And that made the story even more fascinating! I just had to know what terrible thing these terrible people were going to do to each other next.
I can see why this book is as popular as it is. With the breakneck twists and the compelling (if horrible) characters, this one was hard to put down! I’m glad I finally gave it a chance and read it.
I’ve owned this book for a hot minute and, yet, it’s the second Karen M. McManus book I’ve read. I read Two Can Keep a Secret awhile ago and found myself really enjoying it! It kept me guessing until the end and I do love when a thriller can surprise me. So, after getting on so well with her sophomore novel, I decided to finally give her debut a try.
Though I did manage to ferret out the twist in One of Us Is Lying, this was still a fast-paced and thrilling ride! The story was interesting and I enjoyed the Breakfast-Club-but-with-murder vibes to the whole thing. The characters were interesting to read about and had a lot of depth, which I appreciate in a mystery/thriller. And, even though I guessed whodunit, the reveal was still masterfully done!
This book was an intense, quick read that I’m glad I finally got around to picking up. I can’t wait to not only read the sequel, One of Us Is Next, but McManus’ newest book, The Cousins. I think Karen M. McManus is quickly becoming a favorite, ngl.
Imma be perfectly honest right now and say that I picked this book up mostly because of it’s gorgeous cover. I mean… look at it! I’ll also say that the only other book I’ve read by this author, Gods of Jade and Shadow, was solidly in the “okay” category for me. So I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect as I started this one.
(I’m also kiiiind of cheating with this one as it’s more so “horror” as opposed to a “mystery/thriller” but… 🤷🏾♀️)
Thankfully, Mexican Gothic was just the right mix of weird, creepy, gothic horror for me! When I tell you there were multiple times when I physically shuddered… This book will get under your skin in the best of ways! Well… if you like to be scared, that is 👻 Also, this book validated my absolute hatred of mushrooms. Seriously, though… check the trigger and content warnings for this one because there are some scenes that made me a little nauseous and I have a pretty strong stomach for horror.
I thought the pacing of this one was impeccable. I enjoyed our main character, Naomi, and the fact that she wasn’t some tough-as-nails badass but she still did what she needed to do to help her cousin. The other characters felt a little flat to me, but they still played their parts wonderfully. And the setting was just perfectly gothic! I loved the atmosphere of this book, even when it was making me shudder. All in all, this was a great book and it would definitely be a perfect read for this time of year!
And there we have it: three creepy books I’ve read recently finally reviewed! Are you planning on reading any of these during spooky season? Let me know in the comments!
Look who’s back with another blog tour post! This time, I’m participating in a tour run by Storytellers on Tour, a company that focuses on indie published fantasy and science fiction novels. I always know I’m going to be exposed to something fun and interesting when I sign up for one of their tours! And this is definitely the case with the fantasy novella I’ll be talking about today.
First, I want to thank SOT and the author for sending me a copy of this book so that I could participate in this tour! The cover is just stunning 😍 And I also want to encourage you to check out the other amazing content creators that are participating. Click the banner below to find links:
Alright, now let’s talk about the book!
“The Realm of Dreich is a getaway for the rich and powerful, a medieval-inspired town in the middle of a vast frozen wilderness. Now it’s the site of a wedding, intended to join two feuding families who have spent centuries in an uneasy truce with each other.
When Tommy Carpenter asks his best friend, Nate Garrett, to help him with the security of the wedding, Nate reluctantly agrees, knowing that it will be a long weekend of work and, in all probability, treachery. It is only a matter of time before members of each family are found murdered and it is up to Nate and Tommy to find the killer before more bodies fall, potentially reigniting a war.”
I’m on a roll with these blog tours, aren’t I? Look, a lot of great opportunities caught my attention at the same time and I couldn’t say no! In this case, I’m particularly glad that I didn’t because this book… y’all, this book made me feel some kind of way. We’ll be talking about my favorite quotes and my own voices reflections in a moment, but I just want to a second right now to say this was I N C R E D I B L E!
I would also like to take a moment to thank Hear Our Voices Book Tours for letting me participate in yet another one of their amazing book promotions! And, of course, a huge thank you to not only HOV, but the publisher, Little, Brown for Young Readers, for sending me a finished copy in exchange for my participation and honest review. And, of course, please check out the other amazing content creators on this tour by clicking HERE!
Alright, let’s get to it!
“From a bestselling and award-winning husband and wife team comes an innovative, beautifully illustrated novel that delivers a front-row seat to the groundbreaking moments in history that led to African Americans earning the right to vote.
“Right here, I’m sharing the honest-to-goodness.” — Loretta
“I’m gon’ reach back, and tell how it all went. I’m gon’ speak on it. My way.” — Roly
“I got more nerve than a bad tooth. But there’s nothing bad about being bold.” — Aggie B.
Loretta, Roly, and Aggie B., members of the Little family, each present the vivid story of their young lives, spanning three generations. Their separate stories — beginning in a cotton field in 1927 and ending at the presidential election of 1968 — come together to create one unforgettable journey.
Through an evocative mix of fictional first-person narratives, spoken-word poems, folk myths, gospel rhythms and blues influences, Loretta Little Looks Back weaves an immersive tapestry that illuminates the dignity of sharecroppers in the rural South. Inspired by storytelling’s oral tradition, stirring vignettes are presented in a series of theatrical monologues that paint a gripping, multidimensional portrait of America’s struggle for civil rights as seen through the eyes of the children who lived it. The novel’s unique format invites us to walk in their shoes. Each encounters an unexpected mystical gift, passed down from one family member to the next, that ignites their experience what it means to reach for freedom.”
Look at me posting two blog tour posts in a row! I’m making up for my lack of posts last week, lol. Today, I’ll be participating in a tour put on by Dave @ TheWriteReads for a book that fulfilled all my twists and turns needs! I’m talking about a new YA mystery called The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes! This book just came out earlier this month and a lot of people have been raving about it. After reading it myself, I can see why!
Before we get into my post, I’d like the thank Dave @ TheWriteReads, as always, and the publisher, Penguin Platform, for sending my a free e-ARC in exchange for my participation on this tour and an honest review.
Now, let’s get to it!
“An utterly addictive and twisty thriller, full of dark family secrets and deadly stakes. Perfect for fans of One of Us is Lying and Knives Out.
She came from nothing. Avery has a plan: keep her head down, work hard for a better future. Then an eccentric billionaire dies, leaving her almost his entire fortune. And no one, least of all Avery, knows why.
They had everything. Now she must move into the mansion she’s inherited. It’s filled with secrets and codes, and the old man’s surviving relatives – a family hell-bent on discovering why Avery got ‘their’ money.
Now there’s only one rule: winner takes all. Soon she is caught in a deadly game that everyone in this strange family is playing. But just how far will they go to keep their fortune?
‘A fantastic rollercoaster of a book! We Were Liars meets The Da Vinci Code. I loved it!’ Kat Ellis, author of Harrow Lake
‘A thrilling blend of family secrets, illicit romance and a high-stakes treasure hunt . . . The nonstop twists kept me guessing until the very last page!’ Katharine McGee, New York Times bestselling author of American Royals“
Now that it is officially spooky season, I find myself craving all the creepy reads. So, when I saw the call for participants for the Vampires Never Get Old tour hosted by Hear Our Voices Book Tours, I jumped all over it! Make sure to check out the other amazing hosts on this tour by clicking HERE.
I’m going to be upfront right now: vampires and I have a rocky past. I went through a period where they were my favorite creatures of the night. I couldn’t get enough vampire content! But, recently, I’ve felt mostly lackluster towards them and I’m gonna go ahead and blame the True Blood TV series for that. Thanks a lot, Bill.
That being said, I’ve been feeling that old love coming back. I’ve been craving a good vampire story to sample to see if, perhaps, they can reclaim their top spot as my favorite creepsters. What better way to do that than with an anthology dedicated to our fanged fiends? This entire anthology was a lot of fun and I can’t thank Hear Our Voices and the publisher, Imprint/MacMillan, for letting me read this book early in exchange for participating in this tour!
But enough of my rambling. Let’s dig into this tour post, shall we?
“Eleven fresh vampire stories from young adult fiction’s leading voices!
In this delicious new collection, you’ll find stories about lurking vampires of social media, rebellious vampires hungry for more than just blood, eager vampires coming out―and going out for their first kill―and other bold, breathtaking, dangerous, dreamy, eerie, iconic, powerful creatures of the night.
Welcome to the evolution of the vampire―and a revolution on the page.
Vampires Never Get Old includes stories by authors both bestselling and acclaimed, including Samira Ahmed, Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker, Tessa Gratton, Heidi Heilig, Julie Murphy, Mark Oshiro, Rebecca Roanhorse, Laura Ruby, Victoria “V. E.” Schwab, and Kayla Whaley.”
It’s time for another blog tour post. This is one I’m doubly excited about because A) it’s for one of my most anticipated books of 2020 and B) it’s my first tour with a newer company, Hear Our Voices Book Tours! Their mission is to amplify and share #Ownvoices reviews for BIPOC stories. I’m so excited to be able to help with that mission while having the privilege to talk about this incredible book!
Before I get into my review, though, I want to thank Netgalley and the publisher, Margaret K. McElderry Books (a division of Simon & Schuster), for providing me with a free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. When I requested Legendborn, I was honestly ready for that rejection email, lol. The noise I made when I was approved was… not human 😅 And, of course, thank you to Hear Our Voices for letting me be a part of this amazing tour! Please make sure to check out the other amazing bookish content creators that are part of the blog tour and the Instagram tour!
And now, let’s get to the book!
“Filled with mystery and an intriguingly rich magic system, Tracy Deonn’s YA contemporary fantasy Legendborn offers the dark allure of City of Bones with a modern-day twist on a classic legend and a lot of Southern Black Girl Magic.
After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.
A flying demon feeding on human energies.
A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.
And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.
The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.
She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets—and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight.”
It’s time, once again, for yet another blog tour post. This was is a little different for a couple of reasons, though. First, this is my first time working with the lovely folks at TBR and Beyond Tours! They are a new blog tour company that has put in a lot of hustle to bring the book community some pretty amazing tours. Second, the book I’ll be reviewing is one of my most anticipated reads of 2020: The Faithless Hawk by Margaret Owen! I cannot tell you how excited I was when I found out I had been chosen for this particular tour. Please click HERE to check out the schedule with all the wonderful bloggers and bookstagrammers participating.
I want to say thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and the publisher, Henry Holt and Company, for a couple of things. First, for selecting me to be a part of this tour. And, second, for sending me an ARC and giving me the chance to be a part of promoting one of my favorite books of the year!
But I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I? Let’s dive right in!
“Kings become outcasts and lovers become foes in the thrilling sequel to Margaret Owen’s The Merciful Crow.
As the new chieftain of the Crows, Fie knows better than to expect a royal to keep his word. Still she’s hopeful that Prince Jasimir will fulfill his oath to protect her fellow Crows. But then black smoke fills the sky, signaling the death of King Surimir and the beginning of Queen Rhusana’s merciless bid for the throne.
With the witch queen using the deadly plague to unite the nation of Sabor against Crows—and add numbers to her monstrous army—Fie and her band are forced to go into hiding, leaving the country to be ravaged by the plague. However, they’re all running out of time before the Crows starve in exile and Sabor is lost forever.
A desperate Fie calls on old allies to help take Rhusana down from within her own walls. But inside the royal palace, the only difference between a conqueror and a thief is an army. To survive, Fie must unravel not only Rhusana’s plot, but ancient secrets of the Crows—secrets that could save her people, or set the world ablaze.”
Author: Margaret Owen
Series: The Merciful Crow #2
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company/Macmillan
Publication date: August 18th, 2020
Age group: Young Adult
Content/Trigger warnings: Child death (off-page), Gore, Violence
Born and raised at the end of the Oregon Trail, Margaret Owen first encountered an author in the wild in fourth grade. Roughly twenty seconds later, she decided she too would be an author, the first of many well-thought-out life decisions.
The career plan shifted frequently as Margaret spent her childhood haunting the halls of Powell’s Books. After earning her degree in Japanese, her love of espresso called her north to Seattle, where she worked in everything from thrift stores to presidential campaigns. The common thread between every job can be summed up as: lessons were learned.
Fortunately, it turned out that fourth-grade Margaret was onto something. She now spends her days wrestling disgruntled characters onto the page, and negotiating a long-term hostage situation with her two monstrous cats. (There is surprisingly little difference between the two.) In her free time, she enjoys exploring ill-advised travel destinations, and raising money for social justice nonprofits through her illustrations
“She felt dangerous, she felt raw and undeniable, like vengeance made flesh, like a walking curse. And she was not done with any of them yet.
Oh man… how does one talk eloquently about a book that left your heart feeling full and completely gutted all at the same time? A book that is the perfect conclusion to an incredible duology? Something that you were nervous to read because you loved the first book so much but it not only lived up to expectations, it completely outstripped them?
…If you figure it out, let me know 😂 In the meantime, I’m going to try and cobble together my feelings for The Faithless Hawk into something that is more understandable than the incoherent pterodactyl shrieking that happened after I turned the last page.
“He gestured awkwardly at his shirt. “Should I be, er, not wearing clothes for this?”
“I’s rather you weren’t,” Fie blurted out, then wondered if she could knock Tavin out with a handy rock and insist he’d imagined everything when he woke up.”
First, let’s talk about how much I adored the humor in this book. It’s dry, it’s deadpan, and it usually hits in a tense situation when you least expect it. It jives so completely with my own sense of humor that it felt like hanging out with a close friend! Someone who just gets me, ya know? It also helped make the tone of the book a little less bleak. I mean… it’s still bleak as hell, but it helped to break up all the danger and darkness so you could catch your breath between the tears. Which I appreciated 😅
“What happened to Prince” – Fie fluttered her hands, warbled her voice, and mummed dewy-eyed dismay – “‘Oh no we can ‘t, it’s the la-a-a-w!‘”
“First of all, ‘we can’t, it’s the law’ is not the wildly unreasonable statement you’re pretending it is,” Jasimir said peevishly.”
“I’m fine, Jas,” she wheezed, but she hugged the prince back anyway.
Jasimir didn’t let go, but still managed to point a finger at *redacted*. “You’re not allowed to yell at her,” he said, voice muffled in her shoulder. “I – I forbid it, do you understand me?”
Second, let’s talk about the characters in this book and, more importantly, their relationships. Margaret Owen is a master at crafting real, flawed characters that you can’t help but fall in love with! Fie, our main protagonist, is just such a fantastic lead character. She has a lot to figure out, a lot she has to shoulder, and she does it in her own, unique way. She’s far from perfect but she reminds me a lot of my younger self. Especially her tendency to think that she has to do everything on her own, even when she’s surrounded by people who want to help her.
And that’s where the relationships come in. The nuance! The depth! I loved how the messiness and the joyfulness of close relationships were explored. I loved how we poke into the dark corners and look at the ugly parts of letting people into your life. But we also get to see what amazing things can happen when you open your heart to others. I think my favorite thing, though, is the friendships. I’m not a huge fan of romance, to be honest, but I absolutely love when friendships are a big part of a narrative. It was so wonderful to watch Fie and Jasimir’s friendship develop over the course of this book!
Also, can we talk about the gang of cats? Because, seriously, it’s like this book was written specifically to appeal to me. (Team J, all the way!)
“He’d always known she wasn’t immortal, that she could bleed and weep and fall like anyone else. But deep down, he’d never really believed it. He’d never believed she’d do anything but simply refuse to die”
Okay, I know I said I’m not a huge fan of romance, but the one in this duology had me feeling a lot of F E E L I N G S! It was just so well done, where it didn’t feel forced or like it was simply there as a plot point. It felt natural and definitely recalled me to what it felt like to fall in love for the first time. Instead of detracting from the overall plot, it added a beautiful wrinkle that will play with your emotions.
“We’ll make them pay.”
“We’ll burn it down.”
Speaking of plot, this one grabs you from page one and will not let you off the ride until the last word is read. Talk about a fast-paced read! There is so much happening, but it’s never to the point where you get lost or confused. You will be ripping through the pages because you need to know what’s going to happen next. The pacing is flawlessly done, where you feel neither rushed nor bored. I also loved the examination of some real-life social issues you can pick out in this tale. Just look at the caste system and how the Crows are treated… it’s important commentary about how we treat people we view as “other” or “beneath us”.
I also found myself completely engaged in the story and I couldn’t stop thinking about it, even when I wasn’t actively reading it! I love when I get so wrapped up in a book that it permeates my thoughts and that definitely happened with this one. And, now that I’ve finished, I’m actively trying to fight off the book hangover because BOY IS IT A REAL POSSIBILITY! I just want to stay in Sabor and find out what happens next! Even though this is, honestly, the perfect duology, I’m still not ready to let go 😭
Final thoughts: This is an heart-pounding, teeth-clenching end to an amazing duology! Fie is an incredible main character, with a power and force of will that seeps throughout this book. The writing sucks you into the world, the characters worm their ways into your heart, and the plot is thrilling! If you’re looking for an exciting fantasy which explores some dark themes and takes you on an emotional rollercoaster ride, I think you’ll love The Merciful Crow duology. And, if you loved The Merciful Crow and you’re wondering if the sequel would measure up… trust me, The Faithless Hawk, does not disappoint!
Rating: 5 out of 5.
But wait, there’s more! TBR and Beyond Tours is running a giveaway to celebrate the release of The Faithless Hawk! The giveaway is running from August 23rd to August 29th, so you still have time to enter. If you win, you will receive finished copies of both The Merciful Crow and The Faithless Hawk! Unfortunately, this is US/Canada only.
If you would like to enter, click HERE to be taken to the Rafflecopter page. And good luck!