Friday, November 30, 2018

#Review - Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda #YALit #Horror

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Release Date: February 20, 2018
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Horror

Set against a future of marauding space scavengers and deadly aliens who kill with sound, here is a frightening, fast-paced YA adventure from the author of the acclaimed horror novel, Shutter.

Tuck has been in stasis on the USS John Muir, a ship that houses Earth’s most valued artifacts—its natural resources. Parks and mountains are preserved in space.
Laura belongs to a shipraiding family, who are funded by a group used to getting what they want. And they want what’s on the Muir.

Tuck and Laura didn’t bargain on working together, or battling mutant aliens who use sound to kill. But their plan is the only hope for their crews, their families, and themselves.

In space, nobody can hear you scream . . . but on the John Muir, the screams are the last thing you'll hear.






Courtney Alameda's Pitch Dark is a standalone, young adult, horror novel told in alternating narratives by Tuck Morgan and Laura Cruz. Pitch Dark tells the story of a lost spaceship (USS John Muir) that left Earth some 400 years ago thanks to a mass evacuation from Earth and other factors I'll not spoil for you. The Muir, loaded with all sorts of amazing stuff, drifted in space for 400 years before its inhabitants, like Tuck, were awakened by a faulty AI who runs the ship.

22 months later, Tuck and other survivors attempt to right their dying ship, and stay alive by diving deep into areas over taken by pretty dangerous monsters. Tuck is also one of the curators onboard responsible the overall maintenance and whatever else needs to be done to keep the ship alive. That means facing mutant creatures called griefers who use harmonic resonance to find their prey, and the Mourners who were once humans. With no hope of being rescued, it becomes a life or death struggle to get where you need to be.  

Meanwhile, onboard (SS Panam) nearby, Laura Cruz is from a shipraiding family of archaeologists who are attempting to recover lost treasures from Earth. One of their discoveries is the Muir which may hold the answer to saving existing colonies. She desperately works to rid herself of the very thing that threatens her free will so she can warn her family of the dangers on board, when a hacker overrides her attempts and crashes their ship into the John Muir causing a cross between the past, Tuck, and the future, Laura. 

Tuck and Laura couldn't be more different. Tuck loves to use pop culture references from the 80's, including Doctor Who, while Laura has immersed herself in the latest technology while looking forward to a career as an archaeologist on her own merits, not just her family's. Tuck has major issues, and therefore uses comedy and sarcasm as a crutch. He truly believes he has nothing to lose. Laura is impulsive, adventurous, brilliant, and strong willed. Put the two characters together and you have a dynamic duo, who, by the way, never once asked any of the adults, including Laura's parents, for help when kimchee was hitting the fan and things looked their bleakest. 

I found the ending to be lacking. Sorry, but that's just the way I feel. I don't like preaching novels, and the author definitely tried to use the ending to send a message about something or the other that I totally ignored until I got to the final page. I also found the lack of secondary characters onboard the Muir to be shocking. Yes, Tuck is a loner. Yes, he does have issues with good reasons if you actually read the book. But, there are those who actually could have stepped in and helped had he just asked. Why didn't Tuck tell Laura's parents what was happening to Laura and who was to blame? These things lowered my overall rating.  

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27414411-pitch-dark?ac=1&from_search=true#other_reviews



Thursday, November 29, 2018

#Review - Realm of Ruins by Hannah West #YALit #Fantasy

Series: The Nissera Chronicles #2
Format: Hardcover, 464 pages
Release Date: December 4, 2018
Publisher: Holiday House
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

Valory’s power is different…it’s dangerous, unruly, and destructive. Can she channel it to crush a cunning enemy and save the realm from chaos? Dark magic and romance make the latest installment in the Nissera Chronicles a page-turning read.

Welcome to Nissera, land of three kingdoms and home to spectacular magic.

A century after her legendary ancestors overcame a bloodthirsty tyrant, seventeen-year-old Valory Braiosa attends a training academy for elicromancers, immortal beings with magical gifts. Yet Valory’s immense power seems impossible to tame, and she faces imprisonment by the Nisseran authorities. Then a forbidden resurrection spell awakens a long-dormant evil, and Valory may be the only one who can vanquish this terrifying villain. Together with a band of allies—including an old friend; a haughty princess; and a mysterious, handsome stranger—Valory must learn to harness her power and fight back.

Weaving together her imaginative world of magic with snippets from Beauty and the Beast and other classic stories, Hannah West’s gritty adventure is a thrilling, immersive companion to her acclaimed debut. Read this first and then discover the rest of Nissera or start with Kingdom of Ash and Briars—either way, you’ll love the journey.

 



Hannah West's Realm of Ruins is the companion novel to Kingdom of Ash and Briars. The story takes place 100 years after Kingdom of Ash and Briars so, no, you won't find any of the original characters making any sort of guest appearances. West introduces readers to a new heroine, 17-year old Valory Braiosa. Valory is a direct descendant of Bristal, the heroine of the first installment. The installment which first introduced readers to the immortal elicromancers and the Water which grants immortality & elicrin stones to the one who the water chooses.

Valory attends a training academy for elicromancers. Even though she is at the top of her class is almost every subject, Valory hasn’t felt any magic of her own. She's taunted, teased, and bullied non-stop by fellow students. Being surrounded by a family who has a lot of magical power, she feels a bit like she doesn’t fit in. After all, the rest of her family is immortal and has been chosen by the water. On the day of her 17th birthday, Valory's world is turned upside down in one breathless moment. Valory follows her cousin Ivria to the water where things go horribly wrong. 

After the Water seemingly vanishes after she touches it trying to save Ivria, she's accused of murdering her own cousin who she loved like a sister and destroying the water which grants immortality to the chosen. With only a few people, including King Tiernan, believing her story, Valory faces challenges from the Conclave, The Realm Alliance, and even those who are supposed to have her back. The issue is that Valory has somehow managed to return with an unknown power. A power that may either be her savior, or her damnation.

Valory soon finds out that she isn't safe anywhere and the slightest misstep or mistake has grave consequences including releasing something evil that has been hidden away for a thousand years. Valory's band of allies include an old friend (Kadri); a haughty princess (Glisette Lorenthi); a mysterious, handsome stranger (Mercery Fye) plus several Fae (Rynna & Theslyn) as they attempt to put the genie back in the bottle. Valory must learn to harness her impressive new powers and fight back against an evil who appears to have no weaknesses.

Valory's character growth is rather impressive. She goes from a girl who wishes she could have magic, to a girl who is given the most powerful magic in the entire world. The magic makes her a force to be reckoned with, and the ability to standing up to villains and even her own family. She isn't perfect, and I am absolutely Ok with that fact. She struggles along the way, but she has belief that she can save those she loves with a little luck, and some good friends who have her back. The story doesn't lack for action. It is well paced, and the ending was absolutely the best part of this entire book.

In closing, I don't think you need to read the first installment in this series. I also don't hink you need to read the short novella that the author has written to coincide with the first installment. None of the characters from the first book are around any longer. Stay focused on the story, the world building, and the impressive list of secondary characters.



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36974805-realm-of-ruins?ac=1&from_search=true#other_reviews



Wednesday, November 28, 2018

#Review - Once a King by Erin Summerill #YALit #Fantasy

Series: A Clash of Kingdoms Novel
Format: E-Galley, 464 pages
Release Date: December 4, 2018
Publisher: HMH Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

A young king searches for a way to save his kingdom in this romantic fantasy from Erin Summerill, who was called “absolutely marvelous” by New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas.

Aodren: A lonely, young king, searching for a way to dismantle his father’s dark legacy.
Lirra: A girl with the power to control the wind, torn between duty and following her dreams

For twenty years, Channelers—women with a magical ability—have been persecuted in Malam by those without magic. Now King Aodren wants to end the bloody divide and unite his kingdom. But decades of hatred can’t be overcome by issuing decrees, and rumors of a deadly Channeler-made substance are only fueling people’s fears. Lirra has every reason to distrust Aodren. Yet when he asks for help to discover the truth behind the rumors, she can’t say no. With Lirra by his side, Aodren sees a way forward for his people. But can he rewrite the mistakes of the past before his enemies destroy the world he’s working so hard to rebuild? Erin Summerill returns with a high-stakes fantasy full of romance, magic, and revenge perfect for fans of Susan Dennard and C. J. Redwine.




Once A King, by author Erin Summerill, is the third installment in the authors Clash of Kingdoms series. For those who have not read Ever the Hunted, or Ever the Brave, this story actually takes place shortly after the end of the second book in the series. The story is told through the split narratives of Lirra Barrett and Malam King Aodren, both of whom have unique personalities that totally come through. The chemistry between Aodren and Lirra is electric. Readers will love their building tension and slow-burn romance.

Aodren is a character who readers will have met in the first two installments in this series. In fact, he had a sort of relationship with Britta Flannery who has since exited this series stage left to enjoy her happy ever after. Lirra and Aodren also have a history which I won't spoil for you since you can read the book and figure it out yourself. He is a young king who is trying to do whatever he can to fix the problems that were started by his father, and continued by a Regent who hated Channeler's and wanted to remove them from his country. 

Aodren has struggles to move his country forward. His country is still deeply divided, and there are those who still don't trust the Channeler's who have access to the five elemental magics. There is also a strange new black market version of a healing potion which is only supposed to be found in one country in particular. If that weren't enough, this year is the All Kingdom Summit which takes place every 5 years. Aodren hopes that he can convince those from Shaerdan, and other countries to open up their trade to his country and that he is absolutely set on rewriting the past mistakes of his country. 

Lirra is known as the Archtraitors Daughter and is well versed in espionage, and knowing the right people. She is a Channeler who uses wind magic and was instrumental in helping save the day alongside Britta in Ever the Brave. Lirra has been living in Shaerdan since her father took her away from Malam after her mother was killed. Lirra's father sells secrets to the highest bidder, which doesn't exactly make him popular, but he's trustworthy enough that Aodren asks for his help which leads to Lirra's involvement in a stunning mystery where the villain can be anyone. 

Lirra finds herself working side by side with Aodren to uncover the mystery behind the fake Sanguine hitting the trading routes and causing so much animosity that it is clear someone is trying to destroy Malam and its King. The chemistry between Aodren and Lirra is electric. Readers will love their building tension and slow-burn romance. This story is the perfect combination of political intrigue, mystery, and action as Aodren races to find the truth before it's too late, and Lirra finds herself up to her hip in intrigue, suspense, and a future that she wants, not one that is to follow in her father's footsteps. 
 


CHAPTER
1

LIRRA
I LEAN AGAINST THE DUSTY ELEMENTIARY SHELF crammed with books and jars of animal bits, and stare at my father’s letter. His nearly indecipherable scratch strikes me with swift disappointment. Gods, the All Kingdoms’ Summit happens only every five years. It’s not as if Da hasn’t had time enough to arrange his schedule. The remainder of Da’s message is blocked by another letter. It’s sealed in my father’s wax and addressed to someone named AC.
My heartbeat slogs through my ears, muting the chatter of mismatched accents and clatter of carriage wheels outside the Elementiary. What a fool I am for thinking this time Da’s priorities would include something other than business. Having worked for my father for five years, I know better than to be hurt by this news. Just as I know, without reading further, Da needs me to deliver the letter to AC.
I suppose it also shouldn’t be surprising that there’s no note here for the littleuns or Eugenia, my stepmother and worrier extraordinaire. Overwhelmed by black-market trade and valuable secrets, Da tends to forget all else.
“Lirra, you done?” Orli’s clipped tone echoes from the other side of the shelf.
I fold Da’s letter, intending to finish it later, and squeeze my fingers along the parchment seam. One, two, three sharp slides.
“Almost,” I call out, and shove the now-empty box back into concealment behind a jar of rat tails. To maintain our family’s anonymity and safety, Da sends correspondences here for me to retrieve in secret. He trusts few people more than Astoria, the Elementiary owner and my former magic teacher.
“What’d he write?” Orli asks when I come into view.
My best friend is standing by the door, trapped in a stream of dusty light, right hand strangling the doorknob, the usual tawny tone leached from her knuckles. Despite her unease with Channeler magic, she’s accompanied me here every week since Da left.
“He won’t be returning for a while.” I pick at the broken seal.
“You mean he’ll miss the start of the tournament, right? He’ll return for the jubilee and the other summit festivities.”
I shake my head.
Raven brows shoot up. “He’s going to miss your jubilee performance?”
My nail wedges under the last bit of red wax and frees it from the parchment. “Aye.”
Astoria has one hand on her cane and the other clutching a pile of books, going about business as she usually does whenever I slip inside the Elementiary to pick up Da’s mail. She ambles out of the backroom to her desk, where she deposits the stack. I’m not entirely sure she’s noticed me until she lifts an age-spotted finger to shove her spectacles higher and then points to the letter in my hand. “Not what you were hoping?”
I slip it into my satchel and force a smile. “That’s the way it is with Da’s business.”
“Oh, dear girl.” She frowns. “And it’s your first year entering the jubilee.”
The sadness magnified in her watery blue eyes sours my mood.
My gaze drops to the ring of dirt darkening the hem of my day dress.
There’s a shuffle thump of steps on the wood floors, and then Astoria’s arms come around me, squeezing me to her wonderfully round body.
“Your da knows it’s important to you.” The love she radiates makes me feel like a cat basking in the sun. “He’d be there if he could.”
Astoria has been Da’s friend and closest confidant since before my birth. She offered us a safe place to hide at her home in Shaerdan after we escaped Malam’s Purge—the Channeler eradication that would have seen me killed for my magic ability. We have lived near her ever since. She understands Da better than anyone, but I don’t want to hear her talk him up right now.
“She knows,” Orli says. “All set to go, Lirra?” Her desperation to leave the Channeler school is as potent as the scent of lavender here.
“You don’t have to leave so soon.” Astoria returns to her desk. “Come away from that door and sit down.”
“We need to run by the docks. Getting through all the visitors’ carriages will take time.” Orli points to the blown-glass windows. Outside, a rainbow of fabric has assaulted Shaerdan’s capital city of Celize. Passersby wear their kingdoms’ colors like a shield. Usually, the northern edge of town, where the cliffs climb up from the docks, sees little traffic. Travelers have invaded all of my hometown, even the quiet roads stretching east into farmlands and forests. Scores of people from the four neighboring kingdoms have been arriving for days in anticipation of the All Kingdoms’ Summit and festivities—the Channeler Jubilee, the Tournament of Champions, and the Kingdoms’ Market.
“Orli is right,” I say. “We need extra time to look at the crowds.” I have things to pick up for my jubilee exhibit that can’t wait until tomorrow.
Astoria fiddles with the wrist button of her dress sleeve. “See you next week?”
I nod, even though it’s uncertain if she’s referring to the jubilee showcase or my next mail visit. My head is stuck on a memory from five years ago. At the last jubilee, Da and I watched from the sidelines. Channelers from across the kingdoms showed displays of magic. Breathless and awed, I confessed my dream to perform at the next jubilee.
Next week’s jubilee.
Da said he wouldn’t miss it for all the world.
Silence is the sweetest sound in the Barrett home, and such a rare thing to be had. It’s alarming how loud the boards creak underfoot as Orli and I sneak inside the back door, both of us carrying packages from the dock market. Packages that could be easily snapped in half by my younger brothers’ grubby fingers.
“Where is everyone?” Orli mouths.
I shake my head. The kitchen is filled with the usual mess, minus my family. Dirty dishrags lie heaped in a pile on Grandmother’s table beside a discarded, half-finished drawing of a pig—or an owl. I cannot tell. A stale odor lingers in the air like a haunt of last night’s leek-and-carrot soup. And then there’s the crock of Eugenia’s morning pottage, still sitting on the sooty hearth.
“Eugenia?” Never one to miss a Monday service, my stepmother drags the littleuns to the cathedral on the cliff each week as penance for Da’s profession.
No one answers.
I abandon my protective crouch around the wrapped wooden dowels. “The carriages on the road must’ve slowed her travel.”
“Do you think it’s odd that Eugenia will make peace over Millner’s sins and then spend his earnings the next day?” Orli asks as we head down the hall toward the attic ladder that hangs in a permanent lowered position.
“When you talk about my da’s business like that, it sounds wicked.”
“It’s not exactly saintly. Your father sells secrets to the highest bidder. Not produce or pelts.”
“He’s an information trader.” I shrug off her comment, not eager to discuss my father.
Orli’s head falls back, and she explodes with laughter. “That’s a new one. Though a bit much for Millner Barrett. Maybe something like high ruler of the black market would be more accurate.”
I laugh. At least she didn’t call him Archtraitor, the infamous title he earned for defying the Malamian regent, evading capture, and building a secretive life in Shaerdan. It gets under my skin.
“My point is, she repents one day and spends his money the next.” Orli follows me up to the attic room. She flops on my bed while I sit on the floor and arrange the dowels from largest to smallest. “It doesn’t make sense.”
Was that a note of irritation? I leave the packages lined up like soldiers before their captain. “What’s this about?”
Gone is the easy smile she wore after leaving the Elementiary. Was today too much for her? Were the crowds overwhelming?
“I know what you’re thinking, and that’s not it.” Orli slides her dark braids out of her face. “It’s nothing. Forget I said anything.”
“Nothing is nothing.”
“That makes no sense.”
I pinch her toe. “It means if something’s important to you, it’s important to me. No secrets.”
She points to the packages. “Don’t you want to finish unwrapping those before your brothers get home?”
I don’t even glance down. “Subject change? Beginner’s move. You know I have more self-control than that.”
She guffaws. “A fox in a henhouse has more self-control than you.”
“Exaggeration.”
“Is it?” A little light brightens her stormy eyes. “I’m sore over Eugenia’s soil order, is all. Satisfied?”
“The one for cabbage?” Wasn’t that weeks ago?
“You know how the growing season is. Mum hasn’t been able to enhance the soil.” Late spring to summer means increased hours on Orli’s family farm. Especially for her mum, who earns extra money by selling magic-infused soil for growing vibrant, pest-resistant plants. Altering the soil drains her energy, a cost all Channelers pay, which slows production.
“Has Eugenia been pestering her?” Even though Eugenia isn’t a Channeler, she knows Channelers need time to restore energy.
I tear the packaging off the dowels to feel their notched ends, all sanded to a silken texture. The largest dowel, balanced on my open palm, is impossibly light. Almost weightless. The wood’s scent is balsa and musk. A humid summer day and freedom.
“It’s my mum.” Orli’s tiptoe-quiet response brings me back to the room. “She wants me to fill Eugenia’s order. She thinks I’m ready.”
“What do you think?”
She doesn’t answer. A year ago, Orli was kidnapped as part of an attempted coup in Malam. The former regent was intent on siphoning magic from Channelers and combining the stolen energy into the ultimate weapon to use against the young king. I was part of the effort to rescue her, and ever since, Orli has been plagued with nightmarish memories and constant fears. It took months before she was able to leave her farm and venture into public. But she has yet to use her Channeler magic.
“I would help, but all I’m good for is blowing dirt around your farm.” I nudge her knee.
Channelers have influence over one energy—land, air, fire, water, or spirit. Orli and her mother have the ability to manipulate the land, while I can harness the wind.
“That’s all you’re good for?” Orli rolls her eyes.
“It’d have to be a small pile. Dirt’s heavy.”
“You’re full of hot air, you know that?”
“Better than dirt in the ears.”
We both laugh, never too old for Channeler puns.
“Truthfully,” Orli says, more serious. “All you’ve done this year is impressive.”
Does she realize she’s come far this year too? I open my mouth to tell her as much, but she cuts me off. “Don’t be modest. I wasn’t even referring to what you did for me.” Her voice cracks with emotion.
My throat burns too. Dammit.
“I’d do it again,” I whisper, knowing exactly how hard it was to find her. To free her.
Orli rubs her eyes, and then shoves me in the leg and adds an annoyed look. “Don’t make me teary. I’d do the same for you, fool.”
I know she would.
She scoots off the bed and sits cross-legged on the floor. “What I’m trying to say is what you’ve done with your gliders is a big deal. You use your magic in a different way than we grew up learning. Everything we created was from our energy. Like my mum and the soil. She has to sacrifice herself for every batch of stupid dirt. But your gliders are different.”
“I use my magic to make them,” I say, confused.
“No, you use magic to test them. To see if they’ll fly.”
This much is true. I wanted to build a contraption that would allow my brothers to glide in the sky without me having to conjure wind.
“Anyone, Channeler or giftless, can follow your pattern and make their own glider. You’re going to show people a new way of looking at Channelers. Maybe they’ll even see that we shouldn’t be feared.”
She’s exaggerating. But . . .
“Maybe, hopefully, it’ll inspire a few people,” I say, though the possibility makes me feel like I’ve ingested a swarm of lightning bugs.
A door slams in the house, and a herd of elk rumbles through the hallway below. Eugenia shouts, “Not inside!”
“Sorry, Mum!” I hear my brothers say before the stampede alters course.
I rush to rewrap the dowels and hide them under my bed. “Do you want me to talk to her about the soil? Or are you ready?” I hate pressuring Orli, but she has to use her magic again one day. May as well be helping her mum and Eugenia.
“I’ll figure something out. I’ll be fine.” Her expression shutters closed.
She thinks my winged inventions will change how people see Channelers. Maybe she’s right. But what will it take to inspire her? To prove that her magic isn’t to be feared?
I go downstairs to greet Eugenia in the kitchen and find her plucking dirty rags off the table.
“Any word from your da?” she asks.
“No.” It’s better not to mention he wrote me about business. When Da is working, Eugenia likes to pretend he’s just taking a trip to visit friends. She won’t acknowledge his methods of collecting and profiting off secrets if she can help it.
“Do you think he’s all right?”
“He’s been gone for longer stretches, and he always returns safely.” I’ve become adept at managing Eugenia’s worry.
Her hands knot in a dishrag. “Right. Of course. I’m sure he’ll return for the festiv—”
The rear door smacks against the wall, startling us both. The twins race inside, skidding into their mother’s feet.
Eugenia drops the rag, and screeches. “Boys!”
Despite her runny emotions, she lunges for them as they try to scramble away. Loren bangs into the table and upends a chair. Kiefer hunkers beside the hutch.
“What has gotten into you two?”
“Sorry, Mum,” the boys chant.
“We don’t run in the home. Look at this dirt. I just swept the floor, and now I’ll have to do it again.”
Loren rubs his hip. “Wasn’t running, Mum. Just some quick moving.”
“Save your quick movement for outdoors. Hear me?”
“But what of Lirra?”
“What about me?” I ask.
Loren’s smile switches into something sly, like a youthful image of Da, all dimpled tanned cheeks, stocky frame, and windblown curls the color of wet driftwood. I’ve always longed to look more like them instead of a reminder of my mum, with nearly black hair so thick it could be roof thatching.
“Lirra does whatever she pleases.” Loren turns pathetic cow eyes on Eugenia. “She don’t follow rules.”
If only that were true.
“And I’ve seen her run in the house.”
Little toad. “You have not.”
“Have too.”
I turn to Eugenia for support. Working for Da requires living by another set of rules, something Eugenia knows even if she doesn’t like it.
“You don’t go to church.” Loren points at me. “You sneak out at night. And sometimes you go around with mud on your face. Mum always makes us wash our faces. Doesn’t she, Kief?”
Kiefer, the more silent twin, peeks around the hutch. “I seen mud on Lirra.”
“Get back in your hiding spot,” I growl at him before spinning to face Loren. “Don’t pull me into this. You were foolish enough to get caught, so say you’re sorry already.”
He starts to complain, and Eugenia silences him with a look. The boys rush toward freedom in the shape of the back door. That’s when I notice the specks.
Specks coating their trousers.
Specks on Loren’s boots.
Specks that look an awful lot like wood shavings?
“Stop! Where have you two been?”
“Outside.” Loren smirks over his shoulder.
“Where outside?”
“The shed.”
“Which. Shed.” My nostrils flare.
Kiefer cringes.
“Lirra, let them go,” Eugenia says.
My glider wings are in that shed. If the boys touched them . . . “Tell me. Or this week at the summit festivities, I’ll find the she-pirate, Song the Red, and pay her to sail you to Kolontia. The north is terribly cold. So cold that men and boys lose toes and feet and even legs. How fast will you run without legs, hmm, Loren? Tell me now—woodshed or my shed?”
“Yours,” Kiefer blurts. His cherry cheeks turn pale pear green. “We only wanted a peek.”
“We didn’t touch nothing, promise.” Loren presses his hands together in a prayer. “Spare me legs, Lir.”
I hold in a smile. “Keep your stubby limbs for now, Loren. But if you—”
Eugenia scoots them out the door. “Don’t be hard on them.”
“They need to keep their dirty hands off my things.”
“What do you expect, Lirra? They look up to you, and you run around breaking rules as if you’ve no responsibilities.”
“No responsibilities?” Anger twists through me faster than the twin tornados could destroy my stuff. “My responsibilities force me to break rules. My job for Da requires it.”
She yanks a pin out of her bun, and her hair topples like a bird’s nest breaking apart. “Don’t pretend to be dedicated to your da’s work when you spend all your time on gliders.”
I gape at her, wounded by the insinuation. My family matters most. If Da asked me to pay more attention to his business, I’d do it. But he doesn’t ask. He doesn’t include me in every deal. He doesn’t share all his secrets, as much as I’d like him to.
“What of your dedication?” I stomp to the window and point at the carriage parked inside the barrier of trees concealing our home. “Every week you visit the cathedral and make penance. Maybe instead of praying so much, you should notice how hard Da works for you. For the family.”
Eyes widen over a stone expression. “Nonsense. You’re angry because the boys were curious. I understand that, but you cannot blame them. Your contraptions look like children’s toys.”
Children’s toys? Will the jubilee organizers think my glider is child’s play too?
My fingernails dig crescents into my palms. “Was it curiosity when they broke your Plovian vase? The vase you insisted Da buy with his black-market money? Don’t be a hypocrite.” It comes out like spat venom.
Last year the twins knocked over the vase. Eugenia was shattered. That same colorless devastation overtakes her expression now.
A baby’s cry peals from the hallway.
I bite my vindictive lip. “I—I shouldn’t have said that.”
“Julisa’s awake.” Eugenia gives me a look of defeat and leaves.
I return to where Orli is waiting for me in the attic, my chest stuffy and hot with frustration. And shame.
It’s not her fault that Da is gone. Or that he takes on too much work and doesn’t allow me to help manage the load. He has me deliver messages to informants, listen to private conversations, and track people’s habits, but he never asks for more. He tries to manage most of the work alone.
Loren and Kiefer are too young to help, and I doubt Eugenia would let them get involved in Da’s business even if they were older. I’m the only one he can lean on. It’s up to me to help him. Eugenia is right. I should be focusing on Da’s letter, not my gliders.
“Whoa, what happened?” Orli watches me climb the ladder. “You look ready to practice dagger throwing on a live target.”
I dig through my satchel for the letter. I peel it open and remove the letter to AC.
Hullo Beetle,
I’ll not be returning in time for the summit.
The rest of the page is blank.
“This cannot be all there is.” I flip it over. Da would never use this much parchment for so short a note, or ask me to deliver a letter with no instructions. His message must be here, hidden.
Orli peers over my shoulder and hums to herself.
I trace the blank page. “I wonder if he used a blood charm. Da’s never used one before. Blood charms are illegal, and even if they weren’t, they’re hard to come by,” I say, remembering what Astoria taught us. “But it would explain why there are no words.”
She releases a shuddery breath and taps the letter. “Right. And we are talking about Millner.”
“I guess there’s only one way to find out.” I pull a dagger from my boot.
Orli sits on the bed, trembling fingers sliding under her thighs. “Go on.”
I hate that magic makes her uncomfortable. But I have to know what Da wrote. I sink the blade’s tip into the fleshy pad of my finger. A crimson drop bubbles from my skin and drips onto the ivory parchment, fanning out as it seeps into the surface.
Hullo Beetle,
I’ll not be returning in time for the summit.
If you’re reading this, you figured out the blood charm. The following job must be completed immediately and privately. As you can tell, secrecy is of greatest importance.
To fulfill an agreement I’ve made with the king of Malam, you must deliver the enclosed letter to him. Don’t curse. I know this assignment will displease you, but it must be done.
The king’s letter has also been sealed with a blood charm. You’ll find nothing there if you attempt to peek. Please explain to King Aodren how these types of charms are activated. The man’s Channeler knowledge is in the budding stage.
Deliver the letter before the summit is underway. It cannot be late. Tell no one and go unseen.
Give my love to Eugenia, the boys, and Julisa.
Love, Da
“Bloody stars.”
I’m not displeased. I’m furious.
What deal has my father made? King Aodren cares nothing for Channelers. Hell, his kingdom has encouraged the hunting of Channelers for the last twenty years. This is why my father and I were forced to flee Malam and live in Shaerdan. King Aodren may have ended the Purge Proclamation, the horrific law that was responsible for the deaths of countless Channelers in Malam for the last twenty years, but he did so out of desperation. Last year, King Aodren needed the Channelers Guild, the governing women who oversee all Channelers in the five kingdoms, to save his life and help stop a plot to usurp the throne.
My efforts to save Orli caused my path to cross Aodren’s. I was the one who introduced him to the Guild, and I even saved his life in battle. But has he ever expressed his gratitude for either?
No. Not at all. Ungrateful lout of a king.
King Aodren cares only about himself.
Da has all sorts of unsavory business associates, and though I dislike it, it’s not so shocking to discover King Aodren is a new one. Royal coin is as good as commoner coin. What I don’t understand, however, is why the king of Malam needs help from Da, ruler of the underground.
I press my fist to the sudden bloom of ache in my belly. I want to forget this request and finish my glider. But Eugenia’s comment earlier nags me. Da needs me. And maybe this is the way to finally prove he can rely on me.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37570601-once-a-king?ac=1&from_search=true#other_reviews



Tuesday, November 27, 2018

#Review - Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao #YALit #Fantasy

Series: RISE OF THE EMPRESS (#1)
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Philomel Books
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy 

An epic YA fantasy for fans of Stealing Snow and Snow White and the Huntsman. Set in the mystical Far East, this reimagining of The Evil Queen legend is about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress—and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng (pronounced She-fung) is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her.

Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of greatness too high? To claim her place beside the Emperor, Xifeng must cast aside Wei, the young man who has longed to marry her since childhood. And darker still, she will have to embrace the callous magic that runs through her veins—magic fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed—for the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is complete.

Set in an East Asian-inspired fantasy world filled with both breathtaking pain and beauty, FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS possesses all the hallmarks of masterful fantasy—dazzling magic, heartbreaking romance, and a world that hangs in the balance.




Julie C. Dao's Rise of the Empress is a re-imagining of the evil queen legend from Snow White, unearthing the original works’ themes of vanity, ambition, and power in a gripping story all its own. Having been told her whole life that she is beautiful and one day she will become Empress by her overbearing & abusive aunt Guma, Xifeng seizes on her opportunity to run away with her love, Wei, to the Imperial City where she hopes to fulfill her destiny and become the next Empress. 

"She touched her face. 'This is how a woman plays the game. It makes men weak and forget they make the rules. She becomes the player and they the pawns.'"

One shouldn't feel one bit of sorrow for Xifeng. She's a ruthless, vicious protagonist willing to claw her way to the throne leaving bodies behind in her wake. Xifeng knows that her beauty can't be tamed or surpassed by anyone. It is the one thing that she has over all of her so called competition. Between the current empress, consorts, concubines, and even the gossiping eunuchs, she shows no hesitation at stepping over as many bodies as it takes to become what her cards have told her she is fated to become. 

Dao has created a fantasy world featuring East Asian influences, particularly Chinese mythology, that is both beautiful and terrifying at every turn. This is no happily-ever-after story—instead, the book explores the power of love, but also those who choose to spurn romance because they see it as a burdensome weakness. The notion of beauty is explored in all its glory and ugliness—the ways in which beauty empowers the beautiful, the envy and scorn directed at them, and the corruptive effect it can have on one’s ego. From Adelina in Marie Lu’s The Young Elites to Eli and Victor in V.E. Schwab’s Vicious, Xifeng is the latest in a long, beloved line of brilliantly-constructed, morally-complex antiheroes.



Chapter 1

The procession stretched down the cobblestone road, a serpent made of men in red and gold, the Emperor’s colors. They marched forward, ignoring the slack-jawed townspeople gaping at the banner they carried: a dragon with a forest curled within its talon, the emblem of the royal house. A palanquin draped in scarlet silk appeared, resting on the shoulders of four men. People craned their necks to see the occu­pant, but caught only a tantalizing glimpse through the swaying curtain: blood-red lips, golden blossoms in shining hair, and robes that cost more than any of them would see in a lifetime.

“Another day, another concubine.” A bent old woman bared the three teeth she had left. “It seems he has a taste for pretty village girls. May blessings rain down upon him,” she added hastily, in case a soldier heard her criticize their sovereign.

“He must not discriminate by class when it comes to beauty,” another woman agreed. She was not as old as the first, but she was just as bent. Most of her weight rested on her good leg, while the other hung crookedly, like a dead branch. Her shrewd gaze moved from the pro­cession to the girl beside her.

She was not the only one looking at this girl. More than one soldier admired her as he marched by.

The girl wore tattered, faded clothing like everyone else. But she had a face like a painting: a perfect oval, with lotus lips blooming beneath a sweet stem of a nose. She appeared docile, virginal, but the eyes she lifted told a different story with their sparkle of intelligence. They were the kind of eyes that flashed from the shadows of a darkened room.

“He must not discriminate,” the woman said again. “What do you say to that, Xifeng?”

“I wish the Emperor joy, Guma. She must be special indeed if he chose her for his own,” the girl said respectfully, even as her coal-black eyes burned.

At the palace, slaves would bathe the young concubine’s feet in orange flower water. Every inch of her would smell like jasmine, and when the Emperor put his lips on her skin, he would know nothing of her hardship and poverty—the same hardship and poverty that coated Xifeng like sweat.

“She is no more special than you.” There was no love in Guma’s statement, just fact. But they were mere words, ones she had said for years. She shuffled closer and hooked a claw-like hand around Xifeng’s elbow. “Come. It may be silks and riches for her, but it’s back to the needles for us. Tonight, we will read the cards again,” she added as gently as she ever could.

Xifeng knew these rare glimpses of kindness from her aunt could be swept away the next minute by a dark mood. So she inclined her head in a show of grateful obedience, picking up the basket containing their meager purchases, and the pair trudged back home.

They lived a short distance from the center of town—rather a grand term for a muddy square. There, ragged farmers and crones with more brains than teeth hawked wares that had seen better days: maggoty vegetables, cracked pottery, dull knives, and cheap hemp fabric.

It had rained the night before, a torrential downpour of early spring that would be good for the rice and crops but had turned all else into a pungent soup of mud and debris. A few scrawny chickens ran by, a trail of droppings streaking behind them, as a woman emerged from a soggy cottage to scream at her brats.

Some days, Xifeng thought she would gladly watch this town burn. She ached to leave it all behind and never look back. To think she was trapped here forever, while the Imperial palanquin carried that other girl straight into the Emperor’s swan-feathered bed.

She felt Guma’s sharp eyes on her and took care to keep her face neutral. To show discontent was to rebuke her aunt for all the sacrifices she had made. After all, Guma had not been required to raise the bas­tard daughter of a sister who had shamed their family and killed herself. And despite being eighteen, Xifeng knew any small sign of displeasure would earn her a dozen stripes with the bamboo cane. She flinched inwardly, thinking of the scars on her back that had just begun to heal.

And then there he was, walking toward them, as though her thoughts had conjured him.

Wei. The reason for those scars.

His proud, shaven head was turned away, watching the innkeeper across the street argue with a customer. His features were sharper in profile, brutal and beautiful, and the other men gave him a wide berth as he cut through the crowd. With his shoulders like a bull, bare arms that rippled with muscle, and ferocious storm of a gaze, he was the living embodiment of war. But those large, capable hands, which now carried a stack of rusted swords to be repaired—Xifeng knew how gen­tle they could be. She remembered how they had felt on her skin and struggled not to shiver at the memory of it, because Guma’s clever eyes were still watching to see her reaction.

“What would you like for supper?” Xifeng kept her voice steady, as though she didn’t know the man approaching them at all.

Wei faced forward. He had noticed them now; her skin prickled with his awareness. She wondered if he would say something. He had an idea that because he was physically strong and Guma weak, he could overpower her and free Xifeng from her control forever. But there were different kinds of strength, and provoking Guma to release hers was the last thing they would want.

She patted her aunt’s tense arm as though there were no one else dearer to her in the world. “I could make a soup of these prawns. Or I could fry the turnips, if you prefer.”

And then the moment passed. Wei walked by without a word. Xifeng reserved her sigh of relief to release later when she was in the kitchen, alone.

“Do the prawns,” Guma said calmly. “They’re already beginning to smell.”

A few steps more, and they arrived home.

Xifeng’s grandparents had once owned the entire building with its handsome dark oak fa├žade and imposing doors carved with a phoenix rising. They had been successful tailors before the war, and Guma and her younger sister, Mingzhu, had grown up here. Xifeng found it more difficult to imagine Guma as a child than to picture the splendor that had long worn off these faded walls.

Despite the poor condition of the place, they had managed to rent the downstairs to a couple as a teahouse. Guma and Xifeng lived on the drafty upper floors with Ning, the girl they had hired to help them sew and embroider. She was waiting for them by the door, and though she was fifteen and scrawny, the glance she gave Wei’s hard, retreating back was that of a woman. It was not the first time Xifeng had caught her gawking at him, but she had never seen the girl’s longing so raw and sharp. She could practically feel the waves of lust radiating off her.

Xifeng felt something growl deep inside.

But before she could do or say anything, Guma released her arm and cracked a vicious slap across Ning’s face. “What are you doing there? I don’t pay you to stand idling and ogling,” she snapped as the girl touched her reddened cheek and sniffled. “Get back upstairs.”

Ning turned wet eyes to Xifeng before obeying, and though a note of pity rose up inside Xifeng, she remained silent. She knew that slap had been meant for her, but she had hidden her emotions so well that Guma had to vent her violence on the hired girl, like a teapot with built-up steam. She watched Ning slouch upstairs, both feeling sorry for her and thinking she deserved it if she thought she could steal Wei for herself.

But Xifeng’s relief was short-lived. Guma grasped her arm again, pinching hard enough to leave a bruise. Her face had begun to wrin­kle like a rotting pear, making her appear much older than her forty years. “Don’t think I don’t know you want the same thing from him,” she hissed, her sour breath filling Xifeng’s nostrils. “Don’t think I don’t know you still sneak around, no matter how many times I pull out that cane.”

Xifeng kept her eyes down, biting the inside of her cheek at the pain of Guma’s fingernails, hatred boiling within her. No matter how hard she worked and how obediently she behaved, she received only scorn and beatings in return.

“He’s not good enough for you, do you understand? You deserve better.” And though one hand still gripped Xifeng’s arm, the other gently stroked her cheek.

That simple gesture, one a mother might make toward her daughter, dissolved the hatred in an instant. Xifeng leaned into her touch, forget­ting the pain.

“Now help me upstairs, child.”

The upper level had always seemed an endless labyrinth to Xifeng, even now as a grown woman. Once, these chambers had been full of purpose. Dried flowers still littered the floor of one room, where years ago they had hung from the rafters above vats of boiling water, ready to be made into fabric dyes. Across the hall, wisps of thread still clung to abandoned looms, unwilling to relinquish the past. The large room at the back had housed an army of hired girls, whose quick, clever hands had embroidered endless lengths of silk for noblewomen.

But those days were long gone. Nowadays, they used only four rooms: two for sleeping, one for cooking, and one for eating and sew­ing. She led Guma to a stool in this last room, where Ning sulked and hemmed a square of cotton with blue-dyed thread.

“Mind your stitches,” Xifeng told her, earning a baleful glare.

Ning had come from one of the coastal villages, reeking of fish and poverty. Guma had hired her when she saw what she could do with a needle. Since then, the girl had become Xifeng’s shadow, the irritating younger sister she’d never had. Ning followed her, asking questions and imitating her movements, the way she spoke, and the style in which she arranged her hair. But there was a sense of competition, too, and Xifeng suspected the girl’s interests had shifted from trying to impress Guma to making Wei look at her the way he looked at Xifeng.

Ning darted a frightened glance at her, and Xifeng realized she had been staring. She turned away, draping a length of pale pink silk over Guma’s lap.

For weeks, they had been embroidering plum blossoms all over the fabric. Her aunt had sneered at the choice of color and design, which belied the humble origins of the lady who had commissioned the tunic for a banquet. Truly well-bred women preferred silks dyed darker col­ors, which cost more. But Xifeng thought wistfully that she would wear the cheapest of silks if it meant she too could enjoy herself at some festival.

“Go prepare the meal, and don’t be long about it,” Guma told her crossly. “We need to finish this in two days, and you’ve wasted too much time gawking at the new concubine.”

Xifeng held her tongue at this injustice. It was Guma who had want­ed to wait for the procession on this chilly spring morning, so she could compare her niece with the new addition to the Imperial harem.

“Was she beautiful?” Ning asked timidly.

“Of course,” Guma snapped, though she hadn’t seen any more of the woman than anyone else.
“Do you think the Emperor would choose an ugly girl like you to bear his children?”

Xifeng turned to hide her smile and carried the basket down the hall. Guma was right. Wei would never look at such a plain, moon-faced girl. Not when he had her.

But Ning didn’t choose to look the way she does,
Xifeng thought, with another twinge of pity. Any more than I did. She put a pot of water on to boil, gazing at her own reflection.

She had seen that face every day for eighteen years in the wash­basin. She never needed to open her mouth. She never needed to do much. All it took was stepping out with that face, and she would get a wink from the innkeeper, the best cut of meat from the butcher, and a pretty bead or two from the tradesmen in the square. One of them had even given her a pomegranate once. Wei had been furious when she told him, and would have made her throw it away if she hadn’t already brought it home to Guma.

“I don’t ask for these things,” she had protested, comparing it to his natural-born talent for metalworking. The town craftsman had hired him because he could shape a beautiful sword from the ugliest bronze. But still, Wei had been gruff and grim and unwilling to understand.

Perhaps the Emperor’s new concubine had been born with a face like hers. Lovelier, even, since it had won her a home in the Imperial Palace.

The water began to boil, and Xifeng turned away bitterly to sea­son the prawns. She sliced the last of the ginger and scallions, hoping their client would be satisfied with the pink silk and pay immediately. They couldn’t afford more vegetables until then, and eating plain rice—something they’d had to do many times in the past—always put Guma in a fearsome temper.

Xifeng carried the meal into the front room. They ate in peace, inter­rupted only once by Guma criticizing how she had cooked the prawns, and then worked until the sun went down.

She recited poetry as she worked, something Guma always required her to do. Her aunt had drummed into her head that poetry, calligraphy, and music marked a well-born lady, and so she had endured many a sleepless night to study. She would have resented it, had it not proven that Guma wanted and expected a better life for her.

The moon shines down upon us, beloved

The water a vast and eternal mirror
A voice whispers from every tender branch
Turn your face from the world’s apple-blossom fragility
And embrace this boundless night

Guma paused in the midst of stitching a plum blossom petal, her nostrils flaring. “Where did you learn that?” she demanded.

“From one of your volumes.” Xifeng gestured to a dusty stack of fad­ed texts in the corner, the meager remnants of her mother and aunt’s school days. She often marveled at the wealth her grandparents had possessed, to have afforded such things for mere daughters.

“Show it to me.”

The tone of her aunt’s voice made her put down the needle immedi­ately. Xifeng located the volume, one thinner and newer than the rest, and presented it to the older woman. Guma examined it, lips thinning as she ran her fingers over the unembellished back and turned it over to look at the title: Poems of Love and Devotion.

She hastily shoved the book back at Xifeng, as though it had burned her fingers. “Ning, isn’t it time you went to bed?”

Xifeng kept looking at her aunt as the girl put away her work and lit the red tallow candles. She hadn’t realized the sun had set until she felt the candlelight relieve her strained eyes. As soon as Ning was gone, she asked, “Did the poem remind you of something, Guma?”

Her aunt spoke often about the past—mostly to complain about the riches she had then that she didn’t have now—but rarely men­tioned her sister. All Xifeng knew of her mother was what she had been told only once: that Mingzhu had been beautiful and brainless and had gotten herself pregnant and abandoned by a nobleman. The pinched expression on Guma’s face suggested she was thinking of her now, but when she spoke, it had nothing to do with her.

“I know that poem. It was…told to me many years ago.” She licked her dry lips, her gaze flickering from the text to her niece with some­thing like terror.

Xifeng had seen that fear twice in her life: once, when Guma had hobbled home in a frenzy to shut all of the doors and windows without explanation, and again after she had woken from a nightmare of spiral­ing black snakes.

There was a long silence.

“It’s time to read the cards,” Guma said.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33958230-forest-of-a-thousand-lanterns#other_reviews



#Cover Blitz! Mallory McCartney's Queen To Ashes @MalMcCartney & @CleanReads_



Today Mallory McCartney and Rockstar Book Tours are revealing the cover and an exclusive content for QUEEN TO ASHES, her new Adult Fantasy Romance which releases January 8, 2019! Check out the awesome cover and enter the giveaway!

On to the reveal! 


Title: QUEEN TO ASHES (Black Dawn #2)
Author: Mallory McCartney
Pub. Date: January 8, 2019
Publisher: Clean Reads Publishing
Formats: eBook
Pages: ?
Find it: Goodreads

“You lived your entire life feeling like half of you was missing. Fight for the missing part. Fight for this.” 
Emory Fae has abandoned everything she thought she knew about her previous life on Earth. Stepping up to her role as Queen of Kiero she makes a startling sacrifice- feigning her allegiances to Adair Stratton, the man who murdered her parents and casted Kiero into ruin. Emory’s memories slowly piece together, and she soon realizes the Mad King may not be all he seems— and the man who was once best friend, may be fighting beneath the surface. 
With the King’s attention on her, can she buy Black Dawn Rebellion enough time to recuperate their forces? And when the times comes, will she be able to kill Adair, ending his tyranny and rising herself as the rightful Queen? Fighting to hide her secret, Emory navigates the brutal trials of the Mad King, trying not to lose herself in the process. 
Sequel to Black Dawn, now a bestselling series, the sparks are ignited, as Emory learns the cost of freedom, and her title. Will the rebels unite in time? A sinister force has spread across the land, stripping everyone bare- their betrayals, their secrets, their intentions. But above all, what will their decisions cost? By refusing to give in to the darkness, will Emory rise as Queen?


Renegade and Black Dawn will be available in the following #Vancouver area locations : Chapters Burnaby, Indigo Surrey, Chapters Coquitlam, Indigo West Vancouver, Indigo Granville (2505 Granville St) and Indigo Robson (1033 Robson St) in December!

Title: RENEGADE (Black Dawn 0.5)
Author: Mallory McCartney
Pub. Date: July 3, 2018
Publisher: Clean Reads Publishing
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 274
Find it: Amazon, B&N, TBD, Goodreads

“The time for Kiero’s reign in prosperity is over.”
Six years before the Black Dawn Rebellion, Adair Stratton and Emory Fae are following in their parent’s footsteps and living at The Academy, a home for those who are gifted. The pressure to uphold the future of their parent’s dream falls on them. An outcast and feared by most, Adair longs to break away from the expectations dictating his future. Even if Emory tries to make him see differently. An unexpected group of friends keep him there, but as whispers of unexplained disappearances start reaching from the capital, Adair starts to doubt The Academy is all it seems.
An unexpected visit ignites new tensions as the roguish king from across the Black Sea, Tadeas Maher of the Shattered Isles, and his heir, Marquis Maher sail to Kiero. Notorious for their pirating and wrath- for the first time in years, they demand the Fae’s listen to their proposition for a new treaty, holding the news of Nei’s father’s abrupt death over them. Caught in the middle of politics- Adair and Emory, with the help of their best friends Brokk and Memphis search for the one thing that matters most- finding out the truth.
In this gripping prequel to Black Dawn, their world is tipped upside down as unlikely alliances are made. War ravages through Kiero and is torn apart by acclaimed Kings. Through the throes of betrayal, lies, hidden magic and love, Adair is faced with a life changing decision- to fight or to bow to the darkness within him.

Title: BLACK DAWN (Black Dawn #1)
Author: Mallory McCartney
Release Date: February 14, 2017
Publisher: Clean Reads Publishing
Pages: 352
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Find it: Amazon, B&N, TBD, Goodreads

Emory Fae enjoys leading a quiet, normal life. That is until two mysterious, and handsome soldiers show up at her apartment, and the life she knew is instantly whisked away. Memphis Carter and Brokk Foster come from the magical and war ridden world of Kiero, and bringing Emory back she will discover she is the long lost heir to the Royal Line and is thrown into the Black Dawn Rebellion with a dynamic role to ignite the rebels and reclaim her throne.
With both men being darkly woven in her past Emory uncovers hidden secrets, a power held long dormant, and will soon realize there are worse things than supernatural humans, love, loss, betrayal, and a Mad King.
Some things are better left in the shadows.


About Mallory:

Mallory McCartney is the author of the bestselling Black Dawn series. She currently lives in Sarnia, Ontario with her husband and their three dachshunds Link, Lola and Leonard. When she isn’t working on her next novel or reading, she can be found day dreaming about fantasy worlds and hiking. Other favorite pastimes involve reorganizing perpetually overflowing bookshelves and seeking out new coffee and dessert shops.








Giveaway Details:
One lucky winner will receive an eBook of QUEEN TO ASHES, International.

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