Friday, January 18, 2019

On My Shelf: Taste The Heat by: Rachel Harris

On My Shelf is a feature I started here on the blog and I'm sure there are a ton of similar ones out there, but basically I just wanted to start spotlighting some of the MANY backlist titles I have accumulated on my shelf and kindle. The idea is to spotlight an older book I have on my massive TBR. I also thought it would be a fun way to discuss these books with my fellow bloggers, get some of your thoughts and figure out which ones I need to read ASAP and which ones can wait a bit more. And if you want to join in too, I would love to see what is on your shelf! Just leave me a link in the comments.


This one has been sitting on my kindle forever. I think I grabbed it during one of the Entangled sales. I believe it even had the old cover when I bought it, that's how long it has been sitting on my kindle. It just sounded so cute and sweet and right up my alley, but as always there is just always so much to choose from!

So tell me. Have you read it? Did you love it? Hate it? Was it meh?


Thursday, January 17, 2019

Mini Review: Through Blood, Through Fire (Ghosts Of The Shadow Market #8) by: Cassandra Clare & Robin Wasserman

Release Date: November 13, 2018
from Shadow Market Enterprises
Goodreads | Amazon


"Jem Carstairs and Tessa Gray are finally united after waiting over a century to be together, but they become aware a dark threat is looming over a child of the Shadow Market: a lost Herondale, from a line of Herondales who have used the Market to hide from their fellow Nephilim. Now is the time for the lost Herondale to be discovered. Jem and Tessa have to find him before his enemies can."

My Thoughts:

So many answers! It was great to finally get some answers concerning Kit and that poor boy definitely has some shocks coming his way. I can’t wait to see how all the things we’ve learned throughout these novellas plays out in later books. I also loved all the Jem and Tessa and it really makes my heart happy seeing them together. They deserve one another and deserve to be happy. Will would be so happy looking down on them seeing his two favorite people finally find some happiness after so long. But with what I know now and what I learned in Lord Of Shadows, I am so so nervous for those two. They need to be left alone, they have already suffered enough! But anyway. I loved this novella and it was great. This has been a great collection of stories and I loved getting these novellas to help with the wait for Queen Of Air And Darkness.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Waiting On Wednesday #282: Soul In Darkness by: Wendy Higgins

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine
It spotlilghts upcoming releases that we are dying to read.

Add To Goodreads
"People travel from afar to the small isle in the Aegean Sea hoping for a single glimpse of Princess Psyche. Their adoration for the mortal woman is so all-consuming that citizens begin to shower her with the very gifts and offerings they once left at the alter of Venus, goddess of love and beauty. 

But gods are known for their jealousy.

Cupid, the god of love, takes pleasure in causing strife and mischief in the lives of humans. He uses love as a weapon, humoring in the weakness of people at the whims of their feelings. When his mother Venus approaches him about punishing the human girl who dares to steal her offerings and affections from the people, Cupid gladly accepts. 

Psyche's punishment is to be given to a mysterious creature who only comes to her in the dark of night under the pact that she will never lay eyes on him. She is terrified of this stranger, who the oracle described as a serpent. Her mate, however, is masterful in his dealings with his bride. He takes his time, morphing her fears into different sensations completely. 

Based on the Roman/Greek mythology of Cupid and Psyche by Lucius Apuleius, New York Times bestseller Wendy Higgins brings the tale to life, weaving layers that show exactly how a sacrificial lamb can be enchanted by an unseen monster.

Adult Historical Fantasy. Standalone." 

This sounds so fantastic! Wendy Higgins does romance right!

Soul In Darkness will be released on February 12, 2019.
What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Release Day Blitz: Fool Me Once by: Nicole Williams (Review, Excerpt, & Teaser)




"Second chances are for kids, diets, and shelter pets—not for relationships. Especially not one like Chase and Emma’s.

Before he was writing chart-topping hits and smashing record sales, Chase Lawson was Emma’s childhood friend and first love. They promised each other forever, but forever expired at eighteen, when he landed a major record deal and left Emma and their hometown behind.

Ten years later, he shows up at their high school reunion with a proposition she can’t refuse. Six months. Seven figures. He gets a chance to clean up his reputation, and she gets the means to restore the old family farmhouse. It’s only for show—hold hands in public, kiss for the cameras—but boundaries blur behind closed doors.

It isn't long before Emma feels her resolve slipping, crushed by the shadow of the boy she grew to love in the man selling out stadiums of present. Can Emma resist one of the most irresistible bachelors in the world? Or will she fall for the same man twice?"
Goodreads | Amazon

My Thoughts:

Nicole Williams delivered two of my favorite tropes in one book and my heart is happy. We get a fake relationship and a second chance romance. And she did them both so well. I devoured this book and read it within a few hours.

I adored both Chase and Emma. Emma is so fun and fierce and she knows what she wants in life. And Chase is just so charming. He may live the superstar life, but he’s so down to earth. These two had incredible chemistry and it’s clear the fake dating was not going to last long. They are so fun together and they turned my heart into a puddle of goo. Their story was pretty low on the angst, but their story wasn’t without their problems. They had a lot to work though if they wanted to make this second chance work and both of them had a lot to get through and I loved every second of it.

Nicole Williams always delivers a good read and this was no different. She always writes characters that you truly care for and her couples always have such amazing chemistry. Fool Me Once was such a sweet read with a ton of heart. It’s the kind of book that just puts a smile on your face. Contemporary romances fans this is for you.
Source: I received a copy of this book from the author and voluntarily provided a fair and honest review.



Excerpt:

“We’ve got to go over something first,” he said, smirking at my efforts to budge his arm.
​“What?” I asked, annoyed.
​“We’re going to be a couple in the public’s eyes. Which means we’re going to have to do certain things that couples do.”
​I blinked at him. “Couples don’t do that in public. At least not the normal ones.”
​He gave a grunt of disbelief. “I’m not talking about sex.”
​“Then what are you talking about?” My voice was rising the more flustered I became. The lack of apparel, the warm water, the way Chase’s brown eyes seemed to melt when he looked at me a certain way . . . I was struggling to keep my composure.
​“Kissing.” He shrugged as though it were obvious. “We’ve had ten years to get rusty. We don’t want to look like a couple of fumbling amateurs when we kiss in public for the first time.”
​My mouth fell open a little as I tried to determine if he was serious. “Kissing is like riding a bike. We don’t need to practice to get it right.”
The corners of Chase’s eyes creased. “It’s more like riding a unicycle. Once you figure it out, with enough consistency, no problem. But if you go a decade without climbing on that unicycle, you’re starting right back at square one.”
I had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from laughing. “You’re comparing kissing to a unicycle. You’re just as romantic as I remember.”
Chase treaded closer until my legs were brushing against his with each kick. “Come on. One kiss. Practice makes perfect.” His arms drew in, entombing me in his presence. One brow carved into his forehead. “That is, unless you’re scared to kiss me in private, half-naked in a swimming pool, because you still harbor some kind of feelings for me . . .”
I shoved his chest as a snap reaction, realizing too late that I should not touch him when he was this close, when I was this conflicted. “Fame has really gone to your head.”
His shoulders rose above the water before dipping below again. “So? Prove me wrong.”
“Fine.” The word materialized on its own. “But if you even try slipping me tongue, my knee is winding up in your groin.”
He wet his lips, fighting a smile. “When have I ever complained about any part of you nestling down there?”
My hands balled at my sides as I attempted to approach this whole thing like a science experiment. Objectively. Neutrally. Emotionlessly. “Just kiss me and get it over with.”
His smile quirked. “Once you’re finished whispering sweet nothings into my ear.”
When I tried to push him away, his hands circled my wrists. Chase’s eyes found mine, the color of his irises nearly indistinguishable from his pupils. My chest moved quickly when he swam closer, his head angling as his lips aligned with mine.
He hadn’t even kissed me and I’d lost all sense of direction. Up was as good as down in my present state. His breath fanned across my lips as he waited, perfectly at ease having me trapped in the corner of his pool, our mouths a sliver of air apart.
His grip on my wrists relaxed right before his mouth finally connected with mine. My body froze the instant he kissed me, but it didn’t last long, seeming to melt one piece at a time.
I didn’t realize I was sinking until Chase’s arm cinched around me, pulling my shoulders back above the water, his mouth not missing a beat. The last piece of me to unthaw was my lips, but the moment they did, they matched his urgency. My arms wound behind his neck as I drew closer, our bodies tangling beneath the water as he kissed me in a way I hadn’t been kissed in years; in the kind of way that made a girl feel delicate and invincible at the same time.
Chase treaded water, holding us both above the surface, the planes of his chest rising to meet mine with our uneven breaths. Before I knew it, our tongues were tying together, though it wasn’t him who’d broken that rule first. His chest rumbled against mine as my mouth and hands grew more feverish, no longer under the constraint of my better judgment.
​Kissing Chase was exactly as I remembered, yet totally different. The scrape of his calloused fingers against my skin felt the same, yet there was a newfound strength to it. His full lips moved with mine in a dance we’d mastered years ago, but there was a resolve I’d never tasted so deeply before. The way he held me was exactly the same, though the contours of his body had changed.
​When my chest was hammering from breathlessness, Chase broke the kiss, managing to evade my ensuing advances. His eyes remained closed for a minute, droplets of water winding down his face from where my hands had been.
​When his eyes finally opened, the look in them made my head dizzy, even as I reminded myself this had been a practice kiss. Nothing more.
“How was that?” he asked.
I had to look away in order to make my answer seem convincing. My shoulder lifted out of the water as I shaped my most detached expression. “You were right. Like riding a unicycle.”
“No, you were right.” Chase’s hand drifted up my back, his rough fingertips somehow soft against my skin. “Kissing you is like riding a bicycle.”




Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.
Website   Facebook  Twitter  Blog  Instagram



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Top Ten Tuesday: New To Me Authors I Read In 2018

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke And The Bookish and now hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl.

I was not so great at reading new authors last year, but there were a few that I really loved!


Monday, January 14, 2019

Recent Read: Second Chances

Recent Reads is feature here on the blog. The point is to feature books I've read recently in quick recap fashion with fun info-graphics. The info-graphics came from the Bookly app, which is a great app for bloggers. You can log quotes and thoughts and track your reading stats (and no I'm not paid for this, I just really like this app). Recently I dove into worlds of second chances.


Friday, January 11, 2019

On My Shelf: The Vincent Brothers by: Abbi Glines

On My Shelf is a feature I started here on the blog and I'm sure there are a ton of similar ones out there, but basically I just wanted to start spotlighting some of the MANY backlist titles I have accumulated on my shelf and kindle. The idea is to spotlight an older book I have on my massive TBR. I also thought it would be a fun way to discuss these books with my fellow bloggers, get some of your thoughts and figure out which ones I need to read ASAP and which ones can wait a bit more. And if you want to join in too, I would love to see what is on your shelf! Just leave me a link in the comments.


So, over the years I have kinda lost interest in most of Abbi Glines books. There are just so many to keep up with, and the few I tried to read recently were just meh to me. However... when I read The Vincent Boys I absolutely loved it and I remember being really excited for this one. Somehow, I just never got around to it and because I didn't love some of her others books I'm a bit worried about this one, but I also wanna know how this series ends.

So tell me. Have you read it? Did you love it? Hate it? Was it meh?



Thursday, January 10, 2019

38 Thoughts I Had While Re Reading A Court Of Frost And Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

Release Date: May 1, 2018
from Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Goodreads | Amazon

"Hope warms the coldest night.

Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve.

Yet even the festive atmosphere can't keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated--scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court."

My Thoughts:

1. Spoilersssss incominggggg.
2. So excited for some happy Rhys and Feyre.
3. RHYS POV.
4. The Illyrians are going to be problematic.
5. I love the bromance between Rhys, Azriel, and Cassian.
6. Nesta is pissing me off. So much.
7. Cassian’s POV is great, so I hope he has a POV in the next book.
8. Cassian’s past is even darker than we thought.
9. Sorry Feyre, I’m with Rhys. I can’t forgive Nesta for what she let you do when you were younger, because she knew better.
10. That’s such a good point. Feyre could always talk to Rhys, even when she “hated” him.
11. Mor POV! I want her to get a book too.
12. We should just get rid of the Court of Nightmares.
13. And Azriel NEEDS a book. He’s my favorite.
14. And of course Tamlin is being difficult once again. Guard your borders dumbass.
15. I frickin adore Cassian. He is so giving and caring. Buying all that winter clothing for those who need it.
16. It makes me so happy Feyre is painting again.
17. Sorry, you will find no sympathy here for Tamlin’s state.
18. Yepp, Tamlin sold out Rhys who was his friend!
19. And still, Tamlin won’t play nice to help humans because he does not care.
20. And I love it when Rhys puts him in his place. Because he did nearly destroy Feyre and he should know that.
21. I love the little moments between Rhys and Feyre.
22. CASSIAN AND FEYRE DECORATING FOR SOLSTICE GIVES ME LIFE.
23. “You look like an angry snowball.”
24. And the way Nesta is being with Elain is pissing me off. Elain has every right to be upset with her.
25. Elain and Azriel are the best and I can’t.
26. I am so very much done with Nesta.
27. The fact that she blames Feyre is such bullshit and the way she’s behaving is downright cruel. Her sisters have done so much of her and she never returns it ever.
28. Tamlin can’t even treat his friends nicely. Being an asshole to Lucian. And then OF COURSE Lucian blames Feyre.
29. Excellent advice Mor.
30. Snowball fight!
31. I love Elain. She is so thoughtful and truly appreciates Feyre.
32. Amren is going to be super important in getting Nesta to cut the crap.
33. I love the present opening. 
34. Elain’s gift to Azriel is so damn wonderful.
35. Nesta is so damn cruel.
36. Sorry. Still don’t feel sorry for Tamlin.
37. Mor deserves to have adventures!
38. “To the stars who listen and the dreams that are answered.”


Wrap Up:
This is such a wonderful novella. It gives us some happy Rhys and Feyre and Night Court times and it also sets up the next part of the story beautifully. It’s just wonderful.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Excerpt Reveal: Only A Breath Apart by: Katie McGarry

   

Would you dare to defy destiny? Are our destinies written in stone? Do we become nothing more than the self-fulfilling prophesies of other people's opinions? Or can we dare to become who we believe we were born to be?


“A gorgeous, heartfelt journey of redemption and love” (Wendy Higgins), ONLY A BREATH APART is a young adult contemporary novel from critically acclaimed Katie McGarry. “Haunting, authentic, and ultimately hopeful” (Tammara Webber), ONLY A BREATH APART will be available on all retailers on January 22, 2019!


   
Jesse dreams of working the land that’s been in his family forever. But he’s cursed to lose everything he loves most.
Scarlett is desperate to escape her “charmed” life. But leaving a small town is easier said than done.
Despite their history of heartbreak, when Jesse sees a way they can work together to each get what they want, Scarlett can’t say no.Each midnight meeting between Jesse and Scarlett will push them to confront their secrets and their feelings for each other.

Amazon | Kobo | Google Play | B-A-M | Barnes & Noble | iBooks
 

Gritty and real, Only a Breath Apart is a story of hope conjured from pain, strength drawn from innocence, and love earned from self-respect. Beautiful, poignant, and fierce.” ―Kristen Simmons, critically acclaimed author of the Article 5 series


Add it to your Goodreads today!


      

Excerpt:
SCARLETT 

I’m defying my parents by attending a funeral. Reckless and adventurous teenage behavior, I know. Most seventeen-year-olds lie to their parents so they can go on a date with a forbidden boy or attend a party where there will be questionable behavior. Me? I’m outright lying to my dad, and it’s because Jesse Lachlin’s grandmother died.

The entire way here I’ve questioned my sanity, but I don’t know how I’d live with myself if I stayed home. Jesse Lachlin used to be my childhood best friend. We were inseparable. We had the type of friendship people strive to have, and then, a few years ago, he cut me so deeply that I still bleed. But ten-year-old me would have never abandoned a hurting Jesse. So today I’m not only honoring the memory of Jesse’s grandmother, but also the memory of our dead friendship.

On my way to the funeral, the high grass of the field swats at my legs, but I don’t mind the sting. I love walking barefoot in grass, I love the smell of the earth and I love that brief feeling of freedom open spaces can provide.

It’s the dog days of August. The type of hot that starts when the sun rises and makes you sweat through your clothes within minutes. While my skin and palms are on fire, the pads of my feet are cool against the dirt. The heat is unwelcome, but the sky is deep blue and the sun is bright, and for that, I can be grateful.

Walking out of the field, I stop short of crossing the one-lane road to slip on the flats that dangle from my fingertips. My mother would be mortified if she knew I was entering a church in a cotton daisy-print sundress. It’s not one of the dresses with stiff fabric and impossible back zippers she would have picked for me at an overpriced department store. It’s the type that’s machine-washable and breathable. The type of dress Jesse’s grandmother would have given her stamp of approval.

I can practically hear my mother heavily sigh and mumble my name, Scarlett, as if it were her personal, private curse word. Mom believes there’s a certain way to dress and behave, and I’m breaking all sorts of her rules today. Watch out, world. I’m officially rebellious.

I smile to myself because I’m the opposite of rebellious. For the last few years, I’ve followed every rule. I’m the teacher’s pet and the girl with straight A’s. I’m the poster child of perfection, and have earned every snarky ice princess comment Jesse’s friends whisper about me in the school hallways because he and I no longer speak.

There are only six cars in the parking lot of the white church, and that makes me frown. I thought more people would have wanted to attend. Jesse’s mud-covered pickup is there, and so is an unnaturally clean black Mercedes that belongs to his uncle. This ought to be interesting. Jesse and his uncle have a mutual hate for each other that runs deeper than any root of any tree.

Movement to my right and I slowly turn my head. Shivers run down my spine at the sight of Glory Gardner. Even though I’m seventeen and too old for ghost stories, I still can’t shake the ones regarding this woman. Girls would whisper over lunch boxes that Glory was a witch. As I grew older, I understood that witch meant con artist. She claims she can read palms, tarot cards and “sees” spirits from beyond the dead. All for a glorious fee.

She’s a beautiful woman—long dirty blond hair that’s untamed, even in a bun, and she has an eclectic taste in clothing. Today she wears a white peasant shirt and a flowing skirt made of material that shimmers in the sun.

Glory watches me like I watch her, with morbid curiosity. I knew her as a child, back when Jesse and I ran wild in the fields near her home, but we haven’t talked in years.

She stands under the shade of a towering weeping willow. There are lots of those trees around here. Mom says it’s because there is too much water in the ground. I say it’s because the people in this town have cried too many tears. Mom doesn’t like my answer.

I tilt my head toward the church, an unspoken question if Glory will be joining me. She shakes her head no. I’m not shocked. According to rumors, Glory will go up in flames if she enters the house of God. But who knows? Maybe I will, too.

The church is one of those picturesque, historical, one-room school buildings squeezed between a cornfield on one side and a hay field on the other. A huge steeple with a bell attempts to reach the heavens, but like anything created by a human, it falls tragically short.

The foreboding wooden door makes no noise as I open it, and I’m able to slip in without a huge, squeaking announcement. Orange light filters in through the dark stained glass windows, and its struggling beams reveal millions of dancing particles of dust.

On the altar, there’s no casket, but there is an urn. My heart dips—Suzanne is dead. I used to wish she were my grandmother, and many times, she treated me as if I belonged to her. Suzanne was the epitome of love, and the world feels colder now that she’s gone.

Choosing a spot in the back, I drop into a pew, and as I scan the church my stomach churns. How is it possible that this place is so barren?

Besides the Funeral Brigade, or the FB, as I like to refer to them, there aren’t many people here. The FB are the older group of woman who attend every funeral in our small town even if they didn’t know the person. Attending funerals isn’t my idea of fun, but who am I to judge?

The FB sit directly behind the one person the town believes to be the lone sane member of the Lachlin family, probably because he isn’t blood related—Jesse’s uncle.

On the left side of the church is Jesse. Only Jesse. And that causes a painful pang in my chest. Where are his stinking friends? The anarchists in training who follow Jesse wherever he goes? Where is the rest of the town? Yes, Suzanne was polarizing, but still, where is any respect?

Quietly, so I don’t draw attention to myself, I slip from the right set of pews to the left. Someone should be on Jesse’s side, and it’s sad it has to be me.

A door at the front of the church opens, and the pastor walks out from the addition the church build on as a small office ten years ago. I would have thought any pastor assigned to this place would be as ancient as this church. Sort of like an Indiana Jones Knights Templar scenario where he lives forever as long as he stays inside. But no, he’s the youngest pastor from the main, newer church in town. His name is Pastor Hughes, and he’s a thirty-something black man with a fit build who is just cute enough that he should be starring in a movie.

The pastor looks up, and he flinches as if startled. I peek over my shoulder then sigh. Clearly, he’s surprised to see me. Flipping fantastic.

His reaction, and the fact he won’t stop staring, causes every person to turn their heads. Lovely. I’ve had dreams like this where I enter a room and become the center of attention. Only in my dreams it’s at school, it’s my classmates and I’m naked, but still, this is disconcerting.

Eventually, the FB and Jesse’s uncle return their attention to the front, but Jesse doesn’t. He rests his arm on the back of the pew, and it’s hard to ignore that he’s made me his sole focus, but I do my best to act as if I don’t notice.

To help, I concentrate on what my mom taught me as a child—to make sure the skirt of my dress is tucked appropriately so that my thighs don’t show. I then fold my hands in my lap and straighten to a book-on-head posture. I can be the ice princess people claim me to be.

Five pews separate me and Jesse, and it’s not nearly enough. My cheeks burn under his continued inspection. Jesse has done this a handful of times since our freshman year. Glance at me as if I’m someone worth looking at, someone worth laughing with a little too loud and smiling with a little too much. Then he remembers who I am and snaps his gaze to someone else.

But he’s not looking away now.


 Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan. Katie is the author of full length YA novels, PUSHING THE LIMITS, DARE YOU TO, CRASH INTO YOU, TAKE ME ON, BREAKING THE RULES, and NOWHERE BUT HERE and the e-novellas, CROSSING THE LINE and RED AT NIGHT. Her debut YA novel, PUSHING THE LIMITS was a 2012 Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction, a RT Magazine's 2012 Reviewer's Choice Awards Nominee for Young Adult Contemporary Novel, a double Rita Finalist, and a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Teen Pick. DARE YOU TO was also a Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction and won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Young Adult Contemporary fiction in 2013.
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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Recent Reads: Assassins and Goblins and Christmas and Ghosts and Spies

Recent Reads is feature here on the blog. The point is to feature books I've read recently in quick recap fashion with fun info-graphics. The info-graphics came from the Bookly app, which is a great app for bloggers. You can log quotes and thoughts and track your reading stats (and no I'm not paid for this, I just really like this app). Recently I dove into worlds of assassins, goblins, Christmas, ghosts, and spies.




Monday, January 7, 2019

Blog Tour: White Stag (Permafrost #1) by: Kara Barbieri (Review & Excerpt)


Release Date: January 8, 2019
from Wednesday Books
Goodreads | Amazon | Buy The Book

"The first book in a brutally stunning series where a young girl finds herself becoming more monster than human and must uncover dangerous truths about who she is and the place that has become her home.
As the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke—as the only survivor—was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren.
Janneke’s survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King’s death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows him that a little humanity isn’t bad—especially when it comes to those you care about.
Through every battle they survive, Janneke’s loyalty to Soren deepens. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling."


My Thoughts:

What a great book to start the year off with! I absolutely loved this book from beginning to end. Once I started reading it was so very hard to stop and I finished it within a day. The world mixes Norse mythology and goblin kings and it was just right up my alley. 

Janneke is such a great heroine. Life has thrown her nothing but horrors but she has always pushed through and survived and in the end she is stronger for it. This book really sees Janneke come to terms with herself and what she wants and who she wants to be. I love her because she may not have it easy but she never lets that stop her and she refuses to be pushed aside. Of course I adored Soren. I am always here for goblin king-esque characters and Soren fits that to a tee. He is charming and funny and the banter between him and Janneke is just pure fun. They play off one another so well and they work together so well. And then there is Seppo who also stole my heart. What an annoyingly lovable character and I just want more of him! 

This book kept me addicted. I love the way the author just throws you into this dangerous, yet alluring, world. This world could be brutal at times, but the magic of it all was intriguing. And I loved the question of “what makes a monster?” because this book really puts that question into perspective and it plays out in numerous ways as the plot progresses. This book is nonstop action and danger but there is also a great romance thrown in. I loved this balance and I am always up for a high fantasy that has great romantic aspects as well. 

White Stag was a wonderful read and I highly recommend it to high fantasy fans. This one reminded me a bit of a little known book I loved called Greta and the Goblin King. It’s one of my favorite books and I’ve never found anything else that had that same feel so I am so so SO glad I found this book because it gave me the same feelings. Like I said a great book to start off 2019 with and I am confident in saying it will end up being one of my favorite books of the year!


Source: I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley and voluntarily provided a fair and honest review.

Excerpt:

1
MASQUERADE

THE FIRST THING I learned as a hunter was how to hide. There was a skill in disappearing in the trees like the wind and merging into the river like stones; masquerading yourself as something you weren’t was what kept you alive in the end. Most humans didn’t think the masquerade was as important as the kill, and most humans ended up paying for it with their lifeblood.
Here, as the only mortal in a hall of monsters, I was very glad that I was not most humans.
I kept my steps silent and my back straight as I passed beneath the white marble pillars. My eyes flickered around me every so often, counting hallways, retracing my steps, so I could escape at a moment’s notice. The Erlking’s palace was treacherous, full of twists and turns, stairways that led into nowhere, and places where the hallways dropped to gaping chasms. According to Soren, there were also hollow spaces in the walls where you could slink around unnoticed to the mundane and the monstrous eye, but you could hear and see all that went on in the open world. The lair of a king, I thought bitterly. I dared not say it out loud in case someone was near. But beside me, Soren sensed my disgust and made a sound deep in his throat. It could’ve been agreement.
Soren examined his king’s palace with the usual contempt; his cold, calculating eyes took in everything and betrayed nothing. His lips turned down in a frown that was almost etched permanently into his face. Sometimes I forgot he was capable of other expressions. He didn’t even smile when he was killing things; as far as goblins went, that was a symptom of chronic depression. He lifted his bored gaze at the gurgling, choking sound coming from his right, and it took all my willpower not to follow his line of sight. When I felt the subtle whoosh of power transfer from one body to the next, my fingers twitched to where I’d slung my bow, only to remember too late that it had been left at the entrance of the keep in accordance with ancient tradition.
A scream echoed off the cavernous passageways as we made our way to the great hall where everyone gathered. It sent chills down my spine with its shrillness before it was abruptly cut off. Somehow, that made me shiver even more. Ancient tradition and custom aside, nothing could stop a goblin from killing you if that was what they desired. My hand reached for my nonexistent bow again, only to be captured by cold, pale fingers.
Soren’s upper lip curled, but his voice was low and steady. “The next time you reach for a weapon that isn’t there might be the last time you have hands to reach with,” he warned. “A move like that will invite conflict.”
I yanked myself away from his grip and suppressed the urge to wipe my hand on my tunic like a child wiping away cooties. “Force of habit.”
Soren shook his head slightly before continuing on, his frown deepening with each step he took.
“Don’t look so excited. Someone might get the wrong idea.”
He raised a fine white eyebrow at me. “I don’t look excited. I’m scowling.”
I bit back a sigh. “It’s sarcasm.”
“I’ve told you before, I don’t understand it,” he said.
“None of goblinkind understands sarcasm,” I said. “In another hundred years I’m going to lose my understanding completely.”
Another hundred years. It hadn’t hit me yet, not until I said it out loud. Another hundred years. It had been a hundred years since my village was slaughtered, a hundred years as a thrall in Soren’s service. Well, ninety-nine years and eight months, anyway, but who’s counting? Despite the century passing by, I still looked the same as I had when I was forcefully brought into this cursed land. Or, at least, mostly; the scars on my chest hadn’t been there a hundred years ago, and the now-hollow spot where my right breast should have been burned. The four months when I’d belonged to another were not something I liked to think about. I still woke up screaming from nightmares about it. My throat went dry and I swallowed. Soren isn’t Lydian.
“You look tense,” Soren said, breaking me out of my thoughts. I’d crossed my arms over my chest. Not good. A movement like that was a sign of weakness. It was obvious to everyone that I was the weakest being here, but showing it would do me no good.
“I’m fine,” I said. “I just don’t like this place.”
“Hmm,” Soren said, eyes flickering around the hall. “It does lack a certain touch.”
“What does that even mean?” I asked.
“The entire design of the palace is trite and overdone.”
I blinked. “Okay, then.”
By now we’d entered the great hall where the reception was held. Every hundred years, the goblins were required to visit the Erlking and swear their fealty. Of course, their loyalty only extended to him as long as he was the most powerful—goblins weren’t the type of creature to follow someone weaker than themselves.
The palace, for what it was worth, was much grander than most other parts of the goblin domain. Soren’s manor was all wood, stone, and ice, permanently freezing. Nothing grew—I knew because I had tried multiple times to start a garden—but the roots never took to the Permafrost. Here, it was warm, though not warm enough that I couldn’t feel the aching chill deep in my bones. The walls were made of pure white marble with intricate designs far above what a goblin was capable of creating, and streaked with yellow and red gold like open veins. It was obviously made by humans. Goblinkind were incredible predators and hunters, gifted by the Permafrost itself, but like all creatures, they had their flaws. The inability to create anything that wasn’t used for destruction was one of the main reasons humankind were often stolen from their lands on raids and put to work in the Permafrost.
Soren’s scowl deepened as we passed under a canopy of ice wrought to look like vines and flowers. “I feel like I need to vomit,” he said.
I stopped in my tracks. “Really?” I swore, if I ended up having to clean up Soren’s vomit …
He glanced at me, a playful light in his lilac eyes. “Sarcasm? Did I do it right?”
“No.” I forced myself not to roll my eyes. “Sarcasm would be when you use irony to show your contempt.”
“Irony?” He shook his head, his long white hair falling into his face.
“Saying one thing when you mean the other, dramatically.”
“This is beneath me,” he muttered. Then, even quieter, he said, “This place is in dire need of a redecoration.”
“I’m not even entirely sure what to say to that.” With those words, he flashed me a wicked grin that said little and suggested much. I turned away, actually rolling my eyes this time. For a powerful goblin lord, Soren definitely had the ability to act utterly childish. It could be almost endearing at times. This, however, was not one of those times.
In the hall, the gazes on the back of my neck were sharp as knives. I kept my head straight, trying my hardest not to pay attention to the wolfish faces of the other attendees.
From a distance they could almost be mistaken for human. They varied in size and shape and the color of their skin, hair, and eyes much like humans did. But even so, there was a sharpness to their features, a wildness, that could never be mistaken for human. The figures dressed in hunting leathers, long and lean, would only seek to torment me if I paid them any attention. As the only human in the hall, I was a curiosity. After all, what self-respecting goblin would bring a thrall to an event as important as this? That could very easily get me killed, and I wasn’t planning on dying anytime soon. My hand almost twitched again, but I stopped it just in time, heeding Soren’s warning.
We finally crossed the floor to where the Erlking sat. Like Soren’s, the Goblin King’s hair was long. But unlike Soren, whose hair was whiter than the snow, the Erlking’s hair was brown. Not my brown, the color of fallen leaves, underbrush, and dark cherry wood, but murky, muddy brown. It was the color of bog mud that sucks down both humans and animals alike and it somehow managed to make his yellow-toned skin even sallower. He was the strongest of all goblins, and I hated him for it. I also feared him—I was smart enough for that—but the fear was drowned out by the blood rushing in my ears as I locked eyes with Soren’s king.
Soren turned to me. “Stay here.” His eyes turned hard, the glimmer of light leaving them. Whatever softness he had before drained away until what was left was the hard, cold killer he was known to be, and with it went the last shreds of warmth in his voice. “Until I tell you otherwise.” Subtly, he jerked his pointer finger at the ground in a wordless warning.
I bowed my head. “Don’t take too long.”
“I don’t plan to,” he said, more to himself than to me, before approaching the Erlking’s throne. He went to one knee. “My king.”
I eyed Soren from underneath the curtain of my hair. His hands were clenched in fists at his sides. He must’ve sensed something from the Erlking, from the other goblins, something. Whatever it was, it wasn’t good. Cautiously, I directed my gaze to the Goblin King himself, aware that if I looked at him the wrong way, I might be inviting my own death. While the behavior and treatment of thralls varied widely among goblins, I had a feeling submissiveness was required for any human in the Erlking’s path.
This close, the Erlking’s eyes were dark in his shriveled husk of skin and there was a tinge of sickness in the air as he breathed his raspy breaths. His eyes flickered up to meet mine and I bowed my head again. Don’t attract attention.
Soren spat out the vows required of him in the old tongue of his kind, the words gravelly and thick. He paused every so often, like he was waiting for when he would be free to drive his hand through his king’s chest, continuing on with disappointment every time.
The tension around the room grew heavier, pressing down on those gathered. Somehow, like dogs sniffing out blood, they all knew the king was weak. Beautiful she-goblins and terrifying goblin brutes were all standing there waiting until it was legal to kill him.
Beside the weakened king’s throne, a white stag rested on a pile of rushes. Its eyes were closed, its breath slow. Its skin and antlers shone with youth, but the ancient power it leaked pressed heavy against my shoulders. That power was older than anything else in the world—maybe older than the world itself.
Goblins were, before all things, hunters. Born to reap and not to sow. Cursed with pain upon doing any action that did not in some way fit into the power the Permafrost gave them, the goblins fittingly had the submission of the stag as the symbol of their king’s ultimate power. Until it runs.
I didn’t want to think about what happened after that.
Soren continued to say his vows. The guttural language was like ice shards to my ears, and I shuddered. Catching myself about to fidget, I dug my fingers into my thigh. Control yourself, Janneke, I thought. If they can do it, you can.
A soft voice whispered in my ear, “Is that you, Janneka?” His breath tickled the back of my neck, and every muscle in my body immediately locked. Icy dread trickled down my spine, rooting me in place.
Don’t pay attention to him. He’ll go away.
“I know you can hear me, sweetling.”
Yes, I could hear him, and the sound of his voice made me want to vomit. My mouth went dry.

CREDIT: WHITE STAG by KARA BARBIERI Copyright © 2018 by the author and reprinted by permission of Wednesday Books.  

About The Author:

Kara Barbieri is a writer living in the tiny town of Hayward, Wisconsin. An avid fantasy fan, she began writing White Stag at eighteen and posting it to Wattpad soon after under the name of ‘Pandean’. When she’s not writing, you can find her marathoning Buffy the Vampire Slayer, reviving gothic fashion, and jamming to synthpop.

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