Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Blog Tour Review + Excerpt: "The Ruin of Kings" by Jenn Lyons


Hello all! I'm very excited to be welcoming you to my stop on the The Ruin of Kings blog tour! I can't wait to chat about this book with all of you! Here's what you can expect in on this tour stop: a giveaway, information about the book, an excerpt, my review, links to purchase, and advance reviews and praise! If you'd like to follow all of the other awesome hosts participating, you can find the tour schedule here.



SYNOPSIS

There are the old stories. And then there’s what actually happens.

Kihrin is a bastard orphan who grew up on storybook tales of long-lost princes and grand quests. When he is claimed against his will as the long-lost son of a treasonous prince, Kihrin finds that being a long-lost prince isn't what the storybooks promised.

Far from living the dream, Kihrin finds himself practically a prisoner, at the mercy of his new family's power plays and ambitions. He also discovers that the storybooks have lied about a lot of other things things, too: dragons, demons, gods, prophecies, true love, and how the hero always wins.

Then again, maybe he’s not the hero, for Kihrin isn’t destined to save the empire.

He’s destined to destroy it . . .

Uniting the worldbuilding of a Brandon Sanderson with the storytelling verve of a Patrick Rothfuss, debut author Jenn Lyons delivers an entirely new and captivating fantasy epic. Prepare to meet the genre’s next star



PRAISE FOR THE RUIN OF KINGS

"[A] jaw-dropping, action-packed story of betrayal, greed, and grand-scale conspiracy . . . Lyons ties it all together seamlessly to create literary magic. Epic fantasy fans looking for a virtually un-put-down-able read should look no further." ―Kirkus, starred review

"Rich, cruel, gorgeous, brilliant, enthralling and deeply, deeply satisfying. I loved it." ―Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians

“It was one hell of a ride. I gobbled it up and was hungry for more.” ―Glen Cook, author of The Black Company

“The Ruin of Kings is a fascinating story about a compellingly conflicted young hero in an intriguingly complex world.” ―L. E. Modesitt, Jr., author of the Recluse series

"A thriller plot of revenge and loyalty with a get-under-your-skin and keep-you-reading-all-night mysetery at its heart. I loved it."―John Gwynne, author of Malice

"The Ruin of Kings revs up with the glitz of a high-speed, multi-level video game, with extreme magic and a teen hero with angst." ―Janny Wurts, author of The Curse of the Mistwraith



MEET JENN LYONS

Jenn Lyons lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, three cats, and a lot of opinions on anything from the Sumerian creation myths to the correct way to make a martini. At various points in her life, she has wanted to be an archaeologist, anthropologist, architect, diamond cutter, fashion illustrator, graphic designer, or Batman. Turning from such obvious trades, she is now a video game producer by day, and spends her evenings writing science fiction and fantasy. When not writing, she can be founding debating the Oxford comma and Joss Whedon’s oeuvre at various local coffee shops.





PURCHASE LINKS




MY REVIEW

This book was a whirlwind. At the beginning, I was a bit confused and it took me a while to get fully into the story, but when I did, I had a great time. Honestly, it took me so long to read this book but I think that was partly me savoring it. I'm excited for the next one already, even though this one hasn't even released yet.

Okay, so in terms of plot, I thought that the way things were woven together was very interesting. I think if I were to reread this, which I'm sure I'll do at some point before the sequel, I would take notes just to have everything fresh in my mind because this book is long and a lot happens. There were moments where I was flipping through the pages as fast as I could to see what happened next and then there were moments where I was slowly savoring the scenes.

I think my number one thing that I loved about this book was Kirhin. I think if we'd had any other character as the lead or if Kirhin hadn't been exactly like he was, I wouldn't have enjoyed the story so much. But Kirhin...oh my sweet boy. So much happens to him and, honestly, he can never catch a break. His sass is just so perfect, though. I feel like I relate a lot more to his humor than some other characters because he's a sarcastic brat half the time and then the other half is deprecating humor that just lines up perfectly with my generation's sense of humor. I love him.

I cannot wait to see what happens in the next book. There were so many loose ends at this end of this book, which I get because it's the first of five. I will say, if you want to read this book (which I do recommend if you love high fantasy and sassy characters!) that you take notes and don't try to speed through because that won't work.

A huge thank you to Tor Books for sending me an advanced copy of this book to review and to Jean for allowing me to be a part of this book tour. 



GIVEAWAY



a Rafflecopter giveaway



EXCERPT

Read below for an excerpt from the book! A little note before you dive in, if you see a * it denotes a footnote. As there aren't pages in this post, the footnotes occasionally come in between paragraphs but would usually be at the bottom of the book pages. Enjoy!

Excerpt from THE RUIN OF KINGS by Jenn Lyons
Tor Books, 2019

Your Majesty,
          Enclosed within is a full accounting of the events that led up to the Burning of the Capital. Much of the first section is based on transcripts derived from a conversation between two of the most pivotal individuals to the events; other sections consist of my own reconstruction. I used eyewitness accounts whenever possible, and tried to remain true to the essential spirit of events when I was forced to go afield. I’ve annotated the text with obser- vations and analysis I hope you may find helpful.
          I pray your forbearance for when I lecture you on subjects on which you are the greater expert, but ultimately, I decided it safest to assume on your ignorance rather than the reverse.
          It is my hope that by possessing as complete a picture as possible of these events that led up to these matters, you will show leniency regarding the Lord Heir; the Council members who are recommending charges of trea- son and a death sentence surely do not have the whole story.
Your servant, 
Thurvishar D’Lorus

PART I 
A Dialog
Between a Jailer 
and Her Prisoner

“Tell me a story.”
          The monster slouched down by the iron bars of Kihrin’s jail cell. She set a small, plain stone down on the ground between them and pushed it forward.
          She didn’t look like a monster. Talon looked like a girl in her twen- ties, with wheat-gold skin and soft brown hair. Most men would give their eye-teeth to spend an evening with someone so beautiful. Most men didn’t know of her talent for shaping her body into forms crafted from pure terror. She mocked her victims with the forms of murdered loved ones, before they too became her next meal. That she was Kihrin’s jailer was like leaving a shark to guard a fish tank.
          “You must be joking.” Kihrin raised his head and stared at her.
          Talon picked at the mortar of the wall behind her with a wicked black nail. “I’m bored.”
          “Knit something.” The young man stood up and walked over to the line of iron bars. “Or why don’t you make yourself useful and help me escape?”
          Talon leaned forward. “Ah, my love, you know I can’t do that. But come now, it’s been so long since we’ve talked. We have all this catching up to do and ages before they’re ready for us. Tell me everything that’s happened to you. We’ll use it to pass the time—until your brother comes back to murder you.”
          “No.”
          He searched for somewhere to rest his gaze, but the walls were blank, with no windows, no distractions. The room’s only illumination shone from a mage-light lamp hanging outside the cell. Kihrin couldn’t use it to start a fire. He would have loved to set the straw bedding ablaze—if they’d given him any.
          “Aren’t you bored too?” Talon asked.
          Kihrin paused in his search for a hidden escape tunnel. “When they return, they’re going to sacrifice me to a demon. So, no. I’m not bored.” His gaze wandered once more around the room.
           He could use magic to escape. He could change the tenyé of the bars and rocks to soften iron or make stone fragile as dried grass. He could do that—if Talon wasn’t watching his every movement. Worse, if she wasn’t capable of plucking thoughts of escape from his mind the moment they entered.
          And she never slept.
          “But I do eat,” she said, answering his thoughts with a gleam in her eye, “especially when I’m bored.”
          He rolled his eyes. “You’re not going to kill me. Someone else has that honor.”
          “I don’t consider it murder. I’d be saving you. Your personality would be with me forever, along with—”
          “Stop.”
          Talon pouted and made a show of examining the clawed tips of her fingers.
        “Anyway, if you can read my mind, you don’t need me to tell you what happened. Take my memories—the same as you’ve taken everything else.”
          She stood up again. “Boring. Anyway, I haven’t taken everything from you. I haven’t taken all your friends. I haven’t taken your parents.” Talon paused, “Well, not your real parents.”
          Kihrin stared at her.
         She laughed and leaned back. “Should I leave then? If you don’t tell me a story, I’ll go pay your mother and father a visit. ­They’d entertain me. Though the visit might not be so much fun for them.”
          “You wouldn’t dare.”
       “Who would stop me? They don’t care about your parents. All they care about is their little scheme, and they don’t need your mother and father for that.”
          “You wouldn’t—”
         “I would,” Talon growled, her voice inhuman and shrieking. “Play my game, Bright-Eyes, or I’ll come back here wearing your mother’s skin cinched by a belt of your father’s intestines. I’ll reenact the moments of their deaths for you, over and over, until your brother returns.”
          Kihrin turned away, shuddering, and paced the length of his cell. He examined the empty bucket and the thin blanket tucked into a corner. He searched the walls, the ceiling, and the floor. He studied the iron bars and the lock. He even checked himself over, in case his captors had missed something, anything, when they’d taken his weapons, his lock picks, the intaglio ring, and his talismans. They’d only left the necklace they didn’t care about, the one worth a fortune.
          “Well. When you put it that way . . .” Kihrin said. “How can I refuse?”
          Talon brought her hands together in front of her face and made a tiny clap of delight. “Wonderful.” Then she tossed him the small rock she’d put between them earlier.
          Kihrin caught it, but looked confused. “What’s this?”
          “A rock.”
          “Talon—”
          “It’s a magic rock,” she said. “Don’t tell me a man in your position doesn’t believe in magic rocks?”
          He studied the stone again, frowning. “Someone’s changed this stone’s tenyé.”
          “Magic. Rock.”
          “And what does it do again?”
“It listens. Since you’re telling the story, you hold the stone. Those are the rules.” She grinned. “Start at the beginning.”

1: The Slave Auction

(Kihrin’s story)

When they brought me up to the auction block, I looked out over the crowd and thought: I would kill you all if I had a knife.
          And if I wasn’t naked, I amended.
          And shackled. I had never felt so helpless, and—

What?­You­­ don’t­ think­ this ­is­ the­ beginning,­ Talon? *
          What­ do­ you­ mean ­by­ “beginning”­ anyway?­ Whose­ beginning?­ Mine?­ I­­ don’t­ remember­ it that well­.­ Yours?­ Talon,­­ you’re­ thousands­ of­ years­ old­ and­ have­ stored­ the ­memories­ of­ as­ many­­ people. You're­ the­ one­ who­ wanted­ to­ hear­ this.­ And­ you­ will,­ but­­ under­ my­ terms,­ not­ yours.
          Let’s­ start ­over.

**It seems Talon was serious about that “magic rock,” for it records the words spoken by its holder. I could have fabricated the other side of the conversation, but the gist seems clear enough through context and so I have let the words fall where they may.

The auctioneer’s voice boomed out over the amphitheater: “Lot six this morning is a fine specimen. What will I hear for this human Doltari male?† He’s a trained musician with an excellent singing voice. Just six- teen years old. Look at that golden hair, those blue eyes, those hand- some features. Why, this one might even have vané blood in him! He’ll make a welcome addition to any household, but he’s not gelded, so don’t buy him to guard your harem, ladies and gentlemen!” The auctioneer waved his finger with a sly grin, and was answered with a few disinterested chuckles. “Opening bid is ten thousand ords.”

††Having known Doltari slaves, I can only assume the auctioneer was blind. Then again, perhaps the good citizens of Kishna-Farriga have become expert at accepting the labels given to slaves without question.

          Several members of the audience sniggered at the price. It was too much.
          I didn’t look any prize that day. The Kishna-Farriga slave masters had bathed me but the scrubbing only made the raw whip wounds on my back stand out in angry red stripes. Copper bangles on my wrists did a poor job of camouflaging sores from long months spent in chains. The friction blisters on my left ankle were swollen, infected, and oozing. Bruises and welts covered me: all the marks of a defiant slave. My body shook from hunger and a growing fever. I wasn’t worth ten thousand ords. I wasn’t worth one hundred ords.
          Honestly, I wouldn’t have bought me.
          “Ah, now don’t be like that, my fine people! I know what he looks like, but I promise you, he’s a rough diamond who only needs polish to shine. He’ll be no trouble either—see, I hold his gaesh in my hand! Won’t someone here pay ten thousand ords for the gaesh of this handsome young slave?” The auctioneer held out his arm and revealed a tarnished silver chain, from which dangled something that glittered and caught in the sun.
          The crowd couldn’t see the details, but I knew what he held: a silver hawk, stained black from salt air. A part of my soul, trapped in metal: my gaesh.
          He was right: I would cause no more trouble. Never again. Controlling a slave via a gaesh was as effective as it was terrible. A witch had summoned a demon, and that demon had ripped part of my soul away, transferring that essence to the cheap tourist bauble the auctioneer now held in his hand. Anyone who carried that damn gaesh charm could command me to do anything they desired. Anything. If I ignored those orders, my reward would be my agonizing death. I would do anything that the holder of my gaesh asked of me, no matter how objectionable, no matter how repugnant.
          Obey or die. There was no choice.
          No, my body may not have been worth much, but in Kishna-Farriga the going price for a man’s soul is ten thousand ords.
          The crowd stirred and looked at me with new eyes. A troublemaking teenage boy was one thing. A teenage boy who could be healed and per- fumed, forced to obey every whim his owner might command, was quite another. I shivered, and it had nothing to do with the warm breeze that prickled the hairs on my skin.
It was a fine day for a slave auction, if you’re into that sort of thing. The weather was hot, sunny, and the air tinged with the stink of gutted harbor fish. Paper umbrellas or canvas awnings obscured the bidders as they lounged on cushioned seats.
          Kishna-Farriga was one of the Free States, border city-states that owed no fealty to their neighbors, but relied on shifting political tensions* to keep themselves off anyone’s leash. Countries who didn’t want to deal with each other used Kishna-Farriga as a halfway entrepôt for trade goods and commodities—commodities which included slaves such as myself.

**I have heard a great many theories to the effect that the Free States are a vassal of some other nation. So Doltar believes the Free States are in league with the Manol and the Manol believes the Free States are in league with Zherias, and of course Quur thinks the Free States are Dol- tari and thus must be protected by the Manol. If large scale war ever breaks out, I fear it will go poorly for these Free States people trapped in the middle.

      Personally, I was used to the slave markets of the Quuros Octagon, with its endless mazes of private chambers and auction theaters. The slave pits in Kishna-Farriga weren’t so elaborate. They used just one open- air stone amphitheater, built next to the famous harbor. At maximum capacity, the rising stone steps seated three thousand people. A slave might arrive by ship, visit the holding cells underneath the amphitheater, and leave with a new owner the same day—all without clearing the smell of dead fish from their nose.
        It was all quite charming.
       The auctioneer continued to speak, “Do I hear ten thousand?”
       Reassured that I was tame, a velvet-clad woman of obvious “professional” talent raised her hand. I winced. I had no desire to go back to a brothel. A part of me feared it would go this way. I was by no means homely, and few are those who can afford the price of a gaeshed slave, without means of recouping their cost.
          “Ten thousand. Very good. Do I hear fifteen thousand?”
          A rich, fat merchant leered at me from the second row and raised a little red flag to signal his interest. Truth be told, he raised all kinds of red flags. His ownership would be no better than the whorehouse madam’s, and possibly quite worse, no matter what my value.
          “Fifteen thousand? Do I hear twenty thousand?”
          A man in the front row raised his hand.
         “Twenty thousand. Very good, Lord Var.”*
           Lord Var? Where had I heard that name?

**There is no record to indicate that Relos Var has claim to a noble title or order of merit. On the other hand, there’s scarcely any record of Relos Var at all. The earliest mention of that name I have been able to locate is from the book History­ of­ the­ Raevana­ Conquest by Cilmar Shallrin, which mentions the name once. Since that book was published five hundred years ago, the idea that this might be the same person is troubling.

         My gaze lingered on the man. He appeared ordinary: of medium height and weight, nondescript but pleasant, his dress stylish but not extravagant. He had black hair and olive brown skin—typical of Quuros from west of the Dragonspires—but his boots were the high, hard style favored by Easterners. Jorat, perhaps, or Yor. In addition, he wore a shirt of the Marakor style rather than an Eamithon misha or usigi wrap.
          No sword.
          No obvious weapon of any kind.
        The only remarkable qualities about Lord Var were his confidence, his poise, and the fact the auctioneer recognized him. Var didn’t seem interested in me. His attention focused on the auctioneer; he barely glanced at me. He might as well have been bidding on a set of tin plates.
          I looked closer. No protection, hidden or otherwise, and not even a dagger in one of those unpolished leather boots. Yet he sat in the front. No one crowded him, though I’d spotted plenty of pickpockets working the crowd.
          I’d never been to Kishna-Farriga before, but I didn’t have to be a native to know only a fool came to this auction house without bodyguards.
          I shook my head. It was hard to concentrate. Everything was noise, flashing light, and waves of cold—which I suspected were from a fever. One of my cuts had become infected. Something would need to be done about that soon, or I would be the most expensive paperweight some poor gull had ever purchased.
          Focus. I ignored the crowds, the bidding, and the reality of my situation as I slipped the First Veil from my eyes and looked at him again.
          I’ve always been skilled at seeing past the First Veil. I had once thought this talent would be my redemption from the Capital City’s slums, back when I was naïve enough to think there was no fate worse than poverty.
           There are three overlapping worlds, of course, each ruled by one of the Sisters: the world of the living, the world of magic, and the world of the dead.* We live in Taja’s realm, as do all mortals. But I’d learned from a young age that my talent for seeing past the First Veil, into Tya’s magical domain, was a terrific advantage.

**This is . . . so wrong. So wrong. The odd number alone should have been the giveaway. This is what happens when you neglect to have a proper education. Two worlds. Just two. Magic is not a “realm,” it is a metaphysical river separating two parallel shores.

          Only the gods can see past the Second Veil, although I suppose we all do when we finally travel to what lies beyond, to Thaena’s realm— Death.
          The point is that wizards always wear talismans. They stamp such trinkets with their own auras to guard against the hostile sorceries of other mages. Talismans can take any shape. A smart wizard conceals their talismans from casual observation by disguising them as jewelry, sewing them into the lining of their clothes, or wearing them under robes. You might never know if someone is a wizard . .
          . . . unless you can see past the First Veil yourself, in which case that talisman-enhanced aura always betrays a wizard’s profession.
            That’s how I knew Relos Var was a wizard. He wasn’t wearing any
obvious talisman, but that aura was terrifying. I’d never seen an imprint so strong before, nor an aura stamped so hard, sharp, and crisp.*

**Having personally met Relos Var on several occasions, including at public baths, I have to say that I have never been able to figure out where the man keeps his talismans either—or if he even wears any. Relos Var has the power and aura of someone who wears a great many talis- mans without seeming to wear any at all.

          Not with Dead Man, not with Tyentso . . .

And­ no,­ lovely­ Talon,­ not­ even­ with­ you.

I couldn’t remember why Lord Var’s name was familiar, but I could sum the man up in a single word: dangerous. But if I was lucky . . .
          Who was I kidding? There was no luck left for me. I had angered my goddess, lady of luck both good and bad; her favor was gone. I did not even dare to hope that Lord Var would treat me better than the others. No matter who won me this day, it didn’t change that I was a slave, and would be so until the moment of my death. A normal slave might hold out some faint hope of escape or buying his or her freedom, but a gaeshed slave can’t run, and no one would ever free them. They are worth too much.
          “The bid is twenty thousand. Do I hear twenty-five thousand?” The auctioneer wasn’t paying attention anymore: he thought the sale all but over. He’d done well to fetch twenty thousand. That price exceeded his expectations.
          “Twenty thousand, going once, going twice. Fair warning—”
          “Fifty thousand,” a clear voice said from the top of the seats.
       Murmurs spread through the crowd. I strained to see who’d placed the bid. It was a large stadium. I couldn’t see the speaker at first, but then I noticed who the rest of the crowd had turned to watch: three seated figures in black hooded robes.
          The auctioneer paused, surprised. “The Black Brotherhood bids fifty thousand. Do I hear fifty-five thousand?”
          The man they called Lord Var looked annoyed. He nodded at the auctioneer.
          “Fifty-five thousand. Do I hear sixty thousand?” The auctioneer was awake now that there was a bidding war.
          One of the three black-clad figures raised its red flag.
         “Sixty thousand.” The auctioneer nodded at them.
         Half the crowd looked at Lord Var, the other half stared at the robed figures. The auction had just become an entertainment sport.
          “Do I hear seventy-five thousand?” Var nodded again.
          “I have seventy-five. Do I hear one hundred?” The auctioneer saw the black-clad figures’ flag raise again. “I have one hundred from the Brother- hood. Do I hear one-fifty?”
         Var nodded.
         “One-fifty. Do I hear two hundred?” The red flag raised. “I have two hundred. Do I hear two-fifty?” Var frowned, but made a quick wave of his fingers. “I have two-fifty from Lord Var. Do I have five hundred from the Black Brotherhood?”
          He did.
          The desire to vomit hit me hard, and not just because of sickness. Had a slave ever sold for so much? There was no use that justified such a price; not as musician, not as catamite. Unless—
          My eyes narrowed.
          I wondered if, against all reason, they somehow knew who I was, knew what I carried. I almost reached for the gem around my throat. The Stone of Shackles was worth such a price, worth any price, but I had used the only spell I knew to hide what I wore.
          I might be gaeshed, but I couldn’t be ordered to hand over what no one knew I possessed.
          “The Black Brotherhood bids a half-million. Do I hear 750,000?” The auctioneer’s voice broke. Even he seemed stunned by the price rising from his throat.
          Lord Var hesitated.
          “Lord Var?” the auctioneer asked.
          Var grimaced and turned to glare over his shoulder at the three figures. “Yes,” he said.
         “I have 750,000 ords from Lord Var. Do I hear one million?”
          The figures in black didn’t hesitate.
          Lord Var cursed aloud.
          “I have one million ords. Final warning.” The auctioneer paused for the required time. “Sold to the Black Brotherhood for one million ords. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new record!” The end of the staff pounded down on the floor.
           I fought the urge to join it.

Copyright © 2019 by Jenn Lyons



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Let's Talk: "Lord of Shadows" by Cassandra Clare

Title: Lord of Shadows
Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: "The Dark Artifices" #2
Genre: YA Fantasy
Page Length: 699 pages
Publication Date: May 23, 2017
Date Started: January 11, 2019
Date Finished: January 19, 2019
Rating: 4.25 // 5 stars

*The first part of this review will be non-spoiler for both Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows. After that, I will place a warning before I move into the non-spoiler review of Lord of Shadows that may contain spoilers for the first book*

DAMN

Okay, now that that's out of the way, we can get into talking about how good this book was. I enjoyed this book. I think my favorite thing about it wasn't the plot but the characters. For me, it doesn't matter how good a plot is if I can't connect with the characters. And I loved following the characters in this book!

Lady Midnight, for me, was and still is the best book I've read by Cassandra Clare. Despite it being only about 10 pages less than this one, I flew through it and read it in two days. I couldn't put it down and there was never a dull moment. But Lord of Shadows wasn't the same.

Despite how much I liked the characters and how much I cried, the fact of the matter is that there were a lot of times during this book that I was bored, thought the story was moving slow, or just wanted to be done. I don't think this book was as good as Lady Midnight but I am still loving how much of the character development we got to see.

*Possible Lady Midnight spoilers from here on*

One thing that I think hurt my reading experience was the fact that the perspective shifts so much. I'm completely fine with multiple POV books, and I quite enjoy reading them, but this was a bit much. What I'm talking specifically about was the fact that there were chapters where, in a single chapter, the perspective would shift back and forth every few pages. And it wasn't a shift between characters in the same scene, the whole scene perspective would shift. One second we'd be in one place with a set of characters and the next page we'd be miles and miles away with a different set of characters. I think the reason for this is to keep the reading wanting more because the perspective would shift after a "oh crap" moment. I just think that shifting the perspective 6 times in a single chapter was a bit much.

I can't really pick a favorite set of characters to read from, but I think it would probably be Kit, Ty, and Livvy. I just loved their adventures and they're all so smol and pure yet fierce and protective. I cannot wait to see more of these characters in the next one.

Another thing I absolutely loved was that, like Lady Midnight, there were cameos from TMI characters. I loved seeing that because it just ties the stories together well and gives us a glimpse at how those characters are doing after that series.

Overall, I'm a little scared for the next book. This one ended on a serious crap show (omg that ending) and I have no idea how the next book is going to go. Hopefully it ends with all my favorite characters happy, healthy, and living happily ever after.



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



You can follow my bookstagram here. A brand new giveaway will be posted soon!

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Friday, January 25, 2019

Unboxing: Fairyloot's "Unbreakable Bonds"


I was super lucky this month to get another one of Fairyloot's boxes! This month's theme was Unbreakable Bonds and it was such an epic box. There's not much more I can say so let's just go ahead and dive into the unboxing!



On the top of the box we have the spoiler card with this gorgeous art on one side. At the bottom, we also had the monthly bookmark with the same art as the spoiler card and this month's Fairyscoop, which includes a Q&A with this month's author as well as a hint at next month's theme. There were also two bonus postcards.

The first item that I pulled out was this gorgeous Will and Jem candle that was inspired by The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare. It smells so clean and wonderful. The art is also super gorgeous! Following that was a motley crew headband inspired by Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

The next item that was included was this little Lia and Pauline tin full of salted caramel hot chocolate inspired by The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson. I've only read the first two books in this trilogy and I don't remember who these characters are, but the hot chocolate itself is already super exciting! I cannot wait to use it. Next is this Jules and Arishone lip balm inspired by Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. I already tried it and it smells so good! I cannot wait to use this.

The next item was this gorgeous double-sided pillowcase inspired by The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. As pretty as this pillowcase is, I didn't enjoy TRB that much so I'm going to try and pass this onto someone who will appreciate it more than I will. Then there was this Lord of the Rings inspired woodmark! I absolutely love this and think it's so gorgeous. The colors are beautiful! I cannot wait to use this.
The next item is one of Fairyloot's bonus items that's included in every box now as part of a collectible series: Feyre and Azriel tarot cards! This is the second month they've included tarot cards and I think they're absolutely gorgeous. I cannot wait to get a full set! The cards I have so far now are Cassian, Amren, Feyre, and Azriel.

The book of the month for this month was Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye which came signed and with these gorgeous sprayed light purple edges. I absolutely love sprayed edges and I've been dying to add a purple copy to my collection. This book also sounds amazing! It also came with this art print of two of the characters and a letter from the author.


Overall, this box was amazing! I loved how we didn't get a million paper items like sometimes happens and I am so excited to use all of these items. I'm already thinking of making that hot chocolate when I get back from class this afternoon.




Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Top 5 Wednesday: Top of My TBR


Hey all, it's Wednesday again which means it's time for another Top 5 Wednesday post! This week's prompt is the top 5 books on your TBR and it was a little difficult to decide which were my top 5 as my TBR is massive. I ended up cheating a bit and putting books of the same series together but here we are. I also limited it to the books I brought with me to college and didn't include any books I'm currently reading. Let's just dive straight in! 

At number five, we have Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. I've heard so many people raving about this book and, honestly, I think that may be a reason why I haven't read it yet. I want it to live up to my expectations that it's going to be amazing and I'm scared that it won't. Either way, I'm still excited to read this book and I'm just trying to work through a stack of books for review before I get to this one.

For number four, I chose Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare. I love The Dart Artifices and I just finished Lord of Shadows recently and it tore my heart out. I know that this book will do the same but I'm excited nonetheless to read it. 

At number three is The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi. I'm a part of the street team for this book and all the promotions I've been doing for it have gotten me super excited to read it myself. It's set in Paris and deals with a heist and a gang of characters and that just sounds right up my alley. I'm hoping to get to this soon! 

For number two, I chose The City of Brass and The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty. I was kindly sent a copy of the second book by the publisher and I won a copy of the first in a giveaway, so not only am I excited to read these soon, but I also want to help promo this book as much as possible when I read it. 

And, lastly, at number one we have Sightwitch and Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard. I was lucky enough to get an arc of Bloodwitch and I've been making my way through the series. I have to read Sightwitch before it, though, so I'm hoping to read that one really soon so that I can dive back into this series with Bloodwitch!



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



You can follow my bookstagram here. A brand new giveaway will be posted soon!

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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Let's Talk: "Windwitch" by Susan Dennard

Title: Windwitch
Author: Susan Dennard
Series: "Witchlands" #2
Genre: YA Fantasy
Page Length: 384 pages
Publication Date: January 3, 2017
Date Started: January 4, 2019
Date Finished: January 9, 2019
Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars
Goodreads

Y'all...this book was amazing! I was so excited for this book after finishing Truthwitch. I had no idea what was going to happen but definitely not what actually did! I was blown away. So much happened and I'm still trying to process everything we discovered!

So, for starters, the plot development and actual storyline was amazing. The different perspectives we had were all interesting in their own way and I loved how the author wove them together. I was originally a tad hesitant at the beginning about one of the perspectives, but by the end I was hooked and couldn't decide which I wanted to read the most.

The character development you guys! It was so good. I can look at not only the beginning of this book but also at the beginning of the series and see how these characters have changed. And I love that. The characters were all amazing and so real. I'm both super scared and nervous to see what happens to them next. I wish I'd gotten more of Safi and Iseult together but I can only hope we'll get that in the next book.

Overall, I loved this book. I wish I'd been able to sit and binge-read it in a day but, unfortunately, life got in the way. Still, I cannot wait to see what happens next!



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



You can follow my bookstagram here. A brand new giveaway will be posted soon!

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Friday, January 18, 2019

Unpopular Opinions Book Tag


Hello everyone! Today I decided to do another Unpopular Opinions Book Tag. I haven't done this tag since March of 2017 and I'm sure some of these answers have changed. This tag was originally created by The Book Archer on YouTube. You can find my first time doing this tag here. And now, let's go ahead and get into this controversial and fun tag! 

What is a popular book or series you didn't like? 

Everyone seems to love The Cruel Prince by Holly Black but I had major problems with it. When I read it and finished it, I seriously was wondering if I'd read the same book as everyone else because I didn't think it lived up to the hype at all. I originally gave it 4 stars because I was swayed by the hype, but then kept dropping my rating the more I thought about it until it hit 1 stars. I think right now I'd call it a 2 star book but I have absolutely no interest in reading the next one. You can find my review here

What is a popular book or series that everyone else seems to hate but you love? 

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. I think that the book community has chilled on the hate for this series and more people I see on bookstagram are admitting they still like the book, but in the general world there's just a lot of Twilight hate. I've said it before and I'll say it again, people who haven't read the book/watched the movies only hate the series because its primary fanbase is teenage girls. But this isn't the place to get into all of that. Still, Twilight was one of the formational series of my childhood and it will always hold a special place in my heart even though I can see the issues with it now that I'm older. 

What is a love triangle in a book or series where the main character ended up with the person you did not want them to end up with?

I don't really have an answer for this specific question because I haven't really been reading books with love triangles lately and the ones I have been reading have ended with the main character with the person I wanted them with. However, I will discuss a love triangle that I didn't like that may contain spoilers for To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han: Peter Kavinsky, Lara Jean, and John Ambrose McClaren. I thought that the fact there was a love triangle between these three was a bit ridiculous, honestly. I thought John was nice but there was nothing that I read that drew him and Lara Jean together in way that could justify dropping Peter. I like John, but I think I saw their relationship as more of a friendship than a romantic relationship. 

What is a popular book genre that you hardly reach for?

There's a whole list of these starting with horror. I'm a scaredy cat and don't like it. I also find that a lot of YA thrillers really disappoint me, so I tend to stay away from those and just thrillers in general. I haven't read very much historical fiction in my life, though I do have some titles that I'm interested in reading eventually. I also don't reach much for contemporary books. 

What is a popular or beloved character that you do not like?

Prince Cardan from The Cruel Prince. I get that he's supposed to be cruel because it's literally in the title of the book, but what he did in the book went beyond cruel. Just with my personal experiences in my life, I felt as if the justification of abuse that led to a cycle of abuse was handled poorly. Just...if you want my rant thoughts you can find them here

Who is a popular author that you can’t seem to get into?

Holly Black and John Green for sure. After reading The Cruel Prince and hearing others talk about Holly's other books, I just don't have any desire to pick up another book by her. I'm sure she's a nice person, but her books aren't for me. And with John Green, I read Paper Towns and it ended up really disappointing me by the end. I also only got about halfway through TFIOS before I put it down and had no desire to finish it even though I was getting through it pretty quickly. I'm going to try again with Turtles All the Way Down for Green, but overall I just don't generally read the genre of books he puts out. 

What is a popular book trope that you are tired of seeing?

The rude or agonized character being "fixed" or "healed" by a female character or through a relationship where they come out a drastically changed person. This is honestly the worst, in my opinion. Girls aren't rehab centers for damaged people, for starters. Also, instead of being fixed and changed, I think learning to live with the bad that's happened and developing good coping mechanisms is better than being magically healed because a 17-year old girl with no psychological experience said they loved you and it'll be okay. 

What is a popular book or series that you have no interest in reading?

Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I tried reading the first book and couldn't get past the first few pages, although that was a few years ago so I'm sure I could do it now. Mostly, I just have no interest in reading the books after starting to watch the show. It's a huge time commitment that I'm not interested in and I would rather watch the show than read the books. Even the show, at times, didn't hold my attention so I'm sure the book would bore me. 

What is a movie or TV show adaption of a book or series that you like more than the book/s?

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I just remember being let down by the book but thinking that the movie was done pretty well. I didn't even like the movie that much, but I still thought it was better than the book. 



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



You can follow my bookstagram here. A brand new giveaway will be posted soon!

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

"The Gilded Wolves" International Giveaway!


Hello everyone! I just wanted to quickly pop on over here to talk about something super fun I'm doing to celebrate the release of The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi. If you are unaware, I'm a part of the street team for this book and it's been such a blast helping promote it the past few weeks. I also just hit 1,500 instagram followers, so to celebrate both the release of this book and this milestone accomplishment, I decided to host an international giveaway! It's being run on my instagram but I didn't want all of my blog readers to miss out, so here's all the information you need! 

The Prize
One (1) US hardcover copy of The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

How to Enter
  1. Like the giveaway announcement here and follow me on Instagram (mandatory)
  2. Comment on the giveaway announcement and tag a friend (+1 bonus entry)
  3. Follow @roshanichokshi on instagram (+1 bonus entry--let me know in a comment if you've done this)
  4. Repost the announcment picture to your feed using the hashtag #lbsgilded (+1 bonus entry)
  5. Post the giveaway in your story (+1 bonus entry per day)
  6. Visit my blog (hey, you're here!) and comment on any of my Gilded Wolves related post--this one counts! (+1 bonus entry per post, please mention your instagram handle in the comment)
The Rules
  • Ends January 24th at 11:59 pm CST!
  • International as long as Book Depository ships to you
  • Must be 18+ or have a parent's permission to give out your address
  • If you follow me only to unfollow me after the giveaway ends, you will be banned from future giveaways



Good luck everyone!
xoxo
Lauren



You can follow my bookstagram here. A brand new giveaway will be posted soon!

To get more awesome content like this post, click the follow button to the right!

Beacon Book Box: use the code BOOKSHELF5 for a discount on your order or subscription! 

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Top 5 Wednesday: Most Disappointing Reads of 2018


Hey guys, we're back with another Top 5 Wednesday! This week's theme is Most Disappointing Reads of 2018, which could be a bit of controversial topic. I just want to put a disclaimer that I'm not bashing on anyone for liking these books, but they either weren't for me or didn't live up to the hype. I'm also not hating on the authors...anything I say is strictly about the book itself. That being said, there are books on this list I hate and books that I actually really like, but these are my disappointing reads of 2018. 

At number 5, we have Legendary by Stephanie Garber. I did enjoy this book but I didn't think that it lived up to the first one. My enjoyment could have been tampered by the fact that the e-arc I was reading had really bad formatting and that prevented me from getting sucked in, but I felt like the plot moved slowly and there wasn't as much "wow" factor as the first one until the very end. I just want to reiterate one more time, though, that I did enjoy this book and I'm still very excited for the last one, I just thought that my expectations weren't met. You can find my review here

For number 4, we have A Wild and Unremarkable Thing by Jen Castleberry. I had high hopes going into this book. It sounded amazing and fun and fantastical, all things that are right up my alley. But then I read it and it was an honest-to-god struggle. I rarely say I hate books but I hated this book, which is really sad because the author is a super nice person and I really wanted to like it. I feel as if this could have been improved with a lot more editing and beta-readers, but it fell seriously flat for me. You can find my review here

Coming in at number 3, we have White Stag by Kara Barbieri which actually just released this month. I was lucky enough to read an early copy of it and I had some high hopes going into it. They weren't met. I will say, though, that looking back on the events of the book and the writing and the idea of the characters and plot, I should have enjoyed this book more. I liked the writing style, I liked the plot direction, I liked the characters for the most part. But I didn't connect. I didn't get sucked in. I felt as if this could have gone through another round of heavy editing and it could have been amazing. You can find my review here

At number 2, I picked Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson. This was a YA thriller that released in 2018 that I was super excited to get a review copy of. And I hated it. I didn't feel thrilled, I hated or was indifferent about most of the characters, and I just felt like it was a below-average book. You can find my full, rant-filled review here

Lastly, at number 1, we have The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. Everyone seemed to love this book. Everyone was raving about how amazing it was with political intrigue, faeries, and about how much they loved Cardan. I'll be honest, when I finished it I was thinking, "is this really the book everyone is raving about?" I gave it 4 stars initially because I was influenced by everyone else's hype. But then the more I thought about it, I kept dropped my rating until it finally settled at 1 star. Although, I'm thinking of raising it to 1.5-2 stars. This was just not the book for me. I felt like I was ready a shitty high school drama set in a faerieland. I do think, though, that people interpret books in different ways and due to my own personal experiences, I just could not get behind the justification/cycle of abuse that went on. I knew Cardan would be cruel, but from the way everyone was talking him up I expected him to have some redeeming qualities. But no, he's got the emotional range of a potato and he is the actual worst. Sorry for this rant, but if you want more of my thoughts, you can find my rant review here



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



You can follow my bookstagram here. A brand new giveaway will be posted soon!

To get more awesome content like this post, click the follow button to the right!

Beacon Book Box: use the code BOOKSHELF5 for a discount on your order or subscription! 

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Sunday, January 13, 2019

My Book Buying Ban


So...I'm going on a book buying ban but I don't even know if I can call it that? I'm not going to completely stop buying books but I'm definitely going to limit myself on what I buy. The past few years, I've been acquiring books faster than I can read them. My TBR is so huge that if I never bought a book again, it would still talk me almost three years to read through. Thus, the main purpose for this "ban" is to help my TBR, but saving money will also be fantastic as I'm hoping to study abroad this fall and would like even more money for when I'm traveling. 

Like I said, though, this isn't a ban. I'm still going to be buying books and the like, but the way I go about buying books is going to be based on a set of rules I've set for myself. These rules are also going to apply to acquiring free books. A lot of the books I've acquired recently have been gifts, sent to me by publishers or authors, or even just on sale for free as an ebook. Since the goal of this ban is to reduce my TBR, I'm extending the rules to free books as well. So, what are the rules? 

  1. In order to add a new book to my collection, I must first read two (2) unread books off my TBR. This not only includes buying books, but also free books being offered to me, preorders, and book boxes. 
  2. If there's a book that has already been released, before I buy it I'm going to download the ebook sample and read that to see if the writing style is good and if it sucks me in. 
  3. No impulse buys/instant gratification. If I see a book I want, I'll add it to my Amazon cart or a list or wherever, but then take a few days to think about the purchase. More specifically: is this a book I'm going to read the moment I get it or can I wait until I'm ready to read it? 
  4. I'm telling myself not to go to bookstores or the book sections in regular stores. That leads to impulse buys at a higher price.
  5. And, this was a pretty cool idea I saw someone recommend, when I could have purchased a book but didn't, I'm going to add the amount to a list and every so often add it up to where I can see how much I've saved. 
I'm sure at some point I'll think of even more ways to help myself stay on track, but I think for the time being this is a good place to start. If you're going on a book buying ban, or have been on one, let me know down in the comments or give tell me some of your tips!



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



You can follow my bookstagram here. A brand new giveaway will be posted soon!

To get more awesome content like this post, click the follow button to the right!

Beacon Book Box: use the code BOOKSHELF5 for a discount on your order or subscription! 

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Friday, January 11, 2019

DIY Sprayed Book Edges


Hey guys, today I'm doing something different on my blog: a DIY! Although, it is book-themed so I think it fits pretty well. For the past couple years, books with sprayed/colored edges have become super popular. A lot of book boxes have started doing them on the books they feature and some new releases are even coming with sprayed edges on the first editions! I love the look of sprayed edges but it's hard to get your hands on them without paying a lot for book boxes or trying to hunt down first editions. That's why I decided to look up how to do sprayed edges yourself!

I found a few videos and blog posts about it and decided to go ahead and try it on an extra copy of Throne of Glass that I had laying around. It turned out great and I decided I wanted to do another one. This time, I picked Vicious by V.E. Schwab and thought I'd show you how I did it!

As you can see, I have a hardcover of Vicious with the beautiful new recover. I haven't attempted sprayed edges on paperbacks, yet, but I've had success with two hardcovers now! The Vicious hardcover had these basic white edges and I figured I would do a color swap where the red cover of Vicious would have black edges and the black cover of Vengeful, the sequel, would have red edges. Let's go ahead and get into the DIY.

 



Materials
  • Acrylic paint
    • I've seen some people do this DIY with spray paint, but as it's currently winter where I live, spray paint isn't a feasible option. I can use acrylic paint indoors, however, and it's relatively little mess. The best acrylic paint I've found for DIY-ing book edges is Apple Barrel. It spreads nicely and doesn't leave spots, as you can see on my DIY of Throne of Glass below. I would recommend against Gloss Acrylic, though, as I experimented with that one on this DIY and it didn't turn out as well as non-Gloss. 
  • Paintbrush
    • I just got a cheap set of acrylic brushes off of Amazon for like $6 and used one of those. I have plenty of extras should anything happen or if I want to amp it up and do designs on top of the base coat. 
  • Masking tape
    • You can also use painter's tape, electrical tape, etc...any tape that won't rip the books when peeling it off. 
  • Newspaper
    • To make easy cleanup
  • Some sort of weight/clamping system
    • I used two boards and a set of four smaller bar clamps
  • Your book of choice
    • It's up to you what book you use, but this DIY is for a hardcover as I have yet to try on a paperback :) 



Procedure

Step 1: You don't necessarily have to do this, but I figured it would be nice to have a little bit of newspaper or something taped down in case I got paint on my work surface. Then you want to take of the dust jacket so that you're working with the bare hardcover.

Step 2: I took a little bit of newspaper and wrapped it around the edges of the book and secured it with masking tape. I then put masking tape over the edges until the only thing coming in contact with the paint would be the masking tape and the pages. The reason I did newspaper and then masking tape is for extra protection and to protect against any ripping of the book when peeling the tape off.

Step 3: This is a super important step right here. In order for only the edges of the pages to get painted and not have the paint seep further in, the book has to be held together tightly. I find that the easiest way for me to do this is to take two boards and placed the book between them. Then I clamp each of the four corners. It doesn't have to be super tight, but enough to where the pages won't separate or get paint where you don't want. If you don't have something to clamp it with, you can always use weights on top of the book, a bunch of books in a box placed on top, etc. I just find it easiest to maneuver and paint with the boards and clamps. 

Step 4: Start painting! I put a little bit of paint on a napkin and just dipped my brush in that. For this DIY I used black paint on Vicious. I started with the biggest side and just applied a healthy coat of paint. Then I moved onto the top and bottom. 

Step 5: Look for any missed spots. There may be a few spots that were missed just because of the way the pages are cut, so I just dabbed lightly at those with a paintbrush until they were filled and then smoothed over it. I found when I used a flashlight I could really see where there were little missed spots that I missed in just the normal lighting. 

Step 6: Let it dry. Don't unclamp it because that could lead to the wet paint seeping in or a page accidentally coming lose and getting paint all over the inside cover or something. I did my DIY's at night and then let them dry and came back to them in the morning, but the paint I've been using dries pretty quickly.

(This is where if you're daring enough to add a design you can do so)

Step 7: Unclamp/unweight your book, take off all of the newspaper/tape. Then it's time to separate the pages. I've found the easiest way to start this is to take the pages and kind of bend them (see pictures). That way they're somewhat separated and all you have to do is flip through to get them the rest of the way. 

Step 8: Enjoy the aesthetic of your new sprayed edged book.

Final Product: As you can see, I used Gloss Acrylic paint and it didn't separate or come apart as easily. When I used non-Gloss (see Throne of Glass) it came apart easily and perfectly. While overall it still looks good, I think it would have looked better with regular acrylic instead of Gloss.




I hope you guys found this helpful! I was so excited the first time I did this when it turned out great. I have so many ideas about what to do next. Have any books you'd like to see me color? Let me know in the comments below! Until then, have a great 2019!

xoxo
Lauren



You can follow my bookstagram here. A brand new giveaway will be posted soon!

To get more awesome content like this post, click the follow button to the right! 

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