Memes

Waiting On Wednesday: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday was a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. Each Wednesday you got to highlight a book that you were really looking forward to. Unfortunately, the original creator is no longer able to host the meme and it has now linked up with Can’t Wait Wednesday over at Wishful Endings.

This week I’ve chosen: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

wehunttheflame
We Hunt the Flame

by Hafsah Faizal
Fantasy, Young Adult

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

Expected publication: May 14th, 2019 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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New Releases

Book Blitz: The Witch’s Tower by Tamara Grantham

The Witch’s Tower
Tamara Grantham
(Twisted Ever After #1)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: March 11th, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Gothel is a witch. Punished for the actions of her mother, her choice is simple: either she stands guard over Princess Rapunzel—or she dies. But just because a choice is easy doesn’t mean it’s pleasant. Protecting Rapunzel means watching as the princess lays trapped in a tower, bedridden by hair that is so long and heavy it’s slowly driving her insane. Gothel’s life has become one of imprisonment and solitude as well—until a prince and his handsome squire appear at the tower.

Only one object can cut Rapunzel’s hair and end the curse: a pair of magical shears. But the shears are guarded by the most terrifying witches in the land, who also happen to be Gothel’s aunts. As Gothel and the prince’s squire, Raj Talmund, work to form a plan, she finds herself more and more drawn to the mysterious young man from the Outerlands. Unfortunately, his destiny is far more dangerous than she wants to admit: to save a princess, he must kill the witch who’s been forced to guard her.

THE WITCH’S TOWER is the first in an inspired new series of fairy-tale retellings from award-winning fantasy author Tamara Grantham.

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EXCERPT:

Moonlight illuminated the tower as Raj and I crossed into the meadow. The handcart’s wheels squeaked as I pulled it to a stop at the base of the tower. Raj had been true to his word and purchased all the supplies we needed for winter. I couldn’t complain—I was grateful he’d done it. I only hoped he didn’t expect a miracle in return.

Now I had the chore of transporting everything into the tower. Luckily, I’d brought my largest knapsack. As I loaded vessels of lentils, bags of flour, and a few jars of syrup into my bag, Raj stood over me.

“You’re bringing all that up there?” he asked.

“It’s better than leaving it down here.”

“You really live up there all the time?”

“Yes, I only ever come out to gather edibles, or when we’re desperate for supplies.”

“But how do you get water?”

“We have a well inside the tower. Can you help me?” I tossed him an empty burlap sack. If he was so insistent on being here, he might as well help me.

“It seems like a lonely existence.”

I eyed him. Lonely? What did he know of loneliness? I didn’t feel like admitting to this stranger how desperately lonely the past five years had been, how I lay awake at night wishing I had someone to talk to, feeling as if the silence would drive me to insanity. No, he didn’t need to know any of that.

“It’s not that bad. Rapunzel isn’t one for talking, but we have a cat. His name is Jester. He keeps me company most of the time.”

“A cat?”

“Yes. He’s mostly feral. But he’s friendly enough, and he comes and goes as he pleases. He’s even learned to climb the vines to get in and out of the tower. He’s quite clever.” I adjusted the pack’s straps on my shoulders. “Now, let’s get up there before Rapunzel…” I stopped myself. “Let’s get up there.”

With the pack strapped to my back, I turned to the tower. Wind rushed past, battering my hair against my cheeks, as I prepared to speak the spell.

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!” My words carried on the wind, echoing through the forest.

I waited, nervousness making my hands grow clammy as I held to the pack’s straps, but why did I feel so uneasy? Was it because Raj was with me?

I turned to him. He stood with haunting dark eyes as he watched a coil of ropy, matted hair drop from the tower’s only window high above us. I stepped to the length of hair and grabbed it, holding my breath against the scent of unwashed scalp. I never got used to that smell.

“Should I follow you?” Raj asked.

“Yes. But let me enter first.” Gripping the hair tightly, I started the climb. I made my way toward the window at the top of the tower. Halfway up, my muscles burned, and I focused on breathing to make it the rest of the way. This part was always the hardest, and the sack of supplies weighing me down wasn’t helping. Why did Varlocke have to put his daughter into such an impossibly tall tower?

When I reached the window, I grabbed the ledge. The worn stones felt smooth under my palms as I climbed over, then landed inside. As I straightened, I pulled off the pack and left it on the floor, then focused on the room. Moonlight illuminated the bare stones walls, the well sitting at the room’s center, the wooden chairs, roughly-hewn tables, huge bookcases cluttered with dusty spell journals and vials, and the bed where Rapunzel lay.

I stepped over the matted coils of hair. Pieces of rat and bird bones lay trapped in the knotted strands, seeming to glow white against the dark hair. The sound of gnawing stopped me.

She wasn’t.

“Rapunzel,” I said quietly. “What are you doing?”

The gnawing continued. I approached her on quiet feet, afraid of what I might find. Behind me, Raj scrambled inside the room.

Please don’t let it be the prince.

When I reached her side, her pale, skeleton-white skin glowed in the moonlight. She held a rat.

I exhaled, grateful it was only a rodent and not something—someone—else. A crust of bread and a handful of wild beets sat on the bedside table, but they were untouched.

Raj’s footsteps echoed, and I turned to face him. His tall, lean frame looked so out of place. Only the high sorcerer ever visited, and to have an Outlander squire inside my home unnerved me.

“Is she eating something?” he asked. “What is that?”

“Sorry. It’s the cat’s fault. He catches them and leaves them on her lap. He thinks he’s giving her a prize or something. Rapunzel does that with them sometimes—with the rats—eats them, I mean.” I stumbled over my words, feeling immeasurably mortified that Raj had to see it. But it could’ve been worse.

I approached her. She looked up, as if only seeing me now, and she hissed. With her red-rimmed eyes, it looked as if she hadn’t been sleeping, and her collarbones seemed to be protruding more than I remembered. Her white gown hung off her meatless frame, but at least it was the clean one I’d left for her. She’d managed to change clothes—at least there was that.

“Where is the prince?” Raj asked.

“I don’t know.” I scanned the room. With the large piles of hair covering the floor, he could’ve been hidden, but we should’ve seen some clue he was here—his feet or a hand poking out. Something. “You’re certain he came up here?”

“Yes, positive.”

I studied the tower more thoroughly but didn’t see anything that resembled the prince. Odd. Where was he?

“Rapunzel,” I said, turning to her, “we’re looking for a prince. Have you seen him?”

She shook her head, clutching the rat, her fingers digging into the carcass.

“Please,” Raj said. “I need to find him. His father is the king. He’ll be very sad if he loses his only son. Can’t you tell us where he is?”

Rapunzel focused on the man, but she remained silent. Outside, the sky lightened. Pink streaked through the gray as dawn approached. As the sun rose, sunlight streamed into the room, giving light to the dark places. Something thudded inside the well, and Raj followed me as I maneuvered around the coiled hair toward the raised ring of stones surrounding the deep drop that went straight through the bottom of the tower.

“Is there something in the well?” Raj asked.

“Someone probably.”

I pried open the lid. Sitting atop the wide-mouthed bucket was the prince, who stared up at us with a vacant expression. Hair coiled around him as blue bands of magic wrapped his wrists and ankles. I grabbed his tunic with both hands and attempted to lug him out. He was heavier than he looked.

“How’d he get in there?” Raj asked.

“Rapunzel. She tried to throw him down, I assume.”

“She can do that?”

“With her hair, yes. She’s clever when she’s motivated.”

“He was looking at me!” Rapunzel yelled. Well, at least she was finally speaking.

 

Author Bio:

Tamara Grantham is the award-winning author of more than a dozen books and novellas, including the Olive Kennedy: Fairy World MD series and the Shine novellas. Dreamthief, the first book of her Fairy World MD series, won first place for fantasy in INDIEFAB’S Book of the Year Awards, a RONE award for best New Adult Romance of 2016, and is a #1 bestseller on Amazon with over 200 five-star reviews.

Tamara holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Lamar University. She has been a featured speaker at multiple writing conferences, and she has been a panelist at Comic Con Wizard World speaking on the topic of female leads. For her first published project, she collaborated with New York-Times bestselling author, William Bernhardt, in writing the Shine series.

Born and raised in Texas, Tamara now lives with her husband and five children in Wichita, Kansas. She rarely has any free time, but when the stars align and she gets a moment to relax, she enjoys reading fantasy novels, taking nature walks–which fuel her inspiration for creating fantastical worlds–and watching every Star Wars or Star Trek movie ever made. You can find her online at http://www.TamaraGrantham.com.

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New Releases · Reviews

Review: The Witch’s Tower by Tamara Grantham

Review

witches tower
The Witch’s Tower

by Tamara Grantham
Young Adult, Retelling, Fantasy
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Synopsis
Gothel is a witch. Punished for the actions of her mother, her choice is simple: either she stands guard over Princess Rapunzel — or she dies. But just because a choice is easy doesn’t mean it’s pleasant. Protecting Rapunzel means watching as the princess lays trapped in a tower, bedridden by hair that is so long and heavy it’s slowly driving her insane. Gothel’s life has become one of imprisonment and solitude as well — until a prince and his handsome squire appear at the tower.

Only one object can cut Rapunzel’s hair and end the curse: a pair of magical shears. But the shears are guarded by the most terrifying witches in the land, who also happen to be Gothel’s aunts. As Gothel and the prince’s squire, Raj Talmund, work to form a plan, she finds herself more and more drawn to the mysterious young man from the Outerlands. Unfortunately, his destiny is far more dangerous than she wants to admit: to save a princess, he must kill the witch who’s been forced to guard her.

What I thought
I was gifted a copy of this book by the author for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tamara Grantham does it again! It’s no secret that I am a fan of her Fairy World MD series. So when she reached out about this book I couldn’t say no.

Now let’s be honest here I surprisingly love re-tellings. I say this because a year ago I didn’t think they were something I would ever enjoy. Also, to be completely honest going into this I knew nothing of Rapunzel except she has long hair. I mean I still haven’t even seen Tangled before picking up this book.

I really like how this story is focused on Gothel, who is living out a punishment due to her mother’s actions. In this story you see her grow so much. One of my favorite things is how she gains self-respect and self-worth throughout the story. I also love the fact this book points out that you shouldn’t stereotype people. Yes, Gothel is a witch but Raj refuses to judge her based on that.  Long story short I adored Gothel and Raj and I really loved how this story ended. The story as a whole wrapped up all of the loose ends wonderfully and I felt satisfied with this being only one book (and that does not happen often).

If you like retellings you really should pick this one up!!

My Rating: /55 StarsFollow me on other platforms:
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Reviews

Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Review

a discovery of witches
A Discovery of Witches
 (All Souls Trilogy #1)
by Deborah Harkness
Fantasy, Paranormal
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Synopsis
Deborah Harkness’s sparkling debut, A Discovery of Witches, has brought her into the spotlight and galvanized fans around the world. In this tale of passion and obsession, Diana Bishop, a young scholar and a descendant of witches, discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, deep in Oxford’s Bodleian Library. Its reappearance summons a fantastical underworld, which she navigates with her leading man, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont.

What I thought
Well, I finally picked this one up, it has been sitting on my shelves since 2011 when it came out. Yes, I do know how that sounds.  Feel free to shame me now.

There for a long time I felt guilty reading new books because I have so many other books just sitting on my shelf not read. Well, that has changed as you can see in my last months wrap up I read more books that I bought this year than my backlist books…Oops. 

So how did I feel after letting this sit on my shelf for 8 years? I enjoyed it. Funny enough I don’t think I would have liked it back then so it sat there for a reason.

Now before you go and pick up this book, let me warn you its a long one and the first 2/3 of this book is slow. At one point I really considered DNF’ing it due to the slowness but when I thought about it I really liked it and just sat it down for a few days and came back to it. I believe that the slowness is due to the author trying to lay out so much at one time. This book gives a lot of backstory and history that I am really hoping was needed for the next book in the series.

I will be picking up the next book in this series because I really did like it and my only drawback was the pacing in the first 2/3 of the book and that is a lot of pages when the book is 579 pages long.  If you don’t mind a slow story then this is for you!

My Rating: /53.5 starsFollow me on other platforms:
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Wrap Up

February 2019 Wrap Up

Good Morning Everyone,

This is the first wrap up of 2019. I feel like I started the year off pretty good I mean 9 books isn’t bad. So let’s see how this month went. So I thought I would change things up a bit and add in some stats (this also makes it easier for me in the end).

Books Read: 7
Books DNF’d: 2
Total Pages Read: 1,477
Total Audio Hours: 20:41

Now to break that down  a little more

Backlist Books: 4
Added to my TBR in 2019: 5
Borrowed: 0

2019 Goals (only this months numbers)
Finish or catch up on 3 Series: 0
10 Books I want to read in 2019: 0
Read 3 Tomes: 1
Read more backlist books: No

Year-end 2019 Goals
Finish or catch up on 3 Series: 0/3
10 Books I want to read in 2019: 0/10
Read 3 Tomes: 2/3
Read more backlist books: 10/16

Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis |5 Stars |Add to Goodreads
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness |4 Stars |Add to Goodreads
Wolves and Daggers by Melanie Karsak |4 Stars |Add to Goodreads
Changeless by Gail Carriger |4.5 Stars |Add to Goodreads

The Minimalist Home: A Room-By-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life
by Joshua Becker |3 Stars |Add to Goodreads
The Witch’s Tower by Tamara Grantham |5 Stars |Add to Goodreads
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
by Malala Yousafzai|No Rating |Add to Goodreads

So how did February go for all of you? Are you happy with what you read? Talk to me in the comments below.

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New Releases

March 2019 Books I’m Excited About

Hey Everyone!

A new month a new set of releases.  There are four books that are coming out this month that I am excited about.

Girl, Stop Apologizing
Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals 
by Rachel Hollis
Non-Fiction, Self-Help
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“I believe we can change the world. But first, we’ve got to stop living in fear of being judged for who we are.”

Rachel Hollis has seen it too often: women not living into their full potential. They feel a tugging on their hearts for something more, but they’re afraid of embarrassment, of falling short of perfection, of not being enough.

In Girl, Stop Apologizing, #1 New York Times bestselling author and founder of a multimillion-dollar media company, Rachel Hollis sounds a wake-up call. She knows that many women have been taught to define themselves in light of other people—whether as wife, mother, daughter, or employee—instead of learning how to own who they are and what they want. With a challenge to women everywhere to stop talking themselves out of their dreams, Hollis identifies the excuses to let go of, the behaviors to adopt, and the skills to acquire on the path to growth, confidence, and believing in yourself.

Expected publication: March 5th, 2019

The Bird King
The Bird King
 by G. Willow Wilson
Fantasy, Historical Fiction
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Set in 1491 during the reign of the last sultanate in the Iberian peninsula, The Bird King is the story of Fatima, the only remaining Circassian concubine to the sultan, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker.

Hassan has a secret–he can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls?

As Fatima and Hassan traverse Spain with the help of a clever jinn to find safety, The Bird King asks us to consider what love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate.

Expected publication: March 12th, 2019

The Trial of Lizzie Borden
The Trial of Lizzie Borden
 by Cara Robertson
Non-Fiction, Crime, History
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The remarkable new account of an essential piece of American mythology—the trial of Lizzie Borden—based on twenty years of research and recently unearthed evidence.

The Trial of Lizzie Borden tells the true story of one of the most sensational murder trials in American history. When Andrew and Abby Borden were brutally hacked to death in Fall River, Massachusetts, in August 1892, the arrest of the couple’s younger daughter Lizzie turned the case into international news and her trial into a spectacle unparalleled in American history. Reporters flocked to the scene. Well-known columnists took up conspicuous seats in the courtroom. The defendant was relentlessly scrutinized for signs of guilt or innocence. Everyone—rich and poor, suffragists and social conservatives, legal scholars and laypeople—had an opinion about Lizzie Borden’s guilt or innocence. Was she a cold-blooded murderess or an unjustly persecuted lady? Did she or didn’t she?

The popular fascination with the Borden murders and its central enigmatic character has endured for more than one hundred years. Immortalized in rhyme, told and retold in every conceivable genre, the murders have secured a place in the American pantheon of mythic horror, but one typically wrenched from its historical moment. In contrast, Cara Robertson explores the stories Lizzie Borden’s culture wanted and expected to hear and how those stories influenced the debate inside and outside of the courtroom. Based on transcripts of the Borden legal proceedings, contemporary newspaper accounts, unpublished local accounts, and recently unearthed letters from Lizzie herself, The Trial of Lizzie Borden offers a window onto America in the Gilded Age, showcasing its most deeply held convictions and its most troubling social anxieties.

Expected publication: March 12th, 2019

once26future
Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta, Cori McCarthy
Fantasy, Young Adult, Retelling
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I’ve been chased my whole life. As a fugitive refugee in the territory controlled by the tyrannical Mercer corporation, I’ve always had to hide who I am. Until I found Excalibur.

Now I’m done hiding.

My name is Ari Helix. I have a magic sword, a cranky wizard, and a revolution to start.

When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.

No pressure.

Expected publication: March 26th, 2019

Are there any books that you are looking forward to this month?

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New Releases

Book Blitz: Blueberry Pancakes: The Novel by Anton Lee Richards

Anton book cover

Blueberry Pancakes: The Novel
Anton Lee Richards
Publication date: January 26th, 2019 
Fiction, Contemporary 

Writing songs for a would-be pop star is painful. When young, gay songwriter Duncan falls in love, he writes a love song. When he gets dumped, he writes a break-up song. Luckily for his songwriting career, his love life is a roller-coaster.

When his long-term boyfriend breaks up with him, Duncan finds solace in music. And pancakes, of course. With the help of his sassy diva singer and best friend Marlene, her ex-boyfriend guitarist, and a local music producer, they form a musical dream team to produce songs to pitch to agents, and for Marlene’s promising singing career.

A new guy here, a new guy there, they are delicious distractions, but this drama fuels new and better songs. And that ex? He just won’t seem to go away. But it all pays off when they have their first number one hit with a teenybopper all-girl band.

Not everything in their favorite hangout-a breakfast restaurant called Pancake Heaven-is rainbows and maple syrup. The all-girl band drops them as songwriters, and they squabble with one another over their musical future. Will they find the success they can be proud of?

Blueberry Pancakes is a contemporary gay drama about falling in and out of love, the price of success, and walking through the world with confidence.

Amazon | Goodreads

Excerpt Blue

I don’t remember how many couples he introduced me to at this party, and I forgot most of their names. In each case, Christopher introduced me as my Duncan. I never thought of myself as being so much of a catch that somebody would be proud to be with me, the way I felt proud to have Jesse when we were together.

“I need a drink,” I whispered in his ear.

“Just a few more,” he said.

Bradley approached us again, and three more couples followed. We made a circle, and everybody shot off questions in rapid succession. It started off easy with questions about my work and where I grew up, but then developed into an interrogation of whether I owned summer homes and stock portfolios. Was I supposed to feel bad I didn’t? One guy leaned in and asked how attached I was and if I wanted to keep my options open. He wore thin-rimmed glasses that fell down his nose as he raised his eyebrows.

“I’m happy where I am,” I said. I wasn’t sure if that was a lie or not, but I certainly didn’t want to get it on with a guy asking people if they would cheat on their partners after just meeting them.

“You’ll break soon enough,” he said, winking. “When it happens, I’ll be there.”

A flamboyant guy with a pure-white, faux-fur sweater and hot pink jeans chimed in. “I have a brownstone in Lincoln Park. You should come see it sometime. It has a hot tub on the rooftop with a nice view of downtown.” I couldn’t concentrate on remembering his name because the sweater was distracting me.

“I bet you like being the pretty one,” said a voice behind me. Behind me, a drag queen with a Jackie O wig smiled at me. She had really broad shoulders or was just wearing shoulder pads underneath her shimmering black dress. “You’re the pretty one. Don’t act like you don’t know it.”

The notion stopped me in my tracks. Was I? Is that why Christopher was so adamant about calling me arm candy? Jesse was always the pretty one when we were together. I scanned the room and mentally ranked the attractiveness of each person. At first, I hated myself for being so shallow, but then I told myself it was in the name of scientific research. I guessed I would rank decently in this crowd of gay men who ranged from their mid-20s to their 50s. There were so many hotties. I came across a guy standing near the fireplace and figured he was without a doubt cuter than me. He had a nice body and was not afraid to show it off. This was the first time another guy caught my eye since I met Christopher.

“If I were with you, I’d tell you how pretty you are every single day,” said the drag queen. “I’d praise the day someone like me could get someone like you.” She opened her arms to hug me, and I demurred. Where was Christopher to save me?

Author Bio Blue

Anton author pic
Anton Lee Richards is a queer writer from Chicago. In a previous life, he worked in IT. In a previous life before that, he was a songwriter. He lives in Chicago with his partner and his Instagram-star bunny.

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