Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a small amount of money if you click through and make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas took the world by storm after its debut. You can hardly scroll through Bookstagram for two seconds without stumbling upon a flatlay featuring the YA fantasy novel.

I was really skeptical about this one. I’m always a little suspicious about books that get so much hype. How could it possibly live up to the incredibly high expectations?

But I was so wrong. It was everything I thought it would be and more. I don’t even have the words to explain how much I loved this book.

After reading ACOTAR, I went ahead and bought the full series. It was enchanting, romantic and action-packed… basically, everything a book should be. There were so many twists and turns that I never saw coming. And seemingly insignificant details weaved together so beautifully in the end.

The quality of the storytelling was absolutely brilliant. Sarah J. Maas is officially my new favorite author!

Book Review: Catwoman by Sarah J. Maas

Catwoman by Sarah J. Maas was a fun and lighthearted twist on the familiar DC comics villain.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a small amount of money if you click through and make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

This was my first time reading a book from a villain’s perspective, and I suppose the old adage is true that even villains are the heroes of their own stories. It made for an entertaining read, as while Selina Kyle was committing crimes, she had a compelling reason driving her actions.

Selina was an interesting character and the ending weaved so many elements that appeared throughout the book together seamlessly.

Catwoman makes for a light and easy read. If you’re looking for a fun little escape and don’t mind her backstory taking an entirely different direction, then it’s worth checking out.

Now on Pre-Order: Fangs and Fortune (Vampires of Crescent Cape Book 2)

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a small amount of money if you click through and make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

I am beyond excited to share that Fangs and Fortune, the second book in the Vampires of Crescent Cape series, is now available on pre-order.

This book has been INSANELY fun to write and is filled with some crazy twists I think readers are going to love.

Go ahead and snag your copy now – and if you haven’t already done so, be sure to read Curses and Crowns first! This series is meant to be read in sequential order.

A cut-throat competition.
A romance to die for.

Danielle Parker’s life was a dream. Until it became a living nightmare.

Ripped of her memories of how she was kidnapped from her family, Danielle is whisked away to the mystical Crescent Cape—a kingdom ruled by vampires, where she is to live out her human life as a blood slave.

She’s not going down without a fight.

But her plans are thwarted when she’s selected to compete for the prince’s heart.

The winner will be turned into a vampire and taken as his bride. And the losers’ blood will be fed to the princess-to-be to complete her transition.

As much as she’s disgusted by the idea of the competition, and as dangerous as Prince Aiden is, she can’t deny her attraction to him—or to his troubled brother, Julian.

Will she be able to resist the brothers’ charms? Or will she find herself pulled into the dangerous world of the vampires of Crescent Cape?

A romantic and thrilling new series that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Perfect for fans of The Vampire Diaries, The Originals and The Selection.

Book Review: Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee

I can’t say enough good things about Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee.

It’s a research-based look at the aesthetics of joy, but the information is presented in a casual way that makes you feel like you’re chatting with a best friend. It’s not a heavy read by any means (rightly so, as it’s titled Joyful!) and is filled with fascinating anecdotes.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a small amount of money if you click through and make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

Reading this inspired me to make a variety of changes in my own home, including making our laundry room (the way we enter our home 99% of the time) a more welcoming space, with cheerful yellow paint and inviting decor. It is SUCH a nicer way to walk in the door.

I could go on and on, but in short, this book is a must-read for anyone searching for ways to appreciate the little things in life.

The biggest takeaway for me was that, with time, we lose that childlike wonder at things that spark joy for us.

Joyful is all about owning and reclaiming those things which bring us happiness.

New Releases in YA Paranormal Romance

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a small amount of money if you click through and make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

Click on the book covers to learn more about these new releases in YA paranormal romance and urban fantasy.

In the year 2133, vampires rule America.

Within the Realms, human life is defined by blood.

But there is a way out: The Testing.

No one knows what happens to those who pass. But rumours of the powerful vampire family who want them spark fear in the chosen few.

When sisters Callie and Montana pass the test, they rebel against their fate and plan to do what no human has ever done.

Escape their Realm.

But the vampires have eyes everywhere and the girls are soon torn apart, sending them spiralling down two dangerous paths.

One to the vampires.

The other to the slayers.

With Callie in the hands of a fierce warrior and Montana trapped in a terrifying ritual run by the royal vampires, can they find their way back to each other before it’s too late?

Or will their fates be decided by the deadly men who shadow them..?

Eternal Reign is an upper YA dystopian paranormal romance with strong female leads and alpha males. If you loved The Selection Series, the Twilight Saga and A Shade of Vampire, you’ll fall for this brand new series!

They fell in love long before they met.
Now the harshness of reality will be their love’s ultimate test.


Ava
The child of a prophecy.

Ava has seen a glorious white wolf in her dreams for two years. They’ve connected so deeply she’s sure he must be real. She just needs to find him…

Hunter
A protector at no matter the cost.

An Alpha from the age of sixteen, Hunter can’t afford to find out if what he’s seen out on the arctic tundra is more than just a lonely fantasy. Wolf numbers are critically low, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to save them.

They meet as a dangerous virus appears in the wolf population and poaching has become far more coordinated. It seems that some are seeking to hasten the wolves’ extinction as the two desperately race against time to save them.

Battling a deadly disease, their responsibilities, and their own undeniable feelings, Ava and Hunter struggle to find the balance between what is right, what is wrong, and who to trust. 

Ultimately, they are going to have to face the only possible solution – that their love may be the key to it all.

From winner of the 2018 RONE Award for Best Young Adult Novel, discover a breathtaking love that will leave a legacy! Grab your copy now. 

Mysterious strangers. Hidden abilities. Inescapable darkness…
Join our courageous heroines and heroes as they battle demons, governments, and secret organizations in worlds where fae, vampires, angels, witches, humans, and more fight for survival.
Cursed Lands will lead you through one doomed world after another in this haunting dystopian, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance boxed set. Inside, you’ll find 22 exclusive, page-turning tales from today’s bestselling and award-winning authors.
Do you dare venture into Cursed Lands, where magic, danger, and romance lurk between the shadows and the light?
One-click today to indulge in over 100 hours of bewitching young adult and new adult reads in this epic limited time collection.

Emma Hamm
Nina Walker 
Claire Luana 
Dorothy Dreyer 
Elle Scott
A.J. Flowers 
Krista Street
Alison Ingleby 
USA Today Bestselling Author B. Kristin McMichael
Ella Wayne 
Jenna Lee 
Char Webster 
K.A. Parkinson 
J.L. Myers 
S K Gregory 
Lichelle Slater 
Michael J. Allen 
Lee French 
Candace Osmond

Plus, my own book, Curses and Crowns, released in February.

A cut-throat competition.
A romance to die for.

Danielle Parker’s life was a dream. Until it became a living nightmare.

Ripped of her memories of how she was kidnapped from her family, Danielle is whisked away to the mystical Crescent Cape—a kingdom ruled by vampires, where she is to live out her human life as a blood slave.

She’s not going down without a fight.

But her plans are thwarted when she’s selected to compete for the prince’s heart.

The winner will be turned into a vampire and taken as his bride. And the losers’ blood will be fed to the princess-to-be to complete her transition.

As much as she’s disgusted by the idea of the competition, and as dangerous as Prince Aiden is, she can’t deny her attraction to him—or to his troubled brother, Julian.

Will she be able to resist the brothers’ charms? Or will she find herself pulled into the dangerous world of the vampires of Crescent Cape?

A romantic and thrilling new series that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Perfect for fans of The Vampire Diaries, The Originals and The Selection.

Book Review: The Vampire War by Michelle Madow

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a small amount of money if you click through and make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

The Vampire War is the fifth and final book in The Vampire Wish series, and oh my goodness! It did not disappoint.

I flew through the book. Madow expertly crafted competing storylines and weaved them together for the final book so beautifully. I think anyone who read the previous books will find it to be a satisfying conclusion.

What’s more, it’s the perfect lead-in to the next book in the overarching Dark World series, The Angel Trials.

Normally, I wouldn’t be drawn to a book about angels. I’ve never read one and honestly didn’t even know that was a thing in urban fantasy until recently. But since I’m already familiar with the characters from The Vampire Wish series, I’m curious enough to keep reading.

And, let’s face it – this will be the third series of Madow’s that I’ve read. Based on her other work, I know it won’t disappoint.

Enjoy This Sneak Peek of the New YA Vampire Series Curses And Crowns by L. Danvers

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a small amount of money if you click through and make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

I am beyond thrilled to share a sneak peek at my brand new release, Curses and Crowns.

If you’re a fan of The Vampire Diaries, The Originals or The Selection, then you’ll fall in love with this addicting new YA paranormal romance series.

Scroll down to read the first chapter. Warning: you’re in for a wild ride!

Chapter One

Danielle

At this rate, the vampire was going to drain me dry. Knees buckling, I dug my fingers into his arms, burying my nails deep into his flesh, trying to fight him off. I pleaded for him to stop.

Tears raced down my cheeks, trickling down my neck. It was still raw from the puncture wounds, and the salt intensified the pain, sending me into a fit of agony. But my pounding heart only thrilled him more, delivering what little blood I had left running through my veins to his mouth even faster. “You’re taking too much.”

His fangs suctioned harder. He was going to kill me if he didn’t stop.

Part of me wished he would.

This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. But I didn’t have the strength to push him away. My ears filled with the sound of him gulping, and with each long sip, I grew weaker.

I didn’t know how much longer I could last. I tried steadying myself as the room began to spin. Everything went off-kilter, and the colors surrounding me swirled together in a mesmerizing blur. “Please,” I said, my voice cracking.

But he didn’t slow down. And the more he drank, the harder it became to breathe.

“Hey,” one of the guards overseeing the blood donation tent shouted as he stormed toward us. “Levi! Stop! You’re going to kill her. You know the rule: no killing the blood slaves.”

But Levi was consumed by bloodlust, unable to stop himself.

Self-control wasn’t one of vampires’ strong points.

The guard ripped Levi off of me. Levi’s neck gave a crack as the guard snapped it, temporarily knocking him out, and he crashed to the floor.

I collapsed right on top of him. My vision faded in and out. I knew I wouldn’t actually die, though. This wasn’t the first time a vampire had gotten greedy.

The guard bit into his right wrist. When the blood began to flow from it, he turned me over on my back and forced his wrist into my mouth. “Drink.”

My lips felt like they were going to go numb. It was like pressing them against an ice cube. Even though I didn’t want to, I swallowed, gagging, disgusted by the bitter taste. His blood ran slow, as all vampires’ did. Meaning I had to try with all my might to suction it out and force it down my throat.

I wish I’d had the strength to fight him off so that I could just die already, but I’d been through this routine countless times. It wasn’t worth the fight. I was the Kingdom of Crescent Cape’s property. And I’d given up fighting years ago.

I’d lost count of how many times I’d thought that if I could find the courage to refuse the vampire blood that would heal me, this would all be over. I could be at peace. But that wasn’t an option. The vampires needed me and the rest of the blood slaves alive. We were their food source. And if they wanted to live, then we needed to live, too. Which is why Levi had gotten in trouble for nearly killing me, and why the guard was saving me now.

After giving me enough of his blood to trigger the healing process, the guard pulled his wrist away. The bite marks on his wrist disappeared as his skin restored itself right before my eyes. I’d never get used to that. It was so… unnatural.

He helped me to my feet and told me to return home, even though Donation Day was far from over. But I was of no use to them now that I had vampire blood in my system. So they’d have to do without me until next week’s donation.

I nodded, clutching my torso as I accepted his order. The thought of having vampire blood pumping through my veins made my stomach churn. I knew I’d spend the next twenty-four hours praying to stay alive. Otherwise, I’d become like the monsters that ruled over me.

But once twenty-four hours passed, I’d be safe.

The vampire blood would be out of my system, and I’d be free from its effects—and the curse I would bear if I were to die with it inside of me.

I hated these vile creatures. They’d taken everything from me. The last thing I wanted to do was to become one. So, doing as the guard had instructed, I returned to my home—if the rickety huts they supplied us with could be called such a thing.

The hut that I shared with my roommate Tessa was empty since she was still offering up her blood to the vampires. Meanwhile, I was in desperate need of nourishment. The guard’s blood had healed me, but I was still starving. The weekly post-donation feast wasn’t until later this evening, so stale bread and cheese would have to do for now. I cracked open a loaf and spread a sliver of Brie on top of it, not bothering to remove the rind. I needed every calorie I could get my hands on.

While I was no stranger to near-death experiences here in Crescent Cape, it occurred to me that Levi nearly killing me could be used to my advantage.

I’d been waiting for my opportunity for so long.

Now that my head had started to clear, it occurred to me that maybe this was my chance.

Even though I knew no one was around, I scanned the room to be extra sure. I couldn’t risk anyone seeing what I was about to do.

I made my way over to the nightstand that Tucker, another villager, had crafted for me. I pulled open the drawer and retrieved my book. I thumbed through the worn pages, passing over the one I’d bookmarked. Seeing the bookmark, a scrap of paper I’d drawn all over, brought a smile to my face, and I chuckled to myself. Vampires might be bloodsuckers, but people who folded the corners of books were monsters, too, as far as I was concerned. I may not have had much here in this little hut, but you’d better believe I’d made myself a bookmark.

I kept flipping through the book until I found it: the envelope I’d tucked in toward the back.

I breathed a sigh of relief. The money was still there.

I’d been tucking cash away for some time now. I had to get the hell out of Crescent Cape and back to my family. The vampire who’d kidnapped me must have compelled me to forget how exactly I ended up here. The last memory I had from my old life was vacationing with my family on the East Coast. And the next thing I knew, I was a blood slave.

I was only eight years old when the vampire took me. Now, ten years later, I was no longer that frightened little girl. I wasn’t going to accept the notion that my only purpose in life was to be convenience food for vampires. It was time to start taking agency over my life. And that was exactly why I was going to leave Crescent Cape for good.

And if I got killed in the process of trying to leave… well, at least, in the end, I would have died standing up for myself. I could be at peace with that.

I folded the cash and tucked it into my bra so that I could carry it, but keep it hidden. I thought about walking out right then and there, but there was something I needed to do first.

I needed to say goodbye to Tessa.

Of course, I couldn’t do that face to face. I couldn’t let her know what I was doing, at least not without getting a head start first.

I would have loved nothing more than to bring Tessa with me. But I knew her well enough to know she would be too scared to attempt such a dangerous thing. Trying to escape had dire consequences. If the vampires were to catch me, I’d suffer the same fate as so many had before me: I’d be drawn and quartered in the village square.

Yeah. The vampires that ruled Crescent Cape were old-fashioned like that.

I wouldn’t even have time to start transitioning into a vampire if they caught me in the next twenty-four hours. I couldn’t transition if I were ripped to shreds.

Not that I’d go through with feeding to complete the transition anyway. There was nothing that would ever convince me to become one of them.

I sat down at the tiny table in the corner and wrote Tessa a letter explaining what I was doing and saying goodbye. I also left her my parents’ names and address so that, if I didn’t make it and she ever managed to leave this wretched place, she could tell them I tried getting back to them and that I loved them.

On the back side, I sketched a portrait of Tessa.

She’d always loved my artwork, and this was my parting gift to her. Something she could remember me by. I took care to capture her sweet smile and the little bump in her nose. But I took a little liberty with her eyes to make her appear more confident. I hoped she would understand that in doing so, I was trying to remind her to be brave.

Deep, unrecognizable voices rumbled outside, growing louder by the second.

Before I had a chance to peek out the window, someone banged on my door.

Knowing that definitely wasn’t Tessa’s knock, I snatched the paper from the table and crumpled it in my fist before tossing it into the trash on my way to the door. Heart pounding, I answered it.

Two of the vampires from the castle invited themselves in. They wore fine suits, as did all of the guards. After all, they didn’t need armor or weapons. They were weapons.

I gulped. “Can I help you with something?”

“Prince Aiden requires your presence at the castle,” the taller one said, as if that was a perfectly normal thing to say. He clasped his hands and widened his stance, somehow making himself look even more menacing.

“Prince Aiden?” My voice hitched. That was strange. What would the prince want with me? As far as I knew, he didn’t even know I existed—which was exactly how I liked it.

He nodded.

I backed away, even though I knew there was nowhere to run.

Did Prince Aiden somehow know I was going to try to escape? I mean, I knew vampires had the power of compulsion. But reading minds? Surely, I would have heard about such a vital piece of information by now…

“I didn’t do anything,” I said, tripping over my own feet as I inched backward. “I swear.”

I’d hardly blinked before he grabbed me by the arms. He took my face, cradling it in his icy palms, and I knew what he was about to do.

I closed my eyes, trying to stop him from compelling me.

But the other one jabbed me in the back so hard that stupidly, out of instinct, I opened my eyes when I cried out in pain.

The guard standing before me looked at me dead-on, his eyes widening as he wielded control. He said something to me, but my head went fuzzy.

All of a sudden, I stood there, relaxed and perfectly at ease. I raised my chin, smiling. “I will go with you to the castle to meet Prince Aiden.”

“I’m glad to hear you say that, Danielle.”

And I followed him outside.

Want to keep reading? Just click here to grab your copy of Curses and Crowns today.

Book Review: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I’m a bit torn as far as how to review this one. On the one hand, I feel like this book is really inspirational in that it shows that with enough grit and determination, you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to, no matter how hard.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a small amount of money if you click through and make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

On the other hand, while her life being in turmoil was what led her to begin her trek, it seemed the same poor decision-making continued throughout the entire journey. I kept waiting for a significant “a-ha! moment,” but it never seemed to come. I was just baffled that someone could make so many poor choices that had led her to the trail and not come out on the other side a different person. Or maybe she did, and the book just didn’t go into everything that happened AFTER finishing the trail.

Either way, I enjoyed Strayed’s writing style and found it to be an interesting read. And one thing is for certain – she is one resilient woman. I do admire that she perservered through the many hardships she faced.

Book Review: Trust the Wolf by Zoe Ashwood

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a small amount of money if you click through and make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

I read the prequel to the Shift series, Bearly Married, and absolutely loved it. So I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Trust the Wolf.


Ashwood is a brilliant writer. She has this amazing ability to pull the reader into a story and get lost in its pages. Emilia’s and Jason’s relationship unfolded in a way that felt so real, and the world-building in this story was just incredible. And there was tons of action, which I really enjoyed.

Ashwood is a brilliant writer. She has this amazing ability to pull the reader into a story and get lost in its pages. Emilia’s and Jason’s relationship unfolded in a way that felt so real, and the world-building in this story was just incredible. And there was tons of action, which I really enjoyed.

I also loved how she connected this book to the prequel. Even though they can be read independently of each other, she wove the stories together beautifully.

Trust the Wolf has much more steam than I’m used to reading, so I did find myself having to skip a few pages here and there. But the story was SO compelling I didn’t mind – and for fans of this genre, that will be a big plus anyway. Just keep in mind this isn’t a YA read. 😉

I think Ashwood is a writer to watch for sure. If you like steamy paranormal reads, you will fall in love with her stories.

Q&A with Author Andrew Einspruch

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a small amount of money if you click through and make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

You have an impressive background in fiction and nonfiction. Why did you decide to start writing YA books?

I sometimes teach creative writing classes, and in the 2000s, I taught a bunch of them. I had a standard set of exercises, and one of them was, “Write for two minutes as fast as you can starting with this sentence: ‘Please, please marry my son.’” I always do the exercises with the class (it’s more fun that way), and at one of these, I wrote, “‘Please, please marry my son,’ implored the chipmunk of the maiden.” The chipmunk goes on to say how unsuitable her son is.

It was a short little toss-off exercise, but something made me think, “I kinda like this. There’s something here.” I poked at the idea on and off for, literally, years, but bogged down. And then in April 2016, I thought, “I have to give this a real shot.” I wrote what became THE PURPLE HAZE, with that first line more or less intact.


I’d never written anything that long before, and at first I thought I had maybe a little 35,000 word novella on my hands. Hundreds of thousands of words later, there’s now three books in the series plus two standalone prequels.

So, YA found me more than I found it.

What do you love most about the young adult genre?

I love the characters, and how they’re just on that cusp of adulthood. Their concerns are very different to what they will be five years later. It’s a fun age to explore. Plus, I write very clean novels, and I think its easier to do with characters of that age.

Do you prefer outlining or are you a “pantser” as we like to call it in the industry?

I tried to pants THE PURPLE HAZE, but like I said, got bogged down. It wasn’t until I had an outline and sense of the full story that I was able to get on track. So think of me as a light outliner — I need to know where I’m going, but I don’t go into heavy detail in the chapters beforehand. Maybe a sentence or two per chapter.

What project are you currently working on?

Just this week, I sent the manuscript for book three in the series, THE LIGHT BEARER, to my alpha readers. So, right now, I’m starting book four, QUEEN ELOISE. I’ve written the first few thousand words, but, to your earlier question, I’m still hammering out the story outline. So the writing isn’t quite as fast at the moment as it will be.

How did you come up with the idea for it?

Being the fourth book in the series, it flows on from the story that precedes it. I know where this book starts, and I know where the book will end. I just need to connect those points with a whole bunch of story in between.

What is the last book you read? Did you enjoy it?

The last book I read was Libbie Hawker’s “Take Off Your Pants,” a book about outlining. I’m trying to get my head in the story structure space. It’s the third or fourth time I’ve gone through her book.


The fiction book I read was “The Consuming Fire” (The Interdependency, #2) by John Scalzi. I’m a big fan of Scalzi’s — I like his breezy, funny style — and have enjoyed the first two books in this series.


What’s next on your TBR list?

My favourite author of all time is William Gibson. Nothing thrills me more than a new Gibson novel. He has one coming out called Agency, which I can’t wait to read, but it is going to be a few months yet (September 2019). In anticipation, I’ve been working through his back catalogue. So next on my TBR pile is “Mona Lisa Overdrive,” his third book, once I finish his second, “Count Zero.


Do you prefer to read physical books or eBooks?

Neither. I’m very much an audio book guy. With my wife and daughter, I run Australia’s largest farm animal sanctuary (see deeppeacetrust.com), and I have a day job. So I have a lot of time doing things that allow me to multi-task and listen to books, like shovelling manure or driving. So, give me an audio book any day. And if I can’t have that, then I’ll get the ebook version and have Siri read it to me. I find it’s the most efficient way for me to enjoy them.

When reading physical books, do you use bookmarks or do you fold corners?

Bookmarks. Definitely and emphatically bookmarks.

What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Pay attention to the niggles and hints that show you where your true interests lie, and then have the self-confidence to act on them. It’ll be a much more interesting work life if you do.

To subscribe to Andrew Einspruch’s newsletter and get a free copy of The Wombanditos, just CLICK HERE.

And if you’d like to connect with him on social media, you can find him here:

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Website