Blog Tour- Review for Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk + Giveaway

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I am excited to be reviewing Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk today! I love gladiator stories and a fierce female lead. This book has both in spades!

About the Book

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Blood and Sand
By: C.V. Wyk
Release Date: January 16
Publisher: Tor Teen

FORGED IN BATTLE…
FROM THE DUST OF THE ARENA…
A LEGEND WILL RISE

The action-packed tale of a 17-year-old warrior princess and a handsome gladiator who dared take on the Roman Republic—and gave rise to the legend of Spartacus…

For teens who love strong female protagonists in their fantasy and historical fiction, Blood and Sand is a stirring, yet poignant tale of two slaves who dared take on an empire by talented debut author C. V. Wyk.

Roma Victrix. The Republic of Rome is on a relentless march to create an empire—an empire built on the backs of the conquered, brought back to Rome as slaves. 

Attia was once destined to rule as the queen and swordmaiden of Thrace, the greatest warrior kingdom the world had seen since Sparta. Now she is a slave, given to Xanthus, the Champion of Rome, as a sign of his master’s favor. Enslaved as a child, Xanthus is the preeminent gladiator of his generation.

Against all odds, Attia and Xanthus form a tentative bond. A bond that will spark a rebellion. A rebellion that threatens to bring the Roman Republic to its end—and gives rise to the legend of Spartacus…

The story continues in Fire and Ash, coming in 2019 from Tor Teen.

My Review:

I am so excited that more books are being released that feature gladiators and Roman times! This historical novel reads less historical and more fantasy to me (pacing and depth of world etc). It was fast paced and a quick read. I immediately was captivated by the characters, especially Attia. She was amazingly fierce, determined, and relatable. She was groomed to take over Thrace but instead is captured and sold as a slave. Instead of giving up she used her strengths to start a change. Got to love that!

Wyk did an impeccable job describing ancient Rome and the people living in it. Her descriptions were well done and she didn’t hesitate to write about the violence of this time period. The action sequences were really well done and I could really see this book as a film.

The bond between Attia and Xanthus was perfect-I loved that they slowly warmed up to one another (slow burn is my ultimate favorite thing). There wasn’t an instant connection between these two. Both didn’t want to really see good within the other but eventually they really related to one another. I thought it was beautifully (and realistically) done.

The side characters weren’t ignored- you really cared for them and feared for their futures. This made the choices Attia made more realistic since not only would she be impacted but the people around her would be too. Since you cared for each character it was really a tense read in parts.

I honestly don’t know too much about Spartacus (I haven’t watched the show or researched the story) so I can’t tell you how well this accomplished the retelling aspect. But, I can say that no prior historical knowledge is needed to become immersed in this book and characters. And, you might even find yourself Googling Spartacus after you read it.

Giveaway:

Tor Teen has provided 3 Hardcovers to be sent to 3 winners in the US or Canada. You must be 12 years or older to enter.

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Tour Schedule

Jan 8 “ Mary Had A Little Book Blog

Jan 9  Novel Knight

Jan 10  The Book Nut

Jan 11  Short & Sweet Reviews

Jan 12  Rabid Reads

Jan 15  Brittany’s Book Rambles

Jan 16 Powder and Page

Jan 17 Arctic Books

Jan 18 My Friends Are Fiction

Jan 19 Itching for Books

Jan 22 Pretty Deadly Reviews

Jan 23 Chasing Faerytales

Jan 24 Bumbles and Fairytales

Jan 25 Ageless Pages Reviews

Jan 26 Gizmo’s Reviews

The Dark Days Pact Blog Tour- Guest Post + Giveaway

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I fell head over heels last year for Alison Goodman’s The Dark Days Club. This book swept me away and I fell so in love with the characters I couldn’t wait for the sequel, The Dark Days Pact. The moment this landed on my doorstep (after flailing) I picked it up and became 100% immersed again in this vivid world and characters (read my review here). I am beyond honored to have the author here on my blog today talking about the historical research involved with writing these books.

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Guest Post

Feel like a swim at Brighton beach in 1812? For a lady, it wasn’t a straightforward business. First you had to purchase a swimming chemise made of flannel with lead weights sewn into the hem. Heaven forbid that your gown should rise in the water and expose your nethers! It was true that the lead would most likely weigh you down in the water, but it didn’t really matter because you would not actually be swimming. Instead, you would book a session with a dipper; a burly local woman who would hold on to you tight and plunge you in and out of the water, rather like a teabag.

Of course, getting into the water was not just a matter of walking through the waves. It involved a wooden bathing box on wheels and a small, salt encrusted pony. The bathing box had a door at either end. You would enter at the beach-end and the little pony would haul the box into the sea, then it would be unhitched and taken around to the other side to be hitched in readiness to drag the box and you out again. Meanwhile, you would open the seaward door and descend the bathing box steps into the strong arms of your dipper.

One two three, plunge, One two three plunge. There, you have taken your ‘swim’. .

The Lady Helen series is historically accurate (give or take a few thousand nasty demons), and so when I read about this method of sea bathing in Regency Brighton, I knew I had to include a scene in The Dark Days Pact where my protagonist, Lady Helen, is ‘dipped’ by one of these fabulous local women.  In fact, I wanted Helen to be dipped by the most famous dipper of all time:  Martha Gunn. Martha was so famous that songs were written about her and her image appeared on souvenir crockery. She was also a favorite of the Prince Regent who liked her so much that he allowed her free access to the royal kitchens at Brighton Pavilion for her entire life. In the summer of 1812, when The Dark Days Pact is set, Martha would have been in her eighties and she was still dipping people in the sea!

To research something like the bathing box scene, I always start by reading widely on the subject. I found articles about Martha and her life, and books about Brighton that described the boxes and how they were used. I also hunted out descriptions of sea bathing in letters and diaries from the time, and my most valued find was a travel guide to All the Water and Sea-Bathing Places in England  from 1813 that included a chapter on Brighton. I was also fortunate enough to visit Brighton and its museum, which had a fabulous little section on sea bathing throughout history.

I then turned to visual prompts, which help me imagine the historical scene. I found a drawing of sea bathing at Regency Brighton on the internet (see picture). It is a caricature – a mode of illustration that became very popular in the Regency – and although it is drawn for laughs, I was able to pick up a lot of incidental information about bathing boxes and the process of dipping. I double-checked everthing, of course – that is part of the research process too.

Finally, once I had all the facts I needed in hand, I wrote the scene and layered in the sensory detail from my own experience. I live near the sea in Australia so, of course, I have a lot of sensory information about sea bathing. I used that to create the sensations that Helen feels as she steps out of the bathing box. The shock of cold water against her skin, the weight of waves slapping against her body, the low roar of the surf cut by the shrill screech of gulls, and the taste of salt on her lips. And above all, the safe arms of Martha Gunn:

Martha viewed an incoming wave with narrowed eyes. ‘Hold tight,’ she advised, then jumped, pulling Helen above its crest with practised ease.

Hold Tight. Sage advice for anyone about to step into the dangerous, demon hunting world of The Dark Days Pact.

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Mermaids at Brighton by William Heath 1829

About the Book

thedarkdayspactThe Dark Days Pact (Lady Helen #2)
By Alison Goodman
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers

Summary:
June 1812. Just weeks after her catastrophic coming-out ball, Lady Helen Wrexhall—now disowned by her uncle—is a full member of the demon-hunting Dark Days Club. Her mentor, Lord Carlston, has arranged for Helen to spend the summer season in Brighton so that he can train her new Reclaimer powers. However, the long-term effects of Carlston’s Reclaimer work have taken hold, and his sanity is beginning to slip. At the same time, Carlston’s Dark Days Club colleague and nemesis will stop at nothing to bring Helen over to his side—and the Duke of Selburn is determined to marry her. The stakes are even higher for Helen as she struggles to become the warrior that everyone expects her to be.

Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win either one (1) grand prize set of Lady Helen books, including a paperback of The Dark Days Club and a hardcover of The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman (ARV: $28.98), or to be one of five (5) second prize winners to receive paperback copies of The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman (ARV: $10.99).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on January 23, 2017 and 12:00 AM on February 13, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about February 14, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.
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Blog Tour Stops

Week One:
1/23 – A Page With a View – Like/Try/Why
1/24 – Tales of a Ravenous Reader – Interview
1/25 – Twinning for Books – Review + Mood Board
1/26 – My Friends Are Fiction – Guest Post
1/27 – In Wonderland – Review
Week Two:
1/30 – Alexa Loves Books – Bookish Style File
1/31 – The Reading Nook Reviews – Interview
2/1 – Xpresso Reads – Playlist
2/2 – The YA Book Traveler – They Did What?!
2/3 – Icey Books – Guest Post
Week Three:
2/6 – YA Book Central – Excerpt
2/7 – Fiction Fare – Guest Post
2/8 – Forever Young Adult – Coming-Out Ball Mishaps
2/9 – Dark Faerie Tales – Interview
2/10 – Adventures of a Book Junkie – Reasons to Read

DNF Review for Blood Red Snow White by Marcus Sedgwick

bloodredsnowwhiteBlood Red Snow White
By: Marcus Sedgwick
Release Date: October 25th 2016
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

I DNFed at page 93

Summary:
There never was a story that was happy through and through.

When writer Arthur Ransome leaves his home in England and moves to Russia to work as a journalist, it is with little idea of the violent revolution about to erupt. Unwittingly, he finds himself at its center, tapped by the British to report back on the Bolsheviks even as he becomes dangerously romantically entangled with revolutionary leader Trotsky’s personal secretary. Both sides seek to use Arthur for their own purposes…and, as he struggles to find autonomy, both sides grow to suspect him of being a double agent. Arthur wants only to elope far from the conflict with his beloved. But when he attempts to extract himself and Evgenia from the complicated politics and politicians that he fears will lead them both to their deaths, the decisions he faces are the most dangerous and difficult of his life.

My Thoughts:
Blood Red Snow White started off so strongly for me. I was immediately captivated with the writing and story telling. This book was written as if I was listening to my grandfather telling me stories. I was in love. I just KNEW I’d love this book to pieces.

So, what went wrong? The tone of the book changed as we got to the main character and his story. It went from the fairy tale feel to more of a dull account of what Arthur was doing, talking to and seeing. I wanted to be interested but sadly I was not.

This book heavily goes into Russian history which, at first, I found intriguing. I loved they symbolism Sedgwick utilized and felt that it was such a strong start. Once the scene was set and the real story began all the heart just seemed to leave the story. I felt nothing for Author though I wanted to.

Also, if you are thinking this is a fairytale retelling- it’s not. You might think from the title- Snow White- but nope. It has nothing to do with Snow White. The beginning did feel like a fairy tale but after that it felt very much like historical fiction. If you are a fan of slower paced historical or Russian history this book might be for you.

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Have you read this book? Should I continue? Does it ever got back to the beautiful feeling of the beginning of the novel?

 

Blog Tour- And I Darken Offical Trailer + Giveaway

And I Darken Banner
Today I’m sharing with you the official trailer for And I Darken. I was really swept away with this book and how White took the historical figure of Vlad the Impaler and switched his gender to a female for this book. I think this opened up some very interesting avenues for the story to go yet White was able to really keep with the time period and historical elements of his lifetime. You can check out my review here to read more of my thoughts.

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About the Book

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NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL.

And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

CLAIM THE THRONE. Visit AndIDarken.com to order now!

About the Author

Kiersten White

KIERSTEN WHITE is the New York Times bestselling author of the Paranormalcy trilogy; the dark thrillers Mind Games and Perfect Lies; The Chaos of Stars; and Illusions of Fate. She also coauthored In the Shadows with Jim Di Bartolo. She lives with her family near the ocean in San Diego, which, in spite of its perfection, spurs her to dream of faraway places and even further away times.

Find Kiersten on Goodreads | Website | Twitter

Official Trailer

 

Giveaway

US only, Prize will be provided by the ever generous Random House

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Tour Stops

Monday, May 30th: Icey Books, Review
Tuesday, May 31st: Bookiemoji, Guest Post (Character Profiles)
Wednesday, June 1st: Seeing Double in Neverland, Review
Thursday, June 2nd: Alexa Loves Books, Playlist Post
Friday, June 3rd: Awesome Book Nut, Review
Monday, June 6th: Jessabella Reads, Review
Tuesday, June 7th: The Eater of Books!, Top Five Roundup
Wednesday, June 8th: Across the Words, Review
Thursday, June 9th: Pandora’s Books, Sneak Peek for Book Two
Friday, June 10th: Tales of the Ravenous Reader, Review
Monday, June 13th: A Midsummer Night’s Read, Review
Tuesday, June 14th: The Irish Banana Review, Top 10 Guest Post
Wednesday, June 15th: Stories & Sweeties, Review
Thursday, June 16th: Jenuine Cupcakes, Author Mystery Guest Post
Friday, June 17th: The Soul Sisters, Review
Monday, June 20th: Winterhaven Books, Review
Tuesday, June 21st: Two Chicks on Books, Q&A (4-6 questions)
Wednesday: June 22nd: The Book Swarm, Review
Thursday, June 23rd: Read. Sleep. Repeat., Top Five Fantasy Books Kiersten Loves to Re-Read
Friday, June 24th: Please Feed The Bookworm, Review
Monday, June 27th: Comfort Books, Review
Tuesday, June 28th: Fitshun, Q&A
Wednesday, June 29th: Addicted Readers,Review
Thursday, June 30th: Lindsay Cummings, Movie Casting Post
Friday, July 1st: Rabid Reads, Review
Monday, July 4th: Reading Teen, Review
Tuesday, July 5th: YA Bibliophile, Guest Post (Trip to Romania)
Wednesday, July 6th: Carina’s Books, Review
Thursday, July 7th: Mundie Moms, Author Mystery Guest Post
Friday, July 8thMy Friends Are Fiction, Surprise Post!

Review of My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

MyLadyJaneMy Lady Jane
By: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows
Release Date: June 7th 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided to me in consideration of an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
For fans of The Princess Bride comes the comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey.

Lady Jane Grey, sixteen, is about to be married to a total stranger—and caught up in an insidious plot to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But that’s the least of Jane’s problems. She’s about to become Queen of England. Like that could go wrong.

My Thoughts:
Oh man. This book. I saw SO many 5 star reviews and so much praise I was thrilled when a copy landed on my door. I hadn’t originally planned to read it only because I wasn’t overly thrilled with the author’s previous work nor did the idea of a comedy intrigue me. As my husband so happily reminds me, I have a very limited sense of humor. It is very rare for things to get me to laugh. After hearing how amazing this book was and that comparison to The Princess Bride I thought- I’ll have to love this.

Sadly, this was not the case. I could see what the authors were going for and I respect the effort. I easily saw where things were supposed to cause the reader to laugh but it all fell rather flat for me. I felt the pacing was uneven and sections really dragged. I fully felt the girth of this novel and multiple times I considered DNFing but I kept hoping I’d start to love it. There were moments I thought I’d be able to really connect to the characters and story but it never happened.

I think the writing style was to blame for my complete disconnect. I always felt at arms length. I never really cared about the character’s outcome nor did I ever like Edward. I really wanted to but nope. I also never shipped the romances. Man, this review is seeming so harsh. The thing is I didn’t hate it at all it just wasn’t something I would read again or own. I do appreciate the creativity of doing something different and approaching history with what could/should have been.

I could easily see the attempt to add that Princess Bride feel and I think the book succeeded in that for the most part but it lacked heart for me personally. I did find the addition of humans turning to animals a fun twist though I couldn’t help but compare the divide with the historical religious divide between Catholic and Protestant.

I was impressed with how well the authors work all flowed together and I wasn’t able to see where one work ended and the other began. I couldn’t tell you if they all wrote each character or if they each took one. Their styles and work were seamless.

Final Thoughts:
I am so sad that this book didn’t work for me. The humor, characters and pacing all were a miss for me though I appreciate the idea behind the book and a comical approach to historical fiction.

 

MyLadyJaneIG
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