A mortal's dream to be a queen of the fae... Mortal Queens by Victoria McCombs (Review & #Giveaway) #newbooks #booktwitter #yalit #yabooks #fantasy @enclavebooks @celebrate_lit


Welcome to my tour stop! Read my review and enter the giveaway below...

Mortal Queens
(The Fae Dynasty #1)
By Victoria McCombs
YA Fantasy
Hardcover, Audiobook & eBook, 320 Pages
February 6, 2024 by Enclave Escape 

Summary

They vanish without a trace, disappear into the night…

Each year on the center island, one girl is chosen to be the next Mortal Queen of the idolized fae. The mortals praise these lucky girls, but their daughters are never seen again.

The fae realm is eternal night, where disputes are settled by chess matches, power is acquired through the most devious kinds of trickery, and seven illusive kings roam. The fae hide their faces behind masks and guard their glass hearts to keep them from shattering. But beyond the veil of this luxurious paradise, a dark secret simmers, for their Queens have disappeared.

When aspiring artist Althea is selected, she is desperate to avoid the same mysterious fate. With no one to trust, she conceals messages in paintings and receives anonymous replies from a stranger who slowly reveals the tale of a girl who outwitted the fae. Only if she is clever enough will Althea survive the fate of the Mortal Queens. As long as the king who cannot love does not claim her first.

(Affiliate links included.)

My Review

MORTAL QUEENS is a story about a girl's dream coming true and how that dream turns into a nightmare when she finds out not all is as she assumed. It's about friendship, family, romance, deception and truth all set in a vivid fantasy world of the fae. Fans of young adult fantasy and fae stories will find much to love about this book.

I liked these characters as well as the premise from the start. Althea is someone who has had to fight for her family's survival ever since losing her mom years ago, even though her dad remains. She has grown up with fanciful stories of the fae from her mom and an equal amount of stories of warning from her dad, but just like all maidens on her island, she hopes to one day be chosen as a mortal queen of the fae. I liked how she cared for her brothers and how she bravely accepted her fate at the beginning. Of course things change when she realizes everything isn't as she thought and the tricks, traps, and games begin in the fae world. The other characters were interesting as well. I really loved the fae world that the author created and how there is an underlying reason for these mortal queens. I liked the constant back and forth with the fae as they aren't human and aren't generally trustworthy. The magic, hierarchy and fantasy world were all interesting as well. There is plenty of mystery as readers follow Althea on her journey to self discovery and to find answers as she navigates this new world. There is also a bit of romance that is a bit of a slowly drawn out instantaneous love.

There were a few things I would have liked developed more. The characters and the fae especially as a people weren't consistent. The author portrays them a certain way and then contradicts that at several points, so it was a bit confusing as a reader to be told something and see them act one way and then in the next breath be completely vulnerable which didn't fit. The heroine is also said to have been prepared by her dad with specific skills but somehow doesn't use any of them nor is prepared for what she faces. I felt like a lot of that needed to be worked through and developed so that things were consistent. I also was frustrated by answers and reasoning never being given. Some things were alluded to and then never visited again. She's told all sorts of incorrect stories and lies, but also told that certain people wouldn't lie who tell her those things, so none of it is reliable. Other things were constantly hinted at but when the heroine was given an opportunity to be aided, she was answered with more questions and teasing instead of straight answers. It's a pet peeve of mine when stories won't answer questions even if it makes logical or genuine sense to do so just to push forward a plot and take up a whole book. Kind of like when a mom has a magical daughter but won't tell her she's magical or prepare her for an enemy that hunts her just so that the main character is kept in the dark and so that the story can be stretched. It has never made sense to me, especially as I am a parent and would never see that as benefiting my child.

In the end, was it what I wished for? I am a fan of stories with fae and this one intrigued me. I enjoyed the overall idea, the fantasy world, and generally liked the characters. I wanted more development in certain areas, but am still planning on finding out what happens in book two.

Content: Some innuendo and violence, but clean.
Source: I received a complimentary ARC from NetGalley through Celebrate Lit, which did not require a positive review. All opinions are my own.

About the Author


Victoria McCombs is the author of YA fantasy books such as The Storyteller’s Daughter and The Royal Rose Chronicles. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and three children. Her days are filled with coffee, reading, golfing, board games, and homeschooling the littles.

More from the Author

There are several parties thrown in the fae realm, so today I’ll be sharing a party favorite recipe! I’ve had strangers reach out years after a party to ask for this recipe, and it’s so simple to make!

Cucumber Party Sandwiches

Ingredients: One French loaf (the thinner, the better. It will be topped with a cucumber.)

1-2 cucumbers

8 oz cream cheese

½ cup mayo

1 package dry Italian dressing

We’d always buy the French loaf in a roll that you bake like crescent rolls, however I’ve struggled to find them recently, so I just buy the premade bread. However you acquire your bread, you’ll want it cooked and sliced into inch thick pieces.

Cut medium-thick slices of cucumber

Combine the cream cheese, mayo, and dry Italian dressing.

Spread the mixture over the bread, then top with cucumber. May garnish with pepper if desired. Done!

Tour Schedule

The Lofty Pages, February 24

Texas Book-aholic, February 25

Wishful Endings, February 26


Book Looks by lisa, February 28







Fiction Book Lover, March 6 (Spotlight)


Simple Harvest Reads, March 7 (Guest Review from Mindy)

Guild Master, March 8 (Spotlight)


Tour-Wide Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Victoria is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


Have you read any of this author's other books? Are you a fan of stories with fae? Will you be reading this one?

An intriguing scifi... When Legends Rise by Daphne Self (Review & #Giveaway) #booktwitter #scifi #christfic #christianfiction #whenlegendsrise @celebrate_lit


Welcome to my tour stop! Find my review and a giveaway below...

When Legends Rise
(Legends of Light #1)
By Daphne Self
Christian Science Fiction
Paperback & eBook, 400 Pages
July 26, 2022 by Ambassador International 

Summary

He is now one of them. Genetically altered . . . Designed to kill . . . Trained to eradicate . . . Until he became more. Juliet 7-A was the top elite assassin for the Global Federated Territories until an ambush deemed him beyond salvaging. He was scheduled for decommission. His only recourse for survival is a new identity and his search for the one friend he had―a friend who defected and deserted him. Those he once hunted will save him. Yet it comes with a price. A price that demands much of him. What happens when an assassin awakens?

(Affiliate links included.)

My Review

WHEN LEGENDS RISE is a space opera set in a futuristic world where a man who was once fighting as an assassin escapes for his life with the plan on reuniting with one of his soldier brothers, and a girl who left her home to make her own journey and has learned that home was where she belonged. It a story of a group of Christians fighting to practice their faith and the group who seeks to destroy them. It's also a story of finding unexpected new faith and love. Christian scifi fans who like their books strong in the religious aspect with a focus on conversion will enjoy this one.

I really liked the main characters, Jules and Abby. I also enjoyed Huey and his role as well as some of the other side characters. Abby is this mix of really smart and skilled with hacking versus not necessarily street smart or great at protecting herself. She's also loyal, brave, and loving. Jules is this fierce assassin-turned-pilot who is protective, smart, inhumanly skilled, and is just learning who he is. There's some character development in this story, which I also enjoy and which pushed these characters to figure some things out and make some choices. The romance slowly builds although it is a bit quick. I liked the two love interests together. The scifi and action parts of this story were my favorite. They were quick and well choreographed. I also loved diving into this scifi, space world. The plot is steady with some slower pacing mixed with more climatic, intense moments. I'm curious what the next book will bring.

I also struggled a bit with some of the jerky, almost unnatural actions Jules takes in the first third of the book and then not quite as often for the rest. Some of the dialogue is a bit stilted. The religious aspect was very strong. I don't always love the hard line that was drawn quite a bit in this story or the conversion types of stories since they can be really hard to write well. To me, this one wasn't great in that regard, but I could see what the author was trying to do. There some suspension of belief. There were also some things that didn't feel realistic or make sense to me that could have used some additional development.

In the end, was it what I wished for? This was an overall intriguing scifi. Likable characters and an engaging plot is sure to keep fans of the genre engrossed with promises of more to come.

Content: Some violence, but clean
Source: I received a complimentary copy through Celebrate Lit, which did not require a positive review. All opinions are my own.

About the Author


Daphne Self
, formerly published under the name D.M. Webb, resides in Iowa. As a Mississippian transplant, she spends her days in the Midwest state writing, editing, reading, antiquing, and planning adventures. She pursues her dream as an editor and author with one goal in mind: To Glorify His Name. Daphne is also an avid reader who devours book in many genres. As a long time member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and Realm Makers, she volunteers her time helping published and unpublished authors. 

You can find Daphne here.

Tour Schedule




Artistic Nobody, February 20 (Author Interview)

Madi’s Musings, February 20

Texas Book-aholic, February 21


Wishful Endings, February 23



Blogging With Carol, February 26

Pause for Tales, February 27

Guild Master, February 28 (Author Interview)

The Lofty Pages, February 28


Fiction Book Lover, March 1 (Author Interview)

Tour-Wide Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Daphne is giving away the grand prize package of a paperback copy of the book, bookmarks, character cards, and a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


Do you read SciFi? Does this sound like a book you'd enjoy?

A wagon journey to freedom... Chasing the Horizon by Mary Connealy (Review) #chasingthehorizon #maryconnealy #bhpfiction #romancebooks #historicalromance #newbooks #booktwitter @Bethany_House @austenprose


Welcome to my tour stop! Read my review of this author's newest western below...

Chasing the Horizon
(A Western Light #1)
By Mary Connealy
Christian Historical Romance, Western & Frontier Romance
Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, & Audiobook, 304 Pages
February 13, 2024 by Bethany House Publishers 

Summary

Her only chance at freedom waits across the horizon

Upon uncovering her tyrannical father's malevolent plot to commit her to an asylum, Beth Rutledge fabricates a plan of her own. She will rescue her mother, who had already been sent to the asylum, and escape together on a wagon train heading west. Posing as sisters, Beth and her mother travel with the pioneers in hopes of making it to Idaho before the others start asking too many questions.

Wagon-train scout Jake Holt senses that the mysterious women in his caravan are running from something. When rumors begin to spread of Pinkerton agents searching relentlessly for wanted criminals who match the description of those on his wagon train, including Beth, she begins to open up to him, and he learns something more sinister is at hand. Can they risk trusting each other with their lives--and their hearts--when danger threatens their every step?

Praise for the Book

"Mary Connealy’s Inspirational Western Romances have long been on my radar to try, but the new Western Lights series opener, Chasing the Horizon, was my first opportunity. Imagine my chagrin when I started reading and didn’t want to stop. Oh yes, dear friends, I’d waited too long to discover a gem of a writer."— Sophia Rose, The Reading Frenzy

5 STARS "What an incredible book! It kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time I read it.” — Camille Dayton, Fostering Literacy

5 STARS
“Loved this story! I was intrigued right from the beginning.”— Melissa Goss, Christian Books and Coffee

(Affiliate links included.)

My Review

CHASING THE HORIZON is a story about a daughter and mother and their desperate escape from Chicago in a wagon train. It's about family, both by blood and found, about loss, freedom, friendship, faith and love. Set towards the end of wagon journeys when trains are taking over in the US and when laws are slowly changing to prohibit people being sent to asylums against their will and when they're sane. Readers will fall in love with these characters and cheer them on as they journey.

I came to really like these characters. I completely adored Beth and Jake. They were both solid, hard-working, goodhearted people. I loved how Beth learned all sorts of skills and gained as much knowledge as she could for what she thought she might need to support herself and her mom out west. She was both street smart and intelligent with a fierce heart. Jake was your epitome of a cowboy. Rugged, handsome, strong, a crack-shot, full of wisdom and good intuition. I also liked the other characters: Ginny (Beth's mom), Kat, Sebastian and the Collins brothers. There was also the O'Toole family that were a bit more on the sideline. 

I also enjoyed the plot. It moved at a fairly steady pace with a few places that were more climatic. There was a sense of suspense and danger during several parts, countered by other moments of peace, friendship and romance. There were also a few sad spots where the group faced loss. So, plenty of emotions in this story. The inspirational elements weren't overly prominent and felt like what you'd most likely have in most historical western romances with God fearing people. The romance slowly built over lots of interaction and conversations between the two love interests, which is the best way for it to happen. I'll definitely be reading the next book to find out what happens next with these characters.

I don't have much to criticize about this story. I missed this author's usual humor that wasn't present, but that was more of a disappointed expectation. I think the only major criticism I have is that the story just ends. It doesn't feel like a cliffhanger, but more like the book isn't finished. I was reading an ebook version and I actual checked a print version to be sure I wasn't missing pages or something. I think there could have been a page or two more or another chapter to tie things up until book two. There is a teaser for the second book that literally continues the scene that was cut off at this end of this book, but that felt off to me too. It was very uncharacteristic for a book from this author and publisher to end like this.

In the end, was it what I wished for? This was a consistently enjoyable story. There were some difficult topics brought up and all handled well. The characters were all likable, with some inspiring moments, some suspense, and sweet romance. Definitely a recommended read for fans of the author and genre.

Content: Some violence, but clean.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through Austenprose PR, which did not require a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Other Books in the Series

(Linked to an Amazon affiliate link.)

About the Author


Mary Connealy writes romantic comedies with cowboys. She is independently publishing a contemporary romantic suspense series called Garrison’s Law, book one is Loving the Texas Lawman. Her new historical series, High Sierra Sweethearts begins with The Accidental Guardian. She is also the author of these series: Kincaid Brides, Trouble in Texas, Wild at Heart, Cimarron Legacy, Lassoed in Texas, Montana Marriages, and Sophie's daughters, and has many other books.

She is a two-time Carol Award winner and has been a finalist for the Rita and Christy Awards. She’s a lifelong Nebraskan and lives with her very own romantic cowboy hero. She’s got four grown daughters and four spectacular grandchildren.



Are you a fan of this author or westerns? Did you have ancestors who traveled across the US in a wagon train?

I Can't Wait for... The Orchids of Ashthorne Hall by Rebecca Anderson (Can't-Wait Wednesday) #CWW #WOW #booktwitter #newbooks #regencyromance #romancebooks #cleanreads #histfic #properromance @ProperRomance @ShadowMountn


Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted here to spotlight and discuss the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released. Find out more here.

I have another Proper Romance book to share with you today from a new-to-me author. It's my pick this week...

The Orchids of Ashthorne Hall
(A Proper Romance)
By Rebecca Anderson
Historical Romance, Clean & Wholesome
Paperback, Audiobook & eBook, 272 Pages
April 2, 2024 by Shadow Mountain

Summary

A ghostly estate. A handsome caretaker hiding a secret. And the intrepid Hyacinth Bell who is set on solving the mystery of both.

1887, the Cornwall coast

For years, rumors have flown through the village of Suttonsbury about Ashthorne Hall--that its occupants hoard pirate treasure, that a ghost walks its halls--but botanist Hyacinth Bell only cares about the estate's extensive, one-of-a-kind orchid collection. As an independent woman, she is eager to focus on her career, even if it means waiting to pursue a romantic relationship. After all, love--like an orchid--must be nurtured and tended before it can bloom.

What she doesn't expect is to be swept away by Lucas Harding, the manor's caretaker, upon their first meeting. He is handsome and charming, and the connection between the two is nearly instantaneous. Hyacinth is certain this autumn will be the season that everything good in her life takes root.

But then strange things start happening in the seemingly empty halls of the estate: unexplainable noises, items appearing then disappearing from her room, threatening messages, and glimpses of a woman in white who vanishes into the dark. Lucas dismisses Hyacinth's worries, insisting that there is no ghost at Ashthorne Hall, but she suspects he is withholding information and decides to investigate the mystery herself.

Armed with little more than her instincts and her courage, Hyacinth must venture deep into the shadows of Ashthorne Hall to uncover the truth Lucas is keeping secret before she herself falls victim to the dangers hidden in the estate.

(Affiliate links included.)


Will you be reading this one?

Unrequited love and a marriage of convenience... Finally His Bride by Jody Hedlund (Review) #newbooks #booktwitter #histfic #historicalromance #christfic #romancebooks

Finally His Bride
(Bride Ships: New Voyages #1)
By Jody Hedlund
Christian Historical Romance
Paperback & eBook, 324 Pages
February 12, 2024 by Sunrise Publishing 

Summary

A new world. A new hope. An unexpected love.
What life awaits these brides?


With the cotton mills closed and hunger rampant in Manchester, England, Willow Rhodes’s family encourages her to join the bride ship bound for the Pacific Northwest, where she is assured of employment. Willow agrees to go with the hope that eventually she can save enough money for her family to join her.

Rebellious knuckle-boxing champion Caleb Edwards loves Willow more than life itself. But Willow has been adamant that she sees him as a friend and nothing more. Unable to watch her sail away, Caleb uses his prize money to pay for passage to Vancouver Island to be with Willow.

After arriving, Willow finds work as a maid and Caleb is a farmhand on the same property. As Caleb struggles to keep his feelings for Willow from growing, he’ll do anything for her, even take the blame for a theft to keep her safe. As the crime catches up to them, they’re forced to make choices that could finally rip them apart forever.

(Affiliate links included.)

My Review

FINALLY HIS BRIDE is about a man who has been pining for his best friend for years unbeknownst to her, and a woman who is trying to save her family by travelling across the ocean to a new life. Together they face the challenges of being immigrants, finding work and holding true to themselves. Fans of historical romance and this author will find some enjoyment in this story.

I liked the opening of this story where the heroine and hero were introduced as well as the heroine's family and what transpires to get them both on a ship to immigrate. I also liked how Willow finds two close friends in other women travelling with her. Caleb was a constant in this story. He was determined to watch over Willow and also earn his own keep. I really liked his character with the mix of brawn and grit along with the softness he has for Willow and her family. Willow is a sweet young woman who is doing her best to provide for herself and earn enough to bring her family over from England. She was full of integrity and kindness, and also a hard worker. It was rough for both of them to work all day, every day, doing back-breaking work as servants. I liked how close they were and that was a strong friendship between them before any romance blossomed. I also really liked the conclusion of the story that had a bit of a climax, but ended sweetly.

My only complaints about this story was the naivety of the heroine and some drama that rubbed me wrong. Willow felt really young and naive for having grown up in the slums of England and working in the mills. She would have been privy to a lot of different people, situations and relationships. I could understand her being in denial about some things but it felt like she was completely oblivious a lot more than she should have been, including to marital relations even though she was the oldest in a large family and with her background. She also seemed very trusting, which also didn't ring true to her background. She could have been innocent and street smart, but she wasn't at all. It also seemed that she and Caleb were also oblivious to their reputations. There was some drama between the two of them that was unnecessary and that part mixed with the rest rubbed me wrong in this story. I think Willow needed to have more depth and be consistent to her background. I think too, I just have fairly high expectations for this author so I was expecting more.

In the end, was it what I wished for? This was a sweet story of hardship, friendship and unexpected dreams. There are threads of faith, perseverance and romance. An overall heartfelt read.

Content: Some non-descriptive violence, innuendo and references to marital relations off page.
Source: I received a complimentary copy through JustRead Publicity Tours, which did not require a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Have you read this story or the Bride Ships series that preceded it? Have you read any other books where characters immigrate or come across on a bride ship?

An intriguing new Christian historical romance... While the City Sleeps by Elizabeth Camden #whilethecitysleeps #newbooks #booktwitter #christfic #christianromance #romancebooks #histfic #suspense #ElizabethCamden @Bethany_House @austenprose


Welcome to my tour stop! Check out this new release below...

While the City Sleeps
(Women of Midtown #1)
By Elizabeth Camden
Christian Historical Romance, Suspense, Gilded Age Fiction
Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook & eBook, 352 Pages
February 13, 2024 by Bethany House Publishers 

Summary

Amid the hushed city, two hearts must navigate danger and deception, bound by a love that outshines the stars.

Katherine Schneider's life as a dentist in 1913 New York is upended when a patient reveals details of a deadly plot while under the influence of laughing gas. As she is plunged into danger, she seeks help from the dashing Lieutenant Jonathan Birch, a police officer she has long admired from afar.

Jonathan has harbored powerful feelings toward Katherine for years but never acted on them, knowing his dark history is something she could never abide. Now, with her safety on the line, he works alongside her through the nights as they unravel the criminal conspiracy that threatens her . . . even as he keeps his deepest secrets hidden at all costs.

Join award-winning author Elizabeth Camden for a sweeping and romantic adventure of dangerous secrets and wounded hearts, fighting to overcome the darkness while the rest of the city sleeps.

Praise for the Book

"History, mystery, and romance set against the backdrop of New York City at night--a must-read!"— Gabrielle Meyer, bestselling author of When the Day Comes, and In This Moment

"Elizabeth Camden brings the bustling metropolis to living color like no one else. . . A novel that will keep readers up late into the night."— Jocelyn Green, Christy Award-winning author of The Metropolitan Affair

“I loved the historical details that make the story feel authentic.”— Kim Prudhoe, All the Lovely Pages

(Affiliate links included.)

About the Author


Elizabeth Camden is best known for her historical novels set in gilded age America featuring clever heroines and richly layered storylines. Before she was a writer, she was an academic librarian at some of the largest and smallest libraries in America, but her favorite is the continually growing library in her own home. Her novels have won the RITA and Christy Award, and she lives in Florida with her husband who graciously tolerates her intimidating stockpile of books.



Are you a fan of the author or Christian historical fiction? What are your thoughts on this book?

I Can't Wait for... Fatal Domain by Steven James (Can't-Wait Wednesday) #CWW #WOW #booktwitter #newbooks #suspense #thriller @TyndaleHouse @Crazy4Fiction


Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted here to spotlight and discuss the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released. Find out more here.

I still need to read the first book in this series, but I know it and this second installment will be sure to keep me on the edge of my seat. The books from this author I've read have been some of the best thrillers I've ever read, so if this is one of the genres you enjoy, I highly recommend his books! This newest is my pick this week...

Fatal Domain
(A Travis Brock Thriller #2)
By Steven James
Contemporary Thriller, Suspense, Christian
Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook & eBook, 400 Pages
April 9, 2024 by Tyndale House Publishers

Summary

When the past scratches its way into the present, it can leave deep scars.

A series of cryptic clues leads Department of Defense redactor Travis Brock to suspect that a grim chapter from his past is not yet over. With the help of his eidetic memory and his newly formed team, he must unearth the truth and stop a terrorist group from stealing one of the military’s most highly guarded technological breakthroughs. With it, the group plans to commit a daring act of espionage that could upend the work of one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms and impact millions of people worldwide.

In a high-stakes story of action and intrigue that reaches from a refugee settlement in Uganda to the shores of the Potomac in Washington, DC, shattering secrets from the past will be revealed, loyalties tested, and intimate betrayals brought to light as Brock is forced to decide how to forgive what he cannot forget.

From a novelist that Publishers Weekly has called a “master storyteller” comes an intricate and taut thriller that will have you guessing until the final page.

- Relevant, contemporary spy thriller
- Fast-paced suspense
- Issues of terrorism and espionage
- The central theme is the power of forgiveness

(Affiliate links included.)


Will you be reading this one?

For fans of Stranger Things... Dead Things Are Closer Than They Appear by Robin Wasley (Review & Mood Board) #newbooks #booktwitter #yalit #yabooks #fantasy @tbrbeyondtours @robinwasley


Welcome to my tour stop! I'll be adding a review, but in the
meantime, check out the book and the mood board below...

Dead Things Are Closer Than They Appear
By Robin Wasley
YA Fantasy, Magical Realism
Hardcover, Audiobook & eBook, 416 Pages
February 13, 2024 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers


Summary

A painfully average teen’s life is upended by a magical apocalypse in this darkly atmospheric and sweepingly romantic novel perfect for fans of The Raven Boys, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Rest of Us Just Live Here.

High school is hard enough to survive without an apocalypse to navigate.

Sid Spencer has always been the most normal girl in her abnormal hometown, a tourist trap built over one of the fault lines that seal magic away from the world. Meanwhile, all Sid has to deal with is hair-ruining humidity, painful awkwardness, being one of four Asians in town, and her friends dumping her when they start dating each other—just days after one of the most humiliating romantic rejections faced by anyone, ever, in all of history.

Then someone kills one of the Guardians who protect the seal. The earth rips open and unleashes the magic trapped inside. Monsters crawl from the ground, no one can enter or leave, and the man behind it all is roaming the streets with a gang of violent vigilantes. Suddenly, Sid’s life becomes a lot less ordinary. When she finds out her missing brother is involved, she joins the remaining Guardians, desperate to find him and close the fault line for good.

Fighting through hordes of living corpses and uncontrollable growths of forest, Sid and a ragtag crew of would-be heroes are the only thing standing between their town and the end of the world as they know it. Between magic, murderers, and burgeoning crushes, Sid must survive being a perfectly normal girl caught in a perfectly abnormal apocalypse.

Only—how can someone so ordinary make it in such an extraordinary world?

(Affiliate links included.)

My Review

DEAD THINGS ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR is one of those stories where you don't know what to expect and what you find is much more than you were hoping for. It's full of family relationships, by blood but mostly found with an emphasis on adopted, as well as friendships and then more of working relationships (like I have to fight with you but I don't know that I would chose to know you). It's set in a small town with a larger-than-life traumatizing event where basically all hell breaks loose. If you enjoy shows like Stranger Things or with apocalyptic monsters and humans who are equally evil, then this is definitely one to pick up! Plus, there are also some very sweet moments of wisdom, romance, and heart.

I really, really loved these characters! Not to say that I didn't have some frustrations and reservations, because I did, but I felt they were relatable and real. Take Sid for instance. She is not the leading will-cut-down-zombies-without-blinking-an-eye leading lady. She is scared and weak and freaks out. I think most of us when faced with something so unreal would take some time adjusting. I appreciated that she had weaknesses and strengths, which allowed her character to also develop and grow as the story goes. And develop it does. This was the same for almost all of the characters, even fierce and removed Eleni. There's also Brian who holds so much grief inside that it hurts while also building like a bomb, and also carries a fierce protection for his sisters that extends to others. He comes off a bit like the usual bad boy, but as well all the characters in this motley crew, none of them quite fit the usual stereotypes because they're a lot more complex and they change over the course of this story. There is also Angel and Shandy with their relationship that is lightly woven in this story. Sometimes gay relationships are pushed in books with a message that feels forced (as can be with religious or inspirational messages, romance or with anything), but in this story, it felt like a natural part and I appreciated that. 

I also want to talk just a bit about the plot itself. It moved at a really good pace. There were several climatic moments that built to the final and most intense one, but there were also some moments of downtime and reconvening. The romantic aspects of this story I also really liked. They didn't feel construed, fell naturally into this story and were sweet. I liked that there was so much creativity and how the author allowed it to unfold with all these different characters. Everything didn't go perfectly and didn't tie up in a perfect bow at the end, which I also appreciated. There was danger, people got hurt and killed, there was heartbreak and evil, but there was also perseverance, sacrifice, friendship, love and joy. All the feels, guys. All the feels.

I also noted a few nuggets of wisdom I highlighted. These aren't all of them in this story, but these are the ones I wanted to share that connected with me right now in my life:

   "Sometimes I wonder about empathy," I say then. "Do we always have to feel something ourselves in order to understand someone else?"
   She contemplates that. "I think it depends on the person. There's no right way or wrong way. If one assumes all empathy to look the same way, they are therefore expecting everyone to behave the way they do . . . which is not empathetic, is it?: She leans forward, elbows on her knees. "[There are] always going to be people we can't relate to, people we'll never love, people we'll never meet. In those situations, you have the opportunity to see how far your empathy can be stretched."
   "Some people suck, though," I mutter.
   "Whether someone is worthy of empathy isn't something you need to decide. You do get to decide if it's something you wish to extend to someone. It it'll harm you or not. Caring for yourself and caring for others is a balance."


"People make mistakes, but you know now that you get to choose the person you want to be. It's not a straight path, there are obstacles, and the journey never ends. But you're not alone on the road."


"Every person makes an impact in some way, average or not," I say. "We change one another."


In the end, was it what I wished for? This book surprised me, in a very good way. I loved the motley crew that forms, the lovable characters, all the relationship dynamics as well as the creative, page-turning plot. I'll definitely be looking forward to this author's next release!

Content: Swearing (including s and f-words), crude comments/descriptions, some detailed violence (including people dying by zombies and other humans, as well as some torture), a gay relationship.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through TBR and Beyond Tours, which did not require a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Mood Board


About the Author


Robin Wasley is a YA fantasy writer with a soft spot for orphans, found families, and funny girls with no special skills who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. She grew up in a family of adoptees, never truly seeing herself reflected in the books she devoured. As an adult, when she saw an Asian American girl on the cover of a YA book for the first time, she cried.


Tour Schedule

Follow the tour HERE.


Does this sound like a book you'd enjoy?

A fantasy world of water dwellers and alien invaders... Water's Break by Sophia Hansen (Review & #Giveaway) #newbooks #booktwitter #yalit #yabooks #fantasy #scifi #christfic @enclavebooks @celebrate_lit


Welcome to my tour stop! Read my review and enter the giveaway below...

Water's Break
By Sophia Hansen
YA Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Christian
Hardcover, Audiobook & eBook, 320 Pages
January 9, 2024 by Enclave Escape

Summary

What if fear itself is the deadliest undercurrent of all?

Nica would do anything to avoid the hassles of her sister’s bonding ceremony—the wrap fittings, hairstyles, and braided fire coral—but she never imagined that the waters covering her planet would be broken. As the heavens rained fire and stone, mountains erupted from the sea and dry ground was birthed on the Deep, dividing the water—and the Olomi people—for the first time in their history.

In the wake of her world’s violent re-formation, Nica’s family is shattered. When the rookie Guardian leaves the safety of the Deep to find her sister, she is abducted by strange landwalkers who possess strength and technology beyond her imagination. Nica realizes that the disaster from above was by their design—a calculated plan to terraform the water planet and conquer her people. All Nica wants to do is find her sister and swim home to safety, but with the landwalkers closing in, escape may not be possible. And if Nica can’t save herself, how can she hope to save her sister—or her people?

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My Review

WATER'S BREAK is one of those stories that is intriguing enough to keep readers turning the pages. The world is so unique and lush, the characters complex and distinct, with a compelling story. Recommended to sci-fi fans who like a touch of romance and good characters, but a plot-driven story.

What to express about this book? I went back and forth on what to rate it. Usually I go by a mix of how much I loved a book, including its characters, and how well it was written. On the love-it scale, there were a few things I didn't like or weren't my thing. However, I found the story fascinating and am still curious about several things after finishing it. The world is honestly intriguing and I liked how the plot is set up and worked through. So even when I didn't like some things, the fascination with the world, its people, the goal of the invaders and the way they made the indigenous people be subservient (which was terrible) drew me in from the first to the last page. The writing style worked for me as well and I overall liked the main character. This is categorized as Christian or at least is published by a Christian publisher, but I didn't feel there were strong religious overtones or anything that felt forced. It read to me more like mainstream sci-fi/fantasy which I appreciated.

I also had a few issues with the story. There was a theme of self-martyrdom. The heroine would break down and blame herself for others' death and pain and become this weeping mess and that happened multiple times. This whole idea of someone dying by someone else's hand being your fault never works for me in stories, or at least not when it's repeated and the character doesn't move on. I got it, but it also didn't feel consistent to someone who would need to be strong enough to do what she needed to. There were also a few places where the story dragged a bit because nothing much was happening. I also wasn't a huge fan of the romance that felt too instantaneous to me.

In the end, was it what I wished for? This was a unique read with a lush fantasy world and two very different races vying for the same planet. The creativity of the author as well as the distinct voices of the characters brought to life a story that was well fleshed out. I'm definitely curious to see what comes next.

Content: Medically impregnating young women against their wishes, separating babies and children from mothers, forced servitude, a teenager giving birth, and descriptive violence.
Source: I received a complimentary copy through Celebrate Lit, which did not require a positive review. All opinions are my own.

About the Author


Sophia L. Hansen, raised in the melded cultures of Korea and America, understands not fitting into society’s boxes. Born on a tiny island in Alaska, then growing up in New York City and Boston, she now resides in the Southeast, writing and editing between fresh(ish) cups of coffee and slices of crisp bacon. She embraces life with her husband, their adulting children, and her new grandson, but her favorites are Jesus, family, coffee, and dark chocolate, mostly in that order.


Tour Schedule

Texas Book-aholic, January 30



Artistic Nobody, February 2 (Author Interview)



Guild Master, February 5 (Author Interview)



Beauty in the Binding, February 7 (Author Interview)


Wishful Endings, February 9


A Modern Day Fairy Tale, February 11 (Author Interview)

The Lofty Pages, February 11

Simple Harvest Reads, February 12 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Tour-Wide Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Sophia is giving away the grand prize package of a signed hardcover with swag (bookmark, stickers, character cards)!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


Does this sound like a book you'd enjoy? What do you think of the synopsis or cover?

The final installment in this YA fantasy series... A Vicious Game by Melissa Blair (Mood Board & #Giveaway) #newbooks #booktwitter #fantasy #yalit #yabooks #aviciousgame @themelissablair @tbrbeyondtours


Welcome to my tour stop!  Check out my mood board and enter the giveaway below...

A Vicious Game
(The Halfling Saga #3)
By Melissa Blair
Young Adult Fantasy
Paperback, Audiobook & eBook, 448 Pages
February 6, 2024 by Union Square & Co.

Summary

“It seems fate has dealt me the same hand again. I know how to play it.”

A new king is on the throne and the rebellion lies in ruins. Keera spends her days drinking and her nights avoiding the strange dreams that have haunted her since she returned from the capital.

Keera’s family in Myrelinth won’t let her go without a fight. With new intelligence about the magical seals left behind by Keera’s ancient kin, the Light Fae, she rallies to face her demons and unleash the formidable powers she inherited from her people. But a shocking truth is hiding in plain sight, one with the power to unravel the entire rebellion…

The pivotal third installment in the Halfling Saga will upend everything Keera thought she knew about her enemies…and her allies.

(Affiliate links included.)

Mood Board


Other Books in the Series

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About the Author


Melissa (she/her/kwe) is an Anishinaabekwe of mixed ancestry living in Turtle Island. She splits her time between Treaty 9 in Northern Ontario and the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabeg in Ottawa, Canada. She has a graduate degree in Applied Linguistics and Discourse Studies, loves movies, and hates spoons. Melissa has a BookTok account where she discusses her favorite kinds of books including Indigenous and queer fiction, feminist literature, and non-fiction. A Broken Blade is her first novel.


Tour Schedule

Follow the tour HERE.

Tour-Wide Giveaway

1 person will win a copy of The Halfling Saga (A Broken Blade, A Shadow Crown, & A Vicious Game). 
US Only!
This giveaway will run from January 29th until February 9th.

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Have you read the books before this one. Will you be reading this book?