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Blog Tour (Review), Teasers and Giveaway: The Duchess Quest

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Dainy doesn’t know that she is the lost Duchess of Jordinia, believed to have been assassinated fifteen years ago. Nor does she know that her uncle has implemented an illegal contest to seek her, offering her marriage hand as the reward! Though at odds, three clashing rivals – including a noble giant, a forest dweller and a thieving rake – voyage together by woodland, prairie and sea to recover the lost royal, notwithstanding the assassins and spies at their tail. Soon, young Dainy is swept into a comically complex romantic quadrangle as each suitor competes to capture her heart. Charmingly romantic and bursting with political intrigue, startling twists and vivid characters, readers of romance and fantasy alike will adore this original yet timeless tale of swashbuckling adventure and unlikely love.

About the Book:

Jordinia #1
412 Pages
Published October 3rd, 2014
48fourteen Publishing

Purchase Links:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BooksAMillion | 48fourteen | CKBrooke

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About the Author

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C.K. Brooke is a 2015 Shelf Unbound Notable Indie author with a five-star rating by Readers’ Favorite. She holds numerous fantasy and romance publications with 48fourteen, Limitless Publishing, and Elphame Press. Her lifelong passion is books – reading, writing, editing, publishing and blogging about them. When not blissing out in literary land, she enjoys info-tainment podcasts, singing, songwriting and playing the piano. She lives in Washington, Michigan with her husband and young son. There’s tons to check out at the new CKBrooke.com, so come and see what she’s up to!

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Click the picture above for the GIVEAWAY!


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4.25Penguins
Quick Reasons: awesome start to what is bound to be an AWESOME series!; love triangle? booooo…messy romance/lots of drama? YUM; LOVE the character growth, especially that seen in Cosmith; believable, realistic characters and relationships; some easy-to-spot plot twists, paired with some not-so-easy ones; this world sucked me in and held me captive, though there are some world-building issues

HUGE thanks to C.K. Brooke, 48fourteen Publishing, and YA Bound Book Tours for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this title.

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Now, if you’ve been following my reviews for a while, you’ll know I don’t read much in the way of pure fantasy. Usually, I go more for the paranormal, or the magical, or the steampunk. I have nothing against fantasy–but as a genre, it ALONE doesn’t generally appeal to me. I usually need something on top of it. So why THIS book?! Why NOW?! I decided…I needed to branch out again, I suppose. And this cover? THIS COVER CALLED TO ME, penguins! This cover was like a beacon lighting my way, begging me for attention. I was also drawn in by the promise of a “love quadrangle,” though honestly I found this bit of the summary to be a lie–it’s more of a love triangle, in the end. Still, it was entertaining!

These characters are all so unique and complex. I particularly enjoyed Dainy’s feisty, stubborn, snarky nature–I mean, those are the traits I always look for in my favorite characters, so I’m glad she exhibited them. Cosmith, however… Cosmith took me completely by surprise. At the start of this journey, I was bound and determined to loathe him…….only for that to change as the story progressed and as he grew. There was so much character growth in him, guys, I couldn’t help but be swayed to his side. I don’t even know when, specifically, I began to see him not as a manipulative jerk, but as someone worthy of my reading time. Regardless, it happened. And the character I hoped to LOVE by the end of this… actually sort of made me loathe him somewhere in the middle! I was a mess of confused emotions, basically–but am so so pleased by this book as a whole.

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The plot is entertaining, filled with action and adventure. There were several deceptive red herrings and delicious plot twists…and some twists I saw coming a mile away. I laughed, I exclaimed–very loudly and in much surprise! I was enthralled, beginning to end. The prose is a bit awkward and heavy-handed at parts, written to emulate the way these characters speak. It’s more formal than I’m used to from books, but was also gorgeous and well-managed. It wasn’t ever TOO much, though sometimes walked a thin line there.

The world building was decent, though I have to admit to being a bit confused about the time period. This has been shelved as “historical” fiction a few times on goodreads, but….some of the technology (the blood lock, for instance) seems a bit advanced for historical fiction. I am also confused by the world as a whole–technology is all but unmentioned, which made it difficult to gauge exactly the time period. I wish there had been a few more hints along the way, to help better root me in the world itself–while I don’t feel I missed out on the world much, I feel as if there was a slight disconnect between my head and the book’s reality.

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Overall, this was an entertaining, snark-filled read–and I can’t wait to see what the next book brings our merry trio of characters! C.K. Brooke caught me by surprise with this one, enthralling and ensnaring me with poetic prose and creatively-captured characters. If you enjoy fantasy, “self-discovery” stories, and characters with their snark torches burning at both ends, this book should be right up your alley! I definitely recommend it!

YA Bound Book Tours

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A Review of The Forbidden Wish, by Jessica Khoury

The Forbidden Wish

The Forbidden Wish

Goodreads Rating: 4.07 Stars
352 Pages
Razorbill Publishing
Get a copy here!

She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world…

When Aladdin discovers Zahra’s jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn’t seen in hundreds of years—a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra’s very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.

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5Penguins
Quick Reasons: an inventive retelling…with a slight character twist; THIS is the story of Aladdin I’ve been dying to read for years (without knowing it, of course); awesome, emotionally-charged action and a heady, over-the-moon sort of love; poetic, beautiful prose; so many twists and creative additions to genie/jinn lore; I LOVED this book!

And mahGOSH, is the cover absolutely stunning. Go ahead—go stare at it for five minutes. I totally give you permission. Heck, you can drool a little if you want; I won’t tell anyone.

“I know that look.”

“What look?”

“Don’t sweat it, sister. We’ve all had it.” She sighs. “The girls he loved and left.”

Irritably, I look away. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Sure you don’t.” Dal smiles sadly. “You can either hate him or accept that that’s just who he is. When Aladdin sets his heart on something— or someone— nothing can stop him from getting it. And when he does have it, he realizes it’s not what he wanted after all, and then something else will catch his eye, and off he goes again. Over and over. And here we are, the casualties.”

“I’m nobody’s casualty.”

The prose is poetic—soft and smoky, a hint of roses and something ancient, a forgotten magic, blending with the words. Jessica Khoury knows how to weave her words with the fairy tales of old…and yet, somehow, make the story entirely her own. I will admit: I was hesitant going in to this read. I’ve been a bit disappointed with recent “hyped” books…and I was worried this would become the next one to let me down. Thankfully, I was much mistaken—this book is gorgeous, inside and out.

The action scenes are well-written, filled with dramatics and flair…and enough to make a reader long to pull their hair out in anxiety or frustration. I was surprised how quickly I formed attachments to these characters; despite having grown up adoring Aladdin (the Disney version, of course), I wasn’t sure that partiality would journey to book-form. There are also some steamy, heart-melting love scenes; some gorgeously-done girl-power scenes; some fight-to-the-death scenes. In all honesty, there’s a little bit of something for every type of reader.

“Love is a path lined with roses,” I say bitterly. “But it leads to a cliff’s edge, and all who follow it tumble to their doom. You will not find your happiness there.”

The characters are just the perfect blend of realistic, fantastical, and snarky-daggers. I particularly enjoyed Zahra and Aladdin’s back-and-forth relationship. However—while a large portion of this read does revolve around love—it’s not romantic love that gets the main focus. Instead, girl-power and the love of best friends takes main stage—which I absolutely ADORED. Yes, there is romantic love…but it sort of falls by the wayside and lets the rest of this book shine on its own. It was a great breath of fresh air for me, given how often YA harps on about romance.

The chapters are also broken up, now and then, with “fairy tale” snippets. This helped not only to shape and mold Zahra as we grew to know her throughout the read…but also the world surrounding her, and Aladdin. Without these morsels, the story might have come off a bit confusing, the transitions awkward. Instead, Jessica Khoury found a way to work in the backstory without making it obvious that’s what she was doing. And everything—and I mean EVERYTHING—comes full circle at the end, even the smallest things, the things we never thought to think twice about.

I lift my eyes, above it all, and see the one weaving the stars. Imohel, the God of Gods. He smiles and pauses briefly to touch a finger to the center of my forehead, and at his touch, I fall.

Fall through the stars.

Through time.

Through light and wind and fire.

Through smoke and a sky gray like ashes.

I just… I absolutely adored this read. The prose is breath-taking, the cover is stunning, the characters and the focus on best friends over romance is so well-done… I can’t find enough words to tell you how much I love this book. I highly recommend this to lovers of Aladdin, fairy tale retellings, and girl-power. I feel everyone can find something to love in this read, so if you’ve been thinking about picking it up, you totally should! Instant favorite.

7

A Review of Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), by Sarah J. Maas

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“A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.

It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend.”

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

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Rating: 4/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: yet more twists to this rollercoaster plot; characters that mend your heart and tear it out again in the same breath; awesome world-building; unique twists and unforseeable surprises; realistic, complicated web of relationships

I started reading this at least a week ago. One. Week. I don’t know, thinking about it now, why it took me so long to get through it—once I actually sat down and made myself read, it was a quick, heart-wrenching, and emotionally overwhelming book. Exactly my type, if I’m being honest.

“What does that mean?” he demanded.

She smiled sadly. “You’ll figure it out. And when you do…” She shook her head, knowing she shouldn’t say it, but doing it anyway. “When you do, I want you to remember that it wouldn’t have made any difference to me. It’s never made any difference to me when it came to you. I’d still pick you. I’ll always pick you.”

So I guess I need to start with the obvious, huh? Sarah J. Maas…you. terrible. woman! You slipped that small sliver of hope into my reading world and then ripped it all away not even fifty pages later. How dare you break me like that?! I don’t think I can forgive you. You have a lot of sucking up to do in the future books. A LOT.

Seriously though, heartaches aside, this was a wild and entertaining read from the get go. I fell in love with Celaena in Throne of Glass—and while THIS version of Celaena is darker, more weighted down by her responsibilities and the realities of the world she’s facing, she’s still snarky (mostly) and kickass (always). Once again, she forced her way into my heart. When she was happy, I was happy. When she broke, I broke too. There aren’t many characters I can say that about so honestly.

But death was her curse and her gift, and death had been her good friend these long, long years.

This story literally seeps around you as you read. Once you dive into these books, prepare to finish them off in as few sittings as possible—they just won’t let you go. The scenes are action-packed, the foreshadows never quite match up (until they’re meant to), and the characters are so realistic and believable you’ll feel as if you’re sitting on the sidelines of some huge, dramatic production.

The plot is well-constructed and paced perfectly, as well, each “reveal” coming at just the right time, dragging readers deeper in to the mystery. If you go into these books with an open mind, you’re bound to be taken on an unexpected rollercoaster journey—and hopefully, love every moment of it. Because while the characters are realistic, they also break the mold. Celaena especially never quite does what you expect, always keeping you on your toes: much like the plot itself. From one moment to the next, you’ll never be sure exactly what’s going on, because you aren’t given all the puzzle pieces. Sarah J. Maas is an expert at crafting and lining up her puzzles in just the right ways to always leave you guessing and keep you wanting more.

Roland gave her a courtier’s smile. “And what sort of work do you do for my uncle?”
Dorian shifted on his feet and Chaol went very still, but Celaena returned Roland’s smile and said, “I bury the king’s opponents where nobody will ever find them.”

I really enjoyed this read, and can’t wait to lay my hands on the third book in the series! I’d definitely recommend these books to lovers of assassins, magical realism, and beautiful world-building. If that’s what you’re drawn to, you should give this series a shot for sure!

4

A Review of Death Sworn, by Leah Cypress

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When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.

But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world.

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Rating: 5/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: awesome, cohesive world-building; plot driven by action, suspense, and intrigue; kick-ass main characters with growths, distinct backstories, and personalities befitting their lots in life; engaging, gorgeous prose

Oh. Oh, my. I LOVED this read, and I’m so happy I decided to finally pick it up. Huge thanks go out to Sarah and Abby from YA Buddy Readers’ Corner for sending a copy of this my way—you girls rock!

So, first and foremost (and probably not surprising, if you’ve been paying any attention at all to my reviews): the cover. It is absolutely GORGEOUS, and manages to portray in at least a small way what this book is about. Whoever designed the covers for this series did a beautiful job—the colors, the perspective choices, everything about it helps set the tone SO well. To be honest, I was initially drawn to these books because of the covers alone. Now that I’ve read it, I’m going to need to own physical copies—these would look beautiful on my shelves.

It’s not hard to kill,” Ileni said softly, as if discovering it all over again. “Not if you hate someone. It’s so very easy.”

But it shouldn’t be.

But enough about the outside—we don’t read books JUST for that, right? I know I don’t. The writing here is just as gorgeous as the cover art. Leah Cypress knows how to paint pictures with her words. She’s woven a tapestry of magic, secrets, and politically charged intrigue. Her voice and the story are so strong, you won’t believe this is only the first book in the series!

The characters are stubborn, snarky, and refreshing—they might be a little naive about SOME things, but they all know they’re not invincible. They all know they’re not irreplaceable. Our main protagonist’s voice shines clear and strong in the writing; despite being 3rd person POV, the narrator’s focus remains almost completely on Ilena and her journey to rock-bottom (figuratively and literally here). Her unique outsider perspective and reckless care lend her a degree of sass I fell in love with almost immediately. Honestly, the girl could cut you with her words, and I LOVED that about her.

How to throw assassins off balance: cry in front of them.

Despite realizing she was sent to the caves to die, she doesn’t let the struggles she faces bog her down or keep her from seeking answers. She spits daggers at danger and laughs; she plays with fire almost heedlessly at times. I just adored her completely—watching her grow and shape right alongside Sorin, the unexpected and surprising (in a pleasant way!) love interest, only helped my love for her leech to my heart like a fungus.

His dark eyes searched her face. “But you love me,” he said finally.

She had no reason to deny it. Ileni lifted her shoulders. “I’ll recover.”

Theirs is NOT the love conquers all, give up the fight, lay down my weapons and surrender type of love. They come from different worlds, different religions, different upbringings…and instead of fighting this, or trying to change who they are, or wishing for a miracle, they accept, they move on, and they help each other grow. They don’t feel the need to hide or change who they are—they love each other regardless, and that makes this sort of unique as far as YA goes. Their personal growths, brought on largely by each other, are endearing and heart-wrenching; you’ll fall in love with them as individuals and as a couple MANY times before the last page.

His eyes met hers, cold and deadly, and the dagger’s edge pressed against her skin. Then his expression shifted into horror. He lowered the dagger and stepped back. “Ileni. That was not smart.”

I know. I’m sorry…” And this time, she didn’t even try to stop the tears.

I just adored this read so much, I wish I could put it into more cohesive words here. I loved all the characters (even the “bad” ones, because I mean really, they’re all just so human and relatable and well-written!) The prose is gorgeous, the plot is intelligent and well-constructed, the scenery Leah Cypress chose to work with is unigue and so fitting the tone. This whole thing is a masterpiece—readers are bound to be enthralled from page one. The exploration of the ridge between magic and murder is just the cherry on top of a beautiful and dangerous mound of wonderful.

I highly enjoyed this read, and recommend it to lovers of Maggie Stiefvater, Sarah J. Maas, and Renee Ahdieh. I will definitely be picking up the sequels as soon as I can; I can’t wait to see what happens next!