Apr 7, 2020

Review--Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou's, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou's most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

I finally found the time to read Shelby Mahurin’s debut Serpent & Dove and I have to say it was one of the best reads I’ve read so far this year! The characters were just amazing and I loved them so entirely. The story is a fast paced one and even with its 500+ page length, it’s still not long enough!
What we know of Lou when we meet her is that she’s a witch in hiding. Not just from the Chasseurs who basically hunt witches and burn them at the stake all to protect the people, but from a mysterious “she” that we only catch whispers of in conversation. When she learns about a magical ring that could help shield her from her enemies, Lou is all for stealing it and does, but she happens to make herself a bit more known during the robbery.
Reid is our golden boy. He’s the perfect Chasseur and is even the Captain in charge of the squad. He follows the Archbishop’s orders without thought, for he’s also a father figure to him as Reid was left abandoned as a baby and was raised by the Archbishop with other potentials in training for the title of Chasseur. Then he stumbles upon Lou one day and their paths were locked together for the foreseeable future as after a few chance encounters, one led to them being caught in a pickle of sorts that sprang into their getting married to help save face.
Yup, Lou, the witch, marries Reid, the witch hunter. Except, he doesn’t know she’s a witch. He just thinks she’s a thief who knows of other witches, hence why he has to interrogate her as their “honeymoon” you could say. Lou only reluctantly agreed to the farce marriage for the protection that it could provide her from her dangerous enemies…for there are few other people she’s made mad too, so a little Chasseur help couldn’t hurt.
Lou is a riot! I love how feisty and snarky she is! She doesn’t take crap from anyone and has the best snarky comebacks. She pretty much makes married life hell for Reid. The Archbishop has very old school views on marriage. Though Reid doesn’t agree with everything he teaches, he doesn’t expect Lou to be romantic with him, but he does want the obedience part, which, as I said, is laughable once you get to know Lou.
The story moves along at a slower pace at that turning point, but it’s not a bad slow pace. We see how each of the other half lives at this point. We get both Lou and Reid’s points of view in this one, which is an added bonus because wow! Then we reach that part where the disdain Lou feels towards Reid changes into something else, and he sees her as something more than a heathen (his words). And seriously, this is why slow-burn romances are the best!!
As others have probably mentioned before me, there is a bit of a graphic scene in this one that puts it on par with A Court of Mist and Fury. It’s definitely more of a mature YA for that and there is a bit of language too, but nothing too terrible really when you look at other "older YA" books. But I just wanted to put that advisement in there as well!
The ending was so good! So unbelievably good! Things get intense and the pace dramatically increases as events begin to unfold along with a few other jaw-droppers. I began making guesses as to how things would eventually unravel and I'm quite pleased that one thought didn't appear to be an issue...this time! I had the greatest fear that this one would end with a terrible cliffhanger—you know the ones that leave you dying, positively dying for the next installment. While things were intense, I felt like Shelby left things at a nice breaking point where the characters are at a nice pause in the action. Yes, you’re still craving more from the story, but the wait isn’t so torturous…any more than usual that is, as we continue to wait for the next book and the next book.
Serpent & Dove was a stunning debut from an author that has immediately made it to my favorites list! It’s the right blend of paranormal with witchy involvement and fantasy. I adored this book pretty much from the start and the love only grew as the pages turned! I cannot wait to see what else Shelby will have in store for us in the books to come!
Overall Rating 5/5 stars


Teaser & Top Ten Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Purple Princess of The Purple Booker

Here are the rules:

1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a page
3. Pick out 2 lines that are SPOILER FREE
4. Name the title, author, etc.

I couldn't decide between these two teasers! Both that had me chuckling! The first is Reid's point of view, the second is from Lou's--which had me LOLing!!

"Clamping my lips together to keep from laughing. 'Lou--lie down. Go to sleep. Nothing has changed. Unless you want to ask me something?'

"Don't hold your breath.' She yanked the pillow from me. 'Actually--do.'" p 307

"If he wanted to play one more game, I would oblige--and I would win. 'Would you, oh brave and virtuous Chasseur, stick your tongue down my throat and your hands up my skirt? My a$$ needs grabbing.'" p 340

TITLE: Serpent & Dove
AUTHOR: Shelby Mahurin
GENRE: YA Fantasy

RELEASE DATE: September 3, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week's topic is: Top Ten Books I Bought Because of Cover Love!

*in no particular order

10. BLACK CITY by Elizabeth Richards--I mean, there's an exploding rose on the cover! Kind of hard not to pick that one up! After reading its description I immediately bought it!
9. IN THE FORESTS OF THE NIGHT by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes--BOOK FAIR BUY!! I saw this at a book fair as a teen and I remembered reading about the author in a teen magazine previously, so I scooped that puppy up! Thank goodness for allowance back then! Lol!
8. OLD MAGIC by Marianne Curley--the cover totally drew me at my local Waldenbooks--yes, I can remember where I bought this one! Lol. After reading what it was about I was soooo hooked! This was my first Aussie author book! :)

7. REIGN OF SHADOWS by Sophie Jordan--a great color combo and aesthetic! Then learning it was a Rapunzel retelling of sorts had me all sorts of excited!
6. THE IMMORTAL RULES by Julie Kagawa--a girl with a bloody tear...if that doesn't scream vampire I don't know what else would! Lol! Funny enough, Julie said she'd never write about vampires...until Allie kept bugging her I guess! 
5. HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE by Jeaniene Frost--one of my magical finds on one of the numerous Borders walkabouts I did...you know when you walk up and down the shelves pulling out book after book until one calls to you! When I saw this cover I knew I was in for a good vampire read!

4. ALL THE STARS AND TEETH by Adalyn Grace--I mean this cover is just amazing! I love all the designs on it! It gave you all sorts of hints as to what you're getting into! And I positively ADORE Owl Crate's version!
3. DOOMED by Tracy Deebs--this would be the ARC cover, not the final cover which I was not a fan of! This cover here really gave you a better idea of what you were getting into! It was a sort of pre-apocalyptic story that all started with a click in an email--hence the green tech-looking graphics! It was A-MAZING!
2. CRAVE by Tracy Wolff--obviously! Lol! When I saw this cover, I didn't think "Twilight" like so many other readers thought. I thought VAMPIRES! I mean that V is very telling! I was like a puppy who heard the word WALK! Lol!

Bet my longtime followers know which one I saved for #1...


1. 13 TO LIFE by Shannon Delany--it was love at first sight once I saw the promo posters for this at RT 2010! I was OBSESSED! And I had to wait OVER a month until it was set to released...longest wait ever! Lol!



Apr 6, 2020

Mini DNF ARC Review--Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

The first novel written for an adult audience by the mega-selling author of the Divergent franchise: five twenty-something heroes famous for saving the world when they were teenagers must face even greater demons—and reconsider what it means to be a hero . . . by destiny or by choice.

A decade ago near Chicago, five teenagers defeated the otherworldly enemy known as the Dark One, whose reign of terror brought widespread destruction and death. The seemingly un-extraordinary teens—Sloane, Matt, Ines, Albie, and Esther—had been brought together by a clandestine government agency because one of them was fated to be the “Chosen One,” prophesized to save the world. With the goal achieved, humankind celebrated the victors and began to mourn their lost loved ones.

Ten years later, though the champions remain celebrities, the world has moved forward and a whole, younger generation doesn’t seem to recall the days of endless fear. But Sloane remembers. It’s impossible for her to forget when the paparazzi haunt her every step just as the Dark One still haunts her dreams. Unlike everyone else, she hasn’t moved on; she’s adrift—no direction, no goals, no purpose. On the eve of the Ten Year Celebration of Peace, a new trauma hits the Chosen: the death of one of their own. And when they gather for the funeral at the enshrined site of their triumph, they discover to their horror that the Dark One’s reign never really ended.

I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

I was all for Veronica Roth's newest book for adults, Chosen Ones! Teenage superheroes turned adults dealing in the aftermath of the defeating the Dark One many years ago! Yet, sadly, somewhere down the line, I just couldn't read anymore. I read almost half of the book before finally calling it quits.

Pacing was a major issue for me with this one.We follow Solane through her everyday life post Dark One. She and her friends still hold quite a bit of fame for their heroic deeds. One thing that was more hindrance than help were the periodical articles that popped up between chapters. Sometimes there would be a chapter change without one, but most to the time these articles popped up. At times, it was really hard to see how this connected to what was happening now. The ones I read were mostly ones from the past, so it shed light onto Sloane's past and made some things a little clear, like how the Dark One went down. Other times I could not see a connection at all. It would be some sort of general synopsis of people with superpowers, possibly pertaining to one of Sloane's friends, but as I said, these particular articles felt like interruptions from the story.

Just when I thought things were getting interesting with a bit of time travel, we had to get into the metaphysics of how such things would work. As in time travel. Or magic. Physics on magic. It was just too much for me at that point. Science and magic shouldn't really mix in my opinion. I mean to an extent, they shouldn't mix. The way this was going, I felt like I would be getting the history of magic meets physics and vice versa. It was just too overwhelming.

Add in the fact that I was almost to the halfway point and the death of one of her friends only just happened and it was only at this point were Solane and her friends about to start their actual "plot" journey. The first 1/3 of the book felt like some sort of prequel almost and I just couldn't handle it anymore.

World-building and pacing were my main issues with this one. I was enjoying the characters for the most part, I felt like I would've grown more attached to them had I been able to finish this one, but sadly, it just wasn't for me.

It's Monday! What are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It's a fun meme where we gather to share what we've read last week and our reading plans for this week.

Last Week I Read:

Winter's Wolf by Alyssa Rose Ivy (ARC) (4.5 stars)
Wicked Abyss by Kresley Cole (4 stars)
Gotham High by Melissa de la Cruz & Ill. by Thomas Pitilli (ARC) (3.5 stars)

Reviews That Were Posted:

Crave by Tracy Wolff (ARC) (5 stars)
A Bad Day for Sunshine by Darynda Jones (ARC) (5 stars)

Currently Reading:

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

What I Plan to Read this Week:

Hungry Like a Wolf by Christine Warren

Other Posts of Interest:

Teaser & Top Ten Tuesdays
Waiting on Wednesday
Random Thursday
Book Blogger Hop
Challenges Monthly Wrap-up: MARCH
Stacking the Shelves

Apr 5, 2020

ARC Review--Gotham High by Melissa de la Cruz & Ill. by Thomas Pitilli

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Alex and Eliza and The Witches of East End comes a reimagining of Gotham for a new generation of readers. Before they became Batman, Catwoman, and The Joker, Bruce, Selina, and Jack were high schoolers who would do whatever it took--even destroy the ones they love--to satisfy their own motives.

After being kicked out of his boarding school, 16-year-old Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City to find that nothing is as he left it. What once was his family home is now an empty husk, lonely but haunted by the memory of his parents' murder. Selina Kyle, once the innocent girl next door, now rules over Gotham High School with a dangerous flair, aided by the class clown, Jack Napier.

When a kidnapping rattles the school, Bruce seeks answers as the dark and troubled knight--but is he actually the pawn? Nothing is ever as it seems, especially at Gotham High, where the parties and romances are of the highest stakes ... and where everyone is a suspect.

With enchanting art by Thomas Pitilli, this new graphic novel is just as intoxicating as it is chilling, in which dearest friends turn into greatest enemies--all within the hallways of Gotham High!

I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. I was in no way compensated for this review. 

First off, I don't really know anything about the beloved comic books that were the basis for so many different movies and spin off novels and other forms of media. I learned what I know mostly from the older movies, so diving into a graphic novel can be a bit of a struggle sometimes. I was excited to read Gotham High by Melissa de la Cruz and illustrated by Thomas Pitilli, because Batman is one of my favorites when it came to the movies. Yeah, the old school ones are laughable these days, but isn't everything from way back when? When you didn't have the newer films to compare it to, that's all there was.

From the various Batman books and movies that I've read...I basically have no idea what stems from the original! I've seen so many ways Bruce's parents died and this adaptation brought about a new version! There were a lot of differences in this story that I wasn't able to tell what was from the original comics and what was changed for creative differences. Needless to say...there was quite a bit that was changed and it left me baffled and struggling to keep up! Lol.

What I did enjoy about this story was the fact that it was Bruce Wayne as a teenager and seeing everyone else that would soon play a part in his story as the Caped Crusader. Selina Kyle and Jack Napier, and Barbie Gordon, Harvey Dent. Names we know or will know further down the line. Though I was a bit puzzled with Principal Gordon and not quite knowing if she was to be the eventual Commissioner Gordon or if she was perhaps his wife...things that a non-comic book reader won't know basically! But the names I recognized!

I'm not sure if it was because I was reading this as an e-ARC, but there were narration boxes that seemed to shift between different characters and I struggled to know who was narrating. Maybe it was my computer screen, but I couldn't really see a difference in color when it came to these boxes, it usually took a few panels before I was able to grasp who the narrator was.

The story here was simple enough, Bruce is kicked out of his prep school and must return to public school where he's reunited with his childhood friend Selina Kyle. He sees the different cliques in the school and doesn't care to fit into any of them really. Then suddenly, a classmate, Harvey Dent, is kidnapped and being ransomed. Bruce suddenly finds himself playing crime solver, as we know he eventually would become one of sorts.

He thinks there's a connection to the kidnapping with a gambling group that circles about parties and whatnot and the guy who knows that most about that of course is Jack.

The kidnappings continue one by one, usually it's the rich kids being taken, suffice to say that Bruce is a likely target as well.

The results were utterly shocking! I had my suspicions about the kidnappers and some of my theories turned out right, but there were pieces of the puzzle I didn't know until all was revealed.

The animation quality to this one was very good! I enjoyed the style that Thomas used to create the panels. That there was a greater color scheme than your basic black and white or grey scale or blue scale was a nice change of pace.

I think what kept me befuddled for so long with this one was the fact that the storyline that I always knew was changed. This shouldn't be something to hold me back, but when it was one dynamic difference after another, it kind of left me with whiplash.

All in all, Gotham High wasn't a bad read. I enjoyed the storyline itself even if the past history and characters were different from what I knew of Batman. It was an enjoyable read overall and I'd recommend it to any Batman fan who's open-minded to what might be some serious differences in history.

Overall Rating 3.5/5 stars

Gotham High releases April 7, 2020

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks! The meme is now hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality.

Well, we're officially on stay-at-home orders in Missouri now. Took them long enough. Sadly, I will still be traveling to work everyday. It sucks to work at a non-essential company who has essential company customers, so I guess we're essential? So we basically won't stop operating even if someone in our building comes down with it. Now that they've given the "okay" for all Americans to be wearing masks, there are naturally none to be found. My family isn't really filled with sewers either, so we can't make our own! Lol. Wishing I kept a bandana I remember having as a child, wouldn't that be something to wear out, especially at work! I continue to wear my gloves at work when handling packages and washing my hands to the point that my poor hands are dry, cracked, and bleeding on occasion. It sucks. This whole situation really, really sucks. I made yet another Walmart run yesterday and it was insane with the new procedures--that I fully understand why they are in place. Though because of the rainy, and maybe windy day, I lost my grocery list upon entering the store and had no intentions of leaving to look for it, so I had to do what I could to remember everything that we wrote on it! I was able to finally get the bread I like, so that was a plus and picked up a few other necessities and backup items of this and that so maybe next weekend we can all stay in.

So yeah, crazy times we're living in, isn't it? How are you all faring?

I did get a few books in the mail this week that made life a little bit better! Here's what I bought:

Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa--keeper copy
Twisted Fates by Danielle Rollins--finally got it on sale!
Imagine Me by Tahereh Mafi--SIGNED!!
Conceal, Don't Feel by Jen Calonita--a FREEBIE! I may eventually buy the hardcover, but I couldn't pass up FREE!
From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout--I've been really excited about this one! I wanted to buy the paperback but it wasn't on sale, so I settled for the ebook for now! Plan to buy that paperback one day though! LOL!
Finale by Stephanie Garber--the ROMANIAN edition!!

For review from the publisher I received:

Gotham High by Melissa de la Cruz & Ill. by Thomas Pitilli (ARC)


And that was it for me this week! What did you all get?!

Apr 4, 2020

Challenges Monthly Wrap-up: MARCH

CHALLENGE 1: 2020 New Release Challenge

Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa (3/31/20)
Wicked Bite by Jeaniene Frost (1/28/20)
Winter's Wolf by Alyssa Rose Ivy (3/31/20)

12/25 down! That's pretty much halfway! Doing good here!

CHALLENGE 2: Print ONLY 2020 Reading Challenge

Shades of Wicked by Jeaniene Frost
Wicked Bite by Jeaniene Frost

Not great, but I did finally finish reading my ARCs, so hopefully it's all real book reading for awhile!

CHALLENGE 3: 2020 Discussion Challenge

11/25 almost halfway there, so not bad! This was a hard month to get through, so let's hope April is better!

CHALLENGE 4: Beat the Backlist 2020 Reading Challenge

Shades of Wicked by Jeaniene Frost (10/30/18)

After finishing my last read I'm now at 2...which will hopefully improve this month! 

CHALLENGE 5: 2020 Series Enders Reading Challenge

Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa (Shadow of the Fox Trilogy)

1/3 down! This one will be challenging as a lot of series in my TBR pile have quite a few books left! Maybe I should finish up some old duologies! Lol.