Skullsworn (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne) by Brian Staveley
Posted on Wednesday, March 15th, 2017 by Brandi

Skullsworn (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne) by Brian StaveleySkullsworn by Brian Staveley
Series: Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne
Published by Tor Books on April 25, 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: ARC, print ARC
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Brian Staveley’s new standalone returns to the critically acclaimed Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne universe, following a priestess attempting to join the ranks of the God of Death.

Pyrre Lakatur doesn’t like the word skullsworn. It fails to capture the faith and grace, the peace and beauty of her devotion to the God of Death. She is not, to her mind, an assassin, not a murderer--she is a priestess. At least, she will be a priestess if she manages to pass her final trial.

The problem isn’t the killing. Pyrre has been killing and training to kill, studying with some of the most deadly men and women in the world, since she was eight. The problem, strangely, is love. To pass her Trial, Pyrre has ten days to kill the ten people enumerated in an ancient song, including "the one you love / who will not come again."

Pyrre is not sure she’s ever been in love. If she were a member of a different religious order, a less devoted, disciplined order, she might cheat. The Priests of Ananshael, however, don’t look kindly on cheaters. If Pyrre fails to find someone to love, or fails to kill that someone, they will give her to the god.

Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to quit, hates to fail, and so, with a month before her trial begins, she returns to the city of her birth, the place where she long ago offered an abusive father to the god and abandoned a battered brother—in the hope of finding love...and ending it on the edge of her sword.

"A complex and richly detailed world filled with elite soldier-assassins, mystic warrior monks, serpentine politics, and ancient secrets." —Library Journal, starred review, on The Emperor's Blades

“Music is inextricable from its own unmaking. Each note is predicated on the death of those before. Try to hold them all, and you have madness, cacophony, noise.”

I’ve made no bones about how much I love Brian Staveley’s writing, and when I saw he was bringing one of my favorite characters back for her own story I was overjoyed! The bad news is that this took a bit for me to feel pulled in, but full disclaimer – I have been in the most epic of epic reading slumps. Literally the worst slump since I learned how to read. I’m pretty sure that’s what my disconnect was all about but the start was a little heavy, a little purple-y, but that could just be me right now.

This story is about Pyrre, who became one of my ultimate faves in his Unhewn Throne series, and it was super awesome getting inside her head and learning some of her past. This story is set before the Unhewn series and is about Pyrre becoming a Priestess for her god (the god of death). She decides to go back to her homeland to carry out her Trial with Ela and Kossal as her Witnesses. Ela is enchanting and I would happily devour a stand alone or more of just her (please, Brian!!), and Kossal was the perfect compliment to both women. Pyrre, of course, knows that she must give to the god someone for whom she loves but she can’t quite decide what love is and how to get to that point. Ela and Kossal can only do so much to help her understand what love is, and there were some serious philosophical conversations within Pyrre’s own head on this matter. Her story is a tense waiting game to see if she’ll succeed or meet her god.

“The goddess makes us in endlessly different ways. Our Struggles are no more the same than our face.”

Pyrre is fascinating to crawl inside of: her childhood was shocking, her training relentless, her mind a warren of endless entertainment. I loved going between deep philosophical debates on love and worship to seeing her biting humor and adventurous spirit. Seeing her find the one person she might be able to love and going through that journey with her was tough. The synopsis tells us what she has to do so as I’m falling for Ruc I’m all upset that his death is coming and I would go back and forth between glaring at Staveley and feeling sad for Ruc and mad at Pyrre. Even in my horrific slump Brian Staveley knew just how to draw me in.

“All that they have is the old stories, stories of snakes in throats and violets in eyes – those stories are their only weapon, and stories are only weapons if you repeat them.”

“As long as they remained unspoken, they could be denied, disowned, but saying a thing gives it strength.”

This book is a true stand alone but I can’t recommend the Unhewn series enough, Pyrre is a supporting character there so you really can read this without them, but it’s the same world which always makes the reading that much more interesting I think. This book has all that I love in stories: action, adventure, love, sex, humor, myths, legends, and fun. It is an easy read being pretty short for a fantasy which is a great way to break into the genre if you’re not already a fan – or don’t like reading super long books. Brian Staveley is a must-read author.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Posted on Monday, November 14th, 2016 by Emily May

Heartless by Marissa MeyerHeartless by Marissa Meyer
Published by Pan Macmillan on November 17th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 324
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Long before she was the Queen of Hearts, Catherine Pinkerton was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.
Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

“These things do not happen in dreams, dear girl,” he said, vanishing up to his neck. “They happen only in nightmares.”
His head spiralled and he was gone.

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And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich
Posted on Monday, October 31st, 2016 by Emily May

And the Trees Crept In by Dawn KurtagichAnd the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich
on September 6th 2016
Genres: Horror, Young Adult
Pages: 352
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When Silla and Nori arrive at their aunt's home, it's immediately clear that the "blood manor" is cursed. The creaking of the house and the stillness of the woods surrounding them would be enough of a sign, but there are secrets too--the questions that Silla can't ignore: Who is the beautiful boy that's appeared from the woods? Who is the man that her little sister sees, but no one else? And why does it seem that, ever since they arrived, the trees have been creeping closer?

“He’s out there,” I say, turning back to the window. “Always watching. Getting stronger.”

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The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
Posted on Friday, October 28th, 2016 by Emily May

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnisThe Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
Published by HarperCollins on September 20th 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 352
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Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it.
Three years ago, when her older sister, Anna, was murdered and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best—the language of violence. While her own crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people. Not with Jack, the star athlete who wants to really know her but still feels guilty over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered. And not with Peekay, the preacher’s kid with a defiant streak who befriends Alex while they volunteer at an animal shelter. Not anyone.
As their senior year unfolds, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting these three teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

This is how I kill someone.
And I don’t feel bad about it.

BRUTAL. That’s how I would describe this book. It sits there all unassuming with its cute yellow cover and pictures of animals, but underneath it has some serious fangs. Rather like the female of the species, I suppose. Read more… »

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Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories
Posted on Thursday, July 7th, 2016 by Emily May

Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love StoriesSummer Days and Summer Nights by Stephanie Perkins
Published by Pan Macmillan on June 2nd 2016
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, Short Stories, Young Adult
Pages: 301
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Summer Days and Summer Nights is a beautiful collection of twelve gorgeously romantic short stories, by some of the most talented and exciting YA authors writing today. Collected together by Stephanie Perkins, the editor behind My True Love Gave to Me, this wonderful collection of summer romances will delight all fans of YA.
Summer Days and Summer Nights includes stories by: Leigh Bardugo, Nina LaCour, Libba Bray, Francesca Lia Block, Stephanie Perkins, Tim Federle, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovran, Brandy Colbert, Cassandra Clare, Jennifer E Smith, and Lev Grossman.

This was a great collection. It’s so many things: diverse, creative, funny and sad. That’s actually what surprised me most of all: overall, this was a very melancholy, bittersweet collection, especially when compared to the mostly fun and feel-good My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories. The cover makes it look very cutesy, but it tackles a lot of important issues.
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Draw the Line by Laurent Linn
Posted on Monday, May 23rd, 2016 by Emily May

Draw the Line by Laurent LinnDraw the Line by Laurent Linn
Published by Simon and Schuster on May 17th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, LGBT
Pages: 528
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After a hate crime occurs in his small Texas town, Adrian Piper must discover his own power, decide how to use it, and know where to draw the line in this stunning debut novel exquisitely illustrated by the author.
Adrian Piper is used to blending into the background. He may be a talented artist, a sci-fi geek, and gay, but at his Texas high school those traits would only bring him the worst kind of attention.
In fact, the only place he feels free to express himself is at his drawing table, crafting a secret world through his own Renaissance-art-inspired superhero, Graphite.
But in real life, when a shocking hate crime flips his world upside down, Adrian must decide what kind of person he wants to be. Maybe it’s time to not be so invisible after all—no matter how dangerous the risk.

Unlike Michelangelo, I may not have church ceilings and museum walls to hang art on, to show what I need the world to see. But I do have lockers.
And I have the Internet.

Draw the Line is my definition of great Contemporary YA: a serious look at hard-hitting social issues, with a warm fuzzy tingle of hope to wrap it up.
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Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Posted on Monday, May 16th, 2016 by Emily May

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain NeuvelSleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Published by Random House Publishing Group on April 26th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction
Pages: 288
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A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.   Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.   But some can never stop searching for answers.   Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

You have to understand that this flies in the face of everything we know about American civilizations.

Sleeping Giants is being compared to the bestseller and now successful Matt Damon film – The Martian – which is misleading, if not entirely inaccurate.
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The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
Posted on Wednesday, May 11th, 2016 by Emily May

The Hidden Oracle by Rick RiordanThe Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 258
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How do you punish an immortal? By making him human. After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disoriented, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus's favor. But Apollo has many enemies—gods, monsters, and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go . . . an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.

Zeus needed someone to blame, so of course he’d picked the handsomest, most talented, most popular god in the pantheon: me.

This might be my favourite Riordan book.

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A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Posted on Monday, May 9th, 2016 by Emily May

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. MaasA Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 432
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The stunning sequel to Sarah J. Maas' New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses.
Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court--but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.
Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms--and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future--and the future of a world cleaved in two.

I was not a pet, not a doll, not an animal.
I was a survivor, and I was strong.

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The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh
Posted on Friday, April 29th, 2016 by Emily May

The Rose & the Dagger by Renee AhdiehThe Rose and the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh
Published by Penguin Young Readers Group on April 26th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 432
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I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust. In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse--one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid's empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.
While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn't yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.

No. He was not here to wreak revenge.
For revenge was trifling and hollow.
No. He was not here to retrieve his wife.
For his wife was not a thing to be retrieved.
No. He was not here to negotiate a truce.
For a truce suggested he wished to compromise.

He was here to burn something to the ground.

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Hi! I'm Emily May but feel free to call me Emily. I'm a nerdy, book-loving Politics graduate from the North of England.

Hey there! I'm Brandi; I'm a Navy veteran, Army wife, mother, feminist and book lover! My go-to genre would have to be Urban Fantasy, but any fiction is game really.

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