Book Review of A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha

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Title: Curse of Roses

Author: Diana Pinguicha

Review by: Dani Hoots

Genre: YA Fantasy/Historical Fantasy/LGBTQ

Rating: 5/5

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Purchase links can be found HERE!

Back cover:

With just one touch, bread turns into roses. With just one bite, cheese turns into lilies.

There’s a famine plaguing the land, and Princess Yzabel is wasting food simply by trying to eat. Before she can even swallow, her magic—her curse—has turned her meal into a bouquet. She’s on the verge of starving, which only reminds her that the people of Portugal have been enduring the same pain.

If only it were possible to reverse her magic. Then she could turn flowers…into food.

Fatyan, a beautiful Enchanted Moura, is the only one who can help. But she is trapped by magical binds. She can teach Yzabel how to control her curse—if Yzabel sets her free with a kiss.

As the King of Portugal’s betrothed, Yzabel would be committing treason, but what good is a king if his country has starved to death?

With just one kiss, Fatyan is set free. And with just one kiss, Yzabel is yearning for more.

She’d sought out Fatyan to help her save the people. Now, loving her could mean Yzabel’s destruction.

Based on Portuguese legend, this #OwnVoices historical fantasy is an epic tale of mystery, magic, and making the impossible choice between love and duty…

*I received this book from YA Bound Tours for my honest review*

This was a remarkable story that was full of color, imagination, and history. Pinguicha did a great job in her research and making this story feel grounded in the past, yet still have a flare of fantasy. I was fascinated by how the MC had a curse that turned everything she ate into flowers. I couldn’t help to wonder how I would deal with such a curse as an herbalist. It wouldn’t be practical, but the first five minutes would be cool!

The LGBTQ aspect was great and made me really feel for the characters, especially given the time period. Pinguicha put a lot of thought on how to portray the characters in the era and I really respect and admire that in books. It is ignorant to think LGBTQ wasn’t prominent throughout the history and it seems like a lot of books ignore that fact. Yay representation!

All in all, I highly recommend this book!

~Dani

About the Author:

Born in the sunny lands of Portugal, Diana is a Computer Engineer graduate who currently calls Lisbon home. She can usually be found writing, painting, devouring extraordinary quantities of books and video games, or walking around with her bearded dragon, Norberta. She also has two cats, Sushi and Jubas, who would never forgive her if she didn’t mention them.

Her art can be found at http://pinguicha.deviantart.com.

Also publishes under Diana Pinguicha Connors.

Website: http://pinguicha.wordpress.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/pinguicha

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Book Review of Roaring by Lindsey Duga

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Title: Roaring

Author: Lindsey Duga

Genre: YA Historical Fantasy

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 5/5

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Back cover:

Colt Clemmons is an agent in a specialized division within the Bureau of Investigation—one that hunts down not just mobsters, but also monsters.

For reasons that are kept top secret, Colt is the only person who can resist a siren’s voice. But he’s never had a chance to test this ability. The last siren left in the world mysteriously disappeared years ago.

Then one night, with a single word, she reveals herself. It seems too good to be true.

And it is. Because nothing about this siren—her past, her powers, or her purpose—is what it seems…

*I received this book from YA Bound Tours for an honest review*

I could not put this book down! This is a great historical fantasy that is set in the 1930s with flappers, speakeasies, and monsters! What more could you want? It felt like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them mixed with Percy Jackson. There were a lot of twists and turns and I found it to be paced perfectly and had the right amount of information that kept me interested.

The main character, a siren, is on the radar of more than one agency. The government wants her, the people who have been hiding her don’t want anyone to know what she is, and her original creator wants her back. Little does she know that her gifts are actually supernatural powers that have been forced upon her at a young age.

That is, until Colt comes in. He throws her life for a loop as he wants to take her back to the US government headquarters. Never did he realize what other mysteries were surrounding her and the other monsters in the dark. A great spin on the genre that kept me wanting more. I hope there are more books in this series, as I want to know what else is in store for them.

I highly recommend for fans of the 1930s and fantasy!

~Dani

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY HERE

Excerpt:

Still with Madame Maldu’s gaze at my back, I slipped around the bar and headed for the young man sitting by himself, his fedora pulled low over his eyes. His sleeves had been rolled up to his elbows, showing off pale, but muscular, hands, wrists, and arms. It was a warm autumn for Boston, so his lack of coat wasn’t odd, but it stood out. In fact, he was the kind of fella who seemed like he could do whatever he wanted. If his goal was to blend in and not be seen, he could throw on his coat and sit with a drink and not talk to anyone, becoming one with the furniture. If he preferred to stand out, he could tip his hat back, and lift his face and smile, but if he wanted just the right kind of attention, all he needed to do was roll up his sleeves.

I shook my head. How could I have gotten all that from his exposed forearms?

Walking up to his table, I pulled out my waitressing tools and poised my pencil on my pad of paper, awaiting his order.

It was then that he looked up and I got a peak at the face below the hat.

His eyes were dark. It was the first thing I noticed. Eyes where you could barely tell if there were pupils at all.

It was clear he was attractive, but not in a pretty, hotsy-totsy sort of way. His face was geometric. Perfect, square jaw, a straight plane nose, triangular, high cheekbones, and a rectangle forehead. His light brown hair, practically blond, was swept to the side under his hat. But, like Madame Maldu, he was not handsome solely because of his looks, it was his air. His…competence.

A strange way to describe a stranger, perhaps, but it seemed to me that this was a fella who knew his place in life. His past. His present. Maybe even his future.

It wasn’t until he cleared his throat that I realized I was staring. Redirecting my gaze to the pad of paper, I waited for his order, heat creeping up my neck and into my cheeks, and a small shiver going down my spine.

He said nothing.

Glancing up from my pad, I caught him staring as well.

Oh. He’s waiting for me. Now even my ears growing hot, I tapped my pad with my pencil, and gestured it toward him, showing him what I couldn’t say in words.

His brow furrowed, and for a worrisome moment, I wondered if he didn’t talk either.

After a few long, silent, and awkward seconds, he asked, “You want to take my order?”

Relieved, I nodded vigorously.

His rectangular brow dented deeper, more into a right angle. “Do you not speak?”

I couldn’t help but admire the quality of his voice. It was a low timbre, a combination of the strings of a cello, the pluck of a bass, and the lingering bottom note of a sax.

Again, I nodded.

The stranger’s brow now seemed to be a straight V, as if this angered or frustrated him somehow. An aura of hostility exuded from him.

Tentatively, I took a step back.

At my retreat, his face cleared and he gave me an easy smile, completely changing the lines of his face into something real handsome.

I’d been right. This man was a chameleon. He wore a rugged grin that would make most gals swoon. Maybe me included, if I hadn’t felt that anger coming off him like heat from a radiator in the dead of winter.

“Not a chatter, eh? That’s all right. I can talk enough for the two of us.” He leaned forward, folding his arms and resting his elbows on the table as his grin widened. I noticed his feet shift, hooking his ankles around the legs of the spindle chair. “If you don’t speak, I guess you can’t tell me your name,” the stranger said, his head cocking in a way that made him look contemplative. “Which is a pity. Lovely dame like you, I bet you’ve got a name to match. Do you mind if I take a few guesses?”

He wanted to guess my name? I merely stared at him. Not sure how to handle this one. Maybe I should back away and let Stanley take his order.

But I had to admit, the stranger intrigued me. It was a scary, thrilling sort of intrigue. Like hearing a scary story. Nerves heightened, bated breath, terrified and yet captivated, thrilled and yet wary.

He was the kind of thrilling a person would want to be brave for.

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About the Author

Lindsey Duga developed a deep love for courageous heroes, dastardly villains, and enchanting worlds from the cartoon shows, books, and graphic novels she read as a kid. Drawing inspiration from these fantastical works of fiction, she wrote her first novel in college while she was getting her bachelor’s in Mass Communication from Louisiana State University. By day, Lindsey is an account manager at a digital marketing agency based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. By night, and the wee hours of the morning, she writes both middle grade and young adult. She has a weakness for magic, anything classical, all kinds of mythology, and falls in love with tragic heroes. Other than writing and cuddling with her morkie puppy, Delphi, Lindsey loves catching up on the latest superhero TV show, practicing yoga, and listening (and belting) to her favorite music artists and show tunes. KISS OF THE ROYAL is her YA debut novel.

Author Links:

Website: https://lindseyduga.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lindseyduga
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/linzduga/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lduga
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15853318.Lindsey_Duga
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lindsey-Duga/e/B07BJNMRHX/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1524077289&sr=1-1

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Manga Review of Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Vol 1-3

Series: Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Vol 1 – 3

US Publisher: VIZ Media

Mangaka: Yuji Kaku

Genre: Historical Fiction/Horror

Rating: Volume 1: 5/5; Volume 2: 4/5; Volume 3: 4/5

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Description:

Gabimaru the Hollow is one of the most vicious assassins ever to come out of the ninja village of Iwagakure. He’s ruthlessly efficient, but a betrayal results in him being handed a death sentence. He has only one hope—in order to earn his freedom, he must travel to a long-hidden island and recover an elixir that will make the shogun immortal. Failure is not an option. On this island, heaven and hell are just a hair’s breadth away.

Vol 1:

Volume 1 does a great job of introducing Gabimaru and his job as an assassin and how he keeps using his powers to evade death. After being interviewed by Sagari of the Yamada clan, it is determined that he will be given a pardon and can live his live with his wife in safety. It seems like a good deal, but there is definitely more than meets the eye on this deal.

Gabimaru and Sagari are very interesting characters that we learn about through the first volume. It is definitely rated mature and has a lot of violence and nudity throughout the book. The art is very detailed and well done. I found the story for the first book to be quite interesting and am looking forward in learning more.

Vol 2:

In this volume we learn more about the main characters Gabimaru and Sagari and what they have been through to become the killers that they are. After we are introduced to the other murderers and guards that will be going to the island, I started to lose track of who was who and what exactly was going on. While I liked the idea of the paradise plants and bugs taking over bodies and the mystery of what is going on, I was losing track of who’s backstory we were seeing flashbacks for and who was alive or dead.

Vol 3:

*received an ARC from VIZ via Netgalley for an honest review*

In the third volume, we learn more about the paradise and what is going on with the plants and insects. Like volume 2, I was confused who’s backstory we were learning about. We do learn more about Sagari and her strengths and weaknesses. I feel she is a believable character in the world this mangaka has created. If you like horror, I definitely recommend as the art is quite spectacular and the characters are interesting. Although it is a little confusing, it is still really interesting and I am curious as to what will happen next.

~Dani

Comic Review of Plume

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Series: Plume

Written and Illustrated by: K. Lynn Smith

Rating: 5/5

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Description:

Plume is a story set in the Old West about a girl named Vesper Grey and her supernatural companion, Corrick. On their quest to recover her father’s life work, they encounter new friends and new foes, and learn that the Wild West is anything but tame.

K. Lynn Smith is one of my favorite artist, so I had to splurge and get the omnibus for her series PLUME and it did not disappoint. This was a great mix of fantasy, adventure, and mystery that is set in the past during the Wild West. Who could want more than that?

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I really enjoyed the story and characters Smith created. They all felt believable and one could understand their motives for what they did. There were a lot of twists and turns and I was surprised much of the time. If you enjoy Indiana Jones or Trigun, you will definitely enjoy this series!

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K. Lynn Smith has a Patreon so if you want to follow her work and support her, please check it out by clicking here! I am excited for her new series and will give my review of the first graphic novel collection soon.

~Dani

Book Review of The Damned by Renée Ahdieh

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Title: The Damned

Author: Renée Ahdieh

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 5/5

IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Back cover:

New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with the second installment of her new sumptuous, sultry and romantic series, The Beautiful.

Following the events of The Beautiful, Sébastien Saint Germain is now cursed and forever changed. The treaty between the Fallen and the Brotherhood has been broken, and war between the immortals seems imminent. The price of loving Celine was costly.

But Celine has also paid a high price for loving Bastien. Still recovering from injuries sustained during a night she can’t quite remember, her dreams are troubled. And she doesn’t know she has inadvertently set into motion a chain of events that could lead to her demise and unveil a truth about herself she’s not ready to learn.

Forces hiding in the shadows have been patiently waiting for this moment. And just as Bastien and Celine begin to uncover the danger around them, they learn their love could tear them apart.

The Damned, Renée’s latest installment in The Beautiful series is just as decadent, thrilling, and mysterious as her last, as she continues her most potent fantasy series yet.

This book was nonstop magical! From page one I was hooked! I finished the first book a couple of months ago (see book 1 review here) and I enjoyed it a lot, but this one was all that and more!

*Warning, Book 1 spoilers below*

Book 1 leaves off with Celine having her memories of Bastien wiped and Bastien having been turned into a vampire. Instead of starting off with Celine, whom was the main character for the first book, this story mostly takes place from Bastien’s POV and other vampires in his group. I loved this duality, so we finally see what is going one behind the series. The first book was a little slow, although there is something to be said about slow paced books to really set the mood, but this one is nonstop. We learn a lot more about the folklore behind vampires and the werewolves. I won’t spoil any more, but this a mythology that is well weaved together and left me wanting more. I really want to read book 3 right now!

If you didn’t care for book 1, I highly recommend still picking this book up to read. You will not be disappointed!

~Dani

Book Review of The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

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Title: The Beautiful

Author: Renée Ahdieh

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 4/5

IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Back cover:

New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with a sumptuous, sultry and romantic new series set in 19th century New Orleans where vampires hide in plain sight.

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans is a safe haven after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent in the middle of the carnival season, Celine is quickly enraptured by the vibrant city, from its music to its fancy soirées and even its danger. She becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s enigmatic leader, Sébastien Saint Germain.

When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in Sébastien’s own lair–the second dead girl to turn up in recent weeks–Celine battles her attraction to Sébastien and suspicions about his guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

After a third murder, New Orleans becomes gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose–one who has now set Celine in his sights. As the murderer stalks her, Celine finally takes matters into her own hands, only to find herself caught in the midst of an age-old feud between the darkest creatures of the night, where the price of forbidden love is her life.

At once a sultry romance and a decadent, thrilling mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet.

I don’t know if you all know this, but I love vampire books 😛 So when I saw this book, I had to pick it up. Then @PenguinTeen was having a readathon with this book so I had to join.

Taking place in the beautiful area of New Orleans during the 1870s, this gem of a book (with the second book coming out in July) kept reading for hours on end. I needed to know what was going to happen next, and couldn’t put it down. It is gorgeously written and the prose is excellent. Celine is a very witty character and I love all her development.  I also loved Bastien and found him to be an awesome character.

The only problem I had with this book was that it didn’t quite explain everything that happened or tie up some loose ends. Although there is going to be a second book, where it left off made sense for the second book, but we don’t have all the answers for what was happening in the first first place.

I definitely recommend this book if you love New Orleans and vampire stories. I definitely can’t wait for the second book!

~Dani