*First Line Friday 8/23/19* Midnight Beauties- Megan Shepherd

43261027The witches, beasties, goblins, and Royals return in this spellbinding conclusion to New York Times best-selling author Megan Shepherd’s Grim Lovelies duology. 

Ever since she discovered her affinity for magic, seventeen-year-old Anouk has been desperate to become a witch. It’s the only way to save her friends who, like Anouk, are beasties: animals enchanted into humans. But unlike Anouk, the other beasties didn’t make it out of the battle at Montélimar in one piece.

With her friends now trapped in their animal forms, Anouk is forced into a sinister deal involving a political marriage with her sworn enemy, a wicked plot to overthrow London’s fiercest coven of witches, and a deadly trial of fire to become a witch. The price for power has always been steep in the world of the Haute. Now, it will cost Anouk everything.

Wicked and delightful, this spellbinding sequel and conclusion to Grim Lovelies is perfect for fans of The Cruel Prince and The Hazelwood Wood.

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“There was blood everywhere, even in her hair.”

*ARC Review* White Stag – Kara Barbieri

whitestagTitle: White Stag

Author: Kara Barbieri

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Release Date: January 8, 2019

Page Count: 368 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary:

The first book in a brutally stunning series where a young girl finds herself becoming more monster than human and must uncover dangerous truths about who she is and the place that has become her home.

As the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke—as the only survivor—was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren.

Janneke’s survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King’s death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows him that a little humanity isn’t bad—especially when it comes to those you care about.

Through every battle they survive, Janneke’s loyalty to Soren deepens. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling.

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My Review

Trigger warnings: White Stag contains some content that may be uncomfortable for some readers, including mention/discussion of rape and self harm, violence, death, and animal harm.

“Here, as the only mortal in a hall of monsters, I was very glad that I was not most humans.”

This dark and richly lush novel surprised me. I was expecting a book with a main character that still lived in the past and struggled with the circumstances of her present life. That was somewhat the case, but for the most part, I was way off, and that’s a good thing because the main character is so much better than what I was expecting.

White Stag demonstrates that it’s okay to present a fantasy world that’s crawling with foreseen and unforeseen dangers. It’s okay to have a main character that has been through many hardships and lives a life she never would have expected for herself. And it’s wildly okay to write a book with a dark atmosphere.

“The heartbeat of the Permafrost was like thunder underneath my feet, and the prey lines were clear as the morning sun.”

I haven’t read a dark fantasy in a long time. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever read a fantasy with this many dark elements. It’s a good thing, since most YA fantasy books have dark elements, but none as dark as the ones in White Stag. The world Janneke lives in is harsh and dangerous and cruel, a world humans would run from if some, like Janneke, were not forced into staying. Goblins rule the Permafrost and humans are merely considered servants to most. They fight, they kill one another without a simple care for who they are. It’s as if everything is a game to them, and everyone is merely a pawn in the Permafrost.

The idea of hunting the white stag was unique. I enjoyed how having the power of the white stag proved who was the next Goblin King. But the hunt itself is deadly to many and one hundred percent unkind to all. Janneke doesn’t know what really to expect in the hunt, except that many goblins will perish and one will come out the victor. But she was never expecting to find herself in the hunt and come out being the person she was meant to become.

I loved the dynamic between Janneke and Soren. Janneke is slow to trust Soren, as Soren is considered her “master.” But unlike the other goblins, unlike Lydian, Soren doesn’t want Janneke to be a servant, to treat him like a master. He wants Janneke to see him as a friend, or potentially something more. But like most relationships, theirs starts out rough. Janneke originally belonged to Lydian before she landed in Soren’s possession, so Janneke believes that all goblins are monsters. But over the years, Janneke realizes Soren is nothing like the other Goblins, and that Soren wants her as a confidant and someone to trust. And, slowly, that’s how their relationship begins to change.

“The future is frightening, I know. The choice is the hardest of all. But it is a choice — who rules and who lives and who dies, who hunts and who mends and who heals. It is your power to choose.”

Janneke’s inner demons and her disturbing past are constant factors in the story. Lydian stole her from the human world after killing everything she held dear and from there, he only made her life worse. Lydian did what he could to rip her apart and break her spirit. And even though she lived after her captivity, she has scars branded on her body and nightmares that haunt her day and night. She faces her demons daily and, though she is a strong soul, she can’t escape everything. And then there’s her fear of becoming something she never wanted to become: a monster. But she soon realizes that monsters come in many forms.

Overall, I enjoyed this darkly atmospheric book and I look forward to reading the sequel.

White Stag releases January 8, 2019!

Thank you to the publishing company for sending an advanced e-copy for me to read and write an honest review! All quotes are from the advanced e-copy and may not appear in the final print copy.

nikole

The Goblin Crown- Robert Hewitt Wolfe

“The greatest beast crushes the bravest man. The bravest man slaughters the wiliest fox. The wiliest fox preys on the most elusive bird. The most elusive bird pecks up the smallest insect. And with a single diseased bite, the smallest insect brings down the greatest beast. We are all carrion and eaters of carrion, fertilizer for the wheat that makes our bread. Place a crown over it. And call it paradise.”

Received a galley edition of this book from Turner Publishing for an honest review!

They don’t pull punches here and get right to the good stuff. It goes from a page of introducing the teenagers and then bam, goblins galore. (Please note that I’m sick, so if this makes you feel uncomfortable at any time… please step out of the train car.)

Billy is your typical nerdy student, except for these spells that cause him to get dizzy. Once he gets dizzy, he sees things and feels them. Like he’s in another world.

Lexi tries to comfort him, but to no use. He brushes her off and things go from bad to worse. While during lunch, he stumbles again getting dizzy and drops his lunch all over the quarterback Kurt. 

Kurt has special plans on getting them back at the end of the day. And after school, Kurt waits and waits for them to show face. Knowing what’s to come, Lexi and Billy go another way to avoid this escapade. Kurt being who he is, know all and starts giving chase. Lexi and Billy escaping into a tunnel that they didn’t know existed. And poof! They find themselves in a mysterious land. One that they have never seen before. 

Welcome to the land of Kiranok!! The underground world of Goblins and magical creatures a like. 

The Goblins have been at war with the Hanorians and the crown has been unclaimed. It is time for an unlikely creature to come and place the crown on their head. Once it is touched by the chosen one, the ruby jewel with shine bright and the world is to know that the king has returned home.

With some unfortunate events that occur while trying to not only save themselves but also save the Goblin race. One of those three teenagers is heir to the throne. But which one has it in them to save what is rightfully theirs?

This was one heck of an adventurous thrill ride. I felt that I was placed at the Shire waiting for someone to come and steal the ring. But instead of a ring we have a crown that needs to be placed with his rightful owner. 

The pace seemed way out of whack, which took away from the story. It started off at the highest point and towards the middle dropped down, but seemed to pick up more speed before the crown found its owner and then it dropped again. A crazy ride of speeds and bumps in the road. I still look forward to seeing what Billy and his friends have in store. 

Let the games begin!!!

3/5