Review: The Empress by S.J. Kincaid

The Empress by S.J. Kincaid 

  • Pub. Date: October 31, 2017
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
  • Pages: 378
  • Series: The Diabolic #2
  • Rating:4.5/5
  • Goodreads/Amazon/ Book Depository

It’s a new day in the Empire. Tyrus has ascended to the throne with Nemesis by his side and now they can find a new way forward—one where they don’t have to hide or scheme or kill. One where creatures like Nemesis will be given worth and recognition, where science and information can be shared with everyone and not just the elite.

But having power isn’t the same thing as keeping it, and change isn’t always welcome. The ruling class, the Grandiloquy, has held control over planets and systems for centuries—and they are plotting to stop this teenage Emperor and Nemesis, who is considered nothing more than a creature and certainly not worthy of being Empress.

Nemesis will protect Tyrus at any cost. He is the love of her life, and they are partners in this new beginning. But she cannot protect him by being the killing machine she once was. She will have to prove the humanity that she’s found inside herself to the whole Empire—or she and Tyrus may lose more than just the throne. But if proving her humanity means that she and Tyrus must do inhuman things, is the fight worth the cost of winning it?

Review:  I'm a ball of emotions right now and I don't know what to do with any of it except for the fact I know I need the next book in my hands like yesterday. I am happy to announce The Empress did not in any way suffer the second book syndrome, nope none at all. S.J. Kincaid made sure of that as she ripped my heart in two and damn near gave me a heart attack a few times.

The book picks up a while after the last one ended. Tyrus is now emperor and Nemesis is the new empress to be. Of course, if you read The Diabolic you know many will have issues with a diabolic being their new empress and if you remember the chaos and betrayals and back-stabbing from the first book oh you can bet your last dollar this book does not fall short, in actuality, there was much more scheming and what the f*** moments in The Empress then there ever was in The Diabolic, and The Diabolic had plenty.

Funny thing is The Diabolic was originally a standalone and I was happy with that, I loved how it ended and when I saw The Empress was released and it was the second book in the series I was on the fence of whether I was going to pick it up, honestly I was leaning more towards not, because I was satisfied with The Diabolic and how it was wrapped up and I was afraid that this was just a money grab by the publishers so I was going to stay away, well the book gods had other plans evidently because The Empress showed up at my doorstep and I took it as a sign that I am meant to read it and so I did and I loved the hell out of it and I can't believe I almost passed up on this. Shame on me. So if you are like me and you read the first book but not sure about The Empress, just go now and grab yourself a copy it was pretty effin' epic. Although reader beware the ending will kill you and wanting more. Luckily there is another book which now I will desperately be waiting for, with nervous anticipation.


Review: And The Story Begins Book Subscription Box

I was asked by And The Story Begins to review their book box. It is a monthly subscription box which offers two brand new books for the price of  $16.95. You are able to choose what genre you would like from the following options:
Young Adult Fiction
Suprise box (where it can be any one of the genres stated above or a combination of the genres chosen by the curators)

The books I received were Bleed Like Me by C. Desir (Value - $17.99) and The Furies by Mark Alpert (Value - $25.99) So a combined value of the box was $43.98. I do have to say though And The Story Begins won't be everyone's cup of tea especially for all of you who only want the latest releases in your book boxes, for example, the books I received were both released in 2014. So for people who buy a ton of books every month and want to read the latest releases, this won't work for you. I think this book box will be perfect for people who don't have time to keep up with the latest and greatest happenings in the book community and just want a good book to read or maybe for those who want to explore a new genre from the ones they usually grab but are not sure where to start. 

One thing I loved about the company as a whole was their packaging it was beautifully done. They also are very environmentally friendly using 100% recycled materials. They offer three subscription options with their lowest being the one month for $16.95 which I stated above, the second option is their three month for $47.50 and their third option is for six months for $86.50.
To check out their subscription box for yourself click on the link below

Okay, so quick edit:

I didn't see this until after I posted my review but luckily as I grabbed the books to put them away I saw it. The books even though brand new did come with a small imperfection. If you are a book blogger or anyone who deals in the book community you probably already know what they mean. For those of you who don't it basically means the books were returned to the publisher by a bookstore or the likes due to excess in inventory, and the publisher marks them with those marks signifying it a bargain book and that the book can no longer be returned to them for credit. If you purchase from places like book outlet you may have seen them in your book as well. I was a little surprised to see the marks on these books, I didn't see it stated anywhere on their website that the books will come with these imperfections.  I have plenty of books with those marks since I purchase my books from all over but for those of you who want a "perfect" book, this might not be for you.

---I received this box from And The Story Begins for a fair and honest review.

For those of you who are curious about the books I received here are the blurbs for both books.

Bleed Like Me - From the author of Fault Line comes an edgy and heartbreaking novel about two self-destructive teens in a Sid and Nancy-like romance full of passion, chaos, and dyed hair.

Seventeen-year-old Amelia Gannon (just "Gannon" to her friends) is invisible to almost everyone in her life. To her parents, to her teachers-even her best friend, who is more interested in bumming cigarettes than bonding. Some days the only way Gannon knows she is real is by carving bloody lines into the flesh of her stomach.

Then she meets Michael Brooks, and for the first time, she feels like she is being seen to the core of her being. Obnoxious, controlling, damaged, and addictive, he inserts himself into her life until all her scars are exposed. Each moment together is a passionate, painful relief.

But as the relationship deepens, Gannon starts to feel as if she's standing at the foot of a dam about to burst. She's given up everything and everyone in her life for him, but somehow nothing is enough for Brooks-until he poses the ultimate test.

Bleed Like Me is a piercing, intimate portrayal of the danger of a love so obsessive it becomes its own biggest threat.

The FuriesFor centuries, the Furies have lived among us. Long ago they were called witches and massacred by the thousands. But they're human just like us, except for a rare genetic mutation that they've hidden from the rest of the world for hundreds of years.

Now, a chance encounter with a beautiful woman named Ariel has led John Rogers into the middle of a secret war among the Furies. Ariel needs John's help in the battle between a rebellious faction of the clan and their elders. The grand prize in this war is a chance to remake the human race.

Mark Alpert's The Furies weaves cutting-edge science into an ingenious thriller, showing how a simple genetic twist could have inspired tales of witchcraft and sorcery, and how the paranormal could indeed be possible.


Black Bird of the Gallows - Giveaway and Excerpt

Hello Readers! Welcome to the Release Week Blitz for
Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel
presented by Entangled Teen!
Grab your copy today!

Congratulations Meg!

A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.
Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human. What's more, she knows something most don't. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.
Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel Publisher: Entangled Teen Publication Date: September 5, 2017

His soft voice clashes with the intensity of his gaze. “You’re adorable when you’re trying to be mad at me. You needn’t work so hard at it, though. We aren’t meant to be adversaries.”
“I, um…” My thoughts disband, leaving nothing for communication purposes. I’m adorable? Adorable has many definitions. I think my dog is adorable, for example. “That…wasn’t what I was going to ask you.”
He inclines his head. “Okay, then. Ask.”
But that “adorable” echoes through me, clinking around like a penny down a well. “What are we meant to be, then?”
His lips curls up at the corners. “That wasn’t your question, either.”

Meg Kassel is an author of paranormal and speculative books for young adults. A New Jersey native, Meg graduated from Parson's School of Design and worked as a graphic designer before becoming a writer. She now lives in Maine with her husband and daughter and is busy at work on her next novel. She is the 2016 RWA Golden Heart© winner in YA.

Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!


Drift by Amy Murray - Giveaway + Excerpt Reveal

“Why do you keep running from me?”

I could feel a blush rise to my cheeks, and I hoped it wasn’t enough to notice. “I’m not sure I know what you mean.”

He tilted his head to the side, and his eyes narrowed. “You run every chance you get. What is it about me that scares you?”

“Nothing,” I said too quickly,  mortified  that  he would think otherwise. “I’m not scared of you. I’m— It’s complicated.”

He dropped his hands flat on the tabletop. His skin was mottled like he’d been burned. My eyes traced the scars to his wrists, where they disappeared under the sleeves of his shirt, and I wondered how far they went.

“A lot of things are complicated, but this?” His hand gestured between us, and as it fell, his fingers brushed mine. “This shouldn’t be.”

My entire body tensed and shivered. The place where the edge of our fingers touched was ablaze with heat, and my insides melted as his hand slowly worked to cover mine. His skin was hot, and it seared mine all the way down to the bone. I wanted to pull away, to free myself from whatever this was, but I couldn’t.

The edges of my vision blurred and blackened. My surroundings shifted, and I was no longer sitting across from him at the Center. I was in the back of a darkened alleyway—huddled in fear.

I shook myself until my vision cleared. “What’re you doing to me?” I asked as I pulled my hand from under his.

He stood from his seat, pulled out the chair next to mine, and sat so close our knees knocked together.

“Nothing. I’m not doing anything. But you feel it, too?”

No. No. This was an illness, not a shared feeling. This was me turning into her. I shook my head and denied his words, but James wasn’t so easily discouraged.

“I know you do. Tell me you do.” His hand reached toward my face and hovered an inch off my skin. For one agonizing moment, I thought he was going to pull away, but instead, he cupped his hand around my cheek, and I closed my eyes. Being near James was like nothing I’d ever experienced. It was more than attraction. It was magnetic and impossible to ignore. His touch was as thrilling as it was terrifying, and my instincts rocketed between pulling away and leaning in.

His hand opened wide and splayed against my jaw before he curved his fingers around the back of my neck. I pressed my legs together, overwhelmed with the sensation of him, and knotted my fists in my lap.

“Don’t be afraid of this—or of me,” he whispered. His breath was warm, and I shivered as it brushed my neck.

From somewhere through the haze of my jumbled thoughts, I heard gunfire, distant but calling, and my breath caught in my throat. I shook my head, and as difficult as it was, I detangled myself from his embrace.

He sighed and scrubbed his hands against the scruff on his cheeks before letting them fall to his lap.

“This isn’t about you.” I picked at a loose string hanging from my sleeve.

“Then what is it? Because when I’m around you—” His words fell away in frustrated silence, and all I could hear was that gunshot ringing in the night.

“Don’t make this into something it’s not. I don’t even know you.”

Even though I’d said them with as much kindness as I could, the words hurt to say. How could a disease control my thoughts—my desires? No wonder my mother didn’t want to live like this. I’d only experienced it a couple of days, and I was already adrift. Lost. Pulled in too many directions to be whole. Sickness swelled in my stomach, and anger boiled in my heart. I stood too fast, and the backs of my knees shoved my chair away.

“I have to go,” I said.

“You’re running.” I heard him call after me, but I was too upset to care that he was right.

Enter Amy’s Giveawaya Rafflecopter giveaway

About Drift: I’m not crazy. My mother may have died with everyone believing she was insane, but I refuse to accept that as my fate. Even if I am recalling memories about a life I never lived. A life that includes the mysterious James—a guy I’ve only just met, but feel as if I’ve known all my life. The memories are coming hard and fast, and I’m falling down a rabbit hole with consequences that far exceed anything I could have ever imagined. And now, someone is trying to kill me. Someone from my past who knows about my visions and is looking for something he believes I took from him. All I have to do is figure out how these memories relate to the present and maybe I’ll survive to live another day. Maybe…

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About Amy Murray:
Amy Murray graduated from the University of Houston with a B.S. in Psychology. She is a CrossFit addict, proud Harry Potter enthusiast, and obsessed with modern quilting. She and her family live in Cypress, Texas. 

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Review: The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process.

Review: I read The Girl with the Red Balloon two days ago and I am still suffering from a major book hangover. Katherine Locke has written a book dealing with a dark part of our history it was raw, gritty and a definite conversation starter, especially with everything that is going on right now.

The book had three points of views one from Ellie a Jewish American girl from our time, another was Kai a dark skinned Romani boy and an unexpected point of view from Benno a Jewish boy through whose eyes we see what it was like living in the Chelmno concentration camp and Łódź Ghetto. Even though I loved all three points of views Benno is the one who wrecked me, I mean how could it not, Locke did not shy away from any of the details, she didn't sugar coat anything for the readers and she brought us into his world and made us feel his suffering in the most necessary of ways possible. If anything pick up this book for Benno.

Kai and Ellie were such wonderful characters Ellie was strong and fragile and everything a girl would be who suddenly found herself in 1988 East Berlin. It took me a few chapters to really fall in love with Ellie but once she was thrust back in time her character had a lot of growth. Kai was just amazing he fled his home to protect his sister from people who were trying to harm her because of her magic, I loved everything about him once I got to really know him and yes there is romance and it was swoon-worthy as it can get. The romance between Kai and Ellie was beautiful and bittersweet and my heart is still trying to recover.

There is one character, in particular, I had to mention who did not have a point of view but I loved her just as much and that would be Mitzi, a blue haired gay girl who was kicked out of her home by her family because of who she chooses to love. Mitzi ran balloons for the balloon makers along with Kai helping people get across the wall. At first, I didn't know what to think of her, was she going to be jealous of Kai and Ellie's growing relationship since before her it was just Kai and her, was she ever going to warm up to Ellie? Am I going to dislike her because of all of that? Luckily all my concerns were laid to rest when Mitzi embraced Ellie as a dear friend of her own. I loved everything about Mitzi, she was loyal to Kai and Ellie and the three of them together were the perfect trio of friends. I don't think I will ever forget Mitzi's character.

This review wouldn't be complete if I don't talk about the red balloons and the people with magic running through them. There were quite a few balloon makers the ones behind the magic of balloons being able to transport people over the walls and obviously through time although the time travel portion did shock the magic community because that was never their objective which leads to the discovery that someone has their own agenda.

Overall The Girl with the Red Balloon was one of the most memorable books I've read all year and it should be a must buy for everyone when it is released, I plan on buying myself a hard copy so I can re-read it again and sticky tab all my favorite parts. The characters will live with me for a very long time and I can't wait to read the next book in the series, I am little sad to see it won't be a continuation of this story but rather a prequel set decades before the events in this book, nonetheless I am very excited for it. 

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