Blog Tour: Beyond the Black Door by A. M. Strickland

Some secrets weren’t meant to be discovered. Some doors not meant to be opened.

42642042. sy475 Beyond the Black Door
by A. M. Strickland

Kamai was warned never to open the black door, but she didn’t listen …

Everyone has a soul. Some are beautiful gardens, others are frightening dungeons. Soulwalkers―like Kamai and her mother―can journey into other people’s souls while they sleep.

But no matter where Kamai visits, she sees the black door. It follows her into every soul, and her mother has told her to never, ever open it.

When Kamai touches the door, it is warm and beating, like it has a pulse. When she puts her ear to it, she hears her own name whispered from the other side. And when tragedy strikes, Kamai does the unthinkable: she opens the door.

A.M. Strickland’s imaginative dark fantasy features court intrigue and romance, a main character coming to terms with her asexuality, and twists and turns as a seductive mystery unfolds that endangers not just Kamai’s own soul, but the entire kingdom … 

 
Thank you Imprint & The FFBC for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Beyond the Black Door | Series: N/A | Author: A. M. Strickland | Genre: FantasyYoung Adult | Publication Date: October 29, 2019 | Purchase Links: AmazonBook Depository

Trigger Warning: Attempted self-harm/suicide, birth control manipulation of a partner, emotionally abusive/manipulative romantic relationships, internalized acephobia, misgendering of a trans, physical violence

what is it about?

The story started with Kamai, and the rare ability that she inherited from her mother to explore the souls of other people while they’re asleep, commonly known as “soulwalking”. The soul of each person takes a different shape of houses, ranging from a cold, dark, small shack to a grand, vibrant, warm palace. Despite of these differences, one thing always remained the same when Kamai visited a soul. There was always a black door lurking on her as if it was a breathing and living creature. Although her mother keeps reminded her to not open the black door, after a life-changing incident, will Kamai be able to still resist the urge?

what do I think about it?

Don’t you just love it when you’re being able to read a story which exactly promised on its blurb, even better than what you’re expected in the first place? That’s exactly the case with this mesmerizing book of Strickland. Starting the book, I love how we are immediately thrown into the two main plots that built this story without getting overwhelmed about them. First, the magical yet dark concept of soulwalking, an ability that Kamai and her mother owned. I completely adore the explanation behind this concept and how it works. The reasoning behind why everyone has different soul houses called Nehym, the boundaries of what soulwalker can or can’t do when they’re exploring someone’s soul, and the description of how the souls should look like was incredibly vivid to me.
 
Second, the coming-of-age journey of Kamai ever since she was a child and how she tried to understand herself, and as she grew older, it evolved to an attempt to understand her sexuality. This second plot was extremely important and inclusive, and again, Strickland did a wonderful job at writing Kamai’s character arc and her struggles to fit in, especially by combining the mythology with gods based on the sun, the moon, and the earth as a metaphor to narrates the asexual spectrum. I truly appreciated this part of the book, especially since I’ve been trying to grasp the actual concept of asexuality and not just I’ve learn a lot from it, but I also managed to peek at Kamai’s feelings and study her internal monologues.

But while Razim seemed unenthusiastic about the particular people at hand, I was uninterested in… any of it. With anyone.

And while we’re still talking about the matter of representation within this book, how could I not mention Nikha? Her struggle as a female warrior described painfully real, but one moment that really stung my heart was when she finally came out as a gender that she always felt at heart, not a gender that she physically lived in. She reminded me of Brienne of Tarth from Game of Thrones ever since her first appearance in this story, both physical-wise and attitude-wise.

She didn’t want to be treated better. She wanted everyine to be treated the same.

The other major plot that started to rise in once Kamai grew older, is how she fell into a romantic relationship. Not just any romantic relationship, but a manipulative one. I personally found the addition of the gray character in this story as Kamai’s partner and also a villain to be gripping. I kept guessing whether to trust this gray character or not as if I was there following Kamai’s journey for real. Obviously, this isn’t a light issue, and therefore, I appreciated the warnings that the author facilitated for her readers, and might I quoted her, “If this strikes you as too much, I understand; it’s not going to be for everyone. […] So, despite all the content warnings, I hope the book helps, not hurts—or at least entertains!—but first and foremost, please take care of yourselves.” proving her deep concern regarding the mental state of her readers.
 
Beyond the Black Door is an evocative dark fantasy mix with a gripping mystery. The diversified characters, inclusive representation, and twisted plot will leave you craving for more.

what’s the verdict?

about the author

 
AdriAnne Strickland was a bibliophile who wanted to be an author before she knew what either of those words meant. She shares a home base in Alaska with her husband, her pugs, and her piles and piles of books. She loves traveling, dancing, vests, tattoos, and every shade of teal in existence, but especially the darker ones. She is the coauthor of SHADOW RUN and SHADOW CALL (Delacorte/Penguin Random House) and author of the forthcoming BEYOND THE BLACK DOOR (Imprint/Macmillan).

what did others say about this book?

  • Ashley @ Part Time Book Nerd said: “I knew vaguely what ace was going into this but the detail and how well it was explained made the book an amazing learning experience for anyone (including myself) who is not totally familiar with the term. We learn alongside Kamai on her self discovery and acceptance journey.”
  • Justin, Nikole, and Stacy @ A Court of Coffee and Books said: “Beyond the Black Door has an atmosphere that’s captivating yet peppered with darkness and mystery, and that’s what truly drove this story home for me.”
  • Tay & Missy @ Frayed Books said: ” The world-building was so fantastic and it didn’t feel like there were any strings left untouched. I appreciated that because it appears to be a standalone but I could totally see more books in this world!”

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Blog Tour: The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah

Fear has immobilized us. And it might be turning us into monsters.

DEBUT DISTRICT is a regular feature on Artsy Draft in which I post appreciation towards debut releases through author interview, book blitz, listopia, review, and other related content.

Hi everyone! I’m so excited today to post my review for the blog tour of The Light at the Bottom of the World! I was lucky enough to be chosen as the part of the street team to celebrate the release of this incredible debut from London Shah. Be sure to check out the full schedule of this tour at the bottom of this post and feel free to visit everyone’s posts!

43885674The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah

Hope had abandoned them to the wrath of all the waters.

At the end of the twenty-first century, the world has changed dramatically, but life continues one thousand feet below the ocean’s surface. In Great Britain, sea creatures swim among the ruins of Big Ben and the Tower of London, and citizens waver between fear and hope; fear of what lurks in the abyss, and hope that humanity will soon discover a way to reclaim the Earth.

Meanwhile, sixteen-year-old Leyla McQueen has her own problems to deal with. Her father’s been arrested, accused of taking advantage of victims of the Seasickness-a debilitating malaise that consumes people,often claiming their lives. But Leyla knows he’s innocent, and all she’s interested in is getting him back so that their lives can return to normal.

When she’s picked to race in the action-packed London Submersible Marathon, Leyla gets the chance to secure his freedom; the Prime Minister promises the champion whatever their heart desires. The race takes an unexpected turn, though, and presents her with an opportunity she never wanted: Leyla must venture outside of London for the first time in her life, to find and rescue her father herself.

Now, she’ll have to brave the unfathomable waters and defy a corrupt government determined to keep its secrets, all the while dealing with a secretive, hotheaded companion she never asked for in the first place. If she fails, or falls prey to her own fears, she risks capture–and her father might be lost forever.

 
Thank you to the author for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Title: The Light at the Bottom of the World | Series: The Light at the Bottom of the World #1 | Author: London Shah | Genre: FantasyScience FictionYoung Adult | Publication Date: October 29, 2019 | Purchase Links: AmazonBook Depository

Trigger Warning: Abduction, claustrophobia, violence.

what is it about?

Set in the post-apocalyptic underwater London, The Light at the Bottom of the World follows the story of Leyla McQueen, sixteen years old British/Afghan Muslim racer who was seeking for the truth about his falsely charged father by the government. With the belief that her father was innocent, she joined an annual marathon event to win the first place and trade her winning with freedom for her father. Unfortunately, with the continuous attacks from genetically modified humans, corrupted government, political intrigues, and only a little to almost no clue about the truth, Leyla must risk everything if she wants to reunite with her beloved father again.

what do I think about it?

The first impression that came into my mind when I started reading this book is Shah’s eloquent and grace for building, describing and developing this daunting future of London after the world got hit by an asteroid. So, we might as well start the review from that aspect. I wouldn’t be the one to criticize much about the writing in this book. It was cinematic and incredibly vivid. Although I was having difficulty to percept a few things, especially all about the technical bits from the buildings that people used as their home, to the subs that they used to transport underwater, I’d say that it’s a personal issue of mine due to the case of unfamiliarity. Other than that, I was having an exceptional time, exploring the underwater London and its long-gone monumental buildings with exciting creatures swam in between it.
 
Shah captured the perfect balance of portraying the vast ocean as something that — of course, mesmerizing — but also frightening. I personally share a common phobia with Leyla, the fear of the deep, unknown water. The terror of not knowing what’s lurking inside the ocean will always make me anxious. But, lucky me to be living in the land. Well, not so lucky Leyla to be living exactly within her own fear.
 
Now, moving on to the characters and their quest in this story. Leyla was definitely a young, naive teen, yet it was the reason why I’d find her characterization as highly relatable. She was your typical stubborn heroine who loved too much, and for that, willing to risk just about everything for her love. In this case, her falsely charged father. She was also incredibly brave for her age, although some might perceived her courageous acts as being careless. But, I’d say that it wasn’t the correct term for her case. Can you imagine to be living deep underwater, when you’re not supposed to as a human, as a sixteen years old girl who lost her father for a vague reason that not even the minister can answer it for you? I’d for sure lost my mind.
 
The other things that I enjoyed from this book come from various aspects, from the fun fact that Leyla had a pet named Jojo, a goofy white fur ball who’s too cute to be living in the deep, dark ocean, the mysterious Ari aka Leyla’s companion during her quest of finding the truth, to Leyla’s freshly installed housemaid/navigator in the form of holographic Osca Wilde which seems to be even more confident than me!
 
The Light at the Bottom of the World is a story of hope and unrequited love, twisted within truths. If you’re craving for an original underwater dystopian universe that meets corrupted politics, then you don’t want to miss this terrific debut.

what’s the verdict?

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what did others say about this book?

  • Ashley @ Cromulent Book Review said: “I love this – it would be easy for a YA protagonist to become cynical and bitter (adolescents, am I right?) but Leyla perseveres, despite her fears.”
  • Nadia @ Headscarves and Hardbacks said: “Shah’s writing is captivating in a way that allows the reader to fully submerge themselves in a unique underwater world and be swept away by the characters and the story.”
  • Olivia @ One Mused said: “The world-building here is top notch, and I really felt like I could imagine this future and the people in it.”

tour schedule

October 20th – Utopia State of Mind
October 21st – Tomes and Textiles
October 22nd – Reader Voracious
October 23rd – Hollibrary Books
October 24th – Julia Fleur
October 25th – YA Book Corner
October 26th – Headscarves and Hardbacks
October 27th – Artsy Draft (It’s me!)
October 28th – The Tsundoku Chronicles

Are you thinking about adding The Light at the Bottom f the World into your next reading list?

Blog Tour: The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco + Wallpapers

A demon is what they call a goddess that men cannot control.

Frozen meets Mad Max in this epic teen fantasy duology bursting with star-crossed romance, immortal heroines, and elemental magic, perfect for fans of Furyborn.

Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon. But seventeen years ago, one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy and split their world in two. The planet ceased to spin, and a Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in perpetual night, the other scorched by an unrelenting sun.

While one sister rules Aranth—a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wracked sea —her twin inhabits the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter, and each keeps her own secrets about her sister’s betrayal.

But when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee, back to the site of the Breaking, the two young goddesses —along with a powerful healer from Aranth, and a mouthy desert scavenger —set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.

 
Thank you Caffeine Book Tours for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review. The Never Tilting World was published on October 15, 2019 and available on Amazon, Book Depository, and other book retailers.

what is it about?

The Never Tilting World follows the story sets up in the land of Aeon, seventeen years after an incident between the goddesses who caused the world to stop spinning and leave two separated realms as the result. The one is Aranth, cloaked in endless nights and stormy sea, while the other is Golden City, scorched by the unrelenting sun and burning desert. Odessa, the daughter of Asteria who ruled Aranth, suffered from a mysterious disease yet firmly believed that her power is coming and she could save the dying world. Accompanied and guarded by Tianlan, a healer/warrior who suffered from PTSD after surviving her previous mission, they both headed o the Great Abyss. On the other side of the world, Haidee, the daughter of Latona who ruled Golden City, interested in everything mechanic-related, crossed her path with Arjun, a nomad amputee, and they also both headed to the site of the Breaking.

what do I think about it?

The premise sounds a bit controversial in my opinion, but I couldn’t help but wonder what could I expect from a story that pitched as Frozen meets Mad Max? Although I feel decent about Frozen (yet you might find me humming Let It Go on random moments), I’m a massive fan of Mad Max and its terrifying world. And I’m glad to tell you that the universe of Aeon that Chupeco brings into papers, is very much a resemblance to those two contrast universes.

The elders would tell us how the Sun Goddess Latona had ripped the sky in two and feasted on her twin sister’s heart, dooming us to a lifetime of wasteland because she could not stop craving the light. We were born hating them. We had every reason to.

Dare I say that I just want to stan Chupeco for delivered such an original universe full of extraordinary beings and creatures that I could never imagine before. Although I was completely blown away by both of the realms in Aeon and I could sense all of the intriguing details that Chupeco tried to bring in this remarkable world, I often caught off guard by the inconsistency of the plot, resulting in unbalanced narratives. One scene might be full of action, people’s lives are at stakes, and monsters are roaming around, but it ended abruptly and a bit too easily. I was craving for more explanation especially during these particular moments, yet it couldn’t be fulfilled and it brushed off onto the next scene. Meanwhile, there were a lot of side stories that—yes, it was quite interesting—but they were overly explained and this led me into boredom.

People don’t think much about the truth when the lies sound more interesting.

However, I truly enjoyed all of the characters featured in this story. The dynamics between Odessa x Lan and Haidee x Arjun are entertaining and fun to follow. Although I’m leaning more towards Haidee and Arjun just because I’m always a fan of snarky commentaries and witty banters (and enemy to lover, obviously), the evolving relationship between Odessa and Lan was also charming in its own way. I wish that the story also emphasized other characters more, especially Asteria and Latona, as I couldn’t help but keep wondering about the history between the two. At last, I’m quite sure that there will be more answers and revelation regarding the history of the universe itself, the goddesses, and the twins on the sequel. And also, I couldn’t end this review without giving Chupeco an appreciation for bringing such diversity of the disabled, the mentally ill (PTSD), and the queer (f/f romance) in this fantasy tale. I couldn’t speak much about the representation as I’m not a part of any groups that mentioned previously, but I salute Chupeco for  putting them all as the leads in her story!

what’s the verdict?


about the author

Rin ChupecoRin Chupeco has written obscure manuals for complicated computer programs, talked people out of their money at event shows, and done many other terrible things. She now writes about ghosts and fantastic worlds but is still sometimes mistaken for a revenant. She is the author of The Girl from the Well, its sequel, The Suffering, and the Bone Witch trilogy.
 
Despite an unsettling resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin always maintains her sense of hummus. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. Dances like the neighbors are watching.
 
 

Author website | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter


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Blog Tour: Fireborne by Rosaria Munda

And as she turned, it was revealed by her tread that she was fireborne.

Game of Thrones meets Red Rising in a debut young adult fantasy that’s full of rivalry, romance… and dragons.

Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution changed their world, giving everyone—even the lowborn—a chance to test into the governing class of dragonriders.

Now they are both rising stars in the new regime, despite backgrounds that couldn’t be more different. Annie’s lowborn family was executed by dragonfire, while Lee’s aristocratic family was murdered by revolutionaries. Growing up in the same orphanage forged their friendship, and seven years of training have made them rivals for the top position in the dragonriding fleet.

But everything changes when survivors from the old regime surface, bent on reclaiming the city.

With war on the horizon and his relationship with Annie changing fast, Lee must choose to kill the only family he has left or to betray everything he’s come to believe in. And Annie must decide whether to protect the boy she loves . . . or step up to be the champion her city needs.

From debut author Rosaria Munda comes a gripping adventure that calls into question which matters most: the family you were born into, or the one you’ve chosen.
 
 
Thank you The FFBC for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review. Fireborne will be published on October 15, 2019 and available on Amazon, Book Depository, and other book retailers.

what is it about?

Fireborne follows the story of Lee and Annie, two childhood friends who grew up together and their journey during the new regime in Callipolis. Although both of them were from the same orphanage and shared common goals when they were younger, the differences in their family backgrounds were too big to fill in the gap that started to arise as they grew older. Fueled by personal ambitions, fierce competitions, twisted lies, political intrigues, and emerging wars, Lee and Annie must choose between the family that they were born into or the one that they found along the way.

what do I think about it?

Hands down, Fireborne is one of the most solid debuts that I read this year. I’ve been discovering a lot of good books lately, but this one is truly a gem. I’m also incredibly excited since I buddy read this book with Shealea @ Shut Up, Shealea and we had a great time discussing and swooning over it! Today’s review is going to be a bit different than my usual format because there are a lot of areas that I want to cover and talk about without causing any confusion, in case you haven’t got a chance to devour into this epic universe yet.
 
➤ Let’s start with how this book pitched as Aegon Targaryen and Hermione Granger with dragons. I don’t think if there’s any precise statement to explain this book aside from this one. If you’re intrigued to read this book after looking at that bold statement, let me convince you why you should continue your intention. The resemblance of Aegon Targaryen on Lee comes from Lee’s bloodline as the aristocratic family, commonly known as Dragonlords during the old regime. In this regime, Dragonlords are highborn in society and they had the birthright to ride dragons. After his family was murdered by revolutionaries and the regime changed, Lee joined the training to prove his worth to ride the dragons, but oftentimes, he still pondered whether he must compete for a title that should be his birthright. There are more resemblance of Aegon on Lee when the story got deeper, but I can’t really mention it without dropping spoilers! Meanwhile, the resemblance of Hermione Granger on Annie comes from Annie’s intelligence, hard works, and determination. Although she often got underestimated by her fellow classmates, even her teachers (it’s basically how Snape taking points from Gryffindor every time Hermione answered his questions in class!), for being a lowborn (um, Mudblood?!), she continuously improved herself to achieve her goals. #HustleHard

Because Firstrider is a title I’ve wanted since before the Revolution. It would be all the recognition, power, and respect that my family lost over the course of a single bloody month when I was eight years old, regained.

But maybe, you don’t care about Aegon or Hermione. Maybe, you’re just fond of the dragons. That’s alright, too. Because if you do, Fireborne is the story set in a dragon land that you don’t want to miss. The dragons featured heavily in this story and I can assure you that you’ll enjoy every single second of it. My favorite part is the fact that the dragons weren’t just appeared for the sake of ‘coolness’ for being a dragon, but rather how it was blended so naturally with the characters, the plot, and the overall worldbuilding. We got a glimpse of the existence of dragons during the old regime through the characters’ throwback, a glimpse of how they choose their rider (much like how the wands choose the wizard!) through their first encounter, and a glimpse of how they become emotionally connected with their riders through the competition to become the Firstrider, 

“Now tell me again why you want to make Firstrider?”
“Because I’d be good at it.”

➤ And lastly, character-wise, plot-wise, and writing-wise, Fireborne is truly a masterpiece. I couldn’t find anything that I dislike about this book. I enjoyed every scene that was delivered, every intrigue and secret that was revealed, and every character that was involved. There’s no wasted potential in this debut. The complicated relationship between Lee and Annie was delivered beautifully. It was a slow-burn romance that I’m longing to read. The convoluted political intrigue which was the major plot in this story was extremely well-built, as they were no rights or wrongs because everyone has their own motives and reasons to be avenged. And Munda delivered all of these gracefully through her dazzling writings. This entire book is an absolute golden, but I always enjoyed the quotation that the characters took from the fictional literature in this story, which also the title of this series, The Aurelian Cycle. These proses give me chills and I wish I could read the book itself (especially now that it is banned in Callipolis!).

Bring what fury you have and I will answer it with ours.

The bottom line, Fireborne is an epic fantasy that you don’t want to miss. It’s an incredible first of the series that will leave you craving for more dragon duel, political secrets, and swoon-worthy romance.

what’s the verdict?


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Blog Tour: Resurrection Girls by Ava Morgyn

I was death’s sister.
She was murderer’s daughter.

Olivia Foster hasn’t felt alive since her little brother drowned in the backyard pool three years ago. Then Kara Hallas moves in across the street with her mother and grandmother, and Olivia is immediately drawn to these three generations of women. Kara is particularly intoxicating, so much so that Olivia not only comes to accept Kara’s morbid habit of writing to men on death row, she helps her do it. They sign their letters as the Resurrection Girls.

But as Kara’s friendship pulls Olivia out of the dark fog she’s been living in, Olivia realizes that a different kind of darkness taints the otherwise lively Hallas women—an impulse that is strange, magical, and possibly deadly.
 
 
Thank you YA Bound Book Tours for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review. Resurrection Girls was published on October 1, 2019 and available on Amazon, Book Depository, and other book retailers.

what is it about?

Resurrection Girls started three years after Olivia Foster’s little brother, Robby, drowned in the pool in their backyard. Broken and crushed, her mother was consuming pills to escape the grief and her father wasn’t around that much, arriving home during late hours and avoiding conversation or any sort of social interaction with the remains of his family. When three generations of women moving into a house across the street, Olivia didn’t realize that her lonesome journey will take turns. The Hallas women are intoxicating and mysterious, and soon Olivia made friends with Kara, who’s full of confidence, odd, and seems to know a lot about Olivia ever since their very first encounter.

what do I think about it?

The first thing that strikes my mind about this book is that it was far from what I was expected. Looking at the cover, reading the synopsis, checking the genres’ list, I was expecting this book will be heavier on the fantasy, magical, and witchy elements. But in reality, this is a story of grieving, losing your loved ones, dealing with unavoidable emptiness, and healing. Although I’m not complaning, because Morgyn did an awesome job for delivering this story with her haunting and poetic narratives.
 
I had a great time with this book, especially diving in its odd plot and exploring its quirky characters. The originality of Resurrection Girls was outstanding and it was bizarre when I first read about Olivia and Kara’s correspondences with the prisoned criminals, but it was so bizarre that it actually attracted me to keep reading. Their friendship also dynamic and always interesting to be followed, as I keep wondering what’s the next thing that they were gonna do after I finished each chapter.
 
Unfortunately, there were other things that prevent me from having that extraordinary, one of a kind reading experience. The inconsistentency of the plot was my first issue, and I’ve been thinking about it since the earlier chapters, especially because things are slow during those earlier chapters and I didn’t feel that many of those scenes contributed big impact on the bigger picture of the story, yet it took a fast route every since Olivia met Kara. I also couldn’t fully engaged and resonated with the rest of Olivia’s family. And I had so many questions that bugging me throughout the story, especially towards the Hallas. What’s their history? How exactly are their “magic” works? Are they naturally born with their charms to manipulate people or is it a work of magic? Why there were no men in their family tree? Where was Kara’s father? Why was Kara grow an interest to penpal prisoned criminals? I wish there’d be more explanation about all of these since the Hallas was the reason why this story happening in the first place.
 
Overall, Resurrection Girls is a poignant debut that explores loss, grieving, and healing with such graceful way. The little incorporation of magical realism in this contemporary might be a hit or a miss, which all depends on your reading preference.

what’s the verdict?

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