REVIEW: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

The Daevabad Trilogy Book One; Young Adult

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♦BLURB♦

Step into The City of Brass, the spellbinding debut from S. A. Chakraborty—an imaginative alchemy of The Golem and the Jinni, The Grace of Kings, and Uprooted, in which the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom rests in the hands of a clever and defiant young con artist with miraculous healing gifts.

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of eighteenth-century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trades she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles and a reliable way to survive.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to question all she believes. For the warrior tells her an extraordinary tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling birds of prey are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass—a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In Daevabad, within gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say to be careful what you wish for . . .

 

♦4-STAR REVIEW♦

Rich and intricately plotted, The City of Brass was a fantastical journey into the world of djinn and magic. Filled with political intrigue and mounting tensions, the story followed Nahri in her quest to find her people upon learning she’s the last of her kind. With the help of a revered warrior, they travel across many lands to reach Daevabad, escaping death on the way, only to find out too late that this city of brass is far from safe for a girl of her kind.

Told in multiple perspectives, allowing a rare insight into both sides of the story, Chakraborty accomplished a slow, steady escalation of the story to its climax. Both lead and supporting characters were starkly vivid and necessary to the drive of the plot, each with difference purposes and endpoints. As the first in a trilogy, it was a densely-packed tale and won’t be a quick read, but it managed to have me craving the next page even during slower moments. Nahri’s journey throughout the story was tumultuous at best, but true to a young woman’s stubbornness and independence when thrown into this situation. Her struggle for identity forced her to split herself into two halves; one that couldn’t release her old self and one that tried desperately to fit in to an ill-fitting version of what was expected of her, and it was all too easy to see the two sides clash as the story developed. Though the romance is small and uncertain, I expect there to be more to come as I don’t believe this is a core focus at this point, but it leaves me very curious for where the author plans to take it. Even as full of a story as this was, there are still many questions to answer and plenty more story to tell.

The City of Brass had a distinct direction that will leave the reader craving more. Chakraborty easily kept the objective of each character’s path up in the air and there was an anxiousness felt upon turning the last page. A strong female lead, playing a political game and coming into her power, felt refreshing and altogether captivating. The only unfortunate thing is the expected wait for more of the story, but I’ll gladly accept it when I’m this curious to see where it’ll go.

 

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

Originally (and proudly!) from New Jersey, S. A. currently resides in Queens with her husband and daughter. When not buried in books about Mughal portraiture and Omani history, she enjoys hiking, knitting, and recreating unnecessarily complicated, medieval meals for her family. You can find her online most frequently at Twitter where she likes to ramble about history, politics, and Islamic art.

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OUT IN PAPERBACK & NEW COVER: Three Wishes by Kristen Ashley

I adore this new cover! Three Wishes is now available in paperback for the first time! This heartwarming and epic love story from New York Times bestselling author, Kristen Ashley, returns with an amazing new cover! And that’s not all! It is also being re-released in eBook (for $2.99) form with beautiful, new formatting! So make a wish, grab your copy, and prepare to fall in love all over again!

Standalone

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♦BLURB♦

When Lily Jacobs was born, she inherited Fazire – a genie. Her family had three wishes and they’d only ever used one so Fazire was stuck in the human world. This worked since he’d become a member of the family anyway.

Even with a genie, Lily’s young life wasn’t perfect. To escape the kids making her miserable at school, Lily buried herself in romance novels. One day, when the teasing was just too much, she used one of her wishes. She told Fazire she wanted to find a man like in her books and she made the most complicated wish Fazire had ever heard. Her wished-for man had to be impossibly handsome, virile, fierce, rugged and ruthless (amongst a dozen other things).

He also had to think she was beautiful and he had to love her more than anything in the world.

Nathaniel McAllister wasn’t born to a life where there were such things as genies granting wishes. His life was filled with drugs, crime and neglect. He was running errands for a gangster before he was in his teens and, even though life and hard work led him to wealth and respectability, he always knew, deep down, he was dirty. When Nate met Lily he knew he was no good for her but as virile, fierce, rugged and ruthless as he was, Nate was no match for the pull of sweet, innocent Lily.

Unfortunately, Lily’s wish included that she and her hero go through trials and tribulations to test their love. And Fazire wasn’t only a good genie, he loved Lily – so he gave her exactly what she wanted.

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♦EXCERPT♦

Nate didn’t know what he wanted but whatever it was, it certainly was not Georgia.

He was saved from answering Victor when he spied a youth wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, the hood worn up even though it was a warm day. The boy was slouching down the pavement, head bowed, hands in the front pocket of the sweatshirt, his head swinging this way and that, looking for his mark.

Nate’s guard, already on alert—always on alert—went into overdrive.

Nate’s eyes narrowed as he watched the youth, and Victor started to get into the Rolls. Then, as expected, the boy darted toward his target and Nate heard a woman’s outraged cry.

“Hey!” she yelled.

He watched the boy snatch the woman’s purse, his body tensing for action.

And then his eyes moved to the woman and uncharacteristically, he froze.

“Hey! He stole my purse! Stop him! He stole my purse!” she shouted.

Nate vaguely registered she was an American tourist. Nate also absently noticed that no one moved to assist.

In that brief moment in time, Nate was too busy drinking in the vision that was her, he himself didn’t move a muscle.

She was tall, incredibly tall.

And curvy, delectably curvy.

She had the most unusual colored hair. Hair that he knew from vast experience living in a house with Laura and Danielle for years came through a supremely talented and expensive stylist’s hands.

And she had an exquisite face, flawless skin and a bearing that was extraordinary. She had been given a wide berth around her even on the crowded pavement. Not because she was screaming her head off but instead because she was majestic, radiant, elegant…

Untouchable.

In a stupor from simply looking at her, the boy with her purse charged right by Nate.

Not in a stupor, she realized no one was going to help her, gave up screaming and charged right after the boy.

At the noise, Victor turned away from the car and Nate shifted to watch in astonishment as she deftly and agilely dodged the crowd, her long legs a match for the short boy. Then Nate watched in stunned surprise as she jumped onto the thief’s back with a graceful leap.

Everyone stared in shock but no one lifted a finger except a few started to take photographs.

“Give me back my purse, you thug!” she shouted.

Wrapping her long legs around her prey, one arm around his neck, she slapped him around the head with the other hand.

The thief staggered back then he staggered with intent and slammed her against the side of the building. Her head snapped back and cracked against the stone so loudly Nate could hear it from where he stood twenty paces away.

At the sound Nate jerked out of his stupor and forged forward.

 

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

KristenAshley

I was born a middle class white child in Gary, Indiana, USA. One of the last of a dying breed. I nearly killed my mother and myself making it into the world, seeing as I had the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck (already attempting to accessorize and I hadn’t taken my first breath!). Mom says they took me away, put her back in her room, she looked out the window, and Gary was on fire (Dr. King had been assassinated four days before). She remembered thinking it was the end of the world. Quite the dramatic beginning.

Nothing’s changed.

All I’ve ever wanted to do was write (well, and be the Queen of the World, but you gotta start small) and I’ve published a gazillion books and counting (and a gazillion is a lot! shoo!).You can learn about my titles that have been released or that are soon to be released in the Titles section of the website.

Even though I jump genres, there is always a theme to my books…humor (hopefully), engaging characters (again, hopefully) and romance (definitely).

My loves are movies, music, food and fashion and I partake of all of them as often as I can (the middle two more than the others, the former, which takes time I don’t often have and the latter, which takes money I rarely have). In fact, I love food so much, I like to share my good fortune so I put my recipes on offer for you on this page (see top menu and don’t miss them, they’re awesome!).

I grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana and have lived in Denver, Colorado and the West Country of England. Thus I’m blessed to have friends and family around the globe. My family was (is) loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write and growing up it was large and multi-generational. We all lived together on a very small farm in a small farm town in the heartland. I grew up with Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched). Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music, clothes and love was a good way to grow up.

And as I keep growing up, it keeps getting better.

So here I am, thank goodness.

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NEW RELEASE & REVIEW: Saved By Darkness by Katie Reus

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21 - Saved by Darkness

Darkness Book Six; Interconnected Standalone

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He thought he lost her decades ago.

Half-demon, half-dragon shifter Ian McCabe is hellbent on getting back the only woman he’s ever loved. When Fiona O’Riley kicked him out of her life decades ago, he thought she was gone for good. Now that she’s back, nothing will stop him from claiming her. But she wants nothing to do with him—or his family.

She’ll do anything to save him.

Fiona knows that Ian is the only male for her. The only way to keep him alive is to stay away from him. But when tragedy strikes and they discover a wicked agenda for the mass murder of humans, they must work together to take down the enemies that threaten everyone. But there’s so much more on the line. As their undeniable desire intensifies, they’re faced with an unbearable choice. If Fiona and Ian succumb to their temptation, mating could be the last thing they ever do.

 

♦3.5-STAR REVIEW♦

A second-chance romance of a decades lost romance between two characters who fought the internal battle for 50 years are brought back together in Saved By Darkness to fight a battle with evil to save the human race. Filled with tension, sexiness, and a touch of suspense, this novel was both fun and engaging to read. As a fan of dragon shifter romances, I loved how Katie wrote their kind and how she told the love story of Ian and Fiona.

Set in third person, the tale was told with just the right amount of flashbacks to give us the true backstory to these characters and set the tension for how they interacted in the present. That tension carried throughout the novel, allowing the tone to feel both juiced with sexual awareness and emotional vulnerability. What kept me from fully loving this novel is the third person viewpoint. It led to a lot of details being overly repeated and less dialogue, which, in my opinion, makes a paranormal romance snag in the pace department. I loved Ian’s alpha and how Fiona matched it with her own alpha–it built both characters to be strong and independent, but also gave them an intense weakness for one another. I really enjoyed Saved By Darkness and felt it was a great addition to the series.

 

♦SERIES♦

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

Katie Reus is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Red Stone Security series, the Moon Shifter series and the Deadly Ops series. She fell in love with romance at a young age thanks to books she pilfered from her mom’s stash. Years later she loves reading romance almost as much as she loves writing it. However, she didn’t always know she wanted to be a writer. After changing majors many times, she finally graduated with a degree in psychology. Not long after that she discovered a new love. Writing. She now spends her days writing dark paranormal romance and sexy romantic suspense.

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RELEASE BLAST & REVIEW: Dark Surrender by Rachel Van Dyken

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dark-surrender

The Dark Ones Saga Book Three; Standalone

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♦BLURB♦

Never met a male siren before?
You’re about to….

I grew up as a prince…
And lead the life of a King.
There isn’t anyone or anything that doesn’t want me, that isn’t attracted to me. They can’t help it. And I sure as hell don’t want them to. I live for their lust, I crave touch like an addiction, I make them beg on their knees for one, simple, caress.
As a male siren it’s my job to feed off emotion.
And I was happy to do it.
I am happy to do it.
What I’m not happy about? Being told I have to mate with some withering human and stay loyal to that one person for the next few centuries. There’s a war coming and being the idiot I am–I offered to take one for the team in order to help a friend.
Now my sexual appetite is taking a freaking kick in the nuts.
And I’m left wondering if it’s worth it.
If she’s worth it, with messy hair and dirty human hands.
But I have a world to save.
A job to do.
Now, if only, she would just let me do it rather than fighting me at every turn. I’ve lived lifetimes as the most irresistible being on the planet.
Only to meet my match.
With one.
Measly.
Human.
They say hells hot. They’re wrong.
Because Hope, my little human, is way hotter.
And before this is over–she may just singe me alive.

 

♦3.5-REVIEW♦

DARK SURRENDER gives us the Siren’s story. Alex, the ever-present sexual being whose shield of sex has served him well, has always felt like the guy who makes jokes to deflect from himself, to make sure no one can truly see him or get too close. And finally learning his back story gave us some much needed insight into why he is that way.

I love the general story arc that has progressed from the first book and continues in its own unique way through each individual book. The war is continually getting closer, but each book has it’s own battle to be fought, and the battle in this one centered around Alex’s inner demons. And they flared to life with the presence of Hope, the human woman he must mate with. She became a beacon with her flare for inner strength and a calming elixir to ease the wounded. She’s the point at which the past and present collide, and I loved where RVD took this tale. There was such beauty in how Hope and Alex came to be and what they meant for one another.

Alex may’ve been the most emotionally unstable of all of the immortals, his inner demons most palpable, and I felt him from the very first book. I yearned to feel something beneath the surface for this character, for the last of his kind, in this book. And I never quite felt it. His surface was barely scratched and there was a lack of depth to him when a man like him should have so many layers. That disconnected me from him throughout the story, and the only reason I remained connected to them was because of Hope. She filled the gaps. Their story rushed from beginning to end and if it had slowed, just a bit, I think RVD could’ve really delved into him and gave more of him to us. I wanted that–Alex had more to him than what was given.

Aside from the lack of depth of his characterization, I still enjoyed the story. I so very much enjoy this immortal family and the world that RVD has created. It melds together so well and leads us on a suspenseful journey with each individual character while still keeping all of them on one path together. The back story and the love story between Alex and Hope was clever and beautiful. And I’m so very excited to get the next puzzle piece in the story.

 

♦EXCERPT♦

To say I was pissed.

To say I was angry

To say I was intrigued.

I couldn’t decide which emotion was going to win out, which made her all the more exciting. Sirens, for the most part, kept their physical appearance at a five. On a scale of one to ten, a five meant that you were clearly above average but not to the point that a person would literally sell a kidney and spleen in order to sleep with you.

No, the selling of body parts came at six.

Seven meant they were willing to commit a crime and sell body parts.

Eight was when they neared the wailing stage. I typically called it bartering, where they asked what they could possibly do in order to gain just one taste, anything, anything at all!

Nine was a rarity. I was a nine when I was tired, when I wanted a piece of ass from someone hot, and I didn’t want to make a big fuss over it. But a nine was dangerous because showing myself at a nine made it easier to wipe the individuals’ memories. Meaning I was more than likely cursing them to a life where they would never settle down because they’d be stuck comparing me to some sad human male with a beer gut, and he’d always fall short.

Even the Toms fell short.

Tom Brady.

Tom Hardy.

You get the picture.

In my entire existence, I’ve pulled a nine maybe four times. And each time I felt regretful — after all the sex had never been worthy of ruining some pathetic human’s chance at love.

And tens?

Tens weren’t done. To become a ten in front of a human would be the equivalent of a human discovering the sweetest tasting sin, the most physical and emotional ecstasy known over and over again. Add that in with good looks that made women, men, plants, atoms — you get the picture — full-on weep, and it just wasn’t done.

Never.

In fact, some might say it was forbidden.

I’d never been tempted.

Until five minutes ago.

I was currently at an eight, flirting with a ten, and she’d finally succumbed enough to fall to her knees, but when she glanced up, she blinked a few times then stood. “Sorry, I don’t know what happened.”

The hell?

I did a double take, my eyes narrowing as she shuddered before me, but still, nothing. No weeping. No sudden burst of adoration.

Nine, here I come.

I exhaled as I allowed my hair to go pure gold and my eyes to turn a shade of amber that looked like a never-ending ring of fire around my blue iris. I released waves of energy that I could see pulsing from my body with each exhale, and I was aware that she was being assaulted with my scent, a mixture of rain, fresh air, and finally a deep sweet chocolate.

The most addicting scents known to mankind.

The most cleansing scents to a human.

Her eyes widened as she gulped and then squeezed them shut and covered her face with her hands, her knees knocked together as she swayed.

“Open your eyes, human!”

“I-I’d rather not,” she said in a weak voice.

“Now!” The walls of the room shook causing a shriek to explode between her lips, and suddenly she was moving towards me and launching her plump body into the air.

Directly onto mine.

Mine.

My body.

Without any other option, I braced myself for her impact. Not that she could physically harm me, it was more of a mental brace of, oh shit the woman might be plump, but she moved with the speed of a torpedo.

I caught her in my arms.

The shaking stopped.

Her hands clung to the front of my shirt, her breathing was unsteady, her body sweaty, hot, and curvy.

I appreciated all types of beauty.

Even hers.

I would have preferred a small mate, one that I could terrify into submission — one I had no risk of falling in love with.

Because a siren in love — was a dangerous thing.

And a part of me wondered if that was what Cassius had planned all along. In order for me to be at my strongest, I needed to be in love.

Something I’d never experienced in all of my years of living, screwing, and toying with males and females alike.

“What.” I gave her a menacing glare. “The hell, do you think you’re doing?”

“I’m scared of earthquakes,” she whispered, licking her lips repeatedly until I thought I was going to go mad with the motion of her tongue sliding across the pink of her mouth. “Terrified, actually.”

“This is Seattle.” I was still holding her, for reasons beyond my realm of understanding.

“They say the next earthquake is going to be really big and half of downtown is going to slide into the Puget Sound, so excuse me for being scared!”

“And you live downtown?”

“Well… no.” Her brown eyes focused in on mine.

“Then you must visit there often?”

“No.”

I sighed impatiently. “So your fears are completely unfounded and illogical. Simply stop fearing it.”

“Easy for you to say.”

“I tire of holding you, human.” The lie fell easy; in fact, I had forgotten I was holding her until she fidgeted in my arms like she was the offended party, when I was the one who had just been assaulted. “The only thing you need to fear is me.”

“Because you…” She sighed. “You’re going to sacrifice me?”

I tried to hold the laugh in.

But it was all too ridiculous.

“Yes.” I nodded seriously, my lips twitching with the urge to smile. “The process will be painless. I’ll tie your hands and feet to the bedposts — strip you naked, and then plunge an immortal sword into your heart. You’ll need to repeat the words ut animam meam and then once you drink my blood — if it accepts you, you will live.”

Her face paled as she struggled to get out of my arms.

And then I lost it, dropping her back to her feet, laughing so hard I felt my body shook with it.

“I don’t even remember the phrase!” Her wild eyes darted between me and the bed, clearly not catching on. Joke. It was a joke.

“Well,” I lifted a shoulder and shrugged. “Then I guess you die.”

“But—”

“Better do it quickly, less pain that way.”

“What about the plants?”

My smile froze. “Either you’re extremely simple minded or mentally ill. What the hell are you talking about?”

“The—” She tugged at her low ponytail. “The plants, you know, around the grounds. I take care of them and Cassius—” Her eyes lit up. “Cassius said I was getting a promotion, so sorry, but you can’t kill me.”

I grinned. “Okay.”

She frowned.

I was still confused how she was shielding herself from my essence, but already I was mentally drained from the energy it took to get her to worship me — instead I returned to my normal everyday state and held out my hand.

She stared at it.

“Take my hand.”

“No.” She swallowed. “I think I’ll just wait for Cassius.”

“He’s already mated.”

Her eyes narrowed. “I’m not mating him.”

“No.” This, this was my favorite part, watching humans try to logically put together all of the pieces of the puzzle only to realize their brains were too small to comprehend the different parts they held, the angles, the colors, “You’re going to mate with me.”

I expected her to cry.

Maybe throw something.

Instead, she froze and then with a scream ran head first directly into my body sending me sailing backward against the marble floor.

I was caught unaware.

Meaning, I barely had time to stop myself before my head slammed back against the hard ground.

She tried to run toward the door.

“Cat and mouse.” I sighed from my position on the ground. “I always did like foreplay.”

She jerked against the doors with fervor, I’d give her that, but they wouldn’t budge.

Not until she was mine.

Not until the doors sensed my blood running through her veins.

“Why won’t it open?” Her voice was strangled as pieces of her hair fell out of its restraint and brushed against her shoulders. “You can’t keep me here forever.”

“I can.” I yawned. “I will.”

 

♦SERIES♦

dark ones 1400x2100

The Dark Ones Saga Book One; Standalone

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29 - Untouchable Darkness

The Dark Ones Saga Book Two; Standalone

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♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

rachelborder

Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!

Want to be kept up to date on new releases? Text MAFIA to 66866!

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