#BookReview : Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust #GirlSerpentThorn @HodderBooks

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
Expected publication : July 7th 2020
Publisher : Flatiron Books
Genre : Fantasy
Pages : 336

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to publisher. ***

Girl, Serpent, Thorn was amazing fantasy based on Persian mythology that revolved around cursed princess and her efforts of trying to free herself from curse. It was about good vs evil, choices and its consequences, accepting flaws than fearing it, finding beauty in imperfections, family, loyalty, love, and betrayal.

Writing was flawless, compelling and magical. It was written in third person narrative told from Soraya’s perspective. There was fabulous world building, interesting and mysterious character and gradual character development with a little bit romance.

Stories always begin the same way: There was and there was not. There is possibility in those words, the chance for hope or despair.


As soon as I started reading this book, I knew I’m going to like this. The beginning was fantastic. A mother telling her daughter a story about a girl how she was cursed by a demon and birthed a princess with poison in her blood, a curse, whoever she touch will die. But it was not just story but reality of Soraya. Approaching marriage of her brother, a demon imprisoned in dungeon who might help in finding answers about her curse, and a boy who was not afraid of her curse, ready to help and understood her more than her family, put her in situation she never imagined she would found herself in and couldn’t come out of it without putting her family in danger. Her one question started a untoward chain reaction. It was interesting find out who was that boy, if demon will help her or not, how she would free herself from curse and save her family.

I loved this concept of girl alone in her room and garden craving for touch and love, deceived by a demon and found help from another demon to right the wrong she did, and save her family. Cover and title was perfect and made more sense after reading the book.

Lot of things happened in first half that described world, Soraya’s story, about her family and Golvahar, lies she discovered and range of emotions she felt in trying to get rid of her curse. Some things I could see coming like- Demon in prison was mysterious, she was keeping some secrets but I could see spark of relationship between them which we don’t see igniting until second half of the book. And mainly I knew, that new boy looked too good to be true. Something was off about him, no matter how convenient he sounded, and I feared for Soraya. I knew she was putting her faith in wrong place but I was curious to see what that boy wanted and when he would show his true color. When he did, I must say I was surprised. I didn’t expect what was revealed and I was not sure what would happen next. Second half was all about Soraya’s development, her conflicts, knowing love for first time, and many twists and turns.

Soraya was great. Usually when heroine shows weakness and self-doubt in half of the book, I get frustrated but here it felt right and real. Even though she was most powerful in realm, most deadly person, she felt low and fearful. She didn’t see her curse as untouchable power but a poison, and she feared for herself, for her family and people who might come near her. Her fear made her weak, small, and yielding. But hope of getting rid of this poison, crave for human touch, companionship, happiness and her family’s love was too strong that made her want to change that about her. When she faced worst consequences of her wish and choices, we see how misguided she was. I felt for her at this point. I couldn’t help but put myself in her situation and from what she discovered, her actions made sense. Her intentions were selfish but felt genuine. I loved the way she learned her lessons, kept fighting for her family even though she heard worst things from them for her mistakes, and how she found a way to make things right. Her guilt, anger, self-doubt, determination, a new experience of touch and love, it was all written perfectly.

“I’m not afraid of you,” Soraya whispered. Parvaneh’s eyes sparkled, not with usual mockery, but with something like hunger. “Of course not,” Pervaneh said. “You could kill me with a single touch. Why should you ever be afraid of anyone?” She peered closed, tilting her head. “No, it’s only yourself that you fear.”

All secondary characters specially Azad and Parvaneh were interesting and mysterious. I couldn’t tell whom should I trust and whom should not until second half of the book. They were all keeping secrets, told lies and will betray to achieve what they wanted.

World was best part of the book. All elements were well explored. There were maze of secret passages of Golvahar palace and Soraya’s beautiful rose garden, Persian terminology, different types of demons, their appearance and power, legends and stories, mythical creature, and spellbinding forest and mountain of demons. It was fascinating to read how author created world inspired by ancient Persia and its folklore. It all made more sense in author’s note.

F/F relationship was lovely in second half. It was for a short while but worked as breather in this tense and fast paced plot. Trust issues along with tension to save family made it interesting to see how they will confess their feelings to each other and when that moment came, I couldn’t help but smile ear to ear.

Climax was brilliant. With a surprising discovery, an emotional twist, and tense situation that left me without any hope. Even one last effort by Soraya didn’t work but then that magical effect and all that happened till the end was amazingly thrilling and exhilarating. End was perfect. My only complaint was I didn’t want it to end. I want more stories in this world.

Overall,

Girl, Serpent, Thorn was fast pace and fabulous #fantasy with magical world based on #PersianMythology, and mysterious and interesting characters.

Books Links : Goodreads Amazon

Affiliate Link : Book Depository


I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know in comments what do you think about my review and this book, if you have read it already or are you going to add it to TBR. Which different mythologies have you read in books so far?

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#BookBlitz #Excerpt : Warbringer by Aaron Hodges #Warbringer @rararesources

Hello Readers! I’m excited to be part of Blitz tour for Warbringer by Aaron Hodges, organised by  Rachel’s Random Resources. Read more about this epic fantasy and excerpt in this post.

Warbringer by Aaron Hodges
 Book 1 of The Descendants of the Fall series
Publication Date: 27th March 2020
Genre: Epic Fantasy

Synopsis

Centuries ago, the world fell.
From the ashes rose a terrible new species—the Tangata.
Now they wage war against the kingdoms of man.
And humanity is losing.


Recruited straight from his academy, twenty-year-old Lukys hopes the frontier will make a soldier out of him. But Tangata are massing in the south, and the allied armies are desperate. They will do anything to halt the enemy advance—including sending untrained men and women into battle. Determined to survive, Lukys seeks aid from the only man who seems to care: Romaine, the last warrior of an extinct kingdom.

Meanwhile, the Queen’s Archivist leads an expedition deep beneath the earth. She seeks to uncover the secrets of the Gods. Their magic has been lost to the ages, yet artifacts remain, objects of power that could turn the tide of the war. But salvation is not all that waits beneath the surface. Something else slumbers in the darkness. Something old. Something evil.

Excerpt

Chapter 4 – The Recruit

Lukys’s legs burned as he made his slow way up the slope. The weight of his pack and chainmail vest dragged him back but he kept on, teeth clenched, eyes fixed on the ground two yards ahead of his feet. Grunts came from the other Perfugian recruits walking around him, though little was said. After a week of hard marching, few could spare the breath for idle words.

On more than a few occasions, Lukys had wondered whether he could keep on. The way had been a brutal series of mountains, valleys and river crossings, with each night spent camped in the open, with only the canvas tents they carried on their backs for shelter. Exhaustion weighed on his shoulders; he had not enjoyed a good night’s sleep since the voyage from Ashura. If only the ship had carried them further south, the march to the frontier could have been completed in a day.

Instead it had deposited them on the docks of Mildeth, the Flumeeren capital, leaving them to walk most of the way. Apparently, the galley was needed for more important tasks, such as ferrying the famous Flumeeren spices back to Ashura.

Many of the recruits felt affronted at the idea, but Lukys’s childhood had been filled with hardships far worse than a cross-country march. His parents had been nobodies. That wasn’t meant to matter in Perfugia. Children were taken from their families at eight and enrolled at the national academy, so that none would be privileged above others.

But even at the academy, the division had been clear. His dormitory had been old and crowded; the newest facilities given to the noble born. And so had passed his twelve years of study. He was glad to be rid of the place.

Now, at last, he would have a chance to prove himself.

It had come as a surprise when they’d named him. The Perfugian army was renown throughout the four kingdoms; it was a rare honour to serve in its ranks. Lukys’s hopes had been for a position as a scribe or doctor, though he’d struggled with both in his final examinations.

But a soldier? He hadn’t dared dream of such an assignment.

Noticing the slope lessening beneath his boots, Lukys finally glanced up. A sigh escaped him as he saw the top of the hill was close. Several recruits and the officers on their horses were already waiting there. His fellows were taking the opportunity to sit and rest their legs, while the officers talked softly amongst themselves.

Coming to a stop alongside the others, Lukys leaned against his spear with a groan, then drew out his waterskin and took a swig. The path up the hill had been dry and it felt good to wash the dust from his mouth. Laughter came from the nearby recruits as they looked in his direction.

“Finally made it, peasant?”

A scowl twisted Lukys’s lips but he kept his mouth shut. The group were made up of some of the higher born from the academy, men and women who at various points over the last ten years had made his life difficult. He was used to their taunts, though he’d hoped they might have ceased now that they’d all been named professional soldiers.

“I hope we get to march into Calafe,” one of them, Dale, was saying to the others. “Let’s see how tough the Tangata are when they come up against Perfugian steel!”

The others cheered and clapped his back. The officers on their horses ignored the noise, though the recruits had been instructed to keep quiet as they neared the frontier. If the maps were to be believed, they were close now…

Putting away his waterskin, Lukys moved past the officers. The remaining recruits were still filing up the hillside. Several of the stragglers were at least ten minutes behind; he had time to look around.

The terrain ahead was greener than what they’d just climbed. Trees spotted the rolling hills, though they could not compare to the untouched forests of northern Perfugia. Then Lukys frowned as he noticed a blackened strip of land. Further down the hill, the forest had been burnt, leaving bare earth stretching all the way to the broad waters of a river.

A river…

The Illmoor!

His heart quickened as he scanned the banks of the famous river, searching, seeking, there!

Nestled in a bend of the Illmoor was a town—Fogmore. A grin stretched his cheeks as he looked upon the end of their long journey. It faded, however, as his eyes lingered on the town. The stockade walls were tiny, and many of the buildings he could see looked to be made of wood. In Perfugia, even the poorest of villages were constructed of stone, built to last, to endure the wild storms that often bashed the island kingdom’s coast. Wood was only ever used as decoration.

He supposed it was all a farming nation like Flumeer could afford on such a distant frontier. Even so, his stomach twisted at the thought of sleeping in such a matchbox—what would they do if a fire swept through the sprawling buildings?

And why had they burnt the forest?

Purchase Links:

UK –  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08653PM1L/

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08653PM1L/

Author Bio:

Aaron Hodges was born in 1989 in the small town of Whakatane, New Zealand. He studied for five years at the University of Auckland, completing a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Geography, and a Masters of Environmental Engineering. After working as an environmental consultant for two years, he grew tired of office work and decided to quit his job and explore the world. During his travels he picked up an old draft of a novel he once wrote in High School (titled The Sword of Light) and began to rewrite the story. Six months later he published his first novel, Stormwielder, and hasn’t looked back since.

Website | Facebook


hope you enjoyed reading this post. Let me know in comments what do you think about this book, if you have read any book by the same author.

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#BookReview : Episodic Sleep Disorders by E.L. Haines #Mystery #EpisodicSleepDisorders

Episodic Sleep Disorders by E.L. Haines
Publication Date : June 3rd 2019
Genre : Mystery
Pages : 119

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Beware, beware, the beast of Lozère!
Who lurks in your dreams, and knows how to scare
You will freeze at the sight of strange dancing at night
And the dead, in their coffins, still stare.

A menacing wolf is terrorizing the village of Lozère. A beautiful young girl has lost her family and her best friend to this nightmare when Sparrow shows up with his characteristic curiosity. But all is not as it seems in this cold mountain village, where the beasts are like men and the men are like beasts.

Sparrow came to Lozère to tell stories, but he stayed for the stories Lozère told him…

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review. Many thank to author for review copy. ***

Episodic Sleep Disorders was unusual mystery that revolved around Sparrow, a storyteller, trying to uncover the mysteries of Lozère village and its people. It was interesting blend of folk tales and scientific elements set in fictional village filled with imagination and allusions.

Episodic Sleep Disorders started with Sparrow, traveler and storyteller, meeting Reynard at his campsite. Sparrow wanted to visit Lozère next but his new companion hinted there’s something dark about this village and it gives nightmare. When Sparrow visited Lozère, he knew Reynard was telling the truth. Lozère had a feel of ghost town, no sounds, no activities shrouded in eerie silence and he witness an unusual events at graveyard that picked his interest. He wanted to know story of this village and its people, to uncover what happened here. The more he knew the more darkness he discovered that might endanger his life.  I was curious to know why people were having hallucination, what was the story of wolf was and how Sparrow would save himself and the village from twisted scheme of perpetrator.

Writing was easy to follow, vivid, and gripping. Story was written in episodes instead of chapters that told the story within story and each ended with cliffhanger that made me keep flipping pages. I liked the switch between Sparrow’s visit to Lozère, story about it and his retelling and conversations with Reynard. There was some interesting myths and scientific details- Anomic Aphasia, taphophobia and phytology and Zymology- incorporated with mystery.

Suspense of villager’s behavior, unseen beast was interesting. I couldn’t figure it out until its revelation. Climax was both tense and entertaining. I was impressed by Sparrow’s smart trick and clever escape. End was shocking and also open to interpretation for reader using their imagination.

Why 4 stars-

My only complaint was it was bit confusing at some points.

Overall,

Episodic Sleep Disorders was quick, intriguing, dark mystery with vivid description and eerie setting. I recommend this book to fans of short stories.

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon


I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know in comments what do you think about the book and review, if you have read it already or are you going to add it to TBR. Do you like to read short stories? Which is your favorite short story?

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#Blitz : Defence of Exeter Station BY Thom Bedford @ThomBedford @Shalini_G26

Hello readers! I’m happy to be part of blitz tour for DEFENSE OF EXETER STATION BY THOM BEDFORD, organized by Digital Reads Blog Tours. Check out excerpt from this interesting Space opera in this post.

Synopsis:

At the turn of the twenty-ninth century, the Milky Way is on the verge of a galactic war. The Combined Systems Alliance continues to expand their territory—much to the displeasure of the Free Planetary Union who, until now, lacked the resources to halt the encroachment. In a bid to wrest control from the Alliance and retake their former colonies, Union agents throughout the Alliance Fleet organize a mass insurgency seizing countless assets. During the ensuing chaos, numerous ships are decimated and millions of lives are lost.


Retired Alliance Commander Tanic Sandorn finds himself stranded on a border station after the Union launches an all-out assault. Fighting against anxieties from the incident that pushed him into early retirement, Sandorn accepts being recalled to active duty and propelled to the front lines. This time, he will protect his crew and the inhabitants of the Exeter star system from any approaching threat—never again will he leave anyone behind.

But outnumbered, outgunned, and outflanked, Exeter Station is left running at a fraction of its operating capacity. Sandorn and the Alliance officers on board must strategize quickly and carefully to hold their ground, or they will be forced to surrender the station, the system, and their lives.

For fans of epic space operas, like Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series, Jasper T. Scott’s Dead Space series, and David Weber’s Honor Harrington series. 

Excerpt:

Every crew member aboard the Veloz ran from stem to stern working tirelessly to patch every hole in the ship. The damage was critical to the point that nearly half the ship had been evacuated. With so little power available, compartmental force fields were inoperable, leaving only a single fire door between repair crews and the vacuum of space in many areas.

Not a single deck was spared at least some devastation, for as the ship’s superstructure twisted and contorted under heavy firepower, panels came loose and circuits overloaded throughout resulting in debris littering every room and corridor. The floors weren’t only littered with discarded paneling and blown circuitry, but also injured, dying, and dead crew members. The initial unexpected surprise attack caused the most death and destruction, taking over a hundred lives. Then as the battle wore on, further loss of life was inevitable.

The victory was Pyrrhic, but it was a victory, nonetheless.

Book links:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B088PPSN87

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B088PPSN87

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53427789-the-defense-of-exeter-station

Website: https://thombedford.com/the-defense-of-exeter-station/

About Author:

Thom grew up in suburban Cheshire, England with his parents and brother. During school he had a propensity for creativity, either writing, building models, painting, or programming. Every subject choice was motivated by creating and building, whether it be design technology, graphic design, programming, or creative writing.

After studying Computer Science at The University of Manchester, he started working as a Software Developer. Following in his father’s footsteps, he worked as a Technical Consultant in London for several years, then in Data Warehousing back in Manchester.

In his spare time, Thom still writes, build models, paints, and programs, but nowadays also listens to a lot of music, watches a lot of films, and enjoys playing computer games.

His love for science fiction comes from blockbuster films like Starship Troopers, Star Wars and Star Trek, as well as B-movies like Wing Commander, Pitch Black, and Iron Sky. Computer games like Homeworld, EVE-Online, and Stellaris, and books like Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series, Jasper T. Scott’s Dead Space series, and David Weber’s Honor Harrington series. In other words, sci-fi—particularly space opera—in any media.

Thom currently lives in Cheshire, England, with his wife, Helen, and their two cats.

Author Social media:

Website: http://thombedford.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThomBedford

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/thombedford


Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know in comments what do you think about the book or if you have read it already or if you are going to add it to TBR.

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#GuestPost: Stumbling blocks to writing a long series by Sherryl D. Hancock, author of #WeHo Series @vulpine_press

Hello Readers! Today I’m excited to welcome Sherryl D. Hancock, author of WeHo Series to celebrate release of 16th book in series, Darkness Past, on Books Teacup and Reviews to talk about Stumbling blocks to writing a long series. The series is packed with strong, kick-ass women who deal with real issues and overcome a lot of adversity. Check out this interesting guest post and more about book in this post.

Stumbling blocks to writing a long series:

Writing a long series means never having to say goodbye!

As a writer you fall in love with the characters in your books, and writing interconnected series means you don’t have to stop seeing your characters. When I wrote my first book in what was to become the WeHo series, When Love Wins, I had no intention of writing a series. My character Tyler Hancock was inspired by my wife and her time spent in the United States Air Force. She was negatively affected by the military’s stance on gays in the military (they weren’t allowed!). At that point I just wanted to get that story out there. My second book, When Angels Fall, didn’t have the same characters. It was only when I began visualizing my third, Break in the Storm, that I saw a way to bring back Devin and Skyler from When Angels Fall. Even then, I didn’t really plan a “series.”

One year out of high school, before WeHo ever came about, I accidentally began writing my first series of books. The very first book I wrote from beginning to end was called Building Empires, which turned out to be the first and second book of my MidKnight Blue series. Building Empires was so long I had to split it into two books, when I finally got published many years later! That’s when I fell in love with the main character Midnight Chevalier; I didn’t even know I liked women then! In Midnight I had a strong female character, a woman who took no crap from anyone, and who was tough enough to hold her own against anyone! I found that after writing about her exploits, I didn’t want her story to end! I wanted her to grow, change, live and love! I wanted other characters in the book to grow up, and become their own people.

When I began writing WeHo number four, Turning Tables, I saw how I could bring characters from my other series, MidKnight Blue, into my WeHo universe. Even bringing a supernatural element to the books, using a character I’d previously developed who has the gift of premonitions. I think that’s when the idea of writing a series starring recurring characters and centering them all in West Hollywood (WeHo), California really took hold. Thus, the WeHo series was born!

By the time I started the third Midnight Chevalier story, I realized that I needed to add characters who’d grown up in the previous two books. So I started adding new characters, while developing the ones I already had. Giving them love lives, letting them change and grow as people. As it turned out, the characters changed me too. As I explored the options for their lives, what they could do, how they could find love, I realized what was truly missing in my life: REAL LOVE! Right around the time I started to write the story about Kana Sorbinno meeting the love of her life, a woman, was about the same time I discovered my preference for women. As I explored the gay lifestyle for my characters, I learned more about myself.

It took me another ten years to finally end my marriage to a man, and live the life I’d wanted for so long. That’s when I met my soul mate, and a few years later, finally decided to write a lesbian romance! And we all know what that led to!

Now, you’re probably wondering… I thought she said this was about the stumbling blocks to writing a long series… Well, yes, there are stumbling blocks and that is MANAGING so many characters and trying to keep track of their stories. There are over forty women in the series! With more to come! It’s not always easy to wrangle so many personalities, habits, backgrounds, jobs, cars, and music preferences (if you read the WeHo series you’ll see I’m all about the music and the cars!). It only becomes worse when your publisher moves to audio books! Then the poor narrator has to come up with different intonations for each character.

How do I keep track of all of them? Well, I have a book, and that book has notes from the books, from research on the books. The book also has a list of characters by name, age, the vehicles they drive. I know that probably seems silly if you haven’t read the series, but the cars are featured heavily in many of the “group” scenes! I even have pictures in this book. The pictures are of women that inspire the characters, shots of the cars they drive, random things like an article for an apartment rental in New York, or a picture of the Colonel’s Insignia for Kai Temple in Quid Pro Quo, or a picture of a tattoo one of the characters has. The pictures can be anything I need or want to remember about the character.

The music is a whole other arena! I have so much music downloaded from what the various characters listen to. I have playlists for certain characters, or at the very least a playlist of a type of music. I have a classic rock playlist for when I need to get into the head of Jericho Tehrani (from Turning Tables) when she’s driving her Dodge Challenger Hellcat down the road. I also have a house music playlist for getting into the mind of Memphis McQueen (In Plain Sight)! Music is very important to me and can stir up so many emotions and memories. Many people who have read my series have told me how they discovered Breaking Benjamin, or Linkin Park because they read the names of the songs in the book and downloaded it. I love sharing my passion for music with my readers!

The most important thing about writing a long series, is enjoying the feeling when another book is ready to come out and people are anticipating it! I love seeing the excitement of my readers when I post that a new book in the WeHo series is coming out! It fuels my need to write, even if it means adding another name to the growing list in my book! I am starting a new series, about fire fighters working for Cal Fire here in California…maybe I won’t use the same characters over and over again, but maybe you’ll see characters you know too!

Book Detail:

Darkness Past (WeHo series #16) by Sherryl D. Hancock
Publication Date: June 22, 2020
Publisher: Vulpine Press
Genre: LGBT romance

Sierra Youngblood’s life is in danger. After being threatened and stalked by an old client, Kashena Marshal is assigned as her protection. But Kashena isn’t just any security officer, she’s an old flame that Sierra could never forget.

After years apart they soon discover they still share a spark, despite Sierra now being married to a man with a son. Eventually, she realizes she can’t live without Kashena and chooses to leave her husband. But when Jason turns violent, Kashena is forced to protect Sierra once more.

As the dust starts to settle, could there be yet more Darkness in the Past?

Series detail – https://www.vulpine-press.com/we-ho

About the Author:

Sherryl D. Hancock lives in Sacramento, California, and has been writing since she was a teenager. Sherryl’s bestselling WeHo series deals with a number of important topics, such as abuse and problems with mental health. Sherryl’s books are filled with strong, inspiring women in the hope of helping and inspiring others.

You can find her latest book, Darkness Past, here.


I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Let me know in comments what do you think about this guest post and if you have read any book in this series or are you going to add it to TBR.

Happy Reading!

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