Blog Tour: Blood Like Magic // A Review and Mood Board!

Hey everyone! Today’s post is an exciting one because I’ll be hosting a blog tour stop for Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury. Enjoy!

Blood Like Magic (Blood Like Magic, #1) by Liselle Sambury

Book Info

Title: Blood Like Magic

Author: Liselle Sambury

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Publication Date: June 15th 2021

Synopsis

A rich, dark urban fantasy debut following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family’s magic. The problem is, she’s never been in love—she’ll have to find the perfect guy before she can kill him.

After years of waiting for her Calling—a trial every witch must pass in order to come into their powers—the one thing Voya Thomas didn’t expect was to fail. When Voya’s ancestor gives her an unprecedented second chance to complete her Calling, she agrees—and then is horrified when her task is to kill her first love. And this time, failure means every Thomas witch will be stripped of their magic.

Voya is determined to save her family’s magic no matter the cost. The problem is, Voya has never been in love, so for her to succeed, she’ll first have to find the perfect guy—and fast. Fortunately, a genetic matchmaking program has just hit the market. Her plan is to join the program, fall in love, and complete her task before the deadline. What she doesn’t count on is being paired with the infuriating Luc—how can she fall in love with a guy who seemingly wants nothing to do with her?

With mounting pressure from her family, Voya is caught between her morality and her duty to her bloodline. If she wants to save their heritage and Luc, she’ll have to find something her ancestor wants more than blood. And in witchcraft, blood is everything.

Content Warnings: Whipping scene within the context of slavery, gun/police violence, discussion of and character with an eating disorder, blood/gore/violence, death, substance abuse/addiction, mentions of child neglect.

Find out more about Blood Like Magic with these links!

//Goodreads//Amazon//Barnes and Noble//Book Depository//Indigo//Indiebound//

Here is the tour schedule link! If you have time, do check out the other lovely tour stops as well!

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Review

Filled with thrilling adventure and lovable characters, Liselle Sambury delivers a 2021 release you do not want to miss.

First, let’s talk about the plot. A futuristic world revolving around a BIPOC Canadian witch sounded amazing. Luckily, the book was just as good as I hoped it’d be! The plot was constantly moving, and I was gripping on to every page wondering what would happen next.

Moreover, the characters were very likeable! Our main character Voya is strong and relatable. She constantly tries to put on a brave face, even when the odds aren’t in her favour. Her friends and family also play a huge role in the book. I absolutely adored the best friend dynamic, as well as Voya’s relationship with her grandmother. It was so unique and amazing to see!

The dialogue had it’s snarky and witty aspects to it, that I will admit, were very enjoyable. Voya and her best friend Keis had some sweet moments, but kept a steady flow of sarcastic banter. 

Unfortunately though, I did have some trouble with the writing. It was a bit too dull, which then caused the pacing to slow. I also think the book would have benefited from more descriptions and less dialogue. Blood Like Magic is set in the future, so I was hoping to get more insight on how things would work 30+ years from now. 

The overall enjoyment level of Blood Like Magic is fairly high. Personally, I feel as though it could have benefited from a shorter page length. Nevertheless, if the idea of futuristic witches intrigues you, then I say read on!

Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (3.75 out of 5 stars)

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Mood Board

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About The Author

Liselle Sambury is a Trinidadian-Canadian author who grew up in Toronto, and her brand of writing can be described as “messy Black girls in fantasy situations.” In her free time, she shares helpful tips for upcoming writers and details of her publishing journey through a YouTube channel dedicated to helping demystify the sometimes complicated business of being an author. She is represented by Kristy Hunter at The Knight Agency.

Want to follow the author? Visit the links down below!

//Website//Instagram//Goodreads//YouTube//Twitter//

This tour was organized by TBR & Beyond Tours

Thank you so much for reading this post, I hope you enjoyed! Have a fabulous day!

Blog Tour: In Deeper Waters // An Author Interview, Journal Spread and a Review!

Hey everyone! I am super excited to bring you a blog tour stop of In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens! Thank Turn The Page Tours for the lovely opportunity. On today’s agenda we have an author interview, a journal spread, and a review. So grab some popcorn, and let’s get into it!

Book Info

Title: In Deeper Waters

Author: F.T. Lukens

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

RELEASE DATE: April 20th, 2021

GENRE(S): YOUNG ADULT FICTION–Historical, Fantasy, Romance

BUY LINK: https://bookshop.org/a/11727/9781534480506

Synopsis

A young prince must rely on a mysterious stranger to save him when he is kidnapped during his coming-of-age tour in this swoony adventure that is The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Pirates of the Caribbean.

Prince Tal has long awaited his coming-of-age tour. After spending most of his life cloistered behind palace walls as he learns to keep his forbidden magic secret, he can finally see his family’s kingdom for the first time. His first taste of adventure comes just two days into the journey, when their crew discovers a mysterious prisoner on a burning derelict vessel. Tasked with watching over the prisoner, Tal is surprised to feel an intense connection with the roguish Athlen. So when Athlen leaps overboard and disappears, Tal feels responsible and heartbroken, knowing Athlen could not have survived in the open ocean. That is, until Tal runs into Athlen days later on dry land, very much alive, and as charming—and secretive—as ever. But before they can pursue anything further, Tal is kidnapped by pirates and held ransom in a plot to reveal his rumored powers and instigate a war. Tal must escape if he hopes to save his family and the kingdom. And Athlen might just be his only hope…

Book Review

I received an advanced reader copy via Netgalley and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The synopsis of In Deeper Waters sounded very promising, and I’m happy to report that the story really held up! It was easy to understand, and the world building was done incredibly well. There was no info dumping, nor was it written vaguely. The adventure was such a fun time too. I adored every minute of it!

The main characters where especially likeable. Tal was so nice and genuine. From the start I could tell I’d love him! Athlen was also very wholesome. At first, I wasn’t particularly fond of him. However, as the story progressed, I found myself absolutely adoring his character!

Moreover, the side characters where one of the best parts of the book! I love how each and every one of Tal’s siblings had their own distinct personalities. Kest was courageous and kind, much like Tal. On the other hand, Garret was spontaneous and outgoing. His sisters where also strong and resilient. Adding on to that, I really loved how In Deeper Waters contains such powerful women. From Tal’s bodyguard, to a fiery sea captain, women can do it all!

In addition, the dialogue was very heartwarming. I enjoyed reading Tal’s conversations with his siblings. They each had a special way of interacting, and it was just too cute! Athlen and Tal’s conversations where at times mysterious, and this only made me want to read more. However, the dialogue between all the characters where mostly joyous or emotional.

At first I couldn’t resonate much with the writing style. Third person writing is not my thing, but In Deeper Waters has changed my perspective on it. The writing was eccentric and fresh. It always had me at the edge of my seat! Furthermore, the talk about classism intrigued me quite a bit. It’s not something I see discussed much in historical fiction, so I’m glad it was mentioned.

The overall enjoyment level of In Deeper Waters is very high. It took a little while for me to be fully engrossed in the story, but once I got into it, the book was immensely enjoyable! All in all, this novel is an exceptionally refreshing read that’s perfect for spring! It’s the epic high fantasy you’ve been waiting for!

Age Rating: 15 and up

TW: Torture, violence, death

Final Rating: 9.5/10 or 4.75 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Journal Spread

Google very much distorted the quality of the image. 😢 Nevertheless, I still hope you like it.

Author Interview

1. I’m so happy to be holding this interview/blog tour stop with you today, it’s lovely to have you! Do you mind telling us a bit about yourself?

F.T. Lukens: Hi! I’m FT Lukens and I’m the author of In Deeper Waters. I am a lover of sci-fi and fantasy especially comedy and romance. I also love cryptozoology and superhero movies and television shows about magic.

Saniya: That’s very cool!

2. In Deeper Waters has an absolutely stunning cover! Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration and process of creating it?

F.T. Lukens: It’s such a great cover! I was so happy when I saw the initial sketches. The artist, Sam Schechter, did a wonderful job of bringing Tal and Athlen to life in both their poses and expressions. I think there was maybe one change from the original sketch to the finished product and it was a small detail. The illustrator had captured them so perfectly from the start. Also, the colors are beautiful – the sunset on the water. It really screams fantasy romance. It’s the first illustrated cover I’ve had for a book and I adore it.

Saniya: That’s lovely! It truly is beautiful.

3. Do you have a favorite place to write? Or a specific writing routine?

F.T. Lukens: I actually don’t have a favorite place to write. I have a desk that is surrounded by art and Funko Pops and posters that I use the most often that is my creative space. Unfortunately, now that I work my day job from home, I sit at that desk for eight hours a day already. So sometimes I migrate to the couch or dining room table. As for writing routine, I write best when others are writing with me. It may sound weird, but if I have a writing partner then I achieve much more than just by writing alone. I love writing sprints. I love writing during NaNo. I love participating in a writing discord. It motivates me to see other succeeding and helps me see a project through to the finish.

Saniya: It’s so cool that you love writing with others!

4. What is the most spontaneous thing you have ever done?

F.T. Lukens: I’m not a spontaneous person. I thrive with routine and don’t like surprises, so I had to really think about this question. The best answer I could come up with is that I adopted a puppy a couple of years ago from a shelter on a whim. He was part of a litter of nine. They were born in November and were given the name of Santa’s reindeer. (His name was Prancer, but we renamed him Zuko.) I fell in love with his picture online and I sent in an adoption request and was approved. They told me he was a lab via email. When I went to pick him up… Reader, he was not a lab. He is a redbone coonhound which is definitely not a lab. He howls. He chases things. On our walks, his nose is always on the ground. He’s strong and lean and ready to run at all times. I still love him, and he’s mellowed out as he’s grown older, but wow that was a rough first year. LOL.

Saniya: Awww that sounds adorable~! I love the name Zuko too!

5. Is there a character in your new novel In Deeper Waters that you resonate with the most?

F.T. Lukens: Probably Tal. He is the fourth of five siblings and at the beginning of the novel, he’s unsure of his place in his family and in the world. I remember being that way when I was a teenager. I was the fourth of four myself and I was just hitting that awkward teenage phase while my siblings were all grown up and established, married, having kids, off at college etc. It was a weird space to be in where you feel both left behind because the people you’ve been raised with have moved on and have started creating their own lives and families, but also like you’re not ready to follow them.  

6. Do you have a favorite scene in In Deeper Waters

F.T. Lukens: I do! But it’s at the very end of the book so I don’t want to spoil it. But it was the scene that I was writing toward when developing the first draft. It was the scene that I’d come up with really very early on in the planning and writing of the book and it was both a joy and a relief when I was finally able to write it.

Saniya: I love every scene in the book, but I think I know which one you’re talking about. If I’m right, it’s my favorite one too. 🙂

7. Lastly, what is the main message you would like your readers to take away from the novel?

F.T. Lukens: I really hope that readers will just enjoy the book. I hope they can curl up with it and lose themselves in a fairy tale for a few hours and be happy. One of the main messages is about remaining kind in a world that’s not been kind to you while still standing up for yourself and your family when necessary. So I hope readers will take away some strength, and peace, and joy.

Saniya: This is such a beautiful message, I love it!

About The Tour

Tour Schedule Link!

Giveaway Information

Up for grabs, we have ONE (1) physical copy and ONE (1) digital copy of In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens. This giveaway will end on April 26th at 11:59 PM CST. The physical copy will be available to win by US residents only and the digital copy will be available to win by INTL residents only. To enter, click the link below!

RAFFLECOPTER LINK: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1e4a114d36/?

About The Author

F.T. Lukens is the author of four young adult novels published through Interlude Press, and her book Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic was a 2017 Cybils Award finalist in YA Speculative Fiction, won the ForeWord INDIES Book of the Year Gold Award for YA Fiction, and the Bisexual Book Award for Speculative Fiction, and it was also recently named to ALA’s 2019 Rainbow List. F.T. lives in North Carolina with her husband, three kids, three dogs, and three cats. Visit her at FTLukens.com.

And that’s a wrap! I hope you all enjoyed this tour stop, because I had so much fun making it. Have a wonderful day, and stay safe! 💟

A Song Below Water | A Review

Hiya! Today I will be reviewing the contemporary fantasy YA novel; A Song Below Water By Bethany C Morrow. Enjoy!

A Song Below Water: A Novel: Amazon.ca: Morrow, Bethany C.: Books

(Synopsis from goodreads)

Tavia is already at odds with the world, forced to keep her siren identity under wraps in a society that wants to keep her kind under lock and key. Never mind she’s also stuck in Portland, Oregon, a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. At least she has her bestie Effie by her side as they tackle high school drama, family secrets, and unrequited crushes.

But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation; the girls’ favorite Internet fashion icon reveals she’s also a siren, and the news rips through their community. Tensions escalate when Effie starts being haunted by demons from her past, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice during a police stop. No secret seems safe anymore—soon Portland won’t be either.

Let’s talk about the plot! The original premise sounded so incredibly bone rattling and revolutionary! The execution however, let me down. The whole story was very confusing, and many of the magical creatures weren’t explained beforehand. As someone who doesn’t know much about magical realism and fantasy, I was extremely confused. I also longed for more social commentary. I felt like there was barely any, which is such a shame as it could have made this book 10 times more enjoyable.

Fortunately though, I liked the main characters. Effy and Tavia had the best relationship! It was just the sweetest. I absolutely loved the talk about black hair! I actually learnt quite a bit about black hair through A Song Below Water. Wallace was another great character. He was kind, charismatic, and charming. At times I felt as though Effy was cold towards Wallace for absolutely no reason whatsoever. For example, he’d try to help her, and she’d snap at him. The fluctuation from I-love-Wallace to I-hate-Wallace was a bit off, and didn’t transition smoothly.

“We should all speak like sirens. Use our voices to make a difference, because all of them matter.”

― Bethany C. Morrow, A Song Below Water

Tavia’s parents were dislikeable, and their actions where discriminatory towards sirens. (Tavia is a siren by the way.) Fortunately, I was very intrigued to see the father-daughter dynamic play out, so that was cool! Moreover, the other side characters such as Naema and Priam were flat out mean. I won’t talk much about the actual actions some characters made as I don’t want to give spoilers. However, it seemed that a lot of their actions were done ‘just because,’ and didn’t have any meaning behind doing so.

The dialogue between Effy and Tavia was the best thing ever! I absolutely adored their late night talks! If you’re looking for a story about sisters, do check out A Song Below Water. I also loved how Tavia and Effy used sign language to communicate when Tavia was not able to speak. Sign language is something hard to find in YA novels, let alone fictional novels! As mentioned previously, I was hoping for more talk about the discrimination that sirens, let alone African Americans, face.

“What we need isn’t dissuading, or discouragement, or consoling. We don’t need to be told we’re all helpless. What we need is action.”

― Bethany C. Morrow, A Song Below Water

For the most part, the writing style felt choppy and hard to follow. I did however, like how I was able to distinguish between Effy and Tavia’s point of views. In many books, it’s hard to tell which character’s head the readers are in, but with A Song Below Water, I was able to distinguished perfectly between the two! They each had their own unique way of thinking, and I’m so glad the author delved into that vigorously! The best thing about the book though, was that there was barely any swearing or cursing! Isn’t that amazing? I don’t know about you, but it left me feeling very happy.

I’m sad to say that the overall enjoyment level of A Song Below Water wasn’t very high. I was way too confused to feel completely immersed in the story. It took me over 200 pages to get into the storyline. Fortunately, the plot was whimsical perfection, so that added to the overall enjoyment of the book!

A Song Below Water was an enlightening read that I recommend to whimsical fiction lovers!

Age Rating: 12 and up

TW: Police brutality, forced outing, colorism, racism, talk of murder, bullying, cyber bullying

Final Rating: 6/10 or 3 stars

⭐⭐⭐

Have you read A Song Below Water? If so, let me know what you thought of it in the comments below! Have a wonderful day!

(PS: If anyone’s curious, I posted a pic of this novel on my bookstagram)

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Author Interview With Francesca Burke

Hiya everyone! Today I am here with a special treat; An author interview! I am super excited to be introducing the lovely Francesca Burke who is here with me today to answer some questions about life as an author. I hope you enjoy!

First let’s talk about Burke’s newest novel; The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes. Here’s a quick synopsis!

Princess Amelia’s home, the Kingdom of Mirrors, is on its knees, ravaged by the cantankerous Sapphire Dragon. She must find a way to rid her country of its unwelcome guest and work out how to restore its fortunes before her parents marry her off to clear the kingdom’s debts. Prince Richard of the Valley of Dreams knows he’s not very heroic… he’d rather read about quests than actually go on one. But when he finds himself travelling to a haunted tower, he discovers a treacherous conspiracy that could rip the Three Kingdoms apart… and learns there might be some heroism tucked up his sleeve after all. Esme Delacroix is a psychic living in Stormhaven, the only part of the Three Kingdoms where magic is taboo. A terrifying vision sends Esme and her friend Violet on a perilous quest that shakes Stormhaven and the Three Kingdoms to its core.

Without further ado, let’s get right into the interview!

1. Was there anything that inspired the making of The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes? If so, what inspired it?

Ms. Burke: Yes! I wanted to write the sort of fairy tale I wish I had read as a child/teen. Something with all the magical elements and questing, but with fewer irritating princes and helpless princesses.

Saniya: I totally agree!

2. If you could give your past writer self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Ms. Burke: Learn to plan! Or at least try to know where your story’s going before you start. It’s going to make the editing process so much easier.

Saniya: That’s a great point! Effective planning is really important, regardless of if it’s for writing or not.

3. Did you always want to be a writer? Or did you have something else in mind?

Ms. Burke: I think I wanted to be a pilot when I was very small! I sort of fell into writing when I was 12 or so, and I’ve been doing it ever since (I’m 25 now), so I think I’ve wanted to do it and been doing it for long enough that I can’t really remember a time when it wasn’t part of my life.

Saniya: That’s very cool!

4. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Ms. Burke: Is that… is that…do people do things other than write? Just kidding. I like to read, obviously, and I like walking, which is good because there’s not a lot else to do at the moment… I have a blog, Indifferent Ignorance, where I chat about books and writing and sometimes more intense things like politics. It’s kind of part of my writing work but doesn’t really earn any money, so I think it counts as a hobby. Or I hope it does, I really don’t do much else. Let’s blame the pandemic for that, and not my being an introvert.

Saniya: Reading and walking are wonderful things to do!

5. Do you have a specific writing routine? Is there a certain time of day that you write the most?

Ms. Burke: I yo-yo between a strict routine and no routine. I work best when the rest of the world’s still asleep, and my general routine fluctuates with the seasons, so in the summer I’m usually up early and working away at 7am. Left to my own devices, I do nothing between about midday and early afternoon, and then I work in the evenings. This is not conducive to being a student or having a job, I should add. Why does no one in the UK take a siesta?! Anyway, in the winter I’m in hibernation mode so I do write in the morning and evenings, but more in the evenings.

Saniya: I can totally understand how your routine would fluctuate depending on the season you’re in!

6. What is the main message you would like your readers to take away from The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories?

Ms. Burke: That evening dresses should always come with pockets. There are other, more serious, ‘messages’ in the novel, but telling you any of them would be a GIANT SPOILER so you’ll just have to read it to find out!

Saniya: All dresses should come with pockets!!! Well there you have it folks, now you just have to read Francesca Burke’s newest novel!

Alrighty~ That’s a wrap! I hope you all enjoyed the interview! Here is some information about Ms. Burke!