A Dream Within A Dream Blog Tour

Let’s kick this off by marveling at this gorgeous cover…

About the book:

Invisible to the man she loves, Reeve Lennox fights to reclaim him from a dark world.

As her wedding day nears in Acarsaid, her betrothed Arden offers only his wayward soul and saucy tongue. At night she desperately tries to reach Bran, the young soldier of nightmarish Tenebris who holds her heart. However, her king insists that the realms of Tenebris and Acarsaid must remain separate, lest the evil wizard Rancore brutally conquer all.

But the dark magic of Tenebris defies mere distance. A war is coming, one only Reeve may be able to prevent, if she can reunite her family on opposing sides.

With two kingdoms at stake, Reeve must discover her strength and her family’s legacy before all is lost. Yet righting the wrongs of the past may require the sacrifice of her truest love.

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My review:

How do I put into words just how much I loved this book (and the first book in the duology, All That We See Or Seem), without sounding like a complete dork? I have no idea. But I do know that I absolutely devoured this book, and I had no desire to ever leave the co-worlds of Acarsaid and Tenebris — giant, flesh-eating falcons notwithstanding.

I don’t know how she did it, but Kristina Mahr made me a fan from the first page. Maybe it was her lyrical prose which leant a beautiful rhythm to her words, or the deftly created co-worlds of Acarsaid and Tenebris, or the tension she packed on the pages. Or maybe, just maybe, it was because I wanted Reeve to have the best of both worlds — to have the quiet strength and deep love of Bran, as well as the sultry flattery and broken heart of Arden. Both sides of the love triangle brought out the best in Reeve’s character, and I found myself torn for her sake.

A Dream Within a Dream is a beautiful, fantastic read that I cannot recommend highly enough. If you want to get lost in a magical world, pick this one!

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Keep reading for some Bonus Content (that’s right…bonus!):

First, a brief interview with author Kristina Mahr about her writing process and inspirations. Kristina devotes her days to numbers and her nights to words. She works full-time as an accountant in the suburbs of Chicago, where she lives with her two dogs and two cats, but her true passion is writing. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, and waking up at the crack of dawn every weekend to watch the Premier League.

How did you come up with the idea for A Dream Within A Dream?

My sister had a dream way back in February 2014 about a girl who falls in love with a boy she meets in her dreams, which has always been the core of the Dreamworld Duology. The plot of A Dream Within a Dream specifically came about very naturally, building upon the conflicts and storylines that were set up in All That We See or Seem. I had spent the years since writing the first book pondering what might’ve happened next, so I had many ideas already in mind when I actually sat down to outline and write the sequel.

Which books or authors have influenced you the most?

Maggie Stiefvater and Tahereh Mafi have been my biggest influences in terms of writing. I love their lyrical prose, the way it’s almost poetry. I can flip to almost any page of their books and find a line that is drop-dead gorgeous.

What is your writing process like?

It took me a lot of trial and error to find a process that works for me, but I feel like I’ve got it down now! I like to plan for two-three evenings a week of writing, plus at least part of the weekend. When I sit down to write, I set a minimum word count goal, and then a stretch-goal. (I almost always end up going for the stretch-goal!) Then, I reread what I wrote in the prior writing session, tidy it up a bit, and get back into the story.

I have a beautiful loft upstairs with a desk and a comfy chair and a giant bookcase, but I almost always write while lounging on my couch with a cat wedged between me and my laptop.

What gave you the most difficulty when writing A Dream Within A Dream?

Keeping track of characters! I have so many secondary characters in this book, and I kept losing them as the plot heated up and storylines started colliding. I ended up having to write down where everyone was, even the people who weren’t in a given scene, just to make sure everyone was accounted for.

What is your favorite writing fuel?

I am an iced tea junkie, specifically Diet Raspberry Snapple and Peach Crystal Light.

What made you decide to create a love triangle?

You know, one of my favorite things about the love triangle trope is how it forces the main character to really do a deep-dive into herself, into what she wants/needs, who she truly is. One of the biggest tensions in the story is Reeve feeling as though she’s being torn in two, leading two lives, as she falls further and further into the nightmare world of Tenebris and gets to know its residents. So it made sense to me to have her heart feel torn in two, as well, especially as one of the things she wants most is to fall in love and be loved. Careful what you wish for, Reeve!

What’s your next project?

I am currently ankle-deep in drafting a contemporary young adult novel, which is my first foray away from fantasy! I’m really enjoying it so far, even though I’d never say never to returning to fantasy at some point.

Find out more about Kristina by visiting her on social media:

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And now, if you have yet to read All That We See Or Seem, the first book in the Dreamworld Duology, trust me, you need to. Not only because they really should be read in the right order to help with understanding what’s going on, but also because IT IS AWESOME! So, here’s the cover and blurb to tempt you…

Every night, seventeen-year-old Reeve Lennox finds herself under a noose.

By day she is a lady of Acarsaid’s royal house, daydreaming of adventure and love. But every night in sleep she wanders through a nightmarish city, an invisible witness to the screeches of monsters and the screams of their victims. Her only consolation is Bran, a battle-torn young man with a selfless heart and eyes that reflect the stars.

Yet while Reeve falls deeper into her dreams, in truth she is engaged to Arden, a mercurial nobleman who has long been cured of his belief in love and breathes fire and flattery like other people breathe air.

Torn between two lives, Reeve struggles to remember what’s real. Until night a day collide, with a revelation that threatens all of Acarsaid.

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Seriously, I want to read these books again and again, I so thoroughly enjoyed them. I’d so very highly recommend you grab them for yourself. You can purchase both books through Uncommon Universes Press (including autographed copies!!).

Many, many thanks to Uncommon Universes Press for allowing me to be part of this blog tour and for the copy of the book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

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Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

About the book:

Gold is in my blood, in my breath, even in the flecks in my eyes.

Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more.

She also has a secret.

Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it.

When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.

The acclaimed Rae Carson begins a sweeping trilogy set in Gold Rush-era America, about a young woman with a powerful and dangerous gift.

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My review:

I have always been fascinated by the Oregon Trail and have deeply respected and admired the strength of the people who braved the trek. Rae Carson has managed to capture both the heartbreak and the triumph of the Oregon Trail, while adding a dramatic twist in her novel Walk on Earth a Stranger, book one of her Gold Seer Trilogy.

I love the concept of a girl who can sense gold that (against her own will) gets caught up in the Gold Rush. But I also appreciated how Carson made this story about so much more than seeking and finding gold. It’s about human determination, the perseverance of the soul, and the ability to find strength in the midst of the most wretched of circumstances. And it is beautifully written.

This book has been out for a few years, but I was just recently introduced to it. A friend mentioned that she stumbled across it and enjoyed it so much she had to get the next two books right away. I’m so glad I took her advice and got my own copy of Walk on Earth and Stranger. I’d recommend you do the same. 🙂

If Wishes Were Curses by Janeen Ippolito

About the book:

So I accidentally killed a shifter. On purpose.

With genie powers I shouldn’t be able to use, thanks to my curse-mark.

In my defense, the damn grizzly was threatening civilians and might have been a vampire as well. Pittsburgh is safer without him. Only the Fae court doesn’t believe my story, and the shifters are out for blood.

Now I’ve lost my job as a romantic investigator, and I’m on death row. My only hope is an oddly outgoing vegetarian vampire lawyer who seems strangely familiar. Too familiar.

Almost like we’ve met before, and this whole thing was a set-up to take us both down.

Wishing won’t get us out of this mess.
But my forbidden wish magic just might.

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My review:

So, anyone who knows me knows that I love the city of Pittsburgh; it’s one of my favorite places to visit, one of my happy places. When I saw that If Wishes Were Curses is an urban fantasy set in the Steel City, I couldn’t wait to read it…and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 🙂

I was captured by the concept: a genie who is banned from being a genie, but still manages to get in plenty of trouble. And Allis is great. She’s feisty, but fragile; determined, but unsure; and loyal, even when she’s been hurt. It ends up being a wonderfully complicated combination of traits, creating a fascinating character arc.

Filled with snarky characters, a great balance of character growth and action, and plenty of references to chipped ham, If Wishes Were Curses kept me wanting to read more. I’m definitely drumming my fingers in impatience for the next Steel City Genie installment. 🙂

Mark of the Raven by Morgan Busse

About the book:

Lady Selene is the heir to the Great House of Ravenwood and the secret family gift of dreamwalking. As a dreamwalker, she can enter a person’s dreams and manipulate their greatest fears or desires. For the last hundred years, the Ravenwood women have used their gift of dreaming for hire to gather information or to assassinate.

As she discovers her family’s dark secret, Selene is torn between upholding her family’s legacy–a legacy that supports her people–or seeking the true reason behind her family’s gift.

Her dilemma comes to a head when she is tasked with assassinating the one man who can bring peace to the nations, but who will also bring about the downfall of her own house.

One path holds glory and power, and will solidify her position as Lady of Ravenwood. The other path holds shame and execution. Which will she choose? And is she willing to pay the price for the path chosen?

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My review:

If the cover doesn’t tempt you, if the description doesn’t interest you enough, then I hope this review makes you want to buy this book, because it’s an awesome read!

Selene is a wonderfully drawn character: a young woman who so dearly wants to do what is best for her family and for her nation, but who even more desperately wants to do what is right. Every time her “mask” dropped into place, my heart broke for her, since we’ve all been there–needing to set aside what we feel/want/need for the sake of keeping the peace or doing what we’re supposed to do. And I love that she sought truth above all, even knowing the consequences of that search.

All the other characters in the novel, whether they play major roles or bit parts, are all well-crafted and brought beautifully to life. It’s this great variety of characters that helps to keep this story moving swiftly.

And Morgan Busse has built a fantastic world, filled with beauty, intrigue, passion, political rivalry, swordplay, and wyverns! Can’t ask for much more than that!

Seriously, Mark of the Raven is excellent, and I highly recommend you pick up a copy today!

Many thanks to Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for the digital copy of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂 

Masque by W.R. Gingell

masque

About the book:

Beauty met the Beast and there was . . . Bloody murder?

It’s the Annual Ambassadorial Ball in Glause, and Lady Isabella Farrah, the daughter of New Civet’s Ambassador, is feeling pleasantly scintillated.
In the library is Lord Pecus, a charming gentleman whose double mask hides a beastly face, and who has decided that Isabella is the very person to break the Pecus curse.
In the ball-room is young Lord Topher, who is rapidly falling in love with an older woman.
And in the card-room, lying in a pool of his own blood, is the body of one of Isabella’s oldest friends: Raoul, Civet’s Head Guardsman. The papers sewn into his sash seem to suggest espionage gone wrong, but Isabella is not so certain.
Lord Pecus, as Commander of the Watch, is of the opinion that Isabella should keep out of the investigation and out of danger. Isabella is of the opinion that it is her murder to investigate, and that what a certain Beast-Lord doesn’t know won’t hurt him. . . .
Will Isabella find the murderer before Lord Pecus does, or will she end her investigation as a bloody spatter on the parlour floor?


My review:

This was such a fun read! It was a fabulous combination of some of my favorite genres: I’d describe it as an Austen-esque, fantasy, murder mystery with a fairytale twist. What’s not to like about that? 🙂

There was so much imagination in this story, from the very unusual way in which people were murdered to the actions of and interactions between the different nations of Glause and Civet to the banter of Bella and Lord Pecus to the Austen-esque propriety that hovered over nearly all of Bella’s actions (unless, of course, she was investigating!). I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book!

And I truly feel it would appeal to a wide range of readers, since it has so many interesting facets. From murder mystery to romance to fantasy and just about everything in between, Masque has it all. I’d highly recommend you check it out!

 

Many thanks to the Fellowship of Fantasy Book Club for introducing me to this book. 🙂

 

Spice Bringer by H.L. Burke

 

spice bringer

About the book:

A deadly disease. A vanishing remedy. A breathless journey.

All her life, Niya’s known she will die young from the fatal rasp. She survives only with the aid of vitrisar spice and a magical, curmudgeonly fire salamander named Alk. Then an ambitious princess burns down the vitrisar grove in an effort to steal Alk so she can claim her rightful throne. Joined by Jayesh, a disgraced monk, Niya and Alk must flee to the faraway Hidden Temple with the last vitrisar plant, or all who suffer from the rasp will perish.

But even as Niya’s frustration and banter with Jayesh deepen to affection, the rasp is stealing away her breath and life.

For a girl with limited time and a crippling quest, love may be more painful than death.


My review:

What a wonderful read! Burke has created a beautiful world, filled it with fascinating and touching characters, and wrapped them all up in a plot that keeps you reading well past your bed time.

But, oh the feels! I had to work very hard not to ugly cry during one part (especially because I was in public, waiting in the doctor’s office lobby). But to me, that means that I fell in love with the characters enough that I truly cared what happened to them – a hallmark of great storytelling! And H.L. Burke definitely knows how to tell a great story.

I’d highly recommend you grab your own copy of Spice Bringer (and a box of Kleenex). It’s a lovely read that will stay with you long after the last page!

The Songweaver’s Vow by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

 

songweaverAbout the book:

Euthalia is rejected as a bride, traded to Viking raiders, and sacrificed to a strange god.

After that, things get interesting.

When Euthalia’s father trades her to Viking raiders, her best hope is to be made a wife instead of a slave. She gets her wish — sort of — when she is sacrificed as a bride to a god.

Her inhuman husband seems kind, but he visits only in the dark of night and will not allow her to look upon him. By day Euthalia becomes known as a storyteller, spinning ancient Greek tales to entertain Asgard’s gods and monsters.

When one of her stories precipitates a god’s murder and horrific retribution, Euthalia discovers there is a monster in her bed as well. Alone in a hostile Asgard, Euthalia must ally with a spiteful goddess to sway Odin himself before bloody tragedy opens Ragnarok, the prophesied end of the world.


My review:

Okay, honestly, I first judged this book by its gorgeous cover — I was absolutely drawn to it. I didn’t even bother to read the back matter; I just bought the book for the front cover! Then I realized it was about Norse mythology: a subject I’ve always been curious about, but never taken the time to study. Bonus! So I was totally excited to finally get a chance to read The Songweaver’s Vow.

So now, how can I describe this book? Awesome comes to mind. Also beautiful, tragic, amazing, intense, fascinating…I am still kind of staggered by how much I enjoyed a book that I bought just for its cover. 😉 Laura VAB has vivified Norse mythology in a way that my college mythology class could only ever dream of. I was quickly captured by the writing and swept up in the rich emotion and deft weaving of the plot. It was one of those books that I wanted to finish, but didn’t want to end.

If you enjoy Norse mythology, you’ll love The Songweaver’s Vow. If you’ve never read any or know little to nothing about Norse mythology, you’ll love The Songweaver’s Vow. Just trust me on this: get your own copy and get caught up in the magic! 🙂