Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Crown's Game Read-Along Wrap-Up!

















Priyvet, loyal members of the Guard and all of you glorious readers! As the Major General of the Tsar's Guard, I had the great honor of hosting The Crown's Game Read-Along a couple of months ago and now, I'm thrilled to share all the fun we had!

For those of you who haven't read the book yet or maybe haven't heard of it (have you been living under a rock? ;P) . . . allow me introduce you to it now!

The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye
Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins
Pub Date: May 17, 2016
My Rating: / 5 Stars
Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.
And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.
Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?
For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.
And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love... or be killed himself.
As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear... the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.



To start the read-along, I split everyone into discussion groups!



All of the teams were given reading schedules and discussion questions. Seeing everyone's reactions was absolutely priceless!

There was . . . 

laughter,



hunger,



there were feels,





and there was wanting.


There was also a Twitter Chat (#RTCG) for our read-along for everyone who read The Crown's Game, including those who didn't participate in the read-along. One lucky participant left the chat with these great prizes!





 ~The Reviews~

Everyone who posted a review, no matter what their rating was, received these cute matryoshka post-its!


Check out all of the reviews that were posted by the Read-Along participants!

5 Stars















4.5 Stars








4 Stars







3.5 Stars


3 Stars







2.5 Stars


2 Stars



1 Star

NONE!! ^___^

Reviews without Ratings





Have you read The Crown's Game? What did you think? Let me know!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic James

My TBR list is always growing and I thought it would be fun to share my anticipation for those books with all of you. This is not my own original meme; it belongs to Breaking the Spine. It specifically spotlights upcoming releases. As it implies in the title, I'll be posting this meme on Wednesdays. Please feel free to comment and let me know what books you guys are waiting on as well!


Gilded Cage by Vic James
Publisher: Del Rey Books/Random House
Expected Pub. Date: February 14th 2017
Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

For readers of Victoria Aveyard and Kiera Cass comes a darkly fantastical debut set in a modern England where magically gifted aristocrats rule and commoners are doomed to serve.

NOT ALL ARE FREE.
NOT ALL ARE EQUAL.
NOT ALL WILL BE SAVED.

Our world belongs to the Equals aristocrats with magical gifts and all commoners must serve them for ten years.
But behind the gates of England's grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England's most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of their noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family's secrets might win her liberty but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi's brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate or destroy?


I know that this is set in modern-day England, but the synopsis gave me Les Miz feels instantly.


Three storylines intertwined together with intrigue, revolution, and magic?

(I'm obsessed with musicals . . .  is it obvious? xD)

Have you guys heard of this one? Is it on your TBR? If not, it should be! Let me know your thoughts! ^_^

~About the Author~



Vic lives in London’s Notting Hill, but her life is more action-adventure than rom-com.

She studied History and English at Merton College, Oxford where Tolkien was once professor. Relocating to Rome, she completed her doctorate in the Vatican Secret Archives (they’re nothing like The Da Vinci Code), then spent five years living in Tokyo where she learned Japanese and worked as a journalist. She now writes full time.

Vic has scuba-dived on Easter Island, camped at Everest Base Camp, voyaged on one of the last mailboats to St Helena, hang-glided across Rio de Janeiro, and swum the Hellespont from Europe to Asia. But there’s little she loves more than lying in bed till midday with a good book and a supply of her favourite biscuits.

Connect with Vic: Website | Twitter | FB | Goodreads | Wattpad

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Interview with S. Usher Evans, author of The Madion War Trilogy






Hey guys, I am happy to welcome S. Usher Evans to Brittany's Book Rambles to share our interview with all of you! She is the author of many books, but today, I'm specifically highlighting The Madion War Trilogy ^_^ The sequel was just released a couple of weeks ago!


~Meet S. Usher Evans~




S. Usher Evans is an author, blogger, and witty banter aficionado. Born in Pensacola, Florida, she left the sleepy town behind for the fast-paced world of Washington, D.C.. There, she somehow landed jobs with BBC, Discovery Channel, and National Geographic Television before finally settling into a “real job” as an IT consultant. After a quarter life crisis at age 27, she decided consulting was for the birds and rekindled a childhood passion for writing novels. She sold everything she owned and moved back to Pensacola, where she currently resides with her two dogs, Zoe and Mr. Biscuit.
Evans is the author of the Razia series, Lexie Carrigan Chronicles, Madion War Trilogy, and Empath, published by Sun’s Golden Ray Publishing.
Connect with S. Usher: Website | Twitter | FB | Pinterest | Goodreads | Instagram


~Interview~

Brittany: What is your writing process like? Do you outline?

S. Usher: After writing almost ten books, I’ve come to accept that my process changes with each book. Generally though, I know the beginning and the end of the story I want to tell. Sometimes, like with my space opera series Razia, I know exactly what I want to write and it’s already plotted out in my head. Others, like with the final Madion War Trilogy book, I have this big question mark for how I’m going to get to Point B. These kind of books always give me a bit more anxiety, because I always question if I’ll ever think of something (spoiler, I usually do)


Brittany: Which authors and books have influenced you the most?

S. Usher: J.K. Rowling without a doubt. I read Harry Potter once a month from ages 13 (that was when Prisoner of Azkaban came out) to 20 (when the 6th book came out). But more than just the books, I wrote a ton of Harry Potter fan fiction, which allowed me to get feedback on my style and craft early on, and helped me become the writer I am today. Some of those same readers from Harry Potter are still my friends and beta readers today.

Brittany: What are you favorite and least favorite scenes to write?

S. Usher: I love dialogue, especially when two people are rapid-fire conversing, because that’s usually how I hear it in my head. I hate writing sex scenes, and I hate doing line edits on sex scenes more because it’s like a grammarian is standing in the corner, telling me I’m sexing wrong.


Brittany: What is the scariest thing you have ever done for fun?

S. Usher: I am a giant chicken, so I rarely do anything scary. But probably the bravest thing I do on occasion is go skiing, and then sit in the middle of the sound where a shark could eat me.

Brittany: What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

S. Usher: I ate a bunch of snails when I was in Sevilla in college. They were amazingly delicious.


Brittany: What is one material possession you can’t live without?

S. Usher: Tied for first place is my laptop and my wifi. Well, I guess I could live without wifi, but I couldn’t live without the ability to write my stories down.

Brittany: Who was your first OTP?

S. Usher: Harry and Hermione. Hermione deserved so much better than Ron.

Brittany: What fictional character (could be from a book, movie, or TV show), not from your own books, do you most identify with and why?

S. Usher: I have to actually go with Hermione again. She arrived in my life when I was in middle school, and I was the bossy know-it-all with no friends. But she had friends, so I was like “Hey, maybe there’s hope for me.”

But Liz Lemon from 30 Rock speaks to me on a spiritual level.


Brittany: Thank you, S. Usher, for visiting my blog today! I hope you guys check out all of her books but especially The Madion War Trilogy! All the book info is below ^__^


~The Madion War Trilogy~


Publisher: Sun's Golden Ray Publishing
Pub Date: April 26th, 2016
Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Prince Galian is third in line to the throne, but prefers his place as a resident at the Royal Kylaen Hospital. When his father urges him to join the military to help reclaim their colony, Galian is forced to put aside his oath to Do No Harm and fight a war he does not believe in.
Across the great Madion Sea, Captain Theo Kallistrate dreams of a day when she is no longer bound by conscription to fight for her country's independence. But when the Kylaens threaten, honor and duty call her to the front lines to fight off the oppressors.
When an air skirmish goes wrong, both Theo and Galian crash on a remote island hundreds of miles from either nation. Grievously injured, Theo must rely on Galian's medical expertise, and Galian must rely on Theo's survival skills, to live another day in a harsh and unforgiving terrain.
Can they put aside their differences long enough to survive? Or will the war that brought them to the island tear them apart?
The Island is the first in a new romance trilogy by S. Usher Evans, author of the Razia series and Empath. 


The Chasm (The Madion War #2) by S. Usher Evans
Publisher: Sun's Golden Ray Publishing
Pub Date: July 12th, 2016
Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
They survived The Island, but can they cross The Chasm?
Four months after Prince Galian was discovered alive on a remote island, he's adjusting slowly to life at the hospital under the Kylaen media's glare. His promises to Theo remain unfulfilled as fear of his father keeps him from taking concrete action. And the more he learns about the machinations in Kylae, the less sure he is that it's possible to make a difference.
Across the great Madion Sea, Major Theo Kallistrate struggles to navigate the tricky political waters of Rave's presidential staff. To make positive change for her people, she must remain relevant and interesting to the Raven media and to the president. When he asks her to deliver a speech on her supposed two-month imprisonment at Mael, she's not sure she can stomach the lies.
The Chasm is S. Usher Evans' breathtaking, fast-paced follow-up to The Island, which readers say is "not to be missed."

The Union (The Madion War #3) by S. Usher Evans
Publisher: Sun's Golden Ray Publishing
Pub Date: February 14th, 2016
Buy it: Barnes & Noble
Fifty years of war have led up to this. 
Prince Galian spends his days ministering to the sick in Kylae, but his nights strategizing how to change hearts and minds of his people. With the death camp closed, the country is becoming more volatile, and even King Grieg may not be able to maintain control over the warring factions.
Across the Great Madion Sea, Theo Kallistrate seeks an audience with the Raven rebels, rumored to be brewing insurrection against President Bayard. But they don't trust her, and progress has been achingly slow. When the war takes a major turn, Theo and Galian find themselves front and center in a political firestorm that could end with their union…or their funeral.
The Union is the final book in the Madion War Trilogy, which readers have called, "fast-paced," "compelling," and "not to be missed."

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden

My TBR list is always growing and I thought it would be fun to share my anticipation for those books with all of you. This is not my own original meme; it belongs to Breaking the Spine. It specifically spotlights upcoming releases. As it implies in the title, I'll be posting this meme on Wednesdays. Please feel free to comment and let me know what books you guys are waiting on as well!


The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Publisher: Del Rey Books/Random House
Expected Pub. Date: January 17th 2017
Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

A young woman’s family is threatened by forces both real and fantastical in this debut novel inspired by Russian fairy tales.

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, a stranger with piercing blue eyes presents a new father with a gift - a precious jewel on a delicate chain, intended for his young daughter. Uncertain of its meaning, Pytor hides the gift away and Vasya grows up a wild, willful girl, to the chagrin of her family. But when mysterious forces threaten the happiness of their village, Vasya discovers that, armed only with the necklace, she may be the only one who can keep the darkness at bay. 

Any time, you want a pitch a book to me, you just have to open up with, "It's a Russian fantasy" and I'll be like this:


What makes me even more excited for The Bear and The Nightingale is actually the author's bio. The fact that she spent time in Russia, and that this story is based on an actual girl she knew. That sounds amazing, I love it when stories find an author like this.

~About the Author~


I'm just a kid from Texas, but I had spent nearly two years living in Moscow, off and on, by the time I graduated Middlebury college, degree in hand in the spring of 2011. Between the snow in Russia and the snow in Vermont (look up Middlebury College, ok?) I was frozen stiff, and had managed to burn away all my ambition. All of it. So, lacking better ideas I went off to go work on a farm in Hawaii. To FIND MYSELF, you know? If you like sun, don't mind tents, and are ok eating a lot of papayas, I recommend this step.

While there, considerably bored (picking Macadmia nuts might be very zen, but it's not very interesting) I started writing a book. I set it in Russia because I had spent a lot of time there, and because there was Ukrainian family at the farm next to mine whose daughter was named Vasilisa. They called her Vasya. She had green eyes and she and I would chase chickens among the avocado trees. She became my heroine, and so my story started. I didn't know how to write a book. I thought it would be a cool thing to do. I just kept on haphazardly stringing events together. I had so much fun. Early drafts were terrible. There's a chapter posted in my extras. Don't laugh.

Connect with Katherine: Website | Twitter | Instagram | FB | Pinterest

What do you guys think of this one? Have you heard of it?  Is it on your TBR already? I'd love to know ^_^

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess ARC Review + Giveaway

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
Published by Random House BFYR
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Pre-Order: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. 
Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she's shocked when instead of being executed, she's invited to train as one of Her Majesty's royal sorcerers.
Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the chosen one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.
But Henrietta Howel is not the chosen one.
As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, what does it mean to not be the one? And how much will she risk to save the city--and the one she loves?
Exhilarating and gripping, Jessica Cluess's spellbinding fantasy introduces Henrietta Howel, a powerful, unforgettable heroine, and an entertaining world filled with magic, monsters, and mayhem.

A Shadow Bright and Burning personifies why I love the fantasy genre so much. It is exactly what it promises its readers—a powerful female MC, swoony boys, and fantastical magic—all set in Victorian London. Sounds amazing, right? This book gave me so many Howl's Moving Castle feels with its steampunky and enchanted world. The writing has an old world charm with magic laced throughout the words. Can you tell the magic was my favorite part of this book? xD


There are multiple ship options in this book and it makes my heart a little wary. Especially since I like two of the possible options! Despite there being multiple ship choices, romance is definitely on the backburner in this story. The book mainly focuses on Henrietta—our heroine—learning more about herself and her powers. I did want a little bit more from the plot and think some things could be better defined but all in all, I truly enjoyed this book and hope you guys will check this one out!

Strengths/Likes:

1) A Shadow Bright and Burning reminds me so much of Howl's Moving Castle in all the best ways. The writing style, the magic, and even Henrietta reminds me of Sophie a lot.


So, if you love Howl's Moving Castle book, movie, or both—you need this book. Trust me!

2) The world building is phenomenal! With Jessica's words, the setting flows off the pages. Obviously, I love books that are set in Victorian London but Jessica adds magic to this inspirational setting. Though not all of it is puppies and rainbows, you have a clear picture of what everything looks like. 

3) All of the magical elements are extremely unique! We have all seen characters with elemental powers but we haven't seen them fight against Ancients—beings that seem to come from the depths of hell. The magical battles are so intense and vivid. Those scenes had my heart racing and adrenaline coursing through my veins. This book has everything I love about the fantasy genre, and it's fantastic!


4) Sassy, independent, female main character. Henrietta doesn't sit around and wait for things to happen, she makes plans and she takes care of her loved ones, all while being a total bad-ass. No matter what the men in her life tell her to do, she stays true to herself and makes the choices that are best for her.

*BAMF*

5) Just as the synopsis promises, there are multiple swoony guys in this book! My personal favorites are Blackwood and Rook. I would love to add these two to my personal harem xD. Obviously I have a thing for brooding men because both of these characters have dark clouds that hang over them, but you won't see them whining about it! Either way, both are in desperate need of a hug.

Ah, Blackwood and Rook... *swoons*



Weaknesses/Dislikes:

1) I don't quite understand the difference between sorcerers and magicians. It doesn't seem that the characters themselves understand the divide either, so I think this confusion is intentional. However, it didn't make sense to me how someone could really tell the difference between the two when comparing their magical abilities. It seemed more like a difference in social status.

2) I wanted more from the plot. A Shadow Bright and Burning has a lot of setup, and we get to follow Henrietta as she trains and gains more control over her power, plus we get some background on the other characters. However, I would have liked a bit more action to push the plot forward.

Favorite Quotes:






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