Blog Tour: Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway of Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking

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Title:
Between the Blade and the Heart

Author: Amanda Hocking
Published by: Wednesday Books
Publication date: January 2, 20
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

SUMMARY:

When the fate of the world is at stake
Loyalties will be tested

Game of Thrones meets Blade Runner in this commanding new YA fantasy inspired by Norse Mythology from New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking.

As one of Odin’s Valkyries, Malin’s greatest responsibility is to slay immortals and return them to the underworld. But when she unearths a secret that could unravel the balance of all she knows, Malin along with her best friend and her ex-girlfriend must decide where their loyalties lie. And if helping the blue-eyed boy Asher enact his revenge is worth the risk—to the world and her heart.  

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble  / Books-A-Million / IndieBound / Powells

 

about the author
Amanda Hocking NEW--credit Mariah Paaverud with Chimera Photography
Amanda Hocking is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.

Social Links:

Author Website: http://www.worldofamandahocking.com/
Twitter: @Amanda_Hocking
Facebook: @AmandaHockingFans
Author Blog

 


raving review

I hope you are ready for a kickass and snarky heroine because Between the Blade and the Heart is here to deliver. One of my favorite mythologies to read and study is on Valkyries, and this book did not disappoint. Adding to the Valkyrie myth, Amanda Hocking adds her own twist with a modern-day spin.  

Between the Blade and the Heart consists of a lot of world-building and understanding the duties of Valkyries. And beyond this alluring set up is Malin, a Valkyrie in training whose world is turned upside down when she finds out that a very close and fellow Valkyrie did not dispose of an immortal to the Afterlife. This then leads to a chance of a butterfly effect and devastating results. From there Malin not only tries to understand her duty as a Valkyrie, but she also has to come face-to-face with secrets, danger, and the consequences of choice. Malin is hard to read sometimes, because she is always over-analyzing situations, but overall she is always trying to learn, understand, and mature. 

I loved that Between the Blade and the Heart is rich with an elaborate world, but the pacing is quite slow. It took me a few chapters to actually start enjoying the story. Once the book picked up pace, Malin’s determination and fierceness was a great motivator to continue the story and find out what happens next in this world that meshes mortals and immortals.  

3 star rating

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EXCERPT

CHAPTER 1:

The air reeked of fermented fish and rotten fruit, thanks to the overflowing dumpster from the restaurant behind us. The polluted alley felt narrow and claustrophobic, sandwiched between skyscrapers.

In the city, it was never quiet or peaceful, even at three in the morning. There were more than thirty million humans and supernatural beings coexisting, living on top of each other. It was the only life I’d ever really known, but the noise of the congestion grated on me tonight.

My eyes were locked on the flickering neon lights of the gambling parlor across the street. The u in Shibuya had gone out, so the sign flashed SHIB YA at me.

The sword sheathed at my side felt heavy, and my body felt restless and electric. I couldn’t keep from fidgeting and cracked my knuckles.

“He’ll be here soon,” my mother, Marlow, assured me. She leaned back against the brick wall beside me, casually eating large jackfruit seeds from a brown paper sack. Always bring a snack on a stakeout was one of her first lessons, but I was far too nervous and excited to eat.

The thick cowl of her frayed black sweater had been pulled up like a hood, covering her cropped blond hair from the icy mist that fell on us. Her tall leather boots only went to her calf, thanks to her long legs. Her style tended to be monochromatic—black on black on black—aside from the shock of dark red lipstick.

My mother was only a few years shy of her fiftieth birthday, with almost thirty years of experience working as a Valkyrie, and she was still as strong and vital as ever. On her hip, her sword Mördare glowed a dull red through its sheath.

The sword of the Valkyries was one that appeared as if it had been broken in half—its blade only a foot long before stopping at a sharp angle. Mördare’s blade was several thousand years old, forged in fires to look like red glass that would glow when the time was nigh.

My sword was called Sigrún, a present on my eighteenth birthday from Marlow. It was a bit shorter than Mördare, with a thicker blade, so it appeared stubby and fat. The handle was black utilitarian, a replacement that my mom had had custom-­made from an army supply store, to match her own.

The ancient blade appeared almost black, but as it grew closer to its target, it would glow a vibrant purple. For the past hour that we’d been waiting on our stakeout, Sigrún had been glowing dully on my hip.

The mist grew heavier, soaking my long black hair. I kept the left side of my head shaved, parting my hair over to the right, and my scalp should’ve been freezing from the cold, but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel anything.

It had begun—the instinct of the Valkyrie, pushing aside my humanity to become a weapon. When the Valkyrie in me took over, I was little more than a scythe for the Grim Reaper of the gods.

“He’s coming,” Marlow said behind me, but I already knew.

The world fell into hyperfocus, and I could see every droplet of rain as it splashed toward the ground. Every sound echoed through me, from the bird flapping its wings a block away, to the club door as it groaned open.

Eleazar Bélanger stumbled out, his heavy feet clomping in the puddles. He was chubby and short, barely over four feet tall, and he would’ve appeared to be an average middle-­aged man if it wasn’t for the two knobby horns that stuck out on either side of his forehead. Graying tufts of black hair stuck out from under a bright red cap, and as he walked ahead, he had a noticeable limp favoring his right leg.

He was a Trasgu, a troublemaking goblin, and his appearance belied the strength and cunning that lurked within him. He was over three hundred years old, and today would be the day he died.

I waited in the shadows of the alley for him to cross the street. A coughing fit caused him to double over, and he braced himself against the brick wall.

I approached him quietly—this all went easier when they didn’t have time to prepare. He took off his hat to use it to wipe the snot from his nose, and when he looked up at me, his green eyes flashed with understanding.

“It’s you,” Eleazar said in a weak, craggy voice. We’d never met, and I doubt he’d ever seen me before, but he recognized me, the way they all did when their time was up.

“Eleazar Bélanger, you have been chosen to die,” I said, reciting my script, the words automatic and cold on my lips. “It is my duty to return you to the darkness from whence you came.”

“No, wait!” He held up his pudgy hands at me. “I have money. I can pay you. We can work this out.”

“This is not my decision to make,” I said as I pulled the sword from my sheath.

His eyes widened as he realized I couldn’t be bargained with. For a moment I thought he might just accept his fate, but they rarely did. He bowed his head and ran at me like a goat. He was stronger than he looked and caused me to stumble back a step, but he didn’t have anywhere to go.

My mother stood blocking the mouth of the alley, in case I needed her. Eleazar tried to run toward the other end, but his leg slowed him, and I easily overtook him. Using the handle of my sword, I cracked him on the back of the skull, and he fell to the ground on his knees.

Sigrún glowed brightly, with light shining out from it and causing the air to glow purple around us. Eleazar mumbled a prayer to the Vanir gods. I held the sword with both hands, and I struck it across his neck, decapitating him.

And then, finally, the electricity that had filled my body, making my muscles quiver and my bones ache, left me, and I breathed in deeply. The corpse of an immortal goblin lay in a puddle at my feet, and I felt nothing but relief.

“It was a good return,” my mother said, and put her hand on my shoulder. “You did well, Malin.”

Copyright © 2018 by Amanda Hocking in Between the Blade and the Heart and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.

giveaway

WIN A PAPERBACK COPY OF BETWEEN THE BLADE AND THE HEART

***Giveaway ends January 9, 2018 and is only open to US Residents.
An email will be sent to the Winner and you have 48 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen.
The Winner will be announced within 48 hours at the end of the giveaway on my Twitter account and/or through a blog comment.
Giveaway is organized by Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile and sponsored by Wednesday Books who will provide the prize.
Not Responsible for lost, stolen, or misdirected prizes.***

HOW TO ENTER:

  1. Comment below: Why are you excited to read Between the Blade and the Heart? (Comment = one entry to win); and/or
  2. Follow me through my social links: WordPress, Twitter, and/or Instagram. (Comment below with which handles/names you followed me with and which social outlet you followed me on. Or give me a shout out on the social media outlet you followed me on referencing the blog giveaway). You will receive one entry for each social outlet you use to follow me.

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NOTE:  Thank you to Wednesday Books for providing me an e-galley/e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

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Waiting on Wednesday: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

waiting on wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that highlights pre-publication/upcoming releases that readers cannot wait to get their hands on. It is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

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Title: Spinning Silver
Author: Naomi Novik
Publication date: July 10, 2018
Publisher: Del Rey
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Retelling

Synopsis

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders… but her father isn’t a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife’s dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty–until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers’ pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed–and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.

But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it’s worth–especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble  | The Book Depository

Top Ten Tuesday: Top New-to-Me/Debut Authors I Read in 2017

HOSTED by The Broke and the Bookish


This week’s topic is…

Top Ten New-To-Me/Debut Authors I Read In 2017

(CLICK ON THE BOOK COVER TO BE LINKED TO ITS GOODREADS’ PAGE)

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S. Jae-Jones

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Kerry Winfrey

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Rin Chupeco

Letters to the Lost
Brigid Kemmerer

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Elly Blake

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Stephanie Garber

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Amanda Lovelace

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Tricia Levenseller

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Jennifer Mathieu

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Sylvain Neuvel

What are some new authors that you discovered in 2017?

 

 

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace

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Title: The Princess Saves Herself in this One
Author: Amanda Lovelace
Publication date: April 23, 2016, March 23, 2017
Publisher:  Andrews McMeel Publishing
Genres: Poetry, Feminism, Non-Fiction
Format: e-ARC/Netgalley and purchased a print copy

 

About the Book:

the princess saves herself in this one is a collection of poetry about resilience. It is about writing your own ending.

A poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, & you. the princess, the damsel, & the queen piece together the life of the author in three stages, while you serves as a note to the reader & all of humankind. Explores life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


I have been holding out on reviewing this book for the longest time, because I don’t know where to start. The Princess Saves Herself In This One is empowering and emotional and breathtaking. Amanda Lovelace’s words are raw, gritty, realistic, and brutally honest. I loved how one poem that portrays vulnerability can shatter you into a million pieces but then another poem could make you feel loved and whole again.

Lovelace’s words strike a definitive aurora of emotions. Her words are passionate and striking and grows stronger with each word you read. While reading this collection of poetry, I was constantly marking up pages of favorite lines and favorite poems–I could not just pick one.

Overall, I found The Princess Saves Herself In This One to be beautiful and emotional. Lovelace has a special craft for poetry and I cannot wait to read more of her work in the future. I felt like I was back in college and falling in love with my all favorite female poets, like Anne Sexton, Louise Glück, and Sylvia Plath, all over again.

star rating

 

NOTE: Thank you to Netgalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for providing me an e-galley/e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

 

Waiting on Wednesday: Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

waiting on wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that highlights pre-publication/upcoming releases that readers cannot wait to get their hands on. It is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

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Title: Ace of Shades
Author: Amanda Foody
Publication date: April 10, 2018
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Synopsis

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…
and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems. 

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Review: Everless by Sara Holland

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Title: 
Everless
Author: Sara Holland
Published by: HarperTeen
Publication date: January 2, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy 

Synopsis:

In the land of Sempera, time is extracted from blood and used as payment. Jules Ember and her father were once servants at Everless, the wealthy Gerling family’s estate, but were cast out after of a fateful accident a decade ago. Now, Jules’s father is reaching his last hour, and she will do anything to save him. Desperate to earn time, she arrives at the palace as it prepares for a royal wedding, ready to begin her search into childhood secrets that she once believed to be no more than myths. As she uncovers lost truths, Jules spirals deeper into a past she hardly recognizes, and faces an ancient and dangerous foe who threatens her future and the future of time itself.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble  /  Book Depository


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Everless is fantasy read that focuses on a unique concept of time being used as currency. I love that not only is family important in the book, but the main character also values friendships, old and new. This book contains a lot of layers, and through each chapter something new, and oftentimes surprising, is unveiled. 

Jules, the protagonist, is very kindhearted, selfless, and giving. I had a hard time connecting with Jules, because sometimes I found her to be a bit childish and very naive. She focuses a lot on her past (which is foggy at times); I kept hoping she would open her eyes and mind up to her surroundings, but she is very straight and narrow. Luckily her eyes open more toward the end of the book and she becomes more open-minded and acknowledges that not everything is black and white.  

Although there are several great twists in Everless, I found the storyline and the main character quite predictable. But overall I loved the fantasy elements that were sprinkled in with some alchemist concepts. Of course, I loved that romance was not the highlight of the book, but it was still there and I can definitely see my favorite trope of hate-to-love relationship blooming. The last 50 pages are action-packed with unraveling twists and secrets. I cannot wait to see what happens in the next book and I look forward to learning more about Liam, Jules “enemy,” and his role in Jules’ future. 

3 star rating

NOTE:  I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I won the advanced reader’s copy from a Twitter giveaway sponsored by Glasstown Entertainment, and I reviewed the book at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine. A huge thank you to Glasstown Entertainment for the ARC.