Review // White Stag by Kara Barbieri

Monday, January 14, 2019

White Stag by Kara Barbieri
Permafrost #1
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: January 8th, 2019
Rating: 2 Stars
Source: Netgalley
Format: eARC
Pages: 368

Summary (from Goodreads):

The first book in a brutally stunning series where a young girl finds herself becoming more monster than human and must uncover dangerous truths about who she is and the place that has become her home.

As the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke—as the only survivor—was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren.

Janneke’s survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King’s death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows him that a little humanity isn’t bad—especially when it comes to those you care about.

Through every battle they survive, Janneke’s loyalty to Soren deepens. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling.

**I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review**

Trigger warning for mentions of rape.

White Stag is basically a story that follows Janneke, a human thrall to a Goblin master, as he goes on the Hunt, trying to become the next Erlking.

Janneke has lived in the Permafrost, or the chilly world of the goblins, for about 100 years. The synopsis of this book is a bit misleading, I think, because it made me think that it would moreso follow Janneke as she is taken from the human world into the Permafrost, but actually she has been a thrall in the Permafrost for almost 100 years now. This book picks up as Janneke is accompanying Soren to wait for the Erlking to die and the White Stag to run off so the goblins can chase it and find out who the next Erlking will be. It also turns out that she is adapting so well to living in the Permafrost that she is losing her humanity and becoming a Goblin herself.

I liked Janneke well enough. She has really found herself in a conundrum. She finds herself becoming a monster, but some events in this book have her questioning what her definition of a monster is and whether it is actually strictly goblin or if there's more to it than that. She is also struggling with what happened to her as she was taken from the human world. The goblin that took her in brutally raped her and mutilated one of her breasts while he was at it.

These two facts were brought up over and over and over again. And while I definitely sympathize with Janneke and understand why she hates Lydian so much and wants to Soren to be Erlking over him, I don't think these facts needed to be thrust in our faces so often. What happened to her was horrible and Lydian is definitely a bastard, and perhaps having to be around him so much with the Hunt going on is bringing back traumatic memories for her, but it was still brought up way more than was truly necessary.

Janneke is definitely strong to be able to survive what she has and to live among the Goblins for so long without dying. She is also dealing with leftover feelings of guilt about surviving the attack on her village while her entire family and everyone else was slaughtered. She is wondering what her loved ones would think of her as she's becoming less human. She really needs to catch a break.

Soren is the love interest and Janneke's 'master'. But he doesn't really treat her so much like a thrall. It has been a week or so since I finished this book and I honestly don't remember that much about Soren. I did like him while I was reading the story and he wasn't totally awful and I liked him and Janneke together, but he was not a super interesting character. There was nothing to him, he definitely needed a lot of development.

The other important character is the villain, Lydian. He is the one who, I think, led the attack on Janneke's village and originally took her in as a thrall. He would frequently ask her things like, "What happens when the serpent stops eating it's tail?" And it's clearly something important to Lydian, he thinks it's something that could disrupt their world. It's not something that really gets any attention, but at the end of the book there is a vague mention of it. I'm still confused about this part of the book?

While I did like the romance in this book, it really wasn't exciting. It didn't feel like anything special, and it was kinda forgettable.

There is next to no world building in this book. I'm confused about most aspects of this world in general.

I'm confused about the thralls. Besides Janneke, I remember one other thrall being mentioned. Goblins seem to need human thralls to perform tasks for them that they can't do for themselves. I think it is a concept similar to in An Enchantment of Ravens where the fae can't do "Craft" so instead they pay humans to do these things for them. But in this book, goblins just kidnap humans to perform these tasks for them. But I don't recall there ever being any kind of explanation as to what kind of tasks goblins can't perform and why? I feel like that is important to the overall concept of thralls? It seems like, if there are tasks that they can't perform themselves, goblins would need thralls, and therefore there should be more mentions of them? Basically the task that Janneke performs for Soren is listening/spying. Probably not something that he physically cannot do himself.

So, the overall plot of the book is that they are on the Hunt to determine the new Erlking. But if I remember correctly, at the beginning, it kind of sounded like there would be so many groups on this Hunt, trying to kill the stag. And it kind of sounded like it could be dangerous? But besides the group that she is in, they meet one other group of goblins on their overall journey. That's not really what I was expecting, I guess. They find some trouble from some creatures that I think were supposed to be dragons, but I thought they were just giant worms like that one huge worm that causes trouble in some episode of Spongebob. That's what I was picturing. There were several other creatures that throw a wrench into their plans too, but I was thinking that other goblins would be more of a problem than they were.

Another thing, for a book that is supposed to overall kind of be a journey, there really aren't much for traveling scenes. There are a few, but for the most part it felt to me like they were in one place, then oh, they were in another, then all of a sudden they were in yet another.

Lastly, the goblins in this book were described as being beautiful and that just doesn't fit with everything I think I know about goblins. It sounds like it might be some kind of glamour, but still, that doesn't feel right.

Overall, I found this book fun to read at the moment. But after the fact, I am left with a lot of questions and not a lot of recollection of what actually happened in this book. The premise of the Hunt and finding the next Erlking is super interesting, but the characters are mostly boring and the world and journey are too.

I am kind of curious to see what happens in the future of this series, but probably not curious enough to pay money to find out. This is not a book that I would personally recommend to someone.

Have you read White Stag yet? What did you think of it?

Review // Lion Cub by JP Harker

Monday, January 7, 2019

Lion Cub by JP Harker
The Caledon Saga #3
Publisher: JPH
Publication Date: July 12th, 2018
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Author
Format: Paperback
Pages: 736

Summary (from Goodreads):

Lucius Dessida, the only son of Rhianwyn, has lived among the Gaians for nine years in a bid to maintain the Caledon’s peace, though his dual heritage means life in Tamora is more complex than he had thought. But Lucius’ city worries will soon be put into harsh perspective. Prosperity breeds envy, and easy times breed complacency, and the rich lands of the Caledon offer a ripe target to those who simply take what they want.
Winds of war blow from the north, and Merian of the Gorvicae will be first to feel their chill. The brutal Sarracs have attacked without warning, and Taliesyn seems content to leave the frontier to its own defences. With the Wildcat far away and her own chieftain unwilling to help, Merian may be forced to look elsewhere for aid…

Trigger warnings for rape and violence.

The events of Lion Cub take place about 15 years after Leaping Wolf. Lucan has been living in Tamora with his Gaian aunt for the past nine years. Rhia is still leading the Caderyn and the Caledon. Gawan is an ornery old man. The Gorvicae are being overrun by Sarracs, who are butchering their people and taking their land while Taliesyn is holed up in his longhall with his cohort of the Dragon legion, like.. scared of his own shadow at this point, refusing to acknowledge this problem or offer aid to his people.

As usual, this book is told through multiple perspectives, mostly that of Lucan, a young Gorvicae girl called Merian, and Agmund, the leader of the Sarrac raiders. There were a few others, but these were the main ones.

So, all of the books deal heavily with war. The first two felt like they dealt a lot with different aspects of tribal politics, but I feel like this one seemed to deal heavily with sex and how it's viewed in different groups? Like, not so much with like the Caledon tribes because the way they view it has kind of been talked about in previous books. But like how the raiding Sarracs and the Gaians do.

The Sarracs are invading Gorvicae lands and taking cities trying to work their way toward the capital.  So they are also taking any Gorvicae women they can back to their camp for all the warriors to have their way with. I don't recall this being a thing that any of the Caledon tribes practiced, at least not so notably and brutally, if at all. I want to say that maybe they aren't like this in their everyday, regular, not-raiding lives, but idk, they're a bad bunch. And Agmund wants the Gorvicae girl he took in battle to bear him strong sons, so they are probably awful all the time and not just sometimes.

The Gaians seem to be pretty free sexually, so long as their first time is with someone on equal standing to them, then they are free to do whatever with almost whoever. Like, Lucan and his friends frequent this sex club type place, but cannot partake of all of it's pleasures until they have been with someone of equal standing to them.

So that was all kind of interesting.

Character-wise, I really liked Lucan and Merian. Lucan is waiting for the day he's called back to Bryngarth to fulfill his duties to his people. He really does not seem terribly interested in this, he likes his life in Tamora. He likes his friends and doesn't want to leave his life there behind. It seems like whatever is going on in his life, he always has the little angel on one shoulder and the little devil on the other. He always seems to know what it is he should be doing and what is right, but can't always talk himself out of or resist temptations. He might make some questionable choices in his journey, but overall I think he does the right thing... after a lot of back and forth with himself. He seems to be a natural leader.

Merian is a warrior for the Gorvicae who is battling the invading Sarracs. She has watched many of her fellow tribesman, friends, and loved ones die and is doing whatever she can to help rid her land of them. After going to Taliesyn and telling him of exactly what is happening and why they need aid and getting a mostly unhelpful response, she gets sent to Tamora to go over Taliesyn's head to ask Lucan for help herself. She really seems to rise up to whatever challenge is put in front of her and gives everything her best shot, especially when her people are at risk and even if she's not particularly comfortable with the methods of the plan.

And Sagris. How has that horrible little sorcerer managed to survive three books?! Someone needs to knock him down like six pegs. He's entirely too confident. I can't tell if his little plans go south because unexpected things pop up or if he is planning for every little mishap in whatever it is he's doing in the long term. Whatever is going on, I don't like it.

There is a little bit of a romance in this book, but completely expectedly, none of it is good or happily ever after material.

If I was going to complain about anything, I would say that the beginning felt like it dragged a little bit. Like, all the stuff that was happening in Tamora. It was interesting, but felt long. But that could also be because I like parts dealing with the tribes better than the Gaians. But I did quite like Lucan's friend group, which helped.

Overall, this book was interesting, brutal, heartbreaking. It made me cry twice and I am actually terrified to like any of the characters because things just don't go well for anyone in this series.

I am definitely still excited to continue on with this series and can't wait for the next book!

If you haven't read this series yet, you should go do it and then come talk to me about it!

2019 Reading "Goals"

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Hello everyone! Today I am here to talk about all the goals that I will not be making this year! Everyone is talking about their goals for the year and I just don't think that I am going to do that this year because I know me and I know I won't stick to them. Goals? I don't know her.

I mean, I set my Goodreads goal for 52 books this year, but like.. if I hit it, I hit it. I don't think I've ever actually hit one of my Goodreads goals so I'm not super pressed about actually getting there either way.

Last year one of my goals was to read more books outside of just YA. I am going to try to do that again mostly because it kind of ties in with the one other thing that I want to try harder at this year, which is to read more books that I actually own. I did SUCH a good job at buying books outside of YA last year, but did I read any of them?? No.

I'm not really gonna call any of this a goal just because then it won't be so disappointing at the end of the year when I inevitably don't do any of it.

So, yeah, here are all of the unread books that I own that I would like to try to either read or purge this year:
  1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling
  2. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Screenplay by JK Rowling
  3. The Crimes of Grindelwald Screenplay by JK Rowling
  4. Replica by Lauren Oliver
  5. Broken Things by Lauren Oliver
  6. Sea Witch by Sarah Henning
  7. Whisper of the Tide by Sarah Tolcser 
  8. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  9. Because You Love to Hate Me by Amerie
  10. Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
  11. King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard
  12. War Storm by Victoria Aveyard
  13. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
  14. Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
  15. Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
  16. Red Rising by Pierce Brown
  17. The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli
  18. The Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
  19. Windwitch by Susan Dennard
  20. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  21. The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst
  22. The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton
  23. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  24. The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  25. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  26. Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff
  27. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
  28. Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas
  29. The Rose and the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh
  30. Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
  31. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
  32. The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry
  33. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
  34. The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
  35. Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
  36. Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen
  37. Lion Heart by A.C. Gaughen
  38. After the Fall by Kate Hart
  39. For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig
  40. Hocus Locus and the All-New Sequel by A.W. Jantha
  41. Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay
  42. Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan
  43. Vitro by Jessica Khoury
  44. Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake
  45. This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee
  46. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
  47. Bygone Badass Broads by Mackenzi Lee
  48. The Rose Society by Marie Lu
  49. The Midnight Star by Marie Lu
  50. Warcross by Marie Lu
  51. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
  52. Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier
  53. A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
  54. Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis
  55. This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis
  56. My Lady Jane by Jodi Meadows, Cynthia Hand, and Brodi Ashton
  57. Before She Ignites by Jodie Meadows
  58. The Rattled Bones by S.M. Parker
  59. The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson
  60. Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston
  61. The Queen's Rising by Rebecca Ross
  62. The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
  63. To Right the Wrongs by Sheryl Scarborough
  64. This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
  65. Vicious by V.E. Schwab
  66. Vengeful by V.E. Schwab
  67. The Truth Beneath the Lies by Amanda Searcy
  68. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
  69. Hunted by Meagan Spooner
  70. Sadie by Courtney Summers
  71. Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton
  72. Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
  73. Girls Who Code by Reshma Saujani
  74. Monstress vol. 2 by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
  75. Monstress vol. 3 by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
  76. History vs. Women: The Defiant Lives That They Don't Want You to Know by Anita Sarkeesian and Ebony Adams
  77. Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World by Kelly Jensen
  78. Wolf Children by Mamoru Hosada and Yuu
  79. Children of the Whales vol. 1 by Abi Umeda
  80. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic vol. 2 by Shinobu Ohtaka
  81. Orange: The Complete Collection vol. 1 by Ichigo Takano
  82. Log Horizon: The Beginning of Another World by Mamare Touno and Kazuhiro Hara
  83. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  84. Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennet
  85. Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
  86. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
  87. The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
  88. The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
  89. The Girl of Fire and Thorns Stories by Rae Carson
  90. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  91. Fire by Kristin Cashore
  92. Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
  93. The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
  94. Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
  95. A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard
  96. Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard
  97. My Mad Fat Diary by Rae Earl
  98. The Union by S. Usher Evans
  99. The Prince and the Heiress by S. Usher Evans
  100. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  101. The War Outside by Monica Hesse
  102. Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover
  103. Confess by Colleen Hoover
  104. November 9 by Colleen Hoover
  105. Splintered by A.G. Howard
  106. Unhinged by A.G. Howard
  107. Ensnared by A.G. Howard
  108. Untamed by A.G. Howard
  109. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
  110. More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer
  111. Jade City by Fonda Lee
  112. Atonement by Ian McEwan
  113. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  114. For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
  115. Cruising Altitude by Heather Poole
  116. Across the Universe by Beth Revis
  117. Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
  118. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
  119. The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski
  120. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
  121. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
  122. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
  123. A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
  124. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
  125. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
  126. A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas
  127. The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
  128. The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas
  129. The Fairest of Them All by Carolyn Turgeon
  130. Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
  131. Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
  132. The Last Life of Prince Alastor by Alexandra Bracken
I have been doing a lot of purging lately, but there are a few books that I have that I'm pretty sure that I am just going to end up getting rid of, but I'm still in the denial stage where I'm telling myself that I am still absolutely going to read that book.

What are your 2019 goals if you made any? Are there any books on this list that you would recommend I get to ASAP?

Blog Tour // White Stag by Kara Barbieri Excerpt

Friday, January 4, 2019

White Stag by Kara Barbieri
Permafrost #1
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: January 8th, 2019
Pages: 368



White Stag, the first book in a brutally stunning series by Kara Barbieri, involves a young girl who finds herself becoming more monster than human and must uncover dangerous truths about who she is and the place that has become her home. 

As the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke—as the only survivor—was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren.

Janneke’s survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King’s death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows him that a little humanity isn’t bad—especially when it comes to those you care about.

Through every battle they survive, Janneke’s loyalty to Soren deepens. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling.


Author’s Twitter handle: @PandeanPanic

Kara Barbieri is a writer living in the tiny town of Hayward, Wisconsin. An avid
fantasy fan, she began writing White Stag at eighteen and posting it to Wattpad
soon after under the name of ‘Pandean’. When she’s not writing, you can find her
marathoning Buffy the Vampire Slayer, reviving gothic fashion, and jamming to



THE FIRST THING I learned as a hunter was how to hide. There was a skill in disappearing in the trees like the wind and merging into the river like stones; masquerading yourself as something you weren’t was what kept you alive in the end. Most humans didn’t think the masquerade was as important as the kill, and most humans ended up paying for it with their lifeblood.

Here, as the only mortal in a hall of monsters, I was very glad that I was not most humans.

I kept my steps silent and my back straight as I passed beneath the white marble pillars. My eyes flickered around me every so often, counting hallways, retracing my steps, so I could escape at a moment’s notice. The Erlking’s palace was treacherous, full of twists and turns, stairways that led into nowhere, and places where the hallways dropped to gaping chasms. According to Soren, there were also hollow spaces in the walls where you could slink around unnoticed to the mundane and the monstrous eye, but you could hear and see all that went on in the open world. The lair of a king, I thought bitterly. I dared not say it out loud in case someone was near. But beside me, Soren sensed my disgust and made a sound deep in his throat. It could’ve been agreement.

Soren examined his king’s palace with the usual contempt; his cold, calculating eyes took in everything and betrayed nothing. His lips turned down in a frown that was almost etched permanently into his face. Sometimes I forgot he was capable of other expressions. He didn’t even smile when he was killing things; as far as goblins went, that was a symptom of chronic depression. He lifted his bored gaze at the gurgling, choking sound coming from his right, and it took all my willpower not to follow his line of sight. When I felt the subtle whoosh of power transfer from one body to the next, my fingers twitched to where I’d slung my bow, only to remember too late that it had been left at the entrance of the keep in accordance with ancient tradition.

A scream echoed off the cavernous passageways as we made our way to the great hall where everyone gathered. It sent chills down my spine with its shrillness before it was abruptly cut off. Somehow, that made me shiver even more. Ancient tradition and custom aside, nothing could stop a goblin from killing you if that was what they desired. My hand reached for my nonexistent bow again, only to be captured by cold, pale fingers.

Soren’s upper lip curled, but his voice was low and steady. “The next time you reach for a weapon that isn’t there might be the last time you have hands to reach with,” he warned. “A move like that will invite conflict.”

I yanked myself away from his grip and suppressed the urge to wipe my hand on my tunic like a child wiping away cooties. “Force of habit.”

Soren shook his head slightly before continuing on, his frown deepening with each step he took.

“Don’t look so excited. Someone might get the wrong idea.”

He raised a fine white eyebrow at me. “I don’t look excited. I’m scowling.”

I bit back a sigh. “It’s sarcasm.”

“I’ve told you before, I don’t understand it,” he said.

“None of goblinkind understands sarcasm,” I said. “In another hundred years I’m going to lose my understanding completely.”

Another hundred years. It hadn’t hit me yet, not until I said it out loud. Another hundred years. It had been a hundred years since my village was slaughtered, a hundred years as a thrall in Soren’s service. Well, ninety-nine years and eight months, anyway, but who’s counting? Despite the century passing by, I still looked the same as I had when I was forcefully brought into this cursed land. Or, at least, mostly; the scars on my chest hadn’t been there a hundred years ago, and the now-hollow spot where my right breast should have been burned. The four months when I’d belonged to another were not something I liked to think about. I still woke up screaming from nightmares about it. My throat went dry and I swallowed. Soren isn’t Lydian.

“You look tense,” Soren said, breaking me out of my thoughts. I’d crossed my arms over my chest. Not good. A movement like that was a sign of weakness. It was obvious to everyone that I was the weakest being here, but showing it would do me no good.

“I’m fine,” I said. “I just don’t like this place.”

“Hmm,” Soren said, eyes flickering around the hall. “It does lack a certain touch.”

“What does that even mean?” I asked.

“The entire design of the palace is trite and overdone.”

I blinked. “Okay, then.”

By now we’d entered the great hall where the reception was held. Every hundred years, the goblins were required to visit the Erlking and swear their fealty. Of course, their loyalty only extended to him as long as he was the most powerful—goblins weren’t the type of creature to follow someone weaker than themselves.

The palace, for what it was worth, was much grander than most other parts of the goblin domain. Soren’s manor was all wood, stone, and ice, permanently freezing. Nothing grew—I knew because I had tried multiple times to start a garden—but the roots never took to the Permafrost. Here, it was warm, though not warm enough that I couldn’t feel the aching chill deep in my bones. The walls were made of pure white marble with intricate designs far above what a goblin was capable of creating, and streaked with yellow and red gold like open veins. It was obviously made by humans. Goblinkind were incredible predators and hunters, gifted by the Permafrost itself, but like all creatures, they had their flaws. The inability to create anything that wasn’t used for destruction was one of the main reasons humankind were often stolen from their lands on raids and put to work in the Permafrost.

Soren’s scowl deepened as we passed under a canopy of ice wrought to look like vines and flowers. “I feel like I need to vomit,” he said.

I stopped in my tracks. “Really?” I swore, if I ended up having to clean up Soren’s vomit …

He glanced at me, a playful light in his lilac eyes. “Sarcasm? Did I do it right?”

“No.” I forced myself not to roll my eyes. “Sarcasm would be when you use irony to show your contempt.”

“Irony?” He shook his head, his long white hair falling into his face.

“Saying one thing when you mean the other, dramatically.”

“This is beneath me,” he muttered. Then, even quieter, he said, “This place is in dire need of a redecoration.”

“I’m not even entirely sure what to say to that.” With those words, he flashed me a wicked grin that said little and suggested much. I turned away, actually rolling my eyes this time. For a powerful goblin lord, Soren definitely had the ability to act utterly childish. It could be almost endearing at times. This, however, was not one of those times.

In the hall, the gazes on the back of my neck were sharp as knives. I kept my head straight, trying my hardest not to pay attention to the wolfish faces of the other attendees.

From a distance they could almost be mistaken for human. They varied in size and shape and the color of their skin, hair, and eyes much like humans did. But even so, there was a sharpness to their features, a wildness, that could never be mistaken for human. The figures dressed in hunting leathers, long and lean, would only seek to torment me if I paid them any attention. As the only human in the hall, I was a curiosity. After all, what self-respecting goblin would bring a thrall to an event as important as this? Thatcould very easily get me killed, and I wasn’t planning on dying anytime soon. My hand almost twitched again, but I stopped it just in time, heeding Soren’s warning.

We finally crossed the floor to where the Erlking sat. Like Soren’s, the Goblin King’s hair was long. But unlike Soren, whose hair was whiter than the snow, the Erlking’s hair was brown. Not my brown, the color of fallen leaves, underbrush, and dark cherry wood, but murky, muddy brown. It was the color of bog mud that sucks down both humans and animals alike and it somehow managed to make his yellow-toned skin even sallower. He was the strongest of all goblins, and I hated him for it. I also feared him—I was smart enough for that—but the fear was drowned out by the blood rushing in my ears as I locked eyes with Soren’s king.

Soren turned to me. “Stay here.” His eyes turned hard, the glimmer of light leaving them. Whatever softness he had before drained away until what was left was the hard, cold killer he was known to be, and with it went the last shreds of warmth in his voice. “Until I tell you otherwise.” Subtly, he jerked his pointer finger at the ground in a wordless warning.

I bowed my head. “Don’t take too long.”

“I don’t plan to,” he said, more to himself than to me, before approaching the Erlking’s throne. He went to one knee. “My king.”

I eyed Soren from underneath the curtain of my hair. His hands were clenched in fists at his sides. He must’ve sensed something from the Erlking, from the other goblins, something. Whatever it was, it wasn’t good. Cautiously, I directed my gaze to the Goblin King himself, aware that if I looked at him the wrong way, I might be inviting my own death. While the behavior and treatment of thralls varied widely among goblins, I had a feeling submissiveness was required for any human in the Erlking’s path.

This close, the Erlking’s eyes were dark in his shriveled husk of skin and there was a tinge of sickness in the air as he breathed his raspy breaths. His eyes flickered up to meet mine and I bowed my head again. Don’t attract attention.

Soren spat out the vows required of him in the old tongue of his kind, the words gravelly and thick. He paused every so often, like he was waiting for when he would be free to drive his hand through his king’s chest, continuing on with disappointment every time.

The tension around the room grew heavier, pressing down on those gathered. Somehow, like dogs sniffing out blood, they all knew the king was weak. Beautiful she-goblins and terrifying goblin brutes were all standing there waiting until it was legal to kill him.

Beside the weakened king’s throne, a white stag rested on a pile of rushes. Its eyes were closed, its breath slow. Its skin and antlers shone with youth, but the ancient power it leaked pressed heavy against my shoulders. That power was older than anything else in the world—maybe older than the world itself.

Goblins were, before all things, hunters. Born to reap and not to sow. Cursed with pain upon doing any action that did not in some way fit into the power the Permafrost gave them, the goblins fittingly had the submission of the stag as the symbol of their king’s ultimate power. Until it runs.

I didn’t want to think about what happened after that.

Soren continued to say his vows. The guttural language was like ice shards to my ears, and I shuddered. Catching myself about to fidget, I dug my fingers into my thigh. Control yourself, Janneke, I thought. If they can do it, you can.

A soft voice whispered in my ear, “Is that you, Janneka?” His breath tickled the back of my neck, and every muscle in my body immediately locked. Icy dread trickled down my spine, rooting me in place.

Don’t pay attention to him. He’ll go away.

“I know you can hear me, sweetling.”

Yes, I could hear him, and the sound of his voice made me want to vomit. My mouth went dry.

CREDIT: WHITE STAG by KARA BARBIERI Copyright © 2018 by the author and reprinted by permission of Wednesday Books.

Have you read this book yet? Are you looking forward to it?

What I Read Last Year // 2018 Wrap Up

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Hello, bookworms! Long time, no see! You may have noticed that I haven't been super active on my blog this past year. I think I did good in like.. January and that was it. I guess I just wasn't feeling it. I did try out doing booktube instead of blogging this year, but, to be quite honest, I think that I am entirely too boring to be on booktube.

So, if you happened to stumble across my channel at any point, I did monthly wrap ups on there, but I haven't really done any on here. I also haven't written reviews for a few of these, so I decided to do kind of a yearly wrap up for the books that I have read this year if you were curious for any reason.

1. Victor Down and the WWII Ghost Army by Enigma Alberti and Scott Wegener
2. Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking (DNF)
3. Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp
4. Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones (DNF)
5. The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows
6. Broken Beautiful Hearts by Kami Garcia
7. The Mirror King by Jodi Meadows
8. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
9. The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
10. The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco
11. Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine
12. Of Dreams and Rust by Sarah Fine
13. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (DNF)
14. Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
15. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
16. Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
17. Sailor Moon vol. 2 by Naoko Takeuchi
18. The Legend of Zelda: Legendary Edition vol. 2: Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages by Akira Himekawa
19. To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
20. The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
21. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
22. The Rising Dark by Alexandra Bracken
23. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
24. In Time by Alexandra Bracken
25. Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody
26. Seafire by Natalie C. Parker
27. Sparks Rise by Alexandra Bracken
28. Wildcat by JP Harker
29. Over Raging Tides by Jennifer Ellison
30. Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken
31. These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch (DNF)
32. In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken
33. Beyond the Night by Alexandra Bracken
34. The Darkest Legacy by Alexandra Bracken
35. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
36. Monstress vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
37. Lengths for Love by CS Patra (DNF)
38. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic vol. 1 by Shinobu Ohtaka
39. Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart
40. Leaping Wolf by JP Harker
41. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas
42. Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco
43. Give the Dark My Love by Beth Revis
44. I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin
45. Toil and Trouble by Jessica Spotswood
46. White Stag by Kara Barbieri

I didn't really do very well on my challenges for the year. My reading goal was 75 books, as you can see, I didn't hit that. Honestly, I really tapered out at the end of the year because I am entirely too busy binge watching medical dramas right now to read.

I was also going to participate in the Beat the Backlist and Series-A-Month challenges. I started off strong on Series-A-Month, but yeah, that didn't last long.

I also wanted to read more beyond just YA novels. And... I didn't really do a very good job at READING different things, but I did a fair job at BUYING different things. So maybe this will be a better goal for 2019.

Did you accomplish your 2018 goals? Let me know in the comments!
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