Five Reasons to Read Nameless by Lili St. Crow

Nameless Book Cover Nameless
Lili St. Crow

When Camille was six years old, she was discovered alone in the snow by Enrico Vultusino, godfather of the Seven—the powerful Families that rule magic-ridden New Haven. Papa Vultusino adopted the mute, scarred child, naming her after his dead wife and raising her in luxury on Haven Hill alongside his own son, Nico.

Now Cami is turning sixteen. She’s no longer mute, though she keeps her faded scars hidden under her school uniform, and though she opens up only to her two best friends, Ruby and Ellie, and to Nico, who has become more than a brother to her. But even though Cami is a pampered Vultusino heiress, she knows that she is not really Family. Unlike them, she is a mortal with a past that lies buried in trauma. And it’s not until she meets the mysterious Tor, who reveals scars of his own, that Cami begins to uncover the secrets of her birth... to find out where she comes from and why her past is threatening her now.

Review:

(Actual rating: 4.5 stars)

Imagine if, instead of seven dwarves, Snow White were rescued by the fairy tale equivalent of the Mafia. And imagine if said Mafia, known as the Family, were vampires.

Did I get your attention there? Good. Because I really, really want you to read Nameless. And I really want you to love it as much as I did so I have someone else to talk to about how amazing this book is. In case you need more persuasion than just my assertion that Vampire Mob + Snow White = Awesomeness, though, here are five reasons you should read this book:

  1. The unique approach to Snow White: It’s not just the vampire Mafia that sets Nameless apart from traditional Snow White retellings. Camille, the heroine, is no vapid, flawlessly beautiful princess who cheerfully cleans the house and sings to forest animals. Instead, she’s a foundling whose traumatic, abuse-filled childhood has left her with a stuttering tongue, crippling shyness, and scars all over her body. Though lovingly raised by the head of the Family and treated as his own daughter, Cami suffers from self doubt and can’t shake the feeling that she’ll never truly belong. She longs to know who she really is and where she came from, but she doesn’t remember much of her early years beyond a sense of horror and flickering visions of a cold and beautiful queen. When mysterious strangers begin appearing in her life and apple-and-mirror-filled dreams begin haunting her, Cami senses that the answers to her questions could finally be within reach, and she won’t stop until she figures them out.
  1. Drool-inducing romance: Nameless wins the award for some of the most swoon-worthy scenes not involving an actual kiss. I’ve always had a thing for literary bad boys, and Nico Vultusino, Cami’s adopted brother, definitely fits the bill. He’s got a fiery temper, chafes against his role as heir to the Family, and has a propensity for staying out late, starting fights, and generally getting into trouble. And yet, Nico is an absolute sweetheart when it comes to Cami. The two have an adorable relationship, one that started as rivals-turned-playmates when they were children and turned into something more as they grew up. The history between them means they know each other inside and out, and it’s so cute watching Cami pull Nico out of one of his moods and seeing Nico soothe Cami when she has nightmares. Their relationship is not just sweet, though – it’s also hot. There’s one scene in particular that left me in a swoon at one point. You’ll know it once you’re there, but here’s a hint: Book. Candle. Nico. *Cue Angela fainting dead away from an overload of desire*
  1. Characters with backstories: I hate when characters’ lives seem to occur solely within the timeline of the main events of the book. You know what I mean – characters who don’t have a believable past, whose lives begin when the book begins and end when the book ends. This isn’t the case with Nameless. You can tell that the characters have a history. There’s mention of the games Cami and Nico played as kids, the family photos they posed for that now adorn the fridge, the tales they made up together and the futures they imagined. The comfortable camaraderie Cami shares with her friends is evidence of years of friendship. You know that Cami and the others have childhood memories and inside jokes and family stories, even if the specifics aren’t necessarily shared with you. It makes them feel like real people, not just words on a page.
  1. Excellent world building: The number of details St. Crow casually throws out there in Nameless is staggering – it’s clear that she spent a great deal of time imagining every facet of her world. That doesn’t mean she intends to hold your hand and patiently outline the rules of her world, though. Nameless is one of those books where the reader is expected to figure out the setting by his or herself without an explanation from the author. St. Crow leaves you to piece together a picture of New Haven using the various details she’s provided. She tells you the makes and models of the cars, mentions the names of various months and holidays, alludes to religion (when swearing, characters invoke the name of Mithrus Christ rather than Jesus Christ), and references various magical terms such as Twists, jacks, Potential, the Core, etc. It’s a beguiling world, and I drank up all of the descriptions with the enthusiasm of a woman dying of thirst in the desert.
  1. The Family: I love the vampire Godfather vibe that the Family has going. The Vultusinos and the other vampires of New Haven live a life of danger cloaked in luxury. They roll around in limos while sipping fine whiskey mixed with calf blood, attend grand parties, and enjoy enormous power and respect. People who give them trouble mysteriously “disappear,” questionable business is conducted behind closed doors, and much of New Haven’s law enforcement is in the Family’s pocket. Combine all of this with fascinating vampire customs – a complex hierarchy, Borrowing, the Kiss – and you’ve got the makings of a very intriguing book.

There you go, everyone – five reasons why you should read Nameless. Now get out there, track down a copy, and get to reading! And let me know when you’re done so we can gush about it together!

Book Blitz: Blood, Milk, and Chocolate by Cameron Jace

Book Blitz Banner for Blood, Milk, and Chocolate by Cameron Jace

Welcome to the book blitz for Blood, Milk, and Chocolate, the third book in The Grimm Diaries series by Cameron Jace! As part of the blitz, presented by Xpresso Book Tours, I’ve got an excerpt for you as well as two great giveaways. Enjoy!

About Blood, Milk, and Chocolate

Book cover for Blood, Milk, and Chocolate by Cameron JaceI have been accused of being malicious and evil.

I, the Snow White Queen, have a story to tell.

The true story and what has really happened. How it all happened. Why the Brothers Grimm altered the truth, letting you think it was a fairy tale. When and how the tale took place. And above all, why I did what I did. Why you haven’t been told the truth for centuries. The truth about me and the truth about the not-so-innocent Snow White.

Here is my side of the story. You will never look at Snow White the same way again.

Excerpt from Blood, Milk, and Chocolate

The day I was born, a single red apple grew on a juniper tree in our castle’s garden.

A Blood Apple.

It was a rare fruit; the most sought after in Europe at the time. An apple of unmatched sweetness and unearthly ripeness. Some claimed it could cure the sick and enrich the poor, grant children to the sterile, and keep the soul guarded from demonic possessions. Its rarity and taste made it comparable with gold and diamonds, if they were edible. There was a well-known saying: “A Blood Apple a day keeps all Sorrow away.” Few people knew why the word “sorrow” had always been capitalized in this sentence. I learned why many years later.

The single, delicious Blood Apple that grew on my birthday was even rarer. This one was the first to grow in my homeland, Styria, in seven years.

A nameless witch—we did not speak her name—had cursed my homeland in Western Europe many years before. Every time a tree gave birth to an apple, it came out grey, rotten, and infested with worms. No amount of magic or prayers managed to lift up the curse. They said the witch was the mother of all witches, that she was darker than the darkest shades of night. For reasons beyond me, she had cursed us with no intention to relieve us from her wicked omen, ever.

All of this changed the day I blossomed from my mother’s womb into this life. No one knew how it was possible, or why it happened. Everyone said I was going to be a special princess who’d prosper and grow and maybe rule Styria one day.

The servants in our castle drooled at the sight of the single red and ripe apple. They stared at it as if it were the fountain of youth that could quench their thirst and wet their seven-years-long dried souls. Some of the servants sank to their knees and thanked Pomona, the Goddess of Fruits whom no one had ever seen, for her blessings.

But only fools thanked Pomona, for the rest of our land knew it was me who had saved them. I possessed the power to defy “the witch whose name we don’t speak.”

The birth of me, Carmilla Karnstein, daughter of Theodora and Philip II, was a miracle like no other in centuries. I came to this world with a revelation, a sign, and some kind of rapture: the first Blood Apple in seven years.

Little did I know then that it wasn’t a lucky coincidence, that I wasn’t just a fairy tale made up by the poor and wishful peasants of Europe. How would I have known that I was part of the universe’s plan in an eternal feud between good and evil?

The arrival of a beautiful child, the blossoming of apples, and the end of a curse were only a prelude to an epic tale of love and sorrow.

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About Cameron Jace

Cameron Jace Author PhotoWonderlander, Neverlander, Unicorn-chaser, enchanter, musician, survived a coma, & totally awesome. Sometimes I tell stories. Always luv the little monsters. I write young adult paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and science fiction mostly. The Grimm Diaries series is a seven book saga that deals with retellings of fairy tales from a young adult POV – it connects most of the fairy tales together and claims to be the truth about fairy tales. I live in San Fransisco and seriously think circles are way cooler than triangles.

Giveaway

I’ve got TWO great giveaways for you today courtesy of Cameron Jace and Xpresso Book Tours. One reader will win an e-book copy of Blood, Milk, and Chocolate; another will win e-book copies of the first three books in the Grimm Diaries series.Both contests are open internationally. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter forms below. Good luck!

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Review: The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson

The Fairest Beauty Book Cover The Fairest Beauty
Melanie Dickerson

Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother’s jealousy and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be Sophie’s one chance at freedom – but can she trust another person to keep her safe?

Gabe defied his parents, Rose and Wilhelm, by going to find Sophie, and now he believes they had a right to worry: the girl’s inner and outer beauty has enchanted him. Though romance is impossible – she is his brother’s future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else – he promises himself he will see the mission through, no matter what.

When the pair flee to the Cottage of the Seven, they find help – but also find their feelings for each other have grown. Now both must not only protect each other from the dangers around them – they must also protect their hearts.

Review:

I’m usually a huge fan of fairy tale retellings, but this version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves left me underwhelmed. The characters lack depth and realism, and the entire tale is a little too bland for my taste.

The most surprising thing about The Fairest Beauty is that although it’s certainly recognizable as a Snow White story, many of the elements of the original tale are conspicuously absent. Magic has no presence at all in Dickerson’s story, meaning there’s no magic mirror, no enchanted kiss, etc.

Instead, Dickerson seems to have replaced all fairy tale elements with a hearty helping of religion. There’s a lot of prayer, Scripture reading, and holy contemplation. The protagonist, Sophie, treasures a scrap of her family’s Bible as her most prized possession, and her idea of fun is reciting parables from the New Testament.

Sophie is the main reason I wasn’t wild about The Fairest Beauty. She’s a lovely girl, inside and out, but her constant sweetness gets to be kind of grating after a while. No matter what the situation, Sophie responds with kindness and aplomb. Even when her stepmother regularly throws her in the dungeon, withholds food, and heaps chores upon her, Sophie bears all of the humiliation and injustice heaped upon her with patience and grace. It’s just too much – a little sweetness is good, but a lot will give you a stomach ache. And cavities.

Sophie does have some redeeming qualities. She can occasionally be feisty, and she has no problem taking care of herself. It also helps that she’s just as susceptible to a cute and dashing hero as the rest of us, even if she does resist temptation better than I might.

Said cute and dashing hero, Gabe, didn’t completely wow me at first, but he eventually grew on me. He initially comes across as immature and dimwitted, but he does grow up over the course of the story.

I’m always happy to have another fairy tale retelling under my belt, but I don’t see myself rereading The Fairest Beauty. I need more entertaining, less squeaky-clean.