BLOG TOUR: Reign of Serpents – Excerpt


I’m happy to be kicking off the Reign of Serpents Blog Tour organized by Glass Town Entertainment in anticipation for the book’s release! Today, I have an exclusive excerpt from the book to share with you all! I’m super excited for this book and adventures that lay in store for the characters!

ReignofSerpentsFINALCoverTitle: Reign of Serpents
Author: Eleanor Herman
Release Date: June 27, 2017

New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman entwines the real scandals of history with epic fantasy in this action-packed follow-up to EMPIRE OF DUST.

In REIGN OF SERPENTS, the ancient power of Snake Blood threatens the known world. While Prince Alexander struggles with a very deadly inner demon, his betrothed, Zofia, is on her way to him, to unite their kingdoms…even as she begins to realize where her true allegiance lies. The fierce Cynane meets her match-not in her future husband, the deranged king of Illyria, but in her great-great-grandfather, Talus, possessor of Smoke Blood, who will teach her the true meaning of betrayal. And marooned together on an island in the Mediterranean, romantic tension blooms between Katerina and Hephaestion as they learn of lost civilizations and discover a device that could help them do the impossible: kill the last living god.

EleonorHerman.AuthorPhotoNew York Times best-seller Eleanor Herman brings her skills as a historian to an exciting new Young Adult series on Alexander the Great at sixteen, the four-book Legacy of Kings: Blood of Gods and Royals.

“History is so fascinating that it never has to be presented in a boring way, even in non-fiction,” she explains. “These were flesh and blood people, just like you and me, facing war and plague, falling in love, living among splendid art and gut-wrenching poverty, evanescent beauty and devastating illnesses. Blending real history with the conversation, action, emotions and fantasy aspects of Legacy of Kings makes the story explosively exciting. I want readers to smell the blood on the battlefield, hear the delicate strumming of a lyre, feel the heat of an ancient Greek summer sun on their faces, see the beauty of the temples and palaces, and taste the dark wine, full of lees, poured from a red-and-black painted Greek vase.”

Eleanor calls herself a “Sherlock Holmes of history.” For Legacy, she studied and visited most of the major sites of the ancient world, usually with an archeologist in tow, and read just about everything, ancient and modern, written on the Greek world of 340 B.C.

Eleanor has hosted shows for The History Channel and the National Geographic Channel on Henry VIII, the ancient Greek city of Aphrodisias, and the Hindenburg. She is an expert commentator on numerous episodes of a national show coming out this fall.

Eleanor lives with her husband, their black lab, and her four very dignified cats in McLean, VA. She is a member of the National Press Club, where she often moderates book events, a queen mother of Cameroon, an elections officer, and a volunteer for the aging in Fairfax County, VA.


Cyn clutched the edge of her seat, feeling the metal ornaments cut into her palms but not caring. Across the arena, the doors opened. She squinted in the bright sunlight, her eyes pinned to the darkness of the tunnel. For a long moment, nothing happened.

Then the blackness shifted, like shadow on shadow. Suddenly a bellow of rage echoed from the opening. A second later, a wild bull galloped into the ring.

Taller than Priam and five times as wide, the beast looked like a small mountain. Muscle and sinew rippled as it stamped and snorted. She could see its matted black hair clumping around the wounds that zigzagged across its back. The cuts had not been made to tame the beast, but to enrage it. As the bull shook its barrel-sized head, she realized with horror that its horns had been sharpened to cruel points.

Papari cartwheeled to the nearest marble wall and scrambled over several rows of spectators until he sat quivering in mock fear on a fat woman’s lap, his head buried in her neck as she tried to push him off. Only one spectator laughed, and the sound of King Amyntas’s mirth was like a whip to the bull’s back. It roared in rage as wild bloodshot eyes locked on Cyn.

The bull pawed the ground as its red-brown eyes rolled. Then it charged.

Training took over. Cyn grabbed the sword and shield from the old man trembling beside her. He and the rest of her Queen’s Guard fled toward the nearest door, as did the spectators in the bottom rows.

Finding her center, she braced herself as the bull bore down on her. The heft of the wooden shield and the sword’s solid hilt gave her strength. It felt so right to have weapons in her hands again. She felt the blood pumping through her limbs, her heart racing in anticipation. The irony was that the king was doing this to harm her, but she had never felt so alive.

She counted the bull’s stride as it thundered toward her. Five strides until it reached her. Three…

There was a movement in the corner of her eye, and Priam leaped in front of her. His sudden appearance startled the bull, and it swerved, breaking its pace. Cyn gnashed her teeth. What was he doing? She had the situation under control!

The two other Macedonian guards appeared behind the creature just as a kick connected with Priam’s chest. An inhuman groan escaped Priam’s lungs as he was tossed back, all the way to the wall, where he slid to the ground in a quivering slump.

Cyn froze, torn between running to him and defending herself. Herod and Jamesh stabbed the creature’s back, but they’d misjudged the bull’s agility. It swung its head and impaled Herod, horns piercing through leather breastplate, muscles, and bones as if they were butter. The tips of the bull’s horns were visible through Herod’s back as Jamesh, horrified, stumbled backward and vomited. As the beast shook his head, the dead man’s arms and legs jerked hideously, like ribbons on an obscene hat.

Cyn stumbled back, bile rising in her throat.

Now. Now was the time to attack the beast, encumbered with the weight of the soldier.

“Over here!” she cried, banging her sword on the shield.

The bull, half-blinded by the body and half by rage, bellowed. It galloped in the direction of Cyn’s voice. She wasn’t sure if the spectators were still silent or not. If the audience had escaped or not. If Priam was dead or not.

Her entire world was hooves, horns, and fury.

Wait, she told herself, even when every particle of her being screamed at her to move. Not yet…not yet…NOW!

She dropped to her knees as the bull lunged.

With all her strength—with all her anger at Olympias, all her disgust at Amyntas’s mad games, and all her bitterness of being nothing more than just a girl—Cyn drove her sword upward, into the bull’s belly.

The force of the impaled creature wrenched the hilt out of her hands. She had only a breath to roll to the side as the beast tumbled, the weight of Herod’s body, still attached to the horns, pulling it forward. The animal landed on its face with a sickening crunch, followed by a snap that turned Cyn’s insides to liquid.

The bull gasped once, then was still.

Panting heavily, Cyn lurched to her feet. The remaining spectators sat frozen, eyes wide and mouths agape. But the king slouched on his throne, sipping his wine and frowning.

“You’ve ruined the game,” he drawled, his voice carrying in the abandoned arena.

Without responding, Cyn walked to the bull, put one daintily sandaled foot on its stomach, flexed her muscles, and, with all the strength she had left, pulled the sword from the beast’s thick, bleeding body.


There you have it! Reign of Serpents will be released tomorrow, June 27. The characters and story developed greatly between the first and second books and I’m excited to see what happens next! If you enjoyed this excerpt, be sure to check out the rest of the blogs below for the more from the Reign of Serpents blog tour!

Tuesday | Book N Authors
Wednesday| Reading With Cupcakes
Thursday | Anji Books
Friday | Lady Katie Reads

Buzz Books 2017: YA Fall/Winter

The release of the Publishers Lunch Buzz Books: Young Adult edition for new young adult fall/winter releases is upon us! I thought there were significantly less excerpts than usual. Warcross was the only book that was on my TBR, but I was still able to find a couple more promising titles to add to that list. 

33413958Your One and Only: Jack is a walking fossil. The only human among a sea of clones. It’s been hundreds of years since humanity died off in the slow plague, leaving the clones behind to carry on human existence. Over time they’ve perfected their genes, moving further away from the imperfections of humanity. But if they really are perfect, why did they create Jack? While Jack longs for acceptance, Althea-310 struggles with the feeling that she’s different from her sisters. Her fascination with Jack doesn’t help. As Althea and Jack’s connection grows stronger, so does the threat to their lives. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?

 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.

29385546Warcross: For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation. Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

33395234Beasts Made of Night: In the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages can magically call forth sin from a sinner in the form of sin-beasts – lethal creatures spawned from feelings of guilt. Taj is the most talented of the aki, young sin-eaters indentured by the mages to slay the sin-beasts. But Taj’s livelihood comes at a terrible cost. When he kills a sin-beast, a tattoo of the beast appears on his skin while the guilt of committing the sin appears on his mind. Most aki are driven mad by the process, but 17-year-old Taj is cocky and desperate to provide for his family. When Taj is called to eat a sin of a royal, he’s suddenly thrust into the center of a dark conspiracy to destroy Kos. Now Taj must fight to save the princess that he loves – and his own life.

Buzz Books 2017: YA Spring/Summer

Another edition of Publishers Lunch Buzz Books: Young Adult just became available not too long ago, filled with excerpts for upcoming releases for the spring and summer. Once again, out of all the books included, there was only one that was already on my TBR list, so I was pleased to find more book to add to my radar. Below are the five books that intrigued me the most!

23308087 Flame in the Mist: The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace. Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she’s quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she’s ever known.

31752165The One Memory of Flora Banks: Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life. With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

29939048Roar: Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people. To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters. Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage. 

32051572Dividing Eden: Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom. As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family. With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?

25740412The Black Witch: So foretells the greatest prophecy of the Gardnerian mages. Carnissa Gardner, the last prophesied Black Witch, drove back the enemy forces and saved her people during the Realm War. Now a new evil is on the horizon, and her granddaughter, Elloren, is believed to be Carnissa’s heir—but while she is the absolute image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above nearly all else. When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren is eager to join her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University and finally embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother’s legacy. But she soon realizes that the University, which admits all manner of peoples—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of her people—is an even more treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.

REVIEW: Gilded Cage – Vic James (ARC)

30258320Title: Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1)
Author: Vic James
Rating: ★★

ARC received through NetGalley.

A lot of people have raved over Gilded Cage, but I , for one, couldn’t figure out what all the hype was about. First of all, this book was much different than what I had expected. I’ll dive into more on that later but I think that was a big part of my dislike, along with high expectations due to all the raving five star review (when will I learn?). 

Gilded Cage is a dystopian novel, but what sets it apart from all the other YA dystopian novels is the plot. Not only is it intricate and complex, but it’s different-a good different. The world building was strong. It took me a while to get used to this type of dystopian world, similar to how I was when I read Red Queen, but once I got into it I was impressed by the world the author had built.

One issue I had was the pacing of the book. At one point, less than three-quarters of the way, I realized that six months had already passed since the start. Six months, and yet I knew absolutely nothing about most of the characters, including Abi, who I had assumed was one of the main protagonists. I was 75% done with the book and had only read two chapters from her POV and had no clue what her storyline was or anything about her character. The combination of the pacing and the multiple POVs led me to feel unconnected to any of the characters and like I was reading about strangers the entire time. The one character I did really appreciate was Gavar. He seemed the most complex, and his struggles were interesting and complicated. I wanted to read more and more from his perspective. He is clearly going to end up as some sort of antihero and I could not be more on board. There’s definitely more to him than we know and I’m dying to know more about what happened between him and Leah. If I continue with the series, it will be for Gavar alone.

The romance was basically nonexistent. It’s not usually a deal breaker for me unless the story is lacking, which I thought it was. I thought I would be all about the Abi/Jenner pairing, but I honestly wasn’t all the involved in their story. Probably because it was very rushed and there was way too much telling instead of showing. All of a sudden there were these intense feelings between them, but since we only had Abi’s POV two or three times throughout the whole book, we never get to see any conversations  or interactions between them, and never get the chance to see these feelings develop. 

And now the thing that bothered me the most: I felt so misled going into this. This was a very different story than what the synopsis suggested. Don’t get me wrong: the plot is strong and unique, but it was not at all what I was expecting to read. I dissected the synopsis apart below. There may or may not be slight spoilers ahead, depending on your definition of a spoiler. Proceed with caution. 

  • 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.
    Ooh, intriguing. This a good start and is pretty accurate description of the book. I can’t wait to learn more about whatever secret lies at Kyneston.
  • 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.
    Okay, still pretty accurate. I think this is the closest the synopsis gets to the actual plot.
  • 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 the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?
    I have no idea what this “terrible choice” is. This has by far been the most baffling to me. There was no family secret revealed. There was no conflict for Abi because she doesn’t learn anything about this family that could potentially win her freedom or anything of the sort. I kept thinking to myself, did I miss something?? And I’ve already talked about the “love” issue earlier. 
  • 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?
    Again, I’m confused. I was expecting some terrible power he possessed that would be revealed at the end and be connected with the family secret Abi learns that could be at the heart of her “terrible choice” she’ll have to make. Alas, I was mistaken. If his mysterious power is what I think it is, it was literally talked about since one of the first chapters, and didn’t seem like such a secret since he told everyone what he was going to do. It read more like it was an interesting talent rather than some huge, dark gift. 

All in all, unfortunately I wasn’t too impressed by the book. I gave it an extra star because the basics of the plot were pretty interesting and different from the usual young adult dystopian books, and also because Gavar. 

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated 2016 Releases

It’s my first Top Ten Tuesday today, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and I’m super excited! This week’s topic asks what our most anticipated releases are for the rest of the year. For me, it seemed the first half of the year there weren’t as many new releases I was looking forward to, but it’s a completely different story from this point on. It was hard to choose only ten!

Upcoming Releases 2016

AND I DARKEN by Kiersten White (June 28) | BROKEN PRINCE by Erin Watt (July 25) | THE FLAME NEVER DIES by Rachel Vincent (August 16) | A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT by Sabaa Tahir (August 30) | THREE DARK CROWNS by Kendare Blake (September 20) | CROOKED KINGDOMS by Leigh Bardugo (September 27) | BRIGHT SMOKE, COLD FIRE by Rosamund Hodge (September 27) | A MILLION WORLDS WITH YOU by Claudia Gray (November 1) | BLOOD FOR BLOOD by Ryan Graudin (November 1) | CRYSTAL STORM by Morgan Rhodes (December 13)

Comment and tell me what you’re most looking forward to reading!