Monday, February 16, 2015

Gathering Frost (Once Upon a Curse #1) by Kaitlyn Davis ~ #Book #Review #Excerpt

Gathering Frost (Once Upon a Curse #1)
by Kaitlyn Davis

Will his kiss be enough to revive her frozen heart?

Once Upon A Time meets La Femme Nikita in GATHERING FROST, a dystopian romance from bestselling author Kaitlyn Davis that reimagines the classic fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty.

Jade was only a little girl when the earthquake struck. Before her eyes, half of New York City disappeared, replaced by a village that seemed torn out of a storybook. Horses and carriages. Cobblestone streets. A towering castle. And, above all, a queen with the magical ability to strip emotions away.

Ten years later and Jade has forgotten what it is to feel, to care...even to love. Working as a member of the queen's guard, she spends most of her time on the city wall staring at the crumbling skyscrapers of old New York. But everything changes when the queen's runaway son, Prince Asher, returns. Jade is tasked with an unusual mission--to let the Prince capture her, to make him trust her, and then to betray his secrets to the crown. In return, she'll earn her freedom. But life outside the queen's realm is more than Jade bargained for. Under Asher's relentless taunts, her blood begins to boil. Under his piercing gaze, her heart begins to flutter. And the more her icy soul begins to thaw, the more Jade comes to question everything she's ever known--and, more importantly, whose side she's really on.

Buy at Amazon Feb 17, 2015


Kaitlyn Davis ~ Author Links

I loved this book. To me is it a very loose reimagined world of Sleeping Beauty, but that is a good thing. It kept me guessing and really kept me on the edge of my seat. I stayed up late reading as I just had to know what happens next. I loved the unique idea that Kaitlyn  came up with to make this story very unique.

I really felt I connected with the main characters, and just loved Asher. He is yummy. Jade is a kick ass female that I really loved. Love the strong female characters.

I do not want to give anything away, and the blurb gives you just enough to get your interest (I am not one to rewrite a blurb in my review, you can read that for yourself)

I love Kaitlyn Davis' other books and was not surprised that I loved this one too. I look forward to the rest of the series.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who likes paranormal books, as well as any fairy tale retellings, that are unique too.

I think it was brilliant on how it ends to open up for the next book which is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I can't wait.

Here is a quote for you that I loved:

Asher pushes me back until I hit the wall, and then he presses further, until every inch of us touches, burns. His leg comes between mine as my hands clasp behind his neck, urging him closer. Hands grip my waist, just skimming my bare skin, pulling me toward him.Time stops as we seem to fly, to soar together. I forget the cell, the room, the rebel camp. I forget that we are underground, because behind my closed eyes all I see are stars. The ones that spark in his irises, the ones that I've stared at for years on the wall. Stars and open skies and freedom.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I was provided a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

Read below of the first 2 chapters to get a small taste. Hope you enjoy!

Chapter One and Two of Gathering Frost


The world ended on a Saturday in spring. Beautiful. Sunny. The sort of afternoon that pulled New Yorkers from their hibernation, urging them to shed their floor-length coats and stiletto boots, to let the sun kiss their pale skin once more.
When the earthquake began, my mother and I were in Central Park. "Pedal!" I remember her shouting. "Pedal!" And I did. My little legs pumped in circles, my heart lifted as I felt her fingers release the bike, and suddenly I was riding on my own. For the first time. The breeze whipped against my grinning cheeks, stinging my eyes.
But then the ground shook. The earth began to tremble. And I had no hope. In a flash, I was on the ground, sandwiched against the concrete as screams rose around me. Darkness stole my vision as my mother's arms encircled me, hugged me closer. Teeth chattering, I tried to be strong. But tears leaked from my eyes, the cries of a baby. Shame burned my chest.
Time passed but my young mind had lost count. Minutes. Hours. I still don't really know. But when the ground stilled, I woke to a new world.
My mother was frozen with shock, so I had to pull against her hold, straining to see. Over her shoulder, south, I saw smoke and ash rising like clouds over my skyline. The trees looked gray, the sky washed out. Faint outlines of buildings were only just visible through the fog, a mix of skyscrapers still standing or leveled to the ground.
I looked at my mother. Her arms had fallen mutely to her side. I'll never forget her green eyes, pulled so taut I swore they were about to snap. Her lips were just slightly open.
But she didn’t hear. Something behind me had her so transfixed that even her only child, her little girl, could not shake the alarm.
So I turned.
New York was gone.
Like a line driven through the ground, we stood on one side with the past while our future rested a few feet away. A future that was backward in time.
Atop a hill, a giant castle rose from the ground, surrounded by green lawns where apartments used to stand. At its base were stone houses, smoking from fires. Horses. Carriages. Carts. And people. People dressed in dull brown clothes looked at us just as we looked at them—confused and terrified.
And then she appeared.
Her gown sparkled in the sun, brilliant red popping against a dull backdrop, cinching in at the waist and then expanding into a magnificent skirt billowing in the breeze. Silky white gloves encased her hands. Jewels dripped around her thin neck. Pins held her hair so that it curled elegantly down her back, and resting right above her forehead was a golden crown.
My eyes went straight to her.
A princess. I knew she would save us. I had seen it before, so many times, so many princesses saving the day.
I ran to her, crossing the threshold without hesitation as my mother screamed at me to come back. My mom was an adult. And adults didn’t believe in these things. I knew she would see my side if I could just get the princess to help us.
She knelt as I approached. A wide inviting smile spread across her face. Her arms caught me.
"What is your name child?" Her voice was warm. It soothed me, relaxed me, filled me with hope.
She brushed my bangs from my forehead, kissed it softly.
"Would you like me to help you? To make all of your fears go away?"
"Yes!" I wanted to run to my mom, to show her she didn’t need to be afraid. The princess would help us. But I couldn't. Something stopped me.
A hand pressed against my chest, pricked my skin.
I looked up at the princess, struggling to break free of her hold, when a freeze snatched my heart, so cold that it burned. I tried to speak, but I was frozen. My limbs grew heavy, my lips felt fat, my vision started to spot.
"Don't worry, little Jade. I'm just putting you to sleep for a little while. You'll wake up soon."
I did. In a cell with other frightened girls. But I never felt the same. Icy. That's what some of us started calling it, this feeling like our hearts won't thaw. Even a fire doesn't warm me. I am hard. Frigid. Emotionless. Sometimes I think I must still be caught in a long dream.
But time has only made me tougher.
Now I know the princess by another name, Queen Deirdre, the Ice Queen.
And I wish I could say I was the hero of the story. A resister. A rebel. Someone who lived to bring an end to the queen who stole my childhood—my mother, my life, my very world.
But I'm not.
I'm not the good guy.
I'm the one who puts the good guys in their graves.


The city is silent, full of shadows cast by moonlight. I should be used to it after spending so many hours on the wall, protecting my home, guarding its sleeping citizens. And I am. But sometimes in my dreams, I can still remember the way the skyline used to sparkle outside my window, a blanket of stars close enough to touch.
More than a decade has passed since the city that never sleeps was last awake. More than a decade of darkness.
I hardly remember how easy it used to be, how much we took for granted. Lights were just one flick away. Movies danced on screens before our eyes. Food stayed chilled, the entire world was a few keys away. Honking cars and rattling trains once filled the air, and now they lie still like skeletons, fossils in a broken down museum.
I was only a little girl then. I'm a much different woman now.
"See anything?"
"No," I yell back, rolling my eyes. Of course I don't see anything.
The war has been over for years, long before I joined the guard, but still we keep watch every night, waiting for the rebels to return.
I've walked this perimeter a thousand times, gun at my hip, sword in my belt, crossbow strapped to my shoulders. My fingers itch to swing a blade or pull a trigger, but silence is the only thing that has ever been beyond the wall. Silence and the tap of my impatient feet on stone.
I can count on my hands the number of times I've actually seen a rebel and if they do manage to come this close, there is not much fight left in them. Not enough for any fun anyway. The queen's powers are strong, strong enough to make even the most willful soldier drop his weapon.
I've only heard rumors of the war. I was still with the other children in the dungeons below the castle when the rebels came, still caught by the queen, still waiting for her to determine what to do with us. The sound of smattering bullets is about all I remember. But on the wall, conversations always drift back to the glory days of the war, when the guard had a purpose, when we were victorious.
They say the rebels didn’t know how to fight us, how to fight the queen. Their tanks stopped working miles outside the city. Their planes fell from the sky. Long-range missiles simply puttered out.
It's the reason the electricity turned off. It’s the reason it won't come back on. They say magic has an electric charge of its own, different. One that interferes with the old electricity of Earth. I say who cares. I'm no scientist. And that's not the magic I have to live with, not really.
The magic we deal with every day is what happened next. The rebels marched on the queen's castle a few days after their first strikes wore out. I bet they had no idea what they were walking toward. Machine guns against arrows and swords? I'm sure they thought they had us beat before the fighting even began. But once they stepped into the queen's hands, there was no escape. A few managed to fire their weapons, to take some of the guards out, even a giant or two I've heard. But most just stopped, dropped their weapons, and gave up. Some of those men work beside me on the wall now.
Indifference is the queen's magic. Loyalty to her and indifference to everything else.
More than a decade has passed since I last felt warm. Not like being by a fire, where the flames lick my face and heat presses into my skin. I mean warm from the inside out, like my heart is pumping, like my mind is spinning, like my body is alive.
Warm enough to feel…anything.
Sometimes, on nights like tonight, watching the gray shell of my old New York stand still like a ghost in a mist, memories haunt me. I see her face, my mother, looking down, kissing my forehead, and tucking me into bed with three sweet words on her lips. For that moment, a tiny flame flickers in my chest.
A dying fire. Not a burning one. And I wonder when the light will finally fade out. Maybe then I'll get used to the chill.
I turn at the sound of my name. There is just a shadow, silhouetted by the light of the guardhouse, but I recognize the voice. Brock. One of the boys who was in my training group. One of the many I have since surpassed.
"The commander wants to see you." A chorus of low laughter follows his words, but I've grown used to ignoring it.
Stepping out of the dark night, my eyes adjust to the firelight of the guardhouse. Boys sit around a table, playing cards, drinking beer. Their weapons sit by their feet. Bulletproof vests hang on the wall. Some aren't even wearing shoes.
If the rebellion did attack tonight, I would have to beat them single handedly. But what else is new. There is a reason I prefer the silence of the dark wall, the solitude.
"Where is he?" I sigh.
"The west wall."
I nod and turn back to the door without so much as a goodbye. They won't miss me anyway.
The uneven stones beneath my feet are as familiar as my own limbs, so I jog, letting the sound of my breath fill my ears. To my left lay the last vestiges of what used to be Central Park, the vacant skyscrapers at its boundaries, stretching until everything disappears into thick ebony.
To my right, the complete opposite. The queen's city. Some of us from old Earth call it New New York as a joke. But to those of the magic realm and to most who live here, it is known as Kardenia.
It is a city like I imagine most of Europe must have once looked, if Europe even still exists. Rows and rows of stone houses with chimneys releasing puffs of smoke from burning fireplaces. Not much rhyme or reason to the design, more like roads that interconnect in a large, hard to decipher web. There are stalls for horses, empty merchant carts in the street. And in the center, the castle looms, watching everyone from above.
Still, I've read about the days of old and there are some differences. In the morning, when the streets come alive, there will be bikes zooming. A wood-burning grill might be warming breakfast. The seamstresses will sew with foot pedal machines instead of their hands. Not all of Earth has been forgotten—the gun at my hip is a good reminder of that.
A shadow appears before me, the outline of a man I recognize. The commander. The closest thing to a father I have ever known.
After the earthquake, the queen locked all the children she found in the prisons below the castle, unsure how they would fit into her society. We had too much imagination, I heard her say once. We weren't as afraid as the adults and it made us hard to control.
I was barely down there for a week when the commander came to visit. With slow, purposeful footsteps he walked the length of the long corridor, eyes peering at every little girl huddled against the ground. I was the only one standing, holding onto the bars, staring back at him.
He liked my fight. Said it reminded him of his daughter. The next day, I was pulled from the castle and delivered to his doorstep. There were no hugs, no pats on the head, no pretty dolls waiting for me.
Just as there won't be now.
"Commander Alburn," I call, voice loud against the still night.
"Jade." He turns, hands still locked behind his back. There is no warm recognition in his tone, no smile wrinkling his eyes or puffing his cheeks.
I bow my head, adopting the same rigid stance.
"I was told you needed to speak with me, sir?"
"I do, come with me."
I follow as he spins back around and marches toward the nearest guardhouse. For a moment, I wonder if people can even spot us from the ground. Black pants. Black long sleeve shirt. Black bulletproof vest. And black boots.
Do we simply fade into the night?
When we enter the guardhouse, the mood is solemn—the men sit at their posts, peering out through slits in the walls. There is no beer, no cards. The way the watch should be, but rarely is. This is the power of the commander.
"Hang up your vest."
My brows scrunch but I heed his order and unbuckle the clips at my side, hanging the heavy garment with others on the wall. There are not enough bulletproof vests for everyone in the guard, so we share, leaving them at the wall for anyone on duty.
To remove it only means one thing. I am being sent home. But why?
"Sir?" I shouldn't ask. I should follow. But I can't help it as the question slips through my lips, out into the open.
"The queen wishes to speak with you in the morning. You are to go home, bathe, and prepare your best dress. Understood?"
"Yes, sir," I automatically reply. But my mind is spinning. The queen?
I have not seen the queen in years, not in close proximity, not since the day I joined the guard. I'm the only girl who has ever done so, the only one who received the queen's blessing.
It was the day I received my black heart, the pin we all wear, the formal sigil of the guard. I was standing in line with a dozen boys, breasts taped down to seem less girly, clothes a size too big so they did not hug my hips. But I fooled no one. And I was not sure if even the commander could convince the guard to accept me, despite my training or maybe because of it.
I was better.
I was a woman.
Those two facts were enough to ostracize me from the pack.
And then with no warning, the queen swept in. Her gown only accentuated her femininity. Her poise only strengthened her power. The men, like a wave, bowed deep.
"My Queen," the commander spoke, voice silencing the murmurs of the guard. "What brings you to our halls?"
"Dear Commander," she said, voice like velvet, smooth and soft, lulling everyone into a trance. "I come to place a pin on the girl who wishes to do the job of a man, to wish her luck and to give her strength. I myself know what sorts of challenges she might face."
The captain holding our pins offered her the plate, and she stepped forward, gracefully selecting a black heart with her delicate fingers. Everyone watched me, eyes fierce. Nothing like this had ever happened before, and I stood still, strong, not breaking my composure.
The pin slid easily into my chest and then her blue eyes met mine, so stark and pale, almost like ice. Her palm came to my face, and I felt it all drain away. The nerves. The doubts. The excitement. Whatever had been there was gone. All of it taken. And I remained still, like a statue, even after she had long disappeared from our halls.
We did not speak then. And I cannot imagine what she would need to say to me now.
"Jade?" The commander's voice flings me back to present day, to the guardhouse, to his command.
I nod my understanding. I will go home. I will prepare. I will not complain.
But before I take my first step, the ground rattles beneath my feet and a boom snaps across the night sky like lightning. All seven of us stop. Our heads twist to the wall, to the darkness of the night, to the source of the noise.
I move first, sprinting through the door.
And then I see it. A glow in the sky, filtering through the empty streets of old New York, hot white and bubbling red. A cloud. It pops and then only fire remains, fire and the smoke that billows high, blocking out the stars. One of our mines has been detonated.
My hands grip the stone as I peer further, balancing across the edge to get as close as I can. We are all transfixed.
"Rebels." I grin as the word leaves my lips.
"It is just an unlucky animal." The commander overrules me, shuts my words down, and the others nod in agreement.
"Still, shouldn’t we take a look?" I lick my lips.
"You will do nothing, Jade, except go home."
I meet his eyes. Both of us are made of stone, hard and unflinching. Time seems to tick between us, stretching, thickening the air. His eyebrow raises and I give in. Dropping my shoulders in defeat, I turn from the scene and shuffle back to the guardhouse.
But as soon as I am hidden behind the stones, my steps grow lighter, swifter, faster. I take the staircase two at a time, racing, until I am on the ground.
I'll get in trouble for this.
I don't care.
My hands fumble with the knots, loosening the reins that tie my horse to her post. In one move, I am on her back. The clicks of her shoes against stone fill my ears, thunderous, loud enough to drift up to the wall.
But by the time shouts rain down on me, I am gone, through the gate. Protests disappear until I am left with only the wind brushing my cheeks and the crunch of grass beneath heavy hooves.
We don't slow until the trees fade and metal takes their place. I am back in the wilds, a concrete jungle more perilous than any forest I can imagine.
But these are my wilds. My home.
A grin spreads across my face, pulls my cheeks until they hurt.
No one can beat me here.


  1. Thank you for this wonderful review and spotlight Michelle!! I'm so thrilled that you enjoyed Gathering Frost! And I love the pull quotes you used -- I should have used those too, haha, going to have to share your quote image :) Have an awesome week!