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The Black Towers #1

Stones and Finger Bones

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Aurelia Barone, Jewel of Starry Stone, harbors no illusions about the purpose of her life as heir to the throne. But after two failed betrothals, she starts to feel like nothing more than a pawn being moved aimlessly about a game board.

Until the night she loses everything.

Kidnapped by a wise-cracking mercenary with more than one identity, Aurelia embarks on a mission across land and sea to avenge her father’s death.

But an evil is rising from the ashes of memory. Insidious magic is stirring. The dregs of a once-powerful nation are thirsty for blood and revenge.

They seek to harness Aurelia. To tempt her. To manipulate her.

And if necessary, to destroy her.

306 pages, Paperback

First published February 10, 2015

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About the author

Jessica Minyard

8 books21 followers
Jessica wrote and illustrated her first story in the fourth grade. “The Dragon of Grindley Grun” was about an evil wizard, a princess, and a dragon who was actually a prince. She likes to think her writing has evolved since that very first story, even though she still writes about magic and evil wizards...sometimes.

She likes to sing loudly and dance on occasion without being particularly talented at either. Her interests include reading, writing, procrastinating, animal advocacy, musicals, accessories, memes, and sweet tea.

Jessica lives in Kentucky with a spoiled pitbull.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 33 reviews
Profile Image for Lia Angelidou.
255 reviews23 followers
June 30, 2015
You can take a look at my blog Bookland@wordpress
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Arc kindly provided by the publisher, via netGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Α shocking book, in a good way of course! The prologue was a great start and left a good impression on me. The writting style was pleasant and not tiring; simplicity is perfection. It was the first book with multiple characters that didn't confuse me at all and I could follow the story without getting lost. This means a lot because I've tried a lot of books with many characters and it was a disaster every time.

Aurelia was the heiress of the throne and I have to confess that I was expecting her to be annoying and bitchy. She proved me wrong because no matter what happened to her, she remained kind and strong, without showing the weak side (which existed of course because we all have one). She was real and I could relate because she was not the usual flawless girl we read about in YA books. No, Aurelia had flaws and insecurities that real girls have.

[Her arms were scrawny, her breasts small, her hips too narrow.]

Because of the multiple characters we didn't have the chance to get to know her more but her scenes were enough to understand her need to revenge and get her throne back.

Kostadin, Rycen and Marel were the other characters that drew my attention. Kostadin... let me keep Kostadin a secret! I will only say that he is quite charming and evil and that you’ll want to read about him.

["Evil is just... so harsh. I prefer ethically unfettered."]

Rycen was Aurelia's love interest and mine as well. He could be a great book boyfriend. Mysterious and brave, a tad selfish (but that made him more real), smart and handsome.

[He smelled of smoke and leather and hay. It was the smell of wild and freedom, like nothing she had ever experienced before.]

At this point I would like to say that I was impressed that the book just broke all the stereotypical stuff I was expecting to read in a YA book. One of them was about Rycen’s appearance.

[She run her fingers over the angry scar that marred his broad chest.]

[She stroked the fine dusting of dark hair that covered his chest and abdomen.

YESH, a flawed hairy man at last! I was so sick and tired of the perfect guys with perfect skin and perfect abs! I needed a MAN not a freaking doll.

Rycen was breathtaking.

[... his eyes were the color of the sea during a storm, which cut through the fog in her mind.]

Marel was the villain. A really interesting villain I can say. I didn't mind reading about him and the approach was excellent. We had a point of view from the bad guy and we knew things that the lead didn't know and it was awesome. Knowing all the plans and plotting against the good guys while they had no idea and they were planning something different made me feel so on the ball and I wanted to warn them but I couldn’t and it was amazing,

Other than that the pace was fast and the book was rushed. The exact same story would be better in two books. We would have the chance to know more about the characters and their world. Well, I’m not saying that it was bad but it could be even better in two parts.

I am satisfied with what I’ve read and yes if you’re thinking of reading the book, just do it!

Profile Image for Emmeline (The Book Herald).
384 reviews46 followers
April 20, 2015
I obtained a copy of this book via Netgalley in return for an honest review

It's not everyday that a book has me stumped...not in a good way. Honestly, a part of me is still trying to make sense of what the heck just happened

First off- the Title, um, I'm sorry stones and finger bones? Did i miss something? there was no relevance to any stones or finger bones!

Second- Unfeeling characters.

Third- why, just why?

Okay, Okay. I know i make no sense. Let's see if I can elaborate.

This book, the prose and plot just had my eye twinkling like a flipping anime character! That quickly went away when my patience began to wear thin at an irritating princess.

let me talk a little about the plot:

In a land ruled by a King and a beloved Princess,
Darkness abounds.
A murder occurs leaving the kingdom devastated.
what everyone doesn't know, is that the murder was committed by magic.
Magic is outlawed and hunted.
An immortal lurks, vying for chaos.
A princess abducted by a dashing rogue.
What will happen?
Who is at fault?
Who is next in line for the throne?

I made that sound pretty cool huh? Well, it was sadly lacking. I'm sorry, but it's the honest truth.

The writing in this book let the story down.
The way things were described- scenery, emotion, characters, etc... Was bad.
At sad and supposedly heart wrenching moments, i could have waved the banner that i absolutely didn't care. That's because the author didn't make me care.

example- "The blacksmith pouted," Does anyone else have a hard time seeing a big and burly dude, who works with fire and steel POUT?!

Next example- "You are evil." Aurelia doubted there existed a word that could adequately describe...(his) depravity.
"Evil is just...so harsh. I prefer ethically unfettered."


The love story- when? how? whaaaaaatttt?

I just...no.

Don't get me wrong, this book wasn't for me, it was okay but i definitely will not be rereading this. It may be more your thing though.

I liked Rycen at first, he sounding intriguing and handsome, but again, as the story progressed i didn't care. He got angry and furious or possessive or protective, it had no effect on me. On the contrary, the characters sounded strangely bipolar (happy one sec, sad another, then furious the next moment.)

The scenes didn't flow!

one page- "I won't die for you."
Next 5 pages- "Kill me. I will die for you."

uggghhhh? umm?

Also, what would you do if you had to kill the person you loved?
well stick a knife through them of course!

There would literally be NO WAY i could do that, not if it was just for my gain. I'm sorry.

So during the moments of grief, all I could think of was that the character was pretty upid, stupid.

I'm just SO annoyed right now!

And that ending, well, ladies and gents, i give you the mother of all cliff hangers.
it took me a second to realise that i was flipping through the index, because it felt like the book ended in the middle of a chapter!

A positive- the cover is really nice. But misleading.


I had SUCH hopes!

That is all. rant over.

-The Book Herald.
Profile Image for Rachel (The Rest Is Still Unwritten).
1,601 reviews203 followers
March 27, 2015
Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours and author Jessica Minyard for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review!

Find this review and more on my blog The Rest Is Still Unwritten!

Stones and Finger Bones is Jessica Minyard’s debut novel and is a well told and entertaining fantasy story that weaves together a story of politics, magic and danger. Vivid, sharp and charismatic, Stones and Finger Bones is a promising start to Minyard’s Black Towers series that will no doubt leave readers ready for more.

Told in third person and through the eyes of numerous characters within the story, Stones and Finger Bones introduces readers to Aurelia Barone, heir to the throne of a mighty kingdom and a feisty, fiery haired young woman whose life is upturned when her father the King is murdered and Aurelia finds herself kidnapped shortly after by an infuriating mercenary named Rycen.

Taken cross-country by the smart-mouthed and infuriating young man, Aurelia has her eyes opened when she begins to see a different side to her kingdom than she’s ever seen before and learns that her father and his military are responsible for some shocking actions against the magic users within the kingdom. Even worse, the individual responsible for orchestrating her father’s murder is closer to home than Aurelia could have anticipated, and the things that Aurelia may have to do in order to retain her throne may affect her more than she could ever have imagined……

I found that I really enjoyed this story. Minyard’s world building was very impressive and I found it easy to follow the heroine of the story. Stones and Finger Bones introduces readers to a vivid world with magic, politics and demonic creatures woven together. High stakes and romance weave together and the darker side of the world depicted makes for some intriguing reading.

Aurelia was an easy heroine to follow and I appreciated the growth Jessica Minyard forced her to undertake in this first novel alone. Aurelia is quite likable, and her highborn nature blends well with her sharp tongue and attitude to create a real go-getter of a girl considering her place as a princess and a lady of her society.

As the man responsible for kidnapping Aurelia and taking her as somewhat of a hostage, I loved Rycen. He’s my kind a male lead within a fantasy story; cocky, rash but oh, so capable, confidant and fierce. I adored the chemistry between he and Aurelia that developed and grew and simply made for a thrilling romance!

Now, I don’t want to give too much away, but something Aurelia does towards the end of the novel left me flabbergasted. I actually feel quite heartbroken and whilst I know romances don’t completely make a story with other aspects just as important, I found myself invested in Aurelia and Rycen’s relationship and as such, I feel really gutted over what transpired and the choice Aurelia makes…..It. Is. Not. Fair!

Personally, I don’t know whether this is part of a bigger plan author Jessica Minyard has for the series, but I’m already hoping and praying to see something magical happen that will give us all a second chance with Rycen. It’s too heartbreaking for me to consider anything else at this moment.

Rich and thrilling, Stones and Finger Bones kicks off a great new fantasy series that is sure to appeal to fans of Sarah J. Maas Throne of Glass series!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Amanda.
191 reviews20 followers
March 18, 2015
A wonderful debut! This book is refreshing in that it does not follow the YA formula. I was pleasantly surprised with some of the plot twists and the end has me wishing the second book was finished. I will say there are times when the story does not flow very well but it recovers quickly. I am looking forward to the next book.
Profile Image for Giselle.
1,057 reviews907 followers
April 7, 2016
Aurelia is the princess of her kingdom, and with her responsibilities as princess she has to wed someone her father wants for her. Not only does she want to be Queen for her people, she wants to decide things for herself. When things start to descend into chaos, she realizes she can only depend on herself because the kingdom is at stake from an unlikely enemy.

I really liked the fantasy world that Jessica built upon. Basically I imagined a renaissance era where the castles are big and drafty nestled between a valley so they're pretty protected from invaders at almost all sides. Fantasy and magic go hand in hand and this book is no exception. I was constantly trying to figure out what their intentions were. These magic people of the world, and I still couldn't really understand it. Different story-lines all weave together to make one cohesive story that all tie together by the end. I ended up having a lot more questions instead of getting answers. Probably my favourite part is the journey that tied Aurelia to make her own fast and hard decisions that led into a larger character arc that I admired because she always seemed to look to men for help. She seemed so lost in the beginning, but really grew a lot as the book progress. I found Rycen to be so mysterious, but at the same time he's super annoying. I didn't find the chemistry between them to be anything but a filler for romance which I promptly ignored. The one thing that I noticed about the dialogue was the modern day swear words when a character would be exasperated. Some of the sentences seemed to be too contemporary, and I had to take note that this was set in the past. Or at least that's how I imagined it to be.

Overall, a good story with magic and adventure starring a girl just trying to save her kingdom from ruin and finding the strength within herself to face it.



She was tired of men telling her that her choices were not her own. (45)

The hearts of men are so easily corrupted. (91)

Why did everyone in this godforsaken town think she was a whore? (127)

People are always unhappy with the positions god grants them. (140)

But, my lord, it is the desire of men that drives ladies to such fashions. (179)

Evil is just…so harsh, I prefer ethically unfettered. (211)

Death comes for us all eventually. Let me choose the how and why. (217)
Profile Image for Lindsay.
Author 4 books52 followers
November 8, 2015
While I wouldn’t call this story thrilling, it was most definitely captivating. It had a slow build right from the beginning, winding together a perfectly crafted world. It’s so believable that it reads almost like historical fiction, in a world build around magic. Minyard’s writing style was perfectly suited to this genre, and she painted the most beautiful scenes! It was so easy for me to imagine the forest, ocean or desert, the castles and the villages. And of course, Aurelia and her kidnapper, Rycin, fit right in.

What I really love about a book like this is the blurred lines. Even Aurelia, who is the obvious character to root for, has a taste of darkness in her. I can easily see her being corrupted by the power that lies within her. The villains are walking an equally thin line, with questionable motives. Maybe they could have more noble intentions? The most obvious of the villains is Kostadin, a tempter of sorts, who is responsible for most of the conflict. But I get the impression that we haven’t heard his whole story yet. Even the most evil of characters is not so cut and dry.

Magic doesn’t play a very large role so far in the story. We’re still being taught the dark history of its past. Though most of the chapters are told either from Aurelia’s or her uncle’s POV, there is the occasional chapter from an ancient journal, filling in the details of how magic came to be so reviled in this world.

So, while I may not be able to say that the story made me feel anxious or excited, it has made me feel compelled to read more. I can’t stay away from this series!

A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Erica.
119 reviews20 followers
March 30, 2015
When her father, the king, is murdered, Aurelia finds herself kidnapped, and learning things about her family she never imagined could be true.

This is a fascinating world with a good history, and it gripped my attention well. There are some fantastic action scenes throughout and plenty of dark magic to keep us fantasy enthusiasts begging for more. Aurelia is a strong female lead, though a bit naive about her uncle. Her attitudes do not come across as forced, and she turns out to be a typical fantasy female and is likeable enough despite some flaws.

The only thing truly marring this otherwise excellent story is that the heroine is predictably stricken with Stockholm Syndrome. Why oh why do so many fantasy females fall in love with their captors? I'd rather she fell in love with a frog, or anything, anyone, anywhere. I wish authors would stop doing this. I knew it was coming, but I hoped beyond hope that Ms. Minyard would surprise me. Unfortunately, she did not. If it hadn't been for all the evil magic, I probably would have stopped reading.

Now for the dark magic. My favorite character was the evil one, Marel, because he is so wonderfully evil. He summons dark spirits to help him gain the throne, and why not? I love a good villain, and he fit the bill nicely.

I did not care for lead male Rycen. He is nothing special just your typical fantasy hot guy. There are a ton of named characters, some of them with very small parts, and I had trouble knowing who was who. That didn't detract from the story, and the plot, including a deep dark family secret, kept me reading despite the predictable brewing love plot. I'm not sure I'd read more of this series simply because I think it will turn into too much of a romance for my tastes. This first book, however, is excellent if you can ignore that one aspect.

I was given a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Angie.
2,338 reviews228 followers
August 10, 2015
I received an ARC through NetGalley.

I was mainly drawn to Stones and Finger Bones because of the title. It also sounded like it was going to be an exciting, dark fantasy, but for the most part I was just bored. It started off pretty great, since Aurelia must be cursed. Her second fiance has just died, and her father has already picked out her third! But then her father is murdered, she’s kidnapped, and learns that her whole life is a lie. Now, Aurelia must take back her throne, avenge her father’s death, and dispatch those who would attempt to use her for their own gain.

Stones and Finger Bones was a very fast read, but the plot also moved too quickly for me to ever get invested in it. Aurelia is moving from place to place. She meets new people, leaves them, then meets more new people at her next location. One second she has no magic, then suddenly she’s the most badass magic user ever and is setting stuff on fire! And it jumps to multiple characters’ POV, including one from 3,000 years ago! There’s a lot going on, so I never quite settled into the story. It was too fast paced for my liking.

I didn’t dislike Stones and Finger Bones. In fact, the ending chapters were really great since Aurelia was taking control and putting her plan into place, but also someone else was trying to put their counter attack in place. But that whole middle portion was just a blur. Nothing stuck with me, since we were never in one place or with characters long enough to really get to come to care for them.

Read more of my reviews at Pinkindle Reads & Reviews.
Profile Image for BabyMooSaysWhat .
200 reviews29 followers
May 29, 2015
My Review
2.5 Stars

I was given a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

This book has somehow left me confused, annoyed, and wanting to read more.

Which is confusing to me because I absolutely hated the characters. All of them. It was like reading a book where all of the characters have multiple personality disorder. Without any logic that I could see or follow, the charges suddenly change their entire way of thinking and acting, and then flip flop back and forth, depending on the chapter. They have absolutely no redeeming qualities. Except for maybe the horse. The horse is pretty cool.

And then there is the story itself...

The story line starts out pretty light even with the king being murdered and the princess kidnapped. And then the book just drags and drags and drags... bam! Out of nowhere we have taken a severe sharp turn down the path of dark and freaking twisted. It's like the author couldn't decide which way the book should go. It made for choppy reading and a bit of a disgruntled feeling. It was like two books going on at once. The top layer was light and carefree and a definite young adult fantasy read with the bottom layer about murder and betrayal with a dash of psycho mixed in. It was an unpleasant combination that want quite pulled off. The end of the book wasn't even a cliff hanger ending, it just ended... badly, as if in the middle of a chapter.I'm definitely not going to go out of my way to read more of the series, but if the books happen to fall in my lap, I'd give them a go with the hope of actually figuring out what is going on.
Profile Image for Sayani Raygoswami.
42 reviews8 followers
July 21, 2016
First when I chose this book I thought, ''Stones and Finger Bones. Interesting name!'', and of course it was fantasy (my favorite genre), so the fate was decided, I had to read this book. The first chapter being interesting, if not very gripping, I read on. But as the main characters came into play and few of the important twists were in place, the story lagged, both in character development and tension building. It felt like the main characters themselves were least interested in what was happening to their life; for the want of better expression, they were totally bored. As a result, I was too. I never quite understood what all the fuss was about, other than going from point A to point B and back again. The story ended abruptly (yes, I know there would be a second book, but really??), some people died without any apparent reason and the princess was very powerful because she can set herself on fire... The most interesting character in the whole book, 'Kostadin', got only around ten pages to himself. I felt he could have changed the book drastically if he got more page time. In fact the past life of this character, if executed properly, can make a good book.
Profile Image for P.
392 reviews6 followers
December 5, 2016
Free copy obtained from StoryCartel in return for an unbiased review

It started off well (there were a few jarring notes* but I took a lenient stance) till she killed the man she had fallen in love with. I stopped reading after that.

* A. The old woman named Dynest said something like "I never got a chance to fetch the scroll". You have a powerful woman by your side and you never got a chance?
B. Aurelia wanted to a queen, not a puppet consort (I was briefly impressed), but later she didn't even care about what happened to her kingdom; she agreed to hunt for the scroll.
C. Too many side characters and they were not memorable at all.
D. She started to care about her kidnapper. Stockholm Syndrome much? She was upset when he was injured. Why? She was kidnapped, trussed up like a chicken and yet she believed him when he said he had all the answers? Why did she trust him? Why should we, as readers, trust him?
E. The change in Einar's personality was unsettling.
Profile Image for Melissa.
121 reviews4 followers
April 29, 2015
Wonderful world building! The background mythos is stunning and eerie, giving just a taste of what may come in the trilogy. Considering how much intrigue is in this book, the next installment is going to be bananas.

The story does take place in a misogynistic empire, which is an obvious downside, but I believe that will changing swiftly with the following two novels. Aurelia has zero agency, (and, in my opinion, makes horrible romantic decisions), up until she is finally alone, wherein she becomes an unrepentant badass.

By the last few chapters, I am wholeheartedly cheering on our heroine and her, (finally), well picked gaggle of guys.
Profile Image for Rhea Daniel Dear.
35 reviews2 followers
October 11, 2021
The story got more and more interesting as I read. I fell in love with the kidnapper and mercenary - Rycen. The red haired princess becomes a man killer
and is all the stronger for it. No wilting lily here. The characters and the plot are not predictable. The situations are sometimes wonderfully weird. My main complaint: How do I find the sequel otherwise exciting reading. I am working on a (taken 2 classes) MFA in Writing at Lindenwood University where writer and author Minyard works as a student advisor. She is actually one of my advisors however she knows nothing of me reading the book or writing this brief review.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jamie (Books and Ladders).
1,382 reviews189 followers
May 19, 2015
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This review was originally posted on Books and Ladders

I love fantasy novels, especially ones that include magic. This one had the promise of both and while we only saw a little bit of magic, I am sure we will see more in the rest of the series. However, I was still a teensy bit disappointed with the book.

Aurelia was a great character -- sometimes. She was headstrong and knows how to play the political game of the kingdom, which will be very useful, especially in the next novel. However, she didn't question Rycen at all really and even though she was questioning him, she still let him take her away at various points without giving her actual answers. That confused me because (1) she is a princess and her father had just been murdered so she should not go off anywhere with some random guy just because he is hot and (2) he drugged and kidnapped her and she is just kind of like well that's cool where are we heading? It seemed farfetched to me that she wouldn't have put up more of a fight after she was in the woods considering how scrappy she was when Rycen was first in the process of kidnapping her. Otherwise, she was a good character and the only reason I enjoyed the story. I am excited to see how she will grow and how her magic will develop.

I was hoping for more though. More plot, more time spent developing characters, more everything but we didn't get it. There was a lot of foundation of what is to come, but it is basic building blocks and not much more. I feel like I missed out on something vital because there was no travelogue, which as much as I hate, would have been helpful here. It definitely would have helped explain the budding relationship between Rycen and Aurelia because it went from 0-100 real quick in my opinion because there was barely any mention of it throughout the novel.

There were some plot points that I don't think I really understood and I don't know if it was because I wasn't paying close enough attention or if they weren't explained. But I'm going to say it was the latter. The entire temple scene made zero sense to me because it felt really rushed. I wasn't quite sure how Kostadin appeared there and how he wasn't tied to Marel even though his "pet" was. All of the pieces to that puzzle are still extremely scattered to the point I don't even have the edges put together. The other thing that confused me was the bromance between Marel and Einar at the end of the novel since there was so much tension between them. I do hope Carra gets the hell out of dodge because she is not going to survive the tug between the two.

Overall: 3.5/5. Interesting start but choppy plot made it difficult to follow the progression of the story and what will happen next.
Profile Image for Kariny .
256 reviews18 followers
April 24, 2015
*Netgalley ARC*


Aurelia's betrothed has died and her father has already fixed her marriage with someone else. She can't get out of it, she wants to be a queen her people deserve. But one fateful night, she finds her father's dead body and the castle is sent into upheaval as the king's brother becomes the temporary regent until Aurelia marries. But Aurelia is kidnapped by a handsome but irritating man, Rycen, who infiltrated the castle as a spice merchant. As the knowledge of her father's murder looms before her, and her kingdom in the hands of an uncle whom she doesn't trust, Aurelia has to battle her feelings for a kidnapper who won't reveal the reason why he took her. She uncovers secrets and the magic in her bloodline. Everyone wants something from her but when she reaches her destination, she questions her father's rule and everything she has learnt. Aurelia will have to battle an ancient evil to get her kingdom back from the clutches of her uncle. But one thing is for certain; she can trust no one.

From the beginning this book drew me in! There was not one single moment of boredom, the writing was beautiful and everything was just so well placed. There were shifting POV's so you could see what happened at the castle when Aurelia was away. It was just a really thrilling and gripping story!

Aurelia is a strong headed girl and wants to be a queen. She fights for her people with a great passion and at the end of the book you really see a new side of her, not the one who was always arguing with Rycen, but a real queen. I really felt the shift in demeanor in the last few pages. I really think she will be an AMAZING queen because she would do anything for her people-and i mean anything.

Which brings us to the part where one little thing she did brought this whole book down for me. I won't ruin it, but for me it really ruined the whole book! I just didn't understand how she could do that!? the romance was just so SWOON WORTHY but it was ruined! And i guess the author took a risk, i've seen some authors do that same thing with their characters and sometimes it does actually work and becomes a part of the story..but this? Nope, i do congratulate the author on taking such a big risk but it didn't do it for me.

That being said, i am VERY interested to see what happens next. If the writing and story hadn't been so beautiful i would have rated this below 2 stars! But i really can't ignore how much i enjoyed this book at the beginning and even at the end. I will definitely love the second book even though i will be disappointed..but you never know, the author might surprise us!! This is definitely a series i will follow because i know that Aurelia will be amazing in the next book! I can't wait to see more of the setting and the battle for the throne!
Profile Image for Maghon Thomas.
1,380 reviews1 follower
May 24, 2015
This is a new series and a new author. And it was great! I loved that I got all point of views from multiple characters because you got to see so much! You see the bad guy, the good guy, the main lady, and even a few on the side :) This one I couldn't put down because I wanted to know so much more and I can't wait to see what is gunna go down after this. But let me tell you! I totally was devastated at the end. So if you are looking for the happy, not so in depth story, this one isn't for you. If you want action, amazing story telling, and some heart wrenching moments that will blow your mind, this one is yours!!

Aurelia is the Princess. She was raised to be queen. Her dad, the king, is a strong man and has particular views. But he's murdered and leaves the kingdom in utter chaos with a stand in king who will ruin it. And in the mean time, Aurelia is taken from her room, and dragged, because she needs to learn exactly what's going on and surrounding her life. She's been told a lot of lies. She's got some spunk and I loved that. I don't know if all of her decisions are the right ones, but they were hers to make, so we will have to see what the out come will be after all that has happened. And a lot of things have happened. Rycen takes her, then sweeps her off her feet, then puts her in some conspicuous positions. LOL I loved their banter! And their adventure, because things changed, and Aurelia grew up and grew into herself. Who she is supposed to be.

Rycen is awesome. He has some gall. He's got some attitude too :) And he's got some crazy friends in weird places. And he's connections open Aurelia's eyes. Like with the widow who saves him. This situation is the first real eye opener to her, and how life is outside the castle. And because of people and things like this, Aurelia is going to have to put some serious lives on the line, hers included. I really want to talk about some of the side characters, but I seriously don't know how, without telling you significant things that will ruin at least something for you. Just know that there's some very cool characters along the way. Gian, Carra, Serry, the captain, Benigo is my ultimate favorite... That's all you get, names :)

The story is so well done, and told so beautifully. I wasn't sure what to expect really, but I loved it. I think the world building is fantastic and the atmosphere keeps you captivated in the story. My only hope is that "ending" in the end of the book. Please don't let that be the end! LOL Or there better be some really great reason, because I do not think Romeo and Juliet is romantic, it's freaking tragic hahaha I really can't wait to read book two!! :) AMAZING!! 5 PAWS!
15 reviews
August 4, 2016
Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy in exchange for a review.

I am torn on this book. On the positive side, I enjoyed the historical episodes, some of the surprising turns taken, the multiple points of view and the writing itself. I think this was very engaging, and I wanted to just keep reading (and onto the rest of the series). The journal pages were my favorite part of the book, and I look forward to learning more about that period and the relationships alluded to that led to the present day. The last few pages were quite intriguing, and left me wanting more. I had no issues keeping track of who was who and I think the author writes well.

On the less than positive, I do not believe in the love story (especially with the immediacy of the twist-led action at the end), never really emotionally connected with the characters, and struggled to understand motives as they seemed to change a good portion of the time. It's a little hard to speak on specific dissatisfaction, as I don't want to spoil the surprise for those who haven't read it, but there were many occasions where I did a double-take to make sure I had read a passage correctly. So many characters started as heroes and turned into psychotics, without a corresponding backstory to understand the change. I did not believe in Aurelia's magical progression, and am a little surprised at how easily she was either manipulated or persuaded to someone else's thinking throughout the book. If she truly wanted to be a ruler, wouldn't she have been more interested in those 'boring' meetings, or a little less inclined to wander off on a quest? I understand she was kidnapped in the beginning, but after one failed escape attempt, Aurelia seemed to be far more invested in receiving affection than leading her own life.

I think the blurb is a bit misleading, not in content, but in the tone and expectations that the reader has after seeing it. I personally expected a darker high-fantasy tale (which I love), and I don't think this quite delivered. I really want to read this book as told from the point of view of Kostadin, Marel, or pretty much any of the historical figures. Rating this so low is difficult, because I enjoyed the writing style, but disliked pretty much all of the rest. I have no idea how I can enjoy the writing but not like the plot or believe in the characters. I would rate this higher had you caught me in the middle of a passage than now that I have thought through what to say........which leaves me feeling unsettled.
14 reviews14 followers
August 26, 2019
Disclaimer: I obtained a free copy of this book from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.

This book was really confusing because the characters couldn't...well, they couldn't stay in character. It's hard to review this without having some spoilers, so be warned.

In one place, a duke is a doddering old man; in another he is a powerful warlord. He encourages the Princess not to marry against her wishes, then forces his sister to seduce the new King. The Princess herself swings between being a spoiled brat, a fainting flower, a person who values goodness and honor, and a cold-blooded killer. Her father supposedly dotes on his only child, but doesn't hesitate to say "“Have you forgotten your place? I am your king and lord, and you will do as I command.” (Jessica Minyard. Stones and Finger Bones ARC (Kindle Location 137). Jessica Minyard.) The Princess' handmaiden suddenly goes from a forgettable character to an amazingly beautiful and alluring temptress. Seriously? There's not a single strong female role model in this book.

All of the major characters undergo wild personality swings. Half the time I couldn't fathom why they were feeling or acting the way they did. The only two characters I liked were both killed. Why? Both their deaths seemed totally unnecessary and detracted from the book.

There is a very cool horse. Too bad the author doesn't know much about horses. After a hard day of riding, a horse is going to drink a lot more than a small wooden bowl full of water.

The author seemed at her best depicting scenes of feasting and dressing. It's a shame there weren't more positives about the book because the world created by the author shows real promise. I can picture amazing stories coming out of that world.

The ending was as confusing as the rest of the book. I didn't realize it had ended until I found myself reading the appendix. I kept thinking I must have accidentally skipped a few pages.

And yet despite all the negatives, I find myself wishing the sequel was out. I wouldn't go out of my way to get it, but if I had it I'd read it in hopes that something, anything, gets better.

Edit: August 2019
Some things just stay in your mind because of how terrible they were. This book is one of them, so I've downgraded it to one star. At the end of the earlier review, I said I would read a sequel. Nope, no I wouldn't.
Profile Image for Alis.
243 reviews21 followers
March 31, 2015
What I liked: This story leaps straight into what's going to be the main center of conflict with the prologue and then takes a step down to show us one of our main characters, Aurelia who is a princess. I really liked Aurelia because while she didn't really stand up on her own at the beginning of the book over the course of the book she begins to do that, and she's clearly not someone who is guaranteed to not be corrupted by her own magic. She's more grey than white in terms of her morality, and so many of the villains are as well. My favorite line about that in the book was "Evil is just…so harsh, I prefer ethically unfettered" showing that just because they're villains doesn't mean that they're evil. They're pretty grey too, although at a much darker shade than Aurelia is right now. While it's very clear from the beginning that Kostadin is one of the villains I feel like there is much more to his story than meets the eye, like his history will explain how he came to be as he is. I also really enjoyed the sections where I learned how magic became so unwanted in this realm, it was a glimpse into the downfall of magic and those sections thrilled me the most.

What I didn't like: I wasn't completely sold on the romance portion of the book. I liked it, but I wasn't invested in seeing them stick together until the very end of the series. I just feel like Aurelia could do better in her choice of who she likes, but the story seemed to overshadow that so it seemed to be a backburner thing to me anyway.

Overall Review: While there was a lack of actual magic being preformed in this book, everything that sets up the way the magic works in this realm was done very well. The political aspects that were woven into the story were done well and the way we learn about what's been happening to magic users was interwoven very well into the story. Overall though my favorite aspect was the dark magic that we were shown, because who doesn't love a little dark magic that gets someone the throne?

Recommend?: I do! It's a very good fantasy read with some predictability but with some parts that made me very pleased. A great fantasy read in my opinion!
Profile Image for Kasey.
1,188 reviews29 followers
March 24, 2015
* I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

This was a book that I didn’t really have any expectations for. I hadn’t even read the synopsis since I requested to be part of the blog tour. So I was pleasantly surprised that it ended up so different than what I expected. There were even a few twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. I’m not sure that I really liked Aurelia. She wasn’t very likeable, although she wasn’t cruel or mean. She was just like a normal person with good parts and bad parts.

There were many twists and turns in this book that surprised me. It’s pretty hard to surprise me because I read so much, I can usually spot a twist a mile away, and this book was enjoyable because I didn’t see them coming. However, I was not surprised by Aurelia’s mother being kind of a shady individual. The minute she showed up as alive, I knew that she was going to cause problems. She didn’t seem overly maternal, and far more interested in power and what Aurelia could do for her.

I feel like Aurelia is going to be much darker and harder in the next book. I can’t even be upset or not understand why. This girl has been through so much, and she has every right to be angry and want to destroy things. I hope she doesn’t, but I can see it happening.

The writing in places was stilted and choppy. It didn’t always flow together, but the plot and characters were well rounded. The few places where it didn’t flow right were pretty minimal considering all of the great things that this book has in it. It was pretty clear that this was a first novel, however it is a GREAT first novel! I was only going to give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars, but after writing the review I think it really deserves 4 stars. Recommended for people who love fantasy, romance, and surprises!

*This review was first posted to Moonlight Gleam Reviews http://moonlightgleam.com/2015/03/sto...*
Profile Image for Jaime.
543 reviews149 followers
March 31, 2015
3 1/2 Stars!

I started Stones and Finger Bones a little wary, a little excited. I am so happy that the excitement quickly took over, and left the wariness far, far behind! It was a great fantasy novel, with a fantastic world. The world-building alone was a huge part of my excitement, and the magic made it even better. Magic pretty much makes everything better! The writing was a little shaky at times, but I was so involved in the plot, the characters lives, that I can forgive it!

Stones and Finger Bones was a dark, magical story with an MC who has not had an easy go of things. Some people will probably not like Aurelia, and I will admit that she grated on my nerves at times, but I appreciated her as an MC, and I understood a lot of her actions. She had some seriously tough decisions to make, but in the end she became a much stronger character. That type of growth is a huge plus for me personally, as a reader. The romance between Aurelia and Rycen was a decent one. I never really got fully involved in THEM, as a story, but the rest of the story was so good that the romance was a backseater for me anyway.

If you like stories full of adventure, darker in nature, with characters who struggle and fight, grow and learn, Stones and Finger Bones is for you. If you like magic, and awesomely nasty villains, this is a book for you. Fast-paced and thrilling, Stones and Finger Bones was an unexpectedly juicy read. I am looking forward to where Jessica Minyard takes Aurelia and this world in another book!
Profile Image for Brittney.
180 reviews19 followers
May 16, 2015
***I received a copy in exchange for my honest review****
The summary goes a little something like this:
Aurelia is a princess that is next in line to receive the throne from her father. However, her father is suddenly killed by an assassin and Aurelia is kidnapped by the mercenary Rycen. Then, (surprise, surprise) the reader finds out that Marel actually instrumented his brother's death. This seemed fairly unpredictable but it worked for the story so I am not complaining (much). She then travels with Rycen on a journey (SPOILER) to see her mother, who she later finds out is completely crazy.
I did not have very high hopes for this book since I had been reading so many disappointing novels lately but I was blown away by this book. This may have been due to my low expectations but nevertheless I was impressed! The author managed to integrate the characters quite smoothly to have an engaging story and I appreciated the way she did not linger on boring sections of the book. I was able to maintain interest and not have to force myself to go back to the book.
There were also some parts of the book that I did not see coming, such as what ends up happening to Rycen. This was upsetting to me since I actually did not mind Rycen and thought another solution could have been found but oh well. I did not really understand the title since I did not really see how this references the book? However, I did enjoy reading this and if I see the next book available for a good price I may pick it up to read.
Profile Image for Bryn Schut.
1 review
July 16, 2016
Disclaimer: I received an ARC on Story Cartel in exchange for my honest review.

While the novel had initial promise (the author writes a few great lines, and her descriptions of clothing are where she really shines), I ultimately found Stones and Finger Bones disappointing.

My primary issues are with the story itself:
1) The bulk of characters are very "stock fantasy trope" and many of them have inconsistent personalities.
2) There were too many plot points that were left dangling, even for the first book in a series.
3) The POV shifts were frustrating to me rather than enlightening.
4) Lots of subtle misogyny that really didn't sit well with me after I closed the book.

It felt a lot like a first or second draft where the core ideas were getting hammered out. I would have liked to read the book that came out of a fourth or fifth draft, because I think that book would be a lot stronger.
Profile Image for Merissa (Archaeolibrarian).
3,595 reviews103 followers
March 25, 2015
I received this book from Xpresso Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review.

Stones and Finger Bones is a book of magic, deception, treachery and confusion. Aurelia is a princess, also known as a pawn, in the game that her father is playing. However, unknown to her father, someone else wants to play and isn't afraid of a small matter of murder getting in their way. Follow this with a whirlwind kidnapping, new people, who to trust, who not to, and you get a book that is guaranteed to keep you turning the pages as quickly as you can read them.

This is a fast-paced, well-written book with a well-thought out plot with no holes. Expect the unexpected because that's what you'll get. The characters are devious and/or charming and you will either love or loathe them.

Definitely recommended for all fans of Fantasy.
Profile Image for Angie.
210 reviews24 followers
May 13, 2015
I really enjoyed reading this book. I loved the story and where the name came from (you'll find out as you read). The world was interesting and I liked the character Rycin, the assassin who kidnaps Aurelia. There is a major plot twist in the story that really shocked me, and not in a good way. However, I'm hoping the next book in the series makes up for it and I will definitely be reading to find out.

*I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jessica Minyard.
Author 8 books21 followers
February 24, 2015
Update 2/24/2015

Paperbacks are available on Amazon!

Update 2/13/2015

Ebooks are live on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Scribd, Page Foundry, and Tolino!

Update 2/11/15

Ebooks will be available tomorrow! We've encountered a snag with the formatting of the paperback, but it is being remedied and they will be available ASAP.

Happy reading!
Profile Image for James Hill.
36 reviews
May 3, 2015
This book was awesome, absolutely fantastic! in fact a book that I could read over and over and over.
his smartly written, thought-provoking novel is a must read for any fan of fiction. A unique blend of all my favorite literary genres it's no wonder I loved it. Very highly recommended.

Thanks to Netgalley for a copy!
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