If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Review of The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

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Title: The Shadow Queen
Author: C.J. Redwine
Publication date: February 16, 2016
Publisher:  Balzer + Bray
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling, Romance
Format: Hardcover (purchased)

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


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Confession time: I have met C.J. Redwine over ten times (probably even more, but hey, who’s counting?). I love going to C.J.’s events and hearing her talk about her books, life, and her writing shenanigans. I’ve met her hilarious husband, while purchasing her first book; during our first meeting, he showed me his tattoo of the barcode for one of C.J.’s books (yes, he is just as awesome as C.J.). But even though I am a huge fan of the wonderful and passionate C.J. Redwine, and I own all of her books, this is the first book of her’s that I have read, and you guys, I loved it!!!

You guys, whenever I’m in Nashville for a book event, I make sure I am in C.J.’s audience. She’s a great public speaker, and even though she has faced many difficulties in her past, her power and fierce attitude shine bright when she talks about her work, and I love that about her. First off, I have heard C.J. talk about the beginning formation of The Shadow Queen at least 3 times. I know it started off after viewing The Huntsman starring Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth. I know that this is a planned series of 10 books, 4 confirmed to be published, and each book can be read separately. 

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Fantasy books and retellings will always be dear to my heart. They are my escape from reality. They are my dreams manifesting into unknown worlds filled with feisty and independent princesses, talking animals, and die-hard adventures. Fortunately, The Shadow Queen contained all the elements I love about fantasy books and MORE. 

The main character of The Shadow Queen, Lorelai Diederich, is now one of my favorite literary heroines. She is fiery, caring, and dedicated to righting the wrongs of her kingdom. Throughout the story, she stays faithful to her mission to save her kingdom, but she also faces each obstacle she encounters with relentless strength and  diligence. As a princess, a sister, a friend, and a warrior, she offers a lot to the story. Lorelai loses so much in this book, but instead of wallowing in self-pity, SHE PERSISTS! 

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And not to give too much away, but I love how magic and magical beings are immersed in this Snow White retelling. We have everything from poisonous apples, transforming dragons, mind-speaking pet birds, and terrorizing ogres. Magic is cherished in this book, and even though it may be used by some as a selfish means, it is also the perfect resource to conquering evil. 

Last, even though one of my favorite characters dies in this book (WHY?! THERE WAS SO MUCH POTENTIAL and DEVELOPMENT THERE!!), I really enjoyed this book. I honestly cannot wait to start The Wish Granter and read C.J. Redwine’s new twist on an old fairy tale. 

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NOTE:  I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds. I reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

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If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: ARC Review of Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

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Title: Wintersong
Author: S. Jae-Jones
Publication date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retelling
Format: e-ARC from Netgalley

About the book:

Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


Rants and Raves of Wintersong

Once again, another 2017 debut novel has bewitched me, and this time I have been enchanted by Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones. Set up as a retelling of Labyrinth, I interpreted Wintersong more as a mashup of Christina Rossetti’s cautious poem “Goblin Market,” the fierceness of “Beauty and the Beast,” with sparks of Jane Eyre‘s “plain-Jane-with-an-independent-will” shadowing the burning flames of Liesl and the Goblin King’s story. I don’t say this lightly, but after reading this novel, I just wanted to shout, “F!!!!CK, this book is so good!” 

First, I loved the storyline and pacing of Wintersong. After devouring 150 pages in one sitting, and noticing that the book was 448 pages long, I slowed my reading speed in order to savor the story a little longer. S. Jae-Jones writing is so beautiful and engaging. I really enjoyed how her writing illuminated such strong passion and raw affection on the page. I personally found her storytelling and characters leaving more than a story buzzing in my ear. In my case, Liesl and the Goblin King haunted my dreams, whispered in my thoughts, and begged that I finish their story whenever I put the book down.

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Liesl and the Goblin King’s relationship is not set up as any typical young adult trope. Instead of instant-love, these two characters carried a flame for each other since their youth, where they laughed, danced, and played music in the Goblin Grove. And as they grow older, their infatuation for one another remained an ember slowly bursting into flames of desire. Their relationship is filled with anger, misunderstandings, tenderness, excitement, and such intense devotion. The chemistry between these two characters is breathtaking–it cracks, it sizzles, and it purrs. They are two independent beings, eager to please themselves and each other. 

In the end, I found Wintersong to be a vibrant story about caution, close family bonds, sacrifice, fiery passion, trust, and love. Although the ending is left open-ended, I would love to read a sequel. I’m being selfish here, because I want more Liesl and the Goblin King! (Sorry not sorry.) I cannot recommend this novel enough. If you enjoy the intense and complicated relationships portrayed in Victorian novels, a dash of German language, crossing the blurred lines between fantasy and reality, and the slow burn of two characters connecting in a novel, Wintersong is the perfect book before you. 

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star rating

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

NOTE: Thank you to Netgalley and Thomas Dunne for providing me an e-galley/e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: A Review of This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

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Title: This Savage Song
Author: Victoria Schwab
Publication date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Format: Signed copy from UppercaseBox

About the book:

There’s no such thing as safe.

Kate Harker wants to be as ruthless as her father. After five years and six boarding schools, she’s finally going home to prove that she can be.

August Flynn wants to be human. But he isn’t. He’s a monster, one that can steal souls with a song. He’s one of the three most powerful monsters in a city overrun with them. His own father’s secret weapon.

Their city is divided.

Their city is crumbling.

Kate and August are the only two who see both sides, the only two who could do something.

But how do you decide to be a hero or a villain when it’s hard to tell which is which?

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


Rants and Raves of This Savage Song

If Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a book-baby, their offspring would be Victoria Schwab’s This Savage Song. This book has the all the right elements to a story that is both socially aware of prejudices and discrimination, while also situating the reader in a high school setting that is heavily fogged with tragedy, comedy, and mystery. Each chapter is filled with villains, twists, and possible heroes-in-the-making. And just like every coin that has two sides, Schwab’s novel creates monsters that have the stigma to be vigilantes, while humans have the capacity of being actual nightmares.

One of my favorite things about fantasy books is that they have the power to pull you into an alternate world. And although fantasies are a good way to escape the real world, I love that many books, like Victoria Schwab’s This Savage Song, parallels the complications and injustices that shadow reality. From the very beginning, Schwab’s elegant writing had me hooked. I could not turn away from the monstrous world that her main characters, Kate Harker and August Flynn, inhabited. Kate and August are complete opposites, two different beings from different sides of a wasted city, but they use their differences to help each other, creating a friendship based on accountability and trust.  

Schwab layers her fast-paced storyline with undertones of friendship, family, and vindication, which kept me invested in the story for one sitting. An uprising is approaching, and I cannot wait to read the fates of Kate and August in Our Dark Duet

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NOTE:  I received this book in an Uppercasebox Subscription. I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review; I reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

Throwback Thursday Mini-Review: Trial by Fire

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Title: Trial by Fire
By: Josephine Angelini
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 374
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

About Trial by Fire

The exhilaratingly seductive new series from the author of the bestselling Starcrossed series

Love burns. Worlds collide. Magic reigns.

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying many of the experiences that other teenagers take for granted…which is why she is determined to enjoy her first (and perhaps only) high-school party. But Lily’s life never goes according to plan, and after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly Lily is in a different Salem – one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruellest of all the Crucibles is Lillian . . . Lily’s identical other self in this alternate universe. This new version of her world is terrifyingly sensual, and Lily is soon overwhelmed by new experiences.

Lily realizes that what makes her weak at home is exactly what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. It also puts her life in danger. Thrown into a world she doesn’t understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can’t hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected.

But how can Lily be the saviour of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


MY RANTS AND RAVES OF TRIAL BY FIRE

I had the hardest time getting into this book and then the hardest time finishing it. I am a sucker for books about witches, especially witchy books that encompass a nod to the Salem Witch Trials, so I had high hopes for Trial by Fire. But in the end, sadly, this book did not win me over.

Trial by Fire started out so slow, and nothing hooked me to the plot. I am still unraveling the idea of mixing fantasy and science in the storyline, and creating a dynamic binary between magic versus science/scientific method/medicine/atomic theory/pollution, etc. But overall, I don’t think the meshing of fantasy and science is what lost me in the book. There are some holes in this novel that made me feel like I was missing an inside joke or that I was purposely being left out of big secrets. I need a reason why I should be rooting for the main character/heroine, Lily, and I never got that reason, or I at least didn’t understand that reason.

I thought the premise of Trial by Fire was interesting (hello, Salem witches!), but this book fell flat for me. Hopefully in the next book the characters are more developed and there is more information given on the driven force between each of the characters’ motives/motivations.

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My Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

Note:  This review was previously posted on my Goodreads account on August 22, 2015, and has been edited/updated for my blog. I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds and reviewed it at my own discretion. All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

ARC Review: The King Slayer by Virginia Boecker

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Title: The King Slayer
By: Virginia Boecker
Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: June 14, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance

 

About The King Slayer:

An action-packed and suspenseful sequel to The Witch Hunter, perfect for fans of Graceling and the Grisha Trilogy.

“I think, in time, you’ll either be my greatest mistake or my greatest victory.”

Former witch hunter Elizabeth Grey is hiding within the magically protected village of Harrow, evading the price put on her head by Lord Blackwell, the usurper king of Anglia. Their last encounter left Blackwell ruined, but his thirst for power grows stronger every day. He’s readying for a war against those who would resist his rule–namely Elizabeth and the witches and wizards she now calls her allies.

Having lost her stigma, a magical source of protection and healing, Elizabeth’s strength is tested both physically and emotionally. War always means sacrifice, and as the lines between good and evil blur once more, Elizabeth must decide just how far she’ll go to save those she loves.

“[Filled] with everything a good fantasy book needs: swords, poison, black magic, and betrayal.”–April Tucholke, author of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, on The Witch Hunter


MY RANTS AND RAVES OF THE KING SLAYER

Last year, NOVL introduced me to The Witch Hunter, the prequel to The King Slayer, and I automatically fell in love with this fantasy series. This duology is deeply rooted in a magical and historical atmosphere with well-developed characters, including a strong heroine named Elizabeth Grey. As a former witch hunter and now stigma-less, I noticed that Elizabeth is more watchful of her surroundings in The King Slayer, and luckily she can still hold her own ground in a good fight.

Even though Elizabeth has lost many friends, including her family, I like that she gains a strong support system throughout the series with new friends and allies: John, Peter, Fifer, and Schuyler. I love the different types of relationships and strong connections she has with each of these characters, and it is hard for me to pick out which friendship I love the most, hahahaha. But if I had to choose, I would definitely gush about the friendship between Elizabeth and Schulyer to any reader. Not only do they have a great bond, they are also so witty and humorous together. And overall, they always have each other’s backs.

Additionally, I greatly appreciated how Boecker depicted the romantic relationship between Elizabeth and John. Their kisses are swoony and captivating, and let’s just say some of their steamy scenes are often left up to the reader’s imagination *fans self.* I love that this couple is not always in that “honeymoon” stage where nothing goes wrong. Instead, their relationship is constantly tested. More importantly they test each other’s boundaries, patience, and loyalties. I appreciate that they completely understand that with love comes upsets, sacrifice, loss, and heartache. Elizabeth and John are definitely one of my favorite fantasy book couples, because they are honest, stubborn, and they wholeheartedly love each other.

In regards to some people from Elizabeth’s past, ones that she thought were long gone, they show up in the most surprising twists in The King Slayer, which leaves Elizabeth vulnerable and cautious. Blackwell is still as evil as ever, continuing to selfishly mistreat magic. In my opinion, Elizabeth does not always make the most rational choices when it comes to fighting Blackwell, but I appreciate that her actions and words show that she respects magic and its consequences.

Overall, I liked that The King Slayer is steady-paced, allowing each chapter to slowly tick like a clock to the next prominent scene. Every chapter of this book is usefully articulated to enhance an adventurous plot, build suspense, and develop some of the most memorable and caring characters. I love that the book focuses on friendships, and lightheartedly showcases friendships between witches, pirates, soldiers, revenants, and common folk. I thoroughly enjoyed reading The King Slayer, and this series overall. I look forward to reading anything and everything Virginia Boecker writes in the future.

4 star rating

4 out of 5 stars

NOTE:          I received this Advance Reader’s Copy (ARC) through a book trade with a fellow blogger. I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher for a review. All statements and opinions are mine.

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases For The Second Half Of The Year

TOP TEN TUESDAY

HOSTED by The Broke and the Bookish


This week’s topic is…

Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For The Second Half Of The Year

(Click the book cover to link to the book’s Goodreads’ page)

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What new released books are you highly anticipating to read the second half of this year? 

 

 

 

FRIDAY RAVES: YUREKA Subscription Box

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FRIDAY RAVES is a feature on my blog, in which I “RAVE” about important news, authors, books, novelties, and other bookish announcements that all bibliophiles should know about.

Today I’m RAVING about…YUREKA Subscription Box

If you don’t know already, I am a self-proclaimed Subscription Box addict *cough cough,* I mean fanatic, especially when it comes to bookish subscription boxes. This month I bought and tried out Yureka Books‘ subscription box. In regards to subscribers in the USA, there are three box options to pick from: 

$15 SUBSCRIPTION = 2 paperback books

$25 SUBSCRIPTION =1 hardcover and 1 paperback book OR 3 paperback books

$35 SUBSCRIPTION = 1 hardcover and 2 paperbacks OR 4 paperback books

Personally, after selecting the $15.00 Subscription Box, I took a survey/questionnaire regarding books and genres that I have enjoyed, loved, and disliked. And around mid-May I received this beautiful package in the mail:

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Contents Inside:

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As you can see, I received a beautifully written welcome letter, which explained the books I received this month: a fantasy novel and a dystopian novel (both of which I do not already own…WOOHOO!). I also enjoyed the little bookish items that came along with the package: a magnetic owl bookmark and some pretty bookplates. After scrolling through Instagram pictures of other people’s Yureka packages, I noticed that a lot of subscribers received different books than me, which is awesome, because Yureka sends out books based on genres that you like reading. I also noticed that some subscribers even received extra swag like The Winner’s Trilogy items. I sadly did not receive these extra items.

Overall, I am happy with the books and bookish items I received, the great pricing of the subscription package, and more importantly, I was really blown away by the packaging/wrapping. 

If you love books and bookish items, this inexpensive subscription box is for you. 

Want to learn more about Yureka Books? Visit their main website, Yureka Books, or click on the link, How it Works.

FEEL FREE TO COMMENT:

Are you obsessed with subscription boxes, too? Which subscription box(es) do you subscribe to? Which box(es) do you highly recommend? 

 

Note: I bought this box with my own money. I was not asked or paid to write a review for this subscription box or company. All statements, pictures, and opinions are my own.