Reviews · Uncategorized

Monstrous Glamour: Review of The Beautiful

Book: The Beautiful

Author: Renée Ahdieh

Year Published: 2019

  • Plot: 4/5
  • Characters: 4/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Overall: 4/5

Usually, I can’t stand vampire books but I trusted Renée Ahdieh to write one that I’d enjoy and I’m glad that I did. The Beautiful was a glamorous, mysterious read- set in 1872, New Orleans– that had me spellbound throughout and I’m so excited for its sequel.

Celine Rousseau was a dressmaker in Paris until a terrible event forced her to flee her life there and start a new one in the dazzling city of New Orleans. Soon, she became caught up in a gruesome murder mystery along with a group of people known as La Cour de Lions and she made discoveries that meant her life would never be the same again.

Celine was incredibly reckless, she wanted to live life on the edge and experience everything it had to offer. She was also very headstrong and admirably confident– she knew who she wanted to be and didn’t care what anyone else thought about it. However the main reason I loved her was because we both share a deep appreciation for delicious food and she loved eating mille-feuille almost as much as I do! I adored the other characters too. Odette Valmont was the kind of person I wish I was friends with and was always full of enthusiasm and humour. Sébastien Saint Germain was like a more refined and fancy version of Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows and his relationship with Celine was perfect.

The writing and world building were stunning. Ahdieh’svibrant descriptions of New Orleans conveyed a genuine love for the city and I loved the way she managed to weave in themes of feminism and racism into the story too. Furthermore, I liked how many different languages were incorporated like lots of French and a bit of Spanish, Italian and more as well as multiple references to famous works of literature. It made for an extremely multi-faceted and engrossing experience- I felt like I could get lost in the world she created and never find my way out again. Also, the vampires were more subtle and elegant than I thought they’d be and didn’t come across as tacky and annoying like they usually do for me (thank goodness they didn’t sparkle). The reader is slowly fed information about them and there’s so much that still hasn’t been revealed that I’m assuming will be in the next book.

My only issues were that it was too slow paced and too much time was spent establishing a foundation when I wanted to get into the story. Also the writing was quite repetitive– we didn’t need Sebastian to be likened to ‘the devil’ a million times. However overall these things didn’t alter my enjoyment terribly and it was still a really fun read for me.

A sparkling world, an endearing cast of characters and so much more. I loved The Beautiful and it most certainly didn’t disappoint!

Thank you to Hodderscape for providing me with a proof copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Interviews · Uncategorized

Sereadipity Interviews… Rin Chupeco!

Hello my bookish dolugongs! I’m so excited to share this interview I did with the lovely Rin Chupeco about The Never Tilting World. You can read my review of the book here!


About The Never Tilting World:

Author: Rin Chupeco

Publication date: 15th October 2019

Goodreads summary:

Frozen meets Mad Max in this epic teen fantasy duology bursting with star-crossed romance, immortal heroines, and elemental magic, perfect for fans of Furyborn.
Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon. But seventeen years ago, one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy and split their world in two. The planet ceased to spin, and a Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in perpetual night, the other scorched by an unrelenting sun.
While one sister rules Aranth—a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wracked sea —her twin inhabits the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter, and each keeps her own secrets about her sister’s betrayal.
But when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee, back to the site of the Breaking, the two young goddesses —along with a powerful healer from Aranth, and a mouthy desert scavenger —set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.


Interview:

(1)

Hello Rin, thank you so much for doing this interview with me! Climate change and the balance between humans and nature are very important themes in The Never Tilting World. Why did you decide to base the novel on these themes and frame them in a fantasy setting?

I live in a country (the Philippines) that is extremely susceptible to the effects of climate change, and would be very vulnerable should bad policies be enacted. I haven’t read a lot of YA books that focused on this particular aspect and thought there should be more books that reflected that reality, which I know is a weird thing to say when it’s very obviously a fantasy book. But I’ve always found that fantasy can take aspects of reality and put readers at a respectable distance from those issues, enough that the themes can have some measure of objectivity that the readers can later choose to unpack once they’re ready to deal with them personally. Someone else actually suggested that initial visual – that of a world torn between night and day – and I was excited by the idea of taking that image and turning it into a story, of making it a conflict that people can relate to. Eyeball planets are actually a thing in science, and hypotheses suggest that they can actually sustain life, albeit very limitedly.

(2)

I loved the world building in the book, especially the history of the goddesses and the story behind why they always had to be twins. What inspired you to create and integrate these fascinating legends into the novel?

A lot of the myth I took from Assyrian mythology, primarily from the legend of the goddess Inanna, who obviously has the same name as the very first goddess in the book and is the ancestress to my goddesses Haidee and Odessa. I took a very general summary of that mythology and then added my own spin to it by making them less about being a revered, distant goddesses of worship and more like your average girls who also just happen to have exceptionally powerful abilities capable of wrecking the planet if they so chose – and, as the story reveals, they in fact did choose to!

(3)

If there’s one thing about this novel it’s that it’s incredibly imaginative. Everything from sand deserts to rainbow haired goddesses to shadow demons to milking giant sandworms. Where do you get such awesome ideas from?

I seriously have no clue! Ideas pop into my head on the daily, traipsing in and out with impunity into my brain because I never bothered to change the lock. With the goddesses and their rainbow hair – well, I’ve always been a huge fan of anime, and the joke is that you can spot who the main character is in the first episode if they have differently colored hair. So I just really doubled down on that. Dolugongs, for example, are probably just a spin on my pets, except I tried to think of the coolest but most inappropriate/ inconvenient pet to have, and came up with the dolphin-dugong hybrid. Giant sand worms probably came from my interest in cryptozoology, where some massive worms are said to live in deserts and eat people.

(4)

The Never Tilting World is written from four different points of view, which perspective did you enjoy writing the most?

I hate to admit it, but I like writing Arjun’s POV best because he is the most like me. He’s really fond of acting tough because acting tough is how he’s survived so far, but at his center lives a very soft cinnamon roll of a boy who really just wants friends and falls very easily for the person who is nicest to them. He also has a bit of my snark – I usually describe him as a Hufflepuff who’s convinced he’s a Gryffindor, and I think that’s very accurate. That said, there’s a little bit of myself in all four – Haidee who can be a bit bossy, romance-loving Odessa, and Lan who really hates asking other people for help.

(5)

If Odessa, Lan, Haidee and Arjun lived in the modern world, what would their hobbies be?

Odessa would be an avid romance book blogger and would be The Ripped Bodice’s biggest customer. Haidee would still be a gearhead and work in auto shops and would absolutely have her own car that she’d built with her own hands. Lan would be very into fitness and martial arts, and would have tried to make a go for the Olympics at some earlier point in her life. Arjun would probably just like doing as little work as possible, staying in and playing video games (but would be horribly embarrassed for anyone to learn he helps out at soup kitchens on Saturdays)

(6)

Do you have any recommendations for other climate change related books?

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis, The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi! I don’t know if The Word for World is Forest by Ursula Le Guin counts, but I wanna give that a shoutout all the same!

(7)

Can you give us any hints as to what to expect from the sequel to The Never Tilting World?

Indiana Jones-style adventures. The arrival of more characters you’ve only been shortly introduced to in the first book. A lot more unraveling of the facts behind the goddess myths and their repercussions. More demonic shadows seeking blood, more politics. Arjun complaining about everything, and Haidee shutting him up. Unexpected deaths. And, as always, more chances for redemption!


About the author:

Goodreads bio:

Despite an unsettling resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin always maintains her sense of hummus. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. Dances like the neighbors are watching.

She is represented by Rebecca Podos of the Helen Rees Agency. She is also fond of speaking in the third person, and may as well finish this short bio in this manner. While she does not always get to check her Goodreads page, she does answer questions posed to her here as promptly as she is able to. Find her at the following places instead:

Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Blog

For updates, events, and new releases, sign up for her newsletter at http://www.rinchupeco.com/newsletter.


Thank you so much again to Rin Chupeco for doing this interview with me- it was an honour!

Goodreads | Twitter

Blog Tours · Uncategorized

7 Books About Royalty (Kingdom Cold Blog Tour)

Hello my bookish barnacles! Welcome to my second stop on the Kingdom Cold Blog Tour where I talk about seven amazing books about royalty. If there’s one thing that Kingdom Cold has a lot of it’s kings, queens, princesses and princes so if you like these books, Kingdom Cold is for you!


About the book:

Title: Kingdom Cold
Author: Brittni Chenelle
Publisher: Self-published
Publication date: 14 February 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Synopsis:
Attempted murder, that’s how sixteen-year-old Princess Charlotte’s engagement starts. It seems like the only thing she has in common with Prince Young of Vires is their mutual discontent. When her kingdom’s attacked, Charlotte’s parents renegotiate her hand in marriage to a handsome stranger with a sinister plan. With the people Charlotte loves dying around her, and her kingdom’s future at stake, the only person she can turn to is the prince she betrayed. But, should she save her kingdom or her heart? One must fall.

Book links:
Amazon |Goodreads


My own quote graphics:


7 Books About Royalty:

(1) The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas:

This series is about a queen trying to take back her kingdom from the people who stole it from her and it’s full of royalty. Throughout the series we see both Aelin and also Dorian develop from quite immature, carefree princesses and princes to wise, just queens and kings.

(2) Descendant of the Crane by Joan He:

Descendant of the Crane is a brilliant Chinese-inspired fantasy about a smart and cunning princess called Yan Hesina who embraced her role as queen when her father died so that she could discover his murderer. It is a fantastic read full of mystery and court intrigue! Read my review here.

(3) The Beholder by Anna Bright:

An alternate history novel where Selah, the Seneschal-elect of Potomac, went on a voyage to visit various princes and choose a suitor to marry. It is a light read that I would recommend to romance fans or people who love fairy tales. Read my review here.

(4) We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal:

We Hunt the Flame is set in a world inspired by ancient Arabia and it was about a hunter called Zafira and a prince called Nasir go on a quest to save their world from an ancient evil. It is worth a read for anyone looking for a diverse fantasy. Read my review here.

(5) The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty:

This book is set in 18th century Cairo and it’s not about human royalty but djinn royalty who lived in the magical city of Daevabad. Full of scheming, betrayals, and rich world building, The City of Brass was a book about royalty with a fresh twist. Read my review here.

(6) And I Darken by Kiersten White:

And I Darken is one of my favourite books and it is a reimagined historical story based on Vlad the Impaler. Lada Dragwlya did not fit into the stereotype of a princess in her time. She was unapologetically brutal and ruthless and her only goal was exacting her vengeance and reclaiming her homeland, Wallachia, for her own. This book isn’t just a book about royalty but a book about a girl trying to make her place in a world where every single person was against her and where she had to fight twice and hard and be twice as cruel to get what she wanted.

(7) The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh:

This was a retelling of the classical One Thousand and One Nights tale where a girl, Shahrzad, had to tell the Caliph of Khorasan, Khalid, stories every night so that he wouldn’t kill her by morning. It was a cleverly-crafted story with multi-faceted characters and a gripping plot.


About the author:

Brittni Chenelle currently lives in Seoul, Korea, which inspires her multicultural fantasy books. Her favourite genres to read and write are young adult fantasy, young adult romance, fairytale retellings, and young adult dystopian novels. She’s very passionate about equal representation and makes a point to include characters from different backgrounds and cultures in her fantasy stories. Here are five fun facts about Brittni:

  1. She lives in South Korea. It’s true. She does most of her updates in the morning or at night to account for the time difference. She also infuses most of her novels with her observations about Korean culture.
  2. She’s a Type 1 Diabetic. She uses an insulin pump for survival and refers to her diabetes as “Beetie” which is what inspired her children’s book “Life with Beetie”. When she wants something from her parents she tells them, “My Beetie hurts.” It’s a trick that has never failed her.
  3. She doesn’t really BELIEVE in fiction. Despite all the; Dragons, Elves, and Magic present in her novel “Involuted the Tale of the Red Ribbon Tree”, Brittni INSISTS that it’s a true story.
  4. She’s OBSESSED with dark chocolate. She made me put that in and would also like me to inform you (on an unrelated note) that her birthday is in May.
  5. Sorry guys, she’s married. If you ask her, she’ll tell you her husband saved her life but every time someone asks “how?” she gives a different reason. I’ve overheard her give about 4 different reasons, but I bet she has more. He must be an amazing guy.

Author links:
Author website (and newsletter) |Blog |Goodreads |Instagram |Facebook |Twitter


Blog Tour Schedule:

Thank you to Caffeine Book Tours for choosing me to do this tour!


What are your favourite books about royalty? Let me know in the comments!

Goodreads| Twitter

Blog Tours · Interviews · Uncategorized

Sereadipity Interviews… Brittni Chenelle! (Kingdom Cold Blog Tour)

Hello my bookish butterflies! Welcome to my first stop on the Kingdom Cold Blog Tour where I interview Brittni Chenelle about her book, Kingdom Cold.


About the book:

Title: Kingdom Cold
Author: Brittni Chenelle
Publisher: Self-published
Publication date: 14 February 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Synopsis:
Attempted murder, that’s how sixteen-year-old Princess Charlotte’s engagement starts. It seems like the only thing she has in common with Prince Young of Vires is their mutual discontent. When her kingdom’s attacked, Charlotte’s parents renegotiate her hand in marriage to a handsome stranger with a sinister plan. With the people Charlotte loves dying around her, and her kingdom’s future at stake, the only person she can turn to is the prince she betrayed. But, should she save her kingdom or her heart? One must fall.

Book links:
Amazon |Goodreads


My Mood Board:

2019-09-25 232135740362..jpg


Interview:

(1)

What was the initial inspiration behind Kingdom Cold and how did your ideas change and develop whilst writing the book?

I think when I first started I knew I wanted to do an arranged marriage story but I kind of discovered the rest as I went. Luckily by books 2 and 3, I had a clearer idea of where it was going. I remember this one critical moment in the process when I realized I had the perfect opportunity to add a third POV but I was afraid because I planned on having only two. I ended up with 8 by the end of the series and I’m so happy I was brave enough to try it.

(2)

Which character to you most relate to and why?

Kingdom Cold is made up of morally gray characters. It’s easy to relate to because everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. The characters are the best and worst that humanity has to offer so I’m not sure I can pick just one.

(3)

Why do you think it’s important for there to be more books with diverse representation?

I don’t think it’s important, I think it’s essential. There are heroes from every culture, customs worth exploring, and other battles worth facing–ones that have yet to see the light of day. At times, the world feels so divided and unfair but fiction can be whatever we want it to be. Why not diverse?

(4)

If you had to pick three Kingdom Cold characters to go on a road trip with who would you pick and why?

Merlin, Minseo, and Leon probably. Merlin is the coolest character ever. She’s so strong and her magic so beautiful that I’d hardly notice the other two. Minseo because… well… for eye candy and the bard because he seems like the most fun.

(5)

Which books and authors do you think have influenced your writing?

Everyone. I read any fantasy I can get my hands on and I always feel so impressed and try to learn as much as possible.

(6)

What are your future writing projects and aspirations as an author?

My short term goals are to finish my new Academy Series, called The Fae & The Fallen, by the end of this year, as well as release a Greek Mythology novel that I’m co-writing and a surprise short story for Halloween. Long term I’d like to publish 12 books per year moving forward. Ultimately I’d like to see one of my stories turned into a Netflix movie or show. I think that would be really fun because I’d be partially responsible for improving representation in multiple industries.


About the author:

Brittni Chenelle currently lives in Seoul, Korea, which inspires her multicultural fantasy books. Her favourite genres to read and write are young adult fantasy, young adult romance, fairytale retellings, and young adult dystopian novels. She’s very passionate about equal representation and makes a point to include characters from different backgrounds and cultures in her fantasy stories. Here are five fun facts about Brittni:

  1. She lives in South Korea. It’s true. She does most of her updates in the morning or at night to account for the time difference. She also infuses most of her novels with her observations about Korean culture.
  2. She’s a Type 1 Diabetic. She uses an insulin pump for survival and refers to her diabetes as “Beetie” which is what inspired her children’s book “Life with Beetie”. When she wants something from her parents she tells them, “My Beetie hurts.” It’s a trick that has never failed her.
  3. She doesn’t really BELIEVE in fiction. Despite all the; Dragons, Elves, and Magic present in her novel “Involuted the Tale of the Red Ribbon Tree”, Brittni INSISTS that it’s a true story.
  4. She’s OBSESSED with dark chocolate. She made me put that in and would also like me to inform you (on an unrelated note) that her birthday is in May.
  5. Sorry guys, she’s married. If you ask her, she’ll tell you her husband saved her life but every time someone asks “how?” she gives a different reason. I’ve overheard her give about 4 different reasons, but I bet she has more. He must be an amazing guy.

Author links:
Author website (and newsletter) |Blog |Goodreads |Instagram |Facebook |Twitter


Blog Tour Schedule:

Thank you so much to Caffeine Book Tours for choosing me to do this tour.


Goodreads| Twitter

Interviews · Uncategorized

Sereadipity Interviews… Coco Ma!

Hello my bookish badgers! Today I’ll be sharing the interview I did with the wonderful Coco Ma about her debut, Shadow Frost! Read my review here.


About Shadow Frost:

Author: Coco Ma

Publication date: 1st October 2019

Goodreads summary:

IN THE KINGDOM OF AXARIA, a darkness rises.

Some call it a monster, laying waste to the villagers and their homes.
Some say it is an invulnerable demon summoned from the deepest abysses of the Immortal Realm.
Many soldiers from the royal guard are sent out to hunt it down.

Not one has ever returned.

When Asterin Faelenhart, Princess of Axaria and heir to the throne, discovers that she may hold the key to defeating the mysterious demon terrorizing her kingdom, she vows not to rest until the beast is slain. With the help of her friends and the powers she wields — though has yet to fully understand — Asterin sets out to complete a single task. The task that countless, trained soldiers have failed.

To kill it.

But as they hunt for the demon, they unearth a plot to assassinate the Princess herself instead. Asterin and her companions begin to wonder how much of their lives have been lies, especially when they realize that the center of the web of deceit might very well be themselves. With no one else to turn to, they are forced to decide just how much they are willing to sacrifice to protect the only world they have ever known.

That is, of course… if the demon doesn’t get to them first.

From young author Coco Ma comes a dazzling new tale of adventure, power, and betrayal, weaving together a stunning world of magic with a killer cast in an explosive, unforgettable debut.


Interview:

(1)

Hello and thank you for agreeing to do this interview with me! You wrote the first draft of this book at the impressive age of fifteen- what was your initial inspiration to start writing this story and how did it develop and change over time?

Thank you for having me! A very long time ago, I fell in love with fairy tales and fairy tale retellings. And I also fell in love with writing in general before it ever occurred to me to try and write a book… Shadow Frost initially started as a school project in tenth grade. I meant to write a collection of short stories, but then the first one just kept getting longer and longer until I suddenly realized that I had over 50k words and half a story left to tell! Which, of course, led to a lot of problems in terms of pacing and plot, so those were main editing points later on. I recently finished the first draft of the sequel, and it was such a different experience going into the manuscript with the intention of actually writing a book! Still, I can really appreciate the editing process I went through in the first book, because I definitely learned a lot from it. A lot of authors will tell you that the only way to write better is to write, and I think the same applies to editing and publishing, too, so even though it was scary diving into the industry at fifteen, I’ll always be grateful for it!

(2)

The novel is written from multiple perspectives. Was it challenging to keep track of so many points of view?

It really depends! I actually think that writing in first person can be a lot more challenging because you lose so much of what is going on in other characters’ heads. My process for choosing what character’s perspective to tell the story from correlates very directly to the story itself. I never force a perspective when it isn’t natural to the story, and I try to think about which character a certain chapter or chapter section is going to affect most in advance, whether emotionally or physically or mentally. Or maybe I know there is going to be a big reveal affecting Character A in the next chapter, in which case I might pick a different POV because I want to showcase Character B’s specific reaction to that reveal. Since there are so many main characters in Shadow Frost, the hardest part was probably making sure all of them had a consistent presence—not an equal presence, which is a very important distinction—but just making sure that the reader isn’t startled by a character’s appearance because they’ve disappeared for like, eleven chapters!

(3)

Shadow Frost is full of elemental magic, centered around a complex stone system. I loved the idea of being unifinitied all the way up to being omnifinitied. What inspired this magic system?

I’ve heard a lot of people relate the magic system to Avatar: The Last Airbender, but I didn’t watch that until waaay after I wrote the book, haha. If I’m being super, super honest… I think my liking for elemental-based powers came from the Rainbow Magic Fairy books, which I read when I was like, seven. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of them, but I owned. A lot. Of those books. So I felt very comfortable in an elemental magic word, and I loved spicing it up with other spoken-word spells derived from the Immortal Tongue, which is basically the only other existing language in the Shadow Frost universe. Pretty early on, the first idea I had for the magic system involved wands instead of stones, actually! The idea was for there to be wands made of different materials—like wood, or iron, or sapphire, etc. It was based off the Mohs scale, so a ‘level ten’ wielder would use a wand made out of diamond, which ranks as a ten on the Mohs scale. And the elements and their respective kingdoms were a completely separate entity on their own. Then, during one of my revisions, I realized that the wand idea kind of sucked. And it suddenly occurred to me that the characters were already mostly using the magic originating from each of their kingdoms. Everything kind of clicked and fell into place after that, and it was just a big moment of, “well, of course it should be like this!”

(4)

Imagine that all of your characters were invited to Hogwarts. Which houses would they be sorted into?

Oh, god, I love this question. Let’s see.

  • Asterin — Gryffindor. Like, the hat wouldn’t even touch her head before screaming out.
  • Luna — oh this is hard. Like, if I tell you honestly, it will spoil sequel stuff. I’ll just leave it at that.
  • Orion — Hufflepuff. I know that might come as a shock. But what can I say, he’s a good finder! Or maybe he would be a hat stall between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff. I don’t know.
  • Eadric — Ravenclaw. Or Gryffindor. But IMO he thinks more with his head than his heart.
  • Rose — Ravenclaw.
  • Quinlan — I kind of want to put him into Slytherin. He would look really good in green and silver.
  • Harry — Either Hufflepuff or Gryffindor. Immortals, I’m so bad at this, I can’t pick a single house! I should do a poll and let all of you decide for me…
  • Garringsford — Slytherin. *hisses*

(5)

I’ve heard that you’re a brilliant musician, which instruments do you think Asterin, Orion, Luna, and Quinlan would be good at playing?

Aw, thank you! Wow, okay, never thought about this.

  • Asterin — er… for some reason, I feel like Asterin would be tone deaf. And not have the patience, at all, to practice any instrument. Maybe she could do the cowbell. Or another instrument that involves hitting/beating/striking something.
  • Orion — I can see him playing classical guitar. I don’t even know why. Or maybe the accordion so he can serenade people (badly) as they walk by.
  • Luna — She gives me violinist vibes. Like one of those scarily talented seven-year-old prodigies. And also, she can probably sing really well while playing the ukulele or something like that.
  • Quinlan — Undoubtedly, the flugelhorn. Just kidding. Probably jazz piano, although that might just be me projecting. He has a really smooth voice, so I would die to hear him sing some slow ballads while accompanying himself on the piano. Think Chet Baker It’s Always You, or I Fall In Love Too Easily, or But Not For Me. All of which are really amazing songs that you should listen to if you haven’t heard them before if you like the kind of jazz that melts you into a puddle of ahhhh.

(6)

Which books and authors inspired you to write?

It’s a cliché answer, but basically every book I’ve ever read has inspired me in some way or another (yes, even those Rainbow Magic books). The first five off the top of my head are: VE Schwab, Vicious; Leigh Bardugo, Crooked Kingdom; Laini Taylor, Strange the Dreamer; Holly Black, Cruel Prince; and Alex Bracken, Never Fade. Obviously, there are so many others. Oh, god, I didn’t even mention Sarah J Maas and Marie Lu. I think the first two YA books I ever read were by them, and obviously, they are Queens™. Anyway, the point is, these are just a few (and only from YA) out of a gazillion.

(7)

Can give us any hints as to what the next book will have in store for us?

For a lot of characters, time is running out… in every sense of the word. You’ll get a much richer look at the Immortal Realm and one Immortal being in particular. You’ll meet a few new players in the game… and lose a few more. Relationships get tense. Some end well, some just… end. Lots of happy/sad/angry crying from just about everyone throughout. If you thought the betrayal stung in Shadow Frost, get ready for a world of hurt. Also…… Luna. Just… Luna. Overall, stuff is gonna hit the fan. But there’s cake involved! With the sequel in general, not the stuff hitting the fan.

And I, for one, cannot wait. 😉


About the author:

Goodreads bio:

Coco Ma is a Canadian author and pianist. She wrote her first novel, Shadow Frost, at the age of 15, and since she began playing the piano at the age of five and a half, she has also performed on some of the world’s greatest concert stages and graduated with a pre-college diploma in piano performance from The Juilliard School in New York City. Currently, she studies at Yale University. When she isn’t practicing piano, writing, or studying, you might find her bingeing Netflix or eating cake. Lots of cake.
Follow Coco on Twitter @shadowfrost2019 and Instagram @CakeForCoco or visit her website at Coco-Ma.com!


Thank you so much to Coco Ma for doing this interview with me, it was a pleasure!

Incidentally, I also used to be obsessed with the Rainbow Magic books when I was much younger so it’s cool that we have that in common!

Goodreads| Twitter

Reviews · Uncategorized

Review: The Resurrectionist of Caligo

Book: The Resurrectionist of Caligo

Authors: Wendy Trimboli, Alicia Zaloga

Year Published: 2019

  • Plot: 3/5
  • Characters: 3/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Overall: 3/5

The Resurrectionist of Caligo was a Victorian fantasy and murder mystery with strong themes of medicine, grief and illness. It had a promising premise and although I liked the ideas in it, I felt slightly let down by it at the same time.

Roger Weathersby was a resurrectionist– a person who unlawfully unearthed corpses to sell on to medical schools. However, when he one day discovered a strange and horrifying corpse he began to follow the clues surrounding a string of terrible yet similar murders along with the help of his former friend, princess Sibylla, and together they went down a dark and dangerous path from which there was no return.

I liked the way Roger’s character was developed because although at first glance he seemed like a careless rogue he was actually a really kind person who just wasn’t very good at dealing with authority and had a knack for getting himself into messy situations. I liked the way he looked out for Ada and her mother.

Sibylla was interesting because she could seem petty at times but she did care deeply for her people. My only problem with her was that she wasn’t particularly memorable in any way. Now, when I think about the book I can’t think of one thing she did that really stood out to me or was very admirable. The dynamic between Roger and Sibylla was… weird. They did like (maybe love?) each other and though their relationship did grow stronger once more I felt like it didn’t really go anywhere.

Also, this novel had major pacing issues. I’m pretty sure around 68% of the way through it I found myself wondering whether the main story was going to get started yet, then realising to my horror that I’d already surpassed over half the book. It was extremely slow at the start and then at the end there was a few plot twists and reveals and that was it. The ending was ambiguous and while I sometimes appreciate books that are open-ended I didn’t like this one because it didn’t give me any sense of conclusion or leave me with any implications or thoughts to ponder over.

The Resurrectionist of Caligo is a creative yet flawed read. I think it’s worthwhile giving it a go- just don’t go in with very high expectations.

Thank you to Angry Robot for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Reviews · Uncategorized

The Last Witchdoctor: Review of Kingdom of Souls

Book: Kingdom of Souls

Author: Rena Barron

Year Published: 2019

  • Plot: 5/5
  • Characters: 5/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Overall: 5/5

Kingdom of Souls was a tale of epic proportions set in a West African fantasy world full of magic and mystery. It was a captivating but also a very dark and heavy read that made me feel all of the emotions possible and it was so intense that at one point I just had to put the book down and process my turbulent feelings.

Arrah was born from two powerful witchdoctors but had no magic to call her own no matter how hard she tried or how much she wanted it. But when children started to go missing and an ancient evil began to resurface Arrah was prepared to make a great sacrifice to gain magical powers and protect the people she loved.

I liked Arrah’s determination and courage– even though she didn’t always make the right choices she had the best intentions at heart. It was also great to read a book about a character who wasn’t ‘the chosen one‘, who didn’t have power and glory handed to them on a plate and who had to pay a steep price for the power they desired.

Arrah didn’t quite know where she belonged and she was trapped between two worlds and cultures that both made her feel like a disappointment and I felt really bad for her as she tried so hard to live up to what she thought was expected of her. She was consumed by a need to possess magic and prove her worth, but it was ironic that when she finally achieved her goal she wished she could go back to her life without magic and appreciated all the things she didn’t before.

The other characters were all well-developed and endearing too. Rudjek was really cute and I loved his relationship with Arrah, and the whole ‘ill-fated lovers who the world has conspired against’ trope was done very well. Sukar and Essnai were also very kind, supportive friends.

I also liked how the more villainous characters like Arti or The Demon King were presented as multi-faceted characters with complex motivations. I even felt bad for Efiya, who was simply awful, because I think she was just a product of the environment and circumstances she grew up in.

Overall, Kingdom of Souls was a superb book full of rich, sprawling word building and a story that will sweep you away. It’s a book that I highly recommend and I am so excited to read it’s sequel!

Thank you to HarperVoyager UK for providing me with this gorgeous proof copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Reviews · Uncategorized

Beware the Jabberwock! Review of Wonderland

Book: Wonderland

Editors: Marie O’Regan and Paul Kane

Year Published: 2019

Overall Rating: 3.75 stars

Wonderland was a magical anthology full of short stories inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. All the stories managed to capture the wondrous yet morbid whimsy of Wonderland as they were full of imagination and followed no rules. It was a mixed bag– some were amazing and some not so much. Here’s a brief summary of the stories and my thoughts on them:

Alice in Armour by Jane Yolen- 3 stars:

This was an amusing poem which I liked but it didn’t greatly impress me.

Wonders Never Cease by Robert Shearman- 2.5 stars:

“Just because love dies, it doesn’t mean you can’t go on.”

This story was about life, love and death and even though I understood it was trying to convey a deep message I thought the writing was confused and just generally muddled and I didn’t enjoy it.

There Were No Birds to Fly by M.R. Carey- 5 stars:

“If you follow the rules… you’ll live a whole lot longer”

This was so wonderfully creepy and mysterious and I did not see the ending coming. I liked how the narrator of the story was clearly hiding something and their intentions were gradually revealed. Also, it gave me very strong Birdbox vibes so if you liked that book/ movie you will probably like this.

The White Queen’s Pawn by Genevieve Cogman- 4 stars:

The White Queen’s Pawn was quite short and not much happened but it still had an impact. I loved how it slowly went from a seemingly normal situation to something scary and macabre!

Dream Girl by Cavan Scott- 5 stars:

This one started off in Wonderland, from the perspective of the Hatter, and ended on a very unexpected and refreshing plot twist. I loved it! Furthermore, I appreciated how the ‘Alice character’ didn’t fit the visual stereotypes surrounding her.

Good Dog, Alice! by Juliet Marillier- 4.5 stars:

When a girl called Dorothea calls her dog ‘Alice’, she doesn’t realise how useful her pet will become. This was another short story with an ending that came out of the blue but it was also quite satisfying.

The Hunting of the Jabberwock by Jonathan Green- 4 stars:

As the title suggests, this story was inspired by the ‘Jabberwocky’ poem and was about a young man trying to slay the Jabberwocky to earn his glory but comes to some unsettling realisations. I liked how the story included the whimsical nonsense language from the ‘Jabberwocky’ poem.

About Time by George Mann- 3.5 stars:

This story was about how our fears can affect our realities and the power of believing that something is real. It also had quite a sweet ending.

Smoke ’em if You Got ’em by Angela Slatter- 3 stars:

This one took Alice to the Wild West and while I liked the ideas behind it and the direct writing style it just didn’t create much of an impact on me.

Vanished Summer Glory by Rio Youers- 4 stars:

Vanished Summer Glory was a poignant story about grief, loss and love and it was really touching and quite saddening to read.

Black Kitty by Catriona Ward- 3 stars:

It was quite weird and I still don’t quite understand what on Earth went on in this one but I guess it gets credit for creativity!

The Night Parade by Laura Mauro- 4.5 stars:

This one was inspired by Japanese mythology which was intriguing and original. I also liked how the ending left me with so many theories and thoughts about all the implied things that could have caused the things that happened.

What Makes a Monster by L.L. McKinney- 3 stars:

What Makes a Monster was set in the author’s A Blade so Black universe and it was about some rather cool monster hunters. At the start I thought I was going to enjoy this story very much but it didn’t impress me as much as I thought it would although it was still good.

The White Queen’s Dictum by James Lovegrove- 4.5 stars:

This one had a lovely hint of supernatural and while I saw the plot twist coming I enjoyed the dramatic irony of it. It was based on the idea that ‘impossible things’ can sometimes be more real than you first think.

Temp Work by Lilith Saintcrow- 2.5 stars:

Temp Work was heavily based on sci-fi but I didn’t enjoy it because the plot didn’t interest me.

Eat Me, Drink Me by Alison Littlewood- 2 stars:

An utterly weird and confusing story and my least favourite in the anthology.

How I Comes to be the Treacle Queen by Cat Rambo- 3.5 stars:

This story was extremely imaginative with a strong narrative voice and I was satisfied with the way it ended. I also liked how it explored previously uncharted territory in Wonderland.

Six Impossible Things by Mark Chadbourn- 3 stars:

It was quite touching and nostalgic tale and I liked how it included the history behind the original ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ book.

Revolution in Wonder by Jane Yolen- 3.5 stars:

Another humorous, clever poem which concluded the anthology nicely!

Overall, this was a really interesting read and I liked reading all of the different takes on Wonderland. I’m not going to lie- I hate Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the animated Disney adaptation gave me nightmares as a child. However, this anthology makes me feel like giving the books (and the movies) another chance!

Thank you to Titan Books for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Interviews · Uncategorized

Sereadipity Interviews… Annie Sullivan!

Hi, hello! I’m honoured to share this interview which I did with the amazing Annie Sullivan about her latest release, Tiger Queen. You can read my review of the book here!


About Tiger Queen:

Author: Annie Sullivan

Publication date: 10th September 2019

Goodreads summary:

From Annie Sullivan, author of A Touch of Gold, comes Tiger Queen, a sweeping YA fantasy adventure that tells the story of a fierce desert princess battling to save her kingdom. Fans of Rebel of the Sands and Meagan Spooner will devour this retelling of Frank Stockton’s famous short story, “The Lady, or the Tiger?”

In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raids the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.

But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger.


Interview:

(1)

Hello and thank you for doing this interview with me! Tiger Queen is a retelling of ‘The Lady, Or The Tiger?’. Which elements of the short story did you adapt and include in your novel?

Yes! Tiger Queen is heavily inspired by that short story, and I kept a great deal of the original story. Everything from the king throwing the princess’ lover into the arena to the princess having to help choose what door gets opened made it into my version. But I also included a lot of new elements in my novel, like the fact that the society is running out of water. Plus, the original story ends with a cliffhanger. In my version, I give the story the ending it always should have had!

(2)

The world that the book is set in has very interesting and unique customs, legends and beliefs. What were the inspirations behind these various cultures and traditions?

I love coming up with new creatures. I often do a lot of research into what animals and insects live in a certain environment, and I then I see how I can twist them so they belong in a fantasy setting. For example, I created Grieving Spiders, which are so named because if you get bitten by one, everyone around you will be grieving because you’ll die. So overall, the setting was inspired by the creatures that live in desserts, but it was also inspired by the time I spent in Antarctica. Believe it or not, Antarctica is actually one of the world’s largest desserts because it is so dry, and I wrote a lot of Tiger Queen while I was there. I simply replaced the endless stretches of snow with sand. However, since I was writing about the desert, I worked with a sensitivity reader just to ensure that I didn’t delve into any harmful stereotypes of desert cultures.

(3)

Kateri was a brave, strong character who went on a great journey of self-discovery. What inspired her character and what were the challenges of writing her?

I loved writing Kateri because she is so strong. She was practically born with a sword in her hand and won’t back down from a fight. She’s fiercely loyal and a little bit stubborn. I think she gets those elements from me. I loyal to a fault and can be stubborn when I think I’m right. But overall, her strength was inspired by the landscape she lives in because you have to be strong in order to survive the Achran desert.

I would say the challenge of writing such a strong character is making her relatable and giving her a softer side that can still come through. It takes her a while to open up, but Kateri eventually learns to trust others.

(4)

Did you have to do a lot of research before writing Tiger Queen? What was your main method of research and what interesting things did you find out?

A lot of the research I did was into what types of creatures live in the desert. I had so much fun taking actual insects and twisting them into something new and dangerous. I also did some research into clothing and food that would be common in the desert. Outside of that, I made a lot of it since it is a fantasy world.

(5)

How do you write? Do you carefully outline or discover the story as you go? Was writing this book a different experience from writing your other book, A Touch of Gold?

I’m a total “panster,” meaning I fly by the seat of my pants. I don’t outline. I like to discover the story right along with the reader. Sometimes that means I write myself into a corner, but then I go back and start again until I get it right. I might know where the story is going to end up, but I don’t always know how we’re going to get there until we do.

And I would say this book was very different. Just the fact that there’s no real magic involved made it easier to write because magic complicates things—who has it, how you get it, how can it be used, etc.

(6)

Which books would you recommend to people who enjoyed Tiger Queen?

What a fun question! I think people who love Tiger Queen will love books like:


About the author:

Annie Sullivan is a Young Adult author from Indianapolis, Indiana. Her work has been featured in Curly Red Stories and Punchnels. She loves fairy tales, everything Jane Austen, and traveling and exploring new cultures. When she’s not off on her own adventures, she’s teaching classes at the Indiana Writers Center and working as the Copy Specialist at John Wiley and Sons, Inc. publishing company, having also worked there in Editorial and Publicity roles. You can follow her adventures on Twitter and Instagram (@annsulliva).

Website |Twitter | Instagram


Thank you so much to Annie Sullivan for doing this interview with me- it was a pleasure!

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Blog Tours · Reviews · Uncategorized

Tiger Queen Blog Tour: Review and Favourite Quotes

Hello and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan!

About the book:

Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan
Publisher: BLINK
Release date: September 10, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling, Romance

Synopsis:
From Annie Sullivan, author of A Touch of Gold, comes Tiger Queen, a sweeping YA fantasy adventure that tells the story of a fierce desert princess battling to save her kingdom. Fans of Rebel of the Sands and Meagan Spooner will devour this retelling of Frank Stockton’s famous short story, “The Lady, or the Tiger?”

In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raids the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.

But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger.

Book links: Goodreads |Amazon |Barnes & Noble| Book Depository


Review:

Book: Tiger Queen

Author: Annie Sullivan

Year Published: 2019

  • Plot: 4/5
  • Characters: 4/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Overall: 4/5

Tiger Queen was a thrilling desert tale about a woman fighting to improve the lives of her people and prove her own worth. It was a clever retelling of the short story, ‘The Lady, Or The Tiger?’ and I really enjoyed it!

Kateri was the princess of Achra who was tasked with killing twelve of her suitors in arena fights to assert her right to be queen. However, when she realised that her final suitor was a man she wasn’t skilled enough to beat, she fled to the desert to join her sworn enemies, the Desert Boys, to train and gain the necessary skills to win. She not only improved her fighting abilities but learnt so much about the state of her people and the type of queen they needed her to be.

I liked Kateri’s sheer determination to succeed and how she was willing to put in the required work to achieve her goals. Throughout the book she went on a journey and realised that so many things she firmly believed in weren’t as true as she once thought. I also loved the training montage trope and the various challenges she faced to improve her skills. The way Sullivan drew up parallels between Kateri and the caged tigers was very intriguing. Furthermore, I liked how her relationship with Cion slowly grew stronger and I think they make a good couple.

The word building in the book was excellent and I loved finding out about the various intricate and unique customs and traditions. I found all of the different legends, animals and places interesting as well. Nevertheless, I don’t think the plot was gripping enough for me to give the book five stars but that wasn’t a major hindrance to my enjoyment as the characters were good enough to almost make up for it.

Overall, I thought Tiger Queen was original, clever and exciting and is a must-read for those looking for new ideas in the YA fantasy genre.

Thank you to Blink for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Favourite quotes:

“We can’t focus on what we’ve lost or the weight of it will bury us faster than the sand. We have to focus on what’s still to gain. We have to focus on finding joy where we can”

“We Desert Boys have a saying about tears… we say that crying is good, natural. It’s returning the water you’ve taken from the earth”

“‘You may not know how to stop, Kateri,’ he said, ‘but you sure know how to fly'”

“It’s not weak to bear scars. It shows you were strong enough to survive.”

“When life is as hard as it is out here, you celebrate as often as you can.”

“Decision time… Is it the lady or the tiger?”


Tour schedule:

About the author:

Annie Sullivan is a Young Adult author from Indianapolis, Indiana. Her work has been featured in Curly Red Stories and Punchnels. She loves fairytales, everything Jane Austen, and traveling and exploring new cultures. When she’s not off on her own adventures, she’s teaching classes at the Indiana Writers Center and working as the Copy Specialist at John Wiley and Sons, Inc. publishing company, having also worked there in Editorial and Publicity roles. You can follow her adventures on Twitter and Instagram (@annsulliva).

Website |Twitter | Instagram

Giveaway:

Click here for the giveaway.
Prize: Tiger Queen poster and signed bookplate (USA only)
Starts: 9/4/19
Ends: 9/13/19

Thank you very much to the FFBC for choosing me to do a stop on this tour!