Thanks to NetGalley and Philomel Books for the opportunity to read and review Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao. Xifeng lives with and under the control of her Aunt Guma in a poverty-stricken kingdom where the king forces young women to be his concubines. Guma uses magic that makes others suspicious and cautious. She’s reading cards for Xifeng’s future and the cards state that Xifeng is going to be Empress someday. Xifeng and her boyfriend Wei leave the village for their freedom and their futures. They each discover something new about themselves and each other. This debut novel contains unique elements. The protagonist also seems to be the antagonist and as the story unfolds the theme seems to change. I’m fascinated with Xifeng and her reasoning with all of her actions as well as the beautiful relationship she has with Wei. An impressive, entertaining first novel by Julie C. Dao! 5 stars!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.
Uncanny by David Macinnis Gill opens with Willow as she’s turning sixteen and her friends and family are throwing her a “surprise” party when a blackout occurs. A spirit takes over a recently deceased corpse and vows to keep the worst creature ever in prison. Willow and this spirit become entwined in
evil that threatens to kill everything they hold dear. Creepy and full of action, Uncanny is a twisted, supernatural read with wonderfully descriptive writing that brings the story to life and entertains. One part I loved was this clever piece of writing-“Numbers were alphabet soup, my eyes were roasted marshmallows, and my tongue felt like a wad of chewing gum.” Interesting characters and the magical concept make Uncanny a great supernatural read. 4 stars!
Dark breaks the dawn by Sara B. Larson is a fairytale retelling of Swan Lake. It’s Princess Evelayn’s 18th birthday and she’s gotten her full powers like she’s supposed to. They are more amazing than she expected. She is happy when her mother, Queen Ilaria, makes it home on the night of her birthday. Only too soon, her mother leaves for battle once again. When the queen is struck down in battle, the kingdom is devastated. Evelayn vows to do whatever it takes to restore peace to her people. The complex world building and character descriptions are amazing and beautiful. I love the colors of skin, hair and eyes and the endless combinations of those attributes on the people of the kingdoms. I was rooting for Evelayn and Tanvir throughout the whole book. An adventure fantasy and a fairytale retelling all in one. 5 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Feiwel & Friends for the opportunity to read and review Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller! The princess is on a mission to rob the pirate ship, Night Farer. Princess Alosa has been sent by her father, the Pirate King, to steal a piece of the map that shows the way to the Isla de Canta., the island where sirens have placed their treasures throughout history. Alosa proves herself to be a very deceptive spy and a skilled fighter who can take care of herself. Riden, the brother of the Night Farer captain, knows Alosa is hiding secrets and wants to know what they are. Riden also seems to be more observant than anyone else she has ever met and Alosa isn’t sure how he can sense and see the changes in her as she uses her powers. Alosa is tough, has a clever intelligence and wit and I enjoyed her sarcastic comments throughout the story. Her focus and confidence help her through many tough struggles. Alosa’s secrets are revealed while her father’s story is told also. The story will continue in the sequel, Daughter of the Siren Queen, scheduled for release February 2018. 5 stars for an entertaining adventure fantasy!
Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson–Fiction for the opportunity to read and review Unblemished by Sara Ella. There’s a mystery surrounding El, her recently deceased mother and their pasts. El has a crimson birthmark on one side of her face and this has made her insecure, along with all the taunts and rudeness she has received from others throughout her lifetime. Her mother passed guardian responsibilities to Joshua, a young man El has known about three years. She’s almost eighteen and Joshua is only a few years older, so she finds this arrangement ridiculous. The world she knows is only a small part of the world she learns about and is thrown into. Alternate worlds or Reflections surround El and her true history. I enjoyed the book and movie references throughout the story and the humor brought with them. The worlds consist of many intertwined characters and their relationships as well as their skills. The author keeps the reader on top of everything and keeps it organized by having the main character, El, review as she learns, smart and helpful. Deep characters and a fantastic world rates 5 stars. The story continues in the sequel, Unraveling.
Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson–Fiction for the opportunity to read and review Unraveling by Sara Ella. The story continues on from Unblemished as El struggles with her role as Queen and her relationships with others. Her insecurities still hamper her ambitions and self-esteem, while many of the relationships she thought she understood keep changing. Her life and surroundings are unraveling. It ends as though there will be more to come. The story has many twists and the characters have many layers and more secrets continue to be revealed. This did get a bit tiring because I never knew what the characters were fully dealing with and could not get a grasp on what was going on, but I suppose that’s why the title is Unraveling. Interesting and complex characters and creative world building earn a 4 star rating.
Story continues in Unbreakable, scheduled for release May 2018.
Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Teen for the opportunity to read and review an ARC of Roar by Cora Carmack! Aurora (Rora) is a princess among Stormlings, but she doesn’t have powers as she should. She’s been raised to believe that people that have powers are either royalty or were born with powers. She’s betrothed to Cassius Locke and they seem to be a good match because they are equally strong in character, then Rora overhears Cassius telling his family that things are working out just as planned and Rora feels as though she’s been deceived. She sneaks out of the palace to follow Cassius and ends up meeting people with storm magic that aren’t royalty and weren’t born with the magic. Her life completely turns around after that because she’s given hope for the first time in her life. There’s also a dark presence in the background, the Stormlord who wreaks havoc and causes devastation as he pleases. This complex story involves many sides and characters with agendas and back stories of their own. Dynamic, deep personalities bring intrigue, interest and suspense to the book. I enjoy Rora and Locke and their tumultuous relationship and the growth they share in becoming more aware of each other and how much they help each other. 5 stars for this nicely written fantasy adventure!
I voluntarily read and reviewed this book.
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Original Mix Media for the opportunity to read and review Fate’s Keep by T. Rae Mitchell! In this sequel to Fate’s Journey, Fate is not going alone to the realm of the Book of Fables. Her father, Eustace, her best friend, Jess and her book fans are going along for the adventure. While Sithias was an interesting and entertaining creature in book one, Faurok takes the role in this story. It takes cleverness on the author’s part to create Faurok’s dialogue because he mixes words up to make new ones. Finn is on his own in the realm and he’s trying to figure out how to get to Fate and he is bound and determined to reach her. I was so happy when Sithias made an appearance in this story because I missed him and his fun personality and his extra s’s on his words! Fate is being pulled in several directions while her allies become enemies and her enemies become allies and her story doesn’t end in this book. There’s a third book entitled Fate’s War, which is a good thing because Fate’s Keep ends with a cliffhanger. 5 stars!
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Original Mix Media for the opportunity to read and review Fate’s Fables: One Girl’s Journey Through 8 Unfortunate Fairy Tales! Fate’s Fables, Book 1 of two books compiling Fate’s Journey, pulled me right in while reading the synopsis and I couldn’t wait to start reading this book. Chapter one starts off with Fate, a teenager, at the Seattle Public Library on the last stop of her very own book tour! Her fans are lined up for book signings and some of them are dressed up and playing the parts of her book characters. She leaves her book signing and takes a cab to her grandmother’s deserted bookstore, Fables Bookstore. She finds the place run down and also finds a stranger there. The stranger’s name is Finn. The two of them get pulled into the giant book of fables and Bruna Inkwell tells Fate that she must rewrite eight stories and give them each a happy ending to escape the book’s hold. Fate is funny and Finn is brave and familiar to Fate. I like their relationship with its ups and downs and Sithias, the snake like creature that travels with them, adds wonderful humor also. The first story takes place on an island under the control of a goddess ; next deals with a dark faerie in a forest; third , a goblin queen; fourth, a troll with a heartbreaking story; fifth, a dragon empress; sixth, Mother Grim; seventh, a lightning sword; the eighth and last fable is about the bloodthirsty oak. Each fable is a complete story all on its own and Fate and her companions add another dimension to each fable by trying to overcome each fable’s tragedy. The story is complex and interesting with characters that are dynamic, dimensional and lovable. I love it and am excited to read the sequel, Fate’s Keep. There’s also a prequel, Chaos in the Keep, that is included in the paperback edition of Fate’s Fables and I plan on purchasing this book for my library patrons as well as for my personal library. I think readers that love magic and adventure will enjoy this fun fantasy, 5 stars.