Repost: Interview and Book Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

 

28374007In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.

Holy moley this book was an excellent roller coaster of emotions and craziness.

Blake has created an absolutely intriguing story world where the isolated island members are pretty fanatical about their precious queens and they will do almost anything to see their queen crowned.

The narration in this story is a bit muddled at times, because the story seems to flow from character to character third person limited, so that way the reader is in the loop about all of the dealings behind the scenes, and everything that is going on within the three areas of the island where the girls are kept.  Obviously the reader gets the point of view of each of the queens, Katharine, Arsinoe, and Mirabella.  But we also get the point of views of those closest to them, Natalia and Pietyr for Katharine, Jules, Joseph, and Billy for Arsinoe, and Luca for Mirabella.  While I did find the narration switches to be confusing at times and sometimes the narrative voices blended together, it served the story well and it allowed for a few *gasp* moments during my read.

As for the queens themselves as characters: I can’t decide which one I like more.  Fierce Arsinoe who has overcome her faults and accepted her fate only to find her fate different by the end of the novel.  Loving Mirabella who can control raging fire but can’t control how much she loves and misses her sisters.  Shy Katharine who is stronger than anyone will give her credit for, despite her short comings.  They were all raised to hate and want to murder their siblings in order to take their crown, but fore the most part the girls are pretty reluctant.  It seems that for the most part, none of them actually hate each other, but are just kind of resigned to their lot in life…of having to commit murder in order to live.

It’s a pretty dark burden they all carry, but they do manage to find a bit of happiness in their worlds, although an unfortunate love triangle pops up that broke my heart for two different characters. Damn you, Blake for giving me feels.

The narrative has such a sense of urgency throughout the whole book, which is excellent considering the story takes place over a number of months leading up to the final conclusion of Beltane at the end of Three Dark Crowns.

The readers learn a pretty important plot point there at the end, one that will change the course of the next installment.  Overall the world building was excellent for a first fantasy novel, and I’m sure we will continue to get more details on the history of the prophecy for the triplets (I can hope!), and more insight into what happens if the queens fail to kill one another.

4.5 Bards! Keep an eye out for our interview with Kendare Blake from the Texas Teen Book Festival!

four.fivebards

 

 

 

 


Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: June 20, 2017

An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

 

Book Review: Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

queenofheartsAs Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, Dinah’s days are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the hands of her father, the King of Hearts. The only highlight of her days is visiting Wardley, her childhood best friend, the future Knave of Hearts — and the love of her life.

When an enchanting stranger arrives at the Palace, Dinah watches as everything she’s ever wanted threatens to crumble. As her coronation date approaches, a series of suspicious and bloody events suggests that something sinister stirs in the whimsical halls of Wonderland. It’s up to Dinah to unravel the mysteries that lurk both inside and under the Palace before she loses her own head to a clever and faceless foe.

It has been a long time since I’ve read a novel where I genuinely dislike almost every character.  I understand why this was necessary in a novel like Queen of Hearts as it is the story of a villainess becoming who she is meant to be by the time Alice arrives in Wonderland.

However, I couldn’t quite get past the feeling that all these characters needed a good slap.

Seriously.  Not only is Dinah hardly likable until the events at the end of the novel, but she is a spoiled brat who has some serious daddy issues.  Now if this had been done in a way to make her more sympathetic as a character, then I would be fine with it.  But it is almost as if Dinah is all hard edges and no smooth curves.  The King of Hearts is just as bad, a petulant adult still steaming from a past transgression and taking it out on his oldest daughter and doting on his illegitimate offspring despite the traditional lineage of the throne.

(^^^Seriously, the cover is absolutely gorgeous and it really does look like it could be the companion to the limited edition Queen of Hearts doll by Disney.)

Speaking of Vittiore, she is about as flat as a cardboard cut out and it was fairly obvious from around halfway through that she was simply a plot device and another way for Dinah to be enraged.

I think the only characters that really redeemed anything about characterization in this novel was her younger brother, the Mad Hatter character, who suffers from a sort of mental illness rather than mercury induced mania that Victorian hatters were known to succumb to.  Harris, the white rabbit character, I also found endearing, but he was very simply the same embodiment of the follower that he would be in the original novel.

I think the world building was the strongest point in this novel, as I really enjoyed the different aspects of the Court of the Hearts and the different rankings of Cards (which served as Security, Torturers, Accountants, and Soldiers), and the Black Towers.  That was the only part I found to be significant to the plot, as the rest of the novel sometimes felt like Dinah was just complaining to her long-time crush, Wardley.  Who, by the way, is so obviously uninterested that it made Dinah seem more like a mooning preteen than a teenager and future Queen.

The entire novel really just felt like it could have been a prequel short story in a lot of ways, or maybe a short novella.  However, as I am a giant Alice in Wonderland fangirl, Oakes can count on me reading the next installment, out January 2017.

I’m going to give it around 3 Bards as I found it average but with potential.

threebards

http://www.amidsummernightsread.com/2717-2/

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: October 6, 2015

Violet is on the run. After the Duchess of the Lake catches Violet with Ash, the hired companion at the Palace of the Lake, Violet has no choice but to escape the Jewel or face certain death. So along with Ash and her best friend, Raven, Violet runs away from her unbearable life of servitude.

But no one said leaving the Jewel would be easy. As they make their way through the circles of the Lone City, Regimentals track their every move, and the trio barely manages to make it out unscathed and into the safe haven they were promised—a mysterious house in the Farm.

But there’s a rebellion brewing, and Violet has found herself in the middle of it. Alongside a new ally, Violet discovers her Auguries are much more powerful than she ever imagined. But is she strong enough to rise up against the Jewel and everything she has ever known?

Book Review: My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (aka Roman) who’s haunted by a family tragedy is looking for a partner.

Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.

I can tell you that I’ve been struggling to really find a good contemporary young adult novel to really kickstart my interest.  I tend to be more interested in fantasy, science fiction, and fairy tale adaptations.  Nothing against contemporary, but I even tend to prefer historical YA over anything set today.  Maybe it’s because I’m just living in today and it seems a bit dull, but Warga’s novel really gave me a push into understanding why contemporary fiction can be so important.  Now I haven’t been living under a rock, so I’ve read YA books that deal with mental illness before (primarily books about teens suffering from Eating Disorders), but the only other contemporary novels I’ve read that feature the treatment of mental illness or anything like that were by Sarah Dessen.  Even then, it wasn’t a main topic of the narrative.

Well, now that I’ve bored you a bit with the ramblings of a book reviewer, I can start the (actual) review:

Warga’s novel doesn’t skirt around the fact that the main character is depressed and suicidal. (It is in the synopsis, btw) But the straightforwardness, not only of the main character, but of the narrative itself is quite refreshing.  I enjoyed the depressed, but thoughtful, voice of Aysel.  She was contradictory, she was absolutely quizzical, she was endearing, she was frustrating, and she felt so REAL.  Roman, also known as FrozenRobot, was a bit more flat as a character, and I found him a bit irritating through a lot of the narrative.  He was just so absolutely determined and seemed to be offended anytime Aysel expressed any type of possible thought that may have been toward the future.

I really appreciated how Warga depicted how depression can manifest in different people in different ways.  Aysel, for instance, was an outcast due to the actions of her father and how the public perceived her in relation to those actions.  This was a contributing factor to her depression, and it resembles a basic “warning sign” of depression.  Roman, on the other hand, isolated himself from his fellow popular friends and even quit playing a sport he loved as a form of punishment. This also led to him being alone with his thoughts.  I loved that both characters had very distinct aspects of their depression, but I appreciate and applaud Warga’s ability to not glamorize suicide and suicidal thoughts.  It is important to seek help for these thoughts, and I really liked that the publisher and author included a lot of resources in case readers need to reach out.

Now, to Warga, it was absolutely inspired to use physics and energy in this.  Not only did it speak to me as a former Science major, but also as a current (not so secretive) science nerd.  Brilliant.  I refuse to give away any of the quotes or aspects of this from the story because it really just made My Heart and Other Black Holes even more heartfelt and enjoyable.

I leave you with one of (that’s right, ONE OF) the dozens of memorable quotes from this story:

“I wonder if that’s how darkness wins, by convincing us to trap it inside ourselves, instead of emptying it out.”

Kudos to you Jasmine Warga, for really showing me that contemporary young adult fiction is not something to be underestimated.

4.5 Bards.

four.fivebards

Release Day Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

redqueen

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

Release Date: TODAY

When I first heard about this book, I had a distinct feeling that it would be a big deal.  Granted, I also thought it was going to have something to do with Alice in Wonderland, but that was just wishful thinking.  Either way, I can’t imagine how Red Queen cannot be hugely popular.  Not only did Aveyard sign a three book deal and the movie rights were purchased by Universal before the book has even been released, but the narrative is filled with all the aspects that are super popular in young adult literature right now: futuristic, paranormal, and filled with social injustice. So yes, Red Queen is going to be a big deal.

redqueentweetAveyard has created an excellent story world that pits blood against blood: Silver and powerful versus the Red and weak.  It is set up very much like the standard ideal of the bourgeoisie and proletariat, just like this quote from Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto, “Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other — bourgeoisie and proletariat.” I admire that the narrative reflects such adept use of political theory in this notion, whether it was intentional or not.

I also really liked Aveyard’s stress on how important the family unit is throughout this narrative, and how Mare, no matter what, was constantly thinking about those she cared about at home and what she could do to help.  Whether it was thievery or sacrificing her identity to provide for her family and bring her brothers home from war.  Again, the way that Aveyard has the Red blood’s society set up is that children are either apprenticed and in training to make money and a livelihood by serving the Silvers or they are forced to serve in the army, which also serves the Silvers.  I love it because this too can be interpreted using Marxist literary theory, “The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.” Reds are forced to work to provide for Silvers and their families = money relation. So many kudos to Aveyard for this.

redqueenprisonOverall the story building in Red Queen was phenomenal. Aveyard set up enough of the background to make the story-world feel complete, but that there is still a lot of information that the readers don’t know yet.  There is a love story, but it most definitely takes a back seat to the political, familial, and court intrigue aspects of this novel, which is a breath of fresh air. Also, I kept imagining Mare looking a bit like the Red Queen from Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, mostly because they shared a similar rags to riches story, and let’s face it, Emma Rigby is gorgeous.  I cannot express to you how much I enjoyed this novel and how excited I am to see where this story goes in the subsequent installments.

I leave you with this quote by Karl Marx:

“Let the ruling classes (silvers)  tremble at a […] revolution. The proletarians (reds) have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.”

5 Bards.

fivebards

 

Book Review: The Fall by Bethany Griffin

Madeline Usher is doomed.

She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.

Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.

In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down?
I love Edgar Allan Poe as much as the next literary nerd, especially ever since I realized that Poe was about the only horror/creepy writer that I could read without having a ridiculous amount of nightmares! Additionally, I should have expected for Griffin’s adaptation of Poe’s story, “The Fall of the House of Usher,” to be just as well done as her adaptation of “The Masque of the Red Death.”

I can admit that “House of Usher” was not one of my favorites of Poe’s works, mostly due to the fact that Roderick treats his sister in such a sketchy way.  I mean, c’mon, it is clear that he knew she was alive.  But anyway, Griffin’s adaptation begins somewhere near the end of Poe’s story, with Madeline awaking up trapped in a sarcophagus and unable to move.  Then the story tells the story from Roderick and Madeline’s childhood, before Poe’s story ever began.

This decision by Griffin was brilliant, because she was able to display the slow madness that came over the inhabitants of the house.  In addition, it doesn’t hurt that she was able to fill in a lot more details about the curse and the house than was ever originally in Poe’s story.  I really like that instead of the narration coming from a third party, that the story was told from Madeline’s first person POV.  The story alternated between pre-teen Madeline’s narration, teenage Madeline’s narration, and the journal pages of her ancestor.  Speaking of POV, I was really thrown by the switch at the end, which I won’t divulge, but it actually took me out of the story and made me a bit frustrated!

On the whole the story was really well done descriptively, and the house was way more realistic and sentient than I thought could be done in a novel.  Talk about creepy.

Overall I can say that I really enjoyed the novel, and I read it really quickly.  I will also say that the end really did take away some enjoyment for me.

3.5 Bards

3.5bards

 

Book Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

redqueen

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

Release Date: February 10, 2015

When I first heard about this book, I had a distinct feeling that it would be a big deal.  Granted, I also thought it was going to have something to do with Alice in Wonderland, but that was just wishful thinking.  Either way, I can’t imagine how Red Queen cannot be hugely popular.  Not only did Aveyard sign a three book deal and the movie rights were purchased by Universal before the book has even been released, but the narrative is filled with all the aspects that are super popular in young adult literature right now: futuristic, paranormal, and filled with social injustice. So yes, Red Queen is going to be a big deal.

redqueentweetAveyard has created an excellent story world that pits blood against blood: Silver and powerful versus the Red and weak.  It is set up very much like the standard ideal of the bourgeoisie and proletariat, just like this quote from Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto, “Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other — bourgeoisie and proletariat.” I admire that the narrative reflects such adept use of political theory in this notion, whether it was intentional or not.

I also really liked Aveyard’s stress on how important the family unit is throughout this narrative, and how Mare, no matter what, was constantly thinking about those she cared about at home and what she could do to help.  Whether it was thievery or sacrificing her identity to provide for her family and bring her brothers home from war.  Again, the way that Aveyard has the Red blood’s society set up is that children are either apprenticed and in training to make money and a livelihood by serving the Silvers or they are forced to serve in the army, which also serves the Silvers.  I love it because this too can be interpreted using Marxist literary theory, “The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.” Reds are forced to work to provide for Silvers and their families = money relation. So many kudos to Aveyard for this.

redqueenprisonOverall the story building in Red Queen was phenomenal. Aveyard set up enough of the background to make the story-world feel complete, but that there is still a lot of information that the readers don’t know yet.  There is a love story, but it most definitely takes a back seat to the political, familial, and court intrigue aspects of this novel, which is a breath of fresh air. Also, I kept imagining Mare looking a bit like the Red Queen from Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, mostly because they shared a similar rags to riches story, and let’s face it, Emma Rigby is gorgeous.  I cannot express to you how much I enjoyed this novel and how excited I am to see where this story goes in the subsequent installments.

I leave you with this quote by Karl Marx:

“Let the ruling classes (silvers)  tremble at a […] revolution. The proletarians (reds) have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.”

5 Bards.

fivebards

 

*Disclaimer*
The use of Karl Marx’s works in this review serve to apply as literary theory.

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: February 24, 2015

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her “true love” is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Follow
Get every new post delivered to your inbox!
Join our other followers!
Powered By WPFruits.com
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers