Blog Tour: A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi


The Author: 

Roshani Chokshi is a fabulous human.  (Okay I added that part of this bio)

Roshani Chokshi is the New York Times bestselling author of THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Shimmer, and Book Smugglers. Her short story, “The Star Maiden,” was longlisted for the British Fantasy Science Award.

The Book: 

Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes – a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels. Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

Release Date: March 28, 2017 

As much as I loved the lush and floral narrative descriptions in The Star-Touched Queen, I’d have to say that I find A Crown of Wishes to be my favorite of the two.  Not only has Chokshi one-upped herself, but she has created two snarky characters that leaped off the page and into my heart. Seriously, the banter in this book is spot on.  I’ve always wanted to be around people who could give me a verbal sparring match much like Vikram and Gauri have.  Plus, who doesn’t love a slow burn romance where the two characters start off with a rocky relationship and end up having feelings for one another? Seriously, that is one of my favorite book tropes and it will never cease to make me happy.

I’d love to pick Chokshi’s brain about all the glorious settings and where she got the idea for the Tournament of Wishes, well, if I’m being honest, the whole story here.  It’s delightfully complex and it unfolds in such an organic way that it keeps the reader on their toes.  Chokshi also does an excellent job of tying Guari’s story to her sister Maya’s without it being too heavy handed.  We are reminded of Maya frequently and how Guari’s sense of self-preservation and determination comes from her relationship with her “lost” sister.  Guari is a fierce female bad ass.  In a culture where women resided in harams and were regarded largely as property or things to be bartered, it is so awesome that Guari has carved her own lot in life and has grown to be a warrior who loves her country fiercely, she grows so much as a character throughout the novel that I’d have to say she’s my absolute favorite aspect of this story.

Be prepared to have a new book boyfriend, everyone, because Vikram is dreamy, witty, a bit of a hopeless romantic, and loves his kingdom as much as Guari loves Bharata. He has a tragic past but has persevered to become a strong person in his own right. Also, his father has a soft spot for injured and damaged animals, which I think is adorable and such a wonderful detail.

I could continue to gush, but let me leave you with some of my favorite quotes:

“A story could break its bones, grow wings, soar out of reach and dive out of sight in the time it took just to draw breath.  It meant we were’t walking a cut path. We carved it into existence with every step.”

“Fear was a key that fit every person’s hollow spaces – those things that kept us cold at night and that place where we retreated when no one was looking – and all it could do was unlock what was already there.”

“You could carry a story inside you and hold it up to the light when you needed it the most. You could peer through it, like a fram, and see how it changed your view when you looked out onto the world.”

4.5 Bards to Roshani Chokshi’s sophomore novel, A Crown of Wishes.

Book Review: Frostblood by Elly Blake

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon.

All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king’s tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Oh, Frostblood.

This book kind of felt like coming home.

If coming home involves a typical love story between the woman with a secretly powerful ability and a quick wit and sarcastic nature who is forced to spend time with a caustic and aloof man who also has a powerful ability and a secret past. But think about it, for those of us who have been reading young adult for years will recognize this trope and the stereotypical nature of it.  Of course there is a girl who has a power like no other, and of course there is a guy who is her polar opposite (in the case of Frostblood, literally), but they have an undeniable connection.  I will say, I do love a good love story where the love interests start off hating one another and growing to love one another.  That slow burn gets me every time.

Ruby/Taylor

So, all of the above did not mean that this book was bad.  Yes, it followed a lot of clichés and the story at its bare bones is not wholly original, BUT I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.  I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump and have been distracting myself with television, but sitting down and starting this…I read it all in one sitting.  It was fast-paced, which left little to be desired in the way of true character development, but the action was decent!  The world building needed a bit more expansion, in my opinion, mostly because there was just information on superstition and their religion, rather than anything serious.

I think the thing that did stick out to me was the amount of familial relationships that were explored in this novel.  Not just with Ruby and her mother, but with Arcus and Brother Thistle, the monks as a whole, Arcus and his brother, even the very secondary character of the small girl and her family of refugees traveling the countryside; that was my favorite part of this narrative.

The basics of the narrative kind of reflects a bit of a Marxist dichotomy between the bourgeois (the Frostbloods) and the proletariat (the Firebloods), except with even more murder and prejudice.

Overall, I found Frostblood to be a pretty average read. I didn’t absolutely adore it but I liked it just fine.  It’s definitely a story I think I’d actually keep up with, though.

3 Bards.

 

 

Book Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

 

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.

Release Date: February 7, 2017

I remember when I first heard about this novel.  It was in an email from one of the publicists at St. Martin’s, and she was trying to get us excited about the upcoming titles for Fall 2016, but she included a quick preview of Wintersong; it was the first five chapters.  I was enraptured from the first sentence.

I grew up on Labyrinth, Terry Jones and Monty Python, Bowie, and Jim Henson, so even the marketing of her saying that we’d “get introduced to the Goblin King,” peaked my interest back in September.  Side Note: I’m actually watching Labyrinth while I write this review…

First things first: S. Jae-Jones is such a strong writer. Not only did she provide such a succinct world, it honestly makes it feel like this was the story that should have been told in the movie.

In a lot of ways, I think that this is the story that David Bowie wanted to tell about the Goblin King.  This might be a slight spoiler, but a quote from Bowie prior to the release of Labyrinth is particularly fitting for the character of the King in the novel, “…(he) is, at best, a romantic; but at worst, he’s a spoiled child, vain and temperamental (sic)…I think he has inherited his Kingdom of Goblins reluctantly, and runs it under duress.”

I know I keep talking about the movie, and I will more later, but let me focus specifically on the novel itself.  Jae-Jones weaves music into the narrative as if it gives the story its soul.  The German roots of the story and the use of it’s language give it so much authenticity and contributes so much to putting the reader immediately within the story world.  Jae-Jones has truly created something extraordinary and a narrative that will stay with you.  This is a novel that I’d want to live in regardless of the peril and darkness. Her lyrical word choice and the eloquent sentence structure is that of true beauty and art. It’s been a long time since a novel has touched me as deeply as Wintersong.

While, yes, it pays deference to the movie and the original story, Jae-Jones’ take has made it so much more beautiful with a side of painful feels. I’m so glad that Jae-Jones expanded upon this enigmatic world and the Goblin King, who was such a sensual character.

Let me talk about Elisabeth.  She was everything that I wanted in a reluctant heroine/love interest.  She was talented, frustrated, and loyal as hell. If only Toby had Elisabeth instead of Sarah, Toby (Kathe) would have been saved much sooner. So many praises to Jae-Jones for creating this character and for making me adore her, flaws and all.  Those are the best types of characters, after all.

Jae-Jones’ Goblin King is a handsome, cruel lithe blonde man with dual colored eyes. Sound familiar? I’m so glad she had this homage to Bowie.  Please, please don’t think that this is all the novel is: a basic re-telling. It is SO MUCH MORE. I just really don’t want to give too much away, because I’d rather you read and fall in love on your own.  I just love both so much; so for me, knowing the movie really enriched my reading of the novel.

I want to thank S. Jae-Jones so much, for giving me back the Goblin King, and for giving the Goblin King so much more than the original story ever did. I always felt sympathy and love for him, but her novel makes everything so wonderfully complex and beautiful. I know at this point I’m repeating myself, but it is worth it to showcase how much I adored this book.

I’ll end this on the quotes from the book that saluted the movie:

“I’ve given you everything you’ve ever wanted.  I’m tired of living up to your expectations.” – The Goblin King, Wintersong
“I am exhausted from living up to your expectations.” – Jareth, Labyrinth

“I am a generous soul, Elisabeth…” The Goblin King, Wintersong
“I have been generous up until now.” – Jareth, Labyrinth

“I see the echoes of it within you.” – Elisabeth, Wintersong
“I can’t live within you.” – Jareth, Labyrinth

Seriously do yourself a favor and fall into the pages of Wintersong. You won’t regret it, I promise…or curse me to the Underground with the Goblin King.

5 Bards.

 

 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

S. Jae-Jones (called JJ) is an artist, an adrenaline junkie, and erstwhile editrix. When not obsessing over books, she can be found jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, co-hosting the Pub(lishing) Crawl podcast, or playing dress-up. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she now lives in North Carolina, as well as many other places on the internet, including Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, and her blog.

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

Now, I realize that when I first read The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi that I never actually wrote a review for it!  So, upon my receipt of an Advanced Reading Copy of the companion novel, Crown of Wishes, I decided to re-read TSTQ in order to prepare myself for more the feels that are going to come along with revisiting Guari and Bharata.

Finally, here is my review of TSTQ!

One of my favorite parts of Chokshi’s novel is the noted difference between the treatment of women in the kingdom of Bharata and how Amar promised to treat her within Akaran while she ruled alongside him.  It was interesting to see through the eyes of a daughter kept within the harem inside her kingdom, and while that wasn’t the focus of the novel, it was so great to see this kind of diversity in a young adult book.  I was a little bothered by the slut-shaming comment upon my re-read, when Maya throws “spreading legs” at one of the meaner harem wives.  But it wasn’t something that was a deal-breaker in this story for me.

Maya has a ton of fire in her personality and I love that she has that spunk and the urge to be as much as an individual as her society allows, and I love that.  She’s quick witted and stronger than she appears.  Now, with these traits, comes negative things: Maya is impulsive and more gullible than I remember from my first read.  I love that Chokshi has created a whole character full of strengths and flaws.  If there’s anything I can’t stand in young adult literature is when a main character is not well rounded and Maya is so well written as a frustrating and lovely character. Such a great character creation by Chokshi.

The world that Chokshi has created in The Star-Touched Queen is complex and wonderful.  The different worlds that the reader discovers alongside Maya, specifically the Night Bazaar (to quote Liz Lemon, “I want to go to there.”), has been beautifully created through flowery and expressive language.  I normally don’t like excessively descriptive narrative (a la Charles Dickens), but Chokshi’s writing is so enthralling that I found myself growing to love it.

As for the love story, I’m looking forward to Amar and Maya’s relationship in the novella Death and Night, because for me The Star-Touched Queen was so much more about Maya’s journey to remembering her past lives and becoming the strong woman she needed to be to restore balance to her world.

Also, is anyone else super interested in their horoscopes after reading this?

Overall, I’m so glad I went to re-read and spent more time with Maya and it makes me look forward to Crown of Wishes so much more! If you haven’t had a chance to read this beautiful book, then order a copy as soon as you can.

4 Bards.

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: March 28, 2017

Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

 

 

Book Review: Windwitch by Susan Dennard

Sometimes our enemies are also our only allies…

After an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister’s treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak—which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed.

When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her—yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen from him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first?

After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife’s edge—especially when the pirates’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands.

In my review of Truthwitch, I gave the book some pretty high praise, “Dennard has created something beautiful,” being the top compliment I gave.

I honestly could not have imagined how the sequel, by separating my two favorite characters Safi & Iseult, could possibly live up to the absolute beautiful example of fierce female friendship in Truthwitch.  Well, don’t mind me over here trying to stuff my narrow feet into my ridiculously loud mouth, because Dennard proved me wrong in spades. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted this book to be as good as it turned out to be, I was just scared it wouldn’t be! We all have those fears, right?

Anyway, let me get to the gushing. I 100% support re-reading Truthwitch before you start Windwitch.  Why? Well, for me it had been over a year since I had completed Truthwitch then lent it to someone else, so I didn’t get a chance to renew my knowledge of everything that happened.  I really think it would have saved me the slow start of remembering everything and would have enhanced my experience with Windwitch. So if possible, a re-read is definitely beneficial! *random side note over*

The narrative picks up with Merik, who is serving *fierce* back on the cover, the unlikely survivor of a burning ship and an assassination attempt. He spends the majority of the narrative struggling with his new reality as a “dead man,” (he names himself that, I promise, not a spoiler!) and trying to seek revenge on his would-be murder, while posturing a plan to save his beloved kingdom. He has gone through such a transformation from the first novel through this one, and it’s been such an organic development that I just am so excited to see how he continues to progress. This might be KIND OF spoilery, but if you are hoping for a *certain* reunion, like I was, it doesn’t happen YET. I’m not giving up hope.

While the first novel gave us the beginning of the Merik and Safi ship, this second novel really gave us more insight into the possible connections between Iseult and Aeduan.  While Merik and Safi were a match on the verge of igniting, Iseult and Aeduan are the snow melting slowly on the tip of a mountain top, and it’s just as compelling. Their journey together throughout this book kept me on my toes and wanting more.  I can only assume (and HOPE) that the third installment will continue this, since the title is Bloodwitch!

As strong as Iseult and Safi are together, I will say the one great thing about keeping them apart in this book was giving them both the chance to shine on their own. That being said, it was definitely the place for Safi to come into her own as an individual and powerful Truthwitch.  Dennard did such a great job of keeping up with her fiery personality while allowing her to grow more mature.  I honestly think Safi might be my favorite of the pair, but let’s be honest my favorite will be Safi and Iseult’s friendship.

Dennard continued the upbeat and pressing plot pace from the first novel, and I can only imagine with the introduction of a few new key characters (OWL! *so cute*) that the story will keep on being exciting.

HUGE props to Dennard for Cam and his storyline throughout this book. Seriously, way to give us feels with this secondary character and for including a transgender narrative. It is such a wonderful moment when the character’s preferred pronouns are accepted and used.  In addition, does anyone else hardcore ship Vivia and Stix? I’m predicting some excellent fan fiction to come out of this pairing.  (*hint* Don’t sell Vivia down the river Styx yet*—*cackles*)

This is by far one of the best sequels I’ve read in a long time! Order your copy of Windwitch, now. You won’t regret it!

4.5 Bards

 

 

 

Special thanks to Tor Teen for providing me with a review copy!

 

Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Release Date: January 31, 2017

Holy Hell in a hand-basket.

Stephanie Garber has created a world that I don’t want to leave, and characters I want to follow throughout their life stories.

I started this book on 9PM on a Sunday night, after I’d been sick for a week and sleeping as much as possible to get over it.  Once I started, I couldn’t put it down.  I found myself saying, “One more chapter,” okay, “Now, one more chapter,” over and over again until it was 1AM and I closed the book with a sigh. This doesn’t include the extra 30 minutes I sat there considering the ending and the complications that came along with it. I think in reality I maybe got 5 hours of sleep this night, but what is important is that I LOVED this book.

This world was created in such an organic way that nothing in the plot seemed like it was out of place or sudden.  Not only was Caraval such a richly developed story but the description of the characters and the locales within the novel were exquisite. I wish I could have seen the canopy bed in Scarlett’s room, had a sip of that crisp cider that enhances vision, or even run my hands over the gowns in the store where she sells two days of her life.

While I was totally proved wrong about who I assumed Julian was from the beginning (*shakes fist* tricky Garber, tricky!) he was a great example of a male character who comes off as such a…how to I put it…douchebag that really turns out to be a character with so many more layers than initially shown.  In fact, he was the saving grace for Scarlett (and the narrative) in many spots.

Probably an unpopular opinion: Dante? *fans self* A body covered in tattoos and a beautiful face to boot? *swoons*

Now, as someone who has had a struggle with her relationship with her sister (we are doing so much better as we’ve aged, by the way *Love you, Ginger!*), I think that for me what really made this story so impactful was the demonstration of absolute love and devotion between the two siblings.  Obviously it seems very one sided at the beginning as it is third person limited point of view, but the reader discovers it is a very equal love and something that both sisters suffered for.

All I can think of as I remember my mind blowing and wonderful late night read is that this is a story that I will come back to and re-read many times. Plus, who wouldn’t want to lose themselves in a fantasy world with Scarlett, Julian, and Tella?

**Trigger warning for parental physical abuse**

Pre-order a copy of Caraval now, I promise you won’t regret it.

4.5 Bards

 

 

 

 

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:

30269126

Release Date: February 7, 2017

Empress
Rhee, better known as Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an, is the sole surviving heir to a powerful dynasty. She’ll stop at nothing to avenge her family and claim her throne.

Fugitive
Aly has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a holo-vision show. But when he’s falsely accused of killing Rhee, he’s forced to prove his innocence to save his reputation – and his life.

Madman
With planets on the brink of war, Rhee and Aly are thrown together to confront a ruthless evil that threatens the fate of the entire galaxy.

 

 

 

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:

30011014

Release Date: January 10, 2017

Marinda has kissed dozens of boys. They all die afterward. It s a miserable life, but being a visha kanya a poison maiden is what she was created to do. Marinda serves the Raja by dispatching his enemies with only her lips as a weapon.

Until now, the men she was ordered to kiss have been strangers, enemies of the kingdom. Then she receives orders to kiss Deven, a boy she knows too well to be convinced he needs to die. She begins to question who she s really working for. And that is a thread that, once pulled, will unravel more than she can afford to lose.

 

 

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:

27827203
Release Date: January 17, 2017

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon. All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king’s tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

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