Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Blink

Publication Date: September 10, 2019

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

Amazon

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. “

*Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review!*

This was an incredible lush retelling of “The Lady, or the Tiger?” ! It had everything a retelling should, drama, action, and romance! I quite enjoyed my time reading this.

Characters. I actually really liked Kateri, even starting out. She was absolutely ruthless while still yearning for her father’s approval. She had revenge on her mind and she lived like it. Her character growth was not only believable, but it was done REALLY well. Especially for only a 334 page book! And Cion! He was fantastic. I loved his character and how he helped Kateri see truth in a sometimes gentle, sometimes tough love manner. A good mix of both helps! And Rodric is a good classic baddie!

Plot. The plot line was seriously so much fun. With water running extremely low and people having to ration it to half a bucket a day? And the royalty getting to use as much as they want? That’s bound to cause some problems. It was interesting to see how the author solved that problem. I really liked her solution to not only the water but also how people survived and escaped.

World. Minus the water problem and royalty, Achra sounds like somewhere I’d want to visit! It sounds like a blot of color in the desert, an oasis that weary travelers seek. It sounds amazing after a long journey, right? Sullivan did a really good job of making up creatures that would live there too; one’s that are poisonous, ones you can eat, ones that are poisonous and you can eat, and ones that don’t belong.

Final Thoughts. I wish there was more! Also, I am officially a big fan of Sullivan’s work now. I will definitely be buying A Touch of Gold now! I love that she takes lesser known myths and writes re-tellings. I have never read re-tellings like these before!

Thoughts on re-tellings? What is your favorite?

* *Normal disclaimer that content warning isn’t necessarily my personal thoughts. It’s for parents. *

CONTENT WARNING: Kissing, violence, animal cruelty, child abuse, death

OTHER CONTENT: Strong character growth, overcoming your weaknesses, stand up for your values and morals, strong male and female characters, caring for others

*Amazon link is my affiliate link!*

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim – Spoiler Free ARC Review

Publisher: Knopf

Publication Date: July 09, 2019

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

| Amazon | Pre-Order Swag

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.

*Thank you so much to Net Galley and Knopf the the e-arc in exchange for an honest review!*

Project Runway meets Mulan is a perfect tag for this book! Y’all, I was extremely invested in this world. Lim paints a picture of fashion so alluring I wanted to see them in real life more than anything. I loved the competition in the first half and the adventure in the last! Both were very different and very interesting!

Characters. Maia was very likable and relatable. Her character progression was done very well. She was shy at first but then owned her skills. She was just a nice person to read about, without being boring. Edan was intriguing and mysterious. He was a good mix of cocky and sweet. The person I wanted to know more about was Lady Sarnai! She was straight up FIRE! I hope to get more of her in the next book! And the Emperor can go away. He’s so annoying.

World. There’s not really a magic system. It’s extremely rare in people and in enchanted items. It was interesting to learn about how the Enchanters were made though. I really enjoyed the China-like world. Lim did a fantastic job of giving detailed descriptions.

Plot. Very unique. I have not read something like this. Have I said I loved the descriptions of the fashion yet?! Lim writes like a dream! The first half of the book is very different than the last half. The first half was more Project Runway and the last half was Mulan. The journey Maia goes on to collect the magic she needs for her dresses is amazing! It’s the type of adventure I love! Magic, romance, danger, and an ending that leaves you wanting more.

Final Thoughts. The ONLY things I didn’t like were very minor. There was a time where Maia stabbed a creature with her scissors and ran but then they were with her later. Then another time where she left her cane at the Summer Palace but then randomly had it at the Fall Palace. Small details like that happened a few times. I loved this book. I didn’t really get the Sarah J. Maas vibe but I do agree that it’s like Renee Ahdieh! I highly recommend! I cannot wait for the next book! Also, officially obsessed with Lim’s writing!

Is this on your radar for this year?

Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Page Street Publishing Co.

Publication Date: January 15, 2019

Genre: Fantasy, Retellings, YA, Romance

Adventure Rating: 5 Stars

| Amazon

” Echo Alkaev’s safe and carefully structured world falls apart when her father leaves for the city and mysteriously disappears. Believing he is lost forever, Echo is shocked to find him half-frozen in the winter forest six months later, guarded by a strange talking wolf—the same creature who attacked her as a child. The wolf presents Echo with an ultimatum: If she lives with him for one year, he will ensure her father makes it home safely. But there is more to the wolf than Echo realizes.

In his enchanted house beneath a mountain, each room must be sewn together to keep the home from unraveling, and something new and dark and strange lies behind every door. When centuries-old secrets unfold, Echo discovers a magical library full of books-turned-mirrors, and a young man named Hal who is trapped inside of them. As the year ticks by, the rooms begin to disappear, and Echo must solve the mystery of the wolf’s enchantment before her time is up, otherwise Echo, the wolf, and Hal will be lost forever.”

As you can see, I rated it 5 stars, so I obviously loved it. I literally have nothing bad to say.

Writing. Absolutely beautiful. Meyer paints a richly colorful story that I very desperately want to be in. I never once got lost or confused, and let me tell you there were some things in this book you really had to imagine. She writes like how you dream. The rooms in the house were so fantastical that I loved how different it was from anything I’ve read! One of the rooms had glass bobbles that had different things in them, like lightening, but when you touched them they cut you like knives. Not to mention the wonderful library! Who wouldn’t want to hop inside of a book?!

Plot. I LOVED how she did a retelling of the original East of the Sun and West of the Moon. That’s the story that beauty and the beast was based off of so naturally it’s one of my favorites. Also, I saw a movie as a kid that was based off of this and I loved it! So this read was actually kind of nostalgic for me! (Side note: I need to find that movie. :P) I really enjoyed the super sweet romance. It was perhaps a bit slow burn? Or maybe somewhere in between slow burn and insta love. The message of the book was love, but with a strong dose of forgiveness. I love when authors write about forgiveness. Not a lot of people forgive these days. It made the characters relationship quite relatable actually.

Characters. Another element that was done really well. Echo was strong and brave, but also sweet and nice. She had a nice balance. She has severe scarring on her face and even though she fights low self-esteem because of it, she knows it’s not a measure of what she’s worth. The Wolf was so sweet as well! He always tried to protect her. Hal was very interesting. He was always so mysterious and his story is extremely compelling, and how it ties in with the other characters. Mokosh… sigh. I feel so bad for her! That’s all I will say!

Final Thoughts. Um, read this. Everyone. Well, if you like fairytales and retellings. It’s such a beautiful book!

*Normal disclaimer that content warning isn’t necessarily my personal thoughts. It’s for parents. *

CONTENT WARNING: Kissing, violence, the characters share a bed but it’s more for safety reasons.

OTHER CONTENT: Learning how to be in a relationship, making friendships, forgiveness, love is the most powerful thing in the world.

Cadaver & Queen (#1 & #2) Spoiler Free Review + Giveaway

Author: Alisa Kwitney

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication Date: Cadaver & Queen – February 27, 2018 Corpse & Crown – February 12, 2019

Genre: YA, Retellings, Historical Fiction

Cadaver & Queen

| Amazon | Booksamillion | Barns and Noble

Corpse & Crown

| Amazon | Booksamillion | Barns and Noble

Cadaver & Queen

“When Lizzie Lavenza enrolled at Ingold as its first female medical student, she knew she wouldn’t have an easy time. From class demands to being an outsider among her male cohorts, she’ll have to go above and beyond to prove herself. So when she stumbles across what appears to be a faulty Bio-mechanical–one of the mechanized cadavers created to service the school–she jumps at the chance to fix it and get ahead in the program.

Only this Bio-mechanical isn’t like the others. Where they are usually empty-minded and perfectly obedient, this one seems to have thoughts, feelings… and self-awareness.

Soon Lizzie realizes that it is Victor Frankenstein–a former student who died under mysterious circumstances. Victor, it seems, still has a spark of human intelligence inside him, along with memories of things he discovered before his untimely death.. .and a suspicion that he was murdered to keep that information from getting out. Suddenly Lizzie finds herself intertwined in dark secrets and sabotage that put her life, and the lives of Victor and their friends, in danger. But Lizzie’s determined to succeed–even if that means fighting an enemy who threatens the entire British Empire. “

Corpse & Crown


Oliver Twist gets a fresh take in this reimagining of the Dickensian classic taking the familiar characters and turning them on their heads in a historical thriller packed with weird science, political suspense, and steamy romance, perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder.

From Alisa Kwitney comes a connected novel set in the same alternative Victorian England of Cadaver & QueenCorpse & Crownfollows the story of Agatha DeLacey, an Ingold nursing student who travels to London and uncovers a devastating secret about the country’s Bio-Mechanicals. Inspired by the classic story of Oliver Twist and complete with a dashing Artful Dodger-inspired male lead, this retelling is a satisfying follow-up to Kwitney’s clever and critically acclaimed young adult debut.

Thank you so much to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for the copies!

Cadaver & Queen

This was the most fun I’ve had reading a retelling in a long while. A retelling of Frankenstein? Come on. It was seriously thoroughly enjoyable.

Victor is our hot frankenstein and boy did he not disappoint. The chemistry he and Lizzie had was A+. Lizzie is a brash American with her own way of doing things. She is extremely smart. Smart enough to be the only female to get into medical school (this is the very early 1900’s). She is tested repeatedly and always comes out stronger. I especially love the moment between her and Grimbald towards the end.

The side characters were really fun to read about as well, and brought a solid story of their own; Byram, with his mysterious limp, Will, trying to measure up to his (supposedly) dead brother, Victor, and Aggie, having the clever things to say but more than meets the eye. And Justine… I’m still not sure what to think of her.

I thought the plot was well executed and unique. There were multiple Frankensteins and crazy doctors/ scientists and that made the story way more interesting.

Corpse & Crown

I liked this one slightly less but only because we see less of Lizzie and Victor as they race to complete an experiment before they run out of time. War is on the horizon, so I get it, they’re busy. But Aggie and Dodger are a good time. Dodger is actually the one that is all lovey-dovey, love-at-first-sight, whereas Aggie is a not in your lifetime type of gal. They make for an interesting couple even if they’re not quite as cute as our original couple.

I did, however, like the plot in this one more. It was more intense with more on the line. War is almost upon them, plus accidents and action left and right. It was more fast paced than the first one.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a fun read, go ahead and pick these up! Especially if you think a Frankenstein retelling sounds awesome.

Alisa Kwitney was an editor at DC Comics/Vertigo and is the Eisner-nominated author of graphic novels, romantic women’s fiction and urban fantasy. She was one of the authors of A Flight of Angels, which made YALSA’s Top Ten List for Great Graphic Novels for Teens, and the YA graphic novel Token, named a highlight of the Minx imprint by PW. Alisa has an MFA from Columbia University. Her thesis, Till the Fat Lady Sings, a comedy of manners about college and eating disorders, made The New York Times’ new and noteworthy in paperback list. The first issue of her latest comic book series, Mystik U, is coming out November ’17 from DC Comics. Her first YA novel, Cadaver & Queen, will be coming out with Harlequin Teen in February ’18.

Twitter | Facebook | Website

Check out my GIVEAWAY on my Instagram for BOTH of these books!

The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke – Spoiler Free Review

Author: April Genevieve Tucholke

Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Publication Date: October 02, 2018

Genre: Fantasy, YA, Retellings

My Rating: 3 Stars

| AMAZON


“A dark standalone YA fantasy about a band of mercenary girls in search of female glory.

Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are the Boneless Mercies—girls hired to kill quickly, quietly, and mercifully. But Frey is weary of the death trade and, having been raised on the heroic sagas of her people, dreams of a bigger life. 

When she hears of an unstoppable monster ravaging a nearby town, Frey decides this is the Mercies’ one chance out. The fame and fortune of bringing down such a beast would ensure a new future for all the Mercies. In fact, her actions may change the story arc of women everywhere.”

So, the hook that got me the most was the fact that it is a retelling of Beowulf. Let me tell you, even being a reader my whole life, I did NOT like reading the original (translated) version. Hated it. But I liked the movie. And the fact that this book was a female retelling. But it didn’t wow me. It didn’t follow Beowulf that closely either. In fact, if no one had said it was a retelling, I would never know. So, I just liked it. That’s it.

I can’t even do likes and dislikes because I feel like each thing I liked, there was something I disliked. Here’s what I mean, I loved that there were fantastic representations of female friendship. They were close but not in love with each other. However, it was kind of weird how much they would touch each other. I know they had to sleep tightly together for warmth, but aside from that they would just randomly start running their hands through each others hair or lay down in their laps. Even if my best friend did that to me, I’d be extremely uncomfortable (unless she was crying and I was comforting her maybe). Another thing I liked was Frey and Trigve but again, the no romance but very touchy thing was weird. Maybe it’s my age (27) but I just don’t do that with guy or girl friends.

The thing I liked most was the battle scenes! They were pretty awesome! Four women and a guy ripping into things and fighting monsters was so fun to read! I also really enjoyed the parts about the Sea Witches. I wanted more from their parts!

FINAL THOUGHTS

I liked it. Enough to read a second book if one comes out! It was a really chill read. One of those books you just read casually. They are always good for fillers in between the tear-out-your-soul reads.

Let’s chat! Have you read this? What did you think?

Sky Without Stars (System Divine #1) Review [Spoiler Free]

Author: Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication Date: May 26, 2019

Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Retellings

My Rating: 2 Stars



Amazon

“A thief. An officer. A guardian. 

Three strangers, one shared destiny . . .

When the Last Days came, the planet of Laterre promised hope. A new life for a wealthy French family and their descendants. But five hundred years later, it’s now a place where an extravagant elite class reigns supreme; where the clouds hide the stars and the poor starve in the streets; where a rebel group, long thought dead, is resurfacing.

Whispers of revolution have begun—a revolution that hinges on three unlikely heroes…

Chatine is a street-savvy thief who will do anything to escape the brutal Regime, including spy on Marcellus, the grandson of the most powerful man on the planet.

Marcellus is an officer—and the son of a renowned traitor. In training to take command of the military, Marcellus begins to doubt the government he’s vowed to serve when his father dies and leaves behind a cryptic message that only one person can read: a girl named Alouette.

Alouette is living in an underground refuge, where she guards and protects the last surviving library on the planet. But a shocking murder will bring Alouette to the surface for the first time in twelve years…and plunge Laterre into chaos.

All three have a role to play in a dangerous game of revolution—and together they will shape the future of a planet.

Power, romance, and destiny collide in this sweeping reimagining of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, Les Misérables.”

*Thank you to Edelweiss+ for the review copy!*

Story/Plot. The premise of the story and plot were A+. I mean, a retelling of Les Miserables?! I LOVE that play (I know it’s based off of the book, I’ve just never read it.)! Plus it’s a retelling in space!  That’s right up my alley! And that’s about all I liked of the book. Oops. 

Writing. Okay, I did like the writing. It wasn’t anything fancy or my favorite writing ever, but it was good. It was easy to follow along and I never got lost in the story. 

Characters. Here we go. Here’s the big one. I literally didn’t like anyone. Chantine was the only one that I liked SOMETIMES. Marcellou and Allouette were SO BORING! I didn’t care if they lived or died. Marcellou was all over the place. One minute he wanted to follow his Grandfather, the next he hated him. Even at the end of the book, I was like where are we at here, Marcellou? I also just saw him as a weak character and didn’t understand his charm. Allouette was just kind of a wuss most of the time. I guess she picked up at the end but she was so boring to read about. Chantine whined a lot but she had reason to. She literally had no one. And she was poor and starving. She has a really tough life. Hers was the only story line I was mildly interested in. She was feisty and she did literally whatever she had to to survive. My suggestion to her, forget about Marcellou. You don’t need him. Although,  if you know the Les Miserables story, she’s supposed to be Eponine, so it doesn’t really end well for her anyway. I could have done without the romance in this story, and usually I’m all about those ships!

Final Thoughts. A 2 star rating for me means I finished the book but it was hard to get through. I won’t be picking up the second in the series. I will say that this might be someone’s cup of tea, just not mine. 

The Forest Queen Review (Spoiler Free)

DSC_0606

Author: Betsy Cornwell

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Publication Date: August 7, 2018

My Rating: 4 Stars

Goodreads

Amazon (Contains my affiliate link)

*I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

The Forest Queen gives me all the nostalgic feels of my childhood favorite fairy tales. It is a Robin Hood retelling with a girl named Sylvie, who steals from the rich and gives to the poor. I loved the adventure to be had here!

The Story. For being a shorter book than what I usually read, the story was actually pretty well rounded. There were a few questions I had, and when I re-read through some paragraphs to see if I missed something, I didn’t find what I was looking for. But they weren’t any major plot holes, more like how did this character get from A to B.

The Writing. I liked Cornwell’s writing but it wasn’t my favorite. She is a good storyteller, but I feel as though the story could have gone to higher places if she had added more descriptions. Sometimes I was confused when Sylvie dreamed but then it turned out to be real life. Or if she was imagining something or not. I had to re-read paragraphs a few times.

The Characters: I really enjoyed the characters in this book. I thought that Sylvie’s character progression was actually quite good! The romance was cute but not an essential part of the story. The side characters were really likable and had personality. Especially Little Jane! And Bird is just the cutest! I also have to say that I felt as though Cornwell threw in LGBT characters at the last moment to try and give it some diversity. It just seemed random, like she was like, “Whoops, forgot to add diversity. Let’s just quickly add in some new side characters at the end here.”

Final Thoughts. I almost gave this book 3 stars but the nostalgic feel of it along with the ending bumped it up to 4 stars. I had a good time reading this retelling, and would love to read more of her work! Also, that cover is completely drool worthy.