Waiting on Wednesday: The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

The Shadow Queen (Ravenspire, #1)

I was really excited to read this book once I read the description on Goodreads several months ago.  Luckily, an advanced copy showed up at work so I could share my thoughts with all of you.

This cover seems simple but the story quickly shows just how symbolic it actually is, but since I’m trying to avoid spoilers here, I’ll just let you make the connection yourself 🙂

Now to dig into the flesh of the story, which is a refreshing, although very dark Snow White retelling and I found myself unable to put down the book more than once or twice (to sleep and eat).  And when it was finished, I just wanted it to keep going.  But not because we ended on a major cliffhanger (YES!), I want to see what else these characters can accomplish.  Let me introduce our main characters:

Lorelei Diederich-Disposed princess on the run, trying to learn how to use her magic without attracting the attention of Queen Irina

Queen Irina-A powerful, jealous mardushka, whose magic is harming the land and is both creepy and intense

King Kol-Recently lost his father, mother, and older brother in the Ogre War and needs a powerful ally to save his country of dragon shifters

I think my favorite part of this book was Lorelei’s strength, ability to plan, courage to carry out those plans, and her tenacity and ferociousness without compromising herself or falling into the stereotypical princess outline.  Redwine should be commended for creating characters with depth and purpose that seem real.

As for the plot, it’s pretty basic–rebel wants to overthrow the evil monarch and wins over allies who are very useful to that end.  It’s the characters and the fulfillment of each plot point with little twists that make the story so enjoyable.  The beginning was maybe just a little slow, but once you get past the first 50 or so pages, it really picks and the pacing is right on point for the rest of the story.  Redwine has confirmed on Goodreads that this is “the first in a series of stand alone companion novels, each an epic fantasy fairy tale retelling set in adjoining kingdoms,” and I can’t wait to read them all!

 

Do you remember Snow White & the Huntsman? Did you love the dark portrayal of Charlize Theron’s evil queen but felt the movie was lacking in something?  As I read The Shadow Queen, I couldn’t help but wish this book had been the basis for that movie.  It was dark, gritty and possessed the same type of awesome magic, but had a much more powerful Snow White character.  You’ll have to let me know if you feel the same in the comments section.

From the publisher:

A dark epic fantasy inspired by the tale of Snow White, from C. J. Redwine, the author of the Defiance series. Perfect for fans of A Court of Thorns and Roses and Cinder.

Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic of his own—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman—and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

Holiday Book Haul

I’m a little late with this, but I wanted to share the fun books I picked up over the holidays (either by purchasing with holiday money or from work).

Purchased:

Doctor Who: Time Lord Fairy Tales

I was so excited to find this on the shelf at Barnes & Noble!  I knew it existed but thought it wouldn’t be available in the US for awhile.  I’m really looking forward to reading this and possible sharing a review here (if I can fit it in).

Work review copies:

Ruined (Untitled, #1)The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen, #1)UnhookedThe Forbidden Wish

These are some titles that are coming out later this year.  I probably won’t review all of them, but I’ve put Ruined on my possible list for May reviews.  And I definitely want to read The Dark Days Club soon as I really enjoyed Eon/Eona from the same author.

Gifts:

Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson, #9)

This one is definitely on my review list!  I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of this title through a friend who works at Penguin.  We’re far enough along into the series that I plan on re-reading from the beginning before tackling this one, but since I’ve finished reading my 2 assigned books for February, I can get started this weekend!  (Look for the review early February or very late January.)

Crimson Peak: The Art of Darkness

One of my favorite Christmas presents this year included the art book for Crimson Peak, which is a wonderful psychological thriller film from Guillermo del Toro released late in 2015.  The movie is beautiful and this book truly reflects that on every page as well as giving concept art, character profiles, and filling in some of  the small plot gaps.

 

Book Haul #alaleftbehind with Friends :)

IMG_2357

Even though I was unable to attend ALA Midwinter this year, I did have a co-worker who was willing to pick up a few things for me.  Since I had to be selective, I sent her after 3 books and 3 signings.  I’m very happy to add The Reader by Traci Chee, The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Sky, and The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi to my reading challenge review pile.  I’m also excited to have a copy of Truthwitch by Susan Dennard.  The three signatures I asked for were Laurie Halse Anderson (Speak really spoke to me in high school), Roshani Chokshi, and Stephanie Evanovich (this one’s for a friend but I enjoy the Stephanie Plum books).

Sorry for the sideways pictures but you can see the awesome all the same:)

Waiting for Wednesday: Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

Glass Sword (Red Queen, #2)

Anticipated release date: February 9, 2016

You can pre-order a signed first edition at Barnes & Noble

I was lucky enough to grab an advanced copy of Glass Sword from work, and I was glad to read it for review here.  While I loved Red Queen, the sequel was harder to swallow.  Victoria has a very compelling writing style, and she’s done her homework on portraying emotions, especially in adverse situations.  The subject matter of war and casualties were really hard to read and reminded me why I don’t like to read stories that focus on wars.  I was also put off by the repetition of the protagonist’s inability to trust anyone and the need to keep reminding herself that the prince was just a fleeting distraction.  But, I just couldn’t stop reading!

I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’m not going to talk about the plot except to say that it basically starts where Red Queen ended.  You will definitely want to read this book.  It has all the great stuff from the first book while expanding on characters and abilities.  And even though the subject was harder for me to read, the writing was so fluid that I had to keep going.  I look forward to reading more from Victoria Aveyard 🙂

 

From the publisher:

The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control. The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors. But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

Book Review: Classic Human Anatomy in Motion: The Artist’s Guide to the Dynamics of Figure Drawing by Valerie L. Winslow

Classic Human Anatomy in Motion: The Artist's Guide to the Dynamics of Figure Drawing

I’m always looking for new books to help improve my creative and artistic skills, so when this anatomy drawing book became available, I was really excited.  My figure drawing is always slightly disproportionate, so I was hoping this book would help SHOW me how to correct that.

When I received the book, I quickly opened it and found lots of WORDS and not a lot of examples.  As a visual learner trying to improve my art, I was baffled and confused by the lack of art in this book.  Because of this, I set the book aside, hoping my next impression might be more favorable to actually reading through this 300+ page book.

Alas, my first impression stuck with me.  Perhaps the overly technical, bone-level illustrations were too advanced for my needs, but it definitely wasn’t what I was expecting.  The words may be very useful and helpful to some, but I can’t imagine that too many artists would add this book to their collection.  I’ve included some sample images below so that you can see what I’m talking about.  I don’t think this book will be of much use to me, so I’ll try to find someone that will get use out of it.

From the Publisher:

This essential companion book to the bestselling Classic Human Anatomy provides artists and art students with a deeper understanding of human anatomy and different types of motion, inspiring more realistic and energetic figurative art.

Fine-art instruction books do not usually focus on anatomy as it relates to movement, despite its great artistic significance. Written by a long-time expert on drawing and painting human anatomy, Classic Human Anatomy in Motion offers artists everything they need to realistically draw the human figure as it is affected by movement. Written in a friendly style, the book is illustrated with hundreds of life drawing studies (both quick poses and long studies), along with charts and diagrams showing the various anatomical and structural components.

This comprehensive manual features 5 distinct sections, each focusing on a different aspect of the human figure: bones and joint movement, muscle groups, surface form and soft tissue characteristics, structure, and movement. Each chapter builds an artistic understanding of how motion transforms the human figure and can create a sense of expressive vibrancy in one’s art.

I received a copy of this book through Blogging for Books, in exchange for an honest review.

Top 10 Backlog

Today for Top 10 Tuesday, I want to share the top 10 books on my backlog TBR list, which will hopefully get crossed off throughout 2016.  I want to know if you’ve read these titles or if they are also lurking on your TBR list.  (Order based on publication date.)

10. Paper Mage

Found this one at a used bookstore many years ago.  The magic system has something to do with origami, so it’s survived several purges.  Not sure why I haven’t read it yet though.

9. Sign of the Crescent

I really don’t remember much about this one, but I’ve owned it forever at this point, so I really need to read it.

8.Tiger Moon

I’m pretty sure this one is based around a Hindu myth or Indian fairy tale.  Probably going to feature this one when I do a post about all the backed-up fractured fairy tales/retellings I need to read.

7. Bloodhound (Beka Cooper, #2)

I fell behind on this series, most likely because Tamora Pierce stopped releasing new books as frequently and I don’t want Tortall to end.  EVER!  But she’s a favorite author, so it’s time to catch up.

6. Storm Glass (Glass, #1)

Another favorite author, but I have truly only read the original Poison Study trilogy.  Although I started collecting her books almost immediately 🙂

5. The Legend of Eli Monpress (The Legend of Eli Monpress, #1-3)

I started reading the first book in this omnibus a couple years ago, and I enjoyed what I was able to read.  Unfortunately, I was in the process of moving and set aside the book, so I need to pick it back up.

4. God Save the Queen (The Immortal Empire, #1)

I’ve started this one several times, but always seem to get interrupted before the story truly grabs me.  The beginning is certainly interesting, so this year I plan on finally finishing it!

3. Stormdancer (The Lotus War, #1)

This one I haven’t actually owned very long, but I’ve wanted to read it for awhile now.  Who wouldn’t like a story that’s steampunk Japan?

2. Fangirl

This book feels like it was written specifically for me, so I know I’ll like it once I read it.

  1. Mirror Sight (Green Rider, #5)

The one author I will wait forever for as each book is written with such detail and intricacy that rereads are mandatory and appreciated.  And with Firebrand in the editing stage, I want to be ready.

 

Waiting for Wednesday-The Siren by Kiera Cass

The Siren

The Siren by Kiera Cass is technically a reprint; however, Kiera worked with her editor to make several changes from her original self-published manuscript, which is why I’m counting it as a new release in 2016 for my reading challenge.

Expected release: January 26, 2016

As a stand-alone, unrelated to her best-selling Selection series, The Siren is a paranormal romance that examines a variety of love types through the story of a slightly magical girl and an ordinary boy, who fall in love and have to overcome the call of the siren to be together.

Here is a different approach to the siren mythology as there are no mermaids, just young women in service to the Ocean.  They’ve been given a second chance at life, but the price is crashing ships by using their voices and song to feed the ocean for 100 years.   The main character, Kahlen, is the Ocean’s favorite and has already served Her for 80 years.  Kahlen prefers to keep to herself and hates that they must sing people to their deaths, which frustrates two of her sisters, who enjoy clubbing and interacting with humans.

The real conflict occurs when Kahlen spends time with a boy she meets in the university library named Akinli, who doesn’t mind that she can’t speak and looks past her unworldly attractive exterior.  And while it’s not quite insta-love, there also wasn’t much explanation of why he was drawn to her.  I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say that when they spend time together, they are an adorable couple, but the ending was a little bit overdone in relation to their relationship.

But that was not the only kind of love shown throughout the narrative.  Kahlen’s familial love between her sisters was refreshing as they tried to work things out together even though they come from very different backgrounds and time periods.  The other type of love portrayed is harder to describe as it’s the love the Ocean has for her sirens.  As an immortal being, the Ocean is not in the habit of thinking in the same vein as humans, so Her love sometimes invokes fear or hate instead of coming across as a mother’s love.

I was disappointed that we didn’t learn more about the Ocean and Her role in the world.  That bit of world building would have made some of the choices more viable or believable.  I also didn’t feel like these girls were from another time period.  They all read like slightly more mature teenagers instead of women who had lived through many decades but who only looked like young adults.

Overall, I felt like this was a lovely afternoon read for someone who just wants a love story with a hint of magic.  I would recommend this book for fans of Kiera Cass or paranormal romance.  Anyone who wants a deep story should look elsewhere; here there is only adorable, relaxing fluff. 🙂

Summary from Amazon:

From Kiera Cass, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Selection series, comes a captivating stand-alone fantasy romance.

Kahlen is a Siren, bound to serve the Ocean by luring humans to watery graves with her voice, which is deadly to any human who hears it. Akinli is human—a kind, handsome boy who’s everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. Falling in love puts them both in danger . . . but Kahlen can’t bear to stay away. Will she risk everything to follow her heart?

The Siren was previously self-published; this brand-new edition has been completely rewritten and redesigned.

Review based on advanced uncorrected proof.