Waiting on Wednesday: The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King

The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King

Paperback, 300 pages
Expected publication: June 1st 2017 by Skyscape
Such a compelling read that I had to finish it in a day. I couldn’t get myself to put it down for very long!  It was also refreshing to visit a different culture than that of European origin or inspiration.  I love fantasy books that use knights and dragons and lush forests, but it’s also fun to visit the desert.  Drawing on Sumerian mythology and desert nation cultures, King did a great job of blending magic and intrigue into a maturation and finding-self tale.

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Throwback Thursday: The Saga of Rex by Michel Gagne

The Saga of Rex

Paperback, 200 pages
Published November 2nd 2010 by Image Comics
Considering this is a mostly wordless graphic novel that originally featured in the Flight anthology series, The Saga of Rex is absolutely adorable and tells a fun but traumatic story of a little fox on an epic journey through space.  The artwork is quite amazing and I was hooked from the title page art, which shows the little fox bent down and nose-to-nose with a little, orange fish-bug.  The whole story conveys deep emotions from all over the spectrum and constructs a heartwarming tale of love and adventure.  There isn’t much else I can say, except read it and share it (careful with the really young readers though).  And then go watch the short video on YouTube that the author created!

Summary:

A little fox named Rex is plucked from his home world by a mysterious spaceship and transported to the arcane world of Edernia, where he meets Aven, an enigmatic biomorph with a flying saucer. Follow his epic journey as he travels through outer-worldly landscapes, faces strange perils, and makes surprising encounters.

Book Review: You Can’t Win Them All, Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

You Can't Win Them All, Rainbow Fish

Hardcover, 32 pages
Expected publication: June 6th 2017 by NorthSouth Books

 

I love that Rainbow Fish is still teaching children important life lessons and etiquette! I remember the original story being a favorite when I was a child, and I’m so excited that I can share this book with a new generation. I had forgotten about this little fish for a while, but there are so many new stories that I want to read and share with all the children in my personal and professional life.  I highly recommend this series.  Especially since almost all the books include iridescent scales throughout!  So pretty 🙂

Review copy provided by publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, which did not affect from opinion or review.

Summary:

A brand new title in the bestselling Rainbow Fish series!

Everyone loses once in a while. But being a good sport when you lose isn’t always easy—not even for Rainbow Fish. A lighthearted look at accepting loss without losing your sparkle!

The Rainbow FishRainbow Fish Discovers the Deep Sea (Rainbow Fish (North-South Books))Rainbow Fish: The Dangerous Deep

Book Review: Keeper of the Dawn by Dianna Gunn

Keeper of the Dawn

Paperback, 205 pages
Expected publication: April 18th 2017 by Book Smugglers Publishing

Two days ago, I saw a tweet from the Book Smugglers about the release of their first title in the Novella Initiate, Keeper of the Dawn by Dianna Gunn.  They sent me an epub to read (which in no way affects the honesty of this review), and I found myself wanting to devour it without stop once I got started.  Unfortunately, that was late at night after a long day, so my eyes kept closing and I had to stop about 2/3 in.  But I picked it up again this morning!

This was a fantastic, short read!  It was almost perfect; I just wanted more world building.  But that’s a problem I have with any short fiction pieces.  I always find myself wanting more.

What I did get was great characters and a plot that spoke to me on a deeper level.  It was something I needed right now when my life is mental turmoil.  The whole story is based on being able to achieve your dreams and goals, but you may not make it there the way you thought you would.  It was very uplifting to read a story where the protagonist just follows down the path that was chosen for them because of a prophecy or fate.  Lai knows what she wants, her path is littered with affirmations that she’ll get it, but then she fails and has to readjust.

Along the way, she discovers more about herself and the world she lives in.  We also get a beautifully told female/female relationship that doesn’t feel forced, nor is it just there.  It provides support and stability for Lai when the rest of her life is in turmoil.

Since this is a novella, I don’t want to give away too much, so I’ll stop here.  But know that I loved this piece, and can’t wait to see what else the Novella Initiate has to offer us.

Summary:

Sometimes failure is just the beginning

All Lai has ever wanted is to become a priestess, like her mother and grandmother before her, in service to their beloved goddess. That’s before the unthinkable happens, and Lai fails the trials she has trained for her entire life. She makes the only choice she believes she can: she runs away.

From her isolated desert homeland, Lai rides north to the colder, stranger kingdom of Alanum—a land where magic, and female warriors, are not commonplace.

Here, she hears tales about a mountain city of women guardians and steel forgers, worshiping goddesses who sound very similar to Lai’s own. Determined to learn more about these women, these Keepers of the Dawn, Lai travels onward to find their temple. She is determined to make up for her past failure, and will do whatever it takes to join their sacred order.

Falling in love with another initiate was not part of the plan.

Keeper of the Dawn is a tale of new beginnings, second chances, and the endurance of hope.

Book Review: Frostblood by Elly Blake

Frostblood (Frostblood Saga, #1)

Hardcover, 376 pages

Published January 10th 2017 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
I’m happy to share that I finally had the opportunity to read this gripping fantasy.  There were parts that reminded me of Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, but Elly Blake was able to give us a wonderful story that unfolded into something that, while maybe not the most original, was definitely a fun read.

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Waiting on Wednesday: Dream Magic by Joshua Khan

Dream Magic (Shadow Magic, #2)

DREAM MAGIC, A SHADOW MAGIC NOVEL

by Joshua Khan

Disney-Hyperion | On Sale April 11, 2017

Hardcover ISBN: 9781484737620 | $16.99 | $17.99 Can. | 352 pages | Ages 8-12

Ebook ISBN: 9781368002462

Even though I loved Shadow Magic and was intrigued by this cover, my fear of spiders almost stopped me from reading this amazing story.  But I’m glad I chanced the nightmares, which I didn’t have thankfully, because this book was just as good as the first one.  The crystalline spiders were indeed quite creepy, but they totally fit with the story and I loved that they were so integral to the plot as they added a sense of urgency to the characters.  I liked them so much that I drew up some of my own to share 🙂

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#RETELLINGSRC2017 Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Uprooted

Hardcover, 435 pages
Published May 19th 2015 by Del Rey
Finally, I was able to make time to read this book!  I have heard so many good things, and it’s been sitting on my shelf since I heard about it at ALAMW15.  I’m so glad I had the “excuse” of choosing this title for the Retellings Reading Challenge 🙂
The story and characters were riveting, and I found myself unable to set it down for very long.  I especially loved that the Woods had their own personality, which lent to giving the whole story a thrilling and darker aspect.  This is a retelling/reinterpretation of the Beauty and the Beast story, and there are hints and throwbacks throughout the story to give you the sense of the original, but this story’s main feature is all its own.
As this is a standalone, you can expect to read a full story that wraps up almost all the loose strands by the final page.  Characters develop and grow throughout, and you get to see a good chunk of this fictional world as the story unravels.  In a book world that features series quite heavily (and I adore that and seek them out), it was nice to have a contained story that didn’t rely on additional materials.
There were a few things that I found disappointing like the distinct lack of actual dragons, and the ending didn’t seem to have enough explanation throughout the first part of the book.  It needed a bit more development and lore to seem more believable.  But overall, this is a very solid example of an author taking a familiar story and putting their own twist on it, successfully.

Summary:

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Blog Tour Review: Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull

dw-blog-tour-image

Hardcover, 384 pages
Expected publication: March 14th 2017 (TODAY!) by Shadow Mountain
One of my absolute favorite series when I was younger was Fablehaven by Brandon Mull.  I started reading it when it was first published and found myself recommending it to everyone because “people of all ages will like it just like Harry Potter!”  Yep, I thought this series could span the generations, and I proved that by enjoying re-reads every few years.

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Waiting on Wednesday: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)

Hardcover, 544 pages
Expected publication: March 28th 2017 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
 After waiting
and waiting
and waiting
and waiting,
and then some more waiting in desperation,
I can finally say that I’ve read this book!

And it was awesomely amazing!

When Laini Taylor spoke at the SLJ Day of Dialog in May of 2016, she spoke about our myth-hole.  The part of your soul that craves mythology and storytelling.  Well, Strange the Dreamer made me realize just how empty my myth-hole has been the last couple of months.  Part of that has been stress from work, but another part of that has been the books I’ve chosen to read.  There were some stand-outs (i.e. A Shadow Bright and Burning), but I had been reading to finish lists and challenges, so it felt like “required” reading.

Well, no more!  Laini’s beautiful wordsmithing has reawakened my awareness of my myth-hole’s requirements, and I’ll be paying closer attention to what I want to read while still working in books that I’ve promised to read (either to NetGalley or authors).  I did make a point to only request things that I was really excited about instead of titles that just looked kind of interesting, so that shouldn’t be much of a problem anyway.

I really don’t want to spoil anything about this book, so I’ll just leave a few quick statements about the actual book and leave it to you to read the story 🙂  I can’t wait for the sequel to come out though.  I hope we don’t have to wait too long!

The characters had a lot of depth and interpersonal reactions that felt solid and true in a fantastical setting.

The setting was beautifully described with vivid imagery without taking any of the focus away from the story or characters.

The ending was complete but also a cliffhanger.  It was the kind of wrap-up that leaves you wanting more but not with the anger of a crazed person.

Summary:

Strange the Dreamer is the story of:

the aftermath of a war between gods and men
a mysterious city stripped of its name
a mythic hero with blood on his hands
a young librarian with a singular dream
a girl every bit as perilous as she is imperiled
alchemy and blood candy, nightmares and godspawn, moths and monsters, friendship and treachery, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.