Saturday Spotlight: The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees

TWKTitle: The Waking Forest

Author: Alyssa Wees

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: March 12, 2019

Page Count: 304 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Summary:

Pan’s Labyrinth meets The Hazel Wood in this novel about a girl with terrifying visions and a wish-granting witch whose lives collide in the most unexpected of ways.

The waking forest has secrets. To Rhea, it appears like a mirage, dark and dense, at the very edge of her backyard. But when she reaches out to touch it, the forest vanishes. She’s desperate to know more–until she finds a peculiar boy who offers to reveal its secrets. If she plays a game.

To the Witch, the forest is her home, where she sits on her throne of carved bone, waiting for dreaming children to beg her to grant their wishes. One night, a mysterious visitor arrives and asks her what she wishes for, but the Witch sends him away. And then the uninvited guest returns.

The strangers are just the beginning. Something is stirring in the forest, and when Rhea’s and the Witch’s paths collide, a truth more treacherous and deadly than either could ever imagine surfaces. But how much are they willing to risk to survive?

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Purchase Links

Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Book Depository     Indie Bound

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Preorder Giveaway

Alyssa has an awesome preorder giveaway going on, so check it out here!

If you have already preordered, fill out this handy-dandy form here!

Everyone who preorders will be entered to win the grand prize!

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 About the Author

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In between training in ballet and watching lots of Disney movies, Alyssa grew up writing stories starring her Beanie Babies. She earned a BA in English from Creighton University and an MFA in Fiction Writing from Columbia College Chicago. Currently she works as an assistant librarian in youth services at an awesome public library. She lives in the Chicagoland area with her husband and their two cats. (Bio and photo provided from Goodreads)

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Saturday Spotlight: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

fdqTitle: Four Dead Queens

Author: Astrid Scholte

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Release Date: February 26, 2019

Page Count: 432 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Read My ARC Review

Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but she’s, in fact, one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. He runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie both find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.

With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens.

An enthralling fast-paced murder mystery where competing agendas collide with deadly consequences, Four Dead Queensheralds the arrival of an exciting new YA talent.

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Purchase Links

Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Book Depository     Indie Bound

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Preorder Giveaway

Astrid has two awesome preorder giveaways going on, so check them out here!

If you have already preordered, fill out this handy-dandy form here!

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 About the Author

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Raised on a diet of Spielberg, Lucas and Disney, Astrid knew she wanted to be surrounded by all things fantastical from a young age. She’s spent the last 10 years working in film, animation and television as both an artist and manager. Career highlights include working on James Cameron’s Avatar, Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tin Tin andHappy Feet 2 by George Miller. She’s a visual writer and aims to capture the vivid stories that play like movies in her head. When she’s not writing, she’s painting her favorite fictional characters and obliging her furry overlords, Lilo and Mickey.

FOUR DEAD QUEENS (Putnam, 26th of February 2019 and Allen & Unwin, 4th of March) is her debut novel. (Bio from author site)

Saturday Spotlight: White Stag by Kara Barbieri

whitestagTitle: White Stag

Author: Kara Barbieri

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Release Date: January 8, 2019

Page Count: 368 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

My Review

Summary:

The first book in a brutally stunning series where a young girl finds herself becoming more monster than human and must uncover dangerous truths about who she is and the place that has become her home.

As the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke—as the only survivor—was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren.

Janneke’s survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King’s death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows him that a little humanity isn’t bad—especially when it comes to those you care about.

Through every battle they survive, Janneke’s loyalty to Soren deepens. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling.

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Pre-order Links

Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Book Depository     Indie Bound


 About the Author

kara

Kara Barbieri is a writer living in the tiny town of Hayward, Wisconsin. An avid fantasy fan, she began writing White Stag at eighteen and posting it to Wattpad soon after under the name of ‘Pandean’. When she’s not writing, you can find her marathoning Buffy the Vampire Slayer, reviving gothic fashion, and jamming to synthpop.

*ARC Review* White Stag – Kara Barbieri

whitestagTitle: White Stag

Author: Kara Barbieri

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Release Date: January 8, 2019

Page Count: 368 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary:

The first book in a brutally stunning series where a young girl finds herself becoming more monster than human and must uncover dangerous truths about who she is and the place that has become her home.

As the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke—as the only survivor—was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren.

Janneke’s survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King’s death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows him that a little humanity isn’t bad—especially when it comes to those you care about.

Through every battle they survive, Janneke’s loyalty to Soren deepens. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling.

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My Review

Trigger warnings: White Stag contains some content that may be uncomfortable for some readers, including mention/discussion of rape and self harm, violence, death, and animal harm.

“Here, as the only mortal in a hall of monsters, I was very glad that I was not most humans.”

This dark and richly lush novel surprised me. I was expecting a book with a main character that still lived in the past and struggled with the circumstances of her present life. That was somewhat the case, but for the most part, I was way off, and that’s a good thing because the main character is so much better than what I was expecting.

White Stag demonstrates that it’s okay to present a fantasy world that’s crawling with foreseen and unforeseen dangers. It’s okay to have a main character that has been through many hardships and lives a life she never would have expected for herself. And it’s wildly okay to write a book with a dark atmosphere.

“The heartbeat of the Permafrost was like thunder underneath my feet, and the prey lines were clear as the morning sun.”

I haven’t read a dark fantasy in a long time. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever read a fantasy with this many dark elements. It’s a good thing, since most YA fantasy books have dark elements, but none as dark as the ones in White Stag. The world Janneke lives in is harsh and dangerous and cruel, a world humans would run from if some, like Janneke, were not forced into staying. Goblins rule the Permafrost and humans are merely considered servants to most. They fight, they kill one another without a simple care for who they are. It’s as if everything is a game to them, and everyone is merely a pawn in the Permafrost.

The idea of hunting the white stag was unique. I enjoyed how having the power of the white stag proved who was the next Goblin King. But the hunt itself is deadly to many and one hundred percent unkind to all. Janneke doesn’t know what really to expect in the hunt, except that many goblins will perish and one will come out the victor. But she was never expecting to find herself in the hunt and come out being the person she was meant to become.

I loved the dynamic between Janneke and Soren. Janneke is slow to trust Soren, as Soren is considered her “master.” But unlike the other goblins, unlike Lydian, Soren doesn’t want Janneke to be a servant, to treat him like a master. He wants Janneke to see him as a friend, or potentially something more. But like most relationships, theirs starts out rough. Janneke originally belonged to Lydian before she landed in Soren’s possession, so Janneke believes that all goblins are monsters. But over the years, Janneke realizes Soren is nothing like the other Goblins, and that Soren wants her as a confidant and someone to trust. And, slowly, that’s how their relationship begins to change.

“The future is frightening, I know. The choice is the hardest of all. But it is a choice — who rules and who lives and who dies, who hunts and who mends and who heals. It is your power to choose.”

Janneke’s inner demons and her disturbing past are constant factors in the story. Lydian stole her from the human world after killing everything she held dear and from there, he only made her life worse. Lydian did what he could to rip her apart and break her spirit. And even though she lived after her captivity, she has scars branded on her body and nightmares that haunt her day and night. She faces her demons daily and, though she is a strong soul, she can’t escape everything. And then there’s her fear of becoming something she never wanted to become: a monster. But she soon realizes that monsters come in many forms.

Overall, I enjoyed this darkly atmospheric book and I look forward to reading the sequel.

White Stag releases January 8, 2019!

Thank you to the publishing company for sending an advanced e-copy for me to read and write an honest review! All quotes are from the advanced e-copy and may not appear in the final print copy.

nikole

*ARC Review* Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

34213319Title: Four Dead Queens

Author: Astrid Scholte

Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons

Release Date: February 26, 2019

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mystery

Summary:

A divided nation. Four Queens. A ruthless pickpocket. A noble messenger. And the murders that unite them.

Get in quick, get out quicker.

These are the words Keralie Corrington lives by as the preeminent dipper in the Concord, the central area uniting the four quadrants of Quadara. She steals under the guidance of her mentor Mackiel, who runs a black market selling their bounty to buyers desperate for what they can’t get in their own quarter. For in the nation of Quadara, each quarter is strictly divided from the other. Four queens rule together, one from each region:

Toria: the intellectual quarter that values education and ambition

Ludia: the pleasure quarter that values celebration, passion, and entertainment

Archia: the agricultural quarter that values simplicity and nature

Eonia: the futurist quarter that values technology, stoicism and harmonious community

When Keralie intercepts a comm disk coming from the House of Concord, what seems like a standard job goes horribly wrong. Upon watching the comm disks, Keralie sees all four queens murdered in four brutal ways. Hoping that discovering the intended recipient will reveal the culprit – information that is bound to be valuable bartering material with the palace – Keralie teams up with Varin Bollt, the Eonist messenger she stole from, to complete Varin’s original job and see where it takes them.


“As the chips dissolved on my tongue, the embedded video links traveled to my brain….I was no longer in Mackiel’s office. I was in the palace. And I was covered in blood.”

*I received an uncorrected copy of Four Dead Queens. All quotes in this review are based on the uncorrected proof and may not be in the final book.*

Four Dead Queens has easily become one of my all-time favorite debut novels. I was not expecting to be completely immersed into this story from the first line, nor was I anticipating to have this captivating story stuck in my head weeks after I read the last line. Astrid Scholte’s book is truly a masterpiece.

I first heard about this book from a friend that went to BookCon in June. All I remember hearing was the title and I was immediately hooked (how can you not be hooked by that title?). I fell in love with the cover and the synopsis, so of course, I had to find a way to get my greedy hands on a copy, and I am very thankful I was able to get a copy. Once Four Dead Queens was announced at BookCon, people could not stop talking about the book. The hype from the book community was incredible, so I knew this book would be something special. And it is. Four Dead Queens is worth all the hype and more.

In Astrid Scholte’s author bio, she mentions how she’s a visual writer and works to capture the stories in her head that play like movies. Four Dead Queens had to be one of those vivid stories. The book played out like a movie in my head and it flowed so well on paper. Most books I can visualize in my head, but not all books have the ability to make me feel like I’m front and center in a movie. This book felt like a movie; it felt like I was watching the scenes play out right in front of me. Each chapter was a scene that produced some type of emotion from me; there were times where I thought about my love for Lord of the Rings while reading this book. And that’s because Lord of the Rings made me feel every emotion, just like this book.

Astrid Scholte’s world building helps to bring this book alive. The world building is phenomenal, especially for this being a standalone. The book takes place in a land called Quadara. From there, Quadara is separated into four distinct quadrants. Each Queen is from one of those quadrants. Four Dead Queens has world building that is not overwhelming or filled with descriptive information, but rather it touches on the surface of the world, which to me, is perfect for this standalone. The reader is aware of the world and the difference between the quadrants, and that’s really all they need to know.  If this were a fantasy trilogy, then the world building would be slightly different, but the world building for this book is just right. There was never too much information nor too little. There was always a clear picture of this world and the characters in my head.

“I was used to putting myself above everyone else. Stealing what I wanted, doing what came naturally. Looking for quick and easy wealth. Thinking that my wants and desires were more important than everyone else’s. But now I had the opportunity to be someone different. Someone worth my parents’ love. The girl they’d raised me to be.”

I thoroughly enjoyed all the points of views, which consisted of Keralie and the Queens. They were all so uniquely different from one another, so it made it quite easy to determine which point of view I was reading from (yes, the name at the top of each chapter helped, but trust me when I say you would have been able to determine each character from their distinct voice). Just like in movies, you rarely follow one person’s story, but many, and they all connect by the end of the movie. Four Dead Queens is exactly like that, which is, in my opinion, not an easy feat. But Astrid Scholte did it wonderfully and so intricately well.

I took every available chance to devour this book. I wish I could have in one sitting, but my days are, unfortunately, always busy. But this book produced so many facial expressions from me, from surprise, to laughter, to sadness. I feel as if there was not an emotion I did not feel while reading Four Dead Queens.

I have easily become one of Astrid Scholte’s fans, and I cannot wait to read her next work. She is incredibly talented and knows how to capture the reader’s attention.

Four Dead Queens comes out February 26, 2019. If you are a fantasy genre lover, then I highly recommend not missing out on this fantastic read! And if you are not, I still recommend this beauty, as the fantasy is not the main part of this book!

My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

♥Nikole

 

By A Charm and a Curse: An Interview with Jaime Questell

Good morning, awesome book lovers and book nerds! I hope everyone is having a wonderful week. I certainly am, and I am super excited to be hosting a wonderful author on our blog today!

I had the lucky opportunity to read an early copy of By a Charm and a Curse by Jaime Questell. It was a beautiful book about magic and love and what it takes to end a curse that protects those affected by it. I found Jaime’s debut novel to be refreshing and unique. This is definitely a book you are not going to want to miss, especially if you love carnivals and dark magic.


Here is the summary of By a Charm and a Curse, provided by Goodreads:

CharmLe Grand’s Carnival Fantastic isn’t like other traveling circuses. It’s bound by a charm, held together by a centuries-old curse, that protects its members from ever growing older or getting hurt. Emmaline King is drawn to the circus like a moth to a flame…and unwittingly recruited into its folds by a mysterious teen boy whose kiss is as cold as ice.

Forced to travel through Texas as the new Girl in the Box, Emmaline is completely trapped. Breaking the curse seems like her only chance at freedom, but with no curse, there’s no charm, either—dooming everyone who calls the Carnival Fantastic home. Including the boy she’s afraid she’s falling for. 

Everything—including his life—could end with just one kiss.

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Now doesn’t this book just sound AMAZING?! I definitely found it to be!

JaimeBut, anyway, on with the show (see what I did there)! Besides getting an early review copy of By a Charm and a Curse, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview the author of the novel, Jaime Questell. She was an absolute blast to get to know and I am very thankful to her, as well as her publicist, for letting me host her on the blog! And I find that this post is even more special because this is also my first ever interview hosted on the blog! I am super stoked for you all to get to know Jaime!

It’s time to draw the curtains aside and let the show begin!


  1. Have you always wanted to be an author? If not, what was your first dream job?

I always wanted to be a graphic designer, which is what I do now! I love it, it’s like solving puzzles with colors and shapes and text. Although, when I was younger, I was convinced I’d be a fashion designer.

  1. What was the hardest part of getting published for you?

Learning to not compare my process/reviews/expectations to my peers. It’s so hard to remember that everyone goes through struggles in the publishing industry, and just because they don’t talk about it, doesn’t mean they don’t have their own frustrations.

  1. What was your favorite part of the publishing process?

I won’t lie – I love getting ARCs. And getting to know my fellow debuts has been pretty awesome, too.

  1. Where did the inspiration come from for By a Charm and a Curse?

I had been listening to the Dresden Dolls song Coin-Operated Boy and had an image of a girl falling from a great height. That got me thinking, where did she fall from? And did she survive? What happened next? That turned into a short story, which my crit partners demanded I expand. That turned into CHARM!

  1. The curse in By a Charm and a Curse is unlike anything I’ve read! How did the idea for the curse come about?

It kind of emerged as a very warped version of the curse from Beauty and the Beast. But instead of cursing the other carnival employees and performers, I wanted to see what would happen if they benefited from the curse. How quickly would that warp them, and what would they do to keep the status quo?

(Side note: if you would like to read more about the curse, check out this post on Entangled Teen).

  1. Did you have By a Charm and a Curse mapped out before you started writing?

For the most part, I’m a huge plotter, but CHARM was just one of those things and it felt like my fingers knew what was happening almost before my brain did. It is the easiest thing I have ever written, and I hope something comes along to take that title from it!

  1. There is an array of characters in By a Charm and a Curse. Were any of those characters based on people you know?

Some have touches of people I know, and some are based on characters I like. Leslie and Lars are riffs on Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson. Gin and Whiskey have a touch of my own daughters in them. And Juliet loves food as much as I do.

  1. Who was your favorite character to write?

Whiskey has the best lines and was so much fun to write. I can’t help it – I always have a Whiskey-esque character in everything I write.

  1. Was there any specific chapter/scene you enjoyed writing the most?

I loved the scene in the gas station. It was so interesting to try to figure out what these characters, whose lives are so different from anything I’ve known, would do for fun. A gas station food fight felt very appropriate.

  1. What was it like writing in two different character perspectives?

In some ways it was harder, making sure their voices were different enough that a reader could know what chapter they were in without referencing the chapter pages, but in some ways it felt like a cheat! With two POVs, I could tell the reader things I needed them to know but that the character wouldn’t know, and it made things so much easier!

  1. If you were part of a charmed carnival, what act would you perform?

I really want to say that I’d do something graceful where I could wear a sparkly costume, like the lyra hoop, but I’m so uncoordinated. I’d probably be better off slinging cotton candy or corn dogs. 😀

  1. Were there any songs you had to listen to while writing?

Yes! Music is so helpful to me when writing. When I wrote Emma, I’d listen to this band Kitten, and when I wrote Ben, I’d listen to the Rubens. When I wanted to get the feel of the carnival, I’d listen to that Dresden Dolls song or a cover of Rock and Roll by Rasputina.

  1. As a Harry Potter fan, I have to ask: what is your Hogwarts’s House? 😊

Gryffindor! Though I think I have a touch of Slytherin, to be honest.

  1. If you could have your book turned into anything (movie, Broadway musical, dance number, etc.), what would it be?

I’d want CHARM to be one really well done season of TV. I feel like there’s more than could be fit into a movie, but not enough for multiple seasons. Though I wouldn’t say no to a movie!

  1. Any advise to writers and aspiring authors?

Self-care is so important. Whether that means taking breaks while drafting, reading to refuel your creative well, knowing when to take a step away from social media…because you can’t write when you feel like crap.

  1. Were there any books/authors that had inspiration on your work?

Too many! As I mentioned, I love Holly Black. I’m also inspired by Leigh Bardugo, Laini Taylor, Maggie Stievfater, Kelley Armstrong, Stephanie Garber, Lisa Maxwell, Zoraida Cordova…I could go on all day.

  1. What book(s) are you currently reading?

Umm, also too many! You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon; Nothing Left to Burn by Heather Ezell; and Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner. I’m also really exited to read The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert; Everless by SaraH Holland; Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke; and American Panda by Gloria Chao.


Thank you so much, Jaime, for stopping by and I had a great time getting the chance to interview you! Thank you to Entangled Teen and Jaime’s publicist for making this possible! It was an absolutely pleasure hosting you on the blog!

By a Charm and a Curse hits shelves February 6, 2018, so don’t forget to mark your calendar! If you love magic with a mix of romance, I’d definitely add By a Charm and a Curse to your Books-to-Buy list!

That’s all for today, everyone! Thank you again to the wonderful people at Entangled Teen!

♥Nikole