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)

*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