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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*Blog Tour + Q&A + Giveaway* Dark of the West – Joanna Hathaway

book coverBook Title: Dark of the West (Glass Alliance #1)

Author: Joanna Hathaway

Publisher: Tor Teen

Release Date: February 5th 2019

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Synopsis:

He was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner’s Cursein Joanna Hathaway’s Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.

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BOOK LINKS

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32949202-dark-of-the-west

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2EkaLsY

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dark-of-the-west-joanna-hathaway/1127026418?ean=9780765396419#/

Bookdepository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Dark-West-Joanna-Hathaway/9780765396419?ref=grid-view&qid=1544720532762&sr=1-1

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dark-of-the-west/id1279815748?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/dark-of-the-west

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AUTHOR INFORMATION

authorJoanna was born in Montréal and is an avid storyteller who was inspired to write after reading her great-grandfather’s memoirs of the First World War. A lifelong history buff, she now has shelves filled with biographies and historical accounts, and perhaps one too many books about pilots. She can often be found reading, traveling, or riding horses.

Her debut novel, DARK OF THE WEST (Tor Teen, February 5th, 2019), is the first in a WWII-infused fantasy series of forbidden love and deadly revenge.

You can find Joanna on the following sites:

Website | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest

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Q&A WITH JOANNA HATHAWAY

Thank you, Joanna, for stopping by on the blog! It was wonderful chatting with you!

  1. Your debut novel, DARK OF THE WEST, comes out next year! Congrats! What inspired you to write this story?

Thank you so much! Honestly, the biggest inspiration for me was history. As a teen, all I read were memoirs and biographies and historical accounts from as many different perspectives as I could get my hands on. I wanted to read the real stories of real people around the world—people who had faced these incredible (and often horrific) events with such courage. It always made me wonder what I would do in the same situation. What choices would I make? But I also wanted to write a book that wasn’t bound to the rules of our own history, so I began building this fantasy world that felt like our own yet was distinctly unique. I wanted to make an exploration of the timeless themes of our history, but see it through the eyes of two youthful and idealistic narrators who still believe in the best. Thus, Dark of the West was born!

  1. What was it like to write two point of views? Was one easier to write than the other?

I originally started with only one POV (Aurelia), but then I did a test scene from the perspective of Athan and discovered he had a whole family demanding to be shared! And once I started weaving his story with Aurelia’s, I realized how well they complemented one another, illuminating the larger story. It worked out perfectly. I don’t think either POV is “easier” than the other, but often when I get tired of writing one, I can just switch to the other and feel immediately rejuvenated — handy for those deadlines!

  1. Are you more of a plotter or did you let the story come to you naturally, without a ton of plotting?

This particular story has been with me since I was in university, so it’s definitely come about more gradually and naturally, left to simmer for years. While I didn’t specifically sit down and create an outline for it, I have had the series in my mind for a long time, so I do plot out each book and each character arc to satisfy the overarching themes and events which I know are coming.

  1. If you had the chance to spend one day with Aurelia and Athan, what would you all do?

I think I’d want to visit Aurelia’s horses and Athan’s airplanes. And if I could ride one and fly another, that would be even better. I think they’d be on board with that!

  1. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Trust your heart and know that no one else can tell the story you wish to tell. It’s a reflection of you, which is quite sacred, and while you should always seek out critique and be unafraid to put in the sweat and work, never belittle the heart of what you’re trying to say. Always fight to get it out into the world. There’s room on the shelves for your unique story.

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TOUR SCHEDULE

See what other amazing blogs joined this wonderful blog tour!

https://fantasticflyingbookclub.blogspot.com/2018/12/tour-schedule-dark-of-west-glass.html

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GIVEAWAY

Prize: Win (1) of (10) physical copies of DARK OF THE WEST by Joanna Hathaway (US Only)

Giveaway Starts: February 5th, 2019

Giveaway Ends: February 18th, 2019

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Thank you, Fantastic Flying Book Club, so much for having A Court of Coffee and Books on the blog tour!

 

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

astrid

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: Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

cofTitle: Crown of Feathers

Author: Nicki Pau Preto

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: February 12, 2019

Page Count: 288 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Summary:

I had a sister, once…

In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders—legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire—until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart.

I promised her the throne would not come between us.

Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders—even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.

But it is a fact of life that one must kill or be killed. Rule or be ruled.

Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders’ return and intends to destroy them once and for all.

Sometimes the title of queen is given. Sometimes it must be taken.

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Purchase Links

Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Book Depository     Indie Bound


 About the Author

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Nicki Pau Preto is a YA fantasy author living just outside Toronto, Canada. After getting a degree in visual arts, a masters in art history, and a diploma in graphic design, Nicki discovered two things: she loves to escape the real world, and she isn’t interested in a regular 9-5 life. Luckily, her chosen career covers both.

Her YA fantasy debut CROWN OF FEATHERS is coming February 12th, 2019 from Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster. (Bio from author site)

The Page 69 Test: Firstlife by Gena Showalter

Happy last Saturday of 2018! Can you believe that 2018 is almost over? I still have so much left to do for blogging (my top ten of 2018, under-hyped books of 2018, etc.), though I probably won’t get to any until the new year. I also still have one more book to finish to beat my Goodreads goal by 10 books! So almost there!

The Page 69 Test    My co-bloggers and I have started a new weekly blog post: The Page 69 Test! Have you heard of the page 69 test? If not, it’s basically where you read page 69 of a book you think you will like. If you liked reading page 69, chances are you will enjoy reading the rest of the book.

Instead of posting the full page, we will be posting the first 10-20 lines of that page, starting with the first full sentence.

This week I decided to go with a book that’s been in my TBR pile for a very long time. I’m hoping to read Firstlife by Gena Showalter in 2019, but it all depends on what books I pull out of my TBR Jar. I’ve heard amazing things about this book!

Enjoy!

“…Or I’m simply malnourished and on edge, and my brain is overcompensating.

Yeah. That.

This close, I can almost count New Guy’s individual lashes. They are long, spiky and jet-black…and I’m staring at him, I realize.

‘That wasn’t a very nice thing to do,’ I say.

‘And knocking over my chair was?’ His voice is low and husky with a slight Irish lilt, and it’s almost as smoky as his scent. ‘Let’s do the introduction thing so my heartbeat will finally calm down. I’m Killian. And you are stunningly beautiful.’

Before he’s finished delivering the (clearly) practiced line, I’m already building walls. ‘I think you mean I’m attitudinal.’

‘Definitely not. But now I’m certain you’re irresistible.’

‘I think you mean unsuitable.’

‘Or adorable.’

Oh, crap. Are we flirting?”


firstlifeStep one…you die.

ONE CHOICE. TWO REALMS. NO SECOND CHANCE.

Tenley “Ten” Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she’ll live — after she dies. There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.

In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, long-time enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms that will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she’s drawn to isn’t where the boy she’s falling for lives? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…

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*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

*Review* Fire & Heist – Sarah Beth Durst

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Title: Fire & Heist

Author: Sarah Beth Durst

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers

Release Date: December 4, 2018

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

My Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars

Summary:

Fans of Cassandra Clare and Julie Kagawa will devour this contemporary fantasy about a teen were-dragon who must steal her first treasure. But a dark discovery during her heist could put her family in incredible danger.

In Sky Hawkins’s family, leading your first heist is a major milestone–even more so than learning to talk, walk, or do long division. It’s a chance to gain power and acceptance within your family, and within society. But stealing your first treasure can be complicated, especially when you’re a wyvern–a human capable of turning into a dragon.

Embarking on a life of crime is never easy, and Sky discovers secrets about her mother, who recently went missing, the real reason her boyfriend broke up with her, and a valuable jewel that could restore her family’s wealth and rank in their community.

With a handpicked crew by her side, Sky knows she has everything she needs to complete her first heist, and get her boyfriend and mother back in the process. But then she uncovers a dark truth about were-dragon society–a truth more valuable and dangerous than gold or jewels could ever be.

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My Review

“You know how sometimes in life, you can look back on a moment and know that this, this, this was the instant when everything changed? I felt, in that moment, as if I were outside myself, looking in, and knowing that from here on, everything would be different.”

Fire & Heist easily became one of those stories that surprised me. I went into this book not expecting much, but came out with a new found love and appreciation for Sarah Beth Durst. And most of that had to do with the main character and how she was depicted.

Sky Hawkins is the point of view for this story, and quite a lovable and relatable narrator. I’m no longer a teen, haven’t been for a few years, but even I could relate to Sky and the problems she was facing. She’s sixteen and has a lot on her shoulders, and I felt the same way at that age. Granted, her issues are slightly more…intense…but she’s still undeniably relatable. And she is easily one of those characters you love almost immediately. She’s got a spunk and a positive attitude that drove the story forward. It was refreshing to see a main character like Sky.

“It’s not arrogant to know who you are. It’s powerful. And I am powerful.”

I know that some people are going to deem Sky’s voice as immature and childish, when really, her voice is perfect for her age. I’ve never been more surprised by a voice than I have with Sky’s. And I loved that. I loved reading a book where the voice of the main character sounded exactly like her age. It was a nice breath of fresh air.

I also enjoyed the fantasy in Fire & Heist. I mean, were-dragons, fantastical heists, and all this happening in this day and age? Count me in! I’m a huge fantasy genre reader, and in that genre, this book does not disappoint. Fire & Heist does not place a heavy focus on fantasy, but more on what it’s like to be a teen were-dragon and plan your own heist. There are a few chapters that focus heavily on the fantasy part, but I enjoyed how Sarah Beth Durst connected it all in this world. And what I also liked about this book is how the romance is not the main focus of this story, but is placed more on the back burner.

Another aspect I loved about Fire & Heist is how important family is to Sky. She plans this heist to protect her family and find out what happened to her mom. And best of all, she comes to terms that family is not just your bloodline, but also those friends closest to you. Family plays such a big role in this book, and I loved that.

I believe Fire & Heist is a perfect book for teens, especially those looking for a relatable character in the YA Fantasy genre. Readers will easily feel a connection to Sky and her friends and find that not all YA fantasy books need a main character that puts the weight of the world on his/her shoulders. Sky has the help of her friends, and best of all, she doesn’t believe she needs to do everything on her own. So, I hope you all will take a chance on Sky and her wonderful depiction of her world and her heist!

Fire & Heist by Sarah Beth Durst is available now!

nikole