*Saturday Spotlight* Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

DOTCTitle: Descendant of the Crane

Author: Joan He

Publisher: Albert Whitman Company

Release Date: April 9, 2019

Page Count: 416 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Summary:

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, dreaming of an unremarkable life. But when her beloved father is found dead, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of a surprisingly unstable kingdom. What’s more, Hesina believes that her father was murdered—and that the killer is someone close to her.

Hesina’s court is packed full of dissemblers and deceivers eager to use the king’s death for political gain, each as plausibly guilty as the next. Her advisers would like her to blame the neighboring kingdom of Kendi’a, whose ruler has been mustering for war. Determined to find her father’s actual killer, Hesina does something desperate: she enlists the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by
death, since magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of Yan at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?

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Purchase Links

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Book Depository  |  Indie Bound

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Preorder Giveaway

Joan has an awesome preorder giveaway going on, so check it out here! Open internationally!

Everyone who preorders Descendant of the Crane will receive a set of 5 character cards! Please note: the bookmark in the photo below is no longer part of the preorder campaign.

Does this preorder giveaway accept library requests? Yes! Library request submitters will receive 4 out of 5 character cards.

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 About the Author

JoanJoan was born and raised in Philadelphia but still will, on occasion, lose her way. At a young age, she received classical instruction in oil painting before discovering that stories were her favorite kind of art. She studied psychology and Chinese history at the University of Pennsylvania and currently writes from a desk overlooking the city
waterfront. Descendant of the Crane is her young adult debut. (Bio and photo provided from Goodreads)

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*ARC Review* Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith

Bloodleaf_CSTitle: Bloodleaf

Author: Crystal Smith

Release Date: March 12th, 2019

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Page Count: 384 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary:

Perfect for fans of RED QUEEN and UPROOTED, Crystal Smith’s debut novel, BLOODLEAF, is an imaginative retelling of the Grimm Fairy tale “The Goose Girl” that takes a ghostly mystery and sets it inside an epic fantasy world.

Aurelia is the first princess born to the Renalten crown in two hundred years, destined to fulfill a treaty by journeying to marry Valentin, the prince of Achelva – Renalt’s greatest enemy. Rumors of an unwell, cruel prince abound, and the only thing that eclipses Aurelia’s apprehension of her impending marriage is her fear of those who’d kill her to prevent it.

When an assassination attempt forces Aurelia to use forbidden magic to save a stranger, she is driven from Renalt by the witch-hunting Tribunal and a mob out for blood. But before she can claim asylum in the court of her betrothed, her travel party turns on her, forcing her to trade places with her treacherous lady-in-waiting, Lisette.

Now penniless in Achleva and bereft of her identity, Aurelia must decide if she wants to surrender to her new life or fight for her old one, all while navigating the complicated ties binding her to the enigmatic prince, the unquiet ghost of an ancient queen, and a poisonous plant called bloodleaf.

Aurelia is a pawn in a centuries-long game of love, power, and war— and if she can’t extricate herself from it before Lisette marries Valentin in her stead, she may face losses far more devastating than her crown.

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Preorder Links

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Book Depository  |   Indie Bound

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My Review

Thank you to the author for sending me an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve read a ton of Young Adult fantasy. More than 90% of the books I own/read are in the fantasy genre. Which comes to mean that I see a lot of the same elements over and over again in fantasy books. It’s not a bad thing, not at all, but it’s also refreshing when I read a fantasy book with unique elements. Bloodleaf is one of those books. Bloodleaf has many unique fantasy elements that I absolutely loved.

This dark and luscious tale will have you hooked from the first page. Smith’s writing blew me away. It was breathtakingly beautiful and nevertheless bewitching. I was captivated by the words that flew off the pages and made the world feel so real.The world Smith has built is phenomenal and deadly and all the while enchanting. It’s a fantasy world I could easily picture myself living in. The world is illustrated in such beautiful prose. And just to be clear, this isn’t a fantasy world where happy endings come naturally. It’s a dark world filled with daunting dangers and betrayal. But the way Smith describes the world is what makes me love it so much; the descriptions are not too much or too little and they make it feel like the world is alive, which is always a plus for me in fantasy novels.

What I also loved about Bloodleaf was the magic system. The magic system in Bloodleaf is incredible. To enter the second kingdom, Renalt, you must have a stamped invitation with the king’s blood to enter, or else you risk the possibility of death. This experience that Aurelia has to go through is so well-captured that I felt like I was right there seeing her cross into the kingdom. Actually, that’s what it was like for the whole book. The story, the characters, the hardships, all felt real and that is something I look for in books. I want the worlds to feel real to me and this world and the characters did not disappoint.

Princess Aurelia is a wonderfully flawed, yet strong character. She doesn’t want to do the blood magic oath, where her and three people she loves bound themselves to her with blood, where in order for Aurelia to die, her three protectors will have to die first. She would rather die than risk the lives of those she loves. But then the blood oath is completed and Aurelia goes on a daunting journey, using the name of one of her maids, to escape the Tribunal after she uses her forbidden magic to save someone. She fights for her old life, for her destiny, and for her kingdom. She learns so much throughout her journey, and I can’t wait to see where her journey takes her in the second book.

And then there is Zan. Zan is a character I was easily swooning over. He’s intriguing yet mysterious and though he hides many secrets from Aurelia, he becomes someone she can’t live without. He’s charming even when he’s trying not to be. He overall fights for a good cause and wants to see the world change. And he sees Aurelia as being that person, with her magic and her will to change the outcome of her life.

Overall, Bloodleaf has easily become one of my all-time favorite fantasy novels. I loved the world, the character development (even the sad moments), and the uniqueness Smith brings to the fantasy genre. I’m one of the readers that is patiently (well, really, impatiently) waiting for the second book. If you are looking for a fantasy read that is gripping and intriguing with multiple fantasy elements, then Bloodleaf is a great book to read!

nikole

*ARC Review* To Best The Boys by Mary Weber

TBTB_CorrectTitle: To Best The Boys

Author: Mary Weber

Release Date: March 19th, 2019

Publisher: Thomas Nelson Books

Page Count: 352 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary:

Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port receive a mysterious letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University. Every year, the poorer residents look to see that their names are on the list. The wealthier look to see how likely their sons are to survive. And Rhen Tellur opens it to see if she can derive which substances the ink and parchment are created from, using her father’s microscope.

In the province of Caldon, where women are trained in wifely duties and men are encouraged into collegiate education, sixteen-year-old Rhen Tellur wants nothing more than to become a scientist. As the poor of her seaside town fall prey to a deadly disease, she and her father work desperately to find a cure. But when her Mum succumbs to it as well? Rhen decides to take the future into her own hands—through the annual all-male scholarship competition.

With her cousin, Seleni, by her side, the girls don disguises and enter Mr. Holm’s labyrinth, to best the boys and claim the scholarship prize. Except not everyone’s ready for a girl who doesn’t know her place. And not everyone survives the maze.

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Preorder Links

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Book Depository   |  Indie Bound

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My Review

The title alone is what first drew me to this book. Any book that sounds like it will have a strong female lead is a must read for me. And To Best the Boys did not disappoint.

The girl power in this book is phenomenal. You have the main character, Rhen, and her best friend/cousin, Seleni. Both have two very different personalities: Rhen is stubborn and speaks her mind and wants to go to school, whereas Seleni wants to be a housewife to the boy she loves. Both have different futures, but both girls are so loyal to one another, and I really enjoyed seeing that. In her village, Rhen is not like most girls. Her cousin’s family is considered an Upper, people will money and high class. Whereas Rhen and her parents are considered Lowers, people working to stay alive and to put food on the table. Seleni doesn’t let her status stop her from seeing Rhen, even though Rhen does manage to get them both into trouble often. But Seleni would do anything for Rhen, even enter the Labyrinth with Rhen to show the boys just what kind of power girls are capable of possessing.

Rhen is an exceptionally strong-minded girl in her village. She has the dream of being something more than what she currently is; she wants to change the world of science and school. She spends most of her time working in her father’s lab trying to find a cure to an unknown, fast-growing disease that is killing her mother. And when she brings this up to her Uncle’s friends—the people who can offer help—they brush the disease off as nothing, as it doesn’t seem to be affecting the Uppers. That answer, the way most Uppers react to the Lowers, is what drives Rhen to enter the Labyrinth. And though she struggles over the aspect of leaving her Mom and Da, she knows that the only way to fix this is to enter the maze and win.

The idea behind the Labyrinth is intriguing and I found myself asking the question: Would I enter the maze disguised as a boy to prove my worth and that the world needs to change? I think I would, even if the aspect of death is involved. That’s exactly what Rhen does; she wants to see the world change and she wants the Uppers, especially the University board, to understand why they need to address the disease spreading in the Lower. I do wish the Labyrinth was a bit more developed, but nevertheless, I enjoyed each part of the maze and seeing how Rhen and her friends navigated each part. The Labyrinth doesn’t just involve mathematical equations but also tests your qualities as a human being. The winner of the maze does not win solely off of knowledge but how they treat other people. The maze involves both knowledge and characteristics and, in this maze, Rhen faces more personal challenges than she thought she would. But Rhen isn’t a quitter, and she refuses to give up, no matter the cost.

Mary Weber weaves fantasy so well with the setting and plot of this book. How the book starts out, I wouldn’t think fantasy elements would arise. But they did and the elements, though not present enough to overwhelm the plot, work so well with the story. The Labyrinth breathes fantasy, with ghouls and creatures and a maze that continuously shrinks in size until you find a way to escape. It was interesting and unlike most mazes I have read in books. Mary Weber truly brought this maze (and this book) to life, and I loved it.

To Best the Boys turned out to be the story I was hoping it to be. The characters were well-developed and the plot continued to thicken until the very end. It was, overall, a book I am thankful I got to read early.

To Best the Boys is a refreshing read in the YA genre. If you love girl power, individuality, fighting for what you believe in, a deadly and heart-pounding maze, and romance, then I highly recommend reading To Best the Boys!

nikole

Question of the Post:

Would you enter the Labyrinth? I’d love to know! Leave your answer below! 🙂

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)

*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!

card-lineup.jpg4DQ pre-order.jpg

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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

nicki-pau-preto-101027857

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)