Thank you to Tor Teen for sharing this copy in exchange for my honest review! I also created a moodboard down below, to give you a feel for the book. If you’re interested in entering the #TheRoyalTreatment sweepstakes, head here! To see Sarah on virtual tour for the novel, check out the tour graphic also included below.
A STABLE BOY
When her father dies, Princess Amarande is given an ultimatum: Marry the leader of one of the four neighboring kingdoms, or lose her crown—and possibly her life. And to force her hand, her beloved, the stable boy Luca, is kidnapped.
But Amarande was raised to be a warrior, not a sacrifice.
And nothing will stop her from saving her true love and rescuing her kingdom.
The acclaimed author of Sea Witch turns the classic damsel-in-distress tale on its head with this story of adventure, identity, and love.
I LOVED Sea Witch, so I was thrilled to try a new adventure from Sarah Henning, especially because The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies. I ended up really enjoying this novel, and I think you all will find reading it a delightful way to spend an afternoon.
I was drawn to The Princess Will Save You by its promise of high stakes adventure, and it did not disappoint! Half the book had me with my heart in my throat, and after the first couple of chapters I didn’t want to put it down. I basically tore through it in two sittings, and at 368 pages it’s a medium sized read.
There’s no magic in the story currently, but royal politics and intrigue abound because of the Land of Sand and Sky’s division between kingdoms. I love royalty YA, so I was totally prepared for this one. The back-alley dealings of rogue princes and the intentions of our heroine princess to keep her crown are nothing new to YA per se, but the fact that this is a Princess Bride retelling (with all the complications of the original, minus the humor to my dismay) kept enough originality and I was never bored.
Amarande’s quest to rescue Luca and gain her throne is understandable, and I became so angry on her behalf for the lack of agency allowed to her by the patriarchal customs of her continent. This is the easiest way to infuriate me, so no wonder I was on Amarande’s side so quickly. I do feel that she could have used a bit more victory in the book though. She won a few of her battles, but I wish I could feel like Amarande had gained more by the end of the story. To my current understanding, this is a duology, so… can’t she have a little win or two?
The duology point brings me to the fact that I didn’t realize that this is the first book in a series when I started it, so I totally wasn’t expecting that ENDING!! It’s cliffhanger time, y’all! I was totally shocked when I turned the page and there was no next chapter, especially because I haven’t read a book with a cliffhanger ending in ages. I will absolutely be reading the next book, and I eagerly await any news on it.
Overall, I give The Princess Will Save You 4/5 stars—it’s perfect for any fantasy reader, even if you haven’t seen The Princess Bride. If you have, you’ll get to smile at a few more references and understand some of the plot's inspiration.
It's July 7, and you know what that means... Burn Our Bodies Down is out today!! Rory Power's sophomore novel is another horror/sff that will creep you out in the best way. If you haven't read my review, then read it here and let that convince you to buy this book! I'm so excited for this book to be out in the world, and for everyone else to read it. If you liked Wilder Girls, know that BOBD is a bit different but is definitely in Power's signature style, aaaand if you go order it right now you can submit your receipt to Get Underlined to receive an exclusive Wilder Girls short story!
My second thing is less bookish and more of a fun fact about me: I love mint chocolate chip ice cream! Originally this Tuesday's Two series was meant to let y'all get to know me better, but somehow I keep going back to bookish stuff. Oops!
Thank you to Delacorte Press and Netgalley for sharing a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Ever since Margot was born, it's been just her and her mother. No answers to Margot's questions about what came before. No history to hold on to. No relative to speak of. Just the two of them, stuck in their run-down apartment, struggling to get along.
But that's not enough for Margot. She wants family. She wants a past. And she just found the key she needs to get it: A photograph, pointing her to a town called Phalene. Pointing her home. Only, when Margot gets there, it's not what she bargained for.
Margot's mother left for a reason. But was it to hide her past? Or was it to protect Margot from what's still there?
The only thing Margot knows for sure is there's poison in their family tree, and their roots are dug so deeply into Phalene that now that she's there, she might never escape.
This haunting sophomore novel provides new spins on Rory Power’s signature body horror and environmentally conscious themes. I was hooked from the very first page, and could not be more grateful to have experienced Phalene as an early reader.
The cycles of abuse that Margot experiences feel so personal and real—her headspace is so clearly delineated through the novel that I truly think I got to inhabit her mind for a brief while. Her responses to the events of the novel also influenced her perception of herself and her family, so despite the fact that the book is entirely in her perspective, it avoided repetition. This contributed to my enjoyment of the novel, as I dislike narrative repetition if avoidable. My favorite books are the ones where I can understand each character’s choices, and what makes them tick. Ergo, Burn Our Bodies Down is one of my new favorites.
This book is also special because of the relationships between its characters, even as we see Margot trying to learn who she is. Her family relationships, especially the rocky one between her and her mom, as well as the new friendships she forms, felt so real to me. I could perfectly imagine life in her apartment: candle lit, fridge semi-filled, too much waiting in the summer heat. And Margot’s never-ending hunger for what she thinks of as a “real family,” with love sweet like cotton candy. I can’t pretend to understand her specific situation, but Power wrote with such clarity and compassion that I truly felt for Margot.
And let’s not forget the horror! Oh my goodness, I was not expecting the reveals. Everything builds up to the conclusion in a way that had me marveling at the foreshadowing. The body horror builds over the course of the story in a different way than in Wilder Girls, but I loved Power’s descriptions just as much. She has a very careful way about her words, and I was sucked into the visuals of Margot’s family and Phalene immediately.
I’m giving Burn Our Bodies Down 5/5 stars, and I’m so glad it soared above my expectations as one of my most anticipated novels of 2020. Buy it, y’all!
So. The end of June. It's been... quite a month in my reading life. I read 22 books, and remember none of them. I leaned heavily into my cravings for fantasy and non-contemporary books, but some realistic fiction was unavoidable (I can't stay away from a good romance for too long!). Today I thought I'd share some of my favorite reads of the month, and also my parts of my book hauls. Reviews will be linked!
Five Star Reads:
The Bone Witch, The Heart Forger, and The Shadow Glass by Rin Chupeco. I love this trilogy, and it has pulled me out of many a reading slump.
A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi. Roshani is such a lyrical storyteller, and I could gorge myself on her words all day long. Get ready for The Silvered Serpents, y'all, it's also incredible.
We Walked the Sky by Lisa Fiedler. This is a contemporary/historical blend about a family's involvement in the circus, and I LOVED IT!! I had alllll the feels while I was reading, and the characters were so personable!
A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy. An incredible high fantasy. Fast paced, exciting, exactly what I needed. I cannot wait for the sequel. (Penguin, if you're reading this, can I pleeease get a sneak peek???)
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo. I put off reading this for the longest time, and that was the biggest mistake of my year. It's heartstopping. I love Nikolai and Zoya so much better now that they have their own series.
Shielded by KayLynn Flanders. Another royal high fantasy, which I had so much fun creating content for! Comes out soon, so get those shopping carts ready!
My Book Haul:
A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson
Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
Sightwitch by Susan Dennard
Thank you to Candlewick Press for sending me this BLAD in exchange for my honest review! I also accessed a full version on Netgalley.
From the green light across the bay to the billboard with spectacled eyes, F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 American masterpiece roars to life in Katharine Woodman-Maynard's exquisite graphic novel--among the first adaptations of the book in this genre. Painted in lush watercolors, the inventive interpretation emphasizes both the extravagance and mystery of the characters, as well as the fluidity of Nick Carraway's unreliable narration. Excerpts from the original text wend through the illustrations, and imagery and metaphors are taken to literal, and often whimsical, extremes, such as when a beautiful partygoer blooms into an orchid and Daisy Buchanan pushes Gatsby across the sky on a cloud.
This faithful yet modern adaptation will appeal to fans with deep knowledge of the classic, while the graphic novel format makes it an ideal teaching tool to engage students. With its timeless critique of class, power, and obsession, The Great Gatsby Graphic Novel captures the energy of an era and the enduring resonance of one of the world's most beloved books.
So, The Great Gatsby. An iconic 20th century American novel. I personally love it, I know others hate it, but such is the way of things with classics. Being that TGG is widely known amongst Americans, myself included, and often part of school curricula, I’m not reviewing characters, plot, or anything to do with the original novel. Instead, let’s talk adaptation!
A graphic novel is an inherently different form of storytelling from a traditional novel. In this adaptation, that meant Woodman-Maynard made some choices about what to keep from the original text and what to translate, including slimming down the themes while working to keep that uneasy ethereal quality to the oeuvre. I think she was successful in this endeavor.
The soft watercolor palette translates better on paper than online, so I encourage readers to preorder hard copies! I loved the airy quality to the work. Gatsby’s world is a semi-constructed fantasy, so elements like having text on walls and characters that at times appear not to occupy limiting forms, add a new dimension to the novel.
One of my favorite parts is the color palette. Gorgeously saturated and calm due to use of watercolors as a primary medium, chapters are interspersed with monochromatic multi-page layouts as well as full-detail full-color panels. Woodman-Maynard made smart choices about using the simultaneous sumptuousness and translucence of watercolor to represent TGG’s opulent world.
I think it’s a good idea to read The Great Gatsby as a novel, first, though. This is good supplemental material, but there’s so much nuance in Fitzgerald’s original that much had to be cut in order for the adaptation to not feel cumbersome. It’s wonderful from an artistic perspective, and obviously loyal to the plot and characters, but if you’re looking for the intricacy of language to convey theme… well, it’s a graphic novel. Look elsewhere. I would have loved to see more bulk, plot-wise. I think it would have been okay to extend the novel by 20-30 pages in order to capture more text and stay involved in the themes of the original.
Overall, I give The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel Adaptation 4/5 stars, and I would definitely add it to your TBRs! Out January 5, 2021—a great start to our new Roaring ‘20s!
Popping in with an update on my NetGalley shelf and to give a short preview of what's to come in the future! For non-bloggers: NetGalley is a website where reviewers can request e-copies of books (known as eARCs or e-galleys) for the purpose of review before they are published.
My current feedback ratio is 90%, and I'm trying to keep it there! Sometimes I get request-happy and then am surprised when I'm approved for bunches of them, which lowers my ratio, but I've been more cautious recently. As of right now, the books on my shelf are:
As a slight side note, this is the 300th post on this blog! I can't believe it's been so long, but I wouldn't rather be doing anything else. Come celebrate with me over on my Instagram page (links: --->)
We all love a good trope sometimes, so here are five of my absolute favorites! Fantasy, especially, is rife with them, since many works are derivative and repetition is inevitable. Some that I’ve included are themes, but some of theme are scene types that I enjoy reading.
1. ENEMIES TO LOVERS
This is my favorite trope in fantasy novels, but also in contemporary. From Tweet Cute to Wicked Saints & Ruthless Gods, I love them all. The character building! The tension! I will seriously read ANY book if it has this trope in it (provided it’s well-explored, that is.)
2. Fantasy character removing a ridiculous number of weapons from their person.
I just think this is hilarious.
Whenever a character has to go through a set of trials, it’s always interesting to see what tests the author chooses to fit the world they’ve built.
4. R O Y A L T Y (especially the “secret princess” trope)
This plot twist is always a fun one, but I like reading about royals regardless of whether or not they were secret heirs or life-long aristocrats.
5. The group of friends full of archetypes
When every character has a specific skill set and place in the group (think The Gilded Wolves or Six of Crows)… that’s good stuff.
Hi y'all! This week I have one thing instead of the usual two--the Romance Slam Jam Conference! I'm moderating three panels, so if you're at all interested head over to their site and register! Just to let you know, there is a cost for attending, but in return you'll gain access to panels, workshops, pitch sessions, etc. Participants include Entangled Publishing, Harlequin Books, HarperCollins, St. Martin's Press, and more! My panels are on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and they are:
How to Build a Reader Community with YouTuber Alexandra Mathew and Entangled Teen TikTok manager Madison Pelletier.
Contemporary World Building: It's Not Just a Setting with author Roselle Lim (whose blog tour I'm on in late July, so look out for that!)
Market Write Now: Build Your Brand--Sell Some Books! with Karol Jarvis, Graphic Designer, Jessica Turner, Marketing Director/Associate Publisher, and Liz Pelletier, Publisher at Entangled Publishing.
Find out more info at http://rsjconvention.com/, and I'll be back next week with updates on how everything went!
Hi friends! I have something reeeeallly exciting for you today! I'm thrilled to help reveal to Intisar Khanani's next novel, The Theft of Sunlight! This is the first book in a companion duology to Thorn, which came out March 24, 2020. The Theft of Sunlight will release March 23, 2021 from HarperTeen. I'm also pleased to share a short excerpt with you, but if you want to meet Rae before Theft comes out, check out the short story included in copies of Thorn. In case you don't already have the novel, you can purchase a copy here!
A little more....
Just a biiiiiit longer....
Here we go!!!
(This incredible cover is designed by Jenny Zemanek)
The Theft of Sunlight by Intisar Khanani
I did not choose this fate. But I will not walk away if I can make a difference.
Children have been disappearing from Menaiya for longer than Amraeya ni Ansarim can remember. When her best friend’s sister disappears, Rae knows she can’t stay silent any longer. She finds the chance to make a difference in an invitation to the palace.
But Rae struggles to fit in with the lords and ladies of the court. Instead, she finds unexpected help in a rough-around-the-edges thief named Bren who always seems to have her best interests at heart. Soon even Bren can’t help her, and Rae must risk her life and well-being to face an evil that lurks in the shadows of the darkest hearts.
Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. Born in Wisconsin, she has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. She first remembers seeing snow on a wintry street in Zurich, Switzerland, and vaguely recollects having breakfast with the orangutans at the Singapore Zoo when she was five. She currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and two young daughters.
Intisar used to write grants and develop projects to address community health with the Cincinnati Health Department, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy. She is the author of The Sunbolt Chronicles and Thorn.
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A Short Excerpt
“If he could tell us anything helpful, surely we would have heard by now,” I tell Ani, not wanting to give her false hope.
“I can’t give up,” Ani says desperately. “I can’t.”
If only there were some lead, some small clue to grasp at, but we’ve turned up nothing: no one remembers anything unusual, every stranger has been accounted for, every wagon searched. There is not a track out of place, nothing.
“Baba is riding east with two other men, following the road to Lirelei,” she says. “Everyone’s heard that . . . that the children might be sent on from the eastern ports.”
“It’s good that he’s going,” I say. It’s only scraps of rumor and fireside theories that suggest the snatched end up as slaves in other lands. Who sends them, how they are to be discovered—no one knows. But it’s worth the journey if Seri can be found.
Ani turns to me, her face tight with fury. “Children disappear every day. Have you thought about that? Perhaps only every few years for us, but in the cities? Across the whole of this kingdom? It must be a few every day. How can it go on? How is it that no one manages to stop it?”
I shake my head. It had been easy enough, these past years, to pretend the snatchers were not so constant or near a threat— because they rarely strike here, in so small a town as this. But now little Seri is gone, with her laughing eyes and impish sense of humor. Niya asked if the Circle of Mages really has tried to track the snatched, and I wonder if they have. If they care, or the royal court cares, or if anyone at all knows how the snatchers are able to hide every last trace of our children.
Ani takes a deep breath. “What use are the taxes we pay? What use is our king and all his soldiers, if they can’t stop our brothers and sisters from being stolen on the streets?”
“Not much,” I admit. It might be treason to say so, but there is no one to hear us on this empty road. I run my hands over my head, tug at my braids, hating this helplessness. “What can we do, though?”
“I don’t know,” Ani says, and for the first time since she came to our cart asking after Seri, she begins to cry.
I fold her into my arms, holding her tight as she sobs into my shoulder, and promise myself I’ll keep trying. And I won’t give up either.
--The Theft of Sunlight, Intisar Khanani
And now, a giveaway that Intisar is running! She is offering $25 of books from The Book Depository (open to folks anywhere The Book Depository ships, winner chooses the books). The giveaway is set up via Rafflecopter.
Hey, I'm Shreya! I love to read, write, travel, and drink coffee.
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