8/20/17

Publick Occurrences, Both Foreign and Domestick, the first newspaper published in America, was printed by Richard Pierce and edited by Benjamin Harris in Boston on September 25, 1690. It contained three printed pages and one blank. The pages were about 6 x 10 inches in size in a folded sheet of paper. . . . Ultimately, the first newspaper published in America became the first to be suppressed by the authorities.”

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Disclaimer

Which Cover Wednesday

Which Cover Wednesday

Which Cover Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sumaya @ Sue’s Reading Corner where participants show different covers of the same book and decide which one they like best.

I’m going to start this off with the cover reveal for A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir:

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*squeals*

Actually, the whole series is going to be revamped with redesigned paperback covers.

*faints*

An Ember in the Ashes: Old vs New

 

A Torch Against the Night: Old vs New

 

For both of these books, I have to say I like both covers. I like the originals because I’ve never been a fan of seeing people on covers. However, I like the new versions because there is POC representation. I also like the new covers because of the red/blue/green tints, matching font, and kickass characters/poses/stares. It would have been nice for collectors to have the final hardcover match the original design. But, personally I don’t mind if my covers don’t match; I buy the book that is most easily available to me.

Mashable: Ember series redesigned covers and Q&A with Tahir

 

How do you feel about this current controversial YA topic?

Sweet Trilogy Series Review

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Sweet Evil (Sweet Trilogy Series, Book 1) by Wendy Higgins

Synopsis: What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences?

This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels.
Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She’s aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but it isn’t until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He’s the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.

Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?

About the Author: Wendy Higgins is the USA Today and NY Times bestselling author of the Sweet Evil series from HarperTeen, along with her independently published Irish fantasy, See Me. She attended George Mason University for her undergraduate degree in creative writing, and Radford University for a masters in curriculum and instruction. Wendy taught high school English before achieving her dream of becoming a full-time author. She now lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with her husband, daughter, and son.

Genre: young adult, fantasy, paranormal, romance

More Info: paperback, 447 pages, published by HarperTeen on May 1, 2012


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Sweet Peril (Sweet Trilogy Series, Book 2) by Wendy Higgins

Synopsis: Anna Whitt, the daughter of a guardian angel and a demon, promised herself she’d never do the work of her father—polluting souls. She’d been naive to make such a vow. She’d been naive about a lot of things.

Haunted by demon whisperers, Anna does whatever she can to survive, even if it means embracing her dark side and earning an unwanted reputation as her school’s party girl. Her life has never looked more bleak. And all the while there’s Kaidan Rowe, son of the Duke of Lust, plaguing her heart and mind.

When an unexpected lost message from the angels surfaces, Anna finds herself traveling the globe with Kopano, son of Wrath, in an attempt to gain support of fellow Nephilim and give them hope for the first time. It soon becomes clear that whatever freedoms Anna and the rest of the Neph are hoping to win will not be gained without a fight. Until then, Anna and Kaidan must put aside the issues between them, overcome the steamiest of temptations yet, and face the ultimate question: is loving someone worth risking their life?

About the Author: Wendy Higgins is the USA Today and NY Times bestselling author of the Sweet Evil series from HarperTeen, along with her independently published Irish fantasy, See Me. She attended George Mason University for her undergraduate degree in creative writing, and Radford University for a masters in curriculum and instruction. Wendy taught high school English before achieving her dream of becoming a full-time author. She now lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with her husband, daughter, and son.

Genre: young adult, fantasy, paranormal, romance

More Info: paperback, 384 pages, published by HarperTeen on April 30, 2013


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Sweet Reckoning (Sweet Evil Series, Book 3) by Wendy Higgins

Synopsis: Evil is running rampant and sweet Anna Whitt is its target. Nobody knows when or how the Dukes will strike, but Anna and her Nephilim allies will do anything necessary to rid the earth of the demons and their oppressive ways.

The stakes are higher than ever, and Anna is determined that the love she feels will be her strength, not a liability. But trying to protect the ones she loves while running for her life and battling demonic forces proves to be perilous—especially as faces are changing and trust is fleeting. When the Duke of Lust sends Anna’s great love, Kaidan Rowe, to work against her, Anna must decide how much she’s prepared to risk.

About the Author: Wendy Higgins is the USA Today and NY Times bestselling author of the Sweet Evil series from HarperTeen, along with her independently published Irish fantasy, See Me. She attended George Mason University for her undergraduate degree in creative writing, and Radford University for a masters in curriculum and instruction. Wendy taught high school English before achieving her dream of becoming a full-time author. She now lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with her husband, daughter, and son.

Genre: young adult, fantasy, paranormal, romance

More Info: paperback, 379 pages, published by HarperTeen on April 29, 2014


Series Review

4

Spoilers

This series is another one of my favorites and it is seriously underhyped.

Some people are turned off by the religious elements in this series. But, let’s be honest, can you have a book about angels and demons, sins and virtues, without religion? The religion aspect isn’t overpowering anyway. Anna doesn’t read or cite the Bible excessively (visibly, she only uses the Bible once). Anna is pure of heart and body, so, yes, she prays. Her love for people and love for Him stems from being raised by Patti. And of course, she has a guardian angel for a mother; how could she not be influenced by that, just as much as she gets urges from her demon father? Religion is not forced on the reader, it is simply a part of the world the main characters lives in, and becomes more prevalent as she discovers who she is and what she is meant for.

  1. Anna Whitt: Anna is your classic blonde-haired, brown-eyed, good girl. She does her homework and stays away from illegal substances, because she has strong cravings for drugs and alcohol that scare her. She can see and feel emotions, and has heightened senses. She grew up in a small town in Georgia, raised by a loving guardian. Having never known her real parents, Anna is surprised to find out her deceased mother was a guardian angel, and her father, who is alive, is a demon.
  2. Patti Whitt: Since being led by an angle to the Convent in California to adopt Anna, Patti becomes a faithful and protective mother. She is the epitome of southern hospitality and the pinnacle of motherly-love. She nurtures the other nephilim and works to make sure Anna is safe, despite being only human.
  3. Jay Thompson: Jay is Anna’s best friend. He is also a human, so the other nephilim find their connection odd. He has a passion for music, so he writes lyrics and becomes a DJ. He later gets involved in Anna’s demonic/angelic side of life. There, he meets Marna, and pines for her even when he’s dating Veronica (Anna other friend).
  4. Kaidan Rowe: Kaidan Rowe. 😍 In Anna’s words, he is H-O-T-T. With brown hair, high cheekbones, an English accent, and piercing blue eyes, he is the embodiment of sexual passion. Literally. He is the son of Pharzuph, the Duke of Lust. He is the drummer in a band and gets lost in his music. Kaidan has demons, both personal and physical, that follow him through life.
  5. Johnathan LaGray AKA. Belial: John is Anna’s father and the demon Duke of Substance Abuse. He is a hulking, intimidating man. But don’t be fooled, he is on the path to redemption and has a sweet spot for his daughter and a certain adoptive mother. He loves Anna’s mother, Mariantha, with everything he is and hopes to meet her again one day in heaven.
  6. Kopano: Kope is the son of Alocer, the Duke of Wrath. However, Kope feels a pull for more than one sin. Despite his urges, Kope is practically celibate. He has stopped working, is going to college, and doesn’t do bad. Kope is from Malawi and has brown skin. His goal is to return to his hometown and help his people. He is sweet but quiet. He harbors feelings for Anna, until he meets another passionate nephilim.
  7. Marna and Ginger: The twin are the daughters of Astaroth, and they are vassals of adultery. Marna is sweet and optimistic; Ginger is harsh and pessimistic. Ginger is also incredibly loyal and protective of Marna. They are opposites in personalities, but their sisterly bond is unbreakable, by everything except death.
  8. Blake: Black is an asian thrill-seeker. As the son of Melchom, he has to represent greed. So he has the biggest house, the latest technology, the trophy girl, and the best skills. He desires Ginger and wishes to be free of his horrible obligations to hell.
  9. Dukes: There are twelve Dukes in all; ascendants from hell who embody sins: lust, wrath, greed, substance abuse, adultery, lies, gluttony/sloth, envy, pride, theft, hatred, murder. Since they are demons, they can possess any corporeal person and switch between bodies (deemed the “changing of the guard”). They were originally angels, but sided with Lucifer and got banished from heaven. Their earthly children are called nephilim and are expected to serve the dukes and spread sin.

In Sweet Evil, Anna meets Kaidan and all hell breaks loose . . . literally. She finds out she is a nephilim and that her father is a demon. She goes on a cross country trip with Kaidan, a lust nephilim, and learns about her new world. The purpose of their trip is to meet her imprisoned father and the convent nun. She connects with her dad, who is soft despite his hard exterior. She also receives a message and a sword hilt from the nun.

In Sweet Peril, Anna finds out she is meant for a special destiny. There is a prophecy: when humanity despairs, their will be a Nephilim pure of heart who will cast demons from earth to remain in hell forever, and send the righteous lost angels to heaven with forgiveness. So, Anna and her father recruit member to join the fight. Also, Anna must remain pure to wield the sword of righteousness. By the final stand, all of the nephilim and dukes must choose a side. The second book ends on a good note with Anna’s and Kaidan’s relationship, but a sobering note about the future fight.

Finally, in Sweet Reckoning, the struggle between “good and evil” comes to a close. The Dukes become suspicious of Anna and Belial and their position with the dreaded prophecy. All of the main characters in the group take their relationships to the next level.

I love the relationships between all of the characters. There is so much tension, but there is also a deep understanding between the nephilim, due to their predicament. Patti is the most caring person, and mothers all of the characters. The Dukes are cruel, but some have the potential for good, like Alocer who lets Kope not work.

The conclusion of the series is one of my favorite endings. It was brief, but summed up the whole plot and character’s stories. The finale had my heart melting and had me seeing Kaidan in a new light.

8/12/17

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“Monica’s apartment changed from number 5 to number 20 when the show’s writers realised that “5” wouldn’t denote an apartment on an upper level floor in a large block. So they matched, Chandler’s also changed from 4 to 19.”

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Disclaimer

Daughter of the Pirate King Review

dotpkDaughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

Synopsis: There will be plenty of time for me to beat him soundly once I’ve gotten what I came for.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

About the Author: Tricia Levenseller is from a small town in Oregon, but she now lives in Utah with her bossy dog, Rosy. She received her degree in English Language and editing, and she is thrilled that she never has to read another textbook again. When she’s not writing or reading, Tricia enjoys putting together jigsaw puzzles, playing volleyball, and watching her favorite TV shows while eating extra-buttered popcorn.

Genre: young adult, fantasy, romance, historical

More Info: hardcover, 320 pages, published by Feiwel & Friends on February 28, 2017

4.5

Partial spoilers

Alosa is not only the captain of her own ship, the Ava-lee, but she is also the daughter of the Pirate King, Kalligan. Her father monopolized the sea and now rules over all who sail on it. But he wants more. As one of three descendants of the first pirates, Alosa’s father has one piece of a map that leads to The Treasure.  He is determined to get the other two thirds, and claim the mysterious island for himself. As the future queen, Alosa wants the treasure just as much.

So, she purposely gets captured by the sons (Riden and Draxen) of one of her father’s, recently deceased, competitor, Jeskor. She has no idea if the sons know about the map, or if they are hiding it. So she spends every night searching the Nightfarer. Along the way, she gets caught “trying to escape” or “exacting revenge.” But she is really hiding her true motive and her true abilities.

When things take a turn for the worse, she has to work with Riden to save his life, preserve her secrets, and escape their kidnappers.

 

I read this book immediately when it released February 2017. I then started to write a review, but never finished. A few months later and I wanted to reread Daughter of the Pirate King again, because who can resist a swashbuckling, young adult pirate book with a kick-ass female main character. So, here I am with my second attempt at a review.

The book starts out with a bang. There are major twists and some hidden hints along the way. The plot is fast-paced and easy to follow since Alosa has one main task: find the map. The plot is filled with stealthy escapes, witty banter, surprise attacks, and more. There was a huge change/escalation at the rising action/climax of the book. If felt like the book jumped into a different plot altogether. But that section helps readers learn more about Alosa. The end was satisfying, but felt like on ended on a weird note. It was not like the take charge, step up to the ship’s wheel, dramatic, music, ready to go on another adventure, Pirates of the Caribbean ending.

Alosa is fiery, just like her red hair. She is smart, ruthless, strong, and competent; a well-rounded pirate. She is confident and critical; all of which made me enjoy listening to her thoughts. But she is also feminine. For example, she makes her captors bring her clothes and accessories into her cell aboard their ship. While she also uses her belongings to stash lock picks and knives, her demand makes me think of Mulan: “Just because I look like a man doesn’t mean I have to smell like one.” Readers hear a lot that Alosa is holding back because she can’t give herself away. When she makes a mistake, I can tell that she is holding back. But her constant annoyance with minimizing her abilities gets tiring. So, she is not as perfect as she thinks. Alosa also has a tortured past. Her father was brutal in her training as he taught her to learn her limits. Yet, she still works for her father and claims to have freedom. I think she is blinded from his cruelty as he uses her for a weapon. Alosa is also half-human, half-siren. And both half don’t blend. Alosa can call upon her siren self, which she doesn’t like to do often. Readers can feel the change in Alosa through her thoughts, the prose, and people’s perception of her.

Riden can see through Alosa. He sees the change between her two selves and he sees past her facade. Riden is also fiercely loyal to his brother, which I admire despite his brother being an egotistical jerk. Riden is also the opposite of your usual pirate; he has proper hygiene, keeps a pristine room, and holds back on many aspects of pirating.

I totally ship Alosa and Riden. Riden seems honorable, hot, and capable. And it seems that Alosa may agree with me. Aside from their entertaining back-and-forth nature, the fact that Riden can pull Alosa from her siren trance shows a lot about their relationship. While Riden gets caught between his loyalties to Draxen and his feelings for Alosa, I think their strong bonds will prevail.

Draxen seemed like somewhat of a stock characters. He thinks he has it all. The only time I was impressed with him was when he figured out the best way to get information out of Alosa, by threatening to cut her hair. That was a backhanded, clever moved I never expected from him. I like Kearan and Enwen. I don’t have much of a opinion on Kearan, because he always seemed the strong, silent, mysterious type. But Enwen certainly sticks in my mind. He is a rum-good thief and he is a superstitious fool.

While Alosa is an awesome female protagonist, I wish there were more prevalent female characters. Readers see Alosa’s crew through her thoughts and briefly in-person, but not enough interaction to form an opinion of them. I wish there was more about her female crew. I’m sure this will be addressed in Daugher of the Siren Queen, but it was the one thing lacking in this first book.

The setting was just the Nightfarer, and two islands. I think this was the main disappointment for me. I felt like there should have been more exploring and sailing in a pirate book, although I get how that would be hard for Alosa as a prisoner. The ship fights were a good addition but they didn’t strike me like a Pirates of the Carribean attack, because they ended quickly and there was minimal description.

Buy it here:

amazon

 

 

Barnes-and-Noble

 

#TheReadingQuest TBR Pile

When I first saw #TheReadingQuest, hosted by Read at Midnight, I immediately knew I had to join. I participated in Aentee’s #ReadThemAllThon last year and had a lot of fun. I might not get into the reading challenge as fiercely as I did last time, but I hope the Quest Board will help me with my TBR pile. This post is very wishy-washy. I will be reading, but WHAT I’ll be reading is still up in the air since I read based on mood.


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Aentee @ Read at Midnight is hosting #TheReadingQuest (sign-up post), a video game based reading challenge. The quest will take place between Sunday, August 13, to Sunday, September 10, 2017.


Character Class Options:

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“The path you take on the bingo board is entirely dependent on your chosen Character Class.”

“Once you pick a character, you must stay on their path (or the side quests) before you can proceed to another character.”

“KNIGHT: These players are warriors skilled in direct combat. On their quest, they are will fight their way through the First Across path. The stages within this path are inspired by action and weaponry.

BARD: While the bards may not engage in direct combat, they make up for it with their intimate knowledge of songs and stories. They will travel through the Fifth Down path on the quest board, reading famed tales and singing lost songs.

ROGUE: These adventurers have absolute mastery over stealth and speed, and they slip in and out of the quest through the Fifth Across path. They celebrate underappreciated books and half-forgotten stories.

MAGE: As wielders of spells and witchcraft, these players will conjure and summon their way through the First Down path on the quest. Their tomes contain magic and whispers of alternate lands.”


My Character:

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To make your own card, read the FAQ section, or learn about experience/health points, click here.

(character art created by CW of Read, Think, Ponder, “Please do not use her art for any purposes outside of this reading challenge, unless you are given her express permission. Please credit her with a link back to your blog in your sign up post.”)


The Quest Board:

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“You only need to read one book for each of the four corner stages on the quest board.”


My TBR:

The problem here: I have a TBR list to destroy, but I also read based on current interest. The titles below may change as I navigate the piles of books in my room. 🙈

 

MAGE

A Book with a One Word Title: Geekeralla by Ashley Poston

A Book that Contains Magic: Siege & Storm by Leigh Bardugo (if i loved Shadow & Bone) or The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

A Book Based on Mythology: Reawakened by Colleen Houck (previously DNF)

A Book Set in a Different World: Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo (I’ve heard that everyone loves to hate the Darkling)

The First Book of a Series: Ruined by Amy Tintera

 

KNIGHT

A Book with a Verb in It’s Title: Dark Breaks the Dawn by Sara Larson (I enjoyed this author’s Defy series)

A Book with a Weapon on It’s Cover: Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton (if I like Rebel of the Sands) or Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (re-read, so I can start book 5 and 6)

A Book with a Red Cover: Ruin & Rising by Leigh Bardugo (subject to change)

A Book that Has a TV/Movie Adaptation: Eragon by Christopher Paolini (I’ve always wanted to re-read this series, but it is quite long = subject to change)

 

SIDE QUESTS

(I may partake in some of the sidequests = TBA)

Happily Ever After Review

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Happily Ever After (Cinder & Ella, Book 2) by Kelly Oram

Synopsis: The end of one story is often the beginning of another. Hollywood heartthrob Brian Oliver and his Cinderella princess Ellamara Rodriguez have finally found love outside the digital world. But leaving their anonymity behind creates a whole new set of obstacles for the nation’s new favorite sweethearts. With the stress of Brian’s fame and the pressures of a new relationship weighing down on them, the It Couple quickly begins to wonder if they can hold onto their newfound joy, or if maybe happily ever after is only a fairy tale.

About the Author: Kelly Oram wrote her first novel at age fifteen–a fan fiction about her favorite music group, The Backstreet Boys, for which her family and friends still tease her. She’s obsessed with reading, talks way too much, and likes to eat frosting by the spoonful. She lives outside of Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, four children, and her cat, Mr. Darcy.

Genre: young adult, romance, contemporary

More Info: Kindle edition, 342 pages, published by Bluefields on April 11, 2017

4.5

Partial spoilers from Cinder & Ella and Happily Ever After

When Cinder & Ella (review) ended, I wanted more of Brian and Ellamara. Having the two flirt over the internet and meet briefly in person, I wanted more face-to-face interaction. I was happy to see there was a sequel, Happily Ever After.

In this book, readers see Ella and Brian’s relationship develop. Ella has to deal with the fame of being a famous actor’s girlfriend. Ella continues to struggle with her new family. And Ella tries to become more comfortable with her disability and looks.

 

I read through this book quite fast. Although, the plot was all over the place. The main conflict was just Ella dealing with her new fame, which was quite a step from the serious themes in book one. There were also a lot of mini-conflicts that resulted from Ella’s newfound fame. Mostly, I liked this book for the relationships and characters.

I loved seeing Brian and Ella together, dating. I do feel that their relationship was very serious, very fast; this could just be because I haven’t seen their years of interaction online. But for only a week or two of meeting in person, I totally understood Ella’s hesitations.

Such hesitations included having intimate relations and moving in with him, which I understand, because, like I said their relationship seemed to be moving fast. Oram really hit feelings on the head. The jealousies, the love, the loyalty, and other emotions are the most interesting part of the novel. But overall, I loved seeing Brian and Ella’s relationship progress. They grew together, they talked together, and they seemed in-sync.

Brian seemed different from his portrayal in Cinder & Ella. This could be because of the three year difference between the two books in this duology. Either way, he seemed much more mature compared to his childish POV in book one. He was finally acting his age (he seemed to me a petulant young adult in the first book, when he is actually supposed to be about 22). He also seemed too perfect. Maybe because Ella perceived him that way for most of the book and her perspective influenced mine. But he didn’t seem to have too many faults.

In fact, one of Brian’s only faults was his father . . . and well, you can’t choose who you are related to. While readers saw Ella interact with her father and stepfamily in Cinder & Ella, Happily Ever After introduces Brian’s family to the picture. His father, as I said before, is self-serving. I was annoyed on Brian’s and Ella’s behalf, so I was happy he wasn’t a top character in the book. On the other hand, Brian’s mother and stepfather are adorable.

Speaking of family, readers see a lot more of Ella’s father and stepfamily. I actually prefered the stepfamily as opposed to the father—a drastic change from when Ella first moved to California. Ella’s father’s resentment takes another step and his open mouth gets him in trouble. I get that he was stressed and worried for his “real” family, but I’m not sure if I would have forgiven him. Ella is simply too kindhearted.

Ella’s acceptance of her disability/skin is a large part of this book. After the bullying she was victim to in book one, I completely understand her hesitation to be in the public eye. But she has the potential to be an inspiration (even if the companies contacting her are only in it for their own gain). Ella’s steps toward self-confidence is amazing, body-positive, and realistic. Unrealistic body expectations are a major problem in our society.

In the first book we see Juliette’s transformation from bitch to bestie. While Ana doesn’t make such a full change, I was happy to see her being more friendly toward Ella, even with her both behavior.

The ending was cute, just like in Cinder & Ella except at a different stage in the main character’s relationship together. Overall this series is a unique, great read with the balance between the dark and light themes.

Buy it here:

amazon

 

 

Barnes-and-Noble

Waiting On Wednesday

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Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Break the Spine where bloggers can feature anticipated upcoming book releases.

The release date for Forest of A Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao is too far away.


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Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to 

fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.


I really want to read Forest of a Thousand Lanterns when it comes out on October 10, 2017. The book is pitched as an evil queen retelling with an east asian twist. As an own voices novel, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is diverse and dark. The main character, Xifeng, is an anti-hero. She’s almost villainous, which makes this book so unique. I’ve also heard that there are remarkable fantasy elements coupled with overall amazing writing.