Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Interview with Elissa Sussman, Author of Stray (and GIVEAWAY!)

Hello lovelies! Today, I have a special post for you - an interview with the wonderful Elissa Sussman! Check it out, my review, and be sure to take a peek at the giveaway at the bottom of the post!

Meet Elissa!

Alyssa: Hi, Elissa! Thank you so much for joining me today on my blog! How cool is it that our names share the same root :-)

Elissa: Thank you for having me! I always love encountering other Alyssa/Elissas in the wild. 

Alyssa: :D :D :D So, let’s get to it, lady! Describe STRAY in nine words. GO!

Elissa: Fairy tales, feminism, fairy godmothers, faith, fantasy and food!

Alyssa: If you had to do a mash-up of two books, to describe your book (like, Kristin Cashore’s FIRE meets Rosamund Hodge’s CRUEL BEAUTY, or something), which two novels would you choose? They don’t necessarily have to be YA novels ;)

Elissa: STRAY was originally pitched as THE HANDMAID’S TALE meets Grimm’s Fairy Tales, which I think is a pretty accurate mash-up. 

Alyssa: What’s another fantasy, fairy tale-esque YA novel that you love?

Elissa: There are so many! I’m a huge fan of Heather Dixon’s ENTWINED, which is the reason my agent approached Greenwillow Books with STRAY. I love smart, subversive retellings, like Malinda Lo’s ASH, an LGBT version of Cinderella and Jane Yolen’s BRIAR ROSE, a Sleeping Beauty story retold through a Holocaust survivor. And I love any time a retelling gets really dark, like Robin McKinley’s DEERSKIN and Catherynne M. Valente’s SIX GUN SNOW WHITE. 

Alyssa: OMG I loved Entwined! How did you get the general idea for STRAY? It’s tagged as an original fairy tale :D

Elissa: STRAY has an incredibly nerdy origin story that can be traced back to my senior year of college. I was writing a paper about the representation of female characters in animation – as you do – and watching some of my favorite Disney movies when I started to notice how fairy godmothers were being portrayed in movies like CINDERELLA and SLEEPING BEAUTY. 

Here are these characters with exceptional magical abilities, yet they’re presented as nothing more than scatterbrained caretakers to the heroine. In contrast, Maleficent is just as powerful, but she’s a “bad fairy” that dares to use her powers for her own benefit. The concept that “bad” women (witches or evil queens) use magic to help themselves, while “good” women (fairy godmothers) use magic to help others became the basis of STRAY’s belief system.  

Alyssa: How about names? How did you go about choosing names for the characters in STRAY?

Elissa: Aislynn is meant to evoke “ashes”, as her story draws a lot of inspiration from Cinderella, while Tahlia is both a nod to an Italian version of Sleeping Beauty called “Sun, Moon and Talia” and my friend (and reader) Tal. Ford is named for my grandfather, Milford and Everett for my grade school crush. But most of the names were culled from an on-going “interesting name” list that I’m constantly adding to. Fantasy names can be tough to pick – you want them to feel unique and magical, but you want to avoid ones that are impossible to pronounce. My rule has become that if spellcheck comes up with the (no spelling suggestions) notation, it might not be the best choice for a name. 

Alyssa: Did you read lots of other fairy tales (like Grimm’s, as you mentioned, for example), as research?

Elissa: I did! I love doing research, which meant reading different versions of popular fairy tales and books that explore the historical and social impact of fairy tales, like Joan Gould’s excellent Spinning Straw Into Gold. I’m also an enormous fan of the musical INTO THE WOODS, which is a fantastic blend of several fairy tales, with their darker themes intact. I would listen to the soundtrack or watch old episodes of Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre whenever I needed help getting into a fairy tale mindset. 

Alyssa: What is something that you must always have, when writing? For example, coffee, 7UP, candy, etc.?

Elissa: I’m a pretty persnickety writer in the sense that I need to have complete silence while I work – no music or background noise for me! I’m not particular about drinks or snacks but if it’s chilly out (a rarity in LA) there is nothing better than a cup of chai tea and a slice of lemon poppy seed cake. 

Alyssa: Let’s talk romance – how do you like your romance, in terms of YA books?

Elissa: I like my romance but I tend to enjoy it more as a side dish, rather than the main course. Then again, I really like side dishes. Mmm, potatoes. 

Alyssa: STRAY is a standalone? Or will there be companion novels? Or sequel novels? :D

Elissa: STRAY is the first in a collection of stories that follow different characters in this same world, somewhat like The Enchanted Forest Chronicles or The Lunar Chronicles. 

Alyssa: Are you working on another novel at the moment? Can you tell us anything about it?

Elissa: I’m working on the next book in the collection, BURN. Though there will be two new protagonists (one who is introduced towards the end of STRAY), we’ll still be seeing a lot of Aislynn and the others. 

Alyssa: I know that authors have zero control over the covers, but I must ask – how do you feel about STRAY’s cover? Did Harper’s design team accurately portray the novel, in the cover? (Personally, I think the cover is wonderful!)

Elissa: Thank you! I had also heard that authors don’t get much control over covers, so I was pleasantly surprised when the Greenwillow team asked if I had any ideas. Little did they know I had an entire pinterest board dedicated to STRAY! One of the images I sent them was this amazing print by Melissa Nucera (aka ThisYearsGirls) on Etsy. Greenwillow also loved her work and sent her a copy of the book to see if she’d be interested in adapting that image for the cover. Luckily she was and ended up weaving a bunch of subtle nods to the story into the image. I could not be more thrilled with the final result. 

Alyssa: How about the title? Did you choose it? Your editor? Were there other titles in contention?

Elissa: It’s been STRAY since the beginning and I’m quite grateful that there was never any request to change it, since thinking up titles is pretty much the hardest thing ever. 

Alyssa: Is there anyone you’d like to mention, any critique partners or family members or friends, anyone that played a unique or special part in the creation of this story?

Elissa: My mom! She might not even know this, but so much of Aislynn is based off of her. She grew up in a strict, religious household, not as extreme as the Path, but with a lot of rules and guidelines that might seem unusual to someone who didn't grow up with them. For example, Orthodox Jews aren't allowed to mix meat and milk – ever. So something like eating a cheeseburger, which a lot of people do on a regular basis, was a really big deal for her. It was a significant, important form of rebellion against a belief system she was in the process of challenging. Similarly, a lot of Aislynn’s actions throughout the book might be perceived as insignificant in the face of such sexism and oppression. But when it’s the only culture you've ever known, “small” acts of rebellion can often be an incredible act of bravery. 

Alyssa: And that’s it from me! Thank you so much for stopping by, Elissa, and best of luck with the release!

Elissa: Thank you for having me!

About the Author:

Elissa Sussman is a writer, a reader and a pumpkin pie eater. 

Her debut novel, STRAY (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins), is a YA fantasy about fairy godmothers, magic and food. She received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College and in a previous life managed animators and organized spreadsheets at some of the best animation studios in the world, including Nickelodeon, Disney, Dreamworks and Sony Imageworks. You can see her name in the credits of THE CROODS, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA, THE 

She currently lives in Los Angeles with her boyfriend and their rescue mutt, Basil 

About the Book:

Stray by Elissa Sussman
Book One of the Four Sisters series
Publisher: Greenwillow
Publication Date: October 7, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads):

“I am grateful for my father, who keeps me good and sweet. I am grateful for my mother, who keeps her own heart guarded and safe. I am grateful for my adviser, who keeps me protected. I am grateful for the Path, which keeps me pure. Ever after.”

Princess Aislynn has long dreamed about attending her Introduction Ball, about dancing with the handsome suitors her adviser has chosen for her, about meeting her true love and starting her happily ever after.

When the night of the ball finally arrives and Nerine Academy is awash with roses and royalty, Aislynn wants nothing more than to dance the night away, dutifully following the Path that has been laid out for her. She does not intend to stray.

But try as she might, Aislynn has never quite managed to control the magic that burns within her-magic brought on by wicked, terrible desires that threaten the Path she has vowed to take.

After all, it is wrong to want what you do not need. Isn't it?

STRAY is the first in a collection of intertwined stories, all set in a world where magic is a curse that only women bear and society is dictated by a strict doctrine called The Path. A cross between The Handmaid’s Tale and Wicked, with a dash of Grimm and Disney thrown in, this original fairy tale will be released October 7th, 2014 from Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins.

The Giveaway:

Release Day Launch and Giveaway: The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris

Welcome to the release day launch for The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris! Be sure to stop by on Thursday, to see my blog tour review (and a swoony excerpt)! But for now, join me in celebrating the release of this awesome book!

The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris
Book One of The Fine Art of Pretending series
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Publication Date: September 30, 2014

Official Summary:

According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you're friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player.

With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.

But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.

About the Author:

Award-winning and Bestselling author Rachel Harris writes humorous love stories about sassy girls next door and the hot guys that make them swoon. Emotion, vibrant settings, and strong relationships are a staple in each of her books...and kissing. Lots of kissing. 

An admitted Diet Mountain Dew addict and homeschool mom, she gets through each day by laughing at herself, hugging her kids, and watching way too much Food Network with her husband. She writes young adult, new adult, and adult romance, and LOVES talking with readers. 

The Excerpt:

An exhale of breath leaves Brandon’s lips, almost like a laugh, and he scoots closer to me on the blanket. I twist my legs under myself, sitting tall as I face him. He cups my chin and tilts it toward him, drowning me in the now dark-green depths of his eyes, the cologne I gave him for his birthday filling my head. It’s woodsy and yummy and I always loved how it smelled on the store testers, but on Brandon, it’s even sexier. My eyes flutter closed, and I inhale again, this time slowly. Goose bumps prickle my arms, and my head gets fuzzy.

Brandon slides his hand down the column of my neck and brings the other up, threading his fingers through the hair at my nape. His breath fans across my cheek, and everything south of my bellybutton squeezes tight. 

When his mouth first meets mine, it’s hesitant, questioning. But as I move my lips with his, he quickly grows bolder, coaxing them apart.

Desire, pure and raw, electrifies my veins as his tongue sweeps my mouth. A whimpering sound springs from my chest, and instinctively, I wrap my arms around his neck, tugging him closer. Needing more. My teeth graze his full bottom lip, and I pull it, sucking on it gently.

He moans and knots his fingers in my hair, and a thrill dances down my back.

Brandon is an amazing kisser, just as I knew he would be. I have no control over my body’s reactions. I lose myself in his lips, his tongue, and his strong arms, forgetting time and space and even my surroundings—until Gabi’s snicker brings reality crashing around us, reminding me we have an audience.

And that I’m kissing Brandon.

We break apart, out of breath, and stare into each other’s eyes.

That was unexpected. 

The Giveaway:

Release Day Launch and Giveaway: As Long As You Love Me by Ann Aguirre

Welcome to the release day launch for As Long As You Love Me by Ann Aguirre! As many of you know, I loved this book, as well as the first one! Check out the post, and enter to win!

As Long As You Love Me by Ann Aguirre
Book Two of the 2B trilogy
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Publication Date: September 30, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads):

Most people dream about getting out of Sharon, Nebraska, but after three years away, Lauren Barrett is coming home. She has her reasons—missing her family, losing her college scholarship. But then there's the reason Lauren can't admit to anyone: Rob Conrad, her best friend's older brother. 

Football prowess and jaw-dropping good looks made Rob a star in high school. Out in the real world, his job and his relationships are going nowhere. He's the guy who women love and leave, not the one who makes them think of forever—until Lauren comes back to town, bringing old feelings and new dreams with her. 

Because the only thing more important than figuring out where you truly belong is finding the person you were meant to be with.

About the Author:

Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author and RITA winner with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. Ann likes books, emo music, action movies, and she writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens, published with Harlequin, Macmillan, and Penguin, among others.

The Excerpt:

Mom was asleep, so I checked my email. I had the usual spam, plus notes from all my former roomies, which made me happy. I missed all of them, even Max, though things were unspeakably awkward between us at the end. I opened Nadia’s first:
LB! You know I miss you like crazy, right? Courtney’s in your bed right now, and she has completely alphabetized my books. I’m pretty sure there will be a lending library program implemented the next time I get home from work. So how’s Nebraska? Did you find a job yet? Have you started applying to any schools? I have like ten more questions but you’ll get grumpy if I dump them on you all at once. Hug and kiss my family for me, okay? Write back soon or I’m sending my brother to track you down.
She didn’t mention the hot single dad she’d broken up with right before I left. Mr. Hot Ginger had dumped Nadia for her own good, which would drive her quietly crazy. I’d felt horrible about the timing, but there was little I could do about it. I hadn’t gotten to know him well before I left, but Ty seemed like a good guy. He was only a few years older than us, but already had a four-year-old. That was the crux of the conflict.

Writing back, I didn’t quite nail the tone, talking about Rob too much and inventing interesting anecdotes because there was so little going on. I could’ve mentioned Krista, but Nadia had never been as close to her, and there was some tension by the time she moved. Mostly I didn’t want Nadia to worry; things would be fine once I got a job and had less time to fret about whether I’d made the right decision.

I opened Angus’s email next:
Hey, you. Got your check. It appears not to be rubber, but I said you didn’t have to pay me back. I hate you for leaving. Come back right now. I’ll wait. This is me, waiting. It’s been at least five minutes. You’re shattering my faith in humanity, Lauren. Take responsibility for it! Not sure what you’ve heard from Nadia, but she’s such a hot mess. I can’t believe you abandoned us. All the light has left my life. All of it! Okay, enough drama. I’m working on getting over Josh. Classes suck but I will survive. (You’re singing it now, aren’t you?)
“Damn you, Angus Starr. You know me too well.” I got up on my bed with a hairbrush and sang two verses before reading on.
In all seriousness, there is a Lauren-sized hole in my life. Please don’t lose touch. Write soon. Love and hugs, Angus.
It was simpler writing back to Angus; our friendship was sweet and uncomplicated. Briefly I considered deleting Max’s email without opening it, but that seemed like an asshole move. In the end, I read it, two lines only:
I’m sorry about everything. Take care of yourself.

The Giveaway:

Monday, September 29, 2014

Book Blast and Giveaway: Silvern by Christina Farley

Welcome to the Nerd Blast for Silvern by Christina Farley! I loveeeee book one, Gilded, and I'm reading Silvern in a few weeks! Check out this awesome (and gorgeous) book!

Silvern by Christina Farley
Book Two of the Gilded series
Publisher: Skyscape
Publication Date: September 23, 2014

Official Summary:

Jae Hwa Lee has destroyed Haemosu, the dangerous demi-god that held her ancestors captive, and now she’s ready to forget about immortals and move on with her life. Then the god of darkness, Kud, sends an assassin to kill her. Jae escapes with the knowledge that Kud is seeking the lost White Tiger Orb, and joins the Guardians of Shinshi to seek out the orb before Kud can find it. 

But Kud is stronger and more devious than Haemosu ever was. Jae is soon painfully reminded that by making an enemy of Kud, she has placed her closest friends in danger, and must decide how much she can bear to sacrifice to defeat one of the most powerful immortals in all of Korea.

About the Author:

After teaching and traveling internationally for ten years, Christina started writing about her adventures, tossing in a little fiction for fun. This inspired her to write the GILDED series, a YA series based on Korean mythology about a Korean-American girl who takes her destiny into her own hands. 

Besides writing, Christina loves traveling, running, driving too fast, and eating dark chocolate. 

Christina writes fantasy for teens. She is represented by Jeff Ourvan of the Jennifer Lyons Literary, LLC. 
Learn more about Christina by visiting her at www.christinafarley.com or by chatting with her on Twitter @christinafarley.

The Giveaway:

Winner will receive a $50.00 Amazon Gift Card.

2014 Debut Authors Bash: Guest Post with Ryan Graudin (and GIVEAWAY!)

Welcome to the 2014 Debut Authors Bash, hosted by YA Reads! Today, I'm featuring the lovely Ryan Graudin! I've read Ryan's debut, All That Glows, and I'm reading The Walled City soon. Hopefully the same goes for All That Burns! So, here is the lovely post that I have prepared for you, with Ryan! She wrote haiku, and she has a giveaway for you all! Check it out!

Meet Ryan!

Here are the haiku Ryan wrote - one for each of her novels!

Eternity is
its own sort of emptiness.
Have I outlived it?
(All That Glows)

City of darkness.
Walls lead nowhere. Trapped inside.
Escape lies in you.
(The Walled City)

Here we go again.
Is anything worse than love?
Hearts fall, kingdoms burn.
(All That Burns)

About the Author:

Ryan Graudin grew up in Charleston and graduated from the College of Charleston with a degree in Creative Writing in 2009. She is the author of All That Glows and The Walled City. She resides near Charleston with her husband and wolf-dog. You can find her online at www.ryangraudin.com.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

About Ryan's debut novel:

All That Glows by Ryan Graudin
Book One of the All That Glows series
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: February 11, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads):

Emrys—a fiery, red-headed Fae—always embraced her life in the Highlands, far from the city’s draining technology, until she’s sent to London to rejoin the Faery Guard. But this isn’t any normal assignment—she’s sent to guard Prince Richard: Britain’s notorious, partying bad boy and soon-to-be King. The prince’s careless ways and royal blood make him the irresistible for the dark spirits that feed on mortals. Sweet, disheveled, and alive with adventure—Richard is one charge who will put Emrys’s magic and heart to the test.

When an ancient force begins preying on the monarchy, Emrys must hunt through the London’s magical underworld, facing down Banshees, Black Dogs and Green Women to find the one who threatens Richard’s life. In this chaos of dark magic, palace murders and paparazzi, Emrys finds herself facing an impossible choice. For despite all her powers, Emrys has discovered a force that burns brighter than magic: love.

Check out Ryan's other books!

(Click on the covers to go to the Goodreads page)

The Giveaway:

Ryan has offered a fantastic prize for USA residents! Win a signed copy of All That Glows and a signed ARC of The Walled City! USA only, please read the terms and conditions in the Rafflecopter. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Darling Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt

Darling Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt
Book Seven of the Maiden Lane series
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: October 14, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***

Summary (from Goodreads):


Falsely accused of murder and mute from a near-fatal beating, Apollo Greaves, Viscount Kilbourne has escaped from Bedlam. With the Crown's soldiers at his heels, he finds refuge in the ruins of a pleasure garden, toiling as a simple gardener. But when a vivacious young woman moves in, he's quickly driven to distraction . . . 


London's premier actress, Lily Stump, is down on her luck when she's forced to move into a scorched theatre with her maid and small son. But she and her tiny family aren't the only inhabitants—a silent, hulking beast of a man also calls the charred ruins home. Yet when she catches him reading her plays, Lily realizes there's more to this man than meets the eye.


Though scorching passion draws them together, Apollo knows that Lily is keeping secrets. When his past catches up with him, he's forced to make a choice: his love for Lily . . . or the explosive truth that will set him free.

What I Liked:

Ohhh, guys, it's been over a year since I've read an Elizabeth Hoyt book! Her Maiden Lane series is my favorite historical romance series EVER, so you can imagine how antsy I was to get my hands on this one. THANK YOU, GRAND CENTRAL!!

Apollo Greaves has just escaped Bedlam, with the help of his sister and his new brother-in-law, the Duke of Wakefield. Apollo is currently redesigning the garden in the ruined Harte's Folly when Lily Stump moves into the theater with her seven-year-old son and nursemaid, Maude. Lily is a well-known actress of London, but she hasn't had much success recently. When the two meet, it's two worlds colliding, worlds of secrets, worlds of danger, worlds of sparks...

We all know my favorite book of the series was Duke of Midnight, and that still sticks, but this one is probably tied with the remaining five books for my number two favorite. I could not wait to dive into Apollo's story, and to a relatively new character's story! Lily was an interesting character, and I was intrigued by the story of her having a seven-year-old son.

Apollo is on the run from Bedlam, and Lily needs a place to stay. Set in the lush background of a horribly burned theater and garden, most of the interactions between Lily and Apollo occur there, in the garden. Lots of time for the author to show off Apollo's physical prowess. Lots of time for Indio (Lily's son) to become beholden to Apollo, a potential father-figure that he never had. 

I really liked Lily - she isn't a noblewoman, so she has no title or rank. She's a successful but struggling actress that is desperately trying to hide her son from society's keen eye. Lily has a spine of steel, but she is also very soft and gentle. Caring for Apollo comes naturally to her - after she gets past her initial suspicion and wariness.

Apollo... ah, poor guy. He cannot speak for a good portion of the book, because of injuries sustained at Bedlam. You really have to feel for the guy - it was heartbreaking to read about his interactions with everyone else, via pen/paper or gestures. However, I think the inability to speak made him a very astute and observant person - if he wasn't already. I really like Apollo!

The romance is very sweet. Lily and Apollo fall in love so seamlessly, despite Lily not knowing much about Apollo - she doesn't find out that he is a viscount, or that he is on the run for (alleged) murder, until close to the end of the book. Imagine her surprise. Nevertheless, I found the romance sweet, not very steamy, but that was okay.

I like how story progressed in this book. We get to see many characters from previous book, like Maximus, Artemis, Hero, Phoebe, James... but we also meet new characters, like the Duke of Montgomery, who is quite the character. I had hoped that book nine would be about him, but I see that book nine features Asa. That's cool.  In any case, I also like how things wrap up - finding the real murderer of Apollo's friends is important, so that Apollo can have his name cleared, and so that he can take his place as Viscount Kilbourne. The ending is definitely a wonderful ending, in my opinion!

What I Did Not Like:

I can't think of anything specifically... I think I had hoped for more between Lily and Apollo? There are plenty of sentimental scenes, which deal with feelings and emotions and totally sweet gestures, But in terms of the physical, it's kind of all plopped in at the end, several scenes squeezed in just as the book finishes. Which is okay... but dispersing the steaminess would have been more effective? In my opinion. But this is much of a complaint, more like an observation.

Would I Recommend It:

YEESSS. So much. Read the entire Maiden Lane series, read book six, read this book, read them all. It's a companion series, so you don't quite have to read the previous six to read book seven, and so on. Elizabeth Hoyt is hands-down my favorite adult historical romance author - I just love her work!


4 stars. A lovely addition to this fabulous series! Book eight now... I cannot wait to read James and Phoebe's story! And ooo, book nine, Asa. Maybe Hoyt can get a contract for a book ten, featuring Montgomery!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Review: Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis

Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: October 14, 2014
Rating: 3 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

Princess Snow is missing.

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back-but that's assuming she wants to return at all.

Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.

When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane's arrival was far from accidental, and she's pulled into the heart of a war she's risked everything to avoid.

In her enthralling debut, R.C. Lewis weaves the tale of a princess on the run from painful secrets . . . and a poisonous queen. With the galaxy's future-and her own-in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.

What I Liked:

I really wished I liked this one more! I mean, three stars is still positive, but I was hoping to really enjoy this book. Somewhere along the lines, the book fell a bit short for me. Still, it was a very well-written debut, and a cool story.

Princess Snow has been missing for eight years, and the King blames the Exiles. But Snow - Essie - didn't just disappear. She is alive and well on a remote planet far away from her home on Windsong, another planet. When a young man's ship crashes on Thanda, it isn't a coincidence. Suddenly, Essie finds herself on the run, and she doesn't know who to trust.

The writing in this book was really fluid and well-developed, which is something that I noticed and enjoyed. This novel is a fantasy/futuristic-ish type of novel, and Snow has her own accent and use of language. Several other characters also have accents and whatnot - basically, my point is, Lewis did an excellent job of writing the accents and feel of the story, through the writing. 

The novel was interesting, at the very least. It was a bit predictable for sure, but I wanted to keep reading, to find out what would happen. Essie gets kidnapped, like, ten times in this book, so every time she had to fly to somewhere else, I wondered where the story was going. In general, I think the plot of this book is pretty basic, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's not the best thing either.

Essie is a strange character. In the very beginning of the book, we get to see a lot of her character, almost immediately. She's a strong fighter (meaning, physical fighting), but she is also extremely clever when it comes to gadgets and technology and coding. Which is awesome, I can relate to that. I think, overall, I liked Essie, but I'm not really sure. I was kind of meh towards the characters in this book.

For those wondering, yes, there is romance in this book, and no, there is no love triangle. I liked the romance, even if it was a bit weird at first, and everything ended all happy and perfect. There definitely could have been more physical scenes between Essie and Dane, given the nature of their personalities. But anyway.

Overall, I think I liked this book. It was okay, and I definitely don't feel NEGATIVELY towards the book. I just don't feel particular positive towards it, either.

What I Did Not Like:

I have to admit, the book was a little dry sometimes. Boring, I mean. There was a lot going on, and I always wanted to know what was happening and what would happen next. But it seemed like the story went in circles after a while, and I got a little bored. The last 40%, I kind of fast-read. Not skimmed, but not read with the same care that I read the first part of the book. 

I didn't really connect with any of the characters, at least solidly, anyway. This book is written in first-person - Essie's point-of-view - but I don't think that really helped me connect with her. I didn't really root for her as the story progressed. 

I didn't care much for Dane, honestly. I mean, he did too many things that made me not like him much, but then, I liked the romance. So I was conflicted. But Dane by himself, meh, I didn't really care for him. 

I've seen this book compared to the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, and not in a good way. Meaning - this book is much too similar to the Lunar Chronicles. I've only read Cinder, but I can TOTALLY see that. With all the tech and drones and coding and princess fantasy business, it does seem eerily similar to Meyer's debut.

I guess there were a lot of parts of this book that I didn't really care for, or that bored me.

Would I Recommend It:

Ah. Well, it's an interesting fantasy novel with futuristic elements to it, so I would read it just to experience that interesting mix. But it was a tiny bit of a disappointment, so I wouldn't go rush to read this one. Definitely read it if it's a review book or you already pre-orders it or something. 


3 stars. Meh. This one was okay, but I didn't love it, like I wanted to. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for future Lewis novels! Though I believe this one is a standalone.

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