Book Review: Bracelet of Bones (Viking Sagas #1) by Kevin Crossley-Holland

Book Review: Bracelet of Bones (Viking Sagas #1) by Kevin Crossley-HollandBracelet of Bones by Kevin Crossley-Holland
Series: Viking Sagas #1
Published by Quercus Books on March 11, 2014
Genres: Adventure, Historical Fiction, Middle Grade
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads
1 Stars
It is 1036. Halfdan is a Viking mercenary who is determined to travel to Constantinople and become one of the Viking Guard serving Empress Zoe. He promises to take his daughter, but one morning Solveig wakes up to find him gone. Setting off in her own tiny boat, she is determined to make the journey from Norway to the breathtaking city. Her boat is washed up, but Solveig is undeterred. What awaits Solveig as she continues on her summer journey across the world? She finds passage with Viking traders, witnesses the immolation of a young slave girl and learns to fight. She sees the clashes between those who praise her Norse Gods and the new Christians. In this perilous and exciting world, a young girl alone could be quickly endangered or made a slave. Will Solveig live to see her father again, and if she survives, will she remain free? A glittering novel that explores friendship and betrayal, the father-daughter relationship, the clash of religions and the journey from childhood to adulthood.

Book Review:

From the summary, BRACELET OF BONES sounds awesome. After being left behind by her father, fourteen-year-old Solveig travels from Norway to Miklagard (Constantinople) by herself. For a girl who has never gone to the local market by herself, the prospect of such a journey is overwhelming, but Solveig loves her father and wants to be with him.

The author takes something that should be super exciting — Solveig’s journey — and makes it super boring. BRACELET OF BONES is for grades 5 and up, but I can’t see younger readers sticking with this book because there’s just not a lot happening! My younger self might have finished it, but that’s only because I’ve always had a thing about finishing books.

This book is the start of a series, which wasn’t something I realized until I finished it and saw the preview for book two. So BRACELET OF BONES is the story of Solveig’s journey from Norway to Miklagard, and only that journey. It’s somewhat repetitive, and I just feel like nothing happened. Solveig took a boat ride. Solveig took another boat ride. Solveig took a third boat ride.

I think some of my apathy for the book was due to the writing style and Solveig herself. The writing is pretty simple, which is okay because it’s a middle grade book and aimed towards younger readers. But I lost count of the “Solveig thought this” or “Solveig thought that” type of sentences, or the times she exclaimed or whispered or cried … she never just said anything. Call me overly picky, but that sort of writing pulls me out of a story. And Solveig … I never connected with her. I felt like I was watching the events of the book rather than being with her on her journey.

I wanted to like BRACELET OF BONES. I mean, Vikings? A Viking girl going on a grand adventure? That should be right up my alley. Unfortunately, this book just wasn’t for me.

Socialize with the author:

Kevin Crossley-Holland:
Website

– leeanna

Book Review: The Reaver (The Sundering #4) by Richard Lee Byers

Book Review: The Reaver (The Sundering #4) by Richard Lee ByersThe Reaver by Richard Lee Byers
Series: Forgotten Realms, The Sundering
Published by Wizards of the Coast on February 4, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
In the 4th book of the multi-author Sundering series launched by New York Times best-selling author R.A. Salvatore, Richard Lee Byers introduces Anton Marivaldi—a renowned reaver with an insatiable thirst for bounty and a moral compass that always leads him toward the evil he’s never tried.

Endless, pounding rain afflict the Sea of Fallen Stars and the coastal regions surrounding it. Harvests are failing, travel and trade are disrupted, and civilized forces are giving way to the deluges caused by the storms. In panic and despair, many have turned to the goddess Umberlee, Queen of the Deeps, offering her sacrifices with hope that they will be spared the inevitable reckoning of her perpetual tempest.

Evendur Highcastle, undead pirate captain, risen from the depths to assume the mantle of Umberlee’s Chosen, takes advantage of the people's desperation to strike for both spiritual and temporal power in her name.

Vying with Highcastle for the hearts and minds of the people is Stedd Whitehorn, a little boy and the chosen of a god thought lost to time: Lathander, the Morninglord. In a time of such upheaval, Stedd’s message of renewal and hope runs in stark contrast to the savage ethos of Highcastle and his waveservants.

When Anton captures the boy in order to collect Highcastle’s considerable bounty, the reaver is quickly caught in the riptide caused by the sundering of worlds.

Book Review:

Previous books in The Sundering series have mentioned the Chosen: mortals blessed by the gods. In THE REAVER, we follow Stedd Whitehorn, Chosen of Lathander. Stedd’s a young boy on his own, traveling across the length of Faerun. He’s wanted by the evil sea goddess Umberlee, as well as Szass Tam, the undead ruler of Thay. Almost everyone he meets has ulterior motives, from wanting to sell him to use his powers for their own gain. Chief among those is Anton Marivaldi, a pirate with a lust for gold and no care for good or evil.

I got a kick out of Anton. I typically enjoy characters that aren’t all good, and Anton isn’t. He lies to Stedd, promising to help him reach his destination, all the while planning to sell him. Naturally it’s not that easy, for forces conspire against both of them. Anton loses Stedd, leaving the field open for Red Wizard Umara to sneak in for her own opportunity to take the Chosen boy for her masters. But once Stedd realizes what’s up, he’s not such an easy target, and tries to make both Anton and Umara think about their decisions. They all end up working together, Anton and Umara continually debating the goodness Stedd brings out in them.

THE REAVER is a fast-paced book, full of action scenes and character growth. Sometimes I have trouble imagining sword and/or sorcery fights, but I thought the author did an excellent job of describing blow by blow while keeping the fight scenes exciting. All of the characters experience growth. Stedd learns more about what Lathander has in mind for him while inspiring others to think about their own actions. Anton faces the mistakes that led to piracy, but isn’t always ready to give up his bad ways. Umara reflects on the rule of undead in Thayan society, and wonders if they should remain in power.

In THE REAVER, we also get to see more of the Sundering’s effects on the common people. The weather sucks — the Great Rain has flooded coastal villages and cities, preventing crops from growing. As a result, people are starving, and with the encouragement of Umberlee’s priests, they’ll happily kill each other for a scrap of food. Umberlee is one nasty goddess; I wouldn’t want to be on her bad side.

All in all, I enjoyed THE REAVER. It’s fun, action-packed, and a good tale. While Stedd’s story concluded at the end of the book, I hope there’s more in store for Anton and Umara.

Socialize with the author:

Richard Lee Byers:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Adversary (The Sundering #3) by Erin M. Evans

Book Review: The Adversary (The Sundering #3) by Erin M. EvansThe Adversary by Erin M. Evans
Series: Forgotten Realms, The Sundering
Published by Wizards of the Coast on December 3, 2013
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
4 Stars
In the 3rd book of the multi-author SUNDERING series kicked off by New York Times best-selling author R.A. Salvatore, the award-winning Erin M. Evans throws her signature character Farideh into a maelstrom of devilish politics and magical intrigue. Captured by Netherese agents and locked away in a prison camp, Farideh quickly discovers her fellow prisoners are not simply enemies of Netheril, but people known as Chosen who possess hidden powers, powers that Netheril is eager to exploit—or destroy. As Farideh’s friends and sister race across the landscape on a desperate rescue mission, Farideh is drawn deeper into the mystery of the Netherese plot alongside two undercover Harper agents. But will her closest ally turn out to be an adversary from her past?

Book Review:

THE ADVERSARY is the third book in The Sundering series, and also the third book about tieflings Farideh and Havilar. If you’re new to The Sundering, you don’t need to have read the previous books. If you haven’t read the Brimstone Angel books which introduce Farideh and Havilar, you should be okay to start their tale with THE ADVERSARY. There’s a fair amount of background information on their previous adventures that should fill you in. I did have some confusion in the first half of the book, but that was because I had read BRIMSTONE ANGELS but not LESSER EVILS — I skipped book two — but eventually everything fell into place for me.

Erin M. Evan writes some amazing characters. Farideh is so real. I emphasized with her struggle to protect her sister, as well as her wish to do the right thing. Poor Farideh — every time she tries to do the right thing, she gets herself in more trouble. But that’s what happens when you make a deal with a devil, as Farideh did. Yes, she’s a somewhat reluctant warlock, but that doesn’t change the fact that she’s a warlock. And one with an important heritage, which has other devils after her twin Havilar. I really liked that Farideh has such a strong desire to protect Havilar, instead of say, wanting to protect a lover.

All the other characters are just as developed, with their own stories. I’m just going to mention one other: Mehen. Mehen adopted the girls when they were abandoned as babies, and man, you have got to feel for the poor dragonborn. It’s so obvious he cares for both of his daughters, and I can’t imagine his pain when Farideh and Havilar disappear for seven years. Yeah… the twins get put into stasis by a devil for seven years because Farideh didn’t word her bargain clearly enough. Ouch, right? When the girls come back, they jump right into trouble again, leaving Mehen to try and rescue Farideh before she’s captured as an agent of the Shade.

Camps for the Chosen — mortals blessed by the gods — have been mentioned in previous books in the series. THE ADVERSARY takes us into one of those camps. It’s a chance to see how and why the Chosen are important, and what the gods want with them. Because of the deal she made to protect herself and Havilar, Farideh gets mixed up with a wizard in control of a camp. But when she finds out what the wizard is really doing with the Chosen, she tries to stop it … only to have something even worse happen.

THE ADVERSARY has layers upon layers of plot and intrigue, and sometimes I was like, “What the heck is going on? Who are these people?” But around the halfway point, the book started coming together for me, and I went from “Huh?” to “Wow. I didn’t see that coming.” I did find it to be a little long, but that might have been because of my confusion at the start.

The ending of THE ADVERSARY had me going “Wowza!” I’m eagerly looking forward to FIRE IN THE BLOOD (October 2014) so I can see what will happen next with Farideh and Havilar.

Lastly, I kinda love the cover art for the book. Finally a full-length image of Farideh!

Socialize with the author:

Erin M. Evans:
Website
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Twitter

– leeanna

The Reading Machine [1]

reading machine

After a lot of deliberation, I’ve decided to join Stacking the Shelves. It’s hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, and you can find out all about it here.

Basically, everyone shares their book hauls for the week. I always enjoy visiting these posts on other blogs, so it’s finally time to join in the fun.

But I’m going to do things a little differently. For my Stacking the Shelves, or as I’m calling it, The Reading Machine, I’m going to list the books I have that I’ll be reading in the upcoming week. Well, I’ll hopefully get to these. This is part of my new organization plan :D

The Reading Machine:

Sous Chef by Michael Gibney
for review
Expiration Day by William Campbell Powell
for review
Half Bad by Sally Green
for review
The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy
for fun
 
Night of the Hunter by R.A. Salvatore
for review
No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale
for review
The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
for fun
 

♥ Do you like the owl logo on the graphic? Or does it look odd? I think he blends in, so he might have to go….

– leeanna

Book Review: Knight Assassin by Rima Jean

Book Review: Knight Assassin by Rima JeanKnight Assassin by Rima Jean
Published by Entangled Teen on March 4, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 242
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
2 Stars
Seventeen-year-old Zayn has special powers she cannot control—powers that others fear and covet. Powers that cause the Templar Knights to burn Zayn’s mother at the stake for witchcraft. When a mysterious stranger tempts Zayn to become the first female member of the heretical Assassins, the chance to seek her revenge lures her in. She trains to harness her supernatural strength and agility, and then enters the King of Jerusalem's court in disguise with the assignment to assassinate Guy de Molay, her mother’s condemner. But once there, she discovers Earic Goodwin, the childhood friend who still holds her heart, among the knights—and his ocean-blue eyes don’t miss a thing. Will vengeance be worth the life of the one love she has left?

Book Review:

Featuring a female assassin with magical powers, KNIGHT ASSASSIN has a lot of elements that I normally like. But for some reason, I wasn’t able to get into the book. It just didn’t click for me.

Zayn has mysterious powers she can’t control, powers that make her faster and stronger than others. She and her mother are not welcome in their village, and keep to themselves. When she rejects the marriage proposal of an important man in the village, her mother is burned at the stake, accused of being a witch. Zayn herself is raped by Guy de Molay, son of the lord of the land.

Emotionally and physically abused, and without her beloved mother, Zayn doesn’t know what to do. She just wants to die. But before she can do anything, she’s rescued by Junaid, an Assassin of a heretical Islamic sect. Because of her rumored abilities, Zayn is given the opportunity to train as an Assassin. Thirsting for revenge against Guy, she goes for it, becoming the first female Assassin.

Although both Christianity and Islam play a role in the book, the author doesn’t shove religion down anyone’s throats. In fact, Zayn is not religious at all. Take the Dome of the Rock — both religions find it important, and fought over it. Zayn can’t understand why anyone would kill over a rubble-filled spot. In a time (~1180) where people were extremely religious, it was refreshing to see a main character who wasn’t. Zayn really only joins the Nizari Isma’ili so she can gain the skills she’ll need to kill Guy.

The romance wasn’t a big portion of the book, which I liked. Zayn has no use for men after her rape, and she didn’t really care for them before, either. She wanted to be independent, not shackled to any man in marriage. But she runs into Earic Goodwin, a Saxon Knight Templar, while trying to accomplish her assassination of Guy. She vaguely knew Earic when they were children, and almost the minute she sees him again, she starts thinking she loves him. I just didn’t feel any chemistry between them. I wish they had stayed friends, and let the romance come along in the next book.

At 242 pages, KNIGHT ASSASSIN isn’t too long, but it read like a longer book for me. I think this was because of flashbacks, which the author would use whenever an important event from the past came up, such as Zayn and Earic’s first meeting.

I did like that the book was set in Syria and Jerusalem. It’s good to have a fantasy/historical romance that isn’t set in medieval England. However, I didn’t get a good sense of the world, other than the types of food they ate. I also wanted to know more about Zayn’s powers. I’m still confused on what they actually are. I’m guessing that will be explained more in the next book.

Overall, KNIGHT ASSASSIN was missing something for me. It was okay, but flawed.

Socialize with the author:

Rima Jean:
Website
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: The Winner’s Curse (Winner’s Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski

Book Review: The Winner’s Curse (Winner’s Trilogy #1) by Marie RutkoskiThe Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Series: Winner's Trilogy #1
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) on March 4, 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 355
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Book Review:

“Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married.”

That sentence in the summary for THE WINNER’S CURSE is what caught my attention. Immediately I wanted to know what sort of world Kestrel lived in, that those would be her only choices. And I wanted to know what she would do, because I was sure it wasn’t going to be either one of those things. That wouldn’t have made for a very exciting book.

THE WINNER’S CURSE is a book with a lot of hype behind it. A lot of other readers have LOVED it. For me, it was a so-so book, mainly because I never got behind the romantic relationship. And as that relationship is pretty important to several of the events in the book, I had an okay reading experience. Not a great one, but I probably will continue this trilogy, because I do want to see what will happen next.

Kestrel is a Valorian. Her people have conquered the the Herrani, turning them into slaves in their own land. The Valorians are great warriors, especially Kestrel’s father, who was responsible for the victory over the Herrani. General Trajan expects his daughter to follow in his footsteps by joining the military, and while Kestrel is a brilliant tactician, she can’t fight very well and doesn’t want to kill anyone. But she doesn’t really want to marry, either. She wants to play the piano, but playing music isn’t something the Valorians regard highly.

When a slave goes up for sale, one who supposedly sings, but is defiant on the block, Kestrel impulsively buys him. You know what happens next: forbidden love develops between Kestrel and Arin. At least their relationship wasn’t insta-love, but I just didn’t feel any chemistry between them. They spend time getting to know each other, Kestrel asking Arin to always be honest with her, but … I don’t know. I’m not going to spoil the story, but as I said above, their feelings for each other turn out to be quite important, and because I didn’t feel the relationship, I was meh on a lot of the events.

I also wanted more worldbuilding in the book. In the Author’s Note, the author says she was inspired by the Greco-Roman period after Rome conquered Greece. Little bits of the world are revealed, such as all Valorians wearing weapons, or the wall color in a Herrani room signifying its usage. But I had a lot of unanswered questions, from where Valoria was located in comparison to Herran, to why Kestrel had to have an escort for going out in public.

THE WINNER’S CURSE does unfurl slowly, the story building layer upon layer. I did enjoy that aspect, as well as the writer’s style. Marie Rutkoski has a way of describing things in this book that I found poetic but readable. Here’s an example from Arin’s auction: “The bidding spiraled higher, each voice spurring the next until it seemed that a roped arrow was shooting through the members of the crowd, binding them together, drawing them tight with excitement (p. 14, ARC).”

While THE WINNER’S CURSE didn’t quite hit the mark for me, it wasn’t bad, and if you’re a fan of forbidden relationships, you might enjoy it more than I did.

Socialize with the author:

Marie Rutkoski:
Website
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Twitter

– leeanna

Blog Tour: Third Daughter by Susan Kaye Quinn

third daughter

Today I have a stop on the tour for THIRD DAUGHTER by Susan Kaye Quinn. The tour is hosted by I Am A Reader and you can check out all the other stops.

third daughter by susan kaye quinnInfo:
Title: Third Daughter
Author: Susan Kaye Quinn
Release Date: December 13, 2013
Series: The Dharian Affairs Trilogy #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Steampunk, Romance
Page Count: 346

Summary:

kyships, saber duels, and lots of royal intrigue… and, of course, kissing.

The Third Daughter of the Queen wants her birthday to arrive so she’ll be free to marry for love, but rumors of a new flying weapon may force her to accept a barbarian prince’s proposal for a peace-brokering marriage. Desperate to marry the charming courtesan she loves, Aniri agrees to the prince’s proposal as a subterfuge in order to spy on him, find the weapon, and hopefully avoid both war and an arranged marriage to a man she does not love.

Third Daughter is the first book in the The Dharian Affairs Trilogy (Third Daughter, Second Daughter, First Daughter). This steampunk-goes-to-Bollywood (Bollypunk!) romance that takes place in an east-Indian-flavored alternate world filled with skyships, saber duels, and lots of royal intrigue. And, of course, kissing. (summary from goodreads)

Excerpt:

The day was coming: Aniri could almost taste its nearness like the mouth-watering scent of a long-hungered meal just outside of reach. Soon she would be free: free of the court, free to kiss in broad daylight, free to leave Dharia behind and find the vermin who killed her father. Devesh had promised to help her search his country until they found the men responsible. She ached for that day like she did for Devesh. Soon she would have both.

When the intensity of their kiss made her gasp for breath, she broke it and leaned against him. “Two weeks, Dev,” she whispered. “Just two. And I’ll be eighteen.”

“I’m counting the days, my love.”

His intense gaze made her suddenly shy. She turned her attention to toying with the collar that brushed his neck. “You will say yes, won’t you? When I ask?”

He gently pulled her face up to look at him. “When you are free to marry for love, Third Daughter of the Queen, you had better not ask anyone other than me. I’ll have to hang myself from the nearest tree or else die of a broken heart.”

Her shyness was banished in a stroke. “Aren’t courtesans supposed to be the ones breaking hearts?”

“Truly,” he said with mock despair. “There’s nothing more sad than a broken-hearted courtesan. I would have to commit suicide just out of professional courtesy.”

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:

author susan kaye quinnSusan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, which is young adult science fiction. The Dharian Affairs trilogy is her excuse to dress up in corsets and fight with swords. She also has a dark-and-gritty SF serial called The Debt Collector and a middle grade fantasy called Faery Swap. It’s possible she’s easily distracted. She always has more speculative fiction fun in the works. You can find out what she’s up to by subscribing to her newsletter (hint: new subscribers get a free short story!).
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

– leeanna

Monthly Summary: February 2014


in february…

Even though I know February is a short month, the end of it always catches me by surprise. Reading 22 books was really my big accomplishment.

I haven’t been too active in the blogosphere lately, nor have I been spending a ton of time on the computer. I’ve had a few personal things happen, so I haven’t felt very social. So sorry if I haven’t stopped by your blog lately!

   

Reviews Posted:

Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy #1) by Danielle L. Jensen.
Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Super Villain by Richard Roberts.
The Boleyn Bride by Brandy Purdy.
Branded (Sinners #1) by Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki.
Black Dog (Black Dog #1) by Rachel Neumeier.
Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes.
Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy by Elizabeth Kiem.
Fighting for the Edge (Edge #3) by Jennifer Comeaux.
Night Owls (Night Owls #1) by Lauren M. Roy.
Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer.
Such Sweet Sorrow by Jenny Trout.
The Seers (The Holders #2) by Julianna Scott.

Waiting on Wednesday:
Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen.
The Wizard’s Promise by Cassandra Rose Clarke.

Other Stuff:
Discussion: Do You Use Facebook?
Author Interview: Rachel Neumeier.
Author Interview: Danielle L. Jensen.


in march…

Get ahead! I’m going to have some rough months coming up, so I want to be organized and get ahead. Although I said that last month… so we’ll see ;)

– leeanna

Author Interview: Danielle L. Jensen

stolen songbird tour banner

As part of my stop on the tour for STOLEN SONGBIRD by Danielle L. Jensen, I have an interview with the author. I’ve also posted my review of STOLEN SONGBIRD, which includes pictures, so make sure to check that out.

Thanks, Danielle, for answering my questions!

author interview with danielle l. jensen

Interview with Danielle L. Jensen:

Where did the idea for STOLEN SONGBIRD come from? And why trolls? :D

The setting came first, the trolls came second. I had a dream about a city that had been buried by rubble, and it sort of stuck in my brain. The trolls came into being when I started thinking about what sort of creatures would inhabit such a place. I called them trolls and ended up using a bit of troll mythology because I wanted to name them something people would already have negative associations with.

I read in a guest post that you love villains as protagonists. Which made me cheer, because I like that too! Are there any villains in favorite books that you’d love to see as protagonists?

Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes. I LOVE all things Sherlock Holmes. I watch both Elementary and Sherlock, I adore the recent film versions, and I’ve read most of the original literature. If I could have a superpower, it would be to possess extreme powers of deduction. In my opinion, Moriarty is exactly like Sherlock, but he/she (Natalie Dormer for the win!) uses his/her powers for evil. If I came across a television show/movie/book told from Moriarty’s point of view, I’d be all over it like nobody’s business. Especially if it stared Natalie Dormer.

Is there anything you really liked in STOLEN SONGBIRD that didn’t make the final book?

Once upon a time, STOLEN SONGBIRD had a prologue that I reluctantly had to give up. It was from Tristan’s POV, and it was the scene in which his aunt had the foretelling about how the curse would be broken. It was so awesome, but prologues are a bit of an anathema in YA, so it didn’t get to stay.

When you aren’t pounding away crazily at the keyboard, what do you do? Other than think of ways to torture Cécile and Tristan?

I think about ways to torture the other characters that everyone loves so much ;-)

I do have another job that pays my bills, so I spend lots of time at that. There are certain television programs I enjoy like Sherlock, Game of Thrones, Modern Family, and Big Bang Theory. I spend quite a bit of time with my family and friends, which often involves the consumption of food and cocktails. In the summer, I like hiking in the mountains, and in the winter… Well, I am a decent snowboarder and skier, but I hate the cold. This is problematic given I live in Canada.

What was the push that made you try writing a book? How did you stick with it?

Back when I was working in finance, a friend and co-worker of mine suggested we try writing a romance novel. I’d always been a big reader, so I thought maybe it would be fun. My first few attempts were TERRIBLE and unfinished, but once I switched over to writing fantasy, it got better. Once I switched to YA, I got even better. STOLEN SONGBIRD was the fourth novel I fully completed and edited, and the third I queried. I stuck with it mostly because I found I really enjoyed writing, and I wanted to pursue a career doing something I loved.

What are some of your recent favorite books? Do you have any “comfort books” or all time favorites that you turn to when you need a pick-me-up?

I recently read The Cuckoo’s Calling, which, as I’m sure you all know, is the novel JK Rowling wrote under a pen name. I actually enjoyed it as much as I did the Harry Potter books. As far as YA goes, I’ve recently read and loved The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater and Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson. My to-read stack is massive, and mostly consists of 2014 YA debuts. I rarely reread books anymore. No time!

Any question you’ve wanted to answer in an interview, but you haven’t been asked yet… ?

Yup. Who is #1 on your YA Book Boyfriend List. Answer: Will Herondale from The Infernal Devices. When it comes to love triangles, I’m always on the bad boy’s team!

About the book:

Author Interview: Danielle L. JensenStolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Malediction Trilogy #1
Published by Strange Chemistry on April 1, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 436
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
5 Stars
For those who have loved Seraphina and Graceling comes another truly fabulous fantasy...

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.

About the author:

author danielle l. jensenDanielle was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. At the insistence of the left side of her brain, she graduated in 2003 from the University of Calgary with a bachelor’s degree in finance. But the right side of her brain has ever been mutinous; and in 2010, it sent her back to school to complete an entirely impractical English literature degree at Mount Royal University and to pursue publication. Much to her satisfaction, the right side shows no sign of relinquishing its domination.
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– leeanna

Book Review: Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy #1) by Danielle L. Jensen

Book Review: Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy #1) by Danielle L. JensenStolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Malediction Trilogy #1
Published by Strange Chemistry on April 1, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 436
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
5 Stars
For those who have loved Seraphina and Graceling comes another truly fabulous fantasy...

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.

stolen songbird tour banner

The second I finished reading STOLEN SONGBIRD, I emailed Strange Chemistry and begged them to let me be on the tour for the book. I might have jumped around when they said yes. :D So today I’m super happy to share my review of the book, and an interview with author Danielle L. Jensen.

I wrote a super long review, so there’s a cookie for you if you make it through!

Book Review:

STOLEN SONGBIRD had me at trolls. Yes, there are TROLLS in this book. I’ve been waiting forever for a troll book, and STOLEN SONGBIRD was more than worth the wait. This is a book I savored, and I didn’t want to turn the last page because I didn’t want it to end!

Based on my years of World of Warcraft and other fantasy games/books/art/etc., I sort of expected the trolls to look like this:

troll for stolen songbird book review

But Danielle L. Jensen’s trolls look a bit more like this:

troll for stolen songbird book review

The trolls of the court, anyway. They’re inbred, creepy, and powerful beyond belief. The magic of the royal family keeps the city and its inhabitants from being crushed to death. Cursed by a witch five hundred years ago, Trollus is a city buried and forgotten beneath the world.

Cécile is a gifted singer, about to start her career when she is kidnapped and taken to Trollus. Before she knows it, she’s bonded to the troll prince Tristan; their bonding is supposed to undo the curse keeping the trolls caged away from the rest of the world. Plunged into a life she doesn’t want, Cécile doesn’t spend a lot of time crying. She doesn’t give up her hope of escape, but she bides her time, learning what she can of the trolls and their lives.

That’s how she becomes invested in the plight of the half-bloods. In Trollus, if you aren’t a full-blooded troll, you’re less than nothing. Half-bloods are property, bought and sold as slaves to the powerful, or sent to short lives in the mines.

And let’s not forget Cécile’s new husband, Tristan. Their relationship gets off to a rather rocky start, as neither want to be married, and trolls hate humans. There’s lot of fighting, but because they are bonded, they can sense each other’s feelings, and Cécile is surprised by a lot of what she senses from Tristan. For example, when their bonding fails to end the curse, Tristan is actually relieved, instead of upset.

Their relationship is one I really liked. I’m critical on relationships in YA books, because all too often they are based on insta-lust. Not so with these two. Tristan is horrible to Cécile in public, keeping up his cover of hating humans, but in private, he does nice things for her, like making a flashlight so she can see in Trollus. Over time, they develop real feelings for each other, aided by their bond.

The majority of STOLEN SONGBIRD is from Cécile’s POV, although there are a couple of chapters from Tristan’s perspective. I really loved both of their characters. Cécile and Tristan are complex, well-developed, and real. They both make mistakes, but learn from those mistakes. They both grow over the book, especially Cécile, as she learns more about Trollus and its politics. The few chapters from Tristan’s POV expanded his character and motivations; I liked his voice just as much as Cécile’s.

Aside from Cécile and Tristan, the other characters in the book are also awesome. Everyone, from villains to servants, has their own motivation and desire for wanting Cécile to fail or succeed at breaking the curse. The villains in STOLEN SONGBIRD are delightfully evil, and will stop at nothing to keep Tristan’s plans from succeeding. I love when villains have no apologies for being bad guys. I also want to mention Victor and Victoria, twin trolls who become Cécile’s friends. They constantly compete with each other to see who is the best, in everything from fishing to spear throwing. They provided some much needed humor, and also showed Cécile that not all trolls are bad.

The worldbuilding in STOLEN SONGBIRD is also super interesting. Trollus seems somewhat inspired by the French court, as the royalty and nobles reminded me of the decadence of Marie-Antoinette’s reign. So did their attitudes of being better than everyone, especially half-bloods. The politics of Trollus are extremely complex — nothing is what it seems at first glance, and that was great for me. It’s never fun when it’s easy to predict how a book will play out within the first couple of chapters. STOLEN SONGBIRD continually surprised me. I had NO idea what was going to happen, and that ending! Oh stones and sky, that ending. It’s going to be a long wait for the next book in the trilogy, because I have absolutely got to know what happens next to Cécile and Tristan and everyone else.

It’s really hard to pick what I liked most about the book, since I loved practically every single part of it! STOLEN SONGBIRD is one of those rare books where I was happy with every element as it was. Usually I critique something, or want something done differently… but I can’t think of anything I’d want changed in this book. So I’m going to take the easy route and say I liked EVERYTHING.

STOLEN SONGBIRD is a book that will stay with me for a long time. It’s a wonderful mix of smooth writing, nasty and nice trolls, complicated politics, intrigue, and even some well-done romance. It’s categorized as young adult, but I think it’d be a good crossover book for adults looking for a new fantasy series.

About the author:

author danielle l. jensenDanielle was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. At the insistence of the left side of her brain, she graduated in 2003 from the University of Calgary with a bachelor’s degree in finance. But the right side of her brain has ever been mutinous; and in 2010, it sent her back to school to complete an entirely impractical English literature degree at Mount Royal University and to pursue publication. Much to her satisfaction, the right side shows no sign of relinquishing its domination.
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna