Hello everyone, today I am please to say that I will be taking part in the Give the Dark My Love by Beth Revis blog tour, featuring a guest post from the author herself! I am so excited to be part of this tour as I love helping authors promote this book, plus this book is described as a dark fantasy where the hero turns into a villain which I absolutely love. If you love this just as much as I do, check out the guest post and the book, I promise you won't regret it!
A young alchemist turns to dark magic when a deadly plague sweeps through her homeland in this epic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis.
Seventeen-year-old Nedra Brysstain leaves her home in the rural, northern territories of Lunar Island to attend the prestigious Yugen Academy with only one goal in mind: master the trade of medicinal alchemy. A scholarship student matriculating with the children of Lunar Island's wealthiest and most powerful families, Nedra doesn't quite fit in with the other kids at Yugen.
Until she meets Greggori "Grey" Astor. Grey is immediately taken by the brilliant and stubborn Nedra, who he notices is especially invested in her studies. And that's for a good reason: a deadly plague has been sweeping through the north, and it's making its way toward the cities. With her family's life--and the lives of all of Lunar Island's citizens--on the line, Nedra is determined to find a cure for the plague.
Grey and Nedra grow close, but as the sickness spreads and the body count rises, Nedra becomes desperate to find a cure. Soon, she finds herself diving into alchemy's most dangerous corners--and when she turns to the most forbidden practice of all, necromancy, even Grey might not be able to pull her from the darkness.
Give the Dark My Love Releases on September 25th, 2018
Get Give the Dark My Love:
Beth Revis is the author of the New York Times bestselling Across the Universe series, the twisty contemporary novel A World Without You, and the New York Times bestselling Star Wars: Rebel Rising. Beth lives in rural North Carolina in a house full of boys--her husband, son, and two massive dogs--and she forces them all to watch reruns of Firefly and Doctor Who. Visit her at bethrevis.com and follow her @bethrevis.
Tell us about the research you did for the book because of how scientific the premise is, and how you incorporated it into your fantasy world
The world of Give the Dark my Love is one where alchemy has replaced science. This isn't that far-fetched, historically--during the Middle Ages, alchemy worked hand-in-hand with science. The only difference is, in the world of my story, alchemy actually works.
Although, truth be told, alchemy worked in the medieval era, too. It's a precursor to chemistry, and some discoveries that happened along the way were legitimate chemical discoveries. Although we tend to think of the big "failures" of alchemy--the quest for the philosopher's stone (which could provide immortality) or the attempts to turn lead into gold--alchemists during the Middle Ages were actually doing science. They refined methods of distilling, they explored and observed chemical reactions, and they applied the scientific method to their work. In 1669, Hennig Brand was attempting to create the philosopher's stone when he discovered phosphorus. (Look up the ingredients he used...I mean, they were at least golden in color...)
In the world of Give the Dark my Love, I used vessels instead of chemicals to create alchemy. "Crucibles" are, by definition, a container that can melt metals or other substances. The crucibles in Nedra and Grey's world are used to conduct power.
Early on, I decided to play with the idea of certain metals being linked to certain powers. I chose to focus on three: copper, gold, and silver.
Copper crucibles are used for transactions--put something in, get something else out. You can hide something in a copper crucible and it will only be revealed when you pay the price to retrieve it.
Silver crucibles are for transformation. You can--at least temporarily--transform one object into another by putting it into a silver crucible. The change isn't permanent, particularly if you're transforming one thing into something very different.
Golden crucibles are used to transfer. Specifically, medicinal alchemists use a golden crucible to transfer pain from a person into a lesser creature, such as a rat.
There is a fourth crucible, although it is forbidden throughout the lands. This crucible is made of iron. Iron is an amazing metal. It exists in the land--those of you whose soil is reddish-brown or red clay walk across iron-rich ground. It exists in your blood, giving it red color. Legend has it that some battlefields of ancient wars are found by geologists thanks to the high concentration of iron from the bloody fighting.
A crucible made of iron is for transcendence.
A crucible made of iron raises the dead.
I hope that you enjoyed this post! I am so happy that I was able to be a part of this tour. Thank you so much to Penguin Teen for including me! If you are interested in this book, don't hesitate to check it out!
Until next time,
Hello, today I will be reviewing The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten
White! This is actually the first book that I have read from her, and it is fair to say that I loved it. The relationship I had with this book was actually kind of weird because I went in expecting one thing, and got something else entirely, but still loved it regardless. Let me know how you feel about this book in the comments once you read my review, and if you think it is different from what you thought it would be like!
Hardcover release: September 25, 2018
Hardcover page count: 304
My rating: 5/5 stars
Ever since she was young, Elizabeth has been in the care of the Frankenstein family. Sold by a woman who beat and starved her, Elizabeth knows she will be returned to her horrid existence if she fails at her task: becoming the friend of the solitary and strange Victor Frankenstein. And she succeeds, soon becoming his closest friend and is forever glued by his side. But as the years pass, Elizabeth’s survival depends on her ability to manage Victor’s temper and satisfy his every whim, no matter the price.
This book was not at all what I was expecting but was still very interesting. Diving into it, the reader expects to be taken through the life of Elizabeth as she grows up but, they are actually brought in when Elizabeth is older and in the middle of looking for Victor. But this does not mean that you never get to see their relationship as it grows. The author shows glimpses of the past several times throughout the book, allowing the reader to watch their growing relationship while growing uneasy as they see the disturbing actions of Victor as a young boy. Including these bits of the past also worked great in building Elizabeth’s character. Though it might be revealing too much to say exactly what happened in these flashbacks, I loved how much insight they gave into Elizabeth. The reader is able to see exactly what motivations she has and why she makes the decisions she does.
Another amazing part of this part was the setting. Set in an 19th century Europe, the author took us through many of the places characters go to in Frankenstein. Through the murky slums of Ingolstadt to the vast mansion Geneva and the harsh winters of Northern Russia, the reader in instantly immersed in the scenery flowing from the author’s pen. Reading the book, I felt shivers down my spine as the characters as they went through each of the locations. These places were also true to the original book which I thought was pretty cool.
Lastly, the main part of the book that I enjoyed the most was the tone. Dark and mysterious throughout the book, it rang true to the original insanity that was such a big part of the classic. Elizabeth, for example, constantly ignores the evils of Victor in order to stay with him and live a peaceful life. Even when he cuts open animals to examine them, she doesn’t say a thing so he can remain happy. I enjoyed parts of the book that discuss this because it almost felt like a psychological analysis of the character of Elizabeth. As I said, this was only one example of it, but as we see Elizabeth do crazy things at great lengths just to please Victor, we are able to see more of her psyche then we were able to in Frankenstein. Originally, Shelly wrote her as more of a side character in love with Victor. But in this book, we are able to dive further into what makes her, her. There was even a mention later on about how Victor kept a diary where he wrote his own version of the events that happened between him and Elizabeth. Readers who have read the original will be happy about this because it connects the two works in a whole new way.
If you love dark, psychological thrillers, this book is for you. For those who have never read Frankenstein, no worries because you need no prior knowledge in order to read this. Much like how the Penelopiad was too the Odyssey, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is to Frankenstein. It brings to light the woman’s part of the story that is often given less attention too in great works like this. I would recommend this book for readers 13/14 and up because of numerous mentions of maiming and violence throughout the book.
I hope that you enjoyed this review! I loved this book so much despite how I originally did not. I also loved how this is a retelling of a story that is not really retold, and how it was from Elizabeth's perspective instead of Victor's.
Are there any books that you would like me to review? If so, let me know in the comments below!
Until next time!
Original Review Posted on: http://teenreaderscouncil.blogspot.com/2018/09/review-dark-descent-of-elizabeth.html
Hello everyone! Today I will be posting something a bit different from what I usually post about. As some of you may know, I love to write, and hope to become a published author one day. What I talk about less though, is the fact that as both a book blogger and person living in Los Angeles, I have had a lot of opportunities to meet local authors and learn about writing and the publishing process through them. I've even arranged for authors to speak about their craft at my local high school!
But of course, not everyone has the same opportunities as I do when it comes to meeting and learning about writing. Recently, I've found out about an amazing resource called the Write-Publish-Profit Super Stack. With the Super Stack, you will be able to access tons of materials to help aspiring authors, for a fraction of the price they might have usually been. I'm pairing up with them to help promote their product as it is currently on sale for only $47.95! Learn more about the Super Stack and what it has to offer below!
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I hope you enjoyed my post about this amazing opportunity! I know that good writing resources could be hard to find, so definitely take advantage of this and check it out!
Until next time,
Hello everyone! Today, I will be reviewing The Looking Glass by Janet McNally. I hope you enjoy!
Release date: August 14th, 2018
Hardcover page count: 336
My rating: 5/5 stars
Disclaimer: I received this ARC as part of Miss Print's ARC Adoption Program. That said, everything featured in this review is based upon my honest opinion and not influenced at all in anyway. Enjoy!
In the Looking Glass, it’s been a year since Sylvie’s older sister Julia disappeared. Still, Sylvie tries to remain optimistic as she carries on Julia’s impressive ballet legacy. But when Sylvie receives a copy of their old storybook with a mysterious list inside, Sylvie begins to see signs of her sister everywhere. She knows that she may be losing her grip on reality and that the strange things she’s seeing might have nothing to do with Julia’s whereabouts, but she continues regardless. As she sets off on a road trip with the hopes of finding her sister, Sylvie believes she will have the time of her life.
But when trouble arises, she must realize that if she can’t help herself, she can’t help anyone.
This is the kind of book that I aspire to write. Beautifully worded and filled with prose that sweeps you away, The Looking Glass is truly a unique novel. I don’t usually read contemporary, mostly sticking with sci-fi or fantasy, but this book made me change my stance on the matter.
Beginning with the plot itself, I loved how innovative it was. The way the author connected Sylvie’s big-city life style with the fairy tale stories that many have grown up with was unique in the sense of how it was done. Unlike many retellings, where it is clear that they are what they are, The Looking Glass reads like the adventures of a girl grieving her sister—which essentially is what the book is about. But I loved how no matter what new fairy tale aspect the author what introducing, it wasn’t pushed to the sense that it overwhelmed the reader, but done subtly and full of grace. This made it so when these seemingly magical parts of the plot came into play, it didn’t feel overdone, but powerful and important.
The next part of the book that I really enjoyed was the characters, specifically Sylvie. From the very beginning, Sylvie is in grief. And for Sylvie, this grief is like a ghost that constantly follows her. And yet, not once while I was reading did I think ‘oh yeah, this again’ when she brought it up. Not once did the author push Sylvie’s grief on readers in a way that made them feel uncomfortable or in a way that made the character feel fake. Readers will enjoy how the author made her grief over her sister a realistic thing that people could relate too. But they would also appreciate the humor and emotions that the character also had. Many of the other characters in this book were written in a similar way, created so realistically that they felt like real people doing regular things.
I would recommend this book for contemporary fans who are in love with ballerinas and their mischief, but also love books where girl meets boy and they fall in love. I would also recommend this book to fans of other genres who, like me, are picky about their contemporary. Filled with heartwarming scenes and just the right amount of magic, The Looking Glass is a book that will sweep you off your feet and never take you back.
I hope that you enjoyed this review! I loved this book so much and was so happy that I was able to read it. So, I would like to once again say thank you to Emma who runs https://missprint.wordpress.com . If you are a blogger with little to no access to arcs, check out her arc adoption program! Not only does she help the blogging community with this, but she helps authors by helping generate more reviews for them (which is the best thing you can do for an author).
Until next time,
Hello everyone, today I will be closing the blog tour for Blood Will Out. This is the first dark thriller I have read in awhile so I was very excited when I found out I was able to take part in this tour! And after my review, stay tuned for a guest post from the author herself!
About the Book:
Ari Sullivan is alive—for now.
She wakes at the bottom of a cistern, confused, injured and alone, with only the shadowy recollection of a low-pitched voice and a gloved hand. No one can hear her screams. And the person who put her there is coming back. The killer is planning a gruesome masterpiece, a fairytale tableau of innocence and blood, meticulously designed.
Until now, Ari was happy to spend her days pining for handsome, recent-arrival Stroud Bellows, fantasizing about their two-point-four-kids-future together. Safe in her small hometown of Dempsey Hollow. But now her community has turned very dangerous—and Ari may not be the only intended victim.
AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY
About the Author:
Jo Treggiari was born in London, England, and raised in Canada. She spent many years in Oakland, California and New York, where she trained as a boxer, wrote for a punk magazine, and owned a gangster rap/indie rock record label. Her novel Ashes, Ashes, a YA post-apocalyptic adventure published by Scholastic Press, was a multiple award nominee and bestseller. Her acclaimed novella Love You Like Suicide, appeared in the Fierce Ink Press anthology Becoming Fierce: Teen Stories IRL and as a limited edition of the long-running zine Cometbus. Her most recent YA is Blood Will Out, a psych-thriller, published by Penguin Teen (2018). She has a second yet-to-be-named thriller coming from Penguin in the summer of 2019.
Photo credit: Madeleine Kendall
Blood Will Out is the bloody and dark horror thriller by Jo Treggiari that will take everything you thought you knew about YA thrillers and throw it away. The book follows Ari Sullivan, a girl who wakes up at the bottom of a well injured and alone. With no one to hear her screams except the person who put her there, she’s not sure she will be able to get out. But as someone who used to spend her days fantasizing over her crush and their future together, Ari begins to realize that she might not be the killer’s intended victim, and that getting out of the well may be the least of her worries.
This was definitely and interesting book. Treggiari wrote a plot perfect for those aspiring sleuths who love examining every angle of the crime. From the start, she flings potential suspects at the reader, adding to the atmosphere of confusion that the author built up. I loved how the author kept this tone consistent throughout the book, making sure everything had her signature touch. Even the flashback scenes of happy times the author included, had this dark air to it.
I also fell in love with the murder’s point of view. Though it did feature some animal abuse, which readers easily triggered should be weary of, the rest of their perspective was still quite entertaining. This is especially so as the author wrote those gruesome details to add to the realism of the book (which I later found out through her guest post featured below). I loved getting into their mind as they told their story, something the killers of stories don’t often get to do. It was also interesting to follow them as they got to where they were during the events of the story, with Ari.
Lastly, I loved the setting of the book. Set in a dark and mysterious small town where things were bound to go wrong, I love how the author put a new twist on it. Because of her writing style, things just felt so much more real then they often do with other small-town set books.
If you are a fan of spine tingling thrillers, this book is definitely for you. But be warned that there are scenes where blood and gore are mentioned along with graphic descriptions of animal abuse. Though, these themes are not frequent through the book, they do occur in a few significant spots. Because of this, I would recommend this book for older readers of at least 16 years of age.
How to write an appropriate psychological thriller for younger audiences
What I tried to do was write suggestively. Meaning that although there are dark themes in the book (which there had to be since this is partially the story of a serial killer told in the first person!) I write around actual occurrences. The action skips from the beginning to the end of some of the more graphic scenes and the reader fills in the space in their own mind. The animal torture scenes in particular were very difficult for me as an animal lover and long-time vegetarian but I knew from my research that animal abuse is a commonality in the serial killers that have been studied. There is a trifecta of warning signs and that is one of them.
A serial killer who is just starting out was one of the scariest things I could think of. The book had to be terrifying—because no one wants to read about a cuddly, charming psychopath— and getting inside the killer’s mind helped me to achieve that. It was important to me that their character be well-developed so that even though they were becoming a monster (as society sees it) there were moments the reader could connect with. Instances where the reader could think to themselves: ‘Well I’ve felt that way.’ Or, ‘I would react that way too.’ Just a tiny hook that brought the reader on side. I needed to cultivate some kind of understanding of what could make a person behave like that.
It was hugely important that the strongest thread through the book was the fierce friendship between my main character, Ari and her best friend, Lynn. I wanted to capture that love, that loyalty, the lightness that comes from sharing all the moments in your life with your closest companion. Through flashbacks I was able to show how solid and strong they were with each other and incorporate some humor and levity. And later it is the impetus Ari needs to act and to take control of what is happening to them. Their bond was a good true thing and it directly counterbalanced the darkness in the rest of the book.
Check out the other stops on the tour:
I hope that you enjoyed this post! I love getting to post things like this to help promote authors books. Reviewing is the best way to help an author, and I am glad that I am able to do that.
Until next time,
Hello everyone, today I will be taking part in the Ruin of Stars Nerd Blast! If you didn't already know, Ruin of Stars is the second book of the Mask of Shadows duology. Ruin of Stars comes out August 28th, 2018, so don't forget to pick up your copy then!
Also, look how beautiful that cover is!
ABOUT THE BOOK:
As Opal, Sal finally has the power, prestige, and most importantly the ability to hunt the lords who killed their family. But Sal has to figure out who the culprits are before putting them down. Which means trying to ignore the fact that Elise is being kept a virtual prisoner, and that the queen may have ulterior motives.
And the tales coming out of north are baffling. Talk of dark spirits, missing children, and magic abound. As Sal heads north toward their ruined homeland and the lords who destroyed everything, they learn secrets and truths that can't be ignored.
AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY
Praise for MASK OF SHADOWS:
"An intriguing world and a fantastically compelling main character make for a can't-miss debut. Miller's Mask of Shadows will make you glad you're not an assassin―and even gladder Sal is." ―Kiersten White, New York Times bestelling author of And I Darken and Now I Rise
"Compelling and relatable characters, a fascinating world with dangerous magic, and a dash of political intrigue: Mask of Shadows completely delivered. Fantasy fans will love this book." ―Jodi Meadows, New York Times bestselling coauthor of My Lady Jane
"Miller's gritty, lightning-paced debut features a rough-and-tumble yet movingly vulnerable protagonist: Sal is uncompromising in their convictions, and doesn't hesitate to kill when necessary but wishes to be more than just a weapon of vengeance. A complex but intriguing start to this planned duology." ―Publishers Weekly
"This is a memorable, sharply written character. While readers who identify on the GLBTQ spectrum may be easy fans as Miller handles Sal's identity with aplomb, that's certainly not the only point of note here; the impressive, intricate world building, tense action, and fierce competitors are equally strong." ―The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Gory, well-plotted, suspenseful on every page, and poised for the sequel." ―Kirkus
"This fantasy's gender-fluid protagonist, Sal Leon, makes Miller's book worth picking up for diversity's sake alone. Her treatment of the gender issue is most notable in that it isn't really an issue... Violent and action-packed, this offering by first-time novelist Miller will circulate." ―School Library Journal
"Sal's strong-willed personality and rich emotions create a protagonist who continues to shine" ―Booklist
"Sal is intriguing and their genderfluidity adds depth to their personality. The narrative deals with issues of mystery, self-identity, and revenge. The ending provides a sense of closure, while leaving the door ajar for further adventures." ―VOYA Magazine
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Originally from Arkansas, Linsey Miller has previously worked as a crime lab intern, neuroscience lab assistant, and pharmacy technician. She is currently an MFA candidate represented by Rachel Brooks of Bookends Literary. Her debut novel MASK OF SHADOWS is the first in a fantasy duology out now (8/29/17) from Sourcebooks Fire. The sequel RUIN OF STARS is coming out August of 2018. She can be found writing about science and magic anywhere there is coffee.
PHOTO CONTENT FROM LINSEY MILLER
Don't forget to enter the giveaway!
And check out the other blogs on this nerd blast!
I hope that you enjoyed this post! I personally never read Mask of Shadows, but taking part in this made be very interested in the book.
Until next time,
Hello everyone, today I will be taking part in the Emma in the Night Nerd Blast! I hope that you enjoy this post and become as interested as I am in checking this book out!
Hello everyone, today I will be reviewing These Rebel Waves by Sarah Raasch! This is one of my first pirate books in awhile, and I completely fell in love with it. I hope you do to after reading my review!
Release date: August 7, 2018
Hardcover page count: 480
My rating: 5/5 stars
These Rebel Waves tells the interwoven tale of three people whose lives are dependent on the rulings of two countries, Grace Loray and Agrid. Adeluna fought as a soldier for the magic-filled island of Grace Loray during the war that ended five years ago. She thought she was able to save the the people from Agrid’s oppression, but when a Agridian delegate vanishes during peace talks, everything she worked for may soon be erased. Devereux is one of Grace Loray’s stream raiders, a pirate who deals in the island’s magical plants. But Agrid accuses him and the rest of the stream raiders for kidnapping the delegate, he agrees to help Adeluna find him. Benat is the crown prince of Agrid. But unlike his magic-fearing people, he believes it could be used to heal. So when his father gives him the job of reversing Agrid’s fear, he must decide if changing his people’s lives is worth potentially loosing his. But as new information is revealed and more players join the game, the three of them must decide how much they are willing to pay for peace.
This book has all the elements of a blockbuster novel, and it delivers excellently. Starting with the setting itself, the author clearly put a lot of research into it. From the lush plants that could be found around the island to the extremist church group that controls Agrid, readers are quickly immersed in how well developed everything is. While reading, I always found myself being sucked in to the author’s descriptive prose that makes you feel like what she was describing was actual history. Things like extreme and cultish religion can be hard to portray in books, but the author still found a way to do it excellently. This includes a multitude of magical experimentation which Raasch describes in a way that makes it sound like she was conducting them herself. The author also did an amazing job making sure that Grace Loray’s side of things wasn’t too biased, so their government didn’t seem like they were the absolutely good guys and that they could do no harm. I found that balancing and providing two sides to the coin like that enhanced the book beautifully and made it feel so much more real.
Another part of this book that I absolutely adored were the characters. None of them felt fake and overdone. None of them felt incomplete and undeveloped. A problem that frequently arises with books like this, is that the author often makes the characters tragic and overload them with dark and depressing backstory. And though these characters did have that, none of them used it to overload their personalities. It never felt like the only things that made up the characters were where they came from. Rather, these backstories helped guide the characters to where they might be, giving us insight to what they might do later on.
Adeluna, for example, was a character who was everything a typical badass female lead could be: smart, strong, and beautiful. She also plays the role of the sheltered-princess type despite fighting in a disastrous war. But what made her so different than other characters, is that she not only showed that she is beyond and better than that, but she also showed that even ‘perfect’ girls can be wrong, and have faults. An example of something I found that made her different than other characters, was something that occurred early on in the book. Adeluna is in an intense fighting scene (that I won’t describe even though it happens very early on) during which she does some complex moves. Typically when an ex-soldier-warrior-princess-like character does this, they do it perfectly. But though Adeluna did execute the move with finesse, she did think at one point “oh, I wonder if I still remember how to do this. It’s been awhile after all”. I’m paraphrasing of course, but I found this thought to be interesting because it is so rare to see doubt in fighting ability from a character type like hers. This was just one example of many of how the author truly went beyond the standards of characters in typical fantasy novels to make hers unique.
Of course, no good cast of characters would be complete without an equally excellent plot. And the author delivered this perfectly, taking readers on a thrill ride which combined adventure, political intrigue, a slow building romance, and just a dash of magic to make the perfect novel for fantasy lovers. Readers will fall in love with the subplots of this book and the terrifying flashbacks that will integrate an element of surprise into the book that readers won’t see coming.
I would recommend this book to fantasy lovers, but also to people who enjoy reading books that feel like they were inspired by history. Also, if you love seeing LGBT characters and romance featured in fantasy, you will be happy to know that These Rebel Waves features this (which isn’t typical in pirate fantasy like this). These Rebel Waves is a book that won’t let you down if you are looking for a breathtaking adventure that will leave you begging for more.
I hope that you enjoyed this review! If there are any books that you would like me to recommend, let me know in the comments. Also, what is one of your favorite pirate books?
Until next time,
Hello everyone, I am so so excited for today's post! Back in May, I was able to meet the wondering Astrid Scholte whose debut Four Dead Queens is releasing February of next year, was able to interview her! I was completely mesmerized with this book and its twists, and it is safe to say that I was not at all prepared for how good it would be. So in honor of today being exactly seven months until Four Dead Queens comes out, I will be posting the interview, my review of this amazing debut, and I will be hosting a giveaway for one person to win a preorder of Four Dead Queens!
(quick note: as I was writing this, I realized that the book comes out two days before I thought it did, so lets just pretend today is actually on the seven-month mark. Enjoy!)
Publisher: Putnam/Penguin Random House
Release date: 26th of February 2019
Hardcover page count: 416
About the Book:
Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but she’s, in fact, one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. He runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie both find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.
With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens.
An enthralling fast-paced murder mystery where competing agendas collide with deadly consequences, Four Dead Queens heralds the arrival of an exciting new YA talent.
Preorder Four Dead Queens through the links below:
graphic from author
About the Author:
Astrid Scholte has loved telling stories for as long as she can remember, writing her first "novel" at age 5. Her desire to be surrounded by all things fantastical led her to pursue a career in the visual effects and animation industry. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Film, Media and Theatre and a Bachelor of Digital Media from the University of New South Wales and the College of Fine Arts in Sydney.
She has spent the last 10 years working in visual effects production as both an artist and an artist manager. Career highlights include working on James Cameron's Avatar, Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin and Happy Feet 2 by George Miller. She currently works as a product support manager in the entertainment industry and dedicates her spare time to reading and writing young adult fiction.
She is also a traditionally trained oil painter and enjoys painting her favorite fictional characters. She lives in Australia with her two Burmese cats among her ever-growing mountain of Disneyland memorabilia.
FOUR DEAD QUEENS is her debut novel and will be released by Putnam (Penguin Random House) on the 26th of February 2019.
Interview with the Author:
2. I saw that you worked on the movie Avatar. Do you want to talk about that?
I worked on that in 2009 for a year in Wellington New Zealand as a model’s coordinator. Basically, I looked after the artists that worked on all the characters and the creatures which was super fun but also a lot of work. I think for me being an author works well with my structural, kind of logical mind because it’s all about putting pieces and character motivations together, so it is kind of like a big complex puzzle just in words rather than visuals.
3. How has your job in film influenced your passion for writing YA?
Hugely! I think very early on, the big motivational moment I can remember was when I was 8 and I saw Jurassic Park and I was like I have to be involved in the magic of movie. I always wanted to do something that had to do with stories so that, and seeing these dinosaurs come to life influenced me a lot. I have to do visual effects and I think I very much write books in a cinematic way, because I see them in my head like a movie, so I try and create it on the page like that, so when the reader reads it they see it in their head like a movie too. So, it very much does tie into my film background and my love for film.
4. What inspired you to write Four Dead Queens?
I often have difficulty pinpointing the exact moment, because I think I’m one of those writers that pulls inspiration from all different areas and kind of germinates a bit before I come up with the idea. One of the things is that I’ve always loved murder mysteries ever since I was a kid. You know, Agatha Christie and the whodunit style of storytelling. And I’ve always been a fantasy/YA lover and reader and writer, so I thought combining the two would be pretty fun. I also had this dream that I was in this awesome car and this silver hovercraft flew by and it gave me the kind of inspiration for what it would be like to have these very distinct cultures, and technologies, and people all within one nation, and why and how would it be that way. Then I just had this image in my head of four queens sitting back to back in one court on their thrones, each ruling the same nation at the same time but their own little regions. So yeah, it was kind of a combination of a few different sparks of ideas and inspiration.
5. How did you get to be a debut author?
Well it's been a long journey, it's been seven years that I've been seriously pursuing. I mean, I've always been writing but seriously pursuing being published. I started with two YA novels that I wrote and queried and also tried to get published in Australia where you actually go directly to publishers as opposed via an agent. I didn't have much luck and I kept getting the same feedback that YA Fantasy is a very saturated market and that my novel sounded too similar to other novels that were out, so I wanted to write something really different. I have this love for murder mystery, so I thought okay, this could work in a fantasy setting. When, I heard about PitchWars, I'd only written maybe 15,000 words in March of 2016, so I was like okay let's aim for PitchWars, let's try and get a first draft. I didn't really understand the competition very well at the time which is not good. I should have read the fine print, but I thought if I at least had a first or second draft, I might be able to get in. But you are actually supposed to have a completed manuscript so... I rushed to write it and then I got requests like straight away for the whole thing and I hadn't even finished writing it. So that was a stressful weekend where I quickly tried to finish and polish it as best as I could in the short amount of time. And yeah, I got into PitchWars and I was part of team Pusheen, which is our team name, and I had great experience and again I was just hoping to have a better manuscript. One thing I hadn't really had with my other books was feedback, real CP [critique partner] feedback. So I got that manuscript into shape and was planning to query after PitchWars, but I ended up getting my agent through PitchWars, so that's awesome. Shout out to Hillary Jacobson, she's awesome. So from that she helped me do some further revisions, and I went out on sub[mission] and shortly after I got the offer from Putnam at Penguin. So PitchWars for me, really ramped up my whole experience and made it a really kind of... well usually you hear people being querying for months being on subs for months but I was very lucky that it all happened really quickly through that.
6. What about this genre made you interested in writing in it?
I mean, I love fantasy, I love speculative fiction, I started reading YA back when... well YA wasn't a thing when I was a teen, but paranormal was kind of the first, and Twilight pretty much created YA. Well, I like to think so, and Harry Potter helped as well. I've loved anything that's make believe ever since I was a kid, anything that takes you to another world, explores made up lands and cultures and people and they always connect back to the real world. So you know, it's escapism but there are always parallels we can draw to our own world, which I always think is very interesting to explore.
7. Talk about your debut. What is it about?
Well its called Four Dead Queens and it’s a murder mystery set in fantasy world where there’s a nation spilt into four divisions, so there’re very distinct cultures and people and have a very different way of life. These four queens start being murdered in very brutal ways. The main character Keralie discovers a communication which basically shows the queens being murdered in these terrible ways, so she tries to uncover why this happened, without getting herself killed in the process. Hopefully. No spoilers.
8. What should readers who are interested in this genre look forward to in you debut?
I think the fact that it is a little bit different with the murder mystery aspect. Thrillers in YA are having quiet a moment right now, so if you love that kind of fast-paced, twists and turns, not knowing what’s going to happen next, I think you would really love Four Dead Queens. And also the fantasy elements. So it’s a fantasy, but it also has a lot of hints of sci-fi. Sci-fi is my favorite film and TV genre, so that’s kind of melded a lot into the fantasy element.
9. What piece of advice would you tell aspiring authors who are unsure of their skill?
I think it's very common for authors and writers to question their skills. I think it's just a way that writers tend to be very analytical and self-critical because that's the way that you write. You're like, how can I make it better, this isn't working, so it's hard to turn that off. But I think that as long as you believe in what you're working on and I think the best thing is to create something that you, well I mean people say it all the time, but write what you want to read. I think that's really the most important thing, to believe in what you're writing. If it's something that you would love to read, I'm pretty sure you won't be the only one out there who would want to read it. And also turn off the inner critic like I... because I'm a pantser, I don't revise in my first draft, I just get it all out in the paper. I mean first drafts are supposed to be bad. Let it be bad and then come back and you'll find it's so much easier once you have something on the page. Trying to edit nothing, gives you nothing. So you've got to get it all out there and then work on it and revise it and make it shine.
*I received a copy of a bound manuscript of this book as a thank you from the author when I interviewed her. All the thoughts below are my own*
In the breathtaking standalone debut of Astrid Scholte, Four Dead Queens tells the story of Keralie Corrington, a thief (called a dipper), for Mackiel, an influential businessman who deals in all things black market. Tasked with stealing anything not found in their quadrant, Keralie flourishes in the job that was seemingly meant for her. But when Keralie intercepts a comm disk from another quadrant, things don’t go as perfectly as hopes as she inadvertently watches the deaths of Quadra’s four queens. Hoping to find the culprit as a way of leveraging the palace, she teams up with Varin, the messenger she stole from, to track them down. But with time against them, and Keralie’s old boss following their every move, victory may be harder than they thought.
Only one word could describe how I felt about this book: wow. I was completely blown away with the sheer beauty of this world Scholte has created. Told in immaculate detail, not one aspect of this story was left underdeveloped or without resolve, with everything wrapping up nicely. This is especially notable because Four Dead Queens is a standalone (unfortunately), something we rarely see in fantasy. Not that Four Dead Queens is exclusively fantasy, as it includes a murder-mystery spin filled with the air of a thriller and the technology of a sci-fi, making it truly genre bending. But this is far from the only reason why Four Dead Queens is a book that demands to be read.
As mentioned previously, I read this book as a bound manuscript, meaning that final changes had yet to be made. But this in no way meant that the book was lacking in anyway. In fact, it contained some of the best descriptions and prose I have ever read. I was immediately sucked into Keralie’s story from page one as she hid in a corner conspiring with Mackiel. And as her story continued, that level of engagement never ceased, I was truly experiencing the golden domes and dark corners of Quarda with Keralie. Whenever I had to put this book down, I instantly felt myself longing to pick it back up, its allure constant and undying. Everything seemed to be alive in Scholte’s world, with not a single thing coming off as flat or half-baked.
But of course, no description would be good without the world it was based on. And Scholte made sure to deliver this with ease. The world of Quadra was complete and filled to the brim with so much detail that it felt real. I loved how much effort the author put into making each of Quadra’s four quadrants, laws, and technology, so real. Like wondering which Hogwarts house people belong too, readers would wonder which Quadrant they would hope to call their home. Some would fall in love with Toria, the trade quadrant filled with curiosity and exploration, or Archia, the agricultural quadrant that emphasizes simplicity and nature. Others would wish to be in Ludia amongst all the passion and entertainment their quadrant has to offer, or Eonia where futuristic technologies are integrated into every part of their stoic and harmonious lives. Either way, once someone is born into a quadrant, they have little opportunity to leave again. This is just one of the laws that dictate the way the queens must rule Quadra, separate but together. These are laws that rule almost as much as the queens do, strict but for the good of the people. And readers would be happy to know that these laws are not just one-off tidbits to help embellish the plot a bit, but important to the progression of the story and fully integrated. I never thought that I would find myself caring so much about a book’s law system until I read Four Dead Queens. And combined with the absolutely amazing technology, readers will wonder just how many twists Scholte has planned.
To navigate these twists, Scholte created a cast of utterly unique characters to run free. Her main character, Keralie, is a girl of bravery yet anxiousness, both trying to do her best to please those in her life, but also unsure if she even can. She is the type of girl who appears tough and faultless, but later reveals that she is full of depth and care. Keralie is the type of girl you would never expect to fall for in the span of just one book, but do without a second’s doubt. There was so much about Keralie that I loved. From her sass, to her badass-ness, to the fact that her backstory was not at all what you would typically find in a fantasy, everything about her was amazing. And it wasn’t just her who was well thought out, with all the other characters receiving the same type of care. Readers will fall in Varin, with his slow-to-warm-up cuddliness and pure-of-heart attitude and Machiel, who knows what he wants and goes for it. Each of these supporting characters received just as much care as Keralie did, with fears and drives and backstories both as well-thought out as Keralie. These were characters with many sides to them and felt, without a doubt.
And of course, with all these aspects going for it, the plot was nothing less than hypnotizing. It was both fast-paced and filled with enough detail that you won’t get whiplash. Bursting with political intrigue, romance, and a murder mystery twist, it was not something that would let readers down. Most of all, it contained something that every reader would enjoy. From good old-fashioned thievery and sneaking through a grand palace, technological contraptions and badass fight scenes, and of course the intricate mystery that readers will struggle to piece together with Keralie and Varin, there isn’t a single thing that will bore a reader.
I would recommend this book to fans of Six of Crows who were enamored with its trickery and setting, and also fans of Warcross, as its plot that wouldn’t be the same without the awe-inspiring technology. Of course, it is very hard to describe this book in relation to others, as it contains so many different aspects, but readers of classic mystery authors such as Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would also enjoy this book. Four Dead Queens is a genre-bending debut that readers will be unable to put down as they sail through it like they were watching a movie.
I hope that you enjoyed this post! I completely fell in love with this debut, and I hope you do too! And of course, I would like to say a special thank you to Astrid Scholte not only for writing such a great book, but for letting me interview you and get a copy of your debut.
Until next time,
Hello everyone, today I will be taking part in the I am Still Alive blog tour! I am Still Alive was my first book in awhile that made me stay up all night reading as it was filled with vivid imagery and high stakes. I hope you check it out and for now, enjoy my stop!
About the Book:
Cheryl Strayed's Wild meets The Revenant in this heart-pounding story of survival and revenge in the unforgiving wilderness.
Jess is stranded in the woods. She has few supplies and only her dog for company. Her survival skills are limited, and she has disabilities that make physical labor a challenge. And winter is on its way. How did she get here?
Alternating between the past and the present, this tightly-paced novel tells the story of a girl who survived a car crash that killed her mother, then was pulled from foster care and sent to live with her estranged survivalist father in the remote Canadian wilderness. Jess was just beginning to get to know her dad when a secret from his past paid them a visit, leaving their cabin burned to the ground and Jess's father dead. Now, Jess must fight with everything she has to forage and hunt for food, build shelter, and keep herself warm. But she will survive. She has to survive. Because she wants revenge.
About the Author:
Kate Marshall lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family. She works in the gaming industry as a writer and designer, most recently focusing on educational games for kids of all ages. She spends her winters cheerfully avoiding the rain, and during the summer ventures out to kayak and camp along Puget Sound. As Kate Marshall, her short fiction has appeared in venues such as Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Crossed Genres.
Interested to hear more? Check out my review:
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. All the thoughts below are my own*
I Am Still Alive tells the story of Jess, a teenage girl whose mother recently died in the car crash that injured her leg, making it hard for her too walk. So when she’s sent off into the Canadian wilderness to live with her survivalist father, she knows she will hate it. But just as she starts getting to know him, men from her father’s past come and kill him, leaving her stranded and left to fend for herself. With only her father’s dog to keep her company, Jess begins to feel like she will become yet another victim of starvation in the forest. But, one thought keeps her from letting it take her. She knows her father’s killer, and she won’t let him go without giving him a taste of his own medicine.
This was the perfect example of a book I didn’t expect to love, but absolutely did. The author was able to weave the perfect novel that would keep fantasy lovers like me entertained, while also making sure nothing was to crazy and unbelievable that the usual reader of contemporary would not be put off, with a thriller twist. She accomplished this through both her accelerating plot and unique writing style that made readers not only engaged in her words, but taking notes. I am Still Alive was written in a series of ‘before’ and ‘after’ chapters, both of which revolving around when her father was killed. This made is so whenever the reader was at one part of the narrative, they would wonder about how it might connect to the other, seeking connections and pulling on strings the author masterfully put in order to trick readers. Several times while reading, I remember thinking that this was when Jess will be saved, or that will be the death of her. But the author continued to prove that nothing is what it seems when you are out alone in the wilderness.
Another thing the author did to engage the reader, was that she added in real survival tricks the main character used throughout the book. As someone who could never imagine themselves camping, I was surprised about how much I was interested in these tidbits of information. But the author did not add these on accident. She did so to make her readers connect with Jess on a deeper level that most characters don’t often reach. When Jess was dragged out to the wilderness, she wasn’t an outdoorsy person. In fact, she immediately knew that she wanted to leave. This makes her relatable to the readers as she dodges the stereotype of the protagonist-who-already-knows-how-to-do-awesome-things, making her more lifelike.
This was the next thing that made this book so good: the characters. Jess for one, is a character who was forced into a terrible situation and tested again and again to see if she would survive. Often times, characters like hers are given few, if any, hurdles to dodge, and go through the wilderness like it was their home. And while it technically was Jess’s home, she hated it the whole time and barely left her father’s cabin when it was still there. I found this to make her character so much more relatable then others I’ve seen. She isn’t your typical adventure loving girl who reveled in the knowledge that she was surviving on her own, but she was someone who wished she could be anywhere but there and wanted something most survival/thriller novel protagonists don’t: safety.
But the author made sure to not only make Jess a well-rounded character, but also her father, his friend Griff, and the other side characters like that too. Each of them were unique in their own ways, having character traits that made them seem real and tangible. Griff, for example, was your typical scruffy quiet mountain guy who was awkward yet cuddly. But the author also made sure to add dimension to him, making him have thoughts and desires unlike other characters like him. For example, he had a daughter who he didn’t see often but wished he could. A daughter who was in another city, but he would fly there to be with her anyway, even if it meant not being there for his friend. I mention this because characters like him are usually extremely loyal and stagnant, while he was willing to risk going after his daughter and leaving his comfortable lifestyle to get a job. Marshall also put great effort into her antagonists. Though it is hard to learn much about them because we only see them a few times throughout the book, she still wrote characters that will give the readers goosebumps. Whenever they appeared, I instantly got nervous for Jess, wondering if this would finally be the end of her.
Finally, this book contained some of the best writing I have read in a while. I was drawn to her words as she described the forest and its depths, making me stay up all night just to finish the book. Marshall’s descriptions of the nearby lake and the cabin felt so real to me, painting vivid pictures in my head as the story progressed. This added to the suspense the readers experience while reading this book because her writing just made everything feel so real, sticking with readers as they go through the plot and its twists. This also made the plot feel much more alive than it might have otherwise, especially since much of it is Jess’s own thoughts as she survives in the wilderness
I would recommend this book for anyone who loves suspense, no matter what genre you typically read. This might also be a good book to give to someone who doesn’t usually read because of how vivid and entertaining it is. I for one know I would be recommending it to my brother who loves all things physical and adventurous. If you love a protagonist who shows you that in times of trouble, anyone could succeed, I am Still Alive is the book for you.
I am Still Alive is out July 24th, 2018!
I hope that you enjoyed my stop on this tour! I would like to say a special thank you to Penguin for including me! If you would like to preorder a copy of I am Still Alive, check out one of the links below.
Until next time,
Welcome to the Book Enigma! I review different genres of books from young adult fiction to sci-fi. Enjoy!
Aspiring author who, along with reading YA and with other genres, also fosters kittens, and play the piano and cello!
“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”