ARC Review: “The Vanishing Throne” by Elizabeth May

Wow, what a trippy experience. I filmed this review back in February, and I haven’t even watched it since then. I am very, very enthusiastic about this book. Like a lot. How cute of past Gretchen. Anyways! Let’s just get started. In case you missed my long and storied history with this series, here’s my videos on the first book, The Falconer:

Thanks to NetGalley and Chronicle Books for this eARC!

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Worth It Wednesdays: “The Queen of the Tearling” by Erika Johansen

Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!

51g7wybv53l-_sx314_bo1204203200_Title: The Queen of the Tearling

Author: Erika Johansen

Goodreads Description: An untested young princess must claim her throne, learn to become a queen, and combat a malevolent sorceress in an epic battle between light and darkness in this spectacular debut—the first novel in a trilogy.

Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom’s haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.

Long ago, Kelsea’s forefathers sailed away from a decaying world to establish a new land free of modern technology. Three hundred years later, this feudal society has divided into three fearful nations who pay duties to a fourth: the powerful Mortmesne, ruled by the cunning Red Queen. Now, on Kelsea’s nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of the Queen’s Guard—loyal soldiers who protect the throne—have appeared to escort the princess on a perilous journey to the capital to ascend to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling.

Though born of royal blood and in possession of the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic, Kelsea has never felt more uncertain of her ability to rule. But the shocking evil she discovers in the heart of her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the entire kingdom into turmoil—and unleashing the Red Queen’s vengeance. A cabal of enemies with an array of deadly weapons, from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic, plots to destroy her. But Kelsea is growing in strength and stealth, her steely resolve earning her loyal allies, including the Queen’s Guard, led by the enigmatic Lazarus, and the intriguing outlaw known simply as “the Fetch.”

Kelsea’s quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun. Riddled with mysteries, betrayals, and treacherous battles, Kelsea’s journey is a trial by fire that will either forge a legend . . . or destroy her.

Why it’s worth it: First off, I love the murky area of genre that this novel fits into. Is it YA? Is it not? How do you decide what’s YA? Because if you go by age of character, it is. If you go by writing style … maybe it isn’t? I’m not the biggest fan of high fantasy. I usually get bored.However, this included all the things that I love about high fantasy while keeping the action moving and not bogging down the paragraphs with unnecessary genealogies or something. When I tried to convince Michaela to read this in a 30 Seconds to Disagree video, this was one of my key points.

Secondly, I don’t often identify personally with many characters. I like a lot of characters and want to be my friend, but I don’t often read a character and think “that could be me!” The last time was Hermione. However, with Kelsea, I got that sense again. She REALLY is unprepared to be queen, and she has a temper problem that leaves her flailing. She tries so hard to do the queen thing right, but she doesn’t always succeed. She has body issues. She likes books. Watching her grow just over the course of the first book was amazing, and I came to absolutely love her.

Actually, great cast of characters all around. There were so many people with in-depth quirks and characterization that I liked when they were on screen. Even the “Evil Queen” gets to a point where you wonder just how much more there is to her than her “evilness.”

The setting is weird as all get out, especially considering the high fantasy vibe, because I guess technically it’s also dystopian? It’s weird, and it only gets weirder in the second book–and I like that. It’s not your typical Tolkien-esque fantasy world, and it opens up new spaces to think about. In the Drunk Book Club episode we did on this book, this was a point of contention, but I still think it’s cool.

I think the whole thing is cool. And so does Emma Watson, by the way. She’s making this book into a movie!

Read it if you’re looking for: strong female characters, high fantasy that won’t put you to sleep, strong cast of characters, interesting world building, believable teenage queen, action, adventure, magic, books without romance

Weekly Wrap Up + What We Read 5/8/16

We’re back! This week, we had a higher number of reviews than normal (mostly because I actually helped Michaela out) and also a lot of other cool stuff! Also, I almost out-read Michaela, which is almost unheard of. Making a huge push as school comes to an end, I guess. Without further ado, here we go!

Monday: 

Tuesday:

Wednesday:

Thursday:

Friday:

Saturday:

Betwixt the Books 30 Seconds to Disagree: “The Girl of Fire and Thorns” by Rae Carson

Welcome to another segment of 30 Seconds to Disagree! In this feature, I have 1 minute to recommend a book to Michaela–this week’s pick is The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson–and then she has 30 second to disagree with why she wouldn’t want to read it. I get 30 more seconds to address those fears, and then it’s done! As always, we release two of these when we do them, one on my blog and one on Michaela’s blog. The one she’s released is absolutely hilarious and probably my favorite, so make sure you watch that one too!

30 Seconds to Disagree: “The First Test” by Tamora Pierce

Look what Betwixt the Books is bringing back! This time around, I have 1 minute to tell Michaela about The First Test and The Protector of the Small series by Tamora Pierce, she has 30 seconds to disagree, and I have 30 more seconds to tell her why she’s wrong.

As always, there is a partner to this video, where Michaela and I reverse roles, posted today at The Pied Piper Calls. Check that out as well!

Don’t miss my first video in this series about Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen.

Betwixt the Books: 30 Seconds to Disagree – “Queen of the Tearling” by Erika Johansen

Surprise! Michaela and I have a new feature coming at you! Since our book tastes are so different, we came up with a quick and dirty way to try to convince each other to read some of our favorite books. I get 30 seconds to tell Michaela why she should read Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, she gets 30 seconds to tell me why she’s still not on board and then I get 30 more seconds to assuage her fears.

Click on over to Michaela’s blog to watch her try to convince me to read John Dies at the End! (Because we recorded this in October before that Imbibliomancy episode where she actually does make me read it…)