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Champion’s Quest: The Die of Destiny – ARC Review

Rating: 4/5

Release Date: August 3rd, 2021

Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing

NOTE: I received an Advanced Readers Copy from the publisher (Shadow Mountain Publishing) in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influences my reactions/rating. This also means that all quotes and plot points are based on the ARC copy and should not fully reflect the final work.

“WARNING – Gameplay in Champion’s Quest only ends upon successful Quest completion.” 

World-building: Realistically, there isn’t a ton I can put here. Of course, there is the whole aspect of building the game, making the rules, learning about the creatures, and mentions of map pathways, but as far as actual description goes, this story could benefit from having more. There was a lot of telling and not showing, so for most of the book I was picturing the characters in a generic forest or town, but in some cases, I couldn’t picture anything and, in my mind, the characters were emoting against a white background.

Plot: Right away, this plot sweeps you off your feet. By quickly introducing a whole slew of characters, there’s no disconnect between learning the backstory of main character Lucas and launching into a world of magic and mysticism. The plot runs as any other adventure might, but there are definitely aspects that add flair. Specifically, I found it rather interesting that, in this game world, players can get injured, but they don’t bleed. This might be a way to make the style a little more PG and less life-or-death, but it is also something that isn’t normally in adventures like this. Otherwise, the “game mechanics” are similar to what most games have, including enemies, a health bar, a storage system (with limited space), a currency, and healing.

Characters: Of the characters, we hear the most about Lucas. Considering he is the one telling the story, this makes perfect sense. In the beginning, Lucas is a kid that just wants to get away from his foster home. Having lost his parents at a young age, he doesn’t feel at home anywhere he gets placed and decided to run away. Lucas is a relatable character, in some ways, because he suffers from the “Creepers” or what others might simply call anxiety. This is a great way to talk about mental health for this age level and even shows that Lucas himself doesn’t know what is happening to him.

While I think this is a great story, with an interesting premise, I think some of the characters are bland. We hear a lot about Lucas, the voice of the book, but the other characters lack a special something that would make me feel more drawn to them. In particular, Vanessa is a very dislikable, vain character. Not only does she come off as selfish from the start, she constantly asserts her age to inflict her superiority (which, to be fair, most teenagers probably would do). I found myself rolling my eyes at her character and generally felt like she didn’t contribute much to the plot.

Miles was a fun character that I would consider fun-loving and energetic, however, I think this was exploited and often made him come off as dumb or foolish, which I don’t think was the intention.

The character I wanted more from was actually Jasmine. I found her character the most interesting, especially since she is silent for a good portion of the novel. Game-wise, she is stealthy and quick to learn the rules; she even seems to be the best at fighting, a useful skill when it comes to RPGs. We learn a few things about her backstory and her family, but there is clearly more to her, leaving untapped potential.

Overall: Four normal kids are thrown into Champion’s Quest, a role-playing game unlike any other. Taking the real-life stakes of Jumanji with the creativity of Dungeons and Dragons and the gaming feeling of open-world RPGs, board game lovers finally have a book curated especially for them. In the end, they learned how to overcome their differences and came together as a team, which is very heartwarming and leaves room for a book two!

Warnings: Mentions of death, anxiety, mild violence

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The Magicians by Lev Grossman – Review

A thrilling and original coming-of-age novel for adults about a young man practicing magic in the real world.

Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A senior in high school, he’s still secretly preoccupied with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child, set in a magical land called Fillory. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the craft of modern sorcery.

Review:

Initially, I rated this book 4 stars, but as I was writing this review, I realized I leaned more toward 3.5. 

Spoilers for the book and show are present but probably not life-changing.

I read this book because I absolutely adore the show and after binge watching season 4, I decided I need more of the universe and I thought it might help throw me out of my reading slump. Admittedly, I watched the show first, which is something I try very hard not to do, but in this case I didn’t even know there was a book. 

For those of you that just want a short review: Just watch the show, it’s better.

Yikes! A show that is better than the book? Unfortunately I feel like this review is going to more of a comparison. Grossman tries really hard to immerse his readers into the world of The Magicians, but if I hadn’t already seen the show, I think I would have been quite lost. The thing that threw me off the most about this book is that the main character, Quentin Coldwater (who I love), isn’t even out of high school when he gets whisked away from his life and everyone he knows to go to Brakebills College, a school that teaches magic. At the start of the book, it’s clear that Quentin has some serious depression and that he feels like he doesn’t belong anywhere. However, the further you  get into the book, the more you realize that that’s simply how the narration is written. Unlike the TV show, this book talks about Quentin’s magical experiences over the course of at least 5 years. It jumps around quite a bit, but there were times I felt like it helped me understand parts of the show where I had been confused. However, this constant jumping around also made me feel like we were simply skipping over the nitty gritty details and jumping right into the most interesting thing to happen to him every year. This isn’t something I would normally complain about, but when you just get into his 4th year at Brakebills for a chapter and then instantly jump into his 5th year, it feels a little off.

The thing that really hit me was how bitter the characters all were. It was like Grossman was trying to convince me that magic was terrible and life-ruining. The characters were driven mostly by emotion, often betraying their friends and getting into screaming matches only to sleep with that person or forget an altercation ever happened at all. Strong characters that I love in the TV show suddenly were weak and quiet or considered obnoxious and scandalous. It was quite jarring. 

A side note: This book was published in 2009, but for some reason still used the outdated term “hermaphrodite” in one instance, which felt weird to me. No one in editing thought that should be addressed?

Throughout the whole book, you’re always been told about the books Fillory and Further because they are books that the main character Quentin was in love with since he was a kid and then continued to love long after his friends and peers had given that up. Believe it or not, Fillory doesn’t become a reality until the last 150 pages or so.  I mean they put the map of Fillory in the book’s end pages for god’s sake, you would think it was the main plot point. But the real plot point of the book seems to be “How will Quentin handle this next magical thing?”. It’s somewhat unclear. What is clear is the theme of “magic always comes with a price” or “dreams are never what you thought they would be” which is very Once Upon a Time, but accurate.

Overall, if you want a book that talks about the principles of magic and jumps around from interesting plot point to interesting plot point with characters that might all love or might all hate each other (it’s really hard to tell), then this might be the book for you! However, if you want a TV show packed full of action with badass females, an awesome magic concept, and multiple universes, I definitely recommend watching the show first and then reading the book to see what was supposed to happen. Honestly, the show runs relatively the same as the book, with a few tweaks here and there that were actually for the better.

Bonus points awarded for: unique magic system, book inside of a book, and map

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WriterFest Nashville 2019 Reflection

This past weekend, I got to spend the weekend at WriterFest Nashville. WriterFest is an event made for writers of all kinds (book, movie, and song). There are 3 main keynote speakers and then several other panels were made to further develop writing, relationships, and marketing.

I could talk about the social media and marketing aspects of the event, but none of that really stuck with me. Of course, it was necessary information and useful. The part of my time at WriterFest, however, was the keynote speaker Kel Kade. Over the summer, I received an ARC of her first traditionally published book, Fate of the Fallen. So, when I heard she was going to be at WriterFest, I would intrigued by her name.

I’ll admit, I did a little fangirling and got a picture with her and asked her to sign my copy of her book.

Her conversation was different from other events I had been to with author talks. She talked about her life before publishing her first novel, barely able to pay rent. On a whim, she published an unedited book on Amazon with a cover she made herself and thought nothing of it, convinced that only a handful of people would read it. However, after the first month, her book had made over $32,000 and it continued to increase month after month. This spiraled to eventually get her a deal with Tor, a high fantasy publisher, and a deal for audio books. One of the questions asked by the audience was if she would be interested in a movie to which she responded in a very unexpected way. She said that if she was to get a movie done, it would have to be done the right way. And I think that’s the way everyone should be thinking in regards to screen adaptations.

Overall, WriterFest was a good experience and I’m thrilled I got to enjoy it along with so many amazing writers! I truly hope I get the opportunity to go again next year.

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Stranger Rituals by Kali Rose Schmidt – Excerpt and Book Blitz

Stranger Rituals
Kali Rose Schmidt
Publication date: July 9th 2019
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult

A fighter with a venomous grudge.
A monster with an immortal curse.
A girl with a terrible gift.

All three out for blood in a land torn apart by harsh gods and holy wars. Each entwined with the other, on their own quests for vengeance, and yet held together by strange links to sinister pasts. As their fates unravel, a dangerous romance blooms, and violent darkness beckons.

At turns both darkly humorous and utterly morbid, STRANGER RITUALS is the startling first novel in Kali Rose Schmidt’s dark new series.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks

EXCERPT:

She swallowed, and then moved away, ducking her face from his grasp, hating how he knew her weakness so well. She rose from her knees. The Djavul stared up at her a moment, then gracefully stood to his full height.

“What did they want?” she questioned.

Vojtech smiled. “You have a job to do.”

She rolled her eyes. “I know. That’s guarding you. It’s a thrill a minute.” She gestured toward the ruined soldier beside them.

Vojtech frowned. “I actually thought you were growing bored here. No attacks in three months, only this idiot sneaking around in the desert.” He shrugged. “It seems Olofsson is losing his fear of me.”

“Good.” Scarko’s words mingled with fury. “Let him. It’ll serve our purpose for the second Holy War.” She stalked back to the Warskian soldier’s head, lifted it by the scraggly, blood-drenched hair. “So, what did the gods want?”

Vojtech watched her carefully, hands clasped before him. “You’re to go to the city of Kezda. A boy there is immune, it seems, to Vrakan abilities. You are to kill him.”

Scarko dropped the head with a thud. “What?” she hissed. “Why me? I’m your guard. Send someone else.”

Vojtech smiled. “As much as I enjoy you bossing me around, the gods are not so easily convinced.” He wiped his hands on his black robes and sighed. “This boy is a street fighter,” he wrinkled his nose, “taking on Vrakan defectives from the Warskian army. While he isn’t able to die from the usual Vrakan methods—ice, wind, fire, shadows—I think your magic could kill him. That’s why you.”

Scarko left the head on the stone floor and stalked toward the stairwell, behind the Djavul.

“I’m sure he’d die by sword just fine. Tell the gods I won’t go. A street fighter—the nerve of them…”

She made to pass Vojtech, but he snaked a hand out and gently stroked her dark blonde braid, the color of damp sand. She spun around to face him, fury in her eyes. But it was equally matched in his.

“I am the Djavul of the Order of Saints, Scarko Kadezska. You will not blasphemy our gods here. You know as well as I do that we cannot resist their orders, and we should not. They have guided me thus far.” He took a step toward her, brushed a cold finger against her cheek. “You will do this, and you will return to me.”

She stuck her tongue out at him and turned, clomping up the stairs. She heard him chuckle softly as she pushed open the doors from the dungeon, the Shadows on guard making way for her, black thread entwined in their grey cloaks, same as hers.

“Watch him,” she said unceremoniously.”

Author Bio:

Kali Rose Schmidt is an author, mother, and villain lover. She likes bloody tales of monsters, yoga with the lights off, and anything that goes bump in the night.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Pinterest




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Waiting on Wednesday – Loki: Where Mischief Lies by Mackenzi Lee

Release Date: September 3rd 2019

This is the first of three young adult novels from New York Times best-selling author Mackenzi Lee that explores the untapped potential and duality of heroism of popular characters in the Marvel Universe.

Before the days of going toe-to-toe with the Avengers, a younger Loki is desperate to prove himself heroic and capable, while it seems everyone around him suspects him of inevitable villainy and depravity . . . except for Amora. Asgard’s resident sorceress-in-training feels like a kindred spirit-someone who values magic and knowledge, who might even see the best in him.

But when Loki and Amora cause the destruction of one of Asgard’s most prized possessions, Amora is banished to Earth, where her powers will slowly and excruciatingly fade to nothing. Without the only person who ever looked at his magic as a gift instead of a threat, Loki slips further into anguish and the shadow of his universally adored brother, Thor.

When Asgardian magic is detected in relation to a string of mysterious murders on Earth, Odin sends Loki to investigate. As he descends upon nineteenth-century London, Loki embarks on a journey that leads him to more than just a murder suspect, putting him on a path to discover the source of his power-and who he’s meant to be. 

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Books I’m Preordering

Every few months or so I splurge on Barnes and Noble to preorder some of my most anticipated books for the upcoming months, so today I thought I would share which books I decided to preorder recently. Let me know which books you’re preordering or which books I left out that you think I should preorder!

A ruthless young assassin’s journey for revenge comes to a stunning end in the conclusion of this acclaimed epic fantasy trilogy.

The Republic of Itreya is in chaos. Mia Corvere has assassinated Cardinal Duomo and rumors of Consul Scaeva’s death ripple through the street of Godsgrave like wildfire. But buried beneath those same streets, deep in the ancient city’s bones, lies a secret that will change the Republic forever.

Mia and her brother Jonnen must journey through the depths of the ancient metropolis. Their quest will take them through the Godsgrave underdark, across the Sea of Swords, back to the library of the Quiet Mountain and the poisoned blades of Mia’s old mentors, and at last the fabled Crown of the Moon. There, Mia will at last discover the origins of the darkin, and learn the destiny that lies in store for her and her world. But with the three suns now in descent, and Truedark on the horizon, will she survive?

The mesmerizing adult debut from #1 New York Timesbestselling author Leigh Bardugo

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

Experience Feyre Archeron’sjourney all over again with the beautiful collector’s edition of A Court of Thorns and Roses, the seductive first book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series by Sarah J. Maas, featuring a deluxe new package, an updated map, ribbon pull, and more! 

When nineteen-year-old Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin-one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.
As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it or doom Tamlin-and his world-forever.

All of the magic of Feyre’s epic journey and romance is reflected in this enchanting, collectible edition of A Court of Thorns and Roses, which comes complete with a cloth slipcase featuring unique foil art on the case and book cover, ribbon pull, brand-new interior page designs, metallic endpapers, and a newly illustrated map.

**Synopses and images derived from Goodreads**

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Mini Reviews – May 2019

43831563Chosen Champion by Elise Kova

Series: Air Awakens: Vortex Visions #2

Rating: 1/5

**I received an e-ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review**

DNF at 30%

I just can’t do it with this series. The original series, Air Awakens, was amazing and I would recommend it to any fantasy lover, but this spin-off sequel series just falls short in every form of the word. I did the majority of my complaining in my review of the first book, but when I started reading the first few chapters of this one I realized just how much I really couldn’t continue with this series. Maybe it isn’t fair of me to rate this without reading the full text, but I’m pretty confident that this is how I’ll feel. The integration of stereotypical fantasy aspects such as elfin and using a different language for magic (both of which were not in the original series) are such a turn-off and feels like an attempt to pander to the audience. Even the characters seem flat and like they’re attempting to be more than they really are. I don’t see myself returning to this series, which is a shame considering the first series was so great.

CoverGirl Gone Viral by Arvin Ahmadi

RATING: 4/5

**I received an Advanced Readers’ Copy of this book from the publisher (PenguinTeen) in order to participate in the blog tour and to give an honest review**

This is one of those books where I went in thinking it would go a completely different direction than it actually did. The premise is essentially that the main character, Opal Hopper, enters a contest to try and face the man that saw her father last, just before he disappeared. But when Opal ends up going viral, she ends up getting a lot more than she bargained for. This book touches on some very interesting aspects including lying, fame, and nostalgia. In this near future, there is a group of people known as “Luds” that essentially hate technology. Opal notices that, even though everyone else claims that technology is the best thing, there is still some deep set nostalgia for the little things in life. After all, cooking a steak doesn’t have the same feel and smell when it’s in VR. Girl Gone Viral basically voiced everything I’ve heard or thought about regarding the truth, people, and technology and even brought in sexual harassment to show just how different people behave when they’re online. It also shows just how obsessed we become with our image and how absorbed we as consumers can become invested in the lives of others. There were so many directions that this book could have taken and during the last hundred pages or so I was wracking by brain to figure out what was going to happen, but the ending was what fell short for me. After such a fabulous beginning and a nail-biting plot points throughout the story, I turned past the last page absolutely certain I was missing the last chapter or that this was going to end up being a series. Overall, I definitely recommend giving this a read, but I wouldn’t set high expectations for the ending.

31450752Because You Love to Hate Me edited by Ameriie

RATING: 2/5

Villains are awesome. They’re usually the type that I gravitate to no matter what the genre is, but this was such a snore. Not only do I absolutely hate the Booktuber portions (I don’t have anything against the Booktubers themselves, I just think they were weak chapters). I didn’t really like any of the stories either. They had weak concepts like Jack and the Beanstock and The Little Mermaid as a siren. A lot of them felt strained and like each author just didn’t know what to write for their given prompt. If you like retellings you might enjoy a few stories in this, but overall I was just really disappointed especially with some of the bigger name authors that wrote books I love.

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Vortex Visions (ARC) by Elise Kova – Review

41834791Title: Vortex Visions (ARC)
Author: Elise Kova
Series: Air Awakens: Vortex Chronicles
Release Date: February 4th, 2019
Rating: 3/5

**Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader Edition of this book in exchange for an honest review**

For those of you that don’t know, Vortex Visions is the first book in a new series in the same world as its sister series, Air Awakens. If you haven’t read Air Awakens or finished the series, there is bound to be some spoilers in here, but, as the author Elise Kova has openly stated, you don’t have to read Air Awakens before reading Vortex Visions. 

Also, my reviews tend to be a bit spoilery, so if you’re not a fan of that I suggest going forward with caution. I do, however, try to keep plot spoilers and big events out so not to ruin the book for anyone.

For this review, I’ve decided to split this into a few categories; plot, world-building, and characters.

Plot: 
I picked this book up excited not only because I got to revisit the Solaris Empire, but because I would get to see some of my favourite characters all grown up and meet a whole bunch of new characters to accompany them. Instead, I got a lot of Vi complaining about her life, going to her lessons, and learning a bunch of new stuff that seems completely woven from scratch and not at all like the original series. Perhaps this is what Elise Kova meant when she said you don’t have to read Air Awakens.

Quite honestly, and here’s a spoiler so don’t get mad when I say that the most interesting parts of this book were when Vi had run-ins with death. It’s like with some fantasy series when the characters take long walks to get from place to place except there’s no walking and it is all in the same general area but with a lot of thinking, extremely fake girl gossip, and complaining about how life isn’t all that fair. You’re not 13, Vi, it’s time to grow up a little.

The disease, the White Death, was probably the best plot aspect of the whole book and something I hope to hear more about in future books.

The ending was okay. It was much like I expected given the rest of the novel, but at that point, I reached a point where I didn’t really care about most of the characters involved, which is not great. I think it’ll be a great way to push into book two. A lot of loose ends that make me want to pick up the next book.

World-Building:
Of course, Elise never disappoints with her world-building. I absolutely can’t complain about it. And for those of you that read Air Awakens, were probably surprised about the inclusion of even more world-building in this! I must admit, part of me is very upset that there is a bigger world than what we previously thought. To me, it seems like that just makes the plights of the characters seem less worth it. In other words, why would a bigger kingdom in a bigger part of the world not matter more?

The magic aspect of Air Awakens was one of my favourite parts and by essentially belittling the powers of those in Solaris, it made me sad that Vhalla, who was seemingly so important, doesn’t matter a whole lot in the grand scheme of the world. I’m really picky when it comes to magic systems and I happened to like how the magic system was in the first series, so the fact that that was all basically thrown out and replaced with the formulaic “words are power and are what drive power” idea is kind of irritating. It’s how most magic systems are in a lot of other YA fantasy, so I expect something different because I kept thinking about Eragon by Christopher Paolini the whole time. Now that is a magic system with words that works.

Since J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, I think it has become a cliche that fantasy writers feel like they have to have elves in their writing. 5 books written in the exact same universe before Vortex Visions and there is no mention of “elfin” until this book. I understand that the world has expanded and that we are still learning about it, but this feels a little forced and I’m not for it.

Characters:
Vi:
As far as main characters go, I found her…bland. She came off as the typical character that was separated from the life she should have lived with very little freedom. And of course, she likes to go out and hunt. How very original. I found her less individual and more like a watered-down version of her mother, Vhalla. It’s no wonder the Senate was unsure about her taking the throne seeing as she never set foot in their capital city, no one knew much about her, and her younger brother Romulin was living the life she essentially should have. I feel very little sympathy for her cause.

I think she did a lot of growing up throughout the book, though and I’m genuinely interested to see where the next book takes the rest of her journey.

Taavin:
He might have been my favourite part of the book. He was mysterious and intriguing, so I can’t wait to dig into his character more. Especially with how this one ended *wink wink*.

Andru:
Poor, beautiful, misunderstood Andru is too pure for this world and deserves to be showered with love and attention. He was made out as a bad guy almost the entire book, but he has so much more to him.

Ellene:
Perhaps my least favourite character. Acts like the worst teenage stereotype I’ve ever seen. Quite disappointing, really.

Last Thoughts:
I can’t lie, I liked Air Awakens far more than this and, for those of you that are reading this to decide where to start, I have to recommend you start there. This series can wait for you, but I also think, despite the deep flaws in this story, it is truly worth the read. There are enough characters that I care about, mainly from the original series, but a few in this as well, that I’m quite attached to and would like to see how they end up.

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LGBTQIA+ Books

Since I was feeling a little beat up about season 7 of Voltron, I decided to compile a list of books that have characters that are LGBTQIA+. Enjoy!

Representation is a big deal in the modern age. While some of these books might not necessarily be considered “modern” and a few others might not be conventionally LGBTQIA+, they all DO have representation of one form or another. In an age where people are becoming more accepting, it is imperative to introduce diverse characters to our younger generations and even older generations to show them that there is absolutely nothing wrong with accepting who you are and how to accept the people around you. In recent years, I have seen this improve tremendously and can’t wait to see how this improves even more in the future of print media, TV, and movies.

If there’s a book you love that isn’t listed below, or if you’re an author with LGBTQIA+ rep in your book, feel free to drop the title/link to your book down in the comments. I tried to keep this list to ones that I had read, but I slipped in a few that I haven’t gotten around to.

11250317
1. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

2. Captive Prince by P.S. Pacat

3. Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

3.5 The Iliad by Homer

4. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

5. Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

6. The Raven Cycle (series) by Maggie Stiefvater

120000207. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

8. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard (series) by Rick Riordan

9. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

10. The Mortal Instruments (series) by Cassandra Clare

11. Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

12. Contagion by Erin Bowman

13. None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

14. Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

15. Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall

16. Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

17. At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

18. Fence (graphic novel series) by P.S. Pacat

19. Every Day (series) by David Levithan

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2017 Debut Author Bash – Rebecca Ross



35098412When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.

Growing up in the southern Kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her for such a life. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—the solstice does not go according to plan and she is left without a patron.

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, and with no other choices, she accepts. But there is much more to his story, and Brienna soon discovers that he has sought her out for his own vengeful gain. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the archrival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.

With war brewing between the two lands, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. The ultimate decision Brienna must determine is: Who will be that queen?


1. Q: Which passion would you pick and why?

A: I would definitely be a passion of knowledge (although I think dramatics have the most fun!).

2. Q: What gave you inspiration for your world (books, movies, etc.)?

A: Since I’m a very visual person, I glean a lot of inspiration from Pinterest; I have a board for TQR that is full of landscapes and castles and costumes. I think there is something about the Renaissance that really draws me; I love the thought of culture going through a rebirth. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman is one of my favorite books ever, and I loved the world she created in that story. And I’m also a huge fan of the movie Ever After! I think all of these things really built up my own imagination.

3. Q: Which character do you relate to the most?

A: I relate the most to Brienna. I feel like she and I would be pretty good friend in real life 🙂

4. Q: Will we learn more about Brienna’s passion-sisters or Cartier?

A: Yes! You will definitely learn more about Cartier in the second installment. And Brienna’s passion-sisters are some of my favorite characters, so I hope to also do more with them.

5. Q: Do you have any writing habits?

A: I must always have a drink with me when I’m writing. I typically have coffee, water, herbal tea, and kombucha on my desk (sometimes all of those at one time!).

6. Q: What kind of research did you do for The Queen’s Rising?

A: Here are a few things I did research on before I got started writing: clothes, music, castles, food, medieval swordsmanship. I feel like most fantasy is grounded in history, and while I didn’t use all of my research, it definitely provided a good jumping off point for me to get started writing.

7. Q: What kind of books do you read in your freetime?

A: I love to read fantasy in my spare time.

8. Q: Do you have an author you always read/a favourite author?

A: My top two favorite authors are Juliet Marillier and Melina Marchetta. They know how to write characters and create worlds like no one else (and they also have both made me ugly cry in their books).

9. Q: What can we look forward to from you in the future?

A: Definitely more stories! TQR is a trilogy, and I’m actually going through edits for Book 2 right now. Book 2 is a direct sequel (not a companion book).

10. Q: Any advice for aspiring writers?

A: My advice for aspiring writers is to write. And I know that sounds simple, but you really must learn how to dedicate time to getting words on the page. You don’t have to necessarily write every day (although I do feel like it helps turn it into a good habit), but you must hone the discipline to write even when you don’t feel like it. You learn the most about crafting a novel by going through the whole process: the beginning, the middle, the end. And be prepared to rewrite. All good writing is rewriting.

And a Giveaway!!!!!