Posted in book review, fantasy, fiction, gifted

The Winter Duke by Claire Eliza Bartlett

Published by Titan Books October 2020 (UK)

Titan Books sent me an e-copy of this book in exchange for a review!

Synopsis

An enchanted tale of intrigue where a duke’s daughter is the only survivor of a magical curse.

When Ekata’s brother is finally named heir, there will be nothing to keep her at home in Kylma Above with her murderous family. Not her books or science experiments, not her family’s icy castle atop a frozen lake, not even the tantalizingly close Kylma Below, a mesmerizing underwater kingdom that provides her family with magic. But just as escape is within reach, her parents and twelve siblings fall under a strange sleeping sickness.

In the space of a single night, Ekata inherits the title of duke, her brother’s warrior bride, and ever-encroaching challengers from without—and within—her own ministry. Nothing has prepared Ekata for diplomacy, for war, for love…or for a crown she has never wanted. If Kylma Above is to survive, Ekata must seize her family’s power. And if Ekata is to survive, she must quickly decide how she will wield it.

Review

In all honesty, when I first started this YA book, the opening chapter completely overwhelmed me – so much happened and Bartlett introduces such a rich world that I completely thought I wouldnt be continuing with the book … but I pushed myself to not judge by an opening and trust that the author would fill me in on all the details – and she did.

I really enjoyed the characters in The Winter Duke, Ekata was a great protagonist who I did root for – her decisions were human – sometimes reckless and other times calculated which really built her as a solid character. I enjoyed her choosing of a wife although felt the relationship part of the marriage was timid and more hinted at than actions – understandable given their age (sixteen I believe). Bartlett also includes a non-binary character who is quite important to the plot at one point so it was great to see some solid diversity in that respect.

The world was fantastic – I loved the idea of an underwater community living below an ice palace. The relationship between the two worlds is one of agreement – an exchange for the magic that the underwater dwellers can grow – I just found this totally unique and it took me by surprise!

Goodreads has this down as ‘part Sleeping Beauty, part Anastasia’ but I’m not completely on board with that – I think The Winter Duke was much more original. Bartlett uses russian style names and she has a very in-depth political plot running throughout the novel which although I found a little confusing, it did make sense and I really appreciated the detail involved.

Also – that cover! The US cover is a little different – I much prefer the UK choice – it reminds me of fairytales and folklore which is perfect!

Goodreads Rating: 4 / 5 stars!

Posted in book review, book tour, fiction, gifted, Uncategorized

Book Tour! The Very Real World of Emily Adams by Samantha Rose

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Published by Immortal Works LLC – June 2020


Synopsis

“Be a rebel. In a world of darkness, become light.”

Emily Adams has lost everything. Injured from a fight with her now officially-ex-boyfriend, she’s fled to an unfamiliar city with nothing but the change in her pocket and a broken relationship with her father. As hope slips away, she seeks to put a permanent end to her pain…

Until an enchanting encounter with a magic man in a dress changes everything.

Given a new chance at life, Emily embarks on a journey with her new BFF, a mysterious clairvoyant, and a band of musicians to stop the monsters that threaten the world. And she may uncover something even more impossible-if she can let go of the past and believe in herself enough to embrace it.


Review

Firstly, thank you to Love Books Tours for inviting me on this one and providing me with a copy of the book.

This book was absolutely bonkers. My original thoughts were that Samantha Rose must have had a dream of all this, woken up in the middle of the night and scribbled it all down. I didn’t know where the narrative was leading me at all so it was a complete surprise.  In the beginning I thought I was reading a contemporary novel – here was our protagonist, struggling with her mental health and here was a boy coming to save her but I soon ate my words there were monsters, aliens, mystery and adventure all rolled into one.

Quite quickly into the novel, Emily is involved in the weirdest situation. I don’t think I have ever read a book that flips the story upside down quite like this one. I enjoyed how the characters and narrative kept me guessing and I liked how when it came to saving the world, the human girl didn’t magically get involved and manage to do what the super humans couldn’t. Plus on the opposite side of the spectrum – she didn’t constantly need saving either, sometimes humans need to know when to stay out of the way!

The world today doesn’t make sense and I think that’s the message I got from this story. The world of Emily Adams is that little bit more crazy, but that is what she needed to find herself and settle in a new life. When we first meet Emily, she is lost and looking for a way to end her life. When Lipstick Rick appears and helps her out, she is given a chance and she turns her life around and helps out a lot of people in the process. I think it is just trying to tell us that a little nice can go a long way, sometimes you just need someone to ask if you’re okay.

Throughout the book I was happy with how Emily was represented –  I empathised with her a lot. It is realistic to feel like you’re doing things wrong and it is common to feel like you are always in the way – without shouting and screaming about abusive relationships and how these can cause mental health issues, Samantha Rose uses good descriptive paragraphs to put you in Emily’s mindset, she uses a lot of words to get you there though. It made me a little uncomfortable at times but it was a good discomfort – it gave me hope that Emily would come out the other side and grow as a person now that she had found better people to become part of – I’m sure a lot of us can understand that. The friends that Emily makes in the novel were sassy and I was all for the sarcastic retorts which often made me laugh.

I guess it’s ironic that Emily Adam’s ‘very real world’ is an accurate representation of the actual world. I don’t want to say too much more here and ruin this for anyone who hasn’t read it because while I can admire the strangeness of the story I did feel little bit disconnected at times – the narrative felt like it jumped around a lot – some situations came from way out of left field and I did get a little tired towards the end. Lipstick Rick’s speeches are so long and while it is a joke within the novel, I just don’t think we needed so many words.

I gave this book 3 Stars – it was okay, I’m happy to have read it but I wouldn’t read it again. I am interested to see what Samantha Rose thinks up next though.

Goodreads Rating 3 / 5