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The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz ARC {4 Stars}

The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz tells three love stories set in a world where Arthurian magic and legends are very much still true and alive at the turn of the 20th century, where a princess doesn’t want to be the queen and a young witch would happily take her place. The setting of The Ring and the Crown is deliciously fresh with elements of steampunk (alternative historical setting), fantasy (magic!), and romance (the feels!!). While I’m not actually much of a romance person  myself, the characters in The Ring and the Crown won me over easily and I found myself very much caring about how all of these relationships (romantic and platonic) would work out.

Note: I received The Ring and the Crown from the publisher for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.

The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz ARC {4 Stars}

The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz (The Ring and the Crown #1)
Published by Disney Hyperion on April 1st, 2014
Genres: Historical Fantasy, Romance, YA
Length: 384 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily Throne, and Aelwyn Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. But who will rule, and who will serve?

Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second, Supreme Ruler of the Franco-British Empire. With the help of her Head Merlin, Emrys, Eleanor has maintained her stranglehold on the world's only source of magic. She rules the most powerful empire the world has ever seen.

But even with the aid of Emrys' magic, Eleanor's extended lifespan is nearing its end. The princess must marry and produce an heir or the Empire will be vulnerable to its greatest enemy, Prussia. The two kingdoms must unite to end the war, and the only solution is a match between Marie and Prince Leopold VII, heir to the Prussian throne. But Marie has always loved Gill, her childhood friend and soldier of the Queen's Guard.

Together, Marie and Aelwyn, a powerful magician in her own right, come up with a plan. Aelwyn will take on Marie's face, allowing the princess to escape with Gill and live the quiet life she's always wanted. And Aelwyn will get what she's always dreamed of--the chance to rule. But the court intrigue and hunger for power in Lenoran England run deeper than anyone could imagine. In the end, there is only rule that matters in Eleanor's court: trust no one.

4 Stars

Strengths:
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Stolen Songbird by Danielle Jensen ARC {4 Stars}

Stolen Songbird by Danielle Jensen starts with a kidnapping, adds in a pinch of French-based fantasy, and proceeds to sweep you off your feet with a painfully beautiful romance. There is a reason everyone is loving Stolen Songbird so much and it really comes down to how gosh-darn readable it is! I wasn’t planning on finishing it and then all of a sudden it was 1 AM and I was done with the book; how did that happen??

Note: I received an ARC of Stolen Songbird from the publisher for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Stolen Songbird by Danielle Jensen ARC {4 Stars}

Stolen Songbird by Danielle Jensen (The Malediction Trilogy #1)
Published by Strange Chemistry on April 1st, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Length: 436 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

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

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

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

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

4 Stars

Strengths:
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Updates from the Lair 4/12/14

Updates from the Lair

Updates from the Lair is my weekly wrap-up post that includes what happened in my real life, what I’ve been reading, my posts from the week, my book haul for the week, books I added to my wish-list (sort of like Waiting on Wednesday), and what I’m thinking about reading next week (and would love your advice on!). 

As I’m writing this post, it’s Monday because that’s how on top of things I am this week :D. In reality, it’s just because I’m hopping on a plane on Wednesday and really didn’t want to risk assuming I’d have time to prepare something Friday night like usual. It seems highly likely I will have no time at this conference since it is only a few days! In any case, I’m at a conference this week/weekend which should be fun enough since it’s pretty low pressure (I went last year). I’m hoping to get lots of reading (Dreams of Gods and Monsters!) done on the plane, therefore I’m only guessing what I’ll be reading by the time you read this! Helloooooo future!

Yeah, it’s a weird night, don’t mind me ;-).

My Week

The Ophelia ProphecyI’m reading this one currently (ie early in the week) and hopefully will finish soon! I’m really enjoying it even though it’s technically “romance sci-fi”. I don’t find the romance to be eyeroll-worthy and think I’ll probably end up really liking it. The whole genetically manipulated humanoids taking over the world thing is done quite well, my inner biologist is happy with this sci-fi :D.

Dreams of Gods and Monsters

Of course this is what everyone will be reading this week! I’m going to be listening on audio and therefore going slow. I’m loving it so far! Also, I must admit that I’ve never liked these covers… they don’t really make any sense ya know?

And in case you missed it, these were my posts this week:

Also as a special bonus this week, I got to be a part of Fantasy Cafe’s Women in SF&F Month and spread my love McCaffrey this week :D.

Reports from Other Lairs

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Sci-fi and Fantasy Friday {SF/F Reviews and Giveaways}

Sci-fi And Fantasy Fridays

Link-up Your Sci-fi and Fantasy Reviews and Giveaways!

I’m a huge sci-fi and fantasy fan, to the point that that is really all I read anymore. Therefore, I decided to start a weekly feature where I get all of you to gather the sf/f reviews and giveaways you’ve published and found so that we can all discover new books, blogs, and giveaways in our favorite genres!

Woot, it’s Sci-fi and Fantasy Friday time :D. Reminder: Use one of the genre labels in your link titles for easier searching and don’t link up posts that have been linked in previous weeks please!

(Note for email/RSS subscribers: There are link-ups in this post that don’t show up for you, so click the post title to see them and find some great posts this week!)

  • SF – Science Fiction
  • F – Fantasy
  • UF – Urban Fantasy
  • PNR – Paranormal Romance
  • DYS – Dystopian
  • YA – Young Adult
  • A – Adult
  • MG – Middle-grade

Sci-fi and Fantasy Reviews

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Finding Diamonds in the Rough

Book Discussion

Finding Diamonds in the Rough: Going Forward

I’ve gone through a number of phases when it comes to book blogging and what I want to read. Back before I started blogging, I only found out about new series if they caught my eye in the bookstore. My parents and I read a lot of the same books, so if one of us found a series that was awesome, we would all read it. However, that meant that we then ran out of recommendations for each other it seemed, or maybe they just didn’t want to share what they were reading sometimes!

Once I started blogging, I was exposed to this whole new world of books in the YA genre. I was skeptical at first, but Angelya convinced me to give Under the Never Sky a try and I’ve slowly read more and more YA since I hear about them from other book bloggers. Book blogging also introduced me to the idea of advanced copies, which meant that I suddenly had a lot of motivation to keep track of upcoming books so that I could request them. I also found out that *gasp* Goodreads had information about the publication date of nearly every upcoming book!

This realization and book blogging in general started me on the hype train of doom: trying to read every new release that people were geeking out about. I wanted to be able to join in the conversations about these super popular series, so I tried to read and review as many of them as I could. This marked a shift in what books I was reviewing, since previously I had been reviewing a lot of older sci-fi and fantasy and now I was reviewing mostly recently-published YA.

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Earth Girl by Janet Edwards {4 Stars}

Earth Girl by Janet Edwards tells the story of a future where you can instantly portal from Earth to any settled planet, as long as you aren’t Handicapped. Jarra is one of the few people who are for some reason allergic to any planet other than Earth, but she isn’t letting that hold her back. Earth Girl tackles tough issues related to ableism while introducing readers to an immersive futuristic Earth (complete with awesome new slang!). If you enjoy sci-fi, then you really can’t miss Earth Girl!

Note: I received Earth Girl from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Small note: the text of the US finished copy of Earth Girl is quite small, so if you have difficulty reading smaller text, you might want to get the e-copy instead!

Earth Girl by Janet Edwards {4 Stars}

Earth Girl by Janet Edwards (Earth Girl #1)
Published by Pyr on March 5th, 2013
Genres: Sci-fi, YA
Length: 271 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

2788. Only the handicapped live on Earth. Eighteen-year-old Jarra is among the one in a thousand people born with an immune system that cannot survive on other planets. Sent to Earth at birth to save her life, she has been abandoned by her parents. She can’t travel to other worlds, but she can watch their vids, and she knows all the jokes they make. She’s an “ape,” a “throwback,” but this is one ape girl who won’t give in.

Jarra makes up a fake military background for herself and joins a class of norms who are on Earth for a year of practical history studies excavating the dangerous ruins of the old cities. She wants to see their faces when they find out they’ve been fooled into thinking an ape girl was a norm. She isn’t expecting to make friends with the enemy, to risk her life to save norms, or to fall in love.

4 Stars

Strengths:
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Top Ten Most Unique Books I’ve Read

Top Ten Tuesday

Thanks to the gals of The Broke and The Bookish for hosting this meme every week!

So my Minnesotan brains has trouble not putting scare quotes around unique and thinking of it as meaning a bad thing, like what you say when you’re trying to give a compliment but can’t think of anything good to say, haha. However, that is not how I mean it this time! I  tried really hard to come up with the ten books that have something that makes them different from anything else I’ve read.

Also, so many of these books actually fit into multiple of these categories >.>. But I had to try to fit them since that’s how my brain works ;-).

Amazing Worlds

The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson Where the Rock Splits the Sky by Philip Webb  Elantris by Brandon Sanderson A Turn of Light by Julie E. Czerneda
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The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson ARC {4.5 Stars}

The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson is a steampunk middle-grade story about a scrappy girl named Piper and a world where forgotten objects from other places fall from the sky as meteors. Yes, you read that right, steampunk + middle grade + meteors of objects from other worlds! I was sucked into The Mark of the Dragonfly from the very beginning and absolutely adored it. If you enjoy middle-grade that still has an intriguing world and plot, then look no further than The Mark of the Dragonfly!

Note: I received The Mark of the Dragonfly through Netgalley for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.

The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson ARC {4.5 Stars}

The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson
Published by Delacorte on March 25th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, MG, Steampunk
Length: 400 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Piper has never seen the Mark of the Dragonfly until she finds the girl amid the wreckage of a caravan in the Meteor Fields.

The girl doesn't remember a thing about her life, but the intricate tattoo on her arm is proof that she's from the Dragonfly Territories and that she's protected by the king. Which means a reward for Piper if she can get the girl home.

The one sure way to the Territories is the 401, a great old beauty of a train. But a ticket costs more coin than Piper could make in a year. And stowing away is a difficult prospect--everyone knows that getting past the peculiar green-eyed boy who stands guard is nearly impossible.

Life for Piper just turned dangerous. A little bit magical. And very exciting, if she can manage to survive the journey.

4.5 Stars

Strengths:
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The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain eARC {2 Stars}

The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain tells the story of a disgraced Underworld prince and a small-town girl who dreams of being a rock star, with a twist on the Persephone and Hades myth! While the writing is fast and readable, I found The Shadow Prince so filled with tropes and foolish decisions that I just couldn’t cheer for the characters. I also was disappointed to see another YA romance that starts off unhealthy and a little creepy and doesn’t improve much. If a guy has your name scarred onto his arm, that’s a red flag :-/.

Note: I received The Shadow Prince from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.

The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain eARC {2 Stars}

The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain (Into the Dark #1)
Published by Egmont on March 11th, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, YA
Length: 512 pages
How I got my copy: Edelweiss
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Haden Lord, the disgraced prince of the Underrealm, has been sent to the mortal world to entice a girl into returning with him to the land of the dead. Posing as a student at Olympus Hills High—a haven for children of the rich and famous—Haden must single out the one girl rumored to be able to restore immortality to his race.

Daphne Raines has dreams much bigger than her tiny southern Utah town, so when her rock star dad suddenly reappears, offering her full tuition to Olympus Hills High’s prestigious music program, she sees an opportunity to catch the break she needs to make it as a singer. But upon moving into her estranged father’s mansion in California, and attending her glamorous new school, Daphne soon realizes she isn’t the only student in Olympus who doesn’t quite belong.

Haden and Daphne—destined for each other—know nothing of the true stakes their fated courtship entails. As war between the gods brews, the teenagers’ lives collide. But Daphne won’t be wooed easily and when it seems their prophesied link could happen, Haden realizes something he never intended—he’s fallen in love. Now to save themselves, Haden and Daphne must rewrite their destinies. But as their destinies change, so do the fates of both their worlds.

2 Stars

Strengths:
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Updates from the Lair 4/05/14

Updates from the Lair

Updates from the Lair is my weekly wrap-up post that includes what happened in my real life, what I’ve been reading, my posts from the week, my book haul for the week, books I added to my wish-list (sort of like Waiting on Wednesday), and what I’m thinking about reading next week (and would love your advice on!). 

What do you think about switching the weekly updates to Saturday instead of Sunday? I’m conflicted since Saturday is always one of the lowest days of the week and Sunday the highest, but I don’t know if that is just because of Saturday or because people are actually interested in the weekly updates post, hehe. Also I’ve noticed a fair number of people aren’t a fan of these posts, so if anyone is willing to expand: just too long? Too frequent (monthly instead perhaps)? Just not interested?

Anyway, life has been very up and down this week. I’ve gotten funding for the coming year, so I will be all set for that. I didn’t get a fellowship I was hoping for, but life goes on! My back was doing well after the steroid injections last week and then I tried to actually do something (walked for an hour and a ceramics class!) and now it hurts like the dickens again :-/. All the deadlines are this coming week and then I’m traveling at the end of the week! April is going to be nuts, but then it will be summer and things will be calmer in between spurts of traveling, haha. Oh the life of academia!

My Week

The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

I read this one in about two days I think, it’s so addictive! The romances were pretty much the plot until 2/3 through, but I still really enjoyed The Ring and the Crown since the characters were just so compelling and the writing is really fast. Also the setting is an alternative 20th century where Arthurian magic and people are still around :D.

Stolen Songbird by Danielle Jensen

Look at me and finishing books this week! I also read Stolen Songbird, which was also a very fast and enjoyable read. There are a couple of things I couldn’t help getting nitpicky about, but I’m really excited for this series from Strange Chemistry and am seriously impressed by this small pub since they keep putting out really high quality stuff!

The Forbidden Library

As you’ll see later in this here update post, I got an ARC of Forbidden Library this week and started it right away! It’s a cute book magic MG with interior illustrations (though my ARC only had the first couple D:). I haven’t read Wexler’s adult books, but I hear they are excellent and I’m quite enjoying his MG, hehe.

And in case you missed it, these were my posts this week:

Reports from Other Lairs

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