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Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones {4 Stars}

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones {4 Stars}

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones (Wintersong #1)
Published by Thomas Dunne Books on Feb. 7th, 2017
Genres: Fairytale Retelling, Romance
Page Length: 436 pages
How I got my copy: Purchased
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Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

4 Stars

Strengths:
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Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule {3 Stars}

Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule tells the story of Sing as she starts at a music conservatory and gets pulled into a world where creatures from stories have come alive even though she’s just trying to get the lead role in the upcoming school opera. The fantasy elements of Strange Sweet Song are pulled from a fabled opera written by the conservatory’s founder and the setting evokes imagery of mist-covered woods and bright eyes shining in the dark. If you enjoy stories involving music and singing, you definitely have to check out Strange Sweet Song.

Note: I received Strange Sweet Song from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule {3 Stars}

Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 11, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Gothic, Paranormal Romance, YA
Page Length: 336 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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A young soprano enrolls in a remote music academy where nothing, not even her mysterious young vocal coach, is as it seems

Outside Dunhammond Conservatory, there lies a dark forest. And in the forest, they say, lives a great beast called the Felix. But Sing da Navelli never put much faith in the rumors and myths surrounding the school; music flows in her blood, and she is there to sing for real. This prestigious academy will finally give her the chance to prove her worth—not as the daughter of world-renowned musicians—but as an artist and leading lady in her own right.

Yet despite her best efforts, there seems to be something missing from her voice. Her doubts about her own talent are underscored by the fact that she is cast as the understudy in the school's production of her favorite opera, Angelique. Angelique was written at Dunhammond, and the legend says that the composer was inspired by forest surrounding the school, a place steeped in history, magic, and danger. But was it all a figment of his imagination, or are the fantastic figures in the opera more than imaginary?

Sing must work with the mysterious Apprentice Nathan Daysmoor as her vocal coach, who is both her harshest critic and staunchest advocate. But Nathan has secrets of his own, secrets that are entwined with the myths and legends surrounding Dunhammond, and the great creature they say lives there.

3 Stars

Strengths:
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Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffrey

All right, it’s going to be a throwback this week since I haven’t had time to read anything new after my sprint at the end of last week :-). I read a lot of Anne McCaffrey when I was younger (who didn’t, really?), including all of the Dragonrider books (yes, every single last one of them, including all the short stories), but this is not a Dragonrider shoutout; this is a shoutout to a different little world in the Federated Sentient Planets universe! I will be the first to admit that I don’t know enough about music and physics to know if this plot is possible, but it seems cool from a layman’s perspective! And it’s got a strong (not perfect) female character, what else do you need? HA!

Title: Crystal Singer
Author: Anne McCaffrey
Pages: 311 (paperback)
Setting: A planet in the Federated Sentient Planets that has valuable and very sensitive crystals on it, as well as a nasty little parasite. The planet, Ballybran, has these crystals that are vital to space travel, but can only be mined by people with perfect pitch. Ballybran is generally a scary place (hurricane-force storms, parasite/symbiont that infects everyone) with great riches for those who are lucky enough to survive! Oh, and they have to have perfect pitch, doh.
Premise: Killashandra Ree does have perfect pitch, yey! And she’s been working her butt off to become a crazy awesome singer person, but she’s not quite perfect enough. Instead of spending her life in choirs (ie not in the spotlight), she decides to go to this mysterious planet that offers riches beyond imagining and for some reason requires the recruits to have perfect pitch. She doesn’t know much beyond that and that not many people ever come back from the planet… awesome!

Strengths:

  • Unique premise! I’ve personally never heard this story premise before, and the little bits I know about physics and music didn’t cringe when I read the book, so I think that McCaffrey pulls off this interesting premise fairly well
  • Strong female character, good role model for adolescent girls! And fun to read for everyone else
  • Good world-building. If there is something that McCaffrey is good at, it’s coming up with interesting places to put her characters and fleshing the world out
  • Easy read :-) It’s obviously written for teens, which might turn away some high-brow readers, but it makes it a nice ride for the rest!
  • I seem to recall an entertaining mentor figure, who doesn’t love a good mentor, huh?

Weaknesses:

  • There is a distinct possibility that this strong female character is a little bit more whiny than your average…. I mean she didn’t want to sing in the background and decided to go risk her life instead….  
  • It is McCaffrey teen reading so the plot isn’t all that twisty turny, in fact I recall it being quite straightforward
  • The downside to easy reading is that you are definitely not going to grow intellectually when you read this, double promise. 
  • To people more edu-ma-cated in physics and music, there could be soul cringing details that ruin the story for you, I just don’t know.

Summary: If you are able to take this book for what it is (a mildly entertaining teen sci-fi/fantasy), and aren’t too sensitive to slightly spoiled characters, then it is great fun to read! I would highly recommend it as a during-the-term book just to take a break from all that learning that you are doing. And it is fun to deviate from standard sci-fi/fantasy themes with a little music related sci-fi :D.

Happy reading!
-A