To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

to_kill_a_kingdomTo Kill a Kingdom
By Alexandra Christo
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Kindle ASIN: B074T2H1SH
Pages: 346
Genre: YA Fantasy/ Retelling

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Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most–a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen and or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby–it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good–But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?


My Thoughts

Can I be frank for a moment? I loved this book with all of my bookish heart. I am going to sing its praise like the song of the sirens and encourage all of you to pick it up if you are a fan of retellings.  I devoured it! Holding the strongest affection for fairy tales and deep-sea settings with plots that revolve around mermaids and sirens, I felt as if To Kill a Kingdom were written for me. Of course, it wasn’t, but we paired beautifully.

The skinny..

Princess Lira is a fierce and revered siren. She also happens to be the daughter of the Sea Witch Queen and heir to the throne. Known as the Prince’s Bane for collecting the hearts of princes (17, one for every year she has lived) she is the deadliest. But when she breaks that tradition by bringing back her 18th heart early, she is punished by the Queen and transformed into the very creature they abhor, a human. Now she has until the Winter Solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart or remain a human and lost to her home forever.

Prince Elian, also heir to the throne of his kingdom Midas, knows no other true home than his ship and crew. He sails the seas in search of sirens, seeking to destroy each and every last one in an effort to put an end to the Prince’s Bane and many deaths that occur at their hands. When he rescues a strange woman from the sea who happens to speak the language of the sirens and promises to help him in his quest, he is unsure to as whether he can trust her. But can he risk missing the opportunity to end the mankind’s greatest threat in the sea?

“I’ve spent my life trying to be just what my mother wanted—the worst of us all—in an effort to show that I’m worthy of the trident. I became the Princes’ Bane, a title that defines me throughout the world. For the kingdom—for my mother—I am ruthless.”

What I appreciated..

  • I feel like I could just keep this simple and say EVERYTHING!
  • Lira is a cruel and fierce and completely unapologetic. She goes against the YA grain in terms of protagonist offering something new and refreshing that borders antagonist but never quite reaches that point. I savored every moment of her opposition and cunningness.
  • Prince Elian is admirable, exhibiting an ardent loyalty to his crew and life at the sea while maintaining great respect and love for his own family and the life he does not feel he belongs with. But he is not the perfect gentleman always, as he is a pirate at heart which is often exhibited through a tough exterior and often hard-edged attitude.
  • The world building is established through rich exploration of history and lore that provides a vivid portrayal of life both on land and off. Sirens and mermaids are clearly defined as two separate and hauntingly mesmerizing species that I could not get enough of.
  • Told through alternating perspectives, the writing is seamless and captivating, offering an original take on the familiar while avoiding the typical insta-love trope (thank you for this Alexandra Christo!)

“In the pits of our souls – if I amuse myself with the notion that I have a soul – Elian and I aren’t so different. Two kingdoms that come with responsibilities we each have trouble bearing. Him, the shackles of being pinned to one land and one life. Me, trapped in the confines of my mother’s murderous legacy. And the ocean, calling out to us both. A song of freedom and longing.” 

Challenges some may encounter..

  • There are times the pacing slows down briefly, but chapters are succinct and it recovers easily.
  • There is some violence and graphic content.

To Kill a Kingdom is a stunning reimagination of a classic tale that rewards readers with something original. It’s quick, clever and brimming with enchantment and action! It will find an appreciated home among the shelves of YA Fantasy fans who enjoy a dark and savory retelling and leave them craving more.

tea cup

Serves well with a dark, spiced plum tea.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com  Book Depository

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.

Happy Reading,
Danielle ❤

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Winter Glass by Lexa Hillyer

winter_glassWinter Glass (Spindle Fire #2)
By Lexa Hillyer
Publisher: Harper Teen
ISBN: 9780062440907
Pages: 352
Genre: YA Fantasy/Retelling

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A curse comes undone. A kingdom shatters. But some bonds can’t be broken.

Princess Aurora, torn from the dream world, plots to assassinate the faerie queen Malfleur, only to confront temptations she never expected. Isabelle, meanwhile, opens her heart to Prince William as they attempt to unite their kingdoms and wage war against Malfleur’s army. But when the appearance of an unbreakable glass slipper prompts Isabelle to discover more about her lineage, her true identity begins to take shape and her legacy becomes as clear as ice.

Devoted half-sisters Isabelle and Aurora will grapple with their understanding of love and loyalty as they face a threat even greater than that of the evil queen—the threat of losing each other forever.


My Thoughts

Spindle Fire was a success for me in terms of YA Fantasy & Retellings. I savored every moment of the dark and atmospheric dream world Hillyer had so poetically crafted. I was also a fan of incorporating to sisters and more complex relationships into a reimagined story of Sleeping Beauty. Winter Glass seamlessly picks up where its predecessor concluded and expands on it adding significant depth to Isbe’s and Aurora’s journey.

The skinny.. 

Driven from the dreamworld Sommeil and from Heath, Aurora vows vengeance and seeks to destroy Malfleur once and for all. But in doing so, she will face greater temptations than she has ever known. During Aurora’s efforts to assassinate the faerie queen, Isbe sets out with Prince William in an attempt to unite the kingdom against Malfleur and her armies. However, when Isbe is given a mysteriously indestructible glass slipper, she embarks on a quest that will reveal the truth of her own past and legacy. Now as both girls seek to make sense of it all and save the kingdom, they face their greatest fear, potentially losing one another.

“Sleep is a vast and dreamless dark. But then: tiny lights, like seeds, shower across a corner of the black. Something has snagged its claws in the soft flesh of night.”

What I appreciated..

  • The author’s poetry skills lend a lyrical and melodic prose to her work that adds a dreamlike quality to the story and heightens the “fairy tale” experience.
  • While it is more action driven, we are given a storyline that continues to successfully develop and grow Aurora and Isbe not only as individuals but as half sisters, exploring the complexities and challenges that arises from their love, loyalties, and differences.
  • A female-driven plotline that examines the strengths and weakness of the protagonists through a multifaceted lens.
  • Hillyer’s world building surrenders the reader to the Kingdom of Deluce and beyond, transporting them into an atmospheric and fully engaging experience.
  • Winter Glass is a melting pot of fantasy offering mystery, action, romance, magic, and the traditional good vs evil with stunning finesse and grace.
  •  It builds on its elegant predecessor and beautifully enhances it, offering something richer and new for fans while retaining the beloved and familiar elements of Spindle Fire.

“One night reviled, before break of morn… the shadow and the child were born.”

Challenges some may encounter..

  • Does leaving Sommeil behind count? Because I did miss it.
  • Trying to avoid spoilers but maybe shifting love interests will be a problem for some. I will add though that I am on the fence with this as I favored the change but maybe not how it happened (hard to discuss without divulging important details). Just be warned, if you are a “shipper” you are in for some ups and downs!
  • The pacing slows down at times, but that’s okay. Go with it and savor it, my friends.

Winter Glass is remarkable journey woven between dreams and reality. It paints an imaginative and poetic picture of a timeless tale in new light, creating something unique and rewarding for fans of retellings and fairy tales. Grab a warm cup and allow yourself to be immersed.

tea cup

Serves well with a nice cup of herbal mint tea.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com  Book Depository

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.

Happy Reading,
Danielle ❤

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The Memory of Fire by Callie Bates

the_memory_of_fire

The Memory of Fire (The Waking Land #2)
By Callie Bates
Available 6/5/18
Publisher: Del Rey
ISBN: 9780399177415
Pages: 464
Genre: YA Fantasy

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Jahan Korakides is the hero who saved the life of the crown prince in battle, helped win the revolution in Eren and earned the heart of Elanna, the legendary Wildegarde reborn.

But Jahan Korakides is also broken; haunted by memories of the woman who experimented on him and his brothers as children. So when the empire threatens war in retribution for Elanna’s illegal sorcery, Jahan leaves Eren to negotiate with the emperor on Queen Sophy’s behalf. But the world he left has changed – riots rock the city of Ida, his brother is missing and the crown prince refuses to speak to him.

Jahan’s only hope of success seems to lie with the rebels in Ida. Yet, if he joins them, he will merely spur on the war he’s desperate to avoid, and risk revealing himself as a sorcerer.

And then the witch hunters arrive at court, bringing Elanna in chains.


My Thoughts

While I really enjoyed The Waking Land, it was not without issues for me. I was honestly a bit surprised to be contacted regarding The Memory of Fire. But I am so thankful I was! This is a stellar example of a sequel exceeding its predecessor in the best of ways. And I love nothing more than discovering an author who can take a series and successfully grow and improve it, which is exactly what happens in this beautiful addition to the story.

The skinny..

Following The Waking Land, we are offered a new perspective through the eyes of the nobleman, Jahan. Continuing to conceal his own sorcery he returns to capital in an effort to assist Elanna’s quest to obtain a peace treaty with a land where magic is punishable by death. During his efforts, he is also torn in a battle to save his younger brothers from Madiya, the very woman who raised and tormented them through a series of experiments intended to strengthen their powers. Now, facing his past and a potential war, Jahan must choose to embrace the one thing he has also concealed, his magic.

What I appreciated..

  • Jahan’s story offers the reader a new and engaging take on Elanna’s journey, providing incredible insight into their relationship and the challenges they encounter.
  • There is a new layer of complexity added to the magic system and politics that can only be understood through the revelation of Jahan’s backstory.
  • The thorough exploration of the witch hunters and their methods add another welcomed level of depth to the growing plotline.
  • A strong supportive cast of characters (such as Firmina, the empress) are of significant value to the story and equally interesting.
  • World building is immersive, expanding what was created within The Waking Land and taking the reader on a new journey of political intrigue.
  • Callie Bates seems to have found her voice within The Memory of Fire, and it flows with an incredibly inviting ease that transports the reader effortlessly.

Challenges some may encounter..

  • I really cannot think of many aside from the fact that this is Jahan’s story. So if readers are hoping to explore Elanna more, they will not do so here. For myself, this was an appreciated change of pace.

The Memory of Fire is a beautiful expansion of a promising story that delivers something rich and captivating. The author’s decision to switch perspectives proves to be ultimately rewarding and satisfying. Putting it down is likely to be the biggest challenge readers will encounter.

*I would like to thank Del Rey for this advanced copy. This review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.

tea cup

Pairs beautifully with a nice spiced chai blend.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com  Book Depository

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.

Happy Reading,
Danielle ❤

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