Friday, June 24, 2016

Release Day Blitz: Infallible by Bailey Quinn

Title: Infallible

Author: Bailey Quinn

Genre: Detective/Mystery crime

Release Date: 24th June 2016

Pulbisher: Fire Quill Publishing

ISBN: 9780996974882


From the moment Detective Scarlet Anne Martins steps into that prison, her heart begins to take over her head. Unable to deny her feelings for Alaric any longer, her desperation to save him will ultimately be what will kill them both. For a super cop, her judgement in men has truly failed her. And if matters of the heart weren’t distracting enough, she has to survive the next twenty-four hours without killing someone. Finding herself a fugitive in a foreign country, she has to rely on her charming personality, which she has long since learned to turn on when needed. But with her distinctive South African accent, and stunning good looks, she is at risk of being turned in to the authorities at any moment. With nowhere to run, she has no alternative but to face the peril head on, and ensnare the evil that is chasing her down. But with so few resources, the only way to do that is to give them exactly what they want – herself.


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Bailey Quinn is a pen name Carlyle Labuschagne writes her crime fiction under, she is an South African award wining author, with a flair for mixing genres and adding loads of drama to every story she creates. For now she is happy to take over the world and convert non Sci-fi believers.
Her goal as an author is to touch people's lives, and help others love their differences and one another by delivering strong messages of faith, love and hope within each world she writes about.

"I love to swim, fight for the trees, and am a food lover who is driven by my passion for life. I dream that one day my stories will change the lives of countless teenagers and have them obsess over the world literacy can offer them instead of worrying about fitting in. Never sacrifice who you are, its in the dark times that the light comes to life."

Carlyle used writing as a healing tool and that is why she started her very own writers support event - SAIR - "To be a helping hand for those who strive to become full times writers, editors, bloggers, readers and cover artists - its a crazy world out there you dont have to go it alone!"


About Fire Quill Publishing


Fire Quill Publishing is located in sunny South Africa. We strive to only publish and distribute pre-eminent novels to our audience, and work to offer superb marketing services to our authors. Each division is run by a team of experts in their respective fields in order to make your experience in the publishing industry as fun and exciting as possible, whilst still offering the highest quality and professionalism.

Fire Quill Publishing operates internationally, and supports international authors.
Take a look at our titles and new titles coming soon, and for those that like to read before novels are released, you can grab some of our titles before publication on Netgalley

Our aspiration is to market popular genres such as fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction, in South Africa. However, we are most certainly open to other genres as well. Please visit our Submission Guidelines for detailed instructions on how to submit your manuscript to Fire Quill Publishing.


1 $25 Amazon Gift card
5 Infallible e-copies

Thank you so much for participating in Infallible's release Day Blitz.

Review: The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

Book Description:

Hardcover, 416 pages
Published April 26th 2016 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers

The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.

Reviewer's Copy: Hardcover

Source: Purchased

Note: This is the sequel of the duet. You guys can read my review of the first book here: The Wrath and the Dawn.

My Thoughts:

The long wait was finally over, I thought, as I held the copy of The Rose and the Dagger in my hands. It took me months to finally spot a copy in the wild and purchase it. It took me a few hours, a sleepless dream, and the rest of the morning to finish this bad boy. It was worth the wait.

I got a bird's eye view of Khorasan, getting a glimpse into Rey, the Badawi camps, Fire Temple and Parthia. Ahdieh, as always, delivered searing images of the unforgiving desert, the magical temple and the opulence of palaces. The attention to detail involved in this book was flawless. Every breath, every swallow and bite of food, every movement and every word gave off a Middle Eastern vibe for me. I thoroughly appreciated how the culture was written into the story and was a vital element of the story. The Rose and the Dagger felt alive in my hands.

Shahrzad was stuck in the Badawi camp, under the watchful eye of everyone in camp, including Tariq, Rahim, Irsa, the sheikh and Reza bin-Latief, the father of Shiva, Shazi's best friend. The Calipha of Khorasan was determined to fight against all odds and to be reunited with Khalid Ibn al-Rashid, her king. Shazi has always been resilient and positive, despite the utter hopelessness of the situation. Shahrzad was fiery, with a silver tongue, a temper and knack for trouble. I have always found Shahrzad to be strong and fierce, the reflection of a modern woman fighting for what she believes in.

Khalid was still the boy-king living in shadows, still a bit distanced from the world. However, in the sequel, Khalid stepped out of the shadows and out into the light. In pursuit of ending the curse, Khalid joined Shahrzad in the search for the cure. He was still always a breath away from unleashing rage, but he was able to stay his hand and his shamshir sheathed. This male continued to amaze me with his flawless manners, such good decorum and such wise words. He earned more of my respect with his interaction with Tariq. The face off of the two lovers of Shahrzad was filled with electric energy and antagonism. It was one of the things I looked forward to, since in the first few pages of The Wrath and the Dawn, I was Team Tariq (prior to meeting Khalid fully.)

There were new characters in the sequel, such as Artan Temujin, a young but powerful magus residing in the Fire Temple. The personalities, struggles and relationship of Rahim and Irsa were also tackled in the book. Their story left a bittersweet, nostalgic taste in my mouth. The characters from The Wrath and the Dawn grew and became more complex in The Rose and the Dagger. There were a lot of changes in the characters, a lot of growth as they went through their own struggles with life. This made me more interested and invested in the book.

The plot was twisty, winding in and out of the central loop of the story. There were a lot of twists and turns in the book, jumping from marble to sand and vice versa. I found myself sitting at the edge of my seat, flipping the pages so fast, only to go back and reread exquisite sections of the book. The beautiful writing was still there: cut as sharp and fine as crystals, dripping with emotion and ever so fluid. This sequel cemented Renee Ahdieh's spot as one of my most favorite authors ever.

The Rose and the Dagger was unforgettable, bursting with romance, palpable tension, and the promise of disaster and wonder. The Rose and the Dagger was an exotic elixir, standing out in the field of fantasy romance, with the flavor of surprises. I highly recommend this series to all readers of fantasy and romance, readers who are looking for Middle East-inspired tales and exotic setting.


5 Cupids = Eternal book love.
I will never, ever, ever forget this book. I highly recommend this!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Review: Blue Sun by Tracy Abrey

Book Description:

Paperback, 360 pages
Published December 1st 2013 by CreateSpace

A mysterious, secluded island with secrets. A brilliant teenage girl whose driving curiosity leads her to probe too deeply. A detached father who goes missing. Stalkers at every turn marked with a disturbing tattoo. An unreachable castle that holds all the answers.

Genny Hazard is on a plane to the Isle of Man, a curious island in the Irish Sea. Little does she know that she is not only going to be the new kid in a strange, foreign world, but her new life on the island is going to force her to rethink her beliefs, confront her past, and face her deepest fears.

A mysterious urban fantasy for young adults and adults alike, Tracy Abrey’s debut is a fascinating coming of age tale that explores the importance of family, the influence of our past on our present, and our need above all to find the truth. Incorporating and molding existing Manx folklore to create a new, unique mythology, its layered, intricate use of character and plot gives it the complexity and richness it deserves while never losing its pace or inventiveness. Filled with riveting mystery and almost unbearable suspense, Blue Sun is a first-rate page-turner that will leave you anxiously awaiting the next adventure.

Reviewer's Copy: Paperback

Source: Author (Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

Blue Sun was not what I expected it to be. I had thought that it would be similar, in a way, to The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd. Surprisingly, it was closer to The Accident Season. My first impression was that it was quite atmospheric and had that dark, gloomy vibe reminiscent of Gothic literature. For me, it was a hybrid, born out of the conglomeration of many things that I could not quite pinpoint. But in the length of this review, I will try to tackle each unique characteristic of the book.

The author’s imagery and descriptions were vivid. Each written exploration of the setting pulled me and transported me straight into the story world. The northern island was firmly established in my mind, along with the lapping waves of the sea surrounding it. I am a city girl and have never experienced being that close to see for a long period of time. In loved the atmospheric writing. More than that, the pace of the story was quite fast. It was easy to hop onto and follow throughout the chapters.

Genny as a character was generally likable. She was not overly dramatic and she was true to herself. I did not like how she was impulsive with some of her decisions. She did not take the time to think through some of her decisions. I found that a bit hard to believe, given how much she was exposed to logic with her dad as a scientist. I also found her too accepting of the magical elements in the story, especially when these elements were manifesting themselves in Genny. I would have wanted to see more questioning and perhaps a little bit more worry and panic, which was the logical way of things.

Ken was not your typical YA boy. He was different. Despite being popular on school, being on the swim team and being liked by almost everyone, he decided for himself. He was nice to Genny and actually went out of his way to help her. I liked him enough however, I think he could have done more good, could have explained more to Genny to help ease her growing paranoia. With this aside, he was generally sweet and thoughtful.

The mythology was endemic to the setting. There were glimpses of fairies, legends and prophecies stitched together to make a unique mythology. It dealt with a power that was bound to the island itself. The way the author showed and explained it through the novel left some unanswered questions in my head. I would very much like to find out about the origin of this power in the next installment.

Blue Sun was a breath of fresh air, packed with an exotic flavor of mythology. The book itself had its own magic and I remember breezing through the book in just one sitting. I recommend this to readers of mythology and travel/contemporary.


3.5 Cupids = True book love.
Slightly flawed but I liked it!

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Review: Saving Jazz by Kate McCaffrey

Book Description:

Paperback, 1st
Expected publication: August 2016 by Fremantle Press

Jasmine Lovely has it all – the looks, the grades, the friends. But when a house party spins out of control, Jazz discovers what can happen when your mistakes go viral ...

We know our kids are at risk of becoming victims of cyberbullying. But do we know how at risk they are of becoming perpetrators? This controversial new novel tackles cyberbullying from a whole new perspective.

Reviewer's Copy: ARC

Source: Fremantle Press (Thank you, Claire!) 

My Thoughts:

Upon cracking open Saving Jazz, I did not know, exactly, what to expect. After the first chapter, Saving Jazz instantly cemented its spot on my list of favorite YA contemporary novels. The writing itself was beautiful and fluid. The storytelling was on point, spiraling in and out of the dramatics, the scandals and the tragedies of the lives of the characters. McCaffrey laid out an entertaining cast; each one of the characters was perfectly realistic, a blend of the good and the bad, a study of gray areas. I won't dig too deep into their characters in this review, so as not to spoil you, my dear readers.

Jazzmine was a flawed and lovable character. At the beginning of her blog posts, I was able to see a Jazzmine who was determined to fit in well with her peers, at her school and in her community. She tried to be as pleasing as she could be, with her pretty face, her pleasing personality and her high grades. She ran with the popular crowd. She partied hard like the rest of the Greenheads. However, unlike her meaner friends, Jazz actually had a heart. She was really bothered by the way boys viewed girls, like they were objects. She was also bothered by the slut-shaming going on in her school, as manifested in social media platforms Facebook and Snapchat.

Jazzmine's involvement in the Greenhead party, the night that changed everything, would be an integral albeit painful part of her life. I liked her growth and transformation throughout the book. After the whole thing blew up, Jazzmine's parents kept her isolated in their home. Jazz felt the distance between her and her parents, as if they couldn't quite look at her. She also lost her two closest friends, Annie, the victim, and Jack, her longtime best friend. She felt alone in all of the chaos and the roller coaster of emotions. I liked how Jazz took the long but difficult road after the incident. She tried to fix her life and get back on track, even if the road itself was already crumbling to dust. Through it all, she has matured and could then look at the world from a different perspective.

I liked how friendship was discussed and dissected in Saving Jazz, especially between Jazz and Jack and between Jazz and Annie. Jazz and Jack have been friends for years, since the first day of Jazzmine at her new school. Jack has been with her through the good times and the bad times. He held her hand during her first period. He defended her when someone picked on her. Jack was a constant in her life, always there by her side. As Jack and Jazz grew up, things started to change. I really loved how the author dissected Jazz and Jack's friendship through all the things they have been through.

Frank was one of the reasons why I liked this book so much. He was a cheerful, charming and handsome barista. He was the love interest. Although he was just found in small scenes, I found his presence in the book to be overwhelmingly inspiring. He worked at Chicco, the best coffee shop in the area. As a coffee lover myself, who has spent hours and hours in cafes, I enjoyed the sections with Frank and Jazz in the coffee shop. It was a breather from all the heavy emotional, guilt-stricken plot. The author balanced out the good and the bad with enough charm and humor.

In the end, I gave Saving Jazz 4.5 cupids because I was beginning to forget some of the small details of the book a few days after reading the novel. Saving Jazz is a gritty, suspenseful contemporary that delves into the side of humanity that is linked and almost always submerged in the waters of social media. Although I knew what was supposed to happen, as Jazzmine took us back to the past with her blog posts, the author managed to keep me sitting at the edge of my seat, with goosebumps on my arms and my heart accelerating. It was a quick read that had me immersed and lost into Jazzmine's world. The writing was hypnotic and the plot was fluid. There was never a dull moment. I felt like I was riding an almost never ending roller coaster of emotions, zooming through the feeling of being betrayed, guilt, love, loss and the sense of being broken. I highly recommend it to readers of contemporary (particularly Australian contemporary), readers who are looking for pop culture references and a more modern take on realistic stories, and readers who are looking for books that tackle relationships.


4.5 Cupids Obsessive book love.
Almost made it as one of my favorites! I strongly recommend this!

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Playlist + Giveaway: A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry

Hi guys! I miss you and I miss blogging. But things have been busy in real life. I just had my third anniversary at work (I feel so Adult). I started taking Japanese classes every weekend. I also had a bit of an accident with a street cat. But all things considered, I think I'm doing good. I slid back to my blogger mode last weekend when I met the author of All the Bright Places. I have giveaways coming up soon, watch out for them. But for the meantime, I want to treat you to this special feature for one of the debut authors that I wasn't able to include in Celebrating Debutantes due to the time frame.

A Fierce and Subtle Poison Annotated Playlist by Samantha Mabry

“Separation Anxiety” by Faith No More
The album that this song is on, Sol Invictus, came out last year, which was well after I’d finished the bulk of A Fierce and Subtle Poison. Still, this song has relevance to the story. It sort of starts off and grabs you, and gets more and more intense as it brings you into some spiraling breakdown. My main character, Lucas, gets broken down, broken down, built up, broken down, so, in a way, it reflects his state of mind. Also, Faith No More was my absolute favorite band when I was his age, so there’s that.

“My Mathematical Mind” by Spoon
This is another song that descends into chaos as it nears its end. I do like how the lyrics have to do with a mathematical mind (maybe, sort of, there’s also stuff about the apocalypse in there), which is supposed to be tidy and systematic, but the music eventually gets weird and discordant. There are several things in A Fierce and Subtle Poison that are supposed to be tidy and straightforward that end up being a big messes.

“Disparate Youth” by Santigold
There’s a good portion of the novel that takes place on a scooter on rural Puerto Rican roads. This song is the soundtrack for those scenes. It sounds to me like movement and sun and anticipation.

“Willow” by Israel Nash
This song is also pretty recent and was released on last year’s Silver Season. But it’s been one of my favorite songs ever since I first heard it. Like “Disparate Youth,” it reminds me of being outside. The tempo and steel also give it a bittersweet, yearning tone, so typical of really good alt-country. And that chorus is so soaring and sad and lovely, which I think is what good magical realism does, too: soar while hitting a bittersweet, yearning tone.

“I’m Afraid of Americans” by David Bowie

Right from the start of A Fierce and Subtle Poison there’s an obvious tension I tried to establish between native Puerto Ricans and “invaders.” Some of that tension is underlying, but a lot of it is overt. This song captures that very overt wariness (to put it mildly) that the people of San Juan in my story have toward Lucas, his dad, and Dr. Ford.

“Future Starts Slow” by The Kills
The chunky, delay-heavy guitar in this song just knocks me flat. And there’s just something so dark, gloomy, and groovy about this song that syncs up with the moody, gloomy, mysterious but also very powerful nature of the character of Isabel. And then this line: “If I ever give you up, my heart will surely fail.” Just reading that, it may seem overwrought, but in the context of the song it’s perfect. Like the stagger-stutter chug of the guitar is an irregular heartbeat. I have no idea if that’s what The Kills intended, but it would be cool if the lyrics reflected the music that way.

“Use Once and Destroy” by Hole
This song came out on the album Celebrity Skin, which was released when I was a senior high school. Like “Future Starts Slow,” it’s also very groovy and chuggy and rhythm heavy, which I love, probably because I played the bass when I was in high school and have always kept an ear for that. Lines in the chorus are perfect for A Fierce and Subtle Poison. Like, there’s this rough-as-all-hell journey to rescue someone (in the song, it’s just “you”), and I imagine the “rescuer” kicking through brambles and clawing through mud to get to the person, despite all the pain it might cause. And that’s Lucas.

“Bodysnatchers” by Radiohead
Sort of like the Faith No More song listed above, “Bodysnatchers” has that frenetic pace going on and that sense of things coming undone (so much distortion!). There’s also that line, “I’ve no idea what you are talking about,” which matches up with a lot of what Lucas’ relationship is like with Isabel. Lucas really wants to understand Isabel –what caused her to be the way she is, what makes her tick –but she doesn’t make it easy for him. This song (the melody) also just sounds like someone trying desperately to tear of his or her own skin, which I think parallels Isabel’s frustration with her body.

“Strange Pleasures” by Still Corners
The first time I heard this song was at the movies. I was at the Alamo Drafthouse here in Dallas, and they were using it to promote a month of programming made up of Steven Spielberg films. So, along with this song were clips of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jurassic Park, and E.T. All of movies are so otherworldly, about our world and something out of our world colliding in beautiful and/or frightening ways. This song is so entrancing; has that lovely, otherworldly quality. And I’ve so hoped in my book to capture that collision point between our world as we know it and something out of our world.

“Peace in the Valley” by Dawes
This song is beautiful, but at the same time, to me, it’s another song about frustration, about a frustrated young man. The last line is, “If I don’t find peace in the valley, then I’ve got no place else to look.” Like, he’s hoping that this one place will bring him comfort and solace, but he’s very uncertain if that will be the case. Lucas shares that same sense of uncertainty and restlessness. It’s like, he loves Puerto Rico and feels most at home there, but –even despite that –the island doesn’t love him as much as he loves it. It won’t give up its secrets. Until the end. When maybe it does. A little.

Thank you for sharing, Samantha!

About the Author:

Samantha was born four days before the death of John Lennon. She grew up in dallas, playing bass guitar along to vinyl records in her bedroom after school, writing fan letters to rock stars, doodling song lyrics into notebooks, and reading big, big books.

She spends as much time as possible in the west texas desert.

A FIERCE AND SUBTLE POISON (Algonquin Young Readers, spring 2016) is her first novel.

Follow Emily: Website | Goodreads | Twitter 

Book Description:

Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 12th 2016 by Algonquin Young Readers

Everyone knows the legends about the cursed girl--Isabel, the one the señoras whisper about. They say she has green skin and grass for hair, and she feeds on the poisonous plants that fill her family’s Caribbean island garden. Some say she can grant wishes; some say her touch can kill.

Seventeen-year-old Lucas lives on the mainland most of the year but spends summers with his hotel-developer father in Puerto Rico. He’s grown up hearing stories about the cursed girl, and he wants to believe in Isabel and her magic. When letters from Isabel begin mysteriously appearing in his room the same day his new girlfriend disappears, Lucas turns to Isabel for answers--and finds himself lured into her strange and enchanted world. But time is running out for the girl filled with poison, and the more entangled Lucas becomes with Isabel, the less certain he is of escaping with his own life.


Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers and Jacquelynn for this giveaway!
What's up for grabs: 3 copies of A Fierce and Subtle Poison
Scope: USA

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Book Signing with Jennifer Niven - May 29!

Hi fellow bookworms! I wanted to remind you that we have another author visiting the Philippines this weekend. Jennifer Niven is heading out to Cebu and Manila. :) See you there.

When: May 29, 2016 at 2 p.m. 
Where: Second Level Mega Atrium, SM Megamall
Registration starts at 10 a.m

Book Description via Goodreads:

Hardcover, 400 pages
Published January 6th 2015 by Knopf

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

Hardcover, 400 pages
Expected publication: October 4th 2016 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

From the author of the New York Times bestseller All the Bright Places comes a heart-wrenching story about what it means to see someone—and love someone—for who they truly are.

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything in new and bad-ass ways, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. . . . Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

Jennifer Niven delivers another poignant, exhilarating love story about finding that person who sees you for who you are—and seeing them right back.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Review: Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

Book Description:

Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: May 3rd 2016 by HarperTeen

As Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, Dinah’s days are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the hands of her father, the King of Hearts. The only highlight of her days is visiting Wardley, her childhood best friend, the future Knave of Hearts — and the love of her life.

When an enchanting stranger arrives at the Palace, Dinah watches as everything she’s ever wanted threatens to crumble. As her coronation date approaches, a series of suspicious and bloody events suggests that something sinister stirs in the whimsical halls of Wonderland. It’s up to Dinah to unravel the mysteries that lurk both inside and under the Palace before she loses her own head to a clever and faceless foe.

Part epic fantasy, part twisted fairy tale, this dazzling saga will have readers shivering as Dinahs furious nature sweeps Wonderland up in the maelstrom of her wrath.

Familiar characters such as Cheshire, the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter make their appearance, enchanting readers with this new, dark take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Reviewer's Copy: ARC

Source: Harper Collins(Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

I am a lover of retellings. I delight every copy of retellings that I could get my hands on. Sometimes retellings are awkward affairs but sometimes, they are amazing masterpieces. Queen of Hearts was one of the latter. Colleen Oakes reimagined Alice in Wonderland and capitalized on its vivid color, whimsy and madness. First of all, the story world was the perfect platform for the story, featuring eerie and alarmingly terrifying trees, a sea of flowers that changes color with the breath of wind and pink snow. Second of all, the characters were greatly reimagined, retaining the core of their characteristics but bearing new personalities. The vibe of Alice in Wonderland was present in Queen of Hearts: Alice in Wonderland has always made me feel like I was stuck in a foreign planet and something bad and interesting was about to happen; this was palpable in the novel. Having said all that, I was quite happy with how Oakes envisioned and made this retelling.

Dinah was a stronger and weaker "Alice" at the same time. She was solid, plowing through everything that life threw at her. She was dark like her mother and fierce like her father. Her looks made her seem exotic and I liked that about her. Based on what I read in the book, she didn't have the natural charisma that usually went with the royal bloodline. She went to her lessons, the functions and avoided her almost-always-fuming father who didn't give her the love and attention that she craved. Dinah simply hoped to go with the flow and wait for the moment when she would be queen and to have her longtime friend, Wardley, as her husband. I found myself hurting for her. It was hard to read about her horrible relationship with her father, the King of Hearts. It was not just and it made me think of how blessed I was to have parents who cared. Although the uncaring parent was a typical element in most fantasy stories, the blow was still effective.

Dinah dipped her toes into politics and social posturing. Since she was a child, she has been exposed to the King's temper and distance. Dinah knew where she stood, what she could possibly do and the little strings she could pull to make things happen. I liked scheming girls and that was exactly what Dinah was. The only fault that she had was that although she planned and schemed, she didn't have the sharpness of mind that was needed with plotting. She lacked in foresight and finesse. This led to particularly difficult times for her.

Wardley was the handsome and loyal best friend. He was a protege of some sort, being trained by the Knave of Hearts to be the next Knave aka Commander/General. I adored how genuine he seemed. Around Dinah, he seemed to have his guard down, never hesitating to be familiar with her and to show her his true self: how his stomach was a bottomless pit and how he always seemed to find something to laugh about to make matters light. I saw him as the guy who shed light and wisdom on Dinah's mind. He gave the practical side, the complete truth, to Dinah's opinion and thoughts.

The core characters of Alice in Wonderland manifested themselves in the book, donning new personalities. The Mad Hatter was Dinah's younger brother. He was born mentally impaired and had a passion for fashion. He made exquisite hats that was all the rage. The White Rabbit was Dinah's tutor and father figure, sweet, kind and always mindful of the time. Cheshire took a turn for the worse, transforming into a cunning and dangerous man. He was the adviser to the King of Hearts. I found him to be the hardest to dissect and understand. Just like all Cheshire-type characters, he was potentially good and bad, depending on his motive and the situation. I am looking forward to his appearance in the sequel. There were also new characters such as the King of Hearts and Vittoire, the illegitimate stepsister. Both were of note and fascinating. Though I would have liked more time with them and more exposure and interaction between the members of the royal family, in order to further observe and understand the family dynamics and personalities.

Queen of Hearts was a promising retelling that delivers Alice in Wonderland coated in a unique flavor. The downsides of the book for me were the following: (1) The book was too short. I think the explanation and detail that I was waiting for would have been given if the book was extended more; (2) Plot and connection. I was looking for more action/events towards the end. I felt like the strings, that would eventually be tied together in the form of an open revelation/direct confrontation, were left dangling. Though do not let these stop you from trying the book itself. It might just be me. There is still a sequel, so I am hoping to see these things revealed there. The ups were interesting characters, beautifully built story world, the fluid storytelling and the exotic vibe of the book itself. I recommend this to fantasy readers and readers who like retellings.


3.5 Cupids = True book love.
Slightly flawed but I liked it!