The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst

Set in the magical world of Renthia, The Queen of Blood is Sarah Beth Durst’s ambitious entry into adult epic fantasy. With the danger of Peter Brett’s The Warded Man, heart of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, and lyricism of Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind, this is the first chapter in a series destined to be a classic.

Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . .

But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms.

With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land . . . before it’s bathed in blood.

I first received The Queen of Blood (Book One of The Queens of Renthia) as a panel giveaway at Book Con in 2017.

Then at NYCC 2019 I bought a mystery box from Harper Collins. The theme was Fantasy Quest and one of the four books inside was The Queen of Blood.

I took that as a sign that it was time to finally read it and I’m glad that I did.

The world building is well done. So is the character development. What I really liked was the positive female friendships.

There’s action, humor, mystery, and some romance. It was such a relief to read about a romance that is not a triangle and not childish. It also doesn’t focus much on the romance, but just enough so you understand the characters feelings.

This was my favorite quote because it made me laugh:
Page 211: “Even a handfull of gravel is a useful weapon when thrown at the right time. My mother embroidered that on a pillow.”

I liked the message that while Daleina is not a natural talent she works hard, studies hard and pushes through difficulties. She discovered what she was good at and developed that skill.

When I first saw the thickness of the paperback I was a little apprehensive, but the pacing is just right. Durst knows how to balance the action with the quieter moments, and knew when to have the story jump forward in time.

I will finish the trilogy eventually. I’ll either borrow the books from the library (when they open again after this Covid-19 pandemic is gone) or with a B&N coupon.

4 out of 5 Spirits.

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

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Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming guise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of a Texas oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother’s birth through the lens of his camera. Photography–and fate–introduce him to Ana, whose family’s interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War–as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel’s photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.

Master storyteller Ruta Sepetys once again shines light into one of history’s darkest corners in this epic, heart-wrenching novel about identity, unforgettable love, repercussions of war, and the hidden violence of silence–inspired by the true post-war struggles of Spain.

 

I got this ARC at Book Con this year and have really been anticipating it. Ruta is one of my favorite authors.

I really love that she writes historical fiction based on events that are not widely known.
In school I learned about the horrible dictatorships of Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini. But they did not cover anything about Franco. They should.

“Between 1939 and the late 1980s, it is alleged that over 300,000 babies were stolen from their birth mothers and sold into adoption.” -Lucia Benavides.

CAN YOU EVEN FATHOM THAT!? It breaks my heart.

Then at the end they talk about amnesty. For stealing 300,000 babies? NO WAY! I wouldn’t grant it. There should be trials like they had for the Nazis. (I should look up if amnesty was granted or not.)

There is a quote at the beginning of the book, an anonymous epitaph from the Spanish Civil War mass grave that says, “We have only died if you forget us.”

You are not forgotten, and I think more authors should tell their stories.

I loved Daniel and Ana so much. Their stories and their families’ stories were so full of life. I really felt their feelings and became so invested in their fates. I was a mess of tears by the end. I didn’t care that I was on public transit.

I also loved how the novel told different POVs of living under Franco’s oppression. The fear, the rebellious streak, and even the indoctrination.

The inclusion of articles from presidents, ambassadors, and news clippings were insightful. As were the photographs at the end. Very fitting for a story that showed the importance and strength of photography.

As someone who was brought up Catholic, one part that really stood out to me was when all the characters were going to Confession and how differently they all felt about the Sacrament.

I feel like this may be my favorite of Ruta’s books. I haven’t figure out why that is yet. But I love all of her books that I read.

Some of my favorite quotes: (Yes, I know it’s an ARC but these quotes speak so strongly and I hope they are in the final version.)

Page 12: Photographs are spontaneous and exciting, something that he creates, not inherits.

Page 36: Julia’s fingers are silent narrators, embroidered with scars.

Page 214: God forgive me if I am wrong. If I am right, there is no forgiveness for you.

Page 278: But one day, far into the future when the pain is less sharp, the voices of the dead will find harmony with the living.

5 out of 5 Rolls of Film.

I did have one question and one wish but they are spoilers:

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House of Salt And Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

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In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

This is an ARC my sister won at Book Con 2019. I borrowed it from her.

I didn’t know it was a re-telling of the Brother Grimm’s “The Twelves Dancing Princesses” (a.k.a. “The Worn-out Dancing Shoes and “The Shoes That Were Danced to Pieces.”) I never heard of that story. So I can’t compare the two.

I do know I liked this version very much. It had a great atmosphere. I love the sea theme. The cover artwork is just beautiful. I really liked the world building and they way their different devotions to different gods and goddesses were explained.

The supernatural murder mystery was intriguing and kept me wanting to turn the page. The pacing does slow down a bit in the middle, but I still wanted to know the outcome. I had several suspects on my list because a few people come across as untrustworthy and I would change my mind as to who really was the villain.

I enjoyed how the book built up to the ending. I was questioning what was real and what wasn’t as Annaleigh searches for the truth.

I am happy to say that the love triangle was very minimal. It focused more on the sisters, the mystery, and the enchantments.

Also, I am glad that this is a standalone, but if it were to become a series I would like to see a story from one of the other cities that follow a different god or goddess.

Besides the slow pace in the middle I do have one other reason for not giving it a perfect score, but it’s a spoiler. Basically I am a little confused.

SPOILER WARNING

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More News Tomorrow by Susan Richards Shreve

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On the morning of her seventieth birthday, Georgianna Grove receives an unexpected letter that calls her back to Missing Lake, Wisconsin, where her mother was murdered sixty-six years earlier. Georgie’s father had confessed to the murder the next morning and was carted off to a state penitentiary. Haunted by the night that took both her parents away and determined to unearth the truth, Georgie takes her reluctant family on what will become a dangerous canoe trip up the swollen Bone River to return to Missing Lake.

Acclaimed novelist Susan Richards Shreve, celebrated for her “refined explorations of parent-child relationships” (Washington Post), captures the tenor of the times with clarity and elegance as she follows both Georgie and her parents on parallel trips up the Bone River, weaving together the hope of June 2008 with the injustices of June 1941. Georgie must untangle a web of bigotry, loss, and half-forgotten memories to finally understand her parents’ fate.

More News Tomorrow is a stirring and irresistible portrait of a family drawn together in search of truth.

I picked this ARC up at Book Con 2019.

More News Tomorrow is a fast, entertaining read. I enjoyed reading the multiple point of views from the present and the past. Most were written in the third person and one was in the first person.

It is a page turner because I just had to know if Georgie’s father really killed her mother. Some twists and doubts are presented.

 

Warning! Major Spoilers Below:

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Book Con 2019: Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2

Saturday, June 1

My sister and I got to the Javits shortly before the Exhibit Hall opened at 10 am. The first thing we went to, because we saw it right there, was Christmas Land – which was this whole display for the promotion of NOS4A2 on AMC.

They had this promotion where if you go to the Facebook app and take a picture of your face it will turn it into one of the creepy kids. Speaking of which, the actors there dressed up as Charlie Manx and the kids were so good. Like, I couldn’t look at them. Too creepy.

Anyway, I didn’t want to get the Facebook app and do it so we just took a photo with Charlie and we got a gift from The Wraith. It was a gingerbread cookie! It was so good too.

I thought it would be a Christmas ornament. Some people did get that. I am glad we got the cookie.

 

 

 

 

So, then we went to the Penguin Random House booth to get a pin my sister saw being promoted on Tumblr for The Starless Sea. We got the pin but we also found out that there was a signing with Erin Morgenstern. She was signing ARCs of The Starless Sea. The tickets were already gone and we were just really annoyed that that signing wasn’t promoted better. We would have gone there first had we known.

I think next time we are making a bee line for that booth first.

On a happier note, my sister’s memory made it onto this board for the promotion of Recursion by Blake Crouch. Hers is the gondola ride in Venice.

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Top Ten Tuesday March 19: Books On My Spring 2019 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
Updates are now at That Artsy Reader Girl.

March 19: Books On My Spring 2019 TBR

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I feel like I am just repeating myself because these same books have been on other TTT seasonal TBR lists. But I need to be serious this time. I am going to Book Con in June and simply MUST read these books I picked up from the previous Book Cons. I have more than ten, but I am only listing the ones I want to read first.

1) Book Con 2014: Interview With the Vampire, by Anne Rice (20th Anniversary Edition).
2) Book Con 2015: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld.
3) Book Con 2015: Illuminae: The Illuminae Files – 01, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (which is an ARC by the way. The whole trilogy is out now. So I am WAY behind.)
4) Book Con 2015: H2O, by Virgina Bergin.
5) Book Con 2017: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova.
6) Book Con 2017: The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky.
7) Book Con 2017: The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst.
8) Book Con 2017: Nyxia by Scott Reintgen. Also an ARC.

I also want to squeeze in two audiobooks:
9) Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston
10) Star Wars: Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray

 

Top Ten Tuesday – November 28: Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

1) Iron Gold by Pierce Brown, expected publication: January 16th 2018. This is my most anticipated book. I am going to reread the trilogy beforehand and go to the book signing in NYC!

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2) Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View. I think I will read the hardcover and listen to the audiobook.

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3) The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst. Picked this one up at Book Con 2017. It’s one of many on that Book Con pile.

4) The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. I plan to listen to the audiobook. I already have it downloaded. 52 hours though…

I have been on a roll with the books I got from NYCC 2016. Almost done with that pile. I want to keep the momentum going with these 2017’s NYCC books:
5) Age of Myth The Legends of the First Empire No.1 by Michael J. Sullivan
6) Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
7) Within These Walls by Ania Ahlborn
8) Daughters of the Storm by Kim Wilkins
9) Year Zero by Rob Reid
10) After On by Rob Reid

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Good luck to me!