Because You Love to Hate Me Blog Tour: Marissa Meyer and Zoë Herdt (Excerpt+Mini Review+Giveaway)

by Marissa Meyer
Published by Bloomsbury Genres: Adventure, Fairy Tale Retelling, Fantasy, Magic, Retelling, Young Adult

Welcome to the Because You Love to Hate Me blog tour! Today is my stop on the tour and I am super excited to share with you an excerpt of Marissa Meyer’s story The Sea Witch (story promoting by booktuber Zoë Herdt). Make sure to check out the giveaway at the end of this post for your chance to win your  very own copy of Because You Love to Hate Me and also to view the other stops on the tour (each featuring a different story/author).

Title: Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy
Edited by: Ameriie
Authors: Renee AhdiehSoman ChainaniSusan DennardSarah EnniMarissa MeyerCindy PonVictoria SchwabSamantha ShannonAdam SilveraAndrew SmithApril Genevieve TucholkeNicola YoonSasha AlsbergBenjamin AldersonWhitney AtkinsonTina BurkeCatriona FeeneyZoë HerdtSamantha LaneSophia LeeRaeleen LemayRegan PerusseChristine RiccioSteph SinclairJesse GeorgeKat O’Keeffe
Pub. Date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Pages: 320
Find it: AmazonBarnes & NobleBook DepositoryIndieBound
 

SYNOPSIS:

Leave it to the heroes to save the world–villains just want to rule the world.

In this unique YA anthology, thirteen acclaimed, bestselling authors team up with thirteen influential BookTubers to reimagine fairy tales from the oft-misunderstood villains’ points of view.

These fractured, unconventional spins on classics like “Medusa,” Sherlock Holmes, and “Jack and the Beanstalk” provide a behind-the-curtain look at villains’ acts of vengeance, defiance, and rage–and the pain, heartbreak, and sorrow that spurned them on. No fairy tale will ever seem quite the same again!

 

EXCERPT : The Sea Witch by Marissa Meyer / Zoë Herdt:

The razor-sharp barnacles clawed at my fingertips as I strained to wrench them free of the rotting wood. I cursed them repeatedly as I worked, not having known the depths of my hatred for barnacles until this moment. Vicious, stubborn little parasites. Vile, thankless cadgers.

It wasn’t long before I was also cursing my own feeble muscles and long, ink-black hair that wouldn’t stop swimming in front of my face and obscuring my vision. Another barnacle sliced into my palm and I let out a scream of frustration. Grabbing the whale-bone knife from my sack, I lifted the blade over my shoulder with every intention of hacking the nasty creatures to pieces, but I resisted the temptation long enough for the fury to pass. My heart was still thumping, but reason began to return. I needed the barnacles intact or this wouldn’t work. I needed them whole.

I drew in a mouthful of salt water, swished it angrily around my cheeks, then forced it out through my teeth. My tail flicked against the side of the long-drowned ship, making a hollow drumming sound that matched my pulse. Eyeing the barnacles, I resolved that I would not be deterred. They were the last ingredient I needed, and I would have them, no matter if they left my fingertips shredded and scarred. After all, what was this temporary pain to a lifetime of bliss?

Shoving my drifting hair out of my face, I returned to my work, digging the point of the dagger around the barnacles’ edges. I leveraged it against the wood, prying and grunting. The wood began to crumble and I grasped the edge of a waterlogged plank and pulled hard, bracing my tail against the ship’s side. It creaked and groaned and finally released, just as a particularly cruel barnacle sliced through the pad of my thumb. I yanked my hand away with a snarl. Blood blossomed like pearls on my skin before dispersing in the dark water.

“That’s it,” I growled, stabbing at the traitorous barnacle. With a pop, it dislodged and sank down toward the ocean floor. It wasn’t as satisfying a death as I would have hoped, but no matter. I had what I’d come for.

Opening the sack that bobbed on my shoulder, I stashed the splintered plank of barnacle-infested wood inside. Twenty live barnacles, the spell demanded. I had twice that, but I wanted to be sure I had plenty, in case something went wrong and I had to start over. I’d never tried such a complicated spell before, nor had I ever so badly wanted one to work. Needed one to work.

That left only one more ingredient to gather: three silver scales taken from the tail of the merman I wished to fall in love with me.

I still wasn’t sure how I would get close enough to Prince Lorindel to cut three scales from his tail, but the royal concert was tonight and he was sure to be there. Surrounded by his horrid entourage, no doubt, but they couldn’t spend the entire evening at his side. And I only had to get close enough for a moment.

Three scales. Three insignificant little scales, and by this time tomorrow, Lorindel would be mine.

 

MINI-REVIEW for The Sea Witch:

The Sea Witch written by Marissa Meyer (prompted by booktuber Zoë Herdt) is perfection. I wanted it to be a whole book and not just a few short pages. From the first sentence you are completely drawn in by Marissa Meyer’s descriptive and lively writing. I love the Little Mermaid story, and it was fascinating to read the story through the “sea witch’s” eyes.

Re-imagining such a famous and popular fairy tale while making it completely new must have been quite a challenge, but Marissa Meyer does this beautifully. While reading it, I could see/imagine where some of her inspiration came from be it folklore, myth, or even Disney. Yet, the tale remained entirely her own. As did the very distinctive voice of the “Sea Witch” herself.  

I highly recommend picking up this wonderful anthology of  re-imagined fairy tales through  the eyes of the “villains”. Expect the unexpected, and beware of potentially “falling” for the villains/changing your loyalties. 

 

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY:

Enter to win a copy of Because You Love to Hate Me! The novel will be sent by the publisher. Best of Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

FOLLOW THE TOUR:

Thank you to Bloomsbury Books for providing me with an advance peek at this fantastic anthology.  As well as for sending me a gorgeous finished copy in return for my participation in the tour/review.

#VILLAINISBAE

YA Book Review: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

YA Book Review: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund HodgeBright Smoke, Cold Fire (Untitled, #1) by Rosamund Hodge
Published by Balzer + Bray on September 27th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Magic, Retelling, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Goodreads
five-stars

When the mysterious fog of the Ruining crept over the world, the living died and the dead rose. Only the walled city of Viyara was left untouched.
The heirs of the city’s most powerful—and warring—families, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou share a love deeper than duty, honor, even life itself. But the magic laid on Juliet at birth compels her to punish the enemies of her clan—and Romeo has just killed her cousin Tybalt. Which means he must die.
Paris Catresou has always wanted to serve his family by guarding Juliet. But when his ward tries to escape her fate, magic goes terribly wrong—killing her and leaving Paris bound to Romeo. If he wants to discover the truth of what happened, Paris must delve deep into the city, ally with his worst enemy . . . and perhaps turn against his own clan.
Mahyanai Runajo just wants to protect her city—but she’s the only one who believes it’s in peril. In her desperate hunt for information, she accidentally pulls Juliet from the mouth of death—and finds herself bound to the bitter, angry girl. Runajo quickly discovers Juliet might be the one person who can help her recover the secret to saving Viyara.
Both pairs will find friendship where they least expect it. Both will find that Viyara holds more secrets and dangers than anyone ever expected. And outside the walls, death is waiting. . . .

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire completely blew me away, especially since I was feeling a bit iffy regarding the whole idea of a Romeo and Juliet retelling. I was not expecting to love it as much as I did, but this novel really surprised me and exceeded my expectations. I have not read any of the author’s previous books (I know…SHAME!) but this deliciously bloody story has me even more convinced now that I need to amend this error asap.

Let me start by discussing the phenomenal world building in this novel. Hodge really does an amazing job setting up an intricate world. Bright Smoke, Cold Fire takes place in Viyara the last surviving city that sits behind an enchanted magical wall ( yes…kind of like The Wall in the North in Game of Thrones…only no Jon Snow).

the wall

The city is divided into two parts The Upper city (where the more “upstanding” citizens live) and the Lower city (some shady stuff happens here) . The citizens  of this city are the last remaining humans since the arrival of the mysterious fog called “the Ruining” that over took the world causing all humans to die. Once a person dies they become “revenants” if their body is not burned within a certain amount of time a.k.a the walking dead/white walkers.

white walkers

The city is protected from these threats by a wall that has been enchanted by The Sisters of the Thorn but this protection has a price, a blood magic. By blood magic, I don’t just mean the day to day penance of blood letting but actual human sacrifice. The “Great Offering” day is celebrated like any regular festival  day (it used to only need to happen every 7 years, but now it occurs every 6 months and soon less). During the Great Offering (while the entire city watches) a human sacrifice is presented to the High Priestess for the ritualistic blood letting at the grand court in the center of Viyara. The Great Offering sacrificial human is supplied in turns by one of the three main clans, the old Viyaran royal family “the Exalted”, the fair skinned and black haired “Mahyanai”, and mask wearing “Catresou”.

sot

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire is told through the point of views of Runajo, Juliet, Paris and Romeo.  I was expecting this to be a bit too “ooey-gooey” with the romance, but I was pleasantly surprised when it didn’t turn out to be oozing with amorous notions. There are a few flashbacks between Romeo and Juliet, but it was not the priority point in the novel.  One of my favorite characters is Runajo (of the Mahyanai clan). She is a novice in the order of the Sisters of the Thorn and helps weave the enchantments that keep the wall holding strong. She is loyal, devoted and completely obsessed with regaining the knowledge hidden in the scrolls of the Sunken library (which is crawling with revenants and even reapers…evil/killer creatures created by Death). Runajo wants to keep her city safe and she fears that soon they will all be dead if the wall keeps requiring more and more blood, more and more often.

My other favorite was Lady Juliet. She was not the typical lady, but has been chosen since birth to be the arms of justice(the Juliet) for her clan the Catresou. Basically she is their vicious assassin and will kill anyone who has spilled her clan’s blood (like a more sane River from Firefly). I love how devoted she is to her destiny, and that she doesn’t fall in love with Romeo because he sweet talks her. She chooses to love him, because he can see past her being the Juliet . Some of the scenes when Lady Juliet is in action as The Juliet were pretty cool. I also really enjoyed watching her friendship grow with Runajo (but I won’t say more, because SPOILERS).

juliet

Romeo and Paris were okay (even comedic at times), but it seemed like they got into more trouble than anything else. However, it was still nice to see their own friendship bloom from what started out as distrust and hate. I know I mentioned revenants (zombies) but just to clarify this isn’t a zombie book…for now at least. The revenants are being brought back by a mysterious Master Necromancer (Yes…I know…queue the voodoo music) who is someone within the walls of the city that wishes to cause the destruction of everything and everyone. It is this evil that Runajo, Juliet, Romeo and Paris are trying to discover and expose before it is too late.

There is A LOT of things happening in Bright Smoke, Cold Fire and some might find it a bit much, but if you take your time and let the story develop you won’t be disappointed. The start is a tiny bit slow, but once it gets going you are in for one hell of a twisted ride.  I love Hodge’s detailed descriptions that made the story come to life for me. I appreciate Hodge’s imaginative and unique take on this already tragic tale of woe, making it actually bloodier than the original. The ending of Bright Smoke, Cold Fire did seem a bit rushed (maybe it was just my ARC version that still needed to be edited and finessed) because when I finished  I was like…WHAT? I need more! Thankfully, there is a sequel in the works and I really can’t wait to see how it all turns out (hopefully, it will be a bloody spectacle of awesomeness).

i want more

I would highly recommend this to anyone who is a fan of dark fantasy with hints of mystical creatures and twisted story lines. To any fan of Romeo and Juliet and of Hodge. To anyone who isn’t a typical fantasy lover, but who does enjoy tales that start to merge more towards horror or paranormal. Basically to anyone who loves a novel with fantastic world building, well developed characters and strong female leads.

Thank you to Balzer + Bray/HaperCollins and Edelweiss for providing me with an advanced reading copy in return for an honest review.

five-stars

YA Book Review: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

YA Book Review: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi MeadowsMy Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Published by HarperTeen on June 7th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Retelling, Young Adult
Pages: 512
Goodreads
five-stars

Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…
Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…
Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.
The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?


“For everyone who knows there was enough room for Leonardo DiCaprio on that door. And for England. We’re really sorry for what we’re about to do to your history.”

Yes…this is how My Lady Jane starts off, right from the dedication page you already know you are in for a treat. During every single moment of reading this book, I was completely and utterly in love with it. It made me snicker, giggle, laugh uncontrollably, shout, hiss, and huzzah…sometimes in public. Writing this review has been excruciatingly hard because I can’t simply just GUSH all my feelings about this witty and funny book all over the screen without giving away far more than I should. Also, mere words truly can not express how lovely and refreshing it was to read a book that I absolutely 110% loved everything about from start to finish. Thank you, Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows for crafting such a perfect book.

love it

This is the story of Lady Jane Grey, but with a few tweaks, and some magic…because of course magic makes everything better, and potentially can alter a hum-ho tale that ends in beheadings into an epic adventure filled with hilarity, love, and absurdities (fans of the Princess Bride will most definitely approve of this book). In other words, perfection. The humor in this book is absolutely spot on as are the many puns, the quotes in this book are brilliant works of art. Yes, three authors wrote this deliciously cheeky book, but their voices are so well integrated and on point that it is a completely smooth transition from one chapter to the next which are written in the point of view of the three main characters Jane, Edward, and Gifford.

I loved how little side comments were added between the storyline to give you a little glimpse of what he authors were thinking, or intending….

You may think you know the story. It goes like this: once upon a time, there was a sixteen-year-old girl named Jane Grey, who was forced to marry a complete stranger (Lord Guildford or Gilford or Gifford-something-or-other), and shortly thereafter found herself ruler of a country. She was queen for nine days. Then she quite literally lost her head.
Yes, it’s a tragedy, if you consider the disengagement of one’s head from one’s body tragic. (We are merely narrators, and would hate to make assumptions as to what the reader would find tragic.)
We have a different tale to tell.”

(Okay, so we told you that anybody could die at any time, and you seem like you’re getting worried, but Pet’s fine. <…> Trust us: we’re not the type of narrators who would kill a dog.)”

I loved Lady Jane. She was intelligent, sassy and a bookworm. She reminded me a bit of Hermione Granger because she comes off as a “know-it-all” and is always has her nose stuck in a book with titles like “An Analysis of Edians’ Paintings and Their Impact on Society: Volume Three.”

hogwarts

She is strong and determined and independent. She’s also quite good with horse jokes, and knows how to handle a pan (this will make sense if you read the book…which you should). Gifford was just as lovable as Jane. I love that he has a secret other life and how sweet he is on Jane. I also love that it wasn’t all INSTA LOVE and that this relationship took time to build and was based on more than just looks. It was such a pleasure to watch these two characters fall in love against all the odds, especially since their story started as an arranged marriage.

In their bedchamber, Jane set a pillow and blanket on the floor next to the bed.
“Jane, I cannot allow you to sleep on the floor,” G said gallantly.
She smiled. “The pillow and blanket are for you, my lord.”

This brings me to another point that I think deserves being said, though this book is empowering for women (Jane and many of the other female characters) it never talks ill or marriage or implies a negative connotation to marriage. My Lady Jane is a book for female empowerment and the empowerment of falling in love and finding someone to spend your life with. I sometimes find that many books, the media, and people can’t seem to find a good balance with empowering a female, but also being okay when she decides to fall in love with someone or have a family. I am glad that the authors of My Lady Jane not only empower the women in their book, but they also empower marriage and love too (Sorry…I don’t mean to sound preachy on this topic, but this is something that really bothers me. Just because I as a female I have chosen to get married and to one day have a family does not mean that I have given up my independence, my intelligence, or my feisty-ness….I can “have my cake and eat it too” and My Lady Jane resonates that belief to me).

cake

For the third POV was Edward, who starts off as a sickly teenage king, but is actually about to embark on quite the adventure of his own. I liked that he had this sort of morbid humor, making fun of his own probable impending death due to having “The affliction”. I think he showed the largest growth of character and I really enjoyed seeing him out of his element. It was awesome to see him become his own person and to see his eyes open to the fact that women weren’t there just to mend his clothes and make his supper. His respect for women grew, and as it grew, so did he. Even the minor characters like Pet, Elizabeth (yes…that Elizabeth) and Gracie were all superbly done, and they all kicked butt. You wanted to see and hear more about them, and you cared if they were in danger.

Now, I know I mentioned magic before, and yes there is plenty of magic. In this tweaked and alternative retelling of history, there are humans that can turn into animals. These people are called Edians, and they are found all over this story, even those you least suspect. I would keep an eye out for a horse, a ferret, a kestrel, a skunk, a fox and a dog to name a few (but I won’t tell you who is who) though I guess I can disclose to you that Gifford or G is one of these Edians, and he is a magnificent stallion and you will find out more about him right from the start in chapter 1. The nonmagical people are called Verities and they aren’t very fond of Edians this alternate history’s version of Catholics vs. Protestants which is one of the subplots in the book. There is also betrayal, poisonings, incarcerations, romance, war, and consummation.

rapunhors

Overall, My Lady Jane a fantastical book that I loved and enjoyed from cover to cover, in all its formats (the audible version is done with a really great reader). It is on my top 5 favorite books of 2016. It is charming, hilarious and will make you laugh at the most inappropriate times (usually around 6:30am while on the treadmill in a gym full of people, or in a coffee shop filled with people…oh the strange looks I received). It was so entertaining and not to be taken seriously. It was fun and such an easy read to get through even over 500 pages. There are nods to Monty Python, The Princess Bride, Shakespeare and even Disney. There is politics but it’s kept to a minimal, and there is definitely a lot of horsing around.

Go READ it! You won’t be disappointed. 🙂

Signature

P.S. Clearly my Edian animal form would be a bunny.

five-stars

Book Review: Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Jane Steele by Lyndsay FayeJane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
Published by Headline Review on March 22nd 2016
Genres: Gothic, Historical, Mystery, Retelling, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Goodreads
four-stars


Reader, I murdered him.

A Gothic retelling of Jane Eyre.
Like the heroine of the novel she adores, Jane Steele suffers cruelly at the hands of her aunt and schoolmaster. And like Jane Eyre, they call her wicked - but in her case, she fears the accusation is true. When she flees, she leaves behind the corpses of her tormentors.
A fugitive navigating London's underbelly, Jane rights wrongs on behalf of the have-nots whilst avoiding the noose. Until an advertisement catches her eye. Her aunt has died and the new master at Highgate House, Mr Thornfield, seeks a governess. Anxious to know if she is Highgate's true heir, Jane takes the position and is soon caught up in the household's strange spell. When she falls in love with the mysterious Charles Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him - body, soul and secrets - and what if he discovers her murderous past?

Usually, I am not a fan of retellings of classic literature but something about Jane Steele captured my attention. Maybe it might have something to do with the fact that there are no zombies or sea-creatures mixed in with the classic tale instead, it is the dark yet entertaining memoir of a young lady named Jane Steele who suffers and experiences similar events as to that of the “fictional” Jane Eyre with a slight twist.

Jane Steele is an orphan and is left in the care of her cruel and disapproving aunt. She is eventually sent off to a wretched boarding school that is even worse than the one Ms. Eyre had to endure. The boarding school is truly an awful place, empty of joy and full of despair. This place made me angry and I was on Team Jane the entire time, even as her time there ended up bloody and messy. I loved that the author took enough time here to develop the relationship between the orphans and how they became like sisters to one another, even if not all were completely loyal.

I like that Jane Steele is not afraid to get her hands dirty, and that she is fighting the good fight. She kills with reason or at least, that is how the author makes Jane come off to me. I know she is a serial killer, but she is not devoid of emotion and she is capable of love. She kills in order to protect the ones she loves, and herself. Jane Steele is written as a strong-willed, cheeky and clever character. She is a protector to the weak, resourceful, and a very brave girl. She has all the makings of a great role model minus the serial killer part.

Once Jane moves on to become a governess for Mr. Thornfield (so very much in line with Jane Eyre) the story does lose a little of the momentum for me. I feel like the blood thirst is quenched a bit and taken over by the romance that is introduced. Thankfully it’s not instalove, and the relationship between Jane and Mr. Thornfield does develop gradually. I am glad to see that Jane does find a life with him, even if the ending was a bit expected.

Jane Steele was an unexpected delight and sassy read. It also had a good dash of humor in it, even with all the murder, sexual and child abuse. The author wrote a story that captivates the reader and takes them into the world of old Victorian England filled with the fog and grit of London. Instead of giving us a boring traditional Victorian prim and proper heroine, you get a feisty, vengeful yet still likable Jane Steele. And reader…it was awesome.

four-stars