3 Stars, Book review, Connie Glynn, Fantasy, Young Adult

Bee Reviews: Undercover Princess by Connie Glynn (Rosewood Chronicles #1)

-undercoverprincessFormat: Kindle edition, 288 pages

Published: 2nd November 2017 by Penguin

Genres: Fantasy, young adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon | Wordery


Synopsis

When fairy tale obsessed Lottie Pumpkin starts at the infamous Rosewood Hall, she is not expecting to share a room with the Crown Princess of Maradova, Ellie Wolf. Due to a series of lies and coincidences, 14-year-old Lottie finds herself pretending to be the princess so that Ellie can live a more normal teenage life.

Lottie is thrust into the real world of royalty – a world filled with secrets, intrigue and betrayal. She must do everything she can to help Ellie keep her secret, but with school, the looming Maradovian ball and the mysterious new boy Jamie, she’ll soon discover that reality doesn’t always have the happily ever after you’d expect…

A thrilling world of parties, politics and bad ass princesses, this is the first book in the brand new series THE ROSEWOOD CHRONICLES.


Review

A copy of this novel was given in exchange for an honest review.

This book has been such a delight to read for several reasons, all of which will be explored in this review that will hopefully leave you, the reader, convinced that you have to read Undercover Princess.

Eating animals just didn’t seem very princessy. How could she expect little woodland critters to assist her in her daily tasks if she was going to turn around and eat them?

Let’s start with Lottie Pumpkin – yes, her name is ridiculous, yes, she does know it, and yes, she’s very sensitive about it. Well, Lottie is just about sensitive when it comes to everything and anything, which, in an era of “strong female protagonists” telling other girls they have to “man up”, is quite refreshing. Lottie’s greatest strength, aside from being brave, being kind, and being unstoppable, is that she is perceptive and so in touch with her emotions – very unusual for a teenager. Having a likeable protagonist who is a breath of fresh air is so important, and Connie Glynn nails this one.

It was no secret that her love of English stemmed from her childhood obsession with fairy tales. She was so fascinated by words and how they could be used as signifiers to express abstract thoughts and feelings; it all seemed to beautiful and romantic to her.

Then we’ve got Ellie, who so perfectly complements Lottie, and, if we’re being frank, is everything Lottie isn’t. Ellie is wild, she is daring, and she turns Lottie’s whole world upside down. I loved reading about a rebel with a cause, which is exactly what Ellie is. So for readers who like their fair share of badass female characters, I present to you the Crown Princess of Maradover, Ellie Wolfson.

Ellie didn’t fit into the cookie-cutter image of a girl, let alone a princess. She was unapologetic and ferocious and this aristocratic world resented her for it.

Rosewood is also fascinating. It gave me Hogwarts vibes – a boarding school with three houses that each student must take an aptitude test in order to find out which house they belong to. There is, of course, inter-house competition, and for this book at least, you have your Draco Malfoy and his cronies. Then there’s the mystery of William Tufty, the founder of Rosewood – like the brilliant author she is, Glynn manages to sow enough seeds for a sequel, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it when it comes out!

Sometimes the world can get very loud and people can get caught up trying to get their own voice heard and they end up silencing those that really need the space to speak.

The only reason this highly re-readable book is a three star instead of a five is partly because of the mild queer-baiting, which I’m hoping will still be picked up in later book(s). You’ll know what I mean when you read the book. There’s also a problem with mischaracterisation, particularly with the introduction of Ellie – it just seems that characters are frequently OOC to suit whatever drama Glynn chooses for the sake of having drama, but this book really doesn’t need it.

Somewhere in the back of her mind, she could hear her mother’s voice reciting a verse from her distant past.

They found each other in the woods,
Together they did build a house.

A story her mother used to tell her, before she knew how brutal the world could be.

The final thing that put me off this wonderful book that was otherwise a delight to read is, even now, I struggle to tell if the book is satirical or genuine. For example, the Princess of Maradova, Ellie Wolfson, disguised herself as… Ellie Wolf. This is addressed in the book, but as I said before, it’s difficult to tell if it’s in satire or if the other characters are genuinely dense. I’ve been left with the same feeling a few times throughout reading the novel, which makes the writing seem somewhat clumsy.

“I bet you ten pounds someone falls in the pool.” “Twenty pounds says I push one of them.”

Otherwise, this book was intriguing and difficult to put down! I would definitely recommend it to people who are into princesses, fairy tales, and are looking for a very light read. Have you read this book? Do you have any thoughts you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments!

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Contemporary, Dhonielle Clayton, Katherine Arden, Laura Steven, Melissa Albert, Samantha Shannon, Tomi Adeymi, Uncategorized, YA Fantasy, Young Adult

The Books and the Bees has turned 1 today!

To celebrate my book blog’s birthday, here are some birthday books I received / bought for myself because I’m greedy and buy a ton of books before I’ve finished any of the millions on my to read list.

- the bear and the nightingale1. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

So this one was actually a gift from a close friend of mine, also coincidentally called Kathryn. This book is about – actually, I’m not entirely sure what it’s about yet, but I love it. Set in Russia, full of magic and fairy-tales and unexplainable goings-on, I’m head over heels in love with this book just six chapters in, which is probably why it was a gift (and a darn good one for me!).

Stay tuned for the review which will follow in due course.

 

- the belles

2. The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

I love fantasy because fantasy novels are a more interesting version of the real world. That’s to say, our fantasy heroines tend to experience the same problems we do, but in a more imaginative and action-packed way, and The Belles sounds like just this. Did I also mention a royal family is involved?

Fantasy, royalty, an exploration of body politics… what more could you want from a novel?

 

 

- children of blood and bone3. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeymi

Rumour has it that this is the most hyped-up YA novel of the year and I can’t wait to find out why. This novel captures the desire of many YA readers – fantasy, with an interesting twist. In this case, the twist is that it’s based on West African magic, and I am definitely here for this.

Again, this book involves magic, royalty… ticks all the boxes for this blog! Stick around for the review which will come as fast as I can finish this book.

 

- the exact opposite of okay4. The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven

So this book is hugely different to everything else on this list so far, but it’s not unlike other books I’ve reviewed on this blog because I do love my contemporary.

This novel is about a girl whose sex life is the talk of the town, and she’s not let it get to her before – but when a sex scandal with a politician’s son makes the national news, Izzy finds it harder and harder to keep her chin up.

 

- hazel wood5. The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Oops… so I just realised I’ve had an ARC of this novel since January that I hadn’t gotten around to reading. It’s nice to know my taste in novels hasn’t changed between then and now.

This fantasy novel is based on fairy tales (there seems to be a common theme recurring here…), specifically the tales that Alice’s grandmother has told her, tales that become truth when Alice has to venture into The Hazel Wood to find her missing mother.

 

The Beauty and the Beast Colouring Book (Macmillan Classic Colouring Books)

6. The Beauty and the Beast Colouring Book by Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve

I thought I would end this on a light note as most of these books seem quite heavy – this was something a friend (again, Kathryn) got me for my birthday (definitely a recurring theme) that I can’t wait to start because sometimes you need a break from all the action and the fantasy to just chill, and colouring is probably the perfect way to wind down.

 

the song rising alternate cover7. The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon

Oops – almost forgot about this gem of a book. I’ve already read this book but I waited a year to buy it in hardcopy to match all my paperbacks. If you haven’t already, you must pick up The Bone Season series because it is hands-down the best fantasy series in existence.

You can find my full review of The Song Rising here.

 

 

And that’s it! To wrap up this post, I would like to say thanks to Waterstones for having Buy One Get One Half Price off some books in their YA section which allowed me to buy so many books for myself on my birthday.

Are any of these books on your to-read list? Or have you read them already and want to share how much you love them? Let me know in the comments!

5 Stars, Book review, Fantasy, Samantha Shannon, Sci-Fi

Bee Reviews: The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon (The Bone Season #3)

the song rising alternate cover

Format: Kindle edition, 384 pages

Published: March 7th 2017 by Bloomsbury

Genre(s): Fantasy, Sci-Fi

Rating:  ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Wordery


Synopsis

Following a bloody battle against foes on every side, Paige Mahoney has risen to the dangerous position of Underqueen, ruling over London’s criminal population.

But, having turned her back on Jaxon Hall and with vengeful enemies still at large, the task of stabilising the fractured underworld has never seemed so challenging.

Little does Paige know that her reign may be cut short by the introduction of Senshield, a deadly technology that spells doom for the clairvoyant community and the world as they know it…


Review

I have to admit, I was anxious to read this book for the same reason the author was anxious to write it: the fear of being let down/letting people down. I thought back to all the TV shows I’ve ever watched where the first couple of series were amazing and then suddenly it went downhill and you wonder where it went wrong. But this? You can tell how in touch Shannon is with her characters and her world that she managed to produce another fabulous novel. There’s an art to writing a series, and much more so a septology (further reading: J. K. Rowling), that few writers can master – and Shannon is right up there with them.

The third book in the series is every bit action-packed as promised. I’ve been busted a few times by colleagues at work from where I’ve been unable to stow my Kindle away quick enough because this book is just that good. There’s a lot of world-expanding here as there have been in the first two books which some authors might find off-putting to write about but Shannon takes it in her stride.

I imagined, too. And so imagination became my nemesis; my mind created monsters out of nothing.

To put into perspective just how much I love this book: I rarely delve into the fantasy genre anymore. I’ve been let down time and time again by fantasy / YA authors (and you only have to scroll back a few posts for an example). But this is the one fantasy series I would recommend to anyone who’s never tried out the genre before. Everything is just extraordinarily thought out, you could almost believe it were real – and that’s before you compare the political agenda of Scion 2059 to real life 2017.

Another favourite about this novel is that Shannon doesn’t do the typical fantasy / YA thing and kill for shock value. Everything is calculated and you could almost believe Shannon cares as much about her characters’ welfare as the typical overly-emotional reader (such as myself). That said, I did nearly cry on the bus when a character died – as often is the case in war – but it would have been unrealistic if no one ever died.

What I will tell you is that you cannot force yourself to mourn. Sometimes, the best way to honour the dead is to simply keep living. In war, it is the only way.

Needless to say, I can’t wait for the remaining four novels, and if there’s a two-year gap between each novel, then so be it. A masterpiece doesn’t happen overnight, and I’m glad to witness the creative journey that is The Bone Season series.

My only qualm with this novel is that everyone knows going from Folkestone to Calais is much better than going from Dover to Calais, but I might just be showing my roots here.

4 Stars, Book review, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, William Horwood

Bee Reviews: Hyddenworld (Spring) by William Horwood

hyddenworld william horwoodFormat: Paperback, 505 pages

Published: January 1st 2011 by Pan Publishing (first published January 1st 2009)

Genre(s): Fantasy, Sci-Fi

Rating:  ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon


Synopsis

It has lain lost and forgotten for fifteen hundred years in the ancient heartland of England – a scrap of glass and metal melded by fierce fire. It is the lost core of a flawless Sphere made by the greatest of the Anglo-Saxon CraeftLords in memory of the one he loved. Her name was Spring and contained in the very heart of this work is a spark from the Fires of Creation.

But while humans have lost their belief in such things, the Hydden – little people existing on the borders of our world – have not. Breaking the silence of centuries they send one of their own, a young boy, Jack, to live among humans in the hope that he may one day find what has been lost for so long. His journey leads him to Katherine, a girl he rescues from a tragic accident – it’s a meeting that will change everything. It is only through their voyage into the dangerous Hyddenworld that they will realize their destiny, find love and complete the great quest that will save both their worlds from destruction.

Their journey begins with Spring…


Review

This book had me feeling mixed emotions initially. It’s very confusing, so, readers, sit tight! This is by no means a light read, but a very rewarding one. Horwood has an exceptional imagination, and his style of writing is otherworldly. This is a comment recycled over and over again by critics, but there truly is something Tolkienish about Horwood’s writing.

The things I didn’t like about this book include that it was confusing, long-winded, said something in several chapters that could have been written in one. Again – very Tolkienish. There was also something magical, enchanting, bewitching about this novel, and I can’t wait to continue the adventure in the sequels! I hope they’re just as spectacular, and the reading experience is just as enthralling as it has been for this one.

Fantasy, J R R Tolkien, Samantha Shannon, Sara Raasch, Top 5 Wednesday, YA Fantasy

Top 5 Wednesday: Five Fantasy Books On Your TBR

(This is part of a meme hosted by the Top 5 Wednesday Goodreads group.)

Again, my top five list is rather lacking, so if you have any great fantasy reads that I’m missing out on, please let me know!

1. The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon (The Bone Season #3) is the most anticipated fantasy novel of the year. This series follows Paige Mahoney, now-Underqueen of London’s criminal population, as she navigates life as a clairvoyant in the 2050s. The third novel in the septology promises to be just as captivating and dangerous as the 2.5 books before it.

2. Beren and Lúthien is the latest posthumous novel to be released by J. R. R. Tolkien (edited by Christopher Tolkien). This love story promises to be very different to your typical romance novels. A forbidden love between a mortal man and an immortal Elf is by no means an easy when your father-in-law sets you on a mission that puts everything, including your life, at stake.

3. Okay, I know that Frost Like Night by @sararaasch (Snow Like Ashes #3) has been on my TBR pile for a very long time, but I’m too uncertain about what I’m going to do with my life when I finally put this series to rest! The final installment that follows Miera’s struggle in bringing the kingdoms of Primoria together to fight the Decay that threatens their land is, I’m sure, going to be every bit action-packed as it sounds.

Do any of these books particularly take your fancy? Is there anything obvious that I’m missing? Let me know in the comments!