The Camelot Betrayal by Kiersten White

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The Camelot Betrayal by Kiersten White

Camelot Rising #2

Published November 10, 2020 by Delacorte Press

400 Pages

Goodreads Summary: Everything is as it should be in Camelot. King Arthur is expanding his kingdom’s influence with Queen Guinevere at his side. Yet every night, dreams of darkness and unknowable power plague her.

Guinevere might have accepted her role, but she still cannot find a place for herself in all of it. The closer she gets to Brangien, pining for her lost love Isolde, Lancelot, fighting to prove her worth as Queen’s knight, and Arthur, everything to everyone and thus never quite enough for Guinevere–the more she realizes how empty she is. She has no sense of who she truly was before she was Guinevere. The more she tries to claim herself as queen, the more she wonders if Mordred was right: she doesn’t belong. She never will.

When a rescue goes awry and results in the death of something precious, a devastated Guinevere returns to Camelot to find the greatest threat yet has arrived. Not in the form of the Dark Queen or an invading army, but in the form of the real Guinevere’s younger sister. Is her deception at an end? And who is she really deceiving–Camelot, or herself?

The second book in a new fantasy trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White, exploring the nature of self, the inevitable cost of progress, and, of course, magic and romance and betrayal so epic Queen Guinevere remains the most famous queen who never lived.

Review: *Please note that this is the second book in a series so there may be spoilers for book one* I really enjoyed the first book, The Guinevere Deception, so I had been really looking forward to Arthur and Guinevere’s story continuing on in this sequel. The author’s take on Guinevere and the Arthurian legends are incredibly interesting and in my opinion, a little more thrilling than the usual tale. For the most part, I really liked this sequel. There were some twists, like Guinevere’s realization of who her mother might be, that I didn’t see coming which always makes me happy. With the Arthurian legends being so well known, I think it definitely speaks to Kiersten White’s ability to zig when everyone else zags. My only real issue with this novel was that I got a little tired of Guinevere’s inner monologues, especially about Merlin and knot magic. It felt a little repetitive and kind of detracted from the story’s pacing. But that wasn’t enough of an annoyance to truly bother me. I can’t wait to see what happens next in the third installment!

4 Stars

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

21 Books In 2021 Challenge

Hello everyone! It’s been a long time since my last post. What can I say, 2020 was a doozy. My hope this year is to be more active here but at the same time still keep things low key and as stress free as possible. This is supposed to be fun 🙂

My first post for 2021 is a reading challenge that I have been seeing around both in the blogging world and on Instagram. It seems like the perfect way to knock off some books that have been sitting on my TBR list for far too long as well as books I acquired last year that I had fully intended on reading in 2020. My full reading goal for the year is 75 books so this will be only a fraction of what I hope to read this year. This challenge is pretty self-explanatory… to choose 21 books that you want to read in 2021.

I feel like this is a pretty good mix of genres so I should be able to fit all of my moods whenever they strike. What books are you hoping to read this year that you haven’t gotten around to in years past?

The Forgotten Kingdom by Signe Pike

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The Forgotten King by Signe Pike

The Lost Queen Trilogy #2

Published September 15th 2020 by Atria Books

496 Pages

Goodreads Summary: AD 573. Imprisoned in her chamber, Languoreth awaits news in torment. Her husband and son have ridden off to wage war against her brother, Lailoken. She doesn’t yet know that her young daughter, Angharad, who was training with Lailoken to become a Wisdom Keeper, has been lost in the chaos. As one of the bloodiest battles of early medieval Scottish history scatters its survivors to the wind, Lailoken and his men must flee to exile in the mountains of the Lowlands, while nine-year-old Angharad must summon all Lailoken has taught her and follow her own destiny through the mysterious, mystical land of the Picts.

In the aftermath of the battle, old political alliances unravel, opening the way for the ambitious adherents of the new religion: Christianity. Lailoken is half-mad with battle sickness, and Languoreth must hide her allegiance to the Old Way to survive her marriage to the next Christian king of Strathclyde. Worst yet, the new King of the Angles is bent on expanding his kingdom at any cost. Now the exiled Lailoken, with the help of a young warrior named Artur, may be the only man who can bring the Christians and the pagans together to defeat the encroaching Angles. But to do so, he must claim the role that will forever transform him. He must become the man known to history as “Myrddin.”

Bitter rivalries are ignited, lost loves are found, new loves are born, and old enemies come face-to-face with their reckoning in this compellingly fresh look at one of the most enduring legends of all time.

Review: This book is a sequel so if you haven’t read The Lost Queen then proceed with caution as there may be spoilers ahead. If you haven’t read The Lost Queen…. what are you waiting for?! The Forgotten Kingdom picks up where The Lost Queen left off, which was fantastic because I was dying to know what happened next. I really fell in love with Langoureth and Lailoken so I was very glad to see their journeys continue in the sequel. In The Lost Queen, the book mainly focuses on Langoureth but in this one we are also given perspectives from Lailoken and Langoureth’s youngest daughter, Angharad. Langoureth is still my favorite character but I really came to love Angharad’s story and am very excited to see what is in store for her in the third book. I don’t want to say too much about what happened because, well, spoilers, but I am definitely liking where I am seeing this story going. I love how well researched these novels have been. It’s been fantastic reading about this era in Scotland. What makes it even better is that even though it is well researched, Signe Pike is able to make the story magical and the flow of her writing adds to the mysticism of the time. I really can’t wait to see what happens in the third book.

5 Stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman

Magic Lessons (Practical Magic, #0.1)

Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman

Published October 6th 2020 by Simon Schuster

416 Pages

Goodreads Summary: In an unforgettable novel that traces a centuries-old curse to its source, beloved author Alice Hoffman unveils the story of Maria Owens, accused of witchcraft in Salem, and matriarch of a line of the amazing Owens women and men featured in Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic.

Where does the story of the Owens bloodline begin? With Maria Owens, in the 1600s, when she’s abandoned in a snowy field in rural England as a baby. Under the care of Hannah Owens, Maria learns about the “Unnamed Arts.” Hannah recognizes that Maria has a gift and she teaches the girl all she knows. It is here that she learns her first important lesson: Always love someone who will love you back.

When Maria is abandoned by the man who has declared his love for her, she follows him to Salem, Massachusetts. Here she invokes the curse that will haunt her family. And it’s here that she learns the rules of magic and the lesson that she will carry with her for the rest of her life. Love is the only thing that matters.

Magic Lessons is a celebration of life and love and a showcase of Alice Hoffman’s masterful storytelling.

Review: From the moment I knew this book was coming out, I desperately wanted to read it. Practical Magic is one of my all-time favorite movies that I watch every year in October. I love magic and witches but even more than that, I love the stories of the Owens women. When Alice Hoffman wrote The Rules of Magic, I fell in love with that one just as much as I loved Practical Magic. And what could be better than traveling back in time to where it all began… Maria Owens.

It didn’t take me very long to completely love this book. Reading about Maria and how she grew up and what circumstances brought her to Massachusetts. Maria is such a great character and Alice Hoffman did a wonderful job writing her from the baby that Hannah Owens took in and raised as her own, all the way to the very end of the book as a woman who was strong and independent and helped those in need. I loved so many of the characters in this book, especially Maria and Samuel Dias though. From the moment they met, I desperately wanted them to end up together. Another thing that I loved about this book were the historical settings. They were all written so well that I could easily visualize myself walking beside Maria as she experienced everything in those places. One of my favorite things in this book were the additions to Maria’s Grimoire. I almost felt like grabbing a blank journal and writing everything down to make my own Grimoire.

This story and the writing were so magical and lyrical. This is definitely a book to be savored and not rush through. It was everything I hoped it would be and more.

5 Stars

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review – Swamp Thing: Twin Branches

Swamp Thing: Twin Branches

Written by Maggie Stiefvater

Illustrations by Morgan Beem

Published October 13, 2020 by DC Comics

208 Pages

DC Comics Summary: Twins Alec and Walker Holland have a reputation around town. One is quiet and the other is the life of any party, but they are inseparable. Spending their last summer before college together, the two leave the city to live with their rural cousins, where they find that the swamp holds far darker depths than they could have imagined. This season, both brothers must confront truths, ancient and familial, and as their lives diverge, tensions increase and dormant memories claw to the surface.

Review: When I first heard that DC Comics was coming out with a graphic novel about Swamp Thing, I was intrigued. And then add Maggie Stiefvater to the mix, and I was sold. I couldn’t wait to read it. I’ve been really getting into the DC universe lately with the awesome YA graphic novels they have been putting out lately. I went into this not knowing a thing about Swamp Thing.

The story starts out with Alec and Walker taking a break from their fighting parents and off to spend their last summer before college with their cousins in Virginia. Right from the start I felt a kinship with Alec. Like a true introvert, he has a really hard time fitting in with other people his age and prefers to be left alone. Walker is the exact opposite and tries to get Alec to get out more. Alec would much rather spend his time with his plants and his experiment, Boris. I felt so hard for him when all of his research and experiments were ruined upon arriving in Virginia. But he didn’t give up and did everything he could to get back on track. I loved seeing him connect with a fellow nerd, Abby. I also really enjoyed the little tidbits on different plants that had a connection to how Alec felt. One of the really cool things about this story was seeing the brothers’ relationship with each other. In typical twin fashion, they had each other’s backs in everything. It was really great seeing Walker’s vulnerabilities towards the end and Alec stepping up to take control of the situation to protect Walker.

In addition to the story, I really loved the illustrations by Morgan Beem. I loved seeing the story come to life. The color scheme was gorgeous. One of my favorite things about the art was seeing the dogs transformation after they destroyed Alec’s work. So cool! I think the only thing I was really disappointed with was the ending. It happened so quickly and I need to know more!

4 Stars

I received a free copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

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All images provided by DC Comics.