Book Review: The Scarecrow Queen (Melinda Salisbury)

Publisher: Scholastic

Pages: 336

Release Date: March 2nd 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

The final battle is coming . . .

As the Sleeping Prince tightens his hold on Lormere and Tregellan, the net closes in on the ragged band of rebels trying desperately to defeat him. Twylla and Errin are separated, isolated, and running out of time. The final battle is coming, and Aurek will stop at nothing to keep the throne forever . . .

Review:

This is one of my favourite new fantasy series and I was so excited/sad to read this final book. After reading books from Twylla and Errin separately it was great to see their stories come together as they both battled the Sleeping Prince in their own way.

Warning: spoilers ahead if you haven’t read the previous books. You have been warned!

Errin and Silas are prisoners of the Sleeping Prince, victims of his whims and forced to do as he says for fear of the other getting hurt. Meanwhile, Twylla has been left to pick up the pieces of their shattered rebellion.

Before reading this I re-read The Sin Eater’s Daughter and The Sleeping Prince and it was great to reabsorb myself in that world and remember all the events that had come before. On second reading, I didn’t really like Merek until this book. In the first book I found him a bit closed off and up himself, and I didn’t like the things he asked of Twylla. He really came into his own in this book though and I found myself hoping he and Twylla would get together, even though before I was totally Team Leif.

Speaking of which… what a frustrating character! I think some people have found his actions baffling but I kind of get it. He’s like the kid in the playground who sides with the school bully and wants to please him without upsetting everyone else too much. He’ll pull your pig tails but say sorry later. Only in Leif’s case his actions are a lot more serious and can’t be made up for so easily. I won’t say anymore for fear of spoilers but I did like his storyline, despite wanting to give him a good slap most of the time. While I was kind of over the whole him and Twylla thing, I did wish he’d help his sister out more.

The Sleeping Prince was even more wonderful in this book, probably because we got to see him a lot more. There’s a casual cruelty to him that just makes my skin crawl. The things Errin went through while living in the castle with him… *shudders* I don’t know how she stayed so strong, to be honest.

In the last book I wasn’t sure about Twylla when she just announced that she was going to raise an army and fight the Sleeping Prince. But by Gods, she went and did it in this book! I liked that she started off uncertain and got off on the wrong foot (when she started the whole thing with the chamberpots I was rolling my eyes – glad it didn’t work out for her!). She proves herself to be a worthy leader though, and while I understand her frustration at having destinies written for her all the time, she does manage to take this one and make it her own.

The ending was not as bad as I expected. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. I was expecting to have Mel drive a knife into my chest and cut a perfect cirlce and drag out my still beating heart… but it was relatively tame. It was exciting and dramatic and yes, a little sad, but it didn’t break my heart too much. It felt like the right way to end things: rebellions can’t be won without loss and pain, and there was some of that, but there was also hope and resolution and I think the balance was just right.

This has been an incredible series and is one I still recommend to friends all the time. I loved the writing and the rich worldbuilding and I can’t wait to see what Melinda Salisbury writes next.

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Book Review: The King of Rats (Melinda Salisbury)

Publisher: Scholastic

Pages: 48

Release Date: July 29th 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

Five hundred years ago, Tallith was a utopia, populated by a proud and privilged people, none more so than Crown Prince Aurek, and his twin sister Aurelia. With their golden eyes and silver hair, the twins were the jewel in the crown of the realm, light and dark, night and day. The bright future of Tallith seemed assured in their hands.

But then the rats came.

From across the seas, they summon the rat catcher, desperate to rid their people of the plague attacking the very heart of Tallith. But the rat catcher brings with him more than just his trade; a beautiful daughter who will bow to no man. And when prince Aurek decides he will have her, come what may, he sets in motion a chain of events that will reshape the world for centuries to come…

 

Review:

I love the Sin Eater series and was super jealous when I saw people coming back from YALC with The King of Rats. Luckily, for those like me who couldn’t go, it’s also available to download from the Waterstones website here.

The beauty of this book is you don’t really need to read the series to read this one. It helps: I loved reading the actual story of the myth we hear about in the books, but if you chose this as your first venture into the world, you wouldn’t be confused or disappointed.

The writing is beautiful and vivid, as always, and I love the characters Salisbury creates. Prince Aurek especially is a favourite of mine, nasty as he can be, and reading this has just made me want to read The Sleeping Prince all over again, and got me really excited for The Scarecrow Queen. It’s definitely one of my most anticipated reads for 2017.

I love the kind of Pied Piper retelling, as that’s always been a story that’s fascinated me and really captured my imagination. I want to read more about the royal twins too: the snippets we’ve heard about them in other books is not enough, and this has just whet my appetite. I love this world and I’m hoping that there will be more novellas released in future, as this is a series I just keep wanting more from.

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Book Review: The Sleeping Prince (Melinda Salisbury)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Scholastic

Pages: 336

Release Date: February 4th 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

Ever since her brother Lief disappeared, Errin’s life has gone from bad to worse. Not only must she care for her sick mother, she has to scrape together rent money by selling illegal herbal cures. But none of that compares to the threat of the vengeful Sleeping Prince whom the Queen just awoke from his enchanted sleep.

When her village is evacuated as part of the war against the Sleeping Prince, Errin is left desperate and homeless. The only person she can turn to is the mysterious Silas, a young man who buys deadly poisons from Errin, but won’t reveal why he needs them. Silas promises to help her, but when he vanishes, Errin must journey across a kingdom on the brink of war to seek another way to save her mother and herself. But what she finds shatters everything she believed about her world, and with the Sleeping Prince drawing nearer, Errin must make a heartbreaking choice that could affect the whole kingdom.

 

Review:

I am so excited to be part of the blog tour for The Sleeping Prince today. I loved The Sin Eater’s Daughter this time last year and was super excited to get my hands on the sequel. Big thank you to Faye Rogers and Scholastic for sending me a copy of the book and letting me be a part of the tour 🙂

Let’s start off with a cover gush – OMGitisgorgeous!! – because it is stunning and deserves all the praise in the world. This series has by far the best covers ever for me, I simply adore them.

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Of course, a beautiful cover doesn’t make a wonderful book, and after enjoying The Sin Eater’s Daughter  so much I was worried about how I’d find the sequel, especially as I’d gathered it didn’t directly follow on Twylla’s story from where the last book left off.

Of course, I should have had more faith in Melinda Salisbury and I shall never be a doubter again, because I bloody loved this book. It’s got the same star rating as the last one (I don’t go higher than 5) but I honestly felt like I enjoyed this book even more than the first. I think it was probably just the joy of being in the world again – I love the fairy tale aspects, and exploring more of the world this time, and through someone else’s eyes.

Errin is a brilliant protagonist and I really felt for her as she tried desperately to keep together her crumbling family. I love having to face the question of how far would you go to protect your family, and Errin has to make some tough choices here. There’s still some romance in this book, but less so than in the first, and no pesky love triangle, so I was more than happy. The Sleeping Prince is a villain to rival the Queen from the first book – I’m not sure which I’d rather have to face, though I think the Prince’s cruelty just tips it for me. He’s seriously evil.

This is a real page turner and you can’t help but getting sucked in straight away – it’s one of those “I’ll just read one more chapter…” books and before you know it you’ve almost finished and are about to miss your train stop. The imagery is beautiful, the writing just flows and the characters are fully fleshed out people that you really care about.

For those who, like me, loved the first book, then I assure you this is the perfect follow up. And if you’ve yet to read either then I urge you to now – they’re both seriously brilliant. I can’t wait to see what comes next (but I guess I’ll have to suffer through another year before the sequel comes out – boo hoo 🙁 )

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About Melinda Salisbury

Melinda Salisbury Latest Headshot (1) When not working on her next novel, Melinda Salisbury is busy reading and travelling, both of which are now more addictions than hobbies.

To find out more about Melinda check out here website – www.melindasalisbury.com Or why not follow her on twitter – @ahintofmystery

Blog Tour

You can catch up with the rest of The Sleeping Prince tour here:

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Monday 1st February – Music, Books and Tea

Tuesday 2nd February – Tales of Yesterday

Wednesday 3rd February – The Bibliophile Chronicles

Thursday 4th February – Jess Hearts Books & Uncorked Thoughts

Friday 5th February – Maia and a Little Moore

Saturday 6th February – Bookish Outsiders

Sunday 7th February – The Book Moo

Monday 8th February – Mia in Narnia

Tuesday 9th February – So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday 10th February – Emma’s Bookery

Thursday 11th February – The Books Bandit

Friday 12th February – Big Book Little Book

Saturday 13th February – The Reading Fangirl

Sunday 14th February – Literary-ly Obsessed

Soundtrack Saturday: The Sin Eater’s Daughter (Melinda Salisbury)

 

Soundtrack Saturday is a weekly meme created and run by Erin at The Hardcover Lover. I’ve been really enjoying making these so am trying to make it a regular thing on my blog.

Last week I chose to make a soundtrack for Seed by Lisa Heathfield.

This week I decided to do one for The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury. This was released earlier this year and I fell in love as soon as I saw the cover. Then I read it and fell in love with it all over again.

 

21936988Poison and Wine – The Civil Wars


You only know what I want you to
I know everything you don’t want me to
Your mouth is posion
Your mouth is wine
You think your dreams are the same as mine

Separate – Meg and Dia


There are times when I’m feeling like I’ve lost all control
And I’m talking ’bout a year or more
And I remember when I was a kid and it was simple
I couldn’t ask for me
And I was heading down the straight and narrow
When the Devil pulled me in by my elbow
He gently removed my blindfold
I said, “Don’t show me more.”

Paper Forest – Emmy the Great


You’re not unlucky, you’re just not very smart
These things will never leave you, they’re as close as you can get
To a blueprint for the future – but you can call it fate
It’s like these days I have to write down almost every thought I’ve held,
So scared I am becoming of forgetting how it felt
And these fears they will unravel me one day
But still I am afraid

The Good in Me is Dead – Martyn Joseph


I woke shaking and thinking
About love that’s in the world
And if there’s a bigger picture
How it’s all obscene, absurd
So pass me that revolver
Pass me a book I read
Pass me a fresh cut flower, sir
Ask me what I dread
That the good in me is dead

Night Still Comes – Neko Case


There are so many tools that are made for my hands
But the tide smashes all my best laid plans to sand
And there’s always someone to say it’s easy for me
But I revenge myself all over myself
There’s nothing you can say to me

Catch Me – Demi Lovato


Before I fall too fast
Kiss me quick but make it last
So I can see how badly this will hurt me when you say goodbye
Keep it sweet
Keep it slow
Let the future pass and don’t let go
But tonight I could fall too soon under this beautiful moonlight

The Poison – The All American Rejects


I can be pensive
You can be so sure
You’ll be the poison
You’ll be the cure
I’m alone on the journey
I’m alive none the less
And when you do your very worst
It feels the best

Top Five… Bad Book Habits

So this post has been a while in the making. I’ve been thinking about it since a #UKYAChat near the beginning of the year, where we talked about our bad bookish habits. I had a few stories then (mostly just me being careless, like when I lost several book pages into the Nile…) but I’ve been thinking about it more lately and noticing when I do bad things. 
So here are my Top Five Bad Book Habits:

5.
Not taking care of books

This book is sellotaped together and has several loose pages, rips and blemishes. But only because I love it so much and it’s been read so often.

I used to be super careful of my books and would freak out if a page got creased or the cover got a little scuffed. I’ve learned to let go a bit now, and some of my favourite books are the ones that are the most battered. It just shows they’ve been well read and well loved. 

4.
Not lending books


Ever. I can’t do it any more. I’m too worried that someone will ruin it, or never give it back. Every time someone mentions borrowing a book I will skilfully steer the conversation away until it’s forgotten. No one takes my books!

3.
Re-reading the same things

I can’t count how many times I’ve read this book. And I’m planning on doing it again soon…
All the time. Seriously, I spent the last few years going over and over the same books. In a way that’s nice, as there are some books that I think I could just love off forever. But I’ve been forcing myself to read new things this year, and I’ve discovered so many great books as a result of that.

2.
Judging books by their covers

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How gorgeous is this cover?!
I did a post on this a while back. I know the saying goes not to judge a book by it’s cover, but if we weren’t meant to do that then what are covers for?! But still, it has got me in ‘trouble’ in the past, with gorgeous covers luring me in to a terrible story, and inconspicuous covers secretly containing genius stories.


1.
Skipping to the end

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There’s so many last sentence cliffhangers in this book and I kept pre-reading them all


I do this all the time. Sometimes it’s the end of the book, and I can’t resist sneaking a peak at the last few sentences. But I’ve noticed recently that I do it more often than I thought, with the last sentence of a chapter. Especially on books that end with cliffhangers, like The Maze Runner series – every time the end of a chapter came up my eyes flicked there automatically. It’s like I have to spoil things for myself! 
Does anyone else have any bad book habits you’d like to get rid of, or have grown to love?


The Bookblogger TMI Tag

The lovely Priya tagged me to do this a while back (check out her post here) and so here it is. The Bookblogger TMI Tag is an adapted version of Carrie Hope Fletcher’s (who I saw in December and is AMAZING) TMI tag on YouTube. So here is mine.

1)Which clothes style from a book character do you like?

I can’t think of a clothes style but I always wanted to have super long blue hair like Rialle from Song Quest.

2)Your book boyfriend/ fictional crush?

I actually don’t think I have one. Romances are often my least favourite part of books (probably because I’m old and jaded)

3)Ever loved a character but than started hating him/her?

Kaede in The Harsh Cry of the Heron. I love her in the first three books and then in this one she doesn’t act as strong and intelligent as she usually does, and her actions cause a whole world of pain for everyone else.

4)Biggest/Longest book on your shelf?

The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George at 1139 pages (it took me a while to get through that one – it’s tiny writing as well!)

5)Heaviest book on your shelf?

Either the one above or my copy of The Complete Works of Lewis Carroll. It’s hardback and pretty big.

6)Do you have any book posters?

I don’t have any posters but I do have a few postcards and little bits like that.

7)Do you have any book themed jewellery?
I didn’t until recently. I got a lovely necklace from Melinda Salisbury with my copy of The Sin Eater’s Daughter which I’ve been wearing all week 🙂

8)Book OTP?

I’ll admit I had to look up what that meant…I’m going to leave this one unanswered…

9)Favourite book series?

It’s a hard one but right now I’d go with the Chaos Walking Trilogy or the Animorphs series.

10)Favourite Book-to-movie soundtrack?

Have to agree with Priya here and say Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit. My friends used to put the music from the end of The Fellowship on the jukebox in the pub and annoy everyone by speaking all the lines. Yeah, we were cool.

11)A book story you miss/ wish would continue?

I think I’d say Animorphs again here. Those books meant a lot to me, plus, while I did enjoy the ending, I would also love to find out what happened next.

12)Favourite stand-alone?

The Night Circus. I love it but also I can’t see many books without sequels on my shelves!

13)Since when did you read books?

Since forever. My parents were great with bedtime stories every night and when I could read for myself, I did at every opportunity. I used to sit in the bath at night to read (I couldn’t be told off for being up too late if they thought I was in the toilet!)

14)Which Hogwarts house are you in?

I found out recently I was in Slytherin. Mwahahahaha.

15)Quality you look for in a book?

Just engaging. Which is like the X-factor for books I guess: you can’t saw what it is, but you know when a book had got it.

16)Favourite book quote?

Stories are wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?” 
― Patrick NessA Monster Calls
And any number of other Patrick Ness quotes

17)Favourite author?

Ah that is pretty hard to choose. I’d say Michael de Larrabeiti because he wrote one of my favourite books (The Borrible Trilogy)

18)Favourite book cover?

The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury. The colours are just beautiful.

19)Action or Romance?

I’d probably lean more towards action. Romance isn’t as important to me as other kinds of relationships.

20) Where do you go when a sad moment happens?

I go to bed in my onesie (and hopefully a bf there for cuddles/massages).

21) How long do you take to finish a book?

Silly question, it depends on the length. But not too long, as a rule. I travel for work 3 hours a day and that packs in some good reading time.

22)How long is your mourning period?

Usually pretty short. It has to be a pretty fierce book hangover to have me mourn more than a day.

23)Least favourite book?

The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean. I haven’t read it for a long time but I think it’s one of the few books I’ve not finished.

24)Turn on in a character?

Honesty

25)Turn off in a character?

Whining.

26)Reason I started my book blog?

I just had a massive urge to do it last year. I’m not really sure of my reasons, but now I have I love it. It’s so great to be connected to lots of people who also love books.

27)Name a scary book?

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl which I read recently and loved. I’ve been really into scary books lately.

28)Last book that made you cry?

I don’t really cry at book but the last one to make me feel like crying was probably The Harsh Cry of the Heron The ending is just brutal.

29)Last book that you gave 5 stars?

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill. Go read it!

30)Any favourite book titles?

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making
What’s not to love about that? I bought it for the title alone.

31)Last book you read?

Me & Mr J by Rachel McIntyre. Really interesting read, would definitely recommend it.

32)Book you’re currently reading?

You Against Me by Jenny Downham I got it in Waterstones yesterday for £1 😮 Really enjoying it (and also The Complete Grimm Tales, which I got for Valentine’s Day and am slowly crawling my way through).

33)Last book adaptation you watched?

Hmmm… I don’t know. Probably an episode of Pretty Little Liars (which is amazing and I can’t wait for next season!)

34)A book character you always wanted to talk to?

Lyra from His Dark Materials. But she probably wouldn’t like me…

35)An author you always wanted to talk to?

Again, Michael de Larrabeiti, but sadly he is now dead 🙁

36)Favourite book snack?

I don’t have a usual one but right now it’s Mini Eggs.

37)Book world you want to live in?

I’d love to live in Rivendell. But after all the crazy stuff with the Ring has gone down.

38)Least world you want to live in?

Hell, in Damned. It’s a pretty nasty place.

39)Last time you smelled a book?

Yesterday. I was opening birthday presents and smelt them wrapped and then unwrapped. You have to smell new books.

40)Weird insults used in books?

Your virginity breeds mites, much like a cheese.


Shakespeare is the king of weird insults.

41)Favourite romance book?

Mmm again not much of a romance fan… Fault in Our Stars maybe? 

42)Do you write?

Yes, I write a lot. I’ve always wanted to be an author, and I’m being more disciplined about it now! I’d like to get published soon, once my manuscript is finished (that’s the dream anyway)

43)Favourite magical item?

The one Ring to rule them all, of course.

44)Your quidditch position?

I don’t know… probably Keeper.

45)Name a song you connect to a book

Eyes Open by Taylor Swift makes me think of The Hunger Games. Mostly because it’s in the soundtrack, but it just feels so perfect for it.

46)Favourite book related chat up line?

Are you a library book? Because I can’t stop checking you out.

47)Have you ever used it?

No, I just googled it…Maybe I’ll try it on the boyfriend later.

48)Favourite book fandom?

Probably the Harry Potter one. I’m not that into fandoms but that’s a very welcoming, tolerant and diverse one.

49)How many books do you own?

Probably around 300-400 but they’re scattered in so many places I can’t count. I want to move out and buy a load of bookcases to display them properly.

50)Who do you tag?

I’ll just tag anyone who fancies doing it 🙂

Book Review: The Sin Eater’s Daughter (Melinda Salisbury)

Publisher: Scholastic UK

Pages: 336

Release Date: 5th February 2015

Summary (From Goodreads):

Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court.

She’s the executioner.

As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company.

But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen.

However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favour of a doomed love?

Review:

I was lucky enough to receive this book from the author (through a competition on Twitter) Along with a copy of the book, I got a signed proof copy and some other lovely bits and pieces too.

I am drawn in instantly by the cover (the colours are just beautiful) and by the idea as well: the quote on the proof copy reads ‘I am the perfect weapon. I kill with a single touch.‘ Along with some hype that’s gone on around it on Twitter I was all set to read and love this book.

And that is exactly what I did.

Twylla, the protagonist, is well rounded in a way that I haven’t seen in many books lately. While being likeable and believable, she has real emotions and flaws that hold her back and have a major impact on her life and how she’s living it. It’s interesting to watch her develop over the book and eventually start taking some control for herself. I hope that in the sequels, (which I can’t wait for) we’ll see her growing into herself more.

The world creation is beautifully done. There’s a lot of information to take in but it’s drip fed slowly and steadily, with little reminders throughout the book so you never forget what world you’re in and what the rules are. Speaking of which – and without giving too much away – I admire a writer who can create and then break rules in the way that’s done here. It makes for great twists and turns in the book and really shows how clever you can be with your own world if you know what you’re doing.

What really made the world feel real and rounded was the mythos: the religion, the Gods, the fairytales. It’s just enough information to bring the world to life. I was really intrigued by the idea of ‘Sin Eating’ and would love to hear more about it. Twylla’s mother as the Sin Eater was an excellent character who both repelled and fascinated me.

I’ll admit to being the teensiest bit irritated by the love triangle that formed, not because it wasn’t believable and intense and everything, but because it feels like love triangles are almost mandatory in YA novels at the moment. But that’s only the briefest if niggles: it’s integral to the plot and has its own series of twists and turns. I love that, like Twylla, both contenders for her heart are deeply flawed and neither is the obvious choice or knight in shining armour that you might expect.

I’d say it’s easily one of the best books I’ve read this year (I know it’s only February but I’ve read a fair amount and only one other got five star). If you like a beautifully crafted world full of its own mythos, with an deep and intricate plot then this is for you. It stands well alone as a novel as well as the first in a series and it’s definitely one to read immediately.

My Verdict:

Copy of an art exhibit
Check out my soundtrack for The Sin Eater’s Daughter here