The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

The Shadows Between Us
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: February 25th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:

1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?

I loved The Shadows Between Us. I’m finding that Tricia Levenseller is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. The way she writes chemistry between characters is amazing.

So I loved the characters in the story. Alessandra is by far one of my favorites. She’s so unapologetically herself. She’s smart and unafraid to use anything to get what she wants. She’s such a strong female and doesn’t let what roles are expected of women to confine her. She explores her sexuality and speaks her mind. Giving advice on political matters in a very direct unbashful way.

Kallias is The Shadow King, ruler of the kingdom due to the tragic murder of his parents. He keeps people arms length away because of this as he continues to hunt their killers. Who he knows are closer than anyone thinks.

The relationship between Alessandra and Kallias is great. Not even in the romantic aspect but by the fact they treat one another as equals. Kallias respects Alessandra’s inputs and as they learn more about one another he is supportive of things that she would normally have to hide. The romantic side though the chemistry is definitely crackling between the two and it was a lot of fun to read.

I liked the plot. Alessandra’s whole intention is to get herself entrench in Kallias confidence, make him fall in love with her and then kill him and take over the kingdom. As she carries out her plan we find out more about her home life to make her feel this need to be seen and in control. She also finds a really strong group of female friends and even a group of guys she likes to spend time with. It was nice to see friendship importance so greatly highlighted. They are encouraging and supportive. Plus other plots come to light, the history behind Kallias shadows he uses to protect himself. The world building stays mainly to the castle but it doesn’t make it any less interesting.

I really loved this book and the characters. It’s always harder to talk about a book you love I think. All I can say is go read it.

Tricia Levenseller is the author of the Daughter of the Pirate King duology, Warrior of the Wild, and forthcoming The Shadows Between Us. She likes to describe her books as young adult alternate–world historical fantasies with heavy romantic subplots.

Initially from a small town in Oregon, Tricia now lives next to the Rocky Mountains with her bossy dog, Rosy. She received her degree in English Language and editing, and she is thrilled that she never has to read a textbook again. When she’s not writing or reading, Tricia enjoys putting together jigsaw puzzles, playing volleyball, playing Overwatch with her siblings, and watching shows while eating extra-buttered popcorn.

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Prize: Win a copy of THE SHADOWS BETWEEN US by Tricia Levenseller (US Only)
Starts: 19th February 2020
Ends: 4th March 2020
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The Queen's Assassin by Melissa de la Cruz

The Queen's Assassin (Queen's Secret #1)
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons
Release Date: February 4th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Red Queen, this is the first novel in a sweeping YA fantasy-romance duet about a deadly assassin, his mysterious apprentice, and the country they are sworn to protect from #1 NYT bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz.

Caledon Holt is the Kingdom of Renovia's deadliest weapon. No one alive can best him in brawn or brains, which is why he's the Guild's most dangerous member and the Queen's one and only assassin. He's also bound to the Queen by an impossible vow--to find the missing Deian Scrolls, the fount of all magical history and knowledge, stolen years ago by a nefarious sect called the Aphrasians.

Shadow has been training all her life to follow in the footsteps of her mother and aunts--to become skilled enough to join the ranks of the Guild. Though magic has been forbidden since the Aphrasian uprising, Shadow has been learning to control her powers in secret, hoping that one day she'll become an assassin as feared and revered as Caledon Holt.

When a surprise attack brings Shadow and Cal together, they're forced to team up as assassin and apprentice to hunt down a new sinister threat to Renovia. But as Cal and Shadow grow closer, they'll uncover a shocking web of lies and secrets that may destroy everything they hold dear. With war on the horizon and true love at risk, they'll stop at nothing to protect each other and their kingdom in this stunning first novel in the Queen's Secret series.

The beginning of The Queen’s Assassin reminds me a lot of Sleeping Beauty. Girl living in a cottage with her Aunts who take care of her. Her mother does something in the palace and periodically visits her. Very suspicious. So I kept thinking of her that way even though at no point does she prick her finger.

I really liked Shadow. She has her moments where she is impulsive and doesn’t listen to anyone else. She can also be stubborn and won’t admit she is wrong ...very much like my own family. She’s pretty but she’s not one of those characters where she is pretty and doesn’t know it. She knows it, she just doesn’t really care. She wants to prove her worth as a Guild member and Assasin. The impulsive problem is that she sets out to do this with no formal training and without really knowing what’s going on. She has enough skills to take care of herself, especially since she does have magic on her side but she still often gets herself in trouble.

One of those impulsive situations is Caledon Holt. He is the Queen’s Assassin, a pledge that has been carried over from his father. Caledon actually dreams of the day when he can break away from that life but in order to do so he must fulfil a promise to find Deian Scrolls. I really liked Cal because he does his job but he also can be kind. Especially when it comes to Shadow and it’s not just his feelings that develop for her. I think that he just has a great deal of empathy for the fact that she wants to prove herself.

Okay so the book is told from two different points of view and in two different styles. First person and third person. The funny thing is that I probably would not have noticed if I did not recently read another book this way and someone had mentioned in a review. It does not bother me in the least to flip back and forth like that. I can see doing that if you don’t think you could do a character justice in first person. I’m just guessing on that honestly but again the flipping does not bother me.

I liked the story. Although I think the Deian Scrolls took a back seat in this book, I’m guessing they will play a bigger role later. This is really just the initial set-up and you can see that the arc only has more to go. Shadow has to make a particular choice at the end that I was surprised by but also really curious where it’s going to take the story in the future. I liked the story, even though it’s a fantasy it had a lighter feel to it. I enjoy my dark stories but it’s nice to read something that feels fun but also intriguing.

Melissa de la Cruz is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for teens including The Au Pairs series, the Blue Bloods series, the Ashleys series, the Angels on Sunset Boulevard series and the semi-autobiographical novel Fresh off the Boat.

Her books for adults include the novel Cat’s Meow, the anthology Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys and the tongue-in-chic handbooks How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less and The Fashionista Files: Adventures in Four-inch heels and Faux-Pas.

She has worked as a fashion and beauty editor and has written for many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, The San Francisco Chronicle, McSweeney’s, Teen Vogue, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen. She has also appeared as an expert on fashion, trends and fame for CNN, E! and FoxNews.

Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University (and minored in nightclubs and shopping!).

She now divides her time between New York and Los Angeles, where she lives in the Hollywood Hills with her husband and daughter.

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Prize: Win a copy of THE QUEEN'S ASSASSIN by Melissa de la Cruz (US Only)
Starts: 4th February 2020
Ends: 18th February 2020
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Storm from the East by Joanna Hathaway

Storm from the East (Glass Alliance #2)
Author: Joanna Hathaway
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: February 11th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, High Fantasy

Battles, revolution, and romance collide in Joanna Hathaway's stunning, World Wars-inspired sequel to Dark of the West

Part war drama, part romance, Storm from the East is the second novel in Joanna Hathaway’s immersive, upmarket YA fantasy series that will appeal to readers of Sabaa Tahir, Marie Rutkoski, and Evelyn Skye.

War has begun, and the days of Athan’s and Aurelia’s secret, summer romance feel a world away. Led by Athan’s father, the revolutionary Safire have launched a secret assault upon the last royal kingdom in the South, hoping to depose the king and seize a powerful foothold on the continent. Athan proves a star pilot among their ranks, struggling to justify the violence his family has unleashed as he fights his way to the capital—where, unbeknownst to him, Aurelia has lived since the war’s onset. Determined to save the kingdom Athan has been ordered to destroy, she partners with a local journalist to inflame anti-Safire sentiment, all while learning this conflict might be far darker and more complex than she ever imagined.

When the two reunite at last, Athan longing to shake the nightmare of combat and Aurelia reeling from the discovery of a long-buried family truth come to light, they’ll find the shadow of war stretches well beyond the battlefield. Each of them longs to rekindle the love they once shared . . . but each has a secret they’re desperate to hide.

Storm from the East takes the gut wrenching of Dark of the West and twist the knife a little deeper.

It’s amazing to me how in depth and extensive the world building, politics and war are in the book. I admit I sometimes get lost but always find my way back. It’s so incredibly impressive how well Joanna Hathaway has her world fleshed out. I mean how does she keep track of all this stuff, she has truly created a whole new world. As I’m reading, I forget sometimes that we are not living in this world because you become so very much immersed.

Aurelia kind of annoyed me in the beginning of the book.I felt like she went through so much in Dark of the West that I was surprised by her naivety. I think by the second half and she has really experienced war, then she starts to change. She finally sees that peace isn’t something you can just walk into a room and demand. Although I think she still has many layers that she hasn’t fully peeled back.

I love Athan. I loved him in the Dark of the West and I still love him Storm from the East. I really just want to take him somewhere and protect him. Don’t make him see more war! He’s really really in the thick of it this time around. Experiencing loss right in front of him instead of the idea of it.

I just want Aurelia and Athan to find some peace and that is just not in the cards. It’s so complicated for them to be in love. They are so accepting of who the other is though.

The Dakar brothers are complicated as well. Sometimes I think they hate one another and then they will have a moment. Like on the beach where they find some kind of common ground. Then they go back to being complicated. It’s an interesting family dynamic.

So I don’t know where we will go from here. Everything feels so complicated all the time but I really want to know how it turns out. Especially with an ending like the one in Storm from the East. Can there ever really be peace.

JOANNA HATHAWAY was born in MontrĂ©al and is an avid storyteller who was inspired to write after reading her great-grandfather’s memoirs of the First World War. A lifelong history buff, she now has shelves filled with biographies and historical accounts, and perhaps one too many books about pilots. She can often be found reading, traveling, or riding horses.

Her debut novel DARK OF THE WEST is the first in a World Wars-infused fantasy series of forbidden love and deadly revenge. STORM FROM THE EAST will hit shelves on February 11, 2020.

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Prize: Win (1) of (3) copies of STORM FROM THE EAST by Joanna Hathaway (US Only)
Starts: February 5th 2020
Ends: February 19th 2020
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Malice by Pintip Dunn

Author: Pintip Dunn
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Release Date: February 4th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

What I know: a boy in my class will one day wipe out two-thirds of the population with a virus.

What I don’t know: who he is.
In a race against the clock, I not only have to figure out his identity, but I'll have to outwit a voice from the future telling me to kill him. Because I'm starting to realize no one is telling the truth. But how can I play chess with someone who already knows the outcome of my every move? Someone so filled with malice they've lost all hope in humanity? Well, I'll just have to find a way—because now they've drawn a target on the only boy I've ever loved....

Malice is one crazy time jumping ride.

The plot is really unique and and really a cool concept. There are all these crazy different thread of stories and as we go hurtling towards the end. We find there are things happening all around that we are not even aware of. Get a group of kid Science geniuses together and they just might be able to destroy and save the world at the same time.

Alice is just living her life when she is suddenly invaded by a voice. One that has a very specific agenda for saving the future world. As Alice is forced into situations where she struggles with control with the voice, we find out different things about the characters around her.

I don’t want to give too much away about how time traveling works or even what exactly the voice wants Alice to do. The story is a bit of a mystery as Alice races to find the answers she needs before she makes a decision she can’t take back.

I loved Bandit. Her developing relationship with him is just so cute and so sweet. Most of the time anyway. They do hit some very big bumps in the road but you find you really want to root for them. Of course things don’t always get to go your way.

Malice was a fun read and I loved all the Sci-fineness of it. If you enjoy that little thriller aspect that comes with a high stakes sci-fi this is the perfect for you.

Pintip Dunn is a New York Times bestselling author of young adult fiction. She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B., and received her J.D. at Yale Law School.

Her novel FORGET TOMORROW won the 2016 RWA RITA® for Best First Book, and SEIZE TODAY won the 2018 RITA for Best Young Adult Romance. Her books have been translated into four languages, and they have been nominated for the following awards: the Grand Prix del'Imaginaire; the Japanese Sakura Medal; the MASL Truman Award; the TomeSociety It list; and the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award.


She lives with her husband and children in Maryland.

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Prize: Win (1) of (2) copies of MALICE by Pintip Dunn (US Only)
Starts: 4th February 2020
Ends: 18th February 2020
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Seven Deadly Shadows by Courtney Alameda & Valynne E. Maetani

Seven Deadly Shadows
by Courtney Alameda & Valynne E. Maetani
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: January 28th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal

Kira Fujikawa has always been a girl on the fringe. Bullied by her peers and ignored by her parents, the only place Kira’s ever felt at home is at her grandfather’s Shinto shrine, where she trains to be a priestess.

But Kira’s life is shattered on the night her family’s shrine is attacked by a vicious band of yokai demons. With the help of Shiro—the shrine’s gorgeous half-fox, half-boy kitsune—Kira discovers that her shrine harbors an ancient artifact of great power . . . one the yokai and their demon lord, Shuten-doji, will use to bring down an everlasting darkness upon the world.

Unable to face the Shuten-doji and his minions on her own, Kira enlists the aid of seven ruthless shinigami—or death gods—to help stop the brutal destruction of humankind. But some of the death gods aren’t everything they initially seemed, nor as loyal to Kira’s cause as they first appeared.

With war drawing nearer by the day, Kira realizes that if this unlikely band of heroes is going to survive, they’re going to have to learn to work together, confront their demons, and rise as one to face an army of unimaginable evil.

I loved Seven Deadly Shadows. It’s everything I could want in a standalone. Fast paced, action filled and of course Japanese culture.

I love Japanese mythology and this story combines some of my favorite components. Shrines and Kitsune demons. The story read like a manga/anime, even with them sometimes joking about it. The authors did a great job of really bringing it to life and when I read the authors note about how they traveled around Japan. You can really tell that from the story.

I loved Kira. She is a tough cookie and I love her dedication to her shrine and family legacy. Also how her relationship with her grandfather keeps her going when things are rough. She also does not give up, no matter how bad a situation looks.

I loved the story. I’m always a fan of a quest that brings an unlikely group of characters together. Plus it was very fast paced and I could not put it down. Something was always happening and never lingering too long one event or another. Even though there is romance, it didn’t take over the story. It stayed in the background for the most part and I really liked that this was Kira’s journey.

It was a great ending for a standalone. Leaving the possibility that there could be more books but there doesn’t need to be. There are some things that I want to know so if they are decided to do a companion novel I would love to see that. Maybe Kira’s little sister?

A veteran bookseller and librarian, Courtney Alameda now spends her days writing thriller and horror novels for young people. Her debut novel, SHUTTER, was nominated for a Bram Stoker award and hailed as a "standout in the genre" by School Library Journal. Her forthcoming novel, PITCH DARK (Spring 2017), is a genre-blending science fiction/horror novel in the vein of Ridley Scott's 1979 film ALIEN.

Courtney holds a B.A. in English literature with an emphasis in creative writing. She is represented by the talented John M. Cusick of Folio Literary. A Northern California native, she now resides in Utah with her husband, a legion of books, and a tiny five pound cat with a giant personality.

Valynne E. Maetani (pronounced Vuh-lin Mah-eh-tah-nee) grew up in Utah and obtained a Bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania. In a former life, she was a project manager and developed educational software for children with learning disabilities. Currently, she is a full-time writer. She is a member of the We Need Diverse Books team and is dedicated to promoting diversity in children's literature because every child should grow up believing his or her story deserves to be told. Her debut novel, Ink and Ashes, is the winner of the New Visions Award 2013, a Junior Library Guild 2015 selection, and Best Fiction Book in Salt Lake City Weekly’s Best of Utah Arts Award for 2015. She lives in Salt Lake City.

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Grand Prize: Win a signed copy of SEVEN DEADLY SHADOWS, a signed copy of Courtney Alameda's SHUTTER, and a signed copy of Valynne Maetani's INK AND ASHES; anime portraits of Kira and Shiro; a stuffed fox omamori charm from the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine in Japan; an origami fox hand-folded by Valynne Maetani; a yokai mini sticker sheet; and an assortment of Japanese Kit Kats (not pictured) [INT]
Second Prize: Win (1) of (2) A signed copy of SEVEN DEADLY SHADOWS with anime portraits of Kira and Shiro (INT)
Starts: 28th January 2020
Ends: 11th February 2020
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Below by Alexandria Warwick

Title: Below (North #1)
Author: Alexandria Warwick
Publisher: Wolf Publishing
Release Date: February 4th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

From the author of The Demon Race comes a YA dark fantasy series inspired by Inuit mythology.

In the heart of the frigid North, there lives a demon known as the Face Stealer. Eyes, nose, mouth—nothing and no one is safe. Once he returns to his lair, or wherever it is he dwells, no one ever sees those faces again.

When tragedy strikes, Apaay embarks on a perilous journey to find her sister's face—yet becomes trapped in a labyrinth ruled by a sinister girl named Yuki. The girl offers Apaay a deal: find her sister's face hidden within the labyrinth, and she will be set free. But the labyrinth, and those who inhabit it, is not as it seems. Especially Numiak: darkly beautiful, powerful, whose motives are not yet clear.

With time slipping, Apaay is determined to escape the deadly labyrinth with her sister's face in hand. But in Yuki's harsh world, Apaay will need all her strength to survive.

Yuki only plays the games she wins.

Below is an intense and dark read as Apaay fights for her life in a labyrinth prison while trying to find her sisters stolen face.

A cool thing is that the book is inspired by Inuit Mythology. Which is something I know hardly anything about but it encouraged me to look it up. Which is something I have always loved about books, since I was a kid. A book that isn’t just enjoyable but also encourages me to learn about something I might not know much about. I was also really interested in the fact that they chose names by Soul Names and how strong the community is in Apaay’s village.

The Face Stealer is a demon who steals innocent mortals faces. Leaving them blank. Throughout the book the Face Stealer is an evolving character. You never know what his exact intentions are and what is truly the arrangement between him and Yuki.

Apaay is an interesting character, she has this need to prove herself. She’s kind of this weird mash-up of being over confident and thinking she is not capable. She can be impulsive because of it.

I really liked Ila. She has so much empathy for someone who has spent so much time alone. Never once does she complain about her situation. It’s not until pushed that she unleashes and even then it’s in a sympathetic way to Apaay. She has a heart of gold.

Holy smokes. The abuse that Yuki afflicts on Apaay is horrible. Horrible. I don’t know how she kept coming out the other side of it. Yuki is an evil evil character. It’s amazing how Apaay keeps fight and keeps going. She has her moments though where she struggles, she’s only human.

I think the first half of the book the pacing is a little slower but as you cross into the second half of the book things start moving fast. It’s hard to put down. I was confused by a choice Apaay makes at the end but I can also get after thing she is dragged through. It’ll be interesting to see where the series goes.

Alexandria Warwick is the #1 fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender. She is the author of The Demon Race and the upcoming North series.

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Prize #1: Win (1) signed paperback copy of BELOW by Alexandria Warwick (US Only)
Prize #2: Win (1) e-copy of BELOW by Alexandria Warwick (INT)
Starts: 29th January 2020
Ends: 12th February 2020
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