Tag Archive | royalty

Magic & music together are forbidden – should SOFI AND THE BONE SONG change that? by Adrienne Tooley (YA book review)

book cover of Sofi and the Bone Song, by Adrienne Tooley. Published by  Margaret K. McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Winter won’t go away,
talent isn’t always rewarded,
what else will Sofi endure? (don’t ask…)

After years of obsessive practicing, long-motherless 16 year old Sofi’s perfect performance is upstaged by an untutored young woman who didn’t even bring a lute to the Guild audition, yet wins apprenticeship to the ruling lute Musik, Sofi’s own father.

Lara didn’t use a Paper to perform, or all would have seen the spell inked into her skin – music is the only craft forbidden to use the Paper spells sold by the king.

When Sofi’s father suddenly dies, Lara must immediately qualify to be the lute Musik by traveling through the country and performing specific complex songs in certain towns – songs that Sofi knows and Lara doesn’t.

Away the two young women go with the Musik’s lute made of bones, through their ever-winter land, knowing that some Musiks of the Guild want Lara to succeed, but if she fails, perhaps Sofi has a chance at her life’s dream.

Why did the seasons stop changing when they were babies?
Is Lara using illegal magic to learn this complicated music so fast?
Will the malfunctioning Papers sold to neighboring kingdoms lead to war?

Rivalry becomes companionship and so much more, as Lara and Sofi begin to truly understand the magic of their musical gifts and their growing bond with one another.

What instrument would you play if magically given the skill?
**kmm

Book info: Sofi and the Bone Song / Adrienne Tooley. Margaret K. McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Look again – THAT WAY MADNESS LIES: 15 OF SHAKESPEARE’S MOST NOTABLE WORKS REIMAGINED, ed. by Dahlia Adler (YA book review)

book cover of That Way Madness Lies: 15 of Shakespeare's Most Notable Works Reimagined / Dahlia Adler, ed.
Published by Flatiron Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Ah, the Bard!
His classic plays.
retold and retold – now with a twist!

A brooding bad boy becomes obsessed with a young ballerina from a rival high school – Romeo and Juliet, told completely in text messages.

Finally! Among the everlasting whiteness of the Fairy Court, the brown girl stolen from the mundane world as a baby sees another indigenous person in a gender-queer Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Not madness but anger drives Anne to unmask the vampire who killed her father, allowing her uncle to marry Mother for control of Elsinore in 1892 – the journals and letters of an educated young woman rewind the Hamlet narrative.

This anthology includes reimaginings by YA writers (famous and rising)

Dahlia Adler (The Merchant of Venice),
Kayla Ancrum (The Taming of the Shrew),
Lily Anderson (As You Like It),
Patrice Caldwell (Hamlet),
Melissa Bashardoust (A Winter’s Tale),
A.R. Capetta and Cory McCarthy (Much Ado About Nothing),
Brittany Cavallaro (Sonnet 147),
Joy McCullough (King Lear),
Anna-Marie McLemore (A Midsummer Night’s Dream),
Samantha Mabry (Macbeth),
Tochi Onyebuchi (Coriolanus),
Mark Oshiro (Twelfth Night),
Lindsay Smith (Julius Caesar),
Kiersten White (Romeo and Juliet),
Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka (The Tempest)

Each story is introduced by a quote from Shakespeare’s work, and often followed by author’s notes.

Shakespeare wrote in the everyday words of his time; these reimagined works bring his works into our time with clever twists and setting changes (outer space, a school dance, a rooftop greenhouse).

What’s your favorite quotation from the Bard?
**kmm

Book info: That Way Madness Lies: 15 of Shakespeare’s Most Notable Works Reimagined / Dahlia Adler, ed.
Flatiron Books, hardcover 2021, paperback 2022. [editor site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the author.

See them in new ways – STRAW INTO GOLD: FAIRY TALES RE-SPUN, by Hilary McKay (MG book review)

book cover of Straw Into Gold: Fairy Tales Re-Spun, by Hilary McKay, illustrated by Sarah Gibb. Published by  Margaret K. McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Never insult fairy godmothers,
kindness makes the path easier,
curses can flip to blessings…

The fairy tales that we’ve heard over and over can be retold, modernized, role-switched, or set in other lands, yet we recognize their core stories every time.

This collection of “Fairy Tales Re-Spun” charmingly presents a double-handful of familiar tales using non-classic viewpoints, like the new teacher whose writing assignment at a backwoods school results in “What I Did in the Holidays and Why Hansel’s Jacket is So Tight (by Gretel, age 10)” – truth or fiction?

Cinderella finds a friend in Buttons and helps him shine boots for the prince who’s turned away from royal society to tend “The Roses Around the Palace.”

A stuffy bureaucrat is more concerned about keeping his town tidy (and his coffers full) than paying the agreed price to that motley-looking Piper for luring away all those horrid rats… so very quiet now at “The Fountain in the Market Square.”

Enjoy these ten fairy tale retellings, including lesser-known stories “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” and “The Swan Brothers” (also the basis for A Rush of Wings, by Laura E. Weymouth that I recently recommended here).

Which fairy tale is your favorite?
**kmm

Book info: Straw Into Gold: Fairy Tales Re-Spun / Hilary McKay, illustrated by Sarah Gibb. Margaret K. McElderry Books, hardcover 2019, paperback 2020. [author site] [illustrator bio] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Their quest is complete! SO THIS IS EVER AFTER – now what? by F. T. Lukens (YA book review)

book cover of So This Is Ever After, by F. T. Lukens. Published by Margaret McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Behead the evil king!
Fulfill the prophecy!
And then…

We all know the quest narrative: a hero answers the Call, they gather companions – mage, knight, healer, bard, rogue – and we follow their Quest journey.

This time, we join the story just as Arek and his teenage companions arrive at the castle, where the 17 year old beheads the Vile One with a magic sword to fulfill the prophecy (rather messily).

Well, the old wizard didn’t say there would be trumpets or lightning when the quest was done, so rogue Lila is sure it’s time to grab some loot and leave.

But the knight Rion reads out the prophecy again – whoever cuts off the Vile One’s head must rule, so Arek grabs the blood-smeared crown and declares himself king (temporarily, as they search for the imprisoned true heir) .

When there’s no living heir to be found, it’s up to Arek and friends to actually manage their kingdom after 40 years of terror – with the help of castle steward Harlow (who really knows how things are supposed to work).

Arek’s lifelong friend, Matt the mage, sets wards to protect them, and Bethany the bard magically sings out invitations welcoming all to the castle.

So many details! Liaisons to rebuild with neighboring kingdoms, a company of knights to assemble, and this little matter of Arek finding his soulmate in the next three months… but only if he wants to stay alive.

Maybe their healer Sionna? (after she stops blushing as castle worker Meredith teaches her to dance)
Perhaps one of the many noble folk invited to the first ball at the castle?
Why, oh, why can’t it be Matt?!

Tick tock, the days count down to Arek’s 18th birthday…

By the author of swoony magical In Deeper Waters , recommended here.

Who would you select for your quest crew?
**kmm

Book info: So This Is Ever After / F. T. Lukens. Margaret McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

W is for weaving & crafting with NETTLE & BONE she must master to stop great evil, by T. Kingfisher (book review) #A2Z

book cover of Nettle & Bone, by T. Kingfisher. Published by Tor | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A kingdom threatened,
no prince as heir,
daughters as pawns… or not.

Third daughter of a king with no sons, 15-year-old Marra is hidden away at a convent, remaining within its walls for years and years, as her older sisters are married in political alliances to save their tiny kingdom.

The weaving and healing skills she learns there will serve her well as now-grown Marra flees the security of Our Lady of Grackles, seeking ways to save her sister from the brutal prince of the Northern Kingdom.

She travels far and then farther to find the powerful dust-wife who communes with the dead and has the magic she needs. The spell requires Marra to make a cloak from nettles and cursed wool, to fashion a dog from bones, and bring moonlight in a jar – three impossible tasks (and she does them).

Away they go to kill the prince – Marra and Bone Dog, the dust-wife and her demon-possessed hen, through enchanted marketplaces and haunted lands, releasing from ensorcelment a man who unwisely slept in a fairy fort.

Secrets of the Northern Kingdom lie deeply buried in the crypts beneath its palace – danger and doom.

Its king lost in madness, the terrible prince rules with an iron fist and paranoia.

How to infiltrate the crypts? How to steer all blame from Marra’s sister? How to escape with their own lives?

A princess exists solely for the kingdom’s benefit, but not Marra…

Just published yesterday (4/26/22) – read the first two chapters on the publisher’s website here, free!

What non-traditional princess story is your favorite?
**kmm

Book info: Nettle & Bone / T. Kingfisher. Tor, 2022. [author info] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Only THE MIDNIGHT UNICORN can save their kingdom! by Alice Hemming (MG book review)

book cover of The Midnight Unicorn, by Alice Hemming. Published in USA by Kane Miller/ EDC | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A kingdom at peace,
protected by the Midnight Unicorn.
Now danger approaches!

Enchanted raven Corvus relays a message to the Queen as her newborn twin daughters sleep nearby – her evil brother has escaped his banishment and is bringing an army to Essendor!

Away from the castle they flee – one baby with court wizard Maneo to the west, the other with their Nanny to the east, the queen and king to the south.

Thirteen years later, Alette and her sorcerer father leave their chilly, isolated home and begin searching for the sister she never knew about. How could he keep this secret so long?

In her mind, Audrey has told Shadow for years how she longs to escape the small dusty town where she works in her mother’s bakery. She’s shocked when Shadow sends a visual message in return one night – she is coming to Audrey!

Finally together, the twin sisters feel whole, just like their necklaces join to make a picture of a unicorn. Evil King Zelos told the kingdoms that the princesses died when the castle was taken, but they are alive – and they have more right to the throne than he does!

When will Audrey be able to transform into a unicorn as Alette can?
Who can they trust with their secrets?
Can they reach the city without alerting the king?

Danger and secrets are everywhere, even in a drowsy apple orchard, as Maneo accompanies the sisters on their quest.

First in the Dark Unicorns series, followed by The Darkest Unicorn (information here).

Can you envision a unicorn in your neighborhood?
**kmm

Book info: The Midnight Unicorn (Dark Unicorns, book 1) / Alice Hemming. Kane Miller/ EDC, 2022 (US), 2019 (UK). [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

IN DEEPER WATERS, treachery & secrets! #YALit by F. T. Lukens (book review)

book cover of In Deeper Waters, by F. T. Lukens.Published by Margaret McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Alliances fray,
Loyalty must be earned,
Magic is always evil… or is it?

Prince Tal’s celebratory 16th birthday journey through the realm finally takes him away from the palace where he’s been hidden since his fire magic manifested – the same dread magic as his great-grandfather who wielded it to trying to conquer kingdoms that Harth is still paying reparations to.

But before the first port of call, the youngest royal son rescues a prisoner from a burning ship, sees the handsome young man lost overboard in rough seas, and discovers him days later in the port town! How?

Tal is drawn to Athlen who can sense the prince’s magic and has his own secrets – so that’s why he didn’t drown at sea! How right it feels when they’re together… each the last one with their special powers.

When attackers try to make the prince’s magic flare out in public, the young men flee and are kidnapped by pirates! Every hour away from the shore weakens Athlen, but they absolutely must reach the Queen before Tal’s sister weds the prince of Ossetia!

Who wants to destroy the Queen’s peace treaties?
What keeps Athlen tied to the sea?
Can they escape the pirates and stay together?

Secrets upon secrets in this fast-paced adventure / love story! Read an excerpt here for free.

How far would you travel to help someone you love?
**kmm

Book Info: In Deeper Waters / F. T. Lukens. Margaret McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Historical tales with Chinese roots – read with your ears this week! (audiobooks)

Time to download this week’s free audiobooks from SYNC so you can read with your ears!

Remember that although these complete audiobooks are only available from Thursday through Wednesday, you have free use of them on your device as long as you keep them on Sora shelf – more info here.

CD cover of audiobook Descendant of the Crane, by Joan He. Read by Nancy Wu, published by Dreamscape | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Descendant of the Crane (download free – May 13-19, 2021)
by Joan He | Read by Nancy Wu
Published by Dreamscape

Suddenly ascending to the throne when her father dies, Princess Hesina’s search for his murderer puts the young woman in contact with her soon-to-be subjects outside the palace walls.

Is the soothsayer’s forbidden magic telling the truth? Will the secrets of investigator Akira endanger them both?

CD cover of audiobook Monkey, by Wu Ch'eng-en, translated by Arthur Waley. Read by Kenneth Williams | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Monkey (download free May 13-19, 2021)
by Wu Ch’êng-ên, Arthur Waley [Trans.] | Read by Kenneth Williams
Published by Naxos Audiobooks

This 16th century Chinese classic includes demons, gods, and spirits who stand in the way of a priest traveling West to acquire sacred Buddhist texts for his emperor.

Su Wukong, the Monkey King himself, accompanies the priest on his long journey in this abridged version translated into English in 1942 and recently recorded.

What tales reflecting China are your favorites?
**kmm

Feathers, wizard, corn fritters – HOW TO SAVE A QUEENDOM gets complicated! by Jessica Lawson (MG book review)

book cover of How to Save a Queendom, by Jessica Lawson. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Mistreated at the inn, 12 year old Stub has years of apprenticeship ahead, until she finds a wizard in her apron pocket – tiny, unhappy, and magically bound to stay near her!

A plot to disrupt 100 years of peace? A journey across the entire queendom to the capital city? Only a week to get there!?

If the orphan girl can just get the maps hidden by Beaman’s mother, she and pet chicken Peck can escape the constant bullying…

If Beaman can brave the trip, he could cook his specialties for young Queen Sonora herself…

If wizard Orlan can guide them through perils while his magic is diminished, maybe they can stay alive long enough to save Sonora and the queendom!

Magical beasts, treacherous terrain, running low on spices – life in their coastal town hasn’t prepared Stub or Beaman for travel’s hazards, but they must get to Maradon Cross in time.

Can they stop the evil regent from shattering the Peace?
Will they get to meet Queen Sonora on her 13th birthday?
Is Orlan telling them everything about this mission?

Quick thinking, spells and transformations, a century of secrets – find out How to Save a Queendom at your local library or independent bookstore today!

How have your best friends helped you through difficult times?
**kmm

Book Info: How to Save a Queendom/ Jessica Lawson. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

S is princess Sophie POISONED by her stepmother, saved by 7 small men, by Jennifer Donnelly (YA book review)

book cover of Poisoned, by Jennifer Donnelly. Published by Scholastic | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Tomorrow is her 17th birthday –
old enough to inherit her father’s kingdom,
but her evil stepmother has other ideas…

Outwardly, Sophie is haughty and brave, as any princess of Konigsburg must be, but she has a merciful heart like the late much-beloved king and shows mercy to scared hunting dog Zara.

The queen’s mirror whispers secrets and plots – Sophie must have a strong husband to help her rule, but if the princess were attacked by Darkwood beasts, then no need to risk alliance with another country…

The Huntsman brings back only Sophie’s heart from their ride through the Darkwood, but her body is saved by seven short men who heal her with kindness and a clockwork heart.

Rumors of the queen’s war declarations reach even into the woods, and Sophie knows she must get to the prince who courted her so they can stop her land from becoming a bloody battlefield.

As they travel the backroads, Sophie, Zara, and clever young man Will hear how her people have been taxed to death for the Queen’s luxuries and spied on by her Crows.

Can Sophie save the kingdom before her heart winds down?
Will the Queen’s guard find them first?
Who is speaking through the mirror?

This retelling of classic fairy tale Snow White asks readers to reclaim the power of their inner voice.

What future are you running toward?
**kmm

Book info: Poisoned / Jennifer Donnelly. Scholastic Press, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.