Kingdom of Sea and Stone | Book Tour | Review

Hello and welcome to my stop. This stop includes a book review with favourite quotes.

You can check out the Tour Schedule here.

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BOOK INFO:

Title: Kingdom of Sea and Stone
Series: Crown of Coral and Pearl #2
Author: Mara Rutherford
Publisher:
Release Date: October 6th 2020
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Where can I get this? Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Indigo

Check out the synopsis below!

Ever since Nor was forced to go to a nearby kingdom in her sister’s place, she’s wanted nothing more than to return to the place and people she loves. But when her wish comes true, she soon finds herself cast out from both worlds, with a war on the horizon.
As an old enemy resurfaces more powerful than ever, Nor will have to keep the kingdom from falling apart with the help of Prince Talin and Nor’s twin sister, Zadie. There are forces within the world more mysterious than any of them ever guessed—and they’ll need to stay alive long enough to conquer them…

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Review

Rating: ★★★★☆
Recommended for: fans of YA Fantasy, sea settings,

Writing:
Like the first novel, Kingdom of Sea and Stone was a delight to read. I found the writing style straightforward and engaging. Rutherford describes scenes well without weighing the narrative down with too many descriptions. I liked how I could read both books in a single sitting.

Characters:
First and foremost, this novel is solely told in first POV of Nor and I appreciated Nor’s character growth depicted here. As we journey through the story we witness as she takes action and courage whilst remaining the same empathetic and kind-hearted she was in the first book. This book takes a shift and explores themes such as freedom, purpose, and love.

However, akin to the first book I found Nor’s internal struggle to take centre stage (romance in the first book and self-discovery in the second). I appreciate it when books explore a characters internal struggle, however, I found the increased focus on that aspect to downplay other aspects (such as the war, etc.) in the book thereby affecting the pacing. Despite it being slower paced, I appreciate how this book went into great length into Nor’s journey both physically and mentally.

Also, one major aspect I loved in the first book was the twin’s relationship. I adored their strong love for each other and I rejoiced to see them reunite here. Luckily, we get to witness more of Zadie and her interactions with Nor (as well as Zadie/Nor/Sami but the three best friend dynamic wasn’t as depicted as I would’ve liked it). I liked how

There were few recurring characters and some new faces. I quickly grew fond to a few of the new characters and liked how they spiced the story up. There were hidden agendas, unclear motivations, and unexpected twists and I was here for all of them.

Romance:
Whilst some may disagree with me, stating the romance was lacking in comparison to the predecessor, I preferred the romantic resolution presented in this novel. Perhaps I wasn’t as invested in the romance due to it being a little too convenient for me in the first book. However, I did get frustrated at some parts of the book where I feel that a simple straightforward conversation would’ve prevented certain situations but hey, I did enjoy the drama of it all so… 😂😂 Anyway, I can’t complain with how the romance ended (but mind you some may find it lacking).

Setting & World-Building:
I liked how this book explores further than Varenia and Ilara, journeying to a land named Galeth. Rutherford described the scenery well, incorporating little details of the land and culture throughout the story which helped grounded me into this fantastical world. Galeth was refreshingly different to Varenia in various ways (ruling, customs, expectations, etc.). I initially fell in love with how Rutherford depicted Varenia so exploring different lands was quite fun (though I missed the sea).

Overall, this was a pleasant conclusion to the highly anticipated sequel. There is a different shift in terms of pacing and themes compared to the previous book and I did enjoy the thoughtfulness and depth that went behind it all. Be prepared to meet new faces, see new places, and a fun ride!

Recommend for: fans of YA fantasy with political intrigue, character growth depicted in first POV

CW: violence, death


Some of my favourite quotes:

Please note: the quotes listed here are cited from an Advance Reading Copy (ARC) and may be subjected to change upon publication.

Father kissed my forehead. “My girl, take heart. No journey worth taking was ever easy.”

I loved this. I’m a sucker for a good parent/child dynamic and this interaction highlighted a tender moment between Nor and her father. Little do we know how much this quote really sets our story!

“Hope is like a kite. Hold on to it tight enough, and even the fiercest storm can’t claim it.”

A great nod to book one! I adored this!

“Because that was what it meant to be free: I could choose.”

“Ceren had said love was my weakness, once. But I knew now that love was the strength that would sustain me out there in the world, and it was the bond that would ensure I always came back.”

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MARA RUTHERFORD

Mara Rutherford began her writing career as a journalist but quickly discovered she far preferred fantasy to reality. Originally from California, Mara has since lived all over the world along with her Marine-turned-diplomat husband. A triplet born on Leap Day, Mara holds a Master’s degree in Cultural Studies from the University of London. When she’s not writing or chasing after her two sons, she can usually be found pushing the boundaries of her comfort zone, whether at a traditional Russian banya or an Incan archaeological site. She is the author of CROWN OF CORAL AND PEARL (2019), its sequel, KINGDOM OF SEA AND STONE (2020), and LUMINOUS (2021).

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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Okay, the fun bit… the giveaway!

Prize: Finished copy of Kingdom of Sea and Stone (US Only)

Check out the giveaway here and GOOD LUCK! 

Again, please feel free to follow the next tour stops. The Tour Schedule can be found here.

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The Faithless Hawk | Blog Tour | Author Interview

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Hello Everyone and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Faithless Hawk by Margaret Owen hosted by TBR and Beyond. This stop includes an exclusive Q&A with the author and I am so excited to share it with you.

You can check out the Tour Schedule here.

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The Faithless Hawk cover

BOOK INFO:

Title: The Faithless Hawk
Series: The Merciful Crow #2
Author: Margaret Owen
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Release Date: August 18th 2020
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Where can I get this? Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble |Indigo

Check out the synopsis below!

Kings become outcasts and lovers become foes in the thrilling sequel to Margaret Owen’s The Merciful Crow.
As the new chieftain of the Crows, Fie knows better than to expect a royal to keep his word. Still she’s hopeful that Prince Jasimir will fulfill his oath to protect her fellow Crows. But then black smoke fills the sky, signaling the death of King Surimir and the beginning of Queen Rhusana’s merciless bid for the throne.
With the witch queen using the deadly plague to unite the nation of Sabor against Crows—and add numbers to her monstrous army—Fie and her band are forced to go into hiding, leaving the country to be ravaged by the plague. However, they’re all running out of time before the Crows starve in exile and Sabor is lost forever.
A desperate Fie calls on old allies to help take Rhusana down from within her own walls. But inside the royal palace, the only difference between a conqueror and a thief is an army. To survive, Fie must unravel not only Rhusana’s plot, but ancient secrets of the Crows—secrets that could save her people, or set the world ablaze.

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Can you share with us something about The Faithless Hawk that isn’t in the blurb?

Margaret: There is a DRASTIC increase in the number of cats involved!

Without revealing too much, what was your favourite scene or moment to write in The Faithless Hawk, and why?

Margaret: I always enjoy writing the endings, the big final clashes and the dust settling. It’s when all the dominos you’ve set up get to fall, and the pattern you’ve been building finally reveals itself!

What song would you choose as the theme song for The Faithless Hawk?

Margaret: “The Bleeding of Mercy” by the Telepathic Teddy Bears! The first time I listened to it, I was really captivated by the mournful yet hopeful tone. In particular, the line, “Don’t mourn the setting sun, for it will rise again” struck me as particularly close to home for this book.

I adored your characters—especially how Fie is so unapologetic, unafraid, and full of grit and determination. How did you choose the names for your characters?

Margaret: Thank you so much! For Fie, I wanted her name to evoke a sense of both spite and mischief, and the word “fie” seemed perfect. I wound up compiling a list of old-timey insults for the other Crow names, according to their customs, and I tried to match them up with their personalities the best. The rest of the names I made up, though there’s a bit of a naming convention for the ruling families to adhere to, where the firstborn child’s name is based on the name of one of their parents. (For example, Jasimir’s mother was named Jasindra, and we learn Rhusana’s son is named Rhusomir.)

Looking back, what was the most difficult and what was the most enjoyable part of the whole process of writing and publishing your books?

Margaret: There was a period of time last year when I felt like if I wasn’t making everyone happy, I was failing. That meant if people didn’t like my book, or if I wasn’t able to deliver things on time, or if I wasn’t able to provide cool incentives to preorder my book, I was going to fail as an author, and my career would be over. Needless to say, I was struggling quite a bit to write at that point. There’s a phrase I wound up writing on masking tape and pasting on my desk, which is “The only way out is through,” which was true but a little bleak, so underneath I added, “but you can make it.” And I did!

I’d say the most enjoyable part has been seeing how The Merciful Crow and The Faithless Hawk have touched people, especially when it inspires them to create something themselves. When people reach out to me to say “I loved this part!” or “those monsters were so gross!” or “I HATE this character so much!”, it’s a similar feeling as when your friend texts you as they watch a movie you really love, and they’re super into it. But it’s even better, because I made that movie! (Kind of.)

The Merciful Crow was such an intense and enthralling read. What can fans expect from you in the future? Can you tell us about any future projects?

Margaret: Thank you so much! The Faithless Hawk wraps up the duology, so there aren’t any plans for more books in that universe at the moment, but I never say never. However, I do have a third book due out, likely sometime next year. It’s a loose retelling of The Goose Girl, from the perspective of the fairytale’s villain, a wicked maidservant who stole the princess heroine’s identity. When we meet our narrator, she’s spent the last year or so using the princess’s identity to make it into high society parties and pull off a string of jewelry heists. Then she steals from the wrong family, crosses a local deity, and winds up cursed to turn into jewels herself… unless she can make up for everything she’s taken. It’s a lot of weird magic, scammers scamming scammers, and unorthodox uses of breakfast foods, so all in all a good time! Well, for everyone but our narrator.

Quick-fire questions:

There’s a zombie apocalypse! Which four YA protagonists would be on your team and why?

  1. Katniss from The Hunger Games, she’s got all the outdoor survival knowledge of a Girl Scout on steroids, plus she’s killed before and will kill again.
  2. Jane McKeene from Dread Nation, she is literally trained to kill zombies.
  3. Amaya from Scavenge the Stars, because she can sail a boat, and honestly zombies are less of a problem at sea, I feel.
  4. Nina Zenik, so someone can help me hold down the waffle situation. (And heal the wounded, and possibly control the zombies? But waffles first.)

What would be your supervillain name and powers?

Margaret: Margaret Owen, and making people cry, probably.

Okay, okay, it would probably be something like Her Majesty, because I would 100% be down to do a hivemind-type situation and make people do things like recycle and wear masks and, if we can rope Bezos into this, donate their massive amounts of money to charity.

And finally, whilst there is an endless amount of writing resources online, if you could share one unique piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Margaret: I would say a lot of the time you hear “eyes on your own paper”, and to a certain extent, that’s solid advice—everyone’s publishing journey is different, and you really can only control your own work. That said, I would say don’t be afraid to look around the room, actually. Don’t be afraid to compare notes with people you trust. I can guarantee that the discrepancies revealed by #PublishingPaidMe are neither the first nor the last, and that opacity is not for your benefit, but for that of the publishing industry. The only way that changes is by making informed decisions, so don’t be afraid to seek out that information yourself.

A huge thank you to Margaret for your time!

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Margaret Owen

Born and raised at the end of the Oregon Trail, Margaret Owen first encountered an author in the wild in fourth grade. Roughly twenty seconds later, she decided she too would be an author, the first of many well-thought-out life decisions.

The career plan shifted frequently as Margaret spent her childhood haunting the halls of Powell’s Books. After earning her degree in Japanese, her love of espresso called her north to Seattle, where she worked in everything from thrift stores to presidential campaigns. The common thread between every job can be summed up as: lessons were learned.

Fortunately, it turned out that fourth-grade Margaret was onto something. She now spends her days wrestling disgruntled characters onto the page, and negotiating a long-term hostage situation with her two monstrous cats. (There is surprisingly little difference between the two.) In her free time, she enjoys exploring ill-advised travel destinations, and raising money for social justice nonprofits through her illustrations.

MARGARET OWEN

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

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Okay, the fun bit… the giveaway!

Prize: Finished copies of The Merciful Crow and The Faithless Hawk (US and Canada Only)

Start date: August 23rd, 2020

End date: August 29th, 2020

Check out the giveaway here and GOOD LUCK! 

Again, please feel free to follow the next tour stops. The Tour Schedule can be found here.

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