ARC Review & Giveaway: Rise of the Sea Witch by Stacey Rourke


 
syn 
Details of the sea witch’s banishment have been exaggerated. The body count that preempted it was not. Once an illustrious princess, her hands and tentacles were stained with the blood of thousands. No one could comprehend how the hooks of madness dragged her down from her life of privilege. 
 
Born Princess Vanessa of Atlantica, the ambitious young royal was one of two children born to the great King Poseidon. She and her brother, Triton, were groomed from birth to rule. Yet only one would ascend that coveted throne. While carefree Triton flits through his training with a cavalier demeanor and beguiling charm, Vanessa’s hunger for her father’s acceptance drives her to push herself to the limits of magic, and combat to become a leader worthy of her people. 
 
When war against the humans ravages their once regal kingdom, political sides are chosen. Factions from the seven seas challenge the existing leadership, pitting Vanessa against her brother in a vicious battle for the crown. Traitors are exposed, dark family secrets revealed, and a once strong sibling bond is strained to its breaking point.
 
Only when the ink black waters from the ultimate betrayal rescind, will the truth be known of how the villainous sea witch rose with one name on her vengeful lips–Triton.
 teaser
review
I’ve always been a fan of Stacey Rourke’s retellings. They’re usually far more dark and sinister, closer to Grimm than Disney and I adore that kind of twisted carnage. This is a YA retelling of how Ursula, like from The Little Mermaid, came into existence. It explores what it takes to make an innocent and caring person turn dark, how much betrayal and anguish a person (mermaid) can take before they crack, and whether love can truly heal all wounds.
Here’s what I loved: 
  • Princess Vanessa is a victim and it is so not her fault. All she has ever done is try to be a perfect daughter to the point of stifling who she is. She’s young, idealistic, and so hopeful. She has a pure and beautiful heart, she truly cares, she’s funny, her sarcasm is on point. She’s pretty awesome. And then she gets better. She is forced to make choices that transform her from the inside out. She must embrace her magic and she does not always make the best decisions, in fact, sometimes they’re downright cruel and propelled by anger. BUT that’s what makes her more real; she’s flawed and hurt and sometimes broken but never, ever defeated and there’s power in that.
  • The world building is amazing. Each ruler of the Seven Seas is unique and they all have tons of personality. There are whole cultures and ideals in tiny details that fit so well together. You can totally picture little under water countries. 
  • Vanessa’s relationship with Triton. She adores him. Even though he’s like a little free-spirited hippie who would rather frolic around than be responsible, how could you not love those golden curls? Their relationship is a complex one. But it’s adorable. And then crash and burn. You’ll think about how the children you met in the very beginning of the book transformed into these two strangers. It’s heartbreaking.
  • Plot twists. There are a ton and they’re truly shocking. You don’t expect them. But when they’re revealed you’ll definitely think, ahhhh, it all makes sense now. 
  • I love love love Vanessa and Alastor. Epitome of slow burn. The way he cares for her. It’s so sweet, omg. 
Here’s what I disliked: 
  • The structure. I don’t know if it’s because of my ARC or if this is in the finalized version, but the blending of past with present, the sort of omnipotent voice that runs through in Italics and then the time jumps. There are big gaps in time that range from 2 months to several years. Which is fine, but when coupled with the italics it’s a little confusing and took me time to readjust. Initially the whole prologue was iffy. You assume who it’s about and what’s going on from prior knowledge but it reads as a stream of consciousness merging of random thoughts that kind of feel out of place sometimes. The organization-style choice- wasn’t my favorite. 
  • Some plot points ended abruptly. There’s this whole build up on animosity between Vanessa and another character and then boom, over. I guess, I just wished there was more…hands on retribution. 
giveaway
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author
RONE Award Winner for Best YA Paranormal Work of 2012 for Embrace, a Gryphon Series Novel
Young Adult and Teen Reader voted Author of the Year 2012
Turning Pages Magazine Winner for Best YA book of 2013 & Best Teen Book of 2013 
Readers’ Favorite Silver Medal Winner for Crane 2015

Stacey Rourke is the author of the award winning YA Gryphon Series, the chillingly Legends Saga, and the romantic comedy Reel Romance Series. She currently hard at work on the Unfortunate Soul Chronicles, and additional literary projects. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two beautiful daughters, and two giant dogs. She loves to travel, has an unhealthy shoe addiction, and considers herself blessed to make a career out of talking to the imaginary people that live in her head.

 

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Pleasant reading, 
Jordan

Promo: Twice Upon A Time by Hope Irving

Once upon a time, I was Morgann, a 9th century Irish calligrapher-monk.

Deirdre was my assignment, my forbidden love, a witch with whom I wrote a coveted book.

Unfortunately, our story didn’t get a chance to become a fairy tale, it turned out as a famous urban legend referred as The Black Angel Book. 

In order to protect the book from getting in to the wrong hands, Deirdre cast a spell. One where I remember and she forgets. Under her spell, our souls travel from body to body until we find each other again. Eventually.

My quest is to find Deirdre, in whatever body her soul inhabits and trigger her memory. Only, the woman I find 1200 years later is not what I was expecting. 

Rose is not my type but my soul yearns for her. Every sign tells me that she is my Deirdre. How do I convince this broken, quiet and unbelieving woman that she is my twice upon a time?

teaser

 
Excerpt
Centuries ago I was Morgann. Albeit I am neither immortal nor a supernatural creature of any kind, I am now an urban legend. For I am something else.
 
I am a soul that gained awareness of its existence; a wandering soul inhabiting various bodies throughout their mortal life.
 
A soul longing to be reunited with its soulmate.
 
Like the fairytale, you know, “Once upon a time…” And the rest of the story unfolds, sometimes with torments, but always with a happy ending. Only that is not how it turned out for us.
 
So maybe we should try another story line that would end better this time. Let’s say, “Twice upon a time,” maybe?
 
Anyway. This is what I am.
 
Centuries later, this soul eventually ended up in my body. Now I feel I can speak on Morgann’s behalf, for I’m him and he’s me. We’re one.
 
Fearless and hopeful, when Morgann’s body died, his soul began its journey. His body was no longer of use but his soul had lived on, intact, searching for her frantically. Her? Well, that would be Deirdre, a powerful medicine woman accused of being a witch.
 
Some witnessed my encounter with Deirdre and what followed, back when I was still Morgann. I, Morgann, a monk working on the now infamous Book of Kells. Witch or medicine woman, I couldn’t care less because right from the start I had that gut feeling she was the one for me, even as I had simply stared at the river of shiny black hair falling down to her back. It was meant to be.
 
Kismet.
 
Yes, we were undeniably soulmates. Twist of fate? I have no idea but that was how connected our souls were and still are, somehow.  What was Deirdre doing there that day in the monastery? I didn’t dare ask. After that, I was already too involved to search for more explanation. My fate was sealed and so was hers. When we were introduced, we grasped at once that we were made for one another as long as we lived. Too bad we hadn’t foreseen our time together would be shortened by greedy people. Hopefully she was resourceful and found a way to escape our fate.
 
Let me tell you about us.
 
What did we do wrong?
 
Well, when you’re a monk, there is no such thing as falling in love and breaking the vows of celibacy but I did. When you’re a medicine woman, there is no such thing as engaging in a passionate relationship with a man, and not just any man but a monk.
 
So the medicine woman was accused of being a witch for her medicine involved plants, charms and casting spells as well. Truth be told, she was a witch. There was no doubt about it.
 
Morgann was born in Ireland in the 8th century. When exactly? Not sure. Nobody was good at keeping track around that time. For some reason, though, centuries later I had a dream about the encounter that changed everything; it happened in the year 813.
 
Shameless, Deirdre and I broke all the rules. Deirdre had been paid to write what she knew about strong medicine and spells. I was one of the chosen script monks who wrote the book in calligraphy with her, for years.
 
That meaningful book didn’t belong to us. It was theirs. So meaningful they ended up referring to it as poisonous when I’d rather call it visionary. Who were they? The sleeping partners; narrow-minded judgmental people who started to get scared of her. Of us. They needed to destroy us. Deirdre didn’t realize their attempt until it was almost too late.
 
But we had to stop them once we had apprehended their genuine intentions. Their goal was plain and simple, yet we were too blinded by our love to see it right from the start. They were seeking eternal life. But it didn’t work that way. None of them ever figured out how to cast the right spell at the right time on the chosen person.
 
When it got out of hand, people’s imagination was already at work. At once, word-of-mouth spread the tale that soon became legendary. Why? Well…who could believe in our true fate? A soul that lived on until reunited with its soulmate, come on!
 

Soon enough, our legend started. Our peculiar story and the supposedly poisonous book were referred to as the Black Angel Book.
 author

Hope Irving is the proud mother of a lovely and witty young lady, and the lucky wife of a loving and supportive husband. She’s a debut indie author who lived in Paris, France, most of her life and also in the US, where she graduated with a master degree.

She loves Nutella and Camembert cheese (not together), carrot cake and cinnamon Altoids. 


Her favorite fictional characters are Eric Northman (Sookie Stackhouse series, Charlaine Harris) and Sean Bateman (The Rules of Attraction, Bret Easton Ellis). 

Magical reading,
Jordan