Genre: Fantasy


Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Vaguely Narnia Vibes + Unicorns: The Unicorn Quest by Kamilla Benko

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Vaguely Narnia Vibes + Unicorns: The Unicorn Quest by Kamilla Benko
The Unicorn Quest
Kamilla Benko
Series: The Unicorn Quest #1
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, YA
Publication date: February 6th, 2018
by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

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Claire Martinson still worries about her older sister Sophie, who battled a mysterious illness last year. But things are back to normal as they move into Windermere Manor... until the sisters climb a strange ladder in a fireplace and enter the magical land of Arden.

There, they find a world in turmoil. The four guilds of magic no longer trust each other. The beloved unicorns have gone, and terrible wraiths roam freely. Scared, the girls return home. But when Sophie vanishes, it will take all of Claire's courage to climb back up the ladder, find her sister, and uncover the unicorns' greatest secret.
-A copy was provided by Bloomsbury USA Childrens for review-

I love middle grade novels and I love discovering new ones. As far as I can see, The Unicorn Quest is shaping up to be a major middle grade release this year and it synopsis sounded up right up my alley. The vaguely Narnia vibes along with unicorns sounded like it would be an enthralling read.

Here is what I can tell you. The Unicorn Quest is an adventure of the best kind. We get sucked into a new world from the get-go and like the MC, we kind of have to assimilate to the new world we find ourselves in. This is great because we experience the world alongside the MC which allows us to form a special bond with her but it also means that it takes longer to get used to the world. I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing in general but it did impact my reading experience a little bit.

But, right from the get-go we know not everything is what it seems and that tension builds. I am not entirely sure what I expected when I dove into the book but I came out feeling thoroughly satisfied with the adventure we were taken on.

Wow. So like, I realize everything I’ve said thus far is SUPER vague but I don’t really know how to use words to convey what The Unicorn Quest is like. I know, I say that every time and maybe I am just making excuses because that’s who I am, okay?

Not to sound like a cheese machine but The Unicorn Quest is partly about sisterly love. Claire Martinson almost lost her sister once and will go to unimaginable lengths to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Every part of the quest Claire goes on is tinted with this fear of losing her sister and the trauma of almost having lost her in the first place.

Luckily, Claire doesn’t have to go on an adventure by herself, she gets to have friends. Some human-like and some not. It’s great. And everyone knows going on an adventure on your lonesome is no fun. A crowd is always better.

Plus, Arden really is a well crafted world and I loved exploring its landscapes and discovering its secrets with our fab trio. Clearly though, this is just the beginning and the book is building up to something much greater. I cannot wait to see where the sequel(s?) will take us and learn even more about the backstory of this world.

Overall, The Unicorn Quest is a fun, delightful read if not a particularly distinct one? The kids will devour it and if you’re an adult who reads middle grade, you’ll probably devour it too. It’s hard not to immediately get grabby hands about books with secret worlds discovered in closets, or in this case, chimneys.

3.5 Stars
3.5 Hot Espressos

Dark & Rich: Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

Dark & Rich: Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

Posted by on 11/08/2017 • 11 Comments

I think there is this general conception that for a fantasy novel to be truly good, it needs to have about a 1,000,000 pages and at 304 pages, Beasts Made of Night is not a particularly long book. Do not and I repeat do NOT let that fool you. Tochi Onyebuchi packs a fucking punch in those 304 pages. World building? You got it. Adventure? You got it. A mother-fucking rebellion? YOU GOT IT. Beasts Made of Night isn’t just a great novel for fantasy readers but also for people too vary of the genre because of its reputation for long-winded novels that take lifetimes to get through.

Onyebuchi has a background in screenwriting and honestly, the high stakes and the quick pace of the novel really reflect this. For some people,…

What Julie Dao Learned While Writing Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

What Julie Dao Learned While Writing Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

Posted by on 10/27/2017 • 2 Comments

Hey everyone! Welcome to Xpresso Reads’ tour stop for FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS. If you’re a fan of complex heroes & anti-heroes, this book should 110% be on your TBR. Today, we have Julie Dao on the blog talking about what she learned while writing FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS.

What Julie Dao Learned While Writing Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS is about a villain’s rise to power – or at least, Xifeng would be considered a villain in any other book where she wasn’t the star. Here, she is a dark and ambitious antiheroine who will let nothing stand in her way on the path to the throne!

As a result, the most common question I get is: was it hard writing such…

Jane, Unlimited by Kristen Cashore: 10 Awesome Umbrellas

Jane, Unlimited by Kristen Cashore: 10 Awesome Umbrellas

Posted by on 10/03/2017 • 5 Comments

Welcome to Xpresso Reads’ tour stop for Jane, Unlimited! In Jane, Unlimited, the MC is obsessed with making umbrellas and so I was inspired to do a post dedicated to some of the super cute umbrellas out there.

10 Awesome Umbrellas You Will Want to Own

1.

This cute one from Kate Spade. Those eyes are throwin all the shade at the rain for you.

2. 

I found this one for all your subtle rainbow needs. Also, can you imagine twirling that in the rain??? It seems like so much fun.

3. 

This one will let you embrace your inner Wednesday Addams and I think that’s fucking important.

4. 

I would highly suggest not looking at the prize tag on this one because there is a chance it’ll give you a heart attack. BUT….

Not the Persuasion Retelling My Heart Desires: The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel

Not the Persuasion Retelling My Heart Desires: The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel

Posted by on 08/24/2017 • 1 Comment

I’ve always regarded Persuasion as my favorite Jane Austen novel so when I heard about The One That Got Away, I was immediately intrigued. There is something about the angst of a second chance romance that always draws me in and I love seeing the various takes on the classic novel. I dove into The One That Got Away expecting to enjoy it and I am not sure I did? I am also not sure I didn’t.

Retellings don’t have to follow the original storyline word for word but in my opinion a good retelling is at least very aware of the word for word storyline and has a fun take on that story. I felt like The One That Got Away didn’t really do that? It’s biggest tribute to the novel was essentially…

The Princess Bride Meets The Emperor’s New Groove: The Emperor’s Ostrich by Julie Berry

The Princess Bride Meets The Emperor’s New Groove: The Emperor’s Ostrich by Julie Berry

Posted by on 07/27/2017 • 0 Comments

I feel like aesthetics for middle grade novels are fairly uncommon but The Emperor’s Ostrich is so laugh-out loud hilarious and really just lends itself to aesthetics. It’s got adventure, an unexpected romance (b/w a cow and an ostrich) & magic.

As the title of this post suggests, I believe that this book can best be described as The Princess Bride meets The Emperor’s New Groove. What happens when a spoilt man-child is on the verge of getting control of an entire empire? Why of course, he must be taught a lesson! Magic, mayhem and adventure ensue and a young dairy maid might be the answer to all. Basically, this book will make you LOL and draw you in for a ride. READ IT or give it to people who read middle grade. Seriously.

4 Reasons to Read Geekerella by Ashley Poston

4 Reasons to Read Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Posted by on 04/04/2017 • 6 Comments

GEEKERELLA is everything it promises to be. It is incredibly cute and adorably nerdy. Did you grow up kind of obsessed with the Another Cinderella Story movies? Do you want to read a book that is at least the first movie in book form? YOU’VE COME TO THE RIGHT PLACE. GEEKERELLA is everything you will ever want from a modern adaptation of a Cinderella retelling. It reminded me so much of why modern retellings of fairy tales are some of my favorite things to read.

Elle grew up watching Starfield (a Star Trek-esque show) with her father. It is one of her few connections to him now that he is gone and it is also one of her only form of escapes. It has allowed her to connect to…

Giveaway: Frostblood by Elly Blake

Giveaway: Frostblood by Elly Blake

Posted by on 02/20/2017 • 14 Comments

Today we are partnering with the lovely people over at Little, Brown to bring you a fabulous giveaway for FROSTBLOOD by Elly Blake. It has a cover that is hella gorgeous and a blurb that got me glued. I am so excited to dive into this book and hope you guys are too! 🙂

About the Book

About the Author

Elly Blake loves fairy tales, old houses, and owls. After earning a degree in English literature, she held a series of seemingly random jobs, including project manager, customs clerk, graphic designer, and reporter for a local business magazine before finally landing on her current job as a library assistant. She lives in Southwestern Ontario with her husband, kids, and a Siberian Husky mix that definitely shows frostblood tendencies.

Offical…