Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Blog Tour Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen @TLCBookTours

Title: The Queen of the Tearling

Author: Erika Johansen

Series: The Queen of the Tearling #1

Publication date: July 8th, 2014

ISBN: 9780062290366

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen's Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon--from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic--to prevent her from wearing the crown.

Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea's kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun--a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend... if she can survive.

The Queen of the Tearling introduces readers to a world as fully imagined and terrifying as that of The Hunger Games, with characters as vivid and intriguing as those of The Game of Thrones, and a wholly original heroine. Combining thrilling action and twisting plot turns, it is a magnificent debut from the talented Erika Johansen.

I received a physical copy from the author in exchange for an honest review and participation in a blog tour.

As a rule, set forth by myself, I normally don't venture too far out of my comfort zone with my reading material. Normally every story has to have some sort of romance in it to keep me locked into the story. The Queen of the Tearling was my first real delve into epic fantasy. I was a bit unnerved and skeptical that I was going to like it, but as I usually am with books I receive for review from TLC Book Tours. I was so wrong. 

The story opens on a nineteen-year-old girl reluctantly being taken from her beloved foster parents to take her place as the Queen's heir. Kelsea has been taught all her life what she needed to know about her kingdom and their policies, but it's quite different for her actually have to follow them and make decisions that can totally rock the known state of things within her kingdom. She learns that once things are set for decades, not many are willing to change even if it's for the better. She thought she was going to take the throne and govern over existing laws and keep order within her kingdom. Instead she finds discord and suffering among her people. Never the kind of person to sit idly by, Kelsea sets out to change her kingdom and free her people from pain and torment. 

As with any great change, there are always people who rebel against it. One of those people is Kelsea's uncle, the Regent. He wants to keep his place on the throne and keep his kingdom how it was. He didn't care about the shipments of slaves he sends to the Red Queen every month or the evil deeds running rampant in his streets. All he cares about is his women and his wine. Kelsea threatens his happy life and so he sets assassins to sniff her out and dispose of her accordingly. But he's not the only one plotting against her. She has no one she can trust. Not the dashing King of Thieves who causes her cheeks to brighten every time she thinks about him and not her Queen's Guard Captain who seems to always have her best interests at heart.

Can Kelsea overcome the enemies surrounding her and learn to rule her kingdom in the best interests of her people or will she lead her kingdom right into ruin?

I could not get enough of this story. The writing flowed so well and the language used wasn't too complicated or too simplistic. It was not a story riddled with tough subject matter and it wasn't a fluff piece that was too busy avoiding hard issues to get to the root of the story. The characters were realistic and relateable. I found Kelsea to be much the same as me: bookish, hungry for knowledge, sympathetic, plain, and strong willed. I noted a bit of a love triangle possibly forming (fingers crossed!) and I am dying to read the next book in the series. Erika Johansen did spectacular in her debut book and she has made it onto the prestigious list of my top 10 favorite authors.

If you like adventure, suspicion, political maneuvering, and tales of survival set in a fantastical world of magic, The Queen of the Tearling is the book for you!

Available at:
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Rest of the Tour
April 21st: Literally Jen
April 23rd: Bibliophila, Please
April 24th: Book Loving Hippo
April 25th: The Written World
April 28th: More Than Just Magic
April 29th: Book Marks the Spot
May 5th: Must Read Faster
May 7th: Reading Reality
May 14th: Adorkable Me
May 15th: Giraffe Days
May 21st: Mel's Shelves
May 28th: Booknerd
June 5th: One Book at a Time
June 6th: Not Yet Read
June 6th: BoundbyWords
June 9th: Books and Bindings
June 10th: The Infinite Shelf
June 11th: Spiced Latte Reads
June 13th: The Road to Here
June 16th: Open Book Society

About the Author:
Erika Johansen grew up and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She went to Swarthmore College, earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and eventually became an attorney, but she never stopped writing.

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