Sam’s Review of The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison

trtmihWhen I first started reading The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison, I have to admit that I was pretty excited. The cover art was lovely and the summary on the back was enough to get me started.  The story sounded right up my ally.

The plot from Goodreads:

Ailsbet loves nothing more than music; tall and red-haired, she’s impatient with the artifice and ceremony of her father’s court. Marissa adores the world of her island home and feels she has much to offer when she finally inherits the throne from her wise, good-tempered father. The trouble is that neither princess has the power–or the magic–to rule alone, and if the kingdoms can be united, which princess will end up ruling the joint land? For both, the only goal would seem to be a strategic marriage to a man who can bring his own brand of power to the throne. But will either girl be able to marry for love? And can either of these two princesses, rivals though they have never met, afford to let the other live?

The fantasy genre has long been a favorite for readers – magic, romance, princesses, ancient prophecies, etc.  It might start to feel like it’s all be done before, but thankfully this story is different. Harrison has gone to great detail and effort to create a world that is new and never seen before.  There are two types of magic here. One is Anger and Death, given to men: taweyr. The other is Nature and Beauty reserved for women: neweyr.   In order for there to be a happy kingdom there must be a balance of both magics.

The two main characters Ailsbet and Issa are just delightful in this carefully crafted story. It is clear from the onset that Ailsbet, the musically gifted princess of Rurik, would be a great leader. She is passionate and kind, clever and careful. Yet, because she is a woman with no magic she is unable to rule. As the story goes on a secret is revealed about Ailsbet’s magic, one that even she wasn’t expecting. This secret has the power to threaten not only her chances at the throne but also her life. I found myself really drawn to her as she struggled with her new identity. In many ways she was already trapped by her title as princess, one without magic. But once she truly comes into herself she has to make some choices that have implications beyond herself.

Issa is a princess from the other island. The journey from Ailbet’s castle to Issa’s takes a long and dangerous month. In her kingdom, Issa has been in charge of the feminine magic in her lands since the passing of her mother. She would like the opportunity to lead in her own kingdom, but it doesn’t seem possible for her. Ailsbet’s father has more power and thus more control. When Kellin, a handsome messenger, arrives with a proposal of marriage from Ailsbet’s kid brother, Issa knows what she must do, for everyone’s sake.

Much of the plot is driven by what the ladies have to do for political advancement. As a reader I liked seeing the girls struggle with the decisions they had to make because it really grounded them. Ailsbet’s father, the terrible King Haikor of Rurik, is obsessed with his power and magic and often taxes men a portion of their magic, which he sucks from them in quite a grotesque way. Ailsbet’s mother, Queen Aske, has been asked for years to suppress her own magic so that the magic of men would be stronger still. This leaves Anger and Death to run rampant in Rurik. With these two as parents, Ailsbet takes on quite a bit of responsibility for her brother, Edik, often putting his needs and political strategy ahead of her own. She knows that a marriage with Issa will unite the two kingdoms but she struggles with whether this would be good or simply an invitation for her father to increase his power and realm at the expense of Issa’s people. Issa has to grapple with just the same problem with an added layer, she has fallen in love with a Duke of Rurik. Should she choose love? Can she? It’s this question that both women really have to consider. Who’s happiness is more important and at what cost?

What I really loved is the balance between the seriousness of the prophecy and decisions both ladies have to make and the sweetness of the romance mixed in. Issa’s love story unfolds slowly at first, then all at once. This was one of my favorite parts of the story, and I’m not really a romance girl! I never felt overwhelmed by it or that that piece of the puzzle overshadowed any other part. I admit that it initially worried me based on the cover! That girl looks like a damsel in distress if I’ve ever seen one!

Really, my only complaint was that the language was a bit much at first. Harrison invents many words to describe her magical world and if you’re not paying close attention you might miss a meaning and become totally lost. As I kept reading I got more and more used to the strangeness of the language and found that eventually (after two or three chapters) I slipped easily into the zone.

I realized just a few pages from the end that I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to these characters yet. It’s always a good sign when that happens! All in all it’s a solid, girly, summer read!

4 out of 5 Stars

The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison
EgmontUSA (2013)
Hardcover: 400 pages
ISBN: 9781606843659

Special thanks to EgmontUSA for my review copy!

The April Roundup!

I can’t believe it!  At the end of April I had 70 books under my belt; this is the fastest reading pace I’ve done yet!  That’s 30 books ahead of schedule!  You can see a list of all the books I’ve read so far here.  With all of the reading I’ve done recently, you’d think I didn’t have enough time for anything else.  Well, that was not the case.  We had a month packed with all sorts of family/friend events that kept me running around!

Beautiful RuinsTo start the month off right, Todd, Jess, and I attended a book signing by Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins.  What an amazing author!  Jess was full of energy and a great all around guy.  I was fortunate enough to get my book signed by him and chat with him afterwards.  Overall, it was yet another wonderful event put on by R.J. Julia.  If you haven’t been there yet, get to it!  The following weekend, we attended a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society in our town put on by the local Knights of Columbus.  It is a huge beer and food festival, with tons of local and regional breweries on hand with plenty of samples and a ton of food too.  Delicious!

Next, it was on to watch the Quinnipiac Men’s Ice Hockey team as they played in the national championship games!  We originally went to New Haven to get together with fellow alums to watch Quinnipiac take on St. Cloud in the Frozen Four semifinal game.  After winning that game, the Bobcats stayed in Pittsburgh to play Yale in the national championship.  We attended a game watch at a local bar and cheered on the Bobcats, but sadly they lost.  There’s always next year though!

IMG_20130509_085129Finally, I have to end this roundup on a slightly sad note.  Recently we had been noting that Sebastian (one of our two cats) had been coughing a lot.  Todd was able to take a day off of work and took him to the vet, where he had an x-ray (he had to be sedated as he can be slightly grumpy at times).  It turns out that he may have slight asthma, and the pills we got are doing the trick, so he is feeling much better!  Look at this cute face!

So on the reading front, the 27 books I read in April were primarily all new adult books.  This is seriously my new favorite genre.  I’ve already posted reviews on two of my favorites: Easy by Tammara Webber and Losing It by Cora Carmack.  AHH this genre is the bomb. I have many more recommendations for this genre, so keep an eye on my upcoming reviews.

Speaking of reviews, here is what’s on the schedule for the rest of May.  Sam’s going to be reviewing a new YA novel entitled The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison.  Todd’s working on Resurrection Express by Stephen Romano and A Year in Beer and Food by Emily Baime and Darin Michaels.  Christine will be reviewing Over the Rainbow by Paul Pickering and I’m working on Eyes Wide Open by Raine Miller, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, Stranded with a Billionaire by Jessica Clare, and The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden by Jessica Sorensen among others.  It promises to be a full month as always.

I hope your April was as fun-filled and bookish as ours was!

Until next time, happy reading!

The March Roundup!

Well folks, the first quarter of the year is over.  Wasn’t it just January 1st?  With the first quarter over I feel the need to evaluate where I am on my reading goal.  I need to read 10 books a month to stay on pace for the overall goal of 120 books read.  At the end of March my year-to-date total was 43 books, 13 books ahead of schedule!!  (The 24 books I finished reading in March went a long way in pushing me over the mark).  You can see a full listing of everything I’ve read so far with links to their reviews here.

Completed favors

Now that March is over I can tell you what really kept me so busy in February!  My mother turned sixty on March 20th and as such my family threw a surprise party for her at the beginning of March! (She’s too smart to have done it any closer to her actual birthday).  Anyway, her birthday falls on the first day of spring so we decided on a “spring” theme for the party.  I’m still shocked that my sister, aunts, and father were able to pull it off without her finding out.  Anyway, back to the planning!  As the crafty sister, I was placed in charge of the centerpieces, favors, and cake!  Working off the spring theme I bought different colored ceramic birds, Spanish moss, and cellophane bags to make birds in nests for each guest to take home.  I really need to pat myself on the back. They came out great and everyone loved them!  Also, sticking with the spring idea I got these awesome colored flower pots to put fresh flowers in for each of the tables.  Unfortunately, that wound up turning into a disaster because the pots were wider than I thought and the flowers were all over the place and ::sigh:: it was a mess.  I wound up having to stuff wet paper towels into the pots with the flowers to prop them up and keep them hydrated.  It was all worth it though just to see the shocked look on my mom’s face.

Surprised mom!

Surprised mom!

I don’t think anything can beat that face. Seriously.  Anyway, we kept busy the rest of the month with visits to my cousin’s house in upstate New York as well as a trip to the vet for Belle and Sebastian.  Our bowling league also finished up the last Thursday of the month and I can happily say I killed it this year!  I finished as the highest scoring female bowler in our league with a high score of 181 (WOO-HOO)!

On the reading front I read a wide variety of genres last month.  Time-traveling, historical fiction, mysteries, romances, graphic novels, and even a few paranormal ones! I definitely covered the entire spectrum this month, and I’m proud to say that I enjoyed every minute!  It’s not every month that I get to be this productive, and I’m happy that I was able to accomplish so many goals in such a short amount of time.   It’s difficult to come up with a top read of the month having read so many different genres, but if I was being forced to pick one I’d have to pick Voyager by Diana Gabaldon.  I quite simply cannot put her Outlander series down.  I have so many reviews forthcoming for all the great books I read in March. I have to say there are not many losers in the bunch.  It was hands down a month full of reading surprises!

Looking forward to April, I can tell you I’m part of a few blog tours for new releases from Michelle Diener (author of In A Treacherous Courtand M.J. Rose (author of  The Book of Lost Fragrances). Todd’s currently reading Resurrection Express by Stephen Romano and How To Plant A Body by Terri Ann Armstrong. Adam’s working on his review of Game of the Gods by E.J Dabel, the second book in Dabel’s Pantheons series. Sam’s review for Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason is going to be posted on the blog in the next few days.  Once that’s posted she’s moving on to Firebrand by Gillian Philip and The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison.  Jess is reading a biography about Sylvia Plath entitled Mad Girl’s Love Song.  Charlie’s working on an interview with Paul Cornell, author of London Falling and writer for Doctor Who!  And Christine is reading Under the Same Stars by Tim Lott and Over the Rainbow by Paul Pickering.  The staff is doing a fantastic job at keeping this blog well-rounded and full of book selections for all genres and all readers.  My thanks and praise goes out to them!

Well folks, that’s March in a nutshell.

Until next time, happy reading!