Review of Wintersong by S Jae- Jones

WIntersongCoverWintersong
By: S Jae-Jones
Release Date: February 7th 2017
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Format: E-ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

My Thoughts:
The moment I learned about Wintersong I was desperate to read it. I have been a fan of the movie Labyrinth since I was a whee child and have wished for a retelling or something set in the world with the Goblin King. I felt that with Wintersong my dreams and wish had been granted. This shows the really high expectations I had going into this book. I tried to lower them and keep myself grounded but I’ve gotta admit I expected the very best.

I found the writing to be really magical in this book and though I felt a bit confused at times about the world I was drawn into the story easily. I did find Liesl a difficult character to connect to because she wasn’t a very nice person- she let her insecurities and jealousy direct her behavior. I felt that Liesl was really a lot of the ugliest within each of us. She was jealous of her sister’s beauty and the attention she got because of it. She was jealous of her brother’s musical talent as well as the affection and support her father gave him. I could undertstand these feelings she had because we all feel these things. I felt that Liesl struggling so much with these emotions possibly she’d have intense character growth as the story progressed.

This novel has two sections really- the before and the Underground. The before focused on Liesl’s sister’s abduction and what she will do to retrieve her sister from the hands of the Goblin King. Though Liesl feels intense jealousy at times for her younger sister she also feels love for her and wants to help bring her back. I felt this section of the book was sort of rushed and I honestly think the two sections of the book could have easily been broken into two books allowing for more time on character and world development.

The second section of the novel focused on Liesl’s time in the Underworld, her relationship with the Goblin King and her search to compose the music that almost haunts her. The Goblin King was a character with great potential though I always wanted a bit more from him. I pictured my childhood favorite, David Bowie’s Jareth, in the role. I think this had to do more with my own dedication to inserting him into the book rather than his character really being much like the Goblin King from the movie.

To help that along the author chose to include several lines from the movie and with his description I had no trouble picturing him. I will say though that the comparisons for me were face value. Past the quotes and the image the essence of this Goblin King was much different than Jareth from Labyrinth. He never seemed as cruel as the movie version. We get to see some of his past and his love for music. This humanized him for me and took him from the role of a bad guy (in the movie) and placed him solely as a love interest in the novel for me. I never really saw him as evil or dislikeable.

I went into this book expecting it to be very heavy on the romance and that was an important aspect of the story line but I felt more centered on Liesl’s music and her need to express herself through it. Many paragraphs were dedicated to this and it was a really huge part of the story (hence the ‘song’ part in the title).

I’d say my biggest complaint was that I had many questions that just weren’t answered fully enough for me. I believe there will be a companion novel but I’m not sure and this distresses me some. I think I’d have been happier had this story been broken into two books which would have allowed for a deeper look at the world and more time to create more connection between the Goblin King and Liesl. Though they shared many scenes together I felt it was missing that chemistry I so desired. WintersongBookstagram
Final Thoughts:
Try to hold off on putting your own ideals on what Wintersong is. Detach it from the labyrinth comparison if you are a huge fan such as myself. Try to take this book for what it is rather than the void you’d like it to fill.

My Newest Obsession- Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones + INT Giveaway

If you follow me on Twitter you would have seen me screaming to the void about Wintersong and how desperately I want to read it. This book is inspired in part by Labyrinth- which was childhood favorite movie. I’ve spent years obsessed over The Goblin King and yearning for someone to take his character and delve deeper. My dreams have been answered and JJ has written a book I know I’ll love.

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About the Book

BWIntersongCovereware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

Coming February 7th 2017 by Thomas Dunne

This past week Griffin Teen graciously sent me the first 40 or so pages of the book to give me very much appreciated look at what I was looking forward to. To say I dropped everything to read would not be an exaggeration.

I have been waiting to get a feel for the atmosphere of the book and characters and this teaser was perfect to do just that. I immediately got swept away in the story and the visuals were PERFECT. As I read further, each page, inspired dread because I knew it would end and I’d be made to wait so long to read more. Some pain though is worth it, wouldn’t you agree?

WintersongBookstagram

The novel begins with a beautifully written overture about a boy and girl singing and dancing in the woods. The little girl never knows who the boy is but he asks her to marry him and plays games with her. This is such an excellent beginning and though not long it sets the story up and is so very vivid. I could feel the woods, I don’t know if it was supposed to, but it made me think of cool days and being chilled in the shadow of trees.

Chapter 1 introduces us to the main character and her sister. In only a few short chapters you get a very clear idea of these sisters personalities and how they interact with one another. I felt it was beautifully executed. Both sisters have fault and seem highly realistic in their passions and insecurities. Once the tall stranger enters the story I couldn’t help but picture David Bowie’s version of the Goblin King. Even if you aren’t a fan of Labyrinth JJ’s descriptions and the book’s atmosphere will have you visualizing the setting and characters.

I really could go on and on about these 44 pages I’ve just read but I think you get the idea. This book is beautifully written and after just a short teaser I am INVESTED. I want to know what will happen next. I am attached to the characters-though they are not perfect in the slightest (this honestly makes me even more attached to them).

Have you added this book to your to be read list? If not you SHOULD. Here it is on Goodreads. Also, you MUST check out the author’s website and sign up for her newsletter. Both are full of exclusive content you will want to see.

Giveaway

I’m giving away a pre-order of one Wintersong hardcover. This is international if Book Depository ships to your location.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Meet the Newbies- S. Jae-Jones Author of Wintersong

Meet the Newbies

Meet the Newbies is hosted by Rachel from A Perfection Called Books and is a way to get to know the latest debut authors and get a glimpse of their books. Check out all the authors and blog on the tour here.

From the moment I heard about Wintersong my heart skipped a beat and I knew I must, MUST, read this book as soon as humanely possible. It pulls from so much I love (Labyrinth, David Bowie as inspiration? SOLD). Sometimes, we run across a book summary it is so ‘us’ we feel completely connected having never read a word. That’s me and this book. I was HONORED when asked if I wanted to host the author, S Jae-Jones.

Author Most Likely to do a Dance, Magic, Dance
Nickname: The Great Miss JJ
First Day of School: February 7, 2017
Homeroom: Thomas Dunne
Grade: Gothic Fairytale
Extracurricular Activities: Piano, visual arts, fencing, jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, dressing up for movie premieres, obsessing over fictional characters
Favorite Class: English
Favorite Quote/Motto: “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.” -Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back

About the Author

13414088S. Jae-Jones, called JJ, is a voracious and indiscriminate reader, an avid traveller, and something of an adrenaline junkie.

Born and raised in sunny Los Angeles, she lived in New York City for ten years before relocating down to Dixie, where she is comfortably growing fat on grits and barbecue. When not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, skydiving, taking photographs, drawing pictures, and dragging her dog on ridiculously long hikes.

Social Media Links: Website | Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GR

About the Book

24763621Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

Book Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Interview

The most obvious question and thus I must ask it, why the Goblin King? How much of the movie Labyrinth can we expect?
Why not the Goblin King? :) To be honest, I don’t really have an answer for that, or at least not a straight one. Labyrinth obviously had a huge effect on me as a little girl (my name is Sarah, after all), but when I watch it as an adult, some of its storytelling flaws come through. Part of me wanted to fix some of the thematic dissonance and logic problems of the movie, but writing WINTERSONG wasn’t as conscious as that. I like Underworld stories, I love the trope Death and the Maiden, I love Franz Schubert’s Der Erlkoenig, I love David Bowie, glitter, and goth things and all of that came together in this book.
As for how much of the movie you can expect to find in the book, well, my editor did make me scrub out a lot of the direct references. :) (And she was right for doing so; we want the book to stand on its own, after all.) However, there are two direct homages to the movie I couldn’t bear to remove. Easter eggs for my readers! Oh, and my Goblin King has mismatched eyes. Just like David Bowie.
I’ve read that your novel was first geared to an adult crowd but has been altered for a younger audience. Can you tell us how that changed the book?
The biggest (and only) change is the editing of the sex scenes. Yes, there are sex scenes. They are still in the book. They are still on the page. (When I was drafting WINTERSONG, my joke title was 50 Shades of Labyrinth.) But YA and adult sex scenes are treated differently and my editor and I worked to edit them to make them appropriate for a teen audience. Other than that, there has been no actual substantive change. In fact, I initially queried WINTERSONG as YA, but yanno, adult content. :)
From the summary and your website I can see that Mozart has a large influence on your work. Are you a musician? What about him and his music captivate you?
I am a musician insofar as I’ve been trained in music since I was very little. I do love music of all kinds: classical, pop, rock, country, hip-hop, etc. One of my earliest memories is sitting at my family’s old Yamaha upright piano, my feet dangling off the bench, picking out how to play Yankee Doodle by ear with just the black keys. I asked my parents for piano lessons when I was three; they told me to wait until I was four. I am a musician insofar as I am someone who can play a vast array of instruments competently (many self-taught), but without any true genius. In other words, I am just musical enough to love it fiercely, but not enough to be anything but passable.
As for Mozart…why does anyone connect to a musician? Why do I love Mozart? Why do I love David Bowie or Marc Bolan or Lady Gaga or Yeezy or the Dixie Chicks? My exposure to Mozart did come at a young, impressionable age; my mother loves his work, so I grew up listening to him the way other children grow up listening to Bob Dylan. But if you were to ask me what I connect to in Mozart’s SOUND, that ineffable quality that is uniquely his, I suppose you could say his transcendence. There’s a clarity and sprightliness to his voice (even in his unfinished Requiem) that’s almost magical.
On a personal level, I find him as a historical person very interesting. He was a child prodigy who grew up to be an adult genius, only to have that genius cut tragically short at the age of 35. But I also love that he was a genius who also liked to make fart jokes and write ditties for his friends called “Lick me in the ass.” (Yes, it’s true!)
As a reader I always hope to deeply connect to one or more characters while reading- as a writer did you find yourself connecting deeper to one of your characters? If so, which and why?
This is tricky for me to answer because all my characters are in some part me. I suppose it’s almost easier to answer which character I aspire to be. Well, maybe aspire isn’t the best word, but there’s a goblin in my book named Thistle, and her contrary, spiteful, spiky personality was really fun to write.
With your book being scheduled to release in early 2017 what part of this journey has been the most surprising?
To be honest, it’s hard to surprise me, mostly because my previous career was as a YA editor in a Big 5 publishing house. I’ve more or less seen it all. :)
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Giveaway

1 Pre-Order or Finished Copy of Any Debut Novel Featured on Meet the Newbies
International (as long as The Book Depository ships to your country)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Recent Books on My Radar

Sometimes I like to peruse Goodreads and get excited about books that aren’t releasing for AGES. I guess it’s a form or self torture but I still love doing it. I thought I’d share some of my latest finds with you!

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Also, my blog might be pretty quiet this week because I’m going to a conference at the end of the week if the weather permits. Near where I live we had some major flooding last night and there might be more. We really hope not but there’s rain in the forecast.

Books I’m Excited For

Add these to ye olde TBR Wish-list. I’m including the title, author, GR summary and link

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Presented by James Patterson’s new children’s imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion…

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.

Borders-0327883214Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Before you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game . . .

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

Then, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. So, Tella enlists a mysterious sailor’s help to whisk Scarlett away to this year’s show. But as soon as the trio arrives, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nonetheless soon becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with her sister, with Legend, and with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

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24763621Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

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29631300The Architect of Song by A.G. Howard

A lady imprisoned by deafness, an architect imprisoned by his past, and a ghost imprisoned within the petals of a flower — intertwine in this love story that transcends life and death.

For most of her life, nineteen-year-old Juliet Emerline has subsisted – isolated by deafness – making hats in the solitude of her home. Now, she’s at risk to lose her sanctuary to Lord Nicolas Thornton, a twenty-seven-year-old mysterious and eccentric architect with designs on her humble estate. When she secretly witnesses him raging beside a grave, Juliet investigates, finding the name “Hawk” on the headstone and an unusual flower at the base. The moment Juliet touches the petals, a young English nobleman appears in ghostly form, singing a song only her deaf ears can hear. The ghost remembers nothing of his identity or death, other than the one name that haunts his afterlife: Thornton.

To avenge her ghostly companion and save her estate, Juliet pushes aside her fear of society and travels to Lord Thornton’s secluded holiday resort, posing as a hat maker in one of his boutiques. There, she finds herself questioning who to trust: the architect of flesh and bones who can relate to her through romantic gestures, heartfelt notes, and sensual touches … or the specter who serenades her with beautiful songs and ardent words, touching her mind and soul like no other man ever can. As sinister truths behind Lord Thornton’s interest in her estate and his tie to Hawk come to light, Juliet is lured into a web of secrets. But it’s too late for escape, and the tragic love taking seed in her heart will alter her silent world forever.

NYT bestselling author, A.G. Howard, brings her darkly magical and visual/visceral storytelling to Victorian England. The Architect of Song is the first installment in her lush and romantic Haunted Hearts Legacy series, a four book gothic saga following the generations of one family as — haunted by both literal and figurative ghosts — they search for self-acceptance, love, and happiness.

New Adult: Recommended for ages 17+.

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27414389A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith

A time-travel story that alternates between modern day and 19th century Japan as one girl confronts the darkness lurking in her soul.

No one knows what to do with Reiko. She is full of hatred. All she can think about is how to best hurt herself and the people closest to her. After a failed suicide attempt, Reiko’s parents send her from their Seattle home to spend the summer with family in Japan to learn to control her emotions. But while visiting Kuramagi, a historic village preserved to reflect the nineteenth-century Edo period, Reiko finds herself slipping back in time into the life of Miyu, a young woman even more bent on revenge than Reiko herself. Reiko loves being Miyu, until she discovers the secret of Kuramagi village, and must face down Miyu’s demons as well as her own.

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25760792Timekeeper by Tara Sim

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

The stunning first novel in a new trilogy by debut author Tara Sim, Timekeeper is perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare and Victoria Schwab.

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Do you have any of these on your list already?