Review: “Tiger Queen” by Annie Sullivan

Tiger Queen coverTitle: Tiger Queen
Author: Annie Sullivan
Publication Date: September 10, 2019
Publisher: Blink
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Amazon | Kobo | Apple Books

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

ARC provided by the publisher through Edelweiss. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

 

A fierce young desert princess must win her way to the crown to save her people from the drought in this YA fantasy inspired by Frank Stockton’s 1882 short story The Lady, or the Tiger?

In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raids the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.

But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world – and her heart – upside down. Her future is now behind two doors – only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger.

Last year, I had the lucky opportunity to read and review Annie Sullivan’s debut A Touch of Gold. I loved how she created the story – using a character of her own to sort of continue the well-known legend of King Midas’ golden touch. It was unique and entertaining, more than what I thought it would be. So, when I heard that she was coming out with a new re-telling, I immediately grabbed the chance and requested for a reviewer’s copy.

That said, my expectations may have been set a little higher going into this book.

Tiger Queen was an interesting take on Stockton’s The Lady, or the Tiger with a bit of Peter Pan and Robin Hood elements thrown into the mix. Kateri was a compelling character. Sheltered and wanting validation from her King father, she’s naïve, blind to the real struggles of her people and every bit the privileged princess that she was. She has been taught that physical strength is equal to power, so she – with her father then, later on, her father’s cruel captain of the guard Rodric as her mentors – honed herself as a fierce, capable warrior in the arena ready to literally fight off all her suitors to prove her right to rule.

Tiger Queen.png

Her character growth was the most engaging part of this story. Escaping the palace walls that has for so long both protected and caged her, Kateri’s whole world – her truths, beliefs – was shattered, leaving her to learn the harsh reality of her kingdom and its people, of the betrayal of his father. The girl basically needed to pick up what pieces of herself she could salvage, and that’s a tough thing to deal with. I couldn’t help myself from cheering her on.

However, other than Kateri’s evolution, I just can’t find anything else about this story that really stood out for me. Yes, I was entertained enough that I was able to finish reading this in two days. It was fast paced and very much full of action. The Desert Boys gave this story a little bit more of color with their raids and their mission to help the people Achra the best they could. Obviously, I enjoyed this book, but do I see it making its mark in my brain? Sadly, the answer is no.

Tiger Queen 2

Tiger Queen was entertaining and enjoyable. It was a good story, but not a solid one. I found a better chunk of it bland – the antagonists were pretty much one dimensional, bad to the core with none of the nuance I was looking for in a fully-formed villain. The romance, too, did not do much for me. It was slow burn, I get that, but even in slow-burn romances you’ve got to layer in the tension, nudge the pairing together here and there where it makes sense – make it memorable enough that readers remember it and yearn (long) for your characters to be together. In Tiger Queen‘s case though, those little nudges were so subtle they were almost ignorable, and by the time Kateri and her love interest did finally get together, all I felt was an underwhelming meh.

Still, even if this book did not do much for me, I’m sure it will find a place in the hearts of other readers. Fans of YA re-tellings will especially love the creativity that went into this one.

about the author

4135488ANNIE SULLIVAN grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. She received her Masters degree in Creative Writing from Butler University. She loves fairy tales, everything Jane Austen, and traveling. Her wanderlust has taken her to every continent, where she’s walked on the Great Wall of China, found four-leaf clovers in Ireland, waddled with penguins in Antartica, and cage dived with great white sharks in South Africa.

Website | Twitter | Instagram

Review: “A Touch of Gold” by Annie Sullivan

36575823Title: A Touch of Gold

Author: Annie Sullivan

Publisher: Blink/HarperCollins Christian Publishing

Publication Date: August 14, 2018

Rating:

Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Books-a-Million

(Digital ARC graciously provided by the publisher via Edelweiss)

 

 

The story about King Midas’ golden touch was one of the most memorable stories I’ve learned when I was a child. It was a warning against greed and its consequences when you let it take over you. The end of King Midas’ story was pretty much a done deal, one where you could easily imagine him living a happy and contented life with his daughter after having learned his lesson.

Annie Sullivan, however, breaks open that ending to bring forth an entertaining expansion of the old tale in her debut novel A Touch of Gold.

King Midas once had the ability to turn all he touched into gold. But after his gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, Midas relinquished The Touch forever. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbors secret powers that are getting harder to hide.

Kora spends her days locked in the palace, concealed behind gloves and veils, trying to ignore the stares and gossip of courtiers. It isn’t until a charming young duke arrives that Kora realizes there may be someone out there who doesn’t fear her or her curse. But their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals precious items from the kingdom, leaving the treasury depleted and King Midas vulnerable. Thanks to her unique ability to sense gold, Kora is the only one who can track the thief down. As she sails off on her quest, Kora learns that not everything is what it seems—not thieves, not pirates, and not even curses. She quickly discovers that gold—and the power it brings—is more dangerous than she’d ever believed.

Midas learned his lesson at a price. What will Kora’s journey cost?

I had a hard time deciding what I really think and feel about this book. I did like it – the thought of a book about King Midas’ daughter was an intriguing concept – but somehow it just missed the mark and settled for ‘good’ instead of ‘great.’

A Touch of Gold continues King Midas’ story, putting his daughter, Princess Kora, at the center of things in a creatively expanded world built upon the original myth. Featuring cursed royals, pirates, sirens, a quest to retrieve stolen treasures, deception and betrayal, the book is an adventurous, twisty read.

It starts out strong, opening the story with an attention-grabbing prologue. It has me eating it up. Then, the problems started to trickle in. The first half of the story moved too slowly especially for a standalone.

The story’s secondary characters, meanwhile, annoyed and bothered me. Hettie, Kora’s cousin, got on my nerves. She made getting into the already dragged out first part even harder with all her whinnying and complaining. I seriously wanted to reach into the story and hit her with a pillow (or something). The insta-love between Kora and Aris, the Duke of Wystlinos quickly made me wary, though, this one I understand for reasons I will later explain.

Still, I powered through, and was rewarded when I reached the last half.

Action-filled and twisty up to the end, the last half of this book definitely held the story’s most interesting parts. Pirates! Sea adventure! Fighting off sirens intent to drown you! Who could resist those?!? I definitely couldn’t. Even this, though I enjoyed it, is a little bit problematic. It was rushed and predictable. There were key parts that could have been explored better, like Aris’ betrayal and the immediate shift of Kora’s affection from Aris to Royce.

One thing I can’t fault this book for, though, is Kora’s character growth. Cloistered inside her father’s palace, only getting glimpses of the outside world through her books, Kora has grown full of fear and insecurity. She is scared of hurting people with her strange growing powers, scared of scaring other people away, and, most especially, she is scared of herself. Just like her father, she has let the curse define her and this is a blow to her self-worth, so when someone, a stranger practically, comes around and tells her all these nice things, she falls for it and later pays the price for her naivety.

But she admits her mistakes and, more, she learns from them. Kora starts to trust herself bit by bit as her quest to retrieve her father’s gold progressed, and by the end of the book, she willingly accepts the challenge of becoming the princess her kingdom needs her to be – a capable ruler who has her own agency.

Overall, A Touch of Gold was an interesting and enjoyable read so full of action and adventure. It just wasn’t compelling or engaging enough for me. I’d still recommend you guys give this a try especially if you’re craving for a pirate story with a bit of magic.

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: “A Touch of Gold” by Annie Sullivan

Can't Wait Wednesday

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted Tressa at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted Jill at Breaking the Spine.


This Wednesday’s featured book is one I’m really, really super-duper excited to read.

36575823Gold is wealth. Wealth is power. Power is a curse.

King Midas once had the ability to turn all he touched into gold. But after his gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, Midas relinquished The Touch forever. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbors secret powers that are getting harder to hide.

Kora spends her days locked in the palace, concealed behind gloves and veils, trying to ignore the stares and gossip of courtiers. It isn’t until a charming young duke arrives that Kora realizes there may be someone out there who doesn’t fear her or her curse. But their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals precious items from the kingdom, leaving the treasury depleted and King Midas vulnerable. Thanks to her unique ability to sense gold, Kora is the only one who can track the thief down. As she sails off on her quest, Kora learns that not everything is what it seems—not thieves, not pirates, and not even curses. She quickly discovers that gold—and the power it brings—is more dangerous than she’d ever believed.

Midas learned his lesson at a price. What will Kora’s journey cost?

Don’t you just find that blurb interesting? We all know about King Midas and how he learned his story. Now, it’s his daughter’s turn. That last line in the blurb just totally ups up the intrigue (and makes me nervous at the same time 😥😥😥) “Midas learned his lesson at a price. What will Kora’s journey cost?”

I have an ARC of this book but just can’t get to it yet since I have to finish up with my July review copies first. I only have two books left from my July pile though so I can start reading this very soon.

A Touch of Gold releases August 14 under Blink. Add it to your TBR on Goodreads.

💗💗💗’

Rachel

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What book/s are you excited for this week?