Thank you so much Shealea @ Caffeine Book Tours for allowing me to be a part of this blog tour! Do you guys see this cover?! The girl is beautiful, the guy is cute af, and ugh I just love it! It makes me want to grow my hair out again so I can be like her. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this tour and support Brittni and her series!
The day I learned of my arranged marriage to the Prince of Vires, I decided to kill him.
I was certain nothing could compare to the horror of being sold to a man I didn’t know, forced into a consummation ceremony in front of the royal council, and becoming a prisoner in my own castle– but I was wrong.
Beyond the borders of my kingdom, a boy pulled a sword from a stone, entwining our destinies.
When the walls of my castle start to fall, true intentions emerge leaving me to put my faith in the man I attempted to murder.
But should I save my kingdom or my heart? One must fall.
10 FUN FACTS ABOUT BRITTNI CHENELLE
1. She lives in South Korea.
It’s true. She does most of her updates in the morning or at night to account for the time difference. She also infuses most of her novels with her observations about Korean culture.
2. She’s a Type 1 Diabetic.
She uses an insulin pump for survival and refers to her diabetes as “Beetie” which is what inspired her children’s book “Life with Beetie”. When she wants something from her parents she tells them, “My Beetie hurts.” It’s a trick that has never failed her.
3. She doesn’t really BELIEVE in fiction.
Despite all the; Dragons, Elves, and Magic present in her novel “Involuted the Tale of the Red Ribbon Tree”, Brittni INSISTS that it’s a true story. I wouldn’t normally believe it but when browsing some of her old pictures, you can find pictures of her with a mysterious red ribbon tied to her wrist.
4. She’s OBSESSED with dark chocolate.
She made me put that in and would also like me to inform you (on an unrelated note) that her birthday is in May.
5. She loves video games, anime, and cosplay.
Favorite games: League of Legends, Stardew Valley, Pokemon. Favorite Anime: Avatar the Last Airbender, Your lie in April, Full Metal Alchemist. Cosplay: She once dressed as Korra from Legend of Korra. She’s hoping there will be more brown characters for her to cosplay in the future.
6. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and a Master’s in Creative Writing.
7. She’s working on a Manga/Anime style novel with about 100 images included.
8. Sorry guys, she’s married.
If you ask her, she’ll tell you her husband saved her life but everytime someone asks “how” she gives a different reason. I’ve overheard her give about 4 different reasons, but I bet she has more. He must be an amazing guy.
9. She posts awesome travel pictures on her Instagram.
Her username is @brittnichenelle. You’re here because you love her unique way of seeing the world, now you can see it in picture form! This is especially good if you have an interest in Asia since that’s where most of her pictures are taken.
10: Brittni, why did you become a writer?
“I write because I would go crazy if I didn’t. The body is limited but the mind is free to roam among dragons and fairies, it can soar through the air, and breathe underwater, and hold onto love in even the worst conditions. I guess that’s why, because books are not bound by the rules of reality and I am addicted to the freedom– seduced by the possibilities.” -Brittni Chenelle
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Brittni Chenelle and Caffeine Book Tours for this free copy. All quotes in this review are taken from the Advanced Reader Copy and may change in final publication.
War, Racism, Torture, Death,
Attempted Assassination, Attempted Poison
Oh my gosh! I have actually been wanting to read this book for so long, and I finally had the chance to do it for a blog tour, and it did NOT disappoint me! Thank you again so much to Shealea and Brittni for this opportunity. I’m actually crying at how much I enjoyed my time reading this story.
So, one of the things that you probably wouldn’t have noticed until you read a little further in the first novel is that this is kind of retelling of the story of King Arthur and the Sword and the Stone, which wow that was actually super cool to realize! I already had shitty luck with one of them this year, and I was a little hesitant to read anything King Arthur related because I feel like he’s outdone, but this one was such a unique take on it, and I really enjoyed it.
Another thing that I really liked was that there was immediate diversity in this novel, and it wasn’t just for a plot device. I hate when authors add diversity for diversity’s sake, and this was not like that at all. Our main princess Charlotte is mixed – her father is black and her mom is possibly white – and the kingdom of Vires is Asian influenced. If you take the name Minseo, think Korean. Immediately I was intrigued because rarely do I see stories where BOTH of the MCs are POC and in positions of royalty. So that was a huge plus side for me right there.
I loved seeing the character growth from both Charlotte and Young, and how even in the first novel before they were really seeing eye to eye, they were able to read one another in certain situations. I understand that it’s difficult to really know how someone is going to be especially if you have never met them before, but have been told you need to marry them to fulfill an agreement between two kingdoms, but when you’re in charge of the future of your kingdom, you do what you got to do.
Like I would know, but I mean. I can guess.
I don’t want to go too much into spoiler territory since this was three books into one basically, but I really liked that the whole Sword in the Stone bit was sneakily put in the first novel and mentioned so cavalier that I almost didn’t think twice about it. I actually thought it was just a story that one character was telling because he was such a pompous jerk.
Basically, you don’t know what you’re going to get when you first start this book, and then you’re along for a whole ride. It’s great, and Chenelle did such a great job with this trilogy that I can’t imaging not having the likes of Charlotte, Young, and Minseo in my life anymore.
what was the inspiration behind your novel?
I just wanted to tell a fun story and it kind of took over. My first working title for it was “Princess Book” so that says a lot about what I was thinking.
how much control did you have on the design of your cover?
I was very hands-on with this cover including selecting the models that were used, but the cover designer delivered in a big way. I think it’s really beautiful. In the first version of it, the guy’s jacket was red and my facebook group, YA Fantasy Readers, voted on making it blue.
what’s it like living in South Korea?
Korea is Amazing. I love the food and the nightlife. I also love the balance of modern and traditional.
in your bio, you mentioned that you’re very passionate about equal representation. what are some of the steps that you take while working on your novels to ensure that the equal representation is done correctly?
I have an openness to criticism which really helps. Anytime you start talking about race you’re going to be criticized for it. Someone will always be offended but that doesn’t mean to stop trying. There are instances of racism that my characters face. In my mind, I’m sharing some of my experiences, but some readers might feel that it’s racist to include them at all.
Similarly, I’m an African American woman and I think using the word caramel to describe my own skin tone is more than acceptable, but others in the African American community would disagree with using food descriptors. I’ve done a lot of research and pushed myself to improve descriptions with each book. I even have a couple moments that make me cringe in book one. But it’s not about perfection, it’s about effort and improvement. It’s about inclusion and willingness to learn. A lot of authors are afraid to offend minorities so they don’t include them in books at all and I think that’s a shame.
I’d rather take the criticism and learn and eventually be the kind of Multicultural Author that the world needs more of.
what kind of advice would you give your younger self about becoming an author?
Get a real job you bum. LOL No, I’m kidding. I guess I would tell myself that the more books I write, the quicker it can become a full-time gig. When I was younger I thought one book would launch me instantly to fame and fortune. I would tell myself to write and read every day and never to give up.
is your marriage an inspiration for the romance in this novel?
My marriage is the inspiration for everything I do in life. There are traces of my husband in all the characters but he doesn’t read my books.
what is your most important aspect to consider when world building?
I’ll let you know as soon as I figure out how to do it. Hahaha
do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
It doesn’t take that long to write a novel. A couple of hours a day, 5 days a week and you can do it in a month. Just take it a bit at a time. STOP REREADING WHAT YOU ALREADY WROTE (you’ve likely done this 100 times). Don’t delete anything and don’t worry about if it’s any good until the whole story is finished. Every book sucks until the right editor gets a hold of it. 😉
I looked at this re imagined cover and I immediately felt some type of way. Actually, I was really emotional because I thought that this cover did so much more justice to the story. Seeing a beautiful POC couple on the cover, exuding royalty and strength was just inspiring and I loved it.
But it also made me think about another thing, which I wanted to talk about here because not only was it mentioned in my interview but it was a sticking point in the novel.
The blatant racism that both Charlotte and Young faced from dear old Emmett of Algony (he’s the one that supposedly pulled Excalibur from the stone but claimed he didn’t want that poor excuse of a kingdom so he put it back in the stone). You can see why I didn’t believe him for a second until later.
There was the scene where we first meet Emmett, maybe a couple days or so after we meet him, and he was comparing himself to Young. He said something that was so… arrogant and rude, and yet it sounded like something I’ve heard countless times. It was so believable that it angered me because of how so many people can have that kind of mentality.
So clearly, Bennett is white, and according to him, his appearance is supposedly superior in “every world”. Which, if we look at society today, seems to be the case. There’s also the part where Young points out that Charlotte doesn’t look like that at all, and yet Emmett is “willing to overlook that”, like it’s an inconvenience and nothing more since it means he will inherit her kingdom as well as his own.
That whole passage right there just really encapsulates the idea that POC have been used to benefit the white majority, and because of aspects that they cannot change, they are considered inferior.
Seeing Chenelle bring that into the fold from the get go was important to me because she wasn’t brushing away the fact that racism is still prevalent throughout fantasy worlds, and that while it is tiring and exhausting to continue to combat ignorant comments as these, it’s still important for us to stand up for ourselves and those who can’t do it alone. And to do it in a way that doesn’t prove them right, that we are less than or just angry or making everything about race, will be beneficial for us in the long run and show our strength when those in the world don’t want us to have any.
Oh man. Well I’m sorry that my creative posts seem to be ramblings about my thoughts, but I guess that’s how creative I can be. I definitely think everyone should read this book at least once in their lives – or at least when you are able to handle some more King Arthur retellings. I wouldn’t say that the King Arthur aspect is too much that it feels like it all encompassing, but it’s enough that I could appreciate this take on it, and liked it as one of the many adaptations that I could get behind.
Thank you again so much for this opportunity, and I can’t wait to work more with Caffeine Blog Tours.