BOOK REVIEW: The Swan Prince by Danielle E. Shipley

17826115Series: The Wilderhark Tales #1
Publication Date: May 23rd 2013 by Ever On Word
Genres: fantasy
My Rating: 5 Stars

Catching her leg in a bear trap proves the least of Sula’s worries. Haunted by an enchanted monster from a past she dare not reveal, and hounded by the perilously perceptive young village doctor, Villem Deere, the headstrong girl of the woods gambles with fate by binding hers to that of Sigmund, the captivating orphan boy with mysterious nightly business of his own.
An enchantress’s curse turns a spoiled royal into a beast; a princess’s pricked finger places her under a hundred-year spell; bales of straw are spun as golden as the singing harp whisked down a giant beanstalk – all within sight of Wilderhark, the forest that’s seen it all. You’ve heard the stories – of young men scaling rope-like braids to assist the tower-bound damsel; of gorgeous gowns appearing just in time for a midnight ball; of frog princes, and swan princes, and princes saved from drowning by maidens of the sea. Tales of magic. Tales of adventure. Most of all, tales of true love. Once upon a time, you knew them as fairytales. Know them now as Wilderhark’s.

tumblr_ljldu0Iuvg1qao4gno1_500Here’s a thing you have to know about me to understand my adoration for Danielle E. Shipley’s Wilderhark Tales series: I grew up to walls and walls of fairy tale books. My mother had the most peculiar and most famous fairy tales alike all in one massive bookshelf, and as a child, it was like a towering wall of wonders and magic to little old me. Now, here’s the thing about Shipley as a writer that you need to know: her stories are re-imaginings of fairy tales a la Brothers Grimm, but what makes them stand out from so many other writers that chose to retell tales as old as time is that Shipley manages to draw you into her world from the very first sentence and won’t let go of you until the very last.
The Swan Prince tells the story of two rather peculiar teenage characters, Sula and Sigmund, two orphans looking for an escape from the magic that binds them. Villem Deere, a young doctor, is positively convinced there’s foul play at work when both of them disappear from the village orphanage, and begins to investigate the fantastical chasms that open up along the way for a rather enchanting and off-the-charts reveal (that I didn’t see coming, even though I knew it was coming, if that even makes sense, ha!)
wilderhark1While the words I’d use to describe Shipley’s writing would be in the likes of wonderful, magical, bewitching and luminescent, her characters – while meeting all those definitions, too – shine. Sula, for one, is an incredible dauntless, fierce, lonely and dainty character all at the same time, and I’m using these in nothing but a positive connotation. What I love about Sula was that she was likeable and unlikable, an arbitrary young girl, a human being. She wasn’t this absolute or that, she was simply real, which made her incredible. While Sigmund started out as the mysteriously charming male opposite, Villem stole the show for me because I had no idea what to expect from him. I didn’t know what kind of fairy tale role he’d eventually take on because he was just so peculiar, and while his point of view was super entertaining to read because I imagined him as this über-curious, weird doctor, I didn’t even notice the moment I fell hopelessly in love with him and began to consider him a friend. Shipley paints real human beings as her characters and writes them in such a way that in spite of their flaws, you begin to immerse yourself in them so much so that you literally whoop! when that off-the-charts reveal takes place by the end. She has an uncanny way to know what you want as a reader, when you don’t even know it yourself. Her characters and world-building make you forget that you know of all the fairy tales, and has you genuinely surprised at all the turns and twists in the story. When I first read The Swan Prince, and I have done so many, many times now, I entirely forgot I knew the stories behind her inspiration. The ending managed to surprise me, even, and it was the most peculiar thing to happen to me in a long time.
Basically, each book of the Wilderhark Tales is an individual pillar in my sanctuary from real-life. Shipley’s words soothe and encourage and paint such a vivid magic that has you escape into her story without much ado other than her terrific writing. Now, I’m not much of a religious person, I’m a very disillusioned-by-the-horrors-of-the-world type of girl, but whenever I pick up The Swan Prince, that part of me disappears and doesn’t come out until I’ve devoured the words cover to cover.
Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetI don’t believe in fate. Not at all. I met Ms. Shipley and her books by way of chance. And every time I pick up a copy for a reread, I can’t help but think that maybe a teeny tiny bit of fate played along anyway, because as a writer, Shipley’s books have saved me countless of times from really bad days with their phantasmal quests and unique action heroes and heroines. They’re little gems in a whole sea of present fairy tale galore, and their magic cannot and shouldn’t be ignored by anyone. They’re escapes from a rather dull and magic-less life, and a book that sucks you in and gives you all the peace in the world for the time you’re reading it is a very powerful book in my opinion. (Danielle, if you’re reading this, please make all your books the length of The Surrogate Sea from now on so that I can bask in them a little bit longer.



So, I’m still here.

I am so, so sorry I haven’t been updating, but my Macbook’s been down and out for a while now and I haven’t had time to replace it. After my music final on Tuesday, I’ll be updating a whole bunch of stuff (wrap-ups, reviews I’ve written but haven’t gotten to format on here, random book thought posts, you get the gist). I can’t wait to get back to blogging, please bare with me until my last exam is finally over! 🙂

STACKING THE SHELVES (#12): April 21-27

Wow, it’s been another pitiful week and my sad, sad Stacking of the Shelves saga continues. It seems like all I spend money on these days are uni course books. Ugh. I’m finishing up a huge presentation that has kept me from reading for the the past THREE WEEKS and once that is done tomorrow, I will get all those reviews I wrote up and scheduled. Sigh. I can’t wait. Anyway, here’s the three books that I managed to buy that didn’t have anything to do with Mozart or discourse analysis or whatever uni has in store for me ALL. THE. FREAKING. TIME. I hope you guys had a lot more time to enjoy your lovely books than me this week! Cheers!


The D.U.F.F. by Kody Keplinger


Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, Half Bad by Sally Green

COVER REVEAL: LUX – Beginnings by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I’m super excited to take part in the cover reveal for the upcoming two new Lux series book bundles BEGINNINGS (featuring Obsidian and Onyx) and CONSEQUENCES (featuring Opal and Origin) by Jennifer L. Armentrout. This rainy Monday morning, the new cover treatment for LUX: BEGINNINGS makes getting up and ready a hell of a lot easier for bookworms around. Even though nothing could possibly ever be as beautiful as Pepe Toth as Daemon Black on the cover, I just adore the new overall theme! I’m also super stoked for the new bonus content that is included! Be sure to mark your calendars for June 3 for both box sets to release through Entangled Teen! (I’ve already preordered both sets even though I already own the original releases, oh well, can’t blame a fangirl, right?)


LUX: BEGINNINGS Official Release Info

Lux Beginnings cover 2

There’s an alien next door. And with his looming height and eerie green eyes, he’s hot…until he opens his mouth. He’s infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, he lights me up with a big fat bulls-eye. Turns out he has a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal his abilities and the only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to him until my alien mojo fades. If I don’t kill him first, that is.

Daemon’s determined to prove what he feels for me is more than a product of our bizarro alien connection. So I’ve sworn him off, even though he’s running more hot than cold these days. But we’ve got bigger problems. I’ve seen someone who shouldn’t be alive. And I have to tell Daemon, even though I know he’s never going to stop searching until he gets the truth. What happened to his brother? Who betrayed him? And what does the DOD want from them—from me?






JLA author photo# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell, Loki.
Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.


The One Where I Realize Why Books Mean So Much To Me… Because of IKEA

Guys, after probably a century of me complaining about how I never seem to have a place to put my books, my parents have surprised me with three IKEA Billy bookshelves over the last weekend. I was pretty speechless to see them be put up in my room, taking up an entire wall, and I went on a rearranging spree that lasted a week. Yup.

An entire. Freaking. Week.

First there’s the fact I am so overly OCD when it comes to my books that I refused to put them on the new shelves without properly sanitizing and cleaning them, then I had to check for uneven parts or wood splinters so that my books wouldn’t suffer the terrible fate of ripped paper, and then of course I had to decide in which way to arrange them. First I did the whole A to Z thing and became frustrated with it because my favourites ended up at the bottom, then I went for the favourites on top, the rest at the bottom thing, and damn, that didn’t work because I couldn’t seem to properly fit the books into the shelves. Then I tried the whole genre order and that didn’t work out at all, well, because some books aren’t meant to be categorized like that. And that’s when I had an existential crisis over what to do without hurting my books so much.

And then I realized something.

I needed help. I seriously needed help.

Or maybe I just realized why I lost myself in books so excessively in the past year. Or why books mean so much to me in general.

The thing is, my books aren’t just books to me, they’ve been my dearest friends in this past year and as long as I can remember, keeping me company, helping me grieve and cry, making me laugh, just generally being my life line during difficult times, and I realized that I had started to not even touch them out of fear I was ruining a cover here or there. And that’s ridiculous. The things you love, you’re afraid to hurt, but damn, my books are my life, and they need to be reassured that I love them (sort of, I’m being metaphorically here, I’m not THAT crazy… maybe). And it’s bullshit to coddle them because they’re not only made to be looked at but to be held and flicked through, and it’s something I hadn’t done in a long time. I had stopped enjoying books the way I used to because of something as superficial as the packaging. I tried to keep my books in this pristine other place where I also wanted to keep myself safe in, and I realized that I didn’t want that escape anymore, I wanted to start roughing them up a bit, even if it only meant putting them out of their comfort zone and having a crease or a tear here and there or having them randomly rearranged on new shelves. The funny thing is, when my friends tell me they’re “just books”, they don’t always realize how right and wrong they are at the same time. Because the packaging, sure, that can be “just”, but the words and what they give you simply never can’t. And what I realized was that my books will always reflect the emotional state I am in, which makes them a whole lot more valuable to others as well. My mum quickly realized I was having a hard time dealing with my grief when I started being so compulsive when it came to my physical copies, only I didn’t realize for myself until those bookshelves started to make me panic over rearrangement only and I actually had a crying fit over it.

photo-1 Kopie

So upon that realization, I put them in a random order, and saw that it was the best decision I could’ve made, because the entire bookshelf now looks like me. It’s the one thing where when I look at it, I see myself in it. It’s a little messy, it’s a little OCD when it comes to some hardcovers, but it’s me. And it lets my books and myself breathe, somehow. There’s nothing worse than putting restrictions on the things you love, or the people you love, so I’ve made the decision to stop with it altogether, and just enjoy my physical copies again. Because, frankly, I hadn’t for a long time, and I felt stupid for it. I was so anxious to ruin the covers or the binding that I would only ever read in bed, after I washed my hands, and wouldn’t even eat or drink near any of the books in fear of staining them. My sister never cared about the covers or how they looked, she always only cared about the words, and I want to get back to that. I need to find a balance that will still have me wash my hands, but not lose it over the fact there’s a tiny bump in this or that cover, or there’s a little crease in this or that. I might even start eating while reading again.

I think what started it was the fact that I never had to care about any of my OCD behaviour when it came to eBooks, and the iPad was always like a stronghold around the words, and I realized that even though a lot of people seem to think that eBooks will be the death of physical copies, I don’t think so at all. My eReader has helped me come to terms with my sometimes incredibly stupid reading habits, and has made me appreciate real books even more because they are, among other things, beautiful to look at. As much as my sister didn’t care about coffee or chocolate stains, it’s also okay to do care to the extend where you still enjoy the books and not have them become a reason for anxiety. Books were made to be enjoyed, in all forms, and I won’t put so much pressure on myself and their up-keeping anymore. I will read both versions, and enjoy them both for different reasons. But no more clincical conditions when it comes to my books and my life. What my iPad has given me is the opportunity to find that balance in my reading habits again, because I can have my clean physical copies on the shelves as well as my eBook copies to read on the bus, but I can stop being too uptight over my books because, after all, they’re real and beautiful, and some battle scars can’t be avoided. Can’t with the reader, can’t with the books.

Now, this blog post has been a random assortment of thoughts I’ve had over the past couple of days, and while I think books are there to escape life, they should also inspire you to go out there and experience it, and now that they’ve given me escape for the longest time, they have now given me the encouragement to get out of my comfort zone more often, to let go of some of the anxiety and panic I’ve had over all sorts of things, and just be for a little while. And I don’t think anyone has ever given me that much shelter or freedom or choice in my life before, not even my parents or my best friends. There are no expectations with the stories we love, and I put expectations on them the minute I started OCDing when it came to my library, which, looking back, feels wrong. When some of my friends tell me they’re “just books”, I always tell them they’re really therapy. They understand me, they make me feel, they inspire me. And they also help me see things from a new perspective, and help me move on. And I hadn’t really realized that for a long time.

On a final note, I feel even closer to my little library now than I did before, even though it’s not perfect. And as crazy as this entire post sounds and as little sense as it might make to you, it was pretty cathartic and freeing to write.

LOVE-A-THON: Book Spine Poetry!

I LOVE book spine poetry! I do this every time I get a chance to rearrange my shelves or just every time I’ve got a couple of minutes to spare, because it’s so much fun! You have to create a poem by only using spines of books that you own, and you get the most awesome, most hilarious or weirdest results out of it! Naturally, this LOVE-A-THON mini-challenge #1 couldn’t have been better suited to my little guilty pleasure hobby! So this is what I came up with in between getting home from dinner with my lighthouse and getting ready for bed! Huzza! This one is a little bizarre piece on nightmares.


Never have I ever
Forgiven dark dreams of beast and beauty
These broken stars unravel me
Pivot point, breaking point
Perfect ruin


LOVE-A-THON INTERVIEW (PART 2): Creeping with the lovely Danielle E. Shipley!


When I signed up for the Book Blogger Love-A-Thon hosted by Alexa Loves Books and Tales of Books and Bands I was anxious to say the least since I had only started blogging for real with the start of the New Year, so naturally I was terrified of being partnered with someone who was going to think I was a poor excuse for a blogger because I hadn’t been around for a whole lot of time. Which was completely unjustified because I’d only had great experiences with other bloggers so far, but yeah, I felt inadequate. I still wanted to do this so badly though because I loved the entire concept so much.

And then I got the lovely Danielle E. Shipley for an interview partner, and I was so, so relieved, because she wasn’t just super easy to talk to and a genuine partner-in-crime, but her blog kept me up two nights in a row just creeping, creeping, creeping, as you do.

Enough with my little introduction though, here is part 2 to our little interaction, which could’ve easily gone on and on if you’d asked me. It got a little out of hand with the word count, but I’m just so happy to have “met” Danielle. Couldn’t have asked for anyone better, really. Enough with the cheesefactor, check out her blog (for part 1 of the interview and more awesomesauce) by clicking below and be sure to take a look at her pretty wicked books on Goodreads by clicking here! Hope you enjoy the second part of our chat! 🙂


And now on with the shenanigans!

photo-1 Kopie


Holden, you need to set a date with Danielle! You two need to get acquainted ASAP!

BOOK MARAUDER: NANO, whoop-whoop! We can be each other’s cheerleaders, come November!
I haven’t yet listened to the “X-Men: First Class” music apart from the movie, but even while I’m busy staring at James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender being awesome (and never mind staring at Jennifer Lawrence, can’t we just hang out and be friends already?), the quality of the music is apparent. Magneto’s theme, man! It excites me every time!
I forgive your delay in answering. I knew it was an unfair question when I asked it, so I fully accept the consequences. Nobody throw anything at me, but I haven’t read “The Catcher in the Rye”; it didn’t make it onto my school reading list. (And before anyone goes, “Oh, boo, the homeschooler got away with no required reading!” bear in mind that I still had to put up with “Great Expectations” and “The House of the Seven Gables”, so hush.) But Gandalf and Gansey I have met, and I approve. (My copy of “Dream Thieves” should be arriving in the mail any day now, squee! Jolly good thing, since it’ll be almost a year before the next “Hobbit” movie hits theaters. *sobs*)


It can’t be a coincidence Danielle writes spins on fairy tales when all I’ve been obsessed with lately have been fairy tale retellings! Match. Made. In. Heaven. You. Guys.

EVER ON WORD: Where do I even start to answer this? (And where do I go from there? And where do I finish?) Probably the hardest part is figuring out who they are. I’ll usually start out having an idea of what I want them to do for the story, but until I know them — know their reasons behind the choices that keep the story moving — they won’t feel real to me. So I have to spend my pre-writing time (and maybe the first few chapters, though gosh knows there’s no end to when they can still surprise me) figuring out what makes these people tick. What gets a reaction out of them, and what that reaction is. Why they’ll put up with this or won’t put up with that. Where their breaking point lies. (*cough* When do I get to make them cry? *cough*) If I can get a preliminary handle on that, then the rest is just letting them go about their business in the plot I build around them.
(Pretty sure books don’t attack. The characters therein, on the other hand… Well, some of them can get nasty. You might wanna sleep with a baseball bat tonight. Just to play it safe.)
Okay. We’re gonna get radical and actually talk about blogging for a sec, here. (Cuh-RAZY.) To date, what stands out to you as your favorite blogging moment?

BOOK MARAUDER: I love that you said “letting them go about their business in the plot I build around them” because that’s really spot on what makes me truly love a character. If s/he is a trope or just a plot agent, I just can’t connect with them and get super irritated with them. I know there have to be that kind of characters, but they ultimately never affect me like the three dimensional, real ones.
(High Five for getting through The House of Seven Gables unscathed, my friend! I’ve been reading that one for 3 years… :D)
OKAY I’M DOWN WITH RADICAL (I also need to stop using caps lock so much!)
I think my favorite was posting that first book review, because it started it. I haven’t been blogging for long, but I’ve been secretly hiding in the community for a couple of years and yeah, I have to admit I was super scared to get going because it appears quite daunting at first. It’s so big and everyone’s got their friends already. I’ve met and got to know so many amazing people in a short span of time and it’s just nice to contribute and not be “silent”, I guess. It’s so easy with people that share the same passions, and I love to be a part of it. It’s nice to get “home” to at the end of the day, just firing up that laptop and actually talking to the people that run my favorite blogs as opposed to just skulking (I am not a creeper tho hehe).
Now that we’re talking about blogging, what’s your favorite part about it? You’ve been blogging for a lot longer, have you noticed aspects that you don’t enjoy as much as others?

EVER ON WORD: Yeah, I’ve found the same thing re: flat/real characters. Sometimes you can tell that the author’s strength doesn’t lie with the care and keeping of characters; maybe they’re clever at plot-creation or have a stylish way with words — two by no means unimportant skills to have — but if the characters don’t grab, the rest of the book probably won’t, so that’s long been my focus in writing.
(I don’t know if the fact that I had to listen to “House of the Seven Gables” on audiobook made the experience better or worse. I still had to pay attention during car rides to various extracurricular lessons, but at least it didn’t give me the opportunity to slack off and drag things out.)
Internet friends are AWESOME! (Caps lock solidarity, yo.) I’m not big into this whole “leaving the house” thing that a lot of people like to do, so it’s easier for me to stay in touch with people if we’re all hanging around the same sites. …even if I am frequently a creeper. My confidence to just jump into other peoples’ conversations goes in waves. Sometimes I’m just like, “Somebody mention this thing?! THIS THING, love/hate that!” Other times I start to type like three different comments, delete them all, and slink away, like, “Nobody’s interested in hearing that. Leave them to their fun.” Social anxiety; whee, yay. 😛
My favorite part of blogging: That moment of anticipation when I’ve just finished putting together a post that really tickles me for whatever reason (I’ve gotten good at amusing myself) and I can’t wait to share it with everybody! My least favorite part: When the post doesn’t seem to get much of a reaction. : ( I expect I’ve got lurkers off being entertained in a private corner somewhere, but if I can’t see the reaction, the sensitive artist in me assumes that nobody cares about me and kind of wants to go sit in a graveyard until death takes me. Yes, Sensitive Artist Me is that dramatic.
But lest this interview take too much of a downward turn, let me ask you this: Would you rather be an expert swordsman or archer? (Or do you think another weapon altogether wins in the category of utter coolness?)


Legolas just looks so good at it. I wouldn’t. Trust me. Let’s all just enjoy the beauty that is Orlando Bloom above.

BOOK MARAUDER: (I am so relieved I’m not the only lurker, because I totally do the exact same things ahahaha) I always get so excited when I write a review and think it’s a good one and then I have to schedule it instead of posting it right away, it drives me crazy not to share it immediately. (Let me give your sensitive self some chocolate, I feel you.)
Okay, I’d totally go for being an expert swordsman because I am so bad under pressure, and having to shoot things from a distance ahead of everyone else would WRECK me. (I feel very, very weird right now because I immediately pictured myself in that warg-battle in The Two Towers as Legolas and saw myself fail epically) So yeah, swordswoman would be pretty badass. And I would name it Meryl, because it would be the best sword ever.
I like this turn of events, so who’s your favorite literary heroine? Why? Can you picture yourself in her shoes?


If you haven’t read this, do so NOW! These books are hilarious and awesome, and the film wasn’t all that bad, either.

EVER ON WORD: (Hee-hee-hee, let’s be total creepers at stare at people together…while wearing trenchcoats and fedoras! Even if nobody notices us, it will be completely hilarious.)
Swooords! Yeah, there was really no wrong answer, there; I love swords and bows both. Would die if I tried to fight with either of ’em, but that’s all on me. (Your Legolas and my Aragon could doublehandedly doom the free people’s of Middle Earth. -_- ) Ooh, and you’re right, one’s trusty sword must be named. I’ve gotten so bad about naming things, lately. I used to do it for everything, first thing, but then I got old and nitpicky and perfect names can be so hard to find.
Now, then. My favorite literary heroine. This could take a sec; I’m usually too busy crushing on the dudes to notice… If we’re talking fave heroines who fall into the “hysterically funny yet reeeally bad role model” category, that would be Georgia from Louise Rennison’s “Confessions of Georgia Nicholson” series (aka YA British comedy at its finest). She’s utterly self-absorbed and entirely over-dramatic, which makes for the kind of diary entries I wish I could think to write. (Would anyone find my journal that funny, I wonder? Doubtful. I don’t tend to get my best rants on paper.) I think one of my many “sides of self” is a daft British teenager, so I can identify with her all too well. Now that I think of it, that may be kind of a pattern with me and the girl characters who stick out to me: I see a lot of myself in them, and that’s not necessarily a good thing, but it is what it is, and it can be darn entertaining.
Oh, wow, would you look at the word-count! Paragraphs fly when you’re having fun, which I certainly have been. Thanks for dialoguing with me, Mara; I’ve enjoyed getting to know you!

BOOK MARAUDER: We can totally be British teenagers together, I loved Georgia when I was sixteen. I read the books when I was doing work placement in London and damn, I really enjoyed her. I also love heroines that are more like me, no surprises here. Because with all the Katnisses of the world, I’m like “ahahaha I would’ve died in four seconds” and probably would’ve died from anxiety attacks before anything had happened. Which isn’t all that funny, but oh well. Let’s be daft British teenagers together, please. I will be your wing woman! (Who doesn’t obsess over the guys more though? I wonder how it is with male readers, if they like the heroines better or pay more attention to them in general. Hmmm. I love books that make me fall in love with the girls. Sigh. They are really rare. It always makes me do a happy dance chanting “yes, I found a gem!”)
I must say the pleasure has been all mine (this sounds naughty, am I the only one?) It’s always pretty amazing to see how easy it is to talk to fellow book lovers/writers/bloggers. I was really scared to sign up but honestly, I wish there would’ve been more time (the word count is nuts already BUT I JUST DON’T CARE). Thanks so much! I had such a great time getting to know you! (Now let me go finish The Swan Prince – I am such a creeper, yikes :D)

EVER ON WORD: Aye, books with fall-in-loveable girl are a gem. Much like finding a friend in a randomly-paired interview. ;-D This isn’t the last you’ll hear of me, gal! (And I look forward to hearing your thoughts on my “Swan Prince”! – squee!)

BOOK MARAUDER: Haha you’re going to wish you would’ve seen the last of me because your Twitter will never be safe again! Just letting you know!