January 20, 2022

BOOK TOUR: Contest of Queens by Jordan H. Bartlett


Hi all! I'm pleased to be hosting a stop on TBR and Beyond Tours Blog Tour for Contest of Queens by Jordan H. Bartlett. In addition to sharing my review of the book, I've also shared some of my favorite quotes. Please note - while I have multiple favorite quotes from the book, I've done my best to only share those that are not a spoiler risk. 

Be sure to check out the other tour host's pages as well and show them some love. The link to the schedule is below. 

About the Book

In a Queendom divided, can one girl unite the realms?

Jacs, an inventor’s apprentice from the Lower Realm, has only ever dreamed of the land among the clouds. That is until she finds a letter from Connor, an Upperite boy who sends a wooden boat into the abyss, hoping to learn more about the land below. Little does Jacs know, Connor is actually Prince Cornelius of the Queendom of Frea. With wooden boats and hot air balloons, the two begin a secret correspondence. But their friendship is impeded by a heavily-guarded bridge and an inescapable prejudice.

Their bond transcends distance and time, but when the royal family visits Jacs’ town of Bridgeport, the illusion of peace between the Realms dissolves, and the old feud is reignited.

Now, to save her people, Jacs must infiltrate the Upper Realm and earn her place to compete in the Contest of Queens. She must learn how to survive against the contests’ grueling tasks and within a political web she could not have imagined. In a story about friendship, love, bravery, and defying gravity, Jacs will strive to prove that a Queendom is strongest when united.

Buy the book! 

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound Bookshop.org | Libro.fm

REVIEW and FAVORITE QUOTES for Contest of Queens by Jordan H. Bartlett
Rating: 4 Stars
Release Date: January 18, 2022
Format: Physical ARC
Publisher: CamCat Publishing

Readers who pick up Contest of Queens by Jordan H. Bartlett can expect a fun fantasy adventure with engaging characters and a dynamic world. While the book is undoubtedly entertaining, there is also some education to be had as Ms. Bartlett addresses some of the issues our world faces today through the reflection of the world from her imagination.  If you enjoy fantasy reads from authors like Tamora Pierce or Brandon Sanderson, then I have a feeling that you’ll like Contest of Queens

One day while she’s out trying to catch some fish, Jacs ( a “Lowrian”, or citizen of the lower realm of Frea) comes across a small boat in the water. It contains a message from Connor, a citizen of the Upper Realms (who is secretly the prince). After she responds to him using a hot air balloon, they set up a system to send letters back and forth between the realms. Connor and Jacs subsequently spend years secretly corresponding with each other. They never actually expect to meet, but their paths are inevitably drawn together after the queen is killed, and Jacs enters the contest to decide who the next ruler of the realm of Frea will be.  

It was interesting how Ms. Bartlett flipped normal gender roles on their head in the book. While the world in Contest of Queens is undoubtedly one of female empowerment, it doesn’t stray too far towards ultra feminism or misandry (A word I had to look up for the purpose of this review; essentially the opposite of “misogyny” and indicates an ingrained prejudice against men). My favorite quote from the book addresses the issue of reversed gender roles; “Only those who could create life could be trusted with the burden of extinguishing it”. I felt this was a really interesting concept to center the matriarchal society around. 

Jacs and Connor are both endearing characters, and I enjoyed seeing them learn about things through the other’s eyes. This is evidenced in the quote where Jacs remarks “Through Connor’s eyes her life had taken on a shimmer, an almost glamorous sheen. He found even the most mundane of things, like milking Brindle, to be worthy of her one or two paragraphs of explanation.” You can’t help but root for both of them after reading stuff like this. In the development of their relationship, it was evident that friendship was the focus. Romance didn’t come into the picture till much later (which I appreciated given their young age at the start of the story). One of my biggest takeaways from witnessing Jacs and Connor’s friendship (as well as reading the book as a whole) was the importance of remembering that you don’t have to sacrifice kindness in the name of strength. You can be both strong and kind. In my opinion, sometimes one demonstrates strength by being kind and there were multiple instances in the book where characters did just that. 

Overall, Contest of Queens is an exciting new young adult fantasy, and I’m eager to read more from this author in the future. The timeline does jump around a bit, but it’s fairly easy to follow for those who are paying attention. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy reading about fierce heroines, imaginative new worlds, and an engaging storyline. While it is aimed at the young adult audience, I think it would be equally suitable for mature middle-grade fantasy readers. 

Thank you to the author, CamCat Publishing, the Team at TBR and Beyond Tours, and Edelweiss for allowing me to read a complimentary review copy of the book as part of my participation in this tour. I appreciate the opportunity immensely. Please note - I voluntarily read and reviewed Contest of Queens. All opinions expressed in the review are my own and not influenced in any way. 

About the Author

Jordan H. Bartlett is a New Zealand-born, Canadian Citizen with a love for children’s literature and female empowerment. She grew up reading books about boys for boys and found it hard to find a strong female heroine she could relate to. Bartlett wrote Contest of Queens to give young readers that character she so longed for in a world where gender norms are reversed. Bartlett currently resides in Banff, Alberta where she works as a Speech Language Pathologist and is a certified yoga instructor.

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