Posts Categorized: Book Review

While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft | Book Review

July 19, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 3 ½

While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft | Book ReviewWhile You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft
Published by Bookouture on November 16, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 326
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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0.5 Stars
You wake up to find the man beside you is dead.
He is not your husband. This is not your bed.
What do you do?


Tara Logan lives a quiet life with her husband, Noah, and two children, teenager Rosie and eleven-year-old Spencer.

But her peace is shattered when she wakes in her neighbor Lee’s bed, with no memory of how she got there or what happened between them.

And worse – he has been stabbed to death.

Convinced she didn’t kill Lee, Tara stays silent, fearing the truth will rip her family apart.

But as her daughter spirals out of control, and her husband becomes increasingly distant, Tara soon realises that someone in her life knows what really happened to Lee. She must get to the truth before they do.

Tara made a mistake … but will one night cost her everything?

A gripping, shocking psychological thriller, with a twist that will take you by surprise.

Will engross fans of Gone Girl, Behind Closed Doors, and The Girl on the Train.

I love mysteries and thrillers, especially when lack of memory is involved, so I was really excited about the synopsis of this book. But seriously. When a book actually tells you on the back cover that it is a gripping, shocking story with a twist that will take you by surprise… and then compares itself to some of the most well-known and well-loved thrillers (Gone Girl and Girl On the Train), then it better be ready to deliver something phenomenal. I went into this holding this book to the standards that it told me to, and I was severely disappointed in what I read.

I absolutely hate this author’s writing style. It doesn’t flow at all. The storytelling felt very choppy and followed the formula of: this happened, then this happened, then this character thought this thing, then here’s a whammy (I hope you’re shocked and surprised). It was just bad. There was no atmosphere of suspense or wondering. I felt like I was reading a list instead of a book, and I had a very hard time forcing myself to read a book that claims it is unputdownable.

So many things happened that were just too convenient and too outlandish. The author wanted x, y, and z to happen and as long as they happened she didn’t care how she got it done. I could not believe some of the things Tara did, I could not believe the multiple stalkings and crimes that happened to multiple members of the family, and I could not believe the interactions between some of the characters. The police officer/detective guy was an absolute idiot, and is not at all what law enforcement officials should be like. Actually, I hated all the characters. The insane daughter was super annoying, Tara was a poor excuse for a mother, and the husband was absolutely worthless and made some horrible decisions (everyone did, really). I did like Tara’s son who should move away from that dysfunctional family as soon as possible.

These so-called “twists” were just irritating. I was never surprised or impressed or flipping the pages as fast as I could to see how they turned out. I rolled my eyes every time. Apparently a twist can only happen if the main character has an ominous feeling first, which is just not how life works and took away whatever suspense might have been left in this drab and empty plot.

All in all, this book is an extreme waste of time and the more I reflect on my reading experience the madder I get about it. It’s not gripping, it’s not suspenseful, it’s not mind-blowing, and it does not keep you guessing. If you’re looking for a good psychological thriller I can recommend others that you would enjoy much more.


Shark Island by Chris Jameson | Mini Book Review

July 14, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 1 ½

Shark Island by Chris Jameson | Mini Book ReviewShark Island by Chris Jameson
Published by St Martin's Paperbacks on June 27, 2017
Genres: Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
0.5 Stars
A shark attack survivor believes she has already lived through her worst nightmare. She's dead wrong. . .

Naomi Cardiff is not one to give up without a fight and now, after learning about a series of shark attacks in Cape Cod, she s joined a team of scientists to put a stop to the terror. The plan: to lure the sharks to a remote island far from the populated coastline. Meanwhile, a fierce Nor Easter is underway. . .

In the midst of the storm, an alarming number of Great Whites have come to slaughter the seals in a vicious feeding frenzy. When sharks ram and breach the hull, Naomi and her team must jump ship and swim desperately through a sea of circling fins and gaping jaws to the tiny island. But as the swells from the storm begin to swallow their rocky refuge, how will they manage to make it out alive?

I don’t know what it is about shark stories, but I gobble them up. I love the movies Jaws and The Shallows, and I love Shark Week… Sharks are just my thing. Unfortunately, it takes a lot to not make a shark story come off as outlandish and stupid. And this is how Shark Island turned out for me. I allow a LOT with books like these, but I just could not with this one.

The entire store was very unbelievable. The entire premise was to lure the sharks away from Cape Cod by broadcasting a signal that turned the seals into robots who could no longer think and act on their own, regardless of the danger they were in. This signal also turned the sharks into vicious killing machines with a revenge complex. It just seems far too outlandish. I was bored for the first half until the characters actually become stranded, and then I spent the second half rolling my eyes. I didn’t like any of the characters, and found their backstories very boring and drawn out. There was an INSANE amount of profanity and gory, bloody shark attacks. Sharks were flying out of the water and snapping bodies in half with one bite, sending all kinds of carnage and refuse into the water. There was so much blood that people were feeling the water temperature rise. It was just too much gore, too much profanity, too unbelievable, and too over the top dramatic and theatrical for me. I’m willing to suspend disbelief, but this was gratuitously silly and I’m irritated I made myself finish it. lol


Stars Above by Marissa Meyer | Book Review

July 11, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 1 ★★★★★

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer | Book ReviewStars Above by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #4.5
Also in this series: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, Winter
Published by Feiwel and Friends on February 2, 2016
Genres: Dystopia, Retelling, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 369
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought from Amazon
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5 Stars
The enchantment continues....

The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?

With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.
--
The Little Android: A retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles.
Glitches: In this prequel to Cinder, we see the results of the plague play out, and the emotional toll it takes on Cinder. Something that may, or may not, be a glitch….
The Queen’s Army: In this prequel to Scarlet, we’re introduced to the army Queen Levana is building, and one soldier in particular who will do anything to keep from becoming the monster they want him to be.
Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky: Thirteen-year-old Carswell Thorne has big plans involving a Rampion spaceship and a no-return trip out of Los Angeles.
The Keeper: A prequel to the Lunar Chronicles, showing a young Scarlet and how Princess Selene came into the care of Michelle Benoit.
After Sunshine Passes By: In this prequel to Cress, we see how a nine-year-old Cress ended up alone on a satellite, spying on Earth for Luna.
The Princess and the Guard: In this prequel to Winter, we see a game called The Princess.
The Mechanic: In this prequel to Cinder, we see Kai and Cinder’s first meeting from Kai’s perspective.
Something Old, Something New: In this epilogue to Winter, friends gather for the wedding of the century...

I’ve never been a huge fan of the novellas that accompany full length novels. I rarely, rarely read them unless I love the world and the characters so much that I absolutely cannot let a story of theirs go unread. This was the case for Stars Above. I love The Lunar Chronicles so much that I wanted to know everything about everyone in them. The more info, the better! I knew about all the novellas as they were released, and I even got some of them on Kindle. I was never full motivated to read them, though, until I found out they were all being released together in a hardback bundle. It was then that I knew things were getting serious. I was also super heartbroken that the series was ending, so having another set of stories to anticipate helped me recover after finishing Winter, which I loved so much. Some of these stories really shine, whereas others were just ok for me.

My favorite story was Something Old, Something New, which is the epilogue to Winter. There’s a wedding of one of my favorite couples from the series, and oh the feels. I loved it. I also liked seeing Cinder and Kai’s first meeting in The Mechanic. And I love Thorne so much, so obviously I loved seeing a teenaged Thorne dream of his future in Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky. Oh, and I loved The Keeper! I loved learning about Cinder’s and Scarlet’s beginnings and Michelle’s part in all this. Several of the stories were quite sad, including Glitches and The Queen’s Army. They always say that heroes gain heroism by channeling their heartbreaking pasts, and that is clearly evident through these stories.

Really, I just loved the small snapshots into the pasts and side stories of the characters I’ve grown to love so much. This entire book, but mostly the epilogue, was a really special way to say goodbye to my favorite crew in the sky. I finished the series in January of last year, and read this book last summer, but I still can’t stop thinking about and missing these crazies and their shenanigans and intense love for one another. I think I need to re-read the entire series soon. I need to go back to the happy place that is the universe of the Lunar Chronicles.

How do you feel about companion novellas in series like this one?
If you’ve read these ones, which was your favorite?


The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry | Mini Book Review

July 6, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 0 ★★

The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry | Mini Book ReviewThe Girl I Used to Be by April Henry
Published by Christy Ottaviano Books on May 3, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 240
Format: Audiobook
Source: From the Publisher
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2 Stars
When Olivia's mother was killed, everyone suspected her father of murder. But his whereabouts remained a mystery. Fast forward fourteen years. New evidence now proves Olivia's father was actually murdered on the same fateful day her mother died. That means there's a killer still at large. It's up to Olivia to uncover who that may be. But can she do that before the killer tracks her down first?

Ok… I think I’ve officially given up on April Henry. This is my third book from her and I haven’t liked any of them. I’m honestly surprised that I’ve given her books this many chances, although they are usually very short and very fast reads, so maybe I keep trying because her books are easy to get through if I’m behind on my Goodreads goal. Wow. That sounds harsh. And don’t get me wrong, I think young teens might really enjoy them. I just think they read a little younger than most YA mysteries I’ve read and loved over the years (like Dangerous Girls, for example).

I feel like there was not much thought put into this story. Things seemed very flat, and the characters all very shell-like… the kind of stock characters that get thrown into stories to fill roles but not connect with you or make you feel anything. The story itself was not suspenseful or exciting, and the anticlimactic ending left me wondering why I even bothered wasting my time. Everything that did happen felt very convenient, as though there was a checklist of things that needed to happen for the book to end when it was time to end. Many things felt unbelievable to me as well. A 17 year old doesn’t just move herself into a new town and start interrogating all these strangers about the intimate details of the lives of her murdered parents without raising some suspicion. Why did these people even talk to her at all, much less tell her the things that they did? I don’t understand. Everything ended so quickly, but nothing was really explained. Rather than tying up loose ends and explaining why things happened, the author cut those loose ends off bluntly and chose to not explain anything at all. It could have been better. Maybe not much better, but almost anything would have been better than what I got.

So… Goodbye, April Henry. I had such high hopes for finding a YA author that writes a ton of mysteries because I LOVE THEM, but unfortunately I’ll have to keep looking for an author that puts a little more thought into their stories. I did like the appeal of Henry’s short mysteries because sometimes I just want a quick escape, but I’d rather read a longer novel that is more complex, more thought out, less convenient, and more exciting.


Nimona by Noelle Stevenson | Mini Book Review

July 3, 2017 Book Review, Graphic Novel, Young Adult 1 ★★★★★

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson | Mini Book ReviewNimona by Noelle Stevenson
Published by HarperCollins on May 12, 2015
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gift from Secret Sister
AmazonBarnes & Noble Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren't the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona's powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

I’d never ever been interested in graphic novels. Sadly, I fell prey to the assumptions that come with the word “graphic”. Instead of pictorial representations of stories, I was thinking “graphic” in the negative context, so I never felt inclined to pick one up. I was also convinced that there was no way I’d be reading an actual story with any depth to it. I’ve always assumed that stories took back seats to the illustrations as far as graphic novels are concerned. I’d been seeing so many friends fall in love with spunky heroine Nimona, however, that I decided I’d trust them and give it a go!  Nimona may have been my first graphic novel, but it certainly will not be my last!

Nimona was a fast and entertaining read. I really liked the illustrations for the most part, and Nimona’s snarky, take-no-crap attitude was very refreshing and also hilarious. I liked her a lot. The story, which centers on villainous shenanigans, was deep enough that I felt like it was an actual story and not a series of pow!s, bam!s, and zap!s, but not so deep that it was too complicated to illustrate. You can’t expect the amount of depth from a graphic novel that you can from a 500-page fantasy, but I did feel like this story had enough meat to it that it will stick with me.

I’m so glad I gave Nimona a try! I can tell that I will never prefer graphic novels to traditional novels, but it’s so nice to add some variety to my to-be-read list. Sometimes I like something a little fluffier or something that can distract me for a day, and that’s why I’ve come to appreciate graphic novels. It also helps that I’m artsy. lol. I think Nimona was a great gateway graphic novel for me. I enjoyed the characters, the story, the storytelling, the illustrations, and the kind of book I could read very quickly and enjoy over the course of a few hours. It reminded me of watching a movie, and that was very fun for me.


Beautiful Storm by Barbara Freethy | DNF Book Thoughts

May 23, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 2 DNF

Beautiful Storm by Barbara Freethy | DNF Book ThoughtsBeautiful Storm by Barbara Freethy
Series: Lightning Strikes #1
Published by Hyde Street Press on October 1, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Mystery, Romance, Romantic Suspense, Suspense
Pages: 321
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
Amazon Add to Goodreads
DNF Stars
When her father's plane mysteriously disappeared in the middle of an electrical storm, Alicia Monroe became obsessed with lightning. Now a news photographer in Miami, Alicia covers local stories by day and chases storms at night. In a flash of lightning, she sees what appears to be a murder, but when she gets to the scene, there is no body, only a military tag belonging to Liliana Valdez, a woman who has been missing for over a year. While the police use the tag to jumpstart their stalled investigation, Alicia sets off on her own to find the missing woman. Her search takes her into the heart of Miami's Cuban-American community where she meets the attractive but brooding Michael Cordero, who has his own demons to vanquish. Soon Alicia and Michael are not just trying to save Liliana's life but also their own, as someone will do anything to protect a dark secret…

So… There are TONS of Barbara Freethy books out there and I’ve always been intrigued. Many of the story lines sound good, and I’ve collected her titles as I’ve seen them show up for free on Amazon. I had a hankering for a little romantic suspense and was eager to finally see if Freethy is an author for me. And… nope. She’s not.

The mysticism of the lightning was just a bit too over the top for me. The lightning calls Alicia to it because it wants to show her something? No… And I did not like the relationship between the two main characters. Plus, how dumb is Alicia? Michael is a person of interest in this case. He’s a suspect with a troubled past and a reputation. She has known him for a few hours and all of a sudden wants to shove herself into his life and his family to try and find his missing friend. She FLIES with him to Texas and stays in an ADJOINING ROOM after knowing him for like 12 hours. WHAT. She also has no problems at all voicing her opinions to his family and his friend’s family about things she has no right knowing about, much less has the ability to know about. She’s been a part of this case for a few HOURS and does not know anyone involved. They have been grieving and searching for MONTHS and have known the missing person and the people involved for lifetimes. So all because Alicia found a military ID in a park, she knows everything about the case? There was also some major instalove/lust going on that I was not on board with.

The dialogue was cringeworthy. Almost everything anyone said to anyone included their name. It kind of went like this:

“Alicia, aren’t you happy we know each other?”
“Yes, Michael, I am.”
“Mother, are you happy that Michael and I know each other?”
“Yes, Alicia, I am.”
“Oh, Alicia, I am so glad that your mother is happy we know each other.”
“I am too, Michael.”

Like… I went through and started counting the number of names used in the dialogue on each page and it was just awful! That’s not how people talk to one another, and I felt like the author legitimately thought that we were too dumb to follow the dialogue on our own so she used all the names to try and make sure we knew who was talking to whom.

The mystery itself was very boring and slow and I started skimming because I was mildly curious about what happened. But by about 60% my curiosity has been killed and I threw in the towel.

So basically, this was a complete and total flop. It was horrible. Maybe now I know why Freethy books are in abundance and I can almost always find one for free or very cheap… At least now I know.


The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye | Book Review

April 17, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 3

The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye | Book ReviewThe Crown's Fate by Evelyn Skye
Series: The Crown's Game #2
Also in this series: The Crown's Game
Published by Balzer + Bray on May 16, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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1 Stars
Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.

Here I sit, broken-hearted after taking a month to read this book. Guys, I loved The Crown’s Game. LOVED it. I was so excited for this sequel and ended up having to talk myself out of DNFing an infinite number of times because I so wanted to get back there to that place of love for this world and these characters. Sadly, it didn’t happen and I’m left so disappointed that I don’t even have much to say.

I felt like I was in a different world with this book. It was dark, depressing, and to be honest… boring. I found myself skimming at multiple points due to a complete lack of interest. The Crown’s Game was magical and whimsical and light and full of color and excitement. All of these things that I loved so much were gone in The Crown’s Fate. Nikolai’s character was unrecognizable in a bad way. He went in a very heartbreaking direction that I did not get over even after all loose ends were quickly tied up into a convenient little bow at the end (seriously, that ending was a huge disappointment after everything we’ve been through). Pasha and Vika both seemed weaker than they used to, and never really did or said anything important. There was very little going on in the story, and I felt like what did happen just continued to repeat itself because there was nothing else to say. What little magic there was was just not good for me. And I did not like seeing the characters I once loved being evil and plotting against each other. The book was too long for the story, and I ended up just going through the motions by the end. Let me just say: some horrible stuff happens that any normal person would not be ok with as quickly as these characters were ok with it.

So yeah, that’s all I have to say. The only thing good I can take away from this is that there were a few glimmers of the world I loved. Evelyn’s writing is also still lovely, but I was just not happy with where the story went. I’m so SO sad, as I was highly anticipating this sequel. I will forever recommend The Crown’s Game, but will that suggest people treat it as a standalone.


A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas | Book Review

March 18, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 9 ★★★★★

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas | Book ReviewA Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #1
Published by Bloomsbury on May 5, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, High Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Timesbestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

I don’t even know how to review all the gloriousness that is A Court of Thorns and Roses. This is honestly my favorite book in the universe. I experienced the most vicious book hangover of my life. Seriously. It lasted about a week and a half and I could not even read anything else because I was in mourning.I had to go to Sarah J. Maas herself and have her tell me what to read next because I could not get over her book. No the book is not sad… but it ended. And that’s my only complaint about this book.

Coherent thoughts are not possible. I’m sorry, but they are not. It has been about three weeks since I finished ACOTAR, and all I can do when I think about it is melt into a puddle of swoons and sighs. So I’m going to have to resort to my very unorganized list review style and just blurt out everything I loved.

1. SO MANY FEELS. I will refer to my Goodreads status updates to illustrate my point:

ACOTARProgress
See? This book put me through the ringer, and I was happy to do it.

2. This is my favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling ever. Actually, I loved it more than Beauty and the Beast and THAT is saying something. It was so beautifully done, and there were so many hat tips to the original story.

3. Sarah J. Maas is a genius with words. I can’t believe how perfectly written this book was! Her writing reminds me of those taffy stretching machines. It’s so smooth and flowing and glorious. I just wanted to roll around in it.

4. The world is stupendous and beautiful. Sarah is a master at world building. This is the fairyland beyond your wildest dreams. The descriptions took my breath away. But this land is being taken over by evil, and the quest to defeat this evil kept me flipping pages as fast as I could.

5. There were some VERY sexy moments and I loved them all. The romance is off the charts, and so spellbindingly perfect. I’m in love with this book.

6. I want to be Feyre when I grow up. She’s a super hardcore bad-a, she’s loyal to those she loves, she’s artsy (like me), and she gets Tamlin all to herself.

7. Tamlin is mine. I’ll fight you for him if needs be. He’s a perfect blend of loyalty, protectiveness, chivalry, bravery, nobility, angst, and fierceness. Oh, and the mask he wears that has been permanently affixed to his face by magic makes him super mysterious. I can just picture his piercing eyes. He gets me all fluttery in my chest.

8. Lucien. *swoon* I’m going to be selfish and claim him as well. Picture Rhys as a man with a heart of gold and the ego of Gaston. I adore him.

9. The twists and turns the story took are amazing. SO much happens! Just when you think you can close the book for the night, you’ll be sucked right back in because something huge has happened.

10. There are villains you LOVE to hate and monsters that only live in your nightmares. 

My goodness, I think I need to quit while I’m ahead. I’m amazed I even got any words out because my love for this book is stronger than any combination of words I can string together. I am dying for the second book. I’m pretty much an official Sarah J. Maas fangirl. She can do no wrong. Do yourself a favor and buy this book for yourself and everyone you know.

*This review was originally published on April 8, 2015, and was re-posted in celebration of A Week of Beauty and the Beast.

Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier | Book Review

March 17, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 5 ★★★★★

Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier | Book ReviewHeart's Blood by Juliet Marillier
Published by Roc on October 2, 2009
Genres: Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Retelling, Romance
Pages: 402
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gift from Secret Sister
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Whistling Tor is a place of secrets and mystery. Surrounded by a wooded hill, and unknown presences, the crumbling fortress is owned by a chieftain whose name is spoken throughout the district in tones of revulsion and bitterness. A curse lies over Anluan's family and his people; those woods hold a perilous force whose every whisper threatens doom.

For young scribe Caitrin it is a safe haven. This place where nobody else is prepared to go seems exactly what she needs, for Caitrin is fleeing her own demons. As Caitrin comes to know Anluan and his home in more depth she realizes that it is only through her love and determination that the curse can be broken and Anluan and his people set free.

When Bonnie found out that I love Beauty and the Beast, she sent me a beautiful hardcover of Heart’s Blood and told me I MUST read it because it’s an amazing retelling of one of my favorite fairytales. Of course I’d been hearing wonderful things about Juliet Marillier, and how her books are the makings of dreams and happiness and stardust, so I was very excited to dive in! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I was hooked from the very beginning because Marillier’s writing is so smooth and lyrical. She also really knows how to set the stage for a story. I loved the atmosphere and mystery she created. Things felt very ominous as well as romantic, and even though the book reads a bit slower that the books I usually love I really found Heart’s Blood to be so captivating and magical.

2. The Tor is a mysterious, mystical place. I loved the descriptions of the castle and the landscape. The Tor is not just home to Anluan and his staff, but also beings who are caught in limbo between life and death–tethered to the Tor by dark magic that nobody understands how to undo. Caitrin is the first glimmer of hope the residents of the Tor have seen in a very long time, and as she works to discover the root of all these secrets some support her efforts and some try to stop her. Who do you trust?

3. I loved all the characters. They are so dynamic and flawed, and really made me feel like they were real. They are all broken in some way: Anuluan, Caitrin, Magnus, Eichri, Rioghan… all of them, and they pick up their pieces together and lean on each other for support. Muirne is creepy, not to mention the spirit child who grows very attached to Caitrin but is also dangerous if she gets mad. I LOVED Fianchu, the huge, lovable, loyal dog that never leaves the side of those he protects. Everyone grows and changes drastically from beginning to end.

4. So. Many Feelings. Throughout the second half of the book the beings that live on the Tor really wiggled their way into my heart. When they suffered, I suffered.

5. The romance was so sweet and my heart broke as I worried what everyone’s fate was going to be.

6. There’s some sad things that happen that I was not prepared for. I was ok, though, and only cried a little so I consider that a win.

Heart’s Blood was my first book by Juliet Marillier, and it will surely not be my last. I love her beautiful writing and her amazing storytelling. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves Beauty and the Beast, unique settings, heartwarming characters, and triumph.

 

 


Hunted by Meagan Spooner | Book Review

March 15, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 4 ★★★★★

Hunted by Meagan Spooner | Book ReviewHunted by Meagan Spooner
Published by HarperTEEN on March 14, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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5 Stars
Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

*happy sigh* Boy, did I love this book. I love Beauty and the Beast. Always have, always will. I’m pretty picky with B&B story lines because I kind of have a favorite (*cough* A Court of Thorns and Roses *cough*), but Hunted by Meagan Spooner has definitely taken a spot next to ACOTAR on my list of favorite retellings! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. This story is super unique, while still remaining true to the elements I’ve come to love from Beauty and the Beast. It felt very much like a fairy tale, but one that Meagan has made her own. She added some twists that kept me guessing!

2. I was immediately captivated by Beast and his voice. At the end of every chapter there’s a piece of his mind—what he’s thinking and feeling. He’s not just a man trapped in a beast’s body. He’s both. He refers to himself as “we” and is struggling every day to not be lost in this primal, violent creature that is trying to take over. Sometimes he’s more of one than the other. Here’s a quote from one of his sections that I just loved, and it perfectly illustrates his beautiful voice and his split personality.

“She moves like beauty, she whispers to us of wind and forest—and she tells us stories, such stories that we wake in the night, dreaming dreams of a life long past. She reminds us of what we used to be.

She reminds us of what we could be.”

Beauty’s presence in his life helps him push the beast away, but it is a constant battle that I loved witnessing. I wish I had gotten to learn more about his past. I love what I did learn, though, and I particularly love how his past was used throughout the book.

3. Things started out very slowly, but it was so worth the wait. This was partly due to the fact that Meagan’s writing is gorgeous and partly because the climax and resolution were so beautifully perfect for the characters. I got to a point where I read slower to try and savor the story. I literally didn’t want it to end.

4. I loved Meagan’s usage of Russian folklore to shape the story. Reading about “The Tale of Ivan Tsarevich, the Firebird, and the Gray Wolf” was wonderful and I’d never heard of that story before. I want to go look for it now and read it.

5. Beauty’s character is great. She’s still bookish, but also a fierce hunter. Beast captured her because he needed a strong hunter to capture the thing that would put an end to his curse. I loved this twist, and I loved the feisty, fearless heroine we got as a result.

6. Hunted is very light on the romance, but I love slow burning love stories so I was fine with this. Do I wish there had been a little more of the sweeping love story in the Disney movie? Kiiiind of (I never say no to romance), but I think the ending of Hunted is so much sweeter because of how Meagan chose to treat the romantic element. There are subtle hints of intrigue throughout the story, and I loved that. It also felt realistic and less Stockholm Syndromey than it might have otherwise (I’m not saying the Disney movie feels Stockholmy, just that there was potential for it here depending on how the author chose to write it).

7. Seriously, the writing is gorgeous.

8. The ending. *swoon*

All in all, I have found a new favorite in Hunted. I went and pre-ordered it as soon as I was finished because I need a copy to sit on my shelves that I can pet whenever I want. I really hope Meagan Spooner chooses to write more fairy tale retellings because