Genre: Fantasy


Caraval by Stephanie Garber | 2017 Debut Book Review

September 20, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 2 ★★★★★

Caraval by Stephanie Garber | 2017 Debut Book ReviewCaraval by Stephanie Garber
Published by Flatiron Books on January 31, 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 407
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
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5 Stars
Remember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

Oh my goodness… you guys, this was SO GOOD and so magical and amazing. I read it 9 months ago and I still can’t stop thinking about it. I also have not been able to figure out how to review it because I LOVED IT SO MUCH that I have no idea what to say. I can’t tell you everything I loved because then I’d just be typing out the book for you. There was nothing I didn’t love to pieces, so writing a review is a truly overwhelming task that I’ve been scared to even begin. lol. I was truly and utterly captivated by and immersed in this story from the first page, and even though it’s over it has not yet let go of me. Part of me is still in that story, unable to let go of it and eagerly anticipating the next book.

Caraval is a magical, whimsical, quirky, convoluted, mysterious, romantic, captivating ball of beautiful words and imagination. The story is dripping with danger and unknowing, with mischievous and  ominous characters. Stephanie’s writing is on point, and her imagination and storytelling ability are on FIRE. I wonder if she rents out rooms in her mind…? The world of Caraval is bigger than our world, and the game has so many layers and mysteries that it’s basically ingenious.

I was fully expecting and intending to write a detailed, organized, and coherent review. But… I don’t want to say anything more than this because it’s honestly better if you have no idea what to expect. I went in very skeptical (hello hype, and the book had not even been published yet!) and not quite sure what to expect. Best decision ever. The less you know about Caraval, the more mysterious and exciting it will feel to you. So don’t read any reviews. Just don’t do it. My review is vague enough that you’re pretty much just going to leave my blog knowing Caraval is a book you’ve got to read. If I’ve convinced you of this, I’ve done my job! If not, write to me and I’ll talk your ear off until you can see there’s no other option.


Persephone by Kaitlin Bevis | Book Review

September 14, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 9 ★★★★★

Persephone by Kaitlin Bevis | Book ReviewPersephone by Kaitlin Bevis
Series: Daughters of Zeus #1
Published by Musa Publishing on July 6, 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology, Retelling
Pages: 237
Format: eBook
Source: From the author
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5 Stars
There are worse things than death, worse people too

The “talk” was bad enough, but how many teens get told that they’re a goddess? When her mom tells her, Persephone is sure her mother has lost her mind. It isn’t until Boreas, the god of winter, tries to abduct her that she realizes her mother was telling the truth. Hades rescues her, and in order to safely bring Persephone to the Underworld he marks her as his bride. But Boreas will stop at nothing to get Persephone. Despite her growing feelings for Hades, Persephone wants to return to the living realm. Persephone must find a way to defeat Boreas and reclaim her life.

I love the Greek myth of Persephone, and I really enjoyed this book. If you’re curious about the myth, I explain it right here. Anyway, my main points are bolded. :)

1. This story is so unique! Katilin Bevis really made it her own. Persephone ends up in the Underworld for a completely different reason, in a completely different way, and under different conditions. The story stays true to many aspects of the original myth, but I loved the spin Kaitlin put on her version.

2. I really liked Persephone. She’s a fun character who is reasonably blindsided when she finds out she’s a goddess, and her best friend is actually her priestess. And then when Boreas comes after her and she ends up hiding out in the Underworld with Hades and all the souls, she adapts pretty well! She’s pretty headstrong and spunky, and I liked that about her. I enjoyed watching her learn and change as she came into her own powers at the goddess of spring.

3. Hades is swoony! And honestly, I never thought I’d say that. He’s dark and sensitive, and he loves his library. My kind of guy. He is in charge of helping the souls transition from life to death, and his concern for them is so sweet. I also loved his concern for Persephone. She ended up there with him because he saved her, not because he kidnapped her like the original story goes. This gave the author a lot more to work with, and enabled her to write Hades as a good person. I was pleasantly surprised.

4. The Underworld is amazing. It’s light and beautiful, full of flowers and trees and rivers. The suburbs have cute little colorful houses, they have balls and parties, and people work because they love what they do and not because they have to. If you want a cute outfit, you imagine it and it’s yours. I loved reading about how Persephone decorated her room in the palace there. All she had to do was think about what she wanted, and it was so. She even chose the scenery outside her window. It’s a magical place, and I’d love to see it!

5. One of my favorite twists to the story is the fact that Gods can’t lie. They just can’t. If they say they won’t tell someone something, they are physically incapable of doing so. That created a lot of fun and crazy story lines.

6. Persephone and Hades are very cute together, despite the age difference. At times I saw him as a mentor, and at times I saw him as a love interest. I loved watching their friendship grow.

7. The story is written very well, and there’s a lot going on. I enjoyed Kaitlin’s writing style and her descriptions of the world and the powers these gods possess.

8. That ending. Holy moly! It was amazing! I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book!

Persephone might just be my new favorite version of Persephone. Haha. (I wish the title were a little more creative, though! Talking about this book is tricky because you have to differentiate between the myth, the book, and the character.) It’s fresh, it’s unique, it’s suspenseful, and a lot of unexpected and exciting things happen that will leave you craving the next book.

This review was originally posted on September 12, 2013 and is being re-featured.

 


Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows | Blog Tour Book Review

September 11, 2017 Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult 2

Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows | Blog Tour Book Review

Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows | Blog Tour Book ReviewBefore She Ignites by Jodi Meadows
Series: Fallen Isles Trilogy #1
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on September 12, 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Amazon Amazon UK Barnes & Noble Book Depository Add to Goodreads
Before

Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.

But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.

After

Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.

No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.

I’m so excited to be a part of this blog tour for Jodi’s newest book, Before She Ignites! I’ve loved Jodi since her debut, Incarnate, which was one of the first ARCs I was sent after I started blogging! When I first read the synopsis for Before She Ignites and saw all the dragon goodness, I knew I was going to love this book as much as I love all of her others. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I really like our heroine, Mira Minkoba. She’s been under the thumb of her parents and the Luminary Council since she was a young girl, but now they have imprisoned her for having her own voice and her own thoughts. The bulk of the story takes place in the Pit, which is the most miserable prison in the land. All of a sudden, she’s fending for herself… cleaning, living on very little food (that’s all rotten and spoiled anyway), aligning with people she can trust, and coping with her crippling anxiety disorder without the comfort of her normal life and her beloved friends. I liked watching her grow stronger and learn how to calm herself down in times of stress. 

2. I liked Mina’s cellblock mates, even though some of them were kind of weird and/or a complete mystery. My favorite was Aaru, who comes from the isle of silence. He communicates by voice very little, and instead has a tapping language that he teaches Min so they can communicate between their cells without being heard. He’s one of the mysterious ones I was talking about before, and I hope we learn more about him in the sequel. He’s loyal, powerful, and very sweet.

3. Mina’s best friend, Ilina, is the best friend everyone wishes they had. She stands beside Mina at all times. Her protector, Hiroto, is also a wonderful ally. I love that Mina has so many strong relationships, and I hope those get more fleshed out in the sequel as well.

4. DRAGONS. Minia has a cute little dragon named LaLa that I picture as a cuddly little kitten, regardless of the sharp scales that could cut you. She’s adorable! But then there’s all the dragon lore, which was super interesting. We get to meet some bigger, fiercer dragons and that was exciting. More dragons, please! My biggest complaint was that there was not enough dragons!

5. Jodi’s writing is still flawless! There were some very beautiful passages about light and stars, especially toward the end, that I want to go back and re-read just because they were so calming and pretty.

6. Give. Me. The. Sequel. What an ending! Super climactic and actiony and intense. I can’t want to see where things go next.

All in all, Jodi Meadows is not going out of style. I loved the small pieces of diversity included. I’ve never come across a character with anxiety in a fantasy novel before, and it really meant a lot to me. I saw pieces of myself in Mina. Definitely pick up this beautiful story as soon as you can! Or maybe wait until the sequel is closer to releasing. Tough choice.


About Jodi Meadows

Jodi Meadows wants to be a ferret when she grows up and she has no self-control when it comes to yarn, ink, or outer space. Still, she manages to write books. She is the author of the INCARNATE Trilogy, the ORPHAN QUEEN Duology, and the FALLEN ISLES Trilogy (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen), and a coauthor of MY LADY JANE (HarperTeen). Visit her at Website: www.jodimeadows.com

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Take a loot at the amazing book trailer for Before She Ignites, created by the lovely Sarah from The YA Book Traveler! I think she did a beautiful job!


As a thank you for stopping by the blog, we have a giveaway! Jodi Meadows has generously donated 2 finished copies of Before She Ignites for 2 lucky winners!!!

For more chances to win this amazing giveaway, make sure you visit each tour stop, which will be full of interviews, creative posts, reviews and an excerpt!

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Tour Stops

Monday 9/4 TheLifeofABookNerdAddict – Guest Post
Monday 9/4 TalesofTheRavenousreader– Creative Post
Tuesday 9/5 BooksAndPrejudice – Review
Wednesday 9/6 EaterofBooks – Interview
Thursday 9/7 ForTheSakeofReading – Review
Friday 9/8 ABackwardsStory– Guest Post
Monday 9/11 Knoxdiver – Guest Post
Monday 9/11ThatArtsyReaderGirl – Review
Tuesday 9/12 TheYABookTraveler -Review
Wednesday 9/13 AThousandWordsAMillionBooks – Interview
Thursday 9/14 BookCrush– Creative Post
Friday 9/15 TheReaderAndTheChef– Review
Monday 9/18 YAandWine – Review
Tuesday 9/19 TakeMeAwayToAGreatRead – Creative Post
Wednesday 9/20 AphonicSarah – Interview
Thursday 9/21 TheKindredReader – Review
Friday 9/22 ReadWriteLove28 – Excerpt
Friday 9/22 LoveIsNotATriangle – Guest Post


The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill | Graphic Novel Review

September 5, 2017 Book Review, Graphic Novel 1 ★★★★★

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill | Graphic Novel ReviewThe Tea Dragon Society by Katie O'Neill
Published by Oni Press on October 31, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 72
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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5 Stars
From the award-winning author of Princess Princess Ever Aftercomes The Tea Dragon Society, a charming all-ages book that follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons.

After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives—and eventually her own.

This was such a cute, magical little graphic novel! I really loved it. Tea dragons are little dragons whose horns store the memories of their time together with their owners, whom they love very much. Those horns grow tea leaves, which can be cut off and brewed into very high quality tea. When a person drinks this tea, they receive a vision of a memory of that tea dragon’s owner. Greta is a blacksmith and finds a lost tea dragon wandering through the market. When she returns this tea dragon to its owner she is offered the opportunity to learn the art of raising tea dragons and brewing their tea. She makes three new friends and they form a loving bond as their raise their tea dragons together. When Greta drinks some of the tea we get to see how the group formed and learn more about the pasts of these characters.

The story is divided up into four chapters: one for each season of the year. It’s is simple, but very sweet and great for all ages. It felt like a warm blanket. And the illustrations are to die for. The colors are beautiful, and everything is so cute! I’ve clipped a few of my favorite illustrations so you can see what I mean. The dragons are particularly adorable, and they are all named after common teas: Jasmine, Chamomile, Roobios, etc.

This image is one of the visions/memories that comes from drinking some tea.

All in all, I don’t have one complaint! This graphic novel was a joy to read. I loved the magical storytelling, unique story elements, the sweet characters, the adorable little tea dragons, and the moral of the story, which is to surround yourself with people you love and to cultivate the talents you’re passionate about. I would most definitely recommend this to readers of all ages who are looking for beautiful illustrations and a timeless, sweet, and light feel-good story.

 

 

 


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
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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.


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
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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
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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


Beastly by Alex Flinn | Mini Book Review + Movie Thoughts

March 13, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 22 ★★★★

Beastly by Alex Flinn | Mini Book Review + Movie ThoughtsBeastly by Alex Flinn
Published by HarperTEEN on October 2, 2007
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Retelling, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought it!
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
I am a beast.

A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright--a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It's no deformity, no disease. And I'll stay this way forever--ruined--unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.

I was really worried about reading a modern take on “Beauty and the Beast.” I love that story so much already that I was worried Flinn was going to ruin it. I absolutely loved it! I love the transformation Kyle makes from being a complete jerk to being Prince Charming. I mean, he was so mean and self-centered… and he really hurt people and didn’t care! He makes a complete 180, and the difference is amazing. I can see many people falling for this guy!

He meets Lindy because of her father. He got into some major trouble, and the only way to get himself out of it was to essentially give his daughter to the Kyle. Their relationship goes from absolute loathing, to tolerance, to curiosity, to a blooming romance. I love the amount of concern Kyle shows for Lindy and her well-being.

I really liked Will (Kyle’s blind tutor) and Magda (Kyle’s housekeeper) too. They were entertaining i nthe same way that Lumiere and Cogsworth are from the Disney movie.

All in all, it was a great story. Kyle’s thoughtfulness and generosity were highlights for me. If you love Beauty and the Beast, this book will not disappoint you at all. I’d recommend it to people who enjoy modern retellings of timeless fairy tales.

My thoughts on the movie version:

I was really excited to see what Hollywood was going to do to Beastly. I loved the magic of the story, and the characters were wonderful. When I saw who was playing Lindy, though, I was majorly disappointed. I’ve never been a fan of Vanessa Hudgens, and I did not think she did a very good job playing this role. And then when I found out that Mary-Kate Olsen was cast as Kendra (the witch), I almost boycotted watching it. But then it came out on DVD, and so many of my friends loved it… so I decided to try it. I thought it was just ok.

Alex Pettyfer was totally not who I pictured as Kyle. I was looking for the tall, dark and handsome type… more like Paul Wesley (Stefan from The Vampire Diaries). This guy just did not seem like he had enough going for him to be able to cause such pain in the lives of his classmates. His “beastly” look was also not what I pictured, but I liked it. It worked. Like I said, Vanessa and Mary-Kate were not the right people to cast, in my opinion… but Mary-Kate did do a great job at looking witchy. I loved Neil Patrick Harris as Will. That was a wonderful choice.

Overall, I am SO glad I read the book before the movie came out. It would have ruined the book for me if I had seen the movie first. The acting and special effects were “meh” for me, and I will most likely not watch this again. The book is so much better, so you should definitely read it, especially if you enjoyed the movie.