Publisher: HarperTEEN

Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan | Book Review

Posted November 2, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 1 Comment

Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan | Book ReviewReign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan
Series: Reign of Shadows #1
Published by HarperTEEN on February 9, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: Audiobook
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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5 Stars
Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

This is not your magical, light and fluffy Rapunzel retelling! Reign of Shadows is dark and creepy and intense and so unbelievably exciting. Luna, the lost princess of Relhok, has been sequestered in a tower with her guardians for her entire life to protect her from those who would do her harm. She’s the rightful heir to the throne, and the current king is making life miserable for the members of his kingdom. The land is also ruled by evil creatures (dwellers) who delight in killing anyone who crosses their path.

While exploring one day, Luna stumbles across three people and saves them from a pack of dwellers and brings them back to her tower. These are the first strangers Luna has ever met. One of these people is a handsome archer named Fowler, who captivates and excites Luna. Due to circumstances beyond their control, they set out on a journey together in search of a safer place to live. As they journey together across a barren, dark wasteland that has been ravaged by the dwellers, they learn to depend on one another. Together they have a unique set of skills that aide them in heir survival.

I liked both of these characters a lot. Luna is so sheltered and comes across as being very helpless, but she has spent her life developing and refining her ability to survive. She’s unassumingly strong and courageous despite her lack of exposure to the world. She’s able to trust in spite of the murder of her parents, and she’s able to love regardless of the fact that he family was ripped away from her as a baby. Fowler is damaged and has hardened himself in an effort to avoid more pain. Those he cared about are long gone, and it’s easier for him to be alone than to risk losing someone he cares about. He has no interest in being a part of Luna’s life, but he also has this deep sense of loyalty and honor even though he doesn’t really owe anyone anything. I liked that about him.

The romance is pretty swoony, and very slow building. I like romances that take a long time to develop, though, so I was totally on board with this one. I also like romances in life or death situations because there’s a lot of tenderness and need in addition to pure trust and dependency on one another.

I don’t want to say too much and spoil the book for anyone, so I think I’ll leave it here. Reign of Shadows is filled with little story elements that made it unique from the original tale of Rapunzel. I’ve always loved Sophie Jordan’s writing, so I had a feeling I’d enjoy this book. I listened to it on audio, which was very well done. All in all, I really loved the story.


Firelight by Sophie Jordan | Book Review

Posted September 21, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 7 Comments

Firelight by Sophie Jordan | Book ReviewFirelight by Sophie Jordan
Series: Firelight #1
Also in this series: Hidden
Published by HarperTEEN on September 7, 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 323
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought it!
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4 Stars
A hidden truth.
Mortal enemies.
Doomed love.


Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki, a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.

Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away;if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.

The story of Jacinda and Will grabbed me from page one and had me reading long into a night I should have spent sleeping instead of reading. I’ve often wondered if my bookishness is detrimental to my health and personal well-being, but I digress! Back to the subject at hand… I’m having a hard time reviewing this book, and I’m not sure why. I’ve written a review probably 5 times already, and I’m still not happy with it. Maybe it’s because the story has a lot in common with other YA Paranormal romances out there. I’m not saying it’s not worth the read, I’m just not sure what I can say about it that’s new, other than the fact that we’re dealing with dragons. I’ll try!

Jacinda’s glowing orange skin and intricate wings are not all she has going for her. All Draki have a special talent. Some can breathe underwater, some can control human minds, and some can fly extremely fast. Jacinda breathes fire—a talent that was thought to have died out long ago before she was discovered. Thus, she is extremely valuable to pride. Things were planned out and set in motion for her to marry the Draki prince, Cassian, and create a ton of little fire-breathers just like herself. This unappealing future, mixed with her rebellious nature, mixed with the fact that she barely came home alive after being tracked and shot by a group of hunters prompted her mother to sneak Jacinda and her non-draki twin sister, Tamra, out of the pride and move to Arizona. Her mother chose Arizona because drakis can’t survive in such dry and barren conditions. Jacinda’s draki would eventually die off just like her mother’s, and they could live normal, safe lives as humans. Jacinda was not ok with this and did everything she could to keep her withering draki alive. Then, she saw Will—one of the hunters she encountered the night her mother forced them to flee. He was the one who stared into her draki eyes that night and let her go, leading his family of hunters away from her. They lock eyes in the hall at school, and an instant connection is made. He ignites the draki within her, and she captivates him for a reason he can’t quite figure out. Even though he’s the one who keeps her draki alive, she has to constantly fight her attraction to him (and resist his to her) and keep her distance. She can never let him know what she is without risking the lives of all those she holds dear. The hunters can never find out their best-kept secret—that draki can take on human form.

I really enjoyed this book! First off, how refreshing is it to finally have the girl be the paranormal one? Yes, there are a few mythical heroines out there, but we all know it’s usually the guy. It was fun to read how a girl deals with being different. Jacinda is SO driven by her emotions. She goes through highs and lows, and she’s always freaking out about everything. She’s not calm, cool, and collected like our mainstream paranormal heroes in other novels. I’m not saying she’s spastic and annoying. She certainly handled things better than I would have. I just enjoyed reading about her inner struggle rather than a guy’s, like I usually do.

This book moved really quickly! The tension built up fast, and I found myself trying to read faster than my brain could handle. There was no lollygagging in this book, and I really enjoyed that about it. I never got bored.

The romance between Will and Jacinda was believable, but maybe not for their age group. I never thought of them as high school juniors. They have a very mature relationship, which I was happy about, as I have a hard time enjoying the whiny teenage romances. Even though the romance did not seem realistic for their ages, the high school life was pretty real to me. I remember when I moved to a new high school, I struggled with fitting in. I was picked on. Jacinda went through the same motions I did, and I felt for her and could relate to how she was feeling. She was a total fish out of water, with only one friend who wasn’t even really a friend—more like a person to sit with and talk to. High school’s really hard, and Jacinda dealt with it.

Unfortunately, there were not a lot of characters to like in this book. There was an overabundance of villains: the alpha of her pride (who wanted her for selfish reasons), her mom (who lied to her frequently, and tried to kill off an important part of Jacinda), her sister (who should have tried to be more supportive of Jacinda’s situation), Will’s family (who were complete and total jerks to Will, and almost perverts towards Jacinda), the school bullies (who tried to make her life a living hell, and even attacked her). I’m not used to only liking the two main people. I guess the author chose to do this in order to emphasize the odds against Will and Jacinda, but I really wanted to like more people!

I loved that Jacinda was so true to herself, against all these odds. She didn’t just sit back and let her mother get what she wanted (a draki-free Jacinda). They argued and fought all the time. Her mom kept so many secrets from her, and then when she finally told Jacinda the truth, she wasn’t even nice about it. This woman is just not a good mother figure—and I found her character to be a bit hard to believe sometimes. I know she was trying to protect Jacinda, but she rarely ever showed any compassion, empathy, or even love.

For the most part, I enjoyed the writing style. Several reviewers have mentioned that the book was laced consistently with sentence fragments, which got rather annoying. I totally agree. This is definitely not a book for people looking for pristine literary writing. I had to re-read and re-think some of the passages, just because my mind was not following the choppy writing style. It helped to add to the suspense, but it detracted a bit from everything else. Other than that, the action scenes were done very well and the author’s descriptions left little to be desired. She gave me enough information to be able to picture everything in my mind, but not so much that my mind couldn’t take a few liberties and allow my creative juices to fill in the gaps.

Regardless of a few complaints, I loved the premise, the story, the character development of both Jacinda and Will, the fact that Jacinda is such a likeable heroine, the descriptive passages that painted pictures in my mind, the fast-paced storyline that kept my eyes glued to the pages into the wee hours of the morning, and the fact that now I think dragons are sexy.

This review was originally posted on February 22, 2012, and was re-posted for some extra love.


Illusions by Aprilynne Pike | Book Review

Posted September 3, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 2 Comments

Illusions by Aprilynne Pike | Book ReviewIllusions by Aprilynne Pike
Series: Wings #3
Published by HarperTEEN on May 3, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Pages: 375
Format: Hardcover
Source: From the Publisher
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5 Stars
"I don't do patrols, I don't go hunting, I just stick close to you. You live your life. I'll keep you safe," Tamani said, sweeping a lock of hair from her face. "Or die trying."

Laurel hasn't seen Tamani since she begged him to let her go last year. Though her heart still aches, Laurel is confident that David was the right choice.

But just as life is returning to normal, Laurel discovers that a hidden enemy lies in wait. Once again, Laurel must turn to Tamani to protect and guide her, for the danger that now threatens Avalon is one that no faerie thought would ever be possible. And for the first time, Laurel cannot be sure that her side will prevail.

Illusions is  my favorite of the Wings series so far. It was magical, romantic, adventurous, and I got through it in 24 hours!

For the most part, I really like the characters. There’s Laurel, her boyfriend David, her sentry/guardian Tamani, her best friend Chelsea, and Chelsea’s boyfriend Ryan. There’s also a troll-hunter, Klea who I don’t like, and Klea’s foster child from Japan, Yuki. They are all different, they have personality, and they are all people I could see myself being friends with. These people are not annoying, whiny little teenagers. I forget they are in high school. Thank you, Aprilynne.  It’s so nice to read a book where the high schoolers don’t act like stereotypical high schoolers.

So, these characters are off attending high school, keeping the secrets of Faerie a secret, going to school dances heavily guarded by more sentries, protecting themselves and their human families, and avoiding the trolls that are out to discover the secret gates to Avalon, home of the faeries. Laurel spends most of her free time with David, Tamani, and/or practicing her faerie skills in her bedroom. This brings in a whole new cast of characters: the other faeries who live in Avalon and train Laurel on being a faerie during her summer breaks. She has one friend there, Katya, who I really like. She’s adorable. I also like Laurel’s teachers and mentors. The descriptions of Avalon are amazing. It sounds gorgeous, from the scenery, to the description of an out-of-this-world new year’s festival, to the architecture, even the clothing and accessories the faeries wear. I would LOVE to go to Avalon!

And then we have the characters in between: the sentries, faeries who keep a watchful eye on everyone else,  and Laurel’s parents, who are extremely understanding. SO many characters to keep track of, but it doesn’t seem like it while you’re reading. It just sounds like a lot when I type them all out in a list like this.

Obviously there’s a love triangle, just like there is in any other YA romance. I like both the guys, David and Tamani, involved in this love triangle! I find myself rooting for one, and then the other. Usually I have one favorite and I root for him throughout the entire book/series. I’m confused on who Laurel should end up with, though. I can only imagine how confused SHE is, since she’s the one actually living it. She has a very sweet bond with both the boys. In this book, though, she takes the time to focus on the guy who she’s spent most of her time brushing off, and it was adorable! This guy loves her so much, and he is so willing to wait for her to decide. I swear, I wish I had one of these guys going after me. Laurel gets both. It’s not fair. Or maybe it is. I think I’d really get stressed out loving two different men.

There’s tense moments, romantic moments, tender moments, beautiful writing, amazing settings, fun characters, and magic, magic, magic! The end had a twist I wasn’t expecting, and dropped to quite a cliffhanger! I really feel like giving away any more details would spoil everything, so I need to just stop and let you read them for yourself! I hate writing such a vague review, but it must be done! If you have read these, I’d love to hear what you thought! If you haven’t read them, hopefully my review pushed you towards giving them a try. I hope I didn’t spoil anything for anyone, and at the same time I hope I did the book justice.


Everless by Sara Holland | 2018 Debut Book Review

Posted January 26, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Debut Author Challenge, Young Adult / 16 Comments

Everless by Sara Holland | 2018 Debut Book ReviewEverless by Sara Holland
Series: Everless #1
Published by HarperTEEN on January 2, 2018
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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0.5 Stars
In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

I’d really been looking forward to Everless. The cover is pretty cool, the premise sounded unique (although I recently watched In Time, so it’s less unique now. lol), and I’ve been on a bit of a fantasy kick as of late. Sadly, though, things fell a bit short for me and I wasn’t impressed. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I tend to reserve the spot of my first book of the year for a book I’m really excited about. I’m not sure if that impacted my overall opinion of the book or not, but I had a lot of expectations going in. I was excited about it, it was going to be my first book of 2018, it was going to be my first debut of 2018, etc. It was a huge letdown. It is receiving rave reviews from readers, including many of my fellow book blogger friends, so am I missing something? I don’t even know, but I am seriously confused as to why I’m one of the very few people who did not like this book.

2. So… Everless is pretty much exactly like the movie, In Time. A Goodreads user asked how similar this book is, and Sofia Frost answered the question better than I could have. Possible spoilers below, so jump to point #3 if you don’t want to be spoiled!

*Main character’s family members die, cause they run out of time.
*Main character moves to place where rich and royal live.
*Main character falls in love with rich and famous (although in the book it is not really love at that point, but I am sure in future books it will become a full love story)
*Main character gains a lot of time. (book: ofc she can not just be a regular poor kid from the country)
*Prediction: Main character would try to break the curse of blood and time- and make everyone equal.

The end.

So… yes. Very similar to In Time. And I hated the movie, too.

3. Scroll back up and read the synopsis of the book. Sounds kind of cool, right? Well… think again. It’s depressing. This book was so depressing. Everyone is a ticking time bomb, not sure exactly how much time they have left. Unless they are rich, they live in an almost constant state of panic. I could never live in this world! I’d be filled with so much anxiety. I’d be scared to sleep. I’d be scared to read or watch movies because I’d worry I’d lose track of time. I’d constantly be worried I overestimated the time I had left and just fall dead one second. I’d never be carefree or happy. Even worse, I’d be scared to fall in love because I’d have to worry about someone else’s time, and not just my own. I’d be worrying about my family and my friends. How depressing is a life like that? Not only is the world depressing, but so is the backstory of almost every single character. Why did I ever think this was going to be a fun book to read? I read to escape to a happier place, and this book needs escaping from. I’ll take my real life, thanks.

4. Jules comes from tragedy. But did it make her smart? Did it make her strong? No. She fell in love with a boy when she was 7 while working for his family, his family ruined her life, she sneaks back to their estate to make blood-irons to help save her dying father even though he’s super against it, and she still has a crush on this boy. I’m sorry, but at 17-18 I didn’t know who I had a crush on 10 years prior, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t still have a crush on him. Especially after his family ruined my life and the lives of others I care about. Nope.

5. The romance…? It was barely there and added nothing to the story, but I see where things are going. No. I’m not at all on board. There’s no swoons, and I really don’t like the guy. Maybe there’s going to be a love triangle and the guy I preferred will end up with Jules, but I probably won’t ever know.

6. Something very Hunger Games happens (and not at all in a good way), and it’s totally spoilery for both this book and The Hunger Games series, so highlight the white space between the brackets if you’re curious. Needless to say, I was pretty furious. If you’re reading via email subscription or RSS reader and you don’t want to be spoiled for either book, jump ahead to point #7 because my whited-out text will only hide the spoilers if you’re reading on my blog. You’ve been warned.

[[[[[[Jules throws everything away to go to a very dangerous place to save her father’s life. He’s so so so against it, to the point of actually following her to beg her to come home. They speak for a few moments, she lies to him and tells him she will come home… all the while never actually planning to. She sends him home, lying that she will come soon. And what happens? He dies on the way home. He was so hell-bent on getting back to her that he wasted his time to try and save her instead of making sure he had enough time left for himself! SHE HAD BLOOD-IRONS WITH HER!! Why did she not give him any to ensure he would have enough time? She was literally there suffering in order to extend his life, but nope. Just like Katniss sacrificed herself for her sister Primm, only to have Primm die at the end, Jules sacrificed for her father, only to lose him anway. It’s maddening. I hate it when authors kill off the reason for a huge piece of the story. At least Katniss was amazing, though. And at least it wasn’t her fault that Primm died. Jules’s father’s death is totally her fault.]]]]]]

7. That was a much longer rant than I thought it would be, but I get madder and madder the more I think about this book. Jules is a wimpy idiot of a character. She has no street smarts, no brain, no fight in her. She has no personality whatsoever. I spent so much of the book yelling at her. By the end of Everless she has not grown at all, and I’m too exhausted to read another book so she can try to prove herself to me. And let’s be fair… every characters was flat and shapeless and boring. I wanted to smack them all.

8. So much of this plot was driven by miscommunication and pointless secrets. If the characters would just TALK to each other instead of waiting for everyone to figure it all out and find the answers themselves everything would have resolved on its own! Jules’s dad comes to the estate to warn her and instead of actually warning her in a way that makes sense he spouts out a bunch of mumbo jumbo that would have only made sense to Jules if she had already known what he was talking about. They say mankind is getting suckier and suckier at communicating with one another due to social media and texting, but these characters have neither. So what’s their excuse? When the fate of humanity rests on a teenaged girl, don’t you think the guy with all the answers could at least give them to her? That’d be too easy, though. Then we wouldn’t have a trilogy.

9. The characters and the world were underdeveloped. There was nothing keeping me there except my desire to actually finish a book so I didn’t start out the year already behind on my Goodreads goal.

10. This might be the most critical piece of my review… but the writing just wasn’t good. And I feel so bad for saying that. It’s easy to not like a story. We all have our likes and dislikes, and that’s widely accepted. All authors know that the story or the characters or the world, etc. that they wrote will not be loved by all. But I always feel so horrible for saying I didn’t like the writing because that removes the story completely and has to do with the actual words instead of the details. But I just didn’t like the writing. It wasn’t memorable or filled with pretty details. There were no quotes I highlighted to save and re-read later.

All in all, I could not get past the fact that this felt like a copy of the movie In Time. Immediately I started looking for all the similarities, which just frustrated me to no end. And I really think that if it had been amazing I would have been ok with those similarities. I hated the movie, so it would not have taken much for me to like it more. lol. But I just didn’t. It was depressing and underdeveloped and frustrating. I’m sorry to say that I would not recommend it to anyone, unless they were looking for In Time fanfic… and is that even a thing?


Hunted by Meagan Spooner | Book Review

Posted March 15, 2017 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 4 Comments

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
Amazon Add to Goodreads
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

Posted March 13, 2017 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 22 Comments

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.

 


Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh | Debut Author Book Review (+ Giveaway)

Posted June 17, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult / 3 Comments

Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh | Debut Author Book Review (+ Giveaway)

Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh | Debut Author Book Review (+ Giveaway)Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh
Series: Ivory and Bone #1
Published by HarperTEEN on June 7, 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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3.5 Stars
A prehistoric fantasy—with allusions to Pride and Prejudice.

Hunting, gathering, and keeping his family safe—that’s the life seventeen-year-old Kol knows. Then bold, enigmatic Mya arrives from the south with her family, and Kol is captivated. He wants her to like and trust him, but any hopes of impressing her are ruined when he makes a careless—and nearly grave—mistake. However, there’s something more to Mya’s cool disdain…a history wrought with loss that comes to light when another clan arrives. With them is Lo, an enemy from Mya’s past who Mya swears has ulterior motives.

As Kol gets to know Lo, tensions between Mya and Lo escalate until violence erupts. Faced with shattering losses, Kol is forced to question every person he’s trusted. One thing is for sure: this was a war that Mya or Lo—Kol doesn’t know which—had been planning all along.

Welcome to my stop along the blog tour for Julie Eshbaugh’s debut novel, Ivory and Bone, hosted by The Irish Banana Review! I’m so happy to be reviewing Julie’s unique pre-historic fantasy novel today! This is the first novel I’ve read set in the old, olden days (mammoths, people!) and I really enjoyed it. As always my main points are bolded. :)

1. This book is narrated by a boy, Kol. Already, this is a unique and refreshing change for me from the usual female narrator. Even more unique, though, is that the story is written in second person. Kol is essentially telling the story to the reader as if they were his love interest, Mya. It was super hard for me to get used to this, but once I did I found it to be very well done and fun to read… especially when I discovered why it was written this way.

2. You can tell that Julie did a lot of research on the prehistoric era for this novel, and she really brought the time period to life for me. Kol has a close encounter (or two) with some saber-toothed tigers and mammoths. We also get to read about stretching animal skins to make blankets and clothes, tribal lore, and hunting/gathering to survive. The setting and time period really was my favorite part of the book.

3. I liked Kol a lot. He’s such a good, sweet person, with a strong sense of loyalty and a good set of morals. I enjoyed his voice and his thoughts, and am so happy Julie chose to have him narrate the story.

4. I hated Mya from the very beginning, but I gradually started to like her as I learned more about her and her story. I’m still not her biggest fan, but the potential is there for me to like her more in the future.

5. The romantic aspect of the story is very minimal for the most part. The real focus was on the setting and the world of the story, which I really liked. There’s no insta-love and no love triangle. Again, yay unique and refreshing! The romance that was there was very slow burning and filled with tension, just the way I like it.

6. There are a LOT of characters in this story, and I had a little trouble keeping everyone straight. As such, I didn’t really connect with anyone but Kol. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, though, since I really got to know Kol. I loved seeing everything through his eyes.

7. I think it’s worth mentioning that there’s a lot going on in this story, but really only during the second half. The first half of the book set the scene, and then things really picked up for me. Definitely hang in there if you’re feeling iffy because I really enjoyed where things ended up going. Old secrets and mysteries surface and there’s some action and suspense that had me flipping the pages as fast as I could.

8. Julie’s writing is very lovely, although some descriptions and stories were a little bit long for me at times. Even so, her writing is very flowing and she does a wonderful job of painting a picture in your mind.

Bottom line, this is a very strong, unique, refreshing read that had me truly captivated. I loved Kol’s storytelling, and I really loved the prehistoric setting. I’m excited to see where things go next!


About Julie:

Julie Eshbaugh is the author of the upcoming Ivory and Bone (HarperCollins, 2016). She used to have trouble staying in one spot, having lived in places as varied as Utah, France, and New York City. Julie eventually returned home to the Philadelphia area, where she now lives with her husband, son, cat and dog. Her favorite moments are when the unexpected happens and she cheers loudest when the pitcher gets a hit.

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Tour Schedule:

6/6: Quite the Novel Idea – Q&A
6/7: Alexa Loves Books – Review
6/8: The Forest of Words & Pages – Guest Post
6/9: Swoony Boys Podcast – Review
6/10: Avid Reader – Fashion Inspirations
6/13: The Irish Banana Review – Review
6/14: Such A Novel Idea – Guest Post
6/15: No BS Book Reviews – Review
6/16: The Book Cellar – Top 10
6/17: That Artsy Reader Girl – Review

 


A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray | Book Review + Giveaway

Posted January 5, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult / 38 Comments

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray | Book Review + GiveawayA Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Series: Firebird #1
Published by HarperTEEN on November 4, 2014
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction, Time Travel
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: From the Publisher
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5 Stars
Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

This book sounded amazing before the cover image released, but once the cover was revealed I was even more excited about it! For once, the book lived up to its beautiful cover. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. As much as I loved this book, I had a very hard time getting started. The pacing across the first 100 pages or so is very slow and cumbersome. I actually set this book down back in November because I just could not hang in there, and I was so sad it would end up being a DNF. I’m so glad I gave it another chance, though, because it ended up becoming a new favorite!

2. I’m not usually a fan of parallel universes or alternate dimensions because books that contain them are usually repetitive and the differences between those worlds are never exciting or unique enough to hold my attention. In this case, however, I could not wait to see where Marguerite and Theo traveled to next.

3. My favorite parallel universe was Russia, and is where the bulk of this book takes place. Even though the characters never change time periods, this particular universe feels like it’s a couple hundred years behind ours. Marguerite is the daughter of the tsar, and lives in a candlelit castle. Lieutenant Markov (a.k.a. Paul Markov, suspected murderer of Marguerite’s father) is Marguerite’s personal body guard, and oh wow is he swoony! I loved getting to see so many sides of Paul, but this one was my favorite.

4. I really liked Marguerite. I liked that she was willing to take the less popular road and give Paul a chance to prove that he did not kill her father. I liked her tenacity and her crusade for truth. And I loved her relationship with her dad. So sweet.

5. I’m not going to try and explain the ins and outs of how they travel between dimensions and everything because that’s for you to discover as you read, but I found the “science” fascinating.

6. The focus in this story is primarily on romance, but there’s also this quest to find out if Paul killed Marguerite’s dad or not, a battle against an evil corporation looking to use the Firebird for evil, and the fight to stay alive and return home. There’s a lot going on, and there’s so many twists and turns and revelations. What you think is going on is not what’s going on.

7. The romance is super unique. You’ve got Theo and Paul. They make up the love triangle. But then there’s Lieutenant Markov, who is Paul but not really Paul. He’s Paul from Russia. And Marguerite loves Lieutenant Markov, but maybe not Paul. So basically it’s a love square with Theo and Paul from two different dimensions. By loving Paul is she cheating on Lieutenant Markov? So yeah. Complicated.

8. I could have done with fewer flashbacks to what happened before Paul supposedly betrayed Marguerite’s family. Those were kind of boring and took me out of the suspense of what was going on then.

9. There were some pretty romantic quotes. I just loved the romance!

All in all, I really enjoyed A Thousand Pieces of You and can’t wait for the next book in the series!

Somehow I ended up with an extra hardback from the publisher, so I’m giving it away to someone who thinks they might love it as much as I did! I’m feeling generous so I’m willing to ship internationally, and I’m currently publicizing the Debut Author Challenge so you get extra entries if you sign up!

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Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White | Book Review

Posted October 6, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 4 Comments

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White | Book ReviewIllusions of Fate by Kiersten White
Published by HarperTEEN on September 9, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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3 Stars
Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.

I had not heard much about Illusions of Fate, but I thought it sounded like something right up my alley. I’ve been on a bit of a fantasy kick lately, and that cover is amazing. Then I heard from Jamie that Stephanie Perkins highly recommends it, and I pushed it right to the top! I loved the idea of magic being a huge story element, so I was excited to begin. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I love this place called Albion. It seems to be kind of a conglomeration of the Regency era in England and historic New York City. There were times I felt like I was sitting in Central Park, and there were times when I felt like I was sitting in an Austen-esque sitting room with lavish couches and tea on the table.

2. The nobility are the ones who hold magical powers! I felt like part of this exclusive club that I was let in on this secret, along with Jessamin. Different people hold and develop different powers, so no two nobles are the same. I liked that.

3. Jessamin is a very exotic-looking girl from the island of Melei, who comes to Albion to study at a prestigious school. Think Oxford. People from her island are not well-liked, so she is a bit of an outsider. She sure does catch the eye of Finn, aka Lord Ackerly. Something extremely romantic and rare happens between the two of him, and he is immediately captivated by her. His arch nemesis, Lord Downpike, has finally found Finn’s weakness. It’s Jessamin. She’s very spunky and not the kind of girl who sits back and lets people protect her, much to Finn’s chagrin.

4. Finn is super swoony. He’s 19, but not. And he’s so proper and romantic. And chivalrous. With these proper mannerisms and personality traits, though, he was not incredibly open with his feelings, which was a bit disappointing. He reminded me a tiny bit of Mr. Darcy. But just a tiny bit. He’s broody and opinionated and stubborn. But not as romantic.

5. I simply adored Jessamin’s friend, Eleanor. I could not get enough of her! She’s hysterical, and so much fun. I would love it if she would get her own book.

6. I think my favorite part of the story is the beginning. Everything is super mysterious and intriguing. Books are hawks as well. Who is Lord Ackerly? What is Lord Downpike hiding? Why does Finn’s house have so many doors that lead to random places? And the feeling of the book was just a bit eery and unsettling.

7. As the book moved forward, mysteries were solved very quickly, and information was kind of dumped on us. I began to get a little bored also, when things quit happening. The beginning was exciting, and there were all these ominous feelings going on. But then the excitement stopped for a while and I felt like I kept reading the same scenes over and over again.

6. I think the book was too short for the story it had to tell. I would have loved a more developed Albion, more depth to the characters (Finn has lived a LOT), and less of an easy and predictable ending. I think this might be one of the very few situations where I actually wanted a sequel. It was all just too formulaic, which was disappointing because the idea was super unique and could have been played with a lot more.

All in all, Illusions of Fate was a fun read. While it could not hold a candle to some of my favorite fantasies, it does have some unique elements that made it a worthwhile read. If you’re looking for a standalone fantasy, with a little mystery and romance I would have no problems recommending Illusions of Fate. While it lacks strong world building, there is a character named Sir Bird that I’m sure you’ll be fond of.


Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi | Book Review

Posted March 20, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 11 Comments

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi | Book ReviewShatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Series: Shatter Me #1
Published by HarperTEEN on November 15, 2011
Genres: Dystopia, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 368
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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4 Stars
Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

I’m part of a really exciting book club with Karin and Kat, called The Transatlantic Bookshelf, and Shatter Me was our first read! I’ve had my eye on it for a long time, so it was nice to finally have an excuse to read it. Sadly, Karin did not finish it. She’s considering trying it again later, but did just not love it this first time around. Kat and I both enjoyed it, though. I figured I’d put my thoughts together here! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I don’t really see the hype. I mean, I liked the book. I really did. But I guess when you hear every good thing possible about a series, almost anything would be disappointing. I guess the best way to put it is that I don’t see why Shatter Me stands above any other book out there. My mind was not blown like I had hoped.

2. Mafi’s writing style really irked me at first. There is a lot of repetition of words and thoughts, plus a lot of thoughts are crossed out (actually, strikeout would be the best term), with new thoughts added behind. It took me quite some time to get used to, but I did end up getting myself to a point where I could skim over them. I have to hand it to Mafi, though, she has a very unique writing style. It’s unique enough, though, that you might take a while to appreciate it like I did.

3. I love the idea of this story. I love that Juliette’s touch is fatal, but sexy Adam is immune. So to see how she is being able to finally touch someone… it was powerful. Not being able to hold a person’s hand, or to hug them? That’s hard. Humans need human contact. So when Juliette discovers she can have that, it was like she all of a sudden discovered how to see.

4. The romance was kind of a slow burn, but also kind of insta-lovey. And I’m not sure if I will be able to decide exactly which one it is. On the one hand, Juliette and Adam meet in a rather deceptive way. She thinks he is someone totally different than he ends up being. For a while she really hates him. But then she starts to recognize him for some reason, and becomes intrigued by his complete caring for her. On the other hand, once she realizes she can touch him, there was kind of a romantic explosion if you will. And I felt like feelings happened really fast. But then you learn things and discover maybe it’s not so insta-lovey. *shrug*

5. In any case, the romance was pretty swoony. Mafi knows how to write sultry scenes.

6. I hate Warner. He’s the guy trying to make Juliette a weapon for The Reestablishment, and he is slimy and creepy. Kind of serial killery. And I’m scared abotu what role he might have in future books.

7. I LOVE ADAM. Can I have him? He is just so sweet and loyal and courageous. And I will be reading the next book for Adam alone.

8. Too much metaphor? I think so. What do you think?

All in all, I enjoyed Shatter Me but do not really understand the hype. The writing style takes a while to get used to, but once I did I appreciated the glimpses it gave us into Juliette’s true thoughts. The idea of the story has me super intrigued, and I will be reading the next book because I have a crush on Adam and can’t wait for more of him.

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