Monday, November 30, 2015

Fairest (Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer | Review

Fairest (Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer | ReviewFairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5) by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3.5
Published by Feiwel & Friends on January 27th 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 222
Format: Hardcover
Source: BEA
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5 Stars

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

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Oh gosh where do I even begin with this review?  I’m a huge fan of the whole Lunar Chronicles series and I will say that I’m also a fan of Fairest but it’s really hard for me to put it into words.  Whereas I adored the rest of the series for the amazing characters and fast paced storyline full of twists and turns, I loved Fairest for the depth it gave to such a terrifying villain.  I’m still quite horrified by what I just read and I don’t think that will go away for quite some time.

Levana is the evil queen of Luna.  From the time I first read Cinder, I knew I would never like her.  Unlike with other villains (think The Darkling), Levana really has nothing to endear her to readers.  She’s just plain nuts and she has been from the start.  Sure she went through some horrifying things in her childhood but I have a feeling she was messed up even before all those things went down.  I admit that I read Winter before reading Fairest so some things that maybe would have been revealed for the first time in Fairest were actually already revealed to me in Winter.  I didn’t mind that at all though because those things were shown with more detail in Fairest than in Winter.

I’m not sure why I thought Fairest was going to make me feel sympathy towards Levana but it definitely did not do that.  In fact, it actually made me dislike her even more which I wasn’t sure was possible.  Levana suffered at the hands of her sister, Channary, and from what little I saw of their parents, they didn’t seem to be much better.  She never knew love from anyone in her family and when it came to romantic love, she didn’t have a clue what it entailed.  She was more obsessed with Evret Hayle than in love with him and she was never able to see that.  She was so delusional.  Everything she did, she did for herself.  She wanted adoration from her subjects but she went about obtaining that adoration in all the wrong ways.

I think the only thing I got joy out of in Fairest were the interactions between Celene and Winter.  There is mention in Winter of them being friends as young children and I really liked seeing that friendship in Fairest.  Obviously Selene was very young when Levana attempted to kill her so she and Winter didn’t have a ton of time to become friends but since they were pretty much raised together, they became fast friends.  They were adorable together and it broke my heart knowing that they didn’t get to spend nearly enough time together or grow up together like they should have.

Also, Levana’s husband, Evret Hayle, is mentioned in the other books in the series and from those few mentions, I expected some great romance and a man that could see past her craziness to the woman underneath.  Early on in Fairest I realized that was totally not the case.  Levana had no qualms manipulating Kai because she didn’t know love and she wasn’t looking for it.  That’s made pretty obvious early on in Fairest.

Overall, Fairest is just plain crazy and I loved it.  Marissa Meyer has been a favorite author of mine for quite some time but she really impressed me with this addition to the Lunar Chronicles.  It takes talent to get inside the mind of a person like Levana and I feel like she didn’t take away from the rest of the series.  Levana is still the villain and that’s pretty clear in Fairest.  It’s just a more in depth look at the villain we’ve come to know and hate.

What others are saying about Fairest:

Butterflies of the Imagination’s review: “Seriously. It’s only further proof that Marissa Meyer has a way with words that can’t be beat.”

Nice Girls Read Books’ review: “Fairest added so much more depth to Luna, Levana, Winter and even Cinder (we get to see baby Selene!) and I can’t wait to read the final instalment in this series now!”

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Such Sweet Sorrow by Jenny Trout | Mini Review

Such Sweet Sorrow by Jenny Trout | Mini ReviewSuch Sweet Sorrow by Jenny Trout
Published by Entangled on February 4, 2014
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
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3 Stars

Never was there a tale of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo…But true love never dies. Though they’re parted by the veil between the world of mortals and the land of the dead, Romeo believes he can restore Juliet to life, but he’ll have to travel to the underworld with a thoroughly infuriating guide.

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, may not have inherited his father’s crown, but the murdered king left his son a much more important responsibility—a portal to the Afterjord, where the souls of the dead reside. When the determined Romeo asks for help traversing the treacherous Afterjord, Hamlet sees an opportunity for adventure, and the chance to avenge his father’s death.

In an underworld filled with leviathan monsters, ghoulish shades, fire giants and fierce Valkyrie warriors, Hamlet and Romeo must battle their way through jealousy, despair, and their darkest fears to rescue the fair damsel. Yet finding Juliet is only the beginning, and the Afterjord doesn’t surrender souls without a price…

picadillyblueSuch Sweet Sorrow is a lot more than a retelling of Romeo and Juliet.  I was pleasantly surprised to find many more of Shakespeare’s characters represented in this book and while it had it’s flaws, it was an enjoyable read.

Jenny Trout has a way with words.  Such Sweet Sorrow is beautifully written.  However, I feel like combining a Shakespeare retelling with some heavily descriptive writing might not have been the best route.  Such Sweet Sorrow was a good story but it dragged.  It wasn’t a long book but the combination of it being a Shakespeare retelling and having Jenny Trout’s writing style made it seem like it was never going to end.  I found myself setting it aside to pick up other books because I never seemed to make any progress with it.  Maybe it was just me but it was a really heavy read.

Like I mentioned earlier, this is more than a Shakespeare retelling.  Hamlet makes an appearance, there are Valkyries, and of course Remeo and Juliet are present.  Sure, the story mainly focuses on Romeo going to the underworld to get Juliet back but Hamlet is there as his guide and the Valkyries play a big role in the story as well.  It was a really unique take on Shakespeare’s story.  Also, Juliet was pretty badass!  She didn’t want to rely on Romeo for her freedom and her life.  She took control of her own destiny and I loved that about her.  She always seems to weak in the original story and in many retellings but not this one.

Overall, Such Sweet Sorrow is a flawed but fun read.  Romeo and Hamlet’s friendship as well as their journey through the underworld make for a great story.

What others are saying about Such Sweet Sorrow:

Blood, Sweat and Books’ review: “Sounds bizarre and even I admit it is but somehow it worked out in the end.”

The YA Kitten’s review: “This is definitely one of those novels that will either work for you or not work for you.”

Reviews by Molly’s review: “With rollercoaster thrills, young love romance, and an ending that leaves you dying for a sequel, this story is definitely a keeper!”

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge | Review

Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge | ReviewGilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge
Published by Harper Teen on April 1, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 111
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
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5 Stars

A romantic and fantastical reimagining of the classic Cinderella tale,Gilded Ashes is a novella by Rosamund Hodge set in the same world as the author's debut novel, Cruel Beauty.

Orphan Maia doesn't see the point of love when it only brings pain: Her dying mother made a bargain with the evil, all-powerful ruler of their world that anyone who hurt her beloved daughter would be punished; her new stepmother went mad with grief when Maia's father died; and her stepsisters are desperate for their mother's approval, yet she always spurns them. And though her family has turned her into a despised servant, Maia must always pretend to be happy, or else they'll all be struck dead by the curse.

Anax, heir to the Duke of Sardis, doesn't believe in love either—not since he discovered that his childhood sweetheart was only using him for his noble title. What's the point of pretending to fall in love with a girl just so she'll pretend to fall in love with him back? But when his father invites all the suitable girls in the kingdom to a masked ball, Anax must finally give in and select a wife.

As fate would have it, the preparations for the masquerade bring him Maia, who was asked by her eldest stepsister to deliver letters to Anax. Despite a prickly first encounter, he is charmed and intrigued by this mysterious girl who doesn't believe in love. Anax can't help wishing to see her again—and when he does, he can't help falling in love with her. Against her will, Maia starts to fall in love with him too. But how can she be with him when every moment his life is in danger from her mother's deadly bargain?

picadillyblueGilded Ashes is a novella set in the same world as Cruel Beauty.  That was all it took to get me to give this book a shot.  While I normally don’t love novellas, that was not the case with this one.  If more novellas were like Gilded Ashes, I would be a lot more inclined to read them.

It was really easy to tell that Gilded Ashes was set in the same world as Cruel Beauty.  There is a cameo from the Gentle Lord but it’s more than that.  The setting has the same feel as Cruel Beauty.  It’s a gorgeous setting with more than a little bit of magic.  The magic in this universe isn’t all good though.  There is a lot of dark magic in Maia’s world and it’s the cause of pretty much all her problems in life.

Maia is not your typical Cinderella.  She’s strong and fierce and her fairy godmother is not one that I would want.  Her family isn’t like the typical Cinderella family either.  Her sisters can be cruel but they can also be kind.   And when they are cruel, it’s only because they are forced to be.  Maia and her stepsisters are all looking for the same thing; love.  They just have different ways of looking for it.  The relationship between Maia and her stepsisters was really great.  It starts off a little rough but all three of the girls really develop throughout the course of the novella.  All the characters are surprisingly well-developed for such a short story.

Maia and Anax’s relationship isn’t typical at all.  They become friends through a random stroke of fate and from there things start to become more between them.  While the relationship did come across as a bit rushed, I expected that.  You can’t go from complete strangers to two people in love in 111 pages without rushing some things.  However, I didn’t feel like it was a bad thing.  While I would have liked a bit more backstory from Anax, I still really liked him.  Not as much as Ignifex, that’s for sure, but a close second.

Overall, Gilded Ashes is a fabulous addition to the stories set in the Cruel Beauty universe.  I hope that Rosamund Hodge continues to write fairytale retellings because she is truly fabulous at giving them her own spin.

What others are saying about Gilded Ashes:

Paperback Wonderland’s review: “This novella was pretty much amazing, albeit too short.”

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Blog Tour: The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman | Review

Blog Tour: The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman | ReviewThe Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman
Published by Delacorte Press on February 11, 2014
Genres: Horror
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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4 Stars

Death hasn't visited Rowan Rose since it took her mother when Rowan was only a little girl. But that changes one bleak morning, when five horses and their riders thunder into her village and through the forest, disappearing into the hills. Days later, the riders' bodies are found, and though no one can say for certain what happened in their final hours, their remains prove that whatever it was must have been brutal.

Rowan's village was once a tranquil place, but now things have changed. Something has followed the path those riders made and has come down from the hills, through the forest, and into the village. Beast or man, it has brought death to Rowan's door once again.

Only this time, its appetite is insatiable.

Last year I was really tempted to read McCormick Templeman’s debut novel, The Little Woods, but for some reason, I put it off. I’m glad I didn’t do the same thing with The Glass Casket. After reading this one, I’m definitely going back and reading The Little Woods because The Glass Casket was fabulous.

The Glass Casket is a chilling, atmospheric read that captivated me from the start. Admittedly, it does not have the quickest start but if you’re willing to get past that (and you should be) the story that’s held between these pages is worth it. The story is the perfect mix of fantasy, romance, and horror. It’s easy to see from the very first pages that The Glass Casket is not your typical fantasy story. While I wouldn’t compare it to The Near Witch in the typical way, it has a similar feeling to it, if you get what I mean.

The writing is fabulous. It’s probably one of my favorite parts about the book and the reason that I definitely will be checking out more from McCormick Templeman. It’s not overly descriptive but definitely is not lacking in that department. It’s the perfect style of writing for this kind of story. It gives the book an added sense of creepiness and mystery.

The characters were amazing. Rowan is not the easiest person to like at the start and neither are Tom and Jude but they did grow on me. The interactions between all of them were wonderful and it’s easy to see the relationships between them all. No matter what the relationship was, they all had a certain chemistry to them.

Overall, I would definitely recommend The Glass Casket to fans of fantasy with a hint of horror. McCormick Templeman does not hold anything back with this book.

What others are saying about The Glass Casket:

The Book Smugglers’ review: “The Glass Casket is not an easy story, nor is it one that leaves you feeling giddy and put in the mind of happily ever afters with rosebuds and rainbows.”

The YA Kitten’s review: “Is The Glass Casket a novel worth reading and thinking about? Definitely.”

Book Swoon’s review: “If you are a fan of darker, fairy tale inspired retellings, then this book is for you.”

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour!
January 31st – Bookish
February 1st – Katie’s Book Blog
February 3rd – I’d so Rather be Reading
February 4th – Forever YA
February 5th – Wastepaper Prose
February 6th – Stories & Sweeties
February 7th – Peace Love Books
February 8th – The Hiding Spot
February 10th – Children’s Book Review
February 11th – The Midnight Garden  
February 13th – Dear Teen Me
February 17th – The Midnight Garden
Monday, January 20, 2014

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge | Review

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge | ReviewCruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Published by Harper Teen on January 28, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 342
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

Cruel Beauty, Rosamund Hodge’s debut novel, is one of the best retellings I’ve read. Really it’s just one of the best books I’ve read in quite some time. I was hooked from the very beginning and I stayed up late into the night finishing it because I needed to know how it ended!

Everything about Cruel Beauty was fabulous but I have to draw attention to the characters. Nyx, Astraia, Shade, Ignifex, and even the minor characters were fleshed out. Nyx and Astraia are twins that couldn’t be more different. Nyx is our protagonist but to be honest, you may not like her to begin with. She’s a little cruel. She knows she has hatred and darkness in her heart and she’s not sure she can live like that but she doesn’t know how to change that. Astraia is the sweet daughter who is doted on and never has to face the truth. Both of them have a lot more to them though. Shade and Ignifex share some similar qualities but they are also two very different guys. Shade is sweet and caring whereas Ignifex is cruel, a little malicious, but oh so sexy. Oh and did I mention they look exactly alike? It’s only the personalities that cause the differences. And as I said earlier, even the minor characters, such as The Kindly Ones and Nyx’s family, are fleshed out.

The romance was a major focus of the story but it didn’t detract from the rest of the story. There is not instalove here. There is instant attraction but Nyx knows that she can’t possibly love either Shade or Ignifex immediately. She gets to know them both before she makes any sort of decision regarding her romantic feelings. The guys are both very different love interests though. Shade is a captive, just like Nyx. There is a sort of camaraderie between them. They have things in common and she knows that Shade is the guy she should love. Ignifex is her captor but he’s not as cruel and malicious as he seems. Sure he strikes bargains with people that usually lead to death but that’s not all there is to him. However, Nyx knows she should never love him because of what he did to her family. The romance really is twisted and I was torn between Shade and Ignifex for quite some time. (Ignifex won out in the end.)

The story is not your typical Beauty and the Beast retelling and I loved that. This time the beast isn’t so much a beast on the outside but instead he’s a bit beastly on the inside. What a twisted way to play things and I adored it. There’s also so much more going on. The beast is cursed in ways that I never saw coming. The creatures in charge have left Ignifex with very little actual power. It’s up to him and Nyx to figure out how to defeat them and save Arcadia without having to kill Ignifex. There were so many twists and turns with this story. I had no clue how things were going to play out in the end and I was on the edge of my seat.

Overall, Cruel Beauty is a must read for everyone. I dare you not to love it!

What others are saying about Cruel Beauty:

Wrapped Up In Books’ review: “I don’t doubt Cruel Beauty will find many fans.”

Christina Reads YA’s review: “An excellent, excellent debut.”

The Book Hookup’s review: “I inhaled this book in a few short hours and I couldn’t put it down until I was finished.”

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Underworld (Abandon #2) by Meg Cabot | Review

Underworld (Abandon #2) by Meg Cabot | ReviewUnderworld by Meg Cabot
Series: Abandon #2
Published by Scholastic on May 8, 2012
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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4 Stars

Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera isn’t dead.

Not this time.

But she is being held against her will in the dim, twilit world between heaven and hell, where the spirits of the deceased wait before embarking upon their final journey.

Her captor, John Hayden, claims it’s for her own safety. Because not all the departed are dear. Some are so unhappy with where they ended up after leaving the Underworld, they’ve come back as Furies, intent on vengeance…on the one who sent them there and on the one whom he loves.

But while Pierce might be safe from the Furies in the Underworld, far worse dangers could be lurking for her there…and they might have more to do with its ruler than with his enemies.

And unless Pierce is careful, this time there’ll be no escape.

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I really wanted to love Underworld. I’m a huge Meg Cabot fan as well as a Greek mythology fan. While I enjoyed Underworld I found it seriously lacking in some ways and I just couldn’t love it.

Pierce is probably the biggest problem. She is such a contradictory character. One second she hates John and the next second she loves him. She talks about wanting to go home and when she gets there she wants to go back to the Underworld. It’s like, seriously Pierce, make up your mind. It was clear to see how much she was hurting John with her indecisiveness.

As for John, I felt more like he was the victim. The synopsis makes him seem like this evil guy but he’s just looking out for Pierce. Everything he does is for her safety. He’s a good guy who obviously loves Pierce and only wants what is best for her. And at every turn Pierce says or does something to hurt him. I felt bad for him more than I felt bad for Pierce.

The plot was rather slow to pick up. There’s some exploring of the Underworld in the beginning, some new characters introduced, and a lot of history explored before anything really happens. And even when things do start happening there are a lot of breaks in the action and at times it was a bit dull. Also, while some questions were answered in this book a lot were left open and I really would have liked a few more answers than were given.

The mythology in Underworld is a lot better than that in Abandon. The original story of Hades and Persephone is expanded upon and it’s not quite the traditional story. The elaboration of the myth was the most fascinating part of the book. I am a total mythology geek and I was pleasantly surprised with this retelling.

Overall, Underworld is a pretty strong follow-up to Abandon. It will definitely appeal to Greek mythology fans and I’m now eagerly awaiting the final book in the trilogy.

Looking for more reviews of Underworld?

The Teen Book Guru’s review
Book Chic Club’s review

Monday, June 13, 2011

Abandon (Abandon #1) by Meg Cabot | Review

Abandon (Abandon #1) by Meg Cabot | ReviewAbandon by Meg Cabot
Series: Abandon #1
Published by Scholastic on April 26, 2011
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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4 Stars

Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can't help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she's never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

But now she's moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.

Only she can't. Because even here, he finds her. That's how desperately he wants her back. She knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly heaven, yet she can't stay away . . . especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld.

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Meg Cabot is one of my favorite authors and I have to say that I was disappointed with Abandon.  Nothing really stood out to me in this one and while it did a good job setting things up for the next book, I would’ve liked more.

Pierce Oliviera has not had the best luck in the last few years.  First, she died.  Admittedly they were able to revive her but she was still dead for an hour.  Next, she was kicked out of her school for something she didn’t do and now she is forced to move to Isle Huesos with her mother. Her mom thinks the new place will be a fresh start but Pierce knows better.  He will follow her wherever she goes.  Who is he and what does he want from Pierce?

I liked Pierce.  I expected no less from a Meg Cabot character.  She was not necessarily a smart girl but she was pretty funny.  She got herself into some crazy situations and it was fun reading about how she got out of them.  John (mystery boy) was pretty hot.  He was moody and mysterious and possibly a bit insane but overall, a good counter balance to Pierce.  All of her emotions were easy to see but his were a little harder to figure out.  I look forward to more of his story in the next book.

The plot was a bit confusing.  Things kept switching from past to present and I had a hard time keeping track of it all.  Once I did figure that out though it was better.  Things were a little slow until the end but not enough to stop reading.  The next book should be a lot easier to get into.

The mythology aspect was, by far, my favorite part.  I thought Meg Cabot did a wonderful job weaving it into the story without making it feel like a school lesson. The Hades and Persephone myth is a great one so I am glad Meg Cabot chose to write about it.  Reading more about it in the next book will be fun. =)

Overall, Abandon is a unique new twist on the Hades and Persephone myth.  Meg Cabot fans should definitely check it out.  If you haven’t read anything from Meg Cabot though I recommend maybe starting with a different one that better showcases her talent.

What others are saying about Abandon:

A Bookworm’s Haven’s review: “I think the concept is great, but the story fell flat.”

Once Upon A Twlight’s review: “Meg is definitely a author I will be reading for a long time.”

Bitten and Written’s review: “The book was a super fast read and very light.”