Posted in YA Book Reviews

RoseBlood

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RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars

Actual Rating: 2.5 stars

 

RoseBlood came to me via one of my OwlCrate boxes. I immediately started to read it because I had enjoyed Howard’s Splintered so much, I just knew RoseBlood had to be just as good. Well, this was sort of a miss for me. I have never read or even watched The Phantom of the Opera so I know some things may be lost on me. I was intrigued by the story and had been looking forward to reading it when I first received it.

I want to end on a positive note with my book review, so I will start with what I didn’t like. The pace was not great. It was so slow starting out that it wasn’t until about halfway through the book, things got exciting. Also, completely pace related, but the climax of the story was kind of anti-climatic for me. The entire culmination of events happened in a few short pages, and then the last 10ish or so pages was how Rune dealt with the aftermath. Also, at the end, all is forgiven…and I can’t seem to wrap my head around it. Finally, the ink is red. This may seem like such a small minute detail, but it often hurt my eyes and I would constantly have to focus harder on the words. I get that it was supposed to enhance the eeriness and nostalgia to the story, but it got to be uncomfortable.

So things that I liked. I really enjoyed the budding relationship between Etalon and Rune. I wish I could have had more Etalon than was given. I am glad for how it ended, and would have been distraught had the ending been different. I would love to read a story about Etalon, but more exciting than RoseBlood. I liked Rune, even though I wished her history was a bit more beefed up. I really liked Aunt Catherine and wished she had a larger role during the story…she had a larger role at the end, but would have been nice to have her around more. I mean, I understand why, without giving any spoilers, but I still would have liked it. I feel she could have added some comic relief when needed :).  As a reader, it is important to feel the connection between Etalon and Rune, because, as the story infers, it is electric and intense. I felt that way reading their interactions. This is the biggest reason I rated up instead of down.

 

Posted in YA Book Reviews

Soulmated

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Soulmated by Shaila Patel

Goodreads rating: 5 Stars

 

I received a copy of Soulmated from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was not paid for this review. These opinions are my own.

 

Soulmated is the story about an Empath (someone who is often sensitive and affected by the energy or emotions of others around them) prince, Liam, who is on a quest to find The One in which he will become Soulmated with. The two would then become very powerful in the Empath community, of which there are MANY in the Council and even Elders who are leary of Liam finding a Soulmate because of the power the couple will have. Liam is searching for a female who his dad has visions about, someone on the cusp of becoming an Empath herself. Which leads him to a small town in North Carolina, where he meets Laxshmi, or,  “Lucky.” The two go on one hell of an adventure which takes the reader on a wild and emotional ride.

This book will literally steal your heart and capture your soul. This book left me so hungover, I felt like a junkie desperately searching for my next fix. This book left me so shattered, I couldn’t breathe, see, or think after I finished. The last time I felt this raw after a book was when I read I’m Still Here in 2014.

The story is very beautifully written, making the reader feel every raw emotion. It was such an easy read, but didn’t feel “simple” at all. I like to do most of my ratings on how I feel or connect with a book, and this book just sucked me in. I was a goner from the very beginning. It is one of those stories I want everyone to read because it is so great, but also want to keep it all to myself like a jealous lover (I will rip off a ladybug’s wings, I swear it, I will) afraid to let anyone else close.

This book can be enjoyed by high school and older. It is a young adult, but does not feel “kiddish” like some young adult books can come off like. I didn’t find myself frustrated with Lucky and her constantly wallowing in her head. I think Patel really wrote the story in such a way that it didn’t put the story down because the character couldn’t stop questioning every little action….because of what Lucky was experiencing, it made the constant self-doubt very understandable and acceptable. I loved reading the changes in Liam as he grew towards Lucky. I equally loved reading how Lucky really came into herself.

I LOVED Lucky’s mom…I know Lucky and her mom are constantly at war with each other, but I really enjoyed her. My one real qualm with the book is the Indian terminology used, not because there were Indian terms in it, but because for majority of the terms used, I had no idea what it was and my Kindle would not translate it, or would give a translation to some other word that I knew was not correct because it wouldn’t fit with the sentence. There also was not a dictionary of those terms that I could find in the book, which may have been helpful, especially because they appeared to be slang terms. I didn’t knock down the rating for this primarily because I didn’t feel like not knowing the terms took away from the story. Some of the words were types of endearment, and some were directed towards people, but I didn’t understand why, and that was mainly it.

So, as a recap….find the book Here on Amazon and give it a go!!!! Seriously!!

Posted in YA Book Reviews

The Seafarer’s Kiss

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The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

Goodreads rating: 4 stars

Actual rating: 3.5 stars

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I would like to think the author for this opportunity.

 

The Seafarer’s Kiss is a retelling of the Little Mermaid, and though this story is largely about mermaids, I feel it is more accurate that this tale is a retelling of Ursula. I say this largely on my knowledge of Disney’s version. Similarities between The Seafarer’s Kiss and The Little Mermaid include: The Little Mermaid and Ersel (The Seafarer’s Kiss) both saving a human from a shipwreck, they both desperately want to leave their underwater kingdom for the land, their love of all things human, and both stories have a Sea Witch (in The Seafarer’s Kiss, the Sea Witch is Loki).

Ersel (sounds like Ursula, doesn’t it??) is not a princess. She is anxiously waiting The Grading, where someone from Aegir’s court comes and determines the mermaids who come of age’s fertility and how many children “eggs” they can hatch to keep the population up. Once the number is released, this number follows them forever. If the number is high, then the males began fighting for them as mates. Ersel is desperately afraid and her dream is to leave the icy glacier their kingdom is situated and experience the rest of the world. Prior to The Grading, she meets and protects and young woman named Ragna, which she falls in love with. Eventually, she is found by her former friend, who betrayed her becoming a guard for the evil king, and is informed that she no longer had a choice but to become her mate. After The Grading, she makes a deal with Loki, knowing she should not. This deal went awry and she was turned into a “monster,” her fins turned into legs similar to Ursula’s. In order to prevent any potential spoilers, she is banished and takes up residence in a boat that has been shipwrecked since Ersel was a child. Loki visits her again to strike up a new deal in order to get her fins back, or something else she desires. Ersel then moves forward in the story with this new deal in mind.

I will not give away the end, but the second part of this story was much better than the first part. I felt that the story was a bit boring prior to Ersel’s banishment. I felt the relationship with Ragna came off kind of forced (from a writer perspective, not that Ersel was forced into a relationship by Ragna), specifically the intimate interactions the two encountered together. I also had a hard time connecting with any particular character and I felt disappointed with the end of the story.

Even though I feel this story is 3.5 overall, I still gave it a 4 star rating because I felt the retelling was a very unique aspect. I felt the imagery of the story was great, and for the  most part, I could visualize along with the story’s narrator. I especially liked the Norse aspect of included in the story. By the end of the story, I still thought this would be a great segue into Ursula/Sea Witch territory for a retelling!

This story is a pretty quick read and flows easily. It is just over 200 pages and can be easily knocked out in a day, depending on the kind of time a reader has to give it. I do wish it was a bit longer, in order to add more into the story to help connect, but if there is a sequel, I will definitely read it. At the end of the day, I would recommend this to others. Just because I did not connect, does not mean others will not. A lot of people really enjoy the book, I just wish there was more and felt parts a bit boring and hard to get through. I enjoyed the author’s writing style, which is important as well.

Posted in YA Book Reviews

Troy High

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Troy High by Shana Norris, Narrated by Khristine Hvam

Rating: 4 stars

Narrator Rating: 5 stars

 

I selected to listen to Troy High over reading the physical book due to the narration style of Khristine Hvam. Hvam brought this Homer’s Iliad retelling to life narrating the intense feud between the Troy High Trojans and the Laseed High Spartans. When the school rezoning happened and one of the popular, beautiful Spartan cheerleaders, Elena, becomes a Trojan teenager, it is only the beginning of a series of increasingly unfortunate events. Putting forward into motion these events, Elena begins dating the protagonist’s, Cassie, brother. Elena decided the perfect time to tell her Spartan on-again-off-again boyfriend, was during one of the first Spartan football games of the season. For the Spartans, this meant war.

Cassie is a sophmore in high school. She goes unnoticed until Elena comes to the school. Elena and Cassie become fast friends, even though Elena’s Spartan boyfriend is the older brother of Cassie’s BFF (whom she secretly wants more with), Greg. Once Elena befriends Cassie, Cassie grows a new found popularity, that she is not wanting to let go of. Once Elena break’s up with her Spartan boyfriend, the Spartans launch a series of pranks against the Trojans. Not to be outdone, Cassie’s 2 older brothers Perry and Hunter lead the charge in retaliation against the Spartans. Caught in between is Cassie and Greg, each on opposing sides, trying desperately to remain friends.

There were very intense moments within the story, especially the culmination of the gifted Trojan Horse from Spartan’s 10th Grade Council at the Homecoming game. I felt that the story was easy to follow along with. I felt that, even though there were times Cassie came off whiney, many of the students dealt with very real issues that we have all experienced in some capacity in high school.  I felt Cassie’s inner struggles about whether or not Greg reciprocates her feelings were very easy to relate to as I am sure at some point we have all been there.

I really enjoyed the narrator. Hvam has narrated many high rated series such as Daughter of Smoke and BoneVampire Academy, and Shade of Vampire. She was able to adequately portray and narrate emotions for the characters and the gut wrenching, intense pranks/experiences.

I am glad the end happened the way it did, but I was starting to question it at some point. I really didn’t know for a while if it would end how I desperately needed it to. This may not be the best written book you will ever read, but it was quick, enjoyable, and brought a new way to retell a classic like Homer’s Iliad.

Posted in YA Book Reviews

Heartless

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Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Rating: 2 stars

Narrator Rating: 5 stars

I received Heartless in my OwlCrate box for the Alice in Wonderland theme. I was super excited to read this story, however, it really missed the mark for me.

Heartless is the story of the young woman (Catherine) who turns into the Queen of Hearts in the beloved childhood classic, Alice in Wonderland. Even though the reader knows what the end result of the story is ultimately going to be, the path should have been an interesting one. I will admit, the last few chapters were my favorite and I felt they were the strongest. The events leading up to the end battle, were boring and it felt like too many words describing nothing in particular.

Catherine is the daughter of the Marquess of Rockturtle Cove. She has the dream of opening her own bakery and being the best baker in Hearts. Her mother forces her into a courtship with the King of Hearts, though she falls in love with another member of the Court. The story centers around her budding relationship with this person other than the King, who disgusts her.

I do not like writing negative reviews, at all, but I wanted to be honest with other readers. I was a bit disappointed, especially with how much I love Cinder. Meyer is a fantastic writer, and this story does show case her amazing writer skills, however, the story line was so boring.

The narrator was great! It was the same narrator of the Lunar Chronicles Rebecca Soler. My favorite part of the entire narration occurred towards the end, when Soler really broke out the Queen of Hearts evil voice. It is sad that the most enjoyment I got out of this story, was Catherine’s pain.

Posted in YA Book Reviews

A List of Cages

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A List of Cages by Robin Roe

Goodreads Rating: 5 stars

 

When I heard about A List of Cages I knew I HAD to read it. I received this book on January 13, 2017 and finished it in one sitting.

A List of Cages broke me to my very core. It strips away everything you feel, to the barest of raw emotion and then squeezes your heart until it feels like it is caving in on you. This story is about a boy who the system failed and broke and his journey to strength.

I have been struggling with this review for a while, because, what words can I say that will express what is this book? There are a lot of negative reviews on this book, but I work in this EVERY SINGLE DAY. I see these broken children. This book is a must to put to light the failures in the system.

My suggestion is to read this book. This pain is a necessary evil. I hope Robin Rowe has other books in the works.

Posted in YA Book Reviews

The Bear and the Nightingale

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The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars

Actual Rating: 4.5 stars

 

I received an advanced copy of The Bear and the Nightingale from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. 

 

The Bear and the Nightingale is based in Russia during the Rise of Christianity, but still full of the ‘old ways.’ This story is based in a small northern Russian village that still holds the old ways of paying tribute for protection to these deities. They leave tiny offerings to the small ‘demons’ (as they are referred to in story) such as bread, honeymead, and in some cases, blood. This story is rich in Russian folklore and it is obvious that the author has done her research. The main character in the story is Vasya, who was the last born of the village leader’s wife, Marina. Marina’s family has unique origins and many people refer to them as a witch. Vasya can see the tiny gods and makes friends with many. Marina dies after giving birth to Vasya, whom she knows is going to do great things and have the gifts of her family. When Vasya is young, her father sets to Moscow to obtain a wife for himself and a husband for his eldest daughter. He marries the Grand Prince’s daughter, Anna, who also has the sight. She is of the same blood line of Vasya. Whenever Anna sees the gods, she refers to them as demons and freaks out. She is often referred to as “mad.” On the way back to the tiny village, a mysterious stranger provides Vasya’s father with a necklace and instructs him to give it to Vasya and to keep by her always. The father provides this trinket with Dunya, the caregiver/nanny, and she decides to hold it until Vasya is much older. At a point in time later, a priest from Moscow is sent to this village once the village priest dies. He is set to “fix” the village and scare them with the love of God. They begin to stop providing offerings to these deities which causes them to slowly grow weaker. Ultimately, this leads to incidents that cause Vasya to go into the forest. She is chased by The Bear, a little one eyed being she has seen approximately 4 times in her life. Just when she thinks the Bear will get her, the mysterious stranger steps in to rescue her. This stranger is actually the frost demon. She resides with him for a period of time to grow stronger, and eventually goes back to her home village to try and save the village from destruction brought on by this priest.

This story is very beautifully written. The story flows well together and is interesting throughout the story. The events leading to the climax is that of a slow burn resulting in a big boom at the end. I fell in love with Vasya. I wished there was more to the story about the Frost Demon and his purpose for Vasya, it was only  mildly hinted at during her stay in his realm. I have learned that there are 3 books in this story so it is my hope that the Frost Demon appears and this development can go further. My main issue with the book is that there were a lot of words that I didn’t understand. At the end, I saw a dictionary, however, on a Kindle, I didn’t know until the end. I also felt some adjectives used were overused and I felt like I was constantly seeing them. There were also many names used for one character and that was often confusing. There were words that, even at me being almost 32, I had no clue what they meant and had never seen them before. All of this can be harmful to a reader. I felt very confused in many instances. As someone who does not know much about Russian Folklore, I had to tap on the words in the story for a wiki snippet, and in many cases there were none found. I feel like, for those readers who do not know Russian Folklore, this would have been an excellent opportunity to influence a reader that is unfamiliar to want to know more. After reading a Q& A on Goodreads for this book with the author, I am more intrigued. It would have been nice to have that translated, or at least more clear, in this story. As the series continues, I believe some of these ideas will become more apparent.

As I said above, this story is beautifully written. I like the character development, not only of Vasya, but of all of the characters. They are each a unique part to this story. The character sketch for each are pretty spot on. You cannot truly have had this story without any of these characters. I appreciate Vasya in so many ways it is ridiculous. I always complain about weak main female characters, and Vasya is not that. She is strong, she is independent, she is smart. Everyone turns against her, and she does not falter. At times, she shows her vulnerability, and she shows her strength. She is an ideal lead female character in a story. Vasya is strong willed, and “wild”, and outside the norm of females in that time period. I think it translates well to young females today. I like that Vasya is not a damsel in distress. She does not need or want to be saved, and she makes that very known in the story. She is a female that will love when she finds someone she wants to love. Not someone she is forced to be with. She specifically told the frost demon that she was going to be forced to marry and be her “husband’s mare”, or someone specifically for baby making purposes, and that she did not want that. It doesn’t say she doesn’t want to be married or have kids, but it hints that she will choose that only when she wants to, if at all. That was brilliant.

Finally, I do recommend this book. I am intrigued with knowing more about Russian folklore and hopefully I can learn some more so I am not totally confused in the future 🙂 I would recommend this book in physical form over Kindle format, especially for the use of the dictionary. My 4 star Goodreads Rating may have been a 5 star rating had I had some of the readily available to look. I will purchase the physical copy once it is released so that I can have the set as a whole once it is finished. The dictionary aspect will be very helpful and a lot less confusing.