Posted in YA Book Reviews

Heartless

IMG_20170516_113707_200.jpg

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

25613472

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

25489134

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.

Posted in YA Book Reviews

Trapped in Wonderland

Trapped in Wonderland by Dani Hoots

Goodreads Rating: 5 stars

Actual rating: 4.5 stars
I received a copy of Trapped in Wonderland from Netgalley. This is my own review. I was not paid for this review. 

This is the first book I have read by Dani Hoots and I can guarantee it will not be the last. Having said that, before I get to the “good stuff,” I want to explain why my actual rating was 4.5 stars.

There were times in the story, especially the first few pages, where it felt very rushed. The narration was very fast paced, almost like a kid hopped up on too much sugar. I felt I had to read fast to keep up. As the story went on, the narration pace slowed down.

I know this is an ARC, and hopefully there are many revisions to come as there are some things that need editing. This includes the use of wrong words, sentence structure issues, and some redundancy. I did not count off for this in my rating as, again, this is an ARC copy. I wanted to make note of this for editing purposes.

Normally I complain about weak female characters but in Trapped in  Wonderland this worked. Alice, who is not a very confident girl, gets sucked into Wonderland by kids she knew from school. It is her job to destroy Morpheus and the Cirque de Reves, a circus that brings about darkness from the inhabitants’ of Wonderland fears. Alice considers herself a weakling and is confused on what she can do to help. She is accompanied by the Mad Hatter, The March Hare, the Dormouse, the Cheshire Cat, and eventually the Knave of Hearts. This group, who develop and strengthen friendships as the adventure continues, traversed through the Red and White Kingdom, escapes the Dream Kingdom, enters the Dark Forest and lives to tell the tale. With each adventure, Alice becomes bolder and more confident in her abilities to possibly succeed when she meets with Morpheus for a second time. Will she succeed? You’ll just have to read the book to find out!

My favorite character is Chase, or as we know him from the stories, the Cheshire Cat. He is funny, troublesome, and caring. He’s definitely my book boyfriend and I look forward to seeing more of him in the series. I found this image by thezayniac and I think it would be a perfect Chase:

I found myself becoming completely immersed into Wonderland and this particular story. I liked the various nods to the original story, while keeping true to this retelling. I have read a few Alice in Wonderland retellings, and Trapped in Wonderland is probably my favorite. I look forward to recommending this to friends once it is released and I look forward to future books in this series!

Posted in YA Book Reviews

Secret Santa

1575141

Secret Santa by Sabrina James

Goodreads Rating: 5 stars

Secret Santa has been on my To Reads list since last year. I decided to give this book a go as I have been in a winter/Christmas read mood. I read all 368 pages of this book in one day. I could not put it down.

The theme of this book is unique, and though I have not read many Christmas books in the past, I feel it is very original and entertaining. The story takes place during a one week period at North Ridge High School. A memo is passed out indicating that the school would participate in a Secret Santa and the big reveal would be that Friday at the big Christmas dance. The story follows the point of view of multiple students, each who are excited for the opportunities it brings. This story brings about new relationships, realizations, destruction of friendships, and all the high school drama none of us  miss.

The character I liked least was Noelle. She lives next door to her childhood love. She draws his little brother, who is the same age as Noelle, as who she will be Secret Santa to. Noelle takes it upon herself to leave little gifts for the brother that she loves and gets upset when friends point out that what she is doing isn’t healthy.

This is a Christmas romance, new relationships form by the end as each character learns more and more about their secret crushes/Santas. There are a lot of twists by the end and I was happy with every single one of them. This is all-in-all, a very cute read that does not take long. If you love Christmas as much as I do, you will surely enjoy this book as well!

Posted in YA Book Reviews

Mirrored by Alex Flinn

19278261

 

Mirrored by Alex Flinn

Goodreads Rating: 5 stars

Actual Rating: 4.5 stars

Mirrored marks my final Retelling in the Retellings challenge I participated in this year. It has been fun. And I met the challenge goal of 12 retellings since January 1, 2016!!

Mirrored is the retelling of Snow White and her evil, wicked Step Mother. This book as the fairest of them all (Celiene), the wicked stepmother who is uber jealous (Violet), Kendra (from the book Beastly), various dwarves (including Jorge–pronounced George, Stacey, and Goose), the prince (British rock star named Jonah Prince), and a mango (instead of an apple…because they live in Florida).

I gave it only 4.5 stars because I felt like there was so much build up, creating the story and back drop, that by the time the “Big Kiss” happens, it was not as spectacular as it could have been. The whole situation felt awkward and forced. I also feel that the last few chapters were just kind of “bleh.” I was hoping for just as much excitement in the end as the story had at the beginning.

Either way, this story was wonderful. It is the 3rd book in the series. I didn’t read the second book, but it appears they can be read out of order. There was one comment regarding Beastly that threw me off. Kendra mentions the boy she turned into a beast during a conversation with a young Violet in the 1980s….but Beastly was more recent…they had technology such as Instant Messenger and cell phones, that it would be impossible in a LOT of ways that Beastly occurred before 1985. I am still trying to wrap my hand around it.

Posted in Uncategorized, YA Book Reviews

Three Dark Crowns

23207027

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Goodreads Rating 4 stars

Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

 

Three Dark Crowns was the book included in September’s OwlCrate box.

This book started very slow. I almost gave up on it a couple of times, eventually I read the last 3 chapters and it helped me continue going. The book does pick up, but to far close to the end of the story.

Three Dark Crowns is the story of triplet princesses who at a certain age are split from each other and brought to an area of Fennbrin to study a special talent, with these three princesses those talents are elemental, naturalist, and poison. Every generation produces triplet princesses to be trained and bred for the Beltane. At this Beltane, each princess has to show off her talent to the people. The next day, the three have to set forth and try to kill each other until one princess remains, becoming the queen.

Each princess has her own trials and tribulations. The chapters surrounding The Beltane were the most exciting. It had the most action, the  most betrayal, and the most Oh My God! moments. It ended in a cliffhanger. You have been warned.

The last few chapters and the cliffhanger are really what sold me on this series being promising. I am looking forward to this series and will definitely continue on.  The going comment in reviews is “it is slow, but keep going because it gets better.” Let me tell you…it gets WAY better!!!