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.

 

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.

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.

Stealing Snow

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Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige, Narrated by Bailey Carr

Goodreads Rating: 2 stars

Narrator Rating: 3.5 Stars

 

Going into this book, I had mixed hopes. I had high hopes that it would be a fantastically interesting story and be different than Dorothy Must Die series. I was mistaken.

This story starts out with Snow being in a mental institution. She has a lot of inner conflict, and is a whiny baby. Seriously. Plus…3 love interests. Seriously?  Three. She came into Algid after a boy from the hospital she was at, a boy she loved more than anything. Then, after she met Kai, she wanted him. They shared a kiss together, she freaked out a bit. She kept thinking about that kiss, and Bale (the first boy). Then after she left the River Witch she got to know Jagger, of the Robbers, better she started thinking about him romantically, while thinking about Bale and Kai. It got really disturbing. It felt like I was reading or was a part of a drama queen teen’s day dream because she is bored with her life and wants to think it would be more exciting if she was the Ice Queen.

The story eventually got interesting at the end. I think if you removed Snow’s character entirely, the story would have been much better. That is very sad. I will probably eventually continue on with the series as it comes out, but it just did not excite me.

I wish my review could be more positive, so I will end on some good notes. The Narrator worked, even though i feel some of the male characters sounded a little similar. I thought the  narrator’s voice sounded childish to fit the character of Snow. (That is a positive…it worked, I believed she was Snow). The excitement at the end was good. Honestly, I am waiting for the shoe to drop that when the series is over, Snow is going to wake up as if the whole series was a dream, and be right back in the insane asylum.

Lock and Mori

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Lock and Mori by Heather W. Petty

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars

 

I started reading this book in March, and finally finished today, October 1, 2016. I had a lot of hopes for this book, and have been wanting to read it for a while. The story was slow for more than 100 pages out of a 245 page book. The last 100 pages of the book really sucked me in though, and that is why I gave this book 3 stars overall for the rating.

Sherlock and Mori are in high school, and they meet for the first time at a crime scene in Regent’s Park. From there, they go on an adventure trying to solve the murder, which turns into a string of murders. On this adventure, Mori learns the history of her mother’s past while trying to deal with an abusive father who is a DS on the police force in London.

I wasn’t a fan of Mori’s character, but I LOVED Sherlock. I thought his character sketch was well written. Mori was very secretive, and tried to keep everyone, especially Sherlock, out of knowing her life and what was going on. She was very sneaky, and tried to do things that she could have gotten hurt or killed

I loved the last 100 pages of the book. They were fast paced, gripping, and heart wrenching. If you pick this book up, just hang in there. The first half of the story is really slow but gets better.

The Wicked Will Rise

The Wicked Will Rise

The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars

First, let me explain, that I think 3 stars is being pretty generous. I have had a lot of hope for this series, I really have. My issue with this story, is similar to my issues with Dorothy Must Die, in that a LOT of information was given, and none of it was necessary. In fact, this book was 293 pages of What the hell?, and felt pointless.

This review is going to be super short. Like, so short it is less than 200 words short. I want to not give any spoilers, even though there aren’t really any spoilers to give. However, of all the ways I could have predicted this book ending, how it ended, was not even on the radar. I am really not sure where this story is going. It is not that I want a predictable story, but these stories goes from point A to point Z and not hit any points in between. I cannot remember the last time I felt this confused and this frustrated from reading a book or series. I feel it held a lot of promise, but somewhere it is just not connecting.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

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Goodreads Rating: 2.5 stars

Narrator Rating: 4 stars

 

I was suggested to read this book by my boyfriend’s sister, in time for the movie. I want to first point out, I am not a fan of the writing style of the time period, and I have never really been a fan of Jane Austen. I do not even enjoy watching movies her books are based off of. However, I gave this a good shot. And I didn’t care for it.

My low rating is simply because I did not care for it. It did not wow me. But, I admit, it is because, as I said, I do not like Austen style books. So. This rating is skewed in that regards.

I did like the narrator. I think that is the only reason I  kept listening. She made it enjoyable. I was a fan of Grahame-Smith’s Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter so I was looking forward to the style. I think that his ability to blend in his story in the Austen style was good, so my rating isn’t necessarily because of him. He did a good job. I just didn’t like the overall story of Austen’s.

A Thousand Nights

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Goodreads Rating: 3 stars

Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

 

I had high hopes when I checked out A Thousand Nights from the library. I selected this book as one of the books for the Retellings Challenge I am participating in. This story is a retelling of Arabian Nights. Where the book did well in challenging gender, power, and love/sacrifice, it failed for me in the overall final product.

The leading lady in this story is nameless, she is referred to more or less as sister, and once in the castle, Lady-Bless. I find that intriguing, since this nameless female sets off to become one of the most powerful and revered female in the land. She saves the lives of many, after 300 females died before her, she manages to keep Lo-Melkhiin’s interest to keep living another day.

Where this story failed for me, the book descriptions talk about the stories that the main character weaves keeping the interest of Lo-Melkhiin. There were not many stories told by the main character, and the ones that were told, did not last long. Lo-Melkhiin, or the being inside of Lo-Melkhiin, was fascinated by the power that Lady-Bless some how had.

This story seemed to take forever, the best part was the final event at Lady-Bless’ sister’s wedding. I felt that it took me longer to read this book than it should have. It was slow, and many parts were boring or unnecessary. The writing style flowed smoothly. I feel, overall, though the concept is intriguing, it failed to deliver. You will have to read it for yourself to see what you think. I think with other stories coming out retelling Arabian Nights, this one is not up to snuff.

 

A Tale Dark and Grimm-Retellings Challenge

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A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars

 

I may need some time to process this story. It took me approximately 16 days to get through it. It normally does not take me 2 weeks to read a book. This book was roughly 260 pages. I can generally read that in one sitting.

This book is basically about Hansel and Gretel and them going through multiple stories of the Grimm fairy tales. This book was gruesome in parts, over the top in parts, and wildly entertaining in others. Is it my favorite retelling I have ever read? No. Will I continue on with the series? Eventually. I am not in any rush. I think this book would probably be great as an Audiobook. There is some extra outside dialogue in the pages that is very entertaining and I think a narrator would have been perfect! Specifically I think Nick Podehl would have been great! (He narrates the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness).

I do think the mashup is pretty nice and different. I like how two children from one tale made their way through a chunk of their life and intermingled with other tales. Even though it took me some time, it was a nice, easy, read. I don’t really know what took so long, especially since I was reading and completing other books. I think, mainly, I had to read it in parts to maintain my interest. Hansel could be a bit much from time to time, but so could Gretel, and I would find it annoying. That is where I leave it, great writing, just okay characters, and gruesome (sometimes hard to believe it is a children’s book).

Crane

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Overall Rating: 4.75

Goodreads Rating: 5

Rating Breakdown:

  1. Originality: 5
    1. Genre based ratings:
      1. Fantasy: 5
      2. Paranormal: 5
      3. Horror: 3
      4. Retellings: 5
  2. Character Development: 5
  3. Plot: 5
  4. Narration:  5

I received this audiobook from Audiobook Blast (dot) com for free in exchange for my honest review. This review is my own opinion, I have not been paid or bribed or blackmailed into giving it.

I want to point out, if this is the first review you have ever read of mine, that I do not write *book reports*. I feel that you can read the synopsis of the book on Goodreads, Amazon or Audible, and get a really good idea of what the book is about. My reviews are my opinions, thoughts and feelings, what I liked and what I disliked about the book, or in case of audiobooks, about the narration as well. I try not to give away spoilers, but in some cases, I can’t always help it. If I am going to give a spoiler, I try to state that I will give a spoiler. I do try to give clear cut examples when necessary when explaining my opinions or thoughts.

Originality:

Where do I even start in this review? It has been a while that I listened to a book that was so captivating in a way that had me completely enamoured that I wanted to listen to it until I was finished. In one sitting. Whether I was working or not, cooking dinner, washing dishes, cleaning my house. It did not matter.

Stacey Rourke writes beautifully. I liked that it bounced from past, with Ichabod,  to present, with his heir, Ireland. At first, the bouncing back and forth threw me off, but as the plot kept thickening, it began to make sense. Rourke takes the story we all know and creates this magnificent retelling into events that relates it to Ichabod’s heir who happens to end up in Sleepy Hollow after a miserable break up. As Ichabod’s story’s timeline continues, it relates Ireland’s present storyline, and then the big  AH-HA! moment occurs, and I felt like I couldn’t listen fast enough!

As far as where it lines up with other books in the same genre, this is a great retelling. I think, in my opinion, you shouldn’t mess with a classic, because it is a classic for a reason. Rourke did something absolutely amazing with Crane, however, so I had to give it a 5 star rating in the retelling section of my rating breakdown (above). Another top rating for Goodreads is that it is classified as horror, and I cannot fully see why. Yes, I guess in some aspects I can understand why it would be horrorish, but to be a “top” genre listing, I would have expected more “horror”. There was really only ONE big scene that was “gruesome”, even though there are multiple deaths/murders in the book (without giving anything away, as a reader/audience member, you are only present truly for two of the deadly events, but you only know who the Headless Horseman/Haitian is for one of them). I just dont classify that as “horror.” When I think “horror,” I think early Anita Blake Vampire Hunter by Laurell K Hamilton that caused me to lack sleep at night. Or, in it’s day, H.P. Lovecraft stories. I felt the death in this book was just as exciting as the rest of the story, and when the audience finds out the AH-HA, “whodunnit” moment, it becomes that more exhilarating, because, me personally, I didn’t expect it or see it coming.  In line with other fantasy and paranormal genres, Crane has enough fantasy and paranormal aspects to keep the reader enticed and enjoy and it deserves a 5 star rating.

Character:

I think there was excellent character development throughout the entire story. Each character had their own weaknesses and growth. Ireland went through a horrible breakup, in many books these days, a 24 year old female would have sulked around feeling sorry for herself, but not Ireland. Ireland Crane got herself a new ‘do, a kickass new tattoo, a new job, moved to a new town and started a new life. Of course, her life wasn’t exactly what she was expecting. The town was sketchy and deaths started happening the moment she got there, but hey, it sure beats the life she left! Right?! I mean, a couple days after she moves in, her landlord is beheaded, she throws coffee on a really hot “maintenance man”/property owner, nearly gets fired from her job, meets the Rip Van Winkle, discovers the Horseman is out to get her AND her cheating ex fiance hunts her down trying to convince her she needs to get over seeing him sexing up on some fluzey in their bed. Ireland Crane is pretty badass in my book. And I barely even scratched the surface. However, even if Ms. Crane is the main character, she is not the only character. I couldn’t really find any flaws in the the development or character sketches of any of them. I felt each character played their importance. There weren’t really any “unnecessary” characters or character interactions.

Plot:

Crane starts out on the ground running. I can’t really think of a time where it was ever slow. There wasn’t ever really a dull moment where I was looking at the watch, thinking to myself, when is this book going to be over? All I kept thinking is, “Is Raven on Audible yet?”. (Which it is not by the way….however, the first 3 books in this series is out in book format).  The entirety of this book keeps a pace that is steadily increasing and does not taper off. It ends exactly where you expect book to begin, with the Raven stating “Nevermore.” So I am extremely excited. It is one of those books I want everyone to read or listen to! I gave the plot line a 5 star rating for the fact that 1) I didn’t get bored. 2) It kept a fast past. 3) It not only keeps your interest, but it continually peaks your interest. Rourke keeps introducing characters, items, stories, etc that you want to find out more about. 4). This book is not that long. For the audio version, it is 8 hours in length. I just listened to another audiobook that was the same length and it took me over a month to listen to. I finished it a couple of weeks ago, I am still not done with the review. I started this book and finished this book, within a couple of days (unfortunately, life happens sometimes and I can’t read or listen as much as I would like). I finished the book about 10 minutes ago and this review is almost finished. That is how much I enjoyed this book. If an 8 hour book takes me 30+ days to listen to and another 2-3 weeks to attempt to finish a review, then it probably isn’t going to have a high rating, but if an 8 hour book takes me a couple of days, and I finish the review the exact same day I finish listening? Then I probably absolutely loved it.  🙂 That is a good plot line if you ask me. An author that can keep you that engrossed in a story, is worth a listen or read.

Narrator:

I fell in love with Karen Krause. This was my first book of hers, and I do hope it is not my last. She brought every character to life. She has a true talent for voices. Each one was significantly different, that you would think it was an “all cast” production. She delivers each snarky punch line to it’s fullest extent. I loved her so much, I told her on twitter, just so she knows. I appreciate that Mrs. Krause was kind enough to provide this audiobook for free.  I look forward to the remainder of this series, and I may need to go hunt down other books she has been a part of bringing to life!

Overall:

Finally, my last words that I will leave with you. I know this review seems weird, compared to some of my others that I have written in the past, but I just don’t want to give anything away. The Headless Horseman has really never been one of my favorite stories. Truly. I remember seeing the cartoons when I was younger, and I am familiar with the story. But it was never my favorite. I haven’t even seen the Johnny Depp version (which, by the way, I got a chuckle out of the reference in Crane). Ms. Rourke has made me want to give the Horseman a fair chance. She made me want to get to know Ichabod and Katrina the same way she has allowed me to get to  know and love Ireland and Noah. So that has to say something, right? Also, the covers of these books are GORGEOUS!!!!!