Fairytale Retelling, Fantasy, romance, young adult

Book Review: Beauty by Robin McKinley

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Title: Beastly
Author: Alex Flinn
Publisher: HarperTeen
Length: 336 pages, Paperback
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Fairytale retelling
Rating: 4 Folded Pages

Blurb:
I am a beast. A beast! Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright. I am a monster.
You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll,stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell.
Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.

Review:
This is another reread for me. As I’ve said many times on this blog, 2015 has been all about rereading. I definitely enjoyed this reread almost as much as reading it the first time around. Almost. I think I’m starting to get too old for YA because I find the characters more annoying than I used to.

Anyway, Kyle was very annoying at the beginning of the book and his annoyingness went up and down as the book continued. I suppose part of that is the point but I still felt like he didn’t change much. He was still very selfish even if he learned how to be kind of not selfish.

I also found aspects of this story entirely too creepy. I understand that Flinn had to find a way for Lindy to stay with him but the watching thing was super weird. Maybe it was just me but it wigged me out a bit.

As always, Flinn’s writing is great. It has great flow and enough challenge to keep me interested without getting boring. I like the way she words her sentences.

I can’t help but compare it to the movie. I watched it a while ago on Netflix and I cringe at how much they changed. Like the Beast wasn’t actually a Beast but just deformed. They definitely took a liberty there. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a different version aside from the movie cover book so that’s what I’m stuck with for the time being.
Either way, as far as retellings go this is a solid, modern version that I really enjoyed. Nothing will stand up to Beauty by Robin McKinley for me but this is still pretty high on the list of Beauty and the Beast retellings I’ve read.

Fantasy, romance, steampunk

Book Review: Blameless by Gail Carriger

blameless by gail carriger

Title: Blameless
Author: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Orbit
Length: 384, Mass Market Paperback
Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk, Romance
Rating: 4 Folded Pages

Warning: Spoilers for the first and second books possibly in blurb and review!

Click to see previous book reviews for the series – First book: Soulless Second book: Changeless

Blurb:
Quitting her husband’s house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon becomes the scandal of the London season.

Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London’s vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.

While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires — and they’re armed with pesto.

Review:
While this book didn’t live up to Soulless, it was better than Changeless. I feel like this says a lot but Changeless was really good until the last five pages or so. (sorry I’m saying this again but I’m still not over it.)

I liked that there was more action. I liked that Alexia’s views on life and herself didn’t change because of the baby but I also liked that she was emotional. Well, as emotional as Alexia can get. She cried and was upset about what happened with Conall but she was still practical and independent.

As usual I loved all the side characters. Madame Lefoux was hilarious and charming but still a bit mysterious. I also hold that Floote is still by far my favorite character in the series.

The plot was better this time and I definitely liked this ending more than the last one. I can’t really complain about much.

Then why only a four folded page review you ask??

That’s because something just felt kind of off for me. I liked the plot more. I liked that Alexia had more action but it also felt slow. Overall the characters were still mostly themselves but I think some of the characters had minor out-of-character (OOC) moments mostly stemmed from the OOC moments in Changeless and I didn’t enjoy that.

For me, this is a solid installment in the series but so far none of the sequels quite live up to Soulless.

Fantasy, middle grade, young adult

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

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Title: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Author: J.K. Rowling
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens
Length: 224, paperback
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Young Adult
Rating: HOW DO YOU RATE HARRY POTTER – ahem – 5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who are mean to him and make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. (Dudley, however, has two bedrooms, one to sleep in and one for all his toys and games.) Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed forever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard!

Review:
Harry Potter is so iconic that I can’t begin to legitimately review it. Instead this will be insight I gain from rereading the book and a comparison to what I remember of it. This will be very spoilery because I highly doubt there are people who don’t know what happens in Harry Potter even if it’s only from the movies.

Everytime I reread Harry Potter I learn something new both about myself and the books. It’s been a good two years since my last reread. Last time I reread The Philosopher’s Stone I was highly annoyed with the writing. I didn’t think I’d be able to make it through the book. It read too young for me. This time, however, the book was perfect.

I don’t know what’s changed with me between now and then but I know something has because I thoroughly enjoyed my reread. I’m already half way through Chamber of Secrets as I’m writing this one and I’m so glad I’ve chosen to reread the series at this juncture in my life.

Harry Potter is the series that got me into reading. Actually, I hated reading when I was young. It felt tedious and I wondered why people enjoyed it so much. I was almost held back in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade because I refused to read.

One day during SSR (sustained silent reading) in fifth grade, I picked up Harry Potter because everyone seemed to be reading it and wanted to know what the fuss was all about. Suddenly I knew why everyone loved to read. I read books 1-5 in about 5 months which was miraclous to my teacher considering how she fought with me before this.

Enough with the reminiscing though, I really enjoyed this reread and I can’t wait to continue rereading the series.

Fantasy, new adult

Book Review: The Source by J.D. Horn

Hey everyone! This post is officially post 100 on this blog. How awesome is that?? I can’t believe I’ve made 100 posts. This blog was started May 4th, 2015 and in only 4 and a half months I put out 100 posts. Onto the book review!

Title: The Source (Savannah Witching #2)
Author: J.D. Horn
Publisher: 47North
Length: 352, Kindle Book
Genre: New Adult, Fantasy
Rating: 2.5 Folded Pages

To see my review of The Line (Savannah Witching #1) click here.

Blurb:
Graceful trees and historic buildings fill Savannah, Georgia, but beneath the city’s Southern splendor, its supernatural roots run deep. The members of local witch families grace the society pages…when they’re not secretly protecting their magical work from dark forces.

Savannah resident Mercy Taylor may now be in control of the South’s most powerful family of witches, but she’s struggling to master her newfound magic. Pregnant with her first child and still reeling from a heartbreaking betrayal, she just wants to be able to use her supernatural abilities without accidentally destroying dishes or blasting the doors off buildings.

But when Mercy’s long-presumed-dead mother suddenly returns, begging Mercy to keep her presence under wraps, the witch wonders how many secrets her family is hiding…and who she can really trust. And when the danger around her intensifies to deadly levels, Mercy knows she must discover the truth behind her family’s magic—before it destroys her.

Review:
Unfortunately, this novel suffered from sequel syndrome badly! It wasn’t nearly as interesting and well written as The Line. The characters were different than in the original and the plot seemed like a bit of a stretch.

Speaking of the characters, Mercy was SO annoying. I really enjoyed her character in the first book but in this sequel she was flaky at best and downright contradictory of herself in the worst moments. The side characters seemed to have changed personalities as well though not nearly as much as Mercy.

The plot wasn’t paced well. I felt like a lot of nothing happened for a big part of the book. I still enjoyed the majority of the book because Mercy was herself here and there and Mother Jilo was still hilarious. The ending was also well done but it definitely wasn’t as good as The Line and I almost feel like this series would have been better off if The Line was a stand alone.

Fantasy, romance, steampunk

Book Review: Changeless by Gail Carriger

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Title: Changeless (Parasol Protectorate #2)
Author: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Orbit
Length: 432, Paperback
Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk, Romance
Rating: 4 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Alexia Maccon, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears; leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.

But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. So even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can. She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.

Review:
This book made me so incredibly angry. So angry in fact that after finishing this book at about 9:30 at night I couldn’t sleep. I dozed but woke up still super angry and unable to get back to sleep. I had to spoil the third novel in the series for myself just to get some shut eye. That’s how angry this book made me.

I won’t give any spoilers and the part that made me mad is such a shock that even though it made me incredibly angry my anger shouldn’t give an a hint as to happened. That being said, I do suggest NOT reading the blurb to Blameless unless you’ve finished Changeless because the blurb contains said angering thing.

Aside from being incredibly angry at this book I enjoyed the plot. I like the changed dynamic between characters that will go unnamed and even the character development of Alexia and other characters was amazing.

I do think this novel was a lot slower paced which is part of the reason this book didn’t get 5 folded pages. (Did I mention how incredibly angry I am??) I felt like the main action of this novel didn’t nearly equal that of Soulless and I’m saddened by it. I did still enjoy reading it though and aside from the incredibly angering part felt it was a good, solid sequel.

I’ve already ordered the ebook of Blameless from my library’s overdrive because I honestly can’t wait until I’m able to buy the paperbacks or for my library to order a physical copy from another in the system.

Fantasy, new adult

Book Review: The Line by J.D. Horn

Title: The Line
Author: J.D. Horn
Publisher: 47North
Length: 298, Kindle Edition
Genre: New Adult, Fantasy
Rating: 4.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Savannah is considered a Southern treasure, a city of beauty with a rich, colorful past. Some might even call it magical…
To the uninitiated, Savannah shows only her bright face and genteel manner. Those who know her well, though, can see beyond her colonial trappings and small-city charm to a world where witchcraft is respected, Hoodoo is feared, and spirits linger. Mercy Taylor is all too familiar with the supernatural side of Savannah, being a member of the most powerful family of witches in the South.
Despite being powerless herself, of course.
Having grown up without magic of her own, in the shadow of her talented and charismatic twin sister, Mercy has always thought herself content. But when a series of mishaps—culminating in the death of the Taylor matriarch—leaves a vacuum in the mystical underpinnings of Savannah, she finds herself thrust into a mystery that could shake her family apart…and unleash a darkness the line of Taylor witches has been keeping at bay for generations.

Review:
I found this book on Kindle Unlimited. Actually the whole series is on there which is amazing since I happened to LOVE this book. It could be considered Young Adult but since the main character is 21 and a few of the themes seem a little too adult to be in YA I’m going to put it with NA.

Mercy is one interesting character. She’s loyal almost to a fault but also extremely curious. The book starts off with her giving a “Liar’s tour” and honestly I think it sets an amazing tone for the rest of the book.

I don’t want to get into any of the other characters for fear of spoiling anything, but I loved the way they were presented and the fact that we only had Mercy’s perspective on them. It means that the majority of the plot twists that happened I didn’t see coming at all which was extremely refreshing.

Going more into the plot twists, there are several and only one of them was semi predictable but by the time it happens you’re almost convinced it won’t happen because you thought it would be there sooner.

The only thing I could wish for from this book was more. I wanted more descriptions and explanations. I think certain parts could have been better explained. Basically I think 50 more pages would have been perfect to help flesh the plot, characters, and details out a little better.

Fantasy, urban fantasy

Book Review: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Title: Storm Front (Dresden Files #1)
Author: Jim Butcher
Publisher: Roc
Length: 372, Paperback
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: 4.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Harry Dresden — Wizard

Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations.
Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or
Other Entertainment.

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things — and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a — well, whatever.

There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get… interesting.

Magic. It can get a guy killed.

Review:
I read this book like I was sipping a martini, which is to say, in small but delicious doses. For some reason I could do long sprints of reading this book even if I enjoyed it while I was reading it which meant I read it a lot slower than I’m used to. However, I immensely enjoyed it even if it’s very far from my normal reads.

Harry Dresden is a one of a kind character. I love how distinct his personality is (even if said personality is a little bit sexist with a tad of douchebag). He’s kind at heart and hates to kill. Honestly, he’s an extremely well rounded character flaws and all.

I also enjoy the way the the world and the laws of magic are explained. No spoilers but it’s well done exposition that isn’t too long or boring.

The slow build to the climax was excellently put together and written as well and Butcher was able to to tie plot points together in amazing way. The ending left me a little dissatisfied but I know it’s a long ongoing series so I’m not worried. I’ve already bought the second novel and when I start wanting to read fantasy books again it will probably be one of the first I pick up.

Fantasy, historical fiction, romance

Series Review: The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness

Title(s): A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night, The Book of Life
Author: Deborah Harkness
Publisher: Penguin books
Length: 592, 592, 576 all Kindle Edition
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Historical fiction
Rating: 5, 4.5, 4 folded pages respectively

Book 1 (A Discovery of Witches) Blurb:
Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Review:
Originally I read books 1 and 2 of this about 4 or 5 years ago and I loved the first one but didn’t really like the second. In my defense I was still young, barely out of high school, and didn’t really like how sophisticated the novels felt. Now that probably what I love most about the series.

I absolutely loved marathoning this series. I was going to try and put space between each novel but after I reread the first one there was no way I was going to let myself hang on that cliff. Instead I read all three books in about a week which is no small feat let me assure you.

Deborah creates a very lively world with vampires, witches, and daemons and it’s entirely unique. I loved how she revealed the world to us through Diana who wasn’t really familiar with it even if she grew up in it.

The romance aspect of the book was a little eh if I’m to be honest. Matthew could be overbearing and over the top with cheesy things but for the most part I enjoyed it. And I definitely enjoyed watching them decide to be together. However, it was Diana and her character development that made me stay (along with the incredible world)

I definitely think the first book was the best of the three and the third book got really slow at some points. Still I loved the series and hope Deborah Harkness has something new in the works for us.

Fantasy, mystery, paranormal, young adult

Book Review: The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson

Title: The Shadow Cabinet (Shades Book 3)
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Length: 385, Hardback
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, fantasy, mystery
Rating: 4 Folded Pages

Warning: Spoilers in the blurb.

Book 1: The Name of the Star Review | Book 2: The Madness Underneath Review

Blurb:
Rory and her friends are reeling from a series of sudden and tragic events. While racked with grief, Rory tries to determine if she acted in time to save a member of the squad. If she did, how do you find a ghost? Also, Rory’s classmate Charlotte has been kidnapped by Jane and her nefarious organization. Evidence is uncovered of a forty-year-old cult, ten missing teenagers, and a likely mass murder. Everything indicates that Charlotte’s in danger, and it seems that something much bigger and much more terrible is coming.

Time is running out as Rory fights to find her friends and the ghost squad struggles to stop Jane from unleashing her spectral nightmare on the entire city. In the process, they’ll discover the existence of an organization that underpins London itself—and Rory will learn that someone she trusts has been keeping a tremendous secret.

Review:
As much as I loved The Name of the Star I can’t say that the second book or this lived up to how much I loved the first one. I think both of them had sequel syndrome.

I enjoyed the overall plot but I found Rory’s personality to be kind of annoying instead of fun. Don’t get me wrong, I still really enjoyed this book. It just was a bit slower and not as good as I had hoped.

I can’t say much else without spoiling the plot of this book and the first two. I will say that so far I enjoy the series as a whole and can’t wait to get my hands on the prequel.

Fantasy, historical fiction, romance

Book Review: The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

Title: The Winter Sea
Author: Susanna Kearsley
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Length: 544, Kindle Book
Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Rating: 5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
History has all but forgotten…
In the spring of 1708, an invading Jacobite fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown.
Now, Carrie McClelland hopes to turn that story into her next bestselling novel. Settling herself in the shadow of Slains Castle, she creates a heroine named for one of her own ancestors and starts to write.
But when she discovers her novel is more fact than fiction, Carrie wonders if she might be dealing with ancestral memory, making her the only living person who knows the truth-the ultimate betrayal-that happened all those years ago, and that knowledge comes very close to destroying her…

Review:
This was a reread for me and what a wonderful reread this was. I think I originally read this two years ago or so to take my mind off of finals and because of that I couldn’t really enjoy it to the fullest. I definitely loved it more than when I first read it.

Carrie is such an endearing character. I can’t tell if it’s because I also (attempt) to write novels or her love of history or how swept up she becomes in Cruden Bay but either way I loved her almost instantly. She’s consistent and thoughtful and questions what’s happening to her while still being able to deal with it.

I loved how Kearsley told the story of Slains as if Carrie was really writing it. Even leaving out scenes that Carrie saw but wouldn’t work well in a novel. It was enchanting and although I did feel sometimes feel impatient with both stories (wanting to be reading Carrie’s POV rather than the novel or vice versa) it wasn’t often enough that it made reading tedious.

I also liked how Carrie’s life somewhat reflected Sophia’s although not exactly and only from time to time. I think it made a bigger connection between Carrie and Sophia. This is actually the novel that made me want to read more historical fiction and I wish I had more time with Carrie and her unique ability. Kearsley kind of set up the ending to allow for another novel but I think her second novel in that world is built on a different character. Either way I absolutely loved it and I can’t wait to read more from Kearsley.