Book Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Book: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Published February 2017 by Thomas Dunne Books|436 pages

Where I Got It: I own the e-book

Series: Wintersong #1

Genre: YA Fantasy/Re-Telling

The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride…

All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.

But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds—and the mysterious man who rules it—she soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

I loved this book!  Wintersong was one of the books I was looking forward to reading, but I’m just now getting around to it.

I was reminded of a few books when I was reading Wintersong.  If you like the Iron Fey series, this is the book for you!  It has a similar feel to the Iron Fey series, so they’re pretty good read-alikes for each other.  I’d describe it as Hades & Persphone meets The Iron Fey meets Caraval (which I read after Wintersong but I’m still going with it because this review is obviously being written after reading both books).

I felt very much like I was in a fairy-tale, particularly a German fairy-tale.  I loved the idea of the Goblin King, and how people ended up in the Underground.  It’s such a vivid book and I really felt like I was in their world.  I really didn’t want the book to come to an end, because it meant leaving Liesl’s world, and I didn’t want to do that.  At least there’s a sequel, so there will be more to this story.  Which is good, considering the way Wintersong ended.  It’s going to be a long wait until the sequel comes out.

Liesl is such a great character- she is more courageous than she knows, and she would do anything for her sister- even agreeing to marry the Goblin King to keep her sister safe.  I think being Underground and around the Goblin King ended up being a good thing for her- she learns a lot about herself, and I feel like she becomes more confident in herself as she worked on her music.  She’s a character I can really relate to- taking care of everyone, and feeling like she isn’t good enough, even though she is, and she just needs to believe in herself.

There’s something very dreamlike about this book, and it’s very magical.  There’s something dark and…nostalgic isn’t necessarily the word I’m looking for, but…maybe lament and looking for something lost and/or forgotten?  This book is downright beautiful and poetic, and if you haven’t read it, trust me when I say that you really need to read it!

5 stars.  I’m so glad it lived up to my expectations and the hype!  This book is dark and beautiful and amazing!

Advertisements

Audio Book Review: The Wrath And The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Book: The Wrath And The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, narrated by Ariana Delawari

Published May 2015 by Listening Library|Length: 10 hours, 38 minutes

Where I Got It: I got the audio book via Audible.com

Series: The Wrath & The Dawn #1

Genre: YA Fantasy/Re-Telling

A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch…she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

I really liked The Wrath And The Dawn!  I’ve had it for a while, but finally got around to listening to it.

I really liked Sharzhad.  She was so conflicted about her feelings for the king and getting revenge for her best friend, especially as she got to know him, and why he took so many brides.  It was really predictable that she’d start to fall for him, and that she would have conflicted feelings about her mission, so to speak.

I didn’t like either choice, but I’d rather her be with the king, because I did not care for the guy she left behind when she volunteered to become his bride.  Her childhood friend/love was whiny and annoying in the little we see of him. I felt like he didn’t care about what SHE wanted, and he wasn’t willing to hear her out.  I do get why he reacted the way he did, but it also really bothered me.  I’m not sure if it’s because we know things he doesn’t, or if I saw more of the king and feel a little more sympathetic towards him, but I was not a fan of this other guy. Who, by the way, isn’t memorable enough for me to actually remember his name.

It was interesting that she was the one he kept alive, at great cost to him.  I’m not sure what I was expecting in terms of why he was killing his brides, but it does make sense, and I liked it more than I thought it would.

I LOVED the narration!  Ariana Delawari is one of my favorite narrators, even though this is only the 2nd book I’ve listened to that she’s narrated.  I specifically switched over to the audio book because of her.  She really captured who Sharzhad is a a character, and I can’t imagine anyone else narrating this series.

4 stars.  I really liked The Wrath And The Dawn, and I really recommend the audio book.  I can’t wait to listen to the next book in the series.

Book Review: Heartless, Conviction, and Court Of Fives

heartless-cover-marissa-meyerBook #1: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Published November 2016 by Feiwel & Friends|464 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Re-telling

What It’s About: Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

What I Thought: I really liked Heartless!  The Lunar Chronicles is one of my favorite series, and when I found out Meyer was coming out with another book, I knew I had to read it!  At first, I wasn’t sure about it, and initially, it was just okay.  But the more I read, the more I fell in love with the book, and the more I liked Catherine.

She’s an interesting character, and at first, she really is the sweetest person who loves baking.  It was hard to see her becoming the Queen Of Hearts that we all know in Alice In Wonderland, but the change she made into the character we all know was really believable.  It was a pretty fast change, but it worked for her character, and it was easy the events that led to her change were so easy to believe and made perfect sense for her.

By the time I was finished, I was ready for more set in this world, and that was when I realized that it was a stand-alone.  Which is fine, since it is Meyer’s take on Alice In Wonderland and the Queen Of Hearts.  But I am curious to see what Alice In Wonderland would be like if it were done by Meyer, because she did something pretty cool with Cinder.

My Rating: 4 stars.  It took me a little bit to get into Heartless, but by the end, I really wanted more set in this world!

conviction-coverBook #2: Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert

Published May 2015 by Disney Hyperion|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

What It’s About: Ten years ago, God gave Braden a sign, a promise that his family wouldn’t fall apart the way he feared.

But Braden got it wrong: his older brother, Trey, has been estranged from the family for almost as long, and his father, the only parent Braden has ever known, has been accused of murder. The arrest of Braden’s father, a well-known Christian radio host, has sparked national media attention. His fate lies in his son’s hands; Braden is the key witness in the upcoming trial.

Braden has always measured himself through baseball. He is the star pitcher in his small town of Ornette, and his ninety-four-mile-per-hour pitch already has minor league scouts buzzing in his junior year. Now the rules of the sport that has always been Braden’s saving grace are blurred in ways he never realized, and the prospect of playing against Alex Reyes, the nephew of the police officer his father is accused of killing, is haunting his every pitch.

Braden faces an impossible choice, one that will define him for the rest of his life, in this brutally honest debut novel about family, faith, and the ultimate test of conviction.

What I Thought: I really wanted to like Conviction, and it seemed like it would be a great book, but it ended up being really frustrating to read. There were so many different angles, and I felt like none of them really got the attention they deserved. There’s Braden, and the complicated family stuff- his mom left him, and the same happened with his half-brother’s mom. There’s a dad, who seems abusive, and pushed baseball on his kids because his dream of being a professional baseball died when he got injured. And all of the stuff with a brother, who’s gay, and was kicked out and basically almost killed by their dad. On top of that, Braden’s dad is accused of killing a cop, and people may or may not have lied about what happened that night.

I felt like a lot of things weren’t clear, like with what happened on the night that the cop died, and things were hinted at, but for the most part, nothing was clearly mentioned or explained. That was when it matched up with what was previously mentioned in the book, and there was definitely at least one time, where things didn’t match up at all.

Not only that, but you have different time lines- there’s Braden’s memories of his dad, there what happened the night the cop died, and what was going on in the present, and it made things less coherent and really jumbled. It didn’t feel very focused, and I felt like I was reading all of these different pieces that didn’t really come together. The flashbacks were also poorly done in my opinion, and randomly thrown in with no transitions before and after.

My Rating: 2 stars. I didn’t dislike it enough to give it 1 star, but it was really confusing and all over the place. I can see why people like it, but it wasn’t for me.

court-of-fives-coverBook #3: Court Of Fives by Kate Elliott

Published August 2015 by Little, Brown Books For Young Readers|448 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Court Of Fives #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

What It’s About: On the Fives court, everyone is equal.

And everyone is dangerous.

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family, she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for the Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors.

Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an improbable friendship between the two Fives competitors—one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy—causes heads to turn. When Kal’s powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test her new friend’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s first young adult novel weaves an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

What I Thought: I picked up Court Of Fives based solely on the recommendation of Gail Carriger, and it was a fun, interesting read. I do feel like there are a lot of similar books out there, plot-wise but I really liked this one because it felt different enough to hold my attention. I really liked the competition, and how things aren’t what they seem.

It’s interesting that the history they know seems to be slightly different than what actually happened (which isn’t surprising at all), and I was really intrigued by the original story, and the parallels to Jessamy’s family, particularly with her parents. I did like that her dad stuck by her mom, even though it would have advanced his career a lot more. He still seemed really ambitious, and it didn’t seem to matter in the end, since they lost their main protector. But it did seem to matter to him, at least for a little while.

I kind of wish the competition was explained a little more, because even now, I’m not quite sure how to explain it, or even what it is. Something about it reminded me of the actual Hunger Games, but far less deadly. And something that relies a lot more on actual practice and logic and strategy. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the series, and how things work out for Jessamy and her family.

My Rating: 4 stars. This was intriguing and interesting and a really good read.

 

Book Review: A Court Of Thorns And Roses by Sarah J Maas

A Court Of Thorns And Roses CoverBook Review: A Court Of Thorns And Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Published May 2015 by Bloomsbury USA|380 pages

Where I Got It: I own the e-book

Series: A Court Of Thorns And Roses #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Blog Graphic-What It's About

A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Timesbestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it… or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

Since I really like her Throne Of Glass series, and since I’ve heard a lot of really good things about this book, I knew I had to read it.  I’ll admit, I was a little scared to read it, because what if it didn’t live up to the hype, and I hated it or something?  That seems to happen with me quite a bit, but I actually didn’t have anything to worry about, because I really liked it!

I definitely see the parallels between Beauty And The Beast (from what I know via Disney) and this re-telling of it through faeries.  Is it set in the same world as Throne Of Glass?  Because it feels very familiar, and I’m too lazy to go double-check.  Either way, I really liked how dark it was.  I’m not sure how much it draws from the original story (I am only vaguely aware that there is one, and again, I am too lazy to go look it up), but considering the original versions of fairy tales tend to be dark, and this story has its dark moments, it wouldn’t surprise me if a lot of the original tale made its way into this book.

I really liked Feyre and Rhysand, but in all honesty, Rhysand was my favorite character.  I’m glad we’ll be seeing more of him in the next book, what with certain deals and all.  I know it’s supposed to be Tamlin and Feyre, and not Rhysand and Feyre (and that Rhysand and Feyre might not be the best choice as far as romance goes) but part of me is kind of shipping Rhysand and Feyre.  I can’t tell you why I like them together, or why it wouldn’t be a good choice (because really, I’m going off of feelings for both things), but together, they intrigue me more than Tamlin and Feyre. The only thing I am sure of is that Feyre went through too much in order to save Tamlin, so maybe that’s why I’m not completely sold, and I’m hoping that it doesn’t turn into a love triangle, because, just once, it would be nice to see two people faeries just be together without a randomly thrown in person faery.

I do like Tamlin and Feyre together- a little bit more than Feyre and Rhysand, but not much more.  But with how things went in this book, it will be interesting to see how things are developed in the next book.  Because Rhysand certainly throws a wrench in things.  But I also really like Tamlin, and by the end of the book, I definitely saw why he acted the way he did.  I also loved how Feyre pieced things together in order to help him, and also how hard the last trial was for her.  And I loved all of the stuff with her family so much.

It makes me wonder how things are going to turn out and where things are headed, because right now, I have no idea what’s going to happen.  It’s actually really refreshing, because I like not knowing what’s going to happen to next. Probably something not good, and things may work out in the end, but maybe not?  Who knows?  There’s only one way to find out, and that’s to keep reading the series.

I think ACOTAR and Cruel Beauty are really good read alikes for each other.  There’s something mysterious about Feyre staying with Tamlin that you also see in Cruel Beauty.  It has a darker, slightly older feel than Cruel Beauty (although it’s been a while since I’ve read it, so I’m a little fuzzy on Cruel Beauty).  There’s more action than I expected, and I loved how everything was described.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  I really liked it, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series!

Book Review: The Siren by Kiera Cass

The Siren CoverBook: The Siren by Kiera Cass

Published January 2016 by HarperTeen|327 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy/Re-Telling

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Love is a risk worth taking.

Years ago, Kahlen was rescued from drowning by the Ocean. To repay her debt, she has served as a Siren ever since, using her voice to lure countless strangers to their deaths. Though a single word from Kahlen can kill, she can’t resist spending her days on land, watching ordinary people and longing for the day when she will be able to speak and laugh and live freely among them again.

Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude…until she meets Akinli. Handsome, caring, and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. And though she can’t talk to him, they soon forge a connection neither of them can deny…and Kahlen doesn’t want to.

Falling in love with a human breaks all the Ocean’s rules, and if the Ocean discovers Kahlen’s feelings, she’ll be forced to leave Akinli for good. But for the first time in a lifetime of following the rules, Kahlen is determined to follow her heart.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

After reading (and loving) The Selection series, I knew I had to read The Siren.  Partly because I wanted to read something else by Cass, but also because I love a good re-telling, and I thought it would be cool to read something about Sirens, which don’t seem to come up very often.  And I liked The Siren, but not as much as I thought I would.

I thought it was a cool idea, and I liked that it wasn’t about re-telling the tale of Greek gods/goddesses, but instead focused on re-telling the story of Sirens.  We got such a good picture of how girls became Sirens, and what life was like as a Siren.  That actually really surprised me, because The Siren is a stand-alone and fantasy and just over 300 pages…and yet you get such a clear picture of the world and the hold that the Ocean has on these girls.  For me, that more often than not, spells disaster, and it never seems to work well, but it did with this book.

Could things have been explained more?  Of course, but all things considered, Cass did a better job with it than I expected.  It has its cute moments, and it goes by fast.  And it’s an interesting idea, so I definitely wanted to keep reading to see how things turned out.

I thought the Ocean was really confusing at times- She did seem motherly at times, and yes, She did tend to go about it a little weird, but there were also times where I thought She made sense.

I’m not sure how I feel about any of the girls.  There’s certainly a bond between them, but Kahlen seems so different from Elizabeth and Miaka, and even Padma.  She did seem depressed (which I understand why), and she did seem more traditional than the other girls, but that’s probably because she’s older than the other girls. By how much we’re not sure, at least in the case of Elizabeth and Miaka, but definitely a lot older than Padma.

I don’t know how I feel about Akinli, and I really wish we saw more of him.  I get why we didn’t, but the fact that we didn’t really see him is probably why I didn’t completely love him or their relationship.  It felt a little bit too insta-love for me, and I wish we saw it develop more.  I think I might have been able to believe in the whole soulmates thing if we saw more of them together.

I was surprised by the ending- I’m not sure how I expected things to end, but it was a surprise, even though I’m not sure how I feel about it.

It was more dull than I thought, and I had a hard time getting into it.  Ultimately, I liked it, and the idea of the book was enough that I’m willing to overlook everything else.  I wanted more action, and it was definitely a slow-paced book.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

3 stars, because the idea is a pretty cool, and more developed than I thought, considering it’s a stand-alone fantasy that’s on the shorter side.  But I also thought it could have been more developed in some areas, namely the romance.

Book Review: Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

Stars Above CoverBook: Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

Published February 2016 by Feiwel & Friends|369 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Lunar Chronicles #4.5

Genre: YA Fairy Tale Re-Telling/Dystopia

Blog Graphic-What It's About

The enchantment continues…

The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?

With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

Since this is a short story collection, I thought I’d talk about each story.  I’m going in the order that they appear in Stars Above.

  1. The Keeper: This is the first story in the book, and it’s about Scarlet’s grandmother and how Cinder came to be under her care.  I really liked it, because we only get a glimpse of her grandma in Scarlet, and we get to know more about her.
  2. Glitches: This story is all about how Cinder came to live with Garan and his family.  I feel like this story gives some insight into why Adri treats Cinder the way she does- not completely, but enough to not really like Adri.
  3. The Queen’s Army: This story is about the army Levana built, and we see Wolf and how he became Wolf!  I liked it, but it’s not one of my favorites.
  4. Carswell’s Guide To Being Lucky:  It’s not one of the more memorable stories, and it’s not one of my favorites, but I did like seeing Carswell at a young age.
  5. After Sunshine Passes By: I loved it, mostly because it’s about Cress, and how she came to live on the satellite at such a young age.  I also really loved Cress- I can’t decide if I love Winter or Cress more, as far as the main series goes, so it’s no surprise this was one of my favorites!
  6. The Princess And The Guard: This is another one of my favorites, because we see how Winter got her scars, and why she stopped using her gift.  I really felt for Winter!
  7. The Little Android: This is my least favorite of the group.  Even though it’s set in the same world as the other stories, we only briefly see Cinder, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the other stories.  It is a really good re-telling of The Little Mermaid, though.
  8. The Mechanic: I’m sort of in the middle on this one.  It’s a scene we see in Cinder, where Kai stops by Cinder’s stall to have her fix Nainsi, but from Kai’s point of view.  Which was nice to see, but at the same time…I don’t know, I’m feeling neutral about it.
  9. Something Old, Something New: After The Princess And The Guard and After Sunshine Passes By, this is my favorite.  It’s an epilogue of sorts, to the entire series, but especially Winter.  I loved catching up with all of the characters and seeing what they were up to.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  I ranged from not liking a story (The Little Android) to loving a couple stories (After Sunshine Passes By and The Princess And The Guard), with everything else falling somewhere in the middle.  It’s a pretty good addition to the Lunar Chronicle series, and most of the stories (except for Glitches) was new to me, so it was nice to have new stories for one of my favorite series.  It’s also nice to have all 9 stories in one volume, and it’s a great book for any fan of the series.