Sunday, April 13, 2014

Some more mini reviews! Because YES, I AM that behind.

Ugh, guys. I AM THE WORST REVIEWER! Seriously. I'm behind 30 reviews and lets not even talk about the last time I updated my Reviews by Titles, Goodreads or Review Policy.  So let me get these mini-reviews out of my system with an apology- I totally read some of these over a year ago.

From Goodreads: 
After a bizarre accident, Ingrid Waverly is forced to leave London with her mother and younger sister, Gabby, trading a world full of fancy dresses and society events for the unfamiliar city of Paris.
In Paris there are no grand balls or glittering parties, and, disturbingly, the house Ingrid’s twin brother, Grayson, found for them isn’t a house at all. It’s an abandoned abbey, its roof lined with stone gargoyles that could almost be mistaken for living, breathing creatures.

And Grayson has gone missing.

No one seems to know of his whereabouts but Luc, a devastatingly handsome servant at their new home.

Ingrid is sure her twin isn’t dead—she can feel it deep in her soul—but she knows he’s in grave danger. It will be up to her and Gabby to navigate the twisted path to Grayson, a path that will lead Ingrid on a discovery of dark secrets and otherworldly truths. And she’ll learn that once they are uncovered, they can never again be buried.

I loved this story, it was different and had a nice haunting vibe, plus Paris. I liked that Morgan found a new and intriguing paranormal angle that's still historical, and well, as plausible as vampires and werewolves are ever going to be. Obviously the 1899 time frame was a great addition to this story, I'm not sure it would work as well in a modern setting, but combined with the gargoyles it was the touch that made this story really work for me.

Some thriller overtones, a lot of mystery, an enchantingly unusual and well done paranormal angle, combined with some endearing characters, made this book a surprise win for me. Although it took me nearly a year to sing it's praises, it left me quite charmed and I'm really looking forward to the second part, The Lovely and the Lost due out in May. Gosh, it's only March. Really it's like I got to this review early.

The Beautiful and the Cursed, by Page Morgan
Published by Doubleday, May 14th, 2013
My copy kindly provided by the publisher
Buy The Beautiful and the Cursed on Amazon

From Goodreads:
Just when Azalea should feel that everything is before her, beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing, it's taken away. All of it. And Azalea is trapped. The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. So he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest, but there is a cost. The Keeper likes to keep things. Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

I've been eyeing this one up forever. Several bloggers I like had glowing things to say about it back when it first came out, and it had been on my wish list for probably three years. I always loved the dancing princesses story and looked forward to a YA novel adaptation. This Christmas I ran into a soft cover copy while looking for something to spend my last 10$ of a gift certificate on and voila! Just like that it was off my wish list and into my grubby little mitts.

One thing I've considered, while stewing over this review, was maybe there was just too much lead up to this book for me. Spending three years thinking it was going to be lovely was maybe not entirely fair to it's simplicity. Meaning, I liked it, but it certainly didn't leave me with intensive feelings of love.

I felt like there was too much build on the unhappy, burdened sisters, after the death of their mother, it went on much too long before it transitioned into the dancing nights. Also, the king was vilified so badly in the beginning that it was very difficult for me to believe in his caring when he came back into play in the story, I felt like Dixon needed to dial back his cruelty a bit.

I did really enjoy the part of the story about the suitors trying to figure out where the girls danced. This is where I thought Dixon did a really great job on elaborating on the original fairy tale. Overall though, I was underwhelmed. Also, fair warning! Amazon suggests that Entwined if frequently bought with Divergent...Ummmm, not remotely similar! I would definitely not recommend this slow moving fairy tale re-telling with a break-neck, action packed dystopian.

Entwined, by Heather Dixon
Published by Greenwillow, March 2011
Buy Entwined on Amazon

From Goodreads: 
In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects' lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:
Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.

Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making.

Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword. . . .

The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

A complex and enjoyable fantasy, I would not bill it as Game of Thrones for teens as they did on Goodreads. Not political enough, nor nearly enough characters. However it is a multi-layered story built on rotating POV's which keeps the plot tight and fast-paced. Being as I read it quite some time ago, *side eyes sequel which has been out since December*, much of the nuancing has long ago slipped my mind. However! I do remember that much of it had me on the edge of my seat and that I was eager to dig into part two. At this point though, I'm guessing it would be wise of me to just hold out for part three and re-read the whole thing at once, so I can really appreciate how it comes together.

Alas, so many books! So little time! But it's always nice to have something you know will be truly enjoyable, tucked off to the side for a future rainy day.

Falling Kingdoms, by Morgan Rhodes
Published by Razorbill, December 11, 2012
Buy Falling Kingdoms on Amazon

From Goodreads:
Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can't determine what's wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She's lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying—and she's helpless to change anything.

Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It's an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother's illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there's no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.

The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can't trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?

This was truly one of the most bizarre books I've read in awhile. Let's start with the obvious, this is a strange hunger games-esque reality race to the death. Except with animals, and some kind of secret group handing out secret cures to the winners. And a weird disease that all the contestants are trying to win a cure to, but that only affects the family members of the race contestants and nobody else in the world knows about it. It's a feeble plot at best.

The animal companions, called Pandora's, are synthetically created and have all sorts of powers to help the contestants win. As a plot point they are the easy way to create an emotional reaction in the reader. All the pairings tell you what you need to know about a character without ever requiring any real work on the authors behalf. Oh look, he has a grizzly, what a big, tough contestant he must be. Oh look, Tella has a tiny little fox like creature, she must be the underdog. Oh wait! the underdog has super awesome powers, how shocking. 

Truly one of the strangest parts of this story though, is the love interest. 
Guy is introduced thus:
The guy looking down at me is very tall, or maybe he just seems so because I'm still on the ground. He appears to be about my age, though the broad width of his shoulders tells me he may actually be a couple of years older. His eyes are blue. Not in the way that makes me buckle at the knees and start naming our children, but the kind of blue that makes my breath catch. A cold, hard blue that looks more like a statement than a color- one that says, "Back the fuck off."

His hair is so dark, it looks like wet ink, and is spiked around his scalp in soft tufts. He has a strong jawline, and right now that jaw is clenched so tightly, I'm afraid this guy is about to kick me when I'm down...
He narrows those chilling blue eyes at me, and in an instant, they flick toward the floor near one of the bookcases. He looks back at me, and I wonder if maybe, even though he looks a little like a serial killer, he's going to help me up.
Later on Tella goes on to call him Serial-Killer guy and Green Beret. She spends a fair amount of time referring to how he looks like someone who will kill her. I bemoaned this kind of description for the love interests in Alice in Zombieland and I can't even begin to believe I'm seeing this appalling kind of description for a love interest AGAIN. At no point, does a guy who has serial killer anything, appeal to me for hot kisses. Um, like ever. I don't care how misunderstood you want the guy to be, that's just taking it too far.

When, at long last, there was a explanation given for the cure, the disease, the race and the secretiveness of it all, I was underwhelmed by the story. It was weak, obscure and asked a level of suspension of disbelief that was downright ridiculous. This is, after all, supposed to be average, everyday, now-times and place. Selling me on crime bosses, huge fortunes and revenge over a death to all the scientists of a huge organization, well, it didn't work out for Scott.

An incredibly weak start to a series being billed as the next big thing, I can only hope that it will improve as it moves on to book two and the second stage of the race.

Fire and Flood, by Victoria Scott
Published by Scholastic, Feb 25th, 2014
My copy kindly provided by the publisher
Buy Fire & Flood on Amazon


  1. I loved Falling Kingdoms and you know my feelings on Fire & Flood ;)

    I have both Entwined and Beautiful and Cursed and now I'm very excited to get to both of them.

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