Review: Storybound by Marissa Burt

Title: Storybound

Author: Marissa Burt

Publishing Information: April 3rd 2012 by Harper Collins Children’s

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Adventure

Series information: Book 1

Format: Hardcover, 416 pages

Source: Received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

Recommended For: Readers who enjoyed Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, or those looking for a story that reminds them about all of the things that they love about fairy tales.

In the land of Story, children go to school to learn to be characters: a perfect Hero, a trusty Sidekick, even the most dastardly Villain. They take classes on Outdoor Experiential Questing and Backstory, while adults search for full-time character work in stories written just for them.

In our world, twelve-year-old Una Fairchild has always felt invisible. But all that changes when she stumbles upon a mysterious book buried deep in the basement of her school library, opens the cover, and suddenly finds herself transported to the magical land of Story.

But Story is not a perfect fairy tale. Una’s new friend Peter warns her about the grave danger she could face if anyone discovers her true identity. The devious Tale Keeper watches her every move. And there are whispers of a deadly secret that seems to revolve around Una herself…

Be prepared for a review where I squash any negativity regarding this book and sing its praises at the top of my metaphorical mountain!

Una is a child who doesn’t quite fit in. In fact, she feels as if she is an invisible being who even her teachers don’t see. That’s why she hides in the basement; she goes to her quiet corner and reads books that take her away from the drudgery of her daily life. That is, until the day that she finds a book entitled “The Tale of Una Fairchild,” which literally takes her away to the land of Story where she has been Written In to a young man’s final exam in which he must battle dragons and save the damsels in distress. It is after talking to Peter that Una realizes that she has been Written In to the land of Story, something that has not happened in a very long time, and something that can certainly mean danger or even death for poor Una.

As the story progresses, Una learns a little more about the land of Story and the characters that dwell there. She learns that there are significant differences between those labeled as villains and those who are actually villainous. Most importantly, she learns that she is not invisible but a very important part of this world that she has inadvertently traveled to.

I first added this novel to my “to-read” list because I knew it was a good choice for my debut author challenge, though I have to say that it is no question I would have picked this book up otherwise. I am not a lover of MG novels, though I have fallen in love with one or two, but I was so impressed by this story and the way it crossed the lines that usually define a novel. I want to first touch upon some issues other readers have had with this book. I have read many reviews stating that the book was “too long” to be a middle grade novel, that the point of view changes were too confusing and that readers were disappointed that we didn’t meet fairy tale characters that we knew but were introduced to fairy tale characters in training. First, yes the book is 400 pages long, but it is not at all a “long” book. I did not once find the book dragging or wish for more action. People of all ages can read and love these books, like books that came before (Goblet of Fire, anyone?) this book is one that can bridge the ages and be enjoyed by many readers despite how “long” it is. Second, the point of view changes did not bother me, at all. The author did not start a new chapter with a name so that the reader knew before starting the first sentence who was speaking, but within the first sentence of the paragraph it was easy to see whose point of view it was. It’s called close reading, people! Finally, its no question that I LOVE LOVE LOVE retellings and the whole modern character in a fairy tale world (see: Once Upon a Time) but the blurb of this story specifically says that the children are learning how to be fairy tale characters, not one thing about how she is transported to the land of Story and meets Cinderella! Okay, rage over, let’s move on to the awesome parts…

First, the plot is brilliant. I love my fairy tale retellings as much as the next gal but it was so refreshing to read this story about students who are learning how to be characters in a story! I was laughing out loud with Una as she tried to perfect her villain laugh for her exam and desperately wishing I could have been part of this world. Honestly? Haven’t yearned this much since I didn’t get my Hogwarts letter all those years ago, might still be a little bitter about that one…but anyway, the plot twists and adventure were found on every page and really kept me wanting to know what happened next. The little plot twist at the end was really amazing and I actually didn’t see it coming which makes me so happy!

The characters are all so loveable (or easily hated, I guess) and the book only made me want more from each one. I loved how the villains in this story were written in a way that made me sympathize with their predicaments and how Snow was portrayed as this snotty “Lady” but really she was just a scorned and sad daughter who wanted someone to love her. Obviously I loved Sam because well, he was a cat..but also because he was snarky and portrayed all the best cat-like qualities. Una and Peter we both very sweet and in a word, good which made me really see the differences between Peter and Endeavor Truepenny, I seriously look forward to seeing more from this character in book two.

Though I don’t usually do this, there were many lines that stood out for me in this novel and I want to share them..

“It became Una’s habit, on days that she felt especially invisible, to retire to the basement of the school library. Most students stayed on the main floor, grouped together at sunny tables, giggling over their math problems and English homework. But Una preferred the lower level, where she could sit undisturbed except for the odd student scurrying down to get some reference book needed for a research paper. She would tuck into her favorite desk underneath one of the high basement windows – half daydreaming, half reading – while the minutes flew by and she wondered what it would be like to live a different life.” – Page 2 of Storybound, completely reminiscent of myself when I was a child.
“She turned to go, but Horace pushed in front of her. ‘Ladies last,’ he said.

She took the toe of her boot and knocked the outside of his left foot in toward the right. It was just enough to throw him off balance, and he stumbled to the side. ‘But then, I’m not much of a Lady,’ she said as she pushed ahead of him.” – Page 314 of Storybound, this part encompasses all that I love about Una as a character, it made me smile and high five the book.

From page two this story drew me in. Marissa Burt writes a fantastic and beautiful narrative. I highly recommend it to those who enjoyed Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, or those looking for a story that reminds them about all of the things that they love about fairy tales.

Review: Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown

 Title: Lies Beneath

Author: Anne Greenwood Brown

Publishing Information: June 12th 2012 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Genre: Young Adult, Mermaids, Fantasy

Series information: Book 1 in the Lies Beneath Series

Format: Hardcover, 303 pages

Source: Received an ARC from the publisher

Recommended For: Readers looking for a dark and interesting mermaid tale

Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans, killing them to absorb their energy. But this summer the underwater clan targets Jason Hancock out of pure revenge. They blame Hancock for their mother’s death and have been waiting a long time for him to return to his family’s homestead on the lake. Hancock has a fear of water, so to lure him in, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock’s daughter, Lily. Easy enough—especially as Calder has lots of practice using his irresistible good looks and charm on unsuspecting girls. Only this time Calder screws everything up: he falls for Lily—just as Lily starts to suspect that there’s more to the monsters-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined…and just as his sisters are losing patience with him.

I have been dying for a good mermaid story since I read Lost Voices last year and so I was very excited when I was given the opportunity to download this from NetGalley.

These are not your typical Disney inspired mermaids. They are monsters. Evil, conniving and downright scary monsters that thrive off human essence much like a vampire thrives off human blood. However they are not all powerful. Like vampires are bound to walk only by night, these mermaids are bound to water. Though they have the ability to walk with two legs upon land they also must be near enough water so after a few hours they can submerge themselves and rejuvenate (for lack of a better word), if they are away from water for too long they will die.

Calder and his three sisters return to their home at Lake Superior yearly to stalk the home of The Hancock family. It is believed by the mermaids that this family is responsible for their mother’s death. Though Calder agrees with avenging his mother’s death, he is not like his sisters. Where they are cold creatures that kill mercilessly, Calder yearns for a solitary life away from them and finds other ways to survive instead of murdering innocents. His sisters tell him he is a freak for behaving this way and determine it must be because he was “made” a merman and not born one. His sister Maris puts him in charge of enacting a plan to kill Mr. Hancock. He is to seduce the eldest daughter and find a way to lure Mr. Hancock into the lake so that the three sisters can drag him in, torture, and kill him. As time progresses, Calder becomes mesmerized by Lily and eventually comes to a point where he must make a hard decision between his family and the girl he has unsuspectingly fallen for.

I was pleasantly surprised with this book, I really liked the characters and the story was nothing like I expected. I was somewhat annoyed by Lily at first but after a while she grew on me. I really liked that she didn’t immediately fall for Calder but instead was straight up like “Dude, you’re creepy and you stalk me so back off a little, k?” which really made me like her a bit more than some of the other female characters I have come across (I’m lookin’ at you, Bella Swan). Also Calder’s sisters were terrifying and beautiful and Brown wrote in a way that really made me loath them yet be drawn to them as Calder was. I was worried that I wouldn’t appreciate this book as much as I should because I tend to shy away from male narrators. However, I really kinda loved Calder and his somewhat confused, twisted personality.

The plot was very entertaining and I really loved how much the ending surprised me. I really did not enjoy the twist added with Tallulah but it was a small enough part that I was able to get over it in light of the whole story. As I read this book I wasn’t aware that it was the first in a series, though I can see how Brown set it up this way. I would have liked if Lies Beneath had been a standalone novel but I don’t think that will keep me from reading the sequel. Overall I think this was a great debut novel from Anne Greenwood Brown and I look forward to read what she writes next.


“Mother, may I go out to swim?

Yes, my darling daughter.
Fold your clothes up neat and trim,
But don’t go near the water.”
– Anonymous

Review: Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Title: Everneath

Author: Brodi Ashton

Publishing Information: Janurary 24, 2012 by HarperCollins

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal

Series information: Book one in the Everneath trilogy

Format: Hardcover, 370 pages

Source: Borrowed from my local library

Recommended For: Fans  Greek Mythology and smoldery male leads

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she’s returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld… this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she’s forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s Queen


Nikki Beckett has returned after she has been presumably missing for six months. She hasn’t been in rehab or away on some drug binge, but in the Everneath where her six months away has been equal to one hundred years. Nikki went to the Everneath with Cole when she believed she had no other options left to her. Unlike every other person who has gone to the Feed, Nikki didn’t fade away. She remembers her life from above, but most importantly, she remembers Jack. She decides to go back to Jack, to try to make amends with her family and say goodbye properly before the Tunnels come for her. That is her destiny, to become a battery to the Everneath or to become an Everliving next to Cole as his queen. Unfortunately, as Cole’s queen, Nikki would have to feed off of people as he does and she refuses to do so. As time progresses she decides that these options don’t suit her and therefore she takes her fate into her own hands.

I really enjoyed Everneath, the Hades and Persephone myth has been done a few times and though it is one of my favorite myths I was getting a little sick of it. This book was a different kind of retelling where I didn’t find myself figuring out exactly what was going to happen next.

The characters were a good mix of personalities and though I had a hard time accepting some of the behaviors of certain characters I thought they worked well together. I honestly had a very hard time understanding why Nikki was so in love with Jack. They did go a bit into their back-story but it didn’t completely “click” with me, there seemed to be constant doubt on Nikki’s part and considering he was the sole reason she was able to hang on during the feed it seemed a little confusing. It may be that I am outgrowing the YA romances (gasp!) but I still wanted more from their relationship.

Overall I really liked Everneath, I believe I will continue with the series since the ending of this book was very interesting to me and I recommend it to those who enjoy Greek Mythology and retellings. Originally I was going to recommend it to fans of Goddess Interrupted and Fury but there seems to be a great divide between these fans, as they either love Fury or Everneath. Ironically, I was not particularly a Fury fan, and I enjoyed Everneath very much.

Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Title: Seraphina

Author: Rachel Hartman

Publishing Information: July 10, 2012 by Random House Books for Young Readers

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Series information: Book 1 in a planned series

Format: Hardcover, 451 pages

Source: Received an ARC from the publisher

Recommended For: Readers looking for a very new fantasy tale rich with dragons, court intrigue, and excellent romance.

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

I’m going to have to leave the summary up to Goodreads at this point because this book isn’t published until July 10, 2012 and I really don’t want to ruin it for anyone. I am SO grateful to have received an ARC from Random House via Netgalley! This review was hard for me to write because the book was so amazing I didn’t know how to approach the book to do it justice. So I decided to break it down as much as I could with no spoilers!! So here we go…

The world:

The world Rachel Hartman created was beautifully imaginative. I was honestly awed by the way she molded everything together. Seraphina is walking the line between two very distinct societies and social classes. Everything from the description of the clothing down to each dragon scale described was stunning. I was immediately captured and had no trouble imagining the world in which Seraphina lived.

The characters:

I loved the characters though I do have to say that there were quite a few to keep track of and I did find myself getting a tad confused at times trying to keep everyone straight. First, Seraphina is extremely headstrong, independent and intelligent. I was very impressed by her character because she felt very real for me. Her feelings (or lack of) toward her dead mother really touched me and made me appreciate and understand her in a magnificent way. I loved the way Seraphina grew throughout the novel and came to trust those around her as she was wary to do her whole life. Prince Lucian Kiggs was so loveable to me. He played the “Prince Charming” character wonderfully and I basically fell in love with him from the start. He was extremely devoted to his family and his duty but also torn in his affection for the mysterious Seraphina. Orma may have been my favorite character. I simply loved him. He seemed tactless, rude and uncaring in the beginning and still, he won my heart. As the story progressed I could see how much Seraphina meant to him and it reminded me of Karou and Brimstone’s heartfelt relationship from Daughter of Smoke and Bone. The secondary characters (found in Seraphina’s head and elsewhere) were so fun and interesting, I only wish we had learned more about them. Let’s not forget about the DRAGONS!!! They were gorgeous, mean, loving, and intricate and not at all like dragons I have read about before.

The plot:

Unfortunately I can’t go into too much detail here but I loved the story throughout. I loved the interwoven themes and relationships. It was mysterious, romantic, fantastical and all things amazing. The romance in the novel was not at all instantaneous and fake. It progressed slowly through the novel and grew in a real way. Finally, I was so happy with the ending of this book. Things were tied up in a nice way so that the immediate threat was handled but not in a way that left the reader wondering what had just happened. However, I have to be honest and say that once I turned the last page I immediately wondered (and researched) if there was a sequel in the works, and it looks like there is!

I honestly can’t say enough about this book, from the breathtaking cover to the last page I was completely enthralled. Though I am lucky enough to have an ARC of this book I have already pre-ordered the hardcover edition.

“A thousand regrets I’ve had in love,
A thousand times I’ve longed to change the past.
I know, my love, there is no going back.
No undoing of our thousand burdens.
We must go on despite our heavy hearts.
A thousand regrets I’ve had in love, but I shall never regret you.”