Review: Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh

27064385Title: Ivory and Bone

Author: Julie Eshbaugh

Publishing Information: June 7, 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction,History

Series information: Book one in a planned trilogy

Format: Hardcover, 371 pages

Source: Received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss

Recommended For: Readers who are interested in the unique prehistoric setting and slow burn relationships

“It’s as if she’s always known him, and is somehow surprised to find him here—right here, in front of her—right where she left him before time began.”

A quick read, but rather underwhelming. While I found the setting to be very interesting, simply because how often do we get to read a book set in this time period, it was not enough to save the story for me.

The author did do a lot of research into this setting, and it’s clear that she was very thorough. The beginning of the novel fascinated me but after some time I found myself skimming through so many descriptions about the rocks, sky and dirt path that I couldn’t help but be frustrated. I understand that we need the world building and the author has to paint the picture for us but it was just the same thing over and over and I got so bored and found myself skimming which I honestly never do.

The main characters seemed layered and interesting enough. We learn much about Kol and his character as we are in his head hearing the story for the most part of the novel. Mya was seemingly unlikable, but I always knew there was much more to her character than we first saw. The other characters fell very short for me. Lo comes in late in the novel and we learn much of the strife between the two clans but it was incredibly obvious Lo wasn’t who she seemed. Even learning of her plans, her character seemed very…off. Like almost dual personalities? I didn’t find her manipulative, I found her to be sick in the head.

I see that quite a few people had a hard time with the narration of this novel, and though it didn’t bother me, I can see why people struggle. Kol is telling the story to Mya so we garner a lot of details that we would miss if we weren’t in the head of our narrator. That being said, things still get confusing at times. Then near the end of novel Kol’s storytelling is over and we switch to a different POV and I can see why this wouldn’t work for a lot of readers.

I will say that the novel was interesting enough to keep me reading and despite the frustrating descriptions and one layered characters it was a quick read. The novel ends on a note that made me surprised to hear that this is the beginning of a series. I can recommend it to those of you intrigued by the setting and Pride and Prejudice comparisons, but overall I found it not worth the hype.

Shelf talker: Ivory and Bone seemed to go on forever with inconsequential details and a slow burn romance that I just couldn’t fall for. The appeal in the unique setting was enough to keep me going, but I probably won’t continue on with the series.

Review: Graphic Novel Roundup

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! That time when we all start freaking out about meeting our Goodreads goal. I had some rather wonderful changes happen this year which left me with much less time for reading. I had to lower my Goodreads goal twice and I am still reading half of what I usually read! Admittedly, I read quite a few graphic novels this year to even make that measly goal. So here I am to share with you some mini reviews of said graphic novels! Also, I want to make sure everyone knows about Hoopla! Hoopla is available through your local library (if you are lucky, like me) and it allows you to borrow movies, videos, music and audiobooks straight from your browser, tablet, or smartphone. The graphic novels look AMAZING on my iPad, I almost prefer them to the print! That is how I read most of the books featured in this review!

monstressTitle: Monstress

Author: Marjorie M. Liu

Genre: Fantasy, Horror

Series Information: 1 collected edition (so far)

Source: My public library via Hoopla

I waited to pick up Monstress and I was so worried that it wouldn’t live up to the hype. Boy was I wrong to wait. Monstress was amazing. It has such a deep and interesting plot with so many layers, and the artwork is absolutely stunning. This was one of those graphic novels that kept me guessing throughout, and kept me wanting more from all of the characters. The ending completely blew me away and I absolutely need to know more. In a few words, it was vibrant, intriguing and one of the best graphic novels I have ever read.

wdTitle: The Wicked & The Divine

Author: Kieron Gillen

Genre: Fantasy, Mythology, Paranormal

Series Information: 4 collected editions (so far)

Source: My public library via Hoopla

I am somewhat all over the place with my opinions on The Wicked & The Divine so let me share with you my initial review of the first two collected editions: I barely knew what was happening for the first half of this graphic novel. However, things came together and I was very impressed. I read this using Hoopla and the artwork blew me away, it was so stunning. Too impressive for words, really. Overall, it was an entertaining read, and I look forward for what’s to come. Then, upon reading book three, I wasn’t sure that I was going to continue on with the story as I found it to be so underwhelming, and the artwork was lacking the vibrant nature of books one and two. Finally, I just finished the fourth collected edition and wow! I absolutely could not stop reading. Everything came back together and the beautiful artwork returned and I could absolutely not put it down. I need to see where this series goes. As long as you can power through that third collected edition, you will be rewarded. Definitely recommended!

Continue reading

Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

18584855

Title: Heartless

Author: Marissa Meyer

Publishing Information:  November 8rd 2016 by Feiwel & Friends

Genre: Fantasy, Retelling, Romance

Series Information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 464pages

Source: Received an ARC from the publisher

Recommended For: Readers looking for a fun, whimsical and romantic origin story.

 

Heartless was a very fun read. It was whimsical and despite being a long novel it was a very quick read. I really loved Catherine and am completely on board with her origin story. While reading, I was very worried that Heartless would end in a way that would make me unhappy. I was worried that Cath’s reasoning for turning into the villain that we know in Alice in Wonderland would frustrate me. I don’t want to divulge many details but I was worried that it would go the same way as Maleficent in the most recent film, with a man behind the wheel of her emotions. I am so happy to say that this was not the case at all.

Throughout Heartless the reader grows to love Cath, and her beau, and I can say that I felt her fury and reasoning for who she becomes. I found myself seething as she seethed and feeling satisfied as she came into her own as the Queen. The secondary characters were lovely, I don’t think there will ever be an Alice in Wonderland story where I am not a little bit in love with the Hatter. I wish that Meyer showed us more of the land of Chess, as it sounds even more intriguing than the land of Hearts. Though I am thrilled that this was a standalone, and everything was tied up perfectly, I cannot help but wish that Meyer went further with a companion novel telling us of Alice and what happens when she meets the now villainous Queen of Hearts.

Shelf Talker: Heartless is a whimsical, tragically romantic and fun novel. Highly recommended for fans of origin stories, swoons and vibrantly atmospheric novels.

Review: Until We Meet Again by Renee Collins

23277959Title: Until We Meet Again

Author: Renee Collins

Publishing Information:  November 3rd 2015 by Sourcebooks Fire

Genre: Time travel, romance, science fiction

Series Information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 322 pages

Source: Received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss

Recommended For: Readers looking for a romantic, easy read with a swoony male and bittersweet ending

The gist here is that Cassandra is staying with her family in a beach house that was inhabited by Lawrence and his family in 1925. The issue, of course, is that Cassandra does not live in 1925 and by some form of magic they are able to travel through time and meet on the beach behind the house. Cassandra does some sleuthing and finds out some information that insinuates that Lawrence’s life may be in jeopardy. The two are faced with wondering if they should save his life and therefore alter time (we’ve all heard this before, eh?) and of course inevitably, they fall in love.

I had a hard time with Cassandra, she was moody and pretty dramatic. I suppose that she fit into that “moody teenager” stereotype but I had a few moments where I was feeling a bit old reading her parts. I really enjoyed how her parents were present, the story felt much more real with the inclusion of the “normal” family dynamics that were presented. Lawrence has his own drama, and the two connect in a really sweet way. I would have appreciated a bit more from the secondary characters, I definitely think that it would have fleshed out the novel a bit more.

As I am revisiting my thoughts on Until We Meet Again, I am reminded of how while reading I kept thinking how nothing was really happening, but I was still invested in the story. I am unsure if this is a good or bad thing, to be honest, but despite the admittedly slow parts I still couldn’t put this novel down. The ending was bittersweet. I wish things played out differently, but can’t see how they feasibly could have. I will say that despite the insta-love factor between these two, I totally fell for their romance and enjoyed the novel overall.

Shelf Talker: After finishing, I wasn’t sure how to feel. I loved this book but kept reading it with this thought of impending doom. Admittedly, not much happened throughout, yet I couldn’t tear myself away. I liked the characters, especially Lawrence (swoon) and major props for no invisible parents! This one is definitely recommended for someone looking to fall into a love story and get lost for a while.

Review: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

24376529Title: A Madness So Discreet

Author: Mindy McGinnis

Publishing Information:  October 6th 2015 by Katherine Tegen Books

Genre: Historical fiction, mystery, horror, thriller

Series Information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 376 pages

Source: Obtained an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss

Recommended For: Readers looking for an atmospheric and character driven novel filled with mystery and drama. Especially for fans of Cat Winters and gothic literature.

I loved this novel. Immensely. Months after finishing it and I still can’t stop thinking of about it. In fact, I keep checking for ANY recommendations that may come close to this gritty, suspenseful novel. I expected A Madness So Discreet to be a little creepier, just look at that cover! However I wasn’t disappointed as the setting and tone of the novel were unbelievably realistic and rather dark.

“Quite the opposite; my definition is too broad. I think we’re all quite mad. Some of us are just more discreet about it.”

The characters in this novel were fleshed out, detailed, and felt very real. I found myself feeling something for each of them, and there was more than one occasion that I found my heart broken and raw over something happening on the page. Grace had particular strength and I was completely invested in her story. Though I felt more connected to the secondary characters, Grace still shone as our main character. I loved Nell so much, she was forward with her sexuality, strength and took as much control of her own life as she was able, living confined as she was. Dr. Thornhollow was also just phenomenal, he reminded me of Sherlock in a way so clearly I loved him. I was a little concerned that he and Grace would fall in love and therefore fall into a familiar trope but NOPE McGinnis steered clear and though there were some moments I found myself swooning for the doctor, I am glad that things were kept platonic. I think in keeping things on the friendly side with these two we were better able to appreciate each character and see how well they worked together. The relationship was fitting, and deeper because of their lack of romance. Also super quick shout out to Adelaide, Thornhollow’s plucky, fantastic and blatantly feminist sister…

“So then the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association merged to create the National American Woman Suffrage Association, which personally I think is rather a mouthful,’ Adelaide said as she set down her wineglass.
‘I’m sure others have much shorter terms,’ the doctor said, sawing into his steak with more vigor than necessary.
‘Such as?’ Grace asked.
‘There are plenty who just call us bitches, dear.”

There was a lot going on in this novel, many different threads weaved together to create something truly fantastic. I will say that there are many triggers in A Madness So Discreet. The beginning of the novel may be very hard for some to get through as it is appalling in how horrifying these patients are treated. Horrifying being my thing, I was hooked from the first sentence, but I promise that things even out a bit and it is completely worth the read.

Shelf Talker: Fantastic. The story built on itself, was never boring, and I really cared about the characters. In fact, I want more from these characters, but I saw that coming as they all complement one another and really create a great story. The ending delivered in a way that brought great closure. Though it is much more, I would say in terms of atmosphere and great characters, A Madness So Discreet can be summed up by saying, “it’s Sherlock Holmes meets Cat Winters novels.” I really, really enjoyed it.

 

Review: This Monstrous Thing

22811807Title: This Monstrous Thing

Author: Mackenzie Lee

Publishing Information:  September 22nd 2015 by Katherine Tegen Books

Genre: Science fiction, steampunk, gothic, fantasy, historical fiction

Series Information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 384 pages

Source: Received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss

Recommended For: Fans of gothic literature, the original Frankenstein, steampunk or books that focus on familial and platonic relationships over romantic relationships.

It should come as no surprise to any of you that I am a huge fan of gothic literature, give me Stoker over Austen any day! Therefore it was no surprise that I was completely on board with this novel as soon as I read the premise. I am happy to say that I was very pleased with the Lee’s re-imagining of Frankenstein. I was reminded of my multiple reads and analyzations of Frankenstein and the question of humanity many times while reading, and I think this would make a perfect companion to the original in any classroom setting.

“When Oliver asked her how she read so quickly, she told him with a sly smile that she took books to bed like lovers.”

I absolutely loved the characters of this novel, though I would have liked the secondary characters to have been fleshed out just a bit more. I do believe that my favorite parts were the parts that involved Mary, as I so enjoyed reading the slight nods to her lifestyle with Percy Shelley. I very much enjoyed the relationship between Alasdair and Oliver, I loved how despite everything, the brothers still had deep loyalties to one another. I was very surprised by how intricate and interesting the plot was. There were many layers to this novel, and it was interesting to see how they all weaved together. There were lessons to be learned, and damage done for sure throughout the novel; in the end the reader was able to see the importance of humanity, loyalty, and how our decisions shape us and the world we live in.

Shelf Talker: It turns out that This Monstrous Thing is a wonderful retelling of a classic tale. It blends gothic elements, mystery and questions of humanity together in a truly wonderful way. Definitely pick this up if you are looking for a novel that is gothic, mysterious and at its core, rather sweet.

.

Review: Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas

20652088Title: Ash & Bramble

Author: Sarah Prineas

Publishing Information:  September 15th 2015 by HarperTeen

Genre: Fantasy, retellings, romance, fairy tale, magic

Series Information: First in the Ash & Bramble series

Format: Hardcover, 464 pages

Source: Received an ARC for review from the publisher via Edelweiss

Recommended For: Fans of fairy tale retellings

 

I almost didn’t review Ash & Bramble because I have been feeling such frustration over the disappointment I had upon finishing. This book had so much promise, excellent writing fitted with a dark and twisty fairy tale retelling seemed like it would be a wonderful experience for me. Unfortunately, the novel didn’t just fall flat, but it frustrated me to no end. I will say that this novel was interesting and fast paced, Sarah Prineas writes eloquently and I wanted to love this novel so much for so many reasons. Unfortunately, I had a very hard time relating to our main character, Pin. However, due to her being an unreliable narrator I think that it isn’t unexpected that this was the case. It somehow frustrated me more that the secondary characters such as Shoe, were more likable and interesting than our main gal.

Throughout this novel there were continuous hints to the “before” and I needed more from that. I almost felt as if the novel was half finished, and to be honest the romance was not something that I fell into at all. I somewhat irrationally judged our male lead for liking Pin so much because I felt like she was so standoffish and somewhat rude. I like the dark parts to the plot, I liked the concept, but overall it just didn’t work for me. To be quite honest if this was the first in a duology I would probably be making excuses and saying that things were just getting fleshed out with hopes that we would learn answers to ALL THE THINGS in book two. Unfortunately this is not the case, so I was left very disappointed in the end.

Shelf Talker: The more time that has passed since I have read this novel, the more frustrated I have become. I felt that many parts of the novel were disconnected and though the ending was satisfying in a way, it still made me angry. The ending was conclusive for the most part, but on the other hand, it seemed very much like there could (ahem, should) be a sequel to explain some very open plot threads. I have just recently learned that there is to be a companion novel that takes place 50 years after the ending of Ash & Bramble. I can’t imagine how it will answer questions that I have, it seems as if a prequel would have been more helpful in answering my inquiries. I will say that there are many who absolutely adored this novel so as always I suggest you read other reviews and maybe give it a go yourself!

Review: Slasher Girls and Monster Boys

19364719Title: Slasher Girls and Monster Boys

Author: Various, edited by April Genevieve Tucholke

Publishing Information:  August 18th 2015 by Dial Books

Genre: Horror, short stories, paranormal, fantasy, myster

Series Information: Standaone anthology

Format: Hardcover, 385 pages

Source: Received from the publisher via Edelweiss

Recommended For: Fans of literally any of the authors in the anthology or those of you looking for some creepy reads that will leave you wanting more.

I am not usually one who enjoys short stories, but this seemed right up my alley so I decided to give it a go. I am so happy that I did because it opened my eyes to some new authors and I thoroughly enjoyed most of the anthology. I am going to share a quick glance review with some blurbs about each of the stories:

  • The Birds of Azalea Street by Nova Ren Suma was creepy in a real sort of way…3.5
  • In the Forest Dark and Deep by Carrie Ryan was excellent. A retelling of sorts of Alice in Wonderland, it gave me chills and somehow made me sad. 5 stars
  • Cat Winters delivers another fantastic historical ghostly tale in Emmeline. 5 stars
  • Bardugo’s story somehow makes celebrity rehab surprisingly creepy. 4 stars
  • I liked the lore of the story by Megan Shepherd, the harbinger of Death is always a go in my book! 3.5 stars
  • I still don’t love Danielle Paige’s writing…but she wrote about basically my favorite thing ever so I dig it. 4 stars
  • April’s story was probably my least favorite. Very “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” and very dull. 2 stars
  • The Maberry story was dull, and was too prequel like for my tastes. Zombies. Meh. 2 stars
  • OMG the Jay Kristoff story was awesome. 5 stars
  • Stefan Bachman’s was interesting enough…3 stars
  • The Girl Without a Face by Marie Lu actually creeped me out a bit which is a feat in itself! Vengeful ghost for the win! 5 stars
  • A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow by McCormick Templeman was quite good, and almost fable-like. 4 stars
  • Stitches by A.G. Howard is not for the squeamish, but it was fantastic. 5 stars
  • I like the vengeance in Kendare’s story. 4 stars

Shelf Talker: As you can see, I really enjoyed most of these short stories, which was a fantastic surprise for me! If you enjoy even a few of these authors, pick up this anthology and give it a go, it was the perfect creepy read that got me excited for more from these authors.

Review: Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett

Title: Blood and Salt

Author: Kim Liggett

Publishing Information:  September 22, 2015 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Genre: Horror, fantasy, mystery, romance

Series Information: First in a duology

Format: Hardcover, 352 pages

Source: Was gifted a copy by Cassi of My Thoughts Literally

Recommended For: Fans of atmospheric novels that make you feel as if you are caught outside on an October evening. For fans of Kendare Blake, The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle and Gothic novels filled with beautiful writing and unforgettable characters. 

Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town’s history of unrequited love and murder, alchemy and immortality. Charming traditions soon give way to a string of gruesome deaths, and Ash feels drawn to Dane, a forbidden boy with secrets of his own. As the community prepares for a ceremony five hundred years in the making, Ash must fight not only to save her mother, but herself—and discover the truth about Quivira before it’s too late. Before she’s all in—blood and salt.

It is hard to say what I loved most about Blood and Salt. This might be silly to say, but the whole scary corn aspect really added to the atmosphere for me. You see, I grew up in a house right across from a farm, and they had a GIANT cornfield. A cornfield where we would often play hide and seek, or dare each other to go into at night. Honestly, very few things are scarier than being in the middle of a cornfield on a chilly, windy evening. That being said, the atmosphere of Blood and Salt was stellar. I loved the creepy cult vibe of the whole settlement, and I kept waiting for the veil to drop. Let me tell you, did that veil ever drop. I was equal parts sad for the inhabitants of the settlement, and horrified at their mentality. As little tidbits came to light I was shocked by some of the revelations and absolutely couldn’t put the book down.

Now, what about the romance, eh? The first thing that I am going to say is that there is no love triangle in this novel. To be quite honest, I am unsure what book other people were reading when they noted that there is a love triangle. It isn’t even like there were blurred lines here, there is no love triangle to speak of. At all. Second little thing to note about the romance is that the Romeo and Juliet aspect comes (not at all from a love triangle) but from the aspect that Ash & her beau come from different family lines who are forbidden to be together. You know, like Romeo and Juliet. Okay, so the thing that there is, however, is some serious instalove happening. As we read on the we come to understand that there are REASONS for this sort of thing, but there was a certain burning desire between these two characters upon seeing one another and at first glance it totally set me off. As I said, things become more clear throughout and things got a little achy and there were yearns and I enjoyed it, but in the beginning the romance wasn’t my favorite part of Blood and Salt. However, and I can’t say too much here, Ash’s reaction to the relationship near the end of the novel was stellar. It felt real, and it felt strong.

“When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in—blood and salt.”

Continue reading

Review: The Uninvited by Cat Winters

Title: The Uninvited

Author: Cat Winters

Publishing Information:  August 11, 2015 by William Morrow

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Paranormal, Fantasy, Horror

Series Information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 343 pages

Source: Obtained an ARC for review via the publisher

Recommended For: Fans of historical fiction with paranormal elements, strong heroines, and those of you looking for some swoony feels

Related Reviews: Review of In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

Twenty-five year old Ivy Rowan rises from her bed after being struck by the flu, only to discover the world has been torn apart in just a few short days. But Ivy’s life-long gift—or curse—remains. For she sees the uninvited ones—ghosts of loved ones who appear to her, unasked, unwelcomed, for they always herald impending death. On that October evening in 1918 she sees the spirit of her grandmother, rocking in her mother’s chair. An hour later, she learns her younger brother and father have killed a young German out of retaliation for the death of Ivy’s older brother Billy in the Great War.

Horrified, she leaves home, to discover the flu has caused utter panic and the rules governing society have broken down. Ivy is drawn into this new world of jazz, passion, and freedom, where people live for the day, because they could be stricken by nightfall. But as her ‘uninvited guests’ begin to appear to her more often, she knows her life will be torn apart once more, but Ivy has no inkling of the other-worldly revelations about to unfold.

We follow Ivy as she leaves her childhood home behind. She does her best to move on from the violence and guilt that her family brings. As Ivy leaves home, she walks by the store in which her father and brother committed a horrible act of violence and finds Daniel Schendel down on the floor, doing his best to remove the blood from his floorboards. Ivy does her best to push into Daniel’s life and provide him with some sort of solace to replace the guilt that she feels from her family’s crime. Over time, the two are able to build something beautiful despite the horror that is right outside their door.

“I know he’s in mourning and a tragic figure, which I’m sure melts your poetry-loving heart.”

This novel broke my heart in the very best way. Like other novels by Cat Winters, Ivy is living in a rather difficult time for women. Therefore the growth of her character was truly amazing to watch. Her strength shone through the terror and ugliness of the time in which she is living, I especially liked her role in driving an ambulance for the Red Cross. Daniel grows in his own way as well, and learns to trust that not everyone is as hateful and close-minded as those he had come in contact with prior to meeting Ivy. The secondary characters have their own layered and interesting personalities and I found that I really cared about each one.
Continue reading