Review: The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long

TreacheryofBeautifulThings_JKT.inddTitle: The Treachery of Beautiful Things

Author: Ruth Frances Long

Publishing Information: April 16, 2012, Dial Books

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Fairytale

Series information: Standalone!

Format: Hardcover, 363 pages

Source: Borrowed from my local library

Recommended For: Fans looking for a magical tale about love, jealousy, mischief, and happy endings.

As Jenny and her brother Tom were walking through the woods on their way home one day, her brother was taken by the woods. That’s right, he wasn’t abducted in the sense you would think, but quite literally, the woods reached out and swallowed him whole. Before Jenny is able to leave for college she comes to the conclusion that she must make peace with the woods, so she travels back to the place where her brother was taken, and is then taken by the woods herself.

Thankfully (in my opinion) Jenny finds herself in the land of faerie and finds that her brother is now a grown man, and the lover of Queen Titania. Jack and Puck (yes – that Puck) do their best to convince her to leave the wood but she refuses, determined to rescue her brother before leaving. Thankfully she is not on her own as Jack and Puck realize that she isn’t leaving and therefore do their best to keep her safe.

I loved these characters. Jenny was determined and intelligent, but also flawed. She found herself in trouble and did her best to finagle her way out of tricky situations but I found her distress believable as she did need saving on more than one occasion. Jack o’ the forest was quite possibly my favorite. He was complicated in the sense that he believed (and some could argue) that he was not the hero of a tale, but a man bound by duty who did not always fall on the pure side of the line. Additionally, I found their romance to be believable and fun to watch unfold. It wasn’t instantaneous, but sweet and not without fault. More importantly, though the novel didn’t revolve around their romance, it was still a subtle, yet important aspect and fleshed out the novel beautifully. I was particularly fond of Puck, who you may remember from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He was the same mischievous, and fun character that I remembered but I found him to be more layered in this novel. I don’t know what it is but when he did something “good” I found my heart skip a beat a little. I liked what the author did with her secondary characters, Tom was extremely interesting in how his music took an important role in creating his character. Titania was fiercer and slightly more evil than I remember (for reasons I can’t divulge here), she was more in charge of Oberon, who truly just seemed to love the queen and be at a loss on what to do with (and without) her.

“Beware a kiss, he told her. Kisses are powerful things. You expose part of your soul.”

It is really not question that I was bound to adore The Treachery of Beautiful Things. I mean, lets be serious, any novel that has characters from Shakespeare’s plays is bound to be an Alyssa book, not to mention the swoons, and hello? The whole thing takes place in a forest. I LOVE FORESTS. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I loved the book for those reasons but I am no fool, there has to be some uniqueness in a novel for me to have full out adoration, and friends, The Treachery of Beautiful Things has all of those things! The fey world was beautiful, intricate, and at times a tad creepy, the characters were layered and interesting, not once was I bored while reading throughout this novel. I do have to be up front here and say that though I did appreciate the way the novel ended, it wasn’t how I pictured it in my mind, nor was it the ideal ending that I had hoped for. That isn’t to say it wasn’t appropriate or lovely, because it definitely was.

Ruth Frances Long writes glorious prose, she has an innate ability to weave words together to create something magical and I can hardly wait to see what she write next, though I must admit I would like some more Jack, please!!

Coming Soon! Dark Triumph by R.L. LaFevers

darktriumphSybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. Naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, the convent views Sybella as one of their most dangerous weapons.

But those assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

Dark Triumph is probably my most anticipated read of 2013, the cover is amazing (how awesome does Sybella look!?) and I can’t wait to find out who this “mysterious knight” is! Sooo it is no question that I wanted to get my hands on this book immediately after finishing Grave Mercy (I had an ARC, do you know how long I have been waiting?!) Robin LaFevers announced that the book trailer premiered today, along with a pretty awesome playlist, and anyone who shares it gets entered to win an ARC of Dark Triumph!!! 

To watch the trailer go here and if you share and win a copy, share the love my friends!! 

Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

13206760Title: Scarlet

Author: Marissa Meyer

Publishing Information: February 4, 2013 by Feiwel & Friends

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction Romance, Retellings

Series information: Book 2 in the Lunar Chronicles

Format: Hardcover, 464 pages

Source: Unedited ARC

Recommended For: Readers looking for a strong willed heroine, a brooding male lead and a new spin on an old tale

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother and the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she has no choice but to trust him, though he clearly has a few dark secrets of his own.
As Scarlet and Wolf work to unravel one mystery, they find another when they cross paths with Cinder. Together, they must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner. 

There is so much to say about this book, yet so much of it has already been said. In a nutshell, here is my commentary while reading and my mini review immediately after finishing:

Screen shot 2013-01-29 at 7.22.01 PM

Yeah…so there’s that. Basically I loved this book. LOOVEDDDD the characters and the setting and it was one of my biggest book hangovers OF THE YEAR.

Remember how I said I wanted more world building while I was reading Cinder? Marissa Meyer delves right in and we are able to see a bigger landscape in Scarlet, complete with bonfires and farm frolicking (erm..kind of).

Scarlet Benoit has made my list of favorite female characters of all time. She is plucky and rough and fights her own battles. She is determined to find her grandmother and though she works hard to do what is right in most situations, she also has no problem getting dirty to do what needs to be done. Then there is Wolf and I don’t even know what to say about him because he is so swoonworthy I can’t even…I am all for the strong females who can take care of themselves but I also love a guy who stands up for his lady and maybe Wolf gets a little overprotective and ya know…murderous…but I’m kind of okay with that given the yumminess. Also Meyer introduces us to some other fabulous new characters, I specifically adored Captain Thorne. He is quite a character, he is intelligent, snarky and kind of crazy. Though Wolf is my favorite guy, I have joined the fangirling of Thorne as well. Scarlet and Cinder are vastly different characters and while reading book one I sometimes had a hard time connecting to Cinder. While reading Scarlet I didn’t only feel more connected Scarlet Benoit but I reconnected with Cinder and better appreciated her to the point where I can’t wait to go back and re-read Cinder.

The story was fabulous, I was surprised and thrilled. I highly recommend you read Cinder and then pick up this one immediately, it comes out soon so hurry!! It honestly left me with one of the biggest book hangovers of the year and guys, I can’t stop singing “OHHH WOLFIEEE, OHHH WOLFIEEEE AIN’T YOU THE ONEEE!”

Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

11235712Title: Cinder

Author: Marissa Meyer

Publishing Information:January 3, 2012 by Feiwel & Friends

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction Romance, Retellings

Series information: Book 1 in the Lunar Chronicles

Format: Hardcover, 390 pages

Source: Borrowed from my local library

Recommended For: Readers looking for a strong heroine, a charming prince and a new spin on an old tale

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

I am going to come right out and admit it: I totally judge books by their cover. I know I shouldn’t and after almost missing out on two gems last year due my hating their covers I am trying really hard to not do that anymore. The first book I almost passed by was Daughter of Smoke and Bone, the blue feathers and such, I smelled a masquerade, and vampires. Not for me. Thankfully those of you who read DoSaB know that it was amazing and not at all about vampires, whew! The second book I almost missed out on was Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I don’t know what is wrong with me here, those are some nice shoes and frankly, I’d like to get me a pair, but something about the cyborg thing just made me think “NOT AN ALYSSA BOOK!” and I moved on. MONTHS after the release, Heidi told me to cut the crap and read the book because it was awesome and was totally an Alyssa book for all of the right reasons. The girl was right, (she usually is, but that’s for another time) I devoured Cinder and was chomping at the bit for Scarlet’s release (lucky for me I obtained a copy early and you can expect that review to pop up shortly!)

There isn’t much to say here that hasn’t already been said. Marissa Meyer has a knack for character development, I really enjoyed watching Cinder grow as a character, I enjoyed how she didn’t exactly succumb to her stepmother and let her control her life but she also didn’t jump into action in an unbelievable way. Her rebellion was justified and genuine and my heart melted for her. Prince Kai is, well, charming, to say the least. The story between these two was refreshing, Kai was a gentleman and though outgoing in all the right ways he wasn’t demeaning or demanding as so many male leads are these days, maybe it was the prince in him but I found this to be extremely refreshing. I can’t wait to see where their relationship goes.

The secondary characters were just as loveable or just as rage inducing. Iko is Cinder’s best friend and I really felt their friendship, if that remotely makes sense. Meyer has a knack for making me FEEL FEELINGS, and that isn’t easy. Even emotions from the “evil” characters came through, when the family was mourning, I mourned and raged with them. I was a tiny bit scared of the Lunar queen but I suppose that is the point, I can’t wait to see what Meyer has in store for her!

The story isn’t without faults, it didn’t take me long to uncover one major twist in the story but I wasn’t disappointed that it didn’t pop out at me and there were plenty more that had my mouth on the floor. I would have also enjoyed some more world building and insight into the Lunar characters but lucky for me book two delves deeper into the world and characters so I’m not complaining!

In a nutshell, friends, even if the premise (okay or cover) of this book makes you feel that it isn’t worth the hype I encourage you to try it anyway. Marissa Meyer provides readers with a brand new twist on the Cinderella tale that leaves the reader begging for more.

“…and yet, the memory of his fingers against her skin refused to fade.” 

Review: Splintered by A. G. Howard

splinteredTitle: Splintered

Author: A.G. Howard

Publishing Information: January 1, 2013 by Amulet Books

Genre: Young Adult, Retellings, Romance, Fantasy

Series information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 384 pages

Source: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

Recommended For: Fans of darker fairy tale retellings, strong heroines and yummy kissy scenes!

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

Wow. This is one of the first books that I have read and felt like I immediately needed to write a review. Now, days after finishing Splintered, I still cannot get the world out of my head. I am not a lover of Alice in Wonderland, Alice always annoyed me and the story was just too happy and simple for me, I think this is one reason that Splintered blew me away. Splintered was deliciously dark and descriptive. I had no problem imagining Wonderland as Alyssa (best name ever, am I right?) experienced it. Howard walks the reader through a vibrant world with characters that stay with you long past the last page.

Let’s get into those characters, shall we? First there is Alyssa, descendent of Alice (yes, the Alice) who is facing her own issues back in the real world. First off, her mom is in a mental hospital because she hears and talks to bugs and plants. The bigger issue here is that Alyssa can also hear these voices and her biggest fear is that she will end up just like her mother and be locked away awaiting shock therapy treatments. Then there is the normal teenage issues that we are all familiar with, she has a secret crush on her best friend, Jeb. Jeb is a sort of bad boy artist with a labret piercing and serious mechanic skills, he also feels as if it is his duty to protect Alyssa from all things, and though endearing, she doesn’t always love this about him. Finally, there is Morpheus. Oh Morpheus how do I even begin to describe you? Morpheus has a few forms but in a nutshell he is a fantastical, blue haired, brooding bad ass with a killer set of wings that can both fly you into the starlight and keep you warm if you’re feeling chilly. I bet you guys sense a love triangle happening here, and I can’t lie, it’s a biggie.” I was super CONFLICTED while reading this and there were many texts to my girls stating “I love the pierced one again,” and “OMG he has wings!” Honestly, after finishing the book I still don’t know how I am feeling or who I love more, I think I am happy with the ending but then I obsess a bit more and I just don’t know! *sigh* But guys, I can’t lie to you, it was worth it because these were some of the best KISSY SCENES I have read in a while. Seriously I WANT MOAR PLEASE!

“I hate you,” I say, the sentiment muffled against his heart, hoping to make it true.
“And I love you,” he answers without hesitation, voice resolved and raw as he holds me tighter so I can’t break away and react. “A crossroads, my beautiful princess, that was unavoidable—given our situations.”

I loved what Howard did with the secondary characters; they are turned from happy and whimsical beings to dark and frightening creatures. The White Rabbit is now Rabid White, Tweedle Dee and Dum are now grotesque female keepers of lost souls, The Mad Hatter literally becomes his work and you learn a little bit about the Queen of Hearts and why she became so bitter. “Off with her head!” has found new meaning in this debut novel.

I recommend this book to those of you looking for a new twist on a childhood tale, more reminiscent of Tim Burton than Lewis Caroll. It was adventurous, romantic and all together mad.

As I mentioned above, this novel is still running through my head and this morning I couldn’t stop thinking of this song by Kimbra as a delicious companion to the novel.

“You heard the crickets of the early eve
They lurk around the opening in two’s & three’s
Clementine told you not to move with the breeze
I’ll take you down to places where we dare not speak.”

Review: Waking Storms by Sarah Porter

waking stormsTitle: Waking Storms

Author: Sarah Porter

Publishing Information: July 3, 2012 by Harcourt Children’s

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mermaids, Romance, Mythology

Series information: Book 2 in the Lost Voices series

Format: Hardcover, 400 pages

Source: Borrowed from my local library

Recommended For: Lovers of mermaid stories

After parting ways with her troubled mermaid tribe, Luce just wants to live peacefully on her own. But her tranquility doesn’t last long: she receives news that the tribe is on the verge of collapse and desperately needs her leadership. The tribe’s cruel queen wants Luce dead. Dorian, the boy Luce broke mermaid law to save, is determined to make her pay for her part in the murder of his family. And while the mermaids cling to the idea that humans never suspect their existence, there are suddenly ominous signs to the contrary. But when Luce and Dorian meet, they start to wonder if love can overpower the hatred they know they should feel for each other. Can Luce fulfill her rightful role as queen of the mermaids without sacrificing her forbidden romance with Dorian? 

It is impossible for me to write this review without getting a little spoilery so prior to dropping any bombs I am going to prepare you so that if you want to read them you can just highlight to view and if not, you can skip right over them!

Disappointed. If I had to describe my feelings for Waking Storms in one word, that is what it would be: disappointed. Remember all of those things I said about Lost Voices? How wonderful and different it was that the author had zero focus on romantic relationships but focused instead on friendships and character growth? Pretend it never happened. I can’t say that there wasn’t character growth, because there was and it was one of the few reasons I continued reading this book and didn’t mark it as unfinished and as always Porter’s work is descriptive and lyrical, it was not hard to imagine myself deep in the ocean or on a beautiful secluded beach while reading.

I believe it was the drastic changes between book one and two that initially turned me off to Waking Storms, there were many things that didn’t sit well with me. One change between book one and two is the difference in point of view. While reading book one we stayed in Luce’s head, seeing the story from her side alone. This novel follows multiple characters and their point of view and therefore opens up the story so that the reader can get a glimpse into what is happening on land. I would have really enjoyed this change but I couldn’t stand Dorian and half of the book followed his thoughts and experiences. Yes, I can see that he is a teenage boy, and sharing his name with a famous Oscar Wilde character who is obsessed with himself wasn’t lost on me. I’ll admit that I might have even been a bit biased while reading this because I was struggling so hard against the romance that I didn’t like Dorian from the beginning. However, as a reader who experienced Luce almost get raped by her uncle in book one, it was hard for me to appreciate how she was throwing herself emotionally and physically at another male character! I can’t imagine that had I nearly died after almost being raped I would “fall in love” with the next guy I saw and imagined what it would be like to be on land so we could, you know, consummate the relationship!  Not to mention that it wasn’t just teenage romance…it was longing and caressing and frankly made me feel uncomfortable while I was reading since they were both fourteen! Mostly, I hated the way that Luce fell apart when she was around Dorian. In the water she is a strong mermaid queen and “hell hath no fury” and then soon after she is pining for a boy! Honestly in retrospect it felt like that is exactly how the story went: Luce is strong in the water and shows her power in her voice and mind, next scene, Luce is weak and sitting on a beach with Dorian and then? Back to the water! 
Now for a bit more confusion and rage…



I am a little confused as to what the heck was going on with Luce’s father? I love a father daughter relationship but honestly what was he doing on that island? Why was he hearing voices? HOW WAS SHE ABLE TO FIND HIM AND SWIM HIM ACROSS THE WORLD TO SAFETY?! I know there is a third book coming so I am sure we will have all of these questions explained but when I am reading I prefer to be intrigued and not completely confused over a plot point.

Then the ending? I really cannot fathom why that gore was an addition to the story, it was completely out of place. I read horror novels, I am not scared of violence or gore but I was completely thrown off and disgusted while reading this lyrical novel when the ending came. It seemed like an afterthought that could have been taken out completely. The author does have a knack for description, it’s one of the things I really enjoyed while reading book one, however in using this gift to describe a murder scene made me feel really unbalanced and it didn’t sit well with the rest of the novel.


I will say that I loved the beauty and descriptions of this story, I loved the secondary character found in Nausicaa and I really loved the explanation of the origin of the mermaids. I won’t spoil it for you but it was a nice addition that I really liked. Sarah Porter went a completely different way with book two and I am sorry to say that it didn’t work for me, I will not be back for book number three in this series though for those of you still interested, from the end of Waking Storms it seems like Luce has finally found her voice and she may surprise us all. Here’s hoping.

Review: Romeo Redeemed by Stacey Jay

Title: Romeo Redeemed

Author: Stacey Jay

Publishing Information: October 9, 2012 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retellings

Series information: Book 2 in the Juliet Immortal Series

Format: Hardcover, 384 pages

Source: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

Recommended For: Fans of Shakespeare, romance, and tragic heroes


Cursed to live out eternity in his rotted corpse, Romeo, known for his ruthless, cutthroat ways, is given the chance to redeem himself by traveling back in time to save the life of Ariel Dragland. Unbeknownst to her, Ariel is important to both the evil Mercenaries and the love-promoting Ambassadors and holds the fate of the world in her hands. Romeo must win her heart and make her believe in love, turning her away from her darker potential before his work is discovered by the Mercenaries. While his seduction begins as yet another lie, it soon becomes his only truth. Romeo vows to protect Ariel from harm, and do whatever it takes to win her heart and soul. But when Ariel is led to believe his love is a deception, she becomes vulnerable to Mercenary manipulation, and her own inner darkness may ultimately rip them apart (Via Goodreads).

Warning! There will almost definitely be spoilers for Juliet Immortal in this review, be wary as you read! Also, if you haven’t read Juliet Immortal, go ahead and read it because it’s quite lovely. 

Romeo is dying. Actually, dying is an understatement because in actuality he is beginning to decay from the inside and it really isn’t pretty. As his body decays, his mind still holds the guilt for every bit of turmoil he realizes he forced Juliet into. You see, back when Romeo and Juliet lived in Verona, back when he tricked her into killing herself, he really thought he was saving her. He trusted The Friar and believed he was helping Juliet escape from a life of shame and exile. The Friar lied to Romeo and told him that Juliet was going to be living free from sin in Heaven. Unfortunately we know this is not what happened and it was through Romeo’s actions that Juliet suffered.

Finally, after Juliet’s (second) demise, Romeo is given a chance at redemption. He must save Ariel, yes the same Ariel whose body Juliet inhabited in Juliet Immortal, and turn her from the darkness she is slowly falling into. The irony and complication in this task is that Romeo is inhabiting Dylan’s body and in order to save her from the darkness, he must make her fall in love with him. Those of you who remember Dylan from book one can grasp the severity of this cause as Dylan is a jerk (to say the least) and Ariel has an extremely hard time trusting him. The worst part? Romeo has three days. Three days to turn Ariel into a trusting individual, Three days to make Ariel love him, and three days to save them both.

I’m going to be honest here, I really love tortured male leads. I love the whole “I am not worthy” and the angsty, long-haired, “I have a serious edge but really I will snuggle your cat when you’re not looking” kind of guy. It’s just my thing. So Romeo? He’s my kind of dude. He is apparently Ariel’s kind of dude as well because it doesn’t take long for her to fall for him too, and let me tell you Ariel was quite the character herself. In fact, one of my favorite things about this novel was the characterization of Ariel. She had some major STUFF going on in her head yet she was still written like a teenage girl filled with “normal” teenage insecurities. There were moments in the story where there was no doubt in my mind that she and Romeo were destined to be together and it was not because of their mutual goodness. Instead, Ariel stood out at times as a perfect match to Romeo’s dark nature, she was quite kick-ass, and at times, a tiny bit scary. I really fell into their romance, they were even more passionate and “meant to be” than Juliet and Ben from book one and I adored the way that one played out.

“Set me as a seal on your heart,” I whisper against her lips. “For love is as stong as death.”

Juliet Immortal was full of some plot twists, most of which I saw coming. The glorious difference in Romeo Redeemed was that I really didn’t see the twists in plot, and character, coming. I was happily surprised at how things progressed and I really loved the way the novel concluded. The ending in this novel was in no way a rushed epilogue but things progressed a little slower and unfolded in a really wonderful way.

It is often that I enjoy sequels more than book one in a series. In the case of Romeo Redeemed I can’t say that I enjoyed the sequel more simply because for me the novel worked as a wonderful compliment to Juliet Immortal, not so much a continuation of story but more of a necessary companion. The duality between book one and two was apparent and in retrospect I really can’t see reading one without the other. Romeo Redeemed was a delicious read, it was equal parts of romance and intrigue and I highly recommend you give it a chance.

Review: Amber House by Kelly Moore


Title: Amber House

Author: Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed & Larkin Reed

Publishing Information: October 1, 2012 by Arthur A. Levine Books

Genre: Young Adult, Gothic, Paranormal

Series information: Book 1 in a planned trilogy

Format:  Hardcover, 368 pages

Source: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

Recommended For: Readers interested in a vibrant, gothic horror story

“Behind me, the sound of chain sliding over wood.

I felt so cold, so squeezed, I could hardly draw in breath. A tear oozed like blood from the corner of my eye.

I made myself turn. Made myself look.

A woman stood in the shaft of moonlight. She was all darkness to me, backlit by the window. I could see thick curls of black hair, the curves of muscled arms, a shapeless drape of translucent gown. All motionless. A spider ran down a lock of her hair, and air escaped me in the smallest gasp. I wanted to shove my fist in my mouth to stop the scream rising in my throat.”

Sarah Parsons returns to her family’s estate after her grandmother’s death in order to assist her mother in selling the old mansion. After spending some time in the house, Sarah begins to find clues regarding her family history and she becomes connected to the house in a very serious way. Sarah begins experiencing echoes left by former “residents” and in time, comes to unravel the mysteries surrounding her mother and grandmother and the very intense legacy of Amber House.

I really enjoyed Sarah as a character because she was easy to relate to as she was a typical teenage girl thrown into an atypical situation. She reacts to certain incidents and characters in a way that shows her shyness, anger or understanding in a wonderful way. Sammy, Sarah’s little brother, plays a very significant role in this novel and as a reader I was very invested in his storyline as his innocence heightened nearly all aspects of the plot. I felt the same frustration and anger over Sarah’s mother as she did and I really appreciated learning more of her story as the novel progressed.

The romance in this novel is an interesting one. There are times when it screamed love triangle but don’t fear, it is so much more complicate than that! Jackson and Richard are polar opposites, both of whom were interesting characters in their own way. I really enjoyed how “real” Richard seemed to me, he was perfectly created to represent that guy in high school. You know, the one all the girls want to date and all the guys want to be even though he is rather douchey? That’s Richard. Jackson, on the other hand, was the best friend who really seemed to understand Sarah and her needs. However, he had a slightly mysterious edge to him that made him more lovable, in my opinion. The best part was that both guys seemed to have their own agenda and as the story progressed, their motives are revealed and emotions become conflicted. I won’t say that it was a slow burn romance between any of the characters, because it is a lot more intricate than that. However, I will tell you that as the story progresses, the romance unfolds slowly and sneakily, and when it finally comes full circle I was left with my emotions spilling over a tiny bit. The best part about Amber House is that though the romance plays a great part in the story, it isn’t the central storyline. Family takes precedence and things play out how they must as important decisions are made.

My main gripe with this novel was that upon finishing it I was enraged and confused because it ended on a note that left so many questions unanswered. I was seriously underprepared for the epilogue and I felt led astray. However, I resorted to Google and after serious searching, I found that Amber House is in fact, part of a trilogy. I breathed a sigh of relief. Bad feelings gone, all is well, and so on. Now my only issue is my impatience in waiting for its sequel! 

I found this novel while I was spending time browsing through Netgalley and after reading the blurb (and how gorgeous is this cover?!) I decided to give it a try. Admittedly, I wish I had waited a month or so to read it because it is a perfect read for autumn weather but nonetheless it is a book that has stuck with me months after reading the last page. Amber House is a gothic tale stirring up feelings reminiscent of Bronte’s windy moors and King’s room 237. It is a novel that kept me up way past my bedtime and had me falling asleep with the lights on. For those of you looking for a good “autumn read,” I highly suggest you pick up Amber House. It contains all of the amazing horror elements to keep you looking over your shoulder while also molding in intricate relationships and a deliciously vibrant plot.


Review: Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

Title: Carnival of Souls

Author: Melissa Marr

Publishing Information: September 4, 2012 by HarperCollins

Genre: Young-Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal

Series information: Book 1 in a planned series

Format: Paperback,

Source: ARC from the publisher (BEA 2012)

Recommended For: Lovers of dark and paranormal fantasy


In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures–if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live. (Via Goodreads)

I am always up for a dark tale, and thus far, Melissa Marr has excelled at delivering them. Carnival of Souls was my second book by Melissa Marr and the epic world building, intricate characters and weaving storylines that I loved in Graveminder, were also evident in Carnival of Souls.

Carnival of Souls is unique in the way it is told in three different points of view, from Mallory, Kaleb and Ava…

Mallory is anything but normal; her life isn’t too stable as she is constantly moving from town to town with her adoptive father, Adam. Adam is a witch and is on the run from the daimons because he stole something from them long ago, and their leader would do almost anything to obtain what has been lost to him. It is the constant vigilance of Adam and Mallory that has kept them alive and safe for so many years. Mallory obeys her father’s wishes and doesn’t get too close to anyone, knowing that she won’t be able to spend much time around them anyway. However, things change quickly for Mallory when she meets Kaleb. She is instantly drawn to him and finds him intriguing in a way that she has never felt before. However, she does her best to resist getting to know him because she believes him to be human and knows she can’t risk him by drawing him into her chaotic life.

The Carnival of Souls takes place in The City and occurs once in every generation. It consists of fights to the death between daimons, and the prize is a raise in the caste, and a chance to join the ruling class.

Kaleb is not at all what he seems to Mallory, he is a lower caste daimon and is one who wears a black mask. The black mask sets him apart and showcases his skills as a fighter and a killer. It are these skills that lead him to be hired to find Mallory for an upper caste daimon. It comes as a surprise to Kaleb when he is drawn to Mallory in a way that he had never imagined, she immediately becomes “pack” to him, and you die to protect those in your pack.

Ava is also a daimon in The City. Though unlike Kaleb, she is part of the upper class. Ava chooses to compete in The Carnival of Souls for a different reason than to raise her status. Instead, she fights to win her freedom – the freedom to choose her own future. Female daimons in the upper caste are forced to marry and breed, and Ava would rather die.

At first the relationship between Mallory and Kaleb seemed to lean toward the insta-love we find in many paranormal romances. However, Marr made me believe in it in a way I have been unable to in the past. The moment Kaleb described Mallory as pack was the moment I believed fully in their relationship and began to become invested in their reliance on one another as a couple. I also became very interested in Mallory’s growth through the novel, Adam keeps many secrets from her and though she is physically stronger than most females her age, she begins as a very naïve character. She grew fabulously throughout the novel, and by the last paragraph I was metaphorically giving her a high five. I enjoyed the vastly different emotions I felt toward both Mallory and Ava, where Mallory had to grow on me, I loved the strength behind Ava and her utter devotion to fight for herself. I felt angst and sorrow over her decisions because she had no choice but to fight for herself.

“They were pack. She was meant to be in his life, and now that he knew it, there was nothing he wouldn’t do for her.”

Melissa Marr again delivered a world that I cannot stop thinking about; I loved the darkness and the blurred lines between good and evil. The caste system, the masks, and their representation throughout The City provided amazing imagery that I had no trouble picturing in my mind.

Carnival of Souls was fantastic and delightfully dark. I felt a deep connection to each of the characters and thought the relationships to be intricate and overly exciting. The plot of this novel is fast paced and I devoured it, desperately needing to find out what was going to happen next. I am eagerly anticipating book two in this series, I can’t wait to see who will excel in fighting for what they believe in.

Extra: I was lucky enough to meet Melissa Marr at BEA – and not to brag, but she totally hugged me – and she was so incredibly nice and just..well…awesome! She also signed my book (with what I think is the best signature ever):

Thank you so much for the ARC, Melissa (and HarperCollins), I doubt I was able to express my gratitude and love for this novel in this short post. In a nutshell: you rock!


Review: Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

Title: Shadowfell

Author: Juliet Marillier

Publishing Information: September 11, 2012 by Random House

Genre: young adult, fantasy, romance

Series information: Book one in a planned series

Format: Nook edition, 416 pages

Source: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

Recommended For: Fans of myths, legends, lore and those looking for a deeper and darker young adult novel filled with adventure and romance.

Its name is spoken only in whispers, if the people of Alban dare to speak it at all: Shadowfell. The training ground for rebels seeking to free their land from the grip of the tyrannical king is so shrouded in mystery that most believe it to be a myth.

But for Neryn, Shadowfell’s existence is her only hope. She is penniless, orphaned, and utterly alone – and concealing a treacherous magical power that will warrant her immediate enslavement should it be revealed. She finds hope of allies in the Good Folk, fey beings whom she must pretend she cannot see and who taunt her with chatter of prophecies and tests, and in a striking, mysterious stranger, who saves her from certain death but whose motives remain unclear. She knows she should not trust anyone with her plans, but something within her longs to confide in him.

Will Neryn be forced to make the dangerous journey alone? She must reach Shadowfell, not only to avenge her family and salvage her own life, but to rescue Alban itself. (From Goodreads)

So I have been one of those gals who has refused to name a favorite author for as long as I can remember. However I finally realized that I’m not really fooling anybody and that it’s blatantly obvious to anyone who even casually mentions Juliet Marillier in my presence that I am just head over heels in love with this author and her work. This was a scary thing for me to realize because as I was reading Shadowfell I was holding it to a ridiculously high standard, which means there was a pretty long way to fall if this book didn’t meet my expectations. Fear not my friends, as I began reading I was reacquainted with the familiar feelings I have grown to love. I fell right into the story as easily as one snuggles under their favorite blanket and was left needing more as the story concluded.

The characters are quite loveable, Neryn is younger than most of Marillier’s heroines and she is significantly different than those we have met before. Instead of leaving the comfort she knows to set out on a journey like many of Marillier’s past heroines, the story begins with her at rock bottom. She is left with nothing. No family, no home and only an inkling of where to go next. She was written in a much more naïve voice than I was used to and it really reflected the difference between the young adult and adult novels by this author. I appreciated the fact that this character didn’t seem too “old” and that the reader was able to watch her grow as the story progressed. I loved Flint (no surprise there) and I love the extreme duality of his life and both the angst and honor that made up his character. I am hoping that the secondary characters become more fleshed out in book two (and I’m sure they will) because the glimpses we have been given are extraordinary!

“You don’t like it that I am the one you need to keep the wolf from the door; that comes as no surprise. But I am the one you have. At some point we’ll both have to risk telling the truth.” 

I’ve reviewed a few Juliet Marillier novels while working on this blog and it always boggles my mind how the author manages to make me feel comforted with her words yet also blown away at the different worlds and characters. Like Wildwood Dancing and Heart’s Blood, this novel was reminiscent of the world of Sevenwaters, yet at the same time it was profoundly different and glorious in its own way. The biggest difference found between Shadowfell and her previous novels is the fact that all of Juliet’s other “series” are made up of companion novels and not sequels. Shadowfell is different. I turned the last page and was met with a blank canvas, an ellipsis, if you will. This left me feeling an entire new range of feelings over the story. Never has Juliet left me wondering just where those characters were going and more importantly, what would happen to their love!! Marillier has a knack for slow burn romances but this one was left hanging just as the reached it’s peak! I wanted more, I needed more and I was left with my mouth dangling open in a “Touché, Ms. Marillier” moment.

It’s a new world Marillier brings to life in Shadowfell, we are taken away from the lush green that we readers are used to while in her world. One of the things I loved it the introduction of  new “Other” characters. I immensely enjoy reading about these characters and I really appreciated the way that this book represented a different type than I had read of before. I was impressed by the intricate storyline and constantly found myself wondering what was going to happen to these characters in a way that excited to me to no end.

Though this story was reminiscent of Marillier’s other pieces of literature, it was not my favorite, and I believe this is because I found that my heart wasn’t breaking and mending as much as when I read her adult novels. This is in no way a negative aspect of the novel, it was merely a different journey than what I was used to from this author. This novel is a story of hope and desire on many levels. It showcases the journey one must make to become the person they are meant to be and it was a beautiful beginning to another trilogy that I am sure to love.