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!!

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: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Title: Tiger Lily

Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson

Publishing Information: July 3, 2012 by Harper Collin’s Childrens

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Romance, Retellings

Series information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 292 pages

Source: Borrowed from my local library

Recommended For: Fans of strong heroines, Peter Pan and fairy tales

“Let me tell you something straight off. This is a love story, but not like any you’ve heard. The boy and girl are far from innocent. Dear lives are lost. And good doesn’t win. In some places, there is something ultimately good about endings. In Neverland, that is not the case…”

I have never been a huge fan of Peter Pan. I like the premise and sure, Hook is one of my favorite movies of all time but there were always pieces missing for me in the story. A few weeks ago I even listed Peter Pan as one of the characters I’d like to switch places with so that I could learn more about what’s going on inside his head. This might be why Tiger Lily called to me, though it also might be the fact that I never could stand Wendy and really longed to hear more about Peter before she came in and babied him. Thankfully, Tiger Lily was exactly what I needed in regards to Pan’s story. I have actually been struggling with this review because I found the book to be so brilliant that I haven’t been able to put into words how wonderful it truly is.

First, the characters: Tiger Lily is told not from her point of view, but from Tinker Bell’s. Tink (so named by Peter) does not belong to Peter; she is actually enamored by Tiger Lily and has watched Tiger Lily grow since she was just a baby. As Tiger Lily and Tink spend time with Peter, Tink does develop love for him as well but ultimately her loyalty lies with Tiger Lily and she does all she can to keep her safe from harm. One lovely thing about Tink is that as a faerie, she is able to “hear” people’s feelings. She can read their minds to some extent but more specifically she is able to hear their hearts and therefore understand their true feelings for situations. Tink describes this, “As a faerie, you can hear when something tugs at someone. It’s much like the sound of a low, deep note on a violin string.”

Tiger Lily is strong, daring and at times, heartless. The village shaman, Tik Tok, found her abandoned under a flower from which she gets her name. Tiger Lily is different from all members of the village. When the village girls scream and run from something they deem dangerous, Tiger Lily grabs her hatchet and runs toward the danger. She is quiet and contemplative and does not give herself completely to anyone, until she meets Peter.

Peter is a complicated character. He is brave on the exterior yet cries at night from his utter fear of the pirates and letting the lost boys down. He falls in love easily and acts before thinking in many circumstances. It is his openness, courage and devotion that Tiger Lily falls in love with.

The secondary characters were also written wonderfully. Tik Tok was rather unique as Jodi Lynn Anderson wrote him in a way that blurs the lines we are used to seeing. Tik Tok is a man, who dresses and acts like a woman. He is completely devoted to his craft and loves Tiger Lily as if she was his real daughter. Aunt Fire and her son, Giant were both grotesque characters and were written in a way that really made me loathe them as much as Tiger Lily did. Both Pine Sap and Moon Eye were lovely contrasts to Tiger Lily and I appreciated the way that they represented her connection to her village and a sort of grounding as she was falling for Peter more and more. To be honest, I sort of had a serious crush on Pine Sap from the beginning. He was the character who understood Tiger Lily like no one else, the perfect best friend.

Though the pirates played a significant part in the plot they weren’t really “on stage” that much but it was interesting to see Captain Hook portrayed as an aging drunkard and Smee as a rather sinister murderer.  Like the pirates, Wendy of course had a strong impact on the conclusion of the story. However, she was not a major character throughout the novel and I am glad of it. I did not love her, but I don’t believe we were meant to. She was childish and silly and was a wonderful presentation of everything Tiger Lily was lacking in her character. The duality was as vivid as day and night.

“Watch that boy,” she said. “You’re stronger in many ways, but that doesn’t mean he can’t take you apart.”

The Setting: Gorgeous and vivid, Jodi Lynn Anderson portrayed that forest as lush as I had imagined. The “cave” in which the lost boys lived was dank and was so described that I really felt as if I could smell the earth surrounding them. I found myself cringing away from the lagoon in my mind, wary of the carnivorous mermaids and longing to stand with Tiger Lily and Peter at the top of the mountain, looking out at the wild horses. There was one scene that really stuck out for me, in which Peter had the lost boys bring out their bedding and light the trees with candles. He told Tiger Lily they were sleeping in the trees because he thought she would enjoy it and I felt myself become giddy with excitement. Imagine how gorgeous it must have been and how amazing it would have felt to sleep in the trees by candlelight. Gorgeous all around.

The Story: Honestly I still don’t know how to write this. From page one I was taken by Tiger Lily and they way she was vastly different from those around her. I fell for Peter as she did, little by little she gave into him and let him into her heart. Through Tink’s eyes I was able to see how she couldn’t quite give enough and wasn’t exactly what Peter needed. There were times I was so frustrated with her and just wanted her to be what he needed her to be even though I knew it wasn’t her, I knew she didn’t know how to give in without giving up herself. I loved how the author looked at different forms of jealousy through different characters and she showed each characters vast strengths and weaknesses. As a reader, it made me invest even deeper into the story. I’ll be honest, the ending was so heartbreaking yet beautiful at the same time that I read it over and over. I felt my heart break and mend almost simultaneously. It was phenomenal.

The story was riveting. It was heartbreaking, tender, harrowing, compelling, breathtaking and all around gorgeous. I recommend it to fans of strong heroines such as Scarlet, fans of Peter Pan and readers looking for a fantasy novel that will make them feel an array of emotions.

“If there was a true moment that Tiger Lily fell so in love with Peter she could never turn back, it was that night, when he shivered and walked and told her he was warm, and told her he loved her so much. She was fierce, to be sure, but she had a girl’s heart, after all.”

Recommend A…(7)

“Recommend A…” is a weekly meme, posted every Monday, hosted over on Chick Loves Lit. It’s a quick, fun and unique way to recommend a book that you love!

Recommend A…Book You Read This Year!! 

My choice this week is Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey

I loved the plot twists and the introduction of the fae into the already dragon ridden world that Tess lives in. It was interesting to see how strong Tess was when she was given everything she thought she wanted and how she weighed it against what it would cost her. I also adored the love story of this novel. It was not instantaneous which always makes me very happy but it was gradual and heartbreaking and strong and most importantly, it was believable. I wanted more from this love, though the author provided just enough to make it beautiful and lasting in my mind.


Review: Faery Tales & Nightmares by Melissa Marr

Title: Faery Tales & Nightmares

Author: Melissa Marr

Publishing Information:  February 2nd 2012 by Harper Collins Children’s Books

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Short Stories, Paranormal

Series information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 418 pages

Source: Borrowed from my local library

Recommended For: Fans of Melissa Marr and readers looking or vibrant and dark short stories

Dangerous promises and beguiling threats swirl together in a dozen stories of enchantments dark and light by New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr. Uncanny and unexpected creatures appear from behind bushes, rise from beneath the seas, or manifest from seasonal storms to pursue the objects of their attention—with amorous or sinister intent—relentlessly.

I did not read the Wicked Lovely stories in this novel, I have never read the Wicked Lovely series so I didn’t want to ruin anything for myself!

“Where Nightmares Walk,” “Winter’s Kiss” and “Transition” were all beautiful stories. I was especially interested in “Winter’s Kiss” and found it to be truly fairy tale-esque with very sweet details. I thought Marr did a nice job with her vampire story, “Transition,” vampires with attitude have a special place in my heart, especially snarky female ones!

The story “Love Struck” is where I fell in love with Marr’s writing. Though I have been reading some mermaid books lately I was so interested in the way Marr twisted the traditional selchie tale into something different. I found myself wanting more and wishing that it was a full length novel and not just a short glimpse into the selchie world.

I also wanted more from “The Art of Waiting” and the messages of this and “Flesh for Comfort” were not lost on me. Both of these stories read like fairy tales but were also somewhat dark and twisted in a way that I really enjoyed.

Finally, “The Sleeping Girl and The Summer King” was the last story I read and I absolutely loved it. The descriptions of the winter world in contrast with the summer land were vibrant and gorgeous in my mind. This story has been described as a sort of sequel for Marr’s Wicked Lovely series and I can assure you that after reading this short story I will definitley be picking up the series very soon.

The only book by Melissa Marr that I had read before this novel was Graveminder (which I loved) but it is not really a “fairy tale” and therefore I was wary that I was missing something by not reading her Wicked Lovely series. Reading this short story really made me understand how Marr weaves different elements into her story, she sets up a vibrant setting that really draws the reader in and makes you long for more.