Review: Night of Cake & Puppets and Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor

Title: Night of Cake & Puppets

Author: Laini Taylor

Publishing Information: November 26th 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Series Information: novella 2.5 in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy

Format: ebook, 89 pages

Source: Purchased for my personal library

Recommended For: Readers looking for a deeper look into Zuzana and Mik’s relationship as well as the closeness between Zuzana and Karou in Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Related Reviews: Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone 1), Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone 2)

In lieu of a traditional review, I am going to write a mini review for Night of Cake & Puppets and Dreams of Gods & Monsters because at this point I almost think it is silly to go in depth about the conclusion to a well known series. Bottom line is, if you haven’t read this series yet – get on it. Immediately.

“I want to do mysterious and improbable things alongside a fierce and beautiful girl who looks like a doll brought to life by a sorcerer.”

Continue reading

Review: Cruel Beauty of Rosamund Hodge

Title: Cruel Beauty

Author: Rosamund Hodge

Publishing Information: January 28, 2014, by Balzer & Bray

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

Series Information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 346 pages

Source: Obtained an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss

Recommended For: Fans of vibrant fantasy novels with strong heroines, tall, dark and handsome male leads, and beautiful imagery

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him. But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

What a synopsis, am I right?  One thing I have to add is that there really should be some mention of Mythology in the synopsis for this book. The first part of the book is so completely wrapped in Mythology that I was wracking my brain trying to figure out how all of the gods fit together in this world. Then it tapers off a little bit, not in a bad way, but enough that this really could have been a retelling of Cupid and Psyche, it even has Hades and Persephone elements, and it definitely directly circled around Pandora. That isn’t to say that there aren’t elements from fairytales, Cruel Beauty also had some strong emphasis on Beauty and the Beast and Bluebeard. This might seem like an array of randomness thrown together but I promise that it all falls together nicely. Continue reading

Review: Krampus by Brom

Title: Krampus

Author: Brom

Publishing Information: October 30, 2012 by Harper Voyager

Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Horror, Mythology

Series information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 357 pages

Source: Bought for my personal library

Recommended For: Fans of dark fantasies, mythologies of all kinds, and the other side of Christmas.

One Christmas Eve in a small hollow in Boone County, West Virginia, struggling songwriter Jesse Walker witnesses a strange spectacle: seven devilish figures chasing a man in a red suit toward a sleigh and eight reindeer. When the reindeer leap skyward, taking the sleigh, devil men, and Santa into the clouds, screams follow. Moments later, a large sack plummets back to earth, a magical sack that thrusts the down-on-his-luck singer into the clutches of the terrifying Yule Lord, Krampus. But the lines between good and evil become blurred as Jesse’s new master reveals many dark secrets about the cherry-cheeked Santa Claus, including how half a millennium ago the jolly old saint imprisoned Krampus and usurped his magic.

Now Santa’s time is running short, for the Yule Lord is determined to have his retribution and reclaim Yuletide. If Jesse can survive this ancient feud, he might have the chance to redeem himself in his family’s eyes, to save his own broken dreams, and to help bring the magic of Yule to the impoverished folk of Boone County.

You might remember that a while back, I read and LOVED The Child Thief, a retelling of Peter Pan, written by Brom. Despite my love of the author/artist, it somehow passed by me that he was writing a story about my favorite Christmas demon, Krampus. I was walking through Barnes & Noble last year and saw the cover and HAD to have it, I read it over two days while snowed in from a terrible storm, and it was an absolutely perfect experience.

One of the most interesting aspects of this novel is the way in which Brom blends the line between traditional fantasy elements, and contemporary issues. Small town problems such as drug addiction and trailer park romances meld together with Norse lore and Yuletide demons. In this sense, there is darkness in the character of Krampus, he is, after all, seeking to murder Santa Clause and take back his right as the reason for the season. Beyond that, Brom explores the darkness of humanity, there are many twisted characters who partake in abuse, addiction, and torture, but there is hope throughout as well.

One of my favorite thing in literature is when an author writes multilayered characters. Characters who are neither good nor evil, but fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, and that was completely Krampus for me. Looking at the cover of the novel you expect this character of the “Christmas demon” to be a completely evil and harsh in the light of something as lovely as Christmas, but he wasn’t. Instead, I found Krampus to be understanding and just, I really do think that he believed he was right in his claims.

“Your dreams are your spirit, your soul and without them your are dead. You must guard your dreams always. Always. Lest someone steal them away from you. I know what it is to have your dreams stolen. I know what it is to be dead. Guard your dreams. Always guard your dreams.”

It wasn’t just the story and illustrations that spoke to me, some small details of this novel were reminiscent of my childhood which made me really fall deeper into the novel. For example, Jesse tells Isabel that he is going “snipe hunting,” and the inclusion of the Shawnee characters, who are part of my ancestry really spoke to me. At one point, Krampus teaches some girls that they should honor him by leaving their shoes outside with a treat or trinket inside them as tribute. My family is from Germany, and my grandmother raised us to leave our shoes out with something such as a coin, or piece of fruit for Krampus, when he comes with Saint Nicholas. We did this every year and were always please to find that Krampus left us gifts of our own. In our household, we held Krampus as high as we held Santa, which was in the front of my mind as I read the novel and the stark differences between the two characters.

Brom writes a beautiful novel, he really has a way with words, and the illustrations are breathtaking and one of a kind. Upon finishing, I was positively giddy over the perfection that is Krampus. For personal reasons this book spoke to me on a different level, and as always, Brom succeeds in simultaneously breaking and melting my heat. For readers looking for a dark and harrowing story on the origins of Santa Clause, differences between Christmas and Yuletide, or a vivid novel steeped in Norse mythology, this novel is highly recommended.

Review: Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

of poseidonTitle: Of Poseidon

Author: Anna Banks

Publishing Information: May 22, 2012 by Feiwel & Friends

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

Series information: Book 1 in the Of Poseidon series

Format: Hardcover, 336 pages

Source: Borrowed from my local library

Recommended For: Those looking for a new mermaid tale with a mix of mythology

Galen is the prince of the Syrena, sent to land to find a girl he’s heard can communicate with fish. Emma is on vacation at the beach. When she runs into Galen — literally, ouch! — both teens sense a connection. But it will take several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, for Galen to be convinced of Emma’s gifts. Now, if he can only convince Emma that she holds the key to his kingdom . . (Via Goodreads)

I’ll be honest I was wary. I was wary to begin yet another mermaid story and prepared myself to again be vastly underwhelmed and outright frustrated at the lack of depth (see what I did there) and intrigue. Thankfully, Of Poseidon was different from any other mermaid novel I have ever read. Where others fell short, Of Poseidon delivered.

I had strong feelings toward the characters of this novel. At first I really didn’t enjoy Emma, she annoyed me, and I physically cringed every time she said “ohmysweetgoodness,” but overall I really enjoyed how she grew as a character. I felt the same way about Galen as I did about Emma, annoyed. I had a hard time falling for him and really found him to be arrogant. However, once the relationship between Emma and Galen developed, I found myself falling for Galen as if we had our own mystical ties! I did not enjoy Emma and Galen’s relationship at first. Like Noah and Mara in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer I found it really grating how Emma focused so much on her dislike for Galen and then in a moment she would be hoping to kiss him. Also? At one point he is described as having “serial killer eyes,” ummm…come again? It was descriptions like that throughout the novel that brought me to a halting stop while reading. I adored Toraf and Rayna, though I was conflicted by their relationship and can completely understand why some readers loathed how it progressed. In the end, I really enjoyed their relationship and found them to be a very sweet and honest couple. To be honest, I think I may like Toraf even more than Galen!

As many have commented on before, the changing point of view throughout the novel really bothered me. This is something that doesn’t usually affect me and I usually have no problem switching my brain back and forth between multiple points of view or picking up on who the current narrator is. This time, however, the narrators changed from first person to third person and it took me a few seconds to fall back into the story as the chapters changed.

It was the plot of Of Poseidon that I really fell in love with, the mermaid lore was exquisitely written and I was really impressed by the way Anna Banks wrote the struggle between the houses Of Poseidon and Triton. The lore surrounding these houses was so interesting that I found myself wishing for more background information about the whole culture. I was fascinated in the way Banks provided in depth details about the characters of both houses and how she made it apparent that their struggle was both on a political and personal level. Additionally, there aren’t many books that catch me by surprise nowadays and this one ended on a pretty unbelievable cliffhanger. I had that moment of wanting to throw the book against the wall because though I had an inkling, the ending was so unfathomable that it still took me by surprise. Well done, Anna Banks, thank you for providing me with a book that gave me a new hope for mermaid books everywhere. I am anxiously awaiting Of Triton, summer of 2013. EEP!


Review: Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter

Title: Goddess Interrupted

Author: Aimee Carter

Publishing Information: March 27, 2012 by Harlequin Teen

Genre: Young Adult, Mythology, Romance

Series information: Book 2 in the Goddess Test series

Format: Hardcover, 304 pages

Source: Received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

Recommended For: Fans of Greek Mythology and their retellings.

Kate Winters has won immortality.

But if she wants a life in the Underworld with Henry, she’ll have to fight for it.

Becoming immortal wasn’t supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she’s as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he’s becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate’s coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans.

As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future.

Henry’s first wife, Persephone.


It has been six months since Kate passed the tests to become Henry’s wife and the queen of The Underworld. It has also been six months since she has seen Henry, six months that she has spent exploring the world with her best friend James. Kate can’t wait to get home and see Henry, unfortunately he isn’t as excited to see her and he barely acknowledges her presence. Kate brushes this aside and decides to go forward with her induction ceremony but right as she is about to be crowned, Cronus, the “father” to the six most powerful Gods begins to break free of his prison and he attacks the group of Gods gathered for the ceremony. It comes to light that Calliope is behind this attack and she is doing everything she can to free Cronus to take revenge on Kate and Henry. Cronus captures Henry, Walter and Philip and Kate decides she has no other choice but to go after them. James and Ava accompany her and they soon realize that they need some serious help from the only other person besides Henry who knows all the secrets of The Underworld, his first wife Persephone.

At first I was a little annoyed over Persephone’s characteristics but overall I really liked her personality and the way she bantered back and forth with Ava. She is a really forward character and knows exactly what she wants. I have to say that for the most part I liked her significantly more than Kate. A lot of the story was focused on Kate struggling with her emotions toward Henry, She knew she loved him but one moment she was leaving because she didn’t think he loved her and the next she was 100% sure that he did. Not to mention the fact that she felt completely inferior to Persephone in relation to every aspect of her life. I felt like she was so stuck on comparing herself to her sister that she couldn’t appreciate her gifts and her strengths as much as she did in the first book. Then there was Henry, I wanted to punch him in the face a few times, especially when SPOILER ALERT Persephone goes to him in his “secret” hideout and they have a LONG reunion in which they keep kissing!!! I understand that Persephone was apparently trying to prove to him that he didn’t love her but are you kidding? They just kept going and going and I had a really hard time liking Henry after that. It just felt like he was settling for Kate because she was devoted to Henry and Persephone was not. END SPOILER I think by the end I was just tired of the back and forth in Kate’s mind and I just wanted some hint of love or emotion from Henry.

I know it seems like I was not satisfied with this book but I really was. It was adventurous and heartfelt and it made me want more. I was SO happy with the ending. The first book ended in a total meh way and that’s what I had expected from this novel as well. Thankfully I was surprised and it was a total I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING moment that really has me anticipating the next book. Despite my frustrations over certain parts of this book it was very entertaining and I recommend it to those liking books filled with conflict, emotion and Greek myths with a twist.

Review: The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

 Title: The Godess Test

Author: Aimee Carter

Publishing Information: April 19, 2011 by Harlequin Teen

Genre: Young Adult, Mythology, Romance

Series information: Book 1 in The Goddess Test Series

Format: Hardcover, 293 pages

Source: Received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

Recommended For: Readers interested in Greek Mythology and strong heroines.

It’s always been just Kate and her mom–and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate’s going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won’t live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld–and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he’s crazy–until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride, and a goddess.

The Goddess Test is a modern day retelling of the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone. Kate’s mother is dying and her last wish is that she and Kate move to her hometown of Eden. Kate agrees and they move to Eden, Kate starts at the local high school and soon crosses the path of the queen bee, Ava. Ava lures Kate to the grounds of Eden Manor under false pretenses and a practical joke soon turns deadly. Kate tries to save Ava’s life to no avail, and then the mysterious Henry appears and offers to bring Ava back to life in exchange for a promise from Kate. Kate must promise to spend the winter with Henry in The Underworld, much like Persephone. Kate hurriedly agrees thinking she must be going crazy and Henry brings Ava back to life.

Henry soon comes for Kate to bring her to the Underworld and Kate says that she will do as she promised if he promises to keep her mother alive for the season. Henry agrees and says that Kate must pass seven tests while in his realm. If she passes, she will become a goddess, Henry’s bride and the queen of The Underworld. However, if she fails, her mother will die and she will never see her again.

I liked the premise of The Goddess Test, I love re-writes and the Hades/Persephone story is one of my favorite myths. The characters in The Goddess Test were also very fun and layered. Henry is the typical brooding male with this outer shell that seems impenetrable. Thankfully Kate is able to break through and bring out some heartfelt emotional moments from him. Ava transforms into an agreeable character and Calliope was really a very enjoyable character once you get over the crazy. James is loveable but I couldn’t help but be reminded of the whole Jacob/Bella/Edward triangle and it was not very enticing for me.

The tests Kate must endure are all extremely subtle, I kept waiting for a sense chaos and adventure but it did not come. When the tests were revealed in the end I understood how they fit in to the story and how they really showcased Kate’s strengths and weaknesses but I was still somewhat disappointed in the lack of excitement. However, I really enjoyed the ending and how it gave focus on Kate and her mother’s relationship. I was impressed by how her love for her mother wasn’t overshadowed by her new “love” for Henry.

I do have a few major complaints after reading this book. First, I felt like the whole book focused on Kate having a “choice” and not being “forced” into doing anything but really she didn’t have much of a choice at all. She wanted her mother to live and knew that Henry would die if she didn’t pass the tests. She was convinced that she loved him after spending only a few moments with him but even if that wasn’t the case she knew him enough that she didn’t want any harm to come to him. It would take a very selfish person to decide to save themselves and not do all they can to save those around them. I also had a very hard time appreciating the way in which the author set the characters up in relation to their Greek counterparts. The author provides a list at the end explaining whom each character in the book represents in Greek mythology and with the exception of 3 of them I really couldn’t understand the connection. However I am happy to say that I read the sequel, Goddess Interrupted and not only was it much more adventurous, it explained the characters much better and I was able to appreciate how their characteristics coincided with their Greek personalities. I recommend this book to anyone who likes Greek mythology, re-writes and strong female characters.

I will be reviewing the sequel, Goddess Interrupted this weekend so make sure to stop by!