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.

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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.

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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.

On the Same Page: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

Title: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

Author: Lish McBride

Publishing Information:  October 12th 2010 by Henry Holt and Company

Genre: Fantasy, paranormal, humor, horror, supernatural, magic

Series Information: First in the Necromancer series

Format: Hardcover, 343 pages

Source: Was gifted a copy

Recommended For: Fans of the humorous side of horror and those who value friendships over loveships.

Related Posts: Check out Amy’s post on readalikes and Brittany’s review!

I loved Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. Love it. It was full of heart, humor, and well, necromancy. What more could a gal ask for? I loved this book so much that I immediately started to read it’s sequel and friends, I just cannot get enough of Sam and his crew. The friendships in this novel were excellent, the loyalties among these friends is definitely something to be envious of. My favorite part of Hold Me Closer, Necromancer was definitely the way in which it made me laugh. Sam’s personality is extremely lovable in his perfect use of wit and sarcasm. He is definitely a guy that I would was as my best friend. To better understand what I am talking about, I thought I would showcase some of the hilarious quotes found throughout the novel. Check them out, and check out Amy and Britt’s post and let us know what you think! Have you read Hold Me Closer, Necromancer? If not, have we convinced you that you should give it a go? 

jedi of hot chocolate

“Despite her obvious stress, my mom still managed to pour the hot chocolate into mugs, cover them with whipped cream and a pinch of cayenne, and add a cinnamon stick to them. She was like the Jedi master of hot chocolate.”

in peace

“Can you just tell them we don’t need Jesus, Girl Scout cookies, or whatever the Mormons worship, and let me lie here in peace?”

mustang

“Mrs. Winalski owned a candy-apple-red 1965 Mustang GT convertible, and she drove it like she could die at any minute and needed to get five things done before that happened.”

no no cha cha

“So you’re the guy who did the no-no cha-cha with my baby sister.”

Fortnight of Fright: Not As Creepy Halloween Recommendations by Lauren

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Today we have my dear friend Lauren helping you all out with some not so creepy Halloween recommendations!! Though Halloween is indeed my favorite since I love being scared (and the Halloween decor is the type that I keep up all year round) I still know that a lot of you don’t love the whole horror vibe! So I am going to let Lauren take it away and help you guys out with some things to read, watch, and eat!!

I have to say, I think it’s kind of funny that I ended up here on Alyssa’s blog, with my post full of non-creepy Halloween things. Alyssa is probably the first person I think of when I think of scary things, skulls, and anything else along those lines (that I tend to avoid). Regardless, I’m happy to be here on her blog because Alyssa is one of my favorite people even though she’s like the Lucille Bluth-iest.

SO today, I’m here to share some Halloween fun from a person who usually doesn’t get into the scary, horror-filled books or movies of the season. I love fall more than most people (my birthday and football and pumpkin things!), but just… not the scary stuff. My mom is the complete opposite so it’s kind of weird that I turned out this way. Regardless, here are my picks for how to enjoy the Halloween vibes of October without getting scared.

title

I’m not opposed to being scared every once in a while, but horror or mystery books are usually not the first ones I reach for. Fall is a great time for getting a little creeped out by what you’re reading… but I usually prefer not to be looking over my shoulder thinking there’s a ghost. (Reading in the dark apartment while my boyfriend is asleep makes me too nervous sometimes.) I’ve curated a list of books that are FAIRLY creepy or have a cool mystery/thriller vibe to them, but probably won’t cause you to be afraid of the dark. I also included a TBR of some of the books I hope to read this season. In addition to all of the Halloween-y books, I included some movies and recipes to get you in the spirit!

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Fortnight of Fright: Daughters Unto Devils Review & Cupcake Recipe by Becky of Stories and Sweeties

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Readers, you are the luckiest today! SUPER excited today to have Becky from Stories and Sweeties join me today because not only is she reviewing a book that I have been dying to read, but she is giving us an AMAZING cupcake recipe. Take it away, friend!

Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Release date: September 29th, 2015

Intended audience: Young adult

Stand-alone

Source: from publisher for honest review

Rating: 4

Review: Daughters unto Devils is all the things I want for a perfect Halloween read.  Incredibly eerie atmosphere, a classic horror movie feel to it, a touch of gore, and plenty of spine-chilling scenes that make you hesitant to turn out the light at night—it’s all here.

Amanda Verner makes for a great unreliable narrator. The Verner family lives on a mountain side and their isolated family dynamic and extreme piety makes them feel like a bizarre and twisted Little House on the Prairie. They were trapped in their house during a bad winter, clinging to their lives and their sanity, while the flu-stricken mother gives birth to a deaf and blind baby.  Something happened to Amanda that winter, and it’s unclear if the isolation got to her head or if she truly saw something in the woods. Her bewildered family questions her goodness and her sanity nearly as much as she does herself. After a secret affair with a boy from town leaves her with child, she finds herself lost and at odds with her only ally, her sister Emma.

At the threat of another bad winters, the family fleas to the plains—and that’s where the creepy really sets in. Terrifying things start happening, you get a few of those classic horror moments where you find yourself yelling at the characters, “No! Why would you do that?!” The haunting past of the plains and their new house takes its toll on the whole family until things spin out of control and culminate in a wildly gut-churning end.

There are definitely no shortage of disturbing scenes in Daughters Unto Devilsnot for the faint-hearted, but absolutely perfect for readers looking for a truly horrifying Halloween read.

Devilishly Sweet Cupcakes

I’ve come up with a Halloween treat to perfectly accompany you while you dive into Daughters Unto Devils!  Rich devil’s food cake, fluffy cream cheese frosting, and a bloody good surprise inside! 😉

FoFpost-bvosburg-cupcakes

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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.”

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Fortnight of Fright: “Beyond the Wall” by Danielle E. Shipley

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As of October 10th my latest project with Xchyler Publishing has launched: “Beyond the Wail: 12 Grave Tales of Love and Loss”. My short story, “Date Due”, has the honored grand finale spot at book’s end. In brief summary:

For an eccentric bibliophile, any and every book is magic. Even more so when the book’s home is a hidden library with an impossible secret: Every story on its shelves has yet to be written. And the library’s self-appointed guardian means to ensure they never are, no matter whether the future authors elect to do things the easy way … or the fatal one.

You read that aright – a library full of books unwritten! Say… I’ll bet that means even “Beyond the Wail” will have sat upon one of its shelves, once upon a time. What would its librarian have made of the anthology, I wonder?…

BEYOND-THE-WAIL-front-web

All right, my lovelies. Which new friend should I meet today? Someone from right here in the Red Fireplace Room, I think. I’m feeling a bit tired to go roaming through our Library’s unexplored spaces; I just want a nice new read today.

Hmm, what have we on this shelf? Beyond the Wail: 12 Grave Tales of Love and Loss. A paranormal anthology? Perfect! Let’s see what chills and thrills are in store.

Of Mice and Monsters by Tirzah Duncan. “There is a man who twists the necks of caged mice…” Oh, Benjamin, what a beastly creature you are. A fine conversationalist, though, I must give you that. But that phantom wind will do for you if Tina comes to harm – any harm that she’s not already inflicting on herself, the poor, sick thing. Some lovely writing, here. Passionate. Unflinching. Continue reading