Review of Hunted by Meagan Spooner

huntedcoverHunted
By: Meagan Spooner
Release Date: March 14th 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: E-ARC
Source: Edelweiss

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

My Thoughts:
Beauty and the Beast has always been  my favorite fairy tale so I’m excited each time I see a retelling being published. Meagan Spooner is such a talented writer I couldn’t wait to see what she’d do with this classic. I wasn’t disappointed at all! It was fast paced, original and yet really pulled in the feeling of the original story.

This go around our Beauty was an accomplished hunter as well as being very good in the woods. Yeva (her nickname was Beauty) had two older sisters that she was very close to (not like the original tale where the sisters are cruel to her) and she was the closest to their widowed merchant father. As you read it all feels so familiar and comforting but the little differences are enough to keep the story unique and interesting. I had a vague knowledge of where the story would go but Spooner added in so many aspects that were original to this story it kept me completely captivated.

Yeva’s world had a very original magical element. As we read on more and more of the magic becomes clearer and Beauty’s role as well. This was the type of story that had layers to it- we have our direct storyline but also a smaller, internal story about the Beast that was revealed as well as the larger story arc. I really loved this element.

The Beast in this book was easy to like and he even had little chapters from his point of view. They were very short but I liked seeing a little bit of what was going on inside his mind. He was a complex character and I loved the chemistry he had with Beauty. I loved his dual nature and there were times I actually didn’t know how he’d react which upped the tension considerably.

I have to say my favorite character though was Doe Eyes- Beauty’s dog. I absolutely adored this pup and she brought so much charm to the story. I loved the bond she had to Beauty. I recently got my own dog so I was especially able to relate to the emotional connection these two had.

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Final Thoughts:
Hunted was exactly the type of retelling I’ve been wanting! It had the original tale’s vibe, and most of al,l great characters that had real chemistry.

Review of The Dark Days Pact (Lady Helen #2) by Alison Goodman

thedarkdayspactThe Dark Days Pact (Lady Helen #2)
By: Alison Goodman
Release Date: January 31st 2017
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
June 1812. Just weeks after her catastrophic coming-out ball, Lady Helen Wrexhall—now disowned by her uncle—is a full member of the demon-hunting Dark Days Club. Her mentor, Lord Carlston, has arranged for Helen to spend the summer season in Brighton so that he can train her new Reclaimer powers. However, the long-term effects of Carlston’s Reclaimer work have taken hold, and his sanity is beginning to slip. At the same time, Carlston’s Dark Days Club colleague and nemesis will stop at nothing to bring Helen over to his side—and the Duke of Selburn is determined to marry her. The stakes are even higher for Helen as she struggles to become the warrior that everyone expects her to be.

My Thoughts:
I fell so deeply in love last year with The Dark Days Club I couldn’t wait for this sequel. The moment it showed up I dived into it and I wasn’t disappointed at all. Goodman is impeccable at coloring her world with historical accuracy and it allows for the reader to fully become immersed in the time period. The idea that she’s added a paranormal aspects into such a realistic storyline with such vivid characters and world is just perfection.

The characters- oh how I love each of them. Lady Helen is such an excellent character to follow the story with. We read from her point of view and I just love seeing how she views her world. She isn’t a perfect character by any means which allows her to be so relatable. I love her interactions with the supporting cast and her struggle to fully embrace her powers and role in the Dark Days Club.

My favorite character has to be Carlston. He’s so mysterious, likeable and just a touch of Darcy. I think he’s the perfect mix of these things and his stony façade has me itching to always learn that tiny bit more about what’s under the surface. His interactions with Lady Helen are my favorite parts of the book. I only wish he could have been in this book even more. I don’t think I can ever get enough of him.

As with the first book the beginning starts a tad slower paced with the author spending time on the setting, clothing and traditions of the time. I love how she slowly immerses the reader into everything before pulling the rug and sending you on a fantastic ride wrapped in action, intrigue and suspense. Prepare yourself for the last bit of the book- you’ll not want to put it down and once it ends you’ll be desperate for book 3.

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Final Thoughts:
Yes, this review is short but I can’t say enough about this series. If you are a fan of paranormal and/or historical you must pick these books up. The character chemistry, world, storyline- are all just perfect. These are by far some of my favorite books ever.

Review of Flashfall by Jenny Moyer

flashfallFlashfall
By: Jenny Moyer
Release Date: November 15th 2016
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Orion is a Subpar, expected to mine the tunnels of Outpost Five, near the deadly flash curtain. For generations, her people have chased cirium—the only element that can shield humanity from the curtain’s radioactive particles. She and her caving partner, Dram work the most treacherous tunnel, fighting past flash bats and tunnel gulls, in hopes of mining enough cirium to earn their way into the protected city.

But when newcomers arrive at Outpost Five, Orion uncovers disturbing revelations that make her question everything she thought she knew about life on both sides of the cirium shield. As conditions at the outpost grow increasingly dangerous, it’s up to Orion to forge a way past the flashfall, beyond all boundaries, beyond the world as she knows it.

My Thoughts:
Gah this book! I picked it up one evening thinking I’d just start it to get a feel for it and I was sucked in and read 3/4ths of the book. It was addicting and so fast paced. I immediately connected with the main character, Orion. Her relationship with Dram was so well done and I was addicted to their chemistry.

This book was a mix of science fiction and dystopian. I thought I was tired of the dystopian genre in general but this book has reignited my love for it. It had a very distinct science fiction feel as well so I’m not entirely sure what classification it would fit under. Regardless, I want more and soon. I’ve seen comparisons to Red Rising and I can see them because of the class system and the caving for elements the higher class needs. This book had a very different feel and the pacing was much faster. I felt that it was a really unique young adult novel and I really loved the caves and how terrifying they were.

Orion was one strong main character. I adored her determination and survival instincts. Nothing was getting in her way. I loved that she cared for her Outpost. I was really impressed with how well the action scenes were done and I loved how though it was very much driven by this the characters did not suffer in the slightest. We still got growth and wonderful dialog. The secondary characters really set themselves apart and I was attached to them. Everything about this book hit me right.

I really liked that we weren’t always constricted to Outpost 5- we go with Orion to several different outposts and see more of the world and the destruction that has occurred to the human race. The world was very unique and the idea behind the Flashfall was really intriguing.

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Final Thoughts:
Anyone that enjoys science fiction or dystopian should read Flashfall. It was really unique, well done and captivating. This novel didn’t have a cliff hanger and could be potentially a stand alone but I really hope not. I felt that there was a lot more to explore about the world and the characters.

Review of Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

furthermorecoverFuthermore
By: Tahereh Mafi
Release Date: August 30, 2016  
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Format: Print ARC
Source: Convention

My Rating:
star

Summary:
There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. The day Father disappears from Ferenwood he takes nothing but a ruler with him. But it’s been almost three years since then, and Alice is determined to find him. She loves her father even more than she loves adventure, and she’s about to embark on one to find the other.

But bringing Father home is no small matter. In order to find him she’ll have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. Her only companion is a boy named Oliver whose own magical ability is based in lies and deceit–and with a liar by her side in a land where nothing is as it seems, it will take all of Alice’s wits (and every limb she’s got) to find Father and return home to Ferenwood in one piece. On her quest to find Father, Alice must first find herself–and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss. 

My Thoughts:
I am not usually a fan of middle grade but since this was written by Mafi I knew I’d have to give it a try. This book was EXCELLENT. It could very well be my favorite MG book I’ve read (at least in recent memory). This was such a quirky, original and fun book. The language was a bit strange at times- or at least the world building was. I suggest just going along with it and not trying to understand every detail. As you read you’ll become more and more accustomed to the world and soon it’ll all make sense.

The characters were wonderfully complex. The main character, Alice, was such a fun character to follow and get to know. She was the only person in Ferenwood that was pale and not bursting with color. In this world you can see how much magic a person has by how bright they are. So, being pale and devoid of color makes Alice looked down upon and brushed off by the people around her…even her own mother. There was deep sadness in her and I felt so sad for her. The one person that boosted her and made her feel worthy was her father. He’s been missing for the past years leaving Alice alone.

There was one person that wants to reach out to her, Oliver. He hurt her in the past so she refused to trust him though she had no choice but to work along side him for a common goal. These two had such a complicated relationship and I absolutely loved watching them grow as individuals and with each other. The progression of their trust in each other and their dependence was so well done. It was very realistic and it really had me rooting for them.

The world was really complex and I really hope that Mafi decides to write more books taking place within Ferenwood and Furthermore. These sister lands are similar to one another yet incredibly different. Both are full of magic yet Furthermore has nonsense rules and the citizens veer on the strange. Throughout Alice’s journey she ventures to many parts of Furthermore and meets up with characters that will not soon be forgotten. One of my favorite parts was in the land of Still. I was absolutely creeped out and it was delicious.

I do think Furthermore is a standalone but I really hope for more! I want to see what becomes of Alice and Oliver as they age. A bit of the backstory of these lands was touched on but I could see many stories being written to expand on this past.

FurthermoreIG

Final Thoughts:
Furthermore was such a beautifully told story with incredible characters and a whimsical world. I don’t know if it was supposed to have a touch of Alice in Wonderland but to me it did. I absolutely loved this world and the journey the characters took. I think readers of all ages will love this story.

Review of Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

NevernightNevernight
By: Jay Kristoff
Release Date: August 9th 2016
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

This book has mature sexual content and violence.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

My Thoughts:
This was my first of Kristoff’s books to read (minus his co-authorship with Amie Kaufman with the Illuminae Files). I was really impressed with his writing, descriptions and character growth. Overall this book was a slowish read taking me a couple of weeks. I chose to take it slow because the writing was a bit dense and the world complex. For me, this was not a negative in the slightest. I love being fully immersed and really getting a lot of background and insight into all the characters.

Mia, our main character, was nothing short of bad-a**. She suffered through an awful event in her childhood and so she sought nothing more than revenge. I loved her drive (haha) and yet even with her complete dedication to revenge those that hurt her family she was still likeable, relatable and had heart. I wasn’t ever exactly sure what she’d do in a situation which made her unpredictable and honestly fun to read.

The secondary characters were amazing as well. Even those that barely made an appearance in the book *coughs* Lord Cassius *coughs* had me enthralled. I wanted to know MORE and this kept me reading. I was so impressed with the backstory we got for various characters- especially Tric. My goodness, I loved how detailed and yes, brutal, it all was. And brutal this book was- there was LOTS of gore, violence and blood. So much blood in fact there was an actual pool of it.

The story itself was so detailed and not predictable in the slightest. The pacing varied some with the start being a tad slower than the ending. I found that the build up and world building were so worth it in the end but those that are eager for a faster paced story might find their interest lagging. Kristoff added footnotes that were so clever and added little, insignificant at times, details about the world and society. I found them such a great touch.

As I mentioned above this book was geared to an older audience. There are sex scenes that are rather detailed so I’d put this in the adult fantasy category myself.  I think my favorite aspect of this book was that nothing felt unused- the details and little bits we learned along the way all sort of tied in to really immerse me into this world. It became real to me. I got very emotionally wrapped up in the characters and I honestly got a bit rattled at a couple of scenes. I was also surprised by various things that occurred as well.

Final Thoughts:
Nevernight was an intense book that build such a realistic world and characters I was completely immersed. Kristoff had the ability to shock me and really created a novel with incredible depth. I can’t wait to find out what happens in the sequel. With the mature content, detailed descriptions, violence and length this book reads like an adult book so YA fans be aware of this. nevernightpicHave you seen the UK cover?

 Nevernight nevernightuk

Which cover do you prefer? I really can’t say because the US fits the story so well but I’m so partial to crows. So- I must own both.