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.

hunted3

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 Wintersong by S Jae- Jones

WIntersongCoverWintersong
By: S Jae-Jones
Release Date: February 7th 2017
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Format: E-ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

My Thoughts:
The moment I learned about Wintersong I was desperate to read it. I have been a fan of the movie Labyrinth since I was a whee child and have wished for a retelling or something set in the world with the Goblin King. I felt that with Wintersong my dreams and wish had been granted. This shows the really high expectations I had going into this book. I tried to lower them and keep myself grounded but I’ve gotta admit I expected the very best.

I found the writing to be really magical in this book and though I felt a bit confused at times about the world I was drawn into the story easily. I did find Liesl a difficult character to connect to because she wasn’t a very nice person- she let her insecurities and jealousy direct her behavior. I felt that Liesl was really a lot of the ugliest within each of us. She was jealous of her sister’s beauty and the attention she got because of it. She was jealous of her brother’s musical talent as well as the affection and support her father gave him. I could undertstand these feelings she had because we all feel these things. I felt that Liesl struggling so much with these emotions possibly she’d have intense character growth as the story progressed.

This novel has two sections really- the before and the Underground. The before focused on Liesl’s sister’s abduction and what she will do to retrieve her sister from the hands of the Goblin King. Though Liesl feels intense jealousy at times for her younger sister she also feels love for her and wants to help bring her back. I felt this section of the book was sort of rushed and I honestly think the two sections of the book could have easily been broken into two books allowing for more time on character and world development.

The second section of the novel focused on Liesl’s time in the Underworld, her relationship with the Goblin King and her search to compose the music that almost haunts her. The Goblin King was a character with great potential though I always wanted a bit more from him. I pictured my childhood favorite, David Bowie’s Jareth, in the role. I think this had to do more with my own dedication to inserting him into the book rather than his character really being much like the Goblin King from the movie.

To help that along the author chose to include several lines from the movie and with his description I had no trouble picturing him. I will say though that the comparisons for me were face value. Past the quotes and the image the essence of this Goblin King was much different than Jareth from Labyrinth. He never seemed as cruel as the movie version. We get to see some of his past and his love for music. This humanized him for me and took him from the role of a bad guy (in the movie) and placed him solely as a love interest in the novel for me. I never really saw him as evil or dislikeable.

I went into this book expecting it to be very heavy on the romance and that was an important aspect of the story line but I felt more centered on Liesl’s music and her need to express herself through it. Many paragraphs were dedicated to this and it was a really huge part of the story (hence the ‘song’ part in the title).

I’d say my biggest complaint was that I had many questions that just weren’t answered fully enough for me. I believe there will be a companion novel but I’m not sure and this distresses me some. I think I’d have been happier had this story been broken into two books which would have allowed for a deeper look at the world and more time to create more connection between the Goblin King and Liesl. Though they shared many scenes together I felt it was missing that chemistry I so desired. WintersongBookstagram
Final Thoughts:
Try to hold off on putting your own ideals on what Wintersong is. Detach it from the labyrinth comparison if you are a huge fan such as myself. Try to take this book for what it is rather than the void you’d like it to fill.

Review of Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

RedQueenRed Queen
By: Victoria Aveyard
Release Date: February 10th 2015
Publisher: Harper Teen
Format: E-ARC
Source: HarperTeen via Edelweiss

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

My Thoughts:
There was a substantial amount of hype surrounding this title and I think that lessoned my enjoyment. I went into this book with high expectations. I expected something epic, blood soaked and ultimately different than what I got. With that tiara dripping blood and the title, Red Queen, I imaged court politics, gruesome violence and an all out battle for power. Yes, that isn’t anything really like the summary. I should have not expected something based on the cover but it happens.

Red Queen played out like so many other dystopian books… heroine fighting for her life in an impoverished society only to realize she’s something more. I was still able to become immersed in the first section of the book because of the strong visuals and strong writing. Sadly, as the story progressed my enjoyment waned. I wasn’t at all impressed with the action sequences and felt that the god-like powers weren’t all that original.

I’ve got to mention the similarity I saw between this novel and Pierce Brown’s Red Rising.

Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it’s all a lie. That Mars has been habitable – and inhabited – for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield – and Darrow isn’t the only student with an agenda

I think you can see just from the summaries that there are similarities between the two books. I felt that Red Queen veered off a good amount from this common plot but it did feel a bit like Red Rising light to me. Where Red Rising was brutal and incredibly detailed on its character development I felt that Red Queen sort of felt stunted. I didn’t connect with the characters and though a good amount happened to our lead I wasn’t ever to really gain an interest in her story.

There were hints of a love triangle for those sensitive to those…but it wasn’t too big of a deal. As for the romantic interests I never felt chemistry between either pairs. I think it all comes down to my disconnect with Mare. If I’d been able to have that I think the book would have worked so much better for me. From the early reviews I’ve seen this one is loved by many people so I seem to be in the minority.

Final Thoughts:
Sadly Red Queen was a disappointment to me because I was not able to connect or get invested in the main character’s story. I felt that this book didn’t bring anything all that new to the genre. I think it’ll be a hit for many readers because the writing was well done.

Review of Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

PrincessofThornsPrincess of Thorns
By: Stacey Jay
Release Date: December 9th 2014
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Format: E-ARC
Source: Publilsher via NetGalley

An electronic copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora’s throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it’s too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?

The Story:
Princess of Thorns was the second book of Stacey Jay’s that I’ve read. I adored her retelling of Beauty and the Beast with Of Beast and Beauty and was so excited to see she was taking on Sleeping Beauty.

I expected this to be a retelling but in actuality it was more of an expansion to Sleeping Beauty. The main character, Aurora, was Sleeping Beauty’s daughter. The story was the slightest bit confusing in the prologue and first chapter just because I was wrapping my mind around the world and players. Once the story got started I was hooked and wanted nothing more than to read this book (why must I do other things when all I want to do is read??).

I absolutely love the girl disguised as a boy trope. I never get tired of this particular plot device and when it’s done right, which it is here, it’s so much fun to read. I loved the way Jay utilized it and made it work with her story beautifully. I felt that it was never obvious that Aurora was a girl dressed as a boy and was fully believable.

The adventure side of this story was fast paced and kept me riveted. I loved the action scenes and could easily visualize the fighting scenes. There was a good amount of adventuring which felt pretty typical to the fantasy genre but of course the writing made it fun and never boring.

Many aspects of Princess of Thorns have been done before- girl dressed as boy, curses, miscommunication and a kiss stealing the will of another person-regardless Jay was still able to give this book it’s own heart and mesh these together to create a story that I adored (even with my reading a ton of fantasy and seeing these things used often).

Have I mentioned I enjoyed this book?

It was such a pleasure to read and was perfect for what I needed right now. I wanted a fast paced, absorbing book that had heart and the sense of adventure. Jay gave me all of this plus a couple I could ship.

The Characters:
I loved, loved the characters in this book. Aurora was badass and perfect as the ‘boy’ Ror but also as the Princess out to avenge her family and save her brother. She was a true heroine ready to sacrifice to save others. I loved her struggle with the line between deception and truth and how much of herself to give. She was a well developed, likeable character that I immediately rooted for.

Niklaas was such a great addition to Aurora/Ror’s quest. I adored their banter and felt their connection early on. I loved his witty dialog and cocky attitude. He was so much fun to read and felt incredibly fleshed out to me. I also appreciated that he wasn’t just a side character there to help Ror on her quest, he was on his own adventure with very high stakes.

The villains of the story, the ogres, were wonderfully done as well. I loved that Jay gave them a mythology and appearance that stood them apart from other things I’ve read. They ate the souls of people and marked their bodies with symbols representing the souls they’d devoured. I loved this tidbit and would love to see more about them in a future book.

Final Thoughts:
Princess of Thorns was a wonderful expansion to Sleeping Beauty that kept me riveted to the page (or my phone in this case). I loved the characters and story and want more from this world (hoping for a novella or additional book).

Giveaway:

I’ve got an international Twitter giveaway going for a pre-order of Princess of Thorns.