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 The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

TheShadowQueenThe Shadow Queen
By: C.J. Redwine
Release Date: February 16th 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

My Thoughts:
I was eager to read The Shadow Queen because of the Snow White retelling element. Snow White has always been a favorite of mine and I was excited to see how Redwine would morph the story into a more fantasy setting. Once I started reading I was even further excited to realize that this was fantasy WITH dragons! Hooray! Well, my excitement didn’t last too long. Sadly, I wasn’t a huge fan of this book. The writing, pacing and characters fell a bit flat to me and I was never able to get invested.

I really, really wanted to love everything about The Shadow Queen and I believe that a good amount of readers will enjoy this reworking of Snow White. For me, I found the writing to be a bit simplistic and I was unable to really sink into the words. I had trouble immersing into the world or feeling anything for the characters. I felt that the author provided enough insight and description of the world to allow me to visualize the setting and understand what had driven the characters to their actions. Though I had all the information what I lacked was feeling.

You know, you’ll read a book and not connect and you honestly can’t pin-point why exactly and that’s how I feel about this book. When I look at all the elements, dragons, Snow White retelling, strong female main character, romance, and fantasy in general these things equal to all the things Kristen loves. But, for some reason, it didn’t mesh for me. From the start I struggled with getting into the story and pushing myself to read. For a bit in the middle I found myself enjoying it much more and thought I’d finally gotten into it and would fall in love. The further I read though-my interest waned. It became more and more a struggle for me and I could clearly see where the book was headed.

As I said earlier- I did really love the concept behind the book. Some of the imagery Redwine employed (especially in regards to the evil queen, Irina) were amazingly graphic and SO CREEPY. I loved that she created a heroine that was strong willed, brave and heroic. And who am I kidding- there were dragons so that was pretty damn awesome.

Final Thoughts:
Sadly, The Shadow Queen, wasn’t a hit with me due to my lack of becoming invested in the story or characters. I did appreciate the creative reworking of Snow White and the fact that Redwine incorporated dragons and some incredibly gruesome/disturbing elements in regards to the evil queen.

Review of A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

16096824A Court of Thorns and Roses
By: Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: May 5th 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

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

My Rating:
star

Summary:
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

The Story:
I have been a fan of Maas since reading Throne of Glass and have felt that each book has gotten better as the series progressed. I had some high hopes and expectations for ACOTAR and let me tell you…I was a tad nervous for the first 100 pages. There had been so much hype and the folks that have read it prior to me all said it was so magical and wonderful. My worry was misplaced- ACOTAR turned out to be completely beautiful, epic and wonderfully written.

I love anything to do with the Fae so Sarah J. Maas taking them on-I was immediately sold. Then knowing that it was also a retelling of sorts of my favorite fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast…let’s just say this book had been on my most wanted list. Maas created such a rich world that incorporated traditional Fae lore interwoven with her own rich creativity. I loved the mention of various Fae and that they are ruled by a High Lord, seven for each court.

The story started with Feyre’s home town and her struggle to upkeep a promise to her mother and keep her father and two sisters fed. Because of this she had been forced into the role of a huntress and provider. I thought that Maas created a very vivid town and home life for Feyre though not many pages were spent there. Once we cross over to the lands inhabited by the Fae I felt that the descriptions became even brighter and more vivid.

As I said before the story was slower in the beginning but after a certain point it became impossible to stop reading. I became addicted to this book and felt it painful to put it down to sleep. The action and stakes were raised and things became tense. Since I was aware that this was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast I was able to see where the story was going at places but I enjoyed seeing the parallels and found that this aspect enriched my reading experience. I felt that Maas was very clever in her presentation and incorporated that romantic yet tragic feel of Beauty and the Beast seamlessly with the Fae. Really, it was beautifully done and captured my imagination and heart.

The Characters:
It was a slow burn for me to really connect with Feyre but once I did she became a favorite. I felt she was realistic and though I found her family-life a slower portion of the book I did feel that her reactions especially in feeling she’d abandoned them to be admirable. I loved that she was a complex character that suffered from her guilt. She pushed herself to take actions for the better good that struck war to her soul. I thought her internal monologue and torment was wonderfully done.

The Fae in ACOTAR were done so brilliantly. I absolutely loved the description of the Sureil was exquisite,

A face that looked like it had been crafted from dried, weather-worn bone, its skin either forgotten or discarded, a lipless mouth and too-long teeth held by blackened gums, slitted holes for nostrils, and eyes…eyes that were nothing more than swirling pits of milky white– the white of death, the white of sickness, the white of clean-picked corpses.

Isn’t that so creepy yet beautifully morbid? Many times I have found descriptions of the Fae to veer on the silly side but not so with Maas’ creatures. They were often the stuff of nightmares…but the beautiful ones, the High Fae, were something else altogether. Tamlin, Lucian and Rhysand- oh my. Each was unique, beautiful and complex. I could read so much more about each one of these characters. I’d love to read about their lives prior to ACOTAR (wishing for novellas).

And the main villain…perfectly and delightfully evil. Very little was mentioned or explored about the villain’s past or motivations but it worked very well for me. I totally bought this villain’s evil streak and feared for the characters as they were forced to interact with this person (don’t want to give anything away with gender).

Final Thoughts:
Though A Court of Thorns and Roses started on the slow side for me as the storyline picked up I became absolutely addicted and unable to tear myself away from Feyre’s story. I am thoroughly in love with these characters and know that the wait until the next book will be unbearable. Maas successfully incorporated the heart of Beauty and the Beast into a modern story depicting the Fae.

Blog Tour- Review and Giveaway of Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

 photo 4f9883f9-1e44-4720-b49c-daaa3e8cd0df.png

I am so honored to be included on the tour for Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth. This book was breathtaking and one of my favorites of the year (and all time really). I will read anything (and everything) Forsyth writes. If you enjoy retellings or historical fiction with adult themes you will love this book. Go forth and read!

Today I have my flail ridden review and a giveaway provided so kindly by the publisher.

Bitter GreensBitter Greens
By: Kate Forsyth
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Format: Print ARC
Source: friend (thank you Anya!)

This is an adult book so has mature content.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been banished from the court of Versailles by the Sun King, Louis XIV, after a series of scandalous love affairs. She is comforted by an old nun, Sœur Seraphina, who tells her the tale of a young girl who, a hundred years earlier, is sold by her parents for a handful of bitter greens…

Selena is the famous red-haired muse of the artist Tiziano, first painted by him in 1512 and still inspiring him at the time of his death, sixty-four years later. Called La Strega Bella, Selena is at the centre of Renaissance life in Venice, a world of beauty and danger, seduction and betrayal, love and superstition, retaining her youth and beauty by the blood of young red-haired girls.

After Margherita’s father steals a handful of parsley, wintercress and rapunzel from the walled garden of the courtesan Selena Leonelli, he is threatened with having both hands cut off unless he and his wife give away their little red-haired girl. And so, when she turns seven, Margherita is locked away in a tower, her hair woven together with the locks of all the girls before her, growing to womanhood under the shadow of La Strega Bella, and dreaming of being rescued…

Three women, three lives, three stories, braided together to create a compelling story of desire, obsession, black magic and the redemptive power of love.

My Thoughts:
This book was breathtaking and I have failed to find words to adequately describe how much I enjoyed it. I’ve sat on my review and notes for over a month attempting to figure out how to convey my emotions while reading. I can’t promise this will be coherent but I can say that I loved this book.

I went into it knowing only that it was an adult fiction retelling of Rapunzel. I was not nearly prepared for the epic and historical scope of what I was getting into.

Bitter Greens was written as a story within a story. We start first by meeting Charlotte-Rose and her banishment to a nunnery. Forsyth took me on a journey around France and Charlotte-Rose’s story and life. She was based upon a historic character that I had no knowledge of so I found this story to be incredibly intriguing. The setting was expertly done and I was easily transported to the Sun King, Louis XIV’s court.

It’s clear that Forsyth did her research to be able to convey the world and characters so realistically. The characters are the driving force behind this novel. Each was complex with incredible depth and motivations. I loved that we saw multiple view points, even that of the villain. The fact that the villain’s story had be at the edge of my seat and nearly crying for her was incredible.

Along with the historical feel we also have a very in depth and compelling retelling of Rapunzel. I will say I think this book was the most researched and best done look into a classic fairy tale I’ve read.

As I stated above, this review has been an ongoing struggle for me to write. It is not often that a book has left me completely speechless but this one did.

Final Thoughts:
If you like adult historical fiction, retellings, character driven stories and complex villains then Bitter Greens would probably be for you.

About the Kate Forsyth 1Author:
Kate Forsyth wrote her first novel at the age of seven, and is now the internationally bestselling & award-winning author of thirty books, ranging from picture books to poetry to novels for both adults and children. She was recently voted one of Australia’s Favourite 20 Novelists, and has been called ‘one of the finest writers of this generation. She is also an accredited master storyteller with the Australian Guild of Storytellers, and has told stories to both children and adults all over the world.

Kate’s books have been published in 14 countries around the world, including the UK, the US, Russia, Germany, Japan, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Poland and Slovenia. She is currently undertaking a doctorate in fairytale retellings at the University of Technology, having already completed a BA in Literature and a MA in Creative Writing.

Kate is a direct descendant of Charlotte Waring, the author of the first book for children ever published in Australia, ‘A Mother’s Offering to her Children’. She lives by the sea in Sydney, Australia, with her husband, three children, and many thousands of books.

For more information please visit Kate Forsyth’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Giveaway:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bitter Greens Blog Tour Schedule:
Monday, September 15
Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, September 16
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Review & Giveaway at Bookish

Wednesday, September 17
Review & Giveaway at Literary, etc
Review & Giveaway at Book Drunkard

Thursday, September 18
Review & Giveaway at The Eclectic Reader

Friday, September 19
Review at The Maiden’s Court
Review & Giveaway at Icey Books

Monday, September 22
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway at A Dream Within a Dream
Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, September 23
Review at Book Dilettante
Review & Giveaway at Build a Bookshelf
Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway at SurLaLune

Wednesday, September 24
Review at Caroline Wilson Writes
Review, Interview, and Giveaway at Ink Gypsy
Review, Interview, and Giveaway at The Lit Bitch

Thursday, September 25
Review & Giveaway at No BS Book Reviews
Interview & Giveaway at Just One More Chapter

Friday, September 26
Review at The Gilmore Guide to Books
Review at Must Read Faster

Monday, September 29
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Review & Giveaway at Bookworm Blues

Tuesday, September 30
Review at The Life & Times of a Book Addict
Review & Excerpt at Books-n-Kisses
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, October 1
Review at One Book at a Time
Review at Book-alicious Mama
Review & Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf

Thursday, October 2
Interview at Layered Pages
Review & Giveaway at Oh Magic Hour

Friday, October 3
Review at Bibliophilia, Please
Review & Giveaway at Gone Pecan
Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace

Sunday, October 5
Review at Carole’s Ramblings

Monday, October 6
Review at Book Babe
Review at A Bibliotaph’s
Reviews
Interview, Excerpt, & Giveaway at Harlequin Junkie

Tuesday, October 7
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review & Giveaway at The Pretty Good Gatsby

Wednesday, October 8
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Review & Giveaway at My Friends Are Fiction

Thursday, October 9
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Friday, October 10
Review at Mel’s Shelves
Review & Giveaway at No More Grumpy Bookseller
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Monday, October 13
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Review & Giveaway at Layers of Thought

Tuesday, October 14
Review & Giveaway at Beth’s Book Reviews

Wednesday, October 15
Review at Crossroad Review
Review at My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews

Thursday, October 16
Review at Cheryl’s Book Nook
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, October 17
Review at Mary Gramlich
Review at She Reads Novels

Monday, October 20
Interview & Giveaway at The Reading Frenzy

Blog Tour- Review of Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen + Giveaway (US)

There have been a few retellings recently featuring Peter Pan so when I saw Alias Hook, which is about Captain Hook, I was sold. I was very excited to be included in the  blog tour as well as getting a chance to read this book prior to its release.  Below you will find my review and information on the book.

Praise for Lisa Jensen’s ALIAS HOOK

“Jensen’s wonderful imagination and devotion to history and myth allow the reader to fly with her through this outstanding adventure – no fairy dust required.”

Publishers Weekly 

“Scintillating description and deep characterization make Jensen’s (Witch from the Sea) Neverland a psychologically intriguing place to visit. Following in the footsteps of Gregory Maguire, Carolyn Turgeon, and Frank Beddor, Jensen offers a humanized take on Captain Hook that will be sure to entertain…”

Library Journal

Alias HookAlias Hook
By: Lisa Jensen
Release Date: July 8th 2014
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Source: E-ARC
Format: Publisher

This is an adult novel so some of the content is for mature audiences.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
“Every child knows how the story ends. The wicked pirate captain is flung overboard, caught in the jaws of the monster crocodile who drags him down to a watery grave. But it was not yet my time to die. It’s my fate to be trapped here forever, in a nightmare of childhood fancy, with that infernal, eternal boy.”

Meet Captain James Benjamin Hook, a witty, educated Restoration-era privateer cursed to play villain to a pack of malicious little boys in a pointless war that never ends. But everything changes when Stella Parrish, a forbidden grown woman, dreams her way to the Neverland in defiance of Pan’s rules. From the glamour of the Fairy Revels, to the secret ceremonies of the First Tribes, to the mysterious underwater temple beneath the Mermaid Lagoon, the magical forces of the Neverland open up for Stella as they never have for Hook. And in the pirate captain himself, she begins to see someone far more complex than the storybook villain.

With Stella’s knowledge of folk and fairy tales, she might be Hook’s last chance for redemption and release if they can break his curse before Pan and his warrior boys hunt her down and drag Hook back to their neverending game.

The Story:
I’m not overly familiar with Peter Pan, though this was my second retelling I’ve read recently. I feel like we generally see things from the ‘good guys’ point of view but in this novel Jensen delves into who Hook was and the person behind the known villain. We traverse the story through James Hook’s point of view and flip flop between his present day and past. I absolutely loved the glimpses into his past and found that Jensen did an exceptional job bringing life to the setting and character.

Jensen’s writing was lush but dense, soaked in beautiful details which at times might bog down a reader that prefers faster paced reads. I found the prose to be done beautifully. Here’s an example from the ARC so it might be changed in the final version,

Stars scatter like diamonds across the black sky when we finally break the surface of the lagoon. All is still but for a lazy chittering of insects.
(55% into the ARC)

I was drawn into Neverland in a way I’d never been before. Jensen was able to turn everything I’d ever thought about it on its head and have me seeing things completely anew. I loved this aspect of the novel and was impressed with her creativity.

The classic locations present in the films and stories was also included in Alias Hook in new ways which was compelling and delightful. I especially enjoyed Jensen’s take the Mermaid Lagoon. I found the description of the location and the mermaids to be detailed and I was clearly able to picture the setting,

Clusters of glowing, incandescent crystals, unimaginable in the world above, thrust downward from the rock ceiling like gaudy chandeliers, bathing everything in rainbow hues: turquoise green, cobalt blue, ruby, violet.  Soft, dark shadows gird the perimeter of this enclosed space so far from the sun, but a luminous mineral haze hangs in the air, and the water glows velvet green. (51% into  the ARC)

You can really visualize that can’t you? I love “mineral haze” and found all the descriptions in this book to be so beautifully executed. Imagine that level of detail for every location in the classic Peter Pan as well as the characters and you’ll have a good grasp of this novel.

That being said, the storyline was impressive. I enjoyed reading the flashbacks from Hook’s past as well as his growth in his present state in Neverland. I felt that each gave such deep insight into his character and motivations.

The Characters:
Jensen did an impressive job adding her own twist to these classic characters. I found the time spent on Hook’s backstory, when he was known as James Benjamin Hookbridge to be some of my favorite sections because it was very easy to see how his character developed. For me, this was the first look into what he might have been like beyond being the villain of Peter Pan. His personal demons and journey were done exquisitely well having me completely wrapped up in his story even when I hated a good amount of his actions past and present.

Another strong character in Alias Hook was Stella. She was headstrong and a perfect addition to Hook’s demeanor. I enjoyed their dialog but did feel that the romance between them went heavy faster than I would have liked. I’m all for a slow burn so I was disappointed that things between them happened as fast and in the depth it did so suddenly. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t feel like insta-love I just wanted to have their affections denied for a longer amount of time.

I was most impressed with the imagery that Jensen provided surrounding the boy that never grows up, Peter Pan. I would never have fathomed how Peter Pan could be shown in a negative manner but Jensen was able to do it easily. I was disgusted with him though I was still able to find the slightest amount of empathy towards his situation.

Final Thoughts:
I would say that of all the Peter Pan retellings I’ve read Alias Hook has been the strongest. I loved Jensen’s reimagined Neverland as well as her new takes on characters we all felt we knew fairly well. Her descriptive prose was lyrical, vivid and beautifully executed. If you are a reader that prefers a faster paced novel this might not be for you since the pacing was slow as well as the novel long.

Giveaway:

This giveaway is US only since the lovely folks at Thomas Dunne are providing the book.
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