Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Hunted by Meagan Spooner- 3.75 stars

Hunted is a Beauty and the Beast retelling. My overall opinion is that if you are someone who loves Beauty and Beast you are very likely to love this too.


All the traditional elements of the original fairy-tale are there. It is nothing like Marissa Meyer's retellings though. If you are expecting a completely new story that surprises you at times this is not it. I personally much prefer Marissa Meyer's style of fairy-tale retelling (or in this particular case even ACOTAR- a court of thorns and roses- also a Beauty and the Beast adaptation). I like the surprise element those authors added to their story, it helps (me at least) to engage and immerse myself in the book. In Hunted everything is predictable, and I greatly struggle with fantasy books that are too predictable. That is not a bad thing necessarily, jut not my favorite type of fairy-tale retelling I suppose... 

The story is about Beauty (or Yeva), her two sisters and their father. When Beauty's father looses his fortune, they are forced to move back to their lodge in the outskirts of town. Beauty is secretively pleased with that change. She misses being in the forest hunting with her father, something they used to do a lot when she was still a child. 
Being back however is not easy. Their father starts to act strange and one day disappears. Beauty goes after him, tracking his steps, she finds the Beast instead!

So, as you can see, very close to the original. Her siblings are kind and selfless here, and they play a special role both in the beginning and in the end of the book, but for the most part it is very much like the classic: Beauty goes after her father, Beauty is kept in the Beast's castle, there is a curse, he eventually lets her go, she returns...

It is a tad darker than the original story. The author hints quite strongly that there is a case of Stockholm syndrome going on towards the end too. And ... well ... why did you do that?! Fairy-tales are not meant to make sense all the time, they are not meant to be real. All the talk of Stockholm syndrome made it real, which in turn makes their relationship creepy. Who wants to read about the girl that goes back to her abuser? it just made the whole ending feel wrong rather than magical. 

Anyway... look guys, it was beautiful in many ways! I loved Beauty's bravery; I loved that Solmir (aka Gaston) was a pleasant and loving character, I loved her relationship with her sisters... It was just not enough for me to love the book as a whole too. 
It was good, but it is not going on favorites list! 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco- 4.75 stars

This was such a wonderful read!
I was very much looking forward to it ever since I read its book blurb and saw its amazing cover art. Isn't it the most impressive book cover? The book blurb sounded very interesting and very promising. There was no way a YA fantasy lover would not be curious about it!
Blurb by GoodReads:
Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.



Had the book kept its fast pace through out I would certainly have given it a 5 star. But at some point half way through the book I had to stop for a little while as I found it dragging. That did not last long though, and only a few pages further it was 'all happening' again, which is why it still deserving a high mark.

One of the most interesting features in The Bone Witch is that the story is told from Tea's perspective, but from the future. She has been banished from her home and is somewhere remote with a very different heart from the heart she once had. In between chapters the reader get glances of a much older Tea, with secrets and a heavy heart. Those chapters are rather dark and heavy. And of a younger Tea, who is still learning to master her skills. Brave and with an almost happy-go-lucky attitude.

The main character in this well written story is as you probably guessed Tea. Very early into the story she finds out she is a bone witch, or an asha when she 'accidentally' brings her brother back from the dead. Luckily for Tea (since bone witches are not loved in her home town) another bone witch is nearby when Tea resurrects her brother and comes to the 'rescue'. She takes Tea and her brother away so that Tea can be properly trained in her craft. Her relationship with her brother blossoms through out the book and it is one of the main things I looked forward to while reading it. His deadpan not-funny-at-all jokes are oddly and strangely enough: heartwarming!

We are introduced to many  different characters through the story and it is hard to talk specifically about each one of them. The main focus was definitely Tea and no one else.

We have a prince, Kance, who is very kind and sweet but perhaps a tad clueless. Tea is infatuated with him from the very begging but not much happens between them. Romance really is not on the radar in this book. It is obviously with its ending that it will be on the next book, but it isn't here.

There is the ever overprotective Duke, Kalen. His job is to protect the prince and he takes that duty very seriously. He is worried about Tea and the potential relationship between her and the prince. Tea and Kalen are my favorite characters, I kept wanting to know more about him and considering the ending I am sure I will!

The King's brother is an apprentice to the forger of hearts. A sweet and very clever boy who I am hoping to see more in the next book too.

And than there are the ashas that Tea is both leaving with and learning from. They become her sisters and her family away from home. They protect her and she protects them. The relationship is certainly not always easy, but it is most definitely entertaining. All ashas surrounding Tea have very different personalities and are therefore unique in their own away. It is impressive to me that Rin Chupeco managed to give so much heart and soul to so many different characters in one book!

I would most certainly recommend this book to anyone that loves young adult fantasy. It delivered in every way.
I am anxiously waiting for the next book in this series!

Go Read!



















Sunday, March 19, 2017

Gilded Cage by Vic James- 4.75 stars or more!

Oh my goodness guys! This book was so so good!!!


I work in a library and this was an ARC we got not long ago and only now I had time to read.
I’ve heard since this was a debut novel. Say what?! That is some talent!
The book is a fantasy dystopia set in a totalitarian version of the United Kingdom. The population is divided between those who possess power, or Skill, and does who do not. Those who possess the magic of Skill rule the nation, they are the Equals. The others are obliged to give away ten years of their lives to the Equals working either in slave-towns or as servants at the Equals mansions. Ironic name right? Equals? They are only Equals among themselves, and even then there are exceptions. Those without power spend ten years working six days a week, morning to dawn, with no pay and very little health care. The conditions are oblique to say the least.
The story is told from the perspective of a few different individuals and it takes place mostly in two places: at the Home of an Equal family and at one of the slave-towns.
I absolutely loved ALL the characters. That does not happen often, usually you have one or two favourites, this was different. I cannot give you just one name! Impossible!
Abi is probably the main female character. She found a way to have all of her family –mum, dad, sister and brother- to spend their slave days together in one of the Equals mansions. She thought that would be safer and better for them. It didn’t quite work as planned, her brother ended being send to a slave-town. She promptly falls in love for one of the Equals, the middle son. He does not possess any powers but because he is the middle son and not the heir his family has not deserted him and he enjoys the same privileges as all the other Equals. He is not like them, but he has little choice. Nothing happens between them till the very end, this is not a romance book.
Luke, Abi’s brother, end up in a slave-town. You know as much by reading the book blurb, but I will not tell you how no to spoil it all for you. He grows a lot and becomes his own man while there. It is rather interesting and pleasurable reading it his progress. He is hard-working, honourable and brave young man.
The Jardine brothers, younger and older/heir at the Equal’s mansion Abi is at are perhaps the most interesting characters. They are surely not what they appear to be at the beginning. I loved all the layers and character development they had and I am very much looking forward to what happened next.
Silyan is the younger brother. Mysterious, secretive, ambitious and very very powerful. His motives are never clear and I am super curious about what happens to him next. Everything he does is a game changer in the book. He is connected and feared. But its hard to tell if he is a good or bad apple right now.
Gavar, the older brother and Heir is a brute, for the most part anyway. Whenever he is with his little daughter he is the exact opposite. His anger controls his power, making him rather dangerous. But also, for the most part, his father controls him. Again, if he is a bad apple or not, it is hard to tell. For his daughter, he could be both, he could be anything.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

UpperCase vs OwlCrate

I should start by making it clear I have been an UpperCase  subscriber for a while and that I love them! My love affair with UpperCase is not yet a year long, but it is close. In that time, I have only been disappointed with the box once. 
There have surely been books I did not give 5 stars, but I will not judge a book box subscription on that. The YA category encompasses a rather large variety of genres and it is impossible to please every subscriber every month. For example: one of the books I was not a fan of was Vassa in the Night. Almost all my bookstagrammer followers however loved that book...

Now for this month's subscription comparisons
UpperCase  vs OwlCrate:



UpperCase contents ($23.00box+$6.50delivery=$29.50) :
Jane Austen socks by SockSmith;
Gold Foil Book Stack Art Print by Belle Adele Co;
Book Hoarder Sticker by Alexis Lampley;
Hunted Bookmark;
Hunted by Meagan Spooner, Signed!



OwlCrate contents ($29.99box+$6.99 delivery=$36.98):
Pendant Necklace by The Geeky Cauldron;
Mermaid Washi tape by Simply Gilded;
Notepad Octopus print by Boygirlparty;
Hand printed tea towel from Kitch Studios
The Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller with letter, temp. tattoo and signed bookplate.

Rating for UpperCase March: 5 out of 5
Rating for OwlCrate March: 3.5 out of 5

UpperCase Overview: Uppercase has done it again! Gosh, I am so happy! Specially after last month's box... Remember how I said just a few lines earlier that there has been only one time I was disappointed with UpperCase? That was last month. But let's not talk about that. Every month prior was absolutely amazing and March is no different. 
I was planing on buying the book. What an amazing surprise!!!! I am very much looking forward to it. Oh, and as always with Uppercase, the book is signed. BONUS!!!! The page inside is shinny, and beautiful, and signed ... Did I say beautiful and signed? 
And the little extras did not disappoint! Did you see those cute socks? LOVED it!
The art print is gorgeous. This picture does not give it justice. 
Also love the book hoarder sticker. It is going to sit right next to my book addict sticker- also from UpperCase :) 
Uppercase may not have as many things as OwlCrate, but usually that is not something to be sad about because the few things they send, as you can see, are gorgeous!

OwlCrate Overview: Considering the price difference one would expect OwlCrate to always have the most amazing boxes in comparison to UpperCase. Although they at times have a thing or two that reflects the price (funkos being one of them), that is not always the case. And sadly, definitely not the case this month! Don't get me wrong, it is a good box, but it does not reflect its price tag. I am very good and very careful with my money, so that is a big negative to me and it is rather hard to  get past it whenever it happens. It is also the main reason why I do not subscribe to OwlCrate. If I get their box, it is a one off box here and there. 
I have never heard of the book, but I am looking forward to reading it. It sounds interesting. Rather disappointed that the book is not signed. That is definitely something that UpperCase has going for them. I do not care for a signed little piece of paper (bottom left corner of the picture). Sorry OwlCrate, but signed books are just way better. Every time I move my books either to rearrange shelves or for photo-shoots I will worry I will lose that paper.
The little extras were nice, but not amazing. I loved the necklace, adorable!!! As for everything else... meh... nice, but not fabulous. Would swap all those small things for one nice thing. Or even just for a better quality towel. The towel is pretty, but its cheap. Not cool. 

All in all, both boxes are good. But the fact the book is signed alone makes UpperCase Superior. Even if this OwlCrate box had its usual amazing contents (because lets be honest, OwlCrate is usually epic), I still would prefer UpperCase so I could get the signed book. Sadly that is not the only issue. The box this month does not reflect its price. A little notebook, a washi tape and a cheap towel do not top the cutest socks ever and the beautiful art print! 

I'm an UpperCase girl! All the Way!



By Your Side by Kasie West- 3.5 stars

This book came with my February's subscription to UpperCase (the picture above is of all the february's box contents).
I LOVE uppercase, cannot say that enough. But I was a little hesitant when I saw the book. Sounded rather generic and average. I was both proven right and wrong while reading By Your Side.
Right, because yes, it was just another silly underdeveloped romance. But wrong because it was rather sweet and I did very much like the male character.

I don't think the book was so middle of the road as to deserve a 3 star rating. But it wasn't as good as some other books I have given 4 stars. The story was predictable, but at the same time entertaining. Average, but also sweet. Generic with hints of greatness...
The female character was rather boring. I wrote my short review (I always write a very short one for GoodReads) the day after I finished the book, and at that point I had already forgotten the female character's name. So.... that should tell you something.
The main male character however, Dax, and also both 'minor' male characters were very well written and I rather liked them all. He had depth, a background story one could relate and/or feel for. His character together with the other boys saved the book from a low scoring.
Dax was sarcastic, a bit on the tortured side, a little rude at times... I was head over hills reading the first half of the book. Sadly the second half concentrated more on the very so boring female character. The author lost an amazing opportunity there.
The plot is a okay, the love story is sweet enough. But the first half of the book makes little sense at times. For example, how many libraries do you know without emergency exits? I work in a library guys!!! That doesn't exist. Safety and all.... Or without a phone? Its a public building and therefore rare.

But here is the book's biggest problem (for bookworms at least): Don't you book lover love the idea of a book based on two people locked in the library? what if someone granted you that wish and than proceeded to write a book where no one cares about books? grgrgrgr.... it was sad.


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Heartless by Marissa Meyer- Above and Beyond 5 stars!

Marissa Meyer has done it again! Heartless was pure perfection. The writing was captivating,
enticing, mesmerizing...

The ever so clever, odd and poetic way in witch Marissa Meyer tells us the story of the famous Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland was impossible to put down, impossible not to love.

This author holds a great talent for fairytale retelling. Her imagination knows no bounds. And the best part? Even IF you are not a fan of the classic, you will still love this. I know because I am not the number one fan of the odd Alice in Wonderland. I like it, but I do not love it. This on the other hand? This I loved beyond explanation. Heartless may take inspiration in the classic, and bring to its lovers fond memories. But it is more than that. It is a story on its own right. One cleverly written and impossible not to love.

The story is about Catherine. A young girl who wants nothing more than to open her own bakery and bring smiles to all through her sweets. But she is the daughter of a Marquess. She is fancied by the King and is the chosen to be Queen.

The story is also about Jest. The court joker who is more than he appears to be. He is in hearts with a mission, but will he complete such mission after crossing paths with the future Queen of Hearts?

There is love, friendship, betrayal, anger and revenge in this epic story. And you, wonderful book lovers, are bound to fall in love it and be mesmerized by it in the same way I and many book lovers out there have done.

Go Read!