"You can either dab or swirl," he said, leaning forward to show me. Which put him even closer, close enough that it was almost an embrace. So close th"You can either dab or swirl," he said, leaning forward to show me. Which put him even closer, close enough that it was almost an embrace. So close that my mouth went dry. "Personally," - he cleared his throat - "I like the swirl."
I don't know about you, but I'm a sucker for seasonal novels. I want the book scenery to reflect my own - there's nothing more cozy than a winter read when it's cold outside. As such, this book was exactly what I wanted, and probably makes my review a little kinder because there were definitely some elements of this book that were less than ideal.
First, the protagonist, Ashleigh, is one of those "not like other girls" girls. She's never had a boyfriend and never wanted one, loves horror films and watches them with her eyes open (gasp), and needs her coffee in the morning to be a functioning person (can't argue with that one). This is all well and good, except every time something different came up about Ashleigh, it was usually preceded or followed by something alluding to the fact that she's not like other girls. This is one of my personal pet peeves. Girls are human, and different from on another. Her differences don't make her superior to other girls, and I object to the idea that being "ungirly" or "not like other girls" makes you better. There's nothing wrong with being a girl, and not all girls act the same, so you may as well say she's "different from other humans". Well, duh. We all are. Kay? Kay. *rant over*
That pet peeve aside, I really enjoyed Snowed In. It's exactly what it seems: a cute, fluffy, winter romance. Our love interests Josh and Ashleigh have that love/hate relationship in the beginning, which is always fun. Some of the side characters were a little ridiculously immature, such as the girl who calls her boyfriend only "my boyfriend" instead of his name and starts snowball fights to get out grievances. But, all in all, its's a great read for a snow day and if you want to feel warm and fuzzy and embarrassed to be seen with it in public.
Josh Wynter and Ashleigh Sneax. Smooshy and a vomit-inducing level of cuteness and I LOVE IT.
Ever the Hunted felt like a mixture of several different stories I've seen and read, and while this som
"If I were ever the hunted, you would find me."
Ever the Hunted felt like a mixture of several different stories I've seen and read, and while this sometimes led to a unique and intriguing blend, most often I felt like I'd been here, done that. The main character is reminiscent of Katniss from the Hunger Games, while her love interest reminded me of Gale. Bordering countries who are enemies because of disagreements over magic actually occured in the book I read before and after this one (Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst and Frostblood by Elly Blake). New trend? The magic system was different, I'll give it that, but almost random in the types of abilities that come together.
The issue of falling into fantasy tropes is not my main problem with Ever the Hunted, though. If I'm invested in the characters, the novel can be as tropey as you please. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case with our main characters, Britta and Cohen. Britta, as we know from the beginning of the novel, recently lost her father. But she spends much more brainspace on Cohen and his somehow always pleasant scent (after spending three weeks in the forest without bathing? I don't think so) than her recently deceased father. I found this a little odd and I think some opportunities were missed for introspective moments on the way we may perceive someone who has died differently than the idea we had of them when they were living. Sort of a Harry Potter learns about Dumbledore's past type of insight.
Another thing I found unlikely was that Britta never suspects that she might have magical powers. Trust me, that's not a spoiler. I knew from the first chapter, but it takes Britta 3/4 of the book to even raise the question to herself, and only after a few pretty striking displays of power. Britta is set up as a wonderful tracker, archer, and handy with a knife, but these skills don't actually help her a lot, which I was disappointed about. She has all the tools of being a kick-ass heroine, but Cohen is the one who does most of the saving. *cue Cinderella by the Cheetah Girls pls*
After struggling with a lack of connection from these characters for most of the book, I did feel it towards the end. It was an emotional part that actually made me feel strong rage, which I admit is pretty rare for me. The other element that kicks this book up from a 2 star to a 3 star rating is the fantastic ending. It ties up the necessary storylines from this book, while setting up some really intriguing possibilities for the next one. I still wasn't buying Cohen and Britta's romance by the end, but I felt connected enough to the characters and interested enough in the plot twists, that I'd be happy to pick up the next one in this series.
3.5 Full review to come, but right off the bat, I must say that I hate how the description of this book spoils the plot. I read the book without readin3.5 Full review to come, but right off the bat, I must say that I hate how the description of this book spoils the plot. I read the book without reading the description, and while I predicted the twist, it was still very satisfying to put it together myself, more than halfway through the novel....more
"An Affinity, much like a heart, cannot be changed."
Of Fire and Stars is the quintessential fantasy romance with a twist: the princess doesn't fall in
"An Affinity, much like a heart, cannot be changed."
Of Fire and Stars is the quintessential fantasy romance with a twist: the princess doesn't fall in love with the prince, but with the princess. I was really excited to read this book because of this intriguing concept, and I did enjoy it. However, I was a bit disappointed in other aspects of the book, and without this little twist, I think the book would have been rather unremarkable.
1) The romance is pretty adorable. Mare and Denna don't get off the the best start, and without having read the synopsis of the book, I might not have known they would become interested in each other romantically. Mare is forced by her family to give Denna horseriding lessons, and the first part of their relationship is strained by this obligation, and Mare and Denna's personality differences. However, Audrey Coulthurst did a great job with the slow burn type of romance. Slight touches, words, and eye contact build up until the romance just blossoms. I also liked that, despite, the medieval setting, homophobia didn't seem to be an issue in the world Audrey created. Other lesbian and gay couples are introduced in the book, and nothing is made of it. I liked that the only real barrier to Denna and Mare's romance was the betrothal of Denna to the prince, rather than societal judgements.
2) I really enjoyed Audrey Coulthurst's writing - it's very atmospheric, and there were some lovely passages, ie "Partnerships can be built, but love can't be coaxed. Love should feel like the first time you gallop a horse flat out. It should make your blood sing. It should terrify you. And some part of you should recognize it the first time you meet the other person's eyes." I'm excited to read Audrey's next few books and see how her writing develops, and what other kinds of stories she'll tackle. There were some pretty boring parts of the book that were carried through more easily because of Coulthurst's writing.
3) The magic system in Of Fire and Stars is nothing too new - it's based on the elements, like wind, fire, earth, etc. (a side note - elemental magic seems to be making a comeback, like in Frostblood and Ever the Hunted, two other recent releases). I did really like how religion ties in with magic in a unique way.
Now, for the not-so-positives
1) As other reviewers have commented, the names in this book are a little ridiculous. If Amaranthine and Dennaleia aren't enough of a mouthful for you, try Thandilimon. The first few chapters of the book were spent on stumbling over these names in my head. I happen to adore fantasy names, but it needs to be clear how to pronounce them. I feel like the author just threw in super long names to add to the fantasy/medieval feel. Also, Mare. Loves horses. Really?
2) The pacing was a bit slow, but tons of exciting things happened near the end. It was sort of like a Nancy Drew book without those clutch cliffhangers at the end of each chapter. There was lots of information-gathering and meeting and talking, but not much happened either plot or romance-wise, until the end.
3) I predicted the villain since their first scene. Maybe I've just read too many books, but I thought it was very obvious.
All in all, Of Fire and Stars was an interesting read for the unique romance/setting. That twist helps it rise above the overall meh-ness of the plot, and Coulthurst's writing kept me intrigued. I'd recommend for anyone looking for a unique romance and is not too bothered by typical fantasy fare.
This book series is like many of my favorite CW shows - I LOVE it, but I'm a bit embarrassed to be seen with it in public. It's not one of those booksThis book series is like many of my favorite CW shows - I LOVE it, but I'm a bit embarrassed to be seen with it in public. It's not one of those books that makes me think or has quotes that I want to frame on a wall, but it's just so entertaining.
In Killer, the plot thickens even more, if you can believe it. I thought the last few books didn't move the mystery forward, even though they were enjoyable with their fair share of twists & turns. However, this book really turns a new page on the story and I'm so excited to see where it goes. I've unfortunately read spoilers about how everything turns out, like (view spoiler)[how Ali has a twin (hide spoiler)], but I don't know how exactly this comes about, so I'm still engaged.
Like the characters in my fave CW shows, Spencer, Hanna, Aria, and Emily make stupid decisions 90% of the time. I want to yell at them while simultaneously giving them a hug, because their lives really suck because of said decisions and, of course, a psychopath stalker on the loose. But it wouldn't be as entertaining without these low points, I know.
If you want the equivalent of this book series in TV form, check out Gossip Girl.
Vassa in the Night is set in an alternate-reality Brooklyn in which magic is present, but ignored by most human resiAlso on my blog, Veni, Vidi, Legi.
Vassa in the Night is set in an alternate-reality Brooklyn in which magic is present, but ignored by most human residents. One alarming show of otherworldly presence in the "real" world is BY's, a convenience store that dances on chicken legs and beheads shoplifters, displaying their heads on spikes outside the store. When Vassa and her talking wooden doll, Erg, make a seemingly innocent trip to BY's, Vassa becomes ensnared in a magical world that seems to know more about her and Erg than she is expecting.
Vassa in the Night is a retelling of the Russian folk story Vasilisa the Beautiful. While reading the tale isn't necessary for enjoying the retelling, I would highly recommend it so you can catch some of the parallels and differences. The novel definitely has that dark fairy tale feel - more Brothers Grimm than Disney. The atmosphere of the novel was one of my favorite parts - mysterious and dangerous, but with moments of levity from the wooden doll, Erg or Vassa's sense of humor and snark. The task-oriented plotline at the beginning of the novel definitely stirred up more of that fairy tale/folk tale feeling as well, reminiscent of a quest or three-part adventure.
I loved the characters dominating the novel. I liked that Vassa wasn't constantly an optimistic and determined heroine; she really, really, really wanted to give up at times, but with the help of Erg and other side characters, continues on. Her sidekick Erg was hilarious and heart-warmingly loyal, but Vassa and Erg's relationship wasn't shallow, instead showing moments of doubt and ups and downs. The love between the doll and Vassa was definitely part of why they're my favorite relationship in the novel. There is a bit of romantic love action in Vassa as well, but it's hardly at center stage, and appropriately so. One of the elements of the book that I didn't enjoy or understand at first was the unlikely romance between Vassa and another character. There seemed to be little to no basis for it, which Vassa admits several times, but I just didn't buy it. However, after getting further into the book, it makes a little more sense. Without that background up front though, I still didn't much like that relationship.
The plotline definitely kept me interested, and twists and turns were surprising and, at times, shocking. This is one of those novels where at some points you can't tell what is real and what is just happening in Vassa's head. I would normally be a little frustrated by that, but it just added to the hazy and daydream-like feel of the entire novel, so I can't complain. I do wish some plotlines had been tied up a bit more, like things involving Vassa's father, but the foremost plot lines were finished off nicely.
My only caveat in recommending this book would be to readers who are squeamish - there is a good amount of decapitation and blood, and no description is spared. In sum, Vassa in the Night is a dazzling novel that made me cry, gasp, and feel my heart grow two sizes. I would recommend to anyone who likes dark fantasy, dancing convenience stores, or vivacious wooden dolls.
I received this book through OwlCrate, a monthly book subscription box. The review above is my honest opinion and I am not receiving any compensation for said review....more