Ash & Bramble might just be the most surprising book that I've read in 2015. As many of you might have discerned, I very much judge books by theAsh & Bramble might just be the most surprising book that I've read in 2015. As many of you might have discerned, I very much judge books by their covers. I almost didn't read Ash & Bramble because there is just so much awful about it. I'm not a fan of white covers, and everything going on... Just. No.
I've found myself getting slightly weary of fairy tale retellings, but Ash & Bramble is done is such a way that it is satisfactory and leaves me not minding more if it comes along. All of the characters are likable, and the story is just different enough from others that I've read that I don't mind going on the journey with Pin and Shoe. The secondary characters are just as good, and there honestly wasn't much to not like about the book.
Pin, the female lead, has a sassy, spunky personality and knows that she is perfectly capable of taking care of herself. When she was trapped in the Godmother's fortress, she did not look for rescue and devised her own escape. As she was trying to put it all into motion, she comes in touch with Shoe, who she decides to drag along for the ride. There was no instant falling in love with the two of them, and neither are looking for a Happily Ever After. The prince, Cor, comes along later in the story (he's important, but not a POV), and he does want a HEA with Pin. But have no worries - Ash & Bramble's love triangle isn't annoying. Pin mostly just refuses to participate, and Shoe just wants her to be safe and happy.
There are quite a few secondary characters that really need their own stories. I've become a huge fan of stand-alones, but Ash & Bramble could definitely use a few spin-offs. I would love to see the Huntsman, Dulcet, and other storybreakers each in their own books. I mean, Ash & Bramble wrapped up nicely, but it wouldn't be like getting blood from a turnip to churn out some more adventures in that world.
The only thing I didn't like about Ash & Bramble is how it seemed forced at times when it came to Pin being independent and able to save herself or choose whoever she wanted. I mean, I can get that the first time without it being so repetitive. I will admit that there are people that have to be beaten over the head with that idea, but I think it coming up in almost every chapter was a bit excessive.
If you're like me and a sucker for fairy tale retellings, Ash & Bramble is not an old and tired spin. I enjoyed my time in reading it, and again, I hope Prineas has more in store for us.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own....more
I really hate to leave a DNF review, as I did not finish the book, but I think it's important to talk about some of the issues that I had with CrimsoI really hate to leave a DNF review, as I did not finish the book, but I think it's important to talk about some of the issues that I had with Crimson Bound because that's what I personally look for in a review, in addition to whatever positive aspects that there may be.
I was very excited to read Crimson Bound because I loved Hodge's Cruel Beauty. As soon as I started the book, I was excited to follow Rachelle on her journey. She seemed to be a flawed and tough character like Nyx, but somewhere along the way, she lost me. I was unable to connect with her because she continuously wallowed in self-hatred (as far as I read). She reminded me a little of Katniss Everdeen, but not in a good way. Yes, Rachelle is a badass, but the wallowing... *sigh*
Another reason why I quit reading Crimson Bound is because I felt like a love triangle was coming on. Is that really the only way to create angst and conflict in romance? I'm not going to break down the way the book was written because I don't get to pick the story, but I did choose not to continue. Rachelle was already bad enough without having to deal with romantic issues.
To be fair, I did enjoy the fairy tale portion of the novel, and I won't say I'll never try to read the book again because of it. That world's mythology and setup is fascinating, but it's hard to go explore the world-building of a novel when the character is grating on your nerves. I never did get to the point where I saw any parallels between Crimson Bound and the Little Red Riding Hood story, unless Rachelle is the Big Bad Wolf. (I hope not, especially if I pick it back up.)
I'm not sure if Crimson Bound just caught me on a bad reading week or if I've gotten incredibly picky, but it just wasn't for me. I know a lot of readers are loving it, so maybe it'll work out better for some of you guys....more
I love love love to read short stories (the literary ones from college are my favorites!), but I don't think that I've ever reviewed an anthology. Since I was so intrigued by the authors and the premise of Beyond the Pale, I figured that I would give it a shot.
I have to be honest and say that I skipped some of the stories for various reasons. I know that Jim Butcher is everyone else's favorite here at Bibliophilia, Please, but I am yet to read The Dresden Files. (Before you string me, I bought them on Kindle and Audible, so Storm Front will be happening soon.) I also skipped Frost Child by Gillian Philip because I wasn't in the mood for fairies at the time. Jan Yolen's A Knot of Toads and Nancy & Belle Holder's The Adventures of Lightning Merriemouse-Jones were both passed over, as I could get into them. That being said, these stories will not factor into my overall rating of the book.
Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela Saladin Ahmed
When I took classes on Middle Eastern history, I had to read One Thousand and One Nights because a culture's fairy tales are important to their history. (If you want an in depth conversation on this, I'm down for it later.) Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela is very like the stories that Scheherazade told.
Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela was a fairy tale without a true villain, and I never felt any danger for the main character. However, I was engaged and creeped out through the end and will happily read more stories from Ahmed. 3.5/5 Stars
The Children of the Shark God Peter S. Beagle
I was a die hard fan of The Last Unicorn growing up, so I had the highest expectations of this story in regard to the rest of the collection. Thankfully, The Children of the Shark God is a story that I could walk away from and return to later because I got distracted despite the story's brevity.
The Children of the Shark God a typical "god" story where no mortal can know or understand his/her ways. What struck me as funny is that the Shark God was not the character in the story that loved unconditionally. That's not really a spoiler as gods tend to act like assholes in mythology, but it was something interesting to read.
I'm impatient, so I did get a little bored because nothing really happened except the exploration of the family dynamics between the Shark God's mortal wife, children, and himself. Of course their are supernatural/paranormal elements because, hello? God? The writing was good and I persevered. 3/5 Stars
Misery Heather Brewer
Misery was my favorite story in Beyond the Pale and resonated most strongly with me. Misery reminded me so much of depression. You can't remember life before it or how you got there, much like the characters living in the town of Misery. The eyes of the neighbors have the only colors in a world of black, white, and gray. That was pretty fucking profound. If that's not misery, nothing is. And, of course, Misery loves company.
After reading the story, I looked up the author to see what she says about the story, and I was right. I mean, there really wasn't anything else that it could've been about. 4/5 Stars
Shadow Children Heather Brewer
I was unable to sleep one night, so I pulled out the anthology and read Shadow Children
It's about the scary shadows that creep in the dark, and needless to say, there was no going back to sleep for me. 3.5/5 Stars
Red Run Kami Garcia
Red Run is the prefect example of what a short story should be like. I was on the edge of my seat, anxious to see what would happen next. Excellent ghost story! 4/5 Stars
Pale Rider Nancy Holder
Pale Rider is a bit more dystopian than paranormal at first. The world has pretty much ended, and Dana is scrambling to survive with her friends. Then Alex shows up and changes everything.
There are quite a few things that I found to be inconsistent with the story, and I was scratching my head in confusion by the end. 2.5/5 Stars
South Gillian Philip
South was a bit confusing to me at first because of the narration of the story. However, I knew exactly what the story would essentially be about as soon as I read about the water, ice, and penguins. That's how you know I read far too much urban fantasy. 3.5/5 Stars
I know my reviews were very short, but so were the stories. I did the best I could to avoid spoiling your enjoyment. That being said, I liked what I did read in Beyond the Pale, and I found some new (to me) authors that I'll be reading. If an author can successfully execute a short story, then I am very interested in seeing what they can do with a novel.
- 3.5/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance digital copy of the book from the editor in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Rhiannon Thomas' A Wicked Thing is the biggest surprise for me so far in 2015. The story follows Aurora, the sleeping beauty, one hundred years after she fell asleep. It was handled in a way that surprised me (see, I said it again) because I was expecting a sappy romance or something with a lot of self-hatred because of the alleged wickedness. Then again, it may because I've read a really wonderful Sleeping Beauty retelling, and I was afraid that it would never compare. (It was different enough that it did.)
I spent the majority of the novel feeling very terrible for Princess Aurora. She wakes up to a complete stranger kissing her, and then finds out all that she knows and loves is gone. Though it's been a hundred years for the rest of the world, it only seems that she's just fallen asleep. Then she's expected to be married to her stranger within three weeks, being locked in her bedroom by the "new" queen in the meantime. She has no idea who to reach out to because she does not know anyone, understand the current political atmosphere, or have any idea who it is she is to trust. Thank Bob she is not a sniveling fool like many princesses in distress can be.
I would not call A Wicked Thing romance at all because though it is based on Sleeping Beauty, it is most definitely not a girl waiting on her prince to rescue her. Aurora is not anxiously awaiting her Happily Ever After. She wants to get her bearings and make her own life into whatever she wishes it to be. And for the record, Prince Rodric (who woke her up) is wonderful, and if she ends up with him at the end of the series, I'll be delighted. And don't start thinking there's a love triangle because I said that - yes, she likes another boy, but there's no instalove or needing to choose. A Wicked Thing is all about Aurora.
Speaking of other characters, they were not two-dimensional or just there to advance the plot. I was so interested in Queen Iris, Prince Rodric, Prince Finnegan, Tristan, and Nettle, that I would be happy to read a novella or anything from any of their points of view - especially Queen Iris. She was a bit of a villain, but she absolutely had reason to be the way that she was. Finnegan and Tristan aren't necessarily my favorite people either, for various reasons, but I'd like to find out more about them.
As for the world-building in A Wicked Thing, it seems a bit like the generic fantasy world in fairy tales, except that the magic is missing. Everyone is hoping that Aurora's awakening will bring it back. I do wonder a bit on how that would work out because people who are accused of having magic are...well...you should read the book.
I went into A Wicked Thing thinking it may be a standalone, but I'm not sad that there will be more books about Aurora and her new world. I can't wait to see what becomes of her, her magic, and the other characters.
- 4/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own....more
Fairy tale retellings are some of my favorite things to read, and I'm pretty sure that middle grade versions of these are the best. That being said, The Wishing Spell did not disappoint. Many childhood favorite fairy tales are prominent in the so-called Land of Stories, and the book was a fun way to find out what happened to the main characters of those stories after their happily ever afters.
The basis of The Wishing Spell is Alex and Conner Bailey being trapped in the Land of Stories and they are travelling the land looking for ingredients for the Wishing Spell in order to get back home. They are as different as day and night - Alex is a brainiac loner who is the model child and student, and Conner is a bit of a slacker with a lot of friends - and forced to work together in order to get home. Unfortunately, it's not the easiest task and to make things more difficult, they are not the only ones looking for the necessary items.
The twins were fun to read about, but it was the side characters from the Land of Stories that stole the show. Goldilocks is a wanted criminal who has been on the lam for years since the bear incident. Little Red Riding Hood is a spoiled queen who fawns over and is in love with the one man she cannot have. The Evil Queen (Snow White's stepmother) had a bit more backstory that really kept me on my toes, and there's not much that I like more than a villain with some depth.
At first I was a little leery of Colfer voicing his own novel until I remembered that he's also an actor and singer. (I don't watch Glee, so that wasn't at the forefront of my mind.) I didn't really like his voice at first, but he really was best for the novel because he sounds like a child himself. There is also something special about an author reading his or her own work because they know the nuances of the language and each character best.
The Wishing Spell was a really cute book, and I'll probably continue with the series. There is nothing like cleansing the palate with a middle grade fairy story after all of the dystopia and science fiction novels that I read.
I absolutely adore fairy tales and happily ever after stories, so Just Ella was the perfect book to feed my interest. Just Ella is about Princess Ariella, who wants to be more than just a princess in a castle. She was curious about the world outside of the walls and was always trying to sneak away to see how her servants or the common people lived. She reminded me of two Disney princesses: Ariel from The Little Mermaid and Cinderella from her namesake film. I suppose that may have been an intentional reminder as Ariella's name is a portmanteau. Not that it really matters - she prefers "just Ella".
I loved the interactions between Ariella and her family a lot in Just Ella. In a lot of stories about teenage girls, you don't see a lot of positive familial relationships because too much of the story focuses on the romance. Yes, her parents were fairly strict, but it was obvious that they did what they did in order to protect her. Additionally, her quarreling with her sisters was very realistic and never too mean.
Another positive aspect of the novel was the love interest, Gavin. He was always a perfect gentleman and never seemed condescending about it. (It often happens in books that the love interest lies or does other less than noble things for the heroine's "own good". I see that as very condescending.) His feelings read as being very genuine, and I liked his personality.
The one thing that I had a problem with was the fact that Ariella was very naive. Now, I realize that she was a young girl, but there are some instances where she has no idea what's what. For instance, if you're a young girl (especially a princess), you don't want to be running around by yourself in the woods if you've only been outside a few times. Going into the water by yourself when you don't know how to swim - she's all alone - is also a terrible idea. This was just a minor issue, but enough of one that it was noticeable.
Just Ella is a very sweet book and deserves all the hype that it's been receiving lately for being a good, clean read. I enjoyed reading a fairy tale romance that I know will be something that my daughter could read, too. If you enjoy fairy tales and/or clean romances, I recommend Just Ella.
- 3.5/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the novel from the author through Book Blast Tours in exchange for an unbiased review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me. ...more
I'm typing sentences, deleting them, and attempting to write more. I don't know what to really say except that Burning Girls left me speechless. I staI'm typing sentences, deleting them, and attempting to write more. I don't know what to really say except that Burning Girls left me speechless. I started reading the story without reading any reviews or the words italicized at the start. It was on Tor.Com - what else did I need to know?
What I found in Burning Girls was a striking mixture of witchcraft, Judaic mythology, fairy tale, history, and feminism. The more I read, the more I was sucked in by the writing of Veronica Schanoes. She weaved the above-mentioned elements into her world flawlessly and held me helplessly ensnared in it. By the time I reached the end, my skin crawled and was covered with chill bumps.
Veronica Schanoes' Burning Girls is a story you should put aside an hour for, and she is definitely a writer whose future works I will be impatiently waiting to read....more