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. (less)
The Kiss of Deception is a YA epic fantasy by Mary E. Pearson with a strong heroine and a great journey story. Princess Arabella Celestine Idris Jezelia, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan (and main character of the book) chooses her own life as just "Lia" than the one planned out for her.
The Kiss of Deception reminds me of Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword more than any other book that I have ever read. Lia is like Harry Crewe in that she does not allow her situation to overwhelm her and does what is necessary for herself and her people. I rooted for her throughout the novel, even though I did not agree with some of her choices.
You know how I said this was an epic fantasy? Well, I mean business. The Kiss of Deception's finished copy is 544 pages long. However, the large size should not dissuade any reader because it can easily be read one chapter at a time. (They average about 10-15 pages each.) There are not many cliffhanger chapter endings or events that move too quickly, so reluctant readers who like fantasy television shows (no name-dropping, kids) will enjoy reading The Kiss of Deception at their leisure.
Before you start thinking that The Kiss of Deception won't draw you in, you're wrong. Just because you're not at the edge of your seat does NOT mean that you will lose interest.
The Kiss of Deception does have a bit of romance, but it's a very realistic, slow build. It's also clean. I suppose that I should tell you that, yes, there is a love triangle, but I think it's necessary for the story. (You won't hear me say that very often.) I'm neither "Team Kaden" or "Team Rafe" because both guys have their positive points, and they are well-constructed and sympathetic. I will be happy with whichever guy that Lia ends up with at the end of the series.
The world-building in The Kiss of Deception was epic. (Yes, I already used that word a few times, but it fits, okay?) There are three countries mentioned a great deal in the world of this book - Venda, Dalbreck, and Morrighan - and they're all described in a way that makes them seem very real. Anywho, these three countries exist in a post-apocalyptic world, though it's not really ever said outright whether it's our world or another. There are characters from each of the three, and the characters travel in two of them. I won't tell you which ones or why because Spoilers. (view spoiler)[Just kidding, I'm really not telling. (hide spoiler)]
The Kiss of Deception is a fantastic book that is probably my favorite so far this summer. In fact, you should head to your local library or bookstore to pick up a copy. I promise you'll thank me later.
- 5/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book for reviewing purposes from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Oh dear Bob, The Heiresses... What can I say? I've never read anything by Shepard before, but I was sold on the premise alone. (I found out the author's bio and stuff later.) Was it what I expected? Oh yes, and so much more. Drama, betrayal, mystery, and hot mess fills this book as well as any daytime soap opera or copy of Star. The Heiresses is delicious, delicious trash, and I loved every second of it.
Okay, I don't know if this is on purpose, but this family shares the last name as one of the main characters on the one-time soap opera, One Life to Live. (It's not important why I know this, so don't judge me.) That was on the forefront of my mind when I started reading The Heiresses because I knew a "Saybrooke" that had some drama going on, too!
I knew going into the book that Poppy was going to die. However, I found myself really getting attached to her as her character was developed. She seemed to be the glue that was holding the family and her cousins together, despite all of the family drama. I loved the way she made Rowan, Aster, Corinne, and Natasha feel special despite all of the crappy stuff going on in their lives. And then she dies. I was wondering why it was so important to have so much of her in the book at first, and then... BUMBUMBUM! Maybe there was more to Poppy going on than meets the eye. *raises eyebrow*
The other Saybrook girls that are important to the story are: Rowan, a lawyer for her family's business and tomboy who is secretly in lurve with someone she shouldn't be; Corinne, the perfectionist, foreign rights (or whatever) contact for Saybrook Diamonds, and the token non-strikingly beautiful person; Natasha, the person who gave everything up to get out of the family; and Aster, the poor little rich girl who has to get a job since daddy cut off her allowance for partying too much. I liked Rowan and Aster a lot, even though they both did some pretty wretched things. But what heiress doesn't have their scandal?
The world-building in The Heiresses consists of fancy houses in New York City and "the Vineyard", the swanky company building on Fifth Avenue, and really really awesome clothes that I would like to borrow, please and thank you. There are also some restaurants that are mentioned in showing how rich the Saybrooks are that I would like to eat at. It's fun fluff to go around the delicious trash that I mentioned earlier.
Yes, I've called The Heiresses "trash", but only in the very best way. It's a guilty pleasure that I enjoyed immensely and possessed the same spark of something special that kept soap operas on the air for so many years. If you're a lover of chick lit, gossip magazines, or celebrity watching, I have a feeling that you'll love The Heiresses.
- 3.5/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the novel from the publisher through TLC Book 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.(less)
First things first, I want to disclose that I've been past my teenage years longer than I was a teenager. Therefore, Jennifer Mathieu's debut, The Truth About Alice, didn't really affect me greatly like most of the reviews that I've seen. Or maybe it was because I went to school in a small town like Healy with a bunch of catty people and found myself just saying, "Yep, that's pretty much what happens." However, the longer it took me to write this review, the more I "got" the novel.
The Truth About Alice is told through several different points of view. Elaine is one of the most popular girls in school and was on-again/off-again with Brandon Fitzsimmons. Josh was Brandon's wide receiver and best friend. Kelsie is on the edge of popularity and was Alice Franklin's best friend up until the infamous party at Elaine's. Kurt is the smart kid that exists outside of social circles and lived next door to Brandon from kindergarten. These characters take turns telling how their town slaps a scarlet letter on Alice and what their parts are in her social downfall. They are also able to tell a story about bullying at its very finest. (Please note the sarcasm there.)
This book is absolutely about bullying and what happens when no one steps forward to stop it, but it also shows the pain of teenagers and the difficult time they have expressing and venting their problems in a proper outlet. All of the characters who have points of view in The Truth About Alice are hurting to some extent over the death of Brandon. They are also unwilling to take ownership of what they themselves have done wrong and project those issues onto Alice and punish her for their conflicts. I won't say more, but any one of the teens in this book, or a parent, could have stepped in and headed this off
As for the story itself and the writing, it did drag for me a bit. I did not have an emotional connection with any of the characters, but I think I felt the most for Kelsie. I understand a lot of her pain and where she is coming from because I had a friend like her. I pitied her. I also didn't feel that anyone in this book was a villain. They said and did some pretty rotten things, but I don't feel like they had enough emotional maturity to understand the scope of how they allowed the situation to get out of hand.
I think The Truth About Alice can remind us older people of what it was like to be a teenager, and it shows young people that they are not alone. I think reading this book can remind all of us how important it is to show kindness to everyone, no matter if they are being mistreated by the majority of people. The Truth About Alice isn't the easiest book to read because of the situation, but I think teenagers and their parents will do well to pick it up.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book for reviewing purposes from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.(less)
I just don't know right now. I'm trying to sort through my feelings. I was so attached to these kids, and I kind of want to go hug my daughter. Full r...moreI just don't know right now. I'm trying to sort through my feelings. I was so attached to these kids, and I kind of want to go hug my daughter. Full review to come.(less)