When Dead of Winter suddenly came to an end, I'm not going to lie—I was really worried about my OTP. You see, I'm very decidedly on Team Death, but EvWhen Dead of Winter suddenly came to an end, I'm not going to lie—I was really worried about my OTP. You see, I'm very decidedly on Team Death, but Evie had just spurned Aric's love, choosing to ride off to meet Jack and his Azey army. But then Richter, the Emperor Card, made his move... and everything changed yet again. Arcana Rising launches readers back into the story immediately after that climatic ending. Circe unleashes a powerful tidal wave to combat Richter's lava, and in the chaos, Evie is swept away and separated from her allies.
Unsure if Aric or Jack survived the crossfire, Evie pours all her focus into reaching Fort Arcana, where Tess can reverse time and save everyone she loves. It's the only thought that consumes Evie's mind. Because if Jack is truly dead, she doesn't know how much longer she can resist the red witch, the murderous, bloodthirsty form of the Empress. All she can do is lock away her grief and anguish before it threatens to tear her apart.
I felt so sad to see Evie hurting so much, but at the same time, I was so ready for her to embrace her abilities and spill some blood. Although she's never wanted to take any lives in the Arcana game, Evie vows that vengeance will be hers against Richter. The Arcana players are getting stronger the longer the game plays out, but Evie still has much to learn. She needs more knowledge about her past lives as the Empress. She needs more power. And only Evie's grandmother, a Tarasova and wisewoman of the Tarot, can give her guidance in the safety of Death's impenetrable stronghold.
Arcana Rising is an addictive, thrilling addition to the Arcana Chronicles! My pulse was constantly racing, unsure of what to expect next and if more Arcana would meet a violent end. No one is safe in this post-apocalyptic world North America has become, and friends can become foes in an instant. We're another step closer to confronting Richter, but Arcana Rising also leaves us asking more questions too. What is Matthew, the Fool, planning? Who are the Minor Arcana and what role do they still have left to play? And, most importantly, how could the book just end with that revelation!?! I need The Dark Calling right now.
** I received an ebook from Sullivan + Partners in exchange for an honest review. **...more
Kerri Maniscalco's Stalking Jack the Ripper is one of those books where I got really excited about its release, yet once it was actually in my hands,Kerri Maniscalco's Stalking Jack the Ripper is one of those books where I got really excited about its release, yet once it was actually in my hands, I hesitated to start it. It's been sitting on my bookshelf for months since then, but I finally picked it up the other night, in the mood for something historical to read. And maybe a part of me understood why I didn't need to read it right away because Stalking Jack the Ripper ended up disappointing me...
Audrey Rose Wadsworth has a very unusual interest for a girl who's the daughter of a wealthy lord: she loves to study forensic science. Against her father's wishes, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to help him cut open cadavers and find the cause of death. But when an investigation into a grisly string of murders hits close to home, Audrey finds herself searching for clues and answers too.
I thought Stalking Jack the Ripper just tried too hard to impress me. It tried to offer a strong, independent heroine who defied social conventions. It tried to have dash of romance with someone who could appreciate her deviation from traditional gender roles. It tried to lead me astray from guessing the true culprit of the terrible murders. But none of it really worked.
I enjoyed the book's vivid and very gruesome descriptions of the crime scenes. Slit throats, missing organs, intestines exposed—it was macabre and very shocking. Audrey was really interested in studying the details and breaking down how the murders may have occurred. And by using techniques from the late Victorian period, which is when the novel is set, it just made the story all the more believable.
But the farther I progressed in reading Stalking Jack the Ripper, the more I became frustrated with Audrey. How could someone so smart be so utterly stupid? Jack the Ripper has made London his hunting ground and Audrey has the bright idea to walk the streets at night all alone! That's not being brave and independent—it's just reckless and lacking common sense. And if Audrey is a highborn lady, isn't some sort of maid or footman always supposed to accompany her?
And I thought it was kind of annoying that Audrey felt it necessary to repeat that she liked pretty dresses just like other girls and not just cutting open cadavers to study them, an interest that would've only been acceptable for men back then. Was it an attempt to make her more likeable? More feminist? Because that effort was kind of ruined when Audrey has tea with her cousin's friends a couple chapters later and then thinks they're empty airheads just because they like to gossip. Audrey could be so condescending at times.
The romance in Stalking Jack the Ripper didn't exactly make me swoon either. It was really nice that Thomas just happened to be Audrey's uncle's brilliant student, someone who shared her passion for forensic science. He was really flirty and forward, not really caring for propriety. He kind of reminded me of Sherlock Holmes, able to deduce information from details no else would've normally noticed. But I dunno, I just didn't really feel any strong chemistry between them, even when they inevitably kissed.
I had really hoped I'd fall in love with Kerri Maniscalco's YA debut Stalking Jack the Ripper, but it just didn't quite meet my expectations. I guess once my mind is made up that I'm not a fan of the main characters, I just find it harder to enjoy a novel since I start seeing flaws. Audrey and Thomas acted a little too modern for my taste. And even though my suspicion about who was Jack the Ripper turned out to be right, there were still some twists that took me aback! Considering just how much I enjoyed the mystery/horror aspects, I might still consider reading the sequel, Hunting Prince Dracula, this fall.
** I received an ARC from Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for an honest review. **...more
Ever since I first heard that Meagan Spooner's Hunted was a "Beauty and the Beast" retelling, I've been so excited to read it. I love it when an authoEver since I first heard that Meagan Spooner's Hunted was a "Beauty and the Beast" retelling, I've been so excited to read it. I love it when an author breathes new life into a beloved fairy tale, making it fresh and unique, but still familiar at its core. Hunted actually blends "Beauty and the Beast" with a Russian fairy tale called "Tsarevich Ivan, the Firebird and the Gray Wolf", one I had no prior knowledge of reading, which made me all the more intrigued about this retelling.
When Yeva's merchant father loses their entire fortune, her family moves to his old, abandoned hunted lodge far on the outskirts of town. The small lodge is a far cry from their privileged life in genteel society, but Yeva is secretly relieved. She's never been satisfied in town, always feeling a deep, restless yearning in her heart for the forest her father taught his young Beauty to hunt in as a child. But after her father disappears in the woods one day, Yeva sets out to find him, leading her to a ruined castle and a terrifying creature simply called the Beast.
For all its lovely prose and gorgeous descriptions of the wintry landscape and the ruined castle that lies in the Beast's territory, the plot for Hunted seemed to drag for me. The pacing was slow and not much seemed to really happen, despite the long length of the book. When Yeva wasn't hunting or training with the Beast for a purpose he couldn't say, her feelings were torn between her desire for vengeance or her tentative friendship with the mysterious Beast. I guess you could call it a slow-burn romance, but I say that very loosely. Yeva's not exactly one for romantic notions. I was actually much more curious about what would break the enchantment cursed upon the Beast, and how he lost his humanity in the first place.
I just wished there was more conflict or drama in the story. Yeva's two eldest sisters are genuinely nice and caring, rather than being shallow and selfish like in the fairy tale. And even Yeva's potential suitor is actually a good match for her, someone who is considerate, accepts her love of hunting, and would provide a good home for her. He was no awful Gaston, that's for sure. But with everyone being so nice, it was actually kind of, well, boring. And the ending! It was unexpectedly anti-climatic. The pacing finally began to pick up with frenetic urgency for Yeva to return to the Beast and help him... and then it was all over within a few pages. I'm not even sure I fully understood what happened.
Honestly, I liked Meagan Spooner's Hunted, but I was still left feeling rather disappointed in this YA fairy tale retelling. The flowing style of writing may have been perfect for weaving together the fairy tale aspects, but with such little conflict for a fantasy, the book simply didn't leave a deep impression on me....more
I suddenly find myself wishing there were more YA books featuring pirates because I absolutely loved Tricia Levenseller's debut Daughter of the PirateI suddenly find myself wishing there were more YA books featuring pirates because I absolutely loved Tricia Levenseller's debut Daughter of the Pirate King! Danger and thrills. A search for an ancient treasure map. A seafaring adventure with ruthless pirates. Daughter of the Pirate King was addictive, entertaining, and ridiculously fun. I fell in love with Alosa and the book within the first chapter, utterly captivated, and then wished I would never run out of pages to read.
Seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa has been sent on a mission to retrieve one of three pieces of an ancient map that will lead to the legendary Isla de Canta, an island believed to be guarded by sirens and filled with untold treasure. Staging her own capture by the cruel pirate captain Draxen and his crew, Alosa just needs to endure being a prisoner and avoid arousing suspicion for a fortnight so she can secretly search their ship, the Night Farer.
Draxen believes he can ransom the beautiful daughter of the renowned and feared pirate king, unaware Alosa is not a woman to be underestimated. But his brother and first mate, Riden, is much more bright and perceptive. He knows Alosa is hiding something, that there's more to her than meets the eye. And Alosa keeps pretending to escape, playing the part of an unwilling captive, when really, she wants to stay on their ship. As they both try to outwit each other, the chemistry and romance heats up until you just want them to kiss, kiss, kiss.
Alosa reminded me of a pirate version of Celaena Sardothien from Sarah J. Maas's Throne of Glass series. She's cocky and confident, but she totally has the deadly skills to back it up. She'll slit throats with a dagger or stab her enemies with a sword one moment, and then complain about ruined tailored clothes another. I loved her so much. And while she's got not qualms stealing or killing, there are still some lines she doesn't cross. A pirate's life is never safe, but she does what she can to protect her loyal crew and those she cares about.
I highly recommend Daughter of the Pirate King to fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies or fantasy lovers just wanting to have some swashbuckling good fun. Alosa's antics were often hilarious as she downplayed her capabilities, stirred up some trouble, and tried to "escape" the Night Farer. And when her stubbornness or defiance got her hurt, I couldn't wait to see how she would retaliate. Alosa doesn't make idle threats. When she says you're a dead man, she really means it. And now I absolutely can't wait to see what daring adventures are in store for Alosa, Riden, and her crew in the sequel!...more
Julia spies. Julia steals. Julia vanishes. In the first installment of the Witch's Child trilogy, Catherine Egan introduces readers to the kingdom ofJulia spies. Julia steals. Julia vanishes. In the first installment of the Witch's Child trilogy, Catherine Egan introduces readers to the kingdom of Frayne, where magic is forbidden and witches are condemned to death by drowning in public Cleansings. I don't know about you, but Julia Vanishes was one of those books I'd heard virtually nothing about until I sat down and read it. I didn't even realize it was a fantasy book at first! I might have been a little confused initially, but it wasn't too long before I found my bearings and eagerly turned the pages, utterly enthralled by this gritty fantasy world.
Julia has a curious ability to be unseen. It's not that she becomes invisible, but rather, she enters another plane of existence just beyond everyone else's senses. It's a handy gift when you're a thief and spy, especially when Julia's mysterious employer has sent her to the grand home of Mrs. Och to collect information on its peculiar inhabitants. Posing as a housemaid, Julia soon realizes she's entered a house of carefully guarded secrets...
Cynical and disillusioned, there are only three things Julia truly cares about: Dek, her older brother; Wyn, her first love; and money. Maybe that's why she loves her life of crime so much—it pays well. Julia can never forget the hardship she and her brother faced after their mother suddenly died and their father disappeared, and she'll forever be grateful to Esme for taking them in. Life is far from boring for Julia and her family of criminals and misfits, but she may just be in over her head this time, for she's unwittingly been swept into a power struggle between ancient beings who are more myth than memory.
Fraught with danger and intrigue, I'm absolutely glad I took a chance on Catherine Egan's Julia Vanishes. And I have a very warm feeling the sequel will be even better, digging so much more into the rich lore and world-building that this book has just scratched on the surface. We're just on the cusp of reaching something that could be truly epic in the future! If you love anything involving YA fantasy, magic, and witches, then you'll definitely want to add Catherine Egan's Julia Vanishes to your TBR.
** I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. **...more