“We must go to the Otherworld, of course. Not quite what it used to be. It dwindles with humanity’s imagination, so I suspect it is currently the size of a closet. Or perhaps a shoe box.”
I absolutely loved this book! I wish I had been able to read it when I was a kid. It would have opened my eyes to a mythology completely different from any others I knew (it still did, it would have just been…nice to have it earlier in life). Aru is completely relatable, even though her situation is far and away from my own in some respects. I got a real Percy Jackson vibe, but it didn’t feel at all like a copycat. Hopefully that makes sense to my fellow readers!
This book isn’t only educational but EXTREMELY entertaining. I found myself snickering quite a few times and laughing out loud at least once. I love the pot shots Roshani takes at current issues/politics.
“This is what we get for thinking that scaly orange skin and fake hair could keep that former demon out of elected office!”
It’s not all fun and games though, as Aru and her friends soon discover…the lives of everyone they care about really are at stake, and not all are as they seem…
“Villains could be heroic, and heroes could do evil…everyone has a bit of good and bad in them.”
Basically this whole book is quotable, and I want to scoop Aru up into a hug (that she probably wouldn’t appreciate). So eager to read the next one!
Warning: Possible spoilers for the first two books in this series (but not this one)!
A Treacherous Curse is the third book in the Veronica Speedwell series, and there is so much development and we learn so much more about the main characters. I absolutely loved it! This is a continuous series, so you definitely need to read the first book, A Curious Beginning, and the second, A Perilous Undertaking, to be able to jump into this one.
Our main squeezes are back, and in stellar form per usual. This time though, we are plunged headfirst into Stoker’s backstory. FINALLY!!! I have been absolutely dying to know what happened in Brazil to make him so bitter and so hurt and scarred…and we FINALLY get to find out. It was just as gritty and heartbreaking as I expected it to be…I was actually sitting on our couch reading, curled in a ball with one hand clamped over my mouth (my husband was slightly concerned). Veronica is still trying to get over what happened in the previous book…which she will not talk about, with anyone, but which bothers her VERY much. For those who need a refresher… (view spoiler)[…she and Stoker had finally made it to kissing (albeit while under the influence of opium, used for chasing a lead in their case, naturally), and IN THE MIDDLE of kissing her, he moaned his ex-wife’s name. Phew! Talk about a mood killer. But the next day, he acted like he didn’t remember anything at all happening and of course she was too mortified to mention it! (hide spoiler)]. Somehow they still manage to be friends and partners but it’s all been very tense.
The mystery here was interesting but to me secondary to the character development. I was intrigued to see how Deanna would handle the egyptology angle, as that is one aspect of the Victorian era that seems to be worked over A LOT in mysteries. I’m happy to say that it was quite well done! Nothing particularly novel, but again the character development really took control here as we were introduced to some of the archaeologists leading the expedition in question, along with their families. I didn’t figure out the culprit until near the actual end, which I loved. I hate it when I’ve figured a mystery out way before the characters!
5/5 stars. A Treacherous Curse is a solid continuation of the storyline in this series and I am so excited for the next book!
3.5/5 stars. The Burning Chambers is the first in Kate~*Check out all my reviews over on The Bent Bookworm!*~
"Kill them all. God will know His own."
3.5/5 stars. The Burning Chambers is the first in Kate Mosse’s new series, set in a similar historical time period as her earlier series, but this time entirely in France during the bloody wars between French Huguenots and Catholics. This book started out reeeeeeeally slow. So slow that, had I not been given a review copy, I probably would have put it down indefinitely. However, the description was excellent and so was the writing, it was just…so much. Also SUCH a huge cast of characters! There was a three page list of characters at the very beginning (which honestly terrified me before I even started reading). A lot of focus was on the religious conflict, too, which I found kind of off-putting but I understand that it was a HUGE part of life at that time, and was the motivating factor for a lot of the characters’ actions. There was SO MUCH double-crossing in this story...it made my head spin at times, trying to figure out who was on what side and who was a spy and who was playing both sides!
The story is centered around Minou and to a lesser extent Piet, but there are so many chapters from such a variety of people it was rather mind boggling. Minou is great and I loved that she acted demure enough to blend in seamlessly in the current French society no matter where she was…but beneath all that “proper-ness” was a backbone of steel and GOD HELP ANYONE who tried to hurt her loved ones. Phew.
Piet is a good, steady man with a heart of gold and again the backbone of steel. Despite getting something of the short end of the stick in life, he is still unwilling to believe the worst of people (something that comes back to bite him in the behind). I liked him, but I wasn’t swooning over him. I guess I prefer more of the bad-boy/wounded hero type. He’s just too…nice? (What kind of a person does this thought make me…)
However, all that said, my favorite character was Minou’s little brother. HE is going to grow up to be just the sort of bad-boy-with-a-cause I can get behind, I just know it! The most INTERESTING character is actually the villainess, but the interest of spoilers I’ll leave it at that.
The Huguenots (Protestants) and the Catholics of 16th century France hate each other for various reasons, and those with no strong religious sensibilities want only to profit from war. Minou’s father has been keeping some dark family secret, Minou receives a vaguely threatening letter…and she is oblidged to leave her beloved Carcassonne for the “safety” of Toulouse, which turns out to not be safe at all.
I really thought this would be more of a historical thriller than it was. As it turned out it was much more of a political/social commentary for the first 75%, with a insta-love sort of romance thrown in. It was sweet, but seemed QUITE unfounded…however, ignoring that little issue, the last quarter of the book really picked up the pace and made me MUCH more invested in the characters and their story, as everyone actually came together instead of being scattered all across the map.
3.5/5 stars, rounded up. The last quarter really saved the book, and I’m hoping all the meandering and emphasis on the societal aspects of the Huguenot/Catholic wars was setup for the future books in the series, which I will definitely be reading!
I love Beauty and the Beast retellings. LOVE. I’m slightly obsessed with that particular story arc/plo~*Review first appeared on The Bent Bookworm!*~
I love Beauty and the Beast retellings. LOVE. I’m slightly obsessed with that particular story arc/plot and love seeing the different spins authors put on it. I think part of it is because I absolutely adore castles, and COME ON who hasn’t been obsessed with the Beast’s library?
When I first read the blurb for this one, I got super excited – and then read a very negative review (by a reviewer I usually agree with and whom I really respect), which made my toes curl…butbutbutbut it was Beauty and the Beast! So I decided to give it a shot anyway, and lo and behold I was approved for an ARC. I’m so glad now that I didn’t let one review decide whether or not I would read the book. While of course no two people are going to feel exactly the same and the reviewer was perfectly professional and within rights to feel as they did, I personally felt the book was lovely!
^This is pretty much EXACTLY how I picture the Beast’s castle as written in this book! – photo from Boredom Therapy
This book surprised me by how closely it follows the original. Of course it is not exact, but it has many more similarities than most of the adaptations I’ve read. It is set in old France, in the 18th-ish century. Isabeau i.e., Belle, is the youngest daughter of a merchant with three daughters. The beast, cursed for an undetermined amount of time, has spent years wandering the woods around his cursed castle and later within the castle itself, attempting to claw his way back to some guise of humanity.
I looked down at my hideous, beastly paws. Thickly furred on the back; black, leathery palms; and those terrible claws I could not sheate. I was overcome with shame. Who am I to love such a one as her? Just as quickly, my shame turned to anger. My talons sunk into the back of the chair. My heart is human! I cried in my mind.
The magic of the story is rather different, as there are no talking candlesticks or clocks and no Mrs. Potts (so sad), but the Beast’s house definitely has a mind and life of its own and is indeed very magical…more on that later.
First of all, the Beast. He’s a very sympathetic character, though a flawed one. He was cursed by a faery who had a long history with his family, and cursed NOT for being evil, but for another reason that you’ll have to read to find out. He is very…well, mopey. Which is really quite understandable given the circumstances, but sometimes I did want to shake him. He recognizes, too, that his manipulation and threatening of Isabeau’s father was wrong and cruel, and he is sorry for it, but as Isabeau later tells him,
“Desperate men do desperate things.”
The Beast definitely grows and changes throughout the story, as he does in the original and most retellings. His woe-is-me attitude sometimes crept in and made him annoying, but overall I liked him.
Isabeau is your typical Belle, except – and I can’t quite forgive this – she is NOT as obsessed with books as my idea of Belle always is! In fact, she declares that she doesn’t quite know what she is good at or what she really enjoys, as her last few years have been spent just trying to make ends meet and help her sisters and father out of the deep depression they collectively fell into after the demise of their father’s fortune. Oy. She remains mostly the same through the book, except of course she comes to see the Beast in a very different light by the end.
Isabeau’s father and sisters were rather different than any portrayal of them that I’ve read, as well. I didn’t particularly like any of them except the oldest sister, but they provided a nice contrast.
The Iffy Stuff
The negative review I read said the Beast was essentially a voyeur and that was a large part of the reviewer’s problem with the book. So, I went into this expecting him to basically be a peeping Tom, mainly on Isabeau. Which wasn’t really what happened at all. Again, YMMV and of course if it bothers someone they should say so! However…the so-called voyeurism occurs at the behest of the Beast’s magic mirror, which is part of his house’s magic. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t – and not always when he wants it to. The book DOES use the mirror A LOT to let the reader see perspectives other than the Beast’s, which is effective but given that he is seeing everything that we are, is kind of…odd. But then, what exactly is normal about his circumstances? He’s much, much older than anyone else still living. His house magically manifests food and clothes. His lands are in all four seasons at once. What’s a magic mirror added to all that? Also, the fact that sometimes it just shuts him off made a difference to me. Sometimes, even when he desperately wants to see something, the mirror says no.
Overall, 4/5 stars. I wish I had been a little more invested in Isabeau and the Beast’s romance, but it was still very sweet and they are both very likeable characters. I loved the descriptions of the old, crumbling yet magical castle and grounds. I especially loved how the Fairy’s relationship to the Beast’s family, particularly his grandmother, was revealed. I’ll definitely be getting a copy of this for my shelf!
------------------------------------ I have so many thoughts about this book. Also I'm conflicted about whether to count this as a 2018 or 2019 release because I got a copy of the ARC for the US version, which releases this month, but it came out in the UK last year...anyway, full RTC!...more
I was expecting a much longer build-up and story, but A Coastal Christmas turned out to be a super short little novellaWell, that escalated quickly.
I was expecting a much longer build-up and story, but A Coastal Christmas turned out to be a super short little novella that I read in less than forty-five minutes - perfect if you want something sweet and quick! Just not so perfect if you want something very believable, in my opinion. There is much Christmas cheer for everyone, and a sweet little homey-feeling town. The characters aren't very well fleshed out, but that is more due to the length of the story than the author's writing, I think. Jessica and Dean connect on purely a physical level...even though the author has tried to tie in something more to the story, it really just felt like grasping at straws and I think to try to give them a HEA was just a little much. Nothing wrong with a holiday fling! And Jessica definitely needed a good rebound after her boyfriend's antics on LIVE TELEVISION no less. Sometimes it takes another person to jolt us back into ourselves and what we really want out of life. In Jessica's case, she suddenly realizes that maybe she's not as in love with the big city life as she once was.
3/5 stars. Writing was good, the story was just really too short for the author to do the characters and theme justice. I'll be keeping an eye out for future books by Kaya Quinsey!
Celia Aaron is a new-to-me author, and I was intrigued by the synopsis of the title story. Then I read the rest, because I'm something of a completionCelia Aaron is a new-to-me author, and I was intrigued by the synopsis of the title story. Then I read the rest, because I'm something of a completionist. *tries to hide the very large stack of unfinished book series behind her*
4/5 stars. This was adorable. Short, cute, sexy, and different enough to keep me reading. I love that Adeline was a successful businesswoman - with a bakery! - that didn't take shit from anyone, but she still had a soft, sweet side for people. Of course there was insta-love but this is a novella, so there kind of had to be! The sexy factor is ON POINT in this one too...phew. I liked Ezra, and the fact that while yes he was insanely hot he still had some imperfections (more in personality than appearance, but still).
A Cowboy for Christmas
3/5 stars. This one was just a little too corny for my taste. I guess I'm just not a cowgirl? Or maybe the characters just weren't fleshed out enough for me. Even though they had known each other for a long time, they didn't really know each other (and I don't mean sexually, hehe), and there were a lot of misunderstandings and assumptions they had to clear away. Good, but not as good as the first story. It does have a bit of a mystery that is the catalyst for bringing the main characters together.
2.5/5 stars. I eye-rolled pretty hard through this one. The premise is basically that the couple (Olive and Hank) had a crush on each other in high school but neither ever had the courage to speak up. Now as adults, Olive has lost her chubbiness and become a super-hot yoga instructor (Hank swears he was infatuated with her as much then as now but was that really necessary??), and Hank owns a candy store but has the body of an Olympic swimmer.
A Stepbrother for Christmas
2.5/5 stars. Content warning accompanied this one: contains possible triggers for those sensitive to dub-con play. Fair enough. I'd never read anything featuring this sort of relationship, and I guess maybe it's just not for me? But aside from that, I really felt the amount of hate/loathing Anna had for Niles in the beginning disappeared WAY too quickly to be believable, even if they had known each other for years. Maybe I'm just salty and jaded though, too.
Overall 3/5 star rating. Would DEFINITELY recommend the first story for a cute holiday tale, the rest if you're bored and like quick steamy stories. ;)
I was so excited for this novella! I felt like the plotline was going to be super relatable and cute, as I have for years been in love with my own graI was so excited for this novella! I felt like the plotline was going to be super relatable and cute, as I have for years been in love with my own grandparents' farm that was sold out of the family a few years ago. Unfortunately, I couldn't love this execution of the idea.
First of all, the dialogue is horribly stilted and not at all how people talk - especially not people from rural Appalachia! Not that I'm asking for an attempt at vernacular, but maybe just normal American style speaking? Especially in the first couple of chapters it's as if the characters have never heard of contractions and the result is so awkward. I tried reading some of the dialogue out loud, wondering if maybe it was just my inward eye being judgy, but nope. It sounds just as bad out loud.
One of the redeeming features - and pretty much the ONLY reason I gave the story 3 stars instead of 2 - is Justin's relationship with his much younger sister Marley, now under his guardianship. He clearly loves her and is trying SO HARD - too hard - to make up for all the deficiencies in her life both past and present. She is in many ways a typical pre-teen, and I loved her quirky interests and of course her love of books, and the way she tried to take care of Justin, too. Her and Tara's relationship growth was really sweet, and her tendency to spout off zingers made me snicker a few times. Marley is awesome and I just wanted to scoop her up and give her all the books she could possibly want.
The romance was insta-lovey, but that's to be expected in a novella. I thought Justin made for an attractive love interest for Tara but again the execution was just...not for me. He seems obsessed with kissing Tara's hands, even within an hour of them meeting! Maybe I'm just overly sensitive to human contact, but I really don't like people touching me and have a hard time relating to characters who do it or are ok with it within such a short time of meeting or knowing people. Then there were just some cringe-worthy lines that took all the heat out of the story in places.
Her skirt was short, her sweater tight, and the lighted reindeer antler headband nearly sent him over the edge.
Really. The lighted reindeer antler headband. Dude, what even. I couldn't take any of their attraction seriously after that, and even the culminating scene fell flat. I was too distracted by picturing her wearing flashing antlers on her head, even though she wasn't by that point.
Of course, these things won't bother everyone, and the groundwork is laid for a couple more novellas in the series (Tara has two sisters who both obviously also deserve a HEA), so if the rural community and family farm storyline intrigue you, be sure to check it out.
Please note: this is the second in a series, and it would probably be good to link the first one to it some~*Check out my blog at The Bent Bookworm!*~
Please note: this is the second in a series, and it would probably be good to link the first one to it somehow: Pemmican Wars.
Red River Resistance is a graphic novel taking place through the eyes of a 13-year-old girl, Echo who time travels between events in the Red River area of Canada in 1869-1870. Not being Canadian, I was not familiar with the history at ALL and so greatly appreciated the timeline in the back of the book!
The story portrays the injustice done to the indigenous people throughout North America during this time in history, but focusing on the Metis people of Canada. Despite the more than a 100 years since the events, Echo - a descendent of some of the original inhabitants - still struggles with her identity and place in the world, and the effects of a corrupt government that cared nothing for the people it displaced, only for the monetary value of their lands.
The illustrations in this book suit the story perfectly. They have an overall blue/gray cast that lends itself to the mood, and there are very few words even for a graphic novel. For the subject matter, it really works. I will definitely be going back and looking for the first of this series, and hope there will be more after!
Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!