Genre: Fantasy

Life’s Too Short – Made for Love, A Plague of Giants, Shadowless

December 30, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Life's Too Short 2 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Made for Love, A Plague of Giants, ShadowlessMade for Love by Alissa Nutting
Published by Ecco on July 4th 2017
Pages: 320
Genres: Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: Tampa

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Hazel has just moved into a trailer park of senior citizens, with her father and Diane—his extremely lifelike sex doll—as her roommates. Life with Hazel’s father is strained at best, but her only alternative seems even bleaker. She’s just run out on her marriage to Byron Gogol, CEO and founder of Gogol Industries, a monolithic corporation hell-bent on making its products and technologies indispensable in daily life. For over a decade, Hazel put up with being veritably quarantined by Byron in the family compound, her every movement and vital sign tracked. But when he demands to wirelessly connect the two of them via brain chips in a first-ever human “mind-meld,” Hazel decides what was once merely irritating has become unbearable. The world she escapes into is a far cry from the dry and clinical bubble she’s been living in, a world populated with a whole host of deviant oddballs.

As Hazel tries to carve out a new life for herself in this uncharted territory, Byron is using the most sophisticated tools at his disposal to find her and bring her home. His threats become more and more sinister, and Hazel is forced to take drastic measures in order to find a home of her own and free herself from Byron’s virtual clutches once and for all.

DNF @ 40%

I knew from having read Tampa that Nutting could come up with some bizarre shit of a storyline that I’d still relish in reading. But I have come to realize with this novel that even I have limits. Made for Love felt like some bizarro Black Mirror parody sort of world where Hazel leaves her husband Byron who wants to implant a mind-meld chip into her brain. We’re given a flashback to how they met and it was all such a hilarious spoof on Fifty Shades of Grey and I was completely on board. Even the terribly awkward (but extremely comical) return home to her father where she finds him residing with a real-life sex-doll named Diane. Bizarre, yes. But I was still fully on board. I’m apparently cool with strange science fiction storylines and sex-dolls but I draw the line with strange men attracted to dolphins. Yeah, you read that right. After several chapters of Hazel and her father (and we mustn’t forget Diane), we’re thrown for a loop when we’re introduced to Jasper who, after conning his latest girlfriend into giving him all her money and bailing, experiences a random dolphin attack and finds himself only attracted to dolphins. And describes this attraction in explicit detail. I may never look at a dolphin the same.

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I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Made for Love, A Plague of Giants, ShadowlessA Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne
Series: Seven Kennings #1
Published by Del Rey Books on October 17th 2017
Pages: 618
Genres: Fantasy
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Hounded, Hammered

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In the start of a compelling new series, the New York Times bestselling author of The Iron Druid Chronicles creates an unforgettable fantasy world of warring giants and elemental magic.

In the city of Pelemyn, Fintan the bard takes to the stage to tell what really happened the night the giants came . . .

From the east came the Bone Giants, from the south, the fire-wielding Hathrim - an invasion that sparked war across the six nations of Teldwen. The kingdom's only hope is the discovery of a new form of magic that calls the world's wondrous beasts to fight by the side of humankind.

DNF @ 30%

I really loved the first few installments of Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles but I called it quits after book four. The humor was still there, the great characters, but it started to feel very repetitive. I heard about a brand new series coming from him and was so ready for a fresh new story. And one about a fantasy world with giants and magic? Oh man, I’m so disappointed this wasn’t all I had hoped it to be. The opening was extremely promising, where a bard with magical abilities begins to tell the story of the Bone Giants. He’s able to take on the appearance and voice of individuals so most of the first chapters were voiced by a different individual with a different perspective of things ongoing. Around the time when Hearne attempts to merge their storylines together was when he lost me. There were too many characters with obscure names, too many points of view, and too much to keep track off right from the beginning to keep me invested.

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I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Made for Love, A Plague of Giants, ShadowlessShadowless by Hasan Ali Toptaş
Published by Bloomsbury on October 17th 2017
Pages: 320
Genres: Literary Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Source: the Publisher
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Hasan Ali Toptaş, "the Turkish Kafka", playfully challenges ideas of identity and memory in this surprising and beguiling novel.

In an Anatolian village forgotten by both God and the government, the muhtar has been elected leader for the sixteenth successive year. When he drunkenly staggers to bed that night, the village is prospering. But when he awakes to discover that Nuri, the barber, has disappeared in the dead of night, the community begins to fracture. In a nameless town far, far away, Nuri walks into a barbershop, not knowing how he has arrived. Blurring the lines of reality to terrific effect, this novel is both a compelling mystery and an enduring evocation of displacement.

DNF @ 15%

I typically stick with a pretty concrete set of genres because literary fiction and I so rarely get along. Sometimes I really try to push myself out of my comfort zone, hoping to find some diamond in the rough that will inevitably encourage me to venture outside that zone more often. This is one of those out of my comfort zone picks. Unfortunately, this is not encouraging me to pick up more literary fiction but instead to stay securely comfortable in the genres that I consistently love.

I never quite understood what was going on because it was this strange blend of literary fiction and magical realism, except I guess it’s supposed to be real but honestly, I don’t even know. I’m sure there is some beauty to a story such as this but when “his ears grew larger than soup ladles”, the broom suddenly had a voice, walls shivered at his touch, and his hair grew back immediately after being cut I just knew this was unfortunately not the book for me.

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Rapid Fire Reviews – Artemis, Ink and Bone, Into the Drowning Deep, The Hazel Wood

December 29, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Rapid Fire Reviews, Read in 2017, YA 4 Comments

Sometimes review writing is hard. Sometimes you don’t have a lot to say. Sometimes you’re just lazy as fuck. These are Rapid Fire Reviews.

Artemis by Andy Weir
Narrator: Rosario Dawson
Published by Audible on November 14th 2017
Length: 8 hours and 59 minutes
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
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Short Summary: Jazz Bashara is a full-time resident (and smuggler) of Artemis, the only city on the moon, but when she’s offered a sum of money that would solve all of her problems she accepts, the only problem is this job is completely out of her comfort zone and causes her more problems than she had before.

Thoughts: This story wouldn’t have been nearly as fantastic if it wasn’t narrated by Rosario Dawson who transformed this oftentimes comical heist on the moon into an actual performance.

Verdict: I loved The Martian and I loved Artemis so Andy Weir can just keep those entertaining Sci-Fi stories coming.

four-stars

Rapid Fire Reviews – Artemis, Ink and Bone, Into the Drowning Deep, The Hazel Wood

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library #1
Published by Berkley on April 5th 2016
Pages: 374
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Blogging for Books
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Short Summary: In an alternate universe where books are illegal to the public and the Library of Alexandria is still standing, a group of individuals train to enter into the service of the Library and realize that corruption reigns supreme from within.

Thoughts: Caine has created a fascinating alternate universe with hints of steampunk and while there seemed to be a little too much going on at times it was a captivating story with a full cast of characters and ends with a cliffhanger that leaves you no option but to continue.

Verdict: An intriguing first installment that gets the mild info-dumping necessary with any fantasy world out of the way in hopeful anticipation of a solid follow-up in Paper and Fire.

three-half-stars

Rapid Fire Reviews – Artemis, Ink and Bone, Into the Drowning Deep, The Hazel Wood

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
Series: Rolling in the Deep #1
Published by Orbit on November 14th 2017
Pages: 440
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Source: the Publisher
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Short Summary: Everyone was presumed dead after the Atargatis was lost at sea, but a new crew is being assembled to go back to the Mariana Trench to search for the existence of mermaids, this time presumably taking better precautions.

Thoughts: Grant was a bit excessive with her use of prose and her oftentimes exhaustive detailing of characters; however, her much apparent research into marine biology was incredibly informative and the gory horror was a definite thrill.

Verdict: A good one for campy horror fans and science nerds alike, but there’s no denying this story is drowning in an unnecessary amount of pages.

three-stars

Rapid Fire Reviews – Artemis, Ink and Bone, Into the Drowning Deep, The Hazel Wood

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Published by Flatiron Books on January 30th 2018
Pages: 368
Genres: Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Short Summary: Alice and her mother have spent their lives on the road, trying to evade Alice’s grandmother and the bad luck that shadows their every step, but when her mother is kidnapped and taken to the Hinterland (a supernatural world that her grandmother created in her fairy tales) Alice is forced to confront the fact that these fairy tales might be real.

Thoughts: The blend of dark fantasy/fairy tales in a contemporary world was so fascinating and Alice’s character is incredibly likable; however, the mystery (and the story itself) unraveled a bit at the end and wasn’t as coherent a closure as I would have liked.

Verdict: Interesting fairy tale world, solid opening, mediocre ending: still definitely worth a read.

three-stars

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Life’s Too Short – The Simplicity of Cider, Tess of the Road, Strange Fire

December 21, 2017 Bonnie Book Reviews, Life's Too Short 4 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – The Simplicity of Cider, Tess of the Road, Strange FireThe Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert
Published by Gallery Books on May 16th 2017
Pages: 336
Genres: Magical Realism
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: The Coincidence of Coconut Cake

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Fall in love with The Simplicity of Cider, the charming new novel about a prickly but gifted cider-maker whose quiet life is interrupted by the arrival of a handsome man and his young son at her family’s careworn orchard by the author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and Luck, Love & Lemon Pie.

Focused and unassuming fifth generation cider-maker Sanna Lund has one desire: to live a simple, quiet life on her family’s apple orchard in Door County, Wisconsin. Although her business is struggling, Sanna remains fiercely devoted to the orchard, despite her brother’s attempts to convince their aging father to sell the land.

Single dad Isaac Banks has spent years trying to shield his son Sebastian from his troubled mother. Fleeing heartbreak at home, Isaac packed up their lives and the two headed out on an adventure, driving across the country. Chance—or fate—led them straight to Sanna’s orchard.

Isaac’s helping hands are much appreciated at the apple farm, even more when Sanna’s father is injured in an accident. As Sanna’s formerly simple life becomes increasingly complicated, she finds solace in unexpected places—friendship with young Sebastian and something more deliciously complex with Isaac—until an outside threat infiltrates the farm.

From the warm and funny Amy E. Reichert, The Simplicity of Cider is a charming love story with a touch of magic, perfect for fans of Sarah Addison Allen and Gayle Forman.

DNF @ 20%

I adore Magical Realism and I adored Reichert’s debut The Coincidence of Coconut Cake but this one just didn’t do it for me. I’ve had a rollercoaster of a reading year and being very much a mood reader it seemed like every time I picked this one up, it never felt like the right time. Alas, I’m making this my last attempt (my fifth attempt, for the record) and calling it quits. This book possessed a lovely, heartwarming feel to it as you learn about the orchard and see all these special touches of magic throughout but as the summary states, Sanna is most prickly indeed. Her character was so completely off-putting to me that it lessened my interest in everything else. Did she redeem herself in the end? Possibly. But if I’ve restarted a book five times in a single year and still can’t get through it, honestly, that was more time spent trying than should be necessary.

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – The Simplicity of Cider, Tess of the Road, Strange FireTess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on February 27th 2018
Pages: 544
Genres: Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Seraphina

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Meet Tess, a brave new heroine from beloved epic fantasy author Rachel Hartman.

In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can’t make a scene at your sister’s wedding and break a relative’s nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess yanks on her boots and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending to be a boy.

Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it’s a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl—a subspecies of dragon—who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she’s tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one.

Returning to the fascinating world she created in the award-winning and New York Times bestselling Seraphina, Rachel Hartman introduces readers to a new character and a new quest, pushing the boundaries of genre once again in this wholly original fantasy.

DNF @ 15%

Blogger Problem #74: Being blinded by the excitement surrounding an ARC that you accept it without completely thinking it through.

Seraphina was a real struggle for me to get through, especially when all my blogger friends were raving about it. Despite this, I still picked up Shadow Scale (Seraphina #2) and ended up DNF-ing. Even though Tess of the Road is not classified as Seraphina #3, it really is. It’s set in the same world, most of the same characters, just focusing on a different main character. Same series, spin-off series, either way… I really should have skipped over this one. Hartman’s world building is spectacular but I continue to struggle with the pacing of her stories.

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – The Simplicity of Cider, Tess of the Road, Strange FireStrange Fire by Tommy Wallach
Narrator: Julia Whelan, Joy Osmanski, Madeleine Maby, Corey Brill, Jacques Roy, Gibson Frazier
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on October 3rd 2017
Pages: 386
Length: 9 hours and 35 minutes
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: We All Looked Up, Thanks for the Trouble

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It only takes a spark.

They said that the first generation of man was brought low by its appetites: for knowledge, for wealth, for power. They said mankind’s voracity was so great, the Lord sent his own Daughter to bring fire and devastation to the world.

The survivors were few, but over the course of centuries, they banded together to form a new civilization—the Descendancy—founded on the belief that the mistakes of the past must never be repeated.

Brothers Clive and Clover Hamill, the sons of a well-respected Descendant minister, have spent their lives spreading that gospel. But when their traveling ministry discovers a community intent on rediscovering the blasphemous technologies of the past, a chain of events will be set in motion that will pit city against city…and brother against brother.

Along with Gemma Poplin, Clive’s childhood sweetheart, and Paz Dedios, a revolutionary who dreams of overthrowing the Descendancy, Clive and Clover will each play a pivotal role in determining the outcome of this holy war, and the fate of humanity itself.

DNF @ 10%

I understand that the whole purpose of a blurb is to quickly encourage readers to pick it up, but when you do, and the blurb is nothing like it promised, that’s mighty disappointing. Oregon Trail meets Westworld was what hooked me and caused me so much excitement I admittedly didn’t even read the rest of the blurb (although this is a rampant problem for me.) If I had read the entire blurb I would have been immediately put off by the excessive religiousness and would’ve skipped this. But nooooo…. my 10-year-old brain started daydreaming of Oregon Trail instead.

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Strange Fire is told from the point of view of two brothers from a religious society that views technology to be the root of all evil. It’s less fantasy and more futuristic dystopian but possessed an essence of more popular dystopian novels (Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, Handmaid’s Tale, as well as the more recent Blood Red Road.) The writing was well done but the plot was slow to build which makes more sense when you consider it’s the start of a series. I tried to keep an open mind regarding the religious aspects but this ultimately just failed to capture my interest.

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Life’s Too Short – Lost Boy, The Afterlife of Holly Chase, Catalina

December 14, 2017 Bonnie Book Reviews, Life's Too Short 4 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Lost Boy, The Afterlife of Holly Chase, CatalinaLost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook by Christina Henry
Published by Berkley Books on July 4th 2017
Pages: 292
Genres: Fairy-Tales/Retellings
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Alice, Red Queen

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From the national bestselling author of Alice comes a familiar story with a dark hook—a tale about Peter Pan and the friend who became his nemesis, a nemesis who may not be the blackhearted villain Peter says he is…

There is one version of my story that everyone knows. And then there is the truth. This is how it happened. How I went from being Peter Pan’s first—and favorite—lost boy to his greatest enemy.

Peter brought me to his island because there were no rules and no grownups to make us mind. He brought boys from the Other Place to join in the fun, but Peter's idea of fun is sharper than a pirate’s sword. Because it’s never been all fun and games on the island. Our neighbors are pirates and monsters. Our toys are knife and stick and rock—the kinds of playthings that bite.

Peter promised we would all be young and happy forever.

DNF @ page 77

I went into this with insanely high hopes because 1. I love a good villain retelling and 2. I loved The Chronicles of Alice but despite this, I don’t think high expectations is what caused me to DNF. I was fine with Peter being a more tarnished version of the Peter we all already know and I was fine with Jamie being a decent human being because that just means we get to see the path he ended up on that resulted in Captain Hook. No, what was disappointing was the writing. This was an extremely violent retelling (not an issue for me) but it’s written like it’s a Young Adult novel. Lost Boy was also marketed somewhat towards the YA crowd, what with the influx of fairy tale popularity, which would possibly explain the difference in writing styles between Alice and Lost Boy. It could also be argued that it was written in such a way because the characters themselves were children, however, these are “children” that have been children for many decades, locked in their children bodies while they remain in Neverland. I feel like they would have still matured in some sense over time. Regardless of why it was written this way, I didn’t care for it, it was slow and plodding and the characters and world were under-developed relying on existing impressions of a widely known tale.

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Lost Boy, The Afterlife of Holly Chase, CatalinaThe Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand
Published by HarperTeen on October 24th 2017
Pages: 389
Genres: Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: Unearthly, Hallowed, Boundless

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On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she'd become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.

She didn't.

And then she died.

Now she's stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge--as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.

Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly's afterlife has been miserable.

But this year, everything is about to change. . . .

DNF @ 3%

No, I didn’t get far enough into this story for it to begin to differentiate between its classic inspiration, but Holly Chase is a horrid brat. Much like Ebeneezer Scrooge but I guess I can handle that kind of behavior in a horribly cranky old man versus a self-entitled teenager who is cruel to the housekeeper. Honestly, this is Mean Girls: the Christmas version; if Regina George was visited by the three ghosts of Christmas. I’m not here for that.

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Lost Boy, The Afterlife of Holly Chase, CatalinaCatalina: A Novel by Liska Jacobs
Published by FSG Originals on November 7th 2017
Pages: 240
Genres: Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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A magnetic, provocative debut novel chronicling a young woman's downward spiral following the end of an affair

Elsa Fisher is headed for rock bottom. At least, that's her plan. She has just been fired from MoMA on the heels of an affair with her married boss, and she retreats to Los Angeles to blow her severance package on whatever it takes to numb the pain. Her abandoned crew of college friends (childhood friend Charlotte and her wayward husband, Jared; and Elsa's ex-husband, Robby) receive her with open arms, and, thinking she's on vacation, a plan to celebrate their reunion on a booze-soaked sailing trip to Catalina Island.

But Elsa doesn't want to celebrate. She is lost, lonely, and full of rage, and only wants to sink as low as the drugs and alcohol will take her. On Catalina, her determined unraveling and recklessness expose painful memories and dark desires, putting everyone in the group at risk.

With the creeping menace of Patricia Highsmith and the bender-chic of Bret Easton Ellis, Liska Jacobs brings you inside the mind of an angry, reckless young woman hell-bent on destruction--every page taut with the knowledge that Elsa's path does not lead to a happy place. Catalina is a compulsive, deliciously dark exploration of beauty, love, and friendship, and the sometimes toxic desires that drive us.

DNF @ 3%

I read a single chapter of this book. It was enough. Catalina is the story of Elsa Fisher, a woman that spirals out of control after her affair with her married boss is discovered. She returns home, to a place where she never wanted to return to, to people she never wanted to see again, but she slips easily back into that life. Except everything is a tragedy because well, life is just so hard.

“Charly? She will definitely want to go shopping. And we will get Frappuccinos with skim milk, and try on dresses, and talk about whatever argument she and Jared are currently in the middle of. God, how exhausting to be back.”

I guess I never really understood why she HAD to go back home. Sure, maybe that’s explained in a later chapter, but she’s introduced as this martyr that loses her job and just gives up and goes back home. Why didn’t she try to get a new job? Why do I care? Oh wait, I don’t.

“The room-service boy lingers, saying he thinks redheads are pretty. He’s young and breakable and it would feel so goddamn good to break something.”

Yeah, Elsa Fisher is a pleasant individual. Real likable.

“I shower with my drink and take one of Mother’s Vicodins.”

Oh goodie. I picked up the novelization of a soap opera. Hard pass.

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Waiting on Wednesday – The Mermaid by Christina Henry

November 15, 2017 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 2 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Mermaid by Christina HenryThe Mermaid by Christina Henry
Published by Berkley on June 19th 2018
Pages: 336
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
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Also by this author: Alice, Red Queen, Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook

From the author of Lost Boy comes a historical fairy tale about a mermaid who leaves the sea for love and later finds herself in P.T. Barnum's American Museum as the real Fiji mermaid. However, leaving the museum may be harder than leaving the sea ever was.

Once there was a mermaid who longed to know of more than her ocean home and her people. One day a fisherman trapped her in his net but couldn't bear to keep her. But his eyes were lonely and caught her more surely than the net, and so she evoked a magic that allowed her to walk upon the shore. The mermaid, Amelia, became his wife, and they lived on a cliff above the ocean for ever so many years, until one day the fisherman rowed out to sea and did not return.

P. T. Barnum was looking for marvelous attractions for his American Museum, and he'd heard a rumor of a mermaid who lived on a cliff by the sea. He wanted to make his fortune, and an attraction like Amelia was just the ticket.

Amelia agreed to play the mermaid for Barnum, and she believes she can leave any time she likes. But Barnum has never given up a money-making scheme in his life, and he's determined to hold on to his mermaid.

About Christina Henry

CHRISTINA HENRY is the author of the CHRONICLES OF ALICE duology, ALICE and RED QUEEN, a dark and twisted take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, as well as LOST BOY: THE TRUE STORY OF CAPTAIN HOOK, an origin story of Captain Hook from Peter Pan.

She is also the author of the national bestselling BLACK WINGS series (BLACK WINGS, BLACK NIGHT, BLACK HOWL, BLACK LAMENT, BLACK CITY, BLACK HEART and BLACK SPRING) featuring Agent of Death Madeline Black and her popcorn-loving gargoyle Beezle.

ALICE was chosen as one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Year in Science Fiction and Fantasy for 2015. It was also a Goodreads Choice Award nominee in Horror and one of Barnes & Noble’s Bestselling Science Fiction and Fantasy novels of 2015.

She enjoys running long distances, reading anything she can get her hands on and watching movies with samurai, zombies and/or subtitles in her spare time. She lives in Chicago with her husband and son.

I absolutely loved what Henry did with Alice in Wonderland and I can’t wait to see what she does with this interesting sounding tale (tail? hahahaha)

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What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Audiobook Review – An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

November 7, 2017 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2017, YA 2 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review – An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret RogersonAn Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on September 26th 2017
Length: 8 hours and 45 minutes
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Audible
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two-stars

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

“Why do we desire, above all other things, that which has the greatest power to destroy us?”

In a town named Whimsy, humans practice “Craft” to satisfy the “fair folk” that reside in the forests which border the town. Isobel is a master of her craft, despite her young age, and her portrait art is widely spoken of which she uses to trade for various enchantments to keep her and her family safe. When she’s hired by an autumn prince, her practiced eyed detects a mysterious sorrow in his eyes, something found in ordinary humans but never in the fair folk. She adds this final touch to his portrait and bids farewell to him, thinking she’ll never see him again, but knowing that she was absolutely falling in love with him. Surprisingly, he shows up on her doorstep weeks later but only because he plans to take her back to his court to stand trial for her crimes: painting his face with a weakness.

Isobel was an impassioned character and easy to like… at first. As soon as we’re introduced to the obvious love interest though, the story and her character take a bit of an adverse turn. It quickly became less of a fantasy with romantic elements and more a romance with fantasy elements. And she started thinking things like:

“Walking on a blade’s edge every time we exchanged a curtsy and a bow, knowing one misstep could topple me into mortal peril, made the blood sing in my veins.”

Yeah, thinking I might die any second always gets me excited too. It reminded me immensely of A Court of Thorns and Roses both in story and characterization but where An Enchantment of Ravens fell short was in creating an equally fascinating world and a story that didn’t revolve around a romance that was predictable and lacking in any real passion. I felt the “you must stand trial for your crimes!” storyline was a weak excuse to throw the duo together again and it was easy to foretell they would fall in love. The Romeo and Juliet spin on things making it forbidden for the fair folk to fall in love with humans just added more of a dramatic spin on things. The outside cover is absolutely spectacular but the insides are disappointingly mediocre.

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Short & Sweet – River of Teeth Duology

September 22, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2017 0 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Short & Sweet – River of Teeth DuologyRiver of Teeth by Sarah Gailey
Published by Tantor Audio on August 22nd 2017
Length: 4 hours and 1 minute
Genres: Alternate Reality, Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
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three-half-stars

In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true.

Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

This was a terrible plan.

Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge.

In 1909, Robert F. Broussard, a congressman from Louisiana introduced a bill for $250,000 in funding to deal with the invasive Water Hyacinth that was clogging the Louisiana waterways by introducing hippos into the wild to eat them. True story. The bill failed to pass but Sarah Gailey’s novella portrays a world where the opposite happened and the hippopotami have quickly become a bigger problem than the Water Hyacinth ever thought to be. Winslow Remington Houndstooth was a former hippo rancher who lost his ranch after it was razed to the ground by an enemy. He’s been hired by the government to herd the feral hippo population into the Gulf because they’re currently wreaking havoc on the trading route potential the Harriet area boasts. He puts together a crew of hippo-riding “hoppers” consisting of Regina “Archie” Archambault, a con artist, Cal Hotchkiss, a dangerous sharpshooter, Hero Schackleby, a demolition expert, and contract killer Adelia Reyes. Nothing good can come of a group of such people.

“It’s not a caper,” Houndstooth replied, sounding irritated. “It’s an operation. All aboveboard.”

This novella was honestly a ton of fun. It was very much an Oceans 11 style caper, excuse me, operation, with revenge, murder, and treachery aplenty. I don’t care what kind of genre you typically read, hearing that a book is about man-eating hippos should entice just about anyone. The lively team is quickly assembled and the mission plan is immediately put into effect which definitely limited the time spent on these interesting people but Sarah Gailey still did a fantastic job in bringing their personalities to life. The mission itself is full of twists and turns and a level of excitement that only made me want more of everything in terms of length and detail that could have been possible with this story. The narrator Peter Berkrot was a pleasure to listen to despite the various accents and French ladies he was forced to attempt. ‘A’ for effort and for making this spirited story that much more fun to listen to.

“I regret nothing: it was worth it for the hats alone.”

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Short & Sweet – River of Teeth DuologyTaste of Marrow by Sarah Gailey
Published by Tantor Audio on September 12th 2017
Length: 4 hrs and 15 mins
Genres: Alternate Reality, Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
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three-stars

A few months ago, Winslow Houndstooth put together the damnedest crew of outlaws, assassins, cons, and saboteurs on either side of the Harriet for a history-changing caper. Together they conspired to blow the damn that choked the Mississippi and funnel the hordes of feral hippos contained within downriver, to finally give America back its greatest waterway.

Songs are sung of their exploits, many with a haunting refrain: "And not a soul escaped alive."

In the aftermath of the Harriet catastrophe, that crew has scattered to the winds. Some hunt the missing lovers they refuse to believe have died. Others band together to protect a precious infant and a peaceful future. All of them struggle with who they've become after a long life of theft, murder, deception, and general disinterest in the strictures of the law.

“And not a soul escaped alive, and not a soul escaped alive, hi-ho hop-whoa! And everybody died.”
Not everybody, asshole, she thought tartly.

The devastation may have been severe, but our ragtag bunch of hoppers did, in fact, survive despite the songs now sung about the Harriet catastrophe. The only problem is, they’ve been split up and remain uncertain about who survived and where they could possibly be. Houndstooth and Adelia remain together and are both searching for lost loves. Archie and Hero have remained together despite Archie’s attempt on Hero’s life. But the explosion at the Harriet changed much more than the situation of the hippo population, it changed the surviving individuals too and their emotional advancement is the primary focus in Taste of Marrow.

‘Alone and lonely ain’t the same thing at all,’ Hero said, shaking their head.”

Taste of Marrow certainly lacked the focus of its predecessor, since its focus was on a group of individuals that had lost their own focus in life. Emotions were all over the place and it often felt like a bit of a scatterbrained read. The heart of this alternate history, the hippo population, took a bit of a back seat to focus more on the hoppers themselves. Also missing was the excitement of the caper/operation. While I felt this was definitely lacking when compared to River of Teeth, it still had its own individual charm and was a satisfying conclusion to the stories of these colorful individuals. Sarah Gailey is definitely one to keep an eye out for.

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Waiting on Wednesday – All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

June 7, 2017 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday, YA 6 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – All the Crooked Saints by Maggie StiefvaterAll the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
Published by Scholastic Press on October 10th 2017
Pages: 320
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
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Also by this author: Shiver, Forever, The Raven Boys

From bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater, a gripping tale of darkness, miracles, and family!

Saints. Miracles. Family. Romance. Death. Redemption.

The book takes place in the 1960s in Bicho Raro, Colorado and follows the lives of three members of the Soria family—each of whom is searching for their own miracle. There’s Beatriz, who appears to lack feelings but wants to study her mind; Daniel, the “Saint” of Bicho Raro, a miracle worker for everyone but himself; and Joaquin (a.k.a. Diablo Diablo), who runs a pirate radio station at night.

"The Soria family are saints as well, and the miracle they perform for pilgrims to Bicho Raro is as strange as most miracles are: They can make the darkness inside you visible. Once the pilgrims see their inner darkness face to face, it’s up to them to perform another miracle on themselves: banishing the darkness for good. It can be a tricky business to vanquish your inner demons, even once you know what they are, but the Sorias are forbidden to help with this part. They’ve all been told that if a Soria interferes with the second miracle, it will bring out their own darkness, and a saint’s darkness, so the story goes, is a most potent and dangerous thing." - Maggie Stiefvater, EW interview.

About Maggie Stiefvater

I am Maggie Stiefvater. I write books. Some are about dead Welsh kings. Some are about werewolf nookie. Some are about neither.

I have been a wedding musician, a technical editor, a portrait artist, and, for several fraught weeks, a waitress. I play several musical instruments (most infamously, the bagpipes), I still make art, and I recently acquired and unacquired a race car.

I live in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with my husband, my two children, some cows, three dogs who fart recreationally, a criminally insane cat, an interminable number of miniature silky fainting goats, and one 1973 Camaro named Loki.

I like things that go.

I’m nearing the point where I’m about to run out of any back Stiefvater to read (all I have left is Lament and Ballad!) so this is a welcome sight. “Saints. Miracles. Family. Romance. Death. Redemption.” is more than enough summary for me to get anxious.

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What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Book Review – A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas

May 19, 2017 Bonnie Book Reviews, New Adult, Read in 2017 5 Comments

Book Review – A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. MaasA Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #3
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on May 2nd 2017
Pages: 720
Genres: Fantasy
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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Also by this author: Queen of Shadows, A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury

three-half-stars

Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit—and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.
As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords—and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

A Court of Thorns and Roses series

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas
A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas

Well, it’s finally here.

I’m so exasperated and everyone and their mother has given this 5 stars at this point so I’m feeling like quite the outcast. I liked A Court of Thorns and Roses, adored A Court of Mist and Fury, and A Court of Wings and Ruin was quite possibly my most anticipated book of the year. I took the day off work to read this and while I can’t say that I regret doing so or that the book was bad, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. There were things I liked and things I didn’t like, so I’ll start with the good.

The best parts of this book were, surprisingly, the war scenes. We all knew a war was coming in this installment but I never quite expected it to be nearly as epic and for all the fae and their magical powers to be quite as badass as they were. Savage, brutal, and thrilling (and the war makes up a large chunk of this book). In terms of the best (non-violent) parts, Feyre getting to explore more that the Court of Dreams has to offer was lovely. Her depictions of the city were enough to form magical cities in my mind, but the library carved inside an actual mountain? The shelves built into the stone walls, the reading nooks, the low-burning lamps, the cozy chairs, and the fireplaces.

And lastly, I loved how she incorporates all of the lesser characters that seemed to have minor roles in the conclusion: the Suriel, the Weaver, the Bone Carver, and even a new terrifying beastie.

And now onto the bad.

I’ll do my best.

My first issue: the beginning. The story opens where the ending of Mist left off with Feyre returning to the Spring Court. She’s intent on gathering information about King Hybern and his armies but it turned into this long and drawn out affair that transformed Feyre into this cruel and vindictive person that I didn’t much care for. What she intended to achieve simply didn’t seem necessary to the story as a whole either. My second issue was actually with the writing itself. I’m not sure if less editing was done, or time constraints to get this done and published (or a combination of the two) but this read incredibly uneven. There’s so much to accomplish with a final book in a series and it felt like Maas had a checklist of things that needed to be answered, actions that the characters had to take to set up certain events, etc. and we bounced hurriedly onto the next task on her list just as soon as one was completed. The story lacked a grace and flow that was needed to draw these three stories together in order to give it the final farewell it deserved. And lastly, in terms of farewells, the ending caused the majority of my grumbles. Maas implied throughout the entire book of things impending that never came to fruition and things ended all nice and neat with a pretty little bow on top. Clearly, many (and I mean many) fans were perfectly content, I, unfortunately, was not. But as I said, it wasn’t a bad ending but it wasn’t the ending I expected.

Maas has already announced that there are two additional trilogies to come set in this same world and while I was originally excited, I’d really like to know the focus on those stories before committing to more. What started as a beauty and the beast retelling turned into a fascinating world full of magic and fae. While I don’t give this final installment the highest of marks, this was still a most engrossing trilogy.

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Short & Sweet (Beauty & the Beast Retellings) – A Court of Thorns and Roses, Hunted, Lost in a Book

April 28, 2017 Bonnie Book Reviews, New Adult, Read in 2017, Short & Sweet Reviews, YA 10 Comments

Short & Sweet (Beauty & the Beast Retellings) – A Court of Thorns and Roses, Hunted, Lost in a BookA Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #1
Published by Recorded Books on May 5th 2015
Length: 16 hrs and 7 mins
Genres: Fantasy, Fairy-Tales/Retellings
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
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Also by this author: Queen of Shadows, A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury

four-stars

Feyre's survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price ...

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre's presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

‘I was as unburdened as a piece of dandelion fluff, and he was the wind that stirred me about the world.’

Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales and it’s always so fascinating to see how authors mold fairy tales into a unique story of their own. A Court of Thorns and Roses definitely veers off the standard path making “Beast/Tamlin” a member of the fae court, making “Belle/Feyre” a badass female hunter, and removing the animated furniture entirely. The story still revolves around the curse and the time ticking down before it’s too late, but Maas adds a magical element (and a deviant female villain) to this already magical fairytale that I absolutely adored. What I loved most was the incredibly dark turn she took the tale which gave the added opportunity of adding a new level of complexity and intrigue to Feyre’s character.

“Don’t feel bad for one moment about doing what brings you joy.”

Like spending time re-reading. I occasionally get hang-ups about “wasting” time re-reading when I should be spending my time reading stories that I haven’t yet experienced. But sometimes a re-read is necessary (like when you’re gearing up for the final installment of a beloved trilogy!!) and sometimes the second time is even better than the first. I read A Court of Thorns and Roses for the first time in June 2016 and it was far from love at first sight (mostly because I was never Team Tamlin) but during this re-read I was able to set aside my issues with the romance and focus more on the world building and the fascinating aspects of the story itself that I didn’t pay much attention to the first time. I also decided to splurge and bought the audiobook copies and guys, let me tell you, these are fantastic on audio with Jennifer Ikeda’s narration. I’m pretty devastated that she won’t be returning to narrate A Court of Wings and Ruin but it’s still well worth listening to her narrate the first two installments, I’ll just be reading the third one with my eyeballs instead. 🙂

Short & Sweet (Beauty & the Beast Retellings) – A Court of Thorns and Roses, Hunted, Lost in a BookHunted by Meagan Spooner
Published by HarperTeen on March 14th 2017
Pages: 384
Genres: Fantasy, Fairy-Tales/Retellings
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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Also by this author: Unearthed

three-half-stars

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?


“She wept because she did not know what she wanted, and because she wanted everything.”

Yeva has never been comfortable living among the town aristocrats but instead dreams of the stories her father would tell her when she was younger; of the forest and the magic contained within. When her father loses his fortune and they are forced to move back to his lodge in the woods, Yeva could not be more content knowing she can spend her days familiarizing herself once again with the woods even though she knows it’s not a reasonable way for her to spend her life. Her father also begins spending his days and nights in the woods, mentioning hunting a beast and when he fails to come home after weeks of being gone, Yeva sets out to help him only to be captured by the beast that her father was hunting.

“She moves like beauty, she whispers to us of wind and forest—and she tells us stories, such stories that we wake in the night, dreaming dreams of a life long past. she reminds us of what we used to be.
She reminds us of what we could be.”

Hunted is told primarily from Yeva’s point of view but is interspersed with short snippets from the Beast, showing the constant battle between his animalistic side while he fights to retain a hold of his humanity. Yeva is kept in a cell for weeks on end, telling him stories of Ivan and the Firebird to the one on the other side of her cell door who brings her food every day, having no idea that he is also her captor. The Beast finally shows himself to her and reveals that he captured her for a purpose: she must train to be a more superior hunter than she already is because she’s the only one that can kill the creature responsible for cursing him.

Hunted is a combination of the classic Beauty and the Beast fairy tale with the Ivan, the Firebird, and the Gray Wolf Russian fairy tale and it’s a slow to unfold type of story. There’s also a disassociation from any sort of emotional connection that was key in my own connection with the story. I found it to be a beautiful story in essence of a young girl not knowing what to do with her life, wandering aimlessly, and I really wanted to feel her adversity but I never quite felt like there is much at stake for our young heroine. The significance behind the Firebird plays a huge role in this tale, as well as storytelling in general, and the romantic building blocks were left feeling incomplete in the attempts at focusing on the bigger picture. There is a note at the end Spooner includes regarding the origins of this story and the lengthy process it took to come to fruition was a heartwarming story. Her dedication to all of her readers was unbelievably touching and made me wish I had loved this story more than I did.

‘Male or female, young or old, if you’re reading this book, then you’re also that child reading by flashlight and dreaming of other worlds. Don’t be scared of her, that inner Beauty, or her dreams. Let her out. She’s you, and she’s me, and she’s magic.
There’s no such thing as living happily ever after — there’s only living. We make the choice to do it happily.’

Short & Sweet (Beauty & the Beast Retellings) – A Court of Thorns and Roses, Hunted, Lost in a BookBeauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly
Published by Disney Press on January 31st 2017
Pages: 352
Genres: Fantasy, Fairy-Tales/Retellings
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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two-stars

Smart, bookish Belle, a captive in the Beast’s castle, has become accustomed to her new home and has befriended its inhabitants. When she comes upon Nevermore, an enchanted book unlike anything else she has seen in the castle, Belle finds herself pulled into its pages and transported to a world of glamour and intrigue. The adventures Belle has always imagined, the dreams she was forced to give up when she became a prisoner, seem within reach again.

The charming and mysterious characters Belle meets within the pages of Nevermore offer her glamorous conversation, a life of dazzling Parisian luxury, and even a reunion she never thought possible. Here Belle can have everything she has ever wished for. But what about her friends in the Beast’s castle? Can Belle trust her new companions inside the pages of Nevermore? Is Nevermore’s world even real? Belle must uncover the truth about the book, before she loses herself in it forever.

“Isn’t that what a good story does? It pulls you in and never lets you go.”

DAMMIT, I WANTED THIS STORY TO PULL ME IN AND NEVER LET ME GO.

Lost in a Book replicates its Disney counterpart where Belle is a captive of the Beast in his castle that still includes Cogsworth, Lumiere, Mrs. Potts, Chip, and more. Beast reveals his library to Belle and she is awed, but instead of the bright shiny room of perfection we all have embedded in our minds:

Belle immediately realizes how much the library has fallen into disrepair and needs to be cleaned excessively. Within this library, she finds a room and within this room a special book which transports her to a world of adventure where anything is possible. She quickly becomes enamored with the book and the world it shows her, despite her understanding that it isn’t actually real, and is constantly sneaking away to be in this world. When she isn’t hiding in the book, she’s complaining ad nauseam about her provincial life.

Good gawd, we get it, you hate your life. Lost in a Book quickly becomes less about the Beast and all about Belle… more scenes from his point of view would have been welcome. Any scenes that showed the Beast’s feelings for Belle grow felt lacking any sort of emotion and instead felt like all it was was a last ditch effort to save his servants. Maybe those parts were left out with the understanding that we knew, based on the Disney production, how Beast actually felt, but I wanted to see it included in the story itself since there were so many changes I felt it should have been able to stand on its own. Especially in regards to the villain: Gaston was absent completely in exchange for a female villain: Death. Yes, Death. You see, the story actually starts with Death and her sister Love.

Indeed. See Death and Love made a bet that Belle wouldn’t be the one to break the spell (Death obviously bet against her) and when she began to realize that Love might actually win, she set out to make sure that didn’t happen. *yawn* This could have been a charming addition to Beauty and the Beast retellings but the story lacked any real substance and most definitely lacked the magic the original tale had.

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