When people go missing in the sleepy town of Smith's Hollow, the only clue to their fate comes when a teenager starts having terrifying visions, in a chilling horror novel from national bestselling author Christina Henry.
When the bodies of two girls are found torn apart in the town of Smiths Hollow, Lauren is surprised, but she also expects that the police won't find the killer. After all, the year before her father's body was found with his heart missing, and since then everyone has moved on. Even her best friend, Miranda, has become more interested in boys than in spending time at the old ghost tree, the way they used to when they were kids.
So when Lauren has a vision of a monster dragging the remains of the girls through the woods, she knows she can't just do nothing. Not like the rest of her town. But as she draws closer to answers, she realizes that the foundation of her seemingly normal town might be rotten at the center. And that if nobody else stands for the missing, she will.
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.
A space princess on the run and a notorious outlaw soldier become unlikely allies in this imaginative, sexy space opera adventure—the first in an exciting science fiction trilogy.
In the far distant future, the universe is officially ruled by the Royal Consortium, but the High Councillors, the heads of the three High Houses, wield the true power. As the fifth of six children, Ada von Hasenberg has no authority; her only value to her High House is as a pawn in a political marriage. When her father arranges for her to wed a noble from House Rockhurst, a man she neither wants nor loves, Ada seizes control of her own destiny. The spirited princess flees before the betrothal ceremony and disappears among the stars.
Ada eluded her father’s forces for two years, but now her luck has run out. To ensure she cannot escape again, the fiery princess is thrown into a prison cell with Marcus Loch. Known as the Devil of Fornax Zero, Loch is rumored to have killed his entire chain of command during the Fornax Rebellion, and the Consortium wants his head.
When the ship returning them to Earth is attacked by a battle cruiser from rival House Rockhurst, Ada realizes that if her jilted fiancé captures her, she’ll become a political prisoner and a liability to her House. Her only hope is to strike a deal with the dangerous fugitive: a fortune if he helps her escape.
But when you make a deal with an irresistibly attractive Devil, you may lose more than you bargained for . . .
DNF @ 33%
My hopes were high when I first saw this title for two reasons. 1. I’m always looking for my next Fortune’s Pawn (because that book was hands down amazing) and this one sounded like it had the potential to come close and 2. the amazing blurb on the front cover from my favorite duo: Ilona Andrews.
Runaway space princess, badass and dangerous male lead, and of course, space. This really did have all the elements of a story I would normally love but there was something off about it for me, although, I attributed it to the impending book slump I felt creeping up on me. I got to about 1/3 read before I realized that it still wasn’t doing it for me and that despite having everything I should love, it felt too mechanical as if the story was following a tried and true formula that so many books before it have used and its heart just wasn’t in it.
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.
Maid Marian doesn’t know how she’ll go on, but the people of Locksley town, persecuted by the Sheriff of Nottingham, need a protector. And the dreadful Guy of Gisborne, the Sheriff’s right hand, wishes to step into Robin’s shoes as Lord of Locksley and Marian’s fiancé.
Who is there to stop them?
Marian never meant to tread in Robin’s footsteps—never intended to stand as a beacon of hope to those awaiting his triumphant return. But with a sweep of his green cloak and the flash of her sword, Marian makes the choice to become her own hero: Robin Hood.
DNF @ 20%
I’m a huuuuuge Robin Hood fan so I was thrilled to find out about this gender-bent version where Maid Marian takes up where Robin left off following his death. A badass Maid Marian, what could possibly go wrong? Oh wait, I spoke too soon.
Plotwise, practically nothing seems to transpire in the 20% I managed to read (and considering this book is a hefty 480 pages, that’s damn near 100 pages. Something should have happened.) And the highly anticipated badass Maid Marian? Instead of badass, she was just perfect at everything and we were constantly reminded how much better she was than even Robin. There’s confidence but then there’s just being a pompous ass and that’s exactly where Maid Marian ended up on the spectrum.
I received this book free from Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The author of the acclaimed Crooked Heart returns with a comic, charming, and surprisingly timely portrait of a once pioneering suffragette trying to find her new passion in post-WWI era London.
1928. Riffling through a cupboard, Matilda Simpkin comes across a small wooden club—an old possession that she hasn’t seen for more than a decade. Immediately, memories come flooding back to Mattie—memories of a thrilling past, which only further serve to remind her of her chafingly uneventful present. During the Women's Suffrage Campaign, she was a militant who was jailed five times and never missed an opportunity to return to the fray. Now in middle age, the closest she gets to the excitement of her old life is the occasional lecture on the legacy of the militant movement.
After running into an old suffragette comrade who has committed herself to the wave of Fascism, Mattie realizes there is a new cause she needs to fight for and turns her focus to a new generation of women. Thus the Amazons are formed, a group created to give girls a place to not only exercise their bodies but their minds, and ignite in young women a much-needed interest in the world around them. But when a new girl joins the group, sending Mattie’s past crashing into her present, every principle Mattie has ever stood for is threatened.
Old Baggage is a funny and bittersweet portrait of a woman who has never given up the fight and the young women who are just discovering it.
DNF @ 10%
The story of an elderly suffragette who now leaves a comfortable life decides to leave that comfort behind and get out there and continue to make a difference. Maybe I didn’t give it long enough but such a powerful subject matter needed to be more engaging. The writing was well done and the historical research was evident but it was unfortunately a bit dry.
Sybella has always been the darkest of Death’s daughters, trained at the convent of Saint Mortain to serve as his justice. But she has a new mission now. In a desperate bid to keep her two youngest sisters safe from the family that nearly destroyed them all, she agrees to accompany the duchess to France, where they quickly find themselves surrounded by enemies. Their one ray of hope is Sybella’s fellow novitiates, disguised and hidden deep in the French court years ago by the convent—provided Sybella can find them.
Genevieve has been undercover for so many years, she struggles to remember who she is or what she’s supposed to be fighting for. Her only solace is a hidden prisoner who appears all but forgotten by his guards. When tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to take matters into her own hands—even if it means ignoring the long awaited orders from the convent.
As Sybella and Gen’s paths draw ever closer, the fate of everything they hold sacred rests on a knife’s edge. Will they find each other in time, or will their worlds collide, destroying everything they care about?
DNF @ 10%
Courting Darkness returns the focus to Sybella (originally from Dark Triumph) and her new mission in life. I adored the original trilogy and while it has been said that it’s not necessary to read them to appreciate the new duology, I found a definite lack of world-building and establishment of character in this installment. Whether or not it’s necessary, I would highly recommend reading them for the background knowledge alone since it does not appear to be given in Courting Darkness. And while it must be said that there isn’t anything necessarily wrong with this story (despite my obvious DNF) I realized shortly into this that while I was originally excited for more stories set in this world, I felt that the original trio’s stories had been told and nothing more was needed.
I received this book free from Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Cassandra follows a woman who goes to work in a top secret research facility during WWII, only to be tormented by visions of what the mission will mean for humankind.
Mildred Groves is an unusual young woman. Gifted and cursed with the ability to see the future, Mildred runs away from home to take a secretary position at the Hanford Research Center in the early 1940s. Hanford, a massive construction camp on the banks of the Columbia River in remote South Central Washington, exists to test and manufacture a mysterious product that will aid the war effort. Only the top generals and scientists know that this product is processed plutonium, for use in the first atomic bombs.
Mildred is delighted, at first, to be part of something larger than herself after a lifetime spent as an outsider. But her new life takes a dark turn when she starts to have prophetic dreams about what will become of humankind if the project is successful. As the men she works for come closer to achieving their goals, her visions intensify to a nightmarish pitch, and she eventually risks everything to question those in power, putting her own physical and mental health in jeopardy. Inspired by the classic Greek myth, this 20th century reimagining of Cassandra's story is based on a real WWII compound that the author researched meticulously. A timely novel about patriarchy and militancy, The Cassandra uses both legend and history to look deep into man's capacity for destruction, and the resolve and compassion it takes to challenge the powerful.
DNF @ 21%
In Greek mythology, Cassandra was cursed to speak prophecies that no one would ever believe. Sharma Shields’ Cassandra is a woman who also possesses the ability to prophesize and when she goes to work for the research facility that created the atomic bomb during WWII, her protestations fall on deaf ears when she tries to warn everyone of what’s to come. The plot of this one sounded fascinating and I was anxiously awaiting my opportunity to read it but unfortunately, I found Cassandra’s character to be insufferable and the rest of the characters were completely depthless. Whether or not they were developed further on in the story is a moot point since I obviously did not finish this story, however, character development is not a better late than never sort of thing and should have been done in the very beginning. The bit of story I did read left a lot to be desired plot-wise as well. Cassandra’s story lacked fluidity and felt rather like she was simply checking off boxes on a list of what she knows she does in life. Considering she’s got the gift of prophecy it’s thoroughly possible that this could have been the reason, except, Cassandra never felt like an active participant in her own life and seemed much more likely that it was the author checking off boxes instead. It was at about the point I hit this quote that I decided this just wasn’t for me:
“I admired his stridency. I wanted to bake it, to eat it like a large meat loaf so that it would enter my bloodstream and become my own.”
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.
In this breathtakingly bold, intricately constructed novel set in 18th century Stockholm, a dying man searches among the city’s teeming streets, dark corners, and intriguing inhabitants to unmask a ruthless murderer—perfect for fans of Perfume and The Alienist.
It is 1793. Four years after the storming of the Bastille in France and more than a year after the death of King Gustav III of Sweden, paranoia and whispered conspiracies are Stockholm’s daily bread. A promise of violence crackles in the air as ordinary citizens feel increasingly vulnerable to the whims of those in power.
When Mickel Cardell, a crippled ex-solider and former night watchman, finds a mutilated body floating in the city’s malodorous lake, he feels compelled to give the unidentifiable man a proper burial. For Cecil Winge, a brilliant lawyer turned consulting detective to the Stockholm police, a body with no arms, legs, or eyes is a formidable puzzle and one last chance to set things right before he loses his battle to consumption. Together, Winge and Cardell scour Stockholm to discover the body’s identity, encountering the sordid underbelly of the city’s elite. Meanwhile, Kristofer Blix—the handsome son of a farmer—leaves rural life for the alluring charms of the capital and ambitions of becoming a doctor. His letters to his sister chronicle his wild good times and terrible misfortunes, which lead him down a treacherous path.
In another corner of the city, a young woman—Anna-Stina—is consigned to the workhouse after she upsets her parish priest. Her unlikely escape plan takes on new urgency when a sadistic guard marks her as his next victim.
Over the course of the novel, these extraordinary characters cross paths and collide in shocking and unforgettable ways. Niklas Natt och Dag paints a deliciously dark portrait of late 18th century Stockholm, and the frightful yet fascinating reality lurking behind the powdered and painted veneer of the era.
DNF @ 20%
The Wolf and the Watchmen is a story set in 1793 involving the brutal murder of a man and the duo on the hunt for the perpetrator. This is quite a violent and graphic story but it paints a vivid portrait of 18th century Sweden. Did anyone watch the show Taboo with Tom Hardy? It reminded me a lot of that except Taboo has a facet of the supernatural and this story did not. While I don’t normally need supernatural additives in my historical fiction for them to suceed, it did make me realize that I felt like there was something missing to this story that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. This story is admittedly very well-written and I can see why it was awarded best debut novel by The Swedish Academy of Crime Writers, unfortunately, the bleakness of the story was absolute and I couldn’t find the motivation to finish.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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.’
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.
A mind-bending new novel inspired by the twisted and wondrous works of Lewis Carroll...
In a warren of crumbling buildings and desperate people called the Old City, there stands a hospital with cinderblock walls which echo the screams of the poor souls inside.
In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blond, hangs in tangles down her back. She doesn’t remember why she’s in such a terrible place. Just a tea party long ago, and long ears, and blood…
Then, one night, a fire at the hospital gives the woman a chance to escape, tumbling out of the hole that imprisoned her, leaving her free to uncover the truth about what happened to her all those years ago.
Only something else has escaped with her. Something dark. Something powerful.
And to find the truth, she will have to track this beast to the very heart of the Old City, where the rabbit waits for his Alice.
‘Alice hardly recalled when she was new and whole. That girl seemed like someone else she’d known once, long ago and far away.’
When Alice was sixteen-years-old, she snuck out of New City and into Old City with her friend Dor. She returned home changed irrevocably: she had a cut across her face that would no doubt transform her beautiful face into a scarred one, she was covered in blood, and she couldn’t stop talking about Rabbit. Her parents are determined to quiet any negative gossip that could be associated with their family so they place her in a mental asylum in Old City and there she remains for ten years. Drugged daily, memories of the Rabbit still haunt her and her only companion is Hatcher, a man that she speaks with through a small mouse hole which connects their two rooms. When a fire consumes the asylum and something powerful within is released, her and Hatcher escape together. Together they must work to contain what was released and Alice intends to find the truth of what happened to her all those years ago.
“I feel the night crawling up all around, blotting out the moon. I feel blood running down the walls, rivers of it in the streets below. And I feel his teeth closing around me.”
This book was mad. Completely and utterly mad. It’s this bizarre mix of fantasy and horror but is one outrageously insane nightmare. So, if you’re looking for some variation on the original Disney tale? hahahaha…. Look elsewhere. I read this entire book with this look on my face:
All the characters from the original tales are included in this retelling, except their roles are vastly different (and they are men, not animals). We see Chesire, Caterpiller, the Carpenter, and Walrus who are all crime bosses in Old City. But instead of just silly illusions we’re dealing with fighting rings, sex trafficking (massive trigger warnings here in terms of rape), cannibalism, some horrifying depictions of slavery and magical body modifications… (refer to above gif once again for my response). Honestly, this book is extremely disturbing and the incredible amount of non-stop violence felt like a complete assault on my being at times. Even if it was a difficult read, it was quite remarkable how the author managed to take the basis of a story yet transform it so drastically so as to render it nearly unrecognizable. What didn’t work quite as well was how the actual characters themselves were written. Whether it’s because the author chose to focus completely on the world itself or because she chose to have us rely on our recollections of the characters from the original tale, either way, the characters themselves were lacking in both personal detailing and their general motivations.
This story isn’t going to be for everyone and it’s definitely going to take someone with a higher threshold for reading some seriously messed up shit. It’s grotesque yet in that captivating way that keeps you reading while simultaneously thinking: “What the hell else could possibly happen?”
This fantasy horror mashup will definitely appeal to fans of unconventional fairytale retellings.
The author of Alice takes readers back down the rabbit hole to a dark, twisted, and fascinating world based on the works of Lewis Carroll…
Alice and Hatcher have escaped the Rabbit, Cheshire, and the Jabberwocky, but they are still on a mission to find Hatcher’s missing daughter, a quest they will not forsake even as it takes them deep into the clutches of the mad White Queen and her goblin or into the realm of the twisted and cruel Black King.
The pieces are set and the game has already begun. Each move brings Alice closer to her destiny. But, to win, she will need to harness her newfound abilities and ally herself with someone even more powerful—the mysterious and vengeful Red Queen…
“Once, there was a girl called Alice, and she lived in the New City, where everything is shining and beautiful and fair. But Alice was a curious girl with a curious talent. She was a Magician.”
After Hatcher and Alice discovered the truth of their pasts, they set out in search of Hatcher’s daughter Jenny who was believed to have been sold and sent East. On their journey, they stumble upon a small village near the woods with the horrifying stories of the children that they must sacrifice to the White Queen. Alice believes she can be of help to these people despite her inability to consistently use her magic and when Hatcher disappears, Alice is left on her own to take care of herself and make things right for the village.
‘There were monsters in the night but there were monsters in the day too, and monsters inside people who smiled and showed you all their teeth like they were nice.’
Reading this duology back to back was like shifting from fifth gear down to second without slowing down. If Alice was 100% horror, Red Queen is more like 30% and has all the building blocks to make it feel more like the fairytale these stories are based on. Creepy woods that contain unknown creatures that hunt at night, a White Queen and a Black King and the mysterious story of their pasts, magical villages that possess untold rules, a goblin that can fool you with illusions, and giants who were transformed from normal men by a malicious queen. For the majority of this story, Alice is the sole character presence and we get an inside look at her thought process which at first is hesitant and insecure at her ability to do anything on her own. Alice is not only besieged with her personal identity crisis but also with getting a grasp on her magical abilities. The build-up to her gaining confidence is a bit of a plodding process but is a necessity to make her change a realistic one.
The fairytale aspects of this story take center stage when it comes to wrapping up this magical adventure by cleaning up loose ends in a bit of a rapid and unrealistic (but realistic in fairytale standards) style. While I was glad to get a respite from the brutality of the first installment, I think there should have been more included in Red Queen so it felt less like a completely separate story instead of a continuation of the first.Christina Henry certainly knows how to mix up a fairytale and turn it into something awe-inspiring though and I look forward to next reading her take on Peter Pan and Captain Hook in
Christina Henry certainly knows how to mix up a fairytale and turn it into something awe-inspiring though and I look forward to next reading her take on Peter Pan and Captain Hook in Lost Boy.
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.
At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king's marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.
Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
‘She would be queen, and queens… queens did not open bakeries with their best friends. Queens did not gossip with half-invisible cats. Queens did not have dreams of yellow-eyed boys and wake up with lemon trees over their beds.’
Catherine, the Queen of Hearts, before she became the crazed monarch of Wonderland,
was a girl with hopes and dreams of living a quiet life, making delicious foods, and happily loving someone that loves her just as much. Being the daughter of a Marquess though, the life she envisions for herself is far from what is expected of her. When the King of Hearts begins showing an interest in obtaining her hand, Catherine fears that she won’t be able to say no even if saying yes will banish her hopes and dreams permanently. But when the man with the yellow eyes from her dreams makes an appearance in her waking hours, she dares to hope for that unattainable future once again.
‘It had been a hazy, beautiful dream, and in it there had been a hazy, beautiful boy. He was dressed all in black and standing in an orchard of lemon trees, and she had the distinct sensation that he had something that belonged to her.’
We’re first introduced to this jubilant girl with a zest for life which is such a stark contrast to how we know her character turns out in the end. While we all know the inevitable outcome, I was most interested to see how she came to be. My initial concern with this story was simple: that she became this bitter, enraged woman solely because of a broken heart. I needed the reasoning behind her considerable transformation to have a little bit more substance. While there were some lagging sections near the middle of the story and some obscure mysteries that didn’t fully make sense until the end, I was actually quite pleased with the end result and felt that her drastic alteration in character ended up flowing well and wasn’t quite as drastic at first glance. The outcome, while expected, still made for an enticing story just to see how all the pieces fell into place.
Before this happens though, we’re taken through her tumultuous roller coaster of emotions where she’s discovering her growing love for one man whilst being forced into the marriage of another. It was all fairly devastating to witness and very Romeo & Juliet. She continuously found tranquility through her baking and the joy she had for her delicious concoctions was infectious and will leave you with many a craving.
‘This was why she enjoyed baking. A good dessert could make her feel like she’d created joy at the tips of her fingers. Suddenly, the people around the table were no longer strangers. They were friends and confidantes, and she was sharing with them her magic.’
The obstacle with retellings is that everyone knows the story yet you’re tasked with trying to come up with your own unique interpretation. Change things too much though and you’re no longer being faithful to the original tale. It’s a fine line between the two, but Meyer had the benefit of being able to create a backstory for this character from scratch. I can say with complete aplomb that her imaginative backstory felt authentic and suitable not just to the Queen of Hearts character but to the entire Wonderland world.
One to be a murderer, the other to be martyred, One to be a monarch, the other to go mad.
I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of this story from Feiwel & Friends and now would like to share it with one of my readers!
Leave a comment expressing your interest in this story to enter!
This giveaway is open to US residents only and will end on November 22nd, 2016.
Prohibition, the KKK, and Hamlet collide in this richly imagined historical mystery by Morris Award finalist Cat Winters
A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.
1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.
The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.
The year is 1923 and in a small town in Oregon, hate spreads like wildfire. Life is challenging for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a black man and a white woman, but she has learned to persevere. When her father is killed by a drunk driver, she’s devastated by his absence from her life, especially after her mother quickly remarries. The boy responsible for his death, Joe Adder, is released from prison a mere seventeen months after being sentenced and once Hanalee finds out she takes her anger and a loaded gun to pay him a visit. After speaking with Joe, she leaves with her entire perception changed after hearing a vastly different story about what happened the night her dad died: he didn’t die from an automobile accident and that the man her mom remarried is the one truly responsible for his death.
I’ve read every Cat Winters book at this point but they seem to be hit or miss for me. I loved both In the Shadow of Blackbirds and The Uninvited, but felt The Cure for Dreaming was slightly mediocre in comparison. The Steep & Thorny Way falls in the latter category. Much like Dreaming, I felt that the subject matter was something I would normally welcome, however, overall it ended up feeling incredibly flat and listless. Cat Winters signature style has always been a fusion of stories with historical importance and a flair of paranormal, and it’s something that she does quite well. With, Thorny though, the Hamlet retelling comparisons as well as the paranormal aspects were elements which could have been left out entirely without affecting the story. A story about a half black/half white girl living during the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and a homosexual boy that is struggling to survive in a time where the study of eugenics has many thinking the issue of homosexuality is something that can be “fixed” is absolutely a strong enough story on its own.
I always appreciate the lesser known periods of history being given a spotlight and it’s interesting to see a story focus on the influence of the Ku Klux Klan extending far past the deep South, clear into Oregon. Tackling both race and sexuality prejudices in addition to touching on the topic of eugenics was edifying without feeling overwhelming, except I kept feeling off and on as if these characters were simplistic versions of their true potential. I suppose what it all boils down to though is Winters definitely demonstrates the ugliness of the times, yet it’s covered in a glossy veneer that hides the true grotesqueness doing the seriousness of the story somewhat of a disservice.
Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.
Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.
With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.
I’M SORRY. I CAN’T DISCUSS THIS WITHOUT SOME SPOILERS. BEWARE.
“I was not a pet, not a doll, not an animal. I was a survivor, and I was strong. I would not be weak, or helpless again I would not, could not be broken. Tamed.”
Feyre and Tamlin have survived Amarantha and have returned home, but things are no longer the same after everything they suffered through. Tamlin has taken his protective instincts to a terrifying new high and Feyre is slowly wasting away from her guilt and the nightmares that haunt her even during her waking hours. She wishes to serve a purpose, to learn to fight so that she could defend herself if need be, and to learn the ins and outs of her newly gained powers. Tamlin refuses to allow her to do anything and day after day Feyre loses more and more of herself. When Rhysand shows up to call on the bargain they made with one another when she was near death Under the Mountain, the time spent away from the Spring Court begins to open her eyes once more.
Basically, everything about the first book was injected with steroids and made infinitely better. I talked about what a strong and capable character Feyre was, and she was, and sure she’s fae now so she’s all magical but what an incredible character build. Simply incredible. Maas spends a lot of time detailing the darkness and guilt that had penetrated her mind and that mental strain was so saddening to read. The fact that she suffered through those things to save the one she loved only to have him hinder her healing and actually make it worse because of his own lingering suffering. If I had actually liked Tamlin in the first book I’d probably feel bad for him but I didn’t so I don’t. I have to also applaud the slow and steady build of the grasp on her powers too. It’s always nice in fantasy stories to see the characters have to actual struggle and work at shit rather than waking up and being an ultimate badass out of nowhere. Maas did an equally impressive job with Celaena in her Throne of Glass series so hats off to her.
“He thinks he’ll be remembered as the villain in the story. But I forgot to tell him that the villain is usually the person who locks up the maiden and throws away the key. He was the one who let me out.”
I picked at her and Tamlin’s relationship as well in the first book, noting its lack of depth. Sure, they had some steamy scenes but that’s ultimately all it was: physical. Well, holy shit sticks. Feyre and Tamlin were a complete and utter farce compared to Feyre and Rhysand. The passion and desire… it was palpable and I got so emotional that I straight up burst into tears on the freaking bike at the gym during an especially lovey moment. I’m not a big crier, for the record. I’m really curious if Maas went into this series with a complete game plan in mind in terms of the romance because the second book did a bit of a 180° which I think would have been hard for Tamlin fans to understand. Feyre doesn’t immediately jump to a new relationship though, it’s slowly navigated through for over half of this 640 page story and over many months of mental healing (which Rhysand also helps her with in such a way that Tamlin never did). And then before they even got to the actual romance there was plenty of flirting that had me screaming OH MY GAWD JUST FUCKING KISS ALREADY. Either way, I am all on board the Feyre and Rhysand train. Toot toot. Fun side note: I had a good time imagining Rhysand as David Gandy because why not. 😂
“My friend through many dangers. My lover who had healed my broken and weary soul. My mate who had waited for me against all hope, despite all odds.”
I’ve found that most books that have some an immense focus on the romance tends to slack off on other aspects of the book. I may be talking a lot about the romance because it was truly off the charts amazing, but there are other facets of this book that are equally deserving of note. Most especially would be the descriptions and characterizations of other members of the Night Court. The inner circle: Amren, Azriel, Mor, Cassian. Such comprehensively written characters that never faded to the background. They became Feyre’s family and it was wonderful to see her come back to life not just because of a new, passionate romance with someone that truly appreciated her but because of new friends that became new family. I also enjoyed the exquisite descriptions of the Night Court but most especially of Velaris — the City of Starlight.
Honestly, it’s near impossible sometimes to rationally discuss books that you loved. For a book blogger, I consider myself to be pretty restrained in regards to how crazy I get about books I love. But with A Court of Mist and Fury, there were moments where I felt so overwhelmed at how unbelievably awesome this story was that I couldn’t take it anymore and I started to think I should either take a break or find a paper bag to breathe into just to be safe. I may not have loved A Court of Thorns and Roses but I adored this book. There was excitement and badassery and the most passionate love that managed to make me envious for a pair of fictional character in addition to some of the steamiest sex scenes I have ever read and yes I have read my fair share. Simply put, it was superb and it’s going to be one hell of a long wait for May 2017 when the next installment comes out. Until then, I’ll just be over here.
A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.
As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it... or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.
Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!
A fairy-tale retelling of Beauty and the Beast in a world made up of humans and faeries. Five hundred years before, humans were enslaved by faeries but following the Treaty, the wall was built to relegate humans to a sliver of land kept separate from faeries. Growing up, Feyre has known nothing but hate for faeries and their kind, hearing the stories of their violence and abuse of power. Her family was once great, living in a manor, with her father being a lucrative merchant. But now, at nineteen years old she is the youngest of her two other sisters, but it is left up to her to ensure her families safety after their mothers death and her fathers inability to care for them any longer. Not wanting to fall asleep another night with an empty belly, she sets out to the dangerous forest and does manage to fell a deer, but also a massive wolf. This wolf though, was actually fae and his master appears soon after demanding retribution by way of her death. Shockingly, she is offered an alternative: that Feyre come live on his land forever, in safety not to be enslaved, never to see her family again. She accepts.
“I threw myself into that fire, threw myself into it, into him, and let myself burn.”
Having lived in fear of the fae, she is shocked to realize that they aren’t quite as brutal as is commonly said. And the one that offered her her life, Tamlin, is incredibly kind to her forcing her to re-evaluate her generalized feelings about his kind. During her time there, she discovers that there is a blight on the land that resulted in the fae being forced to forever hide their faces behind masks, a female fae that everyone seems to be terrified of, and enough secrets to make anyone curious. But by the time she finds out exactly what is being kept from her, will it be too late?
This was one of those that I never got around to reading (even though I received an ARC) because of the massive hype surrounding it. Eighteen months later and look at me, I’m finally reading it! So much time had lapsed that I had even forgot that this was a Beauty and the Beast retelling with a faerie twist! Incredibly fascinating concept so I was eager to love it. Alas, I did not, but it was still an enjoyable tale.
From the very beginning I adored Feyre. She was quite a capable character that was willing to do anything to make sure her family was able to eat. Even though she was the youngest of her two other sisters (with one of them being a royal asshole that I totally would have let starve) and even though her father could have gotten a job but simply didn’t. The fact that she stayed as strong as she was, didn’t let life beat her down, was a testament to her tenacity and I loved her for it. Once she arrived in the faerie kingdom, she got a few points docked for being such an imbecile and running off into danger all the damn time but I guess we have to consider the fact that even though she was being told shit was dangerous, she didn’t really know who to trust. Tamlin was the requisite studly yet brooding faerie that she was clearly meant to fall for from the very beginning. He was interesting but he was no Beast… he was trying way too damn hard and it becomes a little obvious in the end why that is but I won’t spoil that. All in all though he was a pretty boring love interest that lacked a lot of depth.
And now for my biggest issue: the romance. Honestly, the sexy times descriptions by themselves were cringe worthy.
“…ignoring how easily I could see the cut of his muscles beneath his white shirt, the way the blood soaking it made them stand out even more.”
And my favorite that had me laughing like a loon:
“My fingers grappled with his belt buckle, and his mouth found mine again. Our tongues danced – not a waltz or a minuet, but a war dance, a death dance of bone drums and screaming fiddles.”
I mean, seriously? War dance? Bone drums? Screaming fiddles?
I mentioned that Tamlin lacked depth, well, the romance really lacked depth. But then again, if you think about it, seems a bit fitting in terms of Disney fairy-tale comparisons. They make swoony eyes at one another, someone gets put into mortal danger leading the other to make some heroic rescue, there’s some dancing and kisses and just general love stuff going on. Disney romances never consist of talking about feelings and working through issues, it’s just sweet and flawless and they live happily ever after, the end. Fortunately, Maas didn’t leave us with that yawn worthy ending. Which brings me to the question I’d been asking myself almost the entire time: So… who’s Gaston in this tale? Amarantha. Evil incarnate. And yes, a woman. She turns the tables forcing Feyre to be the rescuer in this story and basically, badassery ensues. I will let the rest be a surprise in addition to the character fully introduced near the end that made it ALL worth while.
Maas really had a fascinating concept with her fantasy/fairy-tale hybrid, but I feel that it never quite came to fruition for me. The world-building was superb and I feel with a bit more time delving into the actual characters in future installments we’ll have a real winner with this one. At least one can hope.