Category Archives: fantasy

The Hazel Wood – Book Review

Title: The Hazel Wood

Author: Melissa Albert

Pages: 368

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Published: January 30, 2018

Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away—by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began—and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

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Review:

The Hazel Wood is not the kind of fairytale that you were told as a child. It is a story full of mystery, intrigue and horrors you don’t want to imagine. The Hinterland is nothing like Wonderland, and Alice most definitely does NOT want to fall down the rabbit hole, but if she is to save her mother, that’s exactly what she’ll have to do.

It took me a long time to read this book, and once I finished, I wasn’t all that impressed. I started reading this book a little bit before Halloween, and didn’t finish it until the very end of the year. I never found myself needing to read this book to find out what would happen. In fact, I almost had to force myself to finish it just so that I could enter the new year on a clean slate and not in the middle of any books.

I think that this story will appeal to many readers, but it wasn’t for me. There are a lot of parallels to Alice in Wonderland, and at times it felt like it drew too much influence from other works. Overall the book felt slow, and dragged on forever in the first 2/3 of the book, and then the end felt so rushed and like everything was being tied up hastily without much thought for the story.

I think because this book is so hyped, I had really high expectations going into it, which made me all the more disappointed when I couldn’t get into it. I give The Hazel Wood 2.75/5 stars, and that’s really only because I liked the dark fairytales from Alice’s grandmother’s book, Tales from the Hinterland. It’s a shame the rest of the book couldn’t live up to my expectations.

*I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

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My Top 17 of 2017

How is it already almost time to ring in the new year? I feel like I say this every year, but this year went by insanely fast! Before I knew it, I looked at the calendar and realized that it was time to narrow down my top 17 reads of the year. It was especially hard this year, because I read 218 books this year! Last year I read 82 books, so I thought I was being ambitious by setting my goal at 100. Little did I know I would read more than double that! So without any further ado, here are the books that I enjoyed the most in 2017, in no particular order.

 

I absolutely love cute contemporary books, and Tell Me Three Things was one of the best contemporary books I’ve read! The characters are so lovable, and there is a lot of character development that happens. To see my full review, click here.

 

 

 

Nice Try, Jane Sinner is what happens when Big Brother meets community college. This book is hilarious and real. NTJS goes on sale January 9th, so you’re definitely going to want to check this one out. See my review here.

 

 

The Winner’s Curse was the first book I read in 2017, and I loved it so much that I reread it a couple months ago. Kestrel is such a strong female lead, and I love the world building in this series. Check out my full review here.

 

 

 

 

By Your Side is another cute contemporary book. This one follows the story of Autumn when she accidentally gets locked in the library with a cute boy during a snowstorm. Who doesn’t want to get locked in a library for a weekend?

 

 

I was ecstatic when I heard John Green was releasing another book, and Turtles did not disappoint. I found that this book was a bit challenging to get through when Aza is having thought spirals, but it was so appropriate because anxiety and mental health issues are extremely difficult to live through.

 

 

 

This book was so hyped before it came out, and it was well-deserved hype. I heard a lot of comparisons between AEOR and ACOTAR, and while there are some similarities, An Enchantment of Ravens is very much a unique story and I fell in love with the characters and the setting.

 

 

 

Love & Gelato combines two of my favorite things in contemporary books: travel, and swoony boys! There’s some fun adventure in this book, and I can’t wait for Jenna Evans Welch’s next book!

 

 

 

 

Walk on Earth a Stranger is such an amazing book! It takes place during the California Gold Rush, and features an amazing cast of characters, along with some magic. The series wrapped up this year, so I highly recommend picking this up if you like YA historical fiction with a hint of fantasy.

 

 

I tried SO hard to read ACOMAF last year, but I just couldn’t get into it. I picked it up again this year and LOVED it so much. Sarah J. Maas is one of the best authors there is, and ACOMAF might be my favorite book she’s written so far. She does swoony men so well!

 

 

 

I read my first Marissa Meyer book this year, and loved it so much. Heartless was so magical, and the descriptions of food in this book are amazing. Every time I think of this book, I start craving lemon tarts. You know an author is great when she makes you love a character that you weren’t that interested in to begin with.

 

 

Katie Cotugno was a new author I discovered this year, and she quickly became one of my favorites. Her books are all so real, and deal with real issues that teenagers actually deal with. Her writing is raw, and I love it. I can’t wait for the sequel to this, 9 Days and 9 Nights.

 

 

 

The Belles was a book that I was so excited to snag an ARC of at YALLWEST, and it did not disappoint! The world and story is full of magic, wonder and whimsy, and really immerses the reader into the story. I can’t wait for this book to come out so everyone can share in the amazingness. It hits shelves on February 6th, 2018.

 

 

Another travel book! This was a really fun YA book, because the characters were college-aged, which I appreciate a lot. Sydney and Leela get into some crazy antics on their wild European vacation.

 

 

 

 

Daughter of the Pirate King sat on my TBR for the longest time, but once I picked it up, I flew through it! This was such a well written book, and I loved the pirate theme going for it. I absolutely can’t wait to see what Alosa gets up to in Daughter of the Siren Queen.

 

 

 

I love Krysten Ritter, so when I found out that she was writing a book, I knew I had to read it. Bonfire is a mystery thriller that really kept me wondering what was going to happen next. I hope this isn’t the last that we see of Krysten Ritter’s author career.

 

 

 

This book really surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. It takes place in an airport during a major snowstorm. All flights get cancelled, and Ryn meets some new people in the airport that help her to get through a tough time.

 

 

 

Glitter was one of my favorite books of 2016, so it only makes sense that the sequel, Shatter, made it onto my top list as well. Danica’s story is full of excitement and drama. I’m so curious to see where the final book takes this story. Shatter comes out on February 13th, 2018.

True North – Book Review

To see all of the great blogs featuring True Born and True North on this blog tour, click on the banner above!

Title: True North

Author: L. E. Sterling

Pages: 400 (Hardcover)

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Published: April 4, 2017

Summary:

Abandoned by her family in Plague-ridden Dominion City, eighteen-year-old Lucy Fox has no choice but to rely upon the kindness of the True Borns, a renegade group of genetically enhanced humans, to save her twin sister, Margot. But Nolan Storm, their mysterious leader, has his own agenda. When Storm backtracks on his promise to rescue Margot, Lucy takes her fate into her own hands and sets off for Russia with her True Born bodyguard and maybe-something-more, the lethal yet beautiful Jared Price. In Russia, there’s been whispered rumors of Plague Cure.

While Lucy fights her magnetic attraction to Jared, anxious that his loyalty to Storm will hurt her chances of finding her sister, they quickly discover that not all is as it appears…and discovering the secrets contained in the Fox sisters’ blood before they wind up dead is just the beginning.??

As they say in Dominion, sometimes it’s not you…it’s your DNA.

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Review:

If you haven’t read my review of the first book in the series, True Born, be sure to go check that out HERE.

True North returns readers to Dominion City, where the plague is continuing to wipe out the population. While I generally enjoyed this book just as I did the first one, there were a few issues that I had with it.

First, for a good chunk of the book, I felt like nothing was happening. Yes, I was reading words and some things were going on, but there was no advancement to the plot. The pace in the beginning of the book was slow and dragged on, causing me to wonder when something was actually going to happen. However, once things did start happening, it hooked my attention again and kept me hungry for more.

I love that this series explores a world that could conceivably be in the not too distant future, with such vast differences from the world we currently live in. While it’s hard for me to fathom that the world could one day have completely new countries, it’s entirely possible. After all, I’m sure the Romans thought they would be on top forever too.

In this book we get to see a lot more of the politics and the inner workings of the Upper Circle, which was very interesting. This really helped me to understand what kind of world Lucy is a part of, and just what motivates the characters in this novel.

I think that True North is an okay sequel to a great first novel. I’m not completely in love, but there is definitely enough intrigue to keep me reading to the third book when it comes out. I give True North 3/5 stars.

True Born – Book Review

To see all of the great blogs featuring True Born and True North on this blog tour, click on the banner above!

Title: True Born

Author: L. E. Sterling

Pages: 304 (Hardcover)

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Published: May 3, 2016

Summary:

Welcome to Dominion City.

After the great Plague descended, the world population was decimated…and their genetics damaged beyond repair.

The Lasters wait hopelessly for their genes to self-destruct. The Splicers pay for expensive treatments that might prolong their life. The plague-resistant True Borns are as mysterious as they are feared…

And then there’s Lucy Fox and her identical twin sister, Margot. After endless tests, no one wants to reveal what they are.

When Margot disappears, a desperate Lucy has no choice but to put her faith in the True Borns, led by the charismatic Nolan Storm and the beautiful but deadly Jared Price. As Lucy and the True Borns set out to rescue her sister, they stumble upon a vast conspiracy stretching from Dominion’s street preachers to shady Russian tycoons. But why target the Fox sisters?

As they say in Dominion, it’s in the blood.

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Review:

It’s been a while since I’ve visited some dystopian fiction, but I was very excited to dive into this book and see where its pages took me. I’ve had this book on my iPad for ages now but unfortunately had never gotten around to reading it. But then I saw that book two in the trilogy (True North) was coming out so I finally picked this up, and I am glad I did.

I think that it was very interesting to see a dystopian/plague-type novel from the perspective of an upper-class person, as I feel like most of the time with these novels we are only privy to the perspectives of the lower classes who are struggling the most. The rich perspective was done in such a way that didn’t feel like it was trying too hard to be what it was. Oftentimes, a perspective like this sounds unbelievable and overdone, but L.E. Sterling really managed to capture the tone and mood of the upper class as they perceive themselves, as opposed to an outsider-looking-in perspective,

Lucy and Margot are twins who were conjoined at birth, by a small area on their toes. And all those rumors you hear about twins being able to feel each other’s pain and whatnot are actually true with Lucy and Margot. They use this special connection to communicate with one another, and can also tell when the other is in danger, which comes in handy quite a few times throughout the novel. I thought that the connection between the sisters added something to the novel that helped to make the reader feel things for the sisters more deeply.

As with any YA book, there’s usually a love interest, and for our dear Lucy, this comes in the form of True Born Jared Price. From the moment Lucy lays eyes on him, she is intrigued by him (hello, insta-love!) yet once she gets to know him she finds herself rather annoyed by some of his behaviors. While I overall liked his character, I hated how he and Lucy were constantly hot and cold with one another. It seemed as though neither could make up their mind about how they felt about the other, and were constantly flip-flopping between liking one another and hating the other’s guts.

There were a few times throughout the novel where I got a bit confused as to what was going on with the story. This could be because some things just needed to be fleshed out a little more, or perhaps there are a few sentences that just needed some reworking. Overall though, I thoroughly enjoyed True Born and I am very excited to see what the sequel has in store about tying up the many questions I am now left with. I give True Born a solid 4/5 stars.

Be sure to look out for my review of True North, coming on Tuesday, April 25th.

The Winner’s Curse – Book Review

Title: The Winner’s Curse

Author: Marie Rutkoski

Pages: 355 (hardcover)

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance

Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

Published: March 14, 2014

Summary:

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction.

Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Review:

I absolutely loved this book. I’ve read it twice in the last three months, because I just couldn’t get the story out of my head. I think that The Winner’s Curse is set in such a unique world, and has many important messages about the world that we live in, veiled by a great story with interesting characters.

This book is just so swoony. The entire time I was reading it, I couldn’t help but wish that Kestrel and Arin would realize their feelings for one another, despite the many obstacles that they faced. Though I really wanted them together as soon as possible, because their tension was so obvious, I was happy that it took as long as it did for them to see their feelings, because it made it believable. I can’t stand when two characters have insta-love, even though that’s totally what I was hoping for with Kestrel and Arin.

Kestrel skyrocketed to the top of my list of favorite female characters. She isn’t like the heroines of all of the other major YA books out there. She isn’t a skilled fighter or hunter. But Kestrel is smart, and strategic, and she embraces it to it’s fullest. Kestrel is independent, and despite her society’s rules regarding women, she manages to do what she wants.

I love the world that this book takes place in. It is so well thought out, and I could picture it in my head so clearly while I read the book. There’s a mix of fantasy and history, and it is definitely a world that I would like to visit. I can’t say as though I’d want to live there, because women can’t travel without an escort, but I would definitely be down to go to a few of the balls and parties that happen.

I’ve already read the entire trilogy, but am planning on rereading the other two books as well, and I’ll likely be doing reviews for Crime and Kiss as well. I give The Winner’s Curse 5/5 stars, but I would give it about a million more stars if I could.