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Book Review: A Face Like Glass by Francis Hardinge

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Amazon.com – A Face Like Glass by Francis Hardinge

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, ABRAMS Kids, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Science-Fiction

Plot: In the underground city of Caverna, the world’s most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare—wines that remove memories, cheeses that make you hallucinate, and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat. On the surface, the people of Caverna seem ordinary, except for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to express (or fake) joy, despair, or fear—at a steep price. Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. Neverfell’s expressions are as varied and dynamic as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, except hers are entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed . . .

Opinion:

WHEW! Listen up guys, because this is one book that NEEDS to be noted and fawned over.

“It draws you in. You twist your mind into new shapes. You start to understand Caverna…and you fall in love with her. Imagine the most beautiful woman in the world, but with tunnels as her long, tangled, snake-like hair. Her skin is dappled in traplantern gold and velvety black, like a tropical frog. Her eyes are cavern lagoons, bottomless and full of hunger. When she smiles, she has diamonds and sapphires for teeth, thousands of them, needle-thin.”

-The Kleptomancer, A Face Like Glass

Neverfell’s story begins at the young age of five, when she is found by Cheesemaker Grandible after falling into a vat of his curdling Neverfell milk. After rescuing her and taking one look at the young girl, Grandible notices the differences in the young child, covers her face with a mask, takes her in and appoints her as his apprentice. After some seven years later, Neverfell is accustomed to her life as a cheesemaker. But unable to remove her mask around other people or to leave the cheese tunnels, she finds herself fighting a curiosity about what lays beyond. Soon Neverfell’s opportunity to leave the tunnels presents itself, and she gets her first look at the world that she has been hidden from. But her freedom is short lived when her mask falls from her face, and what lies beneath is shown to the people of Caverna. Neverfell, unlike the residents of Caverna, is able to make expressions on her own without having to be taught. As word travels of Neverfell, she becomes sold to the highest bidder. Caverna is flushed with experts in dangerous and strange delicacies, and murder is just another game for the members of the court. Pushed into a world where Neverfell finds trust in the wrong people, she struggles to find a way to protect herself and to recover the memories that she feels may be lost forever. But most importantly, to find a way out of Caverna.

Caverna. Woah. This place is seriously vicious guys. Do you remember reading The Hunger Games and being introduced to the strange people in the capitol? These people were insane and followed bizarre fashion trends that made them both appealing and frightening. Trust me when I say, the capitol has NOTHING on the court in Caverna. These people are PSYCHOTIC. They create wines that have minds and temperaments of their own, cheeses that can explode upon a slight bump, and strange foods that have creatures trapped inside gelatin. Not only do they spend all of their free time trying to poison rival families or hire assassins, but they are unable to make facial expressions on their own. The higher up in society and the better-off you are, the more “Faces” you are able to buy for yourself. People of a lower faction usually are unable to have 1 to 3 faces, depending on their job titles.

How to prepare the perfect Cardlespray Wine:

“One hundred and three years…The grapes spoil if they are exposed to loud noises, so they are tended by a silent order of monks, and all the local birds are killed. The fruit can be harvested only at night during the new moon, and must be crushed by the feet of orphans. The barrels are stored deep in the earth, and only the softest, sweetest music is played to them, continually, for over a century. And after all this, the Wine is fit to be drunk…unless somebody throws it over a table.”

-The Grand Steward, A Face Like Glass

Neverfell finds herself caught right in the middle of the chaos that is Caverna. The people of the court are all trying to get her hands on her for personal benefit, she cannot remember her past, and there is a strange person labeled “the Kleptomancer” running around Caverna stealing incredible objects with no apparent motive. I felt so horrible for young Neverfell throughout this story, and it was honestly staring to feel like something out of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Her innocence started to become her downfall, and it was heartbreaking to see her trust in so many people that proved to be using her in a game much larger than her. Her character grows a great deal in this story however, and I really enjoyed who she becomes. She still has her morals and good intentions, but acquires a cunning and righteous personality by the end of the story. Not only does Neverfell work to help herself be free of Caverna, but she fights to free those who have no voice at all.

The writing in this story is AMAZING, and I can’t wait to start reading other books by Frances Hardinge. She writes with an amazing creative and descriptive style, and it almost feels like poetry after a while. She PERFECTLY set the scene for Caverna as being a dark and curious place, one that can both thrill and kill a person. I thought the entire idea for having a civilization underground was amazing, but one where the characters aren’t able to make their own facial expressions? GENIUS! I seriously couldn’t get enough of this story, and I am wishing it was a full-blown 20 book series. This is one of those stories you wish would make it to the big screen because of how dazzling it looks in your head, but one you fear they will completely ruin…like they usually do.

All in all, I LOVE this story! I have nothing negative to say, not one thing. I can’t help but give this book 5 stars, which I hope will lead to many of you going and purchasing this story RIGHT AWAY. It is the perfect amount of fantasy and science-fiction, and a great read that will twist your mind into two. This book is suitable for all ages, but the youngest I would say is Teens because the writing could get a little confusing for a younger audience.

5-stars

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Book Review: Gardenia by Kelsey Sutton

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Amazon.com – Gardenia by Kelsey Sutton

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Barnesandnoble.com – Gardenia by Kelsey Sutton

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Diversion Publishing, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: Teen/YA/Mystery/Thriller

Plot: Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been able to see countdown clocks over everyone’s heads indicating how long before they will die. She can’t do anything about anyone else’s, nor can she do anything about her own, which will hit the zero hour before she even graduates high school.

A life cut short is tragic, but Ivy does her best to make the most of it. She struggles emotionally with her deep love for on-again, off-again boyfriend Myers Patripski. She struggles financially, working outside of school to help her mom and her sister. And she struggles to cope with the murder of her best friend, another life she couldn’t save. Vanessa Donovan was murdered in the woods, and everyone in town believes Ivy had something to do with it.

Then more girls start disappearing. Ivy tries to put her own life in order as she pieces together the truth of who ended Vanessa’s. To save lives, and for her own sanity.

The clock is always ticking. And Ivy’s only hope is to expose the truth before it runs out completely.

Opinion:

AHHHHH! THIS book! THIS FREAKING BOOK!

You are probably thinking to yourself Wow, WHAT about this book. WELL, LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THIS BOOK! I have been searching high and low for a specific genre of story to read for WEEKS now. A story that will make my heart hurt and my stomach flip due to eloquent and depressing sentences. You know the kind of story I am talking about. The sort of tale that doesn’t just make you sorrowful, but a story that makes you MAKE yourself sorrowful because you don’t want to stop feeling what the characters feel.

Well, this story comes pretty close to that.

Call it a gift or a curse, but ever since Ivy was a child she knew when the people around her were going to die. The ability to see a countdown of each person’s remaining time over their heads has proved to be most difficult for Ivy, especially when her own death has been approaching quickly over the past few months. After the murder of her best friend, Ivy falls into a downward spiral as she realizes that she can’t save the people she loves. But the need to find out the truth about what happened begins to consume her, and soon Ivy finds herself on the trail to figuring out who the murderer is. As Ivy’s last weeks begin to draw near, she fights to live her final days instead of just watching them tick by.

I can’t express enough how much I loved the concept for this story. Ivy is forced to watch the people around her die as their life clock comes to an end, while feeling helpless the entire time because she has no way to save them. I felt like I had a truly strong connection to this character. She is a loner at school and made to feel like an outcast because of events from her past, but she has a snarky attitude and is quick to fire off amazing zingers. When first introduced to Ivy, the reader quickly learns that there is a sense that she has already given up in life. With the death of her best friend being so recent and her own clock only being a few months before ending, Ivy has an overwhelming sense of despair and sorrow engulfing her. She has nobody close to her that she can talk to, and her family is very distant and wrapped up in their own lives.

As the story progresses, Ivy starts to become obsessed with finding out who killed her friend and why. In regards to the mystery aspect of this story, I was pretty surprised to figure out who it was. I had about one or two main suspects that I thought had definitely done it, but I was pleasantly surprised to have been wrong. The point where this story starts to get truly heart wrenching, apart from the already depressing events, is when the reader learns about Myers. Myers is the ex-boyfriend of Ivy, and let’s just say that relationship ended horribly on a night when everything else shattered Ivy’s world. I found that this author EXCELS when she is describing a sorrowful or dark moment. Not many authors know how to capture a feeling in words, and I thought Kelsey Sutton did a great job of it. This story is riddled with amazing descriptions of sadness and regret, and I adored every single minute of it.

Even after he’s gone I let my fingers linger on the glass, until the cold creeps under my skin and into my bones. Maybe if it goes deep enough, it will numb everything.

As numb as death.”

-Ivy

Overall, this was a TRULY wonderful read. I was hooked the entire time and felt connected to the characters and the story throughout the read. I am excited to see what else this author has done. If her writing is as good as this in all of her stories, then she is going to become a favorite of mine quickly. I recommend his to all ages, but primarily Teen and YA readers. It has a strong message of finding acceptance and living your life to the fullest, which I think anyone can relate to.

4-5-stars

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Book Review: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

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Blood Rose Rebellion is available for Pre-order, and will be available on March 28, 2017. Please see the links below:

Amazon.com – Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Goodreads.com – Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Barnesandnoble.com – Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Bookdepository.com – Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Disclaimer: This ARC copy was sent to me by the publisher, Random House Children’s, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Plot: Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romani, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

Opinion: As soon as I requested this book on Netgalley.com, I had my fingers crossed for DAYS in the hopes that I would be accepted to read and review it. After seeing quite a bit of hype about the release of this book on Goodreads and Bookstagram, I read the description and immediately felt the gut-wrenching yearning to get my hands on an ARC copy! Not only did I get that ARC copy, but I became absolutely enthralled as soon as I started reading.

In Anna Arden’s world, the high society figures referred to as Luminate wield magic and power.  Anna, even though her family is of high society and nobility, was pronounced barren at her Confirmation at the age of eight. But one thing Anna can do is unintentionally break the spells that others cast, which is exactly what she does on the most important night for her sister. Without knowing what to do with her, Anna’s family sends her off to Hungary with her grandmother. In the hopes that Anna will return a proper and civilized lady, Anna sets off to a new life. But things in Hungary turn from bad to worse as a rebel tracks Anna down, begging her to use her ability to break spells to destroy the binding – which restricts the use of magic to only Luminate. Soon Anna finds herself stuck in the middle of a rebellion, unsure which side to stand with and against.

Sometimes with such a hyped up book, I worry that once I start reading I will lose interest or it won’t be as amazing as everyone claims. I can happily admit that this story turned out to be WONDERFUL! I loved the imagery that the author used, especially how she turned our world into a place with magic and strange creatures. The idea that Anna is barren and cannot wield magic like the rest of her family and fellow Luminate jump-starts the quest for Anna to find out who or WHAT she is. The reader follows Anna through different countries where she meets people of different walks of life, and becomes entangled in wanting to assist the rebels in Hungary. Anna finds herself in a compromising position: help break the binding and let magic be free to anyone that possesses the ability, or to side with her fellow Luminate and let magic be “given” to nobility and those “deserving”.

I personally liked the character of Anna, but I felt that she lacked a bit of substance. I didn’t quite make a connection to her and to the emotions that the author was trying to portray…as a matter of fact, I don’t really recall making a strong connection with any of the characters. I felt curious about what might happen to them and hoped that they wouldn’t die, but I wasn’t too chocked up about it when some of them actually did die. The relationship between Anna and Gábor starts out cold and prickly but soon turns into the romance of this book. Because Anna is Luminate and Gábor is Romani (gypsy), their love is forbidden and would be frowned upon. I found it interesting that at the end of the story, their relationship suddenly doesn’t seem to be THAT forbidden. This felt rushed and thrown together to me. What will her parents say?? Where were they?

This story has a very unique blend of historical and fantastical elements. The characters do a lot of traveling in the world, which obviously brings the use of different languages. After Anna travels to Hungary, the language barriers start to rise. There is A LOT of words that get thrown around that most of us won’t be knowing, so it makes reading a little confusing. I was getting lost at times when Gábor would say “gadzhe” or when the names of a castle or town would be said. Little did I know that there was a glossary of the words and of Luminate orders in the back of the book… *sigh*.

Those tiny things aside, I loved this story and where the author took it. Though the ending felt a little rushed to me, I think that such an extravagant story is always going to be hard to wrap up into one book. I am VERY excited to read book 2 when it is released and to see where the author is going to take Anna. I really recommend this story to anyone that loves a YA story that involves fantasy and adventure!

4-stars

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Book Review: Devil in the Countryside by Cory Barclay

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Devil in the Countryside is available for Pre-order, and will be available on February 15, 2017. Please see the links below:

Amazon.com – Devil in the Countryside (Of Witches and Werewolves) by Cory Barcaly

Goodreads.com – Devil in the Countryside by Cory Barclay

Barnesandnoble.com – Devil in the Countryside by Cory Barclay

Bookdepository.com – Devil in the Countryside by Cory Barclay

Disclaimer: I was sent an ARC copy of this book by the author, Cory Barclay, for an honest review

Genre: Fiction/Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Supernatural

Plot: Devil in the Countryside is a story about the most famous werewolf investigation in history, brimming with intrigue and war, love and betrayal, and long-kept vendettas.

It’s 1588, the height of the Reformation, and a killer is terrorizing the German countryside. There are reports that the legendary Werewolf of Bedburg has returned to a once-peaceful land. Heinrich Franz, a cold and calculating investigator, is tasked with finding whomever — or whatever — the killer might be. He’ll need all the help he can get, including that of a strange hunter who’s recently stumbled into town. Though they’re after the same thing, their reasons are worlds apart. And through it all, a priest tries to keep the peace among his frightened townsfolk, while a young woman threatens his most basic beliefs.

In a time when life is cheap and secrets run rampant, these four divergent souls find themselves entwined in a treacherous mystery, navigating the volatile political and religious landscape of 16th century Germany, fighting to keep their sanity — and their lives.

Opinion: Once again, I am PLEASANTLY surprised with a book that is completely out of the genre that I usually read. This story was AMAZING! I found myself having immense trouble putting it down and doing adult things such as going to work, or sleeping. The writing is perfection. It gives the reader the necessary balance of description and detail, while also eloquently weaving a tale of fantasy and realism.

Based loosely on actual events that took place in Germany over a 20 year span, Devil in the Countryside transports the reader to 1588 as murders in Bedburg start to rise. Fear spreads quickly through the town as gruesome and mangled bodies are found in the countryside, and threats against protestant reform begin to plague the Christian ruled town. As Investigator Heinrich Franz looks into the murders, he enlists the help of a hunter by the name of Georg Stieghart who has a past of being quite vicious. This story also follows Father Nicholas Dieter of the church in Bedburg, and young Sybil Griswold who is the daughter of a wealthy farmer. While the investigator tries to hunt down the Werewolf of Bedburg, the church tries to fight off Protestants from overtaking the town and the minds of their people.

Though I gave you guys a little description up there, I’m going to explain a little bit more about these characters/events so that you really get the idea. Probably the COOLEST thing about this book is the fact that it is based on true events. In 1589 a trial was held for a man that was presumed to be the famous Werewolf of Bedburg, who was accused of murder and cannibalism. Shocked? Me too. The fact that these people actually thought that a man was turning into a werewolf and slashing bodies to pieces is just…beyond me. The again, this was also a time when everyone thought witches were casting spells and dealing in dark magic…and here I thought my generation was cuckoo.

Heinrich Franz is the investigator that is put in charge of finding out who/what the Werewolf of Bedburg is, and he seems to go to any lengths to make someone responsible. I really can’t pinpoint my feelings for this character. He is an evil and emotionally unattached man, but I quite like his ruthlessness and cunning behavior. He is the type of person that will do ANYTHING to close a case, especially if that means framing someone in the process. Georg Stieghart is truly my favorite character in this story. He comes off as a drunken idiot most of the time, but he proves to be a very strong-willed and intelligent person. As Georg seeks revenge for the death of his family, who he assumes is the Werewolf, he assists the investigator and helps him hunt the killer down. The relationship between these two characters is fairly comical. They both act friendly towards one another and share news that they have, but they also don’t trust each other and have their own agendas. I enjoyed how the story turned out for Georg and how his character makes a complete 180. He loses some of his savagery and turns into a truly upstanding person.

Sybil Griswold is the daughter of wealthy farmer Peter Griswold. Sybil goes through a lot of dark events in this story, and I commend her character for taking everything in stride. Not only does a dear friend of hers come up dead, but her father begins to force her into a marriage with a nobleman’s son who proves to be vile and pretentious. Sybil finds solace in her time spent with Father Nicholas Dieter, who is a priest at the church in Bedburg. Father Dieter seems to be the most developed character, and for me, the most interesting. He starts out being a very faithful and dutiful servant to the religion that he preaches for, but soon starts to open his eyes to what is going on in the world around him. The relationship between these two characters brings the romance factor into this story, and gives the reader a little light in this otherwise dark and gritty tale.

This story overall was fantastic! The events that took place were gruesome and unnerving, and I kept picturing a less theatrical Tim Burton setting of gray buildings and woeful expressions. Though I am not a big fan of reading a story with religion being such a central theme, it was obviously necessary to this story but it didn’t overtake the actual plot and events that the author was focusing on. I highly recommend this story to any reader that likes thriller/mystery, or to anyone who wants to dabble in a different type of story. I am REALLY looking forward to see what happens in book 2, hopefully it will come out soon!

5-stars

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Book Review: Deny the Father by M. Duda

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~ Buy through the links below ~

Amazon.com – Deny the Father by M. Duda

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, M. Duda, for an honest review.

Genre: Short Story/Fiction/Fantasy/Horror/Paranormal

Plot: The first story in this collection, “A Sarjeta,” follows an impoverished Portuguese with one simple dream. He wants to taste meat. Although Leandro also has larger goals of becoming a famous artist, his hunger and poverty are always at the front of his mind. When he forms a relationship with the wrong person, Leandro will realize that incredible evil exists just across the street.

The middle story, “Good-bye, Sweet Mercury” takes a turn away from the horrific and focuses on a father’s love for his daughter. In this short, simple tale, the father stands at a precipice in his life. He doesn’t want to leave his little girl and will have to make a big decision about his future.

The last story, “Yesterday Never, Tomorrow and Today,” furthers M. Duda’s theme of metamorphosis and introduces an indentured farmer who is trying to make up for his criminal past. In a future civilization, the farmer faces harsh truths about himself.

Through these glimpses into different worlds, M. Duda tells three intricate, compelling tales of transformation.

Opinion: Readers! I bring you yet another collection of short stories by the highly imaginative author M. Duda. This is the third book I have received from this author, and might I just say these stories just keep getting better and better. What I love about this author is that he isn’t afraid to create stories that reflect on the darkness and savagery that exists in the world. I love any story that is able to make me slightly nauseous at the truths that I am seeing, but a story that also excites the ravenous reader that I am.

Deny the Father has a total of three short stories. The first story A Sarjeta (The Gutter) follows a poor young man that has the sole desire to earn enough money to taste meat for the first time. While living with his sister and her children only eating beans day after day, Leandro finds himself caught up in a dangerous game on his path to riches. In the second story, Good-bye, Sweet Mercury, Tim struggles with saying goodbye to his daughter and moving on after his death. The third and final story, Yesterday Never, Tomorrow and Today, is set on another planet called Menhir-X. Jax and his wife, Delna, live on this planet as sugar cane farmers along with other alien life forms called Allohms. This story documents as Jax struggles to keep his farmer, while also confronting his past and present mistakes.

I think my favorite story in this collection would have to be Yesterday Never, Tomorrow and Today. The overall theme focuses on the struggles to provide for oneself and their family, while also putting a spotlight on the mistakes that one makes and how they can cost you dearly in the end. This story shows the wrinkles and imperfections that can scar a person in time, and I think it was an interesting tale of a man seeking redemption. A Sarjeta (The Gutter) is a truly gritty and grimy story. It captures the idea that innocence can be stolen rather than lost, and it gives the reader a sad feeling of hopelessness and despair. It made my heart squirm in my chest and left me feeling uneasy. To me A Sarjeta (The Gutter) and Yesterday Never, Tomorrow and Today are two stories that test the evil inside oneself and others, and it makes the reader question their conscience or morals.

Good-bye, Sweet Mercury is a very VERY short story that lasts only three pages. I have noticed that the author, M. Duda, touches on life after death at least once in each of his books. In this story, like his other paranormal tales, we are greeted with a character who struggles with the idea of moving on and leaving a loved one behind. Good-bye, Sweet Mercury instills a moment of hope for the reader while they read this story. It was a welcome moment that brought me out of the darkness that usually embodies these shadow books and restored my faith in humanity…if only for a moment.

When it comes to reading an M. Duda collection of short stories, I am always very pleased with the imaginative and poetic tales that I read. As much as I adore reading my overly fluffed YA/Fantasy stories, I will always be seeking a story like this that evokes deep thoughts long after I have finished reading. As always, I HIGHLY recommend reading these shadow books! I hope this author NEVER stops writing these eerie stories, they are truly special and amazing.

5-stars

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