Book Reviews

Book Review: The Beholder (Book 1) by Anna Bright

The Beholder

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

Plot: Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.

Opinion:

What is this…sensation blossoming inside me?

*claws at face and chest*

It’s…

It’s unBEARable!

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“You tend to gardens and fields with the women and to the stock with the men. That makes you one of the people. That does not make you their leader.”

As Seneschal-elect of Potomac, and daughter to the current leader, Selah will soon have the responsibility of her country of Potomac resting on her shoulders. And being Eighteen she is expected to marry, to present a strong and united front as she leads her people. But when Selah extends an offer of marriage to Peter, a boy she has always yearned for from afar, and he rejects her proposal, her step-mother and the council take matters into their own hands. She is forced to travel across the Atlantic by ship with a crew of misfits, stopping in several countries and courting the eligible Princes, each for two weeks, in the hopes of proposals. Heartbroken, embarrassed, and only agreeing out of duty, Selah and her crew set off. But the royalty Selah meets is far from what she could have expected, and countless secrets and games are lurking around every corner.

“I didn’t want his proposal. I didn’t want to be a princess. I was never born to wear a crown.”

“Do not waste your efforts on good-for-nothing boys. Do not cast your pearls before swine.

“You are everything you ought to be.

When I started The Beholder…I’ll be honest, I didn’t think it would be that great. I had been debating purchasing it since it released a year ago, and every time I was about to buy it, I found myself not able to. The reviews from other readers have been super conflicting, some sprinkled in praise and others feeling luke-warm, but I was especially weary that it would be dull or completely lacking.

Well.

Curse me for second-guessing myself because…

This was everything.

“No mortal wounds, perhaps, but the scars these boys had left me would remain.

“The weight of the chaos was going to flatten me.”

This isn’t just a YA Fantasy retelling with a few Cinderella and Odyssey elements. And honestly, even calling it a Fantasy is a bit of a stretch. This world is a mix of fictional and real places. Europe plays a huge role, but peppered throughout are fictional countries and cities – like the one our dear heroine hails from. Also sprinkled within these pages are countless folklore and fairy-tales from all over the world, and each lends a hand to the plot and the direction our main character is thrust towards.

“. . . and if ye will listen but a little I will tell it you with tongue As I have heard it told, In a story brave and strong, In a loyal book of old, In the land it has been long.” —Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Selah is a sweet and a fairly dainty young woman with a great work ethic, and someone who is easily likeable. She is wrapped in innocence and her eyes bubble over with hope and sincerity for those around her, even when their eyes unfortunately do not. Upon the first few chapters, you are instantly heartbroken for her already. Not only is she woefully rejected by a boy she has loved from afar since she was a wee lass, but it is done so in front of EVERYONE. And THEN, to make matters worse, the fate of her love-life is discussed and decided by council members and her evil stepmother – “smother”, Alessandra.

And oh my sh, is this woman a piece of work.

“If Alessandra came down and caught me crying in the dark, she’d lean into my weakness, press on my bruises in front of the others until they thought me as spineless as she did.

If an author want’s me to feel heartbroken within the first 30 pages of a book, all you have to do is make a young girl feel entirely alone, while her sickly father stands by and does nothing.

Shatter me, why don’t you.

But this is just the beginning of heartbreak in The Beholder.

It was kind of him to pretend I wasn’t drowning.

I don’t even know how to describe the amount of sorrow I was feeling alongside Selah as she experienced betrayal after betrayal. Here is this beautiful soul, thrust into a duty of having to flaunt herself in front of princes and impress them enough to be offered proposals, all in the hopes of returning to her country to care for her sick father…and in the midst of being completely rejected! I felt her embarrassment, her loneliness and every wave of uncertainty that rolled through her. She is a shy introvert who just wants love. Not a title, a crown or a prince as a husband.

“He’d left me burning brighter than the candles.

Now I just felt burned.”

The Beholder is the name of the ship that Selah voyages on to meet her suitors, and the crew running it are a smattering of beautiful souls with various ethnic backgrounds, ages, and personalities. The author gives you just enough information and dialogue from them to instill a sense of trust and comfortably, but also withholds enough to keep you constantly wondering. Though I was a little surprised at how quickly these crew members become protective of Selah, I also found it entirely endearing.

“I imagined having a job onboard the Beholder, instead of being a job myself. Imagined being one of their friends, instead of cargo.”

And even though these crew members are fiercely loyal to Selah and always put her protection first, the reader quickly learns that there is something more going on when Selah isn’t looking. Most mysterious of all, is our dear Captain Lang. A VERY young captain in his early twenties (and dashing, I might add) riddled with secrets and complete intrigue. And even now, I am STILL wondering about this guy! With overly concerned glances and notions towards Selah, a tuck of hair behind an ear here, or an accidental lacing of fingers there…suffice it to say, I was being thrown in a million directions wondering WHO THE LOVE INTEREST IS!!!

“Would I ever learn what seeds he sowed that bloomed in bruises on his cheeks?”

Speaking of love interests

If there were ever a story to bloat me with so much love, and just as quickly drop my heart to the floor through my stomach

…it would be this one.

“You are making a mistake.”

“You are making a mistake.”

“You are making a mistake.”

How do I even explain the sheer mind messery that the love in The Beholder invokes? It is twisted, quick, fleeting, meddlesome, loaded, passionate, dark, light, achingly sweet and crushingly wretched. There are games layered in secrets layered in maneuvers and countermoves. Selah is a pawn in so many maps and boards, it’s devastating to witness. Her unwavering trust in people is endearing, yet wholly painful. Her desire to forgive and forgive is admirable, and the way she propels herself onward is empowering. The girl launches herself at the chance of love and being loved, and it makes me both happy and sad.

“My heart was a lit candle, a forest fire, a burning star. Doomed, but smiling.”

But her fear and lack of confidence in herself is truly the most sorrowful of all.

“I realized I’d been waiting for this moment, this inevitable point when he would look at me—soft, scared, unremarkable—and see that he could do better.”

I so SO badly want to dive into the romance angle, but I will spill all the beans of everything, and the unraveling of this story is just too good for me to do that to you. Just know that this is going to be an emotional whirlwind if you’re ready for it, and if you can understand/tolerate quick love.

But let me just say this: the siblings of Asling Fortress make my heart sing.

On another note, the world building.

There is a LOT of world building explaining in this, and let me not be the first to say, it’s damn confusing. Never have I encountered so many names that I didn’t even attempt to sound out. Call me lazy, but geez…those jumbles of letters were daunting. So in terms of making sense of the world – what was real and what wasn’t – yeah, I was pretty little lost. There was an excessive unloading of fictional names and places that I could not make sense of, try as I might. And even the land of Imperiya Yotne (that’s…the land, right?) which acts as “the villainbarely made much sense to me. All I know is there is something about the tsarytsya, they’re evil, and some mutterings of Baba Yaga – an old Russian folklore, sort of like the Boogeyman

“When Baba Yaga locks the door, Children pass thereby no more.”

“Baba Yaga’s land, there is no safety.”

So in that regard, I had to knock a star down. Because if this world and the cities/countries were cleaned up a bit, this book would be stellar. I am hoping book two, The Boundless, will really cut these loose strings and sew up some holes in terms of the setting and the story of the Tsarytsdafjfbdsf…you know, the bad place.

I am now already devouring The Boundless in anticipation for it’s release on Tuesday, June 9th. But I am still pretty early into it. So…

Pray for me.

“What fortune was mine.”

4 Stars

 

 

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Additional quotes I loved, because there were just too many.

“I was struck suddenly with the feeling of desperately needing to ask him a question and at the same time not being sure exactly what it was I needed to ask—the feeling that the question didn’t matter, so long as the answer came from him.”

“He is so very handsome, and we are so very, very unwise.”

“‘It’s not what you look like, it’s how you see,’ she used to always say, and she believed someone who didn’t read only ever saw through their own eyes.”

“We were doomed, but I was smiling.”

“‘I just wish you’d told me when it was just the two of us’

‘It never was just the two of us.'”

“No one knows how many years he has, Seneschal-elect. Life is short and death is certain.”

“So every moment I am aboveground and not below it, I want to feel the difference. We’ll all be in our graves soon enough.”

“I will fight, if I have to. But if I have to break another’s body, I deserve at least to feel his suffering in my own arm. I think the powerful would love less the fruits of violence if they had to deal it out by hand.”

 

 

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Binding of Bindings · Wrap-Up

Binding of Bindings #42: March 2020 Book Wrap-up

I may be slightly behind in posting my March Book Wrap-up
…but come on. It’s practically the apocalypse around here.
So.

 

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~* March 2020 Book Wrap-Up *~

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1. Frozen Beauty by Lex Hillyer
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mystery

Frozen Beauty

Definitely not my most favorite read of March, but also not the worst.

Frozen Beauty had all the promise in the world to be a dreary and eerie, femi-powered contemporary mystery laced in sorrow and sadness. But instead it was just a bit…

It centers on the Malloy sisters and the strange and sudden death of the eldest, who is found half-naked and frozen to death. The sisters thought they knew everything about one another, but as they begin digging into what really happened… the secrets start to unravel. 

I wanted to love this, especially because of that cover art, but I just didn’t care for it much. I was able to get through it quickly and easily, but the characters just felt so BLAH. The ending was a bit predictable, and there was some weird/awkward insta-love that happened that I don’t even need to get into.

3 Stars

(See my review here)

 

2. All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban
Genre: YA/Mystery/Thriller

All Your Twisted Secrets

THIS BOOK!

WOW!

All Your Twisted Secrets is a YA blend of The Breakfast Club and Saw. Six teens are invited to a scholarship dinner in a banquet room, where they are locked inside. On the table are three items: a syringe filled with a liquid, a bomb with a countdown clock, and a note indicating that they must pick a person to killor they all die.

Yeah. I know.

But just when I thought I had this little beauty figured out

Oh yeah. Epic.

4.5 Stars

(See my review here)

 

3. All the Pretty Things by Emily Arsenault
Genre: YA/Mystery/Thriller

All the Pretty Things

….

…there’s just not a lot to say here.

All the Pretty Things STARTED as a mystery set at an amusement park where an employee/well-known kid in town dies. It had a little bit of the Adventureland vibes that I was hoping for, but what it turned into was just…

…it’s not good.

If you like reading books where your face is scrunched up the whole time like this:

Then yeah, be my guest. And enjoy that father.

He’s a real gem.

2.5 Stars

(See my review here)

 

4. Sparrow by Mary Cecilia Jackson
Genre: YA/Sci-Fi/Feminism

Sparrow

Beautiful.

Sorrowful.

Stunning.

Sparrow is a YA twist on Black Swan that will surely cause tears to flow down your precious cheeks. It is about a ballerina who finds herself in an abusive relationship, and and shows the what lays broken on the ground after things go too far.

Books on abusive and manipulative behavior are so important and I am a big advocate for them, especially when they showcase different forms of abuse. But what makes this story truly important, is the fact that it doesn’t just show our main characters POV and how she is affected. It sheds light on the emotional toll it takes on her family, friends and those close to her.

It is beautiful, and though there were some parts that I found unnecessary to the story, it is a book worth reading.

4 Stars

(See my review here)

 

5. Girls with Sharp Sticks (Book 1) by Suzanne Young
Genre: YA/Sci-Fi/Feminism

Girls with Sharp Sticks

I have been ranting about this AMAZING book for a year!

Every chance I get I am recommending it to my bookstagram girlfriends and begging them to read it! And since the sequel to it released in March, I decided to reread it to get a refresher before starting my ARC! Girls with Sharp Sticks is a YA Feminist tale with a twist that will blow your mind, while simultaneously making your heart rip itself apart because your feelings will be feeling FEELINGS.

It’s about a group of girls who attend Innovations Academy. Here they are bred to be obedient, to listen to the male figures in their life (because they know best) and to stay as beautiful as possible. If the girls misbehave, they are redirected and given therapy immediately, until they have been…realigned.

The story is about the girls waking up from their fog, and realizing that the place they are in does not have their best interests at heart.

5 Stars

(See my review here)

 

6. Girls with Razor Hearts (Girls with Sharp Sticks, Book 1) by Suzanne Young
Genre: YA/Sci-Fi/Feminism

Girls with Razor Hearts

I had SUCH high hopes for the second book to Girls with Sharp Sticks, and I devoured Girls with Razor Hearts in such a short time. But it wasn’t because it was amazing and held my attention to the point that I couldn’t eat or sleep without knowing what would happen.

No…it was more like I kept reading in the hopes that SOMETHING would happen. But nothing really did. It was just a bit of a blah read next to the first book where the author focused way too much on shoving toxic patriarchy down my throat. This sequel just felt like preaching. It felt forced and didn’t have the same flow and heart behind it’s message as it did before.

The story just lost its way a bit here, and I am hoping that it will come back around in the next book. This seemed more like a “buffer book” or a stepping stone to set up for the next installment, so fingers crossed that it improves!

3.5 Stars

(See my review here)

 

7. Thorn (Dauntless Path, Book 1) by Intisar Khanani
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling – The Goose Girl

Thorn

THORN!

Ah, what a GEM of a retelling!

I know I’m not the only one that has been overjoyed with these countless fairy tale retellings coming out, so when I saw Thorn I knew I had to have it. And after reading Bloodleaf last year and not liking it, I was hoping that this Goose Girl retelling would be better.

And ohhhhhh child, it SO was!

You know the story: A Princess is married off to a Prince in another kingdom, and upon traveling there, her handmaid steals her body and poses as her, which forces the real Princess into a new life as a goose girl.

In this rendition, the same happens and so much more! The story keeps the atmospheric old-timey feel to it and spins in a layer of eeriness that perfectly blends with the poetic nature of the tale. It was a fantastic read and one I was fairly surprised by, because though I was hoping this would be a win, I had my doubts

But here I am, DYING for the next book!

4.5 Stars

(See my review here)

 

8. House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City, Book 1) by Sarah J. Maas
Genre: New Adult/Fantasy/Romance

House of Earth and Blood

Only 60 pages in and SJM had me, and everyone else, like

And then we get a little farther and it’s a whole lot of

A ton of

And then back to

Beyond. Epic.

5 Stars

 

9. The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne
Genre: YA/Contemporary

All the Places Ivve Cried in Public

As I said above, a book that focuses on the several other types of abuse and manipulation that go on, are stories that need to be read.

The Places I’ve Cried in Public is in the style of Thirteen Reasons Why where a girl recounts the pivotal moments that lead to the end of her relationship with her boyfriend. They are all moments that she has cried, either from joy, despair, or confusion. But each place, and each moment is a clue into how they broke up and what happened between them.

This story was like a punch in the gut for me, because so many aspects of it were familiar or sparked a memory. For those of us who have experienced relationships like this, and for those who haven’t, the importance and reminder to look for signs of hurtful and manipulative behavior needs to be shown. This book does just that.

Every teenager needs to read this.

3.5 Stars

 

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Stay Witchy ❤

 

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Binding of Bindings · Wrap-Up

Binding of Bindings #39: January 2020 Book Wrap-up

The first month of 2020 came and went.

It was lovely. It was glorious.

It was downright spectacular.

But now it needs to make way for February.

So, January, I think it’s time you…

 

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~* January 2020 Book Wrap-Up *~

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1. The Hazel Wood (The Hazel Wood, Book 1) by Melissa Albert

The Hazel Wood

My first read of 2020 started off with The Hazel Wood, and honestly, what better way to dive into 2020?!

It’s a dark YA Fantasy that’s like a blend between Once Upon a Time and The Brothers Grimm. It’s a fairy tale inside a fairy tale, but it isn’t full of happy princesses and helpful creatures. It’s downright haunting, and you KNOW I was loving every second of it!

After Alice’s mother is taken, she is forced to seek out the one women her mother has forbade her from talking about or to – her grandmother, Althea Proserpine. Althea is a writer of strange and unusual fairy tales set in a place called The Hinterland, and had been holing herself up in her manor called The Hazel Wood for years. Alice begins seeking her out in order to find her mother, but the truth she uncovers is more than she could have imagined.

“My love he wooed me

My love he slew me

My love he buried my bones

His love he married

His love I buried

My love now wanders alone.”

5-stars

(See my review here)

 

2. The Night Country (The Hazel Wood, Book 2) by Melissa Albert

The Night Country

So of course my second read of 2020 was my ARC of The Night Country, the sequel to The Hazel Wood.

The Night Country still has the creep factor from The Hazel Wood, but it’s cranked up a notch. Not only is the book split between Finch traveling through strange and mysterious worlds and Alice, but Alice is dealing with some SERIOUSLY dark shit. There’s a struggle between two halves of who she is-one dark and one light-and in this installment, she really comes into her own.

“‘Look at me,’ I told him. ‘Look at your destruction.’”

Though I wasn’t as in love with this installment as I was with the first, due to it being more of an Urban Fantasy, I still enjoyed the creepy nature and getting to know more about these amazing characters. But even so, I just about died from happiness when THIS went down:

“‘You still think you live in a world where girls will lie down for you and show you their throats.’”

“‘Now lie down, and show me your throat.’”

4-stars

(See my review here)

 

3. Echoes Between Us by Katie McGarry

Echoes Between Us

As I said in my review,

If you feel like crying, you’ve come to the right place.

Echoes Between Us is about a girl who experiences piercing migraines from a brain tumor, and speaks to the ghost of her mother. Veronica is the “weird girl” in school and hangs with a collection of misfits, and they’re honestly the damn coolest. Sawyer is the popular, attractive, “perfect guy” at her school who ends up moving with his family into the unit below Veronica and her dad.

Obviously a love blossoms, but…*sigh*…this book gets real AF and touches on some sensitive topics. It’s a depiction of two teens who go through separate events in their lives that forces them to grow up quickly, but also gives them a really mature and beautiful outlook on life. The two bond over these aspects of their lives, and…it’s just wonderful.

“Soft fingers, a delicate touch and my entire body sparks to life. As if I had been in darkness-the world was black and white-and then the flip was switched into color.”

4-5-stars

(See my review here)

 

4. Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits, Book 1) by Katie McGarry

Pushing the Limits

So after reading Echoes Between Us, I decided I needed more Katie McGarry in my life and bought Pushing the Limits

It seems that this author loves to create stories that center on two charterers who are VASTLY different, but both have serious issues that they are fighting to overcome. This story is about Echo, a girl with “freakyscars on her arms but little recollection of how she received them, and a boy named Noah, a foster kid with a reputation for being a bit of a player.

This was a heavy one.

Noah lost his parents in a fire and was separated from his younger brothers through foster care, while Echo knows that a very traumatic event happened to her that included her mother, but she can’t exactly remember the events. Needless to say, this one hurts the heart in more ways then one. But these two characters are SO amazing on their own and even together. I LOVED them!

4-stars

 

5. Beyond the Shadowed Earth (Beneath the Haunting Sea, Book 2) by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Beyond the Shadowed Earth

My first DNF of 2020.

That didn’t take long, did it?

But with the new year I decided that I will not be wasting my time by forcing myself to read books I either hate or just can’t get into. There are WAY too many amazing books in the world and I am done with making myself suffer through pages that make my eyes droop.

Beyond the Shadowed Earth isn’t bad. I was just bored to tears.

It started off decently and grabbed my interest, but the lack of connection with the characters, the way the main lead, Eda, would stomp her foot and throw childlike tantrums, and the weird insta-love was just rubbing me the wrong way. I felt nothing for this book, it was just words on a page and I couldn’t do it.

 

6. The Will and the Wilds by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Will and the Wilds

Thankfully The Will and the Wilds didn’t slow my roll!

This YA Fantasy Romance was WONDERFUL! It’s a historical fantasy, set in a time where you have to walk to market to sell your goods and get supplies, ride a horse, go to another city to access their library…you know what I mean.

THIS is about these creatures called mystings who have come to roam the wildwood, a forest near where our heroine, Enna, lives. Mystings are demon-like monsters, some enjoy eating humans while others prefer to toy with them.

Enna’s house gets attacked by two goblers (a type of mysting, obvi) so she goes out to the wildwood to summon a mysting and “hire” it to track the gobler who had gotten away, and kill it. Long story short, the mysting she summons is Narval-a being who survives off the consumption of souls. Somehow he gets Enna to kiss him, which relinquishes part of her soul over to him, and so ensues a whole chaotic mess of romance and soul snatching.

4-stars

(See my review here)

 

7. Breaking the Rules (Pushing the Limits, Book 1.5) by Katie McGarry

Breaking the Rules

Another Katie McGarry book, but also the sequel to Pushing the Limits.

As you read above, I really loved Echo and Noah and how their tragic lives intertwined. So I immediately bought Breaking the Rules and continued to read about their issues, love and overall struggles.

But GODDAMN, this book was literally a story of two people fighting about any and everything they could POSSIBLY fight about. That was literally my Goodreads review of it:

Breaking the Rules:

A book about two young people fighting.

Seriously. That’s all I wrote.

But I didn’t hate it, I actually gave it 3 stars and finished it. It was just a lot of arguing and me yelling at my book for them to shut up and stop worrying about inconsequential shit, but to be fair…they had a lot of these arguments because of their pasts. So, in all fairness, I guess it makes sense. But geez, my sensitive soul just can’t take that much bickering.

3-stars

 

8. The Gray Chamber (True Colors series) by Grace Hitchcock

The Gray Chamber

The Gray Chamber!

A Historical Fiction/American Crime story set in 1887 about a woman who is thrown in an insane asylum so that her uncle can steal her fortune!

One thing I may love just as much as a cult, is an asylum.

Edyth is an eccentric young woman who isn’t your typical lady out in society. She fences alongside men, doesn’t wear corsets and big fancy gowns, and rides her velocipede rather than taking a carriage like a civilized woman.

So her dear uncle calls in some doctors from Blackwell Island, the local Insane Asylum, and has her committed.

Oh yeah, it’s a good one. I really enjoyed the first part of the story, but Edyth did start to bother me while she was in the asylum with all her “don’t you know who I am” talk and expecting someone to come do her hair…? What? The ending also dragged on longer than it needed to, being spread out through multiple chapters when it could have been tied up in one.

3-stars

(See my review here)

 

9. What Kind of Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Release Date: February 4, 2020

What Kind of Girl

I have not posted my review of this BEAUTY of a story yet, but I will have it posted this weekend!

What Kind of Girl is about a girl who comes to school with a black eye, goes to her principle, and tells her that her boyfriend has been hitting her.

What ensues is a school divided. Those thinking it odd that she didn’t go to the police, wondering why she waited so long to tell if it’s true, and not believing their popular and sweet classmate could do such a thing vs. those who wish to rally for his immediate expulsion.

This is my second story by Alyssa B. Sheinmal, and it was just as amazing as the first book I read by her – A Danger to Herself and Others. This author knows how to talk about real mental health issues, and display them in a way that is both beautiful and scary. It seems like she reaches inside a persons soul and mind, extracts their fears and quirks, and displays them like she’s experienced every aspect of them.

*sigh*…it hurts so good.

Read it.

(review to come)

 

10. Together We Caught Fire by Eva V. Gibson
Release Date: February 4, 2020

Together We Caught Fire

“I wanted to scream at him and slap his face, kiss him until the world burned down. Dare him to call me cold again, once everything we’d known was ash.”

(review to come)

 

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Stay Witchy ❤

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Netgalley

Book Review: The Hazel Wood (Book 1) by Melissa Albert

The Hazel Wood.jpg

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Flat Iron Books, via Netgalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Plot: 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.

Opinion:

Alice and her mother Ella have been on the run from bad luck since she was a child. Never able to stay in one place for too long, Alice had grown accustomed to the constant bag packing and switching of homes, schools and cities. Of course, sometimes the bad luck would creep in too closely. Like Alice being kidnapped by a man in a blue Buick at the age of 6, promising her a meeting with a grandma she had only known by name, only to have Ella find her and take her back. But no matter where they went, Alice always felt an anger eating away at her.

So when her mother suddenly disappears, she is forced to turn to the one person Ella has kept her away from her entire life: her grandmother, Althea Proserpine – a famous writer of dark fairy tales about a world called The Hinterland. Now, Alice must learn all she can about The Hinterland and how to find it and the estate that her grandmother lived in before her death: The Hazel Wood.

But Alice will quickly learn that she is chasing more than just fairy tales, and that even her story is yet to be finished.

Look until the leaves turn read,

sew the worlds up with thread.

If your journey’s left undone,

fear the rising of the sun.”

Where do I even begin?!

The Hazel Wood is the YA Fantasy story for fairy tale obsessed readers who like an unconventional tale. This may not be the fluffy sort of story most are accustomed to, by way of beautiful Disney Princesses and romantic happy endings. There isn’t just one evil-doer, and there are more than just poison foods that can kill you in a flash. No, this is definitely not a tale of good fortune. It’s The Brothers Grimm meets Once Upon A Time, and it is wickedly good. The characters are oddities in their own right, with addictive quirks and flaws aplenty. It is set in a world of ruthless caliber with threats of death at every turn, and it is written like classic dark folklore with descriptions and haunting poems that twist your gut while making your heart sing.

My love he wooed me

My love he slew me

My love he buried my bones

His love he married

His love I buried

My love now wanders alone.”

The center of this story is Alice’s dear grandmother Althea, whom she has never had the pleasure of meeting. When we meet Alice, we learn that she knows of her grandmother and her legacy. She is a famous writer of a collection of fairy tales called The Tales of The Hinterland, and she lives on an estate called The Hazel Wood, where her mother Ella grew up as a child. Though Alice has only ever once come across one copy of any of the elusive and ultra-rare stories, she had been forbidden by Ella to ever read any of the tales her mother wrote about. She is also warned to stay away from her grandmother’s crazy obsessed fans, who seem to always track Ella and Alice down, begging for information about Althea and The Hinterland. Naturally, we need to know WHY!

So when Ella disappears and Alice is left all alone, she turns to a schoolmate that is the closest thing she has to a friend. Ellery Finch is a strange boy she knows from school, but one who shows her kindness…even if he does know who her grandmother is. It turns out, Finch is one of those crazy obsessed fans Alice is supposed to stay away from, but she enlists his help as he is the only one that has any information on her grandmother. Together they begin searching for clues as to the whereabouts of The Hazel Wood manor, all the while trying not to be killed by strange creatures.

The Hinterland is, well, wicked. It is dark and seedy, magical and dangerous, and alluring yet completely frightening. It is crawling with eerie beings who are both human and not, and I can only visualize it as Wonderland dropping into The Upside Down. The book is basically little fairy tales put into one giant fairy tale. It reads just like the dark folklore that makes your skin crawl while tickling your fancy. There are strange and curious characters at every turn, like a grandmother moon or  Twice-Killed Katherine. There are stories of a spoiled girl who makes a deal with the Night Women, a young woman who kills to seek death, and a princess born with black eyes.

It is such an incredibly strange tale, but one I am completely enraptured with. I have already began reading book two, The Night Country, and I can say that I am just as hooked. Though I did find that The Hazel Wood was a little slow at times, it wasn’t enough to make me want to put it down or sway my interest. I’m addicted to the odd and gritty nature of the book as a whole, and it just feels like a story I have been patiently waiting to be written. It is for the readers who, like me, want a little darkness poured into their magical teacups and just want to get lost in the woods.

Though I can’t say much else without giving everything away, I highly recommend this read for those of you who haven’t already read it. It is exactly what a YA Fantasy should be, and it is written like a dream with ripples of fog blurring the edges. I cannot wait to see what happens next!

5-stars

 

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Book Promo · Books · New Releases · Takeover Tour · The Parliament House Press

Takeover Tour: Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault (Glass Vault, Book 1) by Candace Robinson

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Publisher: The Parliament House
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Book Title: Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault
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Series: Glass Vault, Book 1
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Author: Candace Robinson
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~*~ Takeover Tour ~*~

I have teamed up with The Parliament House Press for the Takeover Tour and Release Day of Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault, a YA Fantasy Horror dripping in spooky fairy0tale elements!

It’s the first in the Glass Vault series and described as a gruesome, dark and twisted tale. Perfect for horror fans who love a bit of magic and romance!

~Click here to purchase a copy!~

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There is also a GIVEAWAY for a chance to win an E-Book of Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault!
Head over to my Bookstagram to enter! ❤
@JenacideByBibliophile

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Book Synopsis

Some see it… Some don’t…

People in the town of Deer Park, Texas are vanishing. There is a strange museum, known as Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault, that appears overnight. Perrie Madeline’s best friend and ex-boyfriend are among the missing. Perrie and her friend August go on a pursuit for them in the mysterious museum. Could the elusive Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault have anything to do with the disappearances?

Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault is the start of a thrilling duology full of magic, danger, and romance.

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Social Media Tags:
Instagram: @literarydust , @theparliamentpress
Twitter: @literarydust , @Parliamentbooks
Facebook: Candace Robinson – Literary Dust , The Parliament House
Website: http://authorcandacerobinson.wordpress.com

 

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