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Book Review: Along the Indigo by Elsie Chapman

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

Genre: YA/Teen, Fiction

Plot: The town of Glory is famous for two things: businesses that front for seedy, if not illegal, enterprises and the suicides that happen along the Indigo River. Marsden is desperate to escape the “bed-and-breakfast” where her mother works as a prostitute—and where her own fate has been decided—and she wants to give her little sister a better life. But escape means money, which leads Mars to skimming the bodies that show up along the Indigo River. It’s there that she runs into Jude, who has secrets of his own and whose brother’s suicide may be linked to Mars’s own sordid family history. As they grow closer, the two unearth secrets that could allow them to move forward . . . or chain them to the Indigo forever.

Opinion:

Hookers, suicide, and skimmingoh my!

Along the Indigo: A tale so doused in grittiness, it almost feels lighthearted.

A book set in present times with a town that feels stuck in the 1800’s. There is romance, there is death, and you can bet your bottom dollar there is a whole lot of detail just DRIPPING in “oh yikes”. It might just be the most depressing book that will make you weirdly happy and overjoyed.

Emotionally confused? Perfect, you’ll fit right in here.

Sixteen-year-old Marsden wants nothing more than to leave her cursed town, Glory, and to start a new life with her little sister Wynn. Living in a boarding house that provides extra services to “Johns”, Marsden works as a cook in the kitchens while her mother serves as one of the prostitutes. Now that Marsden is getting older, the boarding house owner (Nina) is taking an interest in Marsden and trying to recruit her to become one of her “girls”. But Marsden only wants to get out of Glory, and the only way she can do that is by skimming. Down from the boarding house lies the covert, a piece of land that is believed to be cursed after her great-great-grandfather murdered his family before pulling the gun on himself. Now the covert is a place the locals go to commit suicide, and Marsden and her family are looked upon by the residents of Glory as lepers. Marsden walks the covert every morning in search of bodies, and upon finding one, she will take whatever money she can find before reporting the body. But the newest body she comes across is the brother of one of her classmates, who shows up at Marsden’s door one day with an interesting request.

Weirded out by that description? Good! I assure you, this is a strange story and I don’t blame you for thinking wtf. Maybe I’m just a creepy little woman-child, but I live for these abnormal stories. So when I saw this on Netgalley I thought this book looks like a winner, and low and behold, I was right as usual. Although I am seeing mixed reviews on it because some readers can’t get past that little ol’ “prostitute” thing, and I wrote prostitute as “prostitute” because come on guys…she’s just a prostitute. I am here to calm your sensitive nerves to tell you this, there is a YA/Teen story okay? You won’t be getting any graphic prostitute moments, I promise. These are nice prostitutes. Some of the best, I’m sure.

anyways

This story really isn’t as bizarre as it sounds. To be completely honest, it’s one of the best stand-alone stories I have read in a LONG TIME. It’s different, it’s dark, but it’s lined with a sunshiny innocence that makes it feel…normal? Yes, normal. Elsie Chapman has a gift, and that gift is that she can make weird ass s**t seem completely casual. My first impression about a chapter or two into Along the Indigo, was that it felt as if it as written YEARS ago. Though it is set in present times, I couldn’t help but imagine Marsden in a ratty white dress living in a house full of women in corsets and bustle skirts. I loved that I got this impression though because it made the grittiness of the events so much more sinful. I kept picturing an old ghost town with a crooked sheriff and handsy old drunk men stumbling out of the local saloon. If that’s too inconceivable, think To Kill A Mockingbird…that actually makes more sense.

Marsden Eldridge is the main character, and MY OH MY has that girl had a rough life. Not only does everyone (including her own family) think that the covert and the Eldridge family is cursed, but they are also treated like they don’t exist. Nobody in town will hire them, which is why Marsden’s mother works as a prostitute for Nina. Eight years prior, Marsden’s father was found in the Indigo and it was reported that he drowned on his way home from gambling one night. Now Marsden’s only goal is to save enough money to get her and her sister Wynn out of Glory, in hopes that they can start fresh. Skimming bodies is how Mars makes most of her money, and it is a task she has been doing for years. It is a truly dark and heartbreaking thing to witness through the eyes of Mars, and you can’t help but still love her…even though she’s stealing money from dead bodies.

One of the newest bodies that Mars comes across is a young man named Rigby, who is the older brother of one of her classmates, Jude. After his death, Jude shows up at the boarding house in search of Marsden with a strange request. He suspects that Rigby had buried something in the covert as a child, and he wants permission from Marsden to go into the covert to find it. Here begins a complicated friendship and romance. I adore Jude and Mars. Jude is incredibly sweet and caring towards her, and their relationship is very unique and special.

I don’t want to give too much away, so I’m going to stop right there. I have seen a lot of mixed feeling, on this story, but I personally loved it and couldn’t put it down. It is SUCH an interesting story with so many layers and emotions packed into it. Though so much of what happens feels crazy and abnormal, the author does a wonderful job of making sure the reader can relate to Mars and her family. If you guys have liked some of the weirder books that I have reviewed, you MUST read Along the Indigo. This story leaves you in a twisted dreamlike state that can only be described as “comparable to seeing your ex get lit on fire. Kind of sad and scary, but mostly pretty f*****g enjoyable”.

5-stars

 

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Book Review: Forlorn by Gina Detwiler

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

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Plot: Bad luck seems to follow Grace Fortune wherever she goes. She was orphaned at a young age, and her musical talent got her accepted to a prestigious school for the arts, where she was caught in the middle of horrific school shooting that nearly takes her life. But then she meets gorgeous loner, Jared Lorn, and falls madly in love. There is only one problem. Jared is not exactly human. He’s a Nephilim, an angel/human hybrid, descended from a cursed line of fallen angels known as the Watchers. Having a half-demon boyfriend who’s under a curse from God can be tough enough. But then Grace decides that she wants to help free Jared from the curse by killing his angel father, Azazel, who is bound up in the Abyss, where he will be judged at the End of Days. She has a powerful ally in her guardian angel Ariel, who has given her a weapon: a Song that can tame demons. With a crew of loyal friends, Grace and Jared will travel to the ends of the earth, battling the forces of heaven and hell that seek to defeat them. Yet as their love grows stronger, they will find themselves in danger of succumbing to the very corruption that caused the Watchers’ downfall.

Opinion:

Don’t hate me for this guys

….but this is a review of an unfinished book. I know, I know…it’s all very dismal.

I am forgoing my own synopsis of this book for my review, as the plot above gives all the information that is needed to read this story. Though I did not end up finishing this book, it doesn’t mean it’s the most terrible thing that has ever hit a bookshelf. It really isn’t. It’s a fast read, easy to follow, basically enjoyable, and the writing is fair. The main reason I couldn’t finish Forlorn, was because I lost interest and I didn’t care for it enough to pick it back up once I had closed it. I am quite confident that I could have finished it, but there were just too many distracting flaws in it for me to continue.

This story starts with a prologue, in which it describes what happens to Grace when she is involved in a car accident with her parents. Here we learn that Grace had a guardian angel watching over her, and that really is where the story takes off. At first, I kind of liked that the writing in the prologue was short and to the point. It is sort of “clipped” or in “bullet note” form for the reader so only the most important points are said. However, this made the scene feel less important than it should have. It made me not take it seriously, and in turn made me not really care about the deaths. Heartless? Ehhhhh, maybe. But come on, a book is SUPPOSED to make me care about the characters and events, isn’t it?

Another issue I had was that I kept getting a gnarly sense of Déjà vu while reading. I feel like I have read that EXACT car accident in another book. To make matters worse, THE Twilight moment happens. What moment do I speak of? Oh, you know that one from the first book. When Bella and Edward first catch some eyes and Edward gets all cringe-worthy weird and awkward? As if it wasn’t awkward enough if the book, the movie makes you literally scrunch your face up because of how weird it is. Well, that moment happens in this book and I couldn’t handle it.

As the story continues and I start to meet some of the other characters at Grace’s school, I just see a lot more cheesiness and simplicity. I feel no connection to any of the characters because they feel boring and underdeveloped, and they also over-dramatize everything. Once the story starts to pick up and some action starts happening, I still can’t quite get into it. Even though this is a Fantasy story and things are meant to be unbelievable, it just felt…literally unbelievable. It honestly just felt like too much “fluff” was being put into the story, and not enough substance.

I stopped reading when a character named Penny claimed that she was addicted to X. That did it for me, so I put the book down and haven’t touched it since. With all this said, I just couldn’t finish the story. Meaning: You may actually like it and I might just be ridiculous. It’s for you to decide in the end, this is just my opinion. I really wanted to like this story because of the fallen angel and demon themes (one of my favorite Fantasy themes), but it just wasn’t up to par for me.

1-star

 

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Book Review: A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: Teen & YA/Coming-of-Age/Fiction

Plot:

Steffi doesn’t talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life. The condition’s name has always felt ironic to her, because she certainly does not “select” not to speak. In fact, she would give anything to be able to speak as easily and often as everyone around her can. She suffers from crippling anxiety, and uncontrollably, in most situations simply can’t open her mouth to get out the words.

Steffi’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to help him acclimate. To Rhys, it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk. As they find ways to communicate, Steffi discovers that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it. But as she starts to overcome a lifelong challenge, she’ll soon confront questions about the nature of her own identity and the very essence of what it is to know another person.

Opinion:

A Quiet Kind of Thunder is a refreshingly different sort of story that centers on two young teens. After stumbling upon this story on NetGalley and liking the description that was provided, I requested it with an excitement to see what I would be getting into. I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. This story feels genuine and realistic, and there is an innocence around it that hugs the reader until the end.

For years Steffi has lived with a crippling anxiety that has ruled her life. Her social anxiety has caused her to become a selective mute, and she is only able to speak freely and comfortably around her family and best friend. At school the teachers are understanding to Steffi’s situation, and it allows Steffi to sink into the shadows and become invisible to her peers. But when a new boy enters her school, Steffi realizes that she might not be as invisible as she thought. Rhys transfers to Steffi’s school in the hopes of having a more normal school experience, even though his hearing impairment requires special attention from teachers. Together Rhys and Steffi find common ground by way of communicating through sign language and form an instant friendship. As they grow closer and a relationship begins to form, Steffi notices herself starting to change for the better. A Quiet Kind of Thunder showcases the hardships two teens face as they navigate through school and personal relationships, while also learning how to adapt themselves into a normal way of life.

I found A Quiet Kind of Thunder to be a very unique and endearing YA story. I found Steffi’s situation to be VERY interesting…a selective mute? WHAT?! Steffi explains that she is psychically able to speak, but her social anxiety and fears make it hard for her to form sentences as easily as others do. Due to her having a hard time communicating in front of her peers, she chooses to be mute in public and at school. The reader catches up with Steffi as she starts her first year of school without her best friend by her side, which means she doesn’t have an ally or someone to talk freely to. But when Rhys comes along and her learns that she knows sign language, they form an instant friendship and understanding.

This story really gives the reader an inside look into what it is like for teens with hearing and speaking impairments. For Steffi, her parents explain to her how hard it’s going to be to go to University and to have a life on her own when she is unable to communicate with others. For Rhys, the reader sees that a lot of times he gets lost in translation if he is unable to read lips or if someone isn’t speaking in front of him. It made me much more aware of both conditions and made me realize how much we take for granted on a daily basis.

In regards to the writing and story, I found Steffi to be very mature for her age…but maybe even, too mature? I found her speaking to be very eloquent and beyond her years, which made me feel that it was a bit unbelievable. I also found the characters of Rhys and Steffi to be a little too positive and peppy. Obviously, I am not saying that these two should be depressed and sulky! I just thought that their characters were very fluffed and over-the-top with how perky they were. The manner in which they spoke was very formal, and it makes them feel a bit detached from their emotions. These are teenagers, not adult acquaintances! It felt a bit too “cookie cutter” for me, and it made me not connect with them as much as I would have liked. This was bothering me a lot while reading and is a reason why I didn’t fall 100% in love with the story.

The plot was entertaining, and I liked where the author went with the relationship between Rhys and Steffi. Their conditions put stress on their relationship and the relationships around them, and I thought the author showcased these hardships effectively. It was empowering to watch Steffi grow and begin to succeed. The dynamic of how it affected Rhys was something that any couple could relate to, and I began to really feel for his character in that sense. These conditions can make a person feel very alone and isolated unintentionally, and it was sad to see Rhys begin to feel defeated.

Overall, I enjoyed this read but I didn’t love it. It was even-paced, keeps the readers attention, and is entertaining and informative. In the end, I wanted a little more grit and raw truth from these characters. That being said, I think this might be aimed at a younger audience. Though this won’t be one of those books that I put on my “Have to Read Again” shelf, I still found it to be a sweet story that had a strong amount of innocence.

3-5-stars

 

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Book Review: Shatter (Glitter Book 2) by Aprilynne Pike

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Shatter (Glitter Book 2) by Aprilynne Pike will be available for purchase on February 13, 2018.

Pre-order a copy through the links below:

Amazon.com: Shatter (Glitter Book 2) by Aprilynne Pike


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

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Science-Fiction

Plot: Danica planned to use beauty, blackmail, and a glittering drug to control her own fate. Her escape from the twisted world of the Palace of Versailles was perfectly orchestrated and paid for. Or so she thought.

Betrayed by the man who had promised her freedom, Dani is now married to the murderous king. It’s a terrifying position to be in . . . and yet it’s oddly intoxicating. Power may be an even stronger drug than Glitter–a drug Dani can’t resist, in the form of secrets, manipulation, and sabotage.

In her new position at the head of the court, Dani must ask herself who she really is. Can she use her newfound power to secure her real love, Saber’s freedom, and a chance at a life together outside the palace? Or is being queen too addictive to give up?

Opinion:

OoOoOo can you guys hear that?

It sounds almost like…like…ravenous courtiers inebriated on Glitter rouge and lipstick. Or maybe it’s the whimsical musings of backstabbing, and one or two dead bodies? Perhaps robots? Or even more likely, crushed dreams of freedom and public displays of forced affection and bliss?

One thing is for sure, some s**t just hit an eight-tier chandelier at the Palace of Versailles.

As Danica’s plans to escape the Palace of Versailles slips from her gloved fingertips, the realization of her new life sets in: she is to marry Justin and become Queen. Danica knows that there is no other way for her now, and so she begrudgingly takes the role. As she begins to gain control of her court, the demand for her beauty products known as Glitter are at an all time high. Danica begins to throw herself into her duties, but losing herself along the way is just part of the process. In Shatter, Danica searches desperately for another way to leave Versailles and for a way to free Saber from his slavery. But Danica is getting in deeper than she expected, and the role of being Queen is a drug all on its own. Time is running out, but the Glitter isn’t.

WHAT. A. WHIRLWIND!!!

I want nothing more than to jump into this world that Aprilynne Pike has created! As I had said in my review for book 1 (Glitter), Shatter takes place in Sonoman-Versailles at the Palace of Versailles. Sonoman-Versailles reflects the fashions and dialect of that of the 18th-Century, but the technology they possess surpasses present time. Danica resides in the Queens quarters, which is the exact quarters that Marie Antoinette resided in during her time. But for Danica, being Queen is the last thing she wants. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what she gets. After Reginald refuses to help her flee, Danica is forced to marry Justin. Now stuck with the task of trying to navigate her new roles, she is also forced to sit back as Reginald takes control of her Glitter business.

Danica is a WHOLE new person in this book. She has transitioned into something truly amazing yet terrifying, and I am OBSESSED with it. In Shatter Danica is still doing everything she can to find a way for her and Saber to escape, but the role as Queen starts to drastically change her. The reader follows Danica as she makes RUTHLESS decisions and power-plays against the King, Reginald, and even a few members of the court. The King even goes so far as to say that he and Danica are alike, which honestly is NOT an exaggeration. She has blossomed into a calculating and manipulative character, but really…can we blame her? She is surrounded by horrible people, and all she wants is to be free. Bottom line, the girl is a savage and I commend her for it.

None of this is funny,’ I say, straightening my arm with my finger on the trigger. ‘No, of course not,’ he says, sobering. I shoot him in the leg.”

As for our other characters, Saber is still kind of lame and Justin is still an ass. Saber has become a minor role next to Danica, and especially now that she is Queen and being a badass. But with that considered, he still isn’t much of a character to be cared about in my opinion. In Shatter Saber had one role: try to be the voice of reason for Danica as she makes some SERIOUSLY CRAZY moves. But that’s about all he was there for. I honestly wouldn’t have noticed if he just disappeared halfway through the book, and frankly, I would have preferred it.

JUSTIN…still sucks in book 2. Although, you can’t say the guy is bland! He is such an arrogant piece of work, always playing mind games with Danica and acting like a spoiled brat. But, I kind of…like it?

Okay, I love him.

I can’t help it; the guy is downright horrible, and I’m so overly entertained by it. The more ruthless and snobbish he is, the more I hope for encounters with him. The banter between Justin and Danica is PURE gold. The author has created an intricate dance that these two participate in when they converse. They speak in carefully constricted sentences, and the only goal is to manipulate and play the other until one of them comes out champion. I LIVE FOR THIS! Though the end of Justin and Danica is to be expected by the end of this book, I am a little saddened by the way things turned out. For some reason, I just wanted Justin to prevail.

All in all, I think book 2 followed up book 1 nicely. There was A LOT more going on, and there even a few more twists and turns that the reader won’t expect. If you haven’t had the chance to get your hands on book 1 (Glitter) yet, then I SERIOUSLY suggest that you do. These books are hidden little gems and I haven’t seen much buzz about either, WHICH I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND. There is so much happening in these books that it is impossible to lose interest. Death, manipulation, royalty, 18th century fashion, and a ton of sarcasm and wit. Trust me guys, you will LOVE Glitter and Shatter.

4-stars

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Book Review: Amber Sky (C.O.I.L.S Of Copper and Brass Book 1) by Claire Warner

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Amazon.com – Amber Sky (C.O.I.L.S Of Copper and Brass Book 1) by Claire Warner

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

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Science-Fiction/Dystopian/Steampunk

Plot: “You thought I did this out of the goodness of my heart?” He gave a short mirthless laugh. “Not a bit of it, this is going to be dangerous for me. What are you offering for my help?”

Beneath the Amber Sky, the nobility control the food, education, and the mysterious C.O.I.L.S of Copper and Brass. To Tay, struggling to keep her siblings alive, the ideas of rebellion and freedom are distant and unreachable.

But when her father is arrested, she begs Darius James, the son of the Overseer, to save his life. Darius agrees, but his help costs her a favour, one he can call in at any time.

Darius’ favour will bring her to the Palace, and the perfect position to help the growing rebellion. But the court has games beyond anything she has seen before, and Darius’ secrets will add to the danger.

Tay is now able to make a difference, to join the rebellion, find the C.O.I.L.S and discover the secrets of the Amber Sky. All she has to do is survive.

Opinion:

It’s official, I’ve begun my descent into madness and true unyielding despair.

Once again, I have made the mistake of requesting the first book in a series from Netgalley. I told myself I wouldn’t do it again, that I wouldn’t put myself through this immense torture. This bleak fantasy of happiness that only leaves me alone, irritable and sulky. But look at me now…Look at me! On the floor of all places, sobbing, flailing and screaming. Like a fish that was knocked out of its tiny fish bowl…or maybe it jumped out of sheer desperation to be away from those ridiculous plastic castles that have absolutely NO practical use.

Anyways, due to my idiocy in requesting to read this book, I am now left suffering in silence while I wait for book 2. Because holy s***, this series is going to be SO GREAT that it might kill me…with joy!

Set in a Dystopian/Steampunk world, Tay and her family are at the bottom of the totem pole. She is forced to abide by the laws put forth by the noble families; which include strict limitations on food, education, and job placements. But as the rebels fight to make a change, her father ends up getting arrested and being sent to the mines. Knowing that death is just a matter of time in the mines, Tay finds a noble by the name of Darius and pleads for his help. Surprisingly, Darius agrees to help Tay in exchange for a favor…a favor he will not tell her. Hesitantly she agrees, and from that moment on, her life is forever changed. The following days bring her into the homes of Noble families and eventually into the Palace, where she is forced by Darius to pretend to be his sister. But among these Nobles, nobody is safe. If any talk of rebellion is whispered, someone who sat next to you at dinner might just disappear. Tay fights to hide her true identity in order to help her father, while also assisting the rebellion in any way that she can.

Claire Warner did an AMAZING job with this story, and I am bouncing my leg nervously waiting for the next installment. For some reason I am EXTRA excited to write this review, and I think you will see why. Firstly, the characters. They have the perfect amount of description surrounding them, and I felt an immediate connection to our main characters upon first “meeting” them. Tay is a strong-willed and brave female character. The reader can feel her fear as she is forced to do countless illegal things to protect her family, but she does it and does it well. I’m so fond of the way she took on the role of Darius’s sister, she was SUCH a bad***. Not only does she smooth talk the prince into letting her live, but she makes countless friends among the nobles that we can assume are really on the rebel side.

Darius is an interesting character, and I knew I was going to love him right away. It’s the sarcastic one’s guys…I can’t help myself! Upon our first meeting of him, he is pompous and arrogant. I was expecting him to deny Tay right on the spot, but he didn’t! He agrees to help her father be transferred, but requests a favor in return that is less than easy. I found the character of Darius to be an entertaining and caring person, he isn’t at all what the reader expects him to be. ALSO, I think we can all agree that we saw that romance coming. I mean…come on…*Ding Ding* wedding bells! Though I end up favoring his character, I can’t help but feel a bit of sorrow for Tay. She is used and made a pawn in countless games, and it all feels a bit ruthless.

Apart from the characters, this story is KILLER! It’s packed with princesses and royalty, wedding gowns and dances, and even a few explosions and attempted murders. What more could we ask for?! Tay is swept into a world that she had only heard rumors about, and I must say…the girl does a wonderful job of faking it. Though things seem fancy and copacetic between the nobles, underneath it all…they are all on guard. If anyone even mutters a word or rebellion or coils, they suddenly disappear or lose their rank. These people aren’t screwing around guys, it’s serious stuff! My ONLY complaint is that I had some trouble keeping up with this “C.O.I.L.S.” explanation. I think the author could have delved a bit deeper into this, but I’m wondering if that is being saved for book 2? Hopefully. We know that the coils will be the key to the rebels taking control, but WHAT do they do exactly? It’s all very hush hush, and I need more.

To conclude, guys…you need to read this! I LOVED it. I know it sucks having to wait for the next few books and you sometimes forget what happens, but that’s just more reason to read it over again. It’s THAT good. It will keep you hooked and entertained, and you will lose yourself in this fantasy/dystopian world. Trust me, have I ever let you down?

(Don’t answer that)

4-5-stars

 

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Book Review: A Face Like Glass by Francis Hardinge

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~ Buy through the links below ~

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: Ill Will by Dan Chaon

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Amazon.com – Ill Will: A Novel by Dan Chaon

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BarnesandNoble.com – Ill Will by Dan Chaon

Disclaimer: This ARC copy was sent to me by the publisher, Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: Adult/Mature Adult/Mystery/Thriller

Plot:We are always telling a story to ourselves, about ourselves.” This is one of the little mantras Dustin Tillman likes to share with his patients, and it’s meant to be reassuring. But what if that story is a lie?

A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his forties when he hears the news: His adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin’s parents, aunt, and uncle. The trial came to epitomize the 1980s hysteria over Satanic cults; despite the lack of physical evidence, the jury believed the outlandish accusations Dustin and his cousin made against Rusty. Now, after DNA analysis has overturned the conviction, Dustin braces for a reckoning.

Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients has been plying him with stories of the drowning deaths of a string of drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses his patient’s suggestions that a serial killer is at work as paranoid thinking, but as the two embark on an amateur investigation, Dustin starts to believe that there’s more to the deaths than coincidence. Soon he becomes obsessed, crossing all professional boundaries—and putting his own family in harm’s way.

From one of today’s most renowned practitioners of literary suspense, Ill Will is an intimate thriller about the failures of memory and the perils of self-deception. In Dan Chaon’s nimble, chilling prose, the past looms over the present, turning each into a haunted place.

Opinion: WHEW! What a whirlwind that story was! After becoming introduced to The Girl on the Train, I have been in a frenzy trying to find similar books. I came across Ill Will on Netgalley and HAD to give it a go. Let me tell you readers, I have so many STRONG and INSANE emotions rushing through me right now…I barely know where to start! This book is like a bad mushroom trip that feels WAY too real.

Thirty years ago, Dustin and his cousins woke up to find their parents brutally murdered in their home. Already flushed with loss at a young age, a life sentence is handed down on Dustin’s adopted brother Rusty who is blamed for the crimes. Now years later with children of his own, Dustin works as a psychologist in Cleveland. Soon a call from Dustin’s cousin brings panic into his life, as he is told that Rusty’s sentence has been thrown out and he is being released. Now Dustin begins to reflect back on the night that changed his life forever, and whether he and his cousins were right about testifying against Rusty and blaming him for the murders. All the while, a staggering number of male college students being found dead is making headlines. Though the police call the strange occurrences “accidental drownings”, Dustin’s new patient feels otherwise and suspects foul play. Could there be a link to this madness, or is Dustin slowly falling down a rabbit hole?

This is a truly interesting and dark story. There are tons of misleading twists and shocking occurrences, and the characters are truly gritty. Dustin is our main character and the reader follows him as he relives moments from his past, while also dealing with his present. One day Dustin gets a call from his cousin who tells him that Rusty, his adopted brother and the person who took the fall for the murders, is being released from prison. He is told that new DNA results were discovered which proves that Rusty couldn’t have murdered his new family. This brings a panic into Dustin’s life because now he is unsure if Rusty was the culprit of the crime, or if he was just blamed because of the things he had done in his past.

As Dustin reflects on his past growing up with Rusty, I was…how should I say this…COMPLETELY f***ing disturbed. There is some SERIOUSLY dark and grimy things that go on between these boys. Rusty can be described as a tough and hardheaded boy at an early age, and grows into a metal loving hooligan that likes talking about satanic rituals and even goes as far as sacrificing small rabbits. Dustin is a young an impressionable boy, and sees Rusty as his knight in shining armor. He proves to be a more than gullible child, and will allow his mind to be overturned by suggestions and hints by his older cousins and Rusty. In each flashback that these characters take the reader in, we are given glimpses of each characters flaws as a child and reasons why they could or couldn’t have been the ones to murder their family.

Another huge part of this story is Dustin and his patient Aqil. Aqil is a former police officer who has more than an obsessive and compulsive personality. He becomes fascinated by the mass amounts of local drownings of college males, and brings it upon himself to start investigating. As Aqil attends sessions with Dustin, Dustin starts to get wrapped up in the ideas and theories that Aqil presents him. Soon he finds himself spending all of his time with Aqil and latched onto the idea that there is a murderer on the loose killing these boys. The end result for these murders is truly…SHOCKING. I was so blindsided when this portion of the story was SOMEWHAT answered. Yes, in this book you will find that the author likes to leave you guessing.

For me though, I think the ending is where this story really shines. At first I wasn’t too keen on the fact that the ending didn’t completely tie everything together. I ended the book and thought to myself WAIT, what happened?? As it has now been a few days since I have finished the book, I have a different feeling towards the ending. I actually enjoy the fact of where the author took it, because there are so many actual cases where things end up in that fashion. I think I have a pretty decent idea of what could have happened, and I think you guys will too if you give this read a go. But honestly, the best part is knowing that you have no idea what actually happened. So touché Dan Chaon, touché. All in all, I am only giving this 3 stars because this book took me a LONG time to get through and because I was rather uncomfortable for most of the read. I prefer a thriller that THRILLS me, not a story that makes my skin crawl and forces me to put it down. It is an interesting story, but I could have done without all the in-depth sexual scenes.

3-stars

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