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Book Review: The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé

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The Dark Beneath the Ice will be available for purchase on August 7, 2018

Pre-order a copy through the links below:

Amazon.com – The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé

Barnesandnoble.com – The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé

Goodreads.com – The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé

Bookdepository.com – The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé

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

Genre: YA/Teen/Paranormal

Plot: Something is wrong with Marianne.

It’s not just that her parents have finally split up. Or that life hasn’t been the same since she quit dancing. Or even that her mother has checked herself into the hospital.

She’s losing time. Doing things she would never do. And objects around her seem to break whenever she comes close. Something is after her. And the only one who seems to believe her is the daughter of a local psychic.

But their first attempt at an exorcism calls down the full force of the thing’s rage. It demands Marianne give back what she stole. Whatever is haunting her, it wants everything she has—everything it’s convinced she stole. Marianne must uncover the truth that lies beneath it all before the nightmare can take what it thinks it’s owed, leaving Marianne trapped in the darkness of the other side.

Opinion:

Black Swan meets Paranormal Activity in this compelling ghost story about a former dancer whose grip on reality slips when she begins to think a dark entity is stalking her”

So this was…interesting.

Marianne’s life has never been more out of control. With her parents announcing their divorce despite seeming to be so in love, her mother’s recent hospitalization, and the drama surrounding Marianne’s decision to quit dance; it feels like Marianne is drowning.  As she is sent to live with her aunt, strange things begin to happen in Marianne’s quiet world. Losing time, objects being moved without her moving them, strange knocking and banging on the walls, and the never-ending feeling of being watched. After a loss of time happens in one of Marianne’s classes, she attempts to reach out to the goth girl named Ron in hopes that her psychic mother may help her. But when communicating with whatever haunts Marianne only strengthens it, everyone close to Marianne is in danger. Something is coming for Marianne, and its angry at her for being shoved down and drowned. But in the end, Marianne may be the one being dragged beneath the ice.

Intriguing concept and idea, but a bit of a miss for me.

Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely some positives! The story started out great in regards to the writing style. It was so descriptive and beautiful, I felt as if I was reading a more relaxed form of poetry. The writing feels like a well-choreographed dance, and I found myself having to read between the lines to figure out what these characters were hiding. It was constructed well, had an even tone throughout, and was a very quick and easy read. The theme that the author kept with through this story (as you can tell from the title) is a theme of being drowned or shoved down beneath ice. Marianne uses her memories of the river near her aunt’s house as a meditative tool when she begins to feel overwhelmed or scared. She pictures the calming feeling of her being submerged in the water, and the silence and security that comes with hiding under the surface.  The water is her safe place, and the ice on top of the water becomes her shield against anything negative. This theme is carried throughout the entire book, but becomes less of a symbolism and more of a….sighit honestly just becomes ridiculous.

As I started this read, I was really into it and devouring the words in order to find out WHAT exactly was going on. Is this a ghost story, is it a story of delusions and misconceptions, or is it a fantastical read about demons?! Halfway through the story I had decided that this was a ghost haunting/exorcism story that was about to be twisted and wild, and it was proving to be just that. Marianne would wake up at the piano in her aunt’s house banging on the keys in the middle of the night, or she would find herself up in front of her class at school being scolded by her teacher but having no recollection of what had happened. Things got worse after Ron, the goth/emo girl from school, tries to give Marianne a tame version of an exorcism. But even after enlisting the help of Ron’s mother, the physic, things turn dangerous. Knives floating in the air and being aimed at herself, bruises on her body, and a distinct pulling feeling that tries to drag her into the river and drown her.

However, how this turns out just DOES NOT ADD UP.

*Watch out, there’s a puddle of SPOILERS down there*

Nearing the end of this story I had a thought that MAYBE this was all just a symbolism for Marianne figuratively drowning herself in her hardships and woes and BLAH BLAH BLAH. MAYBE there isn’t actually a ghost or anything haunting her, MAYBE it’s just her.

Well, guess what?

It was literally both of those things.

It was her own “shadow self” trying to drown her because Marianne had pushed her “shadow self” beneath the figurative surface, and the “shadow self” wanted out because the “shadow self” was actually the original Marianne, and the Marianne that is now Marianne isn’t actually the original Marianne. The “shadow self” is actually the first Marianne, but in the end they are actually both Marianne.

Makes total sense right?

-__-

Apart from that complete mess, the character of Marianne that the reader follows during this read proves to be another negative in my eyes. Marianne is, simply put, annoying as all hell. She felt a bit dull, emotionally confusing, and extremely desperate and needy in a way that made me scrunch my face up in a “WTF” sort of way. She has this fabricated idea of friendships in her head that I just didn’t follow. She was so worried about looking needy all the time, but it just made her look doubly needy and a little stalkerish. She just wasn’t my cup of tea. Ron on the other hand, was a more agreeable character for me. This could be because of my tendency to favor the weird gothy kids though. But Ron proves to be a strong character, she is willful and a “take no s**t” kind of gal, and I love her for it.

Also as a heads up, there is a bit of LGBT moments that happen in this story. They are very tame and mild, so if this is your thing or isn’t, just a warning in advance.

All in all, that ending really ruined the story for me. It started out promising, I loved the writing style, but the main character and the conclusion just didn’t hit the mark for me. I appreciate where the author was trying to take this story, but I don’t think she was able to take this book to the place it needed to go. The ending just didn’t feel completely thought through, and the delivery was a bit lacking. Of course, this is just my own opinion, and not all readers share my thoughts. If you think this might be a story that interests you, then I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

2-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


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

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: 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

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13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough will be available for purchase on October 3, 2017.

Pre-order a copy through the links below:

 Amazon.com – 13 Minutes: A Novel by Sarah Pinborough


Barnesandnoble.com – 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

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

Genre: YA/Fiction/Mystery/Thriller

Plot: Natasha’s sure that her friends love her. But does that mean they didn’t try to kill her?

Natasha doesn’t remember how she ended up in the icy water that night, but she does know this—it wasn’t an accident, and she wasn’t suicidal. Her two closest friends are acting strangely, and Natasha turns to Becca, the best friend she dumped years before when she got popular, to help her figure out what happened.

They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart.

Opinion: *Sigh*…do you feel it guys? October is coming. Oooooh the leaves are beginning to fall; the air is starting to smell like brisk air and dying trees! Girls are buying pumpkin spice lattes, and those lovely goths and wickens are patiently waiting for Halloween. So here I am, giving the gift of words to put you in the mood of October…if you haven’t yet transitioned. A story with drownings, blindsides, almost decapitation (I’m exaggerating) and skanky girls!

AH! Nothing puts me in the holiday spirit quite like attempted/actual murder and scandal! Oooooo…spirit fingers!

It was a shock to everyone when the body of Natasha Howland was found washed up on an embankment, but an even bigger shock to find her alive. With no recollection of how she ended up in the water that night, Natasha tries desperately to find out what happened to her. With the return of her former best friend Becca, they work together to try and make sense of what the police have found out thus far. But with Natasha’s best friends Jenny and Haley acting strange, she begins to think that they might have something to do with what happened to her. Only time will tell what really happened that night, and only Natasha knows the truth.

I must say Ladies and Gents, this one will keep you guessing. This read will pull you in and keep you interested, in more ways than one! The obvious is the mystery of how poor Natasha ends up in the freezing water that night, which caused her to die for 13 minutes. But little does the reader know that s**t is about to get REAL. This book has it all! Some light drug use, a reenactment of Mean Girls, psycho girlfriends, stoners, adults behaving VERY badly, manipulation at its FINEST, and a dose of that good ol’ murder! Oh! Can you feel the tingles?! I sure can. I love a bundle of characters that makes me yell and curse out loud. I found myself rooting for every character at one point, but suddenly…everything began to shift. But just when I was about to shout “AAHHHHH HAH”, it all shifts AGAIN! These b****es are sneaky guys, very sneaky.

After Natasha wakes up in the hospital, the doctors report that she can’t remember the events that led up to her accident. We start to see her best friends, Haley and Jenny, acting strange and secretive, and Natasha even asks for Becca while in the hospital. This starts to feel as if everything is being set up and made too obvious from the very beginning, but thankfully that isn’t the case AT ALL. The author made sure to have the reader suspect each character for at least a moment, and I found myself being suspicious of EVERYONE. I couldn’t help but think the worst, but even I wasn’t thinking bad enough. I was NOT expecting any of these things to happen, and I loved it!

Characters. Well, to put it simply. Natasha is Queen Barbie for a reason, Becca is acutely annoying and desperate, Aiden is just a pansy, and Haley and Jenny are interesting…especially Jenny when she goes a little nutty. There are a few other characters who have some roles that I could mention, but they just don’t really seem to matter much (sorry guys). This story flips back and forth between Becca and Natasha, obviously our lead female characters in this story. Becca and Natasha used to be best friends, but Natasha dropped Becca a few years prior. Becca is considered a bit of a loner at school, while Natasha is in the popular crowd. She seems to have a decent head on her shoulders, meaning she doesn’t seem like the typical conceited popular girl. I started out favoring Becca, but halfway through the story that changed. As soon as Becca started acting needy and psycho, I just couldn’t stand her. The girl needed to CHECK herself. Pull in those emotions sweetheart, they’re all over the place!

Overall, this book really surprised me. I was expecting a flimsy YA read with some drama and overzealous characters, but what I got was so much more! I am so impressed with how this author was able to trick me so many times, and it kept me interested and reading. These characters are all VERY twisted and insane in their own way, but strangely normal at the same time. How the book unfolds itself is truly something special. I am SO glad I requested to read and review this one. Please keep in mind that this is for an older YA group of readers, as there is a lot of adult themes and situations that happen. This is not for a preteen! This is a great story to get you into the mystery/thriller stories as we get closer to Halloween, enjoy!

4-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: ONE MOMENT by Kristina McBride

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This is a Reprint edition that will be available on January 17, 2017. Links for Pre-order are below:

Amazon.com – One Moment by Kristina McBride

BarnesandNoble.com – One Moment by Kristina McBride

Goodreads.com – One Moment by Kristina McBride

Disclaimer: This was sent to me by the publisher, Skyhorse Publishing/Sky Pony Press, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fiction

Plot: This was supposed to be the best summer of Maggie’s life. Now it’s the one she’d do anything to forget.

Maggie Reynolds remembers hanging out at the gorge with her closest friends after a blowout party the night before. She remembers climbing the trail hand in hand with her perfect boyfriend, Joey. She remembers that last kiss, soft, lingering, and meant to reassure her. So why can’t she remember what happened in the moment before they were supposed to dive? Why was she left cowering at the top of the cliff, while Joey floated in the water below—dead?

As Maggie’s memories return in snatches, nothing seems to make sense. Why was Joey acting so strangely at the party? Where did he go after taking her home? And if Joey was keeping these secrets, what else was he hiding?

McBride delivers a novel of secrets that packs an emotional punch, perfect for fans of Sara Zarr and Gayle Forman.

Opinion:

Well S**t, that was depressing.

After a traumatic accident that leaves her boyfriend Joey dead, Maggie finds herself unable to remember the final moments that lead up to his death. Maggie remembers spending the day at the gorge with her childhood friends and boyfriend Joey, and she even remembers climbing up the trail with him to jump off the cliff together. But for some reason, everything else is a blank. As the people closest to Joey try to pick up the pieces after his death, Maggie starts to unravel deep secrets about Joey and starts to realize that he might not have been as perfect as she thought.

I feel like it has been quite a while since I have read a true YA Fiction story that hasn’t had to do with magic or the underworld. I couldn’t have asked for a better book to bring me back into the “real life” stories that I have always adored. If you are a big reader like me, which I hope that you are, then this book will probably be pretty enjoyable for you, but also fairly predictable. This story is formatted in a way where the reader gets a basic idea for what the book is about, but they are really on the quest to find out HOW Joey died and what he was like. Though I had figured this story out at the beginning, I was still happy to find that there were few unexpected moments in this story. I think the author could have given the “mystery” behind Joey’s death a little more pizazz though (that sounds horrible when I say that out loud, I know).  Maggie literally tells the reader that she was running hand in hand with joey towards the cliff and stopped. Now he’s suddenly dead at the bottom. Well gee, I WONDER how THAT could have happened?! You mean he didn’t make the leap off the cliff correctly after you abruptly stopped?!? I just can’t believe it.

*Insert extreme sarcasm here*

Other than THAT, I really liked this book. It was a quick read and the pace just clipped right along, which meant that I finished it in one day. I didn’t get a strong connection to the characters in this book, but I don’t really find it to be that necessary with this story. Usually I am a big advocate for character development, but I find the amount of facts about the characters to be enough. Don’t get me wrong here, it’s not like you feel a complete disconnect from them or anything. They are just the basic normal teenagers going through their adolescent years…not the most complex creatures, if you catch my drift. I did really like the characters of Maggie and Shannon the best though. Maggie is going through a very traumatic experience, and I found that she held herself together fairly well. What I like about Shannon is that she is a COMPLETE b***h most of the time. I love a sassy character that just blurts things out without a care in the world, so you go girl! Of course deep down I actually hate her because other ruthlessness, but still.

All I can really say about this book, without giving too many secrets away, is that it is a really quick YA read. It brings the reader back to the nostalgic moments that came with being in high school around your childhood friends, while also pulling our tender heartstrings. Some things that happen in this story feel brutal, and it makes you sympathize for the characters and hope that everything will turn around for them. I definitely recommend this book for a lazy day read or for those cold Winter months ahead…this story about summer is sure to warm you up and get your blood boiling!

3 Stars

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Book Review: ROSEBLOOD by A. G. Howard

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RoseBlood will be available to purchase on January 10, 2017, links for Pre-order are below:

Amazon.com – RoseBlood by A.G. Howard – Pre-order

BarnesandNoble.com – RoseBlood by A.G. Howard – Pre-order

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

Genre: YA/Romance/Fantasy/Gothic Romance

Plot: Rune, whose voice has been compared to that of an angel, has a mysterious affliction linked to her talent that leaves her sick and drained at the end of every performance. Convinced creative direction will cure her, her mother ships her off to a French boarding school for the arts, rumored to have a haunted past.
 
Shortly after arriving at RoseBlood conservatory, Rune starts to believe something otherworldly is indeed afoot. The mystery boy she’s seen frequenting the graveyard beside the opera house doesn’t have any classes at the school, and vanishes almost as quickly as he appears. When Rune begins to develop a secret friendship with the elusive Thorn, who dresses in clothing straight out of the 19th century, she realizes that in his presence she feels cured. Thorn may be falling for Rune, but the phantom haunting RoseBlood wants her for a very specific and dangerous purpose. As their love continues to grow, Thorn is faced with an impossible choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or save her and face the wrath of the phantom, the only father he’s ever known.

Opinion: Usually when I come across a book that focuses on music, I normally avoid ever reading it. Due to RoseBlood being written by A.G Howard, and considering how much I LOVED the Splintered Series, I knew I had to go for it and request it from Netgalley. I am honestly so happy I branched out and decided to read this, because it was a really creative take on The Phantom of the Opera.

When Rune was the age of 4, her father played an opera song on his violin that changed her life forever. Now, many years later, anytime a new opera song is played around Rune she has the overwhelming urge to burst out singing…no matter how much she resists. In the hopes that Rune will get help, her mother sends her to a school called RoseBlood that focuses on Opera. Here they hope to help Rune control her gift, but the history of the institution begins to frighten Rune.  With thoughts that RoseBlood is the home of the famous Phantom of the Opera, Rune also comes into contact with the mysterious boy named Thorn that lurks around the grounds. As the relationship between Thorn and Rune starts to strengthen through music, the plans that the real Phantom has for Rune forces Thorn to choose sides between his love and his father.

So obviously this is a fantastical spin-off of The Phantom of the Opera, where the original characters names are used and the past events are more or less the same. The reader is reintroduced to the original Phantom Eric, but also given a new character named Thorn (Etalon). Thorn is rescued by the Phantom at a very young age from a child human-trafficking ring (dark stuff I know), and makes the decision to go live with the Phantom and learn from him. Our female lead character, Rune, has the voice of Christine and the Phantom desperately wants her for her voice. I really liked how the author took this very famous story, kept most of the facts the same, and completely made an entirely new tale for readers to fall in love with. The story has strong gothic romance undertones in it, which was an absolutely perfect setting for me to get lost in. I love anything dark and eerie like that, so as soon as Rune stepped into her new school I knew that this was going to be something special.

I will say that the story can drag on a little at certain points, like in the beginning for example. That was SUCH a long and drawn out introduction of Rune and her mother sitting in the car, and I found myself tentatively rolling my eyes and skimming the “blah blah blah”. I also feel as if I didn’t get enough out of the character of Rune. I wasn’t very connected to her character as much as I was to Thorn. The troubled past that Thorn had gave me a sense of compassion for his character, but I really liked how put together he was all around. Rune’s character came off as boring to me most of the time, and I would have liked a better description on her singing. When Thorn sang as a child, he was described as an avenging angel that’s voice could force a person to face their most unforgivable sins. The description of the power that Thorn held over people with his voice was beautifully explained, but Rune’s voice wasn’t. Seeing as how this story centers around Rune and her voice, I think the author could have gone the extra mile to ensure that the reader felt how important and amazing her singing was.

With those small points aside, I overall really liked this book but felt that the character of Rune could have had more. The romance between Rune and Thorn was heartwarming and sweet, and I was constantly wanting more for these characters. I think that this is a really creative take on The Phantom of the Opera, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the original story. Even if you are not familiar with the original, the reader is given enough explanation to understand the past events and be able to dive into this world.

3 Stars

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Fallen Soldier, Risen Pride 
ByLayla Stevens&Rhonda Reuther

Taking a deep breath, he reached in his back pocket and said, “This came for you today. It was certified. I signed for you and I’ve held it all day but you need to read it.”
“What is it dad?” 
“It’s from the Department of Defense, honey. I didn’t tell your mother. She’s so excited that you are finally home. I hope it’s your final discharge papers but I have a gut feeling that it’s not.” He said as he handed me the envelope.
Taking the envelope, I’m not sure if I wanted to open it or just chuck it in the trash. However, my military instincts kicked in and I opened it. Unfolding the letter, I immediately sat down next to my dad and hung my head. He takes it out of my hands and reads it himself. 
“Can they do that?” he asks with a strain in his voice.
“I guess they can dad. I’m not sure. I know of a few fellow soldiers who have had this same letter. I just hoped I would never get one.”

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