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January 2018 Book Wrap-Up

January Wrap-up

Hello readers! Today I bring you my Book Wrap-up for January 2018!

I have given myself a goal of 75 books to read for 2018 (via my Goodreads challenge). Last year I tried for 100, but I sadly didn’t make it. So for this year, I made it more attainable for myself. Who knows, maybe I will go above and beyond 75. We shall see… 😉

As for January 2018, I read/reviewed 6 books, which I am kind of bummed out about. That’s it? Yikes. I need to step it up!

Shatter (Glitter Book 2) by Aprilynne Pike

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Shatter follows up the incredible first book in this two book collection, Glitter. Though it doesn’t look like there will be a book three, I am wishing with all my might there will be. These books ROCK! This story blends present times and the 18th-Century, set with the corsets and big wigs! Our main character is Queen and living in the Palace of Versailles, but she is doing everything she can to get out. This book is packed with murder, jewels, backstabbing, and romance. I LOVE these books. ❤

The Healer by C.J. Anaya

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The Healer is the first in this series and it gets kicked off fairly well. I have read books two and three already (look for my upcoming reviews) and am currently on book four. I thought this was a great intro to what this series is really about, and I am still happily lost in the world this author created. Hope has the ability to heal people, but she keeps it a secret. But when two mysterious boys show up at her school who know of what she can do, her world drastically changes. We eventually learn that Hope is involved in a prophecy and that these two males are Gods. Let me tell you guys, swoon-worthy.

Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking

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This sadly wasn’t a big thriller for me. I am a HUGE fan of Amanda Hocking and will read just about anything she writes. So when I saw this on Netgalley, I NATURALLY did an instant request. Between the Blade and the Heart is basically about a Valkyrie’s and their purpose to send immortals back to the underworld. I wasn’t overly impressed with the result, and I probably won’t continue to read the series. Amanda usually blows me away with her fantasy stories, but this one didn’t. 😦

A Quiet Kind of thunder by Sara Barnard

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THIS is such a sweet story guys, definitely the first heartwarming read of 2018. A Quiet Kind of Thunder follows Steffi, a selective mute, and Rhys, a new student to Steffi’s school who is deaf. The story gives the reader a glimpse into the relationship that forms between these two characters, and the struggles they have in a world where most people can speak or hear one another. These two go through a lot together, and it was a truly endearing book to read. It was something different than what I had ever read, and I really enjoyed it.

Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel

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AH! THIS!

I mean…what can I NOT say about this book? It is probably one of the most important pieces I have read in my life. No joke. It is a collection of five short stories, and each story spins a tale of a different kind of manipulative person. It ranges from manipulation of others for greed to manipulation for innocent attention. One story in particular really resonated with me; a story about a young man manipulating a young girl into thinking he loved her, but he was just using her. YANKS on my heartstrings.

This book, I strongly and seriously urge every one of you to purchase. You NEED to read this. Your family needs to read this, your friends need to read this, your children…NEED to read this.

Forlorn by Gina Detwiler

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Forlorn….eh. I couldn’t even finish the book, and I kind of wish I had just so I could have given a full review. This story is about angels and demons, so naturally i thought I would love it. However, I did not. There were too many holes, undeveloped characters, and a load of cheesiness going on. I couldn’t handle it. Not my cup of tea.

 

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Book Review: Forlorn by Gina Detwiler

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Amazon.com – Forlorn by Gina Detwiler

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Bookdepository.com – Forlorn by Gina Detwiler

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: 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: Sowing (The Purification Era Book 1) by Angie Grigaliunas

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Amazon.com – Sowing (The Purification Era) (Volume 1) by Angie Grigaliunas


Barnesandnoble.com – Sowing (The Purification Era) (Volume 1) by Angie Grigaliunas

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

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Science-Fiction

Plot: For Ariliah, life under the militarized Hulcondans is one of order and safety. Despite the soldiers’ ruthless policies, she trusts their judgment. Beyond the city wall, enemies lurk – a vicious race bent on devouring humanity. And if anything ever happened to the protectors, nothing would keep them out.

For her older sister, Rabreah, every glance from a Hulcondan is a threat. When even a whisper against them is treason and treason is death, Rabreah can’t risk one seeing through her as she sees through them. Joining an underground resistance to end their corruption seems like her only hope – until she meets the group’s enigmatic leader and realizes she doesn’t know the people she’s aligned herself with at all.

But when rebellious posters appear throughout the city and people start dying, their world begins to crumble.

And as the line between friend and enemy blurs, both girls must face the truth: everything is about to change.

Opinion:

The nerd in me is losing its s**t right now.

I don’t think you guys understand the painstaking dilemma that is like a raging tsunami building up inside me right now. How am I supposed to go on after this?! There is supposed to be EIGHT books in this series, and I don’t even know if I can wait for book TWO! I’M GOING TO LOSE IT!

I don’t think I can go on…*sigh*.

The Itzalin are a race of creatures hell-bent on destroying humans, but for years they have been kept at bay by the Hulcondans. Though Rabreah knows that her city would be destroyed with the Hulcondans, she finds disgust in watching the soldiers do whatever they please. She has witnessed them spread lies about women in order to ruin their name, and has herself been the victim of it. To Rabreah, the Hulcondans are a corrupt group that need to be taken down. But disobeying or speaking ill of them can lead to one’s death, so Rabreah must be careful. Not only does Rabreah seek freedom for herself and the young girls that are forced to marry these soldiers, but for her younger sister, Ariliah, who suffers daily abuse from their mother. But in Ariliah’s eyes, the Hulcondans keep them safe and deserve respect for what they do. As rebel posters begin being posted around the city and terrorists are brought forward, neither girl knows if they are safe anymore.

I started out 2017 with the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, which I know, was probably the stupidest idea ever. I mean the series is UH-mazing. Everything else just…only slightly had the ability to trickle awe and intrigue down my throat and into my pit of happiness and sheer excitement which I assume is somewhere…in my…body? I don’t know. Anyways. What I’m trying to spew out of my mumbling fingers onto this keyboard is this: We’re on some next level stuff right here ladies and gents.

Angie Grigaliunas has just ruined my life. Did I sleep last night? No. Can I think about anything else besides Sorek, Ariliah, Rabreah, and Lord Masrekah? Um…no. I’m at work right now guys, I’M NOT EVEN WORKING! I think I need rehab. Or maybe an insane asylum, since my life is now revolving around a fictional world and people that aren’t there. Sowing was SO GREAT! Incredible, amazing, and actually different! I read through this book like my life depended on it, and I need to read MORE. I can’t find ONE bad thing to say about this story, not one. The writing is detailed and even-paced, the characters are wonderfully developed and all possess a different quirk, and the plot is OUT OF THIS WORLD.

This author has done a wonderful job of tearing my opinion into two different directions. This story flips back and forth between Rabreah and Ariliah, who prove to be VERY different people. Rabreah has SERIOUS trust issues around the Hulcondans, or even men for that matter. If you look at this girl wrong, she’s like a wild shark on land that just got a whiff of blood. Needless to say, the girl has NO problem taking care of herself. Ariliah starts out being very different. She obeys her superiors, keeps her head down, and doesn’t speak very much to anyone except her sister. She views the Hulcondans as her saviors and people she can trust, and is fascinated with the idea of one day marrying one. As Rabreah makes her way into joining the rebel group, it is unknown to Ariliah. I am really starting to wonder how Ariliah will take that news…and which side she will choose. Especially since a certain Hulcondan soldier is showing interest in her. I am torn between the opinion that both of these characters have. Some of the Hulcondan are seriously messed up people, but some seem to be genuine and actually care.

We have to talk about Sorek. Ladies…you can let go of those fictional boyfriends of yours from other books now. They do NOT compare to the arrogance and complete pain in the ass that is Sorek. I mean, this guy has it all. He’s a complete badass when it comes to being a warrior, and he puts the sarcasm level through the roof. Even I was thinking to myself “Geez man, tone it down”. Sorek becomes a big part in this story, and I don’t want to give his role away and spoil it for you guys. There is OBVIOUSLY going to be a hot little romance between Sorek and Rabreah, once Rabreah stops thinking every man wants to abuse her. Our little Ariliah also begins to find herself in the flirting midst with a Hulcondan, and I am praying that his ends well for her. I am SO glad that Angie Grigaliunas didn’t do that typical author thing when it comes to romances. Oh you know what I mean guys. Waiting until book 2 or 3 to let the reader see even smidge of love in the air. Ugh…how I loathe that.

Of course the reader is left with an amazingly RUTHLESS cliffhanger at the end of book one, and why not? I mean this author already stabbed my soul with bliss, why not drag the knife in a little deeper? Right? Right. But you know what is really interesting about this story? The author has decided to focus more on the plot and characters, and less on the overall setting. I know that sounds a little insane considering this falls into the Fantasy genre, but somehow…this author has made it WORK.  I honestly don’t think I can tell you much about the city and the exact point in time we are looking at here, but it is all a little guess work. I like the fact that she doesn’t start explaining simple things like this until WAY later in the story, which is something I have never come across before.

Basically guys, you need to get this book. Seriously. GO BUY THIS RIGHT NOW. If you loved Throne of Glass, then this is EXACTLY the next series that you need to get addicted to. Though I don’t know how I will, I will somehow find a way to patiently wait until the next books are released. This series is going to be EPIC, and I am so happy to have found it so early on. Mark my words guys, The Purification Era books are going to BLOW UP. You better be on the train when it does.

5-stars

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Book Review: Unborn (The Birthright Theft Series Book 1) by Daniel Gage

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~ Buy through the links below ~

Amazon.com – Unborn (The Birthright Theft Series Book 1) by Daniel Gage

Goodreads.com – Unborn by Daniel Gage

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

Genre: Science-Fiction/Mystery/Suspense/Adult/YA

Plot:

“It’s nothing personal. You’re just part of the transaction.”

Cameron Briggs always wondered what the strange birthmark on his shoulder meant. For his entire life, it seemed he was never meant to be anything special, that is, until the day it happened. Something dormant inside of him awoke.

In the near future, birthright theft is on the rise, a vast network of dealers offering desperate buyers the chance to steal a more desirable next life. Their power and influence is absolute, with little standing in their way. However, unexpected anomalies in the process endow unique abilities to their victims who, once identified, are offered one chance – to save our world or destroy it, one Unborn child at a time.

With the truth shrouded in conspiracy, Emma Jennings, a troubled but strong-minded young agent with a defiant reputation, is determined to prove these crimes exist. But in order to accomplish her goal, she’ll need to find the one victim who can turn the tide of her war.

Opinion: OoOoOo yeah Sci-fi/Mystery lovers, I got a good one for you today! I have been waiting for a good book to get me out of my slump of multiple bad reviews, and here we are. This book has a “repo-man” feel to it, which was probably what got me so hooked on it. Imagine the chance to be able to switch your life for a better one; to start all over again, with the knowledge and experiences you have still being intact. Welcome to The Birthright Theft Series.

Birthright theft, the chance to turn your life of struggling and misery into something more. A chance to be born again to the child of a wealthy family, or perhaps even royalty, with every though and memory intact. The price? Just a small favor for the Dealers.

Emma Jennings has been working herself to the bone trying to catch Dealer X and his gang of birthright theft dealers, while also trying to prove that stealing one’s birthright is actually real. Countless showdowns and close calls in capturing Dealer X proves not enough, and Emma finds herself at risk of having her investigation shut down.  But then Emma finds herself a convict by the name of Cameron Briggs, who is also happens to be an unborn: a victim of birthright theft. Not only is Emma able to enlist the help of Cameron, but he proves to have an extraordinary ability that puts him on the same playing field as the dealers. Together Emma and Cameron work to take down Dealer X, all the while trying to save the birthright of a prominent royal family.

The idea for this story was ABSOLUTELY KILLER. I mean come on, being able to steal someone’s birthright with the memories of your other life still there? It’s like Repo-Man had a child with reincarnation, and out popped an epic series. As if that isn’t amazing enough, author Daniel Gage takes it farther by detailing what happens to the victims of having their birthright stolen. I assumed they would just be dead, right?. But NO! The victim, which they call an Unborn, is born an alternate life where literally EVERYTHING goes wrong for them. The two lives stay connected throughout their lifetimes, and as the Unborn experiences unfortunate events, the thief experiences wealth and riches. Honestly, the entire concept is extremely interesting. Though this might sound like a complicated concept for a story, the author is fantastic at making it easy for the reader to understand. I had no trouble keeping up, and the fluidity that this author has in their writing keeps the reader addicted and interested.

Let’s touch on characters Emma and Cameron. Emma is a tough, savvy, and career-oriented woman. She has a fierceness about her that I love, and her character never backs down from a fight. Emma’s life has been centering on catching Dealer X and his crew for some time now, and she keeps reaching dead ends. I liked that her character faced a TON of setbacks throughout this book, but she always pushed herself through it in order to complete what she started. Cameron has quite the opposite past, in comparison to Emma. He is a convict and is no stranger to setbacks and struggling in life. Cameron is also an Unborn, the victim of birthright theft. Though Cameron doesn’t know this until much later in the book, he begins to notice some changes in himself that he can’t explain. I really liked the character of Cameron, mostly because he had a good heart but was still a tough and rugged person. I think these characters work great together and show off two very different sets of people, and their chemistry is perfection.

For those of you who are looking for a hot little romance to go along with this creative story, you’re s**t out of luck. I kept thinking a steamy connection would be happening between our main characters, but NOPE. Honestly, it isn’t even needed. I have a hunch that these two will get together later in the series, but I am actually relieved that it didn’t happen in book 1. A romance would have just taken away from the main idea of this story, and that would have been a serious bummer. This book is amazing just how it is, so I wouldn’t change that for anything. One thing that I am on the fence about is how straightforward the writing is. What I mean is that the author gets straight to the point with everything, there isn’t an excess of fluff in sentences in paragraphs…which is great. But on the other hand, this would also be a great series to really pack the detail in. I think little bit more description and detail into some of the events would have only strengthened this story.

Though sci-fi based books have never been my main genre, I am loving that I am able to find some truly great ones. I just can’t get over how mind-blowing the idea for this story was, I’m addicted to it! I think the target audience for this series is probably adults, but I think a lot of young adult readers could really get into it. FINALLY a book I can write positively about! Great job Daniel Gage, you have gotten me out of my reading depression.

4-stars

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Book Review: A Face Like Glass by Francis Hardinge

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Amazon.com – A Face Like Glass by Francis Hardinge

Goodreads.com – A Face Like Glass by Francis Hardinge

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Barnesandnoble.com – A Face Like Glass by Francis Hardinge

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: Deny the Father by M. Duda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5-stars

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