Book Reviews · Books · Netgalley · Reviews

Book Review: Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles (Book 1) by J.M. Sullivan

Alice

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

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

Plot: “Always protect your queen.”

Ever since the outbreak of the Plague, life hasn’t been easy, and for seventeen-year-old Alice Carroll, it just got worse. Her sister, Dinah, has contracted the ‘un-deadly’ Momerath Virus and without a cure, will soon be worse than dead. She’ll be momerath.

Alice must leave the safety of the Sector and venture into Momerath Territory to find the antidote – if it exists. Chasing a rumor about a mysterious doctor with the cure, Alice falls down the rabbit hole into Wanderland, where ravenous momerath aren’t the only danger lurking.

Opinion:

How doth the little crocodile improve his shining tail…?

Apparently with a bleakness as black as night, and a book review that just says:

Fail.

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Look. The first book in Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles isn’t necessarily bad…it’s just …not great.  I found it boring, dull, overly dramatic and cheesy, and felt that I had already seen/read this same plot about thirty other times. With that ridiculous zombie movement that hit Hollywood and every book shelf a few years ago, it’s hard not to feel like you have read EVERY single zombie story out there. But when I saw this, I had to request it from Netgalley because I LOVE an Alice retelling.

I’ve read the twisted versions, and I’ve read the sweeter versions. I had even read another Alice/zombie version years ago, Alice in Zombieland, and absolutely loved it. So naturally, I assumed this was going to be another series to add to my love of Alice in Wonderland retellings.

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I found Alice to be…okay. Her character felt simple and not fully developed, almost like the author was just riding the coattails of the Alice that we already know and love and assuming they wouldn’t have to put much effort into giving her a full-blown personality makeover. I found that I enjoyed how much she talked to herself, which reminds me greatly of the original character, because it gave another instance for the reader to find out what was happening instead of us just “sitting in her head” and “watching” through her eyes. But the constant moments of her jaw dropping when the moment BARELY called for a jaw drop, or her saying things like “awesome” and “how interesting” without being given a chance to see WHY those things were “awesome” or “interesting” was just…EXHAUSTING.

As I continued to read, it seemed that none of the characters really had much substance or excitement spewing from their made-up pores. Chess was a slightly interesting character, with a creative name, and I liked that his character was left shrouded in mystery for a good length of the story. In my opinion, he was probably the most interesting of all the characters just because it seems like he had the most thought put into him by way of snarky comments and pet-names for Alice. There IS a love triangle in this story that involves Alice, so if you’re ALSO starting to tire from these shapes, then beware. It’s a romance crammed into just a few days, so enjoy if that’s your sort of thing.

My grumblings and negativity aside, there were some positives in this story. You’ll notice while reading there are random bold letters in different words and paragraphs. If you want to take the time, like you KNOW I did, then it will spell out a little message. I found it a cute little touch for this story, and a little treat for the reader if they caught on…even if it didn’t spell out a clue to the story, I still found it intriguing. Another positive was the action and fight scenes that were spilling from the pages. There was a LOT of exciting moments for Alice to show off her skills, even though I’m still wondering how she learned all those deadly and murderous moves.

OH, SHE JUST KNEW HOW?!

For sure. I get it.

Anyways…I was hoping this story was going to blow me out of the water. Instead, it just blew up an inflatable water toy for me and I floated around a pond for a while. It wasn’t horrible, but it didn’t keep my attention or really grab me in at any time. I had little invested in the well-being of these characters by the end of the story and even went as far as skimming most of the last half of the book just to end it. Hopefully the next Alice story I read, which is waiting patiently on my Netgalley shelf, will be a little better.

2-stars

 

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Netgalley · New Releases · Reviews

Book Review: A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

A Danger to Herself and Others

 

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

Genre: YA/Teen, Fiction, Contemporary, Mental Health, Suspense

Plot: Only when she’s locked away does the truth begin to escape…

Four walls. One window. No way to escape. Hannah knows there’s been a mistake. She didn’t need to be institutionalized. What happened to her roommate at her summer program was an accident. As soon as the doctors and judge figure out that she isn’t a danger to herself or others, she can go home to start her senior year. In the meantime, she is going to use her persuasive skills to get the staff on her side.

Then Lucy arrives. Lucy has her own baggage. And she may be the only person who can get Hannah to confront the dangerous games and secrets that landed her in confinement in the first place.

Opinion:

My heart just cracked wide open.

This book is beauty and sorrow.

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Hannah has just been institutionalized for something she didn’t do. Soon they will realize that this is all a mistake, that she’s innocent, and they will let her go home, right? After all, Agnes was her best friend. She would never do anything to hurt her. Well, not intentionally anyway. It’s all just a big misunderstanding. Hannah is a straight-A student after all. She might even know more than the people that work in this institution, but she has to be smart. If she wants to get out, she must follow along with their tests and show them just how sane she is. They will see the truth when Agnes wakes up. It was all just an accident…wasn’t it?

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A Danger to Herself and Others is everything, and nothing, I expected it to be.

Hannah is the most fascinating character I have come across in SO long, and it’s precisely because of the multitude of layers and substance that she possesses. As soon as you think you have this girl pegged, you will be told to keep listening. As soon as you think if she is innocent or guilty, you will be told to be quiet and to sit back down. As soon as you think the last sentence of each chapter is a tell-all for what the point of this story is…well. You’d just be wrong.

I love nothing more than a blindside, and A Danger to Herself and Others is just that.

Hannah is every single opinion and idea I had for her while reading, and that is EXACTLY how she was designed to be. I found her to be slightly arrogant and a know-it-all, but also humbled for the extravagant life she had led before the institution. She is focused and sharp, but is easily pulled into her thoughts and fantasies. In one instance she comes across as incredibly rational and straightforward, but in the next she is breaking apart and analyzing things in a highly erratic way and repeating phrases over and over in her head. Every time she would say or do something, my opinion of her innocence and person would change. She’s innocent and sane, she’s guilty and insane. Back and forth, back and forth.

But what I can say is true for Hannah, is that she is BOTH of EVERY side.

She is sane and insane.

Rational and irrational.

Content and irate.

Morbid and Neutral.

Happy and Miserable.

Lonely and comforted.

She is all these things and none of them. And as soon as you figure that out, you start to wonder just how different and not so different you are from her.

Because Hannah is every single one of us, and none of us at once.

She is the victim, and she is the villain.

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The author, Alyssa Sheinmel, has a gift for entwining suspense into this story and making me question every single aspect of it. She would beautifully make a statement from Hannah or Dr. Lightfoot that sounded factual, whilst turning it with a flick of her wrist so you questioned every single sentence thereafter. I couldn’t help but dissect EVERYTHING that was said, because I was completely caught up in finding out the truth as quickly as possible. I kept comparing myself to her, thinking about what I would do or say in her situation, and then usually coming to the conclusion that she’s being framed or she deserves to be there. I didn’t actually believe the outcome until the book finished.

Making a reader continually question a book until the end takes SERIOUS talent.

As I read through my notes on this book, I am noticing every single instance where my opinion is thrown around, and every time I question something I thought I knew was true. But as I move down my notes of wishy-washy-ness, it comes to a sudden halt at the bottom when I realize that this isn’t the mystery/suspense story I thought it was. Because suddenly my notes change from accusing Hannah of WHAT and WHO she IS, to only this:

I think this just broke me.

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Hannah at the end of A Danger to Herself and Others is…heartbreaking. I kept saying “oh honey..” out loud and wanting nothing more than to reach into the pages and hold her. I think it can be quite easy for an author to make a reader love and care for a character. But to make the reader feel empathy, loneliness and sorrow when the character feels those things?

That’s just magical.

At the beginning of this read the publisher has a letter to the reader, in which they state how they only strive to publish books that change lives. I can confidently say this book has shifted my thoughts and being into one with much more compassion and love. This story isn’t just a work of fiction, it’s a message and an alarm clock to wake you up.

Read this.

 

And to Sourcebooks Fire I say this:

You succeeded in your goal.

 

5-stars

 

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Blog Tour · Book Promo · Books · Cover Reveal · Pre-order · Reviews · The Parliament House Press

Cover Reveal: Soul Seeker: Hell at Halfingdon Asylum (Book 9) by Alice J. Black

Hell at Halfington Asylum Cover Reveal

Publisher: The Parliament House

(@theparliamentpress)

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Book Title: Hell at Hafingdon Asylum

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Series: Book 9 in the Soul Seekers series

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Author: Alice J. Black

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Genre: Novella/Paranormal/Horror/YA

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Book Synopsis

Peyton is asked to work on her hardest case for Soul Seekers yet as she’s called to Halfingdon Asylum to clear it of spirit energy before it’s converted into an office building. She has her reservations from the start but keeps them from Jake, her partner, as the investigation is underway.

However, the asylum isn’t going to give up easily, and Peyton will not only need to save herself from the darkness that seems hell bent on keeping her locked inside but figure a way out of the building before it’s too late…

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Social Media Tags:

(@alicejblack) (@theparliamentpress)

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Netgalley · New Releases · Reviews

Book Review: Enchantée by Gita Trelease

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

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Historical Fiction

Plot: Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries—and magicians…

When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naive sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic—la magie ordinaire—Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

With dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. There, she gambles at cards, desperate to have enough to keep herself and her sister safe. Yet the longer she stays at court, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile her resentment of the nobles with the enchantments of Versailles. And when she returns to Paris, Camille meets a handsome young balloonist—who dares her to hope that love and liberty may both be possible.

But la magie has its costs. And when Camille loses control of her secrets, the game she’s playing turns deadly. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, freedom or magic—before Paris burns…

Opinion:

There once was a young French girl and her little sister,

Who were poor beyond belief due to their gambling brother.

The death of their parents turned their life quite tragic,

That’s why the eldest sister Camille turned to gambling and magic.

A dress that requires blood to enchant and disguise,

Was all that she’d need to sneak into Versailles.

But little was said about the toll on the soul that trickery would take,

Or the consequences that come from a life lived fake.

Livres, love, ball gowns and hats,

Hot air balloons so high, that one tip and you’ll splat.

Versailles may be enchanting, with a Queen like Marie 

But nothing in Versailles is black and white, and nothing is free. 

Hold on to your wigs, there’s a new Versailles tale in town!

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My dear Vicomtes and Vicomtesses, Enchantée is EVERYTHING and MORE that you could EVER ask for in a historical fiction set in late 1700 Versailles!

It is extravagant, it is DANGEROUS, and it is exactly what you would expect a palace of courtiers to be like.

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JEALOUSY is CLAWING at my insides, my brain is working mercilessly to assure me that I will never be able to step into this beautiful world, and it is taking EVERY bit of self-control to not throw myself on the ground and weep.

Weep because I will never experience the abhorrent glory that was Versailles in 1789.

OR a Versailles with magic and trickery.

Enchantée was all the things I hoped for when I read its description: cinched waists, expensive dresses, powdered faces, dapper men with MANNERS galore, magic….and cake. But that’s a given. I think we can ALL agree that any and ALL Versailles retellings are welcome to us book lovers, especially when a Fantasy aspect is thrown into the mix.

You had me at aristocrat and la magie.

Though the beauty of Versailles may pull you in to reading this book, or even the cameo of Marie Antoinette, I can assure my lovelies…you will stay for the characters, plot and writing. Gita Trelease has outdone herself! This book is elegant and suave, delectable and enticing. I was swept away in the world that she presents on a golden platter smattered in frosting and wine, and I am horribly STRICKEN that it is over. The author has fused fact with fiction and given readers a story that is both historical, while also fantastical in that it is filled with magic. She included events leading up to the French Revolution, the prices in bread increasing and the eventual riots, while also capturing the voices of the rich and the poor beautifully. These courtiers are the typical snooty aristocrats that you know and love, so enjoy.

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Camille is the main character of this story, and her story is quite a sorrowful one at that. Her parents had both died from small pox, her brother is a drunk and gambling addict who cannot control himself, and she must work la magie to provide food for her and her youngest sister. Once things turn worse for Camille’s brother, she is forced to work la magie on a higher scale. She infiltrates the Palace of Versailles posing as a Baroness, in hopes of earning money through gambling by changing cards with her magic. She is quickly swept up in the allure of the courtiers and the palace, and who could blame her?! There are masquerade balls, endless parties and games in the gardens, and cakes and wines all around! Courtiers strewn every which way, running wild with little to no rules to hinder their wants and needs.

 

Though a wonderfully created world, the truly amazing aspect of this story is the writing. The author has combined French words and phrases with this English version, and it made it THAT much more real and authentic. The reader will feel like they are in Paris in the late 1700’s, walking the streets with Camille or dining with her in Versailles! The creative writing was fantastic, and the setting was described impeccably. The characters were given such vast and comical personalities, while also proving to be well-versed in the etiquette and “ways” of the time period.

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Don’t worry darlings, there is INDEED a romance to be had. It is a truly touching and gentle romance at that, and one that I wish I could catch and put into my pocket. It will give you the audible *sigh*, the immense feels, and of course…make you wonder why the hell men aren’t this chivalrous anymore! I thought the author did a wonderful job of keeping the characters true to the era by ensuring proper rules for courting and attire, and even found it to be amusing at the modesty that was displayed back then.

“If he took off his coat, she might expire”

I wish I could say more! With all of that said, I think it’s obvious that I LOVED Enchantée to the gold-encrusted moon and back! It was an incredibly fun and creative read, and I only wish this was a series and not a stand-alone! I suppose I will just be here waiting and hoping that Gita Trelease will write another story that can compare and compete with this. Because I feel as I do at the end of every beautiful party, sorrowful and nostalgic.

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5-stars

 

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Binding of Bindings · Books · New Releases · Reviews · TBR · Wrap-Up

Binding of Bindings: January Book Wrap-Up

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Come little children, I’ll take thee away

Into a land of enchantment

Come little children, the times come to play

Here in my garden of magic.

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January Wrap-up

Let’s just DIVE right in!

 

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, Book 1) by Holly Black

the cruel prince

If you haven’t started this series yet….

well I just don’t even know what to say to you.

The Cruel Prince is the opposite of everything you thought you knew about the Fae. They aren’t dainty creatures that act like little cherubs, they don’t want to shower you in luck and magic, and they sure as s**t DO NOT love humans.

These faeries are RUTHLESS and CUNNING tricksters.

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The Cruel Prince is about a human girl named Jude, her twin, and their half-Fae sister who find themselves living in Faerie. Jude is tortured and ridiculed on a daily basis, but finds that she has grown to love the world of Faerie. It is a FANTASTIC story and a WONDERFUL introduction to this series.

(See my review here)

 

The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, Book 2) by Holly Black

the wicked king

…there’s not much to say here.

Except, you know…

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This book evoked only the BEST and ANGRIEST gifs I had.

This book might kill you.

You may see darkness, a brief flash of all your best moments in  life, and a light at the end of a VERY SMALL and VERY NARROW tunnel.

But don’t worry. Because you won’t be reaching the light.

It’s all SWEET, LINGERING, WOEFUL DARKNESS from here my friends.

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(See my review here)

 

Immortal Girl5 by Griffin Stark

Immortal Girls

Not the best of my January reads, but a decent one at that.

Or a decent attempt at least.

Immortal Girl5 is about five (duh) girls throughout history that are turned immortal to protect the world…I mean, I think that’s what their purpose is? They basically show up in well-known parts of history, like to defeat Jack the ripper or to assist Anne Frank and Joan or Arc. It is an interesting concept, but just wasn’t executed well.

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However, I think it would be a great starter book from a child or young teen though.

(See my review here)

 

Evenfall (Shadowfire, Book 1) by Gaja J. Kos and Boris Kos

Evenfall

If the cover doesn’t make you fall in love, I don’t know what will.

Evenfall is about a girl who wake in a world that isn’t hers. One where magic flows and is used by men AND women, and one where she is hunted. Ember is the savior of this world and the others, and the Crescent Prince is hunting her down to use her powers for his bidding. Supposedly 😉

Look. This book was WRITTEN BEAUTIFULLY and the world that was created was BREATHTAKING. The only issue is the pacing, and the insta-love. The beginning starts out a little slow and boring, but then halfway through it is RACING to the finish line.

There IS an insta-romance, so if this annoys you to no end, I won’t blame you.

BUT. If you can get past these little things, the book really is an intriguing and interesting read. It’s a magical YA Fantasy that has legs to become truly fantastic.

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(See my review here)

 

The Giver, Graphic Novel by Lois Lowry and P. Craig Russell

the giver

THIS.

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THE GRAPHIC NOVEL FOR THE GIVER.

Need I say more?

(See my review here)

 

The Cold is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale

The Cold is in Her Bones

Here we come to The Cold is in Her Bones.

By far the strangest read of January 2019.

It is a retelling of Medusa, mother of us Slytherins! ❤ It is about a young girl who has an affinity for Snakes. Once her family sees this though, they basically say she is possessed by the devil.

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She curses the village and all the women living and to come, that they will have the same affinity to snakes as her. It is a VERY compelling read and has a dark 1800’s folktale vibe to it. You will probably give an audible WTF at least once while reading, but trust me. It’s worth the read.

(See my review here)

 

Dream Keeper (The Dark Dreamer Trilogy, Book 1) by Amber R. Duell

dream keeper

I REALLY tried to like this and I REALLY tried to stay positive about it.

But sometimes, there’s just not a opening for positivity.

This is a Sandman retelling, or spin-off…however you want to look at it. It is about a girl that has been visiting the Sandman in her dreams since she was 12, and is now thrust into the throngs of murder and terror. The Weaver (the Lord of Nightmares) begins terrorizing Nora’s life by killing her family and friends, in order to get a dream that she has.

It had great potential, but was just SO hard to get through. The characters were dull, the pacing was off, prominent characters weren’t mentioned until 75% into the book, and it just had a cheesy feel to it.

I don’t recommend.

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(See my review here)

My January Book Wrap-up leaves me with a total of 7 books read, and honestly, that’s not too bad.

I am currently reading Enchantée by Gita Trelease, which I started in January, but am still reading. I am hoping to have 7 or more books done in February, so fingers crossed!!

Thanks for reading witchlings!

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Book Promo · Books · Cover Reveal · Pre-order · Reviews · The Parliament House Press

Cover Reveal: Hook & Crown by Nicole Knapp

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Publisher: The Parliament House

(@theparliamentpress)

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Book Title: Hook & Crown

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Author: Nicole Knapp

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Book synopsis

Elena Hart arrives in London, bound for a new boarding school operated by her estranged uncle. A fresh start is exactly what she needs. But when strange things begin happening, things she can’t explain, she begins to wonder if she has lost her mind.
Until the night a strange girl appears in her room, claiming to be a fairy from Neverland, come to take her to the fantasy world at the request of its ruler.

Skeptical, Elena refuses. But the following night, a young man with strange green eyes appears, and though she tries to resist his charms, something about him draws her in and Elena is whisked away from the world she knows, to a world she always thought was make believe.

But when she arrives in Neverland, it is nothing like the stories and Elena realizes that she must figure out for herself who the true heroes and villains are.

Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Netgalley · New Releases · Reviews

Book Review: Dream Keeper (The Dark Dreamer Trilogy, Book 10 by Amber R. Duell

dream keeper

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, The Parliament House, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Paranormal/Romance

Plot: The Sandman is seventeen-year-old Nora’s closest friend and best-kept secret. He has to be, if she doesn’t want a one-way ticket back to the psychiatrist. It took her too long to learn not to mention the hooded figure in her dreams to her mother, who still watches Nora as if she’ll crack. So when Nora’s friends start mysteriously dying gruesome deaths in their sleep, she isn’t altogether surprised when the police direct their suspicion at her. The Sandman is the only one she can turn to for answers. But the truth might be more than she bargained for…

For the last five years, the Sandman has spent every night protecting Nora. When he hid the secret to the Nightmare Lord’s escape inside her dreams, he never expected to fall in love with her. Neither did he think his nemesis would find her so quickly, but there’s no mistaking his cruel handiwork. The Nightmare Lord is tired of playing by the rules and will do anything to release his deadly nightmares into the world, even if that means tormenting Nora until she breaks.

When the Nightmare Lord kidnaps Nora’s sister, Nora must enter enemy territory to save her. The Sandman is determined to help, but if Nora isn’t careful, she could lose even more than her family to the darkness.

(Please note: This story contains vivid death scenes.)

Opinion:

When I saw Dream Keeper on Netgalley, I just knew I had to have it.

A retelling of the Sandman, the weaver of nightmares, and a young girl caught up in the middle of it all? Sold. A YA story or romance, fantasy and magic? Sold.

A Lord of Nightmares, and a Lord of Dreams.

A Night World, and a Day World.

It ALL just promised to be SO. AMAZING.

I mean I just…loved it…

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With the description above basically giving away the ENTIRE book, I realize that it would be vastly unnecessary for me to give my own synopsis. So, let’s just jump right in, shall we? I have a feeling this review if going to be short and sweet.

Well…short and sour.

This book had a TON of promise, but really fell flat for me. The reason for that MAY be because it feels like it targets a younger audience, Pre-Teen/Teen, by the characters coming across as childlike and adolescent rather than somewhat mature. The author chose to use phrases like “sorry, not sorry” in one instance, and then words like perturbed and grotesque in the next. Though the writing is VERY descriptive and paints a beautiful picture of the dream and nightmare world, I felt like I was caught in a wind tunnel of conflicting writing styles. At one point it feels eloquent and mature, and the next it is simplistic and feels cheesy. I almost felt like I was reading a soap-opera at times.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a strong connection to Nora and the Sandman, especially when it came to their romance. When the reader starts this book, they are thrust right in the middle of the story. There isn’t much of a premise, so it eventually “backpedals” you through past events to catch you up. Sometimes this works in stories, but in this case, it was just confusing. Due to the quick start, and even quicker romance, it doesn’t give the reader adequate time to connect to Nora and the Sandman. The Sandman ended up sounding like a brooding teenager even though he’s supposed to be decades old, and Nora didn’t seem to have much of an emotional response to the murders around her…which is strange. Shouldn’t she be freaking the f**k out? I would be! So instead of exciting and fresh, these characters came off as quite dull and unimpressive.

The flow of the writing and the structure of this story also left me a little unsettled. With the beginning starting from nowhere and being rushed, it made me think that this series was going to be PACKED with exciting moments. I mean, it would have to be for this to be a trilogy and start that way, right?! Well, yes and no. I wasn’t bored while reading, but I DID feel like there wasn’t a lot of meaningful and necessary moments happening. Things felt a little out of order, or rushed in spots and slow in others. My editing brain kept wanting to rearrange different paragraphs and sentences, so it was a bit hard to get through.

Another confusing aspect was that a bunch of REALLY important characters didn’t come into this story until the end. By the time I got to these new characters, I was already checked-out of the story and skimming the lines. Maybe if they were introduced earlier, it would have kept my attention and interest more. I thought the character of Baku was very creative, so I wish he would have had a bigger role and made a stronger connection with Nora or the Sandman. It could have been a memorable and amusing duo for the reader to get hooked on.

This really came off more negative than I was anticipating, which is unfortunate. This story had a lot of great ideas and moments, but I think some final editing could have really improved it. Though I am slightly curious to see if the writing and characters improve in book two, I probably won’t be picking up the next copy. With the characters and flow of writing falling short, Dream Keeper turned out to be a real dud for me. This is of course, is just my opinion. A lot of other readers really enjoyed this story, so don’t use my words as law. Even though you could. 😉

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2-5-stars

 

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