Friday, March 31, 2017

#Saturday Review - A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokski #YA #Fantasy @NotRashKnee @StMartinsPress ‏

Series: The Star-Touched Queen # 2
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.
Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.
Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

A Crown of Wishes is the second installment in author Roshani Chokski's The Star-Touched Queen series. The story is actually being sold as a companion novel to The Star-Touched Queen. Let's call it the sequel. This is story features two entirely different characters from Maya and Amar. This time out readers are introduced to Vikram, the Fox Prince, and Gauri, Princess and Jewel of Bharata who just happens to be Maya's younger sister. In the beginning of this story, Vikram receives an invitation from the Lord of Wealth & Treasures to participate in The Tournament of Wishes 

It is a game that will happen when the century comes to a close. The winner of the game will be granted a wish of their hearts desire. But, there is a catch. Vikram is expected to show up with a second person. "Find the one who grows with blood on the lips and fangs in the heart." That person is Gauri who has spent the past 6 months in a dungeon after being betrayed and sent away by her brother to die. The second catch is that they have only a few days to get there before the gates close and that means entering the Crossroads and the Night Bizarre where Maya also traveled to in the previous installment. 

As with the first installment, A Crown of Wishes is once again steeped with Indian mythology. By Indian, I mean originating from India just so we are clear. To be perfectly honest, I had my smart phone by my side the entire time I was reading this book so that when terms popped up that I had no clue what they meant, I googled them. There are a whole lot of Indian driven names for almost everything including gods of the Wind, Waters, Fire, and Chaos. In a way, this book is very similar to another I have recently read, Caraval. 

Gauri and Vikram couldn't be any more different. Gauri is fearless as they come, and battle hardened, and yes, perhaps a bit blood thirsty for revenge on those who betrayed her. Gauri has fought for her country only to see her brother become more and more evil to the point where she had no future. So, given the chance for revenge, she joins Vikram in his journey to the land of treasures. Vikram is a prince who has had to prove himself over and over again. He is a dreamer which makes his life a bit more intriguing than just showing up at boring council members only to be completely ignored. 

He is supposed to be the heir to his kingdom, but there are those who would force him to do their bidding. Gauri would risk life and limb to get her kingdom back, and take her rightful place as Queen. While Gauri and Vikram are the "main" characters of this story. There is a third. Her name is Aasha and I have to say that I really loved her view of the world she has been living in for the past 100 years. I loved her connection and her choices she made in helping Gauri and Vikram. She even has her own goals, and desires, and when given the opportunity to participate in her own game, she does her best. 

This is a story filled with twists, riddles, gamesmanship, life or death challenges, and yes, of course, romance. The romance in this case is one that is slow burn, and not quick to the trigger. We also get a brief appearance by Maya. Just a enough to whet your whistle, but not enough to over take Gauri's choices. Chokski is a clever writer. Her pacing is pretty steady and isn't filled with nonsensical silliness that can overwhelm a story. Chokski creates intriguing characters, and badass heroines. She writes about a world that is magical at its foundation, and dark and deadly at the same time. 

Favorite Lines/Quote(s):

“Vicious and sweet,” said Vikram, shaking his head. “Beastly girl.”
“You like me, don’t lie,” I teased.

“I couldn’t lie if I tried,” he said quietly.”  

“Vikram’s eyes widened. “What’s this? Praise from Her Beastliness in the morning? Are you under a curse that makes you friendly before noon? If so, how do we make it permanent?” 

“Love is like Death without the guarantee of its arrival. Love may not come for you, but when it does it will be just as swift and ruthless as Death and just as blind to your protestations. And just as Death will end one life and leave you with another, so will Love.” 

#Friday Review - Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens #Contemporary, #Mystery

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Release Date: March 14, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Source: Publisher
Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash escaped into the night with her young daughter and left an abusive relationship. Her ex-husband was sent to jail and she started over with a new life. Now, Lindsey is older and wiser, with a teenage daughter who needs her more than ever. When her ex-husband is finally released, Lindsey believes she’s cut all ties. But she gets the sense that someone is watching her. Her new boyfriend is threatened. Her home is invaded, and her daughter is shadowed. Lindsey is convinced it’s her ex-husband, even though he claims he’s a different person. But can he really change? Is the one who wants her dead closer to home than she thought?

Chevy Steven's Never Let You Go is a story that not only spans Eleven years, but also alternates between two characters: Lindsey Nash, and her daughter Sophie. The story weaves its way through Lindsey's life both while in the past while being married to her ex-husband Andrew Nash, to being a single parent who operates a cleaning business trying to provide for her daughter who is a brilliant artist. It is a story of abuse, of sad circumstances, of choices made on the spur of the moment, and of course, twists that will leave you guessing.

Never Let You Go is set wholly in and around the Canadian Northwest. Lindsey is an interesting character who is realistic in many ways. She truly believed in happiness except when that happiness is shattered by jealously, anger, and feelings of inadequacy thanks to her husband who claims to love her unconditionally. Lindsey is a woman who puts all the blame on herself, never her husband until the realization finally dawns on her that this wasn't normal. Lindsey is a character study in why abusive women remain in a relationship
because they feel that if they leave, they will not survive. Women in abusive relationships often feel little, or worthless. Lindsey eventually gets to the point where she has had enough and runs with her daughter only to discover that she may have played a huge role in an unfortunate series of events. 

Never Let You Go is a story that doesn't break any new ground when it comes to attempting to stimulate the reader into staying focused on what the author is trying to weave. It is a story that weaves between Lindsey's past life with Andrew, one that had some warm moments that turned into a nightmare, to the present where she gets the news her husband has been released from prison. What the present shows us is that Lindsey is still terrified of Andrew and will do almost anything to keep him away from her, and Sophie. Then, when strange things start happening where Lindsey works and lives, Lindsey's life once again gets sent into upheaval.

Sophie is a character you have to make up your own mind about whether or not you would have done the same thing in her situation. Would you have tried to reconnect with your father? Would you have met with your father who treated your mother like crap? Imagine growing up not understanding what really happened between your parents. Imagine that you lost your father for years to a bad, no dumb move on his part, and that father returns to hope for a reconnection to his only daughter who he loves unequivocally. A daughter who was told of all the horrible stuff her father did, but still, he's her father. Can one actually forgive Sophie for wanting to connect with her father, and find out if he truly is the monster her mother told her about? 

I've said before, and I'll say it again, I read way too many of these books not to correctly guess who the villain of the story is. In this case, I knew who the villain was at an early stage, and noted that I was going to skip over the rest of the book from Chapter 24 forward. It doesn't mean that this story is bad. It just means that I put the pieces together, saw the evidence before it was actually brought to light. My complaint lies also in the ending. I've also watched too many Lifetime movies, and I've seen this happen over and over and over again. I want unpredictably in my diet. I want to turn the last page of the story and say, well, wasn't that freaking awesome!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

#Thursday Review - Pyromantic by Lish McBride #YAlit #Urban Fantasy @LishMcBride @HenryHolt ‏

Series: Firebug # 2
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Release Date: March 21, 2017
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Source: Publisher
Recommended By: 
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal

Ava is having a rough time. Getting rid of Venus didn’t set her free—she’s still part of the magical mafia called the Coterie. Her new boss seems like an improvement, but who knows if he’ll stay that way—the Coterie life changes people. And since Ava’s currently avoiding her friends after (disastrously) turning down a date with Lock, well, everything kind of sucks. And that’s not even taking into account the feelings she might have for him.
But when a mysterious illness starts to affect magical beings, it’s up to Ava and her team to stop its spread…or else one of them might be next.

Pyromantic is the second installment in author Lish McBride's Firebug series. Having been introduced to series protagonist Ava Halloway in Firebug, I've come to hope for a whole lot of great things from her. After all, how cool is it that she can start fires with her mind? Or, that Firebugs are creatures of flames & heat and are siblings to the Phoenix and the Dragon? How about the fact that she works for an organization called the Coterie, a magical mafia, where she is contracted by blood as an assassin of sorts? One could say that she is an indentured servant until she dies, or finds a way to break the blood bound contract. But, let's continue...

What made Pyromantic different from Firebug is that Venus is no longer around, but Ava's father Cade is. There are so many difference with just saying Cade is around. Ava no longer has to worry about Venus sending her off to kill her father, or friend. She can get used to calling him Dad, and working with him at the new Broken Spines. There's also a new sheriff in town by the name of Alistair. Alistair is an interesting character in that he doesn't treat his employees like dirt and then expect them to dump off the nearest bridge just because he says so. 

No. Alistair is rather progressive in his dealings with the Coterie which include Ezra (were-fox), Lock (dryad), & his second in command Bianca (caulbearer). Not unlike Firebug, Pyromantic is filled with snarky banter, romance, action, and some serious parasitic snails who make things all the more curious since Ava and crew are forced into dealing with creatures like Kelpies in order to save non-humans. There are some minor issues to wade through for Ava, especially when it comes to her relationship with Lock which really needed a sit down and shut up meeting. I loved that Ava's team is put back together again even with Ava & Lock's shenanigans. No worries! Thanks to Sylvie, & Katya, & Olive, Pyromantic doesn't suffer from a sophomoric jinx. Will there be another book? I dare hope so! 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

#Wednesday Review - Insidious by Dawn Metcalf (#YALit, #Fantasy) @dawnmetcalf @HarlequinTEEN

Series: The Twixt
Format: Hardcover, 432 pages
Release Date: August 25, 2015
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

True evil is rarely obvious. It is quiet, patient.  Insidious. Awaiting the perfect moment to strike.
Joy Malone finally knows who she is, where she comes from and how to live in two worlds at once. And now she can introduce her family and friends to her mysterious boyfriend, Indelible Ink. But when Ink's twin sister, Invisible Inq, calls in a favor, Joy must accept a dangerous mission to find a forgotten door between worlds—a door hiding a secret that some will kill to keep. 
Unseen enemies, treasonous magic and an unthinkable betrayal threaten both the Twixt and human worlds as Joy races to expose an ancient conspiracy and unleash the unalterable truth—some secrets cannot remain secret forever.

Insidious is the third installment in author Dawn Metcalf's The Twixt series. Protagonist Joy Malone started this journey into the world of the Twixt 6 months ago after being stabbed in the eye by her paramour Indelible Ink. Why you ask? Because she has the ability to see the folk like him. Since then, Joy has learned a whole lot of things including that she isn't totally human. She may either be a changeling, or a halfling. 

She is able to do things that scares the Twixt to their core, and due to her antics over the past 2 novels, she is now being forced to the forefront of the Twixt world. Joy has been labeled as the most dangerous humans in the world because she has both the sight, has claimed her own signatura, and true name, and can wield power over the Twixt True Names.If you haven't read the first two books recently, you will most likely have issues remembering how Metcalf got to this point. 

In an effort to keep all spoilers from this review, I'll just summarize certain events that happened in the story. Joy owes Invisible Inq a favor, and that favor is being called in. But, before then, Joy, Inq, Ink, and the Cabana boys have to celebrate the passing of of one of their group. If you remember, the Cabana Boys are a group of men, and women, that belong to Inq. Joy is also being groomed by the 6 legged amphibian known as Graus Claude (Bailiwack) to make her appearance in front of the entire Twixt world. The Twixt hope that she falls on her face, and Joy will face enough challenges to keep the reader entertained.

Joy is also starting to notice a few changes happening to her. Changes that will play out in this installment, and the next one as well. Yes, I did already read the next installment. Joy is considered to be the Third Scribe after Ink, and Inq who were created, not born. But, she is able to do things that the other two can't even imagine which has put her directly in the spotlight, and created a whole lot of enemies like Ladybird, Briarhook, Aniseed, and Sol Leander. Joy's best friend Monica wears Sol's signatura on her face to keep her from harm which makes things rather interesting. 

Joy and Ink's relationship has really moved forward to the point where Ink finally gets a chance to meet Joy's father, and his new girlfriend. I think it's kind of cute to see Ink try to become more human in order to not only be with Joy, but be a presence in her life so that her once distracted father knows that she hasn't fallen down the rabbit hole permanently after the year of depression and anger. One of the more curious questions I have had is why hasn't the father said anything about the Twixt world to Joy or her wizard brother Stefan who I still have not warmed up to? Does he really not know, or is it something that has to be dragged out of him? 

Insidious ends on a really curios cliffhanger. It is something that will DEFINITELY carry over into the final novel of the series. This is one of those times where I don't think anyone wants to be Joy. She has so much on her shoulders, and there is so much at stake right now, that it only takes one single match to start a forest fire. But, give the girl a chance. Yes, she has made mistakes. Yes, she is unaware of a whole lot of things, but she is a quick study and I do believe that she will get to the point where readers will give her credit when all is said and done. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

#Tuesday Review - Midnight Blue-Light Special by Seanan McGuire (Urban Fantasy)

Series: InCryptid # 2
Format: Paperback, 338 pages
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Publisher: DAW
Source: Library
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Cryptid, noun:
1. Any creature whose existence has been suggested but not proven scientifically. Term officially coined by cryptozoologist John E. Wall in 1983.2. That thing that's getting ready to eat your head.3. See also: "monster."
The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity--and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she'd rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and when her work with the cryptid community took her to Manhattan, she thought she would finally be free to pursue competition-level dance in earnest. It didn't quite work out that way...
But now, with the snake cult that was killing virgins all over Manhattan finally taken care of, Verity is ready to settle down for some serious ballroom dancing—until her on-again, off-again, semi-boyfriend Dominic De Luca, a member of the monster-hunting Covenant of St. George, informs her that the Covenant is on their way to assess the city's readiness for a cryptid purge. With everything and everyone she loves on the line, there's no way Verity can take that lying down.
Alliances will be tested, allies will be questioned, lives will be lost, and the talking mice in Verity's apartment will immortalize everything as holy writ--assuming there's anyone left standing when all is said and done. It's a midnight blue-light special, and the sale of the day is on betrayal, deceit...and carnage.

Midnight Blue-Light Special is the second installment in author Seanan McGuire's InCryptid series. This story picks up several months after the events of Discount Armageddon. Protagonist Verity Price is back on the scene in Manhattan, protecting the Cryptid community, dancing at Freakshow (formerly Dave's Fish and Strips), while also keeping an eye out on her newest discovery, a male dragon named William. In case you were curious, the characters on the cover of the book are Verity and her cousin Sarah Zellaby. This is a book of choices, and decisions for Verity. 

Verity has been training her whole life to become either a full time cryptozoologist, or a full time dancer. Which is the reason she was allowed to come to NYC in the first place. To see if she can cut it in the world of dancing. She has tried to succeed in both, but the stakes are much, much higher in this story. Especially after finding out from paramour Dominic De Luca that the Covenant is sending representatives to Manhattan to check on his work and decide whether or not they will start a purge of the local Cryptid community which Verity has come very fond of since arriving in NYC. (One of the Covenant members is rather curious if I do say so myself.) 

This is where we finally get a chance to meet the Price family's boogeymen, aka The Covenant of St. George, who believe that the Price-Healy's are traitors to the cause. This is also the story where Dominic has to make a stand as well. Is he loyal to the Covenant after everything that he's seen with Verity, or will he change his stripes and help Verity save the Cryptid's from mass genocide at the hands of the Covenant? What makes this book different from the previous novel is the romance growth between Verity and Dominic. 

This book is quite different from the first installment. Why you ask? Because the author puts Verity into a situation where Sarah has to make the choices. It is Sarah who gets more than her fair share of story time as Verity is fighting for her life against the Covenant. We also get introduced to two members of Verity's extended family with the arrival of Uncle Mike, and Grandmother Angela Baker. One thing that remains the same regardless of what series you are reading, is that McGuire loves mixing humor, with action, and suspense. Oh, in case I forget to mention, yes, the Aeslin Mice are back. Yes, they are cuter than ever, and yes, they must be in my possession asap!

I have, for reasons that I have discussed previously, chosen to skip over the next two books in the series. I chose to jump back into the series with Verity's next book called Chaos Choreography before finally getting a chance to read Antimony's book called Magic for Nothing. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

#Monday Review - 100 Hours by Rachel Vincent (#YA, #Contemporary, #Thriller)

Series: 100 Hours # 1
Format: E-Galley, 368 pages
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: YA, Thriller, Contemporary

In this sexy, pulse-pounding new duology by New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent, a decadent spring break beach getaway becomes a terrifying survival story when six Miami teens are kidnapped.
Maddie is beyond done with her cousin Genesis’s entitled and shallow entourage. Genesis is so over Miami’s predictable social scene with its velvet ropes, petty power plays, and backstabbing boyfriends. 
While Maddie craves family time for spring break, Genesis seeks novelty—like a last-minute getaway to an untouched beach in Colombia. And when Genesis wants something, it happens. 
But paradise has its price. Dragged from their tents under the cover of dark, Genesis, Maddie, and their friends are kidnapped and held for ransom deep inside the jungle—with no diva left behind. It all feels so random to everyone except Genesis. She knows they were targeted for a reason. And that reason is her.
Now, as the hours count down, only one thing’s for certain: If the Miami hostages can’t thwart their captors’ plan, no one will make it out alive.
Tapping into our darkest fears while exploring issues of injustice, loss, and the courage to fight for what matters most, this thrilling read is perfect for fans of Nova Ren Suma, Becca Fitzpatrick, and Jennifer L. Armentrout.

100 Hours is the first installment in author Rachel Vincent's 100 Hours trilogy. This is definitely something new from Vincent who is known for series such as Soul Screamers, Shifters, Menagerie, & Wild Cats100 Hours is Vincent's debut into the contemporary arenaThe story is about a group of Miami teenagers (Maddie, Genesis, Neda, Holden, Ryan, & Penelope) who travel to Columbia for Spring Break and end up being kidnapped by a group of terrorists. Vincent's story alternatives between cousins Maddie and Genesis who is heir to a shipping empire.

One could say that Genesis is a Mafia Princessa, while Maddie is the poor relation who, along with her brother Ryan, end up being dragged to hell and back thanks to an unwarranted and unnecessary diversion from one locale to another. One could, if they choose to, compare this book to Jersey Shore, but set in Columbia where you have to be a complete moron to believe that if you are rich, that people won't try to kidnap you, or use you for ransom. Have you people not heard of (FARC), or (ELN), or the Medellin Cartel? Sorry, got off topic for a moment. 

Genesis has been warned off of visiting Columbia for any reason by her father. So, instead of taking her friends to the Bahamas where they are supposed to go, she ignores all the warnings, and just waddles into a situation that will leave everyone's lives forever changed. Thanks for that Genesis! So, here we are traveling down a road where the friends jump feet first into underage drinking, cheating on each other, drugs, sex with whomever is next in line, and then, because things couldn't get any worse, they wander off to places where nobody has visited just because they can.

100 Hours is told not only in alternating narratives, but also in a countdown mode that starts from 100 hours to the final head to desk numerous times cliffhanger ending. While I actually prefer Maddie over Genesis, neither character could be considered stalwarts of society. They each have so many issues that at times, it wears the reader, me, down. It doesn't help that Genesis is arrogance personified, while Maddie carries the weight of the world on her shoulders. One could say that 15-year old Luke Hazelwood, geek, gamer, and puppy dog where Maddie is concerned, saves the story from being drowned in too much over compensation.

In a weird way, I am almost eager to read the next book in the series. Why, you ask? Because the final 1/3 of this book really explores the characters to a greater length and you get a better sense of what the author is trying to put forward. Yes, there are some shenanigans. You can't expect not to when you have a group of spoiled teenagers as your case. Yes, there are some interesting twists. Especially when it comes to Genesis. But, what makes me want to learn more, is what happens to the characters at the end of this book that needs further explanation. So, see you when book # comes out! 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

#Stacking the Shelves / Bought, Borrowed, & Bagged # 56

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Bought Borrowed and Bagged is all about the latest additions to your library – virtual or actual, with books that are  bought, borrowed, won or ARCs  you will be reading soon. Bought Borrowed and Bagged is a homage to to Barron’s Books and Baubles from Karen Marie Moning’s amazing Fever series, and is hosted by Braine over at Talk Supe. 

Thanks for Shopping by! 
Have a great weekend!

This Weeks Reviews: 

Tuesday - Redux by A.I. Davroe (YA, SyFy)

Wednesday - Seven Black Diamonds - Melissa Marr (YA, Fantasy) 

Saturday - A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab (YA, Fantasy)

*Received from Library, Edelweiss, Publishers*


#Saturday Review - A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab #Ya Lit #Fantasy @veschwab @torbooks

Series: Shades of Magic # 3
Format: Hardcover, 624 pages
Release Date: February 21, 2017
Publisher: Tor Books
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Witness the fate of beloved heroes - and enemies.
The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.
Kell - once assumed to be the last surviving Antari - begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace - but never common - thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay. 

A Conjuring of Light is the third and final installment in author V.E. Schwab's Shades of Magic trilogy. If you haven't had the pleasure of reading this series yet, STOP, and get yourselves a copy of these books. You will thank me later. You will love Schwab's creative world building. You will love Delilah "Lila" Bard, and Kell Maresh and even how much Rhy Maresh finally grows as a character, and not just a playboy who flirts with anyone with two legs. Schwab has brought readers to this point in time by leaving Lila and Kell in situations where they are forced to deal with an ancient force that may be more than they can handle together, let alone with help from allies such as Alucard Emery, and Rhy.

A Conjuring of Light picks up right where A Gathering of Shadows left off. Lila, our thief, pirate, and newly discovered magician has to figure out a way not only to decipher her new magical abilities, as well as saving Kell who she has grown close to. Meanwhile, Kell has been betrayed but you can definitely blame his betrayal on some bad choices he made in the previous novel. Prince Rhy, on the other hand, is stuck in the middle. Forever bound to his "brother" Kell, Rhy experiences everything that Kell does. Then there is Alucard Emery who has won the biggest competition, only to find out that an even bigger problem is creating devastating chaos.

Lila is my favorite character and here is my reasoning. First, she backs up her talk, and walks the walk even though she can be highly disturbed at times. One could say that she is in fact, blood thirsty. I have no issue with that. One could say that she is driven by that blood thirst to put herself in harm's way more than once. As long as nobody else gets hurt while she is trying to walk the trail of badassery, I don't care. I do think that she shows Kell a different avenue to walk. Kell is a character who scowls at everyone, mops around like someone stole his BMW, and tries to be everyone's savior when he should be worrying about his survival and his future. Still, not an overall downer for me. Characters need time to grow up, and Lila and Kell do that in this novel.

This book is a BEAST at 624 pages. Could it have been smaller? Of course, there is always room to take things out that have no correlation to the issues that are happening in the story. But, did it affect my overall rating. Pshaw! Nope! Have you ever encountered a villainous character you hated in previous books, but ended up respecting him in the end? That is my dilemma Holland. Holland has been a bee in my bonnet since I first met him. Holland has been Kell's adversary, and a very powerful character in his own right who has had to walk the darkside, and then somehow manage to help Lila and Kell against an even bigger villain. So, yes, Holland earned a bit of respect when all is said and done.

Writing a review for this book has put me in a blender, and shook me up to my foundation. I loved the way this book ends. I love it so much it actually had me crying tears of happiness & joy. It was the perfect way to escort our characters to their next travels. I loved that Lila and Kell finally stopped hopping around and just admitted that yes, they have deep feelings for each other, and those feelings need to be discovered, and even broadened. I am not going to speak about Rhy or Alucard's romance, and not because I am a bigot who hates gay characters. But, because I am Team Lila & Kell. Personally, I'm on the boat where you should love who your heart tells you to love.

Friday, March 24, 2017

#Friday Review - The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle Van Andale #YALit #Fantasy #Horror

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Horror

A girl with a secret talent must save her village from the encroaching darkness in this haunting and deeply satisfying tale.
Alys was seven when the soul eaters came to her village.
These soul eaters, twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly morphed into something not quite human, devour human souls. Alys, and all the other children, were spared—and they were sent to live in a neighboring village. There the devout people created a strict world where good and evil are as fundamental as the nursery rhymes children sing. Fear of the soul eaters—and of the Beast they believe guides them—rule village life. But the Beast is not what they think it is. And neither is Alys.
Inside, Alys feels connected to the soul eaters, and maybe even to the Beast itself. As she grows from a child to a teenager, she longs for the freedom of the forest. And she has a gift she can tell no one, for fear they will call her a witch. When disaster strikes, Alys finds herself on a journey to heal herself and her world. A journey that will take her through the darkest parts of the forest, where danger threatens her from the outside—and from within her own heart and soul.

Author Peternelle Van Andale's The Beast is an Animal is an novel that I choose to request & read because of the synopsis and the cover. It ended up being one of the strangest stories that I've read this year. The story features a girl named Alys who lives in the village of Gwentil. Alys, like the other children of her village, has been told scary nursery rhymes about a so called beast. "The Beast is an Animal; It has a pointy chin. It eats you while you sleep at night. It leaves nothing but your skin behind."

Whey Alys was (7), two mirror image sisters, both born with a star shaped birthmark, entered the village of Gwentil and leave all the adults dead. Alys, who saw the two girls named Angelica and Benedicta, seems to have some sort of connection to them. A connection that will gradually grow clearer as the story reaches its apex. The rest of the children have no clue that soul eaters have just visited their village. Thanks to a traveler named Pawl, the surviving children are taken to a nearby village of Defaid. Defaid isn't a place that things happen that have me questioning what era this book is set to. 

These are puritans who call each other brother and sister. Alys new "mother" is someone who is actually interesting because she was not only a mid-wife, but also has a few dark secrets she's kept locked away. These are also the folks that Alys has to worry about after discovering that she herself has some unusual abilities which leads her to the Beast, and an interesting and twisted dilemma. After being caught spying on a young couple, Alys is accused of witchery. Thanks to her friends, she escapes to find her own way to deal with the sisters, and the beast. I should also mention that the only other characters that are even remotely interesting are Pawl, Beti, & Cian. 

Here is where I pause to explain my reasoning for the rating. I really wish there had been a bit of world building instead of just jumping in feet first. Is this supposedly a country called Byd? Are the villages part of Byd, or are they different territories? What time frame is this story supposedly set? From the folks in Defaid, and the way the author writes about witches, and how they are burned, or drowned, or stoned to death, I would gather this takes place sometime during the 15th century? Or, is this a dystopian type deal where a major event forced humanity back to the dark ages? Also, what was the deal with the spelling of Forest with two F's? (fforest) Was this a Welsh thing? This is a fairly dark story with both a heroine and a so called villain who are neither evil, nor truly good. There is a bit of romance, and the author isn't afraid to insert a bit of diversity into her story either.