Friday, August 1, 2014

Review: Split Second by Kasie West


Split Second by Kasie West
Book Two of the Pivot Point series
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: February 11, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC trade (thank you, Stephanie!)

Summary (from Goodreads):

Life can change in a split second.

Addie hardly recognizes her life since her parents divorced. Her boyfriend used her. Her best friend betrayed her. She can’t believe this is the future she chose. On top of that, her ability is acting up. She’s always been able to Search the future when presented with a choice. Now she can manipulate and slow down time, too . . . but not without a price.

When Addie’s dad invites her to spend her winter break with him, she jumps at the chance to escape into the Norm world of Dallas, Texas. There she meets the handsome and achingly familiar Trevor. He’s a virtual stranger to her, so why does her heart do a funny flip every time she sees him? But after witnessing secrets that were supposed to stay hidden, Trevor quickly seems more suspicious of Addie than interested in her. And she has an inexplicable desire to change that.

Meanwhile, her best friend, Laila, has a secret of her own: she can restore Addie’s memories . . . once she learns how. But there are powerful people who don’t want to see this happen. Desperate, Laila tries to manipulate Connor, a brooding bad boy from school—but he seems to be the only boy in the Compound immune to her charms. And the only one who can help her.

As Addie and Laila frantically attempt to retrieve the lost memories, Addie must piece together a world she thought she knew before she loses the love she nearly forgot . . . and a future that could change everything.

What I Liked:

I'm so glad I made the decision to binge-read this series. I usually read post-published books and review them on Fridays. Pili recommended the first book, Pivot Point, and this book to me. I read and review one book a month, recommended by her specifically. Both of these are post-published, so I needed Fridays... it just so worked out that there were two empty Fridays, one in July and one in August, that worked to my advantage! I thought that was a neat tidbit.

This book picks up right where book one left off. Addie is pissed at Duke for deceiving her. She's not too pleased with Laila, either, but Laila is her best friend. Laila has the letter that Addie wrote after her two Searches, but the date (November 14th, I believe) has come and gone. Then Addie decides to spend winter break (six weeks) with her father, Outside. Addie struggles with her surfacing feelings for Duke, and Laila must figure out how to advance her abilities, which isn't easy. She enlists Connor's help - Connor being a loner at school with an unknown ability. But something isn't right, neither on the Outside nor in the Compound - Addie and Laila must get Addie's memories back, to save Trevor - and so much more.

I loved this book! Even more than the first book! I can see why everyone was freaking out about it, at the beginning of the year. This book is split into Laila's and Addie's point-of-view - surprise! I'll talk about this first - usually, I HATE this. I dislike reading from two girls' first-person, alternating perspectives. Usually, I'll really like one girl, and dislike the other. Not so, in this case. I really liked reading from Addie's point-of-view, in the first book. But I REALLY liked reading from both Addie's and Laila's point-of-view, in this book. In fact, I may or may not have liked Laila's better. In the best of ways! Meaning, I didn't dislike Addie's perspective. But Connor... mmmm. I'll get to that. Him. Yumm.

I loved the fast pace of this book. It's fantastic when I'm reading a book and totally enjoying it - not worrying about how much I have left or if I'll be able to finish it before I go to work or grab dinner or go to bed. I was just going, going, going, reading, reading, reading. 

There are two plots to this book, just like there are two perspectives. Addie is staying in the Norm world with her father for winter break. She meets Stephanie, Trevor, and others that she's already "met". She tries not to get too close to Trevor, especially with her being friends with Stephanie (yup, they're friends), and Stephanie trying to get back with Trevor. Of course, Addie had the two Searches Erased, so she doesn't quite remember these people, but they are familiar. Also, technically, they DID see each other at the football game, in the last book. 

Laila, on the other hand, is trying to advance her ability, as the note said. The note that Addie wrote to herself but gave to Laila to give to her on a certain date. Laila opened it and read it, and she needs to advance her ability so she can restore Addie's memories. She goes to Connor, the boy selling illegal Paranormal products, and he takes her to Face, who sells even deadlier and more helpful services. Laila doesn't count on relying on Connor. She doesn't count on needing him... or falling in love with him.

I LOVE how seamless and beautiful the romance is, on both sides. I was rooting for Trevor and Addie in book one, and I was rooting for them in this book. I loved seeing them unconsciously dance around each other. Neither of them know each other, but both are drawn to each other.

And Laila and Connor - okay, I prefer this romance plot to Trevor and Addie's, honestly. Connor is introduced in this book, so the entire romance takes place in this book. However, it is perfectly crafted and developed. Both Connor and Laila are stubborn and secretive, flirtatious and dangerous. Together, sparks fly, and they are a force of their own. I love them together! Connor is... well, yummm. I loved trying to figure him out. And Laila. Both of them are confusing and broken and imperfect. Explosive together.

The ending was very exciting! I was hooked, and couldn't stop reading. At random points, I remember thinking, how is West going to end this book?! Is she going to do this? Is this going to happening? Ahhh!? West is seriously a natural storyteller, as shown in this book. And her others.

I'm so happy that I gave in to peer pressure, and read this book (and series)! This is West book #3 for me... up next is The Distance Between Us

What I Did Not Like:

More Connor? Heh. Also, I know this was on purpose, but I wanted more alone time between Addie and Trevor. Not necessarily in a romantic sense, but so they could know each other better. But in my head, they do this plenty, after the book ends!

Would I Recommend It:

Highly recommended! If you enjoyed Pivot Point, you'll love this one! And maybe you didn't enjoy Pivot Point - you'll like this one a lot! And say you haven't read the first book - what are you waiting for?! If you liked West's contemporary novels, you'll love her paranormal series. Go go go!

Rating:

4 stars. An excellent conclusion novel to a wonderful duology! It took me a little longer than most to get on the Kasie West bandwagon, but I'm there now! The Distance Between Us and The Fill-In Boyfriend, here I come!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: Deliverance by C.J. Redwine


Deliverance by C.J. Redwine
Book Three of the Defiance series
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

Everything hangs in the balance, and nothing is certain: Rachel has been kidnapped by enemy forces and is being taken to Rowansmark while Logan, imprisoned and awaiting trial, is unable to leave Lankenshire. Separated from each other and their Baalboden comrades, each must find a way to achieve what they desperately want: to rid their world once and for all of the Commander and the tech that controls the deadly Cursed One.

Fighting through her pain and embracing the warrior she’s become, Rachel will do whatever it takes to escape her enemies’ clutches and join Logan in his fight. But when she learns a secret that changes everything, she realizes that escaping Ian and his tracker friends is no longer an option if she wants to save the people she loves. Instead, she’ll have to destroy Rowansmark from the inside out—if she can survive the journey through the Wasteland.

Logan needs allies if he wants to thwart Rowansmark’s power grab and rescue Rachel. But securing allies will mean betraying his beliefs and enlisting the help of the man he hates more than anyone: Commander Jason Chase. Driven by his fierce love for Rachel and his determination to make their world safe, Logan may be just the weapon the city-states need to defeat the Cursed One.

But as Rowansmark bears down and uneasy alliances are tested, will Rachel and Logan’s love for each other be enough to surmount the unbelievable odds against them?

What I Liked:

Wow. Just... wow. This book was incredible. I was speechless, when I finished. There was no way I could write my review minutes, hours, almost days after reading it. You know that feeling when a book is so powerful, it resonates within you? Like watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and reaching the end, and you're swept away, caught up in the moment, the very powerful moment. That was how I felt, after finishing this book. I knew, I just knew, after reading the description of the first book, reading about the author, seeing its cover, reading it, reading book two, reading book three... that this would be one of my favorite fantasy series. A powerful, remarkable one, at that.

Rachel has been taken by Ian, who is dragging her to Rowansmark. There, James Rowan will punish her for not turning over the device. Logan has been imprisoned in Lankenshire. He pleads his case with the officials of Lankenshire, and forms uneasy alliances with Lankenshire, and the Commander. Logan and his group travel from city-state to city-state, building an army to defeat James Rowan and Rowansmark. But the journey isn't easy for Logan, or Rachel. Trackers, tanniyn, betrayals, secrets, and failures stand in the way of being reunited and and seeking justice.

For once, I wasn't scared to read this one. I have a problem with conclusion novels, just like I have a problem with sequels. Sequels often have cliffhanger endings (like this one, with Rachel being taken by Ian, and Logan being captured in Lankenshire), so that makes the third book really tense and frightening to read. What if everything DOESN'T work out?! What if they never make it back to each other?! What if everyone dies!? The struggle is real.

But Redwine has a way of weaving a tale without making readers go crazy. Or maybe I was actually going insane, but in a controlled chaos kind of way. I just KNEW that Logan and Rachel would find their way back to each other. Even if it took nearly the entire book. 

Even if both of them were basically in pieces by the end.

I promised myself I wouldn't peek at the ending of the book, and I didn't. I'm not in the habit of doing that (gosh, what an awful way to ruin a book! You have absolutely no context whatsoever!), but I was so tempted! But I didn't. The storytelling of this book is SO well-done. It's like there's another story within the series in this one book. Redwine is a natural storyteller, so it was easy not to peek at the ending. I wanted to keep reading and reading, not skip ahead.

And to be honest, a lot happens in this book. It's nearly five hundred pages, but it never FEELS that way. This book feels like a TV show or something, in my opinion - meaning, it's highly engrossing and keeps your attention. Also, the descriptions are extremely vivid. Or maybe my imagination is highly active. But I could totally SEE this book happening, in my mind. I love the Redwine didn't just drag us through the mud. Rachel is struggling to escape, trying to stay alive, dodging Ian's temper and vengeance. It's literally life or death for her - if she wasn't wanted alive in Rowansmark, Ian would have killed her. And Logan - all of the unstable alliances that he has to make are tested. His decisions about the tech are constantly questioned. And he often questions himself, if he's doing the right thing by leaving Rachel to rescue herself, essentially.

One of the things that I really enjoyed about this book was Rachel's character development. I really liked her in book one, though I did think she was irrational and impulsive. In book two, she was extremely emotional, unstable, and bent on exacting her revenge on the Commander. I liked this raw side to her, but I wasn't a fan of what I thought was wallowing. In this book, Rachel is tested so much, in terms of survival. There is no room for feeling sorry for herself, or being in shock, or making excuses, or giving up. She has to save herself, and she has to help Logan destroy Rowansmark and the Commander. I LOVE that she wasn't all like, why isn't Logan coming for me, I'm more important than the whole world!? No, Rachel took matters into her own hands, and made decisions to protect herself. Her character development has been carefully spun throughout the three books. Redwine did this masterfully.

The same can be said about Logan. Logan is fiercely protective, always has been. But by the third book, he no longer has the one goal of protecting Jared's daughter. Protecting his people, his family, his girl, his life, holds much more significance. I love that Logan realizes that it's okay to be unsure, to be imperfect, to not always know. 

The cast of supporting characters is wonderful! I especially like how much page-time Willow gets. I'm not sure if I liked her or not in the other books, but I REALLY liked her in this book. Same with Quinn. Frankie, Smithson, Nola, Adam... I even felt for the Commander, and Ian. It's amazing how you'll feel, so conflicted, when you get to know the villains of a story. Because to the villains, they are the heroes of their own story.

The romance - like I said, Logan and Rachel aren't physically together until the last fifth of the book. However, that doesn't mean that the romance, the love, the depth of their relationship isn't present throughout the book. I love that Redwine didn't focus on the physical nature of Logan and Rachel's relationship - though I wish there could have been a little more. I did want more scenes with Logan and Rachel. However, I do see why Redwine made the choices that she did, with the romance.

This is an extremely powerful novel, in many aspects. I love how this book focuses so much on choices, plans, survival, pain, healing. Rachel learns that revenge isn't everything. Logan understands that not be able to save everyone, or plan for everything, or shoulder all the burdens, doesn't make him a horrible leader. The implications of this book are so powerful and noteworthy. I wish anyone and everyone could read this book (series), to understand what I mean about pain and healing and overcoming.

I didn't really mention the world-building or the fantasy aspect because chances are, I covered that in book one or book two's reviews. But I guess I kind of had an epiphany in this book - this story is post-apocalyptic, so it happens on Earth, in our contemporary world, after a disaster. So it is fantasy, but post-apocalyptic. Neat!

Basically... I think this book is awesome. The series in general. Fantasy is my favorite genre, so naturally, I'm very hard on fantasy series. This one is amazing! Go read. *shoos* 

What I Did Not Like:

Hmmm... I mentioned that I wanted more scenes between Logan and Rachel - and I'm not necessarily referring to the romance aspect. Their relationship is very solid, despite how much they've endured, and I wanted to just see them interact more. I don't think I'm explaining what I wanted very well... but maybe you understand what I'm saying.

Other than that, I'm doing the "feeling" thing with this one, not the "calculating", and it's a four-star read from me. No good reason, it just *feels* that way. Actually, 4.5 stars, but Goodreads and Amazon and Barnes & Noble don't do half stars.

Would I Recommend It:

Yes! If you've read the first two books, fear not, weary (hopefully not too weary) traveler! The third book does not disappoint. If you've only read the first book, it's totally worth your time and feels to read the second book and third book. Of the three, I think the second book is my "least favorite" - if such exists in this series. I LOVED the first book, really really enjoyed the third, and seriously liked the second book. That's my order of things.

And if you haven't started the series at all... you should fix that. Definitely binge-read the series, now that the series is (almost) over!

Rating:

4.5 stars. Technically, I'm leaving it at 4.5 stars and not rounding down to 4 stars. A satisfying and thrilling conclusion to a stunning series! I cannot wait to read Redwine's next books. If all of her books are so beautifully, brokenly written, laced with power and infused with pain and endurance, then I'm all about that!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Swoon Thursday (#79): Deliverance by C.J. Redwine

Swoon Thursday is a hot meme hosted by the fabulous ladies at YA Bound!


- From the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering

- Try to make the swoon excerpt 140 characters (or less), if you are going to tweet about it. Use the hashtag #YABOUND when tweeting


This week, my swoon is from Deliverance by C.J. Redwine!


(From Logan's POV)

"We do. But not tonight. Tonight, I have other things to worry about." I lean down and kiss her again, keeping my hands gentle as I hold her, though there's nothing gentle about the way she holds on to me. "Tonight, I have you."

"You said I don't worry you." She traces my jaw with her lips.

"You don't." I'm breathing too fast. Or too slow. I can't tell, but my chest is tight and my pulse is racing, and I'm underwater again. If this is how it feel to drown, I can't wait to suck the water into my lungs and let it take me.

"You said I consume you." Her lips find the pulse on my neck and press while my heart hammers inside my chest.

"You do." My voice is rough.

"Prove it."

I smile as I hear the challenge in her voice, and then, as the moon drifts across the sky above us, I dedicate myself to the task of kissing Rachel until she runs out of air, and we drown together.

- ARC, pages 417-418


Read my review HERE.


What an excellent end to a fabulous series! Definitely one of my favorite YA series of all time.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (#81): Willowgrove by Kathleen Peacock


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


This week, I'm featuring:


Willowgrove by Kathleen Peacock
Book Three of the Hemlock series
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: January 6, 2015

Summary (from Goodreads):

To come.



Another series ending! Read my review of book two, Thornhill, if you're interested (I wasn't reviewing and blogging when I read Hemlock, but you can see my Goodreads rating and note).

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: Magnolia by Kristi Cook


Welcome to the Magnolia blog tour! I am soooo excited to be a part of this tour! I loved Cook's debut series, and I loved this standalone novel even more! Be sure to check out my super glowy review, and enter to the giveaway!



Magnolia by Kristi Cook
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

Official Summary:

In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.

Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn't exist.

But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over.

What I Liked:

AHHH, I ENJOYED THIS BOOK SO MUCH!! I had a feeling that I would, because several things from the synopsis called to me, but it's so wonderful when something you think will be awesome actually IS awesome! Really awesome! YAY!

Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden don't like each other very much. Their families have been waiting for two generations in each family to line up. The families are the opposite of the Montagues and the Capulets - the Caffertys and the Mardsens LOVE each other, because one ancestor saved the other, during the Civil War. So Ryder's family and Jemma's family keep pushing Ryder and Jemma together. But Jemma has Ryder all figured out, and Ryder is chasing after her cousin, Rosie, anyway. But when a freak hurricane sweeps through Mississippi, stranding Jemma and Ryder in Jemma's house, things don't necessarily change - they become clearer.

There are so many things I would like to share with you all about this book! First, let me tell you how much I loveeee books that feature a romance in which the protagonists hate each other and then fall in love. That's not *quite* the case in this novel (I'll explain later), but it mostly is, and I LOVE IT. The tension, you all, it is palpable! Cook did a really great job of developing this type of romance. I seriously need more books with romances like these! If you know of any, please tell me!!

I also loveeee that this book is set in the Deep South. You didn't find too many of these books in YA these days, set in the Deep South. South, yes - Florida, sure. Texas, even. But not necessarily states like Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia. The South is veryyyy different from the good old North, Mid-Atlantic, New England, West, etc. Personally, I've lived in Baltimore for forever, so I'm happy to see a setting in the Deep South. That's diversity too!

LET'S TALK ABOUT THE ROMANCE!! This book is Romeo and Juliet backwards - meaning, the families aren't feuding, they're totally best friends, and WANT their children to date, go to school together, get married, etc. There are a lot of great Romeo and Juliet parallels in this book, like the first letters of the first names and last names, a sort-of balcony scene, Rosie, etc. 

The thing is, over the years, Ryder has found that he really does like Jemma Cafferty. And Jemma has found that she really does like Ryder Marsden. But one night changed everything, when Jemma overheard Ryder saying things about her. Now, Jemma is determined to stay away from Ryder. And Ryder - well, Jemma is sure that he is just an arrogant, smug, stuck-up player who doesn't miss a chance to aggravate her. 

So as you can see, it's not quite hate-at-first-sight-then-love, because the two of them liked each other a lot at first... then grew apart. I LOVE THIS. Jemma kisses some other guy, Patrick, and then goes out with him a few times. This shakes things up, upsetting Jemma's mother, and making Ryder... jealous? Maybeeee.

Then the hurricane happens. I'm neither a fan nor a hater of crazy natural disasters that throw the protagonists together. This one served well though, especially since a hurricane isn't too uncommon in the Gulf south (not like here in Baltimore). I loved every moment of Ryder and Jemma, stuck in that house, in the storage, in the bedroom. The tension was thick enough to cut open! Jemma never really "got over" her feelings for Ryder - in fact, they may or may not have developed more, especially with that hurricane.

All the wonderful alone time due to the hurricane is amazing. Ryder and Jemma's relationship blossoms on the romance side, without becoming too cliche or overwhelming. And the aftermath of the hurricane is perfect, strained, awkward, and perfect.

There is more to this book than the romance. Jemma and Ryder are seniors, and both are expected to go to state schools. Ryder is an amazingggg quarterback, so he could get his choice of any division 1 school, it seems. Jemma is a cheerleader with excellent grades, so it's expected of her to basically go to a state school, and still cheer on Ryder (on the sidelines or in the stands). But Jemma has always had the dream of making films, and she wants to go to NYU for film school. But her parents are like, no, state schools only. I like that this is such a huge deal, because it totally makes sense. Moving allllll the way to a huge, mass-populated city is a big deal of anyone in this quaint town.

Also, something really significant happens with Jemma's older sister, Nan. This isn't a spoiler because you have no idea what happens! I promise it's probably not what you think. But it's huge, and takes up a lot of Jemma's thoughts. Her parents put her college application process on hold, because of Nan's situation (which makes sense, but really, it's the perfect excuse for them to say no, we're not going to consider letting you apply to NYU). 

So it's not just all about the romance. BUT THE ROMANCE IS AWESOME. I just *knew* I would enjoy this book, but I LOVED it! I'm so glad I pushed myself to be on this tour, to read this book! 

What I Did Not Like:

Perhaps everything ended a little *too* perfectly? I wasn't too bothered by this, but this is something I would usually note. So, you are warned. Happy endings are, well, happy. Not a bad thing, necessarily.

Would I Recommend It:

YES, YES I WOULD!! I loved this book a lot, and as someone who isn't the biggest fan of contemporary romance novels, that's impressive. I've pushed myself to read more contemporary romance novels this year though, but I've been really picky. So far, so good! This is just one more that I really enjoyed!

Rating:

4 stars. A lovely standalone novel! I love books with hate-turned-into-love romances - if you know of more, let me know! This one certainly featured an awesome one. And much more!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!


About the Author:


As a child, Kristi Cook took her nose out of a book only long enough to take a ballet class (or five) each week. Not much has changed since then, except she’s added motherhood to the mix and enjoys penning her own novels as much as reading everybody else’s. A transplanted southern gal, Kristi lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.

That’s the official version–here are some other fun facts:

~ As an undergrad, I majored in History and minored in English at the University of Southern Mississippi. While at Southern Miss, I was a member of Phi Mu sorority, and I was a Dixie Darling. And yep, Brett Favre was our quarterback at the time!

~ I studied American History in grad school at Columbia University. I *love* history, especially the Civil War era (U.S.) and Regency- and Edwardian-era British history.

~ My all-time favorite book *and* movie is GONE WITH THE WIND. My favorite literary characters are Rhett Butler, Atticus Finch, and Mr. Darcy. I kind of want to add Peeta Mellark to that list!

~Weirdly enough (or maybe not so weirdly?) I’m also a big fan of STAR TREK (the original series). I never can remember if I’m supposed to call myself a “Trekkie” or a “Trekker,” though!



The Giveaway:




Monday, July 28, 2014

Review: Faces of the Dead by Suzanne Weyn


Faces of the Dead by Suzanne Weyn
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Rating: 3 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

When Marie-Therese, daughter of Marie Antoinette, slips into the streets of Paris at the height of the French Revolution, she finds a world much darker than what she's ever known.

When Marie-Thérèse Charlotte of France learns of the powerful rebellion sweeping her country, the sheltered princess is determined to see the revolution for herself. Switching places with a chambermaid, the princess sneaks out of the safety of the royal palace and into the heart of a city in strife.

Soon the princess is brushing shoulders with revolutionaries and activists. One boy in particular, Henri, befriends her and has her questioning the only life she's known. When the princess returns to the palace one night to find an angry mob storming its walls, she's forced into hiding in Paris. Henri brings her to the workshop of one Mademoiselle Grosholtz, whose wax figures seem to bring the famous back from the dead, and who looks at Marie-Thérèse as if she can see all of her secrets. There, the princess quickly discovers there's much more to the outside world - and to the mysterious woman's wax figures - than meets the eye.

What I Liked:

Oh, the French Revolution. I LOVE historical fiction, and I especially love the time period of the French Revolution! There is a neat "Bad Romance" parody describing the Revolution, if you're interested. My tenth grade World History teacher always shared it with her World History classes. It's a really good one!

Marie-Thérèse is the French princess of this time. She lives in complete contentment with her father, mother, little brother, and friend Ernestine. She and Ernestine have eerily similar physical features... which always them to swap places. Ernestine becomes the princess for the day, and Marie-Thérèse runs around the palace, enjoying freedom she wouldn't as a princess. One day, Marie-Thérèse decides to leave the palace. Soon, she sees what France REALLY is - a poor country, its citizens starving, destitute, and calling for revolution. Marie-Thérèse stays with Henri, a kind boy who takes pity on her, and Madame Grosholtz, a woman who models faces and sculptures of wax - among other things. The country's situation deteriorates, and the royal family is captured. Marie-Thérèse doesn't want to flee when her family and Ernestine will be killed...

This book is super short, but A LOT of time goes by. It takes us from Marie-Thérèse's childhood all the way through the French Revolution, I believe. Because it's pretty strictly historical fiction, in which it's historically based on a time in France's history, we know what's going to happen to France, to the royal family, etc. But I enjoyed the ride. 

I love the vividness of the scenes in this book. Weyn has really brought to life the realness of what was the French Revolution, the starvation, the poverty, the guillotine. The luster of the palace and Versailles and the royalty was easy to imagine. The writing style of this book is pretty awesome, and the imagery is even better. I was impressed!

Even though I'm very familiar with the French Revolution, I was still hooked on the story, and couldn't wait to see what happened next. Especially with the paranormal aspect - I kept wanting to know how that would factor into the book (see below). Knowing the outcome didn't ruin the journey for me!

There is a touch of romance - it's not very subtle, because you know it's Henri and Marie-Thérèse, as soon as Henri is introduced. But it's not insta-love, because they don't "get together" until late in the novel. Nevertheless, the romance isn't overpowering or dominant, which was nice.

Overall, I liked this book. I'm a huge fan of historical fiction, so I couldn't say no, when I saw this one. 

What I Did Not Like:

This book is getting three stars (versus four or five) for several reasons. For one, I was heavily disappointed by the promised paranormal aspect of the book. Oh, it's there. We know Madame Grosholtz and Rose is up to something. But it was disappointing, once we get to know what it was. I was like, that's it? That's all? And its influence of the story... wasn't all that awesome. I was expecting so much more, in terms of the faces of the dead, the death masks, the "magic", etc. The author just didn't deliver!

That being said, I found the ending to be rushed and hasty. The ending is dependent on the paranormal aspect, as it changes things for Marie-Thérèse. I kind of rolled my eyes at the end, because OF COURSE xyz thing would happen (no spoilers here). And OF COURSE this one thing with Henri would happen too, at the very end. I spoil things, but while I was happy with the ending, I wasn't necessarily satisfied. Everything ended... too perfectly and merrily. In the actual French Revolution, that wasn't the case. But this is fiction, of course.

Would I Recommend It:

I would recommend you read this book if you already have it, or were already interested in it. If you've never heard of it, or the author, then it's totally fine to keep going on with your life and pretend you never read this review or saw this book. 

Rating:

3 stars. I'm happy that I had the chances to read this book! Hopefully future novels by this author will be just as impressive, in terms of the imagery, and maybe fleshed out, in terms of the plot and things.


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Book Blitz and Giveaway: Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard


Welcome to the promo tour for the third and final book in Susan Dennard's steampunk, zombie trilogy, hosted by Itching for Books! I'm honored to help promote such an awesome author. Check out the giveaway at the bottom of the post!



Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard
Book Three of the Something Strange & Deadly series
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: July 22, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads):

In the conclusion to the trilogy that Publishers Weekly called “a roaring—and addictive—gothic world,” Eleanor Fitt must control her growing power, face her feelings for Daniel, and confront the evil necromancer Marcus...all before it’s too late.

He took her brother, he took her mother, and now, Marcus has taken her good friend Jie. With more determination than ever to bring this sinister man to justice, Eleanor heads to the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt in hopes of ending this nightmare. But in addition to her increasingly tense relationships with Daniel, Joseph, and her demon, Oliver, Eleanor must also deal with her former friend, Allison, who has curiously entangled herself in Eleanor’s mission.

With the rising dead chomping at her every move and Jie’s life hanging in the balance, Eleanor is convinced that her black magic will see her through to the bitter end. But there will be a price. Though she and the Spirit Hunters have weathered every battle thus far, there will be consequences to suffer this time—the effects of which will be irreversible. And when it’s over, only some will be able to live a strange and ever after.

Susan Dennard will leave readers breathless and forever changed in the concluding pages of this riveting ride.


About the Author:


Susan Dennard is a writer turned marine biologist turned writer again. Strange and Ever After is the conclusion to her trilogy, which includes A Darkness Strange and Lovely and Something Strange and Deadly. Among the traits she shares with her heroine Eleanor are a weakness for Shakespeare quotes, a healthy appetite for baked goods, and an insatiable curiosity. Sadly, Susan does not get to wear a corset or wave a parasol on a daily basis.


The Complete Series

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a-dawn-most-wicked-a-something-strange-and-deadly-novella something-strange-and-deadly a-darkness-strange-and-lovely strange-and-ever-after