Ever the Hunted – Erin Summerill

28114396Title: Ever the Hunted
Author: Erin Summerill

Series: Clash of Kingdoms #1

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Published Date: 12/27/2016

Blurb: Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.

My Review:
I’m not even sure what the allure of a book set in a place with no technology, bows and knives are hunting tools and trade is the best source of commodity is, but I am always drawn to them.  Throw in a strong female lead, and I’m usually game! Plus I really love that cover.

What I Loved:  This story unraveled at a very nice pace, and had the flavor of a fairy-tale, which falls right into my current Beauty and the Beast mode as it is.  I enjoyed that there were bits of magic interwoven throughout this story; you know that Britta is special, but it really isn’t fully unveiled until much later just how much, and then it maintains a bit of a ‘witch hunt’ atmosphere. I felt like the pace of this book moved along smoothly, yet didn’t skimp on the background either.  I honestly thought that I was reading a stand alone because of all the detail and the way the whole thing was unraveling.

I loved the relationship between Britta and Cohen’s friendship/relationship.  Of course there is the attraction between them which is kept at a sizzle most of the time, but they also bicker and get on each other’s nerves, just the way you would expect old friends to do.  They protect each other, even in moments when they don’t seem to be on the same side of the fence.

Britta’s captors were an interesting mix of people.  I did like that not all of them were mean/evil-natured, but that despite her circumstance, she had a friend as well.

Not So Much:  So the first, and probably most common mistake of any book relationship – the relationship between Britta and Cohen could have been set to rights by conversing. Even when there was this big secret being held, there was so much talking that could have been done, instead there were long pauses and assumptions the entire time…it got old very quickly.

Second, I thought I was reading a stand alone, even though I sort of knew I wasn’t at the same time.  This kind of book ALWAYS is part of a series.  But I’m very unpleased with the way this one ended, and I’m not even sure I want to continue.  It will take some good reviews and research on my part, because I’m not sure I can handle another book of no talking and secrets that are the biggest source of drama throughout the book.

The Verdict: I’m iffy on this.  I liked it a lot, but there were issues that make me hesitant to continue.  The book was clean and appropriate for YA.

Hunted – Meagan Spooner

24485589Title: Hunted
Author: Meagan Spooner

Publisher: HarperTeen
Published Date: March 14, 2017

Blurb: Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

My Review:
Beauty and the Beast has always been, and likely will always be my favorite fairytale.  I have loved it from the moment the first Disney movie came out back when I was a kid.  I remember being enchanted by the story, and then again when all the reports came out about all the details of on the graphics and all the work that went into the finite details (anyone else remember the over-description of that amazing chandelier?) I was enchanted again by the work that went into making the movie I loved.  As I grew up I came to love the story and it’s many forms.  In fact, recently my family and I were at a bookstore, and naturally they had a display dedicated to Beauty and the Beast, and I pointed out all of the books on that display I had already read.  I’m pretty sure it was 7 out of the 10 options.  At least one of the options was a book that was just a graphic replica of the movie (of which I have no desire to read).  Another of the books was Hunted, and I have now added it to my list…

What I Loved:  While this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, this book was its own story.  So many different elements and theories were poured into this rendition, it was so lovely to see the story through a different lens.  Only the trace outline of the story that is so familiar existed in this rendition.

My absolute favorite part about this book, for the very first time this story opened my eyes to a new reality in all of the Beauty and the Beast tales, and I’m not sure why I haven’t seen it before.  Most (Disney) stories are about a Princess who needs rescued.  And yes, there are many of the newer movies where this reoccurrence has been dropped to have the strong female lead, but I think we all forget to look at Beauty in this light.  In fact, the roles are completely reversed and it has always been Beast that needs rescued. There is a scene in which one of Yeva’s (Beauty’s) sisters point out, [paraphrased quote] “you are not a knight in shining armor riding off to defeat the enemy and rescue the princess,” but is she not?  Does she not break the spell releasing the Beast from his curse…in the many retellings, this is done mostly the same way.  This book is unique in the curse and it’s ways, but the concept is still there.

The conclusion, and Yeva’s self evaluation though, beautifully done.

Not So Much: I felt like it took a little while to really get into the thick of this story.  While most of the first few chapters are story and character building, I felt it moved slow.  But once I got through the beginning the real story, the one I was anxious to get to, reeled me in really quick.

Due to Yeva’s skill sets and the title being “Hunted” and all, I did long for a bit more action as well.

The Verdict: I will be adding a hard-copy of this book to my shelf. I loved it. There are many words I really wanted to share in this review, however so many of the things I wanted to discuss could have been viewed as spoilery, simply because the best part about this book is going in knowing it’s basically a retelling, but not really knowing the story at all.  As all the parts of it start to become clear – THIS is the joy in this book! Hunted is very YA friendly, and a familiar story beautifully re-imaged.

Roseblood by A.G. Howard

28818314Title: RoseBlood
Author: A.G. Howard

Publisher: Amulet Books
Published Date: January 10, 2017

Buy Link: http://a.co/40XXFxw

Blurb: In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

My Review:  Roseblood was an unexpected surprise in January’s Owlcrate.  I mean, they give you hints about what you’ll be getting and I knew it was going to be a classic retelling, but from some of the teasers I was thinking it would be a ‘classic retelling’ in the vein of Pride and Prejudice or something of that nature.  I never in a million years would have guessed that it was going to be a Phantom of the Opera retelling!!!  I hadn’t even imagined one existed….now I’m wondering about others.

First, let me tell you, I’ve seen Phantom of the Opera…and it is by far my favorite musical ever.  I love everything about it.  And like the rest of the world, I was taken by the Phantom.  I love the music.  I own the movie version with Gerard Butler (and will be watching it again sometime soon).  And I truly loved being surprised by this book!

What I Loved:  This book wasn’t so much a re-telling as it was a world built off the original story.  I loved the pace set by this book.  I felt like the elements of the whole story were revealed perfectly, and it flowed quite nicely.  The setting, the characters, the story, all of it kept me captivated.  There were no mention of the actual musical’s songs or dances, the book still brought to memory my theater experience.  I enjoyed that.  As I said, this wasn’t a re-telling exactly, but there were scenes included that well-enough reflect the story we all know.

The romance between Rune and Thorn was so sweet and beautiful.  There are underlying layers to their relationship, things that in real life (or at least ME in real life)  would have had a hard time just simply accepting; Rune does accept easily, however the pacing of the relationship was still just right.  And without a touch of ‘unsavory events’ this couple still made my heart beat faster and me sigh with that contentment you get when reading about first love.

Not So Much:  There were a few holes in my opinion.  Or maybe not holes, but places where at first Rune was completely oblivious about things, and then suddenly she is completely in the know using terminology that she shouldn’t quite understand (as far as I could tell).  I don’t know if I missed something while reading, or if it was supposed to be in those gap-times where the characters do spend time together but it’s not written in the book in detail…however I did think, ‘wait…how did she know that, or come to that?’

The Verdict:  I loved this book!  There’s not much more to it than that.  It’s a clean read, I would let my 11 year old daughter read it if she wanted to.  (And she would LOOVE Diablo, the opera cat, if she did).

Book Review: It Started With Goodbye – Christina June

It Started With Goodbye by Christina June
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Publishing: May 9, 2017
Publisher: Blink/HarperCollins
Pre-Order: https://amzn.com/B01HAKH5LY


A beautiful cover, a blurb that boasts a modern Cinderella story; is it any surprise that I was drawn to It Started With Goodbye right away?

What I Loved: I adore the fact that, for the first time since Cinder and Ella (yet, another Cinderella story) I was sucked into a story so deeply that it took me less than 24 hours to read it. …well, it isn’t a 500 page book, so there’s that, but you get my point. It feels like it’s been a while since I was plunged into a book like that.

I enjoyed Tatum’s character a lot, and watching how she was going to handle and come through her particular predicament. She was being blamed for something that wasn’t her fault, and being punished rather harshly at that. I enjoyed how she came up with ways of overcoming this punishment, sometimes with just a positive attitude. Then even when there were times when she was being rebellious, she still managed to be honorable in her thoughts, and ultimately her actions as well. It made me like her that much more.

Of course there has to be a Prince Charming! True to the Cinderella story, we don’t really ‘see’ him too much, but I did enjoy how their relationship formed and bloomed throughout the story.

Throughout the book there was an overlying theme of misconceptions and hurts – you can trace it back through several of the characters. It was nice to see how some of these things played out and when the truth was revealed or the characters let go of their own hurt to view things from another perspective, things were made right.

Not So Much: I think one of the things I wish would have worked out a bit differently was the end when Tatum finally got to really talk to her parents. I felt like this was glossed over a bit. There seemed to be a lot of long lasting hurt feelings, however only the surface was scratched on the depth of the rejection and loneliness that Tate was going through.

The Verdict: It is always fun to read modernized fairytales. They are predictable, of course, but I love being swept up into the story while at the same time knowing how things are probably going to end anyway. It Started With Goodbye had me hooked from the very beginning. I recommend this book for teenager of all ages, and again I have suggested to my 11 year old daughter that she may like the book – so you know it’s clean!

I received a copy if It Started With Goodbye from Blink in exchange for an honest review. I have received no other compensation, other than the joy of reading, for my opinion.

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Book Review: My Lady Jane – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Published: June 7, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Buy Link:  https://amzn.com/B015CYCHNQ

Another winner that I got from Owlcrate – which if you’ve never heard of I encourage you to look up! Owlcrate is one of those monthly boxes where not only do you get a book every month, but also book related goodies in the form of things like jewelry, art, and/or bookmarks. I purchased two, myself, and loved both of them. The boxes are $30 each, plus shipping, and are a lovely treat if you’re able to do it!

What I Loved: This book was full of humor, both from the characters as well as the narrators, aka the authors, who interject their commentary now and then. It is a very light hearted read, but also an entertaining story. My favorite character is probably King Edward’s grandma – who had wonderfully witty, elder-ish type things to say. The entire cast was perfect though.

The relationship between Jane and Gifford was so fun! They had a rocky start full of miscommunication and half-truths, however they always fell back to their friendly, if not flirtatious, banter and self consciousness (from both sides).

All humor aspects of this book aside (and there is plenty…I mean, many of these characters turn into animals…so yeah), there is a great story-line here too. Just like any book involving the royal court, there are game players, and tyrant leaders, and of course kingdoms usurpers.

Not so Much: I loved this story, but I do kind of wish there were a few surprises sprinkled in. I was pretty much able to predict, or make a pretty logical guess about what was going to happen the entire way through. It did take me a while to finish this book – MOSTLY because I’m busy, and the kids are going back to school, etc., etc., but partly I think it also had to do with not being completely sucked in – no mystery or something like that.

The Verdict: I’ve given this book 5 stars. It was very well written, and entertaining. Extremely age appropriate. In fact, I’ve recommended that my 11 year old daughter pick it up, as I believe she will really enjoy it (even if they use the word “consummate” **gasp** 😉 ).

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Book Review: Everland by Wendy Spinale

Everland by Wendy Spinale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Published Date: May 10, 2016
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Buy Link:  https://amzn.com/B015QMBYD8

I received Everland in the May Steampunk Owlcrate. I decided I wanted the box because of the advertised Infernal Devices inclusion in the box. I was extremely excited to discover the book was a steampunk version of Peter Pan, as (if you read my reviews you already know) I’ve been reading a lot of Peter Pan retells lately.

What I Loved: This wasn’t so much a retelling of Peter Pan as it was a reimaging. All of our favorite characters, and their personalities were present and accounted for. I really enjoyed that about this book – it was it’s own story throughout the entire book, but it was also very much Peter Pan!

In some of the retellings I’ve read lately, Peter is cast as the bad guy while Hook is really our hero – in this book the characters are put back into their rightful places, and Pete was perfect and made me fall in love with the kid Peter Pan was, but also with the teenager and guardian he was in this rendition. He was playful and sarcastic yet he bore the weight of burden but not without its scars.

It was awesome that this was steampunked. I’ve read a few steampunk books, but I think I like this one the best so far. And Pete’s tattoo…I really would love to see that for real. However the best steampunk element was most certainly Belle’s wings!

Not So Much: Truthfully, Hook was completely unstable in this book, but I was sort of confounded by this character. At times I felt like he wasn’t really such a bad person, other times he was the worst. I kind of felt like the two sides didn’t come together very well, but perhaps that is as it should be when someone isn’t quite right in the head.

I also would have loved to have had an Epilogue of this book. It was pretty well wrapped up, but not completely…..aaaaand as I was typing this I looked it up, and it appears that this is a series. Now I’m really wondering where this is going to go…..

The Verdict:
This is my favorite Peter Pan Retelling so far. I loved it. I loved the setting, and the characters. I do want more and am very intrigued to know how this is going to be as a series. Hopefully it does not disappoint.

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