ARC Review: REIGN OF SHADOWS by Sophie Jordan

Check out what I thought about a new YA Fantasy Retelling of Rapunzel!

reign of shadows coverTitle: REIGN OF SHADOWS
Author: Sophie Jordan
Pub Date: February 9, 2016 from HarperTeen
Amazon: Pre-order it here!
B&N: or here!
Goodreads: Add it to your shelves

Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

Thanks to HarperCollins for sending me an ARC!

REIGN OF SHADOWS was an enjoyable read. I flew through it, and it had nothing to do with its slim volume. It kept me turning the pages and rooting for the main characters, Luna and Fowler. Despite my enjoyment though, there were a lot of things I disliked about the novel.

My biggest complain is that there’s no reason for it to be a 2 book series. So little actually happens in book 1 that some of the romantic tension could have been cut to add in more plot and conflict that has to do with Luna’s true identity, the secret she’s keeping, and how it affects her world. A lot of scenes are repetitive and don’t establish anything new. Luna and Fowler trek through the forest and bump into people and have sexual tension and almost kiss but then don’t and then do more walking and almost kiss again. The interesting stuff like the bounty hunters slaughtering teenage girls and the main plot line of Luna being the true heir to the throne are barely present. Sometimes I also felt Luna was kept from making decisions purely to stretch the thin plot.

ugh hook

There isn’t really an ending since it just ends on a massive cliffhanger very abruptly, after a massive plot twist is revealed. I have no problem with a cliffhanger when it feels natural, like some questions have been answered or a character arc has progressed, but this book was devoid of character arcs for me and the world building still left so many questions (a forest in a world that has no sun? what do dwellers look like/what are they/how did they even come to be? how does the city above the trees have a lake?), that the end doesn’t provide any closure while still leaving the story open. It just cuts out, like if you were in a movie theater and the screen goes black in the middle of the film.

reign of shadows

As a Rapunzel retelling, it had some interesting subversions. I liked that Luna was blind instead of her “prince.” I just don’t know if she was written as Magical Disabled Person instead of simply a normal disabled person who knows how to take care of herself and isn’t solely her disability. Luna has a lot of skills, but I don’t know how she could maneuver around foreign parts of the forest without a walking stick or anything perfectly. Maybe that’s just my ignorance.

While this is a retelling, it also reads like a romance novel. Words like “heady” and “sinew” were used multiple times, which isn’t a big deal, but it just changes the feel or aesthetic of the novel. The plot was basically made up of romantic tension and almost kisses, as mentioned. I’d also call it insta-love, though some might dispute me on that point. Also, the first “moment” they share when Fowler nearly kisses her seemed to come out of nowhere, since he was very closed off before then. Fowler and Luna both fulfilled some very common, cliche romance tropes. Fowler is the gruff alpha male closed off to love, and Luna is the bright-eyed, optimistic innocent  girl. I just wish something else was done with their characters so the trope wasn’t so pronounced.

Despite that, I still enjoyed this story! Fowler and Luna had some great sass, their POVs flowed well, and I liked the side characters of Perla and Sivo. I hope we see them again! Side note: When Luna leaves the tower and begins to run out of food Perla gave her and she had feels, that gave me feels. Loved that.

feeeeels

Some might be bothered by the pace of the novel, but I wasn’t. The lead up to the end feels vaguely episodic with stuff Happening, Dramatic Break Ups and Getting Back Together compared to how slow the previous 250 pages were. All in all, REIGN OF SHADOWS needs some fine tuning, but kept me hooked to the page. Recommended for romance and fairy tale fans, rather than someone looking for a good fantasy.

Cover Thoughts
enchanted

Favorite Quote (From an ARC, so check the final version)
“Being a little dangerous in this world was a requirement.”
ouat hook once eyebrow

Favorite Character 
Maybe Fowler…? 🙂
asfdgh emma

Book Review: THE WRATH AND THE DAWN by Renée Ahdieh

Check out what I thought about THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, a YA retelling by Renée Ahdieh!

wrath and dawn coverTitle: The Wrath and the Dawn
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Amazon: Get it here!
B&N: Here too!
Goodreads: Add it!

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One Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.

Wow, wow, wow! I feel like I’m the last person on earth to read this amazing book (except I’m not because now I’m the crazy person yelling at friends to read it.) Basically, it took me so long to finally get to it because the prologue confused me to no end. So I would put it down and pick it back up and say THIS TIME… but then it would go on and on until I remembered that I tend to skip prologues anyway. So I went ahead to chapter one and voila. Book could not be put down.

wrath and dawn review

I loved this book! There were a few places where I felt like it dragged a bit and I lost the hook, BUT there were great characters and a great romance that kept me turning the pages. My only other complaint was that I felt it stuck too close to the original story, but I think that will be remedied in book 2.

I think this book will appeal to people who like romance and gorgeous writing with a side of awesome female friendship and characters. Oh, and people who like cliffhangers because seriously, that was cruel. Like, a punch to the gut cruel. It left me clamoring for book 2, which of course does not come out until MAY 2016.

dying earlier then i died parks chris

The Wrath and the Dawn will be savored by the romantic in you and you’ll turn every page wanting to know how it all plays out/breaks your heart. AND YOU WILL WELCOME THE PAIN. Then we can fangirl until May. 

Cover Thoughts
i can show you the world

Favorite Quote
“Some things exist in our lives for but a brief moment. And we must let them go on to light another sky.”
I HAVE FEELS AND REJECT THIS.
emma ugly sobbing ouat

“Get up, Shahrzad al-Khayzuran. You kneel before no one. Least of all me.”
american hustle dancing lol

“When she wound her fingers in his hair to draw her body against his, he stilled for breath, and she knew, as he knew, that they were lost. Lost forever. In this kiss. This kiss that would change everything.”
colbert book whore

Favorite Character
Oh man, I really don’t know… The main four (Shazi, Khalid, Despina, and Jalal) are my babies.
attack hug cats

Friday Reads: THE LUNAR CHRONICLES by Marissa Meyer

My Friday Reads is WINTER, the last book in the LUNAR CHRONICLES series!

winter coverTitle: Winter
Author: Marissa Meyer
Pub Date: November 10, 2015 from Feiwel & Friends
Amazon: Here!
B&N: Here!
Goodreads: Add it to your shelves!

 

 

 

The Lunar Chronicles is a fantastic fairy-tale reimagining like you’ve never seen before. It is one of my favorite series, so get ready for a lot of fangirling!

the-lunar-chronicles 1-3

Marissa is a MASTER of pacing! It’s impossible to stop once you’ve started. And she’s a wonderful plotter because–oh my gosh–I’m on the last book and things from Cinder are coming back and even just managing a score of POV characters and all their plot threads in an 830 page book and keeping everything cohesive and amazing… I bow down to you, Marissa.

My favorite aspect of the books are all the fabulous character dynamics. I think every single character interacts with each other at some point in the books. It’s so entertaining! If you’re looking for sass, this is the series for you.

I’m so sad to be finishing this series, but I’m SO HAPPY the last book is AMAZING.

despicable me i'm so happy feels

It totally sucks when the last book is a letdown. Marissa does not disappoint.

She makes these stories feel SO real! She brings back details from the beginning of the books that ground these characters in reality. For example, one character gets kidnapped in book 3, and in book 4 there’s a mention of how her farm is still running despite her not being there to take care of it!

Last Wednesday I went to see Marissa at B&N for her Winter Tour. #WinterIsHere, yo 🙂

marissa meyer

It was Lunar Ball themed, so I wore my Cinderella castle shirt. I figured it was close enough.

There were so many pre-teen and teenage girls with their friends and they were so excited. It made my stone cold jaded college student heart so HAPPY to see girls so unabashedly excited for something. And to see friends reading together.

We were very lucky and got a reading from Rebecca Soler, the audiobook narrator. She read from chapter 2 and did all these voices. It almost felt like what a movie would be. Speaking of, we want a movie! Or a mini series! Seriously, if cyborg Cinderella, hacker Rapunzel, and SPACE doesn’t warrant a movie, I don’t know what does. Hollywood, you have a diversity problem and The Lunar Chronicles might endear some people to you.

Back to the event! Marissa came out and all adorable and said that five years ago today she had signed the contracts for her book deal to publish Cinder. Talk about coming full circle.

She told us the story of Snow White and talked about her love of Disney movies as a kid sparking her desire to retell fairy tales in new and exciting ways. After all, Disney is just one huge retelling.

marissa meyer event winter

winter signed marissa meyer lunar

YES, YES, I WILL JOIN THE RESISTANCE.

cinder join the resistance scarlet join the resistance cress join the resistance winter join the resistance

soooo prettyyyy…

There was a pre-order campaign that included swag, but I didn’t join in since I figured correctly I’d have to buy the book at B&N to get it signed. But to my surprise, there was extra swag to take on tour!

timmy winter 2

Note: The cat was not part of the swag.
Note: Cats do not like posing for pictures. They’d rather sniff stuff. See below.

timmy winter

So in conclusion, read the Lunar Chronicles! I’ll be here, sobbing in my corner about the end of this fantastic series.

Seriously, Marissa. Teach me your ways.

vomiting rainbow

ARC Review: This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

Check out what I thought about THIS MONSTROUS THING, a YA re-imagining of Frankenstein, by debut novelist Mackenzi Lee!

this monstrous thing coverTitle: This Monstrous Thing
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Pub Date: September 22, 2015 from Katherine Tegen Books
Amazon: Click here!
B&N: Or here!
Goodreads: *waves*

If you’re in Boston, head to the launch event in Cambridge next Friday 9/25!

In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.

His brother, Oliver—dead.

His sweetheart, Mary—gone.

His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.

Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.

But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.

Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…

Thanks to Brittany for giving me her ARC! She thought it would be too scary for her and I was more than happy to take if off her hands.

this monstrous thing

(I’m a massive wimp and have never even seen a scary movie and there was only one scene that made me squeamish and it involves body parts and a workshop–so don’t worry!)

A list of all the awesome, for reasons:

*Mary Shelley. I loved morally ambiguous Mary Shelley who you think know, but then realize you don’t, and that you probably never will because she’s a person and people are unknowable in their own ways.
snape approves

*Brothers. BROTHERLY FEELS omg
how r you im dying parksA reenactment of me reading this book

*Prettypretty writing. It made me feel everything I was supposed to. “Ow, brother” feels. “Ewwww that’s so gross, I might be sick” feels. “Badass lady” feels. “Shady dude” feels. “This place is so pretty, when can I visit” feels.
owl-fangirl-hearts-happy1

*The Author’s Note at the end. Reading Mackenzi’s thoughts about the story and what she was trying to say really helped put This Monstrous Thing into perspective for me and reminds me why I’m happy to be an English student.
minions fangirling

So in conclusion, this book is pretty darn fabulous. It has great world building, writing that will hurt you, and is a really cool re-imagining of a classic with a twist. I wanted a tad more resolution between Alasdair and Oliver at the end, but that might just be because I loved Oliver with all my heart and wanted to give him the world’s biggest hug.

Cover Thoughts
scared-and-horny

Favorite Quote(s)
If you’ve bee following my reviews you might have noticed this has been a hard feature for me. Again, This Monstrous Thing did NOT make it easy to pick a favorite. There’s one I really love about saying things at the wrong time, but I think it is too spoiler-y so I shall save that gem for you. And there are lots of good ones about Alasdair’s feels towards resurrecting his brother but I don’t want to spoil those, either. [Disclaimer: These all could change as they’re from the ARC.]

Are you good, whispered that horrid voice inside me, or are you clever?

-‘Is it shallow to say I miss living well?’ ‘I don’t think it’s shallow. I think it’s human.’

-‘It’s never just ‘I hit him’ or ‘he hit me’ or he was right and I was wrong. Everything’s always got sides and angles and all sorts of bits you can’t see. Nothing’s ever the way it looks straight on.’

-‘You liked Coleridge.’
‘What does he write?’
‘Words.’
He elbowed me sharply with his mechanical arm, and I yelped. It hurt more than I hoped he meant it to. ‘What sort of things, you ninny?’

Favorite Character 
OLIVER. *weeps*
(You’ll see.)