Tag: Three Stars

January 9, 2017

Review | The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Review | The Fate of the Tearling by Erika JohansenThe Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling, #3
Publisher: Harper, November 2016
Pages: 478
Format: Hardcover
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In less than a year, Kelsea Glynn has grown from an awkward teenager into a powerful monarch and a visionary leader.
And as she has come into her own as the Queen of the Tearling, she has transformed her realm. But in her quest to end corruption and restore justice, she has made many enemies - chief among them the evil and feared Red Queen, who ordered the armies of Mortmesne to march against the Tear and crush them.
To protect her people from such a devastating invasion, Kelsea did the unthinkable - naming the Mace, the trusted head of her personal guards, Regent in her place, she surrendered herself and her magical sapphires to her enemy. But the Mace will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign from her prison in Mortmesne.
So, the endgame has begun and the fate of Queen Kelsea - and the Tearling itself - will be revealed...
With The Fate of the Tearling, Erika Johansen draws her unforgettable story full of magic and adventure to a thrilling close.

I have extremely mixed feeling about The Fate of the Tearling. One one hand, I loved it. On the other, well, let me explain.

In the first two books of the Tearling trilogy, Kelsea discovers that she is not just an ordinary girl – she’s the queen. As she grows into both herself and her reign, the Tearling faces an impending threat from Mortmesne, the terrifying country ruled by the Red Queen. Together with her second in command, the Mace, and her loyal guards, Kelsea takes the reins as she prepares her peaceful, utopian country for the fight of its life.

Kelsea herself goes through a tremendous transformation throughout the trilogy. She’s always a little rough, a little blunt, but she evolves from an uncertain girl into a strong young woman. That’s not to say she doesn’t have her insecurities; those moments of uncertainties are what reminds us of her humanity in Fate. It’s the moments she’s presented with an obvious choice in Fate that made me fall in love with her character even more.

Yet Johansen makes sure that Kelsea isn’t the end-all of the series. The side plots and more minor characters are powerful enough to carry the divided narrative of Fate, even occasionally making me wish they had more page time. Johansen made it clear that Fate isn’t just Kelsea’s story – it’s the Tearling’s.

I loved that Johansen makes room to tell the Tearling’s history, but as continued, I felt a little confused. Instead of the high fantasy I expected, Fate verged more into an alternate reality. There was talk of Boston, modern medicine, and other things common in today’s society, but unexpected in a world of swords, medieval battles and magic. The alternative timeline threw me, and I couldn’t quite get back on track.

That same disjointedness continued throughout the end of Fate. Instead of the ending I expected (even hoped for), Johansen threw us for a loop and closed out Kelsea’s story in an entirely unexpected way. Personally, I wasn’t a fan: it left me with more questions than answers, and I felt lost without certain plot closures. This unusual ending dropped my review from what could have been four or five stars to three.

What do you think of the ending? Did it fit the storyline? Or were you expecting the more traditional ending?

3 Stars

Posted January 9, 2017 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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January 2, 2017

Review | Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Review | Three Dark Crowns by Kendare BlakeThree Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Publisher: HarperTeen, September 2016
Pages: 398
Format: Hardcover
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When kingdom come, there will be one.

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.
The last queen standing gets the crown. 

In Fennbirn, the island kingdom set apart from the rest of the world, the battle for the crown is a dangerous ritual. Every generation, a three sisters are born, destined to fight each other to the death for the honor of wearing the crown. But this year, with these sisters, things just aren’t going as planned.

The premise of Three Dark Crowns drew me in instantly. Hunger Games meets female Game of Thrones? Yes, please!

While the novel had all the necessary elements to create a YA fantasy battle of the royals, it dropped the ball. Why? The narration. Simply, it took too long for something to happen, and I found myself running out of both patience and sympathy for the three young women thrust into this destiny.

Despite each girl having her own unique brand of magic (nature, poison, and elements), their lives were remarkably similar. Each had friends who thought they were the absolute best, someone who hated them, and some twisted romance. Creating such similar plot lines did each character a major disservice: they quickly became hard to tell apart, and I started to not even try.

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Three Dark Crowns picked up in the last quarter of the book as each magical faction brought the sisters together at Beltane to showcase their talents. With tempers starting to run high, the pace of the narration finally began to turn. I loved the showcase sections, the love affairs brought to light or destroyed, and the way the sisters found unity with each other.

However, I didn’t realize Three Dark Crowns was a series. I had hoped for a stand alone novel and was looking forward to a neat tie-off in the end. Instead, the story concludes with a cliffhanger, one that I’m not entirely sure I want to read on to the finish.

3 Stars

Posted January 2, 2017 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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October 28, 2016

Review | The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James

Review | The Duke is Mine by Eloisa JamesThe Duke Is Mine by Eloisa James
Series: Fairy Tales, #3
Publisher: Avon, December 2011
Pages: 367
Format: Paperback
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Destiny will be decided between the sheets in this all-new tale of The Princess and the Pea.
For Olivia Lytton, betrothal to the Duke of Canterwick—hardly a Prince Charming—feels more like a curse than a happily-ever-after. At least his noble status will help her sister, Georgiana, secure an engagement with the brooding, handsome Tarquin, Duke of Sconce, a perfect match for her in every way . . . every way but one. Tarquin has fallen in love with Olivia. Quin never puts passion before reason. And reason says that Georgiana is his ideal bride. But the sensual, fiery, strong-willed Olivia ignites an unknown longing in him—a desire they are both powerless to resist. When a scandalous affair begins, they risk losing everything—Olivia's engagement, her sister's friendship, and their own fragile love. Only one thing can save them—and it awaits in the bedroom, where a magnificent mattress holds life-changing answers to the greatest romantic riddle of all.

I’m not sure how I feel about The Duke is Mine. After falling for James’ other installments in the series, I was ready to love Olivia and her duke’s story. That isn’t quite what happened.

The other novels in the Fairy Tale series started with a bang, but The Duke is Mine took a long time to start. A long time. After reading page after page of dialogue between Olivia and her twin sister, Georgiana, I felt my interest waning. Then at Quin’s lackluster introduction to the story, I checked GoodReads to see if this installment was a dud. Surprisingly, reviewers raved about it. So I kept reading.

Although I am glad I kept reading, I wished The Duke is Mine picked up the pace much earlier. Until Olivia and Georgiana arrive at Quin’s home for his mother’s marriage competition (what else to call it?), the story slogged. It’s at Quin’s family home that both he and Olivia come alive.

All this said I loved Olivia’s feisty nature. She is stubborn as a mule but luckily more charming. Standing up to Quin’s mother, especially when she made no qualm about her perception of Olivia and her fiancee, must have been difficult, but she did it without a second thought. Her ability to find the fun in life was a quality lacking in not only Quin but society as a whole at the time.

Quin, on the other hand, needed to come alive much earlier to make a lasting impact. He was stuffy, aloof, and a little cold. Thankfully, James switches the narration between the two of them, giving us a chance to remember why we’re cheering for him. As his story comes out, it’s easier to see his kind, protective nature, but it would have been nice to have some explanation for his attitude earlier on.

My other issue with The Duke is Mine is the cheating. Olivia is engaged to another man. Quin’s mother has all but announced his betrothal to Olivia’s sister. It made it hard to hope for their romance when they were potentially hurting so many other people. I liked how James handled part of the situation, but View Spoiler ».

The romance was there, creating tension and atmosphere throughout the book. There were moments I loved and others I didn’t. The Duke is Mine might not have been my favorite of the series, but I enjoyed the rest.

3 Stars

Posted October 28, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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October 14, 2016

Review | Roses by Rose Mannering

Review | Roses by Rose ManneringRoses by G.R. Mannering, Rose Mannering
Series: The Tales Trilogy, #1
Publisher: Sky Pony Press, June 2016
Pages: 328
Format: Ebook
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She bears no name. Her silvery appearance is freakish to the numerous inhabitants of Sago, the cosmopolitan capital of Pevorocco in the Western Realm. With her mother vanishing at the instance of her birth, she is sent to live with the cruel, rich Ma Dane, where she is punished daily for something, though she knows not what. Tauntingly named Beauty, she flees Sago in a violent uprising that sets out to massacre all Magics and journeys to the farthest point of the country.
But Beauty cannot hide in the grassy Hillands forever. Before long, the State officials find her and threaten to take her back to war-torn Sago where death surely awaits. In a midnight blizzard she escapes them, running into a deep, enchanted forest to a great and terrible beast who will bargain for her life.
But can Beauty accept Beast? Eternity is a long time. Now for the first time in paperback, Roses is sure to capture your heart as you fall in love with Beauty and her Beast all over again.
For readers 12+, this is a very imaginative, fantasy retelling of a classic fairy tale, which is still popular to the YA genre. With lessons about bullying others and falling in love, this is not only a light, fun read but also engages kids to think about their relationship to others in the real world.

Roses isn’t quite what I expected it to be.

First, when I read it was a Beauty and the Beast retelling, I expected it to be the story of Beauty and the Beast. While that element is in Roses, it isn’t the main story. Instead, it tells how Beauty became Beauty, starting back with her mysterious birth, subsequent abandonment, and sad childhood at the hands of her aunt (more on this later). Parts I loved, parts I didn’t, but it wasn’t the story I chose.

Other reviewers have pointed out Roses‘ confused story lines, and I have to agree. The novel splits into two distinct plots: Beauty’s mysterious past/family and the more familiar fairy tale story. Mannering tries to combine the story lines to create a cohesive novel, but they didn’t mesh. Instead, it felt like two distinct novels.

I found the same lack of consistency when it came to Beauty’s aunt, a woman who isn’t comfortable with Magic and spurns it in her apparently Magical niece. Instead of a Harry Potter situation (Harry knew his relationship to the Dursleys), Beauty’s aunt doesn’t disclose her relationship. Instead, she varies in her treatment of Beauty, giving her the cold shoulder at times, trotting her out to show her friends, and occasionally letting a little warmth shine through. Her ambivalence and occasional cruelty were never really explained or tied back to the fairy tale retelling.

I wish there was more explanation to the worldbuilding in Roses. It was unusual: Magical beings were persecuted after a civil war spreads throughout the continent. It added to the Beauty’s past storyline but didn’t make much sense in the fairy tale retelling. I would have loved a further connection to this worldbuilding in the novel.

The saving grace? When the narration turned over to the fairy tale retelling. It was stunning. I loved the outlines, the little descriptions that referenced the Disney movie, and the Beast himself. It was easy to believe the story’s magic, to fall into their world.

3 Stars

Posted October 14, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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October 13, 2016

Review | The Beast of Clan Kincaid by Lily Blackwood

Review | The Beast of Clan Kincaid by Lily BlackwoodThe Beast of Clan Kincaid by Lily Blackwood
Series: Highland Warrior #1
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks, May 2016
Pages: 291
Format: Paperback
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A Highland warrior battles to reclaim his birthright in the first of a new series filled with seduction, revenge, and soul-stirring passion…
They call him the Beast—a hardened mercenary whose heart seems as cold as his icy blue gaze. They do not know his true name: Niall Braewick, son of the Laird of Kincaid. It has been years since he escaped into the forest the night his father was murdered. Now he has returned, ablaze with a vengeful hunger. He will gain the MacClaren chief’s trust, gather his clan, and take back his lands. And take the MacClaren’s daughter as well…
Though he pulled her from the river, saving her life, Elspeth has been warned to keep her distance from her father’s hired warrior. He is a barbarian—a shame, as he is far more compelling than the lechers and fools competing for her dowry. Little does she know that, like the castle itself, she is a prize Niall intends to claim…but will he extract blood for blood and possess what is his, or will his enemy’s beautiful, innocent daughter tempt him to forsake his dream of conquest?

The Beast of Clan Kincaid is out for revenge. Torn from his home at a young age, Niall Braewick has returned to avenge his family’s death and reclaim his clan. A meticulous fighter, Niall has planned out his subterfuge (acting as a warrior for hire) to win back the castle and lands. The only thing standing in the way? His father’s murderer’s beautiful daughter. He can’t get Elspeth out of his mind, and the feeling is mutual. As he tries to refocus and get her out of his mind, she finds her way to his heart.

Admittedly, my first impression of The Beast of Clan Kincaid wasn’t too favorable. In the first scene with Elspeth, her sister’s puppy disappears downstream. Everyone’s reaction? Oh, well. For me, that was just crass, especially with Elspeth’s “she’ll learn to get over it” reaction. Although Niall goes to find/save the puppy and returns him to the girl (major brownie points for him), Elspeth’s “eh” response made it hard for me to identify with her.

I’m glad I kept reading. Blackwood does an excellent job of portraying the politics of a Scottish laird’s court, especially one who still harbors feelings about what happened to Niall’s family. His mixed emotions, colored by history and perception, was one of the underdog golden elements of The Beast of Clan Kincaid.

I loved the depth and description that went into Niall’s character. The conflict of his need for revenge, to secure his home, and to win Elspeth created a fascinating character. His narration was compelling, engaging, and a new take on the Scottish romance.

Unfortunately, I felt like Elspeth fell flat. She didn’t have the same consistency of character: one moment she was fiery, fighting back against the (completely unsuitable) suitors who paid her court; the next, she was the dutiful, doting daughter who did anything her father told her to. I didn’t see her as the vibrant, vivid character Blackwood tried to create. That character would have brought the story to a new level.

Despite Elspeth’s lack of character, The Beast of Clan Kincaid was a good read. The vivid descriptions and intense emotions from Niall more than made up for her.

3 Stars

Posted October 13, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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September 26, 2016

Review | The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller

Review | The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs WallerThe Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller
Publisher: Viking, March 2016
Pages: 392
Format: Hardcover
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Staid, responsible Elodie Buchanan is the eldest of ten sisters living in a small English market town in 1861. The girls barely know their father, a plant hunter usually off adventuring through China. Then disaster strikes: Mr. Buchanan reneges on his contract to collect an extremely rare and valuable orchid. He will be thrown into debtors’ prison while his daughters are sent to the orphanage and the workhouse.
Elodie can’t stand by and see her family destroyed, so she persuades her father to return to China once more to try to hunt down the flower—only this time, despite everything she knows about her place in society, Elodie goes with him. She has never before left her village, but what starts as fear turns to wonder as she adapts to seafaring life aboard the tea clipper The Osprey, and later to the new sights, dangers, and romance of China. But now, even if she can find the orchid, how can she ever go back to being the staid, responsible Elodie that everybody needs?

It started the moment Elodie showed Deacon Wainwright the plant, the forbidden orchid blooming on top of the glass house her father built for her younger sisters. Soon, Elodie’s family is caught up in their father’s world, a place of mystique, secrets, and men that will stop at nothing to get what they want. Can Elodie save her family and her father’s reputation in the wilds of China?

I had some with this book, issues that kept the rating at three instead of four stars. While I realize the condescending attitude men showed towards the woman in The Forbidden Orchid may have been historically accurate, it was infuriating. At every turn, Elodie was told she couldn’t speak out, couldn’t ask questions, couldn’t look at an orchid because it might tempt her…Really? This effect would have been offset if there was one (ONE!) man that didn’t look down his nose at a woman, but it was rare. At first, I thought Elodie’s father, famed botanist and adventurer, would be the one but View Spoiler ». The closest was Alex, Elodie’s new husband, but even he had a few moments.

Regardless, I was hooked into The Forbidden Orchid from the first chapter. I loved the dynamics between Elodie and her nine sisters, how their mother coped as a woman essentially on her own, and their interactions with the townspeople. The level of detail with even the most minor of characters brought life to the book.

I loved Elodie and Alex’s relationship, although I may have rolled my eyes once or twice (or more) at some of Elodie’s reactions. They had the same sweet, enduring romance that caught my heart when I read Waller’s first foray into YA, A Mad, Wicked Folly. Besides bringing a little bit of light into a rather dark situation, it forced Elodie to grow up in ways she never would have had to in the family home in Kent.

Once Elodie, Alex, and her father land in China, I was hooked. Every detail came alive. I felt like I was walking in an 1800s opium den or riding a horse in the hot Chinese summer. It was vivid, memorable, and extraordinary.

While The Forbidden Orchid has some misses, its hits by far make up for them.

3 Stars

Posted September 26, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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September 8, 2016

Review | Bay of Sighs by Nora Roberts

Review | Bay of Sighs by Nora RobertsBay of Sighs by Nora Roberts
Series: The Guardians Trilogy, #2
Publisher: Berkley, June 2016
Pages: 319
Format: Paperback
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The new Guardians Trilogy novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Stars of Fortune. 
To celebrate the rise of their new queen, three goddesses of the moon created three stars, one of fire, one of ice, one of water. But then they fell from the sky, putting the fate of all worlds in danger. And now three women and three men join forces to pick up the pieces…   Mermaid Annika is from the sea, and it is there she must return after her quest to find the stars. New to this world, her purity and beauty are nothing less than breathtaking, along with her graceful athleticism, as her five new friends discovered when they retrieved the fire star.   Now, through space and time, traveler Sawyer King has brought the guardians to the island of Capri, where the water star is hidden. And as he watches Annika in her element, he finds himself drawn to her joyful spirit. But Sawyer knows that if he allows her into his heart, no compass could ever guide him back to solid ground...   And in the darkness, their enemy broods. She lost one star to the guardians, but there is still time for blood to be spilled—the mermaid’s in the water and the traveler’s on the land. For she has forged a dangerous new weapon. Something deadly and unpredictable. Something human.

In the second installment of her Guardians Trilogy, Roberts returns to her defenders of the stars, the Guardians. Six people from different walks of life and corners of the earth converge to save the world in the ultimate battle of good against evil.

If you asked me to describe Annika, I could only come up with one word: helpful. Or, more that she wants to be helpful. Her intrinsic instinct to reach out and help any and every one she can should be endearing, and for a while, it was. Yet, when it became her standby action, it got a little annoying. Coupled with her endless optimism, it made it hard to get to know her, a mermaid who, in a deal with the sea witch, gave up her tail temporarily for legs.

There’s a huge story there, right? I would think the struggle to adapt would at least show through every once in a while, but instead, there’s the always helpful Annika, putting out flowers and setting the table. Instead of endearing her to me, it created this vast abyss that neither of us could cover.

I got along a little better with Sawyer, the man with the ability to bend time. Him, I understood – his motives, background, all of it were the more traditional character development, and made him a little more believable.

While Bay of Sighs had a little more oomph to it than Stars of Fortune, I still found myself wanting more character development, for everybody. All six of them. You got that right – there’s six main characters. And since each had such large, trademark personalities, it was hard to develop any of them. It was frustrating; like I was taking the journey, and they were there just to provide commentary.

That all said, the drama and action was much better in this installment. The villains were appropriately evil and (strangely) had more development than the heroes, but there you go. It was the battle scenes that saved Bay of Sighs from a lower rating.

3 Stars

Posted September 8, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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August 31, 2016

Review | Remembrance by Meg Cabot

Review | Remembrance by Meg CabotRemembrance by Meg Cabot
Series: The Mediator, #7
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks, February 2016
Pages: 388
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THE HIGHLY ANTICIPATED RETURN OF MEG CABOT'S BESTSELLING MEDIATOR SERIES FEATURING FAN-FAVORITE GHOST WHISPERER SUSANNAH SIMON
You can take the boy out of the darkness.But you can’t take the darkness out of the boy.
All Susannah Simon wants is to make a good impression at her first job since graduating from college (and since becoming engaged to Dr. Jesse de Silva). But when she’s hired as a guidance counselor at her alma mater, she stumbles across a decade-old murder, and soon ancient history isn’t all that’s coming back to haunt her. Old ghosts as well as new ones are coming out of the woodwork, some to test her, some to vex her, and it isn’t only because she’s a mediator, gifted with second sight. 
What happens when old ghosts come back to haunt you?If you’re a mediator, you might have to kick a little ass.
From a sophomore haunted by the murderous specter of a child to ghosts of a very different kind—including Paul Slater, Suze’s ex, who shows up to make a bargain Suze is certain must have come from the Devil himself—Suze isn’t sure she’ll make it through the semester, let alone to her wedding night. Suze is used to striking first and asking questions later. But what happens when ghosts from her past—including one she found nearly impossible to resist—strike first?

Suze Simon’s life is just about perfect. She’s finally engaged to Jesse de Silva, her longtime (once ghostly) love, she’s working towards her dream career as a school counselor, and everything is finally at peace. Well, until a young girl with a bleeding arm and a ghost attached to her comes into the school office. As Suze tries to convince the ghost to let go and head into the next life, a ghost from her past shows up and her perfect life will be just a memory if she can’t save it.

I haven’t read all of the books in the Mediator series, and definitely not in order. Cabot’s easy introduction to the characters and where they are in the story made it easy to jump back in.

I had mixed feelings about Suze. I loved her character and stubborn, sarcastic streak. It gave a great vibrancy to the novel that I’ve come to expect from Cabot’s work. Yet her decision to hide creepy Paul’s advances from Jesse, her fiance, was simply stupid.

You see, Paul has something Suze loves: her old family home, coincidentally the place where Jesse died in his previous life and where they met (he haunted it). His company now holds the deed to the house, and he threatens to tear it down, possibly destroying Jesse’s chance at a second life, unless she goes out with him.

Now here’s where I lost the thread of Suze. Paul is all the bad words you can string together, and then some. He’s arrogant, misogynistic, sexist, despicable, rude, condescending and generally over the top. His blantant disregard for Suze and Jesse’s relationship (let’s ignore the engagement part of it) was so disgusting I had trouble believing this was a Cabot character. And he thought that this attitude…would work?

Instead of telling him to hit the road, Suze goes (grudgingly) along with it while she tries to figure out a backup move. I didn’t get this. I didn’t understand her logic. It was the one true element that completely threw me over, that left me befuddled. What the hell, Suze?

The rest of the story was stellar, but unfortunately was overshadowed by…whatever that was. While I loved the resolution and ending, the Paul storyline just felt…weird.

3 Stars

Posted August 31, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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August 30, 2016

Review | The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman

Review | The Glass Casket by McCormick TemplemanThe Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman
Publisher: Delacorte Press, February 2014
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
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Death hasn't visited Rowan Rose since it took her mother when Rowan was only a little girl. But that changes one bleak morning, when five horses and their riders thunder into her village and through the forest, disappearing into the hills. Days later, the riders' bodies are found, and though no one can say for certain what happened in their final hours, their remains prove that whatever it was must have been brutal.   Rowan's village was once a tranquil place, but now things have changed. Something has followed the path those riders made and has come down from the hills, through the forest, and into the village. Beast or man, it has brought death to Rowan's door once again.   Only this time, its appetite is insatiable.A YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Pick
[STAR] "With stylish prose, richly developed characters and well-realized worldbuilding, Templeman plumbs archetypes of folklore to create a compelling blend of mythic elements and realistic teen experience."-Kirkus Reviews, Starred
[STAR] "This has both the stylish beauty of those [classic fairy] tales and the chilling darkness that makes them timeless."-The Bulletin, Starred
“The legion of Maggie Stiefvater fans out there ought to look this way.”-
Booklist

Rowan Rose dreams of becoming a scholar, a woman in her own right heading into the glorious capital city. But when vicious attacks by a mysterious monster begin in her village, Rowan finds herself caught in the mystery of her cousin’s gruesome murder, the complication of her best friend’s proposal, and the sudden responsibility to save the village.

The Glass Casket is one of those stunningly atmospheric tales that has the ability to pick you up from reality and plop you right in the middle of a fairy tale world. Templeman’s descriptive scenery created a world of magic and monsters, fairies and other magical creatures waiting in the night. Simply put, it was beautiful.

Unfortunately, the characters and story couldn’t meet the standards the scenery had set.

It took entirely too long to set up the story. Nothing happened after the opening scene (the bit referencing knights thundering up the hill) for fifty pages. Fifty pages. Fifty pages is a long time for set up with no action.

Once The Glass Casket picked up, I didn’t have the connection to the characters I wanted. Why? Because the setup was so long. I liked Rowan, her best friend Tom, and his brother Jude. But they weren’t enough to bring the story to life, and when Templeman mashed in different fairy tales elements, I just felt confused.

This mismash of fairy tale elements felt disjointed, like I was listening to an oddly-paired mashup of different Disney movies. I feel like The Glass Casket might have resounded more with me if we had stuck to only one or two fairy tales. It would have allowed for a little more depth into the story itself.

Despite this, The Glass Casket gets a three star rating. Yes. The atmosphere and setting was just that good.

3 Stars

Posted August 30, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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August 18, 2016

Review | Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas

Review | Marrying Winterborne by Lisa KleypasMarrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Ravenels, #2
Publisher: Avon, May 2016
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
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A ruthless tycoon
Savage ambition has brought common-born Rhys Winterborne vast wealth and success. In business and beyond, Rhys gets exactly what he wants. And from the moment he meets the shy, aristocratic Lady Helen Ravenel, he is determined to possess her. If he must take her virtue to ensure she marries him, so much the better…
A sheltered beauty
Helen has had little contact with the glittering, cynical world of London society. Yet Rhys’s determined seduction awakens an intense mutual passion. Helen’s gentle upbringing belies a stubborn conviction that only she can tame her unruly husband. As Rhys’s enemies conspire against them, Helen must trust him with her darkest secret. The risks are unthinkable… the reward, a lifetime of incomparable bliss. And it all begins with…
Marrying Mr. Winterborne

Please don’t hate me for what I’m about to say.

I didn’t love Rhys Winterborne.

know. Since I discovered Kleypas earlier this year (yes, I know, bit late to the party), I’ve fallen head over heels for her heroes, her heroines, her writing, hell, even her covers. But Marrying Winterborne? I couldn’t.

Since Rhys’ awful behavior at the end of Cold-Hearted Rake, I fully expected Helen to leave his sorry behind, well, behind, and find herself a good man. The way he behaves toward Kathleen at the end of the first series installment was so disgusting. But Marrying Winterborne picks up a few short weeks (week?) after, and Helen and Rhys fall back into a torrid affair.

To be fair, there were moments Rhys was heart-stoppingly romantic, and I’d hoped he’d left that nasty, controlling behavior behind. Then he ruined it by saying/doing something that made me want nothing to do with him. I couldn’t shake the feeling of controlling, hard man wrapped up in a layer of romance to make him appealing. The heady dose of possessiveness overwhelmed his character.

I had the same issues with Helen, but in a different way. I didn’t expect her to act as she did throughout the book, which tipped my entire perception of the series on its side. She didn’t develop as a character any further than she had in the first installment, a decision that I think really hurt her.

On the plus side, Kleypas’ writing was fantastic as ever, even as I struggled with her characters. Each scene was beautifully written, stunning, and vibrant. I loved the premise of the story and the ideas behind the characters, but they needed further development (and less aggression on Rhys’ part) to make Marrying Winterborne a winner. I’m not giving up on Kleypas…maybe Rhys just isn’t my style.

3 Stars

Posted August 18, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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