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Review – The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

The Beast Is An Animal

By Peternelle van Arsdale

Summary: A girl with a secret talent must save her village from the encroaching darkness in this haunting and deeply satisfying tale.

Alys was seven when the soul eaters came to her village.

These soul eaters, twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly morphed into something not quite human, devour human souls. Alys, and all the other children, were spared—and they were sent to live in a neighboring village. There the devout people created a strict world where good and evil are as fundamental as the nursery rhymes children sing. Fear of the soul eaters—and of the Beast they believe guides them—rule village life. But the Beast is not what they think it is. And neither is Alys.

Inside, Alys feels connected to the soul eaters, and maybe even to the Beast itself. As she grows from a child to a teenager, she longs for the freedom of the forest. And she has a gift she can tell no one, for fear they will call her a witch. When disaster strikes, Alys finds herself on a journey to heal herself and her world. A journey that will take her through the darkest parts of the forest, where danger threatens her from the outside—and from within her own heart and soul.

Source: I purchased a hardcover 

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Review:

The Beast Is An Animal was a dark fairy tale set in a small village. It was a story that demonstrating the power of fear and the way religion/ignorance/small minds can stifle those who are different. I felt scared for Alys in that she was always under scrutiny and her village could cry witch if she didn’t watch her behavior. 

The tales and legends about the woods surrounding the villages led the elders to take precautions against such evils, from forcing the children of the tainted village to guard the gates to isolating the village by walls and inspecting any and all travelers, forcing them to depart after their affairs were complete. The first half of the book was strong, though it was difficult to read at times as it was stifling and I felt frustrated on Alys’ behalf.

I’m not really sure what happened in the second half… the weird insta-love, the alcoholic travelers, and the issues Alys had with herself became a sort of whirlwind of issues, but I did like where the story went in terms of the soul eaters and the monster inside of Alys. 

I enjoyed the book as a whole, but wished it was put together a little better after Alys left her village. Because most of the book deals with people and their own evils, I feel that it would be a hit for fans of Cat Winters.

Star 3

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Review – Sleeping Beauties by Owen King and Stephen King

 

Sleeping Beauties

By Owen King and Stephen King

SummaryIn a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place. The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain? 

Source: I purchased a hardcover.

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Review:

Sleeping Beauties had a strange and interesting premise. What if women went to sleep and didn’t wake up? 

I mostly feel that I enjoyed the book, but I have to admit, it felt a bit repetitive and long. 

I read in an interview that the idea for the novel came from Owen King, pitched as a story idea Stephen King could write. Instead, Stephen King told his son to write it. I feel that when presented with the idea (or at least the direction of the book as a whole), Stephen King could have gestured to his shelves of authored books and said “I already did write this story.”

Because while the reason/weirdness element of the story is different, the rest of the book feels like it’s been done before. It’s not exactly Under the Dome, but it seems to share similarities with the ignorant townsfolk, forceful personalties that seem to take over in times of crisis, lack of communication with the outside world, etc. Sure, the cocoons aren’t a giant dome over a town, nor is Evie the same magical prisoner as John Coffey, nor is she exactly Randall Flagg, but it’s still so much of the same kind of story. In the end, it is a book about the personalities of people and their own biases in a good vs evil sort of way. 

I forgive Stephen King for a lot and I love his books. I know he’s gotta be proud of his son and they both put forth a lot of effort, but this would never ever work without Stephen King’s name on the cover. It needed a heavy edit, a huge trim, and something to separate it from everything else King has done. The thing with the other son is that he has found his own voice, where I’m not certain who Owen is as an author from this book. It certainly hasn’t shown me that his son can end a book or tell a different story…

If you haven’t read Under the Dome and want a story that touches on how women are treated, Sleeping Beauties is a decent story that is just as long and convoluted with a strange ending, so you might as well read it if you’re torn between the two. I’m giving it  stars only because I know deep down I would forgive it all if it was just Stephen King and I didn’t know the difference and because I completely expected to be wowed like I was reading King’s other son’s work.

Star 3

 

Review – The Good Neighbor by A.J. Banner

 

The Good Neighbor

By A.J. Banner

SummaryFrom a phenomenal new voice in suspense fiction comes a book that will forever change the way you look at the people closest to you…

Shadow Cove, Washington, is the kind of town everyone dreams about—quaint streets, lush forests, good neighbors. That’s what Sarah thinks as she settles into life with her new husband, Dr. Johnny McDonald. But all too soon she discovers an undercurrent of deception. And one October evening when Johnny is away, sudden tragedy destroys Sarah’s happiness.

Dazed and stricken with grief, she and Johnny begin to rebuild their shattered lives. As she picks up the pieces of her broken home, Sarah discovers a shocking secret that forces her to doubt everything she thought was true—about her neighbors, her friends, and even her marriage. With each stunning revelation, Sarah must ask herself, Can we ever really know the ones we love.

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

The Good Neighbor had a lot of potential to be pretty good. There are plenty of Is-My-Marriage-What-I-Think-It-Is type of thrillers and this one was all about whether her friends and/or husband was lying to her.

As a whole, the book was pretty decent with a few twists and turns, but I think it needed a few rounds with more editors to make it really pop. The structure/skeleton of the story was there, but the writing was a bit mediocre with the cliches and repetitive phrases. The characters were where the story was really lacking. I didn’t feel like anyone was truly well developed and I knew that someone in her inner circle would be the bad guy, but I didn’t connect with anyone, even the main character. I could’ve forgiven the writing more if the characters were better developed and I connected with them more.

If you’re looking for a mystery/thriller that is quick and has a few twists and turns going on, The Good Neighbor is decent, but if you need or want more of a connection to characters in order to fully invest yourself, or are looking for something more hard hitting, it’s best to skip this one.

Star 3

Review – FrostBlood (FrostBlood Saga #1) by Elly Blake

 

Frostblood (Frostblood Saga #1)

By Elly Blake

SummarySeventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating – yet irresistible – Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her – and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Source: I won a giveaway from That’s Normal and this was one of the books, but I also purchased a Kindle copy awhile ago.

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Review:

Frostblood had an intriguing premise that sounded adventurous, romantic, and thrilling. Ruby was hunted and imprisoned for her ability to control heat and flame in a world where only those who commanded ice and cold were permitted to exist. Legends said that frost and fire were intertwined once, but not in Ruby’s lifetime.

I think Frostblood was fun, especially because it was a fairly quick read, but it wasn’t a jaw dropping spectacular YA fantasy and that’s ultimately what I seem to be looking for nowadays. I go through phases where I want something fun and lighthearted, but when it comes to fantasy, unless it tugs at my heartstrings with the romantic feels, it has to make up for it somewhere else by being epic. While the romance in Frostblood was one I was rooting for, it wasn’t a large enough focus or deep enough for me to make up for the rest of the book. 

Frostblood had a good plot and executed it well, but there wasn’t really anything all that unique about it. In a sea of YA fantasy, it just kind of floats along. The character building and world building were decent, but not great. The romance was good, but not epic. The conflicts were quick and, despite the high stakes, I didn’t feel truly connected to the characters enough to feel those consequences and be invested in the fate of everyone. It was somewhat predictable, which I could’ve forgiven had I felt a little more invested in the characters.

I recommend Frostblood if you’re looking for something quick and fun, perhaps to get you out of a book slump or when you’ve spent so much time reading other books that you want to be able to fly through one and have a good time. But it wasn’t as good as I’d hoped, so I’m only giving it three stars.

Star 3

 

Owlcrate Unboxing – January 2018

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January 2018 Owlcrate Unboxing

 

January’s theme was Fearsome Fairytales

 

I took a break in November and December, but I had a pretty good idea what the January book would be and I felt it would be worth renewing my subscription. My guesses were correct and this box had the book I wanted.

 

What was in the box?

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The items pictured:

  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black – SIGNED (not a bookplate) with an Owlcrate Exclusive cover.
  • Hansel and Gretel themed wax tarts from Spireside Candles
  • Owlcrate tart burner
  • Rapunzel bracelet from Authored Adornments
  • Pillowcase from Stella’s Bookish Art
  • Little Red Riding Hood art print by Anne Lambelet
  • Owlcrate Pin

 

A Closer Look:

Thoughts:

I am so glad it ended up being the book I expected and it’s SIGNED, but I’m not really a fan of the exclusive cover as much as the regular one. 

The wax tarts and burner were great and an awesome way to do something different with the candle thing.

I love the bracelet (I typically like everything from Authored Adornments)

I have no idea what to do with a pillowcase and this is where I realize I’m in the wrong age group for this box because my bed has more than one display pillow since I’m adult and married, so I wish it was a case for a throw pillow. The design, like the art print, is nice, though.

 

Top Ten Tuesday – Believe It

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Books I Can’t Believe I Read

 

 I can’t believe I finished this behemoth:

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1. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. 1200+ pages only to close it and think… what did I just read?

 

I can’t believe I actually finished this trash:

2. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. Why? Why must I let curiosity get the best of me and waste perfectly good time and eyesight?

 

I can’t believe I read before the hype:

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3. Harry Potter 1-4 by J.K. Rowling. It impacted my entire generation and I did read the first 4 books as they released as a kid and it’s just kind of cool to have been a part of it.

4. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. Again, I’m more amazed that I somehow picked up the books before the craze happened and could read without anyone else’s opinion influencing it.

 

I can’t believe I sat through that:

5. Tampa by Alyssa Nutting. I’m surprised that I picked it up and finished it. It was perhaps the most uncomfortable book I’ve ever read, but it was so thought provoking and hard hitting. 

6. Mein Kampf. I don’t know why I was curious enough to read it, but it was pretty eye opening and awful, but in a good I-Understand-History-And-Prejudices way. 

 

I can’t believe I did this on purpose:

7. Paradise Lost by Milton. Who reads long epic poems for fun? I guess I do.

8. Dante’s Inferno 

9. The Grapes of Wrath. I didn’t read it in school like some of the other English classes, but why I would subject myself to it on purpose, I’ll never know. 

 

I can’t believe I FINALLY read it:

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10. Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Everyone in school read it except my class for some reason and I finally read it last year. 

Review – Warcross (Warcross #1) by Marie Lu

Warcross (Warcross #1)

By Marie Lu

SummaryFor the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

Source: I received a signed hardcover from an Uppercase subscription

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Review:

Warcross was great!

Side note: If you’re expecting Ready Player One, it’s not the same thing, though similar, and it’s probably not as good because it doesn’t drawn on the nostalgia of the 80’s. I liked Ready Player One for different reasons than I like Warcross. 

Warcross was set in the future with a large virtual game for millions of people. There are glasses that connect people to Warcross and combine the real world with the virtual. Emika was a struggling poor bounty hunter who also knew a good bit of code and frequently hacked into various aspects of Warcross. As her situation became more serious, she made a judgement call that brought her to the attention of millions of people watching the Warcross Opening Ceremony.. and the game’s creator.

She had a new target straight from the game’s creator: find Zero, the hacker messing with security measures.

Warcross was fun and adventurous. I loved Emika’s personality and her desire to do the right thing despite all consequences. She seemed like a truly loyal person. She was a bright and unique person who defied stereotypes and it made her a strong character. I liked Hideo, the tortured and private billionaire and creator. I felt like I wanted to know more about him and was intrigued by the mystery of him. 

My only real issue was with the other characters. I felt like the world building was great along with Emika and her feelings, motivations, surroundings, purpose, job, abilities, etc. Even Hideo, as mysterious as he was, seemed to be fleshed out rather well. The rest of the cast was not nearly as well developed and I wished the book focused more on the members of Emika’s team in the game and their banter. Some of the training was highlighted, but I felt like it was just a small slice and I would’ve preferred a longer book that featured the side characters a bit more. Because of this, when Emika really needed to trust them and needed their help, the fact that they jumped in and helped her seemed kind of weird, as their relationship was a bit strained due to her skipping out after trainings completed. 

Warcross was a diverse book, which added to the world-building because I’d hope a futuristic society would be a bit more open minded. There was a bit of a romance in Warcross, which was surprising and welcome. I did not expect it for some reason. I loved the adventure and Emika’s ability to bounce back, figure things out, and maintain a positive attitude.

I definitely recommend Warcross. I didn’t read a lot of reviews and had no real expectations, so I think that helped. It’s hard to top Ready Player One in the cyberpunk genre, but I didn’t expect Warcross to do that for me, so I’m not upset that it didn’t. I think many negative reviews are simply from those who were super hyped up and expected something else.

Another Side Note: The author does use the “I let out a breath I didn’t realize I’d been holding” a few times. If this is a deal breaker, don’t read it. Other than that, the writing was pretty engaging. 

Star 4