I love reading everything from fantasy to historical romances. On a constant quest for more books to read.
Cinderellas story from an original Point of View
I recieved this ARC from Netgalley and this is my honest review of it.
Nora has been having some strange experiences lately but she is afraid to share her fears about them with her family and friends The reason is that she is not entirely certain that shes not imagining it all in her head...
After all its happened before.
She is even more unsettled when the newest addition to her circle of friends,Aidan Birket invites them all to go to an old house that his family owns. Not only because she dislikes him but that she senses that they would be wrong to to go to there.
But in the end Nora is convinced to go with them against her own doubts and her best friend Phoebe reinforcing it by telling her about a strange dream she had. But in the end they all convince each other that they are going.Who care about some weird things like that.
When they arrive Aidan warns them to not to go up the stairs to the third floor,because its not safe,but impetous Phoebe cant resist and goes to explore causing the others to follow her. They find a strange room and a door.
Things are set into motion and a shadow that takes the form of a man appears introduces himself as Damien and tell them that they have to go through the door and take on the Challenges he will make for them that will be based on their fears and desires.
If they pass the Challenges they will all go free but if they fail,or even die. They will all belong to Damien and stay in the Demons grave...
It is simple." Damien said, gaze sweeping. "You survive six Challenges and you're set free. If you fail, you're trapped."
"What kind of challenges?" Read and Phoebe asked together before glaring at each other.
"Once you pass through this door, your thoughts will be open enough for me to know certain…" he paused, taking a moment to gauge us, "…nightmares and longing
My initial thoughts about "The Demons Grave" was not entirely good as after the prologue I was thrown into a confusion in the first chapter when names where thrown at me in a rapid sucession. Who what?? I mean I the reader is not as wellknown with them,could have eased me in a little bit there author.
But after they all arrive at the house I just couldnt stop reading.
There are editing problems throughout the book,I wouldnt call them typos more like strangely constructed sentences that should be fixed.
As for our main character I liked Nora but it was not an immediate like if you understand me right. I am not sure I understood her very well at first but as piece of the puzzle began to fall in place,she grew on me.
at first Nora when they are taken to the Demons grave and meet Damien she is convinced that everything is part of her delusion and that she is finally slipping into insanity.She snaps out of it however and comes through as a strong character towards the later part of the book.
There is not really a romance in this wich I appreciated, I will however say there are hints of it but the greater emphasis is placed on friendship and other emotions. It does make sense that when you are fighting for your life you have other priorities than making googly eyes at each other.
Then...there is Damien. Our antagonist and the perpetrator of the friends miseries.In terms of personality I would say he is less whimsical than Jareth from Labyrinth but hes not quite as horrid as from Guardians Key.'
The man could have been dreamy if he hadn't just popped out of shadows. Nothing that beautiful should exist, except maybe in a fairy tale, to tempt stupid, young girls into some perverse, sexual game
I would say hes interesting in that I want to know what his deal is and why hes there.
Because of my interest in name meanings I put great significance on the meaning behind Damiens name but alas after a twitter convo with the author she told me this
This book rightly belong on the horror shelf. The amount of things they go through were scary and weird.
II would expect some people will draw comparisions to L.J Smiths Forbidden Game series but to be honest this is hardly a new concept. Its all depend on what you do with it and McCallum does a great work expanding on the theme.
In fact the whole setup centers on one of my favorite reading tropes. Girl underground. Its all what you do with it and in the end this is a book I cant wait to read the sequel.
I just hope there arent any spiders.
If you are on Netgalley you can request T.Kingsfishers excellent subverted fairytale "The Seventh Bride"
Its in the "Read now" category :)
Penelope ( A Madcap Regency Romance ) (The Fairweather Sisters Book 1 by Anya Wylde ) is free on Kindle right now
On the same night Karas little brother was born her mother was executed for witchcraft. Now 8 years later the villagers scorns her and calls her "witch girl" and her father has become a wreck.
Kara tries to take care of her sickly brother Taff who she loves she also has a friend,Lucas who is a Cleaner. Cleaners are the lowest in the village and their job is to try and keep back The Thickety.A wood full of weird trees and deadly monsters and all of ruled over by the forest demon Sordyr.
The community where Kara lives ,the Fold is a strict community that closed itself off from the outside world centuries ago.
After a crowlike thing lures her into the Thickety Kara finds a buried book,a grimoire belonging to her mother. She also encounter Sordyr but manages to escape the Thickety just in time.
Sordyr has an orange cloak,but you get the idea
Kara after a while learns how she can use the grimoire to summon and command any animal she wants and she finds herself using the magic more and more,but when a former friends of her mother warns her that the grimoire is more dangerous than she can understand she tries to stop using it.
At the same time Fende Stone -the man who convicted her mother of witchcraft watches Kara for signs of witchcraft while his daughter Grace who on the surface seems to be very nice and devout girl but hides a manipulative and cruel personality and when she learns of the grimoires existance she decides she wants it and its power for herself.
And what Grace wants she will get...one way or another.
The Thickety is a book wich I did like in its way but that I cant claim to love despite it having many things I do love in a book. First of all its dark,maybe too dark for the demographic its originally aimed at.
Fende Stone was an unpleasant man,but he was nothing when in comparision with Grace.I felt vaguely unclean from reading about her evilness. In her way Grace is used as a foil for Kara,showing her what the grimoire could turn her into.
There is mention of torture of the maincharacter,it does happen offpage but I just felt uncomfortable at the mere thought of a 12 year old girl being physically abused.
It was all very metaphorical not unlike a situation a teenager might find herself or himself in
There is the dead mother,the depressed father,the sick brother,bullies,religious opression,poverty etc misery,gloom,bleakness......
When I started to really think about I felt it was trying to deal with too many issues all at once.Obviously trying to cram so many things into the story makes the book take its time to build up to the more meaningful scenes. I was halfway through the book when I realized it felt like the book was stalling.
It was if I may be a bit fanciful like fighting your way through the Woods and then realizing you have been so busy avoiding to get snagged or stepping into a hole but you have barely moved at all.
And then the showdown at the end just comes all at once.
Now that Ive mentioned that I would like to end with some good things.
Kara is a great character.
The plot twist with the book Karas father keeps writing in was pretty neat.
When the Jabenhook ,a character from a story Kara made up for her brother does turn up towards the end part of the book I was like YEAAAAAHHH.
The younger of the sisters, Amanda is rebellious and tempestuous in nature with a daring charm, she will stop at nothing once her interests are sparked; both to her success and detriment.
Whilst Isabella forgets what it is to be young; only blinded by decorum, duty and outright stubbornness.
When Amanda learns that her sister is to marry Charles Barsett, she is horrified — having had first-hand evidence that he was a rake, with a reputation that was positively dangerous.
Such a marriage is unthinkable; though Isabella has had her head completely turned by Charles's title and wealth, regardless of her true feelings.
Amanda is determined to prevent this marriage to a man so unworthy of her sister… she will go to any lengths… stop at nothing… break into his home… enlist others to scheme against him… or even wed the Georgian Rake herself…
Amanda is on her way to London where her parents and older sister already are for the season when the carriage breaks down she sees what she thinks is an old ruin and goes to explore.She is warned away by a man who she finds rude.
Her sister Isabella is in love with the son of the local squire back home,John Webster who asked her to marry him.But their mother wants Isabella to make a brilliant marriage and has convinced her to accept Charles Barsett,whose father is an earl and an old friend of Amanda and Isabellas father.
When Charles was born his mother died something his father has never forgiven him for and was cold to him always comparing him with his cousin.This has led him to live down to his fathers picture of him and put up an cold and indifferent face to the world.His father tells him he should marry and Charles not caring who he marries proposed to Isabella.
Amanda recognizing Charles as the rude man who warned her away from the ruin (actually an Abbey and not a ruin at all) and knowing her sister is in love with someone else and hearing Charles has a reputation as a rake,decides she will unmask him as the horrible man he is.
This will surely make Isabella see he is not someone she should marry.
I found this book just an ok read wich was disappointing as I had been hoping to read this one by Alice Chetwynd Ley for a while and was very happy when I saw it was available as an ebook.
I felt too much time was spent finding out the mystery of the abbey rather than take time to evolve the relationship between Amanda and Charles I sometimes wanted to shout at Amanda come on its not that big of a mystery "its a bunch bored upper class guys playing at being satanists"
@GrowlyCub This one has a male POV,but the hero is one of those "fake" rakes. Lots of talk about his rakishness.
— Kagama(@litrvixen) 8 august 2015
@litrvixen well, real ones make lousy heroes bec they have the pox:)
— GC (@GrowlyCub) 8 august 2015
@GrowlyCub Miss GrowlyCub! Ladies are not supposed to know about...er gentlemens maladies!
— Kagama(@litrvixen) 8 augusti 2015
Amanda was a bit too much at times,she was always ON I dont mind a spirited heroine but she was just exhausting she didnt really have any downtime.
There were also some typos in this for instance Barsett with regular intervals becomes Barlett.
In the end everything is put to rights in my mind a bit too easily.
So it finally happened.Something I had been dreading ever since I started revieweing books.
I got a rabid fan comment on one of reviews.
It was as you probably can guess not a favorable one.Maybe the comment was not as harsh as some others but the subtext was clear. I was very a stupid person who was probably prudish.
But what makes this even stranger was that this commenter didnt even have that book in her list of books read and also that the author herself had commented my review before.
Not in angry way,it was a very civil reply. I even complimented her on her levelheaded approach.
I think its perfectly possible for an author whose book I hated to be a nice and funny person.Fans please dont give your favorite authors a bad name by commenting and making it seem like an author has commanded her hordes to bring down a person.
So how will I respond to this other comment? I wont.
I wont because I can just tell this is the kind of person who would love to set off a word of wars with me. For fun.
Historical accuracy ruins every fairytale
Reveka is a 13 year old girl who after being raised since she was very young in a convent has recently been reunited with her soldier father, who is the kings gardener to the Prince of Sylvania. Now they live at the castle Sylvian and she is an herbalists apprentice.
When she is summoned to the Princess consort to explain why her 12 stepdaughters all ended up smelling like cabbage after their bath,she confesses that she sprinkled some herbs in there hoping to break the princesses curse.
Even if she thinks its a silly curse
And it was a silly curse, wasn’t it? Every morning, the princesses left their tower bedroom, exhausted, with their shoes in tatters..
...and every night the twelve princesses Maricara Nadia ,Tereza,Ruxandra,Rada Lacrimora,Viorica, and Otilia go to bed and in the morning their slippers are worn right through but they wont reveal where they have been or what they have been doing to ruin their shoes.
To further complicate matters Sylvania is a small kingdom and surrounded by other more powerful neighbours and some of them have started believe that the curse the princesses are under is nothing more than a political ploy.
Especially as everyone who has tried to find out what the princesses were doing in their chambers has fallen into a deep sleep and the emissaries from the neighbouring kingdom who were sent to try and break the curse has vanished into thin air.
The Prince ,Vasile has declared that anyone who can break the curse will be richly rewarded and Reveka badly wants the money so she can set up her own herbarium.
This is as must be apparent a retelling of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" yet none of them are the heroine of the book. Its Reveka,the 13 year old herbalists apprentice and she was great main character to follow. She had plenty of wits but was not entirely perfect,and she struggles with her newfound relationship with her father Konstantin.
They are developing something of a connection but I am not sure I liked how Revekas father Konstantin told her how he couldnt even remember her mothers face.
I was expecting this to be a bit childish but to my pleasant surprise it showed great depth not only when it came to characters but also when it came to the plot as things are far from black and white and...
in a way I felt the princesses themselves were as much a threat as any beast or invading army! They are not the only ones affected by the curse and yet they remain so secretive and refuse to do the one thing that will free their sisters,wake the sleepers and keep Sylvania from being torn apart by war.
Its also very interesting how the author has put the story in an actual historical time (even if Sylviana as a country is entirely made up) as opposed to most fairytales tend to take place in once-upon-a-time land.
Revekas father for example used to be a soldier for Vlad Tepes and one of the rulers who are just waiting for their chance to invade is Matthias Corvinus.
The book also touches on a sensitive subject,altough it doesnt explore it in detail. There is nothing explicit just mentioning it.
Namely that of girls marrying very young,so I was very glad that the issue with marriage was brought up and one concern put to rest when Reveka is fretting about it and told by Dragos that he believes while many girls marry early there is no consummation until years later..
But Princess consort Daciana was also married when very young and I am not sure the Prince Vasile was so chivalrous or decent :/
This is the first time I have heard of the zmeu and even before he appears its in the story it in the tapestry of the maiden about to be abducted by a fearsome zmeu
The bit where Reveka remarks on how the girls in the stories never get the hint and then she herself didnt catch on to the clues about Lord Dragos.Yeah that was a bit funny.
In the stories, you always know who the zmeu is; the storytellers always say he’s charming and friendly and looks like an ordinary man, but they also drop hints so broad that you can’t help but think the girl is stupid for not knowing.
I caught a flash of red and black in the shadows near the Little Well. It was Frumos—the strange man from the woods. He was less handsome than I remembered, and he was younger than I remembered, too. “The herbalist’s apprentice,” Frumos said slowly. “Remind me of your name?” I tried not to mind that he’d forgotten me, even though I remembered every detail of him, from the ugly tusks on his cloak clasp to the way his eyes smiled more than his mouth. I said, “If you can’t remember my name, then I won’t remind you.”
It has the right fairytale quality to the writing there is even a handsome (but Reveka thinks he is simpleminded) cowherder by the name of Mihas who goes around with his mouth hanging open
When the setting changed to the underworld I felt the story lost a bit of its pacing when it started involving less of the folklorical elements and instead crossed over to the greek pantheon mainly because I felt the Persephone story has been done so many times before and didnt feel as fresh and inventive as the rest of the book. But still towards the end of the book it picked up some of what it had before.
The book is labeled as a middle grade book but I think its also a good read for adults and I get the feeling that this is one of those books that you can read when young but appreciate the darker and more complex bits when you re-read it as an adult.
The story but left me wishing there was a sequel. In fact there must be a sequel because otherwise how will the author account for all the sequel baits in this book.
Get to writing ;)
Ava Nolan grew up in the shadow of her father's obsession with macabre artifacts. An elixir brewed from witches’ blood. A cabinet of mummified cats. And Arabella's Curse, the missing prize in his collection: a ruby with the power to resurrect the dead. With a father who resents her existence, a dead-end job, and her expulsion from school to live down, Ava sets out to recover the ruby and reclaim her self-respect. Luckily for Ava, local legend says the ruby is buried in a crumbling mansion by the sea, not far from her new home.
But life as an amateur relic hunter is not without its share of emergency room visits. Or cutthroat competitors. And nearly plummeting to her death doesn’t terrify Ava half as much as her uncle, a gentleman grave robber with a vendetta against her father and sinister plans for the ruby.
Entangled in a web of family treachery, Ava finds solace with a lonely boy who fills her nights with stolen kisses and her head with ruby lore. But there's something strange about Ben Wolcott. He's a bit too cunning, a bit too preoccupied with keeping Ava out of his basement, and much too interested in Arabella's Curse.
Ava Nolan feels that her life is a wreck.Scratch that ...she is a wreck.
Kicked out of high school one month before graduation and now she as far as away from the bright lights of California as she can get,the small town of Eckhart out in the middle of nowhere.
Not to mention living in a house that was the scene of a multiple homocide.
Her family is the epitome of dysfunctional.There father who is an out of work scholar who does his research in the occult and the weird.He keeps himself locked inside his study most of the time with his papers and memories of his dead wife, while her brother Cam a borderline sociopath spends his days doing god knows what. Its good that he is devoted to her.
And then there is Ava herself. At least her mother is not around anymore to torment her physically and mentally,and of course the uncle her father hates with a passion is always just a call away.
When a local young man named Ben Wolcott turns up at their house and is soundly beaten by Cam because Ava thought he was a peeping tom,in fact he was lookin for their father and soon ingratiates himself with him because he claims to know where a priceless ruby called "Arabellas curse" is.
Because there is money needed for food and other expenses(and her father is near broke) Ava takes a job at a local diner. Much to her dismay Ben also works there and now she is his subordinate. Ava is not happy
She learns out from Ben where the ruby might be that if she find "Arabellas curse" and give it as a gift to her father,then he is bound to be proud and he will surely love her again. As he used once.
This book is a little messed up. The citizens of Eckhart find Ava strange and they are not really much more stable. I kept hoping someone "normal" or at least with more balanced personality a would turn up and even things out...but I guess thats part of the message the author wanted to convey. We are all a bit messed up
I felt the book was at it strongest when it dealt with the more realistic issues memories of an abusive mother who still hauntes her memories,a distant father and false friends. The general confusion of teenage years but multiplied times ten.
When it comes to the supernatural elements it doesnt engage as much. Sure there are a few scare moments that are umm scary,but the biggest monsters are inside peoples minds.
But the strenght of this book exists on the spirit of Ava ,her zest keeps the book going -Sure shes plenty messed up and she makes bad decisions and people frequently call her out on her bad girl behavior.
The harshest critic of Ava however is Ava herself she wants to be the good girl but more people pay attention when she is bad and when things get really messed up she starts to wonder if its not better to embrace it and live up or in this case down to everyones expectations of her.
The ending is one of those that I couldnt decide was the awesomest or the most depressing. On one hand it shows that Ava has become a strong person and on the other its somewhat depressing. Maybe its both.
This book is shallow. Shallow,shallow,shallow
The characters,the plot,the descriptions...shallow This book is a lesson in shallow writing.
Kali is Beautiful with an hourglass figure.But she hates being pretty because she just hates it.
Kali had remained flat and straight until her second year of high school. But in the summer that followed, she had eaten an hourglass. Ample curves appeared out of nowhere to fill out Kali’s athletic figure, exponentially complementing her already olive-skinned, dark beauty. A well-above average height lent her the illusion of maturity, and people constantly mistook Kali for a college student.
She also has an off and on again boyfriend ,Callan- who has "perfect blond hair and flawless skin" Why are they together?
No idea beyond that they are apperantly both good looking and the relationship not helped by the fact that Callan for some reason has a problem with her going around kissing other guys.
She needs to do this to get their essence...she tried once with her BF but he tasted wrong. Kali goes to the cinema where an UGLY fat person wants to sit next to her and he makes some lewd remarks (she ponders this might be her punishment for telling to many fat jokes)
This is payback for every fat joke I’ve ever made. Thank you, Universe.
but she is saved by a guy who is"absurdly good looking. Silver lighting accented every perfect line and angle of his face. Several locks from his thick mass of hair fell idly across his forehead, slightly curling at the ends. There was softness to his features that suggested he could be a keeper."
The ugly fat person then turns out to be EVIL and tries to attack Kali...and this is where I checked out of the story
Frances Schmidt is a young woman graduate who has decided to write her thesis on mermaids. Getting hold of source material proves to be tricky Being the only female in her class she feels the pressure to be the best she can be and at the same time keep a low-profile so when she gets a lead about a gentleman living in Maine who collects books about mermaid lore and she decides to travel to there to convince him to let her look at his library. Being a very private man Garett has already turned away others from his library. But Frances has a secret weapon. Her homemade cookies. This breaks the ice and Garett gives in and invites her inside.
She is amazed at the interior and finds that the rumors about his collection of books is true.But she also finds it a peculiar that someone who purchased a house right by the beach would avoid going near the ocean. Garett is in fact a merman and if he cant swim in the ocean he will become deathly Ill. He lives in fear of anyone finding out his fishy secret and even if he starts to have feelings for Frances he could never marry her as he doesnt want to pass on his affliction as he thinks of it. I love books featuring mermaids I really do, thats why its such a pity so many of them end up a disappointments (skeevy or just badly written) or its the same old plot -mermaid falls in love with human and gives up the ocean to be with him. Its not a bad story precisely but the thing is to borrow a quote from Ariel I want more and more in this case is more underwateriness ( Frances is part of the breed of New woman as they were called in the Edwardian era she left her small town and big family to study at university.She has always been told she is plain so when she makes a friend in Garett she is just happy to have someone to talk to.Someone who can appreciate her finer qualities. Garrett had two sides to him not only when it comes to his human self and his mermaid self but he wants to have companionship but at the same time he is afraid of people shunning him if they ever found out his secret.When he was just a baby was left on the doorstep of a lady who took him in and raised him,but when his "affliction" was discovered made him feel like he was some kind of monster. Its a simple sweet story but there is most of the angst comes from Garrett as he has a hard time reconciling his human side and his merman side.
He had decided long ago that celibacy was the only honorable path for a creature like him. He could not risk his taint, his disease being transmitted to the next generation. He would not bring another monster into the world. He dove into the water. As always, with the pleasure of the change, he felt his melancholy lift. Down here he could not understand why the dry version of himself loathed his body. He wasn't repellent. He was a strong, healthy merman. His scales were a lovely blue, the color of his eyes. Frances would like him if she saw him, just as much as he liked her.
Its ingenious (be it deliberate or not)to put the setting to the Edwardian era as thats about the same mermaids were coming back in popularity in art,fashion and the new medium - film I really loved the bit about Thoreau and the mermaid. It made me grin. If you are the kind of person who expects to have straight answers to find out where Garett came from (and how his kiss could turn Frances into a mermaid) then youBut I didnt mind it would have been nice to learn the answers but in the end its not really important. If the author decided to write a sequel where those things are answered I for one wouldnt mind,as I would love to spend more time with Frances and Garett. But as it is "In over her head" is a delightful little tale find of a book a bit of historical fantasy for the romance and mermaid (and merman) lovers out there. If you enjoyed this book: Miss Landon and Aubranel by Charlotte English
Benella lives with her father Bernard and her two sisters Bryn and Blye in a small village.Her father is the local schoolmaster wich pays just barely to keep them from starving even with the money Blye brings home as an assistant for the village seamstress.
To supplement this Benella forages near the grounds of an abandoned estate that is kept under a spell and guarded by a fearsome beast wich is best avoided.But making ends meet is not her only problem as Benella also has to deal with avoiding the two sons of the blacksmith that constantly harass her and the ever more increasing lecherous intentions of the baker.
One day she overhears her sisters talking and realizes that her sisters has been hoarding money and resources from their father and herself forcing them to live in near poverty.
By the actions of her sisters and the sons of the blacksmith she is thrown into the presence of the beast more than one time and the beast demands she repay him.
Well...I had been willing to overlook some of the books flaws and give it at least an two star rating but that went out the door the more I read and the more I started to cringe.
For one thing its jarring when the suddenly formal dialogue is broken with more modern language but much more than all of that is all the sexual situations that I didnt expect nor particulary care for and I dont It was of the kind that made me feel increasingly uncomfortable.
Its pretty much erotica.
On at least three ocassions does the main characters stumble across couples having coitus and one really weird scene with the beast and a woodnymph (I swear I dont search out books with quasi-bestiality,its almost like they find me.)or what about when two prostitutes show Benella how to give a guy a handjob. :0
"If a man’s energies are pent and not released, he will become volatile, unpredictable. Tension will creep into his body and often stay there even after the energies are eventually released. If you touch a man, no matter how innocent the touch, watch for the signs," Aryana warned. "
Be sure your touch is only releasing tension and not building pent energies." Fascinated, I nodded my understanding. It did sound a bit like the beast. Even after his encounter with the wood nymph and he’d released his energies, he had still kept his tension. The sisters were right about the dangers. I would never attempt anything like what I’d just learned on the beast. I feared his response.
Did I mention this book is labeled as YA? Am I being a prude or is this acceptable for YA?
I also kept wondering why the baker appeared to be such a powerful in the village and why the smiths wife was desperate enough to pay him in natura.I have always thought blacksmiths were in high demand and therefore better off since they learn to fix all sorts of things.
Her sisters were just horrible and It was very frustrating that Benella didnt confront them on their selfishness but this seems to have been a trait she inherited from her father as he is a very vague character.
Her father just seems so placid about the things that happens to Benella she comes home injured or someone broke into their home and attacked her all of this is met with polite interest and then he just tells her to clean herself up and stay away from the beasts estate. So there are two boys who are harrassing your daughter and your other daughters are keeping you in poverty.
Then, arriving home late and finding your bed empty..." He sighed. "I’m very relieved you weren’t forced into..." He shook his head unable to finish.
DO SOMETHING WILL YOU AND STOP BEING SO WISHY-WASHY
In the original fairytale the conflict comes from Beauty being forced to live with the Beast in his castle. Here our Beauty just ambles around without progressing the plot into its pretty much just filler to make it so and so many pages and voila its a book. and to find out the whole story you have to get the next part. I dont mind cliffhangers at the end of a book but what I dont like is when a book is just bait.
Is it ironic that that a book with so much ...ahem gratification on its pages leaves one unsatisfied?