A Truly Epic Tale

A Truly Epic Tale

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The Letter For The King

by Tonke Dragt

Sixteen-year-old Tiuri must spend hours locked in a chapel in silent contemplation if he is to be knighted the next day. But as he waits by the light of a flickering candle, he hears a knock at the door and a voice desperately asking for help.

A secret letter must be delivered to King Unauwen across the Great Mountains—a letter upon which the fate of the entire kingdom depends. Tiuri has a vital role to play, one that might cost him his knighthood.

Tiuri’s journey will take him through dark, menacing forests, across treacherous rivers, to sinister castles and strange cities. He will encounter evil enemies who would kill to get the letter, but also the best of friends in the most unexpected places.

He must trust no one.

He must keep his true identity secret.

Above all, he must never reveal what is in the letter…

This is a monster of a book. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started this. Dread set in when I saw it was an almost 530 page medieval knight’s story. That combination just screams, long, slow, and boring.  I read it anyways and was quite shocked at what I found.

Somehow, Dragt manages to make 530 pages of questing interesting and relatively fast paced. I had absolutely no idea it was possible to pack all kinds of action into that many pages of just travel, and I still don’t know how Dragt did it, but I was beyond impressed when I found that I was halfway through and still fascinated.

The plot while action filled, never seemed too dramatic or intense, and was surprisingly, rather simple. It worked really well for the story line and Dragt’s writing and style.

I don’t have much patience for most middle grade and younger seeming books, but I never once felt like I was reading a childish book when I read The Letter For The King. It was fantastically versatile and would be appealing to pretty much anyone with a love of adventure and the time to read all 530 pages.

The characters were endearing and possibly my favorite part of the story, although they seemed rather formal and reserved at times, but I believe most of that impression came from Dragt’s voice and style. All the relationships and people seemed almost sugary sweet with rather similar personalities, but that didn’t strike me until after reading it, and didn’t bother me at the time. The good and evil is very clear cut without a whole lot of gray area or guessing, but somehow that works with the style of the book too.

 Last Thoughts: The Letter For The King is a fantastic yet classic adventure story that jumps off the page. Full of classic heros and villans, danger, friendship, and mystery, it is a tale that speaks to the imagination and appeals to all ages. Four and a half out of five stars.

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Gif Consensus:

good

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Daughters Unto Devils

Daughters Unto Devils

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Daughters Unto Devils

by Amy Lukavics

When sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner’s family decides to move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, she hopes it is her chance for a fresh start. She can leave behind the memory of the past winter; of her sickly Ma giving birth to a baby sister who cries endlessly; of the terrifying visions she saw as her sanity began to slip, the victim of cabin fever; and most of all, the memories of the boy she has been secretly meeting with as a distraction from her pain. The boy whose baby she now carries.

When the Verners arrive at their new home, a large cabin abandoned by its previous owners, they discover the inside covered in blood. And as the days pass, it is obvious to Amanda that something isn’t right on the prairie. She’s heard stories of lands being tainted by evil, of men losing their minds and killing their families, and there is something strange about the doctor and his son who live in the woods on the edge of the prairie. But with the guilt and shame of her sins weighing on her, Amanda can’t be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or deep within her soul.

While I love reading horror, it isn’t often that the written word gets under my skin enough to really freak me out. Daughters Unto Devils however managed to do just that. When I first finished reading it I bluffed until I had myself believing I wasn’t freaked out in the least but as soon as the lights went out I was cowering beneath the sheets.

The character development left a tiny bit to be desired but then again I am a picky little book monger, so I doubt it would be a problem for most. Amanda did grow some especially in her relationship with her sisters, I just expected there to be a bit more, or just for it to be more obvious, because of the dramatic circumstances around her.

I was most impressed with how masterfully Lukavics spun the plot. Just because it is a short book doesn’t mean it has to have a simple plot. Lukavics filled it with the perfect amount of twists and turns, but what impressed me the most was how perfectly she connected all the dots and tied up the loose ends. I’ll admit, there was a moment when I was worried that some parts of the plot were going to be forgotten, but by the final words my mind was completely blown by how it all came full circle. It made my bookworm heart infinitely happy.

Last Thoughts: Daughters Unto Devils is fantastic for a quick, yet horrifying read. Lukavics unflinchingly and expertly tackles profound and relevant social issues then flawlessly combines them with deliciously appaling lore. I would absolutely recommend it and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Don’t forget that you can enter to win this book and two others in the November Love Stacks giveaway!

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Gif Consensus: 

fear

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Yin Loves Yang

Yin Loves Yang

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Everything Everything

by Nicola Yoon

***

Format: Paperback ARC

Source: Liberty Bay Books

Expected Date of Publication: September 1, 2015

***

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

***

Yes, this book was not without some bothersome flaws. But I must say that it was so adorably touching and sweet that although I found somethings irritating, they didn’t stop me from loving this book to bits and pieces.

Lets start off with the issues I had:

1. Why was everything white? Making things white doesn’t make them less allergenic! I don’t know if this was some weird literary device thing and it was just a huge metaphor for her life? If it was, that was just too deep to make all the white stuff ok, or normal.

2. The no touching rule made absolutely no sense. Clara and Maddy’s mom touched Maddy regularly despite living and working outside the house then going through the whole decontamination thing before entering the house again. Maddy’s teacher and Olly also live and work outside and go through the same decontamination system but are forbidden from touching her because it could be so detrimental to her health. That is a direct conflict of logic if I ever read one.

3. The relationship suddenly began progressing extremely fast. Don’t get me wrong almost all of it was the epitome of adorableness and sweetness but the relationship started moving way too fast for my taste towards the end.

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Now let’s move on to something more fun to talk about, all the things I loved!

1. The voice  of the writing was surprisingly clever and funny. I found myself laughing out loud at some parts which is extremely rare for me.

2. The format was also insanely clever and funny, in fact how it was formatted/written is really what brought out more of that humorous voice. There were funny lists, drawings and diagrams in between chapters and it was a great way to tell the story and delve into Maddy’s character.

3. It moved at a surprisingly fast pace, but I couldn’t help but love that about it. It was something different and it was well done.

4. Maddy+Olly. They might just be one of my new favorite literary couples. They were so, nearly unbearably, sweet. They were cute and awkward and heartwarming. There was no way not to love them, both as individuals and as a couple!

5. The story and the writing were both extremely full of life, emotion, and strong imagery. It had a vibrancy that many other books strive for but don’t quite manage to achieve as well as Nicola Yoon did in Everything, Everything. 

6. THE ENDING! Oh my stars, the ending! It was a complete surprise and the perfect twist. It was so utterly stunning and brought everything about the story together. It was heartbreaking but at the same time, everything you wanted to hear, a flawless and passionate antithesis. It very well could have been my favorite ending of all time, and my favorite part of the book.

Last Words: Everything, Everything is a breathtaking tale of growing up, living, and self discovery with a romance that will have you grinning from ear to ear. This story is everything from heartwarming to heartbreaking in all the best of ways. Despite some flaws in logic, it managed to sweep me off my feet. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

new4.5starwithfade Goodreads and Liberty Bay Books.

Gif. Consensus:

sucks cute

ACOTAR

ACOTAR

ACOTAR

A Court of Thorns and Roses

by Sarah J. Maas

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

 I splurged last week and bought myself A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR). I kept telling myself I’d wait until after my birthday, but after reading a bunch of brilliant reviews and talking to Kate from Liberty Bay Books about her thoughts on it,  I decided I just had to take the plunge and I don’t regret it one bit. I stayed up late into the night devouring it in what was more or less, one sitting.

I will admit it took me a bit to get into it. I don’t know what it was but the first 1/3 or so, (when Feyre is still in the village livin’ life) I wasn’t totally sold. The book had my attention, but it hadn’t really like GRABBED me as much as I hoped. But once the middle and end hit I was totally invested and just couldn’t put it down!

I was surprised by how closely it followed the original tale of The Beauty and The Beast. I didn’t dislike that about it. I was just surprised because most of the retellings I’ve read are much more loosely rooted in the original tale, following the general plot arc, but not necessarily the little events or details. ACOTAR was unique in that a lot of my favorite “little” moments from The Beauty and The Beast.

The whole concept Maas went with was both well done and really interesting. Maas doesn’t let her audience down and delivers the grand and well executed world building that most have come to expect from her. I loved that she chose Fae mythology as her platform express her reimagined fairytale. She did a great job of making it simple and clear enough that it could be understood by everyone, despite typical fae legends being quite complex and confusing without lots of prior knowledge and/or explanation.

I loved everything about the romance. The pacing was well done, and the entire relationship was super sweet. I liked that there were flaws and struggles in it and it wasn’t a perfect fairy-tale romance. In fact, the day after I finished the book, I went back and re-read all the parts from when Feyre is at the castle. Twice. I re-read twice in a row, because I loved the romance so much. And I usually don’t like re-reading things!

The characters were pretty darn great too. Lucien was by far my favorite. He was witty and funny and the perfect addition to the cast and the story. Feyre was well done. I appreciated her growth as a character more than her over all personality. I mean I loved her personality, but it wasn’t as striking as her growth was. Tam was mediocre in my opinion, but I was much harsher on him when I read it the first time. I felt like he didn’t have much personality to him, but then when I started re-reading parts I realized that I actually really liked him and that I was wrong about the lack of personality. His personality does come out, but it tends to get a bit covered up because he has a protective and relatively mild-mannered personality and the other characters all have these big bold personalities that on occasion over power his. In the end though, I really did wish we got to know him a little bit better. Surprisingly Rhys became one of my favorites as well. By the end we got to see his character come out and he was mysterious and sultry and had so much turmoil going on. It was stunning.

I couldn’t agree more with Cait from Paper Fury on one thing about this book, which is that out of all the Sarah J. Maas books I’ve read it’s my least favorite. I still really liked it, but it just didn’t strike me like the Throne Of Glass books did. It didn’t have that jarring emotional impact that made me fangirl all over the place. (See Cait’s review here!)

My biggest and only major problem was that this is book one of a series! This makes me very upset. In my opinion this is one of those books that just has to be a stand alone. The ending is great and it wraps 99.9% of everything up flawlessly. There is just one question that could go on to be answered and it isn’t even important! Sure there are some residual issues that need to me solved, but they are the type of thing where we don’t’ really need to see them being solved. I can just imagine life going on for them and them fixing it. I have a feeling though, that if the ending had been styled just a tiny bit differently, I would be dying to read book #2, but the thing is that the ending made it feel like everything was finished. The story was over. Which yes that’s true, but I mean it in a way that the entire storyline itself is done, all the plot, the characters, everything. I don’t know if that makes any sense or if anyone agrees, but that was how I felt and it drove me nuts.

Last Words: All that being said, I really loved ACOTAR. It was enchanting and original while still remaining true to the original tale. The end of it was filled with action, intensity, and mystery. The world and legends spun by Maas were simply stunning and the romance does not disappoint. By the middle of the book I was utterly enamoured and I loved ever last word of ACOTAR. Despite my frustration that ACOTAR is the start of a series, I couldn’t help but enjoy myself when reading it and would recommend it to fans of Sarah J Maas, retellings, and romance alike.

I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to anyone willing to try.

Goodreads and Liberty Bay Books.

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Gif. Consensus:
can't stop 
An Epic Tale of Navigating The Mutual Friendzone

An Epic Tale of Navigating The Mutual Friendzone

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Better Off Friends

by Elizabeth Eulberg

For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.

Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated?

Better Off Friends was just the fun summer read I was looking for. It had the perfect balance of comedy, drama, and nerdy fun.

Cait from Paper Fury would appreciate the abundance of food. Macallan was always baking and her friends were always eating, the combination was perfect. Macallan and all of her friends were realistic and light hearted and  their families were actually in the picture! It was amazing, all of them were well developed and realistic. They actually seemed like real teens with real teen drama and problems, interests, and lives. Which made it a lot easier to connect with and relate to them. I loved every single one of the characters even the antagonists because they were so well done and nothing was black and white like it often is in fiction, intentions and actions get jumbled sometimes and not everything is as clear cut as it appears in media and this book’s characters reflected that.

I loved the way the book was formatted. To me, the way it was written and formatted is what made it as good as it was. Between the chapters that alternated POV, there were inserts with conversation between Macallan and Levi talking about what you just read in the last chapter. It was cool to read their thoughts looking back on their past and hearing and seeing all that how the other had at the time. It also added a lot of humor to the book and even had me chuckling (out loud!) at times.

The plot was well done, not too cheesy and dramatic, not too predictable. It was complex but not convoluted and flowed along beautifully.

Last Words: This book is as good as romantic comedy gets. It was a blast to read and perfectly satisfied my summer craving for something sweet and funny. It was surprisingly touching and actually had some pretty deep themes for being the fun and relatively short book it was. Heartwarming, and funny, with just the right amount of awkward, Better Off Friends  is the perfect YA read for romance snobs and grudging fans alike. So go on now, read it! You never know you might just love it.

I give it 4.5 stars out of 5.

Liberty Bay Books and Goodreads.

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Gif. Consensus: 

talktofood

Masks, Trials, and Rebels Oh My!

Masks, Trials, and Rebels Oh My!

emberintheashes  An Ember in The Ashes 

by Sabaa Tahir

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

***

Source: Liberty Bay Books

Format: Paperback ARC

***

I’m just going to skip all the formalities and get right down to business. Starting with what I didn’t like…

Laia: Let me preface this with something, I liked Laia…most of the time… My problem with Laia was that she had two extreme and contradictory sides to her personality. One minute she was the cowardly lion shaking in her boots and the next she was Mrs. calm cool and collected and was doing wild heroic stunts. At first I appreciated the fact that she wasn’t the outlandishly brave hearted heroine often seen in literature, but then I quickly realized that she was always one or the other, never a little bit of both. She was always hiding beneath the covers crying or charging into battle without a second thought. She had no balance or believable internal struggle between courage and cowardice. In the end this really took away from her character.

The other thing about her that I found was really tripping me up was her age. You can infer from the synopsis and most of the story that she is clearly in her teens. However, there were many times (mostly at the start) where she honestly gave the vibe of and sort of acted like a very young child. A lot of times when I honestly forgot that she wasn’t  a child. The age I pictured her as changed how the situation and the story came across at the time.

There was also a whole lot of this going on for people who barely knew one another…

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Romance: My biggest problem with the romance element of this one was not necessarily the love triangle situation (although that wasn’t my favorite). Really it was the fact that all the romantic interests seemed to spring out of nothing! Affections formed out of thin air and never really supported. The relationships never evolved, grew, or even seemed very real or serious. So I couldn’t really get on board with any of the possible ships.

Ending: The ending was one of the only times it got predictable and it all seemed a little generic-action-hero type of a thing. It just got a bit too dramatic for me and it wasn’t as satisfying as I wanted it to be after all that led up to it.

Now on to the things I did like…

Storyline: This storyline was one that was really unique and very rich. I know rich seems like a weird word to use here but it is the only way I can think of to describe it. It was full of life and dimension with all these different ideas layered and blended together.

Worldbuilding: For the most part the worldbuilding was pretty solid. There was no info-dumping so that was a plus, and I could easily picture myself as part of the world. I wished that it had had a little bit more of the everyday, normal life in that world stuff so that I could understand what life was like for everyone else and see the contrast to how it was for Laia, Elias, and the other prominent characters. I think it also would have helped me to better understand the way everything in that world worked. However, I want to make it clear that there were no problems because of this. The world was really great and there were no gaps or anything. My comment about wanting more was just me being nitpicky.

Plot: Despite it’s large size, the book moves along at a decent pace. Also, with the exception of some of the ending details, I didn’t see most of it coming. The book was always one step ahead, just enough to keep the interest going. Overall I was pretty happy with how it went down.

Characters: With the exception of my issue with Laia that I mentioned earlier, I really did enjoy the characters. For the most part they seemed well rounded.They all were well developed and multi-dimensional. Even the characters with smaller roles had distinct personalities, a fact which I really appreciated.   

Last Words: This was a fantastic, well rounded, and engaging tale. Tahir captures the audience’s attention and creates a world where imagination runs wild. I would highly recommend it to lovers of all genre. I give it four and a half stars out of five.

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