January Love Stacks Giveaway

January Love Stacks Giveaway

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What better way to start off the new year than with a giveaway and some of my favorite books? I loved them so much that one of them even made it onto my top 5 reads of 2015 list.

If you’re new to my Love Stacks giveaways, here is a little bit about them: Love Stacks giveaways are monthly giveaways hosted by me, using gently loved ARC copies provided by Liberty Bay Books. The giveaways are open to entries for the entire duration of the month, and it is possible for an individual to win multiple different months’ prizes. All winners are chosen randomly by Rafflecopter. Winners MUST BE U.S. RESIDENTS.

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Winnings Include:

Good luck and happy reading!
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A Truly Epic Tale

A Truly Epic Tale

letterking

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

Add it on Goodreads

Buy it from Liberty Bay Books

 

Love Hurts, Accidents Happen, and Dolls are Creepy

Love Hurts, Accidents Happen, and Dolls are Creepy

 accident season cover The Accident Season

by Moira Fowley-Doyle

It’s the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.

The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara’s life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara’s family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items – but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.

But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?

I still can’t quite figure out how I feel about this book. It is unique for sure and sent shivers up my spine, but for some inexplicable reason, I didn’t quite connect with it as deeply as one would hope.

The storyline was truly one of a kind, I haven’t even heard of any other book like this. It is a wonderfully fantastical concept, and I’d love to know what inspired it. This book turned out to have so many more dimensions to it than I thought it would after reading the synopsis. It was so eerie. I had no idea it was going to go so far in that direction, but I was very happy it took that turn for the better.

The creep factor was very well done. The Accident Season was full of magic and mystery and intrigue, all of my favorite things. The entire book was spine tingling and filled with beautiful yet haunting scenes that had me checking over my shoulder everywhere I went.

The characters were kind of impossible not to love as a group. They were all really well written for each other and their closeness was really sweet and refreshing to read about. You have the sisters Cara and Alice and their “ex-step brother” Sam, and then their best friend Bea. I loved how this book and this set of characters really showed some amazing messages about family not always being by blood.

The romance was sweet, but not really a favorite of mine. It was done realistically and was well founded and such, but there were moments of it that kind of annoyed me for some reason. Maybe because of the predictability and all the moments where you figure something out before the characters do and are left sitting there rolling your eyes. There wasn’t enough of these incidents to ruin the book for me or anything, but the romance plot held quite a few of them, enough to get on my nerves and keep me from totally and completely loving it.

Unfortunately, the plot occasionally fell pray to the same predictability problems. Thankfully, it was never in too big of a way. It never ruined any big moments, so I guess I’ll have to forgive and forget.

The writing was sweepingly beautiful, and did a great job of weaving together deep emotions and messages with fin, magic, and mystery. Like the book, the writing was both stunning and one of a kind. It was full of absolutely amazing imagery and passion that tugs at your heartstrings.

Last Words: This book is brimming with magic, mystery, and thrill. It is a truly fantastical tale written with deeply impassioned writing that will whisk you away into a unique and eldritch world, that unfortunately I still don’t completely understand. Maybe that is why I didn’t quite connect with it as solidly as I would have liked to, there were still a few holes for me and I prefer a complete pictured. Other than that and the predictability I found this book to be absolutely stunning and a veritable powerhouse. I’d definitely recommend it because it is so one of a kind and pretty much indescribable, it is definitely one have to read for yourself, and with an open mind. I gave it a solid four out of five stars.

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Goodreads and Liberty Bay Books.

Gif. Consensus:

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The Review I Never Saw Coming

The Review I Never Saw Coming

thewrathandthedawn

The Wrath & The Dawn 

by Renee Ahdieh 

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

I was absolutely shocked when I realized that this book wasn’t quite the pile of crap I was bracing myself for. Despite hearing nothing good about it, I decided to follow through with reading it. I love 1,001 Arabian Nights and I was terrified that this book would ruin all that, which in some ways it did, but in many ways it didn’t.

It was interesting because it wasn’t just a retelling of 1,001 Arabian Nights, it was also reminiscent of Beauty and The Beast. It was an interesting approach, not just because of this but also because it ventured to answer why the King committed such heinous acts. I appreciated what it was trying to do even if I had my issues with it.

One issue I had was how Ahdieh approached the whole plot of 1,001 Arabian Nights was the execution of Shazi’s stories. It was difficult because I couldn’t help but think, I am reading this whole story in less than five minutes and yet an entire night has supposedly gone by in the book? I get that I wouldn’t want to read a whole 8+ hour long story in the middle of the frame story, but something about the logic of it all bothered me.

Speaking of logic issues, it was a bit hard to believe that Shazi almost completely changed her mind about Khalid when she started off with so much hatred. However, I am a firm supporter of Shazi+Khalid. I thought they were very cute together and their feelings for eachother weren’t a sudden as people had told me. You see some of Shazi’s confliction in her thoughts and the reasons behind them in the time leading up to her complete change of mind/feelings. Maybe all that could have been a little bit better executed, but it wasn’t terrible in my opinion, but that was because of how I read/interpreted it. Like most things in this business, this is highly subjective.

The only real issue I had with any of the characters was the fact that by the end of the book Shazi wasn’t the strong, fierce woman I’d grown to love. Sure she had her moments, but then she turned into a sniveling mess! I get that she was hurt (emotionally) but she was so dramatic and her pain was so drawn out and she handled it in such a weepy helpless way, it got old fast and didn’t fit her earlier personality/character. I did love almost all of the characters the rest of the time though. Jalal and Despina were my absolute favorite! So much sass and charisma! It was fantastic!

I’ll be honest I hated all the sections from Tariq’s point of view. I didn’t like him and his part in the love triangle at all and all the early sections involving him seemed like such a drag in comparison to the rest of what was going on. I don’t really know what it was in particular about those sections that I didn’t like, but I deeply detested it nonetheless.

I both loved the writing, but it also bothered me some for the very same reasons I loved it. Crazy, I know. Ahdieh’s writing was impressively rich and filled with descriptive language and imagery. It was the definition of lush and at first, striking. However, there were times as the tale went on that it felt like Ahdieh was trying way too hard with it all, and there were other times when I felt like there was just SO much going on and being described that I couldn’t take it all in like I wanted to. For the most part though, I really did enjoy the writing.

The plot was fairly well done. It was getting really intricate and intense towards the end and it had some really cool twists that I didn’t see coming. However, I have to admit I was EXTREMELY confused by the last (roughly) two pages. I even reread it because I was so confused about what had happened in between Shazi’s POV and Khalid’s POV at the very end. It didn’t make any more sense to me the second time around. So if you read this book and you understood please email me and explain it all (readerwritercritic.blog@gmail.com). I’m begging you. I want to understand so badly.

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Last Words: Despite the logic flaws that abound in this tale it was rich and ripe with culture, magic, and mystery. It you let the strong and feisty characters, clever plot twists and poetic romance sweep you away, any leaps in logic or holes in the plot seem meaningless. It’s a book readers either love or hate, with no in between, so I can’t say I’d recommend really. All I can say is if it sounds good to you, read it, if it sounds terrible, then don’t read it. I just ask that if you choose to try it, you try it with an open mind, otherwise there is no way you’ll enjoy it. I give it a tumultuous three out of five stars.

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Goodreads and Liberty Bay Books.

Gif. Consensus:
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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:
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