Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Review: Hunted by Megan Spooner

Release date: March 14, 2017
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 384
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided for review through Edelweiss
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them. 

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance. 

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?
Though I love the Starbound series Meagan writes with Amie Kaufman, I haven't read any of her solo books, so I didn't quite know what to expect coming into Hunted. However, I'd seen a few friends raving and Beauty and the Beast is my favorite, so I was excited to try Meagan's adaptation. I'm even more excited to say that I loved it!

Hunted reminded me of one of my favorite author's Beauty and the Beast retellings: Robin McKinley. She has two: Beauty and Rose Daughter. I love them because they're lyrical, dark (more so in the case of Rose Daughter), and compelling. Hunted evokes a lot of the same moodiness, and it works more in the vein of the traditional fairy tales, hitting more complicated notes and emotions, giving the reader more to interpret and less to be told. While I don't always prefer my retellings this way, I do find the ones that strike those chords to be more resonant and stay with me longer.

Yeva is just the kind of girl we can get behind. She wants more from her life than what she's been offered, but she recognizes her duty to her family. She's actually happier in many ways when her father loses his fortune and her family is forced to live in a hunting cabin in the middle of nowhere. Her being different isn't as noticeable, and she can hunt. Her desire to hunt the Beast is understandable, and when she finally understands him and begins to soften, it makes sense.

However, Hunted isn't going to read like I think many people want from a Beauty and the Beast retelling. It's not overly romantic, there's no dancing, and our Beast is often more beastly that we're used to in our recent retellings. For me, this works, but I don't think it will work for everyone. Hunted reads more like an adult high fantasy in a lot of ways, so it's not going to appeal to every YA reader.

From the beginning of Hunted, I was entranced by the gorgeous writing and new yet familiar take on my favorite fairy tale. I was rewarded with a thoroughly beautiful story that reminded me of some of my favorite books, and a new hope that Meagan Spooner will write more books like this! (I'm happy with her sci-fi, but more fantasy, please?)


About the author:

Meagan Spooner grew up reading and writing every spare moment of the day, while dreaming about life as an archaeologist, a marine biologist, an astronaut. She graduated from Hamilton College in New York with a degree in playwriting, and has spent several years since then living in Australia. She’s traveled with her family all over the world to places like Egypt, South Africa, the Arctic, Greece, Antarctica, and the Galapagos, and there’s a bit of every trip in every story she writes.

She currently lives and writes in Asheville, North Carolina, but the siren call of travel is hard to resist, and there’s no telling how long she’ll stay there.

In her spare time she plays guitar, plays video games, plays with her cat, and reads.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Review: Gilded Cage by Vic James

Release date: February 14, 2017
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher provided for review
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.

Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England's grandest estate lies a power that could break the world. 

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England's most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family's secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price? 

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi's brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution. 

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?
As soon as I read the synopsis for Gilded Cage, I was excited. Even as it sounded a bit like all the dystopian books that came out a few years ago, I loved the idea of it being set in an alternate modern day England. However, I quickly became, honestly, kind of bored with the book.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly what doesn't work, but I think the biggest thing is that almost nothing really hits you. There's a lot packed into the book. A lot of characters. A lot of points of view. A lot of things that could be really interesting, but that aren't developed enough to give them the punch they need. Part of the problem is that we're switching point of view every chapter, and we're following stories in a couple of different places. Just when moments start to gain real momentum, the chapter ends and we're shifted to another part of the story. By the time we get back to that character, the momentum is gone. You have to play catch up.

This is worst with Luke's chapters. His involvement with the rebellion quickly becomes the most interesting storyline, but his is the only point of view involved that we get. While I see why the other POVs are involved, I could have done with a book that follows only Luke and probably been happier reading. Otherwise, I think the only other character that interested me was Silyen. Because his motives are completely inscrutable, you don't know what he's going to do. Maybe give me Luke and Silyen?

The romance is also a little upsetting. Abi is a slave. Jenner, even without any powers, is her master. Romance here is just a no. It gives me the icks and I don't like it. It also feels a lot like instalove; even though a lot of time passes that I'm sure they spend a lot of time together, we see very little of it, so their "attraction" feels baseless.

I'm sad not to have liked Gilded Cage because I was so excited by the premise. I'll probably give a look to the sequel when it comes out later this year, because I'm curious, but my interest may not go any farther. I read the whole book, but it was hard to get through for me, honestly.


About the author:

Vic lives in London’s Notting Hill, but her life is more action-adventure than rom-com.

She studied History and English at Merton College, Oxford where Tolkien was once professor. Relocating to Rome, she completed her doctorate in the Vatican Secret Archives (they’re nothing like The Da Vinci Code), then spent five years living in Tokyo where she learned Japanese and worked as a journalist. She now writes full time.

Vic has scuba-dived on Easter Island, camped at Everest Base Camp, voyaged on one of the last mailboats to St Helena, hang-glided across Rio de Janeiro, and swum the Hellespont from Europe to Asia. But there’s little she loves more than lying in bed till midday with a good book and a supply of her favourite biscuits.

Monday, April 3, 2017

March Recap (and a Little of February?)

Weeeeeell, I fell off the face of the earth again! I may not be doing the best with the whole working/school/blogging thing... I do try, but I find it hard at times to muster enthusiasm for getting on the computer and typing things up, especially after I've just finished an assignment. I'm reading, yet I'm not reviewing. So this should be an interesting recap!

What books did I get?

Considering this is two months, I feel no shame! I actually did buy a couple more Saturday, but that was the 1st of April, so that'll go in next month's. Muahahahaha.


Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts
Vanguard by Ann Aguirre
Wesley James Ruined My Life by Jennifer Honeybourn
The End of Our Story by Meg Haston

These are my review books! And all but one came in February,  I believe. I have a coworker I'll be passing Mutant Mantis Lunch Ladies to, because she has a son who I think would enjoy it, and it's just not my style.


Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray
Caraval by Stephanie Garber

This is ALL I purchased, y'all! I had the benefit of a Disney trip looming, so I could hold myself back in buying books. I've literally already bought this many books in the month of April, so the next recap won't show such restraint.


Also, my copies of Caraval and A Million Worlds With You are from the Stephanie Garber signing in New Orleans I went to on Valentine's Day! She was so sweet and charming, and it was a really fun signing. I happened to see Claudia Gray tweet about being at the signing, so I brought a couple of her books I hadn't had signed yet and actually bought this last one at the bookstore, was totally creepy, and asked her to sign them for me! She was SO nice and seemed happy to do so. I was kind of sad that the only copy they had had been signed already, but I got it personalized, so that's okay. :)



And finally, books I won! I so rarely win things, so I was excited, and I've been interested in these books from the get-go. Plus, I won them from Becky! :D

What did I post?

This is going to be amusing, since this is representative of two months...


I said I did badly in my January recap, but I think this one wins. 

What did I read?

This is less embarrassing!

The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman
This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron
Mad Miss Mimic by Sarah Henstra
Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
The Danger of Desire by Sabrina Jeffries
Gilded Cage by Vic James
A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray
Starfall by Melissa Landers
Hunted by Meagan Spooner
The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye
The Truth Above Love and Dukes by Laura Lee Guhrke

Currently reading: Perfect by Cecelia Ahern
Favorite of February: Tie between Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Devil in Spring, but I also really loved The Dark Days Pact!
Favorite of March: Hunted

What will I read?

I didn't put together a picture for my TBR this month, because I'm planning on getting through a bunch of eARCs, if possible. Once my copy of Rebels Rising comes, I'll read that for sure, but otherwise, I'm going to focus on digital books because there are SO many backed up. Here are a few I'd like to get to, though:



What am I doing?

School and work. School and work. School and work. That's pretty much it! In February, we did take our trip to Disney World that I'd been so looking forward to. However, I got sick the second day we were there and it really put a damper on the trip. I kept going but... I definitely puked a lot.

I have seen Beauty and the Beast a total of 5 times at this point, so I've spent my fair share of time seeing that. I really love the adaptation!

It's my birthday this month! I'm excited because I love my birthday, but I'm not excited about turning 25. I think I wanted to be somewhere else in life than I am by this point. But I'm okay with things, really, especially being in grad school.


That's it for now! I'm going to go actually schedule some reviews now, so we'll have some real content this month!