Reviews

Review: Beauty and the Clockwork Beast by Nancy Campbell Allen

Beauty and the Clockwork Beast
Beauty and the Clockwork Beast

(Steampunk Proper Romance #1)
by Nancy Campbell Allen
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Synopsis
Jane Eyre meets Beauty and the Beast. 

When Lucy Pickett arrives at Blackwell Manor to tend to her ailing cousin, Kate, she finds more than she bargained for. A restless ghost roams the hallways, werewolves have been reported in the area, and vampires lurk across the Scottish border. Lord Miles himself is clearly hiding a secret. He is brash and inhospitable, and does not take kindly to visitors—even one as smart and attractive as Miss Pickett. He is unsettled by the mysterious deaths of his new wife, Clara, and his sister, Marie. Working together, Miles and Lucy attempt to restore peace to Blackwell Manor. But can Lucy solve the mystery of Miles? Can she love the man-beast and all?

What I thought

I first saw this book as a suggestion on book depository but I really weary about it.  It’s not that I thought the idea sounded bad but the complete opposite.  This books takes two things that I absolutely love and combined them into one book.  Beauty and the Beast was always my favorite fairy tale since I was little and then the idea of adding steampunk elements I got so excited. So I had to take a step back because I just really hyped this book up and I realized that there was a bigger chance that I was going to be disappointed than not. So instead of buying the book I decided to check with my local library surprisingly they only had the audio version. So I added it to my wish list and waited about a month and went into this with really low expectations. A recent reading of a pride and prejudice retelling kind of solidified the thought of how much I may not like it.

I am very happy to say that I was surprised by how much I liked it.  I loved the characters and thought that Miles made a wonderful Beast.  He was not cruel, but had a good heart and that made me love the story that much more. I really loved the mystery element of this story.  This retelling has paranormal and steampunk elements and I felt that they were done very well. I loved how independent that Lucy is and how not once did have to rely on a man to save her, even though with this time period women are not seen as they can take care of themselves.   I love books that have strong women in them.

I would suggest this book to anyone that loves Beauty and the Beast and Steampunk.

My Rating: /5

4 Stars

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Review: The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton

The Price Guide to the Occult
The Price Guide to the Occult

by Leslye Walton
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Synopsis
When Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island more than a century ago, her otherworldly skills might have benefited friendlier neighbors. Guilt and fear instead led the island’s original eight settlers to burn “the witch” out of her home. So Rona cursed them. Fast-forward one hundred–some years: All Nor Blackburn wants is to live an unremarkable teenage life. She has reason to hope: First, her supernatural powers, if they can be called that, are unexceptional. Second, her love life is nonexistent, which means she might escape the other perverse side effect of the matriarch’s backfiring curse, too. But then a mysterious book comes out, promising to cast any spell for the right price. Nor senses a storm coming and is pretty sure she’ll be smack in the eye of it. In her second novel, Leslye Walton spins a dark, mesmerizing tale of a girl stumbling along the path toward self-acceptance and first love, even as the Price Guide’s malevolent author — Nor’s own mother — looms and threatens to strangle any hope for happiness.

What I thought
Price Guide to the Occult is a young adult urban fantasy stand alone novel. This book came out in the beginning of this year and since then I have heard more disappointing reviews than positive ones so even though I had already purchased it I was a little weary about reading it. I have learned this year that I need to trust in what I think I will like and not by what others reviews say. Since this sounded like something I would like I gave it a chance, and I am happy that I did. This may not have been the most action packed book but it was perfect for me when I read it.

The writing of this book is absolutely beautiful. This is the first book that I have read by this author but I am going to have to give her other book a chance just for the writing alone.  This story opens with a backstory that lays the ground work for the whole story. Yes the back story is important please do not skip it just because its before chapter 1. I am very happy you get this upfront instead of through out the story. It made everything make so much since from the beginning and there was no flipping back and forth trying to figure out what was happening.

I’m sorry I don’t have any really deep thoughts about this book and I am not going to go into too much detail due to the fact that it is a short book and would be very easy to spoil. This is not meant to be be a fast pace book, which is where I think most of the bad rep came from.  I read this coming out of a reading slump and it was the perfect time for me to read it.

There is a Trigger Warning for cutting and self harm.

If you are on the fence about reading the book because of all of the reviews I say you should give it a chance.

My Rating: /5

4 Stars

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Reviews

Review: Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe
Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe

by Melissa de la Cruz
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Synopsis
Darcy Fitzwilliam is 29, beautiful, successful, and brilliant. She dates hedge funders and basketball stars and is never without her three cellphones—one for work, one for play, and one to throw at her assistant (just kidding). Darcy’s never fallen in love, never has time for anyone else’s drama, and never goes home for Christmas if she can help it. But when her mother falls ill, she comes home to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the season with her family.

Her parents throw their annual Christmas bash, where she meets one Luke Bennet, the smart, sardonic slacker son of their neighbor. Luke is 32-years-old and has never left home. He’s a carpenter and makes beautiful furniture, and is content with his simple life. He comes from a family of five brothers, each one less ambitious than the other. When Darcy and Luke fall into bed after too many eggnogs, Darcy thinks it’s just another one night stand. But why can’t she stop thinking of Luke? What is it about him? And can she fall in love, or will her pride and his prejudice against big-city girls stand in their way?

What I thought
Okay I know this may not come across as well as I want it to.  So I am going to start by stating that I do like other books that this author has written and my biggest gripe with this book is that it’s supposed to be a retelling.  Maybe I hold Pride and Prejudice too high in my humble opinion but here we go.

I was so excited to read this book.  I mean a retelling from Darcy’s perspective. YES PLEASE SIGN ME UP!!!!

What made me even happier about reading this book is that I was buddy reading it with Brittany from Perfectly Tolerable. Please see her review here. So not only was I reading a retelling but I was going to get to gush about it. At least that was what I thought was going to happen.

So you have a character names Darcy and a character named Bingley, and this is where the similarities end. Now I do understand that this is a modernized retelling of the story and don’t get me wrong I am not a prude but within the first few chapters Darcy and Luke are all over each other. One thing I loved about Pride and Prejudice is the tension and the fact that there was back and forth and it was a huge build up. So in the first 30 pages that was shattered for me. However, I kept going because there had to be more to the story right…

Okay so everyone partnered up and resolved their issues in the first couple of chapters so something still had to happen. So because the characters are now confused about their feelings they go and get engaged to their ex’s that they really don’t like. The sure amount of things wrong there I wont even touch on.

There was a panic attack moment in the book that was handled poorly and Brittany spoke on it in her review so please do see her review for that.

I will only touch on one other thing that bothered me and that was how the parents were written in this retelling. I am not sure why that is but Luke Bennet’s parents are not in the picture at all, while Darcy’s parents are. So okay we are going to switch that part around but she has a horrible relationship with her dad…and this is why she has been gone for 8 years.  The petty way the father acted was horrible just in general not the writing but the actions.

I truly left this book not liking any of the characters or anything that happened in it.

My Rating: /52 stars

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Review: The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

The strange case of the Alchemists daughter
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter

by Theodora Goss
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Synopsis
Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes.

But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde, and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein.

When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous.

What I thought
“League of Extraordinary Gentlemen with ladies.”

How do I get my copy!!

This is how I heard this series described by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. You can see her booktube video here where she received the second book in this series from the publisher. I discover when I went to look up the video that I never finished that haul video.  Why you might ask well that is because I literally took my lunch break and drove to my local bookstore and picked up my copy.

So after I had my copy I realized that I now had really high expectations for this book and rarely do books live up to really high expectations. But I am happy to be able to say that this book not only lived up to those really high expectations but surpassed them.

When I began reading this story I noticed that the characters in the story have a going commentary regarding the manuscript.  To be honest I wasn’t sure how I felt about it in the beginning and I remember stopping and really thinking about how I felt about it. but in the end, I really loved it.  This approach really added another layer to the characters and made me love them more.

This book takes characters from multiple gothic stories and molds them all together. These women are true friendship goals. I love not just the mystery of the story but the friendships in this book are amazing.  I am not going to go into the plot very much because I think that not knowing more than that one tagline is what made it so very enjoyable for me.

I can not wait to pick up the next installment! Thanks to my local library they are getting it in for me. (Update: They called and they have it in for me!!!!)

About the Author

Theodora Goss is the World Fantasy and Locus Award-winning author of the short story collection In the Forest of Forgetting (2006); Interfictions (2007), a short story anthology coedited with Delia Sherman; Voices from Fairyland (2008), a poetry anthology with critical essays and a selection of her own poems; The Thorn and the Blossom (2012), a novella in a two-sided accordion format; the poetry collection Songs for Ophelia (2014); debut novel The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter (2017), and sequel European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman(2018). She has been a finalist for the Nebula, Crawford, Seiun, and Mythopoeic Awards, as well as on the Tiptree Award Honor List. Her work has been translated into twelve languages. She teaches literature and writing at Boston University and in the Stonecoast MFA Program. Visit her at theodoragoss.com.

My Rating: /5

5 Stars

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Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling.png
The Queen of the Tearling
by Erika Johansen
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Synopsis
Magic, adventure, mystery, and romance combine in this epic debut in which a young princess must reclaim her dead mother’s throne, learn to be a ruler—and defeat the Red Queen, a powerful and malevolent sorceress determined to destroy her.

On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend . . . if she can survive.

What I thought
The Queen of the Tearling is the first book in a young adult fantasy trilogy. Upon coming of age Kelsea must claim her mothers throne from her uncle. She has been in hiding for the majority of her life so that one day she can take the throne.

This book has been sitting on my shelf for a few years and I actually moved it to a stack of not sure if I want to keep them. While looking at these books I decided to give it a try thinking that there was a good chance that I would end up DNFing it and moving on. With no guilt giving it away. Now you may be asking why in the world did I buy this book if it was just going to end up at that point.  Well, I found it in a bargain section (a huge weakness that I am trying to overcome) and was so happy to read it at the time, but then I started seeing so many negative reviews then I became afraid to pick it up.

So things that I heard were around the world not being good and the main character being bland and so on.  I point this out because I am going to explain my feeling about both of these facts.

This is a fantasy book with a medieval feel setting but as you go through the story you see that it’s also an apocalyptic/dystopian setting.  You learn of some event that happened and how people were leaving America and so on so I think that the actual setting was more complicated than what some people understood due to them taking it at face value.  This world was not laid out in one big chunk but in small bites throughout the entire book.

Our main character Kelsea I absolutely loved. she is not your everyday perfect princess and I found that so refreshing. Kelsea is a very smart girl and she loves books. She is described as looking plain and she states at one point that she needed to start exercising because she was putting on some weight but it was not shaming but stated as oh now that I am sitting all the time I am gaining weight and I should start exercising again.  She also decides that since her kingdom is going to be fighting another kingdom that she needs to get a sword and defend herself too.  She does not leave everything up to everyone else to do for her.  I found her to be very refreshing.

So long story short I really enjoyed this book.  And I learned that maybe I should not let negative hype make the decision for me.

I wanted to go into this review not to dispute what I heard but to let people know that even though people say one thing you might see it very differently.  If you have been on the fence due to reviews give it a shot.

My Rating: /5

4.5 stars

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Review: Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger

Waistcoats & Weaponry
Waistcoats & Weaponry

by Gail Carriger
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Synopsis
Sophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style—with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a fashionable choice of weapon comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland.

No one suspected what—or who—they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all.

What I thought
This was a re-read for me, the first time I consumed this book was as an audiobook from my local library. Anyone out there looking for audio books and can’t afford a subscription I would check out the apps Overdrive and Libby and connect up with your local Library.  Anyway at some point this year I decided that I wanted to read the books from Gail Carriger’s Parasolverse in chronological order. This leads me to start the journey of the Parasolverse Read-Along in August 2018. If you would like more information about the read-along please visit my post about it here. At the beginning of each month, I will have a brief read-along post go up letting you know what the book for that month is. Now on to why you are really reading this post.

Waistcoats & Weaponry is the third book in the Finishing School Series. This world is a blend of paranormal, steampunk, and some romance. I love this world so much! It’s like someone sat down and took everything that I love and put it all together. Sophronia has now been at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing School for Girls of Quality for sit months and it is now time for a review.

I am not going to say anything about the plot because I do not want to spoil anything from the previous books.  I really love the world that these books live in.  No matter how I am feeling these books always make me smile and laugh. They are so wonderful that way.

“Oh, Pill, I really would like to help, but we seem to be in the middle of some kind of whose-top-hat-is-the-biggest contest.”

As this world blossoms so does these characters. They grow so wonderfully. With each book I find myself liking each one more for different reasons.  She grows each character in their own direction and yet they all work as a whole.  I am not sure that makes much sense.  I have tried to explain that a few different ways over the last few days and I just can’t seem to get the words out. This friend group is true friendship goals.

Sophronia learns how to use most amazing intelligencer accessory a bladed fan.  Sorry, I had to mention it, and it’s on the cover so not really a spoiler.

I so want one!!!

I found this image by going to Gail’s page by going to merch.  You can find this here.

soph fan.PNG

As I have probably said already I really recommend these books I just love them and they always make me feel better when I’m reading them.

My Rating: /5

5 Stars

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Review: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Sky in the Deep
Sky in the Deep
by Adrienne Young
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Synopsis
Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

What I thought
Sky in the Deep is a young adult historical Viking age inspired fantasy novel. This is an amazing standalone novel. Yes even with that ending it is a verified standalone. Eelyn an Aska warrior believes she saw her brother die in a battle five years ago.  Now when in combat with a Riki clan she sees her brother fighting on the battlefield with the enemy. Eelyn is captured by the Riki’s and now hows to decide how to forgive her brother and whether or not to trust Fiske.

“Ond Eldr
Breath Fire.”

I received this book in the May 2018 Owl Crate box and I was on the fence whether or not I wanted to read it.  Some days it sounded so good and other I was meh. All in all, I am very happy that I gave this book a chance. It really surprised me how much I liked it. I am really impressed with Adrienne Young’s writing especially since this was a debut novel. I am not a person that is big on a lot of companion novels but I will have to check out what she has coming up next year.  Since its going to be a companion novel I really hope that it focuses on Fiske. I just need more.

Vegr yfir fjor.
Honor above life.”

If I am being honest I was on the fence about how I felt about this book until the last fourth. That last fourth was just remarkable. Such a good balance of action and romance. I also am a sucker for Hate to love is the one trope I can never get enough of. Adrienne Young did not hold back on the gore in this book. So if you are not very good with that you may want to be careful reading this book. I cringed more than once.

I don’t normally do this but I have included the book trailer.

Enjoy!

My Rating: /55 Stars

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