Book Review: You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

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Katie and Eric Knox have dedicated their lives to their fifteen-year-old daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful. But when a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community just weeks before an all-important competition, everything the Knoxes have worked so hard for feels suddenly at risk. As rumors swirl among the other parents, revealing hidden plots and allegiances, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself drawn, irresistibly, to the crime itself, and the dark corners it threatens to illuminate. From a writer with “exceptional gifts for making nerves jangle and skin crawl,” (Janet Maslin) You Will Know Me is a breathless rollercoaster of a novel about the desperate limits of desire, jealousy, and ambition.

review

I’ve heard a lot of mixed things about Megan Abbott’s books, it seems people either love them or hate them……I loved it! I will definitely be looking forward to reading more of her books now!

This will be a shorter review than normal because I’m not really sure what to expand on in a book like this without revealing too much!

PLOT

I’d like to call this book a thriller but it really isn’t it’s more of a family drama that has some murder mystery/thriller vibes. It’s just so suspenseful and addictive I could not put this book down once I got into it, it was almost hard to remember this was the story of one family at times. There definitely isn’t a lack of drama here!

The writing in this book, as I said, is just so addictive it was amazing how Abbott could take something potentially tedious such as a family’s every day routine and make it so suspenseful! Everything from Katie’s marriage concerns to the viciousness of gymnastics and the rumors that accompany both was made to feel way more terrifying. The pacing almost goes at break-neck speed, there was rarely a dull moment in this book.

There was also a fair share of plot twists that I honestly did not see coming, sure I saw some of them coming but definitely not all of them. So many secrets and lies, there are characters manipulating at every turn! However, there was so much more to it than a simple murder. Abbott really delves into the characterizations and into how the messy minds of teenage girls work and that’s honestly what drives the story the most. I would say this book is really about people politics.

Also just on a side note I really enjoyed the gymnastics aspect of the story and loved how big of a role it played throughout.

characters

While I did think the characters were pretty good in this book I also didn’t really LIKE any of them which I feel like Abbott was actually going for. They fight dirty, keep secrets, manipulate, and even refuse to see what’s right in front of them, this book really showed that there’s bad in everyone.

I think the characters with the most personality would have to be Katie and her son Drew, they were more interesting to read about since they usually had other things going on. Whereas, Eric and Devon were almost fully focused on gymnastics. I have to say though that Drew was the smartest person in the entire story, he knew EXACTLY what was going on but without full knowing what it was. The child knew and all of the adults didn’t. Just saying.

in conclusion

What I Loved:

  • The strong plot with plenty of drama, twists, and turns
  • The writing was downright addictive
  • Fast pacing and never a dull moment

What I Didn’t Love

  • Some of the plot twists were predictable
  • I didn’t really care a whole lot for the characters

RECOMMEND

I definitely recommend checking this book out especially if you’re into mystery/thrillers or family dramas because it’s a bit of both.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

ARC Review: The Hundredth Queen (The Hundredth Queen #1) by Emily R. King

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As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.

But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.

Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda has only one hope for escape, and it lies in an arcane, forbidden power buried within her.

review

****Big thank you to Skyscape and Amazon Publishing for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review****

Wow, let me just say I am pleasantly surprised with how much I ended up enjoying this book! It has every element I love in a YA fantasy and I honestly cannot wait for the rest of the series now!

PLOT

Of course it’s easy to think with the description of this book that it would be something similar to “The Wrath & The Dawn” or even “The Star-Touched Queen” and while there are some similarities it’s still very unique. I would still say that if you were a fan of either you will probably enjoy “The Hundredth Queen” as well!

I really enjoyed the world building a lot, I liked how every aspect of the lore we were introduced to was incorporated into the plot. I also never felt overwhelmed or confused when information on the world was provided, no info-dumps here! The mythology was probably my favorite part about this story since it ended up playing a major part and was just so fascinating to learn about.

I found the magic system to be pretty unique and actually reminded me a lot of Avatar: The Last Airbender since each element is represented, that’s probably why I loved it so much……

While the pacing wasn’t necessarily slow in the beginning it was a little bit harder for me to get into since there was a bit of insta-love that really put me off. However, once I got a little bit further in I was completely engrossed in this story! There were many twists and turns that I honestly did not see coming and I felt like there was definitely plenty of action and fast pacing to keep me turning pages.

The rank tournaments themselves were actually pretty brutal too, there definitely wasn’t any sugar-coating this aspect of the story which I liked since I feel YA authors always try to get out of or gloss over any sort of violence in their novels. Not that I’m some blood-thirsty, horrible person! It’s just I get tired of books promising fights to the death and then not delivering.

I also liked the way females were represented in the story as well as female relationships. There is a bit of girl-on-girl hate at the beginning of the story but I promise you it isn’t what it seems as it changes as the story progresses. I appreciated how the author would point out the wrongness of the way women were treated and how they sometimes treated each other in this world as well and how our heroine, Kalinda, also frowned upon any negative treatment of women and would intervene. The women in this story are honestly total badasses and I loved it! Although I will say I wish the few positive relationships between females would have been shown a lot more.

I was also really impressed with the writing and it was hard to believe this was a debut novel, everything flowed so well! Simple and easy to read overall, which sometimes is just perfect.

characters

The characters in this book were actually very enjoyable, all of them! Once again, I was pretty surprised by how well I thought a lot of them developed and the levels of complexity a few of them had. I have to admit I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with these characters but I love to be proved wrong in this case!

Kalinda was the perfect protagonist, in my opinion. She was brave and loyal but also had her moments where her courage would fail her, she wasn’t perfect. I also really liked how she wasn’t some “super skilled special snowflake” (that’s a bit of a tongue twister, huh?), she had skill but she definitely wasn’t as skilled as lot of the other characters. I think maybe the best word to describe how I felt about Kalinda’s character was “heart-warming” because everything she did, said, or felt just gave me tingles because she was just so realistic and down to earth!

The secondary characters were all well done too, I felt like I knew so many of them even though they were only around for a few sentences! I loved how many were also not just by-standers and we got to see so many of them grow and develop throughout the story.

As I mentioned earlier I really liked all of the female relationships in this book but especially the friendship between Kalinda and Jaya. Honestly, I wished there was more shown between those two because I feel YA could really use more positive female friendships like this one!

romance

The only real problem I had with the romance was that there was some heavy insta-love at the beginning but overall I did like it and felt that Kalinda and Deven made a great couple. Was it anything super special or impressive? No, not really but like I said I did enjoy it so that’s all that really matters.

Plus it doesn’t hurt that Deven is a pretty swoon-worthy love interest. He treated Kalinda right and I’m all for a good guy love interest!

in conclusion

What I Loved:

  • The world building and mythology
  • Kalinda was a great female protagonist
  • The writing flowed well and was easy to follow
  • The plot was fast-paced, action-packed, with plenty of twists
  • Kalinda and Jaya’s friendship

What I Didn’t Love:

  • There was some girl-on-girl hate (which is never okay although in this story it was overcome)
  • Insta-love relationship (even though I did come to like them together)
  • I wish Kalinda and Jaya’s friendship would have been shown a lot more and maybe some more of the female relationships as well

RECOMMEND

I definitely recommend checking this book out especially if you’re looking for something a little similar to “The Wrath & The Dawn”!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

ARC Review: Alice (The Wanderland Chronicles #1) by J.M. Sullivan

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Ever since the outbreak of the Plague, life hasn’t been easy, and for seventeen-year-old Alice Carroll, it just got worse. Her sister, Dinah, has contracted the ‘un-deadly’ Momerath Virus and without a cure, will soon be worse than dead. She’ll be momerath.

Alice must leave the safety of the Sector and venture into Momerath Territory to find the antidote – if it exists. Chasing a rumor about a mysterious doctor with the cure, Alice falls down the rabbit hole into Wanderland, where ravenous momerath aren’t the only danger lurking.

review

****Big thank you to Pen Name Publishing for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!****

I’d also just like to quickly say the only reason I picked this book up was because of my blogger buddy Ariana @ The Quirk Book Nerd’s review! Please go check it out because it’s much more convincing than mine!

So this is a horror/dystopian/zombie-filled Alice in Wonderland retelling, did that grab your attention? If you like any of those things than seriously check this book out because it has all of those things and more! I know I personally love all of those things and I definitely thought this book was such a fun, entertaining read.

PLOT

As I said this is an Alice in Wonderland retelling that is combined with a post apocalyptic world filled with zombie-esque plague victims. It’s sort of a wide variety of genres all mashed together and it WORKS! The pacing is very fast and there is a ton of action, it’s practically non-stop action and it sucks you in completely!

Another factor that helped contribute to the immersive-ness of the story was the writing, I was actually really impressed with this considering it’s Sullivan’s debut novel. Her writing is very descriptive and just gave you such a REAL feel of the action, suspense, and terror of things happening throughout the book. However, I did have some moments where I felt it was TOO descriptive since I’m the type of person that relies heavily on dialogue, but I did still like all of the action scenes!

I also really loved the unique twist on the “zombies” which are called Momeraths and are sort of a combination between zombies and mutated humans (very reminiscent of the Fallout video game series actually). What the plague and Momeraths reminded me of a lot though was the Resident Evil franchise, I could not help but think of that series the entire time while reading plus it helps that both heroines are named Alice…… So if you’re a fan then you’ll definitely enjoy this story!

The world building was also really great and unique while also still retaining elements of the original Wonderland story. It was a TON of fun finding all of the allusions to the original and getting to journey through this darker, grittier version! I would have maybe liked a bit more world building overall but I’m hoping I’ll get that in the sequel.

characters

I did enjoy a lot of the characters and they actually had quite a bit of personality and development throughout the book. I was definitely impressed with them! I wasn’t fully convinced by Alice’s character immediately but by the end of the book I was fully persuaded to LOVE her! I loved watching her grow from being a more fearful girl to this total badass, which like I said really shows the great character development. She felt very real as well with fears and weaknesses, it made her more relatable in my opinion.

Some of my other favorite characters would have to be Dr. Abbot, Chess, and the Red Queen they also played really true to their Wonderland characters and were just so much fun to read about! I really love when secondary characters have this much personality!

romance

I was actually very surprised that there wasn’t a super prominent romance in this book, and it was a PLEASANT surprise! While there is a bit of a love triangle feel to it since there are two potential suitors for Alice I really liked how she never really let any feelings distract her from her main goal: saving her sister. Seriously, what a relief that we have a YA heroine not letting boys get in the way of the main plot-line!

I also really enjoy both love interests too…..

in conclusion

I was overall VERY impressed with how thrilling, fun, unique, and interesting “Alice” was! I’m such a sucker for darker retellings though so it’s not too much of a surprsie that I really liked this one.

What I Loved:

  • The setting/world building with dark “Wonderland” and zombies
  • The writing was very descriptive
  • Lots of fast pacing and action scenes!
  • Loved the characters and how well they developed throughout
  • Very fun to pick out the allusions to the original Alice in Wonderland

What I Didn’t Love:

  • Felt a little too descriptive at times, could have used more dialogue
  • The world could have been a little more developed

I definitely recommend giving this book a try especially if you’re a fan of retellings with dark, gritty twists and anything reminiscent of the Resident Evil franchise!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon 

Book Review: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

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Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair…

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

review

Let me just say that YOU WILL CRY! This story isn’t the happy, fun Neverland that we all know it’s a dark, dispiriting one but all at once the best word to describe this book is beautiful.

PLOT

This story is about Tiger Lily and Peter Pan’s relationship but mostly it’s about Tiger Lily as a person and there’s also a lot more to it than just that. This book has a very unique narrative style as it’s told from the perspective of Tinkerbell as she follows different characters around and can read their thoughts. I found that having Tink narrate added a LOT more insight into each character than we would have gotten with a different point of view.

We start the story with Tiger Lily at a younger age and watch as she grows and Tink notices that Tiger Lily is a lot different from the people of her tribe and therefore doesn’t quite fit in. There are many different events that come into play (I don’t want to spoil anything!) but ultimately everything pushes Tiger Lily towards Peter and from there we watch how things play out with the different characters on the island. There are quite a few twists in the story that I hate to say are pretty heart-wrenching but overall add so much complexity, all the little threads weaving together.

Like I mentioned right away this isn’t a happy story and Neverland isn’t the care-free place we have seen before, it’s a very dark and sad place full of flawed and broken people. Many things that occur in the plot are deeply saddening, once again I’ll tell you YOU WILL CRY!

The pacing is very slow in this book but it isn’t out of place here and I didn’t mind it at all. “Tiger Lily” is very much a character driven story and is not action packed by any means but I feel a faster pacing would tell a completely different story than the wonderful one we already got.

And that writing! It’s absolutely gorgeous! Jodi Lynn Anderson managed to write something that’s just so beautiful, heart-wrenching, and magical all at the same time. The writing is wonderfully descriptive and just fit the story perfectly.

I also just have to add for any Peter Pan fan (like myself) there are a bunch of very fun twists on things from the original story!

characters

I think it’s easy to say the characters are the best part of this story, everyone is very complex and has so much personality. Everyone is flawed in their own ways but they all also have their own strengths.

Tiger Lily is such a wonderful protagonist she’s strong, brave, and fearless but she’s also incredibly lonely. She has the complete acceptance of only a few people in her tribe such as Tik Tok, her foster father, and her friends Pine Sap and Moon Eye yet she still feels very alone. Tiger Lily is also more capable of doing things the men of her tribe do versus the things the women do and I loved that she could care less in this matter what people think. Girl power!

Peter himself is as lonely as Tiger Lily in some ways but he’s still a bit of the mischievous boy we all know and love.

We also get to see some different spins on the Lost Boys, Wendy Darling, Captain Hook, and even Smee.

romance

I’m extremely torn about the romance! On one hand a big part of the story is Tiger Lily and Peter’s relationship and I loved it but on the other hand I’ll always be a lover of Peter and Wendy…..

To be fair though I loved how Tiger Lily and Peter’s brokeness drew them together and their interactions were heart-warming at times but also they did have a lot of problems. They weren’t meant for long-term, they’re too unstable and dispirited for each other. They both needed people more encouraging and stable for themselves.

I did like how their romance ended up but also at the same time it DESTROYED ME!

in conclusion

I loved the story and don’t really have to much to complain about but at the same time it just seems to be more of a four star read for me than a five star read.

What I Loved:

  • The complexity of the characters
  • Tinkerbell’s narrative style
  • The relationships/romances
  • The plot twists and events (even though the wrecked me)
  • The references to the original Peter Pan tale
  • The writing is beautiful

What I Didn’t Like:

  • A certain thing that occurs at the very end…it ruined me
  • I wish it had been longer
  • I would have liked more insight and story time with Captain Hook, Wendy, and The Lost Boys

RECOMMEND

I highly recommend reading this book, period. If you love retellings, read this book. If you love Peter Pan, read this book. If you’re looking for a story that is both parts beautiful and heart-wrenching, read this book.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

Book Review: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

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The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust.

And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.

Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it’s clear that Minnow knows something—but she’s not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.

review

I’m not quite sure how to define this book because while it is technically a contemporary it never really FEELS like your typical contemporary YA. “The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly” is definitely 100% it’s own book, I’ve never read anything else remotely like it. Overall I’m very impressed with it!

PLOT

I’ve always found the cult mentality and just cults in general to be very interesting, I’m morbid like that, and I feel like this book portrays both of these things extremely well too. It’s hard to imagine people blindly following someone or something that just seems so ridiculous and unbelievable to the rest of us, which is shown in this book. I really enjoyed just how developed Oakes made her “Kevinian cult”, with the Prophet’s prophecies, his own version of a bible full of made up stories, polygamy, and even the brutality of their punishments.

The violence can get very graphic at times which not only made it more realistic, I think, but also really helped to drive the point home that these things actually happen in the world. I mean a major part of the story revolves around the fact that the main character gets her hands cut off. So if you’re the more squeamish type this book may not be for you.

However, as interesting as the cult aspects of the book are it isn’t the sole focus instead it focuses more on Minnow, her story, and how she’s learning to adapt with a way of life that goes against everything she’s been taught to believe. This is the part of the book that makes it so powerful and what makes it such an amazing read.

The ending was really the only part I had any complaint about as far as the plot went, it felt kind of anti-climatic although it was still very solid. I felt like the revealing of the Prophet’s death should have been a little more dramatic and what happens to Minnow after her story is complete a little more defined but I’m happy with the choices she made.

The pacing is a little slower and there definitely is not a ton of action but the story Minnow tells about her time with the cult is interesting enough to keep you turning pages, trust me!

What I easily loved the most about this book was Minnow’s narrative, it was compelling with some wonderful snippets of humor as well. I also loved her character in general but I’ll get to that in a bit….

Also the writing! It was just plain amazing I can’t believe this is a debut novel, Stephanie Oakes writes like a pro! I will definitely be reading more books by her when they come out.

characters

As I said a little earlier Minnow is by far the best part about this book, her narrative was amazing and she’s a very strong character especially after all she’s been through. She was complex and realistically developed throughout the story, going from believing blindly to questioning everything she’s been taught.

The side characters are also really well developed, mostly everyone in the juvenile detention center such as the other girls, guards, and teachers. I loved how the “don’t judge a book by its cover” sentiment really comes into play here as a lot of the girls have a lot more to them than initial appearances.

romance

There is a little bit of romance but nothing major, Minnow develops a relationship with an African-American boy, Jude, who also lives out in the woods. Their romance is really very sweet but at the end I was still very happy with Minnow’s decision regarding Jude.

in conclusion

Overall “The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly”  is a powerful story with a message that’s easy to grasp, thinking and doing for yourself and no one else. I think that’s something we can all get behind.

What I Liked:

  • Minnow and her narrative
  • Side characters!
  • The realistic (and brutal) portrayal of cults and cult mentality
  • The overall message of the book (thinking and doing for yourself and no one else)
  • The writing
  • The side romance was sweet and didn’t take precedence over the story

What I Didn’t Like:

  • The pacing was slow at times
  • The ending felt a little anti-climatic
  • The Prophet! (even though that was the whole point….but still!)

RECOMMEND

I highly recommend reading this book if you’re looking for a unique YA read that also has a really strong message! Overall it’s just a wonderful, dark, realistic book.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository / Book Outlet

The Sassy

ARC Review: The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch #1) by Rin Chupeco

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When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha — one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.

review

**** Big thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review!****

I was super pumped when I found out Rin Chupeco was writing not only another book but a dark fantasy book! So of course I went into this book expecting to love it since I loved “The Girl From the Well” and luckily for me I was not disappointed.

PLOT

While I was very much invested in the plot of this story I will admit that the pacing was pretty uneven it was borderline slow. It felt like this book was more so setting up for the next book than having any real action on its own. This is a book you have to be a little patient with.

I also really liked how the story was told from two different POVs one being a Bard whom an older Tea tells her life story in the present and the other being told from the past by a younger Tea. I have to say the present day Tea is very dark and mysterious and I found her to be the most interesting I want to know what happened to her to make her this way! So this does jump back and forth throughout the story between the present and the past which I thought worked really well in this book, it made the story more suspenseful and interesting, it kept me reading!

The story may not be the most fast paced or action packed but it’s still super interesting with all of the world building. I absolutely loved reading about the asha and their magic as well as the horrible monsters the daeva which were actually pretty terrifying. Reading about how Tea is such a rare breed of “witch” and watching as she comes to terms with her Dark abilities and learning how to use them was just a ton of fun.

The world building was also spot on and very creative, it provided just enough to keep me happy and withheld enough that I am interested to learn more in the next books. I loved the concepts of the magical Asha, the demonic monsters Daeva, the mythology of the world, and the different aspects of all the Kingdoms. Also the magic system was interesting as well. There was definitely no lack of world building here and at the same time there was no info dumping either.

The writing was something I had a sort of love-hate relationship with, on one hand I liked it and thought it was very beautiful but on the other hand I found it to be almost TOO descriptive at times. It did help me visualize things a little better but the in depth details got a little tedious after while, I can only read about clothes in that much description before it gets old.

THAT ENDING THOUGH! It wasn’t necessarily a cliffhanger but at the same time it left me crying because I don’t want to wait a YEAR for the next book!

characters

Overall the characters were pretty great in this book, I did feel some lacked a little development though especially the secondary characters because I would have liked some more background on them. I still got very attached to a lot of them mostly the other asha characters such as Althy and Polaire!

The more central characters were a little better such as Tea, her brother Fox, and her mentor Lady Mykalea. We got a lot more background on these characters and I assume we are only going to get more as the series goes on.

romance

I’m happy to say that the romance did not play a HUGE factor in this story, it didn’t take center stage and didn’t take precedence over the plot. Apart from that it wasn’t really developed either, once again I’m assuming it will be explored more in the next book.

There is a bit of a love triangle although without spoilers I will say it isn’t what you think it is a first, they kind of throw a red herring our way and it WILL surprise you when you get to the end. I hate love triangles and this one didn’t bother me at all!

in conclusion

Overall I was very satisfied with this book even though it did bother me a little bit that so much is left to be determined in the next books. The world building is the strongest (and best) part! I am VERY excited to continue with this series and so far Rin Chupeco has yet to disappoint me!

What I Liked:

  • The overall story was intriguing
  • The world-building was great and creative
  • The POVs between past and present was interesting
  • The ending left me wanting MORE
  • The characters were pretty well written
  • The romance didn’t take over the plot

What I Didn’t Like:

  • The writing got a little TOO descriptive at times
  • I wanted just a bit more background on some of the characters

RECOMMEND

If you’re interested in reading a dark YA fantasy I highly recommend this one, it combines all the best parts of fantasy with a little bit of horror since the monsters and sometimes the magic get very creepy. Also if you liked Chupeco’s other duology I think you’ll love this one too!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

Book Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

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Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

review

 I would first like to say I read “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer a while ago and was not impressed and vowed to not read any of her works again because of the issues I had with “Cinder”. I assumed everything she wrote would all be the same, which was clearly very stubborn of me. So it’s kind of a big deal when I say that I not only read “Heartless” but really, really loved it. I have been won over!

It also may have something to do with the fact that I love Alice in Wonderland retellings…..

PLOT

For those of you who don’t know this isn’t just a retelling of Alice in Wonderland, oh no. It’s an origin story for the Queen of Hearts herself….which makes it all the more fun am I right?

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One of my biggest complaints about “Heartless” is that it’s pacing is extremely slow and a bit tedious at times. I would say this is true for about three quarters of the book and the last quarter it definitely picks up and gets REALLY interesting! This was kind of a “meh” or “okay” for a lot of the book but damn that ending completely won me over!

I have seen a lot of negative reviews for this book and their problems were with the slow pacing and the plot itself. You see the plot is mainly about Catherine not wanting to marry the King of Hearts and that’s really all there is to it which does get very repetitive and boring, I agree. However, I overlooked that because I was having so much fun with the characters and references to Alice in Wonderland. I would say the slow pacing has a lot to do with the plot not really moving in any other direction for a long duration of the story.

There’s also an inclusion of the Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater nursery rhyme which I thought was pretty neat. Just saying.

I also loved the way Marissa Meyer weaved in her Wonderland references without info-dumping us. We are, after all, pretty familiar with the Alice in Wonderland and I thought that made it all the more fun to pick out her references while reading.

The ending was my favorite part of the story because of how dark, twisted, and awesome it is! I loved seeing what happened to Catherine that turned her in to the beheading crazy Queen of Hearts we all know and I was NOT disappointed! Actually I take that back I was disappointed because with that ending I thought this was a series but alas it’s a standalone and I’m very upset…..

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I want more!

So while the pacing is slow and plot is more or less a little boring it’s still okay because this is more of a character driven book in the first place.

characters

As I said this is a very character driven book so the characters are pretty important and Meyer does a great job of making them as interesting and complex as possible. I think you can have a boring plot and the book will still be great if you do a good job developing your characters and that’s proven in “Heartless”.

Catherine is a likable enough main character she’s sweet, kind, and the most fantastic baker in all of Hearts (which made for some stomach-rumbling reading). I ended up being very sympathetic to Catherine’s cause, she wants to open a bakery and her mother wants her to marry the king and become Queen of Hearts. You can see how those two wants would conflict and I just became very invested in Catherine’s plight.

Jest, the new court joker, is also a very interesting character and also the love interest. He wasn’t particularly the best character or even my favorite character but he was very charming and a lot of fun , if that makes sense. I also really loved his bird companion Raven, who speaks in poetry and quotes Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” which was hilarious!

Hatta (aka The Mad Hatter, speaking of which the name Hatta for this character drove me insane! It’s just stupid to me and I hated pronouncing it Hatta in my head!) was also a great character and stayed pretty true to the Alice in Wonderland character. Even if he was rude sometimes…..but you’ll understand when you read his origin story which I thought was very interesting and adds a lot to your perspective of the Mad Hatter.

I, of course, have to mention how much I loved Cheshire because I always love the Cheshire Cat in every Alice in Wonderland related work. He’s just as mischievous as always!

There’s also a slew of other characters that were absolutely wonderful as well and even if we saw very little of them I still feel like they had a complexity all their own.

romance

As you all already know it takes a lot for me to enjoy YA romances since they’re usually so full of cliches. While I did catch a whiff of some insta-love at first this romance was not completely nauseating. It was a bit charming and a bit cute but overall it was just sort of okay and I didn’t mind it but I didn’t love it either.

However, the romance between Cath and Jest is a major plot point and yet it never feels like it totally takes over which is definitely a plus.

in conclusion

Overall I very much enjoyed this book even though it had a few issues I was able to easily overlook them and still end up loving “Heartless”.

What I Liked:

  • The Alice in Wonderland references and that this world stayed pretty true to the original
  • The characters were interesting and complex
  • That ending!
  • Cheshire

What I Disliked:

  • The pacing was very slow
  • The overall plot was a bit boring
  • The romance was just okay/meh

RECOMMEND

I definitely recommend reading “Heartless” if you’re willing to push through the slow pacing and get to that wonderful ending but if you aren’t a fan of slow books and lose patience quickly then maybe give this one a skip.

Also if you’re like me and didn’t love “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer and aren’t sure if you want to give this book a try I strongly urge you to take the plunge! I really disliked “Cinder” and ended up not only loving “Heartless” but am now willing to dive back into the Lunar Chronicles as well!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy