All sixteen-year-old Heather MacNair wants is to feel normal, to shed the intense paranoia she’s worn all year like a scratchy sweater. After her compulsion to self-harm came to light, Heather was kept under her doctor’s watchful eye. Her family thinks she’s better—and there’s nothing she wants more than for that to be true. She still can’t believe she’s allowed to spend her summer vacation as she always does: at her aunt’s home in Scotland, where she has lots of happy memories. Far away from all her problems save one: she can’t stop carving the Celtic knot that haunts her dreams into her skin.
Good friends and boys with Scottish accents can cure almost anything…except nightmares. Heather can’t stop dreaming about two sisters from centuries ago, twins Prudence and Primrose, who somehow seem tied to her own life. Their presence lurks just beneath the surface of her consciousness, sending ripples through what should be a peaceful summer. The twins might hold the key to putting Heather’s soul at rest…or they could slice her future deeper than any knife.
**** Big thank you to Random House Kids for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!****
I actually really enjoyed reading this book and finished it in one sitting but I didn’t like it quite enough to rate it more than 3 stars though. It’s the kind of book to just pass some time but won’t really have any lasting affect on me, I don’t foresee myself thinking about this book much after reading it.
The plot itself wasn’t that special, the pacing did drag a lot especially in the beginning and then the ending felt really rushed. I was also expecting the witchcraft and magical bits to be a lot more prominent then they ended up being, I liked what parts there were but I wanted more. Overall I just thought the general story surrounding the magic was really under developed and didn’t have much depth, there just wasn’t enough plot!
The dream sequences Heather had of Prudence and Primrose were a little flat although they did add a lot of drama to the story, there were definitely a few shockers in there. Generally though I didn’t feel like I knew enough about them to care what happened to them, they were the major conflict in this book and they were just meh. Also the way things were resolved in the end with these two was quick and easy, talk about too convenient.
I also didn’t really like the way mental illness was shown in this book, used as a plot device and nothing more. It’s also like her self-harm problem is being thrown in our faces throughout the story, I’m talking screaming in your face “HEY SHE CUTS HERSELF” like we get it but you don’t need to mention it constantly to get your point across. Besides that the cutting isn’t because Heather really has a self-harm problem it has to do with the magical part of the plot (all I’ll say because of spoilers), she isn’t “crazy” and the book throws that word around like it’s nothing.
I think the part I loved the most about this book was the setting in Scotland and the inclusion of some Scottish folklore. I thought the author did a wonderful job with describing the places and the people and the culture, it just made me long for Scotland more!
Heather was an okay MC, not annoying but not very memorable either. I did, however, love her friends especially Fiona she was feisty and added a big fun factor to the story. So basically all of the characters were good, not bad or great, just good.
I also really loved how female friendships and family relationships were portrayed in this book, it’s all about love and support with no abuse or hate.
The romance in “Bad Blood” was another thing that was just sort of alright, nothing special. I liked the love interest, Robby, he was pretty adorable and that Scottish accent was swoon-worthy.
What I DID NOT like was the fact that Heather had absolutely ZERO interest in Robby her entire childhood and teenage-hood and loved his older, cuter brother more. Then Robby loses weight and “gets hot” and suddenly Heather is interested. I just thought that was unbelievably shallow of her since she couldn’t give him the time of day before.
I enjoyed this book but it did have a few problems and just wasn’t anything completely mind blowing. Like I said though it was still a decent read, just not anything that will be sticking with me for a long time.
What I Liked:
- LOVED the setting in Scotland
- The characters were pretty good, especially Fiona (she was awesome)
- The portrayal of female friendships and family relationships
What I Didn’t Like:
- Kind of slow paced and the ending was rushed and too convenient
- I didn’t like the way Heather’s self harm was portrayed
- Heather’s end of the romance was pretty shallow
I would say “meh” I’m not going to go around recommending it since it was just alright but if some of the points I made sound interesting to you then go ahead and give it a try. Like I said it isn’t a terrible book and it isn’t a fabulous book it’s just a good book that will give you a moderate amount of enjoyment.
Lucy Acosta’s mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They’re inseparable—a family.
When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she’s ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother’s voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin’s sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.
So of course I was really pumped for this book since I LOVED the author’s debut novel “Daughters Unto Devils” (full review here), but while I enjoyed this book it just wasn’t as good as the debut book. Still a very solid read though especially if you’re a YA horror lover!
My biggest problem with this book (and why it didn’t get a 4 or 5 star rating) was that the beginning of the story was extremely slow paced and kind of boring. There really wasn’t any real creepiness, horror, or gore at all in the beginning of the book but it had ALL of that within the last 50 pages or so. Honestly, the ending was what made reading the whole book worth it! It was fucked up and weird in the best and creepiest way possible, I wish I could say more but I can’t without spoiling it! There’s also a bit of mystery towards the end as well that made the atmosphere a little more eerie.
Speaking of the ending it is open-ended and I thought it was the perfect way to end it. I feel in horror books open endings really work, the add that much more to the creep-factor because you don’t know what REALLY happened or what will happen afterwards…… I personally loved that it was open-ended because of that reason and it was just like “Daughters Unto Devils” in this manner.
Women (as the title hints at) play a very important and big part in this book as well, basically any and all men are useless side characters and the women hold all the power and sway. Of course I’m going to say this is a plus!
There also is some representation of mental illness in the form of cutting, Lucy (the MC) does cut herself. However, even though I have zero personal experience with people who do cut themselves I felt that the matter was kind of brushed over in this book. It plays a pretty big part in Lucy’s life and yet it never really gets an attention. I just felt it should have been a little bit bigger of an issue with the characters….
The writing was sort of just “meh”, nothing too spectacular. I felt it was better in her other book “Daughters Unto Devils”.
A HUGE plus for this book is the fact that there is no absolutely zero romance. That’s right there is no romance in this YA book, and isn’t that refreshing?
There was not a whole lot of character development but that’s to be expected with a book that’s only 278 pages long. I didn’t really connect with Lucy or any of the other characters, I felt really distant from what was happening to them. Lucy did have her moments where she stuck up for herself and her family and yelled at some of those arrogant country club people but for the most part she was just okay.
Not to mention I LOATHED Lucy’s dad with a fiery burning passion, talk about worst dad ever! He basically shows zero emotion towards his own daughter and ignores her when she comes to him about things. It really ticked me off so I thought it was worth mentioning.
Overall I did enjoy reading this book although it was a little painful to get through the beginning but ultimately that ending is worth it! I don’t think this one was as good as “Daughters Unto Devils” though but I will still read anything Lukavics comes out with.
What I Liked:
- THAT ENDING!!!!
- Women play a big part in the plot and men are useless side characters
- ZERO romance
What I Didn’t Like:
- Not a lot of character development (hated Lucy’s dad!)
- Up until the last 50 or so pages is slow and a bit boring
- The writing is “meh”
Even though I didn’t like this one as much as “Daughters Unto Devils” (which I highly recommend checking out) it is still a pretty good book and the ending is insane! If you’re looking for a short YA horror book with zero romance to distract from the creepiness this one is for you! I definitely do recommend at least checking this book out.
The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.
At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England.
I just have to rate this book a full five stars! I don’t usually enjoy historical fiction or romance but the way these ladies wrote it I couldn’t help but love it. It’s hysterical, fun, light-hearted and so very unique and I want you all to go read it ASAP!
The story in “My Lady Jane” is essentially a twist and sort of retelling of English history involving the Lady Jane Gray, King Edward VI, and Lord Guildford Dudley who are our POV narrators. So if you love the history of this time period then I’d say you’ll probably have a lot of fun making comparisons between this book’s re-written history and the real history, I know I did!
A large part of deciding whether you’ll love this book or not really depends on what kind of mood you’re in and what your sense of humor is like. DO NOT go into this book expecting something tense and dramatic because it most definitely is not any of those things. “My Lady Jane” is silly, light, and charming and full of hilarious lines and references to Monty Python and The Princess Bride (although on the latter I cannot specify too much as I haven’t seen the entire movie, don’t kill me). So if all of those things sound appealing to you then you’ll with no doubt love this book if you don’t take it too seriously because the book itself certainly doesn’t.
While I don’t necessarily consider this YA Fantasy since it’s mostly a historical retelling it does contain some elements of fantasy such as magic. Basically we have Edians who have the ability to shape-shift into a certain animal and live among the rest of us normal humans. I very much loved how this magic was incorporated within the “real” history and plot both while also adding to the overall cuteness and fun of the story.
The pacing was great too, I thought there was never a dull moment with “My Lady Jane” and couldn’t put it down. Another great feature was the writing I thought it was just brilliant, fun, and blended everything together nicely making the book a joy to read through.
Overall I think the plot has plenty of cute romance, action, and adventure all seamlessly melded together in very clever ways. It’s not too dramatic or serious and just a very fun, entertaining story.
The characters were all absolutely fantastic and I adored them, they were clever, witty, and interesting. Each of our protagonists developed in their own way throughout the story and had vivid personalities of their own making for some fun and three dimensional characters. I don’t have any issues with the main characters whatsoever and even the villains were fun to hate….because no one can hurt my precious characters! No one!
Jane is a girl after my own heart, honestly probably one of the most relatable characters I’ve had the pleasure of reading about. She’s bookish, a bit silly, and quite spunky.
Edward was one of the more funny protagonists I thought his narration was hilarious. He’s also a big softy and generally I thought he was adorable and precious and needed to be protected at all costs.
Gifford, while a great character in his own right, was my least favorite just because I personally thought his personality didn’t shine as brightly as Jane’s and Edward’s. He was the more boring one for me while reading although I must say I DID love his perspective during certain parts that I shall not specify because spoilers!
This romance was a winner and I will say when I am convinced to love a romance in a YA book then it is usually a five star read for me. It did not necessarily have me swooning but it was a well done, slow-burn, trope-free romance and really that’s all I’m really looking for. Even thought the romance is a big part of the plot it doesn’t ever take over completely and over shadow all of the other things going on, which is always appreciated by me.
Gifford and Jane were very cute and I felt that their romance was realistic because at first they don’t care for each other in the least bit and slowly fall in love. Realistic romance folks! That’s all I want! No tropes here!
I LOVED this book plain and simple and had zero issues with any of the aspects of it. I NEED these authors to write another book together STAT!
- The romance was sweet, trope-free, and not the sole focus
- The protagonists were all wonderful, funny, and developed
- The plot is clever, unique, and hilarious
- The magic is interesting and adds a lot to the plot
What I Disliked:
- Nothing. I rated it 5 stars for a reason!
YES! A BILLION TIMES YES! This book is perfection and I highly recommend reading it! Although like I said earlier if you want something more serious and dramatic steer clear but if you want a light, silly book that’s tons of fun then “My Lady Jane” is for you!
Two o’clock was missing.
In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.
It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.
And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.
But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.
**** Big thank you to Sky Pony Press for sending me this ARC in exchange for an honest review****
This is one cute and intriguing book although it took me a while to get into it which is why I feel like I can’t give it a full 4 stars, but I do think “Timekeeper” is very much worth your time. (See what I did there?)
“Timekeeper” is essentially a story all about how a young clock mechanic falls in love with a tower’s clock spirit and it is adorable. While the romance does play a big part in the book it is not the main focus of the story, and thank goodness for that! There’s an added mystery involving bombs, clock towers, and towns whose time has stopped, that adds a lot to propel the story forward and damn was it good as well as unpredictable.
The setting is also something we don’t see too often in YA and that would be steampunk. Of course this is an alternate reality England mixed in with steampunk and while I liked the setting I also didn’t at the same time. This is a steampunk book but I thought it definitely could have used MORE, all we get in the story that even makes this feel like steampunk is the clock towers (which are essentially JUST clock towers) and the occasional mention of automatons. That’s it. I just felt like we could have used more mention of the gadgets and machines that make steampunk what it is.
As you can obviously tell this book is about clocks and time and since Danny, the MC, is a clock mechanic we do get quite a bit of information on how the clocks function and such. While this could potentially bore some people I thought it was actually quite interesting and it’s definitely not info-dumping, we don’t get overloaded with so many mechanics that you’ll get insanely bored.
While the mechanics of the clock towers themselves are interesting there is nothing in this book more intriguing than the clock spirits. The minute clock spirits are mentioned I wanted to know more about them, which of course I did slowly throughout the book and was not disappointed. I think they are the most creative part of this story and add so much magic to it.
There’s also a bit of added Greek mythology with Chronos and Aetas the god of time who gave people the ability to weave time into the clock towers. While it didn’t necessarily add a lot to the central story I thought it was a nice touch and helped build on the universe Tara Sim created.
While I really loved the story overall I will say that it really dragged in some parts, especially in the beginning. The story didn’t grab my attention until about 30-35% of the way in where we got introduced to the mystery.
The characters were just kind of okay, I didn’t absolutely adore them but I didn’t hate them either. They weren’t as developed as I would have liked and overall they felt a little too young…..they’re supposed to be teenagers and they seemed like middle school age which is probably because of the writing.
I liked Danny as a main character and Colton is the sweetest thing ever. I also liked a lot of the secondary characters although I wish they would have been a little more fleshed out.
As I said they’re just okay, nothing too special.
Usually it takes quite a bit of convincing to make me enjoy any YA romances but let me tell you Danny and Colton are the cutest couple ever, seriously they’re downright adorable. I really enjoyed their romance, it’s so sweet and heart-warming. There is a degree of insta-love between them but it isn’t extreme and it was easy to look past.
As I mentioned earlier their romance plays a big part in the book but it isn’t the sole focus at all. I love having a wonderfully written romance that doesn’t take up the entire story.
Also if you couldn’t tell it’s a LGTB romance which adds to the diversity!
Overall I was really impressed and happy with this book but I had a few “meh” issues with it which is why it didn’t receive a full 4 stars. I will definitely be looking forward to the sequel though.
What I Liked:
- The story was unique and interesting
- The romance didn’t take over the entire plot
- World-building was pretty spot-on
- The added mythology was intriguing
- The romance was SO FREAKING ADORABLE
What I Didn’t Like:
- The characters were just sort of “meh” and not developed enough
- The steampunk setting didn’t seem steampunk-y enough
- The pacing dragged throughout the book
Yes I recommend reading “Timekeeper” it’s a very original, charming story. If you’re looking for diverse books this also fits the bill!
Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.
And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.
Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?
For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip-smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.
And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love…or be killed himself.
As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear—the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.
This book was one of my most anticipated releases of 2016 and I was very, very excited to read it but then the negative reviews started trickling out among the positive ones and I began to question whether I should read “The Crown’s Game” or not. I definitely should not have wasted my time. This has got to be one of the most disappointing books this year because of how high my expectations were and how badly this book failed.
Let me start out by saying this book wasn’t completely awful hence the two star rating instead of one star but it is incredibly unoriginal. If you’ve ever read even one YA fantasy book then don’t even bother with this because it’s nothing new.
I would say the biggest let down of this entire book was the fact that this is supposed to be a magical battle to the DEATH and all we got were parlor tricks that were so unbelievably underwhelming. You’re supposed to be trying to kill each other not painting buildings with your magic for crying out loud! So freaking boring! The magic might as well not have even been included because it was essentially pointless. These two enchanters are supposed to be the most powerful people in Russia and they can’t even summon something spectacular to kill their opponent? What wasted potential.
There was no world-building, no mythology for this version of Fantasy Russia, and no explanations for ANYTHING. We basically are just set adrift in this world and are supposed to be content with no background and no fantasy elements in a FANTASY BOOK! You want to know what supposedly made this book fantasy? The magic. That’s it and even that was disappointing.
There’s next to no action at all and what action there was were the displays of magical “power” which as I’ve said were incredibly dull. The entirety of this plot is romance, which I’ll get to in a bit and so there’s hardly any story to speak of. The pacing was slow and I was generally uninterested throughout my entire reading and it’s really a miracle I didn’t DNF this book.
What I did like was the setting, even though I would have liked a lot more depth to it, I did like this Fantasy version of Russia. I also liked a few (very few) points in the story that I found to be interesting such as a couple of the twists even if they were pretty predictable. I didn’t think the story was completely awful since I did manage to finish this book but it was not what I was lead to believe it was about.
Then there’s the ending…..which I found to be anti-climatic and left me completely disinterested in reading the sequel. I already know where the next book is headed and honestly there’s no point in torturing myself with this series anymore.
Flat, uninteresting, and absolutely no depth to these characters. I could have cared less about any of them which is pretty bad considering I’m supposed to fear for their lives since they have to try and kill each other off. We didn’t really get any insight into Vika or Nikolai and they didn’t have any flaws, they were essentially perfect little special snowflakes. Which in my opinion made them very boring and unrelatable because let’s face it we all know perfect people don’t exist and I don’t want characters to be THAT unrealistic.
That’s really all the words I’ll waste on the characters.
Where do I even start with this? First of all the romance is the sole focus of the story, it definitely takes center stage over the “magical death battle”. Which annoys the living crap out of me when I was promised said magical death battle and all I got was a book littered with your typical YA romance tropes.
First of all we have gag-inducing insta-love and eye-roll worthy love triangles. Both of which are represented in the usual, annoying, run of the mill ways. Nothing original or unique about the romance at all! Overall I felt like it was way too over the top and used to provide more drama and suspense to the plot and it just did not work at all.
“The Crown’s Game” is one huge disappointment to me and while it had a few minor things to save it from a one star rating I still think it was a waste of my reading time.
What I Liked:
- The Fantasy Russian setting
- A few plot points that maintained my interest
What I Disliked:
- Slow pacing
- No action
- Misleading premise
- No world building
- Flat, boring characters
- An extremely trope-riddled romance
No I can’t say I would recommend this book to anyone and even if you’re a fan of YA fantasy (which I am as well) I would skip this one because it’s nothing new. For you YA romance fans I can’t honestly say for sure (I am not a romance fan) but I think this romance was far too dramatic and unoriginal.
No one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won’t say who fired the shot that killed their friend; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them.
Kate Marino’s senior year internship at the District Attorney’s Office isn’t exactly glamorous—more like an excuse to leave school early that looks good on college applications. Then the DA hands her boss, Mr. Stone, the biggest case her small town of Belle Terre has ever seen. The River Point Boys are all anyone can talk about. Despite their damning toxicology reports the morning of the accident, the DA wants the boys’ case swept under the rug. He owes his political office to their powerful families.
Kate won’t let that happen. Digging up secrets without revealing her own is a dangerous line to walk; Kate has her own reasons for seeking justice for Grant. As she and Stone investigate—the ageing prosecutor relying on Kate to see and hear what he cannot—she realizes that nothing about the case—or the boys—is what it seems. Grant wasn’t who she thought he was, and neither is Stone’s prime suspect. As Kate gets dangerously close to the truth, it becomes clear that the early morning accident might not have been an accident at all—and if Kate doesn’t uncover the true killer, more than one life could be on the line…including her own.
**** Big thank you to Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review****
I could tell this was going to be a YA mystery/thriller that I would love and I definitely was not wrong! From the first page I was hooked and every time I had to set this down I could not wait to pick it back up again because I needed answers! “This Is Our Story” is a fantastic, compelling book but I did have some minor issues with it which is why it didn’t receive a 5 star rating.
I won’t talk about the details of the plot too much because I definitely do not want to spoil anything for you all since there are more than a few twists you won’t see coming!
My attention was immediately grabbed right at the beginning of the story I was instantly drawn into the mystery of what happened to Grant (the boy that was shot) and who did it. This story is extremely fast-paced and trust me when I say you’ll be turning pages until you reach the conclusion!
I also loved that I didn’t figure out who did it until it was revealed at the end because the plot gives you just enough information without actually giving anything away. The story is told from two perspectives one from Kate who works as an intern in the DA’s office and the other from the shooter but we also get perspective through the use of interrogation videos and old text messages. All of these things added so much atmosphere and suspense to the book.
One of my gripes about the plot were that I thought SOME parts were a little predictable and that’s just a personal opinion, it’s frustrating for me to guess something and have it take the main character forever to come to the same conclusion. However, these were just some minor things and not any of the major plot twists I definitely didn’t see the big ones coming.
The other problem I had was the ending was that, while it was satisfying and made sense and the shooter’s identity was a still a surprise, was that I thought it was just sort of anti-climatic. There wasn’t some completely crazy, mind-blowing ending to the story like I kind of thought there would be. Like I said though that’s just my opinion and it could be completely different for you if you read it!
The characters were very well done and I liked them and hated them by which I mean the good kind of hate of course. I also thought they were very well developed, complex, and realistic.
I really liked Kate I thought she was a very smart and determined heroine and I thought her narrative was very fun to read through.
The friendship between Kate and her best friend Reagan was very well portrayed as well and even though it wasn’t a big focus in the story I appreciated seeing a strong, loyal girl friendship.
The River Point boys were also very well depicted and I liked how flawed they were all shown as being. I won’t elaborate too much on them since that’s part of the joy of reading this book!
Meh, the romance was okay and I liked that it wasn’t too big of a factor in the story too.
One thing that actually bothered me a lot about these two (I won’t say who the other is because spoilers) was that I felt at times Kate put her romantic feelings over doing what was right for the case she was helping on. That irritated the living hell out of me! Like hellooooooo I think the confidential information for the case your working on is a little more important than your crush!
This was another reason I didn’t give a full 5 star rating, stupid decisions, while I respect that our heroine is flawed I thought the complete lack of common sense at times was a little too idiotic.
I enjoyed “This Is Our Story” very, very much despite having just a few minor issues with it. I thought it was a great fast-paced, suspenseful, and thrilling book!
What I Liked:
- Great plot twists
- Unpredictable ending
- Interesting narrative style
- Fast pacing
- Complex characters
What I Didn’t Like:
- Some predictable minor twists
- The ending was kind of anti-climatic
- Romance had some irritating points
Absolutely! I think this book would actually be enjoyable for pretty much anyone who likes YA there’s nothing about it that I think wouldn’t appeal to everyone. I would say if you like very original, fast paced YA mystery/thrillers then you’ll definitely love “This Is Our Story”.
No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.
Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.
But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.
This book pretty much met every expectation I had for it:
- A brutal, fierce, warrior heroine
- A complex, thrilling plot
- Tons of detail and overall development
- Action, betrayal, and revenge galore!
So I guess you could say I was definitely not disappointed and very much impressed with this book and I cannot wait for the sequel!
“And I Darken” basically has everything I love in a fantasy book but this is actually historical fiction which may surprise some people, it’s a “retelling” of history in which Lada (the main character) is Vlad the Impaler. It was very, very interesting to read this book and then look up the corresponding history and make comparisons between the two this also may just be me since I’m a big history geek. Just a fun little tidbit there….
This book covers quite a large time span as we witness Lada and Radu’s birth, childhood, and growth into young adults. That being said I thought the pacing was pretty spot on, it wasn’t necessarily very fast paced the entire time and I never found myself truly bored while reading although I will say it lost a bit of steam in the middle.
As I said above this story has so much detail and complexity it’s practically mind blowing, there’s so many things going on and yet it wasn’t confusing to follow at all. A lot of the story revolves around war and politics…but mostly politics and I loved it. The best way for me to describe the plot is to compare it to a spider’s web, there are so many different threads going different ways and interconnecting everything. There are so many twists and turns and you just don’t know what will happen next a lot of it is completely unpredictable.
The setting was also very interesting we almost never see any YA Fiction books set in Eastern Europe especially as far back as the 1400’s. I don’t claim to be an expert on 1400’s Eastern European history but I thought Kiersten White did an excellent job making the setting feel as authentic as possible. Another thing that really adds to this is the addition of the religions, albeit subtle, of Christianity and Islam and how the characters felt about each. And none of the historical or religious facts every felt preachy or like we were being info-dumped on.
The characters in “And I Darken” are probably the best part of the entire book. They are brutal, complex, morally ambiguous, and despicable…… I adored them all. I was 100% invested in Lada and Radu’s characters I cared so deeply about both of them and a lot of what kept me reading was wanting to know what would happen to them.
Lada is one of my all time favorite characters now she is mentioned in the description of the book as brutal and brutal she most definitely is as well as fierce and just an all around badass. She is the total opposite of your typical YA heroine, she is no special snowflake that’s for sure. Lada is resilient and relentless in her desires she will not stop fighting until she has what she wants.
Radu, Lada’s younger brother, is the polar opposite of his sister. Where she is brutal, physically strong, and violent he is vulnerable, book-smart, and kind. I think I enjoyed seeing Radu come out of his shell the most, he’s quiet and pays attention to details others would overlook and is very key in some of the politics of the book because of the secrets and information he learns.
Big plus with this book? One of the strongest sibling relationships I’ve had the pleasure of reading about. I loved Lada and Radu because they got stuck in the same siutaion together and trust only one another, the bond is so strong between these too. They do some messed up stuff in order to protect each other at any cost.
Of course then we have one other very important chief character (although he does not narrate) and a slew of very complex and interesting secondary characters. I’ve said this many times before but I’ll say it again: if you want to impress me with your book you better have some well developed secondary characters. “And I Darken” certainly delivered on this front too.
This was an aspect of the book where I’m unsure what to really say about it because it was about as complex as everything else! There is a bit of a love triangle although it definitely is NOT your typical love triangle there are a lot of different factors that get mixed in with it so it definitely is not the kind we all dislike so strongly in our YA books. I would explain more but I don’t want to spoil the surprise!!!!
Just know that while I shipped the romance(s) so hard, they were also very frustrating to read about! I mean this in the best possible way because I sat the entire time like this:
Basically I approve of the romance in this book and that almost never happens.
I absolutely loved this book and the only reason I docked 0.5 stars is because I felt it didn’t quite live up to the other books I did give 5 stars to.
What I Liked:
- The setting (as I said it’s a rare one)
- Genderswapped Vlad the Impaler
- The complexity of the plot
- Well developed characters
- Interesting (ship-worthy) romances
What I Didn’t Like:
- The pacing slowed the tiniest bit in the middle
I highly, highly recommend taking a look at this book! If you love fantasy I think you’ll really enjoy “And I Darken” because while it isn’t fantasy itself it has all of the war and politics games you find and enjoy in fantasy books.
Outside the palace of Versailles, it’s modern day. Inside, the people dress, eat, and act like it’s the eighteenth century—with the added bonus of technology to make court life lavish, privileged, and frivolous. The palace has every indulgence, but for one pretty young thing, it’s about to become a very beautiful prison.
When Danica witnesses an act of murder by the young king, her mother makes a cruel power play . . . blackmailing the king into making Dani his queen. When she turns eighteen, Dani will marry the most ruthless and dangerous man of the court. She has six months to escape her terrifying destiny. Six months to raise enough money to disappear into the real world beyond the palace gates.
Her ticket out? Glitter. A drug so powerful that a tiny pinch mixed into a pot of rouge or lip gloss can make the wearer hopelessly addicted. Addicted to a drug Dani can sell for more money than she ever dreamed.
But in Versailles, secrets are impossible to keep. And the most dangerous secret—falling for a drug dealer outside the palace walls—is one risk she has to take.
**** Big thank you to Random House Books for Young Readers and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review****
I was actually quite pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this book but I just couldn’t bring myself to give it a full 4 star review. However, don’t let the 3.5 stars fool you! This is not only a very good book but also one that is extremely unique.
Also I’d like to just take a moment to appreciate how gorgeous that cover is, am I right?
I don’t even know where to start with this story, it is so unique and wonderfully strange that it was almost a bit confusing at times because of its strangeness. There were a lot of different things going on all at once and it was also pretty fast-paced so there was rarely a boring moment with all of the betrayals, secrets, and blackmail. I have to say I am a sucker for these kinds of stories where there’s a lot of lies and manipulation.
Dani is essentially living a nightmare when the story starts out she is living in a court she cares nothing for, with a conniving mother, and engaged to a sadistic king. So one can only imagine how desperately she wants to get away and escape, unfortunately, she doesn’t have the money or resources to. This results ultimately in Dani selling the drug Glitter in order to raise the money she needs to escape. You can also imagine all the things that can go wrong with this as well, right? That sets the stage for a very dramatic plot and that’s exactly what we get.
I also loved the clash of genres we have here it was like a mix of historical fiction, dystopia, and fantasy. Everyone in the palace acts and dresses as if they actually do live in 18th century France but in reality they live in the not so distant future with many different technologies. Basically it had a bit of everything and it worked, the setting was just so interesting and unique. There was also no info-dumping I really liked how Aprilynne Pike gave information about the world at just the right pace to keep me satisfied without feeling overwhelmed.
The the writing was very simple and easy to follow but also highly addictive, once I got into the story it was hard to put down. I thought it used just the right amount of description throughout the story and really let you get a feel for the atmosphere Pyke created.
However, the ending is quite the cliffhanger which I don’t really mind so much because it made me want more and had me yelling: “WHAT?! THAT’S IT?!”. Fortunately there is going to be a sequel to help put my questioning mind at ease.
The characters were probably the most disappointing part for me with the exception of Danica, the main character. I wish they all would have been a little more fleshed out and developed because it would have made more of the betrayals and lies a bit more interesting if we knew the characters a bit better and fully understood their motives.
However, I thought Dani was a bit of a grey character because she knows what she’s doing is wrong but does it anyways for her own benefit in other words she’s very selfish and that shows a lot throughout the book. While selfish characters can get annoying I thought Dani had good reasons to act and think the way she does and I thought she made a very good flawed heroine.
As usual I wasn’t too impressed with this romance, however, it was far from cringe-worthy it was just….okay. There was an instant attraction but no insta-love (Thank God!) and I liked that the romance was a bit of a slow burn. I just didn’t really like the two of them together all that much and the chemistry just wasn’t really there. I think we could have gone without the romance in this story at all though.
Overall I did really like this book but it wasn’t something I felt deserved a 4-5 star rating from me.
What I Liked:
- The unique premise and world-building
- The setting
- Danica, the main character
- Fast pacing
- Rarely a dull moment
What I Didn’t Like:
- Lack of other character development
- Non-exciting romance
Yes, I do recommend giving “Glitter” a try especially if you like books that are fast-paced and maybe a little on the ridiculous side! It’s definitely a very unique, fun book.
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.
Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.
****Big thank you to Jimmy Patterson Books for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review****
This wasn’t a bad book but neither was it as fantastic as I had hoped it would be and I’m actually a little disappointed. Therefore it’s getting a 3 star rating, right in the middle which is exactly how I feel about it.
The story itself was incredibly slow and boring which is why it took me a ridiculously long time to finish it, I didn’t want to DNF it but I came awfully close and even skimmed some parts. I mean the book is titled “Stalking Jack the Ripper” and obviously that sounds creepy, exciting, and suspenseful right? Well I didn’t get any of those things this book is neither creepy, exciting, nor suspenseful. We spend a majority of the book following Audrey Rose around as she pretends NOT to fawn over Thomas Cresswell, watch as she tries to prove to everyone that she is independent, and read about her day to day activities. That’s what the book was mostly about. Booooooring! Where the heck is the murder? The mystery? The creepy atmosphere? I wanted more of the mystery surrounding the Jack The Ripper murders and less romance and less about Audrey Rose’s mission to become an independent woman.
What was good were the descriptions of the murders themselves and the autopsies of the bodies they were gruesome, gory and detailed I honestly got a bit faint when reading. That was the kind of stuff I expected throughout the entire book! They were never scary or anything like that but they were interesting scenes and probably the most interesting parts within the book.
I enjoyed the writing as well I liked the descriptions and the attention to detail however at times I found it got a bit…long-winded and it was easy to lose my patience.
Some of the plot twists were easy to predict but I thought the ending was enough of a surprise although it wasn’t very shocking either. Overall I did think it was a complex, well-written story but it just never really grabbed my attention.
The characters were one of the better parts of this book although they did get annoying at times. Most of them were portrayed has having flaws as well so the development was quite good. Audrey Rose made for an admirable heroine, with her peculiar interests (science and forensics) and independent thinking however I did not like being constantly reminded on just how independent of a girl she was. We get it: she doesn’t need a man and wants to think for herself! I liked the girl power sentiment but it got old after a while. One last thing that bothered me is that Audrey Rose is supposedly half Indian and half English which is never actually mentioned a lot and it definitely does NOT fit the cover of the book at all.
As for Thomas Cresswell he has got to be one of the most irritating and pretentious characters I’ve ever come across, he is NOT charming whatsoever! He’s an intolerable, condescending, arrogant know-it-all. Really I so no purpose in his character other than to be the love interest.
As for the secondary characters I rather enjoyed them and wished I would have gotten to see more of them and get a little more backstory and interaction.
I thought the romance here was very unbelievable it also doesn’t help that I found Thomas more annoying than charming, I just wasn’t buying it. There was also a bit of insta-love, Audrey Rose started getting butterflies the minute she met the guy and then proceeded to say how annoying she found him. Honey, I found him annoying and you just fell in love. How about no? I also found the chemistry between them lacking and wished we would have concentrated more on murder and less on romance.
Overall this book’s pros and cons mostly balanced themselves out with me and although I was disappointed it was still a decent read. I’ll probably check out the sequel too.
What I Liked:
- The Setting
- The Characters (with the exception of Thomas)
- The Descriptions of The Murders and Autopsies
- The Writing
- A Few of The Plot Twists
What I Didn’t Like
- The Slow Pacing
- The (Mostly) Boring Plot
- The Ever-Annoying Thomas Cresswell
- The Insta-Love Racked Romance
If you love Victorian settings with romance and a bit of mystery you may like this one! However, if you’re like me and are expecting more creepiness, more murder, and more horror this isn’t what you’ll find here. It’s definitely a decent book and worth checking out though!