June Book Haul & Wrap-Up and July TBR

Hey all, Dani here.

I was hoping to be able to have my monthly book haul/wrap up and my upcoming TBR in a nice shiny vlog post for you guys this time around, but I had a bunch of acne pop up on my chin, and since I don’t even own makeup to try and cover it up, I had to wait for it to clear up before I really started filming. So…hopefully my July wrap up and August TBR will be a video.

Well, I guess I should say that I was going to try and go on a little bit of a book-buying ban in the month of June…and I didn’t really succeed on that front. Thankfully I think I should be able to actually have a severe cutback on book splurging in July. After all, I’m not even going to be reading much due to Camp NaNoWriMo.

Book Haul

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Well, I think this is everything I bought in the month of June. I might have missed some though. I didn’t keep track as well this month as I did the last couple. I have so many books to read. I need more time in the day so I can devour my TBR pile.

Wrap-Up

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera (YA Speculative) 4.5 stars. Check out my review here.

Buried Memory by Adam J Wright (Harbinger P.I. book 2, Urban Fantasy) 4.5 stars

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (YA Contemporary) 4 stars

Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley (YA Contemporary) 3.5 stars

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy (Non-Fiction) 5+ stars. Review coming July 4th.

Reliquary by Sarah Fine (Reliquary book one, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy) 5 stars. Check out my review here.

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (YA Contemporary, Publish date January 2017) 5 stars!

Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown (Self-Help) 2 stars

Zenith (part one) by Lindsey Cummings and Sasha Alsberg (Androma Saga book one, YA Sci-Fi, Serial) 4 stars

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie N Holmberg (Fantasy) 4 stars

Pop Sonnets by Erik Didriksen (Non-Fiction, Performing Arts – Humor) 5 stars

Lumberjanes, Vol 2: Friendship to the Max by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis (Graphic Novel, Humor) 5 stars

Lumberjanes, Vol 3: A Terrible Plan by Noelle Stevenson and Shannon Watters (Graphic Novel, Humor) 5 stars

Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine (YA adventure/alternate timeline, Will be published July 5th) 5 stars

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (YA contemporary fantasy) 4.5 stars

July TBR

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This is my tentative July TBR. I may read more or I may read less. After all, July is also Camp NaNoWriMo and I’m hoping to do a lot of writing over the month.

Back to Camp NaNoWriMo

Hey all, Dani here.

Well, it’s that time once again. Camp NaNoWriMo is upon us. If you’ve been with me here for a few months, you might be thinking, ‘hey, didn’t you do Camp NaNoWriMo in April?’ and you would certainly be right. Camp NaNoWriMo holds two sessions each year: April and July, and I participate in both sessions, plus the original NaNoWriMo in November.

What that means is that I write a lot of words in just three months of the year.Sadly I can’t even keep up half that writing pace the rest of the year. Especially in April and November I let other hobbies and activities pile up: my DVR queue usually gets quite full, my TBR pile grows at alarmingly fast rates, and I tend to miss out on the company of my non-writer friends. So in the non-NaNo months I try to catch up on all of that.

And this time around I have even more to balance because I’ve started to get quite active on Instagram (specifically in the area commonly referred to as Bookstagram) and I’ve been posting more to this blog. So for the rest of this week I am trying to pre-write as many blog posts as I can, and I’m trying to hold a few photo shoots with my books so I don’t have to worry as much about figuring out what to put up on Instagram.

Oh, and did I mention that I have to cut my July Camp NaNo session short? Yeah, I have to reach my writing goal by July 28th, because from the 29th-31st I will be at Wizard World Ohio Comic Con.

This just might be the most hectic Camp session I’ve ever participated in. I’ll get through it…somehow.

I guess I should probably share just a little bit about my writing project for the month of July. I’m taking a little break from my Project Death series and world and focusing on this science fantasy I’ve been planning and somewhat writing for almost a year now. In fact, I have the first two chapters posted on my Facebook page.

It’s called Tale of Blood and Mourning, and it is the first book in my Courts and Guilds series. Right now I have four books planned out and each follows a different set of characters, though several main characters appear as side characters in other novels. The four books should complete the story arc I have in my mind, but if another storyline crops up and is interesting enough, I could expand the series farther.

I have done quite a bit of planning and world-building for this series so far, more than I have any other novel before. I bought books on world-building, on language creation, on fantasy cartography…all so I could try and make this series as epic as possible. Now, I’m not an artist so when I reach a certain point for editing the first book, I have a friend who is an artist and I have hired her to make a more professional version.

Still…I might as well share what I have for the world map so far.

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Oh, and here is my working summary for the first book:

Dax Ko’Vale has a problem. The beloved princess of the Lesark family has been taken and he is to lead the rescue mission. Unfortunately that brings him face-to-face with a woman who could jeopardize everything.

Lemley Thiel has been hired by the royal family several times to eliminate enemies of the realm. But when her friend Alaina is taken, Lem has no intention of abiding by her Court’s edicts during the rescue mission. If that means her death because of unsanctioned assassinations then she can accept that.

When the soldier and the assassin see each other again it dredges up old memories and hidden feelings. Giving in to either could be what unites them…or it could be the distraction that costs them everything.

Happy Writing to everyone who is participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this July!

Review: Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie N Holmberg

Hey all, Dani here.

Today I’m happy to share another review of a new book. I received a galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. As always I will also state that receiving this book for free in no way altered my thoughts, opinions, or my rating.

Charlie N Holmberg first popped up on my radar several months ago when having an hour long book conversation with a friend of mine. She had read The Paper Magician trilogy and enjoyed them and it sounded like something I would enjoy. (Yeah, I’ve read The Paper Magician so far and I like it…I need to read the other two soon).

So when Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet popped up on NetGalley I read the summary and thought it sounded interesting. This book is published by 47North, and they also publish books like Reliquary by Sarah Fine. I guess when you read and review enough books by a publisher they can list you as being auto-approved for future books, which is what I’m on for 47North. I am happy about that because I have yet to be disappointed by any book published by them.

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Summary

Maire is a baker with an extraordinary gift: she can infuse her treats with emotions and abilities, which are then passed on to those who eat them. She doesn’t know why she can do this and remembers nothing of who she is or where she came from.

When marauders raid her town, Maire is captured and sold to the eccentric Allemas, who enslaves her and demands that she produce sinister confections, including a witch’s gingerbread cottage, a living cookie boy, and size-altering cakes.

During her captivity, Maire is visited by Fyel, a ghostly being who is reluctant to reveal his connection to her. The more often they meet, the more her memories return, and she begins to piece together who and what she really is—as well as past mistakes that yield cosmic consequences.

From the author of The Paper Magician series comes a haunting and otherworldly tale of folly and consequence, forgiveness and redemption.

 

My Thoughts

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book but it wasn’t blow-me-out-of-the-water-amazing. It was interesting and I liked how there were glimpses of classic fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel, and the gingerbread boy. Of course the book does take place in some fantasy world that we get glimpses of but it is only a surface treatment of world-building. It mostly works since our narrator, Maire, doesn’t remember anything of her life before she arrived in her village just over four years earlier. But I’m at the point right now where I’m craving fantasy worlds with world-building on an epic scale so this did not satisfy that need.

The descriptions of things, particularly Maire’s thoughts and emotional memories as she creates her baked goods, are rather well done. And it didn’t take long before the peaceful village was raided by marauders and the story really started with Maire being captured and sold as a slave. I can say that I enjoyed that she didn’t passively go into captivity. Instead she tries to hide, and then after captured she doesn’t give up and fights back, hoping that even if she doesn’t escape, some of the others will.

But most of this story felt a little slow to me. It took so long to really unravel the mystery of who and what Maire was. So we spend most of the story following her as she makes a massive gingerbread house with biscotti for the chimney, and then she makes a large gingerbread boy. Oh, and I guess she does get random visits from a spectral figure named Fyel, who knows all about her past but only gives her vague non-answers, because apparently if she denies any of the truth then she’ll cease to exist. I admit that was an intriguing consequence. Maire doesn’t fully remember until the last few chapters of the story so it takes quite a while to reach that point.

And Maire’s ability to infuse emotions or ideals into her baking was interesting but I found myself wishing for a bit more reasoning behind it. I mean, after learning the truth of Maire’s identity I understood why she had the ability she did but I still found myself wanting more details. Again, we fall into the category of a thin layer of world-building ideas.

Still, I was able to read this book rather quickly and it held my attention enough that I didn’t stray too much. I do recommend this book, though not on an empty stomach. It will have you craving cookies, cakes, etc.

Where to Buy

You can find Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Booksamillion, and Book Depository, or most anywhere books are sold.

There is also currently a giveaway for this book on Goodreads, but hurry because the giveaway ends today (June 28th)

Signal Boost: Adam J Wright

Hey all, Dani here.

Welcome back to Signal Boost, my weekly segment where I share about books, movies, TV shows, Kickstarter campaigns, graphic novels, authors, or anything else I would like more people to know about. I can’t take the credit for coming up with this, though. I was inspired after watching Signal Boost on Geek & Sundry.

Today, I want to talk about an author I discovered a couple months ago, and I’m really enjoying his books. The third one in the series just came out and the fourth one is scheduled for next month, I think. Can I say that I’m jealous of how prolific he is? Because I am, but I’m also proud that other writers can keep up with that kind of writing pace. I need to get better about being more focused and writing on my novels more.

Anyway, today I want to talk about Adam J Wright and his Harbinger P.I. series.

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First, I want to share the summary for Lost Soul, the first book in the series.

Alec Harbinger is a preternatural investigator, a hunter of things that go bump in the night. When his employers, the Society of Shadows, banish him from his Chicago office to a small town in Maine, Alec thinks his career and life are over. How is a preternatural investigator supposed to find work in a sleepy town in the middle of nowhere? But when a local teenager comes back from a weekend at the lake with an altered personality, Alec is hired to investigate a possible demon possession. A young man turning up at Alec’s office insisting he’s been bitten by a werewolf adds to the caseload. And just to make his first day at the office perfect, Alec discovers that someone in the Society of Shadows is trying to kill him with ogre assassins. No work for a preternatural investigator in a sleepy Maine town? Yeah, about that…

These are quick reads, just over a couple hundred pages each. I would somewhat compare them to books like the Dresden Files. Alec is an interesting character and he works with his assistant Felicity, and there are regular appearances by Alec’s friend Mallory who is absolutely amazing. I could just as easily follow a series about her adventures and struggles with her past and such.

I’m enjoying the story and the jobs Alec is hired for, and I can definitely see how Adam J Wright is improving in his writing and storytelling the further he gets into the series. I gave Lost Soul a 4 star rating, and Buried Memory earned a 4.5 star rating. My only issue with both books really is the length. When it comes to investigators trying to solve something I expect for there to be a wrong turn to a dead end, and for there to be a couple red herrings thrown in for good measure. For the most part these books are fairly straightforward.

But obviously I keep coming back to read them. So while they aren’t complex, they are fun and interesting enough. I wouldn’t place them in my series reading category, more like light reading or guilty pleasure reading. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We readers all like to have those books we can read for a quick fun adventure, and the Harbinger P.I. series definitely does that for me.

I’m placing my order for Dark Magic, the third book in the series today, and Adam Wright already did a cover reveal for book 4 and I so love these covers. They are awesome.

This is a slightly shorter Signal Boost but I don’t want to risk spoiling parts of the books. Just, if you’re a fan of series like the Dresden Files or you like urban fantasy that follow a supernatural investigation team, then this is probably something you’ll want to pick up.

Plus you would be helping out a self-published author, and I think it’s awesome to support other authors in their creative endeavors.

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

Hey all, Dani here.

Continuing on with my celebration of the American Library Association’s GLBT Book Month, I want to talk about this great book I read recently, which focused on two awesome characters, who just happen to be transgendered teens.

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David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth: David wants to be a girl.

On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal: to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in his class is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long , and soon everyone knows that Leo used to be a girl.

As David prepares to come out to his family and transition into life as a girl and Leo wrestles with figuring out how to deal with people who try to define him through his history, they find in each other the friendship and support they need to navigate life as transgender teens as well as the courage to decide for themselves what normal really means.

From the very beginning of the book David tells you that he wants to be a girl, feels that he was supposed to be a girl. In fact, after finishing this book I have to actively focus on referring to the character as he/him for the purpose of this review. I guess I just have no issue accepting a person as they wish to be, so I have no problem following her story as it progresses.

David’s friends, I think, are awesome for accepting who David is, and I actually love that they lovingly tease him about the guy he has a crush on.

But David has been struggling with wanting to tell his parents the truth, and it isn’t until a friendship forms with new student Leo that David is able to have that confidence…and that’s because he finds a confidant like no other in Leo, who was born a girl and has already transitioned.

Now, I have to take a moment and say that the families of both main characters were a special highlight in the book for me. David’s parents seemed cool and as David struggled with how and when to tell them the truth, I already had a suspicion that they would accept who David wanted to be because they loved him. And even though Leo’s family had some issues, obviously his mom supported his decision to transition because she refers to Leo as a boy and doesn’t use his female birth name and such. So in the end, Leo’s mom is also a great supportive character.

It was nice to see those positive family dynamics in the story. There are just so many stories out there in the YA universe where parents are absent or cruel, and while that works sometimes it just isn’t always true to life.

Part of me would like to have a short story, possibly a novella, set a few years after this book, just to check in on the characters and see how they’re doing. I want to imagine that David has fully transitioned into who she means to be, and maybe both she and Leo are going to the same university or something. I don’t know; I just want to see them in happy healthy futures, whether that is as good friends or maybe they become a couple. Either way I would be happy for them.

All in all I ended up giving this book a rating of 5 stars, and I highly recommend it.

Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

Hey all, Dani here.

This is going to be a review unlike a lot of my other ones…mostly in the fact that I’m going to divide the review up–one section spoiler-free and then one with spoilers. Don’t worry, I will definitely alert you to incoming spoilers; I don’t want to ruin this amazing book for anyone.

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Summary

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

My Thoughts (Spoiler Free)

I really enjoyed reading the first book of this trilogy and really enjoyed the characters and the bit of the fae world we got to see. However, this book made me wish I could go back and change my rating just to show how much better the second one is. (And yes, I know I can go back and edit my reviews; I’m not going to.)

After the events of ACOTAR, Feyre has a lot to deal with. I’m so glad that she doesn’t immediately get over the trials, the fact that she died, or that she was resurrected as a fae with a mortal heart. The fact that she has some post traumatic stress issues made it that much more believable, at least for me.

Of course, it doesn’t take too long before the High Lord of the Night Court, Rhysand, comes to collect on the bargain struck between himself and Feyre…and that bargain is what allows us to visit the Night Court, which is quite a bit different from Tamsin’s Spring Court, and I have to say that I really loved the Night Court. It was so vibrant and alive.

Plus, we meet some amazing characters in this book. I loved Mor, Azriel, Amren, and Cassian so much.

And Rhysand…I knew there had to be more depth to him. In ACOTAR I felt like we were barely scratching the surface, so I’m glad we got to learn more about him in this book.

Things get so much more complicated in this book, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There is a darkness on the horizon, and hints of an evil that will need to be stopped, possibly with a war. The summary and the story make it seem like the whole thing depends on Feyre and she’ll be the only one able to defeat this enemy, but frankly I think if that happens I’ll be greatly disappointed. So many awesome characters and badass warrior-types were introduced so far, and it really should be more of a team effort.

So that’s what I’m hoping happens. Man, the wait until the third book in 2017 is going to take forever. Okay, so here we go…heading into the spoiler section. If you haven’t read the book yet and don’t want to be spoiled for events that happen, stop reading now.

Spoilers ahead

Continue reading

Signal Boost: Mistborn Board Game

Hey all, Dani here.

Welcome back to Signal Boost, a weekly post where I share some geeky something-or-other that I think more people should know about. Sometimes it’s a book, a movie, or a web site, while other times it will be a crowdfunding campaign or an event.

Today, I’m talking about a brand new Kickstarter campaign. Crafty Games seems to be a big fan of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series, and I can’t blame them. I adore the world and the magic system and always wanted to play in it. I guess it was pretty cool when the Mistborn Adventure Game was released (and it’s even better to play it with my lovely Mistborn Allomantic dice set).

Now Crafty Games has designed Mistborn: House War, a boardgame set in the Mistborn world. The campaign went live on Kickstarter on Wednesday, June 15, and was funded before the first day even ended.

So, I guess this might make you say “well, Dani, doesn’t that mean that it doesn’t really need to be signal boosted”…and yes, I guess that is partially true, because it is based on a popular series by a popular author, but I really love Mistborn.

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I mean, I own all of the series that I can own right now–I have to have matching sets, so since the newest books were released in hardcover first, and I have paperbacks, there’s a delay for me. Thankfully Shadows of Self is out in October and Bands of Mourning is out in January 2017. I’m also planning to get the whole series with the UK covers too, because I really like the cover designs.

But I’m also a huge fan of board games, and I like the concept for Mistborn: House War, because it is simultaneously cooperative and competitive. You work together to keep the empire strong, while also competing against each other to earn the favor of the Lord Ruler. The only thing about this game that I’m bummed about is that it’s only playable for 3-5 players. My normal game night typically has 9 people, so typically we play games where we can all play at once. Still, this definitely sounds like a game to play with my bookish friends.

I should say that if you don’t participate in the Kickstarter and you later want to buy the board game, it will be available for retail. HOWEVER, the retail version will not have any of the add-ons included for the Kickstarter edition. The retail version will only give you the options for six great Houses. The Kickstarter version might include all 12 Houses, plus more named Personality Cards, and even plastic miniature playing pieces.

At the time of me finishing this post and publishing it, the campaign has raised over $78,000, which is about 262% of its goal. So far we are halfway through the stretch goals, and there are still 33 days left in the campaign. Here’s to hoping that we smash through all the stretch goals and have a truly amazing board game as a result.

All in all it looks like an awesome game. I’ve already pledged my support to the game, and if you are a fan of Brandon Sanderson in general, or specifically the Mistborn series, then you should definitely check out this board game.

Review: Reliquary by Sarah Fine

Hey all, Dani here.

I’m excited to be sharing this review today for the newest book by Sarah Fine, Reliquary. I received a copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, so I have to add this disclaimer that receiving a free copy does not influence my rating in the slightest.

Okay, now that that’s over with…

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Summary

Mattie Carver’s engagement party should have marked the start of her own personal fairy tale. But when her fiancé, Ben, is violently abducted the next morning, her desperate quest to find him rips her away from small-town life and reveals a shattering truth: magic is real—and Ben is hooked. It’s not the stuff of storybooks. It’s wildly addictive, capable of producing everything from hellish anguish to sensual ecstasy almost beyond human endurance.

Determined to find out who took Ben and why, Mattie immerses herself in a shadowy underworld and comes face-to-face with the darkly alluring Asa Ward, a rogue magic dealer, infamous hustler…and her missing fiancé’s estranged brother. Asa has the power to sense magic, and he realizes Mattie is a reliquary, someone with the rare ability to carry magic within her own body, undetected. Asa agrees to help find Ben on one condition: Mattie must use her uncommon talent to assist his smuggling operations. Now, from magic-laced Vegas casinos to the netherworld clubs of Bangkok, Mattie is on a rescue mission. With Asa by her side, she’ll face not only the supernatural forces arrayed against her but the all-too-human temptation that she fears she can’t resist.

My Thoughts

I think this might be my favorite Sarah Fine book so far…though to be fair I’ve only read her Guards of the Shadowlands series, but man, oh man, this was such a good book.

Also…Asa is my new book boyfriend, and I like him so much better than Ben.

Reliquary is pretty action packed, which should be clear since it basically starts with Ben’s abduction, and then Mattie is dumped into a world she had never known about, a world of magic, which is addictive and leads to a dangerous adventure of a lifetime.

I’m pretty sure that I’m now addicted to this series, so I’m kind of glad that the next book is supposed to be out in a couple months.

Learning about the different types of magic was great, and I’m sure there’s a lot more depth to the magic system, but since we are learning from Mattie’s perspective, and considering the chaos of the situation, there isn’t time to go into an in-depth discussion and history lesson on the topic.

This review sort of sounds like a rambling fangirl experience, but I was just so impressed with the descriptions and the characters and the story in general. When I first read the Guards of the Shadowlands books there was so much detail, especially considering the characters’ psychological states. And while that was cool and all, it made the reading experience a little slow.

Now that Sarah Fine has put out quite a few books–Reliquary is her 12th published book–I feel that she has figured out her writing voice and tone, and she blends together action, description, emotion, and dialogue beautifully to create a story the reader can get drawn into and want to read more of.

Man, Ben doesn’t deserve Mattie at all. With everything that happens in this book, it is clear to me that the second book will have quite a bit of tension, and maybe there’s a chance that things will get better with Ben and Mattie, but I will continue to hope for Mattie to leave him for Asa. He is such a wonderfully complex guy, and I just loved how we gradually got to know more and more about him through the book. It made me grow more and more attached to him. And the chemistry between Mattie and Asa…well, I greatly enjoyed it.

I want to read the next book, Splinter, soon. So with any luck, I’ll be approved by NetGalley and 47North for it too, because I really want to know what happens next.

Where to Buy

Reliquary is out today so you can pick it up at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Booksamillion, and Book Depository

Princess series by Jim C Hines

Hey all, Dani here.

Continuing on my theme for this month of highlighting books that I enjoy with characters who happen to be LGBTQIA+, I have to include this amazing reimagining of some of our favorite fairy tale princesses.

The Princess series by Jim C. Hines is absolutely fantastic. It follows Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty, and they are all kick butt awesome ladies. Picture this story as fairy tale princesses meets Charlie’s Angels. There are four books in the series: The Stepsister Scheme, The Mermaid’s Madness, Red Hood’s Revenge, and The Snow Queen’s Shadow.

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I don’t want to completely spoil anything for this series, but one of the main trio is in love with another of the main trio, and I ship this couple so hard. It is so wonderful and I find it to be incredibly believable. When the one actually revealed her feelings by saving the other with True Love’s Kiss, I was…I don’t want to say surprised, because it wasn’t a shock or anything, but I was definitely excited. I will say that this pairing made me watch Once Upon a Time a bit differently.

Plus, this series takes place after the supposed “Happily Ever After” in each of the fairy tales, and it shows that what we believed to be a happy ending was actually just the start of a lot of misery (mostly)…but these ladies find a way to keep going, to keep fighting, and to strive for a new happy ending.

I would definitely classify this series as more a twist on the Brother’s Grimm version of fairy tales over Disney, because there are some gruesome and adult scenes and themes (for example rape). It wasn’t done to titillate and in my opinion was done as a way to understand why the character is how she is today, and it was frankly an important moment when she discussed the events with her companions.

Anyway, I am absolutely a fan of re-imaginings of fairy tale stories and I thought this was so creative, and I very much enjoyed that it wasn’t all happiness and kittens and rainbows. There are hardships to face and despite taking place in a fictional land, it all felt very real to me. I have become a huge fan of Jim C Hines because of this series (and his Magic Ex Libris series, which features an amazing librarian character who can pull items out of books and then use them–so cool).

Here’s the summary for the first book of the series, The Stepsister Scheme:

You know how all those old fairy tales take you through lots of scary adventures till you finally reach that inevitable line: “And they lived happily ever after…” Guess what? It’s not true. Life in never-never land isn’t all sweetness and light. Cinderella – whose real name is Danielle Whiteshore (nee Danielle de Glas) – does marry Prince Armand. And (if you can ignore the pigeon incident) their wedding is a dream-come-true.

But not long after the “happily ever after,” Danielle is attacked by her stepsister Charlotte, who suddenly has all sorts of magic to call upon. And though Talia – otherwise known as Sleeping Beauty – comes to the rescue (she’s a martial arts master, and all those fairy blessings make her almost unbeatable), Charlotte gets away.

That’s when Danielle discovers a number of disturbing facts: Armand has been kidnapped and taken to the realm of the Fairies; Danielle is pregnant with his child; and the Queen has her very own Secret Service that consists of Talia and Snow (White, of course). Snow is an expert at mirror magic and heavy-duty flirting.

Can three princesses track down Armand and extract both the prince and themselves from the clutches of some of fantasyland’s most nefarious villains?

I’ll be honest, I think Talia is my favorite character. The second book introduces us to an insane version of the Little Mermaid, and wow, that was actually pretty interesting to read. My favorite of the series just might be the third book, which brings in Red Riding Hood, who is a bad ass assassin. The final book wraps up the storylines and gives us a dark version of Snow (who is possessed by a demon). It’s certainly not a 100% happily ever after style ending, but I think that stays true to the concept of the series.

All in all the Princess series is phenomenal and I kind of wish there were more books to look forward to. Maybe someday in the future Hines will decide to return to this lovely world because there are so many fairy tale characters out there that more stories could certainly crop up.

Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Hey all, Dani here.

 

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Summary

Passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them—whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home… forever.

My Thoughts

First can we talk about how pretty that cover is? Seriously, a lot of books are getting covers that just make you want to pick them up. I’m so glad I decided to cave and get the hardcover of this book. It’s lovely.

Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

This book started out a little slow for me. Okay, half-truth there. The prologue was intriguing but then I spent the next few chapters waiting for it to get good. And it did. It just needed a little time to bring Etta into the world of time travel and establish the rules of the universe, etc.

I started turning the pages faster once Etta and Nicholas made their deals with the Ironwoods and started out on their journey. I couldn’t help it. I wanted to know what happened next, and when/where Etta and Nicholas would go when they entered a passage. That was a cool way to handle time travel; they went through these passages that not only transported them through time, but also through place.

Everything started coming together and the pace was picking up. So was the plot and my curiosity. Then, man, the way this book finished…it was an action packed thrill ride.

Now I have to wait until January for the next one, which is also the final one. Duologies are cool, but I find these great books and with a lot of them I think the concept and the world and the characters are so freaking awesome, but I only get to spend two books there. This is why I like big epic fantasy series…more time to adventure in the worlds and more time to hang out with the characters.

I want Etta and Nicholas to be together. I think they work as a couple.

Actually, no, can I have Nicholas instead?

Where to Buy

Again, this is a book that can be found anywhere where books are sold: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Books-a-million, Book Depository, etc.