Review: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Girls Made of Snow and GlassGirls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

☆☆☆☆.5 stars rounded up!!

All she would remember was the story that would be passed down by those watching: the cruel stepmother, and the wronged princess who had returned from the dead to strike her down and take what was hers. She didn’t want their story to end this way. And more than that, she knew she had the power to change it.

This Snow White retelling was completely original and definitely took me by surprise! This is a debut? Seriously? Melissa Bashardoust’s creativity and originality is on full display with this story.

Lynet and her regal stepmother, Mina, have always had a close relationship as far as ‘step’ relationships go. Young Lynet has admired her and aspired to be strong and smart just like Mina. She never knew her own mother and discovers during the course of the story that a magician actually made her from snow under her father’s orders.

Mina, motherless herself, feels her unbeating heart is perfectly normal. She doesn’t know that her own magician father actually cut out her heart at one point and replaced it with one of glass. After living most of her young life feeling unloved, Mina’s goal of marrying Lynet’s father becomes reality for her and she becomes Queen. She is fond of Lynet and feels they have a special bond.

However, when Lynet’s father suddenly decides to make her the Queen of the Southern Territories, displacing Mina as their figurehead, things dramatically change. Now Mina looks at Lynet as a competitor and we all know the best way to take care of competition…

I know from the synopsis it sounds a little strange but trust me, it works. There is some chasing, some running through the woods, some injuries, a potential queer love interest, girls being their own damn heroes and a whole lot more.

I read this book as part of Retellathon. Retellathon is a readathon hosted by some great Booktubers which I am really hoping turns into an annual affair. I used this to satisfy challenge #2: ‘True Love’s Twist’ – read a queer or gender-flipped retelling.

If you are like me and love retellings I would highly recommend this book. It is dark, it is different and it is definitely worth picking up. I cannot wait to see what Bashardoust comes up with next! **I actually read this book in July 2018 but just realized that I had never reviewed it. I guess I was so busy with Retellathon that week that I put it off! Better late than never…

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Review: Hunting Annabelle by Wendy Heard

Hunting AnnabelleHunting Annabelle by Wendy Heard
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Unfortunately, Hunting Annabelle wasn’t the story for me. I did not like this. It started out promising, as the author’s writing is actually quite strong, but the story, yeah, just did not do it for me.

Around the 50% mark was where it seemed to turn for me and I never got my interest back. Our protagonist, Sean Suh, is a Korean-American in his early 20s who you discover early on has some pretty strong urges to hurt and kill young women. In fact, you learn that he acted on these urges at least once in a severe enough manner to have him sentenced to a psychiatric prison. However, at the point where we meet him, he is living with his overbearing and severe mother in a different state from where he committed his crime(s).

As I mentioned, I enjoyed the beginning. It started off strong. It is revealed to you overtime the extent of Sean’s illness and resulting actions and I enjoyed the way that was slowly unfolded for us. He is very much an unreliable narrator and it is unclear early on how much of his thoughts you can actually believe as the truth.

After a certain point however it just got to be too much. Then plot twists occurred where my eyes legit almost rolled out of my head. I just didn’t buy what the author was trying to sell. It completely lost me on the story.

By the final 20% I just couldn’t. I had to push to make it through. However, just because this story wasn’t for me, in no way makes this a bad book. The author’s writing style is very fluid and easy to read. The suspense and uncertainty at the beginning definitely kept me turning the pages. If you are okay with the plot twists, this could probably be a really strong book for you. It is very violent, very messy, very over-the-top but also explores some interesting topics of identity and mental health.

There are readers for every story but unfortunately, this one just didn’t work for me. I want to thank the publisher, Harlequin – MIRA, for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity and I would read more books by Wendy Heard in the future.

**Please note, the protagonist in this has been diagnosed with schizophrenia but he doesn’t self-identify as such and I in no way can comment on how the rep was for that.

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Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires EverywhereLittle Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The relationship between mother and child can be a beautiful thing.

However, it’s not always and it’s not exclusively. Oftentimes it can be messy, complex and immensely stressful for both parties.

In Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng, weaves an intricate tapestry of such relationships.

The resultant story is one of family, loyalty, community and independence. When I went into this book, I thought it was a story, set in the mid-1990s, about the adoption of a Chinese baby by a white family in suburban Ohio and the resulting community reactions/interactions based off that adoption. There is an adoption. The baby is in fact Chinese, but this baby, her birth mother and her adoptive parents are only a very small part of this deeply emotional tale.

Full disclosure, I never cried but I was moved. I was angry at times, sad, emotionally drained. I had my curiosity peaked, I had my temper flare and most importantly, this story made me think about it even when I wasn’t reading it.

I think that is a sign of a strong literary fiction novel doing its job. I had never read a Celeste Ng book before and I was deeply impressed by her subtle way of totally drawing the reader in to the emotions, drama and angst of her characters.

I definitely plan to read more of Ng’s books in the future. Additionally, I did listen to the audiobook for this and thought that the narration was excellent!

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Top 5 Wednesday: Most Anticipated 2019 Releases

2019 is looking like it is going to be an epic year for new releases. I have so many books on my tbr already that narrowing down all of them to a top 5 is a daunting task. I have decided to just focus on the first quarter of the year and only one genre to generate my top 5. The five books listed below are all being released sometime between January 1, 2019 and April 30, 2019. The genre I have selected is YA Fantasy. Without further ado, here are my top 5 selections:

  1. Slayer by Kiersten White (Release Date: January 8, 2019) – If you were ever a fan of the hit series Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, you are probably aware that this book is coming out very soon. I was so pumped when I heard of this book’s existence. First of all, Kiersten White is a hugely popular author and this, a whole new story taking place within the Buffy universe, yes, sign me up! Side Note: ((aka super exciting news)) I was alerted today by the publisher, Simon Teen, that I actually have won a pre-release copy through a Twitter Sweepstakes I entered so should have a copy of this shortly! You better believe I will be reading it in January!
  2. White Stag (Permafrost #1) by Kara Barbieri (Release Date: January 8, 2019) – The last child in a family of only daughters, 17-year-old, Janneke is being raised to be a male heir. While her sisters are training to be good wives and loving mothers, she is being taught to hunt and fight. After her village is attacked, Janneke, the only survivor, is taken prisoner by the evil Goblin King, Lydian. As she finds herself becoming more monster than human, Janneke begins to question who she really is and where she truly belongs. You guys, this books sounds action-packed and brutal and that is totally my aesthetic. Side Note: I am lucky enough to have been included in the Blog Tour for the release of the book so stayed tuned for that in the beginning of January!
  3. A Curse So Dark & Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer (Release Date: January 29, 2019) – Beauty & the Beast retelling. Need I say more? I discovered Brigid Kemmerer this summer when I read her deeply moving YA Contemporary, Letters to the Lost. I was drawn in 100% by her writing and truly loved the story that I was told within those pages. I pretty much decided after that I would read anything this lovely lady produces. I have pre-ordered this and will most likely drop everything once it arrives and get to reading! 
  4. Sherwood by Meagan Spooner (Release Date: March 19, 2019) – Speaking of retellings, I read Meagan Spooner’s retelling of Beauty & the Beast, Hunted, earlier this year and gave it a full and enthusiastic 5-star review. It was so dark and so twisted; as you know, also my aesthetic, that I was over the moon when I discovered Spooner had a new retelling being released in 2019. This sounds so good, you guys. Basically, this is a re-imagining of the story of Robin Hood. In this tale, after the untimely death of Robin Hood, his fiance, Maid Marian dons his green cloak and takes up his bow to fight for the people of Nottingham. Marian needs to become her own hero. In Hunted, one of my favorite aspects was how Belle was no longer a damsel in distress. She saved her own damn self and it was awesome. I know I am going to love this one just as much!
  5. Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1) by Emily A. Duncan (Release Date: April 2, 2019) – Firstly, let’s get out of the way right now, this book has one of the most beautiful covers I have ever seen. I love the stark white background and then the image of the majestic castle and the font with what looks like blood dripping down off of it. Hello. Heart eyes. I love you. The main tagline for this book reads: “A girl who can speak to the Gods must save her people without destroying herself.” Then she meets a boy. They must save a Prince. Danger lurks around every corner. There is an assassination plot. I mean, this sounds spectacular. I was so excited to be asked to take part in the Blog Tour for the release of this book. My post date is April 12th and I can’t wait to share my thoughts on this one with you all. I am going to try like heck to hold out on reading this until March but truth be told, I don’t have the best will power when it comes to anticipated books and I already have a copy so…

Are any of these books on your ‘most anticipated books of 2019 list’? What is on your list? I want to know about the books you are most looking forward to next year. Leave a comment below or reach out to me on any of my social media platforms.

Cheers & Happy Reading!

Review: Senile Squad by Chris LeGrow

Senile Squad: Adventures of the Old BluesSenile Squad: Adventures of the Old Blues by Chris LeGrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.50-stars rounded up**

The Old Blues have gone rogue!

Equal parts cozy mystery + police thriller + comedy, Senile Squad is an enjoyable ride through the streets of Omaha with the wackiest bunch of retirees around! The premise of this story was completely unique and so much fun.

What happens when policemen retire? Set out to pasture before they are mentally ready, this set of lovable Seniors has the opportunity to continue serving and protecting their community, and that’s exactly what they do, in often dirty & hilarious ways.

When a group of high profile citizens, nicknamed The Bureau, come up with an idea to assist the local police force by creating a ‘retirement’ home for Senior Citizen police officers, they just plan to run secret undercover ops and send along tips to the necessary police units. What ends up happening is so much more than that. Energized with the renewed sense of ‘being needed’ and ‘serving a purpose’ the retired Officers end up giving more than was ever anticipated.

The main plot revolves around a ruthless gang leader who uses brute force and extreme violence to solidify his rein of the local neighborhoods. The Old Blues are sick of his bullshit and pull out all the stops to clean up their streets and make them safe for all. These old man are often underestimated and they use that to their advantage. Flying under the radar, and relying on their many years of experience, they’re able to infiltrate neighborhoods and gather intel that regular Officers would never be able to obtain.

Was this perfect? No.
Was this a super entertaining story? Yes.
Do I think you should read this? If you have a good sense of humor, DEFINITELY!

Thank you to the author for the providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I appreciate the opportunity!

Original:I’m in the mood for a mystery with some humor! Picking this one up tonight and really looking forward to it.

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What’s on my Christmas List ((Part II))

Last week I wrote a post that highlighted a few of the books on my Christmas wish list. It’s time for some more. I have been on a self-imposed book buying ban for a couple of months now so I am just itching for some new books. Granted, I have cheated just a wee bit but that being said, I have definitely cut down and for that, I am proud.

Here are a few more bookies I have been dreaming of however:

The Way of Kings (Book One of the Stormlight Archives) by Brandon SandersonBrandon Sanderson is a very beloved fantasy author. He writes mostly adult epic fantasy and I have really been wanting to get into his worlds. One of my favorite Booktubers, Regan, from Peruse Project, raves about him all the time and I want to be a part of that. This is the first book of the Stormlight Archives which currently has three books released. This one is just over 1,000 for the paperback edition so definitely not a light undertaking. I know nothing else about the series and don’t really care to; if Regan recommends it, that’s good enough for me.

Next up is The Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn. I read my first Ahlborn a few months ago and was drawn in by her story and writing style. Additionally, it was nice to read a horror novel by a woman author as there aren’t many of them out there. This book follows a group of friends on a snowboarding weekend at a remote mountain cabin in Colorado. After a blizzard leaves them stranded, they discover they may not be alone in the mountains, and the horrors begin. I love reading wintery books in the winter. There’s nothing better than being snowed in a warm house with a chilling book!

Moving on, let’s go with something from my wish list that is a little lighter, both in content and size. How about a YA Contemporary? I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman follows Angel Rahimi, a teenage fangirl, who finds herself thrust in the life of her favorite band’s front man. This book gets great reviews and I enjoy reading books about fandoms. Although I have never been much of a fangirl in a ‘music’ sense, I definitely know what it is like to fangirl over certain authors or geeky scifi pop culture.

Staying in the YA genre, another book high up on my Christmas wish list is The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is one of my all-time favorite classics and this book, which released this Fall, is a re-imagining of that tale. Following the perspective of Elizabeth Lavenza, a girl who lives and works in the house of Victor Frankenstein, this story has received fairly strong reviews but I would like to decide for myself. This cover is the most gorgeous shade of pink and I need this to grace my shelves!

Lastly, let’s talk about The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke. This is a YA standalone fantasy that has been dubbed a retelling of Beowulf. This story follows a band of mercenary girls in search of glory. There are monsters and girl power and the cover is divine and I WANT IT!

Well that about wraps up my Christmas day dreaming! What about you? What books have you been dreaming about lately? I want to know! Leave me a comment below or contact me through any of my social media links!

Cheers & Happy Friday!

Review: Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J. Maas

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3)Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

12/12/18: Reflections of 2018 continue with this book, Heir of Fire my favorite book read in April. Since reading this, I have also completed, Queen of Shadows. At the time when I finished this one, it was my FAVORITE of the series. Now it is QoS. For me, they keep getting better and better.

I know haters out there.

That’s fine. No shame here. I am TRASH for this series. Fight me.

Manon gives me life and getting to know her during the course of this book was so entertaining for me. I am equally obsessed with Abraxos and know that my heart is ultimately going to end up being broken in that regard ((NO SPOILERS PLEASE)).

Also, it is now apparent to me that I never wrote a full review for this so, boo on me. Fail.

Original: Oh. My. Wyrd. What an ending! This series! (Fans self) Full review to come…

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Review: Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

Bellweather RhapsodyBellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**A quirky and oddly compelling tale**

Bellweather Rhapsody was like nothing I have ever read before. I really enjoyed it. It was 100% unique and read like a Wes Anderson film.

The setting is the Bellweather Hotel: large, a bit in disrepair and possibly haunted. The cast of characters: flawed, nerdy, dangerous and dramatic. The plot: a weekend music gathering for the most talented young musicians in the state of New York; obviously dramatics ensue.

Two of our main characters from the high school perspective are Alice and Rabbit Hatmaker, a brother and sister duo, who are basically the novel interpretation of what would happen if Rachel Berry and Kurt Hummel were brother and sister.

Aspirations and attitudes are high both among the kids and the adults. This was completely entertaining even though I can hardly form into words an accurate description of what I just read. There is a lot going on including murder, hauntings (both external and internal), disappearances, shouting matches, a love affair, self discovery, robbery and so much more.

I am so glad I picked this up. It was as random as this storyline and I’m down for that. I would recommend this for any music geeks out there – you know who you are. Be proud and read this book!

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The Troop by Nick Cutter: Revisited

The TroopThe Troop by Nick Cutter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

12/7/18: Continuing my reflection on books I read in 2018, The Troop is going to win my ‘Favorite Book of March’ award.

It was a tight race between this and Wizard & Glass: Book 4 of The Dark Tower. I decided on The Troop because it was my first ever Nick Cutter book and to say I was impressed would be the understatement of the year. This man can write some horror and I am down for that. Now one of my autobuy authors, this book placed him towards the top of my most loved author list. Well played, Mr. Cutter. Well played.

Original: I finished this book back on March 18th and still haven’t written a review. The main reason for this is that I am nervous about being able to adequately express how much I enjoyed it.

This is a horror novel that follows a group of boys who are taken by their Scoutmaster to a island off the coast of Eastern Canada for a weekend camping trip. When a very ill stranger stumbles into their cabin, a horror is unleashed that is beyond all expectation.

The characters were so well drawn and their relationships and inner thoughts so well expressed that in spite of being a horror novel, this can be appreciated as a true character piece. In a way, it reminded me a lot of Lord of the Flies. With this comparison I am thinking of how each character is sort of placed into a stereotypical societal role and then we see how those roles play off one another. Among the group of boys we have the tough guy, alpha male; the nerdy, know-it-all, mother of the group; the golden boy who excels at sports and gets along with everyone; a wiry, cagey little guy with the absentee father and bad temper; and finally the sociopath who’s inner thoughts are a horror story unto themselves!

I was so impressed with the quality of Cutter’s writing and have already purchased another book of his, The Deep, which I plan to read in May. One of my favorite aspects of this book was the incorporation of mixed media sources; I believe I read in the Author’s Note him citing being inspired by Stephen King’s, Carrie, for this which is also very cool. I am so happy to have found a new horror writer that is original and who I can enjoy for years to come!

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