Book Review – Cinder by Marissa Meyer

image

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the centre of an intergalactic struggle and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Author Hazel

Cinder is the first book in the Lunar Chronicles series. It is a young adult, sci-if romance/fairy tale retelling.

Cinder is based on the popular fairy tale of Cinderella, and has a similar basic plot. Cinder is treated like a slave by her stepmother and stepsister, there is a young, handsome Prince to fall in love with, an enchanting ball and then the pivotal plot point of Cinder losing her glass slipper. Now imagine this beloved story, but in Cinder, Cinderella is a cyborg! She lives in New Beijing, part of the Eastern Commonwealth, created after world war IV. She is a mechanic, and instead of animals as friends, she has androids.

New Beijing is an emergent new society rising from the destruction of world war IV. Earth is plagued by a lethal disease called letumosis. It is also teetering on the edge of another war with Luna. Luna is obviously the moon, but in this story, it is inhabited by Lunars. The leader of this race is the evil Queen Levana, who supposedly killed her own sister in order to take the throne. Lunars have special abilities known colloquially on Earth as magic but scientifically it is explained as manipulation of the bio-chemical electrical signatures within the brain or ‘glamouring’. The emperor of New Beijing has letumosis, so Prince Kaito (Kai) is desperately seeking a cure whilst trying to avoid a political marriage with the evil Queen Levana. He first meets Cinder when he brings his beloved android to be repaired and the fantastic plot and budding romance begins there.

I absolutely loved this book. Marissa Meyer has woven in such a fantastic and intricate plot within the basic story of Cinderella. I love the sci-if aspect of the story and the futuristic time the story is based in. I loved and hated the characters. Iko, Cinder’s android sidekick was brilliant. I loved how she had an almost human personality and her and Cinder’s friendship was lovely. Although Peony was one of Cinder’s stepsisters, they had a lovely sisterly relationship. Dr Erland was an eccentric and a little weird side character, who lends a scientifically heroic hand to Cinder. He was really interesting. Then of course there’s Cinder and Prince Kai. An almost opposites attract relationship, I loved his gentle persuing of Cinder, even when she kept turning him down.

Marissa Meyer wrote Adri and and Queen Levana so well, I hated them(almost as much as Joffrey from GoT lol). Adri was greedy and manipulative and used poor Cinder almost to her death. And Queen Levana is the epitome of evil, leading an entire people with brain washing and manipulation, only succeeding in getting what she wants through these methods.

The story is so gripping and imaginative even with it being a retelling. The story is plot and character driven, and I can’t wait to see where it goes. The characters were so well written, all with distinctive personalities and relationships with each other. It will be interesting to see who else we meet during the rest of the series.

Overall, I loved this book, so much I want to read the next one, Scarlet, straight away, and I rarely read a series back to back. I highly recommend this book and I gave it 5 🌟. Happy reading :mrgreen:📖

Book Club Review – The Diviners by Libba Bray

15783083

It’s 1920s New York City. It’s flappers and Follies, jazz and gin. It’s after the war but before the depression. And for certain group of bright young things it’s the opportunity to party like never before.

For Evie O’Neill, it’s escape. She’s never fit in in small town Ohio and when she causes yet another scandal, she’s shipped off to stay with an uncle in the big city. But far from being exile, this is exactly what she’s always wanted: the chance to show how thoroughly modern and incredibly daring she can be.

But New York City isn’t about just jazz babies and follies girls. It has a darker side. Young women are being murdered across the city. And these aren’t crimes of passion. They’re gruesome. They’re planned. They bear a strange resemblance to an obscure group of tarot cards. And the New York City police can’t solve them alone.

Evie wasn’t just escaping the stifling life of Ohio, she was running from the knowledge of what she could do. She has a secret. A mysterious power that could help catch the killer – if he doesn’t catch her first.

Author – Kiera.

I had really mixed feeling about this month’s book. On the one hand I loved the characters, the setting and the story. But on the other hand it felt very slow and over stuffed with information and storylines, which unfortunately made it less enjoyable to read.
New York in the 20’s was a fascinating time time to read about! The fashion and the parties, the vernacular and the mix of cultures and religions. It was almost a character in itself. I don’t think the story could have been suited so well to any other time or place. The way the time period formed the characters was perfect and I look forward to reading more of it throughout the series.
While on the subject of characters, I had a few favourites – Sam Lloyd being the first. He’s such a playful guy, but the way he treats Evie makes me think he has a softer side too. Theta and Henry were my other characters of choice. I loved the bond they have, and the fact that they treat people kindly and with respect even though they may not have always been treated that way themselves.
The main storyline was just the right amount of mystery and creepy. Naughty John and The Brethren definitely gave me the heebie jeebies, and it was interesting unravelling the story as events unfolded.

One of the disappointments for me was that all these characters had different abilities/powers but we never really saw any of them. I felt that it was a shame for such a long book that it wasn’t one of the main elements. Also the amounts of povs made it feel very disjointed. Everytime I got a good momentum going it would change and it really slowed the reading down. It just felt like the author felt the need to set the ground work for every character she wants to include in the series in the first book, and I just felt that it bogged the story down.
Overall I gave this 🌟🌟🌟

Author – Hazel

The Diviners was my pick for book club this month and I’m glad to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It has been on my TBR for a few months and our lovely Laura bought the book for me for Christmas. I really enjoyed the time period that the story was set in, it added to the atmosphere of the spooky plot. The story is told from quite a few perspectives but there wasn’t one that I didn’t enjoy. The author took her time developing all the characters, but for me this didn’t take away from the storyline. I really enjoyed reading and learning about the characters, but Jericho piqued my interest the most. From the very first introduction of him to the story, the mystery surrounding him grabbed me. I really enjoyed the dynamic between Evie and Sam. Him being very flirtatious and her struggling with a love/hate thing for him. I’m interested to see how the relationships between the characters develop as the story does. I’m also really interested to see how Libba Bray develops the ‘Diviners’ storyline, whether or not they band together as a type of ‘Avengers’ task force or if they continue to struggle alone with their gifts.

Naughty John was a creepy and gruesome bad guy. The way Libba Bray wrote him really did give me the chills. The Brethren, who were essentially Naughty John’s disciples, behaved like a cult and cults and cultish behaviour always rubs me the wrong way, so for me they alone were scary enough.

Overall I loved the book and I’m really looking forward to the next one, Lair of Dreams. I gave this book 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟.

Author – Laura

I really enjoyed this book, it feels both familiar and unique at the same time. Considering the size (a whopping 600+ pages) it took me just 3 sittings to complete. I think I would have struggled reading it in smaller chunks, as there are quite a few different POVs to follow, and storylines that felt like they were going to converge but then just don’t. The dialogue and banter between the characters was my favourite part, with some absolute humdingers –

“Harold Brodie is a louse and a lothario who cheats at cards and has a different girl in his rumble seat every week. That coupe of his is pos-i-tute-ly a petting palace. And he’s a terrible kisser to boot.”
Evie’s parents stared in stunned silence.
“Or so I’ve heard.”

“Theta crashed next to them on the thick zebra-skin rug. “I’m embalmed.”
“Potted and splificated?”
“Ossified to the gills. Time for night-night.

“She is the elephant’s eyebrows,” Evie whispered appreciatively. “Those jewels! How her neck must ache.”

Evie as a character wasn’t all that endearing, but what she lacked in warmth and humility she made up for in sass and charm. She is a proper wild child, who acts first and thinks later. It works in her favour most of the time, but I did feel a bit sorry for Mabel at times! The entire ensemble cast was great, and the atmosphere was so decadent. 1920s NYC is definitely where I would go in a time machine, complete with jewelled headband and fringed flapper dress. I’d even cut my hair short…

I’ll admit to being quite disappointed that after 600 pages there wasn’t some kind of ‘X-Men’ style Diviners team up; it was hinted at all the way through – the book is called ‘The Diviners’ after all, but it just never happened. It would have been a great final battle with Naughty John: to have a few of them use their powers together to defeat the bad guy, but it wasn’t to be.

I’m definitely going to read the second book, and hopefully I’ll get my wish for a superhero showdown, but perhaps with more pearls and less adamantium claws.

Friday Favourites – Female Protagonists.

Author – Kiera.

I was the one who suggested the topic of this FF, but then I started to panic because I couldn’t think of any! Luckily Goodreads came to the rescue, and after going through my read pile I’d made quite a lengthy list. The interesting thing about focusing on a certain aspect of a book is that you start to see similarities you didn’t know were there.

Yelena – Poison Study by Maria V. Synder.

poison-study-young-adult-front-cover2 Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison…

We first meet Yelena in a prison cell. She’s there for committing murder, and when she’s called up for execution she is given a choice – become the new food taster for the commander or death. Obviously she becomes the new poison taster or it would be a very short book! Yelena is one of the most hardy characters I have ever come across. Her survival instinct is unparalleled and she almost always manages to stay ahead of the game.

 

 

 

Deuce – Enclave by Ann Aguirre.

enclaveI really have a soft spot in my heart for the characters in this series. Deuce is fifteen and one of the enclave’s only female huntresses. She faces some of the most harrowing circumstances possible, but she never becomes bitter or resentful in anyway. She sees the world for what it is, and does her best to survive each day. I think that it is Deuce’s age and innocence that makes her such an appealing character.

 

 

 

 

Jane Yellowrock – Skinwalker by Faith Hunter.

Skinwalker-250These books read in a very similar way to the True Blood/ Sookie Stackhouse novels. There is a lot of down time that is filled with tea making and internal monologue, but during that time you really get to know Jane as a character. She has no idea where she came from or who her family are, just that she is of Cherokee descent. Following her while she discovers more about herself and the city she has been hired to protect is an enjoyable ride, and Cherokee heritage isn’t something I had come across before so thumbs up for that too.

 

 

 

Lia – The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

tkod I’m not completely sure what it is that I find so captivating about Lia. She is a Princess and to prevent war breaking out between Kingdoms it is arranged for her to marry a Prince she has never met and certainly doesn’t love. So she does what any girl would do in her position, she makes a run for it and hopes that all hell doesn’t break loose. Now I am aware that actually most people wouldn’t do that, and maybe that is what I like about her. She makes a decision and goes for it. Such a go-getter.

 

 

 

Ivy – Wicked by Jennifer L Armentrout.

22895264Ivy is a character that I think people either love or hate. She is sarcastic, quick witted and can fight like a man. I fall into the love camp. I really enjoyed reading the story from her point of view. The dialogue between her and the other characters had me laughing out loud all the way through this book. Ivy has experienced a lot of loss in her life, and it makes her understandably guarded, but I found that to make her more relateable.

 

 

 

 

There were so many other amazing female characters I wanted to include here, but I wanted to try and keep them as diverse as possible. Which female characters are your favourite?

Friday Favourites – Female Protagonists

Author – Laura

This week we’re going all Girl Power on you, and looking at our favourite female lead characters. With so many worthy women to choose from, this group was difficult to put together. Let us know who you think should be on this list…

Sonea – Magicians Guild Trilogy – Trudy Canavan

Sonea - Magicians Guild

Sonea is a girl from the slums of Imardin who discovers she has a magical ability that is normally only found in the upper classes of society. She spends most of the first book hiding her magic from the Guild, who she believes are trying to capture her. Her abilities are eventually revealed, and she is taken to the Guild where she witnesses something terrible, putting her in even more danger.

I loved reading about Sonea; she has strong values and although she is young you really get a sense of the power she has, and how angry she is! There is a little bit of romance but it doesn’t detract from her own story – she is powerful with or without her man.

Lyra Belacqua – His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

Lyra Belacqua

Lyra Belacqua, or Lyra Silvertongue as she is known, is the eleven-year old girl at the centre of His Dark Materials. And she’s a little brat. I don’t normally like children, real or fictitious, but there was something about this grubby little tomboy that I felt drawn to. It’s probably that she reminds me of me a little bit. I hated school, and was much happier with animals and mud than being with other kids. I also had a strong dislike for authority. Bad news when you’re 11 and everyone is more important than you. It took me a while to get into His Dark Materials, but Lyra is adventurous and naughty enough to keep you interested.

Karigan G’ladheon – Green Rider Series – Kristen Britain

Karigan G'Ladheon

Karigan is a bit of an unlikely hero. She has run away from school to get to her father, but on the way she meets an injured Green Rider, a magical messenger of the king. He asks her to deliver a message to the King of Sacoridia, so Karigan agrees and takes on the mantle of a Green Rider to take the message to the King. Karigan is a bad ass – it was really refreshing to read an Epic Fantasy where the main character is a woman who can really handle herself (with a little help from Horse). This is a great series, well worth a read.

Matilda Wormwood – Matilda – Roald Dahl

Matilda - Roald Dahl

One of the best children’s characters in the history of ever, Matilda is a little girl with a very special ability. I love this story, and although it has sad undertones (she is neglected and eventually left by her horrible parents) everything is ok and the book has a lovely happy ending. This can’t be considered a spoiler – everyone knows this story! Matilda is a sweet kid who you root for immediately, and is so quiet and intelligent you forget that she is only 5 and a half. Protagonist might not be the right word to describe a 5 year old, but she’s a brilliant female lead character all the same.

Sookie Stackhouse – The Southern Vampire Mysteries – Charlaine Harris

Sookie Stackhouse

I chose Sookie because I want her life. I want to be her, and live in Bon Temps, and sunbathe all day, and work in a cool bar, and have big boobs, and long blonde hair… It’s never going to happen, but I enjoyed living vicariously through Sookie. These books are like balm to my soul. So easy to read, plenty of sexy vampires and tasty humans, and enough action to keep the story flowing through the whole series. Sookie is a great lead, enough balls to stand up to the various ‘supes’ in the neighbourhood but sweet and kind, with real Southern charm. Did I mention I want to be her?

Book Club Review – The Darkest Park of the Forest by Holly Black

tdpotf

 

Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

Laura

I have to say, “well done me”, I picked a corker this month! I’ve had my eye on this release for a little while, and although I haven’t read anything by Holly Black before she is a firm favourite with some of the other Bookspa ladies, so I knew there was a good chance we were going to love it.

This book is fabulous. Never too complicated that you have to re-read whole sections of text, but never too boring that you skip them either, the story flows along at a good pace, weaving in and out of Fairfold and taking you in unexpected directions before reaching it’s rather epic final showdown. It feels sort of beautiful, and reads like a dark fairy tale – I kept thinking of The Labyrinth, especially during the faerie revelry. The colours and descriptions are vivid, and the variety of characters, both fae and human, only add to the magic and romance of the story. I loved Hazel and Ben, and the bond between them that is central to the book. I also loved that Hazel was a bit of a badass and didn’t need a knight in shining armour to save her.

I could write loads of gushing praise for The Darkest Part of the Forest, but all in all I think this is one of the best books I’ve read for a long time, and I give it 5 stars *****.

 

Hazel

I really enjoyed this book. I thought the pace was great, I was never bored. Holly Black weaved a magical tale with lots of little twists and turns that kept you wanting more. I didn’t anticipate any of them which made the story even more magical. Her characters were well fleshed out, I loved the relationships between the characters, especially Ben and Hazel’s. The romance was sweet, I loved Jack. Above all, I felt warm and fuzzy whilst reading this book even though some parts got pretty dark and scary, it reminded me of the fairy tales I read in my youth. Wonderful pick Laura 😀

Kiera

I’m going to start by quoting you one my favourite lines from the book. For me this just sums up everything I loved about it.

‘I have loved you from almost the first moment I saw you, wild and fierce and brave, running through the woods, your lips stained purple from blackberry juice.’

I knew from the moment Laura mentioned this book that I would enjoy it. I love the way the Holly Black writes, and she is up there as one of my favourite fantasy authors. It reminded me a lot of The Spiderwick Chronicles, but as a more grown up version – sounds good, right? It was! Reading about all the different faerie creatures and the awful things they got up to was fascinating, and having Jack’s perspective in the mix being fae but in human society was a really interesting view point. The relationships between the characters was such a massive element throughout the story, and really kept the plot moving. The way that you had to unravel the mysteries of the story was so satisfying and I was never disappointed by the outcome. All in all a story of childhood and whimsy and love and magic and imagination. Completely brilliant.

Friday Favourites – Standalones!

Author – Kiera

When I suggested doing standalones as a Friday favourite I thought it would be a really easy topic. What a fool I am! After having a look through my reading history I noticed that actually I read books in a series far more often that I do standalones. Once invested in a series I’m too impatient to wait and must read the next book as soon as possible. If not sooner.

So with that being said here is my little list of standalones that I have read and enjoyed.

 

My Life Next Door – Huntley Fitzpatrick

mlnd“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase’s family embraces Samantha – even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha’s world. She’s suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

 

I finished this book today. It is completely adorable. A typical Young Adult Contemporary but one that addresses a few heavier issues. It made me laugh, it made me mad and it gave me that warm fuzzy feeling. If you are in the mood for something light hearted that still has some substance then I recommend this!

 

Ugly Love – Colleen Hoover.

ulWhen Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

From the Young Adult to the Adult. I read this a while ago after hearing an equal amount of good and bad things about it. I might be broken, because all the things people seemed not to like in this book I loved. It is angsty and some times you just want to shout at the characters, but for some reason that keeps me reading! Plus the sex scenes are pretty damn good.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown – Holly Black.

tcgictTana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

 

 

I know we have all read a million and one vampire stories by now, but I really felt like this book put a very different spin on things! It has a very modern setting and all the outcomes feel realistic. The fact that it is a vampire book that stands alone is even better. Who has time for twenty plus book series anymore?

 

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

rpoIn the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape

 

 

If you like 80’s culture/references, treasure hunting, the internet and generally things that are ‘nerdy’ then I have to ask you – why you haven’t read this yet? I really hope we come up with something like the OASIS (not the band. Ick) soon, because I was made to live in it! Virtual reality + all day in pajamas = heaven! This book left such a clear impression in my mind. The world building is amazing and I loved the characters.

 

There are other standalones that I love – The Night Circus, Illusions of Fate and Tiger Lily are ones that I really wanted to give a little mention, and if you’re interested they all have their own reviews here on thebookspa for you to check out.

Friday Favourites – Book Boyfriends!

Author – Hazel

So it’s my turn this week to share my favourite book boyfriends. Laura and Kiera have chosen some swoon-worthy guys and hopefully I’m adding to the best looking list in the history of lists.

Damon – The Vampire Diaries

image

Honestly, I have a thing for a bad boy. I seem to gravitate towards dark, moody and brooding bad boys. Damon is at the very top of that list. I favoured him over Stefan in the books but when I saw Ian Somerhalder cast as Damon, I fell in love 😍 I’m definitely a ‘Delena’ fan and I hope Ian’s beautiful blue eyes and naughty grin keep us entertained on the TV show for a long time.

Wrath – Black Dagger Brotherhood

image

It’s no secret that us Bookspa girls love J.R Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood books. Luckily, we all melt over a different brother and mine is Wrath. I fell in love with Wrath as soon as I started reading the BDB books and even with the introduction of a lot of hunky, gorgeous brothers, my heart belongs to Wrath. Again he’s dark, moody and brooding, but above all he’s the type that would pick you up, sling you over his shoulder, show you an unforgettable time and take care of you too. From the very beginning I imagined Wrath as the one and only Jason Momoa.

Cam – Wait for you 

image

J Lynn (Jennifer L Armentrout) writes some deliciously sexy male leads. I’m a fan of all the men I’ve read about in her books, but my favourite is Cam. He’s gorgeous, sexy, confident but sweet, caring and loving. And let’s face it, would you say no to a sexy guy, shirtless, cooking you breakfast and baking you cookies!

Cam definitely had me at ‘sweetheart’.

Daemon – The Lux series

image

OK, I lied. Jennifer L Armentrout just writes men that I like. A lot. Daemon is an alien! But there’s no little green men here. Oh no, Daemon is a glorious hunk of deliciousness (sorry all this book boyfriend talk is leaving me swooning). Daemon is arrogant. He has a cocky attitude and is downright horrible sometimes. But as another reviewer put it, he has a beautiful face, a beautiful body and a horrible attitude. The holy trinity of (in my opinion) a hot guy! I think you can see the pattern here. I like bad guys and Daemon is no exception to this.

Alcide – Sookie Stackhouse books (True Blood)

image

Last but certainly not least, Alcide. When reading the True Blood books, I didn’t have a clear favourite guy until Alcide came along in book three. He’s a hunky werewolf. The perfect amount of a ruggedly rough male and a sweet and caring man. Alcide became my favourite very quickly and I absolutely love the cast of him in the TV show.

So there you have it. A pretty hot list, I think you’ll agree. Happy reading 📖:D

Book Review – Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

masque-of-red-death

 

Author – Kiera.

 

My review this week is going to be a bit different. Sort of a three in one. I originally saw Masque of the Red Death while on the hunt for Steam Punk and Dystopian books on Goodreads. It was only after I picked it up that I realised it was based on the novel of the same name by Edgar Allan Poe. So this is where it gets tricky. Bethany Griffin wrote two full novels and a novella based on the original short story, and I have read them all. To be able to reference it properly I thought I should read the original too. Which means this review will be a combination of my thoughts on them all.

Edgar Allan Poe’s short story is based around Prince Prospero and his attempts to avoid the Red Death that is ravaging the lands, by barricading himself in his castle with one thousand guests and throwing lavish masquerade balls. The masquerades are set within seven rooms, each with their own theme and each more disturbing than the last. It is important to note that Prince Prospero is missing a fair few of his marbles. This quote sums it up perfectly for me – ‘There were much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, something of the terrible and not a little of that which might have excited disgust’.

motrdBethany Griffin’s stories take from this idea and spin it into a world of misery and death and an interesting set of characters, while keeping all of the strange atmosphere in Poe’s version. It is based around our main protagonist, Araby Worth. The world has been ripped apart by plague and her father is a scientist that has invented masks that protect people from contagion. The only problem is that Prospero is in charge of distribution of the masks, which means only those who can afford to pay for them are protected. Araby is tormented by the death of her twin brother Finn, and to try and escape the pain she spends a lot of her time in the Debauchery Club with her best friend April. They drink, take drugs and generally try to forget the horrors of the world around them. Here is where we meet Will and Elliot. Will works at the club and Araby is drawn to his tattoos and dark tousled hair. Elliot is April’s brother and he recruits Araby to help his cause to try and make the city a better place – which means taking control away from Prospero.  I’m sure you can see where this is going – love triangle anyone?

dotrdDance of the Red Death is where you can really see the influence of Poe’s novel on this story. The masquerade takes place in this book, and it is just as intense and strange. I really liked the progression of the characters throughout both of these books. There are many twists and turns that I didn’t see coming and they all seem to force the characters forward with decisions they make. From what I have seen there is a divide between Will lovers and Elliot lovers. I am firmly in the Will camp. They both do horrible things, but I think I understand Will’s actions more.

These books feel equally character and story line driven, and in a way the world building is a character in itself. I could clearly picture the city and the club, the swamp filled with crocodiles and the porcelain masks they wore. No detail is left out and it makes for a vibrant reading experience.

I was looking for a gritty Dystopian novel and I certainly got that, with Steampunk elements and a gothic twist too!

Friday Favourites – Book Boyfriends!

Book Boyfriends

Author – Laura

Following Kiera’s exceptional list of handsome princes and dashing heros I have come up with my own, possibly less swoonworthy – top five Book Boyfriends. Fortunately all of our tastes are quite different, so by the end of next week you should have a comprehensive list of our top 15 literary studmuffins.

Book Boyfriends

Bitten – Nick Sorrentino

I’ll admit, I’ve been influenced significantly by Steve Lund, who plays Nick in the TV series. Book Nick is playful, flirty and a bit of a lad. He’s protective without being smothering, and is a bit of a joker. Tick, tick and tick. I’m not sure if I imagined Nick to look the way he does in the TV version, but let’s take a minute to give thanks to the casting agent for making what must have been a very difficult decision.

The Hunger Games – Gale Hawthorne

I’ve always been Team Gale. Even though you’re supposed to like Peeta, and root for him and Katniss to pull through, it’s always been Gale for me. He’s strong and loyal, and he loves Katniss despite everything that has happened, including her pretending to be in love with Peeta throughout the series. I think Gale is the heart, Peeta is the head. I’m heart all the way. Gale is also the only non-supe on my list. Not sure what that’ says about me.

Fallen – Daniel Grigori

Ah Daniel. The Fallen Angel. Daniel is described as having blond hair and grey eyes with violet flecks, but in my head he was dark, with blue eyes. Weird. Either way, the character is mysterious but affectionate, aloof but passionate – he has a really conflicted personality which all stems from his devotion to Luce, which is the kind of love you want from a book boyfriend. He also has a ridiculously hot brother. What’s not to like?

Twilight – Jasper Hale

Team Edward? Team Jacob? Nuh-uh. I’m all about the quiet Southern vampire who speaks like a cowboy and was saved by the love of a good woman. Or vampire. Whatever. Alice and Jasper have a deep, quiet love that doesn’t need a fanfare or big gestures to prove its worth. He’s a peripheral character who is fundamental to the Cullen’s survival. Even with his constant thirst he is kind and loyal, and his ability to influence emotions is one I could definitely make use of. Go Team Jasper!

Fever Series – Jericho Barrons

This one is a slightly odd choice, because frankly Barrons is a bit of an a**hole, but he made me laugh! His humour is so dry, and he’s really sarcastic, which appeal to my darker tendencies. He’s also got a sensitive, caring side, even if you don’t see it very often you know it’s there. To be honest, Mac is pretty annoying, so no wonder he’s grumpy. I picture someone a bit like Jason Momoa in my head – so it makes for a lovely daydream…

Are any of these on your list? Or are you looking for something completely different? Let us know who you’d add 🙂

Mini Review – The Witch of Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper

wosas

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the sea witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island’s whalers safe and prosperous at sea. But before she could learn how to control her power, her mother – the first Roe woman in centuries to turn her back on magic – steals Avery away from her grandmother. Avery must escape before her grandmother dies, taking with her the secrets of the Roe’s power.

The one magical remnant left to Avery is the ability to read dreams, and one night she foresees her own murder. Time is running short, both for her and for the people of her island who need the witches’ help to thrive.

Avery has never read a dream that hasn’t come true, but a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane tells her he can help her change her fate. Becoming a witch may prevent her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers it will also require a sacrifice she never expected. And as she falls in love with Tane, she learns it is his life and hers that hang in the balance.

 

Author – Kiera.

I have mixed feeling about The Witch of Salt and Storm. I really love the premise and the setting. The writing style was lovely and lyrical but it also felt a bit disjointed at times and I had to read a few things twice to understand what was meant. This might be considered a bad thing, and I know some people will find it off putting, but it fit the style of the story quite well. The first half of the book moved at a very slow pace. There is a lot of family history, lore and scene setting to get through. I found it enjoyable but it didn’t move the storyline along as quickly as I would have liked. I loved the magic system, and can understand the lure of the sea. Each of the Roe witches had a different ability from their connection with the sea, and was all so interesting! I just would have liked a bit more of it throughout the book.

There is a good mix of characters, and I found myself drawn towards Avery’s Grandmother and Tane. They both have quite turbulent pasts yet remain honest and likeable.

I know that Whaling happened and why it did. I also understand why it was an integral part of the story, but that being said it wasn’t something I enjoyed reading about.

Overall though I found it slow I did enjoy reading this. Historical fantasy isn’t something I have read much of, and this has definitely made me want to read more.