Novella Mini-Review: Gilded Ashes (Cruel Beauty Universe)

Title: Gilded Ashes
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Completed: April 7, 2014
Source: Purchased via GooglePlay
Genre: Fantasy (YA)
Related Posts: Cruel Beauty

   “Orphan Maia doesn’t see the point of love when it only brings pain: Her dying mother made a bargain with the evil, all-powerful ruler of their world that anyone who hurt her beloved daughter would be punished; her new stepmother went mad with grief when Maia’s father died; and her stepsisters are desperate for their mother’s approval, yet she always spurns them. And though her family has turned her into a despised servant, Maia must always pretend to be happy, or else they’ll all be struck dead by the curse.
    Anax, heir to the Duke of Sardis, doesn’t believe in love either—not since he discovered that his childhood sweetheart was only using him for his noble title. What’s the point of pretending to fall in love with a girl just so she’ll pretend to fall in love with him back? But when his father invites all the suitable girls in the kingdom to a masked ball, Anax must finally give in and select a wife.
    As fate would have it, the preparations for the masquerade bring him Maia, who was asked by her eldest stepsister to deliver letters to Anax. Despite a prickly first encounter, he is charmed and intrigued by this mysterious girl who doesn’t believe in love. Anax can’t help wishing to see her again—and when he does, he can’t help falling in love with her. Against her will, Maia starts to fall in love with him too. But how can she be with him when every moment his life is in danger from her mother’s deadly bargain?” — From Goodreads

WHAT I LIKED

  • It was an interesting and really creative take on Cinderella! I liked how it tied into the Cruel Beauty world. It definitely felt like it really fit with CRUEL BEAUTY and how things overlapped.
  • I was never quite sure exactly how the story would wrap up! It really kept me guessing.
  • I loved Anax. And you know what, I really liked Maia too. I enjoyed their time together as well as how it all ended up happening.
  • Ignifex! So interesting to see him again. Loved how it came back into play.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

  • The ending…? It was kind of a toss-up for me. I liked it but at the same time, I don’t know if I did. Everything tied up but it wasn’t the ending I expected.
  • Guys……. I just don’t think I’m a fan of the Cruel Beauty world. This novella definitely had the same feel to it but that helped me realize that it wasn’t necessarily the characters that I didn’t connect with. I think it might have been the world. I guess that will really make me reconsider whether I want to read the rest of this series when it comes out.

Have you read Gilded Ashes? How did you feel about the Cinderella retelling take on the story? Did you feel like it fit in well with the Cruel Beauty universe?

Open Road Summer – Emery Lord

Open Road SummerCompleted: April 11, 2014
Publishing Info: April 15th 2014 by Walker Childrens
Source: eGalley approved by publisher via Netgalley
Genre: Contemporary (YA)
POV: First Person (Reagan)
Find It Online:  Goodreads || Amazon || B&N

   “After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.” — From Goodreads

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I don’t even like country music but somehow I end up falling in love with books about them. I was in the middle of a few super heavy books and wanted to start something light to combat the book hangover I was about to have… OPEN ROAD SUMMER was the perfect feel-good book but… well, it also gave me a book hangover because it was just SO good!! I had heard SO many good things about this book from my fellow lovely blogger friends before I had started so as I usually am, I was a tiiiny but scared that the hype of it so far would make me not love it as much. Thank GOODNESS that wasn’t an issue. Really from start to finish, I enjoyed every aspect of OPEN ROAD SUMMER. From the characters to the plot to the places the book could have gone but thankfully didn’t… And every scene just felt so incredible and magical. I was pretty much swooning the whole time — and that was even before I got to read about Matt Finch!

OPEN ROAD SUMMER follows Reagan as she spends the summer with her best friend Dee. And oh yeah, Dee just happens to be country superstar Lilah Montgomery and spending the summer together entails a 24 city concert tour. But this summer is exactly what Reagan needs to step away from her life and the decisions she needs to reconsider and try to start the next year with a clean slate. I really liked Reagan and I appreciated that she was really trying to turn her life around. She’s had some hard times in her life with her mother leaving their family when she was young and as much as she loves her dad, she isn’t a huge fan of her stepmom and they really just don’t get along.
I absolutely loved the celebrity and music super star aspect of this story which is not something I really would have ever expected. I really felt like I got an insight into the “normal” side of the celebrity life. I feel like celebrities are so built up in our minds that we often forget that they’re just normal people and it was really interesting to see the other side of that. Dee (to her friends, Lilah to her fans) loves what she does but that doesn’t mean she leads an easy life. She works hard to maintain a good, clean image to appeal to children and adults alike, so when a misleading scandal hits the news, Dee’s publicist decides to invite long-time friend and all-around good guy Matt Finch to open for Dee on tour.

Oh, Matt Finch. Count me in the Matt Finch fanclub for sure. I was nervous when we first met him, hearing that he had such a clean reputation and he didn’t even like lying even when helping out a friend — I was worried he would turn out to be a little too good for my tastes but don’t worry! There are many, many facets to Matt Finch and he easily had me swooning. Major swoons, guys. Major swoons. He and Reagan had such fantastic chemistry and don’t EVEN get me started on the forbidden romance aspect. It just KILLS me. See, part of the deal with Matt coming on tour is that he is supposed to be leading the press into thinking that he and Dee/Lilah are dating to help combat the bad press and rumors going around. Matt and Reagan have amazing chemistry but they can’t allow themselves to date because, well, Matt is supposed to come off as Lilah’s new love interest. AHHH. The tension. I died.

Okay, I don’t want to give away the whole story, but it’s so hard to write all the things about this book and not just GUSH. I absolutely loved it with very, very minor issues involving Reagan’s former path of rebelling and self-destruction. Overall, I really loved the characters, loved the romance, and loved the entire feel of the book. Each scene just really felt so genuine and I really felt like I was experiencing it as well. It’s everything I could possibly imagine that the perfect summer would be like! Great friendships, great romances, great adventures. I could honestly gush about this book so much more, but I’ll leave you to go pick it up yourself… (Which I hope you’re doing as soon as you finish reading this. GO! It’s okay. I’ll wait.)

THE VIEW FROM GOODREADS

“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters! ors

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Reagan O’Neill || Character Obsessions: Shoes, boys, making a clean start.
I loved Reagan. She has so much going on in her life and got this new opportunity to turn her life around and it says so much that she took it. She didn’t have the easiest life but she also didn’t make it easy for herself and it was so awesome to watch her figure everything out and take control over her life again. Not to mention she made a GREAT choice to end up liking Matt <3
Delilah Montgomery || Character Obsessions: Music, her guitar, Jimmy, a good image.
I also loved Dee! She is SUCH a great friend to Reagan and she’s sort of like that friend who’s kind of like a mom. She’s always looking out for Reagan and tries to steer her to make good decisions but supports her even when she makes the wrong ones. They rarely fight and have such a wonderful friendship. The fame never goes to her head and she’s just a really good person.
Matt Finch || Character Obsessions: Music, his mom, his friends, Reagan.
I thought about just writing “SWOOOOOON” but I guess I should put some real words in here. Matt Finch is the good guy that girls hope exist but deep down think will they will never meet. Of course he has some flaws (what guy doesn’t) but please, they’re minor because Matt Finch is a ball of amazing. (Yeah, I can’t do it. SWOOOOOOON.)

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Kept Me Hooked On: Music-themed books. I don’t even like country music and somehow books involving country music JUST GET ME. I just really loved the tour aspect, the song-writing aspect — just so many parts involving the music and how it played such a big role in the book in so many ways.
Left Me Wanting More: MATT FINCH. Just always more Matt, right? Right.

Addiction Rating
BUY IT!

I looooooved it. So much. I instantly pre-ordered as soon as I was finished with my egalley because I NEEDED this one for my shelves.

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(Click the cover to see my review!)

        Dirty Little Secret       The Book of Broken Hearts

Book and a Beverage [52] – Kelley from Oh, the Books!

Book and a Beverage

Welcome back to BOOK AND A BEVERAGE!

In case you don’t know the deal about Book and a Beverage, it’s a very simple yet fun feature: We read books, we drink beverages, we take pictures of them and then I share your photos and a little about you to the blogging world!

Give a big welcome to Kelley from Oh, the Books!

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Name & Blog Name: My name is Kelley and my blog is called Oh, the Books! (I previously had a blog called Another Novel Read as well) — Oh, and my cat’s name is Genovieve!
Tell us a little about your blog! Oh, the Books! is a collaboration between me and two of my absolute favorite people: Asti from A Bookish Heart and Leanne from Literary Excursion. We’ve all had so much fun as book bloggers this past year, but our lives were getting so busy that all three of us were on the verge of either hiatus or — dare I say it — having to stop blogging. So we decided to band together and see if we could hold each other up and lighten one another’s burdens! Our site has been up for about a month and a half now and we’re having a blast! This way, we get to focus on our favorite types of posts, and put out quality content, without feeling the pressure to put up “filler” posts just to keep our site active. (Sorry, was that more than “a little”?)
What’s been your favorite post you’ve written so far? (Link us up!) I think some of my favorite posts have been ones where I get to share a bit about my personal life as well as my bookish life, like…


Got anything special coming up we should know about? IHmm, I’ve got a couple new posts coming up in my “Exploring Tarot with…” series, as well as some discussion posts I had a lot of fun writing. I’ve also been enjoying being Asti’s assistant with The Bookish Games this time around, and next time is going to be a theme of my choosing — muahaha!

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Whatcha reading?
Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor!
Where did it come from? (Library, purchased, publisher, etc) I pre-ordered it on B&N the moment I heard that it was coming with an exclusive, signed art print by Laini Taylor!
Any special reason you chose to feature this book? It’s my current read — as soon as it arrived, it basically overrode anything else I was reading at the moment. The conclusion to one of my all-time favorites series? How could I wait?!
What’s important that we should know about this book? Would you recommend it? Well, I’ve barely gotten into it so far, but as I said, it’s one of my all-time favorite series. Laini Taylor is a MASTER at vivid imagery and lyrical prose. I’d recommend this series to anyone who likes YA, fantasy, beautiful writing, or weird stories!

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Whatcha drinking? In my cute little yellow cup (yes, I chose it to match the book cover) is just a quick vanilla cappuccino. I chose that little cup because it matches, but I actually enjoyed having a small serving of a hot beverage, because I got to drink it all before it got cold!
What’s your favorite thing to drink while reading? You know, I don’t think I really drink much while reading, but when I get the opportunity to curl up with a book, I do like to enjoy a glass of red wine with it. A nice mug of coffee is great too.
Favorite beverage of all time. Go! Ouch, this is hard. I’m going to be a bit boring and say ice-cold water. There’s really nothing quite as refreshing as that (and don’t EVEN tell me to drink water if it’s not ice-cold. That would be the opposite of refreshing!).

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What are your top three books you would recommend to other people? This is hard because I like to recommend books based on the particular person’s tastes… But I’m pretty sure just about *everyone’s* heard or seen me recommending Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Grendel by John Gardner, and basically everything by Laini Taylor!
What’s your proudest blogging/reading/writing moment? Ooh, great question, and I’m going to cheat a little bit and answer all three!

  • Proudest blogging moment: Starting up Oh, the Books! with Asti and Leanne, and having it open to such success and positive reception. It’s really rewarding to be partnering with such wonderful people, and to be part of a project that people seem to really enjoy!
  • Proudest reading moment: I guess it’s hard to be proud about reading something (?), but it always makes me feel good when I recommend a book to someone and they end up loving it — especially my husband, because he’s so hard to please!
  • Proudest writing moment: So far? This may seem weird because it’s not actually related to my book blogging, but the post I wrote about being a female gamer (The Trouble with Magic and Me) has been met with a lot of encouragement from the community.

Anything else you’d like to share? Ummm, how about this video of my cat eating pizza

Thanks, Kelley! So happy to have you on Book and a Beverage! Firstly, your cat is adorable!! I love her little cameo.
I’m in the middle of reading Dreams of Gods and Monsters too and I just don’t want it to end! I’m taking so long because I’m scared to read it haha!

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Kelley! Connect with her at the links below!
Blog || Twitter || Tumblr || Goodreads || Instagram || BookBlogging

Are you interested in being featured on BOOK AND A BEVERAGE? Head on over to this feature’s page for the sign-up form!
** Book and a Beverage sign-ups are temporarily closed due to the large number of wonderful people who have signed up! Check back for sign-ups to re-open in May/June! If you’re anxious to participate, you can always Tweet/Instagram your current #bookandabeverage with the hashtag and I’ll be sure to retweet you! **

And don’t forget! You can participate in Book and a Beverage at any time! Got a book? Got a beverage? Just tweet or post your photo on Instagram using the hashtag #bookandabeverage and I’ll retweet or repost your photo!

#bookandabeverage

Do the Endings of Books/Series Affect Your Overall Opinion?

Thankfully I’ve been going through a lucky streak lately with some of the series that have recently come to an end: I’ve been falling in love with the first in a series, NOT have issues with the second book, and (since they’re most often trilogies) having great success with the last book! I can’t tell you how grateful I am for this recent change in pattern because for a while there, I felt like all of my favorites series were ending with a less-than-thrilling conclusion.

I’ve also had similar experiences with individual books as well, whether it was the beginning or middle of a series or a standalone — I had some books with which I had “slow start” issues but then the book closed with a bang!

The issue I tend to be having lately is that the way these books are ending is obviously the last feeling of the book I have… And that tends to affect my overall feelings and the rating of a book or series. Of course authors and readers alike want the endings of their books or series to be memorable, but where I run into issues is I feel like I let myself be TOO affected by the endings and that seems to be all I remember. Here are some common occurrences for me:

THE SLOW START

I’ve read a lot of books recently that I felt started out a little slowly and then the endings totally made up for the slow pacing in the beginning! But wait, is that fair for the ending to “make up for” elements I didn’t quite enjoy in the beginning? Should fantastic endings really wash away the slower parts in the beginning of the book? I recently had an experience where I was overwhelmed with how much I loved the second half of a book (a total 5-star ending, in my opinion) and so when I finished and rated it on Goodreads, I immediately clicked five stars. When it came time to write my review, I remembered the slower start and the little things I had issues with in the beginning which ultimately led me to CHANGE my rating down a little bit. Only to 4.25 to 4.5 stars, but still. I didn’t think it was fair to give a book a five star rating if I wasn’t enthralled the WHOLE book.

THE SERIES ENDER DUD

Especially with the recent series finale of How I Met Your Mother (although not book related), it’s become apparent that the ending of a book or series really can affect someone’s entire opinion of the overall picture. There have been a couple different trilogies I can think of where I loved book one, even enjoyed book two, but the last book really disappointed me and I was incredibly upset at how the series wrapped up. The fact that I didn’t like the way the series ended actually made me want to not recommend someone else to even start it. I can’t suggest that someone else start a series if I was so disappointed with the way it ended.

THE “WTF JUST HAPPENED”?

Ever finish a book and you were just baffled that THAT was the way the book ended? Whether it was something totally out of character, a random twist, a too-easy cheesy ending, or a complete change of character personality, there are some occasions where I have enjoyed a whole book… UNTIL THE ENDING. Aside from a bad series ender, I think this is one of the most disappointing things to come across. It’s a terrible shame to enjoy a whole book and then hate the way it ended.

THE CLIFFHANGER OR OPEN ENDER

Personally, I don’t usually get upset over cliffhangers. I know a lot of people hate being kept in the dark until the next book and sometimes I do think cliffhangers make it difficult to remember exactly what happened before starting the next book because I have to remember EXACTLY where the book ended. Then again, cliffhangers may also help you remember EXACTLY how the previous book ended because you’ve been wondering the whole time!
More frustrating for me is an open ending. I like a good, solid, closed-book finish. There are some instances in which I know where the author truly was leading and I can fit the pieces together. There are other cases where a little too much is left open-ended and all I want is the author to tell me HOW THIS BOOK OR SERIES REALLY ENDED. Especially if it’s a series — I invested so much time to see how it ends and then I don’t really get to see how it ends!

THE 2ND HALF SQUAD

On the flip side, I always appreciate when an author totally turns a book or series around for the better! There are a few series where I enjoyed the first couple books but you can really see how much the author grew through out the series in terms of writing, plotting, character development — the works. I love seeing an author truly grow with their works!
Similar to the slow start, I also like when things really start to come together in the second half of a book! I may get impatient sometimes with slow starts or with a lot of set-up, but I feel like once the plot gets rolling and the book needs to start heating up the conflicts so they can be resolved, the pieces really start to come together and feel like a more cohesive story. Times like these I tend to finish a book and possibly change my review to increase my star rating.

So the big question is, does the conclusion of a book affect your overall opinion of it? Would you ever change your rating based on further analysis? If a series ends poorly, does that make you not recommend it even if the rest of the books were good? Or vice versa, if a series ends well but you had lukewarm feelings about the beginning, would that pop up on your recommendations list? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

In the meantime, here are some of the more positive experiences I’ve had with series enders and fantastic standalone enders! These are ones that I highly recommend and I don’t feel will disappoint! (Photos will lead you to my reviews!)

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(Technically hasn’t ended yet but each book gets better and better!!!)

STANDALONES

                 

Top Ten Tuesday: April 15, 2014 – Top Ten Bookish Things (That Aren’t Books) That I’d Like To Own

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It’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the wonderful blog at The Broke and the Bookish! This week’s topic: 
Top Ten Bookish Things (That Aren’t Books) That I’d Like To Own

Oh there are just so many bookish gifts and things and AWESOME out there in the world. How do I possibly choose? To be honest, I have no idea, but here’s a list for Santa should he need ideas for me this Christmas: 

LITERARY CANDLES. Yep. I need them. I actually haven’t bought any yet myself but Alyssa DID get me a Princess Bride-themed candle for Christmas last year! It’s called “The Cliffs of Insanity” <3 She got it from the Frostbeard Etsy Store which has SO MANY THINGS TO CHOOSE FROM. I kind of want them all.

  

Then there is this freaking gem that is HARRY POTTER CANDLES. I want these. A lot. These babies are from a website called Fandlemonium (and yes, they have other ones besides Harry Potter too.) I want them SO badly but they’re more money than I’m willing to spend on candles at the moment!

    

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ANYTHING MARAUDER’S MAP. I realized back when I was looking for Christmas gifts last year that somehow I became obsessed with the Marauder’s Map and didn’t even realize it. It just LOOKS so fantastic and I basically want ALL THE GIFTS.

    

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FANTASY MAPS. Well, I really don’t know where I would hang any of these (maybe a T-shirt is in order?) but I soooo want these maps. They look so amazing and I would just sit and stare at them, I’m sure.

 

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BOOK LAPTOP CASE. Because how awesome is this laptop case that looks like a book? So awesome.

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COFFEE MUGS. Because one of my favorite times to drink coffee is while reading and honestly, everything is better with books.

   

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BEER GLASSES. Because besides coffee, I ALSO love beer. Different kind of brews & books!

    

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PRINTS. There are honestly soooooooo many out there that I could possibly want. Again, no place to really put them unless I start decorating our guest room as a Harry Potter room (though really, is that ever a bad idea?) so I will hold off for now.

     

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ACTUAL LITERARY BEER. I actually had the “Take the Black Stout” at a restaurant and it was pretty good! Strong, but good! There are more Game of Thrones beers and I’ll have to research more too…

Okay, so that’s actually only eight but I’m already on fandom overload (and somehow I can’t come up with ten even after searching my Harry Potter Pinterest board! There are really so many more things I could possibly want but I think eight will get the Christmas ideas going, no? :)

Second Star – Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Second StarCompleted: March 9, 2014
Publishing Info: May 13th 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source: Physical ARC from Macmillan. Thanks, Ksenia!!
Genre: Contemporary (YA)
POV: First Person (Wendy)
Find It Online:  Goodreads || Amazon || B&N
Related ReviewsThe Stone Girl – Alyssa B. Sheinmel

   “A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete’s nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she’s falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up–and the troubled beauty trapped between them.” — From Goodreads

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I’m just gonna come right out and say it… SECOND STAR was a very disappointing read for me. I’m not a huge fan of Peter Pan, but as with any retelling or adaptation, when it’s done well (for example, Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson and others non-Peter Pan related), I have the potential to fall in love with it. SECOND STAR was not that book for me.

The synopsis sounds exciting, right? Love, loss, lies, dark magic — the back cover even talks about magical realism which I was incredibly curious about and couldn’t wait to see how magical realism really came into play. The sad fact was that it didn’t. This is a contemporary retelling — which I don’t have a problem with at all, except for the fact that too many elements of the original story, which is obviously a fantasy, were forced to squeeze into the plot of a contemporary novel. It’s just too hard to make a contemporary retelling so parallel to that of the original fantasy and fairy tale. Let me explain…

The book starts off with Wendy Darling graduating high school. She sees a mysterious boy out in the surf at night (“Pete”) and ends up immediately enthralled with him. Deciding to finally go off and try to find her missing brothers John and Michael (who were supposedly killed in a surfing accident but with little trace of them, Wendy had never believed it), Wendy travels from beach to beach looking for clues and ends up crossing paths with Pete in more ways than one. Enter Pete’s nemesis “Jas” (the Captain Hook character who I would have LOVED more “good to be bad” appeal from) and a love triangle between the three.
Okay, that I can do. But I had some major issues with the book and how things were forced to fit in. First: I could have loved the Wendy-Peter-Hook love triangle. I wanted her to choose between the innocent and the corrupt, but the switch from guy to guy happened way too quickly and I didn’t really feel a genuine connection to either one. I also wanted much more dark side from Jas. He IS the nemesis after all, but turns out just to be a good guy who is perceived as bad when he’s just taken a few wrong turns in life. I guess that’s entirely possible as a contemporary adaptation spin on Peter Pan, but I think I was hoping for a more Machiavellian Hook than unfortunate circumstances.
Second: I hated the drug story arc. What? Drugs, you say? Yes. Drug use in books doesn’t really bother me — I’m not always a fan of it, but it doesn’t usually bother me — but what I didn’t like about it in SECOND STAR was the way it was used and how forced it felt. The popular drug among the surfers is…. “fairy dust”. I felt like the drugs existed solely in the the story to incorporate fairy dust in there somehow and I could have done without all of it. There could have been some other backstory to create the rivalry between Pete and Jas (rival gator farms? I could have totally loved a more comedic retelling like that…) and not used a weird drug plot.
Third: The most interesting thing about this book to me was the mysterious disappearance of Wendy’s twin brothers Michael and John. Wendy never believed that they had died in a surfing accident and so she sets out to find out what really happened to them. The book starts out with this giant mystery and while Wendy really is looking for answers the whole time, the reader gets virtually no clues the entire book until closer towards the end. When I first saw that a mystery was being introduced, I was hoping it would follow a more mysterious path, but it really just felt like a constant back and forth between Wendy and the love triangle, and Wendy and her stubbornness to find her brothers. I felt like she was constantly going back and forth — obsessed with this or obsessed with that — and I just didn’t like her character much at all.

I was hoping for a lot more as the book progressed because I felt like the beginning half was going fairly slowly and when Wendy finally started picking up big clues about her brothers, I was ready to jump back into the mystery. The ending, however, was entirely a let down. It was confusing, it was unclear, and it was very disappointing. I’m not sure if this is where the “magical realism” was supposed to come into play…? Honestly, there was no magic in this book. I mean, that’s fine — it’s a contemporary retelling so really, it shouldn’t have magic, but it was advertised in more than one place so I just had expectations that it would show up.

Really, SECOND STAR just didn’t work for me. I didn’t enjoy the plot, I felt like too many aspects of Peter Pan were forced into the book and in other places that not enough of Peter Pan was present. Retellings are a tricky business and it’s really hard to get a perfect amount of original story and adaptation, but SECOND STAR just didn’t mesh well for me. I was also not a fan of the characters at all and I felt like they could have been so much more developed. Their personalities didn’t shine, no one stood out, and the back stories seemed weak or convenient. The upside was that it was a quick read and the mystery of Michael and John kept me interested although I was ultimately disappointed with how pretty much even story arc resolved.

THE VIEW FROM GOODREADS

“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Wendy Darling || Character Obsessions: Finding her brothers, learning how to surf, running away, boys.
Wendy was just so “blah” for me. I felt like her character didn’t have a lot of depth. She was stubborn, didn’t listen to anyone, and only had two things on her mind (well, three, I guess): Finding her brothers and Pete/Jas. Her emotions and her decisions were all over the place and she just wasn’t a very compelling main character to read about.
Jas || Character Obsessions: Fairy dust, money, surfing, Wendy.
Jas was the Captain Hook character and he could have just been so much more BAD. I would have loved to see a Machiavellian Jas, hell-bent on destroying Pete and using Wendy or a bitter, broken Jas or… anything dark and twisty. Jas was a softie. He may have been Pete’s rival but when it came down to it, he was just an old softie who made a few bad decisions and ended up in a tight spot. Meh. Disappointing.
Belle|| Character Obsessions: Surfing, Pete, hanging with the boys.
Belle was the Tinkerbell character in the book and… actually, I guess she was fairly spot on! I guess as far as the movie goes, she had the right amount of jealousy, but honestly as I was reading, it felt like too much. I got annoyed with how jealous and protective she was and it got old pretty fast. She was, however, the only character who seemed to stand out to me in terms of personality. She knew what she wanted, she was happy where she was in life, and she had a fuller backstory than most seemed to have.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Genre-switched adaptations. I was so curious to see a fairy tale reimagined as a contemporary! I’m always interested to see what authors keep and what they change. It didn’t quite work out for me in this case, but I think it’s incredibly interesting and I’m always looking for more!
Left Me Wanting More: Development. Everything seemed so unfinished. The characters felt undeveloped, the plot felt thrown together, the ending seemed totally anticlimactic. It just wasn’t working for me at all.

Addiction Rating
Skip it

I really hoped to find another great Peter Pan retelling but SECOND STAR just didn’t do it for me. I’m always interested to see retellings take on in a different genre so I was so curious about a contemporary adaptation, but it just didn’t work for me. Maybe a little bit of Rufio could have sweetened the deal…?

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(Click the cover to see my review!)

        Tiger Lily       Cruel Beauty

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) – Scott Lynch

The Lies of Locke LamoraCompleted: March 19, 2014
Publishing Info: June 27th 2006 by Bantam Spectra
Source: Mass market paperback gifted from Alyssa || Purchased Kindle/Audio version
Genre: Fantasy, Comedy (Adult)
POV: Third Person (Mostly Locke Lamora, Jean Tannen)
Find It Online:  Goodreads || Amazon || B&N
Related Post: On the Same Pages features The Lies of Locke Lamora: “The Gang’s All Here”

   “The Thorn of Camorr is said to be an unbeatable swordsman, a master thief, a ghost that walks through walls. Half the city believes him to be a legendary champion of the poor. The other half believe him to be a foolish myth. Nobody has it quite right.
Slightly built, unlucky in love, and barely competent with a sword, Locke Lamora is, much to his annoyance, the fabled Thorn. He certainly didn’t invite the rumors that swirl around his exploits, which are actually confidence games of the most intricate sort. And while Locke does indeed steal from the rich (who else, pray tell, would be worth stealing from?), the poor never see a penny of it. All of Locke’s gains are strictly for himself and his tight-knit band of thieves, the Gentlemen Bastards.
    Locke and company are con artists in an age where con artistry, as we understand it, is a new and unknown style of crime. The less attention anyone pays to them, the better! But a deadly mystery has begun to haunt the ancient city of Camorr, and a clandestine war is threatening to tear the city’s underworld, the only home the Gentlemen Bastards have ever known, to bloody shreds. Caught up in a murderous game, Locke and his friends will find both their loyalty and their ingenuity tested to the breaking point as they struggle to stay alive…” — From Goodreads

Review1

THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA has been in my peripheral vision for a while, but I wouldn’t have actually picked up without Alyssa and Amy and our On the Same Page feature in which we read books together so I am SO thankful for that and that I had someone to read this book with! It’s a bit hefty, kicking off this epic adult fantasy series at over 700 pages so I was intimidated on the sheer size of it and taking on such large books by myself always seems like a daunting task. Really I had absolutely nothing to worry about because after I finished, I immediately wanted so much more.

THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA is set in the amazing fantasy world created by Scott Lynch, mainly taking place in the city of Camorr. The book ranges from what is “present day” in the book during Locke’s adult life and bouncing back to flashbacks during “interludes” which periodically give us glimpses into the pasts of Locke Lamora, his right hand man and best friend Jean Tannen, and even history of the city of Camorr, neighboring cities, and important characters that play a significant role in the plot. I loved the flashbacks and I LOVED getting more details about this new and exciting fantasy world as the book progressed because as I’ve come to learn, world building in fantasy is extremely important to me and I’m always hungry for more world building, all the time!

At 700+ pages, it’s hard to break the entire book down so what I will tell you is this: IT HAS EVERYTHING. A fantastic world, a rich history, SO SO much comedy, fighting, action, adventure, bromances (JEAN. I love Jean Tannen so much (male French Jean, not the female)), thievery, chases, escapes (oh wait, that sounded like The Princess Bride right there — okay I guess it doesn’t quite have true love in this book, but it’s set up for future books!) and I loved every second of it. I found myself feeling like it resembled a fantasy Ocean’s 11 with Locke Lamora as the ring leader. All of his life he’s been a master of thieving and trickery and growing up with the Gentleman Bastards, a small gang of thieves led by Father Chains, Locke refines his crew and his missions and becomes the most expert thief there is in all of Camorr.

The narration and language in this book is fantastic. There is swearing. A LOT of it. And I LOVED it. It just added to the book so much for me — it emphasized the terrible, made the funny funnier — I don’t know why but I absolutely loved the amount of swearing in the book. So many times I laughed out loud! But aside from the cursing, the general narration really is fantastic. I was always interested in the dialogue, the setting, and again, emphasizing how much I loved the interludes in between the present story line chapters even though sometimes it was excruciating to see an interlude RIGHT after some monumental mid-book cliffhanger happened! It just made me want to race through the book that much more.

If you love fantasy, if you love capers and thievery, and if you love comedy, PICK UP THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW. I expected to enjoy it but had no idea how much I would fall in love with it. THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA was an easy five star book for me and I cannot wait to start book two.

THE VIEW FROM GOODREADS

“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Yeah, SEE? GO READ THIS. 

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Locke Lamora || Character Obsessions: Stealing, plotting, friendships.
Locke Lamora was fantastic. God, I loved him. He was brilliant and so amazing at plotting, his brain totally made to be a thief. He was such a great main character and I loved his loyalty and dedication to his friends and crew.
Jean Tannen || Character Obsessions: Fighting, protecting his crew, the Gentleman Bastards.
Jean (male Jean, not female) was so incredibly awesome. Jean is Locke’s right-hand man and his best friend and the bromance in this book. I die. It was so amazing. I loved the friendship between Locke and Jean and how Jean always has Locke’s back. ALWAYS. I seriously still smile thinking back on it.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Huge fantasy books. I read all of the currently released A Song of Ice and Fire last year and was hesitant about taking on a thick new series but this is totally amazing. 700+ pages read like nothing because it was just so amazing and so much fun! I can’t wait to read more of it. Already dying for it.
Left Me Wanting More: Romance? The set-up for the romance is there but book one was more about Locke, his history, and his epic job as well as epic friendships. I really didn’t miss the lack of romance in the book because the rest of it was so incredible. However, that was the one thing that was really “missing” and I put missing in quotes because I actually didn’t miss it but AM looking forward to it in book two!

Addiction Rating
BUY IT! READ IT!

This was soooooo good. So good. Buy this book and read it and love it. Please!

Recommendations1

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        The Princess Bride       A Game of Thrones