ARC Review: ‘Girls Made of Snow and Glass’

Hey everyone! So, I decided to make a Netgalley and this is the first book that I was approved for! I was so excited because I had been seeing a lot of reviews of this book recently and I so wanted to read & review for myself.

 

*Thank you to Netgalley and Flatiron Books for allowing me to read and review this book before release*

 

Title: Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Author: Melissa Bashardoust

Series: Standalone

Pub date: September 5, 2017

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Summary

This book follows the story of Lynet and Mina, two girls who are completely different and yet connected in a special way. It is a loose retelling of Snow White and the Huntsman, with Lynet being Snow White and Mina being the ‘evil queen’. I put evil queen in quotation marks because Mina has a strong character development throughout the story that changed my opinion of her greatly: but more on that later! I want to note that the cover is also absolutely gorgeous and I love the simplicity of it.

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The story itself was rich, gripping and told in a very fairytale-like fashion. I felt like I was reading a new fairytale as I read this book and I found myself entranced by the language. It had a light feel to it and even when there was peril, I always felt a sense of hope. Lynet and Mina were two truly beautiful characters. The story is told from both points of view, some from the present and some from the past. This narrator style gave me the opportunity to see the development of each character from her own point of view, as well as delve deeper into the lives of each girl. Mina was my favorite character in this book. I felt like I was able to see why she became so bitter because of the background elements of her life as well as how her personality affected the character. My emotional connection was mainly to Mina and it was quite strong, which is hard for a book to do, for me. The magical elements in this book were so unique and I think that it is one of the things that sets the book apart from other Snow White retellings that I have read. There is life, there is death, and there is a certain air of impossibility around the magical storyline and it was something that certainly interested me from the start. The book started off right away with the plot and that is one of the things I appreciated about it: some books drag on in the beginning, but this one jumped right in and made me want to keep reading. I felt the magic through the pages and like I was in Whitespring, watching these events happen for myself because of the descriptive narrative.

(Dis)likes

There is not much I didn’t like about this book, as evidenced by my rating. I feel like the character arcs—mostly for Mina—were so well-done that I was mostly focusing on her and Lynet rather than the other characters. I did love the inclusion of Nadia, who was the court surgeon and ended up adding an LGBT element to the story. That is something I wish I had been included more during the book. I am such a proponent of LGBT themes and characters in order to foster representation and I found myself wanting more! Also, this book was marketed as feminist and I completely agree with that statement. I felt empowered for both Lynet and Mina, through their actions and their interactions with each other. Mina, especially, exhibited this when she was dealing with conflict and I admire her for that. All in all, this book was an absolute joy to read and I felt extremely satisfied after finishing this story.

Recommendation

I would recommend this book to those who are fans of fairytale retellings, but aren’t afraid for some extra twists to be thrown in. This is not your typical fairytale retelling and it becomes its own version of a fairytale through its narrative, characters, and wonderfully powerful morals.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor
*I do not own the rights to the cover art depicted in this post – all copyright goes to rightful designers, creators and/or owners*

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Review: ‘Royal Bastards’

That’s not a swear in the title: if you watch Game of Thrones, you definitely know what a bastard is! It’s basically an illegitimate child of a high ranking nobleman. It happens pretty often in GoT, and this book tells THEIR story!

 
Title: Royal Bastards

Author: Andrew Schvarts

Series: Standalone

Rating: 2/5 stars

Summary

This book was eh, in my opinion. No, that isn’t very descriptive, but it is a short way of putting it. I had seen it on Twitter in a few giveaways and decided to grab it while my library’s digital collection had it available. It follows the story of a few bastard children, plus a stable boy, who race to save the life of the princess of the kingdom. They discover a plot against the princess’ life and take it upon themselves to guide her to safety.

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This book has elements of magic in it as well, including mages and their powerful rings. This was the most interesting part of the story to me and I thought it was very cool the different things people were able to do: summon light, heal, grow plants. While the story was mainly about the bastards, this came up a few times and was a important part towards the end of the book. I also found the personalities of the bastards to be very likable. They all seemed united in a way and I felt that that connection really rung strong throughout the book. It made me feel for the characters when unexpected things happened and  I found myself shipping a few of the characters that shouldn’t be shipped together, technically! But, I couldn’t help it (I can’t say which or it will spoil!). I also found that it did keep me guessing through some parts and I did not see the ending coming. I think my jaw literally dropped to the floor!

Dislikes

This book has a rating of less than 3 because it wouldn’t be a book I would necessarily tell someone they NEED to read. It was a quick read and there was suspense and a thickening plot, but it didn’t seem like anything special. I think I would have liked to hear a lot more about the magical powers of the Mage in the story and have that be a bigger part of the plot. It seemed like a side plot that should have had a larger part in the whole story. I kind of felt jipped, in a way. Though, I think the larger plot did make up for it a little bit because it was suspenseful and full of twists and turns.

Recommendation

I would recommend this book to someone who likes Game of Thrones, or other stories that involve an imaginary kingdom and magic. It gives the view of the rejected children and I feel that isn’t explored too much in GoT, except for Jon Snow, of course.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

Weekly TBR: August 21-August 27

Hey all! So I have a little update, that’s a bit sad: I did not read any of the books that I put on my weekly TBR last week. Life got in the way and I needed to step back to take some time for myself. BUT I did get to re-read Stalking Jack the Ripper–which was just as amazing as the first time–and that put me in great spirits so I was able to get some new books for this upcoming week. I also was approved to read Girls Made of Snow and Glass on Netgalley! That review will be up on Tuesday, as a special post 🙂

Continue reading Weekly TBR: August 21-August 27

Review: ‘Mask of Shadows’

I am so glad I was able to snag this via trade! I’ve been looking for this (and 27 Hours) for a couple of months now and finally was able to get my hands on it.

 

Title: Mask of Shadows

Author: Linsy Miller

Series: Untitled (will be a duology)

Rating: 4/5 stars

Summary

This story follows Sal, who enters a competition in order to be part of the Left Hand, who is the Queen’s assassins crew. They (more on this later!) are fighting to become the Opal as every person in that group is named after a precious stone. Throughout the book, Sal encounters someone from their past, escapes death multiple times and shows everyone what they are made of. It is action-packed, with a love story on the side, and a bigger backstory than I ever saw coming.

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ALRIGHT! There’s going to be a lot in this section because I have a ton to say. Let’s first talk about Sal: Sal is gender-fluid, which means that they can present as a male or a female, depending on how they feel. They say in the book their pronouns are they, but also he or she was acceptable if they are presenting in that specific way. This might be confusing for some but I punched the air a little in excitement when Sal set the characters straight about their gender. Gender is something so highly debated today and it really doesn’t need to be. Sex is what we are born with but gender is what we feel and nobody should tell us that we shouldn’t feel a certain way. It doesn’t need to be this hot topic that is debated: it should just be and people need to realize that. Anyway, I could go on and on but I will say that the representation was on point. It was accurate and portrayed it in the correct way. But let’s talk about Sal as a character: THEY WERE AWESOME. Oh my god, I envy their flirting power, for one. The bada**ery cannot be overstated in this character and they were stronger than anyone expected them to be. The story exploits that strong nature and I definitely can’t wait to see more in the next book. Speaking of the story: it was an easy read but it was so gripping. The contestants were allowed to kill each other if they could do so without being caught and it made the tale that much more interesting. Sal also learned how to read and write in the book, which is where they formed a close relationship with Elise. That relationship was sweet and I really enjoyed reading about it. Sal reminded me a little bit of Arya from Game of Thrones because they didn’t care what it took to get where they needed: they would do whatever it takes to win.

(Dis)likes

Clearly I don’t have many dislikes because I gave this such a high rating! I would say that the side plot, that will become a main plot in the next book I assume, needed a little more expansion. I understand why it was just lightly glossed over so that the second book will have more on it but I needed more to fully understand the situation. I also feel that I needed more of the love story because it was so good!!!! I am excited to see more of Elise and Sal in the second book. I think this book also had a great cliffhanger, well more of a set-up for the next book. It made me excited to pick up the next one but didn’t leave me screaming at the book, which is good.

Recommendation

This book was marketed as for fans of Sarah Maas and Leigh Bardugo: I’d agree with Maas because Sal could be compared to Caleana but I wouldn’t agree with Bardugo. I think it is unique in its story and it kept me interested the entire time!

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

 

Review: ‘Jackaby’

Hello! I saw this book while scrolling through my library’s digital collection and really loved the cover. I thought it was intriguing from the blurb and decided to check it out.
Title: Jackaby

Author: William Ritter

Series: Jackaby

Rating: 3/5 stars

Summary

Mystery? The supernatural? A zany dude? Check, check and check. This book is a retelling of the classic Sherlock Holmes story, with a female Watson at Sherlock’s side. Sherlock is named Jackaby in this version and Watson is named Abigail, who has recently come to New England in order to escape her parents. She is met with the zany Jackaby on the street one day and finds out he is looking for an investigative assistant, a job which she jumps for because nowhere else in the new town is anyone hiring. Abigail had no idea what she was getting herself into.

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This book was fun. I felt it was a fun read that kept me interested in reading more. I love the show Sherlock and I have read another Sherlock retelling in the past. I find mysteries to be a genre that I am usually not interested in but this book had such a cool mystery! The retelling part of this book was the fact that Jackaby is a seer and he can see paranormal and supernatural beings that commit some of the crimes he investigates. In this story, that is no different, and the two are on a hunt for a serial killer in their small town. The characters all have parallels to Sherlock Holmes, and Jackaby is an unofficial partner with the police. I thought Jackaby’s character was very entertaining. He acted very much like Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock portrayal and he was simply hilarious. His deductions were very calculated but sometimes he would just basically talk to himself because his thoughts were going a million miles a minute. He certainly was an interesting part of this story that complimented Abigial very well. She was intelligent and inquisitive, learning both about investigating and the paranormal while assisting Jackaby on the cases at hand.

Dislikes

I didn’t like that this book was a little scatterbrained for me and I really wanted to know more about the supernatural beings. They were touched on slightly but I wanted in-depth descriptions of them in relation to the case. I have to say the twist of the killer did keep me on the edge of my seat and I didn’t guess it until it actually happened in the book. I liked the idea of having paranormal beings being the killer and it was an interesting take on Sherlock. My rating reflects that I was pretty indifferent to the book but I would definitely read the second with how the first one ended.

Recommendation

I would recommend this book to fans of Sherlock or mysteries. It’s fresh and new and I even think that it has a little bit of Doctor Who elements in it, with the supernatural aspect of it.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

Review: ‘Every Last Word’

Hi! Mental health month is in May but I saw this book recommended on Twitter as part of mental health reads. After my month of LGBT reads, I figured that I wanted to try some that deal with mental health. Mental health is something personal for me, both because of my own experience as well as my career as a counselor, which I am studying for.
Title: Every Last Word

Author: Tamara Ireland Stone

Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5 stars

Summary

This book truly hit me hard. I was lucky that my library had a digital copy and I downloaded it to start reading right away. But wow, this is a really ‘real’ book and it made my heart hurt and soar at the same time. The book follows Samanatha (or Sam), who struggles with anxiety and OCD. She goes through high school with a really terrible group of friends but meets a girl named Caroline, who introduces her to a new group of friends and the art of poetry.

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I think my favorite thing about this book was that it told it like it is. It didn’t sugarcoat what anxiety was like and it showed the everyday manifestations of the mental illness. Additionally, it chronicles Sam’s therapy sessions which I think is so important for young people to read. Many are still plagued by the idea of mental illness being a stigma and that getting help means that they’re crazy. It doesn’t! It means that they’re strong enough to realize they need help to get better and cannot do it on their own. I have recently been shown that anxiety is the root and why I do many things that I do, and why I am the way that I am. For so long, I thought I didn’t have anxiety to that level, but once I accepted I did, I was able to deal with it so much better. I am not on medication or have severe anxiety (I like to call it ‘high functioning anxiety’) but I related to Sam in a way that I really needed to have years ago. Sam’s character truly made this book everything it needed to be for me and I can’t stress enough how beautifully written she is as a character.

(Dis)likes

There isn’t anything I didn’t like about this book. While it is a contemporary, it is told in a way that keeps you intrigued and there are some twists in this book that I wasn’t expecting at all! I also found it interesting that it depicted Sam’s mother a lot in the book and she was trained by Sam’s therapist on how to deal with Sam’s anxiety attacks, when they happen. It made me think about how I want to handle my own mental health practice some day and I feel that this is such an important asset. Parents often don’t know how to deal with their child’s mental illness or developmental disability–not at their own fault, but because some therapists just don’t teach them or think it’s important to. After reading this book, I agree that it is, and I would go on to suggest teaching small things to best friends so that if the parent isn’t there, they can help as well.

Recommendation

I would recommend this book to anyone struggling with anxiety, mental illness of any kind, or if someone you know is dealing with mental illness. It gives useful insights into how it really affects a person’s life daily and can help identify warning signs that someone needs some support.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

Review: ‘Horizon’

Horizon is a middle-grade book by Scott Westerfeld that was pitched as Hatchet meets Lord of the Flies meets Lost. Now, Scott Westerfeld is one of my all time favorite authors so anything written by him, I’m sold. But throw in something about Lost? I’m instantly double give it to me now sold! I’m a die hard Lostie and I will love the show 4ever, so anything that is similar to it – sign me up.

Author: Scott Westerfeld
Series: Horizon (7 planned books)
Rating: 4/5 stars

Horizon did not disappoint. I’m not usually a fan of middle grade books – as an ~adult~, they just don’t resonate with me as YA books do. But I could really get into and enjoy Horizon. It is for a younger audience and the writing reflects that, but while it is simpler it is not in any way dumbed down. This is still a story about survival and the writing reflects that.

A plane crashes on a flight from New York to Tokyo as they’re flying over the arctic and the only survivors are a handful of young teenagers. But when they get out of the wreckage, they’re in the jungle, not the arctic as they were when they last looked out the window. …What? Exactly. (Somebody forgot to push the button in the hatch. 4 8 15 16 23 42)

These kids need to be resourceful and combine their unique skills and knowledge to survive. Some of the kids know each other because were on a class trip for a robotics competition – clearly smart kids. One boy was on his way home to Japan to see his father. Two Japanese sisters don’t speak any English. Yet this ragtag team needs to work together if they want to survive. And the jungle has some unexpected surprises for them.

As I said, I loved Lost, so I loved this book! It really felt like elements of Lost with the mysteries and unexplained events and locations. (Polar bear on the Lost island, anyone?) (Side note, if you want to talk about how much you love Lost like I do, please comment below so we can be friends :D)

This was full of action and you even learn a few Japanese words along the way! (Luckily the boy on his way to see his father speaks both English and Japanese. How convenient!)

This is the first of 7 planned books in the series and a different author will write each story. Book 2, Deadzone, is written by Jennifer A. Nielsen and will be released on September 12th, 2017. I would recommend this series for middle-grade readers but older readers can enjoy this as well! If you like stories about survival with some mysteries thrown in, this story is for you.

~Missy