Review: The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

5th Oct 2016 Ashley @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Ashley

Review: The Lie Tree by Frances HardingeThe Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
Published by Amulet Books
Pub Date: April 19th 2016
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover | Source: Publisher
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3 Stars

To earn a secret so profound, I would need to tell momentous lies, and make as many people as possible believe them…

Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is modest and well mannered—a proper young lady who knows her place. But inside, Faith is burning with questions and curiosity. She keeps sharp watch of her surroundings and, therefore, knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing—like the real reason her family fled Kent to the close-knit island of Vane. And that her father’s death was no accident.

In pursuit of revenge and justice for the father she idolizes, Faith hunts through his possessions, where she discovers a strange tree. A tree that only bears fruit when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit, in turn, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father’s murder. Or, it might lure the murderer directly to Faith herself, for lies—like fires, wild and crackling—quickly take on a life of their own.

Faith Sunderly and her family have just moved to the remote island of Vane. They fled their former home in Kent when Faiths reverend father made a discovery at a dig site that was not received well. Faith is a 14 year old well-mannered young lady on the outside. On the inside Faith is far more interested in science than housework and she has a ton of scientific questions she is dying to find the answers too.

When her father is found dead on the island, Faith knows it was no accident and she is determined to find his killer. Though Faith has a few ideas of who would hurt her father, she has no proof. Faith begins to run out of time proving the murder. In a desperate fit, she begins to rummage through her father’s belongings and discovers his biggest secret of all, a tree. Of course this is not an ordinary old tree, this is the sole reason Faiths father was murdered. This tree has the ability to reveal a truth to you, but in exchange you must tell it a lie. Once you tell it a lie, and the lie takes hold in the community, the tree produces a red fruit. Eat the fruit and it will send you into an opiate dream-like state where the truth is finally revealed. The tree must remain in very dark conditions though and to properly care for it, Faith has to sneak out in the middle of the night and somehow avoid leading her father’s killer directly to the tree.

I ran across this book at BEA this year and immediately fell in love with the cover and the premise. I admit I did have a little trouble getting into the book, it starting out a bit slow for me. I was immediately annoyed with Faiths father and his nonchalance toward her; Harding portrays the sexism of the time in almost every chapter. It’s completely accurate but frustrating none-the-less! I love Faith and her hunger for knowledge; her fierce persistence made her a woman to be feared in her time.  I did feel like the ending was somewhat abrupt, maybe I just wanted more. I do think this could easily be made into a series, I’d love to know more about what happened to Faith!

Ashley @ Gone with the Words

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Bitsy Words: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

24th Jun 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Bitsy Words, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Bitsy Words: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

Bitsy Words: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon ThomasA Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas
Series: A Wicked Thing #1
Published by HarperTeen
Pub Date: February 24th 2015
Pages: 337
Format: Hardcover | Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3.5 Stars

Rhiannon Thomas's dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her "true love" is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept. 

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.

I enjoyed A Wicked Thing a lot! It was the perfect fairy tale feel that I’m always looking for and I loved the twist, thinking about what would happen to Sleeping Beauty when she woke up. It was well done and felt believable. I really liked the setting at the castle, and the snippets of history, as well as watching Aurora come to terms with her predicament. I loved Aurora as a character but I didn’t feel very connected to anyone else. Rodric is sweet but bland, the king is cliche, and I’m verrrry interested in Finnegan but he was almost too smooth. Banter is always a plus, though. I also wish more happened but it did get exciting in the second half. I can’t wait to read the sequel! Overall, I loved the detailed setting, Aurora’s love of books, and the language; I just wanted more connection to the characters (aside from Aurora, who I thought was fleshed out nicely). If you enjoy fairy tale retellings, it’s worth a shot!

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Slasher Girls & Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tucholke

2nd Jun 2016 Ashley @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Ashley

Review: Slasher Girls & Monster Boys by April Genevieve TucholkeSlasher Girls & Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tucholke
Published by Dial Books
Pub Date: August 18th 2015
Pages: 385
Format: Hardcover | Source: Purchased
Genres: Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3.5 Stars

A host of the smartest young adult authors come together in this collection of scary stories and psychological thrillers curated by Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’s April Genevieve Tucholke.

 

Each story draws from a classic tale or two—sometimes of the horror genre, sometimes not—to inspire something new and fresh and terrifying. There are no superficial scares here; these are stories that will make you think even as they keep you on the edge of your seat. From bloody horror to supernatural creatures to unsettling, all-too-possible realism, this collection has something for any reader looking for a thrill.

Short stories and anthologies aren’t really my thing, to be fair I probably haven’t really given them a fair shot until now. I have to admit, I started by reading  my favorite authors first then going back to the others. I’m happy to report that I would give other anthologies like this a chance. Since the book has 14 short stories, I am going to touch briefly on each of them.

The Birds of Azalea Street by Nova Ren Suma

This one was so creepy, like everyday creepy. A male next-door neighbor is photographing young girls in the neighborhood. As if that’s not enough, there is a bird twist to the story that literally gave me the chills.

In the Forest Dark and Deep by Carrie Ryan

Inspired by Alice in Wonderland, the story follows Cassidy Evans through her teen years and her obsession with something very deadly in the clearing in the forest behind her house. {shudders}

Emmeline by Cat Winters

Set in Northern France in 1918, a historical story inspired by All Quiet on the Western Front, Nosferatu and Kiss Me Again Stranger. Definitely creeped me out.

Verse Chorus Verse Leigh Bardugo

This was one of my favorite stories. A disturbing inside look into celebrity rehab with a crazy twist.

Hide-and-Seek by Megan Shepherd

Another great story, inspired by one of my favorite movies The Crow. A game of hide and seek with death himself.

The Dark Scary Parts and All Danielle Paige

When your the dorkiest girl in high school and the most popular boy begins to show true interest in you it’s like a dream come true, right? It is until you find out who he really is.

The Flicker, The Fingers, The Beat, The Sigh by April Genevieve Tucholke

Probably my least favorite of all. Inspired by Stephen Kings “Carrie” and “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and it read just like the movie.

Fat Girl With A Knife by Jonathan Mayberry

Very Mayberry in the zombie sense. Zombies take over a local high school and the girl with the pretty name who isn’t pretty fights them off with a knife.

Sleepless by Jay Kristoff

I couldn’t help but think about how real this story is or could be. Online dating with the worse outcome, almost.

M by Stefan Bachmann

One of my favorite stories in the book. Murder, mystery and revenge!

The Girl Without a Face by Marie Lu

Probably my favorite story of all of them. Downright creepy in every sense of the word. Every action has a consequence and when you try to ignore that consequence it will come back and haunt you.

A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow by McCormick Templeman

A plague is killing woman and those it doesn’t kill are being kidnapped and sold, until a determined woman takes matters into her own hands.

Stitches by A.G. Howard

What if you could cut the bad parts off your body and replace them with good parts? If your feet lead you astray, cut them off and replace them with ones that will not lead you astray…this story is wicked!

On the I-5 by Kendare Blake

Revenge is strong in this story. Again, so close to reality and horrible things that really do happen but with a ghostly twist.

Overall I enjoyed the book, even though there were a few stories I wasn’t all that impressed with. I’ve definitely been reminded why I steer clear of anthologies, I always end up wanting more.

Ashley @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

25th May 2016 Tamara @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Tamara

Review: Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve TucholkeWink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke
Published by Dial
Pub Date: March 22nd 2016
Pages: 247
Format: Hardcover | Source: Purchased
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4 Stars

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

Wink Poppy Midnight is not like any other books I’ve read lately. The story is about three teens, Wink, Poppy, and Midnight. Each of them is very different and has their own story to tell. April Genevieve Tucholke’s writing style is mesmerizing. The whole book read like a lovely poem. This story was beautiful and addictive.

Poppy is a mean girl. She’s cruel and a bully, she has her own little group of followers called the Yellows that she loves to boss around and play games with. Midnight is in love with Poppy, but he doesn’t want to be. He sees the kind of person she is and he is trying so hard to break away from her and her manipulations. That’s when he meets Wink. Wink is one of the Bell children. She has the nickname “Feral Bell” because most of the other kids her age think she’s a little weird. She loves fairy tales and reading about adventures in books. When Midnight moves in next door she thinks it’s a sign that her own adventure is starting.

We follow all three of these characters throughout the book and get to see the story through each of their viewpoints. I enjoyed the different narrators and they all have such independent voices. You could tell who’s point of view it was without seeing the names in the beginnings of the chapters. Midnight is the main character, caught between two girls and trying to start over. I liked Midnight and felt his struggle when it came to Poppy and Wink. He is a nice guy and just wants to be with someone who actually wants him back. Poppy is easy to hate, she’s mean, cruel, and loves to play games. As the story goes on you start to see Poppy as more than just a mean girl and even start to sympathize with her at certain points. Wink is a strange character, she is obsessed with fairy tales and making real life just like a story. She seems too naive and childlike to be real. At time I just couldn’t take her character seriously at all, and she kind of annoyed me.

The messy little triangle between Poppy, Midnight, and Wink is really interesting. Poppy is determined not to lose Midnight, not because she loves him but just because she hates to lose. Midnight tries so hard to stay away from Poppy and he genuinely likes Wink and wants to spend time with her. In the beginning of the book it seems pretty clear that Poppy is the villain and Midnight and Wink might be the heroes of the story. As the book goes on it becomes harder and harder to tell who’s the villain and who’s the hero. The lines get really blurry and it’s hard to trust any of our narrators.

When I finished this book I realized there are no heroes or villains, just people with different motivations. It’s hard to point out who’s right or wrong in the end, everyone has their own baggage and does questionable things. I enjoyed the plot twist, which I didn’t see coming. The writing was enthralling and just drew me in. I loved the lyrical prose throughout the book and it just added to the atmosphere the author was building throughout the story. I recommend this book to anyone who like a mystery and a story that’s a little out there.

And the perfect gif to sum up this story…

 

Tamara @ Gone with the Words

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Review: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater | 100% Spoiler Free!

27th Apr 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater | 100% Spoiler Free!The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #4
Published by Scholastic
Pub Date: April 26th 2016
Pages: 438
Format: Hardcover | Source: Publisher
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

The fourth and final installment in the spellbinding series from the irrepressible, #1 New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.

All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love's death. She doesn't believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.

In a starred review for Blue Lily, Lily BlueKirkus Reviews declared: "Expect this truly one-of-a-kind series to come to a thundering close."

This is probably one of the hardest reviews I’ve ever had to write because:

  1. It’s the 4th book in a very complicated and spoilerish series.
  2. I don’t want to take away the magic of Maggie’s words before you read them.
  3. If I tell you my feelings, is that a spoiler?! I don’t know! *bites nails nervously*

Let’s continue.

Gone with the Words Sebastian Stan Hugging Wolf

My favorite part of the experience was the thrill of reading NEW words from Maggie Stiefvater, new Raven Cycle words! I always love Maggie’s word choice and sentence structure and sense of storytelling. She has a very recognizable style. It was exciting because it’s been so long since we’ve gotten a new book and the other Raven books are so familiar to me by now.

For me, the thrill of holding and reading The Raven King felt similar to getting a brand new Harry Potter book in my hands, which is the highest praise I can give. And one feeling I never expected when I began this series. I already can’t wait to read it again because I know I raced through it, but how could I not? I NEEDED TO KNOW THINGS.

Gone with the Words Sebastian Stan Confused

The nuance and linguistic brilliance shines through no matter how fast you read, of course, but it is a whole other animal when you have the opportunity to really sink into her words and turns of phrase. When you can see little dots connecting all over the series like its own sort of ley line. It’s very rewarding.

Gone with the Words Sebastian Stan Happy

The Raven King is the best sort of series ender. It pulls together disparate plot points in a brilliant way and builds on the characterization we’ve come to expect from our favorite characters while allowing them to grow. Everyone was just…. more in this book. That’s the best way to put it. There is a sense of urgency and dread that isn’t lost on anyone and it makes the emotions stand out in technicolor.

Gone with the Words Sebastian Stan OverwhelmedGone with the Words Sebastian Stan Dancing

It was frightening at times, but also sad and humorous and tremendously lovely. There are lots of excellent otp and brotp moments. It’s full of Maggie’s wry humor; she has this magnificent way of twisting the knife in your heart while simultaneously making you grin.

AHHH. THERE IS SO MUCH I WANT TO SAYYYYYYY. It’s a tremendous five star book for me but I’ll leave it to you to glean what you want from that. There are a lot of Moments and she is able to gather her threads and knot them together in a very satisfying manner. I was content with the book individually and the series as a whole.

Gone with the Words Sebastian Stan Smiling

Now, DO NOT SPOIL IN THE COMMENTS BELOW but please let me know if you’ve read it and what you generally thought! And feel free to chat with me on twitter too!

 

About Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater

Professional novelist by day and artist by night, Maggie Stiefvater is the author of the Books of Faerie (Lament and Ballad); the bestselling Shiver trilogy (Shiver, Linger, Forever), as well as The Scorpio Races and The Raven Boys. Stiefvater lives in Virginia with her husband and their two children.

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Bitsy Words: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

22nd Apr 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Bitsy Words, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Bitsy Words: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

Bitsy Words: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn BennettThe Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett
Published by Feiwel & Friends
Pub Date: November 3rd 2015
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover | Source: Library
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive, and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in her family’s closet tear them apart? 

I finished The Anatomical Shape of a Heart at 1am in one sitting. OH MY GOD. It was barely on my radar until I read Christina’s review recently. She and I see eye to eye on many bookish topics but I still did not expect to love this so much! I loved the vibrant San Francisco setting and the multitude of interesting characters. The book had a lot of depth and heart along with humor and a liberal dose of shippy goodness. Oh my lorddddd the flirting damn near killed me and that was before any kissing! Bex and Jack are wonderful together for many different reasons, which is why it’s so satisfying. They complement each other and their relationship spun some tropes on their head, which I always like to see. The book was engrossing, and a fast read that covered a host of important topics including honesty, parent/child relationships, the value of art, and various forms of mental health.

 


 

I will be 100% honest with you, it didn’t hurt that I could picture Jack as Zayn Malik perfectlyyyyyy in his pompadour fluffy hair days and leather jackets and dark eyes. Sigh. And I think Lucy Hale or Willa Holland could be a good Bex. If you like books with banter, family matters, art, science, a smattering of spirituality, detailed cityscapes, and a LOT OF PERFECT SHIPPING FLIRTY PERFECTNESS, please read The Anatomical Shape of a Heart!

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: The Siren by Kiera Cass

13th Apr 2016 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: The Siren by Kiera CassThe Siren by Kiera Cass
Published by HarperTeen
Pub Date: January 26th 2016
Pages: 327
Format: Hardcover | Source: Gifted
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3.5 Stars

Love is a risk worth taking.

Years ago, Kahlen was rescued from drowning by the Ocean. To repay her debt, she has served as a Siren ever since, using her voice to lure countless strangers to their deaths. Though a single word from Kahlen can kill, she can’t resist spending her days on land, watching ordinary people and longing for the day when she will be able to speak and laugh and live freely among them again. 

Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude…until she meets Akinli. Handsome, caring, and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. And though she can’t talk to him, they soon forge a connection neither of them can deny…and Kahlen doesn’t want to.

Falling in love with a human breaks all the Ocean’s rules, and if the Ocean discovers Kahlen’s feelings, she’ll be forced to leave Akinli for good. But for the first time in a lifetime of following the rules, Kahlen is determined to follow her heart.

First of all, YAY for finally finding a book that ended my book slump!! I had started quite a few books since the beginning of February, but I hadn’t found one that interested me enough to read all the way through. That is, until The Siren! This was the first book ever written by Kiera Cass, author of The Selection series.

This is a story about 19 year old Kahlen, who is in a shipwreck and is meant to drown. In the process, she begs to survive and the Ocean decides to spare her under one condition: she must live out a sentence of 100 years serving as a siren. As a siren, Kahlen is expected to sing when told to do so by the Ocean which will cause people to become mesmerized and drown.

I’ve always been really intrigued by mermaids so I instantly knew I would really enjoy the fantasy aspect of this story. Sirens are a darker spin on your typical mermaid. According to Wikipedia: In Greek mythology, the Sirens were dangerous yet beautiful creatures, who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. I was really excited to see how this would all play out!

When I first read the plot summary, my initial thought was that our main character would be living in total isolation and have zero contact with others. I was very pleasantly surprised that Kahlen is actually part of a group of 3-4 sirens who live and “work” together. Although we did get a back story for each one of the girls, I still didn’t really connect with any. The characters were all pretty one dimensional, but I still really enjoyed watching the bond they shared and how loyal they were to each other. In The Siren, the Ocean plays a character as well and although that might weird out a few, I really did dig it! I’ve always thought of the ocean as breathtakingly beautiful, but it’s vastness scares me. This story forced me to see the ocean as lonely and that took away some of the fear!

As you guys know, I love me some traveling and this book gave me lots of that! My favorite place was the little town of Port Clyde, Maine. I’ve been dying to visit Maine for ages and this book set a perfect scene of what I’m looking forward to!

My biggest problem with this book was the love interest, Akinli. I liked him as a character, but I didn’t swoon over their insta-love. I was also very thrown off by how accepting his family was of Kahlen even though she’d arrive under the weirdest of circumstances. It seemed very unlikely that a real family would react as welcoming as they did. I wish those scenes would have been written better as opposed to just fitting together because that’s what made the story flow.

Overall, this was a great fantasy story that has peaked my interest even more on mythical creatures and I’m looking forward to more stories like it. Please let me know if you have any recommendations in the comments below!

 

 

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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Bitsy Words: The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine

7th Apr 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Bitsy Words, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Bitsy Words: The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine

Bitsy Words: The Impostor Queen by Sarah FineThe Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine
Series: The Impostor Queen #1
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pub Date: January 5th 2016
Pages: 432
Format: Hardcover | Source: Library
Genres: Fantasy, LGBT, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4.5 Stars

Sixteen-year-old Elli was only a child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fire magic in service of her people. The only life Elli has known has been in the temple, surrounded by luxury, tutored by magic-wielding priests, preparing for the day when the queen perishes—and the ice and fire find a new home in Elli, who is prophesied to be the most powerful Valtia to ever rule.

But when the queen dies defending the kingdom from invading warriors, the magic doesn’t enter Elli. It’s nowhere to be found.

Disgraced, Elli flees to the outlands, home of banished criminals—some who would love to see the temple burn with all its priests inside. As she finds her footing in this new world, Elli uncovers devastating new information about the Kupari magic, those who wield it, and the prophecy that foretold her destiny. Torn between her love for her people and her growing loyalty to the banished, Elli struggles to understand the true role she was meant to play. But as war looms, she must choose the right side before the kingdom and its magic are completely destroyed.

I thought The Impostor Queen was such a fantastic fantasy, it’s everything I always look for! The world-building details are doled out in just the right way.  I loved learning about the Valtia, the Kupari, and life in the temple. And I loved Elli from the start. She goes on a huge journey, physically and emotionally, throughout the book and I thought she was wonderful—strong, inquisitive, compassionate, and ready to learn. It’s also worth noting that she is bisexual, which is all too rare in YA and YA fantasy especially. I really loved how naturally it was presented as part of her character, and I loved Mim and Oskar both as love interests and as individuals.

 

Even the smallest secondary character had defining traits and a part to play. I loved Freya, Raimo, Sig, so many of the cave dwellers, and I absolutely hated the priests. There are quite a few surprises in the latter half and I really enjoyed seeing how the story unfolded. There is a lot of action and politics mixed in with the magic and romance. I also loved the magic system and how it was used in the book. It took an unoriginal idea (ice magic and fire magic, dual opposites), and made it feel fresh and original in how it manifested itself. There were some heartbreaking moments and scenes that were hard to read but overall I would recommend this without question to fantasy fans.

 

About Sarah Fine

Sarah Fine is a clinical psychologist and the author of the Servants of Fate and Guards of the Shadowlands series. She was born on the West Coast, raised in the Midwest, and is now firmly entrenched on the East Coast.

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Soundless by Richelle Mead

3rd Feb 2016 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: Soundless by Richelle MeadSoundless by Richelle Mead
Published by Razorbill
Pub Date: November 10th 2015
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover | Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3.5 Stars

In a village without sound…

For as long as Fei can remember, no one in her village has been able to hear. Rocky terrain and frequent avalanches make it impossible to leave the village, so Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom. 

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink. Many go hungry. Fei and all the people she loves are plunged into crisis, with nothing to look forward to but darkness and starvation.

One girl hears a call to action…

Until one night, Fei is awoken by a searing noise. Sound becomes her weapon.

She sets out to uncover what’s happened to her and to fight the dangers threatening her village. A handsome miner with a revolutionary spirit accompanies Fei on her quest, bringing with him new risks and the possibility of romance. They embark on a majestic journey from the peak of their jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiguo, where a startling truth will change their lives forever…

And unlocks a power that will save her people.

Soundless has such a unique concept! It’s set in a Chinese village of 300 residents that sits on the top of a mountain. The conditions of the mountain are less than ideal for farming/gardening and the residents of this village have all tragically lost the ability to hear many decades ago. Being deaf prevents them from descending the mountain because they would never hear avalanches. Luckily, there are mines and the villagers have been able to trade the metals from these mines for food and supplies from the village below via a zip line. As if being deaf was not bad enough, some of the villagers have now begun to lose their sight, which is an obvious must-have for mining. With the amount of metals declining, so has the amount of food, but Fei has miraculously gained her sense of hearing. *cue gasp* Something has to be done before everyone in her village dies of starvation and as the only person able to hear, Fei knows it’s all up to her…. no pressure! hehe

I’ve been wanting to read a Richelle Mead book for ages, but with the Bloodlines and Vampire Academy series both being 6 books I kept putting her off til later. When I saw she finally had a standalone being released I was super excited to check out her writing style and see what all the buzz was about. Although Soundless is not what most would consider a “page turner”, Mead had a way of ending each chapter in such a way that makes you want to read at least the first paragraph in the next chapter just to see what the heck happens next! I quickly realized why she has so many fans.

A fantasy novel that is not only a standalone, but less than 300 pages long? Of course there’s a possibility of pulling that off, but it was done so much better than I thought was possible! Being less than 300 pages did not hinder the world building at all. Richelle did a great job at explaining the history of the village and the reason for why things are the way they are. Although there is no verbal dialog between the characters, they communicate through sign language and Mead made it all flow perfectly. I could vividly imagine the scenes as they were playing out and walked away from Soundless like I had just experienced something magical!

One of my favorite things about this story was the bond between Fei and her older sister, Zhang Jing, because it was something I could totally relate to. I have a sister named Carmen, who I’ve talked about in reviews before, that is my other half, my partner in crime, (for all my fellow Grey’s Anatomy lovers) my person. Although she’s older than me by 2 years, we share a super close bond and I’ve always felt the need to protect her. The way that Fei is willing to do anything for Zhang Jing really gave me all of the feels!

Lately, I’ve been falling for the losing end of love triangles so I was really glad that the “love triangle” (if you can even call it that) in Soundless was super minor and lasts a whole 3.5 seconds!  So if love triangles or insta-love aren’t your thing, you have nothing to worry about here. :)

Halfway through the book I thought there was just no way it could all be wrapped up by the final page, but Richelle Mead pulled it off and really gave Soundless a great conclusion. My reason for this book not scoring higher is because I lacked a greater connection to the characters. Sure, I wanted them to succeed, but when the story was over I wasn’t left wanting more from them. You know those books/characters that will stay on your mind for days/weeks/months long after you’ve put them back on your shelf? Well, this one didn’t do that for me. When I was done, I was simply ready for the next one.

This year I’ve decided to keep track  of the characters I live through and all of the places they take me to. Starting off 2016 as a young talented artist who lives on a mountain top in China and helps save my village is really a great way to kick things off!

About Richelle Mead

Scorpio Richelle Mead is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy books for both adults and teens. Originally from Michigan, Richelle now lives in Seattle, Washington where she works on her three series full-time. Before becoming a writer, she considered a few different career paths. She received a liberal arts degree from the University of Michigan, an MA in Comparative Religion from Western Michigan University, and a Master in Teaching (Middle & High School English) degree from the University of Washington. In the end, she decided writing was the way for her but believes all of her education prepared her for it.

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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Bitsy Words: The Nethergrim by Matthew Jobin

22nd Jan 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Bitsy Words, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Bitsy Words: The Nethergrim by Matthew Jobin

Bitsy Words: The Nethergrim by Matthew JobinThe Nethergrim by Matthew Jobin
Series: The Nethergrim Trilogy #1
Published by Philomel
Pub Date: April 8th 2014
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover | Source: Library
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

Everyone in Moorvale believes the legend: The brave knight Tristan and the famed wizard Vithric, in an epic battle decades ago, had defeated the evil Nethergrim and his minions. To this day, songs are sung and festivals held in the heroes' honor. Yet now something dark has crept over the village. First animals disappear, their only remains a pile of bones licked clean. Then something worse: children disappear. The whispers begin quietly yet soon turn into a shout: The Nethergrim has returned!

Edmund’s brother is one of the missing, and Edmund knows he must do something to save his life. But what? Though a student of magic, he struggles to cast even the simplest spell. Still, he and his friends swallow their fear and set out to battle an ancient evil whose powers none of them can imagine. They will need to come together--and work apart--in ways that will test every ounce of resolve.

I’ve been holding onto this mini review since I read the book in April 2014 and with the sequel coming out in May, it seems like the perfect time to share! I was so very impressed by The Nethergrim. It was darker and grimmer than I expected, but had that thread of hope in it that reminded me of both the first Harry Potter and the Seven Realms series. I was drawn in from the start and thought it was such an enthralling adventure. I loved Edmund and Katherine and Tom, though I felt desperately sorry for him. They were believable albeit very brave 14 year olds. I loved the legends and the magic system. And I just loved the writing, it was crisp and melancholy, menacing and exciting. I also thought the story wrapped up nicely for a first book while leaving plenty of adventure to be had. Highly recommended for fantasy fans, it’s the kind of book I would have loved in middle school that can still be enjoyed and appreciated by adults. To wrap up, I thought a little quest music was in order (primarily from 0:01-0:55)!

 

 

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

20th Jan 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: Carry On by Rainbow RowellCarry On by Rainbow Rowell
Published by St. Martin's Griffin
Pub Date: October 6th 2015
Pages: 522
Format: Hardcover | Source: Library
Genres: Fantasy, LGBT, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4.5 Stars

Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.

Fangirl was one of my favorite books a couple years ago and I enjoyed all the Simon Snow parts, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read Carry On. I’m glad I chose to because I read this behemoth in a DAY and it was so much fun!  From the first chapter, I was hooked. I loved the Harry Potterness that felt like a wink wink rather than something derivative. It felt clever and like a magical system and fantasy world fully realized on its own, with parallels and allusions for Potter fans to find. I also liked the allusions to past events and adventures in Simon’s world. Plus Simon’s preoccupation with food was adorable and very funny.

At first the spells annoyed me but then I decided I liked them- instead of made up words like Alohamora, they are rooted in the power of real life words and phrases, like Up up and away– it’s more about the intention behind the words. And I liked the Humdrum business! The mystery was intriguing and I liked the different viewpoints which helped piece it all together.

I loved (most) of the characters and I REALLY loved Simon, Baz, and Penelope. All amazing for different reasons…. sort of Harry/Draco/Hermione in this case! Simon and Penny had the best friendship, she might have been my favorite. As far as romance, I could have done with more (on page) kissing but I always want more kissing and oh my god the first kiss was worth the wait! The tension throughout the book between Simon and Baz was unreal! Hate to love is the best and they had such chemistry. I loved watching their relationship shift.

My main gripe is that I wish a few of the revelations had come to light in the end. I feel like we as an audience knew enough but I wanted the characters to uncover the truth too. Particularly related to the Lucy chapters. But otherwise this was super fun and makes me want to read Fangirl again as well. If you like hate-to-love romance, a cheeky magical system, character friendships, and easy to understand but well-done world building, read Carry On. It’s worth it.

 

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Wolf By Wolf by Ryan Graudin

11th Jan 2016 Ashley @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Ashley

Review: Wolf By Wolf by Ryan GraudinWolf By Wolf by Ryan Graudin
Series: Wolf By Wolf #1
Published by Little, Brown BfYR
Pub Date: October 20th 2015
Pages: 388
Format: Hardcover | Source: Purchased
Genres: Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4 Stars

The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain and Russia, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor's ball.

Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year's only female victor, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin's brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael's every move. But as Yael begins to get closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

(Originally posted by Ashley on Must Love Books)

I’ve said it before, I don’t really read historical fiction. But after reading this book I’m questioning that decision! I’m sure not every historical fiction title has skinshifters but I’m really starting to warm up to the idea of reading more historical fiction, maybe!

With that being said, I’m not a big fan of reading sad and depressing books in which thousands of people die for no reason, I just get really angry. In this particular book though, the main character Yael, was brought to a Nazi death camp with her family. She was chosen for an expirement and was pumped full of mysterious drugs that allowed her to change her eye color, skin color and hair color, basically be anyone she wants to be. Now this puts a new twist to the story because Yael can change into anyone she needs to be to complete her mission (kill Hitler). The story bounces back and forth between the past and the present, which sometimes is bothersome and confusing but I found it to be more mysterious and surprising. I really enjoyed Wolf by Wolf, I thought it had an interesting twist and I didn’t get bored! Of course I got curious about the motorcycles they used for the race so I had to look them up! Here they are.

 

I am glad this book came across my radar, (through November Uppercase Box). I’m not sure this is a title I would have picked up on my own but I am really glad I read it!

 

 

Ashley @ Gone with the Words

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Review: 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

4th Jan 2016 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad
Published by Little, Brown BfYR
Pub Date: April 17th 2012
Pages: 355
Format: Hardcover | Source: Library
Genres: Fantasy, Mystery, Paranormal, Sci-Fi, Suspense, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4 Stars

It's been decades since anyone set foot on the moon. Now three ordinary teenagers, the winners of NASA's unprecedented, worldwide lottery, are about to become the first young people in space--and change their lives forever. Mia, from Norway, hopes this will be her punk band's ticket to fame and fortune. Midori believes it's her way out of her restrained life in Japan. Antoine, from France, just wants to get as far away from his ex-girlfriend as possible.

It's the opportunity of a lifetime, but little do the teenagers know that something sinister is waiting for them on the desolate surface of the moon. And in the black vacuum of space... no one is coming to save them.

In this chilling adventure set in the most brutal landscape known to man, highly acclaimed Norwegian novelist Johan Harstad creates a vivid and frightening world of possibilities we can only hope never come true.

Ahh, I made the mistake of reading this book at night time!

I’m used to YA books I pick up being cutesy and full of “aww” but 172 Hours on the Moon was anything but that! It follows the story of three teenagers from around the world who win a lottery to travel to the moon and stay there for 172 hours. NASA ran this lottery as a way to revive the space program and get Earth’s youth involved and interested in astronomy. Unfortunately, NASA has kept hidden important details and the crew of 8 quickly realizes that this trip to the moon was a mistake.

“In space, no one can hear you scream.”

Our three main characters are 16 year old Mia, 16 year old Midori, and 17 year old Antoine. They each have a completely different reason for wanting to travel to the moon, but none have an actual interest in the moon itself. Mia wants fame for her band, Antoine wants to get back at his ex girlfriend, and Midori simply wants a ticket out of her Japan. From all the reasons, Midori’s is the one I could relate to the most. I’ve always loved traveling and luckily I’ve always been able to. Midori feels like she lives somewhere she can’t escape. She’s got what I like to call “a caged gypsy soul” and I was excited for her to have won.

Throughout the story we have several different side characters that are introduced. Johan Harstad did a great job at making those characters feel just as important as the three main characters. This book is told from multiple point of views and I never felt bored or distracted by the different side stories. This only helped to build up the main plot and give it more depth.

The story takes quite a while to really pick up since the first half of the book is spent learning about each character, the lottery process, and their training with NASA. Once the rocket took off though, so did the story! I don’t think a book had ever really scared me before. This one, however, made me feel jumpy. I was reading in bed and got startled (several times) by something as simple as my boyfriend walking in!

I loved that the author never made you feel sure in how the story would end. That’s not to say I didn’t guess right, but that’s only because I had 5 different guesses! Lol One thing I will definitely take from this book is that I will never look at the moon the same way again! If you are into YA and looking for something different from the typical highschool love story, then I suggest you pick this one up!

 

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

16th Dec 2015 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2015, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: The Martian by Andy WeirThe Martian by Andy Weir
Published by Crown
Pub Date: February 11th 2014
Pages: 369
Format: Hardcover | Source: Purchased
Genres: Adult Fiction, Sci-Fi
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4 Stars

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him? 

The plot of this book is simply: A team of 6 astronauts goes out for a mission to Mars. This is the third time the mission has taken place and the first two times have been successful. During day 6 of being on Mars, a sandstorm occurs and 5 of the astronauts are able to safely return to their spaceship. Mark Watney is the 6th astronaut and he has been left behind. The crew he was with are under the impression he is now dead and are forced to abort the mission and leave Mars. Mark is injured, but far from ready to give up. Not only is he a botanist/mechanical engineer/an effin genius, he has the mentality of a survivor and refuses to look for a corner to sulk in. Equipped with food and tools that were meant to last six people for thirty-one days, Mark is determined to do whatever he has to do in order to make it last for four years. That is when the 4th mission to Mars is scheduled to take place and Mark knows it will be his only chance at being rescued.

The first few chapters were really hard for me to get through. Mark’s character is incredibly intelligent and he has no problem throwing out all sorts of formulas and concepts that were hard to wrap my brain around. All the scientific talk was beginning to feel overwhelming, but I’m so glad I decided to stick with this book! I kept trying to understand every single one of the formulas until I stopped and realized that the chances of me ever being quizzed and asked to explain these formulas were slim to none. The odds of me deciding to drop photography to be an astronaut were even smaller! Ha! I finally stopped getting in my own head about wanting to make sense of every single thing. All I needed to focus on was that “I’m willing to dedicate all but an emergency 50 liters to the cause. I can feed 62.5 square meters at a depth of 10 centimeters. About two-thirds of the Hab’s floor.” meant “I have enough.” At first, I wanted for the Andy Weir to just talk in layman’s terms, but then I realized that would take away  from the experience. The author’s job was to make this book so realistic that I wouldn’t question him. He definitely accomplished that! There is no question that Weir has to have done extensive research when writing this book!

Mark Watney’s humor was easily my favorite thing about The Martian! This book is filled with so much sass and sarcasm that had me laughing out loud more times than I can recall! Mark is far from being unrealistic about his present situation and his bluntness with it all just makes you root for his success every step of the way.

“If the oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the water reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death. So yeah. I’m fucked.” -Mark Watney

The ending was extremely thrilling! The book comes to a point where it’s do or die (literally) time and there are less than 10 pages left! Because of this, the conclusion felt very abrupt. I don’t think all books need an epilogue, but this one was definitely missing one. The feeling of being cut off when I wanted more has made watching the movie adaptation a must!

My boyfriend will only read a couple of books a year, but this is one he devoured in 2 days which is completely unheard of for him. If you’re like me and try to find books that you can bond over with your significant other, then this is a great pick! Plus you get to treat each other to a movie date afterwards! ♥

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis

7th Dec 2015 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2015, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: Spinning Starlight by R.C. LewisSpinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis
Published by Disney Hyperion
Pub Date: October 6th 2015
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover | Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3 Stars

Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it's hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it's just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.

Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi's vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.

Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers' survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?

Haunting and mesmerizing, this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Wild Swans strings the heart of the classic with a stunning, imaginative world as a star-crossed family fights for survival in this companion to Stitching Snow.

Spinning Starlight is a retelling of The Wild Swans a fairy tale about a king who has 11 sons and 1 daughter, Princess Elisa. He remarries to a wicked queen who turns out to be a witch that casts a spell on her 11 stepsons turning them into swans and banishes Elisa when she realizes that she can’t curse her. Elisa has to knit shirts for her 11 brothers in order to save them and also has to take a vow of silence in the process. Any word spoken will cause the death of her brothers.

When I first read the plot for this book what I got was sci fi fairy tale retelling and of course the first thing that came to mind was Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles. I was immediately interested! Although the story is a solid 3 stars, I was a bit let down because I went into it with such high expectations.

R.C. Lewis really hit the ground running from the first chapter. There was a lot of jargon thrown all at once and it sort of felt like I was reading book 2 in a series without having even skimmed book 1. It was easy enough to follow along with the gist of it.  Our main character is Liddi Jantzen, a 16 year old heiress, who is constantly in the spotlight and feels like she can’t live up to the expectations that her 8 older tech-savvy brothers have set forth. She is set to run the family business when she is old enough, but one night chaos strikes and she gets thrown into a tail spin. What lost me was the explanation of the worlds, the portals, and how they worked. The best way I can explain it is it felt like being told “The chocolate tarp reads shoes for death.” and then the author would explain that meant “Liddi felt prepared.” Wait what?! Exactly! Lol So that was basically the first 3rd of the book for me. Too much was happening so my brain was trying to simultaneously process the world it was being thrown into AND the actual story itself. I stayed with it and luckily towards the second 3rd the book really slowed down. Although this might be the part that will bore some to death, this is when all the jargon finally started to make some sense.

The real challenge for R.C. Lewis here is that our main character doesn’t speak for about 90% of the book! Our villain has set it up so that a single word spoken by Liddi will cause the death of her brothers. The author did a great job at taking us through Liddi’s thought process and emotions without her actually speaking. My only issue with this was that it was expected for us to know why Liddi couldn’t just take out good ole pen and paper to say what she needed to say. It isn’t until page 62 that we get an explanation and by then I had just come to the conclusion that it was just not an option for no other reason other than it just wasn’t an option. *insert shrug* Once the author actually explained why pen and paper weren’t an option then it made sense and that’s when I really began to enjoy seeing Liddi learn how to communicate with other characters without being able to speak. I fell in love with her sarcasm filled mental media-casts which were Liddi’s assumptions of what headlines would read if the media saw her doing what she was in that moment.

Another thing I really liked was the Daglin holiday celebrated in Ferinne! It is basically a day when everyone stops whatever they are doing and spends it cleaning up the town! If only that was an actual thing! Think about how much cleaner our planet would be.

Something I wish we would’ve got more of was the Jantzen brothers in the present. After each chapter we’d get a little blast from the past with a backstory to the Jantzen family. This is really the only time the reader gets an insight into the brothers that Liddi is trying so hard to rescue. Knowing so little about them made me want them to be rescued but only for Liddi’s sake, not because I felt invested in any of their characters.

Although I was confused with the tech talk for quite a while, I still enjoyed this book for the most part. I also plan on checking out Stitching Snow, R.C. Lewis’ other retelling book which is based on Snow White!

 

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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