ARC Review: The May Queen Murders

The May Queen Murders

 

I am still trying to properly understand my feelings after finishing this book. The quote on the cover that says, “Dark, dangerous, and drippingly gothic” is close to the truth. The one thing that was left out was gory.

This is the story of Ivy, a simple girl living in Rowan’s Glen. The Glen is a very, very small town where the families live off of the land and rarely use electricity. It is a town with a very strong belief in superstition and tradition. Everyone makes their own clothes, unless they are splurging for a special occassion. Ivy grows up with her cousin, Heather, with whom she shares a very close bond. Ivy has a slower way of thinking about things and often stammers when she is nervous. Neither goes anywhere without the other. That all changes when Ivy is sixteen years old and she notices Heather has been sneaking away in the middle of the night to meet someone that Ivy doesn’t know about. At the same time, brutal and cruel animal killings are taking place all over The Glen. Nobody knows exactly who is murdering the animals but everyone has a strong idea, if you are to believe the old stories. Things within The Glen start getting stranger and more dangerous when Heather goes missing after the May Day celebration. Secrets of The Glen won’t stay hidden for long as the truth behind the murders and Heather’s disappearance are discovered.

This story had so much potential but I think it fell short. Maybe the author tired to put too much into one story. Whatever she was trying to do, it hurt this book. Let’s start with the characters.

I liked some of the characters but I didn’t love the characters. Ivy, the protagonist, needed to grow a freaking backbone. She was so tied to Heather that she felt she couldn’t exist without her. I’m all for close families but that was too much. That’s called obsession. She also was so gullible and naive. All of those characteristics and more made for a less than desireable protagonist. Heather, Ivy’s cousin, felt like the typical rebellious teenager that wanted something bigger than the simple, small town she was born in to. She was downright reckless and careless… I cannot find myself caring when characters are stupid like that. The only one I actually felt something for was Rook. (You find out very quickly that all kids born in The Glen are named after plants, trees, or animals: Heather, Ivy, Rook, Raven, Birch…) Rook was such a sweet and caring young man that I wanted nothing but good things for him. He had such a big heart and caring soul.  The other characters did not stand out and were not very memorable.

Now the story line. Again, this story had so much potential but it was lost because too much was going on: superstitions, traditions, ghosts, murders, cult-like killings, animal killings… it was just an overoad. All of these elements combined made it very difficult to figure out what the actual story was supposed to be. The more the story continued, the more I realized that the pacing was completly off. It started out with superstitions and then talked about the type of tea Ivy’s mom made her so she could sleep at night. Uh…. you lost me there. The story really did feel like it was dragging. Right when something interesting (finally) happeend and you thought things were going to get good, the author started talking about old traditions and old wives’ tales. UUUUUUUGH. Another thing that confused me about the story was there were journal-like entries at the top of each chapter that were never ever explained. WHY? Why include them to begin with if you are not going to explain them?! What was the point of adding them??

Here is what really got me about this book: the gore. Oh my goodness… the gore. Parts of this story were gory simply for the sake of being gory. There was absolutely no need for that level of description. Please, heed my warning if you plan to ever read this book. Be prepared for animal killings and descriptions of said animal killings. There are also incredibly descriptive paragraphs pertaining to human killings and all that entails. Those items alone nearly caused me to put this book down and walk away. I’m not sure that level of detail is ever needed in any story unless it is some heavy duty cult-like horror fiction book. Horror books are not my bag but be warned this book lives up to that category.

The ending of the book made me want to scream and throw things. Why? It was a complete rush to end the story. Too many twists, turns, plot twists, characters out of nowhere happened in the last two chapters of the book. Imagine that. The author rushed to cram a wrap up the entire story in the last ten pages or so. The reveal was just complicated and none of it made sense. It did not leave me with warm fuzzies and it did not answer all of my questions. The ending just felt MEH, like it was an after thought.

Overall, I did not enjoy this book as much as I wanted (if you couldn’t tell). My initial rating was 3 stars, but as I write this review I believe I may drop that. The more I think about this story, the more I wish I had DNFd it early on.

 

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Books Left Unread #31

Wallpaper-Books

Books Left Unread

Welcome to my blog post where I talk about the books I have been meaning to read, but just have not yet. You know what I am talking about – the books that have remained unread for various reasons yet when you see them you think, “You know, I really need to read that.” Instead you get distracted by another book, series, or something in your TBR pile. It happens to the best of us. I want to spotlight those books in the hope that I can persuade myself to move them up on my TBR list.

 

This week’s post is dedicated to Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman.

 

Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog, #1)

 

Let’s start by saying how gorgeous that cover is! Just wow. Now, the reason I haven’t read this book yet. I DNF’d Anne’s Traiter Angels book and now I fear this book will be the same way. I don’t like DNFing book and I really don’t want to be disappointed by another book. So tell me, have you read this one?

 

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June Subscription Box Review: Uppercase

WELCOME!! Welcome to my June Subscription Box Review of Uppercase!!

This may be a quick post as I am not thrilled with my latest Uppercase shipment. Here is what I received:

Another copy of My Lady Jane

My Lady Jane bookmark

Harry Potter wooden magnet

A tote bag

That’s it. I know My Lady Jane is the hot book on the streets, but for both Uppercase and OwlCrate sub boxes to send it out this month is what I like to call “overkill”. I just attended the book tour for this book so I have an autographed copy. Plus an autographed ARC. This copy is not physcially signed, however a signed separate title page was included.

From the Uppcasebox.com website, here is how they address receiving duplicate books:

“What If I Already Have the Book?
This is extremely uncommon since we only choose books published within the past month. If you are concerned, we recommend not purchasing newly published YA books until you receive your monthly Uppercase Box.”

This book box subscription ships out on the 15th of each month so telling a reader to not buy a new book isn’t exactly the best thing, in my opinion.

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SIGH

I am so completely underwhelmed by this sub box that I’m fumbling to find the right words. There is nothing that I received that I am excited about. The tote bag is cute, but that combined with the other two items are not worth my hard earned money. This may be the final straw that makes me cancel my final book box subscription.

What would you do? You have seen month over month what I have received, what are you thoughts? Would you continue paying $23 (before taxes) /month?

 

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Review: Julia Vanishes

Julia Vanishes

 

I was so excited to read Julia Vanishes as the blurb makes it sound like a mysterious fantasy. How awesome is that?! Sadly, that is not what I read when I made my way through this book.

When we meet our MC, Julia, she is a young adult and already knows that she is a witch. Ever since she was a child, she knew that she had the ability to vanish without a trace. Mind you, she is not really invisible, she mearly blends in to her surroundings and other people cannot see her. Julia lives in a time when all forms of magic are illegal and anyone being accused of being a witch is burned alive or drowned. Julia has found solice working for Mrs. Och, a lady who has an odd assortment of people living in her home. Julia finds herself digging up information on who all of these house guests are… you see, Julia is a spy posing as a housemaid. It is a dangerous job but one that pays well and Julia knows no fear. The more Julia finds out about these houseguests, the more she wants to be done with them and on to other things. She also has been looking into the killings that are happening throughout her city and fears a serial killer may be on the loose. Unfortunately, that is percisely when she finds herself in deeper than she ever imagined and the cost to escape will be at a horrible price.

This is the first book in the Witch’s Child trilogy and it did not start off well in my eyes. The story is so painfully slow. So slow that your brain starts to think of other things and you forget that you are supposed to be reading a story. All of the people, places, and things the author took great pains to describe were not entirely necessary. I understand this is based in the gaslight era, but taking the time to describe the sidewalks and the fashion of nearly everyone walking was overkill. Instead, I wanted to know more about the witches powers, where they came from, how could they be developed, and more.

I did not ever find myself connecting with any character. I didn’t fancy any of them. They felt dry and flat. Julia was not relatable to me as she came across overly self-assured and cocky. Plus she was too nosey for her own good. She felt she needed to know every single thing about every single person regardless if she was asked to look into them or not.

I felt there were just too many elements introduced as the story went on. This is supposed to be a the first novel in a new series and too much was happening at once. The author should have picked one solid concept to start with and branched out from there. Instead, every possible topic was thrown into this one book: unusual creatures, witches, strange house guests, mysteries, secret books, possibly murdering beasts.

Overall, this book just did not work for me. I was never fully invested in what was going on. I did not feel anything for the characters or the story line. It all felt forced and I that made me care even less. I gave this book a 2 star rating because reasons stated above. I was going to give a 2.5 but as I wrote this review, I remembered how frustrating this book made me so I dropped the rating. I know I will be a black sheep with this book but I’m okay with that because I have been on a lot of other books lately.

 

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My Lady Jane Book Tour: Houston

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On Monday, June 13, the lovely authors of My Lady Jane made a stop in Houston at Blue Willow Book Shop! These ladies are so amazing that there is no way I would miss this event. And to say I was not disappointed is an understatement. While waiting for the even to begin, the authors walk in and immediately make their way tot he YA section to look for books and their signatures on the wall. It is so much fun to see authors in the wild…

 

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It was a packed house when it was time to start. (L-R) Jodi, Cynthia, and Brodi sat down and it was clear from the start that their excitement would be infectious. You could not help but be so happy and anxious to read this book! We quickly learned how Cynthia came up with the idea for the story, then asked Brodi and Jodi to join her in the writing process. We were told how the book took shape and who is the funny one of this trio. We also learned that these ladies first met each other on a group book tour many years ago. Their original signatures are on the wall right above the YA section!

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Soon, there was a reading. That’s right! Jodi, Cynthia, and Brodi put on amazing hats to read part of their story to us. Jodi is reading Elizabeth, Cynthia is Edward, and Brodi is G. Let me tell you – if you haven’t had an author read some of their humerous work to you, then you haven’t lived. It was just downright fun!

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When it came time for the signing line, I was actually nervous. I normally don’t get nervous around authors but this time I did! I have met Jodi several times and I met the other ladies at the recent North Texas Teen Book Festival, but they were flocked with readers so I knew they wouldn’t recognize me. It doesn’t matter because as a reader, you want to leave a good impression. What did I do? I believe I stammered all over myself and sounded like a fool. I’m a class act, what can I say.

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I hope everyone had the chance to meet these authors during their tour. If not, please, pick up this book that (properly) rewrites history and gives Lady Jane the ending she deserves. 🙂

 

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Review: The Hunt (The Cage #2)

The Hunt (The Cage, #2)

 

I recently read and reviewed The Cage, the first book in this series. If you read that review (and I hope you did! ;)) you know that when I read this book or talk about it, all I can think about is this being a YA version of a Twilight Zone eposide. I don’t mean that in a bad way, only that all I can think about are aliens, robots, and cheesy campy stories.

The Hunt picks up right where The Cage left off. The teens attempted to escape The Cage but were caught… all except one. The rest were taken to new enclosures or environments that are called The Hunt. The Hunt is basically a safari type place where animals are hunted and shot for sport. The humans within this environment tend to the wounded animals bringing them back to life so they can be hunted and shot all over again. The humans not tending to the animals are treated like preforming animals, doing tricks and performing on command for some tokens. Cora is a part of The Hunt but she is also being groomed by Cassian to participate in some type of tests that if completed, she and the humans will be considered one of the smartest beings in the galaxy. It turns out that Rolf and Nok are actually put into a dollhouse type of environment for observation of the duration of the pregnancy. The aliens want to “learn” from Nok about being pregnant and gather information that they cannot learn from books. Let’s not forget Leon. He did manage to escape The Cage and he is working with another group of aliens smuggling items while trying to figure a way out.

I’m sorry, but there is just way too much going on in this story. There are so many sub-stories that I struggled to remember which one I should be paying attention to. Do I pay more attention to Cora learning to move things with her mind  or do I focus more on Nok and her pregnancy? What about Leon helping a smuggling alien or Mali knowing more than she is letting on? Answer: None of these. Not of these sub stories sunk their teeth in to me. I found myself not caring what happened to anyone. They all felt like they were reading from a script: dry and stale. You want to know who I did feel the most for? The animals. The animals that were hunted for sport and the ones that were killed for trophies. That’s who I cared about.

The story of Nok and Rolf was such a strange and out of place that it felt very unnecessary. The author wants the readers to believe that this alien race was so obsession with human reproduction and gestation that they wanted to watch and “learn” from two teenagers that had horrible and  traumatic upbringings? Nok was basically forced into child prostitution and Rolf was abused by his parents. These two don’t know what a normal family or normal pregnancy is so how can they be expected to teach aliens? Unreal.

Cora. Oh, Cora. Our protagonist. What a massive train wreck she is. She is at it again where she believes that she and she alone can solve the mysteries of the universe that will get everyone out of this mess. It is maddening to read over and over again that she believes that she has the answers to everything and she is The One To Save Everyone. Get over yourself, sweetheart. And there is still are the uncomfortable and ever present growing feelings for Cassian. *groan*

Let’s pause and talk about Mali for a moment. I have not liked this character from the moment she was introduced. She comes across as if she is a robot herself: no feelings or emotions yet carries deep dark secrets that are all powerful.

 

 

The pacing of this story was sooooooo slooooooooooooooow. The story felt like it went on forever and ended up going nowhere. The characters never developed and that was more frustrating than I can properly put into words. How can an author write two books of a series and the characters be in the same emotional/mental place??? Changing the scenery did not help this story at all. In fact, it felt like it made it worse. As I mentioned, splitting the characters up into sub-stories was a bad idea. Along with the multiple POVs. Those are not helping this story at all.

Overall, no, I did not enjoy this story. It made me more upset than anything. The characters kept doing stupid things over and over and expected different results. I’m all for a good sci-fi story but this just did not do it for me. I rated this 1.5 stars because this frustrated me more than anything. I kept picturing hamsters running on wheels and going nowhere fast.

 

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Waiting on Wednesday: Labyrinth Lost

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

This week’s pre-publication “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

 

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Gordova

Labyrinth Lost

 

From Goodreads:

“Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

I fall to my knees. Shattered glass, melted candles and the outline of scorched feathers are all that surround me. Every single person who was in my house – my entire family — is gone.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange markings on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Beautiful Creatures meets Daughter of Smoke and Bone with an infusion of Latin American tradition in this highly original fantasy adventure.”

 

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