The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith

Check out David Meredith and this book on Amazon

In this Snow White sequel, we get to see Snow’s life as Queen. She is queen of a happy blended kingdom, she maintains a beautiful castle, and she’s planning her only daughter’s wedding. But Snow is also very depressed because her husband, Charming, has passed away. She’s wandering about the castle one day, trying to avoid everyone when she realizes there is one place no one will ever go to look for her: her stepmother’s chambers.

My main problem with Snow stems from my current perception of the character. In other recent Snow White stories, Snow is a strong lead. She makes her own choices, she argues with Charming, she doesn’t consider suicide a solution, and she isn’t crippled by her losses. She knows she has a kingdom to run, and she does it. We get a few pages of that, even before she loses Charming.

In reality, it’s not an actual problem. Its just different. The author was right to distinguish her from other Snow White’s like that, or I’d be here complaining that she’s another Mary Sue character with no distinctive traits. I do wish she would have stood up for herself more, though. I felt like she was always giving in to somebody else, never really taking what she wanted.

I want to bring up the issue of consent. The lines blur considerably, which made me uncomfortable. On their wedding night, she doesn’t even know what sex is, let alone the concept of consent. Also, when she wants to have sex right after she tried to kill herself… Over sex… Probably not the healthiest for Snow, mentally or physically. And Charming is absolutely not down with it.

I enjoyed the writing, which is rare for self-published novels. It was eloquent and descriptive. Snow had a distinctive voice and the author didn’t ramble.

This book is very hopeful. It serves as a healthy reminder that the people we’ve lost are never really gone; our memories of who they are and the time we spent with them keep them alive, in a way. The mirror was a great tool to show that with. It always made sure to emphasize that what she was seeing and feeling was her. It wasn’t controlling or distorting anything. When she realized that, she figured out the mirror wasn’t trying to manipulate her, and She let it help her heal.

TL;DR
– 4 stars
– Snow feels defeated & lost
– nice writing style
– strong sense of hope

 

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Emotion Market: So It Begins by Dimitris Chasapis

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. Click here to view on Goodreads and here to view on Amazon.

In Emotion Market: So It Begins, Dr. Caroline Emerson has created a medical technology that can perform long-term alterations to patient’s emotions. The International Council on Emotional Control has been formed to help regulate this service because they recognize the potential for abuse this technology has, but the ICEC has also chosen to immediately offer Emotion Markets to the public rather than waiting for the results of the clinical trials. The morality of this technology is hotly contested, and there is a conspiracy in place to take them down.

There are too many characters to efficiently keep track of, and more characters were continually added. Characters added nearer to the end were less developed than characters in the beginning, which is a bit of a problem considering characters introduced earlier weren’t that well-developed anyway. The writer used very few moments to show us about the characters, but took many opportunities to tell us. As a result, much of the development felt thin and underdone.

The writing style was strange. The dialogue and exposition were redundant. Sentences would sometimes be rewarded three different ways. It made the novel clunky and awkward to read.

 

 

The exciting part of this novel was the mystery. Who is behind the plot to take down emotion markets? Why are they so against it? Who is funding them? How did Taylor’s actions at the end of the novel benefit them? I also liked that everything was connected. It was fun to try and connect the dots.

TL;DR

  • 3 stars
  • Clunky, awkward writing
  • Too many characters
  • Exciting conspiracy and mystery

Beware That Girl by Teresa Toten


Available May 31, 2016 from Delacorte Press

I received an ARC of Beware That Girl at BEA. Thanks to Delacorte Press for the opportunity to read. Click here to view on Goodreads or click here to view on Amazon.

Beware That Girl is a psychological thriller set deep in the heart of the Upper East Side where meds are served with cocktails and paths are greased with money and names. Featuring Kate, an outsider, a scholarship kid, trying to piggy back her way onto the big scene (and Yale), and Olivia, a head case just on the other side of a psychological break. Oh, and Mark…shady, charming, gorgeous Mark.

For as enticing as this storyline sounds, I was bored for at least half of it. It’s pitched as a thriller…but it took a LONG time to get to the thrilling part. The first half of the book is one big dictionary of who’s who in NYC. I’m talking Chloe and Dolce and Bergdorf’s. Everything had a name and everyone had something  name brand. As a lowly outsider of this fabulous world I felt…bored, mostly. I don’t care about name dropping, so as a reader I wasn’t impressed, and it certainly didn’t warm me to the characters. They were constantly mooning over a scarf or a purse or a dress and filling up on prescriptions and booze.

But, maybe this book wasn’t written for me…but for someone more cultured.

Anyways.

I think the author hid the secrets so well in the beginning of the book, the reader is left flapping in the breeze, wondering when the hell the story will start. We’re just following these two girls around as they go to school, self-medicate, and visit their therapists. It’s like an episode of Gossip Girl, except without Chuck Bass or Blair Waldorf, or hell, even a Lonely Boy to keep things interesting. There was literally nothing!

Around page 250 when things finally got interesting, I was GLUED to the page. The turn of events was engaging and twisted and I loved it. Sadly, it only lasted 50 pages until the book ended. I felt like the agony of the long buildup didn’t quite pay off in the end. It felt a little too contrived to be real and the hints dropped seemed too convenient…more like they were used for shock value rather than what they added to the story. And the final twist…I just thought, really? REALLY? I wasn’t excited. I was frustrated…and maybe a little let down.

If you can make it through the initial lull, the last stretch is at least entertaining.

2.5 Stars

Kacey

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

I received a signed ARC of A Torch Against the Night at BEA 2016. Click here to view on Goodreads and click here to view on Amazon.

My initial thoughts were that Torch gave a strong “Harry Potter and the Endlessly Long Camping Trip” vibe. Actually I feel like the largest problem I had with the book was the pacing; the group spent too long wth the Tribespeople, there was a lot of time spent pouting about Elias’ problems, development with Keenan seemed too drastic because it was so rushed.

I feel we lost a bit of Laia. We lost some of the strength she’d fought so hard for in the first book. I get that she’s been beaten down, and I get that she’s trying to lean on another character for strength, and I don’t expect her to be strong all the time,  but the digression seemed out of character.

Keenan was also not as powerful a character in this book. I get it; Laia was supposed to love him and trust him and let him take some of the burden off her shoulders, but it all felt so rushed and desperate. In the last book, there were moments I’d hoped to see more of the together, but now that it’s happened, it was just… sad. And I recognize that we’re not supposed to like him, but there wasn’t enough substance to Keenan in this one for me to even muster up a strong sense of dislike.

Izzi is my favorite supporting character. For someone who lived her life in slavery, she is an incredibly strong character, and an extremely positive force. I am so attached to her, and several of the more moving moments revolved around her.

Elias’ stayed the same strong, remorseful man he was in Serra. His strength comes from his need to redeem himself. He’s still haunted by the men he’s lost and the people he’s killed. He thinks he can do that by getting the Scholars only hope (Darin) out of Kauf. I hope that the Forest can help him find some peace; Elias has earned it.

Helene grew on me. In the last novel, her cruelty was off-putting, but this time around I found her loyalty to be a compelling trait; would she choose her loyalty to the Empire and her family, or would she stay loyal to the only friend she’s ever had? Reading about that conflict made Hel a more real person than any one moment in the last novel.

Hope was a big theme in the last book, and it was pushed even more obviously to the forefront of this novel. The difference between hope in this book and hope in the last is that it is challenged further in Torch. Elias likes to remind Laia that there is hope in life, but they are in constant danger of dying; Hel is chasing them (very successfully, I might add),  Keris Veturia has done her best to make sure her plot works out, and they’re trying to break into a prison that is essentially a known death camp for Scholars.

If I’m not mistaken, Book 3 is not confirmed? But it should be. I don’t know that I could live without it.20160522_232356

 

TL;DR

  • 4/5 stars
  • Some pacing problems and character digression
  • Loving my Masked characters
  • Check out the Mask Sabaa drew in my book!

 

– XOXO,

Bookie

The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Review by Kacey Vanderkarr. Check out her blog here. Click here to view this book on Goodreads and click here to view on Amazon.

I tend to approach every contemporary romance (YA, in this case) with a little bit of trepidation. If it has a naked man (or woman) on the cover, I run the opposite direction. (The Problem With Forever has a gorgeous, multicolored cover. YAY!) In this case, I read one of Jennifer L. Armentrout’s books a while back (Obsidian). EVERYONE loved that book. I, however, wasn’t a fan of the writing. I was lucky enough to meet Jennifer at BEA and get an ARC of The Problem With Forever, and thought I’d give her work another chance. Sometimes authors are really great at contemporary but not so great at fantasy.

I wanted to love The Problem With Forever. It had the makings of a great story. Girl with a fractured history of child abuse? Bad boy with a broken past? Check and check. Unfortunately, the writing fell short of the mark for me.

 

Things I liked:

The unfavorable look at the foster care system. I know that this is awful, but it is a REAL PROBLEM that exists. Also PTSD and child abuse. These make people uncomfortable and they should. Props to Jennifer L. Armentrout for taking on such heavy topics.

The realness of the rich/poor class divides. This book featured a lot of diversity that was handled well.

The romance was nice. It didn’t overpower the story and I think the romantic arc was one of the best features of the novel.

The Velveteen Rabbit. This story is a backbone for the plot and theme and I loved it. Something about that book makes me sob like a baby, and it worked here. It added a nice layer to Mallory and Rider that I appreciated.

Jayden. He was BY FAR my favorite character and the only one who felt rooted in anything solid. He had a personality that he stuck to, along with a voice that felt authentic. His part in the story ripped my heart out.

The story itself was not terrible. After about page 300, I really enjoyed it.

 

Things I didn’t like:

Mallory’s voice never felt authentic. She ventured between having a really adult thought process, and then a stream of “teenage” thoughts. I use this term loosely because what it really felt like was an adult mimicking an “annoying” teenager with their “annoying” slang. The voice was all over the place and felt forced…I wanted it to be an extension of Mallory, when really it felt like the author injecting herself somewhere she didn’t understand.

Mallory was not a strong character, which is totally FINE. Not everyone is a badass. However, I had a hard time swallowing the whole “I’m only beautiful because a boy told me I am.” This is a common theme in YA literature (and romance in general) and I HATE IT. I wish she could’ve found another way to find her strength. She does, sort of, in the end. But I wish we never had to go there.

The repetition. I think the author intended the mindless repetitive sentences to prove Mallory’s anxiety. She had a habit of thinking about thinking something. Thinking it. Then thinking about thinking it. (See what I did there?) It was SO MONOTONOUS. I wanted to go through the book with a red pen and cut it all out. It made the story weaker. It was a distraction. And it wasn’t just the description and thoughts that were repetitive, it was the rambling sentence structure. I almost stopped reading after the first few chapters just because it was so hard to get through. I skipped all the exposition and only read the dialogue until about page 300. It was just too much.

Ainsley felt like an unnecessary character. I understand that she was supposed to serve as Mallory’s mirror, showing a “possible future,” but her character never felt rooted in the story and without the extra pages spent on her story, the focus could’ve been drawn back to strengthening Mallory’s and Rider’s stories.

 

Overall, I think I would’ve liked this story if the general structural writing problems hadn’t existed. They were the same issues I had with Obsidian. Perhaps in a few years I’ll give Jennifer L. Armentrout another try. If you’ve liked her work in the past, I’ve no doubt you’ll enjoy this book even though it wasn’t for me.

– Kacey

BEA Recap and Updates

For those of you who don’t know, BEA stands for Book Expo America. Book Expo America is an extremely large trade show where you receive ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies). Since it is a trade only show, you must be an industry professional. It’s a great opportunity for those professionals to get a look at the near future of publishing, and to connect with each other. Usually BEA is held in New York, but this year it was held in Chicago. From what I was told, this change of venue made for a more intimate environment and a less crazy exhibit.

I attended both BEA and BookCon (a consumer event) this past week with a friend of mine. I found BEA to be a more professional environment, and am not likely to attend BookCon in the future. There were way too many people and too much loitering, although it was a welcome opportunity to buy books to fill holes in my personal library. That being said, if you ever choose to attend a BEA or BookCon (which I highly recommend; it was a valuable experience), you need to go into each day with a plan of action. For you that may be picking up as many ARCs as possible, or it may mean giving you business card to as many agents, bloggers, or publishers that you can. A plan is essential.

Some BEA lessons learned: the publisher can make a huge difference in the quality and variety of books. Macmillan and their publishers were by far my most frequented booth. Also near the top of the list were Penguin Random House and Hachette. The books these publishers put out were often genres and authors I knew I enjoyed, and they featured beautiful writing styles. Another lesson: BEA is much less about the books and more about The business of publishing. Spend time masking connections and networking than attempting to collect books. You’ll get plenty of books (whether you want them or not), but those connections can help open doors in the publishing business. After all, it’s not always what you, it’s often who you know.

Some of the ARCs I’m very excited for include Rebel Genius, Michael DiMartino (co-creator of Avatar: The Last Airbender); Replica, Lauren Oliver (Delirium); Metaltown, Kristen Simmons (The Glass Arrow); Heartless, Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles); The Diabolic, S.J. Kincaid (Insignia); A Torch Against the Night, Sabaa Tahir (An Ember in the Ashes), and Stealing Snow, Danielle Paige (Dorothy Must Die).

Maybe you’ve noticed that all of these are YA Fantasy. Maybe you’re thinking that’s an awfully narrow niche for the next few weeks. Maybe you were hoping that is beach out a little at BEA and pick up some middle grade, contemporary, or even adult. Maybe you were even hoping that sudden influx of reading material would speed up the review process.

The answer to all of those maybes is yes, and that answer is a hint for some exciting news with regards to Better Call Your Bookie. The official announcement of this news is coming soon, so he on the lookout for updates! In the meantime, you can find me at the nearest masseuse.

Bookie out