Saturday, August 30, 2014

Book Review: Faces of the Dead by Suzanne Weyn

Goodreads summary:

When Marie-Therese, daughter of Marie Antoinette, slips into the streets of Paris at the height of the French Revolution, she finds a world much darker than what she's ever known.

When Marie-Thérèse Charlotte of France learns of the powerful rebellion sweeping her country, the sheltered princess is determined to see the revolution for herself. Switching places with a chambermaid, the princess sneaks out of the safety of the royal palace and into the heart of a city in strife.

Soon the princess is brushing shoulders with revolutionaries and activists. One boy in particular, Henri, befriends her and has her questioning the only life she's known. When the princess returns to the palace one night to find an angry mob storming its walls, she's forced into hiding in Paris. Henri brings her to the workshop of one Mademoiselle Grosholtz, whose wax figures seem to bring the famous back from the dead, and who looks at Marie-Thérèse as if she can see all of her secrets. There, the princess quickly discovers there's much more to the outside world - and to the mysterious woman's wax figures - than meets the eye.

My review:

I've always enjoyed Weyn's books.  They're quick, fun reads, and I read quite a few of her fairytale retellings in my early teens.  So I was looking forward to reading Faces of the Dead.  It was a fast and interesting read that held my attention, although it does have a few problems.

What I liked:  History fans, be sure to check this book out!  Weyn captures the gritty feel of the French Revolution perfectly, and she doesn't hold back.  Every dark detail is there.  I felt like I was swept away in that time period.  Even in such a short book, I learned so many facts about the French Revolution.

There is a strong cast of characters too.  It's so clever that the main character, Marie-Therese, is the daughter of Marie Antionette!  I haven't heard of many YA books about Marie Antionette, and I liked how she's inserted into the story.  In fact, all the members of Marie-Therese's family are so realistic and distinctive.  Another interesting addition is Marie-Therese's maidservant and friend, who looks just like her, enough that the two of them frequently switch roles.  I liked all the characters and felt caught up in their story.

What I didn't like:  Something about this book just didn't click for me.  I liked everything, but I didn't love it.  I think part of the reason why this book didn't totally work for me is that it's so short.  It's barely 200 pages, and it took me a little over an hour to read it.  It was as if the whole story was over so quickly, especially because it spans so much time - we jump from Marie-Therese's childhood, to her preteens, to her teens, etc.  It was like the story never paused long enough for me to grow attached to the characters.

Something else that felt off was the magical aspect of the story.  I guess this book is considered a historical fantasy, but it felt so much more like a historical book than a fantasy.  The magical aspect isn't even introduced until halfway through the story, and it seemed very out of place.  Plus, the ending is tied up way too easily thanks to the magic.  It just wasn't very satisfying.

Faces of the Dead is a decent, entertaining, and very quick read.  The detailed setting and strong characters add life to the story, but it was too short and jumbled for me to really love it.  Still, I'll keep my eye out for more of Weyn's books.

*I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thanks!

My rating:  3 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (49)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to read.

My pick is Suspicion by Alexandra Monir!

Goodreads summary:

Mysterious. Magnificent. Creepy. Welcome to Rockford Manor.

"There's something hidden in the Maze." Seventeen-year-old Imogen has never forgotten the last words her father said to her seven years ago, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family's English country manor.

Haunted by her parents' deaths, Imogen moves to New York City with her new guardians. But when a letter arrives with the news of her cousin's untimely death, revealing that Imogen is now the only heir left to run the estate, she returns to England and warily accepts her role as duchess.

All is not as it seems at Rockford, and Imogen quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind the mansion's aristocratic exterior, hinting that the spate of deaths in her family were no accident. And at the center of the mystery is Imogen herself--and Sebastian, the childhood friend she has secretly loved for years. Just what has Imogen walked into?

Combining a fresh twist on the classic REBECCA with a spine-tingling mystery and powerful romance, SUSPICION is an action-packed thrill ride.

My thoughts:

I just found out about this book yesterday while browsing Netgalley, and WOW!  It sounds amazing.  Fresh twist on Rebecca?  How about yes.  And it was pitched on Netgalley as a modern Downton Abbey.  Um, yes please.  I can't freakin' wait for this book!

Suspicion releases December 9, 2014.

What's your WoW pick?

~ Kaitlyn

Friday, August 8, 2014

Book Review: Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

A standalone companion book to the internationally bestselling Shiver Trilogy. 

Sinner follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 New York Times bestselling Shiver Trilogy. Everybody thinks they know Cole's story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole's darkest secret -- his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel's life. Can this sinner be saved?

Goodreads summary:

I was beyond thrilled when it was announced that Maggie Stiefvater had written a book about Cole and Isabel.  I can remember the exact moment I saw the news on my phone and started squealing out loud, much to the alarm of my family, haha.  Cole and Isabel were my favorite characters in the original trilogy, so to say I had big expectations is an understatement.  I'm so happy to say that Sinner was amazing!  Even better than the trilogy, in my opinion.  It's definitely my favorite of Maggie's books.

Sinner is a lot different from the first three books in that it's not so much focused on werewolves as it is on the characters of Cole and Isabel.  They are both such complex and broken characters.  I love that they both have tons of faults - just look at the title of the book, after all - but it's impossible to not love them anyway.  And of course, they are amazing as a couple too.  Cole and Isabel both fight a lot, have tons of issues to work through, and have dark pasts, but underneath it all they are deeply in love with each other.  It's a beautiful romance that's impossible to forget.

As I mentioned above, the plot doesn't focus much on the werewolf aspect.  It's touched upon briefly and comes into play during a few scenes, but this is really more of a contemporary novel.  It's about two broken people who are trying to find themselves, and in doing so find their way back to each other.  And as always, I'm still just astounded at the writing.  Maggie writes some of the most gorgeous prose ever.  I usually only highlight a few passages here and there when I read a book on my Kindle, but I was highlighting like crazy while reading Sinner!  There were so many profound quotes and amazing little lines and achingly beautiful descriptions.  It's a treat to read a book that is full of such detailed writing in every aspect - the setting, the characters, the storyline.  I loved it.

If you're a Maggie Stiefvater fan, there's no doubt in my mind that you're going to love this book.  It's perfect in every way, and I'm so happy that Cole and Isabel got their own story and their own happy ending.  Filled with lovely writing and irresistible characters, Sinner is one book you don't want to miss.

*I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thanks!

My rating:  5 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Friday, August 1, 2014

My Top 5 Books of July 2014

Umm, how is it August already?  Because I am so not ready for school to start in a couple weeks!  Thankfully, I still managed to squeeze in a small amount of reading this past month despite being gone at camp for a week.  Here are the books I read in July:

- Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini
- Nantucket Red by Leila Howland
- This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
- The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
- House of Ivy and Sorrow by Natalie Whipple
- The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
- Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout
- The Falconer by Elizabeth May
- Take Me On by Katie McGarry
- Death Sworn by Leah Cypess
- After the End by Amy Plum
- Deliverance by C. J. Redwine

Yikes, I seriously need to step up on my reading game!  My top five:

1. Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout.  I'm convinced that no matter what genre JLA chooses to write, it's gonna be awesome.  This book is different than what she usually writes; it's a contemporary thriller with a mystery twist.  I loved it!  Suspenseful, humorous, addictive, and everything that a JLA book should be.

2. Take Me On by Katie McGarry.  GAH.  She writes the BEST contemporary romances ever!  I love how she can take the most cliched romance storyline and spin it into this emotional story that will make you tear up.  And she writes some of the best book boyfriends ever. ;) West was so swoon-worthy and I loved him and Haley together!

3. Death Sworn by Leah Cypess.  This book wasn't even on my to-read list, I just grabbed it randomly at the library because I remembered skimming some bloggers' reviews of it.  Now I'm sooo glad that I did, because this fantasy book kept me turning the pages late into the night.  Creative and full of action.  Also, loved how the chemistry developed into a romance!  I had to make a concentrated effort not to squeal out loud at the adorableness of the growing romance between Illeni and her love interest, lol.  Loved it!

4. The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith.  Another fantastic contemporary author.  I always highly enjoy her books; they are this lovely mixture of thoughtful reflections on life, uniquely developed characters, sweet yet realistic romances, and touches of humor here and there.  This one was about long-distance relationships and if they can really work, and I adored it.  Such a fun read!

5. Deliverance by C. J. Redwine.  An awesome ending to a fantasy trilogy that I've loved.  I will say I preferred the other books in this series, though.  For some reason it took me longer to get through this one, I guess the pacing was a little slow and it didn't hold my attention the whole time.  But overall it's a solid ending to a series I'll always love.  Lots of action and amazing character development.  I can't wait to read what this author writes next!

What books have you read lately that you loved?

~ Kaitlyn