Book Reviews

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones | Book Review

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones.

My copy: Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin’s Griffin), February 2017. Hardcover, 436 pages.

Source: Library.

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Synopsis:

Dark, romantic, and unforgettable, Wintersong is an enchanting coming-of-age story for fans of Labyrinth and The Beauty and the Beast.

The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride…

All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.

But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds—and the mysterious man who rules it—she soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

Rich with music and magic, S. Jae-Jones’s Wintersong will sweep you away into a world you won’t soon forget.


Liesl, a gifted composer, has always lived in the shadow of her younger siblings. Her brother, Josef, is a violin virtuoso. Her sister, Kathe, is an absolute beauty. However, the three siblings all care deeply about one another, and when Kathe is captured by the Goblin King, Liesl embarks on a journey to bring her sister back to the world of the living.

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Book Reviews

Scorched by Jennifer L. Armentrout | Mini Review

Scorched by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Frigid, #2.

My copy: Spencer Hill Press, June 2015. Paperback, 238 pages.

Source: Library.

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Read my review of Frigid, book #1, here.

Synopsis:

Sometimes life leaves a mark.

Most days, Andrea doesn’t know whether she wants to kiss Tanner or punch him in the gut. He is seriously hot, with legit bedroom eyes and that firefighter body of his, but he’s a major player, and they can’t get along for more than a handful of minutes. Until now.

Tanner knows he and Andrea have had an epic love/hate relationship for as long as he can remember, but he wants more love than hate from her. He wants her. Now. Tomorrow. But the more he gets to know her, the more it becomes obvious that Andrea has a problem. She’s teetering on the edge, and every time he tries to catch her, she slips through his fingers.

Andrea’s life is spiraling out of control, and it doesn’t matter that Tanner wants to save her, because when everything falls apart and she’s speeding toward rock bottom, only she can save herself.

Sometimes life makes you work for that happily ever after…


Andrea and Tanner… these two are exhausting. Super entertaining, but so very tiring. Hot-cold, hot-cold… but it was interesting to read a romance where the characters annoyed the hell out of each other, played hard to get, and basically made it IMPOSSIBLE for the other person to know what the heck was going on. Jennifer L. Armentrout knows how to write romance well, and I love how she always adds something else in there that gives the characters real reasons for their crazy antics or that required “why we can’t be together/poor communication” phase.

Scorched in a companion to Frigid, which featured Sydney and Kyler. I liked Frigid more than Scorched, but I ate Scorched up in one sitting, as I do for all of JLA’s books. It’s fast-paced, sexy, but also down to earth and really touching. If you like New Adult romances and you haven’t read any JLA (or J. Lynn, as she sometimes goes by), give these books a shot. I like JLA’s books because they have real meat to them, usually due to the characters, and I’ve tried other NA books that never left a lasting impression. Scorched is definitely hot, so keep a little hand fan nearby for when the tension heightens. ♦


Have you read Scorched?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What’s a fun romance you read in one sitting?
Comment below letting me know!

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Book Reviews

One by Sarah Crossan & Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen | Mini Reviews

One by Sarah Crossan.

My copy: Greenwillow Books (Harper Collins Publishers), September 2015. Hardcover, 388 pages.

Source: Library.

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Synopsis:

Grace and Tippi. Tippi and Grace. Two sisters. Two hearts. Two dreams. Two lives. But one body.

Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins, joined at the waist, defying the odds of survival for sixteen years. They share everything, and they are everything to each other. They would never imagine being apart. For them, that would be the real tragedy.

But something is happening to them. Something they hoped would never happen. And Grace doesn’t want to admit it. Not even to Tippi.

How long can they hide from the truth—how long before they must face the most impossible choice of their lives?


Conjoined twins. Sisters Grace and Tippi. Them joining the harsh waters of high school. Falling in love for the first time. These are just the broad topics One touches on. This is a beautiful verse novel about family, friends, and feeling like the world is out to get you because you’re different.

It took me a little while to get into the book’s rhythm, as the poems at first felt sort of plain, as if a paragraph had been written and then the enter button had been hit at the best moments. But once I started to like Grace and Tippi and feel invested in their story, I was a goner and couldn’t read fast enough.

The story is quite predictable, which does make the ending expected but it doesn’t hurt any less. But One is a beautiful, unique, well-researched book that I highly recommend to anyone. I’m so glad I finally read it. It’s memorable and relatable, and I really really enjoyed experiencing Grace and Tippi’s story. ♦


Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen.

My copy: Philomel Books (Penguin Group), June 2015. Hardcover, 341 pages.

Source: Library.

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Synopsis:

A heartrending, bold novel in verse about family, identity, and forgiveness

Mira is just beginning her senior year of high school when she discovers her father with his male lover. Her world–and everything she thought she knew about her family–is shattered instantly. Unable to comprehend the lies, betrayal, and secrets that–unbeknownst to Mira–have come to define and keep intact her family’s existence, Mira distances herself from her sister and closest friends as a means of coping. But her father’s sexual orientation isn’t all he’s kept hidden. A shocking health scare brings to light his battle with HIV. As Mira struggles to make sense of the many fractures in her family’s fabric and redefine her wavering sense of self, she must find a way to reconnect with her dad–while there is still time.
Told in raw, exposed free verse, Skyscraping reminds us that there is no one way to be a family.


I was perusing the shelves at my library when the title caught my eye: Skyscraping. So I picked it up and flipped it open — and was excited to see it was a verse novel, a book told in free verse poetry! Skyscraping ended up being a terrific read I took a chance on, having never heard of it before — and because I rarely read blurbs, let’s be real here, I go into 95% of the books I read blind. Skyscraping is a hidden gem, a gorgeous but sad story about a girl growing up in New York City whose father falls ill with AIDS.

I loved how relatable Mira was. I grew up in New York City, and it wasn’t too long ago that I was also applying to colleges and not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. What a really loved about this book was its excellent and realistic portrayals of relationships, and how you can love someone but you don’t always show it or think they show it. Skyscraping is a memorable book that I totally recommend if you can handle the emotions that are sure to eat away at you. ♦


Have you read One?
How about Skyscraping?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What is a good verse novel you’ve read?
Comment below letting me know!

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Book Reviews

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte | Mini Review

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

My copy: Originally published 1847. Daily Lit, 194 email installments. (The book cover used in this review does not reflect the copy I read.)

Source: Daily Lit.

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Synopsis:

Charlotte Brontë’s most beloved novel describes the passionate love between the courageous orphan Jane Eyre and the brilliant, brooding, and domineering Rochester.

The loneliness and cruelty of Jane’s childhood strengthens her natural independence and spirit, which prove invaluable when she takes a position as a governess at Thornfield Hall. But after she falls in love with her sardonic employer, her discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a heart-wrenching choice. Ever since its publication in 1847, Jane Eyre has enthralled every kind of reader, from the most critical and cultivated to the youngest and most unabashedly romantic. It lives as one of the great triumphs of storytelling and as a moving and unforgettable portrayal of a woman’s quest for self-respect.


Thoughts on Jane Eyre:

  • I went into Jane Eyre having seen the film adaptation, but I enjoyed the original story much more. I was especially struck by the incredible descriptions and vocabulary, and how beautiful and vivid the writing was.
  • Since this story is the full account of Jane’s life, there are parts where the story is not so much a story as it is, well, her day to day activities. While there are extremely slow and boring sections, the gorgeous writing made me continue reading. I barely even skimmed because I didn’t want to miss Charlotte Bronte’s flowery prose. And I normally don’t like flowery writing, but this was an exception.
  • As a heroine, Jane will not go on my list of favorite literary characters, but she was never boring. She was smart but quiet, and a strong woman in a socially acceptable way for that time period. She gets her happy ending, which is terrific for her, but it does feel very predictable and too perfect.
  • Mr. Rochester… I liked him, but I didn’t love him. At first I thought, This man talks A LOT, but he warmed up to me, just like he warmed up to Jane. It was difficult at first to see why Jane liked him and why he liked Jane, but they had a great rapport and balanced each other’s stark personalities well.
  • My least favorite thing about this book? The horrid excuse for a human being Mrs. Reed is. I utterly loathe adults who accuse and judge others so unfairly and with such malice.
  • I heartily enjoyed Jane Eyre. These days it’s rare for me to find a classic I really absorb and read almost word for word. ♦


Have you read Jane Eyre?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What’s a book you read that had the most gorgeous writing?
Comment below letting me know!

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Book Reviews

The Hidden Oracle and The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan | Mini Reviews

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan. The Trials of Apollo, #1.

My copy: Disney Hyperion, May 2016. Hardcover, 361 pages.

Source: Library.

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Synopsis:

How do you punish an immortal?

By making him human.

After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus’s favour.

But Apollo has many enemies—gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go… an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.


Thoughts on The Hidden Oracle:

  • We get an Apollo haiku every chapter. I can die happy, because Apollo haikus are so atrocious they’re brilliant.
  • Apollo is hilarious. He’s a mighty god stuck in the form of a flabby, pimply teenage boy. The stuff he spews out of his mouth is gold sometimes. He’s so gloriously full of himself, but not in a “want to smack you upside the head” kind of way.
  • I wish that Meg was a little bit older, 12 seemed kind of young, but she was a trip.
  • I loved all the references to characters and past events from Rick’s other two Greek and Roman series. Also there was a sweet reference to the Magnus Chase series.
  • I couldn’t keep up with all the Camp Half-Blood campers. Everyone had a name but I never really felt that attached to the minor characters when something happened, because there were just too many. (Also, how is everyone not dead?)
  • I appreciate the diversity in Rick’s books. People of all backgrounds are represented, and even Apollo is bisexual!
  • The story is still formulaic as ever, but it works, and I love seeing how Rick incorporates myths and gods he hasn’t written about yet.
  • But really, Camp Half-Blood seems to be located in the worst possible place EVER.
  • The return of Percy! I like how Percy is in The Trials of Apollo and Annabeth is in Magnus Chase.
  • Will + Nico = ❤
  • PEACHES! ♦


The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #2.

My copy: Disney Hyperion, October 2016. Hardcover, 459 pages.

Source: Library.

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Read my review of The Sword of Summer, book #1, here.

Synopsis:

Thor’s hammer is missing again. The thunder god has a disturbing habit of misplacing his weapon–the mightiest force in the Nine Worlds. But this time the hammer isn’t just lost, it has fallen into enemy hands. If Magnus Chase and his friends can’t retrieve the hammer quickly, the mortal worlds will be defenseless against an onslaught of giants. Ragnarok will begin. The Nine Worlds will burn. Unfortunately, the only person who can broker a deal for the hammer’s return is the gods’ worst enemy, Loki–and the price he wants is very high.


Thoughts on The Hammer of Thor:

  • Ah, I love how convoluted Norse mythology is. (I mean, all mythology is pretty convoluted, but Norse mythology can be pretty complicated.) It felt good to be back.
  • Jack the sword killed me. Talking weapons are my new favorite thing.
  • Hooray for more diversity! Not only do we have persons of color, but also an elf who is deaf, and Alex the gender-fluid child of Loki. The crew is pretty awesome.
  • Book 2 was kind of a chore at times. There was so just much side-tracking. I know this is Rick’s formula for quests and stuff (“we have to go to A to pick up this thing B needs in order to tell us how to get to C but our ultimate goal is like G”), but at times it did get pretty ridiculous.
  • The pop culture references are very funny, but in the future this book will be very dated.
  • Sam is one strong gal. Total bad-ass, but also very vulnerable. Respect. ♦


Have you read The Hidden Oracle?
How about The Hammer of Thor?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What’s a world mythology you’d love to read a new series about?
Comment below letting me know!

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Book Reviews

Teddy & Co. by Cynthia Voigt | Book Review

Teddy & Co. by Cynthia Voigt, illustrations by Paola Zakimi.

My copy: Knopf Books for Young Readers, November 2016. ARC (review copy), 179 pages.

Source: Courtesy of my local bookstore.

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Synopsis:

Teddy is a thinking kind of bear. Of all his friends, he does the most wondering. He lives with a ragtag group of lost toys—a very hungry snake, an elephant who likes to bake, two charmingly silly pigs, and a reclusive penguin—and they all bump along happily together. But their peaceful world gets shaken up when new toys arrive—first a rabbit, who is not as soft and floppy as he looks, and then a beautiful doll with royal ambitions. Will the newcomers learn to fit into the community? Or will the community be forever changed by them? As Teddy the philosopher would answer: Yes.


Teddy is a stuffed bear without legs whose mode of transportation is a red wagon his elephant friend pulls around. Hooray for the representation of disabled characters in books for young people.

This book is a cute little tale about a bunch of toys and their day to day adventures when two new toys show up unexpectedly: a douche-y rabbit and a bratty doll who decides she’s going to be Queen of everything.

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Book Reviews

Zodiac by Sam Wilson | Book Review

Zodiac by Sam Wilson.

My copy: Pegasus Crime, February 7th, 2017. ARC (review copy), 446 pages.

Source: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Pegasus Books!

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Synopsis:

A starting new thriller with one of the most original concepts in years, where the line between a life of luxury and an existence of poverty can be determined by the stroke of midnight.

In San Celeste, a series of uniquely brutal murders targets victims from totally different walks of life. In a society divided according to Zodiac signs, those differences are cast at birth and binding for life. All eyes are on detective Jerome Burton and astrological profiler Lindi Childs—divided in their beliefs over whether the answer is written in the stars, but united in their conviction that there is an ingenious serial killer executing a grand plan.

Together, they will unravel a dark tale of betrayal, lost love, broken promises and a devastating truth with the power to tear their world apart…


I haven’t read a good thriller in a while. I forgot how much I enjoy the tension, action, and fast pace. Zodiac sometimes meanders, but everything is there for a reason. The chapters are short and snappy, and the information given is all fascinating. It’s a mind game to find a murderer, and while the victims seem pretty random at first — they couldn’t be more darkly connected.

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Book Reviews

Splintered by A.G. Howard | Book Review

Splintered by A.G. Howard. Splintered, #1.

My copy: Amulet Books (ABRAMS), January 2013. Hardcover, 371 pages.

Source: Library.

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Synopsis:

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence.

Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.


Thoughts on Splintered:

Pros:

How deliciously fantastical and twisted Wonderland is. It’s everything we all love about Lewis Carroll’s colorful world plus more. Lots more. It’s mad and overwhelming and always exciting.

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Book Reviews

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley | Mini-Review

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

My copy: Daily Lit email installments.

Source: Daily Lit.

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Synopsis:

Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only eighteen. At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.

Frankenstein, an instant bestseller and an important ancestor of both the horror and science fiction genres, not only tells a terrifying story, but also raises profound, disturbing questions about the very nature of life and the place of humankind within the cosmos: What does it mean to be human? What responsibilities do we have to each other? How far can we go in tampering with Nature? In our age, filled with news of organ donation genetic engineering, and bio-terrorism, these questions are more relevant than ever.


Thoughts on Frankenstein:

I’ll admit, it took me a bit to start liking this story, but once the monster was animated, I started to enjoy it. The monster’s experiences and questions about life and living were fascinating to read about, and the themes about responsibility, dangerous knowledge, and power of creation were prevalent throughout.

I’ll admit, I skimmed from time to time, especially toward the last third of the book. (I was just trying to finish it because I’d been reading it without much forward momentum for so long.) But it was not hard to read at all, like some classics can be. The structure was a little all-over-the-place with prose and letters mixed together, and I was hardly scared by this “gothic horror” novel.

I never really felt for any of the characters, although I was very moved by the monster’s beautiful and eloquent speech. His story about observing a family and interacting with them was heartbreaking. Often when I read classics, there is a single scene or a few scenes that really grip me and make me appreciate the writing that has stood the test of time. That was the part of Frankenstein I really liked and will remember. ♦


Have you read Frankenstein?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What’s the last classic you read?
Comment below letting me know!

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Book Reviews

Let the Wind Rise by Shannon Messenger | Book Review

Let the Wind Rise by Shannon Messenger. Let the Sky Fall, #3.

My copy: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division), April 2016. Hardcover, 407 pages.

Source: Library.

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Read my review of Let the Sky Fall, book #1, here.
Read my review of Let the Storm Break, book #2, here.

Synopsis:

The breathtaking action and whirlwind adventure build to a climax in this thrilling conclusion to the “remarkably unpredictable” (BCCB) Sky Fall trilogy from the bestselling author of the Keeper of the Lost Cities series.

Vane Weston is ready for battle. Against Raiden’s army. Against the slowly corrupting Gale Force. Even against his own peaceful nature as a Westerly. He’ll do whatever it takes, including storming Raiden’s icy fortress with the three people he trusts the least. Anything to bring Audra home safely.

But Audra won’t wait for someone to rescue her. She has Gus—the guardian she was captured with. And she has a strange “guide” left behind by the one prisoner who managed to escape Raiden. The wind is also rising to her side, rallying against their common enemy. When the forces align, Audra makes her play—but Raiden is ready.

Freedom has never held such an impossible price, and both groups know the sacrifices will be great. But Vane and Audra started this fight together. They’ll end it the same way.


Let the Wind Rise is the fight to free Audra and Gus. It is the final showdown between our (mostly) good guys and the evil (slightly cardboard-y) villain Raiden. It’s a whirlwind (har har) of activity, so the pace is breakneck. I wasn’t blown away (har har har) by the conclusion to this underrated fantasy trilogy, but it was still very good and easy to jump right into despite not having read the previous books in a while.

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