Monday, March 2, 2015

Dearest by Alethea Kontis [Review]

Dearest4.5 out of 5 Robots!

Dearest by Alethea Kontis

Series: The Woodcutter Sisters #3
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release: February 3, 2015
Hardcover:  288 Pages
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
My Copy: Purchased
Reviewer: Shannon

Book Summary:
In her third book about the delightful Woodcutter sisters, Alethea Kontis masterfully weaves "The Wild Swans," "The Goose Girl," and a few other fine-feathered fairy tales into a magical, romantic companion novel to Enchanted and Hero.

Readers met the Woodcutter sisters (named after the days of the week) in Enchanted and Hero. In this delightful third book, Alethea Kontis weaves together some fine-feathered fairy tales to focus on Friday Woodcutter, the kind and loving seamstress. When Friday stumbles upon seven sleeping brothers in her sister Sunday's palace, she takes one look at Tristan and knows he's her future. But the brothers are cursed to be swans by day. Can Friday's unique magic somehow break the spell?

(Courtesy of the Publisher)

Shannon's Thoughts:
Can I just say how much I liked this series?  I totally stumbled across it and was so happy I did.  If you like fairytale retellings, you will love this!  I can't say Dearest, the last book in series was my favorite (that would be Hero), but it was still a great book.

Here is what I liked:
**In general, I love how Kontis weaves so many familiar tales into her stories, but yet gives them life on their own.  The books have that whimsical fairytale dreaminess about them, but are also fully aware and surprisingly grounded.  I also really liked that each book is a companion novel to the others and focuses on a different Woodcutter sister.  

**I loved the stories that were included in this book: The Goose Girl, The Wild Swans, The Swan Princess.  I loved how these all fit together.

**I wasn't too sure how I felt about Tristan and Friday being destined for each other at first, but I loved the resolution to that.  I don't want to give anything away, but this is a perfect example of how these books read like a fairytale, but then become grounded and self aware.  You'll see what I mean when you read it.

**I love the Woodcutter family.  They all have fun personalities and quirks.  They love each other fiercely, but scrabble like a real family.  They are extremely loyal to each other, even when at odds.  But they are very fun characters.

**I also liked that this book took place on the same timeline as the second.  There was a lot going on so it was fun to see what was going on with everyone else.  (The first book takes place prior to the second and third).

Here is what I didn't like:
**Honestly, there wasn't much I didn't like!  I loved this series from start to finish.  As I said, the second book was my favorite, but I think this was my second favorite.  

Read this series!  I wish it was better known because it is very well done!

Other Books in the Series:
1. Enchanted
2. Hero
3. Dearest

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski [Joint Review]

The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy, #2)5 out of 5 Robots!

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #2
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release: March 3, 2015
Hardcover:  416 Pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
My Copy: Publisher
Reviewer: Julia and Shannon

Book Summary:
Book two of the dazzling Winner's Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

(Courtesy of the Publisher)

Julia and Shannon's Thoughts:
1. Sum up your feelings in a sentence or two.
Julia: Wow. This book gave me so much anxiety! It is intense and perfect, one of the best I tead all year. 
Shannon: I agree!  This book was giving me panic attacks.  Kestrel is in such a tight spot and you know that s**t is going to hit the fan eventually.  I basically wanted to read while covering my eyes.

2. How does this sequel compare to the first book?  Was there anything you liked better?  Anything you liked less? 
Julia: I think both books are brilliantly written. If you loved the first, you will love the second. I liked that it had me on pins and needles the entire time... I didn't like anything less.
Shannon: I think this one moves a little more slowly and intricately than the first and there is less of an emphasis on the romance between Arin and Kestrel. But I didn't like it any less than the first!  As I mentioned, having read the first book, I was kind of expecting the other shoe to drop at some point so it was much of an anxiety-ridden read for me.  It was definitely a darker read than the first as well.

3. Arin and Kestrel have a hard time coming together in this book.  How did you feel about it? 
Julia: I didn't mind because it made sense for the story. It made my heart pound out of my chest when they were together!! Nerves!! I hope they find each other in book three.
Shannon: Arin and Kestrel have almost insurmountable obstacles to overcome and it really shows.  Kestrel is in such a tight bind and barely able to stay one step ahead of the sadistic emperor.  I desperately want them to be together, but I very much appreciate that Rutkoski doesn't make it easy.

4. Besides Arin and Kestrel, who are your favorite characters?  What do you like about them? 
Julia: I am very intrigued by Verex, I want to get to know him better. I also loved Arin's surprising new friend. He is funny and sharp and offered a lot to Arin's storyline.
Shannon: Verex, the emperor's son,  is a definite new favorite of mine. Even though he seems like a push over, I think there is a lot more to him than meets his eye.  I want him to an amazing ally for Kestrel.  I really enjoyed their scenes together. 

5. Without spoilers, how do you feel about the ending? 
Julia:  I loved it!!!!!!!!!! Ahhhh!!!! Cliff hanger. 
Shannon: Dude.  Like another certain author (ahem *Maas* ahem), after reading the first book's ending, I had a feeling that the ending was going to be a killer.  I did NOT see this ending coming through.  Holy.  

6. How many stars would you give this book?  Who would you recommend it to? Julia: Five stars. Anyone who enjoys young adult has to love these books!
Shannon: Five stars!  I think Maas fans would also really enjoy these books.  They remind me of each other:  blooming out of a romance-y fantasy into a full blown complicated plot complete with treason, murder, betrayal and secrets upon secrets.  

Books in the series:
1. Winner's Curse
2. Winner's Crime
3. Untitled #3 (publication unknown) 

Disclosure:  I reviewed a copy free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Shannon's February Reading Challenge Wrap-up

Goodreads challenge: 25/200

I only read 10 books this month.  One, it is a short month and two, I've been so busy!

My goal is to read 15+ series enders and reach Level 4.  I will update here as I read them.

None this month!


This year Novel Heartbeat is co-hosting with Writer Grrrl Reads and they are assigning a point system based on whether you read a novella, a sequel or finish a whole series.  Here are some sequels I am hoping to get to this year.  I will update too as I discover new series or decide not to finish a series.

Two this month!

The Sweetest Dark Trilogy by Shana Abe - Untitled (#3)
Arkwell Academy Series by Mindee Arnett - Nightmare Charade (#3)
The Midnight Thief Series by Livia Blackburne -  Daughter of Dusk (#2)
Goddess War Series by Kendare Blake - Ungodly (#2)
Prisoner of Night and Fog series by Anne Blankman -  Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke (#2)
Born of Illusion Series by Teri Brown -  Born of Deception (#2)
Dualed Series by Elsie Chapman -  Divided (#2)
Nightshade Prequels by Andrea Cremer -  Rift (#1), Rise (#2)
Breath Series by Sarah Crossan - Resist (#2)
Death Sworn Series by Leah Cypress -  Death Marked (#2)
The Clann Series by Melissa Darnell -  Covet (#2), Consume (#3)
The Dark Divine Series by Bree Despain -  Lost Saint (#2), Savage Grace (#3)
The Chemical Garden by Lauren DeStephano -  Wither (#2), Sever (#3)
MILA 2.0 Series by Debra Driza - Renegade (#2)
Penryn and the End of Days Series by Susan Ee -  End of Days (#3)
Dark Star Series by Bethany Frenette - Firefall (#3)
To All the Boys I've Loved Before Series by Jenny Han -  PS I Still Love You (#2)
Seraphina Series by Rachel Hartman -  Shadowscale (#2)
Magic Most Foul Series by Leanna Hieber - The Twisted Tragedy of Natalie Stewart (#2), The Double Life of Incorporate Things (#3)
Uninvited Series by Sophie Jordan -  Unleashed (#2) 
The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten by Julie Kagawa - The Forgotten Crown (#3)
Talon Series by Julie Kagawa - Rogue (#2)
The Starbound Series by Amy Kaufman: JAN: This Shattered World (#2), Untitled (#3)
Enchanted Series by Alethea Kontis: JAN: Hero (#2)
In the After Series by Demitria Lunetta - In the End (#2)
Throne of Glass Series by Sarah Maas - Untitled (#4)
Not a Drop to Drink series by Mindy McGinnis -  In a Handful of Dust (#2)
Dont Get Mad series by Gretchen McNeil - Get Dirty (#2)
Arclight Series by Josin McQuein - Meridian (#2)
Age of X by Richelle Mead - Immortal Crown (#2)
Lunar Chronicles Series by Melissa Meyer - FEB: Fairest (#0.5)Winter (#4)
Ruined Series by Paula Morris - Unbroken (#2)
Starglass Series by Phoebe North - Starbreak (#2)
The Dragon King Series by Ellen Oh - Warrior (#2), King (#3)
Snow Like Ashes Series by Sarah Raasch - Ice Like Fire (#2)
The Bone Season Series by Samatha Shannon - Mime Order (#2)
The Mad Man's Daughter Series by Megan Shephard - FEB: Her Dark Curiosity (#2), A Cold Legacy (#3)
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater - Untitled (#4)
Reboot Series by Amy Tintera - Rebel (#2)
The Elemental Trilogy by Sherry Thomas - Untitled (#3)
The 5th Wave Series by Rick Yancy - Untitled (#3)
The Program Series by Suzanne Young - The Treatment (#2)
Bookish is running a TBR Pile Challenge to help clear out your pre-2015 books.  As you can see, I have a lot of books in my possession!  I won't get through all of these, but I'd like to make the highest level at least:
1-10 A Firm Handshake
11-20 A Friendly Hug
21-30 First Kiss
31-40 Sweet Summer Fling
41-50 Could This Be Love?
50+ Married with Children

Out of the 10 books I read, 7 of them were review books!  Not too shabby! (New reviews are in blue)

  1. The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfarer by MG Buehrlen 
  2. After the End by Amy Plum
  3. Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes
  4. Another Little Piece by Kate Quinn
  5. Arclight by Josin McQuein
  6. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
  7. The Bees by Laline Paul
  8. Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
  9. Between Two Thorns by Emily Newman
  10. Between Two Worlds by Katherine Kirkpatrick (REVIEW HERE)
  11. Beware the Wild by Natalie Parker
  12. Blackbird by Anna Carey
  13. Blackbird by Chuck Wendig
  14. Blacksad by Jose Canales
  15. The Body Electric by Beth Revis
  16. Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler
  17. Born of Deception by Teri Brown
  18. Born of Illusion by Teri Brown
  19. Breath by Sarah Crossan
  20. Carnival of Soul by Melissa Marr
  21. Clariel by Garth Nix
  22. Cold Legacy by Megan Shephard
  23. Constable and Toop by Gareth Jones
  24. Consume by Melissa Darnell
  25. Cormorant by Chuck Wendig
  26. Corpse-Rat King by Lee Battersby
  27. Covet by Melissa Darnell
  28. Crash and Burn by Michael Hassan
  29. Crave by Melissa Darnell
  30. Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey
  31. Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas
  32. Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott
  33. Dark Divine by Bree Despain
  34. Darker Still by Leanna Hieber
  35. Death Sworn by Leah Cypress
  36. Dissonance by Erika O'Rouke
  37. Divided by Elsie Chapman 
  38. Dodger by Terry Pratchett
  39. Don't Touch by Rachel Wilson
  40. Don't You Forget of Me by Kate Quinn
  41. Double Life of Incorporate Things by Leanna Hieber
  42. Dualed by Elsie Chapman
  43. Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire
  44. Elemental: The First by Alexandra May
  45. Enna Burning by Shannon Hale
  46. Entwined by Heather Dixon
  47. Even in Paradise by Chelsea Philpot
  48. Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  49. Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
  50. Fairy Tales from the Brother Grimm by Philip Pullman
  51. Faking It by Cara Carmack
  52. Faking Normal by Courtney Stevens (REVIEW HERE)
  53. The Falconer by Elizabeth May
  54. Falling into Place by Amy Zhang
  55. Fan Art by Sarah Tregay
  56. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  57. Fever by Lauren DeStephano
  58. Finding it by Cara Carmack
  59. Frostbite by Richelle Mead
  60. Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead 
  61. Garden of Stones by Sophie Littlefield
  62. Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori Lee
  63. Get Even by Gretchen McNeil
  64. Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
  65. Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
  66. Grasping at Eternity by Karen Amanda Hooper
  67. Green Rider by Kristen Britain
  68. Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno
  69. Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey
  70. Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shephard (REVIEW HERE)
  71. History of the World in 12 Maps by Jerry Brotton
  72. House of Ivy and Sorrow by Natalie Whipple 
  73. How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky by Lydia Netzger 
  74. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
  75. If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
  76. Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
  77. Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead
  78. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larsen
  79. In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis
  80. In the After by Demitiria Lunetta
  81. In the End by Demitiria Lunetta
  82. In the Woods by Tana French
  83. The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle
  84. Intangible by J. Meyer
  85. Into the Dark by Bree Despain
  86. Jewel of the Thames by Angela Misiri
  87. Kill Kiss Vanish by Jessica Martinez 
  88. Kingdom of Rarities by Eric Dinerstein 
  89. Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke
  90. Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier
  91. Let's Get Lost by Ali Alsaid 
  92. Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker
  93. Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
  94. Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu
  95. Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman
  96. Lost Saint by Bree Despain
  97. Madman's Daughter by Megan Shephard (REVIEW HERE)
  98. Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke
  99. Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch
  100. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
  101. Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor (REVIEW HERE)
  102. Meridian by Josin McQuein
  103. MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza
  104. Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig
  105. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  106. Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
  107. More Than This by Patrick Ness
  108. Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman
  109. A New Darkness by Joseph Delancy
  110. Night School by CJ Daugherty
  111. Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
  112. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  113. The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon
  114. One Past Midnight by Jessica Shirvington 
  115. The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin
  116. Orphange of Miracles by Amy Neftzger
  117. Parallel by Lauren Miller
  118. Past Perfect by Leila Sales (REVIEW HERE)
  119. Paw and Order by Spencer Quinn
  120. Pretties by Scott Westerfield
  121. Pretty Girl 13 by Liz Coley
  122. Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay (REVIEW HERE)
  123. Prophecy by Ellen Oh
  124. Rebel by Amy Tintera
  125. Reboot by Amy Tintera
  126. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (REVIEW HERE)
  127. Renegade by Debra Driza
  128. Resist by Sarah Crossan
  129. Revived by Cat Patrick
  130. Rift by Andrea Cremer
  131. Right of Way by Lauren Barnholdt
  132. Rise by Andrea Cremer
  133. Ruined by Paula Morris
  134. Salvage by Alexandra Duncan
  135. Saving Lucas Briggs by Maria de los Santos
  136. Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong
  137. The Secret Ingredient by Stewart Lewis
  138. The Secrets of Lily Grave by Sarah Strohmeyer (REVIEW HERE) 
  139. The Secrets of Tree Taylor by Dandi Daely Mackall
  140. Sever by Lauren DeStephano 
  141. Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead
  142. Shakespeare on Toast by Ben Crystal
  143. Ship of Brides by Jojo Meyers
  144. Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James (REVIEW HERE)
  145. Sleep No More by Aprilynne Pike
  146. Snakeroot by Andrea Cremer
  147. Speechless by Hannah Harrington
  148. Starbreak by Phoebe North
  149. Starglass by Phoebe North
  150. Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
  151. Struck by Jennifer Bosworth 
  152. Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand
  153. Survive by Alex Morel
  154. Templeton Twins Have an Idea by Ellis Weiner
  155. The Templeton Twins Make a Scene by Ellis Weiner
  156. Ten by Gretchen McNeil
  157. Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor 
  158. A Thousand Perfect Things by Kay Kenyon
  159. Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
  160. The Tower, the Zoo and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart
  161. Transparent by Natalie Whipple 
  162. The Treatment by Suzanne Young
  163. Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
  164. The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart by Leanna Hieber
  165. The Trouble with Flirting by Claire LeZebnick
  166. Uglies by Scott Westerfield
  167. Unbroken by Paula Morris
  168. Under the Empyrean Sky by Chuck Wendig
  169. Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin
  170. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
  171. Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson
  172. Wait for Me by Elizabeth Naughton
  173. The Ward by Jordana Frankel 
  174. Warrior by Ellen Oh
  175. The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian
  176. Wild by Alex Mallory
  177. The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
  178. The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
  179. The Winterling by Sarah Prineas
  180. Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb
  181. Wither by Lauren DeStephano
  182. Woodcutter by Kate Danley
  183. You Had Me at Hello by Mahairi McFarlane
  184. You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle

Popsugar Reading Challenge:
This has been making the rounds and thought it sounded so fun. Some of these will definitely push me out of my comfort zone.  Plus, I love Popsugar! (Especially their subscription boxes!!  Check them out here!)

Since this was the first month, I was pretty easily able to pick off the low hanging fruit and cross off 14 from the list.  It is going to be trickier going forward.
  • Book with more than 500 pages Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley (527 pages)
  • A classic romance Enchanted by Althea Kontis (Fairytales are classic romances, right?)
  • A book that became a movie
  • A book published this year Fairest by Marissa Meyers
  • A book with a number in the title
  • A book written by someone under 30 Past Perfect by Leila Sales (she was 27 at the time she wrote it
  • A book with nonhuman characters The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd
  • A funny book
  • A book written by a female author A Thousand Perfect Things by Kay Kenyon
  • A mystery or thriller Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas
  • A book with a one word title Hero by Althea Kontis
  • A book of short stories My True Love Gave to Me
  • A book set in a different country
  • A nonfiction book
  • A popular author's first book
  • A book from an author you love but haven't read yet
  • A book a friend recommended
  • A Pulitzer Prize winner
  • A book based on a true story Between Two Worlds by Karen Kirkpartrick
  • A book at the bottom to your to read list 
  • A book your mom loves
  • A book that scares you
  • A book that is more than 100 years old
  • A book based entirely on its cover A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
  • A book you were supposed to read in high school but didn't
  • A memoir As You Wish by Cary Elwes
  • A book you can finish in one day
  • A book with antonyms in the title
  • A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit
  • A book that came out the year you were born
  • A book with bad reviews
  • A trilogy
  • A book from your childhood
  • A book with a love triangle
  • A book set in the future This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meaghan Spooner
  • A book set in high school Faking Normal by Courtney Stevens
  • A book with a color in the title The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
  • A book that made you cry
  • A book with magic Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  • A graphic novel
  • A book by an author you've never read before All Fall Down by Ally Carter
  • A book you own, but never read
  • A book that takes place in your hometown
  • A book originally written in a different language
  • A book set during Christmas
  • A book written by an author with your same initials
  • A play
  • A banned book
  • A book based on or turned into a TV show
  • A book you started by never finished




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