Book Review: Before Beauty

BEFORE BEAUTY

Title: Before Beauty (First Book in the Trilogy)

Author: Brittany Fichter

Blurb: Prince Everard’s father spent the boy’s youth forging the prince into a warrior. Upon the king’s death, however, Everard realizes he’s lost himself somewhere along the way, and in his pain, makes a decision that brings a dark curse upon both him and the great Fortress that has so long guarded the people of Destin.

The prince’s sin doesn’t simply affect those of his citadel, however. Isa, the daughter of a local merchant, has suffered the prince’s hasty temper before, and it changed her life forever. When Everard’s final outburst cuts off his people’s source of protection with the curse, he demands that she, a crippled commoner, come to help him break it. All the while, Destin’s northern enemy crouches at the foot of the Fortress’s mountain, waiting for the right moment to capture the stronghold that has stood for a thousand years.

Can Ever and Isa move past their brokenness to save Destin together, or will they and their beloved kingdom remain under darkness forever?

Brittany FichterReview:

If retellings are your thing, then check Brittany Fichter out asap. She’s quickly becoming a QUEEN of retellings. Prolific is not enough to describe her. Look below for a few more titles in her Classical Kingdom Series.

Before Beauty–her Beauty and the Beast retelling–is one of the most beautiful and unique spin-offs of this classical fairytale that I have read in a long time. There is very little “this has been done before” and the transformation of both characters unfolds in a compelling and fresh way.

Characters/Voice: Prince Everard and Isa each have unique voices, back story, personality and roles in this story. Each are unique and relatable and I loved them right away. Isa, who is disabled, brings vulnerability, transparency, and un-dealt with anger to the table that is completely identifiable, while Everard, who must conquer who he truly is–the boy he was designed to be or the boy his father wants him to be –brings reflection, sympathy, and agony as you watch his growth. So good!

Pacing: Does this book keep you up late at night? YES. Don’t read at night unless you want to get caught up in their story, their romance, their battles, their enemies, and their future. The story moves at a perfect pace, increasing with each chapter. I really believe it moves so quickly because it touches on so many deep and real human emotions.

Plot: Perfectly executed and unique. The idea of the “Fortress” and the raging mind battles between Prince Everard and his enemy are a fresh kind of power-set and makes for an interesting setting. Why Isa is the one to be selected, not to mention their past encounters coming in the present time, makes for a complex plot with large pay-offs. I was entirely satisfied and wanted more.

Setting: Fichter’s world building for Destin and the surrounding kingdoms were all well done. The land was easily pictured and likable. The history of Destin was easily understood and believable, which makes it easy to follow the story and its motives.

Themes: This story spins all kinds of universal truths of goodness, humility, faith, hope, strength, identity, and more. I love how it’s all weaved together in the characters. It’s also appropriate for all MG/YA ages and can be a great alternative to other retellings that  have adult content or an upper YA/NA feel.

Brittany Fichter obviously has a gift and passion for retellings. I look forward to checking out the rest in her series! Check out titles below.

 

20155831_10154895468167865_2866653208032020858_n

Nova, signing off.

 

Advertisements

Book Review: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo

Title: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo51SrZbzYagL._SY346_.jpg

Author: F.C. Yee

Blurb: The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie’s every waking thought. But when she discovers she’s a celestial spirit who’s powerful enough to bash through the gates of heaven with her fists, her perfectionist existence is shattered.

Enter Quentin, a transfer student from China whose tone-deaf assertiveness beguiles Genie to the brink of madness. Quentin nurtures Genie’s outrageous transformation—sometimes gently, sometimes aggressively—as her sleepy suburb in the Bay Area comes under siege from hell-spawn. Continue reading

Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

When Dimple Met Rishi

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi

Author:  Sandhya Menon

Blurb:  Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

Review:

I was super excited to pick up When Dimple Met Rishi because a) I’m a second generation American who grew up in a house of two cultures; b) I’m a devourer of languages and culture besides my own (Bollywood fan here); c) I adore own voices books that represent my wide ranging diverse friends; d) I’m a sucker for slow-burning, friendship building, love stories. This story brings all of those out in a sweet, contemporary, American, fun setting, kind of way.

On plot: The book starts out with a simple premise, and we all kind of know what is coming, but Menon does a great job at sucking us into their story. There is not a ton of conflict but we still find ourselves getting attached to her characters.

On character: First Dimple. She is a strong girl with her own opinions and dreams and plans. We sympathize with her right away when her parents plan this outrageously hidden agenda for her first ever independence from her parents at a dream summer program. We want her to be the one to make her own choices, especially about love and school. (And I LOVE her name–it makes me laugh.)

Second Rishi. He was a breath of fresh air for me. He was not the typical YA boy who acted cool or knew what to say. Actually, he was the opposite, which made him feel so real. He didn’t always know what to say, but was kind-hearted and genuinely cared for people, his parents, and Dimple. And since he cares so darn much, we like him instantly!

On VOICE & DUAL POV: Lately, I have really loved DUAL POV books. Done right, they can build even more tension and sympathy, and Menon does this well. I enjoyed both Rishi and Dimples voices and narratives and felt they were both unique and relatable.

On Themes: I enjoyed learning about different cultures and traditions, the topic of arranged marriage in America, and pursuing risky dreams (Rishi and his graphic novels).

On pace: It wasn’t a fast page turning novel for me, but I didn’t feel it needed to be for the story being told. It was building friendship, slowly but surely. And then the end came perfectly together.

So, if you are looking for an adorably chill, end-of-the-summer contemporary read, snatch it up.

author-nova-mcbee

Nova, signing off.

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

Pen Friends ~ Summer is not OVER yet. We still have more books to read and review for our Summer Reading Challenge  & Summer Writing Challenge – So send us your reviews of any books you love or find helpful for craft.

Thanks to Dawn Shipman for her review below!

Unknown-11.jpeg

Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses series

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Blurb: When 19-year-old Feyre, the sole provider for her poverty-stricken family, ventures into the bleak, ice-cold forest to hunt, a giant wolf stands between her and her prey. She knows the stories of the Fae who are rumored to haunt the forest and can sometimes take on other forms…but her family is starving. She kills the wolf and sets in motion the plot for this three-book series. For her crime of killing the wolf, who was, indeed, a disguised Fairy, Feyre’s life is forfeit. She can allow herself to be torn to shreds by the beast who appears to enforce the law, or be dragged away from her family to the land of Prythian, to serve out her life sentence. Choosing the latter, she is soon introduced to that place of magic and wonder, a land both beautiful and terrible, where mystery, violence, and political intrigue abound. She also learns to love the ‘beast’ who brought her there—Tamlin, the High Lord of the Spring Court.

Feyre was already a hunter, a fighter, but when Tamlin and all his people are taken captive by the murderous queen Amarantha, nothing will stop her from attempting to save him—even at the risk of her own life.

The next two books add, layer upon layer, to the complexity of this world, where violence and brilliance live side by side and masks come in many forms. Book 2—A Court of Mist and Fury—follows Feyre as she attempts to recover from the emotional devastation she endured in Amarantha’s dungeon and Book 3—A Court of Wings and Ruin—unite many plot lines and lead to the final battle that will determine the future of both the Fae and humankind.

Review:

I was pulled into Feyre’s story by the happy thought of another Beauty and the Beast re-telling, but was immediately led deep into the dazzling world of the Fae—a mythology I was unfamiliar with. For me, the first book began rather slowly but once I got past the first few chapters, Feyre and Tamlin’s story had me turning pages as fast as I could. The story was anything but predictable. As soon as I thought I knew what was coming next, author Maas worked in another twist that slammed one door and threw open another.

Feyre is a strong and passionate character, replete with doubts and conflict, but also with unwavering loyalty to those she loves. Before the story even begins, she’s had to endure privation and terrible difficulty just to survive. She is not perfect and often makes decisions that made me cringe, but I still found it easy to like her, cheer her on, and fear for her life. At the end of book one (and without giving too much away) she is gifted with Fae power that she cannot always control, but bit by bit, grows in her strength until she truly becomes a Wonder Woman—though a believable one, thanks to Maas’s careful character- and world-building efforts.

The evil in this world is real—but so is the good. The appearance of the dark High Lord of the Night Court—Rhysand–half-way through the first book introduces a mystery that is not resolved until much later. Other characters, even those who appeared secondary at first, wormed their way into my heart. The love stories—and, yes, there are more than one—are magnificent, and the themes of loyalty, sacrifice, redemption, and family are woven seamlessly into the plot.

My only concern with this series is its rating as Young Adult. The love scenes are graphic beyond anything I’ve read in adult romance. “Steamy” doesn’t seem a strong enough descriptor. I’d hate for a young teen—or even a not-so-young one—to get ahold of these. FantasticFiction agrees: “Contains mature content. Not suitable for younger readers.” I’m thinking they fit better in the publishing category New Adult, but, unfortunately, the YA designation seems to be sticking.

Even though the major conflicts are resolved by the end of book three with much blood, death, and gore, the avid fan wants to know what happens to some of those so-called minor characters—Cassian and Nesta, Lucian and Elaine, Mor and Azriel. Therefore, I was quite delighted to see a 4th book in the series is due to be released in 2018.

Book Review: In 27 Days

DCtX58AU0AEH36D

Title: In 27 Days

Author: Allison Gervais

Blurb:

Hadley Jamison is shocked when she hears that her classmate, Archer Morales, has committed suicide. She didn’t know the quiet, reserved guy very well, but that doesn’t stop her from feeling there was something she could have done to help him. Hoping to find some sense of closure, Hadley attends Archer’s funeral. There, Hadley is approached by a man who calls himself Death and offers her a deal. If Hadley accepts, she will be sent back 27 days in time to prevent Archer from killing himself. But when Hadley agrees to Death’s terms and goes back to right the past, she quickly learns her mission is harder than she ever could have known.

Hadley soon discovers Archer’s reasons for being alone, and Archer realizes that having someone to confide in isn’t as bad as he’d always thought. But when a series of dangerous accidents starts pushing them apart, Hadley must decide whether she is ready to risk everything—including her life—to keep Archer safe.

From award-winning Wattpad author Alison Gervais (HonorInTheRain) comes In 27 Days, a story of redemption, first love, and the strength it takes to change the future.

Review: Continue reading

Book Review: The Evaporation of Sofi Snow

32969235

Title: The Evaporation of Sofi Snow

Author: Mary Weber

Blurb: Ever since the Delonese ice-planet arrived eleven years ago, Sofi’s dreams have been vivid. Alien. In a system where Earth’s corporations rule in place of governments and the humanoid race orbiting the moon are allies, her only constant has been her younger brother, Shilo. As an online gamer, Sofi battles behind the scenes of Earth’s Fantasy Fighting arena where Shilo is forced to compete in a mix of real and virtual blood sport. But when a bomb takes out a quarter of the arena, Sofi’s the only one who believes Shilo survived. She has dreams of him. And she’s convinced he’s been taken to the ice-planet. Except no one but ambassadors are allowed there.

For Miguel, Earth’s charming young playboy, the games are of a different sort. As Ambassador to the Delonese, his career has been built on trading secrets and seduction. Until the Fantasy Fight’s bomb goes off. Now the tables have turned and he’s a target for blackmail. The game is simple: Help the blackmailers, or lose more than anyone can fathom, or Earth can afford.

Review: Continue reading

Book Review: Carve the Mark

Unknown-2Title: Carve the Mark

Author: Veronica Roth

Blurb:

On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not—their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?  Continue reading

Book Review: Rebel Sands

24934065Title: Rebel Sands

Author: Alwyn Hamiltion

Book blurb:

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him… or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.  Continue reading

Book Review: Doon Series By Lorie Langdon and Carey Corp

BOOK REVIEW

hqdooncover-2

Title:  Doon Series, (4 books.)  Doon; Destined for Doon; Shades of Doon; and Forever Doon.

Authors: Lorie Langdon & Carey Corp

Goodreads Blurb:

Veronica doesn’t think she’s going crazy. But why can’t anyone else see the mysterious blond boy who keeps popping up wherever she goes? When her best friend, Mackenna, invites her to spend the summer in Scotland, Veronica jumps at the opportunity to leave her complicated life behind for a few months.

But the Scottish countryside holds other plans.

Not only has the imaginary kilted boy followed her to Alloway, she and Mackenna uncover a strange set of rings and a very unnerving letter from Mackenna’s great aunt—and when the girls test the instructions Aunt Gracie left behind, they find themselves transported to a land that defies explanation. Doon seems like a real-life fairy tale, complete with one prince who has eyes for Mackenna and another who looks suspiciously like the boy from Veronica’s daydreams. But Doon has a dark underbelly as well. The two girls could have everything they’ve longed for…or they could end up breaking an enchantment and find themselves trapped in a world that has become a nightmare.

DOON is loosely based on the premise of the musical Brigadoon, with permission from the ALan Jay Lerner Estate and the Frederick Loewe Foundation.

Review:

I’ve got to be honest. I was hopelessly addicted to this series. So much love for these characters, and their story. It pulled on every string in my heart. The series brims with hope, innocence, adventure, faith, love, power, risk, dreams, truth, and power.

One of the coolest things in the book was the friendship between Veronica and Mackenna, the two protagonists. These best friends surprised me and quickly become my friends too. Lorie and Carey talk about these characters here in an interview I did with them.

Lorie and Carey co-authored the series, which gave them a unique advantage with their characters’ voice. Each MC was so different, so likable, so full of quirks and personality. I loved that the moment one of them spoke, I knew who was speaking. Best of all, Mackenna and Veronica were relatable in every way.

Through the book, and the series, I enjoyed the hilariousness. The musical obsessions. The Shakespeare. The references. The sense that we are made for more. The fantasy. The power of the love calling. And the desire to enter into other realms. I was drawn to Doon just as much as the girls!

And what of the two swoony, Scottish princes, you ask? Jaime and Duncan put on such a good show! They continued to impress or drive you crazy or melt your heart the entire series! **Kudos, ladies.

On world building. For someone who has lived in the UK, spent time in Scotland, and Italy, and around the world, I was smitten with the use of language and culture and setting, and even how in DOON it took on so many other cultures. Guys, it seriously made me want to hop on a plane…and I mean, searching internet prices. 🙂

Now here’s an confession.. the book cover gave me a different idea of what the story might be like. I almost didn’t read it! How silly is that? But we do judge books by their covers…Thank God I kept flipping!!! When I read the first chapter, I was enthralled with the voice of the book.

The plot was fast paced and not predictable. It held my interest the entire series.

In book one, I was drawn more to Veronica and Jaime’s story. When I started book two I didn’t think the plot or their love story could be as good or better…but wow. I was wrong!

Highly recommend this series 🙂

Unknown-6

Book 2: Destined for Doon

Mini Review: LOVED this book.

The love story between Mackenna and Duncan was so different to Jaime and Veronica’s and the plot so vastly new, again, I was so impressed and sucked in. I finished so quickly, it was one of those moments you were happy that you didn’t know about this series until all of them were out so you didn’t have to wait!

 

Unknown-5

Book 3: Shades of Doon.

Mini Review: Again, by this time, you are so invested in the characters that you love doing things with them. This book adventured, and dreamed, and did again, new things! It was one of those books you didn’t want to be over, and Lorie and Carey gave me that in this book.

 

 

9780310742371_image

Book 4: Forever Doon

Mini review: Finally, I knew this was the end. The last book. It had better go out with a bang.

Then of course, what we don’t want to happen, happens. But the book does something new yet again and it does not disappoint.

Final word? Read it!

 

author-nova-mcbee

 

Nova, signing off.

Book Review: Soulmated by Shaila Patel

Unknown-5.jpeg

Title: Soulmated14451292

Author: Shaila Patel

Goodreads Blurb:

Two souls. One Fate.

Eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan, an Irish royal empath, has been searching for his elusive soulmate. The rare union will cement his family’s standing in empath politics and afford the couple legendary powers, while also making them targets of those seeking to oust them.

Laxshmi Kapadia, an Indian-American high school student from a traditional family, faces her mother’s ultimatum: Graduate early and go to medical school, or commit to an arranged marriage.

When Liam moves next door to Laxshmi, he’s immediately and inexplicably drawn to her. In Liam, Laxshmi envisions a future with the freedom to follow her heart.

Liam’s father isn’t convinced Laxshmi is “The One” and Laxshmi’s mother won’t even let her talk to their handsome new neighbor. Will Liam and Laxshmi defy expectations and embrace a shared destiny? Or is the risk of choosing one’s own fate too great a price for the soulmated?

Review:

First of all, it’s a dual POV, girl-boy. I kind of love those stories. Author Shaila Patel does it so well. Liam and Lucky each have a very distinct voice and personality.  Liam’s Irish accent and assertiveness, Lucky’s gentle charm. Very authentically done.

So, essentially the crescendo of Liam and Lucky’s relationship and their journey is the heart and soul of the book. It is perfectly done, not too fast and not too slow. I adored the way Liam could “read” her so well because of his abilities and I anticipated the development of her gift. At first, I worried about reading another insta-love book, but it was far from that, especially if you consider the impact of finding your royally matched soulmate. *And, wow, finding your soulmate in this book is no small experience! (no spoilers.)

More depth and layers were added by the unraveling of Lucky’s fears and obstacles, and Liam’s secret world; conflict was set up through dangerous rivals; and mystery was established by unexpected help.

On a side note, the sprinkling of Irish and Indian culture and language felt real interesting (obviously, its an OWN voices.) I’m a sucker for all things cultural.

Also, as a writer, I was impressed with Shaila’s giving and withholding of information. It was well delivered (pace-wise) and kept the interest growing– until she reaches her climax, which was….oh so unexpected and left me wanting more!

Looking forward to book 2 🙂

*Note: For sensitive readers, there is strong language.

Review by: Nova McBee

author-nova-mcbee