A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan

Image result for a touch of goldKing Midas was able to turn items into gold but he relinquished the power when he almost lost his daughter to this supposed gift.  Ten years later Princess Kora still bears the consequences with skin that shines golden and gifts that continually grow harder to hide.  

Kora remains hidden in the castle attempting to ignore the swirling gossip of the courtiers but when a duke arrives he seems to be able to see beneath the golden skin.  Their courtship is interrupted when a thief steals the golden pieces needed to keep the King alive.  With the unique ability to sense gold Kora sets out on a journey to recover the missing gold learning that everything is not as it seems.  And that gold and the power it holds is more dangerous than she ever imagined. 

This story based on the tale of King Midas and his golden touch was a phenomenal adventure that dragged me through the mind of a girl turned to gold by her father and his curse.  The characters pranced through my mind and the world building painted a vivid story that left me wondering what happens next.

The main character, Kora struggles to find her place in a world that is disgusted by her mere presence due to the golden hue of her skin.  In this story we see her go beyond the girl who is afraid and resigned to the hatred that surrounds her to one finding her acceptance and way in the world.  She begins to realize that her curse does not shape her and that she can be free and in control.  It was phenomenal as a reader to watch Kora’s growth and I loved her character even if I was at times annoyed by the fear that seemed to consume her.

Image result for predictable gifThe other side characters added a vivid array of emotions and flaws that made a complete cast.  I will state now that I knew immediately who the love interest would be and that the Duke (slight spoiler here) was not all that he appeared to be.  In the romance aspect, the tale was predictable but besides that, I loved pirates and their effect on the tale.

Besides the characters, the world building was gorgeous.  We see pirates, a lawless island, and sea creatures which all added to this stunning book.  Not to mention, the evil pirate of this tale who’s obsession with skulls was fascinating.  I will say that this book did not do a good job of sticking to Greek culture or history but if one simply takes the tale out of Greek context and sees it as a separate world it is perfect.

So, in the end, despite its flaws, I loved the tale of King Midas’ touch and the resulting consequences of the golden touch.  A sequel for this book called A Curse of Gold has been announced but will not be coming out for some time.

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Beauty by Robin McKinley

Image result for beauty by robin mckinleyBeauty is a nickname for a girl who is as awkward as her sisters are gorgeous.  But her courage may make up for that as she goes forth to keep a terrible promise.  A promise made by her father to a horrifying beast.  But as she fulfills her promise she finds that maybe a beast can be tamed.

Beauty is yet another retelling of the infamous tale of Beauty and the Beast.  This was another interesting take on the story.  It was not horrible but I have read better versions of the story.  One of the main reasons I picked it up was because of its cover and the length of the book which was short.  However, the promise of greatness was not completely fulfilled.  The background and world building were gorgeous and the characters were great but there were a few instances where I hated the book.

The world-building was vibrant, to say the least.  The new take on the castle, the woods, and Beauty’s background was phenomenal.  I adored how the sisters were not mean and the ingenuity of the magic of the castle where every nuance of the castle is run by magic.  The invisible servants added extra luster to the tale and I quite enjoyed the background of the story.

The characters were also stunning.   The main character was not a beauty, she adored books and horses and was easy to connect to.  Even in his own way the Beast won me over as a reader through his sweet nature.  Furthermore, I loved Beauty’s family who supported her and she them through thick and thin.

Image result for im sorry I just cant gifHowever, these could only make up so much for the details I hated.  First of all, the ending.  It was short and rushed. One moment Beauty admits she loves the Beast and then everything just explodes.  Her family is suddenly there and her father’s in love along with her sister and all these people just appear.  Another thing was how old the Beast was.  He admitted that he aged one year for every ten meaning that he had aged twenty years so if he was twenty when he was cursed he is like forty and Beauty is like maybe twenty.  That is a huge age gap which I’m not totally against but I kind of am.  Not to mention the romance wasn’t developed very well and in comparison to other retellings, it was weak.

Due to all of this, I can’t say I loved the book but I am still glad I read it.  I’m just not sure how many more retellings of this timeless tale I am going to read for it is honestly getting kind of old.

Book Review: Beast A Tale of Love and Revenge by Lisa Jensen

Image result for beast a tale of love and revengeChateau Beaumont is said to be cursed but Lucie ignores the warnings not believing that the handsome master of the keep, Jean-Loup is anything but kind and brave.  She is soon relieved of that notion and in revenge, she seeks the help of a wise woman who changes the master into a Beast as ugly as his soul.  However, Beast is not all that he appears to be for no evil man could tend the roses as sweetly as he does, attempt poetry, or express remorse for the wrong done to Lucie.  Gradually, Lucie realizes that Beast is an entirely different creature from the handsome chevalier, with a heart more human than Jean-Loup’s ever was.  Lucie hopes that the Beast has replaced the chevalier permanently until a young woman shows up with the power to break the curse.  I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  This book was published on July 10th, 2018.

This book was an interesting retelling of the age-old fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast.  The characters were compelling and in a world filled with magic where everything is not so black and white.  Beauty and ugliness are blurred along with beastliness and humanity.  I liked the book but at times I was bored by it.  However, the unique retelling and plot plus stunning characters still recommend the book.

I was drawn into this tale by the main character, Lucie who suffers greatly at the hands of the Chevalier of the grand estate of Beaumont.  Her growth from hatred to understanding to love was intriguing to read about and the author excellently portrayed her growth as a character.  However, I could not stand the fact that she spent a major Image result for boring gifportion of the book as a candlestick.  It was boring to read about how as a candlestick Lucie would sit in a single place for weeks just ruminating.  There were a couple chapters where I wanted to set the book down. But I powered through and it was worth it to reach the middle to ending chapters.

In these, we realize that Rose also known as Beauty may be more than just a frightened maiden entranced by the Beast.  And the Beast is more than just a frightening creature.  His humiliation and gentle side show through and the constant rejections from Rose are heartbreaking to witness within his character.  I loved the Beast and through every riotous emotion I followed and understood him.  

The Beast was a phenomenal addition to the story but what I really adored was the world building.  The author created a setting in which magic is possible in an extravagant world told from the point of view of a servant. The roses of the Beast and the Chateau in which he lived were wonderfully described and I could almost smell a hint of roses in the air.  It was stunning for the author truly created a gorgeous world.

In the end, I would recommend the book.  It wasn’t a favorite, though and I would rather read other books before this one.  However, it was worth it to see a unique take on an age-old fairy tale.

Book Review: The Lantern’s Ember by Colleen Houck

Jack barely remembers his mortal life before the deal.  So he focuses on his job of guarding a gate to the Otherworld, a world crawling with every horror, haunt, and spook imaginable.  He has spent decades moving from town to town not allowing a soul, human or inhuman past him .  But that changes the day he meets Ember O’Dare.Image result for the lanterns ember

Ember O’Dare is a stubborn seventeen-year-old witch whose draw to the Otherworld is forceful.  Deciding to resist no longer she sets out to see this forbidden plane with the help of a mysterious vampire, setting a course that will change both worlds permanently.  Jack must do everything in his power to get Ember back where she belongs before both the earthly and unearthly worlds descend into chaos.  I recieved this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  The book’s publishing date was September 11, 2018. 

The Lantern’s Ember was a phenomenal book that I knew I had to read since it is by a stunning author.  Not to mention the cover is breathtaking.   And I am so glad did.  The tale that unfolded in this book was gorgeously thrilling and I could not set the book down.  The book was filled with a wild array of characters and the world-building was unique to say the least.

The main character, Ember was courageous and ingenious and reading about her tale and world was a fun experience.  She drew me to her because of her kindness and my need to understand why her magic was different and stronger than other witches.  However, I was getting annoyed with how many times she passed out during the entirety of the book which was several times more than it should have been.  Besides this annoyance I adored Ember’s character who brought the book to life.

Besides Ember, the book was filled with an array of various characters.  And for a while there was three love interests: Ember’s best friend, Finney, the lantern, Jack who has been watching over her from childhood, and the charismatic vampire, Dev.  Besides that the book contained, witches, several kinds of vampires, werewolves, automatons, trolls, vampire bats, the boogeyman, wizards, pirates, and more magical creatures.  They all added to the stunning world-building and diversity of characters who traveled and adventured with Ember through the Otherworld.

The Otherworld was a magical world that lived alongside the normal world but its people were not human.  The world was filled with every kind of haunt and spook that one can think of but no humans were allowed to enter.  The world was far ahead of the normal world in technological advancements and it was exciting to read about some of the things we take for granted running off witchlight in a magical world.  In the end the world-building was truly a masterpiece.

I loved this book and would highly recommend it to all.  It brings to life the origin of Halloween in stunning fashion that was simply unputdownable. 

Book Review: Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf

Image result for Bring Me Their HeartsZera is Heartless.  As an unaging and unable to die servant to a witch Zera doesn’t have a heart and yet that is all she craves.  Her witch, Nightsinger has complete control over Zera and Zera serves her unquestioningly until Nightsinger asks her to infiltrate the noble court.  Her task to take the Prince’s heart and in return she will gain her heart and freedom.

Crown Prince Lucien d’Malvane hates the court and the nobles.  With every girl jockeying for a position at his side he wants nothing to do with the spring brides.  Until Lady Zera is presented with her inelegance and smart-mouth shes’s out for his blood.

Soon a game of cat and mouse begins between a Heartless and a boy who has everything.  The winner gets the loser’s heart.  Literally.

Bring Me Their Hearts was an amazing tale of struggle, heartbreak, and the darkness offset by light that makes up humanity.  The characters were stunning and their struggles were utterly real and heartbreaking.  The world the author created was unique and I adored reading about the struggles of a girl who believes herself to be a monster.  I could not put Bring Me Their Hearts down and when I reached the devastating end I came away wanting more of Zera and Lucien’s story.  The end was a massive cliffhanger and I desperately want another book because this story was stunningly brought to life.  What really made the book, though, was the characters.

The main character Zera constantly struggled beneath the weight of being heartless.  It was devastating to read about the hunger that constantly clawed at her and how she fought it.  She covered the darkness within her with jokes which made for some entertaining back and forths with other characters.  However what made her real was her desperate need to be cared for and loved. She wanted that, to not feel like a monster.  Zera believed herself to be a monster and yet throughout the book we begin to see her emerge and attempt to be human again.  She learns to love and it was a beautiful thing to read as Zera changed and grew beyond her heartlessness.  The character growth was phenomenal and I completely adored Zera’s character.

Related imageThe other characters were just as finely wrought what with their pain and heartbreak.  The emotional depth the author instilled throughout the book was outstanding, especially in the Prince.

Lucien, the Prince, wants to care for his people and he wants to live up to his sister’s memory.  We watch throughout the tale as his internal walls slowly break down for Zera.  However, at the end of the book, it is heart-wrenching to read about how he finds out that Zera is heartless and to see her as a monster.  Throughout the book, we watch as he grows and finds the courage to try to change his nation once and for all.  His character was outstanding and I simply cherished him as the love interest.

The other side characters were just as sensational as the two main characters.  They each fought their own demons and the book in no way hides that.  Some overcome their demons while some continue to fight theirs but it made each character unique and real.  The world was stunning and the characters all the more so.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, yes, yes, a dozen times over.

Book Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Image result for cruel beautyNyx has been raised to kill the tyrant, Ignifex, the demon king who has enacted his cruel bargains for hundred of years.  She is the one meant to kill him because of a reckless deal her father struck with him. Her mission is to kill him and reunite her kingdom which is sundered from the rest of the world.  However, Ignifex is not what she expects.  He quickly worms his way past her defenses and his castle of twisting mazes soon enthralls her.  But everything is not as it seems and as she uncovers more of Ignifex’s secrets Nyx begins to find herself unwillingly drawn to him.  But even if she can love her enemy how can she refuse her duty to kill him and save thousands of people?

Cruel Beauty was a wildly dark tale that completely entranced me through it’s vivid characters and sundered world.  I could not put the book down, desperately wanting to know what would happen.  The tale flew by in a whirlwind of opposites, betrayal, love, truth, and lies.  Endlessly the book kept distorting into new plot twists and vivacious creations.  The world and the heroes who were all guilty in their own ways worked together to form a tale from which I did not want to emerge.

The characters were charming, witty, and flawed.  Nyx, the main character is filled with hatred and pain for the family who never truly loved her and the fate that awaits her.  Throughout the book we see her grow to understand that the world is not completely black and white.  That the guilty can also be the innocent.  Her indomitable will and determination to fulfill her mission was admirable but what made her human was how she gave into feelings of malice, self hatred, regret, hope for forgiveness, and the knowledge that sometimes the world is a convoluted place.  Her character was offset by Ignifex and his shadow, Shade.  They were complete opposites of each other as two sides of a single person.  The witty banter between Ignifex and Nyx was wonderful and I quite enjoyed their game of trying to defeat the other.  The three characters were stunning and I savored reading their story.

The world building was definitely unique.  A small kingdom is cut off from the rest of the world and it all resides in a house which resides in that kingdom.  The unique castle and its many magical rooms was intriguing to read about.  The whole idea of a diminished world created a vivid setting for the tale.  Not to mention some of the story was built around Greek legends which added a wonderful mythological twist.  However, it was at times confusing as to what exactly the magic was and who the gods were and what they could do.  There were also a few plot holes that left me wondering.  It was slightly rambling almost like the castle within the book: constantly changing and at times completely absurd.  The author made up for these flaws through the amazing characters but the love triangle was still a little weird.

Despite this I loved Cruel Beauty and would recommend reading it.  It was darkly imaginative and is definitely worth the time it takes to read it.

Book Review: The Blood of Four Other Gods and Stories by Jamie Lackey

Image result for the blood of four gods and other storiesIn this collection of fourteen short stories inspired by African, Asian, and Native American myth and legend one will explore different realms of possibility.  From the cloud forest to crowded city streets these stories bring to life new fantasy.   New characters arise as brave as they are kind to counteract the forces of evil constantly threatening our world.  As these stories show the impossible it becomes the reality of possibility in the mind’s eye.  I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  This book was published September 1, 2018.

This short collection of stories was interesting in a weird and not completely amazing way.  I was first drawn to the book through its title and the promise of short stories filled with magic.  I looked forward to the book and was quite excited to read it.  However, the book did not fully live up to my expectations.

First of all there was absolutely no character growth in anyone. The characters were just there and some of the stories almost seemed to just end but had no real ending.  All of the characters were blah for I as a reader could not connect to them and their troubles.  Not to mention most of the endings were either depressing, too much happily ever after, or simply not there at all.

However, the main thing that drove me to distraction was how in almost every story there was an incomplete transition where we just jump from one moment to the next and it was slightly confusing.  Like suddenly the main characters are getting married then one of them is dead due to a snake bite. 

Related imageAnother thing I hated was how some endings were just so abrupt.  It was like the author didn’t want to continue it and this usually resulted in there being no climax or plot to the short story.  For example one story was about a priestess who sacrifices herself by jumping into a volcano.  She lands on solid ground and has to climb up a ledge which she can’t see. And the story just ends with her climbing.  It made me want to cry for I wanted to know what happened to her but we will never know because the story just ends.

I will say though that I liked the ideas behind the world building and some of the stories.  I just felt that the author could have explored the worlds and characters more in depth creating short stories that allow the reader to become attached to that tale.  However, since this did not occur it just created stories that were just there and that weren’t that great.

In the end I cannot recommend this book.  It wasn’t the worst thing I have read but it wasn’t phenomenal.