Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Hunted, by Megan Spooner | a slow but very unique Beauty and the Beast retelling

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3.25 stars

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

Hunted is a refreshing change from the typical fairy tale retellings, specifically Beauty And The Beast retellings, which tend to focus more on the romance. Hunted, on the other hand, is more intent on exploring Yeva’s character and how she connects with the Beast as a human, instead of their combined romantic tension. It’s also largely descriptive and prose-lead, and contains a much darker vibe than the original Beauty And The Beast. It actually differs a lot from the original but in a really necessary way and it does manage to contain the most important elements. Unfortunately, while this book does a number of things wonderfully, its style was just not for me, hence the 3.25 rating. I’m simply not the type of reader that enjoys a slow plot and a gentle build, but I can appreciate all the things Hunted did well.

One of the many elements that separates Hunted from the original/other retellings, is its addition of Russian folklore and culture. The story is set in medieval Russia, and there are are multiple stories traded throughout the book which definitely further that magical vibe that is already there. The snowy setting was largely emphasized as well as Yeva’s skills as a hunter, with descriptions of her frequent excursions into the chilly and dangerous yet peaceful woods. The prose was beautiful, I loved the dark, mysterious, and guarded feel of the story but the vulnerable moments were wonderfully written too.

I’m not the type of reader that enjoys reading slower, more description-based stories, which is exactly what Hunted is. The story can be draggy and dull at times, bogged down by the immense description and lack of enough dialogue to match it. The story’s progression felt very tentative to me, and I had a difficult time investing myself into the mystery behind the Beast and how Yeva fits into it. While there are many intriguing elements added as the plot moves on, I can’t quite say what caused my ‘meh’ feeling for the plot, it just wasn’t my type of story. Which sucks, because it has so much going for it.

The characters though, I was definitely invested in. Yeva came as such a surprise. She’s badass, spirited, and strong but also compassionate and vulnerable. Her love for nature and the woods, as well as her yearning for magic were so expertly expressed, specifically her wanting for something beyond. It’s definitely reminiscent of the original Belle from Beauty and the Beast, but Yeva’s wanting is more entwined with the mystical elements of the story and the nature of her character itself. Contrary to the lone Belle, Yeva actually has two sisters, Lena and Asenka, with who she shares a huge bond. All three sisters are so loving and understanding toward one another while remaining utterly realistic. It’s a refreshing change from the warring and jealous siblings we usually see in fairy tales. B&B’s Gaston is also there in the form of Solmir, who is actually supportive and loving toward Yeva and her sisters instead of being villainous and arrogant like in the original.

Interestingly, the only character I couldn’t come to invest in was the Beast himself. This book did something different by showing the Beast’s perspective too, but it wasn’t enough to make me connect to him. The only time I felt something for the Beast deeply was when Yeva tries to kill him, which was a beautifully written scene altogether.

The ‘romance’ between Yeva and the Beast was very minimal, as it wasn’t the romantic part of their relationship that was emphasized the most. I loved the way Spooner showed how Yeva and the Beast were inevitably bound together, through their mutual love for nature and their yearning for something beyond their reach. I do like how they were never viewed or intended to be romantically involved, but that it was their connection and trust that brought them back to each other. Unfortunately, I still thought the development behind their relationship was a tad rushed and simply ‘not enough’ even if I see the idea behind it. I wanted Yeva to stay with the Beast longer and further explore his psyche, instead of jumping to conclusions and finding out she is right about his past immediately.

Hunted contains many elements that readers will love, but it simply wasn’t my type of book. I’m not that big a fan of fairy-tale retellings anyway, which might explain my indifference toward it to an extent. I do have a strong appreciation for it though, and would definitely recommend to those who like slow plots, descriptive writing, and a more mature vibe from a retelling.

-Haven

Books, New Releases, YA Fiction

Anticipated YA releases: August 2017

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August is most definitely going to be the busiest, most craziest month of summer. I have a multitude of things to take of this month, and school is starting soon (kill me now). And while I probably have to micromanage my reading schedule, there’s no way I will quit reading all together! August seems to collect various genres, from fantasy to contemporary to a combination of both, and I’m pretty hyped.

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Just Friends, by Tiffany Pitcock – Coming August 1st

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A new spin on the classic smart-girl-and-bad-boy setup, this witty contemporary romance shows how easily a friendship – even one built on an elaborate lie – can become so much more.

Jenny meets Chance for the very first time when she is assigned as his partner in their Junior Oral Communications class. But after they rescue a doomed assignment with one clever lie, the whole school is suddenly convinced that Little-Miss-Really-Likes-Having-A’s and the most scandalous heartbreaker in school have been best friends forever. It’s amazing how quickly a lie can grow―especially when you really, really want it to be the truth.

With Jenny, Chance can live the normal life he’s always kind of wanted. And with Chance, Jenny can have the exciting teen experiences that TV shows and movies have always promised. Through it all, they hold on to the fact that they are “just friends.” But that might be the biggest lie of all.

Debut author Tiffany Pitcock delivers a spot-on depiction of first love and the high school rumor mill in Just Friends, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads.

This sounds like a really cute romance that would be perfect to help me get out of a reading slump. These types of novels are my guilty pleasures and I hope this is as adorable as it sounds.Image result for page breaker

Shimmer And Burn, by Mary Taranta – Coming August 8th

32333246To save her sister’s life, Faris must smuggle magic into a plague-ridden neighboring kingdom in this exciting and dangerous start to a brand-new fantasy duology.

Faris grew up fighting to survive in the slums of Brindaigel while caring for her sister, Cadence. But when Cadence is caught trying to flee the kingdom and is sold into slavery, Faris reluctantly agrees to a lucrative scheme to buy her back, inadvertently binding herself to the power-hungry Princess Bryn, who wants to steal her father’s throne.

Now Faris must smuggle stolen magic into neighboring Avinea to incite its prince to alliance—magic that addicts in the war-torn country can sense in her blood and can steal with a touch. She and Bryn turn to a handsome traveling magician, North, who offers protection from Avinea’s many dangers, but he cannot save Faris from Bryn’s cruelty as she leverages Cadence’s freedom to force Faris to do anything—or kill anyone—she asks. Yet Faris is as fierce as Bryn, and even as she finds herself falling for North, she develops schemes of her own.

With the fate of kingdoms at stake, Faris, Bryn, and North maneuver through a dangerous game of magical and political machinations, where lives can be destroyed—or saved—with only a touch.

WOW THIS SOUNDS SO COOL. It seems quite unique with its cast of characters, but also touches upon familiar elements. I’m definitely looking forward to checking it out.

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Little & Lion, by Brandy Colbert – Coming August 8th

25062038A stunning novel on love, loss, identity, and redemption, from Publishers Weekly Flying Start author Brandy Colbert

When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.

But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new…the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel’s disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself–or worse.

I love how mental health is being more and more focused on this year, and I’m excited to see what kind of story this book will tell. This sounds like a very different contemporary, and I hope it doesn’t disappoint.

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Wicked Like A Wildfire, by Lana Popović – Coming August 15th

32051720All the women in Iris and Malina’s family have the unique magical ability or “gleam” to manipulate beauty. Iris sees flowers as fractals and turns her kaleidoscope visions into glasswork, while Malina interprets moods as music. But their mother has strict rules to keep their gifts a secret, even in their secluded sea-side town. Iris and Malina are not allowed to share their magic with anyone, and above all, they are forbidden from falling in love. 

But when their mother is mysteriously attacked, the sisters will have to unearth the truth behind the quiet lives their mother has built for them. They will discover a wicked curse that haunts their family line—but will they find that the very magic that bonds them together is destined to tear them apart forever?

First off, can we talk about this cover?! Literally everything is perfect, it’s one the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. The premise also seems to match the nature of the cover, mystical, magical, and mysterious. Sounds like my type of read 🙂

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Wonder Woman: Warbringer, by Leigh Bardugo – Coming August 29th32336276

She will become one of the world’s greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . .

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

Wonder Woman is getting so much love recently, and who am I to complain? I actually saw the movie about a month ago and it was magnificent, as expected (Gal Gadot is actually flawless). It’s amazing that no one other than Leigh Bardugo herself is taking on this superhero, and I’m sure it’s going to be totally badass.

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What are you guys’ anticipated August releases? Leave me a comment 🙂

Books, Original Post, YA Fiction

Waiting On Wednesday #3 | Leigh Bardugo’s ‘The Language Of Thorns’

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme created by Breaking the Spine where each week we discuss upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Hey guys! This week’s ‘Waiting On Wednesday’ book is The Language Of Thorns: Midnight Tales And Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo! (YEEEEEEEEEE)

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Release Date: September 29, 2017

Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

I’m so hyped for this, y’all don’t even know. The Grishaverse is probably my favorite fictional universe ever and I was not prepared to let it go when the Shadow And Bone trilogy and the Six Of Crows duology ended. So ready for the slayage.

What are your guys’ anticipated releases? Let me know in the comments 🙂

-Haven