Tuesday, May 26, 2015

5 to 1 {by Holly Bodger}

5 to 1 by Holly Bodger
Title: 5 to 1
Author: Holly Bodger
Genre: YA SciFi
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Source: NetGalley
In the year 2054, after decades of gender selection, India now has a ratio of five boys for every girl, making women an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of marrying off their daughters to the highest bidder and determined to finally make marriage fair, the women who form the country of Koyanagar have instituted a series of tests so that every boy has the chance to win a wife.
Sudasa doesn’t want to be a wife, and Kiran, a boy forced to compete in the test to become her husband, has other plans as well. Sudasa’s family wants nothing more than for their daughter to do the right thing and pick a husband who will keep her comfortable—and caged. Kiran’s family wants him to escape by failing the tests. As the tests advance, Sudasa and Kiran thwart each other at every turn until they slowly realize that they just might want the same thing.
This beautiful, unique novel is told from alternating points of view—Sudasa’s in verse and Kiran’s in prose—allowing readers to experience both characters’ pain and their brave struggle for hope.

I loved this one. It was a unique, eye-opening take on a social issue, yet still keeping its scifi and dystopian feel. Sometimes with dystopian stories, we think "oh no, that could never happen", yet this brings forth an issue that is already happening, and an extreme look at how it could end up.

In this future, there are 5 girls for every 1 boy. This country has closed themselves off from the rest of India, and girls are celebrated, in charge of everything, while the men are treated second-class. While they boast "fairness", it really isn't fair.

This story is told from two narratives. Sudasa's is told in verse, and Kiran's is told in prose. I actually somehow didn't know that when I started reading, so it was a nice surprise. The two styles work together to create a beautiful story. Both characters are fighting against the norm. They don't want to be caged into a marriage. They realize the system is wrong, and they want to fight against it. This wasn't what you would typically expect, I think. It wasn't a romance, really, if that is what you're expecting.

I flew through this story. But although it is a fast read, it isn't lacking. The details were beautiful and well-explained, so that you had a real sense of what this future was like, what it held. The author had a whole world to build up, but she did that well, in both verse and prose. While you get to know the characters some, I didn't feel as if this was a character-driven story. But that worked for this one.

All in all, this was a very well done story. I was worried about the ending, but I loved it. It was open-ended, sure, in the only way that it would work for this story. All in all, a phenomenal story.

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Holly Bodger:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | tumblr | Pinterest | Goodreads

Monday, May 25, 2015

Mini Reviews: Serving Up a Sweetheart, All Dressed Up in Love

Serving Up a Sweetheart
Title: Serving up a Sweetheart
Author: Cheryl Wyatt
Series: A Year of Wedding Novella #3
Genre: Christian fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Source: publisher
Meadow knows how to serve delicious food to match any wedding theme. But can she accept love when it's served up on a silver platter?
During one of the biggest weeks of her catering career, Meadow Larson’s kitchen roof caves in after an unrelenting blizzard. She has to accept help from the last person on earth she wants to see: Colin McGrath. The tormentor from her past is now a contractor, her new neighbor—and the only person available to take on a project of this size.
Colin is aware God has given him a second chance to make things right with Meadow after bullying her in high school. After years of regret and guilt, Colin is determined to earn her respect and forgiveness, no matter what it takes.
It’ll take an extreme kitchen renovation, several cooking lessons, a little lace, and a lot of grace, but God is using this renovation project not only to restore Meadow’s heart, but also to restore Colin’s integrity in her eyes. Will Meadow learn to trust the new Colin even as their relationship grows from a business exchange to something more meaningful? 
I must say, I think this is my favorite out of the series so far. I loved this one. I have a weakness for couples that go from not even liking each other to more, and this did that so well.
Meadow did not have a good childhood. Bullied throughout high school, the stigma and pain has stayed with her this whole time. But she's followed her dreams and made herself a name in the catering business. Until her kitchen roof caves in during a blizzard. To make matters worse, her new neighbor is the guy in the group of bullies in high school, and the only one who can fix her roof.
I loved Meadow. She was strong, spunky, and independent. She's had a hard life, but she's managed to rise above that and continue with her life. Not only that, she helps other at-risk teens, so that they too can overcome their circumstances. She was kind and gracious, even when that meant taking help from the last person she wants to see. Colin was pretty great himself. He is ashamed of the person he was in high school, and wants a chance to show Meadow that he has changed. He was genuine, fun, and kind. I loved their witty banter as they had to work together, and just the two of them in general.
I also love seeing the wedding business from behind the scenes, especially the food. I loved Meadow's themed wedding catering business, and the scenes with the food were the most fun. This story was sweet, and fun, and I loved it.
This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Cheryl Wyatt:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

All Dressed Up in Love
Title: All Dressed Up in Love
Author: Ruth Logan Herne
Series: A Year of Weddings Novella #4
Genre: Christian Fiction
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Source: publisher
Greg Elizondo hadn’t bargained for this. Any of this.
Satin. Lace. Tulle. Pearl inlay, embroidered bodices, and Swarovski crystals.
The bridal shop business it took his mother three decades to build, the enterprise that covered his university and law degrees in full, was struggling because he might be part-genius when it came to contract law . . . But corset-style gowns with a mermaid flair? Shoot me now.
Tara Simonetti hated law school, but loved the community grant funding her presence at Temple University’s esteemed school of law. She could not fail. Would not fail. But when a notice for bridal store help appeared on the community notice board, Tara applied for the job immediately. While grants and loans helped pave her way, money for food was scarce. Legal precedence, moot court, and judicial clerking all had their place, but they were nothing compared to Alcenon lace, tucked silk skirts, and a well-placed peplum.
Greg had grabbed her help as the act of a desperate man. Within weeks, he was desperate again, this time to win her heart. But after using community funds to get her degree, how can Tara turn her back on the people who helped finance her goal?
But if she leaves Philadelphia and Greg to return to her small-town in northern Pennsylvania, she’ll be leaving her heart behind. A heart he won, fair and square by posting a help wanted notice on the coffee shop board . . . A heart that filled the missing niche in his mother’s acclaimed bridal store. A heart Greg longed to cherish forevermore.

This story was super sweet and cute and just fun. I loved the setting and the characters, and enjoyed this one a lot.

Tara is a law student, who takes a job at a local wedding dress boutique because she's low on funds. The owner, Grant, is a hotshot lawyer who took over the place when his mother died and has no idea how to run it. But he wants to keep his mother's beloved shop alive, and is willing to do whatever it takes to keep it going.

I liked Tara. She was spunky, smart, and blunt. She wasn't afraid to tell it like it is. She wants to be a lawyer to help people, but its not her passion. She finds her passion while working in the shop, helping brides with their dream day. Grant thought his heart was in the big city at a law firm, but the more he works at the shop, the more he realizes how much he likes the small town, the atmosphere... and Tara.

I liked both the characters, as they were a lot of fun. I had some issues with the portrayal of Grant, as there was a lot of saying what he was, but then he didn't actually show it. In this case, it was a good thing, as Tara has built up this idea of him being a greedy, big money lawyer, but he was actually kind and sweet. But I loved all the side characters too, and loved seeing the day-to-day of the bridal shop and how they all step in to help each other.

The only issue I had was with the ending. I don't want to spoil things, but it went way too fast. Beyond the point of unrealistic and romantic daydream, and into ridiculous. I know I'm not into romance as much as most girls that read this kind of stuff, and therefore may not understand it as much as I should. But I thought the ending was not built up to. It happened randomly, and honestly kind of ruined it for me. But other than that, this was a fun, sweet story.

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Ruth Logan Herne:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | YouTube | Goodreads

Friday, May 22, 2015

Made You Up {by Francesca Zappia}

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
Title: Made You Up
Author: Francesca Zappia
Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Source: ARC from another blogger
Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.
Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.
Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up. 

I loved this one so much. It was breathtaking, moving, and powerful. Books about mental illness are tricky because you have to pull them off well, portray it and the people with it correctly, and I think Zappia did a great job. This was an amazing debut and I will definitely be checking out her future books.

Alex has schizophrenia. She has just transferred schools, thanks to an "incident" at her old one, and is just trying to hold it together long enough to get into college. Her biggest goal is just to keep others from finding out about her illness. That is, until she meets Miles. I loved Alex. She's strong, and spunky, and honestly just fun. She refuses to bow to this "problem", doing whatever she can to manage her day to day life. She relies on so many things to help her distinguish reality. Her unreliability as a narrator made it that much more interesting because sometimes she doesn't know what's real and what isn't which means we don't either.

Miles is an interesting character. At the beginning, he isn't really the most likable character, and that's how he's supposed to be. But he's definitely interesting. Sure, he's kind of a jerk, but he also has his issues. Miles and Alex actually fit really well together, and I loved seeing them together. Both of them have things they're hiding from everyone, but slowly they learn to trust each other.

I think some people might argue that her parents were terrible, but I'm not sure I saw them that way. Yeah, some of the things her mother did (or didn't do) were, frankly, awful. However, this book really shows how hard schizophrenia is on everyone involved. And I think this helps open eyes to how important it is to talk about things like this, so that people will know how to deal with it, how to help.

This book also had me captivated the whole way through. There were definitely some twists in there that I didn't see coming. Not knowing reality from the non-reality made this that much more powerful. I think this is such a needed, powerful story and I loved every bit of it.

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Francesca Zappia:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | tumblr | Goodreads

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mini Reviews: In Tune with Love, Never a Bridesmaid, Picture Perfect Love

In Tune with Love
Title: In Tune With Love
Author: Amy Matayo
Series: A Year of Weddings Novella #5
Genre: Christian fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Source: publisher
April is willing to do anything for her sister’s wedding—until she comes face to face with a guy from her past.
April Quinn is thrilled to be her sister’s maid of honor, until the wedding coordinator quits and the responsibilities get dumped on her. It’s April’s worst nightmare—especially since her sister has more objections and opinions than a lawyer presenting a high-profile court case. When the wedding singer walks out at the last-minute, her sister hires a replacement. When April finds out who the replacement is, she’s ready to call it quits as well.
Because there’s only one person in April’s past that she never wanted to see again, and her sister just handed him a front row seat to the wedding.
Jack Vaughn finally has the career he’s always wanted. After playing in bars and singing in weddings as a struggling musician for half a decade, he’s just released his second album and sales are skyrocketing. But while visiting his parent’s Nashville home the weekend before his first headline tour, he runs into an old friend. When she asks him for a last-minute favor, he can’t bring himself to say no. Even though saying yes means he has to come face to face with April Quinn—the girl who hasn’t spoken to him in years.
And rightly so, since he stole something from her that he’ll never be able to repay.

This was super cute. If you like your fluffy romances, then this is the book for you. April is an aspiring songwriter, and writes down lyrics wherever she can--on napkins, toilet paper, back of receipts, whatever she can get her hands on. She works at a dive bar, hoping to one day get noticed and catapulted to fame. That's what happened to her coworker, Jake. Only too late did he realize that the lyrics he found scribbled on a napkin…were April's.

The story then fast-forwards 3 years, when April is helping coordinate her Bridezilla of a sister's wedding and Jake has agreed to sing. April seemed a bit childish, as three years is a long time to hold a grudge. Yes, Jake probably should have guessed that they were her lyrics, but when he did call her back to explain, April was the one who didn't answer. Jake has been living with the guilt for the last 3 years.

I liked their easy banter, once they get over the song. Jake and April were fun to read about when they were together. April's Bridezilla sister also brought some humor to the story, although I guess I shouldn't laugh at April's misfortune ;).

This is a novella, so it was pretty short. But it was cute and fun, one of those light fluffy stories that will put a definite smile to your face.

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Amy Matayo:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Never a Bridesmaid
Title: Never a Bridesmaid
Author: Janice Thompson
Series: A Year of Weddings Novella #6
Genre: Christian Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Source: publisher
Can one bridesmaid undo the disasters caused by a poorly chosen maid of honor and save her sister’s wedding from disaster?
Mari’s older sister Crystal is getting married, and Mari is one of her bridesmaids – actually, the last in a lineup of five bridesmaids, but that doesn’t really bother her. Much. But Sienna Jameson as the maid of honor? Really? She might be Crystal’s best friend, but she’s ditzy and undependable on her best days. When the best man turns out to be hunky Derrick Richardson, the right fielder for the Houston Astros and one of Houston’s most eligible bachelors, Sienna abandons her duties as maid of honor to chase Derrick, and it’s up to Mari to make sure Crystal’s wedding day goes off without a hitch.
While Mari is wrapped up in dress fittings, bridal showers, and bachelorette nights, Derrick has taken notice of her devotion to her sister and her determination to make the wedding perfect. But between dodging Sienna’s advances and watching Mari running around like a madwoman, Derrick is left to steal moments whenever he can to get to know this beautiful bridesmaid.
When the maid of honor shows up to the ceremony late and more done up than the bride herself, Mari fears her attempts to make her sister’s wedding perfect have all been for naught. Will the bride be up-staged by the maid of honor? Will the fifth-in-line bridesmaid ever be recognized for all the work she’s done? And will Mari finally have a moment to revel in the magic of a wedding and dance in the strong arms of a man?

It's no secret that I love Janice Thompson's books. This story was a like a short, sweet sampling of her work. It had everything I love about Thompson's work, in novella form.

Mari's sister is getting married, and Mari fully expected to be the maid of honor. Not the last bridesmaid. But the MOH her sister did pick is undependable and self-centered, leaving Mari to do most of the work to ensure her sister has the best possible day. But Mari doesn't mind... much. But she catches the eye of the best man, super-famous-sporty-dude Derrick.

Even being a novella, the romance didn't progress super fast and unrealistically. And although it is a romance story, I also love how we got to focus on the relationship between Mari and her sister, and the pending wedding. Thompson does this thing that I love, where she weaves in parts of the story of the other characters, so we aren't focused on just the two MC's, and I loved the depth and interest that it adds.

All in all, this is the perfect kind of story I have come to expect from Janice Thompson. I'm only sad it was so short.

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Janice Thompson:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Picture Perfect Love
Title: Picture Perfect Love
Author: Melissa McCone
Series: A Year of Weddings Novella #7
Genre: Christian Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Source: publisher
When image becomes everything, it’s up to love to refocus the heart.
Photographer Jenna Harrison wants every bride and groom to look picture perfect on their special day, putting her heart into every wedding to give the couple memorable images of their love. But her own heart is still broken, the unworn wedding dress hanging in her closet a reminder that relationships aren't always as perfect as they look through her camera lens. But Jenna has faith that she will find true love. Until then, she must be patient and trust in God's plan and His perfect timing.
Attorney Ashton Vance is the one that got away. When an embarrassing Photoshopped picture of put an end to his political aspirations, he blamed Jenna. So what if the photo led to his being offered a dream job and changing his life for the better? Jenna betrayed his trust, and two years later, Ashton's heart still hasn't recovered.
It was me. His younger sister's three words turn Ashton's world upside down. He must ask Jenna’s forgiveness, but can he risk his heart a second time? Even if Jenna can forgive him, dare he hope for a second chance at her love?
This one was definitely interesting. A jilted bride gives her runaway groom a second chance? This was the first thing I've read from this author, and it was definitely cute.
The beginning of this one seemed stilted to me. I don't know if it was the dialogue or what, but something was off and I couldn't really get into it. However, I kept going, and there was enough to keep me interested enough to finish.
It's been two years since Jenna didn't get married, and she believes that she is finally healing, moving on. That is, until her former fiancé reappears. Ashton hurt her when he didn't believe her, didn't trust her, and she doesn't want to have anything to do with him. Except, they still have feelings for each other.
I enjoyed the story. I liked how we got to see parts of their lives other than them just falling in love. From them volunteering with the youth at Jenna's church, to helping his sister with the wedding. This let us see the kind of people they were, and how much they had changed since breaking up.
This one wasn't my favorite of the bunch, and it was more preachy than the others, if that isn't your thing, but it was still a cute, fun story that I enjoyed reading.
This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Melissa McClone:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Every Bride Needs a Groom {by Janice Thompson}

Every Bride Needs a Groom by Janice Thompson
Title: Every Bride Needs a Groom
Author: Janice Thompson
Series: Brides with Style, #1
Genre: Christian Romance
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Source: Publisher
Small-town girl Katie Fisher is planning her wedding. Sure, her boyfriend hasn't managed to pop the question just yet, but that doesn't mean she shouldn't enter a contest in "Texas Bride" magazine to win the dress of her dreams, right? But when her boyfriend breaks up with her and takes a job in another town--the very same day Katie wins her dream dress--her world is turned upside down. Should she claim her prize? And will the hunky former pro-basketball player who runs the swanky Dallas bridal shop--yeah, you read that right--catch on to her humiliation if she does?
Janice Thompson designs a romance sure to delight, with plenty of fish-out-of-water moments, a hilarious supporting cast, and more of the wedding biz world her readers adore.


This was the kind of sweet, romantic, Southern romance I've come to expect and love from Janice Thompson. Although I miss Bella and the gang, I can see myself coming to love this group of people just as much.

Katie is a small-town girl, who has been planning her wedding since she was a little girl. She's got everything planned out--except for the groom's proposal. She's sure that her long time boyfriend's proposal is coming. Until it doesn't. Casey instead drops a different bomb: he's moving to Oklahoma, and thinks they should take a break. The only problem? Katie has just won a contest for the custom dress of her dreams from the biggest bridal shop in the country.

The best part of Thompson's books are always the characters, and this was no different. This was filled with southern charm and sass and humor. I always love how she makes the secondary characters not feel secondary. I love Katie and Brady, but it's the supporting characters that really bring it home. Queenie, Katie's parents, the girls t the bridal shop, Katie's brothers. I love how everyone else also gets a little bit of their own story. Yes, this might be a romance, but it is focused on so much more than just Katie + Brady or Katie + Casey. (And no, there's not really a love triangle, if you hate that sort of thing.)

And of course, with all these people, comes the trademark craziness of Thompson's books as well. That is, all the different situations makes for some pretty... interesting times. Which is what made this story so fun and hilarious to read. My only issue is that trying to make Katie sound "Southern" ended up being cheesy and overbearing, but mostly in the beginning. Either Katie starts talking normally, or I just got used to it, but trying to make her sound like your typical Southern belle was very obvious. This was a pretty quick and light read, just your typical perfect romance. It wasn't too fast, or cheesy, but that kind of slow, sweet romance. I can't wait for the second installment.

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Janice Thompson:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Friday, May 15, 2015

By Your Side {by Candace Calvert}

Title: By Your Side
Author: Candace Calvert
Series: Crisis Team, #1
Genre: Christian fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Source: publisher
ER nurse Macy Wynn learned essential, gritty lessons in the California foster care system: land on your feet and trust no one. She’s finally located the fellow foster child she loves like a sister, but the girl’s in deep trouble. Macy’s determined to help, no matter what it takes. Her motto is to “make it happen” in any situation life throws at her—even when she butts heads with an idealistic cop.
Deputy Fletcher Holt believes in a higher plan, the fair outcome—and his ability to handle that by himself if necessary. Now he’s been yanked from Houston, his mother is battling cancer, and he’s attracted to a strong-willed nurse who could be the target of a brutal sniper.
When everything goes wrong, where do they put their trust?

Last year, in my review of Life Support, I mentioned how I wanted Calvert's next series to start with Fletcher. And guys IT HAPPENED, I was so excited for this like you don't even know. And I am so glad that this story held up to my (probably high) expectations.

Fletcher has moved away from his home in Houston, to take care of his mother in California. Fletcher needs to move on from the girl he thinks he loves in Houston (whom you might remember from Life Support), but his mother's illness is also tearing at him. Being a cop, he is used to taking care of everyone and everything. Until he meets Macy Wynn, an ER nurse, who doesn't take anything from anyone. She's grown up hardened, and trusts no one.

I think what I love most about Calvert's books are the relationships between the characters. Not just the romantic ones (although thankfully, no insta-love here), but also between Fletcher and his mom, Macy and her fellow ER nurses, even the POV's we get from the chaplains. We get viewpoints from multiple characters, including the sniper, and I love how that ties together.

I also love how Macy and Fletcher have this sort of sweet buildup to their relationship. You get to know each of them, and I loved them together. They both had their issues they had to work through, but I felt as if it were more realistic.

And of course, the book wasn't just about their romance. There was a sense of mystery and intrigue surrounding the story, and of course I love the parts in the ER, which were very well explained and gave you a sense of actually being in there. Of course, some parts may seem predictable, including the identity of the sniper before it's revealed, but all in all, this was a great story and I can't wait to see how Calvert continues this series.
This review can also be found on   Rachel Marie's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)


Candace Calvert:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest {by Melanie Dickerson}

Title: The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Series: Medieval Fairytale Romance #1
Genre: Fairytale retelling
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Source: publisher

"Swan Lake" meets Robin Hood when the beautiful daughter of a wealthy merchant by day becomes the region's most notorious poacher by night, and falls in love with the forester.
Jorgen is the forester for the wealthy margrave, and must find and capture the poacher who has been killing and stealing the margrave's game. When he meets the lovely and refined Odette at the festival and shares a connection during a dance, he has no idea she is the one who has been poaching the margrave's game.
Odette justifies her crime of poaching because she thinks the game is going to feed the poor, who are all but starving, both in the city and just outside its walls. But will the discovery of a local poaching ring reveal a terrible secret? Has the meat she thought she was providing for the poor actually been sold on the black market, profiting no one except the ring of black market sellers?
The one person Odette knows can help her could also find out her own secret and turn her over to the margrave, but she has no choice. Jorgen and Odette will band together to stop the dangerous poaching ring . . . and fall in love. But what will the margrave do when he discovers his forester is protecting a notorious poacher?

I've enjoyed all the Melanie Dickerson books I've read, but I think this may have been my favorite. Of course, anything Robin Hood, and I'm there, and a female one makes it all that much better. I also love anything medieval, so I'm glad to say this story held up to my expectations.

Odette lives with her wealthy merchant uncle. By day, she teaches the poor children how to read and write, and lacks for nothing. But by night, she goes out into the forest and poaches deer. She justifies this to herself because she is feeding the poor. But when the new forester arrives, and Odette starts to fall for him, she wonders if she is doing the right thing after all.

I liked Odette. She may have been rich, but she came from a poor background, so she wasn't arrogant or pretentious. She only wanted to help the poor. This did at times cause her to use poor judgment, as her one-track mind could only focus on what she thought best, and not think of other options, but she genuinely did want to help the poor. Jorgen was sort of your typical fairytale hero character, but that wasn't a bad thing. He, too, only wanted to do his job well and help the poor, and he and Odette made a good match.

Was this your typical romance story? Yes. Was this fairly predictable? Yes. The relationship moves pretty fast (especially that ending), and while there was a sense of mystery and intrigue surrounding the story, most of it was guessed early on. However, this story was still very well-written, and enjoyable. Although the characters are adults, this reads more like a YA story, so I think it would work well for both age groups. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes a little romance and fairytales.

This review can also be found on   Goodreads
Melanie Dickerson:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Monday, May 11, 2015

Alias Hook {by Lisa Jensen}

Title: Alias Hook
Author: Lisa Jensen
Genre: Adult Fantasy/Fairytale Retelling
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Source: NetGalley

"Every child knows how the story ends. The wicked pirate captain is flung overboard, caught in the jaws of the monster crocodile who drags him down to a watery grave. But it was not yet my time to die. It's my fate to be trapped here forever, in a nightmare of childhood fancy, with that infernal, eternal boy."
Meet Captain James Benjamin Hook, a witty, educated Restoration-era privateer cursed to play villain to a pack of malicious little boys in a pointless war that never ends. But everything changes when Stella Parrish, a forbidden grown woman, dreams her way to the Neverland in defiance of Pan’s rules. From the glamour of the Fairy Revels, to the secret ceremonies of the First Tribes, to the mysterious underwater temple beneath the Mermaid Lagoon, the magical forces of the Neverland open up for Stella as they never have for Hook. And in the pirate captain himself, she begins to see someone far more complex than the storybook villain.
With Stella’s knowledge of folk and fairy tales, she might be Hook’s last chance for redemption and release if they can break his curse before Pan and his warrior boys hunt her down and drag Hook back to their neverending game. Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen is a beautifully and romantically written adult fairy tale.

I loved the first 50% of this story. The second half, I had mixed feelings about, although I still very much enjoyed it. This was such an interesting take on Peter Pan. This isn't retelling, necessarily, just a continuation of what happens after the story we know. There is so much more to Neverland than the fun and games that we are taught, and we get to know the story from Hook's perspective.

"He has youth and innocence on his side, and the heartlessness that comes with them. I have only heartlessness, and it is never, ever enough." (page 6)

The writing of this story is beautiful. It's the thing that will draw you in. It's so lyrical, and flowy, and gorgeous. I was seriously enthralled by it. Jensen has such a way with words and prose, and that lent itself to the fantasy nature of this book. For me, the writing was the best part of the book.

Captain Hook was a 17th century privateer, until he is cursed to the Neverland, where he has spent almost 200 years fighting Pan in a war that never ends. Then one day, a grown woman appears in the Neverland, something that is impossible. Hook takes her under her wing to keep her from Pan, and along the way, they realize that maybe there is a way out for Hook after all.

I love that we got Hook's backstory mixed in the story. It was an interesting perspective to see where he came from and how he got to the Neverland. The next interesting thing is that Pan isn't the nice little boy we know. He's cold, heartless, cruel, cunning. He keeps Hook trapped in this never ending game, where Hook can't die. I also loved how we got to see other parts of the Neverland in depth, such as the mermaids and their lair, the fairies, and the First Tribes. They were magical, again described in such a gorgeous way that really made them come alive.

I mentioned that the second half wasn't as good as the first. The romance went from 0 to 100 real quick, and was not very realistic. Hook has this obsession with finding a way out, and while that is definitely understandable, it didn't fit well with what had happened before. I wasn't ever sure how to feel about Stella. I didn't feel a connection with her. I'm can't completely put my finger  on it,but something in the second half was just not on par with the first.

However, this was still an amazing story, and I was hooked (no pun intended) the whole way through. I loved seeing the Neverland from this different perspective, in much more detail. And I loved the end, how it worked for the story but also left things a bit open. All in all, this was an amazing story, and I would definitely recommend it for anyone who loves their fairytales.

"The world needs magic, now more than ever. If there is no safe place for children to dream, how will they ever dream themselves a better world?" (page 216)

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Lisa Jensen: