Review: Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Publication Date: October 18th, 2011
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover, 528 pages
Add Beautiful Chaos to your Goodreads TO-READ shelf!

SUMMARY

Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, strange and impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena’s Claiming. Even Lena’s family of powerful Supernaturals is affected – and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What – or who – will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin?
For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He’s being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it isn’t by Lena – and whatever is haunting him is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Even worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself – forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn’t know why, and most days he’s too afraid to ask.
Sometimes there isn’t just one answer or one choice. Sometimes there’s no going back. And this time there won’t be a happy ending.

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MY TAKE: 5/5 STARS
Things have never been the same in this mystical Carolina town ever since Lena’s Claiming. The Day of Reckoning seems to be upon them.

The plague of insects infesting every inch of town. The nightmares and the panic. Casters who couldn’t control their powers, or use them at all. A river of blood…

Ethan is convinced that The One Who is Two will be the one to restore the Order. They just have to figure out who it was before time runs out for Gatlin and for the entire world.

Let me just get my bearings here…

I can’t believe I have to wait another year for the next book of this series. This is complete torture. I don’t know if I’ll survive that long. The ending made a basket case out of me. It made me mad and sad and just…gah!

Okay. I’m done.

Here’s what I thought.

When I started this series, I’ve considered Ethan as a younger brother I was very protective of. By the end of Beautiful Darkness, I started having some really disturbing feelings toward this boy. I’m ashamed to admit, that after reading Beautiful Chaos, I now have a full blown literary boy crush in the person of Ethan Lawson Wate. He finally grew up and has developed a more masculine personality and voice!

I have no clue how to describe the anxiety I felt while reading this. The amazing writing duo of Garcia & Stohl did an incredible job of never letting the reader get too comfortable. Even through the tender moments between Ethan and Lena, there was always this shrieking alarm in my head telling me that these kids were about to be put through an emotional torment. And by the end of this book, I may have cried as much as Lena did. Melodramatic, much? Read this book. You’ll see.

I’ve always had a hard time with serial books. The lag of time between publishing remains a stumbling block for me. It’s hard to jump back into its world without having to go through a quick refresher course. It takes me quite a bit of time before I pick up an installment to the series – more often, to a point where I wait for it to be completed before I dive back in. Well, that is not the case here. Page one threw me into the series like I just finished its predecessors yesterday. Just like that, I’m back in Gatlin – hotter than Amma’s kitchen and more magical than Ravenwood.

The authors didn’t spend a lot of time rehashing what had happened in the last two books. Maybe it’s because I loved this series so much that the books seemed like they’re still fresh reads. And in any case, Garcia and Stohl will not guide you back in slowly, they’ll THROW you back in. So if you’re not as big of a fan as I am, be prepared for some forehead-crinkling moments.

I don’t know how the dynamics of this writing duo work but I’m continually awed that they’re able to keep Ethan’s voice true and consistent through the entire series. I’d imagined it’s tough having two sets of writing personalities writing one character. How they’re able to combine their impressive skills and not overpower the other just completely amazes me.

Ethan was not the only character that has improved in one way or the other in this series. Most notably, John Breed. Until about a quarter to the end of the book, it was difficult to ascertain whose side this caster was on. But I am looking forward to reading more about him in the next book. The Caster Chronicles truly has one of the most well-developed, multi-dimensional set of characters I’ve read as of yet – with the exception of one, in my opinion. Ethan’s dad. His role was almost non-existent in Ethan’s life. Now that he joined the land of the living again, he’s back to teaching and therefore gone for the most part of the book. He pops in once in a while, but regrettably, he had a diminished role as a father. It was pretty sad that Ethan, knowing what he knew and what he was about to do, couldn’t even give his father a proper adieu.

The secrets everyone kept from each other was extremely frustrating. Sometimes, the intensity of frustration got to a hurl-the-book-across-the-room level. But in this case, I managed to calm myself down because the secrets added to the mystery and suspense of which this series is known for. So even though I wanted to shake Amma so bad and hit Ethan with the one-eyed menace over the head with repeatedly, I was able to appreciate the eventual reveal more.

Ethan and Lena’s relationship remain intense and beautiful. Maybe it’s because of their ability to talk telepathically, but this gave them a more poignant connection – which makes for an even more intense heartbreak. I’ve never been more prone to contacting the writers with some very harsh words along the lines of, “For the love of God, give me an HEA!”

Anyway.

With the combination of magic, mysticism, Religion and the real milieu of the good ol’ South, the third book of The Caster Chronicles left me breathless. Unrelenting suspense, beautiful writing and unforgettable characters kept me in constant wondrous state until the very last page. I will do just about anything to get an early copy of the fifth book. Absolutely amazing. 

BUY YOUR COPY HERE: Amazon

IMM #12

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren. This is the twelfth episode of HOARDERS, Books Edition.
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FOR REVIEW


Many thanks to Candlewick Press for these books!

ANGEL BURN by L.A. Weatherly
STORK by Wendy Delsol
TANTALIZE by Cynthia Leitich Smith

NET GALLEY

I simply couldn’t help myself. 
On a Dark Wing by Jordan Dane (Read my review here)
Red Heart Tattoo by Lurlene McDaniel
PURCHASED


ANGEL FIRE by L.A. Weatherly
FURY by Shirley Marr
ON THE FRINGE by Courtney King Walker
DARK INSIDE by Jeyn Roberts
BATTLE FATIGUE by Mark Kurlansky
HOW TO ROCK BRACES AND GLASSES by Meg Haston
MASTIFF by Tamora Pierce
SEIZURE by Kathy Reichs
A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness
What’s in your mailbox?

Review: On a Dark Wing by Jordan Dane

Publication Date: December 27th, 2011
HarlequinTEEN
Format: E-ARC from Net Galley

SUMMARY
“The choices I had made led to the moment when fate took over. I would learn a lesson I wasn’t prepared for.
And Death would be my willing teacher.”

Five years ago Abbey Chandler cheated Death. She survived a horrific car accident, but her lucky break came at the expense of her mother’s life and changed everything. After she crossed paths with Death—by taking the hand of an ethereal boy made of clouds and sky—she would never be normal again.

Now she’s the target of Death’s Ravens and an innocent boy’s life is on the line. When Nate Holden—Abbey’s secret crush—starts to climb Alaska’s Denali, the Angel of Death is with him because of her.

Abbey finds out the hard way that Death never forgets.

_____________________________________
MY TAKE: 4/5 STARS

On a Dark Wing is a story about Abby Chandler’s encounter with Death and Death’s obsession with her soul. On the day that Abby was supposed to die, her mother made a deal to take her place instead. That set up her life-long connection with the Grim Reaper (Death), which incidentally, she was unaware of.

Death seems inescapable in Abby’s life – mostly because she lives in a funeral home. A bit of an overkill, I know, given the theme of this book. But I could honestly say it added to the spooky ambience and main character’s obscure personality.

Abby has a whole slew of insecurity issues. To some, she may even come off as a petulant, whiny teenager. But this didn’t deter me from her liking her. The root of all her self-deprecation goes as deep as bearing the guilt over her mother’s death. In some ways, I found it redeeming that she drew strength from her weaknesses; using them as an armor to pad her none-existent self confidence. Abby’s voice come off even more authentic as I got to know her. The workings of her mind read like that of a confused, constantly tortured teen. She has a difficult life at school and even more difficult life at home. Her relationship with her father is, on a good day, strained and contemptuous on a worst day. But what I like was that they never stopped trying no matter how tensed their relationship were.

She got constantly bullied for reasons other than being weird. But she stood up for herself with her sharp mind and equally sharp tongue. She cared so little about being an outcast. Her one and only friend was a boy in a wheelchair who was a constant crusader in her defense. To top it all off, she’s perpetually disgusted with her body. For some readers, she could be considered as the quintessential anti-heroine…but not for me. Her flaws were endless which made her more real and so easy to identify with.

I could never understand how an author manages to convince the reader to root for a romance that in reality, would be next to impossible to come into fruition. Take Nate and Abby. They’re poles apart. The unobtainable and the loser. I wish Nate’s character wasn’t so one dimensional – because perhaps, I could’ve developed a fondness for this pairing. Abby was entirely obsessed with Nate; so much so that she has created a Nateworld in her head. I’m trying to remember how I was at Abby’s age and yeah. I get it. To love someone so out of your reach to the point of spending every waking and sleeping moments thinking about that person isn’t really healthy but I understood where she was coming from. I’ve been there. But like I said, I just wish I knew WHY. What is it about Nate? In the end, I never really got to know Nate. Cryptic, much? My main issue with this is that there was such a huge build up over this one-sided romance. In the end…well…I was a deflated balloon. BUT! But. I liked the EVENTUAL ROMANCE in this book.

I’m also a bit put off with the multi-person POV. Call me simple, but when I read, I like focusing on one person’s take on the story. I like having that nagging feeling of not knowing what the other character was going through. (I could never begin to explain why I loved Melina Marchetta’s multi-person POV…and I’m not even going to try). I am also not a fan of switching from first person to third. It tells me that the author is unable to give each person their unique voices, hence the switch…but what do I really know?

For the better part of Nate’s POV, I learned that Abby was right. He doesn’t know she exists. He’s only focused on climbing Denali. If you’re not into mountain climbing, being inside his head was, for the most part, boring. You learn so little about him.

Death seems so harmless from someone who brings an end to everything. He sounded more evil in the synopsis than his actual portrayal in the book.
If you ask me, the creepy facets of this book came primarily from the author’s writing. It was in the way she described how it was like to have dead people in the basement waiting for spring thaw so they can be buried. It was in the way a murder of crows seems to appear whenever Abby was alone. It was in the way that Abby’s dreams easily overturn to nightmares. Oh! And the bone-chilling way Abbey found out which Nate has been meeting her every night by the fire pit. *cue scary music*

Now, I know I’m going on and on about the ways this book didn’t suit me but trust me, there were a lot of good in this book.

The tangible unspoken grief between Abby and her father was ubiquitous in every scene they have together. It was painful to watch.

The timeline header for every POV switch added a sense of foreboding menace. It almost felt like watching a movie with the ominous music playing in the background.

I applaud the author for the picturesque depiction of the scenery and of the chilly Alaskan climate. This is a great book to curl up to beside a fireplace on a blustery day or night. Although night would be most ideal for the creep factor.

The plot took forever to get going but when it finally happened, the story moved in an unrelenting heart-thumping sequence.

All in all, On a Dark Wing was a spooky but enjoyable read for me. Despite my complaints, I found the story line to be a novel idea amongst all the other death harbinger books out there.

Thanks to Net Galley and HarlequinTEEN for the ARC.

Review: Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Publication Date: October 18th, 2011
Random House Publishing Group
Format: Hardcover, 480 pages
Add Dearly, Departed to your Goodreads!

SUMMARY
Love can never die.

 
Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?
 
The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.
 
But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.
 
In Dearly, Departed, romance meets walking-dead thriller, spawning a madly imaginative novel of rip-roaring adventure, spine-tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love.

___________________________________________________
MY TAKE: 3/5 STARS
I’ve only managed to read one steampunk book from cover to cover. It’s a genre that I haven’t been able to acquire a taste for. Zombie books, however, is a different matter altogether. I can read those in one sitting – no problem. Dearly, Departed combined steampunk and the horrors of living alongside the undead, so this steampunk book should’ve been much easier to devour. In fact, I was counting on the zombie element to help me get through it. I did finish the book but unfortunately, it didn’t give me the heart-thumping suspense that I look forward to when I read zombie books and did very little to whet my appetite to read more steampunk books.

Immerse yourself in a world where technologies mesh with Victorian civility and tradition. Where gentlemen wore cravats and ladies wore bustled gowns and ride carriages with monitors mounted in the passenger box. Digidiaries were used instead of moleskin for journals and stylus instead of quill pens. The year was 2195; Nora Dearly was just coming out of mourning for her father who died a year ago. Little did she know, that she was about to become a pawn in a struggle for power and revenge between two opposing factions who uses the undead for their own selfish agenda.

The problem with some of the dystopian novels I’ve read as of yet was the lack of explanation for the world’s demise. Some open with the world changed and I’m to accept that world simply ended. Well, that’s not going to work for me. I don’t care if it calls for pages upon pages of narratives, I.need.to.know. Lia Habel did a fantastic job with her accounts of how the world in New Victoria came to be. I didn’t battle with boredom as I read about the world’s eventual demise. She also took the time to explain how the world reverted back to the Victorian ways of living. I’ve always been a bit gun shy when it comes to scientific explanations but the way Ms. Habel explained how the virus function didn’t sound like wah-wah-wah-wah, to me. It was easy to follow. The point of this paragraph is that the author took the time to explain things and at a hefty 470+ pages, I didn’t expect any less.

Dearly, Departed also has one of the most detailed settings I’ve ever read. Holograms appear in places amidst the prevailing desolate landscape. I am not only amazed with the world building but also with the accurate Victorian clothing and artifacts. Lia Habel’s writing flow smoothly that I was able to identify with the characters quite easily. With that being said, one of the problems I had with this book is the five-person POV. As much as I love details, having all these people telling their stories made for some stilted story-telling. I resisted the urge to bypass everybody else’s POV and go right to Nora’s and Bram’s.

I’ve proclaimed my adoration for zombie books time and time again and have amassed quite a collection (mostly unread). In this novel, there are two types of zombies: the Grays and the ‘awake/aware’ zombies. The latter, very much like the Grays, are dead but where the Grays only crave for living flesh and can only focus on the hunger, the other kind of zombies do not have the same urges. They speak, they eat human food (tofu!) and they feel. My major issue with this book is just that. Aside from body parts and, or chunks of flesh that were missing, Bram’s cohorts were very much like humans. I felt that this took a lot from the zombie element that I was dying to read about. I hate comparing books but Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies version of ‘aware’ undead didn’t feel like they were humans trying to be zombies. They were zombies trying to be humans. Does that make sense?

Anyway, I still enjoyed this book – even if the ending felt like the author was forcing a conflict that could make way for a possible sequel. The romance was sweet and some parts me choke up (I’m a sap, I know!). I loved Nora’s character – fiercely independent and loyal to her friends. A couple of antagonists whose characters were, in my opinion, fillers – Michael and Vespertine (really, what was the point of putting these two in?). The characters that made this doubly enjoyable were Sam and Dr. Chase. I found them funny and sweet.

Steampunk and zombies. Someday, I’ll get used to this. If there is to be a sequel, I’m picking it up.

DNF – Books I Couldn’t Finish

**WARNING** Mild ranting up ahead. Read at your own risk.

Yesterday, I was hopping merrily away in the blogging world when I stumbled upon a post by Livre D’ Amour. She listed some of the books that she couldn’t finish for her own personal reasons.  And jolly, ol’ me – being the most unoriginal, uncreative person on this side of the equator, decided to follow in her footsteps and come up with some of my own.

French Kiss (Diary of a Crush #1) by Sarra Manning
I read this book back in June and I think I stopped reading after 40 pages or so.

The gist of the review: I cannot be sympathetic to girls who fall in love with boys who treat them like rags. Also, the characters in this book are people that I pretty much cannot stand in real life. Edie’s obsession with Dylan the jerk astounds me. This guy treats her like dirt but she keeps coming back for more. If they were a real life couple, I see the beginnings of an abusive relationship.

A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies

“I’m sorry. I can’t force myself any longer. I just…no. The feedback on this book is mostly good and here I sit thinking that I’m reading a different novel. Perhaps the story will get better but I just can’t continue. Something about a group of teenagers sitting in a circle, passing a flask and playing NEVER HAVE I EVER (on a ski trip, no less!) makes me want to gouge my eyes with a dull knife…”

There was just something about the above scenario that felt like I was reading a fan fiction instead of a book in which I paid money for. I know I stopped at page 114 so if I were to feel generous one day or if I ever ran out of reading materials, I just might give this book another go.

Mistwood by Leah Cypress

For some people, an INFODUMP is something that hinders them from enjoying a book. Well, Mistwood is a book that probably could’ve used a truckload of information, in my opinion. I felt like I was dropped in the middle of a story and had to figure out how everything started. In the end, though, the lack of the characters’ personalities couldn’t make me finish this. I was lost and confused half the time and uncaring for the other half. I can honestly say that among this list, Mistwood is the only one who didn’t make me want to inflict pain to the characters. Sure they were the unemotional sort – but they didn’t make me livid as the rest of the books that are on this list.

“This book bored me and confused me. I feel like there should’ve been a book before this to explain everything else. The author bombards you with events from the past that failed to explain what was happening in the present. There’s about a hundred pages left to this book and I can’t summon to urge to find out what happens to the Shifter and Rokan.”

Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel
”I really thought I’d get past the fact that the protagonist didn’t have a hard time in the world she woke up to. But five chapters in and I couldn’t continue.

If the person you claim was your soulmate, gave his life just so you could be human again, would you at least shed one tear? instead, she honored his memory by falling in love with another character in a span of minutes.”

The thing is, the MC was buried for a century. She woke up to the present world fully adjusted. The most obvious inconsistency was the lack of formality in her language that depicts of the century she lived in. Instead, she was fully slang-ing it with the kids.  In the meantime, the guys are falling for her for reasons that…I’m sorry. I can’t remember. Actually, there wasn’t anything redeeming about her or even remotely likable.  I couldn’t get over the fact that a vampire gave up his life so she could be human and what did she do? Oh. Right. Hook up with the next hottest guy within a ten mile radius.

 
Marked (House of Night series) by PC Cast & Kristin Cast
So, I was the not-so-smart one who bought books 1 to 6 of this series without reading the first one first. Had I brush up on Book Buying 101, I could’ve saved myself a whole lot of cheddah. This book tried so hard to come off sounding like a teenager and epically failed. 
I may have stopped reading as soon as I got to a scene wherefore a guy was uhm being ‘worshipped’ by a girl on her knees…in the hallway.  Am I a prude? Perhaps. Ultimately, the horrible writing style of this duo and my inability to like the characters couldn’t get me to continue on with this series. I’ve been reading reviews of the next books and apparently, the series has vacillated from bad to worse. All I can say is –  what a waste of money. Tsk, tsk.
Remember kids, the opinions expressed in this post are purely my own. We’ve all been given the rights to choose and buy books that could harm either ourselves or somebody else. Goodness knows I tried so hard to contain the urge to face punch someone after reading the above mentioned materials.
Any of these books make your list? I’m a sucker for comments. 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (3)

 
It’s Monday, What are you reading? is a weekly event hosted by Sheila at One Person’s Journey Through a World of Books to list the books completed last week, the books currently being read and the books to be finished this week. 
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READ & REVIEWED LAST WEEK:
 
READING QUEUE FOR THIS WEEK:

I’m still trying to finish Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel. This book should’ve been one of those books that I could finish in one sitting since it has all the potential to be one of my favorite reads this year (zombies! how can that go wrong?). Sadly, it’s taking slower than I’d expected. Well, I’ll explain in my review. I think I’ve got about a quarter left of this hefty novel.

As well, these are the books that I’ve scheduled to read:



And the Winners Are…

Hey all! The following lucky people are the winners of my recently held Smart Chicks Kick It Tour giveaway. Thanks to those who entered and I hope you will all stick around because this is certainly not the last major contest that I will host. Winners and prizes were drawn in order of the prizes listed on the giveaway. So without further ado…

The Darkest Powers Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong
(Winner is Lori M. Lee)

Beautiful Creatures, Beautiful Darkness, Beautiful Chaos by K Garcia & M Stohl
(Winner is Sarabara081)

Enthralled
(Winner is Carissa St. Armand)

Signed Copy of Across the Universe by Beth Revis
(Winner is TheJay2xA)

Raised by Wolves (Books 1 & 2) by J Lynn Barnes
(Winner is Spav)

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
(Winner is Kristina Shields)

Winners have been notified and will have 24 hours to respond back or another will be drawn. Once again, thanks so much for all the support!


UPCOMING GIVEAWAY:

ONE winner will win the following books:  VARIANT, THE DEATH CURE, REMEMBRANCE, ASHFALL, FALLEN ANGEL & THE HUNGER GAMES TRILOGY.

This contest will start sometime in November, so stay tuned!

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<a href=”http://rafl.es/enable-js”>You need javascript enabled to see this giveaway</a>.

IMM #11

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren. This is the eleventh episode of HOARDERS, Books Edition.
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Triangles by Ellen Hopkins
Beautiful Chaos x2 by K Garcia & M Stohl
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Girls Don’t Fly by Kristen Chandler
Swear by Nina Malkin
Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
Frost by Wendy Delsol
Something About You by Julie James
Payback Time by Carl Deuker
Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday
The Edge of Darkness by Lissa Bilyk 
Yes, I do realize there are two Beautiful Chaos in there. But that’s just because there’s a GIVEAWAY going on right now where you can win all three of the Caster Chronicles series in one shot. So if you haven’t entered this giveaway yet, well, what are you waiting for? This is perhaps, the smallest IMM haul as of yet. I’m slippin’…

Review: Exiled by M.R. Merrick

Publication Date: June 28th, 2011
Indie by Author
Format: Paperback, 278 pages
Add it to Your Goodreads!

SUMMARY
Chase Williams is a demon hunter in the Circle, or at least he was supposed to be. On his fifteenth birthday, Chase stepped up to the altar to claim his elemental power, but it never came. Elemental magic is passed down to a hunter through the bloodline, but on Chase’s birthday, the bloodline stopped. Exiled without the Circle’s protection, Chase has spent two years trying to survive a world riddled with half-demons and magic. When he has a run in with a frightened and seemingly innocent demon, he learns the Circle’s agenda has changed: the Circle plans to unlock a portal and unleash pure-blood demons into the world. Vowing to stop them, and knowing he can’t do it alone, Chase forms a reluctant alliance with Rayna – a sexy witch with an attitude and a secret. In their attempt to stop them, Chase and Rayna find themselves in the middle of the Circle’s plan, leaving one of them to decide what their friendship is worth, and the other’s life depending on it.
_________________________________
MY TAKE: 3/5 STARS
This is not first time that I’ve read something that I didn’t feel as enthused as everyone did. I’ve just gone through the reviews for this on Goodreads and everyone seems to be in complete agreement. Heck, it averages 4.74 stars, a quick indication that it truly is an awesome read.


Once again, I’m on the outside looking in.

This book is short, and such, should’ve taken me a day or two – tops to read. But I’ve had this fermenting on my currently reading shelf since last Saturday and it just wasn’t holding my attention. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why that is. Surely, I can’t complain about the writing. It was done perfectly well. There is something about the author’s style that I found refreshing, direct to the point and most certainly non-convoluted. It’s not even the world building because MR Merrick created one that parallels an exceptional paranormal world where vampires, shifters, witches and warlocks were the norm.

I have a feeling that my reading taste is evolving. Vampires no longer excite me – heck, other mythical creatures no longer excite me. Should I really feel bad that I’m feeling a bit excluded from everyone’s enthusiasm over this book? A little bit. I found myself asking, “What the heck am I missing?”

This book is written from a male’s POV, a rare find amongst the hundreds of books in my reading pile. I usually enjoy those – but I couldn’t with this book. There is a certain detachment to Chase that I regretfully, unable to empathize. I also couldn’t summon enough interest to find out what Rayna was. I feel so bad because I think I’m not giving this book a fighting chance and doubly awful because this is from my Indie shelf.

Perhaps I should’ve just stopped halfway through the book and re-shelved it for future reading but I pushed on because I kept hoping that the book would incite some excitement in me. The funny thing is, this book was paced well. There was no lull as soon as you get to page one. The action was non-stop, enough to give you a pulse pounding high. But I was at an automaton mode, reading for the sake of that feeling I get after i finished a book – accomplished and somehow sated by the fact that I gave the book a chance.

I think this is the most contradicting review I’ve written as of yet. I can’t fault the book or the author but I can honestly say, that this time, it’s all on me, folks.

It just wasn’t my book. 


BUY YOUR COPY HERE:  AMAZON

Review: The Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson

Publication Date:  November 29th, 2011
Zondervan
Format: E-ARC from Net Galley
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SUMMARY
An unthinkable danger. An unexpected choice.Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of Lord Ranulf’s bailiff—a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past.Believing that life in a nunnery is the best way to escape the escalation of the bailiff’s vile behavior and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf. As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger. Ranulf’s future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands, and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart.
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MY TAKE: 3/5 STARS

This book is surprisingly good. Not that I’ve expected it to be bad but the historical genre is usually a hit and miss with me. Sometimes, it bores me to sleep and sometimes I’d start one and before I know it, I’d be at the last page. The Merchant’s Daughter fell under the latter.

At first glance, Annabel’s story reminded me of Cinderella or any other fairy tale which involved cruel family members who treated her like a servant. Her father, who was a broke merchant by the time he passed away, was the only person she had a kinship with. Left with a family who was too prideful to do any work, the whole town turned on them and decided they must pay for years of not helping with the farming. The amount of fine the family must pay was something they could not afford. Annabel soon found herself escaping an arranged marriage to a widowed town bailiff to work for the ‘beastly’ Lord Ranulf.

I loved Ms. Dickerson’s take on Beauty and the Beast. What surprised me the most about this book was that I found myself unable to skip the Bible reading parts – and there were lots. This book was heavy in religious tones. But in spite of all that, it was written in a way that it doesn’t come across as preachy so it didn’t hinder me from enjoying this book.

There are things that I must point out, however.

Gilbert was thrown in to the mix as a love triangle. What was the point? Annabel was sickened at the thought of being near the man and obviously it wasn’t going anywhere. And maybe it was just the way things went during the 1500s but Gilbert met her once and decided that he must make Annabel his wife and a mother for his son.

The relationship between Annabel and Ranulf felt a bit forced and lacking in the spark department. Perhaps it was due to the genre this book was written under (Christian) that I often found myself looking for more. There’s always certain ‘safeness’ to Christian books and unfortunately, the attraction between characters felt cold and ‘safe’.

Otherwise, I still enjoyed this book. If fairy tale retellings are your cup of tea, The Merchant’s Daughter, though a bit unusual, will not disappoint.

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