Review | Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy

Because You Love to Hate Me
Title: Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy
Authors: Ameriie (Editor), Renee Ahdieh, Soman Chainani, Susan Dennard, Sarah Enni, Marissa Meyer, Cindy Pon, Victoria Schwab, Samantha Shannon, Adam Silvera, Andrew Smith, April Genevieve Tucholke, Nicola Yoon
BookTubers: Christine Riccio, Tina Burke, Samantha Lane, Sasha Alsberg, Sophia Lee, Zoe Herdt, Benjamin Alderson, Jesse George, Regan Perusse, Catriona Feeney, Raeleen Lemay, Whitney Atkinson, Steph Sinclair, Kat Kennedy
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Type: Standalone
Genre: Anthology, Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Pages: 339

Blurb from Goodreads:

In this unique YA anthology, thirteen acclaimed, bestselling authors team up with thirteen influential BookTubers to reimagine fairy tales from the oft-misunderstood villains’ points of view.

These fractured, unconventional spins on classics like “Medusa,” Sherlock Holmes, and “Jack and the Beanstalk” provide a behind-the-curtain look at villains’ acts of vengeance, defiance, and rage–and the pain, heartbreak, and sorrow that spurned them on. No fairy tale will ever seem quite the same again!

My Thoughts-01

Dear Book,

You had me at the Introduction. I’ve always had soft spot for villains especially those with amazing backstories that tells us of their struggles before they became the characters we love to hate. I appreciate the way the Introduction highlights the importance of villains in a story. Being a lover of good “bad guy stories”, I immediately felt like this book was made especially for me.

I checked this book out for two reasons:

  1. The title alone promises darkness being the biggest component in this book. Thirteen stories told from the villain’s perspective!
  2. Three of my favorite authors are in it—Adam Silvera, Victoria Schwab, and Marissa Meyer. And they delivered! Awesomely. I must add.

The team-up of YA authors and popular BookTubers is something I haven’t seen done before so it really piqued my interest. The collaboration didn’t work for me though. Sadly. I feel like the BookTubers’ parts didn’t help with the stories. I appreciate the creativity in each of the prompts—the funny essays, the quizzes, the tips on how to be a good villain—but to me they didn’t feel necessary. I think it would’ve been nice if the space for the prompts were given to the authors instead, so there’s more room for the actual story.

Leave it to the heroes to save the world. Villains just want to rule it.

While the stories from my favorite authors really stood out in terms of wickedness, I wasn’t very impressed with the others. Perhaps I was expecting more evil. There were some that didn’t came out strong and villainous for me, some I find confusing, and others are retellings that sticks too closely to the original fairy tale so it felt flat and less creative. But there were also stories from authors that I haven’t heard of before that managed to captivate and surprise me. Since this is a mix of noes and yeses for me, I decided to do a breakdown review and rating for each story.Read More »

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Review | Hunted by Meagan Spooner

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Title: Hunted
Author: Meagan Spooner
Publisher: HarperCollins
Imprint: HarperTeen
Release Date: March 14, 2017
Type: Standalone
Genre: Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Pages: 374

Blurb from Goodreads:

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?

My Thoughts-01

And here’s yet another of my highly anticipated retelling that just turned out to be such a disappointment. Hunted has the finest ingredients for a retelling—Beauty and the Beast mixed with a number of interesting Russian tales—but still it lacked flavor. The whole thing was quite dull. Its characters were flat. The world was even flatter. The plot sticks very closely to the Beauty and the Beast story. And because I prefer my retellings to venture a bit further from the original tale, I didn’t find this very interesting. It simply lacked the twists and the pull to make it different from the original. And it was so slow, I was bored to tears.

I usually don’t have problems with slow-paced books as long as their reason for being slow is:

A.) It is trying to build a solid world for me to enjoy.
B.) It is focused on giving depth to the characters to make me want to care for them.

This book did none of those. The world-building was so vague but I don’t think it’s with the writing because I quite liked Spooner’s writing style. I think it wouldn’t be hard to picture a world with her writing if only there were enough details given for me to visualize. There isn’t much detail with regards to the world in this book except that it snowed a lot and that our main protagonist, Yeva, used to live in luxury with her family and later moved to a cabin in the woods after her father’s downfall. Then there’s the Beast who lives in a crumbling castle in the middle of the woods. I’m assuming that this castle is somehow warded by magic because it’s so hard to find but… so easy to find? Okay, hell, that was confusing. But that’s it for world-building. Read More »

Review | Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

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Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge
Published by HarperCollins on September 27, 2016
Genre : Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Pages : 437

The Blurb-01

Sabriel meets Romeo and Juliet in this stunning and atmospheric novel—the first in a duology—from the author of Cruel Beauty and Crimson Bound.

When the mysterious fog of the Ruining crept over the world, the living died and the dead rose. Only the walled city of Viyara was left untouched.

The heirs of the city’s most powerful—and warring—families, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou share a love deeper than duty, honor, even life itself. But the magic laid on Juliet at birth compels her to punish the enemies of her clan—and Romeo has just killed her cousin Tybalt. Which means he must die.

Paris Catresou has always wanted to serve his family by guarding Juliet. But when his ward tries to escape her fate, magic goes terribly wrong—killing her and leaving Paris bound to Romeo. If he wants to discover the truth of what happened, Paris must delve deep into the city, ally with his worst enemy . . . and perhaps turn against his own clan.

Mahyanai Runajo just wants to protect her city—but she’s the only one who believes it’s in peril. In her desperate hunt for information, she accidentally pulls Juliet from the mouth of death—and finds herself bound to the bitter, angry girl. Runajo quickly discovers Juliet might be the one person who can help her recover the secret to saving Viyara.

Both pairs will find friendship where they least expect it. Both will find that Viyara holds more secrets and dangers than anyone ever expected. And outside the walls, death is waiting. . . .

My Thoughts-01

Once upon a time, she believed she was only a sword. Now she fears she is only a girl.

When you say retelling, Rosamund Hodge is the first author that comes to my mind. Being a huge fan of Cruel Beauty and Crimson Bound, I’d read anything with her name on the cover. Hodge’s worlds were always very complex and intricate that it has the tendency to become a bit confusing at a point. That’s how it goes with her first two books and I ended up loving them anyway. But such was not the case with Bright Smoke, Cold Fire. Reading this felt like being in a maze and I found myself lost a lot of times.

Yes, this is a retelling! Of Romeo and Juliet! And it comes with necromancers! And zombies! And magic! I thought I was hitting a lot of birds with one stone. With Romeo’s and Juliet’s name on the blurb this book screams romance, which is what I’m so into lately. Also I was just really curious as to what this classic couple’s chemistry would be like under Hodge’s imagination. And seeing how Hodge can expertly weave an addicting romantic fantasy and develop extremely unforgettable characters in her previous works (Hello, Ignifex!), I thought now is the time to start reading this book. Read More »

Review | Reign of Shadows (Reign of Shadows #1) by Sophie Jordan

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Reign of Shadows (Reign of Shadows #1) by Sophie Jordan
Published by HarperCollins on February 09, 2016
Genre : Re-telling, Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages : 304

THE BLURB

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Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

MY THOUGHTS

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Fairytale retelling is one of those genres that I always have time for. So when a Rapunzel inspired story came out, mixed with terrifying monsters and perpetual darkness, and with a lovely cover you just can’t ignore, I knew I have to get my hands on that book and read it overnight. Sadly, I did not love the story as much as I love the cover. I like it for the fun read that it is. But I never really love it until that cruel ending.  
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Review | Alice (The Chronicles of Alice #1) by Christina Henry

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Alice (The Chronicles of Alice #1) by Christina Henry
Published by Ace on August 04, 2015
Genres: Re-telling, Dystopian, Fantasy, Fiction, Adult, Horror
Pages: 291

THE BLURB

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A mind-bending new novel inspired by the twisted and wondrous works of Lewis Carroll…

In a warren of crumbling buildings and desperate people called the Old City, there stands a hospital with cinderblock walls which echo the screams of the poor souls inside.

In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blond, hangs in tangles down her back. She doesn’t remember why she’s in such a terrible place. Just a tea party long ago, and long ears, and blood…

Then, one night, a fire at the hospital gives the woman a chance to escape, tumbling out of the hole that imprisoned her, leaving her free to uncover the truth about what happened to her all those years ago.

Only something else has escaped with her. Something dark. Something powerful.

And to find the truth, she will have to track this beast to the very heart of the Old City, where the rabbit waits for his Alice.

MY THOUGHTS

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There are only so many ways an author can interpret Alice in Wonderland. I’ve read a few reinventions of it. By far this one is the creepiest, darkest, and most terrifying of them all. It’s rough, raw, twisted, and it moved far… far from the original childhood classic you’re used to. By that I mean this book contains a lot of disturbing images: blood, violence, murder, abuse, mutilation, cannibalism. Also, rape and sexual assault is a major theme here. If you’re sensitive with these topics, be warned. Read More »

Review | A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes #1) by Brittany Cavallaro

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A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes #1) by Brittany Cavallaro
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on March 01, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Contemporary, Retelling, Young Adult
Pages: 321

THE BLURB

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The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

A Study in Charlotte is the first in a trilogy.

MY THOUGHTS

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A Study in Charlotte is one of those books that you won’t hate because it’s fun enough to make you want to turn just another page before bedtime. But also the kind that you won’t come to love deeply because everything is played on a safe temperatures. No sudden spikes of excitement.

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