Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel [thoughts]

Second Star coverSecond Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel @| .com
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Release Date: May 13th 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Series: none

 

 

Goodreads description: A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete’s nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she’s falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up–and the troubled beauty trapped between them

I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

slight spoilers.

I love Peter Pan, so I was interested by Second Star‘s premise of a modern day retelling. I got a chance to read it now on Netgalley and I was really excited.

Wendy Darling’s brothers have been missing for months, and most people believe their dead. But Wendy can’t and won’t stop hoping that they’re still out there. She searches for them and meets some interesting people.

I am mainly just really confused by this book. Honestly, I think it would be better for the book to not be seen as a retelling at all. It doesn’t feel like a retelling and doesn’t seem to have much in common with what most people are probably familiar with. Maybe as a separate entity, it could just be a story about a girl who misses her brothers and gets involved with stupid and dangerous people.

That is basically what happens. She goes looking and meets Peter, a homeless surfer guy. He’s squatting at an abandoned house on a cliff. He used to be in foster care and ran away from that life. Now all he does is surf and helps kids. They scavenge to live, from the houses of the wealthy. It is kind of ridiculous. Wendy even goes with them and finds this activity glamorous. Peter hates his old friend Jas because he turned to drug dealing. When Wendy finds out Jas might have more information about her brothers, she gets involved with him, and some drugs. It is beyond ridiculous.

Wendy’s hope is easy to care about and in that respect, she’s easy to sympathize with. It’s easy to let sadness sway you and get mixed up in awful situations. But I just couldn’t understand her actions. She’s reckless and after a certain point, I couldn’t pull for her anymore. Freeing yourself from responsibility by surfing might be fun. Stealing because nobody that lives in the house wants to do anything but surf isn’t. Making sacrifices to find your brothers might be strong, but not waiting a damn night and taking drugs to get into the house isn’t. It’s stupid. Not that characters that make mistakes or do drugs can’t be enjoyable, but besides her hope, nothing about Wendy was enjoyable for me. Nothing about the story was enjoyable or meaningful to me, I didn’t feel like she learned  anything or grew at all, which made the story seem sort of pointless to me.

I couldn’t get into any sort of romance, it was all creepy to me. Peter and Jas are both creepy in different ways, but Jas is especially disgusting and I just didn’t understand why Wendy wanted anything to do with him. I was also really confused by the ending but at that point I didn’t even care anymore, I just wanted to be done with it. This didn’t feel like a retelling to me. While books about similar situations might be interesting, I just kept questioning everything that happened and wondering why any of it was happening.

This was not a book for me. But if you really like surfing, recklessness, and some darkness and drug-related stuff, you might enjoy it and should give it a shot!

 Have you read this one? Are you interested in it? Do you love Peter Pan? Let me know!

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge [thoughts]

Cruel Beauty coverCruel Beauty by Roasmund Hodge
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Release Date: January 28th 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Series: Cruel Beauty Universe

Goodreads description: Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

I decided to read Cruel Beauty  because I enjoy retellings and it was getting crazy amounts of praise among bloggers I follow. I don’t think I knew about the mythology factor much beforehand, but that would have made me want to read it more.

Nyx is a princess type person (I don’t remember her father’s title) and she has been brought up to marry an evil ruler person who is monstrous. There’s a plan for her to murder him and free the land but things get complicated. The Goodreads summary for this one seems pretty spot on.

I have mixed feelings about this one. I liked a lot of the world building. It was based on a lot of Greek/Roman ideas and I think (I don’t have the book with me right now, I read it on Overdrive) it’s almost like an AU of somewhere in Greece. I loved the house and how it changed, but I wasn’t completely sure about all the seals and magic that was supposed to be used. I loved other magical things, and the use of mythology. I thought it added a lot of depth to the story.

I loved how selfish Nyx was, and that she wasn’t just dying to be the hero. She wanted a life that was her own, and not having a choice really bothered her. She let herself be afraid and she didn’t force herself to be strong at every single moment. I liked that, it was different from some YA heroines. She wasn’t completely hateful and unlikable, she felt guilt and love, but I understood where all her negative feelings were coming from. It’s okay to not be the perfect girl that wants to fall in line and do everything you’re told, well-behaved women and all that. I also liked Nyx and Ignifex’s relationship, it was antagonistic. She was sent in with a mission but it was easily confused. It seemed like it was fun for her to get to know someone that was completely different, and she enjoyed getting to know him and arguing with him, even knowing that he was…evil.

I did not care for how Nyx’s family worked at all. I was on Nyx’s side, and when she started to feel guilty about her selfishness, I wanted to yell at her. Some of the fire in her attitude seemed to fizzle at the first sight of a sprinkle. She was too easily swayed one way or the other, and it annoyed me. There is one big decision in the book that really made me frown and felt disappointing for me. I don’t think it would be as annoying to everyone else, though. The ending was something else I didn’t love, or maybe not what happened but certain circumstances, but again, I’m not sure it would bother anyone else the same way it bothered me.

rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

As you can tell, I have mixed feelings about Cruel Beauty, but I did enjoy it. It’s a difficult decision whether this gets a 3 or a 3.5 but I think I could possibly want to reread it at some point, so I’m going with 3.5. And I believe, from how the series seems on Goodreads, that there might be more stories in this world but not exactly a series. I’m not completely sure, but I plan to read more by the author. I recommend it if you love retellings, strong girls that don’t just fall into place, and feisty relationships. Goodreads average rating: 3.82.

Roasmund Hodge‘s website and twitter!

Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund [thoughts]

Across a Star-Swept Sea coverAcross a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund
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Release Date: October 15th 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Series: For Darkness Shows the Stars #2, companion novel that can stand alone

Goodreads description: Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.

On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever.

Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it comes to Justen Helo, she’s not only risking her heart, she’s risking the world she’s sworn to protect.

In this thrilling adventure inspired by The Scarlet Pimpernel, Diana Peterfreund creates an exquisitely rendered world where nothing is as it seems and two teens with very different pasts fight for a future only they dare to imagine.

Across a Star-Swept Sea was on my fall TBR (and yes I’m still working on that!) because I liked For Darkness Shows the Stars. I actually have a post drafted for FDStS but my thoughts were messy and it never really evolved into a publishable review. Hopefully this one will be better!

This book is set in the same post-apocalyptic world as For Darkness Shows the Stars, where there have been wars that reset the population. Genetically modified foods (and I think other genetic modifications) altered human development and caused the Reduced, people who are mentally handicapped. People that abstained from the modifications and are unaffected are generally in power.

In Across a Star-Swept Sea, I will completely admit some of the politics kind of confused me. But, the story is based on the Scarlet Pimpernel, so think French Revolution-ish. Persis Blake is a wealthy friend of the Princess of a Albion, and the island of Galatea is in a state of revolution where the oppressed cured Reduced are now lashing out at anyone that had power, or anyone related to anyone that had power, in vicious ways. Persis Blake interferes with this as Wild Poppy. Justen is a medic from Galatea and doesn’t agree with what is happening, even though he’s grown up on the side that is currently in power. He goes to Albion for help/asylum and meets Persis, who purposely appears to be vapid and flaky. They pretend to be in a relationship. There are a whole lot of aspects to this story that are just really difficult for me to summarize quickly.

I liked Persis! She was smart and self-sacrificing. She worked hard to make a difference and help others. She wasn’t perfect, which made her interesting and realistic. She was also snarky and witty. Justen was interesting, but I don’t feel like I got to know him very well as a character. He was nice and wanted to help people, too. I liked their romance and wanted things to work out, but I didn’t feel extremely invested. I think it just needed more of them spending actual time together for me to feel like it was OMG amazing. I did think they were cute, but I needed more depth.

“Love was magma, shooting from the Earth. It had the potential to form pillars of rock that would last for a thousand years or plumes of ash that choked the sky.”

I already mentioned that there was a bit of confusion. I think that maybe some of the terms used might have been slightly confusing. I think the history of the islands and political groups needed more details, or at least details put together differently. But mainly it seemed to boil down to people not in power wanting power, people in power abusing power, and some people trying to fix things.

There was also a lot of medical stuff and genetic stuff going on that was both interesting and sometimes confusing. There’s a cure for the Reduced but the cure sometimes leads to another sickness. The people of Albion have palm ports, which are kind of like smart phones but are a part of the body, and they have to eat certain things to have energy to use them. They also have genetically engineered animals! Creepy but also cool.

There were also some interesting gender issues going on. I think the society and world operates on a patriarchal system, but a lot of people don’t agree with it. Some people seem to just accept it and others kind of go around it. It wasn’t just that that was the issue though, but the characters discussed the issue. I loved the discussion of it, and that the characters were realizing so many problems in their world and that was one of them.

rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I enjoyed Across a Star-Swept Sea! It kept me entertained and wanting more. I think it’s one I could probably read again at some point, too! I’m not sure if there are going to be more books set in this world, but I kind of hope so. It’s odd and can be slightly confusing, but I do like it. I do think the characters could use a bit of depth, and I think the romance could use a little bit more. I think you might like Across a Star-Swept Sea if you like dashing lady heroes in disguise and intelligent characters!

Diana Peterfreund‘s website and twitter!

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson [book review]

Tiger Lily coverTiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
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Release Date: July 3rd 2012
Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books
Series: none!

Goodreads description: Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Peaches comes a magical and bewitching story of the romance between a fearless heroine and the boy who wouldn’t grow up.

Tiger Lily was on my Summer TBR List, and I’ve been wanting to read it since it came out. I love all things Peter Pan, even though I’ve never actually read the original, oops. I do own it and plan on reading it! I saw from a lot of people that it was good and sad, so it seemed like something I definitely needed to read. After not getting it from my library, I was extremely happy to win a copy from Emily at Reader Rising!

We all know about Peter Pan and Wendy, and that Tiger Lily is in the background somewhere. This book tells Tiger Lily’s side of the story, and it’s told through Tinker Bell’s perspective, which is weird and interesting at the same time. In this adaptation, Neverland is a new world, apart from civilization instead of two stars from the right. They have tribes and tribal hierarchies. They have an agreement with the pirates. They fear Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, and they stay as far away as possible. In the tribe, Tiger Lily is an outsider, a wild and untamable girl. She’s the adopted daughter of Tik Tok, the town’s shaman/healer, who is also an outsider because he dresses and feels more like a woman than a man.

Tiger Lily is such an amazing character. She’s an outsider, and she’s drawn to other outsiders and they’re drawn to her. She’s fierce, but she’s also vulnerable, and the way this is portrayed felt so real to me. She struggled with the expectations for girls in her tribe, but it didn’t feel like she was anti-feminine. She is curious and wants to do things that aren’t normal for anyone in the tribe to do. She acts fearless, but you can see that she isn’t. She isn’t always good, and she makes mistakes.

“There was a beast in there. But there was also a girl who was afraid of being a beast, and who wondered if other people had bests in their hearts too. There was strength, and there was also just the determination to look strong. She guarded herself like a secret.”

In the beginning, Tinker Bell warns that it’s a love story, “but not like any you’ve heard.” Tiger Lily meets Peter Pan, a villain and madman in the eyes of her tribe. He isn’t like they say at all, (but he isn’t exactly a harmless, innocent creature either) and she finds something in him she wants and doesn’t understand how to grasp and keep.  Peter and Tiger Lily’s relationship is intense. Of course, he’s forbidden, and tribe politics are making her life more difficult all the time. Plus, there are pirates who want to kill Peter and the Lost Boys, and eventually a ship of Englanders brings Wendy and other problems. The story is complex

There are important characters that are difficult for me to include in this review, but I loved so many of them. Pine Sap, Moon Eye, and Tik Tok were so important to Tiger Lily, and they were characters I wanted to keep. The villains of the story were creepy and worrisome. All the characters felt real to me.

Some pieces of the story were frustrating for me, and I think it’s a realistic look at how life can be. There were times when I wanted the characters to act a certain way, and it seemed like it would be easy for them to take certain steps to change situations, but in actuality it probably wouldn’t have been that easy. Sometimes there’s just more to the story and the circumstances, and you can’t always act exactly how you want to act. In some cases it would have upset the status quo, and the tribe was just a different machine dealing with situations that were completely abnormal for them. I wanted there to be easy outs, and maybe in a nicer, less realistic place, that could have worked. The way it happens in the book might hurt, but I think it’s important and written really well.

A lot of mistakes were made, and at the end of the story Tiger Lily has to face her own mistakes as well as the mistakes of others. “She kept trying, in her head, to make someone right.” This book told the story in a way I didn’t expect it to, and the ending was especially lovely to me. The writing was lovely, and there are so many quotes that made me love the book even more. It definitely made me cry, I closed the book and kept crying for a while.

I really liked seeing from Tinker Bell’s point of view. It was really different. It could be frustrating because sometimes I wanted to dig inside Tiger Lily’s mind, but overall I think the distance was perfect and a clever way to tell the story. Plus, it also opens up a wider scope because she can observe a lot more as a fairy, and you get her own feelings about Peter.

“As a faerie, you can hear when something tugs at someone. It’s much like the sound of a low, deep note on a violin string.”

4 star rating

Tiger Lily is a lovely book that made me sad and happy at the same time. I loved Tiger Lily, I loved her flaws, her rage, and her unexpected softness. I loved the ending. I am so glad that I won it and have my own copy, because it is definitely a book I will want to read again! I plan on sharing it with some real life people so they will (hopefully) love it and discuss it with me. I will also look forward to more of the author’s work. I always feel bad at reviews because I never know how much to share or not, but I just loved this book. It’s probably not for everyone but I think Tiger Lily might work for you if you like retellings, honesty, hopefulness and a bit of heartbreak. 

Check out Jodi Lynn Anderson‘s goodreads and twitter!

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen [book review]

Scarlet coverScarlet by A.C.Gaughen
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Release Date: February 14th 2012
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Series: Scarlet #1

Goodreads description: Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance.

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

I have been wanting to read Scarlet since I heard about it. I’m not sure why I kept forgetting to pick it up. Lately, I’ve seen the sequel mentioned and that made me want to bump it up on my TBR list.

Scarlet is a female member of Robin Hood’s band of outlaws. Everyone outside of the group and not in the know calls her Will Scarlet and thinks she’s just another merry man. They know Scarlet is strong, fast, and capable. They know Scarlet steals from the rich to feed the poor and that Robin trusts Scarlet. They don’t know Scarlet wraps her chest, has long hair, and wears dresses to church each week.

The band is trying to save the over-taxed people of Nottingham from the Sheriff and Prince John’s evil schemes. Most of the details are the same: Robin is an earl, he went to the Middle East and fought in the Crusades with King Richard, and when he came home his lands and title were no longer his and the people that relied on him were being mistreated. He gathers a crew and they try to feed the people and fight the oppressors. In this story, Lord Guisborne is a thieftaker who has come to rid the Sheriff of his thief problem.

Scarlet is such a great character. She is smart and skilled. She has knives, she can climb, and she’s the most capable thief of the group. She’s also kind and she wants to help people. She pretends to be a male member of the gang, but she’s still feminine. I love that she liked having long hair. A lot of times when there’s a strong female warrior type, they seem to have to leave girlish aspects behing. I like that Scarlet got to keep hers.  She also had postive and understanding views of other women which is so nice to see. Especially in a historical fiction, and even more so because Scarlet goes to church. I also liked that she went to church, it felt realistic for her character.

“I suppose you want me to say what a tart she is. Or you are? But really, every time you climb in her window, you make her think that’s all she’s good for. Bess is a nice girl.”

Scarlet also has a secret past that nobody in the band knows. I feel likst I should have figured the twist out because when I read it I felt like it should have been really obvious. However, I think I was just enjoying the book so much I didn’t need to try to guess things, if that makes sense. I think it might be easy for most people to guess, but I don’t think it would be very disappointing if you figure it out before the reveal. I liked what it ended up being and it made a lot of sense for the story. Some of the reactions after certain characters found out all of it were annoying, but that’s another thing.

I had issues with the romance of the book. There’s a bit of a triangle and I thought it was unnecessary. Some of it was just awkward. I feel like one of the guys was just there to generate jealousy for the other one. I did like Scarlet’s sort of exploratory sense of dealing with the situation. I liked that she was never ashamed of her feelings and that she stood up for herself when the guys were trying to boss her around or be too protective. I really loved her views on so many things and I really just love her as a character. I actually did like the “real” romance a lot, too.

I was slightly disappointed by some of Robin’s behavior. He wasn’t completely awful, but he had some typical male views for the time period. It makes sense that someone from his background might feel that way, but he is an outlaw and he is usually portrayed as kind in modern tales. Sure, he has is issues and anger, but he’s trying to help his people, which is something he doesn’t have to do. I think his personal feelings cause him to say some things he might not actually mean, which everyone does, but it felt weak for him. I wish he would have used a different tactic, I guess. It wasn’t a huge deal, but it was a deal, if you know what I mean!

4 star rating

Scarlet was lovely. I love the girl, I love the world. I want more! I had a few issues, but overall I loved it. I borrowed this from the library but I definitely want to buy a copy as soon as I can. I will definitely be reading Lady Thief and the rest of the series! I recommend it to everyone but especially if you love females kicking ass while maintaining feminity and putting up with a merry band of outlaws.

Check out A.C.Gaughen‘s website and twitter!

Do you have any Robin Hood recs? I heard from Christina at You Book Me All Night Long that Robin McKinley’s The Outlaws of Sherwood is amazing. I’ve watched a lot of Robin Hood movies and the BBC show (where Harry Lloyd, my pretty, plays Will Scarlet) but I haven’t actually read much. Scarlet did have a list in the back of it, but I forgot to note them and I’d like recs I know people have enjoyed! 

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce [Book Review]

Sisters Red coverSisters Red by Jackson Pearce
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: June 7th 2010
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Series: Fairytale Retellings #1

Goodreads description: Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris–the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She’s determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.
Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls’ bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax and Scarlett’s only friend–but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they’ve worked for?

Sisters Red was also on my Summer TBR Top Ten. I’d been interested in it for a while because I love retellings and I liked Pearce’s Purity, which I read before I blogged. My mom picked it up for me at a “store” where teachers get free things ( books and school supplies) and I was excited.

Sisters Red is the story of Scarlett and Rosie March. They live in the country and their family hunts werewolves, also called Fenris. They lived with their grandma until “the big bad werewolf” came when Scarlett was eleven and Rosie was nine. Scarlett saved Rosie’s life while gaining some disfiguring scars and losing an eye in the process. Since that event, Scarlett has been obsessed with killing every possible Fenris. The sisters train to kill and kill werewolves and that is about it.

Scarlett’s woodsman best friend, Silas, helps them hunt but he’s been on a trip across the country for a year. Rosie wants to hunt on her own, but Scarlett is too protective. They dress up in red cloaks and pretend to be helpless to bait werewolves who prey on young girls. They find out that werewolf packs are congregating in nearby Atlanta because there’s a Potential (a potential werewolf, of course) in the area. They pack up and move to a crappy apartment in Atlanta to try to find and save the poor soul while killing as many Fenris as possible.

The sisters have a special bond. They feel like one person and they can share thoughts. Scarlett is older and focused on killing werewolves so they can’t kill or maim more people. She feels it is their responsibility because they know about the Fenris while others do not. Rosie also hates Fenris and wants to kill them, but that isn’t all she wants from life. She wants more normality, but she owes her life to Scarlett so she feels obligated to stick to hunting. Their bond is nice, but it’s also frustrating. They love each other a lot but they don’t talk things out very well.

When Silas returns, he and Rosie start seeing each other differently. The romance is a bit creepy, a little sad, and sickly sweet. She’s sixteen and he’s twenty-one. It doesn’t really go into creepy territory in the story, but Rosie also feels pretty young for sixteen. I think it has to do with how much time she spends with über focused Scarlett instead of other girls her own age. It gets a little too sweet for me, but Silas is always nice to her and encourages her to do what she what she is interested in, regardless of Scarlett’s demands. Rosie has hearts in her eyes like she’s never been around a guy before, but to be fair the only guys she has been around lately are werewolves that she’s aiming to kill. Silas and Rosie hide their romantic feelings from Scarlett because Scarlett is against anything that is Not Hunting. Her reasons are dumb, and if she was more worried about her little sister being with an older guy, it would be more understandable. Romance might distract from hunting, but you can still be a hunter if you’re romantically involved. Obviously, other hunters (her family) have had romances before or else she wouldn’t be alive.

Scarlett is selfish but she’s also caring. She loves her sister and she’s extremely protective. She doesn’t want Rosie to hunt alone, but she doesn’t want Rosie to do anything but hunt. She thinks it is their duty, but she also thrives on the hunt and relishes it. She thinks she needs to protect poor, helpless girls but she also despises them and judges them. She has to help them because she knows about werewolves, but she’s jealous of their freedom and their beauty. She and Silas are disturbing with their attitudes about young girls that end up being victims. Nobody is ever “asking” to be attacked and you’re not better than them because you expect bad things to happen. I think I would have liked Scarlett and Silas so much more and the book better if they weren’t so judgmental. Why even bother saving people you don’t seem to think are worthy of your protection? 

The lore with the Fenris/werewolves is different, interesting, and creepy. Not everyone that’s bitten becomes a werewolf, there is a certain aspect about a male (and only males) that enables them to be turned. Everyone else that gets bitten is injured or dies. The werewolves are vile and prey on young girls like twisted sexual predators and serial killers. I’m not sure the twist is even a twist, because it’s glaringly obvious. Figuring it out doesn’t really ruin anything in the story for you, though. 

There are some intense and exciting hunts and fights with werewolves in this book. Those scenes are also violent and can be gory. The fight scenes were fast-paced. I thought the climax of the story was exciting and thrilling.  There is a little bit of a side-eye at the last-minute, but I was willing to let it slide.

2.5 stars

Sisters Red had a lot of potential, but was a bit disappointing. The characters had likable moments but they were also frustrating and at times disturbing. The werewolf parts were exciting and I liked the writing. As a retelling, it isn’t that close to the Little Red Riding Hood story I’m familiar with, but using red cloaks to lure werewolves in was cool even if cloaks aren’t that modern. I’d recommend this book to someone who can handle some violence, victim-blaming and sisterly angst.

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Review: The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson

Ugly Stepsister CoverThe Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson
Goodreads | Amazon
Release Date: August 15th 2012
Publisher: Fire & Ice Books
Series: none
Rating: 4 star rating

Goodreads description:Everyone knows how all those fairy tales go. The princess gets beautiful, nabs her prince, falls instantly in love, lives happily ever after and leaves her evil stepsisters in the dust.

But what happens when you’re the ugly stepsister and your obnoxiously perfect—read pretty, smart, and, worst of all, sickeningly nice—stepsister is dating the charming, tall, devastatingly handsome guy you’ve had a thing for since you were nine years old?

Quirky, artistic and snarky Mattie Lowe does not lead a charmed life. Her mother is constantly belittling her on Skype. Mercedes, the school mean girl, has made it her personal mission to torment Mattie. But worst of all? Her stepsister Ella is the most beautiful, popular girl in school and is dating Mattie’s secret longtime crush, Jake Kingston.

Tired of being left out and done with waiting for her own stupid fairy godmother to show up, Mattie decides to change her life. She’ll start by running for senior class president against wildly popular Jake.

Ella can keep her Prince Annoying. Mattie’s going to rule the school.

And no one, not even a cute and suddenly flirty Jake, is going to stop her

In this retelling with a twist, Matilda “Mattie” Lowe is the ugly stepsister. She lives in a wealthy California community and goes to an exclusive prep school. She lives with her world renowned artist father and her stepsister Ella. Ella is perfect, which is offensive to Mattie. She even has a list of grievances about her: guys like her, she’s really nice, she cleans all the time, she’s a cheerleader and oh, yeah she’s dating the boy Mattie “loves.”

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