Tag «Shakespeare»

Single Sundays: Bright Ruined Things by Samantha Cohoe

Single Sundays: Bright Ruined Things by Samantha Cohoe

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Bright Ruined Things (from Goodreads):
The only life Mae has ever known is on the island, living on the charity of the wealthy Prosper family who control the magic on the island and the spirits who inhabit it. Mae longs for magic of her own and to have a place among the Prosper family, where her best friend, Coco, will see her as an equal, and her crush, Miles, will finally see her. Now that she’s eighteen, Mae knows her time with the Prospers may soon come to an end.

But tonight is First Night, when the Prospers and their high-society friends return to the island to celebrate the night Lord Prosper first harnessed the island’s magic and started producing aether – a magical fuel source that has revolutionized the world. With everyone returning to the island, Mae finally has the chance to go after what she’s always wanted.

When the spirits start inexplicably dying, Mae starts to realize that things aren’t what they seem. And Ivo, the reclusive, mysterious heir to the Prosper magic, may hold all the answers – including a secret about Mae’s past that she doesn’t remember. As Mae and her friends begin to unravel the mysteries of the island, and the Prospers’ magic, Mae starts to question the truth of what her world was built on.

Forbidden magic, a family secret, and a night to reveal it all…

breakdown

Author: Samantha Cohoe
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 15, 2022
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I stumbled upon this book when I was browsing new audiobook additions at my library and loved the cover. The concept seemed cool enough but when I read reviews on Goodreads that said it was a Tempest retelling, I was sold. I think it’s such an underrated Shakespeare play — but I promptly forgot that fact when I finally got to read it!

The Concept / The World:

So I definitely forgot it was inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest when I started reading. I would say it is a very loose retelling but the core of it is the same: a magically-naive girl stranded on a magic island is tempted for more when visitors appear on the magical island.

The Tempest as a play is about suffering, endurance, love and betrayal and I feel like there are elements of that here as well but with a shift of “who” is experiencing those emotions. To me, the broader message of this story was the cost of privilege and how much people are willing to pay (physically and emotionally) to maintain it.

I actually felt like this story was more the love child of Caraval (magic) and We Were Liars (family drama).

The Plot:

It took me a bit to figure out what was the actual plot of the story. The story moves a little slowly at the start as you learn about all the characters, the island and how the magic works. For me, the pacing was just off a bit with it all and I never got fully invested in the story or the plot.

The Characters:

In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Miranda (Prospero’s daughter) is extremely naive and oblivious to a lot of what is going on around her (besides her love interest). And while Mae does have a crush on Miles, her naivety doesn’t stop her from learning more about the island. But boy, is she a hard character to connect to. She was just all over the place for me with her actions and feelings. I understand that her world is literally crumbling around her but one minute she’d be brave in fighting for something, the next she would be a naive shell once more. There is something to be said about picking battles but I just got the impression she didn’t know what was happening more often then not.

There are a lot of side characters and some seem like they are haphazardly thrown in. I do wish Ivo had more screen time. He was very intriguing and I feel like we missed an opportunity.

The Romance:

It’s not often that I say a book should exclude the romance but I think this one might have been stronger without it. Again, it was wish-washy. Mae finds herself in a love triangle of sorts but it didn’t really add to the story in any way. I suppose it helped show her naivety? I dunno, I just really wish it was more or way less.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audiobook production was great. I really enjoyed listening to it and how all the various characters had distinct voices.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

I just felt like this book was a little too all over the place. Like it couldn’t make up its mind about how or what it wanted to do. It’s not a good sign when you end a book and go, what was the point?

Read if You Like: Tempest Retellings, magic
Avoid if You: want a stronger plot and heroine

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Series Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

Series Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for These Violent Delights (from Goodreads):

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.

breakdown

Series: These Violent Delights
Author: Chloe Gong
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Retelling, Historical Fiction, Romance, Drama, Action, Suspense
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: November 2020 – November 2021
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was drawn to this series for a few reasons: the cover never failed to catch my eye when I was browsing library titles and I love the title. I’m a huge Shakespeare nut so anything Shakespeare related and I am so there. But when I read that this book would be set in the 1920s in Shanghai–I was completely sold!

The Concept / The World:

I think Romeo and Juliet gets a bad rap when it comes to the general public. Everyone knows about the doomed, naïve lovers and I think they get a lot of flack for that in popular culture. But when you study the play or even see it acted out, it really is a much richer story than people give it credit for. Which makes it the perfect foundation for this particular series and the world it takes place in.

I thought the setting of 1926 Shanghai was so great! You’ve got the gang wars and the lack of our modern conveniences. But more importantly, you have the cultural inspiration of China and what it means to be loyal to your family and country. It just adds another rich layer to this retelling that stays true to the original work but shows how the play could have very easily taken place somewhere other than Italy.

The Plot:

I will admit to being a little disappointed in the first book because it wasn’t what I totally expected. There’s a lot of information to take in from the rival gangs, to the politics of the city to the various characters we meet. And perhaps listening to the audio version wasn’t the best choice because I might have missed some important details and not have noticed. However, I did find it suspenseful with the Science Fiction aspect of the “madness” and overall, it does do a great job of setting up the foundation for the sequel.

The sequel was great! I found it was nonstop in the action and plot twists. I also think the allusions to Romeo and Juliet are a little more obvious; though I like the unique takes we get on those elements. It isn’t a carbon copy of the original text by any means.

The Characters:

Juliette isn’t the naïve girl from the play. Sure, she has her weaknesses, but she can hold her own in a fight if she needed to with her cunning wit and her fighting skills. I enjoyed watching her character overcoming obstacles and growing from the past.

Roma is a little more of an enigma but again, another strong character who had some great growth.

I really enjoyed the side characters we met as well. I had a hard time in the first book keeping everyone straight but everyone was well developed.

The Romance:

I felt like the passionate romance was missing a bit in the first book. Perhaps that’s because Juliette and Roma spend more time apart then together. Other than the passing mentions of their previous love affair, I wasn’t entirely sold that their connection was this amazing thing that would have them contemplating betraying their families.

Things definitely improved in the final book though in that respect and I was very happy to see how it comes together there.

My Audiobook Experience:

I really enjoyed the audio production. While I think it might have stopped me from fully grasping what was happening all the time, it is well done. My only complaint is that when the narrator does Roma’s voice, the pitch can be super hard to hear so I found I was constantly adjusting the volume as I listened.

concSLOW

Series Rating: 3.5/5

These Violent Delights 3/5 | Our Violent Ends 4/5

overall

Overall, an original take on the classic Romeo and Juliet trope that will keep readers on their toes with its blending of Science Fiction and Historical Fiction.

Read if You Like: Romeo and Juliet retellings, forbidden love
Avoid if You: dislike Shakespeare retellings

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Single Sundays: Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E K Johnston

Single Sundays: Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E K Johnston

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Exit, Pursued by a Bear (from Goodreads):

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of… she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Author: E K Johnston
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge Shakespeare nut so anything that links back to the Bard has my full attention. Arguably one of the best stage directions of all time comes from The Winter’s Tale and it is the title of this book. While I didn’t love the last (and only other) E K Johnston book I read, the subject matter of this one is vastly different so I went in with an open mind.

The Concept / The World:

I studied The Winter’s Tale in University, I’ve seen the play and the ballet version of it so I’m fairly familiar with it all. But other than the fact that her name is Herimone, I didn’t really see all the allusions that I wanted to. Perhaps it has been a long time since I read the play so I missed stuff.

What I will say: it was super cool to–literally–have a book set in my neck of the woods. Most of the books I read take place in the United States with the rare book that takes place in Toronto. But this takes place in rural Ontario which is where I am from so that was pretty neat.

The Plot:

There are a lot of positives to how this book handles the various topics it brings up. Compared to some other novels I’ve read in the past, Herimone definitely has a different reaction to her situation, though that doesn’t make it any less valid. In some ways it was refreshing to be reminded that everyone handles a trauma differently.

But in some ways, for a book that is grounded in realism, I thought things fell into place just a little too easily for everyone. Or perhaps I’m just not convinced that the way it ended was the right way for the story to wrap-up.

The Characters:

Like I said, Herimone wasn’t what I expected given the subject matter but good on E K Johnston for showing a different heroine. She definitely didn’t fit in a neat little box like she’s billed as when you first meet her at cheerleader camp.

What I also really liked is that there was a great emphasis on friendships and how they can evolve after it affects a member of the group. It’s a ripple effect when a sexual assault happens and I think we sometimes forget about that.

My Audiobook Experience:

If you are someone who struggles with capturing emotion through written text alone, definitely get the audiobook. It’s a short listen but definitely packs a punch!

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you are someone who is sensitive to rape and/or sexual assaults in novels, use discretion when picking this up. But I think this is a great read to remind people that trauma affects everyone in different ways and it isn’t afraid to talk about the various components and aftermath with candour.

Read if You Like: realistic fiction
Avoid if You: are triggered by sexual assaults in novels

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Series Review: Starcrossed by Leisa Rayven

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Bad Romeo by Leisa Rayven | Starcrossed Series

Other books in the series:
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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Fav Read 2015, Must Read Author, Fav Read 2016
Series: Starcrossed
Author: Leisa Rayven
# of Books: 3 (Bad Romeo, Broken Juliet, Wicked Heart)

There are a few short stories. See the full reading list here.

Book Order: Chronological; Wicked Heart is Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Drama, Second Chances, New Adult, Humour
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: December 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–hardcover, eBook; Wicked Hearts – NetGalley eARC

Thoughts:

This review was original published as a Fresh Friday feature and has seen been updated to a full Series Review.

I read anything with a hint of Shakespeare so it’s no surprise I picked up this book given its title. I can’t remember how I learned of its existence but when I did, I added it to my hold-list at the library. However, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book–I’m not the biggest fan of second chance romances–but when I actually had it in my hands and saw that 3 of my favourite authors had given it high praise, I was really excited to read it.

When I was reading this book, I had to read another book at the same time so I budgeted to read this book over a few days, just a little bit at a time. That was hard to stick to because I really got into this story (as well as the other book I was reading!)! I love enemy-to-lover storylines and it has been so long since I read one that I instantly fell for this one. It also doesn’t hurt that Cassie is a funny heroine and Ethan is a suave jackass (my favourite hero characteristic). That made reading this book so easy and fun!

I think my favourite part about this book is that it has two congruent storylines: Cassie and Ethan’s past plus Cassie and Ethan’s present. It was almost like reading two stories at once, one that is a contemporary adult romance (the present) and a new adult romance (the past). When you read the present, you are trying to figure out what exactly Ethan did to break Cassie’s heart and you hate him a bit for making her feel that way. BUT at the same time, you watch them fall in love in the past and you can’t help but root for them in the present. It really kept me on my toes trying to get to the bottom of their “torrid” affair and I enjoyed every minute of it!

What I loved about the romance was all the sexual tension. I adore sexual tension in my novels and Bad Romeo had it in buckets. It’s far from erotica–meaning there aren’t copious amounts of sex scenes–but there are a lot of foreplay (that’s the best word I can come up with besides “heavy make out scenes”) scenes which I thought was really great because you actually got to see their emotional relationship together and not just their physical attraction.

As for the Shakespeare element, it isn’t overly in your face besides them acting in the play. I’m sure there are some parallel connections but it isn’t a retelling of Romeo and Juliet in anyway–so if that was turning you off of reading this, please think about reading it again!

I was kinda hoping Broken Juliet was going to be an alternate POV retelling when I picked up Bad Romeo but it is a continuation of the story. I’m glad it is the conclusion because I would hate to see this story dragged out! I’m really looking forward to getting some closure with these two and seeing what is in store for them in the next novel.

updates

–August 5, 2015– Book 2: Broken Juliet

I simply could not put down this book! It  was intense, romantic and had such a great pacing to it! I loved the focus on the relationship and how it promoted healthy relationships and communication in those relationships. I really thought I would get bored and feel like the story was dragged out considering this is a sequel in a second chance romance. SO NOT THE CASE!

Leisa Rayven has done a superb job writing this novel! If this book had been written with the past in one whole book and the present in the sequel, this series would have lost me. But because we get these two stories simultaneously, it just hooks you in! You root for these characters, you want to slap these characters and you fall in love with this characters. I was just as engrossed in their present story as I was their past and that is what gives makes it a 5 star read for me!

I’m soooooooooooooooooo stoked for the new book in the series, Wicked Heart! I thought this series was going to be a duology (which it is in terms for Ethan and Cassie’s story) but I can’t wait to read Elissa’s story! Gah!

–April 16, 2016– Book 3: Wicked Heart

disclaimernetgalley

You have no idea how excited I was when Wicked Heart was uploaded to NetGalley–and you can’t even imagine how ecstatic I was when my wish was granted to read it! I’ve been waiting for this book for a long time and I had high expectations and guess what:

This book was AMAZING!

I was really looking forward to Elissa’s story and I was not disappointed! It was funny, amazingly sweet, had tons of palpable sexual tension with just the right amount of angst and it was very, very addicting. I easily could have finished this book in one sitting but ya know, I had to study for exams.

I’m not normally a fan of second chance romances but Leisa Rayven writes ones that make me a believer and a fan. This book follows a similar set-up to the previous books but definitely has its own unique charms and features to set itself apart. It had me laughing one minute, crying the next and squealing in delight. I was easily won over by Elissa and Liam.

In short: this book was contemporary romance perfection and a must read!

Series Rating: 5/5

Bad Romeo 4.5/5 | Broken Juliet 5/5 | Wicked Heart 5/5

overall

If you like books with a dash of humour and loads of sexual tension, this IS the series for you! It reads like a Christina Lauren novel but with less emphasis on sex and more on the connection and relationship between the two leads (though there are definitely enough romantic scenes 😉 ). Even if you don’t like Shakespeare but love contemporary romances, this is great! One of my all-time favourites!

Read if You Like: relationship-focused romances, passion, second chance romances
Avoid if You: don’t like flashbacks, want more than a relationship focused plot

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Synopsis for Bad Romeo (from Goodreads):
When Cassie Taylor met Ethan Holt at acting school, sparks flew. She was the good girl actress. He was the bad boy about campus. But one fated casting choice for Romeo and Juliet changed it all. Like the characters they were playing, Cassie and Ethan’s romance seemed destined. Until he broke her heart and betrayed her trust. Now the A-list heartthrob is back in her life and turning her world around. One touch at a time.

Cast as romantic leads once again, they’re forced to confront raw memories of the heartbreaking lows and pulse-pounding highs of their secret college affair. But they’ll also discover that people who rub each other the wrong way often make the best sparks.

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Series Review: Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay

Series: Juliet Immortal
Author: Stacey Jay
# of Books: 2 (Juliet Immortal, Romeo Redeemed)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Supernatural, Shakespeare, Immortals
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person

Thoughts:

I’m a sucker for anything Shakespeare so when I see books that are retellings of Shakespeare or involve his stories in some way, I am so there. So it’s no surprise I would pick this book up as soon as it was released.

I enjoyed Juliet Immortal but not as much as I hoped. It was good and had a cool spin on the whole story but I found the spin was a little confusing at time. I didn’t totally understand the immortal part of the books so I found that a little frustrating. I’m not sure if I just read it too fast causing me to not understand it or if it was the way it was written. Either way, I felt a little in the dark at times. I also didn’t totally love Juliet as a character. She had her moments where I really liked her and then moments where I didn’t. I also found it hard to reconcile the fact that Romeo and Juliet were “enemies” and not love-struck fools.

I actually enjoyed Romeo Redeemed a lot more. Again, it was a cool spin and I found it easier to follow along with it. I also like the message of the story a lot more and the characters. The romance was better in this story I thought which made me like it more.

Conclusion:

An interesting and refreshing spin on the classic tale that Shakespeare and supernatural fans will enjoy.

Rating: 4/5

Similar Reads: Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle

Synopsis for Juliet Immortal (from Goodreads):
The most tragic love story in history . . .

Juliet Capulet didn’t take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, a sacrifice made to ensure his own immortality. But what Romeo didn’t anticipate was that Juliet would be granted eternity, as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For 700 years, she’s fought Romeo for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Until the day she meets someone she’s forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love.

“These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which as they kiss consume.”
—Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Single Sundays: Juliet by Anne Fortier

Single Sundays: Juliet by Anne Fortier

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Juliet (from Goodreads):
Twenty-five-year-old Julie Jacobs is heartbroken over the death of her beloved Aunt Rose. But the shock goes even deeper when she learns that the woman who has been like a mother to her has left her entire estate to Julie’s twin sister. The only thing Julie receives is a key—one carried by her mother on the day she herself died—to a safety-deposit box in Siena, Italy.

This key sends Julie on a journey that will change her life forever—a journey into the troubled past of her ancestor Giulietta Tolomei. In 1340, still reeling from the slaughter of her parents, Giulietta was smuggled into Siena, where she met a young man named Romeo. Their ill-fated love turned medieval Siena upside-down and went on to inspire generations of poets and artists, the story reaching its pinnacle in Shakespeare’s famous tragedy.

But six centuries have a way of catching up to the present, and Julie gradually begins to discover that here, in this ancient city, the past and present are hard to tell apart. The deeper she delves into the history of Romeo and Giulietta, and the closer she gets to the treasure they allegedly left behind, the greater the danger surrounding her—superstitions, ancient hostilities, and personal vendettas. As Julie crosses paths with the descendants of the families involved in the unforgettable blood feud, she begins to fear that the notorious curse—“A plague on both your houses!”—is still at work, and that she is destined to be its next target. Only someone like Romeo, it seems, could save her from this dreaded fate, but his story ended long ago. Or did it?

breakdown

Author: Anne Fortier
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Historical, Mystery
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 24, 2010
Source & Format: Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read this book a long time ago after a co-worker recommended it to me. I got my hands on a local library copy and I ended up loving the book so much that I went out and bought it for my own personal collection.

As you may or may not know, I am a huge Shakespeare nut. Any fiction involving Shakespeare and I am there! I recently went to see Romeo and Juliet at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario, Canada (if you ever get the chance to attend, do! They put on amazing productions ever year!). Amazing play and this production was awesome! So awesome it made me think about this book and I hope to reread it very soon!

But, back to the book 😉

The World:

This book is basically two stories in one. One follows the present day Juliet while the other follows the “original” Juliet. You can tell Ms. Fortier has done her research because the story that takes place in 1340 is rich in detail about the time and about the play Romeo and Juliet. My mom–who I made read this book–made the comment after the play about a gold statue saying she forgot it was in the play when she read about it in the book. Fortier does a fabulous job with tying the two worlds together and this makes the book super enjoyable to read.

The Plot:

Another bonus was the mystery and suspense. I find with some books that have regular “flashbacks” to the past, I tend to enjoy one story more than the other so I dread the respective POV. That was not the case here. I was equally addicted to both and that made this book super hard to put down. While I had suspicions about how the book was going to play–no pun intended–out (I mean, we all know how Romeo and Juliet ends, right?) I found it wasn’t predictable which always makes me happy. The plot was a little DaVinci Code-esque in its delivery but with Shakespeare which I thought was cool.

The Characters:

I really liked the characters and Juliet–either of them–didn’t annoy me (unlike the Juliet in Shakespeare’s play) so win!

My Rating: 5/5

overall

You don’t have to like Shakespeare to like this book. If you enjoy mysteries, books with suspense and a dash of romance, you will enjoy this one! I highly recommend it!

Read if You Like: single dad heroes, office romances
Avoid if You: want erotica, want a longer novel

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Series Review: Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: #7 of Favourite Series List
Series: Wondrous Strange Trilogy

The spin-off series is called Starling that takes place after these novels

Author: Lesley Livingston
# of Books: 3 (Wondrous Strange, Darklight, Tempestuous)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Faeries, Shakespeare, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool

Thoughts:

This series is one that I could reread again and again–I actually borrowed all the books from the library and then decided to buy them all because I enjoyed them so much. It was with this series that Lesley Livingston became a must-read author for me.

If you have read some of my other reviews, you know that I am a Shakespeare nut. Anything with his name and I am there; so to pick up this book was a no brainer. I also enjoy books with Faeries (ie. The Wicked Lovely Series which is another personal favourite series) so I was intrigued to how Faeries would be portrayed in this book (as they tend to vary in series). It seemed like an awesome combo so I was excited to begin.

Obviously, I am happy to say that this series did not disappoint! It has everything I enjoy in a series, like action, romance, plot twists and great characters. Each book in the series has a great, solid story. Unlike some series that have weaker books in order to progress, I found that these books built upon each other to reach a final climax. I was never bored with the series because there is enough going on to grab your attention.

I really liked Kelley as the heroine. She was strong, independent and most importantly intelligent. She wasn’t catty or whiney and if she didn’t like something she made ever effort to change it herself. Sonny was fantastic too. A totally swoon worthy hero and I liked the relationship that develops between them. Both characters were consistent in their delivery throughout the series (ie. they didn’t do a 180 in the second book to become a different character) which is a huge bonus for me.

Although Shakespeare plays a big role in the background information of the story, it isn’t necessary to know A Midsummer Night’s Dream by heart to get a feel for the book or understand what is going on. Livingston weaves all her story elements together so well that it’s easy to follow. I really appreciate her ability to weave and create worlds and it’s what makes her work so enjoyable in my opinion.

Conclusion:

A great paranormal young adult read for those who like unpredictable stories. Romance isn’t the primary focus of this novel but neither is Shakespeare. It is mostly a book about Faeries and the Otherworld. I highly recommend getting all three books at once when you plan to read as there is details in earlier books that it is nice to remember when you read the next one.

Rating: 5/5

Similar Reads: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (The Wicked Lovely Series) and The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (The Iron Fey Saga) and Starling by Lesley Livingston

Synopsis for Wondrous Strange (from Goodreads):
17 year-old Kelley Winslow doesn’t believe in Faeries. Not unless they’re the kind that you find in a theatre, spouting Shakespeare—the kind that Kelley so desperately wishes she could be: onstage, under lights, with a pair of sparkly wings strapped to her shoulders. But as the understudy in a two-bit, hopelessly off-off-Broadway production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, wishing is probably the closest she’s going to get to becoming a Faerie Queen. At least, that’s what she thinks… In this fun, urban fantasy, Kelley’s off-stage life suddenly becomes as complicated as one of Shakespeare’s plot twists when a nighttime trip to Central Park holds more than meets the mortal eye.

Single Sundays: Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle

Single Sundays: On Sundays, I review a stand-alone book that is not a part of a series. Here is this week’s offering:

Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
Miranda has Shakespeare in her blood: she hopes one day to become a Shakespearean actor like her famous parents. At least, she does until her disastrous performance in her school’s staging of The Taming of the Shrew. Humiliated, Miranda skips the opening-night party. All she wants to do is hide.

Fellow cast member, Stephen Langford, has other plans for Miranda. When he steps out of the backstage shadows and asks if she’d like to meet Shakespeare, Miranda thinks he’s a total nutcase. But before she can object, Stephen whisks her back to 16th century England—the world Stephen’s really from. He wants Miranda to use her acting talents and modern-day charms on the young Will Shakespeare. Without her help, Stephen claims, the world will lost its greatest playwright.

Miranda isn’t convinced she’s the girl for the job. Why would Shakespeare care about her? And just who is this infuriating time traveler, Stephen Langford? Reluctantly, she agrees to help, knowing that it’s her only chance of getting back to the present and her “real” life. What Miranda doesn’t bargain for is finding true love . . . with no acting required.

Review:

I am a huge Shakespeare nut. In university, I took an introduction to Shakespeare course as my elective and every year I see at least 2 of his plays. So needless to say, if I see a book that is based on a Shakespeare story or has Shakespeare in the title/plot summary–I am there.  So I am happy to say that I very much enjoyed this book!

One thing I really enjoyed about this was the history within it. Mingle’s writing makes me feel like I am living in that exact moment of history. Especially with respect to the history of Catholic and Protestant religions in Britain. I had studied that in school and I felt that she captured that history incredibly well. She is descriptive enough to allow you to create the world in your head but not so descriptive that you are skimming the paragraph to get on with the story. It is the perfect balance which makes this book so enjoyable to read.

You don’t have to be a Shakespeare nut to like this book. It has very little to do with his plays and focuses more on what his life was like back in his time. There is a bit of mystery and suspense, and of course, romance but it mostly focuses on the history.

That might be why people don’t like this book. If you don’t enjoy history focused novels, you might want to avoid this one. You might not like the heroine either. I didn’t particularly love Miranda–she wasn’t as annoying to me as some other heroines but I didn’t find anything that I particularly liked about her.

The book ended pretty suddenly in my opinion (it might have been because I was tired when I finished it though :P). I also like a little bit more closure in my books so I wouldn’t hate the idea of a sequel but it really isn’t necessary.

Conclusion:

I really enjoyed this book. I liked the history of it all but that history might not appeal to everyone so be warned!

Rating: 3.5/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult, Time Travel, Shakespeare
Recommended for: 16+
Similar Books: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly; Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier (Ruby Red Trilogy) and Juliet by Anne Fortier

Book Review: The Taming by Teresa Toten

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
Katie likes to believe she’s invisible. It seems much safer than being exposed as she is–shy, poor, awkward. So getting up on stage in the school production of The Taming of the Shrew should be complete torture. But as Katie tells it, something totally unexpected happened when she stepped on stage: “My head exploded. I loved it. Acting hit me like a sucker punch and I loved, loved, loved it! . . . Invisible Katie became visible Katharina.”

Evan Cooper is, as they say, another story. He knows just what it takes to get noticed, and he uses every one of the skills he’s honed after years of being the new kid. Like tossing the keys to his father’s high-end Audi to a kid he’s never met, first day of school. “I have insurance for car theft,” he explains to a shocked Danny. “And there’s a full tank.” An abuse of the power that comes with privilege and money? Sure.

But more dangerously, is his romance with Katie another version of the same thing? Or is it the real thing?

Review:

This book wasn’t what I thought it was going to be after reading the description from Goodreads. I was expecting a lighter story; a typical “rich boy goes after shy girl” type of romance story. Maybe I just didn’t read the summary too carefully but the description on the back of the book was more accurate to what the story actually is.

The themes in it the were darker as it deals with various forms of abuse but it was done in a way that is completely realistic and believable.

The parallels to The Taming of the Shrew in the modern world really add to the story. Maybe because I am a Shakespeare-nut and am familiar with the story that I can see what the author was doing and can appreciate it. Those who may not be too familiar with the story may not get it right away but the major plot ideas from The Taming of the Shrew are explained in the book so you won’t be completely lost.

I also liked the fact that the story was told in part by Evan. While I feel that Shakespeare’s play focuses on the abuse of women, Evan’s presence in the book shows the affect abuse can have on males and children living in abusive homes.

My only complaint about the book was the way it ended. I would have liked an epilogue or some sort of wrap-up because I really want to know how these characters grow from this.

Conclusion:

In short, if you enjoy books that aren’t filled with the typical “high school soap opera drama” and are comfortable reading about abuse in family and romantic relationships then this book is worth a read.

Rating: 4/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult; High School; Shakespeare; Abuse
Recommended for: 16+
Similar Books: nothing immediately comes to mind