Friday, February 8, 2019

Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer {review}

Echo North
by Joanna Ruth Meyer
♦publisher: Page Street Kids
♦release date: January 15th, 2019
♦hardcover, 389 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
Echo Alkaev’s safe and carefully structured world falls apart after her father leaves for the city and mysteriously disappears. Believing he is lost forever, Echo is shocked to find him half-frozen in the winter forest six months later, guarded by a strange talking wolf—the same creature who attacked her as a child. The wolf presents Echo with an offer: for her to come and live with him for a year. But there is more to the wolf than Echo realizes.

In his enchanted house beneath a mountain, Echo discovers centuries-old secrets, a magical library full of books-turned-mirrors, and a young man named Hal who is trapped inside of them. As the year ticks by, Echo must solve the mystery of the wolf’s enchantment before her time is up—otherwise Echo, the wolf, and Hal will be lost forever.

{My Thoughts}

Beautiful.  Absolutely gorgeous writing and storytelling. From the moment I started this, I was lured in and completely enchanted until the final page. Echo North definitely exuded the feel of fairy tales of old. Grimm, Anderson,'ll expect to find this one tucked in among these collections. The language, the atmosphere, the determination of the heroine. It all melds together to unfold this special story of redemption and love. 

In this retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon, Echo Alkaev finds herself fleeing her home and tricked into living with the mysterious wolf who seems to have followed her through life since he scarred her as a child. What she finds is an enchanted house containing dangerous rooms that must be bound by a magical thread. Toward the middle the story ambles a bit, but I never felt bored. Echo's bond with the wolf is in constant flux as she works to both uncover his secrets and save him from his own imprisonment in the house. each door reveals a new secret, and her world opens up even wider with the discovery of the mysterious library of mirrors. The second part takes on a wildly unexpected turn---the whole feel and direction of the story shoots off in an expected direction. It was a little jarring but surprising and exciting as well! 

Such a great story and I definitely plan on reaching for more from this author in the future, and possible checking out her debut, Beneath the Haunting Sea, as well! 

{About The Author}

Joanna Ruth Meyer hails from Mesa, Arizona, where she lives with her dear family, a rascally feline, and an enormous grand piano. When she’s not writing, she’s trying to convince her students that Bach is actually awesome, or plotting her escape from the desert. She loves good music, thick books, looseleaf tea, rainstorms, and staring out of windows. One day, she aspires to own an old Victorian house with creaky wooden floors and a tower (for writing in, of course!).

Purchase the book:  Indiebound  •  BookDepository  •  Amazon

source: book provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. A spin-off of the meme called "Can't Wait Wednesday" is now hosted at Wishful Endings. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

by Shea Enrshaw

hitting shelves November 5th, 2019  
from Simon Pulse
Be careful of the dark, dark wood . . .

Especially the woods surrounding the town of Fir Haven. Some say these woods are magical. Haunted, even.

Rumored to be a witch, only Nora Walker knows the truth. She and the Walker women before her have always shared a special connection with the woods. And it’s this special connection that leads Nora to Oliver Huntsman—the same boy who disappeared from the Camp for Wayward Boys weeks ago—and in the middle of the worst snowstorm in years. He should be dead, but here he is alive, and left in the woods with no memory of the time he’d been missing.

But Nora can feel an uneasy shift in the woods at Oliver’s presence. And it’s not too long after that Nora realizes she has no choice but to unearth the truth behind how the boy she has come to care so deeply about survived his time in the forest, and what led him there in the first place. What Nora doesn’t know, though, is that Oliver has secrets of his own—secrets he’ll do anything to keep buried, because as it turns out, he wasn’t the only one to have gone missing on that fateful night all those weeks ago.

My thoughts:  I have been waiting on the edge of my seat for a cover and more details on this book---and it's finally here!! Guys, The Wicked Deep was my favorite book of last year, hands down. Glorious writing, super eerie storytelling and I can't wait to drown myself in more of Shea's beautiful words. 

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?

Friday, February 1, 2019

Grim Lovelies by Megan Shephard {review}

Grim Lovelies
by Megan Shephard
♦publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
♦release date: October 2nd, 2018
♦hardcover, 376 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦series: Grim Lovelies, book 1
♦source: from publisher for honest review
Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love. But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human. Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittora, the evil witch who spelled her into existence. That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood—and Anouk is accused of the crime.

Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away. If they fail, they will lose the only lives they’ve ever known…but if they succeed, they could be more powerful than anyone ever bargained for.

From New York Times bestselling author Megan Shepherd, Grim Lovelies is an epic and glittering YA fantasy. Prepare to be spellbound by the world of Grim Lovelies, where secrets have been long buried, friends can become enemies, and everything—especially humanity—comes at a price.

{My Thoughts}

This one was a charmer, but also a little lighter than I expected? There were parts of Grim Lovelies that I really loved, and parts that I thought were just so-so. The Paris setting is enchanting; I loved Anouk's curiosity in the new world she discovers outside her life of servitude--our world but new to her eyes.  Throw in the magical and dangerous touches that regular humans don't see and you get the darkly glamorous setting for Anouk's adventure to free herself and her friends. 

Anouk starts out a bit meek. Though she is curious about what goes on outside the house she was made in, she is quite comfortable to stay where she thinks she is safe, serving a witch who is quite cruel to her with a kind of love-hungry gratitude.  Then a mysterious run-in with the prince of the Haute forces to her wonder about her place in the magical world, and when the Witch turns up dead, her entire world is upended. She'll be forced to lean on her friends and fellow beasties to find a little fierceness inside herself and keep them all from turning back into animals. 

The story unfolds at a fast pace---it helps that the plot is a literal countdown to midnight! You can feel the intensity as the dreaded hour closes in. I really enjoyed getting to know the array of characters and all their wildly different personalities. From witches to goblins to topiary bears, this one keeps the excitement high until the very end. There are also quite a few good laughs in this story, usually provided by my favorite snarky character, Cricket, and most definitely with a funny turn of events with the ever egotistical Viggo.  

Where it faltered for me was the love story. I felt the direction of the romance was at first a little misleading, and then the awkward feelings between her and Beau started up, but it was definitely missing any amount of chemistry. The story didn't really need it, and in the end it felt a little out of place and forced. 

Still a wonderful entertaining story and, with the way it ended, I am definitely looking forward to the follow-up, Midnight Beauties, and hoping for some sort of miraculous magical turnaround on the fate of a few of these characters!

{About The Author}

New York Times bestselling author Megan Shepherd grew up in her family’s independent bookstore in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She is the author of several young adult and middle grade novels. She now lives and writes on a 125-year-old farm outside Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband, two cats, and an especially scruffy dog.

Purchase the book:  Indiebound  •  BookDepository  •  Amazon