Friday, August 5, 2016

Beauty and the Clockwork Beast Review

Jane Eyre meets Beauty and the Beast. 

When Lucy Pickett arrives at Blackwell Manor to tend to her ailing cousin, Kate, she finds more than she bargained for. A restless ghost roams the hallways, werewolves have been reported in the area, and vampires lurk across the Scottish border. Lord Miles himself is clearly hiding a secret. He is brash and inhospitable, and does not take kindly to visitors—even one as smart and attractive as Miss Pickett. He is unsettled by the mysterious deaths of his new wife, Clara, and his sister, Marie. Working together, Miles and Lucy attempt to restore peace to Blackwell Manor. But can Lucy solve the mystery of Miles? Can she love the man—beast and all?

My Review:

Four out of five stars

I was super excited when I found out about this book. A clean steampunk romance made me so happy. The premise of the story borrows elements from the more traditional beast stories, Jane Eyre, and some classic steampunk tropes, blending them in an interesting new way. Werewolves and vampires make an appearance, but with some twists that kept me thoroughly engaged, especially since a vampire is at the heart of the murders the smart, but proper Lucky Pickett is determined to solve. Her cousin’s life, threatened by some automatons programmed with dastardly instructions, leads her to the heart of the secrets surrounding not only Blackwell Manor, but also the taciturn, yet handsome, Lord Miles.

I thought Miles and Lucy did a great job of balancing each other out, and while both followed familiar character formulas, they have enough unique traits to make them their own people. I thought the world was very well imagined, and I found myself disturbed at the thought of vampires able to hide among their unsuspecting victims, and those cursed to shift hunted merely for spite from the uneducated. The mystery was intriguing and kept me interested.

There were a couple things that bugged me. I felt Lucy’s analytical personality was a bit overdone in some places. She would be crying, but holding on a logical conversation at the same time. I found that a bit jarring. Her detached tone used to describe everything going on made me feel like I was being told many things happened, without seeing much evidence myself, or maybe I just missed the hints and clues. Besides the tone, I felt some things were revealed early, and would have upped the tension to have remained a mystery a bit longer, like Lord Miles’ secrets. But that’s just a personal note.

Overall an interesting steampunk world that makes me hope she write another book, maybe to reveal the mysteries surrounding the other men in Lucy’s life.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Winter's Heir Review

A price must be paid.

Elice has left behind the ice and isolation of winter. Before her is the warmth and wonder of summer with all its color and life. Adar, the young man she saved from the sea, is by her side, and his touch sends tendrils of heat where before there was only cold. 

But all is not as it seems. There are secrets hidden in the heart of summer. Secrets that could burn Elice to the ground and take the whole world with her. The decades-long war between the fairies of winter and summer has thrown off the balance of nature, leaving the world in its death throes. 

Adar believes Elice can stop the destruction—if only she will listen to him. But like the fairies’ bargains, that trust comes with a cost. And the price Elice will pay will tear asunder the boundaries between dreams and family, loyalty and betrayal.

My Review: 

5 out of 5 stars

I’ve waited for the last book in the Faery Queen series forever! It doesn’t disappoint. Winter’s Heir picks up right after the events of Daughter of Winter. Adar’s identity as prince of the summer kingdom is revealed and Elice is taken to Nelay’s court to be held until her mother agrees to cease fighting. Furious at Adar, Elice refuses to believe the Sundering nonsense he warns of, but does find herself drawn to the warm and heat of summer. When a dangerous deal with the Summer Queen goes wrong, both Adar and Elice flee, attempting to stop the land from tearing itself apart. But though capable of wielding the magic of winter and summer, they don’t stand a chance against the magic’s intent to restore the Balance if they can’t learn to trust each other first.

A great ending to a stunning series. The book finishes the arc started in Winter Queen, and reveals the faeries’ master plan. The many twists and turns in the deals and counterdeals left me wondering who was trying to outmaneuver who, and who lost in the end. The descriptions were rich and pulled me into a world of uncaring magic, and the lives of people who try to navigate around it. I loved how the message of overcoming darkness has been prevalent throughout the series, and especially in this book. I also love how Argyle always portrays women of such courage and strength. Cinder and her family’s history made me realize how fortunate I am, and how many women haven’t, and still don’t have the rights I often take for granted. The ending made me cry, I was so happy for both Ilyenna and Nelay, who were manipulated into becoming who they did. Of course, life is never black and white, so there is a bit of bitterness in the end as well, a foretelling that the magic isn’t done with humanity yet.

If you like the rich description and magic of high fantasy, and spicy kisses, you’ll love the entire series.