ARC Review: Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

vassa in the night

Vassa in the Night
Author: Sarah Porter
Release Date: Sept. 20, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Fairytale Retelling
Series: N/A
Rating: B+

Brooklyn is cursed and people barely seem to notice. A single night in Brooklyn can last for what amounts to days in the outside world. Vassa and her step-sisters spend the long nights fighting off boredom with movies and books. When all the lights suddenly burn out in their apartment, Vassa is sent to the only store that remains open the whole night, BY’s.

BY’s dances on chicken legs within a circle of decapitated heads. A warning to potential shoplifters of what will happen to them if they attempt to steal anything. For Vassa, who has always been wrongfully perceived as a kleptomaniac, it’s suicide to step inside. Wanting to prove everyone wrong, she takes the chance.  When Vassa is inevitably accused of shoplifting, the owner of BY’s makes a deal. If Vassa can work three nights in the store without messing up, she’ll be free go home. Vassa quickly learns that the store and it’s inhabitants has no desire to play fair. To survive, she’ll need to rely on some unlikely allies. Continue reading

Review: Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix

newts emerald

Newt’s Emerald
Author: Garth Nix
Published: 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: N/A
Rating: B+

Newt’s Emerald is a stand-alone young adult book that takes place in a fantasy historical setting. I picked it up because it sounded like a fun and light romp.

On her 18th birthday, Lady Truthful’s enchanted emerald is stolen right from under her nose. While the emerald is supposed to only work for the women in her family, in the wrong hands it could still be exploited. So, she takes it upon herself to find the emerald. Disguised as a man, Lady Truthful takes to the streets to track down the thief. But first, she has to dodge the suspicion of Major Hartnett who suspects her of being a spy. Continue reading

Review: Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky

kill the boy band

Kill the Boy Band
Author: Goldy Moldavsky
Genre: Young Adult
Series: N/A
Rating: C –

Kill the Boy Band” is a stand alone YA book from a debut author. I couldn’t resist this one, primarily because of the title. It seems like every teen generation has at least one major boy band that they get obsessed about. So, I was entertained by the idea of a group of teens accidentally killing them.

The narrator of this book likes to give fake names to everyone, so I can’t remember if we ever got her actual name. The names she gives out are all from 80’s teen movies (Samantha Baker, Sloane Peterson, etc.). She’s also a compulsive liar, so what she’s telling us is rather unreliable. I rather liked this, but the story fell a little short for me. I was expecting more of a farce, but this book tried to get a little too real with the plot. Continue reading

Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik


Author: Naomi Novik
Published: 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: N/A
Rating: B+

I had been hearing so many rave reviews about “Uprooted” that I had to give it a shot. Luckily, this one didn’t let me down. I inhaled the book in only two sittings, which is a rarity for me nowadays.

Agnieszka never expected to be the one chosen as sacrifice to the Dragon. She, and everyone in the village, expected beautiful Kasia to be selected. So, it’s a shock when the Dragon selects Agniezka to live with him for 10 years.

The Dragon is a wizard in charge of keeping the corruption of the Wood at bay. In return for his service, he asks that the village allow one young lady to live with him for 10 years. At the end of those years, the women return but are always different and never content to stay in the village any longer.

Agnieszka is resigned to make the most of her circumstances, but longs to return to her village. Especially, when the brooding Dragon insists on teaching her magic that leaves her drained and exhausted.

This was a really interesting young adult high fantasy that went in a route I hadn’t expected. From the backcover description, I expected an odd cross between Beauty and the Beast and Bluebeard. Instead, I got something much more unique and thought provoking.

The highlight of this book is seeing Agnieszka come into her own and that it didn’t rely on the Dragon showing her the way. Instead, she cleaves much of her own path and has to convince the Dragon to be more flexible in his way of thinking. It was also great seeing how much action she was able to take by herself to help save the village and those she cares about.

I also loved the quiet romance in the book and that it didn’t overtake the main story. However, I do wish that we had a least one more chapter. My main complaint with the book is that at the end, I felt like something was missing. I think a lot of this could have been resolved with one or two more chapters.

All in all, this was a fun young adult fantasy. I would recommend it if you’re a fan of the genre and looking for a good standalone story.

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

a court of thorns and roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Published: 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #1
Rating: C-

A Court of Thorns and Roses is the first book in Sarah J. Maas’ series by the same name. I’m surprised that people are considering this a Beauty and the Beast re-imagining. It only vaguely links to the fairytale. If I hadn’t been looking for the parallels, I doubt I would have made the connection between the two at all.

After Feyre kills a Fae, a great beast shows up on her family’s doorstep. He gives her the option of either coming with him forever or being killed. Not wanting to be killed, Feyre agrees to go with the beast and plots to escape as soon as possible.

When she arrives at the beast’s house, he transforms into a gorgeous Fae. Turns out he’s Tamlin, a High Lord, and just has the ability to turn into a beast at will. His only flaw is a mask permanently affixed to his face, which is the result of a curse that he shares with all of his people. As Feyre settles in, she soon discovers that Tamlin and his people are keeping secrets about a blight that is plaguing the Fae lands. Fearing that it will bleed over into the human lands, Feyre sets out to uncover as much information about it as she can. Continue reading

Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

six of crows

Six of Crows
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Published: 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: Six of Crows #1
Rating: A+

Six of Crows” is my first book by Leigh Bardugo and one of the most hyped novels of 2015. After finishing it, I can say all the buzz is well deserved.

Kaz Brekker will not let anything stand in the way of his revenge. He plans to take apart the man who ruined his life, inch by inch. When a huge job that could put him closer to his goal comes across his path, he can’t turn it down. The heist seems impossible and most likely to get everyone involved killed. So, Kaz assembles a team of people just as desperate as him: a sharper-shooter with a gambling addiction; a Grisha heartrender attempting to make-up for a past mistake; a convict with a grudge; a wraith with a conscious; and the son of a wealthy merchant…for insurance. Continue reading

Cruel Beauty

cruel beauty

Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Published: 2014
Genre: Young Adult
Series: Cruel Beauty Universe #1
Rating: A –

Cruel Beauty is the first book in a new fairytale retelling series by Rosamond Hodge.

Before she was born, Nyx’s father made a deal with the Gentle Lord that on her seventeenth birthday she would marry him. Long ago, the Gentle Lord (aka Ignifex) cursed their village to be separate from the rest of the world and let his demons run rampant. The only way to break the curse is to kill him. So, for all her life Nyx has been training to one day murder her husband. When the day finally arrives, she finds that life as his wife is not exactly what she has expected. It is both more horrifying and better than she had been raised to expect. Now Nyx must balance her conflicting feelings about her husband with her sense of loyalty towards the village.
Continue reading



Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Young Adult
Publish Date: 2012
Series: Lunar Chronicles #1
Rating: A –

Cinder is the first book in Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles. From what I gather, each book in the series primarily features a different female character. So, you can imagine my frustration when I discovered this ends on a cliff-hanger. I was just really getting into the action of what Cinder was gearing up to do when the books ends suddenly. Usually, I hate cliff-hangers but this was awesome. I only hope that we still get some story from Cinder’s point of view in the next books.

This is a sci-fi/steampunk fairytale retelling of Cinderella, but only a few elements of the story match-up with the traditional set-up. In this, Cinder is a young cyborg who labors as a mechanic for her adoptive family. After agreeing to do a repair job for Prince Kai, Cinder finds herself forcibly thrown into the political mess of her country. Suddenly, she has to face being a test subject for a plague outbreak, prejudices against her kind, a visiting dignitary with mind control abilities, and an emerging secret from her past.

In Cinder, we are introduced to the impressive world Meyer has created for her characters, which is filled with social tension and unrest. I loved the imbalances of power we see and how all the characters are struggling, no matter what their social standing is. The leaders of the country are shown to be having just as difficult a time as Cinder. They’re just dealing with different set of hard issues and decisions. I also really loved the weight these decisions and actions were given in the book. It added a lot of gravity to the story, which I wasn’t expecting to find when I decided to start the series. All in all, this was a great read and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.

Gilded Ashes


Gilded Ashes
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Published: 2014
Genre: Young Adult
Series: Cruel Beauty #1.5
Rating: A

Gilded Ashes is a novella in Rosamund Hodge’s Cruel Beauty series and one of the most interesting Cinderella retellings I’ve read in a while. Since there’s no references made to the first book in the series (Cruel Beauty), Gilded Ashes works nicely as an introduction to Hodge’s writing and her world.

Maia is haunted by her mother’s ghost who exacts vengeance on anyone that upsets her daughter. After witnessing the cruelty her mother can exact from the grave, Maia has learned to smile and pretend nothing bothers her. She has spent years feigning happiness in order to protect her step mother and sisters. So, when one of the step-sisters asks her to start delivering love letters to Anax, the heir of the Duke of Sardis, she agrees. It’s an opportunity that Maia can’t pass-up since a marriage would get her family away from her mother’s watchful presence.

I was blown away by this novella. I wasn’t expecting to be so drawn into the world, characters, or Hodge’s beautiful writing. I bought it on a whim yesterday expecting a cute Cinderella retelling and got a wonderful, kind of dark, story instead. Maia is cynical about love because it is what motivated her mother to ensure she could still protect Maia after her death. She’s seen love do nothing but harm her entire life, so I completely understood her mind-set. It was an interesting flip on the typical Cinderella story since Maia didn’t crave love and had power. She could’ve destroyed her family for their ill treatment but chose to protect them instead. It was refreshing to see the main character in this sort of retelling not cast as a complete victim.

My only complaint about the novella was that the ending felt a little rushed concerning her relationship with Anax. After the drama that had transpired between them (prior to the climax) I had a hard time believing their relationship was immediately set right. However, it was only a small complaint and taken in context with the rest of the story, very minor.

If you’ve been considering reading Cruel Beauty but would like a small sample of Hodge’s writing before committing to a full length novel, I would highly recommend checking out Gilded Ashes.