Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Release Day Review: Blood Rose Rebellion (Blood Rose Rebellion, #1) by Rosalyn Eves

Title: Blood Rose Rebellion (Blood Rose Rebellion, #1) 
Author: Rosalyn Eves 
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers 
Source: Publisher 
Published: March 28th, 2017 
Purchase: Amazon | B&N 

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

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Born into a powerful class of magicians called the Luminate, Anna Arden has been surrounded by magic her whole life. But she’s only been just that – surrounded by it. Anna was deemed Barren by the Luminate government known as the Circle when she was a child, never to practice magic or cast spells as the rest of her family. When Anna unintentionally breaks her sister’s spells at Catherine’s debut before the Circle, she begins to draw unwanted attention from its members. They make plans to study her, to take her to a more private location where they can learn more about what causes her to break spells; but Anna’s family decides that the only way to protect Anna (and their reputations) is to send her with her grandmother to Hungary, where they will stay with her grandmother’s cousin in their home country until the Circle loses interest in studying her ability. Though Anna is at first less than thrilled about her arrangement, she too knows it is for the best and may very well be the only way to protect herself and her loved ones; the last thing any of them needs right now is to appear as a threat to the Binding, the powerful spell put in place by the Circle that serves as a reservoir of magic, available only to those born into the Luminate. Those outside the upper class of magicians are forbidden from using it – though there have been murmurs of rebellion; and try as the Circle and Anna’s family might to ignore them, they are steadily growing louder, and Anna may soon find herself at the center of them all.

A few of my reading friends struggled with some aspects of this book, but I completely adored it. From the first page, I could feel that it was something new and special; the plot moved at a perfect pace for everything that needed to be revealed and explained, and the beautiful but not overly descriptive writing held me utterly captivated until the last page. I fell fast and hard for these characters. Anna is a likable, passionate main character who, when we met, did not yet realize her own strength; she had much to learn both about herself and the world outside her comfy Luminate life. I loved her from the start for her spirit and determination, and my heart broke for her because of how her family treated her; but she still had a long way to go as far as breaking the pretentious molds her mother had raised her in. I was so proud of Anna; she showed astonishing character growth and proved to so many – including herself – that a young, wealthy, sheltered girl from England could indeed make a difference.

There were also several supporting characters that easily won my heart – Anna’s cousins, Noémi and Mátyás; her papa, grandmother, and brother, perhaps the only immediate family that were truly good to her; Ginny; Lady Berri; Karolina; Izidóra; and of course, Gábor. I love the way their relationship developed and grew into something beautiful. Gábor is such a strong, genuinely good character; it’s possible I may have fallen for him faster than Anna did. Let me assure you, though, that there was no insta-love; they definitely had their differences to overcome before they became… better acquainted. Overall, this story provides the reader with a vivid, unique world full of characters to love (and to hate). The world-building and imagery in this book were beautiful, and I felt as though I were truly living in it alongside my new companions. One aspect of this world I particularly loved was the way the author tied in the magic with real history; my favorite was the mention of the colonies and how they used magic freely due to the Circle’s inability to implement the Binding overseas. This story is crafted so brilliantly and creatively; this is such an impressive debut.

Another thing I loved about Blood Rose Rebellion was the uncertainty: Anna’s, Gábor’s, even my own. I couldn’t stop flipping back and forth on what I believed – one second I was sure that what was asked of Anna was a terrible idea and that Gábor was right to oppose it; the next, I was convinced Anna knew what she was doing and that this was the only real solution. I love it when a story can make you second-guess even yourself and make it so difficult to decide what you would do in that situation. This book was a roller-coaster; but goodness, was it ever worth it.

The story ended beautifully, with no cliffhanger or major unanswered questions; so I was surprised and thrilled to find that this is the first book in a trilogy! I can’t wait to return to Rosalyn Eves’s beautiful writing and to these wonderful characters that have found such a special place in my heart.

© at A Belle's Tales

  

Friday, March 24, 2017

On My Shelf: The Dark Secrets Series by Elizabeth Chandler


On My Shelf is an awesome feature hosted by Teresa at Readers Live A Thousand Lives that anyone can join. The idea is to spotlight a book from your TBR shelf; it's a fun way to discuss books with fellow bloggers and, with their help, decide which books are must-reads... and which ones can wait a while longer.

    

"Two girls haunted by the past... and destined to relive it." 

The Dark Secrets series is another series that I grabbed from BookOutlet. Shocker. I think I should change the intro above to say "hosted by Teresa, powered by BookOutlet." These covers are so pretty, and I like that there are two books in both the first and second volumes.

Have you read the Dark Secrets series? What are your thoughts? 
Do I drop everything and start reading -- or put it back on my shelf for later?

Hope everyone has a great weekend! See you next week! 

© at A Belle's Tales

  

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #63: Bang by Barry Lyga


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine,
that showcases our most anticipated upcoming releases.


Title: Bang 
Author: Barry Lyga 
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 
Expected Publication: April 18th, 2017 
Pre-order: Amazon | B&N 

Summary: A chunk of old memory, adrift in a pool of blood.

Sebastian Cody did something horrible, something no one--not even Sebastian himself--can forgive. At the age of four, he accidentally shot and killed his infant sister with his father's gun.

Now, ten years later, Sebastian has lived with the guilt and horror for his entire life. With his best friend away for the summer, Sebastian has only a new friend--Aneesa--to distract him from his darkest thoughts. But even this relationship cannot blunt the pain of his past. Because Sebastian knows exactly how to rectify his childhood crime and sanctify his past. 

It took a gun to get him into this.

Now he needs a gun to get out.

Unflinching and honest, Bang is as true and as relevant as tomorrow's headlines, the story of one boy and one moment in time that cannot be reclaimed.

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This sounds heart-wrenching, but we love Barry Lyga so much that we have to give this a read.

What book are you waiting to get your hands on?

© at A Belle's Tales

  

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Release Day Review: The Hope Chest by Viola Shipman

Title: The Hope Chest 
Author: Viola Shipman 
Publisher: St. Martin's Press 
Source: Publisher 
Published: March 21st, 2017 
Purchase: Amazon | B&N 

Summary: From the beloved author of Indie Next Pick The Charm Bracelet, a story about an heirloom hope chest and the connection it inspires among three people in need of hope.

The discovery of one woman’s heirloom hope chest unveils precious memories and helps three people who have each lost a part of themselves find joy once again.

Ever since she was diagnosed with ALS, fiercely independent Mattie doesn’t feel like herself. She can’t navigate her beloved home, she can’t go for a boat ride, and she can barely even feed herself. Her devoted husband, Don, doesn’t want to imagine life without his wife of nearly fifty years, but Mattie isn’t likely to make it past their anniversary. 

But when Rose, Mattie’s new caretaker, and her young daughter, Jeri, enter the couple’s life, happiness and the possibility for new memories return. Together they form a family, and Mattie is finally able to pass on her memories from the hope chest she received from her mother.

With each item—including a favorite doll, family dishes, an embroidered apron, and an antique Christmas ornament—the hope chest connects Mattie, Don and Rose to each other and helps them find hope again in the face of overwhelming life challenges. 

A beautiful story about the unconditional love and support of family, The Hope Chest will remind you that hope can be found where and when you least expect it.

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Don and Mattie have been married for almost 50 years; but as Mattie battles debilitating ALS, Don fears they won’t see their 50th anniversary. A couple so incredibly in love they’ve shared an amazing life together with their only regret being that they were never able to have children. Their love is a testament to never take a single day for granted.

Single mom Rose is still grieving her mother’s death, still reeling from her divorce, and struggling hard to pay bills and hold onto the house her family loved so much. Her little girl Jeri is the one bright spot in her life. Rose is about to start her new job as a caretaker, a job that could help keep a roof over her and Jeri’s heads; but Rose is about to find something much better than just a new job.

A couple who couldn’t have a family meet a mother and daughter that are missing theirs. These four people come together and find more love and hope than one heirloom hope chest can contain.

The Hope Chest is a beautiful and sentimental story. Though not the type of book I normally read, when I began reading this story, I couldn’t help but think how much my mother would enjoy this. Mattie and Don’s relationship reminds me so much of my own parents’ relationship. To still be that in love and to have your best friend by your side after so many years is certainly something that most of us wish for. Each chapter represents a keepsake from Mattie’s hope chest, keepsakes she thought she’d never be able to pass down to a daughter or granddaughter. Until now. As each item is pulled from the hope chest, a story is told from Mattie’s childhood, as well as stories from Mattie and Don’s early years. The glimpses into the past are extremely sweet and poignant. While the story itself is a heartbreaking one, it is also a hopeful one. There’s a wonderful reminder in this book about how much we should cherish our older generation. There is so much that we can learn from them and so much that they still have to give. The book does touch on faith near the end, something that I found lovely but not something that would be off-putting to those who don’t share it. The Hope Chest also proves that you don’t have to share someone’s DNA to be their family.

I’ve never read Viola Shipman’s work before, and I was surprised to find out that Viola Shipman is a penname for Wade Rouse. He chose his grandmother’s name to honor the woman who inspires him and his writing. That warmed my heart, and his love for his grandmother and her life stories shines through his words.

Though this is not my usual genre, I continued to think about how much my mother will love this book. And as I neared the end, a funny thing happened… I realized that I loved it, too.

“There is always hope where there is love.” 

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

© at A Belle's Tales

  

Monday, March 20, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?


It's Monday! What are you reading? is a great weekly meme now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It's where we share what we're currently reading and what we're starting next. 

Previously read: 

   


Currently reading: 

   


Up next: 



Previous posts: 

It's been a few weeks since we've done one of these!

100 Words and a Quote Reviews: (Room; The Impossible Knife of Memory; The Bird and the Sword)
Mckenzie's Review: 10 Things I Can See from Here by Carrie Mac
Mckenzie's Review: Future Threat (Future Shock, #2) by Elizabeth Briggs
Review: Gizelle's Bucket List: My Life with a Very Large Dog by Lauren Fern Watt
Review: Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson, #10) by Patricia Briggs
Review: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
Review: The Pain Eater by Beth Goobie
Mckenzie's Essay: What Makes Macbeth a Tragic Hero?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer 20th Anniversary Celebration and Review
Review: The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo
Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop
Review: Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens
Review: Beauty of the Beast (Fairy Tale Retellings, #1) by Rachel L. Demeter
On My Shelf: What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan



Congratulations to Chiara G., who won the Buffy 20th Anniversary Giveaway! She won a DVD, a book, and a coloring book! Thank you to all who entered!

But the winning's not over! There are still 8 days left to win a book of your choice in the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop!



What are you reading this week? 
We hope you have a happy Monday! 

 © at A Belle's Tales

  

Friday, March 17, 2017

On My Shelf: What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan


On My Shelf is an awesome feature hosted by Teresa at Readers Live A Thousand Lives that anyone can join. The idea is to spotlight a book from your TBR shelf; it's a fun way to discuss books with fellow bloggers and, with their help, decide which books are must-reads... and which ones can wait a while longer.


What She Knew sounds like a captivating thriller; and though I've never read this author before, I have two of her books on my shelf. A missing child, a police investigation, search parties, and a mother who realizes that nothing is what she thought it was certainly all sound intriguing. Can anyone give me some insight into this book and its author?

Have you read What She Knew? What are your thoughts? 
Do I drop everything and start reading -- or put it back on my shelf?

Hope everyone has a great weekend! See you next week! 

© at A Belle's Tales

  

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Review: Beauty of the Beast (Fairy Tale Retellings, #1) by Rachel L. Demeter

Title: Beauty of the Beast (Fairy Tale Retellings, #1) 
Author: Rachel L. Demeter 
Genre: Historical Romance, Fairy Tale Retellings, Gothic Romance  
Published: March 15th, 2017 
Purchase: Amazon | B&N 

Summary: Experience the world’s most enchanting and timeless love story—retold with a dark and realistic twist.

A BEAST LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF HIS PAST

Reclusive and severely scarred Prince Adam Delacroix has remained hidden inside a secluded, decrepit castle ever since he witnessed his family’s brutal massacre. Cloaked in shadow, with only the lamentations of past ghosts for company, he has abandoned all hope, allowing the world to believe he died on that tragic eve twenty-five years ago.

A BEAUTY IN PURSUIT OF A BETTER FUTURE

Caught in a fierce snowstorm, beautiful and strong-willed Isabelle Rose seeks shelter at a castle—unaware that its beastly and disfigured master is much more than he appears to be. When he imprisons her gravely ill and blind father, she bravely offers herself in his place.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Stripped of his emotional defenses, Adam’s humanity reawakens as he encounters a kindred soul in Isabelle. Together they will wade through darkness and discover beauty and passion in the most unlikely of places. But when a monster from Isabelle’s former life threatens their new love, Demrov’s forgotten prince must emerge from his shadows and face the world once more…

Perfect for fans of Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera, Beauty of the Beast brings a familiar and well-loved fairy tale to life with a rich setting in the kingdom of Demrov and a captivating, Gothic voice.

* * *

Beauty of the Beast is the first standalone installment in a series of classic fairy tales reimagined with a dark and realistic twist.

Disclaimer: This is an edgy, historical romance retelling of the classic fairy tale. Due to strong sexual content, profanity, and dark subject matter, including an instance of sexual assault committed by the villain, Beauty of the Beast is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

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“‘You were gifted with your mother’s strength and gentleness, Isabelle. Both her strength and beauty. 
Never abandon those things, ma petite. But greatest of all, you have her heart. Guard it well.’”  

Last year, I fell in love with a book called Finding Gabriel by author Rachel Demeter. So when I found Ms. Demeter had written a retelling of my favorite fairytale, Beauty and the Beast, I was over the moon. And Beauty of the Beast is everything I hoped it would be. Now let me just say, this is not your Disney version. This is a mature fairytale; at times it is dark and twisty, and the author gives full disclosure that this story does contain an instance of sexual assault committed by a villain. It is intended for readers 18 and over.

With a Gothic feel, Beauty of the Beast is set in the kingdom of Demrov and tells the haunting story of Adam Delacroix, a man with secrets and a painful past. Scarred and reclusive, Adam has isolated himself in his castle and withdrawn from the world who believes him dead. With only his dog Stranger for company and the occasional visits from his only friend Sébastien, he’s given up on humankind and spends his days in solitude.

“‘If I’m a monster, mademoiselle, it’s because man’s cruelty has made me so.’” 

Isabelle Rose is caring for her very ill father, Bernard, while enduring life with her spoiled and manipulative stepsisters. Isabelle is engaged to Vicomte Raphael Dumont and faces an unhappy life with the detestable brute. She has no love in her heart for Raphael, and why would she? He is despicable and cruel. But he is the only hope she has to spare her father a life of poverty and give him a chance to recover from his illness. When Isabelle and her father journey to the Merchants’ Fair in a last attempt to find security and freedom without having to rely on Raphael, they are caught in a harsh winter storm and forced to seek shelter in a dismal, crumbling castle. Adam’s castle.

And what unfolds from there, readers, is for you to discover.

This story, while edgy and dark at times, is also hopeful. The scenes between Adam and Isabelle are poignant, lovely, and very sensual. If I were a blogger that included a heat rating in my reviews, I can assure you this page would be aflame! *fans self* The writing is lyrical and striking. I couldn’t help but be transported to this time period, and the beautiful imagery and world building were divine. I adored the inclusion of the music; it lent somewhat of a Phantom of the Opera twist to this stunning tale.

“‘It was a way to speak when no one was there to listen.’ … 
‘I have been listening every night. Even when you don’t play… 
I still hear your music… And I feel it.’” 

I don’t read many historical romances anymore, but I had no problem sinking into the world this author created. I was hit with a volley of emotions while reading Adam and Isabelle’s story, and I absolutely love this grown-up retelling of my favorite fairytale. I recommend this book for adult fans of Beauty and the Beast, as well as lovers of Gothic and historical romance. I can’t wait to see what Rachel Demeter writes next!

“Love is joy, love is suffering, love is tenderness, love is beautiful. Love is you.” 

Thank you to the author for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

© at A Belle's Tales