Thursday, June 16, 2016

Review: Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

Queen of Hearts
by Colleen Oakes

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Genres: YA; Retellings; Fantasy

Pages: 320

As Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, Dinah’s days are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the hands of her father, the King of Hearts. The only highlight of her days is visiting Wardley, her childhood best friend, the future Knave of Hearts — and the love of her life.

When an enchanting stranger arrives at the Palace, Dinah watches as everything she’s ever wanted threatens to crumble. As her coronation date approaches, a series of suspicious and bloody events suggests that something sinister stirs in the whimsical halls of Wonderland. It’s up to Dinah to unravel the mysteries that lurk both inside and under the Palace before she loses her own head to a clever and faceless foe.

Part epic fantasy, part twisted fairy tale, this dazzling saga will have readers shivering as Dinah's furious nature sweeps Wonderland up in the maelstrom of her wrath. 

Familiar characters such as Cheshire, the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter make their appearance, enchanting readers with this new, dark take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

This is the story of the young Princess of Wonderland, soon to become Queen of Hearts, Dinah. You would think life would be a dream for the princess. The people should dote on her, adore her as their future leader. But that is not so.

Even Dinah's father, the king, has no respect for her. Since her mother died, she has been groomed to become queen, but she wonders if she will ever be treated like one. There are only a handful of people whom she feels comfortable with--a few servants in the palace; her very timely tutor, Harris; her somewhat mad brother, Charles; and her best friend and love, the future Knave of Hearts, Wardley.

Mmk. Let's get to it. I really liked this book. Here's why. *throws list at you*

  • DINAH. I just want to squeeze her. She'd probably bite me, but still. Dinah was an imperfect, quick-tempered character and I rooted for her for the entire book. She wasn't always likeable, but I think I understood her to some degree.* Her circumstances weren't ideal and, even though she made some bad choices and quick judgments, it was easy to sympathize with her. Dinah had a lot of compassion inside of her, even if buried deep. She loves her advisor, Harris--and her feelings for Wardley leave her raw. She's so human. She could be selfish. She was unfairly harsh to her sister, Vittoire. And it was just sad to know where she was heading--glimpsing good and evil inside of her and wanting the good to win, but knowing how everything turns out in the original story.
((* I dressed up as the queen of hearts for Halloween one year, and let me tell you, screaming "OFF WITH THEIR HEADS" at random small offenses is the best. Ok, so I'm not a fan of the actual heads rolling part, but in some small way I think I understand the queen of hearts. *nods*))

  • It's kind of dark. *shrugs* This is a positive for me. There are beheadings and torture and a lot of cruelty. Evil was real and prevalent in Wonderland.
  • The mystery. I have no idea how everything is going to turn out. I thought the mystery surrounding Vittoire and the king's plans was very interesting. At the same time, though, I feel this book left me with too many questions unanswered.
  • The setting. Oakes creates a really cool and creative version of Wonderland. 

But there were also things I wasn't a fan of.

The plot was definitely lacking something. The story felt very short too. I was invested in the story, but everything happened so fast that I felt like it ended before Dinah's story truly began.

I feel like many of the characters were lacking development as well. I loved Charles and wish his character had been explored further. We know next to nothing about Vittoire. And all we know about the King is that he's a despicable and evil man who only cares about his own power. Why is he the way he is? Who knows.

I liked Wardley, most of the time. He was sweet and protective, but also confusing. I didn't really understand his motivations, and I'm not sure I want him and Dinah to get together...

As for the "enchanting stranger," he barely made an appearance. I was a little disappointed with his part in the story.

So yeah, I wish there had been more development of the plot and more complex characters, but overall I really liked Queen of Hearts. Looking forward to the next book.

If you're interested in this book, I would say give it a try.

Content warning: Heads roll.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Mid Year Freak Out Tag

Saw this tag on 26 Countless Possibilities and decided to do it myself!

Best Book Read in 2016?

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. Why did it take me so long to read this gem of a book?

Special shout out to Ruined, An Ember in the Ashes, and Whistling Past the Graveyard--other five star reads.

Best Sequel You've Read so Far in 2016?

I've only read 5 sequels so far, but I really enjoyed The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski. Although, I'm currently reading The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater and feel it will most definitely become a favorite.

New Release You Haven't Read Yet But Want To?

There are way too many. But I would especially love to get my hands on Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton.

Most Anticipated Release(s) for Second Half of 2016?

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany.
Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson
Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Biggest Disappointment?

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers. My review.

Biggest Surprise?

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. I didn't expect to love it as much as I did! My review.

New Favorite Author?

Sabaa Tahir, the author of the wonderful An Ember in the Ashes.

Newest Fictional Crush?

I'm with Sierra on this one. The Raven Boys! Yes, yes, all of them. Maybe Ronan not as much as the others, though. Love him, but I fear we would clash quite a bit.

Newest Favorite Character?

Ahem. I have more than one, thank you. Starla from Whistling Past the Graveyard. Blue and The Raven Boys from The Raven Boys

*hugs them*

Book That Made You Cry?

HAHAHA. No. I have not read a book that could penetrate my cold, dead heart.

Whistling Past the Graveyard was touching, though.

Book That Made You Happy?

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

Most Beautiful Book You Bought So Far This Year?

I bought this really pretty edition of Pride and Prejudice.


What Books Do You "Need" to Read by the End of the Year?

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. (I'm on chapter 3. We'll see what happens).
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

+ a gazillion others.

I tag anyone who wants to do this! If you do it, leave a link to your post in the comments because I'd love to see your answers!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Review: Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 652

Warbreaker is the story of two sisters, who happen to be princesses, the God King one of them has to marry, the lesser god who doesn't like his job, and the immortal who's still trying to undo the mistakes he made hundreds of years ago.

Their world is one in which those who die in glory return as gods to live confined to a pantheon in Hallandren's capital city and where a power known as BioChromatic magic is based on an essence known as breath that can only be collected one unit at a time from individual people.

By using breath and drawing upon the color in everyday objects, all manner of miracles and mischief can be accomplished. It will take considerable quantities of each to resolve all the challenges facing Vivenna and Siri, princesses of Idris; Susebron the God King; Lightsong, reluctant god of bravery, and mysterious Vasher, the Warbreaker.

After constantly hearing about Brandon Sanderson's sheer awesomeness and writing talent, I was ready to love this book. I TRIED to love this book.

But it just didn't impress me. None of the characters really wowed me. I liked Vasher, but he didn't get nearly as many chapters as anyone else. Lightsong (a god, or "Returned"), Denth and Tonk Fah (mercenaries) rather aggravated me, though I think they were meant to be funny. Lightsong had his moments, though. See, here:

“I try to avoid having thoughts. They lead to other thoughts, and—if you’re not careful—those lead to actions. Actions make you tired. I have this on rather good authority from someone who once read it in a book.”

Good one, Lightsong.

As for Siri and Vivenna, I liked them, but I didn't feel like they DID much because so much of the story was spent in their HEADS. That's a pet peeve of mine. Because the real story does not happen in their thoughts (*yawn*) but in the real world. And I wanted more of what was happening in (you guessed it) the real world.

So, basically, the characters weren't that impressive. The plot was interesting, but could have been condensed into a lot less pages.

The magic system was cool, though it was overexplained. And there were a couple of twists I liked. And I loved the ending, though it felt kind of rushed compared the rest of the story (which droned. on. and. on.).

I was informed by someone else that this is probably Sanderson's worst work. You may disagree, but that seems to be the general consensus. I will definitely be giving his works another try. I'm not in love with Warbreaker, but I am intrigued.

Content: Ehrm.... Let's see. I think there's some minor language. And exclamations like "Colors!" are used as swear words. Sex between two characters is implied but not described.

Have you read Warbreaker, or any of Sanderson's other books? What work of his would you recommend I read next?