Thursday, March 31, 2016

Movie Review: Allegiant


Title: Allegiant (Divergent #3)
Release Date: March 18, 2016
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James
Director: Robert Schwentke
Runtime: 120 minutes
Rated: PG-13
View on IMDB

After the earth-shattering revelations of INSURGENT, Tris (Shailene Woodley) must escape with Four (Theo James) and go beyond the wall enclosing Chicago. For the first time ever, they will leave the only city and family they have ever known. Once outside, old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless with the revelation of shocking new truths. Tris and Four must quickly decide who they can trust as a ruthless battle ignites beyond the walls of Chicago which threatens all of humanity. In order to survive, Tris will be forced to make impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice and love.

I've talked about my superpower on the blog in the past, but here's a quick recap: I forget everything. Okay, not everything, but a lot. I tend to read or watch something and over the course of a few months I forget most of it. Some would say this is a curse, but I love it because I get to be surprised about things all over again! While I remember the gist of the Divergent trilogy, I had forgotten many of the details before the movies started being released. Forgetfulness is probably a better thing with this trilogy than most because it seems like everyone is complaining about how totally different the movies are! Unlike those people, I'm going to focus this review on the movie itself and not on comparing everything to the source material.

Allegiant picks up immediately after Insurgent left off, with everyone in Chicago heading to the open gate... before it's closed again by Evelyn, Four's mom. As the new leader of the factionless city, Evelyn has decided that the wall will remain closed since she feels that is the safest thing for its inhabitants. Obviously, Tris goes against the status quo and devises a dangerous plan to escape to find those on the outside.


This movie was definitely interesting. I actually have a lot of mixed feelings. To start, Allegiant somehow felt slow while also seeming to jump through situations way too quickly once Tris and Four made it outside of Chicago. I liked their dynamic as a couple and felt like their discord made total sense given the unusual circumstances they'd found themselves in. It is completely unsurprising that Tris would do whatever she could to help the people of Chicago, even when Four had his doubts. The tension between Evelyn and Johanna was intense!! I love the Allegiant although it seemed like the division happened almost too abruptly. I also liked the idea of the experimental city and the reasoning given for it. Sometimes movies leave out the WHY and I feel like Allegiant did a decent, if not perfect, job of explaining the motivations behind Chicago and the faction system.

But now my issues... I feel like this might be the kind of movie where the viewer isn't supposed to think too hard. I always wonder what filmmakers are thinking when they do this. Do they assume no one will notice the weird parts? First of all, I have to wonder about the hair Tris is sporting in Allegiant. Here's a side by side comparison of Tris in Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant:


Just like... what? So Tris starts out in Divergent with long, mostly brown hair (maybe you could argue for dirty blonde). Insurgent gives a valid excuse for her short hair when she chops it off at the beginning of the film, and her hair color stays mostly the same. But Allegiant begins with Tris wearing mid-length hair with very blonde highlights. Two things: first, this movie picks up 5 minutes after the last one leaves off. Where can I get some of those hair vitamins?? Second, do they have hair stylists in this future Chicago who do highlights? Man, they work fast! Okay, so I'm nitpicking, but it's just one of those things that's too ridiculous to be ignored.

Another thing that seemed really confusing to me (and maybe it's explained in the book - if so, someone please enlighten me) is that the air over Chicago was perfectly fine. The inhabitants of the city were healthy and there was no toxic rain or dust, etc. Meanwhile, almost as soon as Tris and Co. get over the wall, they are in some kind of toxic wasteland and have to be decontaminated. How does this work?? I'm no scientist, but I don't think the clouds discriminate based on city limits.

Another issue I had with Allegiant was that it was almost too sci-fi to fit with the rest of the series. Yes, this is a dystopia, but until now it has all seemed real enough to be believable. Once Tris and Four enter what I guess is the real world, it's like they take a leap into Star Wars territory.


When they were surrounded by flying bubbles I honestly had to restrain my laughter. The surveillance equipment that Caleb uses in the movie is pretty amazing though! 

Finally, why do people keep trusting Peter?? Can he hurry up and die, please? It's just getting old. It's like he's set to repeat in each film. 

While Allegiant certainly had some issues, I did enjoy what it added to the series. I don't feel like it necessarily needed to be a separate movie from "Ascendant." There were definitely parts that could have been left out of the movie - the city of Providence, for example - to shorten this movie and make the last book a single film. Unfortunately, splitting the last book of YA series into two films seems to be the way it goes these days, whether it's needed or not. I'm very curious to find out how Ascendant plays out and whether the ending is faithful to the book (that part I do remember). Part of me hopes it is so that I don't have to hear everyone complain, but a bigger part of me hopes they change it as much as they've changed everything else. 

Allegiant was an enjoyable movie overall! I do think that some fans of the books will really dislike it based on the fact that it is so much different. Taken on its own though, I feel that those who liked the first two films will also enjoy this one. You just might have to suspend your disbelief a little more than usual... 


Have you seen Allegiant? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday #95: Paper Princess by Erin Watt


Happy Wednesday, fellow book lovers! This week's "can't wait to read" is:

Paper Princess
by Erin Watt
Publication Date: April 4, 2016
From strip clubs and truck stops to southern coast mansions and prep schools, one girl tries to stay true to herself.

These Royals will ruin you…

Ella Harper is a survivor—a pragmatic optimist. She’s spent her whole life moving from town to town with her flighty mother, struggling to make ends meet and believing that someday she’ll climb out of the gutter. After her mother’s death, Ella is truly alone.

Until Callum Royal appears, plucking Ella out of poverty and tossing her into his posh mansion among his five sons who all hate her. Each Royal boy is more magnetic than the last, but none as captivating as Reed Royal, the boy who is determined to send her back to the slums she came from.

Reed doesn’t want her. He says she doesn’t belong with the Royals.

He might be right.

Wealth. Excess. Deception. It’s like nothing Ella has ever experienced, and if she’s going to survive her time in the Royal palace, she’ll need to learn to issue her own Royal decrees.
I have to admit, when I first saw the cover and saw that this book was categorized as "contemporary" I was not at all excited. Then I read the synopsis and something just called to me. I definitely think Paper Princess is going to be a guilty pleasure!


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine.
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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #89: Recent 5 star reads


Today's Topic: 
 Ten Of My Most Recent 5 (& 4.5) Star Reads


Hurray!! I love getting to talk about books I love! But... I was a little surprised to find out that I don't rate as many books 5 stars as I'd thought. Because of that, I'm including recent 4.5 star read in this week's post as well! I would recommend every single one of these books to basically anyone!


        

Anyone? by Angela Scott
The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson
The House by Christina Lauren
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Never Never by Brianna R. Shrum


        

Oblivion by Kelly Creagh
Of Dreams and Rust by Sarah Fine
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Winter by Marissa Meyer


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
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Monday, March 28, 2016

Audiobook Review: The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins


Title: The Great Hunt (Eurona Duology #1)
Author: Wendy Higgins
Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld
Publication Date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Add to Goodreads

“Aerity…” Her father paused as if the words he was forming pained him. “I must ask you to sacrifice the promise of love for the sake of our kingdom.”

She could only stare back, frozen.

When a strange beast terrorizes the kingdom of Lochlanach, fear stirs revolt. In an act of desperation, a proclamation is sent to all of Eurona—kill the creature and win the ultimate prize: the daughter of King Lochson’s hand in marriage.

Princess Aerity knows her duty to the kingdom but cannot bear the idea of marrying a stranger…until a brooding local hunter, Paxton Seabolt, catches her attention. There’s no denying the unspoken lure between them…or his mysterious resentment.

Paxton is not the marrying type. Nor does he care much for spoiled royals and their arcane laws. He’s determined to keep his focus on the task at hand—ridding the kingdom of the beast—but the princess continues to surprise him, and the perilous secrets he’s buried begin to surface.

Inspired by the Grimm Brothers’ tale “The Singing Bone,” New York Times bestselling author Wendy Higgins delivers a dark fantasy filled with rugged hunters, romantic tension, and a princess willing to risk all to save her kingdom.

A couple months ago, in the middle of a pretty intense fantasy binge, I added The Great Hunt to my must-read list for 2016. Not only was the cover gorgeous, but the synopsis was intriguing, and it was even a retelling, albeit of a story I'd never heard of. All that to say, I was really excited to read this book! I was really surprised to see that it was available without a wait through my library as an audiobook, so I immediately snatched it up and started listening.

Aerity is the "heroine" who "risk all to save her kingdom." I expected a lot out of Aerity, but was actually more confused by her than anything. First of all I have to ask the most pressing question: what color is Aerity's hair?? The cover model looks exactly like Merida, blue dress, red mane, and all. In the book, however, she is described as having blonde hair, which is apparently a big deal because all of her siblings have red hair. Later on, though, her hair is described as red. Just... what?? Does the author have no idea what her character looks like? Maybe this is a petty complaint. It seems like such an obvious thing not to mix up, but I digress.

I really didn't connect with Aerity at all. She is a princess and she acts like a princess. Her talent is aerial fabric acrobatics, no joke. She "gives all" by agreeing to an arranged marriage with whoever kills the beast who is terrorizing the kingdom. I get that it might suck, but the synopsis make her involvement sound much more noble and dramatic than it actually is. She really doesn't do much in the entire book other than flip around in the air, talk to hunters, and hang out with her cousin...

Thankfully, there's no love interest in this story. Unfortunately, the romance itself isn't impressive. In fact, Aerity and Paxton speak maybe ten sentences to each other before they're in love, and most of them involve Paxton being kind of a jerk. Still, he's a better character than Aerity. Paxton has something of a tragic backstory and is unconditionally loyal to his younger brother. He's also a skilled hunter. Even though he does have a decent excuse for being rude to Aerity, it still bothers me when male love interests act this way and women swoon all over them.

The story here is honestly the saving grace of The Great Hunt. The beast itself, while not actually very terrifying (especially once it's actually revealed) still creates enough tension to make everything seem a little bit urgent. There's always the mystery of where the beast came from and why to keep the reader guessing. The other unique element is the magic. There are those in Eurona who have magical healing (or killing) powers called the lashed. They aren't allowed to use their magic and, if they do, there's an obvious sign that allows them to be found out. I thought they were interesting, although I wish there had been more background information given.

The Great Hunt honestly comes off as an adult historical romance novel masquerading as a YA fantasy. Literally the first scene of the book is two teens getting very close to down and dirty on a boat dock. I feel like the author really wanted to write a more explicit book, but tamed it a bit and threw in some magic to market it to a younger crowd. Although it was an okay book, it wasn't anything like what I expected. This is a duology and I honestly probably won't read the next one since this book actually wrapped up pretty well. If you're into fantasy that's overpowered by romance or you want to break into Harlequin romance gently, this is the book for you!

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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Weekly Recap: 3/20 - 3/26


My Super Exciting Life 

This week has, again, been pretty uneventful. Thank goodness. I love those kinds of weeks the most! My mom came into town on Friday night and Saturday was a pretty lazy day. Tomorrow we might go see Allegiant and the rest of the week will consist of me walking about 1280274 dogs. I can't complain though! I love getting paid to play with puppies!

Yesterday I made an exciting discovery while hanging out at Barnes and Noble! I decided to browse the YA section just to kill some time and came across The Winner's Kiss! B&N always seems to be confused about release dates for YA books. I feel like I find books out early almost every time I go in the store! Again, I can't complain because I got to go home with the end of the Winner's trilogy four days early!!



New Books

Purchased: 



Library:

    



In Case You Missed It

Monday ARC review of Stonefield
The topic was books I don't talk about enough for Top Ten Tuesday
I featured Roseblood for Waiting on Wednesday
On Thursday I talked about my love/hate relationship with Gossip Girl
Friday book review of The Siren



This Week I Read
  

  



Upcoming Reviews

  


I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
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Friday, March 25, 2016

Book Review: The Siren by Kiera Cass


Title: The Siren
Author: Kiera Cass
Publication Date: January 26, 2016 (July 1, 2009)
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 327
Add to Goodreads

From Kiera Cass, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Selection series, comes a sweeping stand-alone fantasy romance.

A girl with a secret.
The boy of her dreams.
An Ocean between them.

Years ago, Kahlen was rescued from drowning by the Ocean. To repay her debt, she has served as a Siren ever since, using her voice to lure countless strangers to their deaths. Though a single word from Kahlen can kill, she can’t resist spending her days on land, watching ordinary people and longing for the day when she will be able to speak and laugh and live freely among them again.

Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude...until she meets Akinli. Handsome, caring, and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of.

Falling in love with a human breaks the Ocean’s rules. But for the first time in a lifetime of following the rules, Kahlen is determined to follow her heart.

I have a love/hate relationship with Kiera Cass. I loved her initial Selection trilogy, but I hated The Heir and never quite understood why there was ever a need for it to exist. I added The Siren to my TBR list way back before I ever read The Heir, when I was still excited about Kiera's books. Back when it looked like that. →

Even after really not liking The Heir, when I saw that The Siren was being re-released with an edit and a new cover, I decided to give it a try. Although I didn't go in with high expectations, I did expect to enjoy it since it was a departure from The Selection series.

The Siren begins with Kahlen's story before she became a siren. It's brief and doesn't give a huge amount of detail, although it's enough to explain how she became a mythical creature. Very quickly, we skip ahead 80 years and Kahlen is still a teenager in every way, which seems a little weird. It seems to me that if a person lives for almost 100 years, they should have a different level of maturity than your standard teenager, but okay... I don't really have much to say about Kahlen because, despite reading over 300 pages of her story, I don't feel like I learned anything about her. The entire story is literally about Kahlen moping and being depressed over the tragedy that is her life and her lost "soulmate," which brings me to Akinli.

Again, I don't feel like I learned enough about Akinli to make any kind of statement about his character. Kahlen repeatedly tells the reader what an incredible, perfect person he is, but how do I know this? All I came away from The Siren knowing about this character is that he's from Maine, likes cake, and knows how to dance. I don't feel like I have any reason to dislike Akinli, but I certainly don't know enough about him to say that I like him.

Let's jump right into the "romance" shall we? Allow me break this relationship down for you. Kahlen and Akinli meet twice, have one date, don't see each other for several months, spend less than 24 hours together, and are apparently soulmates.


Kahlen spends the entire book pining over a guy she has seen for less than 48 hours total. Less than 48 hours of 100 years, and that is completely ridiculous and unforgivable. Not only was there some pretty intense insta-love between the two love interests, but Akinli's entire family apparently instantly loves Kahlen too because... I have no idea why.

If I could sum up The Siren in one word it would be "incomplete." Reading this book, it is totally obvious that it was her first and that it needed a lot more work. Better yet, it should have been left alone. Nothing in The Siren seemed completely fleshed out. There was literally no history given on the sirens or how they came to be. The Ocean was vague and I didn't quite understand why She needed human sacrifices. The bit about the memories disappearing when a girl became a siren didn't make much sense because it only seemed to happen part of the time and the Ocean's rules seemed pointless since it seemed to be so easy to get around them.

In case I haven't made it clear, this book is NOT a book about sirens. The siren angle was secondary to the "romance" between Kahlen and Akinli. The fact that Kahlen was a siren only served as a way to keep the two apart so that they could pine over each other and almost die of heartbreak. (Excuse me while I go throw up.)

I didn't completely hate The Siren. There were a couple things I actually enjoyed, mainly Kahlen's sisters, but overall I was so disappointed by The Siren. I was really looking forward to another non-Selection book by Kiera Cass and truly hoped that I she would redeem herself in my eyes, but I have to report that was, sadly, not the case.

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

My love/hate relationship with Gossip Girl

I love Gossip Girl, I hate Gossip Girl. I have such mixed feelings about Gossip Girl!! I guess this post might seem a little out of place. I know that this show is a think of the past, but here I am anyway, talking about my love/hate relationship with this amazingly frustrating show. Why? Because I wasn't blogging when it was new and I just finished rewatching the entire series so I have to get all these feels out! (Spoilers!!)



Love

  • Blair - My feelings for Blair have changed a lot over the course of watching this show... twice. Blair is easy to hate in early seasons, but really grows as a character as events progress. In fact, she may be the ONLY character in this series who has any growth at all. I love that Blair is capable of being her own woman without a man beside her. I believe she was actually the only female character in this series to be shown as a successful businesswoman. 

  • Dan - Even at his worse, Dan was a favorite of mine. I can totally understand his motivations even if I would never have made some of the same decisions he did. Of course, Dan is in no way realistic. No teenage boy is that into literature and romance. Sure, he turns into a villain of the Upper East Side. But I love him! 

  • Blair/Dan -  These two are seriously perfect and I will forever be upset that they didn't end up together. Sure, at first they seem to be the least likely people who could ever end up together, but as the show progresses and they're pushed together for various reasons, it becomes clear that they belong together! Yes, Dan did some unsavory things to make it happen, and obviously Blair and Chuck have some kind of unhealthy/abusive love thing happening, but Blair and Dan is just so much better. Let's face it, Dan never pimped Blair out for a hotel.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Eric - Arguably the most normal character in the entire series. I loved Eric from the moment he was introduced as a mentally troubled teen. I loved how his family accepted him after he came out as gay, even if his mom took a few minutes to get there. I loved his struggle between being a good guy and sinking to Jenny's level. I was really sad to see him leave the show! 

  • Jack Bass' villainy - Obviously I hated Jack Bass as a character, but as a villain he was one of the best of this show! What a conniving, dirty scoundrel. I also loved that he ended up coming full circle by the end of the series, becoming part of the family that Chuck wanted so badly. 

  • Dorota - Probably the single best character on Gossip Girl, if we're being honest. Dorota was completely hilarious from episode one. If she was on the screen, I was probably laughing. It's a shame she couldn't have gotten even more screen time! I loved that she was never afraid of Blair and was always on her side, no matter how insane she acted. 

  • Lily/Chuck - All Chuck ever wanted was to have a family that accepted him and he found that in Lily whether he wanted to or not. And I loved it. Chuck was a complete ass to Lily over and over and she never turned her back on him. She showed him what unconditional love really looked like even when he most definitely did not deserve it.  

  • Gossip Girl reveal - I know there was a ton of debate over the big reveal. Yes, it was rushed, but I also liked it, even if it didn't make a lot of sense. Doing a rewatch allowed me to see all of the blasts while knowing who Gossip Girl actually was. It really didn't fit, but I can't deny that the only person who would have made a better Gossip Girl is Dorota. 

Hate

  • Serena - Serena is truly one of those characters that I just cannot understand. WHY does everyone love her? Why does everyone want to be her?? I would never slut-shame Serena for sleeping with whoever she wants. That being said, she is embarrassingly incapable of being alone. She bounces from one relationship to the next at an alarming rate. I have to say, Dan was spot on in his assessment of Serena in his expose. 

  • Jenny - While all of the characters in this show are scheming little bitches, Jenny is the only one who seems to have absolutely no regard for anyone but herself. She was decent in season one, but as soon as she became a main character, I started to hate her. It's like her character didn't even have a point other than to piss everyone off. 

  • Blair/Louis - WHAT EVEN was this storyline?? Sure, it was cute when Blair was vacationing in Paris, but as soon as he came back it got silly. Not only did I seriously dislike Louis character, but Louis as a villain? Just no. It was impossible to take him seriously. This storyline was blatantly just another layer to the Blair/Chuck angst. 

  • Blair/Chuck angst - The first time I watched this series, this pissed me off to no end. I get it, this is a teen soap opera, but SIX seasons of watching these two talk about how they can never be together for increasingly ridiculous reasons is almost too much. Just... be together or don't. I get that they have some kind of soulmate thing going on, but I'll never quite understand what it is. I think they just both gravitate towards drama. 

  • Chuck's momma drama - This storyline was interesting for about 10 seconds and then it just got old. Did it really need to unfold over multiple seasons? 

  • Random storylines - I wish I could've asked the writers of this series what the hell they were thinking with all the random storylines. Vanessa and Dan? Olivia Burke? Lily/Rufus love child? (What even happened to him??) Fake caner? Russell Thorpe? Diana Payne? Royal wedding? Ivy Dickens? Steven and Sage? Who needs all this when you have such an amazing cast to work with already??? 

  • Serena/Dan - But... why? HOW? Why in the world would these two end up together?? I understand that Dan had an unholy obsession with Serena, but I just cannot fathom how their relationship would work out in the long run. Couldn't Serena find someone else to bounce to? Dan definitely deserved better.

  • The finale - Wrapping up so much in one episode just did not work for me. This episode jumped all over the place and the five years later fast forward was just way too fast. I feel like the epilogue should have gotten an entire episode. Even if it did, there was a lot wrong with it, in my opinion. First, I cannot for a second believe that Dan and Serena survived an entire five years together. Second, Chuck and Blair's kid looks like he's five! I'm sorry, but what?? They both strove for success and power for six seasons and ended up having a kid five seconds after getting married? I don't buy it. And I'm not even going into all the other couples that are revealed at the wedding. -_- 

**cries**

So there it is, my big list of loves and hates from the Gossip Girl series. Of course, there were a lot of things I was neutral about and didn't include. Despite all of the things I hate about this show, and even despite the fact that I don't love how it ended, Gossip Girl (embarrassingly) remains one of my favorites!


Are you a fan of GG? Do you disagree with anything on my list? Let me know in the comments!

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday #94: RoseBlood by A.G. Howard


Happy Wednesday, fellow book lovers! This week's "can't wait to read" is:

RoseBlood
by A.G. Howard
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
In this modern day spinoff of Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide.

Hoping creative direction will help, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera. At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn -- an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks.

As the two discover an otherworldly connection, a soul-deep romance blossoms. But when Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light, he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known. Slated to launch January 2017.
I know this one is crazy early but look at that beautiful cover!! I've been waiting (not so) patiently for something new from A.G. Howard since the Splintered series ended and I'm hoping this will be just as incredible!


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine.
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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #88: Books I don't rave about enough


Today's Topic: 
 Ten Books I Really Love But Feel 
Like I Haven't Talked About Enough


I'll admit, it's easy to get caught up in all of the amazing new, hyped books that are constantly being released. The reality is, there are just SO MANY great books!! And a lot of them are a few years old... Most of these are books I read before I started blogging, but I've included links to reviews for a few! These are some of my favorite (mostly) 5-star books from the last several years that I rarely speak of!


        

The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin
Darkness Before Dawn by J.A. London
Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes


        

March Story by Kim Hyung-Min &Yang Kyung-Il 
The Raft by S.A. Bodeen (review)
The Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn (review)
This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Withering Hope by Layla Hagen (review)


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
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Monday, March 21, 2016

ARC Review: Stone Field by Christy Lenzi


Title: Stone Field
Author: Christy Lenzi
Publication Date: March 29, 2016
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Pages: 320
Add to Goodreads


//This book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review//

In a small town on the brink of the Civil War, Catrina finds a man making strange patterns in her family’s sorghum crop. He’s mad with fever, naked, and strikingly beautiful. He has no memory of who he is or what he’s done before Catrina found him in Stone Field. But that doesn’t bother Catrina because she doesn’t like thinking about the things she’s done before either.

Catrina and Stonefield fall passionately, dangerously, in love. All they want is to live with each other, in harmony with the land and away from Cat’s protective brother, the new fanatical preacher, and the neighbors who are scandalized by their relationship. But Stonefield can’t escape the truth about who he is, and the conflict tearing apart the country demands that everyone take a side before the bloodbath reaches their doorstep.

Inspired by Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Stone Field is a passionate and atmospheric story of how violence and vengeance pervert the human spirit, and how hatred can be transcended by love. 

Wuthering Heights has long been my favorite classic novel. I was forced to read it against my will in high school and ended up falling head-over-heels in love with Heathcliff and Cathy! I also happen to be a retelling junkie. So when I saw Stone Field on a Goodreads list several months ago, I knew I absolutely HAD to read it!

This YA retelling, set in America at the beginning of the Civil War, retains a lot of the same tone of the original. Cathy has been swapped out for Catrina and Heathcliff is now Stonefield. While this story is reminiscent of its source material, it is still an entirely new story that can certainly hold its own.

Catrina (also known as Cat) is a strong-willed girl who feels guilt over her mother's death and refuses to be held down or be made into a normal, submissive woman. She wears pants and runs free in the woods, making art out of whatever she can find. Her extremely religious brother disapproves, of course, and tries at every turn to reign her in. Catrina's world is turned on it's head when a amnesiac (maybe-Indian, maybe-Mexican) stranger appears. Taking the name of Stonefield, he makes himself a part of Catrina's life and from there things get really wild.

Despite my love of Wuthering Heights' characters, I had a little bit of a disorienting relationship with Stone Field's. Catrina made me extremely uncomfortable and there were times when I legitimately wondered if she was mentally stable or if she really should do a stint in an institution. Her constant running around naked in front of everyone and carving people's names into her body really made me doubt her mental soundness. The relationship between her and Stonefield required some suspension of disbelief, which I was willing to give. I can accept that they were soulmates and knew instantly, but insta-love is still a hard pill to swallow. As were her actions towards Stonefield later in the book. I may not be an expert on love, but Cat's constant decisions to hurt Stonefield via hurting herself (and others) just seemed counter-intuitive and overly childish. I'm all for a little bit of angst, but most of the decisions made in this book were not totally believable and made sympathizing very difficult.

The character I really loved was Effie, Catrina's best friend and aspiring doctor, despite her double minority status. She seemed to be the most level-headed, down-to-earth character out of all involved. I really wish there had been more exploration of her relationship with Catrina's brother. (That's another irrationally childish decision - maybe it runs in the family?)

Stone Field is a book with a very heavy emphasis on religious extremeism. While Catrina does believe in God, she wants nothing to do with him. Everywhere she turns, however, there is someone trying to force her into submission and, at one point, even trying to force a (non-existent) demon out of her! Effie and Catrina's father are the only religious characters who are not made to look completely insane, so fair warning if that sort of thing bothers you!

Cat and Stonefield's story was very interesting, despite their sometimes-childish behavior. I was up late turning pages on more that one night (and honestly may have finished it in one sitting, had I not been in the midsts of a move). This is the story of star-crossed lovers with the entire world against them (or so it seems). It is not a happily ever after fairytale, which shouldn't be much of a surprise, honestly. It is wild and gritty and sometimes downright dark.

I really enjoyed reading this incredibly unique retelling of my favorite classic, even if I didn't love the characters all the time. I would definitely suggest reading this if you are a fan of Wuthering Heights or forbidden love in general!

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