Review: Once Upon a River (Diane Setterfield)

Once Upon a River
Author: Diane Setterfield
Publication Date: December 4, 2018
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Historical
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child.

Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.

Is it a miracle?

Is it magic?

Or can it be explained by science?

Replete with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale.


Once Upon a River is not the typical book I would read. It’s a historical fantasy that’s highly character driven. The reason I picked it up is because of my love for Diane Setterfield’s first book, The Thirteenth Tale. While this book didn’t quite reach my love for that book, I still found it an interesting and engaging read.

Once Upon a River feels like reading a folktale. It’s set along the Thames river, and revolves around the mystery of a girl who is plucked from the river. At first, she seems to be dead. Then, she is alive. More than one person claims she is theirs. No one really knows what to make of it all. It’s a giant mystery that slowly unravels through multiple points of view over time.

To be honest, it took me a few chapters to really get into this book and it’s story. There is a lot of detail and many characters to follow. Once I was invested in the story and the mystery of the little girl, I was hooked. I wanted to know what happened to her and what part all of the people played. I won’t go into the plot more because I don’t want to give anything away, but I was impressed by the outcome and the revelations. I had some ideas of what had happened, but very few of them were true. Once Upon a River ended up surprising me and I loved that!

I feel like I need to point out that this is a story that builds gradually over many pages. At 480 pages long, Once Upon a River is not a short book. It’s slower paced and takes a while to build momentum. While some might shy away from reading it for those reasons, I actually found myself liking how it built and the time it took to tie everything together. That’s not something I normally say, as I like faster paced reading experiences. Overall, Once Upon a River was a well written and plotted book.

Review: In Bed with the Beast by Tara Sivec

In Bed with the Beast
Series: Naughty Princess Club, #2
Author: Tara Sivec
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Swerve
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A tale as old as time: she needs a place to stay, he’s a grump with a secret and an extra room…can love find a way?

Meet the Naughty Princess Club, a series from USA Today bestselling author Tara Sivec that brings readers to Fairytale Lane and the hilarity—and romance—that three women fall into once they decide to strut their stuff and bring on their own happily ever after.

Living in her overprotective dad’s basement, shy Belle lives her life through books. Being a part of the Naughty Princess Club is the first adventure she’s ever had, plus she desperately needs the money to save one of her favorite places – the local library.

But when her new friends and new business gets her kicked out of her dad’s house, Belle is rescued by the surly Vincent “Beast” Adams who invites her to be his house guest until she gets back on her feet. Despite his attitude problem and long list of rules, Belle finds herself warming to the muscled man with a penchant for growling and starts seeing a gentle side to him that wasn’t there before.

Yet there’s a room that Beast keeps locked and Belle keeps getting hints that Beast is hiding something…can a nerdy librarian tame the beast or will their romance be over before it has a chance to blossom?


Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie ever. When I received an email offering to let me read In Bed with the Beast before it’s release, I took it as an opportunity to revisit two characters I love in a new way and to read a new-to-me author. I was pleasantly surprised.

Tara Sivec’s writing was fun in an over the top way. The story was cute, but silly. Belle was a sheltered young woman with an uptight father. Beast wasn’t a beast in looks, but in his gruff personality. Belle leaves her father’s house to explore grown up life, and Beast ends up sweetly taking her in. He has rules for Belle to follow and, well, some of the story imitates but does not copy the original. This take on Beauty and the Beast was extremely entertaining.

Belle made me smile. She was book smart, brainy, and unaware of her beauty. When she got nervous, she rambled off crazy facts. She did it often and at the funniest moments. (Belle almost reminded me of Janie Morris from Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid, and that’s a good thing.) The only one who really appreciated it was Beast. He was a stoic man until it came to Belle. I liked what hid between his tough exterior. Beast was surprisingly sweet and kind. Belle and Beast were so cute together!

Not only did I enjoy Belle and Beast, but all of the other Disney-like characters who popped up in this story. All of my favorite characters from Beauty and the Beast are mentioned in hilarious, magical ways. I also liked Belle’s feisty friends, Cindy and Ariel (I’m sure you can guess which Disney favorites they come from). I wouldn’t mind reading their books in this series as well.

In Bed with the Beast was a Beauty and the Beast retelling that I haven’t read before. The story and characters had this over the top humor that didn’t poke fun at the original tale, but made light of it. I truly enjoyed the experience of reading it.

Review: All In by Emma Scott

29483226All In
Series: Full Tilt, #2
Author: Emma Scott
Publication Date: October 11, 2016
Publisher: Trillian
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Note: I received this book from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Reeling from her loss, Kacey Dawson is grieving and heartbroken, her addictive demons hauling her back into the alcohol-soaked abyss she worked so hard to crawl out of. Kacey teeters on the edge of oblivion, and must fight her way through the pain, to build a new life for herself with her music, and somehow fulfill the promise she made to Jonah…one she feels is impossible to keep.

Theo Fletcher has a secret burning in his heart, one that he holds close, while he struggles to keep strong for his family that is falling apart. His mother’s health is fragile and his father’s disapproval is breaking him down. Theo is afraid if he follows his heart, he’ll fail, and not just himself, but his brother who believed in him when no one else did.

Drawn together by their pain, Theo and Kacey slowly build a friendship, re-forge old ties, help each other to heal, and give one another the courage to reach for their dreams. Together, from the depths of grief and guilt, they learn to laugh again, to trust again, and quite possibly find something beautiful and lasting amid the shattered pieces of their broken hearts.

Part II of the two-part Full Tilt duet
PLEASE NOTE, this novel is NOT a standalone. It is highly recommended one read Full Tilt first to get the entire arc of the story and to avoid spoilers.


In Full Tilt, Emma Scott began an emotional story that was so deep and moving, but completely devastating. It broke me. When I got to the end of it, I couldn’t imagine not reading its sequel, All In. I needed to know how all of the characters moved on from the trauma of Full Tilt.

All In had a different feel to me than Full Tilt. Even though it dealt with Kacey, Theo, their friends and family’s grief, there was a feeling of lightness to it. There was still some devastation and sadness, but there was also hope and healing. The way Emma Scott navigated her characters through one of the toughest times of their lives was exceptional and inspirational.

 

One of the things I loved the most about All In was how Kacey found love and strength with Theo. At first, I wasn’t so sure what I thought about Kacey falling for Jonah’s brother. I thought it might be uncomfortable or seem unnatural. Kacey and Theo’s relationship didn’t make me feel either of those things. It progressed slowly and in a way I could understand and relate to. It was sweet and actually really perfect. I loved them together — maybe even more than I loved Kasey and Jonah.

I absolutely loved this duet and would recommend it to romance readers. It was a beautifully written journey of love, loss and healing.

Release Blitz Review: The Bachelor Auction by Rachel Van Dyken

bachelor_auction_blitz

Are you ready to Meet Brock Wellington?
The Bachelor Auction is NOW AVAILABLE!

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2cqtEJo
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2casLH2
iBooks: http://apple.co/2c4SmQS
B&N: http://bit.ly/1SKyEdn
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2bgINiM
GooglePlay: http://bit.ly/2bNZuQE

bachelor_auction_live

the-bachelor-auction-cover

BLURB:

Jane isn’t entirely sure that Cinderella got such a raw deal. Sure, she had a rough start, but didn’t she eventually land a prince and a happily-ever-after? Meanwhile, Jane is busy waiting on her demanding, entitled sisters, running her cleaning business, and . . . yep, not a prince in sight. Until a party and a broken shoe incident leave Jane wondering if princes—or at least, a certain deliciously hunky billionaire—maybe do exist.

Except Brock Wellington isn’t anyone’s dream guy. Hell, a prince would never agree to be auctioned off in marriage to the highest bidder. Or act like an arrogant jerk—even if it was just a façade. Now, as Brock is waiting for the auction chopping block, he figures it’s karmic retribution that he’s tempted by a sexy, sassy woman he can’t have. But while they can’t have a fairy-tale ending, maybe they can indulge in a little bit of fantasy…

the-bachelor-auction-teaser-2

REVIEW:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

I read and loved Rachel Van Dyken’s New Adult series Ruin, but I hadn’t had the chance to read any of her adult contemporaries yet. I was excited to get the chance with The Bachelor Auction. 

The Bachelor Auction was a fun Cinderella retelling. It didn’t follow the plot to a T, but I liked how it slightly resembled it. Rachel Van Dyken’s writing was just as good as I remembered it. It was cute and funny, but also touched on deeper emotions. The main characters in this story were pretty messed up. Each was dealing with their own pain and set of problems.

Jane was a very sweet woman. That was a good and bad thing. Good in that it made people like her (including me), but bad in that it made her a pushover. She let her sisters take advantage of her and ruin her self-confidence. I loved watching her grow throughout the book and learn to stand up for herself and what she wanted.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Brock. I understood the demons he was fighting, but his hot and cold attitude drove me nuts. I don’t think I would have been as understanding as Jane was. I would have been done with him long before he straightened himself out.

What really made this book were the supporting characters. There was an adorable meddling grandfather, hilariously rowdy farm animals, and witty twin brothers. The twin brothers were the best part of the entire thing. Their horny commentary had me laughing so hard. I hate to say it, but I kind of wished Jane would have run away with one of them…But I know their stories are coming up, so at least I’ll get more of them. I can’t wait to find out who they fall for!

Overall, The Bachelor Auction was a good start to what is bound to be a great new series. I’m really looking forward to reading what comes next for the Wellington family.

**I received an ARC from TRSOR Promotions via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

the-bachelor-auction-teaser

rachel-van-dyken ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 trsor-promotions-profile

“A Long Time Ago, in a Land Far, Far Away” Book Tag

http---www.pixteller.com-pdata-t-l-434993

I was tagged by the lovely Cristina @ My Tiny Obsessions for the “A Long Time Ago, In A Land Far, Far Away” Book Tag. This tag was created by Keira @Pirate Lady Pages. It looks like so much fun! Thanks, Cristina!


ONCE UPON A TIME

At least in western fairy-tales, once upon a time is the most common and well-known opening for a traditional fairytale. What book opening makes you feel nostalgic?

If you’ve read The DUFF, you’re probably laughing. This book is in no way my life story, but it did remind me of being 18. Like Bianca in the beginning, my friends and I used to go to this 18 and over club in Seattle called DV8. (I totally just aged myself for anyone who lives in the Seattle area. Lol.) It kind of made me miss that time in my life. So much drama — but so much fun!

IN A LAND FAR, FAR AWAY

Another common opening which speaks of far off places. What is a book set in a country completely unlike your own?

Roman Crazy is (gasp!) set in Rome. Even though it’s set in present day, there are so many customs that are different from what I experience daily in the U.S. I really enjoyed reading about them.

FROM MOUTH TO MOUTH

Our oldest fairy tales were told time and time again with no written record, told only in the spoken form. Everyone had their own version of the fairy tales. What is your favorite retelling?

Broken is a take on the Beauty and the Beast theme. The entire Redemption series by Lauren Layne is filled with fun retellings with interconnected characters. I loved reading them.

THROUGH THE GENERATIONS

Fairy tales are told to us as children and so are passed on through the years. What is a book that someone beloved passed on to you?

Where’d You Go, Bernadette was passed from my sister to my mom and then to me. It was a funny and amazing book. Plus, it was set in Seattle. I loved it!

A SPECIAL STORY

Fairy tales are a big part of our culture and say a lot about who we are as people. What is your favorite fairytale and what does it say about you?

I’ll always have a soft spot for Beauty and the Beast. I think it came out when I was in junior high. My friend gave me the VHS tape of it (Yes, I’m THAT old.) and we used to watch it all of the time. I think that says I have emotional ties to memories from the past?

AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER

Fairy tales tend to have happy endings. What is a book you’ll love forever?

I can’t say enough how special Bright Side is to me. I try to base my life on some of the stuff I read in this book. It was filled with every emotion and such a touching story.


I Tag:

Alex
Ashley
Jesse
Jill
Joey
Sky
Stephanie
The Orang-utan Librarian

And anyone else who wants to join in!

Review: The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse

The Neverland Wars

Author: Audrey Greathouse

Publication Date: May 9, 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retelling 

Note: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Magic can do a lot—give you flight, show you mermaids, help you taste the stars, and… solve the budget crisis? That’s what the grown-ups will do with it if they ever make it to Neverland to steal its magic and bring their children home.

However, Gwen doesn’t know this. She’s just a sixteen-year-old girl with a place on the debate team and a powerful crush on Jay, the soon-to-be homecoming king. She doesn’t know her little sister could actually run away with Peter Pan, or that she might have to chase after her to bring her home safe. Gwen will find out though—and when she does, she’ll discover she’s in the middle of a looming war between Neverland and reality.

She’ll be out of place as a teenager in Neverland, but she won’t be the only one. Peter Pan’s constant treks back to the mainland have slowly aged him into adolescence as well. Soon, Gwen will have to decide whether she’s going to join impish, playful Peter in his fight for eternal youth… or if she’s going to scramble back to reality in time for the homecoming dance.


  ★ ★ ★ 


The Neverland Wars takes the reader on a return journey to Peter Pan‘s Neverland. Gwen, a teenager who would rather spend time telling her younger sister stories than wearing makeup, isn’t aware magic exists in the world. When her sister goes missing, their parents are forced to tell Gwen that magic rules the world and her sister has been abducted by none other than the mythical Peter Pan. Gwen is completely shocked and extremely worried about her sister.

Gwen doesn’t have much time to wallow in her fear because soon Peter and her sister have returned to fly Gwen back to Neverland with them. Gwen only goes to keep an eye on her sister, but finds herself enchanted with Neverland. But Neverland isn’t the safe, happy place it should be. There’s a war brewing between Gwen’s world and Peter’s Neverland. Soon, she’s forced to make the decision to grow up in her world or stay eternally young in Peter’s.

My favorite thing about The Neverland Wars was Audrey Greathouse’s writing style. I was enchanted by her vision of Neverland. I could easily imagine what it looked like through Gwen’s eyes. The descriptions were very vivid and really cool. The characters fit perfectly in this setting, especially Gwen with her hesitance to leave childhood behind. I also loved the way magic was woven into the real world setting. It was fun to read.

My least favorite thing about it was the war plot. With it being part of the title, it wasn’t included in as much of the story as I expected. When it was, it just felt kind of thrown in. I never felt like the war was explained well enough. I also felt a little confused by Gwen’s return trip home and the party at the end of the book. I couldn’t tell if it was setting things up for a sequel or if Gwen’s decision at the end was the end. That being said, The Neverland Wars was still a fun read.

Teenage fans of Peter Pan will like returning to Neverland in Audrey Greathouse’s The Neverland Wars. It’s a good, “clean” fairy tale retelling that can be enjoyed by ages.

 

The Isle of the Lost: Review & Interview with the Kiddo

The Isle of the Lost by Melissa De La Cruz

Publication Date: May 5, 2015

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:

Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon and made to live in virtual imprisonment on the Isle of the Lost. The island is surrounded by a magical force field that keeps the villains and their descendants safely locked up and away from the mainland. Life on the island is dark and dreary. It is a dirty, decrepit place that’s been left to rot and forgotten by the world.

But hidden in the mysterious Forbidden Fortress is a dragon’s eye: the key to true darkness and the villains’ only hope of escape. Only the cleverest, evilest, nastiest little villain can find it…who will it be?

Maleficent, Mistress of the Dark: As the self-proclaimed ruler of the isle, Maleficent has no tolerance for anything less than pure evil. She has little time for her subjects, who have still not mastered life without magic. Her only concern is getting off the Isle of the Lost.

Mal: At sixteen, Maleficent’s daughter is the most talented student at Dragon Hall, best known for her evil schemes. And when she hears about the dragon’s eye, Mal thinks this could be her chance to prove herself as the cruelest of them all.

Evie: Having been castle-schooled for years, Evil Queen’s daughter, Evie, doesn’t know the ins and outs of Dragon Hall. But she’s a quick study, especially after she falls for one too many of Mal’s little tricks.

Jay: As the son of Jafar, Jay is a boy of many talents: stealing and lying to name a few. Jay and Mal have been frenemies forever and he’s not about to miss out on the hunt for the dragon’s eye.

Carlos: Cruella de Vil’s son may not be bravest, but he’s certainly clever. Carlos’s inventions may be the missing piece in locating the dragon’s eye and ending the banishment for good.

Mal soon learns from her mother that the dragon’s eye is cursed and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She’ll just need a little help from her “friends.” In their quest for the dragon’s eye, these kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain’t so bad.

Note: This review is going to be a little different from my other reviews. Since I read The Isle of the Lost with my 7-year-old daughter, I’m going to give you a quick review and then I’m going to interview my daughter about the book.


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


I decided to read The Isle of the Lost to my daughter after watching Disney’s Descendants movie. My daughter loved it, so I thought it would be a good way to get her interested in chapter books without pictures. I struggle getting her to read them because she wants all of her book to have pictures (in color, if possible). This was the perfect way to branch out.

The Isle of the Lost was a fun read. Since my daughter and I were already familiar with the characters, we could try to guess what was going to happen next or who was responsible for something. Each chapter wasn’t too long or too short. It was perfect for reading out loud for 10 to 15 minutes prior to bed. The story was entertaining and we were both excited to see how Mal, Evie, Carlos and Jay became friends. There were new settings to see on the island and we even got a peak at what was going on with Prince Ben in Auradon.

If you or your child loved Disney’s Descendants movieThe Isle of the Lost is sure to be a big hit.


What My Daughter Thought of The Isle of the Lost

Me: If you could give The Isle of the Lost between 1 to 5 stars, 1 being worst and 5 being best, how many would you give it?

Kiddo: 5 stars

Me: What was your favorite part of the book?

Kiddo: Them going to the castle.

Me: Who was your favorite character?

Kiddo: Mal. I like her purple hair and purple clothes.

Me: What didn’t you like about the book?

Kiddo: Nothing. I wish it had pictures.

Me: Would you tell your friends to read it?

Kiddo: Yes!


Here is the trailer for Disney’s Descendants, in case you haven’t seen it yet.

Before the Blog #8: Vendetta

Before the Blog is a weekly blog meme hosted by Karis Jacobstein over @ YA Litwit. It’s an opportunity to showcase books a blogger read and loved prior to starting their blog .  I love this idea because there are so many amazing books I haven’t reviewed on A Novel Glimpse because I read them a long time ago. The only rules to this meme are to answer the following questions about the book chosen to review:

  • Why did you choose this book? 
  • When did you read this book? 
  • Who would you recommend this book to? 

_________________________________________________________________________

Vendetta (Blood for Blood #1) by Catherine Doyle

Publication Date: February 24, 2015

Publisher: Chicken House Ltd.

Synopsis:

Sophie Gracewell is thrown into a dangerous game of revenge when five brothers move into the long abandoned mansion in her neighborhood. Sophie is drawn to one of the brothers, Nicoli. Their families warn them to stay away from each other, but Sophie and Nicoli can’t help falling for each other. As soon as they do, Sophie will be forced to make decisions she didn’t even know existed.

Why did you choose this book?

Vendetta wasn’t what I was expecting it to be. For some reason, I was expecting a vampire story. (It’s not.) What I got was so much more interesting: a modern day Romeo and Juliet story filled with the mob. I was drawn into Sophie’s world and I honestly think this should be the next big series everyone is talking about.

When did you read this book?

In May of 2015, I saw it displayed on a library shelf. I grabbed the opportunity to read it because I had originally seen the book in BookPage magazine and thought it sounded interesting.

Who would you recommend this book to?

Anyone that enjoys a great YA series –especially with forbidden love or mob stories. So far, there are no love triangles or sex. There is some violence.


Check out my other Before the Blog posts here:

Before the Blog #1: Dear Daughter 

Before the Blog #2: There is No Light in Darkness

Before the Blog #3: The Lace Reader

Before the Blog #4: The Beach Trees

Before the Blog #5: The Raven Boys

Before the Blog #6: Waiting on You

Before the Blog #7: A Little Something Different

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Fairytale Retellings I’ve Read/Want to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is Ten Fairytale Retellings I’ve Read/Want To Read (or you could do fairytales I want to be retold or fairytales I love). My list will also include fables and Shakespeare since I haven’t read a ton of fairytale based novels. I guess I need to branch out more! Here is my list:


1. Impossible 
by Nancy Werlin

– Scarborough Fair

(Read)

Impossible (Impossible, #1)


2. Extraordinary 
by Nancy Werlin

-Wicked / The Wizard of OZ

(Read)

Extraordinary


3. Isn’t She Lovely 
by Lauren Layne

– Pygmalion

(Read)

Isn't She Lovely (Redemption, #0.5)


4. Broken
 by Lauren Layne

– Beauty and the Beast

(Read)

Broken (Redemption, #1)


5. Crushed 
by Lauren Layne

-The Ugly Duckling

(Read)

Crushed (Redemption, #2)


6. Cinder & Ella 
by Kelly Oram

-Cinderella

(Read)

Cinder & Ella


7. Finding Cinderella
by Colleen Hoover

– Cinderella

(Read)

Finding Cinderella (Hopeless, #2.5)


8. Vendetta 
by Catherine Doyle

– Romeo and Juliet

(Read)

Vendetta (Blood for Blood, #1)


9. A Court of Thorns and Roses 
by Sarah J. Maas

– Beauty and the Beast

(Want to read)

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)


10. The Iron King 
by Julie Kagawa

–  Midsummer Night’s Dream

(Want to read)

The Iron King (The Iron Fey, #1)

What are some of your favorite fairytale retelling or ones you would like to read? Tell me in the comments!