ARC REVIEW: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

girls made of snow and glass

I recieved this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. (Publication: September 5th, 2017)

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

SynopsisAt sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings, LGBT

Review: I’ve always been a fan of retellings, but what grabbed my interest about this one in particular was the overtly feminist message it advocated from the beginning. The author is fully aware about how this book will be received by readers, and I think, surprisingly, that’s a good thing. The novel takes pains to never pit the two women against each other, instead focusing on building their relationship. As a result, the fallout that occurs is made that much sadder.

Miscommunication is the crux of this novel. What it lacks in obstacles and exposition, it makes up for in exceptional character development. Although often frustrating, there are points in this novel where you see real change occur, and they are special. Seamless transitions between narratives in the past and present allow for the story to flow naturally, to provide important background which leads to development. However, that development, that depth, falls only on Lynet and Mina. I truly wish Nadia had been developed more, as she brought a new component to an often revisited tale. I also thought that for a stand-alone, it was lacking in real progress. It seemed to set the stage for more than what actually occurred. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by the LGBT+ representation.

This is a wonderful novel and a wonderful retelling. It sets the bar high for authors in the future who seek to write feminist endings for well-loved fairytales.

Add it on Goodreads!

ARC Review: The Amateurs (The Amateurs #1) by Sara Shepard

the amateurs

I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

SummaryAs soon as Seneca Frazier sees the post on the Case Not Closed website about Helena Kelly, she’s hooked. Helena’s high-profile disappearance five years earlier is the one that originally got Seneca addicted to true crime. It’s the reason she’s a member of the site in the first place.

So when Maddy Wright, her best friend from the CNC site, invites Seneca to spend spring break in Connecticut looking into the cold case, she immediately packs her bag. But the moment she steps off the train in trendy, glamorous Dexby, things begin to go wrong. Maddy is nothing like she expected, and Helena’s sister, Aerin Kelly, seems completely hostile and totally uninterested in helping with their murder investigation.

But when Brett, another super user from the site, joins Seneca and Maddy in Dexby, Aerin starts to come around. The police must have missed something, and someone in Dexby definitely has information they’ve been keeping quiet.

As Seneca, Brett, Maddy, and Aerin begin to unravel dark secrets and shocking betrayals about the people closest to them, they seem to be on the murderer’s trail at last. But somewhere nearby the killer is watching . . . ready to do whatever it takes to make sure the truth stays buried.

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Crime, Thriller

Review: I was a big fan of Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars books when I was in middle school, and I always found them incredibly engaging. This was no different. It was fast faced and kept you guessing right up until the very last second. While there were a few lines here and there that I personally disagreed with, it was interesting and I absolutely couldn’t put it down. The characters were all well rounded, the plot well thought out and executed precisely, and you were kept on the edge of your seat with the constant twists and turns. I’ll definitely be continuing on with this series, especially after such a cliffhanger! This just might be Shepard’s best book yet.

ARC Review: The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti

lizzie lovett

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

SummaryHawthorn wasn’t trying to insert herself into a missing person’s investigation. Or maybe she was. But that’s only because Lizzie Lovett’s disappearance is the one fascinating mystery their sleepy town has ever had. Bad things don’t happen to popular girls like Lizzie Lovett, and Hawthorn is convinced she’ll turn up at any moment-which means the time for speculation is now.

So Hawthorn comes up with her own theory for Lizzie’s disappearance. A theory way too absurd to take seriously…at first. The more Hawthorn talks, the more she believes. And what better way to collect evidence than to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life? Like getting a job at the diner where Lizzie worked and hanging out with Lizzie’s boyfriend. After all, it’s not as if he killed her-or did he?

Told with a unique voice that is both hilarious and heart-wrenching, Hawthorn’s quest for proof may uncover the greatest truth is within herself.

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery

Review: Let me preface this review by saying I absolutely cannot wait for this book to be published. I requested it on a whim, and I could not be more happy that it came into my life, especially right now. It’s one of the finest examples of character development in contemporary young adult fiction by far. The entire book flows seamlessly, naturally, and without hesitation. There are moments of harsh reality and raw emotion. It is a book about self-discovery and realization, and it does not hold back.

Hawthorn Creely is one of the most relatable narrators out there. Her “cliche” moments don’t seem that at all – they’re simply who she is, and what she struggles with on a daily basis. She’s a loser, but at no point does she attempt to change herself to fit others. She is unabashedly original, but that doesn’t mean she always loves being that way. She’s hard to handle sometimes, and that’s what makes her all the better. She goes through the ups and downs that we all do, and she handles them in stride, even when it’s hard.

Every inch of this book was flawless. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and y the end of it I felt emotionally drained. I felt everything Hawthorn did, and I just wanted to give her a hug. It’s by far one of the best YA novels I’ve read, and I can’t wait for everyone to be able to experience it and find something of themselves in it the way that I did.

This book is, ultimately, about discovery. Disocvering yourself, others, and life for what it really is.

The Cresswell Plot by Eliza Wass [ARC Review]

cresswell plot

I recieved this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

SummaryCastella Cresswell and her five siblings—Hannan, Caspar, Mortimer, Delvive, and Jerusalem—know what it’s like to be different. For years, their world has been confined to their ramshackle family home deep in the woods of upstate New York. They abide by the strict rule of God, whose messages come directly from their father.

Slowly, Castley and her siblings start to test the boundaries of the laws that bind them. But, at school, they’re still the freaks they’ve always been to the outside world. Marked by their plain clothing. Unexplained bruising. Utter isolation from their classmates. That is, until Castley is forced to partner with the totally irritating, totally normal George Gray, who offers her a glimpse of a life filled with freedom and choice.

Castley’s world rapidly expands beyond the woods she knows so well and the beliefs she once thought were the only truths. There is a future waiting for her if she can escape her father’s grasp, but Castley refuses to leave her siblings behind. Just as she begins to form a plan, her father makes a chilling announcement: the Cresswells will soon return to their home in heaven. With time running out on all of their lives, Castley must expose the depth of her father’s lies. The forest has buried the truth in darkness for far too long. Castley might be their last hope for salvation.

Rating:  ★ ★ ★

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Review: I came into this book not knowing what to expect, just having been intrigued enough to request an advanced copy, and I was pleasantly surprised. Though short, an incredible amount of development occurred. I really enjoyed the religious aspect of the book, which I was surprised by. Even as the book made clear that the Cresswell family took part in a harmful form of religion, religion as a whole was never condemned by the author, which I thought was so important. There was very little romance that occurred, and I was so happy about that. And when it was there, it was not only focused on one couple. However, I will admit, I was put off by the idea of incest. It was certainly not approved of, and was shown to be wrong, but I was a little wary. I loved Castley’s development. It was so natural and felt so right for her situation.The development for everyone in the family was amazing. There was a fair amount of surprises, which was great! I do wish this had been just a bit longer, though. I feel like if it was, the plot development and minor character development would have reached a whole new level. I also wish there had been more about their family history. I would’ve loved to see more about their father’s and his reasons for becoming who he was, and his motives for doing the things he does at the end. Overall, this was a very good book that I enjoyed immensely. I’m so glad to have received the ARC!