Anne & Henry – Dawn Ius

Anne & Henry – Dawn Ius
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In this wonderfully creative retelling of the infamous—and torrid—love affair between Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, history collides with the present when a sizzling romance ignites in a modern-day high school.
Henry Tudor’s life has been mapped out since the day he was born: student body president, valedictorian, Harvard Law School, and a stunning political career just like his father’s. But ever since the death of his brother, the pressure for Henry to be perfect has doubled. And now he’s trapped: forbidden from pursuing a life as an artist or dating any girl who isn’t Tudor-approved.

Then Anne Boleyn crashes into his life.

Wild, brash, and outspoken, Anne is everything Henry isn’t allowed to be—or want. But soon Anne is all he can think about. His mother, his friends, and even his girlfriend warn him away, but his desire for Anne consumes him.

Henry is willing to do anything to be with her, but once they’re together, will their romance destroy them both?

Inspired by the true story of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, Anne & Henry beautifully reimagines the intensity, love, and betrayal between one of the most infamous couples of all time.

I won a hardcover copy of this in a giveaway, so thanks so much to Christina at The Paperback Princesses and Simon & Schuster!

Instead of breaking it down to what I liked/what I didn’t like, I wrote down some thoughts about it (some mild spoilers ahead):

  • What the heck is the timeline for these events? When did Arthur/his dad die? How long has it been since Anne’s mom remarried? How long were Henry/Anne together? So many questions.
  • When will YA books realize that a “different” piercing (i.e. not your ears) does not make you “bad”? I mean, yeah, Henry thought it was hot, but I think he said that in the same breath as “she looks like trouble” or something along those lines.
  • There was a lot of emotion in the book but it seemed like it was just thrown in there without buildup: one minute Henry was worried. Then he was angry. Then he was drooling all over Anne. All in the span of two minutes.
  • At the same time, most of their emotions felt superficial. If I had to read “s/he is hot” one more time, I was going to lose my head mind.
  • Henry was such a dick. I’m sure Henry VIII was also a dick, but at least he was a king and you could understand why all the ladies were okay with being used by him. This Henry, though, is the school president, and too much of a tool to be attractive (sorry). I don’t know why Anne (or Catherine, for that matter), put up with him.
  • I kinda liked the spin on Mary Boleyn, but it could have been really interesting if Henry had known her before (like in One Tree Hill when Nathan realizes how he knows Hayley’s sister Taylor *wink wink*).
  • Key historical figures not included that could have made the book more scandalous: Mary and Elizabeth Tudor. Also George Boleyn.
  • Anne was the most developed character but then she went from “badass who doesn’t care” to “falling all over herself for her toolbox of a boyfriend” when she could have been powerful. Everyone else felt two dimensional and disingenuous (like they were being forced to talk/act a certain way), plus some of them disappeared halfway through before being brought back for the culminating scene (Sam and Charles, I’m talking about you).
  • The horse on the beach. I just…I don’t know what to say.
  • I did like the way they dealt with Anne’s “beheading” and the introduction of Jane Seymour.
  • Stylistically, there were some sentences that were
  • broken up
  • like this
  • and I found it annoying. But that’s just me! Maybe other people think it’s fun or creates a certain emphasis or tone? I don’t know.

At the end of the day, when you take away the historical context, it’s nothing but a petty high school drama with a massive dose of insta-love. The stakes aren’t as high for teen-Henry as they were for his kingly counterpart (did teen-Henry have to leave the church and form his own church just to get out of a relationship? No, he just had to make up his mind).

Nevertheless, there’s something compulsively readable about Anne & Henry. I didn’t particularly care for any of the characters, but I still wanted to find out what happened next.

I imagine it will appeal to fans of Gossip Girl and the like (I’ve never read a Gossip Girl book, but I’ve watched the whole show). If it hadn’t been for the historical ties, it’s not something I would normally be into. And the more I think about it, the more annoyed I feel.

Rating:

Dangerous Creatures – Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Dangerous Creatures – Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

23289122Ridley Duchannes is nobody’s heroine. She’s a Dark Caster, a Siren. She can make you do things. Anything. You can’t trust her, or yourself when she’s around. And she’ll be the first to tell you to stay away–especially if you’re going to do something as stupid as fall in love with her.

Lucky for Ridley, her wannabe rocker boyfriend, Wesley “Link” Lincoln, never listens to anyone. Link doesn’t care if Rid’s no good for him, and he takes her along when he leaves small-town Gatlin to follow his rock-star dream. He teams up with a ragtag group of Dark Casters, and when the band scores a gig at a hot Underground club, it looks like all of Link’s dreams are about to come true.

But New York City is a dangerous place for both Casters and Mortals, and soon Ridley realizes that Link’s bandmates are keeping secrets. With bad-boy club owner Lennox Gates on her heels, Rid is determined to find out the truth. What she discovers is worse than she could have imagined: Link has a price on his head that no Caster or Mortal can ever pay. With their lives on the line, what’s a Siren to do?

Okay, so it’s been a while since I read a Caster Chronicles book, but I don’t remember feeling THIS DISAPPOINTED when I put them down. Let’s start with Ridley.

Ridley was a great character. Emphasis on “was”. In the original series, she was a feisty badass. She took nothin’ from no-one, and, even if she had a soft side when it came to her cousin, she mostly just did what she wanted. I mean, she’s a SIREN, for glob’s sake, aren’t they supposed to be vivacious?

In this book, however, she’s basically become Lena 2.0. She’s sad and self-pitying and whiny and basically mopes around because she made a mistake and doesn’t have the lady balls to put it right. Beautiful Creatures-era Ridley would have unwrapped a lollipop so fast, poor Link’s head would spin, and she’d have set everything right in no time flat.

Now, granted, I can’t remember how Ridley’s storyline ended in Beautiful Redemption, and apparently there was some sort of e-novella in between that series and this one? So maybe I’m missing some key plot point that explains this sudden shift in behaviour (though, at this point, I think this series was written for the money. More on that in a moment).

I spent most of the book waiting for Ridley to be her normal sassy self, but it was all for naught. Instead, I cringed at the descriptions of her “sexy” outfits and sighed when she repeated the same “I’m just a Siren sitting by myself on a curb” sentence half a dozen times. She tries to make up for her lackluster personality by saying “edgy” things, but her best line – “Payback’s a bitch. But here’s the thing: So am I.” – sounds like it was taken straight out of Batman Returns, which was released 23 years ago.

catwoman

Sidenote: casting Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman was one of the greatest cinematic decisions ever made. SHE WAS PURR-FECT.

Then we move on to the love triangle. Oh yes, a love triangle.

I have a love-hate relationship with love triangles. Done well, they add drama and actually leave you feeling tangled up. Done poorly, and you find yourself yelling “THIS ISN’T EVEN A CONTEST”, while hating the character you know isn’t going to end up being The One. I remember being annoyed with Beautiful Darkness when Olivia and John were introduced (that was one wacky love quadrangle, though, I’ll give them that!); similarly, I was annoyed when Lennox was wandering around all love-struck.

I’d have actually liked Lennox’s character more if he was a strong female, mostly because I think it would have breathed more life in Ridley if she was indebted to another girl instead of a hot guy. She could have gotten all competitive and stuff, and it would have been GREAT. Also the fact that this book in particular is severely lacking in strong female characters.

To be honest, most of the book felt like it was phoned in. I remember enjoying the narrative style in the previous series, but this time around, it felt oddly stilted. There seemed to be a lot of repetition, and they probably could have used a better editor. Or, maybe, since both authors are working on their individual series, they could have just let their series end with Beautiful Redemption and been done with it.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on how they basically brought their old bad guys back to life. Because it’s not like the Ravenwood family stretches for generations upon generations. Heavens no. Silas and Abraham are the ONLY possible villains.

I could go on for a while, but let’s just leave it as this: if you liked the original four Caster Chronicles, don’t bother reading this. You’ll just end up disappointed.

Rating:

2 interrobangs

It gets 2 interrobangs because the ending was cliffhangy as all get out.

Fiction Friday Round-Up – June 5th, 2015

This was a pretty busy week; among other things, Jane and I launched our new pop culture website, Mind the Gap (which you should totally check out because we have a lot of great content!). But I also managed to completely catch up on the Flavia de Luce series, and finished a couple of ARCs. As always, please click the titles for the full review!

  • As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust – Alan Bradley: “The series is no longer simply a collection of unrelated mysteries; it started to hint at the bigger picture and Flavia’s role within that larger narrative.”
  • Devil’s Daughter – Hope Schenk de-Michele and Paul Marquez: “It had a great plot and some interesting moments but, while it had an open ending, I’m not tearing down the house in anticipating for the sequel. Definitely a good change from most of the other angel-based YA out there, though.”
  • Grunge Gods and Graveyards – Kimberly G. Giarratano: “If I was trying to pitch this book, I’d say it was a combination of Melissa Marr’s Made for You and Elizabeth Chandler’s Kissed by an Angel but with more ghosts and, well, grunge (those are all good things, by the way).”

Last week, I read a truly disappointing ARC:

  • Beyond Clueless – Linas Alsenas: “I’m sure there’s an audience for it, but this is one of those rare cases where I feel too old to read this and I think it would be better received by readers aged 12-14”.

But I also read a great female-centric comic book, so it sort of evened out!

  • Rat Queens Vol 1: Sass & Sorcery – Kurtis J. Wiebe: “There are also light, funny moments in between all the fighting; whether it’s Betty packing candy and drugs for dinner again or Dee being anti-social i.e. reading a book at a party, you get a good glimpse at the queens’ personalities.”

ARC Reviews – May 2015

This month, I’ve read four ARCs – one of which was for a blog tour – and just started a fifth. Here’s a round-up of what I read! (please click the titles for a full review)

  • Sing for Me – Gracie Madison: “I have complicated feelings about this book. It wasn’t bad per se, I just didn’t really enjoy it. I read the whole thing, though admittedly I started skimming at about 30%.” (2 interrobangs)
  • The Rearranged Life – Annika Sharma: “This book read like a cross between Bend it Like Beckham and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and it was definitely interesting to read the descriptions and think about the differences between cultures…a cute summer read.” (3.5 interrobangs)
  • The Blooming Goddess Trilogy – Tellulah Darling: “I really enjoyed this series: it was fluffy at times but still had a strong plot. The writing was funny and compelling, and if you like contemporary takes on Greek mythology, you’ll love Sophie’s world.” (4.5 interrobangs)
  • Beyond Clueless – Linas Alsenas: “I’m sure there’s an audience for it, but this is one of those rare cases where I feel too old to read this and I think it would be better received by readers aged 12-14.” (2 interobangs)

I just started reading Devil’s Daughter and it’s interesting so far – hopefully I’ll have a review for it up next week!

What ARCs have you read this month? Anything I should look forward to?

ARC Review: Beyond Clueless – Linas Alsenas

Beyond Clueless – Linas Alsenas

24795908Marty Sullivan’s life ends, basically, when her parents enroll her in a private high school. A private, Catholic, girls-only high school. Meanwhile, at their local public school, her best friend, Jimmy, comes out of the closet and finds himself a boyfriend and a new group of friends. Marty feels left out and alone, until she gets a part in the school musical, Into the Woods, and Jimmy and his new crew are in it, too! Things start looking even better when Marty falls for foxy fellow cast member Felix Peroni. And Felix seems to like her back. But the drama is just beginning. Can Marty and Jimmy keep up their friendship? And is Marty’s new beau everything he appears to be? Or is Marty too clueless to figure it all out before it’s too late?

Release Date: August 18th, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

I genuinely don’t remember why I decided to request this from NetGalley, but apparently I did and now I feel silly because I didn’t enjoy this book very much.

On the plus side, it only took a couple of hours to read because I skimmed most of it, so I didn’t waste too much time.

Some mild spoilers ahead, but I blacked out the really spoiler-y bit.

What I liked:

-Oliver was a nice guy. In another book, I’d have probably adored him, but I was pretty “meh” about all the characters, so poor Oliver didn’t really stand a chance of sticking in my head.

-cute cover! Although now that I look at it again, I can’t figure out if this book is supposed to be MG or YA (I personally think it makes more sense as middle grade; more on that in a minute).

-props for diversity, I guess. Jimmy’s boyfriend is Sri Lankan, Marty’s best girl friend is…Asian? I can’t remember where in particular she is from, but yay diverse best friends! And of course, you have a handful of gay characters, so yay, even more diversity!

What I didn’t like:

-pretty much all the characters (except for Oliver). Marty was strongly channeling Mia in the first two Princess Diaries books except more annoying (and Mia was occasionally irritating) and, as the title suggests, was beyond clueless. But not in an endearing “oh, how sweet”, sort of way. More in a “why is she such an idiot??” way. I also couldn’t understand how one minute she was using words like “counterintuitive” and the next, she was whining about being the only one of her friends who didn’t have a boyfriend. Marty is 14. Marty needs to calm her hormones.

Her friends aren’t the greatest either, and seemed very one-dimensional. I think I was intrigued by this title because Jimmy, Marty’s best friend, comes out and I thought it would provide some sort of character development (like Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda), but Jimmy is boring. So is his boyfriend. And all their other friends.

-I could not for the life of me understand the Felix-Marty relationship. Was he just after her because he thought she was hot? What was the whole deal with Jill? Just how “hot” was Marty that it warranted this allegedly attractive guy cheating on his girlfriend? SOME ONE EXPLAIN IT TO ME.

-the Oliver thing. HIGHLIGHT FOR SPOILER

I figured out he had a crush on Marty, but it would have been SO MUCH BETTER if he came out as bisexual because that’s a great way to start the discussion, especially if it’s middle grade, or even in YA, and it would have made most of the book so much better. As it is, it felt like it was tacked on there, and honestly, why didn’t Marty question him about his parents after she found out his mother left?? He clearly mentioned “parentS”, you’d think she’d ask if his dad remarried or something.

-the other thing that confuses me is whether this is middle grade or young adult. On the one hand, this makes sense as one of those “transition-y” books in between middle grade and YA (like on the really young side of YA), but there was swearing and I honestly don’t know what the rules are for cussing in MG.

Basically, this was a disappointment. I’m not even sure why I’m giving it two stars. I’m sure there’s an audience for it, but this is one of those rare cases where I feel too old to read this (and I flippin’ LIVE for YA) and I think it would be better received by readers aged 12-14.

Rating:

2 interrobangs

ARC Review: Sing For Me – Gracie Madison

Sing For Me – Gracie Madison

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00007]Madeline Noel fled war-torn Heaven to hide within the mortal world, but the blessing that could protect her from evil is the holy realm’s forbidden power.

As a talented soprano for the Eden Theatre Company, Madeline hides among prima donnas and tone-deaf flutists. Her perfect voice may entertain audiences, but a careless laugh may shatter glass, and her greatest scream can kill. To control her unrestrained voice, the angels forbid Madeline from embracing the emotions that strengthen her song. Anger. Fear.

Love.

The demon-hunter Damascus vows to defend Madeline from Hell’s relentless evil, but he cannot protect her from her own feelings. Though they deny their dangerous attraction, her guardian becomes her greatest temptation.

Surrendering to desire may awaken the gift suppressed within Madeline’s soul, and neither Heaven nor Hell will allow such absolute power to exist.

Release Date: January 21st, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

This is one of the first NA (new adult) books I’ve read and, frankly, my thoughts on “NA” as a category could take up an entire post (hey, that’s a good idea…), but I wasn’t sure what to expect going in.

I have complicated feelings about this book. It wasn’t bad per se, I just didn’t really enjoy it. I read the whole thing, though admittedly I started skimming at about 30%. I considered abandoning it, but sheer stubbornness compelled me to read to the very end.

What I liked:

-the cover!! And the title!! It made me think of The Phantom of the Opera (which I love), and I kept singing “Think of Me” every time Madeline was on stage, so that was nice.

-the premise. A powerful voice that could literally destroy things/people? She’s like Operetta from Monster High (yeah, I know that’s a really odd reference, but Operetta is the best)!

-of all the characters, I liked Shiloh the most, but since his every other sentence was winked or smirked at someone, he started to grate on my nerves as the book went on.

-I loved that the angels were named after cities (or rather, the cities were named after the angels): Damascus, Shiloh, Tyre, Philippi, Corinth – that’s pretty cool.

What I didn’t like:

-I can’t pinpoint exactly what I didn’t like. I was just bored. I couldn’t connect to any of the characters so I didn’t really care whether they lived or died (I kinda wanted someone to die so that the story would devolve into chaos).

-it was somewhat predictable i.e. I totally saw the thing with Natalie coming (and Madeline being “named” – I mean, it was pretty obvious).

-Danielle was beyond annoying and I couldn’t even feel sorry for her poor relationship.

-that strange “even though I love her, I’m gonna say it was rape so they don’t kill her” plot point. I feel that’s problematic but I don’t have the words to explain why.

-I was very confused with the Veil. Maybe I skipped the part where it explained exactly what the Veil was, but first I thought it was her mortal shell (but then was Damascus attracted to her mortal appearance but not her real Choir appearance??), then I thought it was like an invisible protective shield (to hide her, I guess, from Corinth), and now I’m at a complete loss.

Overall, it felt a lot longer than it was. The writing was great and there were some really lyrical sentences (although it was the type of book where everything “damned” everything else ex. his love damned them all, her voice damned the world, etc). I just could not get into it though I’m positive there’s an audience out there who will love this book. Unfortunately, that audience doesn’t include me.

Rating:

2 interrobangs