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Review: Menagerie

11.16.2015
Menagerie by Rachel Vincent
Published: September 29th, 2015 by MIRA
Source: NetGalley
*I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected the opinions stated below.
From New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent comes a richly imagined, provocative new series set in the dark mythology of the Menagerie…

When Delilah Marlow visits a famous traveling carnival, Metzger's Menagerie, she is an ordinary woman in a not-quite-ordinary world. But under the macabre circus black-top, she discovers a fierce, sharp-clawed creature lurking just beneath her human veneer. Captured and put on exhibition, Delilah in her black swan burlesque costume is stripped of her worldly possessions, including her own name, as she's forced to "perform" in town after town.

But there is breathtaking beauty behind the seamy and grotesque reality of the carnival. Gallagher, her handler, is as kind as he is cryptic and strong. The other "attractions"—mermaids, minotaurs, gryphons and kelpies—are strange, yes, but they share a bond forged by the brutal realities of captivity. And as Delilah struggles for her freedom, and for her fellow menagerie, she'll discover a strength and a purpose she never knew existed.

Renowned author Rachel Vincent weaves an intoxicating blend of carnival magic and startling humanity in this intricately woven and powerful tale.


 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg

I made the mistake of waiting a very very long time to actually write this review, which is a mistake I haven't made too often, but I'm just gonna tell you to never follow in my footsteps because it makes life very hard. BUT. But. The thing about Menagerie is that it definitely stays with you for awhile. There's so much of it that still sticks out in my mind.

I think a lot of people have put this warning in their reviews, but I'm still going to say it: Menagerie is not YA. I knew that going in, but I've still seen a lot of misconception about it. Menagerie is also not a romance, nor is it really for the faint of heart. It's not gory, but the topics it deals with are hard.

Rachel Vincent does a beautiful job with something that makes you feel really really...gross. A beautiful, incredible job. Delilah has lived a relatively normal, human life. But then she visits Metzger's Menagerie for the first time since she was a little girl, where sirens and oracles and werewolves are put on display for people willing to pay the price of admission. And there, she sees how the crew really get their subjects to perform - with force. With volts of electricity. And it's there that, in front of spectators and her friends that she transforms into something. Something not human. Something that isn't legal in her world. And so she's thrown in jail, poked and prodded as her rights and her dignity are stripped away, and then she's sold to that very same Menagerie.

ARC Review: Velvet Undercover

11.14.2015
Velvet Undercover by Teri Brown
Published: October 20th, 2015 by Balzer + Bray
Source: Edelweiss
*I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected the opinions stated below.

Samantha Donaldson’s family has always done its duty for the British Crown. In the midst of World War I, seventeen-year-old Sam follows in their footsteps, serving her country from the homefront as a Girl Guide and messenger for the intelligence organization MI5. After her father disappears on a diplomatic mission, she continues their studies of languages, high-level mathematics, and complex puzzles and codes, hoping to make him proud.

When Sam is asked to join the famed women’s spy group La Dame Blanche she’s torn—this could be the adventure she’s dreamed of, but how can she abandon her mother, who has already lost a husband to the war? But when her handlers reveal shocking news, Sam realizes there’s no way she can refuse the exciting and dangerous opportunity.

Her acceptance leads her straight into the heart of enemy territory on a mission to extract the most valuable British spy embedded in Germany, known to the members of LDB only as Velvet. Deep undercover within the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Samantha must navigate the labyrinthine palace and its many glamorous—and secretive—residents to complete her assignment. To make matters worse she finds herself forming a forbidden attraction to the enemy-a dangerously handsome German guard. In a place where personal politics are treacherously entangled in wartime policy, can Samantha discover the truth and find Velvet before it’s too late…for them both?

From author Teri Brown comes the thrilling story of one girl’s journey into a deadly world of spycraft and betrayal—with unforgettable consequences.

 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg

I have, once again, made the mistake of waiting WAY too long to review this after I've finished the book, so pardon my vagueness. Hopefully I still manage to convey my overall thoughts of the book, but my brain has also been fried six times over this weekend, so we'll find out.

I am ALWAYS interested in spy books. And Velvet Undercover has a little bit of a different setting - World War I. I'm not really a history buff, so that wasn't what drew me in. I think if you are, though, you might be a little disappointed. I can't tell you how true it is to history but it felt pretty weak to me. Unsurprisingly, I know FAR less about the WWI than I do about II, but I still feel like we should have felt a little more presence from the war. Samantha is obviously removed from it - it's not like she's fighting on any frontlines. She's searching for someone in secret, and I imagine that the reality of that is far less thrilling than what I've come to expect from movies and books. But that's the thing. This is fiction, and I like a little thrill.

Samantha is certainly a great character. She's very intelligent, hard working, a positive and bright force during a dark time. She's not all dark and twisty like I've come to expect from a lot of characters. Most of the people in this book aren't, which I imagine can be a refreshing change for a lot of people. I didn't have a problem with this, but admittedly I think I usually feel a lot more emotions for the dark and twisty characters, which is totally a personal preference. I am basically a thundercloud 24/7 and so optimism can be hard for me to swallow. Samantha is resourceful, but I do feel like things kind of...fell into her lap, so to speak, and when it came to all the secondary characters, no one really felt developed. They felt more like props.

11.16.2015

Review: Menagerie

Menagerie by Rachel Vincent
Published: September 29th, 2015 by MIRA
Source: NetGalley
*I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected the opinions stated below.
From New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent comes a richly imagined, provocative new series set in the dark mythology of the Menagerie…

When Delilah Marlow visits a famous traveling carnival, Metzger's Menagerie, she is an ordinary woman in a not-quite-ordinary world. But under the macabre circus black-top, she discovers a fierce, sharp-clawed creature lurking just beneath her human veneer. Captured and put on exhibition, Delilah in her black swan burlesque costume is stripped of her worldly possessions, including her own name, as she's forced to "perform" in town after town.

But there is breathtaking beauty behind the seamy and grotesque reality of the carnival. Gallagher, her handler, is as kind as he is cryptic and strong. The other "attractions"—mermaids, minotaurs, gryphons and kelpies—are strange, yes, but they share a bond forged by the brutal realities of captivity. And as Delilah struggles for her freedom, and for her fellow menagerie, she'll discover a strength and a purpose she never knew existed.

Renowned author Rachel Vincent weaves an intoxicating blend of carnival magic and startling humanity in this intricately woven and powerful tale.


 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg

I made the mistake of waiting a very very long time to actually write this review, which is a mistake I haven't made too often, but I'm just gonna tell you to never follow in my footsteps because it makes life very hard. BUT. But. The thing about Menagerie is that it definitely stays with you for awhile. There's so much of it that still sticks out in my mind.

I think a lot of people have put this warning in their reviews, but I'm still going to say it: Menagerie is not YA. I knew that going in, but I've still seen a lot of misconception about it. Menagerie is also not a romance, nor is it really for the faint of heart. It's not gory, but the topics it deals with are hard.

Rachel Vincent does a beautiful job with something that makes you feel really really...gross. A beautiful, incredible job. Delilah has lived a relatively normal, human life. But then she visits Metzger's Menagerie for the first time since she was a little girl, where sirens and oracles and werewolves are put on display for people willing to pay the price of admission. And there, she sees how the crew really get their subjects to perform - with force. With volts of electricity. And it's there that, in front of spectators and her friends that she transforms into something. Something not human. Something that isn't legal in her world. And so she's thrown in jail, poked and prodded as her rights and her dignity are stripped away, and then she's sold to that very same Menagerie.

11.14.2015

ARC Review: Velvet Undercover

Velvet Undercover by Teri Brown
Published: October 20th, 2015 by Balzer + Bray
Source: Edelweiss
*I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected the opinions stated below.

Samantha Donaldson’s family has always done its duty for the British Crown. In the midst of World War I, seventeen-year-old Sam follows in their footsteps, serving her country from the homefront as a Girl Guide and messenger for the intelligence organization MI5. After her father disappears on a diplomatic mission, she continues their studies of languages, high-level mathematics, and complex puzzles and codes, hoping to make him proud.

When Sam is asked to join the famed women’s spy group La Dame Blanche she’s torn—this could be the adventure she’s dreamed of, but how can she abandon her mother, who has already lost a husband to the war? But when her handlers reveal shocking news, Sam realizes there’s no way she can refuse the exciting and dangerous opportunity.

Her acceptance leads her straight into the heart of enemy territory on a mission to extract the most valuable British spy embedded in Germany, known to the members of LDB only as Velvet. Deep undercover within the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Samantha must navigate the labyrinthine palace and its many glamorous—and secretive—residents to complete her assignment. To make matters worse she finds herself forming a forbidden attraction to the enemy-a dangerously handsome German guard. In a place where personal politics are treacherously entangled in wartime policy, can Samantha discover the truth and find Velvet before it’s too late…for them both?

From author Teri Brown comes the thrilling story of one girl’s journey into a deadly world of spycraft and betrayal—with unforgettable consequences.

 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg

I have, once again, made the mistake of waiting WAY too long to review this after I've finished the book, so pardon my vagueness. Hopefully I still manage to convey my overall thoughts of the book, but my brain has also been fried six times over this weekend, so we'll find out.

I am ALWAYS interested in spy books. And Velvet Undercover has a little bit of a different setting - World War I. I'm not really a history buff, so that wasn't what drew me in. I think if you are, though, you might be a little disappointed. I can't tell you how true it is to history but it felt pretty weak to me. Unsurprisingly, I know FAR less about the WWI than I do about II, but I still feel like we should have felt a little more presence from the war. Samantha is obviously removed from it - it's not like she's fighting on any frontlines. She's searching for someone in secret, and I imagine that the reality of that is far less thrilling than what I've come to expect from movies and books. But that's the thing. This is fiction, and I like a little thrill.

Samantha is certainly a great character. She's very intelligent, hard working, a positive and bright force during a dark time. She's not all dark and twisty like I've come to expect from a lot of characters. Most of the people in this book aren't, which I imagine can be a refreshing change for a lot of people. I didn't have a problem with this, but admittedly I think I usually feel a lot more emotions for the dark and twisty characters, which is totally a personal preference. I am basically a thundercloud 24/7 and so optimism can be hard for me to swallow. Samantha is resourceful, but I do feel like things kind of...fell into her lap, so to speak, and when it came to all the secondary characters, no one really felt developed. They felt more like props.