Review of Bellamy and the Brute by Alicia Michaels

Synopsis (from Amazon):

A fresh twist on a classic story, Bellamy and the Brute proves true love really is blind.

When Bellamy McGuire is offered a summer job babysitting for the wealthy Baldwin family, she’s reluctant to accept. After all, everyone in town knows about the mysterious happenings at the mansion on the hill―including the sudden disappearance of the Baldwin’s eldest son, Tate. The former football star and golden boy of Wellhollow Springs became a hermit at the age of sixteen, and no one has seen or heard from him since. Rumors abound as to why, with whisperings about a strange illness―one that causes deformity and turned him into a real-life monster. Bellamy wants to dismiss these rumors as gossip, but when she’s told that if she takes the job, she must promise to never, ever visit the third floor of the mansion, she begins to wonder if there really is some dark truth hidden there.

Tate’s condition may not be the only secret being kept at Baldwin House. There are gaps in the family’s financial history that don’t add up, and surprising connections with unscrupulous characters. At night there are strange noises, unexplained cold drafts, and the electricity cuts out. And then there are the rose petals on the staircase. The rose petals that no one but Bellamy seems to be able to see. The rose petals that form a trail leading right up to the 3 rd floor, past the portrait of a handsome young man, and down a dark hallway where she promised she would never, ever go…

As Bellamy works to unravel the mysteries of Baldwin House and uncover the truth about Tate, she realizes that she is in way over her head… in more ways than one. Can her bravery and determination help to right the wrongs of the past and free the young man whose story has captured her heart?

Review:
This story felt like it went on forever, and I never wanted to set it down. There are twists and turns everywhere, both supernatural and common teenage problems to see and deal with, and all of it very relatable. Bellamy’s father is known for being crazy, and people worry or laugh suggesting she’ll be the same, so already, Bellamy has to deal with being ostracized and belittled, even if just for being smart at times.

With supernatural uncertainties, Tate and Bellamy find themselves having to figure out a mystery, while also learning about each other and how to associate with someone physically disabled. All in all, I thought the situations, and their reactions to them, were very realistic, and the story was gripping and quite wonderful. I certainly recommend, especially to those who enjoy Beauty and the Beast.

Star Rating: 

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Review of Spellbound by Sara Celi

Spellbound
By Sara Celi

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult Fairy Tale Retelling
Number of Pages: 248
Winter 2018

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
This beauty is a real beast… High school senior Holly Kent has everything she could ever want perched at the top of Eastside Country Day’s social structure. She’s one of the most gorgeous girls in school. She wins every award. All the boys want to date her. And all the girls want to be her. But when a jealous rival casts a spell and ends Holly’s reign as queen bee overnight, she loses it all—including her beauty. Forbidden to reveal her situation to anyone,  Holly must adjust to a new life and find out if she has the strength to change her heart before it’s too late. Carson Isaac lives on the fringe of Eastside’s social scene. He never quite fit in, but an education at one of the city’s best schools could help jumpstart his future. Then, one fateful winter day, he sees his secret crush—the real Holly Kent—for the first time. Nothing will ever be the same. As romance blossoms, can Holly and Carson navigate their new reality in time? Or will they be bound by the evil spell forever?

Review:
While some part of this novel were a little flat (Holly’s relationships with her parents) it did well to show how fake people can be, and how they care very much for appearances. In that regard, the novel reminded me of the book Beastly by Alex Flinn (which is also a great book). There were great lessons to be learned, and depth to our protagonists.

This book left me with so many questions though! Did they ever become cordial with her old best friend again? What did she decide to do after high school? How did her relationships with her parents change?

Looking for a nice YA fairytale retelling: read this book!

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Amazon Top 100 and Barnes & Noble Bestselling Author, Sara Celi, has lived all over the United States. She calls the Greater Cincinnati area home.

Sara has spent more than a decade working in journalism and broadcasting, with jobs both on-air and off-air at TV stations in Louisiana, Ohio, and Oklahoma. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications, magazines and newspapers, and she is a contributing author to Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Positive. Since the release of her debut novel, The Undesirable, in 2013, she has authored several other works, including Hollywood Nights, Natural Love, Prince Charming, and The Palms.

Sara graduated cum laude from Western Kentucky University in 2004.

In her spare time, she likes to read, shop, write, travel, run long distances, and volunteer her time to local charities.

Want more of Sara Celi’s books? Stay up to date at http://www.saraceli.com, or sign up for her mailing list using this link: http://saraceli.com/?page_id=446

Review of The Princess Game: A Reimagining of Sleeping Beauty by Melanie Cellier

The Princess Game: A Reimagining of Sleeping Beauty
The Four Kingdoms Book 4
By Melanie Cellier

Star Rating: 
Genre: Fairy Tale Retelling
Number of Pages: 267

Date Started: December 22, 2017
Date Finished: December 24, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
They call her the Sleeping Princess, but Celeste is far from asleep…

Celeste has been cursed since her sixteenth birthday–just not in the way the rest of the kingdom thinks. All they see is her breath-taking beauty, marred by her foolishness. Only she knows that she retains her brilliant mind. And it’s a secret she must keep at all costs.

Over the years she’s grown accustomed to the necessary deception. After all, her life depends on it. And she’s even found a way to protect her kingdom, working from the shadows. But now a dangerous new threat has emerged, one that Celeste can’t defeat alone. She needs the help of a newly-arrived prince. One who’s altogether too handsome and too charming. Somehow she needs to keep her secret, save her kingdom and find a way to free herself from the curse. The last thing she has time to do is sleep.

In this reimagining of the classic fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty, it’s only the princess’ mind that is asleep. And sometimes appearances can be deceiving.

Review:
Oh my goodness. This book was absolutely fantastic. While various parts of the original Sleeping Beauty were kept alive, the curse, the gift of fairy godmothers, this was a completely different and wonderful tale. The duality of Celeste was expertly done, and will remind most of how others perceive them versus how they are inside.

William was phenomenal, and as perceptive as I thought he would be. All of the characters had great depth and I quite enjoyed the story altogether.

The Four Kingdoms and Beyond the Four Kingdoms are some stories I believe anyone who is a fairy tale buff/aficionado would love, and they’re included on Amazon Unlimited.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Melanie Cellier grew up on a staple diet of books, books and more books. And although she got older she never stopped loving children’s and young adult novels. She always wanted to write one herself but it took three careers and three different continents before she actually managed it.

She now feels incredibly fortunate to spend her time writing from her home in Canberra, Australia where they don’t have a beach but they do have kangaroos hopping down the streets. Her staple diet hasn’t changed much, although she’s added choc mint Rooibos tea and Chicken Crimpies to the list.

She is currently working on The Four Kingdoms, a series of young adult fairy tale retellings.

Visit Melanie at her website: http://www.melaniecellier.com or follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Melanie-Cellier-689002674569364/ for all the latest news on The Princess Companion and other upcoming Four Kingdoms stories.

Review of Mistaken Identity by Norah McClintock

Mistaken Identity
By Norah McClintock

Star Rating: 
Genre: YA Mystery

Number of Pages: 192

Date Started: June 12, 2017
Date Finished: June 13, 2017

Synopsis: (From Back of Book)
Sixteen year old Zanny Dugan isn’t sure anymore. Terrible things are happening in her life — things like murder and suicide — and she can’t figure out why. Now it turns out her father isn’t who she thought he was. And if your father is a stranger, then who are you? Zanny’s dead set on finding the answer — even if it seems the whole world doesn’t want her to know the truth.

Review:
My goodness. This book was like all of McClintock’s books I’ve read thus far: amazing. There was mystery and plenty of twists and turns. While I didn’t trust Nick AT ALL because he was fishy, I fell for the detective’s story. I loved Everett Lloyd, he was awesome. So was the neighbor lady, as well as Edward.

Though Zanny didn’t know anything about her dad’s past, and she regretted not knowing him better, it seems more common than one would think. When growing up, especially during the teenage years, parents aren’t going to tell children every little detail about their lives, their interests, and certainly not about mischievous things that children may be inspired to recreate.

I’d definitely recommend this book.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Norah McClintock has won an unprecedented five Arthur Ellis Awards for Crime Fiction for Mistaken Identity, The Body in the Basement, Sins of the Father, Scared to Death and Break and Enter. McClintock has also been nominated for the Arthur Ellis Award for her non-fiction title Body, Crime, Suspect; No Escape was nominated for the White Pine Award; and Hit and Run was nominated for the Red Maple Award in 2004.

Review of No Escape by Norah McClintock

No Escape
Chloe and Levesque Mysteries
By Norah McClintock

Star Rating: 
Genre: YA Mystery

Number of Pages: 235

Date Started: April 30, 2017
Date Finished: April 30, 2017

Synopsis: (From Back of Book)
When Caleb Darke is released from prison, nobody in town wants him back. Nobody will even give him a chance–except Chloe. She’s sure he didn’t commit the crime he was convicted of.

The trouble is, how is she going to prove it? And if Caleb didn’t do it, who did? Because that person is going to do everything possible to keep Chloe from finding out…

Review:
I was completely hooked from the first line of this book. I loved that Chloe believed there was a mystery while everyone else thought the mystery was long past solved. The characters were well developed and had deep motivations. While I had figured out part of one of the mysteries involved, I was completely wrong and had no idea about the second, which I quite enjoyed.

I’d definitely recommend this book.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Norah McClintock has won an unprecedented five Arthur Ellis Awards for Crime Fiction for Mistaken Identity, The Body in the Basement, Sins of the Father, Scared to Death and Break and Enter. McClintock has also been nominated for the Arthur Ellis Award for her non-fiction title Body, Crime, Suspect; No Escape was nominated for the White Pine Award; and Hit and Run was nominated for the Red Maple Award in 2004.

Review of Miramont’s Ghost by Elizabeth Hall

Miramont’s Ghost
By Elizabeth Hall

Star Rating: 
Genre: Mystery, Gothic Mystery
Number of Pages: 334

Date Started: February 19, 2017
Date Finished: March 1, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)miramonts-ghost
Miramont Castle, built in 1897 and mysteriously abandoned three years later, is home to many secrets. Only one person knows the truth: Adrienne Beauvier, granddaughter of the Comte de Challembelles and cousin to the man who built the castle.

Clairvoyant from the time she could talk, Adrienne’s visions show her the secrets of those around her. When her visions begin to reveal dark mysteries of her own aristocratic French family, Adrienne is confronted by her formidable Aunt Marie, who is determined to keep the young woman silent at any cost. Marie wrenches Adrienne from her home in France and takes her to America, to Miramont Castle, where she keeps the girl isolated and imprisoned. Surrounded by eerie premonitions, Adrienne is locked in a life-or-death struggle to learn the truth and escape her torment.

Reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, this hauntingly atmospheric tale is inspired by historical research into the real-life Miramont Castle in Manitou Springs, Colorado.

Review:
The characterization in this novel could not have been any better. The depth of which the characters felt, and their motivations were astounding. While some characters seem completely “bad” and unsympathetic, it’s explained why that might be so.

However, once all the pieces have been set in play, about 35% of the novel is about the continual torrent of bad things that happen to our main protagonist. With a title like Miramont’s Ghost no one expects everything to be happy and cheerful, but the end offered no resolution for the heroine, instead letting the characters who dished up the torture get away with all they had done. This is a story where the bad guys win. Surprising enough, that isn’t where the story ends, and we’re left thinking that Adrienne deserved so much better.

elizabeth-hallAuthor Biography: (From Amazon)
Elizabeth Hall spent most of her life in the mountains of Colorado. She has worked as a teacher and communications consultant, including hosting, writing, and producing the radio show Heart of the West (KRZA, Alamosa) and producing an oral history compilation for the Great Sand Dunes National Park. She now lives in the Pacific NW.

Review of Of Fate and Phantoms by C. J. Archer

Of Fate and Phantoms
The Ministry of Curiosities Book 7
By C. J. Archer

Star Rating: 
Genre: Fantasy
Number of Pages: 128

Date Started: January 25, 2017
Date Finished: January 27, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)of-fate-and-phantoms
As Charlie and Lincoln’s lives settle into a harmonious pattern, a new threat arises that could have far reaching effects for the royal family and Lincoln’s parents. When a seer warns the Prince of Wales that his life is in danger, only Charlie and Lincoln take her seriously. After all, what sensible person would believe a gypsy who claims the danger will come in the form of the prince’s dead father? A meeting at the palace sets them on a path that takes Charlie back to her old haunts in the London slums, on the hunt for a man who can change his appearance. The new threat is their most dangerous yet, but for Lincoln, the biggest concern isn’t confronting the shape-changer or meeting his parents for the first time, it’s whether Charlie will put his engagement ring on her finger.

Review:
Ah, my favourite literary couple, how I get to join your life once more. This book, like the others in the Ministry of Curiosities series, was wonderful. There were a few editorial errors but that in no way diminishes from the storyline.

I loved that we got to see more of Gilly’s wife and see how Lincoln and Charlie would try to help someone who is different, like them, yet in a horrible position. I absolutely loved getting to see Charlie in action again, doing the boyish things she once did, even though she’s put on some weight so she isn’t quite as slender as before, and that no matter what’s happened, Charlie still cares about her gang and wishes she could do more for them. There were a lot of secondary characters and side plots going on, but I felt that added to Lincoln and Charlie’s dynamic.

It is great to see Lincoln trust Charlie’s judgments and allow her to help him on cases. While it is nice to see Lincoln become more man and less mechanic, in some ways it seems he is becoming a completely different person altogether. It would have been nice for them to have a few more scenes of development, but I was quite pleased with the interactions between the two throughout the novel, and I quite love the ending.

cj
Author Biography: (From Amazon)
C.J. Archer has loved history and books for as long as she can remember and feels fortunate that she found a way to combine the two. She has at various times worked as a librarian, IT support person and technical writer but in her heart has always been a fiction writer. While she has written historical romance in the past, she now writes exclusively in the historical fantasy genre (with a large dose of romance). She has several series which occur in the same Victorian-era “world”, one after the other. Each series can be read alone, but it’s more fun to start at the beginning with THE EMILY CHAMBERS SPIRIT MEDIUM TRILOGY. Follow that up with all 9 FREAK HOUSE books, then the MINISTRY OF CURIOSITIES series. GLASS AND STEELE, her newest series, is set in an entirely different alternate Victorian London.

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