Review: RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

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In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

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3/5 Stars

***Potential triggers for human trafficking, abuse, animal cruelty, violence, death

It pains me to write this review because I was so looking forward to this book-it was at the top of my highly anticipated list for 2017. I mean, The Phantom of the Opera??? As a theater kid, this is my personal form of euphoria. Unfortunately, my feelings on this rendering are mixed. 

PROS:

  • Thorn’s story is almost as tragic and heartbreaking as the Phantom’s and yet so full of beauty. No matter the darkness and fear he experienced as a child captured by traffickers and tormented beyond measure, his heart is pure and OMG is he swoonworthy. Some of the stuff he says to Rune, I mean, my heart swelled with joy. He’s like a part-time poet and the way he plays that violin. He’s the definition of dreamy. That dark hair and those coppery eyes, and that jaw. Smokin’ hot. I loved the way his past evolved and changed him and his starry-eyed devotion to the Phantom. Plus the way he looks at Rune…it’s like she’s his world at first sight. Now, let me warn, this does read like instalove on Thorn’s part, but there are reasons so hold out. 
  • This twist on the Phantom is super weird and complex. It can be hard to wrap your head around and accept, but there are enough history and allusions to the original Leroux story. The Phantoms’s story is somehow even more depressing and horrific than in the original. When you read about the love he felt for Christine, the hope he held for a happy ending, it will crush you and hit you right in the feels.
  • There’s a ton of seriously disturbing elements to this story-from creepy, crawly animals that don’t belong in nature, to taxidermy, to cryogenics. It’s a mix and match of sci-fi meets paranormal. And when you find out the truth about Rune’s heritage and how she relates to the Phantom…well, whether or not you’re a fan is up to you, but for me, I was torn. It felt like the author didn’t stay entirely true to the mythology (and that’s all I can say without spoilers). 
  • One of my favorite characters was the cat, Diable. He’s not particularly cute, but he has so much attitude in his mannerisms and he’s so clever. A sassy cat, what’s not to love?

CONS:

  • This book is at least a hundred pages too long. Let me explain. There were so many parts that seemed unnecessary, dragged, and pulled down the whole sense of foreboding that should have wrapped around the reader. The pacing was in line with a Gothic novel, but because it is set in contemporary time, it didn’t fit well with the story, despite the setting. There were whole sections of sprawling description that could have been trimmed, but went on for pages. While these sections certainly painted a picture, the length didn’t really build the emotions, but distracted from them with painstaking details. Scenes that would have benefited from being shortened by heightening the anxiety and fear got lost in a sort of step-by-step, piece-by-piece map of the setting. It became more about setting the scene than the story/scene itself. 
  • There’s so much going on that it became overwhelming. After you get used to the shock factor and adjust to the bizarre twist on the traditional Phantom story, the shifts in POV, the flashbacks to the past, and the absolutely strange quirks of every character (which was a bit much to begin with) don’t fall into place but feel strung together and random. There’s not a feeling of cohesion and planning, it hits like chaos and stays that way. Told in a more measured way, these pieces are all elements that explain the characters and their personalities. I guess what I’m saying is that I would have liked more build up. 
  • So much time was placed on carefully crafting the back stories for the Phantom and Thorn, even for Jipetto and Audrey, so that you know their hearts, their motivations, how they became who they are. And yet, despite the tragedy of her past with her father and the terrible situations she had with her grandmother, and even the history of the family name, Rune’s character felt undeveloped in comparison. While there are tidbits, like her joy of gardening, her knitting, her personality was kind of bland for such a strong story arc. Honestly, she was much better, much more interesting when she was interacting with other characters than by herself. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Cryptic reading, 

Jordan

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ARC Review: Descent-Tara Fuller

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cooltext1889161239 copyEaston doesn’t believe in love. He believes in Death. Darkness. Sin. As a reaper for Hell, it’s all he’s known for over four hundred years. When he gets slapped with the job of training the boss’s daughter, an angel who knows nothing but joy, he knows he’s in for a world of trouble.

Though he’s made it clear he wants nothing to do with her outside of work, Gwen would do anything to get closer to the dark and wounded reaper—even taint her angelic image and join the ranks of her father’s team of reapers. But in all her planning, she forgot to factor in one thing—how far the demons Easton doomed to hell would go to get revenge.

When the dangers of the Hell threaten Gwen, Easton will do whatever it takes to save her. But as the darkness closes in on them both, will he be able to save himself?

cooltext1889171582 copy3.5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Entangled: Teen.

Descent is a scorching inferno of lust and redemption. A perilous journey through Hell, Descent is a rush of terror, longing, and sweltering heat between a jaded Reaper and charismatic angel. 

PROS:

  • Hell is a terrifying, abysmal place. The imps, demons, and succubi are all horrific, grotesque, and have vices. The scenes of torture, torment, and the overall descriptions are graphic. The heat wave that disintegrates anyone who comes into contact with it is something out of my worst nightmares. The role of angels, reapers, and the hierarchy of both Heaven and Hell are delineated  and detailed. 
  • Every character has a voice and distinct personality. They’re comical, lusty, devious, and joyful. Each character is unique and compelling, you’ll want to know more about them. 
  • Gwen is a light, airy, beautiful angel whose optimism and big heart make up her entire being. She’s confident, curious, and compassionate, she takes risks to ensure happiness for the souls she watches over and has absolute faith in even the worst people. Gwen believes that with a little love, the world could be a better place. Gwen gives so much of herself without thought for her own safety. The travesties of humanity physically hurt her, she weeps openly for the pain and suffering in Hell. Her open naiveté is charming and winsome.
  • Easton’s past is full of sorrow. He will never forget and believes he deserves his cruel fate. Easton is a bog softie underneath his hard exterior. He takes everything so seriously and despite his position in Hell, has a strong moral compass. Easton’s heart though patched and scarred, is huge. Intense, brave, and oh so sexy, Easton is magnetic. 
  • Together, Easton and Gwen are dynamite. Totally explosive. The dueling POVs are perfect. You get all the lust and yearning from both sides, you’ll hunger for them to give into their feelings.

CONS:

  • The ending was resolved too quickly and way too easily. For all of the risk and heartache, the tension between characters and fear of the consequences, the final judgement was lackluster. 
  • How an angel makes it so deep into Hell without getting swarmed by hungry demons is crazy and doesn’t feel realistic. For all Easton’s worries there were few serious threats. The danger to Gwen by riled demons was minimal compared to the overall horrific conditions of Hell itself. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

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Soul-Screamers-Rachel-Vincent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pleasant reading, 

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