The letters went out in mid-February. Each letter invited its recipient to spend a week at Camp So-and-So, a lakeside retreat for girls nestled high in the Starveling Mountains. Each letter came with a glossy brochure with photographs of young women climbing rocks, performing Shakespearean theatre under the stars, and spiking volleyballs. Each letter was signed in ink by the famed and reclusive businessman and philanthropist, Inge F. Yancey IV.
By the end of the month, twenty-five applications had been completed, signed, and mailed to a post office box in an obscure Appalachian town.
Had any of these girls tried to follow the directions in the brochure and visit the camp for themselves on that day in February, they would have discovered that there was no such town and no such mountain and that no one within a fifty-mile radius had ever heard of Camp So-and-So. (goodreads.com)
At first I was really disoriented by CAMP SO-AND-SO (as, I’m sure, were all the campers I was reading about). It’s a very non-traditional story told from multiple viewpoints in third person omniscient that tells multiple stories that are otherwise connected, but functioning independently from each other. It’s very strange but I adored the voice so I pushed through and I’m so glad I did.
What a fantastic story. Every time I’m surprised by a Carolrhoda Lab book and I shouldn’t be because I’ve loved nearly every book I’ve read from them. They just know how to pick them. And CAMP SO-AND-SO is no exception. It’s campy (ha!) but in a grounded sort of way that mixes in the supernatural and the faery world in a way that perfectly blends together. Despite the fact that you literally have twenty-five different characters you’re following I never lost track of any of them (okay, I may have mixed up the girl in the orange hoodie and the girl with beads in her hair a couple times toward the end, but I think I’m a little justified there considering what happened between the two). They’re all completely independent of each other and they stand out against each other.
CAMP SO-AND-SO was a downright fun book. It had the very quirky camp feel, but completely upended that entire trope on its head and nearly bastardized the whole idea. I loved it. I also loved that not everyone come out unscathed. Or at all. That appeased my blackened soul nicely. And the ending fit nicely with the overall tone of the book: fun and quirky with a dark underlying tone lurking just beneath the surface of the world McCoy created. Awesome.
It’s a story that’ll appeal to the younger reluctant YA reader for all the action and playing around the story does along with the older YA reader who’s looking for something different, but still plays to known tropes within the genre (camping genre? is that a thing?). I was never a camp person (I was allergic to the outside when I was little, camp probably would have killed me) and CAMP SO-AND-SO made camp both appealing and appalling all at the same time. Although I’m pretty sure that was the point.
An excellent read, I highly recommend McCoy’s book. There’s literally something for everyone (a hint of romance, the supernatural, super villains, the outdoors, an epic quest, and stagehands!).
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This was the book that first introduced me to Mari Mancusi about ten years ago and it’s been love ever since. And not only because she totally love-drops The Lost Boys in her Blood Coven series. It’s a fantastic set of books with awesome characters and a plot that’ll suck you in right from the beginning and won’t let you go until the very end.
Mari recently had the rights to the series returned to her so she’s re-releasing the whole set with brand new covers! And starting today through February 17th you can get a copy of BOYS THAT BITE for free on Amazon Kindle! If you haven’t checked out the Blood Coven series yet, now’s the perfect time to start.
Two sisters–as different as the sun and the rain. For one, getting into the Blood Coven is to die for. But for the other, getting out could be lethal…
When Sunny McDonald gets dragged to Club Fang by her twin sister Rayne, she doesn’t expect to find anything besides a bunch of Goth kids playing at being vampires. But when some guy mistakes Sunny for her dark-side-loving sister and bites her on the neck, she finds out that his fangs are real–and deadly.
Now, Sunny has less than a week to figure out how to reverse the bite, or else she’s going to end up as the perpetually undead. And not only will she be a vampire, she’ll also be bonded to Magnus–the bloodsucker who bit her–forever. And forever is a really long time… (Amazon.com)
Meet Meda. She eats people.
Well, technically, she eats their soul. But she totally promises to only go for people who deserve it. She’s special. It’s not her fault she enjoys it. She can’t help being a bad guy. Besides, what else can she do? Her mother was killed and it’s not like there are any other “soul-eaters” around to show her how to be different. That is, until the three men in suits show up.
They can do what she can do. They’re like her. Meda might finally have a chance to figure out what she is. The problem? They kind of want to kill her. Before they get the chance Meda is rescued by crusaders, members of an elite group dedicated to wiping out Meda’s kind. This is her chance! Play along with the “good guys” and she’ll finally figure out what, exactly, her ‘kind’ is.
Be careful what you wish for. Playing capture the flag with her mortal enemies, babysitting a teenage boy with a hero complex, and trying to keep one step ahead of a too-clever girl are bad enough. But the Hunger is gaining on her.
The more she learns, the worse it gets. And when Meda uncovers a shocking secret about her mother, her past, and her destiny… she may finally give into it. (goodreads.com)
Right from the beginning I found Meda insufferable and it really set the tone for the rest of the story. I kept hoping that she’d turn her attitude around, but by the time she did it was too little, too late.
Meda is part demon and she revels in destroying bad people and consuming their souls in order to sustain herself. She’s also really embraced her demon side and sees the rest of the world, and people especially, as things to use. Being in her head this whole book made her completely irredeemable. She way she thought about people, how she used them, how she had absolutely no regard for anyone around her. Ugh. Just gross. And her constant use of ‘gimp’ to describe one of the people who came to rescue her initially. It just all rubbed me the wrong way.
By the time Meda finally comes around and lets her human side through it’s too little, too late. I didn’t care to know how she felt and it took her far too long to feel those these. The book lost me by the midway point where I basically saw no end in sight for the repugnant character I was reading about.
As for the plot it felt a little jerky to me. Maybe that was because I was more focused on how awful Meda was and I barely paid attention to anything going on around her or maybe it was genuinely jerky. I felt a lot of the elements were more for shock value/plot advancement than actually contributing anything meaningful to the story. It almost felt like as soon as the story started to lull a little bit the author couldn’t allow that to happen so SOMETHING ELSE MUST HAPPEN and it produced this huge lurch in the story every single time.
Overall I just really wasn’t impressed with the story itself and I really couldn’t stand Meda. I wanted her to see the light of day, but unfortunately for her it was too little, too late. I practically skimmed the rest of the book after I mailed it in about Meda. I won’t be reading on in the series. If that wasn’t already obvious.
Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.
All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.
But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.
Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world. (goodreads.com)
So I’ll start right off by saying I absolutely adored WINTERSONG. Like ridiculously. With that being said, though, I do think that my opinion of the book is clouded by my undying love for Labyrinth, by which WINTERSONG is inspired, and I think that allowed me to slide past issues that I normally would be more critical of in any other book. So take this review with that information in mind.
With that being said, oh god, this book is love. Jae-Jones nailed the Goblin King in both an homage and her own original character so succinctly that I couldn’t help but swoon. The pain that Elizabeth goes through over the course of the book is heart-wrenching and joyous all wrapped up into one. Yes, there were tears at the end. I’m a sap. Don’t tell anyone. The rescue of Kathe from the Underground was perfection. Jae-Jones made my fangirl heart sing with some of the lines she used (“I’ve given you everything you’ve ever wanted. I’m tired of living up to your expectations.”) and some of her descriptions (“The Goblin King was lounging against one of the alder trees in the grove, one arm draped against the trunk, the other resting casually against his hip. His hair was in wild disarray, ruffled and feathery, like thistledown, like spiderwebs, illuminated by the full moon into a halo about his head. His face held all the beauty of angels, but the grin upon his face was positively devilish.”) Nailed it. Truly.
WINTERSONG is a fairy tale for a new generation, wrapping up old world charm and warning with modern day desires and wills, making Elizabeth something everyone, male or female, can relate to with the decisions she’s forced to make and how she actually feels about them. Jae-Jones creates her own world in the village where Elizabeth lives and draws on elements from old faery tales and Labyrinth to create an Underground entirely her own. She created a life, a past, for the Goblin King that a lot in the fandom wanted, that played into the fan service of giving us a Goblin King who isn’t entirely heartless and isn’t entirely inhuman (but still plays that inhuman card incredibly well). WINTERSONG is beauty, plain and simple.
With that being said, I did take issues with a couple of things, namely pacing and descriptions. The pace of the story was exhausting simply because it crescendoed multiple times. Where you think the story ends it can’t possibly end and then it launches into what is rightly a second story of its own to complete the premise. It made the book feel longer than what it should have been, however, once I got settled into the second story of the book the pacing picked up and before I knew it I found myself closing in on the end.
As for the descriptions, toward the end, probably from the halfway point on is when I really started noticing it, they were redundant and repetitive. It felt like they were there for the sake of tone than to actually describe something. Austere young man is one that really comes to mind because Elizabeth used it A LOT. This then played into voice a little bit. For the most part I didn’t have any issue with the voice, however, I do felt it reaching every once in a while. Just trying a little bit too hard to be that blend of faery tale and Jane Austen type of voice that speaks to a particular type of story. But it wasn’t distracting enough for me to not like what I was reading.
Like I said, WINTERSONG is beautiful and it ended in the absolute perfect place. My heart. I do think I’m giving a pass to some issues because of my ultimate love for Labyrinth and the feels this book incites in me, but I’m okay with that. At least I’m being up front about it. I’d still recommend it, I’d still buy it for people, because it’s a book that should be read. It deserves to be read. So read it.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Be sure to hop on over to the rest of the blogs participating in the tour! But first below is an excerpt from WINTERSONG along with a handy little cheat sheet for all the German terms in the book. Enjoy!
Click here for the free except! Wintersong_Excerpt
When Dan and his friends meet Cal in Sanctum their impression of the privileged New Hampshire College student is less than stellar. But Cal wasn’t always the cold, sarcastic guy he is now. In this digital original story preceding the events of Sanctum, we meet Cal when he is experiencing college like any other kid with a group of close friends and a dad who piles on the pressure. Only, when the pressure starts getting to him and Cal accepts an invitation to meet a selective group of students and alumni known only as the Scarlets, the course of Cal’s life changes forever. And the price of joining the Scarlets might be higher than he can pay. (goodreads.com)
Another great addition to the Asylum series, I think a little more overall creepy than THE BONE ARTISTS, THE SCARLETS digs into the asylum itself (pun intended) and pulls out the strings of the Scarlets a little more, showing Cal in a different light all together.
Here things are more supernatural, creeping up on your shoulder when you least expect it. They’re more conniving as Cal’s father gets his hand in Cal’s life, forcing him in a direction he doesn’t want to go. Introducing him to a lifestyle he originally wants nothing to do with. It shows just how deep the Scarlets’ influence goes and it makes the world all the more chilling. Can anyone ever get away from them?
If you’re a fan of the series you won’t want to miss THE SCARLETS. It’ll make everything a little more robust and just a hint scarier.