Ageless Pages Reviews - Danielle

I'm a 26 year old reader/office manager. I have a cat with an absurd name, a husband who reviews men in speedos groping each other, and an iPhone addiction. I love to travel, but have extreme anxiety over leaving my house. Or leaving comments.


I review at Ageless Pages Reviews along with one of my oldest and best friends, Jessie. She still rocks socks. I try to write a review every week and I like asides too much.

DNF Review: Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Alexander

Love and Other Unknown Variables - Shannon Alexander

“I meant how long until you die?

And there we go, after 163 pages of Charlie Hanson being one of the worst people in young adult history, the straw that broke the camel’s back. Rarely do I have the “pleasure” of experiencing a character who is such an unmitigated ass, but C-Man takes the lead right out of the gate by conducting “experiments” of touching girls without their permission and acting confused when they respond negatively. He’s just never going to get the hang of women. :(

Chuck is a theoretical mathematics genius at an exclusive private school for the sciences. He’s been planning on attending MIT since he was 9 and he won’t let anything stand in his way of becoming valedictorian, being accepted to his dream school, catching the eye of a great mathematician who will take him under his wing until Charlie wins his first Nobel Prize. And yet, while we’re told all of this, the only schooling we ever see is Charlie purposely sabotaging his English class, because books and literature are for plebeians. Wouldn’t such a driven and ambitious character try his best in every class to ensure his place as the top student?

The school has a reputation for poor English grades and driving off any teacher foolish enough to try and teach it to them. This year, the poor lamb lead to slaughter is Ms. Finch, an unorthodox young woman who reads the class novels, just for the fun of it, and takes them outside to view the world in a different way. O Captain! My Captain! Sorry, wrong piece of media. Despite trying to engage with the students on a mathematical level, Chuck’s BFF, James, launches a full scale bullying attack on her, which Charlie, reluctantly at first, supports and escalates.

It’s not just his teacher Charlie bullies. He’s rude to his friends, to the point where it’s an ongoing “joke” that he never apologizes. He admits that he doesn’t remember he has a sister unless she’s right in front of him. He runs over Mrs. Dunwitty’s flower garden and is forced to do yard work for her to make up for it. He’s openly hostile and refers to her as Mrs. Dimwit, because…? (He does HAVE parents, unlike James and the Love Interest, but they’re in perhaps two scenes, so I have no idea how he treats them. We have a serious case of missing adults in this book.) This isn’t “genius with no social skills”; this is full on asshole. 

The love interest is Charlotte, an enigmatic and moody young woman with hope tattooed on her neck and feathers drawn on her shoes and fingertips smudged with charcoal, who just so happens to be the English teacher’s sister. Charlie is obsessed with her from the second he sees the back of her neck. I have no idea how Charlotte feels; she doesn’t get a point of view. 

Not every love interest who changes a character’s life is a manic pixie dream girl, but Charlotte is. She spends all of her time at Charlie’s house, ostensibly because she’s lab partners with his sister, but really to teach him the joy of old musicals, abstract art, and taking risks. I chose to DNF when her secret was revealed, because it’s extremely derivative of another MPDG romance by a certain “savior of young adult” that just became a movie. I also found it completely out of place, because the foreshadowing suggested she was 

mentally ill, possibly suicidal

(show spoiler)

, not 

dying of cancer

(show spoiler)


I hate this book too much to try to finish it. I’m completely baffled at who the audience for a book about hating books is supposed to be, and how I can possibly root for, or fall in love with, this main character. Again, I did stop just shy of the halfway point and you may find the end redeems the beginning, but I don’t recommend trying it to find out.

Attention Book Friends!

Because I've made this offer twice in the last few weeks, I wanted to make a short post. (CW: ED, mental illness, suicide)


I'm a little older than a lot of the bloggers in our community. (27!) I'm not in school. I'm married and my husband and I are both in middle management. My car is paid off, my student loans are paid off, I have no credit cards. I have no kids. This isn't bragging; I'm not rich, but I am comfortable. 


When I started on the internet, I was 14 with an eating disorder, depression, anxiety, and I was so deeply in the closet I could not cope. I wanted to take my life. It's not an exaggeration to say the book blogging community saved it. You gave me a place, a voice, and continue to inspire me on bad days. All I want to do is give back to this community. SO!


If you can't afford food, I will order you a pizza.

If you cant afford books, I will loan/send you copies.

If you can't afford your hosting, I will help.

If you need safe space, I will look up every shelter in your area. 

If you need an ear, a hug, or a friend, I will tweet the shit out of you.


I can't guarantee I'll be able to send much. You might have to wait until payday, or take secondhand books, but I will do everything I can for any one of you. No strings. Please don't ever feel guilty for wanting or needing help.

Review: The Sims 4!

OK, so it's not a book, but I bought the Sims 4 yesterday and I have feelings that can only come from 14 years and thousands of dollars lining EA/Maxis' pockets. 


I downloaded and tried the CAS demo last week and I was pretty impressed. In a few minutes, I got a reasonable approximation of my husband, though I couldn't get a good me. (Round faces and ski slope noses will continue to be an issue.) I saved them and waited for the full game.


When I booted up last night, the two Sims I'd made were nowhere to be found. If the game and the demo integrate, I can't find it. Not a huge issue, I set to recreating us.The graphics are gorgeous. A monumental step up from the Sims 3 pudding faces. The pinching and pulling mechanic is not like clay; you can't take anything to extremes and most of the slider ranges are very subtle and limited. I haven't found any way to take a say, square jaw and round it out. What I found for my SelfSim is it's best to pick the roundest base and work off that, (even though it's otherwise a poor fit for me,) because there is no extreme I can pull cheeks/cheekbones/jawline to that will give a round face from any other base. Likewise, I can lengthen, widen, and make the nostrils bigger and smaller, but there's no way to rotate a nose tip into a ski slope. You need to pick the nose with the best fitting tip and work around that way. It's frustrating, considering we were promised more customization than ever and I feel like we're back to picking base 1, nose 4, and lips 6, except now we can do minor tweeks to them.


Chin clefts are skin details, but, again, they can't be added to just any Sim. You have to pick a chin with one built in. (Same with eyelashes.) These are great details that I've been missing in other games, but I don't understand why they can't be added like freckles.


There are no color sliders for hair or eyes and design mode is gone for clothes and furniture. The preloaded patterns and colors are much nicer than Sims 3 base game, as are the hairs, (which you can sort by length! Helpful!), but after 4 hours of play time, I already noticed multiple Sims wearing the same outfits. Picking outfits is much the same as 3, though there is a new category to assign "party" outfits and obviously no swimsuits. There's a lot of sorting options for each category, (bottoms are short skirts, long skirts, pants, jeans, and underwear,IIRC.) It's nice.


Gameplay, again, beautiful. I told my husband the game was all worth it when my SelfSim's thumbnail changed to this: 



(Sorry for the phone shot. I did take an in-game screen capture, but I haven't figured out how to retrieve them yet.) The moodlets show that she's happy (green) and flirty (pink), leading to a positive, flirty conversation with her husband. The autonomy for conversations works a LOT better, and the new multitasking means they kept their flirty conversation up while she was reading and he was playing a game. You don't have to stop to grind social. 


There are now stages to lifetime aspiration that have to be met, like reading 3 books and leveling up logic to a 4, then reading 8 more books and winning chess matches. The best change is promotions for work. It feels a lot more intuitive that a programmer would have to create plugins instead of leveling up the cleaning skill or something. You also earn exclusive items from promotions, (we're on the programming and writing tracks and earned a sculpture of motherboards that increases focus, a new computer, a coffee maker, and a couple paintings from promotions.)


Unfortunately, while the gameplay at home is good, once you leave your front door... 


Look, I understand that EA decided to go back to loading screens to reduce strain. The game certainly boots much faster and ran like a dream, but "you can go anywhere in the neighborhood and only suffer loading if you go to a different neighborhood" is bullshit. The lot you're on and the streets load, so if you want to go to a neighbors yard, no problem. If you want to go to their house? Loading screen. An example, Danielle was feeling focused. Her focused want was to read a library book. I called a taxi and went to the business district, which took a relatively brief loading screen. By the time it loaded, Danielle was no longer inspired, so she didn't want to read the library book any more. (You can't save wants.) OK, as long as we're in the neighborhood, we'll explore. I tried to send her to the museum, which is in the same neighborhood. Loading screen. The museum was a bust, there weren't even any neighbors to talk to, and Danielle was hungry so I sent her to the nightclub. Loading screen. She had some chips and a drink, but now she was tired. (Needs seem to decay pretty quickly.) I tried to force her to stay out longer to make it worth the loading time, but no use. She started slumping around and grumbling, so I sent her home. Loading screen. I couldn't access Ryan at all while I was in town with Danielle. I can tell by my play style that I will only go out when absolutely necessary, the complete opposite of Sims 3 where I was constantly staving off the stir-crazy moodlet with trips to fish, garden, and explore. 


Aesthetically, the game looks amazing. It feels like a natural progression from Sims 2, and will probably work great for people who skipped the last gen. If this was the follow up to 2, I would sing its praises to the heavens, but following Sims 3? The mechanics are a huge step back. I can't believe we're back to loading screens and pre-selected design patterns in 2014. No toddlers, no pools, no weather, no college. The new inspiration system is nice. It's not too different from the moodlets of last gen, but actually seeing the Sims become happy or flirty or tense feels deeper. These emotions also unlock new interactions, like allowing you to write romance novels when you're flirty or self help books when you're confident. For a few surface upgrades to be sold at such a high price point, I wish I'd waited. I'll keep playing 4 since I have it, but it feels like an obligation right now.


Edit: I played again last night and I think the loading screens are manageable. That may change as expansion packs and CC are added, but right now nothing took more than two minutes.


I sent my Sims on two dates, one to the park, (which is pretty worthless as only kids can play on the playground equipment  and there are no adult activities but chess,) and one to a lounge. The dating/nightlife is built in to the base game. I like that there are objectives for dates, (flirt x times, have a deep conversation,) so you KNOW if you're having a good date or not. Finally. 


Cooking after level five unlocked a new "gourmet cooking" skill. I thought I heard there was a homestyle skill too, but I haven't seen that. Maybe that's just the regular cooking.

August in Review

The September releases have doomed us all! I actually did manage to stay mostly on schedule, though I have one 9/23 release that slipped past me. I finished THREE of my favorite series, (The Bridgertons, The Brothers Sinister, and, after 7 years of stubbornness, Harry Potter.) I read twelve books and six of them were ARCs, so I'm very happy with how the month turned out.




The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan - 5 Stars (Review)

No One Needs to Know by Amanda Grace - 5 Stars (Review)

On the Way to the Wedding by Julian Quinn - 4 Stars (Mini Review)

Magic Steps by Tamora Pierce - 4 Stars

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place - 4 Stars (Review)
Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce - 3 Stars (Mini Review)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling - 4 Stars

Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper - 2 Stars (Review)

Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty - 2 Stars (Mini Review)
Talk Sweetly to Me by Courtney Milan - 5 Stars (Review)

The Wonder by Coleen Oakes - 3.5 Stars (Review)

Batman Vol. 3: Death of the Family by Scott Snyder - 5 Stars




Jingo by Terry Pratchett

Happily Ever After: The Bridgertons by Julia Quinn (the ONLY book I bought all month!)

Salt & Storm - Kendall Kulper

Salt & Storm is a creative debut with a great blurb and a top notch cover. Which is what makes my initial review:

My face is the personification of the : emoticon.

all the more disappointing. It’s not that Salt & Storm is a bad book. I applaud the author for trying something new with the standard supernatural love story and for creating a magic system with real consequences. But unfortunately none of that makes up for some very serious problems.

Avery is not a likable or relatable character. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I got the sense that the book thought she was. Despite the fact that she’s selfish and rude and has no interests or thoughts outside of escaping back to the witch’s cabin, she’s immediately adored by the love interest, rooted for by the townspeople, and captures the mind of a mysterious smuggler. The argument could be made that the townspeople never cared for her, only her status as the witch, but even so I felt like the book never saw Avery as badly as I did. Especially the way she treated Tane.

We need diversity in young adult literature, so I was absolutely thrilled to meet Tane, a Pacific Islander who is out for revenge when his made-up fantasy tribe was slaughtered while he was learning to be a whaler. While there are problematic elements to that backstory, it was when I learned that Tane’s magic comes from his traditionally carved tattoos that I became really upset. Without going too deep into history, what Captain Cook and his missionaries did to the Pacific Islands and their culture, including tattoos, is despicable. To take a lost art, especially in a time when people like the Māori are still struggling for basic rights in their home islands, and use it as a cheap and lazy backdrop for “strange” magic is not right. (Funny how all the “strange” magic in this book seems to belong to people of color.) Inking up your white girlfriend with no spiritualism or ritualism behind it, for the sake of magic, is doubly so. 
Beyond that, I had a lot of pacing issues. For a book that constantly drills urgency following Avery’s dream, I felt like too much of the plot was stagnant. There’s also a lot of introspection following the climax and I wasn’t in love with how it was presented. I absolutely hated the final part, where characters reveal brand new motivations and apparently cheat death through the power of familial bonding. For such an angry book, it was schmaltzy. 

I wanted so much better from Salt and Storm. The climax is ballsy, but the end didn’t follow through. The love interest is a person of color, but used in a lazy way. There’s interesting ideas explored in the magic system, but they could have played a larger role in the story. The only thing I really loved was the way the time period came alive. There’s some beautiful prose, especially when describing the whaling lifestyle. It’s obvious the author is talented and passionate, it just didn’t all come together this time around.

Talk Sweetly to Me - Courtney Milan

The heroine is a mathematical savant and the hero makes dad jokes. They fall in love watching astronomical anomalies. And it's an interracial love story that deals with race in a sensitive manner without uttering one food based adjective. I couldn't love this book any more if it came to life and brought me wine.

I wonder if Ms. Milan is deliberately writing stories that Harlequin would never dare publish, or if she left Harlequin because they wouldn't dare on her stories. Chicken and egg. I waxed rhapsodic about what makes the Brother’s Sinister heroines so special in my last review, so I won’t repeat myself. Rose is as strong as Serena, as smart as Violet, and as self-assured as Free, but with a wonderful vulnerability that the more socially-secure heroines don’t have.

Her partner is Stephen Shaughnessy, first introduced in the Suffragette Scandal as the outrageous male feminist who wrote the delightful “Actual Man” columns. He’s a bit older now, and is writing novels in addition to his columns, but he’s the same cheeky scamp. No wonder he has a roguish reputation, he’s the kind of character I go gaga for.

The story works fantastically well as a novella. There’s a good balance of gooey happy stuff and “we come from different worlds” tension that never drags with unnecessary miscommunication or contrived separations. If I had one quibble, I wish the book was “sweet”, (see what I did there?) because the one sex scene didn’t flow as well as the rest of the story. 

My fangirling level has reached critical maximum. If I can’t convince you to read this book where the hero both says, “But beware - if I have to drawn another diagram, thing may become graphic” and, “You look at the sky and see not pretty lights, but a cosmos to be discovered,” and both of those are absolutely perfect in the context of their conversations, I don’t know what else to say. Buy, devour, love the Brothers Sinister.

Charmed Thirds - Megan McCafferty


It's not me, it's you.


I can't with a main character who never grows up. Whose selfishness and callousness are supposed to be real and relatable, but are really just pathetic. Marcus may be sorry for taking two years to get his head on right, but Jessica is sorrier for making astonishingly bad decisions, leading people on, and faking every friendship she's ever had. The woman has turned into a sociopath, and that misanthropy that was cute at 16 isn't cute at 23.

Queen of Hearts, Volume Two: The Wonder - Colleen Oakes

This review does contain spoilers for book one: The Crown.

The Wonder isn't a perfect sequel, but it's pretty darn wonderful. Oakes has continued to build one of the most unique and vivid worlds I've come across in a fairy tale retelling. 

On that score, I wish there had been a bit more done with the Yurkei. After a world of pink snow, color changing flower oceans, and maddening roots, it was a little disappointing that their society is your standard nomadic horse warriors. There was the suspended tent and the mushrooms, but they were almost more confusing as I didn't get how the horses and the birds fit together. Their inclusion was great, though, and the encounter and time with them was very important, so I'm happy to have met Mundoo and Bah-Kan, even if it could have gone farther.

Undeniably darker than The Crown, the remainder of the world building is devoted to the Twisted Wood, full of snakes, bears, and poisoned berries, and the Darklands, a swamp that you really don't want to experience. There's a scene in a tunnel that is creepy and reminiscent of the Black Tower. But the real threat continues to be the King of Hearts. Dinah's flight hasn't just hurt his plans, but his pride, and he will never stop hunting her.

There's good character development for Dinah, some coming from memories of her mother, who we really got no information on in the first book. There's also a big moment where she accepts and embraces her destiny, which was excellent. She still has a tendency towards selfishness and her rages sometimes feel unprovoked. I could have lived without the scene by the lake, frankly. It felt like a step back.

I think the best part of the novel is the newest character, Sir Gorrann, the gruff old Spade set on vengeance. Dinah desperately needed someone to stand up to her and a reminder that she'd been unusually blessed, (up until the whole "framed for murder" thing.) The evolution of their dynamic over the course of the story was undoubtedly a highlight and a big part of Dinah's growth. 

The Wonder continues this series in a big way. It's tense and has a surprising amount of heart. There's a massive, game-changing twist. The references to the original Wonderland are well integrated with the new world in a way that keeps it fresh. It does feel a bit like a bridge between the first and last books and pacing wasn't always smooth, but in all, a short novel I'm happy to recommend.

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place - Julie Berry

*doorbell rings* "Oh, who ever it is, they gotta go away or they'll be killed."

Victorian murder mysteries and drawing room farces are genres that have faded away, but if they were all written with the wit ofThe Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place, let's hope for a come back.

There's been a murder at St. Etheldreda's School for Girls and each of the seven students, defined by the poor home life that lead her to the institute, is determined to cover it up lest they be returned to the family that calls them Dull, Pocked, or Disgraceful. 

The characters are intentionally one dimensional, with the exception of the girl who emerges as the main character who does undergo a surprising, (and forced,) amount of growth. I thought their adjectives and character traits lent the book most of its humor, though some of the characters, like the dumb one and the slutty one, ran thin by the end. 

Still, the girls band together to solve a whole host of mysteries, starting with who killed poor Mrs. Plackett and moving down to jeweled elephants, missing wills, and falsified ledgers. This isn't one of those books where the question is whodunit, but instead, who didn't? Everyone has motive, from the reverend to the neighbor. (Fortunately there's no butler to have done it.) It's twisty, impossible to pin down, and full of red herrings, but when the mysteries all come out in the inevitable drawing room scene, the clues were all there. It's satisfying, though a few red herrings leave dangling plot threads.

The biggest problem with the novel is the size of the cast. With seven main characters, the deceased, a bevy of suspects, nosy neighbors, and constables, having six love interests felt like major overkill. They do all move along the plot in some way, so I can't point at one and say, "that's the superfluous one! Take him out!," but I wish they could have been pared down somehow.

I found The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place to be a exceptionally fun mystery with an old soul. It sacrifices character building for mystery building and suffers from some expendable threads, but if you liked Clue or want a feminist Sherlock Holmes, it's easy enough to sit back and enjoy the ride for what it is.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré

Hey remember when Nearly Headless Nick wanted to join the other headless ghosts but he was only NEARLY headless? And these books were fun and six year olds weren't raped and the best characters didn't die with the ghost of their last laugh on their lips? That was awesome.


Done. 15 years, but I've finished the series.

Battle Magic (Circle Reforged, #3)

Battle Magic (Circle Reforged, #3) - Tamora Pierce As a lifelong Pierce fan, I couldn't be more disappointed. Firstly, I don't understand the decision to release this after Melting Stones. Because we already had a book from Evvy's POV taking place after this one, the plot felt like someone ticking off items on a list. Find the Heart of the Mountain. Check. War. Check. Nightmares. Triple check. I didn't find any excitement or tension.

I didn't like the visit to the Emperor's palace. I thought Rosethorn acted completely out of character regarding the bush and the Emperor was too two dimensional to be a good villain. It seemed like the book might be on to something by introducing the Yanjingi characters as people and then putting them on the opposite side of the war, but it blew it with the torture scenes. "Nope, nope, they really are just evil!"

In all, the weakest Emelan novel by far. The sidequest did provide some character development for Rosethorn, but the pacing was flatly bizarre. The link between the real life Tibet/China conflict was too heavy handed and the rest of the plot was bland and predictable.

On the Way to the Wedding

On the Way to the Wedding - Julia Quinn The final Bridgerton book has lost all contact with reality. And you know what?

That's good.

In a frothy hodgepodge of common HR plots, Ms. Quinn ramps up the tension with love at first sight, interrupted weddings, treason, kidnapping... Really, it's a wonder there's anything left to pull our HEA out of!

I liked the choice to start each chapter with the little fourth-wall breaking narration, though it did give away the "mystery" of the prologue. It helped separate the story from the other siblings, which is good, because I found Gregory to be written exactly as Colin. Now Colin's a charming rogue and it's hard to write four boys and four girls in totally separate ways, but even when I compared Daphne and Eloise, I didn't feel like they were the exact same character.

Still, there's a lot to like with multiple cameos from other family members, a good love scene, plenty of intrigue and a good dose of silliness.

No One Needs to Know

No One Needs to Know - Amanda Grace Read This Review & More Like It At Ageless Pages Reviews

You can pry the ship of Olivia and Zoey out of my cold dead hands. I am so unbelievably in love with them as a couple and I’m desperately invested in their relationship.

And to think I almost missed out on this book entirely because the cover and title imply it’s about cheating.

The blurb does this book a huge disservice, so allow me a minor spoiler. Liam is not in love with Zoey. He never says he’s in love with Zoey. (He says the opposite.) They’re casual. Liam starts liking her more than she likes him, but that is absolutely not the same thing. Around the three quarter mark, the relationships start to feel kind of cheater-y, which is what causes the climax, but I don’t feel like this is a “cheating” book. Your milage may vary.

Liam is really a non-factor in most of the book, though. Zoey’s POVs almost never features him, thoughts of him, anything. Instead, it’s all about the slow build from hate to friendship to love between Olivia and Zoey. It’s so natural and sweet; it’s probably one of the best examples of a relationship in YA/NA. If I had one quibble, it’s that Zoey never gave gifts or planned the dates. I understand Olivia has more money and time, but I just wish I’d felt a little more give and take. Still, I’m never going to get over the graffiti date. The idea of a love interest taking the time to plan a perfect day for their partner, institute it, and use it to show their affection? Beautiful.

I did find one thing extremely weird. Zoey has a little sister who she’s extremely close to. She comes along on trips out with both Olivia and Liam, but at the climax, she has no idea who Liam is. (She didn’t talk to them on the ferry, but she had her face pressed to the glass and definitely saw them together, but didn’t recognize him at all when he arrived at the house. Huh?) I feel like a scene must have been added and not edited in properly. I hope that’s corrected before release. OH NO, LOOKS LIKE I MUST BUY A COPY TO CHECK. IT IS A TRAGEDY.

Their home lives are a little melodramatic and feature some subplots I could take or leave. The maybe-cheating didn’t make me feel good, though teenagers aren’t known for their complex romantic morals. It doesn’t matter. This is a book that features a f/f relationship with no homophobia or consequences of being gay. Do you understand how rare that is? If I'd been able to see a happy, healthy homo relationship when I was a teen, instead of sad issue books where being gay is the only thing in a person's life, it would have saved me a lot of pain and tears in my own life. So allow me to quote Olivia,

“It was perfect.
The whole [book] was perfect.”

The Suffragette Scandal (The Brothers Sinister Book 4)

The Suffragette Scandal (The Brothers Sinister Book 4) - Courtney Milan "A paper written by women, for women, and about women obviously NEEDS a man to speak on its behalf. If it is a joke for men to speak on behalf of women, then our country, our laws, and our customs must all be jokes, too."

I see what you’re doing with this book, Courtney, and I approve.

The Brothers Sinister series has played a lot with what a romance heroine is. She's a survivor, a prodigy, an individual, a scientist, a feminist. She's more than a love interest. She's a fully realized character. These tenets have come to a raging boil with Free, out titular suffragette. Through her character, Ms. Milan has a lot to say on women's rights in Victorian England and their parallels to modern struggles. It's not your typical bodice ripping fare, and that's why it's so special.

I adore that Free’s able to be open and sexual and throw Edward off his game. Their relationship felt wholly unique. I loved both characters individually and together. At first, their romance is overshadowed by the plot against Free, but as the book progresses and both characters soften, there’s a really interesting part where they’re separated and writing letters, (including Edward’s infamous puppy letter that melted me into goo,) that tied back into Free’s parent’s romance from the prequel novella. It’s a little thing that I didn’t connect initially, but it fleshed out the world and reminded me how much I’m going to miss these characters.

It’s not a perfect book. The villain’s motivations felt thin and I don’t think a lord can just decide he doesn’t want to pay attention to his tenants anymore. Still, this is also the book that gives us TWO beta romances featuring queer characters. That’s something I’ll forgive a lot for. It’s smart, well written, and sexy. I know there’s a coda to the series still coming, but with the epilogue, I’m happy to bid the Brothers Sinister farewell.

July in Review

10 books a month seems to be my magic number, which blows my mind. I'm so happy I've started keeping detailed spreadsheets of my progress, because it's really motivating. After last month's epic haul, I only bought one book, Obsidian, while it was discounted. I did have three library books come in, and I did add eARCS of An American Duchess, 

Firebug, The Girl With All The Gifts, and The Suffragette Scandal. Still, if you look at my June list, I was positively restrained.




I Work At A Public Library by Gina Sheridan - 3 Stars (Review)

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers - 4 Stars

It's In His Kiss by Julia Quinn - 4 Stars (Mini Review)

The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett - 4 Stars

An American Duchess by Sharon Page - 3 Stars (Review)

Brighter Than The Sun by Julia Quinn - 4 Stars (Mini Review)

The Girl With All The Gifts by MR Carey - 5 Stars (Review)

Madam Tussaud's Apprentice by Kathleen Benner Duble - 2.5 Stars (Review)

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater - 4.5 Stars (Twitter Review)

The House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey - 3.5 Stars


Started But Not Finished:


Feed by Mira Grant - 56% Complete

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling - 44% Complete

The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan - 10% Complete

The House of the Four Winds

The House of the Four Winds - Mercedes Lackey, James Mallory Edited 8/6/14:

Read This Review & More Like It At Ageless Pages Reviews


If I could rate this book based on a summary of events, it would be five stars. It’s got a princesses disguised as a boy, sword fighting, pirates, an evil sorceress, romance, sea monsters, treasure, and a happily ever after. ♪ ♫These are a few of my favorite things! ♪ ♫

Unfortunately, what The House of the Four Winds suffers from is poor pacing. The initial boat trip stretches on far too long and we aren’t even introduced to the villain until well past the half way mark. Things drag on, (the reverend, the magical amnesia,) and are then resolved with little to no fanfare or impact. The climax felt clumsy and a big reveal didn’t have enough time or emotion behind it to feel shocking. If I could take 75 pages from the early set up and reassign them to the climax, I’d be a lot happier.

Furthermore, I am very disappointed in the worldbuilding. It’s Earth, but because of the discovery of magic, everything’s different! Well, the country and city names are different. Except Manna-hattan. And everything’s pretty analogous to 18th Century Europe. But it’s totally different!

And your African parallel is still being plundered for slave trade? Spare me.

Now, there are positives for this book. Clarice is a really fun character. I was very impressed with the way she handled herself on the ship. She’s level headed and good, but still acted when the situation called for it. I really appreciated that she accepted her feelings for Dominick and then moved on with her life because nothing could be done about it right then. The romance was nice, evolving in a natural and sweet way. I really liked and appreciated that his virginity and her lack there of was an absolute non-issue. Go Mercedes, flip that script.

The House of the Four Winds isn’t a fairy tale retelling, but it has a lot of similarities to old classics. It actually has a lot in common with Ms. Lackey’s Five Hundred Kingdom’s series, in both tone and structure. It’s not my favorite series, but it’s one I’m always happy to come across. I suspect the One Dozen Daughters will be the same way.

Original review:
Slow start led to some odd pacing, and repetitive word choices and choppy writing made it difficult to fully immerse. Still, if you enjoy the Five Hundred Kingdoms, you should be satisfied with what Lackey delivers here: an original story that evokes classic fairy tales.

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2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
Danielle has read 67 books toward her goal of 75 books.