Size Doesn’t Matter (36): Mini Reviews from a Lazy Blogger

I received this book for free from Purchased in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (36): Mini Reviews from a Lazy BloggerThe Storyspinner by Becky Wallace
Series: The Keepers' Chronicles #1
Published by Margaret K. McElderry on March 3, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Adventure
Pages: 417
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Drama and danger abound in this fantasy realm where dukes play a game for the throne, magical warriors race to find the missing heir, and romance blossoms where it is least expected.

In a world where dukes plot their way to the throne, a Performer’s life can get tricky. And in Johanna Von Arlo’s case, it can be fatal. Expelled from her troupe after her father’s death, Johanna is forced to work for the handsome Lord Rafael DeSilva. Too bad they don’t get along. But while Johanna’s father’s death was deemed an accident, the Keepers aren’t so sure.

The Keepers, a race of people with magical abilities, are on a quest to find the princess—the same princess who is supposed to be dead and whose throne the dukes are fighting over. But they aren’t the only ones looking for her. And in the wake of their search, murdered girls keep turning up—girls who look exactly like the princess, and exactly like Johanna.

With dukes, Keepers, and a killer all after the princess, Johanna finds herself caught up in political machinations for the throne, threats on her life, and an unexpected romance that could change everything.

Rereading The Storyspinner, I really feel pretty close to the same as I did before, so I’m not going to bother with a big thing here. You can check out the original review for my thoughts.

Otherwise, I remain uncomfortable about the fact that the Keepers, with their magical powers and incredible beauty, are all blonde and pale-skinned. If I can let that go, I completely love this book. It’s just the kind of shippy crack fantasy that I cannot put down.

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (36): Mini Reviews from a Lazy BloggerThe Skylighter by Becky Wallace
Series: The Keepers' Chronicles #2
Published by Margaret K. McElderry on March 22, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Adventure
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
two-half-stars

Johanna and Rafi are in a race against time to save their country before a power-mad Keeper destroys everything they hold dear in the “enthralling magical world” (Cinda Williams Chima, author of The Heir Chronicles) introduced in The Storyspinner.

As the last of the royal line, Johanna is the only person who can heal a magical breach in the wall that separates her kingdom of Santarem from the land of the Keepers, legendary men and women who wield elemental magic. The barrier protects Santarem from those Keepers who might try to take power over mere humans…Keepers who are determined to stop Johanna and seize the wall’s power for themselves.

And they’re not the only ones. As the duchys of Santarem descend into war over the throne, Johanna relies more than ever on the advice of her handsome companion, Lord Rafael DeSilva. But Rafi is a duke too, and his people come first. As their friendship progresses into the beginnings of a tender relationship, Johanna must wonder: is Rafi looking out for her happiness, or does he want the throne for himself?

With war on the horizon, Johanna and Rafi dodge treacherous dukes and Keeper assassins as they race to through the countryside, determined to strengthen the wall before it’s too late…even if it means sacrificing their happiness for the sake of their world.

This cover remains such a betrayal. Every time I see it, I just frown at it in disappointment. The book itself definitely isn’t that level of disappointment, but it didn’t quite live up to The Storyspinner for me.

The main problem, I think, is how short this book is. Basically everything felt rushed: the plot, the romantic resolutions. On the one hand, it did actually make the book pretty impossible to put down since something intense was always happening, but I think the novel could have benefited from more slow moments. A battle doesn’t always need to be happening to keep my interest. Plus, given that I’m pretty sure this is the end of the series, based on how everything wrapped up there at the end, I’m shocked it’s a hundred pages shorter than book one when this is the book with the big bad. Like HOW?

It’s a shame because a lot of what happened could have punched such an emotional punch, but often it failed to. I mean, don’t get me wrong, because I did really enjoy it, and the crack is still there, but it could have been more. I should have been a mess of ship and feels and I wasn’t. There are two primary examples to where the rushing really cut the feels, but they’re spoilery so:

View Spoiler »

Everything’s fun and I enjoyed it immensely, but, the more I think on it, the more I’m haunted by the book that could have been. I wish The Skylighter had been another 200 pages long at least, because that would have been epic.

Size Doesn’t Matter (36): Mini Reviews from a Lazy BloggerBlack Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase
Narrator: Nathalie Buscombe, Katie Scarfe, Cassandra Campbell
Length: 12 hrs, 6 mins
Published by Penguin Audio on February 9, 2016
Genres: Historical, Gothic, Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
two-half-stars

For fans of Kate Morton and Sarah Waters, here’s a magnetic debut novel of wrenching family secrets, forbidden love, and heartbreaking loss housed within the grand gothic manor of Black Rabbit Hall.

Ghosts are everywhere, not just the ghost of Momma in the woods, but ghosts of us too, what we used to be like in those long summers . . .

Amber Alton knows that the hours pass differently at Black Rabbit Hall, her London family’s country estate, where no two clocks read the same. Summers there are perfect, timeless. Not much ever happens. Until, of course, it does.

More than three decades later, Lorna is determined to be married within the grand, ivy-covered walls of Pencraw Hall, known as Black Rabbit Hall among the locals. But as she’s drawn deeper into the overgrown grounds, half-buried memories of her mother begin to surface and Lorna soon finds herself ensnared within the manor’s labyrinthine history, overcome with an insatiable need for answers about her own past and that of the once-happy family whose memory still haunts the estate.

Stunning and atmospheric, this debut novel is a thrilling spiral into the hearts of two women separated by decades but inescapably linked by the dark and tangled secrets of Black Rabbit Hall.

You guys probably know by now that I cannot resist a historical novel set in high society. Plus, the blurb said Kate Morton (who I know Jessie loves) and Sarah Waters. That sounds boss. It wasn’t though. I mean, I liked it for most of the novel but then shit went south really fast. I’d say a better comparison would be Beatriz Williams, whose novels I also kind of like kind of loathe, only this one went somewhere I really don’t want my fluffy historical reads to go.

There are two timelines. In the 1960s, we have the Altons reeling from the loss of their beloved mother (or wife in the case of the dad obviously). In the 2000s, we have adopted Lorna searching for wedding venues and both running away and toward her past as she considers Black Rabbit Hall as a possible venue. Shockingly, these two tie together in a twist that absolutely no one could ever predict. [Sarcasm.]

So it wasn’t reinventing the wheel or anything, but I loved the rambling estate and both timelines held my attention. Then, though, with two hours left in the audiobook, shit went fucking nuts and awful and then didn’t resolve in a convincing way. This is mega spoilery so yeah. View Spoiler »

So yeah, kind of entertaining but also mostly not good. You have been warned.

3 responses to “Size Doesn’t Matter (36): Mini Reviews from a Lazy Blogger”

  1. I had been super intrigued by Black Rabbit Hall because of the authors it was compared to. But then again, those are some big shoes to fill. Think I’ll be giving that one a pass though. And damn… I’d be saving The Storyspinner so I could binge both. Nothing worse than a disappointing ending.
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday – The Wolf Road: A Novel by Beth LewisMy Profile

  2. Well we already discussed my horrified thoughts on the Black Rabbit Hall spoiler. Yikes. I’m glad I read your review because “for fans of Kate Morton” is basically my book crack. And I’m unsure what to do about The Storyspinner duology. I actually DNFed the first book; I couldn’t get into it for some reason. And since the sequel doesn’t sound like it’s much stronger I’m a bit meh on it all. But maybe I’ll try it someday!

  3. Jessie says:

    I completely agree with you about the Keepers and their unforunate uniform Aryan-ness. A little less emphasis on those particular features for them would be nice.

    I ALSO COMPLETELY AGREE ABOUT THE SKYLIGHTERS COVER. I am all for starting a petition for Meg to make new covers a la what she did for the Raven Cycle books.

    I can’t comment more because I have not read Skylighter or BRH but I did have the latter on my TBR precisely FOR those Morton comparisons. I am now… less enthused. Morton likes to tie dual timelines together but her twists are of the “WHAT THE WHAAAAAT” variety not the…. slut shamey and creepy kind.
    Jessie recently posted…Review: The Guardian by Jack WhyteMy Profile

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