Size Doesn’t Matter (64): It’s In His Kiss; Kingdom of Ash and Briars; This Savage Song

Size Doesn’t Matter (64): It’s In His Kiss; Kingdom of Ash and Briars; This Savage SongIt's in His Kiss by Julia Quinn
Series: Bridgertons #7
Published by Avon on October 13, 2009
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 368
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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three-stars

IF IT'S IN HIS HEART ... IT'S IN HIS KISS

MEET OUR HERO...

Gareth St. Clair is in a bind. His father, who detests him, is determined to beggar the St. Clair estates and ruin his inheritance. Gareth's sole bequest is an old family diary, which may or may not contain the secrets of his past... and the key to his future. The problem is—it's written in Italian, of which Gareth speaks not a word.

MEET OUR HEROINE ...

All the ton agreed: there was no one quite like Hyacinth Bridgerton. She's fiendishly smart, devilishly outspoken, and according to Gareth, probably best in small doses. But there's something about her—something charming and vexing—that grabs him and won't quite let go...

MEET POOR MR. MOZART...

Or don't. But rest assured, he's spinning in his grave when Gareth and Hyacinth cross paths at the annual—and annually discordant—Smythe-Smith musicale. To Hyacinth, Gareth's every word seems a dare, and she offers to translate his diary, even though her Italian is slightly less than perfect. But as they delve into the mysterious text, they discover that the answers they seek lie not in the diary, but in each other ... and that there is nothing as simple—or as complicated—as a single, perfect kiss.

I’ve been looking forward to Hyacinth’s book since her first appearance as a rambunctious child in The Duke and I. That sounds kind of creepy, but I knew she would grow up to be massively sassy (she did) and so I assumed she would get the best of romances. However, perhaps because my expectations were so high, It’s in His Kiss let me down a bit.

Gareth and Hyacinth do achieve a decent back-and-forth banter, and I like their dynamic most of the time. He challenges her, and he’s very turned on by how much she challenges him. I like that sort of thing a lot. The little mystery of his parentage and his grandmother’s diary is good fun, and I love the resolution of it. This book really could have been sheer magic.

Except. For no reason whatsoever, Quinn has Gareth decide to ruin Hyacinth, even though she’s already promised to marry him. Despite it being out of character for her, he thinks she’ll cry off if she finds out he’s actually a bastard. That’s upsetting obviously. But what’s worse is that then, though they anticipate the marriage bed (as do all of the Bridgertons), no one finds out so that plot point went nowhere. They could have just had sex because they were carried away by their passions and the book would have been EXACTLY THE SAME except that it wouldn’t have left a bad taste in my mouth.

Much as I’ve enjoyed this series as a whole, Quinn does really love the historical romance trope where the hero and heroine get caught behaving inappropriately and thus MUST wed. I, unfortunately, do not.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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I received this book for free from ALA 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 (64): It’s In His Kiss; Kingdom of Ash and Briars; This Savage SongKingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West
Published by Holiday House on August 30, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Romance, Fairy Tales
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
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three-stars

Bristal, an orphaned kitchen maid, lands in a gritty fairy tale gone wrong when she discovers she is an elicromancer with a knack for shape-shifting. An ancient breed of immortal magic beings, elicromancers have been winnowed down to merely two - now three - after centuries of bloody conflict in the realm. Their gifts are fraught with responsibility, and sixteen-year-old Bristal is torn between two paths. Should she vow to seek the good of the world, to protect and serve mortals? Or should she follow the strength of her power, even if it leads to unknown terrors? She draws on her ability to disguise herself as a man to infiltrate a prince's band of soldiers, and masquerades as a fairy godmother to shield a cursed princess, but time is running out. As an army of dark creatures grows closer, Bristal faces a supernatural war. To save the kingdoms, Bristal must find the courage to show her true form.

Building on homages to Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Jane Austen’s Emma and the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, Hannah West makes a spectacular debut.

Kingdom of Ash and Briars puts a clever spin on both Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, but wasn’t strong enough in characterization to enthrall me.

West focuses not on the heroines of those tales but on a new heroine. Bristal plays a role in the stories of the fairy tale heroines, as fairy godmother, but she also has a larger job keeping the kingdoms together against a magical threat. Bristal’s an elicromancer, one skilled in changing her form to that of other people or animals.

I really like the cleverness of the tale. The writing is lovely. The plot’s interesting. However, the characterization wasn’t strong enough to get me massively engaged in the tale. I should have been into the ship, for example, but I didn’t feel an ounce of passion in it. The characters do fit fairy tale archetypes, and they fall in love like a fairy tale, suddenly and with little actual feeling. When characters died (as a few important ones did), I was mildly surprised but that was it. This book failed to make me really care.

I’m happy to have read Kingdom of Ash and Briars, but the distance from the characters kept it from being one that I’ll remember particularly well or want to revisit.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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Size Doesn’t Matter (64): It’s In His Kiss; Kingdom of Ash and Briars; This Savage SongThis Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Series: Monsters of Verity #1
Published by Greenwillow on July 5, 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Horror
Pages: 427
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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four-stars

There’s no such thing as safe.

Kate Harker wants to be as ruthless as her father. After five years and six boarding schools, she’s finally going home to prove that she can be.

August Flynn wants to be human. But he isn’t. He’s a monster, one that can steal souls with a song. He’s one of the three most powerful monsters in a city overrun with them. His own father’s secret weapon.

Their city is divided.

Their city is crumbling.

Kate and August are the only two who see both sides, the only two who could do something.

But how do you decide to be a hero or a villain when it’s hard to tell which is which?

Secretly, at the start of this year, I tried to read This Savage Song super early. I was afraid it was going to get over-hyped and decided to cheat read it before that happened. But I didn’t really like the opening, so I put it down and resolved to come back later. Often, this doesn’t change anything for me, but in this instance this strategy paid off. This time, I found myself liking the characters and intrigued by the plot where I’d been bored before.

The pacing of This Savage Song is definitely on the slow side for much of the book, only to culminate in a bloody and intense series of battles. The characters are good, I think, but there’s a bit of a distance. Both Kate and August are people who keep their feelings inside. Because they’re so internalized and This Savage Song is narrated in third person, it’s not the most character-focused read in the world.

The setting’s really cool, though I think I might have enjoyed it a bit more as a straight fantasy than as some sort of future United States. Still, I like the concept. The darkness of human acts has created actual, literal monsters, who now threaten the safety of humans, especially in Verity. There are two kinds of vampiric creatures, created by murders and other acts like that, and a more mysterious monster known as a sunai created by mass deaths. The United States would certainly be full of monsters were this to come to be.

My favorite character is August’s cat. I like August too though, in his fruitless struggle to be human. He has to strike a delicate balance between accepting his nature without losing himself completely to it. Kate’s struggles parallel his, as she tries to be like her father without really considering whether she can be or wants to be. I’m not sure if Schwab is setting them up as a ship, though I would assume that she is. As of now, I don’t ship it, but who knows?

This Savage Song proved unexpectedly enjoyable on my second attempt. I’m glad I didn’t DNF but gave the book a second try instead. I look forward to the next book because I have NO idea what’s going to happen.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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One response to “Size Doesn’t Matter (64): It’s In His Kiss; Kingdom of Ash and Briars; This Savage Song”

  1. That is too bad about Kingdom of Ash and Briar! It hasn’t been high on my list but any fairy tale retelling is worth a look and your review makes it sound so unique and interesting. My last few 3 and 2 star reads, however, have been because of the characters- lack of connection, lack of emotion, etc. So that’s a bummer to hear it being the case here.
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