YA Book Review: Freeks by Amanda Hocking

YA Book Review: Freeks by Amanda HockingFreeks by Amanda Hocking
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on January 3rd 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Goodreads
three-stars

In a world of magical visions and pyrokinesis, Mara just wants to have a normal life. But is that possible?
Mara has become used to the extraordinary. Roaming from place to place with Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Carnival, she longs for an ordinary life where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future.
She gets her chance when the struggling sideshow sets up camp in the small town of Caudry and she meets a gorgeous local guy named Gabe. But before long, Mara realizes there’s a dark presence lurking in the town that’s threatening the lives of her friends. She has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she had in order to save everyone she cares about—and change the future forever.

Freeks brings us into the world of the traveling carnival sideshow. This is what first caught my interest about the book. I have a soft spot for books about circuses and carnivals, and the gorgeous cover also helped. 

 

The carnival is run by Gideon, and it has fallen on hard times. In a last resort attempt to save his show, Gideon takes his traveling convoy to the town of Caudry, Louisiana. However something “feels” odd about this town. Soon many of them start to disappear, or reappear…but not quite as they were.

 

Mara, our main character/heroine has always been with the sideshow, yet she has no special ability, “powers” or abnormality. Her mother, however, is a psychic, and Mara travels with them doing odd jobs and errands.  Mara doesn’t mind seem to mind the life she’s been living, traveling from town to town, but it’s clear that she does long to set up roots of her own.  

 

I feel a little sad for Mara, because it doesn’t seem like she has many friends. It also seems as if she wishes she could be part of a regular family. Yet she does not complain or whine about this, which I give her lots of credit for not doing.

 

The romance with Mara and Gabe is what really drove me nuts. I felt it was rushed, and too “INSTALOVE” for my taste. She barely meets him, and she is already deep throat tongue kissing him all the time? I just don’t buy it, but maybe she is just that horny and lonely. Still, I don’t see how this could be a good way to showcase the heroine of the novel to young readers.

 

I wanted her to have a little more common sense, and self-worth. The romance could have been great if it had not seemed so forced. It needed time to develop to be more believable. I like their personalities with each other but it was all too fast for me to put my seal of approval on it. Also, Gabe’s secret was pretty obvious to me from the very beginning.

 

Freeks has quite a few supporting characters, and I feel the author did a fantastic job keeping them all individual, and not feeling overwhelming to the reader. I enjoyed the parts of the book that gave details about carnival life and the intrigues of the sideshow acts. If there had been more of the carnival bits in the book and more details about each of the sideshow characters I would have been very happy. When it came to the ending, it felt rushed to me and I wish there had been more time taken to bring the story to a close. 

 

Overall Freeks was a quick and fun read. There were things I really liked, and some things I really did not, but it all balanced out. I would recommend this book to YA readers who enjoy mysteries, and books with paranormal activity.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and St.Martin Press for providing me with an e-ARC copy of Freeks in return exchange for an honest review.

 

three-stars

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Underrated/Hidden Gem Books I Have Recently Read

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by the ladies over at The Broke and The Bookish. Each week we are given a new topic prompt to inspire our bookish lists. Today’s topic is about books I feel are underrated. I am sharing a combination of recently read and not so recently read favorite books that I feel are underrated and under-read.

 

RECENT UNDERRATED READS…

 

The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder

I fell in love with this book just from hearing the title, but the story within it captured my heart. It brought back so many of my own memories of fumbling in and out of love and the nostalgia of the concept of love and how it changes as you grow up. The characters (especially Eph and Penelope) are two of my favorite fictional people ever to grace the pages of any book. Trust me, you need to read this cute, charming and adorable story. (Click Here For My Review)

 


Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner

Another book I completely fell “head-over-heels” for, and it was so unexpected too. I wanted to dive into this book and grab Otis and make him real. He is everything a gal could want for in a best friend. Dana, though harsh and a little too bossy I still loved because of her strength and perseverance. This book is so much more than just swimming and deserves to be read by everyone. (Click Here For My Review)

 

The Last Harvest by Kim Liggett

Once again Kim Liggett has managed to creep me out so good I had trouble sleeping for days. She also managed to take something like cute, mild-mannered cows and make me look at them in a whole other light. This book gave me chills and Kim doesn’t not hold back. Bring your nightlight for this one, you will need it. (Click Here For My Review)

 

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

For some reason, there wasn’t too much buzz about this book this past year, or at least enough in my eyes. I really enjoyed reading it, and I am hard to please when it comes to retellings. This is a very different version of Romeo and Juliet and I LOVED it. It was nothing like I expected, but the world building and the many twists and turns in the story kept my eyes glued to the pages. I can’t wait for book two, and I hope you will give it a chance. (Click Here For My Review)

 

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

This book needs to receive so much more attention! The subject matter of rape culture is something we all deal with every day, and this story places a HUGE spotlight on it. It’s also the kind of book that sucks you into the story from the start. The heroine of the story shouldn’t be someone you are cheering for, or technically even the heroine, but she is. The writing is fantastic and I can not wait to read Mindy McGinnis’s next book. (Click Here For My Review)

 

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

I LOVE this book, it is witty, hilarious and so very cheeky. I know it isn’t completely off the radar, but I think it definitely deserves to have more hype and be read by many more people. I was literally laughing out loud while reading this story (so much so, that people were looking at me funny while reading in public). (Click Here For My Review)

 

NOT SO RECENT UNDERRATED READS….

 

Hello? By Liza Wiemer

Hello? Is such a powerful story about grief, friendship and the power of one “hello” and how it can make all the difference. The unique writing format, the memorable and relatable characters make this story sink into your soul. (Click Here For My Review)

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

This is THE series to read if you are craving an epic and brilliantly written story. You will be completely transported into the world of Kvothe and there is no way you won’t be left wanting more.

 

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafon

One of the most beautifully written books I have EVER read/listened to. This lyrical and poetic story will take you away to Barcelona where there is forbidden love, secrets, and a place called the cemetery of books. You will be completely captivated by this story.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

 

Another lovely and poetic book filled with magic and strangeness. This story is haunting and tragic, splendid and dreamlike. (Click Here For My Review)

 

What are some of the books you have read which you feel are underrated or are “hidden gems”? What about these stories make them worthy of being read? Share with me your answers below, and remember to leave me your link if you participate in TTT.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten 2016 Books I Totally Meant to Read…But Haven’t…Yet.

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by the ladies over at The Broke and The Bookish. Each week we are given a new topic prompt to inspire our bookish lists. Today I am sharing with you ten 2016 books I totally meant to read, but just haven’t gotten to…yet. I know…SHAME!!!

However, they are sitting on the very top of my TBR (to be read) pile and I am determined to get to them throughout this year. 

Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West 

This fairy tale retelling/fantasy sounds perfect. I added this to my “to be read” list the minute I found out about it. For some reason, I have not been able to crack it open yet. I was trying really hard to read more contemporary books this year, so that might have something to do with it. However, this might have to be the first fantasy I read this year off my TBR pile.


Vassa In The Night by Sarah Porter 

This is another fantasy/retelling that everyone has been talking about, and I know I need to read because it is based on Russian folklore/fairy tale. Recently I received the finished copy from a book trade, so it shall be read soonish.



Furthermore
by Tahereh Mafi

I just received the finished copy of this book as a Christmas gift from my friend Nicole, and I NEED to read it. The cover is beautiful, it is a fantasy and there is a fox…need I say more?


The Starlit Wood (New Fairy Tales)

This new anthology of cross-genre fairy tales sounds amazing and is a book I only recently found out about. Now I am obsessed with it, and will be purchasing it / reading it the minute I have it in my hands once it arrives in the mail.


The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

This one is pretty embarrassing, because I have owned it for almost a year now. I even met the author and had the book signed. I love magical realism mixed with fantasy. There really should be no reason as to why this is still unread. Seriously, I have no idea why I haven’t read this yet and I am going to hide in my box of shame now…


Something In Between by Melissa de la Cruz

Another book countless friends suggest I should read. Hearing the author speak at a panel this past Fall, I am now also convinced I should give it a try.


A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

This book has both fantasy and historical fiction mixes together. It is right up my alley and I am still baffled as to why I haven’t read it yet. I need more reading time…or maybe a TimeTurner…


The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

Everyone raves about this book and after chatting with a few friends about how much they love it. I realized I should have read it a long time ago upon chatting with them. Better late than never I suppose…


The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry

I don’t know why I haven’t gotten to this one yet, especially because it has all the elements I love in a historical fiction. Plus the author is a local gal! Must get to this one asap!


The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

Another fantasy book that I did not get to this year (this might have something to do with the fact I was trying to read outside my usual favorite genre).

I would love to know what are some of the books released in 2016 you did not get to. Are you planning on reading them in 2017? Share with me in the comments below and leave me your link if you participate in TTT so I can visit your blog too.

 

Catching Up: Happy New Year and Happy Reading!

Hello everyone, and Happy New Year! I feel as if I haven’t checked in for a while now, and I wanted to take this opportunity to do so. 2016 was quite the year, and I am so grateful for all of you who have been reading, commenting and following. I wouldn’t be here without all your support and kind words throughout the year.

Though 2016 was a brutal year for pretty much everyone, I am glad that at least I had many amazing books to keep me entertained. My goal of reading at least 60 books this past year was a success, and I am planning on going for 80 books in 2017. Speaking of goals, I am also hoping that now that The Plot Bunny is turning 1 (in February), I am settled down enough to try a few new things. Here are a few things I am excited to incorporate into the blog for in 2017 and some blogging resolutions too:

 

    • More Reviews
    • A New Feature completely dedicated to Childrens’ Books/Events (Monthly or bi-weekly)
    • Books & Baking (I love books and I love to bake so it seemed like a natural merging)
    • Trying to actually keep up with Monthly Wrap-ups…or at least bi/tri-monthly ones.
    • Bookish Photos ( I already have a few on my Instagram accounts. Follow me @MarciliaLoubach and @ThePlotBunnyBlog)

 

Let’s Chat Books – In 2016 I read some really fantastic books and I need to give some of my favorites a shot out because they touched my soul. Here is my list of the top 6 books I read in 2016:

 

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows (Review Here)

 

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco (Review Here)

 

The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder (Review Here)

 

Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner (Review Here)

 

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis (Review Here)

 

Pax by Sara Pennypacker (Review Here)

 


Bookish Outings – There were some pretty amazing and fun events that I went to in 2016 too. Though I did not recap them all (something I am working on improving in 2017), but I feel like between the blog, Twitter, and Instagram I tried to capture much of the bookish shenanigans as possible. Here are my favorites:

 

  • Attending ALA MidWinter in Boston with Nicole and Elizabeth

     

  • Independent Book Day in Harvard Square with Nicole and Rachel


    • Meeting Claire Legrand at The Blue Bunny Bookstore for their Middle Grade Panel with Elizabeth

    • Midnight Release Party for Harry Potter and The Cursed Child with Elizabeth and Nicole



    • The Marauders tea time outing with Nicole and Elizabeth

 

All of these events were awesome to attend and participate in, but the best part was having bookish best friends to hang out with and meeting new bookish people too. Hopefully, 2017 will bring even more opportunities to attend book signings, events, and festivals. I know for sure that I will definitely be in NYC this upcoming June for BEA…I mean BookExpo. Yoohoo!!!

 


Books for the New Year – There are some incredible books coming out in the new year, and I can’t wait to read them all. Here is what I have on my top 10 list for 2017 MUST READS.

 

Caraval by Stephanie Garber – So I already read the ARC, but I am so looking forward to the finished copy, but I pre-ordered it so it will be signed. ::Squeeee!::

 

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

 

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

 

Garden of Blood and Dust by K. K. Pérez

 

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

 

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

 

Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popović

 

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

 

Hunted by Meagan Spooner

 

The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

 

Here is to 2017 being the best bookish year yet! I hope you will be able to read all of the books you are anticipating. Make sure to come back and check out my latest review, and please say hello and introduce yourself in the comments below. I always love to hear about what others are reading and love bookish recommendations. Or why not share with me some of your own bookish/blog resolutions? Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

 

Pottermas: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Review


As we reach the last day of December, we also come to the close of Pottermas for this year. For our final post Nicole and I will be reviewing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Elizabeth will be reviewing Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. We would like to thank you all for following along with #Pottermas16 this month.

 

Title: Harry Potter and The Cursed Child

Author: J.K Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

Publisher: Little Brown, UK

Publication date: July 31st, 2016

My Rating: 4 Stars

 

 

SYNOPSIS (From Goodreads): Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
 

MY REVIEW

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the 8th and “final” book in the Harry Potter series. Though technically it is a screenplay based on a story written by J.K Rowling and John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne and not a full-fledged book. Therefore, the format of the book comes with stage directions and everything you expect to see in a theatrical production script, which some readers did not like.

One major point that had many readers in an uproar is the fact that this screenplay reads like fan fiction. Having read a very few number of fan fiction I can not fully attest to this being the case. However, many friends told me about the variety of fan fictions out there. As well as the many fan theories. I do find it interesting that some of those theories are now considered canon thanks to what happens in Harry a Potter and the Cursed Child.

While reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I was often surprised as to what was happening in the story. Some of the things happening I couldn’t believe was what J.K. Rowling intended. I kept reminding myself that this is a collaboration between three people and that J.K did sign off on the final product. Though there were a few things I simply did not like or agree with, I did thoroughly enjoy being back in the wizarding world.

One of my favorite things about this story is the friendship of Scorpious and Albus. They both were living in the shadow of their fathers and dealing with the aftermath. Their friendship is a powerful reminder that we can’t hold onto grudges. Their friendship helps them to cope and survive with their inner demons throughout the book. Scorpious being head over heels for is Rose Weasley was also one of my favorite things. Her reaction to his constant attention gave the book a humorous break from the more serious parts.

As for the boy who lived? Oh! how I wish Harry Potter had been portrayed differently as an adult. I do not believe for one moment that Harry would behave the way he did in this book as an adult or as a parent.  The same goes for Hermione. Ron was pretty spot on, I really enjoyed his portray as an adult.

The biggest theory that is now considered canon seems pretty crazy and far-fetched to me. However, I do approve because it involves things I have often joked about actually being true. I am enormously satisfied that it is now canon and part of the Harry Potter storyline. Many fans completely hated this theory being true, but I LOVE IT.

I would absolutely recommend all Harry Potter fans to read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It might not sit well with all fans, but the outcome outweighs the bad, as does the opportunity to return to the wizarding world. A helpful tip for readers is to remember this is meant to be a play. Obviously, there is a whole other creative element to the story you are missing without the visuals and actors. Hopefully one day we will all get a chance to see the play live and get the full effect of the story.

 

Thank you again for following along with #Pottermas16 all month long. We hope you enjoyed our posts, and remember to come back next year for #Pottermas17.Have you read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? Share with me your thoughts in the comments below.