Author Archives: Lulu

About Lulu

Thirty-something year old educator based in New York, Lulu loves books, blogging, gaming, and the three cats with whom she shares her life. Book reviews specialize in all kinds of fantasy, some YA, some romance, and some contemporary, especially in the gothic genre.

Awakening: Bloodline by Tiera Rice

Awakening: Bloodline by Tiera Rice

 Awakening: Bloodline
by Tiera Rice

Antanasia knows better than anyone that being royal comes with lots of expectations. Born into war as a Vampyre Witch, she has to battle the ultimate enemy: her own blood. When she has a terrifying Vision, Antanasia fights harder than ever to prevent it from coming to pass. Will she succeed? Or does she die trying?

Nadia is an average teenager celebrating her nineteenth birthday. But her day turns upside down when she starts developing unusual abilities that make her question everything she knew. Searching for answers to her predicament, she finds herself trusting Nicolae, a stranger with a familiar presence. Why does she feel so drawn to him? Will Nadia find answers to the questions about her past and take on her new role willingly? Or will she choose to remain in the dark and deny her destiny?

Book One of the Bloodline series

Rated: ★½
Publisher: Eula Rae Printing & Publishing
Publication: October 12, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Vampires
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

amazon

Awakening: Bloodline by Tiera Rice

As an aficionado of vampire fiction, I was really excited to pick up Awakening: Bloodline by Tiera Rice.  Beautiful cover, intriguing synopsis, destiny and romance, all the markings of a great YA paranormal book! But, they all fell a little flat for me. I was disappointed and left expecting and wanting more.

Now, as I’m not Rroma, my review will not be touching upon whether this was culturally acceptable, or whether the speech was fluid and made sense (I wish someone that was Rroma could take a look at it though). I will say, the parts that were full of Romani just distracted from the work. I understand Rice’s intent in wanting it to sound genuine, but honestly, I just glossed over all of it and thought okay, I guess this is a thing, which is funny because that was the extent of it. There was no huge emphasis on Nadia’s culture, not that there should be, it’s just if you’re going to make it a point to have her mother be extra Rroma and speak a mix of Romani and English, then I’d feel like there should be more to it. I mean, my own family will speak Spanglish, even though my mother has been in America for over thirty years, and she still has some very Latinx way of thinking and concerns. Nadia’s mother didn’t seem to exhibit any of those cultural nuances, which was disappointing and just left the influx of Romani words feeling awkward.

BUT, let’s move away from that since I’m not Rroma and therefore not really qualified to continue critiquing that. Let’s get to the things I can talk about. Nadia’s mother took a potion, knew what was going to happen, and then was surprised and angry when it did. I understand Rice is trying to go with the typical YA trope of having parents do something and not realize the consequences until it comes to fruition. However, it just annoyed me. She knew what was going to happen to her daughter and selfishly refused to prepare her for it, refused to even tell her what was going on. Knowing that keeping her daughter ignorant would put everyone in danger. Then, there’s Nadia who vacillates between understanding what’s going on and accepting it, to freaking out. She’s 19 but behaves like a 14 year old. She simply never feels real.

So, if I had all of these issues, why 2.5? Because Rice saves it with Antanasia and Nicolae. Antanasia’s story was exciting, riveting, and well constructed. Those were the parts I wanted to read more about. Antanasia is well-fleshed, and her romance with Nic is solid and real. The half of the novel that takes place in the past is well-paced and well written. All of the characters feel real and worthy of interest, which makes me wonder where the disconnect happened for Rice. Through Antanasia and Nic, we can see that she knows how to write great characters, but for some reason, it gets lost when we move to Nadia and friends.

Honestly, I’m not sure if I would pick up the sequel to Awakening: Bloodline by Tiera Rice. I want to know more about Antanasia, I want her to come back, I want to see more of Nic, but I don’t know if I’ll have the patience for Nadia. This one is a toss-up that you guys are gonna have to decide on your own if half a good book makes the whole worth it.

White Rabbit Society 2

White Rabbit Society pt2 by Brendan Detzner

 White Rabbit Society pt2
by Brendan Detzner

White Rabbit Society Part Two completes the story that started in White Rabbit Society Part One. Four years have passed. With a lot a of luck and at great personal cost, Andrew has managed to not get killed. He’s a magician now, for better or worse. He’s knowledgeable, confident, and also ambitious, which may be the biggest danger he’s had to face yet. Because there are scarier things out there than a teenager with a little magic and a chip on his shoulder, and Andrew’s heading right for them.

Rated: ★★★½
Publisher: Attack Rabbit Press
Publication: February 02, 2017
Genre: Magic realism, Urban fantasy, paranormal
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

amazon | b&n

White Rabbit Society pt2 by Brendan Detzner

An AMAZING follow-up, White Rabbit Society pt2 by Brendan Detzner takes readers on an emotional ride, culminating in an ending that satisfies. This honestly is one of the best follow-ups I have read in a while. It continues a great, original story, and keeps its characters true to themselves. White Rabbit Society, both parts 1 and 2, make me sad that there aren’t more books in this sort of gritty magic realism genre (UNLESS there are, and if so, please point me to them ALL).

Detzner is great at using his words concisely, which only serves to maximize the impact of the situation at hand. You are never bogged down by descriptions, nor do you find yourself lost in an amorphous world. Everything is tethered to and dependent on the characters, all of whom progress in arcs that feel natural and appropriate, both for the world and the characters themselves. Time passes between the first and second book and we see Andrew, and Josh, mature into young adults wildly different from one another. Yet, they both age as you’d expect them to. Andrew, independent, strong, loyal, conscientious. Josh, power hungry, loyal to a point, wild.

With quick and steady pacing, fantastic character development, and a world-ending plot, White Rabbit Society pt2 by Brendan Detzner is a great sequel and ending to an amazing story. Definitely pick up both halves and enjoy this gem!

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Bookcast | Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Movie

Welcome to the Roadside Reads Bookcast!

Be warned, there are spoilers and foul language!

Our last bookcast! No, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies hasn’t made us quit, but we are changing things up! We’re reformatting the bookcast so that every month there will be two episodes of the book club discussions (at 50% and 100% completion) which will liven discussions, and in between those two episodes, we’ll have a podcast chosen at random. Could be gaming, could be movies, could be social commentary, who knows what’ll be randomly selected!

So why did I say last bookcast? Because the Roadside Reads Bookcast will now be the Pages and Pause Screen Podcast! Since we’ll be including things other than books, it felt only fair to give it its own space and name. The podcast and everything related to all things geek will be up on our new sister site, PagesandPauseScreen.com, so be sure to bookmark the new website!

And now, onto the discussion on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the Movie! It gets pretty harsh (the discussion), but one great thing came out of it, The Rock as Mr. Darcy!

Next book, on the new website, will be A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas! Podcast will be up on March 22nd and we’ll be discussing the first 50% (up to Chapter 23, not including 23).

  • Intro tune is Bit Quest Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Bookcast | Pride and Prejudice and Zombies pt3

Welcome to the Roadside Reads Bookcast!

Be warned, there are spoilers and foul language!

Things really picked up during the last half of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies! Unfortunately, it’s still a mess. ((Sorry for the late upload! Things have been rough lately in the personal life.))

  • Intro tune is Bit Quest Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Bookcast | Pride and Prejudice and Zombies pt2

Welcome to the Roadside Reads Bookcast!

Be warned, there are spoilers and foul language!

Well, we thought it couldn’t get worse last week, but boy did we get proven wrong! Characters take a southward turn in the latest 25% of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Post-show is a bit of a cut and paste mess but we talk about how much fun the drunken movie podcast will be, more about the atrocities committed to Pride and Prejudice, as well as random chit chatting, so check that out on our patreon!

  • Intro tune is Bit Quest Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Next week, we’re finishing the book, huzzah! So finish this mess of a read with us and get prepped to hear what March’s book will be!

Wintersong by S Jae Jones

Wintersong by S Jae Jones

 Wintersong
by S Jae Jones

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.

Rated: ★★½
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Book
Publication: February 7, 2017
Genre: Fairytale, Retelling
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

amazon | b&n | book depo 

Wintersong by S Jae Jones

I can honestly say I don’t know how to feel about this, other than I feel strongly. Wintersong by S Jae Jones is beautiful, with grand, sweeping descriptions that envelope the reader in a faerie new world. But it is also not enough at times. There are characters you come to love and grieve for, and others you grow to tolerate. It definitely bears the marking of an author trying to strike the right balance between all of the different elements needed to make a story truly amazing.

Jumping off of Christina Rossetti’s AMAZING Goblin Market poem, Jae Jones sets the bar high for her debut novel, perhaps unfairly so as it sets the readers aspirations aloft. You get a feeling that there’s danger and villainy abound. Yet, it never really feels that way, which was fine by me as I loved the Goblin King we did receive. But it sets up the expectation that things will be visceral, guttural, almost an assault upon the senses, yet still controlled and melodic. Instead, the senses are dulled, most probably because this is meant for a YA audience, therefore the mature scenes are skipped over or kept to a minimum, which is truly a shame because Jae Jones excelled at the small snippets that were there.

Jae Jones also does melancholic longing amazingly well. The prologue, aka Overture, broke my heart and it was just the short tiny prologue. She immediately is able to convey the dynamic between Liesl and the Goblin King, as well as their entire history and everything that would ever be. If the prologue were made into a book, I’m pretty sure it would destroy me. Yet, we jump in at the tail end of a romance with a character that is almost unrecognizable from the prologue.

And that’s where my main problem lies. What knocks the book down from what would otherwise have been an easy 5 stars, to 3 and a half. Liesl is so unbearably plain and passionless that it’s hard to care for her. She seems to lack a personality outside of music, outside of what she can do for others. This isn’t something that is remedied, even by the end of the book. I understand different heroines for different readers, but she just didn’t do it for me. She was too meek, too unlike the girl from the Overture. I can understand that life and responsibilities may have dulled her spark, but even while beside the Goblin King, she never truly seems to recover.

The Goblin King, on the other hand, is an amazing character that shines in all regards. He is well rounded, as light and fun as he is broody and melancholic. Compassionate and giving as he is cruel. Handsome and loving, readers love him before they even know him, which makes his pairing beside Liesl so uncomfortable for me.

Now, the reason I am overwhelmed with emotion, though which emotion I know not? THAT ENDING! It was expected and unexpected at once and just really makes you realize things about life and love and I want to talk more about it but spoilers and 🙁

Wintersong by S Jae Jones is a tremendous debut novel that has some real strengths. Even with the stumbles, it leaves you feeling emotional and way too invested. With a bit more direction and time on character progression in the future, Jae Jones is well on her way to becoming a five-star author, whether she chooses to remain in YA or delve out.

Quotes & Excerpts

“Lonely, yes. But does the king serve the crown, or the crown serve the king?”
– The Ugly Truth

About the Author

S. Jae-Jones, called JJ, is an artist, an adrenaline junkie, and the author of Wintersong, forthcoming from Thomas Dunne in February 2017.
Born and raised in sunny Los Angeles, she lived in New York City for ten years before relocating down to Dixie, where she is comfortably growing fat on grits and barbecue. When not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, skydiving, taking photographs, drawing pictures, and dragging her dog on ridiculously long hikes.
Wishful Endings – Review 
Storybook Slayers – Review 
 
 
Literary Meanderings – Interview
 
 
The YA’s Nightstand – Guest Post 
YA Obsessed – Review
 
 
Ink of Blood – Review 
Roadside Reader – Review 
A Reading Nurse – Review 
 
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Bookcast | Pride and Prejudice and Zombies pt1

Welcome to the Roadside Reads Bookcast!

Be warned, there are spoilers and foul language!

Ahh, February! Month of Love and Friendship…. and ZOMBIES! We eat our hearts out literally this month with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and boy, it’s not looking good! Ally takes charge, Helga flips out, I am disappointed, and Tasha is simply done.

Things were grim enough that we had to cheer ourselves up in the post-show via buzzfeed quizzes! Fun times, so check that out on our patreon!

Next week, we’re reading up until Chapter 36, not including 36! So we’re ending right at Darcy’s letter to Elizabeth, so hopefully it gets good!

Gilded Cage by Vic James

Gilded Cage by Vic James

 Gilded Cage
by Vic James

Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.

Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

Rated: ★★★
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Publication: February 14, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopia
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

amazon | b&n | book depo 

Gilded Cage by Vic James

All I can say is I need the second book ASAP! Gilded Cage by Vic James is an impressive first look into a new, grim world that feels oddly familiar and appropriate given the current state of affairs in the world. Society is broken up into the haves and the have-nots, as those with special powers they were born with (and are acquired through inherited birth by a few it seems) are in control of Great Britain, while the plebs without power all must endure a ten year period of slavery.

Characters are intriguing, especially those that are Equal. There is so much intrigue and family politics that we just don’t know and it drives me crazy! Silyen, the youngest of the Parva-Jardine family is the one with the most Skill, yet, the aristocracy isn’t Skill/merit based. It’s still handed down to the first born. Which puts emotionally unstable Gavar as next in line to rule one of Britain’s founding Equal fathers. James does something incredibly interesting when it comes to Gavar. She sets up an initial prejudice for readers, automatically framing him as an antagonist. Yet, for the rest of the novel, we see more than just the monster James paints in the prologue. We see there is a struggle there; he is volatile, yes, but he is loving too. He is extreme, and yet it is the reserved Silyen who gives off an air of detachment to everyone and everything, that proves to be the extremist. He is the one with the long game, though no one knows what it is, including readers.

There is a sense of heavy worldbuilding here as Vic James mentions how different parts of the world are split up between Equals and commoners. America split in two, an obvious nod to the Civil War, but also the current heavy rift in society and culture. Britain itself remains aristocratic and parliamentary, but it has become more of a joke, as those with the most power tend to be the most in charge; physical displays of Skill taking command. We also get a heavy sense of history behind everything, giving the world a gravity that draws you in.

I could talk about Gilded Cage by Vic James for hours. There are so many layers masterfully intertwined in a book that still remains firmly YA. Strong characters and solid worldbuilding make the political themes of the book flourish, giving readers a desire to make changes in their own world after seeing the inconsistencies and cruelties that are allowed to exist to the benefit of the empowered few.