Thursday, October 1, 2015

Another Review Round Up ~ The Dead House and Princess of Thorns

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Series: standalone
Genre: YA horror/thriller
Publication Date: September 15th, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Goodreads Description: 
Three students: dead.
Carly Johnson: vanished without a trace. 

Two decades have passed since an inferno swept through Elmbridge High, claiming the lives of three teenagers and causing one student, Carly Johnson, to disappear. The main suspect: Kaitlyn, "the girl of nowhere."

Kaitlyn's diary, discovered in the ruins of Elmbridge High, reveals the thoughts of a disturbed mind. Its charred pages tell a sinister version of events that took place that tragic night, and the girl of nowhere is caught in the center of it all. But many claim Kaitlyn doesn't exist, and in a way, she doesn't - because she is the alter ego of Carly Johnson.

Carly gets the day. Kaitlyn has the night. It's during the night that a mystery surrounding the Dead House unravels and a dark, twisted magic ruins the lives of each student that dares touch it.

Debut author Dawn Kurtagich masterfully weaves together a thrilling and terrifying story using psychiatric reports, witness testimonials, video footage, and the discovered diary - and as the mystery grows, the horrifying truth about what happened that night unfolds.
I LOVE YA horror! I thought this one sounded pretty interesting. And . . . the fact that the main character's name is Kaitlyn helped.

Source: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Dead House was a very interesting book, mainly because of Kaitlyn and the way her story was told. The diary entries let us into her headspace/state of mind, which were fascinating. And very weird. As she tried to cope with things happening to life, things got more and more chaotic. Out of control. Dangerous. Confusing. The formatting definitely helped make the story more impactful. It definitely helped me connect more with Kaitlyn, too, and feel for her. For me, this was a story about holding onto other parts of yourself, and Kaitlyn held onto Carly so tightly--too tightly. The fact that she did made the book more sad than scary for me. 

The horror and paranormal elements were cool and added mystery to the book--did those things REALLY happen?--but it read more like a thriller to me. There was escalation to the events. Things started out . . . calm, compared to later events. Kaitlyn became more panicked and more desperate as the pages went by. Supernatural elements were added. Secrets were revealed. However, it just . . . wasn't that scary to me. There were definitely some freaky moments, but the books as a whole wasn't as creepy as I thought it would be. 

Overall, I really liked reading The Dead House! Even though it wasn't as quite as scary as I expected, I was happy with how fascinating the main character's story was.

(Note: I don't get scared easily by books, so this one may actually be much scarier to other readers. It just depends on what you find to be scary.)

2015 challenges this book counts towards:
2015 Debut Author Challenge

Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

Series: standalone
Genre: YA fantasy
Publication Date: December 9th, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Goodreads Description: 
Game of Thrones meets the Grimm's fairy tales in this twisted, fast-paced romantic fantasy-adventure about Sleeping Beauty's daughter, a warrior princess who must fight to reclaim her throne.

Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora's throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it's too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love? 
Initially, I was interested because of the Sleeping Beauty connection. But I finally read it because Holly @ The Fox's Hideaway told me to.

Source: I purchased a copy. 

Princess of Thorns was okay. The romance made it a worthwhile read, but I wasn't a fan of very much besides that.

The romance was sweet and fun, and grew out of a friendship. Aurora and Niklaas were two insufferably stubborn characters, which only made them so much more entertaining. There was BANTER, which, if you can't tell from the all caps, I absolutely LOVE. Their chemistry was really nice, which made their banter even better, which just made the romance better.

As for the rest of the book . . . there were so many things that I just didn't get: Aurora's curse, the ogre queen, the magic, Janin (her role/identity), the history, the conflict, the Sleeping Beauty connection, fairy blessings. It just seemed like things weren't explained or developed enough. And with so many parts of the book that didn't make much sense to me, it was hard to really get into what was going on (well, besides Aurora and Niklaas' interactions).

Overall, Princess of Thorns had a great romance, but that was the only great thing about it for me. I probably would've liked the other elements better if I got most of what was going on because the ideas were nice. It was the execution (and my reaction to it) that fell short.

2015 challenges this book counts towards:
105 Challenge
Flights of Fantasy
2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

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