Review: RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

A. G. Howard brings the romantic storytelling that Splintered fans adore to France—and an entirely new world filled with lavish romance and intrigue—in a retelling inspired by a story that has captivated generations. Fans of both the Phantom of the Opera musical and novel, as well as YA retellings such as Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, will devour RoseBlood.

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

RoseBlood will be available January 10, 2017

What I Liked

-I enjoy re-tellings and while this was a little more of a spin-off than a re-telling, it still worked for me. I’ve always been a Phantom of the Opera fan (well, except maybe when I was pretty young and my family used to listen to the soundtrack on road trips and it kind of scared the crap out of me at the time…but I definitely grew into it) and it’s definitely a unique topic in the YA market.

-The duel narration completely saved this book for me. We get Rune’s 1st Person POV and Thorn’s 3rd Person POV (I’m not really sure why they didn’t both get 1st Person, but that’s ok). While with Rune we were often stumbling around in the dark trying to figure out what was going on, with Thorn we get background and answers and insight. With him we get to see the actual Phantom of the Opera that I had been hoping for when I picked up this book. As a character I found him so much more interesting than Rune and I was always counting the pages until we got to see him again.

-The romance. Though it appears to be “insta-love”, it does have a good excuse for it. I liked Rune and Thorn together and shipped them.

-That cover. It’s beautiful.

-The Author Note at the end of the book where Howard details a lot of information from her research was almost more interesting than the book. A lot of the historical information in the book was accurate and it made me want to read more about the original book and it’s inspiration.

What Didn’t Quite Work For Me

**MILD SPOILER**   Two words: Psychic Vampires

-Ok, a few more words: This was a lot more supernatural than I was expecting it to be. While it, of course, needed a certain amount of fantasy elements there were a lot more than I expected or wanted. If you go into this knowing that, though, then I think you would probably like it.

-I spent a good portion of this novel confused. I think it took far too long to get to the point. Howard is an extremely detailed writer and I know a lot of readers love that, but for me a ton of description is hard for me to get through. Add that to the long chapter length and I found this book took me a lot longer to get through than a book normally does.

-Rune’s new “friend” Sunny. I HATED her. She did occasionally have redeeming moments, but she spent the whole book sneaking around and spying and crossing all sorts of friendship lines that I found myself kind of hoping she’d be killed off. The fact that Rune viewed her as this great friend kind of enraged me.

Overall

RoseBlood was a very interesting idea that didn’t quite live up to it’s potential for me. Two likable main characters (especially Thorn) and lots of references to the original Phantom of the Opera story were really well done. However, the major fantasy/supernatural elements were unexpected and hampered my enjoyment a bit. I also thought it was a little too long and too descriptive. I do think that fans of Howard’s Splintered series and those who are looking for a different type of re-telling will enjoy it.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

3 stars

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: October 2016

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. I thought I’d start doing a post once a month  with just the couple thoughts I shared on Good Reads.

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The Power (Titan #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Read October 2-6. 2.5 Stars.

Sigh. I really wanted to enjoy this, but it was just so average. Recycled plot, recycled characters. I’ve always been a big fan of JLA, but I don’t think there was one thing in this book I haven’t already read in one of her (many) other books. I’m not giving up on her books, but the last few I’ve read from her I have been really disappointed in.

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Truly, Madly, Famously (Famous in Love #2) by Rebecca Serle. Read October 7-8. 2 Stars.

Well. I did not like this one nearly as much as the first one. I liked Paige in the first book, but she was super annoying the whole time in this one. Cheating in books always makes me angry, too. Paige and Rainer were officially together in this one so all her pining over Jordan was just not ok anymore. I didn’t like the additional characters that were introduced. The one lesson Paige learned that I did appreciate was that she finally realized she was just 18 and choosing between the two guys was not choosing the rest of her life.

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Rock Falls, Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar. Read October 8-9. 3 Stars.

I think this book had a lot of potential that it never fully lived up to. The characters, other than Aspen, were not that well developed and were easily removed from the story when their usefulness to Aspen’s development was over. I was expecting a lot more from the ending and was a little disappointed with how open-ended it was. The main thing that kept me reading this books was Aspen. When the main character is unlikable I need to LIKE not liking him and Ribar did a good job making me feel that. He was kind of an awful person and he was fine with it and I kind of enjoyed that about him. But as the story went on he started to feel bad about it and want to try to be better and I enjoyed that, too.

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RoseBlood by A.G. Howard. Read October 10-15. 3 Stars.

RoseBlood was a very interesting idea that didn’t quite live up to it’s potential for me. Two likable main characters (especially Thorn) and lots of references to the original Phantom of the Opera story were really well done. However, the major fantasy/supernatural elements were unexpected and hampered my enjoyment a bit. I also thought it was a little too long and too descriptive. I do think that fans of Howard’s Splintered series and those who are looking for a different type of re-telling will enjoy it. Full review to come closer to release date.

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The Thousandth Floor (The Thousandth Floor #1) by Katharine McGee. Read October 15-18. 3 Stars.

3 Stars because I’m feeling generous. I think the comparison to Gossip Girl is pretty accurate. I never read the books, but I’ve seen the show and I could totally see these characters and this world as a tv show like that. I liked the futuristic stuff. I thought there were too many perspectives, though. I only really liked Watt and I don’t think he got as many chapters as the others. I was kind of interested in Avery’s plotline because of how morally gray (like dark, dark gray) it was. I really didn’t care at all about the other 3 POVS. And the person I wanted to die, didn’t. The pace is really slow, but I think if you end up liking the characters more than I did that you wouldn’t mind it.

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The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen. Read October 18-21. 3 Stars.

I liked Sophie and Stephen (and especially Stephen’s dry sense of humor in the first several chapters, though sadly it seemed to disappear as the book went on), but I disliked almost all the supporting characters. I thought all the “mysteries” were pretty obvious from early on and it took too long to reveal things. As in most Klassen novels, though, I enjoyed the romance and the subtle Christian themes. I wasn’t sure if I would be satisfied with either possible resolution given the circumstances, but I found I was really happy with how it all worked out.

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Dead Girls Society by Michelle Krys. Read October 23. 3 Stars.

Overall, Dead Girls Society was a quick, enjoyable read. Though I thought it took a little long for the dare game to really live up to it’s potential, it did eventually get there. Hope, the likable main character, made me want to keep reading, even when the story was dragging a little and I liked how her disability was handled. I would recommend this to YA lovers who enjoy mild mystery and suspense. Full Review to come closer to release date.

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To Love and to Cherish (The Wedding Belles #3) by Lauren Layne. Read October 23-25. 3.5 Stars.

It took me just a little bit to get into this. It’s probably because I haven’t read the other books in the series, but I didn’t really feel like Alexis and Logan were really friends. She constantly referred to him as her accountant and though it was said that he was a lot more to her than that, we don’t really get to see their friendship in the beginning. It starts out with him wanting to be more than friends and she keeps shutting him down. However, once they got to Florida I really started to enjoy it. Alexis was still really wary, but they actually communicated and they were so cute together. I ended up really liking the romance and how it all turned out. I’m definitely going to go back and read the rest of the series.

Thanks again to Deanna (A Novel Glimpse) for giving me her extra copy!!! Book blogger friends are the best.

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Wrong Brother, Right Match (Anyone But You #3) by Jennifer Shirk. Read October 25-27. 4 Stars.

Overall, I really enjoyed Wrong Brother, Right Match. I liked the sweet romance and the Christmas setting. It reminded me so much of watching a Hallmark Christmas movie, which I love. I definitely recommend to those looking for a romantic holiday themed read. Full review to come closer to release date.

****************BACK ON THE TBR****************

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Loner by Teddy Wayne, Swarm by Scott Westerfeld & etc., The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson, Dating an Alien Popstar by Kendra L. Saunders. These are all books I’ve had on my TBR for awhile, but they’re just not interesting me at the moment and if I stay on track with NaNoWriMo then I won’t really have the time for them (and the first 3 are library books that will expire before I get to them). I didn’t even start Loner or Swarm, but I’m feeling book slumpy and neither sounded like something that would bring me out of it. I started The Unexpected Everything (my first Matson book) and didn’t even make it through the first chapter before I decided I wasn’t in the mood for it. Dating an Alien Popstar is a complete random pick that I saw quite awhile ago because I thought it looked kind of funny and I noticed the other day that it was free a Nook book at Barnes and Noble so I downloaded it and read the first chapter and I’m not quite sure if I’ll ever pick it back up, unfortunately. But it could get better?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Fall TBR List

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish, is: Books On My Fall TBR List.

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1. Yes, it’s on every list today, but I’m so excited for Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo! It’s out today, but I’m waiting until tomorrow to buy it when I go to a book signing!!

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2. Roseblood by A.G. Howard. I’ve had this on my TBR forever and I got approved for an ARC of it yesterday and I’m so excited! It’s a Phantom and the Opera re-telling and I don’t think I’ve ever read one of those before.

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3. Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle. This is going to be the show that will fill the Pretty Little Liars void this spring on Freeform, so I thought I’d read it before then to see if I want to watch the show.

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4. The Kept Woman (Will Trent #8) by Karin Slaughter. I have been waiting for a new Will Trent book for-ev-er! And I have to wait a little while longer until my library hold comes in.

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5. The Power (Titan #2) by Jennifer Armentrout. This book has FINALLY came to the library so hopefully my hold will come in soon.

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6. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. This book is getting amazing reviews.

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7. The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer. No, I do not expect this to be great, but I’m really excited to read it.

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8. Twisted Palace (The Royals #3) by Erin Watt. This series is the definition of Guilty Pleasure Read.

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9. Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham. I love Lauren Graham (and Gilmore Girls).

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10. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. Every friend I have on Good Reads that’s read this adores it. Yet another library wait list I’m crossing my fingers will come in soon.

WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO READING THIS FALL?

Reviewing the Unreviewed: July 2016

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. I thought I’d start doing a post once a month  with just the couple thoughts I shared on Good Reads.

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Zero Day by Jan Gangsei. Read June 28-July 1. 2 stars.

This book was full of interesting ideas that were never really fully developed. It left a lot of loose ends open – so much so I thought it was series, but according to the author it’s a standalone “with potential for more.” Which honestly just makes the lame cliffhanger even more frustrating. I think the book would have been better if it focused on less perspectives and cut out a couple of the extraneous storylines and just really focused in on Addie and Cerberus.

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Paper Princess (The Royals #1) by Erin Watt. Read July 1. 3 Stars.

Um, this is supposed to be YA? It definitely reads way more adult, even though the main characters are in high school. I’ve been seeing such great reviews for this book that I finally decided I had to read it, even though I knew it wasn’t the type of book I usually go for. And it’s definitely not the kind of book I generally like, but once I started it, I couldn’t stop. It was a very quick, easy read with interesting, if often clichéd, characters. I hated them half the time and rooted for them the other half. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this to YA readers, even though it’s supposed to be YA, but I think usual Romance readers will like it.

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This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills. Read July 4. 4.5 Stars

I loved this book so hard! I read it basically in one sitting. The characters, the family, the friendships, the humor, the emotion. This book just made my heart happy. I think Emma Mills has made her way onto my auto-buy list. Full review to come closer to release date.

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The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Read July 2-4. 3 stars.

I think this book tried too hard to teach me something and in doing so came off a little cheesy. I liked the main characters and I liked the romance enough – even though there was an “Anna and the French Kiss” inspired love triangle that took WAY too long to be resolved. In some ways I could really identify with Mallory, but there was just something missing where I didn’t feel at all connected with her. There were definitely some sad moments, but I didn’t feel that much about them either. Not a bad book, but kind of a disappointment, given my love for JLA.

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Among the Wicked (Kate Burkholder #8) by Linda Castillo. Read July 12-16. 4 Stars.

This is the eighth book in the Kate Burkholder series and I think it’s my new favorite. I really liked the story – the undercover aspect and how genuinely creepy some of the characters were. There was a surprise towards the end that I definitely didn’t see coming. I was a little concerned about Kate being in a different state and not having the usual cast of characters around, especially Tomasetti, but it worked. And while I am always wanting more Tomasetti, he still had a presence in the book. I wish there was just a bit more interaction with Bishop Schrock since he was such an interesting, creepy character. Overall, though, a very good read.

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Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein. Read July 17. 3.5 stars.

There was a great deal of cuteness in this book, but there were several things that kind of annoyed me, too. Lately I seem to be reading a lot of books where the main characters hide behind sarcasm and a generally bad attitude to avoid having feelings about things. And while I completely and totally relate to that, it’s made me start to wonder how annoying other people must find me. I mean, about 99% of the drama June goes through in this book is manufactured by herself. I felt like a lot of it could have been avoided. But, overall, while I did have some issues with this book, it did have so many cute moments. I loved, loved Oliver and I really liked June’s friendship/relationship with him (when she wasn’t screwing everything up). A cute, fast read that I think a lot of YA lovers will enjoy.

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Best of My Love (Fool’s Gold #20) by Susan Mallery. Read July 16-17. 3.5 Stars.

I was a little iffy about this in the beginning. The premise that you need to set up some “experiment” to be friends with a member of the opposite sex was kind of silly to me. I also thought setting up a time limit for that friendship was odd. But once I got past that, I did really end up liking the relationship between Aiden and Shelby. I wish there would have been a little more Just Friends time before they started to fall for each other, though. However, I did really like that they became such good friends and I shipped them hard. The message of opening yourself up to love got a little heavy handed towards the end and a part of me wish they would have only been just friends. It kind of took away from the point that men and women can be just friends by having them fall in love. But, I guess you can’t really expect anything else to happen in this type of book. And I did really like their relationship. Overall, it was a cute, quick read that fans of romance and the Friends to Lovers trope would enjoy.

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Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1) by Cassandra Clare, Read July 18-22. 3 Stars.

This book was ridiculously too long. It could have been a couple hundred pages shorter and if it was I think it would’ve been much better. It was still a solid 3-star book, but I do have to admit I got bored for long stretches of it.

I liked pretty much all the characters. I liked that one of them is on the Spectrum and how he was written. I was a big fan of the romance, but found the ending regarding it completely annoying (though not as annoying as supposed incest like in some of other Clare’s books…). Julian was my favorite. It was often repeated that he kept a lot of secrets, but I thought they were completely obvious. When he pulls Mark and Emma aside to tell them about one of the secrets, I was expecting something really shocking, but what he told them was something I thought we already knew? And did Emma really not figure it out before that?

While the book was almost completely predictable, I was surprised by who the Guardian was, so that was a good twist, even though it made me sad. I think the rabid Clare fans will really enjoy this book and the cameos from characters from the other series. For me, it was kind of average, but I’ll still plan on reading the next book in the series.

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Splintered (Splintered #1) by A.G. Howard. Read July 23-24. 3 Stars.

I’ve had this on my TBR shelf forever (mostly because I adore the covers for the books in this series) and when nothing else was keeping my attention, I decided it was finally time to try it. I think I *wanted* to like it a little more than I actually liked it. I liked the premise and for the most part I liked Alyssa. I liked Jeb to an extent, but his super-protectiveness often veered into controlling, which is not cool. Morpheus had SO MUCH potential to be this really awesome character, but he fell a little flat for me. Though there were several chapters I kind of skimmed, I did overall like the book enough to continue the series.

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The Moth in the Mirror (Splintered #1.5) by A.G. Howard. Read July 24. 3 Stars.

I liked the idea of getting to see some of Jeb’s POV from the first book, while getting new scenes with Morpheus. Unfortunately, most of Jeb’s scenes were him finding things out we already knew, with little insight into anything else. I did like the scenes with Morpheus, though. I have high hopes that he’ll live up to his potential in the next book.

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Unhinged (Splintered #2) by A.G. Howard. Read July 24-26. 3 Stars.

There was a bunch of nothing happening for most of the book and it would have benefited from being shorter. However, there were some good things that happened, too. I liked Morpheus a lot more in this installment, though I still don’t LOVE him yet (but I’m definitely not Team Jeb, either). I’m glad that we got to find out more about his and Ally’s mom’s past. I liked where things ended and am looking forward to the next book.

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Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty. Read July 26-29. 3 Stars.

Once again Moriarty writes some amazingly well-developed characters. While they weren’t always likeable (in fact they were almost all unlikable a good deal of the time), they did really start to feel like people I knew and cared about. Poor, sweet Oliver was my favorite.

While the character development was spot on, the story, unfortunately, underwhelmed me. It took over half way through the book to find out what the big incident at the barbecue was and it wasn’t as shocking as I thought it was going to be. I felt myself just wanting to kind of get through it, instead of enjoying it or being entertained by it. So while it definitely wasn’t my favorite Moriarty book, I think fans of really character-driven stories would enjoy it.

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BACK ON THE TBR

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Blitzing Emily (Love and Football #1) by Julie Brannagh. I got a copy of this for free awhile ago and we all know how much I love fake relationship stories. But this one just wasn’t keeping my interest. I do plan on trying it again sometime, though.

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And I Darken by Kiersten White. I was really looking forward to his book since I love some of White’s other books, but it just didn’t really keep my attention. I’m not sure it’s my type of book, to be honest. However, it might have just been my mood and I will definitely try it again someday.

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DNF

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Lady Renegades (Rebel Belle #3) by Rachel Hawkins. I just could not get into this book. After reading some reviews I decided it didn’t look like it was going to be something that would suddenly catch my interest. I ended up skipping ahead and reading the last couple chapters and I’m glad with my decision to not continue reading.

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Smash & Grab by Amy Christine Parker. DNF at about 44%. Since I got this from NetGalley, I really wanted to finish it, but I just couldn’t take any more. The characters are completely unlikable, the plot is unbelievable. While Christian is slightly more likable than Lexi, his POV included basically caricatures of Mexican culture and was honestly a little offensive and uncomfortable to read sometimes. I think heist books need to have a certain level of Fun, but I was completely unentertained. I just felt sad for the characters.