Beast by A. Zavarelli

33787861Rating: 4.5 stars

Series: Twisted Ever After #1

***FYI: Over at my other blog, my friend did a Q&A with A. Zavarelli. Check it out.***
Darkest Beauty and the Beast retelling ever!

This book is not for everyone. It is very dark and incredibly fucked up.

Tortured as a child, Javi grew into a deranged adult. Hatred blossomed deep in his heart for the man that made him the way he was, and that man happened to be Bella’s father. Javi decided that the best way to exact revenge on him was through his daughter. Bella knew her father’s line of work was dangerous, but she had no idea what kind of man he really was. One thing is for certain about this book: it is no fairy tale.

Bella was sweet, innocent, and sensitive. Javi turned her world upside down. The things he did were cruel and demented. He used her in every way possible, using every trick in the book to play mind games with her. There was one scene in particular where she gave up hope. It was gut wrenching. I’m not sure if the outcome made it better or worse because of the cruelty of it, making her feel fear and desperation on a level she never had before.

It was impossible to hate Javi. His erratic behavior made him hard to read and predict. There were moments where the untainted side of him showed through. Unlike other beasts it was much harder to find his good side, to see the man beneath the scars.

I almost cried two times near the end of the book. Those two events were devastating. It was one of those things where I was reading and wanted to change the words on the page because I did not want to face the reality of what was happening. It was like being on a roller coaster ride of emotions, but it was worth it in the end.

I received this arc from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Menagerie by Rachel Vincent

18350798Rating: 4 stars

Series: Menagerie #1

The world was similar to our own except cryptids (mermaids, minotaurs, oracles, werewolves, mermaids, etc.) existed and people were aware of them. Everyone got along until 1986 when a massive number of children were killed in their sleep in one night by a specific kind of cryptid that people thought was human. Acceptance of cryptids suddenly turned to hate. Then they were either killed or captured.

Delilah lived a normal life. While visiting a menagerie which is a circus of cryptids, Delilah encountered a man mistreating one of the cryptids. As her anger rose, she turned into an unknown type of cryptid. Her life as she knew it was over in an instant. All of her rights were stripped away since she was no longer human. People she had known all her life abandoned her and acted as if she were a threat to them.

Menagerie is very dark. It was hard to get through at times. At the heart of it this is about hatred and the innocent ones who suffer as a result. Often those who hate and demean others are truly the ones worthy of being hated because they are vile, selfish people. What Delilah experienced was horrible, and her experience in the menagerie was far more pleasant than it was for the others. Most of the handlers were sadistic and cruel.

“[T]he only true difference between the hybrids and most of their handlers was that the handlers hid their beasts on the inside.”

Gallagher was different than the other handlers, but I spent most of the book wondering if he was trustworthy or not. There were many other characters. Occasionally some of them would get a brief chapter from their POV, and it helped to get a better understanding of what it was like for various people in the menagerie. The cryptids have a rough road ahead of them; it will be no easy feat to attain freedom legally.

Wake to Dream by Lily White

wake-to-dream-2Rating: 3 stars

Alice was in therapy for her disturbing dreams. Aside from those she was too lost in her own head to know what was going on in her life. It was obvious that the dreams were sprinkled with truth, and her amnesia and mental issues were preventing her from seeing the truth. It wasn’t easy to figure out exactly what was going on. Once I thought I had things figured out, it would get twisted into something different.

It was suspenseful. I didn’t want to put it down because I wanted to know what was going on. Although the book was dark and had several elements that would be triggers for people, it didn’t have the same impact as these elements have in other novels. Bad things don’t seem as drastic when the MC is delusional, and half or more of what is going on isn’t really happening although it does take a while to know what is really happening and what isn’t.

The book was good, but I was waiting for a mind blowing moment that never came. There was a big twist half way through and another at the end. They weren’t predictable but weren’t particularly shocking either.

I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Silent Sounds of Chaos by Kristina Circelli

81059acb3f96e65905ebd27c9dfed65dRating: 3.5 stars

Finn and Snow could speak to each other telepathically. Both of them went through hard times in their lives, and telepathy allowed them to connect in a way no one else could. They were an unlikely pair of friends considering they lead very different lives.

Their friendship worked. It was much easier to understand their connection since the story alternated between both of their POV. They were both lonely and depended on each other. Finn’s life was much more difficult since he was severely neglected as a child. One day Snow was kidnapped. Finn was the only one with any hope of finding her. Tracking her down wasn’t easy since he had no idea where she had lived.

The ending was completely unexpected. There weren’t any clues I can think of that would have lead me to think it would end the way it did. Although the ending was surprising somehow it fell flat. I hadn’t really expected such a solid explanation for everything. It twisted the whole story into something different. I didn’t completely love the ending, but it was definitely worth reading. The writing was great, and I would definitely read something else by this author.

I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Alice by Christina Henry

51r8cqtafyl-_sx330_bo1204203200_Rating: 5 stars

Series: The Chronicles of Alice #1

I never read Alice in Wonderland. I never particularly liked any of the movies either. For some reason I really wanted to read this, and I’m so glad I did. It was dark, disturbing, and gory. I loved it!

In this story, there is no Wonderland. Alice grew up in the New City where she was safe and protected. One day she went to the Old City where danger lurked around every corner. It was a hellish place particularly for women. The people who ran it were evil. Women were used in the most horrible ways. Things did not work out well for Alice in the Old City.

“Two weeks later came Alice, covered in blood, babbling about tea and a rabbit, wearing a dress that wasn’t hers. Red running down the insides of her legs and blue marks on her thighs where fingers had been.”

Memory loss and emotional trauma landed Alice in a mental institution. A relationship was developed with Hatcher, the guy in the room next to hers. A small hole in the wall made it possible for them to speak to each other. Hatcher had plenty of his own issues. He loved bloodshed and was far more insane than Alice. Despite everything Alice trusted him.

One day the opportunity arose for them to escape. They weren’t free or safe on the outside. There was no one to trust but each other. They were thrust into a world of magic where powerful people did whatever they wanted. Surviving meant being brutal.

I loved Hatcher although I’m not quite sure why. He was disturbed and unstable. Killing made him happy, and he had no qualms about doing it. Normally I wouldn’t ship a sociopath, but his love for Alice was endearing although completely unconventional.

“I won’t let anything happen to you, Alice. I will kill you before I let the Walrus or anyone else take you away from me.”

Sounds weird but that was a touching scene. The place they were in was so screwed up you wouldn’t want to live if you couldn’t be protected. Death was a far better fate than being at the mercy of those in charge.

Alice and Hatcher were different yet similar. They both had the will to live and were brutal when necessary, but Alice was able to empathize with other people in a way Hunter couldn’t. They were a good balance for each other. She grew emotionally and strengthened her abilities greatly by the end of the book.

The amount of bloodshed was astonishing. So much blood and gore. They were covered in blood for half of the book. I don’t remember the last time I read a book where so many people were killed. What was worse than the murders was the torture and rape many women were subjected to. None of it was described in extensive detail, but enough was known to be deeply disturbed by what was happening.

I loved the writing. The descriptions created interesting, creepy visuals in my head. Not everything was wrapped up in this book. Their journey isn’t over yet. I think there will be more in store for emotional and relationship growth with Alice and Hatcher. I can’t wait to read the next one!

Scryer by Sinden West

25361744Rating: 3.5 stars

Series: Scryer #1

Ivy was a scryer, which meant she could tell people’s futures from touching them. Being close to people was complicated. Isolation was the easiest way for her to deal with her situation. Even when she did find one of the rare people whose futures she couldn’t tell, she didn’t want an emotional connection with them. Her family had a special connection with the Corin family. An old pact between the two families required scryers to spend one night a month with a member of the Corin family. Only they had the ability to force scryers to tell them what they wanted to know about the future after having sex.

Ivy was not happy about her fate. She was bitter and cold as a result. Her misery made her hard to like. Yet I did sympathize with her. She was in a difficult situation was was dealing with it the best she could.

There was a love triangle of sorts, but it wasn’t angsty and aggravating. Ivy had some interest in two men. Lake was her ex who has spurned her, but she couldn’t entirely let go of her feelings for him. The other guy was Caleb, who she mainly enjoyed using for sex. Both men were assholes. Nothing about her situation with the two guys was romantic or sweet. She didn’t let them walk all over her either. There was an unconventional HEA, but it wasn’t really about love.

The scryers were alarmed because someone was killing them. I had been surprised to discover who was behind it. Almost every character in this story was bad or just downright evil, which made it harder to figure out who was killing people. Towards the end the story took a turn in a direction I hadn’t expected. Although the ending wasn’t really pleasant, it worked for this story. A happy, perfect HEA would have been lame.