Book Review: The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

About the Book:

New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with a sumptuous, sultry and romantic new series set in 19th century New Orleans where vampires hide in plain sight.

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as Le Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sèbastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of Le Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sèbastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.

My Thoughts:

The Beautiful has to be one of the most talked about books! I was quite intrigued by the book cover and premise that I had to pick it up! It is a dark and sultry romance with murder, mystery and thrills all thrown into the mix!

At first, it took some time to get into the book and understand the context and setting. We are introduced to Celine, our main protagonist, a very strong-willed woman who keeps her own council and is not afraid to speak up. At first we see her struggling to conform to the rules of the convent where she has been taken in in New Orleans, having fled from Paris. However, she catches the eye of first Odette and then Sèbastien Saint Germain, all part of a group simply known as Le Cour des Lions. Little does she know that she has stepped into a completely different world, shrouded in darkness and surrounded by the dead, quite literally!

A very well written tale, the setting of New Orleans is very well described, especially the streets and nightlife. The characters are intriguing and well developed. At times, I must admit to getting a little annoyed with Celine, but it was not enough to pull me away from the book. As we are introduced to the creatures of the underworld and Celine starts to discover the existence of the paranormal, a series of murders leads to questions of motive and who the real target is. Not to be left out, Celine tries to conduct her own investigation having the feeling that she is indeed a target.

The developing romance between Celine and Sèbastien is both natural and forbidden and is interesting to see develop. The courtship (a suitable word for the time in which the story is set) is not without it’s problems and when murder and mayhem are thrown into the mix, we have all the ingredients for an entertaining story! The story is a roller-coaster of a ride as we navigate the sub-plots and various supporting characters who add such flavor to the story!

Though there were some ups and downs with the story, it is definitely worth the read!

Book Review: Thorne Bay (An Alaskan Packs Novel Book 1) by Jeanine Croft

I downloaded a free auto approved copy of this book via NetGalley.

I picked it up based on the synopsis which seemed quite interesting. Read on to know my thoughts.

About the Book:

Thorne Bay (An Alaskan Packs Novel Book 1)

Disillusioned and aimless, Evan Spencer makes a pact with herself. To follow wherever the finger of destiny points. Even if that means heading to some obscure Alaskan town she’s never heard of. A place where the primal beauty of the backwoods is rivaled only by a certain pair of steely green eyes.

But Thorne Bay has a dark side. It’s not just rumors and wary gazes that shadow the darkly alluring Tristan and his reclusive family. Her search for self, as it turns out, leads to a discovery of werewolves and a fight for survival. Alaska might just leave an indelible mark. Love and Death will leave her changed forever.

My Thoughts:

The story follows Evan Spencer as she makes a drastic move to try to follow her destiny and find her place in the world. She moves away from her family to Alaska in the hopes of finding herself and her independence. On the way we meet Tristan who is extremely good-looking, but shrouded in mystery along with his family. Not bothered by rumors, or perhaps eager to discover the truth by herself, Evan forges a friendship with Tristan that seems to be more than that. As their bond develops, we meet some of the people Evan works with and some of the people from Tristan’s family.

The author maintains a level of intrigue around Tristan and drops enough hints without directly giving way to the idea of werewolves. Though the main characters are well developed, some of the supporting characters like Nicole and Dean are just touched upon. It would have been nice to have some more background on them, some insights into their lives before Evan turned up in Alaska and this entire plot line was set in motion. Some horrors of the werewolf world and the laws that govern their existence are brought in and this adds context, but could have been addressed in-depth to add to the storyline.

Some parts of the story are quite normal and expected and the love story that develops between our two main characters is wonderful to read about. I enjoyed the way the author approached the supernatural and the punny banter between Evan and Tristan.

Overall however, I would say that this is definitely an enjoyable and worthwhile read!

Book Review: Midnight Sun (The Twilight Saga #5) by Stephenie Meyer

About the Book:

Midnight Sun (Twilight, #5)

It’s here! Number one bestselling author Stephenie Meyer makes a triumphant return to the world of Twilight with this highly-anticipated companion; the iconic love story of Bella and Edward told from the vampire’s point of view.

When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella’s side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward’s version in the long-awaited companion novel, Midnight Sun.

This unforgettable tale as told through Edward’s eyes takes on a new and decidedly dark twist. Meeting Bella is both the most unnerving and intriguing event he has experienced in all his years as a vampire. As we learn more fascinating details about Edward’s past and the complexity of his inner thoughts, we understand why this is the defining struggle of his life. How can he justify following his heart if it means leading Bella into danger?

In Midnight Sun, Stephenie Meyer transports us back to a world that has captivated millions of readers and brings us an epic novel about the profound pleasures and devastating consequences of immortal love.

My Thoughts:

The much awaited Midnight Sun is here! Being a fan of the Twilight book series, I was quite interested in reading this book. The chance to get a glimpse into Edward’s complex mind and learn about his background and life was too good to pass up.

The book was a pleasant surprise. It sticks to the same story line as Twilight, but we get a complete view of the events that happened prior to Bella arriving in Forks, as well as those that happened after. Edward’s story and his thoughts are intriguing, considering that he thinks of so many things at a time. However, at times, his thoughts get repetitive and this gets a little bit annoying. A lot of the story is written in the style of an internal monologue with dialogue’s thrown in where necessary.

Even though we know the story, the different view point adds a lot of value to the original one, giving us insights into what happened in the background and how the characters ended up where they are. We come to know how the Cullen family found each other and their ideas, emotions, thoughts from Edward’s point of view, as he effortlessly uses his gift. As always, Stephanie Meyer brings to us a well-written novel and takes us back to interact with our favorite characters.

Overall, this story is a good read for fans of the series. Those who have not read the series, you can read this as a standalone, but it would be better to read Twilight first.