Blogtober Book Review: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

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GoodReads Summary:
In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.
Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.
Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?
When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.
House of Salt and SorrowsReview:
A 12 Dancing Princess retelling? Say no more. I was beyond excited to read this book and I was lucky enough that my fellow Capricorn moon signs wanted to buddy read it for the Zodiacathon. It was the perfect read to start off the Spooky Season.
Let’s start off with the atmosphere. The setting was an island that worships the sea. That’s a place I could live in. It starts off with the fourth funeral of one of Annaleigh’s sisters. So, right from the start, it’s a little creepy and grim. It continues like that for the rest of the story. You can almost feel the atmosphere. Foggy and rainy, murder and mystery. It’s the perfect October read.
At first, I had trouble keeping the sisters straight. There’s so many of them, even the ones who died. Trying to remember who was who and who was dead or alive was confusing, but I did figure it out after about 100 pages. I really enjoyed our main character Annaleigh, but I feel like because there were so many sisters and other side characters, we really only got the chance to get to know a few of them. We got to know the stepmother, who I alternated between loving and hating several times. Fisher, who I also both loved and hated for different reasons. And a few of the sisters. I would have liked to go more than surface deep for the other characters. Cassius especially. Though I’m still obsessed with him, we didn’t really get to know him that well. We learn who his parents are, but not what he likes and doesn’t like and things like that. It was similar with a few other characters too.
The mystery was really great. I suspected almost every character except the sisters at one point or another. I really love books that keep me guessing and this one did. While I did predict (but then convince myself I was wrong) the identity of the big bad, there was so much more to the mystery than I could ever have predicted. I loved that the mystery was so much more than I anticipated.
Overall, I completely loved this book. I am excited to see what else Erin Craig comes out with. I loved the main character and Cassius. I loved the setting, the mystery, and most of all the atmosphere. I also really enjoyed the twist on the 12 dancing princesses’ story. This is a must-read if you like fantastical retellings and spooky reads.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday: Books Read in 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s prompt is top ten books I’ve read so far this year. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been slacking on my reading this year (45 books total). I’ve also read a surprising number of books for the second time but didn’t want this list made up of just second-time reads. So I compromised: seven new reads and two second reads.

New Reads

1. Sun and Moon Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George- The writing style of this book is so different and unique. It’s based on a myth that I’d never heard of before and I loved the way everything worked together to give me a completely new reading experience.

2. Twelve Dancing Princesses series by Jessica Day George- Though these books followed more well-known fairytales, George still managed to make the plot unique and fun.

3. The Selection & The Elite by Kiera Cass- Though I haven’t been able to get The One yet, I found the first two books in this trilogy to be entertaining and light reads with just enough suspense and intrigue thrown in to keep me hooked.

4. Enchanted & Hero by Alethea Kontis- When I picked up these books I wasn’t expecting much out of them. I’m glad to say I was completely wrong. It combines tons of different fairytales and legends, most of which I wasn’t very familiar. I never knew what would happen next and I loved that.

5. Three Weeks With Lady X by Eloisa James- I’ve read and loved every one of her books. My favorite character in the Desperate Duchesses series was Villiers and I was so excited that James wrote this book about his son.

6. The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn- I’ve also read all of Quinn’s books. They’re always quick, laugh-out-loud funny and this book was no exception.

7. Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier- The final book in the Ruby Red trilogy. I honestly had no idea how this book would end. All of these books had fairly fast plots but the first two were also funny and not nearly as serious. While all the loose ends got tied up in this last book, the suspense was off the charts and I literally couldn’t put it down until I knew everything.

Second Reads

8. His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman- I read these when I was younger and finally decided to read them again. These books are funny, suspenseful, and heartbreaking. I will never not adore this trilogy.

9. The Witness by Nora Roberts- I read this book when it first came out and loved it. Elizabeth/Abigail is such a unique character but I could still relate to her in many ways. I think I can safely say this is my favorite Nora Roberts book of all time. (Fun Fact: This was the 200th book Roberts wrote.)

So what are your top ten books from this year?
-Antonia

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Goodreads Summary: A tale of twelve princesses doomed to dance until dawn…
Galen is a young soldier returning from war; Rose is one of twelve princesses condemned to dance each night for the King Under Stone. Together Galen and Rose will search for a way to break the curse that forces the princesses to dance at the midnight balls. All they need is one invisibility cloak, a black wool chain knit with enchanted silver needles, and that most critical ingredient of all—true love—to conquer their foes in the dark halls below. But malevolent forces are working against them above ground as well, and as cruel as the King Under Stone has seemed, his wrath is mere irritation compared to the evil that awaits Galen and Rose in the brighter world above.

I finally managed to get my hands on Princess of the Midnight Ball and it lived up to all of my expectations. It was fast-paced, funny, romantic, and just suspenseful enough to be interesting. As I’ve mentioned many times in the past: I. Love. Fairytale adaptations. It might be just that they remind me of being a child but they always leave me in a fantastic mood afterwards.
This story was no different. I haven’t heard the story of the twelve dancing princesses as often as others and having a more unique fairytale to inhale has made me ridiculously happy.
First, I’ll start with the characters. I thought George did a wonderful job of giving all the characters very distinct personalities without making it seem too crowded. Often I’ve found that authors can focus too much on the main characters and the secondary characters end up being rather flat. She obviously delved deeper into the personalities of the few main characters but I liked that I wasn’t left wondering who all the secondary characters are.
I thought Rose made a wonderful cursed crown princess. She was constantly trying to protect all eleven of her younger sisters which is a particularly admirable trait to me (I was the youngest of five siblings, so I know exactly how annoying little sisters can be.) I also loved how she tried to protect Galen by trying to prevent him from helping them, knowing how dangerous it would be for him.
Which leads me to my favorite part of the book. Galen was wonderful. He was charming and sweet, sensitive and tough, serious and funny. He was such a well-balanced character that I really couldn’t help but love him from the first chapter.
I think Rose and Galen complement each other very well. It was great to see them finally work together at the end of the book.
I thought the concepts and storyline of this book were new and very interesting. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the books in this series will bring. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys young adult, fairytales or romance. As always, let me know what you’d think. I would love to hear your own feedback on this book.
-Antonia

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