Monday, December 24, 2018

Double Mini-Reviews: Rule by Ellen Goodlett & Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd

Rule (Rule, #1)Rule by Ellen Goodlett
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Hardcover. 376 pages.

About Rule:
"Three girls with three deadly secrets. Only one can wear the crown. 

The king is dying, his heir has just been murdered, and rebellion brews in the east. But the kingdom of Kolonya and the outer Reaches has one last option before it descends into leaderless chaos. 

Or rather, three unexpected options. 

Zofi has spent her entire life trekking through the outer Reaches with her band of Travelers. She would do anything to protect the band, her family. But no one can ever find out how far she's already gone. 

Akeylah was raised in the Eastern Reach, surrounded by whispers of rebellion and abused by her father. Desperate to escape, she makes a decision that threatens the whole kingdom. 

Ren grew up in Kolonya, serving as a lady's maid and scheming her way out of the servants' chambers. But one such plot could get her hung for treason if anyone ever discovers what she's done. 

When the king summons the girls, they arrive expecting arrest or even execution. Instead they learn the truth: they are his illegitimate daughters, and one must become his new heir. But someone in Kolonya knows their secrets, and that someone will stop at nothing to keep the sisters from their destiny... to rule. 

Magic, mystery, and blackmail abound in this sensational and striking fantasy debut."

LIKES: Ren, Zofi, and Akeylah were all wonderfully strong in their own unique way that stood out so much. Each girl was very different from the others, but they come together so well and learn to use their weakness as strengths, as well allowing their minds to be opened and consider new ideas. I think she did that beautifully. There was unnecessary hatred among them at first, but Goodlett did a wonderful job of having the girls mature and realize that hating each other was not going to solve anything. I also loved the handling of systemic racism and prejudice, discrimination, and other social issues, all of which I think were thoughtfully considered and also rather thought-provoking. I enjoyed the overall mystery and getting to know each of the girls through both their positive and negative decisions in life, as it really helped them become well-rounded figures.

DISLIKES: Honestly, I'm not sure why this has so many negative reviews. One reason could be because the magic system requires an individual to essentially cut into their arm/leg/etc., which could be found triggering for self-harm. That's totally valid and if that is something that would bother you, then do keep that in mind before reading this book. That being said, I thought it worked well as a magic system because by cutting into oneself for blood, it shows an immediate consequence of using your power and how it is limited. I would have liked more detailed world-building, as it did feel fairly limited at times and left me wondering. My main dislike is the cliffhanger ending. Look, I don't mind a bit of a cliffhanger--it keeps us excited!--but when it's literally akin to someone hanging off a cliff, it's almost cheap and feels like I'm being taken advantage of as a reader. Maybe I overreact, but it still bothers me.

Overall, I've decided to give Rule four stars!

*I received an ARC of Rule courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

Grim Lovelies (Grim Lovelies, #1)
Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd 
HMH Books for Young Readers
Hardcover. 376 pages.

About Grim Lovelies:
"Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love. But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human. Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittora, the evil witch who spelled her into existence. That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood—and Anouk is accused of the crime. 

Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away. If they fail, they will lose the only lives they’ve ever known…but if they succeed, they could be more powerful than anyone ever bargained for. 

From New York Times bestselling author Megan Shepherd, Grim Lovelies is an epic and glittering YA fantasy. Prepare to be spellbound by the world of Grim Lovelies, where secrets have been long buried, friends can become enemies, and everything—especially humanity—comes at a price."

LIKES: I loved Shepherd's The Madman's Daughter, so I was pretty excited to check this book out and see what else she could do.  I thought that the general concept of the beasties, the witches, and how the magic system worked was pretty interesting. There is a time limit placed on the events of this book, which lent to a quick pace that kept the story moving at all times. This book also went darker than I expected at times, though the darker aspects were more told as a past event rather than something currently happening, though there is still some violence in this book. I was also rather shocked and impressed by the last quarter or so of the book, including the ending--it definitely wasn't how I expected Shepherd to end this tale. I also love the Goblin characters and their carefree, tricky nature, and I can't wait to see more of them in the sequel.

DISLIKES: As much as I enjoyed the beasties and the magic system, I would have liked a little more explanation of various histories related to it. Everything is fully explained, but it still felt rushed and I had to digest it all very quickly. In addition, the entire story felt a bit rushed. I'm not sure we spent quite enough time at the original house and with the characters before the big life-changing event occurs, and I think it would have helped with the development of the characters. I feel like we got to know the characters decently well, but they needed more depth to their personalities. The romance was also something I could have done without.

Overall, I ended up realizing I had a fun time reading this book and the plot was an interesting one, so I've given Grim Lovelies four stars! I would say a younger YA reader might be more drawn to this one, though it was a certainly an entertaining read no matter what one's age.

Buy the book:  Amazon | Book Depository

And as I won't be posting tomorrow for the holiday, I just want to wish everyone a very happy holiday! I  hope you all have a wonderful time with whatever your plans are! 


  1. I'm intrigued by both of these, but especially Rule. Great reviews!
    Oh, and I hope you had a very Merry Christmas! :)

    1. Rule was so good! I didn't expect it to be as good because of the negative reviews, but I definitely recommend it. And thanks! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas as well!

  2. Rule sounds really interesting - it kind of reminds me of Three Dark Crowns, but I'm definitely intrigued by the magic system in this society!

    1. It reminded me of Three Dark Crowns too at first, but fortunately it differentiated itself enough. The magic system was really neat!