Monday, January 28, 2019

{Book Review} Five Poisoned Apples




 

A TALE SO DARK AND LOVELY

Falling Snow: The strange dark circus is the only life she’s ever known—but is Snow a performer or a prisoner?
Raven’s Heir: Taking her in could risk the lives of his rebel band—but how can Damien leave the young woman at the huntsman’s mercy?
The Fairest One: Her people look for the prophesied Fairest One—but can Livna find courage to step out of the shadows and save her nation?
Red as Blood: He’s been hired to assassinate the princess, no questions asked—but how can Zaig take the life of one so young, so innocent?
Snowbird and the Red Slippers: She longs to be worthy of the scholarship that changed her life—but can Jeong Hayan survive the bitter rivalry of a prestigious New York dance school?

Experience the haunting beauty of Snow White in five thrilling retellings.


AMAZON | GOODREADS | PUBLISHER'S WEBSITE


HERE IT IS. AT LAST. The fourth and final fairytale collection from Rooglewood Press! And what a collection to end with! I’ve been waiting foreverrr for this one, and it is finally here and is gorgeous and I’ve read it and loved it and YES. I simply adore these anthologies and am so sad they’re over, but AWK. They’re just so beautiful.


My reviews for previous collections:



(Except I still haven’t read Five Magic Spindles yet. Ooops!)


This collection really has something for everyone. Snow White has never really been one of my favorite fairytales, but these authors made me love it as they took the beautifully dark tale and reimagined it in such unique, beautiful ways.


FALLING SNOW
by Skye Hoffert


When I got word that this was one of the stories chosen for the collection, saying I was excited is an understatement. I was SCREAMING. I’m still screaming!


Skye is not only one of the most precious people on this earth, she’s also a dear internet friend of mine. I got to beta-read this story in its early days and fell. in. love. I was not surprised a bit it got chosen. IT IS BRILLIANCE. And it’s surreal having my Skye published. SO PROUD.

 

AND THIS STORY, GUYS.


If you're looking for a gritty circus setting, snappy writing, electric characters, a plot that keeps your adrenaline rushing as fast as Snow's on the tightrope, and a brilliantly unique take on Snow White, this is it! I could seriously fangirl about this novella for days.


This story involves a creepy circus run by magical fae and just YES PLEASE.


I honest to goodness adored every single aspect of this story. The writing is quick and snappy and transports you so perfectly into the tale, you forget you're even reading. Not once did I have to pause to try to imagine the setting, but there were no over-the-top descriptions to be found. In a mere sentence or even a single word, this author managed to paint a perfect picture of the surroundings, the actions of the characters, even the tone, and tug at your heartstrings or quicken your heartbeat while she was at it. Then there was the fascinating plot that took the elements of the original Snow White story and flipped them on their head in such an original way. And the pacing was perfection.


But the true gold of this story is the CHARACTERS. Snow is broken and soft, yet absolutely feisty when she needed to be. This girl made my heart swell. I just wanted to hug her okay? Then there's Chayse, our male lead, who made my heart ache over all the burdens he bore and decisions he had to make. I don't want to say too much about him and spoil things but, trust me, you're going to fall in love. And last but deeefinitely not least is Cynfael. Ah, Cyn. Our charming scoundrel who keeps you on your toes from the moment he enters the pages. If for no other reason, read this story for Cynfael. You'll thank me later. Oh, and we can't forget the villain, the evil queen herself, who made my skin crawl. Just what you want in a fairytale!


Skye Hoffert is a word genius and captured me from page one with this brilliant tale.


I'd honestly purchase this anthology for this story alone. It was, without a doubt, my favorite of the collection.


Content Cautions
There was quite a lot of drinking and smoking, and it seems like some of the characters use a bit of crude language. It really fit the gritty setting and brought it to life, so I didn’t mind. But do be warned if that’s not your thing.


 

RAVEN’S HEIR
by Jenelle Hovde


This one had such a beautiful writing style. It felt both historical and fairytale-like, at the same time, which was lovely.


There’s always one story in these collections that follows the closest to the original fairytale, and Raven’s Heir was that one for this anthology. But it took the events of the Snow White story and placed them in a rich, historical setting. Technically, it’s in a fantasy world, but you could tell this author knows her history, and it came out beautifully in the story.


The plot didn’t enrapture me quite as much with this one, as most of it was about the characters traveling, and then the ending was a little rushed. BUT our villain with her use of magic gave me chills (always the goal with a villain, especially when she’s the evil queen!) and Damien and Kara, our hero and heroine, were so kind and selfless, and their romance was one of the sweetest I’ve ever read. They were PRECIOUS! Also, the “dwarves” as a band of outlaws was clever, and had a very Robin Hoodish vibe which is ALWAYS a plus in my book.


Though a bit slow, the intriguing villain, sweet characters, and rich setting definitely made this a worthwhile read!


Content Cautions
The villainess in this one uses some pretty dark magic, that involves chilling spirits. But the magic is definitely shown in a bad light.


 

THE FAIREST ONE
by Cortney Manning


*clutches heart* What an epic, sweeping tale! I’m not always the biggest fan of novellas because I never feel like there’s enough time to truly get to know the characters. Or the story is just too simple and straight forward. Well Cortney Manning threw that belief out the window.


The Fairest One feels like a great epic, in the span of just a few chapters. I don’t know how she did it but wow! The  rich Middle/Near Eastern-type world comes alive in this one. Seriously, I just wanted to crawl into the storyworld (and I loved how it wasn’t your average medieval European setting too!). Livna, our heroine, was a sweet cinnamon roll who just wanted her father’s love and attention and to see her land safe. It was a delight seeing her grow and find her courage to stand up for her people. I felt for her SO MUCH, and was sad when the story was over, because I already miss her.


And the way the dwarves were portrayed. YES. Magical beings, and slaves to the “evil queen” character. So much originality there! One of the main characters, Oren, is a dwarf himself, and grumpy and sarcastic and totally great. All the characters really popped off the pages.


I loved how unique this one was, while also, somehow, staying so true to the original Snow White story. The twists this author put on Snow White were pure genius, and there was even a hint of Cinderella vibes going on which I loved. The stakes were HIGH in this one, and then the PLOT TWIST. Whoa. I was not expecting it.


Everything about this story was beautiful and brilliant and I loved every single word.


Content Cautions
Other than some heart-pounding high-stakes, I don’t recall there being anything to worry about with this one? Lots of magic, but that’s to be expected with a Snow White collection.


 

RED AS BLOOD
by Maddie Morrow


This one may be my favorite after Falling Snow! (Though The Fairest One is fighting for second place as well.) Which is something because, erm, it involves vampires??? Nooottt my favorite subject. But but but THIS STORY!


The tale follows Zaig, an assassin, who is told by the queen herself to assassinate the princess, no questions ask. Well, you can imagine how well that goes.


It’s set in a gritty, Victorian-era-esque setting and oooooh it was deliciously chilling. I really enjoyed how the whole story was in the Huntsman’s POV and BE STILL MY BEATING HEART. Zaig was such an epic protagonist, I can’t even. His inner struggles felt so REAL, and he had a dash of snark to go with his charm. The perfect combination! All the side characters were just as intriguing as well.


Then the PLOT. Just wow. Part mystery, part thriller, part fairytale—this one had it all. I was hooked, and refused to put the book down until I had made it to the end. It surprised me in so many ways, and had my heart pumping from page one to the end.


Even if you’re not into vampires (I’m with you) still give this one a read! The writing style is beautiful, the characters come alive, and the twists are epic. Good grief, I loved it so much!


Content Cautions
This one involves vampires so…it gets bloody. Very bloody, especially near the end. It’s also just pretty dark all the way around. If you’re squeamish, do be warned!


 

SNOWBIRD AND THE RED SLIPPERS
by Rachael Wallen


For the final novella, we take a bit of a different turn, as it’s a contemporary. BUT, it does have a hint of magical realism to it, which was fun.


This follows Snowbird, or Jeong Hayan, her real name, as she takes on a scholarship in a New York dance school. Though I’ve never been part of the ballet world, I’ve LOVED watching ballet since I was teeny tiny, so I was excited about a setting in a ballet school.


I 100% understand why this won a place in the collection. This author’s writing is astounding. With that said…it wasn’t my favorite. I have so many thoughts on this little story, that I don’t know if I can put into words.


My biggest dislikes were that I was just confused all the way through. I think it was the shortest of the collection, not giving us much time to really grasp everything going on, or to get to know the characters as well as we liked. Not only that, but almost the majority of the book is told, and so much of it talks about ballet and the scholarship and, since I’ve never been part of that world, I didn’t really get what all was going on. It’s so loaded with telling and lush descriptions, I felt like the plot got set on the backburner. Which is sad, because WHOA. This was a unique story, let me tell you!


At first, it doesn’t seem like a Snow White retelling at all, but THEN it ended up having more Snow White elements than all the others, including things involving ribbon and a comb, which people tend to skip over in Snow White retellings. Yet it also seemed to be much more heavily a retelling of a fairytale called The Red Shoes. Which I was perfectly fine with. Huzzah for retellings of obscure fairytales! But the Snow White elements are still there. In fact, Snow White and The Red Shoes have a couple of similar plot threads at the end, so I totally see why this author combined them. It worked perfectly! (Sorry, fairytale nerd. XD)


As I mentioned earlier, this author’s style is so rich and beautiful and unique, I definitely believe she deserved a spot in this collection. I think many people will LOVE this story, even though the style didn’t click with me. Despite that, it was the type of story that stayed with me long after I had finished. It was both beautiful and chilling, dark but thoughtful, and original all around. It’s the type of story you really just have to experience for yourself, and I definitely recommend doing so!


Content Cautions
This story was just…chilling. The original The Red Shoes story (or Snow White for that matter) is, erm, not exactly a happy, fluffy tale, and neither is this one. I liked the whole unnerving chill surrounding the story. It added a heart-stopping mystery to the whole thing. But if you’re expecting some fluffy contemporary fairytale retelling then…you’re going to be surprised. That’s all I’ll say. XD




Overall, I found this an absolutely wonderful collection to end these anthologies with. I’m so sad the excitement of the contests is over and that we won’t be getting new, beautiful fairytale anthologies every year anymore, but it’s been wonderful while it’s lasted!


CONCLUSION
With a wide range of settings, plots, and protagonists, this really does have something for all the types of fairytale-lovers. I was enraptured by each unique story, loved seeing the utter originality put into reimagining Snow White, and am so glad I gave this a read!



Because any anthology with Falling Snow, The Fairest One, and Red as Blood deserves five stars. But Raven’s Heir and Snowbird and the Red Slippers were worth the read as well!

 

TALK WITH ME!

Have you read this collection? BECAUSE I NEED TO FANGIRL. If you have, which story was your favorite? If you haven’t, which one appeals to you the most? And who’s sad the Rooglewood Fairytale Contests are over??? *sniff, sniff* It’s been such a good time!

28 comments:

  1. Ooh, these all look amazing! I'll definitely be adding some of these to my TBR list.
    ~Kathryn

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    1. THEY'RE SO GOOD. Since they're part of one collection, I don't know if you can get them individually. *sniff, sniff* But they're really ALL worth the read!

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  2. THE FAIREST ONE! FALLING SNOW! RED AS BLOOD! RAVEN'S HEIR! SNOWBIRD! ALLLLL THE BEAUTIFUL STORIES! *squeals forever*

    Whoa, so we have, like, the same opinions on all of these stories? MIND BLOWN. Other than on Red as Blood, I suppose--I've been reading Dracula lately and that's making me very interested in and fascinated by vampires, so I relished every bit of that particular story, even the bloody parts. Call me morbid...I love it. xD

    But yeah, your thoughts on Raven's Heir and Snowbird were both completely what I thought! I didn't ADORE either of them to quite the extent that I loved the other three stories, although I still enjoyed them muchly. Skye's story is probably my favorite overall, but I'd be hardpressed to choose a second-favorite.

    This review is AMAZING! I love it, love it, LOVE it! (Also, I really really wish the Rooglewood contests weren't ending. Entering this one was SO FUN, if a bit stressful, since I'd never written anything so short. But I would have loved one more chance!)

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    1. *squeals with you* THEY'RE JUST SO GOOD!!!

      Really? That is so funny! Great minds think alike. ;D Or maybe bookish minds? Hehe. But I love how we felt the same about them! And hey, I seem to be in the minority of my not-liking-vampires thing. I've just never been wild about them, but Red as Blood was just so, so good!

      Yeah, they were good and I can see why they were chosen, but they're just not really MY style of stories. I did enjoy the utterly unique style of Snowbird though. It was so different! BUT FALLING SNOW. *clutches heart* Definitely, DEFINITELY my favorite! I can't decide on my second favorite eitherrr. The Fairest One and Red as Blood are tied I think! *flails*

      Awwww, thank you!!! So glad you enjoyed it!
      Saaame. It's been so much fun! The only one I entered was the Beauty and the Beast one (that's where Burning Thorns came from! My 113k novel used to be a 20k novella o.o) and it was a blast and a good experience for me. I had hoped to enter more but just never found the time. Either way though, following along with the contests was a blast. I shall miss them! *sniffles*

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  3. EEP! THE REVIEW!!!

    AHHH! YES!!!! I'm so glad you loved The Fairest One. WOW. <3 That one just knocked my socks off. I mean, the others were amazing, too, but it just felt so Snow White, so unique, so epic. ARGH. Don't have the words. YES, THE DWARVES! TOO COOOOOOOLLL!!!!!!

    I AM AGAINST VAMPIRES, but I KNOW! I am flabbergasted that someone could get me to like a vampire story SO MUCH! AND WRITE ALL THE THINGS IN ALL CAPS! Sufferin' cats! This, to me, was just the Snow White retelling BEGGING to be told. It's perfection, really. I still hate vampires, but the story was perfection.

    I can see why you didn't care for Raven's Heir more, but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I DO wish the ending wasn't so abrupt. That one I would love to see fleshed out further into a longer story. I can easily see it becoming something along the lines of Melanie Dickerson or Jessica Day George.

    FALLING SNOW was adorbs. I think I overused the word "grit" in my review, but it was still fantastic. The whole fae thing confused me for a bit, but I'm blaming myself for that since I've not actually had a lot of interaction with fae things. I think before this one I've only read one fae story (?). Working on fixing that.

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    1. THE FAIREST ONE WAS SO GOOD!!! Somehow it didn't really feel like a novella like the others, I felt like I was on a long, beautiful journey and just skdjflskjldjkfdf. SO SO GOOD. Livna, the dwarves, the TWIST. Everythiiing!

      Right??? I've neverrr been a vampire person but DAT STORY. I agree, it was perfection. It seriously blew me away.

      Raven's Heir WOULD be a fabulous novel! I think I would have liked it MUCH more if it could be more fleshed out. I loved the characters and idea, I think it just didn't quite fit in a novella. But it was sweet!

      Grit definitely describes Falling Snow, but I loved that about it! I looove the idea of dark fae stories and creepy circuses and allll that. So it was JUST up my alley. But I totally understand that's not everyone's cup of tea. Haha. I'm glad you enjoyed it though!

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  4. Eeek! Thanks for the review. It's so fun to read what other people think of the stories.
    Cyn always has been and always will be my boi. I love him. Then again, I've never disliked anything Skye has written. I screamed when she won.
    I love Jenelle's grasp of history. I've read some of her other stuff too, and her command of all those little details just brings her worlds to life.
    I haven't finished reading The Fairest one yet, but I loved the middle eastern feel. So cool. And her dwarves are great.
    Hehe, I'm really glad you liked Red as Blood. Zaig is my baby. You're not alone in not being a big fan of vampires. I don't actually read any vampire stories. Never have. But I'm insanely happy you gave it a chance despite not liking vamps.
    I haven't read Snowbird in its finished state, but I did read a previous draft of it. It was really poetic. I'd almost compare it to like, The Night Circus, because it was beautiful writing, but kept the readers at arms length.
    Great post!

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    1. I loved reviewing it! I just had to flail about this lovely collection!

      Cyn is everything and I love him with all my heart. And yesss. Skye's writing and characters give me life. I was over the moon when she won one of the spots!

      Yes! You could really tell Jenelle knows her stuff and I loved it! The worlds felt so REAL.

      Oh, oooh! You need to finish it. It's so good!!!

      ZAAAIG. MAH BOY. He was suuuch a good protagonist. Like...he may be a new fictional crush. *sheepish grin* I JUST LOVED HIM SO MUCH! And your story was amaziiiiing! So you've never read any vampire fiction? Wow! Isn't it funny how some story ideas just hit us even when they're not our usual genres? But you ROCKED IT! It was absolutely one of my faaave. <333

      You're so right about Snowbird! It IS a lot like The Night Circus. I loooved The Night Circus but, like you said, it kept the reader too distant from the characters and...sometimes it seems like the flowery writing got in the way of an actual plot? But it was so beautiful! And Snowbird was very much the same. But I definitely enjoyed it! And am totally in awe at Rachael Wallen's writing ability. It is spectacular!

      So glad you enjoyed it! <3

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    2. I just pretty much force Skye to send me everything she writes now. I don't even ask XD

      The idea that a character I created made someone's fictional crush list pretty much makes my day. I can now die in peace. Thank you! Nope, not one single book. I've watched one tv show with vampires in it, but that was after I started writing Red as Blood. It was really fun how this story came out of nowhere. I originally was going to write a futuristic sci fi. Thank you!!!!

      P

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    3. I love that so much and 100% approve.

      Bwahaha! It's true though! Zaig and Cynfael were my favorite characters in the whole collection. Speaking of, I was telling Skye in her comment that you guys should do a crossover story with those two. I would seriously die from that much awesomeness. XD

      That's too cool how this story just came from nowhere! It seems like my best stories are those ones I went in completely unplanned. Crazy how that happens! Writing is so weird, but I love it.

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    4. O.o a crossover would be SO much fun!
      Unplanned stories are the best. My friend and I wrote one once where we weren't allowed to plot anything ahead of time, we just started writing. It was absolutely glorious.

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    5. I seriously need this. Or like an interview with them together for a blog post or something. ;D

      YES. Lately I've been plotting my books, but I kind of miss pantsing and just going wild. I love you and your friend did that. It sounds so fun!

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  5. Awesome review! I love how you looked at each story individually and mentioned what you liked and what you didn't (and thank you for the content cautions!) I'm definitely intrigued by this collection!

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    1. Thanks! I ended up writing each review after I read each story, otherwise my poor brain would have gotten everything mixed up. XD I declare I have short term memory loss. Lol. But I'm glad you enjoyed it! And YES. It's such a good collection!

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  6. I MUST READ THESE!!!!!!

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  7. *squealing* You said such sweet things!!! Excuse me... I'm just happy crying in the corner.

    It was neat to read all of your thoughts on each story. I love that each one will appeal to different readers, like one of my sister's loved Raven's Heir but the other was obsessed with Red as Blood. It's nice to have a variety.

    Like Jenelle's has such good descriptions and the general tone of her story is beautiful.

    Cortney's blew me away with the world she crafted and her use of magic.

    Rachael's was stunning, and I'm jealous of her writing abilities.

    I'm so happy that you loved Maddie's! Her's is definitely my favorite. The Gothic style, and the intensity she builds. Zaig, is just everything! I'm glad you appreciate her brilliance.<3
    I was screaming when she won too. We always talked about how neat it would be to be published together, and we got that wish.

    Great review! <333

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    1. D'awwww! I just loved your story so muuuch!!! I'm STILL screaming about it getting picked. Just SLDKJFLJLSKJDF. SO HAPPY.

      Yesss! That's exactly it. I LOVE how each collection always has something for everyone. It's great! And it's fun seeing all the writing styles and creativity. Man I'm gonna miss these contests. *sniff, sniff*

      MADDIE'S STORY WAS SO GOOD. ZAAAAIG. <333 That is the sweetest thing you were able to get in an anthology together! (Oh my goodness, now I want a crossover story with Cyn and Zaig. :O Though I may die of fangirl overdose.)

      So glad you enjoyed it! I had a blast fangirling! ^_^

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  8. Oooh! I'm looking forward to reading this!
    So far I've only read Five Magic Spindles (it was epic), but I intend to read all the rooglewood collections.

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    1. Yes, it was SO GOOD.
      Oh man, Five Magic Spindles is the only one I haven't read. It is a tragedy! I need to read it SOON!

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  9. I've never heard of these anthologies, but wow, they sound fantastic! I love fairytales and I really want to read more retellings. And I was 10000x more interested in this one by the end of the review because of how many times you said it was chilling, haha! (I love eerie stories.)

    Also, all of these sound so unique! I'll definitely have to read this if I can ever get my hands on it. :D

    theonesthatreallymatter.blogspot.com

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    1. Ooooh, they're so good! And I TOTALLY get you on chilling stories. Creepy fairytales are my faaave! So that's honestly why I loved this one so much. Their Beauty and the Beast anthology, Five Enchanted Roses, also has some deliciously chilling tales. Oh, OH! And if you want more retellings, my FAVORITE fairytale retelling novel is Entwined by Heather Dixon. It's a Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling and is really fun but also has SUCH a creepy villain. IT'S SO GOOD!

      Ahem, sorry. I get a over fangirly when it comes to fairytale retellings. XD It's like my favorite genre!

      But ANYWAYS. I think you'd love this anthology. I absolutely recommend!

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  10. I was trying so hard not to go over my imagined book limit this month...(okay, there's no real limit, I just told myself not to buy as many books). Let's go throw that out the window, because I think I need this anthology like RIGHT NOW

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    1. I don't know if to laugh or apologize for making you go over your limit. *sheepish grin* But it is SO GOOD! :D I hope you enjoy it!

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  11. I. NEED. THIS. I've only ever read the Five Glass Slippers anthology, but the others are on my TBR! I just haven't been able to acquire them... Thanks for this review!! I love reading your opinions on these, it makes me want it even more!

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    1. Yes you doooo! I think you'd LOVE it! The Five Glass Slippers collection was amazing, but I think I liked this one even more. But I don't know...they're ALL good! Haha.

      Awwww! It's such a relief to know people enjoy my reviews. ^_^

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  12. I finally read it! I didn't want to read your review before I read the book, cause I'm weird like that. :D And I pretty much agree with all that you said!

    Falling Snow was probably my favorite and I loved Chayse! <3

    I actually really enjoyed Raven't Heir. I loved the sweet romance.

    The love triangle in The Fairest One had me on edge, I was honestly kind of rooting for Vandrus... :) But I was happy with the ending. :D

    I wasn't sure what to expect with Red as Blood, but I really enjoyed it, the suspense of trying to figure out who was the vampire was great. And Zaig. I don't know why but I love assassins. It's terrible, but they intrigue me sooo much! It's probably their skill with weapons and stealth, I absolutely love it! Especially when they reform. <3 I also loved how many things the authoress flipped on their heads, the plot twists were so great!

    Snowbird and the Red Slippers was interesting and not really what I was expecting. Usually the last story in the book is my favorite, literally all three of the last collections, the last story was the best. But this one kind of let me down. Though I did really enjoy that she mixed the Red Shoes into it. That made it really unique.

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    1. I totally get that! Sometimes I want to go in a book completely blind and be able to make my own opinions of it before seeing what everyone else thought. So you are not weird! Or we're just both weird. ;D But ANYWAYS. YOU READ IT. YAAAAY!!!

      Falling Snow was DEFINITELY my fave! Which...I guess you know. XD But CHAAAYSE. AND CYNFAEL. AND SNOW. AND EVERYTHING. <333

      The romance WAS totally precious in Raven's Heir. I agree to that! <3

      Ya know, I didn't really know WHAT to expect with the romance in The Fairest One. I had no clue how it'd end, and wasn't sure how I WANTED it to end. But I LOVED that. I loved how it kept me guessing. It was so good!

      Same! My first thought was, "Vampires???" But it ended up being utterly delightful. The twists were epic. AND ZAAAAIIIG. Oh my goodness, I'm the SAME. WAY. I love assassins in fiction! You're making me feel better. XD Their stealth and skills are just awesome! Zaig was everything. <333

      That's precisely how I felt! I liked it to a point. It certainly was unique and kept my interest. It was just...so different and sometimes a little hard to follow. I definitely respected the originality of it though!

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