THORN JACK: Spoiler-Free [Review]

Synopsis:

They call us things with teeth. These words from Lily Rose Sullivan the night of her death haunts her seventeen-year-old sister, Finn, who has moved with her widowed father to his hometown of Fair Hollow, New York. After befriending a boy named Christie Hart and his best friend, Sylvie Whitethorn, Finn is invited to a lakeside party where she encounters the alluring Jack Fata, a member of the town’s mysterious Fata family. Despite Jack’s air of danger and his clever words, Finn learns they have things in common.

One day, while unpacking, Finn finds her sister’s journal, scrawled with descriptions of creatures that bear a sinister resemblance to Jack’s family. Finn dismisses these stories as fiction, but Jack’s family has a secret—the Fatas are the children of nothing and night, nomadic beings who have been preying on humanity for centuries—and Jack fears that his friendship with Finn has drawn the attention of the most dangerous members of his family—Reiko Fata and vicious Caliban, otherwise known as the white snake and the crooked dog.

Plagued with nightmares about her sister, Finn attempts to discover what happened to Lily Rose and begins to suspect that the Fatas are somehow tied to Lily Rose’s untimely death. Drawn to Jack, determined to solve the mystery of her sister’s suicide, Finn must navigate a dangerous world where nothing is as it seems.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Review:

Thorn Jack had me interested from not only the cover, but the mere fact that is was a modern-day retelling of Tam Lin, an old Scottish ballad. If Scotland is ever involved in anything, I AM IN.

I was expecting this to be a tale of magical realism or fantasy, though I instead received a tale of the supernatural and paranormal (there’s a slight difference between the two, believe it or not) with a gothic setting. This was a happy surprise, because I love paranormal and don’t read enough of it.

Thorn Jack delivered a good start, carrying us beside Finn settling into her new home, mourning the death of her sister. From there, we get introduced to new characters, two of which become quick friends with Finn. Creepy things start to occur around this time. Girls and boys with floral crowns and Celtic tattoos and formal dialect wedge themselves into Finn’s life, including the mysterious Jack.

*whispers*

I’m sure we all know where this is going.

Now I love a good romance–I do–but when paranormal beings get involved, it can be a tricky thing. It can come off as unrealistic and … well, kind of cringey. Unfortunately, this was one of these romances for me. Finn’s fascination with Jack only seemed convenient for the story. I find it unrealistic if you find someone you barely know outside of your house in the middle of the night that you would then invite them in.

I did enjoy their interactions together, especially Jack’s sass. And I do understand Finn’s curiosity, but the way she went about it was silly. Her infatuation with Jack, the boy who spoke strangely to her and refused to answer the few questions she had, who she soon figured out was something else, seemed unnecessary. I think it would’ve made more sense to have them as friends first and to then develop into a love near the end of the novel. But instead, their casual friendship quickly turned into more without either of them really knowing anything about each other.

While I was disappointed that the friendship wasn’t built up more, I do appreciate that Harbour created a solid friendship between a girl and boy without them having romantic tension. This is a quality that I feel is lacking particularly in YA literature.

Okay guys, BUT THIS SETTING. loved it. Harbour has a luscious writing style with an eerie undertone that was able to construct this gothic setting with precision. I could imagine the abandoned buildings and the teens with glitter and floral crowns and strange make-up as if they were in front of my eyes. I could smell the dampness and the wild roses and the fire that their skin emitted. Harbour transported me into this world that was truly captivating in a strange way.

So overall, this was an enjoyable read. I do think it dragged on in some areas and I found the romance to be a bit typical and predictable, but the whole of the plot and setting was captivating. If you’re looking for a rich gothic and/or supernatural tale, I recommend you give Thorn Jack a look.

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Goodreads Reading Challenge [Update]

We’re over halfway through the year, which means it’s time to check up on our challenges and goals. In the beginning of the year, I knew 2016 would be the year I finished my first book and began querying. I figured this would take up most of my time, whihc is why I only made my reading challenge 60 books, a slight increase from last year’s goal of 50 books. (I exceeded this by 9.) And yes, I realize 50 and 60 are a lot, but with my book reviewing friends that read between 100-200 books a year, it seems minimal.

Writing takes up the majority of time, which is purely my choice and I would never change for a second. But luckily, through the help of my schedule, I’m able to balance writing, photography, and reading all within a day. Oh, and schoolwork, but let’s not think about that right now.

I’ve been devouring books the first five months of this year, but then, surprisingly, my reading slowed down over the summer when I had more time. Since bringing my schedule back a few weeks ago, my reading has spiked once again.

So here is a look at my current stats on Goodreads, starting with my reading challenge:

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My reading may have slowed down these last couple of months, but thanks to my past-self flying through books, I’m 19 books ahead of schedule! I’m hoping if I pace myself as I had in the beginning of year, I could get close to 100 books read by the end of year! So exciting!

Now let’s check out stats based on my shelves:

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Surprise, surprise. Fantasy takes the lead when it comes to genre. Young-adult will probably always be number one, because OBVIOUSLY. Leading up to fantasy, I have (basic) fiction, adult, favorites, graphic-novels, romance, children’s, paranormal, and the rest listed as “other”.

I’m quite happy with this list, being that I’ve discovered six new favorite books a little over half-way through the year. And the majority of books are four or three stars, barely any are two. I would like to try expand on the genres I read, but it’s all up to my TBR jar, which seems to love fantasy just as much as me.

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For more depth on the books I’ve read and my statistics, you can find my Goodreads page here. Be sure to add me if you haven’t already, then we can fangirl/fanboy together about what we love most: books.

Do you have a Goodreads challenge? If so, how many and how is your progress coming along? Are you ahead or behind? Let me know!

Oh, and Happy National Book Lover’s Day!

 

The Ruler of Books [Tag]

The lovely Lissa over at Rabid Reads tagged me to do the Ruler of Books tag. I have not yet heard of this tag, but seeing the title of it and looking through the questions, I know this is going to be a fun one. Now, It’s time for this book queen to answer some questions.

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What book would you make everyone read?

Only one book? *sigh* Okay, well, if that’s the case, then I choose Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson, because to this day, thinking of this book ties a weight onto my heart. If I even start reading a passage from it, my eyes start to get watery and my heart sinks and, as the kids say, THE FEELS ARE STRONG.

To keep it short, Tiger Lily is a retelling of Peter and Wendy, but this is a bit of a different story, all told from Tinker Bell’s point-of-view. This novel is incredibly real and raw with a dark underbelly that rings out hard and true. The writing is too stunning for me to describe, the characters layered and lovable and relatable with all of their flaws. This book deserves loads more attention that it has. Please, if you haven’t already, give this beautiful book a read.

What would you abolish in book construction?

I have to go with Lissa on this one and say book cover changes mid-series. Because when I collect a series, they must be the same size, same kind (e.g. paperback, hardcover), and have the same style. When the publishers decide to change the theme of the covers mid-series, it makes me want to forget collecting the series or have to re-purchase the entire thing. This is why I usually don’t purchase a series until all of the books have been released due to fear that the covers will change. Book covers should stay the same, or they can re-publish the whole set with a different style after they are all released. Hopefully publishers will catch on soon.

What author would you commission to write you any book?

Obviously, Jodi Lynn Anderson. Not only did I fall head-over-heels for Tiger Lily, but I was also captivated by her newest young-adult novel, The Vanishing Season. The reviews for this book aren’t too great on Goodreads, and I think this is because the synopsis is misleading to the actual story. It makes it sound like a thrilling mystery with possible elements of the paranormal, but really, this is more like a coming-of-age story with a paranormal undertone.

AND OH MY WAS IT HEARTBREAKING. Much like Tiger Lily, these characters read very real and true in my eyes. They were each so diverse and had an array of their own quirks and flaws. The friendships and relationships were bittersweet, just as life is, and the icy setting of Door County was simply gorgeous. But the characters–I just loved them, Maggie, Pauline, Liam (who basically looked and acted like Nicholas Hoult, in my mind). The writing held the same beauty in Tiger Lily, with even more beautiful quotes that made me think and wonder about life and love and death.

This is still, to this day, one of my favorite books and the best coming-of-age story I’ve read. And much like Tiger Lily, it ripped out my heart. But I would gladly have Anderson tear a hole in my chest over and over again.

What book(s) do you demote to the library basement to make room for new books?

Most books that I’ve read and given three stars usually are put into my stack for the library, unless they have a pretty cover for photography reasons. Any novels that I wasn’t able to finish (which I don’t like to do) or that I rated two stars are a definite addition to my local library. I would rather give the books a new home rather than having them sit in my home unread and unloved.

What cover artist would you commission to make a mural?

There are many talented cover artists out there, but I would have to go with Lizzy Bromley. She has designed the covers for both The Wolf Wilder and Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms. Please, look at the beauty for yourself:

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How gorgeous are those? And I’m sure there are even more stunning covers she’s designed that I’m not aware of. Lizzy’s talent is beyond words. It’s her artwork that originally attracted me to these books, and then the synopsis’ topped it off. (But don’t ask me what they’re about because I’ve already forgotten.) But with her sense of whimsy and her simplistic structure–which is my kind of style–she would make a gorgeous mural that I would forever obsess over.

What character’s face would you put on a coin?

This is a strange question that I have hundreds of answers to. I suppose I’m going to go with Tiger Lily, because it’s about time we have a woman on a common coin and she’s incredible and amazing and I JUST LOVE HER AND SHE DESERVES THIS.

What book would you award the “Ruler of Books” 2016 prize to?

I would give the Ruler of Books award to A Game of Thrones. I’m going to stop myself before I go on and on about this series. The books, from what I have read, are phenomenal. The television series continues to amaze me and leave me an awe. Everything about A Song of Ice and Fire is amazing and deserves all of the awards.

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I tag:

EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU BECAUSE WE ARE ALL RULERS MWAHAHA.