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review 2018-01-31 18:31
Not much of a plot, but the ending was great!
The Graces - Laure Eve

There wasn’t a substantial plot with this one. You had an idea on why River was trying to be friends with The Graces and there were hints here and there throughout the story on what River was really wanting to do all this time. You’re pretty much following River as she makes friends and tries to be part of the in crowd with The Graces.

 

I didn’t really like River that much in the beginning. You knew why she was wanting to befriend them however at the same time she had a great friendship with Summer and you were hoping nothing would spoil it.

 

The Graces did have a certain charm to them but at the same time there was also something strange. They’re close knit, secretive, and not your average family. They already had their secrets to start with, and of all the three I’d have to like Summer the most. She was the outspoken one and the rule breaker with at least some semblance of sense and logic that her two siblings didn’t have (those that have read the book would know what I’m talking about).

 

Back to River. Oh darling. You know this could have gone well if you HAD JUST TOLD THEM. Sometimes I hate reading books where the protagonist has this huge secret because they tend to keep it to themselves until they finally realize it wouldn’t help anymore but by that time, it would mess up a lot of things now would it? And all throughout the book you’re screaming JUST. TELL. THEM. Sheesh.

 

Although I know I said I didn’t really like her in the beginning, she redeemed herself in the last third of the book. I was expecting her to be sniveling, crying and pleading but she suddenly became this beacon of rage and I suddenly pulled a 180 and loved her instantly. She finally realized who she was and what she was capable of. She didn’t need the Graces at all - well maybe she needed them to put her in the right direction but it was nice to see her pick herself up and be strong about it.

 

Loved the ending! Such a cliffhanger and I want to know what’s going to happen next now that River has found herself. Sequel is coming out this year! So I’ll be looking forward to it!

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review 2017-01-16 23:22
I Fell Under The Graces Spell
The Graces - Laure Eve River is new to the school, and like everyone, drawn to the enigmatic Grace siblings. But unlike everyone else, River knows how to befriend them and seek their help as rumours of their witchcraft spread through the town. Or maybe she’s just far more determined to be a part of the Grace family. Either way, are the strange things happening a result of their playful spells or is something more sinister going on? First of all, River is not River’s name. We never find out her real name, which I like. River’s new BFF, Summer Grace, encourages her to call her by her ‘real’ name. River isn’t exactly a ‘likeable’ character. She’s far too enamoured of the opinion of others and how she can manipulate others around her. She’s does things and says things not because she means them but because she thinks she sounds or looks cool while she does it. It’s all to impress Fenrin, the male twin of the Graces. Like all teen girls, she’s enamoured by him. But because she’s soooo much smarter than all those other desperate fake girls, she tries to get to Fenrin by going through Summer, only to find that Summer is a pretty awesome best friend to have, because like River, Summer believes in witchcraft and magic spells and everyone loves Summer, but having Summer love River makes River special. River is actually pretty unlikeable. She’s practically delusional: she holds disdain for everyone except the Graces and especially hates all the girls who love Fenrin, despite being one herself. She thinks she’s the only person in the world who is deep and not fake, which is totally ironic because she fakes being Summer’s BFF to get to Fenrin, and her love for him is based purely on his looks (shallow). She is both supremely timid in hiding her personality and inner thoughts, and calculating and utterly confident that Fenrin will return her affections because she’s just that special. Is she after the Graces, wishing to be an honourary Grace herself, or after their rumoured magic? I think it’s both. And then there’s Thalia, the third Grace, and Fenrin’s twin. Fenrin and Thalia are older than Summer and River by a couple of years, and Thalia’s already got her own shit to deal with, but I never really warmed to her in the novel and then it almost seemed like she snapped and became another character entirely. Maybe it’s because I knew a girl called Thalia when I was younger and she was a complete bitch for no reason, so maybe my judgement is a little impaired, but Thalia Grace always seemed a little unhinged and then grew almost psychotic. Maybe it was always part of her personality, or maybe the pressure of being a Grace got to her, or maybe all those little harmless spells drove her mad, but I couldn’t grow to like Thalia. Not that that’s a bad thing, because I didn’t particularly like River, and at least Thalia is responsible for some of the bigger plot points. And I mean, we see the novel from River’s point of view, and how many older siblings like their kid sister’s best friend? I know none of my close friends’ older siblings liked me when I was a kid, for whatever reason, and I doubt my older brother liked any of my friends. So maybe that’s just a Thalia thing, even though the Graces seem pretty close as siblings. I loved the writing style. I loved how unexpectedly the plot went in a completely different direction to which I thought it would go. I loved how River was an unreliable narrator because I haven’t read many of those before, but it did cause me to wonder what the truth actually was a few times, because although River kept secret, she didn’t always come clean with the truth in the end. The only thing I didn’t like was the implied homophobia when two male characters were caught together and the only words used to describe it was ‘disgusting’. UM NO. Two boys in love is NOT disgusting. This was said not only by one character but by my recollection two, or at least the first character implied the second one was thinking it. So despite very few issues with the book, I’ve fallen under the Grace spell and I am really looking forward to the sequel, to finding out how the Graces deal with this new curveball, to finding out how River will be in the next book now that her relationship with the Graces has changed so drastically.
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review 2017-01-12 00:00
Ornamental Graces
Ornamental Graces - Carolyn Astfalk Ornamental Graces - Carolyn Astfalk Dan is damaged, the last woman he was with taking every last ounce of self-respect when she dumped him. So when bubbly Emily comes into his life, he's not sure how to take it.

Emily is trying to figure out where her life is going. She's moved out of her brother's place, but she's not really taking life by the horns. When Dan comes into her life, she's intrigued, but his hot and cold routine just confirms everything she fears about herself - that she's just not pretty enough, and no man with a better option will give her the time of day.

This is a sweet romance - great for any time of year - in which two people find themselves as they find each other. There's a deep Catholic resonance running through the story as well, which becomes as much of a redemption story as it is a romance.

Highly recommended if you love women's fiction and romance with a sprinkling of Christmas magic thrown in.
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review 2016-09-27 15:43
The Graces - Laure Eve

Who doesn't love a good book about witches. And while this one was fun, I found the overall plot a little loose with an ending that was a little meh.

I kept expecting the story to go one direction to grow, and it would start to, then it would go back to be the silly school girl stuff that began it all.

The saving Grace, get it? HA! The saving Grace was the promise the end gives you, leading you to believe it the story COULD grow. 

I'll give the next book a shot if for nothing more than it was a fun and easy read. 

Good vacation book.

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review 2016-07-07 00:00
The Graces
The Graces - Laure Eve Where to even start with this book. I was on such a rollercoaster with it. One minute I wanted to fling it across the room and not even finish, the next I was reading as fast as possible to see what happened next. Then I would go back to the flinging. And the ending? WTF. OMG. The ending left me like this:

image

I honestly don’t know how to write this review without spoilers. But I’ll do my best.

*crickets* *thinking* *more crickets* Ok, here we go.

Everyone said the Graces were witches.
They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair. They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.

All I had to do was show them that person was me.


We experience this story through the eyes of River, a 15-year-old transplanted misfit to a new school and new town. She and the rest of her school are obsessed with (and frequently manipulated) a family of alleged “witches,” 3 of which attend their high school. The life goal of most of the students seems to be to be “in” with the Graces, who not only have their own popular circle of friends, they have their own style, and their own rules. Rumored to have their own “abilities,” but this has never actually been confirmed.

Drama llama, high school drama llama, everywhere.

River refuses to stoop to groveling, like the rest of the school. She is much more experienced in manipulation, we see right from the start. Yet she seems to be such an unconfident, scared little rabbit.

Sometimes they’d paralyze me, the “what ifs” of action, and I didn’t do anything at all because it was safer.


But why? How? I had so many questions for River, about River, right from the beginning. I was both confused and rather bored through almost the first half of the book. High school politics and teenage drinking (this is one of my pet peeves with SO many YA books – does no one notice these kids are drinking? who provides the alcohol?) really don’t interest me. Though, for once, the author actually explains the drinking somewhat. And, I couldn’t figure out if we were supposed to take magic seriously, or not, or…what. Until the last third of the book, it seemed like all shadows and smoke, nothing else, even though the Graces have all the appearance of a family practicing modern paganism of some type.

That was the first half. I was repeatedly irritated by the amount of time we seemed to spend in the school cafeteria. Teenage angst and drama, wan-wan. But even through all that, I kept getting this odd little 2+2 = 5 feeling. Something wasn’t right.

“We all hide our true selves.”


River’s continuing obsession with the Graces (particularly the youngest, a girl named Summer), and numerous other little red flags I kept seeing out of the corner of my eye, had me convinced at about Chapter 18 that something was seriously wrong with our little narrator. She is intriguing and yet insufferably irritating. Her dependence on her new “friends” is disturbing.

I just had to drift along like the ghost I was before, no Summer to anchor me, feeling like the last three months had never happened, and how fragile my existence was without her for even one afternoon.


image
^This is my "getting-a-leeeeetle-creeped-out-now" face.

And then things start to happen fast enough to keep me entertained. I started to suspect everything, everyone, nothing could be as it seemed…or could it? Could it?? What? I stayed up until 11:30 on a work night (I’m usually in bed by 9 or 9:30) to finish it and at the end…well, you saw the WTF already. I was completely blown away. I had to go back and re-read, I had to look for clues. I despise – repeat, abso-freaking-lutely despise – sudden twists that have no buildup. Deus ex machina is never an acceptable plot device with me. Well…Laure Eve isn’t using it. The clues are there. You just have to recognize them. And then, naturally, she pulls a cliffhanger. SUCH a cliffhanger. Like, you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me-that-did-NOTJUSTHAPPEN cliffhanger.

They used truths to tell lies, and they were very good at it.


I had a lot of mixed feelings about this book and had to think about it for awhile before I could rate it. In the end, the things that bothered me so much in the first half brought it down to 3/5 stars. There’s at least one little error in description that REALLY irked me. I still feel all the high school drama fest was really unnecessary. I mean, set the scene and forget it. No one wants to relive the awkwardness and horror of the high school lunch room. Over. And over. In a book, no less.

Besides all that, it was a good story. The characters were interesting when not particularly sympathetic. I love actually being surprised by a book. I’m exceedingly annoyed that I will have to wait an entire year to read the conclusion. If you like twists, off-beat characters, and a bit of pagan woo-woo thrown in definitely give it a try!

Many thanks to Netgalley for providing an early review copy in exchange for an honest review!
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