Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

Publisher: Little, Brown
Age: Young Adult
Species: Fenris/ Human
Rating: 5/5
Interest: Jackson Pearce/ Fairytale/ Hansel and Gretel

Twelve years ago, Gretchen, her twin sister, and her brother went looking for a witch in the forest. They found something. Maybe it was a witch, maybe a monster, they aren’t sure—they were running too fast to tell. Either way, Gretchen’s twin sister was never seen again.

Years later, after being thrown out of their house, Gretchen and Ansel find themselves in Live Oak, South Carolina, a place on the verge of becoming a ghost town. They move in with Sophia Kelly, a young and beautiful chocolatier owner who opens not only her home, but her heart to Gretchen and Ansel.

Yet the witch isn’t gone—it’s here, lurking in the forests of Live Oak, preying on Live Oak girls every year after Sophia Kelly’s infamous chocolate festival. But Gretchen is determined to stop running from witches in the forest, and start fighting back. Alongside Samuel Reynolds, a boy as quick with a gun as he is a sarcastic remark, Gretchen digs deeper into the mystery of not only what the witch is, but how it chooses its victims. Yet the further she investigates, the more she finds herself wondering who the real monster is, and if love can be as deadly as it is beautiful


 ***Contest**** Jackson Pearce is giving away prizes today only on twitter. Until 11:59 EST on August 23rd. Just tweet with the hashtag #Sweetly and you could win.

I love Jackson Pearce, seriously the woman is awesome. If she told me she could breathe fire, I'd probably believe her. I was a little hesitant to read Sweetly at first because I like Jackson so much and I didn't want to not like her second novel.

Turns out I'm an idiot who needs to have more faith in the authors she likes.

I've read Sisters Red and it's awesome. I've read Sweetly and it's even better. Full of delicious candy, dangerous boys, evil witches and mystery galore I couldn't put it down. I'll be the first to admit that Hansel and Gretel was never my favorite fairytale, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and East of the Sun and West of the Moon were the tales I chose to like. Children almost getting eaten by a witch because they munched on a candy house was not for me. I enjoyed candy too much to believe it could be used for evil purposes. Reading Sweetly though I got an entirely new outlook on the story.

Warning: this book will make you hungry. I had to physically get up, stop reading the book and make peanut butter fudge brownies because my sweet tooth was aching so badly. Just reading the descriptions of all the sweet treats Sophie made would probably send a diabetic into sugar shock.

Yummy treats aside, I tried very hard to dislike Sophie. It was obvious from the first time she was talked about that she would be the evil witch in a house of sweets. Still, I really loved her character. Sophie was beautiful, sweet, kind and loving, everything people want to be. In a way she was a candy house on her own, entirely enticing until you saw the evil inside. Pearce wrote her amazingly. Even after I knew she was rotten, knew what she was willing to do, knew what she was doing it for, I still had good feelings for her. Writing a villain that does something as despicable as what Sophie does, but still portraying her in a way that readers understand and have sympathy for her is stunningly brilliant.

Gretchen, ugh I loved that kick-butt girl. Instead of cowering in fear when she found out what took her sister, she decided to fight. She learned to shoot in order to protect her brother, girls she didn't know and to avenge her sister. Even thought it was painful to question a person she came to consider family, she did it. Gretchen was strong and did what she had to despite the consequences to her personal life. I wish more YA heroines would take charge or responsibility for their problems immediately  like her instead of waiting around for something extremely devastating to happen.

Samuel Reynolds, relative of Silas Reynolds (from Sisters Red), was more complicated than I thought to give him credit for. He lost someone he loved deeply at a young age, he's on his own and he hunts werewolves for a town that thinks he's insane. At first I really only saw him as a pretty boy hunter that wold eventually thaw enough to sweep Gretchen off her feet. He was a teacher, a rescuer, a friend, a supporter before Gretchen seriously considered getting involved with him. Samuel didn't change very much during the novel that I could see, but I think he grew on me after a couple of pages.

Ansel was there, but he wasn't in the story. Basically he represented home, the past, and comfort for Gretchen. Beyond that, I didn't see a huge need to have him there. I liked him enough, but couldn't bear it when he temporarily took Sophie's side over his sister's. I know Gretchen sounded insane, talking about werewolves coming to kill young girls. He still should have tried to see her side or at least her reasoning instead of sending her away. Siblings can't be perfect, I understand that, but they should at least be faithful.

Pearce really outdid herself in writing Sweetly. (If you've attended her liveshow or heard her talk about Sweetly, then you know it's the book she didn't think would happen. It was extremely hard for her to write and finish.) All of the stress and work she put into the novel really made it shine. The descriptions were so good my mouth was watering every time Sophie made or even picked up a piece of candy. The plot had so many interesting parts with twists I never saw coming. The characters were entirely themselves, even Gretchen down to her skittle colored hair.

Without a doubt Sweetly is one of my favorite books I've read this year. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes fairytales, danger and candy. Pearce just gets better every time she writes a novel. I can't wait to see the direction her writing ends up going in. So, if you love Jackson Pearce, and even if you don't yet please read this book. It's a great edition to the new trend of fairytale being retold.

Teaser Lines: "I thought that maybe if I made myself stand out, I wouldn't feel so scared of slipping off the world and vanishing like my sister - if people noticed me, they could hold me here." 

Companion Novels:
1. Sisters Red
2. Sweetly
3. Fathomless (To Be Released in 2012)

Happy Reading,

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