Author: A.G. Howard


Oct 12

Review of Roseblood by A.G. Howard

Book Reviews 1 ★★★★★

Review of Roseblood by A.G. HowardRoseBlood by A.G. Howard
Published by Harry N. Abrams on January 10th 2017
Genres: magical realism, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Goodreads five-stars

In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.


Guard your throats and hide your eyes. He’s not dead, you fools. Legends never die.

Roseblood by A.G. Howard was one of my super anticipated reads this year, mainly because I absolutely loved the sweet romance of the only other A.G. Howard book I’ve read, The Architect of Song. Then, I started seeing all these really crappy reviews and I got scared. I wasn’t expecting the next great classic novel or anything (because that is not what Howard ever seems to have tried for her books to be), but I mean…damn, son! Some of the reviews were super salty! So I put it off for awhile, but when I finally picked it up I read it in less than 24 hours. Haters gonna hate. Don’t let it put you off if you enjoy gothic/paranormal stories. This is one for the shelf. However, if you are expecting realism or originality (by the way…no story is completely original, let’s get that straight) off the charts, this book is not for you.

It’s pretty much this dramatic, but thankfully Rune does not share Christine’s affinity for swooning.

Roseblood is a modern gothic novel. And by gothic I mean “portentously gloomy or horrifying.” Not to insult anyone’s intelligence or anything, but I think a lot of readers were expecting something else and when they got over-the-top-gothic-romance they felt kind of let down. Now to me, that sort of book is like a dark chocolate truffle – I don’t read them that often, but when I do I thoroughly enjoy them! This book was exactly what I was expecting after The Architect of Song.


First of all. All her weird abilities/paranormal stuff aside – I LOVE RUNE. SHE KNITS TO KEEP HERSELF CALM AND THE BIGGEST MARK OF HER AFFECTION IS HER MAKING SOMETHING FOR YOU. Ahem. Please excuse all the yelling but the girl is my sister from another mother, I swear. She gets it. She’s a maker, and I love her. Even if she makes some seriously DUMB choices partway through the book. Because of course agreeing to be blindfolded and driven away to a rave is the epitome of smart decision making…oh to be so young and optimistic again. Rune’s problem is unique in the books I have read (not the reasoning behind it that’s eventually revealed, but I’m not giving spoilers). and at times seems a little bit…silly. But I can feel her pain and  the embarrassment it causes her.

Then there is Thorn, who is very attractive and has the saddest back story ever and of course melts our collective heart with his wounded hero-ness. He’s not perfect, which is nice – he’s made some rather crappy choices in life and even though he tries to make amends and be a good person there are all those dark shadows. I like to consider myself immune to wounded heroes, but the truth is…I’m just not.


Ahhhh! The setting is the definition of atmospheric. Rune’s boarding school is set in an old theatre, complete with lonely hidden rooms and dingy passages, old gardens and older chapels. I adore it. I want to live in the gardener’s hut. *wink wink* You’ll have to read it to find out about the hut…Oh, did I mention it’s set in Paris, France? So jealous. I want to visit Europe sooooo badly.


I never lost my interest, all the way through this story. Considering I read this in the middle of one of the worst reading slumps I’ve had in a couple of years, that’s quite an accomplishment. The plot is a little predictable, as most romances/gothics are, but I didn’t think it was so much so as to make it unenjoyable! Also, while this is more of a sequel, of sorts, to the original Phantom of the Opera, there are enough similarities to leave few surprises for someone familiar with the original. Thankfully though, Rune is not the hapless, vapid Christine. I liked the way it was resolved and I really wish there was going to be a sequel!

5/5 stars, 3/5 flames because phew, Rune and Thorn do get the blood flowing just a little bit! If you need a chocolate-truffle-brain-candy sort of book, I highly recommend Roseblood and another of A.G. Howard’s books, The Architect of Song! Oh, and this book would be a PERFECT atmospheric read for Halloween, especially if you’re participating in the Halloween Read-A-Thon. 😉

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Oct 27

Book Review: The Architect of Song

Book Reviews 3 ★★★★

This book totally surprised me. I was not expecting to enjoy it as much as I did, though I was hoping I would. So I was delighted when this was my initial reaction:

Yep. This was one giant dark truffle of deliciousness. I started it one day, and about two chapters in decided I wanted to just sit down and devour it all in one go, so I waited for a weekend day and did just that.

First of all, don’t go into this book expecting something it’s not. This is a gothic historical romance. Period. It doesn’t try to have the next greatest plot twist. In fact it has some of the traditional YA tropes (it’s a NA, btw) that usually drive me to distraction or leave me throwing the book across the room. However, popular plot devices are popular for a reason. They resonate with a large percentage of the human population on some intrinsic level. That doesn’t mean we don’t get tired of them, particularly if you read a lot. What seems new and exciting to someone who reads 2 books a year may seem bland and unoriginal to someone who reads 200. Authors CAN, however, come up with new twists on the tried and true tropes of literature and A.G. Howard has done just that. ANYWAY. Climbing off my soapbox now.

MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD…but nothing too horrible, I promise!

As soon as the book starts, we’re thrown into a very melancholy, VERY Victorian atmosphere. I almost put it down, honestly. I wasn’t in the mood for another book where the heroine simpers and flutters and nearly passes out when the hero gets within 6 inches of her. But I was intrigued…and let’s just say, while yes, the time period is Victorian, the romantic intensity is SO NOT.

Because this is my mental image of the main guy. With slightly longer hair.

Because this is my mental image of the main guy. With slightly longer hair.

There are a few scenes that left me literally fanning myself. Not just because, um, hot bearded guy, either. The history between Juliet and Hawk is just so sweet and it gives so much more intensity to every scene between the two of them. It’s amazing, and heartbreaking, sweet, and at the same time simply smouldering.

The characters in this book are amazing. I was attached to them ALL. I hated A.G. Howard about halfway through for making me care about them ALL, because I wanted to be able to choose. Yes, there is a love triangle in this book (that was the spoiler). Maybe I should have guessed that from the blurb, but since it said ghost…you know…how can you…well. All I can say is well done, well done indeed. I was several chapters in before I was sure that was what was happening, and by that point I was so intrigued and invested that I couldn’t stop reading!

A.G. Howard writes IN COLOR. I swear I could see the colors, the fabrics, the clothes she described just spilling out of the pages. It was amazing. This is the first of her books I’ve read, so I’m not sure if she just always writes that way or if it was a feature of this particular book, but I loved it. I’m not a “clothes person,” but damn if I didn’t want to reach out and touch some of the dresses Juliet was wearing.

The plot is…well, gothic. Semi-tragic. There were SO MANY layers and so many half-truths that about 3/4 of the way through I just wanted to SCREAM because I was just as confused as poor Juliet, whom everyone seems to think needs “protecting” in the form of an elaborately built scheme to keep her “safe.” Geez Louise, people. Our young heroine is deaf, yes, but copes remarkably well and is no shrinking violet, even if she sometimes acts the part. There’s the love triangle. At first I was skeptical, and then I was sympathetic, and then I was panicked, because these two guys…well, they get ALL the hearts. AT FIRST. Then one starts to be controlling, manipulative, and demanding and my little gun-shy heart ran away screaming…but I still felt so sorry for him and wanted him to have a happy ending.

Now, the problems. First, as soon as a guy comes into her life, Juliet loses all focus on everything else, even when at first she had a relatively big goal regarding her estate. She just tosses it all aside for TWU RUV.

I’m sure we’ve all been there, but I hate it when that’s one of the first things to occur in a book. Especially in cases like this, where, as a true Victorian female, Juliet has been sheltered and taught that women shouldn’t have sexual desires like men, and then she just falls into the arms of the first man that waltzes across her path (it takes 149 pages). Le sigh. But ok, it’s a romance. Forgiven…ish.

Then there are a few times when the dialogue sounds like it was supposed to be description. Because honestly, who describes their hair color as “My hair is the warm glimmer of golden coins beneath the sun,” instead of just “My hair is blonde (golden, yellow, fill-in-the-blank-with-one-word)?” Ugh. It was just overkill for me…the flowery descriptions were great, but in dialogue it was just a bit too much.

My hat is off to A.G. Howard for not giving her book the traditional happily-ever-after ending. Oh, there’s plenty to be happy about, don’t get me wrong! But it’s definitely bittersweet, and by being so it’s much more realistic and makes me even more excited for the next one!

Overall, 4 out of 5 stars. I love Juliet and *bleep*. They’re giant dark chocolate truffles and I want to eat them.


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