Pantomime is a bold and freshly different YA debut by Laura Lam. I was completely absorbed by this book, and gripped by the story- which I thought wasPantomime is a bold and freshly different YA debut by Laura Lam. I was completely absorbed by this book, and gripped by the story- which I thought was so clever and extremely moving.
I don't want to give away too much about what this story is about- as it is such a unique and surprising concept, and you really should go into it blind and experience it for yourself! Which makes writing this review extremely difficult! But here are some adjectives- mystical, tense, unique, strange, fascinating, and enchanting.
This is a coming of age/ being true to yourself tale about a young character who runs away to join the circus. There is a twist in the tale that you wouldn't expect, making Pantomime one of those rare amazing books that is captivating and exciting, and I think it's just genius.
Set in the fictional fantasy world of Ellada- it feels like a whole other time and place- but with the attitudes and outlook similar to Victorian England in terms of clothes, traditions and values. But we are also introduced to a world where the old gods are myth and legend, and the Chimeara (the old inhabitants of the world) have left their curious and mystical relics behind.
This gives the book an air of mystery and magic and possibility. There is also a constant undercurrent of tension and danger, as Micah lives in constant fear of being discovered. This is a dark and gritty world, but the mix of fantasy and historical really works.
I loved the descriptions of life in the circus, all the oddball characters, and the contrast between the circus, and flashbacks to Micah's old life. There is magic, relatable characters, hardship, and romance. This is a stunningly beautiful book and one that I highly recommend and will definitely re-read.
More of my reviews can be found on my blog- Always Lost in Stories
Blink Once is a moving and clever story that managed to stun me and left it's impression on me as well. For a fairly short book there is a lot of storBlink Once is a moving and clever story that managed to stun me and left it's impression on me as well. For a fairly short book there is a lot of story, and I liked going into the backgrounds of the two main characters. It has a lot of depth.
Considering that most of the book takes place while main character West is lying in a hospital bed drifting in and out of consciousness the pace never drags or feels like nothing is happening. I liked the shifting between memories, dreams, and real-time action, which gave the narrative a bit of variety, and made finding out about what happened to the characters more interesting.
I especially love how quirky and resourceful Olivia from the room next door is. West at first is determined to be depressed and miserable, but Olivia refuses to let him feel sorry for himself. The couple develop a great bond and are able to be really vulnerable with each other.
Because West can't talk, Olivia is the only one who makes an effort to find a way to communicate with him. While others are busy making decisions for him- Olivia takes the time to ask West what he would like. As even his closest friends don't know how to react around him and gradually stay away, West and Olivia rely on each other more and more heavily.
Blink Once is a beautiful love story between two fragile and damaged characters, West and Olivia, in the last place you would expect to find it- a hospital ward. With a twist I never saw coming, I was thrilled and moved by this book- I really enjoyed it.
More of my reviews can be found on my blog- Always Lost in Stories
I have loved Libba Bray's other books, so I had high expectations when I started this one. And in all honesty... I think this is the best one yet!
TheI have loved Libba Bray's other books, so I had high expectations when I started this one. And in all honesty... I think this is the best one yet!
The Diviners is set in glitzy New York in the 1920s, and I loved how "big picture" the story is- it really gives a slice of New York life from characters from all parts of the city, and from all walks of life. There are so many great characters I can't mention them all, but the author brilliantly gives life to a rebellious 17 year-old girl, a cocky thief, a hardworking African-American teenager, a shy museum assistant, and a sinister serial killer determined to fulfill a religious prophecy.
The fantastic snapshots of the pasts of various characters gave them such a depth, and made the book even more emotional. (Flapper dancer Theta's back story especially made me tear up). And it was interesting how all the characters began with their own stories and then seemed to move together as the plotlines converged.
The portrayal of vibrant 1920s New York is also fabulous- the fashion, the changing attitudes, and the glitz and glamour of it all. I really enjoyed Evie's passion for life, the flappers and the speakeasies, and of course her 1920s lingo. It always made me smile every time she exclaimed that something was "the cat's pajamas", or something similar (I think my favourite one was "the elephant's eyebrows"!)
But it also shows us the darker side of New York, the poverty and the characters who are scraping together a living on the fringes of society. This book has so many layers to it, it has so much depth, and unexpected plot twists and turns, with Libba Bray's trademark ability to weave together a wonderful and complex story that keeps it's witty side element of humour to it as well, with some excellent banter between Evie and Sam, that shows off their larger than life personalities.
Featuring a seance, a serial killer, ghosts, and people with special powers, this book is spine-chillingly creepy in places (terrifying actually!) but it also manages to be heartbreaking, fun, kooky, magical, and a little bit romantic as well.
I don't think a review can do this story justice, because there are so many wonderful things about it- from the fantastic mix of vibrant characters, the depth of the narrative, the beautiful writing that really transports you into the world of the book, and the atmospheric historical New York backdrop. I was mesmerised and enchanted- and despite this being quite a long book at around 600 pages it never dragged or felt dull.
This book makes it into the ranks of my favourite books of all time. I cannot recommend it enough- a dazzling masterpiece of a book. ...more
Book 2 in the Ashes series Either I've forgotten how gory the first book is, or this book is even more gory. It is definitely very tragic, extremely blBook 2 in the Ashes series Either I've forgotten how gory the first book is, or this book is even more gory. It is definitely very tragic, extremely bloodthirsty and harsh. Prior warning- characters will get murdered and tortured in the most horrific ways.
Alex has to be one of the toughest heroines I have ever known. She has some serious survival skills, and an unwavering determination to overcome any obstacle, whether enemy, illness or injury.
This is quite a traumatic story. Nevertheless I loved this book, and I just love this series. These character's hardships and struggle to survive, to bond together and strive to find each other again in a world gone to hell made such a compelling and emotional read for me.
Most of this book is told from different perspectives, as different characters travel their own journeys toward each other again. There are so many layers to the book, and so many turns in the story, that you never know where it's going to take you next, and it has such a compelling cast of characters that you really root for.
After THAT shocking cliffhanger ending in Ashes I was dying to get ahold of this next book, and it didn't disappoint- I was gripped. But there is another shocking and dramatic cliff-hanger, and it's a long wait to book 3!
I know now that Ilsa Bick's books are real character driven page-turners, and this author is an auto-buy for me. ...more
Tiger Lily is a brilliantly imaginative re-working of the Peter Pan story, showing a love story between Peter and Tiger Lily before Wendy came into thTiger Lily is a brilliantly imaginative re-working of the Peter Pan story, showing a love story between Peter and Tiger Lily before Wendy came into the picture, and telling us a different version of the original tale. It focuses on Tiger Lily's life with the tribe, and the links between all the different characters.
It is also told from Tink the fairy's point of view, as she spies from various perspectives on her favourite personalities like we might watch soap operas unfolding, and this gives a unique edge to the narration. It gives us an insight into different aspects of the island and the characters on it.
The whole book feels full of magic and possibility, but there are dark patches as well, and it's not a light and easy read. There is a subtle undercurrent of menace all the way through- with the pirates scheming and the murderous mermaids, not to mention Tiger Lily's pending arranged marriage with a nasty brute of a man. I liked the magic and the sense of suspense as we are led through this doomed forbidden romance, and the beautifully and richly described land of Neverland.
Reading about Captain Hook, the mermaids and Tiger lily, and all these half- remembered characters from my childhood has made me want to re-visit J.M Barrie's original story (or at least watch the Disney film again), as it felt so new and vaguely familiar all at the same time.
Tiger Lily herself is a feisty and strong young woman- which is not a quality which is admired in her tribe. She gets a reputation for being cursed, and being bad luck (which she plays up by wearing crows feathers in her hair), and although she is independent and brave, she is also very lonely. Normally it takes a lot for her to open her heart up to anybody except her adoptive father, so it takes a while for Peter to break down her barriers.
Although Peter Pan himself doesn't came out as a very great character in this version of the story, I liked the telling of it, and that the emphasis was on alternative characters. One of my favourite characters has to be Tiger Lily's cross-dressing adoptive father -the shaman of the village Tik Tok. He always made me smile, and I also loved her sweet best friend Pine Sap. His devotion to Tiger Lily is so endearing. I really loved to hate the mean-spirited character of Aunt Fire who seems determined to make Tiger Lily suffer.
All in all, the book is a clever, mesmerising read, and I would describe it as a fantasy story but with the feel of a contemporary. It's moving and sad in places, heart-warming and magical in others, but it has definitely left a stamp on me. It's a bleaker story than I was expecting to read but just beautifully lyrical in the telling, and heart-breakingly tender. ...more
Reading this book is like falling down the rabbit hole- that sort of feeling that while you're lost in the world of this book ANYTHING can happen. AndReading this book is like falling down the rabbit hole- that sort of feeling that while you're lost in the world of this book ANYTHING can happen. And with talking dogs, time loops, peculiar children with special powers, and bedtime stories that come true, anything really can happen.
I love these books. Hollow Children is exciting, sweet, thrilling and mystical, and great fun as well.
It's so different from other books because you know that the strange and intriguing photographs scattered throughout the pages not only illustrate a concept in the story, but are also genuine interesting old photographs that the author has collected and is generating a story around them. It is a very unique and interesting way to read a book.
In Hollow Children we are off of the island of Cairnholm, and see a wider picture of the different loops and different groups. I love that there is travel involved in this book, making it different from the closed setting of the first book, and it feels like a real old-fashioned adventure. The children are on the run, and could be found or captured at any time- so there is also a real feeling of menace at times running through the book.
With Miss Peregrine stuck in bird form, Wights and Hollows chasing them at every turn and following sparse clues and gut feeling, their adventure really is moment to moment, and feels like a dramatic race against the clock. Whether stranded at sea, captured by gypsies, losing their money, or escaping the bombs falling in wartime London, each new experience is a trial to be got through, while figuring out what to do next.
Because Jacob has gone back into the past with the setting of 1940s England, you get a real feeling of nostalgia, and it helps that Riggs writing is very atmospheric. He really brings the book to life, and at times you can almost imagine it as a screenplay. It feels very vivid and easy to picture (even without the addition of the photographs!).
The group of characters really complement each other nicely- their personalities and unique powers all come in useful at different points in the story, so that everyone in the whole collective is as important as the other. Different skills are needed in different situations. And their banter and quirkiness makes for a very fun read as well. They really are their own little family and both very supportive and protective of each other, but also very quick to criticise and tease in the way that all brothers and sisters do. But I really enjoyed the conversation between them.
It's a sweet book and clever and thrilling at the same time. Hollow Children is of course an absolute must-read for fans of Miss Peregrine's, and as a sequel it doesn't disappoint, but is fun and engaging as the first book.
More of my reviews can be found on my blog- Always Lost in Stories
There has been a deluge of dystopian YA fiction lately, and although I still LOVE it and want to read more- sometimes these worlds and stories all staThere has been a deluge of dystopian YA fiction lately, and although I still LOVE it and want to read more- sometimes these worlds and stories all start to blend together in my head. However, Crewel is a completely unique take on a fantasy futuristic world, and so different from anything else, that it really stands out.
It is based on the idea that the world around the characters is woven and created by a group of women called Spinsters, who have developed the unique power of "weaving" the world around them. Everything can be controlled on the looms from the amount of rainfall, to the growth of trees and plants, and if an area shows signs of rebellion- it can be destroyed with one rip.
For the first quarter of the book or so I was a bit confused and baffled as I struggled to get my head around the concepts in the book. The world building was sometimes a little bit complex and you need to be paying attention to understand it, but that complexity and depth of description also meant that it felt very impressive and very convincing. The whole atmosphere of the book begins to feel more dangerous and menacing as we begin to discover more about the Spinsters and their power along with main character Adelice.
Adelice has been raised in a quiet and inconspicuous sector of Arras, living a poor but happy life with her parents and her sister. Her mother had been aware of Adelice's power from an early age, and had been trying to teach Adelice to conceal it, so that when it came time to be tested- she wouldn't have to join the Spinsters. But Adelice's power is exceptionally strong, and she finds that she can weave time and matter easily- even without the loom.
I really enjoyed discovering this exceptional world along with Adelice, as she gets deeper and deeper into the heart of the power of this corrupt and dangerous world, and learns more about the truth of the Spinsters. She is a very determined and head-strong girl, and not afraid to stand up to her superior Maela when she sees something she thinks is wrong, although she is sometimes a little naive because of her sheltered upbringing.
Some of the characters seem pretty evil- the kind of bad guys who believe that they are doing what is right and good, but there is a brilliant cast of a range of different characters. One of my favourite characters is gruff servant Jost and his story, and the friendship and attraction that gradually develops between him and Adelice.
This story is imaginative and thrilling. There are subplots of love and betrayal, and I liked that you could never guess which direction the story was going to take next. Beautifully written, multi-layered and completely surprising- a must read for fans of sci-fi or dystopia.
-------------------------------------------------------- More of my reviews can be found on my blog- Always Lost in Stories