I liked it! A creepy but clever book that felt to me like a mashup of Frankenstein and the TV series Lost. Plenty of twists and turns and slow revelati...moreI liked it! A creepy but clever book that felt to me like a mashup of Frankenstein and the TV series Lost. Plenty of twists and turns and slow revelations that kept it interesting too. (less)
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!
The...moreI 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. (less)
I love this series and wanted it to keep going. I still love this series, but I feel that in this novella nothing really happened! Loose ends still ha...moreI love this series and wanted it to keep going. I still love this series, but I feel that in this novella nothing really happened! Loose ends still hanging! (less)
Shadows on the Moon is so beautiful- just mystical, magical and emotional. It is original and fun and I absolutely loved the story, the characters and...moreShadows on the Moon is so beautiful- just mystical, magical and emotional. It is original and fun and I absolutely loved the story, the characters and the romance... When I was reading this novel I was so completely immersed in this world- and I want to live there! The book is very loosely based in feudal Japan, and it works so well- making the world feel exotic and mystical. I loved the oriental setting and the different customs, and despite it's historical setting and the feeling of other-worldliness I still completely connected with the characters and their lives. I really enjoyed reading about the carriages, the kimonos, tea, and dancing, and it made a really nice change. It is beautifully written and so vivid- this is a compelling adventure that really focuses on the rollercoaster of emotional turmoil of the characters- Suzume's feelings of grief and betrayal, and her burgeoning attraction to a foreign explorer. Suzume is a shadow weaver, which means that she can manipulate the space around her to alter her appearance at will. It is what allows her to escape when the soldiers come to her house and kill her father and her cousin. Initially her powers are useful to her to hide her scars, or to plaster a false congenial smile on her face, when really she is seething with anger. Ultimately, she decides to use her ability to hide from her father's murderer whilst spying on him, and to plot to exact revenge on the people who murdered her family and destroyed her life. Two great characters in this novel are Suzume's teachers Youta and Akiva, people who believe in her, befriend her, and encourage her at different points in her life. Both of these characters, despite being so different from each other, are needed to support and drive Suzume, encouraging her in her powers, and making her feel less alone. Suzume's journey is fraught and tragic, but as she not only develops her powers over time, she also transforms from a naive and helpless girl into a self-determined and independent young woman. Although sometimes I wanted to shake her for her bad choices, Suzume is a great strong-willed character, but she becomes obsessed with one sole idea, and refuses to let go of the past and see the potential future right in front of her. In her struggle to work toward her revenge (and at times just to survive) Suzume changes her identity and alternately spends time as a lady, disguised as a kitchen drudge, and finally as a courtesan. As a shadow weaver himself, Otieno can see through Suzume's illusions and recognise her anywhere. I loved to see the relationship develop between these two over time, and see how a friendship built on trust gradually developed into something more. He is the only person who really gets her. Otieno is such a great character because in contrast to the way Suzume has been brought up where everyone is formal and stiff, he shows all his emotions in his expression, and freely laughs and jokes about, and accepts everyone at face value- regardless of their social standing. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and is just the perfect blend of loyal, good and dangerous. I found myself rooting for this couple through all their struggles and separations, and just hoping that they got a happy ending. I'm not sure how many times now I've said this story is beautiful, but I'm going to say it again- this story really is beautiful, and manages to feel sweet and moving, despite dealing with themes of death and vengeance. It is a book that I could happily read again and again for the setting, the magic, the endearing characters, and the lyrical writing style. (less)
This book is so good- the kind of book that leaves me with a warm contented glow- that kind of good. It transported me to another time a...more4.5 of 5 stars
This book is so good- the kind of book that leaves me with a warm contented glow- that kind of good. It transported me to another time and place and I really didn't want to put it down. This is a book that has definitely stolen my heart.
It's got a little bit of everything that I enjoy. Set in 1870s London it has a vivid Dickensian kind of setting- with funny rough-around-the-edges characters, a mystery, a handsome stranger, and a twist on faerie lore thrown in as well! A perfect blend of historical fiction, magic and romance.
Tiki lives with a band of young pickpockets in an abandoned shop just off Charing Cross station, with a reputation for being one of the fastest thieves around. She has caught the attention of Rieker- another local thief, and when she manages to steal a truce ring belonging to none other than Queen Victoria, she also catches the eye of Prince Leopold, and unfortunately, the Unseelie fey as well.
Tiki is such a caring and feisty heroine- a real tomboy with a hero complex, and has such a determination about her. I thought it was so powerful, the way she would do anything to look after her adopted family of ragamuffins. I loved her voice, and her sarcasm and optimism all at the same time. The best kind of heroine because she is so independent and brave, but resourceful and kind.
And I also loved the character of Rieker, just because he was such an enigma- alternately protective and then so secretive that you know that there is more to him, and are never sure that what he says can be trusted. It definitely keeps you guessing right up until the end.
Here is one of my favourite parts of the book-
"you're not just a pickpocket with fast hands." Rieker's eyes locked on hers. "I found a girl caring for other orphans like a mother. A girl who'd befriended an old bookshop keeper who had lost his only daughter. A girl who can read and is helping others learn to read." His voice softened. "And a girl so beautiful at times, you take my breath away."
A sweeping story that takes you right through London from the slums and hidden back-alleys, to the elegant balls of Buckingham Palace, and then even a glimpse of faerie realms as well. Beautiful, magical and vivid as well.
This book is so incredible. It is fun, fresh, moving and heart-wrenching, and I loved the mixture of quirky characters, the Victorian hardships, and magical powers, and the twists and surprises in the story. The Faerie Ring is a really different spin on a YA paranormal story, and it works so well.(less)
3.5/5 stars 'The Vespertine' is a dreamily elegant and haunting historical romance set in Baltimore in 1889. It starts off with our main character Amel...more3.5/5 stars 'The Vespertine' is a dreamily elegant and haunting historical romance set in Baltimore in 1889. It starts off with our main character Amelia Van Den Broek in the autumn of 1889 locked in an attic-almost mad and suicidal- lamenting the summer gone past, before she was "ruined". We then jump to the Spring of that year, and are introduced to Amelia as a sunny, excited, optimistic young girl arriving in Baltimore for the season, awe-struck by her surroundings, sent by her brother to hopefully make a good marriage match. The tale then begins to show how she went from hopeful, happy and naive, to alone and despairing. We begin to discover what happened to her that summer. It is a little slow to begin with, but the story does pick up the pace, so it is worth sticking with, and it begins to take you in an unexpected direction that you wouldn't see coming at first, and I loved the ending. There is a small element of magic and mystery in the story, but not enough to distract you from the historical. The author has weaved the supernatural seamlessly into the story, while still leaving you with the impression that you are actually there in nineteenth century Baltimore. Amelia has a gift of seeing glimpses of the future at sunset, but it is her innocence, in how she uses that power and others judgement/perception of this power that is her downfall. The forbidden relationship that gradually forms between Amelia and Nathaniel, a struggling artist is moving and beautiful. She is drawn to him even though she knows that she shouldn't be, and their meetings and interactions are limited by the expected propriety of the time. But their feelings quickly advance to love and Amelia finds that she can't give him up. You feel an ominous sense of looming disaster from knowing from the first chapter that their romance cannot end well, yet you are compelled to know what happens. Amelia's cousin Zora who she quickly forms a warm friendship with stops her from making too many mistakes and guides Amelia through the ettiquette of society, helping her choose her cards and dresses. These two genuinely look out for each other, and when tragedy strikes, leaves you feeling in pain for their suffering. If you love a victorian setting, lyrical prose, and a mystical love story, give this one a try.
ARC thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishers and netgalley.com(less)
This book was absolutely amazing! It had me alternately crying, laughing, gripped on the edge of my seat in anticipation, and in awe of its beautiful...moreThis book was absolutely amazing! It had me alternately crying, laughing, gripped on the edge of my seat in anticipation, and in awe of its beautiful writing.
At the start of the book, I really didn't like Andi at all- she is a bit of a spoiled brat, and mopes about in an attention-seeking way. She is depressed and lost, and angrily takes it out on the rest of the world. I loved her as a character, but I didn't like her personality (if that makes sense!).
She needed to be a pill-popping angry depressed teenager to show how much she grows and changes through her journey. It is only when she is taken out of the poisonous atmosphere of her exclusive high school, with it's drinking and drug-taking, and is taken to Paris with her Dad, that she really comes back to herself, and we see how smart, and normal she is.
When she finds the diary of a young street actress from the time of the French Revolution she becomes completely entranced by her story and lost in the world of the court of the French Revolution. I loved the mystery around the young prince and the gradual unravelling of this second storyline through the diary.
In 1795 Alexandrine, a poor singer and theatre player, gets a job working at the palace and is caught up right in the middle of the events as they unfold. Her position gives her an insight into the full spectrum of that society, from the Royal family right down to the street beggars. She knows some of the secrets of the time- like who sets the forbidden fireworks off into the sky and influenced the composer Malherbeau, and she is the one who through her diary can possibly tell Andi what finally happened to the lost prince. Her tale is hauntingly heart-breaking.
Andi has had a very difficult time since her brother's death, and hasn't had anyone to lean on. Her mother completely fell apart and refuses to leave the house, and Andi has had to be the one to care for her. Her Dad only focuses on work and doesn't even notice her until she stops doing well at school.
Initially, all Andi wants is to quickly finish her school project so that she can bribe her Dad to let her go back home, but gradually she begins to recognise where she is, and she becomes so engrossed with not only her own research but also with what happened to to Alex and Louis-Charles, and her Dad's scientific approach to finding out the truth.
She also gets distracted by a certain musician she befriends on her travels. Virgil is a great character that definitely adds an edge to the story, but isn't a focal point in it. Actually there are so many wonderful minor characters that enrich the background of the story.
I just loved the way that all the threads of the story were all connected and subtly intertwined. Everything that is going on in Andi's life, from her fascination of the (fictional) composer Malherbeau, to her Dad's research into genetics, her brother's death years before, to her reading of Alex's diary and the events of hundreds of years ago- it is all cleverly linked and tied together. I was dying to find out the truth of what had happened to Alex and the young prince Louis-Charles, and always wanted to keep reading just a little bit more, to have the mystery solved.
The other thing that I really enjoyed was the fact that although the author has obviously done a lot of research into the French Revolution, it never comes across a lecture about that time period, and I never got a feeling that all the research was being shoved into the story in a "look at all this stuff I've found out" way. Rather, it is just there as a part of the story telling, and written seamlessly into the narrative. I feel like I learned a lot from this book more because of how Andi's passion and enthusiam for music, her Dad's passion for science and research, and Guillaume's passion for French history, came through so well, and their passion was just infectious.
Vivid and completely captivating- no review can do the genius of this book justice. Donnelly has managed to mesh a gripping historical novel and an emotional contemporary story with a complex multi-layered plot.
Book 2 in The Infernal Devices series Wow! Amazing, brilliant, fantastic, wonderful.... can I give this book 6 stars out of 5?! I absolutely love the wa...moreBook 2 in The Infernal Devices series Wow! Amazing, brilliant, fantastic, wonderful.... can I give this book 6 stars out of 5?! I absolutely love the way that Cassandra Clare writes. I love the Mortal Instruments series, and I love this series as well. All the books manage to be beautiful, exciting, powerful, and passionate and with a real emotional punch to them. But the thing I love most about these books is how clever they are. I absolutely love the witty humour about them- the bickering and the camaradery of the banter between the characters is so FUNNY. How can a book put a big grin on my face with it's jokes and then five minutes later break my heart with some emotional revelation? I don't know, but somehow this book manages it. Actually, I change my mind- I think the thing I love most about these books is the romance plotline running through them. This side of the storyline is so well written and there is no insta-love or leap of the imagination to believe in it. I just adore both Jem and Will, and this book has left my head spinning so much that I honestly can't pick between them anymore! Tessa is swept up in their world, and caught up in all the drama of the scheming and demon-hunting around them. There is a real "OH" moment in this book- one of those moments where suddenly everything is explained and everything fits into place. There is a reason why Will behaved like such a jerk in book 1 (and it's a really good reason!), and suddenly we see a completely different side to Will. A vulnerable and self-sacrificing side. We also see some of Will's history, and find out that he is not actually an orphan, but that there are family secrets hidden away. All of them living within the institute have a real bond together, and they have created a family among themselves that was so heart-warming. We hear more about Charlotte and Henry's story, which made me love them even more. In this book Tessa really starts to feel like a useful and vital part of the team, helping to formulate their plans of attack and using her unusual powers for their benefit. She easily seems to fit in as part of the family of the Institute. Having the book set in Victorian London just adds to the brilliance for me, as manners and conventions and dress codes must be followed, but there is a mix of traditional objects like carriages and this steampunk element of clockwork machines and mythical Victorian technology. It is also a world where warlocks and vampires exist but this secret other world hidden from the "Mundanes". I think the reason it took me so long to finish reading this book isn't because it is too long or it couldn't hold my attention but because I didn't want to put the book down and move on to the next book. I love living in the world created by these stories- shadowhunters, demons, vampires, and clockwork creatures and the fantastic sense of emotional ties, and the drama of the plotlines, and I didn't want to walk away from it, or the constant sense of suspense wondering what will happen next. With characters that are real and flawed, betrayals from within the Institute itself, curses, secret affairs, evil villains and a complex and passionate love triangle, this book is seriously recommended to anyone who loves a good fantasy story, a good tragic love story, or even just a good story! Book 3 can't come soon enough! (less)