I found this book intriguing, I was initially drawn in the by the premise, but it just moved a bit too slowly for me to enjoy it more. It's certainlyI found this book intriguing, I was initially drawn in the by the premise, but it just moved a bit too slowly for me to enjoy it more. It's certainly filled with mystery and intrigue, the tension is slowly pushed higher and higher as the book goes on. There were just some slow moments that bothered me. And I do wish the mythology had been a bit more clear at times. Which goddess of hope was Nadia? Greek? Roman? Norse? A little more world-building/backstory could've helped.
Of course, I would definitely recommend this book to those looking to read an intriguing mix of mythology, mystery, romance, and an interesting cast of characters. It has all of those in spades....more
After the Affair of the Clockwork Scarab, Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes are eager to help Princess Alix with a new case. Seventeen-year-old Willa AstAfter the Affair of the Clockwork Scarab, Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes are eager to help Princess Alix with a new case. Seventeen-year-old Willa Aston is obsessed with spiritual mediums, convinced she is speaking with her mother from beyond the grave. What seems like a case of spiritualist fraud quickly devolves into something far more menacing: someone is trying to make Willa "appear lunatic," using an innocent-looking spiritglass to control her. The list of clues piles up: an unexpected murder, a gang of pickpockets, and the return of vampires to London. But are these events connected? As Uncle Sherlock would say, "there are no coincidences." It will take all of Mina's wit and Evaline's muscle to keep London's sinister underground at bay.
The Spiritglass Charade is a return to an intriguing late 19th century London, a city technologically advanced in some ways and stunted in others. It's a return to a city filled with secrets, with dark corners and even darker figures. It's a return to the most intelligent Mina Holmes and the most intrepid Evaline Stoker, a return to their ongoing adventures and discoveries.
What's refreshing is that Mina and Evaline haven't changed a single bit. They're still the same young women from the previous book. One is all-knowing, all-presuming, all-problem solving, and the other is strong and fierce, ready to take up arms and fight back against evil. A mismatched couple, to be sure, but they're slowly coming to understand each other. Both their strengths and their weaknesses are highlighted throughout this mystery involving ghosts, spiritualists, and vampires.
I am wholly intrigued by the setting and the world-building. The mixture of the late Victorian era time period, the inclusion of steam and clockwork-based technology, the lack of electricity, the hints of time travel, the vampires. But the combination of Holmes, a fictional character, and Stoker, a real life writer/author make it hard to suspend my disbelief. There's a tiny scrap of it remaining, and it's because of this. This story is interesting, the characters are complicated, but this one small part still bothers me, and it probably will throughout the series.
But I'm still curious, still interested, still entranced by the mysteries that weave themselves around Mina and Evaline. More questions are asked this time around with only a few answered, and I'm still left wondering about the origins and motives of almost every other character. Mainly Pix. Who is he? If you enjoyed the previous book, if you're interested in steampunk mysteries with clever and flawed leading ladies, you'l probably enjoy this.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)...more
Lucy Darrington has no choice but to run away from boarding school. Her father, an expert on the supernatural, has been away for too long while doingLucy Darrington has no choice but to run away from boarding school. Her father, an expert on the supernatural, has been away for too long while doing research in Saarthe, a remote territory in the Pacific Northwest populated by towering redwoods, timber barons, and the Lupine people. But upon arriving she learns her father is missing, and rumor has it he's gone in search of dreamwood, a rare tree with magical properties that just might hold the cure for the blight that's ravaging the forests of Saarthe. Determined to find her father (and possibly save Saarthe), Lucy and a rather stubborn boy maned Pete follow William Darrington's trail to the deadly woods on Devil's Thumb. As they encounter Lupine princesses, giant sea serpents, and all manner of terrifying creatures, Lucy hasn't reckoned that the dreamwood itself might be the greatest threat of all.
Dreamwood is a mysterious and magical adventure into the forest, a quite possibly dangerous journey for a young girl searching for her missing father and her newfound friend.
I rather like Lucy as a main character. She's head-strong, determined, intelligent, and she doesn't believe in giving up or turning back. She trusts her father. She has faith in what he believes, in what they both believe about ghosts and spirits. When she hears that he's gone missing she does worry about him, like most children would worry about their remaining parent, and she decides to find him. Even though there is the possibility that she won't find him, or that he's died during this search of his, she continues on. Lucy must see this journey through the forest to the Devil's Thumb to the end. She has her worries, her fears, but she continues on.
The forests of Saarthe are rather haunting and magical. Lucy and Pete know to watch themselves as they search for Lucy's father and the long-lost dreamwood. They know the stories, they know ghosts could be lurking in the shadows. The setting is rather crisp and clear, the images of the faces in the trees and the sticks and mud under their boots are well-described by Mackey's prose. With all the nature, all the stories and ghosts and possible magic, I wondered if this book is meant to be a commentary on the relationship between nature and industry, how the landscape changes as technology comes in. Loggers, electricity. They're at odds with the Lupine and their roots.
In some ways I think this book is a growing period for Lucy. She has strength and character at the start, but over the course of the book she gains more. She faces down a forest that tries to get rid of her. She slowly gains a friend, one who sees beyond the ghost and spirit talk she's so interested in. She refuses to give up on her father. I would certainly recommend this to those looking for a new standalone middle grade book with historical and fantasy elements grounded by a very intelligent heroine....more
In the town of Jericho, a group of misfit teenagers haunts the underbelly of their society. Armed with the ability to manipulate different parts of naIn the town of Jericho, a group of misfit teenagers haunts the underbelly of their society. Armed with the ability to manipulate different parts of nature, these teenagers fight for their right to stay alive. In the months following an attack on their lives, danger still lurks around them. Those behind the original strike have risen from the ashes, and new powers are beginning to reveal themselves. With this mysterious threat imminent, Mara, Miyuki, and the rest of the Unusuals must stand together to fight. However, time is running out for the group because someone, or something, is hunting them, and this time around, not all of them will survive.
Miyuki is a return to dangerous, secretive Jericho, a town where people who are different are feared and quite often hunted down, a town where some rather unusual teenagers are fighting back while also winging it a bit.
The group is back, complete with Mara, Miles, Miyuki, Chris, Alex, and Terry. After meeting The Stranger and knowing what he's up to, they continue training in order to fight back, to push back, to save the others like them and put a stop to the death and slaughter. Mara's continued anger at her brother fuel her need for revenge and she struggles to move on from it, to focus on the task at hand, but it sounds like there's something dark in her past concerning him. Miyuki is focused more on finding others like them and keeping them safe. Like before, the two girls clash, perhaps because they both want to be in charge, both attempt to direct the action and their mission.
Enemies abound in this story both old and new. Danger is always following them, watching them. People are still after the Unusuals, wanting to find them, stop them, kill them. Things get dangerous rather quickly.
It felt like things were happening a lot faster in this book than in the first book. There is some back story at the beginning, some reminding, but then it seems to jump right into the action, right into the suspense and the fighting. Now that they know what they are, that they're not alone, that they're hunted, they're forced to fight for their lives. I hope that the next installment will come soon because, after that ending, I'm desperate to know what happens next. And I'm still shocked about who died. Wow....more
If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiIf you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you're going to fall in love with this anthology. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there's something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.
My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories is an entertaining anthology filled with stories of love, of finding people and uncovering secrets, and of the winter holiday season.
As it's an anthology, it's a bit hard to review, so hopefully you'll forgive the non-standard review today. I could talk about every story, but I don't want to. Partially because that would take a long time, and partially because I imagine I'm not the only one who likes going into anthology not knowing what I'll get. But I will attempt to describe what each story has.
Some are contemporary and some are fantasy. All have endings, happy or sad or contemplative. All have different characters with their own thoughts and feelings towards the holiday season, joy or sadness or hatred. And all were searching for something, searching for meaning in the holiday, searching for someone to spend it with, searching for the truth. Searching for themselves. There were some I liked more than others, some I wished were longer or shorter. I hoped for more than one LGBTQ story. But all in all, it was a fun, sweet anthology. One I would definitely read again over the holiday season.
(I received an e-galley of this title from Macmillan through NetGalley.)...more
Dusty Everhart might be able to predict the future through the dreams of her crush, Eli Booker, but that doesn't make her life even remotely easy. WheDusty Everhart might be able to predict the future through the dreams of her crush, Eli Booker, but that doesn't make her life even remotely easy. When one of her mermaid friends is viciously assaulted and left for dead, and the school's jokester, Lance Rathbone, is accused of the crime, Dusty's as shocked as everybody else. Lance needs Dusty to prove his innocence by finding the real attacker, but that's easier asked than done. Eli's dreams are no help, more nightmares than prophecies. To make matters worse, Dusty's ex-boyfriend has just been acquitted of conspiracy and is now back at school, reminding Dusty of why she fell for him in the first place. The Magi Senate needs Dusty to get close to him, to discover his real motives. But this order infuriates Eli, who has started his own campaign for Dusty's heart. As Dusty takes on both cases, she begins to suspect they're connected to something bigger. And there's something very wrong with Eli's dreams, signs that point to a darker plot than they could have ever imagined.
The Nightmare Dilemma is dark and dangerous. Here we have the return of an unlikely detective and her friends investigating the curious and the deadly at their magical boarding school. Unfortunately for me, I felt something was missing from the first book.
This time around, after revealing some secrets and getting tossed around in more ways than one, Dusty is torn between a lot of things. Between getting on with her life post-Marrow, getting back to school, and doing what's asked of her. Between Eli, the other half of her Dream Team, and Paul, her ex-boyfriend who was part of the plot that changed everyone and their magic. Between worrying and not worrying over her mother, whose morals are questionable.
There were times where it felt like the love triangle/romance situation was taking over the mystery. Dusty and Eli are teens with normal teen angst and hormones and emotions, yes, but it just seemed like the romance was taking over, that Dusty was worrying more about how she felt for both Eli and Paul instead of worrying about her classmate's assault, what might happen next, and her nightmares. If she didn't want to deal with Paul, as she sort of doesn't, she could've said no when asked to spy on him.
I sort of miss Dusty from the first book. This Dusty has a huge weight on her shoulders. She's tired, stretched thin, she can't move beyond the image in her nightmares or her feelings for Eli (who avoids her) and Paul (who doesn't want her to avoid him). There's still some spunk, some snark, but not as much, and I'm wondering if that's because things have changed. I didn't necessarily like this one as much as the first, but I'm still curious as to what the next book will bring....more
Clementine DeVore spent ten years trapped in a cellar, pinned down by willow roots, silenced and forgotten. Now she's out and determined to uncover whClementine DeVore spent ten years trapped in a cellar, pinned down by willow roots, silenced and forgotten. Now she's out and determined to uncover who put her in that cellar and why. When Clementine was a child, dangerous and inexplicable things started happening in New South Bend. The townsfolk blamed the fiendish people out in the Willows and burned their homes to the ground. But magic kept Clementine alive, walled up in the cellar for ten years, until a boy named Fisher sets her free. Back in the world, Clementine sets out to discover what happened all those years ago. But the truth gets muddled in her dangerous attraction to Fisher, the politics of New South Bend, and the Hollow, a fickle and terrifying place that seems increasingly temperamental ever since Clementine reemerged.
Fiendish is a darkly magical tale of a girl hidden away and the changes she finds in her small town when she wakes up. The townsfolk know about those who live off in the woods, they know about their magic. And they fear it. But now that Clementine is free, something's coming, and it's not just that it's coming. It's that it's coming back.
Clementine's voice sounds a bit young, but it fits. The innocence in her voice makes sense. Locked away in a cellar for ten years, her body aging as her personality sort of stays the same. Her way of being rather blunt and matter of fact at times. It all makes sense. And perhaps that's why she's the only one who really wants to investigate what's happening. Because she doesn't know what's been going on, she's slightly set apart from the divide between the normal townsfolk and those like her and her cousin. Those with magic in them. She just has to know why she was locked away. And she just wants to do the right thing. She wants to help everyone. Especially Fisher.
Like Brenna Yovanoff's past books, the mood and setting are quite chilling, similar to The Replacement. The Hollow especially, filled as it is with magic and dark and dangerous things. With the magic everywhere, creeping out, reaching out, I was never sure what would pop up next, but I knew it would be frightening.
This is a definite must-read for fans of Brenna's past books, for fans of magical realism with hints of horror and monsters. Yes, it's set in a creepy place with creepy people and creepy monsters, but it's still about this one girl brave enough to search for the truth. A girl brave enough to stand up and protect those she cares about.
Welcome to Gardnerville. A place where no one gets sick. And no one ever dies. Except there's a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the straWelcome to Gardnerville. A place where no one gets sick. And no one ever dies. Except there's a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the strange power that fuels the town exacts its payment by infecting teens with deadly urges. In a normal year in Gardnerville, teens might stop talking to their best friends. In a fourth year, they'd kill them. Four years ago, Skylar's sister, Piper, was locked away after leading sixteen of her classmates to a watery grave. Since then, Skylar has lived in a numb haze, struggling to forget her past and dull the pain of losing her sister. But the secrets and memories Piper left behind keep taunting Skylar, whispering that the only way to get her sister back is to stop Gardnerville's murderous cycle once and for all.
(Don't You) Forget About Me is bizarre and complicated, a trip to a town hidden away, a town where anything can happen. A town where you're extra cautious every four years because you don't want to be the one who goes off. Intriguing but strange, more depressing than entertaining.
Skylar is lost, still floundering after her older sister was taken away four years before. All she has are her memories of Piper, of their time together, and all she wants is to get her back. But nothing is as it seems in Gardnerville. Even Skylar, with her taste for secrets and her drug habit. All she has are her memories, and all she wants to do is forget.
A lot of this book has to do with memories, with what has happened in the past coming back to impact the present, and with burying those memories in order to continue living. Even if it means living a lie. Sometimes it's easier to forget, sometimes it's not as painful, but it never lasts. The memories must always be faced, must always be confronted.
I knew going in that this was going to be strange book, that things would be weird, but it quickly turned into the kind of weird that I'm not necessarily a fan of. It reminds me of a number of books. It reminds me of Bleeding Violet without the humour or unique personality of Hanna. It reminds me of Teeth and The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer in that I was never sure of the absolute truth, even when the story ended. The vagueness keeps this book mysterious and haunting, but still weird, and I don't think it's the kind of weird I like....more
Past and present collide on the high seas when Clare and Allie hurtle back in time once more in a perilous attempt to retrieve Marcus Donatus—Allie'sPast and present collide on the high seas when Clare and Allie hurtle back in time once more in a perilous attempt to retrieve Marcus Donatus—Allie's blast-from-the-past crush—and put an end, once and for all, to the Time Monkey Shenanigans. But when Clare and Allie unexpectedly find themselves temporal stowaways on a Roman warship full of looted Celtic gold, sailing straight for the heart of a magic-fueled maelstrom, there's not much they can do but hang on for the ride—and hope Milo can tap into the Druid lore trapped in his genius brain to help bring them home, before it's too late. The only thing that's going to save Clarinet Reid and Allie McAllister now is if they join forces with old enemies, new loves, and unexpected friends.
Now and For Never is the conclusion of the epic adventures of two friends through time, of magic and Druids and Romans, of scheming plots and fate.
Clarinet Reid and Allie McAllister are two average teenage girls. They're friends who laugh together, argue with each other, and travel through time to stop an evil jerk of an enemy together. Well, a few evil jerks. Well, not evil, just misguided and drunk on treasure and/or power. I love Clare and Allie as a duo. They're friends who get each other, who accept each other's flaws and continue to roll on with the crazy, who are always there to help each other.
There's a moment near the beginning where Clare voices her concerns to Allie regarding Marcus. Their separate visits to the past were different, Clare's short visits with the Druids compared to Allie's long stop with the Romans. They're two sides of a brutal war, two different opinions. Clare has her prejudices against the Romans for what they did to Comorra and the Iceni people, and she tells Allie that. She tells Allie that she's biased against not saving him. She tells Allie that she doesn't like having those biased feelings. And Allie understands. Both of them understand. They might argue about sense and reason and whether travelling through time is a shimmer or a zot, but they'll always be friends.
I like how the author goes back in time with Clare and Allie, how she takes what we already know (or presume to know) about Ancient Britain and the Druids and Romans and fiddles around with it a bit. Yes, it's all implausible, but it's still exciting. This series takes history and time travel and, while still treating the history seriously, also pokes fun and makes it entertaining. There's a lot of pressure on Clare and Allie to right wrongs, to fix timelines, but there's still a sense of light-heartedness that runs through the book. It's serious but also fun.
This series has been a wonderful mix of time travel, British history, sass, geek culture quotes, and two best friends. I'm a bit sad to see it end, but their adventures are over. For now. And Stuart Morholt will always be a jerk.
Night of Cake & Puppets is a short burst of a story, a sweet and magical tumble into love. During Karou's search in Daughter of Smoke & Bone,Night of Cake & Puppets is a short burst of a story, a sweet and magical tumble into love. During Karou's search in Daughter of Smoke & Bone, her best friend in the whole world, the puppet-maker Zuzana, decides to take action and claim the object of her desires, violinist Mik.
Taylor's prose is just as magical, just as lyrical and expressive and moving, as her novels. Reading her words is always a joy, they fill the pieces of my soul that crave fairy tales and monsters. But there's an added sweetness here that I feel is all Zuzana (and Mik as well, not to exclude him), all first love and falling snow and secrets lying in wait in the shadows.
This only serves to whet my appetite for Dreams of Gods & Monsters, for more Karou and Akiva, but also for more stories of Zuzana and Mik. I don't think I'll get the latter, but at least I only have to wait until April 2014 for the former....more
Sophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style--with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a faSophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style--with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a fashionable choice of weapon comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspected what--or who--they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all.
Waistcoats & Weaponry is as entertaining and exciting as adventure as the previous two installments. Mysterious, compelling, and ever so complicated, this is perhaps Sophronia's most dangerous adventure yet.
These are the things we've learned about Sophronia: she wants to know everything, she will always help those she considers close friends, she doesn't like not knowing what's going on around her, and she is most comfortable when in control of the situation. And this does rattle her, this mystery involving Sidheag and her werewolves up in Scotland. There is no question that she will not put down everything and go help. If I were in a similar situation, I would be thrilled to have Sophronia step in and take over, save the day as she so often does.
This time around, she's caught even more between Soap and Lord Mersey. Soap respects her, he will always understand the risks she takes and the decisions she makes. But Lord Mersey... I feel he respects her when it comes to certain things, and I fully believe he is waiting for the day when she will finally acquiesce to his wishes. In terms of Sophronia's own feelings, both of them confuse her. Soap with his changes in this book, and Lord Mersey with his knowledge of a group she is increasingly suspicious of. Both keep her from moving any further forward in terms of a relationship, but she has far too much to worry about.
What I love about this series in the contradiction in the tone. It's a rather serious tone, there's nothing to laugh about in regards to intelligencing and adventuring. Each girl, Sophronia especially, takes her time at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality very seriously, but the mishaps and the adventures, the names and personalities, are just so outrageous that I can't help but chuckle each time I turn the page.
Sophronia has been learning these past two years, of that there is no doubt, but when it comes to putting it all into practice and thinking about the future? That's new, and somewhat frightening. In the end, who will she give her loyalty to? I'm sad that the series will end next year with the final book, but I'm so excited to find out what will happen next.
(I received an e-galley of this title from Hachette Book Group through NetGalley.)...more
Outside Dunhammond Conservatory, there lies a dark forest. And in the forest, they say, lives a great beast called the Felix. But Sing da Navelli neveOutside Dunhammond Conservatory, there lies a dark forest. And in the forest, they say, lives a great beast called the Felix. But Sing da Navelli never put much faith in the rumors and myths surrounding the school; music flows in her blood, and she is there to sing for real. This prestigious academy will finally give her the chance to prove her worth, not as the daughter of world-renowned musicians, but as an artist and leading lady in her own right. Yet despite her best efforts, there seems to be something missing from her voice. Her doubts about her own talent are underscored by the fact that she is cast as the understudy in the school's production of her favorite opera, Angelique. Angelique was written at Dunhammond, and the legend says that the composer was inspired by forest surrounding the school, a place steeped in history, magic, and danger. But was it all a figment of his imagination, or are the fantastic figures in the opera more than imaginary? Sing must work with a mysterious Apprentice as her vocal coach, who is both her harshest critic and staunchest advocate. But he has secrets of his own, secrets that are entwined with the myths and legends surrounding Dunhammond, and the great creature they say lives there.
Strange Sweet Song is ethereal and mystical, a slow magical tale of magic, wishes, and one girl's desire to sing. But something lurks in the forests and the shadows around her, something that could change everything.
Sing isn't a normal girl, daughter to world-famous musicians. What I noticed most about her was her insecurities. She has some confidence in her ability, yes, but she's trapped in her mother's shadow. She's in a precarious situation in which she wants to sing in the role of Angelique, she desires it above all else, she craves to prove her worth to the world, but it's those inadequacies she feels that weigh her down. It's only until she's pushed by her father and to the side by those around her does her ego appear and she becomes ruthless in her quest. But that part of her is still missing, the honest part of her that will shine when she sings. Without it, she's nothing.
The rotating points of view tell different sides that come together to form the story as a whole. One is the Felix, one is a tale of magic and curiosity in Dunhammond's past, and the last is Sing in the present day. All three worked with each other, revealed secrets and suggested possibilities as the book went on.
Sing heads to the conservatory to spread her wings, metaphorically, in a new place. To sing as she wants, to find a place of her own, to grow. Of course, what she gets beyond that is the competitive setting of a musical academy for gifted people. What she gets is high-stakes, high pressure, divas looking down their noses, and more than a little backstabbing and cattiness.
The book moves at a gentle pace, never rushed, never missing a beat. I was surprised at the slow build in tension considering the mystery and the intrigue. A slow book, yes, but also an enjoyable one. I imagine this will intrigue those with a love of music and a slight gothic quality to their mysteries....more