After a scandal that rocks their small academic community, Frank Nichols and his wife, EudorThis review originally posted at Christa's Hooked on Books
After a scandal that rocks their small academic community, Frank Nichols and his wife, Eudora, are forced to start over. Thankfully, Frank's aunt has left him a home in the small town of Whitbrow. Eudora is able to find a job teaching at the local school house and Frank can use this time to finally write the book that he's been thinking about for years. Things in Whitbrow aren't what they seem on the surface, however, and before they know it Frank and Eudora stumble across the town's biggest secret and a curse that's haunted the townspeople since before the Civil War.
I didn't really realize what I was in for and how creepy Those Across the Rive was going to be when I picked this book up to read one afternoon. I expected there to be a little mystery but this book delivers so much more than that. There are some major twists and turns and you really have no idea where the story is going to take you next. I was genuinely shocked by a number of developments in this novel. This is one of those books that's better the less you know when you start reading.
Good points aside, however, there were a few problems with this book. First off I found that the time period wasn't very clear from the beginning, which led to some fairly confusing moments later on. I think it would have really enriched the reading experience if I had a better idea of the setting right from the get go. It wasn't a huge problem but a bit of a distracting one.
I also think that Frank and Eudora could have used a little more character development. Though they both have a detailed back-story I felt that I didn't really know them as people and as a result they kind of fell flat for me (Eduora especially). I get that this book is more about suspense and thrills but a little more character development (like the setting) would definitely have enriched the reading experienced.
It's not a perfect book by any means but it is a fun one. There's a few things that I would have liked if they were done differently but I still enjoyed reading this book. As this is Christopher Buehlman's debut I look forward to checking out what he writes next.
Those Across the River is going to be excellent to read on a fall night, when it's a little colder and windy. It will provide the perfect thrill....more
Emily finally knows what it's like to be in love. Unfortunately for her she's in love withThis review originally posted at Christa's Hooked on Books
Emily finally knows what it's like to be in love. Unfortunately for her she's in love with Zach, her best friend, Gabby''s, boyfriend. And now Gabby is going away for Christmas break, leaving Emily and Zach all alone. The temptation is too great to resist.
They're not the only one's succumbing to temptation. Chase has done something really terrible. A really cruel trick, which he justified as payback. Neither Chase and Emily could have ever imagined the real repercussion of their actions but their actions have been noticed. Three mysterious and beautiful girls have set their eyes on Chase and Emily and it's only a matter of time before their punishment is delivered.
Fury is based on a really interesting premise. That there's a set of mythical beings going around determining that people should be punished for their actions. In a lot of ways I can see the attraction. We've all been hurt/betrayed by someone and we've all wished that they could know how it feels. It seems from a lot of reviews I've already read that I'm not the only one who see's this appeal. A lot of people like the Furies (the three mysterious girls). Though I understood this admiration (for lack of a better word) I am not one of those people. I, in no way, condone Emily and Chase's behaviour but they don't live in isolation, does their actions mean the innocent people in their lives should also suffer? What about their friends and family members? Why should they be punished?
But anyways I digress. Regardless of whether you side with the Furies or not this book is fast paced and intriguing. It draws you in. I started reading it at 10 pm and stayed up all night finishing it. I was dying to know what happened and what nasty tricks the Furies had up their sleeves. In addition the setting of this book was absolutely perfect! Middle of winter, often at night – it was very much like the Furies, dangerous, harsh and unforgiving. There were times the vivid descriptions of the snow and ice would make me shiver and pity the poor people stuck in the middle of it.
Your Fury experience will be a matter of perspective. You may love the Furies or you may pity Chase and Emily. The beauty of this book is that it can go either way. No matter which side you fall on you'll still enjoy the story. This is a great debut from Elizabeth Miles and I can't wait to find out what happens next!...more
After her dad gets a new job, Megan has to move to a new town. This isn't the first time she's had to moOriginally posted at Christa's Hooked on Books
After her dad gets a new job, Megan has to move to a new town. This isn't the first time she's had to move because of her dad's work but this time is different. To start off her new home is in Ireland and once there she finds herself drawn to the tall, dark, and handsome Adam DeRis. Maybe this move won't be so bad. However, the longer she stays there and the closer she becomes to Adam, the more she realizes things aren't exactly “normal”. Instead they couldn't be any further from normal. Turns out Megan has some very strong supernatural powers. They're part of the reason she's so drawn to Adam. Though her new powers are amazing, they are also dangerous and highly sought after. Not exactly what she had in mind for her first time in Ireland!
To be quiet honest I had mediocre expectations for this book. It sounded like so many other books I've read this year. But let this be a lesson to me! Expectations can be wrong. This book was so fun and unique and I absolutely loved it. In fact I ended up loving it more than many of those “similar sounding” books. Here are some of the reasons it really stood out for me.
First of all it's set in Ireland. Sorry to all my American readers but as a non-American resident, sometimes it gets frustrating when every story is set in the U.S. Having The Carrier of the Mark take place is Ireland was a refreshing change. Plus Ireland is amazing. It's beautiful, it's got amazing history and culture and the book is full of neat little nuances and sayings that make you wish you could head over to the Emerald Isle yourself.
In addition to the setting I love the way this book draws on nature. I can't tell you exactly what the supernatural powers are in this book but there are many references to the elements and I love this. I saw one review that said it made them think of Captain Planet! I love that description! I think Megan has a kick-ass superpower and that makes her pretty darn cool in my book!
Finally I loved Adam. Seriously, could this guy get any more sweet? Though I also love the rebel without a cause thing, that many leading men in YA tend to emulate, it's nice to come across someone like Adam. Someone who doesn't play games and get angry at every little thing. There's no stupid little arguments, where one (or both) characters stomp off and don't talk to each other (quick tip – this is not the foundation of a solid relationship and is no way to solve your problems!). Instead Adam and Megan face things together. They're a team and they care about each others well being. I think this sends a positive message to readers of every age. My only complaint, however, is that this book falls into the trap of insta-love. I'm sorry but you just don't fall completely “head over heels – I'd do anything for you – we're going to be together forever” in love, after only a few days. You just don't. I just wish there was a little more relationship building instead of just jumping right in.
To sum up, this book totally exceeded my expectations! It has an amazing setting, a unique plot and the love story is adorable (although a little cheesy). I am now one of Leigh Fallon's dedicated fans and I am certain I will not be the last. The Carrier of the Mark is a great read and I hope you pick it up!...more
I want to start out by saying I know almost nothing about classical music or the world of competiReview originally posted at Christa's Hooked on Books
I want to start out by saying I know almost nothing about classical music or the world of competitive violin playing. This did not stop me from becoming completely absorbed in this novel. Jessica Martinez makes the finer details very accessible for those readers who (like me) are unfamiliar with this particular musical world.
Though there are many, many things I loved about this novel my favourite by far was Carmen herself. She was so authentic, so real and that girl is just so brave! Even with all her personal flaws, I found her so admirable. She is an incredibly complex and deep character and I just don't think 300 pages was enough! I wanted the novel to be longer so I could get to know more about her (I don't think this is a criticism – I certainly don't intend it to be).
There are some heavy issues put forth in this novel. We've got intense competitions, prescription drug addiction, teenage love, over bearing parents. All tackled in just 290 pages! A difficult feat to pull off but Jessica Martinez manages it. This novel handles these issues in an appropriate way and doesn't brush off their importance. I think a lot of people (not just teens) will be able to relate to many of the themes in this novel
Virtuosity pulls you in and certain scenes will just tear you apart. The story is tragic, yet absolutely beautiful....more
Dearly Departed was one of those books that completely blew me away and exceeded all my expeThis review originally posted at Christa's Hooked on Books
Dearly Departed was one of those books that completely blew me away and exceeded all my expectations. At first I read the plot synopsis and honest to god my first reaction was “oh...It's about zombies.” The cover was nice and I liked the New Victorian idea but zombies? I've never been that into zombies. But then a couple bloggers I know and whom I trust completely when they recommend me a book, started raving about this book. I figured I'd give it a shot, started to read and much to my surprise I found myself more and more in love with the plot, the setting, the characters. Everything.
First of all, the zombies in this book aren't your average stumble around, brain eating, moaning beasts. They're real people who have had a really horrible thing happen to them. They still talk and feel and believe etc. The lead male – Bram, is potentially one of the sweetest guys ever. Before long you find yourself not caring that he's dead or a zombie. He's just Bram. I love that this book doesn't just use zombies, it makes them real characters you can connect with.
Beyond the well written zombies (never thought I'd say that!) Lia Habel has written this book with an incredible amount of detail. She's thought of everything! I've always wondered when reading Neo-Victorian novels why exactly people in the future would revert back to the Victorian age. Lia Habel has an answer for that. What about the environment and global warming? Yup that gets accounted for too. And the zombies themselves, why aren't they falling apart and rotting (they are dead after all)? Lia Habel has thought of all that too. Things make sense in this book. It didn't require me to make any leaps of faith or leave me wondering about some serious loose ends.
Last but not least I have to talk about the romance. There was no love triangle! I do like the occasional love triangle, but lately it seems like every book has one. I loved that this one only involved Bram and Nora. They also had to work at their relationship. They come from different worlds. Trust needed to built, and then friendship. They needed that foundation if they were ever going to become a believable couple and thankfully that's just what happened. You got to see the evolution of their relationship and I loved that about them. Finally, the love story didn't overwhelm the plot. Yes, it was wonderful and sweet but the main storyline still shone through and kept you on the edge of you seat, waiting to see what happened next.
All in all this was a great book. If you're not a fan of zombies don't let that deter you from reading it. I wasn't really a zombie person either and I loved this book. It's so well written and a lot of fun to read. You're going to fall in love with Bram, zombie or not, he's just that great of a guy. I can't wait to see where Lia Habel takes this series next and what adventures are still in store for the star crossed lovers. ...more
I can honestly say I’ve never read a book about someone who can astrally project. It was an interesting premise and one that sucked me in right away. I think it is safe to say, that regardless of all the problems Anna encounters during Auracle I am still completely jealous of her gift. I’d love to be able to astrally project anywhere in the universe at any time. Can you imagine how amazing that would be? If you can’t Gina Rosati provides some amazing examples in Auracle – like flying through the stars, seeing your favourite band play on the other side of the world, and impromptu vacations in exotic locations. And best of all sunrise tours! That is my new life dream. I wish there had been a little more exploration of astral projection, but I understand there was a story to get to.
Anna is one interesting main character. Sometimes she’s brave and intelligent and takes action but other times she’s afraid and a bit whiny. I suppose, in some ways, this is just human nature but I would have liked to see her take control a bit more, rather than rely on Rei so much. That being said, she does have a lot of great independent and creative ideas, which make her the true hero of this story.
Speaking of Rei – I know I’m supposed to really like him, and he is a great guy but sometimes he is so protective of Anna that I begin to feel suffocated. I’m not sure how she can stand it. He’s a good guy and he’s just trying to look out for her (excellent qualities in a best friend) but checking to see if she’s brushed her teeth or eaten enough fruit? That may be borderline obsessive.
One thing that really surprised me was Auracle wasn’t as serious as I thought it would be. There’s a lot of serious stuff going on but it is actually quite a light read. And that works for Auracle. Instead of constantly trying to keep up with the tension and the drama, you can just lean back and enjoy the story.
Final recommendation: A nice light read with some unique ideas. Perfect for paranormal fans and those looking for a book to throw in their beach bag....more
This book is one of the best books I've read about witches in a looooonnnnnggg time.
Honestly, the last few witch books I've read have been cheesy, and overdone. They all felt the same. Born Wicked goes in a completely different direction. First of all, it had an amazing and beautiful setting. Jessica Spotswood creates a magical world. This world looks very much like Victorian England but Jessica takes it one step further and builds an entire brand new world. This world is haunting (the Brotherhood gave me chills), its mysterious. It's well thought out and incredibly detailed. I felt myself getting entirely wrapped up in the world and I can't wait to read the rest of this series so I can fall back in.
Another reason you'll fall in love with this book is Finn Belastra. The well read, funny charming gardener?! Was I not supposed to fall (and fall hard) for him? The romance in Born Wicked was beautiful and heart wrenching. I will definitely be rooting for Finn no matter what!
Now speaking of romance...I just have to comment of the presence of lesbian witches. I have to admit this one surprised me a little bit. They seemed to come out of no where, and it wasn't what I expected but for Born Wicked is was kind of a neat idea.
I loved this book. It enchanted me and it wrapped me up in its historical setting. The characters are well formed and easy to connect to. It's definitely the start of an amazing series and after an incredible surprise ending I need the next one now!...more
Slide is an interesting mix of supernatural and mystery but interesting nature aside it was a novel thOriginally reviewed at Christa's Hooked on Books
Slide is an interesting mix of supernatural and mystery but interesting nature aside it was a novel that failed to hold my attention as much as it should have.
The story started off promising, Vee suffers from narcolepsy, which is something you don't read about very often and if that wasn't enough she can also "slide" into other people's minds when she has one of her episodes. I found this interesting - although I never really understood why she had this talent. Beyond her talent, I also loved Vee's personality. She was spunky, listened to rock music, liked horror movies. In short she was everything that your typical gorgeous, popular, super smart YA heroine isn't. It was nice to have a a main character that I felt I could personally relate too, even with her freaky supernatural ability.
It was the mystery, however, that failed to deliver. The pacing just didn't feel right, it was very stop and go, which distracted me from the story. The book also felt really short. Everything seemed to happen so easily and I just don't think series of murders could be solved so easily and with so few obstacles. As much as I loved the characters I think more time should have been spent developing the mystery and how it all plays out.
Slide, isn't a bad debut. It's interesting and unique and has some cool characters. But I think it fell short of being a great read. I would be interested to read the next book in this series to see how Hathaway develops as a writer and where else she could take these characters. The plot seemed to wrap up nicely at the end of this book so I'm not sure where this story would/could go next.
Though it wasn't my favourite book I would still probably recommend it for mystery/supernatural lovers because there are some fun elements to it. ...more
I am nothing if not determined. And in this particular instance I am determined to find the mermaid book thatThis and other reviews at Hooked on Books
I am nothing if not determined. And in this particular instance I am determined to find the mermaid book that works for me. It has to be out there. I loved the Little Mermaid - both the original and the Disney version. I even sang "Part of Your World" for my audition for Annie way back in Middle School.
Lies Beneath, started out as strong contender. I love Anne Greenwood Brown's take on mermaid. First that they live in Lake Superior (that's partially in Canada! Canadian-ish mermaids!) and that they're monsters. Like pull you down and drown you, then laugh about it later monsters. It still gives me the shivers, to think of such horrible, yet beautiful, creatures living in the dark waters of the Great Lakes. And these mermaids really do live up to their creepy description. Anne did a fantastic job, especially when it came to Calder's sisters, of driving the particular characteristic home.
I also really enjoyed the premise of their conflict with the Hancocks. It seemed just like something out of an old fairy tale (man sacrificing his first born and what not). And I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see how/when they were going to catch this poor unsuspecting man. Does that make me a little twisted? I may be a little twisted. But still it made for a really compelling plot.
The only point where this book started to lose me, was when it came to Lily. Initially I really liked her, quirky, smart, marched to the beat of her own drum. She was a girl after my own heart. But then she began to lose her common sense a little a lot when it came to Calder, and I began a little disillusioned with her. She was so willingly to put herself in harm's way, and at times her head was a little too far up in the clouds. Ugh and the dressing up like Tennyson's Lady of Shalott? Too much. But on the other hand, this made me really anxious to read the next book, Deep Betrayal, as it is told from her point-of-view, and I'm hoping she represents herself as more intelligent and self reliant, than Calder makes her out to be.
Overall, this was a fairly interesting book, it hooked me at the beginning and kept me interested until the end. I was a little turned off by the female character (I can't help it - I want strong, amazing female characters) and the love story but I wouldn't completely dismiss it for those reasons. Unfortunately, however, this means I'm still searching for my ideal mermaid novel.
Final recommendation: Recommended for those who are enjoying the mermaid trend and for those who like their supernatural creatures a little on the dark side. ...more
I got so sucked into the drama of The Selection I couldn't help but read it in one sitting.
The Selection takes us right inside what is essentially The Bachelor for royalty. There's beautiful dresses, and maids to get help you get dressed and a charming prince. And right alongside that are a bunch of petty fights amongst the contestants, a secret (and illegal) love and coded messages. As a lover of the occasional soap opera I ate all of it right up. If you've ever watched the Bachelor or any sort of reality t.v show you know just how addictive the drama can be. My best description of this book is that it is a reality T.V. show in book form. And just like reality t.v. this type of book is fun to indulge in every once and awhile.
In this particular contest the story is focused on America Singer – who despite not wanting to be there is a favourite of the people. I wasn't overly impressed with America, herself. She seemed pretty one dimensional and it was fairly predictable what was going to end up happening to her. But I think in this case, I'm willing to overlook that because this novel does touch on some more important issues like hunger, education and wealth disparity and it is often America that brings these topics up. It's nice to see a YA novel pointing out some more difficult issues instead of just focusing on the love story.
While The Selection was definitely addictive, I still have so many questions that I couldn't overlook. A brief history lesson is given, as to why the United States of America is no more and how the current state came to be, but I didn't feel like it was enough. It explained the what and when but not the why. Particularly why a caste system was set in place – and an elaborate one at that. It simply states that it was easier that way, or they needed to do it. But why? What series of events are made simpler by a caste system? Just like my beef with the lack offeminists in the future, this didn't quite add up to me.
There isn't a lot of character substance and a lot of things are left unexplained but nevertheless The Selection is a fun read. It's sort of like cotton candy – light and airy but delicious.
Final recommendation: Recommended for those looking for a lighter read or those who enjoy indulging in soap opera drama....more
This book takes place in imperial Russia!!! I love imperial Russia!!
Sorry that was a bit of an outburst but seriOriginally reviewed at Hooked on Books
This book takes place in imperial Russia!!! I love imperial Russia!!
Sorry that was a bit of an outburst but seriously I really do love books set in this time period. It is arguably one of the five best places you could set a novel. I just find it so magical and mysterious. There's also so much history coming out of Russia at that time (which I may or may not be obsessed with as well). This meant that right away, from the very first chapter I was completely enamoured with this story. It was also great to read this book in winter when my current surrounding of snow and cold matched the setting of the story.
Now since this setting already has a mysterious quality to it, the paranormal element just seemed to fit so perfectly. It didn't feel overly cheesy or silly. I actually think it added just the right touch of darkness and intrigue that kept me hanging on throughout the entire novel. This book combines a variety of supernatural creatures, including fairies, vampires and what are essentially zombies. All of which we've seen a lot of recently in the YA genre. But due to the historical nature of this tale and the mixing in of Russian folklore, it all felt very unique and fun to read about. In addition it was nice to see them all converge in one place and react to one another.
Robin Bridges' debut is an exciting and creative read. It combines one of my favourite settings, with a lot of standard paranormal characters and it does it in a way that feels fresh and original. To me this book is definitely a must read....more
First off - such gorgeous world building. Snow covered and dangerous - it hinted at Imperial Russia without simply resortinAbsolutely loved this book!
First off - such gorgeous world building. Snow covered and dangerous - it hinted at Imperial Russia without simply resorting to being Imperial Russia. This was clearly a distinct and imaginative world. Leigh Bardugo gets all the points.
And the characters - I loved them all. Even the Darkling who is so dark and mysterious and I just have all the questions about him. But my favourite, by far, is Alina. I like how she grows throughout the novel and went from being someone I kind of like to someone I want to be friends with.
I wish there had been a little more explanation about how the Grisha's magic works and the testing to determine if a child is Grisha - but this is a small complaint at best. And definitely something that could be expanded upon in further books.
Can't believe I waited so long to read this book. Everyone told me I would love it and they were right. ...more
From the first few pages, Dark Inside had me hooked. I knew that I was in for one creepy read.
Dark Inside takes you right into the heart of what can only be described as the apocalypse. It doesn't explain the world afterwards or how people moved on with their lives. It simply focuses on what is going on and what lengths people go to in order to survive. It's dark and it's gritty and it doesn't shy away from the gruesome things that may occur. Dark evil force aside, everything in this book seemed very believable. I was shocked, I was disgusted, I was on the edge of my seat. There were so many moments that had me holding my breath and peering out from behind my fingers. I love when a book can get me that consumed in a story.
I have just one complaint and it's a very very small one. I found the ending slightly rushed and a little anti-climatic. I don't know what I was expecting exactly, but it just didn't match what I had planned in my head. This is probably my own fault more than anyone else's. Let me stress, there was nothing wrong with the ending. It suited the story and brought together all the storylines but it just didn't give me the satisfaction I wanted.
This book is one that will be interesting for young adult and adult readers alike (but be warned there is quite a bit of violence). If you like adventure stories, that also touch on questions of humanity than make sure you add this book to your TBR pile. It's thoughtful and realistic and more than once it scared the pants off me. ...more
Tempest is a fun, action packed time travelling novel. It sucks you in with almost immediate mysteryOriginally reviewed at Christa's Hooked on Books
Tempest is a fun, action packed time travelling novel. It sucks you in with almost immediate mystery and adventure and continues with a story that is layered and surprising. I love books with a fast pace and this definitely fit the bill. I also liked how the story kept me guessing. I was never completely sure what was going to happen next, or what new developments were going to reveal themselves.
The main appeal of this novel is that it centres around time travel. I've always loved books that involved time travel. I'm sure it's something we've all dreamed about doing at some point or another. The idea of going back and reliving (or changing) certain past events is definitely appealing! At times the details of how Jackson's time travel works can get a little confusing. It is the tragic flaw of time travel narratives. Working out the kinks of time travel is never perfect.
My one complaint is that I couldn't really connect with Jackson as a character. I just didn't feel like I could relate with him and his obsession with Holly. It was like nothing else mattered to him and it got old really quickly. But beyond Jackson I love the whole “Enemies of Time” angle and I can't wait to find out more about them and their motivations.
Finally, I feel like this needs to be stated, due to certain recent events. This book is not anti-woman/anti-feminists and doesn't depict all lesbians as man haters. Are there times where Jackson says/thinks some insensitive things? Yes. Is he a little immature? Definitely. But he's a teenage boy. Teenage boys (no offence guys!) have been known to be a little immature. This novel is in no way offensive, so if that was holding you back from picking this book up, please reconsider. The story is a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series. ...more
When I first heard about this book it terrified me. Not because I scare easiThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic More Than Just Magic
When I first heard about this book it terrified me. Not because I scare easily but because I used to work at Wal-Mart and the thought of getting stuck in there while the apocalypse/national disaster was happening outside seemed like the worst thing that could happen. But then I read Monument 14 and realized the opposite was true. After seeing how beneficial it was to be in Greenway (and learning some tips like sealing the air conditioner vents) if a crazy natural disaster happens my first thought is going to be “run to Wal-Mart” (no Greenways here, so I’ll have to settle).
In addition to the survival tips I also enjoyed the wide variety of characters that popped up in Monument 14. I appreciated that they felt like real people. They don’t become unlikely heroes, they’re just trying to survive. At one point Dean says “you know, you’d think that being locked in a Greenway during the end of the world would bring out the best in everyone but – surprise! – Brayden was still an a-hole and a bully.” People are people no matter what the circumstance and Laybourne captures this perfectly.
Finally I liked that Monument 14 often said really clever things in really subtle ways. My favourite:
“Hugging is not a sin!” Batiste yelled. “It is too if the girl getting hugged doesn’t want it!” Chloe countered.
Monument 14 isn’t your standard adventure story, as the action is at a minimum. But it still an exciting page turner that you’ll most likely consume in one sitting....more
Small Medium At Large is the story of a spunky young girl named, Lilah Bloom. One day, the day of her mother's wOriginally reviewed at Hooked on Books
Small Medium At Large is the story of a spunky young girl named, Lilah Bloom. One day, the day of her mother's wedding to be exact, she gets struck my lightning. Nothing quite gets your attention like someone getting struck by lightining. That is, unless that person can then hear the voice of her dead grandmother, who wants her to help her dad start dating again.
If I were to use a single word to describe Small Medium at Large it would have to be hilarious. From the first conversation between Lilah and her best friend, to the final piece of wisdom from her dead grandmother (Bubby Dora), this book was constantly making me laugh out loud - often in public! There were even a few times my dog came over to check on me, I was making so much noise.
Joanne Levy nails the voice of twelve year old, Lilah. She sounds exactly the way I would expect to her too. Never too old or too young. Intelligent and a quick thinker, you can't help but like her. Motivated by nothing but good intentions, she's a character to be admired. And she's Jewish, adding some much needed diversity to the middle grade character pool.
I have some friends that think I'm strange for reading middle grade titles (or "kid's books"). But when I read a book like Small Medium at Large that makes me laugh so hard I almost spit tea across the room, I reminded of all the reasons I love 'kid's books' and I'm sorry that there are people who will miss out on this wonderful story because they can't look past the age range on the bookstore shelf.
Final recommedation: A must for all the middle grade people in your life. Whether actual 9-12 year olds, or just those of us that are young at heart, Small Medium at Large is a refreshing and funny read you're sure to enjoy....more
I was fully addicted to this book. I did not want to go to work, socialize, watch TV – anything. I jusThis review originally posted at Hooked on Books
I was fully addicted to this book. I did not want to go to work, socialize, watch TV – anything. I just wanted to read it.
This is a great example of quality dystopian lit. Alex Adams offers a great look into our society and what some of our potential downfalls could be. It was also nice to read a dystopia that wasn't focused on women's reproductive rights. Not that they aren't important, but it's nice to have some variety. White Horse felt very honest and authentic and because of that it may not be for the faint of heart. Nothing is sugar coated here. There are some pretty gruesome scenes (and characters – particularly The Swiss) but nothing that shouldn't be there. Everything here is necessary to the story. At no point did I feel like Alex Adams was trying to bulk up her story with unnecessary details.
White Horse, is set up so that the timeline switches from then (in the immediate time following the release of the White Horse virus) to now (Zoe's current struggle). Alternating timelines are tricky to pull off but I think it works in this case. It kept me off kilter and confused which helped me relate to how the characters were feeling. It also kept me from guessing right until the very end how things were going to turn out.
But by far the best thing about White Horse, is Zoe. She is tough and brave and incredibly human. I not only liked reading about her but I respected her too. I wanted to cry with her, I cheered her on, I yelled at her to keep going and I wanted to punch those that treated her poorly. She rocked. This novel would be nothing without her and I can't wait to read more of her story in the books to come.
My only complaint is that I thought the ending was a little too perfect, but that being said, who knows what will happen in the next book. White Horse can definitely be read as a standalone but trust me you'll want more of Alex's writing, so I'm personally really happy it's a series. And on the off chance the author reads this – any chance you're a Doctor Who fan? Because the last line made me smile.
Final recommendation: For fans of dystopian lit this is a must read. Others who enjoy a really good, authentic adventure story will also find lots to love....more
Stefan Bachmann’s The Peculiar is the story of Bartholomew Kettle and his sister, Hettie. A pair of ChangelinOriginally posted at More Than Just Magic
Stefan Bachmann’s The Peculiar is the story of Bartholomew Kettle and his sister, Hettie. A pair of Changelings living in Bath, England. Their existence is difficult, despised by humans and fairies alike. But when other Changelings start disappearing, the game changes and Bartholomew has to venture out, in order to protect his sister and himself.
I really enjoyed Bartholomew’s dedication to his sister. As someone his is close with her own brother, I tend to love any story that has to do with sibling love and friendship. I don’t think it’s a relationship that’s explored enough in children’s literature. It was great to see a pair of siblings that care about one another’s well-being and are always there for one another. That more than anything was what really made The Peculiar shine for me.
In addition to the sibling love, Stefan Bachmann’s writing is absolutely gorgeous. It’s almost unbelievable that he’s only a teenager. Beautiful flowing phrases, perfect metaphors, and detailed and expertly woven story. The Peculiar was truly a joy to read. I found myself getting lost in the rich setting and beautiful imagery. If you’re someone who appreciates the technical side of writing, this is definitely a book for you.
Bartholomew and Hettie were not the only fabulous characters in this novel. Arthur Jelliby was by far my favourite. He was such an ordinary, regular person, but when push comes to shove, he goes to amazing lengths to investigate missing Changelings (that others seem indifferent to). He’s a bit silly, and clumsy and more than a little awkward, but I was drawn to him and his well-meaning ways. An engaging and well written character, he really helps pull The Peculiar together.
My one word of warning about this book however is that the pacing is quite slow. It’s a story that takes its time, revealing it’s complex layers at a much more deliberate and careful pace than I’m used to in Middle Grade novels. It didn’t make it any less beautiful or enjoyable, but it could make it difficult to get into. I was never truly absorbed in the story, and because of that it was a book I really liked, but I didn’t love.
Recommendation: The Peculiar is an example of truly excellent writing and skill. It had great characters, great themes and an incredible setting. Though technically a middle grade novel, this is definitely a book readers of all ages can appreciate....more
If a book has dragons, it is pretty much a guarantee that I will be interested in it. Seraphina proved no exceptioOriginally posted at Hooked on Books
If a book has dragons, it is pretty much a guarantee that I will be interested in it. Seraphina proved no exception. Not only is it a novel filled with dragons, it provides a whole new take on the fantastic creatures, ensuring that this is unlike any fantasy novel I've read before.
Imagine a world where dragons can take the form of humans. Where they interact with us on a daily basis and are involved in all levels of society. Where they are no longer mysterious creatures that live far away in mountains and caves. Picture all that and you have an idea of what Rachel Hartman's debut fantasy novel is like. It's a fascinating look at these creatures from a whole new, uqniue and exciting angle. I really enjoyed learning more about the history of these particular dragons and watching them interact with humans and adapt to life within city walls.
In addition to taking an old and established mythos and turning it on it's head, Rachel Hartman also gets an A+ for world building. An entire new world springs up within the pages of Seraphina. Not letting anything fall pray to unoriginality, Hartman creates an intricate religious system, a complex class hierarchy and a totally unique langauge. She then places a wealth of interesting characters in this setting and expertly guides them through a thrilling adventure. It is a recipe for a fantastic story and I am amazed at how well she pulls it off.
Seraphina is an intelligent novel. It challenges idea about how society should function, ideas of class and power and how religion can be corrupted or used an excuse for unsavoury behaviour. If that wasn't enough the character of Seraphina is intelligent, resourceful and a quick thinker. She's often the one that saves the day or at the very least does what needs to be done. She's a fantastic female heroine and I can't wait to read more about her in the next book.
Rachel Hartman is an unbelieavably talented writer. It's hard to believe Seraphina is her debut novel! I can't wait to read more from this fabulous new voice in the fantasy world.
Final recommendation: A beautifully written fantasy novel that can easily be enjoyed by teen and adult readers. ...more
Sometimes you start a book and you know right away. You just know that this will be one of those books that sticksOriginally posted at Hooked on Books
Sometimes you start a book and you know right away. You just know that this will be one of those books that sticks with you for a long time to come. You'll hang on every word, every interaction and each one will touch you deeply. This was my experience with The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.
It is the characters that really make this book an amazing experience (though the story will captivate you as well). Harold Fry moved me in a way I definitely hadn't expected. I found myself cheering for Harold when things were going his way, crying out for him when obstacles came up against him. There were a couple of times where actual, full blown tears came to my eyes. I loved Harold's spirit, I loved the honesty about who he was and how he saw himself, and most of all I found myself connecting with him in a incredibly personal way. And I don't think I'm the only one that will have that experience.
Although if we're being honest, the real surprise wasn't how much I fell in love with Harold's character. The real surprise was Maureen. At the beginning of the novel, she's a bit annoying and uppity but as the story progresses you learn just how layered her character truly is. At times her own struggles really stole the show and I was amazed by how badly I misjudged her. I found myself cheering for her, just as much as I was cheering for Harold.
I had no idea what to expect from this book. As this is a mostly speculative fiction blog, you can guess that it's not the type of book I usually read. And at face value I don't have that much in common with Harold. But that is where this book is unique. It's a book that spoke to me in a very universal way. I may not look like Harold or live where he lives but we're all on a journey of one kind or another and Harold's journey is just one manifestation of that.The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry has been nominated for the Booker Prize and it would not surprise me at all if it walks away with the award....more
This book has everything! Stolen corpses, gondolas prostitutes, sexy artists, smouldering love sceThis review was originally posted at Hooked on Books
This book has everything! Stolen corpses, gondolas prostitutes, sexy artists, smouldering love scenes, murder, mayhem and so much more.
Fiona Paul immediately sets an exciting tone for Venom through the setting alone. Beautifully described and richly imagined, you know from the first few pages that you are in for a treat. Set in Renaissance Venice, it already marks itself as a unique and almost magical read. The outfits, the canal, the masquerades, it so easy to get swept up in it all. It almost feels as if you're diving into a fantasy novel, everything is so lush and enchanting. And possibly best of all, this was such a unique time and place to set this story. It seems like every YA historical novel I read is set in England or maybe France, in Tudor or Victorian times. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just nice to get a change of scenery.
Cass, the heroine of our story, is pretty capable as heroines go. Running through graveyards at night, pretending to be a courtesan to dig up information, breaking into the house of a potential murder. All to find out what happened to the body of her best friend/stop a killer. It's a lot braver than I could probably manage to be. That being said the idea of a poor rich girl, wanting something different with her life, is a little bit tired, but it worked within the structure of this story.
It helps of course that she is aided by, a young, devil may care artist, who pushes her to be more than the just the girl society expects her to be. From the very first moment Falco stepped onto the page I knew I was going to like him. He had attitude and charisma, but he was more than that. He was an artist, a hard worker, interested in science and knowledge. He may have looked and talked like a bad boy, but underneath there was a layered and interesting character.
All of these fantastic elements were blended together in a fabulous, well crafted mystery that kept me guessing right up until the last moment. I was constantly changing my theories and predictions and I was genuinely shocked by the ending. And speaking of the ending, I was pretty pleased by how it all wrapped up. I hate when books end on a cliff hanger, but Fiona Paul seemed to tie up enough of the major plot points that I felt like this story was ending, but she also left a lot of clues and suggestions that made me eager to continue on with the series and see what Cass gets up to next.
Venom actually made my heart race. This is one of Penguin's "Breathless Reads" this year and it's easy to see why. Not only did it take my breath away, it kept me up all night, pulse racing, wondering where the story would go next.
Recommendation: A book that will appeal to fans of historical fiction, mysteries, romance, action/adventure tales... The list goes on and on. Basically if you like your books filled with mystery, intrigue, mayhem and swoon worthy scenes this one is for you!...more
When Prophecy first hit my radar, my initial impression was that it was just another Graceling. IThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
When Prophecy first hit my radar, my initial impression was that it was just another Graceling. I think this had a lot to with the back cover copy and how it was marketed. It’s pretty flattering to be compared to Graceling – it’s an amazing book. But no one wants to read a copy-cat of it. If it was up to me, I would do more to highlight what makes this book unique, because though there are some similar elements, Prophecy definitely stands out all on its own.
The first thing that really sets Prophecy apart is its Asian setting. It was a refreshing change from the many high fantasy novels based in Western traditions and ideologies. I’m glad we’re beginning to see a more diverse selection of protagonists and settings in young adult literature. It is long overdue. And as an added bonus, because this was one of the first fantasy novels I’ve read in an Asian setting, it made me really curious about legends and mythos from other cultures. I sense some fun research in my future (that’s right I said fun research).
If you’re a fan of strong female characters I can almost guarantee you’re going to love Kira. She was strong and brave, despite the way her own society shunned her. But she wasn’t a perfect character, held up on a pedestal. She was lonely, stubborn and often let her emotions cloud her judgement. I found these imperfections made her a believable character, and they made me like her. She is also unabashedly loyal – probably the best quality of them all. Her love for her friends and family is unwavering and you have to respect her for that.
Probably my favourite thing about Prophecy though, isn’t the setting or Kira, but the relationships. Prophecy has a heavy emphasis on familial relationships. For example Kira’s relationship with her brother, cousin, parents etc. Too often I find YA novels put all the focus on the romantic relationships, and either neglect or completely leave out the family aspect. Kira’s closeness with her family warmed my heart (and broke it at times) and it made me think of my family and how close I am with them. I think this focus was what really sold Prophecy for me and ensured that it will remain on my shelf for a long time to come.
My own complaint is that I would have liked a little more world building. I had a lot of questions about the Seven Kingdoms, their political system and religious traditions, and the answers given in the book fell a little short. But I have my fingers crossed for more detail in book #2.
Recommendation: A fast paced, action packed high fantasy adventure, that I highly recommend to fantasy fans or those who like strong female characters that can kick ass....more
There are a lot of fairy tale and myth re-tellings out right now, and though I love them theyThis review originally published at More Than Just Magic
There are a lot of fairy tale and myth re-tellings out right now, and though I love them they can get a tad repetitive. So when I heard The Madman’s Daughter was a re-telling of The Island of Doctor Moreau it got my attention – here was something you didn’t see everyday.
I think that Shepherd did a great job capturing the tone and atmosphere of both London and the Island itself. It was very dark and creepy and you got the sense that something was always lurking right around the corner. However where this book lost me was the portrayal of Juliet. In the beginning she is set up as very strong – able to fend for herself, very intelligent, a survivor. But as the book continues her characterization isn’t consistent. She becomes a damsel in the distress, focusing more on which of her two love interests is superior instead of dealing with the very real, life-threatening, dangers of the island. I also found the science a bit lacking. We know so much about genetics and human biology now, that I just couldn’t suspend my disbelief when it came to the Doctor’s creations. It really pulled me out the story to think about how impossible it all was.
Though I didn’t love this book I am intrigued by the sequel – which is a re-telling of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde. I think Juliet being back in London, without her father’s creations, might make the story a little more believable. And hopefully we’ll see a return to her original character traits....more
I can honestly say, without a doubt, that I’ve never read a book about a Nightmare. Which is whatThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
I can honestly say, without a doubt, that I’ve never read a book about a Nightmare. Which is what initially drew me to The Nightmare Affair. When you read as many books as I do, anything that immediately jumps out as new and unique, is guaranteed to find itself on my to read list.
The Nightmare Affiar takes us into the life of one particular, adolescent Nightmare – Dusty. I loved Dusty’s voice. She was sassy and independent and always said what she was thinking. I like that she never compromised herself or who she was, even if that occasionally got her into trouble. It’s easy to get attached to a character like this. There’s nothing I find more boring that a perfect character, who’s gorgeous and instantly knows how to use all her special powers. I know if I found out I was magical, I would be a lot more like Dusty. Just trying to figure stuff out as I go.
Other than Dusty I was immediately pulled into The Nightmare Affair, because it has a distinct Harry Potter feel to it. It’s in a magical boarding school, people keep dying of mysterious and magical circumstances and Dusty and her two friends start breaking all of the school’s rules to try and get to the bottom of everything. It has the same vibe as Harry Potter but it also puts a unique enough spin on it so that you don’t just feel like you’re reading the same story. It’s that nice mix of the familiar and the strange.
However, the unique start to The Nightmare Affair quickly turned into a really predictable plot. I saw most of the big twists coming from a mile away. This isn’t completely a negative as it also means the story is easy to follow and not at all convoluted. Recently I feel like I’ve picked up far too many books that have WAY too much going on. The Nightmare Affair’s plot is plain and simple. You can pick it up and read it for exactly what it is and sometimes it’s nice not to worry about so many extra subplots and deeper meanings. I think I came to The Nightmare Affair at the right time. I needed something simple and the predictability worked in its favour.
My one major criticism of this novel is that I thought “The Will” was a little too convenient. Basically it’s this thing that keeps you from using magic to harm others (How does it know? How does this work with crimes of passion or times when the intention wasn’t there but you could still hurt someone?). It also dictates when you use certain bits of magic. Like Eli, Dusty’s dream partner, is forced to fall asleep at a certain time so that she can feed on his dreams. But there’s no real explanation of how it works. “Will workers” are briefly mentioned but what exactly to they do? Are they like the Fates, sitting around a cauldron watching potential magic spells fly by? I want to know more!! I just think such a major piece of the plot deserves to be more fleshed out.
Recommendation: The Nightmare Affair is a lot of fun and it’s quite light. If you’ve recently read a really heavy or emotional book this might be a good follow up to ease you out of the book hang over. I’m intrigued about where the series will go next and will definitely be picking up book two when it comes out....more