Amy McCulloch (also known as Amy Alward) is a Chinese-White author, born in the UK, raised in Ottawa, Canada, now based in London, UK. She has written seven novels for children and young adults, and been published in over ten different languages.
Before becoming a full-time writer, she was editorial director for Penguin Random House Children’s Books. In 2013, she was named one of The Bookseller‘s Rising Stars of publishing.
When not writing, she loves travelling, hiking and mountaineering. In September 2019, she became the youngest Canadian woman to climb Mt Manaslu in Nepal – the world’s eighth highest mountain at 8,163m (26,781ft). Other addictions include coffee, ramen and really great books.
Rating: 2.25/5 Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr review: Ingredients: – Six cups of an adventure around the world similar to The Amazing Race (a quick read with good pacing) – Three vials of fantasy with a dash of modern flare (the world-building leans on contemporary technology, alchemy, magic, and fantastical beasts but is underdeveloped) – One special snowflake and one broody heir to a conglomerate (a romance of instalove) – A teaspoon of a one-dimension villain (who doesn’t really do much to live up to the title) – Add a drop of any supporting character to taste (most characters come and go for the sake of plotting) – Brew with conviction (because a lot of the problems are solved with feeling and instinct) – No goggles allowed to concoct this potion (there wasn’t much consequence for the MC)
Initial Thoughts: One day, hype will win me over. Today is not that day.
Full disclosure: I received an advanced reader copy of Madly from the Book Blog Ontario Meet-Up. I extend thanks to Simon and Schuster for providing me with the opportunity to review this book.
Yet another book that was super close to 5 stars, but just not quite at that level.
This was such a fun read!! It was set in modern times but with some fairytale aspects tossed in and it just made this whole world so enjoyable. Unicorns, abominables, mermaids, and potion making, doesn't get much better than that.
I actually really enjoyed Sam as the main character. At a few points she irritated me, but that's completely normal with any character that doesn't react to something the way I would. I will say, she's extremely smart, she's cunning, and she's resourceful.
I honestly didn't want to put this book down, it was such a light-hearted read and much like Sam's potions in her hear, everything just started clicking together and it was fantastic.
If you're looking for a light-hearted fantasy, give this one a chance.
Esperaba algo más de esta novela. No es tan ni original ni tan "divertida" como auguraba la sinopsis (al menos para mí). Pero de todas formas ha sido una lectura entretenida, con aventuras y mucho ritmo. Me ha dado la sensación de que en general pretende un tono de humor que se queda en una narrativa bastante naif.
When I saw this book I was fairly excited to read it. I love the light and fluffy books and add in magic I was sold! Sometime before this book arrived from the library I had gone to check out the reviews. The first two that came up were not appealing reviews. I read both of them. I started having second thoughts. I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy this. But I decided to give this book the benefit of the doubt. After all books are subjective. Unfortunately I did not enjoy this.
The book is narrated in first and third person point of view. Think The Young Elites by Marie Lu. Sam's point of view is first person, whereas Evelyn's point of view is third person. I'm not sure why this is. Maybe if I read the whole book I would've known. If someone could explain that to me that would be great.
The book begins with Evelyn mixing the love potion and mentioning that she excepted it to be a different color. Readers are then taken to Sam as she is cleaning around the shop. She explains us that her family were once very respected. In fact that they used work alongside the Kings and Queens. Ever since pharmacies (Sam calls it a megapharmacy) came into play and ZoroAster Corp. they haven't been doing so well.
Her and her best friend are planning to attend the Princesses birthday party. The two talk about who the possible date is for the princess. Anita (her best friend) believes it'll be Zain Aster son of the man in charge of ZoroAster Corp. While Sam thinks it'll be some celebrity/famous person.
Meanwhile with the Evelyn it is her birthday party and she has prepared the love potion. Zain enters and greets her wishing her a happy birthday. The two are best friends. Well at least on Zain's end. It is then revealed that Evelyn plans on giving him the love potion. She pours them drinks, pouring the love potion in Zain's glass. Do they some cheers and they drink. While the glass is still in her hand and her head is dipped, she opens her eyes and sees them reflected in the glass. Thus falling in love with herself.
While Sam and Anita are on the bus on the way to the princesses castle, Sam is summoned by the King to come immediately while Anita is summoned by her father. The two part ways panicked. Sam reaches the castle to find that she is not alone. There are other people that have been summoned. Her Grandfather among them.
The King's worker announces that they have all been summoned because the princess has been poisoned. He says that her life is in danger. The people are surprised and one of them asks what happened. He answers that he has no idea but a Wilde Hunt is being called to find a cure. Sam asks whether they can see the princess.
When they reach her room they see Zain standing off to the side looking pale and in shock. There is some talking in the background when Sam says that the princess had a love potion. They all turn to notice that Evelyn is looking at her reflection lovingly and talking to herself.
The Kings worker goes on to mention that the competitors will get a clue to one of the ingredients she used. After that they are left to their own devices. The worker explains that the princess used natural materials so they can't just manufacture the cure in a lab. He also mentions that the winner will be given a certain amount of Crowns (money) and have access the royal's lab for a day.
Zain and his father step in to enter first. While touching the horn (it allows them to enter) a woman appears. The King is outraged as this mysterious woman announces that she to is participating in the hunt. It is revealed that this woman is the Kings exiled sister. She steps in to enter then vanishes. Sam's grandfather says that they will not be participating and the two leave.
This book was quite odd. It was a contemporary and a fantasy. The humans acknowledged that there are people that can do magic and mix potions, but rather than using them or killing them, they coincide with them. Which was actually nice and unique.
Some of the wordings in this book were weird. For example 'Megapharmicies'. While I was reading it I kept off thinking of ways to word the sentences better. I felt that this book was stupid. And I didn't really like the writing style.
Sam is a very high case of the special snowflake syndrome. She figure's everything out before all the other characters do. Especially when she noticed Evelyn lusting at her reflection. I was surprised that no one else noticed. It took awhile for me to grasp why the Hunt was being called. Apparently because the princess was poisoned she was a danger to her kingdom and herself. While she enters the competition late and she is up against some fairly talented people, she still wins. I don't know how. The only reason I know this is because I skimmed the end of the book.
I was also surprised that her family didn't close their potion shop down. Her mother is not at all good at business. She keeps on letting the same woman get away without paying her. The woman claims to leave her purse home every time. I think the only reason they haven't closed it is because Sam loves it and her grandfather won't allow it. I'm not really sure why her grandfather refused to enter considering the prize. Maybe it was because of pride?
I don't have anything to say about the rest of the characters because I didn't really read about them. Sam would've been more likable had she not been a special snowflake. I couldn't really bring myself to finish the book because of the wordings and the writing style.
The only nice thing I have to say is I commend the author for trying to be unique by writing of the setting in a contemporary and fantasy world. I've never read about a book as such. It just didn't work for me.
Overall this was not a good read. I would recommend to people who are interested in reading about the world and people looking for a lighthearted fantasy series.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Sam is an Ordinary Alchemist who lives with her parents, little sister and grandpa in their family's shop. She has the talent to mix potions but is not a Talented like her little sister. When the Princess of Nova ends up giving herself a love potion accidentally it's up to her and her family to save her. Her biggest competition is her hottie classmate Zain and his father's synth company. Will she get to prove her Ordinary skills are up to par or will she fail herself and her family?
Set in modern times there are Talenteds people who can do magic and then the Ordinary, people with no magic who become alchemists instead. Ruling above all are the Royals who are the governing head of Nova. I really enjoyed this spin on modes fairy-tale. The journey to find all these ingredients and then having to compete for the right one was pretty clever. I wasn't bored at all! I was also blessed to find that it hardly had a focus on the romance at all and it was more about the journey to help the Princess. Did I mention that it wasn't about a hero coming to help her either? It was Sam who is Ordinary and just wanted to do a good deed to help the Royal family and of course her own family's reputation. I really liked Sam and her family. The fact that they Amy Alward had more back-story into the entire set of characters made it even more fun. Even having her little sister try to help and her reasoning behind wanting to help was fun to read about. Did I also mention there are mermaids and unicorns set in this world as well? I kind of loved that.
A fun magical journey, Madly will make you smile and laugh at all the right places!
You keep telling me I have this gift but now that I actually have the chance to use it, you're not letting me! (56)
It takes more than a key to open a door. You have to know where the lock is too. (97)
I think there's a lot you'll achieve, if you put your mind to it. (257)
I'm just me. So either I need you to like me for me, or you need to leave me alone. (279)
Un libro divertido, lleno de magia y aventuras donde nuestra protagonista con la ayuda de sus amigos deberá ir en busca de los ingredientes para crear una poción y así poder salvar a la princesa Evelyn.
http://www.divabooknerd.com/2015/07/t... The Potion Diaries was a lovely mix of fantasy, adventure that reads more as a mature middle grade, than young adult series. It follows the story of Sam, apprentice alchemist who lives in the family owned potion store. The Hunt offers Sam a chance for the Kemi Potion Shop to be financially viable once more, provided she finds the cure first. A fantasy modern day setting, it was lighthearted and fun, but the characters seemed far younger than they claimed. The few chapters from the Princess Evelyn's point of view were snort worthy. The potion intended for unrequited love, somehow she ends up consuming it herself and falls in love with her own reflection she affectionately calls Lyn. The Princess playing coy with the mirror, claiming she's found the love of her life was ridiculously funny and only added to the overall lightheartedness of the storyline.
The romance was the only down point and was used as a tool to add further interest. Zain didn't seem all that genuine and often put his father's wishes and Hunt before Sam. She often questions how genuine he is and whether his interest in her was little more than furthering his family's investment in the competition. Team mate Kirsty was more of a vested party than a friend, and although she claimed to be one of the world's best Finders, she let the inexperienced Sam do most of the work instead. She didn't add anything to the storyline and wouldn't have been missed, apart from driving to each destination.
Amy Alward has crafted a fun and lighthearted read for fans of middle grade fantasy, treasure hunts and adventure. Highly entertaining and looking forward to continuing on with the series. Really enjoyed it.
Find the original review here at This is the Story of My(Reading) Life
Now here's the thing, Madly turned out to be a really good time. I'm really not sure what I was expecting. I just remember reading something about a kingdom and a love potion and thought to myself I should request this book from the publisher. And I'm really glad I did. Madly was the perfect read at the perfect time. I needed something quick and fun and it so happened that Madly checked those things off easily.
Samantha's family runs one of the oldest alchemist shops in the kingdom. But these days they have very few customers as technology and the use of synthesized potions have become taken over. With Samantha's younger sister showing the signs of becoming a very strong talented(witch), Samantha being an ordinary, is primed to take over running the families shop. Although Samantha dreams of bringing the shop into the 21st century, her grandfather is set on running it as it has always been run. All seems like the eventual demise of the old way, until the Princess becomes poisoned with a love potion and the court calls The Hunt. An old competition that sees the kingdoms most known alchemists competing in a world wide race to save the sick royal(in this case the Princess). As the love potion being outlawed many a years ago, the competitors must work off their knowledge and instincts to produce the correct potion to save the Princess. Samantha may be an ordinary but she has an extraordinary talent for alchemy and mixing. She joins the hunt to save the Princess but also to prove that the old ways aren't dead and thus save her families shop. Samantha cannot guess what The Hunt will bring; except she knows not letting the Megapharma(and old family rival), ZoroAster win is top of her list.
I really loved the world Alward created; Nova and the rest of the world is purely fantasy, yet set in the 21st century. Magic, alchemy and mythical creatures were all present, but so were T.V.s, cell phones and airplanes. It was a cool mix. As was the comparison's between the different lands and our countries. I laughed at how Nova has a royal court, but also a parliament thus showing the royal court to be more for show than anything else(remind you of a certain bunch of royals?). I just found that the world was something I knew well, but also had a great fantastical element to it.
The Hunt itself turned out to be what you would expect; something akin to The Amazing Race. It saw Samantha leaving her kingdom for the first time to travel the world in search of rare and sometimes dangerous to find ingredients. The Hunt was heavy with competition, obviously, which meant backstabbing and racing to that finish line. Not only was the Princesses life on the line, but so was the kingdoms future and each team wanted the prize.
As seemed to be the running theme with Madly, the characters were super fun too. You've got the ditsy Princess who creates a love potion which she accidentally ingests, thus falling in love with herself. Which provided a bunch of chuckles. Than there's the outcasted King's sister who was set to destroy the competitors of The Hunt so she could take over the kingdom. Being a light book, she's not truly scary, just a good Disney type villain. Samantha's grumpy grandfather, was the character with secrets that he was set on keeping to stop changes to his life. Samantha's loyal best friend, who was more set on seeing Samantha succeed than her own family. Molly, Samantha's younger sister, who just happens to prove herself at the opportune moment. And my favourite, Kirsty, the families Finder(she travels to world to find ingredients for Samantha's family). She's the one who knows the world and get whatever and wherever with her charisma, know how and don't care attitude. There always needs to be a Kirsty.
Samantha was an excellent heroine. Even though she'd not traveled, she never appeared sheltered. Although technically ordinary, her brain and skill at mixing proved magic is far from everything. Samantha turned out to be quite endearing and fearless. She definitely had that "special" aura about her, but for some reason it worked and didn't have me eye rolling. Samantha had a good conscience and used her intelligence to make right decisions, but also the dangerous ones, knowing the pay out would be worth it. Samantha was exactly the type of heroine to fit the story.
Now of course there was romance. But it wasn't the focus, or what was centric to making the plot progress. That fell purely on Samantha's talents. Anyhow, based on how light and fun a story Madly was, guessing the love interest didn't take a rocket scientist. So as it turned out, the son of ZoroAster had a secret crush on Samantha. Zain is of course handsome, popular and charismatic. But was also under the thumb of his overbearing father, so you know, Samantha just happened to be that intriguingly smart and special girl that can help him stop his father. You know how it goes? Like everything else I mentioned, the romance fit with the story. Unlike Zain's father it was not overbearing, just sweet tinged with the awkwardness of being a teen and the distrust Samantha had in Zain's feelings.
Madly was a super quick, light and fun read. It had a full arc and ends as it is a stand alone. I know Goodreads has it listed as the first book, but I'm not sure where Samantha's story could go next. Everything was wrapped up nicely. Although a little cheesy, that's not something I mind so much. A little cheese never hurt anyone. That being said, I wouldn't mind a sequel that sees Samantha taking her new found life forward. I'd look forward to it actually.
4.25 stars. I really enjoyed this novel! It's a little more on the lighter side of fantasy, just so you know. Part adventure and part puzzle, it was fun to try and put things together right alongside Samantha. While I do feel like the characters could have done with a touch more development (and I still don't understand my attraction to Zain), overall, I thought this was a really fun read.
I've read my fair share of what I want to call "dark fantasy". You know the books set in realms where everything is like the Medieval Ages? People travel by horse, everyone is a peasant or a farmer, the royalty is corrupt, assassins run rampant - if they aren't our protagonists - and there is a need for some sort of rebellion. It's fantastic but also kind of depressing. The Potion Diaries, however, was fantastically light-hearted, almost whimsical, and managed to be without sacrificing the fast-paced nature of the adventure story it was telling.
The characters were perfect. Sam, our protagonist, had all the qualities I love. She was determined, smart but not cocky, cared about people, and just sweet. I also loved that she was a homebody and loved books and researching and hot chocolate. She was a really decent and realistic character.
What caught my attention the most, however, was the plot. I enjoyed every last second of it. It definitely managed the create the right vibe and blended the perfect mix of fun and adventure. I was always kept on my toes, but it certainly wasn't action-packed. It was more engaging than it was thrilling. There was so much to discover about this world and I simply adored the mixing side to it.
The only problems I had were minuscule. The ending was a little too abrupt for my liking. It was over before it really began. I am certainly glad that there is a sequel! I also didn't support the romance wholeheartedly. It was cute, sweet and well just plain old adorable really, but I didn't quite ship it. It needed a little more time, but by the end of the next book, it should have had time to strengthen.
Overall? I was very pleasantly surprised and I am eager to pick up whatever else Amy Alward writes.
Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster for an honest review.
Combining alchemy, magical creatures, adventure, royalty and a sprinkle of romance, The Potion Diaries was incredibly fun, fast paced and engaging. Samantha Kemi embarks on a quest to find the rare and mysterious parts of a love potion to save the nation’s Princess, which takes her to some dangerous and wonderful locations. She encounters an Abominable Snowman, an Aphrodite mermaid, exotic plants and even a unicorn, in her hunt for the rare ingredients.
The quest was such a fun part of the book and I loved how Samantha added her own flair to it. Potion mixing requires a certain skill to break down ingredients, knowing their properties and understanding how they would react to each other as a whole. Sam is a prodigy who constantly thinks of ingredients for ailments and has the keen sense to understand how potions work as a whole – which made for a really fun read.
When it comes to potion mixing, there is no one better than the Kemi family with their natural and hard to find ingredients. Except for their nemesis, the ZoroAster Corp who has risen to fame and money by synthesising all the potions. This is where it gets a little convoluted – The Potion Diaries is set in a modern world, filled with magic, princesses, creatures and potions. The clash of the magical world, with modern technology, media mongering and synthetic ingredients overlapped haphazardly at times. For example, Sam has to go through magical means to contact the royal family, and later just pulls out her phone and enters a phone number. If things were so easy – why didn’t they just go the easy route?
Princess Evelyn’s curse was actually quite hilarious, accidentally drinking a love potion and falling in love with herself. Her brief perspectives throughout the book were actually quite zany and slightly disturbing, but it was refreshing to have a Princess that wasn’t the portrait of perfection.
The Potion Diaries was an unexpected surprise, offering a fun and magical romp into a modern land. I loved the alchemical potion mixing, the characters and the adventure they embark on, although it felt a bit young/middle-grade at times. While the modern elements of the book made it a little confusing, I enjoyed this light read for it’s wonderful charm, creativity and pure fun.
I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I received a copy of The Potion Diaries from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, thank you!
The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward is a great fantasy story about a Princess who brews a love potion but accidentally falls in love with herself - which turns out to be a lot more dangerous than you would expect. So this big Hunt is organised where the leading potion makers sign up to compete to find the cure first. Samantha Kemi is her Master potion maker Granddad's apprentice and puts herself and her friend forward to brew the cure. Along the way there is a lot of adventure, a villain, and a bit of romance.
I loved the Wilde Hunt! To me it was cross between the race in Fire and Flood, and the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter. I'd love to have taken part - but maybe without so many dangerous situations!
Samantha was a great character - smart, kind, and brave. She really made the potion stuff come to life! There was a lot of talk about ingredients and her family's history with potion making that I found to be really interesting.
What I liked most about The Potion Diaries was that it was a light hearted fantasy book. I've read a lot of quite dark and intense fantasy books lately so this was a nice change. I liked how it was set in a modern world, with cars and phones and a government, etc. It was a great change and it made it a much quicker read.
3.5 Stars for a really cute story! I'd seen this under the US title, "Madly," but I didn't realize it was coming out here in the UK yesterday, so when I saw it in Waterstones this morning, I grabbed it immediately. Then I sat down inside the Waterstones and proceeded to read it all. In one sitting. It's so quick and cute, I just did not want to put it down.
-super awesome world. I liked how it was basically just the modern, everyday world, just laced with magic. There's still phones and email and tv and social media, but it is all overlayed with the fairy tale vibe of a monarchy and magic spells. It reminded me a bit of the movie version of Ella Enchanted, just with more technology. -main character with some really cool skills. She herself is not magic, but she is absolutely incredible at the subtle art of potion making (Snape would be so proud!) and her "superpower" is knowing how things would work together to make a potion. I was really interested in the process and I liked how potions played a huge role in the society, especially the fight between huge potion corporations and small, family run shops. -scavenger hunt-y quest thing which took our main character, Sam, to some pretty awesome places in search of ingredients for a potion. I liked how her travels introduced us to more of the world. -the parts with Princess Evelyn being in love with herself were hilarious, I truly enjoyed reading those chapters.
-felt kind of juvenile at times, more like something I would've read in middle school. Not necessarily a bad thing, because it was still enjoyable, just not what I was expecting. -not a huge fan of the romance, it felt like it appeared out of nowhere. I was much more interested in Sam's personal development than her somewhat conflicting crush on the heir to the huge potion corporation. -some unexplained bits of the world confused me, but I feel like there will be more development on that level in subsequent books.
All in all, did I like the story? yes. did I feel like it fell just a tad flat in some areas? yes. will I read on in the series? oh hell yes! I think the world is unique, and I love reading about the potion making, so this is definitely a series that I intend on keeping up! Cute read.
Нелепая случайность, и вместо того, чтобы влюбить в себя кавалера, принцесса Эвелин сама выпивает зелье и влюбляется... в собственное отражение. Мрак и ужас, учитывая, что члены королевской семьи - сильнейшие маги, и потому сдерживают, не используют свои силы. А Эвелин создала зелье сама. Из натуральных ингредиентов, в то время как на дворе двадцать первый век, и все пользуются синтетикой. В общем, вывести противоядие не так-то просто.
В тот же миг просыпается древний рог и призывает всех на Охоту - крупнейшее состязание среди алхимиков. Ритуал магический, по типу турнира из "Гарри Поттера", и отмене не подлежит. Задача - найти ингредиенты и изготовить противоядие для принцессы. Приз - горы золота и не только. Сроки - 48 часов, дабы опередить изгнанную сестру короля, которую тоже призвала Охота.
Саманта - потомственный алхимик. Ее призвали, и пусть дедушка против ее участия, но Сэм нуждается в победе. Как и множество ее конкурентов.
А меж тем принцесса уже планирует свадьбу с отражением, и за всеми событиями неотрывно следят СМИ.
Забавная вещица. Легкая, в чем-то наивная, в чем-то грустная, но светлая. Понравился симбиоз магии и современного мира. Хотя не везде он удачно прописан, но соседство зелий и сотовых, заклинаний и электронной почты... Прикольно) В смысле, в городском фэнтези это не новость, но тут все немного иначе... С королями и принцессами из классических сказок))
Роман где-то на границе между ya и middle grade, есть в нем детскость, но, имхо, это истории только на руку. Любовная линия не очень понравилась. Какая-то она невнятная и беспричинная. Я бы и без нее обошлась. Плюс было несколько оборванных ниточек, но возможно, это еще аукнется в продолжении серии. Хотя роман можно читать и как самостоятельное произведение.
Me esperaba más, mucho más. El libro ha sido más juvenil/infantil de lo que esperaba y la idea "divertida y original" no lo ha sido tanto. La historia y personajes siguen el camino de los tópicos de los libros de aventuras juveniles/infantiles con el plus de las pociones. La verdad es que me ha decepcionado un poquito, es una historia ligera y entretenida pero no ha dejado ningún tipo de huella en mi y pienso que la idea se podría haber aprovechado mucho más.
Fantasy seems to be all the rage lately - it's the new dystopia. So there was no doubt that I was looking forward to reading Amy Alward's Madly. What drew me into the book, however, was the cover (obviously!), but also the synopsis. It sounded like it would be different from all the other YA fantasy books I've read because it seemed to be more on the funny side. Madly ended up being exactly that and it turned out to be a very entertaining read.
The basis of the plot in Madly was pretty simple - the princess of Nova creates a love potion that she winds up drinking and she finds herself falling in love with herself and to cure her, the royal family organizes a nationwide hunt for alchemists. Our protagonist, Samantha, is one such alchemist. Madly definitely fell on the more adventurous side of YA fantasy and while it didn't have complex or dynamic world building as many other books genre do, it was fun to read. I thought it was the perfect sort of book when you're looking for something lighter and just want to turn your brain into mush.
The adventures that Samantha went on together with friends to procure the ingredients needed for the potion were so amusing. I found myself giggling and simultaneously, cheering on Sam. She encountered quite the few obstacles on her path, some of them quite deadly, but the book still managed to remain fun throughout it all. The setting threw me off a little bit at first because it seemed to be a modern world setting with fantasy elements and all kinds of supernatural creatures, like yetis and mermaids. I don't think I've actually read anything like the world in Madly before, but it was certainly interesting.
Madly wouldn't have been as enjoyable without the main character, Sam. She was a sweet girl, who was driven and really wasn't afraid of challenges that came her way. I liked that she was so resilient and could bounce back no matter what the situation was. Her motivations for participating in the hunt were also remarkable, with her doing it all for her family's name. As you may have guessed, family was a huge theme in Madly. I loved how close Sam was to her family and loved how involved they were in each others lives. More YA families like in Madly, please! Madly has a sweet romance between Sam and the son of a pharmacy mogul, Zain, but it developed on the sidelines. I would have preferred to have a touch more of a romance, but I think the next book will be stronger in that department.
Overall, Madly read a little young and I think it will appeal more to younger readers, but regardless, it was very entertaining. I'll be checking out the sequel for sure. If you're looking for a cute fantasy read, I definitely recommend this book.
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher via NetGalley. This is no way impacted in my view.
Before looking at NetGalley, I hadn't heard much about this book, but both the cover and synopsis drew me in, and I had to request it ASAP. This book was really different to what I'd expected, but in a good way.
The Potion Diaries (also published as Madly in America), recounts in dual POV the stories of Princess Evelyn and the alchemist apprentice Samantha Kemi as their stories intertwine to save the princess's life. As said in the synopsis, Evelyn accidentally takes her own love potion, meant for someone else, and manages to fall in love with herself. Due to the instability of her magic, the whole kingdom rests on a cure, and Sam is one of the alchemists tasked with finding said cure. Through the two POV's, we get to know both ends of the story, from the search for the ingredients and recipe through Sam, and how Evelyn is coping being in love with herself - though she doesn't realise that Lynn is actually just her reflection.
Out of the two POV's, Sam's was definitely my favourite. I really enjoyed getting to know her character, and I feel like she definitely grew throughout the story. Though she had definite feelings for Zain - a character I also really liked - she didn't let that get in the way of the task at hand - saving Evelyn. Zain and Sam's relationship was really cute, and I hope to see more in the next books. Both Zain and Evelyn were also really good characters, even with Evelyn a bit crazy in love with herself.
The different places travelled in this book were all really unique, and enjoyable. I loved how the magic elements, and alchemy details, were included in the dialogue, especially the little descriptions of what each ingredient can be used for. I can't to see more of this in subsequent books.
Overall, this book was a really wonderful twist of the modern world and old magic/alchemy, and I really enjoyed it. I definitely can't wait to get my hands on the second book, and would recommend this as a wonderful UKYA debut!
Excellente lecture que celle-ci. Le résumé m'a directement plu : l'histoire d'une princesse qui s'empoisonne avec un filtre d'amour destiné à son meilleur ami, pour le rendre amoureux d'elle. Un monde où la magie a une place importance, où The Hunt va être lancée pour permettre aux alchimistes du pays de trouver le remède qui sauvera la princesse. Samantha Kemi est l'apprentie alchimiste de son grand-père, issue d'une longue lignée d'alchimistes qui avaient autrefois les faveurs de la famille royale, avant que ZA Corps n'arrive avec des ingrédients synthétiques aux mêmes propriétés que les naturels. Le but de Samantha ? Grâce à la Chasse, trouver le remède et redorer le nom de sa famille.
Ce livre est un petit concentré d'action. On part avec Samantha à la recherche de chaque ingrédient dans diverses contrées de son monde, où des difficultés l'attendent à chaque fois. Malgré les obstacles qui se dressent devant elle, Samantha ne se décourage pas et continue la recherche jusqu'à compléter la recette du filtre qui sauvera la princesse. J'ai aima la détermination du personnage de Samantha, sa volonté à affronter les difficultés, à se dresser contre son grand-père qui refuse de la voir participer dans cette Chasse et par l'amour qu'elle porte à sa famille. J'ai aussi beaucoup aimé le personnage de Zain, le fils de Zol de ZA Corps, son "ennemi" dont elle est cependant secrètement éprise. Zain n'est pas du tout comme son père, il recherche d'abord à sauver son amie, la princesse, avant de penser à la récompense pour celui qui trouvera la potion.
L'histoire se lit tout seule et est très agréable. Il est difficile de lâcher le livre vu qu'à chaque fin de chapitre, un nouvel obstacle se dresse devant Samantha. J'ai aussi aimé les chapitres dédiés à la Princesse, où l'on voit la dégradation de son état à cause de la magie. Elle tombe amoureuse d'elle-même et ne pas pouvoir être proche de celle qu'elle appelle "Lyn" la rend folle au point de créer des tremblements de terre qui menacent non seulement le palais mais la ville autour du palais !
Il y a cependant un petit bémol qui fait que ce livre n'est pas un coup de coeur : j'ai trouvé que certains passages étaient balayés un peu trop vite, le plan B quand le A ne fonctionnait pas était assez rapide et ne laissait pas réellement au lecteur le temps de douter de l'issue du roman. La romance reste aussi en deçà de mes attentes : l'interview de Zain et la réaction de Sam ne m'ont pas fait douter non plus que ces deux-là finiraient ensemble. L'auteure utilise un tour un peu convenu et je ne suis pas tombée dans le panneau.
All it took was reading Madly’s opening scene to become head-over-heels excited to read this novel. A story with magic, competition, and a love spell gone wrong? It sounded totally like my cup of tea. I can say that after having already finished this novel, Madly is the type of novel that many readers entering the realm of YA will absolutely adore. It’s a light-hearted, amusing read that kept me guessing until the very end.
Set in a world where magic is a common part of modern life, protagonist Samantha Kemi is the descendent of a long line of alchemists. Her life is average, at best, living as the only non-Talent daughter within her household. Under the rule of a monarchy that watches over the entirety of Nova, Samantha is called to arms alongside a multitude of other alchemists when a love potion (a brand of potion that is outlawed) gone wrong afflicts the kingdom’s beloved princess. Presented with the opportunity of a lifetime, Sam embarks on a quest of her own to discover a cure and save Princess Evelyn before it’s too late. However, in order to do so, Sam is forced to work against Zain Aster. Her biggest competition and a boy who she’s always thought had no idea she existed. But there’s something about Zain that Sam is drawn to and she isn’t too sure if it’s the result of something real or something magical.
What immediately caught my attention with Madly was Alward’s prose. We are first introduced to a scene that is told in the third person, and the past tense, through the eyes of Princess Evelyn. It was absolutely gorgeous. One of the most riveting introductory scenes that I’ve ever had the opportunity to read. Everything about it—the word-choice, the structure—it all just worked. That being said, I was hyped to read more of this wonderful prose only to discover that the majority of Madly is told in Sam’s point of view. The only catch? All of Sam’s chapters are told in the first person, present tense. Throughout reading Madly I wished so badly that the entire story had been told as it had first been presented, as it was difficult to switch later on from present tense to past tense, third person to first person, and so on and so forth.
The world of Madly gave me some very real Lunar Chronicles vibes in the best way. I loved the setting for how unique it was, and I adored the way that Nova had been established and introduced to the reader. The idea of a world filled with ‘Talented’ peoples and alchemists was intriguing, and the time spent within it was great. My only hope was that there would be a bit more elaboration throughout the novel addressing the backstory behind Nova and the kingdom’s history. In a world where you have magic and science existing alongside one another, I imagined that there might have been some sort of overlap or turmoil that had presented itself in the past? I hope that, should we get to look into the world of Madly again in the future, we learn more about the setting’s history.
As for the romance inside of Madly, it’s the kind of novel that has romance that I think younger teen girls will adore. You have your sex-god handsome teenage boy possibly falling for the plucky, average girl that could be anybody in their mind’s eye. The romance was light and cute and left me cheering on the Sam/Zain ship. They were definitely my one true pairing while reading. And the ‘romance’ between Princess Evelyn and the new apple of her eye was beyond hilarious.
I would recommend Madly to any readers who are looking for a good YA novel to test out. Any readers who are looking for a fantasy read that is quick and fun should also give Madly a read. Any readers who are fans of romance, novels with supernatural undertones, and readers who like novels that deal with competitions (a la Hunger Games, The Scorpio Races, etc.) should also check it out.
4.5 Decir que me ha gustado seria decir poco; el mundo que ha creado la autora es fascinante, un mundo nuevo donde la magia, las criaturas mitológicas y las nuevas tecnologías se suman en una novela que atrapa y engancha de una manera increíble. La acción es constante y la competición por conseguir los ingredientes para curar a la princesa me han mantenido en vilo. Un libro que recomiendo completamente, no tiene desperdicio. Pronto reseña completa en el blog.
When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn.
Enter Samantha Kemi - an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam's family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they've fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company? Just how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime?
And just to add to the pressure, this quest is ALL OVER social media. And the world news.
No big deal, then.
Eh. This was okay, but only okay.
The thing I liked most about The Potion Diaries was the world. It was completely original and fun - a world where there was magic, but only accessible to ‘talented’ people, but there’s also cool stuff like teleportation and alchemy and the inclusion of wide-scale social media gave it a really fun, contemporary feel.
The plot itself was okay, and it centred around the hunt for the ingredients to counteract the love potion that the princess has accidentally taken. I never quite worked out how she managed to take the potion herself and I somehow skated over the explanation of how the alchemists knew which ingredients they should be looking for, but it was fun all the same. There’s also a romance subplot, but mostly the book was all about the hunt for ingredients.
I didn’t really buy into the romance. It felt a bit tame. Zain seemed nice enough, and Samantha was nice enough, but it was kind of like when a friend of a friend gets together with a guy she likes. You’re pleased for them and everything, but you’re not really invested. You know? They could get together or not and it wouldn’t make a whole lot of difference to your life. Samantha and Zain’s relationship was like that for me.
I think the whole book had a nice feel - it was fluffy and light, like a strawberry mousse and it reminded me of a modern-day fairy tale - but it lacked the tension to keep me properly hooked. I’d recommend it, but only if you tend to go for YA at the lower end of the age scale. To be honest, I would have no qualms recommending this for an MG audience.
Madly begins with the Princess of Nova accidentally using a love potion she made on herself, falling deeply in love with her own reflection. To save the princess, the kingdom begins the age-old tradition of the Wilde Hunt: alchemists nationwide compete to make the cure and whoever wins gets fame and fortune. Samantha Kemi is from a long-line of potion makers who have fallen on hard times. She has no magic but she has an amazing talent at it and winning the hunt would save her family's business. The quest isn't that easy though, especially when she is head to head against Zain Aster, her cute former classmate and toughest opponent.
The world in this book is wild. But in a really fun way! It's based in a classic cute fairytale world (could be from one of the Barbie movies honestly) but it's also the twenty-first century and it has all the modern technology we know and love, with a magical twist. It was a little weird to get into but I haven't seen anything like this in a long time and I just loved the mash-up. While this book is YA, it could easily be MG and it reminds me of books I would read as a child. The magic system was a little wonky and then there was the whole Talented vs Ordinary class imbalance that could have been expanded on but that's probably for a different kind of book, not this one.
For me, things just started losing it when Sam and her friends go on the hunt for the cure and the ingredients. I think I just didn't want to leave the fun city, castle, and the potions shop but when they jumped on a plane and went to a different country, they left my interest behind. The quest and things they deal with was so boring. Wander around, find ingredient, maybe get attacked because danger. There was also a subplot with the king's sister that didn't seem like it was really going anywhere.
Then there was a romance added and I just did not want that at all. It was so awkward, not cute, and didn't work for me. Plus it felt like it was shoved in just for a major plot point later. The boy was just plain bread. Again, probably my issue because I really thought we were going gay in this one when the fun finder girl climbed through Sam's window to tell her she's going to help her.
But this book was a very light and cute magical story so I'm not mad, but I would only recommend this for those who want a MG type story.
Pociones es un libro objetivamente malo, que ni siquiera te da lo que te promete la sinopsis y el worbu es una mezcla de ideas que forman una imagen que no se sostiene por sí misma. Es la clásica fantasía adolescente americana, donde la suerte siempre sonreirá a la protagonista y la villana se pasea para sembrar el caos en lugar de tener un plan coherente, PERO reconozco que es entretenido y que ha tenido unos cuantos momentos ingeniosos. La mayoría de los personajes secundarios están bastante bien definidos y la protagonista no es una plasta egocéntrica insoportable como suele suceder en estos casos, sino que me ha caído incluso bien.
Y todo lo anterior era algo que esperaba y con lo que incluso contaba. Era un riesgo que asumí porque me apetecía leer farma-alquimia mágica y por eso estoy dispuesta a sacrificar la suspensión de la incredulidad. Pero soy farmacéutica y me ha chirriado tremendamente que el auténtico conflicto del libro sea entre los farma-alquimistas naturales (los buenos) y los farma-alquimistas sintéticos (los malos).
El libro se esfuerza en humillar a los sinténticos, en señalarte que solo usan métodos sucios y que las grandes empresas son terribles (que es cierto). ¡Pero todos sus argumentos solo han conseguido que me ponga a su favor! Ya tengo suficiente con escuchar en la oficina de farmacia a la gente pidiéndome medicamentos naturales "porque son mejores/menos tóxicos/lo que sea" para encontrarme las mismas tonterías en un libro TT____TT Habría sido la mitad de corto si en vez de buscar unos ingredientes peligrosísimos y caprichosos los hubieran sintetizado en un laboratorio. Porque en la vida real, gracias a la química podemos obtener las mismas moléculas sin arrasar con árboles centenarios ni destruir bosques. Y otras veces, sí, se recurre a plantas de las que se refinarán los principios activos. Porque suena muy bonito lo de usar flores, pero a lo mejor la cantidad de compuesto de esa flor es nimio. O tóxico.
Solid 3 star read. It was well-written and the story was somewhat enjoyable, but I expected more. More humour (which was non existent), more emotion (I did not feel any connection to the characters and the Kemi family didn't feel like a real family) and maybe a bit more action (there were a lot of adventures that Kirsty and Sam went on to find ingredients but for some reason the action had no suspense).
So I am now back in my search for the perfect summer read.
J’ai beaucoup aimé cette lecture, j’ai été séduite par le mélange entre la magie et la modernité, ce qui en fait un univers vraiment accrocheur et entraînant. J’ai eu un peu de mal avec les aspects jeunesse de ce livre (il y a quelques clichés ou quelques facilités…) mais c’était finalement moins jeunesse que je le pensais ! Surtout, ça ne m’a pas empêchée d’apprécier l’histoire et le développement. Il y a beaucoup d’action, de rebondissements, et si la fin est un peu rapide et facile à mon goût, ça reste une lecture intéressante et originale que je recommande.