Saturday, 31 January 2015

The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician Trilogy #1) by Charlie N. Holmberg

Sponsored post: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Amazon Publishing and NetGalley.

Blurb (from Goodreads):
Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic… forever. Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined — animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic. An Excisioner — a practitioner of dark, flesh magic — invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician Trilogy, #1)(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Amazon Publishing and NetGalley.)

“Material made by man, your creator summons you. Link to me as I link to you through my years until the day I die and become earth.”




This book started out quite promising, but unfortunately took a big turn for the worse.

I found Ceony quite a rude person, and she was also really, really nosey! She was rude to her new employer, rude about his house, and whenever given the chance would happily nose around his office and his bedroom, rifling through his things, and generally spying on him!

“The front you put on your home is horrid.”



“The tiniest smile teased her lips as she sat down in Mg. Thane’s desk chair and began opening his drawers, none of which had been locked.”





The storyline in this started out okay, I liked the way the magicians made so many things from paper, and did things with it that you maybe wouldn’t think of, like making an origami dog.

“Ceony gaped in surprise. There, wagging its little paper tail, stood a paper dog.”




But at around the half-way mark, things just went downhill rapidly. Whilst I accepted that magic could be used to steal someone’s heart, I really hated the part of the book where Ceony got sucked into said heart, and had to battle her way through it!

I also noticed a bit of a ‘Wizard of Oz’ resemblance in this book. A girl sucked into a strange land through no fault of her own, complete with her little dog, and looking for someone called ‘Em’? Sounds like Dorothy to me.



The ending of this was a relief, and I was so glad that the book ended at 96%! The last 20% of the book was just painful to get through. My eyes now need a rest from all the rolling they did.



4 out of 10

Friday, 30 January 2015

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Sponsored post: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Simon and Schuster UK Children's and NetGalley.
I Was Here
Blurb (from Goodreads):
From the bestselling author of If I Stay - this summer's YA blockbuster film.

This characteristically powerful novel follows eighteen-year-old Cody Reynolds in the months following her best friend's shocking suicide.

As Cody numbly searches for answers as to why Meg took her own life, she begins a journey of self-discovery which takes her to a terrifying precipice, and forces her to question not only her relationship with the Meg she thought she knew, but her own understanding of life, love, death and forgiveness.

A phenomenally moving story, I Was Here explores the sadly all-too-familar issue of suicide and self-harm, addressing it in an authentic way with sensitivity and honesty.



I Was Here by Gayle Forman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I Was Here(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Simon and Schuster UK Children's and NetGalley.)

This was an okay story, but I did feel that it dragged a bit.

Cody was an okay character, but I found it took me a long while to really understand her and to relate to her. At times I just wanted to shake her and ask her what the hell she was doing, and I didn’t really feel like got her at all until the end of the book, and only then because we got a bit of a sentimental epilogue.

The storyline in this revolved around Cody trying to discover what led her friend Meg to suicide, and more specifically began digging into her online life and emails to try and find clues as to what was going through her head at the time. I understood her need for answers, but when she started taking things too far, and putting her own life in danger, I did start to question what she thought she had to gain.

There was some romance, and it wasn’t bad. I did like the way the romance played out, and I liked that history didn’t repeat itself as such, but I also questioned whether Meg would really approve of Cody’s choice of boyfriend!

The ending to this was okay, and we got a sentimental epilogue that was nice. I did like this more than ‘If I stay’, but not a lot, and mainly for the last chapter+epilogue.
6 out of 10


Thursday, 29 January 2015

Captive by A.J. Grainger

Sponsored post: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Simon and Schuster UK Children's and NetGalley.
Captive
Blurb (from Goodreads):
I open my eyes. The cell is flooded with sunlight; the window is a slice of pale blue. Dust particles dance in the sparkling light, pirouetting in a golden line from the window to the opposite wall of the cell, where they seem to converge into shapes. It is like looking into a kaleidoscope.

Dad isn't here. No one is, but me.
Robyn Knollys-Green is an A-list celebrity, famous for being the daughter of one of the world's most powerful men. But not even the paparazzi can find her now.

Robyn begins to realise that she is trapped in a complicated web of global corruption and deceit - and that the strange, melancholy boy who has been tasked with guarding her might not be an enemy after all . . .

A thrilling, well-crafted, ever-relevant story from a talented new voice in YA fiction.



Captive by A.J. Grainger

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Captive(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Simon and Schuster UK Children's and NetGalley.)

This was an okay story, but I did struggle to stay focused on this.

I didn’t really love any of the characters in this book, none of them really irritated me, but then they didn’t really engender any strong feelings at all. I can’t say I really cared what happened to any of them really.

The storyline in this just didn’t really hold my attention well at all, and I wanted to put this down and do something else instead. I felt like I was waiting for her to be kidnapped, and then other than a couple of shock situations, I just wanted her to be found and for the book to be over.

As we got towards the end, some things were revealed that shed some light on why Robyn had been kidnapped, and the information which was being hidden from the public by both her father and another large company. I did find this to be the most interesting part of the book, but even then I was eager for this to be over.

The ending was okay, but I wasn’t overly impressed by the little romance that cropped up.
Overall; slow conspiracy story,
6 out of 10


Wednesday, 28 January 2015

First Frost (Waverley Family #2) by Sarah Addison Allen

Sponsored post: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley.

Blurb (from Goodreads):
From the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells comes a story of the Waverley family, in a novel as sparkling as the first dusting of frost on new-fallen leaves... It's October in Bascom, North Carolina, and autumn will not go quietly. As temperatures drop and leaves begin to turn, the Waverley women are made restless by the whims of their mischievous apple tree... and all the magic that swirls around it. But this year, first frost has much more in store. Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley’s Candies. Though her handcrafted confections—rose to recall lost love, lavender to promote happiness and lemon verbena to soothe throats and minds—are singularly effective, the business of selling them is costing her the everyday joys of her family, and her belief in her own precious gifts. Sydney Waverley, too, is losing her balance. With each passing day she longs more for a baby— a namesake for her wonderful Henry. Yet the longer she tries, the more her desire becomes an unquenchable thirst, stealing the pleasure out of the life she already has. Sydney’s daughter, Bay, has lost her heart to the boy she knows it belongs to…if only he could see it, too. But how can he, when he is so far outside her grasp that he appears to her as little more than a puff of smoke? When a mysterious stranger shows up and challenges the very heart of their family, each of them must make choices they have never confronted before. And through it all, the Waverley sisters must search for a way to hold their family together through their troublesome season of change, waiting for that extraordinary event that is First Frost. Lose yourself in Sarah Addison Allen's enchanting world and fall for her charmed characters in this captivating story that proves that a happily-ever-after is never the real ending to a story. It’s where the real story begins.

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


First Frost (Waverley Family #2)(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley.)

“First frost was always an unpredictable time, but this year it felt more… desperate than others.
Something was about to happen.”




Wow. Just Wow. I Loved this book! I really didn’t want it to end, and now I’m just crying!



I loved the characters in this book, it was so nice to find out what had happened to everybody after the end of ‘Garden Spells’, and seeing Bay all grown up was just so special. I also loved her assortment of slogan t-shirts, with such wonderful statements like ‘come to the dark side. We have cookies’, ‘I have not yet begun to procrastinate’, ‘Either you like bacon, or you’re wrong’, and ‘my life is based on a true story’.

“I’m Bay Waverley, the girl who knows where everything belongs. Nice title, huh? It makes me sound like a neat freak. Which I am, a little. But that’s another story.”



Claire was still Claire, Sydney was still Sydney, and I loved how happy they were with Tyler and Henry. It was also good to meet Mariah, and even though I guessed the twist with regards to her new best friend I still loved it!



The storyline in this book was really good, and I loved the tension over what was going to happen! There was a very dodgy bloke in town, and other slightly odd things going on, and even though I was supposed to be reading another book, I got so sucked into this one, that I couldn’t put it down.

“That man, who was he?” Claire asked, trying not to sound like it was urgent, because it wasn’t really urgent. At least, she didn’t think so.
“What man?” Patrice said.
“There was an elderly man standing here a moment ago,” Claire said. “He had silver hair. He was wearing a silver suit.”
“There was no one here,” Tara said.




There was some romance in this book, and it was super sweet. I just loved how Bay had realised that a certain boy was who she belonged with! Even if it wasn’t who Sydney would have picked for her, it really was just magical.

“Bay was an extraordinary young woman. Beautiful, kind, mysterious. If Josh spent any amount of time with her, he would fall for her. Sydney knew that with a certainty as hard as flint.”



I felt really sorry for both Claire and Sydney in this book and the things they were going through, but this whole book was just so heart-warming and touching, and an absolute joy to read. I hope that more people will read this and fall in love with it too! That ending was just so beautiful! I totally ended up in tears!

Please, please, please let there be more books about this family!

free glitter text and family website at FamilyLobby.com


Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A Cold Legacy (The Madman's Daughter #3) by Megan Shepherd


Sponsored post: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.
Blurb (from Goodreads):
After killing the men who tried to steal her father’s research, Juliet—along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward—has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet’s secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor’s own walls. Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor’s long history of scientific experimentation—and her own intended role in it—forcing her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must decide if she’ll follow her father’s dark footsteps or her mother’s tragic ones, or whether she’ll make her own. With inspiration from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this breathless conclusion to the Madman’s Daughter trilogy is about the things we’ll sacrifice to save those we love—even our own humanity.

A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd

My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars


A Cold Legacy (The Madman's Daughter, #3)(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

“No matter how much Montgomery pushed me to be like my mother, he was wrong. Only my father’s legacy could guide me now. Father had created man out of animal, but he’d never conquered death before. I could.”



This was a really good end to the series, and I loved all the twists!

“Consider this your first lesson: always wear an apron you don’t mind getting dirty. Very dirty.”



I liked Juliet in this book, even if some of her decisions shocked me! Lucy also made some shocking decisions, and I was glad that Montgomery was there at times to keep them from becoming worse that Juliet’s father!

“Maybe the fortune teller was right. Reading the future was nonsense, but there was a grain of truth in how his predictions had made me feel – as though escaping Father was impossible, even in death. Maybe, just maybe, I should stop trying so hard to fight it.”



The storyline in this book was once again back to ‘Frankenstein’, only this time Juliet was the mad doctor! She really did seem to be turning into her father in this book, and she really did seem to be catching the madness that would drive her to start meddling the way her father had.

“Already my fingers were itching to try. Isn’t this what I’d been craving, deep down where I didn’t want to admit it?”



“I pulled a bone saw from my satchel and held it up to the glinting light. “We only need his head.””



I loved how many twists and turns there were in this book though, and Juliet got into so much trouble! Every time things got bad, it wasn’t long before they got even worse! And every time things seemed to be looking up, something else would come along to totally turn things upside down.

“You’re keeping a man secret in the attic,” he said, and blinked solemnly.



There was romance in this book, and even a wedding to plan!

“I reached out to hold his hand. I knew it was untraditional for the bride and groom to touch during the ceremony, but we’d given up formalities a long time ago.”



The ending to this was good, although we did get some unexpected deaths which were a bit sad. I was also left with a couple of questions revolving around the practicality of some things, (Highlight to read spoiler - where would the money come from to rebuild Ballentyne Manor? Juliet had no money, and McKenna certainly wouldn’t have had money. Unless Elizabeth had some somewhere I don’t see how they would have been able to rebuild. And what would happen to Edward in the Arctic? Would Juliet and Montgomery have been able to continue alluding the police? Would they have gotten caught eventually. And would Juliet ever really let the reanimation science die? Would she really never consider using it again? Or writing it down? Would she have ever had children of her own with Montgomery?)

“Sometimes you remind me so much of your father it’s frightening.”

 
8.5 out of 10

Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff

Sponsored post: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.
Playlist for the Dead
Blurb (from Goodreads):
A teenage boy tries to understand his best friend's suicide by listening to the playlist of songs he left behind in this smart, voice-driven debut novel.


Here's what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you'll understand.

As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it's only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.

Part mystery, part love story, and part coming-of-age tale in the vein of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Tim Tharp’s The Spectacular Now, Playlist for the Dead is an honest and gut-wrenching first novel about loss, rage, what it feels like to outgrow a friendship that's always defined you—and the struggle to redefine yourself. But above all, it's about finding hope when hope seems like the hardest thing to find.


Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars


Playlist for the Dead(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

I liked the mystery element of this story, but I didn’t like much else about it.

Sam was an okay character, and I did feel sorry for him and what he was going through after Hayden’s death. I didn’t really love him though.

The storyline in this dragged a bit for me. I wanted to know what had happened the night Hayden killed himself, and I wanted to know what the playlist was supposed to mean, but it felt like a long time coming. I did like the mystery element of the story, but there wasn’t much else in there to keep me entertained unfortunately.
There was a touch of romance, and I was happy that Sam had found someone to support him while he was grieving.

The ending to this was okay, and I was glad that we found out what had happened to Hayden. I was also glad that I had made it to the end of the book though.
Overall; okay mystery element, but the story dragged,
5 out of 10


Monday, 26 January 2015

The Halcyon Bird (The Demon Catchers of Milan #2) by Kat Beyer

Sponsored post: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to EgmontUSA and Edelweiss.
The Halcyon Bird
Blurb (from Goodreads):
For fans of Lauren Kate and Cassandra Clare, a romance with a paranormal streak.

Mia has settled into her life with the Della Torres -- Milan's premier demon-catching family, accompanying them to exorcisms and even learning some way to be useful in the family trade. Then Bernardo comes into her life, handsome, well-mannered, someone who makes her forget her impossible crush on Emilio, her cousin. But always lurking in the background is the demon who possessed Mia once before, and who has not given up on possessing her again--this time for good.

*"Mia has a strong gift for the family trade, which, like the novel's other elements...are portrayed in exquisite, affectionate detail. This one goes to the head of the class." - Kirkus, starred review

"Sets the stage for a thrilling sequel. By the book's close, Mia is armed and ready--she whispers to the demon lurking beyond, 'You'll have to wait. But I'm coming. Believe me, I'm coming.' Readers will be ready, too." - Booklist

"A supernatural novel with a fresh promise, worthy of note." - School Library Journal


The Halcyon Bird by Kat Beyer

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars



The Halcyon Bird(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to EgmontUSA and Edelweiss.)

“Il mio nome e Vendetta,” whispered the demon, cold, guttural.
Oh, please, I thought. For real? “I call myself Vengenance.”
This one should be easy, at least.




This was an okay story, but I did feel like there was a lot of stuff in there that really didn’t need to be in there.

Mia’s verbal diarrhoea continued in this book, while I understood her need to wax lyrical about Italian coffee in the first book, I didn’t expect it to continue in this book, and it wasn’t just about the coffee either. We got all sorts of in-depth descriptions and info-dumps about bicycles, coffee, Venice, wine making, and even a squash!

“Nonno Giuliana was very pleased that Anna Maria and I had found the entries on the Second Door. We read on, learning about the kinds of wood G. Della Torre had used, the number of silver nails, and the real iron nails that had been used to keep the thing from falling off the wall of the palace.”



I mean I will say that at least the door was a significant part of the plot, but discussing wood and nails? I’m sorry, but I’m just not interested in that!



The storyline in this did have a few interesting moments interspersed with Mia’s uncontrollable babbling about things, but I didn’t find them all that entertaining. There were some moments that I think were supposed to be creepy, but they fell a bit flat for me.

“He was holding the hand of a small boy, who looked up at me and spoke in my demon’s voice. I stopped still.
“I will come for you,” the child said simply, his voice deep gravelly, horribly familiar. The grandfather frowned down at his grandson; the air opened and parted; the boy blinked in confusion, himself again.”




We did get a little bit of romance, although Mia once again showed herself up a bit by walking into a car door in front of the boy she liked!

“No problem,” I said lightly, smiling at him, and walked smack into the passenger door.



We did finally get a little bit of action and excitement at the 86% mark, which was a case of ‘too little, too late’ for me. It was a nice change from the pace of the rest of the book, but at that point I really wanted the book to be over.

“Go ahead,” I told my demon. “We’re not finished yet.”



Buffy, she aint.
5 out of 10


Sunday, 25 January 2015

Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman's Daughter #2) by Megan Shepherd


Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman's Daughter, #2)
Blurb (from Goodreads):
To defeat the darkness, she must first embrace it.

Months have passed since Juliet Moreau returned to civilization after escaping her father's island—and the secrets she left behind. Now, back in London once more, she is rebuilding the life she once knew and trying to forget Dr. Moreau’s horrific legacy—though someone, or something, hasn’t forgotten her.

As people close to Juliet fall victim one by one to a murderer who leaves a macabre calling card of three clawlike slashes, Juliet fears one of her father’s creations may have also escaped the island. She is determined to find the killer before Scotland Yard does, though it means awakening sides of herself she had thought long banished, and facing loves from her past she never expected to see again.

As Juliet strives to stop a killer while searching for a serum to cure her own worsening illness, she finds herself once more in the midst of a world of scandal and danger. Her heart torn in two, past bubbling to the surface, life threatened by an obsessive killer—Juliet will be lucky to escape alive.

With inspiration from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this is a tantalizing mystery about the hidden natures of those we love and how far we’ll go to save them from themselves.


Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman's Daughter, #2) “I stumbled back against the empty table, stunned. The thread slipped from my fingers, along with the spool of my sanity.
The murderer was the same. Somehow, even though I’d thought him dead, Edward had done this.”




This was a really good sequel, which this time turned into a real ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ kind of story!



I really liked Juliet in this story, and I felt sorry for her in the way her illness was taking over her life, and the fact that she had been abandoned by Montgomery. I did think she made some crazy decisions at times, and really pushed things at points, but it seemed clear that she was once again doing this to help other people. I knew that we’d definitely have at least one of Juliet’s beaus turning up in this book though, and yay(!) they both did!

“What secret?” I asked. When he didn’t answer I let the fork clatter to the floor and grabbed his suit lapel a little roughly. “What other secret was Montgomery keeping from me, Edward?”
“It doesn’t matter. You loved him, and he left you. I’d never do that to you. I’d sooner cut off my own hand than do anything to cause you pain.” My fingers were still coiled in the stiff fabric of his lapel, and he whispered, “If only you’d give me a chance…”




The storyline in this was really good, and we got quite a few twists and surprises! I liked the murder/mystery part of the story, I liked not knowing who would pop up next, I liked the little twists we got thrown with regards to Juliet’s father’s work, who Lucy’s new Beau was, as well as the question over what Juliet should do about Edward.

“I leaned my head back against the worn wood of the stairwell, eyes closed, uncertain if I was making the biggest mistake of my life by helping a murderer, or if I had found the one person in the world who understood me.”



I really liked the romance in this story too! The love-triangle certainly escalated in this story, with Juliet’s chastity a thing of the past, and even a proposal!

“I want to be just a man, that’s all, who isn’t marked with bruises, who can walk the streets without worry that he’ll kill someone.” He swallowed, as his hands again closed over mine. “Who can love you as you deserve to be loved.”



“Before I knew it, his lips found mine. He tasted of blood and sweat, and it twisted my insides into sharp angles. Tears started down my face but he kissed them away, cupping my cheek, trailing rough fingers along the smooth skin of my neck.
“I was so afraid I’d be too late,” he whispered into my hair. “I’d have torn him apart if he’d hurt you.””





The ending in this was so good! There was plenty of action, gunshot wounds, death, and once again it was time to flee! Really looking forward to book 3 now!

“Come with me,” I whispered, “I need you.”
The tensed muscles in his back eased. “You know I’d follow you anywhere. Though I fear we’ll both end up damned.”



"You wouldn't have abandoned me, and I'm not going to abandon you."




8 out of 10.