Mini Review Round-Up: April-May 2016

I haven’t had time to write full reviews of all the books I’ve read recently…actually, I haven’t had a lot of time to read in general! But here are some mini reviews for the last couple of books I read (and didn’t talk about on Mind the Gap).

The Archived – Victoria “V.E.” Schwab

As you may know, I’m obsessed with V.E. Schwab’s Shades of London trilogy (here are my reviews of ADSOM and AGOS), so now I just want to read ALL THE THINGS she’s ever written. I loved the premise of The Archived, and even liked the characters (any love interest who wears guyliner is fine by me), but it took a while to really get going and there were moments where I felt like I had missed something. There was also a plotline that seemed predictable to me, but I liked how it was handled, and I found myself tearing up during some of Mac’s remembered conversations with her beloved grandpa. Even though her writing in this book is still a million times better than mine on a good day, it’s interesting to see how an author’s command over words can change over the years/books. (Rating: 4 interrobangs)

Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People – Douglas Coupland and Graham Roumieu

I decided to read this one because Douglas Coupland was going to be at my work and I figured I may as well give his writing a shot in case I ended up becoming his biggest fan. Spoiler alert: I did not become his biggest fan. I’ve always sort of suspected that I wouldn’t be into his style, but it was a quick read so I didn’t dwell on it for too long – just long enough to know that Sandra the babysitter was my favourite story. He’s one of those authors where I get the feeling I’m missing a deeper meaning (heavily veiled satire is not my jam at all). I did like the (occasionally gory) illustrations by Graham Roumieu – they have a Quentin Blakes-meets-Tim Burton vibe which is definitely something I’m into. (Rating: 3 interrobangs)

The Bartimaeus Trilogy: The Amulet of Samarkand – Jonathan Stroud

This was the first Jonathan Stroud book I read (13 years ago!! Literally half my life!!) and I remember being floored by how amazing it was. Thankfully, it lived up to my memories (this is the first time I’ve reread it in ages) and reminded me of why I became a Stroud fangirl in the first place (you may recall that I gush about his Lockwood & Co series all the time). Personally, I love how sarcastic Bartimaeus is, and Nathaniel’s cold detachement makes him an interesting – if not always likeable – protagonist. I’m just about done the second book now, so maybe I’ll do a full series review in a month or so. (Rating: 5 interrobangs)

The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness

This book has won eleven billion awards and is super hyped up in the YA book community, but I was so underwhelmed. It took over 100 pages for anything good to happen…and, in this case, “good” is relative. I didn’t love the style (phonetic spelling in books will always drive me bonkers until it’s being used to denote an accent…and even then it can get old quickly), I couldn’t connect with any of the characters, and, while I find a dog talking about poo as funny as the next person, after the seventh time Manchee said “Poo, Todd?” it stopped being entertaining. I know people love this book, but I was so disappointed, possibly because it’s dystopian (aka my least favourite genre). With a series name like “Chaos Walking”, I expected something so much more epic. (Rating: 2.5 interrobangs)

Advertisements

Arc Review: Mer-Charmer – Amy Bearce

Mer-Charmer – Amy Bearce

cover1000Fourteen-year-old Phoebe Quinn is surrounded by magic, but she can’t muster any of her own. Her sister is a fairy keeper. Her best friends are merfolk. And all she does is dishes and housework.

When Phoebe finds out a terrible sea creature is awakening that preys upon the peace-loving merfolk, she becomes determined to help them, even though it means going with Tristan and Mina to their home deep in the sea.

Beneath the waves, Phoebe learns she’s more like her sister than she realized. The merfolk are drawn to her, and she can sense the magic of the sea all around her. Magic is finally at her fingertips, but that’s precisely why the stirring dark power under the waters decides it wants her most of all.

Now she must not only help the peaceful merfolk escape this ancient enemy, she must master her out-of-control powers. If she fails, she will die and darkness will rise and enslave the merfolk once more. But embracing her full power could cost her the very people she loves the most.

Release Date: May 9th, 2016

Thank you to Curiosity Quills for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

If this cover looks familiar to you, it’s because I helped host a cover reveal for it in March. Last year, I also read the first book in the World of Aluvia series, Fairy Keeper.

Maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood, but I didn’t like this one as much as the first one. I still enjoyed it, it just took me longer than it should have to finish.

What I liked:

-the plot. It has a bit of a The Little Mermaid vibe except in reverse. Phoebe, who was rescued by merfolk at the end of Fairy Keeper, spends a lot of time hanging out near the water with her mer-friends, Tristan and Mina, while her sister Sierra and their friends (Micah, Corbin, and Nell) are off doing…something. I can’t actually remember what it is they do when they go off adventuring – saving other magical creatures, I think.

-Phoebe and Tristan’s relationship is adorable. They evolve from friends to “more”, but, since they’re still quite young, it’s all very sweet and innocent.

-sea monsters make great villains. They can be very creepy.

What I didn’t like:

-I felt like the story moved quite slow, and I found myself skimming a lot. There was nothing wrong with the writing, but I guess it just wasn’t appealing to me (which is not to say that it was bad, it just didn’t work for me at the time).

Overall, Amy Bearce’s novels fit in that delicate age between middle grade and young adult where the characters are almost in their teens (or are early teens) but are still pretty innocent. I’d recommend this series for kids who read slightly above their age range (11+).

Rating:

4 interrobangs

Who Broke the Teapot?! – Bill Slavin

Who Broke the Teapot?! – Bill Slavin

26109254Mom is very angry. Her very favorite teapot is broken, and no one is ‘fessing up.

Was it Dad, sitting in his underwear reading the paper?
Was it Cat, who was all tangled up in a ball of yarn?
Was it Baby perched in his highchair?
Or is there a surprising twist to this mystery that teaches Mom a little lesson in anger management?

Bill Slavin takes a sly poke at parents in their less-than-finer moments in this funny and energetic story.

Release date: April 26th, 2016

Thanks to Sylvia at Tundra for sending along the book (and some extra goodies!)!

Children’s books and tea are two of my favourite things, so of course I was excited to hear that there was a children’s book about tea coming out! Sure, it’s technically about a teapot, but that’s close enough for me.

Who Broke the Teapot?! is a delightful rhyming mystery: after a raucous morning, Mom comes down to the kitchen only to find that her favourite teapot has been shattered – and now one is willing to admit they were at fault. It would take a Sherlock Holmes type to figure out whodunit…

The story is fairly short, the rhymes sweet and simple. What makes the book stand out are the illustrations: bold and vibrant, Bill Slavin doesn’t hold back when it comes to colour and even texture. This page, for example, shows Kitty tangled in very real looking wool that makes you want to reach out and untangle her. I also love the cutout letters on the second half of the spread – it looks like a colourful ransom note!

20160504_092644-1

My only issue with the story was one spread where I wasn’t sure which sentence to read first. If I had been reading it to myself, I probably wouldn’t have noticed, but since I was dramatically reading it out loud (in a posh English accent, obviously), I stumbled over the order. After a second read-through, I worked it out and it all flows together nicely.

This will be a fun story to read out loud with children who will delight in shouting “WHO BROKE THE TEAPOT” with increasing volume on every other page (who am I kidding, I also enjoyed having an excuse to shout). Maybe not the best bedtime story, though, because all that yelling may rile them up…

Rating:

4 interrobangs

As a bonus, here’s a recreation of one of my favourite tea-related scenes in all of television history: Sherlock and Moriarty (Moriar-tea!!) in “The Reichenbach Fall“.

Honey, you should see me in a crown

ARC Review: Brave New Girls Anthology

Brave New Girls

22590791This collection of sci-fi stories features brainy young heroines who use their smarts to save the day. Girls who fix robots and construct superhero suits, hack interstellar corporations and build virtual reality platforms. Who experiment with alien chemicals and tinker with time machines. Who defy expectations and tap into their know-how—in the depths of space, or the bounds of dystopia, or the not-too-distant future—to solve despicable crimes, talk to extraterrestrials, and take down powerful villains.

All revenues from sales of this anthology will be donated a scholarship fund through the Society of Women Engineers. Let’s show the world that girls, too, can be tomorrow’s inventors, programmers, scientists, and more.

STORIES BY:

Martin Berman-Gorvine, Paige Daniels, George Ebey, Mary Fan, Kimberly G. Giarratano, Valerie Hunter, Evangeline Jennings, Stephen Kozeniewski, Jason Kucharik, Kate Lansing, Tash McAdam, Kate Moretti, Ursula Osborne, Josh Pritchett, Aimie K. Runyan, Davien Thomas, Lisa Toohey, and Leandra Wallace

With a foreword by Lara Hogan, Senior Engineering Manager at Etsy and author of Designing for Performance

Featuring artwork by Hazel Butler, Ken Dawson, Adrian DeFuria, Evelinn Enoksen, Mary Fan, Christopher Godsoe, Kayla Keeton, Jason Kucharik, Jennifer L. Lopez, Tash McAdam, and Josh Pritchett.

Release Date: June 2nd, 2015

Thank you to the author, Kimberly Giarratano, for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

I have to admit I didn’t read the whole anthology (and it’s actually been a couple of months), but I just realized I never got around to reviewing it, so here I am!

I love that the stories inside are focused on girls who are technologically gifted. Whether they live on a different planet, or in an alternate reality where everything is machine-driven, these girls are no pushovers. They use their smarts and are never considered “outsiders” or “nerds” because they happen to know how to code.

I read Kimberly Giarratano’s contribution first, “Graveyard Shift”, and if you’ve read (and liked) any of Kim’s other books, you’ll definitely enjoy the story of hacker-parolee Philly and her cemetery full of holograms. There are also stories of time travel and mini space operas – basically, there’s something for everyone, even if you’re not normally a sci-fi fan. The girls in each story are, for the most part, fleshed out and, in addition to dealing with technological crises, often have to contend with the perils of adolescence.

My only problem with the anthology is the fact that, as someone who isn’t much of a sci-fi reader, there were some terms or concepts that confused me. Usually they were explained over the course of the story, but this occasionally meant that the story slowed down until we were given all the information we needed. Nonetheless, I’m always impressed with people who can write short stories (I generally prefer writing long-form), and these ladies – and gentlemen – did a fine job representing the different STEM aspects.

Read this if you’re feeling the lack of techie girls in YA, or pick it up for the young techie in your own life.

Rating:

4 interrobangs

ARC Review: Dead and Breakfast – Kimberly G. Giarratano

Dead and Breakfast: A Cayo Hueso Mystery – Kimberly G. Giarratano

29438431Despite living in Key West his whole life, 18-year-old Liam Breyer is a skeptic of the supernatural until a vengeful spirit, murdered fifty years ago, nearly drowns him in a swimming pool. Luckily help arrives in the form of pretty — albeit homesick — ghost whisperer Autumn Abernathy, whose newly-divorced mom has dragged her to the island to live and work at the Cayo Hueso, a haunted bed and breakfast.

Although they initially mistrust each other, Autumn and Liam team up to solve the decades-old mystery. But on an island where every third resident is a ghost, dealing with an unstable spirit has deadly consequences. If Liam and Autumn don’t unmask the killer soon, they’re likely to become Key West’s latest haunted attraction.

Release Date: March 22nd, 2016

Thank you to the author, Kimberly Giarratano, for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

I loved Kim’s first YA mystery, Grunge Gods and Graveyards, when I read it last year, so I was pretty excited when she offered me a copy of her new one.

What I liked:

-the mystery. At first, it seems fairly obvious who the murderer was, but as the story progresses and more clues are unearthed, you start to question whodunnit. Like Kimberly’s previous book, everything unfolds in a logical way, so you never feel like the characters know more than you do.

As for the identity of the murderer…the big reveal was handled very well and I liked how everything tied together.

-Timothy. Although he’s a secondary character, I liked how sassy and knowledgeable he was. I hope he plays a bigger role in the next book!

-the ghostly possession. I don’t want to spoil anything, but Autumn has some pretty cool abilities when it comes to the paranormal.

What I didn’t like:

-while I thought Liam and Autumn were cute together, I wasn’t completely sold on their relationship. Of course, since this looks like the first book in a series, I’m sure by the next one I’ll be hardcore shipping them. But for now, I think I preferred the Lainey/Danny relationship in Grunge Gods.

If you’re looking for cozy YA mysteries with a dark edge, keep Kimberly Giarratano on your radar!

Rating:

4 interrobangs

ARC Review: The Serpent King – Jeff Zentner

The Serpent King – Jeff Zentner

25739281Dillard Early, Jr., Travis Bohannon and Lydia Blankenship are three friends from different walks of life who have one thing in common: none of them seem to fit the mold in rural Tennessee’s Forrestville High. Dill has always been branded as an outsider due to his family heritage as snake handlers and poison drinkers, an essential part of their Pentecostal faith. But after his father is sent to prison for sexual abuse of a young parishioner, Dill and his mother become real pariahs. His only two friends are Travis, a gentle giant who works at his family’s lumberyard and is obsessed with a Game of Thrones-like fantasy series (much to his alcoholic father’s chagrin); and Lydia, who runs a popular fashion blog that’s part Tavi Gevinson and part Angela Chase, and is actively plotting her escape from Redneckville, Tennessee.
As the three friends begin their senior year, it becomes clear that they won’t all be getting to start a promising new life after graduation. How they deal with their diverging paths could cause the end of their friendship. Until a shattering act of random violence forces Dill to wrestle with his dark legacy and find a way into the light of a future worth living.

Release Date: March 8th, 2016

Thank you to my gal Sylvia at Tundra for an ARC of this book!

I read Jeff Zentner’s debut in November and foolishly didn’t write my review right away so my memory of it is a little fuzzy but please: read this book.

Read this book if you want a bad case of the feels. Read this book if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to grow up in the Bible Belt. Read this book if you’re looking for a realistic depiction of friendship, of a crush growing into something more, of a kid who wants to make a name for himself and get out of his father’s shadow.

What I liked:

-the different voices. Told through the POVs of all three main characters – Dill, Lydia, and Travis – each chapter contributes a different flavour to the overall story. They’re all unique and easily identifiable (I don’t know about you, but it drives me bonkers when there are multiple POVs that all sound the same), and I think each reader will find the “strongest” voice based on who they relate to the most.

-the story. Dill’s pastor father was convicted of sexual abuse, and, because of their role in the community, Dill finds it hard to distance himself from his father’s actions. It’s frustrating and sad and, unfortuately, probably true of that kind of town, which makes Dill’s plight all the more sympathetic.

-the writing is lovely and detailed, full of poignant moments of reflection, and even if you’ve never been in a small Southern town, you can picture it.

-despite Dill and Travis’s dysfunctional family situations, Lydia’s parents are shown as being a fun, loving couple, which is hard to find since most YA parents tend to be disinterested or absent or dead. It sets up an intersting dichotomy between Lydia and her friends who aren’t as privileged as her in more ways than one.

-the fantasy series and author who is totally a fictional version of G.R.R.Martin. I’m not a Game of Thrones fan in any way (books or show), but even I can appreciate an allusion like that!

What I didn’t like:

-I can’t think of anything in particular that I didn’t enjoy in The Serpent King. I was warned going in that I would need tissues by the end and I sort of guessed what would happen, but not the circumstances surrounding that event. As sad as it was, I’m almost glad it went in that direction otherwise I would have been disappointed by a predictable ending.

During my Tundra internship, I read the first 20-odd pages of Jeff’s second book, and I went from crying to laughing and back again so fast, I felt confused for the rest of the day. The Serpent King is similar in that you’ll find yourself smiling right before you’re kicked in the heart on the very next page. An impressive debut, I’m looking forward to the rest of Jeff’s work.

Rating:

4 interrobangs

The Invisible Library – Genevieve Cogman

The Invisible Library – Genevieve Cogman

21416690Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.

Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own.

Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake.

I picked up this book in London this past December for two reasons: that cover and that synopsis. Let’s talk about those two elements a bit.

THAT COVER

It’s such a lovely colour, and I absolutely love the gold details. It gives it an old-fashioned feel which works really well with the plot. I also like that it looks textured, like it’s covered in material or something.

THAT SYNOPSIS

First of all, I’d like to work in (for?) the Library. The Librarians go to alternate worlds, collecting books that are somehow significant – they keep the work in the Library but they can take it back to its original world if it’s needed. These Librarians are bound to the Library using some sort of tattooed brand, and, while they’re are exactly immortal, they age at a different rate. As Irene puts it:

…all of us who are sealed to the Library are people who have chosen this way of life because we loved books…We want books. We love books. We live with books…

Doesn’t that sound magical? My only problem was that I had a hard time understanding how the Library worked. Up until Irene explains it Vale (more than halfway through), I was struggling to figure out how it all worked. I actually just thought I had skipped a crucial word/phrase, but I think it was intentionally vague until she has to start updating outsiders.

Irene was a lovely protagonist. She’s a more bookish version of Gail Carriger’s Alexia Tarabotti – no-nonsense and clever, but where Alexia would scour the room for food, Irene is more interested in literature. It made for some great literary allusions (probably quite a few that I didn’t pick up). For some reason, the writing and general vibe reminded me of the underrated but fabulous Sorcery & Cecelia, though maybe a bit more “grown up”.

I also liked her assistant Kai; I figured out his secret fairly early on, but it was still interesting. If he is her love interest (which I’m guessing he is, though it’s not explicitly stated), he didn’t have a huge role/she didn’t spend pages mooning over him, apart from mentioning a few times that he is attractive. This was a nice change because it let Irene’s intelligence stay in the spotlight with less of a focus on a possible romance.

The world-building is one of the best parts of the book; it’s the first in a trilogy, and I’m excited to see how Genevieve Cogman expands on the alternate worlds over the course of the next two books.

Rating:

4 interrobangs

Dreams of Gods and Monsters – Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods and Monsters – Laini Taylor

13618440What power can bruise the sky?
Two worlds are poised on the brink of a vicious war. By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera’s rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her.
When the brutal angel emperor brings his army to the human world, Karou and Akiva are finally reunited–not in love, but in tentative alliance against their common enemy. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves.
But with even bigger threats on the horizon, are Karou and Akiva strong enough to stand among the gods and monsters?
The New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy comes to a stunning conclusion as–from the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond–humans, chimaera, and seraphim strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

*synopsis taken from the paperback version because the hardcover one was soooo long

As you may recall, I read the first two books in Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy late last year and LOVED them. I finally got around to buying the third one (in hardcover, because they’re just too pretty to not have a matching set!), and read it last week.

While it was really good and tied up a lot (yet still left room for a spin-off or two), it wasn’t my favourite ending to a series.

The trilogy is fantastic – in more ways than one. Like the previous installments, I loved getting to know the chimera/seraphim ways of life, and the characters, of course, are brilliant. Zuzanna and Mik continue to be comedic relief while still holding their own in the face of danger; Ziri plays a bigger part and shows some interesting development; Liraz is still badass; and Karou and Akiva still just need to kiss already.

There is the past, and there is the future. The present is never more than the single second dividing one from the other. We live poised on that second as it’s hurtling forward—toward what?

Taylor also made the intriguing decision to add a couple of new POV characters. It’s rare that a third (and final) book would spend time on random people, but they ended up playing important roles, so it can be forgiven. It was hard, however, to get into their chapters when I was wondering how it was going to all work out. But I shouldn’t have worried – at 613 pages, there was more than enough room for all the loose ends to be tied up.

I don’t know what else to say without spoiling ALL THE THINGS, but I will say that while I was satisfied with the ending, I also felt vaguely unsatisfied. I can’t put it into words exactly how I feel or what I wish had happened, but I’ll admit that I was sort of expecting an unhappy ending for at least one of the characters (I know I’m in the minority when it comes to unhappily ever afters, though).

For some reason, as soon as I finished it, as I was trying to fall asleep, I compared the end to Breaking Dawn – a lot of build-up that was resolved too quickly to have a real impact on my emotions. I think I expected to cry and then was weirdly disappointed that I didn’t?

Happiness wasn’t a mystical place to be reached or won–some bright terrain beyond the boundary of misery, a paradise waiting for them to find it–but something to carry doggedly with you through everything, as humble and ordinary as your gear and supplies.

There was also a lot more mooning this time around – pages of Karou and Akiva looking longingly at each other but fate kept getting in the way of them actually making a move. I could have sped those parts up a bit, if only to get back into the real action, but Taylor’s writing is still so lush and gorgeous, it’s easy to let her sweep you along.

I’d still recommend reading the whole trilogy, just make sure you have a lot of time on your hands when it comes to this behemoth!

Rating:

4 interrobangs

Library of Souls – Ransom Riggs

Library of Souls – Ransom Riggs

24120519As the story opens, sixteen-year-old Jacob discovers a powerful new ability, and soon he’s diving through history to rescue his peculiar companions from a heavily guarded fortress. Accompanying Jacob on his journey are Emma Bloom, a girl with fire at her fingertips, and Addison MacHenry, a dog with a nose for sniffing out lost children.

They’ll travel from modern-day London to the labyrinthine alleys of Devil’s Acre, the most wretched slum in all of Victorian England. It’s a place where the fate of peculiar children everywhere will be decided once and for all.

Like its predecessors, Library of Souls blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography.

Before I start this review, I just want to warn you: if you’re going to read Library of Souls and it’s been a while since you read Hollow City, you should probably re-read that first because this book picks up literally ten seconds after the events of book two.

I think that’s part of the reason why I ultimately gave Library of Souls four stars instead of five. Well, that, and the fact that it took a while to get going, not unlike the previous two books. I do wish I had been given some sort of recap at the beginning.

That being said, I enjoyed this one a lot more than Hollow City. While I’ll probably never accept Jacob/Emma’s relationship (seriously, did she have to be Abe’s ex-girlfriend?? Why couldn’t they have just been friends??), the overall story was more interesting than the book two.

I liked the introduction of Sharon, who helps the peculiars on their quest. And the final showdown with Caul and his siblings was well done. I especially liked the way everything was resolved at the end, which brought the series to a nice close.

I’m being vague here because I don’t want to spoil it. I will say that it ended much better than I thought it would. And even though Jacob still doesn’t strike me as overly intelligent, I felt like he was more alive in this installment than in the previous ones, that you could really feel his personality coming off the page, whereas he felt flat and 2D in the first two books.

Recommended if you enjoyed the first two books; if you didn’t love Hollow City, I’d still suggest picking this up for a good conclusion to an interesting series.

Rating:

4 interrobangs

Mini Review Round-Up: September – October 2015

I realized the other day that I read a bunch of books in the past few months that I didn’t write reviews on. I’m not sure why, to be honest, but instead of writing eight (!) extra posts, I’ve condensed them all into one post of mini reviews!

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow – Katherine Woodfine

24463265A charming middle-grade mystery. I can see it appealing to people who’ve read/want to read The Adventures of Miss Petitfour (except a lot less cats). There were certain elements that seemed “older” than middle-grade, but I feel like people in the UK have different standards for children’s books. Also, LOVE the endpapers/spot illustrations by Julia Sarda.

Rating: 4 interrobangs


Knightly and Son – Rohan Gavin

17978149Mix Artemis Fowl (or really any Eoin Colfer boy protagonist) with a hint of Sherlock Holmes, a dash of Lemony Snicket’s All The Wrong Questions series, and a lot of Spy (the hilarious British show), and you get this. I think I literally laughed out loud a couple of times (or at least snorted). Another fun middle-grade mystery, not to be taken too seriously.

Rating: 4 interrobangs


The Ghosts of Ashbury High – Jaclyn Moriarty

0-545-06973-4I’ve been a big fan of Jaclyn Moriarty’s Ashbury/Brookfield books for many years, and I was so stoked when I realized there was a fourth book (they’re loosely connected so you don’t really need to read them in order). I liked what she was doing with it – ghosts! gothic fiction! exams! – but I found it took longer to get into this installment than the others.

Rating: 4 interrobangs


Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times – Emma Trevayne

18332010This cover kills me, it’s so pretty. It had a lot of elements that I really enjoyed – clocks and London and alternate universes, to name a few – and I would compare the tone to classic children’s books like Peter Pan or The Wizard of Oz. The only thing that stopped it from being perfect was the slow-moving plot: stuff happened, but it took a while for it to really pick up.

Rating: 4.5 interrobangs


Vivian Divine is Dead – Lauren Sabel

18651963I got an ARC of this last year when I was interning at HarperCollins Canada and then sort of forgot about it until last week. It started out great, then kind of sputtered along in the middle, and the end was good in a soap opera kind of way. Now that I think about it, it’s probably similar to a really dramatic Hispanic soap opera. Decent, but not stellar.

Rating: 3 interrobangs


Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean – Justin Somper

1721141This was a re-read. I know it sounds almost like a joke (vampires + pirates?), but it’s honestly such a good series, even if the second book is a little slow. Lorcan Furey is definitely one of my book boyfriends. And I know it gets better, especially when the badass lady vampirate shows up. Really, I was just glad to see it still held up after almost ten years!

Rating: 5 interrobangs


Why is This Night Different From All Other Nights? – Lemony Snicket

25229245I’ve been reading Lemony Snicket books for literally half my life, so you think by now I’d know that a series ending is just going to leave me confused. It was about as satisfying (that is, unsatisfying) as I expected, but still so Lemony Snicket (if you’ve read his books, you know exactly what I’m talking about). Loved the references to ASOUE characters!

Rating: 4 interrobangs


Whisky From Small Glasses and The Last Witness  – Denzil Meyrick

2482053222665422I liked book one more. It was well-paced and I could easily imagine the small Scottish town where it took place. It’s interesting because some of the characters, such as DS Scott had heavy Scottish accents which were depicted in the text (think Hagrid’s way of speaking x 1000). Book two was harder to get into for because the storyline was more complicated and DS Scott played a huge role, which made reading it a chore.

Rating (Whisky From Small Glasses): 4 interrobangs
Rating (The Last Witness): 3 interrobangs

Have you read any of the books on this list? Or do you have any recs for me now that I’ve read these? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. Don’t forget to enter this giveaway for an ebook of J.P. Grider’s Naked and Far From Home, courtesy of Xpresso Book Tours!