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

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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

BLOG TOUR: Twisted Sisters – Kimber Leigh Wheaton

TwistedSistersTourBanner

Twisted Sisters – Kimber Leigh Wheaton

26126404While playing with a spirit board, two sorority sisters summon the vindictive spirits of three women brutally murdered by a psychopath. Join Logan, Kacie, and the rest of the Orion Circle as they delve into the disturbing events of the past to find the key to freeing the spirits.

But this isn’t any ordinary haunting. These ghosts were banished before, and now they have returned more powerful than anyone could have imagined. Anger breeds hatred and hatred leads to darkness—these phantoms are on the verge of losing their last spark of humanity and becoming completely lost to the shadows.

Can Logan and Kacie convince the tortured souls to embrace the light and move on, or will the spirits succumb to the hypnotic pull of evil, leading to an eternity of torment and suffering?

Release Date: October 25th, 2015

Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours for hosting this blog tour!

Twisted Sisters is the sequel to Tortured Souls, but can be read as a standalone. I read both books back-to-back to get the full experience, but enough backstory is given that you don’t feel like you’re missing anything.

I don’t know what I was expecting going into these books, but I have to say, while they were decent reads, I didn’t love them.

What I liked:

-the plot: who doesn’t love a Ouija board experiment gone wrong? Books like this are the reason I’m both intrigued and terrified of Ouija boards.

-the plot of Tortured Souls reminded me a lot of Libba Bray’s The Diviners, except in a contemporary setting (i.e. not set in the twenties). The Diviners was a lot more grisly when it came to describing the victims, so this felt more like a younger YA version. I compared the way I felt about the ghostly scenes in this book to the way I felt about the ghostly scenes in Asylum – creepy, but not looking-over-my-shoulder-unable-to-sleep-wait-what-was-that-noise creepy.

Twisted Sisters introduces a new character named Blake (who was mentioned at the end of Tortured Souls). He’s a werewolf (this is not a spoiler) so he’s all charming and smooth-talking. I actually wouldn’t have minded at all if the book revolved around Blake and the other new character, Raven.

What I didn’t like:

-the rest of the characters. I’m sorry, but Kacie was so…bland. For someone with her powers, she didn’t jump off the page for me, and it made it hard for me to focus. I also didn’t like Logan (sorry) because he came off as a bit of a tool, especially in Twisted Sisters. I understood that he was frustrated by people messing with paranormal stuff, but he was so aggressive when questioning the sorority sisters. Like, calm down, bro, they haven’t been training for this since they were children, of course they didn’t know what was going to happen!

-I also found Kacie/Logan’s romance to be quite tiresome. It wasn’t quite insta-love, but they spent pages mooning after each other/making out at inappropriate times/cuddling, etc.

-normally I’m a big fan of diverse dialogue tags (it can be boring to just use “said” all the time), but the word “murmur” was used so many times, it felt like the characters were unable to speak at a normal volume.

I’m going to sound old and crabby when I say this, but I think this is the type of book that I would have loved ten years ago (when I was closer to Kacie’s age!). If I had read it at the same time as I read, let’s say, Twilight, heck yeah, I’d have been all over it. But after ten years of reading YA paranormal/supernatural/urban fantasy novels, a book has to be really unique or gorgeously written for me to love it.

That being said, I think a lot of people will enjoy this series, especially if they haven’t read extensively from the paranormal genre.

Rating:

3 interrobangs


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Make sure you check out the rest of the blogs this week!

February 15th
Livre It To Me
VAMPYRELADYS FAVE BOOKS, REVIEWS & OTHER LOVES
Amethyst Bookwyrm
Smada’s Book Smack

February 16th
Jasmine Walt
Books Can Take You There
Lore Lush Books
Only True Magic
Us Girls & A Book

February 17th
Crazy Beautiful Reads
Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books!
The Voluptuous Book Diva
bellsiebooks (that’s me!)

February 18th
Hey, It Was Free!
Enjoying life a day at a time
The Rest Is Still Unwritten
Bookworm for Kids
Don’t Judge, Read

February 19th
The Phantom Paragrapher
Cutting Muse Blog Review
ilovebooksandstuffblog
100 Pages a Day

February 20th
5 Girls Book Reviews
Book-o-Craze
Intoxicated by Books

ARC Review: Escape from Witchwood Hollow – Jordan Elizabeth Mierek

Escape from Witchwood Hollow – Jordan Elizabeth Mierek

23242292Everyone in Arnn – a small farming town with more legends than residents – knows the story of Witchwood Hollow: if you venture into the whispering forest, the witch will trap your soul among the shadowed trees.

After losing her parents in a horrific terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, fifteen-year-old Honoria and her older brother escape New York City to Arnn. In the lure of that perpetual darkness, Honoria finds hope, when she should be afraid.

Perhaps the witch can reunite her with her lost parents. Awakening the witch, however, brings more than salvation from mourning, for Honoria discovers a past of missing children and broken promises.

To save the citizens of Arnn from becoming the witch’s next victims, she must find the truth behind the woman’s madness.

How deep into Witchwood Hollow does Honoria dare venture?

Release Date: October 29th, 2014

Thanks to Jessica and Jordan (the author) for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

Here’s something the synopsis doesn’t tell you: the story is told from three alternative POVs in three different eras: Lady Clifford in 1670, Albertine in 1850, and Honoria in 2001. Each girl finds herself lost in Witchwood Hollow at some point, and their fates are ultimately intertwined.

What I liked:

-the way the three narratives tied together; if you pay close enough attention, you can start to weave them together, but it was still nicely done.

-I thought Honoria’s backstory was unique – I don’t think I’ve read any other YA books that deal with 9/11, though I know many exist – and there were some heartbreaking moments when she tried to deal with her grief.

-I really liked how bold and bittersweet the ending was; I didn’t expect it to end that way, and I love that Mierek took that risk.

-the writing was nice, fairly simple, and easy to follow, but I’ll admit my attention occasionally drifted. It reads on the younger end of the spectrum, so it would be a nice transition between middle grade and young adult; there are some creepy moments, but nothing nightmare-inducing.

What I didn’t like:

-I understood why Lady Clifford was a POV character, but I felt like that took away from some of the surprise at the end (it was pretty obvious)

-I didn’t really like any of the characters, or, at least, I couldn’t pick someone to root for. Honoria was a sympathetic character, but I couldn’t connect with her; I didn’t like any of her schoolmates and the Harley/Leon/Honoria triangle felt a bit forced. The other POV characters – Lady Clifford and Albertine – had their strengths, but neither was a particularly likeable character (in my opinion).

I know that this next thing is going to be super nitpicky, but it threw me off: at one point, Honoria puts on her headphones and listens to Green Day singing about “a boulevard of broken dreams”. Honoria’s section takes place in 2001; “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” was released in 2004 (I knew I was in high school when it came out because American Idiot was everywhere that year!). Pop culture references are so tricky because, if done poorly, they can take away from the story, rather than adding to it; for readers like me who pay attention to these references, it can be off-putting that something as simple as a release date wasn’t double checked. But I suppose that would be an editorial thing, to fact-check before publication.

Overall, Escape from Witchwood Hollow was an interesting debut. It had a great concept, but, in my opinion, if it had been tightened and polished a little bit more, it would have been a lot stronger.

Rating: 

3 interrobangs

3.5 interrobangs

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Best Books I Read In 2015

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week’s prompt is Top Ten Best Books I Read In 2015. I’ve narrowed it down to the best books I’ve read this year that were released in 2015 (I read some good ones that are at least a year old!).

Each one is linked to my review (the first three are in order).

  1. Every Word – Ellie Marney
  2. The Hollow Boy – Jonathan Stroud
  3. The Wondrous and the Wicked – Page Morgan
  4. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertali
  5. Nimona – Noelle Stevenson
  6. Mad Miss Mimic – Sarah Henstra
  7. The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath / The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl – Ishbelle Bee
  8. Dumplin’ – Julie Murphy
  9. Library of Souls – Ransom Riggs
  10. Alice Takes Back Wonderland – David D. Hammons

BONUS
Here are another five books that I rated 5 interrobangs that weren’t released in 2015 (and that don’t include any re-reads!):

  1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor (review coming soon!)
  2. The Universe Versus Alex Woods – Gavin Extence
  3. The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen – Susin Nielsen
  4. Soulless – Gail Carriger
  5. Outlander – Diana Gabaldon

What were your top ten books this year?

ARC Review: A Thousand Nights – E.K. Johnston

A Thousand Nights – E.K. Johnston

21524446Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time. But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

Release Date: October 6th, 2015

Thank you to Cuddlebuggery and their Little Blogger, Big Ambition project and Shelly at Read.Sleep.Repeat for sending me the arc! Cuddlebuggery is one of my favourite YA book blogs and, having briefly chatted with her on Twitter, Shelly seems like a total sweetheart (I swear they didn’t pay me to say this).

I’ve seen a lot of reviews comparing this book to The Wrath and the Dawn, but, since I haven’t read The Wrath and the Dawn yet (I know, what am I waiting for?), I figured I’d go into it without any preconceived notions.

Unfortunately, I read this book in between Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight which was silly of me, because Laini Taylor left me on such a book-high, very few things could have compared to it. So the timing was poor on my part, but I also just couldn’t get into this story.

What I liked:

-the writing. It had the right tone for the story – nothing modern or jarring, it was poetic and lovely and there were some nice descriptions.

-I LOVE that the strongest relationship in the book was between two sisters. As someone who is exceptionally close to her sisters myself, I could relate to that feeling of wanting to protect your older siblings because you can’t stand to see them hurt.

-there were some chapters from the demon-spirit-thing’s point of view, which was cool and added a touch of darkness, but the typeface killed my eyes and made it hard to focus. But maybe I’m just old, I don’t know.

-I appreciate some good old magical realism every now and then.

What I didn’t like:

-I understood that she was Doing a Thing by having the majority of her characters remain nameless, but it felt awkward, especially when the sisters were talking to each other. It was also quite cumbersome to refer to older relatives as her “father’s father’s father”, but I suppose it’s more traditional?

-I’m still not entirely sure how she saved the day. And since there was no romance, I really didn’t understand her decision at the end.

-my biggest problem: where were the stories? I’m not an expert on the tales of Scheherazade or anything, but I expected some stories. Legends or myths or straight-up nonsense – not brief snippets of conversation, usually revolving around her sister (not that there’s anything wrong with telling stories about your siblings, I do it all the time!). I did like that certain things she said seemed to come true, but since it wasn’t saving her life, it was a little bit of a letdown.

Overall, I just couldn’t get into it. There were a lot of pages, but it didn’t seem like much was happening, and I felt like it took me a lot longer to read than it should have. I’m sure there are people who will appreciate the more meandering pace of the novel. Also, the lack of romance was both refreshing and disappointing, and I’m not sure how I feel yet.

That being said, I’m really interested in E.K. Johnston’s forthcoming novel, Exit, Pursued By a Bear, and I’ll probably give that a chance since I liked her writing style.

Rating:

3 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!

ARC Review: Becoming Darkness – Lindsay Francis Brambles [DNF]

Becoming Darkness – Lindsay Francis Brambles

22095753Like everyone else living in Haven, seventeen-year-old Sophie Harkness is an Immune–a carrier of the genetic mutation that protects her from the virus Hitler unleashed upon the world more than half a century ago. A virus that wiped out most of humanity and turned two-hundred million people into vamps. But after her best friend is brutally murdered and several attempts are made on her own life, Sophie becomes determined to find answers to what seems to be a conspiracy running generations deep. And when she questions the peace treaty that keeps her small community protected, Sophie begins to discover terrible truths about herself and what it means to be human in a world ruled by darkness.

Lindsay Brambles’ debut young adult novel is a story of an alternate universe: Hitler won the war, our modern technologies never evolved, and the Nazis’ terrifying reign still continues. This fast-paced novel will appeal to readers who guzzle up genre mashups and are looking for a fresh hybrid to sweep them away.

Release Date: October 1st, 2015

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

I thought I had written a review for this, but apparently I only wrote one on Goodreads? So I copied it here, in case, you were wondering how I felt about this book. Also, feel free to add me as a friend!

I gave up somewhere around page 350, then skimmed the last 10 pages to see if I was missing anything spectacular (I don’t think I did).

The Twilight vibes were too strong with this one (and not in a good way). I get that it’s set in 2004-ish, but that doesn’t mean it has to read like a book that was actually written/popular in 2004.

Loved the concept, and I thought it would be really interesting to explore that alternate world, but the plot focused so much on Sophie/Val and their creepy relationship, I kept forgetting they were even in an alternate future. And their romance wasn’t even hot enough for me to be okay with the lack of world-building especially since I spent most of the book wondering why she was okay with his past.

As sexist as it sounds, it is just me or are male authors not always the best when it comes to writing romance? I can think of more books-by-dudes where I felt nothing between the main characters than I can of books-by-ladies (I looking at you, Thomas Sniegoski).

Also, as other reviews have pointed out, it was a little odd that, in a book with its roots in WWII, there was no mention of a Jewish person until over 300 pages in.

I always feel terrible when I give up on a book (this is my first unfinished book this year!) because I know how much work goes into it, but I couldn’t connect with any of the characters and I have a very large stack of books calling my name. No offense to anyone who loved this one :)

Rating:

interrobang transparent

1.5 interrobangs at the most.


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!