Monday, 29 September 2014

The Witch of Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 384
Publisher: 4th of September 2014
Released: Orchard Books

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the sea witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe and prosperous at sea. But before she could learn how to control her power, her mother - the first Roe woman in centuries to turn her back on magic - steals Avery away from her grandmother. Avery must escape before her grandmother dies, taking with her the secrets of the Roe's power. 

The one magical remnant left to Avery is the ability to read dreams, and one night she foresees her own murder. Time is running short, both for her and for the people of her island who need the witches' help to thrive.

Avery has never read a dream that hasn't come true, but a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane tells her he can help her change her fate. Becoming a witch may prevent her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers it will also require a sacrifice she never expected. And as she falls in love with Tane, she learns it is his life and hers that hang in the balance.

What I Have To Say 

This is a lovely tale of expectations, coming of age, first love and magic. The vivid backdrop of the Whaling community on a small island gives a really intricate background to Avery's tale. It's obviously very well researched and the authors note at the end gives more details about the way Kulper created everything from the details of society to the magic system based on real details and superstitions. 

Avery was a really strong female character. Although the Roe women seemed to be based on the same mold (as was stated in the book) they did seem to have slight differences as can especially be seen between Avery's mother and Avery herself. But to me, Avery was the best. Determined to take her place in society and obstructed by destiny. 

I'm really looking forward to the next book and seeing how Avery gets on after the events of the book. I can see it being a struggle for her and hope the next book builds on Avery's character in the same really interesting way. I have high expectations for this author. 

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Lockwood & Co. The Screaming Staircase and The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

Synopsis of The Whispering Skull (from Goodreads

Pages: 322
Publisher: Doubleday Children's Books
Released: 25th of September 2014


In the six months since Anthony, Lucy, and George survived a night in the most haunted house in England, Lockwood & Co. hasn't made much progress. Quill Kipps and his team of Fittes agents keep swooping in on Lockwood's investigations. Finally, in a fit of anger, Anthony challenges his rival to a contest: the next time the two agencies compete on a job, the losing side will have to admit defeat in the Times newspaper.

Things look up when a new client, Mr. Saunders, hires Lockwood & Co. to be present at the excavation of Edmund Bickerstaff, a Victorian doctor who reportedly tried to communicate with the dead. Saunders needs the coffin sealed with silver to prevent any supernatural trouble. All goes well-until George's curiosity attracts a horrible phantom.

Back home at Portland Row, Lockwood accuses George of making too many careless mistakes. Lucy is distracted by urgent whispers coming from the skull in the ghost jar. Then the team is summoned to DEPRAC headquarters. Kipps is there too, much to Lockwood's annoyance. Bickerstaff's coffin was raided and a strange glass object buried with the corpse has vanished. Inspector Barnes believes the relic to be highly dangerous, and he wants it found.

What I Have To Say 

Series in general

Lockwood is basically the Sherlock Holmes of ghost hunters. The books are written by his Watson, Lucy Carlyle, who I really, really like the voice of. She explains things well and has good insights on the other characters while being brave, dependable and keeps her head in danger. In short, she's wonderful. 

I can be very sensitive to horror, so I suppose it doesn't mean that much that these books terrified me. Though I think it was a mistake to read the first one late at night with all the lights off. In terms of horror, I think the fact that I'm slightly traumatised by it all is probably a good thing. I don't think I'm going to be sleeping properly for a while. 

The Whispering Skull

I felt this book was better in some ways than The Screaming Staircase. It was less scary, which is either a good or a bad thing depending on whether you like terrifying yourself. Though it was still lovely and creepy in many places, which I much prefer to outright horror. But it was also much more about humanity and obsession and even madness, which I always like more than murder and vengeance,

The whole basic of the story was around a haunted object and how the people around are drawn to it due to various reasons, the curse of the object itself, money ect. It was so much more interesting than the first book, which does make a lot of sense because a lot of first books in a series are kept quite simple to set up the series.

I also really loved the skull, who I'm honestly surprised they haven't named yet. He was so sarcastic a lot of the time and I loved the pure evilness of him, I don't know why, but I love it when evil characters help good characters because they want to get some thrill of satisfaction when they fail. Or any reason that isn't because they're secretly good or whatever. I just love a good evil character.

And that ending! When's the next book coming out?

Monday, 22 September 2014

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 295
Publisher: 9th of September 2014
Released: Scholastic Press

From two bestselling superstars, a dazzling and magical middle-grade collaboration centering on the students of the Magisterium, an academy for those with a propensity toward magic. In this first book, a new student comes to the Magisterium against his will -- is it because he is destined to be a powerful magician, or is the truth more twisted than that? It's a journey that will thrill you, surprise you, and make you wonder about the clear-cut distinction usually made between good and evil.

What I Have to Say 

I know some people have disliked this and I'm not sure why. If it's because it's an average boy wizard story seems a bit close to Harry Potter then I have some advice. Read on. Because that is absolutely not what it is. I don't want to give away spoilers so I can't go into exactly what it is. But it's the sort of book that I've always wanted to read and have never found written by a decent writer. I cannot wait for the next book. 

The writing was interesting in style. I've not seen many books written by two authors where you can't tell that, well, it's written by two authors. Cassie Clare and Holly Black blended their styles together so well that it created something new, unique to either of them in a completely seamless book. 

As with all books like this, characters are very important. If you don't like any one of the main three then you won't like the book. But I really loved Call, Aaron and Tamara. Especially Tamara. She's so strong and has a great back story with her family. I also love Havoc. I know I always go gooey over animals but really, Havoc was both adorable and really interesting. 

I'm really thinking that this could become a great series. I can't wait for the next book! 

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Book Haul #5

I haven't been getting as much recently, so I haven't done this in a while (and keep forgetting when I have had something to post). But here are some books I've received lately.

All Synopses are from Netgalley or BookBridgr respectively.


The Witch of Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the sea witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe and prosperous at sea. But before she could learn how to control her power, her mother - the first Roe woman in centuries to turn her back on magic - steals Avery away from her grandmother. Avery must escape before her grandmother dies, taking with her the secrets of the Roe's power.

The one magical remnant left to Avery is the ability to read dreams, and one night she foresees her own murder. Time is running short, both for her and for the people of her island who need the witches' help to thrive.

Avery has never read a dream that hasn't come true, but a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane tells her he can help her change her fate. Becoming a witch may prevent her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers it will also require a sacrifice she never expected. And as she falls in love with Tane, she learns it is his life and hers that hang in the balance.

.I like books about witches like this. Historical or sort of historical with different opinions about witches. I'm hoping for a bit of persecution but we'll see. Thanks Hachette! 

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

I was sent here because of a boy. His name was Reeve Maxfield, and I loved him and then he died, and almost a year passed and no one knew what to do with me.

A group of emotionally fragile, highly intelligent teenagers gather at a therapeutic boarding school where they are mysteriously picked for 'Special Topics in English'. Here, they are tasked with studying Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar and keeping a journal.

Each time the teens write in their diaries they are transported to a miraculous other world called Belzhar, a world where they are no longer haunted by their trauma and grief - and each begins to tell their own story.

This looks really interesting. I can't wait to read it. Though I feel that having emotionally fragile teenagers reading Sylvia Plath is not going to end well. Thanks Simon and Schuster. 

The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black 

Think you know magic? 

Think again.

The Magisterium awaits . . .

Most people would do anything to get into the Magisterium and pass the Iron Trial.

Not Callum Hunt. 

Call has been told his whole life that he should never trust a magician. And so he tries his best to do his worst – but fails at failing.

Now he must enter the Magisterium. 
It's a place that's both sensational and sinister. And Call realizes it has dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.

The Iron Trial is just the beginning. Call’s biggest test is still to come . . .

I actually managed to buy and read this before getting approved on Netgalley (review on Monday). Thanks Random House. 

Lockwood & Co. The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

Ghosts and ghouls beware! London’s smallest, shabbiest and most talented psychic detection agency is back. 

Life is never exactly peaceful for Lockwood & Co. Lucy and George are trying to solve the mystery of the talking skull trapped in their ghost jar, while Lockwood is desperate for an exciting new case. 

Things seem to be looking up when the team is called to Kensal Green Cemetery to investigate the grave of a sinister Victorian doctor. Strange apparitions have been seen there, and the site must be made safe. As usual, Lockwood is confident; as usual, everything goes wrong – a terrible phantom is unleashed, and a dangerous object is stolen from the coffin. 

Lockwood & Co must recover the relic before its power is unleashed, but it’s a race against time. Their obnoxious rivals from the Fittes agency are also on the hunt. And if that’s not bad enough, the skull in the ghost-jar is stirring again…

I finished the first Lockwood book yesterday and it stopped me sleeping. So here's hoping this book is just as good. (Review of both on Thursday provided I read fast enough). Thanks Random House!

A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond

I'm the one who's left behind. I'm the one to tell the tale. I knew them both... knew how they lived and how they died."

Claire is Ella Grey's best friend. She's there when the whirlwind arrives on the scene: catapulted into a North East landscape of gutted shipyards; of high arched bridges and ancient collapsed mines. She witnesses a love so dramatic it is as if her best friend has been captured and taken from her. But the loss of her friend to the arms of Orpheus is nothing compared to the loss she feels when Ella is taken from the world. This is her story - as she bears witness to a love so complete; so sure, that not even death can prove final.

The first 200 or so pages of this are great, but due to technical difficulties, I can't seem to read the rest. The review may have to wait until the book is out. Thanks Hachette. 

The 100 by Kass Morgan

No one has set foot on Earth in centuries -- until now.

Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth's radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents -- considered expendable by society -- are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life...or it could be a suicide mission.

CLARKE was arrested for treason, though she's haunted by the memory of what she really did. WELLS, the chancellor's son, came to Earth for the girl he loves -- but will she ever forgive him? Reckless BELLAMY fought his way onto the transport pod to protect his sister, the other half of the only pair of siblings in the universe. And GLASS managed to escape back onto the ship, only to find that life there is just as dangerous as she feared it would be on Earth.

Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind's last hope.

I've been watching the TV series of this on E4 and, dialogue aside, it's enjoyable to watch. I figured the book is probably better so I thought I'd give it a go. Thanks Little Brown Books.


The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey 

Alaska, the 1920s. Jack and Mabel have staked everything on a fresh start in a remote homestead, but the wilderness is a stark place, and Mabel is haunted by the baby she lost many years before. When a little girl appears mysteriously on their land, each is filled with wonder, but also foreboding: is she what she seems, and can they find room in their hearts for her?

This looks so awesome! Not just because it's based on a Russian Fairytale. Really looking forward to reading it. Thank you Tinder Press!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

Synopsis (from Goodreads

My thanks go to Netgalley and Macmillan for providing me with this e-copy. 

Pages: 272
Publisher: Swoon Reads (Macmillan Children's Books)
Released: 26th of August 2014

The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out.  But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship. 

Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together....

What I Have to Say 

This book, without a doubt, is the best romance I have ever read. 

With Romance a very important part of the appeal is wanting the characters to succeed and live happily ever after. Which is part of the reason I don't read that many romance books. Quite often I just don't care about whether the characters end up together or not. But I definitely, definitely wanted Gabe and Lea to get together and was getting as frustrated as the other characters in the book when they kept dancing around each other. 

I think that this is partly down to the way it's written, and also just the adorableness of Gabe and Lea as a couple, naturally. The different perspectives and the way they all start shipping Gabe and Lea, trying to push them together, just seemed to make it so easy to fall into the obsessiveness that is Gabe and Lea watching. 

The perspectives are really wonderful. It's a very fresh way of reading romance, as the title suggests. I found myself really liking some of the more obscure characters, the bus driver, Victor and the squirrel. I really think that the squirrel was the best one. Though I am a sucker for animal points of view in general. I did think at one point that maybe Gabe and Lea would take in the squirrel and help him recover from his starvation over the winter when he lost his acorns, but I guess their help was not needed in the end (it would have been cute though). 

I can't honestly think of a single thing not to love about this book, except perhaps that I wish there had been more of it (but then that might have been more of Gabe and Lea being shy and taking even longer to get together. Torture!), Just go and read it, because it's definitely one of the best books I've ever read. 

Monday, 15 September 2014

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 392
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Released: 7th of October 2014

Britt Pfeiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn't prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants—but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage.

In exchange for her life, Britt agrees to guide the men off the mountain. As they set off, Britt knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there... and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target.

But nothing is as it seems in the mountains, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally?

What I Have To Say

I know there has been a lot of negative talk about this book. I seem to be one of the only few who actually liked it. So I'm going to start this review with a paragraph of just my opinions as I'm easily swayed by other people. Then I'm going to look at the reviews on Goodreads and write some more paragraphs on what I think after the flaws have been pointed out. 

I really liked the tension in this book. I felt that there were cliffhangers in the right pages and it kept me reading even when I should have been sleeping, which everyone knows is the sign of a good book. The romance was a little.... Stockholm Syndrome-y? And that was a little weird... But I could see the connection between them and I've honestly read worse books. I quite liked Britt as well. Her friend was completely incapable, but I felt Britt had a good head on her shoulders (unless it came to creepy guys who may or may not have killed people....). 

After reading some reviews, I feel that most people are hating on Britt because she is naive, immature and spoilt. I agree on the spoilt. But other than that... I just... She is a teenager. I have to say that most teenagers are at least a little bit naive and immature. I know I was at that age and it's true that there are exceptions, but word immature... it basically means that you need time to mature. Teenage hood is the time in which you mature... So obviously books about teenagers are going to have some immature characters. I think that the whole thing about Black Ice is that Britt is matured by her journey, by the danger she faces and how she handles it. The thing with Jude being an exception, which I'm just not going to go into, I feel that the Britt we see at the end of the novel is a much more mature and self-reliant Britt, who admits her failings and tries to improve on them. I feel that people are complaining about something which is the entire point of the novel. 

Also Britt's friendship. Yes, it's terrible. Yes, Korbie is a real bitch. Yes, the friendship isn't good. But it's something that can happen in real life. I have actually had friends like that. Do friendships in books really have to be good? 

I'm sure that people will disagree with me, but these are my opinions. I'm not meaning to attack teenagers, I'm just saying that SOME teenagers are like this. 

3.5 Stars

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Violet and the Pearl of the Orient by Harriet Whitehorn

Synopsis (from Goodreads

My thanks go to Simon and Schuster for providing me with this copy.

Pages: 208
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Released: 28th of April 2014

When a new family move in next door, Violet is sure there's something strange about them. Then her eccentric, but lovely neighbour, Dee Dee Derota, has a precious jewel stolen. Could the new family be to blame? Violet is on the case to uncover the truth…

What I Have to Say

I think middle grade girl detective is my new favourite genre. I love Violet almost as much as I loved Daisy from Murder Most Unladylike. They both have the same need to stick their nose into everything,  the same determination and the same inability to quit no matter how much trouble they get into. 

Obviously this book is a lot younger than the stuff I normally read as even when I read middle grade I tend to read the older books that take me more than a couple of hours. But for the reasons above, when I was offered this book, I couldn't say no. 

I really really enjoyed reading it. It took me back to my childhood when a lot of the stuff I read was let's just say not on the serious side of things (for comedies sake of course). I loved the characters in their absurdity and the story itself. And the illustrations by Becka Moor just added so much to it and made it beautiful.

Monday, 8 September 2014

The Grisha Trilogy: Shadow and Bone, Seige and Storm, Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Synopsis of Shadow and Bone (from Goodreads)

Pages: 325
Publisher: Indigo
Released: 31st of July 2014 (first published 2012)

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom's magical elite - the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina's childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can't she ever quite forget him?

What I Have To Say

I read these books far too quickly to give them individual reviews, but I just can't let this wonderful trilogy go past without giving it a review. They are just the sort of books you have to fall in love with because they're so special. 

The world they're set in is based on Russia and is written in such a vivid way, with lots of characters from so many different backgrounds. My favourite was definitely Sturmhond, I'm sure plenty of people share that opinion, because his humour is amazing. 

This Trilogy just had so many great lines. There were a lot of times when I had to pause and take time to appreciate a line or joke. 

This is one of those times when I just have to tell you to trust me and read it, because all three books are great reads. 

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Violet and the Pearl or the Orient Blog Tour: Extract and Giveaway

I'm so happy to be a part of this blog tour. This book is the cutest and most beautiful thing I've ever seen.

Not only am I lucky enough to be on the tour and share an extract, the lovely people at Simon and Schuster are letting me give away a copy!

So read the extract below (complete with the beautiful artwork that is the pages themselves) and if you want to read more, details of entry will be below.

Giveaway (UK only) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 1 September 2014

Crossing the Line by Kerry Wilkinson

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

My thanks go to Pan MacMillan for providing me with this copy. 

Pages: 392
Publisher: Pan MacMillan
Released: 11th of September 2014

Long before Jessica Daniel became a police officer, Manchester was once a ghost city after dark. Fear ruled as people were afraid to be out by themselves, the notorious Stretford Slasher terrorising its inhabitants.

Twenty-five years on and the media are feeling nostalgic over the milestone but Jessica has a new panic to worry about. Apparent strangers are being targeted in daylight, the attacker unworried about being caught. If only she and her team could find him…

It’s the coldest spring in memory and Jessica has old friends to look out for, plus secrets - so many secrets - that should have long been buried.

What I Have To Say

I hadn't realised how late this was in the series before I requested it, but luckily it was the first book of season two (when did books start coming in seasons anyway?). So I got a chance to see for myself whether it really was a good place for a new reader to start.

I think that crime as a genre is easier to join mid-series than other genres may be. There are exceptions, but in my experience, most crime books tend to work as stand alone as long as you don't mind a few references you don't understand. Crossing The Line was much the same. There were a few times previous events in the series were mentioned, but all in all everything was easy to follow.

I loved the very British pessimism of the characters, complete with weather, traffic, pen thievery and the ever present budget cuts. And though I felt that the female characters were a little bit similar, I really did like Jessica as a character.

If you're looking for a good crime series then this could be a good place to start.