Sabriel: Review

sabriel

Author: Garth Nix

Publisher: HarperCollins

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him.

With Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen trilogy, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn’t always clear—and sometimes disappears altogether. (Via Goodreads.)

Review:

What’s this a review? I know, I’m equally shocked. 

I started reading Sabriel over a month ago just as I hit a bit of a reading slump so Sabriel definitely suffered as a result of it. I just could not get into Sabriel. The book, my version anyway, is only 364 pages but it took me until page 300 to actually really get into the story and the world so that was a bit disappointing.

I can’t really fault this book, I didn’t hate it, I didn’t like it, it was all rather meh to me. I felt indifferent to Sabriel and Touchstone, I liked Moggot but, again, not as much as I was expecting to, overall, I was rather underwhelmed. I had heard such great things about Sabriel and Garth Nix (I mean Sarah J. Maas, my Queen of Queens loves it) but I just didn’t connect with it, at all.

However, I will say that once I hit page 300 I got interested. I’m not sure why but here I emerged from my reading slump and finished the book rather quickly and while I still didn’t love it, I liked it, it was fine and it intrigued me enough that I think I will pick up the sequel but I’m definitely not going to be rushing out for it.

3 Stars.

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The Prince of Mist: Review

prince of mistAuthor: Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Publisher: Little, Brown Books

Genre: Historical Fiction

Summary: A mysterious house harbors an unimaginable secret. . . .

It’s wartime, and the Carver family decides to leave the capital where they live and move to a small coastal village where they’ve recently bought a home. But from the minute they cross the threshold, strange things begin to happen. In that mysterious house there still lurks the spirit of Jacob, the previous owners’ son, who died by drowning.

With the help of their new friend Roland, Max and Alicia Carver begin to explore the suspicious circumstances of that death and discover the existence of a mysterious being called The Prince of Mist—a diabolical character who has returned from the shadows to collect on a debt from the past. Soon the three friends find themselves caught up in an adventure of sunken ships and an enchanted stone garden, which will change their lives forever. (Via Goodreads.)

Review:

I am a big Carlos Ruiz Zafon fan! So I was delighted to receive The Prince of Mist for Christmas unfortunately I did not like it as much as I was expecting to.

Firstly, it turned out to be a middle grade novel which I’m not usually big fan of to begin with and to make it slightly worse the writing was very inconsistent throughout. Sometimes it struck me as being written for adults and then at other times I was very aware that it was written for children so that annoyed me and it did make it difficult for me to fully immerse myself in the plot.

As for the plot itself it was very entertaining. It was rich and frightening and very wonderful but the writing let it down.

The characters too were a bit odd. While being very interesting and compelling the character of Max felt too old for his supposed age and while i know some kids are more mature than there age Max felt more early twenties then thirteen.

Overall, it was an interesting read but not quite as wonderful as I wanted it to be.

3 Stars

Code Name Verity: Review

code name verityAuthor: Elizabeth Wein

Publisher: Egmont Press

Genre: Historical Fiction

Summary: Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.
When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy? (Via Goodreads.)

Review:

I had a lot of expectations when I started this book. I thought I would love it from the very first page and I didn’t. In fact, I found it very hard to get into. It’s very technical at times – a lot of code words, types of aeroplanes and I was just like, “what?” and I was quite disappointed but I had judged too soon.

This book is split into two parts; told from two different points of view and you really appreciate the first part of novel as soon as you start reading the second. It transforms and elevates what you have just read; it makes it beautiful and stunning and heart-wrenching and inspirational and just…words that mean greatness.

The writing is at times clunky at times but it has to be which you’ll understand once you start reading. The characters are wonderful, multifaceted and just incredible to read about, you’re very unlikely to forget them and their story. Simply amazing.

This book is definitely worth the hype and I would recommend it to everyone even if historical fiction is not your thing – it’s definitely not mine but I’m already looking forward to picking up Elizabeth Wein’s next novel. Just Fantastic.

4 STARS.

Cruel Beauty: Review

cruel beauty

Author: Rosamund Hodge

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Genre: Fairytale Retelling

Summary: Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love. (Via Goodreads)

Review:

Let me preface this by saying that Cruel Beauty has been on my TBR list for like ever! And I finally got it for Christmas so of course I just tore into it and I was not disappointed.

Cruel Beauty is a wonderful mix of fairytale and mythology which at first seemed a bit odd to me but it actually melded together extremely well and made for a very compelling, well told story and interesting world that I would very much like to visit again.

The characters too are sublime especially the main character of Nyx. She is quite dark; poisonous and resentful and made for such interesting reading and while she wasn’t written to be likeable I simply adored her. It was so enjoyable to read about her and watch how she struggles between what she was chosen to do, her resentment and her own desires and ugh it was just so, so good. I would recommend reading it just for her.

The supporting characters are also quite interesting – Nyx’s family in particular and how cold and calculating they are and I would love to have read more about them.

The story itself is quite interesting and it’s definitely an interesting take on Beauty and the Beast but alas it is quite predictable – but it in no way distracted from my enjoyment of the book or the story. The ending in my opinion was a little weak but overall it was a fantastic book and I would recommend it.

4 Stars.

Graham Norton: The Life and Loves of a He-Devil: Review

graham nortonAuthor: Graham Norton

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughten

Genre: Biography

Summary: Revealing, moving, and hilarious, Graham Norton tells the story of his life through the things he loves in a brand new memoir.

Graham Norton has been entertaining audiences and having fun with some of the world’s biggest stars for nearly 20 years. He is loved for his delight in the peculiar and for his ability to find humor and a common ground in all that life brings. Here is Graham’s funny and honest memoir on the theme of love. As he shows, it’s really the things you love that make you who you are and so Graham tells his story from his Irish childhood to the present day, describing just what and who he loved—and sometimes lost—as a young boy, and his new loves and obsessions—big and small—as he’s grown older. It’s been 10 years since his last book and being a decade older Graham has come to realize that what makes a life interesting is less what happens to you and more what inspires and drives you, what you love. From Dolly Parton and dogs to wine and Ireland, Graham tells of his life and loves with characteristic humor and outrageous candour. (Via Goodreads)

Review:

Let me preface this review by saying that I love Graham Norton. I loved him in Father Ted, I love his talk show, I think he is absolutely hilarious so it was unsurprising that I bought his biography and that my mother bought it for me too what was surprising was how unfunny I found it.

I really expected this biography to be rip-roar funny and it just wasn’t. The book isn’t strictly a biography, it’s more Norton discussing his favourite things from dogs to work to men and he tells story under each topic and while they are at times interesting they are just not funny. I was expecting major big belly laughs and anecdotes from his Father Ted and standup days but it just wasn’t there.

I do think this book is interesting and it was a pretty compelling, if a tad boring in places, but it really wasn’t what I was expecting and it just wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be. In fact, it was distinctly average in all ways and that was extremely disappointing to me.

3 Stars.

 

 

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender: Review

ava lavenderAuthor: Leslye Walton

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: Magical Realism

Summary: Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.

In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.

That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo. (Via Goodreads)

Review:

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is definitely one of the strangest and most beautiful books I have read this year. I’ve never closed a book wondering if the main character had wings or not before Ava Lavender yet I wasn’t left disappointed or confused rather I felt immensely satisfied after closing the last page.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender tells the story of Ava Lavender, her mother Viviane and her grandmother Emmiliene and all three women have some unique talent, whether it be being born with wings, super smell or a unique to talent to know when something is going to happen – all three are also terribly unlucky in love. Their stories are intricately  woven together to tell the story of how Ava ended up where she did and how it all led to the night of the Summer Solstice and it is beautifully, stunningly written.

Walton’s prose is absolutely terrific; lyrical and striking and at times it reminded me of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart only, in my opinion, it was much better and much stronger. Just perfect. Her characters are wonderful I loved how she represented each of the Roux/Lavender women and how they were all so strong yet equally broken. The contrast was just lovely and so wonderful to read.

Ava Lavender is a wonderful book. It is sweet and poignant, haunting and hypnotic and it is one of my favourite books of the year. A must read.

5 Stars.

 

 

My True Love Gave To Me: Review

true loveAuthor: Stephanie Perkins, Holly Black, Laini Taylor, Gayle Forman, Ally Carter, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, Kiersten White.

Publisher: Macmillian’s Children’s Books

Genre: Christmas Anthology

Summary: On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me …This beautiful collection features twelve gorgeously romantic stories set during the festive period, by some of the most talented and exciting YA authors writing today. The stories are filled with the magic of first love and the magic of the holidays. (Via Goodreads)

 

Review:

Take a good look at those authors…need anyone ask why I bought this? My True Love Gave To Me does not only feature some of my favourite authors it is also extremely beautiful! I mean look at it! It’s so beautiful in fact that anytime I try to take a picture of it my Instagram app crashes. Yup, it’s so beautiful that it crashed Instagram – Life Goals.

Given the authors that contributed to this anthology there was a lot of hype around this book and, for the most part, that hype was deserved. This book is very cute, very fluffy and overall quite Christmassy – it did exactly what it said on the tin and if you’re still looking for a last minute Christmas present for a book worm friend I would recommend this. Well worth the money and so, so beautiful!

Now there are twelve short stories, some shorter than others, and the majority of them are wonderful so here are some mini reviews for each!

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell – This one is really short, really sweet and really quite adorable.

The Lady and The Fox by Kelly Link – Simply stunning. This story was absolutely amazing, one of my favourites in the entire anthology. I want to read everything that Kelly Link has ever written and I want her to turn this short story into a full blown novel. Fantastic.

Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Pena – This one started out really well and I was set to name it one of my favourites but the ending left me a little cold. It was nice but slightly average towards the end.

Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han – I really did not like this story. It’s the shortest in the book, only five pages and barely that and it’s just not good. It had great potential but the ending is just s abrupt and random – I mean one more paragraph could have really ended this note and made it either really sweet or really sad but sweet but it just ended and ended badly. I do think it’s possibly the worst in the book.

It’s A Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins – Fluffy, cute, adorable and quintessentially Stephanie Perkins. I loved this story, it was everything you want from Perkins and more. Wonderful, feel good story complete with cute guy. Magic.

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan – Not a favourite because there was a lot of backstory that was hinted at but couldn’t be elaborated on because, you know, short story but still very sweet, very christmassy and very nice.

Krampuslauf by Holly Black – This one started off really well, it was funny and really fun to read but I don’t think enough was done for it to have the ending that it did. It started off contemporary and suddenly for the final page it was fantasy and nobody so much as batted an eye so while it was good the ending didn’t feel quite right.

What The Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman – A Gayle Forman book that didn’t make me cry! It’s a Christmas Miracle! I love this one, it was really short and sweet and just left me with warm feelings. Exactly what you need on Christmas.

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire – There was nothing particularly wrong with this one other than I didn’t really like it. I can’t find a fault to it other than to say personal preference dictates no.

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White – Love, Love, Love. This story was sweet, poignant and perfectly Christmassy. One of my favourites.

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter – Wasn’t the biggest fan of this one. I liked the plot line but the entire thing was too rushed for me to really believe in it. I mean Ally Carter has convinced me that teenagers can rob the Henley Museum but I couldn’t quite suspend my disbelief for this one.

The Girl Who Woke The Dreamer by Laini Taylor – Perfect. It was rich, enthralling and just so, so beautiful. The perfect story to end on.

Overall, this anthology was fantastic. There were a few let downs in there but there always are but overall well worth a read.

4 Stars.