Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Inventor's Secret

The Inventor's Secret by Andrea Cremer

I don't know what I was expecting.

Andrea Cremer wrote a book with David Levithan once and I love David Levithan, so why not read this book, right?

She's apparently an international bestseller for some other stuff she's written too.

.....I don't think this book lives up those precedents.

An amazon summary, "New from Andrea Cremer, the New York Times bestselling author of the Nightshade novels, comes an action-packed alternate-history steampunk adventure.

In this world, sixteen-year-old Charlotte and her fellow refugees have scraped out an existence on the edge of Britain’s industrial empire. Though they live by the skin of their teeth, they have their health (at least when they can find enough food and avoid the Imperial Labor Gatherers) and each other. When a new exile with no memory of his escape  or even his own name seeks shelter in their camp he brings new dangers with him and secrets about the terrible future that awaits all those who have struggled has to live free of the bonds of the empire’s Machineworks.

The Inventor’s Secret is the first book of a YA steampunk series set in an alternate nineteenth-century North America where the Revolutionary War never took place and the British Empire has expanded into a global juggernaut propelled by marvelous and horrible machinery. Perfect for fans of Libba Bray's The Diviners, Cassandra Clare's Clockwork Angel, Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan and Phillip Reeve's Mortal Engines.AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE THAT DOESN'T INCLUDE THE PRAISE BECAUSE IT RUINED ALL MY FORMATTING THINGS

Okay, so first off, this book tries to play itself as this wonderful resistance book with all sorts of neat gadgets and steampunk oddities. kind of did that. But what the book really concentrated on was Charlotte suddenly going through weird spouts of character development, coupled by inconsistent feelings, and appearing to be an unstable pretty girl that likes a particular weapon. 

So, ignoring Charlotte, the freaking narrator, the book asks the question, "What if the American revolution didn't succeed? What would North America look like? What would have happened to that area of the world?"

Which it answered pretty sweetly but in convoluted fashions that don't really give a clear timeline of how old some events are in correlation to others. ....I think I paid more attention to the details than the book wanted me to.


So the story starts out with Charlotte living in the catacombs (an underground network of caves) with her brother and other children of the rebellion. They go on raids for supplies, constantly irk each other, and something bigger seems to be a foot as her brother and Jack take private messages. Charlotte is determined to find out what. Charlotte finds out by following them, and it turns out they're going to infiltrate high society on a floating city and make contact with rebel forces there.

The point of them entering the floating city is soon lost on me as everything is suddenly swept into Charlotte being a lady of high society, finding all the society protocols as useless, and in general having a hard time with life as she suddenly has developed emotions higher than an 8 year old....but she's only at about an 11 year old (don't get your hopes up).

I found a lot of the plot and action didn't mesh well together, there were things about the high society that were overexplained or underexplained and other things that started to happen that didn't make sense.

ALSO. There was this dude named ghost who had a magnet stick to his chest, he had amnesia and it took to the end of the book for them to figure out SPOILER ALERT that he's basically a metallic Frankenstein. ARGH.

I really didn't like this book. I finished it because it started out well enough and I got a little inane with the hope that it'd redeem itself in the end....but it didn't. It just fell into one bad plot trap after the next.

Happy reading!

Friday, January 30, 2015

A Snicker of Magic

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

I've been treating myself a little bit this month. I broke into the stack of books that have been highly recommended to me and busted out a couple books.

Amazing. no disclaimers on this one.

An amazon summary, "Introducing an extraordinary new voice---a magical debut that will make your skin tingle, your eyes glisten . . .and your heart sing.

Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place, a town where people could sing up thunderstorms and dance up sunflowers. But that was long ago, before a curse drove the magic away. Twelve-year-old Felicity knows all about things like that; her nomadic mother is cursed with a wandering heart.

But when she arrives in Midnight Gulch, Felicity thinks her luck's about to change. A "word collector," Felicity sees words everywhere---shining above strangers, tucked into church eves, and tangled up her dog's floppy ears---but Midnight Gulch is the first place she's ever seen the word "home." And then there's Jonah, a mysterious, spiky-haired do-gooder who shimmers with words Felicity's never seen before, words that make Felicity's heart beat a little faster.

Felicity wants to stay in Midnight Gulch more than anything, but first, she'll need to figure out how to bring back the magic, breaking the spell that's been cast over the town . . . and her mother's broken heart." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

Felicity has been roaming the country with her mother, little sister, and dog. Her mom works where she can but can never seem to stay in one place for too long.

Then one day they wind up in Midnight Gulch to see her Aunt and to stay for a little bit.

Midnight Gulch used to be a town bursting with magic...until a duel between two brothers split them apart and the town was never the same again.

When Felicity arrives, she starts to unearth the town's history with the help of her first real friend, Jonah. A wide variety of characters is introduced and each one explores the magic surrounding their own family lineage.

I found this story to be a bit mesmerizing. It had the ice berg affect for me, meaning, I saw a bit of it to begin with, but the further I get into it, the more there is revealed about the story. It keeps developing, growing bigger, and encompassing more and more aspects to reveal the big picture.

Absolutely fantastic.

Fast read.

Much magic.

And a lot of ice cream.....

BUT there was also this beautiful friendship between Felicity and Jonah.

Now, Jonah is this awesome dude who senses what people need or when something good will happen to them. He carries on the legacy of the Beedle. He seeks out Felicity as he knows something amazing is going to happen if she sticks around for the 'duel' (a talent show their teacher is putting on playing on the town's history). Now the neat thing about Jonah is that he's in a wheelchair, but the book absolutely refuses to make a big deal out of it. Jonah is treated just like everyone else. It was such a fantastic little aside that really added to the characterization of the story.

Plus, I loved how Felicity collected words and how she saw words. Felicity is filled with her own magic and there's great character build up that plays into Felicity's magic and the outcome of the book.

Seriously, fantastic.

Happy reading!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

This book is written in verse; meaning it's a compilation of different poems. Together, they form a wonderful story about Jacqueline Woodson's life growing up during the movement for equal rights in the United States.

It was one of the most moving, thought-provoking, and compelling books I've ever read about what happened in the 1960s/1970s. I couldn't put it down even as it rendered me speechless.

An amazon summary so we can make this journey together, "Jacqueline Woodson, one of today's finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse. 
 Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become. Praise for Jacqueline Woodson:Ms. Woodson writes with a sure understanding of the thoughts of young people, offering a poetic, eloquent narrative that is not simply a story . . . but a mature exploration of grown-up issues and self-discovery.”—The New York Times Book Review" AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE, FOR REAL

Disclaimer: I will not cover the history of the civil war, civil rights movement, or current issues that impact today. I'm going to talk about what the story portrays. There is no way that I would ever be able to accurately summarize, portray, or encapsulate the entire movement. I strongly suggest a few google searches about the civil war and civil rights movement in the United States of America if you have no idea what's going on.


I'm struggling for words about this book.

On the one hand, it's essentially an autobiography written in verse about the 1960s/1970s. Usually I see that pretense and go, "EHHHHHH, not for me most likely because historical noises." But then, I had my librarian friends recommend this book to me, and it won the National Book Award, and I kind of shrugged and started reading it. (Plus I've been getting better about reading semi-realistic fiction and straight up non-fiction books. Like whoa.)

Oh. My. Batman.

I've never felt like I could empathize with a narrator so well and see the cultural differences as well as understand the reasoning behind different decisions. Children seem to act as the best watchers; they observe many actions without understanding the cultural/political implications behind those actions. But Jacqueline did; she showed the terrors and violence of the time with breaking innocence.

Plus there were so many touching moments throughout the story that kind of ignored the political trials of the time and concentrated more on the home life, really kind of proving that Jacqueline is a person, same as anybody else. I read how she was raised, what values were instilled in her, and what choices she made because of her environment and upbringing.

It was truly fantastic. Strongly recommended. This book will probably haunt me in the good way for a while.

As with all books I fall madly in love with, I do struggle for words. It was really freaking fantastic.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Spiritglass Charade

The Spiritglass Charade by Colleen Gleason

This is the second book in a series, I reviewed the first book, The Clockwork Scarab, HERE. If you don't want the first book to be spoiled, then don't read this review.

....I again, have no disclaimers going into this book. ....I DON'T KNOW. I'M READING PUBLISHED BOOKS, BACK UP OFF IT.

An amazon summary, "After the Affair of the Clockwork Scarab, Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes are eager to help Princess Alix with a new case. Seventeen-year-old Willa Aston is obsessed with spiritual mediums, convinced she is speaking with her mother from beyond the grave. What seems like a case of spiritualist fraud quickly devolves into something far more menacing: someone is trying to make Willa "appear lunatic," using an innocent-looking spiritglass to control her. The list of clues piles up: an unexpected murder, a gang of pickpockets, and the return of vampires to London. But are these events connected? As Uncle Sherlock would say, "there are no coincidences." It will take all of Mina's wit and Evaline's muscle to keep London's sinister underground at bay." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

So, spoiler alert, they kind of solved the mystery in The Clockwork Scarab, but really just uncovered a grander mystery in the scheme of plot. Yep.

Irene Adler summons Mina & Evaline to the library once more and they're off to visit the Princess herself. Dylan tags along and saves the Queen's life (more on that in the book). The Princess asks the girls to get to the bottom of Willa Aston's obsession with spiritual mediums. Willa is spending a ludicrous amount of money on the spiritual mediums; the Princess suspects foul play.

The girls embark on discovering the truth and get twisted up into some pretty gnarly scenes.

Oh... and Evaline encounters a vampire. Evaline also has a bout of questionable behavior trying to locate Pix.

The boys are back; Dylan is working on advancing medical sciences, Pix is mixed in with vampires (and other questionable characters), and Inspector Grayling has bouts of frustratingly dashing moments (to Mina).

Back to Willa; her brother has gone missing (presumed dead), her parents are gone, and she's surrounded by people who are probably just after her fortune. There are a few options for her situation: Willa is cray cray, the spirit seances are working and she is speaking with her mother, the seances are lying cheats, or ghosts exist and are communicating with her. It's a bit of a gamble which could be the truth in this setting/book.

There are a lot of little moments that build the entire story. The narrator voices between Mina and Evaline have grown more distinct (except when one of them swoons over a man) and their mild obsession with fashion has grown a bit more pronounced.

If you liked the first one, you're going to like the second one. The overall mystery of the books start to thicken throughout the story as more and more is revealed about London.

Personally, I think the books are starting to get a little too busy. There's a lot between the settings, the characters, the fashion, the supernatural, the time travel, and the romance for it to be a fully coherent story. There is so much shrouded in mystery that I wonder if the author can be bothered to explain all of it.

However, the second book ended with a cliff hanger that I was expecting.....but I'm a bit excited to see how it plays out in the third book. I shall embark on that endeavor when the book becomes available. BWAHAHAHAHA. Maybe. I don't know, only time will tell.

Happy reading!

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Clockwork Scarab

The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason

....I don't have a disclaimer for this one. .....STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT.

This was kind of a fun little jaunt that got a little broken with story mechanics, but it might be okay depending on what happens in later books. IDK MY BFF JILL, THINGS MAY GET REAL.

An amazon summary, "Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you're the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood, so to speak. And when two young society girls disappear—one dead, one missing—there's no one more qualified to investigate. Now fierce Evaline and logical Mina must resolve their rivalry, navigate the advances of not just one but three mysterious gentlemen, and solve a murder with only one clue: a strange Egyptian scarab. The pressure is on and the stakes are high—if Stoker and Holmes don't figure out why London's finest sixteen-year-old women are in danger, they'll become the next victims." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

So, basic premise of the story: Sherlock & Mycroft Holmes are real, vampires are real, Dracula is currently being written by Bram Stoker, and the mysteries are running rampant! It's also basic steampunk....


Alright, I'll just do a real break down.

The story begins with Mina Holmes going to the museum on a summons. She is met by Irene Adler and Evaline Stoker while there's also a break-in at the museum in process. Mina and Evaline are partnered up to serve the Princess under Irene's direction. In the next few chapters, they run into three blokes: Pix, Dylan, and Inspector Grayling.

Pix is an underground thug (sort of) who Evaline takes a sort of smarmy shine to. Pix is a crafty little bugger.

Dylan is...well, the reader should figure this out immediately from the museum scene, but Dylan is from the FUTUREEEEE (2016....or 2015? Pretty much present day) and it just trying to get home but also learn more about their time period.

Inspector Grayling is with the police force and he has a battle of the wits against Mina almost all the time. I swear, the two of them couldn't get within five feet of each other before Mina devolves into a flustered, trying to be logical, young woman. Struggles.


Mina and Evaline were summoned to investigate the disappearances (and death) of young society girls. As women, they tend to be underestimated. As a Holmes and a Stoker, they tend to be crafty as all get out. Mina begins to investigate the clues of the scene and uses Evaline's resources to slowly infiltrate high society to uncover clues. Evaline kind of accidentally wanders into information/happenings and they have a horrendous time trying to work together as they don't really respect each other.

The plot goes on to figure out the mysterious disappearances.....but there is other stuff I want to talk about.

Mina's mother left her about a year ago and Mina is understandably upset about it, and her father, Mycroft, is hardly ever home. Mina has melancholy for this (seriously, understandably) and it plays into her character. The character construction is deftly worked in as Mina tends to have sharper emotional reactions to other people yet she's also very logical. It was freaking brilliant.

Evaline's parents are gone; she lives with Bram as he knows what's going on with her inheriting vampire hunter abilities and she has a doting family in her life. She's constantly trying to prove herself and live up to her namesake, which also plays nicely into the plot.

So, I was impressed with the story development, but I was a bit lost amongst the setting.

It's supposed to be London, but it's also very steam punk-esque (Mina carries a steam gun, literally; it emits blasts of steam). They were always describing three different floors to London and having to ride a lift to get to the higher levels, but I had such a bitterly hard time imagining this. I eventually settled on weird mall that may or may not have light on the bottom two levels. I disliked the setting because I couldn't really get my mind around the outdoors, but the indoors were well described.

THEN THERE IS DYLAN. WHY IS DYLAN THERE. ALL OF THE WHY. Dylan is a character that is most likely from our present time period (he has a cell phone), who knows about Sherlock Holmes and Bram Stoker, but then wouldn't it be an alternate timeline OR he's stuck in a story or something? I definitely don't know and I really can't see the Dylan aspect going anywhere that makes sense.

All in all, it was fun to read. I just had to brow beat myself a bit to ignore the gaping DYLAN DOESN'T MAKE SENSE and WTF IS THIS SETTING. I'm planning on reading the second one....we'll see how well that goes if I continue on to the rest of the series.

Happy reading!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Shadow Scale

Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

Disclaimer: I read the advanced reader's copy of this book; it won't be released until March 10, 2015 for the general public. Undoubtedly, there will be minor differences between the version I read and the published version. That being said, I totally have it on pre-order. Like what.

This is the second book in a series(?), duo-logy (?), something? It's the second book. I read the first book, Seraphina, and reviewed it HERE. This post will undoubtedly reveal spoilers about the first book, Seraphina. If you wish for Seraphina to remain unspoiled, read no further. For serious., if you read my post on Seraphina, you know that I'm mildly obsessed with this book.

...I might have 'secretly' reread Seraphina every few months (especially after a few particularly awful books, YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE).

As with the last book, this story is incredibly complicated and many elements are very interwoven with each other. I'll do my best to catch it all (without spoilers), but here's the amazon summary with all the bits of how awesome Serphina is removed to save some space, "The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways. 
 As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?" AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

So the thing that annoys me about the amazon summary, is that there is a GIANT war going on. HUGE.

The dragons are locked in a civil war, some dragons want peace with humans while others want to destroy all the humans. The humans are in the same boat except without a civil war. The Queen of Goredd, Glisselda, is trying to coordinate efforts to end the war before massive casualties happen.

Enter Seraphina. Seraphina is a half dragon who has started to band together the other half dragons who live in her 'mind's garden'. She found out that two half dragons together can create an invisible barrier that can stop a dragon in the sky or protect a city. Queen Glisselda is like YES, YES WE NEED ALL OF THAT and sends Seraphina with Abdo (another half dragon who cannot speak because of the dragon scales coating his mouth in general, he does a telepathic communication to people instead) off to find the other half dragons to make barriers and save Goredd or assist the war or whatever.

OFF THEY GO. Seraphina and Abdo start traveling across the land and happen across half human half dragons like themselves and start recruiting.

However, Jannoula is a half human half dragon and has plans of her own. Jannoula has the ability to take control and manipulate other half human/dragons. She's started to manipulate the half dragon/humans for her own means. Seraphina races to find a way to stop her while also getting more half human/half dragons together in Goredd.

On her quest to find others like her, Seraphina finds a group of beings who have all been dragon touched in different ways. They all come with their quirks, abilities, and personalities; they're very distinctive and it's fascinating to keep meeting more of them.

While also on Seraphina's quest, we get to see more and more of the land. We get to meet different cultures, see more of the quigtul's influence in the world, and watch the curious relationship between Glisselda, Lucian, and Seraphina. Due to events of Seraphina, Lucian and Glisselda have a closer bond as their marriage draws closer since the Queen fell into ill health in the last book.

Now, dragons are present all throughout the book and there is also the mystery of what happened to Seraphina's uncle Orma. The dragons continue to have some cultural/societal hiccups that are hilarious while also showing logic can coexist with compassion.

As they came across so many different cultures, it was funny to see the language barriers that cropped up, the customs of different cultures, and the tourist 'stories' (you'll understand when you read the book). It was also simply fascinating to see how different cultures interacted with the dragons and how they reacted to the presence of half dragon half humans. So intense.

There was also a lot to deal with religion, spirituality, and the 'soul-fire'. Soul-fire is how they referred to a person's soul presence (kind of), like the half human half dragons extra energy that they could channel to do things. Pure blooded dragons and humans were not depicted to have it. It was interesting to watch it unfold, but at the same time there were times that I kind of felt like a small child stumbling to grasp the larger concept. Seraphina and several other characters were faithful to their saints/patrons, but I think my haste to get to the politics/interpersonal struggles left me rushing through the parts where it explained it. But I have time to reread it. MWAHAHAHAHA. I imagine the content is there, I'm just a derp.

BOOK LOVERS. IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL. There were a few times where I had to stop reading to dance/walk a lap around my house to get some eager enthusiastic energy out. Like what.

HOWEVER. SPOILER ALERT. The end of the book ended with an epilogue. I don't know if it's the end signaling that this is a duo-logy, or if it's just something stuck at the end of the book and the series will go on. As much as a I love the story, everything wraps up pretty well in the end. On the one hand, I'd be super upset if the Rachel Hartman wrote more because the story is wrapped up, but I still crave more about Seraphina's world, adventures, etc. I am a book brat.

Happy reading!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

When My Heart Was Wicked

When My Heart Was Wicked by Tricia Stirling

Disclaimer: I read the advanced readers' copy of this book. It will be released on February 24, 2015. Undoubtedly, there will be minor differences between the version I read and the published version.

This one was a little bit of a curve ball for me. ...yeah.

An amazon summary so we can get to places, ""I used to be one of those girls. The kind who loved to deliver bad news. When I colored my hair, I imagined it seeping into my scalp, black dye pooling into my veins. But that was the old Lacy. Now, when I cast spells, they are always for good."

16-year-old Lacy believes that magic and science can work side by side. She's a botanist who knows how to harness the healing power of plants. So when her father dies, Lacy tries to stay with her step-mother in Chico, where her magic is good and healing. She fears the darkness that her real mother, Cheyenne, brings out, stripping away everything that is light and kind.

Yet Cheyenne never stays away for long. Beautiful, bewitching, unstable Cheyenne who will stop at nothing, not even black magic, to keep control of her daughter's heart. She forces Lacy to accompany her to Sacramento, and before long, the "old" Lacy starts to resurface.

But when Lacy survives a traumatic encounter, she finds herself faced with a choice. Will she use her powers to exact revenge and spiral into the darkness forever? Or will she find the strength to embrace the light?" AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

At the beginning of the story, Lacy starts out as a 'good girl', or someone who is more inclined to make good decisions. She lives with her step-mother (Anna) after her father passed away from cancer. Her mother, Cheyenne, has come to take Lacy away from Anna to live with her.

Lacy is kind of scared of her mother and knows she is a 'bad person'. Cheyenne doesn't have the greatest track record and Lacy used to be more of a wild child when she lived with her mother previously.

So on the surface, the book is about Lacy's relationship with her mother, and her relationship with Anna (her stepmother).

I read it as more of a commentary on the mother figures present in peoples' lives.

Lacy is faced with two strong role models.

Anna, who tries to do kind things, is a vegan (and jokingly a hippie), and had a lot of happy times with Lacy and her late father. Anna had a lot of patience with Lacy as she rebelled against Anna after first coming to live with them after Cheyenne abandoned Lacy a few years ago.

Cheyenne, who performs 'magic' and tends to leave Lacy alone. She's had a very rocky history and seems to twist the truth with frequency. When Lacy lived her mom, she was more of a bad person, a bully if you will.

I think the story really begs the question of what determines a persons' personality; the environment and consequently the people they're surrounded by OR the person whom they idealize and want to be.

The book was less than 200 pages and was an interesting coming of age story. It seemed to want to be kind of whimsical to let the reader interpret small actions (like butterflies being killed) as symbolic, but there was too much of a reaction from Lacy or other characters to let the reader form their own interpretation.

I appreciate what the book wanted to be, but I don't think it achieved it's mark.

Regardless, it was a light, short read. Perhaps the published edition will be better.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Salt & Storm

Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

Disclaimer: I read the advanced readers' copy of this book even though it was published on September 23, 2014. I read what was available. Undoubtedly there will be minor differences between the version I read and the published version.

So, this book had me making a lot of 'what' noises throughout. Not because of the magic, island culture, or boat things I have no real experience with, but more of Avery making.....choices. Yup.

So, have an amazon summary, "A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder--and the one boy who can help change her future.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she's to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane--a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

I'm going to lay it out for you a bit better than the amazon summary.

The Roe women of Prince Island have kept the sailors safe ever since the island was settled. For generators Roe witches have made protective spells, granted use of the winds, and helped the island in all manner of ways. Each Roe witch has a specialty. Avery's mother can make spells to help the heart (in a love sense) and Avery can foresee your future from a dream you tell her.


Avery grew up with her mother for a little bit before she started living with her grandmother. Avery began to learn how to be a witch like her grandmother and presumably her mother by watching her grandmother at work. She was also witness to the strange comings and goings of folks who 'needed' magic. Avery adores her grandmother and wants to be a witch just like her, regardless of what her mother intends. Avery also knows that the key to unlocking her magic is to make a 'great' sacrifice.

Avery's mother wants nothing to do with being a witch. She intends to break the cycle of witches, unless Avery can stop her. When Avery turns 12, Avery's mother removes her from the grandmother's home and drags her away to live with her new husband, the town's preacher who is against witchcraft.

For the past four years Avery has been living in 'hell'. She tries all manner of ways to tap into her magic but her mother has made a spell that prevents her from returning to her grandmother's cottage.

Avery is pushed to unlock her magic after she has a dream where she foretells her death.

Enter Tane, a strange boy who is a sailor. Tane dabbles in 'strange' magic. In a desperate attempt, Avery begins to work with Tane and his strange magic (regardless of her grandmother's warnings to NEVER mix magics; especially strange magic) in return for interpreting his dreams. Tane is desperate to find the men who murdered the people of his own island while he was away exploring the world.

Tane and Averys' individual goals play against each other pretty well. The struggle of magic, understanding families, and having goals clash a bit fantastically.

However, I draw quibbles with Avery's character. I really didn't enjoy her narration. She had great descriptions of the land, the people, the cultural attitude, but there was something lacking in the way she conveyed things. Avery seemed to fall short of giving the complete picture which was so frustrating. Even when the 'complete' picture was presented, I felt it was achieved through slight of word (ha) rather than driving the plot to its' conclusion. There didn't really seem to be an true emotional reaction or theme. I mean, Avery made it QUITE clear what she was feeling from time to time, but it didn't ring as authentic to me. Just forced words on a page.

There were also a few moments sprinkled throughout where the characterization of different people seemed to be violated to tweak the situation to where the author wanted to go. It wasn't anything outrageous, but it was noticeable and off-putting. There were also a few things that just didn't add up to me in a sense of the timeline and the expectations from different characters that they placed on each other. But maybe that was trying to indicate the sense of their family? Whatever it was, it didn't come across as well as it could have.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Glass Casket

The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman

Disclaimer: This book was published on February 10, 2014, but I got my hands on the advanced readers' copy, so that's what I read. Undoubtedly, there will be some differences between the version I read and the published version.

This was a very Grimm-esque tale. There was definitely a fable element to it, but it was most bizarre and disturbing. It almost came across a bit like Godzilla at different points, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

An amazon summary with all the reviews removed because they take up so much space, "Death hasn't visited Rowan Rose since it took her mother when Rowan was only a little girl. But that changes one bleak morning, when five horses and their riders thunder into her village and through the forest, disappearing into the hills. Days later, the riders' bodies are found, and though no one can say for certain what happened in their final hours, their remains prove that whatever it was must have been brutal.

Rowan's village was once a tranquil place, but now things have changed. Something has followed the path those riders made and has come down from the hills, through the forest, and into the village. Beast or man, it has brought death to Rowan's door once again. Only this time, its appetite is insatiable." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

In Nag's End, there sits a small village presumably surrounded by woods and at the base of a mountain. Rowan Rose lives there with her scholarly father. She's been raised to understand different languages and to translate different texts. Her mother died in child birth yet Rowan is well loved by her Father.

Misfortune befalls Nag's End as riders from the kingdom come through and charge into the hills. Days go by and the riders' bodies are discovered to be bloodless, peaceful deaths; as if they just calmly lay in the snow to die. Rowan's best friend Tom and his brother Jude are with the search party that search for the missing men. As they start preparing the bodies for transport, Tom notices a strange coin and pockets it.

Mysterious strangers visit their house one evening, but Rowan's father turned them away and warned Rowan to stay away from them. The strangers consist of her cousin, Fiona, and her guardians; a glassblower and housewife.

Tom falls in love with Fiona at first sight. His brother, Jude, tssks at him but is a mysterious sort that usually disappears into the woods to hunt.

Tom and Fiona meet a couple times and Tom gives the strange coin he found to Fiona as a necklace. They're disgustingly in love.

The duke comes to Nag's End to investigate the soldiers' deaths. The town is largely disturbed by the deaths as Nag's End is believed to be protected from the supernatural folks that haunt the woods. The town leader claims the riders died from wolves, and many cling to the lie to try to make sense of the situation.

So, as the story unfolds, everyone goes a bit crazy. Fiona and Tom fall in love with each other, the glassblower attempts to rape Fiona, Fiona runs off into the woods alone (super dangerous) and has her heart torn out. The glassblower in a fit of madness, beats his wife, and creates a glass coffin for Fiona and props her up inside in his lawn for all the town to see.

Per the duke's orders, Fiona is buried in a cemetery the ancients are buried in.

People start mysteriously dying around the town in very strange ways.

Suddenly magic runs rampant. Rowan tries to make sense of it but ails from grief over the murdered townspeople.

This book seems like one haphazard situation to the next as it seems to follow the philosophy of, "The more action present, the less I have to explain anything". Seriously not impressed.

I kept reading the book because it became a nasty car crash that I had to know how it ended. Even then, the ending didn't quite make sense.

But seriously, crazy magic everywhere, some witches happen, more crazy things happen, Fiona rises from the dead, more seriously crazy magic, and I imagine plot kind of snuck it's way in their a couple times but failed to help much.


There were a lot of 'conclusions' that were drawn that didn't really make any sense. Like Fiona and Rowan are actually sisters; their mother died while giving birth to Fiona and a witch foretold that great misfortune would fall on the family if the sisters were kept together. ....I'm still not sure how that relates to the 'plot' at all.

It also turns out the Duke is crazy as the little girl he took on as his ward is a bad witch that wanted to control some crazy monster that the dead soliders unleashed.

Remember that charm Tom gave Fiona? Turns out it was the token to control the beast.

Fiona and the beasts energy linked or something, and they both killed a lot of people so they could live. Tom found Fiona and was still madly in love with her so was with her despite her monster self.

Oh, when Fiona was first discovered to be dead, Tom proposed to Rowan, which made Jude upset because he's in love with her? But then Tom ditches Rowan once he discovers that Fiona is 'alive' and Jude starts kind of antagonistically revealing his feelings for Rowan while Rowan is running around like a one person Scooby Doo gang trying to solve the mystery.

....super what? Like what? I feel a little broken for trying to explain that mess.

It really tries to have the feeling of an ancient fairy tale....but it kind of fails at the smallest amount of logic so the whole story was a wash for me.

Happy reading!

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Truth About Alice

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

As a heads up, this book is all about rumors. It's told from different perspectives and illustrates the personal motivations for why people may start them. It also delves into the back story of the people talking about the rumor, about Alice, and illustrates what slowly happens to her.

It's pretty freaking gripping.

An amazon summary, "Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party. When Healy High star quarterback, Brandon Fitzsimmons, dies in a car crash, it was because he was sexting with Alice. Ask anybody.

Rumor has it Alice Franklin is a slut. It's written all over the "slut stall" in the girls' bathroom: "Alice had sex in exchange for math test answers" and "Alice got an abortion last semester." 

After Brandon dies, the rumors start to spiral out of control. In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students tell all they "know" about Alice--and in doing so reveal their own secrets and motivations, painting a raw look at the realities of teen life. But in this novel from Jennifer Mathieu, exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there's only one person to ask: Alice herself." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

The narration is split amongst four characters which lends for the story to be seen from all different sides. The individual voices lend a tone of truthful authenticity to the story, and collectively build the story of Alice.

Enter the four characters: Elaine, Kelsie, Josh, and Kurt.

Elaine, the girl who hosted the party. Is on/off romantically involved with one of the guys (Brandon - super popular dude) Alice allegedly slept with. The 'popular' girl. Elaine has a one hell of a grudge on Alice as she caught Brandon and Alice kissing at a middle school dance while Elaine was 'on' with Brandon.

Kelsie, before the rumors blew out of control, Kelsie was Alice's best friend. They had a lot of sleepovers together and shared a lot. Kelsie held a grudge against Alice for not sharing one of her secrets and has always tried to attain popularity.

Josh, was Brandon's best friend and in the car when the accident happened. The rumors about Alice sleeping with him and another dude happened a few weeks before the accident. The accident killed Brandon and left Josh injured. Josh alluded to Brandon's mother (under pressure) that Brandon had been texting with Alice when they were in the crash, adding an element of death to Alice's rumor.

Kurt, the genius of the school. Kurt has always admired and adored Alice from afar, but always was afraid to try to befriend her because she was so cool. After everyone in the school starts to shun Alice, Kurt offers to tutor her and slowly they become friends.

I've seen a lot of books try to create a story from different perspectives (while usually killing off a narrator) and I've yet to come across a book that does it as well as this one.

I also enjoy how the different narrators cast light on the different elements of the 'life' of a rumor. Who started it, what events lead to it, and why it persists as much as it does. It was a great, introspective outtake on high school life and how terrifying it can be.

This is a bit of a 'typical' high school drama, but it definitely feels like one of the more authentic ones that I've read. That being said...

[SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT] In the end, I enjoyed finally 'hearing' from Alice herself. It gave me a more complete sense of the story. I enjoyed everything leading up to it and how Kurt added a ring of truth to it, but it was refreshing to know the complete story as Alice tells it. Each character revealed more and more of the story and what they did based on personal reasons, but it was nice to know the 'truth' after so much was covered up by the lies surrounding the rumor.

Happy reading!