Mini Series Review: All Souls Trilogy – Deborah Harkness

 

Synopses:

A Discovery Of Witches: Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell. 

Shadow Of Night: Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realize that the past may not provide a haven. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night. Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot.

The Book Of Life: After travelling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.


So I need to get back into the swing of things, and I thought that starting with a mini review would be best for that particular purpose – especially given that my thoughts on this series can be summarised quite easily. As this is my first mini review, I thought I’d try the: THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE VERDICT format – and see how that is received and if it actually works for both you and me. 

THE GOOD:

  • The story wasn’t quite your typical romance, it actually felt informative in terms of its content – I found the prominent historical aspects really enjoyable to read.
  • Book 1 and 3 moved at a comfortable pace, I felt like the storyline flowed nicely.
  • The characters were, for the most part, padded out – although I have to say that neither Diana nor Matthew were my favourites of the lot – I just found the rest so much more compelling.
  • scienceLike okay, if I looked more deeply into things, I’d probably find some problems with some of the concepts, but I think all in all these books were rather well researched.

    THE BAD:

  • THE SECOND BOOK….. Literally all my problems with this series lie within the second book. It was slow, there were too many bloody characters, it spent too much time in places which didn’t deserve it and just overall irked me.
  • (THE NOT SO BAD BUT STILL ANNOYING) Diana got on my nerves at some points, but then really – most of that occurred yet again during the second novel. Middle book syndrome anyone??

    THE VERDICT:

    Overall, I’d definitely say that this series is worth a read, books 1 and 3 make a compelling argument to oppose the crimes committed by the middle novel, so as long as you can actually get through Shadow Of Night – I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars 

Advertisements

Book Review: Carry On – Rainbow Rowell

Synopsis:carry-on-cover

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On – The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.


I receieved a free e-edition of this novel courtesy of Pan Macmillan via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I did NOT expect to love this as much as I did.

It was a perfect mixture of magic (and boy, was there a lot of magic, there were spells for anything and everything, some of which seemingly a lot more useful than others – there were definitely a few I wouldn’t mind having at my own disposal), humour, snark and Harry Potter vibes (which were admittedly fanfic level at the start of the novel, but it worked in favour of this particular novel)- oh, and THE OTP. I shipped the ship even before it sailed. So, so, so much. It is definitely now one of my favourites to ever set sail.

However, the beginning was a bit slow, and it was largely an info dump which made me enjoy the story a bit less than I would have. Oh… and Agatha… yeah – she posed a few problems as well, I outright despised her and groaned internally whenever she appeared throughout the story…

The book was narrated by so many characters, but somehow I managed to deal with that for the entirety of its length – and it was a lengthy length but after the beginning third or quarter or so whilst we were exposed to Simon’s relationships with everyone in the book, and the entire backstory, the pace picked up to a bearable speed and before long I was so absorbed in the story I didn’t really register the length of what I was reading at all!

The characters in this book… were goshdarn brilliant! Apart from the aforementioned Agatha. I honestly loved everyone else – and their interactions. I definitely thought friendship was a key theme of this book and played a huge part throughout. I really liked Penelope’s characters, she was like the Hermione of the group – but personally, better? I don’t know how that is possible, but I do know that I preferred her that way.

I loved the fact that the romance didn’t overpower the entire plot, it was also a very tasteful mix of teenage angst and tangible love. The balance was struck between the love and hate of Baz and Simon. Baz was also such an interesting character by himself, definitely complimenting Simon’s slightly more mopey and dependent side which really did balance out the story a lot more.

Rowell has a writing style that is incredibly hard to dislike, it is so easy to read and engages with you. More often than not I laughed throughout -there were so many deviations from the norm of fantasy novels, and from Harry Potter on which the book was based. It was truly an original take on fanfics.

I was sceptical of this book at first, but I am so glad that I have – and I can definitely say that I will be returning to it in the future.

My Rating: Solidest of 4/5 Stars

“You have to pretend you get an endgame. You have to carry on like you will; otherwise, you can’t carry on at all.”

Lucian Divine Tour + Review – Renée Carlino

luciandivine-fb-banner-now

luciandivine_03-1-1-1“My guardian angel is a drunk.”

Evelyn Casey’s life is at a standstill. She’s in her mid-twenties, struggling with the dating scene inSan Francisco. Nothing seems to be working out, and she’s starting to think that she’ll live out herdays in her crummy apartment with her overbearing roommate, Brooklyn. It’s absurd, but sometimesEvey longs for a guardian angel to show up and save the day. And then he does. Seriously. His name is Lucian and he’s a guardian angel, been on the job fortwo thousand years. His sudden presence in her life is both good—he’s brilliant, witty, andwarm—and bad—he’s brilliant, witty, warm, and hot as ****. But as perfect as Lucian seems, he’s gotproblems of his own. He’s taken up drinking and he’s brazenly inserted himself into Evey’s life, goingagainst the greatest cosmic law ever created.

For Evey, the rules are simple: You are not allowed to hook up with your guardian angel. Butsometimes fulfilling your destiny requires a leap of faith, a confrontation with God.

Yes, God as in God.


I  received an eARC edition of this novel courtesy of InkSlingerPR (and Danielle Sanchez) in exchange for an honest review. 

This book had me at “My guardian angel is a drunk.” I just found the ideology of the entire scenario incredibly amusing, but this intrigue developed into a keen interest into what was going to happen at some point during the book.  The book was somewhat as intoxicating as the drinks that Lucian was so fond of.

Now, I know some readers will have an issue with the way that angels and the whole God/Jesus business is dealt with in this book, but being an atheist, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed this fresh take – and I’m pretty sure anyone with an open heart and mind will be able to do the same, regardless of their religion. After all, it is a work of fiction and should therefore be regarded as such.

This was actually my first encounter with Renée’s work, and boy am I glad I signed up for this tour. I will definitely be looking to explore more of her work in the future.

It was a great love story, heartbreaking at points- yes. But also full of shameless hope which I really enjoyed, I liked the optimism and resilience exhibited by all of the characters within the novel.

But in saying that, it came with a slightly decelerated insta-love…. which I guess was explained by the whole guardian angel shabang. I mean – I guess it’s understandable how quickly everything proceeded due to how long Lucian knew Evey, the whole connection felt by a soul and their guardian angel (when they had the chance to meet which was a big no no). But hey, I’m still me, and it bothered me – although admittedly not as much as it would usually, so huge kudos to Renée for achieving the impossible.

I really enjoyed the alternating POVs, I thought that it added a lot of insight into the story – padding it out a little and making it all seem a little more real. It was a good execution of split POV, probably the best I have read in a while when it comes New Adult romance.

However, the pacing felt a bit off. Some bits were mentioned in passing and were gone so quickly my head was spinning which did leave me slightly annoyed at points. And while the ending was touching and I was glad at what happened… I could sort of predict it from around the 50% mark for some reason. I don’t think I should have been able to, but for some reason I did and that’s what made me lower my rating for this book

Albeit, overall – the book was definitely a memorable one, and in a good way at that!

My Rating: 3.75/5 Stars


iTunes | KOBO | AMAZONPRINT


luciandivine-fb-live-promo-1

Renee-121Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of contemporary women’s novels and new adult fiction. Her books have been featured in nationalpublications, including USA TODAY, Huffington Post, Latina magazine, and Publisher’s Weekly. Shelives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she’s not atthe beach with her boys or working on her next project, she likes to spend her time reading, going toconcerts, and eating dark chocolate. Learn more at  www.reneecarlino.com

Book Review: A Hold On Me – Pat Esden

My synopsis:a-hold-on-me-cover

She never wanted to return.
He wants nothing more than for her to leave.
But the fire between them is as strong as the past that haunts them.

Annie Freemont grew up on the road, immersed in the romance of rare things, cultivating an eye for artifacts and a spirit for bargaining. It’s a freewheeling life she loves and plans to continue–until her dad is diagnosed with dementia. His illness forces them to return to Moonhill, their ancestral home on the coast of Maine–and to the family they left behind fifteen years ago, after Annie’s mother died in a suspicious accident.

Once at Moonhill, Annie is shocked when her aunt separates her from her father. The next time Annie sees him, he’s a bizarre, violent shadow of his former self. Confused, she turns to an unlikely ally for support–Chase, the dangerously seductive young groundskeeper. With his dark good looks and powerful presence, Chase has an air of mystery that Annie is irresistibly drawn to. But she also senses that behind his penetrating eyes are secrets she can’t even begin to imagine. Secrets that hold the key to the past, to Annie’s own longings–and to all of their futures. Now, to unlock them, she’ll have to face her greatest fears and embrace her legacy…


I received an e-copy of this book courtesy of Kensington Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book was definitely a surprise, I mean I suspected that there must have been an element of the supernatural in this book, given its paranormal genre. But I honestly didn’t expect Esden to implement it in the way that she did.

I loved the eerie atmosphere, from the gothic setting to bits of pathetic fallacy (thanks, GCSE English) to the uncertainty of everything that was going on. The element of slow-reveal was potent throughout, but it really worked.

The MC was largely realistic, and I liked the fact that she knew exactly what she wanted and that she wasn’t scared to do everything in her power to do it. Her loyalty to her father was impressive, she went to great lengths in order to help him, despite people telling her that it was practically impossible and that she should stop trying.

However, the romance part of the novel basically didn’t exist for me. Which did pose a few problems, seeing as the book was supposed to be a paranormal ROMANCE… I just wasn’t feeling the chemistry between Annie and Chase in the slightest and found myself skipping a lot of the “romantic” parts or barely skim reading them enough to follow what was happening in the rest of the novel, which of course just gradually increased over the course of the novel. So I lost interest very quickly and skim read for a large part, which was probably why I didn’t appreciate the novel as much as I possibly could have.

Of course, this book was the first in the series, and it definitely felt like one – whilst the secondary character were developed (and man, did I dislike some of them – not necessarily because they were badly written, just that they were horrible people who didn’t deserve to be liked), the plot revolved largely around Annie’s father and didn’t go further than that until the very end of the book.

So I am inclined to read the second book, just to find out where it all goes  and to see whether I enjoy it much more than its predecessor, especially in the aspects I have mentioned above.

My Rating: pushing 3/5 Stars, probably closer to 2.5

ARC Review: Haunt Me – Liz Kessler

Synopsis:haunt-me-cover

Joe wakes up from a deep sleep to see his family leave in a removals van. Where they’ve gone, he has no idea. Erin moves house and instantly feels at home in her new room. Even if it appears she isn’t the only one living in it. Bit by bit, Erin and Joe discover that they have somehow found a way across the ultimate divide – life and death. Bound by their backgrounds, a love of poetry and their growing feelings for each other, they are
determined to find a way to be together.

Joe’s brother, Olly, never cared much for poetry. He was always too busy being king of the school – but that all changed when Joe died. And when an encounter in the school corridor brings him face to face with Erin, he realises how different things really are – including the kind of girl he falls for.

Two brothers. Two choices. Will Erin’s decision destroy her completely, or can she save herself before she is lost forever?


I received an eARC edition of this book courtesy of Orion Children’s Books/ Hachette Children’s Group via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book made me rather uncomfortable at times, my mind did not bode well with Joe and Erin’s relationship. I just couldn’t fully comprehend why on Earth it happened, because apart from artistic/writer’s license, I could not picture why one could and would come up with a human being falling for a ghost like some weird Caspar the Friendly Ghost remake…

Because that’s what this book felt like, with a side of bullying, and suicide and OD. It was all rainbows and sunshine. However, I do have to  say that Kessler did a good job of presenting all of these topics in a non-pretentious way.

In saying that, though, I thought that Erin was too reckless nearing the end of the book. I mean okay, she was introverted and had been bullied for the majority of her life, but going to the lengths she tried to; to be with the only human being her age (if one may even call Joe that, because I honestly don’t think so) who cared enough to show her affection was incredibly childish and thoughtless.

But I do guess that the above also explains the plentiful insta-love which occurred within this novel, which of course I found rather pathetic; but I am going to put it down to the MC’s unstable psyche, and excuse her from both incidents.

The relationship itself , well… it annoyed me. Joe and Erin felt like the same person sometimes and I think a bit of the whole “opposites attract” thing that most books have going on nowadays would have worked better, which was why I was quite relieved when Olly came into the story, which was  coincidentally also when the pace of the book picked up for me and reading became more bearable.

I honestly have no clue why this book didn’t work for me like it seemed to for the majority of its readers, but I do have to say that Kessler’s writing style kept this book from falling into the depths of hell with all the other books that had somewhat displeased me this year. It was fresh, and original and honestly worked perfect with the story and was a pleasure to read

My Rating: A Generous 2/5 Stars

ARC Review: Stealing Snow – Danielle Page

Synopsis: stealing snow cover

Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent the majority of her life within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she’s not crazy and doesn’t belong there. When she meets a mysterious, handsome new orderly and dreams about a strange twisted tree she realizes she must escape and figure out who she really is.

Using her trusting friend Bale as a distraction, Snow breaks free and races into the nearby woods. Suddenly, everything isn’t what it seems, the line between reality and fantasy begins to blur, and she finds herself in icy Algid–her true home–with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai, none of whom she’s sure she can trust. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she’s destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change the fate of everything…including Snow’s return to the world she once knew.


I received an eARC edition of this book courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Did I finish this book? Yes I did.

Did I enjoy it? No I didn’t, like at all.

I think a book about last winter’s snow melting would have been more exciting a read than this. Don’t get me wrong, the author did try, there were attempts at action which sort of gripped my attention for about 2 mins at a time…. but I probably could not recall much of it even if my entire existence depended on it.

I’m largely disappointed, tremendously so even. The concept of The Snow Queen retelling had soooooo much potential I was furious that it wasn’t better executed. The only thing I can actually say I appreciated was the concept of the powers and how magic was weaved into the story in a way that actually moved the story along somewhat, I was curious to find out what else the world beyond the tree had to hold.

Only to find out that the plot was literally going to meander back and forth between “oh, look, A MALE , let’s just fall in love with him, like – Right. Now” and a bunch of other clichés…

I mean, there was a love SQUARE. Yes, you read that right – not a normal couple, .not even a love triangle, a bloody love square, with each of its corners completed by insta-love itself. What a lovely combination this book was.

And the other part of the book seemed to be “oh, I have powers, let me not know how to use them correctly and/or forget to use them entirely….”. There was no world building, I didn’t feel particularly attached to the characters, nor can I say that I felt anything at all, not even a smidgen of positive emotions. AND ISN’T THAT SOMETHING TO LOOK FOR IN A BOOK… 

Because quite frankly  no, it isn’t.

Another thing that irked me beyond comfortable point of irkedness (because yes, that is a word now) was the fact that the writing seemed rather disjointed, maybe it was the fact that I had only read the ARC of the book, maybe this issue would be fixed in the future editions of the book, but in mine I just couldn’t get past that.

Also, why the frickety-frick-frack was there even a mental asylum involved, like what sort of significance did that have in the story apart from acting as a pretense for “world-building”, and it was only there for like the first 3 chapters of the book before our naive heroine decided it’d be a great idea to listen to and follow a random guy she just met (because not creepy at all… nope, best idea anyone’s ever had, that’s why there is a whole film franchise about the dangers of said situation….)

My Rating: 1/5 Stars (and only because I fought through this novel) 

ARC Review: City in Embers – Stacey Marie Brown

Synopsis:

city in embers cover.jpg

Zoey Daniels has been tossed from foster home to foster home, where she grows up fast and tough. When she is placed in her “last-chance” home, she finds a reason to stay and turn her life around: her foster sister, Lexie, who is paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. Zoey will do anything to keep her safe. After high school, Zoey is hired by a special government agency, the Department of Molecular Genetics (DMG), where she meets the other reason to remain: Daniel, her co-worker. The man she loves.

But there is something unique about Zoey. She can see fae. Because of this, the DMG hires her to work as a Collector: catching, researching, testing, and using the fae to save human lives. The work never registers on her sympathy radar. She was raised to think of fae as beasts that feed on humans and want to destroy them. (cont. on Goodreads)


I received an eARC edition of this novel courtesy of Mark My Words Publicity via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was actually a really solid book compared to some of my other summer reads, and I’m really glad to say that it wasn’t a disappointment… With action, fairies, hunters, weird and dangerous associations, and a kick ass heroine I can safely say that I thoroughly enjoyed this particular title.

I probably shouldn’t admit the fact that one of the only reasons I requested this book was because of the beautiful cover, the colour and the way the book’s subjects were presented truly drew me into reading it. I  was nearly mesmerised by the patterns on (what I assume is) Ryker’s back contrasted by Zoey’s shadow.

Speaking of the devil, Zoey was a great protagonist, I liked her ‘voice’ and of course the author’s well thought out descriptive style only added to that. At no point did she turn into a great big pile of “oh no, what shall I dooooooooo, I’m such a poorly girl, someone come and save me…..” which I really appreciated because she had every reason to along the course of the novel, but yet chose to move past everything that happened and carry on trying to do her job as it should be done.

fight the fairies.gif

I apologise  I will not apologise for the use of this semi-relevant gif in this situation. 

I don’t know what it is about side-kicks in books but yet again, much alike other similar books, I absolutely loved Sprig and have to say he was probably my favourite character despite playing a seemingly small part in the story. I needed more of him…. Like a whole novel worth if it is possible, please?

The romance was actually well written. The absence of my number one foe: insta-love meant I got to really enjoy the characters’ chemistry and I cannot wait to see where the story goes in the next book. To be fair, I preferred Zoey’s second love interest of the novel much more than the first which, if I’m being perfectly honest, made me largely uncomfortable despite maybe not being a totally messed up match… I just didn’t buy it.

One of the things that irked me slightly was how slow the beginning of this book was. But thankfully it got better and I was flying through the pages until I read the whole thing in 3 hours which I didn’t expect to do upon finding and requesting the novel.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

“I missed Starbucks. There were no caramel flavoring or whipped cream options in purgatory.”

Zoey