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 

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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

ARC Review: Sanctuary Bay – Laura J. Burns, Melinda Metz

Synopsis:sanctuary bay cover.jpg

When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn’t sound more appealing. Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate’s dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay’s glossy reputation.


I received an eARC edition of this novel courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I – I need a sequel. That cliffhanger ending, well; that well-developed “cliffhanger” ending was just too much for my brain to handle. If this turns out to be a standalone novel I am going to be greatly disgruntled because I just need to know where the story went after the words ran out in a very Hazel Grace Lancasteresque way.

It took  me a while to warm up to the idea of the story however, I’m not particularly fond of the tropes which it held within itself . The whole poor girl in school full of rich people thing didn’t bode well with my dislike of similar stories and I found that the sliight love triangle sort of thing that I smelled very early on in the story didn’t help at all.

BUT, these rich kids weren’t the usual arseholes that we usually meet in these sorts of novels – they were actually quite nice to the MC which I found rather surprising.

I also really liked how dark the story got at times, it was captivating and mildly terrifying but the odd combination of feelings actually worked in favour of the book .

The mystery part of the novel actually worked; there were countless plot twists which managed to catch me off guard. And if that isn’t a sign of a successful book of this genre, I don’t know what is. The suspense definitely built up during the course

The suspense definitely built up during the course of the novels thanks to the MC’s unawareness to what was going on around her. I actually really liked her voice, Burns and Metz had a pleasant to read writing styles which weaved flawlessly together to make a story I enjoyed.

I’m not going to lie, this book was really trippy at times, it was largely a case of having to figure out things along with the protagonist, which was difficult as things weren’t always what they seemed and even when she was sure of something, something else proved to be true/ messed up what she thought and it was just so incredibly suspenseful in a really cleverly crafted way, the story was honestly full of so many dark and unexpected secrets!

I can safely say that I enjoyed this book and would definitely be willing to read its sequels if any were to arise (which would put my bookish needs to rest).

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

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

Book Review: The Star-Touched Queen – Roshani Chokshi

Synopsis:the-star-touched-queen-cover

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only se
venteen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.


I received an eARC edition of this novel courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.

I find it really difficult to wrote reviews of the hyped books. Especially when I have nothing nice to say about them which has somehow turned out to be half of my looked-forward-to list this year. Luckily, this particular book was not the case.

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I know I usually moan about insta-love. I know…. but I somehow bought this one. And that’s a real rarity because I’m incredibly annoyed with most cases of it. I think it was mainly because it seemed rather appropriate given the cultural situation in which the protagonist was placed in and given the fact that destiny and fate played such a huge part of the novel, and because I thought it was going to happen at one point or another anyway; it didn’t irk me as much as it usually does.

I loved Maya’s voice, she was resilient and headstrong and just things that I love in a main character, especially in these sorts of novels where some of the female characters really lack in the characteristics department.

The story flowed almost magically. It definitely made my 2 hour flight pass by in no more than a blink and I think that itself deserves praise because I was surrounded by rowdy children.

The animal side kick yet again stole my heart . She was the ideal mix of sarcasm and sweetness, and was honestly probably my favourite character despite none of the characters being particularly unlikeable. I really loved her part in the story, and the fact that she was allowed to live unlike many other animal sidekicks I have had the chance to read about.

Chokshi’s style is something magnificent, full of metaphorical language it left me largely intrigued. The descriptions in this book were wonderful, and intricately crafted, and I loved the idea of mythology within the story – I thought it worked really well with the plot.

Whilst some people were annoyed by the unclarity which was caused by the writing, I can’t say I particularly minded, I think the fact that the reader is kept in the dark about quite a few things (especially when it comes to the world within which the book was set) was a good move on the author’s part.

Only fault I could find really was the fact that the “BIG AND BAD” was quite predictable. I was screaming at the protagonist not to go in her vicinity . But of course, that didn’t quite go to plan and the protagonist fell head first into trouble – but I guess that is custom of fantasy novels really, so it isn’t something that Chokshi can be blamed for.

If you want a story full of culture, deceit, love (or was it really?) and intrigue written in an almost magical way , then this book may just be for you.

My rating : 4/5 Stars

“A memory is a fine legacy to leave behind.”
Roshani Chokshi, The Star-Touched Queen