Showing posts with label won. Show all posts
Showing posts with label won. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Review:The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

34275232. sy475 Title: The Hazel Wood
Series: The Hazel Wood #1
Author: Melissa Albert
Source/Format: Won in a giveaway; Paperback
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Flatiron Books; January 30, 2018

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.” 
Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.
This is the second time I’ve picked up The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert. The first time around, I wasn’t feeling it. However, I was in the mood for something with a fairy-tale atmosphere to it, and I decided to give this book another try.

The Hazel Wood was good. I liked it. I still encountered some of the same issues I had the first time around. Like the opening chapters, while interesting, weren’t my favorite part of the story—Alice Proserpine’s characterization and interactions with the characters around her somewhat contributed to that. That being said, once I got past the point that I originally stopped at, the story picked up some pace with the introduction of more of the fantastical elements. The “Tales from the Hinterland” and everything to do with it were among my favorite portions of The Hazel Wood. They were where the fairy-tale atmosphere and Alice shined the most—and the aspects about Alice that were sort of meh, made sense when put into context with the rest of the story. The Hazel Wood is, by no means, a light book. It deals with some of the darker aspects of fairy-tales, and that was true for most—if not all—of the Hinterland stories.

In general, the characters were interesting. Finch was probably my favorite character from The Hazel Wood, because I enjoyed his backstory and character arc the most.

Overall, I liked The Hazel Wood. The ending definitely left room for more possibilities, and since the sequel, The Night Country, is already out, I don’t have to wait to read it. Have you read The Hazel Wood? If so, what did you think about it?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Review: Ghostly Echoes by William Ritter

Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby, #3)Title: Ghostly Echoes
Author: William Ritter
Source/Format: Won; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Historical; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Algonquin Young Readers; August 23, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Jenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, has enlisted the investigative services of her fellow residents to solve a decade-old murder—her own. Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, Detective R. F. Jackaby, dive into the cold case, starting with a search for Jenny’s fiancé, who went missing the night she died. But when a new, gruesome murder closely mirrors the events of ten years prior, Abigail and Jackaby realize that Jenny’s case isn’t so cold after all, and her killer may be far more dangerous than they suspected.

Fantasy and folklore mix with mad science as Abigail’s race to unravel the mystery leads her across the cold cobblestones of nineteenth-century New England, down to the mythical underworld, and deep into her colleagues’ grim histories to battle the most deadly foe she has ever faced...
This is another one of those books that I really had to stop and think about what I’d read before trying to write out the review. Except, this time it took me a lot longer than usual to finally get back to Ghostly Echoes. I read Ghostly Echoes back in early February, and I've just now gotten around to talking about it on the blog. I don't normally start with the third book in a series. However, I already had this book on my shelf, and I wanted to see if this was a series I would be interested in continuing before getting the other books. Honestly, there were some things about the story that I have some mixed feelings about, but the mystery and paranormal elements were actually pretty interesting.

Going into this book, I didn’t know much about the series or Ghostly Echoes. But, the idea of a ghost playing a part in trying to solve her own cold case murder was enough of an incentive to get me to read this book. This sounded like the kind of mystery I would actually enjoy reading. If I think about Ghostly Echoes as a whole, it wasn’t bad at all. And that mystery I was so interested in was the focus of the story. While the mystery was one of the more important aspects of the book, there were also others scenes that illustrated the relationship dynamics between the characters. I particularly liked those more personal scenes.

Since I got such a late start in the series I didn’t know much about the history of the characters. However, there was enough dialogue and bits and pieces of experiences recounted by the characters that I didn’t have any trouble getting into the story. The characters were okay. Jackaby was fine, but I don’t have much to say about him other than the fact that he had a very interesting ability. Abigail’s role in the story was, just like Jackaby’s, fine. I didn’t mind reading from her perspective.

Now, there is one more thing I want to make mention of before I end this review, and that’s the villains. You can’t have a good mystery without good villains to be in that antagonistic role. And Ghostly Echoes had villains that were cunning, ruthless, and coldhearted—which is what made the mystery so good.

So, Ghostly Echoes was a pretty good book. Now that I’ve read it, I would be interested in eventually going back and reading the rest of the series.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Review: The Bridge From Me To You by Lisa Schroeder

The Bridge from Me to YouTitle: The Bridge from Me to You
Author: Lisa Schroeder 
Source/Format: Won (Giveaway), Bound ARC
More Details: Young Adult; Contemporary; Romance
Publisher/Publication Date: Point; July 29, 2014

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Lauren has a secret. Colby has a problem. But when they find each other, everything falls into place... 

Lauren is the new girl in town with a dark secret. Colby is the football hero with a dream of something more. In alternating chapters, they come together, fall apart, and build something stronger than either of them thought possible--something to truly believe in...
The synopsis doesn’t tell much about the book, but I decided to give it a try anyway. And folks, let me tell you, I’m glad I did. The Bridge From Me To You is the first book I’ve read by Lisa Schroeder, and it was a very cute contemporary novel. The story focused on a high school football player and a girl just trying to find her place in the world. This concept had the possibility of turning into a been-there-done-that kind of thing. However, it was anything but typical, and I liked this book more than I thought I would. At first, I wasn’t too sure about how I would react to the writing, but actually, I really liked it. The development of the characters respective situations, backstories, and relationships didn’t suffer because of the alternating POVs and writing. The combination of prose and poetry was interesting to read, and worked well. I think Schroeder did a good job at the emotional aspect of the book, and I liked the chemistry between Lauren and Colby. The friendships were great too—they seemed realistic, and the connection between the characters was there. Another thing I liked was how this book didn’t gloss over the issues, but instead showed the potential worries and emotional damage that could come from them.

At the end of the day, The Bridge From Me To You was a very good book. I really enjoyed it, and I would consider picking up another novel by Schroeder.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Review: Mortal Gods by Kendare Blake

Mortal Gods (Goddess War, #2)Title: Mortal Gods
Author: Kendare Blake
Source/Format: Won; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Tor Teen; October 14, 2014

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Ares, God of War, is leading the other dying gods into battle. Which is just fine with Athena. She's ready to wage a war of her own, and she's never liked him anyway. If Athena is lucky, the winning gods will have their immortality restored. If not, at least she'll have killed the bloody lot of them, and she and Hermes can die in peace. Cassandra Weaver is a weapon of fate. The girl who kills gods. But all she wants is for the god she loved and lost to return to life. If she can't have that, then the other gods will burn, starting with his murderer, Aphrodite. The alliance between Cassandra and Athena is fragile. Cassandra suspects Athena lacks the will to truly kill her own family. And Athena fears that Cassandra's hate will get them ALL killed. The war takes them across the globe, searching for lost gods, old enemies, and Achilles, the greatest warrior the world has ever seen. As the struggle escalates, Athena and Cassandra must find a way to work together. Because if they can't, fates far worse than death await...
I won a copy of Mortal Gods a while ago, and until recently it’s been sitting on my shelf unread. I’m not very familiar with Blake’s work, but I’ve heard no shortage of glowing praise about Anna Dressed in Blood. I also haven’t read books that involved Greek mythology in a long time. So, I was really looking forward to getting to Mortal Gods.

The first thing that struck me about the story was the premise, which is basically along the lines of: the gods are mysteriously dying out, and the main character, Cassandra, is caught up in the middle of it. There’s a lot of action, internal conflict amongst the gods, and all the while sides are being chosen. Sounds interesting, right? Well, Mortal Gods was pretty fantastic. I really did enjoy the book. It had a lot going for it, from the mythology aspect, to the utterly normal moments amongst the chaos. All in all, the combination had a cool effect.

The plot in itself was enough to carry the novel—it was interesting, and the early introduction of the conflict raised enough questions to keep me reading. I did enjoy Blake’s take on Greek Mythology. There were familiar names like Ares, Aphrodite, Athena, and Hermes—just to name a few. The roles they occupied were as their mythology dictates with some minor changes to accommodate the plot. Then there was Cassandra. She wasn’t a bad main character, but sometimes I felt like her decisions were getting clouded by her grudge against certain characters. Other than that, she fit seamlessly into a story with Athena and Co.

I’ve read books where things rapidly unfold, but there’s never much of a reaction to it. It’s like, okay, this thing went down. So, tell me how this impacts the characters. How do they feel about it? How are they going to deal with the consequences and emotional impact? That wasn’t a problem here. There was an emotional aspect to Mortal Gods that I particularly enjoyed. There were a lot of relationships, friendships, current love interests, and even ones who were previously lost. Blake dealt with the fallout of these things in a way that blended it with the present story, without having it take over the plot entirely—yet the characters were certainly influenced by it.

I never considered reading Anna Dressed in Blood before, but after reading Mortal Gods, I’m curious to see if all that glowing praise is true. Two thumbs up for this one.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Review: Royal Wedding Disaster by Meg Cabot

Royal Wedding Disaster (From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess, #2)Title: Royal Wedding Disaster
Author: Meg Cabot
Source/Format: Won, Hardcover
More Details: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Publisher/Publication Date: Feiwel & Friends; May 10, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison still finds it hard to believe that she's a real live PRINCESS OF GENOVIA. Not only does she get to live in an actual palace with her newly discovered family and two fabulous poodles (who all love her and think that she's anything but ordinary!) but she also gets her very own PONY! Of course, things aren't going exactly like she imagined. Her half-sister Mia is very busy learning how to take over the country while trying to plan a wedding and her father is actually getting remarried himself-to Mia's mother!-and spends most of his time "renovating" the summer palace, although Grandmere says he is just hiding from the wedding preparations. Olivia hardly gets to see either of them. Fortunately, Grandmere has her own plans for Mia's wedding, and needs Olivia's help to pull them off. Just when Olivia starts to think that things are going to work out after all, the palace is invaded by a host of new cousins and other royals who all seem to be angry at Olivia (although Grandmere says they are just jealous).

As the day of the wedding gets closer and closer, Olivia becomes more and more worried. For such a carefully planned event, it seems like a LOT of things are going wrong... Can Olivia keep this royal wedding from becoming a royal disaster?
I really enjoyed From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot, and after the ending of that one I couldn’t wait to pick up Royal Wedding Disaster. Mostly, I wanted to see the continuation of Olivia’s story and how she would adjust to changes that happened in the last book. Royal Wedding Disaster was far from a disappointment, and was definitely a good and entertaining follow-up to From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess.

This book is basically about Olivia adjusting to her new life in Genovia, while learning how to be a princess with Mia’s wedding date looming in the distance—with nothing ready. I liked Royal Wedding Disaster better than the first book in the series. The plot was pretty interesting. There wasn’t much of a mystery aspect, since Royal Wedding Disaster was more about Olivia’s life rather than anything else; however, the book was still a good one. As I mentioned above, it was entertaining.

As for Olivia she has sort of adjusted to her new life, but maintains her personality as she learns how to be a princess. It’s not all peaches and roses, and it isn't free from sudden hurdles—like learning how to dance, adjusting to a new school, and the stresses of helping with the wedding preparation; just to name a few. On the plus side, she also had a family who really cared about her, who didn’t exclude her every chance they got, and were willing to offer much needed advice when necessary. Olivia wasn’t a one-note, cardboard character—she was capable of being happy, sad, and even frustrated at times.

Several new characters were introduced, like Olivia’s cousin, Luisa. Olivia’s friend, Nishi, was also present. She was a good friend to Olivia in From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess, and she was also great in Royal Wedding Disaster. Cabot did a good job depicting their friendship as very ordinary and supportive—so two thumbs up just for that.

Overall, Royal Wedding Disaster was really good, I certainly enjoyed it.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Review: From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot

From the Notebooks of a Middle School PrincessTitle: From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess
Author: Meg Cabot
Source/Format: Won, Paperback
More Details: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Publisher/Publication Date: Square Fish, May 19, 2015

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Return to the world of Meg Cabot's bestselling and beloved Princess Diaries series in From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess—this time through the illustrated diary of a spunky new heroine: Princess Mia's long lost half-sister, Olivia! Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison is a completely average twelve-year-old: average height, average weight, average brown hair of average length, average brown skin and average hazel eyes. The only things about her that aren't average are her name (too long and princess themed), her ability to draw animals (useful for her future career as a wildlife illustrator), and the fact that she is a half-orphan who has never met her father and is forced to live with her aunt and uncle (who treat her almost like their own kids, so she doesn't want to complain). Then one completely average day, everything goes wrong: the most popular girl in school, Annabelle Jenkins, threatens to beat her up, the principal gives her a demerit, and she's knocked down at the bus stop.... Until a limo containing Princess Mia Thermopolis of Genovia pulls up to invite her to New York to finally meet her father, who promptly invites her to come live with him, Mia, Grandmère and her two fabulous poodles. Maybe Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison isn't so average after all!
I admit that I haven’t read the Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot, but I have seen the movies, so I’m not completely unfamiliar with the general plot. Anyway, I was really excited to receive From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess in the mail, and I ignored everything else to go ahead and read it. To sum it up, the story was short and cute.

Told from the perspective of Olivia, the story basically follows her as she discovers the truth about her family. The discovery isn’t much of a surprise, because the title and the synopsis are more than suggestiveand I was a little disappointed by that. However, that wasn’t too much of a fault since there were other things going on that were more of a surprise. I also liked how family ties and friendships were dealt with alongside the many changes happening to Olivia at once. The writing was done in a way that captured Olivia’s voice and really showed her as a character, which was great.

Overall, From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess was pretty good. Since I have the second book, I look forward to seeing what happens next and maybe I’ll finally go back and give The Princess Diaries series a try.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

The Darkest Part of the ForestTitle: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Source/Format: Won, Print ARC
More Details: Young Adult, Paranormal 
Publisher/Publication Date: Little Brown Books for Young Readers, January 13, 2015
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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for...

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once. At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking. Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?
I’m no stranger to Holly Black’s books. I enjoyed her Modern Faerie Tale series and liked the work she did with Tony DiTerlizzi on The Spiderwick Chronicles. Next on my list was The Darkest Part of the Forest.

At first, I had some reservations about how the story would work. The book is a standalone and the hype was tremendous at the time of its release. So, I was expecting a complete story with an ending good enough to be considered satisfying. Thankfully, I got what I was expecting. The story was good, and I did enjoy the book.

Black knows how to write faeries well, and does it in a style that’s shows the grittier, darker nature of the fey while playing off common themes—such as the magic and allergy to iron—while twisting them to suite the story. As with Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside before it, The Darkest Part of the Forest seemed to hold true to some of these themes. The setting of Fairfold complemented the atmosphere of mystery and magic that embroiled the character’s lives.

Hazel and Ben, brother and sister, were right in the middle of the mystery surrounding the glass coffin and the boy who slept within. After all, they had grown up in Fairfold, surrounded by magic and faeries their entire lives. Black showed how the environment had begun to affect them in different ways over time—shaping them into the characters that took center focus in the book.

Amidst the trouble brewing in Fairfold, really, The Darkest Part of the Forest was Hazel and Ben’s story—about their past and their present, and how their decisions were interpreted and the unforeseen consequences for their actions.

The ending was good, and the last several chapters consisted of my favorite parts. That is to say, there were plenty of surprises, and I was pretty happy about that. So, I definitely wasn’t disappointed by The Darkest Part of the Forest.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Review: The Marvels by Brian Selznick

The MarvelsTitle: The Marvels
Author: Brian Selznick
Source/Format: Won, Hardcover
More Details: Middle Grade, Historical
Publisher/Publication Date: Scholastic Press, September 15, 2015

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Two seemingly unrelated stories--one in words, the other in pictures--come together. The illustrated story begins in 1766 with Billy Marvel, the lone survivor of a shipwreck, and charts the adventures of his family of actors over five generations. The prose story opens in 1990 and follows Joseph, who has run away from school to an estranged uncle's puzzling house in London, where he, along with the reader, must piece together many mysteries...
I read two of Selznick’s books before I finally got to the last one I had on my shelf, The Marvels. Following Selznick’s previously established style, The Marvels is told half in pictures and half in words. Thus, the book was a delightful, thoroughly engrossing story from beginning to end.

Half the story belonged to Billy Marvel, the sole survivor of a shipwreck. And the other half belonged to Joseph, a young boy in 1990 who has run away from school. Part of the intrigue with Selznick’s books, for me, is seeing how the stories will eventually connect. And with The Marvels, that was one of my primary reasons for reading the book. Joseph was a good character. I liked his story. He was a boy who caused some trouble even if that wasn’t what he intended. Billy’s story was equally enjoyable and just as integral to the plot. To understand Joseph’s story, Billy’s had to be told as well. The other characters were delightful as well, and their stories tied in with Joseph’s. Their interactions were some or my favorite parts.

The illustrations perfectly conveyed the characters emotions, and were effective at telling a story on their own. The setting was, again, historical, and developed in a way that showed that Selznick knew what he was doing and had done his research. In the end, I am glad that I read The Marvels. It’s easily become one of my favorites.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Review: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

WonderstruckTitle: Wonderstruck
Author: Brian Selznick
Source/Format: Won, Hardcover
More Details: Middle Grade, Historical
Publisher/Publication Date: Scholastic Press, September 13, 2011

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Ben and Rose secretly wish for better lives. Ben longs for his unknown father. Rose scrapbooks a famous silent actress. When Ben finds clues and Rose reads enticing news, the children independently run to New York for what they are missing. Ben's story in words, Rose's in pictures, come together in deafness...
Wonderstruck was wonderful. This book, from start to finish, was absolutely fantastic. Selznick has done it again, perfectly crafting a story through words and pictures.

Unlike The Invention of Hugo Cabret, I went into Wonderstruck without really knowing what I was getting into. But, thanks to my lack of prior knowledge about the book, I was left with moments that I can only describe as surprising. As the synopsis indicates, this story is divided into two perspectives set fifty years apart. The first is Ben, whose story is told mostly through words. And the second is Rose, whose story is told through pictures. One of the main reasons I read Wonderstruck was to see how these two timelines would eventually meet.

I got what I was looking for and then some.

Ben was a wonderful character. His reactions to situations were believable, and really, all I wanted to see was for him to get a happy ending—he went through a lot in a short amount of time, and that’s where the story begins. Ben is adjusting to changes in his life, mainly concerning his family. Rose was also wonderful. Although her story was told through pictures, the images captured her emotion and story so well that words weren’t really needed to tell it. Ben and Rose were great characters, and I enjoyed reading their story.

So, Wonderstruck was great. I have one more unread book by Selznick sitting on my shelf, and I plan to read it soon.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Review: Guys Read: Terrifying Tales edited by Jon Scieszka

Guys Read: Terrifying TalesTitle:Guys Read: Terrifying Tales
Edited By: Jon Scieszka 
Source/Format: Won, Hardback
More Details: Middle Grade
Publisher/Publication Date: Walden Pond Press, September 1, 2015

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Be afraid, be very afraid of Terrifying Tales, the sixth volume in the Guys Read Library of Great Reading.

Eleven masters of suspense—Kelly Barnhill, Michael Buckley, Adam Gidwitz, Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown, Claire Legrand, Nikki Loftin, Daniel José Older, Dav Pilkey, R.L. Stine, and Rita Williams-Garcia—have come together to bring you a bone-chilling collection of original ghost stories with illustrations by Gris Grimly, perfect for sharing around the campfire, reading under the covers with a flashlight, and scaring your friends’ pants off.

Compiled and edited by kid-lit madman Jon Scieszka, Guys Read: Terrifying Tales is a creepy-fun read (if you’re brave enough, that is)...
With any collection of stories I’m bound to have my favorites, while there are some that I won’t enjoy as much. The same goes for Guys Read: Terrifying Tales. It was a very interesting, and at times a spooky collection of stories. I’m going to talk about a couple of my favorites in no particular order.

Don’t Eat the Baby by Kelly Barnhill was a good take on the age-old adage of being very careful with what you wish for. The fine print of something considered to be a simple wish, was clearly highlighted with this story.

My Ghost Story by Dav Pilkey was a really nice story about—as the title suggests—ghosts. The illustrations on this one were incredibly nice, and the story was just a really good one.

Marcos at the River by Daniel José Older was definitely one of my favorites. It wasn’t too spooky, but it was a well-done story.

Disappear! by R.L. Stine was another good one that I really liked. It basically shows that expectations might not be how a person actually is despite the persona they put on for the public eye. While this one wasn’t so spooky, the magic aspect was nice.

And last, but certainly not least, Clair Legrand’s The Mandigore. This story was really spooky and it involved libraries, so, it was right up my alley. There were a lot of aspects that I liked about it, but I don't want to tell too much because it would lead to spoilers.

Overall, I liked this collection, and I would consider picking up books by some of the authors.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Review: The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas

The Immortal Heights (The Elemental Trilogy, #3)Title:The Immortal Heights
Author: Sherry Thomas
Source/Format: Won, Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Balzer + Bray, October 13, 2015

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

In a pursuit that has spanned continents, Iolanthe, Titus, and their friends have always managed to remain one step ahead of the forces of Atlantis. But now the Bane, the monstrous tyrant who bestrides the entire mage world, has issued his ultimatum: Titus must hand over Iolanthe, or watch as his entire realm is destroyed in a deadly rampage. Running out of time and options, Iolanthe and Titus must act decisively to deliver a final blow to the Bane, ending his reign of terror for good.

However, getting to the Bane means accomplishing the impossible—finding a way to infiltrate his crypt in the deepest recesses of the most ferociously guarded fortress in Atlantis. And everything is only made more difficult when new prophecies come to light, foretelling a doomed effort…

Iolanthe and Titus will put their love and their lives on the line. But will it be enough?

With The Immortal Heights, Sherry Thomas brings the acclaimed Elemental Trilogy to its breathtaking conclusion...
Going into The Immortal Heights I had high expectations—I really liked The Burning Sky and I absolutely loved The Perilous Sea. No worries, because The Immortal Heights was a fantastic end to this trilogy.

The Immortal Heights picked up right where the story left off, opening with a battle that was set up at the end of the previous book. It was an exciting right from the start and continued to be so till the very end. One of the things I enjoyed about this book was the use of prophesies as a major part of the concept. It does use the chosen one trope, but it also stresses the idea that what was seen maybe isn’t exactly what happened. As such, things that were considered fact in book one—things that couldn’t be changed—their meaning was subsequently called into question. Another aspect I enjoyed was the action, there was plenty of it.

All of my favorite characters from books 1 and 2 were back, especially Titus and Iolanthe. This book was the conclusion to their story. Both characters experienced some growth as more about Iolanthe was finally revealed. Basically, the truth about the situation was finally made clear, and I’m glad my questions were answered.

The Bane was just as terrible as the previous books made him out to be. He does finally make a direct appearance in The Immortal Heights, and he was a horrible mage who did things that were just not okay. The entire trilogy revolved around him and Atlantis, so it was nice to see that he got some backstory, even if it just made me despise him more. Besides the whole taking-over-the-world kind of thing, he had another reason for his actions—one I won’t reveal because of spoilers.

The setting was fantastic as always, beginning in the desert before jumping from place to place when the characters needed to move quickly. It was also nice to see some of Atlantis because it had remained as a looming shadow over Titus and Iolanthe. And while it seemed like an ideal place—albeit heavily fortified—there was evidence of persistent problems.

The ending is something I’m a fan of for many different reasons, but I won’t go into anything specifically. It was just really nice.

While I am sad that this series is over, I’m glad to have read it since all three books are now some of my favorites. In light of that, I’m just waiting to see what Sherry Thomas writes next.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Review: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

The Invention of Hugo CabretTitle: The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Author: Brian Selznick
Source/Format: Won, Hardcover
More Details: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Scholastic, April 1, 2007

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

An orphan and a thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy train station. He desperately believes a broken automation will make his dreams come true. But when his world collides with an eccentric girl and a bitter old man, Hugo's undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy...
The Invention of Hugo Cabret is the kind of book I want to share with my entire family. It was just really lovely, and I have no idea why I never read it before, though I’m happy I finally did.

The story belongs mainly to Hugo, an orphan after the death of his father and his uncle soon after. He secretly takes care of the clocks in the station, stealing food just to keep from going hungry. There were other characters too—Isabelle, Etienne, Georges, Jeanne—who were tied into Hugo’s story and affected his life in different ways. The story paired with Selznick style was the perfect combination. The way it was told was just fantastic—partly through pictures that depicted scenes throughout the novel.

From start to finish The Invention of Hugo Cabret was wonderful. I have two more of Brian Selznick’s books on my shelf, and I definitely plan to read them soon.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Review: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy, #1)Title: The Burning Sky
Author: Sherry Thomas
Source/Format: Won, Hardcover 
More Details: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Balzer + Bray, September 17, 2013

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

It all began with a ruined elixir and a bolt of lightning...

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's been told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant sixteen-year-old girl with no training.

Guided by his mother's visions and committed to avenging his family, Prince Titus has sworn to protect Iolanthe even as he prepares her for their battle with the Bane. But he makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the tyrant closing in, Titus must choose between his mission—and her life...
“It all began with a ruined elixir and a bolt of lightning…”

That quote above pretty much sums up what happened to the main character of this novel. A ruined elixir accompanied by a bolt of lightning from there Iolanthe Seaborne was in trouble, lots of it.

This is one trilogy I’ve been meaning to start and I’m glad that I finally got around to it. That is to say I enjoyed The Burning Sky. There were a lot of aspects I liked, including the setting and all of the details typically associated with fantasy—magic, interesting creatures, etc.—thus, this was my kind of novel.

Iolanthe was a pretty interesting character with some faults. Despite repeated warnings she ended up doing stuff that landed her in some pretty hot water. The antagonists of the book had a lot of influence and resources so obviously this presented a roadblock to Iolanthe—who was basically without many connections. Titus, I liked him—yes he was a prince, but his backstory was of interest to me, and I hope to learn more about his mother in the next book. It would be an understatement to say that his mother had a minimal role because despite being deceased, the lingering clues to her life left a big shadow across the entire story—so much so that she might as well have been there anyway.

The book was easy to get into and the plot was pretty good. The Burning Sky relies heavily on the chosen one trope, but I didn’t mind it too much because I was more interested in how the story was going to unfold. After all, Iolanthe was pretending to be a boy while the antagonists were practically on her heels. I don’t have any comments about the pacing of the plot because this was a pretty solid novel. There were enough details to keep me interested—plenty of small things that happened around the central focus of the story.

I still have some questions—about the antagonists, Titus’ mother, and even some regarding Iolanthe herself—so I look forward to reading The Perilous Sea, which I plan on doing very soon.
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