My Rating: 4 Stars
What a read! Unique, imaginative and very dark: what is there not to like?
The story takes place in 1910 where occultist and adventurer Ingrid Redstone travels to the City of Angels in search of the Aztec portal to the afterlife. She didn’t count on meeting Death on the side and get on a ride through the history of the city. As their relationship develops and grows deeper, Ingrid realizes that their worlds' weren’t meant to cross and in the end, she will have to choose between a life with the living or amongst the dead.
I admire the author for the work on the organization of the storyline; in the beginning, it was a bit tricky and complex to understand and follow but then it really drew me into the story. I think it’s the first time I read a novel that manages to mix dark fantasy with historical fiction, vintage times, mystery, supernatural and romance. It is a dangerous attempt but the author managed to successfully create a unique, refreshing and new style entirely. There is an exceptional view of the underworld, how it works, how time passes differently; details that built this dark world. The way the characters explore past times and meet several notables of the old days is a great idea. I wish I had the chance to sit with Alfred Hitchcock! The historical settings of the novel are also very well described and I really do enjoy a good story that takes place in the jazz days.
The characters are solid and their interactions are very human. It’s a love story but it’s not a fairytale either; they have communication problems, misunderstandings. It’s easy to see that Death isn’t used to interact with anyone, especially not with a human woman. I see Ingrid has a more quiet type and more hesitant when it comes to Death. She jumps into the unknown without thinking very much about it and how it actually might end for her but at the same time she lets him take all the initiative, which was a bit frustrating at times.
Overall, a great, unique, thrilling adventure that I recommend to all the fans of a more complex romantic fantasy.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Rocket Surgery Books. and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 2 Stars
Select isn’t the type of novel that I usually go for, and as a result, I got mix feelings about it.
The novel tells the story of Julia Jaynes, a teenage girl that is banished by her family to a public high school for putting her family reputation on the line. Gifted with unusual abilities, Julia struggles to adapt in a world where she needs to find herself, what she truly wants and what she’s willing to do to get it. When she meets John Ford, once a tennis prodigy, she starts seeing the world outside the boundaries set by her social status and her over-protected life.
For me, this was an easy read: easy to follow, no need to think, just go with the flow. Unfortunately, I didn’t connect with the story. The story-line is reasonably developed and the setting is a bit too cliche for my taste. I felt like it’s a bit too much teenage and family drama at some point and even though I understand that Julia had a sheltered life, some of her actions and reactions were a bit too much for me. Her wish for a strong male figure just made me feel like she is unable to deal with things herself and that didn’t set very well with me.
I would have liked to see a deeper description of emotions and connection between characters. I didn’t feel excitement or the need to keep reading the story even though I finished it. I like to feel like the story is unpredictable, and with this novel it was easy to see where it would end up.
The novel centres around the situations most teenagers go through: learning that life isn’t easy, that things change quickly and sometimes the people we get close to aren’t meant to stay in our lives forever.
I think the author still needs to polish her writing style a bit but the talent is there. I’m curious to read the next novel and see if there is an evolution.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Charlesbridge Teen. and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
A brilliant novel! Thrilling, a bit creepy and very intriguing novel: a promising start for a new series!
Julie Hall has had a tough life: abused by her grandmother in her childhood and cursed with the ability to find dead bodies with her dousing rods, she just wants to blend in and have a normal life with her grandfather and her dog Wookie. At the same time, a serial killer is on the loose, leaving the bodies of young women behind with very little evidence. When an FBI agent called Garrett Pierce comes knocking asking for her help, Julie has to use the ability that she was raised to believe to be evil in order to prevent other killings. As the killer gets wind of Julie, Garrett vows to protect her… but will it be enough?
Grave Calling is highly engaging and addictive. The story-line is very well-developed and constructed, full of twists and turns and a perfect ending with a very unlikely killer. I really enjoyed how the author jumped from the past to the present, it was done beautifully and it was very easy to follow the story without losing myself or the details.
Julie is a great main character and a very unlikely heroine all things considered. The abuse she suffered in her childhood is heart-breaking and the fact that she still struggles with it gives her depth as a character, it makes her more real. Her past has a direct influence in the story, not only because it shapes her, but also because it emphases her struggles to deal with the killings and the bodies she finds. It was a bit agonising to read to be honest. Even so, she has no problems in speaking her mind and definitely not afraid to take on a serial killer. Garrett is a great male protagonist and he has his share of suffering and of bad memories which makes the partnership with Julie a great one, they understand and comfort each other. I really enjoyed reading about their developing relationship and their chemistry. Despite the age difference, they are great together. The secondary characters complement the story very nicely, especially Julie’s friend Katie.
This was my first read of Wendy Roberts and I highly recommend Grave Calling for the fans of cosy mysteries with a bit of spice and a lot of twists and surprises. A great thrilling read!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Carina Press. and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
Addictive, new and unforgettable. This novel is just as promising as its mysterious cover and I couldn’t put it down.
Grisham is Watcher, he turns into a gargoyle to get ride of fiends. When his uncle requests his help in Hidden Creek, Gris slowly begins to realise that there is more to the town than meets the eye. Piper is the exemplary teenage girl: perfect grades, popular with the boys and she is more than ready to leave Hidden Creek to go to the university. Haunted by nightmares and dealing with OCD, her life doesn’t get any easier, especially after the brutal murder of her dog Jester. Piper joins forces with Gris and together they try to solve the unexplained events that haunt the small town. From murder of animals to disappearances and grave robberies, nothing and no one are what they seem.
I got completely addicted to this book: the characters, the setting, the reality and the build-up of the mystery. The whole idea of gargoyles and fiends is brilliant and it was refreshing to read something a bit different when it comes to the YA genre. I also really enjoyed the mentioning of more sensitive topics like OCD and self-harm; it’s a way of showing the reality and the obstacles people with these issues have to go through every day. And the best part? It’s done brilliantly. This novel mixes romance with mystery and supernatural in a unique way and it was impossible not to be pulled into the story and its characters.
I really enjoyed the setting of the story: Hidden Creek. Right from the beginning, the atmosphere around it, I could feel that there was something more about this town and it definitely set the mood for the rest of the novel.
The characters are very well-developed and they are unique in their own way. It’s impossible not to like them and to truly feel for them. I completely connected with them. It’s impossible not to like Piper: she is perfectly imperfect and that’s refreshing. She struggles with accepting herself but at the same time she’s beautiful, incredibly stubborn, honest and spontaneous. Reading about her burst of happiness and excitement, made me feel excited for her. Her knowledge on people and her gift to detect lies is brilliant to read as well as her connection with Gris. I think they perfectly balance each other out. Gris is an amazing male protagonist: even though he is a gargoyle, he feels deeply and struggles to accept what he is, something he has in common with Piper.. He is head-strong, very loyal and always whiling to help. I absolutely loved the chemistry he has with Piper, they are perfect for one another.
Overall, a great read that I recommend to all the fans of supernatural YA. This is definitely a book that I get my hands on as soon as it comes out!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Entangled Teen, and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
An amazing, memorable read! The Book of Whispers was the winner of the Text Prize 2015.
In the 11th century, in the time of the Crusades, the young Luca de Falconi is anything but ordinary. Born with the ability to see demons, Luca hides who he is and what he can do. When his father joins the Prince on the Crusades, Luca finds his way to the holy pilgrimage, not satisfied on staying behind to take care of their estate. Taking only a secret book written in a cryptic language that his father gave him, Luca embarks on a journey that will reveal secrets, corruption and evil lurking in the shadows. When a mysterious girl named Suzan joins him, he realises that he isn’t alone; Suzan has powers of her own. Together, they have to discover the secrets of the book and stop the unknown plan of demons as the crusaders make their way to Jerusalem to free it from the Saracens.
This novel brings everything together perfectly: romance, adventure, loss, magic, change and history. The descriptions are incredibly written. From the vicious, violent confrontations to the harsh conditions of the Crusades through hot sand, burning sun and lack of water, they served as a reminder that even though we don’t talk about them any more, it was still one of the biggest bloody periods in history. The descriptions of the sights and ancient places are mesmerising and the way Jerusalem is portrayed is breathtaking. It’s definitely a place that I would like to visit for its rich history and architecture.
The plot is complex, fast-paced and clues to understand the book of whispers are revealed in a good pace; not a single moment of boredom from this historical journey. The romance between the two main characters is beautiful and it complements the story-line perfectly. The way I interpreted it was, even in the darkest moments, there is always something good that should be kept and fought for.
An amazing novel that I highly recommend!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Text Publishing, and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 4 Stars
A great, gripping and refreshing debut! I would definitely jump into this world if I could!
The novel takes place in a steampunk world where genies grant wishes in exchange of a person's time. Elizabeth Wicker is a seventeen year-old with a heart condition that lives with her mother and attends school girls of her station. The protocol of this school, however, dictates that she will be sold to a noble family as a maid after she turns eighteen. So, once the time comes, Elizabeth is sold to her bully that is a member of one of the most powerful families in the country. Her nightmare of a life takes a darker turn when her mother is killed by a stranger and she is forced to turn to the time collectors. When she suddenly dies of a heart-attack, she is revived with a mechanical heart. Elizabeth races against time and is taken on a journey that will require a great sacrifice. Will she be able to make it? At what price?
A refreshing and gripping novel right from the very beginning. This was the first novel I read where genies have this kind of power over humans; it’s unique and very well thought. The story-line is pretty solid and it runs on a steady-pace. In the beginning the descriptions of this steampunk universe are great and the characters are all amazing. The third-person perspective allowed me to have a broader sense of the events, which I appreciate. The writing style is addictive and compelling.
Elizabeth is a good main character. She has the insecurities of a teenage-girl but she’s also impulsive and a fighter. A kind-hearted heroine with an innocent side, not afraid to do what she needs to: an admirable character that I could sympathise with. The chemistry with Klaus, the main male character, is nice and smooth. I would like to know more about his past but like this it just adds a very nice spice to the story, the fact that he’s the mysterious type.
A refreshing debut in a unique and unexplored world that I hope to read more about in the near future. I really enjoyed it and I recommend it to any readers looking for something different and new.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Ragnarok Publishing, and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 3 Stars
An apocalyptic scenario with time-travelling and a story of romance: it’s the best way to describe this novel. An enjoyable, quick read.
This is the story of Isabel and Diego, a couple whose relationship could change the nightmare that they call reality. From a nuclear war to a deadly virus wiping out the human race, the world is at the end of the line. The solution: to travel back in time and change their relationship before it began. The race against time begins as Isabel journeys through the past and learns about love, loss and the power of forgiveness. Can she and Diego change the fate of the world?
I would definitely say this is more romance than sci-fi since the story-line is based on a couple and their relationship even if the post-apocalyptic reality is very well thought and developed. Although I’m not a big fan on having the romance running in the front lines, I found myself enjoying the interactions between Isabel and Diego. Their relationship, like them, is very real and human. In general, all the characters are quite likeable and I could relate at least in a point or two with them.
The story-line is well thought and organised and the style of writing pulled me into the story. The different points of view made me loose myself a few times since we see through the eyes of three different characters. The ending made my heart jump and I’m very curious to know the fate of the main characters in the next book.
I recommend this book to fans of romantic stories taking place in dystopian post-apocalyptic scenarios!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Rocky Mountain Press, and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 4 Stars
Another great novel! I’ve read another novel from this author and just like the first one, it was a delight to read.
Thibault's life is running smoothly: he has been accepted into Oxford University and he’s going on a road trip through Europe with his strange uncle Henry. Until life takes a turn that is starting with the introduction of Venus, Thibault’s American cousin with the mind of a poet and a unique character. Right after arriving to London, the young teenager gets more than he bargained for when he gets involved in a plot to bring down capitalism which includes the kidnapping and the blackmail of the CEO of a powerful mining company. Follow the journey of Thibault in his adventure through politics, tax evasion and love.
The style of writing is great and it really pulled me into the story and the characters. The story is seen through Thibault’s eyes and most of it is dialogue, which makes the novel both interactive and easy to follow.
The countries in the novel are also very interesting to read about. What I appreciated the most was the clear connection and reasoning between the story-line and the countries through which the characters travel to. Very well thought and organised. For me, I would have liked to see a bit more description of these wonderful places, but I know that wasn’t the point since the story is more focused on the characters and “the plan”.
Now to my favourite part: the characters. Thibault is a great main character and narrator: he’s a teenager in search of his path in life and in the process stumbles on love. He’s a sweet boy with a passion for art, not afraid to follow his dreams. At the same time he is a bit at loss when it comes to his feelings for Venus and his lack of literary knowledge is hilarious. Even after being pulled into an insane plan to bring down capitalism, Thibault always remains faithful to himself and his decisions. He is genuine and pure at heart even if he is a bit clueless at times. Venus is someone else entirely. As a poet and a writer, Venus is a know-it-all when it comes to literature, authors and their correspondent works. She is a great female lead: a very head-strong woman with an iron determination and fiery passion and I really enjoyed seeing how her relationship with Thibault develops throughout the story. I think they influence each other is the best way possible while realising that life isn’t all black and white and that the path of self-discovering of who they are and who they’re meant to be doesn’t come easy, but it’s worth it.
I recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a good adventure with a bit of comedy, fun and literature references!
Thank you James Leader for sending me a free copy of your novel in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: 2 Stars
This was a peculiar reading, but I will admit that it was a challenge to stay engaged with the plot and the characters. I think the world we live in is already violent enough and to have to read about this amount of physical abuse and verbal attacks is not what I want after a day of work and sad news.
Natalie is a young girl of 16 years that struggles with her role in society and family responsibilities in an unnamed medieval world where men are divided from women. As she works to sustain her family, Natalie hates being a woman and the treatment they are victims of in the hands of men. Things take a radical turn when there is an announcement for a new Quest from the Kings, an adventure that if it ends in victory will bring glory, influence and gold. When Natalie gets on the bad side of a male adventurer and gets violently beaten, she has to flee to another city in search of Sir Edris for protection and help in the Quest.
I really don’t like giving bad reviews, but this one just didn’t cut it for me. Starting with the plot and the setting where the adventure takes place. I was completely at lost about this fantasy reality: there is description of this world, how many countries, continents, cities there are, the distance between them, their political structure. I would have felt the adventure more if I could really feel this new world, and I couldn’t do that with the lack of descriptions.
The writing style was a bit disappointing in a sense. It’s very easy to read and to keep up with the plot and the characters but there’s amiss. Since we’re talking about a story that takes place in medieval times, I was expecting the old English type of language and vocabulary that I’m a big fan of in historical novels. But here, the language is modern, the phrases are the same as we use now-a-days and for me it took the colour out of the story. The violence towards women and the sexism of this reality didn’t work out for me either. I understand that this the universe that the author created, but this is based on a reality. Tough to hear but it does exist. I would just expect a rise up of women power with a powerful character or a demonstration of something that would balance this oppressive environment and that didn’t happen at all. In the end, it just gets worse, and I struggled to keep reading when I only saw the mistreatment and abuse of women.
The characters were also a bit of a disappointment. I couldn’t understand Natalie at all and I honestly didn’t like her as a main character. For me she’s like an over-emotional teenager that always says she hates man and the freedom they have to do what they want without worrying about consequences but then she expects and counts on the guy to have her from trouble. I really couldn’t feel any strength in her at all, not in her personality or influence in the story. I also felt like she doesn’t learn anything from the events taking place around her; she doesn’t grow as a character. All the other characters, like her friends Hadley and Ida, Brago, Sir Edris and Red are not well developed at all, they don’t have depth and I didn’t feel their connection to the story.
I think there is room for improvement, both when it comes to plot details and the character development. Hopefully there will be changes in the next novel.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Diversion Publishing and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
Manga Classics: Sense and Sensibility by Stacy King (Story Adaptation), Po Tse (Art) & Jane Austen (Original Story)
My Rating: 5 Stars
Like all the other great classic adaptations, this one is no exception. Jane Austen is a genius of her time and this manga definitely makes her justice!
The storyline of Sense and Sensibility is widely known. A low-class family of three sisters have their lives turned upside down when their father dies prematurely, leaving his fortune to his next male relative. Their story takes place in the 17th century England, where the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, will learn about love, heartbreak, secrets in a time where appearances, fortune and good matches are key for a positive future.
This manga is simply beautiful. The adaptation is great, keeping not only the main events of the novel but also details that made me reconnect with these beautiful and courageous women. The drawings are also beautifully made. I could definitely feel the chemistry between Elinor and Edward and Marianne and Mr Willougby and Coronal Brandon. I could see the emotions in each character and for me, they were really nicely represented. The details on the dresses, the carriages and the house interiors were amazing to see and it really helped to get into the story.
I have loved every single Manga Classic so far and I’m very excited to see which classic is coming next!
Thank you to Udon Entertainment and NetGalley for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Hope you find an idea for your next reading here.
Disclaim: All the images used serve for illustration purposes only, I don't own them. All the reviews and opinions are my own.