So if you read my wrap-up, here’s all the books I reviewed this month.
- Iris by Toni Owen Blue **** – Before I get into my review about the story I want to start by saying that the artwork in this novel are absolutely stunning. I believe the pictures add a lot to the story and help you get a more physical and emotional sense of the novel. Also this novel is very short at only 85 pages. Although meant for middle grade children, I’d advise caution when allowing children to read Iris as it contains some themes about the age rating of the novel. Iris is a novel which is centered on the heavy topic of child neglect and abuse. This book, at first, seems to be the straight forward story of a young girl who feels different, with an overly strict mother, no friends and wild fantasies, however it is so much more than that.
2. Tooth Goblins by Ash Toroid **** – The opening chapter of this novel is surprisingly dark. Ellie watches her older brother Duncan kidnapped and replaced after a joke her parents made about him turning into a teenager. We also learn of magic, fairy and “little men” presumably goblins are real and travel travel to and exist in our world. Ellie learns that all children on the 13th birthday are replaced by clones although this has only been happening for the past 20 years so Ellie’s parents and other adults are presumably unaffected. The change between human and clone produces now side effects other than moodiness and laziness as they have been raised by goblins. This results in the teenage ideal we all know. There is a great use of suspense and paranoia as Ellie doesn’t know who is or isn’t a clone. And after she befriends Ryak a tooth fairy after he finds out she is in possession of Merlin’s wand he agrees to take her to the Ivory Realm; where the goblins live to try and rescue her brother.
3. The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare **** – After reading The Iron
Trial I was really excited to get stuck into The Copper Gauntlet. Having read several books by both authors previously I was curious to read some of their younger YA novels and with the 3rd book being released soon I had to catch up on the series quickly. The opening pages to this novel are nothing short of explosive and it all happens outside the Magisterium while Call is home on summer breaks. The novel begins with Call finding out his father’s true plans for him and Havoc, and them running away to Tamara’s – a safe heaven between his father and the school, somewhere where he can just be Call.
4. The Blackbird Singularity by Matt Wilven ***** – The first thing that really caught my eye about this book was that it wasn’t separated into parts but into trimesters. The first chapter of this book was amazing. It was chillingly gripping with the death of a child, drugs, depression and the dread/joy of a new baby on the way and how those devastated by death can bring a new life into the shadowed world. I feel very sorry for Vince as he dealing with lithium withdrawal, his son’s death, a new baby and most of all there seems to be no intimacy between him and Lyd. Most of her family are under the impression now she is pregnant again she is stuck with him, when we know he is trying his best to become the best dad, best man he can be before the baby arrives. Although he is deceiving his wife by now taking lithium for his mania which was a strict condition she set in place for taking him back after Charlie’s death, I still feel he has a good heart after all the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
5. Half Wild by Sally Green *** – After finally meeting his elusive father, Marcus, and receiving the three gifts that confirm him as a full adult witch, Nathan is still on the run. He needs to find his friend Gabriel and rescue Annalise, now a prisoner of the powerful Black witch Mercury. Most of all he needs to learn how to control his Gift – a strange, wild new power that threatens to overwhelm him. Meanwhile, Soul O’Brien has seized control of the Council of White Witches and is expanding his war against Black witches into Europe. In response, an unprecedented alliance has formed between Black and White witches determined to resist him. Drawn into the rebellion by the enigmatic Black witch Van Dal, Nathan finds himself fighting alongside both old friends and old enemies. But can all the rebels be trusted, or is Nathan walking into a trap?
6. Splintered by A. G. Howard ***** – The opening chapter of A. G. Howard’s Splintered was divine. It was dark, enticing and so fun, and it also an retelling or re-imagining of Alice in Wonderland. I love retellings as they are my favourite genre and make me think of my favourite childhood stories in a completely different light. From the first page I quickly began invested in the characters and wanted to know more about their relationships, histories and individual stories. I loved Alyssa and how she struggles to cope from the first page and she seeks the answers to her mothers’ madness and possibly her own, but what kind of madness? What causes it? Why does it only affect women in the family? So many questions and so little pages to find all the answers. Another thing I wanted to point out is the cover is divine, as well as the others in this series, but Splintered’s cover is dark and eerie hinting at the story inside which still being bright and inviting. At first you only notice the butterflies/moths and ladybugs – which we would consider harmless – its only when you look closer you see the spiders; a darker animal completely intertwined and twisted within our protagonist’s image.
7. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling ***** – The much-awaited Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was released three days ago and all those who solemnly swore by the ‘Boy who Lived’ till now have a chance to relive the magic. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is definitely the eighth book in the Harry Potter series, picking up from where we left – nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts. This book, written by John Tiffany and Jack Thorne is based on a story written by our queen, JK Rowling. Released as a special rehearsal edition script, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is divided into two parts and is spread across four acts and various scenes. As is common knowledge for the Potter fandom, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child traces the tumultuous relationship between Harry Potter, a thirty-seven-year-old ‘overworked Ministry of Magic employee’, and his son Albus Severus Potter, who has to carry the weight of unwanted popularity and history that comes attached to his last name.
8. Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma ***** – Lochan Whitely (17) and Maya Whitely (16) were very close since they were young. They became more like friends than siblings. After their father abandons the family and ran off with another woman five years ago, their mother turned to the bottle and neglected her children. Slowly, Lochan and Maya became de facto parents of their younger siblings Kit (13), Tiffin (8), and Willa (5). Lochan, who is crippling shy and has high social anxiety. Even though his teacher Miss Azley tries to encourage him to talk or read one of his brilliant papers he still refuses to talk in class. The only people he ever felt comfortable with was his family. Maya, has an easy going personality and doesn’t have as high social anxiety as her brother. One of her closest friends, Francie talks to her how cute Lochan is and wants to get to know him better and Maya should go on a date with the other hottest guy at school Nico Dimarco. Maya says that she will think about it but has to go and pick up Tiffin and Willa.
9. Looking for Alaska by John Green **** – John Green is absolutely brilliant. I can’t believe I waited this long to read this novel. In the span of 221 pages John Green took me from happiness to sadness to peace. Some themes covered in Looking for Alaska are friendship, love, loss, the afterlife, guilt and denial. The book starts out with Miles Halter moving to a boarding school in Alabama where he meets his roommate Chip (The Colonel) and ever so mysterious, beautiful Alaska Young. Miles is nicknamed Pudge and the story takes off from there. The character development in Looking for Alaska was amazing. I felt so deeply connected to these characters which is why this book was so incredibly heart wrenching. Miles (Pudge) was slightly awkward, innocent boy from Florida who by his friends standards had a normal life with two parents. Then there is The Colonel who has a mom that lives in poverty and Alaska who says she is homeless. Pudge had no idea what he was walking into when he came to The Creek, but it was an adventure he will never forget.
10. White Cat by Holly Black **** – I loved this book. There I’ve said it. Oh wait, I suppose you want more of a review. All right I really, really loved this book! The world that Holly Black has created is utterly believable because it is our world with just one difference. In this world curse-work is real but outlawed. Everyone has to wear gloves to prevent touching their fingers to another’s skin because that’s how a curse is placed. The way curse-work fits into our world and its history has been so well thought out. I especially enjoyed the mention of how curse-workers are treated in other countries and through out history. Holly Black gives her characters a spacious, realistic background to play in and that makes it easier for the reader to sink right in and take their place alongside them. You can follow Cassel Sharpe easily through this world because it feels so familiar and natural. It’s our world with just a little twist.
11. Mystra by Crystalphoenix ***** – The opening pages to Mystra were amazing. They had just the right amount of mystery, suspense and instantly caught the attention of the reader. Certain aspects gathered from the blurb reminded me of my favourite series of all time; These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner which is an amazing things. For the offset I loved the setting, a mysterious planet and space. I loved books set in space or that have interstellar travel and it is one of my favourite sub-genres of YA. The rest of the opening chapter left me in awe. It extremely informative without being boring, scientific without being confusing and yet remains exciting within a strong robust structure. The way each chapter is divided into a log of sorts being labelled 2605 (the year) and Day 111 is great because it always for ten times the amount of action without the book being rushed as there is a break up of time. We immediately love Jasen as a character, he is smart, witty and the way I picture him in my head has added him to my list of fictional boyfriends.
12. Asylum by Madeleine Roux **** – Madeleine Roux’s Asylum is the story of three teens who attend a prep-school in New Hampshire, and discover some strange happenings in the abandoned mental institution on campus. The former mental institution, Brookline, is temporarily serving as the students’ living quarters because the dorms are under renovation. The main character is Dan Crawford who meets soon-to-be best friends Abby and Jordan at the school. One night Dan’s room mate, Felix, decides to go exploring the abandoned mental institution and discovers some odd photographs in the basement, which is supposed to be off-limits. Felix tells Dan about this and, naturally, Dan, Abby, and Jordan go take a look for themselves. Once in the basement they find artefacts and pictures of patients who attended Brookline and the horrible treatments and experiments they underwent. Upon venturing further into the bowels of Brookline, the trio finds patients’ rooms, operation rooms, and vulgar tools to preform god-knows-what kind of procedures. Roux describes these tools in detail which is good for imagery, but doesn’t really give any background to what they were used for.
13. The Six Principles of Enlightenment and Meaning of life by Russell Anthony Gibbs **** – I want to start by saying because this book is non-fiction it will be slightly longer than my normal review. Now I don’t normally read non-fiction unless its a topic that really peaks my interest and having studied AS level Religious Studies the concept of this book was extremely appealing to me, as one of the aspects of Buddhism as a religion is the concept and achievement of enlightenment. I liked the fact that science and religion play key roles in this book despite the fact religion and science have opposed each other for centuries. In the first chapter; What is Enlightenment? Gibbs explains what enlightenment is, although there are many different interpretations; “enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity” or “…awakening or understanding which leads to a cessation of all suffering”. Despite the different interpretations of what enlightenment is the goal is the same “to achieve the state of perfect happiness and peace”.
14. The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski **** – Well I heard a lot of mixed things about this book on booktube and only several bloggers sites but I still went out and got a copy of the Winner’s Curse from the library and love it even though I had a few issues with it. I immediately fell into the world, reading the majority of the book in one sitting. It really grabs you, the writing flows easily but is descriptive and pretty without being tedious or boring. Speaking of the world, it’s pretty basic. We are told about two cultures that are described but not super fleshed out. Kestrel gets some history lessons that are obviously for the reader’s benefit but I still wished it had been developed further, especially as this is a fantasy. Still, I have to admit I was never bored with the story.
15. Kazungul Blood Ties: the awakening of the ancestral curse by Marcus L. Lukusa **** – So the first thing that drew me into Kazungul Book 1 was the absolutely stunning cover. It creepy with the demon wolf thing with wings and the E.T. Looking guy but for some reason to me it feels quite biblical in a sense. If I saw this in a book store I would be drawn to it and would probably buy it for the cover alone. The opening chapter of this book reminded me more of a play than a novel with a narrator setting the scene for the story to come and also provided a little bit of backstory to the forthcoming story. I was intrigued the idea of an angelic war and a half angel, half demon (if that what you can call it) child coming to earth to find peace but instead breeding a race of beings that feed on blood quite similar to vampire but not vampires. This chapter really succeeded in drawing me in as a reader, and the writing style and prose really provoked the analytical side of my mind.
16. The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon *** – The ‘death of print’ threatens to become reality when a word flu makes it impossible for most people to communicate. Anana Johnson has what she considers to be her dream job: working with her father Doug at the North American Dictionary of the English Language. In an era when nearly everyone communicates via a digital device called a meme, producing a dictionary is the ultimate old-school occupation. When her father mysteriously disappears, Anana begins to uncover a plot that might threaten to change society forever. Synchronic, the company who makes the meme, is unveiling Nautilus, a wearable communication device. One of the ways they make money is by charging for information and they’re be been buying reference companies. Banana will soon be out of a job, but that’s not the biggest problem. Her ex-boyfriend Max now works for Synchronic and he seems to be at the heart of something serious.
17. Amber Sky by Amy Braun ***** – This novella is the prequel to the Dark Sky series; Crimson Sky and Midnight Sky. I have read and reviewed books 1 & 2 and really enjoyed them and couldn’t wait to see what Amy Braun had in store for us next. In this review I will try to keep spoilers out from books 1 & 2 of the series for those of you that haven’t read it yet. The opening of the story starts with a fight in which Nash is involved. Nash was one of the my favorite characters from the Dark Sky series as his personality and attitude were amazing without being cheesy or cliché. I loved seeing how Nash regrets having to win the fight and feels ashamed about what he has been made to do by his Captain.
18. Messenger by Lois Lowry **** – Matty discovers his gift to heal at a time when his friends and neighbors of his Village have been losing themselves to vicious exchanges with a mysterious trader, and when he goes in search of his guardian’s daughter before the Village is shut off to strangers, he discovers his gift can save them all. Matty lives in the same Village where Jonas (from Lowry’s The Giver, though he is simply called Leader in this book) arrived some 6 years earlier on his red sled; little Gabe has grown to be eight years old, and Jonas is very their young but upright and inspiring leader. Matty lives with an old blind man known as the Seer – somewhat of an adopted father to him. He helps at home, and goes to school with the other children under the tutelege of Mentor, their wonderful, undertanding schoolteacher. He also begins to admire Mentor’s beautiful young daughter, Jean, and becomes closer to her throughout his adventures.
19. Requiem by Lauren Oliver ***** – The uncureds living in the wilds are amassing in numbers and strength and plan to overthrow the gated communities of cureds to free the people from the discrimination and oppression against love. Lena is a member of a resistance group living in the wilds outside of the protected, gated communities she used to live in. In this dystopian story, Love is considered a disease that causes instability, irrationality and chaos. When young people reach a certain age, they undergo surgery to eliminate “love” from their brain – becoming “cured”. In the first book of the series, Lena falls in love with Alex and escapes from the gated community of Portland surgery-free (“uncured”) but believes Alex was killed during the escape. In the second book, she joins the resistance in the wilds and falls in love with/convinces the son of the founder of the disease-eliminating surgery, Julian, to understand why love is so important and to run away with her into the wilds.
20. Isle of the Lost by Melissa De La Cruz ***** – For all you Disney fans out there, this book is perfect for you. I have grown up watching so many Disney movies and have always wondered what happens to the villains after the happily ever after. The Isle of the Lost written by Melissa de la Cruz brings you on that journey to discover what happens to those iconic villains. The book starts off strong and immediately exposes you to the hierarchy in the land. Mal, who is Maleficent’s child, is excluded from Evie’s birthday party. This puts Evie, and her mother, the Evil Queen, into exclusion from the rest of the villains. You never want to be caught on the wrong side of Maleficent and Evie and her mother learned the hard way. Though all who are banished from the kingdom of Auradon are evil villains, fear still plays a huge presence, even more so after Evie’s birthday party. Maleficent acts as the sort of ruler of these parts and all who roam the land fear her and her daughter too.
21. Son by Lois Lowry ***** – Claire, a birth-mother in the dystopian world of the Giver,
forms an attachment to her son that her society never intended for her to have, and which leads her to embark on a quest of over ten years to find him. Claire is chosen at the age of twelve to become a birth-mother. It is not particularly a surprise; most people’s career assignment fits what they have become during their first twelve years of life. She goes to live with the other birth-mothers and receives training. She is told that giving birth doesn’t hurt, and reassured that everything will go well. After a short medical operation, she becomes pregnant with the first of three children she will supposedly bear for her community.
22. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss **** – When friends hand me books to read, I am always suspicious of whether the books will be any good. Maybe it is my own great arrogance but I just figure that – unless they are of a special few – I am the better judge of books. Thankfully this theory has been proven wrong many a time. The book is called The Name of the Wind, and it is written by a newish author to me, Patrick Rothfuss. This also had me a little worried, as I am becoming more and more wary of new authors. But my fears were groundless. More than groundless, they could even be called vaguely offensive to Rothfuss who proved himself in his first mass market literary outing to be nothing short of a genius. The Name of the Wind, Day One of the Kingkiller Chronicles, quickly made its way into my top fantasy series list. The book, which is essentially an autobiography of a once famous now reclusive musician, arcanist and adventurer named Kvothe, is revolutionary – to my eyes at least – in its storytelling method. Autobiographical for the most part, it starts, finishes, and occasionally reverts to a narrative telling of the interview from whence the autobiographical information springs.
23. Forgotten by Cat Patrick **** – London Lane isn’t a normal girl. She experiences something unusual every night when she falls asleep. She forgets the day before as if her memory has been completely erased. In order to “survive” she writes her self-notes about the previous day, like what she wore, what she has for homework, what happened at school, etc. Complications in her plan arise when she meets and connects with a new student, Luke, and she starts experiences flash-forwards in addition to flashbacks about various events. Cat Patrick’s debut novel, Forgotten, is extremely unique and entertaining; I thoroughly enjoyed it. London’s situation is as unique as I stated previously. I was captivated by the concept. What if we forgot what we did yesterday? Who we talked to? What happened? That is definitely a trying situation, but what if we wanted to forget certain events or if certain people wanted us to forget certain events? It’s an interesting question and London explores this very topic in Forgotten. She has to piece together events from the future in addition to the memories she’s experiencing from her past, especially about an important event that occurred to her family many years ago.