Saturday, 3 May 2014

Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

When Theodora Tenpenny spills a bottle of rubbing alcohol on her late grandfather’s painting, she discovers what seems to be an old Renaissance masterpiece underneath. That’s great news for Theo, who’s struggling to hang onto her family’s two-hundred-year-old townhouse and support her unstable mother on her grandfather’s legacy of $463. There’s just one problem: Theo’s grandfather was a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she worries the painting may be stolen.

With the help of some unusual new friends, Theo's search for answers takes her all around Manhattan, and introduces her to a side of the city—and her grandfather—that she never knew. To solve the mystery, she'll have to abandon her hard-won self-reliance and build a community, one serendipitous friendship at a time.

This book was super cute and a really fast paced read. The simplistic writing style made the story really engaging and the main character Theo was endearingly determined and hard-working. Her friend, Bodhi, was hilariously rebellious and outspoken, and I enjoyed how she was spoilt but not a brat and how she gave Theo and her crazy life a chance rather than snubbing her immediately like everyone else.

However for me the biggest highlight of this book was all of the details and information about art; although a middle grade book, there is a lot to learn from this book if you are an art noob like me. If not, then you'll probably enjoy reading about the artwork anyway!

The book turns about half way through from a story on art into Theo's grandfather's life story, which made me lose interest a little, but it was still entertaining. For me, I would have liked it if the focus had been on art the whole way through, but that's just me!

I really liked this book - 3/5 stars!

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins


Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him--and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

I LOVED this book! You will all know how much I loved the Hex Hall trilogy after my gushing review of it last year, so my expectations were extremely high for this book, and they were ALL SURPASSED.

First, one word: HILARIOUS. As always, Rachel Hawkins combines effortless humour with wit and sarcasm in probably every other word that she writes. I'm not joking.

The characters were amazing, especially David. Ahhhh, David. *refrains from inserting heart emoji* So witty and sarcastic and hilarious and yes I just used the same adjectives as in the above paragraph but whenever David comes on to the scene I can't. Simply can't. He may not fit the part of your usual heart throb with his wacky dress sense and awkward social skills, but he's SO CUTE.

Harper was an amazing main character as well - I especially liked how she appears perfect and like she has everything, and yet underneath there are flaws and insecurities that could easily have been left out by the author to make her the ultimate heroine. But they weren't, and I'm glad, because that's what endeared her to me the most!

And now we come to the ending. THAT ENDING. I don't even know what to say. I think it's 3 weeks since I finished the book and I still cry and rejoice simultaneously inside every time I think of it. Much sad, very pain, all of that jazz. I'm so ready for the next one!

5/5 stars. Obvs.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

The extraordinary journey that began in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children continues as Jacob Portman and his newfound friends journey to London the peculiar capital of the world. But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around every corner. Like its predecessor, this second novel in the Peculiar Children series blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reacting experience.

When I read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, I wasn't a fan. For whatever reason, the story just didn't appeal to me, I found the relationship between Jacob and Emma unnecessary and awkward and for me the whole thing just felt...flat.

But THIS book was a whole world away from that story world I remember! I liked how the author plunged straight into the story and picked up from exactly where Miss Peregrine's left off. There was also more development of the characters, and I felt like we got to know them better. New characters were there too, and definitely added a dynamic to the story!

I loved the photographs as usual - I find it amazing how the author can weave a story around them and bring the most bizarre pictures in line with the story. Jacob and Emma's romance felt more natural this time as well, maybe because Jacob's grandfather wasn't mentioned as much or maybe because not as much emphasis was placed on it as in the first book. Either way, it made the book much more enjoyable to read!

The ending was shocking, if a teeny bit predictable. I kind of guessed something along the lines of what was happening, but for some reason that didn't lessen the shock anymore when what had been previously hinted at happened. *tries to be as vague as possible*

The only problem I had with this book was that the plot seemed to lack a little for me around 3/4 of the way through, and I felt like the same thing was happening over and over again. But apart from that, it was pretty much perfect!

Overall, a really good book, and a GREAT sequel! 4/5 stars.

Thank you to Quirk Books for sending me this book for review!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens

The Mystery of Edwin DroodEdwin Drood is contracted to marry Orphan Rosa, but they break the engagement off-and soon afterwards Edwin disappears. Is it murder? And is his jealous uncle-a sinister choirmaster with a double life and designs on Rosa-the killer? Dickens died before completing the story, leaving the mystery unsolved and encouraging successive generations of readers to turn detective. In addition to its tantalizing crime, the novel also offers a characteristically Dickensian mix of the fantastical world of the imagination and a vibrantly journalistic depiction of gritty reality.

I have been trying to read more classics lately and have made a pledge to myself that I will read at least 10 in 2014. This is one that I started at the end of last year and vowed to finish before it died a slow and dusty death on my shelf.

As I often find with Dickens, I started this book with moderate levels of excitement, and managed to get 100 pages in with ease before I began to find it harder and harder to pick up. I think, especially with this book, that it was mainly due to the fact that I knew it was unfinished; there wouldn't be that ultimate sense of satisfaction at the end.

But as to the part of the book that was written, it was amazing; in fact, it was probably one of the best Dickens I've read. The scene was set beautifully as always, and Dickens' humorous descriptions of all of his characters really help to bring them to life tenfold.

The mystery was compelling from the moment that Edwin disappeared; I enjoyed the woes of his relationship with Rosa and the dilemma that she was in with Neville.

As to who I think the murderer is...well, you'll just have to keep guessing.

Overall, a good read. I'm not really sure how to rate an unfinished novel but as for what was there to read, it was very good. 3/5 stars.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and Cassandra Jean - The Graphic Novel

17333322As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow-impossible though it seems-they may still be alive.

The first time I read this book I didn't enjoy it as much as I was expected. However I was always told that it was one of those books that you should read more than once to maximise its full potential. And after reading the graphic novel to recap the story before moving on to Hollow City, I can totally agree with that.

This is a graphic novel edition, so of course I am going to have to talk about the illustrations. They were so beautiful, and I loved how they captured emotions and the story so well. Sometimes I even felt the text was unnecessary as the pictures conveyed such complex levels of the story. I also really liked how the illustrations were mainly black and white, but interchangeably there was splashes of colour, mainly blues and greens, which really captured the night scenes well.

I felt, the second time round, that the story seemed to have a lot more depth than I at first felt - I have a feeling that I rushed through my first reading of it with the intention of finishing it as quickly as possible. The first time I read this, I felt that the romance between Jacob and Emma was rushed and gross; this time, I felt it fit the story perfectly.

So, yes. I'm a convert. You should read it. And you should pick up the graphic novel if you've read the book, just to look at the pretty illustrations. 5/5!

And just a quick note to the publishers over at Quirk Books - thank you for sending me this wonderful book!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Rumours by Anna Godbersen

Rumours (Luxe, #2)After bidding good-bye to New York's brightest star, Elizabeth Holland, rumors continue to fly about her untimely demise.

All eyes are on those closest to the dearly departed: her mischievous sister, Diana, now the family's only hope for redemption; New York's most notorious cad, Henry Schoonmaker, the flame Elizabeth never extinguished; the seductive Penelope Hayes, poised to claim all that her best friend left behind—including Henry; even Elizabeth's scheming former maid, Lina Broud, who discovers that while money matters and breeding counts, gossip is the new currency.

As old friends become rivals, Manhattan's most dazzling socialites find their futures threatened by whispers from the past. In this delicious sequel to The Luxe, nothing is more dangerous than a scandal... or more precious than a secret.

I read The Luxe all the way back in November 2012 and have taken this long to bring myself to read Rumours. Not because I didn't enjoy The Luxe, because I absolutely loved it, but I think because I was too scared to finish the series too quickly. But I am so glad that at last I picked Rumours was AMAZING!

I can't really say exactly what it is that draws me to this book; the plot isn't exactly fast paced and the writing isn't overly descriptive or beautiful, but something about it just made it impossible to refuse picking up.

As I said, the plot isn't exactly fast paced, but in the last 50 pages or so, everything that has been slowly building up throughout the entire book explodes and it's like a whirlwind packed into a tiny cupboard, explosion after explosion. I won't say what happens but I was physically left incapable to speak, so judge from that that it's pretty unexpected.

The romance between Diana and Henry develops and it's beyond adorable and we see Penelope finally get her comeuppance in the first part of the the second, well, that'll just have to change.

I can't even mention Elizabeth because I'll ruin everything with one word if you haven't read the first book, but let's just say that she is still a major part of the book and at certain points, it feels like everything has gone back to normal.

Overall, an amazing book. I loved it so much and now I need to slow down before rushing on to the next one! 5/5 stars.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope

18170047When their father unexpectedly dies, the three Dashwood girls—Elinor, Marianne and Margaret—must face the harsh reality of a life where they no longer have the home or the financial security that they have always taken for granted. As they come to terms with life without the comforts of either their country house or an inheritance, Elinor, a sensible architecture student, and Marianne, a passionate, musical free spirit, are also confronted by a world where their choices are abruptly limited by their new and alarming circumstances.I was really looking forward to reading this book as I love modern retellings of old classics, and I wasn't disappointed.

I enjoyed how this book threw you into the story straight away; there was no hesitancy or slow start, which made it immediately gripping. I also found it very easy to read, which made it quick to get through.

The characters, I also loved, especially Elinor, who I could relate to in pretty much every aspect. This book explores the differences between sisters that are so great you would hardly think to call the separate characters sisters, and yet I find that there are differences as large between myself and my own sisters; it was realistic, and I enjoyed that very much.

The only problem I had with this story was how quickly Elinor and Edward seemed to move from acquaintances to being deeply in love with each other; I found myself returning to the same place in the  book to see that I hadn't accidentally missed anything. Their relationship wasn't developed enough for me, and I found it hard to feel empathy for Elinor pining for a person who seemed to drop in and out of the story when he felt like it.

Overall, a great retelling with a modern twist. 4/5 stars.