Archive for the ‘9.5’ Category
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay. When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home. But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas’s life. (From Amazon.ca)
This book has everything you want in the paranormal genre. This book was slightly different as it has a male protagonist instead of a female one (that makes up the majority of YA paranormal books) so that was a nice change. Plus, Cas is everything you want in a protagonist. He’s got the personality, he’s got the wit and the humor. He’s like the high school version of the Winchester brothers from Supernatural (except there’s only one of him, and two sidekicks).
The plot of this book is quite dark and has its moments of creepiness but it lightens up whenever Cas puts in a thought or two (his humor really is quite good). The description of Anna’s house and Anna herself are well done, other beings are also included and they’re just as creepy. The paranormal aspect of the novel was also well done. Anna is a ghost with personality, and as you get to know her through Cas, you start to like her as well. I really liked how she was written, despite her being a ghost, she was ‘fleshed out’ and didn’t have a cardboard personality. The other characters in the book are also fun to read, and all are likable. (Of the secondary characters, I liked Cas’ mom.)
I loved the ending of the book and it did catch me by surprise. Which is why I can’t wait to get my hands on the second one. This book was a great read, and nice to see a male protagonist lead, with a well written ghost story to accompany it. Most definitely recommended for YA readers.
9.5 out of 10.
Is the kingdom’s fate in the hands of an orphan cat? Running fast to save his life, Aldwyn ducks into an unusual pet store. Moments later Jack, a young wizard in training, comes in to choose a magical animal to be his familiar. Aldwyn’s always been clever. But magical? Jack thinks so—and Aldwyn is happy to play along.
He just has to convince the other familiars—the know-it-all blue jay Skylar and the friendly tree frog Gilbert—that he’s the powerful cat he claims to be. Then the unthinkable happens. Jack and two other young wizards are captured by the evil queen of Vastia. On a thrilling quest to save their loyals, the familiars face dangerous foes, unearth a shocking centuries-old secret, and discover a destiny that will change Vastia forever. Their magical adventure—an irresistible blend of real heart, edge-of-your-seat action, and laugh-out-loud humor—is an unforgettable celebration of fantasy and friendship. (From Amazon.ca)
I’d have to say this is one of the best Middle Grade novels I have ever read so far. Not only does it provide a very interesting and different point of view (this book focuses on familiars, not the magic users), but the book also provides illustrations – which were well done and nice to look at to provide a good visual picture for the story.
I absolutely loved the plot. From the start of the book you could already tell this was going to be a book filled with adventure and action. This is definitely a book that you won’t stop reading until you are done. The bits of humor also makes this book a great light read (Gilbert happens to be the great comic relief in this book) for readers of all ages (but mostly geared towards younger readers).
I thought it was an interesting and different approach to have the story told through the point of view of the familiars and not the magic casters – which is what is usually seen throughout fantasy books. The magic system is simple and easy to understand but it’s also interesting to see the Familiars themselves also having to cast and deal with magic as well.
I loved the characters in this book! Aldwyn of course, is my particular favorite because of his underdog status and he’s a great character overall. The Familiars themselves are great characters and are fun to read. Gilbert is there for the comic relief, and Skylar – she can be annoying, but she’s also quite intelligent and has her uses throughout the book. What stands out is Aldwyn and his clever ways to attempt to pretend he’s a magical familiar, although this does have serious consequences, you’ll find it only gets better as Aldwyn finds his true talent deep within.
I am definitely going to get the second book of this series. There’s lot of questions that haven’t been answered and there is so much more to look forward to! It’s really not until the final chapters of the book where the real plot was just about to begin. Yes, you were taken on a journey with three Familiars, but that was just a great big introduction to what looks like a very interesting storyline.
This was a wonderful read, geared towards children, yet I think it’s a fun read for adults as well. Filled with lots of action, fun, you’ll find it’s a great read for those that want a light fantasy, with no complicated plot hooks, magic systems, and worlds. It’s a light fast read that will keep you turning the pages, and wanting to look forward to the next book in this series.
I give it a 9.5 out of 10.
The cover grabbed my attention for this one. I LOVE KITTIES!!!!!
Note: I greatly recommend you read The Hollow first before The Haunted.
After a summer spent reclaiming her sanity and trying to forget the boy she fell in love with–the boy who must not exist, cannot exist, because she knows that he is dead–Abbey returns to Sleepy Hollow, ready to leave the ghosts of her past behind. She throws herself into her schoolwork, her perfume-making, and her friendship with Ben, her cute and funny lab partner, who just might be her ticket to getting over Caspian once and for all. But Abbey can never get over Caspian, and Caspian has no choice but to return to her side, for Caspian is a Shade, and Abbey is his destiny. They are tied not only to each other, but also to the town of Sleepy Hollow, and to the famous legend that binds their fates–a legend whose dark truths they are only beginning to guess…. (From Amazon.ca)
*** Possible spoilers ***
Like The Hollow, this is a pretty chunky book and long. Unlike the first book though, I found the pace of this one to be more faster, perhaps because much more happens in this plot. However, although I am glad the plot is quicker and more interesting, I’m also pleased to see her writing has not changed and is still as good as The Hollow. I love the way the story is written. The town is still quaint and descriptions are still done in nice detail. It’s the writing style that really gets me into reading this book further.
What’s another great feature in this book is you get to piece together more about Kristen and the mystery guy she was going out with. There’s also a few additions of characters into the story which adds more mystery into the plot. Vincent stands out the most because not only is he a jerk but he also has a reason why he’s suddenly into the picture. Vincent also delivers a great cliffhanger in the ending which makes me just want to scream for the third book to come out right away! an evil naughty side of me thought Aubra got what she deserved. She’s such a snotty little thing so I had no sympathies for her when she came with the waterworks.
The chemistry between Caspian and Abbey is still there but I feel it has intensified into a whole new level. It’s almost like a heart wrenching romance because they’re so nice together, but yet they can’t physically be together and that just adds more drama to the romance – which I absolutely love. Now that Ben is in the picture, it adds the typical love triangle (sort of) but unlike most of them where I find I like one better than the other, I like both Ben and Caspian. Ben of course, would be the better choice, as he’s physically there.
I am really looking forward to the final installment of this trilogy. I love the writing style, the great character development and chemistry between the main couple, and with the cliffhanger ending it’s hard not to be impatient! Those that had trouble with The Hollow, keep going! this book is much better and worth the read!
I give it 9.5 out of 10.
Note: It’s a good idea to read The Hunchback Assignments first before reading this one.
Transforming his appearance and stealing secret documents from the French is all in a day’s work for fourteen-year-old Modo, a British secret agent. But his latest mission—to uncover the underwater mystery of something called the Ictíneo—seems impossible. There are rumors of a sea monster and a fish as big as a ship. French spies are after it, and Mr. Socrates, Modo’s master, wants to find it first. Modo and his fellow secret agent, Octavia, begin their mission in New York City, then take a steamship across the North Atlantic. During the voyage, Modo uncovers an astounding secret. (From Goodreads).
I enjoyed the first book, and I enjoyed this one even better. This one rather focuses more on Modo and Colette (another spy but for the French) aboard a submarine. The addition of Griff into the story- who makes a perfect creepy villain, also made the book a great read.
What I enjoyed the most out of the story is the underwater city. I absolutely loved that part! the descriptions, the overall feel to it was so rich in description and was easily pictured. It was like reading a description of the lost city of Atlantis. The book has a certain ‘Captain Nemo’ feel to it because of the adventure at sea but the intrigue is what sets it apart and that’s where Griff comes in and provides a spectacular role. He does make a chilling villain despite this book meant for children, I have read nasty villains before, but this one fits perfect for the target age audience.
I thought Colette and Modo made a great team! they worked great together – it’s an interesting contrast to what you see with Octavia and Modo (where they bicker at times – which is cute) but Colette seems to be the more calm, mature type character whereas I see Octavia as a small explosive firecracker (for lack of a better terminology!). I’m actually liking the fact that Octavia does really care about Modo, as she does show how she really feel throughout the book.
I’d have to say, I think the only thing I did not really like is the late entrance of the Clockwork Guild. I thought they were going to be in the book for longer but no, so it was just a little disappointing. I was hoping there would be more of them hanging around (Well, Griff doesn’t really count. Sort of. I was hoping for more of Miss Hakkandottir.)
This was a great follow up to the First Hunchback Assignments. I did recently grab the third one; Empire of Ruins and am hoping it will be just as good! This series has to be one of my favorites of Children’s Fiction.
I give it 9.5 out of 10
An ancient prophecy divides two sisters-
Who will prevail?
Twin sisters Lia and Alice Milthorpe have just become orphans. They have also become enemies. As they discover their roles in a prophecy that has turned generations of sisters against each other, the girls find themselves entangled in a mystery that involves a tattoo-like mark, their parents’ deaths, a boy, a book, and a lifetime of secrets. Lia and Alice don’t know whom they can trust. They just know they can’t trust each other. (From Goodreads).
I have to say, I literally read this book from cover to cover in one sitting. It was that interesting. I loved the eerie creepy sensations you got while reading as Lia discovers more behind Alice’s malicious actions, and the paranormal aspects of the book really enhanced the dark creepy theme that dominates throughout the storyline.
Despite the usual cliche of sister vs sister (with twins to add) I thought the main idea behind the storyline was really good and it does differ somewhat from the usual battle of the sisters plots. What’s also nice to see is the addition of a historical fiction setting – which I personally like as it’s one of my favorite genres to read.
Lia and Alice are great characters and perfect opposites. Alice is just filled with evil that you can’t help but just hate her for her action and behavior. When things come to a climax towards the end of the novel (involving the twins’ brother Henry) I almost wanted to jump in and intercept Alice. I hated her for what she did. She’s just awful overall!
Although Lia might seem like the weaker one of the two, I can only hope she’ll get stronger later in the trilogy as it progresses. She’s got so much on her plate right now I’m hoping she doesn’t crack and become all emotional (like most main characters do in a series) later in the second or third book.
Despite a wonderful story, great characters, and an even paced plot, I can’t help but think there’s some similarities between this book and the Gemma Doyle series (by Libba Bray), but it’s not completely the same. If you’ve read both, then you just can’t help comparing the two. I can’t say yet which one I like better as I just started with this series.
However! if you liked the Gemma Doyle series, do pick this one up. It is worth the read and is a great book. The dark creepy theme and plot, a nicely developed cast of characters, and Alice becoming villain of the year gives the book a lot of substance to go through and will keep you interested until the end (which will make you want to get out and get the second book).
I give it 9.5 out of 10
London, 1838. Sixteen-year-old Liza’s dreams of her society debut are dashed when her parents are killed in an accident. Penniless, she accepts the position of lady’s maid to young Princess Victoria and steps unwittingly into the gossipy intrigue of the servant’s world below-stairs as well as the trickery above. Is it possible that her changing circumstances may offer Liza the chance to determine her own fate, find true love, and secure the throne for her future queen? (From Goodreads)
I absolutely loved this book! I loved the writing, I loved Liza, and all the other characters in this book were just wonderful to read. The plot was really good and the pacing was well done. For those that love intrigue into their historical fiction, you will also find that here. Sir John is certainly the type of villain to make your skin crawl and his plotting with the Duchess gives the plot a good amount of intrigue to enjoy.
Victoria was made to be seen as a spoiled brat, but at the same time she acts this way because she’s lonely and has no one of her age to be with, so her friendship with Liza is somewhat of a Princess/maid relationship, but at times they also put aside their class differences and act like real true friends would.
What I really liked best about this book is that the plot never did slow down, it was a constant steady flow and there was never any stalls or anything done to extend the plot. It got really interesting in the end and made the perfect climax to any story. The author’s note in the end was good and provided good information for further reading.
There was only one criticism, and that was Albert. I didn’t think he was such a surly guy, then again they were younger at the time and he probably did change as he grew older. I was hoping for more of a love story between Victoria and Albert, but it was not to be, they weren’t such a big focus at this time. No matter though, this was just a small setback but nothing that would change my opinion about this book.
I recommend this book for all those in love with the Victorian age! it was a wonderful book to read. Those who like YA books would also love this book as well.
I give it a 9.5 out of 10.
Hannah ha-Levi, a midwife in the Jewish ghetto, is known throughout Venice for her skill in midwifery. When a Christian count appears at Hannah’s door imploring her to attend his labouring wife who is near death, Hannah’s compassion is tested. Not only is it illegal for Jews to render medical treatment to Christians, it’s also punishable by torture … and death. But Hannah cannot turn down the money. With such a handsome sum, she can save her own husband, Isaac, who was captured at sea and taken to Malta as a slave of the Knights of St. John. Aided by her “birthing spoons” — rudimentary forceps she invented to help with difficult births — will Hannah be able to save mother and child? And if she can, will she also be able to save herself? Woven through Hannah’s travails is the story of Isaac’s life as a captive slave in Malta. Fearing that his wife has perished in the plague, he pins his hopes of returning home to Hannah on his talent for writing love letters that melt even the hardest of hearts. (From Goodreads)
I absolutely loved reading this book. It was so beautifully written, the plot was interesting, and the characters were all memorable. Things just seemed to happen one even after another that the book ended up being a page turner and I would definitely recommend this book for those that are going through a ‘reading rut’ at the moment. This is the perfect book to get back on track on your ‘reading roll’.
The descriptions of the city of Venice were wonderful. There were really great contrasts between the setting where Hannah lives (the Jewish area) and the Christian area. It’s not to say that Hannah lives in deep poverty she seems to be living comfortable with just the basic needs. However when compared to the places she goes to outside of the Ghetto area, it’s a vast difference and shows how different these two groups of people live. The persecution and hatred that Hannah and her people have to go through on a daily basis is hard to read, and does make you upset while reading them. However, it is historically accurate, and it’s interesting to note the mentioning of the blood libel, and how crimes committed against Jews were hugely ignored (however if it was vice versa, there would have been an uproar). So throughout the novel, everywhere she turns, Hannah is faced with her ‘Jewishness’. It’s what sets her apart from the rest and it’s painfully obvious; however she deals with it accordingly and puts it all aside, especially while she does her duties as a midwife.
I really did enjoy reading about Hannah a lot. She’s such a strong woman and very determined. She even puts aside her beliefs to doing what she feels is the right thing. She was such a strong character and I really enjoyed reading how despite all the odds against her, and the threats she had to face, she managed to survive and to keep a clear head throughout the novel. Not to mention, she had to make out a living on her own while her husband was taken into slavery, and she manages to survive despite all these overwhelming odds against her. I really did admire her, and I really liked reading about her throughout the book.
Isaac’s story line was good, although I wish there was a little more to it. Then again if there was, then it wouldn’t be really called ‘The Midwife of Venice’ would it? Anyway, it was good enough to read, and an interesting story line for a supporting character. Towards the end of the book, I thought it was just a little too rushed at the end, and everything was done just a little too convenient. However, everything did seem to fall into place and I’m wondering if there is going to be a sequel to this. If there is, count me in because I’ll definitely be picking it up!
This was a beautifully written, wonderful book to read. I most definitely recommend this book to all historical fiction lovers. Roberta Rich is one of to keep an eye on if she continues to write as superb as this book. I absolutely loved this one.
I give it a 9.5 out of 10.
I got this book as part of The Tudor Secret blog tour by Pump Up Your Book. Thanks! it’s greatly appreciated! I’ve read another one of his books previously; The Last Queen. I do have The Confessions of Catherine de Medici on the TBR pile (waiting to be read soon!)
The era of the Tudors was one of danger, intrigue, conspiracy, and, above all, spies. Summer 1553: A time of danger and deceit. Brendan Prescott, an orphan, is reared in the household of the powerful Dudley family. Brought to court, Prescott finds himself sent on an illicit mission to the king’s brilliant but enigmatic sister, Princess Elizabeth. But Brendan is soon compelled to work as a double agent by Elizabeth’s protector, William Cecil, who promises in exchange to help him unravel the secret of his own mysterious past. A dark plot swirls around Elizabeth’s quest to unravel the truth about the ominous disappearance of her seriously ill brother, King Edward VI. With only a bold stable boy and an audacious lady-in-waiting at his side, Brendan plunges into a ruthless gambit of half-truths, lies, and murder. Filled with the intrigue and pageantry of Tudor England, The Tudor Secret is the first book in The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles. (From Amazon.ca)
I have a thing where I love any historical fiction that has a lot of intrigue and mystery. I also love the politics behind the court. I’m fascinated by it. This book has everything you want. Intrigue, mystery, twists and turns, some action, a bit of romance, it’s a mixture of everything! however it’s so well written and well done that it doesn’t feel like it’s been put together sloppily.
The plot flows and the pace is even. What I liked the most is the point of view of the character. Most historical fiction novels take place in the viewpoint of someone who’s Royalty, and almost always it’s a female character. So, seeing the story from Brendan’s eyes is definitely something different and I would say, refreshing. It’s about time we see it from a guy’s point of view! and a ‘nobody’ at that!. I’d have to say I liked him from the start. He’s easily likable and his development throughout the novel was from a young man with an almost childlike naivete to someone who’s well versed in how to behave and act in court, and who’s about to become a double agent (so to speak). I thought the change was very well done. Brendan matured throughout the novel and the transition was smooth.
I’m a huge fan of political intrigue, and this book has a lot of it. I loved the double crossing, the secrets revealed, and the deeds done in the past that are coming back to haunt certain individuals in the book. The Dudleys are as scheming and ruthlessly ambitious as ever (and I still have a strong dislike for Robert Dudley. Always have. Always will). Frances Brandon follows close behind on my hate list. It’s amazing how ambition and greed takes precedence over everything else and brings out the worst in people. It might be a challenge to keep track of all the intrigue however once you get all the characters straightened out, everything does fall into place.
Besides Brendan, I’ve taken a liking to Cecil. Although he’s also a sneaky sly character who uses Brendan, and others to his own purposes and agenda, I like how he underhandedly talks himself out of a tense situation and manages to turn it around. He remains unharmed and still in a powerful position as Elizabeth’s advisor. He’s a very ‘quiet’ character, yet his behind the scenes actions make the plot interesting and makes it move forward with Brendan’s help.
I think it might have helped to have a little family tree chart handy, or at least a list of characters for those that might not be familiar with Tudor history it does get slightly confusing towards the end it takes a bit to straighten out Brendan’s connections and ties with other families. However, those well versed in the history, will have no problem. Other than that, there is no other issue I can think of with this novel.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and as this is the first book in the Spymaster Chronicles, I am waiting for the next one! I loved the intrigue. Absolutely loved it. I definitely recommend this for historical fiction lovers of Tudor history.
I give it a 9.5 out of 10.
It is recommended to read Eighth Grade Bites before jumping into this book to get a better understanding on what’s been going on in the storyline so far.
If middle school stunk for Vladimir Tod, high school is a real drain. Besides being a punching bag for bullies, he’s still stalled with dream girl Meredith, and he’s being tailed by a photographer from the school newspaper. Needless to say, practicing his vampire skills hasn’t exactly been a priority for Vlad — until now. A monumental trip to Siberia with Uncle Otis is Vlad’s crash course in Vampire 101. Training alongside the most gifted vampires is exactly what Vlad needs to sharpen those mind-control skills he’s been avoiding. And he’d better get it right, because the battle brewing back home with the slayer who’s been stalking him could be Vlad’s last. (From Goodreads)
I thought this one was much better than the first. I think because there’s more to the story and plenty of background information provided. Although a little predictable, (especially when it came to who was the vampire slayer in the neighborhood) it was a fun read and interesting to go through.
What I found especially interesting is the slight cracks you see that will eventually come to the surface and quite possibly create problems for Vlad. For example; his friendship with Henry. It’s good, but you notice Henry’s changed a bit. He’s hanging out with the popular kids more and Vlad is just on the sidelines being the observer. I’m not entirely sure if I like this change in Henry. He’s such a great guy and provided the comic relief in the series. If he turns out to be a jerk I’d be sorely disappointed. Let’s not forget the other vampires that are hounding Vlad down, and the vampire slayer that’s out for him. It looks like Vlad is about to have a lot on his plate soon enough. This is what I liked about the story so far. There’s underlying problems which are bound to explode sooner or later and this is what makes me want to continue reading the series until its’ conclusion.
I had to admit I went all mushy with Vlad and Meredith. They do make a cute couple despite Meredith being a “Barbie” (ie; always described with the color pink) which I think is the total exact opposite of what Vlad would like. Then again, I suppose it’s interesting that they both like each other despite their high school “labels”.
I’m definitely looking forward to the next one in this series. The ending got me curious as to what’s in store for Vlad.
I give it a 9.5 out of 10.
On a side note: I’m really wondering what’s up with the pink stuff and Meredith? what in the world is she supposed to be? a Barbie? argh. DEATH TO THE COLOR PINK!!!
Meridian Sozu is different. Very different. She’s a Fenestra, a half human, half angel whose job is to guide people over to the ‘other side’ once they pass on. Since she was a young girl, she’s had animals come to her and die. Meridian has always been surrounded by death. When a large car crash happens outside her home, she is sent to live with her Aunt and a mysterious boy named Tens. Meridian finds out who she is and learns she has to battle the Aternocti a group where they capture souls to cause chaos.
It took me a while to get into this book, however I liked the concept of the plot – which kept me going. I found as I kept reading, the more suspenseful and intriguing it got. I really did enjoy the storyline of a little town gone awry with the help of an over the top zealous religious leader who managed to get a strong grip on the town. It made the perfect background for the development of the story.
My favorite character was Meridian’s Aunt (also named Meridian) she was filled with strength (despite her age) and she was a typical Grandma. She was lovable and everything about her was likable and endearing. Meridian, I noticed started developing personality characteristics like her Aunt, which I enjoyed reading. I didn’t know what to think of her at first. It was more of a take it or leave it attitude towards her, but then she started to grow on me later.
What I also liked about this book is it has a lot to do with spirituality and most of the subject matter is what happens when you die. It goes into detail about it but I’m glad it does’nt add any religious aspect. It stays neutral and its’ explanation of life after death is interesting.
I’d have to say I did enjoy reading the book once the plot caught my attention. It was certainly different from other paranormal books I have read (at the moment) and there’s a lot more I’d like to know. There is a lot of room for a sequel (or a series) so I’m definitely going to be picking this one up for sure.
Overall do pick this one up! it’s certainly a different type of paranormal YA fiction and perfect if you want to take a break from the vampire and werewolf books that are in abundance out there.
I give it a 9.5 out of 10.