Brief blogs for busy bees

Tag: book review

Blog tour: Before I Find You by Ali Knight

Blog tour: Before I Find You by Ali Knight

Hello there, and welcome to my stop on the Before I Find You blog tour. Sorry for the radio silence over the past couple of weeks: we’ve moved home and trying to get WiFi installed has been a nightmare, so it’s been a blogless fortnight for me. […]

Blogtober Day 17: Review: Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon

Blogtober Day 17: Review: Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon

Rosie Loves Jack begins with a newspaper article detailing the story of a teenager with Down’s syndrome who has gone missing after running away from home to be reunited with her boyfriend. When we join Rose, it’s before she embarks on her cross-country adventure to Jack, […]

Blogtober Day 15: Review: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

Blogtober Day 15: Review: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

‘In the end, I guess Mom was right.
I have one foot in winter and one in spring.
One foot with the living, and one with the dead.’

Cassidy Blake has a pretty interesting life, but it’s not for the reasons you’d expect. Daughter of The Inspectres – a ghost-hunting team who combine storytelling with historical facts in an unsurprisingly popular blend – you might think that her famous parents (and their upcoming TV show) are the most fascinating things about Cass, but she has a secret.

Cassidy Blake can talk to ghosts.

Well, one ghost in particular: Jacob, the dead boy who saved her life by pulling her out of a river when she almost drowned. Ever since that day Cass has been able to talk to Jacob, and he’s been able to talk to her as well (although he hasn’t been able to touch her since). She’s also been able to step through the Veil, where she can see other ghosts reliving their deaths over, and over, and over again.

It isn’t until she gets to Edinburgh, where her parents are filming the first episode of The Inspectres, that she realises that there might be more to her gift than she first thought. Cass discovers that she might have a purpose: it might be her responsibility to make sure that ghosts are able to pass to the other side.

I didn’t realise that this was a middle-grade novel until I was about halfway through, because the language used feels mature. A young audience will understand every word – and the ones that might be confusing are subtly explained – but the magical way that Victoria Schwab puts words into sentences makes it feel like it’s aimed at an older audience.

A girl who can talk to ghosts isn’t the most unique concept, but because it’s been done before it’s all the more impressive that Schwab has a twist for her tale. Her descriptions of the Veil are haunting, and I had chills due to the intense descriptions of some of the scarier ghosts. If I’d been any younger when I’d read this it would have given me nightmares!

As an introduction to the series, City of Ghosts does everything you can ask it to. It introduces the characters well and poses questions about them that you can’t resist wanting the answers for. I’m excited for the next book in the Cassidy Blake series, and I’m looking forward to seeing where The Inspectres end up next. I hope it’s somewhere that matters as much to Schwab as Edinburgh does, because you can feel how much she cares about crafting honest descriptions of the location.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about City of Ghosts, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!

 

Alyce

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Blogtober Day 14: Review: You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

Blogtober Day 14: Review: You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

I don’t know why I keep picking up Megan Abbott’s novels, because they never impress me as much as I hope they will. I’ve already read The End of Everything and The Fever, and although I enjoyed Abbott’s writing style throughout both novels, I’ve constantly struggled with her […]

Blogtober Day 13: Review: The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill

Blogtober Day 13: Review: The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill

“Why would they be afraid of us? We have no powers.” “Of course we don’t,” she says, looking away from me. “But the humans do not understand that. They fear that their men will be overcome with madness and dive into the depths of the […]

Blogtober Day 12: Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Blogtober Day 12: Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

‘You can plot a course that will get you to your destination, but you can’t predict what you’ll find along the way.’ 

Zorie has a plan for the summer, and it involves staying as far away from the Mackenzie family as physically possible. But when some of her mum’s mail is incorrectly delivered to their address, she’s the one that has to go and pick it up. In the process she finds herself face-to-face with her ex-best friend Lennon – the boy who broke her heart last year by ditching her at homecoming with no explanation – and discovers that her dad is having an affair. Awkward…

With no idea what to do with this information, Zorie accepts an invitation to go on a glamping trip. Little does she know that Lennon is also invited – double awkward!

After an explosive argument breaks out amongst the campers, the two of them are abandoned in the middle of nowhere. They find themselves with no choice but to hike back to civilisation, and on the way they begin to fix their fractured friendship, but what will happen when they get back to reality?

It was impossible to choose a word other than ‘perfect’ to describe Starry Eyes, as this is one of the best contemporaries I’ve ever read. Not only was the romance between Zorie and Lennon a slow burn, enemies to lovers situation (one of my favourite YA tropes), the entire cast of characters was very well crafted. Both Zorie and  Lennon’s parents were realistic, bringing their own personalities and issues to the story, and it made things far more interesting.

The setting was gorgeous, the hiking was described well and it was both entertaining and educational: I never knew that you needed to store food in a special container to stop bears from being attracted to it!

I don’t have the words to say how much I loved Starry Eyes. I laughed, I cried, and I cheered Zorie and Lennon on more and more with every page: it’s impossible not to ship them by the end of the story. I’ve seen a lot of rave reviews for Jenn Bennett’s other novels, and I won’t be surprised if I enjoy them as much as I did Starry Eyes. She has a brilliant writing style and a skill for crafting lifelike characters who really step off of the page, feeling remarkably real.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about Starry Eyes, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!

 

Have you read any of Jenn Bennett’s novels? I’m looking forward to reading Alex, Approximately – I’ve heard so many good things about it.

Alyce

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Blogtober Day 10: Blog tour: Jackson Saves an Owl by Darren Garwood and Carl Osborne

Blogtober Day 10: Blog tour: Jackson Saves an Owl by Darren Garwood and Carl Osborne

Hi there! Welcome to my stop on the Jackson Saves an Owl blog tour. I’d like to say a big thank you to Faye Rogers, for allowing me to get involved in the blog tour for this charming picture book. Zophia loves owls, so as soon as […]

Blogtober Day 7: Review: The Case of the Missing Treasure by Robin Stevens

Blogtober Day 7: Review: The Case of the Missing Treasure by Robin Stevens

Back at the start of summer Robin Stevens released a short story narrated by Daisy Wells, in which the Detective Society and the Junior Pinkertons team up to investigate a string of museum robberies. I bought it the day it was released, but I decided […]

Blogtober Day 6: Review: The Invasion by Peadar O’Guilin

Blogtober Day 6: Review: The Invasion by Peadar O’Guilin

Continuing the events from The Call, you might expect The Invasion to be brighter than it’s predecessor, but that is not the case. While it seemed that things were looking up for Anto and Nessa, they’re torn away from each other and plunged back into the world of the Sidhe and the Grey Lands, and this time it there’s even less chance of escape.

In case you don’t remember, I disliked The Call. The only reason I decided to pick up this sequel was because I thought there was potential in the world (that and I really hate leaving things unfinished) and I’m happy to be able to say that I enjoyed The Invasion more than the first book in the Grey Lands series. I decided to give it four stars, because it was a vast improvement upon The Call – which I rated three stars – although I still feel as though the characters were underdeveloped.

There’s a lot of death and destruction caused by the Sidhe, and this would have more of an impact if the characters were three-dimensional, but they’re just there to bulk up the cast and build a high death toll. This was proven by an error in the copy I read (which was a finished copy, not an ARC) in which one of the background characters was killed… And then appeared in a scene a few pages later. If the character was fully-fleshed out and contributed anything to the story, a mistake like this wouldn’t have made it through the copyediting process.

Overall, the Grey Lands series is creepy, and I’m pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed it more after having read the second book despite the fact that The Call feels like a standalone. There’s not much to say about it, because it is rather bland (despite the monstrous Sidhe creations and stream of ceaseless death), but I still found it capturing my imagination and I will be thinking about The Call and The Invasion for a long time to come.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about The Invasion, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!

 

I know I didn’t have much to say about The Invasion, but if you’ve read the Grey Lands duology, what were your thoughts on the second installment?

Alyce

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Blogtober Day 5: Review: If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say by Leila Sales

Blogtober Day 5: Review: If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say by Leila Sales

When Spelling Bee champion Winter Halperin tweets an ill-advised joke about the skin colour of the latest winner, she finds herself the most hated person on the Internet… For a little while. But while the rest of the world are infuriated for a couple of […]