Book Breakup: Hidden by Marianne Curley

I’ve been waiting eight years for Marianne Curley to write another book. So I’m kind of gutted that when it finally arrived, I meandered through to 40% before deciding to put it aside.

For as long as Ebony can remember, she’s been sheltered. Confined to her home in a secluded valley, home-schooled by her protective parents, and limited to a small circle of close friends. It’s as if she’s being hidden. But something is changing in Ebony. Something that can’t be concealed. She’s growing more beautiful by the day, she’s freakishly strong, and then there’s the fact that she’s glowing.

On one fateful night, Ebony meets Jordan and she’s intensely drawn to him. It’s as if something explodes inside of her–something that can be seen from the heavens. Ebony still doesn’t know that she’s a stolen angel, but now that the heavens have found her, they want her back.

Marianne Curley was one of my favourite authors growing up. I love Old Magic and her Guardians of Time trilogy and have read them all several times, though not for many years now. I have to wonder if I’d still love them as much if I picked them up for the first time today. Would I have the same trouble with them as I did with Hidden?

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My Favourite Children’s Book Heroine

In honor of World Book Day and International Women’s Day, I thought I’d do a little post on my favourite children’s book heroine.

“My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.”

Who doesn’t love Anne-with-an-e-Shirley? I love her ridiculous way of speaking, her overactive imagination, the utter despair she felt over her red hair, her temper. She never fails to make me laugh and I loved seeing Anne grow up throughout the books and become a mother herself. One of my favourite surprise presents to this day is my dad popping into a bookstore along Whitby after seeing the whole collection in hardback and buying them for me because he knew how much I loved them.

The first book is still my favourite, followed closely by Anne of the Island, where Anne goes off to college (I used to dream of living somewhere like Patty’s Place with friends just like Anne’s).

Favourite moments

Her apology to Rachel Lynde.

Dying her hair green.

Getting Diana drunk.

And of course, breaking a slate over a certain boy’s head.

“I suppose it was a romantic was to perish… for a mouse”

Oh look. It’s Gilbert Blythe.

*cough*

I’ll just leave this here:

OK. So the ‘fishing for trout’ quote is technically in the book but it’s a brilliant scene all the same.

If you love the books and haven’t seen it yet, definitely check out the Megan Follows TV version. Perfection. I remember watching these curled up after dinner on Sunday evenings when I was little. (Don’t bother with number three – it still makes me mad).

And yes, I totally want to visit Prince Edward Island!

Who’s your favourite children’s book heroine?

January and February 2013 Wrap-Up

Wow. It’s been a long, long time since I did a Best of the Bunch post. It’s actually kind of scary how quickly the time has gone by. Anyway. I’ve always enjoyed doing this post (difficult as it can be to select just two noteworthy books), so I wanted to highlight the two top books of 2013 so far. I decided not to include re-reads, as otherwise Melina Marchetta would easily win February!

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Best of the Bunch in January 2013

 

 

Ordinary Magic by Caitlin Rubino-Bradway

I may read a lot of YA, but there’s just something about a MG novel done right that makes me fall in love with reading all over again. Ordinary Magic first came to my attention following a glowing review over at The Book Smugglers. Abby is the kind of heroine I love to read about, brave, compassionate, loyal and completely ordinary in a world where magic is normal. If you’re looking for a a bit of escapism full of magic and adventure, for a book that is charming and warmhearted with endearing characters, then you can’t go far wrong with this.

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Book Review: What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang

I think this will be a short review. The truth is, I cannot think of much to say about What’s Left Of Me. It was the perfect reading choice, as at the time I didn’t want to pick up anything too taxing or read something that I would get too engrossed in. That being said, all these things also made it a rather forgettable read.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

I loved the premise. A parallel world to ours (I’m assuming), where everyone is born with two souls inhabiting one body. Over time, one of these souls becomes the dominant, while the other just fades away. But for Addie and Eva, this hasn’t happened and now they have to pretend that Eva died long ago in a world that despises and fears people like them.

I guess I felt that nothing really seemed to set Addie and Eva apart. They needed more distinct personalities and for me, none of the relationships seemed to have any real depth or emotion behind them.

Ultimately, nothing really grabbed me. Not the characters, or the situation they found themselves in. I didn’t get any sense of danger or urgency at key moments in the book that should have been filled with tension. Zhang had some interesting events going on, but I didn’t feel like anything was really pushed, like it could have been. For example, Addie and Eva are both female souls within a female body. Does it always happen like that? What happens if one of the inhabiting souls identifies differently? Has that ever happened? What about if the two souls are attracted to different genders? Perhaps these kind of questions might be touched upon in later books. Zhang does question how someone like Addie and Eva might have a relationship one day, but it only very briefly comes into conversation right at the end of the book.

What’s Left of Me is like a light, vanilla dystopian, which is fine, but it could have been far more interesting. Despite my yearning for an easy read, sometimes things need to be gritty and messy and complicated. As it stands, I’m not overly fussed about picking up the rest of the Hybrid Chronicles, I feel satisfied having read this one.

Illustrator Spotlight: Kelly Murphy

Hey guys. Welcome to the first Illustrator Spotlight post of 2013! I’ve been contacting lots of artists recently about taking part and was very excited when the talented Kelly Murphy replied saying she was happy to answer some questions about her work! Kelly has illustrated a lot of picture books and book covers, but it was the cover for Behind the Bookcase by Mark Steensland that first caught my eye. For those of you particularly interested in learning about the process behind illustrating a book cover, or thinking about going into illustration yourself, Kelly gives some great advice and insight below, as well as a glimpse at her early sketches for the book.
Looking at your website, you’ve working on a lot of book covers and picture books. What was your favourite project to work on?

It’s difficult to pinpoint which project I have enjoyed the most. Most of the time, projects run several months up to several years. I can say that by the end of every project, there is a real desire to clear the desk and send the art along to it’s next destination. When I start packing it up for shipment, that’s when I start to get a bit nervous and want to keep reworking them. I enjoy projects for what they are: Picturebooks are a chance to really push my color and chapter books are to really celebrate character. Behind the Bookcase was one of my more beloved books to work on because it allowed me to show my darker side. Continue reading

Book Review: A Witch in Love by Ruth Warburton

I was given A Witch in Love for review a long time ago, so I have to apologise to both the author and Hachette for taking so long to get around to reading this.

Anna still finds it hard to believe that Seth loves her and has vowed to suppress her powers, no matter what.

But magic – like love – is uncontrollable. It spills out with terrible consequences, and soon, Anna is being hunted.

*Some spoilers for A Witch in Winter

As the title suggests, there is a bigger focus on romance in this book, and that’s probably why I didn’t enjoy A Witch in Love quite as much as its predecessor. I had hoped the books (and the characters) would move on from Anna’s love spell but we’re left rehashing much of the same stuff and it all gets too melodramatic and angsty for me. Readers rooting for these two will love this book but I was never a fan of Seth and Anna. Seth is far too perfect and consequently dull, while Anna turns rather needy and pathetic whenever it comes to Seth. These two are just way too wrapped up in each other and I don’t feel the chemistry.

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My Top Ten Book Romances

It’s been a while since I participated in a Broke and the Bookish Top Ten posts, but I couldn’t resist this one.

I love a good romance, especially if it’s a slow burner – which is probably why quite a few of my choices are romances that have developed at just the right pace over a series.

Some of the best romances are the ones you don’t see coming – so I urge anyone who hasn’t read one of the books to skip the quotes and simply go pick them up already! All are fantastic reads.

Scorpio Races

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Sean Kendrick and Puck Connolly

“In the middle of all this, as Sean slips out of his jacket, he looks over his shoulder at me and he smiles at me, just a glancing, faint thing before he turns back to Tommy.
I’m quite happy for that smile, because Dad told me once you should be grateful for the gifts that are the rarest.”

If ever there was a subtle, intense romance, it’s this one. This is the book that made me fall in love with Maggie’s writing.

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Book Review: Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

Touch of Power

I’ve yet to read all of Ms Snyder’s work, but I’m starting to wonder if she’ll ever be able to surpass her first novel, Poison Study. Like many of her readers, I can’t help but compare her later fantasy books with her first one. And in the case of Touch of Power, I couldn’t help but feel like I’d read it before. Characters, relationships, the basic storyline, even specific scenes, were all very familiar. Touch of Power is a bit like reading an early version of Poison Study, one that’s nowhere near as well written or developed.

Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan assumes their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Territories, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life…

Touch of Power definitely has an intriguing set up: fifteen kingdoms decimated by a plague. A Healer’s Guild that has been completely destroyed, its Healers hunted down and executed, a school where future leaders are sent to hone their skills in diplomacy and manipulation, magicians, death eating plants (a subplot I still don’t quite understand). What’s disappointing is that we learn little else beyond this. Touch of Power is the first book in a trilogy, so I wish more time had been set aside to allow the reader to actually experience some of these places instead of learning of them through a brief character conversation. The world building in this book is pretty vague and light on detail.

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Book Review: The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp by Eva Rice

 

The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp*Two small spoilers in white*

Eva Rice’s period novels are kind of akin to curling up on a rainy day with hot, buttery crumpets and tea. There’s a warmth and nostalgia to them, like you’re settling in for an hour or two of catching up with old friends.

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets is one of my all-time favourite books, one that I’ve read too many times to count. So when Quercus contacted me and asked if I’d like to review The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp I jumped at the chance. To my delight, the book arrived alongside a handwritten note by the author and a CD featuring the hit release single of the main character, with lyrics written by a certain Inigo Wallace (fans of The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets will be pleased to discover that yes, familiar faces do pop up in this book).

Country girl Tara is whisked off to ’60s London to become a star; there she is dressed, she is shown off at Chelsea parties, photographed by the best. She meets songwriters, singers, designers, and records her song. And she falls in love – with two men. Behind the buzz and excitement of her success, the bitterness between her elder sister Lucy and her friend Matilda haunts Tara. Their past friendship is broken and among the secrets and the strangeness of both their marriages, the past keeps on reappearing.

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Book Review: Charmfall by Chloe Neill

CharmfallA while back I was sent Firespell and Charmfall for review, books one and three of a series. I wasn’t overly impressed by Firespell and unfortunately, the same points I flagged in that review are still present in Charmfall.

High school can be a battlefield, but for Lily Parker, surviving at St. Sophia’s School for Girls is a matter of life and death…

Protecting Chicago from the dark side can be an exhausting job, especially when you’re a junior. So when the girls of St. Sophia’s start gearing up for Sneak, their fall formal, Lily decides to join in on some good, old-fashioned party prep—even if it means not giving demons, vampires and the twisted magic users known as Reapers her undivided attention.

But when a Reaper infiltrates the school, Lily doesn’t forget what she’s sworn to protect. She reaches deep into herself to draw out her magic—and finds that it’s gone. And it turns out she’s not alone. A magical blackout has slammed through paranormal Chicago, and no one knows what—or who—caused it. But Lily knows getting back her magic is worth the risk of going behind enemy lines…

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