Snapshot Review: VIII by H.M Castor

VIIIThis is a great book to pick up if you’re fan of the infa­mous Tudor king, no mat­ter what your age. VIII tells the story of Henry from a young prince through to his death and Cas­tor really suc­ceeds in bring­ing the prince to life, giv­ing emo­tion and moti­va­tion to her care­fully crafted char­ac­ter, while stay­ing true to his­tory.

There’s a lot to cover in just one book and inevitably some areas of Henry’s life are glossed over slightly, particularly some of his marriages. However, this is a period of history that has already been explored a lot – what’s fresh about VIII is that much of the book is based on Henry’s childhood and earlier years instead. It’s very much about the boy (and later, the man), himself, rather than the women in his life.

There is a hint of the para­nor­mal in VIII but it works well, Cas­tor is ambigu­ous enough to leave it up to the reader to decide whether Henry really was haunted, whether his upbring­ing and reli­gious beliefs led to his visions or whether he was a frag­ile young man, slowly going crazy.

An engag­ing story that I’d highly rec­om­mend for any­one with a love of history.

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Snapshot Review: Arcadia Awakens by Kai Meyer

Arcadia Awakens by Kai MeyerArcadia Awakens, with its unusual plot and rich setting, promised to be a bit more creative than a lot of the paranormal YA circulating at the moment. In the end, however, it didn’t quite work for me.

I found the writing quite clunky. Whether it’s Meyer’s style of writing or a consequence of the translation I don’t know, (Arcadia Awakens was originally written in German), but sentences didn’t flow as well as they could have and the dialogue felt stilted and awkward. I also didn’t feel the characters reacted convincingly to the often bizarre things that were going on around them. And while I love Greek mythology, the whole snake/cat romance just didn’t work for me here. A shame, as I could have really gotten into a Romeo and Juliet type romance with a mafia setting and some shapeshifters thrown in.

*Many thanks to Templar for providing a copy for review*

Book Review: Fins are Forever by Tera Lynn Childs

Fins are Forever by Tera Lynn ChildsI didn’t love the first book in this series, Forgive My Fins, but since I was kindly sent Fins are Forever for review and I remembered quite liking Quince, I thought, what the heck?

On Lily Sanderson’s eighteenth birthday she’ll become just a girl—still a mergirl, true, but signing the renunciation will ink Princess Waterlily of Thalassinia out of existence. That leaves plain old Lily living on land, dating the boy she loves, and trying to master this being-human thing once and for all.

Now that Lily and Quince are together, mer bond or not, she’s almost content to give up her place in the royal succession of Thalassinia. But just when she thinks she has everything figured out, the waves start to get rough. Lily’s father sends a certain whirlpool-stirring cousin to stay with her on land. What did Doe do to get herself exiled from Thalassinia and stuck in terraped form, when everyone knows how much she hates humans? And why why why is she batting her eyelashes at Lily’s former crush, Brody?

The seafoam on the raging surf comes when a merboy from Lily’s past shows up—Tellin asks Lily for something that clouds her view of the horizon. There’s a future with Quince on land, her loyalty to the kingdom in the sea, and Lily tossing on the waves in the middle. Will she find a way to reconcile her love, her duty, and her own dreams?

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m just not a mermaid kind of girl (unless its Splash. I loved that movie, which is probably proof that I would have quite liked this book when I was a kid, despite how I feel about it now). These days however, I find Tera Lynn Child’s narrative too young and simplistic for my reading tastes, a re-occurring issue for me with her books.

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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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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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Book Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

I was left with very mixed feelings about The Diviners by Libba Bray. It took me nearly two months of boredom, frustration and annoyance to get through the first half, and about an afternoon to read the second half. The only reason I persevered was out of stubbornness.

And I’m glad that I did in the end. Somewhere in this gigantic tomb of a book is an interesting story and Bray clearly has a very definite plan for this series. Her writing is evocative and The Diviners is seeped in an eerie atmosphere, not to mention the sheer amount of research that has gone into this book.

It’s 1920s New York City. It’s flappers and Follies, jazz and gin. It’s after the war but before the depression. And for certain group of bright young things its the opportunity to party like never before.

For Evie O’Neill, it’s escape. She’s never fit in in small town Ohio and when she causes yet another scandal, she’s shipped off to stay with an uncle in the big city. But far from being exile, this is exactly what she’s always wanted: the chance to show how thoroughly modern and incredibly daring she can be.

But New York City isn’t about just jazz babies and follies girls. It has a darker side. Young women are being murdered across the city. And these aren’t crimes of passion. They’re gruesome. They’re planned. They bear a strange resemblance to an obscure group of tarot cards. And the New York City police can’t solve them alone.

Evie wasn’t just escaping the stifling life of Ohio, she was running from the knowledge of what she could do. She has a secret. A mysterious power that could help catch the killer – if he doesn’t catch her first.

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Book Review, Interview and Giveaway: Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb

If you’re a historical purist, than Witchstruck may not be the book for you. Lamb has woven together historical figures and events with fictional characters and the supernatural. It’s an unusual combination but one that I really, really enjoyed.

Set in 1554, Witchstruck introduces the story of Meg, servant to the closely guarded Elizabeth, and a practicing witch. It’s not long before a desperate Elizabeth turns to Meg for help, asking her to use her magic to foresee the future. Will she or won’t she be queen?

With growing political unrest, the arrival of a Spanish priest who seems determined to uncover her secrets and a ruthless witch hunter closing in on her, Meg finds herself in increasing danger. It’s not long before her loyalties are tested when she inadvertently becomes mixed up in treasonous plot that could see Elizabeth crowned, or executed, with Meg right alongside her.

I’ve always been drawn to stories about witchcraft, whether they lean towards the supernatural, featuring kick-ass women with actual powers, or focus on a more historical portrayal. Both fascinate me and Witchstruck, to my delight, is a combination of the two. Meg and her Aunt are both witches, a dangerous practice in Tudor England. In order to survive, Meg must hide who she really is, trusting no one, yet she cannot help but find herself drawn to Alejandro, a young priest sent to spy on Elizabeth’s household.

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Book Breakup: Envy by Gregg Olsen

Envy by Gregg Olsen‘Some of this story is completely true. And some of it isn’t. Like truth, evil comes in all sorts of flavors. Some bitter. Some deceptively sweet. Sometimes it comes with a heavy price. Most people don’t invite evil into their lives. The dirty little secret is that an invitation isn’t necessary. Locked doors don’t matter. Neither do fancy security systems. Evil is kind of amazing when you think about it. She knows how to get inside.’

Author’s Note 

My main issue with Envy is that I really didn’t get on with the style of writing. I found it painful to read, awkward, plodding, and melodramatic while attempting to be ominous. Olsen tries very hard to create a strong sense of tension, suspense and mystery by over dramatizing every. little. thing, through repetition, bullet points and italics. Continue reading

Book Review: Firespell by Chloe Neill

Publisher: Indigo

Published: 5th January 2010

Format: Paperback

Pages: 304

Genre: Supernatural, YA

Recommended Reading Age: 16+

Rating: 6/10

Amazon/Goodreads

As the new girl at the elite St. Sophia’s boarding school, Lily Parker thinks her classmates are the most monstrous things she’ll have to face…

When Lily’s guardians decided to send her away to a fancy boarding school in Chicago, she was shocked. So was St. Sophia’s. Lily’s ultra-rich brat pack classmates think Lily should be the punchline to every joke, and on top of that, she’s hearing strange noises and seeing bizarre things in the shadows of the creepy building.

The only thing keeping her sane is her roommate, Scout, but even Scout’s a little weird—she keeps disappearing late at night and won’t tell Lily where she’s been. But when a prank leaves Lily trapped in the catacombs beneath the school, Lily finds Scout running from a real monster.

Firespell is a slow book. Too slow. I quite enjoyed it once the story finally picked up, the problem is, it takes roughly two thirds of the book to get there.  Continue reading