Thursday, August 28, 2014

Review: The Case of the Stolen Sixpence by Holly Webb, Marion Lindsay

Book: The Case of the Stolen Sixpence by Holly Webb, Marion Lindsay
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 176
Genre/s: Middle Grade, Mystery
Source: Publisher via Netgalley

When George, the butcher's boy, is fired for stealing coins from the till, Maisie knows in her heart he is innocent. With her little dog Eddie as the Watson to her Sherlock Holmes, Maisie uses her budding detective skills to solve the mystery of the stolen sixpence, vindicate her old friend, and even help a new friend in need. The first book in a series! - (source)

I've been meaning to read a book in which I could simply lose myself, and The Case of the Stolen Sixpence came at just the right time. Who would've thought that this observant girl who sweep floors in her Granny's apartment and hates shopping (unless it's an excuse for sleuthing) would whisked me straight to Victorian London?

The huge grin on my face didn't vanish at all from the moment I started reading until I turned the last page. It's like I've tapped into a whimsical story I could see myself enjoying back when I was younger and even now. The illustrations added to the book's engrossment factor and it would surely entice even those kids who are reluctant to open a book.

Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

Maisie is very good at spotting things. But having detecting skills are not enough, you need cases to solve and maybe a detective paraphernalia or two to look the part. Can you see the dilemma our aspiring detective is in?

Needless to say, Maisie is a charming character and she has moxie others can only dream of having. As a curious kid, she and Nancy Drew might just become great pals and even Sherlock Holmes would find her greatly amusing. Maisie is a joy to read and her faithful dog assistant is just as cute.

The Case of the Stolen Sixpence is a Middle Grade mystery novel that will tickle the imagination of young ones as well as those who are still in touch with their youthful spirit. It's a delightful, quick read filled with adorable characters I'd surely love to get to know more in future installments.

Cupid's Verdict:
 photo 4cupidsa_zps3b2346ee.png
4 Cupids
A copy was provided by the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (21): Winterkill

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating. 

Book: Winterkill by Kate A. Boorman
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
Publisher: Amulet Books

Emmeline knows she’s not supposed to explore the woods outside her settlement. The enemy that wiped out half her people lurks there, attacking at night and keeping them isolated in an unfamiliar land with merciless winters. Living with the shame of her grandmother’s insubordination, Emmeline has learned to keep her head down and her quick tongue silent.

When the settlement leader asks for her hand in marriage, it’s an opportunity for Emmeline to wash the family slate clean—even if she has eyes for another. But before she’s forced into an impossible decision, her dreams urge her into the woods, where she uncovers a path she can’t help but follow. The trail leads to a secret that someone in the village will kill to protect. Her grandmother followed the same path and paid the price. If Emmeline isn’t careful, she will be next.
- (source)

What is the secret? What did Emmeline grandmother paid the price for? Oh, the suspense. I already love this book. Let's just hope there's no love triangle or instalove. 

So what books are you waiting on?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Review: Words and their Meanings by Kate Bassett

Read (August 20-21, 2014)
Book: Words and their Meanings by Kate Bassett
Publication Date: September 8, 2014
Publisher: Flux
Number of Pages: 360
Genre/s: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Source: Publisher

Anna O’Mally doesn’t believe in the five stages of grief. Her way of dealing with death equates to daily bouts of coffin yoga and fake-tattooing Patti Smith quotes onto her arms. Once a talented writer, Anna no longer believes words matter, until shocking discoveries–in the form of origami cranes–force her to redefine family and love.

As Anna goes in search of the truth, she discovers that while every story, every human being, has a last line, it might still be possible to find the words for a new beginning.
- (source)

“It's only been a year and some change since Joe. And now, here I am again, waiting, trying to stop hoping. And drowning in what I could have done to save someone I love. ”
Words and their Meanings is a tough book to read. It's a kind of story that pleads silently for any comforting gesture but lashes out at the slightest of touch. It has sucker punched me in all my vulnerable places and I have no idea how I've survived it. Reading this book trapped me in an awful, depressing bubble that I don't know how to shake away, even now. I feel like doing my own coffin yoga, practice my own blank stare, and will away my existence, even just for a short while, because feeling all these feels is hurting me.
“You can't let emotions consume you. ”
— Ha, book! Are you referring to me?
Grief is the weirdest thing. I've seen it time and again. From people I don't know, from acquaintances, and from people who are close to me. Everyone reacts differently. Coping varies from one person to the next. One thing is a constant though, it never fails to make itself known. It might hit you the way a raindrop casually falls from an oncoming downpour or it might felt like being ran over by a bulldozer. In Words and their Meanings, I've suffered both and I am still not sure how and why.
“What I feel is not in the human vocabulary.”
Its intensity and rawness is unflinching in its pain. Its words carried a weight that begs to be endured and understood and absorbed. I cried—no, I leaked. My unrelenting tears was a direct result of the emotional gutting I've received from this sad, sob-fest of a story. But the most surprising thing was underneath the crushing waves of agony and sorrow, it was punctuated by tiny nuggets of hope and healing for these characters, which comes unexpectedly in hilarious moments. A minor respite but enough to fill me with optimism that they could come back from all these, stronger as a person and tighter as a family than ever.
“How do I say Mateo reminds me of the poem that cut deepest? The one so full of fear that one break in stillness is enough to bring joy and hope and life?

I don't.”
I feel obligated to talk about the characters' humanness, fragility and realness. I feel like I need to discuss the genuineness of the friendship, the family dynamics, and the wonderful portrayal of love and its complexity. I feel like I need a separate section for Mateo alone, or for Joe, or for Anna, or for Anna's parents or her Gramps, or her sister or her bestfriend. But I won't try. I don't have enough in me to try. But I was there for them and I hope that's enough.
“Think about how weird it is to feel broken and mended all at once. Sad and happy. Sappy.”
— Tell me about it, book. *sniffs*
I felt so drained. So emotionally exhausted. So wrung out. This book scared me with its darkness and pain. My head hurt, as what happens, when I cry too much and I don't think I could ever go through this again. But I might, I might just have to, because if every reread is equivalent to a pat on the shoulder, or an embrace, or even a simple nod of understanding, I'd do it all again for these characters and their story.
“Everyone gets one last line. But first lines, stories of love and loss and hope floating on backs of paper cranes? We choose how many of those we get to tell.

All we have to do is breathe deep. Breathe life in.

My eyes slip closed, and I do. I breathe. I breathe. I breathe.”
Cupid's Verdict:
5 Cupids

A copy was provided by the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.
Quotes are taken from an uncorrected ARC and may change in the final copy.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Review: Ghost House by Alexandra Adornetto

Read (August 10-12, 2014)
Book: Ghost House (The Ghost House Saga #1) by Alexandra Adornetto
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Number of Pages: 320
Genre/s: Young Adult, Paranormal
Source: ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley

From the New York Times bestselling author of Halo comes the start of a beautiful and powerful new series.

After the loss of her mother, Chloe Kennedy starts seeing the ghosts that haunted her as a young girl again. Spending time at her grandmother's country estate in the south of England is her chance to get away from her grief and the spirits that haunt her. Until she meets a mysterious stranger…

Alexander Reade is 157 years dead, with secrets darker than the lake surrounding Grange Hall and a lifelike presence that draws Chloe more strongly than any ghost before. But the bond between them awakens the vengeful spirit of Alexander's past love, Isobel. And she will stop at nothing to destroy anyone who threatens to take him from her.

To stop Isobel, Chloe must push her developing abilities to their most dangerous limits, even if it means losing Alex forever… and giving the hungry dead a chance to claim her for their own.
- (source)

Ghost House reminded me of The Mediator series by Meg Cabot, in the way the paranormal aspect was incorporated, and I was actually excited for a while until a crushing thought came over me: Ghost House and I are not a good fit. It's like trying to mix gasoline and water together. In hindsight, I should've seen it coming. Still, this was a risk I took, so I have no one to blame but myself and my apparent naivety.

The writing was all over the place. Metaphors and adjectives were used poorly and extensively. I still can't believe I survived it. Jarring and grating, I had to stop reading every now and then because I just wanted to cry in the corner and lament about how awful this reading experience was.
“The sky had changed color to a streaky mauve, scattered with stars like glittering rocks.”

“..the moon still hanging in the sky like a pale sickle, I knew it had to be the early hours of morning..”

“Her skin is the color of moonstones and the nails on her long fingers are polished gems.”

“Inside, dark wooden beams ran across the ceiling. In the stalls stood solemn horses with glossy coats and liquid brown eyes.”
— Are you scratching your eyes yet?
Chloe is one of those MCs you would like to forget immediately after reading. She's inconsistent and supercilious, two qualities that made for a highly aggravating character. She reprimands Alex because he called her friends harlots, but she'd be the first person to throw them under the bus anyway. Her modesty that's supposed to make her endearing, made her unbearable.  
“When our eyes met, the connection was inexplicable, overwhelming and impossible to ignore. It felt like there were currents swirling in the air, binding us together. Although though we barely knew each other and came from opposing dimensions, I felt strangely comfortable with him.”
— Yeah right. *ignores*
Do I even need to talk about the romance? I'm not going to pretend I'm disappointed with the instalove. It's bound to happen. If the over-the-top description won't clue you in while reading, I don't know what will. The attraction didn't make any sense and only served to provide drama and angst. I had to endure reading about a depthless relationship I couldn't even care about. 
“As I drank in the details of his face, I could feel the distance between us closing up. It might be imprudent and it might be irrational, but something was happening here, even if I couldn't find a label for it. Time and space dissolved around me, and I felt like I'd been waiting all my life for Alexander Reade to show up.”
— Please hold my hair while I gag.
Also, what is this thing about perceiving deep sadness just by looking at someone's eyes? WHY IS THIS EVEN A THING?
“...But his eyes were the most startling, the clearest shade of cornflower blue, with just a hint of sadness that couldn't be concealed.”

“He was tall and loose limbed with broad shoulders, the sort of guy who was comfortable in his own skin. I thought I could see a trace of sadness in his eyes, the sort of thing only I picked up when meeting someone for the first time.”
— What made you such a speshul eye-reading snowflake, Chloe?
The narrative was not the worst thing I've ever read, but the absence of any oomph factor was disappointing. It's uninspired and flat. It's such a shame because I do feel that the tragedy behind the ghosts of Grange Hall was actually quite interesting. It also goes without saying that the plot was predictable. Side characters were used if needed and the MC's ability made progress when it's convenient. The Harry Potter references that usually gets me fist-pumping, ended up being tacky and forced. Plus, don't get me started on how her mother's passing was just swept aside and brought up when necessary, the slut-shaming, and how Isobel, being alluringly evil, was the only one to blame for everything.

This novel did not aspire to break the mold and I could live with that. But what really set my teeth on edge was its painful attempt at a cliffhanger. I don't even know how I managed to finish this book and now I have to look forward to more installments? Ugh. I think I need a chocolate or something. 

Cupid's Verdict:
 photo 15cupids_zps44d71469.png
1.5 Cupids

A copy was provided by the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.
Excerpts/quotes are taken from the ARC and may change in the final copy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (20): Crown of Ice

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating. 

Book: Crown of Ice by Vicki L. Weavil
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
Publisher: Month9Books

Thyra Winther's seventeen, the Snow Queen, and immortal, but if she can't reassemble a shattered enchanted mirror by her eighteenth birthday she's doomed to spend eternity as a wraith. Armed with magic granted by a ruthless wizard, Thyra schemes to survive with her mind and body intact. Unencumbered by kindness, she kidnaps local boy Kai Thorsen, whose mathematical skills rival her own. Two logical minds, Thyra calculates, are better than one. With time rapidly melting away she needs all the help she can steal. A cruel lie ensnares Kai in her plan, but three missing mirror shards and Kai's childhood friend, Gerda, present more formidable obstacles. Thyra's willing to do anything – venture into uncharted lands, outwit sorcerers, or battle enchanted beasts -- to reconstruct the mirror, yet her most dangerous adversary lies within her breast. Touched by the warmth of a wolf pup's devotion and the fire of a young man's desire, the thawing of Thyra's frozen heart could be her ultimate undoing. CROWN OF ICE is a YA Fantasy that reinvents Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen" from the perspective of a young woman who discovers that the greatest threat to her survival may be her own humanity. - (source)

Fairytale retellings are the bestest. Plus, look at that cover and the promise of magic. This book is made for me.
So what books are you waiting on?
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