Book Review: The Gift of Charms

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Read between: 9th- 17th May
Published: September 4th, 2014
Publisher: Dino Books
Format: ebook
Popsugar reading challenge: A book involving a mythical creature; A book from a non-human perspective
Genre: Fantasy
Synopsis: In a secret land, far away from the habitation of man, dwell the world’s remaining dragons — hoping the dragsaur beasts have vanished forever. Here they try to live their daily lives, but all is not well and their talents are fading.

Things change, however, when, from a strange egg, Yoshiko is born – a dragon with a unique destiny.

Great adventure lies ahead as many challenges must be overcome, leading to a dangerous mission to the human world in attempt to return to the clans their missing magic!

Can Yoshiko make it in time?

Rating: Image result for 2.5 stars

Review: The Gift of Charms is a children’s fantasy novel that follows Yoshiko, a young dragon who doesn’t fit in.

The writing was a little competitive in places, but I can let that slide considering it was written simply to make it easier to read. The target audience are young children, considering it’s a middle grade novel, which could explain why. However, I liked the premise and the story is great, it took a while for the reader, and Yoshiko, to discover what his fate was.

He was very sensitive though, for example, when he was bullied at school, rather than stand up to himself and show the reader that you shouldn’t let the bullies hurt you….he flew away and cried. I liked that the author included school bullies, in order to raise awareness to young readers but I felt it was taken in the wrong direction.

Another point about the simplicity is there wasn’t much world building, there was the description of the mountain ranges here and there but I don’t feel like I know Dragor enough to describe it. I thought I would fly through this book but I didn’t, I had a mini slump in the middle of it! It just didn’t pull me in like most fantasy novels do.

I liked the personification of the dragons, although sometimes they felt a bit too human…it wasn’t an unnatural perspective. If you replaced the characters with people, there wouldn’t have had much of a difference in their characters.

I finished it though, and I’m glad I did because it was nice to see them all celebrating, although a lot of the dragons were just like ‘oh okay that’s over, let’s get back to our lives.’ when a massive change had just happened!

I liked it- but I can definitely see children enjoying it more than I did. They can probably relate to Yoshiko. That being said, it’s a great premise and painted dragons in a better light than most fantasy novels- making them good and not monsters.

2.5 stars.

Don’t take my review to heart, if you feel like you’d like this book, then give it a go!

Thanks for reading
~Katie

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Book Review: Inferno by Catherine Doyle (Blood for Blood #2)

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Read between: 22nd-27th April
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 416
Published: January 7th, 2016
Publisher: Chicken House
Synopsis: Sophie’s life has been turned upside-down, and she’s determined to set things right. But Nic, the Falcone brother who represents everything she’s trying to forget, won’t give up on their love – and it’s Luca’s knife she clutches for comfort. Soon another mafia clan spoils the fragile peace – and with her heart drawn in one direction and her blood in another, Sophie’s in deeper than ever.

Rating: Image result for five stars

Review:

This trilogy gets better with each book. I gave the last one four stars (review here) but this one was so much better! There’s drama, twists, and find out where Sophie’s loyalties really lie after her traumatic experience at the hands of Calvino Falcone.

I don’t blame her for still being traumatised. I would be! I think it made her stronger, even if she is still in the middle of a feud, and it’s about to get worse! She’s about to discover a secret that turns the life she knows upside down.

A secret that could turn Nic against her.

However, it is Luca Falcone who stands by her. Luca who actually cares about her more than the war between their families. It is Luca who doesn’t lie to her.

Sophie and Luca are such a better couple than Sophie and Nice were! I wanted them to kiss so badly whenever they were together because there was clearly a hell of a lot of chemistry. (spoiler; THEY DO! :D)

Unfortunately, tragedy strikes that rips Sophie’s world apart. It is Luca she clings to. She can’t go to her uncle, he’s caused her too much pain already.

The drama has definitely progressed, it’s so intense! When Doyle threw in the plot twist I was totally shocked! I had no idea and I totally didn’t see it coming! That’s good writing, when the author can surprise you.

I cannot wait to find out in the third book, so I ordered it from amazon immediately and I’m reading it as soon as I can!

5/5 stars. Totally recommend.

Thanks for reading!
~Katie

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Book Review: Vendetta (Blood for Blood #1) by Catherine Doyle

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Read between: 17th- 22nd April
Number of pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Chicken House
Published: February 24th, 2015
Synopsis: When it comes to revenge, love is a dangerous complication.With a fierce rivalry raging between two warring families, falling in love is the deadliest thing Sophie could do. An epic debut set outside modern-day Chicago.

When five brothers move into the abandoned mansion in her neighbourhood, Sophie Gracewell’s life changes forever. Irresistibly drawn to bad boy Nicoli, Sophie finds herself falling into a criminal underworld governed by powerful families. As the boys’ dark secrets begin to come to light, Sophie is confronted with stinging truths about her own family, too. She must choose between two warring dynasties – the one she was born into, and the one she is falling in love with. When she does, blood will spill and hearts will break.

Rating: 5521e-4stars

Review: It all starts with a jar of honey.

Then in Falcone brothers move into an abandoned mansion in Cedar Hill and Sophie’s life changes, by falling for Nic, she becomes involved in mystery, drama, and family secrets.

I really like Sophie- apart from her background, she was a really relatable character. Normal job, normal best friend- she’s the average teenage girl. If we forget the fact her father is in prison for murder and she’s basically running her uncle’s diner whilst he’s out of town!

Okay, so, there is a bit of insta-love, sort of- the moment she sees Nic properly she develops a crush on him that turns into a romance pretty quickly. However, it isn’t done badly and I was really involved with their secret meetings and steamy kisses. It just worked.

As it turns out, Sophie’s family, the Gracewell’s, have a connection to the Falcone’s which ends up leading to all kinds of trouble. Is there romance really that dangerous? Can they forget the feud and stay together?

Nic is keeping secrets. Unfortunately, he isn’t exactly what he seems- and he’s not the only one.

I’ve heard this book described as Romeo and Juliet meets the Godfather and to be honest, it’s an apt description. Imagine the Capulets and the Montague’s are in the mafia and you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

I really enjoyed this book, it started off slow but once I got into the story I was sucked in and I couldn’t put it down! I can’t wait to see what happens when I continue with the series and will be picking up the second book immediately.

Will Sophie and Nic ever be together? Can she forgive him?

It was a brilliant book and I’d highly recommend it because it had something for everyone. It also includes a character in a wheelchair, so it was nice to see the representation of disability in there too.

4/5 stars.
Loved it!

Thanks for reading!
~Katie

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Review: Watson and Holmes: A Study in Black (Watson and Holmes Volume #1) by Karl Bollers and Rick Leonardi

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Read between: April 12th- April 17th
Format: Graphic Novel
Publisher: New Paradigm Studios
Published: December 11, 2013
Synopsis: New Paradigm Studios is proud to present its bold re-imagining of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic characters as African Americans living and operating in New York City’s famous Harlem district. Watson, an Afghanistan war vet, works in an inner-city clinic; Holmes, a local P.I. who takes unusual cases…

Circumstances bring the unlikely duo together to solve the case of a missing girl. Watson and Holmes bump heads along the way as they enter a labyrinth of drugs, guns, gangs and a conspiracy that goes higher and deeper than they could have imagined…
Rating: Image result for five stars

Review:
So, basically, this is a retelling of Sherlock Holmes and it’s such a fun re-imagining of the classic, putting Holmes and Watson in Harlem, New York, making them African American and throwing some crimes in along the way.

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Holmes and Watson were still the characters I’m used to. Watson is a war veteran, now Doctor and Holmes, a private investigator. However, there are a couple of differences to the canon, aside from the obvious. The first is that Watson has a son. The second, not that I’m complaining, is that the main police associate is neither Lestrade or Gregson but Lieutenant Stroud, who added to the balance by being female.

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I’m so glad that Volume 2 has been commissioned and is available because I loved this and I need more! I just really loved this take on Sherlock Holmes, because it didn’t feel like the characters were out of place!

The brilliant art by Rick Leonardi helped too, because it helped me to immerse myself into this version of my favourite detective.

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Very cleverly done.

I’d recommend this to any Sherlock Holmes fan! It’s great and I am so glad I picked it up! 😀

Thanks for reading!
~Katie

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Book Review: Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

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Read between: 7th- 12th April
Format: ebook
Published: March 24th 2016
Publisher: Harper Collins
Synopsis: Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation in which she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.

In this stunning novel, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society in which perfection is paramount and mistakes are punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.

Rating: 003d1-threestar

Review: Celestine North is perfect. In a world where those who aren’t are branded, she’s lucky. She’s one of the few people who society sees as perfect. She has no flaws. However, one moment of compassion- helping and elderly man to a seat on a bus, brings her perfect world to a grinding halt.

Why?

He happened to be Flawed.

Suddenly, she too becomes Flawed, and every move she makes could be used against her.

This book has such an interesting premise! The barrier between the perfect and the Flawed reminds me of the segregation between black people and white people in South Africa and 1950s America, it’s the same sort of rules- only two Flawed people can sit together, and, another similarity, they’re only allowed to sit on dedicated seats on the bus.

I love Cecelia Ahern’s adult novels, and her YA novel was just as good! It’s full of complex characters- each playing their part in Celestine’s life.

The book teaches us one thing though, that doing the right thing isn’t always the right thing.

Celestine is strong. She’s strong through her trial, through her branding- she’s a great character! Judge Crevan on the other hand, how fast his character changed after Celestine became Flawed…. it was clear where his loyalty lay.

Not with the people. With the government.

He turns out to be the villain of the story, when he started off as a friend. It just goes to show that you can’t trust everyone, even if you think you know them. People are not always what they seem.

I really liked this book! There was so much happening that I couldn’t put it down! The reason I gave it three stars? Celestine put herself at risk more than once, and sometimes I felt she knew what trouble it would cause.

Great read though!

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Book Review: The Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jasmon

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Read between: 3rd- 7th April
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 352
Published: August 13th, 2015
Publisher: Black Swan
Synopsis: One day she was there . . .
and the next day, the day after the fire, she was gone
.

In the summer of 1983, when Helen is sixteen, Victoria Dover and her eccentric family move in next door, at once making her lonely world a more thrilling place. But the summer ends with a terrible tragedy, and everyone involved – her father and the entire Dover family – simply disappears.

Then one day, thirty years later, Victoria comes back.

A suspenseful, spell-binding coming-of-age story about young friendship, damaged families and how one simple action on a long, sultry summer can echo through the years.
Rating: 003d1-threestar

Review:
Helen is 16, discovering new things, about her body, about her feelings, and one day, she discovers a new family, The Dovers, have moved into the area. She assumed the cottages down by the canal were abandoned….

It’s safe to say Helen is curious.

She starts spying on them, discretely of course, until Pippa, the youngest sister, gets stuck in her garden hedge- from then, they become friends. Through Pippa, Helen meets Will, Seth, and Victoria.

She also develops a bit of a crush on Seth which I saw happening a mile off, it was an obvious plot point but it actually became a really important part of the story, especially as it took a while to get to the climax.

The book does start quite slow moving, but it flicks between 2013 and 1983- so that Helen can reflect on the past, and so that we, the readers, understand why Helen can’t remember the summer, or why Victoria disappeared.

In terms of character, Helen is reserved and Victoria is a rebellious one, so I did not expect the truth of what happened over the summer of 1983 to be Helen’s fault. You’d think if anyone would be to blame it would have been Victoria- but a broken heart can bring out the worst in people. It was actually quite hard-hitting, and I don’t blame Helen for choosing to forget it.

Definitely disappointed she didn’t get Seth though, maybe it would have changed things.

Despite the slow start, this book ended up having all the right stuff for a good contemporary novel:

  • Drama
  • Friendship
  • Love
  • Family

In 2013, all of the questions posed to us in 1983 are answered which I liked, because it felt like I’d finally got to the end of the book, but it still made me sit and think about what had happened.

This is Sarah Jasmon’s debut novel and I really liked it! Sometimes the characters got on my nerves but I got over it. It’s a really great story and I’d recommend it.

I just want to thank Lizzy from my little book blog for sending me this book as a prize for winning her giveaway (like last year or something and I’ve just read it now, ah well!)

Thanks for reading!
~Katie

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Book Review: The Queen of New Beginnings by Erica James

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Read between: 30th March- 1st April
Number of pages: 374
Published: April 1st, 2010
Publisher: Orion Publishing
Synopsis: Alice Shoemaker habitually goes to great lengths to avoid telling the truth about herself and her past. After agreeing to help out a friend by shopping and cleaning for the unknown man staying at Cuckoo House, she soon becomes suspicious that her strange and obnoxiously rude client has something to hide. Clayton Miller’s life is a mess. His career as one of the country’s best comedy scriptwriters has stalled, and his long-term girlfriend has left him for his ex-best friend and ex-writing partner. Just when he thinks his life couldn’t get any worse, he commits a spectacularly public fall from grace, and with the press hounding him, his agent banishes him to the middle of nowhere until the dust has settled. When Alice and Clayton discover the truth about each other they form an unlikely friendship—until Alice discovers Clayton has betrayed her in the worst possible way.

Rating: 5521e-4stars

Review: The Queen of New Beginnings focuses on Alice, a voice actress. However, she doesn’t exactly have the best luck- unlucky in love, in her work (she’s replaceable) and was very unlucky in her family life.

A family life that she keeps hidden.

And it remains hidden deep within her heart, until a stranger moves into Cuckoo House, her old family home. That stranger is Clayton Miller, a writer, recently successful but more so depressed when his co-writer stole his girlfriend.

He’s hiding from the world, under a different name, and when Alice pretends to be a Polish cleaner at the house, secrets are revealed. Alice eventually trusts him enough to tell him her story.

Rufus, her step brother, is the main antagonist of her childhood and early adolescence- but after they have a sexual relationship, things turned sour and it wasn’t just Rufus who was mean to Alice after that incident- her entire step family was. I don’t blame Rufus’s new girlfriend for doing what she did.

I liked the fact that Alice was able to finally feel comfortable around someone to tell them her deepest darkest secrets, and Clayton and Alice were really cute together, well, until he betrayed her for his own gain.

He put everything she told him into a script. Turning it into a TV show.

Obviously, the whole thing has repercussions, obviously, and I was pretty shocked to see such a change in Clayton’s character. I wasn’t surprised when Alice decided to end their relationship.

It was a shame though, I did like them together. So, I was happy when, come the end of the novel, they rekindle their relationship. Alice deserves happiness.

The end is my favourite part of the novel, because there are happy endings all around, not just for Alice and Clayton, but all those who suffered got the happiness they truly deserved.

I love Erica James’ writing and this novel was no different. I really enjoyed it!

4/5 stars.
I’d definitely recommend it!

Thanks for reading!
~Katie
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