Thursday, August 20, 2015

Review: Riddles of Hillsgate

Title: The Riddles of Hillgate
Author: Zoey Kane and Claire Kane
Series: Z & C Mysteries #1
Publication Date: October 14, 2011
Source: Won.

Zoey Kane is known around Riverside for making risky purchases. When her daughter Claire learns a most recent investment is eighty acres on the haunted side of town, she is simply flabbergasted. Amazement takes over the whole community, however, when an old mansion is discovered deep within trees. After the estate is turned into a popular hotel, no one could have expected just how risky this purchase would be.

I read this book in the plane and in the airport while I was on holiday and found it was a perfect book for that situation. Something light and fluffy, that was easy to pick up and put down as needed.

That said, this book wasn't memorable or ground-breaking in any way. I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it or pick up a sequel. 

Claire is a young woman whose life is falling apart, so she moves in with her mother for a while. Zoey is an unsuccessful real estate agent whose luck is usually terrible. However, Zoey recently bought some scrubby old land, only to find out that there was a forgotten mansion on the estate!

I found Zoey and Claire's relationship a bit odd. It just didn't seem like a realistic mother-daughter relationship and I found it super weird that they shared a bed in the huge mansion. I also found some of the dialogue to be a bit forced and awkward. 

However, this book as short, fast-paced and fun and I enjoyed reading it while waiting for my flight.

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Review: The Voyage of the Basilisk

Title: The Voyage of the Basilisk
Author: Marie Brennan
Series: Memoir by Lady Trent #3
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication Date: March 31, 2015
Source:  I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

Devoted readers of Lady Trent’s earlier memoirs, A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents, may believe themselves already acquainted with the particulars of her historic voyage aboard the Royal Survey Ship Basilisk, but the true story of that illuminating, harrowing, and scandalous journey has never been revealed—until now. Six years after her perilous exploits in Eriga, Isabella embarks on her most ambitious expedition yet: a two-year trip around the world to study all manner of dragons in every place they might be found. From feathered serpents sunning themselves in the ruins of a fallen civilization to the mighty sea serpents of the tropics, these creatures are a source of both endless fascination and frequent peril. Accompanying her is not only her young son, Jake, but a chivalrous foreign archaeologist whose interests converge with Isabella’s in ways both professional and personal.

Science is, of course, the primary objective of the voyage, but Isabella’s life is rarely so simple. She must cope with storms, shipwrecks, intrigue, and warfare, even as she makes a discovery that offers a revolutionary new insight into the ancient history of dragons.

Memoirs by Lady Trent has been a really interesting and enjoyable series for me so far. I love that it looks at the science and biology of dragons as if they truly did exist. And the variety of detail of the dragons really makes it a believable world.

I think this book has been my favourite so far. I found it had a bit more action in it for me. And I also think it's taken me a couple books to warm up to the Isabella and also to the writing style, which is reminiscent of classics (but with dragons and a bit of a scandalous narrator). I like that Jake has become a full character now and Isabella's involvement in his life is probably one of the reasons why I felt like I connected more with her in this book than the previous one.

I really do like Tom's character and his transcending of economic class through science. However, I felt like he took a bit of a back seat in this one, as they add Suhail to their expedition. I really like Suhail and it would be a lie if I said I didn't ship him and Isabella just a bit. In this book, I also loved the ship's captain Aekinitos.

Another character I found very interesting was Heali'i, who gave some interesting insight into gender norms and roles. I liked getting to see these concepts presented through a bit of an anthropological lens.

Overall, I have really enjoyed this series so far and can't wait to see what kind of trouble Isabella gets herself into in the next book.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

July Wrapup

I'm a few days late with this wrap up, but it's all good!

Books Reviewed in July:

The Road to You by Alicia Whitaker - 4 stars
Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swedson - 4 stars
Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas - 5 stars

Average Rating = 4.3 stars

I'm a bit behind on my review (watch for a whole bunch coming up), but the ones I got to this month were all positive!

Books Received in July:

For Review:
The Girl's Guide to the Apocalypse by Daphne Lamb
If Then by Matthew De Abaitua

I didn't post a lot in July because I was in JAPAN! It was awesome! Looking forward to catching up on my reviews this month!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Review: Throne of Glass

Title: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Publisher: Bloombury's USA Children's
Publication Date: August 7, 2012
Source: Purchased.

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating  . But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

I'm pretty late to the Throne of Glass party, but that's ok, because better late than never! I'm always a bit nervous going into a popular, hyped-up book because the hype ruins so many of them for me. But not this one! No, this one I really really liked! Hooray!

I loved Celaena. She's just one of those characters that I couldn't help but fall in love with. Even though she's not perfect, I still wanted her to succeed. I mean, this girl has been through Hell and is just so strong and tenacious. Love her.

Then there are the boys. First Prince Dorian, who I enjoyed. He seemed like an all-around decent guy, though constantly in his father's shadow. Then there's Chaol, who I particularly liked (all though I'm not sure of the exact reason why). Since there are two guys, you can probably guess that there is a little bit of a love triangle. Although it's not very pronounced right now (as it is fairly one-sided), I think that it will be developed as the series progresses.

I also enjoyed the action in this book. Any book with a competition involved seems to add extra excitement for me and this was no exception. Especially since most of the competitors were very unlikable, so I particularly wanted Celaena to win!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and immediately bought the next two books after finishing this one!

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Review: Rebel Mechanics

Title: Rebel Mechanics
Author: Shanna Swendson
Series: Rebel Mechanics #1
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Publication Date: July 14, 2015
Source: I received a complimentary ARC in exchange for an honest review.

A sixteen-year-old governess becomes a spy in this alternative U.S. history where the British control with magic and the colonists rebel by inventing.

It’s 1888, and sixteen-year-old Verity Newton lands a job in New York as a governess to a wealthy leading family—but she quickly learns that the family has big secrets. Magisters have always ruled the colonies, but now an underground society of mechanics and engineers are developing non-magical sources of power via steam engines that they hope will help them gain freedom from British rule. The family Verity works for is magister—but it seems like the children's young guardian uncle is sympathetic to the rebel cause. As Verity falls for a charming rebel inventor and agrees to become a spy, she also becomes more and more enmeshed in the magister family’s life. She soon realizes she’s uniquely positioned to advance the cause—but to do so, she’ll have to reveal her own dangerous secret.

I love a good Steampunk story! And I definitely found Rebel Mechanics to be a fun time. Verity was a likable, although naive, character and I enjoyed the idea of the class conflict between the magical upper class and non-magical lower.

As I mentioned I did enjoy Verity as a character. She is sincere and likable in general, although certainly quite naive, especially in the beginning. I enjoyed seeing her struggle and make some missteps, but eventually figuring things out for herself.

I also liked the children that Verity cares for as a governess. Olive is such a sweetheart, I just want to give her a hug. Roland was lots of fun and a good representation of a lot of little boys. And Flora was so stuck up, but I liked that too, as it provided another challenge for Verity to face. And of course, their uncle Henry was one of my favourite characters, with his well-meaning and nerdy persona.

On the other side, Verity's mechanic friends were a different sort entirely. I liked Nat a lot, with his boyish enthusiasm. Lizzie was also a character I enjoyed. The boy Verity starts to fall for, Alec, however, was not a favourite. I just didn't like how much he pushed Verity to do things that weren't in her best interest.

As I mentioned, I really liked the way the author used magic to magnify the division between economic classes in the world she created. Class division were huge in that time period and I thought the emphasis the author was able to place on these differences was well done.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit and thought it stood us fairly well to the other steampunk books on my shelf. I am definitely looking forward to reading the next book in the series!

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Review: The Road to You


Title: The Road to You
Author: Alecia Whitaker
Series: Wildflower #2
Publisher: Poppy
Publication Date: July 14, 2015
Source: I received a complimentary ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The second book in the Wildflower series--full of drama, heart, and that country music spirit.

Bright lights... Screaming fans... Cute roadies... Country music sensation Bird Barrett is officially on tour. The months flash by in an exciting whirlwind, due--in no small part--to a certain dreamy lighting tech named Kai. 

After the tour wraps up, Bird makes the move to LA, finding herself at the center of a trumped-up rivalry with another country music starlet she barely knows. Meanwhile, Kai's out on tour again with an indie rock band and growing distant, and Bird has the label breathing down her neck for a new hit song. Finding true love is supposed to be inspiring, so why does penning the next great country pop ballad suddenly feel so hard? 

ABC's hit show Nashville meets The Summer I Turned Pretty.

So far, the Wildflower is one of my favourite contemporary series! I find Bird to be so likable and relateable, even though her life is so much crazier than mine!

This installment starts with Bird going on tour as the opening act for a country superstar. It's there that she meets Kai, the intense indie roadie that Bird immediately feels a connection with. Once the tour wraps up, her label suggests that she move to LA and attempt to be a crossover artist.

Bird deals with a variety of issues this time around: a long distance relationship, navigating the pitfalls of the LA media, dealing with friends (both good and not-so-good) and trying to assert her independence with her parents.

I wasn't a huge fan of the love interest, Kai. He's a bit too hipster for my taste and I just didn't think he and Bird were a great match, despite their chemistry. But he really does seem like a nice guy and I can see other readers liking him a lot.

The other new character we meet is Devyn, a Hollywood actress who strikes up a friendship with Bird. I wasn't a big fan of her; she lives a bit too much a crazy Hollywood starlet lifestyle, compared the Bird's down-to-earth personality.

Despite me not being crazy over the love interest, I did really like this book and can't wait for the next one to be released!

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