The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan – Everything’s Kicking Off

Annabeth has gone missing and it’s all kicking off. Percy and the newly awoken Thalia need to go find her with some new friends added to the mix.

I liked the change up in this novel of it not being set in the summer, it made it less repetitive. I don’t mind when novels are over the same period just a year later every time but sometimes it can get annoying.

I really enjoyed getting to know a few other demi-gods. For example we meet Thalia, Zoe and Nico who all were really well developed characters.

My one complaint with this book and generally with the PJ books as a whole up to this one is that I sometimes feel like things happen very quickly. The novels are quite short and they are made for 10-12 year olds so it’s totally fine for them to be like that. But sometimes I just wish things would last a little longer. Like some big dramatic scenes or fighting scenes are over pretty quickly, and whilst the threads are all tiedI just want more.

Overall I’m pretty happy with where this book went and I could feel the tone changing between this and the first couple. You can feel like this is the novel where you know it’s going to go pear shaped soon. Kind of like how I felt with the third Harry Potter. There was a slight change to the overall tone and I put this down and was excited to see what was going to happen next.

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Tales From the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson & Robin Wasserman

On the whole I really liked this anthology of Simon at Shadowhunter Academy stories, spoilers if you didn’t know Simon is a shadowhunter. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about other people writing CC’s characters along with her but I think in this context it really works because it’s a different point of view to her other books and often there were little historical stories within each story that explained some lore.

The two stand outs were The Whitechapel Fiend and Born to Endless Night. I think because it mixed the stories of other characters that I knew in with Simon’s experiences. The Whitechapel Fiend really got me going because it was a little snippet into Will, Jem and Tessa’s lives after the events of Clockwork Princess and I’m always wanting more about those characters because I really fell in love with them. And Born to Endless Night is all about Magnus and Alec and it was so darn sweet that I just couldn’t deal with it.

Some of the stories were a little on the weirder side, like The Evil We Love which was about Robert Lightwood and reading the parts about him I felt very meh but it was intermingled with stuff that was going on with Simon and Izzy.

There were some pretty sad stories but it helped me understand a lot more of the politics in the world. And though I haven’t read it I’m aware that Lady Midnight deals with a lot of the political stuff so I feel like I’ve made the right decision by reading this first to prepare me.

This book also introduced a few new characters, one of the most memorable with George Lovelace. He was so loveable. He’s Scottish and I enjoyed reading him, which I don’t say often as a lot of authors really screw up Scottish characters, but he worked. He made me laugh a lot and he did actually feel Scottish. I commonly find reading characters who are supposedly Scottish just feel like the author has just thrown that in as a quirk and they don’t have traits that as a nation of people we have.

Though this is an anthology the main story of it is linear and so I’m just going to say that the end had me so upset I could see it coming but I was in denial and I don’t think I’ll forgive CC for it.

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The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

This is one of the most fun books I’ve read all year. Thank you to netgalley and Abrams Kids for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Genie is focussing on getting into college until the new kid in school, Quentin, starts telling her all these wild tales about how she’s actually a powerful mythological entity. Of course Genie is very hesitant to believe him, but soon demons start popping up and she’s pretty much forced to realise Quentin isn’t lying.

The thing that really stood out about this book was how unapologetic it was about its Chinese influence. It’s entirely based on Chinese mythology so I think it’s the kind of book Chinese readers have been waiting for for a long time. But it never feels inaccessible, not that there’s anything wrong with books that are because some books are written specifically for people of a certain grouping to read and not for everyone and that’s ok, as a white reader who doesn’t really know much about Chinese mythology this was so easy to read. It was understandable and funny and explained background really well without feeling like as a reader I was being taught.

Genie is such a bomb character. She kicks butts of these hugely powerful demons between going to class and preparing for college.

Yes this book is a bit sill but that’s the whole point. It never takes itself too seriously, I mean how serious can you get with kids fighting demons in their school uniforms. In that respect it reminded me a whole lot of Sailor Moon.

I loved that this was set in the Bay Area because it made some of the more ridiculous moments of the novel even funnier. You have the image of these school kids beating up huge demons all with this metropolitan American city by the sea as the backdrop.

If you haven’t added this book to your TBR please do so because it’s one of the better books I’ve read this year.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Where to start with this review?

I’m sure you have a vague idea of what this book is about but it’s basically about the types of people you would find in a “freak show” at an old style circus, all trapped in a time loop to save them from dying. I know sounds a bit silly right? Which is why it’s better to go into this book not knowing much about it.

However I still found myself pretty disappointed. I thought from the way people went on about this book that it would be some crazy adventure with people who were different but honestly it was just boring. There was so much set up for a very short climax. It was so slow and I just felt like parts of it went on and on. I thought it would be spookier than it was as well, it’s supposed to have a creepy feel to it but it just fell short for me.

Something that really stood out to me while reading was that no one had a distinct personality. I couldn’t remember who was who and what their peculiarity was. Everyone rolled into one on my head and I just found myself confused for a majority of the time. To me if you’re going to do a book with lots of characters they need to stand apart or just don’t bother with them. Even the more forefront characters like Enoch didn’t really register with me properly, I had to keep reminding myself what they did.

Spoilers: It really upset me that the MC ended up having a relationship with his grandads ex. Like that’s really creepy to me, anyone else?

I do think it was incredible that a bunch of photos sparked Riggs’ imagination enough to now be writing a further trilogy but I won’t be reading anymore.

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Iron Cast by Destiny Soria

Thank you to netgalley and Abrams Kids for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is set in the 20s during the time of prohibition, but that’s not the only thing banned; people who have powers to manipulate people using art are also banned.

The biggest part of this book that I liked was the sisterhood. There was no girl on girl fighting for the sake of it, the 2 MCs were really close friends and loved each other and you could feel that throughout the whole book. They had really distinct personalities and I liked them as characters, however I felt like the book maybe should’ve been told from just one perspective because they all just rolled into one and it kind of felt like more of an omniscient narrator than separate character’s points of view in a way.

I also really loved the magic system, everything was related to art, some people could do magic with music, some with painting, some with poetry which I just found really cool. Though at times they would start to use their powers at moments where I just felt like it didn’t make sense to the situation, like surely someone would’ve stopped them before it actually took hold of them. Would it not be obvious to you that someone was Iron Cast if they started just randomly singing?

The world building could have done with some work. I found myself confused a fair amount of the time about just what was really going on. It felt a bit wooly at times and I think that was partly to do with the pacing which went from being really slow to really fast that I couldn’t really concentrate wholly on what was actually going on.

There was some really good points about racism and sexism that were brought up that are often swept under the carpet in historical fiction. Just because things were different doesn’t mean people were happy to just be treated like second rate citizens because of their gender or skin colour and this book was a reminder of that. Not only was one of the MCs facing difficulties in her life due to her magic but she was also black and whilst it is set in Boston where racism wasn’t nearly as bad as places in the south there was still a clear racial divide. It also raised some thoughts on the anti-Russian sentiments in the states, which not as strong as the narrative about racism against black people it was still there and mentioned.

I’d definitely be interested in what this author will come out with next as I can tell that she’s going to improve the more she writes.

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The Curse of the Bruel Coven by Sabrina Ramoth

Thanks to netgalley and Sabrina Ramoth for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Vivienne finds out that her mum wasn’t her actual mum after she dies and her birth mother was a witch who gave her up for adoption to protect her from the curse on her family.

I often talk about bad pacing in books, more often than not it’s too slow but this was just too fast. I had no idea what was going on half the time because it was moving so quickly. I didn’t learn much about the characters but suddenly the adventure was already beginning. Ramoth seems to have the same problem that I do when I write and that is not describing things enough and not taking the time to slow things down a bit. If you like fast paced books then this is the one for you. I just didn’t read enough character development. Because it’s so fast paced it’s definitely the kind of book to read if you are in need of a book to read quickly for a bibliothon or a challenge.

I liked the premise and the setting. Since watching AHS: Coven the idea of witches in New Orleans has always interested me. And having vampires in it made it a little bit better, I still like vampires. I liked that the MC was getting flashbacks to previous generations of her family and she had to figure out what was going on.

I wish the MC had phoned her gran because it was like “well I’ve found out she’s not my actual gran so I’m going to go find my birth mother and forget my gran exists. It just felt really rubbish to me. And on top of that the whole thing starts with her wanting to find her birth mother than her birth mother is kidnapped and we start to learn about all her extended family and there was just too many characters.

This review probably makes it sound like I didn’t like this book and honestly it was ok, I didn’t hate it, I just felt like the writing could use some work.

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Half Lost by Sally Green

This book broke my heart. I did not see what happened coming and I just didn’t know what to do with myself.

I feel like with this novel we came full circle with Nathan. In Half Bad Nathan doesn’t know who he is being half black half white and whether he’s good or bad. In Half Lost Nathan just doesn’t know who he is anymore. He’s really struggling over being the evil murderer that white witches expect him to be and just killing to survive.

There was finally the relationship that everyone was hoping for in this book but it actually kind of felt like a cop out. That being said I was reading it desperately hoping that the relationship was going to happen and that Nathan wasn’t leading the person on because he wasn’t in a good place.

There’s a huge fight at the end of this book, that’s not a spoiler it’s what you’d expect at the end of a fantasy novel but it honestly felt like there wasn’t much to the fight. It started then suddenly it was over and we were in the future.

There isn’t actually much I can say about this book without spoiling it or previous books. It wasn’t the perfect ending and there are some things I would definitely change but it was good.

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The Cubit Quest by Trevor Leck Blog Tour | Author Spotlight and Review

Summary

Twelve-year-old Charlie Watkins could have inherited his dad’s massive intellect.
He got his massive feet instead.

Perhaps if Charlie had that intellect he might have been able to figure out why so many men in suits were suddenly following him or where his dad hid the Cubit – a mythical object that men have sworn to protect and even more have died trying to possess – before his so-called accident.

If starting yet another new school wasn’t bad enough, Charlie meets Mr Leopold, a disfigured, mind-reading lunatic and discovers that he alone must find the Cubit if he is to save his dad. The Brotherhood, however, have other ideas. Led by the ruthless Draganovic, they will stop at nothing to get their hands on it. With the help of Mr Leopold and fellow new boy Elvis, Charlie sets out on The Cubit Quest.

Hunting for the Cubit, playing football, lessons with the dreaded Funeral Face and unsuccessfully avoiding school bully Grimshaw by day, Charlie finds his nights no less complicated. Stalked in his dreams, he’s soon immersed in a world of power struggles, battling dragons and duels to the death. With the Brotherhood hot on his heels and as the bullets begin to fly, there are no guarantees that Charlie, or anyone else, will make it to the end in one piece.

Author Spotlight

Well, they say that everyone needs a hobby, but whilst sat in a tent listening to fighter jets scream overhead in a foreign land, I realised that I needed something else: a distraction.  Writing was the perfect solution; even if writing about military life wasn’t.  I was much more interested in writing about action-packed adventures that was bristling with the likes of bullying, crunching tackles and great goals on the football pitch, the afterlife, mythical creatures, fate, destiny and the obligatory arch-villain hellbent on world domination.  Hence my foray into the world of young adult writing began. You could say that I was always going to be less Andy McNab and more J.K. Rowling.

They also say that you should write about the things you know, and even if I was writing about twelve-year-old boy Charlie Watkins, who suddenly found that he had more enemies than hot dinners, or super-powerful and deadly adversaries, or hobgoblins, I wanted people to believe it.  Therefore, I needed a real place to set my semi-fantasy world. The town of North Shields, in the northern corner of England with a view of the River Tyne, the place where I grew up, provided the perfect backdrop for my first novel The Cubit Quest.  After all, the place really does have it all – great buildings, great parks, great coastline, and even greater people.  I hoped to do the place justice – I didn’t.

The reason for this was relatively simple: I wasn’t very good at it.  Four years down the line and The Cubit Quest was still more a figment of my imagination than a reality.  The ‘Ian Rankin style’ of writing, namely you have a rough idea of where you’re going and let’s see how it pans out, was hugely successful – for Ian Rankin that is!  For me, the process was an unmitigated disaster – four years and no end product proving testament to that fact.  But that didn’t matter.  Other than my lovely wife, nobody knew I was writing and nobody was going to read it anyway – right?

The process also highlighted something that I, and anyone who meets me will figure out soon enough: I have the world’s worst memory.  The places in The Cubit Quest were all real, Ralph Gardner High, Charlie’s house, Elvis’s house, Sonia’s house, all of it – ‘were’ being the operative word.  The story is therefore a mismatch of eras, some present day, some straight from my very poor memory.  The result is less Dan Brown, whereby every detail is correct at the time of writing and more John Grisham – never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Having a second crack at it – it was my secret hobby after all – I knuckled down to some serious planning and eleven months later I had a first draft, a completed novel at last!  Of course, perhaps I should have mentioned that it wasn’t The Cubit Quest, it was the follow up, which takes up immediately where The Cubit Quest leaves off.  It was an odd situation, even I’ll admit that, to have the second part of what I envisaged to be a four-part series and no first part in existence.

All that remained, was to complete that first novel – and complete it I did!  It was a behemoth by the time I’d finished, large enough to give a sci-fi epic a run for its money.  Having visited the fabulous Warner Bros Studios to spend a very enjoyable day living and breathing the equally fabulous world of Harry Potter there is an opening address by J.K. Rowling in which she says that the Philosopher’s Stone was a product of good editing.  I didn’t appreciate this fully – but I did by the time I’d whittled the book down to a more palatable word length – eight edits, ouch!

I was recently asked what short response I’d say to someone who had a passing interest in The Cubit Quest. My response: buy a ticket, strap in and enjoy the rollercoaster ride of an adventure!

Review

This book was a weird read, but something a bit different. It was advertised to me as YA but I’d say it’s that middle ground between Middle Grade and YA.

There was a lot of little references in this book, which I absolutely adored, like Charlie went to the Library to pick up a copy of a Garth Nix book, there was characters with names that were references to things. It made my read more fun when I picked up on them.

At times it did border on a bit silly, but I think that’s mainly because Leck seemed to want to keep the reader in the dark about what was going on in the same way that Charlie was. It was generally a bit awkward at times because it would go from the fantastical elements to kids playing football in the space of a few sentences.

The formatting wasn’t really great either, there wasn’t enough line breaks to tell you when you’d moved into a different POV or a different time. Like it felt like it needed more paragraphs or general transitions.

This was set in South Shields (I think) which was quite nice to read for me as my Gran lives in the Tyneside area and the place she lives was actually mentioned at one point.

I occasionally found some of the fantastical elements of the plot a bit confusing, I eventually got my head around it but I felt there maybe could have been a bit more of an explanation to what was going on.

I liked that this was still set in a school. What I mean by that is that too often in books of this nature kids find out that they have powers and have to go on an adventure leaving their school and family life behind. Whereas this book was still set at home and the MC still had all his childhood problems.

Living in Telford, Shropshire, Trevor Leck has been dabbling in writing for over fifteen years. Always a fan of gripping adventure stories he has taken inspiration from his favourite authors, including John Grisham and J K Rowling, and the towns and cities he grew up, especially North Shields, to create his Young Adult series.

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Thank you to Rachel Gilbey for arranging this tour!

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Half Wild by Sally Green

I’m desperately waiting for Half Lost to be sent to me by the library because this book left me reeling.

One of my favourite things about this novel was how it was completely unafraid to talk about being gay and being interested in someone of the same gender. Nathan’s best friend, Gabriel, is in love with Nathan and that’s never glazed over. Gabriel is probably my favourite character actually, I was constantly desperate to read about him and his feelings towards everything.

Nathan has truly accepted that he is “bad” in this book. But he knows that he’s still not sure of himself and he doesn’t know if his new gift makes him truly a bad person or just “bad” in the eyes of the government who are very much against him and his whole family.

There are some characters in this book, not to name names, who I was really uncertain of but man they really showed themselves towards the end. But a lot of the other characters really come into their own in this book and you see people that you didn’t really like in the first book coming into their own in the fight against the horrible white witches.

When Nathan is near someone with a mobile phone he hears this horrible noise in his head, some people in reviews didn’t like the format of the noises but I loved it. Whenever you saw the “ch” on the page you knew there was a white witch there, and personally I found it kind of nerve wracking, it worked really well for me.

I honestly don’t know what is going to happen in the final book because the way this left off literally just had me like ?????

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Half Bad by Sally Green

I’d heard a lot of hype about this book but also not a lot of hype at the same time and I really wasn’t sure what to expect.

Nathan is half black witch half white witch. His dad is Marcus, the most feared black witch to exist and this makes him basically a black witch in the eyes of the white witch government. As Nathan grows up the government brings out numerous laws to basically imprison him in his own house then they have him sent to the care of a white witch who keeps him in a cage. Eventually the government imprisons him and he has to escape or he will not be able to become a full witch if he doesn’t find someone to give him 3 gifts on his 17th birthday.

At the heart of this book is a discussion of good vs. bad; whether someone is inherently bad just because of who their parents are and what race they are. Nathan is half black witch, the government is made of white witches so they do everything they can to stop him gaining his full powers. The white witches think they are the greatest and they’re good and that the black witches are all evil, but throughout we are shown they are not good, the way they treat Nathan, who is a child, shows you that they aren’t who they think they are. Black witches are more powerful than white witches so the white witches do all they can to keep them oppressed because they are scared of them. Remind you of anything?

There’s very good world building throughout the novel as you learn about how the government is run and how it polices people just through it’s actions towards Nathan. Not much actually happens for the first half of this novel just because it’s recounting Nathan’s childhood and how he has been treated just because of his parentage, but that didn’t make it difficult to read.

Another element to this book that really made me happy was that Nathan’s best friend in later parts of the novel is not straight, and there’s a lot of confusion about sexuality which I think we all know is sorely lacking in fantasy books.

Overall this was a really interesting book, I don’t often read antihero books so this was like a breath of fresh air. The writing was really weird at times, but not in a bad way, and Green managed to make me feel tense often from the way she wrote.

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