Tag Archives: magic

ARC Review – The Wrinkled Crown by Anne Nesbet

24951698Title: The Wrinkled Crown

Author:  Anne Nesbet

Rating:  ★★★★

Synopsis: Up in the magical, wrinkled hills, Linny breaks an ancient law. No matter how musical a girl may be, she must not so much as touch a string of a lourka before she turns twelve, or she’ll be spirited off to Away. When the curse meant for her strikes her best friend instead, Linny must leave her home behind to try to set things right. If you walk down out of the wrinkled hills, you will never find your way home–everyone knows that other law. But Linny has the gift of not getting lost, and she will risk everything to rescue her friend. With her father’s young apprentice, Elias, she travels down into the Plain, where science may have found a cure for magic. Linny and Elias soon find themselves caught up in the age-old battle between the wrinkled places and the Plain. Can Linny keep the fractured land from falling apart—and save her best friend?

Huge thank you to Harper Collins Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Some of my favourite kinds of middle grade novels are often the ones that are the most quiet and gentle. There’s a lot to learn, there’s often a good balance of morality and magic, which is exactly what we have in Anne Nesbet’s The Wrinkled Crown.

If I’m being honest, I think what I loved about this book the most was just how gorgeous the writing is. It really does an amazing job of drawing the reader in, and it’s rich in description. The story itself is cheeky, as we follow Linny, a heroine who has broken an ancient law in her world, in that if she touches a lourka before she turns twelve, or she’ll be banished to Away. Unfortunately her best friend ends up having to pay the price, and it’s up to Linny to make this wrong a right. I loved this story, though it definitely had some slow points for me.

I really can’t get over how fleshed out these characters feel. I adored Sayra and her love for Linny, I thought Elias was a cutie, and Linny… she reminds me of Tommy from Rugrats, always doing what she shouldn’t be and then trying to figure out how to a fix a problem before things get much, much worse. Linny is adventurous, daring, clever, she’s someone I think a lot of younger readers would easily be drawn to because she is so capable, yet she’s not always confident in herself.

The Wrinkled Crown is a such a delightful fantasy novel for anyone of any age. There’s so much for children and adult alike to appreciate! The story is delightfully charming, with wonderfully vivid characters and fantastic writing. It’s definitely worth checking out if you are a fan of authors like K.E Orsmbee or Claire Legrand.

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ARC Review – Everyday Angel #1: New Beginnings by Victoria Schwab

FC_BC_9780545528467.inddTitle:  Everyday Angel #1: New Beginnings

Author: Victoria Schwab

Rating: ★★★★ / ★★★★★

Synopsis: At a first glance, Aria seems like your average twelve-year-old girl. She has coppery hair, colored shoelaces, and a passion for cupcakes. But there’s more to Aria than meets the eye. She can dream things into existence, use her own shadow like a door, and change the world in small, important ways. Aria is a guardian angel. She’s been sent here to earn her wings. But to do that, she’ll have to help three different girls.

Aria’s first mission is Gabby Torres. Gabby’s always been quiet, but ever since her brother got sick, she’s barely said a word.When a new school offers her a fresh start, Gabby wants badly to be someone new, but she quickly learns it’s hard to make friends while keeping half her life a secret.

And then Aria shows up. Aria, who knows exactly what to say and do to make Gabby feel better. Will she be able to help Gabby find her voice? And will Gabby still trust Aria when she finds out exactly what she is?

Huge thank you to Scholastic and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review (4 Star):

Never judge a book by its cover. It’s hard not to sometimes. To be honest, my love of Victoria Schwab’s work holds no bounds, so I was delighted that she was writing a middle grade series that seemed cute and fluffy. That covers suggests that this book is cute and fluffy, but it’s surprisingly anything but.

The best way to describe Everyday Angel is that it essentially the television show Touched by an Angel, but surprisingly less preachy. It’s about understanding the world around you, trying to make sense of situations that are challenging, and above all, make tough subject matters more accessible to younger readers. All these things I mentioned? Yeah, Schwab nails them with ease.

Part of what I loved about this first book is that it dealt with someone having a terminal disease with no guarantees for a cure. Gabby is a character forced to accept her reality, but it’s one that causes her to struggle and even make her feel invisible to her family because her brother’s needs are so high maintenance. There’s no sugar coating in this story, Schwab uses the character of Aria to make these issues accessible to younger readers and there’s such a genuine sense of care from a lot of the responses that Aria provides to Gabby. She reminds Gabby that her feelings are normal and natural, something that a lot of kids her age would definitely struggle with.

This book is also not without humor and charm. I REALLY adored the character of Aria and I appreciated her lack of worldly knowledge, something that removed parts of the Touched by an Angel aspects that appeared in the story. We need more characters like her that are able to make everyday issues be something that we can talk about with children, that we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about with our children. Overall, I cannot wait for book two of this series, because when Aria gets into trouble — boy is it fun to read about!

River’s Review (5 Star):

I only read this book because it’s written by Victoria Schwab. I loved her Archivedbooks (well, the first one, I haven’t had the chance to read the 2nd one yet, but I’ll get to it) and wow. This was so touching. I normally don’t read MG because I just can’t get into that well. YA is as young as I go, but sometimes an author I like writes a MG and I’ll give it a try. And this was lovely.

Gabby’s brother Marco is suffering from cancer and Gabby’s getting lost in the shuffle. She’s trying to be there for her brother and mother, but nobody’s there for her. Their father isn’t in the picture, and Gabby’s starting 7th grade in a new school in a new town. She’s excited to get away from the stigma of having a sick brother, which caused a lot of people to pull away from her at her old school, but at the same time nobody’s really supporting her. 

Then Aria shows up. Aria’s an angel who’s earning her wings. This is NOT religious at all. There is no mention of god or heaven or anything religious. Aria is simply an angel who is sent to help Gabby. And she does. She helps Gabby at school, helps her find something she’s passionate about, and she helps Gabby figure out her family situation. Aria doesn’t fix her brother, doesn’t fix anything really, and I really enjoyed that. She was just a helper, simple as that.

The writing is gorgeous and I never once felt that I was reading something for the MG audience. Most of the time I shy away from MG just because it reads too young and a lot of the emotional stuff is capped so I can’t even really feel much. But man, this touched my heart so many times and I got choked up a lot. There are sad moments, happy moments, and in-between moments all through this book.

And there are strong messages, which I think is totally appropriate for a MG book of this theme. Family, friends, loss, finding yourself… it’s all woven into the story, but nothing is heavy handed. 

I can’t wait to read the next book in this series to see who Aria helps next! And to read more of Schwab’s gorgeous writing!

ARC Review – The Dark World by Cara Lynn Shultz

20804408Title:  The Dark World

Author: Cara Lynn Shultz

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Paige Kelly is used to weird–in fact, she probably corners the market on weird, considering that her best friend, Dottie, has been dead since the 1950s. But when a fire demon attacks Paige in detention, she has to admit that things have gotten out of her league. Luckily, the cute new boy in school, Logan Bradley, is a practiced demon slayer-and he isn’t fazed by Paige’s propensity to chat with the dead. Suddenly, Paige is smack in the middle of a centuries-old battle between warlocks and demons, learning to fight with a magic sword so that she can defend herself. And if she makes one wrong move, she’ll be pulled into the Dark World, an alternate version of our world that’s overrun by demons-and she might never make it home.

Huge thank you to Harlequin Teen and Netgalley for this ARC!

River’s Review:

So I liked this book a lot more than I expected to! The blurb sounds a bit meh, but I was intrigued by the ghost aspect (and the cover is gorgeous!) so I thought I’d give it a shot. I LOVED Paige. I love sassy-smart girls and she fit the bill! Paige can see ghosts so when she stars talking to squirrels (who are standing near ghosts in the park) her parents freak and she gets help (drugs, therapy, etc) and labeled the school weird-o. But this doesn’t really deter Paige, she just deals with it, puts herself above the petty girls and boys that mock her, and sticks to her guns. Sure she doesn’t let her parents know that she’s talking to ghosts, but she doesn’t let it stop her from chatting with her ghosty BFF in the girls bathroom. 

This all comes to a head when some new kids show up… and they turn out to be demons. This was a really cool part of the story that I didn’t expect and was happy to have. I thought that Paige was going to get caught up in a love triangle with the funny-cute new boy (Logan) and the dark sexy new boy (Aiden) but nope! That didn’t happen. I loved that there was no love triangle at all. Even Ajax had potential for it, but nope. Didn’t happen. And the romance between Logan and Paige was really well done. Slow, sweet, and it felt real. 

Anyway, Paige turns out to be an important key to the war between the Dark World and Our World and the demons want her. Logan, who’s a demon hunter, vows to protect Paige and even teachers her how to fight and protect herself. She gets her own magic sword! I really liked this too. Often the girl doesn’t really learn how to fight, or if she does she’s not very good at it. So I really liked that Paige not only learned how to fight but she got her own weapon. 

I liked the demons in this story. I love it when an author makes the demons creative. The demons in this world are all attached to elements or strong emotions and they look like people (or can make themselves look like people) and they bleed different colors, have different abilities depend on their element, and when they die… they “go” in different ways… 

The only problem I really had with this was that it felt too long. I found myself falling into lulls at times and I’d start to skim a bit before I found something that caught my attention and then I was sucked back in. I also didn’t really FEEL anything when the big revels happened. Like, I knew I was supposed to be feeling something but I didn’t. So that fell a bit short. 

Overall this was good though, and Paige was a great MC. If you like paranormal or demon books then this will be right up your alley!