Tag Archives: parallel worlds

Late to the Party ARC Review – A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic by Lisa Papademetriou

24585386Title: A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic

Author:  Lisa Papademetriou

Rating:  ★★★★

Synopsis: Kai and Leila are both finally having an adventure. For Leila, that means a globe-crossing journey to visit family in Pakistan for the summer; for Kai, it means being stuck with her crazy great-aunt in Texas while her mom looks for a job. In each of their bedrooms, they discover a copy of a blank, old book called The Exquisite Corpse. Kai writes three words on the first page—and suddenly, they magically appear in Leila’s copy on the other side of the planet. Kai’s words are soon followed by line after line of the long-ago, romantic tale of Ralph T. Flabbergast and his forever-love, Edwina Pickle. As the two take turns writing, the tale unfolds, connecting both girls to each other, and to the past, in a way they never could have imagined.

Huge thank you to Harper Collins Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

This book got me through a rough patch, let me tell you. Being trapped in the hospital waiting on my very ill mother, I needed a book that I could smile my way through, and A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic actually fit the bill. While it has it’s emotional moments, this was one of those books that just had so much charm and personality, making it compulsively readable.

While this book is written in both Leila and Kai’s perspectives, my actually favourite parts in the novel came in the form of The Exquisite Corpse, the book the girls use to write back and forth to each other. I loved how imaginative this story is, and how on point a lot of the humour is. The book talks back! It has OPINIONS! There’s just so much to love about the humour in this book, and I may have laughed out loud more than once reading this book.

Funny enough though, I loved the way this book is written. It’s very fourth wall breaking and cheeky. It’s as though the characters know, but don’t know what is actually going on and it makes for a charming narrative. I also loved it’s approach to integrating cultures (though to be fair, I found Leila to be the more interesting of the two heroines, Kai’s chapters didn’t interest me as much, nor did I find them as strong, except for Doodle who was perfect). I felt as though I was learning so much about the girl’s home lives and how they view the world around them.

A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic soars with imagination and is great for readers who love to laugh and be taken out of their seats and transported to somewhere both different yet familiar. There’s fantastic and charming characters, and while this book is short, it packs a sharp punch in terms of its whimsical nature. This is definitely a must read for middle grade lovers, and younger readers who love letting their imaginations soar to crazy places.

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ARC Review – A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows FinalTitle: A Gathering of Shadows  (Shades of Magic #2)

Author:  V.E Schwab

Rating:  ★★★★★

Synopsis: Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London. In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I devoured A Darker Shade of Magic when it released last year. I got completely sucked into the worlds that Schwab had crafted, and adored the cast of characters she created. Victoria Schwab has a knack for great characters, interesting world-building, and her books offer so much tension and intrigue that it’s hard not to love them. A Gathering of Shadows is no different.

Obviously, this book is a sequel and definitely requires that you have read A Darker Shade of Magic. This book occurs four months after the main events of ADSOM, and basically the book takes off from there. Kell and Rhy are in new positions, Lila’s taken up a life on the sea, and then there’s a magic tournament and a whole lot of other shenanigans. A lot of the new characters that are introduced in this novel are fantastic as well, and I quite enjoyed reading their stories. I’m interested to see where Schwab will take them in the next book since some of their narratives felt a unfinished.

I feel like reviewing a sequel is difficult, because at the end of the day, you don’t want to give away any spoilers for those who have yet to read the first book. I think if you love character driven stories full of wonder and enchantment, then A Darker Shade of Magic is sure to delight. A Gathering of Shadows is a worthy sequel that offers fantastic development of Schwab’s world and her characters. The ending left me quite surprised, and I can only hope that the sequel answers more questions that have presented themselves in this novel.

Basically what I am saying is: I need the next book now.

ARC Review – Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley

25818163Title:  Worlds of Ink and Shadow

Author: Lena Coakley

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings have always been inseparable. After all, nothing can bond four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage out on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from their strict upbringing, actually transporting them into their created worlds: the glittering Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as their characters—the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna—refuse to let them go.

Gorgeously written and based on the Brontës’ juvenilia, Worlds of Ink & Shadow brings to life one of history’s most celebrated literary families.

Huge thank you to Harper Collins Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Back in the summer of 2015, I had the pleasure attending the Harper Collins’ Frenzy event. The event’s guest of honour was Lena Coakley, and she was there to promote and share Worlds of Ink and Shadow with all the bloggers in attendance.

I was smitten with the premise. While I am not the biggest Brontes fan (I am very team Anne though!), something about this story sounded really amazing and kind of crazy at the same time. After chatting with Lena a bit, she explained that she had done an intense amount of research for this novel, and after reading it, it truly shows.

This book is about imagination and the way in which the Brontes’ in a lot of ways, lived in their own minds while crafting some of their childhood characters. It does make for a weird, almost meta reading experience, but I found myself really enjoying this aspect of the novel. Sometimes the switch in perspective can make this book a tad difficult to read, but I enjoyed the creative license that Coakley took with the siblings and the worlds that they dreamed of.

I think part of why I also enjoyed this novel may be because I’m not a huge Brontes fan. I admittedly didn’t like Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre, and I only knew snippets of their lives based on what I studied in my literature courses. I think because I’m not a fan of the Brontes core works, it made me appreciate them more as people when reading this novel.

The way in which the worlds and fantasy blend together in this book though, it’s truly magical. Coakley’s writing is lovely, and while the concepts feel challenging at times, I really enjoyed the way in which she made me character about this family and their characters. I loved Rogue, and Anne was such a Grumpy Gus at times in this story (yet she cares about her siblings. A lot.) Having the worlds bleeding together is such an interesting concept, and while it’s been done before, I liked that Coakley blurred the lines between reality and fantasy, making it difficult to distinguish.

I really enjoyed reading Worlds of Ink and Shadow. While I had the odd moment of having to reread bits to make sure I understood what was happening, I loved the ride. If you have any invested interest in the Brontes or you just want to read something where fact and fiction feel obscured, this is a book you may want to put on your radar.

ARC Review – A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

20877332Title: A Thousand Pieces of You

Author: Claudia Gray 

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

Huge thank you to HarperTeen and Edelweiss for this ARC!

River’s Review:

Well that was a wild ride! I actually wasn’t expecting too much out of this because I wasn’t the biggest fan of Gray’s vampire books, but this was quite well done. There’s always the chance that things will just sound wayyyyy too ‘made up’ when it comes to books like this that have a lot of, well, made up tech, but this didn’t seem too out there. I kept picturing ‘Fringe’ (miss that show!) and just letting things flow. I LOVED all the science-y stuff (if you don’t know, my husband is a scientist –AI / computer science– and it was really fun and easy for me to connect to that part of the story.

I really liked the worlds that we got to visit in this and in those parts it did feel a bit Cloud Atlas-y (at least the movie, I never read the book) and I LOVED the worlds. Super high-tech London, super low-tech Russia, UNDER THE FREAKING SEA… they were all really fun.

The romance was okay for me, but I’m never a huge fan of love triangles and I found Paul to be kinda boring at times. I didn’t see the twist coming though, so that was nice. And the writing was really pretty. I also loved the themes of family and friends in here.

Overall a pretty solid book, just not enough UMPH in it to make me have ALL the feels so that’s why it’s at a nice 4 instead of a 5.