Review | The Muse by Jessie Burton

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The Muse by Jessie Burton
Published by Pan Macmillan on June 30, 2016
Genre : Historical Fiction, Adult
Pages : 464

THE BLURB

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On a hot July day in 1967, Odelle Bastien climbs the stone steps of the Skelton gallery in London, knowing that her life is about to change forever. Having struggled to find her place in the city since she arrived from Trinidad five years ago, she has been offered a job as a typist under the tutelage of the glamorous and enigmatic Marjorie Quick. But though Quick takes Odelle into her confidence, and unlocks a potential she didn’t know she had, she remains a mystery – no more so than when a lost masterpiece with a secret history is delivered to the gallery.

The truth about the painting lies in 1936 and a large house in rural Spain, where Olive Schloss, the daughter of a renowned art dealer, is harbouring ambitions of her own. Into this fragile paradise come artist and revolutionary Isaac Robles and his half-sister Teresa, who immediately insinuate themselves into the Schloss family, with explosive and devastating consequences . . .

Seductive, exhilarating and suspenseful, The Muse is an unforgettable novel about aspiration and identity, love and obsession, authenticity and deception – a masterpiece from Jessie Burton, the million-copy bestselling author of The Miniaturist.

MY THOUGHTS

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: in the end, a piece of art only succeeds when its creator – to paraphrase Olive Schloss – possesses the belief that brings it into being.

Oh Saints! This book knows how to make me furious with its twists! The clues were there and I was confident I knew what’s going on and what’s coming. But when everything was laid bare in front of my eyes, this author still managed to draw some strong emotions out of me. There are novels wherein you dread the death of main characters. Here, I got so mad with the twist. Mad to the point that I wish for a painful death for a character or two.

The Muse is a riveting story about art and creativity, love and loss, oppression and resistance, loyalty and betrayals, and secrets… lots of them. I loved this book in a hundred different ways starting with that eye-catching cover that demands attention. And wonderfully, the beauty of it doesn’t end with the cover as it matches what is inside.  Read More »

Review | Yesternight by Cat Winters

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Yesternight by Cat Winters
Published by HarperCollins on October o4, 2016
Genre : Paranormal, Historical Fiction, Adult, Fantasy
Pages : 374

THE BLURB

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From the author of The Uninvited comes a haunting historical novel with a compelling mystery at its core. A young child psychologist steps off a train, her destination a foggy seaside town. There, she begins a journey causing her to question everything she believes about life, death, memories, and reincarnation.

In 1925, Alice Lind steps off a train in the rain-soaked coastal hamlet of Gordon Bay, Oregon. There, she expects to do nothing more difficult than administer IQ tests to a group of rural schoolchildren. A trained psychologist, Alice believes mysteries of the mind can be unlocked scientifically, but now her views are about to be challenged by one curious child.

Seven-year-old Janie O’Daire is a mathematical genius, which is surprising. But what is disturbing are the stories she tells: that her name was once Violet, she grew up in Kansas decades earlier, and she drowned at age nineteen. Alice delves into these stories, at first believing they’re no more than the product of the girl’s vast imagination. But, slowly, Alice comes to the realization that Janie might indeed be telling a strange truth.

Alice knows the investigation may endanger her already shaky professional reputation, and as a woman in a field dominated by men she has no room for mistakes. But she is unprepared for the ways it will illuminate terrifying mysteries within her own past, and in the process, irrevocably change her life.

MY THOUGHTS

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I’ve only read The Uninvited from Cat Winters and it was perfectly amazing—from the creepy plotlines to the carefully delineated characters. I instantly adored her and she became one of my favorite paranormal authors. Yesternight shares the same eerie concept as The Uninvited as well as Winters’ fluid writing style but it just wasn’t as captivating. The premise was good actually, but that ending left me unimpressed. For a story that started out solid and strong, this book had a rather sloppy and unsatisfying end to it. It was a good four star read until the final quarter of the book that felt like such a letdown. It gave me the feeling that the novel was ended in a rush. It’s as if the author built up all those nice things from an interesting foundation and just got lazy and want out.  Read More »

Review | The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Published by Penguin Random House on September 13, 2011
Genre : Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Pages : 400

THE BLURB

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The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

Within these nocturnal black-and-white striped tents awaits an utterly unique, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air.

Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves.

Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way–a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a “game” to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters. Unbeknownst to the players, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.

As the circus travels around the world, the feats of magic gain fantastical new heights with every stop. The game is well under way and the lives of all those involved–the eccentric circus owner, the elusive contortionist, the mystical fortune-teller, and a pair of red-headed twins born backstage among them–are swept up in a wake of spells and charms.

But when Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary, they begin to think of the game not as a competition but as a wonderful collaboration. With no knowledge of how the game must end, they innocently tumble headfirst into love. A deep, passionate, and magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

Their masters still pull the strings, however, and this unforeseen occurrence forces them to intervene with dangerous consequences, leaving the lives of everyone from the performers to the patrons hanging in the balance.

Both playful and seductive, The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern’s spell-casting debut, is a mesmerizing love story for the ages.

MY THOUGHTS

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“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”

Enchanting! The Night Circus is what you can call a breathe of fresh air. It is one of those books that you will simply fall in love with after barely thirty seconds of reading. This is a perfect breather for those who often read YA fantasy. There are no princes and princesses, no romantic love triangles, just a handful of mysterious magic.

“The finest of pleasures are always the unexpected ones.”

The story is very unique and it is so well-written: the perfect ingredients of a good book, I must say. Read More »

Review | The Dark Days Pact (Lady Helen #2) by Alison Goodman

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The Dark Days Pact (Lady Helen #2) by Alison Goodman
Published by Penguin Random House on January 31, 2017
Genre : Paranormal, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Pages : 496

THE BLURB

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June 1812. Just weeks after her catastrophic coming-out ball, Lady Helen Wrexhall—now disowned by her uncle—is a full member of the demon-hunting Dark Days Club. Her mentor, Lord Carlston, has arranged for Helen to spend the summer season in Brighton so that he can train her new Reclaimer powers. However, the long-term effects of Carlston’s Reclaimer work have taken hold, and his sanity is beginning to slip. At the same time, Carlston’s Dark Days Club colleague and nemesis will stop at nothing to bring Helen over to his side—and the Duke of Selburn is determined to marry her. The stakes are even higher for Helen as she struggles to become the warrior that everyone expects her to be.

MY THOUGHTS

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Here’s what I think Alison Goodman knows a lot about: she knows how to mix fact and fiction. She knows how to take her readers back in time. She knows how to end a story well. And she sure knows how to break your heart.

In trilogies, middle books tend to get the most pressure especially when its predecessor was pretty awesome. I’ve seen a lot of series that started out remarkably good only to get painfully boring in the second installment. Well, thank heavens that such wasn’t the case with this series! This is worth devouring! Read More »

Review | The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1) by Alison Goodman

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The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1) by Alison Goodman
Published by Penguin Random House on January 26, 2016
Pages: 482

THE BLURB

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London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

MY THOUGHTS

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Wow. This has been a very pleasant and satisfying read, and definitely has a potential to be an amazing series. The story takes place in London 1812. And it involves demons. Yaaas, demons! Those soul-sucking creatures that possesses humans and use their bodies to blend with everyone else. They remind me of The Stars Never Rise, but The Dark Days Club is fascinating in its own way.  Read More »

Review | And I Darken (The Conquerer’s Saga #1) by Kiersten White

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And I Darken (The Conquerer’s Saga #1) by Kiersten White
Published by Random House Children’s Books on June 28, 2016
Genres: Historical FictionYoung Adult
Pages: 475

THE BLURB

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No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend —and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against —and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

MY THOUGHTS

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First thought: If anything from this book ever happen to me I’d fucking darken too! Jeez, there’s too much angst and hate in this one. If I’m going to describe this book in one word, it would be dark —as the title claims.Read More »

Review | My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

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Title: My Lady Jane
Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Publisher: HarperCollins
Imprint: HarperTeen
Release Date: June 07, 2016
Type: Standalone
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 494

The Blurb-01

Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?

My Thoughts-01

This is silly but it’s… So. Much. Fun! I love this book simply because I couldn’t find a fault in it. It’s magnificently, wonderfully, astoundingly, perfect!

I haven’t read any alternate history book before, but after reading this I was so wowed, and I just knew this isn’t going to be the last time I’m picking up something from this genre. It turns out that the idea of “revising a bit of history” and later “throwing history out the window” worked for me just fine because sadly, history does need a little help in the “happily ever after” department.

At first I was a little skeptical, what with this book being put together by three different authors, probably with different writing styles. To my astonishment, the authors did a fantastic job in this one. The sprinkle of fiction over true events, the sarcastic commentaries, the hilarious banters, the comicality, all so flawlessly delivered. This left me grinning (all the time while reading), and laughing out loud, once, in public (despite my best efforts not to).

The setting takes us to Tudor England in 1553. There is war between Verities and Edians (humans who can shift into animal forms). The young King Edward VI is dying and named his bookish cousin Lady Jane Grey as successor to the throne after marrying her to Lord Gifford (call him G!). That’s when Jane’s life started turning from piles of books to discovery of betrayals, schemes, Edians, deaths, and true love.

Character building is fantastic in this jewel of a book. I actually felt something towards everybody, from the main characters down to the not so popular kennel master! Oh dear, I care about their ridiculous lives! I have deep love for Edward and Gracie. I can’t get enough of Gifford’s and Jane’s insanely entertaining banters. I felt grateful for Peter Bannister, and even Billingsley.

This is such a delightful read with a feel good ending. And it’s wrapped up pretty nicely. No threads left hanging, and everyone got what they deserved. I would recommend this to those who love reading light historical fiction with a little fantasy to it.

Five Star Rating