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 | This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab

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This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab
Published by HarperCollins on July 15, 2016
Genre : Paranormal, Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages : 427

THE BLURB

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Kate Harker wants to be as ruthless as her father. After five years and six boarding schools, she’s finally going home to prove that she can be.

August Flynn wants to be human. But he isn’t. He’s a monster, one that can steal souls with a song. He’s one of the three most powerful monsters in a city overrun with them. His own father’s secret weapon.

Their city is divided.

Their city is crumbling.

Kate and August are the only two who see both sides, the only two who could do something.

But how do you decide to be a hero or a villain when it’s hard to tell which is which?

MY THOUGHTS

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For the past few weeks, I’ve buried my face in a series of books about princes and princesses, castle politics, and scheming villains. This Savage Song has none of that which makes it a perfect breather. What it bears are Monsters!

“Monsters, monsters, big and small,
They’re gonna come and eat you all.
Corsai, Corsai, tooth and claw,
Shadow and bone will eat you raw.
Malchai, Malchai, sharp and sly,
Smile and bite and drink you dry.
Sunai, Sunai, eyes like coal,
Sing you a song and steal your soul.”

I’ve heard countless stories about monsters as a child, but it’s never a common one with Victoria Schwab. Her stories were always deliciously unique and just the right amount of creepy. An engrossing supernatural tale is what this is. The moment I started reading, I was completely absorbed and it was just impossible to set down.  Read More »

Review | The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles

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The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles
Published by Bloomsbury on February 01, 2017
Genre : Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages : 368

THE BLURB

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It’s been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who’s still reeling from her father’s shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors’ mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods—only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.

X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe’s evil attacker and others like him. X is forbidden from revealing himself to anyone other than his prey, but he casts aside the Lowlands’ rules for Zoe. As they learn more about their colliding worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future.

MY THOUGHTS

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The Edge of Everything is a fun combination of contemporary and fantasy. For me, it was a mix of ingredients that tasted good and a few that tasted bland. It has some elements that I find typical in the YA world but at the same time it also contains some unique elements that made the story a little intriguing. Jeff Giles’ depiction of hell in this book is one of the unique ones, daring his readers to reimagine the image of hell that they have in their mind. He skillfully combined the real world with the dark netherworld feels of the Lowlands —his version of hell run by hundreds of powerful lords —where the souls of unrepentant criminals were held.

The supernatural aspect of the book came to me as a pleasant surprise and we have that beautiful cover to blame for looking so contemporary-like. Read More »

Review | Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

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Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
Published by HarperCollins on January 24, 2017
Genre : Contemporary, Young Adult, Mystery & Thriller
Pages : 387

THE BLURB

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Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A white baby had died while under the care of a church-going black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn’t say.

Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn’t really “home”—no place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home.

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But who really knows the real Mary?

In this gritty and haunting debut, Tiffany D. Jackson explores the grey areas in our understanding of justice, family, and truth, and acknowledges the light and darkness alive in all of us.

MY THOUGHTS

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Tiffany D. Jackson presents a riveting thriller complete with family drama, complex relationships, deceit, and deeply buried truths, in her haunting debut novel, Allegedly. In nearly 400 pages, Jackson lets us into the life of Mary —an alleged baby killer —showed us the struggles she has to make to change her life for the better, and showed us just how messy life can be. She creates a realistic portrait of teenage life in its roughest form and it was painful to read. Allegedly is a disturbing story about how far a child could go to protect her mother, and later, what a mother is prepared to do to keep her child.  Read More »

Review | Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

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Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Published by Macmillan on February 07, 2017
Genre : Retelling, Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages : 436

THE BLURB

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All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

MY THOUGHTS

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Wintersong is one of those books that has such an addicting start that I gave it five stars right away. But as it go along, the story loses its flavor, the protagonist turns annoying and gets into my nerve, the mystery suddenly gets dull. Then I find my initial five stars falling off one by one.

The gripping elements in the first few chapters of this book easily vanished and replaced by endless talks of music. It would have been fine with me. After all our protagonist, Elisabeth, came from a family of musicians. But, long talks about music accompanied by Elisabeth’s constant thoughts about her insecurities, all written too poetically for my taste? I don’t think so. I love books written with lyrical prose but this is a bit too much. Music is in about 70% of this book and I feel like it was just wasted on me because although I sometimes listen to classical music I’m not all into it.  Read More »

Review | Reign of Shadows (Reign of Shadows #1) by Sophie Jordan

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Reign of Shadows (Reign of Shadows #1) by Sophie Jordan
Published by HarperCollins on February 09, 2016
Genre : Re-telling, Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages : 304

THE BLURB

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Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

MY THOUGHTS

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Fairytale retelling is one of those genres that I always have time for. So when a Rapunzel inspired story came out, mixed with terrifying monsters and perpetual darkness, and with a lovely cover you just can’t ignore, I knew I have to get my hands on that book and read it overnight. Sadly, I did not love the story as much as I love the cover. I like it for the fun read that it is. But I never really love it until that cruel ending.  
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Review | Caraval (Caraval #1) by Stephanie Garber

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Caraval (Caraval #1) by Stephanie Garber
Published by Macmillan on January 31, 2017
Genre : Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages : 407

THE BLURB

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Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

MY THOUGHTS

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Astounding! This feels like The Night Circus only grander, brighter, dreamier, and the romance —sweeter. I think it reminds me of The Night Circus because both promises an interesting kind of competition that involves magic but we don’t really see much of the competition in both books. Both have this strong, magical, feel within the grounds where the competitions were held but the resemblance between the two ends there. The plots and twists were very much different. The magic and the performances were even more magnificent in Caraval. The characters held more mysteries, and secrets, and unknown agendas. The plot lines were thicker and therefore much more intriguing. I loved every word of it!  Read More »

Review | Carve the Mark (Carve the Mark #1) by Veronica Roth

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Carve the Mark (Carve the Mark #1) by Veronica Roth
Published by HarperCollins on January 17, 2017
Genre : Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages : 468

THE BLURB

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Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power — something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is the son of a farmer and an oracle from the frozen nation-planet of Thuvhe. Protected by his unusual currentgift, Akos is generous in spirit, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get this brother out alive — no matter what the cost.

The Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, and the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. Will they help each other to survive, or will they destroy one another?
Carve the Mark is Veronica Roth’s stunning portrayal of the power of friendship — and love — in a galaxy filled with unexpected gifts.

MY THOUGHTS

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Veronica Roth takes us up in space in her second series which is a mix of sci-fi and fantasy. I am more of a fantasy reader than a sci-fi reader. Talks of space wars and space ships and all other science-y terms associated with it just doesn’t appeal to me that much. But I know what Star Wars is and I wouldn’t compare this book to it. This was set in outer space and there has been some travelling from one planet to another but that’s all there is for the sci-fi side. The rest is fantasy.  Read More »