Book Review | The Master Magician by Charlie N Holmberg

This review contains spoilers of book 1, The Paper Magician, and book 2, The Glass Magician. Click the links to read my reviews! 

23485372While all seems set for Ceony to complete her apprenticeship and pass her upcoming final magician’s exam, life quickly becomes complicated. To avoid favoritism, Emery sends her to another paper magician for testing, a Folder who despises Emery and cares even less for his apprentice. To make matters worse, a murderous criminal from Ceony’s past escapes imprisonment. Now she must track the power-hungry convict across England before he can take his revenge. With her life and loved ones hanging in the balance, Ceony must face a criminal who wields the one magic that she does not, and it may prove more powerful than all her skills combined. – from Goodreads 

Whilst my review of the second book in the series was pretty scathing, I definitely enjoyed the final book of this trilogy far more… although there were still a lot of things that let it down. Continue reading “Book Review | The Master Magician by Charlie N Holmberg”

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Book Review | The Glass Magician by Charlie N Holmberg

Read my review of The Paper Magician, book one in the series! This review contains spoilers of book 1.

22341276After her near-death experiences at the hands of Excisioner, Lira, apprentice Folder Ceony Twill is still learning, and still fighting off her growing affection for her teacher, Emery Thane. When two new threats appear on her streets, targeting Ceony and those she holds most dear, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Magic, mystery, and danger all lurk within the world Ceony has chosen to inhabit.

Despite really enjoying the first book in the series, this one was a bit of a let-down. And although I normally write reviews in sentences, paragraphs, and even with actual punctuation, I’m just going to bullet-point what went wrong for me:

Continue reading “Book Review | The Glass Magician by Charlie N Holmberg”

Book Review | Friendship Fails of Emma Nash by Chloe Seager

39005618Following her dating disasters, Emma Nash is back at it with her blogging. But when her best friend Steph seems to prefer her boyfriend to her, and Emma is left alone more often than she wants, she goes on a mission to try and make some more friends. In true Emma style, however, it rarely (read: never) goes to plan… 

Editing Emma was one of the funniest books I’ve ever read in my life, and book two in Seager’s series certainly did not disappoint!

Emma is a teenage girl with a private blog that she posts basically everything on – it’s kind of like a private Twitter account (I know you have one, own up) but obviously a lot more can be written. It’s such a good way to write a book, making it very easy to keep up with and understand, and it gives it such a personalised, private way of writing that is uncomfortable when you just have the first person perspective. Continue reading “Book Review | Friendship Fails of Emma Nash by Chloe Seager”

Book Review | Save the Date by Morgan Matson

34839193For Charlie Grant, this weekend is way more than just her big sister’s wedding: it’s the first time in years that she and her siblings will be under the same roof. Desperate for one last, perfect weekend before their house is sold, Charlie focuses on trying to save every problem that goes wrong. A neighbour bent on sabotage, an alarm that won’t stop ringing, an unexpected dog turning up, the groom’s missing tuxedo… and that’s only the beginning. In one chaotic weekend, Charlie will learn more about her family than she thought, and realise that, sometimes, living in the past means missing out on the future. 

If I had to sum up this book in three words, it would be messy family fun. This book was just so enjoyable to read!

Watching everything go wrong in the wedding gave me a huge sense of Schedenfraude – it was both hideous and hilarious reading about everything going wrong all the time! I think that a wedding, where we all know that everything pulls together in the end, was the perfect set up for this huge, messy family.

Charlie is a teenager in her last summer before university – although she hasn’t exactly decided where she wants to go yet. I related so much when she said that she wasn’t really that bothered about university – don’t get me wrong, I love where I am now, but if you’d told 16 year old me how happy I’d be, I would’ve laughed. I feel like I relate to Charlie so much! I also loved how fiercely protective she was of her family, but the thing I liked most was that, even though the book only takes place over three days (plus an epilogue), she had so much character development.

The “romance” wasn’t really a romance, which I absolutely adored – normally in a book like this, the character would fall in love in a matter of days. But it was just so realistic! The guy was cute, and I think that Matson played it really well between the both of them.

I also loved how Matson had cameos from her other novels! I’ve only read The Unexpected Everything, and when one of the characters from there appeared in this book, I squealed a little! I LOVE books that exist in the same universe but are disconnected from one another, and it was so well done, so casual! If you me to go all literature degree reading on you, I would say how it shows that you are the protagonist in your own story, but only a background character in other people’s etc. etc., but let’s not get into that right now…!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Save the Date and would definitely recommend it. I loved the characters, the location, and the plot, and although it was fun and lighthearted it was also realistic and dealt with actual real-world issues. I would love to pick up more of Morgan Matson’s novels in the future!

Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads
Source: bought from Waterstones


If you liked this, you might also enjoy… To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (film review)

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Book Series Review | Rebel of the Sands trilogy by Alwyn Hamilton

This review will be SPOILER-FREE of all three books, but I wanted to share my thoughts on the entire series. I read them so close together, I actually think I’d have a hard time separating them into separate books! There will be a (large) spoiler paragraph towards the end, mainly probably talking about my bae, Sam. ❤

26047310Dustwalk is a deadly, unforgiving town, and Amani would do anything to escape it. When a stranger gives her that chance, she takes it without second thoughts. But dangerous creatures lurk in the night, the handsome stranger she escaped with isn’t all he seems, and Amani may be hurtling towards something bigger than she ever imagined she could be apart of. 

It took me a while to get into the first book – probably about 50 or 100 pages – but once I did, there was no way I was putting this trilogy down.

The first book had so much rich world-building, and I think that this brought it down a little. There was a lot of info-dumping of the myths, and I actually think that Hamilton could write and publish a separate book of all of the myths of Amani’s world. I would definitely read it, because she’s created some truly interesting stories, and they sound so realistic, too, as if they could be in any mythology in our world.

31574408Like I said, this series was a slow start. I’d tried to read it a couple of times before, but kept putting it down because I just wasn’t gripped at all. The writing style wasn’t particularly unfriendly, but there just seemed to be no real hook until Jin arrived. (Side note: JIN I LOVE YOU FOREVER.)

The actual story line can’t be taken much further than the first book without major spoilers, but I will tell you that it’s concerned with a Rebel Prince and a civil war. I think that civil war – which is what this boils down to – is something that happens surprisingly often, and so it was a great plot line for a fantasy world, linking it to our own real world.

Hamilton’s writing is refreshing because, and this isn’t an insult, it’s quite simple. There are no long metaphors, particularly, or epithets, and the lexis she chooses is simplistic but powerful enough that it evokes a really strong sense of location in the reader. I wanted to feel the sand between my toes, a sheema across my face, and a gun in my hands.

35406534The characters were just brilliant, because they’re all so different. I think that Hamilton showed really realistic relationships and connections – Amani and Jin are the typical YA couple, but even then they had a relatively slow-burn relationship. But when you’re in an environment as harsh as Amani’s, and you’ve saved each other’s lives a couple of times, it’s understandable that you form a strong connection.

ALSO, there is quite a large time jump between books 1 and 2 – a year. I think that this really helped move the characters along, establish the war in a lot more detail, and also helped with characters and their romantic relationships, and friendships. I really dislike it when books have unrealistic timelines, ie ones that seem to happy too quickly to be conceivable. Hamilton did a great job with the timescale in this series, I think.

Jin and Ahmed, his brother, had such a great relationship too, because it was a real sibling relationship, but with the added power imbalance too. I won’t say why they had this power imbalance (you work it out pretty quickly), but there were other really strong sibling relationships in this series as well. It’s a nice refreshing relief to know that not every character has a romantic partner (coughthroneofglasscough). AND FRIENDSHIPS! Can we talk about Amani and Shazad? Their friendship was my all time favourite thing.

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An example of the gorgeous new covers. I read the originals, so decided to share those in this review, but these are stunning and evoke a lot more of the books, I think!

Okay so this is going to be the spoiler paragraph, for ALL THREE BOOKS! Firstly, let’s discuss my favourite character – Sam. I don’t know if it’s because I have a weakness for men named Sam (don’t ask) or because he was just so broken and cute and clever and questioning himself and his morality or… wait, no, it’s because of those. I wish so hard that he’d survived the final book, and gone on to live a really happy life with Shazad! Secondly, speaking of Sam’s death, let’s talk about others. Hamilton didn’t mince the deaths in this book, and yes, it was cliche with Amani and Jin coming back, but I actually kinda liked it. I liked that it showed the Djinn, god-like creatures, had some of the humanity they breathed into the models of people they created in their own likeness.

The ending of this trilogy was so well put together that it a) brought tears to my eyes and b) has inspired me so much. I would love to write a trilogy like this, and the happiness that this series brings me is immense! I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s my favourite trilogy of all time, but it’s definitely staying on my bookshelf, and I’ve recommended it so much since finishing it a couple of weeks ago.

If you haven’t read Rebel of the Sands yet, I would highly recommend picking it up, and if you’re unsure about continuing the series, take my guarantee that books 2 & 3 are way better. I really hope that you enjoy this series as much as I do if you choose to read it!

Ratings: Book 1: 3.5/5 ; book 2: 5/5 ; book 3: 5/5

Goodreads book 1 ; book 2 ; book 3
Source: Book 1 bought from Waterstones, books 2 & 3 from Amazon


If you enjoyed this series, you may also enjoy… The Young Elites by Marie Lu

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Book Review | Howards End by EM Forster

15822373Revolving around the theme of “Only Connect”, Howards End concerns love, lies, death, and living. From the feisty Schlegel sisters, Helen and Margaret, to the upper-class Wilcoxes, Howards End also sees to the struggling Basts amidst discussions of social convention, wealth, charity, and relationships. In this turn-of-the-century novel, widely regarded as Forster’s best, Margaret is our strong-willed, independent protagonist, who refuses to let her husband’s smugness and closed-mindedness affect her own life. 

This book is unequivocally English. Unlike Forster’s other novellas I have read (A Room With a View and Where Angels Fear To Tread) which both take place predominantly in Europe, Howards End takes place entirely in England, mostly in the rolling hills of the south, where I live.

I really loved the Schlegel sisters. For 1910, when this book was written, they would be seen as incredibly forward-thinking. Something I do love about EM Forster is his writing of women, because it’s not like the modern-day romance writer. Forster writes about women as real people, and Margaret and Helen have some of the most interesting, thought-provoking, and life-changing parts in the book. They are both catalysts for many of the events, and even in marriage, when a woman would be expected to submit to her husband, Margaret frequently stands her own ground and knows when she should and shouldn’t forgive her husband for doing something wrong.

The actual story, aside from ongoing thread of “who will inherit Howards End?” wasn’t entirely interesting, but something that carries Forster’s novels for me is the beautiful description. Whenever I open one of his books, I feel like I’ve jumped into the pages. The whole world melts away, and I just live the literature.

It may help that I actually live where much of the novel is set. The Schlegel sisters are from London, which was completely different in the turn of the century than now, but they often travel to Swanage, where I spent many summers, and to Hertfordshire and around the South Downs in general. I’ve read some criticism of the book that it wasn’t “universal” enough (whatever that means; when is a book ever “universal”?!) but for me, it was. It was like I’m standing on the same soil, just 100 years ago.

Whilst the main question of the story is “who will inherit Howards End?”, when we view the larger picture we end up asking, “Who will inherit England?” Forster uses three families, representing three different tiers of class in 1900s England – upper, middle, and working, and in many books, you’d expect these classes to remain separate. However, Forster mingles them with intermarriage and interbreeding. By the end of the novel, within the marriages and births and deaths, there are no clear cut “classes”; no one clear cut class ready to inherit Howards End – or England, as the metaphor goes.

I thoroughly enjoyed Howards End. It’s a book that I may not remember the exact story line of, but I am satisfied when I turn the last page.

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads
Source: Bought from Waterstones

Book Review | Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

36531619It’s the final year at high school, and whilst drummer Leah is usually pretty good at hitting the beat, this time she’s decidedly… off. Despite having a large group of friends, she feels like the anomaly, and even though her best friend, Simon, is openly out, she’s too afraid to tell him her own sexuality. With university around the corner, Leah feels her friendship group begin to fracture, and struggles to figure out how to fix it.

To begin with, I would just like to thank Becky Albertalli because never ever have I read a character who I relate to as much as I relate to Leah Burke.

A few reviews I’ve read said that Leah’s abrasive personality hindered their enjoyment of the book, but she was just so similar to me that I really felt it. Her torment over going to uni, feeling like a constant anomaly, her fatness, her worrying about her friends and family and feeling like she shouldn’t get involved with anything, thinking that wherever she goes she’s always the extra, and especially her avoiding text messages on the constant… yeah, did I just describe myself or Leah Burke?

Some things that Leah (and, indeed, other characters) said and did a lot of people have been damning her for, but do you want to know why I’m praising her for it? Because it is human. Leah made mistakes, she withhold information because she was scared, and she is one of the only characters I think I have ever read who actually acted as a real person. ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR BECKY ALBERTALLI PLEASE AND THANK YOU.

For me, the plot was kind of the sideline in this book, because I was so distracted by Leah and my fave, SIMON! Simon is the main character in Simon vs the Homo-Sapiens Agenda, and honestly it was so great to read about him again. He and Bram are SO! FRICKIN! CUTE! I love. (I also love Simon saying “I’m shook” at the climax of the book. It just made me laugh so much.)

The plot was… predictable. Sorry! I called it! I was kinda hoping that Becky would pull the rug from under us and change how I thought it was going to, but it was just so damn predictable and let’s just say that it never happens that way in real life. I was kinda mad, kinda happy. Overall, a bit confused.

This book was such a cutesy, summery read (although the majority of it is set in March??) and I’m really glad I read it. I wish there had been a bit more about fatness in it, because Leah has such great body positivity and I would’ve loved to have read more about that, but I really enjoyed it overall. Despite loving Leah, there wasn’t quite enough to push the book to 5/5, but I’ll definitely give it 4/5 and a place back on my shelf! Also… I desperately need to reread Simon Vs. Like, now.

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads
Source: bought from… Waterstones? I think.


If you liked this, you might also enjoy… The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

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Film Review | To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

Image result for to all the boys i've loved beforeBased on the book with the same name by Jenny Han, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before hit Netflix on Aug 17. I was super excited to watch it, having loved the book, and was not disappointed: it definitely lived up to my expectations!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before follows Lara Jean, who writes love letters to all of the boys she’s crushed on. There are five in total, and they’re one of her most important possessions, kept hidden in a box with a bow. They’ll never be read by anyone but LJ… until they all, somehow, get sent.

The film is easy to get along with, and pretty much the nightmare of everyone who’s written a letter that should never have been sent but was (fun fact, friends: this has actually happened to me. *sigh*).

It’s cutesy, with pinks and greens its springish aesthetic, and the typical cast of teenage film characters: the main girl who’s happily unpopular but thrust into the spotlight; the jock who’s actually a nice guy; the mean girl who used to be her best friend; her new best friend who’s indie and owns it; the supportive, well-meaning but not always doing it right family; and the guy next door.

Phew. But, although these are all so frickin’ tropey, only “the mean girl who used to be her best friend” felt really forced and fake to me, so the scriptwriters obviously did something right. I knew that I was watching tropes come to life on film… but it really didn’t feel like it. It feels like these characters are all the same as you’ve seen before, but actually feeling real (for once).

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Lara Jean is one of my favourite characters, because she’s just so damn relatable. A lot of critics have rated this lower because it’s a teen film, but that’s why I love it – teenagers like Lara Jean are figuring themselves out, making mistakes and having fun. She’s such a feisty character, constantly underestimated, and discusses racism, grief, and sexism in the film so, so well. I really adore her!

Peter Kalinsky is an excellent matching character (where can I find myself a Peter Kalinsky??) and whilst the slow-burning chemistry between the two characters on screen felt a little forced and fake in places, I still enjoyed the romance.

I think that what I really love about To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is that it’s a story that isn’t out of place in the real world. It isn’t like The DUFF for example, where the romance just wasn’t a-happening, and the characters don’t do particularly remarkable things or hold information back unnecessarily. Lara Jean is questioned for not just sitting down and talking to the boys, and for keeping the love letters back, which never happens in a fictional story! It’s just a story that could be based in your secondary school or college, and unless you were one of the four or five main characters, the story would probably pass you by and it might just be a piece of gossip that you hear. There’s no declarations, nothing that makes you roll your eyes and think “that’s lovely and all, but it’d never happen”. It’s just so believable.

Overall, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a cutesy, happy, romantic teenage film with unexpected letters as it’s turning point. I will give it 4.5/5 and would definitely recommend both the film and the book.

in favour of rereading

You close the book, set it aside. Lean back in your chair. Perhaps you take a sip of your cold tea, spit it back into the mug. Perhaps you whisper, “Wow,” to yourself.

You hop onto social media, Tweet, Instagram, blog your love for this new favourite book. You rave about it, know that it’s one that will come up in conversations.

And then you put it onto your shelf, and don’t pick it up again.

Well, friends, here’s my vote: wait a few months, perhaps, and then stroke the spine with a familiar finger and take it from the shelf. Snuggle into a chair, and crack open that first page once more.

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Rereading is like falling back into conversation with an old best friend. It feels as natural and comforting as collapsing into bed after a long day on your feet. It’s drinking a cold glass of water and feeling the liquid make its way to your stomach.

I’ve only recently started rereading books, and I don’t know why I ever stopped. I used to do it all the time as a child, and then consumerism and the feeling, the need, to constantly read new books instead of relishing in the old ones I already love.

You return to a favourite coffee shop time and again, and drink the same mug of coffee time and again, so why not revisit your favourite books in the same manner? When you drink that coffee, you might look up and notice a painting on the wall you didn’t see before, or a new person sat in the chair adjacent to yours. It’s the same when rereading a book. You think you know everything? Think again.

Book lovers, I would like to challenge you to try and reread an old favourite once a month. Take time out of the competition to always read more, and return to an old friend who’s always waiting for you on the shelf.

Until the next time,

Hannah

Book Review | Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (Poirot #8)

34066636A victim found stabbed multiple times. At least twelve suspects. And a detective who has to prove his worth to solve one of his most cunning cases. 

I am slowly falling in love with Agatha Christie, and I am 100% here for it. This was my second Poirot novel (although I don’t actually remember the first one I read so I really need to reread it), and I loved it.

Firstly, I love trains. Bizarre statement in any other situation, perhaps, but not when we’re discussing a book set on a train. I love old-fashioned trains, and it would be awesome if I could take a train like the Orient Express! So, the setting was, for me, truly brilliant. I was at home in the setting, so was able to really settle into the narrative and the characters.

The murder was so brilliant, and of course I was trying to work it out the whole way through (I was half right, okay!). Locked room murders are always so interesting. I think setting a murder in such a setting – where everyone is forced to be together – is really a brilliant move, as it raises the stakes for the possibility of another murder to take place, if the murderer is still on board.

Poirot is such a fantastic character. I think he’s hilarious, really witty and of course he’s so intelligent it hurts. Some of the clues I think I picked up on, but how Agatha Christie invented such a character… well, I would have loved to have met her. *Ahem* that’s by the by.

The resolution was far and away my favourite part. I won’t give any spoilers, but reading it I could feel my heart rate accelerating, and after putting it down I just had to say, “Wow,” softly to myself. I was – and still am – completely in awe of Christie, always but especially so in this novel. Her writing is masterful, and her murders even more so. I think that this book was also really human in its acting, adding to the brilliant climax and resolution, which isn’t something you often get in murder mysteries.

Overall, it’s easy to see why this is one of Christie’s most loved novels, and one of her best. I’m planning on starting at the beginning of her novels and working my way through, but I’m so glad I read Murder on the Orient Express because I was completely blown away, and definitely have a new favourite novel.

Rating: 5/5

Goodreads
Source: movie tie-in cover present from my mum (thanks, mum!)


If you liked this, you might also like… Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens. [review]

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