The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

Oh my gosh I loved this book. I loved the drama, I loved the mythology, I loved the struggle of belief. I loved the intrigue, I loved the romance, and I loved the setting. I loved the internal dialogue, though sometimes I wanted to shake Twylla. I loved everything about this book, and I can’t wait to read the sequel.

First, I should let you read a synopsis from Amazon:

sineaterSeventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court. She’s the executioner. As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company. But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen. However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favour of a doomed love? Continue reading

By Royal Command and The Betrayal by Mary Hooper

So, I finished Mary Hooper’s “At the House of the Magician” series.

byroyalSynopsis from Amazon:

Lucy has become a firm fixture in the household of Dr Dee, a real-life figure who was court magician to Queen Elizabeth 1. Lucy, in return for saving the queen’s life, has been told that she is to work as a spy for Her Grace and that she is to remain with the Dee family and await further instruction …And then Lucy hears unexplained cries in the Dee house, and finds a young girl imprisoned there. What is Dr Dee doing? Lucy means to find out. A thrilling historical story, full of intrigue and royal plots and counter-plots, from the acclaimed Mary Hooper.

Okay, so I have to admit, this book wasn’t quite as interesting as the synopsis would lead. That storyline maybe takes up two chapters at the beginning of the book. The rest of it is Lucy being given a spying task – to watch one of QE1’s ladies and follow her. That was interesting, because in one of the events where she follows her, she flees down the river toward London and it was fun to hear the different places she was going through. This book felt a little weak, but again, it’s aimed at middle schoolers. Continue reading

At the House of the Magician by Mary Hooper

I remember reading a synopsis for this book a while ago, and then I completely forgot the title and tried searching for it desperately (it’s not listed on John Dee’s Wikipedia page!). I was so happy to come across it again, all thanks to my previous charity shop find (Fallen Grace)! I ordered the series so that I wouldn’t forget it again.

I had the privilege of studying under one of the leading John Dee scholars when I was doing my MA. I find John Dee to be fascinating. He was on the Crown’s payroll to try to turn lead into gold, and is best known for his speaking to angels and conjuring of spirits.

magicianFirst, a synopsis from Amazon:

Lucy has been forced to run away from home as she fears for her safety from her drunken father. She is taken on as a maid at the house of Dr Dee, court magician, upon whom Elizabeth I relies heavily, even down to advising the date of her coronation. The household is strange and sinister, and Lucy has a nose for intrigue …And she has more than enough to satisfy her: Lucy stumbles across a plot to assassinate the queen and has to find means to warn her…

Well, that was short and sweet, but it pretty much sums it up. I’m sure that this was written for middle schoolers. It’s not very long at all, the storyline is simple, and it’s educational. Continue reading

Me & Mr. J by Rachel McIntyre

Oh my GOD, you guys. Oh my god. This book.

I think I spent the complete day in the past.

Okay, not really, but let me tell you, this book does such an amazing job at portraying the 16-year-old female voice, it made me feel like I was back in high school again.

I gotta say, I picked this book up on a whim. I’m a sucker for forbidden romances. The Thorn Birds is my Bible and I ship Snape/Hermione. I have a weakness for May/September romance films featuring Audrey Hepburn and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

First, let me give you the idea of what I dove into yesterday:

memrjSynopsis from Amazon:

Lara’s life is far from perfect, but being an upbeat kind of person she saves her venting for her diary. It’s the only place she can let out her true feelings about the family dramas and hideous bullying she has to face every day.

And then a shining light comes out of the darkness – the new young and MALE teacher, Mr Jagger. The one person who takes Lara seriously and notices her potential. The one person who is kind to her. The one person who she falls madly and hopelessly in love with. The one person who cannot love her back … can he? Continue reading

The Bride’s Farewell by Meg Rosoff

I love charity shops, don’t you? They’re so full of treasures. You really never know what you’ll find. I walked into a Princess Alice when I first moved here and found a novel about Henry VIII with a Borders sticker on it – four years after they went out of business and in a completely different country!

Anyway, on my last expedition to Oxfam, I was really surprised to see this lovely little book tucked into the children’s hardcover section. It boasted that it was a Carnegie Medal Winner, and is pitched as “magical” and a “children’s novel for adults” (which I love – The Little Prince is my favorite). It was only £1, so I gave it a shot.

brides_farewell_ukSynopsis from Amazon:

On the morning of her wedding, Pell Ridley creeps out of bed in the dark, kisses her sisters goodbye and flees – determined to escape a future that offers nothing but hard work and sorrow. She takes the only thing that truly belongs to her: Jack, a white horse.

The road ahead is rich with longing, silence and secrets, and each encounter leads her closer to the untold story of her past. Then Pell meets a hunter, infuriating, mysterious and cold. Will he help her to find what she seeks?

Inside is a beautifully written, vivid coming-of-age tale. Like the synopsis states, we begin our story with Pell sneaking off in the middle of the night. She is confronted by her foster brother, Bean, who is mute, but demands to accompany her. They travel through the New Forest, reach Salisbury where Pell intends to find work, and eventually become separated. The rest of Pell’s journey is spent trying to find her lost brother and the horse that had been taken from her. Continue reading

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

So my first read of 2016 was “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell. I don’t know why this wasn’t my first review!

When I worked at Target, I remember seeing this book on the shelf and picking it up and storing away in my memory bank for later. Though I wanted to purchase it, there was no way I could because I was actually trying to get rid of a load of books and save money for grad school. Then I got a new job and had even less time to read (6 AM to 6:30 PM days, anyone?) and spent every available moment Skyping with my husband-to-be, so I didn’t read much then, either. Anything I read had to be on my kindle because I couldn’t take many books overseas with me.

Then I got here and had loads of university reading and a dissertation to do, and NOW I finally have the free time to read it! I’ve waited three years to read this book!

It was definitely worth the wait. I haven’t had a chance to read any of Rainbow Rowell’s other stuff, but I have been converted.

fangirlSynopsis from Amazon:

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair any more – she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not so easy for Cath. She’s horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she’s experienced in real life.

Without Wren Cath is completely on her own and totally outside her comfort zone. She’s got a surly room-mate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

Now Cath has to decide whether she’s ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she’s realizing that there’s more to learn about love than she ever thought possible . . . Continue reading

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

ncircusToday I will be reviewing The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, a book that I have always lusted after reading but didn’t have the opportunity to until my mother-in-law was cleaning out a cabinet and saw it and said “Oh, I think you’d like this!” I was so excited that I finally had the chance to read it! I vaguely knew that it was about two rival magicians, and there was a circus, but not much else.

Before you dive in, I must let you know: the narrative is non-linear and concerns several different characters. For two chapters you may read about Marco, another chapter will throw you fifteen years ahead and will concern Bailey, then you will travel back and read about Celia for another three, then a clockmaker for another one, so you must pay attention to the chapter headings! Don’t be like me and have to skip back a few chapters just to reorient yourself. Though, don’t let this deter you! All of the characters are easily recognizable.

So, this book. This book is beautifully crafted! It is like a giant chess game. Each chapter is a piece moving, and you begin to see how the previous moves effect the final outcome. Though this book concerns Celia and Marco and the magic competition they are in, the real main character is the circus itself. Continue reading

The Willoughby Book Club – Review of Service

Today I am going to be reviewing The Willoughby Book Club! The Willoughy Book Club is a service that you can subscribe to that will tailor reads to your preferences, and send a selection they think you will love every month.

I first learned about The Willoughby Book Club from my husband, who told me to expect a package in the post. He had purchased it for me because I just completed writing a 16,000-word dissertation and received my Master’s Degree. It was such an amazing gift as I had just done an intensive year of reading, neglecting any sort of reading for pleasure.

From what I understand, he told them what kind of books I liked (he said I liked fantastical, magical type stuff with an element of fairy tale, but that I also loved historical fiction, and classics like Jane Eyre) and included a message, and it was up to them to choose the books! He got me a three-month subscription, which meant that I would receive a hand-chosen book at the beginning of the next three months. Continue reading