Realia – more teen magic, adventure and friendship in Noni’s second instalment

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, teen book reviews, Writing, Writing Thoughts

Alexandra Jennings is back for her second year at Akarnae Academy in the magical world of Medora that she stumbled into by mistake last year. The enemies are still out to get her, the professors to teach her lessons she never thought she’d need to learn, and her friends to support and surprise her along the way. We explore the world more, and understand a bit better what’s going on.

Here we jump straight back into the world and into adventure, with Alexandra once again in danger, in deep with her friends and fighting for what she believes is right. So much so that it hardly seemed like a separate book to the first one (and I’m having a little trouble separating them in my mind) and so, like the first, is basically just tremendous fun.

The Three Novels you should buy this year

Book Reviews, book shops, Book Thoughts, London, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Thoughts

As usual I’ve read a lot of books this year, but there are three that clearly stand out from the crowd. These are the ones to buy your friends for Christmas, that are worth getting in physical form and that I would love to talk about with you. If you’re looking for a book to buy, look no further!

Distance turned this story into a myth – Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie Holmberg

Book Reviews, children's books, teen book reviews

Maire is happy in her small village, baking treats infused with emotion, strength and other qualities that she’s not quite sure how they got in there. But when her village is captured by marauders and she is captured by the sinister, cruel and strangely infantile and familiar Allemas, she is forced to confront the provenance of her gift and what it means about her past. As she completes challenging jobs for Allemas and survives his violence, a strange ethereal being called Fyel appears and gradually the story comes out…

After reading The Paper Magician series I was really keen to read more by Charlie Holmberg. This was totally different and I didn’t enjoy it as much as the other, but in itself it was a worthwhile read. I think because there wasn’t that much described setting, and because Maire herself didn’t really know what was going it, it read a bit more like a fable than a normal story, but it was enjoyable for all that.

A meandering vintage murder – Death at the Seaside by Frances Brody

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, Uncategorized, Writing

Kate Shackleton just wants a break away from her busy life, and to see her goddaughter Felicity. But when she arrives in Whitby for her seaside getaway she finds a dead body, and Felicity has run away. Are the two events connected? Is everyone in the town who they seem to be? Is Alma, Felicity’s mother, really as naive as she seems, hiding behind her fortune telling? And where is Felicity’s father?

Interestingly, the cover of this book make me not keen, but some of my close reading friends loved it. In the end, it was a pretty accurate portrayal of the contents. A fun, fairly slow mystery enjoying a coastal setting, with a fun female sleuth. I definitely enjoyed this book, though I think it is probably better if you’ve read the others in the series, and I prefer a bit more of a driven plot.

Beautifully produced and very poetic but really not for me – The Moonstone by Sjon

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, Writing, Writing Thoughts

Màni Stein lives in Iceland and lives for film. Any time he doesn’t spend with his male clients he spends at the movies, until the Spanish flu hits, and the world around him begins to disintegrate. He drives for a doctor, and tries to make contact with the girl he can’t stop thinking about. 

This was a quick read, but for me that was probably the best thing about it. It was written as a tribute to a dead friend (or grandfather? Or something? Can’t remember) who I think was an historic gay man in Iceland, and as such contained lots and lots of graphic sex scenes, which I definitely prefer not to read.

I was literally scared to go downstairs whilst reading The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola

Book Reviews, literary london, London, Recommended, Uncategorized, Writing

1837. Sarah Gale is sentenced to hang for the death of her ex-partner’s new wife, but not everyone is convinced that she is guilty. Lawyer Edmund Fleetwood is set the challenge of revisiting the evidence and making an appeal. But an untrusting Sarah isn’t cooperative, and very few people are – and even the stories Fleetwood hears are twisted and confusing, and no one seems to be telling the truth, even within his own family…

Oh. My. Goodness. This was amazing! For some reason I wasn’t expecting much when I picked this up, but I enjoyed it immensely. And also got so scared that I asked my husband to come downstairs with me when I had been reading in the middle of the night. We were in desolate, pitch black Scotland, in a pitch black and creaky house. He said no. I just about coped. But the twisting and turning and tales told and lies and mysteries here were just fantastic!

Technically great but rather miserable – Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain by Barney Norris

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Thoughts

When a car crash sends a woman off her bike in Salisbury, five different people interact with the moment in different ways, bringing their experience of the city and of life. We meet Rita, flower stall holder and drug dealer, whose life has been disaster after disaster but who meets it with a sort of profane bravery, teenage Sam who is trying to cope with his Father’s illness and his first love, elderly George whose wife has just died and who was driving the car, lonely military wife Alison who misses her husband and feels she has missed her son, and security guard Liam who has returned to Salisbury for reasons he can’t quite explain. 

This book was clever. It was revealing; it got under the skin of totally different people, showed their thoughts and feelings and fears and loneliness. It exposed different ages, walks of life, experiences. It told first person tales through different voices and styles, coming from the central point of the crash and going backwards and forwards with each character, painting a picture of that moment and it’s significance. And it made me never, ever want to go to Salisbury.

The four things that make me keep a book forever.

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, London

When we moved to London, we threw out SO MUCH STUFF. We thought we’d be moving into a pocket-sized apartment, and planned accordingly. It was hugely refreshing, and though we ended up moving somewhere way bigger than we had expected it made me determined to keep throwing things out.

I’m a natural hoarder, so this was a big step for me – and particularly when it comes to books. I have always had stuffed shelves, but I resolved that from now on, particularly since I get so many books these days, I will only keep them if they fulfil one of these particular criteria:

More fun teen Egyptian melodrama in Recreated by Colleen Houck

Uncategorized, Writing Thoughts, teen book reviews, children's books

Lily has been trying to adjust to normal life after her gorgeous supernatural, ancient Egyptian boyfriend Amon disappeared to save the world from chaos, but it’s just not working. It comes as a slight relief when the god Anubis turns up at her grandmother’s house to say they need her help again – Amon is trapped in the Netherworld and Lily is the only one who can save him. But it’s not an easy process, and involves becoming a sphinx, a huge change that will affect Lily forever…

I knew exactly what to expect from this book having read and enjoyed the first book. A  action packed teen adventure packed with drama and spirit, plus a load of gorgeous gods and a plucky heroine. It didn’t disappoint, and I think I actually enjoyed this one more. It felt more confident, and focussed more on Lily as a character rather than Amon, which I really enjoyed.

I’m so glad I gave Jessie Burton another chance with her new book The Muse

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, Recommended, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Thoughts

In 1967, Odelle Bastion gets a new job in an art gallery, where the eccentric and enigmatic Marjorie Quick takes her under her wing. But when Odelle’s boyfriend brings a painting to be valued, Quick becomes even more mysterious, and Odelle becomes determined to discover the secrets. In 1936, Olive Schloss moves to rural Spain with her family, and they become involved with a local painter and his sister; and it is the events here that bring about the painting and it’s secrets.

This was an exceptionally pleasing book. There is a feeling I get a few pages into a book when I know it’s going to be a good one; supreme smugness and anticipation of enjoyment, a relaxing and trust that the author is going to be trustworthy to take me on a worthwhile, enjoyable and satisfying journey. Like sinking into a hot bath, or the first taste of a truly terrific meal. It really wasn’t long into this book that I felt this feeling wash over me, and settled back to enjoy myself.