Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow | Book Review

9780734418074A breathtaking, enchanting new series by debut Australian author Jessica Townsend, about a cursed girl who escapes death and finds herself in a magical world – but is then tested beyond her wildest imagination.

Morrigan Crow is cursed. Born on an unlucky day, she is blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks – and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on Eventide.

But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.

It’s there that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city’s most prestigious organisation: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart. Except for Morrigan, who doesn’t seem to have any special talent at all.

To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests – or she’ll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.

+++ Image and blurb from Hachette Australia website+++

4.25 Go Boldly Stars!

Did I read this book in less than 24 hours?

Yes. Yes, I did.

Was I pleasantly surprised?

Yes. While it didn’t touch Harry Potter’s place in my heart (as it has been compared to that glorious series), it did possess a charm of its own. The writing was engaging and lyrical, beautifully depicting the mad world of Nevermoor, without being stuck in the description and kept the action flowing effortlessly.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the characters, diverse and unique, they quickly enchanted me and I very much wanted to be their friend or at least a well-known guest of the Deucalion. Morrigan Crow’s character development was a little weak at times – as she is clearly a worrier – but fits well into the narrative as her future is unknown (and not just to her…).

However, a few hours after finishing the book I am craving more Nevermoor. Jessica Townsend has created a beautiful world where everyone can delight in the abstract and wonderful. Luckily for us, this is a sparkling debut and the author has promised us two more books, if not an entire series of nine, each I hope exploring further into this wundrous world.

Would I recommend this book?

Yes. It is well written and would appeal to a large age range of readers – from well-read eight-year-olds to anyone with an active sense of adventure (warning: the puns and jokes are aged for a younger audience and I did not derive as much pleasure from them than a younger read may).

Slated for worldwide release, you can find Nevermoor on the shelves in your local bookstore from 10th October in Australia, 12th October in the UK, and 31st October in USA/Canada. There are no publication dates yet for translated editions but I hope you can get your hands on a copy soon.

 

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Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman | Book Review

London, April 1812. Lady Helen Wrexhall is set to make her debut at the court of Queen Charlotte and officially step into polite Regency society and the marriage mart. Little does Helen know that step will take her from the opulent drawing rooms of Mayfair and the bright lights of Vauxhall Gardens into a shadowy world of missing housemaids and demonic conspiracies.

Standing between those two worlds is Lord Carlston, a man of ruined reputation and brusque manners. He believes Helen has a destiny beyond the ballroom; a sacred and secret duty. Helen is not so sure, especially when she discovers that nothing around her is quite as it seems, including the enigmatic Lord Carlston.

Against a backdrop of whispered secrets in St James’s Palace, soirees with Lord Byron and morning calls from Beau Brummell, Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club is a delightfully dangerous adventure of self-discovery and dark choices that must be made… whatever the consequences.

+++ Image and blurb from HarperCollins Publishers Australia +++

4.5 Regent Reclaimer Stars

Absolutely loved this read for the care and consideration to the historical setting – Alison Goodman clearly knows her way around Regency London. I am not just talking about making sure nothing seems out of place, she has managed to weave her world into the historical regency details – smells, sounds, taste, societal expectations, class issues, real historical figures and events, true murders, common crimes and rising conflict over the impending industrialisation.

Beyond my love of the historical accuracies, the story was solid and compelling (even if it took a while to get going it allowed for extensive world building). The plot gained momentum once the dark days club and truths were revealed to Helen. The author did not shy away from death or sex (weird soul-sucking tentacle sex… yeah, you know you want to read it now). The ending was the perfect completion of the first arc of discovery and the perfect segue into the second book.

Another draw was the characters, Lady Helen comes into superhuman powers yet she is not trained and often cannot accept the world the Dark Days Club introduces her to. Her courage waivers, her fears are discussed, she is not a sudden warrior but a rational and observant woman who is afraid of her new dangerous self. Additionally, Lord Carlston was a fascinating character, not warm and inviting, he is a man haunted by his past and future decisions, and therefore a serious person. Yet his demeanour cracks with wit, wry amusement and (occasionally) happy relief – not the brooding Byronic hero but a man of many facets.

I cannot wait to get my hands on the second book out on 19th December 2016!

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Australian edition by HarperCollins AU

Alison Goodman also has a wonderful website where she has listed reference books, materials, photos of her Regency balls and how Lady Helen’s world was meticulously created.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne| Book Review

 

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UK/AUS Cover from Hachette

4.25 Bedroom Blue Stars

 

The game is afoot, or at least they have been for Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman, ever since the merger of the two publishing companies they work for. Dangerously competent assistants of the two CEOs, Lucy and Joshua compete against each other in staring matches, skirmishes of wit and brawls of banter waiting for the other to crack. However, the stakes are raised when they now must compete for a lucrative promotion and the games become heated, but not in the direction Lucy predicted.

If you love Shakespeare’s Beatrice and Benedict, like I do, then you will love this delicious romp of a Rom-Com. Lucy is a refreshing modern woman, as she is not one dimensional but kind, passionate, ambitious, quirky, lonely, clever and a little crazy. And you get to discover new facets to her personality at every turn of the page. Only a multi-faceted man can balance her out, and at first, Joshua is aloof, sarcastic and pretty much an a-hole. But, as Lucy begins to recognise his moods as easily as his daily shirt patterns, she discovers that underneath all those barbs is a nice guy with unknown depths of emotion.

 

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US Cover from William Morrow

 

Whilst the ambiguity of the city and settings can be initially disconcerting, it allows the reader to focus primarily on the characters (and could be set in any English speaking country). The supporting cast often pushes Lucy and Joshua out of their comfort zones, forcing the games to the next level or allowing them to test theories. The lack of friendship circles for both Joshua and Lucy did not seem unusual given their dedication to work, but it helped to intensify the desire for a connection between each other.

A wonderful debut from Sally Thorne, I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting a good laugh and fuzzy feelings.

Released on 9th August 2016 by Hachette Australia
ARC received from Hachette Australia for honest review

 

My YA Valentine

This February was doomed to romance since my first viewing of the amazing vlog series, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. After greedily watching the entire 100 episodes over two days (and that was with generous breaks… trust me), I had a desire for everything YA. Turning to my pile of unread YA and my trusty Kindle app, my February has been on a rollercoaster of teen drama and romance. (This list is not complied by rating but in the order that I read them)

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Smuggler’s Kiss by Marie-Lousie Jensen

A stunning YA set in the early 1700s when pirates and smuggler’s sailed the seas and evaded the King of England’s Navy and Customs officers. Isabelle thrown out of her known society must fend for herself, very annoying and spoilt to begin with, but the volatile young Will is forced to help her work for a place on the smuggler’s ship. The romance is not the central focus, rather the secrets that surround many of the characters, but the closer they are to discovering them the more peril they walk into. A seething romance, smuggling fine lace, high sea battles, cross-dressing escapades, and rollicking adventure… what else can you ask for?

17844678The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

An instant love YA that forms from the application of the Heimlich, performed by Wren, on the unsuspecting Frankfurter consumer, Grayson. Joking aside, it is a sweet romance, with a little comedy, but sometimes felt a little clunky with the bad boy back story for Grayson and Wren lack of development (which was her initial motivation).

15283043The Distance between Us by Kasie West

This YA fell into the rich boy meets poor girl category neatly, but Caymen Meyers is a little more prejudice than most protagonists in this category, as her mother has long warned her of the alluring dangers of rich men (Her father who fled when he heard about the pregnancy was wealthy and his parents paid off her mother to keep away). Xander Spence, the rich hotel owner son, likes Caymen’s sarcastic humour and begins to spend a lot more time with her, trying to keep it casual in case of scaring her away. A cute YA romance, quite humourous, with some adorable scenes; but Caymen’s prejudice was the most frustrating (and seemingly only) impediment to the blossoming relationship, and some plot lines did not resolve fully for my liking.

9781406341928Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald

My favourite YA novel that has ever focused on falling OUT of love with someone. Sadie has been in love with her best friend, Garrett, for two years and he only sees their platonic connection. So after some disastrous situations and Garrett’s departure to summer camp, Sadie decides to detox her life and heart of Garrett Delaney. Along the way she not only discovers new friends and places, but herself; and she begins to live her life through her own desires and not through those of Garrett’s. Great characters, plot structure, and surprise romance! Definitely on the ‘re-read’ shelf!

942608_628432350509219_1562563085_nTripping Me Up by Amber Garza

A romance focused YA, where the invisible girl, Hadley, becomes noticed by one of the more popular guys in her year, Tripp, who she has had a long-time crush on. It is a sweet budding romance, that is hindered by home aspects and social standing at high school, but it manages to survive!

imageCrash Into You by Katie McGarry

One of the steamiest YA in the bunch! Rachel Young is rich, attends private school, a nervous wreck, has over-bearing brothers, and is seen as the replacement daughter for her long dead sister. But through it all she finds solace with her love of cars, and that finds her at an illegal drag way meeting the intimidating Isaiah Walker. He may look the bad boy but Isaiah is more loyal and romantic than first appearance. The story is not driven by their romance, instead forces the two leads to understand their relationship. This is the third book in a series, and I just ordered the first two!

No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean

With the distractions of work, social events and household chores, I will always find time for a Sarah MacLean novel. I have been a fan of Sarah MacLean since her YA romance ‘The Season’, and then strengthened the attachment throughout ‘The Numbers’ series, and now, I am basking in the joys of her ‘Rule of Scoundrel’ series. ‘No Good Duke’ is the third title in the series, focusing on the feared Killer Duke, Temple… and oh boy! Does the steam pour from the pages.9780062068545

After suffering through the jerk that is Bourne (a lovable jerk, I grant you), then adoring every page of Cross’s encounter with fate, I did not know what to expect with Temple. You learn from the earlier novels that his reputation was destroyed one evening when he awoke in a bed of blood, and then he was cast from society and his father’s house. However, he rises from the ruination to become one of the owners of London’s most exclusive casino, The Fallen Angel, and the most famed bare-knuckle boxer in England (I think the fact he is built like a mountain also does something to further his fierce reputation). With his fierce reputation settled, MacLean introduces him with a balance of grace and reserve, making him all the more intriguing.

Temple is a strong character (physically and mentally) so when the fierce and feisty Mara Lowe makes her appearance, I was gleefully aware that a sparring battle would commence. Mara comes upon the brooding Duke when he is returning home, surprising him, as she was the woman that he was accused of murdering twelve years before.  Naturally, he is angry and wants to hold her captive until she told him the truth, but the truth would come at a cost. Mara’s brother lost his money to the Fallen Angel and she wants the debt forgiven and for Temple not to fight him (that was an option for the men to regain their losses, if they managed to beat Temple in the ring). The deal they settle upon is Mara’s ruination and return to society, giving the Duke back his ‘good’ name, but before he can impose on her further she drugs him and escapes.

The plan of ruination and revenge has never been successful, in my experience of romance novels, as it merely offers the two leads a chance to spend a lot of time together. Such encounters between Temple and Mara, are had at the charming Miss Herbert’s establishment, finding their way back to Mara’s own home and establishment, an orphanage, where she has been hiding for the past few years (it was established under her pseudonym of Miss Macintyre). Mara’s humble existence within the orphanage, with the adorably protective boys and a pet pig named Lavender, is sickly with want of empathy but it is refreshing. MacLean takes us out of the world of society wallflowers falling for scoundrels, and into the world of a nouveau riche tradesman daughter who did not want to enter high society and is happy when working. The fact that MacLean introduces this working class girl (with lots of gumption) to a Duke who had learned to work to survive, somehow make them become perfect partners.

Regardless of Mara’s spirit, Temple is the true attraction for me throughout this entire novel, as it is his feelings that bleed through the pages. They face each other numerous times but support each other when threatened, but they continue to withhold truths from each other out of stubbornness (more on Mara’s part, out of fear I guess). The chemistry between them is vibrant making the sex scene practically flashing neon lights and fireworks… fanning was required. The ending did seemed prolonged with frustrating (mainly by the predictable actions of self-sacrificing, Mara), but the epilogue was worth the wait, with that huge plot twist for the entire series!

Once again Sarah MacLean delivers a Regency romance that cannot be matched for narration style, characters and resistance to the norm. I think it fair to assume I will be hungering for her next and final installment to this sinfully satiating series.

Be prepared to fall in love with her characters when you follow this link.