4.5 stars. I really loved this book. Avicenna was a fantastic narrator, and I loved all of the charts that were actually illustrated throughout the story. It was well written, intriguing, and not the typical young adult love story. So far I’ve found that many of the Australian books I’ve read have been unique, and full of beautiful prose and believable characters, and this one was no different. I would highly recommend checking this out, and if you’re not hooked from the start, it probably isn’t for you. The only reason I wouldn’t give it five stars is that parts of the story remain ambiguous, even after the end. However, I felt that it echoed Avicenna’s resolve not to reads her own chart, and to let things unfold in whatever surprising ways they may.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
So, I read an ARC of this book while at the cottage this summer, and was waiting to post my review until closer to the publication date. I saw it in the bookstore last week, so I figure it’s about time.
The only thing is, I can’t actually remember what I wanted to say. Oops.
Okay, here’s what I do remember: for the first 3/4 of this book, yawn. Seriously, I kept flipping pages (well, I read this electronically, so I was actually pressing buttons but still) and thinking to myself “when is some action going to take place??”
For some reason I had it in my mind that this was a story about magicians. The title just made me think of magic, and also the cover. I thought the raven pictured there might be a magician’s aid or something. Anyways, I think that they added the “: A Ghost Story” portion to the title after I had already read it. But even if I’d known it was a ghost story, for the first major part of the book, no ghosts!
So it was leaning towards being a 2 star read for me. When Bellman opened the store, and all the stuff with his daughter being ill was going on, the book did take a turn for me and became more interesting. By the end, I did enjoy it. I especially liked the little blurbs about birds, and the collective nouns for them. But I’m weird and like knowing collective nouns. The last segment from the perspective of the bird was cool.
Overall, I can’t quite remember why I gave this 3.5 stars, so a more accurate rating would probably be 3. Because if it didn’t have staying power since I read it in August, it’s obviously not one of my favourites.
If you’re wondering whether to read this book, as long as you don’t mind a really slow pace and not much action, I’d say give it a try. You might like it!
Thank you to the publishers, who via NetGalley provided me with this advance copy for review!
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I read this while at the cottage, and it was the absolute perfect thing. I finished it in one day, it was that good!
The book blurb hooked me, and I was already excited to read this. But when I saw it at the library during my “grab some books to take on holiday” trip, I wasn’t sure it would be a great cottage read. It was!
Morgana, the book’s narrator (for most of it) and one of the main characters, doesn’t speak. At all. We can of course read her thoughts, which is why most of the book is told from her point of view, but she doesn’t communicate using speech with any of the other characters. In itself, that was already a unique hook. Then add a romance that’s wonderful, and the fact that Morgana can do magic, and well- you’ve got a book that was written for me to enjoy!
The story starts off when Morgana leaves her ailing mother to marry Cai Jenkins. The marriage was arranged hastily in order for Cai to hold his position as head drover (it’s assumed that any man who doesn’t have a wife to come home to won’t bother to return, so all head drovers must be married). Morgana is confused as to why anyone would choose her for their wife- since she hasn’t spoken a word in years, and also is trying to hide the fact that she has witch-like powers.
But we soon get to read some chapters told from an omniscient perspective, and are privy to Cai’s thoughts and feelings towards Morgana. One of the best things about this book was the way the romance unfolded slowly. It wasn’t instant attraction, and in fact it takes much of the beginning of the book before the two main characters come to terms with their feelings for each other.
I was hooked by the romance, and I was hooked by the magic. I loved the twists and turns as we discovered more about the characters’ motives and true personalities. Morgana was a great heroine, and there were some admirable villains for her to stand up to.
Overall, this was a super love story. It was truly “enchanting and magical” as the book jacket promised. It’s my first book by Paula Brackston, but I definitely want to read more!
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a wonderful, unique, almost indescribable book. It certainly doesn’t fit into any genre that I can think of, and this review will most likely be confusing to anyone who hasn’t read the book. So, my most pressing suggestion would be: if you are at all curious about this, just go ahead and read it. Really, do.
Now, on to the details: the book takes place alternating between The World, and the Kingdom of Cello. Cello is a place where Colours are organisms that are sentient- some are good, and some quite, quite bad. In Cello lives a boy, Elliot Baranski. His father disappeared a year ago, leaving him and his mother to wonder whether a vicious Purple was responsible, and whether his father is in fact, dead.
In The World, more specifically in Cambridge, England, lives a girl: Madeleine Tully. She and her mother ran away from their luxurious life (and Madeleine’s father) and are now trying to make ends meet in a teeny attic flat. There is mould on the ceiling, and the only thing they brought with them was Madeleine’s mother’s sewing machine. To make matters worse, Madeleine thinks her mother may be going crazy, as she seems to be acting less and less normally.
Somehow, a crack exists between The World and Cello. And Madeleine and Elliot begin exchanging letters from one world to the other. Madeleine isn’t even sure she believes that Cello is real: she figures Elliot Baranski is a character that some sad, nerdy, would-be fantasy writer had made up to give himself an excuse to leave his boring existence.
But the two of them have knowledge that can help one another. And through their correspondence it becomes clearer to the reader that each of them has a lot they can learn from the other.
So that’s my plot summary, without giving away any real spoilers.
What can I say about the book itself? I enjoyed it so much that I read it in a day. And I’d re-read it in a flash. Though I borrowed this from the library, it’s a book I would love to own a copy of. One of the greatest things about it is how unique, unusual, and enchanting I found it. The world of Cello is so strange, yet so believable. And the best part is, the author does not talk dryly at the reader, explaining every little detail about Cello and the way things work. Everything just sort of happens, and while it seems awkward to understand and sometimes a bit confusing, while reading you just pick up on how things work, in a subtle way.
The characters are really poignant. They made me feel that I really knew them all in real life. I would have enjoyed homeschooling with Madeleine, Jack, and Belle.
There are some pretty funny parts- the ones that made me laugh were the editor’s comments in each of the news features written by the Princess Sisters. There was a nice bit of sarcasm there that I appreciated.
There are also some quite sad parts, mostly at the end when Madeleine is thinking about her parents.
I think the book had a good mix of moods. And it simply makes you believe in magic, in enchantment. Which I absolutely love in a book.
And can I add- all the colour theory stuff was just amazing. I love colour – both the scientific light-based colour, and paint. And I’m in complete agreement with this conundrum: how can we ever know that someone else sees colours the same way as we do? Sure, we agree that grass is ‘green’- but what if the way I see ‘green’ is the same as the way you see ‘purple’ – or something quite different altogether??? Ah, the mysteries of perception.
If you don’t enjoy character-driven stories, I’d give this one a pass. I’ve read some reviews where people are upset that there wasn’t ‘more of a plot’. I think that is largely a personal thing, as the plot was just right for me. If you do enjoy quirky characters, and an entirely new world with unusual rules, this is exactly the book for you.
PS- the font for the title on the cover, and for the chapter headings, is amazing. I am in love with it.
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
3.5 stars for the sea monsters!
This book was unexpected in many ways. The beautiful watery cover and cheesy back cover blurb warning of the dangers of Trespass Island didn’t prepare me for what I found in this book: a creepy adventure with sea monsters galore!
When Delia attempts to leave home in search of the grandmother she’s never met, she doesn’t expect Trespass Island. First of all, it’s not on any maps or ferry routes. When she finally arrives, she’s met with Wicker Man-like creepy natives, warning her: “we don’t have visitors on the island”. The first mention of something dangerous and not-quite-right quickly hinted to me that this wasn’t going to be the mermaid book I was sort of expecting. With interest, I discovered that the dangers of Trespass Island lay in the age-old pact the islanders had with the First Ones, descendants of Poseidon and the like.
Delia is then thrown into the islanders’ secluded lifestyle, and she slowly comes to discover the truth about the First Ones. There is, of course, a sort of love-triangle, or at least two possible love interests for Delia. I have to admit- I’m all about Jax all the way. Human-like sea god, with gills and all- I still found him infinitely more interesting than the other boy, who made such a little impression on me that I can’t remember his name. (Sean?)
The surprising truth about the Revel ‘festival’ is also slowly revealed, and then the book quickly spirals into some battles, a kidnapping, another battle, and some intrigue. The ending felt a bit abrupt to me, and I see there’s no mention of a sequel, which I find a bit puzzling. Certain interesting developments don’t occur until almost the very end of the book, and I was expecting a “to be continued” or something, hinting that we’d get more information in a forthcoming sequel. As is, the story kept me interested, and made me much less likely to swim in any open water in the near future! It wasn’t amazing by any means, but it’s a fairly enjoyable summer-ish read.