Tea & Book Chat: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (Shades of London #1)

I will preface my review of The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson by saying that I am a baby who gets scared very easily.  The Name of the Star is the first book in the Shades of London series and I was initially drawn to it because of it’s plot.  The book follows a girl named Rory who heads to London for boarding school at the exact same time that a serial killer who appears to be imitating Jack the Ripper begins to carry out a series of murders.  Rory spots the suspect but somehow, she is the only person who is able to see him which lands her the top spot as his next potential victim.

Since the books takes place in a boarding school in London, I was immediately hooked.  I love reading about teens in a boarding school setting who have the freedom to explore and grow with all of the independence that goes along with their schooling.  Plus, London! It was such a pleasure to explore different places in London along with Rory and if I ever get to take a trip there I will definitely be going on a Jack the Ripper tour.  The story is beautifully crafted and the pacing is on point.  It was such a delight to try to solve the mystery and figure out the supernatural elements occurring in Rory’s seemingly normal world.  There were parts that scared me a lot (see: intro) and I’ve been told by friends that it is not in fact scary but it still got to me!

The Name of the Star

I really loved Rory as a character and it was delightful to be acclimated to English culture through her experiences.  She’s very smart and like a typical teen, she has the right amount of lovable awkwardness and the possible romance she’s embarking on is super cute.  I also loved Alistair who is a punk guy that Rory often encounters hanging out in the library.  He is adorable and I cannot wait to read the short story Maureen published about him.  Rory’s roommates Boo and Jazza were also great and I loved / was so freaked out by the Ripper character most of all.

Final Thoughts:  The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, the first book in the Shades of London series is the perfect mix of horror and contemporary.  The London boarding school setting enriches the reading experience and the mystery of the Jack the Ripper-like murders will keep you hooked well past the big reveal.  The main character Rory is relatable, intelligent and awkward but it’s her library buddy Alistair that I kept wishing for more time with.  If you like creepy stories and don’t mind having trouble sleeping at night, The Name of the Star is definitely worth a read!

Rating 5

Jack the Ripper is back, and he’s coming for Rory next….

Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school just as a series of brutal murders mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper killing spree of more than a century ago has broken out across the city. The police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man believed to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him – the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target…unless she can tap her previously unknown abilities to turn the tables. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Fall To Do List <3

I’m so excited for Fall. Like SO excited.  I decided to put together a list of things I want to make sure I do so I can fully enjoy the season and I just got Photoshop(!!!) so I used this opportunity to test it out!  Yay learning!  What activities are you looking forward to this Fall?  Or do you wish Summer would last a little longer?

Fall To Do List

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Kristin

Waiting on Wednesday: Never Never by Brianna Shrum

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly anticipating.  This week I’m choosing Never Never by Brianna Shrum.  I’m always game for ANYTHING Peter Pan but Brianna Shrum’s upcoming Never Never is one of those retellings that really piqued my interest because it explores a childhood friendship between Captain Hook, a boy who wants nothing more than to grow up, and Peter Pan, a boy determined to remain a child as long as possible.  Peter convinces James to accompany him to Neverland and once they’ve spent time there, Peter will not allow him to leave which is how their infamous rivalry begins.  I’m also completely in love with the book’s cover and all of it’s Peter Pan Easter eggs.  The clouds in the sky are in the shape of a skull and crossbones, the top right of the cover displays the navigation to Neverland (2nd star to the right and straight on til morning), and the title resembles Peter Pan’s hat and the feather he received from Tiger Lily.  Plus Brianna Shrum’s name is bookended by hooks. I want it nowwwww!

Never Never

 

James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up.

When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child—at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up.

But grow up he does.

And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate.

This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole. It’s about a man in a world that hates men. It’s about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan.

Except one. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: The Magician King by Lev Grossman (The Magicians #2)

**Warning! If you haven’t read The Magicians which is the first book in the Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**

The Magician King by Lev Grossman is the second installment in The Magicians trilogy.  I had been debating whether or not to continue the series after not having loved the first book (review here) but my best friend convinced me that it gets better so I decided to trust her judgment.  The second books picks up right where the story ended, with Quentin, Eliot, Julia and Janet in Fillory as it’s new Kings and Queens.  While things may seem perfect for the protagonists who survived Brakebills and were transported to the magical world Christopher Plover wrote about, they are far from it.  Unnerving things begin happening in Fillory and the main characters need to embark on a quest to figure out how to fix things.

The story in the second book is much more exciting than that of the first which I had tried to read 3 separate times before finally surpassing the initial 50 pages.  Because we’re starting in Fillory there’s action in the first chapter which continues throughout the book.  There are only momentary lulls in action which are due to chapters being dedicated to telling us Julia’s story.  The Magician KIng is full of dragons, gods and a quest aboard a ship called the Muntjac to recover 7 golden keys which sounds like all of the elements of an ideal fantasy novel.   While the story is much more exciting, there is one particular scene that I had major issues with in the latter half of the book which involves rape.  Without spoiling anything, I understand where the inspiration came from for the scene but I did not enjoy reading it and I also had a lot of issues with the after effects.  I ended up giving The Magician King 3.5 stars (4 stars on Goodreads) and if it wouldn’t have been for that once scene I would’ve given it a full 4 stars.

The Magician King

Staying consitent with the first book, I still do not like the main character Quentin.  While he was more tolerable in The Magician King than he was in The Magicians I still found him to be whiny, entitled and pompous.  There’s one line in particular that perfectly embodies the reasons I dislike him.  While sitting in Venice this is a thought that goes through his mind “It was strange to be in a place and not be King of it.”  Enough said.  Toward the beginning of the book, Julia seems like she will be taking on the role of the manic pixie dream girl now that Alice is gone but it becomes clear that this is not true.  Julia is mentally ill from her years of chasing magic and a series of chapters are dedicated to flashing back to her story before she met up with Quentin.  It gives an in depth account of the torture she went through after having been exposed to magic so briefly and then having it taken away from her.

Final Thoughts:  The Magician King by Lev Grossman is a much more enjoyable read than the first book in the series.  The characters are still completely unlikable but the story revolving around magic and the quest to find the 7 golden keys is well crafted and intriguing.  If you didn’t like the first book and are hesitant to begin the second I would definitely recommend giving it a chance.

Rating 4

The Magicians was praised as a triumph by readers and critics of both mainstream and fantasy literature. Now Grossman takes us back to Fillory, where the Brakebills graduates have fled the sorrows of the mundane world, only to face terrifying new challenges.

Quentin and his friends are now the kings and queens of Fillory, but the days and nights of royal luxury are starting to pall. After a morning hunt takes a sinister turn, Quentin and his old friend Julia charter a magical sailing ship and set out on an errand to the wild outer reaches of their kingdom. Their pleasure cruise becomes an adventure when the two are unceremoniously dumped back into the last place Quentin ever wants to see: his parent’s house in Chesterton, Massachusetts. And only the black, twisted magic that Julia learned on the streets can save them.

The Magician King is a grand voyage into the dark, glittering heart of magic, an epic quest for the Harry Potter generation. It also introduces a powerful new voice, that of Julia, whose angry genius is thrilling. Once again Grossman proves that he is the cutting edge of literary fantasy. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

BookTube: Top 5 Wednesday: Worst Tropes

This is something different for me because I’ve never made a video solely dedicated to things I don’t like before!  This weeks topic is the Top 5 Tropes I Hate and I thought I was going to have trouble coming up answers but they came to me surprisingly easily.  Which tropes do you dislike?

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

I picked up a signed copy of Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon at BEA and I’ve heard other bloggers raving about it since then.  I realized that it’s release date is rapidly approaching (September 1st to be exact) and I decided to spend some time reading it this week for the Bout of Books readathon.  Little did I know just how incredible Madeline’s story would be.  I finished reading the book within 3.5 hours because I just could not get enough.  Madeline is basically a bubble girl who’s spent her entire life inside and isolated from everyone, save her mom (who’s a doctor) and her nurse Carla, for fear of her weak immune system not being able to handle exposure to any foreign pathogens.  But everything changes for Madeline when a new family moves into the house next door.  This might sound cliched but I swear, the way it’s told is just beautiful.  There’s so much raw emotion and the exhilarating excitement of experiencing things for the first time.

Madeline is a friendly and optimistic teenage girl despite her seemingly hopeless condition.  Throughout the course of the novel I really admired her strength in relation to the comprehension of her situation, her love for her mother and her will to live.  Madeline has always been mostly content with her life at home playing phonetic Scrabble, Pictionary, and having movie nights with her mother but she begins to question how she’s spending the time she has when she starts IM-ing with Olly, the mysterious and handsome new boy next door who always wears all black.  Olly and his family struggle with an abusive father and mother that’s too scared to leave him and Madeline often trys to cheer Olly up after hearing his dad yelling from her window.  Madeline keeps her relationship with Olly a secret from her mother and it causes a rift to form between them.  Madeline becomes distant, falls deeply in love and starts taking risks that could mean everything.  I love them so much and ship them so hard<3  I also adore Madeline’s nurse Carla who is sort of like a second mom.  She always has Madeline’s best interest at the forefront of her decisions and I love her statement that life is a gift.  All of the characters had their flaws but they were lovable, insightful and inspiring.

1

Nicola Yoon’s husband David Yoon created all of the artwork within the pages of the book which completely enhance the reading experience and add even more significance to the story.  The sketches, dictionary entries, book reviews and charts were my favorite part of reading.  They felt very personal and gave a true sense of Madeline’s creativity and what it’s like to be in her head. My favorite chart of hers is the one about measuring the passing of time before something exciting is going to happen because everyone can relate to that feeling.  The book left me feeling invigorated and appreciative to have control of the the life I’m living.  Madeline is such an inspiring girl and while the ending is rather unconventional and unexpected, the journey is everything everything.

Final Thoughts:  Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon is a must read contemporary YA novel about a girl who begins to examine her life, question the possibilities and search for meaning.  Madeline, a girl with a fatal immunodeficiency disease, and Olly, an attractive and mysterious boy next door are an unusual pairing of characters who help each other unlock the strength laying dormant within themselves.  The characters in Everything Everything are compelling and inspiring and so very well developed.  The story is told through multiple mediums which enhances the overall novel and trust me when I say that it’s impossible not to fall madly in love with Everything Everything.

Rating 5

This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Waiting on Wednesday: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly anticipating.  This week I’m choosing Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas which is the fourth book in Throne of Glass series.  I’ve just caught up on the series and read book three, Heir of Fire.  I waited until closer to the Queen of Shadows release so I wouldn’t have to wait as long between books (although, since it’s a 6 book series, I will have a lot more waiting ahead of me).  The second book, Crown of Midnight, broke me and I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle it again so I’m considering re-reading the series each year before the new book is released.  The only other series I’ve done that with is Harry Potter. Seriously, it’s that good.

Queen of Shadows - Throne of Glass

 

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Bout of Books: Bookish Scavenger Hunt – Day 2 Challenge

This morning I finished my first book for the Bout of Books readathon and I will be posting my review tomorrow morning.  I started with Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon and after feeling BookTube-A-Thon burnout, it was exactly what I needed to propel me into my TBR pile.  The book was so amazing and I will definitely be reading everything else that Nicola Yoon publishes in the future.  I’m going to decide tomorrow which of the books on my TBR to pick up next depending on my mood.

The second challenge of the readathon is a Bookish Scavenger Hunt hosted by The Book Monsters.  We were given a list of guidelines to use as the scavenger hunt list and it’s up to the participant to use their library (personal or otherwise) to match the items below along with photos.

1. A book that starts with B

1

2. A book you’re planning to read / currently reading as part of Bout of Books

2

3. Blue book(s)

3

4. Books from your favorite genre

5. A book on your TBR shelf or of your full TBR shelves

5

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is the most beautifully written book I have ever read.  The story revolves around a traveling circus and two magicians who’ve spent their youth training for a duel and the strings of prose that Morgenstern crafted to tell their story are pure magic.  I devoured the entire book in one day and it’s one that I know that I will for sure be re-reading in the future when I feel like immersing myself in magic.  I also love both the US and UK covers. The black, white and red designs are so incredibly striking.

Aftering pointing out how gorgeous the words are in the this novel, the next logicial talking point is the wonderfully immersive world that Erin Morgenstern has built around this mysterious traveling circus named Les Cirque des Reves.  “The circus arrives without warning.  No announcements precede it.  It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”  I had to include the direct quote from the plot synopsis since it describes it better than I ever could!  There are people who become obsessed with the circus and spend their lives trying to catch it wherever it may turn up (they call themselves reveurs or dreamers).  That is how enchanting each show is.  The circus take place in black and white tents and has red accents throughout the different rooms but it’s the giant clock tower that I would do anything to see in real life. I loved that throughout the book there are certain scenes revolving around experiences at the circus that are told through second person POV which allows the reader to feel like they’re there.  I would also do anything to try some of the circus food which is so very vividly described or to take a ride on the magical carousel.  This book is PERFECT to be made into a really high budget artsy film.

The Night Circus

Throughout the course of the novel, you’re introduced to an extensive range of characters and the story spans over years so it can be slightly difficult to keep track of, but it’s complexities are completely worth your time.  The story begins with Prospero the Enchanter choosing his daughter Celia and Mr. A. H. choosing an avid reader from an orphanage as the students they will spend their lives training and who will ultimately duel one another to the death when the time comes.  Depite their inevitable fate, Celia and Marco fall deeply in love with one another and it’s forbidden romance at its finest.

Final Thoughts:  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is a magical foray into a world about a traveling circus that I will spend the rest of my life wishing I could experience firsthand.  The story is full of the most beautiful imagery surrounding the circus and the magical elements will leave you smiling and daydreaming for years to come.  Plus, there are two magicians training for their fated duel and a blossoming forbidden romance between the pair.  This book is literally perfect.

Rating 6

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called “Le Cirque des Reves,” and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

BookTube: BookTube-A-Thon Wrap Up

BookTube-A-Thon is over and I feel completely satisfied with all the reading I was able to do.  I completed all of the challenges and had so much fun doing it! I’m definitely going to be participating again in the future.  Here’s a belated look at what I thought of everything!

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Kristin

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