Jadeite’s Journey – Lucinda Stein

Screenshot_20170903-173443
Living in a perfect world isn’t as good as it sounds…

Firstly I must say that returning to blogging after such a long break has been worth it thanks to this book, however the break has been very good for me. I’ve been able to get myself settled into my new home, start my new job without distractions and get used to my new surroundings up North (UK). I never wanted to be away from blogging this long but knew that I couldn’t continue with all the drastic changes happening in my life. This break is now over and I’m delighted to return with such a wonderful book ‘Jadeite’s Journey’ – hopefully you’ll agree!

We start off with the illusion of a ‘perfect world’ where everyone is happy and content, thinking that their part of the world is free of disease/illness and where everyone is immortal. However it is a controlled society, there are tests that determine your career, technology for everything (cooking, hobby activities and of course the drone guards) and rules no one must break. Yet everything isn’t as perfect as they are deemed to believe. Jadeite finds out her brother is sick and needs medicine from ‘over the ridge’ where the primitive outcasts live. After taking on her fathers responsibilities of going over the ridge, she has to learn to adapt to two worlds and make sure she doesn’t get caught!

The characters themselves each have a story to tell and the more we learn about them the deeper connection I seemed to get, Jadeite herself proves to be the smart, loving daughter who will do anything for her family which really shows when she starts to try and save her brother’s life and takes her father’s duties of crossing the ridge to protect him. Electra is the quirky best friend who doesn’t quite fit into the way United Society want her to be, she is creative and erratic and a free spirit. She is the first person we see having to bend to the rules ‘or else’ and puts it into perspective how controlling the United Society government are. Mattie I honestly liked in the beginning, he was confident and the teenage romance that blossomed between him and Jadeite did make me smile, until he started to show his true colours and became controlling, manipulative and dangerous. Finally the key character that stood out was Orion (a boy from over the ridge) he showed bravery, loyalty and love which made me root for him and Jadeite even more as he showed her the ‘new world’ she wasn’t accustomed to and kept her safe.

The narrative itself was somewhat hard to follow sometimes, due to it flicking from one section to the other but the story-line had me turning each page with intrigue and kept me wanting to find out what happens next. I loved the contrast between United Society and over the Ridge, it really painted the picture of how corrupt United Society is and how with little technology the people over the Ridge had freedom which meant more to them than living a ‘convenient’ but controlled life. The way that the cracks in United Society slowly unfolded worked brilliantly, it had me questioning whether it was just coincidences or mistakes that Jadeite was uncovering but really built up to how wrong this place was. I did feel myself following Jadeite’s journey with held breath, especially her constant trips over the Ridge and hoping she doesn’t get caught but also her charade whilst in United Society and her fooling Mattie that she was still his and happy in that relationship.

Without giving away any spoilers there were two major twists that had me shocked, one being the Vilàne family and all their secrets. The mother in particular and the secret she kept from not only her own son Mattie but the entire United Society government, I had to re-read the whole section to make sure I wasn’t just imagining the deception. The second twist was with the Journeyman family, particularly Jadeite’s mother and the secret that had been kept from Jadeite and her brother. Two very different twists but both delightfully shocking.

The one downside to this book was the ending, I was happy with the way it seemed to be going and gave me hope that everything would be alright. However it did end rather suddenly without answering some of the questions I had about the Vilàne family, will Mattie ever know the truth about his father? How would Jadeite cope with life outside of United Society? What would her and Orion’s relationship be like? I do hope there will be another book that follows from this as I would be very keen to read it!

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘Jadeite’s Journey’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: Lucinda Stein
As a former school librarian, Lucinda Stein enjoyed sharing books with students. Jadeite’s Journey is her first YA novel. Her collection of short stories, Sanctuary: Family, Friends, and Strangers, was a 2015 Colorado Book Award finalist. Her story, “Sulfur Springs,” won the 2011 LAURA Short Fiction Award judged by Pam Houston. Lucinda loves reading, anything vintage, camping, and hiking with her shelter-rescue dog, Opie. She also enjoys creating bookstagrams. Follow her on Instagram at lucindastein.

Advertisements

Spells & Persuasions – S.J.Budd

Screenshot_20170430-142054
Dark, twisted and extremely believable…

Now this review will be slightly different to my usual book reviews, as this collection features 9 short stories in the dark fantasy genre but I will try to review them as a whole and pick out some highlights from each. Before we begin I would not suggest reading these before bedtime as they have such an element of realism, making you think about situations in your own life that these events could occur as well as giving you twists to leave you shocked!

As mentioned before this collection has 9 short stories in, I actually read this book twice! Not only because it was such a well written book but because I wanted to make the experience of reading it last longer and really take in each story as a whole (letting the twists and turns really sink in). Each story draws you in straight away, not needing a long build up to realise what is happening. By doing this you are already engaged with the characters situation and follow the story word by word.

The style of each story varies from modern day to fantasy (witches and spells) but all have an underlying theme that is ‘relationships’ whether this be in the form of mother and son, husband and wife or teenage crushes. Each story delves deeper into these relationships and shows the darkness behind them, even the most innocent of characters are not as they seem (A Most Devoted Son, The Little Orphan Girl & Hold Me Tight). These stories really make you think about your own experiences (especially Spells and Persuasions) where teenage crushes can turn into something horrific, especially when magic is involved.

Now the genre of all these stories is dark fantasy and as it is a genre I most enjoy reading, I must say I wasn’t disappointed. Each story took me down a route that I thought I would suss out the ending but always shocked me and left me wanting more answers when the plot twists came out of the woodwork! The writing is so well done that you turn each page with ease, completely engrossed with the story that S. J. Budd has provided. The darkness within these stories is done in a way that makes you want to keep reading but part of you knows that something frightening is yet to come.

Just to pick out some of the stories that I enjoyed the most (honestly I wish I could write a whole review for each one) – ‘The Mound’ was one story that felt very close to being a real life event, yes it had magic and ghosts but the underlying theme of adultery made it full of possible realism. Not to give away any spoilers but let’s just say that if your husband is cheating on you and you find out, be careful what you wish for!

Another one that I enjoyed thoroughly was ‘The Little Orphan Girl‘ this story was one that wasn’t set in the modern world but in a world that had witches. The reason for picking this was the fact it really creeped me out! Normally I don’t like little girls in anything remotely scary (films or books) but this story really showed that innocence can be misleading. Again not giving away any spoilers but this twist really had me, I kept trying to work out what would happen as I was reading but I would have never guessed that ending.

In all honestly I would highly recommend this collection as it does have a little something for everyone (even if you’re not a huge horror/ dark fantasy fan) as the story lines are very well thought out and the twists will leave you speechless. I will definitely be looking forward to any future works of S. J. Budd as her writing is spectacular (and scary!).

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘Spells and Persuasions’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: S. J. Budd
Originally born in Cornwall, south west England, her childhood was surrounded by myths and legends and she has always been fascinated by anything out of the ordinary. It was in this strange and ancient land where she developed a passion for writing.
S.J.Budd loves writing short stories exploring dark fictional worlds and its mysterious inhabitants, and is currently working on her first novel. Her day job involves working as journalist for http://www.findahood.com and she also blogs on her site http://www.sjbudd.co.uk
Her work has appeared in Sanitarium Magazine, Siren’s Call Publications, Deadman’s Tome, Innersins , Aphelion, Bewildering Stories, Blood Moon Rising Magazine, Shadows at the Door and Danse Macabre Magazine, The Wild Hunt, Morpheus Tales and Freedom Fiction. Twitter @sjbuddj

The White Raven – Carrie D. Miller

Do you believe in magic?

Before I even begin with my review of The White Raven I must admit to being very excited to read it (little kid at Christmas kind of excited) as this book follows a similar genre to one of my all-time favourite books! As soon as I started to read The White Raven, I couldn’t put it down. It captivated me right from the beginning (as if by magic) and all the way through I couldn’t stop smiling as I went on this amazing journey Carrie D. Miller provided!

Now, on with the review…

Firstly, we follow the life of Aven Dovenelle (a real witch) who is cursed to live life after life with all her memories of her previous lives (including her horrific deaths). Straight away Aven’s character is so intriguing, wanting to know more about her curse and her new life in Salem I didn’t have a problem in following her story word for word. In her thirteenth life she seems to have found some peace with her endless curse, having her own shop to sell magical items and true friends by her side, I loved reading about Aven’s journey and truly felt as if I knew her, understood her pain, her frustration, her love and friendships.

The prospect of this book turning into a romance genre wasn’t entirely a bad thing (who doesn’t love a good romance) but as it already has fantasy, magic, friendship and tragedy muddled within, it gave this book a perfect mixture to satisfy all readers. The relationships that Aven encounters (Calvin being one) really proves that love can be hard to come by when you are different, but Aven inspired me by proving everyone wrong that a strong independent woman (witch) can have happiness and I was swept up with the romance that blossomed between her and Cal (even if there were a few rocky patches!).

One part I thoroughly enjoyed throughout (it is very hard to pick just one!) was the chapters where the White Raven (Ren) had an inner monologue, it was a very unique writing style and quite frankly a brilliant way to tie up the relationship between Aven and the White Raven, showing a softer side to her as well as giving us some insight into how she felt about Aven and the struggle they both must go through! How there relationship whilst somewhat a mystery proved to be something much more powerful and inspiring. It broke up the usual narrative perfectly and really gave me a different side to the story that I was very grateful for!

Learning about the curse was a huge shock! Although a few twists were put in place which completely threw me. I honestly didn’t see it coming and I couldn’t imagine it being announced any better, no spoilers will be mentioned but I was completely in awe of how the whole book finished…

I think that the book was written beautifully and honestly I don’t think my words can do it justice, I do feel as if The White Raven is a perfect read if you wish to escape reality and enter a world of magic, curses and friendships. My only downside would be that it wasn’t longer (but fingers are crossed for a sequel). I will most definitely be looking out for any other books Carrie D. Miller brings out because her writing is truly wonderful!

Until next time…

If you wish to read The White Raven by Carrie D. Miller yourself you can pre-order it on Amazon here. The official release date is April 1st.

Bio: Carrie D. Miller
Carrie D. Miller was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, on October 31, 1970. She credits her vivid imagination, as well as her sugar addiction, to being a Halloween baby. In a former life, she was an executive in the software industry for many years. Her career in the technology world included software product management, website design, training, and technical writing just to name a few. Although Carrie’s written a great deal over the decades which has been read by thousands of people, software documentation allows for about as much creativity as pouring cement. At the age of 45, she decided to chuck it all to become an author which had been a life-long dream.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

16465087_1846456672259902_8354185263051702272_n1
The magic continues…

After reading the first book in the Harry Potter series I admittedly wasn’t too excited to continue on and read the Chamber of Secrets as it is not one of my favourites, however this was based on my views of the film therefore I chose to take a chance on the book and read it with a fresh perspective. Thank goodness I did because honestly I felt that this book was just as magical to read as the first one!

As I continue my magical journey with Harry Potter and learn more about his discovery of the wizarding world and what it has to offer him, I was completely engrossed with the level of detail this book offered compared to the film which I don’t think did it much justice. We learn all about House Elves, flying cars, wizarding families, deathday parties, squibs and much more…

Again this is not going to be a step by step review of the book, just my thoughts and feelings of select events.

Harry is introduced to what life as a fully magical family is like, going to spend the last few weeks of his summer holidays with his best friend Ron Weasley (getting there in a flying car might I add) opened his eyes to what being a wizard could really mean. This included ‘de-gnoming’ the garden which turns into a sport of some kind and having Quidditch practice out of sight of muggles in the back yard with Ron and his brothers. With a vibrant and busy household it does make Privet Drive look much more bleak and unwelcoming however this was one of the best summer holidays Harry has ever had.

More firsts for Harry and myself as a reader would be learning about ‘Squibs’ – in the film this didn’t get explained yet in the book we learn about how Filtch (the caretaker at Hogwarts) was born into a magical family yet possesses no magical abilities. When Harry discovers the Kwickspell course letter on Filtch’s desk he becomes aware that Filtch doesn’t know any magic but wishes to learn and this is branded him being a ‘squib’. The more these books continue I start to realise that there are so many ‘types’ of wizards out there that we don’t know about yet I am happy to find out!

One part of the book that I really enjoyed reading was about St Nicolas (nearly headless Nick) and his Deathday Party. For all you muggles out there that don’t know what this is, it is a celebration of the day St Nicolas died. Similar to a birthday party but for the anniversary of his death. As morbid as this may sound for me to enjoy this part I must say that it is an interesting twist as we learn more about the ghosts that hang around Hogwarts and their traditions and history. This party consisted of many ghosts (including the headless huntsmen) rotten food laid out for the party guests and more black candles than you could imagine. Personally I would have loved to be invited…

Another part of this book that stood out for me was the in-depth encounter Harry has with Tom Riddle’s diary, when Harry begins to write to Tom Riddle we learn that the attacks on students have happened before due to the Chamber of Secrets being opened in the past, we also learn that Tom Riddle got bribed into not telling who opened the Chamber and showed Harry his ‘memory’ of what happened, revealing that Hagrid got expelled for unleashing a ‘monster’ into Hogwarts. From this moment on I started to become suspicious of ‘Riddle’ but wished to learn more.

Dobby the House Elf… Need I say more? Now Dobby was portrayed early on as a nuisance to Harry, creating upset in the Dursley’s house causing Aunt Petunia’s pudding to float and fall on top of Uncle Vernon’s head. Then closing the entrance to Platform 9 and 3/4 so that Harry and Ron could not catch the Hogwarts Express, finally cursing a bludger to knock Harry from his broom causing him to end up in the hospital wing. However as the book goes on we learn that Dobby is only looking out for Harry trying to save his life (his methods are slightly flawed) and I personally loved how Harry returns the favour and freed Dobby from Malfoy’s father by offering him his sock. Thus creating a loyal friend and ally that would continue to ‘protect’ Harry Potter.

Finally as Harry enters the Chamber of Secrets it becomes more clear to me how rubbish Professor Lockheart is, from the beginning I didn’t like him due to his self-centered nature, yet when choosing to go into the Chamber of Secrets I know that I would not have chosen Lockheart to accompany me. However Harry becomes victorious and defeats Tom Riddle (spoiler alert!) who is in fact Lord Voldemort, rescues Ginny and from the help of Fawkes escapes the Chamber alive and well.

This book does have a lot more that I could praise and thankfully it has changed my view on this particular novel, overall I’m sure you can tell that this book was an enjoyable read and I can’t wait to continue Harry’s journey further and learn more about the wizarding world and what other things he can do to get into trouble when reading ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’.

Until next time…

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

harry-potter

New year, new book…

As 2017 has now come around I promised myself that I should stray away from using my phone so much or watching too much TV and start to read more. I have always loved reading but became so caught up with the technology that is available around me that I thought there is no time for reading anymore. My new year’s resolution to myself was to read at least 7 books by the end of the year (if you haven’t already guessed it, I chose the Harry Potter series).

The reason for choosing this series was because as a child I read these books and fell in love with the idea of magic and the endless possibilities it brought. With books you can escape to another land, another world where anything is possible and what better way to regain my love of books than the ones that I remember having a lasting impact on me for broadening my imagination and love of fiction.

I will mention now that this isn’t a step by step review of the whole book but more my thoughts and feelings of the book as a whole.

As I started to begin my magical journey with Harry Potter and his discovery of the wizarding world I realised that this book was in fact much more in depth than the films (as most books are) yet it gave me a much better understanding of the characters background and of the story line that got lost within the films. I hung on to every word as Harry journeyed through his first time at Hogwarts, meeting strange and wonderful people along the way and not to mention defeating the infamous Lord Voldemort and becoming more famous than ever before.

From the beginning I was completely engrossed, learning about Harry’s horrible upbringing with the Dursley’s made me really connect with him, feeling sympathy and hope that something good will happen to him. The characters themselves are really well written in a way that we can all understand on a personal level and connect too (everyone knows a bully, a silent hero or a nerdy best friend) and for J.K. Rowling to use these types of characters allows the idea of magic to be that much closer to home for the reader.

Personally I feel this book is one of the less sinister of the 7 as it introduces you to the history of Hogwarts, magic and the power of friendship. It does have its dark side to it, obviously every good story has to have a villain but for me Lord Voldemort is not portrayed as dark in this first book which is a nice way to start a series (make him more scary as the books go on). This book does have the uplifting sense of hope and happiness as Harry is whisked away to a magical new place to learn all about his past (not forgetting spells and potions).

Hogwarts itself is described wonderfully in this first book, giving the reader room to use their own imagination on what else could be lurking in the mass of corridors. Not to mention the feasts that are described are something that you could only dream of. The fact that Hogwarts is still a school makes reading this book again as an adult miss the thrill of starting a new year, learning new things and meeting new people (obviously Hogwarts has something my high school never did…magic!). Even though Hogwarts is a castle of wonder we need to remember that even though Harry is famous he still does his charms homework and goes to Quidditch practice like a good student.

Speaking of Quidditch, the rules of the game are explained clearly (even a Muggle like me can understand) and reading about Harry’s first Quidditch match made me glad I cannot fly a broom. However the tension of the match and the team spirit kept me reading on, I cannot express the level of detail that goes into these books to make you actually believe in such things as Quidditch yet this book did just that.

Finally, I think that overall my thoughts on this book are quite clear. This book is a brilliant start to what I can only express as a magical series and I cannot wait to continue reading and find out more about Harry’s journey in the next book ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’.

Until next time…