Book Review: The Near Witch

Aug
18
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
The Near Witch The Near Witch by
Series: The Near Witch #1
Published by in 2011
Genres: ,
Pages: 282
Source:
Goodreads

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. 

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. 

And there are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. But when an actual stranger-a boy who seems to fade like smoke-appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi's need to know- about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

My Review:

Another high(ish) fantasy! I am loving this trend!

One of the things I really liked about this book was the message. It is clear from very early on that certain characters are extremely prejudiced against strangers. Throughout the book this prejudice is consistently shown as the root of the problems. This message is very timely considering certain global problems our society is facing.

Another thing I enjoyed about the book was the feel. Despite the novel format, the style and tone gave the story the air of an ancient ballad, told by some bard in the local tavern. I want to see this story as a story couched within another, like the 1001 Arabian Nights stories. The stories Scheherezade tells are just as interesting as her story itself. I’d be interested to know if the author plans to make a series out of this – not necessarily dealing with these characters ever again, but returning to this world to tell other stories about other aspects of the world.

All in all this was a very good debut novel. I’ll be looking forward to her next one eagerly!





Book Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset

May
24
4 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
The Girl in the Steel Corset The Girl in the Steel Corset by
Series: Steampunk Chronicles #1
Published by in 2011
Genres: ,
Pages: 473
Source:
Goodreads

In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one...except the "thing" inside her...
When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a fullgrown man with one punch....
Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.
Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help—and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.
But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on—even if it seems no one believes her.

My Review:

As those of you who have been around here for a while may know, I’m kind of obsessed with steampunk anything right now. Something about this genre really speaks to me, for some reason. But Kady Cross’s Girl in the Steel Corset has outstripped many others for me. This book was truly Amazing with a capital “A”! There are so many wonderful things about this book that I hardly know where to start raving! (You’ll have to excuse me gushing all over myself. It really was that good.)

One of the many amazing things about this book was how wonderful all the characters were. I really, honestly had very strong pictures of them in my mind, and even started a dream cast, from very early on in the book. For example, especially towards the end, Sam and Emily reminded me very strongly of Marshall and Lily from How I Met Your Mother based on how they were described physically. But the best part was, even though I could picture them so vividly, was how original these characters were. They felt like real people to me, people that I desperately want to meet someday.

I also loved the way Cross brought in so many other works. There was the obvious Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde reference, but there were flavours throughout the book of other relevant stories. It is clear that Cross reads across many genres and knows how to incorporate elements she loves into the stories she writes.

There are so many more wonderful things I could say about the novel, but I’m starting to risk spoilers, and you wouldn’t want that. The book is so much more satisfying when you go into it knowing next to nothing! I am so excited about this book. I can guarantee I will treasure it for a very long time!





Book Review: A Tale of Two Castles

Apr
24
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
A Tale of Two Castles A Tale of Two Castles by
Series: A Tale of Two Castles #1
Published by in 2011
Genres: ,
Pages: 328
Source:
Goodreads
Twelve-year-old Elodie dreams of becoming a mansioner--an actress. She journeys across the sea to the town of Two Castles in hopes of becoming an apprentice to a mansioning troupe, but things do not go according to plan. In spite of Elodie's great talent, the troupe already has plenty of apprentices. Elodie is out of luck: She has no money, no apprenticeship, and no home.
But an opportunity arises. The wise dragon Meenore is in need of an assistant to proclaim ITs powers of deduction and induction. Elodie is in need of a position. And so she becomes the dragon's assistant. When the town's hated ogre, Count Jonty Um, seeks the dragon's help in finding his stolen dog, Elodie is sent to the ogre's castle to get to the bottom of the mystery. More is afoot than just a missing dog. The ogre is in grave danger, and Elodie must use her mansioning skills and her powers of deduction to discover the source of the threat.

My Review:

I have loved Gail Carson Levine for a very long time. Ever since I read Ella Enchanted back in elementary school I knew I had to read anything I could manage. So, when I saw this book up on NetGalley for review, I jumped at the chance.

I will admit, I’ve grown out of MG novels, in general. Even when I was the right age for them, I was very picky – I hated books that were condescending (or that I thought were condescending) just because they were geared toward a younger audience. Levine never does that, and that was why I loved her. And I still love her, but it did take me a while to readjust to a MG novel after not reading any for many years.

This book did not disappoint. Levine sets up her cast of interesting characters well, leaving just enough mystery to keep us interested. I particularly enjoyed the character of Meenore – hints of Sherlock Holmes ran through it’s characterization, but they all seemed to fit really well. I also really enjoyed the juxtaposition of the “monsters” and the “people” and how the definitions of both change through the book.

But the best thing about this book for me, was the story. I genuinely enjoyed this book simply for the pleasure of hearing a story told (or reading one, rather). I enjoyed the twists and turns of the mystery, felt sorry for Jonty Um the ogre, and felt hurt with Elodie. This book was pure fun all the way through, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a decent story!





Book Review: The Last Little Blue Envelope

Apr
19
3 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
The Last Little Blue Envelope The Last Little Blue Envelope by
Series: Little Blue Envelope #2
Published by in 2011
Genres: , ,
Pages: 282
Source:
Goodreads

Ginny Blackstone thought that the biggest adventure of her life was behind her. She spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny’s backpack-and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how it was supposed to end.

Months later, a mysterious boy contacts Ginny from London, saying he’s found her bag. Finally, Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure, and Ginny finds she must hold onto her wits-and her heart. This time, there are no instructions.

My Review:

When I read 13 Little Blue Envelopes I was a Freshman in college. I was young and naïve. I’d only ever been overseas on tours with music groups and even then we didn’t do much outside our itinerary. I loved to travel though and the idea of traveling around the way Ginny did really impressed me. I was sure I could never do what Ginny had done, but I sure wished I could.

Oh, how things can change.

4 years later, here I am about to graduate and I have a totally different perspective. I have now spent a year abroad and wonder of wonders, I had my own Little Blue Envelopes trip (though not quite so extreme). I’ve grown as Ginny did, and now I can relate to her again, in a different way.

First stop: Paris. Such a glamorous city! Aunt Peg is right, there is no way you can “know” a city from just one visit. This time instead of being green with envy, I was able to sit back a bit and recognize some of the places I’d been and reacquaint myself with them. I like to think Les Petits Chiens was just around the corner from the Hostel we stayed in, next to the quaint little bookshop I had to visit. You can really tell that Johnson has done this at some point and it is so wonderful that she can share the experience so vividly through her characters’ eyes.

But my perspective was not the only new thing this time. I really loved the addition of Oliver to the cast. He was pleasantly frustrating and mysterious, and his story was part of the reason that I couldn’t put the book down.

View Spoilers »
I was never very sure about Keith the first time around and I am so glad that Ginny didn’t end up with him forever. Oliver seems so much better for her than Keith would have been, even if he did some things I don’t really approve of. We all do things like that sometimes. Ellis was also a nice addition, though her character was used mostly for Keith/Ginny conflict. She seems like the kind of girl I would love to be friends with, even if she was dating the guy I still had a crush on

In the end, this wasn’t just a book about traveling. It’s about creativity and art and finding beauty where you least expect it. As an artist myself this really spoke to me. Two quotes from Aunt Peg really stuck with me and I’d like to leave you with them:

“People always say they can’t do things, that they’re impossible. They just haven’t been creative enough.” – pg. 48 (advance e-proof copy, page numbers may not be the same in finished copy) The Last Little Blue Envelope, Maureen Johnson

“I think something is art when it is created with intention.” – pg. 156 (advance e-proof copy, page numbers may not be the same in finished copy) The Last Little Blue Envelope, Maureen Johnson

Thank you, Maureen Johnson. You inspire me to find my art, no matter what anyone else thinks, and that is the greatest inspiration any artist can have.





Book Review: The Goddess Test

Apr
12
3 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
The Goddess Test The Goddess Test by
Series: Goddess Test #1
Published by in 2011
Genres: ,
Pages: 293
Source:
Goodreads

EVERY GIRL who has taken the test has DIED.
Now it's KATE'S TURN.
It’s always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate’s going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won’t live past the fall.
Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.
Kate is sure he’s crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride, and a goddess.
If she fails...

My Review:

I may be slightly prejudiced because I am a huge fan of ancient mythology, but I loved this book! The premise is simple – Hades (aka Henry) has lost Persephone, but he cannot rule the underworld alone. For thousands of years he has been trying to find a girl to rule with him, but all eleven have died trying. Kate enters into the bargain anyway, in hope of saving her mother who is dying of cancer.

Firstly, I loved the portrayal of Henry. 99.9% of the time, if Hades shows up in a book, he’s the bad guy. For good reason, obviously, we like to blame the guy who is associated with death for everything, but every once in a while, you gotta feel sorry for the guy. Carter’s portrayal shows him as a sensitive guy who gets blamed for stuff because of who he is, but isn’t actually too bad. In fact, despite the obvious references to mythology, the strongest thread running through this story for me, was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast (which just so happens to be my favorite fairy tale, like Persephone is my favorite myth). I actually liked Henry, because he was willing to stand up for Kate and he felt sorry for what he was asking her to do – the evil bad dude that always turns out to be Hades is couldn’t do that without some really good acting skills, and I’m hoping those never surface, because I like Henry the way he is.

I also loved the fact that Kate isn’t going with Henry because she “can’t live without him.” I’ve seen plenty of love stories recently that play with this theme, and while I was willing to put up with it in the beginning, it’s starting to get a little old. But Kate isn’t like that. Even once she begins to realize her feelings for Henry she is willing to leave him once her six months are up, and frankly is more worried about passing the tests so her mother can live than figuring out a relationship with Henry. I find this much more believable than the whole “Love you so much I can never leave you! Nothing else matters in the world!” and I enjoyed the book because of it.

I’m so excited to share this book with everyone, and I cannot wait until the next book comes out! What happens next?





Many older posts are currently under reconstruction. Please excuse the inconvenience.

Welcome!

Creativity's Corner is dedicated to fostering discussion among a community built around books. I'm so happy you decided to join us! If you have any questions please check out the Tips for New Readers page.

Creativity's Corner is NOT accepting any review requests at this time. Thank you for your consideration.