The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson #BookReview #YA

silentsongbirdTitle: The Silent Songbird
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Series: Hagenheim #7
Format: Digital ARC, 304 pages
Publication Details: November 8th 2016 by Thomas Nelson
Genre(s): YA; Historical Fiction
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

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Evangeline longs to be free, to live in the world outside the castle walls. But freedom comes at a cost.

Evangeline is the ward and cousin of King Richard II, and yet she dreams of a life outside of Berkhamsted Castle, where she might be free to marry for love and not politics. But the young king betroths her to his closest advisor, Lord Shiveley, a man twice as old as Evangeline. Desperate to escape a life married to a man she finds revolting, Evangeline runs away from the king and joins a small band of servants on their way back to their home village.

To keep her identity a secret, Evangeline pretends to be mute. Evangeline soon regrets the charade as she gets to know Wesley, the handsome young leader of the servants, whom she later discovers is the son of a wealthy lord. But she cannot reveal her true identity for fear she will be forced to return to King Richard and her arranged marriage.

Wesley le Wyse is intrigued by the beautiful new servant girl. When he learns that she lost her voice from a beating by a cruel former master, he is outraged. But his anger is soon redirected when he learns she has been lying to him. Not only is she not mute, but she isn’t even a servant.

Weighed down by remorse for deceiving Wesley, Evangeline fears no one will ever love her. But her future is not the only thing at stake, as she finds herself embroiled in a tangled web that threatens England’s monarchy. Should she give herself up to save the only person who cares about her? If she does, who will save the king from a plot to steal his throne?

Review

My request-happy trigger finger strikes again and I requested this book based on the cover alone. What I didn’t realise was that it’s number 7 (SEVEN!) in a series, and that Melanie Dickerson is a popular Christian author. Oh dear.

Thankfully, the books in the  Hagenheim series can be read as stand-alones. Some characters do seem to crossover but each book follows a different protagonist. So no disasters so far.

The whole Christian thing however, was slightly more of an issue for me. I’m not religious at all, but I like to think I have an open mind so I didn’t let it put me off. And to be fair, I still enjoyed the story, but I did get a bit bored with all the praying. As the story progressed it got more and more preachy.

However, let’s go back to basics. The Silent Songbird is a gentle story about Evangeline, a sheltered princess-type who feels stifled living in the King’s castle. When the King insists she marry his conniving but trusted adviser, it’s the last straw and Evangeline runs away.

In a bid to hide her identity, she becomes Eva, and claims to be mute. She ends up working as a (pretty terrible) servant and falling in love with a handsome farm-boy.

There was definitely a lot to like in this book. I enjoyed the romance and that Evangeline could be feisty. I liked that she was willing to fight for what she wanted and that she wouldn’t settle for what most girls of her stature usually would. I thought she was a good role model.

Lord Shiveley, the man whom Evangeline has been promised to was a great villain who left a bad taste in my mouth and I was rooting for our protagonist and Westley the whole time.

I did however find the story pretty predictable, and as I said earlier, the praying and god-talk got a bit much at times. It was also supposed to be a retelling of  The Little Mermaid and other than the protagonist having red hair and a beautiful singing voice, I don’t think that came through much. There did seem to be lots of nods to The Princess Bride though, which I loved.

This was a nice introduction to Melanie Dickerson, and despite the Christian theme, I’d be interested to read more of her work; it was a very readable, enjoyable YA historical fiction romance.

unicorn rating 3

 

 

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This Week in Books 30.11.16 #TWIB #CurrentlyReading

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Welcome to my weekly post, where I sum-up what I’ve been up to in bookland the past week. 

Happy Wednesday to you all! December tomorrow…Yayyyyy!

Here’s what I’ve been up to this week…

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Now:  The Silent Songbird ~ Melanie Dickerson

YA. Castles, a The Little Mermaid retelling – how could I resist!?

Then:  The Christmas Town ~ Donna VanLiere

This was a nice heart-warming story if not a little bit farcical.

Next: ??? 

Hmm, I’m not too sure, either Christmas Under a Starlit Sky by Holly Martin, Pagan Portals: Merlin (see below), or The Christmas Party by Georgette Heyer – it depends on my mood!

Waiting on Wednesday

(Linking up with Breaking the Spine)

This is another 2017 title I’m looking forward to. It’s a debut too. 

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Expected publication: February 21st 2017 by Meerkat Press

New on the Shelves

(Linking up with Stacking the Shelves)

I didn’t buy or borrow any books this week.

From Netgalley: 

I love Arthurian mythology so I’m really interested in reading this new angle on the wizard and the era he he became a legend of.


merlin

Bestselling author Elen Sentier looks at Merlin in history and mythology and considers his continuing relevance for people today.

Best known as the wizard from the Arthurian stories, Merlin has been written about for well over 1000 years and is considered to be both a magical and historical figure. Over the centuries many people have had relationships with Merlin and in this book the author brings him to life for us once again in yet another way and from yet another perspective.

 

So that’s my week in books, now why don’t you tell me about yours!?

Leave your answers or the link to your post in the comments and I’ll take a look 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday: Top books recently added to the dreaded TBR pile. #TTT

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is… Top ten books recently added to your TBR pile.

Well, this is a nice, easy topic, although I have been buying more books recently so it’ll be hard to choose just 10.

Added from Netgalley:

The Silent Songbird ~ Melanie Dickerson: I shouldn’t have requested this book because I knew I wouldn’t be able to get it read and reviewed by the pub date (today!) but I just couldn’t resist. I really fancy an epic historical YA. The opening line of the synopsis had me instantly…I mean castles =  DONE. “Evangeline longs to be free, to live in the world outside the castle walls. But freedom comes at a cost”

The Girl Who Saved Christmas ~ Matt Haig: You should all know by now that I love Christmas, and festive reads. I’ve wanted to read Matt Haig’s books for ages so this one was also impossible to resist.

The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily ~ Rachel Cohn & David Levithan: I didn’t even know this book was on the cards until I saw it on Netgalley. I loved Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares so I’m thrilled that these authors have got together once again for a sequel. This time, Dash and Lily’s brother have just 12 days until Christmas to cheer Lily up after her grandfather became seriously ill. Can they recapture the magic of Christmas in New York for her?

Shock and Awe ~ Simon Reynolds: This book chronicles the legacy of glam rock from the seventies to today and as such will heavily feature my hero, David Bowie. I don’t often read non-fiction, but I’m really looking forward to this one.

Recently Bought:

The Red Eye Box Set ~ Various: This set of four YA Horror books from Stripes Publishing arrived at the beginning of October. I’ve already read one of the books, Frozen Charlotte and really loved it so I hope the others are as good too.

A Christmas Party ~ Georgette Heyer: I picked this up from a charity shop recently. ‘Tis’ the season for…Murder‘ is the perfect tagline that enticed me.

City of Dark Magic ~ Magnus Flyte: I bought this book in an English bookshop I found in Prague. It sounds amazing.

“Once a city of enormous wealth and culture, Prague was home to emperors, alchemists, astronomers, and, as it’s whispered, hell portals. When music student Sarah Weston lands a summer job at Prague Castle cataloging Beethoven’s manuscripts, she has no idea how dangerous her life is about to become. Prague is a threshold, Sarah is warned, and it is steeped in blood.”

Six of Crows ~ Leigh Bardugo: This arrived just this week. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.

Borrowed:

The Rest of Us Just Live Here ~ Patrick Ness: It’s Ness. I don’t have to say much more. Other than perhaps my shame that I haven’t read it yet.

Koko Takes a Holiday ~ Kieran Shea: I think I can safely say that this will be my first ever Cyberpunk book. It sounds mad, in a good way. My friend Dora enjoyed it and passed it on to me.

Have you read any of these? What should I go for first?

 

 

10 Things about… Prague

As some of you may know, I went on a little break to Prague earlier this month. It was beautiful, and I thought I’d do this little post as a way of sharing some of my holiday photos 🙂

IMG_8615Its nickname, The City of a Hundred Spires’ is pretty apt. And it’s epic.

 

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IMG_8724It’s a little bit creepy. In the best way.

 

IMG_8687Cobblestones are pretty, but perilous. Go easy on the Czech Beer (that’s my mum, she went easy on the Czech beer but not the gin. Never the gin).

 

IMG_8613The Old Town Square is the place to be. It’s also the place you’ll keep returning to when you get lost in the labyrinthine side streets.

 

The castle isn’t your traditional Disney-style castle and will make you rethink your whole idea of what a castle is. And it’s epic.

 

IMG_8584Clocks. There are a lot. Nice ones. With stories.

 

IMG_8685It’s always Christmas in Prague

 

IMG_8610.JPGThis sweet cinnamon pastry thing found on every street corner and market is a delight!

 

The views from Pétrín hill are off the scale. You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a mountain when you’re scrambling up it…but it’s worth it.

 

IMG_8700There are ancient libraries that will make you want to weep but be warned – you can only look from afar. Apart from these people who seem to be VIPs. 😦

 

It’s such a beautiful city, I’d love to go back!

The The Glass Castle #BookReview #ChildrensLit

glasscastleTitle: The Glass Castle
Author: Trisha Priebe & Jerry B. Jenkins
Series: Unknown (but must be!)
Format: Digital ARC, 256 pages
Publication Details: March 1st 2016 by Shiloh Run Press
Genre(s): Children’s; Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free, advanced copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads

The king is growing old and is concerned about who will replace him. His new wife wants to produce an heir to the throne.  The only problem? Thirteen years ago, the king’s first wife gave birth to a son, and no one knows for sure what happened to him. Rumors swirl throughout the castle. The solution as simple: dispose of all the thirteen-year-olds in the kingdom. Except, it isn’t that easy. Avery and her friends won’t go quietly.  

Avery, Kate, Tuck, and Kendrick take charge of the underground network of kidnapped children, inspiring them to believe that their past does not dictate their future and pledging to do the hardest thing of all. . .reunite the children with the homes they left behind.  When they discover that one among them might be the child of a man who wants them dead, will everything they work for be lost?

Review

‘The setting from The Chronicles of Narnia meets the action from Alice in Wonderland, was the description from Netgalley which propelled me to hit that shiny request button. I’m not entirely sure I agree with said description after reading the book, but I certainly don’t regret it. 

The Glass Castle centres around Avery who along with her brother is kidnapped by a scary old woman and taken to the King’s castle where she finds a whole band of other children her age, all of whom have gone through the same thing as she.

In time Avery discovers that the King is intent on disposing of all the 13 year old orphans because his first-born may have survived and could one day claim the throne and all that comes with it. But, Avery isn’t like the others. For starters she’s not an orphan so what is she doing there? And how does it relate to her own beloved necklace which she sees in a royal portrait hanging in the castle?

I liked a lot of things about The Glass Castle. It felt quite old fashioned (which I found strangely refreshing); it was certainly reminiscent of Narnia in that way, even if it didn’t quite live up to it – but I mean, what does!? I liked the mystery surrounding Avery and her necklace, and I warmed to her character straight away.

 The old woman has hid the children in the castle to save them. Where better to hide them than right under the King’s nose? It was a bit of a leap for me to believe that all of these children can go so easily unnoticed in the castle yet participate so much in the running of it. The book explains that certain children are ‘scouts’ who run around the castle monitoring the adult’s movements and ringing bells to warn the children to move into another part of the castle. 

I really liked this idea, and often wanted to follow the scouts more than Avery. It had such good potential for some exciting near misses but they weren’t utilised enough. I felt like my favourite parts of this story were sadly unexplored. I needed more peril and more romance to make this a truly unputdownable read. 

However, The Glass Castle was a fun, quick read with the potential for much more. It was definitely required to suspend your disbelief in certain parts and not look at it from an adult point of view (not something I usually struggle with tbh) in order to fully enjoy this tale, but then, that’s the joy of Children’s literature is it not?

unicorn rating 3

 

Ice Kissed (The Kanin Chronicles #2) by Amanda Hocking

icekissed
Title: Ice Kissed
Author: Amanda Hocking
Series: The Kanin Chronicles #2
Edition: Digital ARC, 288 pages
Publication Details: May 5th 2015 by St. Martin’s Press
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase

Bryn Aven has always longed to be a part of the Kanin world. Though she has no social status because she’s a half-breed, she refuses to give up on her dream of serving the kingdom she loves. It’s a dream that brings her to a whole new realm . . . the glittering palace of the Skojare.

The Skojare people need protection from the same brutal rival who’s been threatening the Kanin, and, being half Skojare herself, it’s a chance for Bryn to learn more about her heritage. Her boss Ridley Dresden is overseeing her mission and wants to help. He’s always been her most trusted friend—but as their undeniable attraction heats up, he becomes a distraction she can’t afford.

Brynn is about to discover that the Skojare world is full of secrets, and as she’s drawn in deeper and deeper, she doesn’t know who to trust. As she gets closer to Ridley, she realizes she may not even be able to trust her own heart.

Review

Oh, this series! I seem to have developed a love/hate relationship with it. For context, you may wish to check my review of the first book, Frostfire here, because I feel a slightly muddled rant coming on.

Bryn Aven, is still on the path to accomplishing her dream of being on the hogdragen, in order to guard Kanin royalty and serve her kingdom. Ice Kissed picks up right where Frostfire left off. The status of her and her boss’ frowned-upon relationship is still in will-they-won’t-they mode, and peple are still being kidnapped.

This time however, it’s less of a kidnapping and more of a running away, as Princess Linnea has fled her palace to the magical lake Isolera where time moves differently and swimming feels like a dream. Linnea ran because she felt a growing sense of unease and tension, and she didn’t feel safe. And now it’s up to Bryn and her fellow trackers to find out what’s going on.

Sigh. There is a lot I didn’t like about this book, and they’re many of the same gripes from the first book. First of all, the story didn’t move fast enough – in fact – sometimes it felt like the story didn’t move at all.

Not enough happened. Actually, that’s not true, lots of insignificant things happened, but too few significant things did. And even when something important did happen, it didn’t seem to get resolved or have an ending. Arggggh.

But!!!! At no point did I want to stop reading. I wanted to know if Bryn and Ridley would give it a go. I wanted to know what the hell was going on with Princess Linnea and the all the weird shit going on in their palace, and more to the point, I wanted to know when Konstantin Black was going to turn up! I mean, seriously!??

I have the feeling that either this is going to be a slow-burning series with one hell of a culmination, or Hocking is just trying to squeeze out too many books for the scope of the plot.

Another thing that bothered me was the sex. Yes – SPOILER – there was sex, and that’s fine by me, usually. But here it seemed out of place. It was a bit more graphic than in other YA books, and… IDK…I found it odd. The tone was off.

I sort of wish I didn’t read the last page or so, because before that I definitely wouldn’t have felt the need to read the next book, but if Hocking does one thing successfully, it’s a goddamn cliffhanger. Argh!

I’m going to have to find out what happens next. I just hope it’s got a faster, better plot!

unicorn rating 3

[2.5 rounded-up!]

Ice Kissed is available for pre-order from Waterstones now.

*Fangirl Alert* Upcoming Release!

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The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?

Title: Shadow Scale
Author: Rachel Hartman
Series: Seraphina #2
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy
Expected Publication: March 10th 2015 by Random House Children’s Books (Hardback)
Goodreads

I did a bit of a squeal when I saw that the sequel to Seraphina had been announced. Seraphina was one of my favourite books of last year (making it to #4 on my Top Ten Books of 2013). I read it shortly before I started blogging so unfortunately I don’t have a review of it, but this is what I posted on Goodreads:

Love love loved it. Dragons, Castles, Princes and Princesses but different than the usual bumpf. I think I’ll be reading this again in the future.”

And now I have the perfect excuse to reread and review it, before Shadow Scale is released.

Not that I ever need an excuse.

March is so far away!