The Wingsnatchers by Sarah Horwitz #BookReview #ChildrensFiction

Title: The Wingsnatcherswingsnatchers1
Author: Sarah Jean Horwitz
Series: Carmer and Grit #1
Format: Digital ARC, 368 pages
Publication Details:  April 25th 2017 by Algonquin Young Readers

Genre(s): Children’s (middle grade); Fantasy; Steampunk
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

bookdepo

A stunning debut about a magician’s apprentice and a one-winged princess who must vanquish the mechanical monsters that stalk the streets and threaten the faerie kingdom.

Aspiring inventor and magician’s apprentice Felix Carmer III would rather be tinkering with his latest experiments than sawing girls in half on stage, but with Antoine the Amazifier’s show a tomato’s throw away from going under, Carmer is determined to win the cash prize in the biggest magic competition in Skemantis. When fate throws Carmer across the path of fiery, flightless faerie princess Grit (do not call her Grettifrida), they strike a deal. If Carmer will help Grit investigate a string of faerie disappearances, she’ll use her very real magic to give his mechanical illusions a much-needed boost against the competition. But Carmer and Grit soon discover they’re not the only duo trying to pair magic with machine – and the combination can be deadly.


Review

The Wingsnatcher’s is the first book in a series featuring Grit the one-winged faery princess and Carmer, a (failing) magician’s apprentice who live in two very different worlds but have one thing in common – they are both in need of help. And so they make a pact to help each other and become firm friends along the way.

I loved the premise of this book and the story itself did not disappoint. Horwitz has created a fantasy world that is both adorable and edgy. Some will fall in love with Grit and her plight of being a one-winged faery, a disability she has accepted and overcome, and others will love Carmer and his ambition of being this great inventor but who feels a loyalty to the hopeless magician who took him under his wing.

Together, the unlikely duo try to discover who is attacking faeries, and win the invention competition as Carmer’s livelihood and future is at stake.

I really enjoyed the dynamic of these two characters, and their dialogue was great. I also really enjoyed Steampunk elements of the story; there are these demonic mechanical cats who were genuinely scary so I’d bear that in mind when giving to a younger child – I loved them though.

Great action, great descriptions and interesting characters; I just thought the pace was a tad slow, and that the book didn’t need to be over 300 pages, especially considering the target market.

unicorn rating 3

 

 

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

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Title: Heir of Fire
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #3
Edition: Paperback, 562 pages
Publication Details: September 2nd 2014 by Bloomsbury Childrens
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it!

Goodreads // Purchase

Celaena Sardothien has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Now she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth…a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever.
Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. To defeat them, Celaena must find the strength to not only fight her inner demons but to battle the evil that is about to be unleashed.

The king’s assassin takes on an even greater destiny and burns brighter than ever before in this follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Crown of Midnight.

Review

I don’t know what it is about this series. I love it at the time of reading, but then I fall out of love with the idea of it and I struggle to find the motivation to pick up the next book. That’s what happened with Heir of Fire.

I bought a copy not long after its release but it took me this long to pick it up. And even when I finally did, I couldn’t get into it at all! I was pretty close to giving up on the series altogether to be honest…but then I got hooked again. Ugh make up your mind, Woman!

I think I only fell in love with this book about half way through, but then I didn’t want to put it down.

In this, the third instalment of the Throne of Glass series, Celaena Sardothian, the once all-powerful, all-confident assassin is a broken woman. She’s walking the streets in a booze-induced stupor, almost starving, getting into fights and losing most, because her strength has all but gone.

She doesn’t seem to have any direction, and although I found it interesting to see this fall from grace, it was all a bit dull to start with. Until, that is, she meets Rowan.

Rowan, a prince of fae is ordered to train Celaena to control her fae powers so she can once again fight against those who plan on enslaving her and her people. Of course, she’s reluctant at first, tired of fighting for other people, but it’s not long until the fire in her is ignited, and with the help of brutal Rowan, Celaena slowly becomes herself again.

I’m not gonna lie, for a lot of this book I didn’t really know what was going on. I kind of skimmed the beginning because I couldn’t get into it and then when I got to the good stuff I was confused. But I couldn’t go back, because I couldn’t tear myself away.

I loved how the relationship between Rowan and Celaena developed and as much as I wanted them to get in on – he is clearly mega hawtttt – I’m glad that instead their friendship became solid and trustworthy. I felt like Celaena really needed that instead of another romance. It was refreshing.

There were a lot of things I didn’t like about this book, for example, I had no idea what the witch-clan chapters were all about, and I found myself skipping some of them but they are pretty terrifying characters and make great villains so I’m hoping it’ll be explored better in the next book.

Despite everything, I still ended up loving this book. I can’t really explain it. I think I’m just destined to have a love/hate relationship with this series.

As it stands, I can’t wait until the next book, but by the time it comes around, I’ll probably feel differently. Sigh!

unicorn rating 4

Heir of Fire is available in paperback from Waterstones now.

Frostfire by Amanda Hocking

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Title: Frostfire
Author: Amanda Hocking
Series: The Kanin Chronicles #1
Edition: Kindle, 300 pages
Publication Details: January 1st 2015 by Tor UK
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it

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Bryn Aven is an outcast among the Kanin, the most powerful of the troll tribes.

Set apart by her heritage and her past, Bryn is a tracker who’s determined to become a respected part of her world. She has just one goal: become a member of the elite King’s Guard to protect the royal family. She’s not going to let anything stand in her way, not even a forbidden romance with her boss Ridley Dresden.

But all her plans for the future are put on hold when Konstantin– a fallen hero she once loved – begins kidnapping changelings. Bryn is sent in to help stop him, but will she lose her heart in the process?

Review


I’m pretty dubious about starting new series these days because I’m so bloody rubbish at keeping up or finishing them. To be honest, I only bought this one because I was approved for a copy of book two on Netgalley, which I requested based solely on the cover alone. They’re very pretty!

Frostfire was my first foray into Hocking’s world of the Trylle, well, it was my foray into Amanda Hocking’s work full stop, and I was impressed with some elements, but disappointed with others.

Bryn is a tracker whose job it is to track down changelings and bring them back to the Kanin tribes. Her lifelong dream is to be promoted into the royal guard and therefore feels like she has a lot to prove, and tries to do everything to the best of her ability.

However, certain things keep getting in her way. Firstly, her growing attraction to Ridley her boss, and then there’s her mixed feelings for Konstantin who she used to have a major crush on until he attacked her father. Now Konstantin has started kidnapping changelings, but even though it appears obvious that he is the source of all that’s going on, Bryn isn’t so sure. Are old feelings resurfacing and impairing her judgement, or is there more to Konstantin and the kidnappings than everyone believes?

Either way, unless Bryn can find the missing changelings or prove that she’s right about Konstantin, any hopes of her dream job, or her people’s faith in her are in jeopardy.

I’m really torn with this book. On one hand, I think Hocking did a good job of bringing this world that was completely new to me (trolls!) to life, but on the other I felt like there was a bit too much telling rather than showing. I was having to learn too much in too short a time. As a result, I found the pace quite slow and was hankering for less talk and more action.

I also wasn’t a huge fan of there being two potential love interests. I’ve read that Hocking’s books are quite love-triangle-heavy but that she claimed that there wouldn’t be one in Frostfire. Well, there pretty much is! Bryn and Ridley’s relationship is quite cute and had potential, but it’s obvious throughout that if Konstantin and Bryn got it on instead it would be hawwwwwt. That’s clearly the direction it’s going in, non?

Other the than pacing issues, I enjoyed Hocking’s writing a lot. I didn’t particularly think much of the troll element, as they didn’t seem to resemble what I thought of as trolls, but I kind of liked that. It’s a whole new mythology to me and I’m interested to see where it goes.

As a stand alone, Frostfire doesn’t work at all, but if you think of it as an introduction, it has potential. I look forward to finding out if it can live up to it.

unicorn rating 3

Frostfire is available now, and book #2, Ice Kissed, is released May 5th

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

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Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Series: N/A
Edition: Digital ARC, 336 pages
Publication Details: January 13th 2015 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an HONEST review.

Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

Review

YES! This is what I’ve been waiting for by Holly Black.

Since absolutely loving The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, I knew I needed to read more by her. I had planned on reading her back catalogue but you know how it is…so little time. Therefore, I was pretty thrilled when I got approved for an advanced copy of this one. And rightly so!

The Darkest Part of the Forest is a fairy book with bite. It reads like a deliciously dark classic fairy tale, but it’s thoroughly modern too.

In the small town of Fairfold, humans go about their days like any average community, but there’s just one difference, faeries also exist. On the whole, faeries have come to be accepted and their magic is seen as harmless. However, many people in Fairfold continue to abide by certain rules and superstitions in order to make them immune to their magic, making you raise an eyebrow as to whether they are as harmless as everyone thinks they are.

The town has an interesting history to say the least. And at the centre of it all, is the horned boy who sleeps in the glass coffin in the middle of the forest. He’s been there for as long as anyone remembers and he never wakes up, or ages.

Protagonists Hazel and Ben have fawned over the horned boy since they were little, naming him their Prince, they both dream of kissing him and they long for him to wake up.

But then he does…. and Hazel and Ben’s lives soon start to unravel. Can they protect themselves and save their Prince, or will their secrets come between them and destroy everything ?

To show your regard, you give each other other lovely bouquets of lies.”

I’m finding it so hard to review this book, which is always a sign that I loved it! There are just so many things I liked about it, it’s hard to put into words.

For starters, I found the writing style beautiful. It’s one of those books where I just wanted to highlight passage after passage. It was honest and heartbreaking, and magical all at once.

Hazel never cried. She was forged from iron, she never broke. No one was tougher than his sister. The worst part was how quietly she wept, as if she’d taught herself how, as if she was so used to doing it that it had just become the way she cried.”

Hazel and Ben really stand out as great protagonists for me. I loved how close they were but that they had so many secrets from each other which twisted and tainted their lives. I loved that they were both in love with the horned boy, and that there was never any hoohaah about Ben being a young gay character – which is exactly how it should be – but you still rarely get gay characters in stories without their sexuality being a big issue, or the driving force of the plot.

I was blown away by how Holly Black built this world of fae but made it so modern. It felt like such a perfect juxtaposition, something I haven’t seen pulled off so well before. For example, she uses age-old folklore such as the residents of Fairfold filling their pockets with iron and oats to protect them from faery magic and in the same breath, the horned boy attracts tourists wanting to take selfies with him.

I loved that Hazel was a Knight. I loved that the kids of Fairfold seemed so normal despite living amongst faeries. I mean, they get wasted  and dance around (and on top) of the the horned boy’s coffin… so much to love.

I can’t even get started on the romances. Seriously. I’ll just stop now.

The only reason I’ve given it 4 unicorns instead of 5 is because it took me quite a few chapters to get into it. But that’s the only tiny grumble I have.

unicorn rating 4Available now in hardback!

It’s a Love or Hate Kinda Thing: Godmother by Carolyn Turgeon

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Title: Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story
Author: Carolyn Turgeon
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 288 pages
Published: March 3rd 2009 by Broadway Books
Genre(s): YA; Fairy Tale Retellings
Disclosure? Nope, it was a gift.

Goodreads
Purchase

Turgeon’s shockingly original and magical novel advises you to be careful what you wish for, because fairy tales come true – whether they should or not. The tiny figure making its way to the book shop in Manhattan’s West Village every day looks just like another sweet little old lady. But Lilian has a secret.

Oh, where to start.

I was all set to love this book and was totally in the mood for a dark, gritty retelling of Cinderella but unfortunately that wasn’t what I got in Godmother.

Godmother is centered around Lil, a seemingly normal, lonely old lady with a penchant for cheeseburgers. Lil, lives by herself in Manhattan and works hard in a book shop downtown.

An encounter with a vivacious young girl reminds Lil of her past, bringing the world of fae back into her life and we learn that she was one of Cinderella’s fairy Godmothers.

Sigh. I don’t know whether it was just not what I was expecting, but I couldn’t get on with this book at all. I found it pretty painful to read to be honest. I couldn’t find anything new or exciting about this retelling. Turgeon even managed to make working in a beautiful bookshop sound dull, and that’s like my dream job – if only it paid more.

***Spoilers lie ahead, but they’re quite early on in the book***

I gather that the whole crux of this book was that Lil fell in love with the Prince rather than help Cinderella get to the ball, and then she spends her old age trying to set up her boss with the young girl she meets to make up for it, but honestly I was lost by then. Away with the actual fairies, if you will.

I did like that the protagonist was a pensioner, as that’s hardly ever something you see in YA, and think there was potential here but I was more interested in the betrayal of Cinderella than the present day and I felt like that was just glossed over. I didn’t care about the present day story at all.

Godmother is quite a small book, but I just couldn’t make myself finish it. I had about 50 pages left before I went away for the weekend and when I got back I knew I wouldn’t pick it up again.

From the look of Goodreads, Godmother is the Marmite of the book world so you may well enjoy it if you give it a go, don’t just take my word for it.

unicorn rating 1

I read this book as part of the TBR Pile Reading Challenge and the Once Upon A Time VIII Challenge.

Fantasy & Foliage: Words Once Spoken by Carly Drake

YA meets high fantasy in this lush series debut about a girl who never quite fit in — and the reason why…

Evelyn might not love the confines of her village life, but she takes her small freedoms where she can get them. But everything changes when her parents decide it’s time for her to wed. Suddenly she loses her tunic and breeches, her bow, her horse, and gains rigid gowns, restrictive manners, and carriage rides.

The best way to escape is through her dreams, but as they become more and more real, Evelyn begins to worry that she is losing her grasp on reality. It is only when she makes two new friends that the truth is revealed: she is destined for far, far more than even she could imagine.

Words Once Spoken was a book of two halves for me. I was so blown away by the cover and loved the synopsis so I was really looking forward to it. And from the off I was delighted.

The story of a girl frustrated by the restrictions and expectations placed on her growing up in medieval England isn’t a new one to me, but I loved the simplicity of the writing which flowed like a fairy tale and what made it for me was the characterisation of Evelyn herself.

She was different in that she needed freedom with a capital N! She hates confined spaces and even being inside with the windows shut is a big no-no for her. Evelyn also can’t stomach regular food and instead nibbles on flowers and other foliage. I found it quite cute, especially her mother’s exasperation of her daughter’s odd habits (including sleeping on a pallet of moss rather than a bed). This was a great way to introduce magic into the story and I could tell from the beginning that Evelyn clearly wasn’t going to turn out to be human. I was banking on a nymph or the like.

Evelyn arrives at court (where she’s forced to go to be married off, of course) leaving behind her horse because she can’t side-saddle, and her mother has burnt all of her ‘boys’ clothes and packed only dresses. Which she rebels against, obviously. Her ‘odd habits’ can be seen as yet another portrayal of female oppression if you want to go down that route, which I don’t. Moving on.

It’s not long before Evelyn has caught the eyes of both Lord Devon and the Prince and a pseudo-not quite- love triangle ensues. Unfortunately this is where Words Once Spoken started to lose me.

This book is ridiculously fast-paced. A little bit too fast-paced, which I don’t think I’ve ever used as a criticism before. The second half of this book was just too simple. At some point it turned into thishappens, thishappens, this,this,this, boom, the end. I felt a bit shell-shocked by the end of it.

Not only do we found out what Evelyn really is, all of a sudden there are vampires and werewolves, good faeries, bad faeries and everything in between all thrown together for i’m not really sure what reason. You can’t just tell me that that guy is a vampire when he has shown NO SIGNS of being anything but human.

Alas, Words Once Spoken is still a nice, uber quick read that is definitely enjoyable; it’s lots of fun. I’m hoping this is just the introduction to Evelyn’s new world that will grow into something great. The ending certainly makes it seem possible.

Disclosure: I received a copy from the Author/Publisher for an HONEST review. Thanks!
Details: ebook, published October 2013 by Escape Publishing
My Rating: 3 out of 5 Unicorns
If you liked this try: Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely