Secrets, Science, and Magic

The Secret Science of MagicThe unsolvable problem: If Sophia is a genius, why can’t she crack the puzzle of what to do with her life?

Fact: Sophia is smart. As in, certified-child-prodigy, breezing-through-uni-subjects-even-though-she’s-only-in-year-twelve smart. This terrifies her, because geniuses have a tendency to end up as recluses and weirdos – and with her current social ineptness, she’s halfway there already.

Truth: Joshua is good at magic tricks, ignoring most things about year twelve, and not thinking at all about life after high school.

Fact: Sophia can’t even talk to her best friend Elsie about her anxieties, because Elsie is firmly focused on her own future – and on plans that will mean leaving Sophia behind.

Truth: Joshua has had a secret crush on Sophia since forever, but he doesn’t have forever to act on it.

Fact: There are some things no amount of genius can prepare you for … and the messiness of the real world is one of them.

Truth: Timing is everything.

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Magic, Shadows, and Light

Question: How do you write a review for your favourite series? Answer: SHRIEK AND RUN AWAY BECAUSE IT’S TOO HARD. Ever since finishing A Conjuring of Light, I’ve wanted to write a post about my love for A Darker Shade of Magic and just V.E. Schwab in general (and how I kind of daydream about us marrying but MEETING HER would be a start), but like… WHERE TO START? What can I say except that this series enveloped me and I fell utterly in love with the characters and I was left a sobbing mess by the end? HUH? Is it even possible?

If you don’t know what A Darker Shade of Magic is… WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? THIS IS ABSURD. THIS IS MADNESS. But just because I’m kind, I’ll shed some light on it for you. This series is full of magic and different Londons and awesome coats and thieving pirates — and that’s basically all you need to know! Seriously, this is a one-of-a-kind adventure and V.E. Schwab has a special place in my heart. She’s the only author that’s made me lie on the couch for three days straight reading and rereading this series, and then three more trying to recover from the ending. THESE BOOKS WILL RUIN YOU. But, you know, in a good way. I promise.

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The Magic of Middle-Grade

molly-and-pim

Molly’s mother is not like other mothers: she rides a yellow bike and collects herbs and makes potions, perhaps even magical potions. Molly wants to be normal, like her friend Ellen, and watch television and eat food that comes in packets. But when Molly’s mother accidentally turns herself into a tree, Molly turns to the strange and wonderful Pim for help. And as they look for a way to rescue her mother, Molly discovers how to be happy with the oddness in her life.

Martine Murray’s new illustrated middle-grade novel Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars is a whimsical story about friendship and individuality and learning to see the freshness and wonder in the world.Read More »

A fangirl’s review of everything FANTASTIC BEASTS

fantastic-beasts

When Magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when his magical case is misplaced and some of Newt’s fantastic beasts escape, it spells trouble for everyone…

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them marks the screenwriting debut of J.K. Rowling, author of the beloved and internationally bestselling Harry Potter books. Featuring a cast of remarkable characters, this is epic, adventure-packed storytelling at its very best. 

Whether an existing fan or new to the wizarding world, this is a perfect addition to any reader’s bookshelf.Read More »

Carry On – book review

Carry On

Carry On, written by Rainbow Rowell, is a book you’ll fall head-over-heels for.

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savour his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to stow him away in the mountains where he might be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get the chance to relax and savour anything.

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I can’t even express how much I loved this book. Right now, I’m trying to control myself from falling off my chair and rolling around on the floor with Carry On held to my chest. It was magically, jaw-droppingly good. Ever since I read Fangirl, I wished I could read more about Simon and Baz. Well, I got my wish, along with the many other people who have fallen head-over-heals for Rainbow Rowell’s writing. I was literally counting down the days until this book was released from about 90 days out. When I finally got my hands on this book, I couldn’t contain myself. I immediately put down the other books I was reading and devoured Carry On in just two days. If I had no other life obligations, I can assure you that I would have just sat on my bed and read it from start to finish in one go.

For those of you who don’t know, Carry On is the fanfic which a character in Fangirl writes, which is based off a fictional series about wizards. This series and the fanfic that Cath writes is very similar to Harry Potter in many aspects, so some may think of it as just a well-written Harry Potter fanfiction. Except different. And surprisingly, even more swoon-worthy. I absolutely loved finding the parts of Carry On which were explicitly mentioned in Fangirl and sometimes I would have the books opened side by side, comparing the magic of Rainbow’s writing. I truly can’t wrap my head around how amazing this book was.

Maybe we’ll talk a little about the world-building now, shall we? For starters, this book felt very British. If you know anything about Rainbow Rowell, you might know she’s not British. However, this book felt researched to ensure the characters sounded British and were kind of British in their actions. This book could have easily felt really American, and then it wouldn’t have achieved one of its purposes. So that’s basically all I wanted to say about the Normal world – the Mage world is far more interesting. It’s rare that I can immediately sink into the world of the characters, particularly if it’s different to our own. But with Carry On, in an eery sense, it felt like I was coming home. In many ways, it is similar to Harry Potter, so that may have helped, or maybe I was just so relieved to be back in a magical world. Nevertheless, I felt comfortable at Watford and like I could be dropped into their world and already have a clear picture of their school. And also, I’m not sure about all versions of this book, but my paperback version had a map of the school on the inside of the cover at both ends, which was also helpful – not to mention cute and quirky!

Let’s just touch upon the fact that this book has incredibly cute works of art of the characters / scenes at the beginning of each “book”. Some of you might be like – each book… what? Well, this book is split into a few different “books”, but it’s practically just a fancy chapter break. One thing I really liked about this book was the flow of it. I was constantly engaged and on the edge of my seat. There wasn’t a single part of this book that seemed to be lacking in lustre. I’d finish each chapter thinking – just one more chapter – no matter how late it was getting. Or should I say, early.

Okay, I think it’s time to talk about characters. *deep breath* *tries not to smile ridiculously* *fails* So first of all, Simon. Simon was just such a sweetie. What I loved most about him was that he wasn’t perfect. Yes, he may have been the “Chosen One”, but that doesn’t mean he’s perfect. He was far from perfect, and that made me love him even more. He wasn’t particularly good at using magic sometimes, he wasn’t good at verbalising his feelings and he’d make mistakes with his friends, but that made him all the more endearing. What he was good at was never giving up and being determined to do the right thing. He was a beautiful character to follow and it was really interesting to get to know what happened to him in the past and what made him what he was. There was also an element of mystery surrounding that which made this novel all the more addictive. I desperately wanted to know what was really happening with him and the truth about his past. I had never guessed what was revealed, and that was the best feeling in the world. I love being surprised while reading, and that’s definitely what I got with this book. There were twists around every corner and each character had multiple dimensions to them. It was phenomenal.

Now Baz. How do I even begin to describe Baz? I liked Baz even more than Simon. Yes, he may have been a vampire. And yes, he did have urges to kill people. Maybe it’s just the hopeless teenage girl inside me that always falls for the vampire. There’s nothing more romantic than blood-sucking, stunningly attractive vampires, am I right? Vampire stuff aside, I just loved Baz’s personality. He could be sarcastic and unpredictable, but deep down, he was sweet and desperately wanted to find out the truth behind how his mother died and who was responsible. There was a massive change in his character from the beginning to the end. He became more empathetic and less cold as we got to know him. I loved learning about his past as well, and seeing what made him who he is today. His past was quite saddening and my heart broke for Baz. He was often misunderstood, and it honestly warmed my heart to see him finally being accepted for who he really is at the end of Carry On.

Agatha and Penelope were lovely characters to get to know. I enjoyed their part in the book, Penelope’s especially. I liked how Penelope was such a big part of Simon’s life and how they would spend so much time together. It was hilarious when Penelope complained about her roommate. She was such a lively, opinionated character and she was great to read about. Agatha was… different. I never really knew whether I liked her or not, but I tended to swing towards the latter. She seemed a little stuck up at points and she was rude to quite a few characters who I felt protective over. Nevertheless, all the secondary characters were really well-developed and fun to read about.

Finally – it’s time. Let’s discuss the romance between Simon and Baz. Their transition from enemies to friends to something more was one heck of a roller coaster to be on. There were certainly a lot of bumps in their relationship, but they always came back to the same underlying feelings. I knew that there was going to be romance between Simon and Baz because of Fangirl, but I didn’t predict it would be as cute and swoon-worthy as it was. Their first kiss was electrifying. That part of the book would definitely have to be my favourite. In this part, the book alternated between Simon and Baz’s point of view, which was useful and sweet to see. Each chapter had the point of view from one character and these characters would not just be the primary characters. In this moment especially, I loved how Rainbow could write from everyone’s point of view with it feeling realistic and honest.

The ending of this book, in my opinion, couldn’t have been done any better. I never predicted how it would end, well, except for one part, and it was happily surprising. I couldn’t be more thrilled with how this book turned out. It was definitely worth the wait. If you’ve read Fangirl, reading this book is a must. If you’re a fan of other Rainbow Rowell books, you’ll fall head-over-heels for this one too. Even if you’ve never heard of this book or of Rainbow’s other books, you can start with this one. Reading Fangirl definitely isn’t a necessity as you won’t feel left out of anything by reading this one first, but I definitely recommend reading both of those books regardless. I’d give Carry On by Rainbow Rowell a score of 10 out of 10. SO – have you read this book yet? Have you read any other books by Rainbow Rowell? Do you like the sound of this book? I’d love to know! 🙂

Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!

Wish – book review

Wish by Alexandra Bullen

Wish by Alexandra Bullen is a beautiful story of love, tragedy and magic.

Broken-hearted and grieving after her twin sister’s death, Olivia has never felt more alone. Violet has always been the outgoing sister, and now Olivia finds the whole idea of making new friends daunting. Tension rises at home for Olivia as well. Her parents struggle to cope with the loss of one of their daughters and just being around where Violet used to be is painfully hard, let alone living in a world where Violet is no longer there. Olivia’s life starts to spiral out of control…

Nothing can change the fact that Violet is gone… That is, until a mysterious and beautiful gown arrives at Olivia’s doorstep. This dress doesn’t just look magical, it is magical. It has the power to grant Olivia one wish – and the only thing Olivia wants is her sister back.

Once Violet is back at Olivia’s side, both girls get a second chance at life. The sisters then realise they have two more dresses – two more wishes. But magic can’t solve everything, and Olivia is forced to learn to love, laugh and live again. Wish poses the question: if you could have anything, what would you wish for?

I actually really enjoyed reading Wish. At first, I was a little put off by the cover. Yes, the cover is really pretty, but it made me wonder is this book was going to be just a girly, glittery type book. Because of that, I expected the story to be more like a fairy-tale. However, I found myself really like reading this book. It was a really sweet, cute read. I was never bored and I was constantly guessing what was going to happen. I loved the characters in this book, especially Olivia. Being the main character, I naturally felt connected to her. As the story progressed, I got to know her a lot better and learnt more about her past. At the beginning of the book, I knew Olivia’s sister was dead, however I didn’t really know how she died. I found out later on in the book, but I would have liked that cleared up at the start. I also loved reading about Violet, Olivia’s sister. I could see that Violet and Olivia were pretty different to one another, however I loved Violet’s attitude to everything and she was a very opinionated person who I enjoyed reading about. Wish was a really delightful book which I enjoyed reading. I’d give Wish by Alexandra Bullen a score of 8 out of 10. If you’re looking for a sweet and pleasurable read, Wish is the perfect book for you.

Hex Hall – book review

Hex Hall book

Funny, mysterious and alluring… Hex Hall is the first book in its series, written by Rachel Hawkins.

Only three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she’s a witch. She has abilities that she doesn’t completely understand how to control. Her mother is very supportive of her and tries her best to help her, even though she’s only a human. Her mother only contacts Sophie’s estranged father – who is an important European warlock – when completely necessary.

But then on prom night, a spell Sophie has cast has gone horribly wrong and caused too much human attention. Sophie is ordered to live at Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for defiant Prodigium (witches, fairies and shape-shifters). Knowing no one from the school and nothing of the magical world, Sophie has never felt more alone.

By the end of her first day at Hex Hall, Sophie has three powerful enemies, a crush on a gorgeous warlock, and a roommate who is the only vampire at the school and the most hated person on campus. But just when Sophie thinks her life couldn’t get any worse, she discovers a mysterious predator has been attacking students and that she could be next…

Overall, I really liked reading this book. I’m not sure why I decided to read this book and I haven’t heard much about it. However, as soon as I saw it, the front cover intrigued me and made me wonder what this book was all about. I love the front cover. When I started reading it, I wondered whether this was just going to be a copy of Harry Potter, except with witches. Little did I know, this book was completely different. The story grabbed me from the very first page and made me read on. I found in some places that things were either a little predictable or clichéd. I felt like I knew what was going to happen with the plot line. But then there were twists in the story that were so unexpected and that I could never see coming. This book had some very funny moments that I loved reading. I absolutely loved the characters. I felt really connected to Sophie. I liked how she knew nothing about the world of magic, because neither did we. It was great to have this magical world shown to us, rather than us just dropped into it, because I found it easy to understand how everything worked and what was acceptable. Sophie was a clever, amusing character and I loved seeing the story through her eyes. And when I met Archer… wow. He was witty, a little mysterious, and he was willing to help Sophie out in tough situations. I immediately thought that Sophie and Archer would be great together. Later in the book, I also found out more about Sophie’s family and the truth about what she really is. Because the rest of the book was a little predictable in places, that was a huge twist that I never saw coming. I thought that this book was a little short and I would have loved it to be a bit longer. However, I really enjoyed reading this book. I loved Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins and I’d give it a score of 8 out of 10. I’m already reading the next book in the series!

Poison Study – book review

Poison Study

Poison Study is the first book in its alluring series, written by Maria V. Snyder.

Nineteen year-old Yelena has been in a dungeon for just less than a year awaiting her execution for killing General Brazell’s son. But just before Yelena’s execution, she is given a choice. She can choose to either be executed or become the Commander’s food taster in Ixia. She can choose a quick death, or a slow poison…

But not everyone is pleased by Yelena becoming the new food taster. Brazell’s loyal followers are itching for the chance to kill Yelena. But Yelena can’t escape. Valek, Ambrose’s second in command, has taken Yelena under his wing. Valek teaches Yelena how to identify different poisons, but he also ensures that Yelena doesn’t escape. He has given her the deadly poison called Butterfly Dust. If Yelena doesn’t receive her daily dose of antidote, she’d be dead in a day. One wrong move and Yelena would be dead…

Yelena is developing magical abilities that she can’t control. In Ixia, magic is illegal and anyone who is suspected to have magical talents is executed. But she must use her magical ability to protect herself not only from magical users who wish to take her and use her powers, but from the threats within the castle wall.

To make matters even more complicated, Yelena is slowly developing feelings for Valek, her friend and mentor. The more time they spend together, the more Yelena begins to realise that Valek is not as cruel and cold as he makes himself seem. He might actually have feelings for Yelena too…

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I really enjoyed reading Poison Study. From the very beginning, I was absorbed into the world of magic and poison tasters. The story line grabbed me from the very first sentence. I was constantly wondering what Yelena was going to do and how Valek would react to her actions.

At the start of the book, Yelena was a frightened girl struggling to be alive for another day. But the more time that goes on, the more she grows physically and emotionally stronger. From the beginning, Yelena was a very intelligent person. I knew that she wouldn’t do anything stupid, but because of how strict Valek was towards her, I was constantly worried that Valek would punish her for not doing something right or not guessing a poison correctly.

At the start, Yelena was fearful of Valek, although later in the book, Valek really revealed his true feeling to Yelena. After that moment, I instantly fell in love with Valek. I felt like Valek was such a mysterious person and I liked that. I longed to read about the moments when Yelena and Valek were together and I loved every second I read about them.

I also enjoyed spending time with the carefree and witty pair, Ari and Janco, who seemed like older brother to Yelena. This whole book was unbelievably addicting and absorbing. I struggled to put the book down because of how good it was!

There were lots of twists revealed in the book which kept me glued to the pages until the very last page. There was an equal amount of danger and romance in this book, which I absolutely loved.

I really enjoyed reading Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder and I’d give it a score of 8.5 out of 10. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!