“The door that led to where” Sally Gardner

 Rated 3 stars *** ARC. Published November 8, 2016. Delacorte Press. 277 p.

thedoorthatledtowhereA.J. has grown up with a missing father and an angry mother. With no future in England’s post secondary education due to failing exams, he takes on work as a clerk at a local law firm. There he discovers a strange key with his name on it and, through a series of circumstances, finds it belongs to a door that takes him into the past.

London of 1830 gets much getting used to, with A.J. soon involved in a series of mysterious deaths – including that of his own father. Discovering his father was also a time traveler leads to more mysteries that set the course for A.J.’s past, present and future.

I enjoyed seeing 1830’s London brought to detailed life, and also liked the title. It’s word play for a door that goes “where” rather than “nowhere” is quite clever.

I was not fond of the open ending which usually leads to a series, as I am not fond of books in a series. I also think the author should have had a glossary. Slang British words were used throughout the book, and a glossary would have been very helpful.

I also thought A.J. and his friends were more like 16 going on 26, instead of “normal” 16 year olds. All of these issues, combined with spoiler complaints listed below, is why  I gave “The door that led to where” 3 instead of 4 stars.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

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Mrs. Meacock was the picture of health, ready to institutionalize Esme. Yet, two days later, she was rendered practically unrecognizable, just a few short steps from death. I find it hard to believe she had become crazy so quickly after being relatively sane for so many years.

I also thought the author should have unveiled the professor’s identity in a little more detail. I know he was a time traveler, but he knew a lot about A.J.’s history. Why did he know so much?

“Hotel Ruby” Suzanne Young

Rated 4 stars **** ARC. Ebook. 2015. Simon Pulse.

HotelRubyAudrey and her brother Daniel have been completely lost since their mother died of a sudden stroke. Their father, unable to deal with his grief, decides it would be best if they went to live with a grandmother they barely know. On their way to grandma’s house they decide to stop overnight at the Hotel Ruby, a luxurious turn-of-the century hotel.

Once there, Audrey finds herself swept away by the very handsome Elias Lange while learning the mystery of the hotel, and the ghosts which are said to haunt the building. When the family decides to extend their stay she begins to notice that Kenneth, the concierge, seems to have some sort of hold over Daniel, her father, Elias and the staff. Soon Audrey is convinced they need to leave but something, or someone, wants them to stay. Welcome to the Hotel Ruby, where you can check out anytime you want, but you can never leave.

I felt like the “Hotel Ruby” was the 1976 Eagle’s hit song “Welcome to the Hotel California” come to life in book form, which is why I said you could check out anytime you want but never leave. I found the story of the hotel to be tragic, but thought Audrey spent too much time playing the tragedy card and apologizing for being such a bad girlfriend. By the end of the book she finally matured, but it was a bit tedious watching her get her act together, which is why I gave it 4 instead of 5 stars.

Recommended for 18 and older.

 

“I crawl through it” A.S. King

Rated 1 star * ARC. Ebook. To be published September 22, 2015. Hatchette Book Group (Little, Brown & Company.)

ICrawlThroughItI received this ARC from Netgalley in return for an honest review.

In short, choppy chapters readers are introduced to the meandering thoughts of four teens suffering from various life changing issues. Gustav builds invisible helicopters, China turns herself into various body parts, Stanzi invents imaginative and “out there” explanations of her world, while Lansdale impulsively lies about everything. They draw upon each other’s strengths, and use their pain to create a world only they can understand.

The garbled, upside down symbolic world in this book, fraught with hidden meanings, reminded me of the nonsensical worlds created by several other YA authors. I didn’t like any of those books, and I didn’t like this one. I like to read a book and have A + B = C. This was more like D – Z + 2 + * – # + ? = nothing.

It didn’t make any sense to me, and I couldn’t wait to make it to the last page. I’m sure there will probably be teens and librarians who will ooh and ah over this book, wanting it to win all sorts of awards. I’m not one of them. I’ll leave it up to you to Decide if You want to Read it or not.

Not Recommended.

“Shattered Blue” Lauren Bird Horowitz

Rated 3 stars *** ARC. Ebook. The Light Trilogy, #1. Skyscape. To be published September 15, 2015.

ShatteredBlueI received this ARC from Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Noa has been struggling to hold herself together after the death of her sister Isla; her only joy her little sister Sasha and writing poetry. Her dark days take on a little cheer when transfer student Callum shows up at Harlow Academy, and they seem to have an instant connection. Though Callum is a fae who has been banished from his world, and can only live through Light emitted by mortals that drains them of happiness, they fall madly in love.

This love is tested when Judah, Callum’s brother, comes into their world. Judah is brash and fierce, contrasted with Callum’s calmness and quietness of strength, yet Noa finds herself drawn to both of them. When a Hunter from their world captures Callum he sets into motion a chain of events, which will change all of their lives forever.

“Shattered Blue” continues the worn out storyline of love triangles between one girl and two guys, making me want to cry out “ANOTHER triangle?!” I also had some questions and concerns for the author, but don’t want to give spoilers in this section of the review. However, if you don’t mind spoilers, keep scrolling down to read my questions.

Despite the love triangle and a few issues mentioned in the spoiler section, the book was rather interesting and caused me to become invested in the characters. Their search to right the wrongs brought on by lies and deception ended in a huge cliffhanger ending, which sets the stage for part two of the trilogy.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

***SPOILER ALERT***

I am confused, and have many questions for the author. How did Judah’s missing ring get into Miles’ pocket when he wasn’t even in the same room as Fabian and Judah when they were fighting over it? What took Olivia and Miles so long to catch up to Judah and Noa when it seemed as if they would be hot on their trail when they saw them disappearing into the woods?

Lastly I want to go on record that I thought Callum’s explanation of what happened to Lily was too complicated to be believable, and was rather strange. Sasha wasn’t adopted, so I don’t know how his explanation fit into a pregnancy, as it didn’t make any sense from a practical point of view. I know it’s a fantasy and readers have to suspend disbelief, but this was rather hard to swallow.

“Shadow Scale” Rachel Hartman

Rated 3 stars *** Ebook. ARC. Published March 10, 2015. Random House.

ShadowScaleWith the city of Goredd preparing to battle its dragon enemies, Seraphina is called upon to travel to various lands to find the ityasaari, which have been dwelling in her mind garden. These ityasaari are rumored to have the means of saving Goredd, and Seraphina is the only one who can convince them to help the Queen.

However, Seraphina soon finds out that one of the ityasaari has a unique ability to infiltrate minds. Soon, almost everyone she knows is under powerful mind controls, and it will be up to Seraphina to release them before it’s too late for Goredd.

“Shadow Scale” is an ingenuously written, fantastical tale of love and betrayal as seen through the eyes of dragons and half dragons. Humans are secondary to the story, since Seraphina is half dragon and “Shadow Scale” is her story.

I am not a big fantasy fan and, in the past, have enjoyed some fantasy books I was sure I wouldn’t enjoy. However, I had a really hard time making it through this book. The abundance of philosophical thoughts from Seraphina and her dragon friends may have played a part, as well as the lack of real action. It really doesn’t matter because Seraphina’s true fans will enjoy reading about her latest adventure.

Recommended for ages 13-16.

“The Boy” Madhuri Blaylock

Rated 3 stars *** ebook. 2014. The Sanctum, book #2. Lucy Publishing (Amazon Digital Publishing.)

TheBoyWith Wyatt dead from their portal travel to the land of the Ramyan, Dev becomes beholden to Qi to do all he can to return Wyatt to the land of the living. However, Dev doesn’t know that bringing Wyatt back from the dead will have unforeseen consequences which will cause both of them to question everything they hold dear.

In the meantime, while Dev and Wyatt fight their own battles, Ryker’s character is explored in more detail. After coming across as gentle, loving and kind it is a shock to learn he has been secretly killing Magicals. As readers struggle with Ryker’s behavior, Ava and Max Breslin continue scheming to bring down the Clayworths as Head of the New York Academy. Lastly Darby’s heart and various loves are explored in great detail.

I received “The Boy” as part of a promised book review for the Diverse Book Tours blog. I found it to be more blood thirsty and violent as well as more sexual in nature than book one. In addition I was left with a few unanswered questions such as “How did Darby figure out what Jedda was doing when all she had as a clue was her lover’s cryptic words?” and “How did Jools get close enough to Jedda to raise blood on his neck when, previously, Darby was furiously keeping everyone away from him with a very well aimed whip?” With the protective behavior she had been exhibiting, it felt inconsistent to have Jools be allowed to approach Jedda with knife in hand and not have Darby say or do anything about it.

I was able to look past some of the self published author’s usual spelling errors (such as writing “taught” for “taut,” and other errors) because the book had an interesting plot line. I would be interested in reading part three “The Prophecy,” so I could see what finally happens to the evil Breslins as well as to Dev, Wyatt, the Ramyan warriors and the rest of The Sanctum.

Recommended for ages 16 and older.

“The Girl” Madhuri Blaylock

Rated 4 stars **** ebook. (Also available in paperback). 2014. The Sanctum, book #1. Lucy Publishing (Amazon Digital Services.)

TheGirlDev is half demon and half angel, and has been living in India while training to be a warrior. For years her parents have been in hiding from The Sanctum, a group of families called The Circle of Ten, who believe Dev will destroy their way of life. They have ordered Dev be killed on sight and, when they succeed in killing her family, Dev vows revenge on all Sanctum.

The Clayworth family is in charge of The Sanctum’s New York Academy where Wyatt, his sister Jools and his best friend Ryker learned their warrior skills. Wyatt and Ryker hold opposing views of the role The Sanctum plays in their lives. The gods created The Sanctum to protect humans and magicals (trolls, vampires, fairies, etc.), yet their original purpose is long gone because of one founding family’s lust for greed and power. Despite Wyatt’s and Ryker’s differences of opinion in what The Sanctum means to each other and to society, they are inseparable in their love and friendship for each other.

When Wyatt stumbles upon Dev after she escaped The Sanctum’s attack, their lives are forever changed. Little do they know the love they feel for each other, and the invisible bond that ties them together, will lead them onto paths neither had ever expected to travel. It is only a matter of time until they change the lives of all they hold dear.

I received this book to review from the Diverse Book Tours blog, and was a little leery since it was self-published. Readers of my blog know how squeamish I get around self-published books. However I am happy to report there were relatively few grammatical errors and, despite having many similarities to Cassandra Clare’s “Infernal Devices” series, the storyline was very interesting. I wanted to keep reading to find out what would happen next to Dev and Wyatt, as their star crossed lives seemed destined for heartache from the beginning.

In addition “The Girl” developed strong female characters through the persons of Dev, Jools and the vampire Darby showing them as well trained fighters who remained one hundred percent female and were not dependent on a man to complete their lives.

I was not happy with the title of the book, as Dev is not a girl. She is a strong, independent woman and I wanted a title which reflected that image. I also didn’t like the cover, as I would have preferred to see a photo of Dev, Jools and Darby in action ready to show readers all that a woman can be. I look forward to reading part 2 of the series “The Boy.” 

Recommended for ages 14 and older.