A History of Notable Shadowhunters & Denizens of Downworld – Review

A History of Notable Shadowhunters & Denizens of Downworld – Review

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Author: Cassandra Clare

Illustrator: Cassandra Jean

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s UK

Publication date: November 1, 2016

Pages: 208

Price $20.00 USD (Hardcover) at Topatoco


Synopsis 

A very special anthology that’s a must for all fans of the Shadowhunter novels!

Featuring characters from Cassandra Clare’s international best-selling novels from the Shadowhunters world including The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices and The Dark Artifices, this anthology showcases beautifully illustrated portraits from Cassandra Jean – creator of The Shadowhunter Tarot – alongside never-before-known details from Cassandra Clare about all your favourite characters.

Review

Ah, Shadowhunters. The only YA out there that really matters…. Just kidding! But If you have been here before you must know that I am quite the fan of Cassandra Clare!

For once, this Cassandra Clare review will be very short! There isn’t much to say about this book because it actually is not a story at all but rather a sort of picture book with descriptions and secret facts about all of the characters in the Shadowhunter World. I never actually considered to buy this book, but that was before I saw all of the beautiful character artwork Cassandra Jean made for the book. Now I’m not really an arty girl but boy o boy do I love flowers and this book is full of them! A flower for each character! All the flowers had different meanings too and the flowers in some way reflected the characters personality! How neat!

While I was looking at pre-ordering Queen of Air and Darkness back in November, I had some money on amazon that I hadn’t spent and after adding QoAaD to my cart I still had ten bucks left. I couldn’t think of any other books I wanted that were just ten bucks but then I say this book being sold second hand for nine dollars. It was quite the steal, if I do say so myself, and I feel like quite the bargain hunter, even months later.

I use A History of Notable Shadowhunters & Denizens of Downworld as a prop behind some of my Shadowhunter-related reviews and its real handy for when I pick up another SH novel and I forget some characters, in a way, its sort of like a character dictionary!

Here are some photos of mine that have included A History of Notable Shadowhunters & Denizens of Downworld!

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Final Review/Recommendation 

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Super cute and super handy!  Not only does it give me info on all of my favorite characters but it also includes snazzy artwork and is a perfect prop. Like any other Cassandra Clare book, 5 out of 5 stars. A perfect gift for a SH fan or collector! I obviously recommend this book to someone who has read and enjoyed some or all of the Shadowhunter novels because it wouldn’t really make any sense to someone who hasn’t read the book lol.

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Have a good day!

-Emma 🙂

The Price Guide to the Occult – Review

The Price Guide to the Occult – Review

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Author: Leslye Walton 

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Publication date: March 13, 2018

Pages: 272

Price: $21.99 CAD (Hardcover) at Indigo Books & Music Online 


Synopsis

From the author of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender comes a haunting maelstrom of magic and murder in the lush, moody Pacific Northwest.

When Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island more than a century ago, her otherworldly skills might have benefited friendlier neighbors. Guilt and fear instead led the island’s original eight settlers to burn “the witch” out of her home. So Rona cursed them. Fast-forward one hundred–some years: All Nor Blackburn wants is to live an unremarkable teenage life. She has reason to hope: First, her supernatural powers, if they can be called that, are unexceptional. Second, her love life is nonexistent, which means she might escape the other perverse side effect of the matriarch’s backfiring curse, too. But then a mysterious book comes out, promising to cast any spell for the right price. Nor senses a storm coming and is pretty sure she’ll be smack in the eye of it. In her second novel, Leslye Walton spins a dark, mesmerizing tale of a girl stumbling along the path toward self-acceptance and first love, even as the Price Guide’s malevolent author — Nor’s own mother — looms and threatens to strangle any hope for happiness.

-Goodreads

First Sentence

“They have been called many things.”

Review 

When I first saw The Price Guide to the Occult on the shelves of my local Chapters, I knew it would be coming home with me that night. The physical book itself looks mysterious and spooky -just how I like it- with bloody leaves on the cover, ruby red sprayed edges (One of my many weaknesses when it comes to books) and this thorny font that was used for the title. Overall, before even reading the synopsis this novel looked like my kind of read for sure! I mean a captivating synopsis + pretty & spooky cover + sprayed edges? Ain’t no way I was going to let this one slide. 🙂

“Time might heal all wounds, but what about the scars those wounds left behind?”
― Leslye Walton, The Price Guide to the Occult

The storyline of this novel is really intricately composed. There are generations of Blackburn women that have been cursed because of what happened to the first Blackburn on their island, Rona Blackburn. These women all have some magical ability thats different from their other ancestors, except for Rona, who could like do pretty much anything. For example, Nor’s grandmother can heal others ans Nor can hear what animals and plants think amongst other things. I like how they all had a special ability that distinguished them from each other but they were still all tied to Rona. At the beginning of the novel, in the prologue, we are also informed about what happened to Rona and how the curse started for the Blackburn women on the island. This prologue, I believe was really necessary because it made so many links to the main storyline later on in the novel.

The Price Guide to the Occult was a very enjoyable read for me, because not only was our main character, Nor, fighting a battle trying to figure out what was happening to the island and fighting her mother, is also battling herself. I like when novels do things like this, just adding in another problem subtly, like Nor’s mental health disorders, but not have that mental illness as the main battle. In reality, metal illness is not the only battle, we can’t preoccupy ourselves with only our mental illness when we live in a day and age where we have so much other things to worry about or to fight for. This aspect made The Price Guide to the Occult more captivating from an emotional viewpoint because we could see how much Nor was struggling with herself but she could not simply dwell on that because she needed to protect the island from her evil mom.

A couple of things I rather disliked from this novel where that some scenes that seemed quite irrelevant where delineated in the most meticulous matter, but then scenes that seemed important lacked detail and were sometimes a bit incomprehensible. The ending was also really open, and I know endings are usually an opening but this was a BIG opening, very vague and open for interpretation. I don’t know if that was what they were going for? Maybe? I’ve read a lot of books so I can usually tell when they want to make us think about possibilities late into the night or if they just want to finish this book, I was getting the latter from this one. Part of me also thinks that maybe this was intentional for a sequel? I did some research and could not find any info on a sequel, but if there is one I will surely read it!

“Any decent human being, witch or otherwise, had the capacity to do good in this world. It’s merely a case of whether one chooses to do so.”
― Leslye Walton, The Price Guide to the Occult

Another quick thing to add was that I liked how modernistic the environnement of the book is. I mean, the Blackburn’s are witches that have been prowling the island for centuries but nor works at this little tour & gifts shop for the island and she has an iPhone. Usually when I read books about witches, they are portrayed as these century old spell-casters who survive merely on their own flame. The modern twist to The Price Guide to the Occult added a fun touch and really amused me.

Final Review|Recommendation

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All in all, this was a super awesome read! I just wished there were more details for some scenes that seemed to be really important rather than scenes that did not really contribute much to the plot. I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes a paranormal mystery or who likes books about witches! (I sure know I do!) Also if you liked The Wicked Deep, you would probably really enjoy this one because they both have very similar approaches!

“Treat others with respect, and one should seldom be in need of protection. As for the times when this is not effective, one should do oneself a favor and get a knife.”
― Leslye Walton, The Price Guide to the Occult

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Tell me what you thought of The Price Guide to the Occult or my review!

Have a good day. 🙂

-Emma ♥♥♥

Northanger Abbey – Review

Northanger Abbey – Review

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Author: Jane Austen 

Publisher: Penguin English Library 

Publication date: November, 2012 (Original edition in 1817)

Pages: 247

Price: $14.99 CAD (Paperback) at Indigo Books & Music Online


Synopsis 

‘To look almost pretty, is an acquisition of higher delight to a girl who has been looking plain the first fifteen years of her life, than a beauty from her cradle can ever receive’

During an eventful season at Bath, young, naïve Catherine Morland experiences the joys of fashionable society for the first time. She is delighted with her new acquaintances: flirtatious Isabella, who shares Catherine’s love of Gothic romance and horror, and sophisticated Henry and Eleanor Tilney, who invite her to their father’s mysterious house, Northanger Abbey. There, her imagination influenced by novels of sensation and intrigue, Catherine imagines terrible crimes committed by General Tilney. With its broad comedy and irrepressible heroine, this is the most youthful and and optimistic of Jane Austen’s works. -Goodreads

First Sentence 

“No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be a heroine.”

Review

This is my first time reading a Jane Austen novel! I’m pretty sure my mom has read all of them, but this is my first! This novel was fairly short so it was not as intimidating at her other works. This book being shorter actually helped me a lot because this writing style is much different than the one I’m used to! I’ve got to say though, Jane Austen really knew how to write. Her writing style is hard to describe, but it seems really heartwarming and familiar even though this is my first time reading one of her books! I really enjoyed Catherine’s boldness, optimism, imagination, ans independence. I think it makes this book so much more riveting knowing that people like Austen were as bold to write about such different subjects in such a stereotyped and law abiding era.

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”
― Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

I did think the storyline was a little slow though. The whole idea of going to the mysterious Northanger Abbey was really intriguing from the synopsis’ view point, but I had no idea it was going to take three quarters of the novel before they got there! Yes, the book isn’t that long, merely 200 pages or so, but the first like 135 pages of the novel got boring after a while, it seemed like not much was going on and the story was not really going anywhere. This made me bored quite fast and it made the process of reading this novel much longer than I anticipated. It actually led me into a month long reading slump! In general though, once they made it to Northanger Abbey, things picked up and got enjoyable. I won’t spoil but the ending was also really good!

Final Review|Recommendation

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I ended up really enjoying Northanger Abbey, although slow at first, it was worth my time and I eventually got quite invested in the characters. 🙂 I’d recommend Northanger Abbey to anyone who wants to enjoy a good ol’ classic (obviously) or to someone who likes reading historical fiction from the early nineteenth century!

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“It is only a novel… or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language”
― Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Let me know what you thought of Northanger Abbey or my review!

Happy Sunday!

-Emma 🙂

 

The Haunting of Hill House – Review

The Haunting of Hill House – Review

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Author: Shirley Jackson 

Publisher: Penguin Books

Publication date: 1959 (my edition, November 28, 2006)

Pages: 208

Price: $18.00CAD (paperback) at Indigo Books & Music Online


 

Synopsis

First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, the lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.  – Goodreads

First Sentence

“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.”

Review

Insanely captivating. After reading the first page in The Haunting of Hill House, I was utterly hooked! I actually watched the Netflix Original series before knowing this book even existed and I know, I usually like to read the book before viewing the tv show or movie but I’m sorta glad I didn’t for this one! The book and TV show both had so many differences from each other but where equally compelling!

I find that in this novel, the characters’ traits are very well developed. I can strongly relate to Eleanor’s character, being the reluctant sister or the odd one out with none but her and her books, using Hill House as a refuge from her sister and her family. Although my favourite character was definitely Theodora with all of her nonchalance and elegance with her big life in the city. She has a very bright personality and I loved reading about what she said and how she perceived things.

Another thing I enjoyed about this book was all of the sarcasm?! It was hilarious! they were all at Hill House -a haunted house, mind you!-  and they were just laughing around and saying so much dumb and arrogant stuff! It made the story so much less scary than I anticipated and lightened the mood. lol.

“It’s not us doing the waiting,” Eleanor said. “It’s the house. I think it’s biding its time.”
“Waiting until we feel secure, maybe, and then it will pounce.”
“I wonder how long it can wait.” Eleanor shivered and started up the great staircase. “I am almost tempted to write a letter to my sister. You know- ‘Having a perfectly splendid time here in jolly old Hill House….’ “
” ‘ You really must plan to bring the whole family next summer, ‘ ” Theodora went on. ” ‘ We sleep under blankets every night….’ “
” ‘ The air is so bracing, particularly in the upstairs hall….’ “
” ‘You go around all the time just glad to be alive….’ “
” ‘There’s something going on every minute….’ “
” ‘Civilization seems so far away….’ “
Eleanor laughed. She was ahead of Theodora, at the top of the stairs . The dark hallway was a little lightened this afternoon, because they had left the nursery door open and the sunlight came through the windows by the tower and touched the doctor’s measuring tape and chalk on the floor. The light reflected from the stained-glass window on the stair landing and made shattered fragments of blue and orange and green on the dark wood of the hall.  “I’m going to sleep, ” she said. I’ve never been so lazy in my life.”

I don’t know if it was simply all that sarcasm, but I usually don’t read horror, in fact, I don’t think I have ever read horror other than The Haunting of Hill House and it was not as scary as I thought it would be! It was spooky, no doubt, but there were no actual “holy crap!” moments like I’d get from horror movies. This book was really interesting and a captivating plot with a sharp turn at the end so what’ya know? Maybe I’ll start reading more horror!

Final Thoughts/Recommendation

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I give The Haunting of Hill House four stars because it was enjoyable and funny but where was all the haunting? I wasn’t that scared! I was a little disappointed but then I was like, “wait, why do I even want to be scared?” Ugh, that ending was also so  spontaneous I loved it so much, that was one of the only moments where I actually got the chills!

I’d recommend The Haunting of Hill House to anyone who wants suspense but doesn’t want to be that scared or even to someone who simply enjoys reading classics. Because although it was supposed to be spooky, I got that same heartwarming feeling that I get when I read any classics!

“Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”
― Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House

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Let me know what you thought of The Haunting of Hill House or my review!

Have an amazing day!

-Emma 😉

 

Cover photo source:                                                                                                                                                          https://www.google.com/search?biw=1507&bih=1039&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=xV2EXLjIO5DaswX4iaWgBA&q             =the+haunting+of+hill+house+book+png&oq=the+haunting+of+hill+house+   book+png&gs_l=img.3…19875.19875..20089…0.0..0.96.96.1……1….1..gws-wiz-img.dEygsE8                        DCAA#imgrc=5JqKgeXGvG02sM:

 

 

 

 

The Boston Girl – Review

The Boston Girl – Review

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Author: Anita Diamant

Publisher: Scribner

Publication Date: August 4, 2015 

Pages: 336

Price: $20.00 CAD (Hardcover) Indigo Books & Music Online


Synopsis

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Red Tent and Day After Night, comes an unforgettable coming-of-age novel about family ties and values, friendship and feminism told through the eyes of a young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century.
Addie Baum is The Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for and suspicious of America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie’s intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can’t imagine – a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture and new opportunities for women. Addie wants to finish high school and dreams of going to college. She wants a career and to find true love.
Eighty-five-year-old Addie tells the story of her life to her twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, who has asked her “How did you get to be the woman you are today?” She begins in 1915, the year she found her voice and made friends who would help shape the course of her life. From the one-room tenement apartment she shared with her parents and two sisters, to the library group for girls she joins at a neighborhood settlement house, to her first, disastrous love affair, Addie recalls her adventures with compassion for the naïve girl she was and a wicked sense of humor.
Written with the same attention to historical detail and emotional resonance that made Anita Diamant’s previous novels bestsellers, The Boston Girl is a moving portrait of one woman’s complicated life in twentieth-century America, and a fascinating look at a generation of women finding their places in a changing world.
– Goodreads

First Sentence

“Ava, sweetheart, if you ask me to talk about how I got to be the woman I am today, what do you think I’m going to say?”

Review

Not going to lie here, The Boston Girl has been sitting on my shelf for quite some time before I finally picked it up. I originally thought this would not be a good book for me because at the time I got it, historical fiction wasn’t really my cup of tea. But a couple of weeks ago, I was cleaning my shelves and I landed upon this novel crammed underneath a bunch of secondhand bookstore finds and I’m so happy I did because I really enjoyed this book!

The Boston Girl is about the life of Addie Baum and how she became who she is now. She’s telling the story of her life to her grandchild, Ava, for an interview project. Addie realizes her grandchildren don’t know as much on her past as she thought, so she jumps into her retelling.

Right off the bat, I was captivated by this story. The Boston Girl explores what it is like for oppressed societies in the early twentieth century and the difficulties women faced in order to attain their education. We are teleported to the 1910s and are living Addie’s teenage years with her, seeing her fight with her parents because she wants to go to high school and witness the death of her elder sister.

This novel is really descriptive which I think enhanced the reading experience. Addie’s personality was enthralling to me. I love a story about very strong-willed and determined women. Especially those who do not let the constrictions of her upbringing get in the way of her pursuing what she desires.

Another aspect I found intriguing, was when Addie was facing the great peril in her teenage years for not exceeding her parents’ expectations, and she ran off and found the Saturday Club which is basically a group of women and girls alike supporting each other. I loved this part of the book so much because she found herself some lifelong friends so surround herself with and I enjoyed it so much!

“How did I get to be the woman I am today? It started in that library, in the reading club. That’s where I started to be my own person.”

Omgeee I also just love a book that has a long timeline and jumps in time. It makes everything so much more sentimental and interesting! In The Boston Girl, the timeline is Addie’s life! The jumps in time was so great because I got to witness the evolution of all the characters, like her friends from the Saturday Club, who are all grown up and having kids, her parents becoming more accepting of her and the growth of her kids and family! These are the parts in books that always guarantee to have me in tears. The character development in The Boston Girl where sooooo good!

Final Thoughts/Recommendation

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I genuinely enjoyed reading The Boston Girl, simply because it explores important topics such as, oppression, feminism, childhood hardships, and what its like for immigrant families to adapt in a new country. Although a work of fiction, I am able to retain a lot of valuable information from this novel. I just can’t believe that some girls still need to fight like Addie! (I just finished We Are Displaced, which is Malala Yousafzai’s second book about Immigrant’s stories and hardships and I feel so useless because I want to help these girls! The feminism committee at my school never seems to have meetings! 🙁 )

Anyways, I would recommend The Boston Girl to anyone who wants to read a book about coming of age women, (I sure know I do!) and those who want a nice book to indulge on during a snow storm, like I did. 🙂

“Never apologize for being smart.”

The Boston Girl, Anita Diamant

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Have and excellent day and let me know what you thought of The Boston Girl or my review!

– Emma 🙂