4.5 star, adult

Review: The Oyster Thief by Sonia Faruqi

Image result for the oyster thiefThe mermaid’s scales were bronze, and they shimmered like hundreds of pennies arranged close together. Her immense blue-green eyes gave a look of fragility to her face, yet he found her eyes unsettling. She was leaning against a thirty-foot-long shark, which emerged from behind her and opened its mouth to reveal a great big cavern lined with hundreds of teeth – a black tunnel ready to swallow him.

Coralline is a mermaid who is engaged to the merman of her dreams. But when an oil spill wreaks havoc on her idyllic village life, her little brother falls gravely ill. Desperate to save him, she embarks on a quest to find a legendary elixir made of starlight.

Izar, a human man, is on the cusp of an invention that will enable him to mine the depths of the ocean. Her discovery will soon make him the richest man on earth – while threatening merpeople with extinction. But then, suddenly, Izar finds himself transformed into a merman and caught in a web of betrayal and intrigue. Meeting Coralline in the ocean, he decides to join her on her quest for the elixir, hoping it will turn him human again.

The quest pushes Coralline and Izar together, even though their worlds are at odds. Their pasts threaten to tear them apart, while a growing attraction adds to the danger. Ultimately, each of them faces an impossible choice. Should Coralline leave her fiancé for a man who might betray her? And Izar has a dark secret of his own – one that could cause him to lose Coralline forever.

Magnificent and moving, set against a breathtaking ocean landscape, The Oyster Thief is a richly imagined odyssey destined to become a classic.


4.5 Drink Me Potions


Two world collide when a mermaid and human man meet, plunging readers into a vast underwater realm brimming with adventure and intrigue.

Coralline is a mermaid living in her hometown of Urchin Grove, working as an apothecary to heal others. Meanwhile, Izar on land is the adopted son of the CEO of the prosperous Ocean Dominion, a company which seeks is to destroy the ocean and mine the precious minerals on the ocean floor. Izar is a gifted inventor, and discovers how ot create underwater fire to raze the ocean floor. Their two worlds collide when Izar is left for dead but becomes a merman instead, meeting Coralline.

The story begins at Coralline’s engagement to a handsome rich merman, whose family’s wealth and status precedes him. Immediately you are reminded of The Little Mermaid, with the beautiful scenery and world created by Faruqi. Vibrant colours and animal familiars exist in this imaginary underwater world and it is as beautiful as any land could be. Faruqi draws many contrasting parallels between the underwater world and the world above and we quickly learn that each is bitterly aware of the other.

When Coralline’s brother falls sick, she embarks on a treacherous journey filled with lies and deceit to try and find a magical elixir to cure him. On her way she meets a half-dead Izar, whom she nurses back to full health. Together they travel a large expanse of the Atlantic looking for this mysterious magician who created this elixir of starlight said to save any life once in exchange for a curse (unicorn blood, anyone?).

I thought this book had all the elements of a classic fairytale that one might want: a loveable and relatable protagonist, Prince Charming, betrayal and plot twists, and a very clever villain, all tied together with the classic true love romance. There’s also a lot that wasn’t expected, and that’s what really drew me into this book. The story really explored different aspects of real life like environmental issues, doing what is right versus what you want, morality and propriety. In addition, koodos to the author for doing her research: as a science major, it really pains me to have to read through very faulty scientific logic in a book. Not in this one! The scenery, ideas and theoretical science that are proposed are all very believable and logical, giving these two contrasting worlds a very realistic feel.

They weren’t kidding when they said that this book is filled with betrayal and intrigue. It almost feels like a whodunnit novel, with lies and misperceptions around every corner, waiting to strain relationships, whether they be familial or romantic. I think this book will resonate with many people with all the different issues that are explored, and I would definitely recommend this exciting adventure to anyone.

“Fire vaporizes water, and water vanquishes fire. The two can never truly meet.”

One of the most exciting and thought provoking lines in the book, it is quickly a theme that emerges tying the balance of the whole book together. Can the underwater world and the land of fire above truly ever be at peace? Or are they just too different?

Overall Recommendation:

A beautiful underwater world not unlike our own that really pulls you into the ocean with the characters themselves. Although most of the story takes place underwater, all of the issues that are brought up are all relevant to our lives. Even as a reader, it is hard to trust anyone in the book, and you are also forced to take a side as you follow Coralline on her journey for the magic elixir. A constant rollercoaster of emotion and suspense, I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys observing these parallel worlds where it is easier to more candidly address some real world issues. If you loved The Little Mermaid as much as I did, this grown up version will definitely be the twist you’ve been waiting for.

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3.5 star, YA

Review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Series: Truly Devious #1

truly devious -maureen johnson

New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson weaves a delicate tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a striking new series, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and E. Lockhart.

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder. 

The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.


3.5 Drink Me Potions


Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

**Truly Devious comes out January 16, 2018**

Truly Devious delivered two interesting mysteries that are connected through time, with a cast of individually unique characters.

Stevie is not your ordinary kind of girl. She loves crime with a passion, and hopes to solve an age-old mystery surrounding the school she’s about to attend. Although it doesn’t necessarily market it this way, I feel this portrayal of Stevie is akin to another young, Sherlock Holmes-esque girl protagonist, such as Brittany Cavallaro’s series. I liked this depiction, and I thoroughly enjoyed the lush descriptions of the settings. It was written very much in third-person view that mimics the feeling of older mysteries like Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie. However, the downside to this was the inability to really connect with the characters, particularly Stevie. She’s not the most charming and sociably likeable girl so feeling the extra distance with her didn’t make it any easier in really investing in her and what’s happening in her life.

The vast cast of characters had its ups and downs too. It definitely made the mystery harder to figure out as there’re so many people that have been introduced. It could be anyone! But at the same time, there’s less room to invest in any of these characters, so much so that they start feeling a bit two-dimensional and whittled down to their stereotypical tropes.

The romance was all right, I suppose. I love my romance in any story as I feel it adds another layer of complexity to the characters. Stevie’s not too keen on getting into a relationship, and that’s fine. There is someone I can root for in the romance department, but it’s slow-going, and you never know if he’d turn out to be the culprit.

Although this story seemed to be a rollercoaster ride in my emotions and feelings towards it, Truly Devious was an easy read that I got through in a sitting or two. The mysteries are the heart of the whole thing, and while the ending was definitely by FAR from satisfactory in solving either of the crimes at hand, it hopefully sets the stage for some more amazing twists that are yet to unfold later on. The present-day mystery took a long while to really occur which made the plot a bit slow, yet there’s something beautiful about the way that the past and the present stories really intertwine so well. Overall, it was an interesting read from Maureen Johnson and I look forward to the sequel.

But if I’m honest, I kinda wished there was a bit more closure. And that ending! I can’t believe it just stopped there. You’ll just have to read and find out what kinda twists are in store.

P.S. that letter from Truly Devious at the beginning was really what reeled me in. You’ll know it when you see it. Like a letter from your nightmare.

Overall Recommendation:
Truly Devious fits well into the genre of excellent mysteries throughout the ages, with this book featuring a past and current murder that could very well be linked. I found the book slow going at times, particularly with the present-day mystery, but the descriptions are lush and well-written and the suspense was ramped up high. I love that I couldn’t really guess a culprit in the end, but the ending wasn’t all that satisfactory as it left us with more questions than answers. If that means you have to read the sequel, then what do ya know? Guess I’m hooked till the end. Overall, a good impression of Maureen Johnson for me.

5 star, YA

Review: The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

Series: The Last Magician #1

the last magician -lisa maxwellStop the Magician. Steal the book. Save the future.

In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.


5 Drink Me Potions


If you want action, excitement, mystery, intrigue and plot twists, then The Last Magician is completely for you!

First off, I need to say that Lisa Maxwell is absolutely phenomenal in her storytelling. I fell in love with this 1900s version of New York and I never wanted to leave it. It’s so very hard to write a good historical fantasy that stays true to the time and location that was chosen. I absolutely loved this, and felt completely immersed in this land as much as Esta did.

Mystery and intrigue are high up there as we follow Esta back to the past to stop this elusive man known only as The Magician from destroying a book of magic that held secrets to protecting all those born with magical abilities in the future. What a tall order that was, but this girl was courageous – if not a bit too reckless at times. She was an amazing protagonist to follow as she navigated a world that wasn’t completely her own yet felt somewhat familiar at the same time.

If that wasn’t enough, the pacing of the book always felt just right. Yes, it could get a little slower in some places, but this gave room for introducing new characters and building relationships. Although a good romance is always forefront on my mind whenever I read a book, I enjoyed the friendships made along the way in this past time. And the book wasn’t completely devoid of romance!

The Magician, as it turns out, was no other than Harte Darrigan, an intriguing guy to follow in the book as well. Although it wasn’t always clear what his intentions and plans were, he’s a character that you can totally put your faith in and support no matter how sketchy others may have viewed him at times. And his chemistry with Esta was tangible, especially when they were at odds with each other. No matter that she’s supposedly his enemy and would have to betray him at some point to get the book, there was so much anticipation for what could be between them. And let me just say, it was enough to satisfy, although I honestly can’t wait for book 2 to come out already.

Even if none of the above has gotten your heart pumping by now, how about this? At the heart of the story, it’s a complicated con and heist that the crew Esta joins would need to pull off in order to steal from the horrendous Order that is hunting all magical people. Who doesn’t love a good villain, first of all? What’s better than some elusive and secretive group chasing the good guys? Honestly, this book HAS IT ALL.

Whether you’re looking for romance, action, suspense, plot twists, good world building or character development, The Last Magician really does have it all . It’s been a long time since I felt this way for a new author, but this feeling Lisa Maxwell induced in me is akin to reading some of Cassandra Clare, J.K. Rowling and Julie Kagawa’s books. No matter what you love more, or if you aren’t the biggest fan of historical books, trust me, you have GOT to give this a try.

It just may change your entire perspective. Or engulf a good portion of your time as you escape into New York, 1902.

Overall Recommendation:
Words are no match to the strong feelings that The Last Magician has invoked in me. Full of intrigue, suspense, action, character development and romance, Esta’s mission into the past to steal back a book that could save other magical people is both daring and more complex than it initially seems. Along the way, you’ll fall in love with the people she meets there, from a magical crew who becomes like family and a certain Magician who is more than meets the eye. And if not the people, you’ll come to love New York as it was in 1902, with magic as normal as your average person. Lisa Maxwell has created a world that I fell completely into and never wanted to leave. Book 2 is on my most anticipated list for 2018!