Spoiler-Free Review: A Magical Venice Story: The Girl of Glass by Holly Webb
Title: A Magical Venice Story: The Girl of Glass
Author: Holly Webb
Release Date: 9th March 2017
Synopsis: An enchanting tale of magic, friendship and adventure for readers aged 9 and up - from bestselling author, Holly Webb. Mariana lives with her family on the Venetian island of Murano - famed for its artists who create masterpieces from glass. But when Mariana's little sister, Eliza, dies their father decides to use his glassmaking skill - and a dash of magic - to create a girl of glass in Eliza's image. The remarkable glass doll, who sings, dances and talks, draws attention wherever she goes, and soon Mariana is famous for having the magical glass sister. But as the glass girl takes on more and more of Eliza's personality, Mariana begins to suspect that there is more than just magic at play. Could the girl of glass be her sister's ghost made real? The Magical Venice books are all share the same beautiful setting, but can be read as standalone stories.
*I was sent a copy of this book in trade for an honest review via Netgalley*
I started a Netgalley account about a month ago as I realised just how many books I was missing out on receiving an e-arc for. I decided to just have a look through and request one or two books to get me started. This came up on the section about books in genres that you like (something like that anyway),so I decided to have a look.
I just want to say that the cover is gorgeous! Though the cover was what I was first attracted to, after reading the synopsis I was even more intrigued.
Long story short, I requested this book and got a ebook copy for review. I was excited to read it but I thought I'd try and read and review nearer to the release date, but instead I'm writing this before we're halfway through February.
Here's a quick rundown of the plot. Mariana's little sister, Eliza, is ill and has been for quite a while. Mariana's stepmother is always sending her to buy different cures for her for Eliza to try, but none of them ever seem to work. One day Eliza passes away and the family is deep down in grief, especially the stepmother who used to spend all of her time caring for Eliza. The father, an amazing glassworker, decides to catch Eliza's last breath and create a glass look-alike doll to help cheer the stepmother up. However, when he puts Eliza's last breath into the doll, it comes alive and things don't go to plan...
I loved this book! I was happy to see that it did have things in it that people do have to go through in real life because as it is a middle-grade/childrens book, I wasn't expecting it to. It featured a grieving family and how grief can make you do different things and how people react differently to someone dying.
Another big part of the story was magic and thinking about it now, it still excites me. The different things and types of magic in this book are so exciting and almost feel real when you're reading about them. I loved how Mariana was always chasing after magic and was always fighting to prove her father wrong and that she could and would do magic.
One of my favourite things about this book is the beautiful relationship between Mariana and both Eliza and doll Eliza. It shows just how strong a bond can be between siblings (sisters in this case) and how unique that bond can be. I loved how Mariana was always doing her best and fighting for her sister. Another thing that I loved was the impact doll Eliza had on Mariana's life and ughhh it was just such a good book!
The different aspects of the story worked very well together (family, magic, grief etc) and I think the way they were combined was really clever. I loved the storyline and there wasn't a dull moment.
Overall, I really loved this book and would definitely recommend it to children, but also to anyone. As a teenager, I really enjoyed it and loved the magical aspects and I think anyone would be able to get at least a tiny bit of enjoyment out of this book.
Rate - 4.5/5
GR - I can't seem to find the book on Goodreads yet, but I will link it when I'm able to find it.
BD - https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Girl-of-Glass-Book-4-Holly-Webb/9781408327685
Spoiler-Free Review: Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen
Title - Optimists Die First
Author - Susin Nielsen
Genres - YA, Contemporary, Romance
Synopsis - Petula has avoided friendship and happiness ever since tragedy struck her family and took her beloved younger sister Maxine. Worse, Petula blames herself. If only she'd kept an eye on her sister, if only she'd sewn the button Maxine choked on better, if only...
Now her anxiety is getting out of control, she is forced to attend the world’s most hopeless art therapy class. But one day, in walks the Bionic Man: a charming, amazingly tall newcomer called Jacob, who is also an amputee. Petula's ready to freeze him out, just like she did with her former best friend, but when she’s paired with Jacob for a class project, there’s no denying they have brilliant ideas together – ideas like remaking Wuthering Heights with cats.
But Petula and Jacob each have desperately painful secrets in their pasts – and when the truth comes out, there’s no way Petula is ready for it.
*I was sent a copy of this book in trade for an honest review via Netgalley*
I'm just going to start this off by saying this book was a lot shorter than I expected. I received a copy for review via Netgalley and I believe it's coming out in the UK at the start of March. I decided that I wanted to get ahead of my review books and make sure that I have the reviews up in time for the book release dates. I started this one first as I was expecting the book to be quite long, but it turned out to be under 300 pages.
I only meant to read the first couple of pages, but I ended up reading a good chunk of the book in one sitting. I loved it. I loved the concept and enjoyed the story and the characters, but I did have a few issues.
The main character, Petula, is described as having anxiety. I can definitely see that in the character, but I've heard other people say she is more paranoid. I agree with that, but I think that's what sets her anxiety off, so I think the whole idea of her paranoia and anxiety works well together in the book. The one issue I have with it is that it seems a boy is the thing that "cures" her anxiety. In other books I've read, it's always been a boy who magically cures the person. There's no cure to anxiety, only ways to help deal with it. However, I understand that this is a contemporary romance, so I sort of expected that to happen, so I'm not going to go too much about that, but I thought I should mention it incase you'd rather avoid books of that type.
However, there is a lot more to the "boy", Jacob, in this story and his relationship with Petula is a big feature of the book. It's not as straightforward as he "cures" her as they have their problems (some big), but he does help her to do things she's never been able to do before.
The storyline was really intriguing and I loved how each character had their own secrets that played a part in why they act like they do. I also liked the progression you can see in some of the characters throughout the book as they overcome their problems.
I found myself whizzing through this book and not just because of its length, but also due to the writing. I really liked the writing and thought it fitted well with the plot and Susin Nielsen did a great job of keeping the book moving.
Another thing I liked about this story was some of the smaller details mentioned, like Petula's mums' cat obsession and how they were named after different book characters and how Jacob and Petula make the cat video. Small things like that really added to the story and gave me moments to laugh at.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am definitely happy that authors are starting to include issues like anxiety, addiction etc into YA literature as they are subjects that are sometimes avoided, so even though Optimists Die First included one or two common YA tropes in anxiety books, I still really enjoyed it.
Rate - 4/5
GR - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30335388-optimists-die-first?from_search=true
BD - https://www.bookdepository.com/Optimists-Die-First/9781783445585
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