Spoiler-Free Review: Toby Gentle and the Winter Assassin by C.G.Hickling
I've had so many reviews to do in the past weeks and I'm finally catching up now, so this one is a bit late. I received a copy of Toby Gentle and the Winter Assassin by C.G.Hickling from Burst Publishing for review. A big thank you to Burst Publishing!
*I received a free copy of the book in trade for an honest review.*
I'm really excited to get into this review and tell you all about Toby Gentle because as you can probably guess, I really enjoyed it.
Carry on reading!
Toby Gentle and the Winter Assassin by C.G. Hickling
Genre(s) - Middle Grade, Fantasy
Date Started - 28/1/2018
Date Finished - 30/1/2018
Synopsis: Toby Gentle is about to discover when the North Wind blows, it will change his life forever. An unexpected visitor arriving on Christmas Eve, a shocking revelation, and a summons to Silverbells – a mysterious military academy – is just the start. With a new danger threatening the world, Toby must uncover a dark plot, stop an assassin, and find out who he really is - all while trying to make the Mushing team!
Toby Gentle and the Winter Assassin is the first book in a new children's fantasy series by debut author C.G. Hickling. Young and older readers will enjoy discovering his new world of magical snow globes, talking reindeer, blue Ye’ti, psychotic warrior penguins and Figgypud’s chocolates - all set in the wintery backdrop of the North.
"When you hold a book, you hold a universe in your fingertips." - Toby Gentle and the Winter Assassin
This is the first book of a new series, featuring our main character, Toby. Toby hasn't had the best start in life and is living on Bluebell farm with the Gentles. They're not kind people at all, but luckily for him, he's not alone and has his siblings to keep him company. The Gentles don't allow the kids to celebrate Christmas, yet Toby can't help but get excited at the time of year as he hopes maybe that year will be different. There's a surprise one night and Toby is introduced to a whole new world, better than anything he could've imagined. However, it still does have it's problems.
From the start I felt a connection to Toby. I couldn't help but love and care for him, maybe that's partly because of how little love and care he gets. I felt like I was following him on his journey, cheering him on.
The idea of the story was another thing that I loved. I know not everyone celebrates it, but I do love that time of year with all the festive feelings. A book all about Christmas, what else was there for me to want?! I do wish I'd read it in the run up to Christmas, like I'd originally planned because it definitely would've put me in the most festive mood.
When Toby gets introduced to this magical world, the writing was so detailed that I felt all the feelings he felt. The excitement, the hope, but also the sadness he felt at leaving his siblings and the whole situation being just a bit too overwhelming.
With the introduction of the new world, Toby is also introduced to a new family. This is where Donny, Dash and Declan were introduced. I loved these three brothers, especially Dash who I had a soft spot for. They welcomed Toby in and the bond between them continued to grow throughout the story, especially between Toby and Dash. The character development between these two was done amazingly well and by the end, I'd almost forgotten they hadn't known each other forever.
When Silverbells Academy is introduced, the magical level doubles. It's like Hogwarts but all Christmassy! What's more to love?! I loved reading about the lessons and the new things Toby discovered as well as the new friendships he developed. The characters we met along the way were brilliantly done and they all had something different to them. I enjoyed getting to know them all.
There were some huge moments in this book and I found myself on the edge of my seat, urging Toby and Dash on. The pair teamed up and the partnership was brilliant.
There was so much excitement and if it wasn't for my need of sleep, I would've easily stayed up all night to finish this.
One thing that I would've loved to see more of was world building. I felt that we knew all about the characters and the lessons, but we didn't get as clear details about the school and the world. You get little snippets of information here and there, but I wanted to hear more about the history, world and the school. I'm hoping more of this might be in the rest of the series.
Overall, I absolutely adored this book. It took me on a magical Christmas adventure and gave me the escapism I desired. I can't wait for the rest of the series to be released, especially after the cliffhanger this book ended on. I can't wait to see what other adventures Toby and his friends will go on next.
I'd definitely recommend this book to young children, but I feel it's one that a person of any age will get at least a bit of enjoyment out of.
Rate - 4.5/5
GR - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28117725-toby-gentle-and-the-winter-assassin?ac=1&from_search=true
BD - https://www.bookdepository.com/Toby-Gentle-and-the-Winter-Assassin-C-G-Hickling/9780993511813
Spoiler-Free Review: The Girl In The Glass Box by Andi Adams
I'm finally back with another review! This time it's for a review book that I requested, The Girl In The Glass Box by Andi Adams. I read this back in November and have been meaning to write my review for it ever since. It's a YA Snow White fairy retelling with some twists.
Carry on reading!
The Girl In The Glass Box by Andi Adams
Synopsis: A witch. An apple. A mirror. That’s all most people think of when they recall the story of Snow White. But the truth is rarely so simple. What if the Queen wasn’t born evil and the princess wasn’t always so pure of heart? Is it possible that these two women could have ended up in one another’s place?
The Girl in the Glass Box tells the story of Agrippine and Genevieve, two women who are not all that different, but who quickly learn through a series of choices, encounters, and devastating losses that the course of their fates can change in an instant. Through the influences of the people they love and lose, both are redefined as their stories head for a different sort of happily-ever-after.
*I requested to review this book through XpressoTours. My review is honest and my own opinion.*
When I requested this, I was really in the mood for it, but I thought I'd leave starting it till it was a bit closer to the review deadline. I do this often and I should know by now that this is a pretty bad thing to do. I ended up losing interest as I normally do and ended up sort of forcing myself to pick it up to just try and start it.
I'm so happy that this book captured me from the start and it was easy to get into as I ended up really wanting to read it. It was easy to settle into and I found the story so interesting, I struggled to put it down at times. I know the story of Snow White well as I used to love it as a child and I was slightly worried on how Andi would interpret/use the fairy tale. I was apprehensive starting it, but I really wish I had done sooner.
In The Girl In The Glass Box, Agrippine is the evil Stepmother and Genevieve is the character Snow White. I thought Agrippine was brilliantly written as she definitely lived up to her evil self and I liked how we got to see some of her childhood to begin with and the reasons behind why she grew up to be who she is. I couldn't help but feel sympathy towards her even though she was quite evil. Genevieve was another great character and I loved how she tried to be a strong female character.
I was hooked to the storyline and there was never a dull moment. I enjoyed how we got to see from Agrippine and Genevieve's POVs and it was cool to see how the two characters differ from each other.
There were some emotional bits and I felt as if a bond had grown between me and these characters and I really didn't want it to end.
The ending was good, but I feel it was rushed a bit. I also feel as if I didn't get to see as big of a reaction from certain characters as I hoped. I thought it was going to be quite emotional and dramatic, but I was left slightly disappointed.
Overall, I enjoyed this book for the most part and I'm glad I read it. I'd definitely recommend if you're looking for a new fairy tale retelling.
Rate - 4.5/5
GR - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30368932-the-girl-in-the-glass-box?ac=1&from_search=true
BD - https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Girl-in-the-Glass-Box-Andi-Adams/9781945495014?ref=grid-view&qid=1513538094400&sr=1-1
If you guys know of any good fairy tale retellings, leave them in the comments below and I'll add them to my list to give a go.
Spoiler-Free Review: Caterpillars Can't Swim by Liane Shaw
I'm finally back with a review! It feels like forever and what a great book to review for my return. I requested Caterpillars Can't Swim through Netgalley a couple of months ago and I really loved it! There will be lots more reviews hopefully coming soon so stay tuned for those. Without further ado, here is my review for Caterpillars Can't Swim by Liane Shaw.
Caterpillars Can't Swim by Liane Shaw
Date Started - 16/9/2017
Date Finished - 16/9/2017
Synopsis: Ryan finds his freedom in the water, where he is not bound by gravity and his wheelchair. When he rescues his schoolmate, Jack, from the water their lives become connected, whether they like it or not. Ryan keeps Jack's secret about that day in the water, but he knows that Jack needs help. The school is full of rumors about Jack's sexuality, and he has few friends. Almost against his better judgement, Ryan decides to invite Jack on a trip to Comic Con he's planned with his best friend Cody, the captain of the school's swim team. The three boys make an unlikely combination, but they will each have the chance to show whether they are brave enough to go against the stereotypes the world wants to define them by.
*I requested this title via Netgalley. All opinions are both honest and my own*
I was looking through Netgalley after finishing all my current review books and saw this one. I read through the synopsis and was instantly interested.
The main character, Ryan, is confined to his chair and is the only one in his small town that uses a wheelchair. His freedom comes when he goes out in the early mornings or when he swims. One morning he's goes out early in his chair and sees something unexpected. Jack's there on a riverbank. Ryan doesn't realise it's him at first because he's not dressed like "normal". Jack comes into trouble as he falls and struggles in the water. Ryan, not knowing what to do, goes in after him and saves his life. From there on their story continues as the pair begin to learn about each other and what happened to Jack that morning.
There is gay and a disabled person representation in this story. I was pleased to see this as I've loved the LGBT+ books that I've read and feel like they've really opened my mind. I also don't think I've read a book before where a person in a wheelchair has been the main character, so it was really nice to be able to.
I thought the book was structured brilliantly and I was immediately sucked in. Originally, I didn't think I'd be able to connect to these characters that well, but I found that I really cared for them and what happened to them. Especially near the end, I was begging for things to go well.
I like the characters, but I'm not too sure about the "friendship" that develops between Ryan and Jack. Around the middle, it felt like Ryan thought it was his responsibility to speak to Jack, rather than himself actually wanting to. I think that changed towards the end for the better, but it just never really felt like a true friendship situation, like I was hoping it would.
This book is quite short (250-ish pages), but I was really immersed in the story. I found some parts really emotional and I'm glad that despite the length, that Liane included that development of the story.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story, but feel maybe the way the characters interacted could've flowed more smoothly. I'd definitely recommend Caterpillars Can't Swim, but keep in mind that this book can be a bit upsetting as one of the characters does have a couple suicidal thoughts as he feels he has no other escape.
If any of you have read Caterpillars Can't Swim, let me know what your thoughts are below!
Rate - 4/5
GR - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34949098-caterpillars-can-t-swim?from_search=true
BD - https://www.bookdepository.com/Caterpillars-Cant-Swim-Liane-Shaw/9781772600537
Spoiler-Free Review: It's Not Me It's You by Stephanie Kate Strohm
It's Not Me It's You by Stephanie Kate Strohm
Genre(s)- YA, Contemporary
Synopsis: One high school girl's comedic examination of her dating past as told by the friends, family, and boys who were involved!
Avery Dennis is a high school senior and one of the most popular girls in her class. But a majorly public breakup with the guy she's been dating causes some disastrous waves. It is right before prom and Avery no longer has the perfect date. She runs the prom committee, how could she not show up with somebody?
Post-breakup, Avery gets to thinking about all of the guys that she has ever dated. How come none of those relationships ever worked out? Could it be her fault? Avery decides to investigate. In history class she's learning about this method of record-keeping called "oral history" and she has a report due. So Avery decides to go directly to the source. Avery tracks down all of the guys she's ever dated, and uses that information, along with thoughts from her friends, family, and teachers, to compile a total account of her dating history.
Avery discovers some surprises about herself and the guys she's spent time with -- just in time for prom night!
It's Not Me It's You features our main character Avery Dennis, one of the more popular girls in her high school senior year. It's the run up to prom and Avery is currently dating Luke Murphy, supposedly one of the hottest and most popular boys in her year. This means that Luke is Avery's prom date, right? No, well he would've been if he hadn't dumped her right before prom, therefore leaving her without a date.
Avery is known to always be in a relationship with a boy, so the situation of her having no date to prom is new for her. She's determined to find out why her relationships never seem to last and why on earth Luke Murphy would dump her.
Ms. Segerson, Avery's History teacher, has set an end of year Oral History project and what a better topic for Avery to do it on than her dating history. That's where the journey begins...
This book is written as Avery's Oral History project and so it's set out a bit different to a normal story. I've never really read a book with this format, so I was excited to see how it would differ. I found it a bit weird to get into at first and was worried that the format would prevent me from getting involved in the story. However, I was completely wrong. The characters and the story was so easy to get into and I felt like I'd known Avery forever and the same goes for some of the characters in the story.
The story doesn't just feature Avery's Ex's, but also a whole range of characters, both those that like Avery as well as a few who purely can't stand her. They share their input along the way and it just made everything so much more entertaining and fun to read.
I thought that the story might end up with not really that much of a plot because of the way it's written, but Stephanie did a great job of moving the story along and showing both the past but also the stuff that was happening in the present during the build-up to prom.
I found it easy to get into the story and I was really entertained throughout. I do have to say that my favourite character definitely had to be Hutch and honestly he's just the best. I also liked Liam, Alex and Michael.
Overall, I did really enjoy It's Not Me It's You and was easily immersed in the story. However, I did find the ending to be predictable from quite earlier on. I'm hoping to see more of the characters in the future.
Rate - 4/5
GR - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32805264-it-s-not-me-it-s-you
BD - https://www.bookdepository.com/Its-Not-Me-Its-You-Stephanie-Kate-Strohm/9781407172491?ref=grid-view&qid=1503590283187&sr=1-10
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