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Reviews Written by
Stephanie Samphire "Stephanie Burgis" (Wales)

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The Life of Ty: Penguin Problems
The Life of Ty: Penguin Problems
by Lauren Myracle
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £8.43

5.0 out of 5 stars Intensely Lovable, 27 Oct. 2013
I LOVED this book. Ty is so very real and so intensely lovable in his vulnerability, sweetness, and wildness, too. He reminded me a LOT of my own older son, which made parts of this book even more poignant for me to read. (And when I then started reading the book to my son, he said he thought he and Ty would DEFINITELY be friends.)

The interactions between him and the other kids rang so, so true (sometimes painfully true, from the perspective of a parent); so did the dynamic between him and his parents, which has been seriously (although not irreparably) disrupted by the arrival of a new baby sister. Ty wants to love his little sister, and he does - but suddenly his mom doesn't seem to love him anymore (although clearly, an adult reader can tell, she does - she's just running on 3 hours' sleep a night, and she's overwhelmed - something that, again, was almost TOO close to home for me to read about right now!).

I loved, loved, loved Ty, and I can't wait to read more of his adventures.


The Beautiful and The Cursed (The Grotesque Series)
The Beautiful and The Cursed (The Grotesque Series)

5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous romantic fantasy, 21 Oct. 2013
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I have been in such a reading slump when it comes to YA paranormal - I'd actually thought that I was just completely burnt out on the whole genre, which felt really sad. (And which had much more to do with me than with any particular books or authors!)

But then - OMG, I loved this book. I just absolutely devoured it! I love Page Morgan's rich, evocative writing, and the way she summons up the whole fabulous setting of 19th-century Paris as beautifully as she sketches her characters. I loved both of the parallel heroines in this book, older-sister Ingrid and younger-sister Gabby, who are both really strong and fierce in very different ways. I *really* loved the forbidden romance between Ingrid and Luc, her own personal gargoyle, which is complete with complicated power dynamics in both directions. The whole book is an utterly delicious Gothic in every way.

(One small note: I don't think the UK cover does the book a great service - it's striking, and I love the gargoyle, but the girl's hair and outfit make the book look like a contemporary paranormal to me, whereas one of my favorite parts of the novel was the rich historical aspect. On the other hand, maybe it'll help readers who wouldn't normally try a historical novel try out this one??? I don't know.)

If Book 2 were out today, I would have already bought it and locked myself in my room to devour it. I want it NOW.


The Maker's Mask (The Books Of Requite Book 1)
The Maker's Mask (The Books Of Requite Book 1)
Price: £1.45

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous and fun, 15 Oct. 2013
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Witty, playful, intricately-plotted space opera. At various points, it reminded me of Lois McMaster Bujold, Iain M. Banks, and Georgette Heyer, all in the best possible ways! With so many different storylines swirling around in a lovely atmosphere of courtly intrigue, I thought the romance needed a little bit more grounding to be totally convincing - but I looooooved the geeky heroine, and her romantic interest is also fabulous, as is her bodyguard (not a love interest). Can't wait to read Book 2, The Hawkwood War!


Pea's Book of Birthdays
Pea's Book of Birthdays
by Susie Day
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely book in a fabulous series, 4 July 2013
My very favorite in the series (so far! I SO hope there will be more Pea books) - which is saying an awful lot, because this is one of my very favorite series. I love Pea's whole quirky, wonderful family and the friends and connections they gather around them. And oh, I love serious, dreamy, imaginative and vulnerable Pea. This book mingled humor and deep emotion just perfectly - and it had an utterly perfect ending.

I can't wait to read it again, many times!


Buried Above Ground: A Nightspell Novella
Buried Above Ground: A Nightspell Novella
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Magical, smart, creepy and fun!, 2 July 2013
I love the setting of Ghostland - so creepy and cool - and I absolutely love the characters of fierce new-ghost Emilie, her dangerous friends, and her enemies. Courtly intrigue, mystery and magic - my favorite combination! This is such a fun novella.


Handbook for Dragon Slayers
Handbook for Dragon Slayers
by Merrie Haskell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.03

5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous and full of friendship and dragons, 21 Jun. 2013
Honestly, the elements in this book could have been specifically ordered just for me: smart girls, adventure, ambition, magic, dragons! So it's no surprise that I really liked the first half of the book, and I absolutely fell in love with the second half, when the magical elements really kicked into gear.

Tilda, the heroine, is wonderful - smart, responsible, willful and determined, with a disability that informs her character but never, ever defines it. Better yet, she spends the book adventuring with two other great characters - one of whom, her handmaiden (and would-be dragon-slayer) Judith, I just adored. Although there are elements of romance hinted at in this book between Tilda and her other companion, the squire (and, again, would-be-dragonslayer) Parz, the strongest relationship arc in the novel is the platonic *sromance* between Tilda and Judith, two very different girls who've always loved each other like sisters but now - through the hardships and adventures they face - slowly come to *understand* each other, too.

(I love sromances! We need so many more of them, just like men and boys get bromances.)

And oh, the horses! The magical horses, from the Wild Hunt! They might be my favorite horses in fantasy fiction, which is saying a LOT.

In other words, I really, really enjoyed this novel. Wonderful, smart, fun MG fantasy adventure.


Firebrand
Firebrand
by Ankaret Wells
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Witty and fabulous, 21 April 2013
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This review is from: Firebrand (Paperback)
I'm usually not much of a steampunk fan, but I adored this book, largely due to the fabulous, witty voice of the narrator, Kadia Warner. The whole thing was a wonderfully funny, adventurous romance filled with swordfights, feminism and some very hot chemistry between Kadia and her Duke. I loved it, and I can't wait to read more by Ankaret Wells.


Above World
Above World
by Jenn Reese
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.12

5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking adventure with a heart, 5 April 2013
This review is from: Above World (Paperback)
ABOVE WORLD is so original, so fantastic, and most of all, just so much FUN. It's science fiction adventure told with all the mythic feel of epic fantasy, so readers get mermaids, centaurs, and flying people, but with a scientific explanation underneath - and such a powerful sense of wonder filling every single scene.

As Aluna and her best friend Hoku leave the safety of their underwater home to travel across a dazzling, mythic landscape, facing danger from every side, they take part in incredible action scenes, but also heart-breaking emotions and so many moments that made me suck in my breath in sheer awe. Jenn Reese is so, so good at conjuring up incredible visuals in her writing - this book gives readers the kind of breath-taking vistas and heart-pounding action of the best fantasy films imaginable, but with rock-solid plotting and incredible characterization to anchor it all.

I could go on for ages about everything I love about this book, from Aluna's strength and warrior mindset to Hoku's wonderful geekiness and how well the two of them complement each other as friends (and how much I love the celebration of true friendship in this novel, as opposed to romance - but also how much I love the romances that develop for both Aluna and Hoku along the way!) - but to sum it up, here's the review I wrote on Goodreads over a year ago, having been lucky enough to read early drafts of the novel pre-publication:

"Super-fun science-fiction adventure for kids, with genetically-engineered mermaids and girls with wings AND incredible fighting skills. Deep, important friendships and sweet first romance. This book has everything, and I love it so much."


Bloomability
Bloomability
by Sharon Creech
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtakingly good, 27 Mar. 2013
This review is from: Bloomability (Paperback)
OMG I loved this book. I mean, I really, REALLY loved it. I read it with pure delight, and then when I finished, I literally let out a wistful sigh and *stroked* it. I loved it that much!

If you ever loved the Chalet School books, then you have to read this novel, set in a (contemporary) boarding school in Switzerland. If you've never even heard of the Chalet School books (or didn't like them), you STILL ought to try this out! Because it's such a fabulous book about a girl coming of age - and *intellectually* coming of age, having a whole world of ideas and possibilities open up to her for the very first time. God, I'd love to go to that school, even now! And I loooooved watching Dinnie open up and blossom in her new environment.

I loved her wacky friends and the boy who turns into kind of/sort of a love interest. I loved the shifting dynamic between her and a girl who starts out seeming fabulous and turns out to be fairly awful (but hilariously so). I loved the breathtaking descriptions of their ski trips and the sense of Dinnie's horizons expanding in every possible direction.

I loved this book. I wish there was a sequel! I'd read a whole series about Dinnie at her Swiss boarding school. As it is, though, I'll be re-reading this one again and again.


Warped
Warped
by Maurissa Guibord
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.48

5.0 out of 5 stars Romantic, magical and fun, 13 Mar. 2013
This review is from: Warped (Paperback)
*4.5 stars*

This book was just delicious and tailored pretty much exactly to my personal reading tastes. Romantic fantasy with lots of magic, just one (wonderful) love interest (a nice, good guy, even! - who shares FABULOUS chemistry with the heroine), and a huge historical component...not to mention how much of the novel is set in a used bookstore - !

Well, obviously, I enjoyed it all hugely. I loved that the heroine, Tessa, actually saved herself in situations where I automatically assumed (based on genre tropes) that the hero would sweep in and save her. (Will's perfectly capable of doing that - he's a really appealing hero - but he doesn't have to, because she's really strong and capable herself. I love that!) I love that the magic in this book *feels* so magical. I love Tessa's relationship with her best friend, Opal. And I loved the ending.

My only real nitpick in the whole book is that the exact timeline for the very last chapter felt slightly unlikely to me - but honestly, I was having far too much fun to really care, and that's a VERY small nit to pick in a really yummy novel.

Now I can't wait to read her next book, Revel!


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