Malin’s #CBR5 Review #149: Bigger Than a Bread Box by Laurel Snyder

12-year-old Rebecca’s parents have been arguing for a while, and one day Rebecca’s mother takes the kids and her stuff and moves from Baltimore back to her mother in Atlanta, needing some space to figure things out. Rebecca is not at all happy about her parent’s separation, having to live in a new place, starting a new school and spends quite a lot of time sulking. Rummaging around in her grandmother’s attic, she finds an old breadbox, which appears to grant wishes, as long as whatever is wished for actually exists in the world and can fit into the space within the breadbox (so no unicorns or infinite wishes).

Thanks to the things Rebecca manages to acquire through the breadbox (new clothes, an Ipod, money, gift cards, lots and lots of candy, among other things), she manages to make herself quite popular at school and finds her new home with her grandma a bit easier to accept. While she still resents her mother for taking them away, and misses her father terribly, she’s starting to settle in and adjust. Then she discovers the truth about where the items in the breadbox come from, and things get a lot more uncomfortable and difficult. Rebecca discovers that you can’t get something for nothing, there is always a price to be paid.

Having reached December with quite a few books left on my “A to Z” reading challenge, this is the book I picked for X (as Q, Z and X don’t need to be the first letter of the book, cause that would be very difficult indeed). It deals with the rather serious issues of separation and sudden upheaval well, and while Rebecca spends a lot of the book being a total brat to her mother (I, as a grownup, had a lot less patience with her clearly rather useless dad), being completely uprooted and having to settle in at a new school when just entering your teens is never going to be fun. Apart from the magical breadbox, there isn’t a lot of fantasy to this book, and the lessons Rebecca gets about actions having consequences are things that a lot of middle grade books, in my experience, gloss over.

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Malin’s #CBR5 Review #148: The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan

Sebastian Malheur has been scandalising polite society for years with his scientific lectures on the passing on of genetic traits, to the point where riots are now likely to break out when he presents any new findings. The truth, however, is that the discoveries he presents as his own, are actually those of his best friend, Violet Waterfield, the widowed Countess of Cambury. Violet is as proper and respectable as Sebastian is scandalous and reviled. But now Sebastian refuses to be Violet’s decoy any longer.

Violet’s marriage was not a happy one, and she sought refuge in her scientific discoveries. The daughter of a woman who wrote the ultimate guide to proper ladies’ behaviour, Violet is all that is respectable, decorous and decent. Yet Violet and her sister learned early, after their father committed suicide, that there were unwritten shadow rules as well as the written official rules, and most of them amounted to a lady doing anything in her power to keep scandal from her family’s door, using any method at her disposal. If the truth were to come out, that the shocking discoveries that Sebastian has been presenting, were actually all the work of a woman, the scandal would be immense and instantaneous. More on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #147: Knaves’ Wager by Loretta Chase

Thanks to Mrs. Julien for her awesome romance review template!

Knaves’ Wager is a romance of the you are everything I never knew I always wanted AND opposites attract variety: Boy meets girl. He is the reprobate former best friend of her now-dead husband. She hates him because she believes he drove her husband to his early death, and is left owing him crippling gambling debts. He agrees to a foolish wager to seduce her against all odds. Boy and girl move forward together secure in their love and commitment.

A historical romance set in the Regency era just around the end of the Napoleonic wars and written by Loretta Chase, Knaves’ Wager is my fourteenth book by this author. I generally find her work at least enjoyable, and at its best, spectacular and infinitely re-readable. Chase is, most famously, the author of Lord of Scoundrels, the book All About Romance’s readers have voted as the number one in their top 100 for more than a decade. Personally, I prefer The Last Hellion, but what do I know? I found Knaves’ Wager, one of her early romances diverting, enjoyable and romantic.

The rest of this review, can be found on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #146: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Disclaimer! Disney Hyperion granted me an ARC of this through NetGalley in return for a fair review.

Much as I love the colours and the lush quality of the cover for this book (my husband disagrees with me, he thinks it’s dreadful), it doesn’t actually give a very realistic portrayal of what the book is about. It’s not really floating about in space in a ball gown (but the gown does exist, and Lilac does spend a substantial amount of the story wearing it), or even Titanic in space, as I saw it described elsewhere (although there are obvious nods to the film). So if you’re hoping for that, you may want to adjust your expectations before going in.

Boy meets girl on board the most expensive intergalactic cruise liner in the known universe. Boy and girl have a connection. The next time boy and girl meet, girl viciously rejects boy in front of her friends. Boy is deeply hurt, but this doesn’t stop him from helping her to an escape pod when something goes horribly wrong and the ship they’re on is wrenched out of hyperspace and needs to be evacuated. Boy and girl crash escape pod on nearby planet, and have to make their way across the deserted and sometimes dangerous planet with hardly any supplies, hoping to be rescued.

Our boy is Tarver Mendenson, an 18-year-old officer heavily decorated in the recent war and given special privileges aboard the Icarus because he’s become a poster boy for the army. He’s from a humble background, and not really comfortable in the opulent surroundings and among the wealthy passengers in the first class areas. Our girl is Lilac LaRoux, daughter of the richest man in the universe. Her father owns the Icarus (as well as much of the known universe), and Lilac has learned the hard way that young men who show any kind of interest in her have a nasty way of disappearing. She finds it charming and amazing that Tarver doesn’t know who she is when they first meet, but has to dissuade him from ever talking to her again, lest he find himself suddenly deployed to the front line of another war zone before he knows what hit him. She can’t tell him this, however, and by the time their escape pod crashes, he thinks she’s a spoiled and callous space princess (while mysteriously adept at mechanics) and just wants to be rid of her as quickly as possible.

More on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #145: Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden is now one of the wardens of the White Council of wizards, and he’s about as thrilled about it as many of the wizards on the council are about him being recruited. Harry’s asked to look into rumours of black magic in the Chicago area, and his mentor, Ebenezer McCoy, also requests that he enquire with his faerie contacts about why the Fey Courts are refusing to involve themselves in the conflict with the Red Court of vampires, even after the vampires broke into faerie territories in the Nevernever.

Harry still owes Mab, the Winter Queen, two favours, and his dealings with the Fey never really turn out in his favour. Lily, the new Summer Lady (youngest of the three Summer Queens) owes him a favour, but neither she nor Fix, the Summer Knight, can directly answer Harry’s questions, or aid him, due to a compulsion laid on them by Titania, the Summer Queen, who’s not exactly one of Dresden’s biggest fans. Getting the answers McCoy wants isn’t going to be easy.

The possible black magic use he’s been asked to investigate seems connected with mysterious attacks at a horror movie convention. Molly Carpenter, the teenage daughter of Harry’s friend Michael, comes to him for help. Her boyfriend is the chief suspect after a man was viciously attacked in a bathroom, but claims he’s innocent. Shortly after Harry arrives at the convention to investigate, a number of people are attacked by a seven foot tall assailant who looks just like the killer in the slasher flick recently screened.

Full review.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #144: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher

It’s nearly Halloween (Harry’s birthday) and Harry Dresden is less than thrilled to discover that his friend Police Lieutenant Karrin Murphy is going off to Hawaii with another man. He’s even less thrilled when Mavra, an extremely powerful vampire of the Black Court, who he hoped they’d managed to kill in Blood Rites, turns out not to be dead and is blackmailing him with Murphy’s involvement in the case unless he helps her. If Harry doesn’t find something called the Word of Kemmler in three days, Mavra will make sure Murphy’s career is ruined, and that she may very well face criminal charges because of aid she gave Harry on a mission against the Black Court vampires. Harry obviously can’t let that happen, and so he has no choice but to agree to the vampire’s demands.

Turns out the Word of Kemmler is a book, the last writings of a very powerful and very dangerous, now dead, necromancer and whoever possesses the book will gain access to terrible powers. Harry’s not the only one looking for the Word. Three of Kemmler’s former apprentices are in Chicago, wanting the to be the first to find the book and become the most powerful necromancer of them all.

Full review.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #143: Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

4.5 stars

Disclaimer! Harlequin Teen granted me an ARC of this through NetGalley in return for a fair review.

This is the third in the series of books (both excellent) about troubled teens who become attracted to their seemingly complete opposite. Previous books’ characters appear or are mentioned, but the book works fine on its own too. If you are interested in starting at the beginning, though, start with Pushing the Limits.

Isaiah Walker should be living in foster care, but is secretly living with his best friend Noah (the hero of Pushing the Limits, who’s the only person he really feels close to. However, rent money is hard to come by and if they can’t find enough cash, Noah will have to move into subsidised college housing, while Isaiah has to go back to the indifferent foster parents he was so relieved to escape. He agrees to drive a car in an illegal street race to get extra money, and that’s where he first meets Rachel. More on my blog.