[Review] The Paper Magician – Charlie N. Holmberg

The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician Trilogy, #1)

Author: Charlie N. Holmberg

Series: The Paper Magician Trilogy #1

Publication Date: September 1st, 2014

Publisher: 47North

Number of Pages: 224

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Adventure, Fantasy, Romance

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic…forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined—animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner—a practitioner of dark, flesh magic—invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.


Nil – Lynne Matson


Nil (Nil, #1)

Author: Lynne Matson

Publish Date: March 4th, 2014

Number of Pages: 374

Genre: YA, Romance, Adventure

On the mysterious island of Nil, the rules are set. You have one year. Exactly 365 days–to escape, or you die.

Seventeen-year-old Charley doesn’t know the rules. She doesn’t even know where she is. The last thing she remembers is blacking out, and when she wakes up, she’s lying naked in an empty rock field.

Lost and alone, Charley finds no sign of other people until she meets Thad, the gorgeous leader of a clan of teenage refugees. Soon Charley learns that leaving the island is harder than she thought . . . and so is falling in love. With Thad’s time running out, Charley realizes that to save their future, Charley must first save him. And on an island rife with dangers, their greatest threat is time.


 this displeases me

^^That right there is my reaction to this book.

Warning: This review will use a lot of sarcasm, snarkiness, and two censored swear words.

Nil had such a promising premise. It sounded thrilling, dangerous, something that would have me turning the pages as fast as I could.

On the contrary, it was the complete opposite.

On Nil, victims have 365 years to get off of the island or else they die. No if, and, or, buts about it. It sounds exciting right?


It became a f*cking island vacation romance. It’s like if you mixed together The Lord of the Flies and Lost and then took out all of the suspense and angsty deaths.

There was no sense of urgency. There was a noticeable lack of suspense that this book really needed. They have 365 days to get the h*ll off of that really really dangerous island and they lack the motivation. The forest is filled with dangerous animals like panthers, bears, tigers, etc. I thought the system that they used was good though. It showed how they were willing to work together to help send their friends home.

“Oh! We’re stuck on an island! Oh no! We’re going to die if we don’t hurry up and try to get out!”

*Puts off finding a gate home until there’s a month left*

“Oh no! I have a day left! I can’t find one!”


And they wonder why they can’t get off the island. I understand putting priority on those who have less time left, but you’d think that they’d be smarter about it.

This lack of tone and mood development is only one of the many issues though.

Have I mentioned the sheer stupidity of the characters? Charley, our protagonist, is supposed to be the “smart” one that is confident and “beautiful”. She’s the epitome of a Mary Sue. She has “beautiful hair”, “long legs”, “great friendship skills”, etc. There isn’t a single bad trait revealed about her except for maybe her insecurity over being able to create something like soap.

This logic wasn’t what made me really hate Charley though. What I found absolutely ludicrous was the fact that she was the (highlight to read spoiler) FIRST person to ever consider that the gates appear in patterns.  I can be positive of the fact that if this island were real, she would not be the first, after over FIFTY YEARS, to consider that these gates appeared in a pattern. She can’t just be “beautiful”, she also has to be the “genius” that discovers the gate pattern?

Thad is a Gary Stu. He’s “smart”, “strong”, “a great leader”, blah blah blah. They obviously get together. And it’s the most vomit inducing relationship I have ever read about. Oh and there’s insta-love.

“It was killer, and yet I couldn’t stop thinking about Charley.

Charley, standing on the beach, chin raised in defiance.

Charley, studying my face, ready to bolt.

Charley, lying on the bed, knocked out cold.”

Page 51

At this point, he’s only talked to her a total of once. Oh man, I can definitely feel that chemistry (not).

Oh and then after the insta-love, the way they act together at the end is pitiful. Thad obviously can’t think clearly because of some of the really stupid things he says and does.





They have the motivation to have sex before they “die” but then they don’t have the motivation to make sure they live so that they can see each other on Earth again? What type of stupid logic is that?

you are dumb

It’s like all these characters don’t even care that they might die. Romance is like #1 on their to-do list (before learning how to make soap, surf, and play beach volleyball).

And this isn’t even counting the other couples. About 75% through the book, a couple forms out of nowhere. No buildup, no clever foreshadowing, nothing. Just BOOM. They’re found making out. 100% A+ for that fantastic romantic buildup.

It wasn’t even just the main characters that were badly characterized. I can safely say that I didn’t give a crap about any of the minor characters. Some of them died and I felt nothing partly because of the flatness of them and partly because of the bland writing.



Nil was written from a dual POV. Thad and Charley. Thad was an incredibly unconvincing male protagonist. I could not distinguish who was who in the book at all. They both sounded the exact same and I realized, with a start halfway through, that this was written from first-person POV. It takes skill to make me speed-read the book to the point that I think it’s third-person because of a lack of personality. On top of this, the plot wasn’t even all that interesting. It doesn’t even begin to pick up until in the second half and by that point, I was way too done with these characters to really care. Then I read the ending. The ending made me extremely extremely angry at the book because it took it to a whole new level of cheesy.

I don’t even know if I want to read the sequel. I heard that it’s supposed to answer all of the unanswered questions from the first book, but Nil was such a train wreck that I don’t really feel the urge to.

1/5 Stars

She is Not Invisible – Marcus Sedgwick

She is Not Invisible

 She Is Not Invisible

Author: Marcus Sedgwick

Publish Date: April 22, 2014

Number of Pages: 224 pages

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Adventure, Mystery

Laureth Peak’s father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers – a skill at which she’s remarkably talented.

Her secret: she is blind.

But when her father goes missing, Laureth and her 7-year-old brother Benjamin are thrust into a mystery that takes them to New York City where surviving will take all her skill at spotting the amazing, shocking, and sometimes dangerous connections in a world full of darkness.

She Is Not Invisible is an intricate puzzle of a novel that sheds a light on the delicate ties that bind people to each other.


I think this is like the third novel I’ve read by Marcus Sedgwick in the last year and it’s all by accident. I randomly picked up some books off the shelf, and I guess two were by Sedgwick. And then, I picked up She is Not Invisible like a month later without even realizing that he wrote it. So far, I’ve noticed that I really like Sedgwick’s writing style. It’s smooth and descriptive which is good because if there is one type of writing I hate, it’s the choppy writing.

The first time I read this book, I went in completely blind but I didn’t finish it because I ended up having to return it to the library. The second time I checked it out because I had heard that it had received really good reviews.

Anyways, this book is about a blind character. I liked that. It was interesting to read about a completely different perspective on the world. We, as people who have sight, are completely dependent on it, more so than any of the other senses we have. How many times have you identified a location based on the sounds of people walking? Reading about it makes me want to try (although I’d end up tripping or running into something). The idea that a blind person might not understand the concept of color or appearances was something that really intrigued me. There was one event in the book that really made me think about what racism means to other people(highlight to read. Laureth is contacted by a boy in the states named Michael. He’s really courteous, super informed and the complete opposite of the black stereotype. While talking to him, they are approached by some dangerous and racist people. They make a comment on his race and Laureth doesn’t understand. She can’t see colors so she doesn’t understand what racism is. This event made me really wonder what the world would be like if nobody could see skin color.). I just really enjoyed reading from the perspective of a blind person.

Even better than this was Laureth’s personality. She was an extremely realistic character. She’s thoughtful while also reckless, slightly stubborn but also understanding. She understands that her blindness is an impediment but she doesn’t crave the ability to see. She’s confident and knows how to work around her disability.

She acted so much like a teen that I could imagine somebody doing some of the actions she did in real life. Her brother was quirky and cute. He was, quite simply put, one of the most entertaining aspects of the book.

One thing that did bother me was the lack of explanation about why they had the abilities they did. The history of how Laureth became blind was explained but can someone please explain to me how on Earth her brother is physically capable of wrecking electronic devices? Sedgwick chalks it up to just being some strange abnormality that Ben had. Apparently no doctors are able to find the cause. The lack of solid explanation annoyed me.

I also felt like their adventure was too…. innocent shall I say? They’re taking a trip to New York City alone and the only plausible way that they could have successfully made it is with a lot of luck. Nobody can even begin to convince me that the authorities would look the other direction if two kids are sketchily trying to fly to another country and I’m positive that they would have had more challenges on their trip than they had.

I liked that the book was about coincidences. I’ve also experienced the phenomenon explained in the book where somebody has their “number”. Granted, I’m not really sure what my “number” is because for me it happens more often with names and words. Or I learn about something in class one day only to read about it in a book. Just a bunch of serendipitous events that make me feel a sense of déjà vu. I found it fun to read about coincidences and how a string of them led Laureth and Ben on their adventure.

Although I liked the characters, setting, and writing, I never really connected to the novel. It was hard for me to really get into it and I didn’t until about halfway through. Usually this might not be a huge problem, but considering that this book was 224 pages long, I personally feel like I would have enjoyed it more had I become interested earlier on while reading.

3/5 Stars

The School for Good and Evil – Soman Chainani

The School for Good and Evil

The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1)

Author: Soman Chainani

Series: The School for Good and Evil #1

Publish Date: May 14th, 2013

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

New York Times Bestseller * Indie List Bestseller * Soon to be a Film from Universal Pictures * A Barnes & Noble Best Book of 2013 * Waterstones Children’s Prize Nominee * Children’s Choice Reading List Selection

The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?

The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.


I was very very excited to read this one. It was a well-received break from all of the chick-lit and contemporary books I’ve been reading lately.

The School for Good and Evil was an interesting take on fairy tales and what might go into the creation of them in an alternate universe. I really liked it. It took a boarding school and fairy tales and put them together! How could I not like it?

I’m a sucker for books set in boarding schools. I might have bypassed this book if not for the fact that it revolves around oh what do you know? A boarding school. Nevertheless, the book had a very unique premise compared to other fairy tale books.

It begins with an introduction of our two protagonists, Agatha and Sophie. Sophie is a girly, pretty girl who believes that she’ll be the next in line to be kidnapped to attend the School for Good and Evil. Agatha on the other hand, is an ill-tempered girl with a liking for frumpy black clothing. Many believe her to be the candidate for the evil school. A series of events occur in which the two are snatched, not going along the plan that had originally been laid out. The two’s positions are switched, with Sophie entering The School for Evil and Agatha entering The School for Good. Agatha, determined to get her and Sophie home and away from the nightmare, begins formulating a plan to get them back to their beloved Gavaldon. From the beginning, anybody can tell that friendship will be a central idea of this book. I like that it had friendship as a bigger overarching theme than romance.

I liked this book right up until the last few chapters. Agatha was my favorite character from the beginning with her snarky, logical, anti-social personality. It was pretty clear who was evil and who was good even if the characters stubbornly refused to see it. But what annoyed me about the book was that in the end, Agatha changed from her personality. She was no longer the lovable, snarky girl that I had liked going into the book but instead, had become a little similar to the Sophie from the beginning of the book.

The romance was developed poorly. There was a total of two possible boys that Agatha and Sophie could have dated and one of them had a 0.000000000000000000000000000001% chance of actually getting the girl. So in  other words, there was a love square. Now where’s the fourth person you may ask? Oh it’s just Beatrix, another girl that happens to be at the school. So much of the romance is chalked up to the fairytale soulmate crap that there’s absolutely no evidence of development between the characters. I expected that even though this was fairytale based book, that there would still be at least some development. Nope. One minute they’re enemies, the next they’re soulmates. The same lack of subtle development was seen in the way that Sophie became evil. I personally think that it would have better for small details and cracks in her persona to reveal the ugly personality she had inside. Just like the jumps from enemy to soulmate, Sophie jumps from nice to evil.

The ending was disappointing. It was rushed, felt disorganized, and lacked the compelling storytelling that the rest of the book had had. But I do feel that Chainani ended the book in a good place. It sets it up really well for a sequel.

In conclusion, Chainani wrote a unique book but executed it poorly. Development isn’t executed well on all aspects from plot to his dynamic characters. Even so, I enjoyed reading this book and will definitely be picking up the sequel.

3/5 Stars

The Forbidden Stone – Tony Abbott


The Forbidden Stone

Author: Tony Abbott

Series: The Copernicus Legacy #1

Publish Date: January 7th, 2014

Genre: Middle grade, Adventure, Sci-fi, Mystery


The Copernicus Legacy has everything middle-grade readers love-an international adventure, a compelling friendship story, and a mission that draws on history and astronomy. Readers who loved Percy Jackson will be eager to follow our heroes on this six-book, six-novella journey and excited to enter a sweepstakes to participate in a real-life scavenger hunt hosted by Tony Abbott that lets the reader become part of the story.

It all began when four friends-Wade, Lily, Darrel, and Becca-received a strange, coded email from Wade’s uncle Henry shortly before the old man’s sudden death. They set off for Germany to attend the funeral with Wade’s father, Roald, and discover that Uncle Henry left them yet another baffling message that they suspect is the key to figuring out how and why he died.

The message leads to a clue, and the more clues they discover, the farther they travel down a treacherous path toward an ancient, guarded secret. Soon they are in a breathless race across the globe, running for their lives as a dangerous shadow organization chases them around every corner. Their only hope of saving themselves-and the world that they know-is to find twelve magical relics from a hidden past that will unlock the Copernicus Legacy.


Did not like. At all.

I hated the writing. I hated the ellipses. Oh the ellipses. Nobody should ever use that many ellipses in a book. It was awful. Turn a page. Ellipse. Read a paragraph. Another ellipse. THERE WERE TOO MANY ELLIPSES.

“Darrell, on the other hand…” (page 176)

“The tram made another s-l-o-w stop. Three passengers got off. Probably going to sleep. How much longer…?” (page 177)

“‘Are you ready?’ she whispered. ‘This exact kind of dagger is called a pug…pugnale…pugnale Bolognese-‘” (page 179-180)

“Her heart stopped. ‘Yes…?'” (page 183)

“‘Uh-huh. Really? Was anything…I can’t right now, we’re in… we’re out of town. Yes. Yes. Please. As soon as I can. Thank you.'” (page 185)

“‘In case…of what?’ asked Lily.'” (page 148)

“‘This is like…,’ Lily started, then stopped when she flashed her light on the walls below. ‘Uh-oh…'” (page 148)

“‘Oh my gosh,'” said Lily, staring out the window as the station receded. ‘What…what…what are we going to do?'” (page 199)

“‘Don’t get caught?’ Lily frowned. ‘Ohhhh, man…'” (page 199)


Not only this but there are multiple grammatical sentence structure errors throughout the book. It was choppy.

But what I really detested about the book was the characters. Every single one of them was a Mary Sue/Gary Stu. I don’t care if Becca is slightly insecure. She’s still a Mary Sue. Somehow, all of them are smart in some way but then they don’t know what a substitution code is? How old are they? In what universe does a fully grown adult allow children to coerce him into flying all of them to a foreign country? In what universe, will ANYBODY be able to find five tickets on a plane to Europe in ONE DAY? The universe practically revolves around them. Becca was the worst. She knows five languages. She knows all type of history facts. She knows science. She knows friggin’ everything. She’s quiet. She’s nice. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH HER. Lily might not be smart, but she is a “fantastic researcher”. But please explain to me how she can get WIRELESS IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY SO EASILY. DID I MISS THE MEMO ABOUT HOW SHE GOT 4G IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY? IT’S REALLY EXPENSIVE THERE. DID YOU KNOW THAT? WOULD YOUR PARENTS BE WILLING TO PAY FOR WIRELESS? OH YEAH OF COURSE THEY WOULD SINCE THE ENTIRE FRIGGIN’ UNIVERSE REVOLVES AROUND THESE FOUR KIDS. DID I MISS THE FACT THAT SHE SOMEHOW MANAGED TO CONNECT TO WIFI IN A TAXI? I’M FAIRLY CERTAIN THAT TAXI’S IN EUROPE DO NOT COME WITH WIFI. AIN’T NOBODY GOT MONEY FOR THAT. PLEASE EXPLAIN THIS TO ME. HOW IS HER LAPTOP OR TABLET NOT DEAD YET? HOW? Wade is annoying. He knows science and is just as smart as Becca, but then he always feel as if she is superior. Darrell isn’t supposed to be smart, but then of course he also knows some of the lovely facts that would benefit them on their journey. It doesn’t make any logical sense. They are said to be smart but then do some of the stupidest things I have ever read. If you are trying to maintain secrecy and “stay off the grid” as you have said, DON’T POST BLOG POSTS ABOUT THE ADVENTURE. I’m pretty sure that if they KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE and WHAT YOUR PHONE AND SUCH IS, the they can PROBABLY FIGURE OUT YOU HAVE A BLOG. Secondly, WHO WIELDS A DAGGER AND TAKES IT OUT IN PUBLIC. AGAIN, SECRECY. If you take out a very expensive-looking, dangerous weapon, what normal person isn’t going to notice? Please gain some common sense.

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The plot is inane. Again, since the world REVOLVES AROUND THESE CHILDREN, they can do anything without getting in trouble. They somehow have endless pockets and can come up with fantastic plans that miraculously work. Paired with the terrible writing, the book dragged to the point that I stopped just past the halfway point. I had to force myself to read it. I applaud myself for getting that far.

Lastly, before I finish this lovely rant, the scientific facts are wrong. I appreciate the research, but use more accurate sources.

1/5 Stars