Review: The Bagman by Rachael Rippon

In the midst of the Second World War, Abigail is deposited at St Winifred's Orphanage for Willful, Wayward and Wicked Children. As soon as she arrives, Abigail is warned of the Bagman and what will happen if she misbehaves. But Abigail is too busy trying to escape to listen. Her estranged twin, Tabitha, is close by and Abigail has to find her before their 16th birthdays. Besides, she doesn't believe in the Bagman.
He believes in her though. Appearing when she least expects it; he asks her to play his Game. He will give her seven wishes to be used in seven days. But the Game is not as easy as Abigail supposes, and the wishes not as nice…
Soon, Abigail is getting exactly what she wished for. And the effects are catastrophic.
If you loved 'Coraline' or 'Alice in Wonderland', then you're sure to love 'The Bagman".

**Just to clear something up before you start reading this review, there are many bagman in the world this is set in, but this book deals mostly only one. When I talk about the idea of the bagmen, I'm talking about the idea as a whole. When I talk about the characterization of the bagman, it's about our bagman, the specific individual that this book is about. In italics, I'm referring to the title.**

It's been a while since I read a book that was in this kind of setting, mood and plot-type. The time period (WWII) isn't one that I read often. Generally, books that I tend to pick are set between the Victorian era and the 20's, a medieval setting, present day or future time periods. This book was a good one to read to get back to the culture that was present during WWII without dealing with the war a lot. (part of the reason I don't read war-time books is because they often end up talking about whichever war is happening instead of the story that the book is about. Sometimes it's fine, but sometime I want something different to read about) 

It took me a few chapters to get into The Bagman but once the pace picked up and the Game started, that was it. The plot was so intriguing, I just needed to find out what happened next. The characters were engaging and fun to read about, and the plot was completely unpredictable  which is a good break from other books I've been reading lately. Once the story got set up and I read through the first few chapters, the pacing was just right for me. Fast enough to keep me excited to read more, but not too fast that I couldn't think about what was happening.

Another thing that was done well in The Bagman was the rotating perspectives that some chapters had. Most of the chapters were from Abigail's point of view as she is our protaganist (and a very good one at that!) but every so often we have a shorter chapter from the Bagman's point of view to provide a bit of dramatic irony, a somewhat different story, and to give us information that we need to have but that Abigail wouldn't have a way of finding out.

My favourite part of The Bagman was THE Bagman. The whole idea of the Bagmen was one of the things that made me want to read the whole book. I didn't completely understand the Bagmen at the beginning, and I wanted to know more about them so bad that I had to keep reading. 

Originally, a Bagman is:

bag·man  (bgmn)
1. Slang A person who collects money, as for racketeers.
2. Chiefly British A traveling salesman.


which I find very fitting and a bit ironic as well. The bagmen in The Bagman do collect things, although it is a bit more serious than money. They are also, in a way, traveling salesmen, but these salesmen are ones that you really don't want to have to deal with, and not just because they'll try and guilt trip you into buying their newspaper or watch or whatever. And yet, the Bagman repeatedly made my feel sympathetic for him and root for him even though he was completely nasty. The characterization of the Bagman was perfect for the concept. He was mean, cruel and calculating, but still clever and, in a somewhat creepy way, patient and charming. Everything that the Bagman did fit right along with his character and what he was supposed to be. He made a villain that I thoroughly enjoyed reading about.  

Another thing that I liked was the lack of romance. Usually I like a bit of romance in my books, but it was nice to have something to read that had a completely different focus so the characters had different motivators.

The end of the book was ANOTHER good thing about The Bagman. It was the perfect mix of answers and new problems to keep me happy with what I had read and keep me excited to read the next book.

A favourite quote from the book: 
""Follow your gut instinct, that's the ticket to success. I know." Abigail supposed this might be true, as Mr. Bentley's gut was on the large side."

The Good: The Bagman/men, the ending, character perspectives changing, the plot
The Bad: Somewhat slow to start
The Verdict: 8.5/10
This book was supplied by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Rachael!



WOW #17 The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine . Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event meant to showcase the not-yet-released books that we are eagerly awaiting. This week I've chosen The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black.

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

Release Date: September 3, 2013

Not only does the title sound promising, so does the synopsis! And this one is out in less than a week, too.



TTT #22 Secondary Characters

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish. Each week they give a topic, and then other blogs make their top ten lists for that topic.

This week's topic is Top Ten Most Memorable Secondary Characters

In no particular order, as per usual:

1) Sirius Black from Harry Potter: Sirius has always been my favourite Harry Potter character. Alwaysalwaysalways.

2) George Cooper from The Song of the Lionness (and other Tortall series) by Tamora Pierce: Because yes. He's one of my favourite Tortall characters and automatically makes any scene 10x better.

3) Prince Caspian from Narnia: Honestly, it's been such a long time since I've read Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, I don't really remember why I liked Prince Caspian so much, and yet I know I do. So he's gotta be pretty memorable, right? Also, maybe it's time for a re-read.

4) Miracle Max and Valerie from The Princess Bride by William Goldman: I'm going to put these two together because they both make each other so much better, plus they appear for only a short amount of time in the same scene. The way they interact is hilarious, plus I've seen the movie so many times I hear their voices when I read quotes from them.

5) Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter: Who doesn't love Luna? She's wonderful. Also, I don't think you can beat her for being most memorable.

6) Johanna Mason from The Hunger Games: She's kick ass and doesn't care what other people think. I love it.

7) Jack from The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long: So I'm not sure if you could call him a secondary character, but I absolutely loved Jack's character. 

8) Tkaa from The Immortals Quartet by Tamora Pierce: Tkaa is a teacher, ambassador, baby dragon babysitter basilisk. Memorable? Yes.

9) Inigo Montoya from the Princess Bride: "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!" 

10) Finnick Odair from the Hunger Games: District 4 is now my favourite.

What are your most memorable characters?



WOW #16 Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine . Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event meant to showcase the not-yet-released books that we are eagerly awaiting. This week I've chosen Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Release Date: September 10, 2013

A book about a fangirl? That's something I haven't heard of before!



TTT #21 Things that Make our Life as Bloggers/Readers Easier

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish. Each week they give a topic, and then other blogs make their top ten lists for that topic.

This week's topic is Top Ten Things that Make Our Life as Bloggers and Readers Easier

1) The Library: Ok, this one should be pretty obvious, but honestly, it's so true! The library helps me in so many ways... I find the most random books that I would never have found before, I find books that I'm curious about but don't want to spend money on, I find books that I don't have the money for but want to read, I can request books from all over the province, even from different library systems, I can find reference books for school projects that I wouldn't get any other way, I can download ebooks to use on my nook, 

2) Review Requests: It's always nice to hear what your audience is into and what kind of books they would like to see reviewed on your blog! Suggestions are always welcome! 

3) Book Giveaways/Free Books: I think this one is pretty self explanatory. Free books = less money spent but more books to read! 

4) Decent Book to Movie Adaptations: Because there's nothing more heartbreaking than going to see the movie version of a favourite book, and the story you loved being completely slaughtered on-screen. 

5) Goodreads: This site is one of my most-used sites ever. I'm serious. I use it everday to update what I'm reading, check the groups I've joined, and scan for new stuff. It is so so so useful! I love being able to track all of the books I've read, authors I like, and reviews from other people. There's also giveaways and discussion groups lists with upcoming releases. Basically, it's the perfect site for me.

6) Sticky Notes: I have a pad of sticky notes on my night stand, and I write on it a lot when I'm reading a book. Most of my reading I do before I go to sleep, so it's always handy right there by my alarm clock and reading light. I can use sticky notes to jot down things that stand out to me, whether I like them, don't like them, or just made me think. I can also use the sticky notes to mark pages in a book that I want to go back to, or if there was a quote I really like. (because who wants to stop and write out a whole quote if you're really into a good book?) Sticky notes mean that I can keep on reading, but still remember things that are important.

7) Thrift Stores: $0.25 for a hardly used book? I'm in.

8) Other Blogs/People: About half of the books I choose to read are because I saw good reviews/ people talking about them on other blogs (both normal blogs and tumblr), on goodreads, or on youtube. And most of them turn out to be really really good!

9) eBooks and eReaders: It's like a book, but you can take 17419074893274 of them anywhere all at once! eBooks are also a good way to travel light but still have lots to read. They might never replace a real, physical book on my shelf, but I still have a lot of appreciation for eBooks.

10) School Breaks: Less school, more time. It's a win-win for extra reading time, right?

Now that my grammar and sentance structure is rapidly decreasing, it's a good thing that list is finished. What helps you blog and/or read?

Rachel & Megan


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Today, F. Scott Fitzgerald is known for his novels, but in his lifetime, his fame stemmed from his prolific achievement as one of America's most gifted story writers. "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," a witty and fantastical satire about aging, is one of his most memorable stories.

In 1860 Benjamin Button is born an old man and mysteriously begins aging backward. At the beginning of his life he is withered and worn, but as he continues to grow younger he embraces life -- he goes to war, runs a business, falls in love, has children, goes to college and prep school, and, as his mind begins to devolve, he attends kindergarten and eventually returns to the care of his nurse.

This strange and haunting story embodies the sharp social insight that has made Fitzgerald one of the great voices in the history of American literature.

For the last while I've been wanting to get into classics, but the sheer number of books I already have to read combined with the fact that I don't really know where to start has left me a bit confuzzled. With the release of the Great Gatsby movie as a bit of a prompt, I've finally started to ease my way in to reading classics starting with some of the shorter, easier-to-read ones. And so I read The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (in one sitting! Although given the length of the book, err, short story, I guess that's not really something to brag about)

'm just gonna start off by saying that this was well-worth the half hour it took to read. I was a bit surprised that it was so short, though. For some reason I've always been under the impression that it was more of a novel, and to be honest, I wish it was. The plot, other than it being about a person who ages backwards (although I think that most people already knew that) is nothing incredibly shocking or unusual. Instead what made me enjoy this story is the different perspective it gives. Since Benjamin ages backwards, the normal stages of life are treated differently because he doesn't really fit it. I think the parts that I liked the most were how other people didn't understand how to treat Benjamin or socialize with him.

The other great thing about this book was that it introduced me to F. Scott Fitzgerald's writing style, which I loved! It seems very practical and straightforward, which makes reading a book that is really kind of silly even more interesting. I'm definitely looking forward to reading the Great Gatsby after reading this short story.

The thing to keep in mind while reading this book is that since it is so short there really isn't a ton of time to get to know the characters or get attached. There's not a ton of substance/meaning, at least not that I got out of the book. To me, it was just something to enjoy for half an hour and then set aside and move on, but it was worth the read for sure.

The Good: Writing style, perspective
The Bad: very short = hard get to know the characters/not very thought-provoking
The Verdict: 7/10



WOW #15 Relic by Renee Collins

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine . Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event meant to showcase the not-yet-released books that we are eagerly awaiting. This week I've chosen Relic by Renee Collins.

After a raging fire consumes her town and kills her parents, Maggie Davis is on her own to protect her younger sister and survive best she can in the Colorado town of Burning Mesa. In Maggie’s world, the bones of long-extinct magical creatures such as dragons and sirens are mined and traded for their residual magical elements, and harnessing these relics’ powers allows the user to wield fire, turn invisible, or heal even the worst of injuries.

Working in a local saloon, Maggie befriends the spirited showgirl Adelaide and falls for the roguish cowboy Landon. But when she proves to have a particular skill at harnessing the relics’ powers, Maggie is whisked away to the glamorous hacienda of Álvar Castilla, the wealthy young relic baron who runs Burning Mesa. Though his intentions aren’t always clear, Álvar trains Maggie in the world of relic magic. But when the mysterious fires reappear in their neighboring towns, Maggie must discover who is channeling relic magic for evil before it’s too late.

Relic is a thrilling adventure set in a wholly unique world, and a spell-binding story of love, trust, and the power of good.

Release Date: August 27, 2013

Okay, this book sounds pretty darn fascinating, right? I think I'll have to read it.



Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

         Let's just start off by saying that I loved this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of reading it. It was just what I needed. I'm not usually caught reading extremely mushy gushy romance books, (don't get me wrong, I LOVE me a good romance) but I don't usually go LOOKING for them in particular. Often books I read will have large elements of romance in them, but it won't be the main genre. (For example The Selection by Kiera Cass, or Divergent by Veronica Roth- they are considered dystopian novels, but have heavy romantic undertones) So this book was a nice change. And after reading this book, I've officially decided that mushy gushy is pretty much the best thing ever. I absolutely love getting butterflies and that warm mushy feeling inside while reading a book, and that is definitely what Eleanor & Park gave me. 

        I also thought that the characters Rainbow Rowell presented to me in this book were very real and extremely relatable. Being in a relationship myself at the moment, I may have been a bit biased towards the subject matter, but I found it amazing. Every little detail that Eleanor and Park noticed about each other was described, and it was all completely adorable. There were times when I just couldn't handle the level of adorability (and YES I just made up a new word right there ;P) 

       Along with the awesome characters and adorable lovey-dovey-ness, Rainbow Rowell served up an engaging plotline as well! She's just on a roll! I felt very connected to Eleanor as she fought through family struggles, and as Park argued endlessly with his parents. Along with the very real love that they were experiencing, were very real problems that many people in our society unfortunately face. I loved that about this book. It showed that despite the struggles, true love can still come alive.

The Good: mushy gushy loveeeeee, characters, plot, realism
The Bad: I'm sorry, this word does not in any way relate to this book. 
The Verdict: 5/5 hands down. 

keep readin' it write!


WOW #14 Love in the Time of Global Warming

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine . Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event meant to showcase the not-yet-released books that we are eagerly awaiting. This week I've chosen Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block.

Seventeen-year-old Penelope (Pen) has lost everything—her home, her parents, and her ten-year-old brother. Like a female Odysseus in search of home, she navigates a dark world full of strange creatures, gathers companions and loses them, finds love and loses it, and faces her mortal enemy.

In her signature style, Francesca Lia Block has created a world that is beautiful in its destruction and as frightening as it is lovely. At the helm is Pen, a strong heroine who holds hope and love in her hands and refuses to be defeated.

Release Date: August 27th, 2013.

The cover looks absolutely stunning, the synopsis is especially intriguing, and the title is SO FASCINATING. CAN I HAVE IT?


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