Crystal Magic by Madeline Freeman is a bewitching and magical story that will easily entertain and leave the reader ready for more with its fun storyline, romance and friendship!
I have to say, Crystal Magic was a really fun book to read. It was light and entertaining and easily kept me reading along; it was just an all-round good book to read. Madeline Freeman’s writing was flowing and detailed and easy to read. The story was well plotted and weaves friendship perfectly with the magical element that encompasses the story.
Following sixteen year old Kristyl Barnette a young woman who has spent the last few years of her life as an outcast and social pariah thanks to the things she can do and the strange occurrences that seem to happen in her presence, Crystal Magic sees Kristyl move to the small town of Clearwater when a tragedy forces to move in with her estranged aunt. Still reeling from her loss, Kristyl finds unexpected friendship and understanding at her new home and as Kristyl learns the truth about what she can do, the possibilities seem bigger than ever before.
I really enjoyed following Kristyl, also known as Krissa in this book. She was a likable heroine and Freeman tells her story well. Freeman weaves many different magical elements into Crystal Magic and I found it to be well thought out and plotted. Centering on Kristyl and this new stage of her life, Crystal Magic expectedly features the traditional teen drama and focuses a lot on Kristyl’s day to day life. Yet I didn’t find this in any way boring, and instead enjoyed the languid, but still entertaining, pace Freeman has set.
Kristyl finds herself faced with two very different groups of people in this novel and I thought their differences we notable, but also very minor. Owen, Lexie, Bria, Felix and West are the first to accept Krissa and welcome her into their circle of friends. Own proves to be an adorable romantic interest of Krissa and I like seeing her experience her first crush. Crystal, Brigit, Fox, Griffin and the others on the other hand appeal to Krissa’s magical side and can understand her in a way others can’t and yet there’s something about them that doesn’t sit well with me—I feel Freeman has a lot in story for Krissa and her acquaintances.
My only issue with this book is that despite it’s many surprises towards the end and the shocking ending, Crystal Magic didn’t answer some of the questions I had in the beginning of the book. Freeman sets things up well for the next installment, but still leaves me not completely satisfied, and yet ready for more!
Incubus is the second book in Jennifer Quintenz’s Daughters of Lilith series and is quite possibly even better than the first book! The stakes are higher and there’s a new danger to face as Braedyn and the Guard continue their fight against the Lillith in another exciting read by Quintenz!
I have to say I really enjoyed Incubus; possibly even more than the first book! With Quintenz’s world already established and the characters well known by now, I was thrilled with how the story is progressing and the developments that have come to light in this book. Sometimes sequels don’t live up to their predecessors; however Incubus manages to stand exceptionally well on its own two feet with its own individual story that still manages to feature an ongoing storyline from the previous book.
As with the previous book in this series, Incubus was very well written and author Jennifer Quintenz manages to pack a lot of action and surprises into the story. The tale is well written and the characters compliment each other beautifully. The introduction of some new characters to that story shake the foundation, but Quintenz explores them expertly; managing to include many unexpected developments.
Braedyn continues to grow and strengthen in her fight against the Lilitu, making some bad choices along the way that may affect not only those around her, but possibly the whole world. Personally I like Braedyn and I like seeing her face things head on. Admittedly she makes some tough choices in this book, some of which have horrendous results, but she’s learning and you can’t fault her desire to do the right thing.
Braedyn’s relationship with Lucas continues to be a focal point within the story considering they are still unable to act on their feeling without Lucas being tremendously hurt, or worse, killed. Quintenz continues to showcase a great relationship between Braedyn and her father Murphy and I’m even quite a fan of the unexpected friendship/alliance Braedyn has formed with Karayan—this was not something expected after her actions in the previous book, but Quintenz is beginning to depict a different side to Karayan that makes me wonder just how evil she really is.
Shocking betrayals and unexpected revelations see Incubus end with an unforeseen cliff-hanger that readers will simply not expect but will leave them raring to dive into the third instalment as soon as they’re physically able! ...more
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir is a thoroughly entertaining and impressive debut novel that draws readers into a powerful and dangerous world and follows two strong leads whose lives intertwine with deadly consequence.
In the tradition of ancient Rome, An Ember in the Ashes depicts a brutal and dangerous society where defiance usually means death and those in power dominate those of lesser stations. In a world where the Martial Empire long ago defeated and enslaved the Scholar people, An Ember in the Ashes follows and is told through the eyes of two very different individuals; Laia, a slave and Elias a solider.
When Laia’s remaining family is slaughtered and her only surviving relative, her brother is imprisoned for treason, Laia sets out to find a way to save him from execution, even when it means she must take a position as a slave and spy on the Commandant, a barbaric and heinous woman who runs a training school for Masks, the most fierce and deadly of Empire soldiers. Elias on the other hand is a Mask in training; one of the best and a student under the Commandant. However Elias has a secret; he loathes everything the Empire stands for and has plans to desert. As Laia and Elias’s lives begin to intertwine, the two begin a dangerous journey that will see them make tough choices and push the boundaries of their world like never before.
An Ember in the Ashes is actually a really interesting book. Author Sabaa Tahir has clearly thought really hard and put a lot of work into detailing her complex world. The society within An Ember in the Ashes is a mix of ancient Rome with a hint of dystopia; there is magic, evil and many secrets to be discovered within. There’s so much unknown within this tale and I like that I still feel like there’s so much to be discovered.
Tahir details an intriguing world of magic, danger and war in An Ember in the Ashes. There’s almost a medieval feel to it at times, and this blends well with the developing storyline as well as the main characters and the minor ones to create a very engrossing read. The storyline is still clearly developing but Tahir has won me over with the mystery surrounding her main characters destinies and their purposes. Powerful wise men known as Augurs hint at a bigger picture for both Laia and Elias and I for one cannot wait to discover what that may be.
I really loved Laia and Elias as characters. They’re both solid individuals and have their own personalities, fears and flaws. They both want more from life and are slowly discovering their individual limits. From different worlds, it takes a while for their lives to intersect, but Tahir sets a good foundation and gives them both purpose. They both have different wants and desires, but it’s seeing them find their common goals amidst the undeniable attraction between them despite their different positions in life that cements the fact they could do so much together.
Considering, Elias and Laia are obvious love interests for each other, there isn’t an actual love triangle within An Ember in the Ashes; it’s more a love square. There’s no denying there’s an attraction and appeal between Elias and Laia, but they also both have deep, and very real, feelings and connections with other people. It’s odd…..seeing them with their respectable love interests, you feel the relationships and the desire. They both burn so deeply and you honestly feel these two individual romances and the possibilities they present. But then Laia and Elias are together and you can’t help but feel like they should be together. It’s confusing emotionally and you don’t know who to get behind, but Sabaa Tahir writes this all so well that I honestly feel at this point they could be with each other, or the others they care about and it would just work.
Even after finishing the final page of this novel I’m still very caught up in the story. An Ember in the Ashes races towards a stunning conclusion that leaves the story set up beautifully for the sequel. Sabaa Tahir has created a dark, brutal world of magic, creatures and possibilities, and I for one cannot wait to see what happens to Laia and Elias next!
Inheritance is the first book in Lisa Forrest’s Inheritance series and is a debut novel that explores ancient circus performers like never before in this unique and fresh tale!
I have to be honest; I was really excited to read this novel. I’m always excited to read new Aussie fiction, especially when the novel is set in Australia and Inheritance very much caught my attention the moment I read about its unique concept. Unfortunately, Inheritance didn’t completely live up to my expectations, although I will consider reading the next instalment to see how Forest continues to develop the story.
Inheritance follows seventeen year old Tallulah, a young woman who has always known she was different. When Tallulah begins training at the esteemed Cirque d’Avenir, a school for budding circus performers and artists, Tallulah discovers that the abilities and secrets she has always shared with her nanny Irena mark her as something special, a Cirkulatti. Drawn into dangerous Cirkulatti politics and a centuries old mystery, Tallulah slowly discovers that her abilities set her apart from even the Cirkulatti and mean she’s even more different than she ever imagined.
I think the concept within Inheritance is absolutely sensational. I’ve never seen such manner of circus performers explored and linked in the way Lisa Forrest manages to do so in Inheritance. And yet I don’t think it met the potential it displayed when I first began the book. I would have liked to spend a little more time understand all the different performers; clowns, strongmen, flamethrowers and more, rather than focuses so much on Tallulah’s life which in my eyes paled in comparison to the possibilities of the circus folk.
Overall I didn’t mind Tallulah as the main character, but where were times when I struggled to connect with her too. I understand Forrest wrote Tallulah’s character with the intention of her being powerful and having a huge importance to the Cirkulatti that we still don’t yet understand, but sometimes this came across as too obvious and I felt it was thrown in my face repeatedly when it wasn’t necessary.
I liked the different characters in this book and how they form different friendships with Tallulah. I would have liked to have seen more of certain individuals as they really would have complimented the story more. I was a bit perplexed by Tallulah’s love interests, as I thought one was too obvious and the other almost non-existent, although it was clear Forrest wanted to display a connection between Tallulah and this certain guy.
Inheritance is a very detailed book and races towards a climactic ending that sees betrayals come to light by some characters you’re simply not expecting. A solid start to a new series but an Aussie author; I may just be persuaded to pick up the second book to see what happens next! ...more
Ghost House is Alexandra Adornetto’s latest release and is a hauntingly and brilliantly written tale of vengeful spirits, ghosts and the supernatural woven together with exhilarating connections and a beautiful romance.
Reminiscent of Meg Cabot’s Mediator series, Ghost House follows seventeen year old Chloe Kennedy, a young woman who is still grieving the recent loss of her mother and who has the troublesome ability to see the dead. When Chloe and her brother head to England to spend some time with their grandmother in the wake of their fathers grief, Chloe finds herself swept up in a unexpected mystery when it becomes evident the country estate her grandmother owns houses more secrets and spirits than Chloe could have ever expected. Meeting the alluring stranger Alexander Reade, long since dead who sparks feelings in her she never expected to experience, Chloe soon finds herself in the dangerous sights of Alex’s long dead love that won’t rest until Chloe joins her in death.
I have to say that I absolutely loved Ghost House! This is the first novel I’ve ever read that has been written by Alexandra Adornetto, although I do know her Halo trilogy is quite popular, but I can say it will definitely not be the last as I was completely swept up into this ghostly tale that was perfectly written and a joy to read! The story within Ghost House is wonderfully detailed, with Adornetto’s writing lyrical and flowing. The country estate where the majority of the novel is set is wonderfully described, haunting and almost gothic.
I was very much a fan of the multitude of characters we met during the story including heroine Chloe, ghostly Alex, Chloe’s brother Rory and Grandmother Dee and even others such as Joe the stable hand, quirky ghost hunters Mavis and May and even the vengeful spirit of Isobel. All added so much life (even if some of them were actually dead!) and character to the story. The setting was perfect and the characters complimented it, and the plotline, perfectly.
As our protagonist, I really liked Chloe. She’s obviously in a state of grief having just lost her mother, but she still was such a down to earth and willing character to follow. Surprisingly Chloe undertakes a lot of growth in this novel as she learns of Alex’s past and begins to understand her ability to see the dead. There’s still so much left to know about Chloe’s gift, but Alexandra Adornetto gives us just enough info to keep the story moving and Chloe learning.
Alexander Reade was beguiling as the seductive 19th century ghost who haunts Grange Hall. Alex is one of those old world gentlemen with morals and standards. There’s something so appealing about a guy like him and even though he made some mistakes during his life on earth, Alex is truly good and comes to care for Chloe. Oh, and he’s also devilishly handsome, charming and witty, which are a plus!
Chloe and Alex are beyond adorable together. Despite the fact they both come from different eras and one is dead while the other is alive, these two really compliment each other. Their romance isn’t overly thrown in your face and is instead a subtle underlining to the story that will have you giddy with the promise of their relationship. They have many obstacles in their way including Alex’s vengeful past love and his being a ghost and all, but it’s impossible not to hope they find a way to be together.
Wrought with ghostly hauntings and danger, Ghost House had me glued from the opening page. Considering it’s such an enjoyable read, I didn’t want it to end and Alexandra Adornetto has me keen as can be to get my ends on the second book with the promising ending! ...more
Sinner is the novel by Maggie Stiefvater that fans have been waiting for ever since Cole St. Claire was first introduced to the Wolves of Mercy Falls series and stole readers hearts with this unique view of the world and self destructive nature. Winning fans over with his unusual attitude, Cole finally gets his own tale as he and Isabel face their issues once and for all!
Set in L.A and as far away from Mercy Falls, Minnesota as you can get, Sinner is told through the eyes of Cole St. Claire and Isabel Culpeper. Varying back and forth between their POV’s, Sinner explores Cole and Isabel like never before and sees the two of them face some startling truths about the world around them and most importantly themselves. There lot of choices to be made and it’s only as Cole and Isabel accept some difficult truths will they be able to find their own happiness.
As always I adore Maggie Stiefvater as an author and I am so glad she decided to write this companion novel to her Wolves of Mercy Falls series. Fans needed to see this book and Cole and Isabel’s story needed to be told. And Stiefvater does her usual fantastic job with this dramatically, and beautiful told story. The writing is flawless and deep and the characters one of a kind.
As a reader, Cole St. Claire is one of those rare characters you come across every now and then that is completely outside of the box and has their own individual personality that cannot be compared to anyone else within the genre. Cole is damaged, broken and self-destructive. He’s lost and feels alone despite being surrounded by people and it’s this loneliness that drives so much of Cole’s decisions. He’s a self-centered maniac who sees the world like no other. Honestly, some of the things that come out of Cole’s mouth and that Maggie Stiefvater writes surprise me purely because they’re so unusual and not what you would expect someone, rock star or otherwise to ever admit or say.
Cole is looking for something; has been for a while despite his rock star status and the fact he could have anything he wanted. Perhaps this is what drove him to become a wolf and caused him to do many of the other dangerous things he’s done that are simply self inflicted that have put himself in danger. It’s this search that sees Cole connect with Isabel and it’s this desire to be seen simply for who he is as Cole, not Cole St. Claire that makes Cole so heartbreaking to follow and read about.
Isabel Culpeper is as complicated and as fractured as Cole. On the outside it would appear that she has everything; perfectly composed with beauty, money and rich friends, but Isabel is cold and guarded and determined to keep people out. I really love Isabel. I have ever since we discovered what a great friend she could be back in the Mercy Falls book and I’ve loved having the opportunity to have her front and center in this book. Isabel has a lot of issues, a lot, but I loved seeing her slowly face them and grow in Sinner.
Cole met his match in Isabel back in the second Mercy Falls book Linger and ever since the two of them have been doing a will-they-or-won’t-they dance that has seen a solid foundation develop between them as they unexpectedly connect. Cole and Isabel have a fantastic chemistry and this helps drive the fantastic dialogue shared between them. It’s was refreshing to discover a role reversal in Sinner that sees Isabel as the one who, despite Cole’s history and status, is the one who wants to keep him at arms length. Cole is ready for Isabel and simply wants her, but Isabel is the one who refuses to take the leap for fear of having her heart shattered. I thought Steifvater did a fantastic job with their relationship; the physical aspect took a back seat to the emotional at times, but was still fiery and addictive too.
From beginning to end, Sinner is everything you could hope for; lush, imaginative and entertaining. Cole and Isabel do not disappoint as we see their story unfold, something that is difficult and beautiful to witness while managing to be as uplifting as it is somber at times. Maggie Stiefvater you’ve done it again—simply brilliant!
Wish You Were Italian is the second book in the If Only series, this time written by author Kristin Rae and can easily be read as a stand alone novel. A fun, enticing read full of culture, friendship and romance, Wish You Were Italian will make you long for an adventure of your own!
Following seventeen year old Pippa who has been sent to Italy by her parents to study art for the summer at an art school in Florence, Wish You Were Italian sees Pippa throw caution to the wind when she decides to skip out on the art program, choosing instead to explore Italy on her own. Armed with some cash from her father, a journal full of activities from her best friend back home and a wish list of things she wants to do before she leaves, one of which is to fall in love with an Italian, Pippa begins exploring Italy. Only not everything goes as planned as an American boy with a great nature and stunning curls starts to make Pippa's heart race, a beautiful family with a sexy son and a girl who becomes an amazing friend make Pippa long to put down roots and a surprising development has Pippa questioning just what is important.
Wish You Were Italian was a really great book to read. As her debut novel, Kristin Rae manages to hit the nail on the head with this Italian adventure. I was impressed with the culture Rae weaves together with romance, humor and friendship. Seeing the main character visit the Trevi Fountain, explore Pompeii, the Coliseum and coastal villages of Italy makes you long to see them yourself, even as you're living vicariously through Pippa.
Pippa is a smart, sweet and strong young woman. She's down to earth and extremely likable and it's impossible not to enjoy following her. I loved seeing her fall for Darren, even though he wasn't what she thought she wanted and I enjoyed seeing her experience so much authentic Italy. Pippa made choices and decisions and I was right there alongside her, happy with practically every one.
Kristin Rae fills Wish You Were Italian with plenty of wonderfully colorful individuals Pippa meets during her time in Italy who you just can't help but fall in love with. From the charismatic and adorable Darren, to the amazing Chiara who becomes a true friend to Pippa to Chiara's extended family who welcome Pippa into their home and Darrens travelling companions--you can't help but appreciate each and every one of them for what they bring to the story.
Rich in culture, romance and addictive situations, Wish You Were Italian is a fantastic summer read you won't want to miss! ...more
Fool Me Twice by Mandy Hubbard is an extremely fun and entertaining contemporary romance that won me over with it's fresh and flirty feel and adorable storyline. I easily read this in a day and I was captivated by this summer romance with a twist from beginning to end!
Fool Me Twice is a well written and hilarious novel that follows eighteen year old Mackenzie, a quirky teenage girl with plenty of personality and attitude who is spending the summer working at Serenity Ranch and Spa. Last year Mackenzie had her heart broken when a summer romance with sexy cowboy Landon at the same ranch ended with him getting back with his ex-girlfriend. This year Mack refuses to fall for Landon's charms again, however when an accident leaves Landon with no memory of the last year and thinking he and Mack are still going out, Mackenzie decides to get take advantage of the situation and sets out to teach Landon a lesson. Mack has no plans to fall for Landon again, but as she continues to get closer to Landon in order to mess with him, Mack slowly begins to realize that maybe Landon isn't the jerk she first thought and maybe, just maybe they actually are perfect for each other.
I'll be honest here, heading into Fool Me Twice I didn't have a lot of expectations. I read the description and thought, "Oh, no. Here's a story about a girl foolish enough to fall for the same guy who previously broke her heart," and honestly didn't expect anything close to what I got with this novel. I mean, really, I LOVED Fool Me Twice. This is the first novel I've read by Mandy Hubbard, although I know it's not the first book she's written and can say it definitely won't be my last as I found myself really entranced by this fun and funny tale.
Mackenzie was a smart and intelligent main character to follow who sets out to get a little revenge against the boy who broke her heart and then ignored her for a year. She plans to get Landon to fall for her, and pull pranks on him along the way before finally going in for the kill and breaking his heart. Hubbard writes Mack as endlessly likeable and impossible not to vie for. Though she's ultimately trying to get revenge, nothing Mack does is really malicious and is more in good fun. Dying someone's horse and setting dozens of mouse traps around their bed isn't exactly cruel. Cheeky and evil yes, but not nasty.
Hubbard compliments Mack's schemes and plans perfectly by giving her the perfect partner in Landon, who is actually far from being the jerk both you as the reader and Mackenzie expect as the story starts out. Landon gives as good as he gets and takes Mack's pranks in stride; taking the pranks with a smile and good humor throughout the novel.
Mack and Landon may have had a "perfect "summer romance the year before Fool Me Twice is set, but as Mackenzie follows through with her plans, she and Landon get to know each other in a new and different way than they did the first time they were together. They have fantastic chemistry that's undeniable throughout the story and their relationship has it's deep moments and it's light ones. Hubbard has penned a great couple in them and they really were fun to follow. I loved learning why Landon did what he did the first time and seeing that maybe not everything is as it first appears.
Rich in smiles, laughs and romance as Mandy Hubbard teams Mack up with her best friend Bailey to provide moral support and assistance, Fool Me Twice is a great summer read guaranteed to provide a lot of entertainment and fun! ...more
Until the End is the final book in Abbi Glines sensational Sea Breeze series and finally tells the story of Rock and Trisha; heading back to the beginning before any of the other novels took place to show how this steadfast duo came to be together, before allowing us to revisit all the previous couples from the series once more and wrapping up a brilliant series in sensational form!
Although I'm really quite heartbroken to see this series come to an end and know I'll never again have the pleasure of starting a new Sea Breeze novel, I'm really quite thrilled with how this series concludes. Rock and Trisha have always been such a strong, cemented couple, from the moment the series began and it was wonderful to go back in time and discover how they actually came to be with one another.
In a lot of ways this novel is kind of in two parts; the first being Rock and Trisha's story and the second featuring epilogues of all the other couple's we've followed throughout the series. Told through both Rock and Trisha's POV's and then in that of all the other characters, Until the End couldn't be a better conclusion to the series if you ask me.
Abbi Glines took me on an emotional roller-coaster with Rock and Trisha and watching them fall in love and find each other was beautiful to behold. I think I appreciate them so much more after reading their prequel tale and as well as knowing what they've been through in their desire to have a family in the later Sea Breeze books. No one deserves happiness like they do, and now seeing all they've been though and how they managed to find happiness and strength in each other only makes me happier they managed to find a family in Preston's siblings, Daisy May, Brent and Jimmy. They're wonderful parents; breaking the cycle from the lives they had as children and teenagers, and Glines doesn't disappoint, weaving together an emotional, sexy and incredibly heartwarming story with their romance!
If it wasn’t enough to see Trisha and Rock falling in love in Until the End, Abbi Glines thrills us with the opportunity to follow all the previous couples in the series once more. Each has a short epilogue and allows readers to see what happened after their respective novels concluded. Each was sexy, sweet and highly entertaining, with the stories featuring Jason and Jess, Blythe and Krit and Dewayne and Sienna standouts for me! I found certain developments adorable, sweet and oh, so satisfying.
Glines ties the series up perfectly, and in the Abbi Glines fashion we have come to know and love. There’s no doubt in my mind that every moment of this series has been wonderful and worthwhile and I give Abbi Glines props for ending it so sensationally and giving her series the spectacular sendoff it deserves---brilliant, simply brilliant!
The Winner's Kiss is the beautifully written and thrilling conclusion to Marie Rutkoski's Winners Trilogy, seeing Arin and Krestal take their final stand in this riveting finale that will ensnare you from the first page to the last!
After the shocking ending of the previous book, war is in the air within the empire with the Valorian and Herrani armies ready face off against each other. A brokenhearted Arin leads his people, allied with the Dacrans while on the other side of the land Krestal has been sent to a brutal work camp in the icy North after her deceptions were discovered by her father who then betrayed her to the emperor. Arin and Krestal may be far apart but when discoveries are made, the two find themselves together once more, fighting for more than just their lives and their love, but their very freedom.....
As someone who enjoys, and has read her fair share of fantasy novels, I have absolutely no hesitation is saying The Winner's Trilogy has been one of the very best, and one of my very favourites, that I have read. From the first book to the last, the rich, lyrical way Marie Rutkoski has detailed Krestal and Arins story has been spectacular. Deliciously told, stakes have continuously grown, danger has reigned and the sensationally told plotline has captured me.
Rutkoski has introduced and then allowed us to follow two very strong and prominent characters. The series featured a beautiful and powerful romance that never faltered even as it faced it's hurdles, difficulties and when all seemed lost. Keeping us on our toes, Marie Rutkoski managed to surprise and both thrill her readers while managing to give us one romantic, action packed and dire installment after another. Perfectly developed, The Winners Trilogy was exciting and thrilling and so addictive to read--I really can't fault this series!
I have absolutely adored both Krestal and Arin as characters, and following them has been a real joy. From opposing nations their romance was forbidden, but managed to change them in ways that allowed them to stand up for what was right and what needed to me done. The events of The Winner's Kiss see Krestal altered drastically in a way that changes the very woman she is, but Marie Rutkoski only goes to use this change to strengthen Krestal as a character who makes hard choices and who has always fought tooth and nail.
As an action packed and thrilling series, the romance within The Winner's Trilogy has been an important aspect within each novel, yet it never managed to overtake the rest of the storyline--instead helping to enhance the reading experience. As someone who completely adores her romance, I thought the way Rutkoski wrote Arin and Krestal's relationship was brilliant. With so much at stake no matter how you look at it, seeing Krestal and Arin fall in love was beautiful and so thrilling to watch. Every forbidden touch and look was addictive and with so many hurdles throughout the series our couple faced, I was very satisfied with the possibilities and happiness Marie Rutkoski gave them in the end.
Rich and incredibly told, The Winner's Kiss wove thrilling battle scenes, spectacular romance, unexpected friendship and wonderful strategy to tell the final tale in Marie Rutkoski's Winner's Trilogy. Thrilling until it's perfect ending, this book couldn't have been better; allowing Marie Rutkoski to cement her place was one of my favorite fantasy writers and someone I'm guaranteed to follow no matter what she releases next!
The Winner’s Crime is the stunning follow up to Marie Rutkoski’s incredible fantasy The Winner’s Curse, and is a worthy sequel that once more draws readers into a dangerous world of politics and deception, set against a warring backdrop and littered with electric romance, attraction and intrigue.
As far as sequels go, The Winner’s Crime was spot on in my eyes. Rutkoski ended the previous tale on a bit of a cliffhanger at a really powerful moment, so I was hoping to dive straight back into the same circumstances. Though much has changed for our main characters since the last story concluded, The Winner’s Crime managed to develop the base storyline within this series and included enough conflict between the characters to keep me very satisfied.
Herran is now a free country, thanks to the treaty Lady Krestel bargained for with the emperor of Valoria; a treaty that saw Krestel promised to the crown prince to secure. Betrothed to her nation’s prince, Krestel finds herself once more a pawn in the games of others as she navigates her new life at court. Torn between the love she has for her former slave turned Governer of Herran, Arin and her duty to her father, Krestel finds herself walking a dangerous line as she fights to do what is right by her own heart, even if it means making tough choices and betraying some beliefs she’s had her whole life.
I’m really impressed with Marie Rutkoski’s world building and ability to create a tension filled, high stakes story with this series. I was won over by the characters and their conflicts in the first novel, and The Winner’s Crime only managed to cement my love for them even more and leave me further invested in their journey.
As far as main characters go I’m a real fan of Krestel. As far as I’m concerned, she is a perfect example of a strong, intelligent and capable female lead within a fantasy novel. Krestel deserves to be there with the greats and I can’t say enough that I love the way Marie Rutkoski has written this young woman. Krestel has come a long way since the first novel, and it’s the small changes in her that I appreciate the most. The lines between sides are really blurred in this series, with neither side entirely innocent or completely blameless and I’ve loved seeing Krestel decide her actions based on what she believes to be right, rather than the ideology expressed by her people.
It’s hard for Krestel to go against her father and deceive those around her, but Krestel’s eyes were opened in The Winner’s Curse and she can’t ignore what she knows to be true. Her mannerisms, attitude and nature are wonderful and I love the balance between strong young woman and a girl who just wants her father love her and to be with the man who has her heart.
Even though Krestel is now engaged to the crown prince, her heart still dutifully belongs to Arin in The Winner’s Crime, although there’s no doubt this raises a lot of issues for Krestel. I loved that Rutkoski managed to build between Krestel and Arin whilst managing to refrain from a dreaded love triangle. Sometimes it’s nice just to have two people belong to each other without the added interference of a third person. There are ways to add conflict and include obstacles that don’t mean another person involved and this series is a perfect example of this. I’m hoping against hope for a happy ending for Krestel and Arin---as long as they’re willing to take the chance to be together, risks aside I think they’ll have a happy life together. They certainly do so much for the other now……
Lush, dangerous and vividly told, The Winner’s Crime is a beguiling read! Wonderfully living up to its predecessor, The Winner’s Crime sets the stage for the final book in the trilogy that promises to be an electric ending!
Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLachlan is an extremely cute and fun novel that is a wonderful start to a promising new YA series. Sassy, sweet and actually quite addictive, this novel is the perfect way to spend an afternoon!
Flirty Dancing follows fifteen year old Beatrice "Bea" Hogg, and sees the shy but determined teenager discover the opportunity of a lifetime when a national dance competition hosts auditions and thanks to her quirky Nan, Bea manages to find herself paired up with her school’s resident hottie, Ollie Matthews. Discovering a natural talent she didn’t know she possessed, together Bea and Ollie jive their way up through the rounds and into the finals, with Bea discovering along the way a happier, more confidant version of herself.
When I picked up Flirty Dancing off my shelf, I had planned to read a few pages, maybe a chapter or two….but before I knew it I was halfway through the story and very eager to keep reading. Jenny McLachlan’s writing is easy to read and her voice fresh and fun. Flirty Dancing was honestly just a downright good book to read. It was light and enjoyable and very easy to breeze through; the kind of novel you start and then want to read all the way to the end.
The main character was young, but not at all childish considering she was only fifteen years old. Her voice was kind and sweet, and she came across as a down to earth, normal young girl with natural insecurities and normal feelings. McLachlan explores issues of teen bullying, first love and all the ups and downs of being a teenager in this novel, and through Bea perfectly.
There was really nothing about this novel I could fault. Bea was a great main character and McLachlan compliments her well with a great cast of supporting characters. There’s some true friends to Bea in this story and some real mean girls too. Ollie is a great love interest as an honest to goodness nice guy and Bea’s family, most especially her little sister Emma make for a lot of smiles and laughs.
Considering this series is set to follow Bea, Betty, Kat and Pearl in individual books, I’m very much looking forward to reading Betty’s story next in Love Bomb and then the subsequent stories that follow. A fantastic, easy read---I highly recommend Flirty Dancing if you’re looking for something fun and enjoyable!
Set is Australia 1932, Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier is a story of ghosts, crime and murder, where almost everyone is on somebody else’s payroll and survival in the rough and tumble world of mob bosses, deception and danger often means making tough choices. Incomparable to anything else in the literacy genre, Razorhurst is a brutal novel that will take you to another time and place!
To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect with heading into Razorhurst. Though she is a well-known literacy name, Razorhurst is my first novel by Justine Larbalestier. However I was quite impressed by what I found within its pages. Unique and different, Razorhurst isn’t like anything I’ve read previously and Larbalestier managed to get everything spot on for me; from her writing style, dialogue and setting to create an authentic feeling story. I very much felt like I was a part of 1932 Surrey Hills and have to commend her for making me care about her different and complex characters.
Razorhurst follows a varying cast of characters and is told in the present, whilst also exploring past events from time to time. It is told predominantly through the eyes of Kelpie, a street urchin and Dymphna, a working girl whose lives intersect and see them thrown together when Dymphna’s current boyfriend is murdered and Kelpie walks in just after she has found the body, forcing the two of them together as they both don’t want to be tied to the murder.
Though we follow other characters from time to time, which allows for a well-rounded story I might add, Kelpie and Dymphna are the two individuals we follow the most as they try to stay ahead of the cops, mob bosses and various individuals after them. Personally I liked that they were both so different and yet came together nicely when they needed to. Surprisingly both the same age, Kelpie and Dymphna both share the ability to see ghosts, weaving in a supernatural element to the story, although this is not too overbearing and instead compliments the rest of the storyline well.
Razorhurst is a rough story by nature, but is actually a really nice tale about friendship and the power of wanting to better oneself. It’s really hard not to feel for both Kelpie and Dymphna who want to get out to their respective lives. Though they’re in very different positions, you cannot help but want to protect and care for Kelpie who has been on her own for most of her life, save for a few helpful and loving ghosts, and Dymphna who has to do with her body what no young woman of her age should have to do. Dymphna is older beyond her years, whilst Kelpie seems so much younger than she is due to malnutrition and lack of education.
It’s quite lovely seeing the two of them come together and that despite all she’s been through in her own life, Dymphna wants nothing more than to take care of Kelpie. Larbalestier will make you really think about her characters, from our main two leading ladies to the hard men of the Hills who are Glory’s stand over men to the lowly hardworking folk like Neal Darcy, working to provide for his ma and siblings. It’s great to see the different aspects of the world Larbalestier has created and helps make you really appreciate what she has done with Razorhurst.
Fast, hitting and endlessly surprising, Razorhurst is a unique and unparalleled tale that is sure to impress with its fresh and different storyline. ...more
**spoiler alert** Firstly, I'd like to say a big thanks to Bloomsbury Australia for providing me with a copy of this in exchange for an honest review!**spoiler alert** Firstly, I'd like to say a big thanks to Bloomsbury Australia for providing me with a copy of this in exchange for an honest review!
A rich and compelling read, The Winners Curse is a beguiling tale of politics, secrets and honour woven together with a complex love story that spans different social standings and sees a strong young woman face losing everything she loves for the chance to save her people.
I’ll be honest, heading into The Winner’s Curse I was really apprehensive as I’d never read any of author Marie Rutkoski’s work and didn’t know what to expect. To begin with the stunning cover stole my heart and the description at the back of the book had me very excited, but I was worried. I’d seen some mixed reviews and wondered if perhaps the book wouldn’t live up to my expectations. Well, it didn’t…it exceeded them!
The Winners Curse has to be one of my favourite books this year so far; I’m just putting that out there! From the moment I opened the book, I found myself entranced by Rutkoski’s glorious tale. The Winners Curse is a stunningly written tale of deception and war that sees Rutkoski depict two very different societies of people; the Valorian, a powerful and strong race and the Herrani who are enslaved to the them and fighting to regain their freedom.
Told predominantly through the eyes of Krestal, the daughter of the Valeroin's most celebrated general, The Winners Curse is a wonderfully depicted novel. Marie Rutkoski excels in her world building and wonderfully follows a young woman who has only two choices for her future; to either marry or enlist in her empire’s military. With neither choice appealing to her, but with time running out to choose, Krestal’s life dramatically alters when she witnesses a slave auction one day and takes a chance by purchasing a young slave by the name of Arin who calls to her as a kindred spirit.
As the main character, I really liked Krestal. Even though she is a noblewoman and has been raised as a lady, she’s quite capable and biting. Krestal is level headed and quick thinking. She is a strategist and despite her instance that she does not wish to join the military, has quite a mind for it. She knows how to take care of herself and makes some really self-sacrificing choices in The Winners Curse.
There’s something very conflicting about this story. Although Krestal’s voice is the dominant one throughout the story, The Winners Curse is also detailed through Arin’s eyes at times, creating a delicious layer of complexity within the story. You’ve got two opposing sides, both equally right and equally wrong in their choices; they’re both fighting for power and supremacy over the other, even if their motives and drives differ at times. For me, The Winners Curse made me question a lot of humanity and I liked the way Marie Rutkosi explored the pitfalls of war and the effect if can have on the simple people who have to live with its consequences.
As the male lead, and someone who’s POV we experience during The Winners Curse, Arin was a very complicated character himself. He was enslaved when the Velarian invaded his home and has spent the last decade of his life being treated like an animal and forced to work for those who conquered his country; having been repeatedly bought and sold over the years. The contradiction in Arin is that although he is used to manual labor and hard work at the hands of his masters, he is also very cultured and intelligent; having been someone of class prior to the war that turned his world upside down. He hides a lot of secrets, many of which see him keeping certain truths from Krestal; something that impacts on their growing relationship, especially seeing how disastrous Arin’s intentions and plans will bring destruction to Krestal's world.
Personally, I just found this book to be a real conundrum because neither side could win without bringing disaster down upon the other. Who is deserving really isn’t who you expect at the times and the change in power and position is something that shifts multiple of times within the novel.
With Krestal and Arin’s relationship a focal point in the story, but also woven together heavily with politics and war, I really liked what Rutkoski did with their relationship. Both from different classes, they're very different but connect so beautifully. Krestal can be herself with Arin and she appreciates him for his swift mind and manner rather than his use. They really are star crossed lovers with betrayal something neither can avoid when love mingles with war and I’m so very excited to see how Rutkoski develops their romance in the next book considering the shocking ending.
Author Marie Rutkoski launches herself into the fantasy genre with her explosive novel The Winners Curse, proving that she is definitely a voice to watch in the future! ...more
Tortured Souls is the first novel in Kimber Leigh Wheaton’s The Orion Circle series and kicks off this ghostly new series where spirits mingle with demons and ghostly hauntings.
Following Kacie Ramsey, a seventeen year old girl who possesses the bewitching ability to see ghosts, Tortured Souls sees Kacie begin to accept and gain control over her abilities when she is saved by her crush Logan from a spirit at a party. When Logan helps initiate her into the Orion Circle, a group for people with supernatural abilities and ghost hunters alike, Kacie slowly begins to take control of her life. And yet when she embarks on her first investigation for the Orion Circle, Kacie discovers a demon hell-bent on using her physic abilities for his own gain and only if she manages to beat him will Kacie ever be safe.
Having previously loved and absolutely adored Kimber Leigh Wheaton’s debut novel Shadow Fire, I had such high hopes for Tortured Souls. And while it didn’t quite live up to my expectations, I still found it to be an entertaining read. Personally, I found that Tortured Souls read younger than Wheaton’s previous book. While the story was enjoyable, I didn’t quite find the depth I was looking for and though I adored the detailed manner of the story, I felt the characters seemed a bit dense at times and the story moved in a predictable manner.
For the most part I liked Kacie as the main character, but I felt that she acted a little too emotional and immature at times. I wanted to follow a strong character, and while Wheaton allowed for a lot of growth within Kacie, her actions and reactions seemed a bit much at times.
Wheaton introduces us to quite a few characters within Tortured Souls, including numerous Orion Circle members. I liked that they were all different and had their own qualities to bring to the Circle. Rebecca, Raven, Carl and Daniel were awesome, as well as Logan who is Kacie’s love interest.
Although I wasn’t blown away, Tortured Souls is worth a read. If you enjoy ghostly tales with tones of supernatural themes then you’re bound to enjoy this! ...more
Stolen Moon is the follow up companion novel to Kimber Leigh Wheaton’s amazing debut Shadow Fire and once again draws readers into a magical land of danger and romance as we meet another kick-ass heroine on a new perilous journey!
I really loved Kimber Leigh Wheaton’s debut Shadow Fire and was thrilled to discover Stolen Moon to be a great follow up. I didn’t love it quite as much as the first book, but it got really close. Well written and exciting, Stolen Moon featured a capable heroine, friendship and tones of romance—just how I like my novels!
Told through the eyes of Katarina, a Royal Knight who has just fled from the clutches of an evil sorcerer named Zebulon, Stolen Moon sees Katarina travel vast lands and dangerous domains with a bunch of mercenaries in order to return a medallion she had taken from the sorcerer in her escape to its rightful resting place. Meeting new people and making new friends, Katarina discovers unexpected secrets about herself and what she is capable of; falling in love along the way as she heads towards a final battle with Zebulon that will finally set her people free.
As the main character, Katarina was great to follow. She was intelligent and capable; able to hold her own in a world dominated by male fighters. Admittedly she was a bit too emotional at times, but considering the losses she experienced and how much she was going through, I’ll forgive her the frequent crying.
Katarina finds romance and love in the arms of Ethan, the cheeky mercenary who steals her heart in Stolen Moon. Fans of the first book may remember Ethan from Shadow Fire when then heroine Ashlyn and her comrades rescued him from the clutches of different evil sorcerer. In Stolen Moon, which is set four years after Shadow Fire, Ethan is a lot older and very much the alluring and sensual stranger who captures Katarina’s attention before her heart.
Katarina and Ethan are very sweet together and Wheaton does not disappoint with a lot of romance in Stolen Moon. Their relationship moves quickly but readers will still believe their attraction and romance as the chemistry between them is prominent and leads a lot to connecting them quickly.
I very much enjoyed the other characters in the story too. It was lovely to see Ashlyn, Zane and Tamaris reappear, if only for a brief moment and I enjoyed seeing Loki, Ethan and Caleb feature in the story. Wheaton introduces readers to a great team of mercenaries including, Vale, Bronwyn and Forde who had flavor to the story and features Caleb too, someone who was rescued with Ethan in the last book, but whom we barely got to meet. I found Caleb to be a real sweetie as a powerful mage who is a part of Ethan’s group, and considering his history and abilities, I would personally love to see a story feature him in the future too if possible.
Filled with romance, danger and adventure, Stolen Moon was a fun fantasy tale that will easy entertain and satisfy! I can only hope Kimber Leigh Wheaton decides to write a third novel!
Followers by Anna Davis is marketed as a scary and mysterious murder mystery with Shakespearean elements woven into its pages but does unfortunately not translate well onto paper in this quick read that holds promise but ultimately falls flat.
I’m not going to beat around the bush here; Followers is, for the most part, a disappointment. While it benefits from being a short, quick read, the premise promised so much, including a really exciting murder tale. However the actual novel holds very little of this considering it’s almost halfway through the novel before anything nefarious even starts happening.
Told through the eyes of Briana Beland, a student who loses out on a coveted role in her school’s production of Hamlet and instead finds herself thrust into the shadows of the stars, Followers sees Briana faced with some mystery when students start dying and the school population suspect Briana of being the culprit when the mysterious "Hamlet’s Ghost" starts tweeting about the murders.
I’m being quite generous in my description of this novel, as while all these events do happen, they seem to get lost amongst the petty drama and social issues in this novel. Davis focuses too much on the lead up to the murders and the petty teen drama that encompasses McHale than the actual murders and mystery that surround them. More than half a novel on this stuff gets tiresome as we wait for something entertaining to happen and I found it difficult to concentrate when I wasn’t very interested in her characters’ lives.
Unfortunately for me, I found main character Bree to be quite pathetic and vain throughout the novel. Bree wants to be a star and while she has potential and some talent, seems to get too caught up in the nonsense at McHale with "friends" who turn on her without a second thought. Personally, the book could have benefited from a heroine that wasn’t quite so worried about what other people thought—someone more likable. Granted Bree does eventually grow a little bit, but not before you as the reader find her tiresome. Basically I found her too self-centered and a bit dense.
The ending was too predictable for my liking and seemed farfetched. Everything concluded too quickly and I found too many aspects seemed unbelievable. There was no police involvement in the deaths on campus and yet Bree stumbles over the identity of the killer as easy as pie. Someone had evidently gone to great lengths to commit murder, not just now, but decades in the past and a teenager stumbles upon their identity without any difficulty—yeah; not buying it!
Overall Followers was a great concept that could have been written a lot better. Anna Davis needed to have given the story a bit more depth and believability to have given it any chance…..