I am a fan of both mythology and history, so I was intrigued to see how Forged by Fate by Ama...moreReviewed by Rebecca for www.bookchickcity.com - 4.5 Stars
I am a fan of both mythology and history, so I was intrigued to see how Forged by Fate by Amalia Dillin would reinterpret the legends we all know and love into a new story.
The book begins in the present, with Abby revealing her true identity to fiancé Garrit DeLeon mere days before their wedding. She is in fact Eve, the Eve from the story of Creation and a very distant ancestor of the DeLeon family. Eve is destined to be reincarnated for eternity, taking on new human lives each time but still having a memory of each of her past lives. She has the power to mind-read, but tries not to use it invasively as she is a huge believer in the power of free will.
Needless to say, her husband-to-be takes some time to understand her true identity, as the stories have been passed down through his family for generations, and an ancient portrait of her has been sitting in the hallway for his whole life. Further turmoil arrives when there is an unexpected guest to the wedding party, a stranger with slate grey eyes under the name of Ethan. Recognising him for what he truly is, Eve informs her husband that this stranger is Adam, who is also destined to be eternally reincarnated amongst the humans. However, unlike Eve, Adam is not supposed to remember his past lives, but it is clear that this time around he knows all about Eve and has come in pursuit of her.
As anyone remotely aware of the Bible will know, Eve was created for Adam as his equal, but when the book takes us back to the time of Creation we learn that God, or Elohim, has lost his power and Eve was his last triumph. She is Adam’s equal but was created to be his sister, not his wife. Despite this, the tyrannical Adam is determined to possess her, body and soul and thinks he can win her with his powers of mind control and subtle suggestions. However, if the pair ever produces a child together, it will be a godchild with the power to unmake the world and everything in it, something the angels will not allow.
The chapters set in the world of Creation slowly reveal how Eve came to eat the fruit and fall from the garden, as well as her rebellion against Adam which is crucial to understanding the present. These are not the only chapters set in the past, as another plot running alongside that of Adam of Eve is the story of Norse god, Thor. He is sent by Odin to build up relations with the other god communities which watch over the world, including both Greek and Roman gods, as well as ensuring that the humans in the north believe in the gods of Asgard. When Thor travels Earth in the guise of a human, he comes across Eve and is immediately enamoured. Taking the name of Thorgrim, he lives out a human life with Eve but is naïve to the problems which await him back in the Asgardian court.
I really enjoyed the alternating chapter structure between Thor’s story, Eve’s present and the time of Creation. As each plot progresses we learn more, not just about the characters but about the worlds in which they live and the underlying threat of Adam. I loved the combination of various mythological stories, especially the idea that the Norse gods share political alliances with the Greeks and Egyptians and that they must all work together to protect the humans from Adam. The chapters spent in Creation also give an eye-opening rendition of the Fall, especially as there are other characters present besides Adam and Eve, and it is Adam’s domination of them which establishes him as the enemy.
Although the time spent in Creation is important to understand Eve’s past enmity with Adam, I think it was the chapters set in the present which really established her as a character. It is clear that she is having second thoughts about Adam in his new incarnation, as she is starting to think that he might be redeemed and frequently looks back to her time spent as Helen of Troy with Adam as Paris. She believes he showed kindness once and is unsure what to anticipate now, especially as he remembers everything and is sketchy in his ambitions. Aside from her fears over Adam, I liked how protective Eve is of her family and of the world in general. She is the eternal mother and her love is demonstrated in everything she does, with her past self in Creation demonstrating her strength and her determination to do what’s right.
Similarly, Thor shared Eve’s determination to do what’s right for the human world, even though his motives are often selfish. He shouldn’t have stayed with Eve for so long on Earth, as he is now attached to her and tries to watch over her in all her various incarnations. Regardless of his love for Eve, he has domestic problems in Asgard with his wife, Sif, as well as with his father Odin. Sif is disobedient but Thor is unsure about seeking a divorce, whilst Odin is determined to expand his kingdom and demands Thor’s help to do so. Neither Odin nor Sif approve of Eve, and see her eternal divinity as a threat rather than a blessing to their people, believing that she would actively seek Adam to birth the prophesied godchild.
I liked how both Thor and Eve were often at war with themselves about which course of action was often the right one to take, as both are aware of the huge weight which rests on their shoulders alone. I am also highly intrigued by the plotline which the author kept dropping us little hints about; with it becoming apparent that Thor is likely to have had contact with Eve in her last incarnation. She is consistently worried about being thought mad, and had spent her previous life in a mental institution with little memory of everything that happened to her. I think Thor was involved in this somehow, and was never a hundred percent sure that he wasn’t lurking in her present too. I can’t wait for this plotline to be revealed, which I hope will happen in book two.
Having loved both the characters and the fantasy world, it was only the plot which slightly let this book down for me. Even though I loved how the world was built up gradually throughout the three alternating chapters and each had its own continuing story, I couldn’t see the endgame. I was struggling to see how Thor’s story was going to tie in with Eve’s, and this wasn’t entirely revealed in this book. As such, it felt like this book was merely setting up the events of books two and three and I would have liked a little more drama at the end. However, regardless of this the book was a fantastic read and I was hooked from page one. I would definitely recommend this to fans of fantasy or mythology, as I often found myself amazed at all the figures which were revealed to be incarnations of Eve.
For the first in the series, Forged by Fate definitely sets up an amazing fantasy world which succeeds in cleverly incorporating history, mythology and biblical figures. The seamless integration of Norse and Greek gods (as well as Roman, Egyptian, etc) was inspired and I can’t wait to see where this series heads next. The only thing I’d like to see next time is a bigger sense of direction, as this book feels like it sets the scene for something so much more cataclysmic.(less)
When I first started to read THE SILVER BOUGH I thought it was a quaint tale of t...moreReviewed by Melanie for www.BookChickCity.com - 3.5 Star on the blog.
When I first started to read THE SILVER BOUGH I thought it was a quaint tale of three American women, all suffering from the bereavement of either a loved one or their way of life. They have all moved to the small town of Appleton in Scotland looking for a change or a means of escape from the sadness in their lives. Appleton was once a successful town, famous for its apples, especially the Appleton Fairest. Like the characters I realised that not everything was what it seemed in the sleepy town.
Appleton was steeped in folklore and tradition, especially with the Apple Fair and crowning of the Apple Queen who shares an apple with a stranger and immediately falls in love with them. The town has been in decline, with the orchards gone and its famous apple variety disappearing with it. Glimpses of the town’s past are revealed through the journal of a preeminent Appleton resident, newspaper articles, letters and relics found in the library. There are hints of mystery early on, however, it is over halfway through the book before the plot starts to give way to the weirdly unusual.
Tuttle sets the plot mainly around these three women who are very different both in age and temperament. Ashley is nineteen and recovering from the sudden death of her best friend. She is visiting Appleton to learn more about her grandmother who was born and raised there. Kathleen is the Appleton librarian, which is a focal point in the story and she has moved from London following the breakdown of her marriage. Finally, there is Nell who moved to Appleton several years previously, following the death of her husband, and she has refurbished the local estate and trying to revive the orchard there.
For over half the book you would almost think you were reading chicklit, especially when the love interests are introduced. Imagine my surprise that on page 302 Tuttle introduces the weirdest plot twist I think I have ever read. I had to read this chapter twice to make sure I was still reading the same book.
A landslide cuts the small town off from the rest of the world and this kick starts a series of unusual events. The three Americans start to see weird and wonderful things including the mysteriously handsome Ronan Wall, who, despite looking in his late twenties, is over seventy. Ronan’s age is not the only mystery about him as he is insistent he shares the golden apple that has started to grow in Nell’s orchard with her, to save both the town and themselves. Everything goes mystical, magical and just a little bit weird.
While love and grief are predominant themes it is an unusual love story with almost a fairytale like quality to it. It is difficult to say too much without giving away the best parts of the plot as it’s the surprise of what is going to happen next that makes this novel such a good read.
I did enjoy this book especially the way in which Tuttle integrates folklore and legend into the plot through the journals and letters. The characters aren’t immediately likeable, especially Ashley who I found quite spoiled and truculent, but there was never too much time spent on any one character for them to really start to be annoying. THE SILVER BOUGH was very easy read and Tuttle really turns up the heat on the plot late into the book. I don’t think I have ever been so surprised by a book before (the infamous scene on page 302). Tuttle does wrap the ending up nicely in the epilogue but not for all the characters, I wasn’t entirely sure whether that was intentional or not. If you are looking for something different, with a little bit of history and a little bit of magic then this is the book for you. (less)
THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern is a beautiful and complex book, told from m...moreReviewed by Rebecca for www.BookChickCity.com - 4.5 Star on the blog.
THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern is a beautiful and complex book, told from multiple perspectives across different time eras. Each character’s story is carefully intertwined, slowly building up the mystery and beauty of the circus.
So, what is so special about this circus? Well, for one it only opens at sunset and closes at sunrise. There is never an announcement of when the circus is coming to town, it just appears and people flock to it, with some devoted followers, the rêveurs (dreamers), choosing to follow wherever it may lead. This enchanting circus is full of mysteries, with too many tents and performers to be seen in the course of a single evening. There is something for everyone, from illusionists to contortionists to fortune-tellers, and what goes on behind closed doors is just as mysterious…
Set across the late 1800s and early 1900s, the book begins with the events leading up to the formation of the circus, and a mysterious challenge set up by a grey-suited man and Prospero the Enchanter. The reason and rules for this challenge are never fully explained in the novel, all we know as a reader is that there is a game to be won or lost by their chosen representatives.
Prospero’s representative in the game is his daughter, Celia Bowen, who has inherited his stage talents for illusion. When we first meet her as a child she is capable of shattering an object and putting it back together perfectly with what could be considered magic. Her father then puts her through rigorous training in the hopes of making her win the game, with his training methods becoming more and more brutal.
Her opponent is Marco Alisdair, trained by the man in grey, an orphan picked out of an institute. His training is more like an education, with him being allowed to read countless books but never shown any real affection. He is often kept locked up alone, never granted any real freedom until he is told to work for the creator of the circus.
Celia is hired as the circus illusionist, whilst Marco works behind-the-scenes in planning and protecting the circus and all its performers. Their paths are intertwined, with the circus forming the venue for their game but with neither of the contestants aware of what to expect. This goes on for years, with the circus gathering a following as it moves around the world. Both players are waiting for the game to begin and adding more and more tents to the circus, with these tents becoming gifts to each other.
As the years stretch on both start to notice cracks forming in the circus, as the circus is almost frozen in time with none of the performers aging and no children being born. Is it possible for both Celia and Marco to find a way out of the game whilst keeping the circus alive?
The plot of this book is so intricately carved that it is difficult to condense it for this review, but it really drew me in as soon as I started reading. However, Erin Morgenstern’s narration is very detached, as if the reader is viewing all of the events as an outsider. I personally didn’t mind this aspect of the book, but if you’re the kind of person that likes to get inside a character’s head then this book might not be for you. At times the narration will also switch into second person, as if talking to the reader directly as they progress around the circus.
“You are among them, of course. Your curiosity got the better of you, as curiosity is wont to do. You stand in the fading light, the scarf around your neck pulled up against the chilly evening breeze, waiting to see for yourself exactly what kind of circus only opens once the sun sets.”
I loved the way this story was told, but I’ll admit that the frequent skipping through times did get a bit confusing at the beginning. The description is beautifully detailed, and the circus really takes on a life of it’s own as you read, with you feeling like you’re really walking around it and seeing all of the acts for yourself. Despite the detached feel of the narration it is still possible to form an attachment to the characters, and the unsolved mysteries add to the novel rather than leaving a feeling of dissatisfaction. The end resolution is integrated well into the plot, and overall I really enjoyed this book!
This book grabbed my attention in a very clever way and then I simply couldn’t put it down. THE NIGHT CIRCUS is steeped in mystery, some of which is never revealed. This may frustrate some readers, but I think it adds to the beauty of the circus, as I think the truth would ruin the effect. The characters have such depth to them, and I fell in love with the circus as much as the rêveurs.(less)
This appears to be the first vampire novel by renowned author Sarah Marques, who perhaps is better known...moreReviewed by Melanie for www.BookChickCity.com
This appears to be the first vampire novel by renowned author Sarah Marques, who perhaps is better known as Sarah Hoyt, Elise Hyatt or Sarah D’Almeida. It is under the latter pseudonym where she has written a whole series of ‘Musketeer’ mysteries. SWORD AND BLOOD is her interpretation of the famous Alexandre Dumas story The Three Musketeers. The plot of SWORD AND BLOOD largely follows the original Dumas story with the exception that humanity is being overrun by vampires, the church has fallen and Athos has been turned into a vampire. The Musketeers are the only thing that stands between the King of France and humanity succumbing to the vampire horde led by the Cardinal Richelieu and the evil ‘Milady’.
The story begins with the capture of Athos by his wife, Charlotte, in fact, the same wife he had killed ten years before. Athos battles throughout the novel from fully becoming a vampire by denying his thirst for blood and his desire for Charlotte. Athos spends the novel not only physically battling the vampires but, more importantly for the character, battling the inner turmoil of being the very same thing that has always been his and his comrades’ mission to kill.
The young D’Artagan also comes into play as he flees his native Gascony after his parents have been turned so that he can join the Musketeers and exterminate all vampires as revenge. As in the original novel, D’Artagan joins the trio during a particularly difficult fight with the formidable vampire opponent Jussac and it is following this duel that the Athos, Aramis and Porthos come to recognize the tenacity of the young Frenchman.
It is through the scenes involving D’Artagan and Athos where Marques clearly demonstrates her evocative writing style. There is one scene in particular that stands out where D’Artagan is forced to jump into the Seine to escape a group of vampires that have been pursuing him. Marques’s description is so expressive that you can imagine the smell of the murky 17th century river, full of the spoils of the city, as it runs into his nose and mouth, the way D’Artagan’s clothing turns cold and tacky after he escapes the river, and finally his panic at trying to find his way back to his friends. Marques’s form of narrative paints a picture of life at the time but doesn’t over egg the scene with too much description so that nothing is left to the reader’s imagination.
While the characterization is similar the plot doesn’t exactly follow the original in that the Musketeers don’t completely save the day. While Dumas was writing a one off novel, Marques sets up the plot for following novels in the final chapters by revealing Charlotte’s endgame and plan for Athos, as well as the planned rescue of the Queen of France. There is also the fate of the main protagonist, Charlotte, who escapes punishment at the end, which Marques will undoubtedly resolve in future novels.
Another change made to the story is that our vampire fighting heroes chant “to me musketeers, to me of the king”, rather than the infamous “all for one and one for all” which didn’t have the same resonance as the original line. The story ends with Athos quoting the musketeer war cry while realizing his destiny is to the King whether he is a vampire or not.
Is it possible to like a book but not the plot? I really enjoyed Marques’s writing style but I found the story very hard to get into, mainly down to the decision for the main protagonists to be vampires. I don’t believe that the classic tale lent itself to having a paranormal twist. This would be the same as writing Mr Darcy as a shape shifter or having Wuthering Heights set in Unseelie Court. It just doesn’t work for me and while I didn’t like this aspect of the novel I couldn’t fault the author’s writing style. (less)
'The Spirit Rebellion' takes off where just after 'The Spirit Thief' with Miranda return...moreReviewed by Laura for www.BookChickCity.com - 7/10 on the blog
'The Spirit Rebellion' takes off where just after 'The Spirit Thief' with Miranda returning to the Spirit Court to report her failure to apprehend Eli, and her defeat of the evil enslaver. But political games are afoot at the Spirit Court and before she knows it, Miranda is accused of working with the thief for her own ends and in serious trouble. It looks as though she really needs to capture Eli this time in order to clear her name.
Eli, Josef and Nico are trying to get Nico a new coat before her demon seed takes over. But on their return when the wealthy Duke of Goal has set up posters advertising his impenetrable citadel, Eli cannot resist the bait. Ok, so it's a trap, but he's Eli Monpress, he won't get caught... Right?
This book continues with light hearted humour of the first. Yes Eli's arrogant, cheeky and reckless, but he's also charismatic and charming and you can't help but love all of the antics he gets away with. We find out a little more about his past, with a prologue giving us insight into his parentage and we also get to meet his foster father, an equally rampant thief. But I still feel like we haven't scratched the surface of what makes Eli tick. We also learn some more about Josef and Nico, I find the bond between them in particular quite fascinating.
The beginning of the book darts about at first until all of the threads finally come together. But this does make it a little slow occasionally. Once again we get a serious baddie, and as soon as that baddie is realised you kind of know how the story if going to go, but at the same time you're grinning as it does so. It's the characters that make the book, Miranda is as fab as Eli, even if they are total opposites. She reminds of the head girl at school with her affinity with rules and drive to always do the right thing. I do very much enjoy the magical world that Aaron has created with all living things having a soul and personality, it adds some interesting twists to the plot.
The narration of the audiobook is picked up my Luke Daniels once more, an excellent narrator. I also like it when the same person continues with the series as you become use to their style and portrayal of the characters.
A light, fun adventure with fab characters and a great fantasy world. If you're a fantasy fan, it's not a series you'll regret picking up.
A sweeping story that engrossed me on many levels...moreGuest Reviewed by Julia from 'All Things Urban Fantasy' for www.BookChickCity.com - 7/10 on the blog.
A sweeping story that engrossed me on many levels, "The Alchemist of Souls" kept me guessing with nuanced characters, unexpected world building, and a fascinating blend of real and imagined history. The switching view points expertly kept several plots in the air at once, and I would be hard pressed to choose which of the several charming lead characters emerged as my favorite overall.
Mal and Coby are both admirable and vulnerable by turns, but the author never betrays their soft spots for cheap emotional thrills. I had little hope for Coby's girlish crush, and no one could be more thrilled (and surprised) than I at the triumphant close to this book, and the enticing start to what I would love to see as a series. Mal himself is so evenhanded and capable he's almost anachronistic, observing and respecting all manner of minority races and alternative sexual orientations at a time when "tolerance" was barely in the dictionary. The author does a great job weaving this strength back to the world building without making Mal any less compelling as a character. Though there are plausible magics that may have influenced his development as a man, he is no less charming of a man for them.
A mix of mystery, historical fiction, and pure fantasy, "The Alchemist of Souls" will definitely appeal across many genres. For Urban Fantasy fans, those who appreciate Harry Dresden's quixotic charm will certainly find a lot to love in Mal's band of brothers.(less)
WIDE OPEN by Deborah Coates is an interesting book that blends crime fiction with fantasy, creating a uni...moreReviewed by Rebecca for www.BookChickCity.com
WIDE OPEN by Deborah Coates is an interesting book that blends crime fiction with fantasy, creating a unique story with an ending that can’t be predicted.
It begins with Hallie Michaels returning from Afghanistan on compassionate leave from the army for a mere 10 days. Her return is not under happy circumstances, as she has been called home to bury her sister, Dell. Everyone tells her that her sister committed suicide, but Hallie is convinced otherwise as she knew her sister wouldn’t have done something like that, especially without leaving a note.
Adding to her problems is the fact that Hallie can see ghosts. She has been able to see them ever since she died in Afghanistan and had to be resuscitated, with the ghost of a dead soldier friend accompanying her home from the warzone. When she arrives home she starts seeing Dell’s ghost everywhere, with it accompanying her as she tries to discover the truth behind Dell’s death.
This was not happening. She was not seeing a dead soldier in the middle of the Rapid City airport. She wasn’t. She squared her shoulders and walked past him like he wasn’t there.
Hallie also has to adjust to seeing all the old familiar faces of her past, including Pete, a violent guy who Dell used to have a crush on, and who has now fallen in with the wrong crowd. Her trip also involves seeing new faces, with her colliding frequently with Boyd, a police sergeant who seems determined to stop her investigation and protect her at every opportunity.
Her investigation leads her to discover other bodies of women who have disappeared, creating more questions of how they are linked to Dell, and who is behind the murders. There is also the mysterious Mr. Weber to contend with, who Dell worked with and whose business might not be completely above board. And how do the freak storms that are plaguing the town fit into the mystery?
Hallie was a very well crafted main character, as the author manages to show us all of her worries and many sides to her character in the way she interacts with others. It is clear that war has changed her and hardened her heart, but she is vulnerable when it comes to her sister and exceptionally determined to find the truth, no matter what danger she places herself in.
I really liked this book, as the mystery kept me reading and I really wanted to find out how the story would end. I was slightly disappointed with the ending however, as the fantasy elements weren’t fully explained and I wasn’t entirely sure how everything was tied together. I did like seeing the relationship between Boyd and Hallie build up, as it becomes clear that she doesn’t have to carry out the investigation alone, and can rely on others.
A lot of the events in the book were unexpected, which I liked about it, and I did like the combination of crime and fantasy. I also loved the 10 day time limit Hallie had for solving the case, as it really created a sense of urgency to the action. I felt the fantasy could have been better written, and the culprit was fairly obvious throughout, but overall it was a great read and I really enjoyed it.
WIDE OPEN was a refreshing read compared to typical crime fiction, with fantasy elements being mixed into the mystery. I was a little disappointed that the fantasy wasn’t further explored, but overall this book pulled me in and was a great read.(less)
I love Cecelia Ahern. Her books are filled with warmth, wit and intelligence. THE TIME OF MY LIFE is a beautifully written, contemporary story with a...moreI love Cecelia Ahern. Her books are filled with warmth, wit and intelligence. THE TIME OF MY LIFE is a beautifully written, contemporary story with a pinch of fantasy and a sprinkling of magic. It’s poignant and thought-provoking as well as funny and light-hearted. As with all of Ahern’s novels, THE TIME OF MY LIFE had me captivated and I didn’t want to put it down. This was definitely a fabulous holiday read.
It’s an original and heartwarming tale of life and how we take it for granted. How we plod through our existence without really taking note of who and what is around us, getting increasingly introspective and isolated from society, and fundamentally, family.
Meet Lucy, our heroine. She is a very likeable character with a great, snarky personality. An ordinary girl with an ordinary job, a small unassuming apartment, a knackered old car and a stray cat that she’s somehow adopted. Her life is filled with going to work, seeing her friends, and family dinners. A seemingly normal life, just like most of us. But although from the outside Lucy’s life seems full to the brim with friends and family, what’s really going on within is a sad tale of misunderstandings, family drama, and a broken heart.
The format of the book starts with Lucy telling us about her life. But as she’s telling it, it sounds utterly perfect, until she utters the last sentence: “ok, I lied.” This happens quite a few times and so we begin to get the feeling that Lucy lies a lot. To her family, to her friends, to pretty much any one she meets. It’s a habit, and she can’t seem to break it. But Lucy doesn’t really notice she’s doing it any more she’s been doing it for so long, basically since the moment her boyfriend left her three years ago. The story of Lucy’s life is given to us slowly and we begin to understand what she’s all about.
There is also a little romance, that is hindered by Lucy’s ex and we see her struggle with old and new feelings. Most of us girls have been there and I could relate to Lucy and what she was going through. In fact most of Lucy’s life I could identify with, and that’s what made THE TIME OF MY LIFE so readable and the characters so likeable.
As for Life, he was a little different to what I was expecting. For a start it was a “he” and thought that Life would be the same gender as the character, but this just gave the story a nice twist. I did think when beginning this book that I would find it difficult to believe that Life was a person and that the world knows that sometimes people get a letter from their life requesting an appointment. But after a while I just accepted it and sank myself into Ahern’s gorgeous prose. Life is actually a great character. The banter between Life and Lucy is at times hysterical and at other times moving.
Lucy’s friends are a great bunch, and you can see that they care for her very much, but as with everything else in her life, Lucy keeps them at arms length. Some of the scenes with Lucy and her friends reminded me of the film Bridget Jones, the characters have the same quirky nature that makes you love each and every one of them.
I’m not going to go into detail about the plot or storyline as there’s so many twists and turns along the way I don’t want to spoil it, but suffice to say, the book was a delight to read.
Another great read from one of my favourite authors. Warm, funny, witty and oh so clever, THE TIME OF MY LIFE is a treat and I would urge you all to read it.(less)
Kit Berry; you need to write something sedate, where the characters are never in troubl...moreGuest reviewed by Andrea for Book Chick City. 9/10 on the blog.
Kit Berry; you need to write something sedate, where the characters are never in trouble, nothing bad ever happens and love triumphs over all, because my nerves can’t cope with so much worry and heartache!
I went from wanting to read this constantly to wanting to do a Joey from Friends and put it in the freezer where it wouldn’t be able to hurt me anymore. “Shadows at Stonewylde” jumps thirteen years ahead from where 'Solstice of Stonewylde' left off. Yul is now a man in his prime, he’s successful in Stonewylde and out of it, he’s married to Sylvie and as in love with her as ever, they have two young daughters, and on the surface it seems like they’re doing a brilliant job of running Stonewylde and treating everyone as equals.
But beneath the surface there are cracks. Sylvie became seriously ill after her second child and even though she’s better now Yul has taken over all the running of Stonewylde and she again feels like an outsider with no place there anymore.
Yul’s baby sister Leveret is now fourteen and if anyone remembers from the previous novels, two of her brothers would torment her and make her cry. This has not changed, but now the torment has gotten worse and not even her mother or Yul believe her when she tells them.
My heart bleeds for Leveret and I don’t think I’ll ever forgive Yul for not believing her and looking out for her when she needed him. It’s as if history is repeating itself and he is treating Leveret with the distain and anger he himself was treated with at that age.
The only light in her life is Magpie, a boy she grew up with who has the mind of a child. He’s abused by his mother and her family, the two old crones who caused Sylvie so much pain in the past, and even though the rest of the community knows he’s not looked after properly and Leveret has told them how they beat him, they still turn a blind eye to the abuse.
This made me so mad; the reason Yul and Sylvie fought and worked so hard was for nothing. I was and still am angry on Leveret and Magpie’s behalf.
The cracks of Stonewylde become bigger as the rift between Sylvie and Yul grows, and as the cracks got bigger so did the ones in my heart.
“Shadows at Stonewylde” is a great continuation of the Stonewylde series, though I was a little disappointed because I wanted to see first hand how Sylvie and Yul coped with the pressures of Stonewylde and of becoming its leader at such young ages. I wanted to read about all the boring stuff, like how Yul learned to read and write, how the villagers took to the new changes, if Sylvie could ever have a proper relationship with her father.
This doesn’t mean I was disappointed in "Shadows at Stonewylde", on the contrary it sucked me in and made my heart hurt even more so than all the other novels put together. Probably because I am now so invested in the characters that when they do something wrong I feel it, when they hurt I hurt too.
This is obviously the first in a new series of Stonewylde novels, the magic, intrigue and darkness that made the other novels so unique and interesting is still there, but even more sinister. There is something brewing and only Leveret and Sylvie seem to think it has anything to do with the old Magus.
I would have scored this book a 10/10 but evil mastermind Kit Berry has yet again left this novel on a cliff hanger, so I docked a mark--why I found this so surprising I don’t know, but I am now going to go around for weeks worrying about Leveret and wishing Sylvie and Yul would talk to each other and sort out their problems. Then there’s the discontent in the village…
I hope you’re typing away at your computer Kit Berry, because I need to know what happens next!
I had a hard time reading “Shadows at Stonewylde”, not because I didn’t like it, but because I liked it too much. It hurts to know that the past trials and tribulations from the previous three books are slowly unravelling here and the characters I’ve come to love so much are unhappy. I was expecting a more upbeat novel where the characters are working together to make Stonewylde a better place and instead I got a novel where everything is disintegrating around them. Pain has never felt so good. I like to be surprised. It’s rare that a series of books affects me so much, but when it does it makes me remember why I love to read.(less)
I admit, I was drawn to this title from the moment I set eyes on the gorgeous cover. I know you shouldn’t judge...moreReviewed by Andrea for Book Chick City.
I admit, I was drawn to this title from the moment I set eyes on the gorgeous cover. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I just can’t help myself! I’m a sucker for a pretty picture. But what’s really fantastic is that “Magus of Stonewylde” is as good as the cover predicts. If you’re getting a bit sick of vampire romance novels and want something a little different, but still with that hint of love and the otherworldly then this novel is for you.
It’s the perfect blend of the English history of paganism, mythology and fantasy. I could tell that Kit Berry knew her stuff from the get go; the story is based around the rituals and rites of the pagan integrated with magic so seamlessly you could really believe that it could happen, or had in the past.
Stonewylde is a village cut off from the rest of the world. The villagers live and work as their ancestors have done since. The hallfolk are the only people in the village that go into the modern world and use mod-cons; they’re the ones who bring the money into the village to let them live the simple, but healthy life where no one goes hungry and everyone is treated fairly.
Sylvie is a 14 year old girl from the outside world who is seriously ill, she’s invited to Stonewylde by their leader; Magus to heal and become part of their community.
Magus is charismatic, charming and full of magic that helps heal Sylvie. Her and her mother both are quite taken with him. But there’s a dark side underneath the charm, one that the simple village boy, Yul understands only too well.
Yul is the star of the show, so to speak. He is everything a protagonist should be. I doubt any reader couldn’t fall under his spell. He’s 15 years old and not afraid of hard work. He’s an outsider, even though he’s been brought up there and has never set foot out in the Other World, as they call it. He has a hard life with a family that don’t care for him, and Magus seems to dislike him too.
There seems to be no rhyme or reason for everyone’s dislike of him, and this made me feel really protective of him and hate anyone who was mean to him!
He goes through many trials and traumas, and it’s hard not to pity him at the same time as rooting for him. No one believes he’s not a troublemaker apart from Sylvie, but they’ve been forbidden to speak to each other.
Their stories are told with passion and conviction, seamlessly interwoven with magic and some of the rich history of England.
This is the first book in the series and really sets the scene of magic, paganism and the contrast to the modern world in England. Fantasy novels with even a small basis on real fact make a really believable rich world, and “Magus of Stonewylde” had me entranced from the first page.
There was nothing that I didn’t like about this novel--apart from the people and places I was meant to hate! I think my only gripe was, I would have liked a more conclusive ending, although it does lead in for the next book perfectly, and as I’ll be reading that one for my next review, I won‘t be left hanging and can‘t complain about it too much!
I really enjoyed this book, Yul and Sylvie are both so easy to empathise with and although I could tell that this was just the beginning of their story it was a great starter for a new fantasy series. “Magus of Stonewylde” is the perfect set up for extraordinary things to come. It’s a great book in its own right, but I’m sure read with the others it will be part of something big.(less)
OK, I admit that I was a little dubious about “Tempest Rising” to begin with. I liked the sound of the st...moreGuest reviewed by Andrea for Book Chick City.
OK, I admit that I was a little dubious about “Tempest Rising” to begin with. I liked the sound of the storyline, but to me, surfing wanna-be-mermaids sounded cheesy and like one of those teen novels that has too much of that terrible teen speak that drives me around the bend.
I am very happy to be proved wrong on all accounts. It was not cheesy, and it was not about surfing wanna-be-mermaids, and most of all, it was blissfully absent of evil teen-speak. This novel isn’t just about a girl who may or may not turn into a mermaid on her seventeenth birthday, it’s about a teenage girl whose mother abandoned her and her two younger brothers. She has issues and family problems that really do reflect every day life now--and some issues that really don’t! But the combination of the mundane day to day; of trying to keep her family together with the worry of maybe turning into a mermaid and having to leave them like their mother did made me unable to put this novel down.
Tempest loves the water almost as much as she hates it. The ocean took her mother away and her father, an unprofessional surfer can hardly bare to surf anymore. On the outside she has a great life. Great waves, great friends, great boyfriend.
I have a soft spot for Mark, her boyfriend; he’s good looking, funny, and he’s protective and caring…what more could she ask for? Enter Kona, the mysterious boy who appeared from out of the water. Tempest and Kona’s connection is definitely other worldly, and the spark between them is electrifying. I went from wanting her to stay with Mark, who is the perfect boyfriend material, to wanting her to end up with Kona, gorgeous, magical, with knowledge of what she was going through.
He knows more than he’s letting on, about what it is that calls to Tempest from the water, why her mother never returned and the different changes her body has started to go through.
I think that Deebs set the scene in our world so well that when Tempest is suddenly submerged into the underwater world it makes perfect sense. Both worlds are rich, well thought out and I could feel how torn Tempest was. Stay with her family on land, or leave for another world?
Of course there are more sinister elements at work here and there’s a point near the end of the book that bought tears to my eyes. If my eyes start to sting, then I know I’m getting swept up in the world and characters in a good way.
Tempest is a great main character, she’s unsure of herself and her growing powers, she’s a typical teenager prone to thinking the world revolves around her, as well as looking after her brothers and being a great friend. She’s full of contrasts, highs and lows and everything in between.
Kona really is a man of mystery. I didn’t guess his story and even though I wanted to hate him on Mark’s behalf I just couldn’t do it. It’s hard not to think that he and Tempest don’t belong together.
“Tempest Rising” definitely isn’t a sweet sappy love story that happens to involve mermaids. It’s murky and angst filled with a bittersweet ending that made my lips smile and my heart ache. It has all the elements that make it a wonderful young adult dark romance novel while being something a bit different.
Maybe mermaids really are the new vampire!
I think the only negative I can think of is; the English cover ain’t half as pretty as the American cover! I want the pretty mermaid girl to grace my shelves; the picture of the girl swimming isn’t half so mystical or interesting. But I suppose if all I can find to moan about is the cover, then there’s not much wrong with it at all!
I’ve never been so happy to be proven wrong about a book. Sun, sea, sand, monsters, mythical sea creatures, magic and a love across two worlds. But most of all it’s about family and love and you really get a sense of that here. I didn’t think I’d like a book about a mermaid, but Deebs has a brilliant sense of style that kept me reading until I was completely hooked on her characters and world. I’m hoping for a sequel. I think there’s definitely an opening for one!(less)
“Moondance of Stonewylde” carries on where 'Magus of Stonewylde' left off. It has an almost an...moreReviewed by Andrea for Book Chick City. 9/10 on the blog
“Moondance of Stonewylde” carries on where 'Magus of Stonewylde' left off. It has an almost anticlimactic feel to the beginning because 'Magus of Stonewylde' ended on such a high note. I was imagining grandeurs where Yul would be crowned prince and Magus would be run off—or other things just as fanciful. But, Anticlimactic is definitely not a bad thing here. What happens next is right. The life of Sylvie and Yul carry on; it’s hard to forget that they are both just children, and although they’re both magical they have no power or say so in what happens in the village. Magus might not have the earth magic of Stonewylde any longer, but he is still their leader and no one can defy him.
Kit Berry’s Stonewylde series is so believable that it’s only right that the Sylvie and Yul would need to grow up and into their power. This is not a story where the main characters are uber-powerful after one chapter, and therefore overthrow their enemy with little trouble or heartache. They have to work, not only against the evil at Stonewylde, but just to live and be safe.
It could be frustrating at times, because they seemed so powerless and would have misunderstandings any typical teenagers would have, but this has only made the world richer. Kit Berry hasn’t rushed anything, she’s allowed Sylvie and Yul to grow and learn things at a steady, but slowly building pace.
This novel was so much better than 'Magus of Stonewylde', but only because it was a continuation of the same story, and I got to learn more about the characters, and the plot gets more intricate and in-depth . I can hardly think of “Moondance of Stonewylde” without merging it with the other novel as they fit seamlessly together. They fit together more like one large novel rather than two separate novels.
In this novel Yul comes into his own power, but it’s still not enough to overthrow Magus, who is the lore where the villagers and hallfolk are concerned. Yul is just a village boy and has no say in the running of the village.
Events turn even more sinister as Magus and his brother Clip find a way to use Sylvie’s power to their own gain. She’s powerless to stop them and they make her weaker and weaker each month. Yul’s powerless to stop it, and old Mother Heggy can only help him so much.
I was on the edge of my seat whilst reading this; practically holding my breath because I didn’t know how Sylvie and Yul could not only survive Magus’ tyranny and misuse of their power, but also put a stop to him once and for all.
The magical aspects are again woven seamlessly into the every day life of an ancient village that still practice paganism in a modern day world. Stonewylde is so believable, you could really believe it’s possible for a village to survive where everything is done in the traditional way and the villagers still practice the old religions.
Anyone with any interest in pagan festivals, the history of the green man, and a little bit of traditional earth magic will love this novel. The festivals are all described beautifully, and it would be such an idyllic place if not for Magus and his greed.
I hate Magus with a fiery passion—which shows what a well rounded character he is. He’s not a two dimensional villain, he has as much depth as Sylvie and Yul; he’s not only charming and clever, he is cunning, selfish and very good looking. He knows how to use it all to his advantage, winning villagers to his side. He gives them just enough to keep them willing and happy to please him, but only a selected few can see what he’s like underneath. And that is one of the reasons he’s such a brilliant character.
I love to hate him, as the saying goes.
As with 'Magus of Stonewylde', “Moondance of Stonewylde” is left on somewhat of a cliff hanger—small questions are answered; there is a very good build up to the books conclusion, but the overall plot arch is not finished, and if I ever want to know how Sylvie and Yul fare, I’ll have to read Solstice of Stonewylde.
A fantastic read. I really felt like I knew the characters in this book, and I felt their pain and hopelessness at the situation they were in. I felt anger, worry, frustration; all manner of emotions as I was reading this. I still feel it, because their journey hasn’t finished yet, and I have no idea what will happen to them next. If a book can make me feel so passionately, I know it must be good.(less)
As a big fan of Maggie Stiefvater's 'Wolves of Mercy Falls' series I was really excited...moreGuest reviewed by Sarah for Book Chick City. 7/10 on the blog.
As a big fan of Maggie Stiefvater's 'Wolves of Mercy Falls' series I was really excited about reading "The Scorpio Races". Although the books couldn't be more different in terms of the worlds Maggie has created they both have her beautifully descriptive style and you are fully pulled into the story. I did find that "The Scorpio Races" was a bit slow to get started, I struggled a little to get into the story and found the mythology of the sea horses confusing at first but once it gets going I was completely gripped.
Maggie has created something totally unique and I loved that it was so different to anything else I've ever read - flesh eating sea horses? Yes, that's something I've not come across before! These aren't seahorses in the traditional sense - no curly tails here - they look like normal land horses but live in the water, only coming out to feed. Every November the horses start to come ashore in Thisby and the islanders are at risk of death or serious injury if one of the horses find them. Although they live in fear of the Cappaill Uisce they also celebrate them and hold an annual race across the cliffs and beach. People come from all around the world to watch the races and the participants face all kinds of dangers, even trying to capture a horse to race on could cost them their lives. The chances of surviving to the finishing line are low but the rewards for the winner makes it worth the risk.
I have to admit that I found it frustrating trying to figure out the pronunciation of the Cappaill Uisce (said COPple Ooshka) / Capall Uisce (said CAPple ISHka). For the first half of the book I was confused every time I came across the words and had to flick back to the pronunciation guide at the front of the book to remind myself how they were said. I was especially confused every time the word Uisce was used on it's own - was it supposed to be Ooshka or ISHka? In the end I gave up and just mentally pronounced them they way they are spelt, after that I found reading the book much easier as I wasn't thrown out of the story every time they were used. That would be my major niggle with the story though and probably wouldn't bother most people as much as it bugged me.
The story follows two of the competitors in the race. First we have Sean Kendrick who is an expert when it comes to the Cappaill Uisce and four time winner of the races. His horse Corr is known to be the fastest one on the island and he is easily the favourite to win the race again this time. Sean has very good reason to enter the race, he is hoping to win his freedom and desperately wants Corr to belong to him. I loved Sean from the beginning and found it fascinating watching him training the water horses, he was the island's expert and someone that everyone turned to whenever there was a problem with any of the horses. Sean was the only one who seemed able to calm the horses down and he really had a magical connection with them.
The other competitor we spend time with is Puck (Kate) Connolly, orphaned when her parents were killed by water horses she has every reason to avoid the races but due to circumstances beyond her control she feels like the only way to keep whats left of her family together is to enter. Puck is such a brave and plucky character that you can't help but warm to her even though you're thinking she must be crazy to even consider racing. She is the first woman ever to enter the race and this doesn't go down well with the other riders but she stands up for herself and refuses to be pushed aside. There is a sweet and slow building romance between Puck and Sean but I loved that this didn't take over the whole story, the focus was definitely on the horses and the race.
Anyone who has ever had an interested in horses or riding will love the descriptions in the story. It really is beautifully written and I felt like I was riding along the cliffs with Puck and Sean as they were training for the race. It was easy to picture the island and although the idea of flesh eating horses is terrifying they are strangely beautiful animals in my imagination.
If you're a fan of Maggie Stiefvater or have a passion for horses then I would definitely recommend reading "The Scorpio Races". It makes a refreshing change to read a stand alone novel (I seem to be starting so many different series at the moment!) but I would happily re-visit Puck and Sean's world if Maggie did decide to write a sequel. (less)
There aren’t enough young adult fantasy novels, so I was really excited when I received this...moreReviewed by Andrea for Book Chick City. 9/10 on the blog.
There aren’t enough young adult fantasy novels, so I was really excited when I received this book to review. For one, it looks like it could be just as at home in the adult section of a book store as it could in the young adult section, and secondly the blurb gave me enough information to be intrigued. I really was not disappointed in “Huntress”.
Taisin is a gifted student, studying to become a Sage. She has powerful sight and can see into the future. She sees Kaede in her future, and doesn’t understand the feelings she had when she watched the vision of Kaede fade into the distance.
Kaede is the daughter of the chancellor to the king, and has no gift with magic whatsoever. She only got into the school because of her father, and although she excels at the practical, she knows she will never be a Sage like Taisin. In fact, if her father has his way she will be married off as soon as she finishes her studies.
Taisin knows her vision is related to the change in the seasons, or the lack of change. This coincides with an invitation for the king to visit the fey; an invitation like that hasn’t been given in centuries, and so Taisin and Kaede journey with the king’s son, Con to visit the fey, and find out what the weird creatures that keep appearing are, and if they have anything to do with the unchanging seasons.
Taisin remembers how she felt towards Kaede in her vision and tries her hardest to stay away from her. If she is to become a sage then she has to be celibate; there is no room for love in her world. But they are drawn together slowly, gently…
First of all, this is a fantasy novel that explores magic, the fantastic, and what could happen if the atmosphere changed so abruptly. Crops stop growing, food becomes scarce, people start to panic. The love story is secondary, but no less important. It adds depth, and character to both Taisin and Kaede. You can’t help but root for them, and hope against all odds that they can be together.
The fact that they’re both women is almost inconsequential. That makes this novel even better. I admit, I have a weakness for LGBT novels; mix that with the fantasy genre and I’m in my element. I had no idea that this would be, not only a fantasy novel, but also lesbian interest. It’s all very subtle and tastefully done, and done in such a way where the sex of the characters isn’t as important as the love they feel.
This aspect of the novel could have easily taken over; it could have been sensationalised and even classed as lesbian fiction instead, but I’m glad it’s not. I’m glad that the sexual preference of the characters didn’t overtake the plot, at the same time I almost wished there was more of a hint of it on the blurb of the book, so to appeal to those in categories that are often overlooked.
So, if you want to read a brilliant fantasy novel full of magic, fey, with a brilliant world and a great plot, where the main characters happen to be the same sex--and fall in love with each other--then this is the novel for you.
I really love that a YA novel outside of the norm has been published by such a well known publisher and treated like, and given the same amount of attention and backing as more run of the mill novels. This needs to happen more often!
I was looking forward to reading this novel from the offset, it’s thoughtful, understanding and it slowly builds in pace, it raises issues such as same sex relationships in the safety of a fantasy novel, and it’s hard not to feel the love growing between them. Taisin and Kaede are easy to identify with and I couldn’t help but love them, and worry about them. I only found upon finishing it that it’s the prequel to Ash, but it definitely stands strong alone, and I urge anyone to read it whether they’ve read Ash or not.(less)
I have been looking forward to reading "Darkness Becomes Her" ever since I saw it on Goodreads a while back, and while it didn'...more7/10 on Book Chick City
I have been looking forward to reading "Darkness Becomes Her" ever since I saw it on Goodreads a while back, and while it didn't knock my socks off it was a really good read.
Ari Selkirk is seventeen and after being passed from one foster home to another for most of her childhood decides to find out about her birth mother. After visiting the doctor at Rocquemore House and being told that her mother had committed suicide shortly after she was born, Ari decides she needs to know more. The doctor gives her a box filled with her mother's things including a letter addressed to her.
The letter is one of the aspects of the plot I couldn't buy into. Ari reads the letter and her mother warns her to run. That's it? Her mother writes a letter but instead of telling her daughter what, why and when, all she gets across is "run"! I couldn't get on board with this. It feels as though the letter was just used as a spring board for the entire story, so Ari could investigate etc, I hate letters like this, whether they're in books or films. I always end up irritated as I think if they wanted to let their loved ones know about the dangers facing them they would surely just tell it straight and not in a series of riddles that they have to work out, which only buries them deeper in what they were being warned against. Just silly.
However, it does the trick as Ari decides to head out to New 2, which used to be New Orleans. Thirteen years ago, two hurricanes hit New Orleans devastating it. But instead of doing what is usually done after a natural disaster, the government sells the city it to a bunch of families for a few billion dollars - really? Not sure why the government would do this...it doesn't seem particularly plausible. Also, the hurricanes that hit the city were described as category four and not five, which is the most destructive hurricane there is. I would have found the selling of the city more believable if it was destroyed by nuclear means and was now a nuclear wasteland where nothing could live or grow for tens of years, but weather? It just didn't seem realistic to me.
But I ignored these two aspects and just followed Ari's journey and it is an interesting one. Ari is a great character and a fab heroine, full of grit, kick-arse moves and oodles of sass, which is sadly a rarity in paranormal YA as this is the kind of character I love reading about.
"Ari!" Sebastian stood on the sidewalk, holding up his hands in a 'What's going on?' gesture. ...I mimicked the gesture with probably more sarcasm than he deserved, and then jogged over, ignoring his questioning look and heading to the main entrance. He caught up to me at the doors. "You should wait here." A small laugh escaped my lips as the doors slid open. "You've got a lot to learn about me. I don't wait in the wings."
Ari uses coarse language (she should wash her mouth out with soap!) and has quite a serious personality, so when I read this next quote it really made me smile.
I was pretty sure I knew what I looked like: a cartoon hamster in the headlights. Totally not what I expected him to say, especially after I'd just implied he was one of the bad guys. "Uh..." What the hell was I supposed to say to that? "Okay" A grin split Sebastian's face, slicing two dimples into his cheeks. Holy Mary Mother of God. I actually stopped breathing for a second.
It made me smile, firstly because it was nice to hear Ari say something like this as she had been so serious up until this point and secondly, because I thought exactly the same thing. Sebastian is smokin'. There was something about his character I liked from the first moment he entered Ari's life, so I know where she's coming from... ;)
These are the type of moments that made the book for me despite the negative points I've mentioned and gives "Darkness Becomes Her" its huge potential. The combination of vampires and witches with greek gods is unique to me and was exciting to read.
I did find that everything happened a bit too quickly though, including the romance between Ari and Sebastian. Her time in New 2 barely spans two days and yet so much happens and is revealed that it made the novel seem a little shallow, there wasn't enough time to really develop the story or the characters in just 273 pages.
"Darkness Becomes Her" is an exciting read with a great lead heroine and although the story wasn't as edgy as Ari, it was still an enjoyable read. It's an interesting mix of urban fantasy and greek mythology which has incredible potential to be a fabulous series. I hope the next book will be a little longer to allow things to play out at a more realistic pace and for the characters to grow and mature, but I can't wait to read what happens next...(less)