Posted in fantasy, review, young adult

Coral And Bone – Tiffany Daune

“Every day is filled with impossibility, until you have chosen to see the possible. Once you make the shift to see, life is a less frightening journey.”

 

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Blurb: “Halen knows the sparks igniting under her fingertips are dangerous. She has spent her entire life trying to quell the tingly feelings that make her destroy things, but now that she is back in Rockaway Beach, where she watched her father drown, the flames have become impossible to tame. Halen is trying to hold on, but when she is thrust into a mysterious new world, the underwater realm of Elosia, she unravels the secrets of her past and can’t help but ignite.”

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Coral and Bone follows a girl called Halen who moved back to Rockaway Beach a few years after the death of her father. Halen’s mother hopes returning will bring them solace and the strength to move on with their lives, but Halen has started hearing things that no one else can and the ability to produce sparks from her fingers. When a stranger rescues Halen from a swarm of mermaids, she learns more about her life than she never knew possible.

There are many books I read where the characters outweigh the plot and this is one of them. While the plot is fascinating and unravelled in ways I never could’ve predicted, Halen is very much the driving force of this novel. At the start of the books there is an illustration of her which just made the character feel more real in my mind. The actions and choices she made throughout the story felt like ones a real person would make and I found it so incredibly easy to latch onto her along this adventure.

The world and backstories were delivered through dialogue which stopped the book from falling into info-dump territory which happens all too easily in fantasy/folklore based novels. Also I am a complete sucker for the “training trope” so when there were scenes where Halen was learning to control and harness her powers I was practically jumping up and down with excitement.

The only downside is that frankly the mermaids weren’t around often enough. I would have loved to see more of them.

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Posted in fantasy, review, young adult

Mist And Whispers – C.M.Lucas

“Is it so far out there to believe there could be another world alongside ours? Think, how many stories have we read that have taken place in other worlds?”

 

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Blurb: “In the West-English town of Little Wolf Green, Scott’s bookshop is about to close down. Convinced the bookshop holds the key to her mother’s identity, sixteen year old Anya Piddling vows to serve Scott’s, whatever the cost. When four books of magic and myth take the world by storm, Anya begins a journey to discover the truth about the author, known only as the Weaver. Followed closely by her friends, and one surly, bitter ex-boyfriend, Anya soon realises a whole new world awaits: a world gone very wrong, with maddening whispers in the forest, magical winged kings and a dragon-boy that understands her, inside and out. But this world need a saviour… and everyone is looking at her.”

The story follows Anya who has obtained a job working at her favourite bookshop, Scott’s. She struggles with her identity as she lives in a foster home and her surname is that of the home’s founder. A rival bookshop makes a fascinating discovery of several handwritten books and the name of the author is unknown; all they have to go on is “by the weaver” written on the cover. The books were found in an abandoned manor house in North Yorkshire and the books sell 10 million copies in the space of eight weeks. The result of this puts Scott’s in turmoil; if things don’t change quickly, the shop will shut.  Anya then vows to find the other books by the weaver in the hopes of returning Scott’s to glory. Her adventures leave her not just to an abandoned house, but to another world.

I feel the need to put a disclaimer that my review is more of my experience while reading this book, than it is of the book itself.

I really enjoyed the start and getting to learn how Anya thinks and the conflict with the other bookstore had me hooked. However, after the characters ended up in the new magic world, this was where I started to feel uneasy. I expected this book to go a certain way and (I know this sounds silly but) when it did feel a little let down. It had the feel of Peter, Edmund, Susan and Lucy from the Narnia series but when they come back to the world for the second time. There was no adjustment period from any of the characters and it seemed like they were coming back home in a sense. As much as I yearn for some fantasy worlds to be real, I’d still panic a bit if any of them became my new reality.

I found myself skim-reading large sections of text from that point onwards.

I loved the relationship between Anya and Lorcan – the dragon boy – and that was the main thing that kept me powering through.
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Posted in fantasy, review, young adult

Inherited – Freedom Matthews

“And thus, in one short sobbing sentence she had unearthed my entire ethos. Love killed. Perhaps not literally, but metaphorically.”

 

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Blurb: “If saying ‘I love you’ meant death, would you still say it? The Wilted Rose, of faery-tale and folklore, is a pirate ship filled with unfortunate souls – each forbidden to love. One such soul is Valencia ‘Lennie’ Roux. Raised in a brothel and an heir to a curse, Lennie never expected to pique the interest of any man. Yet with the arrival of vivid-eyed Nathaniel, she is torn between wanting to know him better and fearing what that knowledge would mean. With Nathaniel bringing the crew’s total to six, The Wilted Rose sets off in search of the remaining two heirs. They hope that in reuniting, they will convince the faery sorceress responsible for the curse, to end it. However lurking beneath the water is a long standing enemy of The Wilted Rose; who is determined to thwart their quest and bring down its leaders. Together the eight heirs fight for survival, friendship, and love.”

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

The story follows Lennie who lives aboard a pirate ship named The Wilted Rose. She is the only woman in a five person crew all of which are victims of a curse, passed down from their parents. They are forbidden to love and doing so means death. Together, the crew searches for the remaining three heirs (identifiable by a mark on their wrist) so that they can track down the sorceress in the hopes she lifts the curse. Having a ship that steers itself and does all the searching for them makes things slightly easier. The crew quickly becomes comprised of six people after the arrival of Nathaniel Davenport-Lee, a handsome man who could prove a problem for Lennie.

The first thing I noticed about this book was that the writing style is a lot better than in the prequel Into The Forest. I got the real sense while reading this that Freedom really knows the world, the characters and every detail that makes up this story. I could really believe in what was happening. Freedom has a truly wonderful style and I loved her choice of words and phrases.

While the sorceress seems like the initial villain, I felt that the character of Hadnaloy, the sea witch, was a lot more threatening and possibly the most fascinating character I stumbled across on this adventure.

Given that the central theme is love because of the curse, I thought the romance was a bit forced. It’s often predictable in the YA genre but it would have been nice if there was a slower build up to it.

It was interesting to learn about the characters and see how they fitted into a confined environment as a lot of the story takes place on the ship. My favourite scene is when the crew are all sat together telling the story of how they got their marks and how they found The Wilted Rose. It just added more depth to the characters and cemented the world and the characters and their personalities. Plus, it warmed my heart a little.

This is a wonderful story about love, pirates and adventure that you simply don’t want to miss!

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Posted in fantasy, review, romance, young adult

Into The Forest – Freedom Matthews

“Ravenzara became one of us, winged and powerful, the heir to our beloved forest. It is her turn to join the ranks and become the sorceress she was created to be.”

 

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Blurb: “Before the Wilted Rose, the pirates who sailed upon it, or even a curse, there was a young faery who lived amongst the dense tress of the forest… a princess among a tribe of fantastical creatures. On the day of Ravenzara’s coronation as leader of the fae, her sister bestowed upon her two things: – a rose and a curse. No good shall come if you should give your heart away.”

Into The Forest is a prequel short story to the full length novel Inherited which is due to be released July 2016. I met Freedom Matthews at a book launch not too long ago and she is literally one of the loveliest people. I tried to get as much information about her upcoming releases and she was quite tight-lipped. Now I finally have an insight into the world with this story. So the joke’s on you now Freedom! HA!

The main thing you need to know is that there are faeries. I adore anything with faeries in so I was quite biased when I picked this up. The protagonist, Ravenzara, is preparing for her coronation following on from the death of her mother. Her rule is short lived when the pirates make an appearance on the island. They are wounded and many of them are close to death.  She is reunited with her lover Gaspard and together they sail off for many adventures (with the approval of her people of course!)

My favourite scene was a moment when Ravenzara is looking around a cabin on the ship and she replaces all the dust with flowers. It was such a beautiful scene described in such an elegant  way that I could see the event unfolding before my eyes as if I was in the room with her.

There’s sibling rivalry in the form of Tatiana; a character I liked the most and have discovered will play a bigger role in the sequel to Inherited.  There’s magic, faeries, pirates, exciting worlds. She’s not too happy about Ravenzara’s crowning, believing that it should have been her instead. I love seeing how kingdoms work and the kind of ideals they subscribe to so it was nice to not only get an insight into that but also see two different worlds collide together.

While I do talk to Freedom Matthews quite often, it would be unfair to only talk about the good (which there is plenty of). I’m aware that Freedom had a tight word count for this story but I felt like some of the description was lacking in places.  It was disorientating.  I also feel like this was out of order in the sense of it read like you already knew the characters so didn’t need that initial introduction to them and their relationships. It seems like something that would have worked better coming out after Inherited however, I have heard from another reviewer who has read Inherited that there are a lot of references you only get if you have read this short story. So I’ll be able to form more of an opinion on that once I’ve read Inherited. 

Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed Into The Forest and it has me very much interested in the world and I cannot wait to read her new book. Freedom Matthews has an astounding ability to create incredible worlds that I cannot wait to experience more of. She is definitely one to keep an eye on!

 

 

This release is ebook only.

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Posted in fantasy, review, romance

Gabriel And The Swallows – Esther Dalseno

“I see just a little girl. A girl who happens to have swallows wings.”

 

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Blurb:

“A lonely farm boy.
A girl with swallow’s wings.
An ancient city buried in a volcano.
A mystery old as blood and bone.

There is more to Gabriel than the life he’s ashamed of – the son of peasant winemakers, bullied relentlessly on account of his disabled mother. For Gabriel has a secret: the elaborate dream world he descends into at night – a grandiose, vivid existence – is becoming more real than his waking life.
Everything changes for Gabriel when he rescues a wounded creature – a miraculous girl with swallow’s wings – from the voracious pursuit of Alfio Gallo, a dangerous old enemy. 
Wrestling with manhood whilst beckoned by ancient rites and foreign lands, Gabriel is about to make a deadly decision that changes the course of life as he knows it…as long as he can decide which reality he’s in.”

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

The story follows Gabriel, a young peasant boy who lives on a vineyard in Italy where his father works too hard and his mother has some quirks. Gabriel experiences strange dreams that seem to mirror life and often leave him confused between what is the dream and what is reality. One day, Gabriel brings home an injured creature covered in blood. He soon discovers that what he found is in fact a girl with swallow wings. His mother becomes very worried and locks herself away, believing the girl has been created by God or the devil.

Alfio Gallo, a dangerous enemy from another farm, comes asking about a falcon he shot down that he thinks landed on their property. Gabriel manages to make him leave without seeing the girl. As time passes, it becomes too risky for Volatile (the swallow girl) to stay and she decides to leave, promising she will return in time for Carnevale, a grand masked European tradition.

That’s as much in terms of plot as I can give you without really spoiling it for you, and the beauty really is in the discovery.

One thing I really liked about this book was the setting. Through the elegant descriptions given, it just seemed like a beautiful, tranquil place to be, I felt like I was really there. I’ve never read a book set in Italy before so on a personal level that was a nice touch.

This book gave me serious Ava Lavender vibes. While Gabriel And The Swallows has fantasy elements to it, the story is very slow. But this is in no way whatsoever a bad thing. Gabriel is a boy who lives a perfectly normal life, despite having this strange girl hiding away in his home. He gets bullied, had failed relationships, goes to college. Volatile is just an interesting secret part.  While she does consume a lot of his thoughts, the story isn’t entirely centred on what goes on with her and them as a pair.

A character that really stood out for me was Orlando Khan. His friendship was beautiful to witness, especially when Gabriel tries to explain that his mother is “basically retarded” and Orlando just shrugs it off like it isn’t a big deal. That’s a true friend right there.

The writing was lyrical; almost like music in the way it swept me off my feet and tugged on my heartstrings.

Apart from Truthwitch, I haven’t been affected by a novel this much in such a long time. I have a feeling this book will stay with me for years to come.

This is the first in a duology.
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Posted in Dystopian, review, young adult

New World: Rising – Jennifer Wilson

 

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Blurb: “Since witnessing her parents’ murders at the age of eleven, Phoenix’s only purpose in life has been to uphold her mother’s dying words- to be strong and survive. But surviving outside of The Walls- outside of The Sanctuary- is more like a drawn-out death sentence. A cruel and ruthless city, Tartarus is run by the Tribes whose motto is simple, “Join or die.” 

Refusing to join and determined to live, Phoenix fights to survive in this savage world. But who can she trust, when no one can be trusted? Not even herself.”

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
When I started reading this book, I was initially struck by the unique and interesting way the groups of people were showcased. Rather than drowning the reader with information in a prologue, or first chapter, the groups were shown through sketches.

 

As shown from the images above, it provides a handy reference guide to go back to if you’re confused by any of the tribes. So let me break them down for you.

Wraiths: “the ghosts of the city”, seen collecting victim’s left hands

Ravagers: Hunt people for sport.

Adroits: smart group, set traps that result in high payout, low physical involvement.

Jaciturns – deceptive, have spies in other tribes

Scavengers: thieves

Colons: filthy STOLE FROM HER PARENTS

See? Not as interesting as the beautiful images is it?

The story follows Phoenix who gets through every day with her mother’s last words echoing in her ears: “be strong, survive.” And that’s what Phoenix intends to do. She holds a deep hatred for the Scavengers, who stole her parent’s last belongings, and the ravagers who took her parents lives. She is alone in this incredible dystopian world that Jennifer Wilson has created.

Through Phoenix, the world is explored as she does everything she can to survive. Science changed the world for better and for worse. The wall was built and The Sanctuary created. Those seeking equality and security were welcomed to The Sanctuary and those who sought power were left to Tartarus (which has Greek Mythology connections as Tartarus was the prison for titans).

One night Phoenix travels to a library. While most steal the books to burn them for warmth, Phoenix actually reads them, until she is interrupted by the sound of ravagers and they can hear her. She manages to escape with damage to her leg, but at least she’s alive. She runs outside to look for a safe place only to hear the hunting call of the ravagers. Then she hears screaming – a child screaming. She tries to save her and is captured.

Phoenix is sure her captors are the ravagers although this turns out not to be the case. They call themselves The Subversive and they want answers.

Phoenix was successful in saving the child but it turns out that she is a mute so cannot give The Subversive what they want. After being probed with questions Phoenix has little interest in answering, The Subversive ask her for her father’s notebook so they can unlock the secrets of how she has managed to survive.

The first thing I am going to say about New World: Rising is that a lot of the content is very mature. I was actually shocked by some of what I read purely because I didn’t expect it. So if you’re quite young, I would probably wait a few years before you pick this one up.

Phoenix is your typical dystopian lead that you would categorise heavily in the “strong female” list however, what I loved about this character was that she was flawed. She wakes up every day from night terrors stemming from witnessing her parents deaths. She just felt raw and real to me.

Another aspect I loved was Mouse (the name given to the girl Phoenix saved). She is at a disadvantage as she cannot speak yet the beautiful thing is that she wasn’t cast aside for it. Phoenix helped develop a way for them to communicate using a sign language book and it was really refreshing to see that kind of dialogue taking place.

In contrast, I did have a few issues with this book. The place The Subversive reside is described as a “military bunker” and a lot of the descriptions of it and the reasoning behind The Subversive hiding reminded me of District 13 from Mockingjay and it just felt a bit samey.

The other issue was the romance. I am just so bored with unnecessary romance lately. If it doesn’t add anything to the story, then it doesn’t need to be there. Personally, if I was going off to a war the last thing I’d do is start smooching someone.

These issues aren’t as much with this particular book itself but with reoccurring themes that a spreading out over this genre. And I’m just getting tired of it.

 

All in all, this book was an enjoyable read and I’d like to give a shoutout to Ben over at OfTomes publishing who sent me a copy!
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