Book Breakup: The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison

The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie HarrisonAilsbet loves nothing more than music; tall and red-haired, she’s impatient with the artifice and ceremony of her father’s court. Marissa adores the world of her island home and feels she has much to offer when she finally inherits the throne from her wise, good-tempered father. The trouble is that neither princess has the power–or the magic–to rule alone, and if the kingdoms can be united, which princess will end up ruling the joint land? For both, the only goal would seem to be a strategic marriage to a man who can bring his own brand of power to the throne. But will either girl be able to marry for love? And can either of these two princesses, rivals though they have never met, afford to let the other live?

For some reason, I got my authors mixed up when I requested this on NetGalley. I vaguely thought this was a new novel by Eva Ibbotson. After thinking Ms Ibbotson’s writing wasn’t anywhere near as interesting as I remembered, I realised my mistake.

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Book Review: A Witch in Love by Ruth Warburton

I was given A Witch in Love for review a long time ago, so I have to apologise to both the author and Hachette for taking so long to get around to reading this.

Anna still finds it hard to believe that Seth loves her and has vowed to suppress her powers, no matter what.

But magic – like love – is uncontrollable. It spills out with terrible consequences, and soon, Anna is being hunted.

*Some spoilers for A Witch in Winter

As the title suggests, there is a bigger focus on romance in this book, and that’s probably why I didn’t enjoy A Witch in Love quite as much as its predecessor. I had hoped the books (and the characters) would move on from Anna’s love spell but we’re left rehashing much of the same stuff and it all gets too melodramatic and angsty for me. Readers rooting for these two will love this book but I was never a fan of Seth and Anna. Seth is far too perfect and consequently dull, while Anna turns rather needy and pathetic whenever it comes to Seth. These two are just way too wrapped up in each other and I don’t feel the chemistry.

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Book Review: Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

Touch of Power

I’ve yet to read all of Ms Snyder’s work, but I’m starting to wonder if she’ll ever be able to surpass her first novel, Poison Study. Like many of her readers, I can’t help but compare her later fantasy books with her first one. And in the case of Touch of Power, I couldn’t help but feel like I’d read it before. Characters, relationships, the basic storyline, even specific scenes, were all very familiar. Touch of Power is a bit like reading an early version of Poison Study, one that’s nowhere near as well written or developed.

Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan assumes their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Territories, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life…

Touch of Power definitely has an intriguing set up: fifteen kingdoms decimated by a plague. A Healer’s Guild that has been completely destroyed, its Healers hunted down and executed, a school where future leaders are sent to hone their skills in diplomacy and manipulation, magicians, death eating plants (a subplot I still don’t quite understand). What’s disappointing is that we learn little else beyond this. Touch of Power is the first book in a trilogy, so I wish more time had been set aside to allow the reader to actually experience some of these places instead of learning of them through a brief character conversation. The world building in this book is pretty vague and light on detail.

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Book Review: Charmfall by Chloe Neill

CharmfallA while back I was sent Firespell and Charmfall for review, books one and three of a series. I wasn’t overly impressed by Firespell and unfortunately, the same points I flagged in that review are still present in Charmfall.

High school can be a battlefield, but for Lily Parker, surviving at St. Sophia’s School for Girls is a matter of life and death…

Protecting Chicago from the dark side can be an exhausting job, especially when you’re a junior. So when the girls of St. Sophia’s start gearing up for Sneak, their fall formal, Lily decides to join in on some good, old-fashioned party prep—even if it means not giving demons, vampires and the twisted magic users known as Reapers her undivided attention.

But when a Reaper infiltrates the school, Lily doesn’t forget what she’s sworn to protect. She reaches deep into herself to draw out her magic—and finds that it’s gone. And it turns out she’s not alone. A magical blackout has slammed through paranormal Chicago, and no one knows what—or who—caused it. But Lily knows getting back her magic is worth the risk of going behind enemy lines…

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Book Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

I was left with very mixed feelings about The Diviners by Libba Bray. It took me nearly two months of boredom, frustration and annoyance to get through the first half, and about an afternoon to read the second half. The only reason I persevered was out of stubbornness.

And I’m glad that I did in the end. Somewhere in this gigantic tomb of a book is an interesting story and Bray clearly has a very definite plan for this series. Her writing is evocative and The Diviners is seeped in an eerie atmosphere, not to mention the sheer amount of research that has gone into this book.

It’s 1920s New York City. It’s flappers and Follies, jazz and gin. It’s after the war but before the depression. And for certain group of bright young things its the opportunity to party like never before.

For Evie O’Neill, it’s escape. She’s never fit in in small town Ohio and when she causes yet another scandal, she’s shipped off to stay with an uncle in the big city. But far from being exile, this is exactly what she’s always wanted: the chance to show how thoroughly modern and incredibly daring she can be.

But New York City isn’t about just jazz babies and follies girls. It has a darker side. Young women are being murdered across the city. And these aren’t crimes of passion. They’re gruesome. They’re planned. They bear a strange resemblance to an obscure group of tarot cards. And the New York City police can’t solve them alone.

Evie wasn’t just escaping the stifling life of Ohio, she was running from the knowledge of what she could do. She has a secret. A mysterious power that could help catch the killer – if he doesn’t catch her first.

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Book Review: A Witch in Winter by Ruth Warburton

Publisher: Hodder

Published: 5th January 2012

Format: Paperback

Pages: 346

Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, YA

Recommended Reading Age: 16+

Rating: 7.5/10

Amazon/Goodreads

Anna Winterson doesn’t know she’s a witch and would probably mock you for believing in magic, but after moving to the small town of Winter with her father, she learns more than she ever wanted to about power. When Anna meets Seth, she is smitten, but when she enchants him to love her, she unwittingly amplifies a deadly conflict between two witch clans and splits her own heart in two. She wants to love Seth, to let him love her – but if it is her magic that’s controlling his passion, then she is as monstrous as the witch clan who are trying to use her amazing powers for their own gain.

I have always, always loved stories about witches and witchcraft, especially historical novels about witchcraft. When I realised A Witch in Winter was a contemporary, I was momentarily a little disappointed, but Warburton creates quite a rich, historical atmosphere with her setting that there was no chance of this becoming too Sabrina-like. I like my modern-day witches to have a strong connection to the past and A Witch in Winter definitely achieved that. Continue reading

Book Breakup: Sword of Light by Katherine Roberts

 

Sword of Light by Katherine RobertsI feel particularly bad about not finishing this, since Templar kindly sent it to me for review, and it seems like the kind of book I probably would have enjoyed as a kid. I’m not going to rate it, because if I did based on my own enjoyment it would pretty low and I don’t feel that is exactly fair, given that I not only didn’t finish reading this, but that I’m also roughly fifteen years older than the intended audience.

I have read and thoroughly enjoyed a lot of junior fiction, but this one, for whatever reason, just didn’t click for me. The writing was just too simple and I found the characters un-engaging. Unfortunately I couldn’t warm to the heroine. She was the kind of character who is incredibly naive yet thinks she knows best and basically causes a lot of bother for everyone else along the way. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t. In this case, I found her bossy and difficult to like. This is quite a long book for its age group and I personally found the story slow going.

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Book Review: Shattered Dreams by Ellie James

Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin

Published: 6th December 2011 (expected)

Format: e-book

Pages: 352

Genre: Paranormal, YA

Recommended Reading Age: 16+

Rating: 3/10

Amazon/Goodreads

‘Sixteen-year-old Trinity Monsour wants nothing more than to live a normal life. But that isn’t as easy as it seems. Trinity is different. She is special. She sees visions, and for those she’s seen, it’s already too late.

Trinity arrives on her aunt’s doorstep in New Orleans with virtually no knowledge of her mysterious heritage. She begins settling into life at a new school and even starts making friends. But all too quickly her dreams accelerate; twisted, terrifying visions of a girl locked in a dark room. And when the head cheerleader, Jessica, goes missing, Trinity knows she has no choice but to step forward with what she’s seen.

But people believe that Trinity has information about Jessica’s disappearance not because of a dream, but because she is involved. She is kind-of dating Jessica’s ex-boyfriend, Chase, and Jessica did pull a nasty prank on Trinity. Revenge seems like the likeliest scenario.

Nothing prepares Trinity for the dark odyssey that ensues while searching for Jessica, including the surprising romance she finds with Chase, or the shocking truths she learns, not just about the girl who has gone missing, but the past that has been hidden from her.’

First of all, I feel I should point out how misleading this cover is, it really doesn’t reflect the dark tone the book was aiming for at all.

Shattered Dreams is one of those books you finish reading and think, what the hell happened!? If this book has taught me anything, it’s that I am obviously far too stubborn for my own good (and quite possibly a glutton for punishment), because I made myself read the whole thing even though I wanted to put it down after the first few chapters. Continue reading

Book Review: Plain Kate by Erin Bow

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books

Published: 1st September 2010

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 314

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

Recommended Reading Age: 12+

Rating: 9/10

Amazon/Goodreads

‘Plain Kate lives in a world of superstitions and curses, where a song can heal a wound and a shadow can work deep magic. As the wood-carver’s daughter, Kate held a carving knife before a spoon, and her wooden talismans are so fine that some even call her “witch-blade”: a dangerous nickname in a country where witches are hunted and burned in the square. 

For Kate and her village have fallen on hard times. Kate’s father has died, leaving her alone in the world. And a mysterious fog now covers the countryside, ruining crops and spreading fear of hunger and sickness. The townspeople are looking for someone to blame, and their eyes have fallen on Kate. 

Enter Linay, a stranger with a proposition: In exchange for her shadow, he’ll give Kate the means to escape the angry town, and what’s more, he’ll grant her heart’s wish. It’s a chance for her to start over, to find a home, a family, a place to belong. But Kate soon realizes she can’t live shadowless forever — and that Linay’s designs are darker than she ever dreamed.’

So I’ll admit, I bought this book purely because of the cover (isn’t it just lovely) and because its been a while since I read a really good children’s fantasy book that adults could equally enjoy.

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Mini Book Review: Crushed by K.C Blake

Publisher: Self-published

Published: 13th July 2011

Format: e-book

Genre: Paranormal, Romance, YA

Recommended Reading Age: 16+

Rating: 6/10

Amazon/Goodreads/Smashwords

‘The Noah sisters rule Titan High with their beauty, brains, and magical powers. 

Each year they play a secret game: Crushed. The girls pick their targets carefully and blow enchanted dust into the boy’s faces, charming them, but this year Kristen makes a grave mistake. She chooses the wrong boy and almost dies that same day. Coincidence? Maybe. 

But something isn’t quite right about Zach Bevian. He doesn’t behave like a boy who’s been Crushed. He goes from hot to cold, from looking at her with contempt to asking her out on a date. She doesn’t know what to think. Does he hate her or is he truly falling for her? Is he trying to kill her, or is he trying to save her?’

Crushed is a fun, lighthearted read and despite it’s predictability, I enjoyed it. Continue reading